We have forgotten what we are.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female he created them”.
I may not identify as Christian, because my understanding of Jesus, God and the Bible don’t align with what most Christian churches teach today, (reading Marcus Borg’s book “The Heart of Christianity”is now making me think perhaps there is a place within Christianity where I could fit), but I studied the Bible for the first 40 years of my life. It is a sacred text, with many great spiritual truths in it, and because I live in a predominantly Christian country, which tends to regard the Bible as the only sacred text worth reading, I often like to refer the lessons Life has taught me into Christian language. There is a still a mistrust in many people towards Eastern Spirituality which I think is a great shame. There are many sacred texts and deep wisdom to be found there, and many of the great Eastern spiritual traditions provide a more practical framework than Christianity does, on how to incorporate this spiritual wisdom into everyday life.
I believe that God is universal. I do not believe that God is available specifically to people of one religion or another and not to others. This belief about Gods availability has been the cause of separation, intolerance, judgment, discrimination, anger, domination, superiority and wars. Whilst God cannot be blamed for mankind’s interpretation of God’s Will, if the results of a belief about God’s Will are the direct opposite of Love, then one has to wonder on a purely logical level alone, if perhaps the belief requires deeper contemplation with an open heart.
To get back to the topic of this blog post.
We Are Creators.
Like most verses in the Bible, the above verse is open to many different interpretations within the limited scope of the human mind to comprehend Spiritual matters, but my personal favourite interpretation of this verse is that God created mankind as Creators – like God is'(but to a lesser degree – clearly).
Even though the evidence of our ability to create is all around us – in the many physical products designed and then built by mankind and the manipulation of nature for our own comfort, this knowing of ourselves as creators has not been extended to every aspect of our life with conscious awareness.
Most of humanity has limited themselves severely.
We create our lifestyle – this is obvious when we think about it. However, we have allowed even that creation to be limited by the prevailing social and economic beliefs of the cultures we live in. We unconsciously adopt these beliefs, and they become ours, providing the parameters of mind within which we operate. The parameters of mind that limit us.
Most people have heard the awful story of the elephant who was chained by the foot to a post in the ground when it was young and kept there. When it was older and bigger, and much much stronger, the same chain and post kept it trapped there even though physically the elephant could now simply pull it out and walk away. It was trapped within the limits of that chain, because it had the belief it was. It still believed in the experience of the past, when it was little and powerless and the chain was stronger, and it remained trapped – by its belief.
Most humans are like this. Unconsciously living within the confines of limiting beliefs that keep them stuck. There are some exceptions of course – the people who do amazing things that seem to defy the limits of what was thought humanly possible. They do this, because somehow, they have broken the stranglehold of limiting beliefs, reached for the stars then had the will to take action and follow their dream.
Most of us, at one time or another, have awoken to the possibility of something different – a different choice perhaps – a standing up for ourselves – a step outside our personal box. We have often approached the change with caution, thinking our world might collapse, people might hate us, things might go frightfully awry, only to discover that the opposite is true, everything falls into place, things change for the better, and we look around wondering why the heck we put up with the status quo for so long before we made a move.
We put up for so long because of our sub-conscious limiting beliefs that told us safety lay within the known, and anything outside of the limits was unknown, scary and potentially a danger. Unless our desire for change arises from inspiration with its accompanying positive energy, (or total desperation), the feelings of fear and anxiety of stepping outside our comfort zone often overwhelm us and we sink back into the stupor of the known.
We Are Creators.
We have an enormous, untapped, personal potential for creating. And most of us barely scratch the surface.
In the country I live in, it is possible for the individual to feel they have a measure of control over their life. They can make choices. We are fortunate. But despite this freedom, depression, suicide, stress, anxiety, domestic violence, general violence and chronic illness are all on the rise. Dramatically on the rise.
A fundamental problem, I believe, is that we have all been mis-directed into using our creative abilities on the physical world. Our external world. We don’t use our creative abilities internally, within our mind. The focus is outward. This only brings a temporary happiness.
We Are Creators. While we cannot control a lot of what goes on outside of ourselves – Life still sends us (or seems to) accidents, death, job losses, wars, unpleasant people, unemployment, illness etc. We can use our creative abilities to manage how we experience life.
For some reason, this is a very under-rated ability. We Can Use Our Creative Abilities To Manage How We Experience Life.
This is really, really powerful. One of the most life-changing concepts you will come across. It has the power to literally transform your life. Not just your mental and emotional life, but it on-flows to your physical life also.
Imagine you and your neighbour experience the death of a partner. The light goes out of her life. She struggles to accept and adjust. He was too young, it isn’t fair, I’m alone, I’m frightened -she sinks into grief and despair, and ultimately ends up on anti-depressants. She shuts down through fear and sorrow. You, on the other hand have consciously chosen to use your creativity within your mind. You have chosen to adopt beliefs about life and death that sustain you. You believe that everything unfolds perfectly in Divine order, in Divine timing. You trust that you live in a universe that supports you. You open your heart to the outpouring of love and support from friends and family, you believe you are all Eternal Souls, that death is not the end, but a transition. You open your heart to finding love and peace and joy, because you aren’t trapped in negative beliefs about life and death. Can you imagine how different your experiences of a similar event are going to be?
This is just a tiny example of the power of perception and it’s affects on our life. We all perceive the world in a particular way, based on our conditioned mind, mostly we do this unconsciously, and believe that our perceptions are real – they are to us. But we can change them, and change our life for the better in the process.
We Are Creators.
We are not victims of life, except within our own mind. We are Eternal Spirit having a human experience.
We have the ability to change our mind.
And when we bring our Soul into the equation and seek to align our minds and bodies with the Eternal aspect of ourselves – Ah… then, we’ve brought in the big guns, and our life will improve beyond our wildest dreams.
You don’t have to believe me. I have lived the victim-hood role. Now I am living the conscious creator role. I am happy to report that the latter is incomparably better. This has been my life journey and it is very real to me. You have your own path and your own choices, but please, please, open your mind and heart to greater possibilities – open your mind and heart to you as a creator: empowered, inspired and inspirational.
This is what we are. It is just our limiting sub-conscious beliefs that convince us otherwise.
Free yourself and fly.
I guess you could say that at the age of forty, when life as I knew it feel apart, I experienced a deep existential crisis. Possibly one of the greatest gifts Life could have sent me at the time. It didn’t feel that way then.
I realised I had created a story about myself that was falling apart at the seams. When all the structure around my life fell away, I was left with nothing but myself – and I was confronted with a stranger.
I had no idea who “Rebecca” was. Somewhere along the way, I had lost myself.
Among many other disconcerting and at times distressing realisations about who and what I was, it became clear to me that I was driven by a deep need to please people. I needed to be agreeable, liked, approved, and inoffensive. I was highly alert to the feelings and energy of other people – it was my survival technique. I was exceptionally good at reading people, and in my early teens, recognising this skill, I knew I would need to use it with as much integrity as I could otherwise I would descend into manipulating people for my own ends. I was doing that anyway, by pleasing people so that I would be approved of, but it was in the main, only destructive to myself. Thank God for that tiny insight at a young age.
As all the beliefs I had previously held about myself, life, death and God began to crumble, I was in a wasteland of terror and uncertainty. Most of us human beings like to keep our lives ordered and relatively predictable. This helps to ease the deep seated fear of the ego mind that it isn’t in complete control of life. We tend to live our lives unconsciously, based on our past, thinking about and working towards a future. Not being present. Doing the same things, repeating the same behaviours, only moderating our beliefs slightly if needed. It seems that few people actively question the beliefs that have been instilled in them by their culture . Most people live, seemingly unaware that their mind has been conditioned by their environment and their perceptions as a child, and that most of their reactions, and often their actions are a result of this conditioning. I was no different. In fact I was probably more conditioned than most, and had for the most part blindly believed and trusted what I was told.
To know yourself is to liberate yourself.
It is true freedom.
Knowing yourself walks hand in hand with loving yourself. If they can walk together, the journey is gentler because the journey inwards requires courage. It requires stamina, willingness, openness, humility and forgiveness. It can sound daunting, but everything you need will be supplied along the way if you just show up; Open, without judgment, trusting that everything is unfolding perfectly, supporting you in your quest. Because it is. I know this because I’ve walked my own path inwards. I Still am.
At this point, you may be thinking it sounds uncomfortable, why would you want to do this?
Because it will transform your life in ways you couldn’t imagine. It will bring you peace, and love, and joy. Happiness, resilience, patience, wisdom and strength. It will make you strong and clear. You will navigate life with increasing ease. You will be free from the past. No longer reactive, a helpless victim to subconscious belief systems that seem to want to sabotage your life.
Most people don’t seem to have even a basic understanding of the mind – because we aren’t taught about it. Less understanding of the mind-body connection, and even less understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection. We are taught in our schools to focus on that which is outside of ourselves. We are taught to use our mind to think in an intellectual way. We are taught how to function in the culture we live in, and in particular, how to contribute to its economics in a positive way. And yet…..we ARE a Spirit, we INHABIT a body, and HAVE a mind, and most of us go through life having no idea what this means, or how to manage these aspects of ourselves in order to extract the most JUICE out of being alive.
Who are you? What are you? Are your beliefs about who and what you are, positive? Do they enable you to wake up each morning with a sense of excitement about what life will bring today? By the end of each day, do you feel awe at the wonderful synchronicity, insights, beauty and love you experienced throughout the day? Do your beliefs about yourself enable you to face life with confidence and ease? Do your beliefs about who and what you are, result in an overflowing of love, goodwill, tolerance and acceptance towards other people? Do your beliefs about yourself allow you to enter so deeply into the flow of life, that abundance and love and joy and peace are the main components of your life?
If your answer is no to any or all of these questions, then what you are believing about yourself is wrong. And it is completely within your power to change it so your answers to the questions can become a resounding YES.
At this point, you may be wondering what I am on. (Too much morphine perhaps?). This is not what we have been taught. This is not a perception of life or ourselves that organically arises through living in our culture. I believe there are many, many, fundamental errors in thinking that are so deeply embedded in our culture that we don’t even question them. Often we aren’t even aware of them.
There is one in particular that I want to mention here, because I believe it is at the base of so many of our problems both personally and culturally, and it ties in with knowing yourself.
It is the deep-seated belief that as human beings, we are intrinsically bad. Not good enough. Sinful.
I believe the opposite is true. We Are Eternal Spirit, We Inhabit a Body, We Have a Mind. Every single one of us. All of the time. At our core, beneath the conditioned mind, the ignorance, the bias, the fear; We Are Good. The challenge in each lifetime is to know ourselves as that, seeking beyond the outer layers of damaged mind to reconnect with the Goodness within.
Before you write me off as some fluffy, New Age Pollyanna out of touch with reality, I want to share something with you. Three years ago, I was a participant in a program in the local men’s prison. I spent one day a week for seven weeks (I did the program five times), inside the men’s prison, sitting in a room with four other visitors and fourteen inmates. This program was a voluntary program both for those who came into the prison and the prison residents who participated. It was a program that brought together perpetrators of crime and victims of crime. Not THE perpetrator with THE victim, but general perpetrators and victims of crime. The program provided a space where victims of crime shared their story, and the impact of that crime on their life. The perpetrators also, had the opportunity to tell their story. The purpose of the program was that a deeper understanding within the perpetrators of the on-going consequences of their actions on the victim would perhaps touch a part of them that would help them on a path to rehabilitation. For the victims, the opportunity was to use their trauma for good, a healing perhaps; an opportunity to be heard.
It is up there as one of the most initially terrifying and life-changing experiences of my life. I sat with drug addicts, men who had murdered, raped, committed horrible acts of violence. Men who had been in and out of prison all their lives, men with unhealthy sexual preferences, men who had cheated, lied, stolen, abused, violated, threatened, hurt other people and hurt their communities.
Without exception, they listened with deep respect to my story. They sat, so deeply suffering themselves, and listened as I shared with them my vulnerability, the fear and shame and pain that I had experienced; my difficult road to recovery. And these men, these men, who had been condemned, dismissed and banished, held me so tenderly in love and respect that on one of the sessions after telling my story, another visitor, an elderly man, wiped tears from his eyes and said “the love, that is in this room for you Rebecca, can be felt”.
No-one will ever convince me, that we all, as Eternal Spirits, inhabiting a body, having a mind, are not intrinsically Good.
Those seventy or more men I met in the prison all had a story to tell. Many of their stories were heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching stories of trauma, abuse, abandonment, violence, addiction and loss. And yes, we can say – “we all have a choice” but sometimes there is no understanding of another way, another choice. Sometimes, there is simply survival, the only way you know how. We cannot change until we can. I cannot say, after listening to those men’s stories, that if I had experienced their childhood, had their conditioned thought patterns, lived their life, that I would have acted any differently. I cannot say that. Those men taught me not to judge. They helped me to heal. They taught me to see beyond the outward appearance. Namaste… I see God in you.
This is not to deny that there are some people – a very few, who seem to be so devoid of feeling that they are capable of committing horrific acts against their fellow humans without remorse. This is not to deny the evil and ugliness that humans inflict on each other, the animal kingdom and nature.
Hurt people, hurt people.
And this is why we need to know ourselves. When we are hurt (and we all are), it is from those wounds that we hurt others and ourselves. When we are hurt, we don’t live our most joyful, peaceful loving life.
We all hurt because we have negative sub-conscious beliefs that tell us we aren’t good enough. We have negative sub-conscious beliefs that tell us that people will hurt us and we need to protect ourselves, put on a mask, hide our vulnerabilities. We all hurt because we have been taught that the world is a place of survival, a place of competition, a place of having to be better, the best, have the most, in order to be successful. We all hurt because at some point, we didn’t feel loved or accepted and it cut deep because we believed it. We all hurt because we don’t feel whole.
So we project these hidden hurts on others, or ourselves. Through racism, violence, control, manipulation, self serving, conditional loving, intolerance, competition, punishment, self-sabotage and judgment. And in the process we hurt ourselves, because what we project out, is the world we see reflected back, and the hurt grows.
Know Yourself and stop the cycle of hurt.
So how to begin?
The same way as I mentioned in my previous blog on loving yourself. The same techniques, will help you to know yourself.
Set the intention to know yourself. Journal, Meditate, Observe yourself. Look at every experience as an opportunity to grow, and that is how you will experience it. Don’t blame anyone or anything. Reflect on the idea of yourself as Eternal Spirit. Begin to trust and reconnect with that part of you. Begin to talk to that “Higher self”, and it will become real.
As a little exercise, sit quietly, close your eyes, and say “At my core, I am wise, powerful, loving Eternal Spirit. I am Worthy, Unconditionally Loved, Completely Accepted. This who I am”. Repeat it several times with meaning, Slowly. Savour it. Feel it. Luxuriate in its truth. Notice how you feel. Good right?
Now, if you want to ruin the lovely feeling, tell yourself “I am stupid and weak and pathetic. I stuff up all the time, my life sucks and I’m scared I am unloveable and not good enough”. Repeat it several times with meaning. Slowly. Savour it. Notice how you feel. Not so good, right?
Repeat the first part of the exercise so you end on a pleasant note. Why, oh why, on a purely practical level, don’t we all chose to believe and re-affirm over and over to ourselves that we are “wise, powerful, loving Eternal Spirit. who are worthy, unconditionally loved and completely accepted”???? When we believe this, we begin to act in ways that are in alignment with this belief. When we believe in other lesser, negative things about ourselves, we act in ways that are in alignment with that. SIMPLE. Its that simple.
Try it for a week. Everyday, as many times a day as you remember. Remind yourself of what you really are. It is the beginning of removing negative programs and replacing with positive ones.
It will change your life for the better, and it will help change the world for the better because one more person living and loving life joyfully and peacefully affects others around them. It makes a difference for good.
A wonderful, exciting journey of self-discovery awaits that leads to true freedom.
Who wouldn’t want that?
I spent 4 days in hospital recently as a result of the physical symptoms I was experiencing (my first nights in hospital in 13 years of living with cancer – not bad going!). A CT scan (it was 16 months since my last), showed a tumour encroaching on the sac around my heart – needless to say, my heart isn’t very happy about it. Of the many, many tumours in my body, this one is the most immediately life-threatening.
Based on the scan results, the Doctors expect me to die quite soon. They may be right, they may be wrong. My centre of consciousness is not based primarily in the physical realm, therefore in my mind, and with everything I have experienced, anything is possible. Complete Healing, Physical death, and anything in between.
A Course in Miracles says “Miracles are natural. When they do not occur, something has gone wrong”.
This statement is part of a lot of statements about miracles, which should be read together,(I thoroughly recommend doing the Course in Miracles workbook if you are serious about changing your perception of reality) however, in the mind state that I live in, Miracles are natural, and should never be discounted.
Because of the somewhat precarious state of my body (Apparently. Except for my heart, the rest of my body still works ridiculously well), I have decided to share, hopefully with some rapidity, the wonderful lessons that I have learned in my journey through 53 years of life (so far) on this planet. These lessons have been the source of my transformation from anxiety and fear into love and joy and peace. I hope that there are some snippets of wisdom held within them that will inspire others to follow their own personal path of transformation into living primarily in a state of love and joy and peace. Even in the face of death.
The first lesson I want to talk about is Loving Yourself.
There have been many misconceptions over the years about what this means. Christianity in particular has been very wary about promoting self love in its followers even although Jesus specifically instructed to “love thy neighbour as thyself”. This was the second part of a two-part commandment. The first part said to “love the Lord thy God with all your heart, your mind and your soul… and love thy neighbour as thyself”. Clearly, if you don’t love yourself first, it is difficult to love your neighbour. Most dysfunctional relationships have a basis in a lack of self love that spills out and contaminates the relationship in a multitude of ways.
There is a very good reason, I believe, why Jesus instructed to love God first. Because as we open to Divine Spirit/Life/Being/God, whichever you choose to call the Spiritual Power that runs the universe, we begin to understand our own divinity, our own true eternal nature beyond the physical body and conditioned mind that is in the foreground of our physical experience of life as a human being. We begin to see past that, and gain a perspective of Life that liberates us from fear and anxiety. It also saves us from our conditioned mind running with the delightful idea of loving itself (it doesn’t – it is generally terrified that it is unworthy and unloveable), and turning it into a shallow, narcissistic and self centred love that doesn’t transform.
I want to be very clear here, that I do not identify as Christian. Especially not in the sense that it is meant today. Some of the Christian teachings are beautiful. Many do not resonate with me at all. I use a Christian based language sometimes because I live in a culture that is predominantly Christian. I have spent many years learning ancient wisdom that does not align itself with a religion in particular, but Spirit in general. My experience is that Spirit is freely available to any and all, is in fact In everything and Is everything and therefore unavoidable: “there is no state, no place, no time, where God isn’t”. The wonder and transformation begins when we become conscious of this Spiritual Power and begin to consciously align ourself with it. Religion tends to place limits on God. There are no limits – the only limits are in our mind.
In my experience, loving yourself well, is helped enormously by opening your mind to the idea that you are a soul. You ARE a Soul. Not; you Have a Soul. You are a beautiful, wise, loving, powerful soul who is always connected to the Divine Source. Choosing to acknowledge and align your mind and body to your Soul is the beginning of a journey of transformation into love, joy and peace. It is the journey that fills your life with meaning and calm and inspiration. The journey that teaches you how to live joyfully. Fear and Anxiety fade, Love and Peace move in. And take up permanent residence. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes work, but it gets easier and easier, because you realise that all you need to do is be open and show up. The people, the books, the learning – whatever you need for your growth arrives. In time, on time. Everytime.
You, as eternal soul, are completely loveable, completely worthy just by virtue of Being. You are unconditionally loved, held in love. No Matter What.
I used to think, way back when I thought I needed to be perfect; that I was only acceptable if I was perfect, “why did God design me like this then tell me I needed to transcend it?”. It felt unjust. I felt like a sinful, weak victim of my humanness.
I absolutely believe that we are Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience, not Human Beings having a Spiritual Experience. It may seem like a moot point, but it is an incredibly important distinction that has a huge impact on how we see ourself and the world.
Knowing yourself as a Spiritual Being having a human experience, opens up the space wherein you are able to love yourself with increasing ease. You understand that you are here to learn and grow. You hold your human foibles and frailties with increasing lightness, and no longer have the need to protect and defend them. You no longer identify yourself completely as personality and body. You become increasingly open to life and people, because you no longer need to hide through fear of unworthiness or rejection. It is a paradox that as you examine your shadows, the parts you are ashamed of, the scared parts, and allow yourself to be vulnerable, open, you actually become stronger and less vulnerable because you have perspective. You understand that everyone is flawed and struggle at some point. Everyone has self-doubts and fearful negative thoughts, but instead of falling into them, and acting as though that is all you are, you observe them and smile gently, forgivingly, and return to loving yourself. You are just here to learn, its ok to make mistakes, that is often how we learn.
Love and accept yourself.
There is enormous power in that.
I used to think “well its all very well for me to know this, but everyone doesn’t seem to, and its not going to stop them judging or criticising me or rejecting me”. No its not. But, as you grow into loving yourself, what other people say no longer affects you much. You see it for what it is – somebody else’s opinion – you have plenty of your own don’t you? It no longer triggers a fear reaction in you. If someone accuses you of being selfish for instance, instead of becoming offended and feeling the need to defend or attack in return, you simply centre within yourself and ask yourself where, at any time, you have acted in a manner that was selfish, and if you find a time when you have acted selfishly (and you will), you can calmly say “I can see why you would say that”, and thank them for pointing it out to you.
Oh the bliss of not reacting!
(And it is disconcerting for your attacker – their words have no power.)
If the person continues to attack and accuse, you simply choose to move away from them. Self love brings self respect, and it becomes easy to make choices based in self respect. Most people, unless they have serious unresolved issues that they are trying to blame on you, will respect a “line drawn in the sand” and in spite of some initial resistance to the change, will respect your new boundaries.
We model how we let other people treat us. If we are sending out an energy of inherent unworthiness, believing that we need to please others to be acceptable, letting them treat us in ways that are disrespectful, some people will respond accordingly, and often we end up feeling like a victim. Don’t condemn these people, we all have our faults, but see them as a gift sent by life, to teach you how to stand up and respect and love yourself. Change your energy by changing your beliefs, and it affects the dynamics of every relationship and every experience of life. it is that powerful.
So, how do we learn to love ourselves in a healthy way?
Many of the problems in this world could be resolved if people took this first step. Very few (If any), people escape childhood without developing some feelings of unworthiness, it is part of our learning experience as human beings. This unworthiness is the cause of most of our pain, and the pain we inflict on others by our behaviour.
Begin by opening to the notion of yourself as a Spiritual Being having a Human Experience. This does not need to involve a religious experience. Spirit is available to everyone all the time. This is simply acknowledging who you are. It will resonate with you as you sit with it, because it is truth.
Meditation is great, it helps you to be more still and to open. It also develops awareness.
Affirmations are useful if they resonate with you. Louise Hay was the queen of these, and her mirror work is very powerful. Read her books, or watch a youtube video.
Be willing to stop hiding your shadows. The parts you are ashamed of. The parts that are scared. When you feel the need to defend or attack, ask yourself why you feel like that. Don’t accept it as “just the way I am” It isn’t. It is the direct result of a subconscious belief you developed as a child that no longer serves you. Ask for help to let it surface, so you can let it go. True freedom is not being controlled by your past, not being triggered into reaction. It is a beautiful, incredibly strong place to be. It allows you to be more present. Seek the help of a professional – psychologist or therapist to help you if you can afford it. Having someone hold space for you as you investigate the wounded parts is incredibly helpful. Tell yourself you only want someone who is a good fit with you. If it isn’t the first therapist, move on until you find the right one.
Begin to watch your self-talk. How do you talk to yourself when you are angry or frustrated? When you feel unloved? Do you hate on yourself, or do you project that rage onto the cause of your distress. Don’t talk to yourself worse than you would talk to someone else. Don’t blame, that keeps you in victimhood.
Write in a journal. If you can manage it, write 3 small pages each morning. Just write, randomly. It doesn’t need to make sense. Just write whatever nonsense comes into your head. This practise helps you to become aware of your thoughts, and can give important insights into how you think. Write when you are angry or upset – again, just write whatever comes into you head. I would be very surprised if you aren’t horrified and amazed at the thoughts and ideas you have about life. Don’t judge. Just ask for guidance and clarity so you can move out of beliefs that don’t serve you. Writing while emotional, is also a physical release. It can help you to move through the emotion quicker.
Marissa Peer is an incredibly gifted Hynotherapist, Counsellor, Coach and Healer. She has many free videos on Youtube including one on Unworthiness.
These are just a few ideas. Your intention is what is important. Once you set an intention to love yourself, life will bring you what you need. it will bring you the books or support. It will also bring the people who will challenge you and trigger you – that make you dig deep to recognise and let go of the beliefs that no longer serve. Your job is to be open to whatever arises… Don’t make judgements that experiences which come are bad because they are uncomfortable. Choose to be open for the lesson within. When you do this and don’t resist What Is, it will be easier and you will move through the discomfort quickly, finding the peace and love and joy that lies beneath.
Set the intention
Do the work
Reap the rewards.
Love, Joy and Peace to you.
I had this astounding moment of clarity today where I could see that human beings, with very few exceptions, are primarily self absorbed and self-interested. Myself, most definitely included.
This is not a condemnation – it is simply a fact. It is the way we are designed, therefore we can hardly despise ourselves for it, and when we accept this and begin to look beyond it, a whole different perception arises in our reality.
I guess it is a biological thing. I don’t have the scientific words to explain it. I haven’t had the time yet to research it, but my feeling is that it is grounded deep within a survival instinct both in the mind and the body. That makes it a powerful force. I wouldn’t imagine it is possible to transcend it completely, without a high level of spiritual awareness and an absolute sense of living in a completely supportive universe thereby feeling safe enough for this survival instinct to be unnecessary.
With 7.8 billion human beings walking on this earth almost all of whom are operating out of an ego that is primarily self-interested, it is a wonder there isn’t even more conflict than there is. Fortunately we have evolved sufficiently over thousands of years to understand that co-operation tends to bring more positive results than individual endeavour. It is still pretty hit and miss though. Most people are not yet consciously aware of their biases.
Everyone operates from, and sees the world through their biases. We filter everything through our biases and belief systems, unconsciously choosing anything that fits in with our views and generally discarding the rest. If we are lucky, something comes along and shakes us out of our indifference, forcing us to change the way we live. Usually this is a trauma or an event that culturally we would label as bad. Any culture whose priority is towards physical comfort rather than personal/spiritual growth is never going to welcome or grow easily through trauma and difficulty.
We all spend our lives trying to adjust our world to make ourselves comfortable. And we waste a lot of time and energy taking things personally that aren’t about us at all. We have probably all had the experience of someone not acting towards us in a manner we expected – perhaps a new acquaintance not being as friendly as we would have liked, or a friend seeming a bit distant, and we have decided that it is about us. They didn’t like us, we must have done something wrong, we feel slighted and indignant, sometimes holding onto it for days or even years, and then we find out that something big was going on in their own life, and they had simply been focused on that, distracted, it wasn’t about us at all, and suddenly our feelings towards them or ourselves change, . We realise it wasn’t about us, but we had taken it personally. This happens everyday, many times a day, all over the world, because we are the centre of our own universe.
It’s all about us.
True altruism is very hard to come by. Many of us do things for other people out of the kindness of our heart, but there is still always an element of self-interest there. It can be to get our own needs met, it can be to get positive attention, we may need to “people please” because we have an unconscious belief that we won’t be liked if we don’t keep others happy often to our own detriment. Until we manage to transcend our ego through constant self-awareness and spiritual work, we are locked into operating from a position of self-interest. This may seem like very sad news, but it isn’t. As we accept that this is so, (awareness and acceptance helps us to stop protecting our self-interest), we can begin to be more open to life, less reactive, and more tolerant of other people. It is possible to grow into a space where we understand that our self-interest, in the form of wanting to be happy, peaceful, loving, fulfilled, doesn’t need to be in competition with everyone else’s self interest because we are able to generate these positive feelings from within ourselves. We don’t need other people to provide them for us. We don’t need physical circumstances to be a certain way, We don’t need all our ducks lined up perfectly for us to be happy. When we reach this state, we can be genuinely altruistic.
Everyone is simply wanting to be happy and loved and loving.. including the drug addict and alcoholic. There is nothing wrong with this self-interest – in fact it is healthy. The problem lies in what we are doing to achieve it. If the majority of humans were able to realise that going inwards with honesty and integrity and a genuine desire to know themselves was the way to happiness and love instead of looking for it outside of themselves, in the bottle, the drug, the other person, the possessions, the power, the position, the world would be transformed into a much nicer place to live very quickly.
There is a very obvious example of under-lying self-interest in a common experience of life which we are mostly oblivious to because it is “normal”.
Lets look at grief. This is probably going to make me very unpopular, but I just want to put this out there as a beginning in recognising self-interest for what it is. You don’t have to agree with me. I am just saying.
I believe that when we grieve for someone who has died, the sorrow is predominantly about ourselves. This does not make it bad. It just is, but there is something very liberating about recognising that we are actually crying for ourselves. Crying because our life has changed. Crying because we no longer have someone who we felt made us feel loved, safe, protected, comfortable..whatever it is, (these feelings actually come from within ourselves and we project them on to another), and from the fear that we may no longer feel them again from someone else. Crying because the dreams we had for a future have been broken. Crying because our life has changed and we were comfortable. Some people who have horrible spiritual beliefs that don’t include an unconditionally loving God are cursed with the burden of believing their loved one has gone to hell if they haven’t shared the same religious beliefs, in which case grief can masquerade as noble and not self-interested, but I still believe on a deep level it is.
Liberation comes from realising that if we are crying for ourselves, then we are not stuck as a hopeless victim of grief as a result of a loved one dying. If we are mourning for ourselves, and the effect of the death on our life, then we have the power to change the story we tell ourselves, and change the way we experience the loss. The big problem arises when we believe we are mourning the person who has died, we realise we can’t bring them back, and then we think we can’t change the way we feel, because they are gone. We end up trapped in grief, close ourselves off from life and new opportunities and fail to recognise the potential for love and joy that underlies everything in the universe. Including death.
The rise to media prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the discussion around white privilege have made it glaringly obvious to me how we all operate from our own biases. Until last week, I genuinely had no concept that I had privileges simply because of my skin colour. I am not insensitive, however I had no idea that racism is so systemic and covert. I have always strongly condemned aggressive and overt racist attacks without understanding that these are simply the tip of an iceberg. The fact that I felt affronted initially at the notion of white privilege, feeling like the bad “other” (a feeling that people with darker skin than mine experience many, many times), showed to me that without conscious awareness of the fact, I had a belief about myself that my ego felt compelled to defend. Initially, everything within me arose to reject the notion that I was privileged or in anyway responsible for enabling a lack of equality. It was liberating to be able to acknowledge how I felt and simply allow myself to open to the possibility that I had a bias that I wasn’t consciously aware of. We all do. It shouldn’t be shameful to admit this. From this point, it was then easy to move into a space whereby I could see another point of view without feeling the need to defend my own. It actually takes a lot more energy to stay in your bias and defend than to acknowledge it and open to other points of view. It also feels so much better.
The last three weeks has brought me a health challenge in the form of fluid around my heart which has irritated the heart. The timing of this has puzzled me, because on the one hand, the Chinese Medicine I am taking is reducing the tumors, and I have a strong belief that I am healing, and yet I suddenly develop fluid around my heart which I am aware medical professionals believe is the next stage of the disease. I never believe that a symptom is here to stay. I always believe that it is here right now, but there is as much possibility that it will pass as there is that it will stay.
I ended up in the local Emergency Department again yesterday with ongoing heart palpitations on even the smallest of exertion. I really didn’t want to go as the last time I was there, I was stuck in an isolation room for 12 hours, but I felt it was important I went to find out whether I should be resting, and why the palpitations were happening. I was very fortunate. There was only one other person in the waiting room, and I was on a bed within 15 minutes, being examined. My good fortune continued… the nurse was lovely, and I was allocated a beautiful woman doctor from Jordan who was fully supportive of my past decisions to refuse conventional treatment for the cancer, assuring me it was my body, and she would respect my decisions. She told me that many women in her country were choosing to use herbs to treat cancer, and that she had thought she would never meet someone ” like me” in this country.
They took blood samples to check my electrolytes etc, and within an hour came back to report that the blood results were excellent. The senior consultant, another woman, accompanied the doctor, and remarked that looking at my blood results and looking at me, you could not tell that there was anything wrong with my body. She also, was fully supportive and non-judgmental and told me to continue what I was doing, because it was clearly working. It was decided that I needed to rest for a few days while the “water tablets” began working, and that the palpitations were not life threatening unless I started to find myself losing consciousness or really struggling to breathe. I was happy with this, and was on my way home within three hours of heading up to the hospital earlier.
It was lovely to receive support from the medical profession, because some doctors are less than happy if you don’t do the treatment they believe in. Today I have stayed resting in bed, much to my annoyance because I feel so well, and I have had no palpitations whatsoever, even on getting up to shower and toilet.
So I was lying in bed this afternoon mulling over the events of the last few weeks and the last two days in particular, and idly wondering why this was all happening, when I suddenly thought “what if its not all about me?… what if I simply needed to be at the Emergency Department yesterday sharing my story?… what if one of those Doctors or nurses is able to give someone else much needed hope in the future by repeating my story?”. I may never know why, or even if, it was necessary for me to be at the hospital yesterday. I may never know if it was meaningful in the scheme of things or not, but it seemed so clear to me how much we limit our own potential and our own growth, by having a tiny, tiny biased view on what is happening. Usually one based almost totally on how we are being affected. We really have no clue.
Because you showed up yesterday and smiled at the homeless man, you may have just implanted within him a sense of hope that helps him move towards a better life. Because you thanked the elderly gentleman who opened the shop door for you, met his eye and smiled warmly, you may have alleviated his loneliness and feelings of being worthless to society now that he no longer works. Because you listened, really listened to the person who poured out their life story to you on the train, they may have felt seen and heard for the first time in their life and that was enough for them to choose not to take their own life that night.
It is never all about us although we tend to live from this paradigm. Quantum physics talks about how a butterfly flapping its wings in South America has an impact on the other side of the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that we do not live in isolation. If, as many believe, we are all connected by a field of energy, then everything we do, everything we think, everything we say, is impacting on that field and everything in it.
Our little self has no understanding beyond the most basic, as to what is going on. We have no idea what truth is. Everyone sees everything through their own unique biases and filters. Including you. Including me. The media is particularly skilled at pretending to have no bias. It does. Once we truly understand this, it is difficult to take a stance, then vehemently defend it.
We should be fluid.
This does not equate to weak and easily manipulated. When we are clear about our values and centred in them, but not rigidly attached to a viewpoint, we are able to live life open to new experiences, new wisdom, new possibilities. We are open to change, therefore we are open to life. Life is change. Life is movement.
Underlying all the universe is Love, Joy and Peace, but we may never recognise or experience this if we live our lives within rigid, preconceived parameters of good and bad.
Drop the need to label events or people, or anything, right or wrong. Anything can be used for good. It is in our power to do so. Individually or collectively. We can choose to open, soften and grow or we can chose to close, harden and stagnate. Our world is changing rapidly at the moment. It seems that chaos abounds. Maybe it isn’t chaos. Maybe this radical global upheaval is ushering in change that will benefit the earth, ourselves and future generations. If we all choose to be open, soft and to grow, the change will not be painful. If we resist, we will eventually be dragged kicking and screaming. Either way, change will happen.
Imagine if happiness became a national ambition instead of material wealth. Imagine if politicians stood in pure integrity, seeking what was best for the people instead of trying to work out what agenda will help them get elected. Imagine if everyone realised that co-operation, tolerance and kindness made life much more enjoyable than competition and selfishness.
Humanity needs to wake up.
I think it is.
What does this mean? To be open?
I have been reading Michael A Singer’s book “The Untethered Soul’.
I have been reading this book sporadically for many months. My sister recommended it to me months ago and I bought it, but it is taking me a very long time to read it. This is not because it is difficult to read, not at all: rather, this book is one of those that you need to read a little at a time and allow the wisdom to do its work on an unconscious level. He describes things in a very practical and simple way.
In chapter 5, called “infinite energy”, he talks about our inner energy. Understanding energy, even in a very simple way, is empowering. Why? Because we are energy. Our body is energy. Our thoughts are energy. Our consciousness is energy. Why are we not taught this is High School?
We are energy.
He says “look at the times in your life when you were in love, or excited or inspired by something. You were so filled with energy that you didn’t even want to eat. This energy we are discussing does not come from the calories your body burns from food. There is a source of energy you can draw on from inside. It is distinct from the outer energy source”. Light-bulb moment for me here. My awareness sat up and took notice and said “wow, that is true, I hadn’t consciously thought about it like that before”.
To further illustrate the point, he describes a scenario where you have been dumped by your boyfriend who you believe is the love of your life. You are so depressed you can barely get out of bed. Life seems flat and grey. You feel listless. You are barely eating. Then the phone rings and he is on the end of the phone telling you that he made a terrible mistake. He realises that he really loves you and doesn’t want to live without you… Can he come over?
You experience an instant surge of energy. You suddenly feel completely alive and vibrant.
Where did this energy come from?
Michael Singer describes it thus “What you’ll see, if you watch carefully, is that you have a phenomenal amount of energy inside you. It doesn’t come from food and it doesn’t come from sleep. This energy is always available to you. At any moment, you can draw on it. It just wells up and fills you from inside. When you are filled with this energy, you feel like you can take on the world. When it is flowing strongly, you can actually feel it coursing through you in waves. It gushes up spontaneously from deep inside and restores and replenishes and recharges you”.
Does this sound like something you would want to experience all the time?
He goes on to say “the only reason you don’t feel this energy all the time is because you block it. You block it by closing your heart, by closing your mind, and by pulling yourself into a restrictive space inside.This closes you off from all the energy. This is what it means to be blocked. That is why you have no energy when you are depressed”.
So how do we keep open?
Closing is a habit. Once we are consciously aware of this energy, we can choose to be open all the time. We can feel when we close. Fear in all its forms closes us. Rigid opinions close us. Blindly believing that what we have been taught by our culture is true closes us. Our insecurities close us.
Being conscious of ourselves is the key. Recognising the difference between how we feel when we are closed and how we feel when we are open, regularly checking in, and choosing to open if we are closed, creates the habit of being open. We want to practice being open until we develop the habit of being open -this is what we want, because then it is effortless. We live life effortlessly open.
Life is constant flow and movement. Constant change. When we accept this and choose to embrace whatever comes along without resistance, suffering ceases. We are open, and life rewards us with increased energy, inspiration and flow. No matter what happens. Once we truly believe that we live in a universe designed to support us and that life happens for us not to us, we can be open. Once we realise that it is ok we aren’t perfect, nobody else is either and that we are worthy and loveable just as we are, we can be open. Once we realise that our real “I” is not the ego, but rather an eternal consciousness that is incredibly wise, resilient and unaffected by the ridiculous problems the ego obsesses about, we can be open.
The majority of beliefs that we, in the western world have been taught, close us. For several hundred years, we have prided ourselves on being progressive and even superior. And yes, we are progressive in science and technology and living conditions. These progressions are great, but when our spirituality does not progress in synchronicity with our science, we end up with the world we now live in. One where money and power and the material, physical world are the most important. This can only bring suffering. One where people are not self-aware and are driven more by sub-conscious reactive programs than by conscious choices. One where violence is idealised on screens and permeates into our homes and streets. One where people who provide us with entertainment are paid 100, 1000, 10,000. 100,000 times more than those who serve and nurture and heal. One where our leaders act like petulant children in parliament, attacking and ridiculing each other instead of acknowledging difference of opinion and calmly, respectfully working together for the good of the people. One where success is measured by how much money and possessions a person owns instead of how much their lives have contributed to lifting the consciousness of humanity through kindness, love, integrity and inspiration.
Initially, it takes courage to be open. The protective behaviours our mind develops at a young age to shield us from hurt, become our sub-conscious programs and it is frightening for our minds to let them go. Our mind developed them with the best of intentions – to keep us safe, and maybe they were needed when we were vulnerable children, but now we are adults, they no longer serve our best interests. We need to develop our self-awareness, thank the programs that no longer serve us and let them go. At the same time, we need to actively develop beliefs that inspire and uplift us. When fear leaves the room, love enters.
Living open is true freedom. It is fearless living. It is our birthright.
Living open connects us with our spirit. It connects us with Life. We don’t resist what IS, but rather seek to see how we can learn and grow in any situation, believing that a benevolent universe has brought it to us for our good. We seek to find the joy, peace and love that underlies the whole universe.
I have learned to be more open. Not always open, but working on it. I used to be closed with fear. I didn’t trust myself, I had no concept of a universe that supported me, and I feared suffering. Increasing suffering tenfold by torturing myself with worst case scenarios. Gradually letting fear go, I began to trust that it was safe to be open. When I realised my own worth, I understood it IS safe to be open. I didn’t need to cling to rigid ideas in order to keep my world the same, I was free to question and seek and try out other ideas for size. Choosing ideas and beliefs that bring me peace and love. Believing that everything that happens is for my higher good.
This week I experienced some physical symptoms that culminated in 12 hours in the local Emergency Department. I had been experiencing pain when breathing and breathlessness that gradually increased, and after 5 days, I decided it might be better to get it checked out. I am fairly in tune with my body, and although the medical professionals were concerned about a blood clot in my lung, I didn’t feel this was the case. Interestingly, because they had decided to look for a blood clot, and the scan didn’t show one, I was sent home. On reading the CT scan report with the assistance of google, I discovered that I actually had fluid around my heart. A possible explanation for breathlessness and pain in my throat, chest and shoulders on movement including breathing I would have thought. In defence of the doctor who discharged me without suggesting an explanation for my symptoms, he was very young and uncertain how much I knew about my condition. I presume he thought I knew. And I just wanted to get out of there.
The next day my condition hadn’t improved and I rang my palliative specialist and mentioned the fluid around my heart. The problem was fixable. She immediately phoned a cardiologist and within 2 hours I was back at the hospital having an ultrasound of my heart and an appointment with the cardiologist. As it turned out, the fluid wasn’t as significant as the CT suggested, and it was not safe for a procedure to drain it with a needle. I was sent home with a prescription for 4 different drugs.
By the time I left the appointment, I had constant significant pain and breathlessness. I had phoned my Chinese Medicine Doctor earlier and he had advised me to take some of the emergency capsules I had for any health crisis. I took two when I got home, and within 2 hours the pain had gone, the breathlessness had eased, and I felt relatively normal. I am improving each day.
During this whole experience, I felt very little stress. I believe that I will die at exactly the right time for me, so there was no fear of dying. I believed that what was happening was happening at exactly the right time, and was for my higher good, so there was so resistance, no asking “why is this happening?”. There was a mild curiosity as to how it was going to pan out, but I was open to all possibilities – an operation, dying, healing. It briefly crossed my mind that this may become my new state – breathless and unable to walk far, but there was no benefit in focusing on that, so I returned to believing that no matter what state my body is in, it can heal. It is designed to heal, and I can trust it to do that – until it can’t. It will unfold how it unfolds with or without my worrying. I choose not to worry.
At this point I am not taking the drugs that the cardiologist prescribed – the Chinese medicine seems to be working, and my body is so delicately balanced towards health that I would prefer not to introduce drugs that cause detrimental side effects, that I am then going to need another drug to combat, and another, and another. I am open to the possibility of having to take them if the Chinese Medicine no longer works. But they are a last resort for me not the first.
Because I remained open, the whole experience wasn’t negative. The hospital staff were lovely, I felt surrounded by love and support from my family, and I felt empowered and strengthened because I had faced something that ten years ago would have caused me enormous stress, but that wasn’t how I experienced it now.
The mind has great power.
The perceptions of our mind can either bring us fear or peace.
Be a rebel.
I heard the owl call my name is the title of an exquisite, very short book by Margaret Craven. It is the story of a young priest who doesn’t have long to live and is sent to minister in an Indian Village in British Columbia. One of the myths and legends that the Indian people believed was that when the time of your death approached, you would hear an owl call your name.
The events of the last few months have meant the reality of death has been forced onto our conscious awareness. This has caused a lot of anxiety and fear because many people no longer have myths and legends or beliefs that enable them to live comfortably with death. In fact, it appears to me that even the medical profession have fallen into the trap of believing that death should not occur unless you are very old and even then it is barely acceptable. It is as if death is regarded as a medical failure. While their effort to keep people alive deserves applause and gratitude, at the same time, it needs to be coupled with the understanding and acceptance that death is ultimately unavoidable and is no respecter of age or person.
Last weekend my partner and I were driving on gravel roads through the forest, and as we came out towards a main road, we saw a sign for a cemetery. I like cemeteries, I don’t find them depressing at all, so we stopped and I had a meander through it. There were graves dating back to 1902. What struck us though, was how many of the graves were for children. It was a tiny cemetery, but possibly a quarter of the graves were for children.
This could be very confronting
Because of my strong beliefs, it wasn’t. I did not feel sorrow for the children, for lives apparently un-lived, because I believe that their lives were exactly long enough, their soul incarnated into that human body with the intention of living that long and no more. This world was never meant to be our permanent home. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. I did feel empathy for the sorrow of the parents and others who loved them however: I remember the fear I used to feel, that one of my sons would die.
It is not what happens that causes suffering or peace – it is our perception of what happens that causes suffering or peace. Ultimately it is our choice which we experience, but it depends entirely on our beliefs.
To be honest, a part of me doesn’t understand why more people don’t realise this. Why isn’t this taught at school? Why isn’t this understanding common knowledge? It has the power to transform lives and reduce much of the emotional suffering experienced in the world. We have a choice – we always have a choice how we perceive life and the many experiences it brings our way. This is incredibly powerful to know and implement.
We all have beliefs. We all have a worldview. It is impossible not to. Most of these beliefs are established and carved into our sub-conscious mind when we are children. This is when we are most programmable. It is also when we are the most un-discerning. These beliefs and programs directly affect our perception because we then see what we unconsciously look for. We see what fits our beliefs and programs and live out our life reinforcing them because our perceptions are biased towards doing so. And because many of our programs are imprinted on our sub-conscious minds by the culture we are brought up in – everyone else around us has similar beliefs and so they appear to be real and valid and true.
This is very evident when we look at beliefs about death.
I am not an anthropologist, but I think it is fairly safe to say that every culture of mankind throughout the ages has operated on beliefs. Looking back over time, from our current understanding, we are confident in saying that many of the beliefs were erroneous and primitive, because they were based on the knowledge available at the time (the same will one day be said of us). Mankind has always attempted to attach meaning to life. It is the way our minds are created – and we need to or life doesn’t seem worth living. A meaningless existence is a horrible existence. I have experienced very brief periods – only an hour or so at a time fortunately, when I have suddenly felt that life is meaningless and it was awful. Unfortunately, much of our meaning-making is based in unconscious beliefs.
The internet has made easily available to mankind for the first time ever, an unimaginably huge amount of information. Within seconds, we have at our fingertips, information about almost anything: science, spirituality, language, cultures, music – anything we could think of…. with an open mind, we can take our pick of any beliefs, ideas or perceptions conceived of by man. And yet… most people continue on living from the often limiting and negative beliefs that they were programmed with as a child.
Even when they are patently not serving their best interests.
Why is this?
I imagine it must be (and this was true for me), because they simply don’t realise that the life they experience is actually completely dictated by their beliefs.
They don’t realise they have a choice.
And they don’t realise that love, joy and peace are always a possibility – in every situation.
Some religions have actively taught the belief that life is hard and difficult. A struggle. Life is to be endured in the hope of a glorious reward in the afterlife. Believing this sets you up to experience precisely that – you will suffer, because you will notice the suffering more than the good times, (the ego enjoys martyrdom) – the mind will always see/experience what it believes. After I woke up, I found this belief of struggle and suffering completely incongruent with the notion of a benevolent, loving God.
Since beginning to photograph bird-life, I have been astounded to discover how many varieties of birds there are in this area. I never noticed before. Because I wasn’t looking. The mind filters out what it isn’t interested in, it has to, otherwise we would be in a permanent head spin trying to assimilate too much information. I was driving along a main road a couple of days ago and out of the corner of my eye, glimpsed something on top of a large antenna on a house on the side of a hill ahead. I wasn’t even sure, when I directed attention to it whether it was birds or part of the antenna until I got much closer. It turned out to be two Ospreys. These birds fascinate me. I had been watching them circling lazily in the air currents high in the sky about 30 minutes earlier and had no idea where they had gone to, but because my mind is now alert for birds, it noticed them on the antenna, literally out the corner of my eye. This is a more physical example of how we see what we look for. I see birds everywhere now. It is the same for everything in our life including our emotions – if we believe in suffering and pain, people as betrayers and abusers, ignorant and annoying – that is what we will unconsciously look for and that is what we will see and experience. If we believe in love and joy and peace and the intrinsic goodness and kindness of humanity, that is what we will see. This is not to say we don’t see anything else, we do, but the underlying foundation of beliefs on which our experience of life is based on will permeate through.
It is a good exercise to sit and write down how you see people and the world in general. At the basis of your perceptions is a belief driving it. If your view of people and the world doesn’t make you constantly happy, work on changing your belief.
If we believe that death is only for the old, and young people shouldn’t die – we will suffer because reality shows us otherwise.
If we believe that death is the end of everything – we will suffer. (I believe personally, that reality shows us otherwise).
If we believe that death inevitably brings sorrow and grief -we will suffer, because we will experience sorrow and grief.
If we believe that we can’t be happy without some-one – we will suffer and live out that belief.
These are beliefs, and beliefs can be changed, and our experience will then change too.
How can we know if our beliefs serve us well?
By the life we live, and how much joy, love and peace we experience.
I used to be afraid of death. I used to believe it was a tragedy when a young person died. I used to fear sorrow and grief. I used to wish that no-one would die. I no longer believe any of this.
I am not interested in Doctors opinions of the cancer in my body. Talking to my palliative specialist yesterday, she mentioned again that statistically I should have died a long time ago. I asked her what that really meant, and she said untreated (as I have been), statistically, I should have died within 2-3 years. This cancer has been in my body now for 13 years and I still have an excellent quality of life. I have no pain, plenty of energy and am generally very well. Why? I can’t say for sure, but I think it has a lot to do with my beliefs. If you believe your beliefs don’t affect your body, you have been mis-informed. Research for yourself. (Begin with Mind Over Medicine by Melissa Rankin or Molecules Of Emotion by Candace Pert).
I believe that I will only die when my soul has finished what it came into this human body to experience. It will be the exact right time for me to die. What could I ever find wrong or bad about that?
I remember when I picked Ian’s ashes up from the crematorium, and on the label it had his name and age – 49 years old, and I felt a surge of sorrow – for the first time I had the thought – that is too young to die – my old conditioned belief arising, but it was almost immediately followed by the thought – it was the perfect time for HIM to die. And peace returned.
I do not believe that any death comes at the wrong time. I do not believe that any death is meaningless. I do not believe that death is random. Whether the death is from cancer or Covid-19 or a heart attack or murder or cot death, whether the body is 2 or 30 or 90 years old, I do not believe it happens at the wrong time. This belief enables me to create meaning and acceptance – and it brings peace. Whether this belief is right or wrong, I don’t know. In the scheme of life, I am not sure that it really matters except for its effect on my life. All I know, is at this moment, it is the highest truth that I personally know about death and the result of this belief is peace therefore I feel it serves me well. It allows me to accept. It takes out sorrow and suffering and fear and leaves a space for love and peace and joy to enter. That is good enough for me right now.
This is a benevolent universe we live in, and that is probably one of the most important beliefs to develop. It has the potential to change your life – it certainly changed mine.
When the owl calls my name, and yours, it will be with perfect timing.
We can live in peace.
“They only deserve freedom, who are prepared to fight for it”.
I read these words over 25 years ago on a war memorial, and had forgotten them until today. This blog began as a platform for me to share my experience with cancer, morphed into a place for me to share my experience of life, and now with this post, I am moving into (for me) uncharted territory… politics and war.
If you have read my previous posts, it will hopefully be clear that I am not a fan of war. I have objected to the terminology of warfare being applied to cancer. The terminology of war is fear inducing and I do not believe it is appropriate or helpful in relation to cancer or anything else really. I do not believe that fear or violence or force is the answer to any of the problems facing humanity. I have believed for the last 13 years that my purpose and passion has been in slowly and steadily releasing myself from fear in its many forms. Fear of death, fear of cancer, fear of life. Fear of speaking my truth when someone may not like what I say, Fear of not being good enough, fear of looking like an idiot. I believed that the challenges and experiences Life has subjected me to were for the purpose of preparing me to help re-frame cancer so others could also use it as a tool for personal transformation and personal liberation instead of it being a harbinger of fear.
The last two months has brought a dawning realisation that my work has actually all been about freedom.
Releasing myself from fear was the path I took – cancer was the vehicle I used, freedom was the destination. I see that now.
It is a valid path to freedom. Fear is a prison. I spent many years trapped in the prison of a mind that was run by fear. Run by beliefs that were not serving me, that weren’t true. Beliefs that kept me small. Beliefs that bound me in bonds as effective as a physical prison.
Freedom is important to me.
My freedom has been hard won. I have achieved it through struggle and pain and tears and despair and a resolute refusal to give up. The price I have paid for my freedom is great. It cost me my marriage, my house, my business, my social network, my religion. It cost me my worldview, I have had to question every belief about the world, God, life, death and myself, that I have held. I have been pushed to the limits of my endurance – beyond what I believed I could bear. I have sat with the death of my soul mate, I have sat with the inevitability of my own death. I have sat with my fear of men, in a prison, in a room full of male prisoners and shared with them my vulnerability, my deepest wounds. I have have sat with my fear of responsibility, my fear of being alone, my fear of not being enough, my fear of not having enough, my fear of not being lovable….. I have sat with my fear, my fear, my fear……
And every time I sat with my fear and refused to surrender to it – I got stronger and my fear got weaker.
This path has not just been pain. The depth of my pain and struggle has been matched by the height of my peace and joy. I have learned to live. I have learned to love life. I have even learned to love myself – and that was possibly the hardest part. I have learned to love creation and Creator. I have learned to open to and trust a Divine Presence that I can barely describe, or imagine or quantify. I have learned to listen to the voice within me. The quiet voice that keeps drawing me back to freedom, love and peace. Every step of my journey, I was supported. As long as I showed up, willing to learn and grow, Life supported me. The right people, the right books, the right experiences, all showed up – exactly when I needed them.
Freedom is our birthright.
Fear takes away freedom. Abuse of power takes away freedom. Restrictive and separative ideologies take away freedom. Selfishness and apathy create an environment where freedom can be taken away.
And this is why I have chosen to stand up.
To do what I can.
My freedom, and yours, is under threat.
I have always stayed away from politics -I am a bit cynical – intelligence and ambition without deep personal insight is dangerous. Power corrupts. It takes a person with very strong and conscious values to keep pure intentions. We are good at fooling ourselves and justifying our actions. I have questioned unfairly at times, the intentions of those who enter politics.
I have barely read the papers or watched the news over the last decade because I object to the propensity of the press to report negativity and conduct fear-mongering. Little is unbiased, you never hear the full story. And I believed that the world was going to continue on its path whether I was aware of what was happening or not. I felt there was little I could do to combat the negativity and fear. So I turned my back on it.
But the world has changed.
I have changed.
There are two quotes that I want to share:
“”There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right” – Martin Luther King
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
What I say in following is from the point of view of a person who lives in Australia, however it also applies to any other democratic country.
Our freedom is under threat from the ideologies of the China Communist Party. It is with great reluctance that I say this on a public platform. I may be wrong. I hope so. I may also be the last person in Australia to see this – after all I have made no attempt in the past to follow the news, but it seems very clear to me that the Chinese Communist Party has one agenda, and one alone: world power and world domination. For anyone who values their freedom, the time is now past to stay quiet. I don’t know a lot about living under communist rule – but the little I do know – doesn’t shout out FREEDOM.
Freedom is important to me.
How important is it to you?
Important enough to fight for?
I am not talking about fight in terms of guns and physical force. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that. I am talking about the people of this country being very aware of the threat, clear about what we want, united in our stance.
Do we, as a people, want to keep our freedom? I think we do.
So what can we, the people without any power but personal power, do?
Smarter brains than mine will come up with better solutions than me, but there are several things that occur to me:
It is naive to believe that the iron ore which has lined the pockets of the Australian economy and which the Chinese Communist Party has no doubt used to build aircrafts, aircraft carriers and battle ships, won’t one day be used against us. There is a point, and Covid-19 is demonstrating that very clearly – where a choice must be made between what is good for humanity and what is good for economies. Have we been blinded by greed? How much do we need before we are satisfied? These are questions that must be asked individually and collectively. I am as culpable as anyone in contributing to the current state of the world.
This is a call to arms. It is not a call to violence, blame or hatred. It is a call for us all individually, to collectively protect our freedom, It is a call to self-responsibility. It is a call to awareness of our own, individual part in contributing to a future of freedom. Or not.
We must arm ourselves with knowledge, clarity, rationality, morals and values. We must arm ourselves with self-awareness. With willingness to support each other and the greater good of democracy and freedom. We must all step up – or be stepped on.
Ultimately, it is a call to peace.
But it is not a call to peace at all costs by bowing to manipulation and threats.
We are stronger than that.
I have been spending a lot of time out on my bike, photographing nature while the Covid-19 drama plays out on the global stage, and in a moment of clarity this week, I understood the value of the Little Things in living a happy life.
Like many people, I have spent a fair bit of my life waiting for the big things to happen. The exciting news, the next new thing, the anticipation of a great event, the social outing. Something to look forward to… and then it is over…it never seems to last long before it is simply another memory – it no longer exists except in my mind. And then… back to everyday life.
Now I’m not by nature, great at attention to detail. I think I’m probably too impatient. It was a family joke when I was a teenager. I was competent at sewing, in fact I made many of my own clothes for a while, but I wasn’t fond of hand-sewing – too slow for me, so if a hem came down, I was inclined to simply apply sellotape to hold it up. It worked ok until I washed the clothing and then ironed it. Let’s just say sellotape and a hot iron aren’t a great mix. I wanted the quick fix. The instant result.
Looking back, I can see that for a period of years, I also craved drama. Social drama. I felt alive and energised when something was going down. Something to focus on, to distract me. I married into an Italian family – plenty of drama there. I lived in my head a lot. Lots of anxiety, fear of not being perfect: I didn’t truly inhabit my body. I was very disconnected.
I saw beauty everywhere, but often it was a fleeting recognition – an acknowledgement and appreciation that lasted for an instant before I moved on. Going somewhere else. Lost in my mind. Distracted.
Years of meditation and deep spiritual work have taught me to slow down. To be more present. To be immersed in the moment. About ten years ago, I was working with clients with Autism, and I read a book called “Autism and Sensing – The Unlost Instinct” by Donna Williams. It is a stunning and eloquent account of her personal experience of living with autism. This is an excerpt from the book where she describes a chandelier:
“A chandelier would become a collective of interacting, seemingly playful sparks of colour, the image of which would trigger the associated sense of the chink-chink sound that would be made if the smooth hard (glass) pieces from which the colours emanated were touched together”.
“Recently, having moved out of this sensory I looked up at a huge over-head chandelier and remembered the drug-like addictive effect such an experience once had on me. When asked about it, I recalled experiences like it as ‘merging with God’ because I would resonate with the sensory nature of the object with such an absolute purity and loss of self that it was like an overwhelming passion into which you merge and become part of the beauty itself. It was the ultimate in belonging and ‘company’. The feeling was completely compelling and addictive and by comparison, the call of the world of interpretation seemed pale, weak, insignificant, foreign and of little reward”.
This particular post isn’t the time to comment on the neuro-typical persons perception of people with autism, and our attempts to make them “normal”. My immediate reaction to reading Donna’s description of her experience was a longing to know that experience for myself. It speaks to me of One-ness – the experience longed for by spiritual seekers the world over. Complete immersion in the moment. Total one-pointedness. Total attention. Timelessness. Aliveness.
Our senses are constantly assaulted with noise and visuals – more so than ever before in the history of mankind. Fortunately, our brain is very clever; to cope with the constant barrage, it creates filters and interpretations and labels to avoid over-whelm. On a normal day, we see the big picture and little of the detail until we direct our attention specifically and intentionally on one thing – this is when we experience the detail, and often a sense of timelessness. This attention and intention is where the power of creation lies. It is a portal to Now. It is a transcendence of self.
Watching and photographing birds, and taking macro shots of plant and insects has brought home to me an ancient truth – that it is the little things that make up the majority of the life we live, and if we can find pleasure in them, our capacity to live a joyful and happy life increases.
Photographing birds requires stillness and patience. I love the zoom on my camera, and how, when seen up close, even the seemingly ordinary and boring Pacific Black Duck, is breath-takingly beautiful. To zoom in on a flower and see its exquisite detail burst into life on the screen of my camera fills me with awe. I see colours and contrasts and perfection and beauty I have not ever noticed before. A single bush can give me an hour of wonder and delight as I photograph; the juxtaposition of light and dark, the fresh bud emerging, the flower in full bloom and an old flower dying. Moss on the branch, a new shoot, bees gathering nectar from the flowers, a wax-eye paying a fleeting visit, ants on the trunk. The warm sun on my skin, the happy hum of bees, the chatter of the birds, a gentle breeze teasing the leaves, the smell of damp earth.
I am beginning to take a baby step into Donna’s world. To immerse myself fully into the joy and wonder of the moment. To be fully embodied in sensory delight. A part of my surroundings, not just passing through with headphones on, oblivious. Life is a journey. Life is awe-inspiring, Life is full of incredible detail and beauty. Life is to be enjoyed; life is to be sensed, and lived and felt and smelt and tasted. We inhabit a body on purpose – to experience physical life in all its diversity. This is A path to joy and ultimately to God. There are many paths. This is just one.
We have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to hold and touch – lets not waste these gifts on things that don’t inspire or uplift us.
I know I often bang on about western culture, but I think it is indisputable that somewhere, we have taken a step in the wrong direction. Instead of happiness, love and peace being what we are all striving for, (even though this is what we all long for), we’ve been brainwashed into jumping on the money, work and “accumulate more things” train which is hurtling full pelt towards destruction of the earth and our mental and physical health. The signs are evident – depression, suicide, mental illness, chronic diseases, anxiety and stress affecting more and more people.
The only way we can turn things around, is for more people to wake up. More people to wipe the sleep from their eyes and realise that underneath the hustle and bustle of frantic fast-paced driven living – we all just want to feel loved, happy and connected. And the way to that isn’t through money and possessions. (Athough there is nothing wrong with these as secondary pursuits). Clearly, the direction our culture is taking as a whole isn’t achieving that for us. Find your own way to connect with the joy, peace and love that lies behind and within the physical world – and within each of us. Its there… we have just drowned it out with noise, and covered it with busy-ness. (Busi-ness?) Each person who wakes up and makes changes with peace and joy as the objective, contributes to the overall uplifting of world-consciousness. There is no greater service to the world that is available to every person to give – be happy, know peace.
Live, love, enjoy now.
I have been spending a lot of time recently in contemplation of Life.
My life in particular.
Viktor Frankl wrote a book called “Mans Search for Meaning”. Viktor was a prominent Viennese psychiatrist before WW2 who spent time in Aushchwitz where he was able to observe the way that he and others coped (or not) with the experience. He saw that the sort of person the concentration camp prisoner became was the result of inner decision and not of camp influences alone. He noticed that it was the men who comforted others and gave away their last piece of bread – who lasted the longest, and he came to believe that mans deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose.
Meaning and Purpose.
Nietzsche said “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how”.
Last week you could say I had an existential crisis. Very unpleasant. I felt disconnected, agitated, felt I had no purpose and wondered if perhaps I had been mistaken and life was meaningless and random after all. Fortunately it didn’t last more than 24 hours: my heartfelt compassion to those who experience depression if that is what it feels like.
As often happens, it was a prelude to breaking lifelong habits of thinking that have constrained me and kept me stuck. The process is not always comfortable.
Feeling despair galvanised me into deeper meditation with the intent of obtaining clarity. Everything is useful in a universe designed to support our spiritual growth.
It had been bothering me a little for a while that I am writing a blog ostensibly about cancer however I often don’t mention cancer. I have realised very clearly that I am not, and never have been interested in cancer per se except as a vehicle for growth. For me, that is the sum of it. Cancer itself, in my mind is neither good nor bad – it is merely an opportunity for self discovery and ultimately freedom, and I believe that once it has outlived this purpose for me, either it, or I will go.
Who knows which.
I don’t want to write about various treatment options, there are many, many sites out there who do that well. Physical healing has always been of secondary importance to me. Healing emotionally, mentally and spiritually through cancer has always been my focus. Interestingly, I am still alive and very well long after statistics suggest I should have died. Perhaps I am not so foolish after all.
The connection and impact of mind and spirit on the body interests me greatly.
Freedom interests me even more.
This was another realisation I had in the last week. That for the last thirteen years I have been focused on becoming fear free – working to release myself from beliefs that prevent me from living in total peace no matter what, and I thought my purpose was about fear. Perhaps working with people who have cancer and are fearful, or people who are dying and are fearful, but lately this hasn’t felt quite right which probably initiated the collapse into meaninglessness. If this wasn’t my purpose after so many years thinking it was, then what was?
I realised that behind the desire to be fear free was a driving force to be free.
I am not talking about physical freedom although that is an aspect of it. I am talking about being free from the past. Being free from programmed sub conscious beliefs that don’t serve me. Being free to choose, consciously, how I AM in any given moment without being triggered into reactions. Being free to make decisions and choices based on what I feel is right for me, not because it is the “right thing”, or I “should” do it. To not be controlled by emotion.
Being present; not lost in thoughts of the future or cling-ons of the past. In the present is where life is. Everyday I go out in nature and photograph birds, and I see them serenely living their lives in each moment. It seems to me that the little Honey-eater doesn’t sit on the branch brooding and resenting the magpie that chased it, planning revenge. Or the Great Egret I saw yesterday standing in the estuary suddenly dive-bombed by bullying seagulls didn’t appear to dwell on it. They moved on. It moved on. Serenely.
It appears to be only humanity that is both blessed and cursed with a mind that thinks beyond survival instinct. This mind is not harmless or powerless. Not at all. This mind makes our life enjoyable or not. This mind creates the experience of how we live our life. This mind affects our relationships. This mind creates our perceptions then directs us to see only what we believe. We see nothing as it really is because we see it all through the biased filters of our mind.
Our mind has the most powerful affect on our life. Above anything else by far.
We think other people upset us, but it is our mind that upsets us. We think our environment affects us, but it is our mind that creates the perception of our environment that affects us.
I believe we have a choice.
We are being lived regardless, either way. Life will unfold as it unfolds. We actually have precious little control over much outside of ourselves as you may have noticed. This Covid-19 scenario is helping us to understand that a little better – our illusion of control, the illusion of stability of economies, the illusion that death shouldn’t happen – even among the elderly.
We have a choice. We can continue to believe we are predominantly a body and a mind, and leave the mind in control – the unruly, undisciplined mind in control – that way lies suffering.
We can choose to go a little deeper, open our minds to being more than that. Align ourselves with our spirit. Seek meaning, clarity, peace and purpose above money, assets and materialism and discover the joy that lies beneath. And begin to rein in the un-managed mind.
In his book, Viktor Frankl says “everything can be taken away from a man, but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances (concentration camp), decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually”.
Times are changing. We can’t afford to keep sleeping. We need to become more conscious of the choices we make. Conscious of our attitude. Consciously choose our attitude.
First we need to believe that a consistently peaceful, happy mind is possible… Then seek to have it for ourselves.
Learn to immerse ourselves fully in each moment. Really truly experience life. Get out of our head.