Christmas reflections- looking back on 2016

Reflections at Christmas Time 

The New Year is calling…
The New Year, 2017, is almost with us. These last few days of 2016 are precious, and I’d like to suggest something that may help you to enjoy them.


I found this and had to share it with you! ☺
Last night, after dinner, myself and my girlfriend took the time to reflect on 2016. We did not do this by looking at the year as a whole, but by thinking of some of our favourite parts and telling mini stories about each one. 

There was the time I held the tarantula, skied down mountains in the Czech Republic, planted our allotment, cooked new food, swam in the Irish Sea and played music live on stage. 

There were so many lovely memories. Reliving each one and talking about why it was fun and enjoyable was a lovely relaxing, reflective activity, which we both enjoyed. I’d recommend you take some time with a loved one to sit, holding hands and relive and rekindle some of your favourite times of this year. Once you start talking you will find that there will have been many!

Enjoy your reflections and the coming few days 

And a special hello to my first readers from Sri Lanka!! 🇱🇰

Michael 

For anyone still enjoying Christmas left overs! ☺

Reflections for Third Week of Advent- who are you?

Reflections in Advent Inspiration in a special time 

We are approaching the last week of Advent and soon it will be Christmas. So far we have looked at kindness, the power of people and having hope. Today I would like to ask you a question, 

Who are you?

I would like you to have the courage to repeatedly ask yourself this question over the next couple of days and see which answers emerge from deep within you.

Now this is not a question with a simple answer. Nor is this a single situation to apply analysis and critique towards. Instead we are looking at your meaning, purpose and values in your life. A single person can be seen as many to different people: for me I am a son, a brother, a teacher, an uncle, a cousin and a boyfriend, to name but a few. None of these particular titles sum me up but all contribute towards who I am. Equally in a different field I am a man, I am heterosexual, I am a lifelong learner. There are many titles and labels which can he useful for categorising ourselves, but every one will ultimately fall short of who you really are. You are much more than any of these one things: your resources are deeper, your thoughts are wider and your feelings are wilder and stronger than any one title can contain. And that is good!

Now is the time to look at yourself and how you see yourself. How the outside world sees you is not as important, as that will be a reflection and attraction of what you believe and show to be true of yourself. The best part is that you choose who and how you want to be. Are you a strong person? Do you want to be strong? In which case you need to simply think and act in a strong way. 

Which of these descriptions resonates with you: compassionate, loving, driven, kind, resourceful, vital, passionate?

 You can be any and all or none of these things. You really do have the choice.

I love this time of year, because it provides us with time and space to truly look at our lives and how they are going. Are there some parts of you that need fixing? Who are you when you are alone with yourself? Where are you most happy? It will not be easy answering these questions and that is precisely why they contain so much reward, they sit inside like a golden rose surrounded by cold white snow: beautiful truths just waiting to be touched.


Best of luck with your journey 
Michael 

Advent Reflections- The Kind Voice

Daily kindness can work wonders…

Good morning to you all,

The Kind Voice

There is a voice within us, a small and quiet voice. A voice that is a part of our deepest, fullest selves, not a survival instinct or a thought trail or feeling, but a deep grounding upon which to stand. . There is a feeling, an urge and almost a need, to have oneself suffer, if not at the hands of others, than at oneself. This attitude runs contrary to instincts of survival and self-preservation, and seems to exist only as stopper to happiness, a painful drawing out of the present moment into areas and situations of past and future pain.

However, below and behind this self-destructive howl, is a quiet yet much firmer voice of kindness. Through thousands of years of survival and evolution on both the level of atoms and cells, animals and now humans, we have adapted and continued to survive and thrive. And I, as a modern man, inherit these thousands of years of changing natures, situations, energy and culture. And so it is no wonder that the mind or the self often feels divided unto itself, wanting some things, needing others, demanding some and hating others.

I feel that it is possible for a kind of social evolution, for want of a better word, that transcends the needs of survival and comes from the individual. This has been occurring over thousands of years, through the improvement of medicine and care and shelter and social attitudes of tolerance and compassion. Though it is indeed true that there is much work to be done, it cannot be denied that in the past two hundred years, great strides have been made in tolerance and empathy towards the attitudes between people of different races, sexuality and religious beliefs. I call for a surging continuation of this, which begins by returning to what I call the voice of kindness.

Deep within is the voice that allows you to rest at home in yourself, to know that you are not rubbish, you are not a failure, and you do not deserve to suffer needlessly.

I think that the need to survive on a physical level as a living being, can co-exist with much deeper notions of what that can mean, and the happiness and acceptance that can be found within this. Due to increasing medical advances, those who may have died due to diseases are living longer, and this has led to a much deeper and richer picture of what it is to be alive and a human in today’s world. Beyond discussions of the right to life and looking more at the quality of life, I feel, can lead us forward; and again it is driven by this generator of the kind voice within.

To know oneself as much as possible, is a goal for many. Yet for myself I have often struggled with balancing the physical needs of my existence, with understanding who I am, and my right to life and happiness. And yet I feel that the kind voice within holds the answer. As a living thing, the body has needs which cannot be denied, or we will die. On that very simple level of existence, one becomes forced to look after the body, or die. It is that simple. And so, notions of knowing oneself, happiness and suffering are almost temporarily abandoned to the importance of making sure that the body survives as an entity.

And yet, the great moments of life through art, sport, religion and so many others are not to be found in this singular taking care of a body and its physical needs. The yearnings of the soul, of solidarity and purpose must also be satisfied. So, if we agree that the basic starting point is to care for the body’s survival, one must exist on in spite of one’s self, to care for the outer shell, despite the inner conditions of the passenger. It is like driving a car to a destination, there must be fuel in the tank in order to arrive at any destination worth going to. So in caring for the bodies’ needs, there is a grudging acceptance that the person is living in this body and it must be cared for, and there is great solace both individually and collectively in this. We are all as humans enduring the same physical condition of humanness, one of solitary bodies, and yet a mass collective experience, and this is where the exciting possibilities lie.

So to begin by looking after the body offers an opportunity to thrive. If the body must be cared for, then the person arrives at a question of the balance of care. How much food shall be eaten? When? What exercise should be performed? When? Etc. Simply put, the answers to these questions can be found, tweaked, changed and re-found through a lifetime.

As long as the inner voice is one of kindness and care towards the individual, then the car is travelling along the right roads, again, regardless of the individual’s destinations or lack of them.

My inner kind voice now guides me towards balance, wellness and a feeling of personal care and not of relentless driving and relentless ambition. Now moving beyond the bodies’ needs, the inner voice of kindness as a lens for interpreting the world, can be incredibly beneficial and enabling. For situations and choices, relating them back to the inner voice of kindness makes sure that one has a welcome home in oneself. Here one can be kind in ones’ thoughts and actions towards oneself, and simply be. From here we can interpret the world and make decisions that will benefit both oneself and others, as the truths of the human condition of love, care and compassion are universal. For example, a kind and loving attitude in one’s work can allow others to feel enabled and cherished by their very being. This has astronomical effects on one’s relationships and practises, if one always begin by listening to the voice of kindness towards oneself and applies this same care and affection towards others. Equally with sexuality, if one practises kindness in thought and deed towards oneself, then that will allow a health and fulfilled aspect of oneself to grow and develop with no need for guilt, shame and hatred of the self.

IMG_0391.JPG

I do not mean to sound metaphysical or whimsical at all. This notion of the inner voice of kindness is incredibly practical and can be practised every day, with no need for resources or even other people.

To simply sit and know that kindness towards oneself will benefit both the self and every single living thing is powerfully affirming and a cause for great joy.

It is my hope that I can continue to listen to the inner voice of kindness when the world seems to wear me down, to allow it to permeate through my relationships and into all my practises while I am alive. I believe that the human condition currently offers incredible opportunities for the development of love and acceptance inside the everyday human condition. To know that one is loved and treated kindly by oneself, allows one to feel valued without the need for another to do so. And yet in doing so, one simply has to treat the other as one has been treating oneself and the chain will continue to grow strong. I think personally, that by treating myself kindly and fully embracing this, I have been able to understand and extend compassion towards others. This I have done from a place of knowing that allows for our different yet shared human condition which shares the needs of love, nurturing and affection. With careful care towards the self and others, I truly believe that the shared human condition can be led to a place which is richer, deeper, unchartered and truly fantastic.

Daily repeated kindness can work wonders.

Be kind to yourself this Advent

Michael

 

Reflections for Third Week of Advent- Gratitude 


Good morning to you. I hope that your time of Advent is going well.
I would like to open this Third Week of Advent by talking about a powerful force in my life and one that is very relevant at this time of year: gratitude.

A spirit of gratitude, of appreciation, of love for what you are and what you are so fortunate to have can transform your life. In these times where we have the Internet, fibre optic streaming, downloading and contactless paying, we have almost immediate access to things. And yet, without gratitude, even one’s family and friends, health and spirit can become just commodities- things to have and to do. This is not enough for us, we deserve more. 

Take the time to appreciate and be grateful for the person that you are. Be thankful for your faults and little bits you don’t like, for they are yours and help to make you…you! To be grateful for the ultimate gift you possess, yourself, is the best place to begin. I personally, take the time to ask myself this question every day,

What am I grateful for in my life?

Once I have asked that, so many answers flow into my mind- my life, health, family, friends, my house, living in peace, music, food etc. Once you look with eyes of gratitude, you can find examples of it everywhere. The world is constantly giving to us. We would be foolish to refuse it because there are bits we don’t like. Instead, if we can embrace all with gratitude and hope, then all become sources of happiness, potential growth and builders of our character. 


I am happy to be alive. I have the gift of myself to walk around with and enjoy. I have more than enough to survive and I get to live in peace. For that I am thankful. It is very important that we suspend all judgement when thinking of gratitude, especially towards ourselves. If we embrace our lives and all their bits and bobs with gratitude, then there is no need to place a comparison of our situation with someone else’s. Instead, we will see similarities and threads of solidarity which we can tie together to help each other.

So may we be grateful this week, for all that it will bring. And may you know that someone somewhere is feeling grateful that you are in their lives.

Michael 

Advent reflections-Week 3

Advent reflections for the start of the third week of Advent

What are you waiting for in your life?

This question is a powerful one and for me it can help me to reflect on the deeper meaning and direction of my life. It also serves as a stimulus for further questions:

Am I waiting for good things?

Am I expecting bad things?

What am I doing to make things happen or am I just hoping that they will?

To live in hope is a wonderful thing. It is not passively waiting for things to get better by themselves. No, to live in hope is to pull your heart upwards and forwards towards a better life. It means you are open to better opportunities, increased health and vitality and you are not limiting yourself in your foresight. Christians await the coming of Jesus at Christmas as a powerful symbol of hope of God being close to them in the darkness of winter and throughout the coming year. Every year it serves as a reminder that by embracing the hope of a better future we can wait confidently for love to find a way.


I believe all people can embrace this great idea of waiting in hope and love in our daily lives. It simply means that no matter the situation or circumstance you find yourself in, you can know that it will not last forever and thus endure, be resilient and know that better things are coming. A perfect example of this is when it rains and the weather is gloomy and grey. Many people may be quick to say Oh it’s horrible this rain! And complain. However, we as hopeful people know that it is only a matter of time until it stops, it will stop, it has before and beautiful sunshine will come. You just have to be willing to wait for it. 


In my life I have found that being willing to wait for things has greatly increased my appreciation of the present moment. By feeling safe and happy that the future will bring both good things and give me the resilience to endure the bad, I am free to rest easy in the present. To enjoy it and be open to all it’s fantastic possibilities.


And so at the beginning of this Third Week of Advent may you rest easy in your heart, knowing that great things are coming to you. May you hold both the foresight for a great future and the awareness of today close in your heart. And may you be blessed, today and always. 

Michael