Moving through limiting life circumstances

GirlJoy’s physical support system had crumbled again, and the way ahead in her life remained blocked. Gino, who shared Joy’s need for a subtle balance between movement and stability, recognised her struggle. “Remember that you can find strength from spiritual sources,” he said to her compassionately in one of her moments of deep disorientation. “You yourself have told me that the physical is transitory. When your exoteric support structures have disappeared, you can access your power from the esoteric.”

Although Gino’s words revealed no new perspective to Joy, they greatly aided her to find a point of balance. Gino was aware of the subtle dimensions of life. His support was crucial to her because he was able to advise and encourage her without dragging her back under the veil of illusion.

Joy found her breakdown hard to accept because she had believed that she’d learned to hold the high ground over her emotions in any situation. Instead, she discovered that the vicissitudes of life were still able to provoke bitterness and depression in her. Maybe breakdowns are always a part of life? Perhaps what’s important is how we respond to them? Joy was aware that even in the depths of this current crisis a feeling of purpose lay just below the surface of her gloom. She recognised that her faith was growing stronger, enabling her to reorient herself more quickly after a breakdown than in her younger years. Continue reading

Some thoughts on suffering (part 3 of 3)

In the realms of spiritual authenticity, our worth is not calculated by our monetary Balancefortune, but rather by our actions and the quality of our emotional mind space at any given moment. We are responsible for our perceptions and attitudes i.e. our thoughts and feelings and, therefore, how we experience outer events. We are only partially in control of how those outer events play out. Life on the physical plane is impermanent and relatively random. To resist or deny that reality is madness. The sanest recourse is to accept life as an ever-changing playing field, to find the point of permanence in the inner self and then to live life with a sense of curiosity and playfulness. “A disciplined mind regards all changes as causal and temporary. The balanced does not fluctuate, and does not suffer.”[1] This tantric attitude takes courage and persistent effort, which is why I refer to it as the way of the warrior. Continue reading

The spiritual practice of forgiveness

The people who hurt or disappoint us are our greatest teachers. They enable us to grow at a spiritual level more deeply, or more rapidly. In this sense, although it might be a tall order, it could be said that we should be grateful for their presence and impact in our lives. Consequently, it’s important that we can forgive and love all who pass into our world, and also that we’re able to pardon ourselves – if not least, to ensure that toxic energetic residues resulting from unprocessed emotions are eliminated from our subtle and physical bodies. In my experience, this is oftentimes easier said than done. Sometimes it happens that I think I’ve done the forgiving and it’s finally done and dusted and I can move on with positivity, when suddenly my “emotional pain body” is awakened and I find myself face-to-face with old memories and feelings of regret, remorse, anger or disappointment – all eager to envelope me. What is there to do in such circumstances? Continue reading

Body consciousness

Tantrists and Taoists believe that our physical bodies are intelligent and conscious right down to the cellular level. Consequently, the body is seen to be much more than a set of mechanistic organs and interconnecting physiological systems, which is the standard attitude adopted by Western allopathic medicine. The tantric viewpoint is that: “…the human body is, in the final analysis, not merely unconscious matter but a stepped-down version of superconscious Energy. […] if the body is not merely the sarcophagus of an immaterial soul but a vibrant, living reality suffused with the same Consciousness that also animates the mind, then we must cease to regard the body as an external object radically distinct from our conscious selves.[1] Continue reading

Becoming proficient in the art of acceptance

Joy was learning that being fully in the moment was like listening very intently. The ideas that arose in that way were altruistic and full of meaning. They were ideas that it was worth acting on; indeed, that it was important to act on.

She felt the urge to become proficient in the art of acceptance, to learn to live life from the inside out. She could change her attitude to life by changing her mind and her feelings. Engaging with calmness and steadfastness notwithstanding the outer circumstances could become her creed. This she could do simply by focusing her consciousness beyond her emotions and mental chatter, knowing that the outer was secondary and that only the inner held any authentic meaning.

Mental chit-chat served no purpose aside from keeping her – and the rest of the human race – in a constant state of tension and malaise. She was tired of being ruled by her rational mind; being bombarded by its thoughts and having her mental space invaded by whatever memories, judgements or self-defeating patterns it decided to put there. Continue reading

Crisis – a spiritual exercise

As the weeks and months of no-employment passed, Joy viewed the crisis she was facing as a spiritual exercise – the opportunity to put her existential theories into practice. It wasn’t easy to remain focused and positive. She woke up some days feeling as if she had been forgotten by Life. Oftentimes, she didn’t know what to keep her mind concentrated on. If this day has meaning, what is it? If each second is precious then its value must come from something more than a career outcome. How should I approach these moments of no definite direction and solitude? How can I turn what feels like a waiting game into something more dynamic and rewarding?

Joy took the time to contemplate these questions deeply. She found an answer in the art of divine indifference, or as the Buddhists referred to it, abiding in the moment. This meant accepting her life circumstances without struggle or resistance: acknowledging the desire to see the situation change, knowing it would change when the process had run its course and, thereby, practising detached, positive expectancy.

Joy increased her meditation practice and included some breathing exercises. She knew that her respiration was affected by the stress she was feeling, depriving her body of essential oxygen. Continue reading

Surrendering to Life

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