Dalai Lama Quotes

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Emotions

What an emotional weekend I have had.... this weekend i met some friends from the USA who were here for a very short time and i was soooo sad to realize that even if i will return one day my problems with my own unhappiness will not disappear. Again, i had built up this illusion that everything will change once i am back there. And it will not. Because instead of tackling my issues with myself here, I just built this huge pink cloud and thought that i do not have to do anything with myself, just returning will solve things. For a lot of the people including my husband this had been crystal clear. Not for me though. Well, better late than never right? So now again, it is solely up to me to change. Nobody to blame except my own self. That hurts but it is necessary. Change is not supposed to be easy or pleasant. It is hard. And I feel very lonely. But i will not give in. I want to be able to be a better and healthier person. Therefore I will have to work on myself. Whenever my husband stated that my unhappiness is the fruit of not being able to immerse myself into the present moment I was very quick in blaming him or my present life on feeling sad. Now I know that this is not true. Unless I find a way to change my attitude towards myself here in this present moment, the future will not be pink but just as grey. So from feeling depressed and sad I went to feeling angry this morning. Why? Because my husband took the liberty to be sick for a day and I am not used to any other person being weak than my self. I realized how very selfish I am and I despise myself for that. I was not showing compassion towards himself but anger. That changed in the afternoon after we had a wonderful open conversation and I felt that he is just as desperate for a positive outlook on my present state of mind than I am. And i felt very very lucky to be surrounded by him. To be able to live next to him. I felt loved and that made me cry. Because i dont feel worthy of his love. He truly lives the unconditional love that I am asking for. Not always but he tries. Much harder does he try than myself. Which made me mad at myself again. And then, in the evening I felt happy for the first time in a long time. We played a family game and I felt very much a part of it all. Included in the warmth that my children and husband offer so abundantly. So i pretty much felt the whole chain of feelings. And now I am calm and satisfied. And hopeful and uplifted. I thank God for this opportunity to come in close contact with my inner voice this weekend. I also feel surrounded by a lot of good people that I can learn from. I have a very good friend who struggled with her own issues over the past week and i felt that. I wish I could take away her pain but i cannot. She has to go through her load of emotions. I am there if she needs me. That is all I can do. I will pray tonight that she finds peace in herself and the answers she is seeking. May you all be able to enjoy and learn from your emotions no matter how difficult they may seem at the moment.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What are you worth?

Today, I am humbled by an answer my 10 year old gave me. I was asking him a question I had been asked yesterday: What do you think you are worth? I quite frankly did not come up with a good answer but my son did. He said I am worth as much as there is. Wonderful definition of self-worth I find. I am going to have to think really hard to be able to put that in better words. I am a slow learner and just finding out that self-worth does not depend on what you do, have achieved or made... but this intrinsic value is just there without me doing anything In my life, I always did stuff and i hardly ever stopped. Now I look at my son, and he already knows more about himelf than I did. He does not feel the need to accomplish things in order to feel loved. He just is. I am very happy about this. And will try to feel more what is in me without adding something from the outside. I will look at my son for guidance and give thanks to God for providing me with everything I need on a daily basis if I choose to look.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Headstand and lessons of life

This morning as i was doing yoga i once again realized what a wonderful life lesson it provides. I was coming up into headstand and noticed that not only do i still need the wall to be near me, even after having come up into headstand for the past 4 years and fallen forward only 2, it is also the pose that i most cherish and fear at the same time. I am fearful of being on my own without the wall, just like i am fearful to be in my life on my own. I am fearful of falling. Just like i am fearful of making mistakes . I am fearful of trusting my body and not using my mind. Just like i am fearful of trusting my instincts more than my thoughts. On the other hand i cherish the feeling of being upside down, just like i cherish the turmoil my life always has been. I cherish the fact that after a period of wobbling there usually enters some stillness into my body and i just hear my breath. Just like i love the daily routine that my life provides. So it is my pose. i would love to work on it just like i would love to work on my current life... if only it wouldnt cause such fear to become different. I will continue to work towards letting go of the wall, and being free. I know there will be a day where i can feel it is the right day to try.
Have a nice day everybody!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anger part 2

It seems that anger is a particular dominant emotion of mine... so i had to look again what the Dalai Lama says and i found a quote that i would love to post here: "The key to transforming our hearts and minds is to have an understanding of the way our thoughts and emotions work. We need to learn how to identify the opposing sides in our inner conflicts. With anger, for example, we need to see how destructive anger is, and, at the same time, realize that there are antidotes within our own thoughts and emotions that we can use to counter it." So he says. Problem is that it seems I havent found the right antidotes yet... so today i was faced with the fact that after one of the many quarrels with my husband I realized that if I peel of the layer of anger what is left is pain and hurt. I am very sensitive it seems and it doesnt help knowing that. Thicker skin is required as well as more letting go.... how will I get that? Today i found some solace in just focusing on positive feelings towards my children. We went outside and I got distracted and that was good. I dont want to be hurt anymore and that is why i am now avoiding my husband for a bit... but strategies of avoidance are not working for a long time. I told him I was hurt he apologized and now I "just" have to forgive and let go. That is the task of the rest of the day. May you have an easier task tonight... until tomorrow

Friday, March 13, 2009

This too shall pass

Today, I am faced again with the fact, that my inner critic is very very loud...and tells me that i should be doing this and that and my other voice tells me to not... sometimes i wish i could have just silence. I rely a lot on finding silence from the outside, which in my case is yoga. Even though i cant do as much as i would love to, it has given me a tremendous amount of inner peace. Doing yoga has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and i am forever grateful to have had the opportunity and learn it from people who love it just as much as i do. Dont get me wrong, i have also met quite a few that were using yoga in a way that wasnt too appealing to me. But that is yoga too, you cannot label it under workout, or spiritual blurp or relaxation technique because it offers you whatever you allow it. For me, i love the fact that after 1 hour of yoga i dont feel the need to fiddle around anymore. I like the physical aspect that means i am getting stronger (a bit...) without having to go to a gym. Much more I appreciate though that i get to know my body very well. Yesterday i felt the crease between my shoulders for the first time moving inward when told so... before i had no idea how to move it at all. Did you know that there is a famous yogi who was able to stop his pulse with nothing but willpower? I know you are laughing now - and being the critical person that i am i do too. But i have experienced myself that you can train your brain to perform actions that you thought are completely impossible (try to lift your big toe of the mat and leave the other 4 toes on the floor... i can do that now but it took me quite some time to learn it) so i do consider it possible what the yogi did. Yoga is also about learning that there are moments in your life that seem to be unbearable and yet this too shall pass. It is your mind mostly that needs to be told that not your body. So for today, instead of telling my brain shut up i will maybe do a breathing technique i learnt and see if that changes things. I will not fight myself anymore. i will endure and know this too shall pass. have a wonderful day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The evil side of humans part 2

Words can not express what happened yesterday in that school where one 17yr old killed students, teachers, bystanders and himself... and I find it extremely difficult to talk to my children about it. So far, they have only heard bits and pieces from the news but I am guessing it is going to be a major discussion item among them today so I want to inform them beforehand. I can feel the pain of the mothers of the killed people as well as the pain of the mother of the murderer. I am sure it is living hell to find out that your child has committed such a horrible thing too so I am going to be compassionate with the parents of the attacker. But where does such evil come from? Do I have to picture it as a sleeping volcano that is in all human race and given the right settings, the eruption will take place and the hot lava is going to pour over everything. Or is it "just" a sick person's action? I firmly believe in the inherent good of every personality but this happening shows me how important it is to be vigilant as a parent. The attacker it seems had recently lost his position. He was very quiet and subdued. He came from a family that was well off. The place was a southern German town. All these facts mean nothing. And yet somewhere in there is the key for him losing his mind. Maybe he was so mad because he never learned how to handle negative things like the losing of the job. Maybe he didnt know how to communicate well with his parents. Hmmm, communication - I know that this tool is decisive for the wellbeing of your own self as well as those of others. Now that is something I want to talk to my children about. Effective means of communication. When things get rought, when you get mobbed, when you are mad at yourself, mad at the teacher, word it out. Being a teenager you probably wont want to communicate with your parents first. If you dont have any friends you feel close to, write it out. Spit the things that torment you on paper. That is my plan for this mornings discussion of the event of yesterday. I am going to end now but not without sending out my love and compassion to the victims parents as well as the attackers parents.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Questions hard to answer

Today i was faced with the difficult task to answer my oldest sons question why people murder other people - we were listening to the news on the radio and they commented on a murder committed where an 18 year old killed a little girl. I did not know how to answer this question. it showed me that while I am almost used to horrible news like this my son clearly does not yet have this negative or should I say realistic point of view of the world. His concept of evil within the human race does not yet exist. And I don t know if I want to instill this sense that the world is not inherently good but has certain dark sides too. It is incomprehensible to him why a human being can deliberately hurt another one or even worse take the life of somebody else. Yet, this is also part of growing up. A sad part I find. I tried to explain to him that some people do not have a good judgement of what is morally good or bad but he still frowned at me. I think a huge part of growing up is to realize that what you could never imagine to happen can indeed take place and that we have to be lucky to not be part of this evil side of the world. I wish I could take away the pain that it will cause to him to see that there will be people who will hurt his feelings on purpose. It is our task as educators to create a sense in our children what is morally right or wrong. But where do I start? I catch myself a lot being irrational if it comes to this. I will explain him that drinking diet sodas is unhealthy only to be asked why I do it.... or I will tell him do not lick your knife and he says: Mum, I have seen you doing it.... to be a role model for my children has proven to be one of the many challenges I face daily. Being aware of your own deficiencies is a first and good step but it is not enough. And it is those little things that I believe will make a difference (so definititely no more licking of the knife....) and shape his character. They say that by the age of 12 the groundwork of education is pretty much laid. Small enhancements will be possible but as a whole his character traits are set. So today I was asking myself what is the most important character trait I would like to be fostered in my son - and clearly it is compassion (not the licking of the knife...) for others that I believe is most important. I vow to be a role model and to show him that caring for others will bring you joy and help you feel worthy. But being compassionate says my friend the Dalai Lama, starts with feeling love for yourself and there I definitely need to work on. I also hope that it is true that if I show compassion towards others it will ultimately come back to me and help me accept and love myself more. So I am making the committment to do something for others each and every day and also to try and be more respectful of my own needs. Which leads me to now stop writing and taking care of myself by going to have an early night. May you all have sweet dreams tonight.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

coincidence and happiness

Is it a coincidence that i just got one of my favorite magazines - Psychology Today (German edition) in the mail and the header is - path to happiness.... I havent read the articles but the editorial already sounded very interesting. Like my friend the Dalai Lama says The purpose of life is to be happy. Sounds very easy and can be very easy. Once I focus on making this very moment the very best moment the task is indeed easier. So, maybe the real purpose of life is to split it up in infinetely small particles of time and then just focus on feeling happy in these moments. Then, if I add all the particles up, I will be eternally happy. In the past, quite frankly I found it very hard to define happiness. I have been happy a lot of times without realizing it. Other times, the events were so big that I stored them in the happiness drawer right away (wedding, birth of children, 1st day of school for kids, kindergarden graduation, owning a house, finding a job.... ). I now try to remember those moments more often and feel them. Feel the warmth, the excitement, the contentment. Putting these in the forefront when life is grey or uneventful helps. I also found out that it helps me to become happier if I do something for others, especially my children. This has been the source of quite some discussions with my husband because he is convinced that one cannnot or should not feel happier just because one does something for others. I agree that if the sole source of happiness are others that is not going to work. But I strongly disagree that actions performed for others, cannot bring happiness. The Dalai Lama calls it compassion and I want to work on becoming more compassionate towards others, especially my children. They are the ones that are going to profit most from me being happy because this serves as a model for them now and later. Being compassionate doesnt have to be a huge deed, it could be just being a bit more lenient at bed time.... if i know that this is going to bring them happiness. By nature, I am a rather strict mother - too strict sometimes. So becoming more compassionate towards them means that i will deliberately be less strict. And believe me that is hard for me. But I want to try. Hope you are all having those happy particles in your life a lot....

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Have you ever done a task you did not like to do in the first place but then while or after doing it, it turns out that you entire effort was worth nothing... I am sure you have. I had the pleasure to install a microwave today, which took 4 hours only to find out that the door was broken. At least it looked nice.... but i was once again reminded that everything in my life happens for a reason. The lesson i learnt was the following: I am too quick sometimes. I could have done a general check of the parts before starting to install the items. Would have saved me 4 hours of work. I am very impatient therefore I do not like to sit down and be thorough. I did enjoy the 4 hours because it made me realize that i am quite handy. And I know that this is the most important life lesson for me. If i manage to just concentrate on the moment instead of being 2 steps ahead in my thoughts, i actually can find peace in that very moment. I want to learn to now let go of the negative thought that it was all for nothing because that is not true. While I was doing that job I had time to see that it has been a long time since i did something I was truly proud of. I like to be challenged (even if it is only by IKEA instructions or manuals that assume I have studied engineering) but i seek challenges that are too much. Then I get frustrated and instead of lowering my expectations, I use the experience to critize mz inabilities. That has to stop. I did the best job today and yet because of things i cannot control, I didnt achieve the desired result. i cannot rule the world even if i give my best. I have to let go of that need to be perfect and the idea that if i do everything right, the world around me must do the same thing. So i am grateful for the microwave experience because after all that work and finding out that the door did not work i did not get mad (i admit for a split second I did) instead I went upstairs, and did a very easy yoga session. That was very difficult because I wanted to prove myself that i can do much more. This is not healthy for me and therefore i decided to do a basic class. Which was lovely and not too much and I felt renewed and ready to face the kids without being angry at all the malfunctioning microwaves in general and myself in particular. Great day. Hope you had such a lovely experience today too. If not, go buy yourself a new microwave...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Love versus need

My reliable friend Dalai Lama gave me a great thought for today" Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other". When i was in my early 20s the word need and relationship really had nothing to do with each other. I was not needing anybody. I was happy with myself. Was I? I think I was still exploring the world and did not waste time to reflect too much on my actions. The world and its opportunities were right there I just had to go and get them. Which I did. In my 30s when I became a stay home mother and dilligent wife, need slowly entered the scene. Partly because I didnt make time for myself. I was busy. I was active. I still was not relecting too much but because all of a sudden my financial independence was gone, I needed somebody else. That did not feel bad but different. I had vowed to never become dependent on anybody when I left my parents because to me it felt like a prison. So now here I was. I had the best husband ever who never once made me feel dependent yet more and more I neeeded his praise to feel at ease. To fight the negative connotations I associated with dependence I took a part time job only to realize I still needed his praise.... and i also realized that it was too much for me. Now in my 40s the word need has almost replaced the word love and this development is not a healthy one. I am aware of my dependence that is now far more than just financial dependence. But I vow to put the puzzle pieces back together or maybe even create a different puzzle because I long for the love I felt so strongly. Talking to friends I am now sure that the development I have seen in myself is a common one in many women as they sail along their lifes. This double identity of still fulfilling the needs of others eg kids and also trying to fulfill your indvidual ones can lead to enormous stress. It is partly built on the image we think we have to fulfill. But quite frankly, there is no such thing as the perfect woman or the perfect percentage of love -need or.... it is just the individual me that counts. Not in a selfish but healthy way. If I love myself enough I will know my needs and I will not follow pre set conceptions of how I should be. A good exercise I want to try out is to take a piece of paper and describe a worst case scenario of your life to one of your best friends in writing. (That best friend of course can be fiction or not, important is only to describe as detailed as possible how my life is now versus a couple of years ago). After this horror scenario, I will take that imaginary letter and file it. And now comes the nice task. I will then write a second version to the same friend but now I am describing how my life looks if I change my bad habits and live the life i dreamt of . Really live it not just wish for it. And this great piece of art I will also file. ...
Then, every time I will struggle and be resilient to change, I will take out the horror scenario letter and read through it, asking myself whether this is the outlook I want. Or whether I wouldnt do better in living version 2 of my life even if that means an uncomfortable step at the moment. I am very keen on writing these two letters and I know i will have no problem in describing the horror scenario (did I forget to mention that I am a type half empty glass versus seeing it as half full instead...) but I want to also focus on describing my wished for life as best as I can. This is the task for the next week... try it out for yourself if you think you might benefit from it and I would love to have your feedback.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Today, I was realizing how much I tend to swallow things I feel. Instead of saying what I think, I just play the happy-go-lucky girl and afterwards I harbour the negative feeling which in my case then tends to translate itself into not fighting against my disease....like a vicious circle it seems that the key for me to transform my bad habits into more healthy ones lies in learning to be an effective and truthful communicator. By not saying what I mean, I not only foster bad feelings I also do something I tell my children to never do - lie. I lie to myself and then my critical voice condemns me for that.... vicious. So, I will use the time tonight to reflect a bit on communication.
Also I saw today, how great the world can be if you see it through the eyes of a child (no wonder, my children love the song with that title by Reamon). While driving back from school one of my children commented on the wonderful sunset and how much they loved the warmth on their faces while playing outside. I agreed and yet I realized that I barely make enough time to feel this simple pleasures. I find all kind of activities instead of just feeling the sun on my nose.... hopefully I will take the time tomorrow and do what my children have done today - enjoying the moment as fully as possible not leaving out the weather...
Spring is a reminder of the eternal change that is surrounding our lives. In Chicago, the season of spring was almost non-existent, we went from winter to summer in one week. In Germany, I found out that the inbetween season, called spring, is so exciting because it opens your eyes for the changes that incur incessantly if we see them. A lot of things that seem to be dead awaken once more. So I will take nature as an example for believing that change lies within me and I will be able to change into a healthier being. Enjoy the pre spring season as fully as you can.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Anger

Today I am pondering why it is that I have a hard time to control my anger. I went to look up some quotes by my friend Buddha and of course he was right in : "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned.'" After a dispute with my husband, this is exactly how I feel inside. I am mad at myself and hold on to this negative and self destroying thought like nothing else. It is very difficult indeed to not get affected by anger even if I think I was right. So I am wondering what I need to do in order to let go of this negative feeling. My strategy in the past has been to swallow and swallow until i was literally lit up from the inside. Of course, that does not create any positive feelings and so I want to change my strategy. But my human mind is not so easy to tame. I realize that even though i try to live more in the moment, I replicate past behaviors as well as past role models and can't free myself. But it is mandatory for me to get past my anger because it doesn't lead to anything constructive. I vow to do better next time. Yet, next time comes and I behave in a similar way. I will dump more on my stored anger on paper. This will not harm anybody and not create that foul mood that it is in my family at the moment. Again, the Buddha can be quoted: "It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or deamons, heaven or hell". I am sure it is a battle worth fighting for. I have read a lot of buddhist inspirations and yet they very often don't stay with me. It is sooooo difficult and such a task to change your behavior, isn't it? But I want to remind myself that the light at the end of the tunnel will be love and that in my opinion is the greatest gift of all.