Boris Stay Dog

Lessons From Lockdown

Boris Stay Dog

Well, I don’t know about you but I can’t believe we are paying for a TV license that is brainwashing us to believe that Armageddon is just around the corner!

It’s just so full of depressing crap! I thought the whole idea of owning a TV was to provide the population with entertainment, not fill them with fear and panic.

If you want to enjoy this holiday period which our kind political leaders have insisted on giving us, then I strongly recommend you switch off your TV. UNLESS of course, you decide to watch something positive or inspiring on Netflix or IPlayer.

How has the lockdown been for you? Are you struggling to cope or has it been a positive situation?

Because most of the people I have spoken to seem to be quite upbeat about it.

For me, it has given me time to work on my book, start playing the bass guitar again and spend some quality time with my mum.

My best friend, a criminal law barrister tells me he has stopped stressing about work for the first time in 25 years!

My Dad has re-decorated 2 rooms in his new house, my mum has figured out how film and send out her ballet classes to her students on What’s app and my niece has stopped stressing about her GCSE’s.

So not all is bad!

And I suppose it is times like this that I reflect on what is it that is important in life and what isn’t.

The first and most obvious thing is time with the people who are important to us. My mum is 73 this year and the time I get to spend with her now is only a fleeting moment in time. One day she will no longer be here and spending this time with her, reminiscing about friends and relatives, family holidays and the loved ones who have already passed away are priceless. When she has gone, a large part of me will also die. But not today. Today I can enjoy her company.

Getting things done! I have been trying to finish off my book for the last 2 years but feel as though I never get the time. The truth is, there is plenty of time but I often distract myself with popping out for a coffee, flicking through Facebook or watching documentaries on youtube. I rarely take time out from work to catch up on things that are important for my long term goals, but this downtime has given me that opportunity. I think every year I will schedule more time off to focus on my long term goals and personal projects.

Having fun for the hell of it. I bought a new bass guitar and amplifier last week. I have wanted to start playing the bass guitar again for the last 5 years. I used to play in a band at college. We only played one gig, nearly got booed off stage and then got into a fight in the pub afterwards. OK, so playing our first gig at a rival sixth form college was probably not a great idea, but I still remember it as being one of the best days of my life. I loved playing the bass and I still do. But as we get older I think we forget to play, because there is no result at the end of it. I have laid to rest my childhood dreams of being a pop star, but there’s something about picking up that 4 string piece of wood and slapping it away to an old Kajagoogoo song that gives me such a high! So, I will make sure I play more in the future, just for the sake of playing.

Not stressing out about work. Well, fortunately, this is not something I do, but I see most of my friends and family doing exactly that. Not just my adult friends who work, but even my 16-year-old niece! Why oh why do we have to put so much pressure on ourselves and young teenage kids? We don’t have to be the best, we don’t have to be number one.

Be mediocre. Medicocray is the key to living a happy life. Scientific research shows that once we reach a certain level of income, which is not even a six-figure number in the UK, (though not far off it) our levels of happiness remain the same as those who earn more.

Anything in excess is detrimental to our health, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, but society has brainwashed us into believing that we never have quite enough to be happy unless we work harder. Because if we do work harder and sacrifice our happiness today, we can have it in the future by buying this thing or that thing, oh and once you have that, there is one more thing you have to buy to be happy because so and so up the road at no 22 has got one, and if you are going to buy that thing, you may as well get the best one which will cost you a little bit more, but once you have that you will definitely be happy…until it goes out of fashion of course and then you have to buy the newest version.

Bollocks!

That’s not what makes us happy. If anything it makes us feel inadequate.

As the Buddha said, ‘walk the middle path’.

Improve yourself. There is something innate within us as humans to learn new things, whether it is learning how to film your ballet classes in the front living room on your phone or re-decorating the spare bedroom. As my mum and dad have proved to me in the last 4 weeks, you are never too old to learn. There is something very fulfilling and rewarding about life when we learn new things, BUT NOT WHEN WE ARE PRESSURED INTO DOING SO!! When anything in nature stops growing it starts to wither and die and we are no different. So if you are sitting around at home feeling bored, go online and learn something new!

We are all going to have to adapt to a slightly different world when the lockdown ends, some more than others, and I think it’s important to embrace the change with the right attitude. Remember what’s important and what isn’t. After all, we may not be able to change some of the things in our new life, but we can certainly change our attitude towards them.

How are you coping with lockdown? Have you learned anything new? Has it made you re-think or change your perspective on life? I’d love to know what you’ve been up to and how it has made you reassess life.

Weighing scales

“Health is Wealth”

Our health is the most precious gift that we can have in our lives, but most of us ignore this fact or completely take it for granted UNTIL we become ill. Managing our health should be our number one priority in life, but most of us put work at the forefront and our health somewhere near the bottom. Without your health, you have absolutely nothing and it is only when you lose it that you will realise that everything else in your life is of secondary importance.

Maintaining your ideal weight is the key to living a healthy lifestyle and this can only be achieved with a positive mental attitude, regular exercise program and a balanced diet.

Well, we all know that diet and exercise are they key to maintaining our ideal weight, so where does the positive mental attitude fit in and how can we attain it?

“Do what you love, love what you do”

When it comes to exercise, make it enjoyable! If you love to exercise, maintaining your ideal weight then becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Exercise doesn’t have to mean slaving away in a sweaty gym or running aimlessly on a treadmill for hours on end. Find a sport that you enjoy doing! There are hundreds of different sports to choose from, so find a something that suits you.

It doesn’t even have to be a sport; learning to dance for example can be your exercise, anything that gets you up and moving. In this way, you will look forward to exercising rather than dreading it. Even better is to find a friend or friends to join you. When you have friends to exercise with, you will feel more motivated and push yourself harder. It can also open up a whole new social scene to you if you join a running club or take up a martial art.

Also, set yourself some long term achievable goals when exercising and make it a priority. Long term goals such as competing in local running competitions , triathlons or attaining your black belt in karate will also help with your motivation. Short tern goals such as losing 10 lbs in the next month are often ineffective, because as soon as you attain your ideal weight, your goal will have been achieved and you are likely to then sit back and put the weight straight back on again.

When it comes to your diet, make sure that you enjoy your food.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring food, so learn some healthy recipes that you can not only knock up quickly and easily, but are also agreeable to the taste buds. Educate yourself about nutrition so that you know which foods will make you pile on the pounds and which ones will help you to keep your waistline in check. Often we don’t have to consume less food, just healthier food to keep the love handles at bay.

Also, you may wish to introduce a juice cleans or raw food diet in to your lifestyle on occasions. Not only will they help you maintain your ideal weight but will also strengthen the immune system and cleanse the digestive track which will help to increase your metabolism.

The key to happiness is to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, so seek out pleasure in everything that you do.

Rescue Thai boys from cave


A story that gained the attention of the world recently was the young Thai football team trapped in a cave in the North of Thailand.

BBC News

They survived for 10 days with limited food and water in total darkness, never knowing if they would ever see the light of day again.

They were clueless as to whether or not they would be rescued or whether these were the last days of their young lives.

Just stop for a moment. Contemplate what that must have been like for those young boys.
But to the relief of the entire world, they survived.

It is an amazing story. But one of the things that probably kept their spirits high was that their football coach had spent 10 years of his life as a Buddhist monk and taught them to meditate during their terrifying ordeal.

How would this have helped them?

In the same way it helps millions of people every day cope with the difficulties and challenges they experience in life. It teaches us how to let go of our fears and anxieties and find happiness on the inside so that we can learn to live life more enjoyably.

Many people I speak to tell me they have tried meditation, but they can’t do it.
It is not that they can’t do it, it is because they do not understand what they are trying to do.

They are doing it, they just don’t know it and don’t practice it long enough to reap the rewards.

Many people think that when we meditate, we close our eyes and somehow, all of our problems disappear and we enter some blissful state of complete happiness and euphoria.
Actually, it couldn’t be much different.

Meditation can make you feel very uncomfortable at first.

Why?

Because just like those boys in that dark cave, when you meditate, you have nowhere to hide and there is nowhere to escape the constant ramblings of the mind. And rather than avoiding them with distractions, you have to face them.

Sometimes, negative thoughts or emotions will materialize. These negative thoughts and emotions come from within. They may have been there for many years and keep re-surfing as anger, irritability, depression, stress or moments of anxiety.

And what we usually do is either dwell on those thoughts which gives them more energy and makes the problem worse, or we distract ourselves and try and pretend they aren’t there.

But with meditation, we choose an anchor, such as the breath and keep our mind focused on it. When a thought arises, we watch it, let go of it and bring our mind back to the breath.

What is the point of that?

Because when a thought arises, we stand back, observe it and let the thought go, we take away its power, its energy. Therefore, if we don’t feed it, it starts to disappear. If on the other hand, we keep that thought in our mind and keep churning it over and over again, we give it energy so it remains with us and as a result keeps arising.

The result of regular meditation therefore is that any strong emotions within us, fear, worry, depression, anxiety etc. will start to dissipate, leaving our minds in a more calm, relaxed and peaceful state. And when the mind is calm, we can deal with the challenges in the external world much more easily. However, when the mind is agitated and in a constant state of worry, the smallest problem in the world can feel like the biggest.

In Thailand, it is expected for all men to become monks at some point in their lives, even if it is a short period of only 3 months or so. And when I used to be a teacher in Thailand, before afternoon classes, all the children in the school would sit outside of their classroom meditating. It is so ingrained in Thai culture that it is accepted as the norm. And as a result, Thailand is known worldwide as “The Land of Smiles”.

We have a lot to learn from the Thais.

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Toby Author

About Toby Maguire

Hi, I'm Toby.

I’m a meditation teacher, life coach, speaker and retreat host who has spent more than 30 years studying Meditation and Eastern philosophy.

I have helped thousands of people struggling with stress, anxiety or depression to take back control of their minds and build more manageable, enjoyable and more meaningful lives.

From Olympic athletes and Billionaires to company executives and troubled teenagers, I help people from all walks of life achieve greater peace of mind, clarity of their goals and enjoy the process of achieving them