Once I have written something, an article or book for example, I will usually take a quote from it and post it to Facebook or Instagram with a little message letting people know that I have made a new offering.
I sometimes find it tricky to choose a quote to share. It feels difficult to pull a single line out of an article, to pull a statement out of its context. In the absence of the depth provided by its context, the quote is frequently phrased as an absolute statement, a declaration or conclusive remark and left in the readers hands, where it can be interpreted according to their understanding.
On making a declaration’esque statement, I become simultaneously aware of how many exceptions there are to it and how context dependent these things can be.
I have picked out four of my own quotes that I have shared on Instagram this past year, for discussion!
This quote is taken from my book Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. With it I had hoped to communicate the understanding that our attitude towards life, is often reflected by the type of life we encounter.
I would guess that many of us have had experiences that support this view. For example: We might get up in the morning and find ourselves in a good mood. We feel positively chipper as we skip down the road, shining our warm light on all the people and situations we encounter. It often seems that days like these, go better. Less disasters happen. Or perhaps less things are interpreted as disasters.
It’s not only our daily mood that influences our world. Our dominant belief systems have a large influence too. If life comes from the inside out and we are each projecting our lives as they appear to happen outside of us, it follows then that we will create a life that corresponds to our predominant beliefs.
For example, if we believe that life is generally friendly and caring we may filter our experience through this lens and find ourselves in a friendly world. If on the other hand we believe the world to be an an awful place full of crooks and baddies, then perhaps this is what we encounter. When this is the case, we may also find that we ourselves are fulfilling the other end of the victim-crook, role dynamic by maintaining a defensive, fearful orientation.
But. Is it always true? Perhaps you can recall an occasion where you have been smiling at life, loving it and spreading your sunshine liberally, only to find you are beset by tragedy or disaster?
In hard times like these, adopting a positive attitude, or smiling at life, usually helps us to navigate the disaster with greater ease. Especially when we are open to the idea that many set backs or disasters can be opportunities for growth and expansion.
At the level of the ultimate, it feels true for me to say that when we smile at life, life smiles back. Yet, on a relative every day level, there is a large caveat to this quote.
In this quote, also taken from Inhale. Exhale. Repeat, I am hoping to illustrate the following key message: It is generally better to practice quality, enthusiastic mediation than it is to set a timer and drag yourself through 20 minutes of routine a day. Going by time implies that you feel you will get somewhere or achieve a certain result, in a certain number of minutes. For example, that you will achieve more in 1 hour than you would in 10 minutes. Yet, meditation is an opportunity to sit down, close your eyes and enjoy that sitting for as long as feels good and right. (If you'd like to, you can read my FAQ about meditation here)
It’s a little bit like when you’re having a kiss and cuddle with your beloved. You don’t (always) decide before hand how long your kisses will continue. Rather, you just see how it goes. You can’t really put a time on kisses. Sometimes it’s a quick peck of the cheek other times it’s a little longer.
Or should you? The caveat appears when we acknowledge individual circumstances and context. For example, some people are highly busy and need to schedule everything if they want to make time for it. Other people really like the idea of time and find it comforting to know they can start and then finish in a certain number of minutes. Other people like routine and regimen and feel attracted by the idea of having a timed practice every morning and every night. For them, this rhythm brings solace and makes them more likely to meditate. Other people like the idea of being told what to do, they thrive on the discipline offered by having a set time.
What’s more, what we need will likely change regularly.
You could read this quote and take it as an excuse not to do any meditation, or to justify doing it once a year when what you feel inside is that you'd like to be doing it more often, because when you do it it feels good. What constitutes the right amount of time, and the right quality is up to you. Listen to your body and follow your needs and you will find a time frame and structure that brings out the best for you.
But does it? Always? Can you spot the caveat?
Ok, this quote is not one of mine but I did like it and post it to Instagram.
For me it says that when we feel happy, when we are or feel beautiful— then we find beauty in life. Whether that’s while viewing one of the seven wonders of the world or just walking down the street looking at whatever you see. Beauty inside, Emerson says, is the main game in town.
I think many of us could find examples of this quote in our lives. For example, when we feel really in love, or really happy, our life seems to open up to us like a flower. The roses smell sweeter, everyone looks happier and lifes a box of organic veg.
On the reverse, when we feel sad, hurt or miserable we may look around and see a grey world, a world that is simply not bursting with beauty. Indeed, even the things that used to spark the beauty, fail to inspire.
So where is the caveat? The exception to this declaration? Well, it’s several fold and I’ll just share one of the folds here now (I’d love to hear what you think the other caveats are too, please feel welcomed to leave your findings in the comments below)
Sometimes you feel blue, but then you see a butterfly flying, or a flower or the smile on a childs face and it is enough stir up your inner beauty. It relights the fire and reminds you of who you really are. When viewed from this angle it can make sense to travel the world in search of beauty (new travel blog here) It is often just the spark we need.
Ultimately there is no inner and no outer. It’s all inner. (Or all outer :D) Yet there’s nothing wrong with a helping hand back to happiness, from a beautiful, wonderful world.
This blog is here to start a conversation about aphorisms, quotes and declarations or certainty. These phrases offer food for thought, spark new ways of thinking and often bring a mini dose of motivation when we need it most. I share them all the time! (It’s quite hard to write an article without making any!) and I LOVE reading the quotes shared by others. Yet, how important it can be to remain open to life, to remain open to the caveats. How wonderful for the truth of things to remain un-concluded.
I was going to make an Instagram quote-post to share with you, inspired by this article. My first thought was to call it ‘For every quote, there is a caveat’
But then, is that absolutely true?
Instead I have gone with the following…
Lots of love for the new year!
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