LOCKDOWN Prison or Paradise? – A Buddhist Viewpoint By Julie Kelly

One thing we all have in common, is lockdown.  It’s no secret for some, this has been a terrible time. The fit and active being confined to their homes, & mental health problems slowly starting to rise.  Others however, have described the lockdown period as something quite different. A time of tranquility, peace & creativity – away from the fast pace of everyday life. 

 Impermanence impermanent short lived COVID19 worry stress change creativity prison paradise lockdown
Whatever viewpoint we share, and however this lockdown has affected us,  the whole thing seems in many ways quite uncertain and an emotional roller coaster.  Buddhism however offers a more simplistic view of the whole situation, and why wasting energy on it is completely pointless.
 
Before moving on however, its useful to understand one key thing – the ‘Nature of Impermanence.’  That absolutely nothing stays the same, i.e. in its permanent state, and that everything whether Matter, Sentience or Phenomenon is changing millisecond by millisecond to eventually expire.
 
Once we can grasp this perspective, we become less inclined to cling and grasp on to things as if they were forever.  For example, our job, our material things, our goals and dreams for the future – and most importantly our lives.
 
Please don’t misunderstand my meaning here – I’m not saying we shouldn’t  have lovely expensive things or well paid jobs. Neither do I mean we shouldn’t value our lives.  My meaning here is not to cling onto them as if they were permanent, so much that we become obsessed and suffocated in the fear of losing them.
 
So this is a basic overview of the ‘Nature of Impermanence’  but how does it relate to the way we deal with situations like lockdown & the fear of COVID19?
Well, if we accept things as being in a constant state of change,  we must also relate this to our personal experiences and situations including what’s happening with this unpredictable virus.
 
Over the past 6 or so weeks, it’s been apparent that however we’ve faced this situation i.e. whether we’ve sunk into a dark state of depression, pining for loved ones and focusing on loss of our freedoms. Or whether we’ve taken it as an opportunity, to tune into to our creative side, to embrace the slow pace of life and bring our focus on the beauty of life – COVID19 remains a threat and lockdown  is still here. 
 
In a nutshell, the way we’ve approached lockdown, may very well have changed our ‘present moment’ positively or negatively. But as we grasp onto the very notion of survival, we must realise the root cause of the situation COVID19 remains pretty much as it was before we started trying to change it . This is because based on the law of impermanence, situations will inevitably change themselves in their own natural way and not at the pace we want them to.
 

So.. Taking into account the knowledge that nothing is permanent & all things are subject to change:

Has your lockdown been a Prison or a Paradise?

 
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A RIGHT BUDDHIST BIRTHDAY – The Strangest Party Ever By Julie Kelly

Well it’s almost that time again! Another year older and hopefully wiser. Not sure why, but I had to share a funny story about how I spent my 45th birthday ten years ago – let me set the scene…

Mcleodganj is a small town in Dharamsala India and this is where I spent my 45th Birthday. For the past 6 months, Loseling Monastery Guest House had been my home which as a Buddhist, studying Tibetan Buddhism & tradition seemed the perfect place. The tiny but comfortable guest house is completely maintained by Buddhist Monks who go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

In Mcleodganj, everyone knows each other – it’s also the home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Despite it’s cramped habitats etc, the eating places are exquisite and there’s no shortage of mouthwatering Tibetan, Indian, Korean & Chinese foods to sample. In fact (and I won’t draw this out) I’ve eaten Pizza in an Italian resturant called Jimmy’s, drinking Indian beer and watching England play a major match – that’s how diverse Mcleodganj is. Party Birthday celebration celebrate Joy peaceful silence pizzas cake monks Tibetan funny

Anyway, at the top of the Main Street, is a shop specialising in cakes of all descriptions – including birthday cakes. So I though how nice it would be to invite a few select people I’d met there, to my room for cake and a couple of take away Pizzas from Jimmy’s, to celebrate my 45th birthday. 

Since being in this great little town, I’d met an Aussie lady Marie – bags of fun, with a voice not dissimilar to Dame Edna. A wonderful Tibetan Monk Kelsang & another – Tsewang. Also a Tibetan nun Ani Sherab.

Being at the guest house, it seemed only right I invite some of the staff as they’d made it so comfy for me over the past 6 months – and this is where it begins.

Rather than be confined to my room, a couple of monks kindly suggested I use the back room of the guest house, where I’d be most comfortable – which I did. 

So 6pm came and the pizzas arrived as did the spectacular cream sculpture that was the birthday cake – plus apbottles of cola. Such a lovely evening, with beautiful gifts too. 

But then something unexpected happened – as it often does in this quirky little place…….

Lots of Tibetan monks started turning up who I’d never met. Old, young and middle aged – each bearing traditional white Tibetan scarves and placing them around my neck. They’d already got their bowls ready for the cake so I started doing the honours dishing it out and trying not to laugh. 

Such a spiritual thing was happening right under my nose but all I could do was try so hard to contain myself from laughing – especially as they were wolfing it down in complete silence which compelled us to do the same. After they’d left (which wasn’t long after eating the cake) I was nearly cooked alive. You see the traditional Tibetan scarves are often made of nylon, cotton or silk and I had about 40 of them round my neck in a temperature of around 28c 82.4F.

Seriously! If I could go back and relive this experience – I’d do it in a heartbeat although I have to say it’s the strangest birthday I’ve ever spent. 

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A MINDFUL BREAKFAST & The messages of food – By Julie Kelly



Breakfast -Whether it’s a healthy fruit option or a proper Northern fry up, we all eat it. But what’s the relevance & indeed the importance of this ‘first meal’ of the day?


Well it’s not something most of us will have considered until now, but let’s look at the actual word (Break-fast)  In Old English terms, the word breakfast refers to breaking the fasting period of the previous night. Obviously we aren’t eating during the sleeping hours so that first meal is the very thing to give nourishment and nurturing to the mind & physical body.

Despite this interesting fact however, it seems many of us still skip breakfast for a number of reasons – the most common one I’ve come across being lack of self worth. 

Confused? Think about it….Even though this really important event (Breaking of the fast) is paramount to the workings of Mind Body & Spirit, many of us still put work, emails, employers, social networking and pretty much everything else first -settling for a good cup of caffeine instead to provide a quick fix but why? 

It seems really absurd to think a simple thing like breakfast can have such a huge impact on spiritual health. Here I’m not talking about our choice of breakfast ie what we actually eat, although this can have a relevance on the way we think or perceive the world.  Here I’m talking about self perception – what many of us believe we deserve and how we put everything else before our own needs. For some, this may seem like a selfless gesture, almost always a positive act, as long as it doesn’t cause imbalance or suffering that is. But here, this may not be the case.

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Dr Nerina Ramlakhan B.Sc.Ph.D. a physiologist and sleep therapist – King’s College London suggests we may even disconnect subconsciously from our mind & body & its needs.

 So looking at things from this perspective, we could say that eating breakfast as part of our mindfulness practice in the morning  is a wonderfully creative way of bringing the mind and body into balance whilst paying full attention to our physical, spiritual and emotional needs – something we in the West are not very good at.

So here we’ve looked at why it’s important to eat breakfast, but now let’s have a look at the emotional and spiritual messages of foods, and why we might find ourselves craving certain tastes in the morning. 

Crunchy foods: Breakfast cereal with very little milk, crackers with cheese, well done toasts, muesli or biscuits. When we crave crunchy foods it’s often a sign of internal stress and anger. How many times have you been angry at someone and crunched your way through a packet of crisps like hungry tiger? Anger. Crunchy foods help us act out our anger in a safe way, providing us an outlet so we don’t have to deal with the people or circumstances causing us to be angry.

 

 
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COVID19 – Keeping it Stress Free & Simple – By Julie Kelly

Coping Mind Love Beliefs Faith Panic COVID19 Embrace Embracing Mindfulness Tribe Community Contact Human Belonging

Around 3 weeks ago, the world changed in unimaginable ways for millions of people. We were all affected and thrown into a state of chaos. Supermarkets filled with people panic buying – terrified by the potential threat of death either from starvation, or COVID19 itself.  

This situation was cast upon us pretty much overnight – so it’s little wonder we were all thrown into a state of confused desperation. But how do we manage emotionally, physically and spiritually in situations like this?

The answer in my professional experience, often lies in faith. Some pray to God, others to Allah and some send prayers for protection out to the universe. Faith is often at the forefront in times of uncertainty and chaos. Buddhism however holds slightly different views, mainly because in Buddhism it’s accepted that nothing is permanent, whether it’s matter, sentient or phenomena. Because we accept impermanence, we also acknowledge experiences like this will come to pass.

Like most of you however, this lockdown has for me created many limitations – particularly in the way I can be of service to others on a face to face level. This being said, the wonders of modern technology & social networking are proving to be a spiritual & emotional lifeline for many of us out there, so it’s really important we reach out and use it as much as possible. These are very strange times we are living in, and times when we realise just how much we’ve taken for granted. A simple hug, a coffee with friends, going shopping without too much thought about what to buy but more importantly, the beauty and healing potential of everything surrounding us. Never before has there been such a need to move into the present moment, to nurture & clear our minds by taking advantage of the peace and tranquillity we’ve been forced into. But where do we start? How do we begin to change ‘the habits of a lifetime’ and learn to just slow down – when for years we’ve been running at 100 mph? 

As someone whose work is pretty much always mind focussed, it’s my professional view, the most important thing right now is connection. As humans we’re social animals who need acceptance within our tribe. We need to feel loved & a sense of belonging. For this reason, a valued colleague decided to set up a group named CONNECTED on a social networking site. A place where people can come together, share their fears, anxieties, joys and creativity with like-minded people but most importantly, move the focus away from media hype & negativity.

So much panic about death & dying has occupied our minds recently, when it’s always been there.  Ever since the day we were born we’ve been dying second by second, minute by minute in many different ways – so why all the panic now? 

Well before coronavirus, we believed death only happened to others – right? We’ve always feared it, mainly because of the sinister way its presented in Western culture but this is different. Many of us feel cornered like we’ve come up against a brick wall. The question is though,  do we keep running at that brick wall until we knock ourselves unconscious? Or do we simply embrace and accept this change, and wait for it to pass as it inevitably will?

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend  ~.Bruce Lee

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2 QUESTIONS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE – PT 1 By Julie Kelly

We all have times when we think “Why Me?” To be honest, for some of us it sounds like a pretty reasonable question. 

We’ve got all kinds of bills dropping through the letterbox, partners who don’t respect us and to top it all, poor health.  Not all of us have religion to turn to or even a faith to trust but even for those who do, it still begs the question “Why Me?”

Why? Questions life asking wondering deserving image perspective karma

 

Why have I had such a hard life?

How come everyone in my family did well except me?

What have I done to deserve this kind of life?

Why do I have all these health problems?

Why does it feel like the world’s against me?

The following two questions if answered honestly & frankly, can be completely life changing. They’re life changing because once you grasp the reasoning behind them, it’ll change your whole thought process. Remember! You must be absolutely honest with yourself.

 

Question 1) Do I see myself as a decent kind of person?

Question 2) Can I think of anything I’ve done, that would make me deserve the awful things that happen to me?

 

 

 Here I’ll leave you to ponder these questions and tomorrow I’ll try to change your whole perspective on life.

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BEING A DANGEROUS WOMAN By Julie Kelly

It never used to be the case, but these days when I’m asked about my greatest strengths, I reply “Being a Dangerous Woman”

Dangerous confidence confident bold committed colour conviction faith voice empowerment empowered women standing subservience courage experience life choice age belief faith

This usually takes people by suprise but it’s true for many reasons and there are a lot of us around too. You see, over the years I’ve been preparing for this without even realising it – but now I know for sure how dangerous I truly am. 

So why do I class myself as a dangerous woman? Well when I hit my 50s, something happened to me pretty much overnight. Maybe the menopause had something to do with it but I became fearless. My mind opened up a new sense of clarity and awareness of why I exist today right here right now.

It became clear to me, that every experience I’ve had in life, every struggle & hardship (and believe me there have been many) has brought me to this place where I now deserve at the very least – respect for surviving. 

This realisation is what also made me fearless. Fearless of losing material things, Fearless of voicing my opinions, Fearless of having a voice and being heard, Fearless of being ridiculed, Fearless of getting old, Fearless of being alone with my thoughts and Fearless of having those thoughts, Fearless of standing in queues for longer than needed, just until I get eye contact from rude shop assistants who hand me my change without acknowledging me. When I do get eye contact, I simply smile and thank them but it gives me a sense of purpose to know I didn’t disrespect myself enough to accept the rudeness. Fearless of using colour on my clothes and hair whenever I want to and feeling comfortable in my own skin.

But how does this make me a dangerous woman you might ask? 

Well in a nutshell people don’t always like it. You see, we live in a society where we’re supposed to conform and obey and it’s true, in many cases we don’t have too much choice. But governments and stressed out bosses don’t want people like me who challenge 

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COMPASSION FATIGUE & WHY YOU PROBABLY HAVE IT – By Julie Kelly

Ok so you’re probably wondering “What the heck is Compassion Fatigue?”  Not another new buzz word flying around to get us all worked into a frenzy!  I must admit, that’s exactly what went through my mind, until I looked deeper and realised something quite profound as I’m sure many of my readers will….

Compassion fatigue love self care respect cleansing giving taking exhausted exasperated rest relaxing peace health healing 
Recently, a very dear friend Elles Lohuis ph.D sent me a video clip by a woman called Juliette Watt.
Juliet is a world renowned professional and inspirational speaker, with too many personal accolades to even begin listing. Anyway, Juliette played a huge part in treating rescued animals caught up in hurricane Katrina amongst numerous other achievements in her life.
 
Now according to Juliette, her mission is about making a massive impact and helping people create the life of their dreams.
In her own words: 
 
“I want to help people who have lost themselves in who they’ve been for everyone else.” 
 
 
To cut a long story short, the clip was about something called ‘compassion fatigue’ and it was sent when I was going through some of my own pretty deep personal issues.  I have to say, it really changed my way of thinking. 
 
Compassion fatigue isn’t something I’d heard of before, but after listening to the talk I realised I’d been  suffering from it for years, just as I’m sure some of you will have.  So what exactly is compassion fatigue?
 
 
Well as I understand, compassion fatigue is the exhaustion we feel from constantly giving to others, whilst forgetting to give to ourselves.  That’s the short version anyhow, and it really resonates with me personally.
You see, like many of you I was raised to be courteous, to always put others first, be respectful at all times and turn the other cheek.  So naturally, these wonderful values followed me into adulthood but the bit they missed out –  how to replenish the mind and body after all that effort.
 
 
This is the bit we didn’t get taught and if you like,  the bit we never realiased we needed to learn.  After listening to Juliette’s talk, it inspired me to take a really deep analytical look at some of my own quite serious personal issues.
 
As an experienced meditator, meditation was the way I chose to really analyse myself,  my thought processes &  my behaviours but even with all this experience, what I discovered absolutely floored me.  Putting that aside for a moment though, one thing I have discovered is I’m not the only one who’s been struggling for years with this, there are literally millions of us.
 
All through my life, people close to me have said, “You always seem to choose relationships with needy people”  To a point, they aren’t wrong either. It’s true – I’m attracted to people who need help with their own lives, mental health, addiction – well anything really that takes the emphasis away from me. I’m like a vulnerability magnet, people with problems can spot me from a 1000 mile radius or so it seems. So in effect the accusations or observations are true, I spend loads of time helping them back into better health and lifestyle only to find they don’t need me so much afterwards. 
 
The question is….where do we draw the line at acceptable & unacceptable vulnerability & need?  After all – we all have these things don’t we?  Even the most influential & famous people have vulnerabilities and needs – so why are some considered acceptable and others not?
 
Now I’ve come to realise a very important thing since doing all this analyzing.  The problem doesn’t lie with the people I attract or accept into my life,  the issue lies with me and the fact all my energies are directed outwardly with none coming back to replenish myself. 
 
Even a car needs petrol, oil & water to continue functioning well but we humans seem to think we’re invincible and then wonder why we get sick and diseased from all kinds of things.  There’s nothing wrong with helping or guiding people to stand on their feet and get back on track – as long as we hand back the reins and power afterwards. 
 
 
Just for a moment, consider these 2 scenarios and see if any resonate with you….
 
1 – You raise your children the best you can, holding down a full time job and juggling childcare just so they don’t want for anything.  They have all the designer gear, they’re popular in school because they fit in and you do your best to make sure that continues.  As they get older, they fall in with friends you’re not happy with but you take all necessary steps to make sure they’re safe.  Mobile phones to call home, lots of credit on the phone, some cash in their pocket in case of emergencies etc.  But they never really call,  and if you call them they make it short.  The cash goes on weed with their mates who all love you and wish their mum was like you.  Then it’s phone calls from the police or they get arrested and it’s  always someone else right?  Your son/daughter is easily led they come from a good family – it couldn’t be their fault so you bail them out.  By this time, you’re on anti-depressants and your nerves are shot.  You can’t focus on your work because you’re scared they’ll have their mates over or steal things so you cut your hours to keep an eye on things……….Any of this sound familiar?  Now let’s look at another Scenario
 
 
2- You meet the love of your life, there’s nobody like them – absolutely perfect in every way.  You get flattered on your appearance, breakfast in bed and everything’s rosy.  The person you’re with isn’t from your country and so, they need help with language and letter writing, especially for legal stuff and you’re happy to help.  You are a kind loving person and so are they, that’s why you fell in love.  Then one day something strange happens…you realise months or years have gone by and your partner’s legal struggles are almost over but you are totally exhausted.  They’re still grateful for all you’ve done, and it’s made things so much easier but you want it to be absolutely perfectly finalised – then it is.  
 
Something inside you is still in rescue mode though, because that’s what you do – rescue people.  So now it’s all sorted out you start to look for other ways to help this person move forward when all they want to do is run, jump, fly & explore their new sense of freedom.  It doesn’t mean they love you any less, but to you it’s a personal wound to the heart so you keep trying and now you’re exhausted physically & mentally and they don’t seem to care. 
 
 
One plainly obvious fact in both scenareos – is the issue of not handing back the reigns.  We continue to hold tight long after the urgency has gone and instead of accepting our role here may be over, we keep on disabling them.  For me, doing Analytical meditation & looking deep within made me realise, something in me was missing.  All those years giving, nurturing, loving and providing to everyone through my relationships, parenting & work choice were all directed outwardly and I had become pretty hollow in parts.  Hollow because for some strange reason….and I really can’t explain it – I never valued myself highly enough or with as much deserving of compassion as I did everyone else.  Because of this, I didn’t fill the empty space with anything.  It’s odd because nearly everyone I meet comments on what a lovely person they see in front of them so how come I never saw it?   Feeling self fulfilled is vital to stop us repeating the same self distructive behaviours over and over. 
 
Compassion fatigue is prevalent in our society today, especially (but not only) Western Society where more time is spent looking at mobile phones than having conversations, meeting targets than cooking family dinners & blaming others for the frustrations in our own lives.  How ridiculous does that sound?  It’s like making a cup of tea then deliberately knocking it over & blaming somebody else for allowing you to do it.
 
Only when we realise and admit the deficits in our own lives, can we stop blaming everyone else for our exhaustion. More importantly, it’s only after realising this can we stop creating our own condition Compassion Fatigue.
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3 INCREDIBLE REASONS TO CELEBRATE TODAY By Julie Kelly

So you’re probably wondering…What makes today different? Why should today be celebrated more than any other? You’ve missed the point my friend!

It isn’t that today is any more special, beautiful or spectacular than the rest – you just forgot to notice that’s all. So here are 3 Incredible reasons to celebrate today!

Celebrate love appreciate spectacular amazing change life death knowledge wisdom
  1. We Exist – Hard as it is to imagine, all across the world last night people went to bed in the usual way, kissed loved ones goodnight, set the alarm ready for work and never woke up. Nothing remarkable about the night – it was simply their last. Their very last chance to witness a new day. To hear the birds sing or walk amongst trees. Their very last night to see the treasures all around them and they never even knew. In fact, to be even more realistic, it was their last opportunity to work themselves into the ground for that house they rarely lived in, the retirement plans they never got to see come into fruition, or the old age they were saving for that never came. Today Celebrate Life! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™
  2. We Are Able – Here we are, reading this post with reasonably good vision, and a body healthy enough to function in the days to come. We’re fortunate to have the gift of opportunity to use this day in whichever way we like. It’s your life for the taking – (well at least for today) We can waste it and hope we get chance of another, or we can celebrate the hell out of it. It’s our choice – let’s be grateful for that choice. Today Celebrate Opportunity! ๐ŸŽค๐Ÿšต๐Ÿ›€
  3. We Are Remarkable – You are remarkable! With so many gifts to offer this world why not make today, the best of them all? We have the power of speech – let’s use it on someone who may be lonely. Someone once told me “You never know in this lifetime how many lives you may have saved” it’s true. Today might not only be the most spectacular for you,but for someone else too because of your actions – How awesome is that? Today Celebrate Compassion โค๏ธ Wisdom! โœ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜‚
HOW WILL YOU CELEBRATE YOUR DAY?
 

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