When a friend of mine asked me some time ago if I loved myself, I couldn’t reply that I did; I just remained silent. He correctly reminded me that if I don’t love myself, how do I expect to love others? Some of my hesitancy came perhaps from my social conditioning i.e. the requirement in Western societies that we remain modest or risk being seen in a bad light; however, my hesitancy was also instigated by what I must confess was my lack of appreciation and awe for my physical body or my achievements in life. Since then, I’ve made it a regular practice to be kind to myself, to be my own best friend.
The voice in our head that tells us that we aren’t good enough, aren’t successful enough, aren’t young enough, aren’t beautiful enough, etc. is only one part of our self. It’s wise to start listening to other parts of our being (like our intuition), and to keep the voice in our head on mute as much as possible. Only by loving ourselves and accepting ourselves – warts, faults and all – can we brim over with love for others.
Have faith in yourself and your unique abilities. Know yourself to be powerful. Each one of us is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. We’re each essential because if even just one piece of the otherwise finished jigsaw is missing the picture is incomplete and the jigsaw doesn’t fulfil its potential. On the other hand, the single jigsaw piece on its own is totally meaningless and incomprehensible; its value and significance is seen when it fits into the puzzle as a whole. Therefore, each one of us is unique. We can bring our own quality and gift to life. It’s the feeling/being that’s important, not so much the doing. Some of us will have what look like better life opportunities than others, but we all have the same chance to bring joy and love into our interactions with those around us. No matter if we hold a supposedly important social or professional position, or we’re just a mother, husband, son, etc. any playing ground is a perfect place for us to shine our own particular light. I believe the gift I can bring to each day I’m alive is heartfelt warmth and care, radiated through a smile, which creates an easy connection with people. What’s your unique gift?
Reiki seemed to offer an accelerated route to the inner self. This route to the Self is by nature full of challenges; yet now, Joy could equate crises in her personal life with opportunities for spiritual growth. She believed that when higher vibrations entered the subtle energy bodies – as happened through regular Reiki, meditation and other spiritual practices – some lower frequencies that were present were likely to be dislodged and the subtle bodies pressured to resonate at a higher level. She knew by direct experience that this could be painful and cause emotional, physical or mental suffering; at least until the process was understood and resistance had given way to surrender. Joy was discovering that surrender was not an act of weakness. In contrast, it was a source of extreme power and creativity. It was a process of stilling and focusing the mind – keeping it away from any thoughts of the past or the future, from judgements or self-flagellation. She was convinced that surrender was a form of empowerment derived from the creativity that is inherent in the moment – a power which is our divine right and duty to develop.
I guess I’m not the only spiritual aspirant to have spent years trying to negate my physical body. I think my Catholic upbringing was the first instigator of this self-denial. It was followed, in later years, by my assuming an almost ascetic-like belief in the need to cut myself off from all my bodily instincts, feelings, etc. if I wished to progress in any substantial way along the spiritual path. The result was that for many years I suffered an eroding sense of detachment, which bordered on alienation, from my physical form.
“Most of the world’s religious and mystical traditions separate heaven and earth into two irreconcilable realms, thereby forcing humans to choose one and forfeit the other. The hedonist who cleaves to the sensory gratifications of earth is condemned as a sinner and denied a berth in heaven, while the ascetic who aspires to heaven is revered as a saint but deprived of the sensual pleasures on earth.”
What I’ve come to realise is that detachment is different from non-attachment. The latter is an important tantric practice. Continue reading →
Boundaries come in many forms. Some can prevent us from connecting with people – like barriers. Others can help us to keep our balance. When I leave the office, I try to cross a boundary, by telling myself that now is my time. I attempt to mindfully leave my work behind me until the next day. This is more easily accomplished when you come to recognise that the inner is the primary goal; outer circumstances are only means and have secondary priority in any spiritual approach to life on Earth. That recognition came to me through over 40 years of life experience. I’ve seen how events come and go, people come and go; the only constant is me, myself and I. What brings happiness one minute very often brings pain the next. Continue reading →
In the context of health and self-empowerment, it’s important to emphasise that we should feel neither ashamed nor disappointed for being sick. There can be all sorts of reasons for illness – some might have been triggered by physically or emotionally challenging life conditions, others might be spiritual or karmic in nature. Illness brings us squarely back to ourselves. Subsequently, many of the other components of life, which until then may have seemed so critically pressing and important, quickly fall away as priority is given to returning the body back to health. This means that the path from sickness to wellbeing can be a fertile ground for personal transformation and self-empowerment.
In my own experience, illness has been a catalyst that has torpedoed me straight into the present moment, where I’ve immediately been much more mindful and aware of my body sensations, perhaps in the hope that the very next second would show me a physical sign that I was regaining in health. Continue reading →
Choosing our company well is as important to our physical, emotional and mental health as having a balanced/nutritious diet and living/working in a healthy environment. If we regularly eat food with poor nutritional value, it’s likely that we’ll soon find ourselves in a bad state of health. The same is true of the spiritual food that we choose to ingest: the music we listen to, the books we read, the TV programmes we watch, etc. – all are susceptible to impacting our emotional and mental state in a positive or negative way, with a probable knock-on effect on our physical wellbeing. If we choose to surround ourselves with pessimistic persons, equally, the glass will very quickly look half empty and will make our creative potential much more difficult to tap into. Furthermore, we’ll often feel a sense of being drained as the pessimist saps our vibrant energy to fill the empty hole caused by his/her own doom and gloom. This brings to mind the responsibility each one of us has to be aware of our moods and the effect our state of mind/emotions can have on others.
Interestingly, when we feel optimistic and have positive thoughts, it’s reflected in our physical body – we naturally assume a more upright posture with our heads held high. When we’re depressed, our bodies quickly sag into a droopy stance and our eyes will tend to look downwards towards the ground. Could it be that the reverse is also true, namely that by adjusting our physical posture we can affect a change in our mood and outlook? Try it! See if it works for you.