A Journey of Inner Service

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Recently, I experienced something that changed my life (a bold statement I know).❣

I learnt how to be extra kind to myself!🙏
 
Thanks to 5 days with the amazing Kathryn Lovewell, Liz and Julia at Kindmindacademy.com, we were guided on a very special journey inwards! Self-love is such a powerful tool! I thought I was pretty kind to myself already, however the retreat really opened my eyes and heart to many extraordinary things...

💜 We are often busy serving other people's needs, but how often do we ask ourselves, “What do I need to best take care of myself right now?”. I now ask myself this daily!

🌸 Emotions are just visitors that come to the guest house of our hearts. We usually welcome happiness in with open arms, yet often slam the door on sadness, anger and fear, not wanting to hang out with them - they are really just coming to kindly deliver us a message! So let's see if we can be a little bit kinder to sadness and fear when they come knocking and perhaps even invite them in for a cup of tea and work things out together ☕️

👍Often we seek love and validation from others and don't always get it! The good news is... we can receive it from ourselves! Let's not wait around for others to give us what we need... let's be there for ourselves and have our own backs!

🌸 Be gentle with yourself, we put so much pressure on ourselves. Let's treat ourselves as a good friend, see ourselves as an important project worthy of time, energy, love and care...as we can't give from an empty cup! Believe me, I've tried... and I can safely say that it doesn't work!
So from now on I'm going to be extra extra extra kind to myself, so that I can continue to serve from a full cup, radiating love from inside out 💓

Thank you Kathryn, Liz and Julie for your amazing MSC labour of love, this stuff is so incredibly powerful and I'm soooo excited to be welcoming Kind Mind Academy to the Museum of Happiness in September to help spread the love further!!!❤️💛💖💜💙💚

 

Book Your Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive at the Museum starting on 1 September 2018.

Packages of Hope for the Homeless

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🙃 Everybody is often struggling with something, it's part of being human I guess... So it was nice to work through our inner struggles together and top-up on our love and kindness levels with meditation, gratitude and self-compassion and then give it out, spreading the love to others!

🙏 We feel really blessed for the gift of being placed in the UK's largest homeless hostel (by chance/luck/magic) and getting to work closely with formerly homeless people. They've inspired ideas of hope, support and encouragement that we'd love to share, so collectivity together we can support the homeless.

💙 Often we feel sad and conflicted when we pass homeless people, but can feel unsure how best to help and support... Which is completely understandable as nobody really guides us/suggests what to do.

🌸 The feedback yesterday was that everybody involved had felt called to support the homeless more, but it's tricky knowing where to start or what to do, which is totally understandable.

💡From speaking to the homeless, former homeless and yesterday's feedback, the reflections that were passed on we found really insightful...🤔

🙏 To simply stop, ask them their name, shake their hand and get down to their level helps them feel human again as that's one of their biggest inner struggles. Often they are battling not only with mental health challenges, but feelings of shame and worthlessness, so the more we can connect on a human-to-human level is really supportive.

❤️ Asking if they'd like anything to eat or drink helps to let them know somebody cares and can be better than giving money as you know the food and drink is going to good use.

💜 If you don't feel totally comfortable at first, that's totally natural. Going in pairs helps, but best to avoid big groups so it's not too overwhelming :-)

💛 Yesterday we went in pairs or 3's, asked them their name, shook their hand and said we have a gift bag for them with food, toiletries, underwear, socks, chocolate, energy bars, a book - and there was a card in there too :-)

💌 The card read 'Dear friend, Just to let you know that somebody cares. With love, a friend' along with other messages of hope, support, love and encouragement.

💜 Everybody involved yesterday felt moved to continue with the project in their local area and recommended sharing our experiences yesterday so others can do the same if they feel called too.

❤️ It's good to note that the responses from the homeless were mixed. The majority were overwhelmed with gratitude. One man cried and said he'd been so lonely and it was the first time anybody had stopped and asked his name in a really long time. He was grateful for the gift bag but mostly the conversation and human connection.

😊 A family of 6 refugees were really moved, which really touched our hearts. There were also people on their own that didn't know how to receive the gift and seemed a little confused - their sadness and suffering was hard to see.

🌺 Whatever the reactions, we found it helpful to let go of expectations, knowing our intentions were in the right place and hopefully if it made a difference to just one person, it was a worthwhile project.

💚 Being in the homeless hostel has opened our eyes and hearts to just how easy it is to become homeless. The majority have come from challenging upbringings with parents being unstable and suffering with poor mental health, drug or alcohol challenges. They too go on to have similar challenges, teamed with trauma from a challenging upbringing and go on to self-medicate and block out the pain as best they can (as there's little other support available), which then lead them to homelessness.

💖 The beautiful messages the former homeless have shared is: never let go of hope. The more we can all help them with that, show care as best we can when we pass by, even if we can't offer any food, drink or money, just to stop and show you care with a little chat, goes a really long way.

🌎 We don't always have to do big gestures to make a difference, it can be these small acts with great love that help to transform the world🙏

🙏 Deep gratitude to our ServiceSpace family for inspiring this project, to the former homeless people that fed into it giving us ideas, to everybody who donated items and for all the kindness and willingness people put into yesterday! It's a day we'll all remember and hold in our hearts forever!

The Oxygen Mask Dilemma: Self-ish, Self-less or Self-care?

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I’m going to come right out and say it. I don’t like the word selfish. I was catching up with a friend the other day and I mentioned I was taking some ‘me time’, to which he replied, "It's good to be selfish now and again." The judgement of people who identify and address their own needs, go for what they want, cancel appointments for good reason or take some ‘me time’ is certainly on my wish list for human evolution. While I do believe that society in general has progressed, at least to some degree, in terms of its compassion towards the individual (crying in public, for example, is not as frowned upon as it used to be), I feel we have a long way to go.

People Pleasing vs Self-Service

I spent the most part of my earlier life putting others first, and it felt great knowing that people felt they could rely on me to always be there to help. But when I grew more comfortable in my own skin and was more honest with myself, I discovered that this behaviour was not serving the most important person in my life – me! It was only after I had a couple of wake up calls that I realised I was being a people pleaser. I am incredibly grateful to have been surrounded by amazing people, who, while they may have noticed a change over the years, accepted me and my journey, and love me unconditionally.

As with most things in life, balance is key when it comes to service. It is beautifully noble and admirable to want to put others first, (for many parents or carers, of course, it is a daily necessity due to the vulnerability of dependents). But at what cost, in the long term? We are not meant to live life as martyrs, sacrificing all for the needs of others. I believe that every time we make an unnecessary sacrifice*, a part of the soul shrivels up. We are certainly here to help each other, I feel it in my bones (it's the warm feeling I get when I see or experience people working together for a higher good that serves either one of them, both or humanity as a whole), but as they say, charity begins at home, or as Rabbi Hillel put it, “If I am not for myself who will be for me?”.

Honouring Your Path

Your uniqueness is vital to the beauty and wonder of this world. Look at the probability of you actually making it past the sperm-egg roulette - 120 trillion to 1 according to the wonderfully creative George Hardwick, in his book Creative Uprising. I invite you to honour your unique journey by listening to your heart and taking care of your needs as much as possible. Balancing this with serving others takes practice, but we’ll get there.

It’s about time we stopped apologising for looking after ourselves. After all, if the airline crew members tell us to, then clearly it is essential! What do I mean? During every inflight safety demonstration, what do they tell you about helping others with their oxygen masks?

You first. Always you first. What a great metaphor for life. If you’re being told that if you do not help yourself first, you could DIE, then maybe there’s something in that!

So, if you hear someone being labelled as selfish, I invite you to be mindful. It might just be the courageous beginning of a journey of self-care.

With this in mind, my Gratitude in this moment is directed at my ability to learn past what other people think. I'm here after all, wearing my heart on my website!

Serving Others From a Full Cup

With time and practice I have learned that I cannot serve others if my own cup is empty, so I’ve been learning how to fill it. It does mean making some tough decisions sometimes – saying yes to yourself can mean saying no to someone else. Maybe it means choosing Yoga over helping someone because that is the only time Yoga is on in your free time. Maybe it means taking an extra break at work, because you know you won’t take lunch until 3 O’Clock and that you’ll be far more productive after some fresh air. Maybe it means speaking up about a heavy workload or stressful situation. Maybe it means seeing massages as healing, and therefore a necessity rather than luxury! Either way, when you replenish and nourish yourself, you may find that sharing your energy with others is more enjoyable and whole-hearted, because you’re not running on empty – there’s enough for everyone!

So how do you fill your cup?

 

With Gratitude

Sarit, Museum of Happiness Community Co-ordinator

World-Renowned Peace Activist Satish Kumar Blesses the Museum of Happiness

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Earlier this month, we were delighted to host our very first summer festival. Spreading love and kindness is at the heart of everything we do, so what better name for the festival than ‘Be the Love’, inspired by the wise words of Gandhi, the event ran over 3 days, each one with a different scope.
 

Day 1 - Be the Love You Wish to See in Your Community

We brought together families, children, elders who might otherwise be alone from North London Cares, animals (special appearance by Guide Dog puppies in training!) and everyone in between for a relaxing and fun-filled day exploring love in the community. Highlights included rib-tickling Laughter Yoga and the light-hearted educational touch of the School of Play, who delighted us with their fun and games. The icing on the mindful cake was a Loving-kindness Meditation, where we sent love to ourselves, and then out into our communities and the rest of the world!

 

Day 2 - Be the Love You Wish to See in Yourself

Our delightfully mindful Co-Founder, Shamash Alidina, started off the day with a Kindfulness talk and meditation, to get everyone into the right frame of mind for self-compassion. There was also mindful photography, a Hugging Your Demons Workshop, a talk entitled, “You Deserve To Love Your Life And Yourself” and finally a Self-Love Silent Disco!

It was inspiring to see people overcoming traumatic experiences and making friends with parts of themselves that they had struggled with in the past. The atmosphere was beautifully nurturing, and people felt moved to share personal experiences for the first time. The day truly heralded the need for filling your own cup, to enable caring for others, and how important this is for the world - the world needs each and every one of us to be able to share our unique gifts, and we can only do that if we take care of ourselves regularly!
 

Day 3 - Be the Love you Wish to See in the World

Having shown love to ourselves, and to our communities, it was time to spread love out into the world. The day began with nature games in Regents Park, where we connected with nature and came to appreciate that we aren’t separate from it, but we are in fact an integral part of it! The more we connect with nature, the more we can connect with ourselves! There was an Art for Relaxation workshop and a co-creation Rapping Workshop which showed us that kindness can be spread in so many creative ways.

We were thrilled to have the uplifting Satish Kumar give a talk on ‘Being the Love You Want to see in the World’. He had travelled all the way from Devon for only an hour - a real example of service to humanity. We were really moved by his words, especially the piece he wrote entitled ‘Love is All’. The festival ended with beautiful immersive sound bath, followed by a Loving-kindness Meditation.

It was so heartwarming to see smiling faces, sharing and caring, and we would like to thank everyone who brought their energy for helping to cultivate more love, peace and happiness in yourselves. In doing so you’ve shared it with our communities and it will spread out into the world like a great big snowball of love! Thank You!

Written by the lovely Sarit Gafan, Museum of Happiness Community Coordinator.

Love Is All

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If I have all faith to move Mountains but have no love, I am nothing - Corinthians

Life is a landscape of love and love is the celebration of life. Love is the means and love is the end. Love is our way and it is our destination. There is no way to love: love is the way and love is the goal. Love is a way of being. Love is a way of life.

When we are in love we are in love all the time. We are in love every moment. The moment we wake up, we fall in love with each other and with life itself. Falling in love is not a one day event, it is an everyday event. Love never ends. Love endures. We are spellbound by the mystery of love forever.  It’s love for the sake of loving. There is no other motivation. Love is not logic, love is pure magic. Love is pure poetry and pure pleasure.

Love is sacred. Love is unlimited and unconditional. Allow yourself to be swept away by the force of love.  True love is to love even when your beloved is less than perfect. It is easy to love someone who is good and perfect. But true love is to love even those who may not be so good. To love is to be free from criticizing, complaining and comparing. To practice universal love is to recognize that those who behave badly do so because they have not been loved. WH Auden goes even further when he says that: “Those to whom evil is done do evil in return.”

When Christ said “Love your enemy”, he did not say it lightly. He was serious. He believed that “Amor Vincit Omnia”, love conquers all. By love, enemy becomes friend. Love keeps no record of wrong doings. Love is not a path for the faint-hearted. Love requires courage, courage to turn the other cheek. To love is to be brave. Sing the song of love and all your worries and miseries will evaporate! Live in the ecstasy of love.  Then you will be sustained by love.

Love is the acceptance of oneself as one is, and acceptance of the other as the other is. Acceptance without expectation, without judgement and without qualification.  Love, free of expectations, encounters no disappointment. Love is to accept bitter with sweet, dark with light, pain with pleasure, all with equanimity. The moment we bring love into our hearts, we transform illusion into imagination, and duality into unity. We transcend from likes and dislikes and enter into the celebration of life as it is. When we drink the sweet nectar of love, there is a transformation. As Jalal ud-Din Rumi, the Sufi poet, said,

By love, the bitter becomes sweet;
By love, copper becomes gold;
By love, the dregs become clear;
By love, pain becomes healing.
This is the transformative power of love.

To love is to see god, because god is love and love is god.  To mystics and Sufi poets god appears as the beloved and the beloved as god. Love is the greatest religion on earth. Love is the mother of all virtues; peace and compassion, generosity and humility are born from love. Love is majestic and magnificent. Where there is love, there is hope. Love and rejoice.

Where do we start our journey of love? We start with ourselves. Christ said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” The word ‘yourself’ is the key.  As you love yourself, love others. The ‘other’ is only an extension of yourself. Loving your ‘self’ is not selfish! If you cannot love yourself, how can you love someone else, and why should you expect someone else to love you?

Accepting yourself as you are and loving yourself for being who you are is a prerequisite for loving others as they are and who they are. We are made of each other.

Lovers take no offence and give no offence. Lovers take no enemies, make no enemies and have no enemies. Animosity is a consequence of hate and friendship is the consequence of love. As bees love flowers and produce honey, lovers love each other and produce happiness. Love is the purpose of life and through love we find the meaning of life.

To live is to love and to love is to risk, to risk being hurt, to risk the possibility of not being loved in return. Do not wish to have a lover, simply be a lover. Having a lover is a result of being a lover.

Love awakens the soul, love nourishes the heart, love brings joy to our lives. Love is the most beautiful mantra of the mind.  The balm of love heals all wounds, the wounds of anger and anxiety, the wounds of fear and resentment.

Love of yourself, love of your beloved, love of people and love of Nature is a continuum. We need to be kind to ourselves and to all others so that no one needs to be subjected to suffering and everyone can experience the joy of love and drink the nectar of love.

Love is as natural to us as breathing. Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against love.”

This all-embracing love manifests through many forms such as philology (love of learning), philosophy (love of wisdom), and philanthropy (love of people). More intimately we experience erotic love. How beautiful it is to fall in love and be in the embrace of one’s beloved! But falling in love is not an event taking place only once in a lifetime. If we want, we can and we should fall in love every day. Falling in love is a miracle. We are born thanks to the act of making love. Everyone is a love child. There is no original sin; only original love.

Poets, artists and mystics experience the ecstasy of romantic love physically, emotionally, imaginatively and spiritually. Romantic poetry and art celebrate our heart connections with each other, with nature and with humans. Love takes us beyond reason, beyond intellect and beyond description. Love brings us to a place beyond right and wrong, a place of magnanimity and generosity. This is deep love of life. All we need is love because love is everything. Love is the answer. What is your question?


 

Satish Kumar