Nanci’s Blog

The Mushroom Effect 

October 23rd, 2006

I went on a retreat three weeks ago in northern Scotland, hence my tardiness in keeping up with BLOG entries. Had to finish up stuff before I left and on my return, there has been a lot to think about and process based on realizations and experiences there.

We were a group of thirteen plus two ‘focalisers’, what we would call group facilitators or leaders. The entire focus of the week was on doing things with intent and being in tune with the environment, yourself and co-workers i.e. being present. All it takes is a few seconds of closing your eyes, focusing on your breath, bringing your attention to the present moment and keeping it there while you were doing a task; whether it was vacuuming the hall, picking apples, scrubbing potatoes or listening to others share their experiences.

On one afternoon, we went on a nature outing along the river. The rivers in this part of Scotland are very unusual in that they are almost completely black due to the peat in the water which gives the whisky its particular flavor. The foam at the bottom of the rapids was a pale cream color and gazing from the top of the banks, it looked like a river of Guinness or Coca Cola thundering past. Completely amazing!

We had two hours to wander around on our own (and ‘be present’) and while walking through the woods, I came across a field of mushrooms. They had pointy caps like gnome hats and were bright yellow with brown flecks. They stood below a low hanging branch of a tree like sentinels guarding the trunk, surrounded by a carpet of orange, yellow and brown autumn leaves. There were literally hundreds of them and as I stood there, a thought started unfolding.

I don’t know if you have much experience with mushrooms but they don’t pop out of the ground as tiny mushrooms and then start growing. They actually grow underground to their ‘full size’ and when the conditions are right, they pop up in their entirety. The whole bang lot in one go—in the right place, at the right size, color, thickness, proximity to each other. So, you could be walking past that spot right now and there would be no mushrooms. Walk past that spot tomorrow and lo and behold, hundreds of mushrooms; giving one pause to ponder, “Where did they suddenly come from?” or “Was it there yesterday and did I miss it?”

Well, they were not there yesterday, at least not visible to the eye. They were busy developing and growing underground and when the conditions were ‘perfect” (humidity, temperature, wind, light, soil moisture content etc.) they manifested. Boom, out the ground!!!

The point of this story is not to encourage you to take up mushroom farming. Bear with me. My thought process continued. I suddenly realized that this is exactly how life is. We plan, study, create, develop, invest, work out and often we cannot see immediate effects of what’s going on and then one day, it happens. You get the job you want, you find the perfect house and the mortgage comes through, you meet your partner, you are ten pounds lighter. Stuff happens. But again, only when the conditions are ‘perfect’. Everything needs to be in its place exactly like for the mushrooms. A bit too warm, too wet, too cold–they just won’t show up.

I then asked myself, “What conditions do I need to create to manifest my dreams and desires?” I took the focus off the goal and instead brought the focus closer, to myself. What are some things that are not ‘perfect’ in my life and are precluding me from manifesting my dreams? Are my daily thoughts mainly positive or negative ones? What knowledge or skills do I need to develop right now? Do I feel ‘in charge’ of my life or ‘a victim’ of life’s circumstances? What opportunities to be more compassionate and kind to others am I missing? Do I see abundance or scarcity around me? Do I see a world of hatred or a world of people struggling to be loved? And most importantly, what am I going to do about it? You see, whatever picture of the world I currently hold, is the world that I am going to create.

What ‘perfect’ conditions do you need to create in your life in order to manifest your dreams and desires?

“Trust is the link between the mental world and the physical world. It provides continuity during the time that elapses between the conception of an idea and its manifestation. Realize that your dreams are already real on the mental plane; they are just waiting for the perfect time to appear in your physical reality.” [Orin, by Sanaya Roman in “Creating Money and Abundance”]

What One Person Can Do 

August 10th, 2006

In recent weeks at al fresco dinners and barbecues, discussions focused on the state of the world from politics, to AIDS, poverty, the weather etc. While some of them have been lively and insightful, inevitably someone in the group would say, “Well, we cannot change the world,” or something to that effect. My response is always, “You are right. You cannot change the world but you can change your world and in that way influence the world.”

With the many wars going on, corruption, poverty, and escalating deaths through AIDS and famine, it is understandable that we feel overwhelmed and despairing sometimes–as if life is taking us over rather than us being in the driving seat. But there is something that we can do about it. We can start by making changes in our world.

These don’t need to be monumental efforts taking hours of our time or huge amounts of money. They can be simple acts of courteousness, compassion and caring. For example:

1. Take someone that you don’t get on with at the office a drink/chocolate bar/fruit and wish them a good day.
2. When driving to or from work, make no rude comments to the drivers or cars around you. Give them space to pass or move in front of you and smile and wave.
3. Give someone a compliment–especially someone that you know that suffers from low self-confidence and self-esteem. Help them see their true potential.
4. Make one day about other people and not about you. Don’t focus on your needs or wants or desires but focus on how you can help others. Just for one day.
5. Monitor your thoughts for fifteen minutes and note how many self-defeating and negative thoughts you have. Change them.

If you are wondering how any of this is going to remedy any of the ills of the world, well by engaging in any act of kindness or having positive thoughts you will reduce the amount of fear and despair in the world by getting rid of your fear for just a moment. Yes, you. Just one person. In just one moment.

This beautiful story illustrates the power of one person:
An old man is walking along the beach and he sees a young man picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled old man. To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Upon hearing this, the old man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!” At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

Yes, we can all make a difference. Look around you and see what you can do to make a difference today. The world is not something that happens to us, it’s something that we constantly choose and create. Decide what kind of world you want to live in. Then start creating it. For example if you want a peaceful world, how can you bring peace in your life? If you want a world filled with kindness and generosity, how can you introduce these into your life? If you want an eco-friendly planet, what are you doing in your life to ensure this?

It all starts with us, not with others. We need to start making changes in our thinking, awareness and actions–that’s where and how the world is going to start to change. Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What step are you willing to take today? Remember, all it takes is one person.

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