When seeking solutions there is an attraction to look forwards. Surely the solution must lie in something new and complex; sometimes this is absolutely correct. Yet, what is true is also timeless. The wisdom of those truths is Ancient. The past has much to teach us. This page is a guided tour of ancestral wisdom.
Namaste is an ancient greeting. The greeting itself has a beautiful meaning. "I honour the divine in you, which is the same as the divine in me." Whenever I use this ancient greeting it creates within me a reverence for my own life and the life of the person/people in front of me. I am also reminded that there is a unity to life itself. The act of bringing my hands together reminds me of a union of the duality I face in life. It is the nature of reality that polar opposites exist. Laughter, sorrow, light, dark, love, hate, praise, blame, success, failure ... this list is long. Yet in bringing my palm together with my thumbs leaning on my heart brings a quality of acceptance and unconditional love into that moment. When I was younger Namaste was a greeting I said quickly to get to the next moment. Today, I have learnt to slow down - to savour a greeting which is thousands of years old. To allow its resonance to uplift me. I gaze deeply into the eyes of those I greet meeting them in a place that is beyond the chaos of the world around me. I synchronise my breath with the other. Today I encourage you to say Namaste to yourself and your loved ones. Every time you pass a mirror take a second to look into your own eyes and greet yourself acknowledging the journey you have been on. See your own beauty, your courage, and your talents. See and accept all of you. At the same time say Namaste to those in your life. See how a cycle of richness is set in motion as you give and receive recognition
This is an ancient prayer from Hawaii. When translated to English it has four lines. "I am sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you and I love you." So simple yet so profound. I have found this to be one of the most powerful prayers to let go and release. When we hold on to something that is painful the only person we continue to hurt is ourselves. Pain can be personal or it can be collective. The first time I heard these four lines I thought .. why am I saying sorry ? That is what the other person should be saying. My youthful righteous indignation would accept that forgiveness was a noble act yet why on earth would I say thank you for something or someone that upset me. It took me many years to realise each of these precious lines had a resonance that was so old it healed in ways that were both mysterious and miraculous. It did not seem to matter who was saying it. The fact that I could say "I am sorry" to the part of me that was hurting so sincerely. Forgive from a deeper place of letting go emotion, memory, disappointment, and sadness. Have gratitude for life itself which had given so much and then surrender into unconditional love was powerful. I encourage you to try this prayer. Three times a day. Place your right hand on your heart and left hand towards the earth. Play a piece of soft music that you love in back ground. Picture yourself at the base of a stunning waterfall in Hawaii. Allow the water element to support the release. Breathe slowly and deeply. Repeating the lines "I am sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you and I love you."
A complete peace. The first time I heard these ancient words I paused for a very long time. I was very young at the time and did not fully comprehend their meaning. I only felt the resonance that the words brought up. I remember saying it slowly... Shalom Salaam; Salaam Shalom... like I was trying on something which fit so well I needed to wriggle into it.The more I said the words the happier I felt.
The quest for peace is a prayer, every human who has had exposure to disharmony knows well. Disharmony can exist in so many ways - at its extreme we have wars and natural disasters. At its most subtle there is that gnawing feeling that something is just not quite right. Our beings are wires for peace. We know when it doesn't exist.
Modern life offers many ways of distracting or numbing ourselves to the absence of peace. Last year for World Peace Day I returned to these Ancient Words bringing them into my life at moments I felt a separation from the stillness and completeness of peace. Soon they became my friend. I combined a little breath-work. A long inhale while silently thinking Shalom and an Exhale of Salaam. I would play around with the words Shalom Salaam, Salaam Shalom, I would add in Om Shanti... and ancient Vedic prayer of peace.... It was beautiful. This week I encourage you to explore these ancient words and see where it takes you. ....
In ancient Japan they cultivated an appreciation of beauty which rested in the acceptance of transience and imperfection. They understood that nature was "Imperfectly perfect."
I was first introduced to this philosophy in Kyoto as I visited the many gardens and temples. As I walked along the well cared for spaces I observed my own mind. It found an alignment naturally. I would listen to the sounds of flowing water, observe the orderliness of the asymmetry, the synergy plants, rocks, metal, sand, soil, roughness, simplicity and modesty in design. I would think how lucky Japanese people were to have such places in their city. These gardens were very different to the more colourful European gardens where the flowers took centre stage. In the zen gardens it was the space and the interconnection of the elements that created beauty. The garden was clearly cared for - yet it showed us that all was constantly changing. Everything that would arise would also one day decay.
Later as the years went by I would always keep with me a memory of the Japanese Zen Garden. My reminders varied based on the different phases of my life - sometimes a post card, sometimes a mini zen garden kit, sometimes a bonsai plant... a zen calendar. When I experience the imperfection of the world I remind myself to see the perfection within it. I found meditating on the concept of Wabi Sabi set me up for a day which was open to whatever came my way. My lack of aversion or resistance allowed the carving out of new opportunities. This week I encourage you to explore Wabi Sabi as part of your morning routine. Bring to mind an image of a Zen Garden. Your own little sanctuary. Throughout the day try see the perfection in imperfection. At the end of the day see if cultivating this attitude allowed you to be happier.