Opening to the new

On my morning heart-to-heart with my daughter today we got onto the topic of making new friendships. Perhaps, its a topic on a lot of people’s mind’s right now as things open up after such prolongued confinement, even for those of us who are introverts (which both she and I are), making it less straightforward than for some. For us, its always about quality over quantity as we don’t reenergise by being around other people as extroverts do, yet we recognise all the benefits to health and wellbeing of having good friends in our lives. The inevitable overhaul that comes with this gradual shift back to “normal” life, along with other lifestyle transitions happening for us both right now, has brought the question into focus.

We both seem to have hit upon the same, eternal, dilemma of craving intimate same-sex friendship (we both, already, have a wonderful supportive partner) where its not about competition or comparison, including bonding over woes, which is neither of our styles. Women are often expected to trade in the currency of sharing their most intimate shortfalls, including those to do with their significant relationship (dishing the dirt on their partners as an exercise in bonding with same-sex friends) and we have both hit upon this one, many times, but won’t play along. This kind of behaviour all stems, of course, from jealousy and insecurity; if your life is going “too well” according to some-sort of barrometer, others will want to hear that its not all roses around the door to make themselves feel better. Women are also (I’m ashamed to say) sometimes prone to feigning loving support when really they are axe grinding behind your back or even spreading adverse gossip, trading information with others. This all feels like an extremely antiquated way of behaving and neither of us are prepared to play ball which, in my case, has resulted in pulling back for a lot of years while she has tended to befriend males as “less complicated or political” so its newer territory for us both as we re-enter it.

Then, she brought this one up, with friends that are equally mindful there is almost nothing left to say…she has a friend who is so conscious and upbeat, who agrees with so much of her perspective on life, that they quickly run out of conversation and drop into silence. Yet, somehow, though I also have a long-standing friend like that in the sense we both share a positive and mindful spin on life, we manage to keep things interesting and never run out of things to enthuse about or discuss together, including how we face some of the external challenges and continue to milk positives from them. I really hope my daughter finds that with the new like-minded friend she has just made!

Ideally, you find someone who approximately shares your core values and angle on life (as in, for me, that’s a universal and optimistic, expansionist, approach) and then you mindfully chat about whatever comes up, alonside having fun and positively visualising the future, not to mention supporting each other when either of you lose traction.

Its also important to know when a friendship has run its course. I made many friendships, decades ago, that I outgrew with time but where the other party felt it could or should continue ad infinitum. In different ways, it ended messily because, when expectations diverge, feelings get hurt. When a relationship has run its course but one or both parties are in denial, fate has a way of throwing something up that one or other will react to “unexpectedly”, perhaps to the detriment of the relationship.

Suddenly, it all feels over and, on the surface, everyone is bewildered and hurt but its usually a sign that the friendship has run its course, at least in the format it once took. Typically, the superconsciousness of one of the parties knew this and acted on it, throwing the rogue granade that does the deed, making a severance of some kind inevitable…because, sometimes, hurts can’t be unsaid or you just know if you patch it up, the same thing will just keep on recurring.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t go your seperate ways gracefully, with kind words and apologies for “the method” that some fatal damage to the status quo came about, nor does it negate “the good times” you have had together. Hopefully, you can shake hands, when the dust has settled, and walk away with less fluster or sting in the tail. In other words, hopefully (though not always the case, inevitably…) you can both be mature enough to take the overview that “its nobody’s fault” per se, no one person “did this”, it just had to happen, was perhaps overdue. Its a natural process, the same as we see happen in nature when a season moves on (friendships also occur in seasons). So then, you can both step back from all the chafing and simply witness the shifting of phases, mindfully and respectfully, with no one having to play the fall guy and no hard feelings.

In short, it can sometimes “just be” time to let go, to give each other space, the same way any good parent knows when its time to give their child more of a free rein and not expect to be so joined at the elbow. That said, some parents and their offspring (and I seem to be one of them) do seem to find their way to remaining intimate without cramping each other’s style and that goes for some long-running friendships too. The key to this is absolute non-judgement and allowing the other party infinite space to grow and express full and uncompromised alignment with their own expansion, wherever that may take them or however it looks, fully accepting that no one ever stays the same as nothing and no one is ever fixed in stone. The universe isn’t stagnant; no one is meant to stay anchored to a particular time-era nor contracted to be and behave the way they did years ago, their interests and angles just the same. The best friendships will weather that..remaining in contact with each other, unconditionally, at the very core of each being (you could say, at the heart and soul). When we see and accept each other via this core-space, longevity becomes very-much a posibiity, even beyond the physical form, as I know very well from personal experience with two of my key relationships so far, and then we are in the territory of the eternal. Here, we somehow know that if we were to meet again in a different lifetime and skin, we would still recognise each other!

Therefore, friendships that build such infinite space into their shared areas tend to last the distance (with no judgment intended for those that don’t…those just happen to serve another purpose). Looking up into the clear sky just now, to enjoy the sight of a pair of kites loop-the-looping way up high in the expansive blue, side-by-side enjoying the thermals together until one of them decides to shoot off at a tangent for a while only to come back together again when it feels right, I realised that this is somewhat how I see such friendships in my mind’s eye. Others, by design, are more like ships that pass in the night, each party taking something they happened to need in that phase from the enounter with the other, and that’s aright. The sooner we accept that, the less we stir drama around so many friendship “issues” and start to grow up, spiritually.

Some of those friendships flower and fruit and then, quite naturally, drop from the bough to the ground, content in the knowledge they seeded something at the time they were most fruitful…with no pathos or regret that the time has now passed. In different seasons of our lives, we need different things and we sometimes have to own that, allowing for change in order to make space for the new to bud and then flower on the bough once again. As it is with all things.

Once we allow the cycle to just be as it is, we cease hindering the rebirth process that arises as we mature, set new intentions and welcome fresh beginnings. Things, then, start to materialise just as our highest intentions have been setting them, such as those kinds of friendships we most crave to support us in our next phase of life’s journey (and only when we open that space will the opportunities start to appear so its important to cease feeling guilty and wounded, even fatally flawed, by what came before). People and circumstances change, its inevitable (nothing is more so) and there is no failing in outgrowing anything or anyone; only, it serves us best to handle it all with far less drama, more love, if we can.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Life choices, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How social media messes with the very point of art

I’ve let my art profile on social media (such as it was…) truly stagnate lately while I’ve been focusing on the priorities of my health and wellbeing these last few months. My new online shop, which I worked so hard to put together all of last summer during lockdown, has done absolutely nothing and languishes out there unnoticed…largely because Ive done absolutely nothing with it to change that situation. My desire to engage with Facebook and Instagram has been at an all-time low and, when I do, I often really notice, thus regret, the vibe-lowering effect it has on my otherwise rallying mood. When I do think about Instagram and my shop (if I do that at all…) I more-often-than-not think about deleting them than rather than working at them. They feel like a millstone around my neck. The sheer amount of effort it would take to brush up my profile and do what it takes to engage with the largely fickle and despondent audience that might otherwise see my output is gigantic and I simply don’t want to spend my life doing that…chasing after that…at all.

I also don’t like is that there is no half-way measure (like being “a little bit drunk”), you are either “of” that social media mentality or you’re not and, if you are, it seeps into your very motivation for doing art at all, colouring the “whys and wherefores” of everything you do, from “why this subject and style?” to how you present it, or, pimp it to its audience. I hate it all, and the very behaviour traits it demands of my persona, with such a vengeance, and hate isn’t a word I use often…but the feeling is really that strong. And I loathe that you have to commit to a daily practice of it to get anywhere, which smacks of slavery, a word I don’t take kindly to (if I could just use social media from time to time to make important announcements I would, but all the algorithms for being seen and responded to work against such intermittency, like a slow suicide through inactivity). The whole platform seems designed to force engagement and to cultivate a sort of neurosis to do with obsessively gauging your feedback (topic of my last post), whether you like it or not!

I don’t even enjoy looking at other artists on social media all that much because these platforms seem to bring out the worst in them, missing the whole point, the very feeling, of their art. I dislike how every single post contributes towards generating a cloud of informational clues as to those who are “clearly making it” (gathering vast audiences and tons of engagement) and “those who clearly aren’t”; a cloud of data for some of the less noticed (which is far from the same as less talented…) artists to choke upon, as though it were dust kicked up in the stampede for attention. Its the equivalent of going to a “quiet” art gallery only to find there is some sort of gizmo fixed to the wall above the art piece, noisily grinding away, keeping score of the exact footfall and length of time that other people have stood in the same spot and playing back their opinions, fatally detracting from all the intimacy and immediacy of your own response; as though you are now stood there in a jostling and opinionated crowd. Art is meant to be personal, real, visceral, three (and above) dimensional, not innert on a pixelated screen nor a crowd-puller or team sport (as an intensely pleasurable visit to an art exhibition in a rambling summer garden reminded me last weekend).

So, can you even get anywhere as an artist without social media (and little to no stamina for the exhibition circuits with their commissions and competitiveness anymore, either)? Is there a point? A happy place? What was that thing I used to say back in the day…I have to paint, its like breathing to me? Is this where I get to prove that very point to myself, as I would still prove the desire to breathe if I was the very last person on earth?

Another reason I recoil from social media as an art-outlet is that I have dived so deeply into the topics of obsession and dopamine addiction this year that I can clearly see the relationship. Yes, those are certainly traits that weave through my ADD personality type and there is no point denying anymore that I sometimes lean into getting the “wrong kind of kicks”. However, getting my kicks out of the transitory thrill of “likes” from people I will never meet and who will have forgotten all about me a moment later is hardly worth depleting my already thin-on-the ground stamina for and I know it, but I do get so easily hooked into the, highly artificial, sense that to be “liked” or responded to, even for just a moment on social media by strangers, is akin to having all the warmth of family and friends gathered around me, giving me some of the attention my inner child still craves to plug in the gaps of her insecurities.

In that sense, I am still that little girl, holding up a picture for daddy when he gets home from work…and that five minutes of grace can carry me through until, well, the next time I need that stop-gap in my emotional splutter…living from one fix to the next. This it not a state of affairs I am at all happy to condone, now that I see it all too clearly as the track-record of my life, as in, living from one moment of vague external approval to another like my life depends on it. That fragmented Approval Seeker persona of mine has been seen now (thank you Gupta Program), and is being asked to give way to the far more authentic version of me that lies deep inside the layer of fake confidence that barely covers the Rejection Sensitive Dysphoric adult that Life has turned me into (yes its a recognised trait involving extreme sensitivity to criticism and perceived rejection and I’ve had it in spade loads for most of my life) and, by the way in case you hadn’t noticed, social media is perilous for the more sensitive personality types. I long to rewind to the essence of the contented and self-contained little girl that I was before Life Happened and that little girl loves to draw and paint, oh how she loves it, but for no other reason than that it brings her JOY! Nothing else, no attachment to outcome to muddy her enjoyment or put her off her next stroke.

It turns out I am far from the only artist who is considering turning their back on platforms like Instagram once and for all. It seems there is quite the trend of it and some of those who aren’t brave enough seem to qualify their decision with “but I daydream about deleting my app every single day” (here’s an article on the very subject). From that article, this quote jumps out being as right on the topic of what I have already said about the dopamine rewards of being a visual artist on instagram and similar platforms. In it, artist Andrea Crespo describes how “Reward systems in social media were influencing my decisions while art making. I would think about what people would think based off of likes and comments.” The article continues: “Because its reception came so fast, and came loaded with so many social and biochemical cues, Crespo began to consider social media activity as an evaluating metric “really bad for art.” You begin making art not for yourself, but for the dopamine rush that comes as each double-tap lights up your phone” to the point it “was negatively affecting his spirituality and mental health”.

I can concur and I guess that is the place I have landed in with a lot of things this year. No longer able to compartmentalise that I am, on the one hand, evolving a-pace and yet on the other I “must” remain a slave to certain behaviours to survive and thrive commercially in the world, I have reached a point where if the one negates the other then something has to give and, obviously, my spiritual wellbeing and health take first priority, always. As-ever the contrarian, the more I feel the growing peer-group pressure suggesting I “have” to master the craft of social media engagement in order to survive, as an artist or anything else for that matter, the more I resist! For now, it all remains in the balance (my public engagements on art-related media, effectively, put on pause) but, the longer that lack of engagement continues, the more it feels as though I have lost all momentum on social media platforms, which only fuels my desire to say “oh well, never mind” and move on.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Culture, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Social media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feedback

As an artist, it can feel like hard work not to get at least some feedback about your art (after all, it is a visual form of communication). Sometimes, you really value that other person’s objective pair of eyes, or validation that you’ve managed to convey what you were aiming for. I was pretty-much guaranteed this when my equally artistic daughter still lived at home; even before her schoolbag had hit the floor, I often knew what she thought of my day’s output, if not always what I wanted to hear… Now, with my husband as my only living companion (apart from the dog!) I’m used to the standard comment, when I’ve finshed for the day, “More green!” (its an old joke and barely raises a grimace from me now). I know he can’t help it, being self-confesedly art-blind!

So, akin to most folk these days, its easy to fall into the trap of leaning more than you’d like to on social media for your feedback; a habit I’ve been breaking out of lately. We all know the perils of social media but, as an artist, it can be the kiss of death or a fool’s game to rely too heavily on the kind of feedback where, for no rhyme or reason, you can be flavour of the moment one day and completely bypassed or derided the next. The internet has become the commedy metaphor for the universal truth that when everyone’s input is invited to the party, you can find every single colour and shade of information, opinion and reaction to the point that you can use it to justify almost any point of view if you try hard enough or, really, they all cancel each other out. Most of the feedback you can gather there is thus rendered fairly meaningless in the end.

This kind of sticking point could be a really problematic one for a highly introverted artist such as I if such feedback was all I “did it for” but, really, I don’t crave feedback as much as I used to when it comes to my art (more on that below). Really, this isn’t the core of my topic…merely an example of one of the roles feedback can play, leading into what I’m about to say.

Because (its true) receiving feedback is part of who we are as sensory, highly interconnected beings in an interactive world. If we truly were a one-person island, it would be OK to say it doesnt matter, but we aren’t.

This requirement can feed straight back into being a Highly Sensitive Person, if you happen to be one, which is a recognised genetic trait (one I was born with but which circumstance has hoaned into a very fine “tip”). As the youngest child of four and the least similar in age to the rest of them, I really craved positive feedback when I was growing up (at times, it felt like a matter of survival!), so it became a currency I learned to work extremely hard for, at school, in my family and from my parents in particular, during my formative years. I collected such feedback and used it, more and more, to evaluate my own self-worth at the expense of other factors that should have been allowed to count.

Another reason it felt like a matter of survival was because I felt “different’ in just so many neurodiverse ways which, not understanding what this meant at the time but strongly sensing it wasn’t going to make things easy for me, made me work extra hard at evaluating other people’s feedback (you could say, prioritising it at the expense of all else) so I could become as adept as possible at adapting, blending in, meeting people’s demands and not disappointing them, in order to survive. This became the ingrained trend of many decades!

That HSP trait itself, especially when taken to the extent of being an empath (another recognised trait which mostly corresponds with people who have a partcularly high HSP score) can also be a sign of being more aware of feedback than the average person. When your entire system is geared at feeding back excessive amounts of data gathered from other people and the environment, it becomes a daily deluge of information, often far more than your nervous system can handle, leading to severe overstimulation, overwhelm, exhaustion and other health issues. On top of being an HSP, any other extra circumstantial demands or pressures such as those I’ve described above can greatly exacerbate the fact that a person already picks up on more sensory feedback than some people, due to how they happen to be wired, because they likely already experience sensory processing challenges (too much feedback!) even before adding social hypervigilance to their list!

Amazing to consider that a person can get in such a tangle and all from the simple, life-affirming, desire for positive feedback, prioritising a search for it over everything else. If you happen to have ADD of ADHD traits on top of any of this (I do!) then there is part of you that actively craves the stimulation of feedback with as much potency as any addiction to narcotics, sometimes without showing any discernment for what format that particular feedback happens to take (as in, not always the positive kind). There are known links between these traits with either genetically lower dopamine levels or malfunctioning dopamine receptors (dopamine being the “reward” neurotransmitter), meaning dopamine itself is craved due to a shortfall and people often default to those methods of “stimming” themselves that worked for them as a child or some other, earlier, phase in their life, even if that just keeps throwing them back in the path of high drama and abuse. When over-stimulation, even from too much or the wrong kind of feedback, becomes its own reward, problems inevitably ensue and, with repeated practice, we can become hardwired for pursuing the wrong kind of feedback all our lives, unless we break the trend. In my case, I can now look back with such a wry smile, given how clearly I see how I used to be such a glutten for punishment!

This is where, as ever, consciousness comes in. As per my last post, when consciousness crosses over with awareness, we start to see wood for trees. We notice trends that had us leaning too far, and too hard, into seeking (not necessarily positive) feedback in the form of the approval of others. My inbuilt Approval Seeker is a fragmented part of me that has been around for a lot of years and that I have been getting to know far better via the Gupta Program. Its a part or personality subtrait that can take many forms but many of us have such a part, calling the tune on our days, busily diverting us away from far more self-supportive and healthy behaviours and choices. Once we become more familiar with this part, we can start to see where we have been giving our energy away, hand over fist, if this part has been dictating to us for years!

As I already said, we live in an integrative, interrelated universe where everything is, indeed, connected; none of us is a separate unit. However we also live in a culture where that interrelatedness has been made “all about” the social; the largely unspoken mandate of having to fit in and conform to survive, which is quite different to knowing we are all related and should be able to lean on one another in a crisis, be respectful and kind. There’s an implicit threat to such an angle (deviate at your peril!) and we are ingrained with it from the moment we are born. Is it any wonder we become so hypervigilant when it comes to gathering feedback from other people, missing the point that this is not even the primary source of feedback we should be “listening out” for.

For starters, we receive a constant information stream of feedback from our bodies but how many of us pay attention to this, most of the time? When we don’t listen, those signals get stronger, pain and problems ensue and so we then want to pay even less attention to our bodies than ever before, distracting and detaching from them. “I already feel too much, I’m in constant pain or discomfort…why would I want to feel any more than I already do” people cry out (subsconsciously) and so they work mostly at anesthetising the pain with drugs and distraction, the modern way of life.

When we truly listen to the body’s feedback, when we give it that airtime, things start to shift. We start to notice what is most consistent about the symptoms we get; and we start to intuit what this is trying to tell us. This is how, bit by bit, we can start to get our health and priorities straight, putting ourselves (quite rightfully) back at the centre of the experience of life. Then, and only then, can we start to do the real work regarding feedback.

Once we can see wood for trees, we might start to appreciate how our body talks to us every minute of every day…and, the more we listen to its intuition, the more comfortable our body, and our lives, get to be. We cease pressing the override button because its “too inconvenient” to register our body’s needs, and so hear that it needs to slow down or even stop today, that we need to work in a different way or consider a change of job, a break from work altogether, a different kind of life..but at least we hear these things before its too late. In a world where our own feedback comes first, these are no longer inconvenient messages but, rather, helpful signposts assisting us in living our best life.

We can cease thinking we need to prioritise outside feedback…as a matter of security, in case something should happen that threatens us…and start to trust that when we are in sync with our own needs, those things tend to take care of themselves, or we are far better equiped to handle them.

Like having any kind of a clearout, sorting through what kind of feedback you are getting (and listening to…), throwing out or ceasing to subscribe to some of those sources and reprioritising what is most close to home can start to make your life a whole lot simpler and more habitable. The feedback that comes back at you starts to be far simpler, less hair-raising. For instance, the way I have noticed this week that I am chronically dehdyrated (you wouldn’t believe how many symptoms, some of them severe, this can cause…) which is very simple to remedy, now I’ve taken the time to notice it. Another one is noticing that you are tryng to do too much, spreading yourself too thinly so, of course, paying attention to this means you remember to pace yourself, slow down, bite off only what you can chew and this can make a massive difference, when its a consistent habit.

Such feedback can require you to make some lifestyle tweaks, for sure, and this can be daunting at first. For instance, it might meaning having to say “no” to a few more people, which can generate its own kind of feedback… but, hopefully by now, we are getting more resilient and even a little bit immune to the kind that doesn’t have our wellbeing in mind.

Then, of course, we are profoundly interconnected with nature, mother earth and the environment…all of this magnificient universe, in fact…and yet some of us only seem to notice their relationship with other human beings or, at most, their pets (it astonishes me) as though nothing else is of consequence to them. When we dial this broader awareness up, we can really start to draw comfort and strength from the kind of feedback we get from this interelatedness we have with all kinds of species and the very ecosystem we are part of. Including, but not limited to, all the positive feedback we can gain from the differences we can make by living a certain way that supports the natural world (like a garden full of bees, butterflies and birds because you went organic, rewilded a few areas and planted certain species of flowers known to support them; that’s wonderful, life-affirming feedback). We can gather a bottomless pit of positive feedback from our interactions with woodlands, mountains and flowing water, from birds, animals, flowers and all the magical synchronicities that start to occur when we pay attention to nature’s signs, cues and abundant inspiration…a whole other langauge of feedback we can tune into.

Once we really start to support these precious moments, the kind where (as I talked about last time) consciousness and awareness cross over, we start to crave spending more time in the kind of state where this is most likely to happen…times and activities when we are no longer bombarded but start to receive the kind of feedback that comes straight from the source, whether you prefer to call that “the universe”, “higher self”, “divine spirit”, or whatever works for you (really, it needs no name).

This ultimate feedback source requires no words to communicate, makes no demands and is entirely unconditional. It “tells us” all we ever need to know in terms we can’t fail to understand and make use of. Certain activities where we are fully surrendered into awareness can support us in getting there: meditation (of course), walking in nature, gardening and so on. For me its (back to the topic of) art, which I gave myself over to yesterday after a prolongued period of artist’s block…yet, just as soon as I picked up those brushes I found myself back in that place of no overwhelm, no more deep and brain-fogging fatigue, not even noticing my pain; just, simply, back in what is, for me, the rarified territory where I tend to receive a constant stream of the kind of positive feedback that readily tops up my soul. Really, that’s the only feedback I ever need as my incentive to continue doing it!

Posted in Art, Art transformation tool, Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cosmic romance

At the moment, I’m hooked on a very gentle TV series, watched purely as my evening wind-down (its harmless entertainment, why do I feel the need to justify myself…?), yet I’ve also been dashing through epsiodes, longing for a particular outcome in the plot. As I cheated by glancing ahead at the episode synopses last night, frustrated and eager to reach the point where the two main characters “get it together”, only to find that there are another 2 series to go before they iron out all their problems and do that, I reminded myself to unhook a little, slow down and just enjoy the viewing of it without so much attachment. I also smiled to recognise in myself the very same addiction and longing that all-consumed me as a girl ploughing through doorstop-thick romance novels. Am I really such a dyed-in-the-cloth romantic, even now?

So I ask myself, what is this compunction in me…in a lot of other people…to see a man and a woman come together at last (I know, there are other gender formats of that very-same dynamic these days but I’m not going to trip myself up with a ham-fisted attempt at political correctness since that isn’t what I’m writing about here). I’ve spoken a great deal, over the years, about the universal masculine and feminine aspects; so, is this just more of the same? An inbuilt universal driver? An outcome we are all magnetically drawn to?

Listening to Jeddah Mali talk about overcoming limitations this morning, I allow for myself that it may not be as trvial as it seems, this romantic longing; rather, much more fundamental to the fabric of reality, of which I am but a morsel yet a prime representation nontheless.

If our consciousness and our awareness are like a couple who only ever really “get married” when we are fully present, meaning that they are both focused together upon whatever intention we are holding in that very moment…And if, “like all newly-weds, they are reluctant to part” once they (finally) reach that moment of togetherness (though the challenge is in getting there!)… then the out-of-harmony-ness of a perfectly-matched young couple dallying around the edges with each other but never quite crossing over to consummate their love is a mirror of the deep inner frustration we (or, certainly, I…) notice within ourselves every day. Perhaps this is why it gets to us so much, reeling-us in as the most over-used plotline of them all.

In the familiar plotline, they nearly get there…dancing around the edges, almost touching, almost landing on the same page…but then something happens to rebuff one of them, or they lose confidence, or someone or something “gets in their way”, a spanner thrown in the works. These are circumstancial obstacles they apparently can’t avoid but, as the viewer, we are on the edge of our seat, tense with frustration because we can clearly see the bigger picture…so we want so desperately to push them a long a little, to get them to see through or get over the so-called obstacles. We already know its all worth it, and that they are nearly there. Why can’t they just get on with the business of loving each other?!

That same frustration (and also the irony of having a far better overview of my own behaviours than I once I had…yet still noticing myself get stuck!) play out in me ever day. Why do I find it just so hard to keep my consciousness and awareness together on the same focus? Why does one always see fit to wander off? Why can’t I give then one task, in fact the only task that matters (which is how it is with every intention that we have in the here-and-now-moment because yesterday’s and tomorrow’s are irrelevant in that place) and just get them to focus on it together, laser-precise? Sounds so easy and yet so impossibly hard, apparently.

Check in with yourself…how long can you stay in the moment without your mind ambling off to ruminate on something that already happened or that you are anticipating happening? How often do thoughts come in from the side of your mind and knock you off the pedestal of your higher intentions, bringing you down (or so it seems) with doubts, worries and niggles. In the next moment, you are so contracted with fear and doubt and distraction that the moment feels lost.

And as soon as we think those other thoughts, even if they are subsconscious, we have lost that laser-like beam made up of consciousness and awareness combined in perfect partnership. Our consciousness, having now gone off on its ramble, brings back into focus the kind of negative thoughts and doubts which, then, our awareness (being the instrument of whatever version of reality we choose to dwell upon; since they all exist “out there” in the sea of awareness…so all she ever does is our bidding, fetching whatever we happen to order from the menu), diligently delivers more of what we expected to go wrong, now registered in our sensations as “reality”. In other words, the perfect marriage that is conscious~awareness is both right there under our noses thus fully accessible to everyone, every single day of the week…and oh so very ellusive!

You could equally say, the very thing we long for, the happy moment of consummation, a veritable super-power just waiting to transform our lives, is right there, hidden in plain sight!

Focussing intently on the present moment can’t fail to bring us into the present moment…and the more we focus on it, the more laser-like the combination of consciousness and awareness become. On top of that, the more we focus there, the more effectively it excludes interfering thoughts of the kind me and half the rest of the world feel are the bain of their life. We can trust that we are busily creating through setting our intentions there (just as we are creating all the rest of the time; even when our intentions are unconsciously led by fearful or negative thoughts, manifesting what we didn’t want) but as long as we are in the present moment, we can let go of that fear since it is impossible to fear at the same time as being fully present (fear relates to thoughts of what has been / what might be) and then trust in the process.

How does the power of this union come about? Well, our awareness is always focused on our existence, as in our experience, so as soon as our consciousness, which can only focus on one thing at a time, is persuaded to drop all its other ruminations and focus there too, it can no longer lose itself in those other thoughts such as fears, niggles, doubts, grudges, strategies, worst case scenarios and the rest. If we really have to get firm with our consciousness, all it takes is to learn this rule of thumb by heart: contracted feelings always come from “untruth”; after all, the universe is inherently expansive, so we can just let those feelings go, without the big analysis as to where they came from. “Stuff happens” and we pick up such faulty beliefs along the way but we can let go and move on now.

In my own case, I’ve come to realise that my so-called “stuck” health doesn’t even exist in the now, just so long as my focus is on the state of profound wellbeing that I choose to have coursing through my body, and its only when I allow my mind to wander off into ruminations, anticipations, fears and the track-record of past symptoms that may repeat or get worse, all regarded as “a problem to be solved”, that I am back there in the land of chronic. I genuinely intend to get well and yet, oh-so easily, find myself back in more of the other. The good news is that, whenever this happens, its the unpleasant sensations themselves, as my body starts to register them, that tell me I have gone off-track. They alert me to the benefit of stopping whatever I am doing…and getting back to the present moment, to reset my intentions; as many times as it takes, until I start to feel much better.

In my daily activities, this kind of miss-match or miscommunication between consciousness and awareness happens all the time, if I let it. Take yesterday, when I set the clear intention for a creative day, nothing else was going to interfere with that priority and yet it somehow took until after 4 o’ clock before I came to the surface from a long series of largely meaningless distractions that had gobbled-up my day; so how did I let that happen, how do I let it happen so many days of the week, especially when it comes to blocking my own creativity (you could call it a prolongued phase of “artist’s block”)? I now find I have to actively police various distractions out of my path, keeping myself away from social media and other exposures, from constantly checking and responding to emails or being too readily available when other people call on me, to minimise the risks, such is my propensity to be taken off track by the merest interuption to my flow (the downside of an ADD mind), thus its getting better, slowly and surely.

The good news is that even partially understanding all this is the beginning of noticing how it plays out in our daily lives. Only this morning, I brought my mind up short from one of its rambles and I was suddenly there, fully in the moment of the early morning walk I might otherwise have done on autopilot…and two young deer were standing there, barely hidden in the long grass where, I suspect, they had (not for the first time) made their bed last night. As we all locked eyes and they so-gracefully jumped the fence and made into the woods, it was one of those pure-magical moments that become so much more plentiful when you spend increasing time in “the now”.

In those rare moments that I am fully here and clear in my intention to bring my being into a state of, say, deep love and profound wellbeing, its as though the very fabric of that moment conspires to fulfil my request, shape-shifting every sensation, all the feedback of my environment, to reflect and deliver that very intention. (This is a visual I get) its somewhat like becoming aware of yourself as the very centre of a flower, like a giant peony bloom, at its very moment of opening, petals unfurling around your own pivot-point. As the experience gathers all around you as its centre, and yet the primary sensation is of expansiveness and liberation, you briefly glipse something of your own power to manifest whatever you decide to make the point of your focus…and your cells start to remember the feeling you generate so that they now remain poised and eager to replicate it. Fear and doubt disolve and you remember who you truly are, way beyond all of life’s baggage.

No more than any other perfect partnership in its happiest moment, you can’t freeze this moment either, as in to choose to stay here forever, as though the story has concluded (that’s not how life works)…however, such moments start to add up, to gardner trust from your ever-doubting mind and body, to become more real than “all the other stuff”. And we can be sure of one thing, that awareness is always here at our disposal…all we have to do is get it together with consciousness and away we go, the happy union we waited for!

I know that, if I could only get into these experiences more often, make time for them, build them into the priorities of my days, even set alarms for mindfulness moments (as I now do…), I could enjoy such moments, say of perfect health, of balance, of love radiating through and beaming out of me, of profound calm, of knowing everything is perfect just as it is, whenever I wanted to…in fact, I could make them so commonplace that they all join up to become the new-normal of my days. We all could. Because all those other “realities” dont have a reality beyond our fearful thoughts; its just that we seem to have become accustomed to dwelling there, en masse, with our thoughts and fixations. Tackling such fear, resistance and negativity with mental analysis won’t work, either; we can’t beat it out of ourselves (believing it is a problem to be solved only puts more focus on it), we just have to let go…

In other words, we can use the process of intensely focusing on the present moment, which inevitably combines both consciousness and awareness, to lose any state that is not beneficial. By focussing on the more expansive thought, we allow the sea of awareness to carry this instruction out for us by conducting the very marriage process that the task requires (sea of awareness is a term used by Jeddah Mali, whose Seeds of Enlightenment and other related tools I have been drawing on, most gratefully, for about a decade now). Once fully invested in the same outcome, they become that laser-like effect, capable of doing our bidding. Using somewhat different terminolgy but its all the same things, its a process I’ve been working at pretty diligently since the start of this year (far longer, really) using the Gupta Program to soften and flow my reactions to whatever arises…and I’m starting to get somewhere, to witness the old trend playing out in myself, and to reclaim more and more moments of conscious awareness back the mire of frustration, fears, set-backs, hopelessness, pointlessness, dispair, resignation and all those other stories we tend to drown ourselves in.

The difficulty, for most of us, is that we like the story too much, we enjoy they yarn of it, the near-misses, the long spun-out quest for fulfilment. Its what keeps us hooked, addicted, turning the pages of life, gossiping with others, dwelling on the what ifs and maybes, raking over the past and speculating over the future. It gives us that feeling of momentum, of travelling from A to B and, even with all its setbacks, it beguiles us into wanting more of it.

The power of now is that none of that really matters; now is all there is. In the now, we can “be there” in an instant. We can come together, into the ultmate sum of parts, the highest completion, which is the consummation we truly long for, whenever we want to and with no requirement to fear that getting to that point means the end of us…because it could only ever mean the beginning of something new waiting to birth from the union. You could say, the manifestation of a new story, the tale of whatever it is we are most focussing all our conscious attention on in those moments of present moment awareness, be it more health, happiness, love, harmony, balance…as soon as we put behind us all those old-addictive stories we got so hooked into and just cut to the clinch. Then, we can start to lose those old plotlines of frustration from our daily lives…and perhaps save them for our evening’s lighthearted entertainment!

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Divine feminine, divine masculine, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop using the path and you will surely lose it

Recent months have been a fascinating reminder that the world we live in is no more than a reflection of what goes on inside of us; as above so below, as without so within.

The longer lockdown went on, the more new paths appeared in our little woods; paths cutting through undergrowth that was once so thick it was all-but impenetrable to anyone except the deer and the most determined (signs of kids making dens, with swing ropes hung from branches, would occasionally appear off to the sides, but they all ended in cul-de-sac).

Amazing how, in very quick time, these new routes became distinct winding paths through the woods, from A to B, as though they had always been there, their surfaces brown and hard with footfall as distinct from the rickety woodland floor or boggy and boot-marked when it had rained. Over winter, we enjoyed a rambling network of these new routes, their edges moss-carpeted and magical and, in early spring, by bluebells so that, by the end of that era, which by now felt like it had been “forever”, we would have felt it boring to go back to our old-straight routes. It was one of the pluses of lockdown, just so long as I got to walk there at a time of day when there were far less people around!

Now, most of those people have gone back to their “normal” lives and their busyness; I have to navigate past them queuing for buses, dashing to shops, on the main road to get to the start-proper of my walk, where the old track past Oak Cottage begins, but very few venture off route into the woods any more. For many, through choice or necessity, those new pathways were only a temporary venture.

So now, well, I’m noticing how some of these new paths are beginning to disappear, as though they were never there in the first place; returned to “the mystery”, to the birds and woodland creatures that had them before. One of my newer routes into the woods, attempted in reverse the other day, was so hard to find, its entrance having grown over with thick grasses and nettles, that I almost walked on past and had to push my way through to reach the clearing on the other side. I hadn’t been there since the bluebells were still thickly in bloom in that spot, a few weeks ago yes…but really not that long. It takes Nature no more than the blink of an eye to take away what she giveth; unless we indicate, quite clearly, just how much we are really interested in keeping it, how much we appreciate what we have “in care” from her bounty…only then does she relent. Oh how we need to be reminded of this, before its too late.

This morning’s elusive honeysuckle filling the air with summer’s perfume

And yes, I want to keep these new routes with all of my heart, having harvested the benefit of them for months, appreciating a whole other depth to what these commonplace woods of twenty year’s history have to offer. I don’t want to swop the quiet places, my winding honeysuckle-scented way led between pools of waters and moss covered tree-fall, its edges threaded with dog roses, serenaded by the thrush, squirrels playing chase round-and-around up above, perhaps the blue-edged dart of a jay high in the branches, to places where the ever elusive wren is encouraged to linger close by and the glimpse of a deer just a few feet away, watching me back, is a bonus. I don’t want to return to the long-straight paths strewn with litter, where people shout-talk into phones and the wildlife keeps away. So I walk those paths, daily, as a gratitude practice that makes my mornings, sets the tone, reminds me what’s most important…to me.

The same goes with our own neurology; that wildly branching forest of synapses that spark us into action, into thoughts and behaviours. So, if we want to keep the trait or ability, the positive line of thought, we have to use it, regularly…don’t leave it to accident or forget all about it. No point at all lamenting that thing you once used to be able to do; if you want it back again, use the skill, practice it, build it into your routines, make the time. The same with something you’ve never tried before; just do it, and do it, and do it again and, with time, however out of reach it may feel to begin with, you will find it comes naturally so that, after a surprisingly short time, you will suddenly find yourself doing it with ease and without even having to think about it, having chosen its path and kept it wide open with the footfall of your habits.

By the same token (you can use this to advantage) if there’s a habit or thought pattern you don’t want, that always trips you up, makes you feel unwell, sticks you in loop-mode, then cease the habit, stop walking its path, stop putting your attention there, just don’t go there at all anymore. Notice when and how it happens, what impulse makes you start walking that way… and break that trend, interrupt it with what you do want, choose a different route, one that feels much better, for you. It really is as simple as that.

Before you know it, nature will have filled-in that old pathway, growing over its entrance, covering its well-trodden earth with overgrowth and moss, as though it was never even there in the first place. Its a truth I demonstrate daily on my limbic retraining course and which is, slowly but surely, resculpting the landscape of my life to look more how I want it to be, spent in places full of mystery and magic, quietude and calm, a lesser-trodden path, a honeyed path, my kind of a path yet a valid and traversable path nontheless…and, in choosing it, repeatedly, I make it so.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, metaphor, Nature, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living in the everywhere

To me, there is no coincidence a compass face directs the eye to a great big “N”. You could supplant its assumed meaning with “Now”; where all moments are trying to lead us back to…our own personal “true North”.

When our compass needle is spinning about…or stuck somewhere off to the side…we know (deep down) there’s something wrong with our equipment. And all life is ever trying to do is nudge us back to that true marker, the now moment, where it all really “happens” and yet, really, nothing “happens” at all (the quantum paradox, is it a particle or a wave? It all depends how we look at it).

Almost like Now is a land beyond the changeable winds, beyond gravity, even beyond linearity; get to know it well and you will start to glean cracks of realisation that this is no ordinary place. You have landed in some fabled place, your own personal Hyperborea, where “normal” rules of physics cease to apply and where manifestation is an alchemical process conducted out of a great big crucible pot fllled with both past and present experiences, somehow mingled to become “same” (though they may seem “never the twain shall meet” when our minds wander off track into our everyday thoughts). A melting pot and quite the rarified place, yet it is always right there waiting for us whenever we want to visit; there’s the irony since we make it seem so hard.

The cosmic joke is that most of us use every means at our disposal to keep ourselves thoroughly distracted from the Now and fixated somewhere…anywhere…else; almost as though we fear the very power of the experience that awaits us, should we deign to linger there. Or, perhaps we even fear disappointment because it may not arrive with all the bells and whistles we tell ourselves our peak expierences will have hung all around them, nor the fanfare playing. Connection with the Now moment is often the most understated thing in the world and yet its effect is second-to-none.

It can take training yourself to be there, first in moments of presence, then perhaps 20 minutes at a time, to limber up this long disued muscle of “nowness” but when we do that, well, odd things, enticing things, start to reveal. They are the sort of things that have huge significance to us personally, but which don’t really share so well with others (an excuse we use to discount them as unimportant, imagined, a trick of the mind…). A mistake I made for a long time was to try, struggling to share my personal epiphanies in all their minute detail, desperate to find others that related when, really, the true power of them was intimate and unique to me; we each have our own eiphanies waiting for us in the Now. Its a mistake I am starting to remedy; breaking this addiction with seeking validation, approval or even just conversation over matters that are utterly unique to my particular tilt on “consciousness”. Its a thin line I walk as a writer who still loves to write as much as ever yet coming to know where to draw the line between what is personal and precious and what others might relate to and draw interest or even solace and encouragement from.

Paradoxically, I have found, one of the odd things about staying present is that I migth be transported to “other times”, only to realise they are more of the “now” than I could have, otherwise, realised. Split moments from long ago start to insinuate into my consciousness like they are as fresh as the morning dew and very real and impactful, suddenly. Its not as though I am remembering (an action, led by the mind…) but that I am actually “there”…and “here”…in two or more moments at any one “time”, and me the consciousness that triangulates the awareness of it all. I am the missing link only, in making it conscious, it is no longer missing and its as though the universe claps!

It touches on the posibility of being in more than one place at one time, making a very different landscape of “my story” with its inherent sense of “history”, its insistence on “cause and effect”. And of course, when I encounter people in those reveries that are long-since gone from physicality, there is no sadness, as though I am really spending time with them, perhaps more closely than I have for a very long time, which can be such a tonic or balm; a blessed release from the shackles of linearity. What I sense is that, in such moments, my consciousness plays a game of frequency matching…it will connect with any other moment in time that is of the same or similar freuqency and that match becomes the proximity determinator, not space-time.

The more time I spend in such moments, the more I realise there is a pattern to my own frequency; a trend for my higher moments and my better feelings, something in common about when I have been happiest, most content, more in my groove. Shape sorting my moments thus is helping me to know myself better, enabling me to infuse the present moment with similar moments from “across time”. Of course, it gives me the incentive to match the frequency of times when simple pleasures were plentiful and when I was a complete natural at living in the pure presence of the moment, as all children are. It helps rewind me back towards innate skills that life had stolen from me or disuaded me from thinking were important and, suddenly, its as though my days have regained some of the beautiful, meaningful, simplicity we all had as children, just as long as our basic needs were taken care of and we could pursue what brought us joy as inspiration occured to us. I feel so fortunate to have known such times; and have so much incentive (having re-experienced them lately) to know them once again!

In a way, this is where it all began as I was on a mission to consciously recall my very best memories as part of the limbic retraining course I am on. It didnt really work, for me, to approach the task like a research project jotting down lists or staring at photos…I had to go into these moments viscerally or, rather, to draw them back into my present timezone to feel real, now. I needed to feel the feelings, smell the smells, relive every nuance of the best of the best, and make it part of my daily experience in the most powerful ways I could and this became the work of my daily morning routine (ongoing), following the Gupta Program.

It wasn’t long before I noticed that a great many of my happiest reveries pivot on those long summer holidays I spent, often completely alone in my own little world of creativity, or in the richly rewarding, if quirky, activities dreamt up with my one select friend, as that largely carefree child I used to be when I could be most exactly “myself” without outside interference.

Before I started my daily practice of the limbic retraining routines, I thought I remembered a great deal about those and many other “happier” times but I came to realise that what I thought I knew before was mostly surface deep or conceptual, until now I opened up the box, not by living in the past but by infusing the present with what came to me, spontaneously, from those times in moments when I was most relaxed and present. Certain experiences dial in to me so vividly I often feel as though I have spent my day straddled both “here” and “there” by the time I go to bed and, of course, it regulalrly infuses my dreams. The sheer detail of “recollection” can be astonishing, down to hearing the subtle sounds in the house, a refrain from a nearby radio, the shaft of air through an open window and the very texture and resistance of its handle as I touch it, feeling like I have been with people long-gone in recent timeframe as though they just stepped out of the room; only, there is no trying involved, these experiences just arise, darting in and out of me, when I am sat here or walking along, being as fully present as I know how.

You could say they are a fully-integrated part of my new normal; no longer compartmentalised or boxed up in a concept of time (related thought: How much does our ingrained concept of time being strictly linear perpetuate the sense that “past” or even “future” is some remote, inaccessible thing with a volume of space keeping us apart from it? How much healing and other potential do we miss when we adhere to such thinking??)

I began this work in earnest, following the deep threads of my consciousness, using somatic cues to bring to the surface authentic feelings from the very best of times, the kind that lit me up when they came back to me (finding, consistently, that it is the far simpler, more humble, recollections that do this for me!), like diving for pearls and holding them up in the sunlight of a clear new day. These are not sepia-tinged memories of the past, but real-and-present sensations of the now, rediscovered in the present moment. Using somatic cues to remind my biological body how to get back to the feelings has been really important and effective.

Those somatic cues have included listening to certain music, exposing myself to certain fragrances, spending time in gardens (my father was a very keen gardener), rehandling old objects and, yes, photographs and diaries, even rewatching old films and programs, retracing habits from long-long ago, being gratuitously childish with my more-than-willing partner, but its been more about allowing the unsupervised reveries to unfold in moments of freeform daydreaming, embarked on when I empty my mind and just allow whatever wants to “play” in my mind, without judgement or expecation. I’ve discovered this is another kind of “being present in the now”, only it is more focused upon the internal nowness than whatever is presenting in your outside circumstances such as detailed awareness of the space you are sitting in (though it can be useful to start from there, noticing the clock ticking, paying attention to the near and faraway sounds, listening to your breath, the birdsong, sensations in the body). The key is still to allow and be fully present with whatever arises, curious and open.

One of the most powerful tactics of all has been to spontaneously follow any newly arisen whims to pick up old activities, such as the passion for doing needlepoint that went on for years in my earlier life, dropped when I became a parent (I began when I was just 8 and continued for more than two decades). I’ve discovered that the most rhythmic and tactile of activities such as stitching, handling wool, holding a canvas in a certain way, can jolt giant stones from the door of a sizeable memory store holding aspects of my earlier self fully intact because, as I sit there enacting the very same movements as ever I did, my mind can open up to transporting itself across vast distances of time without any notice or fanfare. Not unlike how painting has been one of the most useful tools of mindfulness, facilitating massive leaps of consciousness over all the years I gave myself over to it, stitching has proved all the more useful lately for the fact it takes me further back “in time”, rewinding to a format of me that existed prior to so many kinks and turning points in the winding spaghetti of my life.

The sheer positivity of all of this has demonstrated to me, in reverse, just how detrimental trauma really is to a person; preventing them from going fully back into their self-created time-capsule, perhaps even causing them to seal off whole portions of the past with a “do not enter” sign, which is tantamount to cutting yourself off at the roots. Yet, when you open it all up, perhaps after clearing certain most-obstructive traumas away, there is generally far more “in there” that is of use and relevance to who we are now than we ever dared to hope for; perhaps even a key to our own healing, which is why limbic retraining is such a powerful method for tackling stuck loops in the brain.

Yet it’s not about losing myself in the past, as old people often do, and just wanting to stay there; far from it. I’ve discovered that this “earlier” fomat of self, that is apparently more pristine and less health or circumstance addled, doesn’t reside exclusively in the past, the present or the future but is in fact everywhere and very-much alive in me today. In fact, by getting to know her in one place, I now find her wherever I go, which is to say, I no longer let go of her hand in a crowd. As in, when life gets frenetic, when a lot is going on, I don’t lose sight of her as I once did because she lives at my core, as she always has done and always will do…only, having come to recognise her far better, to know her innate traits because I find them consistently scattered across all the times of my life (which the now moments help me bring forth and recognise as who I still am right here!), I am far more aware of that now. I won’t let her down or put her second (or last!) when others or life “circumstances” make demands of me and I won’t sell her down the river.

Photo by Tori Wise on Unsplash

While I do this inner work, there is a dream-like quality to it but I’m not dreaming (or losing my marbles). Its just that the edges boxing everything into strict compartments and linearity are falling away. Time distinctions have broken down, melting away and its a vast improvement, making more space and letting in more light. There’s a feeling of turning everything on its head or, really, doing cartwheels through the cut-and-driedness they told us was the reality we are stuck with; nothing is quite how we thought it was and we just need to open our minds to allow in new possibilities. When I do this, its as though I can be in several places at once, quite tangibly, fluidly, a lot of the time, with a degree of presence that I can almost sense is able to “pop out” at the other end of some time-tunnel, to be the state of consciousness that brings comfort or counsel to some other format of me (past or future), out of the blue. It’s an interactive relationship with other time zones, not like watching memory tv but feeling my own input, the mark my consciousness makes, in all “times and places” at once and also the reciprocity of it.

Like an ideal, fairly reciprocated friendship of the highest order, between like-hearted souls that have each other’s back when one or other is having a bad day, I find I can straddle multi-versions of myself at once, bringing both the wisdom of maturity and the clear-shining eyes of youth to every situation, simultaneously when I am in this space.

What I realise I am doing is creating a somatic brew of me…locating those elements of experience that, through my love of them and the joy they bring me, speak of innate qualities that remain ageless and unsullied by time or experience. It’s a brew of passions and enthusiasms, curios, colours and textures that are utterly unique to me and speak of my very essence when I paint a picture with them, so that I can quickly locate it via a far stronger sense of “what is me, what is not me” in the world from now on. Also, I can find this me-ness without such abject hesitation, as was my way in the past (from the time I first began to lose confidence in who I am and thus ceased to stand up for myself or set boundaries or even gave parts of myself away in an attempt to buy back the state of inner peace that was rapidly slipping away from me). Now, I find I never lost any of it; I simply lost the inner vision with which to see myself clearly and the wisdom to think that was important enough to defend. Now I am polishing off those eyes and the deep inner grasp that knowing ourselves is ALL we are really here to do.

None of this is possible without the now moment because that is where it all “occurs”. Its where we are dialed into our own consciousness, not into some long-running story that we assume we are written into as a character playing a role. This is us, behind the make-up, the cardboard stage set, the need for a plot. This is, quite simply, who we are and what makes us tick and getting aquainting with ourselves is the very beginning of every most powerful experience of our lives.

Now is the touchdown point for whatever is landing. It is the spark point, the ignition moment, self-realisaton achieved in split-second doses. It is where the fireworks get lit. Where the conception occurs. The unknowable gets glimpsed…and can never again be, truly, forgotten, having been made conscious. Its those moments that alter whole trajectories, on a pinhead. And its the moment when nothing measurable occurs…and yet this nothingness, itself, is the whole point of it all (and you know it!). Its “that day” it all began and its every day, once you learn to stay in the present moment, at least once an hour if you can (as a rule of thumb). Then, you start to notice when you fall unconscious again and you pull yourself up short. You snap out of it. You wake up.

All these things and more occur in a humble moment of nowness, made present through the consciousness of a surrendered and receptive human “brain” (really, both head and heart in tandem) and its so powerful it can break adictions from all sorts of other meaningless activities. Warning: it may prompt you to rethink the purpose of your life!

And its forever work in progress…of course…but my body is responding to it and that’s a great big start. My sense of selfhood now surpasses any of the long-winded stories I used to tell about my health and my life to date.

Once found, such a resilient sense of self holds you steady regardless of circumstance, since what presents as circumstance is always relative to the consciousness that perceives “what is going on” in the world. Its really true, that it all starts with self-love, self-awareness, that inner sense of unsullied wholeness and once you have the merest gimpse of that, you are already on your way home.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Health & wellbeing, Life journey, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here to hold light

To feel such joy and such sadness at the same time seems to be part of the inbuilt dichotomy of these times…and is how I feel every morning when I walk in “our” little woods to where the crescendo of birdsong just seems to get louder and more complex the closer I get to this very spot (the video I’ve attached is all about the cathedral of sound and gets better the longer it runs). The thrush song is quite tremendous this year and the exquisite thrush-wren duet is almost a daily performance, along with blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, black caps, dunnocks, blue tits, great tits, goldfinch and many, many more star performances. Yet the row of big orange diggers is poised in the field just 30 feet from this spot, prepared to start work on yet another housing estate so, very soon, there will be the deafening grumble, the shouty voices and the red London clay-dust coating everything, in ears and in mouth and settled on the surface of every water pool, as per the previous several developments (we have had them, non-stop, for the past several years so we know the ropes).

The birds in this hallowed spot will no doubt retreat in the same way as all the deer I used to hang out with on a near daily basis (which withdrew when the first phase of this same large housing development was started and never returned; this artwork “Looking Back” was my homage to that tragedy and I have seen maybe two young deer on the hillside it depicts in the last three years whereas there used to be a dozens at a time most days at dusk). Since nobody seems to be paying attention to the relentless, unconscious harm done to places where only the most perfunctory and self-invested surveys are conducted, I guess doing the inner work to try to come to terms with these things in the best way we know how, for our sanity and spiritual sanctity, is how we do the real self-development work of our lives…but I never said it was easy or that there aren’t days when I could buckle down to my knees and weep in this spot instead of fully appreciating these precious moments in the here-and-now.

If anything (and I think there are others who would agree) I feel capable of experiencing more joy than ever these days, because I think some of us are allowing more joy into our bodies as we make room for it the-more, having done so much work to clear old programs and traumas out of ourselves to make space for more light. So here is the paradox: to be able to experience more of the exquisite, through all of our refined senses, and yet to inevitably notice wherever there is still such unconsciousness, such harm and short-sigtedness going on, as though to be torn in two. Yet (and here is why I so-often hesiate to share my thoughts these days) I’m not here to be the perveyor of gloom; I don’t want people to read this and add add their own “yes, its all terrible, isn’t it?” comments below. What I really want is to incite people to feel even more of the appreciation for what we still have, to take the time to stop and absorb all this instead of rushing on by, to go even deeper into the moments of beauty and light, to truly feel them throughout their entire nervous system and take them deep into their bodies (not to go into more trauma and sense of loss but to fuel ourselves with more light) so that, in our way, we amplify it all; not joining in with the misery and woe but counter-balancing it. Refusing to be defeated by it. Holding the experience of light inside ourselves, in our awareness and as our frequency when we engage with others. Staying present with beauty and joy, holding space for it to be here in this reality, now and tomorrow. Affirming that a world of nature and beauty and radiance is what we want; not coiling up inside as though it is already “lost” to us, a done deal, giving hopelessness all our power and adding the weight of our negativity to its relentlessness.

Allow also that there is a gift in it; the sore-spots of external world, with all its frustrations and abrasions, are merely the inflammed nerve endings that lead us straight back to the central nervous system of our own consciousness where “the problem” began. What harsh, relentless, pressing things are gobbling up all the soft, creative spaces inside of me and why and how do I let them? How do I get myself into more balance? What do those things that bully my time and attention tell me about myself and all that I can do to make things more comfortable, starting with my own domain, my choices, the boundaries I set around those parts of me that are less to do with order, achievement or aquisition; those that are more about stillness, beauty and being fully present in love and appreciation. Here is work that I can do on a daily basis.

So then we become more resilient to “the other stuff” and we start to notice how our focus draws more and more such unexpectedly “higher” moments to us because of how we magnetise and multiply them (… as the unmistakably etheal strains of Chopin’s piano followed by O mio babbino caro and Agnes Dei from Fauré’s Requiem waft over my fence from the radio of a workman doing woodwork for my neighbour; I can’t remember a day when the ceaseless drone of boom box and traffic noise where I live on a main road was contributed to by a more unexpected or welcome “noise” so that, for once, I find myself straining to hear instead of jamming in earplugs and feel a profound lilt of joy course through my energy field). We notice how things that felt hopeless become near-misses as turnarounds happen; if not in the exact circumstance we wish we could transform but in others further along the path…because we held to the light.

More and more (I guess I’ve been contempating “my purpose” a great deal lately), I realise this is why I am here.

Posted in Birds, Consciousness & evolution, Conservation, Health & wellbeing, Life choices, Menu, Nature, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New paradigm, now in this minute

If anyone were to ask me now, and if I was being truly honest with them, I would describe myself as “retired for health reasons”; I have desisted from the usual, relatable activities of life “for my health”. No longer in hot pursuit of justification for my existence via “what I do”, how much I am “noticed”, “valued” or “seen”, whether my output is considered “enough” or “worthy” or “commercial” out there in the world, whether people look at my life and imagine me to be “a success”, I have taken my foot off those pedals for several months now, not even seeking to plug the gap with other forms of busyness; and more so than ever these last few weeks.

Really, this has been the case for 15 long years but it has taken me this long to admit it, even to myself. That old cultural imperative, to justify ones existence, has pressed upon me, long and hard yet I find there is no shame in the admission. I found it as hard as, perhaps harder than, anyone in a nine-to-five to get off that merry-go-round of plugging the work gap in a miriad home-based ways, while I have been at home dealing with chronic health issues, in order to bolster my lumbering sense of self-identity. Perhaps there is something about reaching one’s mid-fifties that makes it feel more acceptable or appropriate to call on the retirement card but it goes far deeper than that.

You could say, I now do everything for my (physical, emotional, spiritual) health and silently pose the question “is there any other reason?” There is a word that I find myself using much more than ever and it is “allow”; I “allow myself” to just be…to be me…to be quiet and still…to be complete without needing to explain myself…to take time out…to recover…to relax…to flow…to cease believing the world and its problems sit squarely on my shoulders or that I have to save anybody and this has been a whole other layer of “retirement” taking place, as in to pull back from centre stage to my own fringe performance.

As the world spills out of lock-down today, my days continue to be, if anything (or so it seems) “smaller” than they were before it began and yet, from the inside, they are considerably more expansive than they have ever been in this and, likely, many other lifetimes.

Because there is nothing small about choosing the deep, existential journey as a priority, every day; allowing yourself to be led by whatever insinuates into your consciousness rather than by imposed (often externalised, even fear-driven) imperatives such as “I must earn money, I must be seen in a good light, I must justify my existence to others, I must keep the conversation going or everyone will forget about me and I will be left struggling all alone”. On a million zillion occassions, I have told myself “just this one last time…” as I make a choice that does not feel so authentic yet serves one of these old so-called imperatives of survival and that as been one of the big shifts lately; that I notice those old excuses bubbling under the surface and then I interupt them!

So now, days come and go and I feel no need to justify myself to anyone except my highest self; what did I learn today, how did I grow, do I feel more whole as a result?

From the outside it may seem boring or unstructured (though its not that I don’t perform necessary tasks; rather, they have become much clearer to see and thus to execute in good time) but these past months have been a roller-coaster ride on the inside. No two weeks, or even days, are the same as my journals fill up, my epiphanies multiply, my time spent in meditation and inner enquiry seems to grow and so I harvest wisdom that eluded me, or merely tickled around my edges, for years until I finally…finally…allowed myself to stop and just be.

Even when I thought I was doing just that, it turns out I wasn’t even getting close. I remained largely cerebral, self-justifying, needing to be seen to be doing what I was doing or to turn what I gathered into informational artefacts to trade with others, in order to stay safely social (nine-tenths of social behaviour is based on fear of being marginalised) and to justify myself in a worldly sense that only ever inverted the whole process I thought I was excelling at; as though I was removing bricks from the top of my own tower to begin using them all over again at the foundations.

I was caught in the trap that nothing I was experiencing felt “real” unless it was broadcast and seen by others, given that stamp of approval and related to, but I was wrong. It is very real; more real every day, when I allow myself to be in the experience with no need whatsoever to communicate it or find experiential partners, thrilling as those can briefly be. We each take this consciousness journey the way we came into life; alone and yet its the richest experience on offer, in spite of all the bad press.

It took the Gupta Program coming along and “giving permission” (to that conditioned part of me that, in the old days, might have required a doctor’s note to justify taking time off) to stop everything except prioritising my own recovery to make space for this to happen. All the many resources in the program have reinforced this choice to pull back and prioritise my own experience over any other demands that may ever seem to be “coming in at me”, whilst highlighting all the many conditioned parts of myself that have been overly paying attention to such demands, at my own expense. What I find is that we are all in recovery…every single one of us…only, for some of us the process is made so very slow, or stalls altogether, due to this obsession with busyness and self-justification, the belief we always have to operate as a pack, the entrained emotional need to mark out our days with activities ticked-off on a calendar and accolades collected, an impressive-sounding label on that business card and that well-rehearsed line we repeat at parties “this is what I do”.

Its not the I don’t tick things off any more but they are driven by a different imperative; to do with self-improvement and striving for more wholeness, greater purpose beyond the material and feeling MUCH MORE LIKE MYSELF. This part of me has been all-but absent or hiding herself in the shadows for decades but I catch glimpses of her in my childhood and early life, even flashes from the future and, now, I encourage her here to spend time with me, to chew the cud and spend playful hours exploring what really makes us tick.

Part of the process has been to cut ties with old habits, behaviour programs, addictions, compulsions, even ones like this one urging me to share my thoughts with “the world”; what makes me want or even need to do that, why do I crave an audience or feel what I “realise” is worth nothing unless I do?

I’m not sure that I do think those things, at all, any more, so (after running my checks on why I am writing this morning) it feels more like I am putting this out here, perhaps, as a sort of comma or even a full-stop in the long-running conversation of my blog. Yet, as with all things, I leave the door ajar, allowing it to be easy to flow back this way, should the (genuine) urge come back to me to share my thoughts here again; only, it must be from such authenticity now, not a mere itch to scratch. I pause much longer before I publish these days because if the driving force is emotional it passes like a weather-front; and those impulses that stand the test of time may filter through to be shared, but only if my instincts tell me so (here’s a clue to the ratio; far more posts have been left as drafts than published lately). Sometimes the desire to write can be enough…and then let it go to the wind and the same with every creative or executive urge, once all pressure is taken off them. From where I am standing, this consciousness-filtered space seems like a much healthier space; imagine a world where we all, much more mindfully, considered our actions and expressions and took pause before we unleashed them?

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

I’m easy either way with where my blogging goes from here but, for now, its all part of a sort of cold-turkey from conventional life that I have going on; a studied detachment from whatever feels like it is pressing upon me, to question “Why?” does that thing have any say-so to assert over my days and hours? “Why?” do I give it my attention and my energy to it. “In what self-supporting way?” does it contribute to my existence; because there are no other acceptable excuses for perpetuating behaviours in our lives than that they support us in being who we really, most authentically, are. Anything less than this quickly becomes unhealthy (I have learned the hard way).

In short, I pause long enough to really consider, do I give this thing energy or do I put my energy to better uses? All things being equal (imagine that if you can), do I want more of this thing in my future world?

If the answer is no then I take my foot off that so-called impulse or imperative (which can be so hard to do when a lifetime’s precedent urges every muscle and fibre to keep bearing down on it, in case the vehicle of life should suddenly stall in the road) and, remarkably, the world always keeps on spinning…though in a somewhat different way. Little by little and, conversely, all at once with an immediacy that continues to shock me, this changes everything.

Its how, in ways both slow and instantaneous, I am stepping into another paradigm in spite of whether or not anyone else sees the opportunity or decides to choose it for themselves (not my business); because its all a highly-personal inside job, an exercise of freedom, a self-selected outcome we each get to craft for ourselves in this moment via the sequence of minuscule, ever-more mindful, choices made throughout our days.

Posted in Consciousness & evolution, Life choices, Life journey, Meditation, Menu, Personal Development, Recovery chronic illness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No time to waste

In search of something “just so” to lose myself in as the reading matter of my next few weeks, over which I plan to make some considerable reading time, I am faced with a dilemma (having just finished Ted Chiang’s wonderful “Exhalation”, which has become one of my favourite reads of all time).

Part of me is drawn to reading Paul Scott’s “Raj Quartet” given how much I got out of re-watching “The Jewel in the Crown” last week. So many layers of thought came up for me, spurred by this other transitional era/generation (bearing comparison to our own); so much so that it is still feeding my dreams night after night. It is, and was the first time (when I was just 16 years old) what feels like an epic of personal relevance to me as my mother grew up “out there” in India during the rise of the Indian independence movement, as the daughter of a regimental sergeant major, and my fascination has only ever been the greater due to the fact she was always so very reluctant to talk about it. That curiosity led me to pour over novels and adaptations relating to “the raj”, to study the life of Ghandi as a special project, to take up social, political and moral philsophy at college and, in my spare time (and, really, ongoing), to wrestle with all the messed up confusion of empire and social responsibility, of how people of different races come (often clash) together and then pull apart, leaving so many tangled or abandoned threads for generations to come. That curiosity is still alive in me sufficiently for me to feel that same urge I once had to dust down Paul Scott’s hefty tombs and re-read them (I can recall reading some, if not all, of them the first time).

Quite a portion of my young life was spent pouring over such questions as an era “in flux” give rise to and its a habit in me that dies hard. I also dislike, when something provokes my thoughts to that degree, to leave it all to the abridgement of a TV or film adaptation so there is that hanging over me. My inner geek (I see her clearly when she pops up these days, still wearing the furrowed brow of the college student with exam deadlines…) thinks she wants to take a deep-dive because, retrospectively, it seems like it was once a happy or at least a comforting place to be, making it a beguiling place to return to.

However….the novels are verbose and they are long. Relatively flowing reading-matter, from yesterday afternoon’s dive into the first chapter, but still long-winded and of their era (written in the 60s) and I don’t feel I can give myself over to such a brick of a book for as long as it will take to get through them (or the distraction of it for as long as it will inevitably take, dragging me into its mindsets as reading will always do; impossible to dive deeply into a book and not have your every thought, yes as I said dreams, coloured by it for weeks or months). If I had a dozen lifelines the same as this one, and access to them all, as though I could skip between them as I might between sparkling rivulets meandering across a water meadow, then maybe in some of them I would go ahead with reading the Raj Quartet (or War and Peace…) to see how that contributes to my life. However, in this one I feel as though time is of the essence and far too valuable to squander; which all comes from having such a strong sense of life purpose, one which has always been with me and shows absolutely no sign of abating as I grow older!

I could describe it as, I always feel distinctly as though a future end-point me is drawing me towards itself along a timeline that has to be far more direct than that, to get to where it is sitting. When I come to a choice point it will either sagely nod or shake its head (really, more of a gut feeling) and I have to, sometimes, over-ride quite compelling forces of nostalgia or other compunction that would have had me dally off the path. I now get this “unnecessary diversion” feeling around much of the “old” literature that used to feel like home to me, back in my literary days…and, though I try hard to be guided and courageous, moving forwards not back, I am frequently left with a problem; what do I read next, who is writing the kind of material that feeds me in this progressive, evolutionary way (other than all the many non-fiction writers I already engage with)? Where is the contempory fiction that looks forwards, not to the topics of war, or cancer, or horror, or divorce, or past-trauma, or dsystopia, or kitchen-sink drama, or fluffy romance? Where is all the optimism, combined with new thinking and the sheer force of imagingation that is fiction?? (By the way, suggestions are very welcome.)

This is why I am drawn to Ted Chiang. Per the quote on the front cover of “Stories of Your Life and Others” (one of two short-story compendiums, “Exhalation” being the other and I only wish there were more) “Ted Chiang’s stories are lean, relentless and incandescent”.

Yes! They are lean…that is the right word for me…no surplus words to frustrate my Asperger’s, no long-rambling descriptions for the build-up (in fact, very few at all that aren’t utterly poised and essential to the narrative of an idea-delivering plotline – I wonder if he is also an Asperger’s…) Yet these stories are far from devoid of feeling, or nuance, or ideas so colourful they explode in your mind like a drug bomb of repercussions; quantum thoughts, now unleashed into the fabric of your mind, concerned with the now and the future, THIS lifetime, this point in our evolution (not some long-winded retrospective about a messy cultural shift that occurred more than 70 years ago and which has still failed to settle down in all its repercussions). If such retrospectives are like inheriting a Victorian house stuffed to the brim with artefacts you have to sort through, to ascertain what is of any use, what is just old bric-a-brac destined for landfill, his writing is like Ikea, everything clean lines and built to a purpose. He is relevant and he is provocative but, as the quote says, his writing is also incandescent…like the brightest of bright lightbulbs going off in your head, to illuminate all the corners where you almost peered into the dark at least once in your life (maybe…) but now there is no avoiding it, there on the page, familiar yet so-recently tucked away under deep layers of distraction, now exposed for anyone to see. Your paradigm is shifted because that thought is now unleashed and you will never look at things quite the same way ever again.

This is the difference between reading something like this…modern to the point of futuristic…over something nostalgic, backward-looking, combing over our mistakes and foibles of the past (useful, to a point, I agree…) but when you get into these new thoughts, new ideas, a lot of that raking-over of dead leaves becomes, instantly, superfluous…all gone, along with the paradigm that once held such thinking together into structures, now flaccid and without animation, the relics of a museum past. There is a feeling of cutting to the chase when writing gets into its futuristic groove and it draws me much more, now, than the comfort of nostalgia…but, by its very nature, there is very little of it about. It leaves the literary part of me hungry, all the time, for something to read!

For sure, some remnants of those structures played with in The Raj Quartet are very much alive and kicking today…to do with class and race distinctions, etc…but, when we look backwards, even to pick apart, we somehow strengthen those very ideas, giving them more energy, as though to breath life into a near-corpse lying on the ground when, really, we just want it to roll over and let us start over again, without all the contortions of a bygone era, when we didn’t know any better (we know better now).

When we give that energy to brand-new, paradigm-shifting “what if?” kind of thoughts, we don’t just feel we are some sort of slow-rolling transitional generation trundling in 3D slow-motion along a cause-and-effect route towards change, with all its inherent pitfalls and disappointments (as we, our parents and grandparents have been doing for the last century) but we KNOW we are a transition generation with every vital nerve of our rapidly evolving quantum biology, making instantaneous leaps of neuroplastic significance with every new thought that sparks into life inside our ever more receptive and unlimited minds. We know because, like the caterpillar having turned to mush by the eating of its own flesh, we can now sense the growth of butterfly wings. If only we turn out attention to those wings, not the mush…

So, I vote for wings and continue to look for writers, like Ted Chiang, who feed that imperative for future-looking growth (and flight…) over retrospective. Its more than possible to halt our own metamophosis with some mere twitch of an old habit, those places we allow our minds to wonder off to, our old fixations and our familiar comfort-zones…if they are going nowhere new…or we can halt the process of eating our own tail and call for those wings, right now. This is where the matter of no more time wasting comes into it. And we can tell the difference between one choice and another because of the lighter frequency we can feel coursing through our bodies once we make the more progressive choice; as though we are no longer creating a lag-factor against the very impulse of the universe to keep expanding and accelerating.

Once you get into this mindset, it percolates into other aspects of your life. What else don’t you have time to waste doing, thinking about, ruminating on? What part of your routine, your health, your perceived limitations has taken you backwards to rake over past mistakes, old piles of leaves, in case somewhere in there is the answer to all of your conundrums? How could it be far better spent, feeling into new potential realities that question the very boundaries of dimensions, seeking answers that can only be felt via the gut because, for now, there is nothing empirical to “prove” their validity, although that “proof” will surely come along as a brand new reality morphs into being before our very eyes (because we believed it would, with our ever-fertile imaginations). Never forget that reading is how we sow seeds in the fertile ground of our minds; so, as any gardener knows well, be mindful of the quality of the soil but also of the kind of seeds that you sow, and that goes for our viewing time too!

Yet I am also reminded of a wonderful quote from the mouth of a colleague of my husbands on a remote training course he once attended, who had cancer, and who said with complete lack of pathos “I don’t have time to rush”. This was in response to all those people on the weekly calls who would ask her why she wasn’t spending more time rushing about fulfilling some sort of bucket list and yet what she had to say in response became one of the most powerful things my husband ever heard spoken, and from him to me the same. Because it is so very true; just as relevant to any of us here as to her or indeed anyone else on “limited” time (though, of course, none of us know how much time we have left and we should always live that way).

However much time we have, none of us have time to charge through life as though we are on some sort of conveyor belt, never once stopping to smell those roses, to take it all in…what a waste.

Yet the wonderful paradox is, the more we slow down and pace our days, the more we hand-pick exactly what is right for us in this moment (not, out of habit, simply making the choices some earlier format of ourself might have made because we have decided that this is what we like to do). When we question what we really like, what really draws us, excites and engages us in this very moment then we are free to re-choose in every new minute of our lives, a rebirth impulse that propels us directly onto our highest timeline, towards our highest evolution…no more wasted time, no unnecessary detours or replays, just directly back home towards the wholiness of ourselves.

Posted in Books, Consciousness & evolution, History, Life choices, Literature, Menu, Personal Development, Remembering, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Acts of volition

If everything has to be the result of a cause and effect chain reaction then I was a lost cause many years ago. So why do many of us continue; what drives us to hope for that which a strictly causal future is unlikely to present in the linear timescales we have at hand? What do we quietly know at our core and yet choose not to say outloud for fear it would make us sound “illogical”, “delusional” or “mad”? What thing inside of each of us is so powerful we fear it in ourselves (mostly, the fact we make so little use of it…) and what we are truly capable of, or as though its not polite to regard ourselves as powerful under our own volition (as in, not because of our “position” in life, because someone else bestowed it upon us or through having loads of money)?

When we step outside of those perameters, making that quantum leap outside of the cause and effect box, we become the creator that created that original bang out of nothingness. We step outside of the strict corridors of linearity and wander off piste where others have seldom gone. We even have a word for it: we call it “experiencing a miracle”, a rarified concept, but then I consider miracles to be far more available these days than most people tend to believe.

We also call it “making a quantum leap”, manufacturing that for which there were no ingredients just moments before. As in, we disregarded some “logical” conclusion and made an alternative happen anyway, through the volatility of our thoughts (Volatile: from French volatile, from Latin volatilis – fleeting, transitory; swift, rapid; flying, winged, birds, from past participle stem of volare “to fly”, one minute on the ground wishing for something else and the next soaring high). We are taught to think of being volatile as being “unreliable”, “hot-headed”, “likely to go up in smoke”, but the word root says different; so see how we have been detatched from our wings!

You could say, volatile means to be active in the sense of a creator; the original spark out of nowhere…fleeting but potential-loaded, poised to take flight, filled with the lightness of unlimited possibility, lit up with hope.

When put together with volition (from the Latin stem as in volo “I wish”), like a match to a taper, we create with a bang; our very will to make something happen caught on the wings of a creator power poised to take flight, not taking “no” for an answer.

We each have that volatility, plus that original will, inside of us…its what makes us human…but we mostly defer to the traintracks of linearity, trundling between stations signposted “Cause” and “Effect” on a one way line. When we are born, we are issued with that journey’s season ticket…and we renew it every time we succumb to the belief that “this is all there is”.

Yet what happens when we decide to get off the train, take a leap from its moving carriage, take that risk with our life in our hands? What happens when we spy an alternative destination from the corner of our eye and pull the emergency stop cord? It may look like “crash” but this is often what we have really done when we hit some life arresting situation that forces us to consider other options (as in, done by some subliminal part of us that dared to pull on that cord). Its in all the ensing kerfuffle of our crash that we often get to take a long-hard second glance at that alternative landscape we originally caught sight of in our sideways glance and, daring to see it, no longer denying it is there, is how we then break out of our conditioned linear thinking. You could say, the peripheral view now becomes the main view and everything changes. Because, one way or other, it always takes an interuption of conditioned, predictable, thinking to effect a paradigm shift!

Let’s not understate what it took for us to pull on that emergency cord, long before we had any logical reason why; an implusive, paradigm-shifting, act of volition in itself. It takes a certain kind of thinking (a certain type of daring…) to manufacture a crash such as that, even at the subliminal level; quite a leap of courage to take such a quantum leap, an interuption to “normality” and all its inherent comforts. We might do it because we are the natural-born contrarian, the one who always saw outside the box because of the way we are “wired”…or because we are an inventor or born shifter of paradigms, an Einstein in the making…or because we feel as though we have no other choice at the time. Yet, somewhere within that choice made out of coercion (such as the sudden chronic illness that drops you to your knees), hidden deep inside what felt unavoidable or inflicted, there may be a part of us that was, really, making the original bid for freedom, which is really the absolute choice of breaking everything down into its tiniest parts, in order to choose again, choose differently, choose freely, and thus reinvent your life from scratch!

When we feel most cornered and as though there is no other desirable option left ahead on the mainline of life, we may find ourselves digging deep within, only to find that volatile spark alive and well at our core. This can, sometimes, be the gift of breakdown…as in, we find our original spark and realise ourselves to be creators (more so than any conventional linear life path could have shown us).

We might need to do some work breathing life back into that spark, stoking its potential. So, for instance, we might explore mindfulness, take up daily meditation to make the habit of interupting our linear thoughts, dare to consider that there is much more to life than “all this” that seems so concrete, to think outside of mainstream and to prick up our senses around other examples and individuals hinting at a world that lies beyond what is “given”, “fixed”, “logical” or “linear”.

And then, in time, we become that creator…as soon as we make a choice (no matter how large or small) that is an absolute act of unprogrammed free will, neither driven by pressure nor precedent but straight from the heart. That requires no proof for us to believe in it as much as, or more so, than any medical diagnosis or announcement on the news or even undeniable “symptoms” that may scream at you that they are real and something to despair about. Ultimate freedom in action; an act of volition.

When we do that, and it could be, say, the choice to thrive when all else seems to be turning to chaos around us, to be “of nature” when artificial is the buzz-word of the era, to be well again, against all the odds; and then we follow through regardless of other people’s advice, opinions or “evidence” to the contrary, we step up, becoming that original creator. What we create may stop people in their tracks in awe…or go completely unnoticed, yet we felt it course through our veins and we can never be quite the same again. Once touched by it, and the more we practice holding our own freedom of choice in its purest potential (no longer regarded as a “fairy story” but respected as the most potent kind of creator power, made manifest by the force of our will) we can never go back to the humdrum of foregone conclusions, of an unreasonable yet (paradoxically) “reasoned” causal reality made into a false god, because we have experienced a LEAP!

But first, as I said, you have to put yourself in the mind space (which should really be “heart space”…) for making such a leap. You could say I have been doing that for the past 16 years of never, really, losing faith that I would recover my health; certainly the last 10 years since I worked on my mindfulness. I am doing it though my commitment to the Gupta Program, which is a powerful guide through the territory of creating new, unexpected, outcomes out of what feels most stuck in your health.

When you make such a commitment (forgive me yet another metaphor…being a visual-thinker, I do so love to use them!) its like tuning up in the lobby where the lifts go up and down, day after day, holding faith that an up-lift will be coming soon. If life’s most stuck, most vehemently predicatable circumstances seem like a circle or a closed loop then our paradigmn shifts are a spiral and the lift is like the tail end of the spiral that will lift you up to the next level. That level might look all-but the same as the lower level, at a glance (the view from the window, you could say, hardly any different than before) but even the miniscule difference in the view that one floor affords will start to impart insights into things that escaped you the last time you went around the loop and, gradually, you realise the game has shifted (you could say “elevated”) to another level, a new paradigm.

At face value, you may seem to be dealing with the very same stuck points, same crashes, same disappointments as yesterday but you start to realise the value of these upper floor action replays because you are now noticing the patterns that help make sense of it and afford an alternate “way out” to what you were able to see (as though you have much clearer eyes now) at the lower levels. So, day after day, without expecation, preconception or dwelling on any of the lower levels (“the past”), not even antipating what the higher floor will look like, and quite regardless of how “bad” or “demoralised” or “exhausted” you happen to be feeling that day, you simply show up in the elevator lobby (its a mindset…or heartset), wide-open to the posibility that an up-arrow will show up on the display and the elevator doors will open up to let you in.

This, of course, takes faith and a dose of that will I was alking about above, coupled with the all-imporant ability to detach from “what seems” for just long enough to leap into the cracks in-between. Difficult sounding (though no more than remaining stuck, surely) and its important. Because, if human choices are miniscule, yet potent, acts of volition charged with the ultimate creator power then just think what we each hold in our hands and how essential they are to what we are about to create of our world right now in this unprecedented, but brief, window of opportunity to manifest something new.


Inspired by this quotation from the short story “Omphalos” by Ted Chiang:

“…I think there are events of another category that are likewise not fixed in a causal chain: acts of volition. Free will is a kind of miracle; when we make a genuine choice, we bring about a result that cannot be reduced to the workings of physical law. Every act of volition is, like the creation of the universe, a first cause”.

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