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Living consciously! What does that mean exactly and how does it apply to our fast-paced topsy-turvy world? Remaining positive and hopeful when humanity seems to be spiraling downward, is no easy task and I don’t always get it right myself. However, I find that by integrating certain yet simple philosophies into everyday life is conducive to making my personal journey and that of my loved ones, a little gentler.

With day-to-day life being arduous all on its own, we tend to view spiritual practices as additional hard work that always requires our setting special time aside for. My own experiences have taught me that we are meant to enjoy our spirituality and even have fun with it, rather than avoid it altogether because it presents an additional task to our overloaded day. Mostly we have a tough time integrating the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives due to the misconception that they are separate somehow. Granted, it can be particularly difficult to feel spiritually inclined when we look at the world around us. We feel too small, and inadequate to make it a better place, but in truth we all have the power within us to make global changes by recognising the ripple effect our actions and thoughts have on our own surroundings.

It makes no difference whether you believe this is your one and only life or that you live many, or whether you chose this life or that God chose it for you. The higher purpose for all of us being here in this particular time and space is to make our unique contribution to the collective puzzle we fit into. Imagine if you will that your actions and thoughts are small pebbles being tossed into the global lake. Notice the ripples they create; and you will begin to appreciate just how significant your contribution really is. When we depart this planet one day, our existence will leave an imprint so we need to decide how positive or negative, and how big or small, that imprint will be. Global change begins within us and by keeping in mind how good it feels to be on the receiving end of a kind or loving deed, projecting it outward starts to come naturally.

My brother Lionel has always been one of the most spiritually conscious people I know; and I've grown up observing his innately enigmatic ability of making it look effortless to walk the talk. In later years when I began paying attention, I learnt a thing or two. One of his philosophies is that if all of us extend a random act of kindness towards a stranger everyday; we will elevate planetary awareness and create world peace. His friends don’t call him Guru for nothing! His profoundly simple approach to maintaining a loving and positive outlook in this sometimes cruel world; and how we can effect change by being mindful of our personal choices, often gets me thinking about the ripples I’m creating and the imprint I’ll leave behind.

Being kind to a loved one is relatively easy but to make a dent in global healing we need to learn to be kinder to strangers, animals, Mother Earth, and to ourselves as well. Random acts of kindness don’t carry a currency and need not cost anything if you can’t afford it. A kind word or gesture, a smile, a cheery hello or considerate thought even, can create powerful shifts and project out loving ripples. These acts flow in sync with the universal law of cause and effect, so the mere joy we experience by making someone else happy even for a moment is a reward in itself. Whether or not you’re aware of it, a kind-hearted word or gesture from you at just the right moment can change or even save someone’s life.

Living consciously simply means being aware of the effect you have in your own life - how everyday things influence your moods and in turn how you affect the people around you. Therefore, your first act of kindness aught to be towards yourself. Become aware of what you’re drawing into your consciousness everyday. What programs, news forecasts or movies do you watch? How many acts of violence or negative dialogue are you absorbing into your consciousness during your leisure time? Does the music you listen to make you feel calm, relaxed or make you feel like dancing. Alternatively, does it create a desire for inappropriate or destructive behaviour? And last but not least, what images do you take into your dream world when your subconscious mind is most actively filing away information?

Just as we nourish our body with food; we nourish our psychological, emotional and spiritual body with the things, people, situations and activities we surround ourselves with. It’s virtually impossible to make positive changes in our lives; or in the world around us, if most of what we absorb is negative. Clearing our space and letting go of anything that doesn’t bring us joy or elevate our spirits is the ideal place to start.

When you go to bed at night, think back on your day ask yourself: was I kind or indifferent, did I listen or tune out; did I make someone laugh or cry; Was I stressed out and grumpy or did I smile a lot or take time out to play? What did my children or loved ones learn from me about kindness today? 

If you find you didn't do so well, simply acknowledge your humanness and all its frailties with compassion, and endeavour to do better tomorrow because there is always room for improvement. 

As my friend Dominique once said when I was having a particularly challenging day that left me feeling emotionally and spiritually drained: “Its okay Carla, even angels have bad wing days!”

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