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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Zen and the Art of Loving the Small Stuff

In December last year, after four years of intermittently practicing Reiki, first being attuned to level 1 and then 2 a year later, I felt a strong impulse to take my Master attunement. I almost immediately discovered Taggart King and his Reiki Evolution, a form of Reiki which is true to the method and spirit of Usui, the Japanese founder.

It called to me because it does not dwell on the westernised obsession with form and prescribed ritual but opens to the power of intuitive guidance and the potency of pure intention. I could never understand the necessity for the symbols; I could never memorise them and felt uncomfortable working with them. They felt immensely counter-intuitive to me. It was such a feeling of coming home when I found Taggart through another on-line Reiki group.

Taggart explained that the symbols were brought in as a means of giving a shortcut concrete focus to naval officers in the Japanese Navy who did not have the time or the inclination to pursue Reiki as a spiritual practice. Even the ritualised hand positions for working with clients were not part of the original practice. I felt like cheering - in fact I probably did. When I discovered that one of Taggart's Masters, Margaret Craig, lived less than five minutes from my son's school, the cheers got louder and I felt even more certain that this was the way forward for me. When I met Margaret the last piece of the jigsaw fell into place. It was as though I had known her forever.

The weekend attunement itself was blissful. The energy flow and shared experience of the four gathered together with Margaret was extraordinary. I loved it and I knew that there had been a space created in my life for something new and extraordinary to flow in. Those familiar with the concepts of the Hero's Journey know that as soon as you set your foot upon the path, challenges arise to test you. It is part of the strengthening and clearing process. It can also be very tough going!

Like many people who are naturally intuitive, there is a struggle to live in the "real world" or to balance the call of the inner world with the necessities of the external world, like eating, sleeping, keeping house, earning a living. Since childhood, I have been inclined to "time slip", my name for drifting off into some kind of inner space which always seemed a more enchanting place to dwell than in real time. I have achieved much in my life but I always knew that it could have been much more. I always danced away from the the idea and practice of self-discipline; it seemed so austere and in truth to me, soulless, redolent with the stories of my Catholic youth of martyrs, self-flagellation and other cruel and unusual practices.

It has taken a long time and a quite a helter skelter journey for me to wake up fully to the truth of mastery. Like all great truths it is incredibly simple when you finally see it clearly. Mastery is loving it all. Mastery is doing what needs to be done lovingly, reverently, joyfully, finding the bliss in each simple action of every day. It is not self- discipline; it is self-love. It requires no whips, no hair shirts, no painful self-immolation on the altar of self-sacrifice. It is not the dour dark dungeons of the enclosed orders of nuns I grew up in fear of having a calling to. It is the instrument of freedom, of joyful liberation. It is not the tedium of the mundane; it is the sheer magic of being fully, lovingly present to the active meditation that is the every day practice of everything we do.

For years I fought housework as if it were a demon which would consume me, drain my spirit and render me a brain dead housewife, barefoot and chained to the kitchen sink. For years, I not only didn't "sweat the small stuff", I blanked it out, ignored it and plain didn't do it until it grew from little things into great big things like chronic procrastination, chronic untidiness, chronic over-weight and physical inactivity. I became an expert at crisis management but it was me who engineered the crises by failing to stay in the present moment and do what needed to be done.

It has taken a very long time but now I know that the truth of living a life of mastery is to see clearly that living fully in the moment is to do all things with a loving reverence and quiet joy - or even a noisy, rip-roaring ecstatic joy, even the dirty dishes that your husband didn't wash the night before. No resentment, no bad temper, no "this is his job". Do it lovingly with gratitude in your heart that you have feet to stand on by that sink, hands to sink into the hot suds, the money to buy the detergent, a husband and son to wash up after, a kitchen to wash up in, a roof over your head. Do it with the recognition that life is a very precious gift and you are so lucky to have all that you have.

Don't "sweat the small stuff". Love it. That way true freedom lies.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Note to an Australian friend
It is icy cold over here with the first real bite of winter hitting across the country. We have had a little snow but nothing serious. The southern part of England seems to have been hit harder than Scotland.

Such strange white flakes do not enter the world of the Western Australian as he sits in the air conditioned cool of his castle. I am unsure if I could ever get used to the absence of the distinctive flavours of the passing of each season. They provide such luscious sensory punctuation marks in the passage of each year. With global warming, we may even lose that here, so I am going to luxuriate and appreciate while we have it.

Now, I must start my working day. It is the tax return time again - one seasonal event that I would happily do without. Then again there is a feeling of satisfaction and relief once it is all done and the send button is pressed on the on-line forms. It is a bit like sticking your finger in a socket, painful and shocking while it is connected, but oh, the relief, once it stops. (This trick must not be carried out at home and adults must be under the supervision of a responsible child while reading this).

So no more procrastination. Render unto Caesar and Gordon Brown, that which belongs to .... well, me actually! I shall imagine my hard earned money pouring into the homes of the empoverished, feeding starving children, bringing education to the masses, making a positive difference to the world. Yes, that is so much more comforting than knowing it is killing people in Iraq, paying the salaries of incompetent Home Office management who cannot even keep their filing up to date and supporting the life styles of politicians who want to award themselves a 60% increase in salary when low paid government workers like my husband are being told to settle for less than the rate of inflation.
Ah well, Don Quixote rides again; windmills to the left of me, windmills to the right of me; into the valley of a million windmills rides the lone ranter! Damn, my eternal optimism is taking over and I feel a gratitude list coming on. In spite of the best endeavours of government, I have so much more than I actually need; I just wish that what I give as a citizen would be more effectively distributed so it does some good in the world but I would willingly settle for the knowledge that it is at the very least doing no harm.