For young people, it’s easy to project hopes into the future because time is on youth’s side. However, as we get older, the future has less appeal, perhaps, because it also means aging with the health concerns and psychological challenges that might entail. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to find a way of feeling hope in the present, even if we have a need that’s unmet, maybe one that’s been unmet for a long time already. So how can we feel hope and fulfilment in such circumstances?
One technique – from what I label the way of the warrior because it requires copious amounts of courage – is to walk on the fire of the emptiness of your unmet need i.e. to look your need square in the face. A pitfall to be aware of is the unconscious act of projecting your needs onto a person or thing as a way of finding relief when a need is being unmet. Projection oftentimes sooner or later brings suffering, when/if the person or thing identified as filling the need does not in fact do so, and this truth eventually becomes undeniable and has to be acknowledged. Continue reading →
Joy felt as if she were living in No (Wo)Man’s Land – between the temporal and the universal. It was an unenviable place between two worlds. Tired of her lower state of consciousness, she was learning in her meditation practice to focus her awareness at a level beyond everyday emotions and thinking. When she managed it, she immediately felt very peaceful. She was determined to make peace her habitual state of mind – not just during those minutes of meditation but throughout the entire day. Somehow she had to achieve this. She couldn’t keep living as if part of her self were dead; as if she couldn’t wait to get through life – to get to the end. There had to be more meaning, more significance to this experience of living life as a human.
Joy was aware that her physical body was never fully relaxed. Whenever she stopped to take notice, she realised that she was frowning, clenching her fists or holding her breath. She found it required all her efforts to achieve relaxation. As soon as she took her mind off the task, she discovered her muscles had tensed up again. She remembered the times her father, Dino, had taken her on a short holiday somewhere. Those were the rare occasions when she felt relaxed for slightly longer periods – hours, maybe even days. She would allow herself to be like a child again. Continue reading →
As human beings, we have biological needs for nutrition (food, water), elimination (faeces/urination/perspiration) and to express our sexuality. Meeting our nutritional needs is totally acceptable in a social context, which means we can eat and drink in public, either alone or with others. In fact, eating and drinking socially has become something that gives many people a huge amount of pleasure and fulfilment. With regards elimination (going to the toilet or perspiring), although not a taboo in Western societies, we’re certainly expected to do it discreetly and almost apologetically. And as far as fulfilling our sexual needs is concerned, this is only socially acceptable if it’s done in private and, on the whole, within the frame of the social construct of marriage. Furthermore, sex is bound up in a whole array of moral judgements and expectations.
Why this distinction between what are, in the end, equally important and necessary biological needs? I guess this question might shock some readers. I realise that if we don’t eat, drink or defecate, we’ll die, which isn’t the case if we don’t have sex. And I’m not proposing we all start to have sex in public. Nevertheless, I feel we’ve created a tremendous social block towards an in-built mechanism that’s an inherently beautiful and necessary part of our human constitution. Continue reading →
In Western societies dominated by the illusion that each person should be busy every second of the day, continually striving to get more – money, status, possessions – or to get sufficient – enough money to pay the bills – it can be easy to forget to enjoy the moment and give thanks for what’s going well in our lives. Modern day technology has the potential to free up human time; however, technological advances might well have made us busier, instead. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have experienced a sinking feeling in my stomach when, on returning to my office after a short holiday, I’ve found my in-box brimming over and, at the same rate at which I’ve replied to a pile of emails, new ones were already coming in. It can be difficult to step outside this busy way of life, not least because of the expectations and requirements that we might be under to perform in a certain way and at a particular rhythm. All the same, even short pauses of some minutes throughout the day to step outside the treadmillof life in order to breathe and focus inwardly is very empowering and can restore a sense of positivity even in the midst of chaos and deadlines.
“How’s it possible that humans always have money for killing and for exploitation, but struggle to find resources for good causes?” Joy asked.
It seemed illogical and unjust. The human value system was upside down. Caring professions that in the past were deemed valuable – like nursing and teaching – were now taken for granted and were superseded by high-paying but near socially irrelevant career activities like playing football, singing pop songs and selling derivatives on the stock markets.
This degraded value system was being held in place by two major illusions: that the more money a person has, the more esteemed they are – no matter how they acquire their fortune; and that people who work for good causes should earn only a basic salary – hence the term not-for-profit. Joy felt the urge to shatter these myths that were keeping the masses imprisoned by materialism, the power-hungry in positions of control and those motivated by the will to do good financially disempowered. 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 →
Life is like being in an airplane. When turbulence hits, no matter how bad it gets you have no choice but to stay on board and fly through the storm. There’s no chance to stop the plane and get off, which is why – personally – I prefer train travel!
If life isn’t currently providing us with the opportunities we wish for, and believe we deserve, it’s not that we’ve done something wrong or that we’re not good enough. We shouldn’t give ourselves, or others, a hard time when our lives don’t match our hopes or expectations. In fact, we should be very proud of ourselves if we can engage fully in our lives, with a positive disposition towards the people around us, even if we’re facing challenging circumstances personally. We can all love others when we feel loved ourselves. But can we feel love and bring joy into other people’s lives when we feel hurt, disappointed, betrayed?Continue reading →