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Let's Be Kind to Ourselves

WRIO RUSSELL believes we will be happier if we are kinder to ourselves. We human beings are truly amazing. In spite of hundreds of years of wondrous scientific and technological discovery and literally millions of years of evolution, we still haven't learned to be kind to ourselves. We persist in beating ourselves up in one way or another almost every day of our lives through what we say or do or think. In spite of our knowledge and learning, we still have an uncanny ability to create suffering for ourselves. And when we create it for ourselves we often create it for others as well. How extraordinary we are!

Yet, we are also amazing in another way. For a start, we are a truly beautiful species of being and, if you think about it, we function in a most profound and wonderful way. Beyond that, each one of us houses the divine presence within us although too often we fail to recognise it. Yes, we're loving and lovable beings. And if we can embrace that thought, then we can start to think of ways in which we can be kinder to ourselves. It will take some effort and may even mean changing the habits of a lifetime. However, why not if it's going to make us happier?

The first thing we have to confront are our fears and we all have those in one form or another. Sad to say, they've become a part of our conditioning. We're afraid of making a fool of ourselves, of losing our job, of getting ill, of not having enough money, of competition, even of upsetting our loved one. Oh dear, so many things to be afraid of. Why can't we just accept things as they are and be done with it. What is, is. There's nothing more… unless we give in to our confrontational ego which always wants to resist this or that. It tries to individualise us by creating a separateness from others instead of us accepting that we are all part of the one humanity and that everything we do affects both ourselves and others. No, we won't make a fool of ourselves; if we lose our job we'll create ourselves another one; we won't get ill if we keep ourselves well (but we might if we worry too much!); we'll always have enough food and a roof over our heads; we can cooperate instead of competing; if our love is true all can be forgiven. Yes, there is another way at looking at any situation that causes us anxiety, a way that changes our perception of how life can be and makes us realise the value of acceptance of what is.

Part of our problem is that we cannot accept that life is about change. There is no security, except our own tranquillity of mind, because nothing stays the same. Not even us. After all, within three days our eyes have a completely new set of cells and within six months our whole body is changed. The trouble is, we feel we must strive for this and that and so we suffer from fear and strain. Surely, it is better to ease up a bit and have a better balance in our lives and allow ourselves to evolve rather than putting ourselves into the straitjacket of a static existence. Let's go and watch the river flow and so see how better to live our lives. Life is wonderful, really, a great adventure in which nothing can be foretold.

Sometimes we get ourselves uptight about competition in our business and it makes us feel threatened. The ego thrives on competition as it creates the separate self… me against him, I'm going to win. Yet our true self knows that there is no separateness. It's an illusion. Both ancient Buddhism and modern physics demonstrate that. There is an essential oneness that unites us all and if we want to find peace of mind maybe we should be aiming at cooperation rather than competition, of working in harmony with others rather than against them. That is the natural order of things. All we need to do is our best, to allow ourselves to be free to create with all our ability and a smile on our face. Then we will be contented. But we won't do that if we're stressed and strained under the pressures of competition as that causes us to strive. In that case we're not being kind to ourselves; we're giving in to our egos.

The trouble is, very often we have this obsession about working. It's our modern day culture. How many men die soon after retiring from their jobs, because they cannot conceive of a life without work? Their whole working life has been out of balance… work, work and work. What has happened to living? Now, more and more people are realising that work is not the be-all and end-all of life. There's more to life than that. Yes, we need income and money to live but we also need to keep in touch with who we are as human beings. We need to spend time with our families and loved ones, we need to commune with nature, we need to potter and use our creative talents for pleasure. Life needs to be balanced and then we can find peace and harmony.

Healthwise, we can be very unkind to ourselves, can't we, both in eating and drinking wrong things and in not keeping our bodies in good shape. All this damaging can accumulate until we make ourselves ill. If we eat and drink sensibly and exercise in a moderate and pleasurable way, then we will feel that glow of well-being which comes from having our physical being well-tuned. It is a wonderful feeling, a feeling that says ‘I am just as I should be'. And what is sensible eating? Usually, balanced eating and, if we listen to our insides, they have an uncanny way of telling us what they really need. Yet, too often we just listen to our taste buds which drive us to the greedy option (the chocolate, the sugar, the processed food, the burger, the alcohol) and even to binge eating which is not what we need at all. So, if we're kind to our bodies, they'll be kind to us.

No man is an island; we need relationships. Yet how often in our relationships do we act as if we are an island… me and her, them and us. Even with the person we love most we sometimes forget the unity of our being and we just look at some issue from our own perspective… and then, oh dear, not another row! And rows are so stressful. All because our little ego is saying "I want to confront her little ego because I am right and I must put myself first". We don't truly listen to the other person and, even worse, sometimes we don't have the courage to admit when we're wrong. But there's nothing wrong with being wrong. We're human, that's okay. And in all of this we are being unkind to ourselves. If we truly love someone, we are deeply concerned about their spiritual well-being and we learn to put our ego to one side and work from our own true being. That way lies harmony and joy. Of course, we will be tested time and again but that's all part of the adventure of life. The way to be kind to ourselves is to remain open to every issue and allow the free flow of ideas to find its own solution. Harmony in relationships is a precious jewel which is worth the cultivating.

And money! Well, there's nothing wrong with money as long as we only see it as a means of exchange. The danger comes when we focus on accumulating as much of it as we can, for its own sake. What on earth for? Many things we buy with it we don't really need. What we do need, though, if we are to be happy, is to spend our time being creative and fulfilling our talents. In that way, our work becomes a joy and our income becomes a happy by-product of our fulfillment. The money takes care of itself.

Today is the best day to start. We should all make a resolution to be gentler and kinder to ourselves. Then everybody will benefit. What fun! I'm certainly going to give it a go. Let me know about your progress.

Wrio Russell will be teaching courses in Usui Reiki Healing in Chiang Mai.


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