The Ultimate Truth!

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I would like to pass on my thoughts about, what I see as the Ultimate Truth, impermanence. But don’t just take my word for it, spend some time in contemplation and come to your own conclusions.

During my spiritual journey there has been one concept that has had the most profound effect upon my life, and my philosophy, that is the concept of impermanence. Whether you see that as; the Pagan cycle of birth,death and rebirth as exemplified in the Wheel of the Year; the Buddhist concept of Samsara, the Hindu concept of Moksha, or the Scientific concept of the Cycle of life, it cannot be denied that everything changes and is impermanent. At the level of inanimate matter all things change, nothing is permanent, even Suns are born; illuminate the vacuum of Space, but eventually die, and are recycled into new stars or planets etc. In the realm of the biological all life; comes into existence, grows and experiences life on this planet, but eventually dies. This is the natursl law of the universe and nothing, and no-one, is exempt. Psychologically this has a profound effect upon the human psyche and; depending upon our particular psychological make-up, belief systems, and experiences, each individual will deal-with, or not deal-with, this fact of life.

How do I apply this concept to my life and what impact has it had on how I live and view my life? in particular how does it impact on my response to the fact of my own mortality?

Whether you belive in an existence prior to birth or after death does not really matter, and is ultimately unknowable whilst in this physical body. I personally have my own concept of what happens after death and what preceded my birth, but I want to keep this post focussed on how the realisation of impermanence can have a real impact on how we live our life in the here and now. As such, this discussion is focused on impermanence, which although universal to the whole of the Universe, I will take as its focus how it applies to the experience of being human.

As a newly conceived embryo, existence within the womb is pretty comfortable, all of our needs are catered for and we float around in a warm, supportive environment. It must truly feel like we are the centre of the universe. Suddenly all of that changes and we experience the trauma of birth, life will never be the same again, and the experience must be truly terrifying. We are presented with a completely new experience in an environment that we had no knowledge of, or expectation!

It is suggested that, as a new-born child, we have no understanding that we are separate from that which we experience in our environment, they still experience an awareness of the oneness of the universe. There is a process of learning required which will be shaped by our environment and experiences. This is one of the first examples that demonstrate the concept of Karma, originally a Hindu and Buddhist concept, but now widely accepted in many western thought and belief systems. Although I do have a belief in a form of reincarnation, Karma is not a concept that requires a belief in reincarnation, it’s simply the law of cause and effect and applies moment by moment throughout our lives. I’ll have a bit more to say about Karma later in this post.

As we begin to grow-up and become toddlers we begin to interact more with the environment, exploring relationships with both other living beings and our physical surroundings. All of these experiences will have a profound effect on how we develop, both physically and psychologically, and is another example of the process of Karma.

Entering childhood we expand the influences on our development as we enter the wider world of education and increasing social/environmental contact. We change through this journey and are no longer the person we were as a new-born child or a toddler. Already we have an example of impermanence, it is also quite clear how Karma has impacted on this process of change. We are no longer the same person that we were previously, although there is a stream of memory and consciousness that ties the changing persona together to help create our personality and fledgling Ego. Whether there is some deeper, higher, consciousness that is permanent I don’t know, but personally I have a subjective feeling that there is a deep part of me, almost pre-conscious that is permanent throughout my life, and will continue after death. Either way it is impossible to know, therefore, it may be an interesting metaphysical and philosophical question to ponder but has no real bearing on the truth of the impermanence of life on the physical plane.

Teenage years are a rollercoaster of change and impermanence, driven by the physical processes stimulated by the release of our various hormones; our physical bodies, psychological drives and desires, and personality are in a process of rapid change. Nothing is stagnant at this stage, and these physical processes are not under our conscious control, although our psychological and health development will be impacted by the personal choices we make, these being driven by our desires or aversions, attachments, and knowledge.

Moving into adulthood we have developed a mature Ego and personality based upon the Karmic effects inherited from our growth from birth to adulthood. Most people, through the influence of our culture and family ties, enter working life and begin the process of starting families or building careers. It’s very much a time of reactive activity based upon the pressure from our environment. But the way that we react to this pressure and influence from our environment, and the choices we then make, will have a profound impact upon our future development. Once again looking back we can see that the person we were as a teenager has gone, or at least been assimilated into the mature adult personality and ego. It’s clear by this stage that our Ego and Personality are impermanent and, therefore, change is inevitable!

Moving into old age we change physically, emotionally and psychologically; our bodies are no longer able to do physical activities as well as they used to, our mental processes may begin to decline, our vision deteriorates, and our health declines. This is the time that, for most people, thoughts begin to turn towards reviewing their past life and looking towards their impending death. This can be a very difficult time for some but, depending on how they view life and particularly if they have accepted that all is impermanent, it is possible to come to terms with this process.

So, being someone who at the age of 58 has been given a diagnosis on incurable stage 4 cancer, how have I processed that information, and how has my contemplation of impermanence helped me to come to terms with this?

I have always been conscious of my health and wellbeing; having watched my diet, kept my ear to the ground with the latest health research and advice, exercised regularly, and monitored my physical condition. it was, to say the least, initially a surprise and a shock. Someone asked me if I was upset that it had happened to me at this age as I was so health conscious, I answered “why not me? I’m no more special than anyone else” I think many of those around me are surprised at my reaction, but I think this stems from my many years of being a Pagan; an animist; and having an interest in studying a wide and varied number of other spiritual belief systems. Also, I work as a nurse and have cared for many patients as they go through the process of dying, I have sat with patients, their relatives, and their friends, as they try to come to terms with the dying process. This has led me to a deep understanding and acceptance of the impermanence of life, my own included. I have contemplated my own death over the years, and dealt with the death of my Father, Mother, and Mother-in-Law.

Through the process of Karma we are influenced by the past, our future is influenced by the Karma we develop in the Now. As the past no longer exists and we cannot change the Karma that we inherited from it. I do not focus on the past if I can help it and have little attachment to it or harbour any regret. The future has yet to be and is unknowable, therefore, there is little benefit to be gained from worrying about what may be. By all means make sensible contingency plans for possible future scenarios, it would be remiss of me, as someone with incurable cancer not to. But worry is a wasted emotion and achieves nothing but distress in the now.

The only thing that exists is the ‘Now’ the now has been influenced by my past, and future will be influenced by the; actions, intentions, and motivation that I choose to have in this moment.

The Now is the most important thing that I can focus on as the Karma I develop now is the Karma that will influence what future I experience. Even the quality of my death, and how it impacts on those around me, is intimately tied up with how I live in the Now.

Even the Now is impermanent and exists for only an instant, it cannot be grasped or held onto, you cannot have an attachment to it for it is fleeting. But the decisions you make, the attachments you create and the desires you act upon in the Now will carry forward into your future through the cause and effect process of Karma.

So, to conclude this post I will just say that I try, to the best of my ability, to live in the now. I pay particular attention to; the desires and impulses I act upon; the attachments I develop at each moment; the choices I make; the impact I have on others by my actions, speech and choices. I find that the Buddhist Nobel Eightfold Path is a useful guide to achieve this and accords pretty well with my Druidic beliefs.

I accept that I have a life limiting disease but I keep in mind that, if I allow this to cause me undue anxiety Regarding my ultimate death, I have allowed a future that does not yet exist to rob me of the joys and experiences of the present, this causing unnecessary suffering to myself and those around me.

I hope this has given you some food for thought, I reiterate my suggestion to not take my word for it, but to do your own contemplation on impermanence.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment if you have anything interesting and constructive to add.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Teddy Bear’s Picnic!

It never ceases to amaze me when inspiration arises at the most unexpected time, or in the most obscure of places.  It all began on the day of the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, which is a nice promotional day organised by the Talyllyn Railway where families take a ride on the narrow-gauge railway from Tywyn to Abergynolwen on the edges of the wonderful Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.

 

The weather was gorgeous and perfect for a picnic in the play area at Abergynolwen Station. Scarlett was already tucking into a tasty cool ice-cream! and cuddling up to her Teddy bear.

We had a great time on the picnic, and we were joined by a small pack of Teddy Bears that had joined the party on our table! 20180726_120109

You may at this point be wondering what the strange thing was that happened whilst out at the Teddy Bears Picnic? Well, it happened on the train journey back to Tywyn, as the Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub of the trains wheels on the track sent me into an almost hypnotic trance.

A Train Journey: Metaphor for mindfulness Practice

As I was gently swayed from side to side by the gentle rocking of the carriage I automatically slipped into a state of mindfulness. The gentle Lub-Dub becoming the focus of my attention as I became aware of how the gentle rocking was synchronised with the repetative sounds. I found this blend of sound and movement to be extremely relaxing.

At times my attention was grabbed by something within the passing countryside and my state of mindfulness was, for a moment, broken as the object of interest took hold of my consciousness. Sometimes I was able to relax my attention and return to the Lub-Dub sounds and the gentle swaying as the attention grabbing scene disappeared out of view. This reminded me of how in mindful practice, a thought, vision or sound could grab-hold of your attention and, without you even being aware that it had happened,  could hook your conscious attention. Before you know it you find yourself on a train of thought that takes you away from being mindful of the ‘Now’ moment. The moment you become conscious of this happening you have the opportunity to gently, without irritation of expectation, return your attention back to where you are. Becoming aware of your breathing helps you to centre back into the moment and once more allowing your attention to fall, relaxed, upon the current surroundings and what is occurring within the ‘Now’.

As I contemplated this process, and how the train journey itself was an excellent metaphor for the whole mindfulness experience, I realised that the things that grabbed my attention and ‘Hooked’ me were mainly sights or sounds that initiated some kind of emotional response within me. It really didn’t matter what the emotion was; be it Awe, Curiosity, Irritation, anger etc. the power of the emotional body to take control of your attention and thoughts was quite surprising and quite a revelation. Just like life itself the train journey had plenty of opportunities to grab my attention and take me on a thought journey away from the experience of the moment.

My next revelation was realising that my thoughts would often be taken, either forward along the track to possible future experiences or back along the track to what had already happened. This was another aspect that mimicked the process of mindful practice. Whilst practicing mindfulness I often find that it takes some time, and quite a bit of persistence, to let go of my thoughts about the future or the past and to just experience the moment of ‘Now’. This doesn’t require any effort or physical activity, but requires a letting go of attachment to whatever is driving this though form. Just like on the train where you can look back along the track to see where you have been or forward to where the train is being taken, it would quite easy to allow your attention and conscious awareness to follow these trains of thought and to become so engrossed in what has been, or the possibilities of what may be, that the beauty that exists just outside the train carriage is missed.

Looking out the window to the tantalising hint of the sea that appears through the trees it would be tempting to get drawn into the future and the past. Thoughts of enjoying the seashore when the journey is are in conflict with thoughts reaching back into the past as the memories, and the emotions related to the memories, come flooding back and clamour for my conscious attention.20180726_134948

At times the train was forced to slow down, or stop, for a minute or two and I was able to allow my awareness to fall onto the surrounding beauty. I had time to take in the scene and feel gratitude for the sense of calm and peace that nature often provides. Having no distractions at these times, other than my wandering thoughts, I was able to appreciate the moment and see aspects of the countryside that otherwise would be missed. These were like the moments within my mindfulness practice where I become fully immersed in the now and become acutely aware of all that surrounds me or what is happening to, and within, me. Those moments of clarity and pure mindfulness are like the metaphorical station stops along the train journey of life.

My message to you, the reader, is simple:

mindful train ticket

Have a mindful day!
Regards Chris /|\

 

Chamomile & Lavender Tea: What a magical herbal mix.

The gentle breeze was just enough to take the heat out of the mid-day Sun while I sat watching the bees as they were busy coming and going from the hives. It was idyllic and I was lulled into a state of mindfulness by the warm breeze and the gentle hum of the hives. Just what the Dr. ordered for some spiritual recuperation 🙂

During my sojourn into the ‘Now’ the chamomile that grows around the hives caught my attention  as they swayed and bobbed in the breeze followed quickly by the subtle scent of the lavender encroaching into the periphery of my senses.

Not one to pass-up a message from nature I felt inspired to make a nice cup of Chamomile & Lavender tea. I’d have a look at the properties of these two herbs after I’d indulged myself in the brew.

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Chamomile & Lavender Tea

Properties of Chamomile (9 top Properties)

  1. High Source of Antioxidants
  2. Fights Anxiety and Depression
  3. Improves Digestion
  4. Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory and Pain-Reducing Abilities
  5. Helps Fight Cancer (in particular skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers)
  6. Relieves Congestion
  7. Promotes Skin Health
  8. Keeps Gums and Teeth Healthy
  9. Improves Heart Health

According to Dr Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley in their book, ‘The Metabolic Approach to Cancer‘, state the following regarding Chamomile:

Apigenin, a plant flavonoid found in Parsely’s stems and leaves (as well as in celery and chamomile tea) demonstrates cytotoxic activities)…

…its cytotoxic activity has been found comparable to that of doxorubicin.

Properties of Lavender

  • Antiseptic and Anti-inflammatory
  • Treats Anxiety, Insomnia, depression and Restlessness
  • Helps Digestive Issues
  • Relieves pain
  • Antifungal
  • Useful in wound healing

I’d say that nature was giving me a nice little helping hand there with its hint at making a chamomile and lavender tea! relaxing and calming properties plus anti-cancer properties 🙂

See below for a few sources to support the above, but there are loads more out there if you have a look.

Have a relaxed and chilled-out day, and remember to tell those you love that “You Love Them”

Peace and love
Chris /|\

Sources:

 

My day begins and ends with GRATITUDE and JOY – So Can YOURS

Affirmation of the Day

My day begins and ends with GRATITUDE and JOY – Louise L. Hay

I began my day, albeit a later start than I had planned, with my 10 minutes of meditation followed by a very enjoyable exercise session. I did my usual push-ups and sit-ups but have decided to add some flexibility and relaxation training into my regime. Therefore, I’ve decided to restart Tai Chi again after a 12 year break and have joined a local class teaching the Yang style 37 step form. This is different to my previous Tai Chi form which was the Lee style, but the underlying Taoist principles are the same. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to restart my practice and I’m looking forward to the next lesson on Wednesday. I can’t really define why Tai Chi is such a joy to do, on the surface it just looks like slow elegant moving but I find it so meditative and balancing.

We had a busy day planned and I was grateful for having the two weeks annual leave from work which will allow me to get quite a few jobs done around the house and the allotment, not to mention our trip to Bala and our planned weekend with friends.

The day started with working on the garden and the back yard. Weeks of Sun with no rain has left the ground extremely dry, but the bonus of the good weather is that our two bee hives are doing extremely well. Watching the bees fills my heart with joy, gratitude and appreciation for the hard work they do and the promise of a little honey later in the year fills me with anticipation. There’s nothing to beat the pleasure of tasting the sweet unadulterated raw honey from your own bee hives, but I don’t take too much as I keep bees mainly for the pleasure of watching them and knowing that we are supporting the bio-diversity in the area. Another bonus, for which I can thank the Sunny weather for, is the health of the grape-vine this year, looks like it’s going to be a bountiful year.

Later on it was time for family. Sue and I were meeting Christina with our grand-daughter Scarlett. We met for a drink at Pebbles, a local cafe on the promenade, they are well worth a visit if you’re visiting Tywyn. Here’s a link to their Trip advisor entry.

I am so grateful to be able to spend this time with my family, it fills me with joy and happiness. It’s surprising how the words “you have cancer” can somehow make everything clearer about what’s really important in life. Cancer, like many other life limiting conditions, is terrible but there is a flip side as it can be the stimulus to making you re-evaluate your life’s priorities. I think my diagnosis has sharpened my ‘metaphorical’ vision to be able to see, and appreciate, the joy that can be gained from the simple pleasures, like spending time with family. So I do at least have one thing to be grateful for from my illness. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say LOL.

Later that day I spent 45 minutes listening to the healing cancer hypnosis video I’m currently using. I still can’t believe I manage to lie still for that length of time! I do appreciate the effort, and generosity, of people who produce material like this for free. Please visit their channel and give a thumbs up to help them out. Hypnosis: Deep Trance Cancer Healing

Well that’s a quick outline of my day and the joy and gratitude I feel. I’ll check in again soon.

Have a wonderfully joyous day filled with peace, harmony and gratitude

Matcha Green Tea: a brew to start the day

Affirmation of the Day

My Power exists in the NOW therefore, I acknowledge and forgive my past. For I know that NOW is the seed of my becoming.

Match Green Tea

 

I have started to incorporate Matcha Green Tea into my dietary regime. I consume two small cups a day which I find very enjoyable. I decided to try this particular green tea because it is promoted as having many health benefits, even greater than normal infused green tea. I’ll add some resources below if you want to research it yourself.

My Experience so far

I love the taste and find it quite refreshing. Luckily the caffeine content hasn’t triggered my palpitations, which are the signs my body gives me if I overdo the caffeine. I actually enjoy the process of making the tea as I try, if possible, to do it in a meditative state  like the Japanese do with their tea ceremony.

Is it improving my health? it’s too early to say at the moment but I’m happy to continue as I enjoy the experience of making and drinking it, but I will continue to keep an eye on the research and hopefully a few more studies might come out demonstrating the benefits of Match green tea.

10  Benefits of Drinking Matcha Green Tea

  • High in Antioxidants
  • High in Catechin, EGCg (The most potent and beneficial antioxidants)
  • Induces Calm – reduces stress
  • Boosts Memory and Concentration
  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Helps Weight Loss
  • Aides Detoxification
  • Boosts the Immune System
  • Improves Cholesterol Profile
  • Tastes Great!

Some of the Research papers involving Matcha Green Tea

That’s all folks!

Have a stupendous day, appreciate every moment and be Mindful.

Kefir Cheese: A really tasty probiotic cheese to make at home

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If you love soft cheese with a nice sharp taste as much as I do then I suggest you have a go at making this Kefir cheese. It taste wonderful, lovely and creamy yet sharp (you can reduce the sharpness if you prefer a milder taste) and full of healthful probiotics to help support good gut health. I like kefir drink but as I’m low-carb I drain the whey to make a cheese and to reduce the amount of any lactose that may be left in the kefir.

Ingredients

  • Kefir Grains (source a good supply to start you collection off – it’s worth the effort to get a good reliable kefir culture as it’s a one-off purchase)
  • Organic whole milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Any additional flavouring you prefer ie. Chives, Chilli Flakes, Parsley, Garlic etc.

Equipment

  • Glass container to ferment the kefir (use some muslin to cover the opening if not using a container with a suitable lid)
  • Butter muslin (don’t bother with cheese cloth, it’s not suitable)

Method

  • Place kefir grains into your glass container
  • Add your milk and stir or shake to mix well
  • Cover and place in a warm environment to ferment (the time it takes will be dependant upon the temperature of your room and the ratio of kefir grains to milk volume. Typically this will be from 24 hours to 36 hours depending on how acidic you like your soft cheese. I ferment until the curds and whey have naturally divided, as you can see in the following photograph.20180711_115602
  • When you have decided to separate the curds and whey you need to pass the kefir through a sieve (preferably a non-metal sieve or colander)
  • Keep your kefir grains for use in the next batch (I store mine in the fridge in a glass jar with a little milk )
  • Line your sieve or colander with the butter muslin and pour you curds and whey into the sieve or collander to begin draining (I collect the initial whey and repass that through the muslin a second time to collect the small amount that goes through at the beginning of the draining process)
  • Leave for 12 to 24 hours to drain (you can keep the whey for consumption or use in cooking if you wish)
  • When you are happy that no more whey is draining you can either use as is, or if you want a stiffer cheese you can wrap the curds up in butter muslin and leave in the sieve with something heavy on it. The cheese is usually stiff enough after 3 to 4 hours with the weight on. (I use a large heavy tin to weigh the cheese down)
  • Remove cheese from muslin and add your salt and flavourings to taste, mix well and place into a suitable container, preferably ceramic rather than plastic due to the risk of chemicals leaching out of the plastic.

Store in the fridge and consume at your leisure. Kefir is a live culture so, as long as you have been hygienic throughout the process it will keep for an extended period. Unfortunately ours gets eaten too quickly for me to say what the maximum life is LOL.

Happy Day
Chris /|\

Checking in with myself

Affirmation for Today

I have a powerful and efficient immune system that continues to heal my body every minute of the day and night.

Hi everyone, I’ve had a couple of days working on my Spiritual blog over at At The Hearth where I’ve been completing Names of God:part 2 of my discussion and exploration of Iolo Morganwg’s Names of God references contained with the Barddas. So I thought I’d better check in and continue my ramblings.

Morning routine

As far as my early morning activities go, following the suggestions in ‘The Miracle Morning’, I did lapse yesterday and had a lie in. I think having just completed my run of 12 hour shifts on the ward I was just too tired and made the fatal mistake of not getting up as soon as I awoke, Hence I fell back to sleep for a couple of hours. I still managed to do my meditations, affirmations, exercises and reading, but later than I intended and with less focus. I did come across a really good video on Youtube, it was a 45 minute hypnosis video related to healing cancer. The video was called Hypnosis: Deep Trance Cancer Healing, I was amazed that I managed the full session without even moving! it was very relaxing and empowering.

Turmeric Drink

I’ve started drinking a really nice drink in the morning, as well as my Matcha green tea, a blend of turmeric, cinnamon, almond milk (home made and sugar free), and coconut milk (homemade and sugar free). It’s based on a traditional Indian drink with my own adjustments. As I’ve said before Turmeric is a wonder spice with masses of healing properties, well researched and validated, see my post about my Anti-Cancer Cauliflower Rice recipe

Method

I heat up a tablespoon of home made organic ghee in a saucepan to which I add 1 tsp of ground dried turmeric and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder. I then make a sieved nut milk using about 7 almond and 2 tbls of dried coconut, using spring water and the nutribullet, I sieve the nut milk. I mix it all together and simmer for a few minutes then pour it into a cup and consume.

Progress with Cancer Treatment

On a less positive note, although I do try to give it a positive spin, I have only just managed to get the MRI referral sent to the Radiology Department after the Registrar failed to complete the form 2 weeks ago! I wasn’t best pleased about this delay, especially after I was told it’s a 6 week waiting list for the MRI. On a positive note, they have promised to back-date the referral 2 weeks so the wait may be nearer 4 weeks. But at least the process has started, at last! (Update – just had a call informing me that the MRI is booked for 24th July which is 2 weeks away, so that’s better news).

Looking at the NHS Referral to Treatment (RTT) targets for Wales I note that their target for Cancer is 62 days from referral to initial treatment of the cancer. As my referral was sent 5th of May it’s clear that Wrexham Maelor Hospital are missing their target by a mile! it’s a good job I’m aware of the need to chase up referrals etc otherwise the request for the MRI would still be sitting around somewhere unsent!

Gratitude

  • A wonderful family who are supporting me to the hilt. I thank you all
  • Had a lovely visit from my Mother-in-Law yesterday, it was good to see her. Plus she bought me a couple of bars of 100% Chocolate by Montezuma, Yummy and full of great Polyphenols and Anti-oxidants, see this Critical Review
  • The roofer has arrived on time as promised, so the roof repair will be done today, before the rains start LOL
  • The morning greetings from the two dogs, Seren and Bella

     

I have a load of stuff to do today, so will leave it there, so have a wonderful and joyous day today.

Blessings
Chris /|\