What is meditation

I recommend never following anyone else’s advice, especially not my advice! Far better to listen to your inner voice, the voice of your heart and follow its advice without hesitation. Then you can never go wrong. By all means listen to the input of others, if they are talking positively and from a place of consciousness, evaluate it and then make up your own mind according to what feels right for you. Never ask yourself what you think – ask yourself instead how you feel. Because only your heart knows what’s right for you.

But there are many times when it seems impossible to hear that still, small voice, the voice of your heart, because your mind is crowded out with deafening chatter!

When that happens there’s always one solution that always works – meditation. Particularly silent meditation. For me the primary purpose of silent meditation is to gain deep insights into what’s going on in your mind and why you need not take any notice of it.

So what is meditation? Many people ask me that and only today an answer came into my inbox, a quote from the late enlightened master, Osho, which sums it up beautifully. Here’s what he said:

“And what is meditation? It does not mean meditating upon something; the English word is misleading. In English there is no word adequate enough to translate Buddha’s word samasati. It has been translated as meditation, as right mindfulness, as awareness, as consciousness, alertness, watchfulness, witnessing – but there is not really a single word which has the quality of samasati. Samasati means: consciousness is, but without any content. There is no thought, no desire, nothing is stirred in you. You are not contemplating about God or about great things … nature and its beauty, the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and their immensely significant statements. You are not contemplating! You are not concentrating on any special object either. You are not chanting a mantra, because those are all things of the mind, those are all contents of the mind. You are not doing anything! The mind is utterly empty, and you are simply there in that emptiness. A kind of presence, a pure presence, with nowhere to go – utterly relaxed into oneself, at rest, at home. That is the meaning of Buddha’s meditation.”

Just one thing to be careful of – it’s no use making an effort to empty your mind because no effort is involved. This is about non-doing, letting go of everything and simply witnessing. So if you ask how to do it, you’ve missed it! There’s a knack to it and if you want it enough, you’ll get it. Eventually…

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Cameron’s big blunder

Undoubtedly this is David Cameron’s biggest blunder to date!

I refer to the nauseating spectacle of President Xi Jinping of China, currently one of the world’s most repressive dictators, being conducted to Parliament in the company of our Queen in a gilt horse-drawn carriage where he was invited – invited mind you – to address both houses of Parliament.

Most people in Chia have no conception of a Parliamentary democracy, and anyone with even the slightest interest in human rights will realise that by welcoming Jinping to Britain as a business partner we implicitly condone this man’s disgusting behaviour towards his own people and the world at large. Let’s not mince words, if I was a Chinese citizen writing a piece like this that was even mildly critical of the Government or its policies, I would expect to end up spending a very long time in a seriously unpleasant prison.

It beggars belief, but Jinping has created an even more repressive regime than his predecessor, and spares no effort to squash and silence all opposition and dissent. There is no such thing as a fair trial in China and lengthy prison sentences based on trumped-up charges are commonplace, and so is torture and even execution. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that China’s prisons are not so much packed with hardened criminals, but with artists, writers, musicians and political activists who strive for liberty and freedom of expression.

These people are regarded as traitors and enemies of the state, even though their efforts are to better serve their fellow humans and contribute to what should be an evolving culture.

President Jinping even has the arrogance to criticise us in Britain for giving an audience to the Dalai Lama when he visited the UK, meaning he even tries to influence who we can talk and listen to in our own country! Let’s not forget that the Dalai Lama is probably doing more for world peace than anyone else on the planet right now and has had to live in exile from his own home country since China invaded and took over Tibet in 1950.

So not only is it demeaning in the extreme for us with our democratic values to collude with this autocratic figure, we actually sell our soul down the river because we tacitly support him while he gets away with his outrageous behaviour. In effect Britain’s message to China is, “do whatever you like while we turn a blind eye. We just want your money.” This is not appropriate behaviour for a British Government that wants to preach from the moral high ground. If you want to do that you must be squeaky clean with no skeletons in the closet.

So why is this Cameron’s biggest blunder to date? Because we have signed a mega-billion pound deal with this guy for China to build three new nuclear power stations with French company EDF energy in England which the Chinese will control, so not only will they have valuable assets on our sovereign territory, but any time China takes a dislike to us criticising them or behaving in any way of which they disapprove, they can simply switch the lights off, and politically that is a massive risk to our security because going on their track record China does look like it wants influence and power wherever it can get it.

Without a power supply our democracy as we know it, including our freedom of speech, simply disappears overnight.

You might wonder why a post like this has a place in a blog aimed at serving people who want to live more consciously. It’s because conscious awareness includes everything in real life, including politics. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Kowtowing to ruthless autocrats is not the behaviour of the impeccable warrior – we don’t need gurus to tell us that. Everything has a price and the price of these new power stations is the loss of our integrity, our dignity and our self-esteem on the world stage, and very possibly ultimately our freedom and our right to self-determination too. But even worse, we put out a very counter-productive message – that unacceptable behaviour will be rewarded.

If we want to hold our heads high, if we want to feel good about ourselves, if we want to be an example to the world of right living and higher consciousness, getting into bed with ruthless dictators is not the way to go.

Perseverence furthers (from the I Ching)

We’ve been having a new kitchen installed and I understand now why people say that having building or refurbishment work done in their own home is stressful.

It was all going so well, just a few minor glitches that were easily rectified, and we were really enjoying the creative process until it came to the infernal tiles. Floor and wall, that is. We’d spent ages choosing floor tiles, making sure the colours would perfectly compliment the carefully chosen shades and tones of the kitchen units, and ordered them from B & Q. The delivery lorry dumped them outside the house on the pavement and our very kind builder and plumber, both a lot fitter and younger that me, carried them inside, a job that cost them a precious half hour.

A few days later the tiler turned up to lay a screed over the floor to make a suitable flat and level surface, took one look at the stack of tiles in the hallway and said, “sorry mate, can’t lay these, they’re wall tiles. Not strong enough for flooring.”

“But it says on the box…” I stuttered, utterly flummoxed.

“Yes I know. It says wall and floor tiles. But I’m telling from my experience, they are no good for flooring.” And with that he put one down on the floor and dropped a cookery book on it. It shattered into many pieces immediately. Point taken.

Meanwhile he started laying the screed while we rushed out to a tile shop to find some suitable replacement tiles.

A couple of days later the new tiles were unceremoniously dumped in the road outside our house and this time I schlepped them inside. I had never appreciated just how incredibly heavy tiles are.

A couple of days later a different tiler turned up to lay the new tiles. We had quizzed the young man in the shop (not B & Q this time) and he had assured us they were suitable for flooring. The new tiler looked at the new tiles and proclaimed them excellently suitable for purpose. We breathed a massive sigh of relief. Now at last we could get our beautiful new floor laid.

Then the tiler looked at the newly screeded floor surface, gulped and said, “sorry mate, can’t lay tiles on that surface. It’s like the foothills of the Himalayas!” And with that he produced a six-foot long spirit level to demonstrate his point, which we had to admit, was plain to see and absolutely true. “You’ll have to get Jules (our builder) to get some latex up here to go over it with,” he said.

And with that he put his coat on, gathered up his tools and swept out of our house.

Just then, as we were looking at each other aghast, the ‘phone rang.

“Hi, it’s Kate here (our kitchen designer and supplier). Bad new I’m afraid. Your kitchen units are in a lorry on its way over from the factory in Germany and they are held up in a seven-mile long queue at Calais because the ferry workers are on strike.” By this time I was almost tearing my hair out.

“How long will it take?” I asked.

“Nobody knows…Could take weeks, or it could be all over tomorrow.”

From the above story (that’s just a small part of it) I learned that because I insist on being a control freak I go though agonies of frustration when I lose control. Yet the Guru’s tell me I should surrender and trust the Universe to provide.

But I know damn well if I did that, this kitchen would never be built.

So what is the answer? How to cope?

Meditation. Every day, to gather strength, to remain centred, to save my sanity, to carry on regardless, to keep my faith in myself, to keep things in perspective, for balance, and 101 other reasons.

Then I go out and regain control.

I told our builder the other day, “when I said I wanted it finished in time for Christmas, I wasn’t joking.”

That was in May, and there’s still a way to go…

A red rag to a coach

Here’s an interesting thought that someone sent me recently. It’s a quote from the late Indian guru Osho, who says:

“There is no goal of life. Life itself is its goal. It is not moving towards some target. It is herenow, it has no future. Life is always in the present”.

So perhaps as a Life Coach and author the teaching I should pass on to my clients and readers is to understand that the goal is to realise there is no goal. Phew, what a relief. That means no more striving!