Wow, I just discovered this game. This could be of huge benefit to people. Not only people who are dying and their relatives, but also anyone who wishes to explore death and therefore come closer to life!
The game poses a series of interesting questions. It is designed to spark conversations about death between relatives who find the subject difficult to breach.
But, not only is it great for this purpose; it can also be used for increasing self-awareness around death. Therefore, it can be used by anyone.
This is a practice I developed a couple of years ago. At first it was just a bit of fun, designed to see how far I could go with it. However, I quickly realised that this exercise could help me to confront all my fears about uncertainty in a relatively safe environment. It challenged me to literally step into the unknown. Even though I knew that I was safe doing so, the exercise brought up my fears very quickly and I was able to confront and soften into them.
The great thing about this exercise is that even though it’s safe enough, it will still challenge you very, very quickly. It will bring up all your fear about stepping blindly into an unknown situation, but without any major consequences for your life. It also provides a very effective way to deal with the fears that arise, so that when you do need to step into the unknown down the line, you are already hard-wired to be able to cope with it.
The other great thing about this practice is that it is so simple and so flexible that it is possible for everyone to do. It can be done alone, in pairs, or in groups. I do it mostly alone, but it can be very powerful in a pair too, especially as an extra safety net. It can be planned or spontaneous, for example when out for a walk in the countryside.
So here it is:
This exercise, when done fairly frequently, will give you a great tool for dealing with any situation which brings up fear of the unknown. Feel free to go at your own pace. You don’t need to complete all 9 steps each time. Feel free to make your own alterations to the exercise. Be creative, and have fun with it.
One of the hardest things in literature, and especially children's literature, is to portray death in a way that invites a less fearful or condemning attitude towards this phenomenon.
There are a few children's book that have sought to introduce children to death. How to breach such a sensitive subject to minds who are innocent and not yet understanding of the impermanence of life? It's tricky for sure.
However, I would say that 'Cry, Heart, But Never Break' has managed this in a magnificent way. While portraying the character, death as gentle and understanding it also does not shy away from the realities of death. This is especially great for kids who have or are experiencing the death of a loved one and don't know what to make of it.
Written by Glenn Ringtved and illustrated by Charlotte Pardi, the book is a masterpiece, and highly recommended for parents who have grieving children or who simply want to teach children about this delicate subject in a gentle and sensitive way.
One of the things I especially love about the book is the emphasis that death is needed and that it makes life all the richer.
For more information and another great review of this book, check out Cry Heart But Never Break: A remarkable meditation on loss and life.
It's quite a bold statement, 'Healing is possible for everyone!' Many may be sceptical, but bare with me and I'll show you how this is true. I think we can agree that all of us want to be healed in some way. There may be moments in our lives that are wracked with both physical or mental illness, when healing is really all we can think about. Or, there may be old wounds, festering in our subconscious that just won't go away; that affect our daily lives in many ways. I think you'll also agree that a journey of healing can often be demoralising, frustrating and downright confusing at times.
So let me try to set the record straight. In this article I will seek to debunk some of the myths around healing. I'm also going to show you how you can heal yourself, but maybe not in the way that you expect to be healed. By the end, I hope you will come away with a clearer picture of what healing means to you, and how you can heal yourself in your daily life.
The First Step: Unlearning
The first thing is to forget all your preconceptions about what healing actually is. At this point I'm not going to give you a definition of healing, because I fear it would either be far too broad, as to not really give you anything, or too narrow. Healing is one of those things that will be different for everyone - it will simply be what they need at the time (not necessarily what they want.
This forgetting of preconceptions is not only important for the flow of this article, but also on any healing journey. Most people go into a journey of healing with an idea or goal of what their healing will look like; no more cancer, being able to walk again, being able to function in society, going back to work. Or, when they realise that there's no hope of these things, there's the feeling that healing has somehow eluded them, that it's no longer possible. However, healing can be found in the most unlikely and unlooked for ways.
Here are a few of the major false expectations that taint a healing journey:
And here's the number one, bestselling myth out there, that almost everybody will believe at some point in their healing journeys:
'If I don't beat this illness, I haven't healed'
It can be a huge blow for people when they discover that they won't recover from the illness or infliction that they have. They will likely experience some form of grief and likely some loss of identity. However, healing on some level is always possible. You may even find that through accepting and even embracing your illness, you change in a very positive way. Thus, often the illness is the tool used for healing.
Stephen Levine recounts in his book, 'Healing into Life and Death';
'A friend very ill with advanced cancer, visited a highly respected Zen Master, hoping for some answers to her questions about healing. After explaining her circumstances, she asked, "Do I need to take on some spiritual path in order to be healed?" The Zen Master smiled, leaned forward, pointing directly to her heart, and whispered, "you are the path."'
What this means is that whatever illness or infliction we may have is just a tool on the overall journey of you. It is another stepping stone on the journey towards knowing yourself and being able to accept who you are and what life (and death) is. No matter what illness we may have, no person who has experienced a deep acceptance of life and themselves as beings within it can say that they don't feel like they've experienced healing.
Is there a universal cure for all ailments? No. Is there an answer to the questions, 'How can I experience healing in all circumstances?', or, 'Is healing possible for me?'
That answer is LOVE.
Love: The Ultimate Healing
I'm not speaking about romantic love here, though of course that can play a part in healing too. I'm speaking about love as an unconditional acceptance and embracing of life as a whole. Not just the good parts, but everything. The physical and emotional pain, the illness that prevents you from doing the things that you want to do, the friends and relatives who just can't seem to understand. They're all to be loved because they're all a part of your journey to self realisation, to true healing.
I'm sure there are many now thinking that this is a pretty tall order. Well I'm not saying it's easy, but blimey, it's worth it! Can you imagine the peace that this will bring?
But, How? Here's How!
Firstly, we need the commitment. This will not be an easy journey.
Secondly, we need a blank slate. As stated earlier in this article, we need to forget about any preconceived ideas about what we want out of our healing journey.
Then, we need to tear open our heart. Yes, it's brutal I'm afraid, but in order to get to that place of peace, we need to go through all of our darkness, all of our unexamined fears. We need to look them straight in the eye and accept them as a product of our thinking up to this point.
Thus, a process will follow. Gradually, all the fears that hold you back will be brought to the surface. It is important that we ask ourselves why we have these fears. What have we got to lose?
Then we ask, how can I honour this fear without getting caught up in it? What aligned aspect of myself wants to come forth? An example of this would be a fear of losing a part of your identity; as a person who is a carer, a parent, a fit person, a sociable person. Then you can ask, if one of these roles is taken away from me, then how can I still express it within myself? Well, we can care for ourselves, with understanding; we can look after what physical functions we still have, without being attached to keeping them; we can get getting to know ourselves as there are always more stones to upturn, more explorations to be had.
In doing this we learn to let go. We learn to embrace change. We learn to forgive ourselves and others. We learn who we are at in our essence. We learn to deal with physical pain. We even learn to embrace death, which in turn enhances life.
This, my friends, is true healing. It is never attached to a particular outcome. However, it is the cultivation of a way of being. It is the understanding of life and, more importantly, yourself as a whole entity, and loving all of it. For without the darkness we would not appreciate the light.
If we can commit ourselves to this journey, then we may find that we begin to experience miracles.
For more on the spiritual aspects of healing, check out this article from Trinity at Openhand: The True Nature of Healing
A while ago I wrote an article about channelling sadness into beauty. It's about taking your grief and creating a beautiful expression from it. Now, I've come across this amazing video of a new father singing 'Blackbird' by The Beatles to his new born son.
The sad story is that his wife died in childbirth, and his son died 4 days later. I can't watch this video without crying, its so beautiful in its tragedy. Tragic events like this take us closer to the meeting point of life and death, thus making everything more profound and intense.
Life becomes a thing of fragile beauty, just like the blackbird in the song.
We may have even established a meditation or mindfulness practice, but it begins to dawn on us that we are not really ‘living’ what we are talking about. The problem is that we are still, to a certain extent, identified with our body, emotions and mind. We know ourselves to be beyond the body as we’ve had glimpses of the magnificence of the soul, but we still get stuck sometimes in addictions and comfort eating. We still seek distraction and entertainment in order to numb our awareness as we recognize how painful enhanced awareness can be.
The Pain of Existence
'The Pain of Existence' is a term coined by Open at Openhand. It's a term to describe the fact that sometimes our very existence seems like pain. It is the original pain which comes from this paradox:
As souls we have a continual movement of two flows of consciousness within us. Firstly there's the flow out from the source (which we could call God). It's the flow which set the events of the big bang into motion. It's what causes our experience of being an individual, in a world of relativity. Then there's the flow of consciousness which goes 'back to the source'. This is what I have based the name of my website on and more information can be found on my home page. It's what causes us to give and seek love and to seek greater awareness of who we are. The pain of existence is born from the paradox that no matter how close we come to the source, there is no direct way of experiencing it, as to experience is to be in separation (relativity). This causes us to experience a great pain and this is the reason why we seek comfort and distraction in our lives.
You can read more about the pain of existence in Open's article.
Yes, this part of the spiritual journey, when we are beginning to realise this, is not an easy time. We are beginning to see that we are, in actual fact, pretty messed up. It seems so overwhelming. How to confront everything? Well there are a number of simple steps we can take to work with all of this so that we become the true spiritual beings that we have always dreamed of being.
Switching from 'Doing' to 'Being'
This is a fairly simple step, yet it can drastically change your perspective on life. If persisted with, there will be a hugely heightened sense that you are a soul having a human experience. It will no longer be a mental concept but a liveable experience. Here’s the difference. When we are ‘doing’, there is a tendency to try to control and manipulate our surroundings according to our own desires. Its a sticky trap to fall into. How many times per day do you find yourself saying ‘what should I do now?’ Or perhaps your day is already crammed with planned activities. Yes, having nothing to do can be very disconcerting as it forces us to look within.
But what is it the Gurus say? Ah yes, the outside world is just an illusion. Our inner world is the true reality. Consciousness creates our reality and the ‘law of attraction’ configures the world to provide us with what we need (NOT necessarily what we desire). You would not feel drawn to these teachings if a part of you didn’t feel them to be true. So why not live it? All you have to do is start, right here, right now. Yes, it will be painful at times as the universe conspires to show you where you are stuck – where your ego gets in the way. But, it will also be the most uplifting, profound and expanding experience you can have.
Here’s a couple of things we can do to enhance this change in perspective:
Let’s be clear. This is not the easy option. It is not filled with ‘love and light’. But it is a truly powerful way to unravel all your blockages and realize yourself as the divine being that you are. To be or not to be? THAT is most certainly the question!
This is Open's perspective on the pain of existence and how we can act from a sense of 'being' rather than 'doing'. I've included it here in it's original form rather than trying to put my own take on it as it's his concept and I really couldn't say it better myself. In it he takes this one step further and talks about how we can both 'be and not be' at the same time. Pretty mind blowing really:
So there is a place where there is nothing. Infinite stillness. Peace. It's a non-experience now dispersed throughout the universe, within the experience. You can be in this void, but as long as you still exist, you as an individual can no longer turn off the noise, not completely. And when you penetrate really deeply, through all layers of the cosmos, you might even taste the sense of bliss as an irritation!
But in the penetration of it, of the irritation, a sense of 'nirvana' can still be found through, above, below and around it. Then interestingly, if you stay connected to reality, then you can 'be' and 'not be' all at the same time. And when you're in this place, the very grounding of your beingness, just might change the physical material circumstances to something more favourable too. As long as you're not attached that is, as long as you don't need it.
To me, this Pain of Existence will never go away, but I'm able to work with it so it feels less and less like pain. You can become awesomely okay with it.
Ending on a Light Note
Of course, talking about entertainment and distraction, there is nothing wrong with being entertained as long as it is in a conscious way. Humour is a gift given to us to lighten the load and bring the light into darkness. So, here's a mostly irrelevant but none the less hilarious sketch on the subject of Hamlet.
To be or not to be, that is the question....
... and now for something completely different!
Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.
You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;
Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.
May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.
May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.
May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.
May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.
May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.
May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth
Hi everyone. This is a quick post to tell you of some of the things going on hear at Back to the Source at the moment.
You may have noticed that I have not written very many new articles in the last month or so. That is because I've started work on creating 2 new books! I'm really enjoying the creative process and look forward to where this goes.
Book 1: A book on 'coping with change' - the themes of 'loss of identity' and 'working with the concept of death' will be prominent in this book. It's going to explore exactly what causes us to have difficulty with change, and how we can embrace the small and large changes and losses in our lives. It's going to show a way beyond the limiting identities that we have - a way that makes us whole, all of the time.
Book 2: I've recently been given the opportunity to write a children' book! I'm very excited about this project. It's really proving to be a valuable exploration and I'm learning a lot about myself through it. It will be a set of short, magical stories, based on real life but set in the context of 'myth'. It will be aimed at children of around 7-10 years old. It's going to be about finding 'real' magic in everyday life, connecting with spirit and the earth. I'm also doing my own illustrations for it, so I'm very much looking forward to dusting off all the old paint brushes!
So stay tuned! I'm going to be creating a separate blog for the children's book, which I'll link here soon. Also, keep checking in as I'll post some more articles soon and maybe some 'sneak peaks' at what's to come in the books!
Continuing the theme of wisdom from children's books, here's a quote from 'Tuck Everlasting' a children's novel about what being immortal means. I find this quote great because it states such an obvious and simple truth, and our conditioning causes us to forget this time and time again.
My name is Richard. I love to write, and here you can find my general musings, observations and articles. Enjoy!
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