The Ultimate Truth!

impermenance.jpg

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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Infinity’s Gift

My past?
A memory of Infinity.
My future?
Unbounded possibility.
I am,
Infinity held within the Now.

I have been?
A glorious shining star.
And will be?
A breath of wind that blows afar.
I am,
Infinity held within the Now.

I have felt?
Past’s gentle touch.
My future?
I can never dream too much.
I am,
Infinity held within the Now.

You hold?
Infinity’s golden past.
You hope?
My love of life will last.
I am,
Infinity held within your hands.

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 /|\

 

Checking in: Setting the Scene for the Coming Day

I have a busy day ahead so this post will be short and concise, and get the day off on a positive note.

I was up at 04:45 this morning, I gave myself an extra 15 minutes so that I could enjoy my Matcha green tea whilst listening to the healing affirmations I’m currently using.

Spent 10 minutes in silent meditation, just becoming aware of my breath and the sounds I could hear. I like mindfulness as a meditation so thought that would be good for this morning. Followed by 5 minutes visualisation; being healthy and strong was obviously in there, but I also visualised completing my DIY project! I must get the new hearth and fire-place installed and finished! it looked great in my mind’s eye so just need to manifest it now.

Had a good exercise session, managed 80 push-ups and 30 squats. I’m planning of doing some stretching and loosening up exercise once I’ve finished this post.

Spent about 15 minutes reading ‘Miracle Morning’ almost completed it so will be looking for my next read. Something positive, inspiring and something that will add value to my life.

Gratitude

  • Yet another fantastic Sunrise, more peach than Red this morning
  • Bella, our whippet, was so full of energy and joy this morning that I had to delay my exercises for a few minutes as she insisted on me playing with her and throwing her rope for her. She obviously wanted to get her exercises in too!
  • I feel energised this morning and looking forward to a productive 12 hour shift at work. Caring for people who are ill or recuperating is very rewarding and satisfying. I’m grateful for my career choice as it not only gives me satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment but it also gave me the chance to move from the city to a beautiful coastal part of Wales.
  • Feeling energised, healthy and full of positivity for the day ahead

I need to get ready to leave for work so will wish you all a blessed day, have fun, enjoy your day and see the positive in all things today 🙂

The Art of Gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Couple of Definitions of Gratitude

“a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” Harvard Medical School

“gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldly one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. Gratitude is a cognitive-affective state that is typically associated with the perception that one has received a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person” (Emmons & Stern, 2013).

Both of these definitions are useful when contemplating gratitude and how to focus on gratitude as a means to improve your mental well-being and develop a positive psychological state. I came across an interesting article, that can be found at the Positive Psychology Program, where they explore in detail the role of gratitude and appreciation in supporting a positive mental attitude.

As a person with an animistic belief system I find the usual definitions of gratitude very interesting but somewhat limited in scope. The Harvard Medical School definition does at least acknowledge the appreciation of something larger than themselves which includes nature and the Spiritual within life, whereas Emmons & Stern have a more limited definition which seems to keep gratitude well within the limits of human interaction. But, as an animist, I have the ability to expand the definition of ‘Person’ to include all ‘persons’ both human persons and non-human persons. Therefore it’s possible for me to feel gratitude to any number of animate and inanimate persons.

Take yesterday for instance. I spent a few hours on our beach enjoying the beautiful weather with my wife, daughter and Jax, one of my grandchildren, here’s a couple of shots showing just how lovely it was.

I later spent some time to reflect upon how much I appreciated the chance to experience this time on the beach with some of the people I love. My very soul is filled with a sense of gratitude I have for being able to live in such a beautiful part of Wales, and to be able to share this time with my family and friends. My sense of gratitude goes extremely deep. Here’s a short bullet list of what I felt gratitude for at this time:

  • I feel grateful for the love and support I have from my wife, children and friends
  • Grateful that I was able to witness the simple pleasures that my grandson experienced playing in the sand
  • Grateful to the ‘Spirit of Place – Genius Loci’ of the beach for being so welcoming to our presence.
  • Grateful to the gentle warm breeze that helped cool us down
  • Swimming alone out into the Sea I was extremely grateful for the peace and stillness that the waters provided.
  • I am grateful to the Sea and the sense of connection that I feel with every other part of this wonderful planet when I am in its embrace. The thought that the water I’m connecting to is itself connected to every other body of water on the planet, therefore, by proxy, so am I
  • Grateful to the warmth of the Sun and to my miraculous ability that my body has to convert the sunlight to vitamin D
  • I was very grateful to be alive to experience all this

I truly believe that living a life full of gratitude is the most positive way to live, just to be grateful that a stranger has smiled at you as they pass by in the street, or give you a cheery “hello” just lifts your day and it always makes me smile. So my advice, if you wish to hear it, is live a life full of gratitude. Spend a few minutes everyday looking back on your day and express your gratitude to all of the ‘Persons’ that crossed your path that day.

Joy and peace to you all /|\