Friday, July 28, 2017

The story of the (cherry blossom) tree. Mirror for a more balanced lifestyle with purpose.

The Buddha was inspired by nature. There is a lot to learn from nature. In our running life more and more we are disconnected with fauna. The present connection and identity for most people now a days is technology. You cannot fetishize the technology. It’s just a tool. It’s not the purpose. The purpose is always changing in the off-line mode. What is there to learn from nature.

This story, I sometimes use during my early morning meditation classes, is mend to share some insights. You can use it just to read and to contemplate or to use it as a means for (guided) meditation.

In this story I make use of the image of a cherry blossom tree (Tree of life) but also just a normal tree that connects with you is a wonderful and useful image.

In Japan, cherry blossoms, next to other meanings, also symbolize the impermanence of life, which is a major theme in Buddhism (everything is temporary and everything is interconnected). The cherry-blossom tree is known for its short but brilliant blooming season, a natural process that metaphorically describes human life.

The brilliance, fragility and transience of life
Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.

Why don’t we marvel at our own passing time on earth with the same joy and passion? Why do we neglect to revel in life when it can end at any moment. Or in the grace surrounding us everywhere like possible: our family, friends, a stranger’s smile, a child’s laugh, new flavors on our plate or the scent of green grass? It is time, cherry blossoms remind us, to pay attention.

In short:
The Japanese use the short life of a cherry blossom before it is scattered by the wind and rain to symbolize the cycle of life, and they use it as a reminder to celebrate beauty. The Buddhist consider the opening of a cherry blossom as a symbol of wisdom because it is like the mind blooming into enlightenment. They also consider the cherry blossom as a reminder to exist in the present moment before life fades away.

Note in relation to meditation:
# (Standing) If you want to use this story as a meditation you can do it standing in nature or in your garden or terrace and just connect with any tree that is asking your attention. 
# (Sitting down). If you want to use this story as a meditation and nature around you is not available, then just sit down at a place you feel at peace and at rest with yourself. A place where for a while you will not be disturbed.

The story of the (cherry blossom) tree

I invite you to connect with a tree in nature or, if nature is not available now, imagine a Cherry Blossom tree standing in a landscape.

The first thing to recognize is that a tree does not make any effort to be attractive. The tree is just available in the landscape. Undisturbed by other trees, animals, plants, houses or human beings. Undisturbed by what his or her environment thinks of it. The tree is just effortless being. Resting, breathing, showing its uniqueness. Flexible, rooted, not hiding for storms, rain or when the baking sun beats down. Just accepting. Not trying to be anything else than just his/her uniqueness, this tree. Showing his or her uniqueness in beauty. Yes beauty because its attracting you.
A tree is showing us the ongoing cycle of life. The ongoing process of growing and renewal. It shows us how to be and how to stay rooted. Is shows us the only simple things needed. Like water, soil, fertilizer, sun and air. It is the mirror of taking and giving and of letting go. It shows us that even having maybe many life cycles to make, also for a tree finally there will be an end. The tree shows us the seasons of life and the seasons in natural growth and renewal even in the process of getting older. The tree obeys nature.

Do you live in harmony with the seasons of your life? Do you recognize the beauty of all seasons? Many people live contradictory. They do not obey nature. Their rhythm is opposite from nature.
Winter for instance is a period of rest, of making up balance and of preparing for the new four seasons to come. Summer is the period to flourish and to be in optimal strength.

If you think of your live how do you live? Very often, without even being aware, we live opposite. In summertime there is more light of the sun. More energy. We go to the beach to rest. In winter we have more darkness, longer nights to serve us and so the natural quest and offer to have more rest.
In winter we use electricity to create more light so we can make longer working hours. We eat higher energetic food and, especially around European Christmas time and end of the year we reach the climax of our busy-ness as if life does not start up again the next year.

So winter is the time to recharge, to rest, to connect with the source and meaning of your life. To make up your balance sheet, build up wisdom, and to prepare for the next cycle to come. 

In Spring the tree starts to make one step forwards in growth again. The new and energetic juice stream helps the tree to start its new life cycle. The buds of the leafs, waiting already from the end of autumn many months ago, unfold soft and in a bright and sunny green shining ‘Sprouting Spring color’. And with this process the first blossoms appear. Opening to attract the right insects to help creating the fruit and the seeds for the next generation to come.
After only a short period of a couple of weeks. The blossoms drop their petals. The first giving back to nature again. Blown by the wind they are the first new fertilizers for the soil.

In summer the leaves turn darker in color. They turn into adults. Stronger, harder. The tree is strong and in optimum state for the breathing (photosynthesis) process. Giving back oxygen for animals and human beings to breath.

When we mirror this to our lives we can ask ourselves some questions.
First of all we can ask ourselves why we continuously want to shine. It is not possible to always shine. It’s only marketing that helps you to believe it is. Actually what you do is you force and punish your body if you do not obey nature like a tree. You do not obey nature, you do not respect nature, you do not accept and respect the beauty of yourself in the ongoing growing and transforming process.
The second question you can ask yourself is; “what do I give back to the world? Am I only taking? What do I give?”

In Autumn every leaf turns into a flower. In many ways you can see autumn as harvest time. Time to give and time to let go. Creating space for something new to become.
First of all a tree shows us during this period there is an effortless and painless way to let go. Accepting change. It is necessary to grow. If you do not accept change there will be no growth. Without any effort the tree, just at the right moment drops its leafs. Sometimes with some help of the wind. The leafs are the fertilizers for the soil needed for the next generation to start-up there first of many possible life cycles.

Then the tree drops the fruit, the seeds. The fruit, the harvest to eat or to multiply as a guarantee (new) life has to go on. In nature it is just a question where the seeds fall down and how big the multiplying of life will be. That’s why most of the time and growing at the right place and with the right circumstances the tree produces lots of seeds and/or fruits.

Again we can ask ourselves what is our harvest, how do we give back. Do we really take care for the next generation to come. Different than in nature we have the opportunity to plant our ‘seeds’ at the most wonderful and for the specific seed best places. Are we willing to do this? Is this connected with the purpose of our life?

Are we connected with nature? It’s just a matter of connecting, of contemplation.

Being as a tree and obeying nature…

Living a more balanced lifestyle with our unique purpose.

Frans Captijn
Host / Catalyst / Talenteer at Captijn Insight

Captijn Insight
“Catalyst in your process to new sustainable flow in life and work. Whether you are an individual, couple, team or an organization.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Right habitat. Feeling the comfort and connection of paradise village life.

During a private retreat I worked with a guest from Russia. With her family she is based in a world capital city because of the work of her husband.

The first day she expressed already two times in the morning her wonderful remembrances of her youth, living in as small village with only about two thousand inhabitants somewhere in Russia near the border with Japan. This time, walking with me through our (much smaller) village to our village temple, she called it 'Paradise'. It made her happy and longing for that time she was a young girl.

And she is not the only one. Many people who come to our 'one stop destination for healthy living', to work on or to connect with (holistic) health call our place and environment paradise. They like it so much but all have an excuse not to live in a healthy place so for them not the right habitat. 
During her Mandarin study, my daughter had to study at a university of Being. Actually she could not stay because she got all kind of physical problems caused by pollution. People pay a tremendous amount of money for a small apartment or house. And they stay... It's the place to be to earn lots of money. They still live the (more and more) lie that money makes you happy. So they earn a lot of money, pay a very high price for their 'living', make themselves sick and need to spend that money to make themselves healthy again. Going on believing in the idea (their general excuse) there is no other option. It's a must to run life...

What a difference our paradise. 
Everybody knows me here, everybody says hello to me and want to connect. It feels home, no it is. Not because people want to know everything about you but because you cooperate in village life and try to be friendly to the people living and working there. Cows sometimes blocking the road. No traffic jams. Sounds from nature you still can hear.
It is me who has to adapt, it's me who need to respect. I am 'the intruder' in this village, in this culture. People are willing to connect.

Even the school-bus driver, who every morning comes to our village to pick up the children for the primary school in the next (main) village, just waves his hand. The children in the back of the car scream and laugh loud; "Hello, good morning!".

I am the bold "Farang" (man from abroad) with the Thai dog on his three wheel scooter, walking in white cloth with our guests through the village and everybody knows me. I even have an USB stick with English Karaoke songs to join the Thai parties in the village and perform on stage. For me it's normal, so common. No stress, not wanting to be better, not wanting to achieve more, just and only living. 

How different it was in my former life and the places where I lived. There were just only a couple of people, for instance next door neighbors, who said hello. Most of the people only live for themselves. Not to much face-to-face connection. A feeling of fear to connect. Sometimes even anxiety. If you say hello to a stranger you do not get an answer or the person looks at you with eyes: "Do you need something from me?". 

In our habitual running life more and more we are lost. Missing the real interaction. Following what we think our environment, our family, our economy wants us to do. Believing marketing to make us temporary happy. 

Happy to live in my village. Yes, many people (I am one of them) call it paradise and... for me it is. 

Just take some time to contemplate on your habitat (living and working area). Does it help you to LIVE life completely? Do not think in threats and general excuses but in opportunities. Isn't your health the number one in your life? 

Frans Captijn
Host / Catalyst / Talenteer at Captijn Insight

Captijn Insight
“Catalyst in your process to new sustainable flow in life and work. Whether you are an individual, couple, team or an organization.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hard to make a decision in or about your life? You are never alone. Consult your masters in life!

For three weeks no blog. Just because I could not find the time. I got an unexpected visit of my two children because of my birthday and we got a lot of guests. 

Today a new blog about the power and message Masters in your life.

Masters in Life

The voices of others shall always stay in 'our house', but they should not take over.
You live there and it's your voice that may sound there loud and clear.
That's the voice you can trust, one who knows what is best for you,
that understands your rhythm and knows your destination.

(Patty Harpenau)

Every human knows his personal teachers / masters in life. A very small 'select' group that is there to your best interest and which you trust like none other. People you put only therefore naturally on a pedestal. Although they may already be deceased or not personally nearby with you, you can still consult, reflect and/or deliberate with them. Asking questions or, from your experiences even literally hear your Master(s)’s answer in a certain issue in your mind.

Although they, like the above sentences by Patty Harpenau indicate, should not take over our will power, they can sincerely help you with all kinds of questions. You might call that woolly and if so then simply do not use it. Wasted opportunity I would like to say. Your Master in your life is (or your Masters are) unbiased, sincere in the best for you and knowing you in many cases better than your own pocket. You really can build and trust on Masters in Life, your teachers.

Dealing with a question in your personal life? Hard to find or get an answer how to deal, where to go or what to do? I offer you a simple exercise.

Here, on this place where you are right now, I want to ask you to take a moment to stand still and take time for your Masters in life. Please follow the next instructions:

  • Who is / are your Masters in Life (already passed away and/or still alive)? (call them by name, write down their names).
  • Find a silent place and hide for disturbances for a while. If you want you can burn a candle as an invitation for your masters to join you for a while.
  • Invite your masters to accompany you in a personal meeting and imagine them sitting around a table. You are the chairman/woman.
  • Just explain what’s going on in your life and what makes it hard for you to decide.
  • Drop your question now on the table and give some time for your masters in life to make up their mind or to connect with the thing you are dealing with. 
  • Now, after a short period of silence, one by one watch your masters in their eyes and invite them to respond or reflect.
  • Listen carefully (sometimes it will take a while before response comes.). 
  • Now, after listening to the response, make up your own mind (again) to make a decision. Keep in mind the voices in your head you heard were not your voices. Still you have to make your OWN decision. Do not be shy to accept change in life. If you do not accept change you do not accept personal growth.

Know that master(s)/teacher(s), like no other are willing to care for YOU and can and want to be your guide.

Frans Captijn
Host / Catalyst / Talenteer at Captijn Insight

Captijn Insight
“Catalyst in your process to new sustainable flow in life and work. Whether you are an individual, couple, team or an organization.”