A Simple Ritual.
Above is a photo of my house buddha, as opposed to the garden buddha, in his Winter incarnation.
I do not personally practice or follow any religion, but I do enjoy, even need, certain rituals and I’ve always been drawn to the serene face of buddha statues and the philosophy that Buddha himself taught.
One of my rituals is to light candles around this buddha each evening, especially when the sun sets early. As each flame catches, I think of the people I love who have passed and my family and close friends, wishing them well and hoping they are safe.
Count Your Blessings.
Another daily routine and delight, is my gratitude practice.
I have been journaling for many years, usually while I drink a coffee after my morning walk with my dog Tess or if I’m going out early, I write before going to sleep. My writing routine, which will be the topic of a future article soon, is built around positive thoughts and future thinking. At the end of my writing, which only takes a few minutes a day, I list a few things that I am grateful for. For example, this morning I wrote:
Today, I am grateful for the sunshine and crunching frost on my walk, my good health and Mummy still being wit us.
As you can see my thoughts may wander from the very ordinary pleasure of a crisp winter morning walk, to matters of life and death.
This gratitude practice never fails to brighten the day ahead or send me to sleep with happy thoughts. And the daily repetition of gratitude does wonders for my moral and general attitude.
You may have heard of Neuroplasticity.
It is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual’s life and the aim of neuroplasticity, is to optimize the neural networks for both physical actions and thinking.
As neuroscientist (and professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) Richard Davidson says:
Whatever our thoughts go to, our brain is forming those same neural pathways whether we mean to or not. Neuroplasticity is neutral – junk in, junk out, good stuff in, good stuff out.
Unfortunately, as we know, our brain evolved to protect us from the threat of extinction, so it has a problem focused, negative bias and left to its own devices, you will most likely be unaware that you are “ rehearsing” whatever your attention rests on — problems and threats. Your mental activity is forming neural circuits that make it more likely you will return to that line of negative biased thought.
From Davidson’s The Center For Healthy Minds:
One of the best ways to make thankfulness a part of your life, say experts, is to keep a daily journal. Before you go to bed, jot down any positive experience you had that day, no matter how small.
But you can also do this via the practice of mindfulness, or a purposeful self-regulation of attention to stay in the moment. One of Davidson’s favourite mindfulness exercises cultivates gratefulness.
“Simply to bring to mind people that are in our lives from whom we have received some kind of help,” Davidson told CNN. “Bring them to mind and appreciate the care and support or whatever it might be that these individuals have provided.”
If you do that for one minute each morning and evening, he added, that sense of appreciation can broaden to others in your life and bolster optimism and better mental health.
As part of my thankfulness practice this year, I am going to write short texts, essays, about things that delight me, things that bring me joy in everyday life. I will share some of these texts here and perhaps make a book of them towards the end of the year.
This is the first that I wrote on January 1st …..
I love my husband’s hands for many reasons.
His hands are beautiful, his skin is darker than mine, always soft and warm.
He peels fruit for me to eat. This evening it was fat juicy lychees that he had bought from an upmarket grocer’s, called Panier Frais. Although, his nails are short, he dug into a dozen or more, rough brittle shells and popped the juicy white fruit into my mouth, whilst we were watching a series.
He does and has done this peeling of fruit for me for years, because he knows I don’t like getting juice on my fingers and bits of peel in my nails, which are also short and unvarnished like his.
I love that he will forego his own comfort, get his hands sticky and juicy, and his nails raw to feed me.
I delight in being fed by him.
This must be love.
If you have friends who would enjoy my journal, don’t hesitate to share this latest post by copying and pasting the address of this pageinto whatever message system you use and sending it along.
Let’s spread some joy.
Thank you for visiting.