Welcoming change

I’m about to write about personal change in 2014.  The problem is that each time I begin to write it sounds utterly hopeless. I haven’t written anything for about 3 months.  I only write when I feel I have something to share. When I write it flows. A couple of thousand words in 20 minutes or so. The reason I can write so fast is because when I learn something in psychology or yoga I only pass that knowledge on if I have had direct experience of it.  I try it first and understand it through my eyes and ears.  Now I feel like I have so much to say but each beginning sounds either patronising, condescending, obvious or textbook. I guess it goes with the subject.  When you want to change something its not always apparent what needs changing, or rather which of your many habits or routines no longer serve you. It might therefore be better to consider the idea of change and create a mindset that welcomes change.  In this way you are more likely to be open to new ideas.

In 2006 I went to India to learn to become a yoga teacher.  The timing coincided with a celebration called Shivaratri a celebration of one of the Hindu gods, Lord Shiva.  Hinduism is not the same as yoga, although there are many crossovers. I am not a Hindu and apologies to my Hindu friends for my ignorance but I am fascinated by its ideas.  For example I warm to the idea that God is not separate from us but within us, that we are all made of the same stuff, somehow perfect inside and this inner radiance is shared by all of us.  The only thing that obscures this radiance is the belief that we are somehow separate from one another, made of different stuff to our surroundings.  Our thoughts and feelings manifest separateness but the reality is that we are all joined by this inner radiance.

I saw a lovely quote recently “llness begins with I, wellness begins with we”.  Its so obviously apparent that health and happiness stems from connection.  My wellbeing is raised when my friends are happy and confident.  You might say bullshit.  You could argue that this is a very personal mindset that I’ve developed over the last few years and that most people strive to get as much for themselves and maximise their own wellbeing by promoting themselves, perhaps at the expense of others.  The research suggests otherwise:  Random acts of kindness raise the wellbeing levels more in the giver than the receiver.  Volunteering your time to charities has a positive effect on health and wellbeing – people live longer and are happier.  Surrounding yourself with happy friends rubs off on you – you get happier.  Living in a society with a large gulf between rich and poor has an adverse effect on the wellbeing levels of the rich – perhaps they live in fear of what they have to lose or deep down know at a basic level that if their neighbours are not doing well then they also can’t be truly happy.

I think human brains are hardwired for fairness and compassion.  We want to succeed as individuals but we know deep down that this shouldn’t be at the expense of others.

At the end of a yoga class we say the word ‘namaste’, which has a number of meanings but essentially is a recognition of each others inner spark or light.  That at our core, we are brilliant and radiant and shiny.  I like these ideas.  Even if that’s all they are, it is a useful proposition.  It does you good to think that we are all radiant and loving and made of the same stuff on the inside. And what’s even better is that the latest research strongly supports the assertion that as I recognise your strengths and goodness, and as I strive to help you out, I actually help myself more.

Another lovely idea in Hinduism is how their many millions of different gods are actually just different manifestations of our higher selves. They do not worship separate individual gods but recognise the godlike attributes we all have. So that when we think of a particular deity we are not praying to a thing that is separate, or better than us, but we are accessing and promoting a useful mindset that promotes our highest self.  For example I started with Lord Shiva. One aspect of this deity promotes the idea of change.  He can be the violent destroyer, transforming the past, present and future.  You can think of him burning everything in his domain, of destroying old habits, thought patterns, attachments to material possesions and old ways of doing things.  Hes like a forest fire that allows regrowth and fresh life.  When you are able to destroy and burn these old views of the world, you are more able to see the world afresh and when you look deep inside yourself and others, the inner luminence is not obscured by by preconditioning and material attachments from the past.

I use this in my personal life.  I tend to over-attach to good times.  When I want to access the inner knowledge that letting go allows growth and love to enter your life, I think of the ideal of the Shiva consciousness. 

In India on 28th February 2006 I sat with a group of friends by an open fire visualising Lord Shiva and chanting the word “svaha” over and over.  In fact for at least six hours. Svaha means to let go or “so be it”.  I was constantly throwing away and letting go old stale views of the world. Burning my old prejudices in the fire.  As you do this you retrain your brain.  You re-fire the synaptic connections between your neurons.  You create the mindset for change.  You allow yourself to see your own inner radiance and the radiance of others.  I think its great to use old ideas and re-fashion them to make them work for you. 

As I prepare to go and live back in Australia I’ve got rid of most of material possesions and am using my yoga techniques to create the mindset that embraces change. If you are interested in learning more about these techniques I’ll be running morning meditation classes in January and February so let me know .  You can also check out our team of mind therapy experts at www.breathe-london.com/coaching

love Andy

Posted on January 13, 2014, in Coaching, Meditation etc., positive psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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