Do you ever long to just be left alone? Do you ever find yourself saying I just need some space? Does the phrase ‘Stop the world I just want to get off’ ever resonate with you?
I know I answer a deep heartfelt ‘Yes!’ to all of these questions.
I get over whelmed easily if my social diary gets too full, if the days are too busy, if I spend too much time with other people at the expense of time on my own and yet it is not easy to admit to the need for my own company, my need for time out from the routines of life, my need for space.
Time out for good behaviour.
We are all familiar with this saying. The idea behind it is that we reward ourselves with our much longed for, precious ‘time out’ ONLY when we have completed all, or the majority, of the things on our seemingly endless list of things that must be done. ‘Time out’ is seen as a reward for good behaviour. But what if our usage of this saying is all wrong and we’ve actually got it all back to front?
What if time out for good behaviour actually means that we need first and foremost to experience ‘time out’ in order to allow ourselves time to behave in ways that are different to our normal ways of behaving? This might mean having ‘time out’ for quiet reflection, to catch our breath, for meditation or just to relax and be still. In this way time out for good behaviour isn’t a reward for being good but a crucial and important way to connect with our own innate goodness, our own inner ‘good/god’ self.
I believe that our need for ‘time out’ is so much more than a need to withdraw from people. It is a need to connect with our own inner spaciousness. The word alone is often misunderstood - it is actually two words ( all one ) rolled into one. To be alone means to be in the place where we are all one, to be whole and reconciled to the Oneness at the heart of life.
We need space because we are space.
Scientists tell us that we are composed of 99.9% space. There is so much more to us than meets the eye. We are all energetic beings and at any one time we are composed both of energy that is unseen (i.e. empty of matter) and energy that appears as solid matter. The energy that is unseen is our spirit energy. Spirit energy is our own inner spaciousness, it is the non-material aspect of our being, the life that we are as opposed to the life that we have. When we can connect with this spacious part of ourselves we find that our lives are enriched with some wonderful qualities - gentleness, peace, joy, love, calmness, kindness and an enduring capacity for inner contentment. These qualities of spirit are vital to our health and well being and yet many of us still find it hard take the ‘time out’ that is necessary in order for us to experience these qualities on a regular basis.
Why is this?
Imagine this. I have in front of me a large sheet of white paper on which I have drawn a black dot in the middle. I show it you and ask, “What do you see?”
What do you think would be your reply?
Chances are you would say – “I see a black dot.”
Why is it that we see the black dot but not the white paper?
News only becomes news because it is out of the ordinary – it is the black dot in the middle of the white page.
War and violence are only worth commenting on because our normal state of living is peaceful.
Crime only makes the headlines because most of us live upright and law abiding lives.
Corruption and dishonesty only makes the news because most of us live honest lives.
Bad news is only news because so much of life is good.
It is the extraordinary that captivates us not the ordinary. Because of this we end up giving large amounts of our attention to what is wrong in the world while paying very little attention to what is good.Many of us have literally become hooked on drama and are unable to function with it!
What we give our attention to becomes our reality because our thoughts are powerful magnets that attract into our lives whatever we are placing our focus on. By the energetic law of attraction the universe relays back to us the things that we focus most intently on.
If we concentrate on the black dot then we will see a world that is black. If we concentrate on the bad news we will see a world that is bad. If we focus on terror then we shouldn't be surprised when we experience terror in our live's in the form of fear, unease, distress etc.
And it’s not just the news that portrays the black spot. Reality TV, soap operas and drama all play their part too. In fact it never ceases to amaze me how we can be enthralled by violence on the big screen and yet abhor it when it turns up in our own back yard! Still we somehow manage to stubbornly refuse to see the connection.
Even adverts have a power all of their own – they give out the message that there is something that we need in order to be happy, healthier, richer, more popular etc. Adverts focus on lack and greed and so have the power to attract these into our lives. Much of popular TV works on our desires for more – more money, more experiences, a new home, a better home, a home in the sun, a better body, a new romance....it goes on and on!
It's a great marketing tool – but we need to be aware of which market we are buying into!
Rather than push the darkness away what would life look like if we embraced it the ways stars embrace the night sky?
Rather than trying to fix our pain what would life look like if we softened to feel it?
If we stopped fighting our pain, our worries, our discontentment, our fears and our disappointments would we find that rather than them engulfing us and destroying us, as we fear they will, we come to see that we are more than them?
Let us think about this for a moment.
Because we are aware of our emotional scars, our physical ailments, our thoughts, our worries, our concerns and our judgements means that there is a part of us that is not them. There is a part of us that is purely aware (conscious) of these things. This part of us that is aware is slightly removed from all of these things; it holds them but it is not them – it is the part of us that is perhaps best described as our spirit, the part of us that witnesses our life but is not affected by it; the part of us that remains pure and untainted by anything that goes on in the physical plane of life.
This is good news because it means that there is apart of us that is always free from judgement, pain, distress, unhappiness, worry and worldly concerns. There is a part that of us that is always unconditionally accepting life without judgement, without fear, without the need to change ALL or ANY of our life’s experiences.
Everything that our minds and bodies experience is held in the gaze of this loving field of awareness. This part of us extends nothing but love (total unconditional acceptance) to ourselves and others without the need for things to be different. The beautiful thing is that when we are able to be in touch with this place and engage in living from this place we find that many of the things we experience as difficult are experienced differently – or at least we perceive and understand them differently. We are able to hold them differently and feel them differently. We are able to live and breathe with them rather than needing to be free from them.
All our pain needs is to be attended to from this place; to be held in love and in being held to be healed. To be healed means to be whole. We cannot be healed if we are ignoring or pushing away even the smallest part of our life’s experiences.
What springs to mind when you think of sparkling things? If you were to make a list I’m pretty sure that diamonds would be somewhere on that list.
Why is it that diamonds sparkle so beautifully when they catch the light?
1. Because of the density of their mass they have the ability to slow down the speed of light –slowing it down to 80,000 miles per second as opposed to 180,000 miles per second for light passing through air.
2. The atoms in diamond molecules are arranged in a tetrahedral shape – this gives them their multi-faceted appearance. Examine closely a faceted diamond and you will see that it absorbs white light and breaks it apart like a prism, dispersing it into a rainbow of colours. Diamonds sparkle and dance with coloured light as each of its facets produces its own dazzling display.
What if we were made to shine like diamonds? What would we need for this sparkle to manifest in our own lives?
Let’s play with this metaphor for a while.
Surely the first requirement would be to allow light to enter us. By light here I mean the Qi energy or Spirit that is always present (pre- sent to us) and which supports our very existence. Our egos will tend to want to block this out with fearful thinking so if we are to sparkle with light then we must be vigilant seeking it out, noticing it and allowing it room to live in us. We must be open to the light and present to it as it appears to us in the moment. We need to stop crowding out the light with our sceptical and cynical thoughts that would be-little the idea of us shining like diamonds. I repeat “We are made to shine.”
Secondly in our bid to shine we must learn to slow light down so that its components – the seven colours of the rainbow (or the seven faces of love) – can be seen and then refracted through us.
Now we have to stretch our imaginations a little here. Obviously we don’t look like diamonds - we don’t have the multi-faceted surface appearance of a diamond that is necessary to refract the light.
However we are multi faceted beings composed of body, mind, spirit, thoughts, emotions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, habits, speech, personality, imagination and intuition and we have the ability to hear, taste, smell, see and touch – all these facets of our humanness have the ability to help us refract light or not. We have a choice here but we can only exercise that choice if we are aware that we have it!
Often our habitual lives run so much on automatic pilot that we forget we can override this by using our free will. It is up to us to discern how to use the many facets of our humanity to help us sparkle and shine and spread the light that is at the core of our existence.
What lights us up? Do we even know any longer? What lights other people up? Do we care enough to find out?
By observing the impact of our lives on ourselves and on others we can begin to discern what is needed to help us spread the light. For example when I express rage, or anger by shouting and hurling abuse at others does this light me up? Does it make the people on the receiving end light up? If I express tenderness and love does this light me up? Do those that receive it light up?
To truly observe ourselves without judgement is the key here. I say without judgement because as soon as our mind brings judgement into the equation then this will weaken our ability to shine. Self inquiry without judgement requires us to slow down so that we can take time to notice what is actually going on for us in the present moment. Slowing down helps us to observe and feel the effects of light within us or the effects of its absence.
There are many tools that can help us with this slowing down and noticing: focusing, meditation, T’ai Chi, yoga, mindfulness, contemplation, relaxation, poetry, chanting. Don’t be afraid to explore them and find out what suits you best. You will know which ones are for you by the way you feel – when you light up like a Christmas tree you can be sure that you are well on the way to being a sparkling diamond in the world.
By the way there’s one more thing you should know about diamonds.
In their raw, uncut state they are quite ordinary in appearance and lack the beauty of the shop sold gemstones that we are most familiar with.
Raw diamonds need attention if they are to be transformed into things of beauty.
So it is for us too. When we attend to that which we consider to be ordinary and mundane within us we are capable of transforming our base humanity into something divinely beautiful.
Wishing you a sparkle filled day!
We can spend so much of our lives sleep walking through life...lost in day dreams, worrying about the future, wondering what we can do to 'save the planet' or improve the lot of mankind that it is no wonder that many of us bemoan the passing of time with a sigh saying 'Where have all the years gone?'
In truth our days pass by in a flash while all too often we are too busy with our thoughts to notice them!
We function much of the time on automatic pilot.Driving, eating, washing the dishes, hanging out the laundry, ironing
surfing the internet,washing, dressing.....all these habitual things we do without the need to even think about them, which leaves our minds free to think about the next thing we might do on our never ending list of things to get through before the end of the day/week/month/year.
This is how we miss so much of life and this is what led WH Davies to write his very famous poem 'Leisure' which I'm sure many of us can identify with.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
If only we could get into the habit of saying, periodically to ourselves throughout the day 'STOP!' (Stop Tuning Out the Present moment)
STOP and breathe
STOP and notice
STOP and feel
STOP and appreciate
STOP and be thankful
STOP and look with seeing eyes
STOP and just BE for a moment.
What wonders might we notice if we were more present to what was actually happening now! What would we see? What would we feel? What would we notice that before we had simply taken for granted? Even stuff we would rather avoid seeing or thinking about can be experienced differently if we just stop and notice it rather than judge it or condemn it.
Einstein once had this to say about life.
'There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle.'
Perhaps if we just 'STOP' for a moment and slow down we may see miracles all around us whereas before we were too lost in our own thoughts to notice them.
I hope you all have a day filled with miracles!
I have seen the ego defined as Edging God Out or Everything Good is Outside. If we have Edged God Out, if goodness is only found outside then what does this leave on the inside? It can only leave the opposite of goodness, which is badness, a sense of something being wrong, not quite right.
Unable to be fully at ease with this we have no option but to push this badness away from ourselves believing that ridding ourselves of badness will somehow make us feel good again. When the badness is outside of us we can look at it and say “Oh there’s badness over there. What a relief it isn’t in me.”
Let’s take a look at how this might work in reality.
The war outside is the war inside. The abuse outside is the abuse inside. You might ask “How am I at war with myself? How have I ever abused myself” Well if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and said “I hate myself” then you’ve been at war with yourself. If you’ve ever inflicted self harm through over eating, drinking to excess or smoking then you’ve abused your body. If you’ve ever called yourself names then you have abused yourself emotionally.
Likewise with acceptance. The lack of acceptance and tolerance outside is a reflection of the lack of acceptance and tolerance inside. If you’ve ever told yourself “there’s something wrong with me; I must change; I have to be different; I can’t accept how I look or the shape I am; I can’t tolerate myself anymore” then your own lack of self acceptance is part of the lack of acceptance we see displayed in others.
If you’ve ever said to yourself “I’m a disgrace; I’m hopeless; I am a waste of space’ then you have criticised and judged yourself. This criticism and judging is the same criticism and judgement that you see outside in the world.
Whenever we see something wrong ‘out there’ then it strikes at our own fear of being wrong ‘in here’. This fear is what stops us from truly reaching out to help other people. Although at some level we want everyone to live happy and fulfilling lives we also don’t want this. We might like to think that we would do our best to help others overcome their problems but quite often this is not true. This is because while we are able to label others as being wrong/flawed/faulty/broken/lost/damaged we are able to disassociate ourselves from this wrongness and disassociating from what is wrong is how our ego copes with its own feelings of not being good enough (because it believes it has Edged Goodness Out).
Our damaged egos will use what’s wrong ‘out there’ as a means to try to address the lack of goodness ‘in here’.
See if you can recognise yourself in any of the following scenarios.
When we compare ourselves to others we either come off better of worse. It we come off worse then things get really interesting. If we perceive someone as doing better than us it can ignite our own insecurities. Often we will accept their success but only to a point. For example.
It’s not uncommon for instance that when we get a spell of good weather in Britain we hear ourselves say things like, “Make the most of it. It won’t last. It’s due to change at the weekend.” It’s as if we can’t totally accept that which is good. Being completely alienated from our own inherent goodness we don’t trust it. We have developed a rather strange relationship with all things good. Its as if the sight of something good ‘out there’ brings up what’s bad ‘in here’ and then we have to push this badness ‘out there’ too where it ends up souring what is good.
How odd this is. Our egos have Edged Goodness Out and yet we also push what’s bad out there too and the result is that we end up feeling somewhat empty, incomplete and unfulfilled. We then spend inordinate amount of energy trying to fill this emptiness............
BUT the good news is that we were never empty in the first place!
We were never disconnected from goodness, not ever, not for one second; goodness has never been outside of us. Goodness is what we are. Even beginning to contemplate this for a moment can make us begin to feel better. We are not separate from goodness; from love; from beauty; from joy; from each other; from anything that we desire – it is just that our minds have been telling us this for so long that we have come to believe this and to embody it as a living truth.
Finding ways to restore our relationship with goodness, to make our goodness feel real and to live it out in our lives is the next step forward for mankind.
It is a big step but it can be broken down into many little steps. Rumi told us that there are ‘101 ways to kneel and kiss the ground’ and it is up to us to begin to discover what this means for each of us on an individual level.
These are exciting times to be alive.
As always I invite comments.......let's grow together.
When we look into a mirror what do we see - the reflection of ourselves of course.
But what if the whole world was a mirror and when we looked into it we saw a mirror image of ourselves reflected right back at us?
In this way what we see outside is reflection of what is on the inside of us. To see how this might look in practice read my blog 'Keeping ourselves right by making others wrong'
The war out there becomes the war in here.
The conflict out there becomes the conflict in here.
The abuse out there becomes the abuse in here.
The judgement out there becomes the judgement in here.
The lack of respect, understanding and acceptance out there is a mirror of the very same thing in here.
Jesus understood this when he implored us to take a look at the plank in our own eye rather than to keep trying to remove the speck from someone else’s eye. Like Ghandi he knew if we wanted change we must be willing to 'be the change.'
Why is it that when we look outside of ourselves we see ourselves looking back at us?
We as humans seem to suffer from a deep unquestioned belief that something is wrong with us. This belief was was a consequence of our fall from grace – or in more scientific terms a consequence of our evolution into animals gifted with self awareness.
Deep in our bones we know that we are inherently good - made in the exact image of the God Energy (good energy) that created us but we have forgotten this.
We have become lost in the illusion of ourselves as separate from that goodness and therefore lacking in some way.
This sense of something not being quite right is the essential wound inflicting mankind.
When we are wounded we hurt. Sometimes that hurt is so painful that we cannot live with it. Because the thought that we are lacking in some way goes against the grain of who we know ourselves to be deep down we must push the painful thought away from ourselves so that we can breathe easily again.
This is called behaving self righteously. It is how we make ourselves right by pushing our wrongness away from ourselves and letting it land outside of us. Then what was a fault inside us becomes a fault inside ‘the other person’ and has nothing to do with us!
In this way the fault we rejected in ourselves in the first place we now reject in others. This is how division is caused – in relationships, in families, between friends and between countries and nations.
The fault, no matter where it is found is still unacceptable.
This leads humanity into dangerous waters. Since we cannot fully accept others and we cannot fully accept ourselves where is there left to go?
‘There is nowhere else to go
for nowhere is now here
in this moment’
In truth this moment is all we ever have but we are unable to fully accept it because of our perception that there is something wrong with it. We perceive life as a problem that needs to be sorted out and we won’t allow ourselves to rest until we have it all sorted. We live our lives imagining that some day things will be better and we work incessantly towards that end.
But what if life is not faulty in the first place?
What if the fault as we perceive it, whether it be inside us or outside us is not actually a fault at all but rather a song that is haunting us for a good reason?
What if that perceived lack is only a thought and not the absolute truth after all.
What if it has no more substance than a fleeting cloud floating across the vast expanse of sky?
If this is true where does that leave us? What do we get to do with our lives if we aren’t fixing things? If we aren’t following the latest drama about what is wrong with the world then what would preoccupy our minds..... (Supposing that our minds are meant to be preoccupied!!!) ?
Let’s just sit with this idea that there is nothing wrong with the world and see where it takes us.
What if the only thing that is wrong with the world is our thinking that there is something wrong with it and the subsequent thought that tells us that we need to fix it.
Needing to fix things means we are unable to accept life as it presents (gifts) itself to us in the present moment. Life as it presents now in all its complexity, is a gift. It is a gift because it offers us all an invitation, minute by minute, to wake up from the fixed, rigid mindset that has us trapped in the belief that something is wrong.
Life is always good. It is our disconnected minds that tell us otherwise. It is the thought that we need to fix things that is the cause of our unease.
What would happen if instead of fixing life we accepted it?
If instead of rejecting the gift we accepted it?
Whatever is here now, whatever is presenting itself as life in this moment is what must be accepted because it is what is. It is life as it is. Anything else doesn’t exist as yet.
Acceptance does not mean that we say we are okay with everything that is going on in the world or that we can’t respond to our desire to see things grow.
After all few among us would accept that a rose bud would never blossom into a rose or that a seed would never grow into flower.
Acceptance is the very thing that allows growth to occur.
Acceptance leads us to a place where a better world is created because it opens a pathway which leads to a new way of behaving and relating to each other.
When we see horrible things happening we want to sort them out. But sorting them out, out there, never gets at the root of the problem in here. It fixes things for the time being or it shifts the problem somewhere else for a time. But the basic problem of perception is still there - the belief that something is wrong with us is still there and this perpetuates the problem that there is something out there that is wrong and must be made right or removed. Thus the cycle of fixing continues. We go round and round in circles not getting anywhere.
The mythical somewhere where everything is ‘as is should be’ never materialises.
The good news is that it is already here it’s just that our eyes are blinded and cannot see.
Acceptance is the way forward.
We need to accept that it is only our thinking that tells us there is something wrong with us.
We need to accept that what we think becomes embedded as a feeling inside us.
We need to accept that feeling without elaborating on it, without believing it to be the sum of who we are, without strengthening it with more faulty thinking.
We need to look within and be present (be with) what ever we find there without moving to change it, fix it, diminish it or alter it in any way. Just be with it. This is simple but not easy.
When we accept our thoughts, our feelings and our emotions and give them room to be, rather than push them away from us we find that they are suddenly transformed. They appear as the temporary thing that they are. There is no real substance to them.
Sitting with our uncomfortable feelings helps us to realise (make real) the truth that they are held in place by something larger. They are held by our presence; our essence, our divine nature. Acceptance leads us to feel the vastness of who we are, body, mind and spirit.
In this way we get in touch with the ground of our being; with the love that is at the core of our being; with the love that we are; with our spirit that unfolds as matter.
Our minds want to tell us that we are what we think, that we are our emotions and our reactions but our feeling body tells us something different.
It tells us that we are the space that allows thoughts and feelings to come and go.
Knowing ourselves as this space is crucial because it alters how we see and perceive our own human form. Experiencing ourselves as more than our limited thoughts and feeling the ground of our own goodness allows us to accept ourselves as we are.
Without the thought that we are no good there is nothing to push away from ourselves. Rather knowing that we are good, we are enough, we are divine allows the thought to grow that tells us ‘If I am this then you must be too’. This is a thought that is uniting rather than dividing. It is a thought that joins us together.
United we stand divided we fall.
When we relate to each other beyond ego in this way a new world is born. When we know with our minds and believe in our bodies that we are divine, god energy appearing as matter – that we are good, safe, loved, enough, strong, beautiful, wise and eternally alive then there is nothing to get defensive about anymore. We can simply let any thought to the contrary evaporate into thin air as it passes through us rather than becoming lodged in us.
When I can sit with my own perfect imperfection then I can sit with yours too. The result is harmony because neither of us is trying to fix or change the other. This is deep acceptance. It is the unconditional love that frees us to discover who we truly are beyond the faulty mindset we have grown up with and which has so far come to falsely define us.
Beginning to practice deep acceptance is the way that we begin to know ourselves differently, the way that we begin to know others differently and the way that we begin to experience life differently.
Through deep acceptance a new world will be born.
It seems we have a lot to learn from the animal kingdom.
The animal body is well equipped with an intelligence all of its own. It knows it needs food and how to get food, it knows how to convert that food into energy; it knows it needs rest and sleep, it knows it needs to reproduce and care for its young, and it knows it needs to keep itself safe from predators. The animal body has an inbuilt intelligence that allows it to live and stay alive; to take its part as a member of this thing we call life.
The animal, without the ability to think, can trust its body to take care of all that it needs in order to survive and enjoy the feeling and sensation of being alive.
If an animal meets with danger it trusts that its body has its own mechanisms for dealing with that danger. When danger comes the body kicks into either fight or flight response, releasing hormones to enable them to fight the danger or run from it. When the danger has passed the animal can return to rest as all the increased energy of the arousal state has been released in the fighting or the running.
If the danger is too great and the fight is not effective in dealing with the threat then the animal might instinctively choose to use the freeze response and literally play dead. In this way the animal prepares to either minimize the impact of death or if the danger passes it can wake up from the freeze response, shake off the arousal energy that is still housed in its body and move on to live life normally again until the next time a threat is detected.
In the human world we have an animal body that shares these very same survival strategies. However the problem for us humans is that as our species has evolved and developed a rational mind we have lost touch with our instinctual bodies and no longer rely on the felt bodily sense to alert us to danger. Nowadays we are just as likely to rely on our thinking mind to alert us to threats even to the extent of over riding our gut instincts. However our thinking minds are not as reliable as we have been led to believe.
With the development of the thinking brain we as animals have been given the ability to become self aware. This awareness of our selves as different and distinct from other life forms has pulled us away from the felt sense of belonging to the natural world and led us to a place where we believe we are separate from it.
Believing this in our minds and yet somehow still sensing in our bodies that this is not so has led to a fragmented sense of self and an overall sense that something is wrong.
An over dependence on thinking has had a traumatic effect on the human race. It has led us astray and into a world mindset that has concluded that we are alone, separate and vulnerable; easy prey to all manner of things that are 'out there' and that somehow, at a deep level we are lacking and incomplete in some mysterious and incomprehensible way.
Seeing ourselves as vulnerable and alone has led us to a place where we believe our life's purpose to be solely about protection and survival; that and puzzling out what is wrong with us, what is missing and what has to be done about it! All of this has created huge stress on the human race, stress that has resulted in our bodies living in almost perpetual states of arousal either fighting or fleeing life, or when these two strategies don't work freezing in response to it all.
Evidence of this is seen all around us in our speech, our mannerisms, our behaviours, the way we respond to the environment we live in and the thoughts that fill our minds.
For example a lot of us seem to spend our days in fight mode. Consider this list of common ways the fight mode presents itself.
We fight the flab; we fight cancer; we fight heart disease; we fight for justice; we fight for equality; we fight for the right to speak our minds; we fight for the right to be seen and heard; we fight our corner; we enter the battle of the sexes and the battle of the bulge; we fight for freedom; we fight for peace; we go to war against terrorism; we war against poverty; we battle away through our endless 'to do' lists; we fight back our tears; we fight our natural instincts; we fight to stay awake; we fight against falling sleep; we battle for various causes, we battle the elements, we battle through the day, we fight the good fight with all of our might; we struggle on regardless of what our bodies are telling us they need.
Our minds tell us that there is no rest for the wicked and we believe them!
Even if we are not fighting we are often in a state of resistance; resisting life as it appears to us in the moment. We can spend inordinate amounts of time stuck in future based fantasy thinking or else reminiscing about the past or simply resisting what is happening in this moment by telling ourselves that things should be different; they should be different; life isn't meant to be like this; this shouldn't be happening and generally complaining and moaning bout the unfairness of life as we see it.
Some us, rather than fight enter running mode. We prefer to deny the reality of the world around us, minimize the challenges we face in our lives, avoid them or pretend things are not so bad. We convince ourselves that there is nothing to worry about; we laugh things off or we withdraw from the harsh realities of life and choose to live instead in a bubble world removed from the things that bother us. Often we choose to disassociate with the difficult things of life and project them away from ourselves, believing they are 'not my problem' and leaving things for others to sort out.
If all else fails we freeze. Unable to cope with the pressures of living in the reality that we find ourselves in we enter a coma like state; we become uninterested in life; we feel helpless to know what to do; we sink into despair; we can't be bothered to do anything; we say things like 'it's just the way it is' and shrug our shoulders with a resigned helplessness. We adopt a victim mentality in which we passively succumb to whatever life may bring us. Many of us are so overwhelmed by the so called problems of life that getting through each day is enough of a struggle for us as it is. Many of us suffer from a serious lack of energy and vitality. Far from being vibrant and full of life we are drained of vital life energy and consequently vulnerable to depression and despondency.
Most of us go through life moving between these three survival states. I know I have.
But is surviving life the same as living life?
Is surviving the same as thriving?
I don't think so.
The human race is stuck in a seemingly never ending cycle that is set to end in our destruction as a species unless we can find a way to live our lives in a more peaceful and sustaining way. Breaking free from the endless cycle of stress we place on ourselves is crucial to this.
History has a tendency to repeat itself. We can all see evidence of this in the world and if we are honest with ourselves perhaps we will see this at play in our own lives too. Have you ever wondered why it is that you are always having accidents? Always choosing the wrong partner? Always the one getting hurt? Always having recurrent bouts of illness? Always ending up in a dead end job? Always ending up with no money no matter how much you earn? Losing weight only to regain it?
It seems like there is some force stemming from our subconscious that keeps offering us a second (and third/fourth/fifth) chance to resolve our difficulties. This is known as re-enactment and is another survival mechanism meant to help us find means to release the arousal energy of the stress response that is still housed within us. Despite what we think we are meant to live peaceful lives that are full of enjoyment. It is only our disturbed minds that tell us otherwise.
When an animal releases energy in the fight of flight response his environment is then threat free until the next predator attack. If an animal lives through the freeze response it shakes of the arousal energy and is again able to live threat free until the next attack.
We however are not so lucky.
Either we can't expend our arousal energy in the fight or flight because there is never actually a physical fight in which the energy can be released or if we live through the freeze response we awake only to find ourselves still stuck in a threatening environment and so the stress response is still there. When this is the case the pent up energy cannot be released because we need a safe place to release it in and our world is not perceived as safe.
Because we are stuck believing that the world has to change before we can be safe to discharge our pent up energy we have no alternative but to stay stuck in the patterns of survival behaviour that are the only coping mechanism our stress filled bodies have of negotiating threats.
But there is a better way. A way that does not leave us merely coping with life but actually being free to enjoy it.
We can thrive and not merely survive.
The way out of endlessly re-acting out our lives drama's is to learn to renegotiate life; to bring in something new; to learn to respond to life rather than react to it.
This renegotiation is our awakening from the mind induced sleep that has kept us locked in an ego driven, illusory world that is slowly driving us all mad.
It is time to awaken my friends and to explore what this might mean, how it might be achieved, what it will look like and more importantly how it might feel. After all living a peaceful, joyful life is essentially experienced in the body and as we have just discovered our stressed out bodies are longing for this. It is the birthright of everyone to feel this as bodily truth rather than just thinking it to be true.
As it has been said, 'If you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you've always got'. So now is the time to do something different. As Ghandi was fond of saying we must be the change we want to see in the world'.
This is the challenge of our time. It starts here with you and me. Will you journey with me as we explore what it means to awaken to life?
Please share your thoughts/insights. I'd love to hear from you.
Can you remember back to your school days when you used to receive a new notebook at the beginning of term and although you knew you had to fill the book with your work you were petrified to make the first mark on the clean white page in case you made a mistake?
Often our lives mirror this. In our fear of getting life wrong we are hesitant to make a mark on the page. Often we censor what gets written or try to hide or camouflage what we are writing. Sometimes we live in limbo stuck between our desires to live and actually getting on with the task of living. Frightened to make a move in case we make a mistake or get things wrong we can let fear rule our lives but the beauty and joy of life is that the White Page doesn’t mind what you write on it so long as you write something!
Why else are you here?
The White Page will quite happily welcome anything you write and in this respect the White Page is your greatest friend although we don’t always see it that way.
The White Page, being a place of no- thing longs to experience everything. The White Page is not interested in filtering out experiences – it is open and accepting of them all. No experience, thought, behaviour, belief, mistake or success is excluded or banned from the page. The White Page is free from prejudice or judgement – it is the holder of your entire story and everything you experience is met with the same kindness, acceptance and good grace that are the hall marks of the White Page. You are free to make as many mistakes as you wish, have as many crossings out as you can make, spell things wrong, make grammatical errors and even to spread blots of ink across the page. Nothing is unacceptable. There will be no red pen marks across the page. No one is marking your work!
You can even colour outside the lines!
We are always the author of our own lives but we are either an unconscious author or a conscious one! When we are unconscious we write our story without attention to the beauty and purity of the White Page and our stories reflect this. When we write consciously with awareness of the White Page then our stories read differently.
The White Page gives us the gift of life and it is not just given as a one off gift it is presented anew to us in each and every moment of our lives. It is always available for us to write our story upon. Even when the current story we are writing comes to an end and the letters, words and pictures that we have created fade away there will still be the White Page. We will still be alive with energy and waiting for the next installment of life.
This is the beauty and joy at the heart of our lives. It’s such good news that surely we should all be dancing and singing, full to the brim with the joy of life? Surely we should all be full of excitement about the adventure of life that we find ourselves in?
Try this MEDITATION
Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start. Let’s open the book, the book of your life and go on a journey. Let’s turn the pages and trace the thread of the words backwards through the book until we come to the place where there are no words to read anymore and we arrive at a totally blank page.
This page is you before the story of your life began.
Take a minute to look at the page in front of you. Can you see how beautiful you are? Can you see how new and clean and white you are? How innocent? Can you see how precious this white page is, how full of promise it is? Can you see yourself in all your purity?
The white page is an enticing place, it appears empty but it is full of potential; full of possibilities. It is full of a subtle, vibrant energy that is ripe for expression. The white page is waiting for you to bring this energy to life through the creation of your story.
Without your story the white page, although it can feel its own energy cannot know what this energy is. It cannot know its own ‘whiteness’ without something to relate that whiteness too. This is where you come in. When you begin to write your story you bring the page alive and a wonderful adventure begins.
We call this the adventure of life.Welcome!
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.