One Apple A Day #549 – Make it personal

Don’t take anything personally” is the second of the four agreements shared by Don Miguel Ruiz in his most famous book, The Four Agreements.

Ruiz reminds us that nothing other people do is because of us, but it is because of themselves. Using his words: “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.

This is a powerful reminder that would remove a lot of tension and stress from our life. We spend so much time worrying about the opinions of others. In doing so, we let those opinions shape our behaviours and, in the end, our lives.

As Ruiz wrote: “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.

What happens around me is not about me. It may impact my life, indeed, but it is not about me.

Though, in my experience, I’ve learned that only when I make something personal, I really give everything I got to make things happen.

So, my agreement becomes “Don’t take anything personally, but make everything personal.

Whatever happens around me, it is not about me, but it is part of me as much as I am part of it. So, I won’t take it personally, but I’ll make it personal infusing my whole being into my doing.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day 524 – courage and love

Courage: c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” [source]

If I ask you to place courage or love somewhere in the body, I believe that most of you would associate both of them with the heart. An organ that we don’t control and that relentlessly pumps life in our body.

There is a powerful connection between courage and love. They are both about surrendering to something bigger than ourselves.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this morning reflections. It all started with my morning Be The Change card that has the word “Courageousness” on it. The drawing that accompanies the word is a human being with a stream of energy flowing through his core.
And I thought that love is the same; a stream of energy flowing through all of us, connecting people.

So, maybe to be courageous is just to open up my heart so love can freely flow through.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire

One Apple A Day #510 – free, love, fear

I’ll be honest. This morning I couldn’t find anything to write about.
So, I started by looking back at the conversations I had in the last few days. Since I started this project, I discovered that there are always a lot of hidden nuggets in-between the words shared in every conversation.
Sometimes these gems kept lingering in my mind without me being aware of it.
So, this morning my mind went back to a conversation I had with two friends while we were walking back to our cars. We started by talking about “Free Solo”, the documentary about Alex Honnold climbing El Capitan without any ropes or other protective gears. We ended up talking about fear.
How can someone do something so risky?
I mean, fear would paralyze anyone else.
So, this morning I thought I could write about fear, but I couldn’t find the spark and 15 minutes ends quickly.
Luckily for me, I always have the Be The Change cards with me.
I pick the card “Power + Love”.
And I remember that a dear friend and mentor once told me that fear is the opposite of love. So I did a quick search, and this is the first quote I found.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire, a Brazilian expert on education.

I think the quote above closes perfectly the loop of my thinking this morning.
All the words I need for today are there; free, love, fear.

I love how things connected if we just stay with the flow.

Oh, I haven’t watched Free Solo yet, but I’ll do it soon.

One Apple A Day #504 – being the mountain

This morning I was reflecting on compassion, sympathy and empathy. And then I remembered this beautiful cartoon based on a talk given by Brené Brown on Empathy.

It’s less than 3 minutes so it won’t take much of your time, but she beautifully explains what empathy is.

“Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”

A few days ago I was reflecting with some brothers about compassion and empathy. We came out with this inspiring image of being the mountain in the storm. Being able to share the pain of others without hiding from it, feeling it as if it is mine. But at the same time, being centred as a mountain, offering a grounded presence where they can find peace.

One Apple A Day #502 – create space for stories

The last workshop that I co-facilitate was held inside a gorgeous farm. The whole area was a delight for the senses; the blooming cherry trees, the peacock welcoming us in the morning, the shiny green of the spring all over the fields.

The area is quite vast, so to have lunch we had to walk for about 10 minutes from the building where we were working to the restaurant. Midway on the walk, we passed by a vegetable garden where an old man was working. When he saw us, the old man stops what he was doing, and he asked us if we knew how to smell a plant. We were late for lunch, but earlier, at the beginning of the workshop, we made a commitment among ourselves to slow down.

So we stop and, like a group of curious kids, we naturally spread around him. We learned that to sense the scent of a plant the secret is being kind and loving.

But we learn a lot more than that.

Mario, that was his name, told us a personal story of how he discovered love holding his one years old niece in his arms.
It was a magical moment for him and for us.
And it happened because we intentionally slowed down and left space for the unexpected.

Every story needs someone willing to listen. We all have extraordinary stories to share but too often there is nobody there to listen to us.
Our life is to busy. There is always something we have to do and somewhere we have to be.

When we slow down, we can create space to welcome the stories of others.
And discover extraordinary people.

One Apple A Day #495 – we are one

“Everything in Life is Vibration” – Albert Einstein

Yesterday I wrote about our natural frequency.
This morning in my meditation, this idea of vibrations came back to me. I remember reading on Rupert Spira book, The Nature of Consciousness that “The body appears in the mind as a series of sensations and perceptions, and the mind is a vibration of awareness. As such, the body is not something solid made out of matter but a condensation or localisation of and in awareness.

If everything I experience – myself, others, the world – are different and unique modulations of the same awareness, then to hurt anyone or anything means to hurt myself.
I believe that when this awareness grows in us, then peace is the natural outcome. It is so simple, yet not easy.
To most of you, this thought may sound naive.
Though, I believe that only if we realize that we are one, a sustainable transformation will be possible.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #489 – it starts within

I just came back from a conference where incredible people and leaders discussed how to make the world a better place. Last week millions of students all over the world walked together on the streets to ask adults to do something instead of just talking. A terrorist attack in New Zealand reminded us of the fragility of peace.

Before all these big challenges it’s easy to feel small and powerless.
What can I do? What can a single person do?

One of the speakers at the conference said that “without peace at the individual level, we can’t create peace in the world“.
We cannot change the world without changing ourselves before.
So, the question shifts from how can we make the world better to how I can make myself better.
It all starts within.
A friend reminded me that the best gift I can give to the world is to fully express my potential.  And love.

This is what I can do.
This is what I will do.

One Apple A Day #468 – Choose love

About ten years or so ago, I was sitting in my grandma’s kitchen with her and her brother. They were sharing funny stories of their childhood when my great-uncle, out of the blue said “Fabio, you know what the problem is nowadays? There is not enough love in the world“.
I still remember vividly that moment.

A few years after, my girlfriend took me to a talk by Sujith Ravindran. At that time I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know that it would be the beginning of a life-changing friendship. I don’t remember all the details of that evening, but one sentence remained with me since that day.
Fear is the opposite of love.

This morning I picked a Be The Change card saying “Power + Love.”
I immediately recalled those two moments.

When I read the news, I realized that too often power is driven by fear and as such, it is used to divide us.

And I’m honest, sometimes I feel there is nothing, as an individual, that I can do.

I feel powerless.

But this card, this morning, reminded me that maybe, there is one thing I can do.

I can choose love.

“Love is the experience of that oneness of being” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day #456 – Love, and do whatever you want!

Who do I serve?
Last week, during a compelling conversation with a dear friend, this question came up for me.
This is not an easy question yet I feel it is a fundamental one.
We all live and work in this tension between our inner purpose, needs, desire and the purpose, needs and desire of the world outside.

At the beginning I thought that I should be able to sacrifice my own needs for a greater good; to move from ego to eco. But then I realised that the answer was coming from my desire of feeling one of the good ones.

My second stage of this self-inquiry brought me back to the self. To serve others, I must serve myself first. So, through serving myself, I will be able to serve others.

Still, I wasn’t satisfied. Why does it have to be either/or? What if it’s an and? What if I can serve both myself and others at the same time? But how is this possible? What does it mean when my purpose and the purpose of others is different? Should I dedicate myself only to causes that are aligned with my own needs and desires?

Something was missing so I kept exploring, and then I read this sentence from Rupert Spira: “If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong.

If I remove the boundaries between myself and others, that tension disappear. It’s no more about helping one or another. It’s about serving a higher vision. One the goes beyond this tension.

But how?

Rupert Spira wrote that “love is the experience of that oneness of being.

Then the way forward is through love. Or, as Saint Augustine said:

‘Love, and do whatever you want!’

One Apple A Day #449 – One love

“Our longing for love comes from the intuition of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira

What is the shape of love?
What is its form?
What objective qualities does it have?

Because, if we want to hold or own something, then that thing must have a form in time or space, some objective or material qualities.
Only when something can be objectively defined, we can perceive it as a separate entity. Something separated from ourselves and everything else. Something that we can observe.

But love?
Love has no shape.
Love is transparent and non-objective.
Love is formless.

How can you observe it? How can recognise it as different from something else? How can you say what it yours and what not?

So, if love is formless, then it can’t be divided into pieces.
The love I experience is the same love you experience.
Our experiences are different, but love is the same.
This is why our mind can not grasp it.
Our thoughts are objective and limited.
Words are limited.
So, we ask artists to describe something that cannot be explained but only felt.

We all are immersed in the same love.
But sometimes, layers or resistances and obstacles keep us away from feeling it.
The quest for love is not a journey to something.
It’s not about doing something.
It’s about sinking in our own being.

“The experience of love is precisely that experience, the experience of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira