Living and loving with awareness implies caring deeply about other people in our lives, whilst at the same time remaining detached and releasing any sense of ownership; speaking out when there’s injustice, but doing so with non-judgement. It requires us to use our skills and knowledge honestly to interact to the best of our ability, fully aware of the energetic and practical consequences of our thoughts, emotions, actions and words, and with personal responsibility for the choices we make.
Even when we feel mistreated and undervalued, rather than contracting or retaliating, the goal is to respond by remaining open and giving. When in the throes of personal or inter-personal conflict, if we manage to continue living and loving with an open-hearted awareness we will both demonstrate the degree of our integrity and ensure that energy continues to flow through our subtle body as well as through our life circumstances, instead of the energy becoming stagnant.
Free-flowing energy is essential if we are to remain healthy during stressful times and if we are to facilitate the best possible energetic conditions capable of ushering in change and improved life circumstances. Moreover, living and loving others and ourselves with conscious awareness can bring us a greater sense of peace and empowerment.
Modified extract from my book “She Who Is Unto Herself”
A friend of mine once commented to me: “Most of our lives are lived purely in our heads.” This was a sobering reminder of the importance of distinguishing between our prevailing reality and the memories and/or fantasies we play out in our minds, which can often be physically and mentally exhausting. As far as memories are concerned, it’s helpful to acknowledge that there’s nothing we can do to change, or bring back, the past. In terms of fantasies, whether of outcomes we wish for or fear, although it may be OK to indulge for a while, I feel it’s important to be able to do so in moderation since oftentimes those hopes/fears never come to pass in the end, so a lot of time and energy can be spent on something that ultimately has no purpose. As such, don’t mind the gap i.e. the gap between where you are and where you wish to be; or who you are and who you want to become. The gap is part of the game of physical-plane life. It will always be there; so, there’s no point in stressing over it. Once you cross the gap, a new gap will surely materialise (unless you reach enlightenment first) and the whole process starts over. I feel we’d do well to teach our children from an early age this aspect of living an empowered life as it would spare them much personal suffering and assist them in living a more joyful existence.
Can you smile even when you’re hurting inside? If you can smile in the midst of your own personal storms then that’s a huge victory in your day; something immeasurably worthwhile.
Let’s consider what we give value to. If we want to live an inspired and empowered life, we need to give value to our inner work and its application in outer circumstances. If we continue to give priority value to outer aspects like job, possessions, physical beauty, then of course the small inner victories – like a beaming smile or empathic hug – will ring hollow. Instead, these small gestures have the potential to be indicators of true authenticity and spiritual success.
We all take on differing roles according to which area of our lives is in question. For example, in the work place, we act and speak using language and mannerisms that are in line with our job and the position we hold in the organisational hierarchy; at home, we act and speak differently (e.g. our tone of voice changes) depending on if we’re in the role of parent or husband/wife/lover; in our social circles, we adopt yet another way of interacting with people, dependent on whether they are acquaintances or closer friends. Our apparent success in playing these various roles is measured according to socially constructed rules of good/appropriate conduct. However, whilst holding in mind the way we “should” act, we can also decide to play with those socially imposed expectations and make a conscious choice to act differently i.e. we can enjoy the power we have in any given moment to choose our attitude and actions. Naturally, playing doesn’t imply being dishonest or cunning; quite the opposite, in fact. Any play goes hand-in-hand with respect and love for others, careful not to hurt anybody’s feelings, although we might surprise them with what we say and do. Playing can release you from the shackles and weight of unwritten social rules and mind-made morality. It can be very empowering to intermittently step beyond life’s routines and invent a new you – even if you decide to play the new role just once, in one particular situation.
Hand-in-hand with “playfulness” comes laughter i.e. being able to see the funny side in a situation or, at least, having the necessary level of non-attachment to finda way to laugh notwithstanding the challenges of our circumstances. For this reason, I like the love-laugh-learn combination: love implies always being open and receptive; laugh is synonymous with non-attachment and playfulness, and; learn connotes the recognition that in every life experience there’s an opportunity to grow spiritually, which is an empowering insight.
On the topic of laughter, it’s clear that the aim is never to hurt a person, never to laugh at him/her. Laughing at is only possible when we’re in the illusion of separateness; as soon as we resonate with the tantric concept that we’re all energetically one being, we can only ever laugh with another person.
“Tantra asks us to go beyond the traditional stance of the cool, utterly detached observer of all our experiences. It recommends the more refined position of witnessing while at the same time understanding that observer and observed are not ultimately distinct. The Tantric approach is to see all life experiences as the play of the same One.”
Sam Red, 1 August 2015
 Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, p.60.
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.