…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Me-Now-Views; Monday Version with Speak and Peek

On that recent Edinburgh trip, I took the opportunity to approach the art gallery from North Bridge via the Scotsman Steps. The Scotsman is a newspaper of long-standing in the Bonny Land, and for many years was resident in a beautiful building right beside the South end of the North Bridge. The offices are now in the 'new town' and the building is now a hotel. The steps which run down the outside of the building link the upper road to Market Street which runs under the bridge and offers entry to Waverly rail station.

I must be very honest here; back in the days when I was previously resident in that ancient city (35+ years - yikes), to traverse those stairs was to take some courage. It was a haven for drunks and used pretty much exclusively as their urinal. Despite regular upkeep by council cleaners, throwing, ammonia cleaners on top of acrid urine didn't really help the situation. The challenge, then, was to take a deep breath at the top and get down to the bottom without having to breath at all. For this reason, going up was less used... There was also some risk depending on the trajectory one chose, as the sandstone steps had become very worn indeed.

In 2011, for heritage, safety, and for keeping tourists onside, a major overhaul of the steps was undertaken. Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed undertook the work on the Category A listed "convenience". In doing so, he opted to utilise a different form of marble for every step. The 'artwork' is called Work No. 1059. There are 104 different marbles used. The work was commissioned by the Fruitmarket Gallery and you can read more detail (and see better piccies) HERE.

As the steps had not long been washed when I went down them on this visit, it became apparent to me that there was still an inherent risk to life and limb - they were slippery!

Edinburgh is so full of hidden places and is a joy to explore - if you are fit and healthy, just about everything can be covered on foot. Otherwise, the town is very well served with buses. One of the best bus services in the world - and I've tried out a few! You can travel everywhere on the bus for a day with a four quid tour ticket. It is only necessary to make three separate journeys for that to already make its value and then some. Then there's eating. Countless places, endless variety. This was the cafeteria at the City Art Gallery. A bit noisy for my taste, but cheap and good baked tattie!!!

MenoSundays; Life Lived Lovingly

Reading our own hearts is not so easy, is it? So readily we can 'see' others. We think. However, all too often, how we are seeing them is through the prism of our very own 'hearts'. Recall last week that it was pointed out that the term 'heart' is misleading. It is the mind which is the seat of emotion. It is the mind which looks and points and praises, parodies or pouts. Due to thoughts transferring into bio-electric signals, chemicals are released in our body; endorphins, adrenalin, various hormones. You name it, there's an 'elixir' to trigger somatic responses which the mind then translates as 'feelings'.

So much of our reaction to things and events is a matter of perception. Perception is coloured by things such as ego, experience, desire...

Thus, unravelling our own motives for things we say and do is complex. Taking the time to do this, though, often rewards us with deeper understandings and empathies, improving our own self-esteem and funding the ability to boost others.

It is not without challenge. Acknowledging the dark corners of our 'heart' can be painful. Not in a physical sense, but for the ego. There are those who are said to be 'strong-minded'. This is a subtext for stubborn. There is nothing wrong with having firm opinions, as long as they can be offered without causing direct offence. However, very often, the stubborn do not wish to be shifted and fear of this happening causes anger to rise, language to become harming and even fists to fly.

We must be careful, too, of not receiving input from a standpoint which is always defensive. There are those who see nothing but insult in every word uttered, no matter how gently or clearly. It is impossible to imagine the emotional drain it must be on the system to feel that the world is surely attacking at all times.

If we work upon our dark hearts and clear them, purify and heal them, everything that we say and do will become motive-clear also. No matter whether another looks for 'agenda', we can be sure that we do not have one and that we are speaking with 'true heart', pure intention and from a place of Love.

These then, are the two words to apply to ourselves and use as tools to remove our emotional and egotistical agendas...