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!
This is a GUEST BOG on Steven Aitchinson's site. Read it here:
'I've got an emptiness deep inside...and I try but it won't let me go' (Neil Diamond)
‘Do whatever it takes to feel the kiss, for this
is what you came here for
to know yourself as the beloved of God
and to spend your time kissing the world awake’
You may want to read this blog alongside my related blog: THE KISS OF GOD
What does it take to feel a kiss?
A willingness to receive it?
A sensitivity to touch?
An awareness of what the kiss is conveying?
Kisses are about love and to feel the ultimate love of God breathing our world alive, we must first align our lives with love.
The kiss of life is a gentle caress. To feel it we must receive it in the manner in which it was given. We must become ourselves as gentle as the kiss, as soft, as loving, as caring, as free, as gracious, as joyful, as generous.
If we are hardened, embittered, cold, unfeeling, resentful, ungrateful, unreceptive, callous, cynical – if we are any of these things then it will be almost impossible to feel the kiss of life breathing us alive each day. A gentle embrace cannot be felt through layers of hardness and while we do not feel the kiss of God we remain convinced that we live outside of it, somehow separate from the Source of life and therefore somewhat lacking in and of ourselves.
I believe we need to soften and give ourselves opportunities to feel the subtle, gentle kiss of God.
‘Do whatever it takes to feel the kiss.’
Just what might this look like in practise?
Here are a few examples.
Only by knowing ourselves as love are we able to give out love.
To some extent we all carry a memory of ourselves as being love otherwise we would not be able to love at all, in any way, shape or form. The fact that the world has not crumbled into total chaos and destruction is testimony to the fact that the human race is essentially good. However our ability to express and give love is often far more restricted than it need be. Often we love only partially. We reserve love for the chosen few and find ourselves unable to love those who do not meet with our approval. We often love conditionally rather than unconditionally, attaching strings to our loving. Worrying about whether it is safe to love we love timidly rather than courageously, half heartedly rather than with our whole heart, we hold back and often wonder whether it is a good idea to love at all.
If we perceive that someone is unloving towards us we withdraw our love from them in an attempt to minimise the pain we feel.
We love inconsistently rather than consistently.
If we are to ever begin to love more consistently and fully then we must commit to rediscovering the truth about who we are as beings of love. The extent to which we can hold kindness, love, beauty, peace, gentleness, compassion, joy, and truth within us as expressions of that which we are, is directly proportionate to the extent to which we can give these qualities to the world.
The good news is that it is fun discovering who we really are. It is a wonderful feeling to begin to open your heart to love, to begin to remove the barriers to feeling that we have erected and held in place for so long. Taking them down is so less stressful than keeping them in place. Once down we feel how beautiful it is to sit in the ‘soft, green, beauty of the open field’ and to breathe in the fresh air rather than the cold, stale air that our own prisons have provided us with.
I leave you with these lovely words from Rumi
‘There is a kiss we want with our whole lives
The touch of spirit on the body’
I encourage you to do whatever it takes to feel this kiss.
I came across a story recently that I believe has great value for us all.
It is a story about four rabbi's who one night were visited by an angel. The angel took them to Heaven where they viewed all things sacred. Having experienced bliss first hand they then returned to earth, each responding in their own ways to what they had witnessed whilst in Heaven.
Here are the four responses:
SO what can we learn from this story?
It is a simple lesson really.
No matter when, where or how we experience bliss it is a gift given to us to enhance our lives here on earth.
It is NOT something to analyse, to probe, to understand, nor is it something to hold onto too tightly or even something to preach about. Primarily it is something that awakens our capacity to be grateful, that deepens our appreciation of life and expands our sense of wonder and joy in living.
So today I am adopting this joyful attitude and I am rejoicing and giving thanks and praise for the good things I have been given; things such as the breath in my body, the gift of my senses, the quiet dark that supports my sleep and the morning light that wakes me, the first meal of the day, the song of the blackbird, small touches of kindness that come my way, the smile of a friend, the anticipation of what the day might bring....
I encourage you to join me and to make your own list; to revel in the feeling of joy that it brings you.
If you feel like sharing then I would love to hear from you. I believe joy is contagious so lets spread it where we can.
Recently a piece of homework, set by the tutor of a poetry class I am attending brought home to me how much of life we miss simply through lack of attention.
At first I must admit that I began the task a little reluctantly but soon I found myself to be completely absorbed in the art of looking and listening to the sights and sounds of life all around me.
What started off as an exercise in creative writing turned out to be so much more as I was filled with an unexpected feeling of total joy. Too often our lives become so cluttered with thoughts about life that there is little room left to appreciate the simple pleasures of being alive.
Too easily we can spend our days lost in a haze of future plans and/or worries and concerns about life that the beauty and wonder of even having a life in the first place is overlooked.
Being mindful, that is filling our minds with what is happening in the present moment, is a deeply refreshing alternative to being lost in thought and is the best way I know of to develop an appreciative response to life.
Days after completing my homework I find that I am still being drawn to notice things in more detail: the deep blue of the delphiniums in the garden, the arc of wisteria climbing the wall, the sparrows nibbling at the bird feeder, the sound of children’s laughter drifting over the garden fences, the vast expansiveness of the sky, the scent of jasmine, the cuckoo's song.........and amongst all this a gentle and pervasive sense of being a part of it all.
The words of a well know poem by W.H Davies comes to mind:
‘What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?’
My advice is simple – make time to stand and stare....and then perhaps share with others what has caught your attention?
Hands of Grace 08/14/2013
Have you ever felt guided by something that is greater than yourself? Have you ever experienced coming across the right book at exactly the right time or received a phone call from your best friend just when you seemed to need it most? Have you ever had an e-mail arrive in your in box with just the right message for you that day? Have you ever experienced the synchronicity of happenings where things just seem to fall into place and the path before you, which was previously cluttered and overgrown, is suddenly clearly revealed?
Sometimes it’s as if there is a pair of hands working behind the scenes helping to direct the course of our lives. We aren’t always aware of these ‘hands of grace’ helping and guiding us but sometimes their influence on our lives is so obvious that we cannot help but take notice of what it is they are placing in front of us.
Recently a series of ‘coincidences’ has led me to sit up and take notice of these guiding hands.
Because I am soon to be involved in running a quiet day where the theme is about weaving I had felt drawn to re-read a book that I had read for the first time a few years ago. The book was ‘Unravelled’ by Maria Housden. This book, aptly titled, seemed to take on a life of its own and began an unravelling a thread in my own life that I couldn’t resist following.
Usually whenever I discover something that thrills me as much as this work does I am disappointed to discover that all the tantalizing workshops organised by these amazing people happen in America and because of this time and cost prohibit me from attending them.
Not so here.
I was amazed and overjoyed to discover that Chloe is based in Britain and that there is no real obstacle to me beginning to explore the possibility of working with her.
I absolutely know that I am being called deeper into voice work and particularly the vocal expression of poetry. I know that htis is where my deeper healing lies. This both terrifies and excites me. It terrifies me because I do not know where it will take me and I fear what it may ask of me. However I am a great believer in the 'take the one next step' approach when it comes to moving forward on our journey of self discovery. The one next step is not as daunting as taking a bigger leap and landing somewhere you are not sure you want to be!
So the next step for me is as simple as purchasing a CD and beginning my voice work in the comfort of my own home - not that difficult surely?
Beyond that I don't know at this point in time - just keep watching this space!
For today I just wanted to give thanks for the hands of grace that have pointed me in the direction of these amazing people and their inspirational work in the world. I am so grateful.
Have you any experiences to share about the hands of grace at work in your life? If so please leave a comment.
According to science every thing that appears to be made of solid matter is in truth composed of moving energy that vibrates with its own unique vibrational signature and that includes us as human beings.
The universe has its own, perfect sound or to put it more poetically, its own song. Everything that exists does so as part of this song.
When we sing in harmony with this song we feel good; we feel alive, vibrant and in tune with the world around us. When we sing in tune with the universal song our lives have meaning and purpose and we are given all that we need to fulfil this purpose.
Sadly though for many of us these feelings are all too rare. Rather than feel energised we all too often feel drained, out of sorts, unbalanced and unclear about our purpose in life. This can happen even to the best of us at some point in our lives.
Learning to sing in tune with the universal song, as often and as consistently as we can, is what our lives are all about.
Consider this ancient tribal custom:
When women in a certain African tribe know that they are pregnant they go out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of their child. When they attune to the song they sing it out loud, return to the village and teach it to everyone else.
When the child is born the community gathers together and sings the child’s song to him or her. They do the same at major transition times of the child’s life; at every rite of passage the child hears their own unique song. Finally when the soul is to pass from this world family and friends gather together and they sing the person to the next life.
There is one other occasion upon which the community sing to the child and that is when they have committed a crime. The individual is called to the centre of the village and the villager’s form a circle around them and sing their song to them. The tribe recognises that love and remembrance of who you really are is the only solution to anti social behaviour.
When a person recognises their own song they have no desire to do any harm towards another person.
Do you know your song?
Do you know people who can help you sing it when you have forgotten it?
Do you know how to help yourself remember it?
Oriah Mountain Dreamer tells us that there is 'one word you are here to say with your whole being'. This word is your song; your own unique sound.
There are many ways to help us rediscover this word and find our own unique contribution to the song of the universe. Here is just one.
All you will need is a pen and a piece of paper.
Take time to think back over your life.
Make a list of all the jobs you have done and what drew you to those jobs. What were the best bits about the job? What other jobs or careers were you attracted to even if you never pursued them? What were you interested in as a child and what were/are your favourite hobbies and pastimes? Can you remember times when you felt particularly energised, uplifted, enthusiastic, passionate or inspired? What was going on then? Who were you with? What were you thinking? What do you dislike most about the world we live in? What fires you up? How have other people described you in the past? Make a note of these. Sometimes other people see things in us that surprise us and that we never realised where there at all.
When you have done all this try to see if you can see a common thread running through your life. This should be something that jumps out at you without too much poking and prodding. When you do this you might be surprised at how seemingly unrelated things in your life show a great deal of commonality.
Make a note of these areas of common interest.
They might include: creativity; communication; supporting others; facilitation; leadership; caring; teaching; learning; playing; observing; listening; giving; mediation; instructing; sharing; motivating; entertaining; relating; supervising; challenging
Look for qualities too: gentleness; strength; playfulness; humour; kindness; compassion; peacefulness; gregariousness; shyness; truthfulness; quietness; resilience; patience; forthrightness; boldness; courage; acceptance;
These are all keys to your own unique song; to your own unique contribution to the Universal song.
There is a way to explore these further through personality profiling which gives you insights into your own unique expression as a human being. Personally I recommend exploring your personality through the Myers Briggs Indicator and/or the Enneagram both of which help to highlight not only your strengths and gifting but also the things that habitually stop you from experiencing them and thus from singing your own song.
There is great fun and joy in unravelling the mystery of who you are but remember that love and fear reside in us all and yet it is only love that harmonises with the universal song.
‘I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.’
Fear gives rise to disharmony and love to harmony.
Fear makes you sing off key; love enables you to sing with confidence and in tune with all of creation.
Are you ready to start singing?
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.