Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Enlightened One.

What is Buddhism? Do only Asian people follow the Buddha? Do Buddhists pray? Is Buddhism a religion?

Buddhism, as I have recently discovered, is so simple, yet so complex. The steps in which you practise Buddhism are very simple indeed, once you know what they are of course. Once you delve deeper in to these steps you find all sorts of complexities that deepen the Buddhist path.

I was born in to a Christian/Catholic family by title but atheist by faith. I was Christened which by the way, I didn't choose - nor do I remember. When I was old enough I joined the 'Brownies' which was held at the church and we attended the church on Sundays, although I was never sure what to believe. I think that my attendance of the Brownie group was more to do with the different adventures that we went on and the friends that I made whilst attending.

Growing up I always felt interested in Religion and during my GCSE's I picked to take Double Religious Studies. Maybe I was always interested in learning about the different faiths because I was unsure which faith I would like to follow or live my life by? Maybe I just really liked the teaching style of our RS teacher?

I remember being taught about Buddhism during our classes and never fully understanding it, we were never taught about the Buddhist path, The Four Noble Truths or The Noble Eightfold Path. We were mainly taught that Buddhist monks meditate and live in the East.

Every now and again throughout my journey after school I have looked on the Internet to find out what I can about Buddhism, now let me tell you - don't believe everything Google tells you! I had a strong belief that the Buddha said 'if you never crave or desire anything you can never be disappointed, in which case - you will never suffer'. My uneducated and unwise mind couldn't believe that Buddhism was that simple! Well I wasn't wrong when I was confused by this.

I recently started reading a book called 'Buddhism for Beginners' - By Thubten Chodren. It was a very nice book to read to start me off on what Buddhism was about but I didn't feel that it went in to complexities enough.

On an hour long trip to Foyle's bookstore I found a book called 'the heart of the buddha's teachings' - By Thich Nhat Hanh (who I believe to be a very famous Buddhist monk and teacher).
I strongly recommend this book to everybody who enjoys reading, not only if you are interested in Buddhism but if you feel that there is something missing from your life, if you need to find true happiness and inner peace.
Not only does Thich Nhat Hanh explain Buddhism in a simple yet profound way - it all makes sense. Whilst reading his book I honestly wondered why everyone in the world does not follow the Buddhist faith? There are no rules to follow, there is no God to serve, Buddhism is about controlling oneself and training your own mind before pointing the finger elsewhere, Buddhism is about Mindfulness.

Being Mindful in everything you do, thinking before you act and having peace within yourself before blaming others for your suffering. It makes sense, if people around the world focused on making their own life happier and creating a happier space for the people that they love, then the world would be a much happier place for all of us. If we were taught to give to others instead of taking away and getting what we want - the world would be a happier place.

Particularly lately with such anger and hate around the world, terror attacks and murder are happening more and more around the world than ever. Maybe we should be trying to help the people that want to kill, help them find peace with the world instead of hating on an entire race/religion just because the media tells us that's who it was. Being a Muslim doesn't make someone a murderer, being a Christian doesn't make someone boring, and being Jewish doesn't make someone rich. The world has so many labels and so many stereotypes that it is hard not believe that all of the people that belong to certain community are the same.

In 'the heart of the buddha's teaching' Thubten Chodren writes about how we need to erase the labels that we have placed on things in the world and realise that we are all individual. He teaches us that our perceptions can sometimes defy our rationality. When we perceive something the wrong way, it can cause us to suffer, we have to stop jumping to conclusions and judging what is in front of us before we decide on its worth.

I may not be completely correct in the way that I have described the Buddhas teachings, but I do know that since reading the book and practising being Mindful, I have felt much inner peace and much happiness. Meditation is a big part of the Buddhas teaching and when I first tried Meditation I realised how there had been a massive chunk missing from my life. Meditation helps you to relax, and be mindful, it helps you to accept being angry and hurt, and it helps you to move forward and be at peace with yourself.

Even if you don't feel like you need to, just have a read of the book and see how it can change your life for the better.

Finding peace and happiness is the ultimate goal of most human beings, you can find it using the Buddas teaching. You don't have to become Buddha and you don't have to make many changes, its the smallest change s that see the biggest results.

Find your inner peace, find your inner Buddha.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year, Old Me - Standard End of Year Review of my Life in 2014.

As 2014 is closing down on us fast and 2015 is approaching there are a few things I would like to say to myself and actually share with you. Maybe as you read the things I write you can reflect on your own year and see if you really made it count.

Did you really have an amazing 2014? Did you accomplish all that you hoped for? What are your goals for 2015?

Every New Years Eve I say how amazing the year has been and how much fun I have had, and every year I believe it when I say it. I don't say it because I think it's the right thing to say, or it's because it's what everyone else seems to be saying, I say it because I am truly grateful for life and the chances I have been given.

New Year, New Me. Why does everyone feel the need to say they're going to change just because the date has?! The numbers on the end of the date don't change you - you change yourself. Don't make a 2015 a year to change you, make it a year to develop, a year to better yourself and the way you live. Make 2015 a positive year.

2014 has been a year of huge development for me. I feel as if I finally found myself, I found true happiness. When I started this Blog, I wanted it to inspire people and to encourage people with broken hearts that life goes on, life gets better and most of all - you can be happy again. Did I honestly believe what I was writing when I said you can be happy again? Yes. Was I honestly happy when I wrote that? No.

I believed that there was happiness somewhere along the road, and I knew I would get there eventually but what I didn't know is that I wasn't ever going to be at the destination of happiness - I had to ride the happiness wave. Yes I said it - the happiness wave. I'm not really sure what that is but I know it's the best way to describe how I feel at the moment. Throughout the day when I'm alone, when I'm caught in the 'Now' moment, I just smile to myself and appreciate everything I have and everything that I have become.

If you hadn't already noticed, I have started by changing my blog from 'heartbreaker' to 'daydreamer'. It's a change in me, I'm not a heartbreaker, well at least I hope I'm not. But I am a major day dreamer - I think in a day I am more likely to be somewhere else in my mind that in the room that I am sitting in. I dream of everything - from far away places, the people I want to meet, the things I want to learn and the way it will make me feel.

At the beginning of 2014 I felt further down in my own sadness that I had ever felt before, I wouldn't say I was depressed but then again - How hard is it to admit depression? I had never felt more lonely, my job was awful, I was still extremely broken hearted and didn't want to admit it.

On 15th January I finally cracked, I quit my job! I just quit, I didn't go back, I didn't even work out my notice. I left and I sent an email to my boss who by the way, one might refer to as a cousin of Hitler! She was awful and I felt like she was grinding me down until I had nothing left.

Was quitting my job the right thing to do?
For me, yes but I wouldn't advise it! I am lucky enough to have a large support network around me that would support me if I was unemployed long after the resources I had left in the bank ran out.

Luckily I was only out for 3 weeks before I was starting a new job with a corporate company for a lot more money than I was previously earning! I felt like I had won the lottery, not only had I got away from the one woman who was destroying my existence, I had landed myself a job with some good prospects! SCORE.

So there you have it, off to a bad start in 2014 and suddenly my life is turned around by changing one thing. Changing jobs is a daunting experience for some people, but I love the excitement of learning new company rules, day to day routines changing and meeting some new and exciting people.

What did this teach me? After a long history of having awful holiday blues when I came back from a week away and the buzz I got from changing my routine, changing my environment, meeting new people - it all made sense. The one thing I thought about more than ever was right in front of my nose and I just needed to grasp it!  Travelling, Exploring, Nomad - whatever you like to refer to it as. Living out of a backpack, wearing the same clothes for weeks on end and meeting untold amount of people in a different city every month - My dream was finally in the palm of my hand.

My whole life I have wanted to travel the world, its been my biggest dream. I haven't ever really wanted to have a career, I wanted my career title to be 'Explorer' but I have always thought it too expensive. My excuse was always that I can't afford it and I don't earn enough money to save. I now know what other people mean when they say that it annoys them and I can afford it. It's not that I couldn't afford it, it's that my priorities were wrong, if travelling the world was really my dream I would have to prioritise differently. And so I did. My priorities changed, I sold my brand new swanky car that I was coughing up £190 for each month and started saving more money than ever before and I set a date for October 2015.

During the first two months of saving I realised I didn't need heaps of money to get where I needed to be - so I moved my departure date forward to August 10th 2015. So that was it, my one way flight to the other side of the world on my own had been booked. It was real, I was really becoming who I wanted to be.

I think 2014 taught me a lot about happiness, I think we find true happiness when we fulfil our life long dreams. Everyone has different dreams in life and dreams change all the time.

When I was nine years old I dreamt of being the person in the swimming pool changing rooms that mopped the water in to the drain - please don't ask me why or how my life aspirations were this! I had so much more potential but I liked the way the water moved swiftly down the drain when it was moved by the mop!

I've had a few dreams since I've been growing up but none of which I feel were my own, I followed what other people dreamt of being. I did things because that's what my friends were doing, I never truly followed my heart, but 2014 taught me to never give up on chasing my dreams. They're only as far away as you put them.
I could have saved to travel the world years ago but many other things came along and became my priority, but now I have my priorities in order.

Never let anyone tell you that you can't achieve your dreams even if they feel a million miles away, don't be discouraged just shuffle a few things around in your life and see what you can create.

One other thing I have learnt is to cherish the moments you have, don't take life for granted. We were put on the earth for a reason, and no matter what that reason is (we may never know) we still need to reach our full potential.

I think it's so easy to get bogged down in to comparing who has the best 'stuff' but really life isn't about stuff. No one cares what dress you wore or what bag you have or if you wore your snapback at a rave but they will remember you at that rave. Humans are programmed to remember experience, to remember how something makes them feel. 'Stuff' only gives us temporary happiness, it never allows to be permanently happy because once we have the feeling is gone. Find some experience, live your life - don't waste 2015 on 'stuff'.

What have you learnt in 2014? What would you like to develop in 2015?

Everyone has a bucket list - and even when you think its not possible to be the person you want to be, you have to realise it is. Things don't come around to those who sit and wait - you have to work for it, you have to prioritise.

To wrap it up, I have had an amazing 2014 and these are the words to describe what I have learnt.
Happiness, forgiveness, appreciation, love, contentment, hard work, giving.

I look forward to having an unforgettable 2015 with the people that I love the most. I wish the most amount of happiness to everyone who reads my blog. And I find happiness in the fact that I forgive a lot of people of how they made me feel. I finally let go of the pain I have felt and I am moving on to something better than ever.

Happy New Year 2015. Continue chasing dreams.xx