I love this TEDx talk. The reason I love it, is because Jeanine Staples talks about the deaths that we die every day and how we can be compassionate to them and ourselves and come through them. This is the foundation of my 'Embracing Change' work that will be launched later in the year, because it not only shows us how we can prepare ourselves for when 'final death' hits, but also how much richer and peaceful we can make our lives if we work with the concept of death.
So, I urge you to watch it. In the video Jeanine gives a fantastically fresh perspective, which very much mirrors my own philosophy and the way that I work with people. She has described it so well, using very clear models of the different kinds of death we die in our lifetimes as well as techniques we can use to establish a dialogue with our pain.
For related reading see:
What do you think of the video? I encourage you to share your thoughts, feelings or questions.
In a universe of constant change, change is the only constant - Open (Openhand)
So, how might we embrace this change, both in the wider world and in our personal lives, while maintaining a sense of who we are within all this? The answer - embracing death, in order to truly live.
Deny Death - Deny Life
We live in a world that is afraid of death. The uncertainty of what lies beyond and the fear of losing ourselves is so strong, and this manifests itself in our lives every day. It is not just about the final goodbye to this world, but in all the little deaths that happen throughout our lives. We cling to who we once were, afraid to take the step into the unknown.
What does this do to us? It makes us misers - hoarding possessions, experiences and identities, never letting go and moving on. We seek security and routine because within these we can build up a safe and consistent picture of who we are. But if we never let anything go, how can we bring fresh and new experiences into our life? By denying death in our lives we never really truly live.
How limiting this is?! I put to you that we are not a set of conditioned responses to a set and limited environment, but infinite beings expressing and creating from the pure potential of the Source. Yes, we are all unique in our own way, but why can't we express that uniqueness in all circumstances. Check out Lisa Rankin's Love letter to humanity for a lovely take on this perspective.
It's about finding the essence of who we truly are (which is unchanging) and dropping the limiting identities that we so desperately cling to. In doing this we can embrace life and live it more fully, however it changes for us. We know exactly who we are in every moment - our essence does not change. Is embracing vulnerability, change and the unknown and finding our true, unchanging essence within them not the real meaning of security?
Conscious Dying in Every Moment
When we really go into these feelings it's bound to get a little rocky. Lots of unconscious fears will start bubbling up to the surface. It's important to let any feelings that you might have about the big or little deaths in your life come forward. Honour them by expressing them and then feel who you are through them i.e. the essence of who you are - the silent witness beyond the feelings. Surrender totally and let go.
This will likely initiate feelings of expansion and peace, and if not then there may be something deeper to work on. When these feelings arise then work to express them. Perhaps you want to move your body, dance or sing, draw a picture, or maybe you feel to sit in it for a while. It's essential to focus on how you feel to be, rather than what you want to do, and then let right action take place. For further exploration on taking the next step into action see this article by Stacy Vajta.
As you develop this practice you will likely receive regular intuitions on how to proceed around change in your life. It will just feel 'right'. And, your life will be changing, as you flow with the constant movement of the universe.
Breaking through Subconscious Limitations
Here's a really powerful video from Openhand, which goes into more detail about breaking through subconscious limitations.
'Who am I?' It's one of the most painful questions we can ask ourselves, and yet arguably the most powerful for our ultimate psychological and spiritual well-being. It comes from a place of total vulnerability that few dare enter, yet when asked earnestly it can lead to a dramatically increased sense of centredness, self-confidence and purpose. A loss of personal identity can be hugely de-stabalising, leading to grief and depression but it's also a great opportunity to shine a light on who you really are, deep down at your chore. It's what I've come to term Source Energy.
What is 'Source Energy?'
Once we become identified with our own source energy, we will begin to see life very differently. We are much clearer in ourselves and thus come from a place of total authenticity. We know what serves us and those around us and what doesn't. And we trust that by simply acting from this place, our life purpose will already be being fulfilled.
So, how do we sieve through the clutter of our personality and conditioning to get to this place?
Panning for Gold
Mindfulness - becoming 'The Observer'
It will be of great benefit to become the observer of our thoughts, emotions and body. This can be enhanced through meditation and mindfulness practice as well as body work such as yoga and tai chi. When we are coming from the place of the observer, we are able to pick up the relationship between our thought patterns (conditioning) and our emotions. If we notice that a particular thought is accompanied by a sense (often subtle) of needing the situation to be a certain way, then we are able to let it go.
In the beginning this will take some practice and concentration, but after a while 'the observer' will begin to dissolve into 'witness consciousness' which takes no effort at all as it is a natural aspect of our source energy.
Doing what you love
What really floats your boat? Do you have any hobbies that got forgotten or you just don't have time for? What did you love as child? If you can find what really drives your passion then you are taking a huge step closer to your source energy.
Finding the Aligned Expression of You
Firstly, it's very important to know that behind every distorted expression governed by fear or control, there is an aligned truth. You ARE expressing your truth in every moment - only, it gets distorted when you get attached to the drama. For example, it is easy to get addicted to things that give us pleasurable feelings, but these feelings are all accessible within you, without the use of outside enhancements.
An aligned expression of you is one that supports yourself and those around you, serving the highest good in any moment, without seeking to judge or control. We won't get it right all of the time, but we can trust that if we are coming from a place of authenticity, then we are supporting the highest good, even if that is to challenge someones limiting perspectives.
Let's take our earlier examples:
It is not an easy path, but it is a hugely rewarding one. It is likely to take many years to master. Don't be afraid to be confused sometimes - confusion is of the mind - it simply shows us that our limiting perspectives are breaking down. The key is being willing to be vulnerable and being totally honest with yourself. If you can master that, then you surely won't go far wrong.
Grief - such a powerful process - it can seem to suck the very life out of us at times, holding us and preventing us from progressing in life or interacting productively with those around us. It is thus very understandable that we may feel badly about grieving, wishing it away. But, is grief something to be resented, or can we learn to accept it as a necessary process?
Grief Comes to us All
So, lets first begin with brief exploration of why we grieve, and then look at how we can deal with the grieving process.
Why does Grief Happen?
Grief is our natural emotional reaction to loosing something that we have identified ourselves with. What does this mean? Well, we all have an inbuilt desire to explore who we are and find purpose. The problem is that we tend to associate ourselves with how we relate to things in the outside. Thus we create identities based on who we are in relation to given objects, people and circumstances.
Why is this a problem? It means that when we lose the object of our identity (as we most certainly will at some point) the part of ourselves that was associated with that object is fragmented and very difficult to recover.
For example when we lose a job, we may have associated it with a sense of purpose, achievement, and community. When we believe that it is the job that made us feel that way, then losing the job will will also rob us of those feelings until we find something new to latch onto that will renew those feelings in ourselves.
So I ask you this question. When we grieve, what are we grieving over?
Here's a perspective...
Identifying with the Feelings
However, with this realisation comes another danger. The danger is that the feelings are simply transferred to another object, person or circumstance. It is vitally important that we realise that these feelings are coming from inside of us and not from the outside. Thus, they are always accessible.
If we come to this realisation then we can see that these objects, people and circumstances are not reponsible for our feelings, but rather outlets for our expression of those feelings. And an outlet is simply that and thus not something to hold onto. Thus if we lose that outlet we don't necessarily lose the feelings. At this point you might be thinking 'Wait a minute, isn't seeing my dearest love as simply an outlet of expressing a little bit impersonal?' Well, it has been my experience that when we are able to take responsibility for our own feelings and not project them onto others, it is only then that we are able to honour that person and really love them unconditionally.
At this point I want to stress that although we may realise this, it doesn't mean that we won't grieve. It may only determine the speed and smoothness of the grieving process itself. There will always be emotions to process. We may experience the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, though not necessarily in that order or even sequentially. What is important is that we don't hold onto these feelings as this then creates another identity around them.
Emotions are simply our way of processing loss and recovering ourselves through it. Therefore, its not productive to hold onto them or create identities around them. For example, we may feel guilty about the impact that our grief is having on those around us, or angry about the way that the grief seems to be holding us back from progressing. But, if we realise that our emotions are not us, then they can be given the space to come through us.
And thus, when we can finally, truly, 100% accept the situation as it is there is no sense of resignation but an embracing of the moment and everything that means.
This quote by Edgar Cayce - I only just discovered it - but it's really the basis for most of my 'Conscious Dying' work. One does not have to have belief in an afterlife to appreciate that life and death and are one. When one truly understands what this quote means then life and death are no longer separate concepts, but one can see that each exists within the other. When one truly understands this, not just in the mind but in their whole being, then life and death become so beautiful they are no longer worthy of condemnation.
We will all experience some form of loss of identity in our lives, particularly in old age or terminal illness. We may have identified with certain roles for most of our lives, but these roles can all be taken away in a single moment. So how do we come to terms with and recover from this loss? How do we go beyond these identities and find the essence of who we are?
Identifying with Roles
All these things can be the cornerstones of our personal identity, yet they can be taken away in a heartbeat. Injuries and illnesses that leave us bed ridden and unable to go to work, do our hobbies or socialise with friends and family. Or the degeneration of the mind that comes with old age, terminal illness or Alzheimers disease.
Let's first explore where these identities come from before we look at how to work with them.
Why do we become identified?
Let's be clear - we are not born with these identities (although one could argue that there may be a certain amount of predisposition due to genetics or karma). Babies enter this world unable to distinguish themselves from their mothers. Their senses are not separate and there is no sense of identity with anything relativistic (that is when we can say 'this is me in comparison to that').
As we grow, we are able to distinguish ourselves from our environment, getting to know our bodies, emotions and minds, knowing what we like and don't like, and finding our place within our families and the outer world. Neural pathways are formed in the brain, which provide a map of how we see the world. Thus we begin to identify ourselves with these specific and yet very changeable life circumstances.
And that is just the issue. We identify ourselves with things that are ever changing. In a universe of form, change is the only constant. However, if we are able to step away from identifying ourselves with the form, we are able to see that there are certain aspects of ourselves that stay relatively unchanging.
Finding our Essence (Source Energy)
Going Deeper - Traits of the Soul
These are certain ways of being that:
Here are some of the traits you may notice with these characteristics:
A Final Thought on Grief
We are of course emotional beings. Even if we are not identified with the emotions that we have, it is still important to let them arise and especially to express them. That way they are not held on to.
Grief is a natural way for us to process all the pent up energy that is caused by identifying with something outside of ourselves. See the follow-up article Understanding Grief to explore further.
We all feel sad sometimes. Perhaps you're mourning the loss of a loved one, perhaps it's sadness over some of the tragedies that are happening around the world, perhaps you feel stuck and don't know how to move forward. Or, perhaps you just feel sad for no reason other than it's a sad day.
Firstly let's explore what sadness really is, as when we realise what is truly at the heart of our sadness, then we are able to channel it positively.
What is Sadness?
The first thing I want to stress about sadness is that it is natural. It comes to all of us as part of the natural process of life; the ebb and flow that comes with living in a world governed by dualistic principles. It is impossible to truly know something without also knowing the lack of it. It may be triggered by something or it may simple wash over us.
Sadness is caused by our observation that things are not okay. A feeling that somehow our reality is unaligned, and doesn't always meet up to the beauty and love that we often feel. It is a playing out of our explorations of our reality, showing us where we may be stuck or attached to people of situations.
The Truth Behind Sadness
When we look a little deeper into sadness we see that there is one underlying feeling governing the whole experience... love. What we are experiencing is a temporary perceived loss of connection to that love, because we have lost the object which triggered it within us. However, when we look deeper, we discover that the love is still there and that our sadness is actually a manifestation of that love. We feel sad because we care. We grieve over loss of a loved one because that person was a object in which we could express our love, we feel sadness about world events because we want others to feel love too. We feel sad when there seems to be no channel for us to express our love, which is our natural creative expression of our uniqueness.
So how can we use our sadness to fuel our creative expression of our uniqueness (love)?
Honour the Pain
It's very important that we recognise our sadness for what it is, and know that it is a manifestation of our underlying feelings of love. That way we don't condemn it, push it away or ignore it. We embrace it as part of our beauty.
How does the sadness want to express itself? Depending on who you are, perhaps you will want to cry, curl up into a ball or stare off into space.
Express the Love
Finding the real you through it all can be extremely liberating. You discover that sadness and happiness are really two sides of the same coin - love. Thus you allow whatever arises, knowing that who you are underneath doesn't change. Then you express your feelings into the outside world letting those feelings of love, whichever form they may take, ripple out.
Your expression may also take the form of gestures, particularly when your sadness involves another person. You may wish to honour a loved one by doing something for them our creating something to remember them by. Here's a heart warming example of a young father who was dying of Cancer and wrote his son a series of letters to be opened throughout his life: When I'm Gone
Watch for the Reflection
Life is like a mirror. As we express ourselves into the world around us, thus we get feedback. This can take the form of reactions from other people - perhaps sharing your sadness, thus connecting through love, or being inspired by your creativity. If love expresses itself purely, without neediness or blame, then people will feel that and reflect it back to you. You can also look out for reflections in nature. Animals express there beauty very well and we can find reflections in them, or even just being warmed by the rays of the sun.
When we take this simple approach to heart we will begin to see amazing benefits:
A Final Poem
In the spirit of creativity, I've written a short poem on the subject of sadness. Enjoy!
Today is a sad day,
But that's okay.
I feel my heart beating with sorrow,
And I know that I am beautiful.
For how can beauty not feel sorrow,
to remind us of how openly we love?
I hear a song and I cry,
Tears that make my eyes glisten.
And looking through this shimmering lens,
I know that I am truly alive.
I am alive and I love.
Update: Click here for an awesome but heart-braking video example of channelling sadness into beauty
"If you think you're enlightened, try spending a week with your family" - Ram Dass
Recently I've been exploring the way I relate to my nearest and dearest, as well as other colleges and friends. How we relate to people has a massive impact on our consciousness and those around us and seeing as our loved ones are so dear to us, it's very important we explore how we relate to one another. Relating to the people around us can be tough, especially to the most powerful of button pushers - our family.
My sharing - how I've related to people up until now
As a child I often felt like I was being pushed into a box This came from adults around me but was also often of my own making, because of a desire to please. And because of my desire to please I actually became very good at blending into whatever situation I was put in. I almost didn't notice that in many of these situations I wasn’t 'me' any more. It meant that I often agreed with people because I adopted their truth as mine. Then in my early 20's I met a lady who encouraged me to stand in my truth, for example that I would sometimes say 'no' when people asked something of me, and I began to become more aware of my own energy frequency. But then the pendulum swung the other way and I would express my truth with my family, sometimes in very challenging and confrontational ways, which of course closed people down and lead to lots of angry exchanges.
So, over the years I've been seeking some kind of equilibrium, with the question, "how can I adequately express my own truth without undermining anybody else's?"
One lesson that has been tough for me is to learn to become unattached to whether people understand me or not, and to accept other people’s truths even when they are go against mine and have an impact on my own life. And this has certainly been put to the test since I had children. It can be all too easy to control the vulnerable, but how do we balance setting boundaries with giving the child space to be themselves, even when their truths are sometimes so frustrating for us parents? How do we react when other significant figures in their lives treat them in ways that we don't approve of?
It's all about the energy
What I've learnt over time and am only now beginning to really grasp, is that what you say in interactions, while important to make yourself understood, is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the quality of energy you bring to your interactions.
Here are a few ways in which you can be mindful of the energy you're bringing to the interaction:
People respond more to energy than words
Test it for yourself. If you focus more on the energy you are giving an interaction you'll start seeing interesting results. If we express our own truth clearly an compassionately then people sense this, even if it goes against their own truth. We can't change people, just as they can't change us, and we shouldn't try. But, if we are focused on our expressing our truth, while acknowledging someone else's with compassion, the interaction will always be a winning one.
Non - Violent Communication
There's some great work by Marshal Rosenberg on non-violent communication. Of course this way of interaction can be difficult as we have been conditioned otherwise, but with lots of awareness and practice we begin to refine our communication with others and recognise the energetic dynamics in play during interactions.
For tons of information and courses on non-violent communication you can check out either:
The Center for non-violent communication, or
Here are some great videos, which apply the basics of non-violent communication. I'd encourage you to watch all three to get a full picture of what it's about.
Finally, good luck. I applaud you for taking on this exploration. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. Sometimes you may not like what you see, so just go easy. Negative, ego driven interactions with people are not your fault – they are simply a result of your conditioning, so don’t judge yourself. They are, however, your responsibility so keep at it. You’ll be surprised how much better your life will become.
I'd also encourage you to express your own thoughts or questions in the 'comments' section below.
Tolkien stated that his stories, and the world he created for them, were simply 'full of life', and that he intended no specific morals to be gained by the reader.
I absolutely love this perspective. You see, we all can learn from life experiences as well as from reading books, watching movies and listening to music. But are these really morals? Let's explore the difference between a 'moral' and an 'organic life lesson'.
Why is a 'moral' judgemental?
Going through life, we pick up on different things - things that either confirm our perspective, deny or go against it, or add to/alter it in some way. We all have different ways of perceiving life, and what we resonate with will depend on our own 'frequency', our specific vibration.
Where this becomes a 'moral' from my perspective is when this becomes a fixed view point - in essence you have identified with that moral (let it define you) and now you are forcing it into your daily life by never wavering from this perspective. It doesn't matter if you feel to do something alone this time, because you believe that things are always best achieved in co-operation and community.
So, you have formed a judgement - a fixed view point on life, which holds you to a fixed way of being, despite the fact that you, in your essence are not so fixed and neither does life work in that way.
Society's fixation with 'morals' and denial of 'life'
The thing that probably all elderly people get asked at some point, and I must admit I've asked this question too, is 'If you could depart one lesson from your life, what would it be?' To me this shows our thirst for morality, a specific life lesson that we can take and hold on to. Religions are saturated with moral codes - specific guidelines for which to lead our lives in a 'good' way. Even non-religious people often have an unwavering code of ethics.
And this is all very well and good, but can you see how limiting this can be? I put it to you that life is not a fixed pattern, following rules and regulations, but a tapestry of interrelating 'truths' ever changing like a jelly fish, organically moving as one yet pliable and not fixed to one particular shape. I put it to you that life has no moral - life simply experiences life.
How can we learn 'organic life lessons without becoming identified with fixed morals?
For this we have to really know who we are deep down, beyond our body, beyond our emotional triggers, even beyond our fixed thought patterns. We have to know that we are unbound potential, albeit manifesting this in our own unique way. A great way to start is by becoming the Observer of all our feelings and thoughts. Then we can recognise and letting go of old patterns that no longer serve us. This leads to a facilitating of ourselves to find our own aligned expression in each and every moment.
What makes books like 'The Lord of the Rings brim with so much life?
We will still find inspiration from books or movies like 'The Lord of the Rings' or, 'The Little Prince' because they are so full of life. They take the reader into the essence of life, not shying away from the darker sides, but also highlighting the majestic beauty of it, the magic that we can all feel running through our veins. They depict the rich tapestry of life in a raw way that touches us deep inside.
The important thing is that we feel inspiration, which opens us up to greater potential, rather than clinging to fixed morals or lessons which close us down to the pure potential of the moment.
If you want help with realising your potential and embracing life, please Contact Me.
I've just finished reading 'The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair', by Gavin Whyte. It's a lovely short story, a fable if you like, full of life and magic.
It's really an uplifting book, taking you through a myriad of emotions as you follow the boys journey.
Even though, as the book progresses, I had a feeling of how it would end, that didn't stop a tear being shed at the beauty of what happened.
If you're interested in taking a look, you can buy it on Amazon here.
My name is Richard. I love to write, and here you can find my general musings, observations and articles. Enjoy!
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