This year in Drum Circle we’re working our way through the seven Huna principles, as defined by Serge Kahili King in The Urban Shaman.
The principles provide guidance on how to improve your life through healing relationships between mind/body, humans/nature, matter/spirit. This is done by cultivating love, gratitude, and compassion to overcome negative fear driven emotions such as guilt, envy, and anger. Thus, releasing the power that fear has over you and freeing you to shape your life with joy.
Put simply, they’re another way of packaging universal truths that remind us how to be healthy and happy.
This month, we’re working with the first principle…
The world is what you think it is
So, is today the oldest you’ve ever been or the first day of the rest of your life? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? Or do you know that it’s refillable?
The world is neutral. It’s only through the filter of our thoughts that it becomes good or bad. Even quantum mechanics has shown that things can change based on how we choose to measure them.
Perception and consciousness make things true. Is the world scary or safe? Abundant or not enough? Are you healthy and happy?
We dream our lives into being using focus, imagination and intent. So why not dream something fabulous?
You might think it’s naive to walk around thinking things are good when so much is wrong with the world, but what’s the alternative? As I read recently, there’s no point worrying about things you can’t change, and no point worrying about things you can. When left with the choice to feel good or bad, feeling good seems obvious.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t - you’re probably right
The placebo effect has shown repeatedly that our mind can heal just as well as medication. Even in some studies when people knew they were taking a placebo.
Loving and kind thoughts benefit our health. Expressing gratitude is one of the most psychologically powerful ways to fight feelings of sadness, anger and depression. Five minutes a day has been shown to increase longevity 5-10%.
Confidence, determination, love, and forgiveness make us well and increase performance. When you perform an act of kindness, you strengthen your immune system, the other person's immune system, and anyone else who witnesses it.
But thoughts can also make us ill. Negative fear-based thoughts like worry, anger and resentment deplete our immune systems. Bad memories aren’t upsetting because of what happened, they’re upsetting because of what you think about what happened.
Be mindful of your thoughts, they are shaping your life
In The Four Agreements, Toltec teachings that overlap and complement the Huna principles beautifully, Don Miguel Ruiz explains that we’ve been domesticated. Raised in our tribes we mindlessly take on their thinking patterns. Both Huna and Toltec teachings encourage us to review our beliefs and question whether what we think is actually true. What made you think that way? When/where did you form that opinion? Is it still true for you?
Thoughts are our choice, with practice we can shift and control them. When people cut you off in traffic it’s no more personal than the wind changing direction. Don’t waste energy getting upset, use it as an opportunity to practice. Learn to laugh it off and your world, at least in your car, will be a happier place.
The world is what you think it is - and what you think is your choice. You decide.
Life, when you look at it, is pretty much a sequence of goodbyes. We say goodbye when relationships end, when people move away, when changing jobs, and when someone passes - often without notice. These things all happen pretty frequently so it's probably worth getting good at saying goodbye.
Another thing that's worth doing is getting plenty of hellos. Our Aunty, who turned 100 earlier this year, is full of life yet the longer she lives the more goodbyes she must inevitably make. What's her secret? I believe it's the hellos. Aunty still performs, playing piano at nursing homes for many much younger residents, providing her with a constant stream of hellos. Meeting new people, making friends with some but not all of them. She also has an ever increasing number of great grand children, and she knows them all.
Being too settled can make us think we can't say goodbye, just one more reason for avoiding change in our lives. But the saying when one door closes another opens applies to many situations, provided you're looking towards the new door not back at the closed one. Leaving an old job can sound scary, but starting a new job is exciting. Saying farewell to colleagues, family or friends feels sad, but meeting a whole new group of people is interesting. Being the one who stays, when someone else leaves is often more difficult than leaving and a strong support network, built through hellos, can really help.
Changing neighbourhoods can also feel quite daunting, and you don't always want to become instant best friends with your neighbours. But there are plenty of other people in the community you can connect with – at the local shops, the library, the gym or swimming centre. It doesn't take long to become a familiar face and begin to enjoy that sense of recognition again.
But the unexpected goodbyes, the sudden departure of a loved one, these are the most difficult. There's no warning, no chance to say how much they mean to you, to give them one last hug. However preparing for these offers you the most opportunity.
For those people you assume will always be there, that you sometimes take for granted, there will come a goodbye. That's just how life is, so consider that they next time you see them. Make the most of your time with them, be fully present (not distracted on your phone or by problems), tell them what you like or love about them. Make sure they know now how you feel and it's not left until you're farewelling them, lest you part without them knowing. After all, you don't know which one of you will be going first.
So make today a day that matters. Make some new hellos, or reach out to someone you already know and let them know how much they mean before it's time to say goodbye.
This Beatles clips can be a good reminder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rblYSKz_VnI
I lost track of time the other day. Not hours or minutes. I lost track of how far into June we were.
Having woken up in a bit of a funk, I tried to pinpoint what was making me feel the way I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to work - I’m loving my job at the moment, but I was a little resentful of how many hours I was about to spend indoors and I realised I was longing for more daylight.
Thinking we were still around mid month I chided myself for not appreciating the moment. ‘Never wish for time to pass’ rang through my mind - sage advice I received from a cab driver when I was around fifteen wishing to be going on twenty-one. It had the sound of timeless wisdom when he said it and it’s informed many of my decisions and brought me out of impatience and into the present on countless occasions. Yet here I was wishing for more daylight.
So I stopped myself and began mentally rattling off all the things I have to be grateful for as I continued to get myself out of the house and off to work. Taking in the sky, trees, and birdsong along the way; being thankful for our brilliant transport system and the patience of the bus drivers; before finally arriving at work ready to suck it up and get on with it.
Settling into my emails with a cup of tea, I looked at the subject of the first one and was delighted to see “Happy Solstice”. I glanced down to check the date which confirmed it was indeed June 21st and realised today was the solstice. The shortest day and longest night that signals the return of the sun when the days, however slowly, begin to lengthen.
Like the sun breaking through the darkness, my mood immediately brightened as I realised I wasn’t in a funk, my energy was simply in tune with the earth mother’s position in relation to the sun. We were at our greatest distance from that huge ball of energy and I could feel it.
Beaming with relief, I didn’t beat myself up for not knowing it was the solstice nor did I berate myself for not posting about it or organising a ceremony. Instead I relished feeling that I was in tune with creation and made a point of blocking out time to go for a long walk at lunch to soak up some rays and replenish myself with the sunshine I’d been lacking. I then began to pass on the happy solstice greeting to others, all sharing that same spark when they realised we were passing our darkest day.
Missing a planned celebration of the solstice didn’t mean missing out. It simply provided a more spontaneous opportunity to look on the bright side - literally! It busted me out of my funk and inspired me to spend some time contemplating how to make the most of the rest of winter.
How about you? How are you celebrating the return of the sun as we move into the colder weather? Long walks in the middle of the days, cook-ups with friends, or snuggling up with a good book?
I used to say a great way to assess what you want to do in life is to imagine what you’ll enjoy looking back on when you’re 80. But these days, as I hear of so many people spending hours binging on television, absorbed in playing computer games, or working in jobs they hate, I’ve decided a five year review and rewrite might be better.
By review I don’t mean wallowing in all that went wrong and getting bogged down in feeling like a victim about it, that’s not going to help anyone. Nor do I mean ticking off a big scorecard of achievements. The reason for the review is to reflect on how far you've come, how happy you’ve been, and to note the stand out things that you’d like to do more of or change.
Take a minute now and think back on the last five years. How much time did you spend doing what you love? What could you have done less of? If you’re not happy with what comes up then you’d better start to consider how you’re going to spend the next five years, or at the end you’ll have a whole decade you’re disappointed with.
Now, imagine yourself looking back five years from now. How do you feel? What memories did you create? Were you learning? Were you growing? Did you make safe plans and fearfully cling to the results, or did you try new things and then laugh at how differently they turned out compared to what you expected?
We all know life is about the journey, but if you never take the car out of the driveway you’re not going to see much. However, if you focus on a destination, head towards it and follow the signs along the way, you might end up where you wanted to. Or, you might end up somewhere different with more knowledge gained along the way. Or you just might end up somewhere too wonderful for you to have ever imagined.
Why not take ten minutes now to start driving your life? Grab a pen and paper, find a spot where you feel indulgently comfy, and sit and write as if it were five years from now. Write a review of how fabulous the last five years have been. Begin something like “It’s date, I’m in city/country, and have just finished/am about to start.... The last five years have been amazing because…”
Write about what you’ve learned about yourself and others and how you used that insight to shift areas of your life and mould it into something wonderful. Write the story you want to happen. Don’t waste another day waiting for something to change. Write yourself a future.
I was a little disappointed the other day when a friend from my writing course said she worked with creative people but that she wasn’t creative. I had to stop my instinct to reprimand her for using such negative self-talk.
Everyone is creative, it’s part of being human. When you plan your day, furnish your house, decide what to cook, or even think up an excuse you’re being creative.
I remember my first visit to the local leather craft store. Caught up in the moment, arms full with a pattern, leather, and tools, the store owner casually said (with good intent) ‘you’re only limited by your imagination’. It was enough to stop me in my tracks. I thought ‘I work in technology, I’m not creative’, so I returned everything to the shelves and went home empty handed. Fortunately, I eventually let go of that limiting belief and allowed myself to develop what’s now termed creative confidence.
You build your creative confidence by choosing small creative tasks, doing things you enjoy, to ensure success (which is about the creative experience, not the product). Your creativity also increases the more generous you are with it. Sharing or giving away ideas makes room for new ones, clinging to one idea through fear you won’t have another leads to blockages - you stop the energy flow.
Getting out there and playing and making mistakes, that’s how you create. Trial and error is part of the process, like learning to walk, or cook, or read.
Great musicians play music they don’t work it. That’s why I was unsettled by my friend’s comment. She’d already come up with an amazing concept for a story and stuck out the gruelling birth of her first draft, imagining new ideas all the time. She’d been playing and creating constantly and still she thought she wasn’t creative.
Everyone struggles with the creative process at some stage, but sitting with the uncertainty, giving yourself some headspace, and engaging in play will help you find the joy and inspiration again.
Everything we do is a creative choice. Every choice is an opportunity to create. You just need to trust in your creative spirit and give yourself the space to play.
But don’t just take my word for it…
I’ve been thinking about inspiration. Where it comes from and how you get it. Sure it can come from our heroes, the ones who devote their lives to something for the betterment for everyone. But it can also come from smaller acts, those less grand. LIke a young adult pushing back against peer pressure to follow their heart, or a neighbour helping with a meal or a bill, or my 81 year old mum who recently decided to become more independent.
Inspiration comes from action, not grand scale activities, but small things that make a difference to an individual, the community, or the environment. They come from upholding your personal code of honour to do what you think is right.
One of my small actions is to retrieve discarded plastic from gutters to save it from eventually ending up in our oceans, then I walk past a mound of litter and feel helpless wondering if there’s any point. The task seems so big and I wonder if my small actions can really make a difference. But what’s my choice? Do nothing? Usually I take a deep breath and try not to let others’ carelessness get to me. I tell myself there must be more going on in their lives that I don’t understand, too much for them to comprehend how their actions are impacting others.
However, other times at the beach when I’ve run to one end and begun my walk back with a plastic bag collecting rubbish, someone will smile, or say thank you, or even ask if they can add some rubbish to my bag. And on the best days, a stranger will see what I’m doing and join me.
Honouring my personal code of ethics has allowed them to recognise the same value in themselves. Have I inspired them? Perhaps. But they have inspired me to keep picking up bottles and caps, keep taking brightly coloured plastic straws away from disappointed seagulls, and keep rescuing plastic from gutters in an effort to lessen the impact on Mother Earth and her children.
Ironically inspiration also means to inhale - it’s literally a breath of fresh air, and having someone recognise my tiny effort is just that. The same way me watching someone else uphold their personal code to help others is inspiring.
So, how about starting the year with a breath of fresh air, by recognising who inspires you and acknowledging how you inspire others?
Having just come off a run of significant birthday parties and finishing with two of my own, I began to brace myself for the comedown unsure of whether I would float or crash. Catching up with so many family and friends and being the centre of attention for two consecutive weekends was lovely, but also put me a bit off balance.
I began to think of Michael Jackson, Prince, and countless other celebrities who shone so brightly yet ended up falling to drugs. I wondered if drugs had become their way of dealing with the come down that reality must have presented for them following each gig or tour.
Sadly it seems that in riding those highs they lost their connection to the physical world and their ability to ground themselves. This is not uncommon, many situations cause us to become ungrounded. Preparing for major events like weddings, work projects, moving house, performing, exams, or even Christmas can require intense mental focus. As the events draw closer they play over in our minds which can easily make us feel off balance or disconnected.
So how do we get grounded? By getting back into the physical. Exercise is a good way to pull you back into your body as your focus moves from mental to physical. Meditation can also work, by breathing in and out through your base chakra and imagining you are growing roots. Both of these techniques rely on you tuning into your physical senses, so why not tune in to as many as possible.
Watching last week’s supermoon provided a perfect opportunity. Sinking my feet into the sand, feeling the wind whipping at my skin, listening to the laughter of the kids super excited to be on the beach after dark, and gazing at that glorious moon as it lit up the clouds and sky engaged almost all my senses, levelling me and connecting me with the elements and my physical being. While this magical moment helped me to appreciate my human nature (great term - think about it), full moons and beaches aren’t always available.
Fortunately more accessible techniques are available and the next morning, savouring the smell, taste and texture of my first mango of the season, I could feel my connection with Mother Earth strengthening.
Grounding is about using your body to remember your connection to the earth. Knowing that you are part of creation, that your natural state is being and living in harmony and balance with the planet. Whatever societal commitments or experiences we undertake, we need to remember that the hairdo and heels is not us, but the ability to walk the earth and be nourished by her bounty is.
So as you head into the silly season here’s a few tips to help you stay grounded:
Grounding is a simple process of getting back to earth. I can’t think of a better place to be!