It’s Been Awhile…. ( on curveballs and life)

Well it’s been over a year since I last wrote a post and what a year it’s been ( well two years actually). Just when you think you’re getting a handle on things, life throws you a curveball or several in my case. To name a few

– Suffering burnout from work and subsequently anxiety and depression.

– My mother developing cancer

– My eldest son bring beaten up and getting his skull fractured

– Financial difficulties due to a lack of a decent pay rise in ten years

– Being newly diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Anyone who has read my blog knows at heart I’m a spiritual type of guy, so as you can imagine my life has thrown up some pertinent questions.

Generally my standpoint in life is many things happen for a reason, even though that may not be clear at the time. I do however feel that I have actually learnt something from the pain and anguish.

I have spent far too much energy and effort filling time with unnecessary but pleasantly distracting activities because I felt that I did not have the recourse for other, more meaningful ones. Such things as social media, popping into coffee shops or simply getting stuck in some form of behaviour which prevented me being alone with myself. The behaviour provided an excuse to not really confront the real issues which were present in my soul. They made me comfortable but not whole.

I currently have Covid so any sort of external activity has stopped and I have been left with little else to do but dig deeper into myself for answers. I have come to appreciate again those things in life that are most precious.

– the searing, flame ridden sunsets

– the majesty of birds and insects going about their daily lives

– the verdant, foliage ridden valleys blossoming in the Summer sun

– the primordial peace one can find when in the depths of the forest or by the ocean.

All this, when experienced calls to my eternal soul. I know that I have been witness to these events since time began. Every moment of our lives is a blessing and pregnant with magic and wonder if only we had eyes to see.

Obviously these experiences do not change difficult circumstances but they do however offer a different perspective. One of appreciation and love rather than stress and self pity.

So yes, I believe my recent problems have led me to begin again. To once more become of the world ( not just in it) and suitably humble. I am surely grateful.

Mental Health…..?

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
― J. Krishnamurti

I love this quote❤️
It’s quite simple in its sentiments but at the same time has far reaching implications when looked at in its broadest sense.
Although I don’t feel society is profoundly sick in its worse sense, it seems at the very least misguided. I know that many people have no issues with the way they live their lives and the societal environment within which they do so .
However myself and many other ‘sensitive’ / empathic individuals, from the conversations I have had, do indeed struggle.

We are after all acutely aware of the suffering of others, animals and even our planet.
We can pick up on subtle energies around us to the point of psychicism at times.
Our sensitivity heightens our perception and reaction to injustice, violence or abuse of any kind and generally and we are warm, caring and selfless as our predisposition could not allow us to be anything other.

This degree of sensitivity can effect us in many ways, not least of which our mental health.
The media constantly bombards society with high impact imagery in the form of soundbite adverts, movies, music and other information. Many people seem completely unaffected by this and in many cases seek it out and avidly share viewpoints on the gorier details of programmes or the news etc.
The promotion of the individual and the gathering of material wealth runs through the whole of western society, even seemingly at the expense of others in terms of one upmanship.
The reporting and treatment of others portrayed as outside our remit of concern ( that is those whom are of a different ethnicity / culture / country or social class) can be biased and punitive.
With many of our peers, friends and colleagues being of a not dissimilar mindset, this can leave us feeling isolated and unsupported.

Therefore it is no surprise that many of us succumb to mental health difficulties. In fact it would probably be more surprising if we didn’t!
Personally I suspect many people in todays society feel similar but possibly to a lesser degree.

Being empathic, for me is a spiritual gift. Whereas seemingly with the majority of the populace, spirituality plays little or no part.

” Modern society came into existence during the industrial revolution, when large portions of the population were driven from small towns into big cities in search of work and opportunity – instigating the birth of a mass society. While the development of a mass society generated benefits through the intensification of the division of labor, it also brought perilous problems. “This new form of existence…produced an individual who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible.” (Carl Jung, The Fight With the Shadow)

Perhaps the way the western world has subsequently developed is an artificial antidote to a factitious malady.
Maybe empathic / sensitive individuals have somehow remained unaffected by societys current burgeoning ideologues hence wishing for a simpler, more heartfelt existence.

Saving the World…….?

For some reason I seem to be a kind of ‘save the world’ type of person. There are probably many reasons for this i.e. I’m an INFP if you believe in the Myerrs Briggs analogies or perhaps I am really trying to save myself to take on a more analytic concept. Whatever the reason why doesn’t matter as I know my intention is heartfelt.
So I wake up every morning to yet again be confronted with society’s worst crimes, both against each other and the planet.
And then I have to figure out why, as is my nature.
In my career in mental health I have come across probably thousands of individuals with a huge variety of issues and they have taught me more about mankind than any book.

The steepest learning curve were to be found when I worked in secure units in forensic psychiatry. For those unfamiliar with the term, these are specialist units set up to deal with mentally disordered offenders who have committed crimes including murder and every other crime one can think of. These people have largely come from dysfunctional and abusive backgrounds and to be frank it is unsurprising that their lives took such a turn.
Although this is the extreme end of the spectrum, the problems albeit different by degree, are similar throughout human behaviour.

The average person in Western society seems to have very little understanding of their own and others inherent psychology.
Carl Jung stated
” We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real
danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger, and we are
pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche
should be studied, because we are the origin of all coming evil.
(Jung 1977 : 436).
He also frequently mentions the ‘shadow’ “which is a term he used to describe the unconscious which contain the more crude and baser elements of our psyche.

Though evidently man’s inhumanity to each other and other species is multifactorial, education would at least impart a possible degree of awareness as to regards ours and others actions in the world.
Perhaps a start would be to teach psychology at school along with the other sciences as it still seems to be percieved as a Cinderella subject. However nothing could be further from the truth.
In today’s society, more than ever, it would be highly beneficial for all to understand psychological phenomena like transference, projection, reaction formation etc. It would enable us as a society to see where destructive behaviours in ourselves and others emanate from.

Unfortunately numerous groups know how to manipulate human mentality.
Many people believe other races, cultures or even those of different ideologies as ‘less than human’
( as they may feel threatened in some way) and thus dispensible.
These groups can often whip up support by appealing to racist or nationalist prejudices. By doing this, in analytical terms, they are appealing to our injured selves and to its associated narcissistic rage. Again this would more than likely be unconscious in most individuals

Thus unless we as a society somehow address our cultural blindness to the ways of the human psyche, I fear the unconscious aspects of our minds will continue be enacted in the outside world in the form of interpersonal violence, wars, racism et al.

Neither Kith nor Kin

It’s strange that in this day and age ( in my humble opinion ) there seems so few people with an inclination to the spiritual. I mean with the accessibility to social media and thus new ideas one would have thought more would have been attracted to the topic.

For myself I know of no one in my circles who have the vaguest interest or understanding outside of their everyday existence. I often feel it would be nice to share a mutual exploration of viewpoints with someone but other than via the Internet there is no one person with whom I can involve.

Perhaps though this is the lesson. After all it is frequently stated that the way to understanding is an inward journey. It would still have been nice though to share the journey. ❤️

And the Shell Crack’d……

Sitting alone in his darkened lounge he sat with his head in his hands. It was early evening but already the days occurrences were weighing heavy on his heart. His life over the last few months had become a veritable tsunami of stress, relentless in its persistency and in its increasing escalation of painful situations.
He had begun to wonder if in some way he had contributed to his own suffering though he could not imagine how.

It was, on occasions, difficult enough to be an empath. Seeing as he did into individuals souls and feeling their pain and their suffering both historically and currently. More often than not he would try and help them in ways that were none intrusive but more by giving them a safe space to verbalise their thoughts and reach their own conclusions.

But now he knew he had barely enough strength for himself let alone others.
He felt vague currents of anxiety start to set in, in both his mind and body. He so wished he could be saved. Rescued from the edge of this towering precipice above a black pit of annihilation. However it was never going to be that easy, never was.

Then suddenly it felt as if his mind broke. All the thoughts and emotions that had been building inside of him burst forth from the finite confines of his ego and out into the world.
Nothing particularly physically or behaviourally were to be observed to suggest any internal change had occurred.
However cognitively and emotionally his inner landscape had changed dramatically.
He felt himself to be outside of himself looking in. Floods of compassion swept over him for this man and his burden. But the compassion did not stop there. It flooded out towards the whole of humanity and the Earth’s flora and fauna.

It dawned on him that actually, at the end of the day, we are all one. Though our senses and speech suggest otherwise, this was indeed not the case. That every living beings pain and ecstacy are irrevocably caught up with everyone and everything else.
For some reason his suffering could not be alleviated by logic or therapy. The often seemingly impossible task of maintaining a semblance of sanity and a will to continue could only be guaranteed through a breakthrough of sorts.

He noted that he no longer felt alone.
He was indeed as much a part of this world as the mountains and lakes, as the animals and the birds, as the clouds and the soil.

A quote came to mind. A long time ago he remembered that a gentleman called Carl Jung allegedly stated that there is no coming to consciousness without pain.
This he now understood.

A Light in the Black?

A Light in the Black?… ( Empath reflections part two)

Seemingly he could no longer reliably depend on external information resources as a basis to understand the world and what was actually happening. Bias and agenda’s, both hidden and not, infiltrated newspapers and the media wherever he looked. Ten to twenty years ago this did not seem to be the case. Sure there was always some skullduggery going on but many news sources could be relied on to give a more objective account or at least, one knew of their bias.
Not so nowadays. There seemed to be so much false information around that individuals can pick and choose what they want to believe and find rhetoric to support it.
Whereas historically many people used social media and other resources to express their individual and unique experiences / understandings on issues, this no longer seems the case.
These days one can find a polarising influence i.e. a setting of one aspect of society against another. Opposing views are encouraged and promoted to the extreme, encouraging vitriolic exchanges between parties.
He had noted that these attitudes and ideas were now much more common in everyday society. Conversations overheard in cafe’s, restaurants and bars seemed to contain the same content as encouraged in media outlets.
So, what has actually changed over the last twenty or so years?
He decided to write down objectively ( as best he could ) what he had witnessed with his own two eyes ).

  • increased homelessness
  • less or lack of an ability of the under privileged or disabled to access appropriate benefits
  • increase in race related crime
  • increase in acts of random violence ( and increase in severity )
  • the gradual breakdown of the family unit and supportive social networks in the comminity
  • the rise of politicians and celebrities whose main claim to fame is overwhelming egocenticity. Many of these individuals are openly racist, bigoted and self serving. There views voiced with impunity
  • an increase in mental health problems in the young on an unprecedented scale.

The list goes on.
What’s all this to do with spirituality or empathy one may ask? Everything he believed.
Carl Jung may have got it right he thought. These occurrences and behaviour were very much a shadow aspect to people’s personalities and so easily encouraged in those whom were unaware.
The unconscious ability to project one’s unacceptable feelings on to others, be them individuals or minority sections of society.

So what could he do if anything, he thought?
As an empathic individual such angst caused him to feel stressed and overwhelmed. A large part of him wanted to hide away from society and preserve some degree of sanity.
But he knew that would be pointless. He would still be able to ‘feel’ what was happening in the outside world. He would still hear silent cries of the hurt and wounded.
His resolve therefore was to carry on as he had been doing. After all there was still some goodness in people. There were after all individuals not that dissimilar to himself.
Through small acts of kindness and positive / supportive action he would act to counter balance what he perceived to be the trend.

Living the Paradox……..

The subtle ochre and aureate shades of the Autumn leaves in the pale sunshine of fall,

The chill air of a new morning brushing against my exposed flesh, as if baptising my body ready for the day,

The tumultuos grey waves of the ocean as they throw themselves angrily at the granite cliffs,

The raging storm filling the sky with heavy leaden clouds, the flashes of steely lightening turning my surroundings into a monochromatic vista.

The look of tender and all consuming love on a mother’s face as she holds her newborn close,

The wide eyed, open vulnerability of the many sentient animals who look to us for protection and sustenance,

The gentle loving touch of a loved one in an hour of need,

The fierce fire of compassion in the hearts of those who fight for the vulnerable.

The beauty and eloquence of this life is there for all who have the eyes to see.

However many of us are not blind to the pain implicit in life’s journey.

It has been said that there can be little appreciation of life’s highs without having experiencing the lower aspects of existence.

The corporate greed often at the expense of the individual,

The ego driven, divisive rhetoric of those who would have us follow,

The angry, vitriolic voices driving human lives to war,

The homeless, the abused and the lonely.

Those of us who truly have an empathic / spiritually inclined disposition can find this polarity of life challenging and confusing,

How is it possible that all these things can co-exist when they all contain the same implicit ingredients?

The call to those of us who are to heal can overwhelming.

As much as we wish to bring a quick and enduring end to suffering, we have only recourse to our finite resources.

This is when we need to remind ourselves that many small acts of kindness can bring about change. Cumulatively it can create a shift.

We can see it happening now with the challenging of investment in climate damaging activities and with society’s renewed interest in spiritual practices like yoga and meditation.

The simple act of a warm smile to a passing stranger, a gesture of compassion to the homeless, a comforting touch to the bereaved or the simple giving of time to those who need to be heard.

All these can make life just that little more bearable for those in need.

It may even save a life.

To The Warriors…..

A toast offered to those silent warriors in this world ( you know who you are) whose every action is a considered one.
Those bodhisattva like individuals who seemingly exist for the sole purpose for the furtherment of other souls.
For they see the bigger picture.
The impermanence of life and yet the interconnectedness of all of existence, both seen and unseen.
The ones who :
– walk carefully upon the Earth with the intention of not harming the the smallest of creatures
– unbeknownst to others send love and blessings to those in need
– interact with the wounded with eyes and actions of empathic love
– secretly rejoice in the riches that life bestows on them in the form Nature in all her guises
– will eternally until their dying breath act and voice their truth in the name compassion.

Though many days may end with their armour dented and their hearts heavy from the service of love, will again rise to resume the fight again. For they are driven by a force outside of themselves which cannot be denied. It seems to be the reason for their existence and to deny it would go contrary to Nature and spirit.
So I offer a toast to those of you who fight and suffer in silence, to your benevolent soul and your eternal resolve.

With Impunity?

I believe that Man has largely yet to understand that in whatever activity he cannot ever act with impunity. For whatsoever he does to himself, he does to others. And what he does to others, he likewise does to himself. For at the lowest quantum strata we are and never have been separate from each other, or indeed from any one thing perceived. Be it the grass underfoot, the air that we breathe or the mountains and forests with all the wildlife therein that adorn our planet.
To realise this in one’s very heart can free us from our personal drama. Whatsoever then befalls us in life will never again be seen as either as good or bad, for it would never again be personal. It would be seen simply as part of the great unfolding of life of which all and everyone are inextricably linked.

pjwatkiss.

Motes in the Wind

Is it really only me?

Am I the only one who stops to stand and stare.

Sitting outside the cafe in the chill Autumn air, I watch the city life hum around me.

It’s almost as if no-one else is conscious, the pavements and roads teem with purposeful human activity. Again I find myself on the outside looking in.

So many people, so many stories. All apparently oblivious to each other as each individual seeks to fulfill their own worldly goals.

The suited businessman walking briskly whilst negotiating with a colleague on his mobile phone. Locked in to his work as a small cog is into a machine.

The young male adolescent in the hoodie on the street corner. His almost translucent skin, drawn eyes and scrawny frame hold testament to a life given to avoiding traumatic memories. A life of numbing his still raw hurt by the use of anything that even slightly dampens his pain.

The tired, drawn looking waitress busying herself with the neverending flow of serving and cleaning. Working her life away twelve hours a day to provide a still meagre material existence.

The thirty something female feigning lasciviousnesss outside a half seen doorway. She tries to catch the eye of any passing male willing to exchange money for sharing a fleeting moment of physical intimacy. Her eyes once warm and sensitive now as hard as her heart had become through years of being a passive recipient of what life had to offer.
I feel a heaviness in my heart as I watch these individuals go about their day. It is said that we are all on our own path, myself included. Certainly, I sincerely hope that everyone finds their peace but it is difficult to imagine when people live their lives in such a way.

There can be no judgement of them as I feel we all are, in some way, a product of our genetic predilections and our personal history. Like seeds cast to the wind, we grow where we find ourselves. Some souls will flourish amongst familial unconditional love and attention and some will starve.

The less fortunate may be subject to the opposite. Low self esteem and feelings of worthlessness can infiltrate ones being when raised in an emotional desert.

This often carries on into adult life, shaping personalities and whole lifetimes.
My sadness comes from knowing that this could have easily been so different.

Every human soul is valuable, everyone has a spiritual spark inside of them no matter how overlaid with pain and anguish.

I have to resign myself to only being able to do my small part amidst this world. I simply hope that whatsoever my actions in my day to day existence go a little way towards making the world a better place for others.