Articles, Caroline Sutherland

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Staying Centered in Challenging Times

By: Caroline Sutherland

The Buddhists teach us that life is impermanent and that all things that we perceive are merely constructs of the mind. Uncertainty in these times is the only certainty. That which has a beginning will end.

Buddhism offers centering and meditation practices that keep one "in the moment" and in a state of mindful awareness so that we don't get "caught up" in the negative effects of the world as we see them. These concepts may seem lofty especially when we are "in the trenches" with our lives and our businesses. We can seem quite removed from the concept of mindfulness.

In my own life, many years ago, a business decision to take on a partner nearly ended in disaster. A business man approached me, to take a children's project that I had lovingly fostered for over a decade, "to the next level.

After spending seed money on a website, a complicated infrastructure, manufacturing, a television commercial and publicity, was born.

At the end of it all, when I wrote the checks, there was no capital left over for marketing and my business went down like a house of cards. It was obviously time for me to learn the lessons of trust and faith.

Many people in my position would have declared bankruptcy and in fact, friends encouraged me to do so but I "knew" that was not the route that I was to take.

Scared (terrified would be a better word) though I was, I ripped open my heart and stepped into the fire and said, "God, you and I are in this together. I will follow your lead and get through this situation. I will not back away from this crisis - I will move into it and I will learn from it.

Though fear and panic gripped my heart I knew that the only way to survive was to keep a clear head and "move into the moment." The universe delivered right away.

Deposits that I had made on accounts were used to pay down account balances with suppliers. Checks started to appear out of nowhere - old accounts receivable that I had forgotten were outstanding appeared in the mailbox. People lined up for personal consultations and to augment my business, the minister of my church called and asked me to fill in as a part time secretary. I had barely enough money to survive but some how my food, my shelter and my needs were all met.

Soon it was Christmas and with all the bills coming in I didn't see how I would have any money for gifts. I'm a Scot. It's in my nature to be resourceful if not thrifty!

In my condo building, down in the basement next to the recycle bins, there's a shelf. People put items on the shelf that they no longer want.

That shelf bore much fruit in the weeks before Christmas that year.

One day I looked into a tattered box on the shelf and spied a very tarnished sterling silver tea strainer. I polished it up and presented it to my sister with a nice bag of Oolong tea for her Christmas gift. Another day, I found a wooden tea trolley which I painted bright blue with huge yellow sunflowers - for my daughter.

I could see the potential in each found item, my creative juices were flowing. Then one day there was a single item on the shelf that caught my eye - a small blue plaster plaque with the words "give us this day our daily bread" embossed over a pair of praying hands. I knew this was the ultimate message. To be given the manna for the day - not for the long term but to be supplied that moment, then and there.

I got through those times, they passed. The nightmare lasted over a year. I came through it with flying colors. I honored all my debts. My credit rating remained impeccable and I reached out for support to all I knew. I never gave up.

Through that time, life showed me that I would be supplied. The catalytic experience of going into free fall showed me the powerful hands of the angels had me in their grasp.

Each person needs to learn this lesson for themselves. In fact, I feel that the lesson of trust and faith is a daily commitment and a daily discipline and perhaps these turbulent times are instructing us all to do just that.

Thoughts to ponder when you are going through a rough ride:

  • Turn your life over to the universe - practice the art of surrender.
  • Eat properly - don't collapse into the addiction of consuming too much sugar or alcohol to numb feelings.
  • Sleep - get into bed early and let the angels minister to you. Sleep restores the body and helps you to tackle the next day's challenges.
  • Don't drink coffee - it further jangles fragile nerves.
  • Reach out to your friends and family members – talk things through. Listen to the wisdom of others.
  • Don't over spend. If the purchase isn't necessary don't make it.
  • Practice using positive affirmations. My favorite "the way is smooth" repeated over and over again - even if it isn't.
  • Use Bach Flower Rescue Remedy- calm in a bottle.
  • Breathe - the power is in the present moment.
  • Miracles happen when we are present.


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