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.

Self Fostering

Many of us I know are well aware of how modern western society either by accident or design ( or a combination of the two ) undermines the individuals predisposition to authentic spiritual growth.
The influence of our peer groups and the inherent wish for us to be accepted by those around us can distract us from our natural, personal needs in terms of fulfilling our spiritual potential.
The proliferation of electronic gadgetry available that provide novel and immersive experiences in an easily attainable manner can provide us with a short term fix of stimuli. This however is at the expense of longer term goals which may require some degree of dedication and effort.
The seemingly endless narrative of businesses advertising their goods in order to boost your attractiveness to others, to make you more efficient, to improve your material life and even to ‘ make you more spiritual! ‘

I think this probably stands for most people the world over, but few are more aware of this disparity than those of us who are considered empathic and / or have had numinous spiritual experiences that do not align to society’s norms.
We know that we do not ‘ fit in ‘, we are aware that what most individuals seem to seek or enjoy are not truly shared by ourselves.
Everyday conversation with the majority seems largely inane, insubstantial and rather tasking. This often makes us seem aloof, preoccupied and disinterested but this is because we so often are unable to share our pertinent experiences as most would not come anywhere near to grasping what we aretrying to communicate.
We sense something deeper albeit sometimes difficult to ascertain what exactly. It may be from synchronicities, spontaneous insights, anomalous events or personal intuitive revelations about the world around us.

I personally am not a stranger to the above however I hadn’t realised how actually disengaged from my spiritual growth I had become. I always considered myself ( in human terms as opposed to advaitic ) as a reasonably grounded person when it comes to living life authentically.
The revelation came about when my family went on holiday leaving me to my own devices at home alone. Along with this I was forced to take time off work due a foot injury. Being actively engaged both mentally and physically in work and family activities ( on reflection ) probably occupied 90%ish of my waking hours.
Subsequently whereas most of my day was largely task orientated. it then became mostly self directed.
The first few days I kept myself busy by doing odd jobs around the house but soon I found myself with vast amounts of time to fill.
Now with the week is almost over I have discovered / rediscovered the following:
– That I do not ‘ need ‘ to fill my time with activity but that I can simply enjoy the subtly quiet sensuality of the moment
– Just how much of my time is actually taken up with the usual day to day chores leaving little space to mentally, physically and spiritually breathe
– The ongoing pressure that I put upon myself in order to complete tasks to alleviate the stresses of others
– How much the effect of being around others for long periods can easily derail important self care.

Obviously I am not suggesting that we all leave our families and relationships and go and live in a cave on a faraway island somewhere. But what I do suggest is that we take time to reflect on our lives and how we live them. And that we give due consideration to ourselves, otherwise we can easily become disenchanted and unfulfilled and our perfect, individuating souls become lost in the machinations of modern society.

From Shakti to Shiva ( or a human perspective on spiritual awakening)

Having had a few spiritually numinous experiences in my life which have seemingly boosted me along my ‘path’ somewhat I find myself nowadays living a rather paradoxical existence.

In short, being an empathically sensitive sort of guy led me to discover that my ‘sensitivity’ was related to having a more acutely tuned awareness to others and my environment. This in turn with meditation and the aforementioned experiences led to an understanding of the nonduality of life. That is to say there there is no true separation between everything in existence and that at a basic level we are all of one energetic event. The idea that we are separate is a delusion created by our largely crude senses combined with society’s predilection to socialise individuals into the same ideology.
It’s not a particular problem and in most ways it is rather helpful but having had in those moments a glimpse of what I now take to be my understanding of the true nature of reality, I seem to find myself admidst a society of mostly ‘crazy’ people. I am defining crazy here as merely my subjective description of others behaviour in line with my current perception of life itself, for it may be me who is crazy after all!

I see now why certain spiritual people describe the majority humanity as sleeping.
Individuals living their lives in search of novelty and distraction from the bigger questions of life, death and the transient nature of our mortal selves.
Investing their precious time here on Earth with the gathering of commodities and socially reinforcing relationships all in service of the ego.
This does by no means make these people less valuable, after all in the nature of true ‘oneness’, we are all in this together.
For me, the truth of the matter is that true divinity is all around us and inside of us. There never has been any true demarcation between ourselves / sunsets / sunrises / stormy seas and the serenity of a Summers day.
All of Nature, if one observes, sings of happiness and freedom. Ironically it seems only Man can feel burdened with the task of life.

Time Out Anyone……….?

Awoke this morning with my head still spinning from a busy week heavily involved with societal norms.
I need a day to slow right down and ground myself in reality. Not to be swept along by the chorus of egoic demands of society.
Being around people who largely behave like overgrown children in an adult world. Interpersonal one upmanship, individual voices vying for attention and praise from those that would listen.
Advertisements via every media format dangling like proverbial carrots to the masses. Unsubtley suggesting the acquirement of certain goods will increase their masculinity / femininity / desirability ( delete where applicable! )
Society’s obsession with getting things done faster and more efficiently.
People treated as cogs in the materialist machine. Generating company profits through the marketing of goods designed to entertain and distract individuals from other more soulful pursuits.
Paradoxically, despite the world having had many great compassionate leaders such as the Dalai Llama, Mother Theresa and Ghandi for instance as well as renown scientists such as Max Planck, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, as a society it seems we have learnt nothing.
The populace and governments continue to be preoccupied with the promotion of personal gain at the expense of others regardless of our Intrinsic human bond as a species.
The extolling of glamourous movie and music moguls whose only real gift to society is the publicity involved in their own small, personal indiscretions with others.
As an empathic, energetically sensitive sort of guy it seems as if the outside world is set up to be a place that seeks to swamp and distract me from any form of personal reflection, introspection and spiritual growth.

Sitting amongst the long grass in the meadow, Mother Nature sings a very different song.
The warm, comforting Summer breeze blows gently through my hair, brushing my skin in a loving caress. Bringing with it an array of aromas, from the May blossoms to the subtle but pervasive smell of the recently rain adorned earth.
The multifarious colours of the flowers rendered almost incandescent in the sunlight.
A flurry of house sparrows play amongst the brushes.
The low hypnotic thrum of the insects going about their seemingly incessant activity lulls me into a trance like state. A feeling of Oneness with creation transcends, a feeling of having never being separated from Nature.
Truly everything that has ever existed or will exist in the future are the closest kin I will ever have or need.
The heredity of every species of flora and fauna stretching back through history to the beginning of time.
Such a beautifully exquisite manifestation of life can only highlight Man’s shortfalls when it comes to a true appreciation and veneration of the very essence of existence itself.
Despite being surrounded by the unequivocal beauty of our planet, much of the human race seemingly remain either blind or asleep to its message.
Preferring to indulge themselves in soundbites of entertainment or time limited snippets of electronic novelty.
Yet amongst many, their discovery of their true nature is not so far below the surface. If only they took time to stop and stare.

“What is life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare…………..”

From the poem ‘ Leisure ‘ by William Henry Davies.

On Being a Dystopian Protagonist

Dystopia –
an imaginary society in which social or technological trends have culminated in a greatly diminished quality of life or degradation of values.
( Webster Collins Dictionary )

I have a few issues with the many definitions of dystopia. Ironically because if I was a dystopian protagonist, I would have. My main issue being the assumption that this society may be solely imaginary or imagined.
I am not a stranger to feeling isolated and alone in Western Society, after all, being both an empathic and a spiritually minded individual lends to not sharing similar proclivities to those around me. Add to that, that I have a rather indefinable organic, non dualistic, animistic understanding of existence pushes me further to the periphery of society.

Subsequently one could assume that, from my viewpoint, I wouldn’t feel particularly comfortable with the world around me as it stands.
Saying that however I know of many, many people who share the same disillusionment with the way the Western world has ‘developed’ over the past fifty or so years.

Going back to the definitions of dystopia, I find they relate more to today’s societal structure than at any time in the distant past.
The dystopia ( I believe ) has occurred in a multifactorial / multifaceted manner. Though I know many believe in conspiracy theories relating to the mind control of the populace and the supposed power held by hidden organisations. They may, to some extent, indeed be true, but I can only really go by what I percieve.
Certainly it seems that we are nearer to a dystopian society than a utopian one.

It seems to me that social and technological trends have indeed led to a diminished quality of life and degradation of values.
Whereas countries and states had their own cultural identity, their own unique ancestral imprint that helped define them and make them who they were. It seems that due to mass commercialisation via the internet / cable and satellite TV/ radio / etc etc much of the world has become a monoculture of materialism.
There are cases where the introduction of television and other technologies have adversely effected the mental health of those cultures who were previously naive to such things.
Add to that the current social media epidemic that encourages the promotion of self ( via ‘selfies’ with or without filters ), littered with advertisements about how to boost your looks / wealth / social standing by engaging with different groups and products. There is even some credibility in ‘false news’, where the suggestion of its existence implies some degree of validity!!

Also the amount of young ( and not so young ) individuals who spend vast amounts of their life being ‘entertained’ by gaming or preoccupied with other similar technological devices. People using technology to gain revenge on others or videoing acts of violence and depravity.

Don’t get me wrong however, there is some good come out of the advances in computer science and its ill but it seems largely uncontrolled and has undoubtedly changed massively the way people live their lives over recent years.

Even when I was young I took social trends to be the ‘norm’ and sacrificed some of my authenticity in order to be more accepted by my peers and this was without all the commercial brainwashing and societal conditioning of today.
However, this I have not done for a long time.

So, what’s all this to do with anything?
Firstly, as an empathic individual I feel others unhappiness and frustration and believe me it seems to have increased immensely over recent years.
I urge people to find ‘themselves’ amongst the array of stereotypes being forced on them, either openly or insidiously. Everyone has their own truth inside of them, we just need to discover it. You do not need anyone to agree with you or you to falsely agree with others to maintain one’s mental and emotional homeostasis.

In fact, in some ways you could say that we have a moral obligation to not do so.

“Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the
man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself”.
Source: The Undiscovered Self, chapter 4 (1957)
“It is the individual’s task to differentiate himself from all the others
and stand on his own feet. All collective identities . . . interfere
with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are
crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy,
nurseries for the irresponsible”.

Carl Gustav Jung.

Societys Zombie Apocalypse…….?

Most days I get by.
I get by thanks to my undying belief in the purity and glory of life.
In the knowledge that all is transient, all is interconnected and that all is one.

However at times my human heart tires, my spirit is dampened by those that would seem to be other than sentient. It is an unavoidable aspect of existence and one that thankfully only briefly clouds my vision until personal clarity and equanimity resume.

These instances are only ever caused by my fellow man.
By those whom –

– Prefer to persecute and criticise others in the aim of inflicting pain and percieved personal gain.

– Much prefer the idea of an anthropocentric existence to a holistic, empathic world view.

– Those individuals who would invest their time and energy in order to display their personal financial wealth in order to fill the empty rooms of their soul and to feed their ego with the transient.

As above , there are those that would use their position in society to promote themselves and reduce others.

There are also those that due to them living an almost voluntarily blinkered life, consumed by materialism, satiated by the toys given them by society.

– Those whose eyes are affixed to their mobile phones, who wander the Earth using technology as a window in which to frame the infinite complexity and divinity of the world around them. That also blind them from her entreaties for compassion for herself and her kin

– The dead eyes of the many television viewers soaking up without question all that is programmed into them via satellite networks

– those whose preoccupation with building a wall of amusement and distraction around them will never hear the cries of help from others, feel others pains or seek to understand and nurture those individuals who need the sustenance of warmth, love and belief that may have otherwise been available.

Despite the indifference, negativity and sometimes active resistance of others to experience or entertain any other philosophical or psychological standpoint, I will quietly go my own way. By subtle actions, quiet words and compassion, I will stand my ground and hopefully make some difference for the benefit of those that would require it.

A Letter to the Wounded 

For most of us there will times in our lives that are difficult or hurtful in some way. 

We may, for instance, have lost a loved one, be diagnosed with a serious illness, be painfully lonely and lost. 

Our reactions to these events will to some extent be dependent on our individual strengths and resources. 

Many people will become somewhat depressed / anxious due to the radical change in their circumstances. It is not unusual to have this adjustment reaction. 

However, for many it can be severe and prolonged causing intense emotional pain and giving rise to physical and psychological symptoms. 

We can become trapped in our own mental prison, in a constant cycle of negative and self depreciative thoughts which self perpetuate. 

This mindset can colour all that we perceive around us. 

We can feel helpless, weak and vulnerable to any intrusion from the outside world which is why many hide themselves away, both physically and emotionally. 

The future may seem bleak and intimidating , the present moment may be filled with fear and dread.

At our lowest ebb, it seems life becomes a living, dark nightmare from which escape is impossible. 

We lose perspective and forget what life can hold for us 
Did you forget the radiant sunrise at the dawn of the day? 

Did you forget the gleeful looks of your loved ones when you entered the room?

Did you forget the powerful roar of ocean waves as they are thrown ashore? 

Did you forget Nature’s seasonal masterpieces?

The crystal like frost of Winter, 

The gentle awakening and resurrection of the flora and fauna in Springtime. 

The warm Summer sun giving rise to the fruition of Gaia herself as she manifests at her zenith.

The subtle encroachment of Autumn as the leaves colours become almost iridescent and the cool, damp chill of the morning air.
No matter how wounded we are we can still experience the wonders of our world. 

We can still get excited about an impending celebration. 

We can still stare in awe at the Moon in the pitch black night sky. 

We can still cherish the love of other humans and animals.

We can still discover new and life changing experiences providing we are open to them.

By their very nature wounds heal. 

It may take time depending on the severity but it will. 

The deeper wounds may leave scars.

Scarred skin is more resilient and tougher than skin that has not been wounded.
So if you are sitting there in your darkest night of your soul, unable to see the way forward. 

Rest assured that if you have patience and give yourself the opportunity, this time will pass.

You will learn from this experience as your life begins to improve. 

For if ever it happens again, you will know that you can again triumph and win your life back.