Archive | spirituality

How to avoid negativity

One of our great challenges in life is to avoid negativity – a negative attitude to ourselves and others. It is easy to become suspicious, critical, depressed, fearful, but, despite the prevailing attitudes of the world there is no inevitability that we have to become a grumpy old man. It is quite possible to see the beautiful in the ordinary and bring to the fore the better side of human nature. If we avoid negativity we will see definitely see the positive in life and enjoy life much more.

negativity-hearts-joy

Understand why we can cherish negativity

Sometimes we have a tendency to negativity, without fully realising it. This can occur if

  • We want to appear clever. Sometimes we criticise or find fault because we sub-consciously want to display our greater knowledge. If we look hard enough we can always find some minor blemish on a flower. If we think hard enough, we can always think of some reason to be suspicious or critical. It is not necessarily bad to think deeply, but there are times when we can over-think and over-intellectualise issues and use our knowledge to try and prove our superiority. Sometimes negativity can occur because we wish to feel we have secret knowledge other people don’t know.
  • Low self-esteem. If we feel bad about ourself, we tend to be more critical of other people. This is because we start to see the same faults in others. Also, we may criticise others to try and improve our self-esteem.
  • Habit. Negativity can become a habit. Always expecting the worse; the problem is that if negativity is a habit it can become self-fulfilling. Other people are put off by our negativity. Our negativity brings out the worse in others.

If these are some reasons we may cherish negativity, these are some things we can do to overcome negativity.

Criticise not

Criticising others is a very pervasive bad habit we all have. Sometimes we can actually go out of our way to look for the failings and faults of others. It is as if we are blind to their good qualities but their mistakes stand out in our mind. Even worse we can often imagine faults that others might have. This is the height of stupidity, but the nature of the mind can easily turn to negativity and we have to be on guard.

It is a great exercise to try and think about the good aspects of people whom you frequently criticise. The important thing is that criticising others has an unmistakeable impact on ourselves. If we are permanently finding fault with the world it affects our self.

To deliberately criticise
Another individual
May cause an indelible stain
On the critic.

– Sri Chinmoy

The world will not collapse if we halt our self styled criticism. If we look to encourage and praise the good aspects of others, we will bring these qualities to the fore in ourself.

Choosing consciously

All the time we are faced with choices. Do I see the negative or the positive? Somebody at work might pass a thoughtless and disparaging comment. Our instinctive reaction may be to nurse a sense of grievance and think of many equally unpleasant things to say about the person in return. However, another way to look at this situation would be to think. They are unfortunately wrong, perhaps they are feeling insecure and so try to unfairly put others down. In the past there may have been times when I may have done something like that. I will make an effort to be kind to that person as this will be the best way to show they were mistaken and also to help them overcome their depressed state of mind.

The first response invites a tit for tat response which will encourage negativity. The second response is dignified and requires nobility of character. But, we lose nothing by avoiding negativity – we gain a tremendous amount. The point is we always have a choice about how we respond to situations; avoiding the negative and unpleasant just takes a conscious decision.

Self-belief

It is vital to cultivate a sense of self-worth and self-respect. If we do not have faith in ourselves how can we have faith in anyone else? Self-belief should not be equated with arrogance or pride. We are seeking to cultivate a sense of self respect so we are at peace with ourselves. We are often our worst critic, sometimes we ignore genuine faults but worry excessively over minor issues that aren’t really faults. We need to learn from our mistakes and be honest with our weaknesses but it should not be at a cost of putting ourselves down. If we make a mistake learn to let go, don’t keep the negative memory at the forefront of your mind. If we can have a good feeling about ourselves it will be very easy to have a good feeling about others and the rest of the world.

Service and dynamism

Idleness is the worst cultivator of negativity. If we sit mopping aimlessly around we will inevitable become bored and negative. Life will seem no fun. The easiest way to change our mindset is to become meaningfully busy. If we really want to serve others there will always be some way that we can find. If we are really busy we will not have time to criticise the world. If we don’t have work to do, we can also just take physical exercise. This is also an excellent way of shaking off the cobwebs of our mind.

Osmosis.

The nature of the human mind is that it consciously or unconsciously absorbs the vibrations from around us. If we spend time with negative people, watching 24 hour news, then we will be more prone to negativity ourselves. We have to choose our work, leisure time carefully. Don’t spend too much time in the company of those who cherish negativity and always want to share it with you. When we do spend time with negative people we need to be on our guard that we don’t share their world view.

Be young at heart.

I have already made two references to ‘grumpy old men’ this is not an ageist remark. You can be a grumpy old man when you are 20. You can be 80 years old but remain young at heart. Age is very much something of a mental attitude. We want to cultivate a childlike attitude which takes joy from small, simple, beautiful things. We want to avoid a great sophistication and mental dissection of everything. If we over analyse life we are living in the mind and unable to live in the heart.

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The art of change

It is said the one constant of life is that life is always changing. However, are we open to change or do we get stuck in bad habits?

autumn-path

One of the great challenges is to strive to change our nature. Not surrender to our weaknesses but to constantly examine our life, and see if we can make it better.

We might be wrong. Changing your mind can be hard, if we hold onto misplaced placed feelings of pride or reluctance to appear wrong. Changing your mind in the face of evidence is not a sign of weakness, but strength. Clinging onto the wrong attitude will only hurt ourselves. We don’t change our mind because we just want to fit into societies expectations, we change because we listen to our own quiet inner conscience.

Don’t give up. The most important thing is to have faith that things can change for the better. If we have the attitude “I can’t help it” or “I’m doomed to disappointment” that will tend to be our experience. However, if we always feel that we have the capacity to mould our life and inner attitude, then we have a good fighting chance. Don’t surrender to fate and circumstance, but always persevere. Continue Reading →

Children of the Himalayan caves

A commentary on a poem by Sri Chinmoy and what it means to be a spiritual seeker. This poem suggests for long-term spiritual progress, we need to retain the ability and willingness to change – retaining a sense of newness and enthusiasm, but also with a self-giving spirit which transcends the need for outer praise and attention.


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The spiritual significance of trees

Firstly, I have a new location for blog at Write Sprit. This post is a look at the spiritual significance of trees including aspiration, strength from flexibility, service, and patience.

trees

Many spiritual devotees have had spiritual experiences with trees. Perhaps most famously Siddhartha Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree for 7 days, until he attained Liberation and Nirvana. Descendants of that Bodhi tree are still revered today as an auspicious place of spiritual significance.

Trees and the connectedness of life

willow-tree-flood-winter-daffodil-2

Trees play a vital role in creating a harmonious eco-system. Trees absorb excess water, provide oxygen, help reduce pollution and provide many raw materials, such as wood, nuts and fruits. Continue Reading →

Quote: “Can you not see the plank in your own eye?”

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

– Matthew 7:3

This well known quote comes from the Bible. The context is

For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

Meaning of quote

As humans we are opt to see the mistakes of others, but overlook our own mistakes. It is easier to criticise the failing of other people than it is to be aware of our own shortcomings.

In fact, if we concentrate on the weaknesses of other people, we can unconsciously invite these problems into our own nature.

Also, within the context of this parable, Jesus Christ is making us aware that those who are quick to judge – will be judged themselves. If we judge with a critical eye – that is how we will be judged ourself.

If someone does something wrong, it doesn’t mean we can never tell them. There are occasions, when we need to criticise the behaviour of other people. This teaching is aimed at those who spend their time judging and condemning others – but ignoring their own problems. Continue Reading →

Hilda Charlton – a tribute

(Hilda Charlton was a spiritual teacher who taught meditation in New York City from 1965 to 1988. In her teachings Hilda stressed the importance of a life of giving and forgiving, unconditional love and remembrance of God. She Hilda Charltonuplifted the lives of thousands of people who sought her spiritual guidance. She was born in London and moved to United States along with her parents and two elder brothers when she was four years old. As a young student she learnt classical ballet dancing and from the age of eighteen for the next two decades she performed and taught dancing in the San Francisco area. But right from her childhood her real quest was spiritual. From 1947 to 1950, Hilda toured India and Ceylon as a dancer. After that she lived in India and Ceylon for fifteen more years, pursuing her studies of Eastern mysticism and meditation under the guidance of many great spiritual masters.

This story of Hilda is based on her autobiography, ‘Hell bent for Heaven’. All phrases and sentences in quotes are Hilda’s own words unless otherwise mentioned.)

Hilda was direct, simple and filled with life1. The then president of Gold Mountain Entertainment, Danny Goldberg said of Hilda, “When Hilda talked about saints, she began with a gushing enthusiasm I would normally associate with a teenage girl contemplating her latest heartthrob. Almost imperceptibly her tone altered from one of girlishness to a solemnity manifesting the holiness of the saints’ lives to the jocular familiarity of a next door neighbour. Only gradually, subtly, and with the utmost concentration did it dawn on me that she herself was one of them.”

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