Teachings on Mindfulness & Meditation through Inspirational Short Stories & Motivational Quotes from a real travelling Vanlife Monk affiliated to No Tribe, Religion or Society always searching for Spiritual Enlightenment
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” Aristotle
Aristotle 384 – 322BC
An Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. Along with Plato he is credited with being the father of western philosophy. His philosophies and theory’s, so vast and inclusive, that his contribution to western knowledge, philosophy and physical science has profoundly shaped the very world we know today.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him” Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968
Was an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist becoming the most central figure in the American civil rights movement from 1954 until his assassination in 1968. An advocate of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent approach to change he was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. Most famously remembered for his “I have a dream” speech. In his later life he was to voice his concerns on poverty and the Vietnam war. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded after his death both the presidential medal of freedom and the congressional gold medal. Thousands of streets have been named and renamed after him and the Martin Luther King Day is observed as a public holiday every third Monday of January each year.
“Count your age by friends, not years, count your life by smiles not tears” John Lennon
John Lennon 1940 – 1980
An English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist famously co-founding the Beatles, the most successful band in commercial history. After the Beatles split in the 1970’s John Lennon pursued a solo career. Moving from London to Manhattan in 1971 he was to criticise the Vietnam war and in doing so caused a lengthy battle with the Nixon administration for deportation proceedings. He removed himself from the spotlight and media gaze in 1975 to raise his child. He re-appeared again in 1980 with the release of a new album and was assassinated only the weeks later.
“A single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world” Leo Buscaglia
Leo Buscaglia 1924 – 1998
Was an American author and motivational speaker, born in America to an Italian immigrant family, he would spend his early years growing up in Italy before returning to the US for schooling. After graduation Buscaglia joined the US Navy and participated in the Second World War. After realise from duties he returned to studying and entered the university of Southern California. After successfully gaining three degrees he was eventually employed as a professor. It was hear that a profound incident happened which made him question the human condition and the meaning of life, he then went on to set up a non-credited class entitled Love 1A, becoming the basis for his much loved 1972 book ‘Love’
“Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix 1942 – 1970
American rock guitarists, singer and songwriter developing his own unique style often imitated today. His mainstream career was short, only lasting a mere four years, however the impact Jimi Hendrix has had on popular music is second to none. Considered to be the greatest and most influential electric guitarist in history.
The seven wonders of life is an idea I had as a Buddhist monk in northern Thailand, it was a way to try and get the lay people, usually foreign visiting tourists, to realise that there life was a wonderful and amazing life filled with wonders equal as those of the 7 wonders of the world. The seven wonders of life is a simple and quick exercise that can be done in just a few minutes but is more beneficial to spend some time pondering and exploring your very own seven wonders.
Sometimes it’s easy to take life for granted, sometimes there seems so much going in in our lives that we forget to really appreciate what we already have. Our lives no matter how stressful and hectic should never be taken for granted and in this ever faster pace of life it’s more important than ever to take a moment and realise that we have some real joy and happiness in our lives.
There are some obvious real benefits to this idea, and if you really focus your attention on finding your very own seven wonders of life, I can promise, you will immediately start to feel good about life and may even start to smile, I’ve done this exercise many time with may types of people and it’s impossible to do this without feeling happiness and a sense of joy, and with regular practice you will really start to see a positive change in yourself.
As a help I have listed below my seven wonders of life, to give you inspiration or a place to start. I’ve been practicing this for many years now and still find it rewarding and gratifying. Over the course of time some of the wonders on my list have been updated and changed, and that itself I find fascinating.
1 Marley Moo
Marley is the name of the abandoned street dog I found in Portugal, sometimes affectionately known as Marley Moo, who i decided needed my love, in return I have been rewarded with the funniest, most mischievous, intelligent and a loyal companion I could have ever asked for, the pure unconditional love I receive every morning with a massive sloppy wet kiss all over my face is a magical moment filling me with such happiness and love. It also looks like Marley gets just as much out of it as me. This little guy has a gentle nature and loves walking and exploring, he doesn’t like the cold enjoys nothing better than a good snuggle under the blankets at bed time.
I find walking one of the most relaxing and peaceful ways to spend a few hours, walking with a companion such as a dog does make it even more enjoyable. The very art of walking is incredibly meditative and I find this very suitable to my mindset, very quickly I can still my mind and become at peace. Of course spending time in the great outdoors is wonderful form the exercise, Marley is a whippet cross with a lot of other things, and as such requires a lot of exercise, I average 11-12km a day every day. I’m very lucky I have the time and freedom to do this.
3 Nature and the countryside
The beauty of our planet still astonishes me every day, from the majesty of the mountains to the crashing stormy seas, the magical sunsets and sun rises, to the romantic rivers and streams, every drop of air we breath and every sight we see, what a place we really do live. The beauty of nature and the countryside happens to fall very nicely in with both my first two of walking and my Marley.
4 Having freedom in my life
Having the freedom I have at the moment is so amazing, it hasn’t always been like this and it won’t be like this for long but at the moment it is enabling me to do many wonderful things, it gives me time to meditate longer and deeper, walking my little Marley and spending time in the countryside my other three wonders of life. I consider myself to be incredible lucky at the moment to have this freedom and want to cherish it for as long as it may last.
I have deliberately left out family because unfortunately I don’t live near my family or in the same county, I have a brother I love dearly living in Malaysia and another in England, my folks also reside in England, I would love to see them more but are circumstances are as they are. Instead I have a few close friends who I cherish dearly, and enjoy there company immensely it fills me with such a joy and satisfaction to see the people I love succeed wether in love or life, to share there intimate moments in life is a special gift.
6 Cooking good food
This fits in very nicely with my last wonder, I love to cook for friends, I get such satisfaction in every aspect, from the preparation of the vegetables, making a mess of the kitchen as I go, the exploration of spices and taste, watching my friends faces to see if the faces it’s a triumph or disappointment. The conversations and silly games we play, great fun and real happiness.
7 Being creative
Generally I’m not very creative, I mean to say that I’m not that artistic, although a admit to having all the paints and brushes to create a whatever medium takes my fancy, I also can’t really hold a note on any instrument, or sing in tune, I do however love to write, I enjoy the challenge of the task and love the way it has an organic development from start to finish, a journey of discovery that all slowly comes together over a few days. I may not be a Shakespeare or a Wordsworth, I just love writing.
Now a call to Acton. I really would like for you to share with me your seven wonders of life.
Maybe it’s that first cup of coffee in the morning, owing your own business, painting or drawing, friends, family, freshly baked bread, driving your sports car, completing the crossword puzzle, playing cards, earring out, maybe going out on a date, your children, grandchildren, maybe it’s just making someone smile, or helping people, the hug you receive of you partner, running or playing sports, it could even be watching live music, or going to the cinema, maybe cuddling up on the sofa watching a movie or an open fire, how about being romantic or dressing smart, you may feel a great sense of happiness in looking good, eating ice cream, how about the weather feeling the sunshine on your skin or the rain on your face. There are so many more wonders in our lives it just takes a moment like today for you to realise yourself how wonderful your life truly is.
If you post them in the comments below gradually over time we will gather a fascinating insight into what really makes us all happy. And I know the results will surprise you all.
“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”
Thich Nhat Hanh 1926-present
A Vietnamese zen Buddhist monk and peace activist, nominated for the Nobel Peace prize by Martin Luther king jr. in 1967. Thay as he is affectionately known was refused entry into his native Vietnam also in 1967 and moved to France where he set up his plum village monastery, now home to over 150 monks and nuns. His numerous literary works include ‘peace in every step’ ‘the miracle of mindfulness’ and ‘old path white clouds’.
A truly extraordinary man who I personally had thought privilege to meet while at his plum village monastery, to sit in his presents was so calming, you didn’t feel nervous just completely loved. Thay has in recent times suffered from illness and has now been given permission I reside in his beloved Vietnam for his final days.
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”
Albert Einstein 1879-1955
German born theoretical physicist who developed amongst many others the theory of relativity. He is most loved by the public for the equation E=mc2, winner of the 1921 Nobel prize for his services to theoretical physics and the discovery of the photoelectric effect, a pivotal role in the development of quantum theory.
“Where there is love there is life”
Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948
Leader of the Indian independence movement against the British rule of the time. Most memorable for his non violence approach, leading his fellow countrymen on a 400km march to the salt pans of Dandi in protest of the British imposed salt tax. Living modestly Gandhi wore the traditional Indian dhoti which he hand spun on his charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food and undertook long fasts as a means of both self purification and political protest. October 2nd is Gandhi’s birthday and worldwide has become the international day of non violence, in India it is also a national holiday. A truly remarkable man.
“Peace comes from within, do not seek it without”
Gautama Buddha lived 2562 years ago as a monk and teacher of which Buddhism was founded. Born a prince of the Shakya clan in northern India, now Nepal. Dissatisfied with his life and that of the human condition he left the royal palace in search of truth. After many years practicing Medici W yoga and other meditation techniques of the time, Sitting ina Medici was state for prolonged periods of time Gautama discovered his middle way or the noble eightfold path as the way to enlightenment. For the remaining 45 years of his life the Buddha taught this path, established the Sangha and monastery’s through out his travels leaving behind a legacy that has endured millennium.
“Seize the day, and put the least possible trust in tomorrow”
First of all what does optimism mean? Optimism or optimistic originates from the Latin word ‘Optimus’ or ‘Optimum’ meaning ‘best’ or best thing’. Optimism as quoted by the Oxford English Dictionary reads, ‘hopefulness and confidence about the future of success of something’ This is a nice definition of optimism, someone who is confident and hopeful of their future. Wikipedia quotes optimism as ‘an inclination to put the most favourable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome’ another great example to describe the word optimism. Pessimism or pessimistic on the other hand is the evil twin of optimism, as in every aspect of life there must always be an opposite and pessimism plays this role beautifully. The definition of pessimism is an equal opposite to that of optimism, as quoted by the Oxford English Dictionary ‘a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe the worst will happen’ a lovely description I’m sure you will agree. Wikipedia describes pessimism or pessimistic as ‘a mental attitude in which an undesirable outcome is anticipated from a given situation’. A beautifully written explanation.
What is an example of optimism ?
A simple example would be the difference in reaction to any given situation. Our problem is a simple break down on your way to work. A pessimistic way of thinking is usually accompanied with anything from anger to rage, frustration and an almost end of the world feel. An optimistic person usually finds the advantage out of the situation, doesn’t panic knows it can be sorted and usually has patience and calmness.
Which is better optimism or pessimism ?
There have been hundreds of scientific studies done over the last few decades and have proven without a shadow of a doubt that an optimistic attitude is far more beneficial to the neurochemicals that the brain produces, many of which are associated with anti ageing properties. These exact nurochemicals that optimistic people produce more of than pessimists are the helper T-cells (‘the conductors’ of the immune system) they direct and orchestrate your immune system amplifying their responses and are now believed to be more important in immunity against viral infection and even some types of cancers. Optimistic people have a tendency to show higher, natural killer cells in the body called ‘cytotoxic cells’ these aid and help the T-cells in our bodies to kill and eliminate the cancerous cells. A pessimistic attitude will dramatically reduce these numbers of beneficial nuerochemicals and in many case we find pessimistic people have larger numbers of damaging neurochemicals associated with stresses, anxiety and disease.
A fascinating scientific insight that everyone should be made aware of, is the discovery that everything on this planet and our entire solar system as we know, from the smallest of creatures to a shooting star, when broken down to its basic building blocks everything is made up of the same light and energy. What’s more incredible is the fact that everywhere around us this light and energy exists, even in a vacuum this light and energy exists. This you may think is not such an eye opener. However when this knowledge was used in an experiment using a strand of the human DNA helix it left the scientific world speechless. The experiment used a strand of the human DNA helix and inserted it into a vacuum tube, the light and energy that is ever present started to line up and form around the DNA strand in replication. There was further amazement when the DNA strand was removed the scientists found that the energy stayed in exact replication as the strand of DNA it had just been in contact with. We truly do have an amazing impact on the world around us with our DNA having direct influence in the light and energy that is always ever present around us.
To further expand on this idea that we have incredible influence on the energy that’s every present, the United States Army did some increasingly experiments involving physically fit and healthy American soldiers. After taking samples of each subjects DNA, which was then placed in a Petra dish in another room, the soldiers were then subjected to all manner of visual stimuli to induce emotional responses, the results were astonishing. Every time the soldier had a response be it negative or positive one the DNA in the Petra dish, in a different room, would have the same and equal reaction. This experiment was reproduced again and again each time increasing the distance between subject and there DNA sample, each time the results were the same, and a distance of 50 miles was recorded with still a reaction form the DNA. Incredible as it may seem but we not only have effect on the light and energy around us but that effect depends on the era emotional state the mind is in. When you meet a friend you almost always exchange DNA with them in some way or another, a hand shake, hug or kiss will all pass DNA over to the other person. Now think of these two experiments and we should be able to tell what are friend is feeling by there DNA that is present on us. An interesting thought.
What does it mean to have optimism ?
As I’m sure you are well aware by now to having an optimistic outlook on life is not just scientifically proven but it is also highly beneficial to our minds and bodies. Being optimistic is seeing things in a less stressful manner, seeing the lighter side of life, enjoying the adventure rather than worrying what’s to come. Feeling happier and more content with life no matter where you are. And being more present in the moment. Wouldn’t you rather be optimistic?
Is optimism generic or learned ?
Optimism is a thought pattern that can be taught and learnt successfully, it may be true that they’re are some people born with a more optimistic outlook on life, these guys just have a head start. Optimism can be taught and learnt successfully, just like any other thought pattern, repetition, patience and kindness to yourself go a long way. The good news is that optimism can be implemented into your life almost instantly, the problem usually arises that we forget to implement the optimistic outlook we so promised ourselves. The most important thing to remember is that when something goes wrong or is out of our control, instead of just reacting on auto pilot, try to notice yourself in the situation and choose to think of something more optimistic and positive. Sounds easy? Right? I promise you it really is that easy, however we have all been conditioned into doing things automatically and don’t even notice how we have reacted to any given situation. And this is why it can seem a little difficult to begin with. When I was a Buddhist monk in rural Thailand we sometimes used to ride into town in the back of an open top Land Rover with those bars for a canvas roof. Every bump one of the monks would bang his head on one of those metal bars, not once did I hear a scream of pain or abusive language, every time it happened the monk would burst out laughing. Of course I thought it was strange, until I started to change my mindset and slowly I also found I could laugh at adversity, it even feels good.
I’m sure you are in complete agreement by now, that an optimistic way of life far out ways that of a pessimistic one. The question is how do you shift your unconscious reactions from being pessimistic into optimism? Techniques such as mindfulness and meditation help incredible reduce anxiety, pessimistic attitudes, depression and past traumas reshaping the very way you react to situations. Exercises designed to relieve emotional strain and anxiety will also help develop an inner optimistic quality.
Over the course of the next few weeks the team at 4enlightenment will be putting together some practical exercises to help challenge different mindsets and change people’s automatic response systems. We hope that you will join us as we progress this website into a social platform full of helpful, practical information and advice.
If you can’t wait, then why not try our Seven Wonders of Life exercise, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and bring optimism into your day immediately.