How Do We Find Happiness? Feb 20, 2016
I was recently asked this and I would suggest that we don’t really “find” happiness, rather we create it. Further, it is created on many different levels.
Priceless Solitude Jan 24, 2016
I am a complete and utter extrovert and I spent the first part of my life avoiding solitude (unless I managed to get my hands on a riveting book) and chasing social contact - wherever, whenever and however I could find it. I was fairly undiscerning and I wasted enormous amounts of time and energy trying to fit in with, and gain the acceptance of, people with whom I should never have given more than a passing glance.
Then my husband of 20 years died suddenly and all of a sudden my greatest fears were foisted upon me. All of my friends were happily coupled, and it was all very awkward and inconvenient. I no longer fit their social patterns and I quickly realized I was, for the first time in my life, truly alone.
This is what I have learned after 10 years of aloneness:
a) That my experience of solitude is determined purely by the narrative that I create in my own head. We are all well versed in the customary social commentary that not only repeatedly describes being alone as “sad and lonely,” but that the two states of being are synonymous. We have been so brainwashed into believing that no one would actually ever choose to be alone if we have options. It is assumed we are alone because we are rejected, unwanted, undesirable. I came to see that the very same set of circumstances could either be filled with misery and dissatisfaction or they could be the source of joy and peace. It all turns on which thoughts I choose to entertain about my situation.
b) It is easier to live more truly free when we are alone. To be totally and authentically free, we must be liberated from the pressures and expectations, as well as the words, deeds and behavior of others. This is particularly pertinent for those who have what Oprah calls the “pleasing disease,” or we naturally give too much weight to others’ opinions, demands or desires. For women like me, the dominant masculine culture ensured that it took decades of adult experience to finally discover the work I wanted to do (when I first entered the workforce after college I endured six long years in a job I hated just to keep a man happy), how I like to vacation, the music I like to listen to and when I like to listen to it, when and how I sleep, and what movies and books I now know to avoid. I spent so much time eating food I didn’t like, enduring jokes I didn’t find funny and conversations I found boring, wearing clothes based on other people’s taste, but most importantly, tamping down aspects of my personality so that others would not be threatened or made uncomfortable.
Of course we cannot remain permanently alone. We are social beings, and one of the fundamentals of this life is that we need to learn many of our life lessons through relationship with others. But once we have worked out who we are, what we like, where we want to go and how we want to get there, our relationships become so much more rewarding, satisfying and enjoyable largely because we have learnt how to set the boundaries in the relationship that not only protect us but also enable greater, and more enduring peace, harmony and growth of the relationship.
c) True creativity and inspiration visit when we are alone. Creativity requires that we have plenty of time to exercise, read, sleep, and therefore dream, ponder and daydream, to meditate and be in silence, to experiment and play, and finally, just be. It is only when we are alone that we can be silent long enough to allow the new and “big” ideas of our creativity to drop into our consciousness. We need significant periods of solitude to silence the constant chatter of our left brains (which enables us to survive in the practical world) and give precedence to our right brain, which enables us to tap into the ideas that are bigger than the sum of our experiences. We need these “big” ideas if we are to transform the universal experience into our own unique and original creations.
When we are no longer afraid to be alone, a whole new world becomes available to us.
The Quest for Meaning Aug 24, 2015
“What is the Point of Life?” – I was recently asked this question and the quote of Niels Bohr came immediately to mind: “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” This is equally true of the true nature of life. Life, beneath the surface, is truly shocking.
How do we live the most fulfilling life? Jul 28, 2015
Probably the most important factor in achieving a fulfilling life is knowing who we truly are, knowing our own truth and desire. This is the essence of who we are, what we want to do and be in life, regardless of what we have been raised to believe about ourselves, and despite what others (especially those we give our power to, those we admire and look to as role models) are saying and doing around us.
The Secret of the Universe May 14, 2015
Mystics tell us the secret to life is choice. To understand this, though, we must have a level of understanding of the dual nature of life. This duality exists so that we have things to choose between but it creates a paradox because what seems real and substantial is a result of projection. What seems real is illusory, and what seems unreal is truth. Reality exists at the source, not the effect, of life, at the non-physical level where all life originates.
When people express their thoughts and feelings in ways that hurt others it is often said this is not rudeness, it is honesty. However, honesty is an attribute of truth and truth is synonymous with love. Being rude never has anything to do with honesty.
Why do super-rich people want to get richer? Apr 8, 2015
For over a decade Dr Phil has been trying to tell us that money problems are not about money, and thus, they cannot be solved with more money. This is because it is not the lack of money itself that is the problem, it is the sense of lack itself. This feeling of lack exists in all areas of our life, but for many of us, it is in our financial lives where we feel it the most. Almost everyone, regardless of their financial situation, lives with scarcity as an underlying and fundamental belief about life, which diminishes all dealings with money into expressions of fear.
Bottomless Pits of Love Mar 30, 2015
One of the significant relationships in my life was what you might call a bottomless pit of love. No matter how much I loved, admired, supported, cherished, or encouraged this loved one, it was never enough. Never enough for them to feel loved, or lovable, or to get them to love me back. In the face of my outpouring of constant, unshakeable love, all I mostly received in return was indifference, dishonesty and disloyalty. I know now that this person’s self-hatred was so deep, and so entrenched, that my love would never, and could never, be enough.
Without God, Would Sin Disappear? Mar 15, 2015
Sin is not a notion of God, it is a construction of the church. Eastern wisdom certainly does not have the same obsession with sin as the western church, and for good reason. Sin was a useful tool for the church to keep its adherents afraid and and therefore controllable. As we are becoming more able to accept broader understandings of reality and spirituality, beyond the narrow and self-serving interpretations of the church, we will see the idea of sin naturally disappear from social, philosophical and theological discourse.
Why are people so afraid of intimacy? Mar 15, 2015
Intimacy requires two crucial elements, honesty and selflessness, both of which take effort, awareness, and a degree of loss. For this reason we are often not prepared to do the work of intimacy, it requires too much of us, so we try to get away with artificial substitutes, that usually end in tears.
I was recently asked this question. It reminded me of a talk by the popular writer/speaker, who goes by the name SARK, who told of the time when she had booked a driver to take her to the airport. He arrived quite late and so by the time the driver arrived she was so annoyed and agitated that she confronted the driver. He denied being late so things got pretty tense between them.
A Spiritual Kick-Start Feb 27, 2015
My yoga teacher says that the whole yoga class can be distilled into one position: downward dog. Equally, my gym instructor says that all the benefits of a core workout can be achieved just by holding low plank, or prone position. This is good to know. We don’t have to feel bad when we can’t make it to the yoga studio or to the gym, we can get most of the advantages of our practice wherever we are.
This question is often asked. Here are some ideas:
What is the meaning of life? Jan 7, 2015
This question is often asked and, firstly, we should always be skeptical of anyone who says they have answers to the big questions. There is so much that is not known about the entirety of “Life” while we occupy, and are constrained by, the perspective of the small and limited realm of human life. No one who walks this earth has full and complete access to the wisdom of the Universe.
Christmas Light Dec 23, 2014
Walking the boulevard by the sea in Santa Cruz, California, this week not only was my path delightfully brightened by the Christmas lights on the houses I passed, even the cyclists had decked out their bicycles with lights, their wheels spinning a brightly colored whirl. My son, who works in the midwest, says the normally very masculine, engineering types at his company have all pimped out their electric buggy rides, used to drive around the corporate complex, with Christmas lights to the max.