One Apple A Day #687 – do you still have to?

I realised that the quality of my conversations improved lately.

All conversations, from the random ones at the grocery store to the daily exchanges having a meal.

Like yesterday at lunch, when I realised how many things we thought we had to do and all of a sudden, we can’t. And because we can’t do them, they don’t look as necessary and inevitable as we thought they were.

Yes, some are big things like going into the school or to the office to study and work. But mostly, this moment is an eye-opener on the many small things that make up our daily life.

I have to help that person. I know, I’m tired, but I have to.” or “I have to do that thing; otherwise nobody will do it and who knows what would happen.” 

How often I’ve heard people around me complaining like these. 

Now that person we thought we have to help is taking care of her or himself. That thing we had to do? Nobody doing it and nothing happened.

This is a unique opportunity to assess our routines, habits, and the list of things we thought we have to do and check what we can let go and what we want to keep. 

One Apple A Day #686 – my sanctuary

Sanctuary.

This word keeps coming back in my thoughts.

According to the dictionary, it is a “protection or a safe place, especially for someone or something being chased or hunted.”

This word also brings back memories of holy buildings, monasteries or churches where we used to go in symbolic pilgrimage when I was a kid.

My sanctuary is the place where I can detach from the mundane life and connect with my higher self. When I can listen to the universe – god, the field, the soul or however you call it – whispering. When I can ask the questions that have no answers.

In many fables, the sages live on top of a mountain. The medicine men use to go to the sacred mountain seeking answers. And religious people go to their temples.

What about now? Now that we are all locked within the wall of our houses. We can’t climb any mountains, we can’t sit in our temples. We can’t even walk out in nature. 

Yet, to me, having a sanctuary is vital. 

The environment is undoubtedly essential. Nothing opens up my mind as being in nature, being it the shore with the waves before me or the top of a mountain closer to the sky. But my sanctuary is most of all an inner state. So, I try to create my personal sanctuary every day.

I do it early in the morning, where everything is silent. I have a ritual, a sequence of steps I do every morning to get me to that place of full presence. 

My sanctuary.

Going there every morning, even if only for a few minutes, keeps me grounded.

One Apple A Day #679 – what windows are you keeping open?

For my research, I’ve been reading about neuroplasticity in the last days. Things like a study did a few years ago showing that interacting with our smartphones, it actually changes the way our thumbs and brain work together. Dr Ghosh, the author of the study, suggests that “that cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by personal digital technology.

More and more, we have proofs that the choice of where we put our attention, shapes who we are.

Two days ago I went to the supermarket. There was a heaviness in the air, affecting everybody. A few people moving quickly around the shelves, avoiding each other and not only physically. No eye contact, no smiles.

I talked to the lady at the till and she told me that nobody says hello or goodbye anymore. We are letting fear expand in our minds, hearts and souls. As a result, the space left for other feelings and emotions is shrinking. 

Then a dear friend sent me this powerful poem yesterday. 

The wine of divine Grace is limitless.

All limits come only

from the limitation of the cup.

Moonlight floods the whole sky

from horizon to horizon,

How much it can fill your room

depends on its windows.

Grant a great dignity, my friend,

to the cup of your life;

Love has designed it

to hold His eternal wine.

~ Rumi

The amount of love that can fill my room depends on its windows. 

I must remind myself to check every day what windows I’m keeping open. 

I must keep shut the one of fear, we all the negative news trying to flood in. And hold wide open the ones of love and connection.

One Apple A Day #674 – it’s all perfect

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.”

This is what Katsumoto says to Nathan Algren in a scene of “The Last Samurai”. 

The quest for perfection.

This scene came up for me yesterday in a conversation with my friend and mentor, Sujith. We were reflecting on how many things that happened in our lives in the last weeks were perfectly timed. As if they were part of an invisible but perfectly crafted plan.

That image came to my mind when I realise that the quest for perfection is not an outward hunt. It is, instead, a practice through which we learn to see the perfection in everything.

When we become aware that everything is perfect, then everything becomes an opportunity. We unleash infinite creativity and abundance.

Perfection then, it’s not a characteristic of something but rather an inner state. An elusive and fleeting one, indeed. 

That’s why the quest for perfection is a lifelong practice. But, as Katsumoto says, a worthy one.

At the end of the movie, when Katsumoto is dying, he looks a the cherry blossom floating around him, finally able to find that perfection.

“Perfect. They… are all… perfect…”

One Apple A Day #673 – conversations

These last days, I’ve been struggling with my rhythm, my practices and rituals. Been disciplined is way harder than it used to be only a few days ago.

I feel like a sailor, wandering in the middle of the ocean under a night sky without stars. All the cues I learned to read to understand where I am and where I am going, are not there anymore.

Even time has changed.

It flows differently.

As I wrote yesterday, it is what it is, and I can’t change this situation.

But I can change myself.

It is time to find new cues, to learn new ways to navigate through life.

One idea, in this period, when we are forced to keep distance between each other, is to nurture the connection with others.

I will fill up my sky with a new constellation made of conversations.