Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chapel Of Love

I'm not a monarchist by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I've very often had a negative take on what the British royal family represents historically and in the present (in my eyes). That said, and putting aside the media hysteria, the upcoming wedding between Will and Kate does temper my view for now. For one thing, an event like this does provide a common (more cheerful) bond for the nation as a whole - something that's built out of the more positive than negative. And because I don't live in the UK these days it does fill me with a sense of pride in all that pomp and ceremony that the little island is still very good at throwing into a party. And, of course, we have to wish the happy twosome well - they are just another young couple starting new lives together, albeit very much in the public eye.

So, to Will and Kate, have a special day.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Living Years

I was reading yesterday about the passing of the world’s oldest man, Walter Breuning. He lived to 114 years of age and clearly witnessed a great deal of change on earth. There may not be any magic formula for how to live your life but he certainly had some really interesting things to say about the secret behind his longevity:

- Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")
- Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")
- Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")
- Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")
- A lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.
- He didn't regret anything, and he implored others to follow his philosophy.
- "Everybody says your mind is the most important thing about your body. Your mind and your body. You keep both busy, and by God you'll be here a long time."

This, I guess, represented his guiding principles or inner compass - what made him tick and what he was all about. I certainly can see value in a lot of what he said but it also made me think about what my own template for life is. The clearer it is to me and the more I embrace it, the more I'll be living a life that's true to me, however long that turns out to be. Thanks Walter.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The One And Only

On a personal level, I think it's important to keep on learning and finding ways to expand my mind. And on the basis of this I attended a 'Modern Buddhism' talk and meditation this evening. Hosting the session was a young and spritely fellow, draped in traditional Buddhist robes but clearly representing the new guard.

I've dipped in and out of Buddhist teachings, some parts of which I could apply more easily than others. But the thing that stuck in my mind tonight was a question that the Buddhist said to ask ourselves in times of stress, anger, upset, insecurity etc. The question to ask is, "Am I the only one?". Am I the only one out there stressed at the moment? The only one angry? The only one upset? The answer is clearly "no". But not everyone has as much insight or support or awareness to deal with it as you.

It was partly about perspective but also about seeing yourself as another human being and connecting with that. Problems cause havoc when you keep viewing them along narrow personal terms. The broader the perspective, the more chance for a bit of peace.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Hungry Like The Wolf

This time of year, every year I do a detox. I use the term detox loosely as I feel it's more a re-evaluation of the food and drink being consumed rather than some fashionable diet based on special pills or shakes. I went on a Tony Robbins personal development weekend about six years ago and learned the idea there, and have been implementing it twice a year ever since.

In a nutshell, it's no meat, dairy, caffeine, fried food, artificial sugars, alcohol and nicotine for anywhere between 10 and 20 days. In addition, over the course of the programme you're meant to do a minimum of 15 minutes cardio on at least 6 occasions. On top of that, you're supposed to avoid combining proteins with carbs and to have something like three-quarters of your meals based on fruit or veg - neither which I particularly adhere to as strictly these days. Finally, don't forget to have lots of water.

This detox is part of my calendar and friends and family have got used to it all. The first few times were definitely quite hard, as my diet was in hindsight pretty shocking back then and disciplining myself felt like a chore. But I realised even then that the body needs a rest from the toxins once and a while. The weight loss and the extra energy I found was quite dramatic, particularly as it took a while for me to want to fully go back to my old ways anyway.

My lifestyle has evolved - I drink less, don't smoke (well, rarely), hardly eat dairy, still have a sweet tooth but am more sensible, and generally eat more fruit and vegetables. I even have "no meat Mondays". Something that started out as a bit of an experiment has become part of me. I'm not perfect at it, and I know when I do fall off the wagon it can be with a mighty thud, but overall I think the process is adding more value to my life than taking away.