Cat's Bits for the Week of July 8 - July 14
Upcoming Events & Holidays
July 8: Celtic Tree Month of Holly begins
July 19: New Moon at 12:24 am EDT
July 22: Sun enters Leo
Aug 1: Full Moon at 11:27 pm EDT
Aug 1: Lughnasadh
Aug 5: Celtic Tree Month of Hazel begins
Thought of the Week:
Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Article for the Week:
The Way to Happiness
B Y G E O R G E C A T L I N , P H. D.
Five Simple Steps toward Inner Peace
WE HAVE TRIED to answer three important questions: What are we doing here? How can we optimize life's potential? And where does the spiritual path actually go? Now we can think about how to actually implement these ideas in our lives. What can we do on a daily basis that will bring us forward to real satisfaction in life?
1) Meditate. Meditation is the age-old process of bringing the mind to peace - to a state wherein the higher aspects of consciousness can begin to be experienced.
We live in a state of constant chaos. At every moment we are moving outwardly and our minds are racing inwardly.
Why? Why do we live this way? One answer is simply that we don't know any other way to be. We are trained in action and rewarded for it. We know almost nothing of peace.
To learn something about inner peace we have to calm down. We have to somehow slow the pace of our lives. We have to bring our minds and bodies to rest - even for a brief period. Then we will begin to sense new possibilities in life. Then we will begin to see that action is not the only state of being. indeed action is a choice because we can be still.
How to slow down? The physical part is the easiest. and it is difficult for many. Just sit down in a relaxed but alert position. Slumping in an easy chair is no good - you will fall asleep. Rigid posture in a straight chair can be equally problematic - this isn't military school. The position you are looking for is comfortable and alert. I find it best to sit on a desk chair - toward the front of the seat with my thighs sloping downward and feet tucked behind. Then my spine stands straight without support from the chair back. Others use the chair back. I see they often fall asleep, so I prefer to let my back hold itself up in a relaxed, balanced way. It is up to you to find a balance between ease and effort, slouch and strain. The position I've described is right between these extremes: relaxed and alert - fully awake. That is the posture to find.
Once sitting comfortably, the next step is to breathe. In and out; in and out. Of course we are all doing this all the time but usually not in a relaxed way. See if you can really relax into the breath, letting it start low in the abdomen. Breathe into your belly. Let the stomach relax. Forget (if you can just for a moment) all our society's messages about thin, tight bellies and relax. Let the abdomen go limp and breathe into it.
This is the doorway to peace. The breath really is the key to most meditation. To begin, simply try to relax and breathe. Let all the muscles go. Feel the diaphragm drawing oxygen down into your lungs by contracting naturally, with ease.
If you can do this for ten minutes twice a day, you will begin to unwind. You will begin to have a sense of the possibility of peace. You will surely leap up and resume your busy life, but for 20 minutes a day a window will be open into a very different world.
2) Walk slowly. This is a wonderful practice. See if you can get yourself to move from location to location with a degree of ease, detachment and peace.
Normally most people walk as if "getting there" was really important - so important that "getting there" - that is the process of moving - should be minimized. "Get there a.s.a.p." seems to be our motto. But why? Or better still, why not enjoy the journey?
This, you will see, is a hard practice to master. The rush to "get there" is so deep in most of us that we really can barely manage to slow down even a little.
But try. Try to simply take one slow step and then another. Feel the muscles working. See the things around you. Give yourself the experience of being in motion. It is incredible to move through space. Try it. Try to walk slowly and experience the journey.
3) Give time to others. This is another fairly difficult practice for most of us. Giving money can be done quickly - just write the check. Even giving blood doesn't take all that long. But to simply give time to appreciating another person is difficult indeed.
What do I mean by "appreciating another person?" Listening. Watching. Being with them as they do or say whatever they want.
Attention from others is incredibly healing. With it we center in our true selves. Without it we desperately seek it - often in inappropriate ways.
We cannot demand attention from others - it has to be freely given. So the best thing we can do for others is often simply to give them what we know they want: our undivided attention.
You will find this is difficult because, as you give your attention to others, your own need for attention will become conscious. It will start to emerge into awareness and you may feel lots of pain.
This is not unusual or surprising. As children almost no one received enough loving attention from their parents. We all learned one way or the other that we weren't going to have that need met, so we buried it. It has lived on below awareness all these years usually showing itself only behind masks of independence. This is a great tragedy. It has made us hard and hurried. Much of our hurry is a rush to avoid this basic need for someone's loving attention.
Give someone your attention. Feel the feelings that arise. And find ways to live with those feelings. Again, this is a demanding practice but it leads to happiness.
4) Pay off all your debts. This may seem simple, but it requires real inner strength. Debts come in lots of forms. Money is the most obvious and really the least problematic. If I owe you a hundred or a million dollars, we both know that and presumably have an agreement about a repayment schedule. That will be resolved eventually because we both are aware of the debt. The kind of debt that is more problematic is a debt of good will, a debt of love.
Despite the imperfections of our past, most of us have received a great deal from others. This may have come in the form of tangible things or it may have come in the form of intangible things. All the gifts were hopefully freely given, but maybe not. Maybe there are people out there who feel that we have "taken" things from them and now want repayment. Look for these people and see what you can do for them. It may be very little more than saying "thank you." It may be much more. But either way you will know what is hoped for and have a chance to provide it.
How will this help you slow down? Again, what is keeping us running? There are long lists in the recesses of our minds of things we need to do. Unfortunately, we don't see those lists clearly, but we know they're there. Thus, we run about doing something half consciously hoping that something will satisfy the lists in our minds. It usually doesn't. We usually do things that are, at best, distantly related to what we really need to do. So think over what you really need to do to be at peace and do it. That will help immeasurably.
5) Finally I recommend reading great spiritual texts as a means of bringing one's life to a new peace and a new freedom. Remember, freedom is one of the goals, one of the aspects of happiness. To be free we have to understand all that binds us, and this is the real subject of most spiritual texts.
Humanity is a species in bondage. We don't realize this in "free" countries, but it is still the case. We are addicted to so many thoughts and behaviors that no rational person would call us "free." What kinds of thoughts? Thoughts of personal need, inadequacy and identity come immediately to mind. From the spiritual perspective every thought is actually a "limiting choice" - both words matter. Thoughts limit what we really are (more on that later) and they are a choice; i.e. we can at least theoretically change our thoughts. But ask yourself: are you free of your thoughts about your own self-worth, the importance of your opinions, or the values you hold? "Of course not," is the honest answer for most of us. "If those thoughts changed, I would no longer be me." Precisely.
Remember we are here for change. This chapter suggests we are too busy and we will be happier if we slow down. For the final time I'll ask, "What keeps us going so fast?" Answer: thoughts that we are not free from. Getting truly free from deep thoughts is a long process and reading spiritual books is a good part of that transition. Spiritual books tend to show us life as it actually is, and that changes everything.
If you find yourself in a good spiritual bookstore, just take a look at the titles. They may not tell you much, but as you read them watch what happens inside. I predict you will begin to feel something: maybe peace but probably anxiety. These books are powerful and their goal is to make you happier than all the tropical vacations in the South Seas anyone ever had.
If you start reading spiritual books, you will expose yourself to an entirely new way of understanding yourself. That will slow you down. That will make you happy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Catlin, Ph. D., was a long-term member of the Findhorn Community in Scotland and a founding director of the School of Spiritual Science in Shutesbury, MA. He has taught and lectured on the Ageless Wisdom Teachings for over 25 years. Holdinga doctorate in psychology, he has taught in liberal arts colleges for the last 12 years. Articles by Dr. Catlin have appeared in several scholarly and spiritual publications,including Share International magazine, Social Cognition, and the Journal of Social Psychology. In his lectures and media interviews, Dr. Catlin welcomes questions and open discussion on topics such as Christianity and the New Age, Miracles and their Meaning, Signs of the Second Coming, and Predictions for a Positive Future. Dr.Catlin resides in Los Angeles with his wife, and has two daughters.
courtesy of Lisa Day rec'd 9-6-2009
[email protected] : )
Permission to share freely as long as footer is included.
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