Feb 16 – As I began to love myself

 

I was going through my previous posts and came across something that I had written about two years ago on the day before mine and the blog’s birthday. It was inspired from the deeply touching text by Charlie Chaplin, called “As I began to love myself”. The text is a true masterpiece and a must read, one of those pieces that you read with new eyes every time. It that it also resonated a lot with my earlier reflections on Love.

While reading what I`ve written felt like listening to a very close friend:

“I hope that reading it will inspire you to go on a self-discovery trip and test whether his findings are valid for you. Because life is not only about getting inspired by others, but most importantly-about discovering your own truth and staying authentic.  And this is what this blog is about.”

This is something that I truly believe in. And I think it indeed highlights the essence of the blog. And to my surprise, I somehow felt inspired by my own words. And all the troubles of the day faded away. True magic.

You can read the full post here.

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Feb 14 – Love is

Valentines day

 

It`s not a secret that I am not a fan of St. Valentine’s day mainly because of the massive commercial hype around it.  All the hearts, glitter, huge amounts of fluffy gifts with ambiguous purpose are quite a turn off for me. Additionally, the pressure to display your love and affection (for example by having dinner together with 100 other couples) also feels unnatural and somehow unauthentic. Furthermore, I think the whole “celebration” is in some way discriminatory and cruel to all single people who are left without a reason to celebrate.

On the other hand, it is a beautiful concept to have a day when you can pay tribute to Love and to reflect what it means to you.  Because even though the critics of the day claim that we should express our love daily (which I actually fully agree with) and without occasion the reality is that it doesn`t always work and having an occasion to be reminded of the meaning and importance of Love is actually  a pretty good idea.

So what is Love? There have been many different approaches towards defining Love,  but I think that it is important for everyone to formulate their personal definition. For me, it starts from truly loving and respecting yourself (we all need to start from somewhere 😉 ) and then expanding it to others. It manifests through acceptance rather than desire to change the other person as well as care for the well being of the person above and beyond our personal well being. And very importantly – it is not a noun, but a verb; something that requires dedication and attention.

Love is also a driving force for good and creativity and helps us to become improved versions of ourselves. And as the brilliant Khalil Gibran puts it in his chapter on Love in his masterpiece “The Prophet”:

“Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

For those of you who want to see his whole message, have a look at the video:

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Feb 12- You have the power

Girl on a swing

Today I spent most of the day on my own, doing a photography course. To my surprise, I didn’t feel bored, lonely or missing something. On the contrary- I felt energized to be doing something that feels meaningful and puts me in a certain flow.

As usual, in the course of the day I received a “message” that reinforced that. I was reading an interview with the psychologist Mikhail Litvak and something that he said and really resonated with my experience today is:

“The ability to appreciate spending time on your own is a sign of spiritual maturation and growth.  All our greatest accomplishments happened when we were alone.”

Sometimes we don`t realize it, but we actually achieve the most important things in our lives on our own. Support, team work and collaboration are very important, but the moment of creation, the idea, the drive come from our own individual source to which we usually connect when we are alone. This source gives us the power to dream, envision and create. And most importantly- the power to act in a unique way.  We should not forget how powerful we are and how important and nourishing are the moments that we spend on our own, connecting to ourselves.

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Feb 5 – Appreciate your gifts

Buddha statue

It is so easy to forget what we have until we lose it. The best example is our health.  We hardly spend time to realize and appreciate the fact that we are healthy unless something happens to our bodies. Only when we are unwell we start contemplating how great it is to be able to do anything you feel like without any restriction or pain.

Let’s start the week with the practice of reminding ourselves that our healthy bodies and minds are our biggest gifts and to also take care of ourselves by taking a nice walk outside, cooking healthy food, taking a relaxing bath or anything that works for us. Let’s appreciate and take care of our gifts 😉

You can find yesterday`s inspiration here.

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Feb 2 – Find new eyes

 

A very interesting story that I read in “My Grandfather’s blessings” was the author’s experience with a gifted cancer surgeon suffering from depression. One of her ways to improve his condition was asking him to reflect on the events that happened during the day and to write down the answers to the following questions:

What surprised me today?

What moved me today?

What inspired me today?

The idea behind it was to relive the day from a new perspective and to find meaning and joy.

Initially his answers were “Nothing, nothing and nothing”. But gradually he started noticing more things around him that could answer these questions. At first he would only notice these things a few hours after they actually happened. But gradually the lag became smaller and smaller, and he started to build  a capacity for spotting the blessings around him. He soon realized that most of the things that moved and inspired him were related to his patients and their strength, and determination to live.

This newly developed capacity not only helped him to overcome his depression, but also to connect better to his patients and listen not only to their medical complaints, but also to their hearts.

This beautiful story made me think about the discoveries that we are capable of making at any time by seeing the world with new eyes. It is true that sometimes it is best to get out of the situation  if thigs don`t work out for us. But there are many other times when we need to seek meaning with a new outlook and most importantly- with our heart, in order to rediscover and cherish what we have.

Today when I asked myself these questions the answers that came to mind were:

  • I was (very positively) surprised to find out that my next “Soul Sisters” meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.
  • I watched again the Piper animation which I find very moving and inspiring.
  • I was also very inspired by the story above, which I decided to also share with you!

So go for it- think about the three questions and share your answers and reflections!

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Jan 31 – Celebrate your accomplishments

 

 

After today’s post it will be one full month of posting every day. The idea to commit to this exercise came very naturally and I was super enthusiastic with the concept of spontaneity which I wanted and still want to stick to no matter what.

Of course, the implementation wasn’t so smooth as the conception of the idea behind it. Sometimes I was very inspired and ideas were flowing. But some other times it simply wasn`’t my day, or I was just tired or had little energy and inspiration. That’s where discipline kicked in.. And it worked. Gradually I started noticing more things that inspired me every day.

I am usually not taking compliments very gracefully. I would normally reply with “oh, really” or “yeah, right”, or return the compliment to the person who gave it. But today my inspiration is myself.  I feel proud for following my passion and putting the energy to do what I feel I should be doing- staying true and inspired and inspiring others to do the same. And I am super happy I can share this journey with you 🙂 So let’s keep on rolling!

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Jan 29- Lead by example

I had a very interesting and inspirational chat with my teacher from Brahma Kumaris. She was talking about good qualities to develop in ourselves. One of these qualities is the ability make a change without judging or criticizing, but by giving a good example and acting as a role model. I found that to be very insightful and also powerful from two perspectives.

  • First of all, it is very unlikely that you`ll make somebody change by criticizing them. In such situations the recipient of the criticism will naturally get defensive which is likely to cause them to close towards you rather than make the change that you were aiming for in the first place.
  • And second- I really believe that if we want to make any positive change in our environment the first place to start implementing is in ourselves. Inspiring others by “walking the talk” is always stronger that simply preaching. It`s like a dance school- the best way to learn how to dance is not to read a book about dancing, but to observe the others and then dance yourself.

Soon after this discussion I attended a gathering with a group of charismatic ladies. The idea behind it was to have an assembly of like-minded ladies who can learn from each other, but also inspire and empower each other and create a nurturing environment, a “sisterhood” that would promote personal growth and also overall positive change which in my view we so badly need nowadays.

This meeting made a big impression on me in many ways. What was truly inspiring was to be in a female group with people whom you`ve never met before and to experience kindness, support and openness. A group of strong and well-established women that gathered to support each other and to nurture feminine qualities. There were some of them who travelled from different cities for this gathering and basically invested half of their Saturday to do this. For me this was truly incredible.

Some of the ladies performed a dance that they prepared especially for us and another one told us a story from her childhood. A powerful story, showing that when you are mistreated by your family a good way to improve the relationship is to think about all the positive things that you learned/got from the person and to thank them about it rather than criticize all the time.

That was so impactful for me! It made me think about the importance of developing good qualities. And realizing that criticizing is not a solution. The real solution lies in focusing on the positive aspects of people who criticize you and being the change you want to see in others.

It was also through personal example that the lady storyteller conveyed this important lesson to all of us.

Being a role model is not about showing the world how much we`ve accomplished and how perfect we are. It is about opening our hearts and sharing our own learnings in our own authentic way with a good will. This is one of the most powerful tools that we actually have and which we should use as often as possible!

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Jan 27 – Listen to your gut

I was reading my post from yesterday on my meeting with Amma and reflecting on the peculiar chain of events that unfolded on that day:

When I decided to attend her event, I knew that it was extremely difficult and very unlikely to actually reach her as there were more than a thousand people waiting to meet her. It was also a working day and I couldn`t go there earlier than late afternoon; furthermore, the venue was at a remote location, so I couldn`t stay until too late. To top it up- It was also not easily accessible by public transport. Overall- a sort of a no-go situation.

There was no indication whatsoever that I would make it, but just knew I have to give it a try. So I travelled to the venue in the late afternoon, entered and took my place at the end of the endless queue. Soon afterwards I started talking to a lady who told me that there is a special queue for first timers. With some disbelief I approached one of the organizers to find out that this queue really exists and what is more- it goes with a priority over the other queue! How unbelievable is that!

I took my place at the second queue, waited for a few hours and made it for the hug (and also got a special personal mantra from Amma, just how lucky was I?). It was time to go and I started looking up alternatives  to make it to the nearest city. It was quite late and taxi seemed to be the only option.

On my way out I met some people at the front who in the spirit of the event were offering free rides to people to the nearest city. The warmth and affection that Amma had given to all of us, spread and gave us a feeling of oneness and desire to help, but also trust to accept the offered help without any doubts or fears.

The whole day just felt right- from beginning to end. Against all odds. 

Sometimes things don`t seem promising in the beginning but in the process it works out beautifully. And you would have never figured it out unless you have listened to your gut.  It doesn`t work all the time. But when it does, it is pure magic. It is therefore absolutely worth it to just follow your instincts every time when there is an opportunity.

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Jan 26 – Laughter is the song of your soul

My inspiration for today came from Amma – the Indian lady that has been proclaimed as a “ Hugging Saint”. She was born in 1953 in the Indian stake Kerala and grew up in a poor fisherman’s family. When she was nine years old her mother developed an illness and she remained at home to take care of the household. Deeply touched by the poverty in her village she began to share her clothes and food with those in need. She also began to hug people as a way to comfort them and gradually became more and more recognized and appreciated. At one point she received the name  “Amma” and was recognized as a saint.

I remember my encounter with her about a year ago. She had her brightest smile and was sitting on a big chair surrounded by musicians singing mantras and performing  vibrant music.  In front of her was an endless queue waiting for her to give them their dashan (hug and blessing) which I was also a part of.  Amma is well known for embracing large amounts of people without taking any breaks. On the day that I met her there were more than a thousand visitors. Up to date she has hugged more than 30 mnl people.

As I came for the first time, I was placed in the beginning of the queue and luckily had to wait only a few hours. People behind me waited a lot more. She kept on hugging people overnight. Always smiling and full of energy. When she hugged me she looked me in my eyes and exclaimed “My daughter!” She radiated so much warmth and love and it felt like I had always known her. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

Amma is one of the happiest, and most positive and high-hearted being that I`ve ever seen . For her being joyful is a natural state and loving is a religion.

It is the bright, joyful and selfless individuals like Amma that ignite this world and make it a better place. It is the people who give and embrace without asking for anything in return that are our true role models and are capable of inspiring us to be like them and to make a change. Make a change by loving and being compassionate and never by threatening or forcing. Making a change by staying inspired and inspiring others.

I`ll end with one of Amma’s many beautiful quotes:

“Do you know that days go by regardless of you smiling or crying all day long

Therefore- smile!”

And my  yesterday`s post inspired by reading can be found here.

*On the picture- a beautiful smiling lady reading a book in front of her house in Kerala, India.

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