Imagine that your mind is like a shallow bowl filled with clear water. The bottom of the bowl is lined with pebbles and shells that represent all the things that clutter your mind – thoughts, feelings, tasks, commitments, the stuff of daily life.
If you look through the water and see the busyness of your life slightly altered by the sheen of stillness, you can separate yourself from the doing, and instead just wait calmly.
"Quiet is peace. Tranquillity. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it."
Pain can push you to the point of rebellion or despair. But it can also free you for creative transformation. Whether suffering destroys you or becomes a source of creativity depends in part on you and your reaction to it. Nobody sets out to find suffering, but when it finds you, you can discern its value and gain from it.
"It is the crushed grape that gives out the blood-red wine; it is the suffering soul that breathes the sweetest melodies."
– Gail Hamilton
If you begin your day by worrying about what you have to do, you are probably taking on too much. Take things one by one and ask for help. If you accept your limitations, you will experience a new freedom and serenity.
"One who pays heed to the wind will not sow, And one who watches the clouds will not reap."
– Ecclesiastes 11: 4
You have a hidden spiritual energy within you. If you tap into it, it can help you to move forward. You can learn to find this hidden energy by noticing, by paying attention and being mindful. Smell the roses, taste the coffee, feel your toes, see the wind, hear the sirens.
"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."
Your inner beauty flows through your eyes, your smiles, your expressions, your gestures, your perceptions, your joy, your compassion.
"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."
Respect for others, and especially for older people, is a sign of spiritual maturity.
"Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners."
Anger can be a pain in the neck, literally. It can lead to pain and tension in the neck and head. It can make your blood boil, or at least it can put your blood pressure up.
And it's a natural reaction, if someone has broken a promise or stolen from you or injured or insulted you in some way, to feel tense and angry.
Your anger may be justified, and there is no point in ignoring it – because that way it will simply fester – or in giving way to it, exploding or imploding, lashing out at the person who caused you pain. This can only lead to more conflict and more anger on both sides.
Try instead to make some space for your anger. Even if you just acknowledge that you are feeling furious, you'll start to feel better, and then you are already on your way to dealing with it.
"Anger is often more hurtful than the injury that caused it."
– American proverb
If your view of life is tired and stale, if everything you see appears empty, maybe it's because you need to be motivated and inspired, refreshed by the world around you. Perhaps the answer lies in seeking out new adventures, or simply looking at the world from a different perspective.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
– Mark Twain
You have your own vineyard, but you are joined to your neighbour's vineyard, without any dividing lines. The vineyards are so joined that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same for your neighbour.
"The universal power that manifests itself in universal law is at one with our true power."
– Rabindranath Tagore
Don't allow yourself to become like a machine.
Machines do not have relationships with families. Machines do not raise children, laugh or cry. Machines do not feel joy as they watch the sunset. Hang on to your humanity – this is the reason you are in this world.
"Joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love – a net of love with which you can catch souls."
If everything always went smoothly, people would take for granted all that is beautiful. We would not fully appreciate the gifts of life. We would be like spoiled children who have received so many presents they have grown bored. Sometimes it is the difficulties of life that open us to gratitude.
"Struggle ends when gratitude begins."
Listening is a way of showing respect, but it's a discipline you have to work at. Even if you really try to listen, you will probably find that all manner of thoughts and ideas and images flood your mind. You find yourself waiting for the other person to stop talking and give you a chance to speak. You can't wait to have your say. Even if you don't actually interrupt, you have stopped listening.
True listening only happens in silence. You can only hear the other person when you have silenced the inner voices that distract you from what you are being told.
"Listening itself is an art. When we listen with a still and concentrated mind, it's possible to actually be responsive to what the words are saying. Sometimes deep insights come in a flash, unexpectedly."
– Joseph Goldstein
There is a reciprocity in giving. If you give, you
receive. You cannot give without receiving; you cannot receive without giving. Giving and receiving is like a dance. If you don't ask for what you need, or you don't offer what you can, you block the dance.
Imagine a person on a dancefloor suddenly not moving while all around them continue. People bump into each other and lose the beat, lose their sense of direction.
The dance is dependent on the dancer, and in the same way, the dance of reciprocity is dependent on the unceasing exchange of giving and receiving.
"For it is in giving that we receive."
– St Francis of Assisi
'Day by Day' – a treasury of meditations on mindfulness to comfort and inspire by Sister Stan, published by Transworld Ireland