soulrefresher

inner balance the simple way


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soulrefresher – Past, Present and Future (2012-2013)

Once I leave this earth, I know I’ve done something that will continue to help others.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

It’s 2013 and thankfully the Mayans were wrong and the world is still standing with us here too! However, we decided to wait some time with this post just in case the Mayans made a small calculation error!

2013 - A new year with new exciting  challenges

2013 – A new year with new exciting challenges

A new year with new exciting challenges is lying ahead of us and we would like to say thank you to all of you for the journey we have experienced together so far. In September 2012 soulrefresher was born. Not a long life until now, but a fascinating one nonetheless. We want to thank you for following our story so far – all of you from over  50 different countries. 2013 will be an exciting year for us as we return to Europe after a period of  travelling. We are excited to now have the opportunity  to really develop  soulrefresher and bring our services to you.

Puppetji

Puppetji

The story so far: In our short history so far we have shared our ideas about a healthy life balance with you on our travels. We have tried to do this in the soulrefresher way –  information and critique with a dash of humour. Remember our first post about the baby penguins making their first small steps into life?  Well we’ve been a lot like the little penguins as we have made our initial steps. Your comments and interactions have offered us great support as we’ve tried and tested a few things. Many of you have liked the posts about Puppetji, the ‘puppet guru’ – comical looking but with the ability to offer simple and helpful truths with cheesy humour.

Our ‘Quotes of the day’ continue to receive great comments from you as each one can bring fresh inspiration into your day. We’ve enjoyed updating ‘soulrefresher’s travels’ series and are delighted with the interest that so many of you have shown in it. Now that we’re off the ‘road’ we’ll be updating this section with what we have learnt on our travels.

Sadhu Parmanand

Sadhu Parmanand in his simple hut (Rishikesh, India)

And now: We are currently in a transition period, planning our return to the West and thinking about the next steps for soulrefresher. We’re figuring out the balance about what you would like to see soulrefresher offer and how we can deliver on that. Our travels have inspired us so much that we’re currently sieving our ideas and working on coming up with the best solutions.

What next?: We will continue posting inspiring quotes/photos and information on topics such as relaxation, meditation and health. We will focus on two areas in particular; NLP and Reiki. In response to your interest both online and offline we will be sharing our skills and knowledge with you as Reiki Masters and NLP Practitioners.

Services

International Association of NLP institutes

International Association of NLP institutes

We  are delighted that we can now offer offering face-to-face Reiki and NLP and Life Coaching services in Hamburg and Ireland (Dublin) and will introduce new NLP  and Life Coaching Skype sessions. Click here for more information.

MEET THE SOULREFRESHER TEAM – FREE INTRODUCTORY SESSIONS

We are currently planning informal ‘info sessions’  for Reiki and NLP in Hamburg and Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Cork) from March 2013 onwards. Please check back here for more details.

Thank you for you following our story so far and we look forward to continue the ‘soulrefresher’ journey together with you in 2013.

soulrefresher x


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soulrefresher’s travels – India: The day that soulrefresher met the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

McLeod Ganj is the home of the Tibetan Government in exile and the spiritual leader of Tibet, his Holiness the Dalai Lama. A small mountain town located at the foot of the Himalayas in the North of India, it offers visitors a curious confluence of Indian and Tibetan culture. Although his official residence is in McLeod Ganj, His Holiness is rarely at home due to the unyielding demands of his international appearance schedule. As one of the most sought after individuals in the world for spiritual, political and celebrity reasons, it is a special occasion when he is ‘at home’.

Fortunately for us he was ‘at home’ during our visit to McLeod Ganj. To quote from his website:

His Holiness will give three days of teachings on Chapter 24 of Nagarjuna’s Fundamental Treatise of the Middle Way (uma tsawai sherab) at the request of a group of Koreans at the Main Tibetan Temple.

The invitation to attend was extended to the public. This only happens a few times a year, so of course for many people, residents and tourists alike, this is the only opportunity to see and hear the Dalai Lama. For health reasons his Holiness no longer holds public audiences and getting a private audience is challenging due to his limited availability.

The current situation in Tibet is that for the majority of the Tibetan people their cultural and human rights are denied by the Chinese government. You can read more here about a recent representation at the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council. The 59th act of self-immolation occurred last week in Tibet and protests for freedom against the Chinese are frequent and often end in death or imprisonment. Many Tibetans take the decision to leave Tibet and follow the treacherous path over the Himalayas and into Nepal, finally reaching salvation in the form of their exiled community in McLeod Ganj. For them an opportunity to meet with the ‘spiritual leader of Tibet’, his Holiness the Dalai Lama, makes that journey worthwhile. You can learn more about the Tibetan situation by watching this presentation.

We intended to spend a few days in McLeod Ganj but on realising that an extended stay would grant us the privilege to see and hear His Holiness, on his proverbial ‘home turf’, we decided to extend our stay. McLeod Ganj has its own energy and where there is chaos there is also calm as the Indian and Tibetan ways merge on the narrow hillside streets. In the lead up to the teachings the town became increasingly busier as the overnight buses from Delhi began to slowly unload more and more spiritual enthuasists. Our regular haunt, Nick’s Italian at Kunga Guesthouse was full to capacity the night before the ‘teachings’. It felt like the lead up to a festival for us as people descended upon the small town and prepped themselves for the now much used word on everyone’s lips – ‘the teachings’.

The presence of maroon robed monks mushroomed as more and more cafes were taken over by informal buddhist teachings. The curious thing about McLeod Ganj is the number of non-Tibetan monks. It is not unusual to see a fresh-faced guy in his 20s with a thick American drawl, wearing red cons (underneath his robes), sipping a latte and discussing complex buddhist texts with groups of well dressed Western or Asian ladies. There are also many short haired or shaven Western women dressed in maroon robes about McLeod Ganj who are studying Tibetan Buddhism – some of whom live in the monastery.

The most important thing that all the guidebooks and websites mentioned was to register for the teachings. This process happened in the offices of the Tibetan Government in exile – a very basic building that resembled an outhouse more than a country’s administrative offices. In the days leading up to the teachings the dark, ‘aromatic’ little alleyway in front of the office was filled with a plethora of different people from all cultures, creeds and walks of life. A few days before I joined this mixed group to queue for registration armed with my passport, passport photos, completed registration form and 10 rupees administration fee.

There were only 3 people in front of us so we assumed a swift process until I looked inside the office and saw one man dealing with everything.

The registration process for the teachings – a solo process!

His process, although simple could not have been more time consuming. He personally checked and wrote out each of the registration passes, trimmed the photo down to size with a large rusty scissors and took the cash – a whole 10 rupees approximately 15 euro cent.! After a 15min standstill I looked again and realised that one of the three in front of me was processing 28 badges for a group – there was no group bookings section!

In our small waiting group we mumbled, then laughed, then chatted and all accepted in our ‘western way’ that this was the system and we would just have to be patient. After all, we were queing to go to a buddhist teaching, not for IKEA. It was fascinating to hear to see and hear the full flavour of nationalities and their particular reason for coming to see the Dalai Lama amongst the Tibetan people.

The simple surroundings of the registration office inside the offices of the Tibetan Governement in Exile.

A very friendly Japanese woman I befriended in the queue gave me some insider’s tips:

  • go to the temple the day before the teaching at 0600 to reserve your spot
  • remember to leave your mobile phone, camera and other forbidden items at home
  • bring an FM radio so that you can listen to the teaching in your own language
  • arrive at the temple at 0600 for a 0930 start on the morning of the teaching to ensure that you get your reserved place
  • bring a cushion
  • bring a cup – ‘they serve tea’
1.5 hrs later with my pass in hand and armed with new knowledge I researched buying an FM radio, said I would come later and of course forgot to purchase it some hours later. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and decided we didn’t need to sit on the Dalai Lama’s knee so would go later to reserve a spot. We made our way to the the temple at noon, stopping for an essential coffee and cake and people watching. What struck me most as we watched the hundreds of people walk towards the the complex was the sense of ritual about the teachings. It felt like people had real purpose as they made their way into the complex and started their preparations for the imminent arrival of his Holiness. Once inside we could barely find standing room. Then I spotted a thin strip between reserved seats and the monk’s spot. We marked our territory and hoped for the best. There was a palpable air of excitement around the temple complex as people were eagerly setting up home for the the next few days. The temple itself was only capable of holding approximately 100 hundred people who were predominantly aides of his Holiness and high status monks. Outside the temple the temple complex was capable of holding a few thousand people on two levels. We left, hopeful that our space would be there for us the next day.

Fingers crossed!

Equipped with pillows, back warmers, blankets, yoga mats, water and minus an FM radio we made our way to the temple about 8. We joined the hordes of people making their decent down Temple Road. Luckily for us there was an enterprising shop open selling basic FM radios for less than €2 and we happily purchased. It was a beautiful crisp morning and we felt slightly over prepared with all of our woollen warmth, especially when walking beside those dressed for the beach. A seemingly organised queue which was actually a chaos mirage led us to a security check point where bags and bodies were searched and patted down. Many people were asked to return to the entrance to leave cameras, mobile phones etc and lighters were removed from people. Looking into the ‘confiscated box’ I saw the usual lighters, small knives etc but what was most startling was the full size bottle of Italian Red Wine. Seems somebody read the flyer wrong and thought they were off to theatre in the park and not a Buddhist Teaching by one of the world’s most recognised spiritual leaders.
We were quickly ushered through and realised that we had a bird’s eye vantage point at the barricades next to his residence where he would exit soon. After just moments the gates opened and a lone Indian security man exited carrying a machine gun, followed by a tight cluster of monks with the Dalai Lama amongst them. We were just two metres away from him as he waved and smiled to the crowd. A very unusual thing happened at that moment,particularly for India – there was silence. A real silence where there was actually no noise, just the shuffle of feet of the Dalai Lama’s group and the breath of expectation from the thousands of people around the complex. He smiled from ear to ear as he walked the 20 metres from gate to walkway in front of us, stopping to receive gifts from children as he passed. As a firm ‘non-believer’ in the religion of celebrity I was slightly awestruck. Here was greatness in my presence. A man who lived simply and selflessly for the betterment of others. A man so committed to that illusive concept of peace that he accepted to spend his entire life living in exile from the country of which he was the leader. A rare one surely. Just before he turned onto the walkway he turned to our direction and smiled and I’m not sure if it was the positive vibe, the sunny morning, the occasion itself but certainly pure and positive energy radiated from his smile and bathed all of us in a warm glow. My initial feeling was simple happiness, my initial thought – what a rockstar! A man who has shaken the hand of so many of the world’s great and the good

Seat of His Holiness

Slowly, we made our way behind him and upstairs to our ‘spots’.We found our spot with two people comfortably sitting there. I attempted to point out our sign but they just offered to let us sit on their mat. In the spirit of the event we squeezed in beside them, half sitting, half standing between a row of monks in front and behind us.The heat of the compressed bodies made our woolen items redundant – air was more important now as the space between us was so tight. The teaching began. All of the westerners were attired in various styles of earphones tuned to Dalai Lama FM radio. The multi-media provision was simple: two screens displaying a live feed from inside the temple and a PA system which meant that we were able to see the Dalai Lama at certain times.

We were being clever and using a splitter for our Fraggle Rock sized radio. Unfortunately, the splitter only liked one set of our earphones and could just about bear the second pair. The format was that the Korean group representative posed a ‘long’ question to the Dalai Lama in Korean and he then responded in Tibetan. His answer ranged in length from 5 to 20mins after which the English translator interpreted for the translation broadcast. This meant that for a period of up to 30 mins we could only hear Korean and Tibetan. The Tibetan people and Monks around us prayed and meditated throughout, being close to his Holiness was sufficent for them. When we did hear the translation it was difficult to access as it was in the middle of a complex text. One very clear thing that we did take (our version) from the Dalai Lama’s words was:

‘You need to make yourself happy first before you can begin to look outwards for happiness or bring happiness to other people’.

As part of the ritual of the teaching the Dalai Lama blessed tea and then the monks distributed this to the audience. It was a real feat of accomplishment for them to make their way through the milling crowd with a humongous hot tea pot. My Japanese friend had advised well in telling me to take a cup with me. However the prospect of Tibetan Butter Tea was not to my liking. It was a real treat however to watch the monk in front of us take out his well used wooden bowl and offer it up for tea, which he slowly slurped for some time after. Amidst the main ritual there were many minor rituals occurring all around me as Tibetan people and Tibetan monks unwrapped tight packages in closely held cloth bags. The ‘taking out of their cup or bowl’ and cleaning it in advance of their tea was a very basic and beautiful ritual to watch. The sheer reverence that they showed in receiving the tea blessed by the head Lama was so simple and pure and held such meaning for them. It was challenging to remain focused on the teaching but was wonderful to absorb the atmosphere of the complex all around me. The mood was light too as monks snored or dozed softly and were quickly jerked back into attention by their colleagues. After some time the Dalai Lama suggested that people might be feeling pain in their legs at this point and were welcome to ‘stretch their legs’ – a true understanding of his western audience – an entertainer who cared for his audience.

The Dalai Lama called the morning session to a close and made his way down the steps of the complex and into his 4 x 4 where he was driven the 30m to his residence. A clear statement that this is one of the world’s most important people and his security is threatened – a humble, 77 year old smiling monk! As we left the complex in our hordes we saw the enormous vats of rice and vegetarian dal set out for the monks and nuns who had of course come equipped with their own bowl.

We didn’t gain any deeper knowledge of the Buddhist text but gained a once in a lifetime experience of seeing and hearing a man who deservedly garners world respect, not least for the hope that he offers to his people who live their lives through the curtain of oppression. I felt privileged for the life that I have been born into and for the opportunities that have been afforded to me – something that should be always remembered. Of course, if we were looking for insight or wisdom we could not do better than to hear the wisdom of these words

‘You need to make yourself happy first before you can begin to look outwards for happiness or bring happiness to other people’

spoken directly from the mouth of the Dalai Lama himself.

Deborah Dignam
soulrefresher

If you are interested in learning more about the Tibetan situation then you might like to check out some of the following:

http://www.tibetnetwork.org – this is an excellent resource to learn more about the Tibetan situation and to watch films and documentaries about Tibet.

http://www.facebook.com/tibethopecenter – a great NGO based in McLeod Ganj who wish to work with non-Tibetans through social media and other forms to promote the Tibetan situation.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/dispatches-undercover-in-tibet/– an excellent overview of the modern day situation of leaving Tibet

Slide share Presentation on Tibet – I attended a very informative talk at the Hope Center in Mc Leod Ganj which provides great insight into the current situation of Chinese occupation of Tibet and the environmental toll that it is having.

Himalaya – a beautifully shot film that captures the integrity of the traditional Tibetan culture.

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Ten rules for being human

A practical charter to living life as a human!

Something to chew over as you wind down your working week and look forward to spending some time with yourself over the weekend.

10 Rules for Being Human

Ten rules for being human

 by Cherie Carter-Scott

  •  You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.
  • You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, “life.”
  • There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work.”
  • Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
  • Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
  • “There” is no better a place than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”
  • Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  • What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  • Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
  • You will forget all this.

soulrefresher x

Enjoy your weekend!


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soulrefresher says hello to the world

Hello from all of us at soulfresher! It’s a big day for us as we take our first steps out into the world.

soulrefresher is a lifestyle design agency dedicated to helping people find balance in their lives – the simple way.

Inspired by our own stories and experiences we’ve been working on some great ideas to offer people a simple and practical approach to finding a healthy life balance in everyday life. In short, we want to help people to refresh their souls! We hope to do this through both our face-to-face services and online toolkits.

We’re globally based but locally focused. We travel extensively in search of new tools and techniques for a healthy life balance but are still very much connected to the western lifestyle. We’re currently on Koh Phangan, Thailand where we offer  face-to-face treatments (Reiki, counselling) and Distance-Reiki and other online services.

We’re particularly keen to create online solutions for people with busy lifestyles and will be sharing more about this soon. Find out more about us and the services we offer.

In the next few weeks we’ll keep you updated on our progress and give you some sneak previews so do call back and check in on us or catch us on Facebook or Twitter.

In the meantime we’re a little like these penguins taking our first steps and trying to find our balance! Have a great day!

soulrefresher x