All posts by Sarah Alexander
“To turn a twist on an old saying, when the going gets tough, the hopeful keep going.” Rick Snyder
I am sure you have experienced a time when life, or a part of your life, seems like a long, dark tunnel with no light at the end of it. You are just in it. And there is nothing you can do. I have been in such a tunnel. Perhaps you have too. So, I thought it would be valuable to look at how to cultivate the essential psychological quality of hope when you are in that seeming darkness. Read More
Meditation, or stilling and focusing the mind, has many benefits for our physical and mental health. It reverses the physiological effects of stress and allows us to feel calmer, centred and relaxed. In our busy lives, full of technological overload, all this is very helpful to our long-term well-being.
In all aspects of life, and especially in business, we also need to be able to think clearly, even under stress, and make quick, effective decisions. We need to have insight and, at times, strategic foresight. We require the relationship skills to be both a team player and a visionary leader of both ourselves, and others. And we need the interaction capabilities to be able to get along with, and communicate to, many different types of people. So how can meditation help with all of these essential skills for life? Read More
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
I have noticed I have become a bit of a complainer in my middle age! Grumbling about the grey weather; the traffic congestion; the parking charges; the rising cost of things; higher interest rates; the unstable political and economic situation nationally and globally and the worldwide humanitarian, animal welfare and environmental crises. It seems that darker times are looming… and it is giving me a lot to moan about!
We all know that our response to any situation, good or bad, is our choice. We are the only ones causing our negative reaction, and we are the only ones who can change it. In situations we perceive as challenging though, it is easy to feel powerless and unable to do anything about our reactions. This belief in our powerlessness is a ‘victim’ mindset which we can fall into, almost without realising. Read More
‘To err is human. To forgive, divine’. Alexander Pope
Late summer every year I go on retreat for a week on The Isle of Wight. It gives me an opportunity to reflect, refocus and recharge my batteries. I spend my week alone walking in the beautiful countryside and along the deserted beaches of South West Wight, meditating, reading spiritual texts and writing my contemplations in my journal. I eat a light, raw food diet and have a daily Epsom Salts bath to help detoxify my body (Epsom Salts baths are said to draw out toxins and have many health benefits).
Every year I have a specific focus for the week’s retreat. This year’s focus was forgiveness. This gave me an opportunity to bring to mind all the people, present and past and from every area of my life, whom I was holding some angst towards, both big and small. I then went through a process of forgiveness with each one. It was a cathartic experience. Moreover, the value I gained from it was a lightening of the mental load I was carrying that was weighing me, not them, down. Read More
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandh
Altruism – the giving to others without seeking anything in return – is definitely a means of finding ourselves and an opportunity to move beyond our egocentric actions and reactions. Many spiritual traditions echo this philosophy. In fact, having a generous nature is woven into the very core of our DNA. It is a natural thing for us to do. It brings many rewards and yet, should be done from a giving heart rather than the desire purely to receive those rewards.
Our hunter gatherer ancestors knew that altruism within the tribe promoted the passing on of genes. It also supported their reputation amongst other tribe members as it was important to be seen to be sharing the spoils of one’s labours and giving back what they themselves had received: if you give me some special roots to eat today, I must be seen to give you some special roots to eat tomorrow so I appear benevolent in the eyes of others. Since those early days, our willingness to help others has evolved considerably and we are now willing to help those far outside our tribe and who we do not even know. Read More
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill
Two afternoons a week I volunteer at a local dog rescue centre. There is one dog at the centre I especially like: a young German Shepherd Dog called Isla who came from a couple who felt they could no longer cope with her. In truth, they had made little effort to train Isla and, with her very intelligent mind, it had not taken her long to become a very badly-behaved dog.
I felt so sorry for Isla, an active, highly sensitive dog living 24/7 in a small kennelled area, that I aimed to give her an enjoyable time twice a week. I used to give her a long walk and then come back and play ball with her which is her favourite pass time. She was difficult to walk: lunging out at passing cars, joggers, cyclists and, viciously, towards other dogs. It took all my strength to hold her.
On one walk, I was pondering how I could use a principle that I believe in to overcome the difficulties with Isla’s behaviour: when we focus on the challenges, faults and foibles of people’s personalities, all we perceive are those personality deficiencies. When we train our ‘seeing’ to look beyond their flaws and instead see the innate goodness and lovliness of their True nature, we quite naturally come into better interpersonal relationships with them. Read More
We live in a psychologically-sophisticated age. We know we need self-esteem, self-worth, self-compassion, self-love and we need to do self-care. We know we have an ego or personality that can behave badly at times. We know we need to work on ourselves to overcome our negative character traits. We may too have an awareness of an inner essence that is more magnificent than all of this. But who actually are we? A mix of all of this? One self at one moment… and another self at a different moment? Let me try and clarify it. Read More
We focus on eating healthily. Moving regularly. Sleeping well. Training our minds. But, do we also provide our body with the optimum fuel to keep us alert, vitalised, thinking clearly and relaxed? Fuel that helps us recover from stress, boosts our immune system and enriches every cell in our body?
What is that fuel? Oxygen.
How do we ensure that we get it in large quantities? Through breathing effectively.
We all know how to breathe. We can do it with no conscious thought at all. Yet how much of our unconscious breathing is taking in the oxygen we need to provide us with all the benefits we can obtain from breathing well? Read More