Author Archives: Satya Robyn

On being lazy

Lazy catFirst, I’ve made a video offering for you today: watch me here and then maybe buy a copy of my new book, ‘What Helps: Sixty Slogans to Live By‘ for someone who could do with a little direction, inspiration or consolation. (That might be you.) Now – laziness!

I have always strongly identified as Someone Who Works Hard. When speaking to friends, I catch myself complaining about how busy I am. When I look back at a day crammed with work, I feel good about myself.

Recently I’ve also noticed that I am Someone Who Wants To Do Nothing. To hide under a furry blanket and watch junk-food-TV. To put off the difficult jobs or get someone else to do them. To stretch out in the sun until I feel muzzy.

Sometimes I am lazy. The word ‘lazy’ implies excess, like the words ‘greedy’, ‘mean’ and ‘arrogant’. Lazy is when I over-indulge in rest. Greedy is the second bowl of ice-cream I eat after desert, and mean is when I don’t put any money at all into the donation bowl. These activities have a compulsive element, which means that they are being employed as an emergency measure. They are our best attempt at giving ourselves some of the comfort we’re desperate for, of dealing with our exhaustion, or of keeping us from feeling something.

Of course, there is a middle way in here. A place between workaholism and avoidance, a healthy balance of doing and not-doing. I inhabit this space too, and I manage it more and more as time goes on.

I suspect that what helps me to find this middle way is owning my laziness. I have been in denial about being lazy for a long time. In order to sustain my high output of work, it was necessary to force the lazy part of me into a back room. I was taught that laziness was BAD, and so I disowned it. Unfortunately, we can only force parts of ourselves into back rooms for so long. When the lazy part is finally allowed out (or smashes through the door), it goes to town. It keeps me pinned to the sofa for most of the day, when I’d actually rather be having a gentle walk in the park or doing a bit of weeding.

If I can acknowledge the lazy part when it arises and be kind to it, it seems to pass through more quickly. Oh, I feel lazy this afternoon – it’s possible for me to take a long nap, so I will. Oh, I really want to over-eat tonight – okay, it’s not the end of the world. It helps to be curious about why I might be feeling lazy or greedy – have I overdone it? Am I feeling sad about what happened last week?

It also helps to get to know the part that pushes me to work really hard. A really good question is: what does this part think might happen if it stopped doing what it was doing? That people would stop liking me? That everything would fall apart around me? I can acknowledge that part’s fears, remind it that it’s not on its own, and encourage it to relax.

As we get into conversations with the workaholic part and the lazy part, we help them to live alongside each other with more harmony. These parts of us become less polarised, and there is more ease in the system. Sometimes I work too hard, sometimes I get a good balance, and sometimes I am lazy. That’s okay. So how can we all get along?

Which of your qualities are you shoving into back rooms? What are the words you most often use to judge others negatively? What is the cost? How would it be to say ‘Sometimes I am…’?

My name is Satya and sometimes I am lazy. What a relief.

My trip to Kyoto

Kyoto five hundred Buddhas

(Writing Towards Healing is half price from today til the 1st when we’ll start, & here’s the introduction to my new love letter to you).

A few days ago I returned from Kyoto, where Kaspa and I had spent a couple of weeks on our first half-holiday half-pilgrimage to the city where our form of Buddhism was founded.

What have I brought home with me? Apart from a love of heated toilet seats…

We witnessed a lot of beauty on our trip. Five hundred Buddhas carved by a single monk over a decade, scattered through the woods behind his tiny temple. Geishas slipping through the streets of Gion. Bento boxes with nine delicious different dishes, presented like jewels. Calm temple gardens with their carefully shaped trees and shrubs, any stray leaves swept from the rich mossy floor as soon as they fall.

I will carry this beauty with me. But more than anything, I have been soaked in the spirit of the Japanese people. This is what has inspired us to spring clean our flat on our return (I won’t tell you how long we hadn’t cleaned our windows for…), and to raise money for a huge new Buddha for the front of the temple. This is what makes me smile as I type.

What is this spirit? It’s hard to put my finger on without falling into racial stereotyping, which can be dangerous. Japanese people are as various and surprising as people from any other nation. And, of course, there are always shadow sides to all cultures. But let me try.

What affected me most was the care and attention people brought to their work, whether that was directing pedestrians safely around roadworks, serving us in shops or cleaning the tiles outside the subway. People were deferential to each other – noticing what others needed, and frequently showing their respect by bowing. There was a quiet settled feeling about the place – no hurry, let’s do this properly and with love – which soaked into me.

I’m a real homebody, and I need persuading to leave my little castle/temple. It was so good to come back to the sangha & our animals. But when we go away, even if just to a neighbouring town, we come home with different eyes, and we can suddenly see what needs to be done. Not because of “oughts” or because of what other people think of us, but because we feel moved to, by love.

Where is it that fills you with inspiration? A local forest? The sea? The bench in your back garden? When can you get there?

 

Writing Towards Healing in March

A quick note to say we’re currently running Writing Ourselves Alive, and I’ll be putting Writing Towards Healing on offer for March – registration will open on 21st Feb. If you’d like a reminder you could always sign up to our mailing list on the right.

Look forward to it,

Satya

Tiny pockets of joy & rainbow socks

socksIf you’ve got ten minutes a day, an open mind & a tenner, I’d like to propose a swap – hand them over, and in return I’ll give you more joy for the next 31 days. The offer runs out on Mon 14th – read more & register here to start today.

One of the things you’ll receive is a chapter of my new book: Choose joy. Here’s an extract. I’m sending a little fragment of shiny joy out with this newsletter – it should take effect at some point today – let me know if it works! Sending blessings, go easy.

“Last year I bought some long stripy rainbow socks. Whenever I put them on, they made me happy. I wore them on a trip to my young nieces, hidden under my long red skirt, and they received rave reviews – when I got home I found some miniature versions online and put them in the post. My nieces were overjoyed, and that made me happy too. […]

Tiny pockets of joy do add up. What works for you? Crooning to your dog or luxuriating in a rose-scented glittery-bath-bomb bath? Planting a bright red cyclamen, or going to a coffee shop on your own for a gingerbread soy latte? Putting time aside to write or paint? Helping out at your local school? Sending your great aunt a hand-written letter? Baking cupcakes with your children? Grabbing five minutes to promenade in the garden with your coffee trailing steam before the chaos of your day?…”

Would you like more joy in August?

sunflowersGreetings. This morning Kaspa & I recorded a special (slightly ramshackle) video just for you – you can see it here. We’ve also decided to discount the 31 days of Joy e-course until Mon 14th – read more & register here.

Something that brings me a lot of joy is running WOWH courses. When people sign up, I’m happy that they have made a decision to put time aside to look at what’s important. I love knowing that people are writing small stones, and supporting each other in the Facebook group. It brings me joy to hear from people who’ve received insights & peace of mind from the course, and who decide to move forwards in a different direction.

This sort of ‘looking at what’s important’ is a devil to prioritise. There are a million things asking for our attention – tugging at us – they are noisy critters! How would it be to protect ten minutes a day so you can meditate, or read your novel? How would it be to create two hours a month to go out on a date with yourself and have a long conversation with yourself?

I want you to find the time and courage to do this, because I want you to make the most of your lives whilst you can. As part of our morning service we recite ‘time has passed with the switftness of light… it is already morning’. It is already August! Don’t delay – make some space for joy and for looking at the important stuff, whether that’s a course or some therapy or ballroom dancing or walking your dog or whatever you most need.

Keep in touch, sending love,

Satya

“He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” ~ Horace

 

How do we find home?

AM prayer flags flutteringFirst: if you’d like to reconnect with what’s at the heart of it all, join us for Spacious July.

This weekend we welcomed someone who hadn’t visited the temple before. Today they told me that they felt at home here, that they had a second home. How did they do it, and how do we find our way home?

For me, home is where I feel safe to be myself. This is easier in some places and with some people than others, but it relies more on my attitude than it does on anything else.

If I worry about being rejected, then I change myself to ‘suit’ others. If I worry about being misunderstood, I stay quiet. If I worry about not having enough, then I feel needy. If I worry about things not suiting me, then I feel critical and controlling.

When I remember to lean in to the Buddha, I don’t have to worry about any of this, and I can be at home regardless of where I am and what is happening around me. Ironically, feeling more secure often makes it easier for other people to accept me and to offer me things.

What do you lean into when you feel wobbly or alone? What helps you to do this?

If you’d like to explore this further, join us for Spacious July (including a private Facebook group where you can share your experiences with your fellow course participants).

Take good care, Satya <3

The difference between self-care and self-indulgence

kahlua-cupcake-by-stacyI’ve never been very good at self-care. My tendency is to make myself safe by making sure other people are okay, and so I often neglect to factor in my own needs.

When I do try to look after myself, I often end up eating too much cake or watching too much television and feeling slightly sick, spaced out or hung over.

Recently I’ve been pondering the difference between self-care and self-indulgence. I think that when I feel over-tired or overwhelmed, I try and reach out for self-care but instead grab onto self-indulgence. These activities bring me instant comfort but also anaesthetize me, helping me to continue avoiding the things that got me into a mess in the first place.

When I am able to choose differently and write in my journal or go on a walk or sit and look at the sky for a while, I often feel worse before I feel better. If I keep going, sticking with the uncomfortable bits, by the end of the day or week I feel replenished rather than zonked.

Self-care doesn’t always feel good to start with. But it never leads to a hangover. And it always turns us back towards the light.

What do you do tend to reach for when you feel depleted? Which of these things anaesthetize you and which nourish you? How can you get better at self-care?

Let me know your thoughts. And advance warning that I’ll be running Writing & Spiritual Practice in July, for the usual discount. I’ll write again to remind you – I hope you’ll join me.

Go easy, Satya <3

How to write a love letter to yourself

12229693393_291520d542_kHow are you?

How are all the different parts of you? Do a quick sweep of your body. Where is there tension? Aches? Lightness? How are you feeling? What has happened this week (or this year) that has been difficult? What different versions of you are living inside yourself?

Life often moves fast, and it can batter us about a bit. I would like to suggest that you give yourself the gift of half an hour and sit down to write a love letter to yourself.

Start with your name – Dear Satya – and then see where the pen takes you. Remember, this is a love letter written from the perspective not of a smitten early-days lover but someone who has been married to you for as long as you’ve been alive – a marriage with ups and downs, but one that has brought you much joy and one which contains much hope.

What do you need to hear? Write it. What questions do you have? Write them down. What do you appreciate about yourself? What do you struggle with, and what would it look like through the eyes of love?

Do make time in your diary to do this, and when it’s done, keep it somewhere safe. You might need to read it again.

I’d love to know how you got on.

Much love from me,

Satya <3

You are beautiful beyond measure

Blue BuddhaYou are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, you become carried away with yourself. Indeed you are quite impossible in many ways. And still, you are beautiful beyond measure. ~ John Welwood
As I type, a blackbird is singing his heart out as dusk comes on. I spent three hours this morning in our shrine room, doing the same. In my Buddhist tradition we chant the Buddha’s name as a way of connecting with something infinitely compassionate and wise.
It is a powerful practice. As I sat, the usual mental chatter arose. Oh, there aren’t as many people here as there were last time. That person is singing out of tune. Why am I doing this again? When can I go and eat chocolate and watch television?
I am quite impossible in many ways. This practice, and the practice of writing small stones, puts this foolish being into relationship with something that accepts me just as I am. Whether we see this ‘something’ as the gaze of the Buddha, the Good in the Universe or the spirit of blackbirds doesn’t matter. What matters is being honest about our flaws, and feeling loved anyway. If we can get even a small taste of this, we can begin to pass it on to others. This is our most important work.
I’d like to pass on the merit from this morning’s practice to you all – all of you reading this post in different parts of the world. My teacher says that merit can be seen as ‘happy mind’ – the joy and peace that we generate through our practice gets passed on to whoever needs it most. I hope you can feel it.
A few of you have come over to check out our friendly ‘virtual temple‘ where we talk about this practice and get to know each other so we can support each other in this funny old life. You’d be very welcome.
Deep bow, and I’m still planning on writing a new WOWH course on ‘Creating Sacred Space’ – watch this space!
Satya <3

 

The magic habit I’m taking up again

desk shrine“Build gaps in your life. Pauses. Proper pauses.” ~ Thom Yorke (Wake Up in March starts tomorrow)

My days, maybe like yours, can get a little crowded. I balance running the temple, my psychotherapy practise, writing, and other necessary things like keeping the flat clean, doing my taxes, going to the dentist…

These days I do a much better job of making spaces. We take every Monday as a Sabbath day, and we keep this sacred day completely free of appointments or duties. I am currently on a ‘checking email once a day’ schedule, which (believe me) creates a lot of spaciousness. I attend the three Buddhist services we run a week – a bonus of living on the ground floor of a temple.

Nevertheless, on days like today my feet don’t touch the ground. Before I know it, I’ve said goodbye to my last client to collapse in front of the television with a bowl of pasta.

And so I am intending to pick up an old habit, which I’ve let drop. During March (and hopefully beyond) I am going to pause once a day, notice what is around me, and write it down. It’s time to create a daily small stone again. I wrote one earlier, in fact:

a concentrated drop of light on the Buddha’s golden chin

Just ten words, but the result of a deep noticing of how the light gathered on the Buddha in the picture, a minute’s search for the word ‘drop’, and a profound feeling of gratitude for the ordinary beauty that surrounds me.

I can’t wait for the small stones to start dropping into my lap again. I can almost feel them queuing up… I wonder if you’ll join me?

*

Wake Up in March: Writing Ourselves Alive starts tomorrow – maybe you’ll start a daily small stone practice again as a part of this course?