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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The Real India

It has been an epic two week journey abroad travelling to the depths of possibility and seeing things with fresh eyes. This is what I love about visiting other countries – taking in the culture, the food and being able to accept the hospitality of the people who have opened their homes to me, especially on this trip. It makes you look at life differently. It was my first time in India and I couldn’t think of a better place to go than Kerala. It has so much to offer and is such a magical place to be if you open your heart to her.

When I first arrived I must admit I didn’t feel this way for many reasons. I knew India would not be a holiday of total relaxation. The streets are so busy. They are filled with the worst traffic I have ever seen and full of people wherever you go to the point you can hardly move as you navigate through the crowds. Then you have the sweltering heat to contend with. It is the hottest of heats and I couldn’t go outside most afternoons because of it. With all of that and adjusting to a new time zone, India was very confronting to me and I have never been to a place quite like it.

India is filled with so much spirituality and yet you are faced with total duality all at the same time. You would see beautiful buildings that took your breath away then come outside and see rubbish on the floor at every street corner. It broke my heart to see Mother Earth in this way and I thought to myself would I ever get it and connect to India. There was so much that didn’t make sense to me. I was pushed beyond my limits, observing my shadows and seeing my triggers come out in full force. It made me wonder if I had evolved at all. It really showed me that no matter where you are in the world, unless you know yourself and see your truth and beauty on the inside, you can travel to the most exotic extravagant places and never be fulfilled, not truly. Everything you seek is always inside yourself.

There was so much about Kerala that I loved. The food was absolutely fantastic. That was the best part of the trip as a total foodie. There was so much variety and different flavours it would awaken your senses in every way. The effort, time and love gone into the cooking could be felt with every bite. I would be in heaven every time I ate something and was in total appreciation of what I was experiencing. I never thought I could feel this way after recovering from an illness only four years ago. That changed my life forever and previously left me for a long time unable to eat many foods. Then there I was in Kerala eating everything and more. It was a total dream! The food represented all that is good and coming alive in a big way. Living takes complete courage and faith in oneself. When you allow yourself the time and space to heal, anything is possible and enjoying the food in Kerala was living proof of this.

What I loved even more were the connections I made. Life is so much better when you walk it with others and I feel so blessed with the people in my life; my friends on this trip and the family and friends I have at home. This makes it all worthwhile. When you have special experiences inside the every day with beautiful souls you can laugh, cry, love and be completely yourself around, this to me is what it means to be rich. The ability to be loving, kind and giving when you are triggered is richer still.

As I left Kerala in exactly the same way as I found it, in the hustle and bustle and extreme heat, I couldn’t help but smile. My heart was filled with so much love and gratitude and I could see the Divine everywhere around me. I am grateful to Kerala for the gift it has given me, to reveal what was evidently there all along.

Namaste,
Lisa

The Hourglass Effect

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Travelling is
the call
of the heart,
Mystery destinations
brought to life
in choices
beyond reason,
Only a call
to trusting insights,
To see with
new eyes
what
was right
in front of you
all along.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the way I make decisions. Not the kind where you decide what to have for dinner or what colour socks to wear that day (although I can’t say I think about my socks that much). I am talking about the bigger decisions that you know could potentially change your life. Do you turn left or do you turn right?

There is always choice and free will as human beings. Within this I do believe that what is meant to be will be but nothing can take away our free will. The freedom is within us to walk our path in life and to decide what is next even if that means the way we react to circumstances we have no control over.

It has been three months since returning from South America and the trip is still fresh in my mind. I am glad I somehow made it happen. The outcome could have been very different and I couldn’t imagine not have been on such an amazing visit to the beautiful country of Ecuador. This has led me to make a decision to travel again sooner than expected so watch this space!

Like Ecuador, I did not make the decision based on logic or my current circumstances with things like finances. If I did I never would have made it to Ecuador or any of my other journeys. What I did was ask myself that if today was my last day on Earth, what is it that I would like to be doing? Who would I see? Where would I go? What kind of person would I like to be?

We are born into the world with nothing but ourselves and we will leave the same way. However, the one thing that will always live on is our growth and soul evolution. That will stay and send out a ripple effect to the entire cosmos. With this is mind I know that I have made the right decision. I listened to my heart and I am excited. Sure there are challenges and logistics to work out already as I prepare myself for another trip but when you say YES with every fibre of your being the Universe hears you. There is a knowing inside and it is about living that dream in your heart. Your reality is what you wish it to be and you hold the key. This rings true and experience has taught me to believe, to trust and to know that I will be Divinely guided always. Life is supportive. It is ever changing, filled with promises for a new tomorrow.

What are your dreams for 2017? What lives in your heart?

Love and light,
Lisa