How to live (excerpt from Matt Haig's excellent "Reasons to stay alive")
1.Appreciate happiness when it is there.
2.Sip, don’t gulp.
3.Be gentle with yourself. Work less. Sleep more.
4.There is absolutely nothing in the past that you can change. That’s basic physics.
5.Beware of Tuesdays. And Octobers.
6.Kurt Vonnegut was right. ‘Reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.’
7.Listen more than you talk.
8.Don’t feel guilty about being idle. More harm is probably done to the world through work than idleness. But perfect your idleness. Make it mindful.
9.Be aware that you are breathing.
10.Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.
11.Hate is a pointless emotion to have inside you. It is like eating a scorpion to punish it for stinging you.
12.Go for a run. Then do some yoga.
13.Shower before noon.
14.Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.
16.Understand that thoughts are thoughts. If they are unreasonable, reason with them, even if you have no reason left. You are the observer of your mind, not its victim.
17.Do not watch TV aimlessly. Do not go on social media aimlessly. Always be aware of what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Don’t value TV less. Value it more. Then you will watch it less. Unchecked distractions will lead you to distraction.
18.Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.
19.Don’t worry about things that probably won’t happen.
20.Look at trees. Be near trees. Plant trees. (Trees are great.)
21.Listen to that yoga instructor on YouTube, and ‘walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet’.
22.Live. Love. Let go. The three Ls.
23.Alcohol maths. Wine multiplies itself by itself. The more you have, the more you are likely to have. And if it’s hard to stop at one glass, it will be impossible at three. Addition is multiplication.
24.Beware of the gap. The gap between where you are and where you want to be. Simply thinking of the gap widens it. And you end up falling through.
25.Read a book without thinking about finishing it. Just read it. Enjoy every word, sentence, and paragraph. Don’t wish for it to end, or for it to never end.
26.No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people.
27.Listen to what Hamlet – literature’s most famous depressive – told Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
28.If someone loves you, let them. Believe in that love. Live for them, even when you feel there is no point.
29.You don’t need the world to understand you. It’s fine. Some people will never really understand things they haven’t experienced. Some will. Be grateful.
30.Jules Verne wrote of the ‘Living Infinite’. This is the world of love and emotion that is like a ‘sea’. If we can submerge ourselves in it, we find infinity in ourselves, and the space we need to survive.
31.Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life.
32.Remember that there is nothing weird about you. You are just a human, and everything you do and feel is a natural thing, because we are natural animals. You are nature. You are a hominid ape. You are in the world and the world is in you. Everything connects.
33.Don’t believe in good or bad, or winning and losing, or victory and defeat, or up and down. At your lowest and at your highest, whether you are happy or despairing or calm or angry, there is a kernel of you that stays the same. That is the you that matters.
34.Don’t worry about the time you lose to despair. The time you will have afterwards has just doubled its value.
35.Be transparent to yourself. Make a greenhouse for your mind. Observe.
36.Read Emily Dickinson. Read Graham Greene. Read Italo Calvino. Read Maya Angelou. Read anything you want. Just read. Books are possibilities. They are escape routes. They give you options when you have none. Each one can be a home for an uprooted mind.
37.If the sun is shining, and you can be outside, be outside.
38.Remember that the key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days. Depression lifts.
39.Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.
40.Be brave. Be strong. Breathe, and keep going. You will thank yourself later.
How to live (excerpt from Matt Haig's excellent "Reasons to stay alive")
Accepting our human condition of unsatisfactoriness is the antidote to suffering, for somebody who knows that the oil in his lamp is limited, will not moan after its extinction. One who knows that the lamp which he has lit is not safe from the harsh winds will not scream when it is blown out.
— Hazrat Bayazid Bistami
As long as you live, shine,
Have no grief at all.
For your life is short,
and time will claim its toll.
Isle of Wight.
The attack on Pearl Harbor. Vividly illustrated in Reader's digest's "The World at Arms".
We are, each of us, a multitude. I am not the man I was this morning, nor the man of yesterday. I am a throng of myself queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.
- Josiah Bancroft, Arm of the Sphinx
However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence your deeper self behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.
- Eckhart Tolle
… a person who is obsessed with the desire for perfect feelings tries to feel refreshed at all times. In fact, however, our daily feelings naturally flow and change according to internal and external conditions like the weather. A person who insists upon feeling refreshed is like one who hopes to have clear skies all the time. As soon as he sees a bit of a cloud he assumes the weather will be terrible all day. When he feels just a little out of sorts he tells himself that he is no good and he makes himself feel worse.
Poster designed by Marching Ants, for the upcoming Tamil film (believed to be Kamal Haasan's swansong). Curious to see what the prosthetics look like on screen.
To truly love ourselves, we must open to our wholeness, rather than clinging to the slivers of ourselves represented by old stories. Living in a story of a limited self—to any degree—is not love.
- Sharon Salzberg
Extracted from "The practice of Nada Yoga" by Baird Hersey.
Here is the meditation with the additive practices integrated in, with instructions for each step.
Take a couple of deep slow breaths, with equal inhale and exhale. Then let your breathing settle into a relaxed, easy flow.
Sit comfortably with your body in symmetry. Let the right side of your body (hands/arms, feet/legs) be in the same position as the left side. If you can sit with your legs crossed with one of your heels pressing up into your perineum, that is ideal. If not, sit on a rolled up blanket or pillow with your legs on both sides so that there is pressure on your perineum. Block the sound entering your ears with earplugs. You can use your fingers instead, although this will cause a sound of its own, which may be distracting.
Put your hands on your knees. This will prevent you from slumping. Keep your spine straight. (If your fingers are in your ears, sit with your feet flat on the ground and your knees up. Put your elbows on your knees.)
Rest your tongue on the front of the roof of your mouth with the tip resting lightly on the ridge just above the roots of the upper teeth.
Close your eyes.
Lightly engage mula bandha, by contracting the PC muscle, and uddiyana bandha, by pulling the belly in and the navel up. This will help the energy move up from the perineum, passing in front of the spine, all the way to the top of the head.
Try to find a position of comfort so you don’t have to move. You want to be able to sit in perfect stillness in order for yoga nidra to arise.
Recall a past experience of unconditional love. Fill your heart with that feeling. Repose in the center of your heart, suffused with that unconditional love.
With your eyes still closed look up between your eyebrows. Your gaze is inward, but your focus is as if you were looking outward into the distance. Although you are actively looking/watching, try to make this effortless, without strain.
With a feeling of unconditional love and sense of joyful anticipation, invite the Divine Light to arise.
Allowing the light to arise is something we intuitively and naturally know how to do. The light is already shining within us. With unconditional love surrender your control over it.
Quiet your mind. Let go of all thinking. If thoughts come up, let them pass like a cloud in the sky. Then bring your focus back to looking/ watching between your eyebrows.
If you continue to be distracted by your thoughts, chant So on the inhale and Ham on the exhale, or Om, or a personal mantra. If you would rather use a word in English that is meaningful, One or Love will work nicely. Repeat it both on the inhale and the exhale.
At first you may see only darkness. Eventually you will begin to see flickering, clouds, rays of color, or lights. These are not imagined. They are an internal perception.
If light arises, hold it in your attention without trying to control it. Thank it with unconditional love for arising.
With continuous unbroken concentration, over time, the lights will eventually become a single focused point of light. It may be a very small, intense dot or fleck of light, an iridescent blue or indigo “pearl” surrounded by a corona, a bright burning ball of white light, a shimmering star, or other concentrations of brilliant radiance.
Realize that you are not separate from the light. Embrace that “You are that.” Co-absorb with the 8. At the same time draw your eyes back in toward the center of your head, pulling the light with them.
Draw the light into and around you. As you dissolve into it and it into you, blissfully feel it surrounding and covering your head. Let that blissful feeling flow over and spread through your entire body.
Keep a continuous feeling of moving forward into the light as it is drawn into you and you are drawn into it.
Your body should feel extremely comfortable. Remain perfectly still to maintain that blissful comfort.
Now that your attention has steadied, let go of any mantra you might be using. This clears the way for listening for the internal sound. The light leads the way to the sound.
There is a subtle nerve channel that runs from under the right eye, down the cheek to the bottom of the jawbone, along the lower jaw to its hinge, and back up behind the right ear. Turning your attention to this nadi will lead you from the light to the sound.
With a feeling of unconditional love and joyful anticipation, invite the Sacred Sound to arise.
Allowing the sound to arise is something we intuitively and naturally know how to do. The sound is already vibrating within us. With unconditional love, surrender your control over it.
Listen through the right ear for an internal sound. The sound may take many forms: a low rumble, a buzzing, a resonant sustained tone, a shimmering tinkle, or a high ringing. If you don’t hear any of these right away, be patient and wait with a joyful anticipation for the sound to arise. Allow for the possibility that in time you will hear it.
If sound arises, hold it in your attention without trying to control it. Thank it with unconditional love for arising.
It is a very subtle sound. Whatever sound you hear fix your attention on the subtlest part of it: the sound behind, above, within, or beyond the sound. Just by focusing on it, it will increase in intensity and volume.
Follow the sound, co-absorb with it, letting it pour into you, filling you like water from a pitcher.
Having co-absorbed with both the sound and the light, realize you are not separate from them. You and the light are one. You and the sound are one. The light is the sound. The sound is the light. You and the light and the sound are all merged. Dissolve into them and them into you. You are all one.
Look straight ahead, “through” your eyelids, as if you are looking at a point far in the distance. You may experience a vast openness, a distant horizon, an expansive pale white sky.
On the inhale draw the breath/energy up from the perineum, up the spine, all the way to the top of the head. On the exhale let it release back down.
Dissolve the light, sound, breath/prana, and your mind all into one.
Remain perfectly still in your body and mind.
When you are finished rub your head, arms, torso, legs, and especially the bottoms of your feet.