It’s those moments where we are hardest on ourselves that actually call for the most kindness, for the most understanding, most forgiveness, the most self love. But sometimes that feels like an impossibility, the moment feels too heavy, too overwhelming to bring kindness into the equation. It feels like too much of a leap and too far to go.
In those moments where self love and compassion can’t be found maybe it’s possible to look instead to the ways in which we’re being unkind and too hard on ourselves and loosen the grip just a little, for just a moment. Let some space, some breathing room into the moment. Take a momentary pause and feel the relief and space and peace that that brings.
Sometimes it’s not a case of completely flipping the script, sometimes it’s just the case of simply finding the tiniest of cracks to what is already there. Those cracks can be found anywhere and are waiting and willing to be found. Sometimes the kindest thing that can be managed is to find that single crack in life to take a momentary respite.
I wear my scars
not like armour
that I’m proud of
or a badge of honour
that I boast about,
but as acknowledgement
for what I have experienced.
For the lessons
I have learnt
and as a reminder
of what I have gone through.
They depict the humbling
life showed me.
They are just a part of me
A part that I once tried to hide
A part that I was once ashamed
and avoidant of
A part that I have now
learnt to embrace and love.
My scars tell a story
But it’s just that
They don’t define me.
There’s a tendency to avoid dealing with the subject of mental health in some spiritual traditions and teachings. To poo poo inner work and growth, to try to meditate away ‘negative’ emotions, reactions, thought patterns and conditioning. But spirituality and spiritual awakening is not a panacea, it is many things and in some ways a lot of the “problems” of the mind do in fact disappear. But in some ways post awakening the work and cleanup becomes intensified and it can become even more important to address and give attention to anything that’s still arising. This can be when some of the true work begins, because the strategies that have stopped you from looking beneath the covers of the mind dissolve.
It is the embracing not the running away that allows one to look at where the stored traumas, memories, reactions, conditioning and energetic imprints are having an impact on the current moment, your current experience of life. So in some ways it’s only then that you can truly move through and on from the issues or patterns that may have plagued your life.
We all know someone, or maybe ourselves that have experienced mental health issues, and yet it’s still so hard for society as a whole to acknowledge, embrace and talk about. Why do you think we even need to have a ‘World Mental Health Day’. We’re too quick to try and fix, instead of taking the cues that are being shown. Those cue want to be heard, want to be seen. Not fixed or forgotten about, or covered up, or shoved under the carpet; but instead seen and heard and embraced like a small child looking for love.
There is no manual about how to live life. It’s difficult and there are no singular right or wrong answers that apply to all. But especially when we pay too much attention to what those around us, and society are saying about how we should feel and act and be in life. Often the first thing to go when we try and fit into something that we feel we should be fitting into, is our sense of internal well-being and peace.
The term mental health is a catchall for many experiences and often comes measured against a theoretical blueprint about what it is to be ‘normal’. This is massively problematic, particularly as from everything I can gather, there is no normal. And beyond that… often these things that we fear are ‘abnormal’ about ourselves are actually experiences that our friend, our neighbour, our family member, the stranger on the bus are also feeling and experiencing too.
The mental suffering comes in when we falsely accept that our experience is wrong – that we ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing x, y & z. I’ve often said to people that I encounter along the road of life who tell me that what they are experiencing is wrong or broken, that what if they were an alien who had just arrived on Earth and were told x, y & z is completely correct to feel, what then? What would their relationship to x, y & z be? Would they think it wrong? No.
So it’s often our relationship to how we perceive what we’re experiencing that causes it to be wrong or right, to suffer it or not. What if we were taught happy is bad, sad is good? It’s our labelling of experiences that determines their value and therefore where we derive our sense of value in life. What if we were to drop these labels and sit in the pocket with our experiences. To not run away from the ‘bad’ and towards the ‘good. But to feel all.
I feel this is true mental health. To attend to all that’s arising with awareness and compassion, without labels and judgements of right or wrong.
Mental health assumes there is a good health and a bad health. It measures this good and bad against the idea (or ideal) of normal. But show me normal, find me who it looks like? We have to face facts, there is no one-size fits all. There is no ‘normal’, just life playing out as it does with all its colour and variety, shapes and sizes, all its seeming paradoxes and diversities.
Make no mistake you will be judged and you will be misunderstood along your path of life.
The question is will you hold true to the discovery of YOUR truth, no another’s? Will you stand up for your direct experience rather than someone else’s ideals?
I have a secret to tell…
I sound like I know what I’m talking about
but in truth I live entirely in the unknown
No stakes to place
No walls or ceilings or floors to hang on to
life is a free-fall of continuous newness
It’s a leap of faith and trust
and it’s the ever present continuation of acceptance
I have no opinions
and no agenda
nothing to rely on
or anything to lay claim over
I see life as a gift
and all the content that shows up in it part of that gift
Most people are so quick to try and pin down life
to make rules to live by
find positions to take
and opinions to have
But to step into the unknown is to step out of the mind of conception
and into the realm of Grace
into the realm of Self
into the realm of awareness
logic will do you no good here
- Sometimes life brings you to your knees.Floors you with it’s strong wisdom.Shows you where the shadows still lie.Where the aspects of yourself are that still go unmet.It’s a calling that when ignoredscreamsandkicksandshoutsto be seen, to be heard.It’s a gut punch of a momentone that takes the breath awayand leaves all else quivering in its wake.All else stops.So you stop with itclose the eyesand listen.Listen to where life is taking you.Listen to what life is showing you.Listen to your heart, to your soul, to your Being.No more strategiesNo more solutionsNo more resistanceNo more avoidanceJust simply what is.And in that silenceall is found.All the messall the heartbreakall the mistrustbeing met fully.All the darkness comes into the light.The opening of yourself so vast that the edge is never metThe melting of all the hurt and violence into acceptance and love.Love wins out.And so you pick yourself upand dust yourself offand on you goheart fully cracked openwith love.
I find it funny that the further into this journey of life I get the less and less ‘spiritual’ I become. Granted, I never self-identified as particularly spiritual, but at least outwardly I certainly was a card-carrying member of the ‘spiritual seekers brigade’. I was brought up surrounded by spiritual types, I meditated from aged 6, I went to a spiritual consciousness-based school and university. I worked for companies where every single employee was a meditator and spiritual seeker. I’ve lived in spiritual communities and Ashrams. I’ve lived like a monk, albeit a married one, but a monk nonetheless (and I still do pretty much live like one).
For a while my focus was well and truly on the abiding recognition of awareness, consciousness, the absolute, the silent awareness at the heart of all experiencing. Seeing that the kaleidoscopic arisings of the content of life was just that, an arising, a happening, a dream.
And while I find this to be true, the primordial ground of life as I know it…. but also there IS a life as we know it and that’s not to be ignored or denied, it’s to be LIVED.
So now I find myself focusing instead of on spiritual attainment or awakening (at least in the traditional sense), it’s shifted onto what it means to be human, to walk in this world, the grounded and intimate experience of life. It’s a messy and beautiful business being human, it’s not something you can do ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s full of heartbreak, disappointment, intense experiences and pain. It’s also full of joy and love, connection and so much more.
We are all fumbling around the best we can and to me the most compassionate and loving thing I can do for myself and others is to turn up for that, to walk hand in hand and support one another through life lessons.
Life isn’t a sterile experience to be witnessed. Life is a heavily felt and embodied experience. It astonishes me the capacity for each and every one of us to experience what we experience, the full-on aliveness that asserts itself in every moment. Yes we are the vessel that experiences all of this, yes we are prior to all of this, yes we are the witness to all of this. But ALL of this is US TOO!!!!!!!
There is no ‘me’ and ‘it’. There is just THIS. The full-on multifaceted, kaleidoscopic, multi-sensory experience of life. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter, it’s ALL OF IT. The freedom is in seeing this, knowing this, not being in denial or resistance to this.
It’s not to escape it, it’s to embrace it. It’s not to run from it, it’s to know that you ARE it. You are life. All of this is for you. All of this IS you. (And I am NOT just talking about the nice fluffy cuddly bits ;p)
Awakening to me is waking up to your nature, seeing life for what it is, the transient, ineffable life that is experienced, felt, lived. When seeing the nature of how things are you find yourself not in resistance to life, you find yourself free from the bondage of ‘should’ and instead standing in the freedom of what IS.
There isn’t a box where the lines have to be coloured inside of in-order to be ‘the most spiritual’, ‘the best human being’, ‘the most enlightened’. Freedom is to step outside of your false self-imposed gilded cage and see that there are no boundaries and rules as to what the experience of life should be. No rights and wrongs, just this, just experiencing itself.
So this, this is where I find my energy, my focus, my attention. Not by design, but because life continually asserts itself as something that is full of experiencing. So full that all that we can do is jump in feet first and buckle up for the ride, because it is a ride, we’re not in control of the steering wheel, but we’re fully along for the journey. Let go or be dragged, either way… it’s happening.
Life is such and unbelievable gift, how often do you stop and smell the roses? Appreciate the little simple ordinary moments? Without reference to the past or thoughts to the future.
We miss the beauty of the moment so easily. Ordinary life has become so throwaway, so undesirable. Instead marked with the next glamorous instagram shot, the next big ‘experience’, the next enviable goal. Next next next. We miss the sheer joy of this extraordinary, but divinely ordinary moment.
Whether that moment be filled with anger, joy, sadness or bliss it doesn’t matter. Just the fact we are alive, that we bear witness to all of this. Oh the magnificence that
“Walk through life with the palms of your hands open to what life brings;
no clinging, no denying, just this – what’s here right now.” – Imogen
I have gone from living the (American) dream… good job, beautiful house, wonderful friends, two beloved cats, more stuff than we could ever want or need, plentiful money, gorgeous and loving husband – I wanted for nothing… and now I have nothing (except the husband of course 😜 I’ve still got him thankfully).
We have no home – not even a real base, we move from house sit to house sit every few weeks, new place, not knowing anyone, not knowing the area, living out of a hand luggage suitcase. No money to speak of – most people would be shock at how little we live on right now, no possessions – I literally mean it when I say all we have is a hand luggage suitcase each that fits all our stuff, no friends or people we hang out with (because of the said nomadic lifestyle) – just us two 24/7. Nothing really that we need or have to do, no purpose or meaning, no ambition and drive, no desires.
And yet I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. So happy I could cry sometimes with overflowing gratitude and love for life as it is. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I make no judgements either way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about this particular lifestyle being the holy-grail answer to suffering, it’s not like we ‘chose’ this, it just sorta happened that way. I never set out to live like this, and I hold no position on it… this could all change tomorrow.
I know this because it’s happened before, pretty much over night, the day Serenity died changed everything, we pretty much walked out of our full lives in Fairfield, Iowa to this…whatever this is………
It’s about living in truth and freedom in each and every moment. I live in the unknown, it can be uncomfortable for most to hear/imagine that, but is where I live, it’s a choice-less choice. There’s no in and out of this, it’s just my reality, where all of life is lived from and as. Raw unadulterated living.
The love that I feel in my heart is sometimes overwhelming. The love for all of it, all of life – doesn’t matter what that looks like… the beautiful, peaceful, messy, ugly, complicated, happy, raw, blissful, simple, mundane, inexplicable, ordinary, extraordinary life that I am honoured to be experiencing.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you