Wednesday, 23 December 2015

FOMO

“Fear of Missing Out”


ˈfəʊməʊ/
noun
informal
  1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. 

When I was a child it was commonplace for people of my parents' generation to have a showcase (vitrine) in their house in which souvenirs from travels and special occasions were displayed. Everything from miniatures of famous landmarks once visited to wedding cake toppers. I was mesmerised by these memories encased in glass. Each item marked an event special enough to be preserved and enshrined.

Though it took me longer than many to begin to explore what the world has to offer, when I finally did, I instinctively began collecting souvenirs. You may look at my collection of miniatures of some of the world’s greatest landmarks I’ve visited and think that I’m well travelled, but actually it has taken decades to accumulate. It was not a hungry accumulation. It was not a feverish consumption. It was slow and mindful and each step was carefully considered and deeply appreciated. Similarly I could list the various things I’ve done and achieved and it may sound to some like I am fairly accomplished. But again, each of these steps was taken slowly and mindfully and with careful consideration.

In between each of these souvenir moments were long periods of ordinariness and even banality. Before the rise of social media, the anxiety I felt to “get more out of my life” was mostly limited to things I’d see on tv or in magazines, or friends’ stories and photographs shared with me in person. To be sure, FOMO did exist back then, but it was more subtle. Even so I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that there is no rush and that one day I’d look back and know that I have done enough and that all along I was enough. I’d explain that taking slow, measured and mindful steps would not leave me feeling like I’d wasted precious time, and that memories do not have to be abundant to make one feel abundant.

I cannot help but notice that nowadays people seem to be scrambling around at high speed trying to cram as many activities and experiences into their lives as possible. One or two social engagements a week no longer seems to be enough. It seems to be necessary to stuff each year full of parties and travels and seminars etc. When someone professes, “I’ll rest when I’m dead”, I have to resist the urge to say, “Without rest this may be sooner than you think”.

It would be naive to believe that the rise of social media has not contributed to this rapidly growing anxiety. We are confronted daily with airbrushed glamour shots of our friends’ latest achievements, parties, holidays and gourmet dinners. It’s enough to start to believe that you have slipped into some frustrating parallel universe where everyone else seems to enjoy 72 hour days and 1095 day years, while you are still stuck with only 24 hour days and 365 day years, and where 8 hours sleep is still required each day. Fear of missing out seems to be driving us into frantic activity or making us feel anxious that we are not doing enough or not being enough. Don’t get me wrong, FOMO is not always a bad thing, sometimes it can motivate us to reach for something new at a time when we needed inspiration or motivation. But I think it more often generates a dangerous undercurrent of dissatisfaction.

This chronic not-enoughness seems to be consuming us and leaving us feeling small and insignificant and wasteful, when nothing can be further from the truth. We have forgotten how to be still and savour the moments of our lives, both the small daily moments and the grand souvenir moments.

I remember sitting at my grandmother’s feet and listening to her tell magnificent stories from her life. There were not thousands of stories, or even hundreds, but each story was told with such joy and such vivid detail that I was transfixed. I wonder if we’ll be able to give our grandchildren the same gift or if our life stories will be nothing more than a blur of feverish activity where we did not take the time to honour the truly special moments or breaks in between to absorb and appreciate them.

Perhaps this new year our resolutions should include more time to rest and more space for contemplation. Perhaps through this fear of missing out, what we are actually missing out on is the stillness within us where true abundance resides.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Generous Assumptions: A Doorway to Connection

In Brené Brown’s book “Rising Strong” she unfolds the anatomy of trust. Brown quotes Charles Feltman when she describes trust as “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” She breaks trust down into its key components, one of which is generosity. She explains how we are more likely to trust people who make generous assumptions about us and our intentions and how people are more likely to trust us if we do the same for them.

Though the anatomy of trust is a fascinating topic, it is the idea of generous assumptions that strikes the deepest chord with me.

Have you ever sent a text message to a friend and received no reply? Did you pay attention to your response to this situation? What were the thoughts that went through your head? Allow me to offer some possibilities: “She is deliberately ignoring me. What an asshole!”. This is not an example of a generous assumption about your friend. “She is obviously angry with me. I must have offended her in some way”. This is not a generous assumption about your friend, nor about yourself. It is disturbing how often we encounter responses either within ourselves or from others that are some version of the above examples. No doubt we have all encountered at one time or another people for whom this sort of victim position seems to be an almost default response to any words or actions that leave even the smallest room for misinterpretation. Their first assumption is that they are been deliberately attacked.

“I like when I don’t have to be careful about what I say. That’s when you know you’re with the right people” (This is a quote, I do not remember from whom, I recently saw on Facebook). It is almost impossible to establish or maintain a deep connection with someone when we find ourselves feeling anxious that our words and actions may be misinterpreted as an attack. Feeling like you have to walk on eggshells may be one of the most powerful obstacles to true connection.

A generous assumption would be more like “I know this is a busy time for my friend and I understand that I do not fall within her circle of close friends and family, and it is therefore okay that I do not receive an immediate response”.

I’m not suggestion that every such situation be dismissed with a generous assumption. Sometimes the words and actions of others are blatantly unkind, in which case it is appropriate to set boundaries and make those boundaries clear to others.

What I am suggesting is that a great deal of the time when we feel slighted by another, it was not intentional. Or even if it was intentional in that moment, it was just a lapse in judgement that occurred at a time of stress and not a true reflection of their feelings. It is also possible that In many cases what was said or done was benign in nature and the offence was entirely imagined.

My point is that when you are not sure, it is best to make a generous assumption. If you make this a habit it will bring a level of freedom and lightness and trust to your interactions with others that will open the doorway to deep and profound connection.

Making generous assumptions may begin as a practice, but in time it will become a way of being that more closely reflects who you really are, who you’ve always been. And the old wounds that stood between you and the gentle graciousness of your true nature will melt away.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

God's eyes

Against my better judgement I have chosen to use the word “God” in the title of this piece, because it sounds cool. I ask the reader to forget that I have used this word. Why? Because it is a heavy word loaded with centuries of connotations and misinterpretation. Humanity has used a plethora of words in a multitude of languages in an attempt to describe that for which words do not exist. In truth, every one of these words or phrases can at best only point toward an aspect or a small range of aspects of the all-that-is. And even then it’s mostly only the manifested aspects of the known physical universe. When it comes to finding words for the unmanifest, we are lost. The first verse of the Tao Te Ching ends, “If it can be named, it is not the Tao”. Yet it is precisely this void of unmanifested pure potential that I wish to explore here using words, so please bare with me.

It is possible to theorise that before the world came into being, there was no means by which the void could know itself, for it was nothing and there was nothing that it was not. The first thought ever to be thought may well have been, “Who am I?”. We could continue to hypothesize that for the all-that-is to know itself, it had to create the illusion of something that was not it. Some aspect of itself, that would graciously agree to forget who it was, and look back upon itself and say, “I see you”.

If this is true, then each one of us has agreed to forget who we truly are so that the all-that-is can look through our eyes at itself, and know itself. We are God’s eyes. We are the lens through which the universe focuses the knowing of itself. People have spent decades or even lifetimes seeking the doorway to awareness, without realising that they are the doorway. More than that, they are awareness.

I understand if this all starts to feel a bit esoteric. In fact, it can even start to feel a bit scary (See my earlier blog post “Embracing the Emptiness” for more on this). It can be shocking the first time you experience the feeling that the only thing you know for sure is that the void is looking through your eyes at itself. This idea may cause you to move through a wide range of emotions from pointlessness to feeling profoundly purposeful. It is a perspective on perspective that can change your entire way of seeing yourself and understanding the essential role you play in life.

Okay, so how does this help me in my everyday life? If I truly am a lens through which the universe focuses the knowing of itself, then I can stop chasing after awareness, for I am awareness. All that there is to be done is to keep my lens as clean and clear as possible, and to point it in the direction of love and light and joy and well-being, so that everything and everyone that is can know itself to be love and light and joy and well-being.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Freud can kiss my enlightened butt

Disclaimer: The following article contains nothing more than meandering thoughts, which are subject to change without notice. Any and all interpretation of the contents of this article as dogma is purely coincidental. Results may vary. Batteries not included. ”Enlightened Butt” is not a registered trademark.


Enlightenment or being awake is not a state that once achieved remains static and constant. It is a process, and like all processes it has stages. However, once the threshold from asleep to awake has been crossed, there is no going back. Being enlightened is a constantly unfolding experience that has no end point. There is always a new greater level to step into, or a deeper layer of delusion to strip away.

I don’t know enough about modern psychology to offer any kind of accurate commentary, but I seem to recall a great many people in the 1980’s signing up for psychoanalysis. By the 1990’s what was described as “Therapy” seemed to grow in popularity. From what I understand, the theories of Sigmund Freud and his contemporaries seemed to dominate these practices. Phrases such as “Daddy issues”, “Mommy issues”, “Sexual repression” and “Abandonment issues” started to filter into our vocabulary. I have no intention of diminishing the authenticity or validity of these labels nor the aspects of human psychology from which they have sprung. However, I am not convinced that exploring these topics from a purely mind and ego based perspective is the most useful approach.

And so it is that most people find themselves in adulthood carrying a mixed bag of “issues”. There are as many different ways in which these false thoughts and beliefs will show up as there are different people. For those who have awakened there is often an initial stage which I’ve heard described as “Transcendence”. As our awareness elevates, it can bypass the heavier and darker energies that are been carried in the mind and body. As greater spaciousness opens up within us, we have the option to dwell mostly in this new found space. We may not necessarily have dealt with our old issues, but we have risen above them. This can sometimes be mistaken for resolution, but during this stage it doesn’t matter because we feel good, and it feels good to feel good. We can experience this transcendent phase for weeks, months, years or even decades.

There is, however, a stage that lies beyond transcendence. It is a stage we tend to hear very little about. In this next phase we return to the body. Our awareness shifts from a space that feels a bit like floating above or outside of our body to a space that is deeply rooted and integrated into the body and mind of our current physical form. And on our return we may be disappointed to discover that our old issues have not been resolved after all, and are still sitting there waiting for us. But there is no need to despair, and there is no need to run back to the therapist’s office. Why? Because the spaciousness that has grown inside of us gives us the opportunity to view these old issues with far more objectivity and a lot more distance. We have all the resources of a deeper and more direct connection to our higher selves. We have answers to questions we did not even know existed before our awakening. We don’t have to bypass or transcend our issues, we can face them head-on with an open heart and wide open eyes. We can shine the light of awareness onto these old false beliefs and work through them from our new perspective. There is immense relief in no longer being controlled or terrorized by old issues. Freud can kiss our enlightened butts!

But there is a potential twist in this tale. And it is not a pleasant one. And it is certainly not one you will hear mentioned by new age gurus who are trying to sell you enlightenment. Along with the weakening of the ego that accompanies enlightenment, comes a new and profound disinterest in many of the objects, activities and interactions that used to engage, titillate, stimulate or otherwise feed our egos. What’s wrong with that?, you may ask. Well consider for a moment which aspects of your life are fully or partially based on fear, need, desire and attachment. Now imagine feeling almost complete apathy toward all of these aspects. Most of what you felt driven or inspired by your ego to pursue or engage in feels wholly uninteresting now. In some cases even repulsive. Climbing the career ladder, accumulating experiences or material possessions, impressing your friends, possibly even your interest in romantic relationships, having children, or travelling the world can fall away. As the world around you continues to feverishly pursue all it’s ego-based wants and needs, it will expect you to continue to engage with it on that same level. In fact it will more than expect it, it will demand it. You will still have bills to pay! However, for you anything less than love, connection, truth and awareness will begin to feel more and more uncomfortable and painful and exhausting. When this occurs at a stage in your journey where you thought you were heading toward less suffering, it can feel like a betrayal to experience a whole new wave of suffering. A new kind of suffering for which traditional psychology does not cater.

So on the one hand your inner world has expanded to the point where old trauma can be resolved with relative ease, but on the other hand the world outside is now so far misaligned with your inner world that this contrast can cause you immense pain and suffering. What inspired and motivated you before may now feel small and meaningless. Small irritations that were previously overlooked because of the ego-rewards that were won in spite of them, may now feel overwhelmingly frustrating. Add to this the heightened sensitivity that often accompanies a growth in consciousness, and it may all start to feel a bit too much.

I was thinking about giving this article the title “Enlightenment Sucks!”, but decided that such a strong statement would not be the best place to start. I thought it better to build up to the idea that enlightenment may not always feel like the “Rainbows and Unicorns” Utopia we thought it would. It is about time we admit this to ourselves and others. In that way we can share our experiences and offer advice and support to each other as we navigate this uncharted and often turbulent ocean. We do not choose or decide to awaken, when the fruit is ripe it will fall from the tree of delusion and into the ocean of awareness. This process is inevitable and unstoppable. But let’s stop sugarcoating the reality of this experience and work together to find new ways of coping with these new challenges. The old maps are no longer of any use, it is up to us to chart new maps.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Embracing the Emptiness

Whether or not you are someone who claims to be actively seeking enlightenment, or whatever it is you believe enlightenment to be, it is not uncommon that catching a glimpse of it may raise unexpected feelings of angst. I've heard the eternal space of “I am” within each of us described in many ways. Some descriptions make it sound very appealing, words such as “Stillness”, “Spaciousness”, “Peace”, “Oneness” and “Awareness”. There are, however, other words that are equally as accurate that not only sound far less appealing, but may even induce feelings of fear and repulsion, such as “Nothingness” and “Emptiness”.

Every human being perceives the world in a way that is a unique combination of their personality, the way they have been socialised and conditioned, their life experience, their body and brain chemistry, their genetics etc. There is also an aspect of every soul incarnate as a human being that carries a unique vibrational signature and possibly even imprints left by past lives. At some point all these elements will come together in such a way that we become consciously aware of the eternal stillness within us.

Now you would think that this rendezvous with our truest selves would feel exciting and inviting and we’d feel like diving right in. But this is not always the case. Sometimes this space feels less like joy and peace and more like emptiness. Our minds and egos often reel against anything that feels threatening to them. They have been in control for so long that they are unlikely to surrender to any experience in which they are not calling the shots. They will more than likely put up a fight. Their weapon of choice is one with which we are all familiar, fear.

In an attempt to find more accessible words to describe the still awareness within us I came up with the phrase (also the title of this blog), “That which wants nothing”. This is another element of surrendering to the emptiness that may result in feelings of discomfort. We have been conditioned to believe that what motivates us as human beings to keep moving onward and upward is desire. The societies in which we live seem to be driven by desire. Step one is to want something and step two is to figure out how to get it. We believe that this is the force that keeps us moving and propels us forward. Given our conditioned belief that wanting is a large motivating factor in our lives, it is not surprising that entering into a space that wants no thing would feel threatening. And yes, it is true that depending on your personality type, stepping into the emptiness may result in some initial passivity. As the mind and ego drop away so do many of their desire or fear based incentives for activity. However, what will rise up in their place is creativity. At some point you will find yourself less motivated by wanting and more motivated by the divine creative fire that burns at the heart of the source of all that is. You will no longer be motivated into action by fear, and instead will be moved into action by grace.

My point is this, the flowery language sometimes used to describe enlightenment may seduce you into pursuing it, but in reality the experience of entering into the space where enlightenment dwells may feel frightening to the mind and ego. It can at first feel like emptiness and the angst the mind and ego experiences when faced with this may cause you to turn away. Try to move beyond this initial fear and instead choose to lean into the emptiness and eventually embrace it. Allow your experience of it to simply be what it is, and what you will find is so much more than what you imagined.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Connection versus Attachment

Warning: Some readers may find this disturbing!

We've all heard spiritual teachings, especially those originating in Asia, speak of non attachment. It is understandable that some may find this idea unappealing if they confuse it with indifference. Others may feel comfortable with the idea of non attachment with regard to material possessions, but struggle with the idea when it comes to the personal relationships in their lives.

There is nothing wrong with experiencing feelings of attachment, in fact as human beings we are pretty much hard-wired to form attachments. It is part of our physical survival and propagation of the species instinct. Every human being has needs. From the moment we are born there are certain things we need to survive and thrive. There are the basic physical needs such as food, shelter, security and sex. There are also more complex needs that bridge the gap between our physical and spiritual selves, such as the need for social interaction and community, what I sometimes call “togetherness”.

When it comes to our spiritual or higher selves there is a far deeper and more profound drive toward connection. Notice I did not call it a need. Calling it a “drive” is also not entirely accurate. For our higher selves connection can almost be described as an incontrovertible universal force, like gravity. As spiritual beings, connection is not a need or even a desire, it simply is.

In terms of personal relationships, all kinds of trouble can ensue when we confuse attachment with connection. Attachment is a collection of thoughts and feelings that are born out of the ego. When we feel that someone is fulfilling a particular need that we believe is important to our survival, we feel a strong drive to hold onto them and not lose them. We fear that the loss of the individual or our relationship with them will in some way impede our survival or threaten our existence. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. It is part of our survival instinct and the reason our species is so successful in terms of maintaining and increasing its numbers over the millennia. Whether the person or people we feel attached to are providing for our very basic needs such as food and shelter or the more complex social needs, is not really relevant, the source of our attachment is nevertheless need. Need is not connection. Attachment is not connection. You can have relationships that include need and attachment, but are mostly based on and blessed with connection. This is wonderful. But unfortunately the world seems to be overrun with examples of relationships that are based mostly on need and attachment and do not include much connection. Usually these relationships end when one or more of the participants is no longer having their needs met. It irks me somewhat when I hear people use the word “connection” to describe their relationship with another when it is plain to see that there is very little connection happening and a whole lot of need and the fear-based feelings of attachment that spring from that.

The reason I feel it is important to clearly separate need-based attachment from connection in our understanding, is that we are evolving. As more and more of us begin to awaken to our higher potential, we can make this transition a whole lot smoother by knowing that connection can occur without attachment. I have observed that many people will not allow themselves to open up to or connect with another without first assessing the potential longevity of the relationship and which needs they can have met by the other. They may not be doing it consciously, but they are reluctant to allow a connection to occur with someone unless they believe there will be some need-based return on their investment. The result is that they miss out on hundreds of opportunities to grow and learn and share. The universe has generously arranged for them to rendezvous with someone for the sake of their mutual growth, and they have shut the door on that gift.

When you begin to understand connection to be a force on it’s own that has nothing to do with need or attachment, you begin to see the world and everyone in it as a friend and a teacher and an opportunity to grow. Connect for the sake of connection. It does not matter if it lasts five minutes or five decades. If you do then I promise you that the beauty and richness that will flow into your life and the lives of those around you will be unlike anything you've ever experienced before.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mirror Mirror

I’ve been listening to Abraham Hicks recordings for several years now. I’ve heard them say many times that we all make way too much of all of this. That all we need to do is pay attention to our own vibration, our own energy, our own inner state. Do what you need to do to feel good or at least better than you do right now. Think what you need to think and believe what you need to believe to feel as good as you can in every moment. That is all you need to do. The rest will sort itself out. Each time I heard some version of this advice, part of me resisted the hearing of it. Part of me pushed against the simplicity of it, the elegance of it.  Do I really have that much influence over the intricate workings of the Universe that my inner state could bring about changes in the non-physical world? And even if I could believe that, could I believe that those changes could manifest in the physical world? Could it be true? “Oh no no, what manner of sorcery is this?!”, thought my browbeaten ego.

In the meantime life has taken me from one end of the earth to the other. I’ve interacted with people from all over the world. I’ve made friends and lost friends. I’ve found myself in all-consuming romantic entanglements and found myself spending long periods in solitude. I’ve discarded old beliefs and adopted new ones, discarded the new ones and created my own. I’ve fallen down, picked myself up, reinvented, redefined and refined my thoughts, my beliefs, myself. That is to say, I’ve lived. None of this makes me special or in any way unique, it makes me human. Not all of this has unfolded in a state of awareness or presence, but enough of it has to leave an impression, no, more than an impression, a knowing.

What I’ve come to know is this. We have been mislead. We have been taught to be kind and generous and to show love toward each other in a way that is unlikely to achieve this purpose. We have been fooled into believing that sacrifice and martyrdom is noble and godly. Somehow we got it into our heads that to show love and compassion toward others means that we have to take onboard their pain as if it is our own, that we have to share in their sadness or anger and join them in their suffering. We misunderstood the act of mirroring the body language of another to win their favour, to also include the mirroring of their inner state. This all makes sense if you have no understanding of the vibrational world in which we live. But even with some understanding of vibration and energy and the field of life that lies beyond the five physical senses, we can too easily overlook the nature of true connection, of true love and compassion.

Words and gestures are fairly blunt instruments when it comes to connection. The real workings of human interaction are taking place at a deeper level, at a quantum level, at the level of vibration and energy exchange. And so I ask you this, what is the quality of the vibration you are offering your friends and your loved ones and the world around you?

Do not allow yourself to be nothing more than a reflection of that which is happening around you. Though others may not understand and may even see you determination to maintain a high level of vibration as selfish or self-centered, trust that your inner dimensions will be experienced by others at a deeper level and in a way that offers the greatest benefit and the truest healing.

Though in truth, no other benefit or reward is necessary when you make the decision to do and think and believe what must be done and thought and believed to raise your vibration and maintain it’s expanded dimensions, because it feels good to feel good. What more is there to want for? All that will manifest as a result of your inner state will be the icing on a cake to be enjoyed and shared.

When trying to successfully interact with the world around us, fathoming just the right words to say and just the right gestures to make at just the right time is a complicated business and far too often a dismal failure. But when we focus rather on expanding and maintaining our own inner dimensions, then the right words and the right actions will emerge effortlessly from within. And if you still find that part of you resists this idea as too self-centered, then trust that the brighter your inner light the more chance it has to ignite in others the hope and healing they most need.

It is that simple and that elegant, and finally I understand what Abraham Hicks meant when they suggested that we were all making way too much of all of this.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Beware the Bonnet Bees!

“For pity, sir, find out that bee
Which bore my love away.
I'll seek him in your bonnet brave”

- from “The Mad Maid's Song”, 1648 by Robert Herrick.


There is a phrase in English “To have a bee in your bonnet” which loosely means to be preoccupied or obsessed with an idea. Though within the context of this article I’d say that “obsessed” may be too strong a word. However, we all have ideas of things we’d like to do and see and experience and explore. Some of them may be acceptable to discuss in polite company, and others may include sexual fetishes or other private thoughts we’d feel less inclined to admit to thinking about. Maybe you've always fantasized about playing the guitar or maybe you've always fantasized about being playfully spanked by your lover during foreplay. There are more extreme examples, but I’d prefer not to distract the reader from the real point of this piece. The more of these unexpressed and unexplored bonnet bees we have in our heads, the louder and more disquieting their buzzing.

It seems to me that the average adult goes through life with a head full of bees. If you asked them why they have not yet explored these ideas or found a way to express them, they’d supply you with a long list of excuses. Usually including, but not limited to, “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have the funds”, “What would the neighbours say?”, “No one would understand”. I’m certainly not suggesting acting immediately upon every impulse, but what I’m talking about are ideas that you've had buzzing around in your head for years and years. Sometimes they buzz very loudly and sometimes their buzzing is drowned out by more immediate concerns, but they seem to be persistent and not going away on their own accord any time soon.

At some point in my journey the “Silent Observer” or “Still Awareness” or “Higher Self Perspective” or whatever you want to call it became dominant. This has over the years given me the opportunity to observe my thoughts and the general movement of energy within me with a certain degree of objectivity. What became apparent to me is that these bonnet bees that go unexplored and unexpressed for years begin to cloud over our potential for clarity and a greater sense of well-being. They are more destructive than most people realize.

In terms of the energies we hold within our bodies, these too can feel unbalanced by interactions which have been left incomplete or unfinished. I think we've all experienced situations where we are connecting deeply with another and are suddenly interrupted and the interaction is cut short. That uncomfortable feeling of the energy exchange being left open-ended and incomplete. This is a small example, and in reality energies can be left unbalanced within us from circumstances far more complex than an interrupted conversation. I’ll give you an example that many people would be able to recognize in today’s digital world. Though interacting and connecting online has opened up the world in countless sublime and extraordinary ways, there is a level of energy exchange that occurs when you find yourself in the same physical space as another that does not seem to be able to be achieved digitally. It may cost the price of an air ticket to meet in person, but I assure you the balancing of that particular energy within you will be well worth the effort and expense.

My point is that we should not underestimate the negative impact bonnet bees have on our sense of well-being. If it is not harmful to ourselves or others, or illegal or in opposition to our beliefs or higher knowing, then don’t wait. Find a way of exploring, expressing and releasing your bonnet bees. The clarity and inner spaciousness that will emerge when those pesky bees are exorcised is delicious and more than worth any effort or expense or twinge of embarrassment that may accompany the releasing of them. You may very well find that after your first guitar lesson or spanking that this particular activity is not for you after all. That is okay, at least the bee is dead and the absence of it’s incessant buzzing will be replaced by a greater sense of clarity and inner peace.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Why so grim?

I cannot recall when it was that I no longer feared death. Don’t get me wrong, being in possession of a human body with its countless nerve-endings, the idea of a dying painfully is as unappealing to me as it is to most others. But the idea of not existing in my current incarnate form does not cause me any anxiety. Initially, this absence of the fear of death was overshadowed by what Annie Lennox so eloquently expresses in her song “Cold”..., “Dying is easy, it’s living that scares me to death”. For a very long time my fear of life overshadowed the absence of a fear of death. It may be that I’ve never feared death, but did not notice because of my overriding fear of life. As I grew older and marginally wiser my fear of life began to diminish. And in its fading an absence starkly stood out, though I did not at first have the words to express this outline of something not there. It is only in the last few years that I’ve found the words to identify the feeling, or in this case the absence of a feeling. Like with so many aspects of the human experience, awareness emerges when heavier emotions such as fear and guilt move or are moved out of the way. Freedom and love and joy are within all of us all of the time, needing only a little bit of breathing space to emerge and shine. The fear of death may seem like a rather heavy boulder to shift, but perhaps if you take a closer look at this fear you may discover that it is not a fear of death at all. It may be a fear of physical pain (often associated with an untimely death). It may be more closely related to feelings of guilt about leaving loved ones in the lurch. Or it may simply be our mammalian self-preservation hard-wiring. Is it really a fear of no longer existing in your current incarnate form? If it is, then ask yourself, why would this prospect frighten you? Is it not true that life is eternal? Is it not true that there is no end point? We simply move on and continue to grow and evolve in another form. And even if the idea of eternal life is nothing more than a fantasy, non existence will not feel regret or unhappiness about it’s non-existence. So why then fear death?

Now I’m not suggesting recklessness. Recklessness results in pain and suffering more often than it results in death. If you are still alive, it is more desirable to experience comfort and ease than pain and suffering. So not fearing death has got nothing to do with bungy jumping or skydiving. Rather, it is about purging a very ancient and very heavy emotional blockage and allowing ease and peace to rise up from within. This does not only apply to your own death, but also to that of your loved ones. What I know for sure is this, it is far easier to love someone when you let go of the fear of losing them. The depth of love that can be experienced when fear is released is astonishing and compares to nothing else. The depth of freedom and peace that can be experienced when the fear of death is released will transform your life in ways you cannot even imagine.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Energy Mastery

I recently attended an event entitled “Energy Mastery”. I will admit I had some reservations about this title. The word “Mastery” draws to my mind images of control and manipulation and suppression. Of reigning in something wild and untamed or in some other concentrated and disciplined way molding an unwanted thing into something more preferable. It is not surprising that in the Western world with its long history of violently forcing it’s selfish will upon our beautiful planet and many of it’s human and non human inhabitants, that one’s mind would be tarnished with an unsavoury connotation of the idea of mastery.

It is also not surprising then that so many of us take this same forceful view of our emotions. Like everything that exists, emotions are energy. There are some who may be interested in learning how to control and manipulate energy in more “supernatural” ways, no doubt fuelled by stories within ancient mythology and modern fiction of beings with the ability to transform and bend the material and non-material world at will. I'm sure that for these people many teachings can be explored that would intrigue and titillate this particular desire. But for most people it would be more beneficial to understand the kind of energy that has the most direct influence on our daily sense of well-being: our emotions. It is observable that many people continue to hold onto the belief that the mastery of our emotions means that we have to learn how to control and manipulate and suppress or completely obliterate any emotions we deem as undesirable. The world is full of examples of how we try to do just that. The devices we carry in our toolboxes to this end are numerous: Medication, distraction, abstraction, psychotherapy, fiction, addiction etc. Anyone out there having much success with any of these?

The reason these methods fail is that they are based on a false premise. And that is the belief that the emotions we perceive as undesirable are unnatural and do not have a place in our experience. What I am suggesting is that all emotions, ALL emotions, are a natural part of the human experience. That part of the reason we chose to incarnate in this space-time reality is to have the opportunity to explore and taste everything that grows in the garden of human emotions. Not so that we can destroy any of the emotional flora we deem as distasteful, but so that we can nurture and grow the seed of awareness and inner spaciousness planted within each of us, into a place that can hold enough light and love and peace and stillness to allow all that we feel to be experienced with gentle compassion and peaceful equanimity. In this way it no longer becomes necessary or even desirable to control our emotions. For when we understand that this inner spaciousness is not only part of us, but the very essence of who we are, then we know that the ebb and flow of human emotions does not have to be manipulated, for it is not and never has been in control of us. We only believed it was. As emotions rise and fall we can smile gently from within an unwavering space of non-judgement and allowing and stillness and quiet joy. We can accept that there will be times when we feel we are being swept away by undesirable emotions. That is okay, for we won’t be gone for too long. We will always be drawn back to the stillness within. When we stop swimming against the current of our emotions we will be carried gently back toward love and light and allowing.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Editing: How to survive the 21st century

I’m not sure if I’ve ever met anyone for whom meditating in the lotus position is comfortable. Yet the idea seems to exist that we should be able to mindfully ignore or rise above our aching back and numb backside.  If you have the option to sit in a comfortable upholstered armchair then why suffer unnecessarily? Likewise, why should we strive to rise above any other circumstance that can easily be changed. I’d rather save "rising above" for those things over which I do not have control.

The 21st century is undoubtedly one of abundance. If fact, we are bombarded daily with an overwhelming and never-ending tidal wave of data and information. Our homes are packed to the rafters with consumer goods. Our agendas are as overstuffed as our refrigerators. There is an abundance of examples of abundance.

The word “minimal” only seems to apply to our bank balances, our free time, joy and love and peace of mind, and all those other good things that self-help books talk about.

Don’t you think it’s about time we reverse this trend? Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. How about we strive to have less of the stuff that can be counted, but does not count. And more of the stuff that cannot be counted, but counts. I am not talking about adopting any form of extreme minimalism and I’m certainly not recommending deprivation. Rather, what I’m suggesting is “Lagom”.

(From Wikipedia: Logam is a Swedish word meaning "just the right amount". Whereas words like "sufficient" and "average" suggest some degree of abstinence, scarcity, or failure, lagom carries the connotation of appropriateness, although not necessarily perfection. The archetypical Swedish proverb "Lagom är bäst", literally "The right amount is best", is translated as "Enough is as good as a feast".)

Every material object, idea or concept carries not only an intrinsic energy signature, but also a subjective energy response that is unique to the individual who is experiencing it. Think about the stuff you have in your home. Does it weigh you down or does it induce in you a feeling of lightness and spaciousness? When embracing Logam, your material possessions are sometimes a good place to start. Take it room by room, storage space by storage space. Give away, throw away or donate everything that you do not use and do not need and do not like. Purge, purge purge! Be ruthlessly selective about anything new you bring into your home. The idea is to only have those things in your home that serve a useful purpose and hold no unpleasant memories for you.

Don’t stop there. Move onto your digital life. For example, wouldn’t it be nice if your Facebook newsfeed contained only stories that uplifted and inspired you? Hiding unwanted posts from your newsfeed can be achieved with a few easy mouse clicks.

Next take a close look at your agenda. Cancel everything that is not essential or in some way mandatory. Wherever possible, avoid multi-tasking. Research shows that multi-tasking is in fact counter-productive and has a negative effect on your mental, emotional and physical health. Wherever did we get the idea that doing one thing at a time was not enough?! Ever heard the Zen saying “Before enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water”? Notice that it did not say anything about trying to chop wood or carry water at the same time. That would be the fastest way to end up wet and missing a few toes!

Now, shall we discuss our incessant intake of media? I promise you the world will not stop spinning on its axis if you stop reading newspapers and magazines, and stop watching the news. I promise that you’ll be much happier. Try it and see for yourself.

So, listed above are some of the things that are easier to change. Do not underestimate the immensely liberating effect of freeing yourself from that which is unnecessary and wasteful and overwhelming. Once you have created space in your life you will be able to face the more squirrelly aspects of the human experience. You will find it easier to look into yourself and uproot and discard false beliefs and negative thoughts. I firmly believe that awakening or emergence is a process of purging that which is untrue. It is not about adding more things, but instead it’s about discarding what no longer serves your highest interest. Emerging is about purging.

Editing is defined as the preparing of (written) material for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it. I believe that the process of editing can also be applied to our lives. In fact, it may be essential to surviving the 21st century.

"Perception is a tool that is pointed at both ends"

It could be said that the price we pay for sight is seeing. For highly sensitive, intuitive or psychic people it can be difficult to interact with a world in which we can see all that lies behind the social masks of others. Although there is always an energy exchange that is occurring “behind the scenes”, a great deal of human interaction occurs mask to mask. The “Hey how you doing?  Love your shoes!” kind of mindless chit-chat that often fills the spaces between people. There is of course a time and place for these sorts of superficial exchanges, but what is disturbing is that for many this appears to be as deep as it goes. They look at the social mask and believe that this is who a person is. They behave as if the mask is all there is. They start to feel incredibly uncomfortable when you look past their social masks and attempt to interact with that which lies beyond it.

It is natural and easy for me to see beyond the superficial. What feels incredibly unnatural to me is superficial interaction. I have to fake being fake, which is an awkward and exhausting exercise. I would even go as far on a bad day to describe it as painful. And so for the most part I do what feels most natural to me and respond instead to the energies that lie beneath people’s words and actions. This produces mixed results. Some people find it invasive and disturbing, while others are fascinated and intrigued and sometimes even deeply moved.

The human experience is one of both light and shadow. In our darkest moments we may take comfort in the idea of a loving god, or a guardian angel or a spirit guide who is able to see inside of us and understand our suffering. Perhaps it is not the role of spirit beings to focus upon the shadows, perhaps that power belongs to us. Perhaps perception is not a pointed tool at all, but a torch. Perhaps our role is to shine the light of awareness onto the shadows we can see within others. Whether or not we deem it in the highest interest of ourselves and the other to speak or act on what we are able to see is up to us. But even without words or actions, seeing and understanding and acknowledging the shadows allows the light of awareness to shine on what would otherwise have remained in darkness.

I want you to fall in love with yourself

I want us to play together, to be playful in our interaction.
I want us to exchange energy for the joy of exchanging energy.
I want the presence within me to be present with the presence within you.
I want you to learn how to nourish and cherish and honour yourself.
I want you to learn how to be kind and gentle and forgiving to yourself.
I want you to see yourself the way spirit sees you.
I want you to accept and allow the beauty and magnificence that you truly are.
And above all else, I want you to fall in love with yourself.

On Being

There was no beginning and there will be no ending. All of the truths of all of the ages lies as a single grain of absolute knowing within the heart of every human being. There are no questions that need to be answered. Even the most banal of questions has the same answer as the most profound of questions. And that is that life is nothing more than an expression of being. Living is an expression of the eternal Beingness of all that is. Every shade, every nuance, every seemingly paradoxical situation or circumstance is merely a subtle variation on the same scale of expression. What is the purpose of this plethora of variations in the experience of being? They serve no purpose other than to experience being. There is nothing you have to do or achieve in this lifetime or any other. Simply being is enough.

Stop looking outside of yourself for some imagined form of fulfillment. Stop trying to effort specific circumstances into your experience. Allow the flow of your life to merge with the flow of the lives of those with whom you share this space and time. Say Yes to what is not harmful. Though in essence you cannot truly be harmed, there are certain things that may cause the illusion of discomfort. You do not need to say Yes to these things, you would be wise to avoid them without resisting them. Simply step away from them if they show up in your experience. But do not allow the fear of discomfort to stop you from showing up and saying Yes to life.

Even the most enlightened masters are not able to avoid the discomfort of unwanted circumstances. Though you are able to influence your energy vibration to some degree, it is not always possible to be on guard all of the time. In fact, the level of impeccable vigilance that is required to maintain a consistently high vibration can in itself create what you call “stress”. And this dis-ease will negatively affect your vibration. See the dichotomy? So just relax and take it in your stride. And know that sometimes your vibration will be higher and sometimes it will be lower. You are doing the best you can. You are not meant to be in perfect alignment all of the time. You are meant to experience contrast. That is why you have incarnated into the physical world. Your higher self would not be served by experiencing no contrast while you are incarnate. So don’t be so hard on yourself, you have done nothing to deserve or warrant any unwanted circumstance. Do not blame yourself and do not blame others. It is simply the contrast of the physical world expressing itself through you and thereby granting you the opportunity to step closer to the knowledge of who you truly are, which is an eternal being that has chosen to experience contrast. Some experiences will feel good and others less so. But each experience is in fact neutral. In other words, there is no good or bad, wanted or unwanted on the scale of experience.

Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, be gentle to your planet. There is no need to leave your mark. Every shift in your vibration, whether it appears to be felt by millions or seems to go by unnoticed, sends a ripple of realignment out into the Universe. This is a source of immense joy to all that is. The gratitude that is felt toward you is immeasurable.

That which wants nothing

Behind everything that I think I am lies a Still Awareness that wants nothing. Not wanting is the ultimate freedom. Being free is the ultimate joy. But it is a quiet joy that should not be confused with the temporary high we get from satisfying a desire. It may be true that our souls have preferences. But again, this should not be confused with wanting. Our soul’s preference is merely to lure us back into awareness of our true nature, which is the joy and freedom of simply being. When storm clouds are gathering, remember what it is that lies beyond all your current thoughts and beliefs. Lean gently toward that Still Awareness that wants nothing, and it will embrace you with open arms, and you will be filled with the incredible lightness of Being.