Thoughts to fly

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Let your troubles flow
into the night,
Don’t give up the fight,
Be open to signs,
Thoughts to fly,
Heart to matter,
With joy and laughter.

What is the key to happiness? It is something I have pondered over the course of my Buddhist practice in the last 8 years. I grew up around the belief that it meant having the money, the career, the relationship and so forth. The things that society tells us we need in order to be a success and feel good about ourselves. As a female it was even harder with constant images of women that looked ‘perfect’ in the media, yet it is all an illusion and does not exist. There is no such thing as perfection but as human beings we learn to strive for it anyway even if it comes at a cost.

One of the greatest gifts I received was something that seemed like my greatest nightmare at first. When you think you have lost your good health forever and have to face your mortality at a young age it changes your perspective on life. It brings you to a place inside of yourself where you will find out what truly matters to you. Things that used to bother you seem irrelevant and insignificant.

With nothing left to lose, I was forced to look at myself in a big way and I realised that what I needed to change the most was my thoughts and particularly thoughts I had about myself. We are each on a journey and I know that mine was to somehow come back to love because the truth of the matter was for so many years I didn’t love or value myself. I grew up feeling unworthy of love and had a negative body image. It manifested itself in bouts of depression which I kept hidden from everyone.

When Buddhism came into my life, my faith really got me through some of my darkest times and thoughts. I somehow felt ashamed of the thoughts I had about not wanting to be alive anymore. It used to plague me but I soon realised it was not about not wanting to be alive but the fact I didn’t want to suffer anymore. I couldn’t see past a life that was filled with severe daily physical pain.

“Nurture your soul with positive thoughts and internal happiness
will blossom before your eyes.” (Melanie Koulouris)

I recall one of the most beautiful moments of my life during my darkest times and it remains strong in my memory because of the power it had and gave me to carry on despite the resistance and pain. My Buddhist practice involves chanting the mantra Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and when you do so it calls forth your innate potential. You harmonise at the same frequency as the Universe and tap into a place beyond form and beyond the thoughts where you think you are your body or even your mind.

There was a moment one day that I was chanting and felt this well of happiness and joy run through my entire body. It was a powerful moment because on that particular day I was in excruciating physical pain with nausea and fatigue. With all this hurt in my body it didn’t make logical sense to feel happy. On the outside with no health, job, money or relationship it looked hopeless but that life-force was awakened and I realised that my happiness came from within. True happiness comes from being who we are regardless of our circumstances. This is not easy and sometimes I can fall back into old patterns but this is part of being human. With patience, I believe we can always find our way back.

I still need to make that conscious choice to choose happiness and there are days I have to work extra hard at it. It became apparent just even this year as I felt myself falling into what I like to now call the dark night of the soul due to various circumstances in my life. It was somehow harder this time because I knew I had all the tools I needed yet I couldn’t seem to get out of it or at least that’s what it felt like. These periods may not be pleasant but if we can open our hearts to the gift then it creates the shift. Life was revealing more layers to be healed, bringing more wisdom, more love and with it a sense of Being into our very essence. Despite it all, I have such deep gratitude that I am alive and well and with it being able to go into that place inside of myself where I know I am worthy of love and can appreciate the body that I have. It all starts from within.

“We are not defeated by adversity but by the loss of will to strive.
However devastated you may feel, so long as you have the will to fight on,
you can surely triumph.” (Daisaku Ikeda)

Where there’s a will, there is a way.

Lots of love,
Lisa

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Springtime Sun

nature-3263198_1920“Winter always turns to spring.”
(Nichiren Daishonin)

This is one of my favourite Buddhist quotes. It reminds me of the realities of human life which we cannot escape. There will always be challenges, some greater than others, but our resolve to win is greater still. It’s what makes the world and the people in it so beautiful.

In the harshest of winters, things can seem so lifeless and so dark as light leaves with no ending in sight. Yet somehow the seasons come around as always, changing as we change, giving each of us a strong reminder to keep going and have hope for a better tomorrow.

Change can come in a variety of different ways and is not always easy. Sometimes when things are reaching breaking point, it is at that precise moment when a breakthrough is about to occur. If we have courage to step into it and move through it, we can learn so much about ourselves and our perspective of our circumstances can then be so different. This was certainly the case when I first heard the above quote. I didn’t believe it at first because I was at my lowest point with my health at the time and it seemed like there would never be a resolution to it or hope that my life would get better but it did.

When I was able to change my heart and really believe things could be different, this is when the miracle occurred and the light could enter again. As Marianne Williamson says, “a miracle is a shift of perception from fear to love.

Be ready and willing for your miracle!!

Lots of love,
Lisa

 

These boots are made for walkin’

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Make your own path and the way will find you.
What is meant to be will always come back to you…

It’s been a while since I’ve been writing and I took a much needed break after all my treks last year which saw me walking through extremes of weather from the green yet icy landscapes of Iceland to the extreme heat of the Sahara Desert for charity. There’s nothing I love more than putting my walking boots on and setting off to new pastures. Each place I get called to has its own energy and something to teach to me. It’s like my soul knows where I need to go and it’s about listening to that voice inside of myself no matter how crazy it may seem.

It took a lot of commitment to follow my inner guidance to trek the world again after completing my Mount Kilimanjaro trek back in 2014. I knew from past experience that it would demand a lot of me but as always I was willing to take the risk and give this a try even if I failed. It is true what they say in that ‘the journey is the destination’. Unless we take the risk, we can never know how far we can go and what we are made of. We can learn so much in the process of becoming who we want to be and in taking that leap in our lives we have already won in a lot of ways.

I had to put all my thoughts aside in order to do this. I would have so many flying around in my head – ‘you are not good enough’, ‘you will fail’, ‘who do you think you are doing something like this’, – and so much more. The human mind can lead us astray. We have around 60,000 thoughts a day and most of them can be negative and even take over our lives until they seem real. I knew no matter how powerful my inner critic could be, I was much stronger. Throughout my training my inner critic would follow me everywhere I went telling me I can’t do this and people would laugh at my attempt to trek again. It had no merit yet it was a constant presence in my life.

If I have learnt anything on my journey of self-discovery it’s to continue to have a relationship with my so-called mind. I had to learn to breathe and let these thoughts flow in and out of my daily life as I continued to train.

I believe the biggest journey any of us can take is to become the master of our own minds. Even though my treks and all the training I did was physically demanding, it was inside of my mind where the real training occurred. Sometimes it would get really dark as if the light will never come on again and I would have to force myself to get up to train. This was especially the case when there was a family bereavement right before my last trek in the Sahara Desert. It was unexpected and meant I had to travel abroad for the funeral beforehand.

My inner critic was stronger than ever and told me to give up completely but I knew inside of myself that life never gives you anything you can’t handle. I was in unfamiliar territories and was up early mornings to train in between my family commitments for the funeral with my mind still telling me to give up. However, I found solace in my faith and did what I needed to do.

I did what seemed impossible at the time and then flew back to walk the Sahara Desert. I knew somehow I wouldn’t be alone and that I gained an angel in my life who would walk alongside of me as one of my cheerleaders. I thought to myself that life is too short to not do this and it’s important to take the opportunity to follow our path no matter how uncertain or scary it may feel at first. It is there that we will find our greatest treasures and a place in our hearts we can call Home.

Lots of love,
Lisa