I hope you’ve enjoyed the last couple of emails while I was away. I think Leah and the practitioners did a brilliant job. I might have to hand over more often. To be honest I’m still in slow motion after two weeks in Bali. I went with my husband, Harry, and another couple. We had the most beautiful, relaxing time. We did lots of sitting by the pool, plenty of eating and a little bit of sight-seeing. It was “purrfect.”
I’ve been to Bali a few times and I’m always struck by how peaceful the Balinese people are. There were quite a few situations where Westerners would get stressed or angry but the Balinese seem to take everything in their stride. One day we were in a taxi and our driver decided to do a U-turn, (which was actually a 5 point turn) on a busy, narrow road. All the traffic stopped for him and not one horn was tooted. The other drivers didn’t seem bothered at all, they patiently waited until they could continue on their way. I know the reaction would be very different in most parts of Australia and would probably trigger some serious road rage.
This was such a beautiful illustration of something I often teach: It’s not the circumstances that cause stress it’s our attitude towards the circumstances. In fact 90% of all the stress we experience is caused by what we are doing inside our own head. It’s caused by our judgement that something, or someone, is wrong. It’s about what we believe should be happening instead of what IS happening.
While I was away I read a gorgeous series of three books written by…… wait for it……. The Dalai Lama’s Cat! Well the author is actually David Michie but they are written through the eyes of the cat. The cat lives with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Northern India. She is much loved by His Holiness and sleeps on his bed at night. She witnesses the comings and goings of famous people and dignitaries visiting the Dalai Lama. She listens in on the conversations with his advisors and the monks and novices that seek his counsel. The books are a beautiful, funny and entertaining introduction to Buddhist teachings. They are called The Dalai Lama’s Cat, The Art of Purring and The Power of Meow. I have to say I loved them. Harry also read each book as I finished it because he would hear me giggling as I was reading and he wanted to know what was so funny.
The more I read the more I discovered how the teachings of Buddhism are very similar teachings of the self-help, spiritual, New-Age movement that is now blossoming in Western cultures and that I teach my clients. Clearly they are not so “New”. These teachings have been around since 500BC.
The book describes how our thoughts become our reality. When we dwell on bad things we create the conditions for more bad things in the future. It teaches that the true causes of suffering is not the because of the things that happen to us but because of our thoughts about them. We mistakenly believe that lack of material things or difficult relationships cause our suffering. We blame the external world and believe it needs to change in order for us to be happy.
Both New-Age and Buddhist teachings emphasise that we can find inner happiness regardless of external circumstances. Once we do that then often the external circumstances change and we create a different future. The New-Age movement, however, teaches us to set goals and use affirmations and visualisation to create the future we want, while Buddhism teaches us how to find true happiness on a much deeper level.
In the first book the Dalai Lama is talking with a world famous self-help, personal development and motivational teacher. He had been incredibly successful in creating wealth and material comfort but he wasn’t happy.
The Dalai Lama told him, “We each need to find out own personal method of cultivating happiness but there are general principals. Two main true causes of happiness are firstly, the wish to give happiness to others, which Buddhists define as love, and secondly, the wish to help free others from dissatisfaction or suffering, which we define as compassion.” They agreed that the Self-Help movement takes us only so far if we don’t include love and compassion. The true cause of happiness is, in fact, letting go of our attachment to the external circumstances and the stuff in our life and mastering the art of non-judgement, acceptance, love and compassion.
A few weeks ago I talked about a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte which is about making the shift from setting material goals to deciding how we want to FEEL and setting that as our goal. Since I read that book I have a reminder on my phone at 8am every morning that says, “How would you like to feel today?” It’s a great reminder to me that I have the ability to choose my emotions and I have been setting my intention to be joyful and fulfilled. It’s made an amazing difference for me. After reading The Dalai Lama’s Cat I think I might set my intention to feel love and compassion. Imagine what a difference it would make on the planet of we all did that!
This week at Kindred Spirits on Thursday morning I’ll share more from these gorgeous books about Buddhist teachings and guide you through some Mindfulness Meditation techniques. We’ll also explore how to master the art of choosing your thoughts and feelings. Kindred Spirits is at 10.30am every Thursday. The cost is $20. You might like to grab a copy of the book from our shop while you’re here.
We also have an Introduction to Meditation coming up on Sunday August 9th from 10am to 12 noon with Kesang Wangmo. Like the Dalai Lama’s cat, Kesang was born in Tibet and lived in Dharamsala. Kesang teaches our 5 week Mindfulness Meditation course and also does Tibetan Massage which is an incredibly beautiful and healing treatment. Kesang radiates love and compassion.
Have a fabulous, loving, compassionate week.