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.

Born Again…….?

 

The life journey is full of twists and turns, some expected and some not at all so.
Many people see the world through a very black and white perspective, that is to say their thinking is linear and unquestioned by themselves. If one does this ( e.g not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes ) then that will happen ( live a healthy life). If a person is a moral and loving individual then little or no harm will come to them.
That however has never been my experience
Beginning life from a relatively humble working class family, a son of a coal miner with average schooling, I have lived and learned a myriad of experiences, for example:

– Advaitic and kundalini type episodes ( I didn’t know what they were at the time)
– Seeing and communicating with spiritual manifestations
– A general heightened awareness of the energies around me.
There were also others which I will omit for the sake of space.

Also throughout my life I have been ‘diagnosed’ as having mental health issues. I would like to share my most recent experience as I feel it is rather anomalous by its character.
( NB I do not in anyway advocate that individuals neglect their medical practitioners advice re treatment for mental health issues as this can on occasions have very serious consequences ).

Over the last few decades I have been, on occasions, prescribed antidepressant medication because of my psychological responses to some of the more severe of life’s stresses. This includes the last few years, however recently due to stressful external circumstances it appeared that I was relapsing so my doctor made the decision to change my medication. This involved reducing my current ones to the bare minimum before starting my new prescription. As you may imagine, this was a little terrifying. I was already apparently unwell and now had to reduce my medication over a month. So I kind of braced myself to undergo a tumultuous and potentially paralysing emotional rocket ride.

Now here I am a few months later completely medication free 😊
Obviously this wasn’t the original plan but I found that as I reduced my tablets, my symptoms improved.
Not only that but I am generally less stressed, more grounded, able to feel my actual emotions (as opposed to my much muted previous ones) and more able to appreciate the more aesthetic aspects of life.
I now remember what it’s like to be my variation of ‘normal’.
Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t a bed of roses and there are still many stressful situations but I can deal with them more lucidly and objectively than previously.

Throughout my life I have found myself at odds with many aspects of Western Society namely:
– exploitation of the Earth’s flora and fauna
– the promotion of ego centred behaviour of individuals via the media
– the glorification of material possession

to name but a few.
Subsequently I believe that it’s no wonder myself and many others may suffer from ‘mental health’ issues.

As Jiddu Krishnamurti stated :
” It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society “.

A Bit About the World and Me…….

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.

Wanderlust

It seems that my wanderlust has returned yet again. I’m no stranger to such feelings however, they frequent many times a year but never so powerful as when Autumn approaches.
The increasingly golden sunsets, the chill evening breeze hinting at the soon to be arrival of cooler weather.
The iridescent foliage of the trees and bushes as each becomes more vibrant in colour, accentuated further by the aureate sunlight as it shimmers through the leaves.

My heart aches to spend time alone in the parting dusk of Summer, not wanting to miss a single ethereal moment of the subtle changes now manifest in Nature. Out amongst the woods and forests, in the groves overgrown by bracken and silently watching a gossamer spectral mist arise slowly from the lakes.

It’s at times like this that I could so easily walk away from this fettered life of supposed domesticity with its alleged comfort and security. Following my souls primal call to be amongst Nature herself.
The urge as irresistible as a mermaids song, gentle and hypnotic but relentlessly demanding of the union of myself with Gaia.

I would gladly leave the demands of modern societys day to day machinations. The nine to five daily sacrifice of eight unredeemable hours in order to pay faceless companies for ‘necessities’ to which I have been socialised to accept as normal living.

Instead I would stroll in silence, through the long grass of the meadows and the copses of huddled trees, save for primordial sounds of birdsong and the gentle babble of nearby brooks.
To eventually lose any remnant of my human self, no longer able to distinguish where myself and the rest of creation were either to begin or end.

Adventures in Empathy…………?

Having awoken I go through my usual morning routine.
Strong , hot coffee with the usual breakfast cigarette sitting on the decking looking out onto my ramshackle garden.
Providing my dream time has not been excessively infiltrated by seemingly high definition, Kafkaesque imagery my mind usually starts the day in a kind of tabula rasa modality. That is to say ‘not a lot going on’.
Taking in the dank,early morning air my mind gradually fills with a mixture of recent memories, vague plans for the day an reflections on recently read articles that have instilled in me a sense of intrigue.
These thoughts start off innocuous enough.
– An excerpt from an interview with Carl Jung where he discusses the tendencies of intuitive introverts which seems to me a pretty accurate description of an empath
– A recollection of yesterdays evening walk around a nearby ancient hillfort as the Sun was setting on the horizon. Searing sunlight blazing ochre behind the clouds redolent of seams of lava breaking through the Earth
– A mentally sketched plan to get out and do a little photography hoping to catch some images of Summers tentative withdrawal making way for the initial tendrils of Autumn subtly tinging Natures landscapes.

Returning to the kitchen I remember that I’m nearly out of coffee.
I carefully consider as to whether my need for further caffeine outways my apprehension of walking to the local shop and getting involved in the outside world so early in the day. Having donned sunglasses and a thin cotton hoodie I deem that the need for coffee is greater.
Walking out on to the street I realise that I was perhaps a little unprepared for the subsequent inundation of stimuli from the outside world.
– The roar of car engines as certain drivers manifest their ire and frustration in the manner of their driving
– A radio station on high volume from a closely parked car carries the news of abject suffering of women and children in a not so far away land ( my heart withers slightly on hearing this )
– A father roughly pulls his child by the arm and loudly berates him in front of commuters, the child’s only sin being that he is a child, full of energy, intrigue and playfulness. I know the child feels pained , vulnerable and hurting but still looks at his father in unwavering love
– An elderly lady hobbles precariously just ahead of me. As I pass I smell the odour of stale alcohol from her. Her rheumy eyes seemingly out of focus, unable to acknowledge my passing. Many an amount of alcohol she has consumed in an attempt to dull her past pain, to drown out those unbearable feelings of despair wrought upon her by others misdeeds. What was once her crutch had become her ultimate demise, lost in a world of welcome drunken incoherence.

I suddenly find myself at my front door having relinquished the hazardous trek. I had apparently decided somewhat unconsciously that this was something that had to be done later, probably when it was dark.
That brief journey had left me breathless with ever escalating feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. In the past I would probably have remained in that raw state for the remainder of the day however now that I am aware of my empathic predisposition, I am able to quickly ground myself with mindfulness and meditative techniques.
Empathy is indeed a double edged sword.
It can give us the ability to become sensitive to the most beautiful and exquisite aspects of our lives but also to the darker aspects of ours and others souls.