Beyond thought, imagination
Beyond matter, spirit
Beyond knowledge, wisdom
Beyond sight, vision
Beyond limitation, freedom
Beyond restriction, space
Beyond fear, love
Beyond belief, truth
Beyond whom you thought you were
the wonder of who you are
Beyond the impossible, all possibilities shimmer
and lay themselves bare before you
There is another life beyond the ordinary life that we encounter each day. It is a life that is strong, resilient, permanent, faithful, and consistent. It is the Life that supports all life. It is the Source Life. All things originate from this Life. All sound comes from this Life. All movement originates in its stillness. This Life is non judgemental. It supports all things. It allows you to be you and me to be me. It has no expectations from either of us. It has no preference for either one of us. It doesn’t treat anyone of us humans differently but shows up consistently for us all day in day out. This Life doesn’t condone one type of behaviour over another nor does it judge one type of behaviour better than another – everything is allowed to exist and be just as it is
This is the life referred to in the song Over the Rainbow, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow way up high there’s a land that we dreamed of once in a lullaby' ...a land where the 'dreams that you dare to dream really do come true’.
This is the place Rumi talks about when he writes ‘beyond ideas of right and wrong there is a field I’ll meet you there’. This field Rumi talks about is an energy field; the field of pure Love energy that neither condemns nor judges; labels or corrects. This energetic field is the pure creative energy that brought all life into existence. This Life accommodates all it has created – nothing is excluded. This Source Life is totally inclusive in nature. It is Holy in the sense that it is whole – nothing is separate from it, nothing is disallowed. This Life is the very ground of our being.
Yet why can’t we feel this Life?
Why can’t we incorporate this Life into our everyday life?
Why does it feel so remote, so difficult to reach?
Why do we doubt its existence?
The answer is simple – we don’t allow ourselves to become still enough or quiet enough to feel it. Chloe Goodchild of The Naked Voice talks about the Deep Listening that Rumi says, ‘is a greeting from the secret ones inside.’
Deep Listening is listening from the heart; it’s listening with a felt sense to the deep Life beyond this life.
Have you ever noticed how when things go wrong in our world we tend to fall silent? We know instinctively that to try and understand our lives we need space to do so. We give ourselves space by being still and silent. We call this giving ourselves time to think or space to think in. We need to cultivate this space in order to feel the impact that our daily life is having on our ability to live fully from the heart, in the way that we intuitively feel we were meant to live. In truth we need space not so much for thinking but for feeling; for feeling our connection to soul or Spirit, to all that is good in this world.
If we allow ourselves to cultivate stillness when times are good as well as bad then we may find that the Source Life has much to teach us.
I have to keep reminding myself of all this because all too often I fall into the trap of ignoring the Deeper Life and the rich gentle wisdom it offers us.
I all too easily get side tracked away from the Deep Life. I become too busy to pay it any attention. I become too preoccupied with the myriad of trivial daily traumas that stress me out. Then peace eludes me and I can’t settle. In this unsettled state I cannot think clearly or act calmly.
In this unsettled state I am often irrational, judgemental and over emotional. Without the benefit of feeling the reality of the Deeper Life I act from my small, weaker, less secure self and often this leads to defensive behaviour and a need to protect myself from everyone and everything around me. Needless to say those nearest and dearest to me are in adversely affected by this.
It takes courage to admit that I fall short of many of the things that I have come to see and believe to be true. I feel like a fraud writing about the Deeper Life when all too often its peace, joy and unconditional love are not manifested in my own life. My ego is quick to jump in and tell me that I am wrong, that there is no such thing as the Deep Life or that if there is it is for those people that are better than me - the saints and gurus of this world.
My ego loves to tell me that I have failed in my quest to seek this Deeper Life and it implores me to give up the search.
Yet just because I don’t fully manifest the beauty of the Deep Life consistently in my own life doesn’t mean that I have failed. I hear the call to live from the depths and I respond but my humanness is real too and if I am to be authentic I must acknowledge that there is no easy way to reach the rich depths of the Deep Life.
Deep listening is not always easy. It demands attention to detail, concentration, determination, perseverance and commitment to what has been called the ‘Narrow way’.
‘Often we must pass through the eye of a needle or else come to rest in the eye of a storm’ I wrote in one of my poems. Another poem advises ‘so too with joy/if you want to feel it/you must pass through your own sorrow’. It seems that I write about that which I need to embody deep within my own life.
The Deep Life can seem mysterious and yet it is accessed through the mundane and ordinary. The rich, fertile world of the Deep Life is reached through our pain, our disappointments, our hardships and uncertainties, the ups and downs of our daily living. It is reached as much through the times when we want to give up and the times when we question what life is all about as it is through the triumphant times.
Responding to the Deep Life is often messy and confusing. Yet still in the quiet, in the stillness the Deep Life is gentle, loving, supportive and infinitely kind – to me and to all the people who inhabit this world.
Feeling this kindness is what sets us free to create a life of kindness for ourselves and others.
Feeling this kindness as often as we can is all that truly matters.
“I miss my paintings” was a comment that my elderly father made during a long spell in hospital and looking around at the bare walls of the ward he was on I could see why. Back at home my fathers walls were covered in art work yet here there was nothing beautiful for him to gaze upon.
Hospitals do a lot for us when we are ill but they are functional, clinical and sterile places – there is little to be found there to feed our souls.
My fathers comment got me thinking about the role of beauty in our lives.
Something inside us warms to beauty. We are drawn to it. We seek it out. We long for it. When we find it we want to stay near it; we want to wrap ourselves up in it and linger there in this safe place for a while.
Intuitively we connect with beauty in a mystifying way. Perhaps this is because when we see beauty it resonates with the beauty that is within us? Perhaps beauty reminds us of what we have long forgotten – that each one of us is beautiful at heart.
Beauty is restful, uplifting, and joyous. When we see beauty it brings out the beautiful in us. Like responds to like. Beauty makes us more beautiful. In the presence of beauty we behave more beautifully. Beauty ignites appreciation; it fosters awe and wonder and mystery. Beauty helps us to connect with our souls and not just with our minds. Beauty is beautifully healing – in its presence our fears subside and love rises.
The wonderful Irish writer John O’Donohue tells us that what we gaze upon we bring into ourselves. When we gaze on beauty we bring beauty into ourselves. And not just beauty all the things that are associated with it too – joy, love, peace, calm, contentment. In this way we are replenished, restored, revived.
Beauty is the perfect antidote for stress and yet how many of us give beauty a priority in our lives?
For instance what is the first thing we connect with when we wake in the morning?
How many of us start our days with something beautiful?
More than likely we do battle with busyness, juggling chores, seeing to the kids, rushing off to work without regard for our need for beauty. Or else we switch on the television or read newspapers that fill our minds with mundane things, idle gossip, news reports, the crises of the world, daily weather reports and a general doom and gloom picture of the world we live in. Worse still in this era of 24/7 news quite often our day not only starts and ends with distressing news images but we receive regular inputs of them throughout the day as well.
Where does all this leave us?
Where is the room for beauty in our lives?
How often throughout our day do we touch base with beauty?
These are helpful questions.
Do we ever give priority to gazing at the morning sky, listening to uplifting music, appreciating the beauty of our gardens, noticing the smile of a loved one, reading a beautiful poem, savouring the smell of a rose or quietly listening to the sound of our own breathing and marvelling at the feeling of being alive?
"Keep something beautiful in your heart" says John O’Donohue and this is good advice because we can only give out what we take in. If we do not take in beauty then we have no beauty to give out.
One thing for sure when we come to the end of our lives it will not be to world affairs that we turn for comfort. Nor will it be the state of our bank accounts, the latest celebratory gossip, concerns about the decor of our homes, advice on the best value holidays this year or what the latest fashion trend is. It will certainly not be to news reports of war, violence, cruelty and injustice.
NO in our last hours here on earth it will be to beauty that we turn for our comfort – art, paintings, music, poetry, touch, song, nature, friendship and love - these will be our longed for companions as we leave this world.
Let us not wait until we are dying or are seriously ill before we realise that these are the things we cannot live without.
So take some time to think - what is it that you need to do today to feel more beautiful?
Begin your journey by making a list of all the things that you can do to bring more beauty into your life RIGHT NOW, and commit to doing at least one of them each day.
Wishing you all a beauty filled day.
Carrots, Eggs and Coffee
'A young woman complained to her mother that she was sick of all the difficulties and hardships in her life. She said she was tired of fighting and struggling all the time and that she didn’t know if she could continue to live this way.
In response her mother took her into the kitchen where she proceeded to fill three pans full of boiling water. Into the first she put some carrots, in the second she put some eggs and in the third she placed some ground coffee beans. She let them all boil for 20 minutes without saying a word and then she placed the carrots in a bowl, the eggs in another bowl and the coffee into a jug. She then asked her daughter what she saw. “Carrots, eggs and coffee” the daughter replied.
The mother then asked her daughter to feel the carrots; her daughter did as she was asked and told her mother that they felt soft. Her mother then asked her to peel the egg and feel it; again the daughter did as she was told telling her mother that the egg felt hard. Finally the mother asked her daughter to taste the coffee and her daughter did so commenting that it tasted rich and delicious. “But what does all this mean?” she asked.
Her mother then went on to explain.
She said that each of these objects had faced the same adversity and yet each had reacted differently. The carrot went in strong and hard but came out weak and soft; the egg had gone in fragile but had ended up hard however the coffee after facing the boiling water had actually changed the water.'
When I first read this story I was unsure what to think of it but as I sat with it I realised that it was a story about conflict resolution. Frequently we respond to conflict (the boiling water) with the classic fight or flight response. That is we either harden ourselves against the conflict or remove ourselves from it. This is the habitual response of our bodies and comes from the primitive need to defend ourselves when attacked physically. Of course if the danger we face is real then this is a good strategy to employ however often nowadays the conflict we experience is not a real threat to our safety but rather a response to our thoughts about something that is happening in the world. Because of this the fight or flight response is a somewhat outdated mechanism for dealing with conflict and is no longer the best method of resolving it, rather the opposite in fact.
What we resist – whether by fighting against it or running away from it will continue to persist in some form or other, quite often materialising in our bodies as stress and tension along with all the ill side effects these produce for us.
It is not good to live with stress and tension, on any level be it personal or global. Whether we are after personal health or the health of the world it is imperative that we find a third way to deal with conflict.
The third way is to allow ourselves to be like the coffee in the story – to enter the conflict in such a way as to change it and make it into something good.
But just how do we go about doing this?
The only way to heal conflict is by bringing in peace.
The only way to heal hatred and fear is to bring in love.
The only way to heal sadness is to bring in joy.
Love, peace and joy are all one and the same thing and they are all gifts we receive when we live in-Spirit. It is Spirit that offers us the inspiration to find a different way to resolve conflict. While we stay fixated on our habitual way of responding to life we will block this inspiration from materialising in physical form and so we need to connect with Spirit if we are to find engaging and new ways to deal with conflict.
The world of Spirit is free. Free from boundaries, judgements, thoughts, beliefs, things, attitudes and demands of any kind. Spirit is the free flowing energy of Love that brings all things to life and as such it has no need to conform to anything. At our deepest level we are all Spiritual beings with love as our fundamental nature. All our actions stem from love – they are all an expression of love or a call for love.
Spirit has created a world of diversity and it sees no reason to change this. When we try to make others think the same way as us we go against Spirit. When we have to be right; when we try to make others wrong in order to keep ourselves right and when we refuse to accept differing points of view then we are going against Spirit and therefore blocking the inspiration we need in order to create a more loving response to conflict. We stay stuck in the rut of fight or flight and the old saying that tells us that 'if we always do what we’ve always done then we will always get what we’ve always got' remains true.
Clearly something has to change.
Surely the world has known enough conflict, war, cruelty, abuse and violence? Surely now is the time for the world to experience something different?
In order for this to happen we as individuals have to change.
We cannot expect communities, countries and nations to change if the individuals that compose them stay the same. The work begins here. Now. With ourselves. With you and me.
If there is no peace inside us there will be no peace outside us. If there is no love inside us there will be no love outside us. If there is no joy inside us there will be no joy outside us.
To access Love, Peace and Joy we must cultivate the Spirit within us. It is there for the asking. It has taken me a long time to realise that Love will never push itself onto us. That is not the nature of Love. Love waits for us to return to it. This truth is depicted beautifully in the story of the Prodigal Son found in the bible where the father waits patiently for his wayward son to return home. When we choose to return to our true nature then Spirit welcomes us home and the celebration of our lives can truly begin.
Love is all allowing. Since it created all things it allows all things to exist. So how do we sit and allow what we think is evil to exist in the world? We can only do this by having a change of heart and being willing to perceive things differently and we can only have a change of heart by opening ourselves to Spirit. We need to invite Spirit into our lives if we are to reap the rich rewards it has to offer us. To do this we need to first of all decide which side of the fence we sit on? What is our priority in life? Is it to be right or is it to be loving? Where do we want to place our energies?
We get side tracked by evil. When we watch the news and panic at all the badness we see in the world, we get pulled off course. We think we have to fix things. We think we have to put people right, tell them where they are going wrong, punish them or change them. We fill ourselves with self righteous thoughts, we fill ourselves with fear, we fill ourselves with worry, and all these stop us from connecting with Spirit and therefore they block our ability to bring the transforming power of love to the world. In terms of our story they stop the coffee granules from dissolving into the water to produce the sweet, nourishing drink.
We can't fill ourselves with fear and at the same time fill ourselves with love.
Love is the only thing that can dissolve away hatred, the need for revenge, the need to punish, the need to withdraw or fight. Learning to love is a life long task. It begins on an individual level and expands outwards.
If we don’t believe wholeheartedly that Love is the answer to conflict then we will continually succumb to the fight or flight response and conflict will never be resolved. When faced with evil, conflict, cruelty and injustice our one and only true response must be to increase our ability to be loving. When we meet with evil let us give out more love – to ourselves and to others. Let evil be the catalyst that spurs us on to be more loving. Surely this is the only way to make sense of evil?
This is the change of perspective that living in Spirit brings us – it accepts that evil is there and it is there because it is not evil at all but a heartfelt cry for love.
Meet evil with love and it will change. Shouldn’t we at least give this a try, for what have we got to lose?
"THE STORY OF THE RAINBOW"
Once upon a time all the colours in the world started to quarrel; each claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, or the most favourite.
GREEN said: "Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and hope. I was chosen for the grass, the trees and the leaves. Without me all the animals would die. Look out into the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."
BLUE interrupted: "You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and this is drawn up by the clouds from the blue sea. The sky gives space, and peace and serenity. Without my peace you would all be nothing but busybodies."
YELLOW chuckled: "You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."
ORANGE started to blow its own trumpet: "I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce but I am precious because I serve the inner needs of human life. I carry all the important vitamins. Think of the carrots, the pumpkins and the oranges. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise, or give you a majestic sunset to admire, my beauty is so striking that no one ever gives another thought to any of you!"
RED could stand it no longer. Red shouted out, "I'm the ruler of you all. I am the colour of life's blood. I am the colour of danger and bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire in the blood. Without me the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the colour of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."
PURPLE then rose up to its full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops have chosen me, for I am the sign of authority and of wisdom. People do not question me. They listen and obey."
INDIGO spoke more quietly than the others, but just as determinedly. "Think of me, I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep waters. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."
The colours went on boasting amongst each other, each convinced that they were the best. Their quarrelling grew louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightning; thunder rolled and boomed out. The suddenly RAIN started to pour down relentlessly. The colours all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
Then RAIN spoke: "You foolish colours, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the other. Did you not know that the Creator made you all, each for a special purpose, unique and different? The Creator loves you all, he wants you all. Join hands with one another and come with me. He will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of colour as a reminder that He loves you all and it is possible for you to live together in peace.”
I love this story because it is a wonderful reminder that the beauty of life lies in its diversity. This story challenges us to live in peace together, honouring our differences and recognising the truth that we are all unique beings and of equal importance in the world. This is a call to put an end to war between individuals and between nations.
However I think it has implications for our own personal live too.
We often associate colour with mood. Red has associations with anger; green with jealousy; blue with sadness; yellow with joy; black with depression; grey with dullness and boredom. When we seek out only the emotions that we are happy with, that we have been told are acceptable and preferable then we are limiting our experience of life. Ultimately when we do this we are stopping ourselves from enjoying the experience of the rainbow manifesting itself in our lives.
What would it be like if we could allow and give room to every colour and hue of emotion, feeling and experience? What would our lives be like if we didn’t have to filter, exclude, alter, omit, change, delete or object to any of our life’s experiences?
In the rainbow all colours come together to form a radiant display of sheer beauty. Who amongst us has not been stopped in our tracks at the sight of a rainbow arching its way across the skies? Who has not been delighted by the array of colours and the effect it has of brightening up the sky? When confronted with the spectacle of a rainbow we immediately become childlike again – full of awe and wonder at the beauty before us.
Even our left sided brain with its ability to reason and analyse is brought to stillness when embraced by the beauty of the rainbow. Although we may know about the colour spectrum, about light and prisms and refraction – on the first sighting of a rainbow our first response is usually far removed from analytical thought and would rarely involve us giving a lecture on how rainbows are formed. Normally we respond from joy. We simply gaze in wonder and smile and possibly reach for the camera or a notepad in an attempt to capture the moment of sheer joy.
What if our lives where meant to be like that rainbow? What if we were meant to live a life that was a feast of colour knowing that each colour held its own meaning, purpose and spark of joy?
To make a rainbow you need light and raindrops. When light shines through the raindrops the colours of the spectrum appear. Now let us play with a metaphor for a while and imagine for the moment that that our physical bodies are the sky and the sun is our spirit. Let us imagine that the fluffy white clouds in the sky are our ‘good’ thoughts, feelings and experiences (the ones we are happy with) but the rain clouds are our negative ones, for example: anger, despair, sadness, boredom, apathy. If we do not allow ourselves to feel and express our negative emotions - that is if we do not let the rain clouds release their rain, then we are stopping the sun from being able to shine onto the raindrops to produce the rainbow. In this scenario we remain a sky full of white and black clouds but we do not experience the beauty of the rainbow. If however we allow ourselves to express our emotions and let the rain fall then we will realise (make real) the rainbow experience.
Rainbow living is about living with attention to the Spiritual dimension of Life. Spirit is all embracing. It has given us the gift of life and this is an unconditional gift. Spirit does not censor our lives – we do!
The beauty of rainbow living is that it allows all aspects of life room to breathe and just to be; here and now; in this present moment.
Without the rainbow beauty (the beauty of grace) then we are stuck in judgement – presuming that life should be a certain way and going to war with it when it isn’t. Or presuming that people should be a certain way and going to war with them when they aren’t.
Acceptance is the gift of the rainbow –it frees us to live our lives and to breathe loving attention over all our experiences. This is how our lives are transformed and how we find our way to the true beauty of who we are.
How many times have you heard the advice to “Just let go and move on!”
The instruction is clear – cut yourself off from whatever is holding you back and then you will be able to move forward with gusto and achieve all the things you want to achieve.
The implication is that holding on to something that appears to no longer serve you impedes your ability to sense and move with the current of life that swims within and around you.
Somehow holding on holds us back. So why do we do it?
I think it has something to do with the image that the words conjure up for us. The words “Let go” tend to make me think of something being severed or cut away from me in a way that is both drastic and final. The picture is almost that of an amputation from which there is no going back. The fear of the pain of the operation and the knowledge of what will be lost to me because of it is what keeps me holding on tightly to whatever it is I would be better letting go of.
The problem is that an amputation speaks heavily of loss and we are hard wired to resist loss. When we lose something, or something is taken away from us, we are left with less than we had before and this can fuel a sense of emptiness that we do not quite understand. Feelings of lack, inadequacy and incompleteness can rise up in us and fearing these feelings we would rather cling to our familiar, known territories than make the move to pastures new even if at some level we know we would benefit from the move.
Typically the advice to “let go” is often offered when a significant relationship comes to an end. Perhaps someone you love dies or ends your relationship and you are left with a range of unpleasant emotions to deal with- grief, sorrow, regret, blame, anger, denial, self pity.
Perhaps you get stuck in the past reliving your memories of happier times or perhaps you find yourself living for the future where you hope against hope for reconciliation with your loved one.
Perhaps you cannot stop going over and over, again and again, the circumstances of your break up, questioning yourself and wondering if you could have done something to prevent it or perhaps you are filled with anger and spend your days wilfully plotting the downfall of your ex partner.
Perhaps, in some strange way, you are enjoying the attention and fuss from well meaning friends and family who are gathering around you to support you through your grief and sadness.
Although we may long to ‘get on with our lives’ to all intents and purposes our fear of loss paralyses us and we become stuck in the mire of our fearful thinking. Any well meaning advice to just “let go” only serves to perpetuate the problem.
Perhaps it would be wonderful if we could just chop of the offending parts of our lives and move on leaving them behind but the truth is that life doesn’t work like that.
Perhaps we are meant in some way to stay connected to the painful things in our lives; to connect with the lows of life as much as the highs?
Because I believe this is true I would like to offer an alternative approach to ‘letting go’ and suggest instead that we simply learn to relax and release our hold on whatever it is we are trying to move on from.
Think of a clenched fist – make one now! Think of all the energy it takes to hold your fist in this tight and awkward shape. Think of how it cuts your hand off from the circulation needed to sustain life. Think of how you can’t function properly with your hand closed and how your attention always seems to be focused on the fist. Think about how if the circulation is cut off for long enough you will lose your hand.
Then think about how if you just learn to relax your fingers the circulation will be restored and you will regain full use of your hand. Think about how you will not have to lose your hand and of how easy and comfortable it feels now the tightness has gone.
Your life can be like this. Rather than close yourself down into a ball of tightness around a relationship that has ended; try releasing it. This does not mean that you have to stop loving the person that has left you but rather that you place that love in a wider and freer context – a one in which it can breathe and live in a new way. This way the relationship is still apart of you but it no longer defines you; it no longer takes up all your attention and it no longer impedes you from functioning in a healthy way. Whatever you may have to learn from the relationship is still available to you and you may revisit it, at any time, if you so choose to do.
Of course it may not be a relationship that you are holding onto; it could be a myriad of other things, such as:
What ever it is that you are stubbornly holding onto try releasing your grip, just a little and notice what happens. Do you feel any less of a person than you were before? Do you feel depleted in any way? Do you feel that you have lost something OR do you feel that rather than being robbed of something you have gained something in return? The poet Em Clare in her poem ‘What is it you were given’ asks us to identify what it is we are given from our losses. At the very least we might discover that we gain a slightly different perspective on life or a slightly different feeling and experience than the one we have grown accustomed to.
I cannot repeat enough:
You will NOT be depleted; you will not be robbed of anything! Whatever it is you are holding on to it remains as part of you and you can revisit it at any time you choose to if that is what you desire. However you may choose not to when you discover what else life has in store for you once you release your tight hold on things.
There is always a GAIN. Your life may change, it may be different BUT it will not be less of a life, just a different life. THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.
So GO ON! I invite you to move from ‘Let go and lose out’ to ‘Release and gain’ and see the difference it makes to your life. Let me know how you get on.
Please take a look at my guest post on Michele Harvey's site. www.micheleharveyauthor.com
I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then their is no hurt, but only more love. (Mother Teresa)
Ever had one of those nights? You know the kind where you can’t get to sleep for thinking? Well that was me last night except it wasn’t just mindless thoughts that were keeping me awake but the burning need to get something said.
Something has been brewing in my soul for a long time now, demanding attention, wanting to be articulated; needing to be expressed in some way. Last night I lay in bed tossing and turning and feeling that it was vital, important and urgent that I try to find the right words to express what my soul was asking me to say.
Battling between the need to sleep and the need to get something down on paper I eventually succumbed to the inevitable and got up to scribble a few notes hoping that they would suffice to jog my memory in the morning so that the gist of what I wanted to say would not be lost.
Now the morning is here and I have to find the words.
So here goes.
I want to talk about feelings. The uncomfortable kind. The kind that eat you up inside.
The kind that get stuck in your throat. The kind that rumble and groan and moan inside us.
You know what I’m talking about here: fear; anger; bitterness; frustration; hatred; anxiety; resentment; disappointment.
I’m talking about the kind of emotions that we don’t want to feel and often don’t allow ourselves to feel – at least not fully anyway. Often it’s difficult to sit with even the vaguest of uncomfortable feelings without pushing them away, denying them, minimising them or suppressing them in some way.
WHY IS THIS?
I think it’s because we are scared of letting ourselves FEEL the full impact of these emotions.
I think it’s because these awkward emotions are all distortions of a purer, deeper, truer emotion – SORROW and no matter what we will not let ourselves feel SORROW because it is too painful and too risky.
Deep down we believe that feeling sorrow will break our hearts; that it will shatter them to pieces and scatter them to kingdom come and back. It may even cause us to die.
Because of this we go to great lengths to avoid feeling sorrow.
Here are a few examples from my own life to illustrate the point.
· A friend is feeling distressed. He says that he thinks his life is a waste of time; he’s feeling disillusioned. Instead of letting him feel his pain I rush to reassure him and give him a long list of all the great things he’s got going on in his life.
· While out driving a car pulls out of a junction in front of me and rather than feel my annoyance I shout out a load of verbal abuse at him, pushing my pain away from myself and transferring it onto the other driver without a CARE in the world.
· My husband switches on the TV to get the latest news report and immediately he’s up in arms judging and condemning the evil doers of the world, demanding that the government do something about it and declaring that if they can’t abide by the rules they should all be shot/sent back to their own country/ given a taste of their own medicine etc.
BUT we are misguided in believing that feeling our sorrow will lead to our demise.
Yes if we feel our sorrow our hearts might be broken BUT not into a million pieces they will be broken OPEN and this is vitally important to our health and wellbeing.
When our hearts are open they allow our bodies to function correctly. Our bodies are meant to act as a conduit for the love that is held in our soul. When we harden our hearts in an attempt to protect ourselves from pain, we interfere with this function. An open heart allows our emotions to move through us and the energy of this movement softens them, transforming them into the primary emotion of Love (love being the primary emotion because it reflects our truest nature).
An example of how emotions can be transformed into love this way was seen on the occasion of the death of Diana Princess of Wales. For those of us that allowed our disgust, outrage, anger, hatred and frustration to settle into SORROW we found that deep at the heart of our grief was an enduring compassion, a need to reach out, to connect, to share, to CARE.
Opening our hearts to each other (and this can be through feeling our joy as well as our sorrow) unites us. It breaks through barriers of class, culture, race and religion and yet despite this our culture still perpetuates a myth that caring is dangerous business.
Consider the following sayings.
· Don’t trust your feelings.
· Whatever you do don’t show you care.
· Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.
· Keep your distance.
· Don’t get too involved.
With this sort of misguided advice we are left to struggle along dragging our hardened hearts along with us.
It’s just sheer madness and it comes with a cost.
We are meant to know the feeling of being filled with love – when this feeling is absent all we feel instead is a void, an emptiness at the centre of our being. We then try to fill this with all manner of things – food, drugs, sex, money, success, power, entertainment (the list is endless).
It could be argued that this emptiness is the root cause of much, if not all, the problems we face in the world.
When we insist on not feeling, on not caring then we become isolated. We risk falling into the belief that we are the only one that matters. We can become immune to the suffering of others and if we are not careful (that is if we are not FULL of CARE) we can even begin to condone suffering, justify it and even inflict it on ourselves and others– all because of our ‘couldn’t CARE LESS attitude!’
SO what can be done about all this?
The only conclusion I’ve managed to reach is that we must relearn the art of feeling.
We must allow ourselves to soften and let the energy of our emotions move through us. We must work to keep our hearts open.
This isn’t going to be easy. It takes courage to care when we fear we will be taken advantage of. We will need help. We will need to be supported. We will need encouragement.
We will meet with resistance. We will risk being called foolish, naive, innocent, simplistic, an idealist.
But I think it’s a risk worth taking.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel happier than we’ve ever felt before.
It’s a risk worth taking because it will help us all feel more peaceful.
It’s a risk worth taking because this is how a new world will be born.
Right, I’m about done. I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. I’ve said what I needed to say. The sleepless night was worth it. My soul is singing.
But now what about you?
If you’ve read this far (and “thank you” if you have) then how are you FEELING now? Perhaps you might like to sit with your feelings a while and see what happens? If you’d like to tell me about your response to this blog then I’d love to hear from you.
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You may be familiar with many of these sayings.....
30. Be good or the bogey man will come and get you; the police will take you away; you’ll never get to Heaven; Father Christmas won’t leave you any presents....or variations on that theme!
The trouble with these sayings is that they seep into our unconscious mind without us being aware of it. Now SOME of these sayings may be true SOME of the time in SOME situations but NONE of them are true ALL of the time in EVERY situation.
However as children we are not aware of this and if we hear these sayings said often enough (particularly by the significant adults in our lives who we trust) we begin to believe them to be absolutely true ALL of the time! We then grow up with a fixed mindset that rarely gets questioned and which begins to rule our lives, often to our detriment.
The problem is that these sayings are designed to rein us in, to keep us small, to keep us feeling unsafe, wary, troubled and in need of fixing.
All these limiting beliefs are a way of keeping ourselves under control. And just why would we want to keep ourselves under control?
The answer is because we fear our own greatness.
Our true nature is free and expansive; creative and abundant. We are not meant to live clipped lives. We are meant to be free: free from limiting thoughts; free to assess and decide for ourselves what is true and what isn’t; free to decide how we want to live and what kind of world we want to live in.
False beliefs keep us away from the realisation that life is good, generous, bountiful, abundant, kind, supportive and encouraging. When we don’t realise this then we can’t enter the process of making this our reality because the reality that we experience is the mirror image of what we believe to be true. To experience a different reality we need to change the beliefs that rule our minds; we need to reflect a different image.
If you’re interested in doing this then I suggest you start the process by reading through the above list, slowly and with an open mind.
Perhaps you might like to make your own list of sayings that you might have unconsciously accepted as truth over the years?
Ask yourself how much you have been influenced by these sayings. Ask if these sayings are absolutely true ALL of the time?
Be open to seeing things differently. Ask yourself if these are statements that you are happy to live your life by? Be gentle with yourself and patient. If you meet resistance that is fine, it’s all part of the process. If it helps journal your responses then put the list aside and breathe deeply.
Can you taste the beginnings of freedom rising in you?
Recently I received a forward in my inbox that was quite inspirational. It was a list of 45 pieces of wisdom which had been collected and compiled over a life time by a 90 year old woman. After reading it I duly passed it on to some friends of mine one of whom replied with a challenge for me to write out my own wisdom list. Well not wanting to back down from the challenge (while at the same time feeling very unworthy of the task) I set to having a go.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
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.