Monday, November 16, 2015


Guest blogger and author: Alister Gray.

‘Watch yourself without any identification, without any comparison, without any condemnation; just watch, and you will see an extraordinary thing taking place.’ -- J. Krishnamurti


When I was asked by Dr Ian Ellis-Jones to write a guest post for his blog, I was confronted by a number of internal thoughts and questions such as:

‘What will I write about?’
‘How long should my post be?’
‘Will anyone find it interesting?’
‘Will anyone even read it?’…

The questions continued.

I then meditated, mindfully, upon the matter -- a number of times -- and rather than choosing to become entangled in my thoughts and feelings, I decided to simply observe them, non-judgmentally and choicelessly. As J. Krishnamurti wrote in The First and Last Freedom, ‘When you are aware, you see the whole process of your thinking and action; but it can happen only when there is no condemnation.’ I soon came to see that my thoughts were triggered by fear, an emotion that most people encounter on a daily basis, an emotion that all too often drives other emotions and thoughts that fall under the ‘fear’ banner, such as anxiety, stress, worry, anger, guilt and hate.

I’ve lived a colourful life so far and experienced many things. I’ve made many mistakes and sometimes hurt not only myself but other people in the process. I carried guilt, anger and resentment for years. I was a workaholic -- I still am a little but we’ll come to that later -- and I was always worried about the future, about what would happen in the future. When was my next deadline or target? What would my boss/partner/friends think? In other words, I never lived in the present. These emotions and thoughts manifested and they almost took over, leading me to a fear-driven life. I then found meditation.

In 2010 I was introduced to meditation by a very close friend who suggested that I try it after noticing the severe stress I was embodying. I was working for a marketing agency at the time and my slight frame was carrying a very big load of expectations on my shoulders. I took on the pressure -- in fact, I became the pressure -- and ultimately it led me to being stressed out. The fear of failure drove me on but I was sacrificing my health and overall wellbeing in the process. I became unwell and had more sick days in that single year than I’ve had in my whole career. My friend said to me, ‘Ali, you are changing. I don’t even recognise you.’ That was the turning point. I started to meditate mindfully on a daily basis. Since then I’ve had no sick days in the past four years, and my whole life has changed for the better.

A lot of you reading this post may be able to relate to this scenario --- constantly working hard, working more hours, working round the clock, working, working, working … but for what? What is our aim? To become more successful, richer, wealthier … but how do we measure that? If we don’t have health, do we really have anything at all?

Meditation -- in particular, mindfulness meditation -- enabled me to look within, providing me with space and time to watch and observe my thoughts and feelings. It enabled me to clear my head and start asking some ‘wisdom questions’ such as:

'Who am I?'
'What is truly important to me?'
'What are my desires?'
'What is my purpose in life?'

Very rarely do we stop to ask these questions, but when we do, something deeply profound happens. We start to understand. Mindfulness means choiceless awareness, and awareness leads to self-understanding -- and wisdom.

I began to recognise that health and happiness are of paramount importance, that my family and the love we give to one another are the things that truly matter. I realised that as human beings we have a divine right to be happy, but we also have a responsibility to care for our fellow human beings as well as our planet, a planet that gives so much. What an amazing feeling! This insight has allowed me to develop into a better human being and I now have a strong-willed desire to continue learning, helping and caring for myself and others on a far deeper level.

My journey is only at the beginning, but in the past year I have learned more about myself than in the preceding 31 years. I am still a workaholic but one with far more balance in my life. I try to live in the present as much as possible. I always make time for spending quality time with my family and loved ones, I meditate each day, I practice yoga, I read, and I do the things that make me happy, because when I am happy I am able to impact the world that surrounds me in the most positive way. I feel GREAT and it radiates out of me.

After meditating mindfully on Dr Ian Ellis-Jones’ kind offer, my meditation enabled me to look past the fears and say to myself, ‘Do you know what? If people like it, then great, but if they don’t, then that is fine too.’ What I would love is for my blog post to inspire someone to consider a new way of managing their emotions, thoughts and fears, and if I reach just one person then this blog post has been a huge success.

In a time when our world needs more love, happiness and unity than ever before, I encourage everyone reading this blog post to at least try meditation once a day for seven days. You can find many apps online to support your learnings. Try them out and use whatever feels right for you. I started my meditation practice by using guided meditations and found these to be a great help, especially at the beginning of my journey.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I would like to thank Dr Ian Ellis-Jones for this wonderful opportunity to blog on his site. I am truly grateful.

Note from Ian Ellis-Jones. Alister Gray [pictured above] is the author of this post, which he titled ‘My Meditative Life’. I am so grateful that he accepted my invitation to write a post on my blog. Alister is the founding director and chief executive of the newly formed Mindful Talent Limited, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Alister has also lobbied successfully to have two pilot programmes on mindfulness introduced into Scottish high schools. He is a deeply spiritual young man who cares about what happens to our damaged planet. He has a great commitment to, and interest in, a better world in the making. Alister's email address is as follows:

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