Friday, September 18, 2009

Want to Make Friends and Feel Happier? Try Kindness!

Are you kind? Kindness is closely linked to happiness: the kinder you are to others, the happier you will be. So, how can we learn to be kinder? Maybe you think that kindness is just feeling warm fuzzies? Well, it’s more than that.

Kindness means action.


Yesterday I was standing in line in the supermarket checkout. It was a long queue. I looked behind me and noticed an elderly who looked exhausted.

I said to her, “Oh, you’ve been waiting a long time. Why don’t you go in front of me?”

Her eyes lit up.

“How did you guess my feet were hurting?” she said.

It’s sometimes easier to be kind to strangers than to one’s own partner. Do you find that too? Perhaps we take the person closest to us for granted. Or may be we’re preoccupied.

Sometimes we store up resentment from past hurts in a way that prevent us from being kind and towards our loved one. Maybe we fear that we will appear weak. Or we think, “He/she doesn’t deserve it!”

How kind are you to your loved one?

Sometimes frustration and irritation spills over into our relationship and we become unkind and even a bit vicious. That may erode love in the course of time.

If you want to be happier, kindness is the magic ingredient.

The key to kindness is attention.

Simply put, if you don’t notice what those around you need, you won’t find ways to be kind. Here are some simple ways to practise kindness:

  • Look at those you love more often;
  • Take a deep slow breath as you look at them;
  • Take your eyes away from the newspaper, laptop, or TV when your loved one or friend talks to you.
  • Actively look for at least one opportunity to be kind to someone each day .

You might ask, “When is the right time to be kind?”

Kindness is never out of place.

There is never a time when kindness is inappropriate. At the same time, you need to understand that this doesn’t only mean being kind to someone else; it also means being kind to yourself. There needs to be a wholesome balance between to yourself and others.

Putting up with abuse from others isn’t kindness! Being a doormat isn’t being kind!

True kindness is to respect yourself as well as others.

Some people try and keep a score in relationships to determine whether your partner is as kind to you, as you are to him or her. I don’t think there’s much point in trying to determine that. Qualities like kindness can’t be quantified.

The true spirit of kindness is to give without counting the cost.

The magic of kindness is that it not only makes others happy; it also makes us feel happy! Just imagine that you’re bumper to bumper in rush-hour traffic. There is a queue of cars wanting to join your lane. If you wave to a driver and let them merge in front of you, you’ll feel good, and the friendly smile between you will light up your day.


Some acts of kindness are unforgettable. I remember crying at my mother’s bedside with my son Sebastian. She had just died. Suddenly three of my close friends came in and sat down beside us. For some hours we cried and laughed together, telling each other outrageous stories of my mother. Then they started to organise the funeral for us. That’s true kindness!

What is your experience of giving or receiving kindness?


Enjoy these related posts:

Save the Word – One Breath at a Time

Make Peace: Declare Your Personal Amnesty

From Goodlife Zen

By Mary Jaksch

How to Make a True Friend

Friendship2 How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents)

By Mary Jaksch

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~ Arabian Proverb

Maybe you thought that friendship can’t be bought. Wrong. You can buy 3000 Facebook friends for only 14,6 cents a piece from Twitter friends are even cheaper. You can aquire them in bulk: 25,000 Twitter friends only cost 3,4 cents each!
Making new friends seems easy these days: you can buy them, or ‘friend’ people at the click of a button.

But is that really making friends – in the true sense of the word?

What is a true friend?

True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.
~ George Washington

I once heard Zen Master John Tarrant say something unforgettable about friendship. He said, “If you have a true friend, one of you will sit at the other’s deathbed.” That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? I can’t quite see my 2000 Twitter followers crowding around my bed in the Intensive Care Unit during my final days!

What John Tarrant reminds us of, is that true friendships are long-term connections that flow through our life like rivers.
I remember some beautiful moments of friendship when my mother, Joan Jaksch, died. I was with her as she passed away and immediately rang up my son Sebastian and three of my friends. They came at once and we all sat around my mother’s bed, holding hands and shedding tears.

Uwe Grodd How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents)
A few days later, Sebastian and I celebrated my mother’s life with a funeral service held in our lounge (which doubles as a meditation room). My mother’s cat, Sweetie, lay curled up on her legs in the open coffin. Friends gathered, and we sat on the floor around the coffin, telling hilarious stories about my mother’s eccentric ways, until we could no longer tell the tears of laughter from the tears of grief. Then one of my best friends – my ex-husband Uwe Grodd – played a haunting solo on his flute.
That’s true friendship.

Friends are the family of the soul

Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.
~ Jacques Delille (1738 – 1813)

We are born into particular families. Some of us are lucky because we were raised in happy, loving families. Others grow up in abusive families and carry the scars all their lives. However, whatever family we were raised in, we are free to create our own family. These family ties can be by blood or by affection. Or by both.

If you have children you will know that blood relation doesn’t guarantee close emotional ties. It’s a sad fact that many adult children leave home and then sever all ties to their family. That’s because they lack the bond of love and affection that is strong enough to last throughout life. I’m fortunate because my son Sebastian is one of my cherished friends.


Ten Ways to Create Lasting Friendships

1. Be caring

Ask not what a friend can do for you. Ask what you can do for a friend.

The two cornerstones of friendship are kindness – and kindness.
Here’s a lovely story by Father Theophane about the spiritual value of kindness and caring:

There’s a monk there who will never give you advice, but only a question. I was told his questions could be very helpful. I sought him out.

“I am a parish priest,” I said. “I’m here on retreat. Could you give me a question?

“Ah, yes,” he answered. “My question is: ‘What do they need?”

I came away disappointed. I spent a few hours with the question, writing down answers, but finally I went back to him.

“Excuse me. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Your question has been helpful, but I wasn’t so much interested in thinking about my parish during this retreat. Rather I wanted to think seriously about my own spiritual life. Could you give a question for my own spiritual life?”

“Ah, I see, the monk said. ” The question is, ‘What do they really need?’”


In order to care for another person, we need to walk in their shoes, and consider what we could do to make life easier for them. Then do it.

2. Be there in misfortune

“Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.”
- Aristotle

I once went through a dismal patch in my life when I was forced to leave a high-profile job as a Director of a school of music – just as my husband Uwe and I were going through a divorce. The day after I left my job, I lost 80% of all the people whom I regarded as friends. That was a shock, as you can imagine. It turned out they were only hanging out with me because I was well-known.

Strangely enough though, I then discovered that there was a small group of people lurking in the background of my life who were waiting to become friends with me. One of them was Birgit (who is like a sister to me now). I asked her:

“Why did you guys wait all this time before letting me know that you wanted to be friends?
“Oh,” she said, “we were waiting for you to come down to earth and stop being up yourself!”

(In New Zealand, ‘up yourself’ means to be arrogant…)

3. Delight at success and share joy

“Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.”
- Oscar Wilde

One of the greatest compliments I’ve received was when a friend told me, “You’re the only person with whom I can share my success without reservation. I can tell you all about how well I did – and know that you’ll celebrate with me!”

4. Always Encourage

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.
~ William Arthur Ward

We can often spot a friend’s potential better than they can. Our task as a friend is to encourage, encourage, encourage. (Yes, I know I wrote that three times…) So often talent withers because there is nobody to encourage it. Let your friends know how wonderful they are – again and again.

5. Be Respectful

In our society respect is linked to hierarchy. You are expected to be respectful to those ‘above’ you, but nobody cares if you treat those you consider ‘below’ you with familiarity or even distain. Well, that doesn’t work for making friends! How about treating everyone with respect?

I’m always saddened when children and young adults are treated disrespectful – even though being young is a passing human condition, and children can grow into life-long friends. If you want to be friends with a child or an adolescent, listen to what they have to say. Be interested in what they do. Treat them like the interesting human beings they are.

6. Be honest

A true friend stabs you in the front.
~ Oscar Wilde

I love this saying by Oscar Wilde! As a good friend it’s our duty to lovingly and patiently tell the other if we think he or she is going wrong. If a friend does that to you and you feel defensive, ask yourself, “What is the grain of truth in what they’ve said?”

7. Listen

Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say.

Listening to a friends is what deepens friendship. I know it’s difficult at times because you may be preoccupied at the time, or feel the pressure of concerns you want to get off our chest. Here’s a remedy: as well as listening to your friend, open to other sounds around you – the roar of traffic, the twitter of birds, or the splish of raindrops falling against the window. This keeps you in the present moment.

8. Repair rifts

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. ~William Blake

Do you sometimes mourn a good friend whom you’ve lost through a quarrel? That’s what the quote by Blake is about. When we love – and friendship is a form of love – we open our heart to sorrow, as well as to joy. Make sure you reach out and let the other person know that you still want to be friends. Do it sooner than later.

Sometimes we feel betrayed or ill-used by a friend. That’s a difficult situation. What I try to do in those moments is to remind myself about all of the good aspects of that friendship, so that I can move towards forgiveness.

9. Be trustworthy

If you want to create lasting friendships, you need to be trustworthy. Really, that goes without saying. But it’s good to remind ourselves of this over and over. To be trustworthy means to keep confidences, not to denigrate a friend behind his or her back, to keep promises, to protect our friends, instead of taking advantage of them.

10. Accept despair

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
~ Henri Nouwen

At times there is absolutely nothing we can do to help a friend and we feel helpless. We can’t see a way forward and despair because there seems nothing we can do to help. But actually there is. We can give our the most precious gift of all: our full presence. Hold your friend’s hand, listen to their despair. Or, if you are a distance, hold them in your heart with loving thoughts.


To be a good friend is a skill that grows with practice. I hope the ten rules above help you to become a good friend, or remind you of some important aspects of friendship. Most of all – let each friendship light up your life in a unique way.

Related articles you might enjoy:

Want to Make Friends and Feel Happier? Try Kindness

From Goodlife Zen

By Mary Jaksch

Saturday, September 12, 2009

About Love

1.Say it. When you say the words "I Love You", they should carry with them the desire to show someone that you love them, not what you simply want to feel. When you say it make sure you really mean it and are willing to do anything for that special person.

2.Empathize. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Rather than impose your own expectations or attempt to control them, try to understand how they feel, where they come from, and who they are. Realize how they could also love you back just as well.

3.Love unconditionally. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations, then it is not love at all, but deep-seated opportunism (one who makes the most of an advantage, often unmindful of others). If your interest is not in the other person as such, but rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not unconditional. If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves and accepting them as they are, and not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them unconditionally.

4.Expect nothing in return. That doesn't mean you should allow someone to mistreat or undervalue you. It means that giving love does not guarantee receiving love. Try loving just for the sake of love. Realize that someone may have a different way of showing his or her love for you, do not expect to be loved back in exactly the same way.

5.Realize it can be lost. If you realize that you can lose the one you love, then you have a greater appreciation of what you have. Think how lucky you are to have someone to love. Don't make an idol of the person you love. This will place them under undue pressure and will likely result in you losing them.


Steven Hyperspecial Whyte

Thursday, September 10, 2009

6 Powerful Tips for Effective Manifesting


Manifesting is an art. It’s not a complicated one. You don’t need to go to art school to learn it. There are no more hoops you have to jump through to “get it”.

Actually, a part of you remembers how to do it, because it is your natural state. Conscious manifesting/deliberate creation is allowing yourself to receive the joy and abundance that is inherently yours.

All you desire is already available to! It’s a matter of aligning your consciousness and way of being with your intentions and allowing.

REMEMBER: You are manifesting all the time. The question is, are you manifesting what you truly desire? What helps you feel good? What helps you know peace? What helps you know freedom?

You can manifest on purpose, using the power of your conscious mind and choice to create what you desire.

6 Powerful Tips for Effective Manifesting:

  1. Get clear about what you want and declare it.
  2. Visualize it, feel it. Really get into this. Close your eyes and allow the emotion of what you desire to be present with you in the now. Do this every day.
  3. Act as if. Identify how a person would act if they were in the experience you desire. What would their daily habits be? How would they walk? How would they talk? What would they think? What action would they take? How would they feel? Write it down. Then act that way.
  4. Give thanks. Gratitude has so many benefits to your life, one being that it is a high magnetizing vibration that helps you manifest what you desire.
  5. Allow. Let yourself receive the magnificence you are designed for.
  6. Feel good*. Like gratitude, feeling good will help you attract more because of the high vibrations you are naturally in when you are in this *Feel Good* state.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

7 Japanese aesthetic principles to change your thinking

Garden Exposing ourselves to traditional Japanese aesthetic ideas — notions that may seem quite foreign to most of us — is a good exercise in lateral thinking, a term coined by Edward de Bono in 1967. "Lateral Thinking is for changing concepts and perception," says de Bono. Beginning to think about design by exploring the tenets of the Zen aesthetic may not be an example of Lateral Thinking in the strict sense, but doing so is a good exercise in stretching ourselves and really beginning to think differently about visuals and design in our everyday professional lives. The principles of Zen aesthetics found in the art of the traditional Japanese garden, for example, have many lessons for us, though they are unknown to most people. The principles are interconnected and overlap; it's not possible to simply put the ideas in separate boxes. Thankfully, Patrick Lennox Tierney (a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun in 2007) has a few short essays elaborating on the concepts. Below are just seven design-related principles (there are more) that govern the aesthetics of the Japanese garden and other art forms in Japan. Perhaps they will stimulate your creativity or get you thinking in a new way about your own design-related challenges.

Seven principles for changing your perception

Kanso (簡素) Simplicity or elimination of clutter. Things are expressed in a plain, simple, natural manner. Reminds us to think not in terms of decoration but in terms of clarity, a kind of clarity that may be achieved through omission or exclusion of the non-essential.

Enso Fukinsei (不均整)
Asymmetry or irregularity. The idea of controlling balance in a composition via irregularity and asymmetry is a central tenet of the Zen aesthetic. The enso ("Zen circle") in brush painting, for example, is often drawn as an incomplete circle, symbolizing the imperfection that is part of existence. In graphic design too asymmetrical balance is a dynamic, beautiful thing. Try looking for (or creating) beauty in balanced asymmetry. Nature itself is full of beauty and harmonious relationships that are asymmetrical yet balanced. This is a dynamic beauty that attracts and engages.

Shibui/Shibumi (渋味)
Beautiful by being understated, or by being precisely what it was meant to be and not elaborated upon. Direct and simple way, without being flashy. Elegant simplicity, articulate brevity. The term is sometimes used today to describe something cool but beautifully minimalist, including technology and some consumer products. (Shibui literally means bitter tasting).

Shizen (自然) Naturalness. Absence of pretense or artificiality, full creative intent unforced. Ironically, the spontaneous nature of the Japanese garden that the viewer perceives is not accidental. This is a reminder that design is not an accident, even when we are trying to create a natural-feeling environment. It is not a raw nature as such but one with more purpose and intention.

Yugen (幽玄)
Profundity or suggestion rather than revelation. A Japanese garden, for example, can be said to be a collection of subtleties and symbolic elements. Photographers and designers can surely think of many ways to visually imply more by not showing the whole, that is, showing more by showing less.

Datsuzoku (脱俗) Freedom from habit or formula. Escape from daily routine or the ordinary. Unworldly. Transcending the conventional. This principles describes the feeling of surprise and a bit of amazement when one realizes they can have freedom from the conventional. Professor Tierney says that the Japanese garden itself, "...made with the raw materials of nature and its success in revealing the essence of natural things to us is an ultimate surprise. Many surprises await at almost every turn in a Japanese Garden."

Seijaku (静寂)
Tranquility or an energized calm (quite), stillness, solitude. This is related to the feeling you may have when in a Japanese garden. The opposite feeling to one expressed by seijaku would be noise and disturbance. How might we bring a feeling of "active calm" and stillness to ephemeral designs outside the Zen arts?

Read more about The Nature of Japanese Garden Art by Patrick Lennox Tierney at Bonsai Beautiful dot com.
Japanese Aesthetics (Stanford Encyclopedia).
Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment (book)

From Presentation Zen

How to Awaken Your Inner Child

Do you remember how wonderfully carefree you were as a child? Children are typically honest, innocent, and sources of steady outpourings of love. They are naturally curious and ask questions; they're mystified by objects and experiences we have long since chosen to take for granted. I certainly miss that outlook on life and every once in a while, letting a childlike mentality take control is exactly the springboard I need to help me feel refreshed.

Jump back into those adorably small, yet ridiculously patterned outfits, and let your inner child emerge once again.

  1. Jump for joy. Today, getting excited may involve a gasp or a fist-pump, but remember when you literally jumped for joy? We should learn to employ that vigorous enthusiasm to our lives a bit more often. And if you find the act of jumping too embarrassing (a very adult outlook), then at least allow your soul to jump for joy. Do something that you know will give you that sensation of happiness. I'm sure you won't regret it.
  2. Believe in miracles. In a world where research is the basis for drawing conclusions and reason is rewarded, allow yourself to believe the unbelievable in life. The word itself, miracle, often seems magical or childish. But don't let the unexplainable just slip by without at least a nod of recognition. Believing in miracles allows these experiences to be much more valuable. Help them along by allowing your imagination to get involved.
  3. Play. Nourish your inner child by being completely silly with friends or by enjoying an activity you wouldn't normally do. Taking that step to simply play and expend energy will produce a newfound sense of awe. The feeling of wonder that comes with peeling back the layers of thought and assessment is lost all too often in adulthood. With that in mind, play before you give it a second thought, and let the thrill of life take over.
  4. Draw outside the lines. It seems so simple, but we spend our days caged in by boundaries and consequences. While these concepts define our comfort zone, sometimes tearing down those walls and exposing our imperfections takes us to a place of greater learning. A child's uninhibited attitude toward tasks and challenges is admirable, and certainly something to learn from.
  5. Love unconditionally. Why do we tie strings to our love? And when did we learn to do that? One of the most beautiful things about children is their ability to love. They love unconditionally their families, their neighbors, their everyday experiences, and people from all walks of life-they love questioning the world itself! It's amazing (and disappointing) that we can lose this ability as we grow. Reclaim your ability to love unconditionally-even if it's just for an hour.

I hope that some of these tips bring back old memories and attitudes that you're willing to rely on once more. It's amazing how simple and positive a child's outlook is. I suppose that with time and experience, our perspective becomes convoluted and much less naive (with both positive and negative influences). Nevertheless, relish your inner child, and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of living all over again.

More Tips for Creating an Excellent Life

Take a risk. Take a risk every day. A risk a day keeps boredom away. Taking risks keeps us fresh, young and creative. By taking risks in all areas of your life you are better able to deal with change and more able to reach your goals. Every successful endeavor involves risk – take one today.

Take creative time. In order to grow or develop your people – you need time to think. You cannot be busy working all the time and come up with creative ideas or new concepts. You need time to sit, to walk in the woods, to fish or to do something else that clears your mind. Taking time to regularly disconnect and think will bring out your creativity and give you the stamina you need to get the job done.

Have a mentor. Having a mentor, someone who’s where you would like to be next, can produce huge results in your life. A mentor can help you see your blind spots, save you from possible mistakes and be a sounding board for change. A mentor keeps you humble, on our toes and teachable. Investing the time in building mentoring relationships will pay off in many ways.

Be a mentor. It’s important to have a mentor but it’s just as important to be a mentor. Being a mentor allows you to hear your own advice, give back what you’ve been given and stay connected to where you came from. Mentoring is powerful. You will most likely learn more from this experience than your mentee do. Take a risk and get involved mentoring today – you’ll grow and in return so will others.

Take a stand. Know your values. Your values will be tested and pushed by others. Knowing what you believe and what you are willing to take a stand for helps you succeed when things come at you that are unexpected. Knowing your values also helps you create a culture that mirrors what it most important to you.

Take a vacation. You deserve a break. Schedule regular vacations and stick to them. Get out of the office, disconnect from technology and take time to breathe. You will be more effective and your potential more fully realized when you take regular vacations.

Get out of your office. Take time during the week to get out of the office. Meet a friend for lunch, attend a networking event, go for a walk – just leave. You’re not as productive when you just sit in your office or stay in your building every day. You need and deserve regular opportunities to get out and experience a change of scenery.

Love Gives Us Life

by Robin

heart immortality

A couple of weeks ago Janni Lloyd wrote the following in a comment on this blog…

The more we open our hearts to each other, embrace our differences and, in so doing, love all aspects of ourself, the more aliveness our physical body has.

Thank you Janni for leaving these beautiful words! I’d like to explore this concept further, and this is how I see it…

Life is expansive

Many people say they don’t want to live forever, that at some point they may want to explore more than “this world”, or else start a new life on Earth with new adventures. They refer to dying as though it is just a matter of slipping away… no big deal.

The thing is, life is naturally expansive. The more we love, the more we live! Aging and dying don’t just happen—we kill ourselves off with all our crappy angers and resentments and guilts and fears. We shut ourselves down!

Then, because we live in a loving universe, we are given another chance at incarnation so we can learn to love and not wipe ourselves out. Chance after chance, actually, until we get it right.

The world is our mirror

How can we “get it right”? One way is to choose to see everything around us as a reflection of our inner condition… we can only be upset by the people who inhabit our world if they are showing us something about ourselves.

If we work through an issue “pushing our buttons”, we find that the love and connection that is naturally there anyway can shine through—our hearts open, and the differences between us become inconsequential. We are accepting a part of ourselves we had been denying. We feel different—we feel more… alive.

And we know deep down when we need to clear something up—I’m not suggesting we should all go and make friends with the local crooks!

Endless aliveness

If we keep opening to love, our aliveness will keep blossoming. Why should this ever end?

* * *

A note: Many loving people have died, of course. The way I reconcile this with the sentiments above is by knowing that our sub-conscious minds hold fears and negative beliefs—by definition we don’t even know what they are. By becoming more conscious we can clear these out, but not everyone has had the chance to do this.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Four Life Lessons To Make Our World A Better Place

Sunday morning and it is very quiet around here. I am sitting at my computer and listening inward as I write. There is so much going on in the world and so many thoughts and feelings about these events, situations. There is something here for us all to learn in the midst of such chaos. If we learn it we continue to evolve if we don’t maybe we wipe ourselves out and the planet is left to heal itself. I am unsure but here is what comes to mind, as I think about the lessons available for us to learn.

First - We would benefit greatly from taking care of our own interior landscape. To do this we must become mindful of our thoughts and feelings and the whispering wisdom of our higher self. Our thoughts are just a jumble of words we give meaning to therefore they are not real. Yes most thoughts seem very real but they are only going on in our minds and to watch them is to know most of them are the same ones from the day before. We think but too often we simply repeat limiting ideas and beliefs and we let these ideas limit us.

Feelings are always generated by our thoughts. Even though we want to blame others and situations for our emotions, that is inaccurate because our feelings come from our reactive thoughts. Everything we feel inside is generated from our thinking not from anyone or anything else. Taking responsibility for our feelings is a healthy thing to do. Here is a diagram that might be helpful:


We are in constant reaction to the world around us but that reaction is within caused by our thoughts not by what is going on. This is why thoughts need to be examined. How we feel is always about how we think.

The intuitive wisdom in us is unlimited and always there to guide us to a higher expression of who we are. We need to listen in so we can do our part to encourage the positive expansion of our human potential and the potential of all of humanity.

Second – This expansion potential within us is directly related to our consciousness. The more conscious we are of ourselves and the world around us, the more we awaken to what is possible in us and encourage that awakening in others. There is a collective consciousness that expands as we expand. In other words as each of us becomes more fully awakened so too does the collective consciousness.

The collective wisdom of the planet is available to all human beings on the planet if they can quiet down and listen inward. Closed minds and rigid belief systems keep people from listening inward. Those out of touch with this higher collective knowing are often fearful and angry.

Third – We are all connected at all times with each other. On this tiny speck called Earth in this massive universe, if we tune in we know that all are our brothers and sisters. Yes there are many beliefs and ideas that appear to separate us but those are us letting our thoughts get in the way of our connection.

This awareness of this unity of all living beings on the planet is called Unity Consciousness. As we learn to open up, we will sense that who we are is part of a fellowship of living beings on this tiny outpost somewhere under the guidance of forces so much greater than us. These forces shape and hold together the universe and beyond. It is important that we find our humility and humanity by touching upon our insignificant nature. That does not mean we do not matter, in fact our higher nature matter greatly as it is aligned with all others. Together as we realize our highest expression, we will be able to care for each other and our precious gem of a planet.

FourthWe are here to express our hearts, to love, to have compassion, to care for ourselves and others, to be kind, and to be understanding. There is no greater human expression than love and compassion. The world is greatly in need of the realization of our compassionate potential. All the problems we face at this moment in history have compassionate solutions and when we learn to be guided by our hearts then all will work out for the best for everyone.

Without heart you have fear and profit as the driving forces and we all see the mess we have gotten in from that. Love is the opposite of fear, it is the expanding state, the open and giving state. All helpful and healthy solutions come from love and compassion. To have compassion means to have an open heart and understanding for our fellow humans. Love is the answer to all our questions. Love is the solution to all of our problems. If we tune in and connect with our hearts, everything will work out just great.

Please contemplate these ideas and let me know which ones resonate with you.

by Joseph Bernard

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Joy of Giving

Giving, taking, earning, stealing, squandering, hoarding. These are all human impulses, and we wouldn't be human without them. Yet on this list only one item — giving — appears in the world's wisdom traditions. Why is giving set apart? After all, there's no mystery to why someone might want to earn, hoard, squander, or steal a million dollars. One way or another, most of our daily actions follow the principle of more is better, whereas giving means having less. Do the great spiritual teachers want us to have less? Have they figured out instead a higher way to give that will add increase to our lives?

If you ask people why they give, the readiest answers offer clues to the mystery. God wants me to. I feel better about myself. Others need, and I have. I want to share. It's only right. A hazy halo encircles these good-hearted answers, and if we bring it into focus, the following seems true: Giving takes you out of yourself. You expand beyond your limitations. The inspiration behind CharityFocus, a brainchild of Nipun Mehta, declares that "it's impossible to create a better world without inner change that results from selfless service." This is also the philosophy of Venkat Krishnan (who is hosting"Joy of Giving Week" in India. I have recently joined as a contributor to the StartFund, an organization founded by Dutch philanthropist Fred Matser.

This is a very innovative way to mobilize funding for worthy projects without the conventional tedium of fund-raising. Others might argue that inner change precedes selfless service, but no matter. "Selfless" means that you have been taken to a place outside yourself. In the Indian tradition, that happens to be impossible, because all of reality is centered in the self. But they don't mean the self that is involved in tit for tat, this for that, getting and spending. Your true self is an expanded state, and you can only reach it through experience.

When giving results in an experience of love, joy, peace, community, charity, caring, and self-worth, the process of expansion has begun. Some visionaries foresee an economy based entirely on giving. That would be the ideal way to heal the excesses of unfettered capitalism (and many other woes), but the basis for universal giving can only be expansion beyond our present sense of self. Merely turning the tables, expecting to be rewarded for how lavishly you give, won't work. Expansion of the self brings a direct experience of love, joy, and the other things I mentioned. You get a glimpse of ecstasy, the state of standing outside yourself in the infinite field of Being. Stand there, and all the money in the world wouldn't buy a ticket back. You would wish to be there forever. Which is why Jesus offered those pungent words about storing up riches in heaven rather than treasure on earth.

The mystery of giving is revealed only when you crave the ecstasy that has been glimpsed. Then a realization hits you with full force. I must give myself away. Without realizing it, you have been trying to do that all your life. In giving away yourself, you open a conduit for the kind of happiness that no one can ever steal from you. Someone once said that permanent joy results when you can give away your last penny. Actually, the penny is only a symbol. Permanent happiness results when you no longer have a personal stake in the world. When you see through the constant needs of I, me, and mine, no more needs will remain. There is only Being, and then every breath is bliss giving itself to bliss. That's the rhythm of life. I'm sure you've felt it. It came over you the last time you truly gave yourself away. You joined reality once more. You entered the space where holiness resides.

Deepak Chopra

What Happiness Is…

by Tess

Free Purple Flowers at The Train Station Unedited Creative Commons

Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

Under all of our desires is our desire to be happy. You may want a new home, nice car, better health or romance but you need it to be happy. Happiness is a positive emotional state, an interal choice.

What happiness is:

Knowing who I am

Being who I am

Accepting who you are

Inner peace

Knowing what is important

Living in harmony with nature

Compassion for others

Being mindful

Savoring everyday

Giving thanks

Total engagement

Having good character

Playfulness and laughter

Passion and enthusiasm

Meaning and purpose

Honoring family and friends

Forgiving self and others

A love of learning

Kindness and generosity

Loving and being loved

Appreciation of beauty

Faith, hope and optimism

An inside job

Living my best life

Nothing Iv’e listed are tangible. Happiness is an inside job. Choose to live happy regardless of your circumstances today. Create a peaceful and loving energy.

It’s an empowering choice!

You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy. -Eric Hoffer

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Unity of Words, Thoughts and Deeds

When my spiritual quest was in full force, I came across the following quote by Gandhi:

“I do what I say, I say what I think, I think what I feel.”

Shortly after reading this, I was in an ashram in the middle of India and heard another spiritual teacher utter the same phrase. This teacher said it in this manner:

“Word, thought and deed must be one.”

I remember sitting on a cement floor in yoga pants and a t-shirt and feeling like the ceiling had parted and God himself was appearing and telling me “Wake up, Nadia…this is what you have to start doing”. So that is when I began to start meaning what I say and doing what I said I would do.

Initially, it was amazing to notice how much of a disconnect there was between word, thought and deed. I was not a bad person, I was quite normal in my behavior. But when you really start to live with the focus on word, thought and deed being one…it is an eye opener.

For example, if you are talking to someone and you tell them that you will talk to them later - well….what does later mean? Does it mean five minutes from now, five hours, five days or is that a polite way of saying you will never talk to them again? I will admit that a law school education makes a person even more aware of the significance of definitions of words. Often people will use the same word and attach completely different meanings. Hence, why there are so many law suits in this country.

Applying the Concept of ”Word, Thought and Deed As One”

Eventually it became a whole lot easier to have word, thought and deed be one. Now it is a way of life. If I change my mind about something, I let the person know and if I can tell that something I said I would do will not happen, I let the other person know that too.

Sometimes this honesty can be a bit much for one on the receiving end but that shows how dishonesty is considered a normal form of behavior. We have justified the existence of the “white lie” a little too much to the point that a white lie is considered okay.

Naturally, this made me wonder how God or the Universe views the white lie. Keep in mind, when you learn about karma and reincarnation, you really do not want to do anything that may jeopardize your future embodiments.

Meditation Garden

When I lived in India and when I was studying with my Buddhist Master, I heard many stories about how karma affected a person’s future. It was enough to convince me to live my life to the best of my ability.

Since I just could not pick up the phone and call the Big Dude in the Sky, I asked for some help from above and that is how I came to discover a theory I call “Instant Karma”.

Instant Karma

I came across Instant Karma back in 2000 while working at a huge law firm. I was a very unhappy person at that time and I just felt like my life was meaningless, even though I was a student of spirituality. One morning, I entered the bathroom at the office and was greeted by a very happy woman who wished me a good morning.

Her joy annoyed me and I ignored her. (The irony is that now I am that happy person in the bathroom at work and now I sometimes get ignored.) When I entered the stall and closed the door, I felt horrible about what I had done. The guilt was so immense, I swore that when I got out of that stall, I would be more gracious with that woman.

Unfortunately, when I opened the door, she was gone and I felt even worse. I silently prayed that I would have another chance. Two hours later when I had to use the bathroom again, life had presented me with another opportunity. The same woman was in the bathroom and I was really kind and I apologized for being rude earlier. She was very understanding and I felt like the Universe and God were giving me a thumbs-up for a job well done.

Soon after this encounter, I started to notice that when I felt bad about doing something and sincerely asked for forgiveness, another opportunity to correct my error always would emerge within hours or a couple of days. Hence, the theory called Instant Karma.


As a result of Instant Karma, I have come to see that the key factor in anything you say, do or think is the intention behind it. Often in life, people say or do things totally unaware of the implications. One area that this is seen the most is in dating.

Whether you are a man or a woman, we all have had experiences in dating where someone told us that they would call us or do something, only to have that person vanish. I realize that the person who did the vanishing did so in an effort to not cause pain but ultimately ended up causing more pain than if they had been truthful. Take this example and apply it to every aspect of life and we see the same thing happening at one point or another.

People want to be liked and they do not want to cause pain, so they lie. Lying never does any good and it only creates more pain. The best way to be in this world, and it does take time to master, is to always mean what we say and do what we say we will do.

We like it when people treat us well. We also have the responsibility to treat others well. To sit back in our chairs and lament about how bad things are does not help in any way. We are of greater service when we start acting the way we want others to treat us. So if you want someone to treat you with respect, then treat others with respect. And the first step you can take to help make that happen is to have your words, thoughts and deeds be one.

By Nadia - Happy Lotus

Dharmapada Sutra: Buddhist Wisdom

Dhammapada Sutta: Buddhist Proverbs, Sayings, Aphorisms

Buddhist Proverbs from 100 BCE

Chapters 1-4, Verses 1-59

I. Twin Verses, Mind, Anger and Hatred, Discernment, Practice, Contrary Ways, Contrasting Pairs, Yamakavagga Verses 1-20

II. Vigilance, Watchfulness, Earnestness, Diligence, Zeal, Self-Control, Joy, Nirvana, Appamadavagga Verses 21-32

III. The Mind, Thoughts, Cittavagga Verses 33-43

IV. Flowers, Blossoms, Things of the World, The Flowers of Life, The Fragrance of Good Deeds, Pupphavagga Verses 44-59

Chapters 5-8, Verses 60-115

V. Fools, Evil Fruit, Ambition, The Childish Person, Balavagga Verses 60-75

VI. The Wise Man (Pandita), The Skilled Person, The Wise, Panditavagga Verses 76-89

VII. Infinite Freedom, The Venerable (Arhat), The Accomplished Person, The Arahant, Arahantavagga Verses 90-99

VIII. Better Than a Thousand, Thousands, Sahassavagga Verses 100-115

Chapters 9-12, Verses 116-166

IX. Good and Evil, Avoid Evil Deeds and Do Good, Consequences of Evil, Detriment, Papavagga Verses 116-128

X. Don't Punish or Kill, Don't Inflict Pain on Others, Overcome Desires, Train Yourself,
Avoid Violence, Evil Returns Evil, Dandavagga Verses 129-145

XI. Beyond Life, Old Age, Broken Down House, Illness, Death, Jaravagga Verses 146-156

XII. Self-Possession, Self Control, Propriety, Duty, Oneself, The Self, Attavagga Verses 157-166

Chapters 13-16, Verses 167-220

XIII. The World, Illusions, Neglect, Practice, Lokavagga Verses 167-178

XIV. The Buddha, The Awakened, Restrained, Unbound, Refuge, Buddhavagga Verses 179-196

XV. Happiness, Being at Ease, Bliss, Follow the Wise, Sukhavagga Verses 197-208

XVI. Affection, Pleasing, Sorrow, Attachments, Piyavagga Verses 209-220

Chapters 17-20, Verses 221-289

XVII Guarding One's Character , Daily Efforts, Controlling Emotions, Anger, Kodhavagga Verses 221-234

XVIII Impurities, Faults, Ignorance, Envy, Malavagga Verses 235-255

XIX The Righteous , True Sages, Wise Elders, Monks, The Just, Dhammatthavagga Verses 256-272

XX The Eightfold Path, Impermanence, Meditation, Death, The Path, Maggavagga Verses 273-289

Dhammapada Sutta: Translations, Index, Bibliography, Links, Commentary


The closed heart

This is an interesting phenomenon which I found out empirically earlier and now suddenly discovered in my favourite saint’s writings (it seems he touched all possible subjects!).

“This is the phenomenon of reflection.There are people who may sit together, work together, live together for their whole lives, and yet they may be closed to one another. It is the same reflection. If the heart of one person is closed, its influence is to close the heart of another. A person with closed heart will close the heart of others everywhere he goes. Even the most loving person will helplessly feel the doors of the heart closed, to his greatest regret, not knowing what has happened. It is an unconscious phenomenon.” said Hazrat Inayat Khan.

And indeed it is so! Strange enough, if there is a person with a closed heart, it takes a huge amount of love to withstand this breath of death (a closed heart feels like a death of the Spirit)…

I wonder if anyone of you have made same or opposite experiences?

LOVE; axinia

(image by Axinia)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

7 Reasons to be grateful

Aloha from Lithuania,

Gratitude is such a powerful state of mind. The old alchemists spent centuries trying to turn lead into gold. Gratitude will allow you to be an alchemist in your own life and turn any event into an incredible gift.

What we experience, the choices we make, and what we create next in our life is totally dependent upon our attitude.

There are so many reasons to be grateful, and here is a list of my top ones. Feel free to add yours in the comment section!

1.Gratitude simply feels good. When I am grateful for what is, I feel good. It can turn a formally miserable, rainy day into a glorious day filled with limitless possibilities.

2. Gratitude deepens my connection to the divine. When I am grateful, I feel connected to everyone and, most importantly, to God and my god-self.

3. Gratitude expands my perspective. I can see life from a different perspective, one that allows me to see the magical nature of all of life.

4. Gratitude assists me to respond lovingly. When I am grateful, I can be loving to even my biggest critics.

5. Gratitude helps me release all judgments. When I view the world through the eyes of gratitude, it is virtually impossible to judge anyone or anything.

6. Gratitude is a gift to myself and everyone around me. When I am grateful, the whole world seems to smile with me, and I can smile at the world from the depths of my soul.

7. Gratitude has the power to heal all relationships. When I am grateful, all of my relationships are harmonious, expansive, and based in love.

Gratitude has the ability to return us to that childlike nature where we are amazed and excited by all of life and are connected to God in a concrete and constructive manner.

I used to end my day by writing a gratitude list. Each night, I would list all the things I was grateful for that day. I played a little game with myself to make sure I added one new thing each day. That list transformed my way of thinking and my life. Try it; I think you will like it!

Angels always resonate with the energy of gratitude. I think that I is why we are so attracted to them.

With love, aloha and a deep sense of gratitude,


More Tips for Developing an Excellent Life

Be approachable. Keep your door open, share your own life and admit your mistakes. Make every effort to be approachable. The more approachable you are the more you will learn about your people and your organization. If you’re not open – people will withhold important information from you and your company will suffer. Excellent organizations are open and transparent. They are places where people feel comfortable sharing their opinions. If you are approachable, you are on your way to creating an open and honest environment.

Take an hour a day to grow. Take an hour a day to read, sit quietly, exercise, listen to a podcast or have lunch with a mentor. Making self development a regular habit is hard in the beginning but the payoffs are HUGE. The more you know and grow yourself – the more effective you will be to your organization.

Know your strengths. Knowing your strengths will help you decide where to spend your time and what you need to delegate. Focus on working in your areas of strength whenever possible. You can overcome and grow in areas of weakness but it requires a huge investment of time. It’s more productive and more fun to work in your strengths and to delegate the tasks that fall in your areas of weaknesses.

De-stress. If you’re stressed out you won’t perform at your maximum potential. There are no excuses or reasons for allowing stress to become a long term state of mind. Stress negatively affects your life and all who come into contact with you. You need to make de-stressing a priority. Take time to decompress, breathe and let go of all the worry. By doing this, you’ll be able to show up at work with more creativity and you’ll make a bigger impact on those your serve.

Study industry material. If you read and research your industry for an hour a day – you’ll be an industry expert within five years. The time you spend in study will definitely help grow every area of your business. It will help you to be more aware of trends, be quicker to make changes or create new products and it will give you a competitive edge. Being an expert in your industry is the best marketing tool you can have.

Volunteer. Volunteering individually or with your organization is rewarding and can be an effective part of marketing your business. Getting out of your own life and focusing on someone else is a great way to de-stress and to get in touch with gratitude. In addition, volunteering allows you to be part of something outside your business. You are able to make a difference, meet new people and market yourself and your business.

Reading Your Space

Every one of our life circumstances is a reflection of our inner state of Being. So it’s not surprising that incredible amounts of insight can be gained just by looking around our physical space!

Have a look at your current environment, just as it is right now. Your entire surroundings are reflecting your inner state of Being back to you, just as you are right now. I had tremendous fun doing this exercise this morning, contemplating the several boxes that, two months after moving, are somehow still sitting around upstairs. Here’s what I discovered:

Boxes that are open but not yet unpacked. Meaning: I’m almost ready to settle down after a year of whirlwind changes in life and business … but not quite. And since I’m tolerating the boxes with a surprising amount of equanimity, I must be willing to wait on settling down until I’ve created exactly what I want.

A bookshelf in mid-assembly. Meaning: I’m creating supportive structures. I have the concept and I’m in the process of implementing … but it’s not all built yet. It’s amazing how true this is for my business right now!

Everything is really, really clean. (I’m not a neat-freak … my housekeeper was here today. I’m still taking credit for the cleanliness!) Meaning: I am clear on what I want. No negative energy is interfering with my process.

There are disorganized places all over … in closets, on my desk, etc. Meaning: While I’m clear on what I want, I’m not sure yet where or how everything fits in! So true …

I have a surprising amount of water glasses everywhere! Meaning: Hmm. I’m going to take it as a nudge from myself to drink more water!

We can gain a stunning amount of insight into ourselves from our surroundings. If our space is disorganized, are our thoughts and plans in disarray also? If we’re constantly picking stuff up off the floor, are we dropping the ball somewhere in our lives … or feeling that way? If we have too much stuff and our closets are overflowing, have we outgrown other circumstances, such as a relationship or job?

Don’t second-guess your initial interpretations! You are trying to tell yourself something through your physical surroundings … and you are not going to be cryptic with yourself.

We create all the time, consciously or unconsciously. We do this so that we can experience ourselves though our creations in new ways – even if that creation is just the state of our home.

Can you “read” your space? What is your environment reflecting back to you?


Random Acts of Kindness

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness". - Seneca

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
Author: Audrey Hepburn, when asked about her beauty secrets

Health Benefits of Kindness - Abbreviated

Numerous scientific studies show that acts of kindness result in significant health benefits, both physical and mental. Here are some key points:

• Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.

• A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act is often referred to as a "helper's high," involving physical sensations and the release of the body's natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.

• Stress-related health problems improve after performing kind acts. Helping reverses feelings of depression, supplies social contact, and decreases feelings of hostility and isolation that can cause stress, overeating, ulcers, etc. A drop in stress may, for some people, decrease the constriction within the lungs that leads to asthma attacks.

• Helping can enhance our feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, and vigor, and can reduce the unhealthy sense of isolation.

• A decrease in both the intensity and the awareness of physical pain can occur.

• The incidence of attitudes, such as chronic hostility, that negatively arouse and damage the body is reduced.

• The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours or even days whenever the helping act is remembered.

• An increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression, is achieved.

• Once we establish an "affiliative connection" with someone - a relationship of friendship, love, or some sort of positive bonding - we feel emotions that can strengthen the immune system.

• Adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of mental health.

• The practice of caring for strangers translates to immense immune and healing benefits.

• Regular club attendance, volunteering, entertaining, or faith group attendance is the happiness equivalent of getting a college degree or more than doubling your income.

Kindness: How Good Deeds Can Be Good for You!

People who perform Random Acts of Kindness generally agree that doing a kind deed for someone else makes them "feel good." But apart from sheer niceness, why should people be encouraged to commit Acts of Kindness? Are there any other concrete benefits that would motivate more people to become kinder?

The answer is an overwhelming "yes!" A number of scientific studies show that Acts of Kindness result in significant health benefits, both physical and mental, for those who perform them.

One of the most compelling studies of altruism was performed by Allan Luks and documented in his 1991 book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others. Luks is the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City.

Luks' study involved more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. He sent a 17-question survey to these volunteers, asking them how they felt when they did a kind act. A total of 3,296 surveys were returned to Luks, and after a computerized analysis, he saw a clear cause-and-effect relationship between helping and good health. In a nutshell, Luks' concluded, "Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders both serious and minor, psychological and physical."

The volunteers in Luks' study testified to feeling a rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act. This feeling, which Luks calls "helper's high," involves physical sensations that strongly indicate a sharp reduction in stress and the release of the body's natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.

This reduction in stress is vital to the health improvements reported by so many study volunteers. (In fact, more than 90 percent of Luks' volunteers reported that regular volunteering produced feelings which are a powerful antidote to stress.) Why is stress reduction so important? Because stress can be the root cause of so many maladies, according to Hans Selye, a Hungarian physician who wrote a groundbreaking book called The Stress of Life in 1956.

In this book, Selye coined the term "stress," describing it as a physiological response to external experiences and traumas. Stress causes a racing heart and increased breathing rate, and also sparks the adrenal glands to pump adrenaline into our bloodstream, giving us extra strength. In addition, corticosteroids — which are powerful hormones — and adrenaline work together to release fatty acids into the bloodstream, where they become energy for our muscles.

This arousal, if prolonged, shifts from a source of strength and energy into a cause of deterioration. For example, corticosteroids will, over a prolonged period, suppress immune-system functioning. Increased adrenaline and corticosteroids can aggravate diabetes. And as the adrenaline-produced fatty acids needed for energy stay in the blood, the liver converts them into cholesterol, which can lead to arteriosclerosis. A speeded-up heart rate, if prolonged, will increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

In his book, Selye actually called for a new way of life that would reduce the negative effects of stress — a way of life he dubbed "altruistic egoism." This way of life would require us to adopt behaviors that involve "the creation of feelings of accomplishment and security [in ourselves] through the inspiration in others of love, good will and gratitude for what we have done or are likely to do in the future." Selye's fundamental remedy was to do good for the self by making the effort to do good for others.

Selye's findings on stress are cited by Luks because many of his study volunteers had stress-related health problems that improved after performing kind acts.

Source: Luks, Allan. The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others. New York:, 2001.


Breathing can transform your life.

If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.

If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.

If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.

If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.

If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.

If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.

If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.

So breathe.

And enjoy each moment of this life.

They’re too fleeting and few to waste.

by Leo of Zen Habits.