In heat

Your future lies in the womb of your present. Focus on what you can do NOW. Or that future will turn out to be a ghost pregnancy.

When you wish to change, don’t think about the stuff you don’t want. Your focus is a creative force, so it’s about directing your focus on things you want more of.

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Book recommendations

Women who run with wild wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estés

A return to love – Marianne Williamson

Heart of the soul- Gary zukav

Escape from freedom – Erich Fromm

Art of loving – Erich Fromm

Women, food, God – Geneen Roth

On becoming a person – Carl Rogers

All about love – Bell Hooks

Prisoners of hate – Aaron Beck

Emotionally absent mother – Jasmin lee corri

The intuitive way – Penney Peirce

To be a man – Robert Augustus

Emotional intimacy – Robert Augustus

Sister outsider – Audre Lorde

The modern heroine’s journey of consciousness  – Molly McCord

52 Quotes to live by – Zett Why

The law of divine compensation – Marianne Williamson

Either/or – Søren Kierkegaard

Man and his symbols – C.G. Jung

A hidden wholeness – Parker J. Palmer

Blur –  Bill Kovach, Tom Rosenstiel

Codependency –  Melody Battie

The drama of the gifted child – Alice Miller

The undefeated mind – Alex Lickman

Rising Strong – Brene Brown

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  – Marie Kondo

The courage to create – Rollo May

Constructive wallowing –  Tina Gilbertson

Soulshaping – Jeff Brown 

Between the world and me –                             Ta-nehisi Coates

The enlightened heart – Stephen Mitchell

The dancing Wu Li masters – Gary Zukav

Whilst the world is on hold

For nearly a week now I’ve been off facebook to regain my focus. I felt my energy was scattered all over, and that I had neglected myself. In the time since, I’ve been in a near-constant state of flow where time and space ceased to be. I’ve been devouring books in ways I haven’t in over a decade. Below are some of the books I’ve read (either entirely or partially) this past week:

 

Letters on : Love

Marianne Williamson

People hear you on the level you speak to them from. Speak from your heart, and they will hear with theirs.


 

We must relinquish our passive observation of the world outside; we can open the door to the world we want. In understanding ourselves, we come to understand the world. In allowing ourselves to heal, we become the healers of the world. In praying for peace, we become bringers of peace. Thus we actualize the power within us to remedy the psychic wounds of humanity.


We can’t look to the world to restore our worth; we’re here to restore our worth to the world. The world outside us can reflect our glory, but it cannot create it. It cannot crown us. Only God can crown us, and he already has.


In every community, there is work to be done.
In every nation, there are wounds to heal.
In every heart, there is the power to do it.


 

Spiritual progress is like a detoxification.


 

Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work.


 

Do what you love.
Do what makes your heart sing.
And NEVER do it for the money,
Go to work to spread joy.


 

There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.


 

And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.


 

Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace.


 

Available people are the ones who are dangerous, because they confront us with the possibility of real intimacy.


 

Only write from your own passion, your own truth. That’s the only thing you really know about, and anything else leads you away from the pulse.


 

Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor. Perhaps, in a way, that’s where humanity is now: about to discover we’re not as smart as we thought we were, will be forced by life to surrender our attacks and defenses which avail us of nothing, and finally break through into the collective beauty of who we really are.


 

The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide to learn how to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it.


 

Our self-perception determines our behavior. If we think we’re small, limited, inadequate creatures, then we tend to behave that way, and the energy we radiate reflects those thoughts no matter what we do. If we think we’re magnificent creatures with an infinite abundance of love and power to give, then we tend to behave that way. Once again, the energy around us reflects our state of awareness.


 

Love is a hero’s journey, and the hero’s journey is a noble but difficult path.


 

You playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so others won’t feel insecure around you. As you let your own light shine, you indirectly give others permission to do the same.


 

Thought is Cause; experience is Effect. If you don’t like the effects in your life, you have to change the nature of your thinking.


 

In our ability to think about something differently lies the power to make it different.


 

God has given you your identity, and that cannot be taken away.
God has imbued you with infinite potential, and that cannot be taken away.
God has provided you with the opportunity to change your thinking in an instant, and that cannot be taken away.
God has given you the capacity to love, and that cannot be taken away.
God has entrusted you with the power to live in the light of His abundance in any moment, and that cannot be taken away.


 

The moment that our real “issues” are exposed is simply when two people have the opportunity to go deeper, to explore further, to heal faster, to communicate more sincerely, to be more honest, and to love more truly.


 

Suppression of the Male Identity


I CAN SEE HOW IT’S BEEN VERY HARD FOR men for the last thirty years or so. “No, I don’t need you to open the car door for me.” (Read: “You jerk.”) “No, you are not invited to fix me, you will not be allowed to dominate me, and you better not dare put your feet on either my emotional or my material furniture.” (Read: “In fact, I’ll cut off your you-know-whats if you try.”) “No, I do not appreciate your efforts to make things better, because I’m sure it’s just another of your patriarchal, domineering, chauvinistic plans masquerading as a solution.” (Read: “You realize, of course, that I hate your entire sex.”)

And many of these poor guys got it. They themselves could see the destructiveness of the brutish, shadow side of the male personality, as much as we could—and they wanted to not be that, as much as we wanted to not be around it. Even this shows a desire to please us, at least subconsciously. Ironically, what then developed in them was the same syndrome with which women have been cursed for centuries: “I’ll hide who I really am, so you’ll like me.” And of course, it didn’t work. After we ripped their balls off, we started yelling at them contemptuously, “Why aren’t you a man!?!?”

Many men drew inward, shrinking from their own masculinity out of fear that it might harm someone.In the name of gentleness, but often stemming more from fear than from genuine tenderness, they shrank from their own male greatness. There are few dangers greater than the danger of an unrecognized belief, and the unrecognized belief that masculinity is somehow corrupt, in and of itself, has crippled both men and women for decades.

Some of the best men among us, the souls most equipped to usher in the romance and spirituality of the era now dawning, often acquiesced to the prejudice against powerful males. They withdrew from what they saw as the rat race, as appalled as we were at the violence and greed of white male power in America. As usual, the judgment was a slash to the heart of both judger and the judged. Slowly, silently, and often unconsciously, these men began to mourn the loss of their own vigor and male assertiveness, painfully conflicted about their valid desire and aptitude for material manifestation. They could not obliterate their desire to go, to do, to build empires, to exert power in the world, yet held that desire deep within them like a guilty secret. Having been made to feel wrong, in essence, for the worldly expression of their own masculinity, they attitudinally crouched in a corner, secretly jealous of lesser men.Often, they don’t want to admit it, but they wish that they had made more money. They don’t want to admit it, but they wish now that they did have a worldly empire. They don’t want to admit it, but they feel embarrassed that they don’t have the means to do certain things in the material world.
All this can be corrected, of course, as soon as they recognize where they judged a certain trait, thus suppressing their own power to personify it. Forgiveness is the key to healing absolutely everything. What we judge in others, we deny ourselves. What we are willing to bless in others, we will allow ourselves. Judging a trait, even suppressing it, does not transform it.

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Mindfulness in a Maelstrom of Madness

Books like ‘ The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, have broken me and served as a source of immense pain. I read them at a time of profound trauma and desperation, looking for a sliver of hope and though the principles in these self-help books are good-natured, they are extremely harmful to someone who hasn’t gained enough emotional awareness and healing to be able to discriminate. These books would basically instruct me to pull myself up by the boot strings, to avoid sinking by simply swimming, by shunning negative thoughts by pure willpower. And I tried so hard. I trusted these authors and their knowledge, so I gave myself to the instructions wholeheartedly and I put all my eggs in one basket by thinking that this book would be it. After I’m done reading these 200 odd pages, I’d be done with this pain. That’s what these authors basically say; I’m an expert, listen to how I found profound wisdom, follow my instructions and for the low price of $14.99 you’ll be healed.

You’ll be healed. Passive voice.

Not, here’s how you can heal yourself.

Needless to say, I failed miserably. Or rather they failed me by being selective in what they taught. I understand they do so to make a name for themselves and a brand to generate money, so if they simply give away the things that helped them, that would make them lose out.

Two things happened:

1. I tried so very hard to apply the practices and instructions which was akin to carrying out surgery on myself after reading a book on it. I was dealing with very serious mental disorders; chronic PTSD,anxiety,major depression, bipolar II – and some of the trauma that contributed to these ailments happened before puberty, so they were very complex and very sensitive. This was not a work for self-help, I needed professional help and medication. I had no idea. I was 18 or 19 at the time and I was driven by a need to do something. And although I eventually managed to find the right route, I can only imagine how many are stuck. There aren’t disclaimers or warnings to provide a leeway for second chances; if someone finds it incredibly difficult to apply these generic and simplistic three-step instructions, at least they could save a part of themselves by using the disclaimer as a cop-out. I stirred emotional pain and I only made it worse. It was like I tried to run on a broken foot.

2. Because I had put all my hope in one book, one can only imagine how devastated and shattered I was to reach the back cover feeling worse than I did before I started reading the book. My feelings of incompetence and worthlessness was tacitly confirmed by the book. It purported to have worked for countless of people, so the fault must lay within me. It felt like my life was a catch-22. I was stuck and to be unstuck I had to get unstuck. Makes no sense right? It plunged me deeper into a dark abyss of depression and suicidal thoughts. I had no hope left to live for.

Thankfully, I’d bounce back on the very verge and try again. And fail. And become devastated. And bounce back once again and again…and here I am writing this, 7 years later. I honestly don’t know how I got out. Alhamdulillaah 

Turns out, I’m not the only person who noticed this huge farce; Mark Manson wrote an incredibly relieving piece on the self-help industry and what’s fundamentally wrong with it;

 


So, Mindfulness?

 

The premise of self-help is this; You feel bad. You should feel happy. Negative feelings are bad. Positive feelings are happiness. Here’s how to make negative feelings go away.Forever. And ever.

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Yes, really. We view ‘negative’ feelings as inherently bad and something to be eliminated, but by adopting this polarized approach, we’re missing the point completely. We assume that the problem lies in the uncomfortable effects of negativity, but in reality the negative feelings are markers for an underlying problem; they are symptoms and not the disorder, if I may say so, itself. So, however uncomfortable it is to accept, the only way is through.

Negative feelings are essentially emotional pain and like physical pain, it signals that something’s amiss and needs your attention. This is where mindfulness comes in.

mindfullln

 

Don’t think about the past. Don’t think about the future. ONLY think about the now. While you’re at it, why don’t you tell me to not die by thinking about not dying. Or how about saving a drowning person by saying; don’t sink! Swim!

As is apparent from my biting sarcasm, I’ve had trouble getting my head around understanding mindfulness. I feel it’s a promising concept, but the plethora of definitions out there, some contradictory, don’t help at all. So, I decided to go down my own path and find out for myself just what mindfulness is and why we should be present in the, well, present.

I found the imperative question that is not being asked is; Why are we focused on the future/past/social media/cat videos/partying/addictions, basically on everything but the thing that requires our attention at any given moment? And why do some manage to be mindful more so than others?


Emotional Awareness

 

When something is troubling us and we fail to find an answer to alleviate the pain, we take to escapism to save ourselves. It’s a vital defense mechanism aimed at keeping our sanity intact. So we become distracted, or addicted, or performance and success-obsessed. Anything to flee the scary feelings we fail to decipher. This has many layers to it, but to gain mindfulness, you’d have to reverse the process by finding out what commands your attention and what’s chasing you away. It’s only by removing this obstacle and overcoming the fear in tolerating distressful emotions that one can make their way back to the core; to the present.

If you observe children, you’ll discern that their naïvety and cheerfulness comes from the mindfulness in their souls. They have no worries and the entire world is a big playground. This is assuming they have secure attachment to their parents and are brought up in a safe and loving environment. In the cases where a child is made to suffer through emotional abuse or neglect, or even physical abuse, the stark contrast in the child’s demeanour from that of the healthy child betrays a sense that something’s wrong . They are withdrawn or they are violent and cruel; their mindfulness has been displaced by a disruption to their world as they knew it, and by knowing terror far too young.

Likewise, if you’ve ever been in a state of flow or immersed in something you’re truly passionate about, you find time and space fading as you are consumed by the activity at hand. You are alert and emotionally aware, at that point. You are in your skin and soul, not wandering about like you’re lost or running from something.

When you’re emotionally aware, you are detached from your thoughts and the events that occur around you, and you do so from the comfort of being in yourself, feeling safe within your being.You accept all facets of yourself.

As you might guess, it’s a life-long journey within towards becoming mindful. But it’s a journey you’ll find the benefits of immediately.


Q• U •O •T •E• S

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
― Ralph Ellison

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung

“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
― Michel de Montaigne

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu

“The person in life that you will always be with the most, is yourself. Because even when you are with others, you are still with yourself, too! When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself, laying in bed at night you are with yourself, walking down the street in the sunlight you are with yourself.What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it’s your responsibility to be that person you want to be with. I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be.”
― C. JoyBell C.

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”
― Marianne Williamson

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
― Pema Chödrön,

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
― Carl R. Rogers

“Each man had only one genuine vocation – to find the way to himself….His task was to discover his own destiny – not an arbitrary one – and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one’s own inwardness.”
― Hermann Hesse

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
— Anne Lamott

 

 

To live you must die

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I watched an interview with Common who won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song Glory as he recounted some memorable moments in shooting the movie Selma which centres on the civil rights movement, spearheaded by Dr. King and he mentioned that Ambassador Andrew Young spoke to the actors on the first day of rehearsal. Young made a potent statement that jolted Common awake; said Young; ‘Their [ civil rights activist ] philosophy was; What are you willing to die for? Live for that.’  Common continues; . “These people were willing to die for freedom and voting rights, so they lived for that. Each day was put to that.”

 

It shocked me, the way it did Common and it made me re-think my life; what was I willing to die for? Did I even have anything I was willing to die for? The answer I found sent shivers down my spine.

I was willing to die for comfort. I am willing to die for being sheltered from pain and fears. And surely, my life reflects that.

Death is the ultimate fear. Life is the ultimate sacrifice. So these are the parameters that I have to contend with in defining my life. I let past tragedies and traumas distort those parameters and I did die; I sacrificed my life to fear, begging it to leave me alone. In turn, my passion, the fire of my soul, died down.

Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.
= Benjamin Franklin=

Indeed, I let a life of safety and comfort fool me into thinking that because the pain was now dull and not sharp, as it had been before , that it was absent. But it simply slowed down a notch or two, and it was eating away at me whilst I did nothing.

It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.
= Marianne Williamson =

When I want to face something I’m really scared of like telling someone a painful truth or being vulnerable with another, I ask myself what the worst thing that could happen was, and I prepare to face that worst-case scenario. The fear immediately vanishes in the absence of doubt.

Perhaps I should extend that to the bigger obstacles I face and try so hard to avoid; what’s the worst that pain can do to me? What’s the worst missing out on something I desire could do to me? What’s the worst the boogeyman in the closet can do to me? 😛

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
= Eleanor Roosevelt =

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