Tara is an American psychologist and meditation teacher who set up the Insight Meditation Community in Washington. My amazing and creative GP suggested I have a look at her website. Wow. Its amazing. She has a very real person way about her - accessible, funny and very real. Her website includes loads of audio and videos. She posts a new one each week and over 200,000 people from 150 countries download them free each month. I listen to some of her teachings again and again and again and get something new each time. Have a look at her website: www.tarabrach.com
I recently went on a meditation and yoga retreat and was exposed to Lousie L Hay's work: You can heal your life. I have read some of her work before and discounted all of it because some went too far for me. This time I recognise that she has some really important lessons for us. You might find the book helpful.
Sam Harris is an American author, philosopher, and neuroscientist. He the CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. Sam has written a stack of books and there are even more online lectures. He has an extraordinary mix of smart, sharp, gentle and humor. This video is gentle and touching. Sam describes how people close to death often reflect on their lives and regret what they cared about. He says what matters is what captures our attention and realizing the past is just a memory, the future never arrives – what we truly have is the present moment. Quite a beautiful video.
I recently spent time in Bali. I was so impressed by the gentle and generous Balinese. How do they maintain these qualities despite millions of tourists? I think it is the daily practice of offerings - or Canang Sari. Every morning the Balinese make this offering to their hindu gods to give thanks for what they have. The act of making the offering is viewed as an important time for reflecting on what they have to give thanks for. I think this daily practice could be a great strategy for taking care - to help shift our focus from what we think we don't have enough of, to giving thanks for what we have
This week we lost Robin Williams and so I wanted to reinforce the importance of reaching out and telling people what you are feeling. There is always, always, always someone ready to listen. In Australia Lifeline is available 24 hours a day by calling 131114. We also have beyond blue who can be called on 1300 224 636. There are similar services in most countries. Go on, reach out and talk to someone.
Phil Hansen was a 'pointillist' artist - he made art using tiny, tiny dots. After developing a hand tremor he was told that he would never regain capacity to make art the way he used to. So, his neurologist told him to 'embrace the shake' in his art. This video is partly about the new and hilarious ways he discovered to make art. The art is beautiful. But the reason I love watching this, the way it takes care of me is that - Phil shares how he discovered that limitations can be used to harness creativity. He invites us to seize our limitations. Thanks Phil.
I made a contract with myself this week. It's been a difficult week and a couple of times I found I was doubting myself. I know this is a reasonable and human thing to do. But. I find that when doubt is sustained it really gets in they way. When I don't believe in myself it doesn't work on so many levels. This week I noticed that a couple of times I thought that I wasn't strong enough. So of course I wasn't. Then I decided it was time to turn it around. I have made a contract with myself for a month - that I believe I am strong enough every single day. No correspondence will be entered into. Strong or Strong. So far so good. If a conversation starts up in my head, a seed of doubt, I remind myself that I said - no choice here, you are strong. I think this is about forming a new habit. Will let you know in a month how it goes. If you were to make a contract with yourself that helped you to take care of yourself, what would it be?
This week I discovered the work of Shane Koyczan. WOW. Shane is an award winning Canadian poet, author and performer. In 2013 Shane released an animated video of his poem To This Day and also shared the poem at a TED Talk. The video/talk describes Shane's experience of bullying and how he survived it. The video has had over 13 million hits. Shane has also produced a video called Instructions for a bad day. It is beautiful. I've saved it to my phone and listen to it when I am having a shitty day. I take warmth and strength from listening to it. In the section below I have posted his TED talk, then his animated video, followed by his Instructions video. I will also post his Instructions video somewhere here as as permanent fixture - I think lots of people will get something positive from listening to it. Shane also has a stack of inspiring stuff on his website: www.shanekoyczan.com
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This post pays tribute to the the very inspirational Maya Angelou, who died this week. Maya was a poet, writer, storyteller, essayist, activist, singer, dancer, actress, composer. Maya was Hollywood's first female black director and as a civil rights activist she worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
In 1993 President Bill Clinton invited Maya to write and read the first inaugural poem. Americans all across the country watched as she read "On the Pulse of Morning," which begins "A Rock, a River, a Tree" and calls for peace, racial and religious harmony, and social justice for people of different origins, incomes, genders, and sexual orientations. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees.
Angelou’s most famous work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), deals with her early years in Arkansas, where she lived with her brother and paternal grandmother. In one of its most evocative (and controversial) moments, Angelou describes how she was first cuddled then raped by her mother's boyfriend when she was just seven years old. When the man was murdered by her uncles for his crime, Angelou felt responsible, and stopped talking. Angelou remained mute for five years, but developed a love for language.
One of the things I do to take care of myself when I am feeling depleted or beaten or defeated or harassed is to listen to her recite: And Still I Rise (see YouTube below). If you don't know her work I would encourage you to go to her website: mayaangelou.com
I would like to acknowledge that some of this information has come from poetry foundation.org and I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful friend Simon.
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in Plum Village Monastery in France and has published over 100 books. I have read some of Tich Nhat Hahn's books and think of him as a very enlightened person. Here are some of my favourite quotes:
To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don’t need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
Then recently I watched him on video for the first time. He exudes peace. I feel serene watching him and listening to him. Go the the Plum Village website to watch videos or listen to his teachings. I love this one on peace: http://plumvillage.org/video/peace-is-the-way/
This blog is dedicated to sharing resources for taking care. It was inspired by my darling friends, Mary and Wendy - we all love real stuff that inspires. A new resource will be posted on Sundays. If you have any you would like to share please email them in to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Instructions for a bad day
If you are having a tough day and you are looking for comfort, hope, inspiration - you might want to watch Shane Koyczan's video: Instructions For a bad day. Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7OGY1Jxp3o