Thursday, 26 December 2013

What Trees Have to Do With Christmas

The other day I read something Neil Gaiman wrote about Christmas trees being a pagan relic. I was aware of why bunnies and eggs were associated with Easter, but I haven’t thought about the connection between trees and Christmas. I decided to look into it. Here I am offering some of what I could find as well as my own input based on symbolism.

Christmas more or less coincides with the winter solstice and the beginning of the New Year. The winter solstice is the darkest day in the year and signifies the beginning of a new cycle. It is also the beginning of winter, the time of withdrawal for reflection. This can be seen in nature when some animals hibernate and trees lose their leaves. The winter solstice can be seen as a time when a seed is planted. It will remain underground for some time, drawing on the nourishment of the earth while it is called upwards by the growing light.

Apparently Christmas trees have their origin in the tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the home to celebrate eternal life and ward off darkness. Interestingly, the message of Christ is also about conquering darkness through eternal life.

There are more symbolic parallels between Christ and trees. The molecular structure of chlorophyll represents a cross. Chlorophyll is an important component of photosynthesis, the process by which light is absorbed and stored as energy. Christ is the Son of God coming to earth; the light taking physical form to experience what it is to be human. On another level, the structure of a haemoglobin molecule looks like the structure of a chlorophyll molecule. Their colours green and red are the exact opposite in the colour spectrum, suggesting another interesting relationship between humans and trees. The blood of Christ is also a symbolic part of religious rituals. Both trees and Christ represent light captured in matter.

The Solar Cross. Thanks to the artist Melissa Saayman Krige for giving me permission to use the image. For more information go to
Trees transform carbon monoxide into oxygen, thereby giving life to humans. Christ as a healer was the giver of life, transforming illness into health. These processes signify alchemy, the process by which lead (darkness) is transformed into gold (light).

Let’s consider what else trees tell us about transformation in the way they interact with the sun and the cycles in nature. Those trees that are not evergreen lose their leaves in winter. Their essence is withdrawn while they wait for a new cycle to form new leaves. The tree continues to grow through all the cycles of transformation. This reminds of the serpent that sheds its skin when it is outgrown, again linking to alchemy. The cycle of death and rebirth continues, reminding us that our essence is spirit. The outer shell is transitory.

I stumbled across this logo of the Church of Scotland and thought that it beautifully captures the essence of spirit and matter. It shows that all things burn with the sacred flame, regardless of their physical form. We are all brothers and sisters. The Christ consciousness is about recognising that and treating each other with love. As a child I remember mistaking the Afrikaans word for Christmas (kersfees - festival of candles) for "kers-wees" (being a candle). That is more or less the message of Christmas in a nutshell.

Image from Wikipedia

I would like to conclude with an experience I had a few weeks ago when I went to the local shop to buy milk. The store owner started talking to me about living in Scotland and his origins in India. He asked me about my religious orientation. I started with, “I was raised Christian, but...” He interrupted me there, saying that he was Muslim but there is only one God. All religions are the same because there is only one God. How nice to have a chat with a brother from a different background.


Thanks to Melissa Saayman Krige at Platbos Forest for teaching me about the connection between the chlorophyll and haemoglobin molecular structure and giving me the opportunity to learn from the trees. For more information go to and With special thanks to the Cherry Wood tree for teaching me directly about the connection with Christ consciousness.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Re-formulating the Notion of Survival

Survival is not about the duty to stay alive. We make ourselves smaller than we are because we think we have an obligation to stay alive in a system that was invented to imprison us. Because our parents worked by the sweat of their brow to provide for us, we think we have the duty to do the same. That is what grown up responsibility is all about – forgetting the playfulness of being a child in favour of being burdened down by financial responsibilities. If you survive in the system then you get a medal for being one of the strong. You might even be rewarded with the label of success. We slave our lives away in order to make it to “the” top. But the top as we know it was invented fairly recently. It is dull, unimaginative and does not do justice to the miracle of creation.

Similarly, we justify our society in terms of the “survival of the fittest” discourse. We think it’s natural and a basic requirement for evolution. Yet I wonder to what extent the observer effect is in play here. Looking at nature, do we choose to see that all species struggle to survive, that survival is the right of the strong? Do we miss the cooperation in nature because we see only that which reflects our own mindset? Do we fail to see the cycles in all things, the wonder according to which all things cooperate as a whole? I cannot speak on behalf of the animals. But I imagine that when they fight for survival they are motivated by life itself, the instinct to cling onto the thread of one’s existence for the sake of love. How much of the behaviour of other life forms can be attributed to a struggle for survival rather than the species just being itself?

We only need to look around at the beauty on earth and in the sky to understand that we are capable of more than the dullness of reality as we have created it. Perhaps it is insane to suppress our need for soul, imagination and miracles. Can we look up at the sky and trust the Life Force that brought the universe into existence? No human hand can replicate such wonder if we deny our connection to all that exists. Seeing the beauty in creation, I’m wondering if we can look at ourselves with different eyes. The miracle of the stars is in us and we need to honour it. Our duty is not to continue the legacy of the system that keeps us smaller than what we are. Our existential responsibility is to be true to the Life Force that brought us here. May we live in such a way that we reflect the magnificence that is apparent in everything else that came here of its own accord.

Once we understand that survival is an instinct based on love, we can do away with the idea of success as a denial of our true selves. If we formulate success as that which indicates that we are better than others, we are simply suppressing a part of ourselves. True success is about allowing the Universe to express itself through us.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Symbolism of Being Naked

When I was a child, I thought it really strange to imagine that Adam and Eve were naked and not aware of it. That was only when I was old enough to remember with shame the time when I used to run around naked shamelessly. Nowadays being naked represents sexuality. Especially when women show their bodies it is usually in a context where they are objectified and lose all their dignity. The more skin that is shown, the more sexualised the body becomes. I am not proposing that everyone just takes off their clothes and start walking around naked, and yet I fail to understand how we came here.

Getting dressed is such an ingrained daily ritual that we take it for granted. It is a way of reinforcing the message to ourselves that we are different from the rest of nature. Not only are our bodies shamed, but perhaps there is no more powerful way to suppress all our natural impulses and sever our relationship to Mother Earth that gave birth to us. We are all dust and to dust we shall return, yet we choose to believe that we are the things we have created to glorify our minds. Perhaps it is not surprising that most of us seemingly have really bad relationships with our bodies.

As a child I wondered why grown-ups don’t run around. Now I know that when you are forced to sit still for long enough, it starts feeling natural. At some point in the process of growing up it becomes inappropriate to walk barefoot. Thinking back, it is more or less the same age when one loses the connection with the world of fantasy and instead develops an interest in cultural values of identity. When we don’t feel the earth underneath our soles any more, it is easier to turn our attention to “the world” and be fed ideas of what we should strive for in life.

Perhaps the dream symbolism of being naked holds the key to the truth about ourselves. I am sure all of us have dreamed countless times of being naked in public and only discovering it when it is too late. It could be interpreted as the fear of being exposed, but I think it’s more than that. I’ll turn to Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the naked emperor for some insight.

According to this story, the charlatans who made the emperor’s clothes said that only those who were unfit or incompetent would be unable to see it. In this case, being naked represents truth and everyone is afraid to point it out for fear of being labelled stupid. The naked body is the way we came into the world and it is the truth of who we are. Yet we assume cultural identities symbolised by clothes. It becomes so normal that to deviate from it is considered insane and shameful. The subconscious mind knows the truth about who we are. It reminds us in our dreams because we are afraid to live it. If we recognise that the emperor is naked it will also mean that we are naked. When we stop giving authority and power to others, it means we have to claim responsibility for ourselves. That will mean we can no longer play along with games we know to be untrue.

I’m still wondering at Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. Relating it to the Roman myth of the Golden Age, I would say the knowledge of good and evil was abused for the purpose of self-enrichment or power. Our connection to nature was severed when we started defining ourselves in terms of our material wealth. The body became a canvas used to communicate to others where one fit into the social hierarchy. Actually we all know that the emperor is really naked but nobody wants to be the first to say so.

The way out of being entrapped by our social identities is by baring our souls. Being naked is symbolic of being vulnerable. It is the heart consciousness that knows that we are all connected, whether we remember it or not. When one is truly oneself, it is easier to become free of judgement and accept others for who they are. The spirit of love recognises that we are more than our possessions or cultural identities. All of us come into the world naked and when death comes, material accumulations mean nothing. In our short time on earth, we have to choose very carefully what we consider important enough to apply our efforts to.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

When Man Discovered Gold

According to the ancient Roman mythology, there was a period in the history of mankind when nature provided freely and harmony prevailed. This was known as the Golden Age. When man discovered real gold, the era of harmony ended. Mankind deteriorated because of greed and people started killing each other. The Silver, Bronze and Iron Ages (present era) followed. Ironically, the Golden Age was characterised by the absence of gold whilst the discovery of actual gold meant the end of the Golden Age.

Two things come to mind when I consider the symbolism of gold: value and purity. When someone has an intrinsically good character we say that she has a heart of gold. When man discovered gold outside of him, he was so mesmerised by its beauty that he wanted to possess it. This gave rise to corruption. Man’s soul turned black because of his need to be in possession of something that didn’t belong to him.

Before the arrival of greed, the earth was a garden of harmony. Gold was within the earth, which produced all we needed to keep us happy. The test that the discovery of gold posed was whether man could remember that value was within. When we appreciate the beauty of something, it leaves its footprint in our heart. The fact that we can see it and understand its value means that it is inside us also. If we recognise the earth as our paradise then we would not need to take forcefully from her because she is part of us.

The advent of consciousness also introduced the potential vice of cunning. The message of gold is that we should use our intelligence wisely: to heal and not to destroy. If we do, the earth will become our paradise once more and life will be a wonder.

Alchemy is the art of turning lead into gold. If we change all our bad ideas about who we are, we can return to a state of purity, reversing the blackness that came about by our need to possess. On the positive side, our relationship with gold was one of love to start with. If we realise that love is free and natural and we don’t need anything to experience it, we can transform our relationship with money. Then we will live in harmony with each other and the earth once more.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A (Slightly Different) View on Manifestation

I have never really bought into the whole new age hype about manifestation. Surely if it were that simple then everyone would get what they wanted and there would be no problems, right? On the other hand I know that there is some truth to it. I cannot help noticing how often it happens that people get exactly what they asked for. Whether that makes them happy or not is a different matter. I’ll share some of my own experiences and also consider how I think manifestation can be used for real benefit.

As a child I remember going to church and reading in the Bible that we could ask for anything and it would be given. At other times I was told that God could answer in one of three possible ways: yes, no or later. In a way I think both views are curiously true in their own way. However I’m still not the master of life and neither is anyone else I know by the looks of it.

When I was about ten years old, I fervently prayed for something. I resolved to have faith that it would show up, regardless of how impossible it seemed. About ten years later it did, but by that time it was completely meaningless to me. I couldn’t help marvelling at the extraordinary way in which the “thing” eventually made its way to me. As a teenager I also had a deep wish which I prayed would come to fruition. A few years later something along those lines (which was about what I could expect seeing that my prayer was sufficiently vague) played out. Needless to say, it wasn’t half of what I expected it to be.

At some point I gave up asking for things because it felt to me that it was no use – I never got what I wanted anyway. That wasn’t entirely true. I often got what I wanted on a physical level but with the inner experience of something still missing. When I honestly didn’t get what I wanted I ended up noticing that either there was a delay or I have outgrown that which I desired. By the looks of it, my subconscious mind was a step ahead of me. It contrived in helping me get what I actually wanted: the feeling of being whole and sufficient as I was without the need of something outside myself to feel complete. When that wasn’t the case, it didn’t help much asking for something when I wasn’t open to receive it. Once you notice that you are defensive, afraid to be open to good things coming your way, you realise that you have been the one dictating your reality all along.

On a very practical level, when we work for something and it comes to fruition, that is also manifestation. There is nothing supernatural about it. When it doesn’t materialise, I believe we have the option to give up and try something more worthwhile on one hand or persevere on the other. Perhaps it’s the Universe’s way of testing our resolve and asking us to reconsider what is really important.

I don’t think manifestation can be simplified to become the easy answer to all our problems. There is still the larger context of our relationship with life and how we define ourselves. Personally I think the key is in realising that we are manifesting anyway. What we believe in gains power and dictates our reality. Knowing this, we could ask ourselves what we deem important enough to want to bring into this world.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

On Big Pharma, Science and Healing

This week I picked up a business and careers newspaper for students and the topic Big Pharma on the cover caught my eye. I’m not sure what I expected seeing that the article would hardly reflect my mindset. Yet when I read it it was all about the issues the industry faces and how they can recover to protect their profits. The article was also quite blatant about the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. I’m not sure why I was surprised at the approach but I thought it was pretty shameless in the way in which the profit driven aspect was depicted as something positive and desirable. I couldn’t help feeling a bit indignant though, let me explain why.

I have long since learned to shut up about my beliefs about healing. I have had too many conversations which go more or less like this:

“Why do you work in marketing if you studied psychology?”

“I wanted to be a psychologist but after having studied it I don’t really believe that the traditional approach to psychology is helpful. Which led me to turn to alternative forms of healing.”

“Oh, what does that entail?”

“Well…” (I usually just get vague at this point in order to avoid any reference to shamanic techniques or energy healing. I’ll continue as if I did in fact express my healing interests.)

“That’s nice. I have heard of such and such a person who was exploited very much by someone parading as a psychic or a spiritualist. They were never quite the same after that.”

Or: “This person got into trouble because he was actually a physiotherapist but then he tried to do ‘energy healing’ on his patient, which didn’t work. One has to be very careful of these unscientific things.”

So I shut up for fear of being ridiculed or labelled as a hippie or unscientific. I know it’s a bit lame but after reading the Big Pharma article I think maybe I could be more shameless about my “beliefs” and appeal to people’s common sense a bit more.

Let’s start with science, which is supposed to be about knowledge and rationality. Somehow I’m not convinced. In the mind of the average person it has become synonymous with authority. If “science” says so then so it is and most people will consider that the end of the matter. In that case their responsibility to make their own assessment of the situation is relieved because someone who knows better has decided for them. It is also interesting to see that in the mind of the average person “unscientific” means it’s nonsense. To these people I would like to point out that deciding on the merit of something without bothering to look into it, all based on what “authority” has told you, makes no sense whatsoever.

Can we really trust authority if we look at who is in control? The greatest destruction in the history of mankind has been caused by those in power and those with knowledge. We complain and rage that it’s time for someone else to take over but we continue to entrust ourselves to authority. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves what is in our best interest, and to consider that it might be in the interest of some people to have us believe that we cannot trust ourselves, much less other people, and that we therefore need the protection of someone in power.

Continuing on the topic of science: it’s supposed to be about the methodology and the reliability of the results. Yet I think that money plays an important role: only those who have enough to be endorsed by the right authorities can have the status. I’m not speaking against science and I will not deny that great breakthroughs have been made. Yet knowledge is only useful if it serves us. It is how we use knowledge that will determine whether we heal or harm. If science makes man god over creation, as so many seem to believe, then that is all the more reason for us to act responsibly. Although science can provide us with some of the answers to the whats and the hows, it can never answer the question “why” in the context of our lives. That is something that we have to answer for ourselves. We have to own up to the consequences of our actions following the answer. Not many are willing to do this, which is perhaps why we are so quick to look up to authority to tell us what we should believe and how we should live.

Returning to Big Pharma, I have decided not to judge too quickly. The only way that any business can make a lot of money is if they supply something that is in demand. If people want quick fixes to manage symptoms so they can continue their lives as “normal” then who am I to say that what pharmaceutical companies are doing is bad?

A final thought about science: as helpful as knowledge can be, it doesn’t help much knowing anything if we don’t live better as a result. I’ll venture to say that if we can learn to cooperate, love and live in peace then we’ll be a thousand times better off not knowing anything even if we think the earth is flat. Potential often lies not in what is known, because what is known has already been created. Potential is in the vast sea of unknown possibilities. How we act today will determine which possibility we bring into the reality of tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Machine

Nori’s grandmother told her about the machine beings that will rule in the age of weapons.

“What’s a weapon, grandma?” Nori asked.

“It is a hard, sharp, deadly object that is created from materials taken from the earth. It is created in such a way that it will kill fast. The deadlier, the better.” Grandma answered. She knew about the coming age of iron because the auspices had told her.

“Why would anyone create these things, grandmother?” Nori asked, puzzled. Grandmother looked worried and a bit sad. At least that is how Nori would have described it in our words, but she didn’t really understand the feelings she saw in grandma.

“Because they want to dominate others and accumulate things. This is how they will know that they are important.” Nori didn’t understand at all, but grandma continued to tell her about the machine beings.

The machine beings will think that they are God’s representatives on Earth. Because they have been given intelligence, they can use it whichever way they want to. They will think that the Earth is their kingdom and that everything on it is their property. They will regard themselves as the highest life form. They will think that there is no life anywhere else in the universe other than on Earth. Because they are so important, God has given them the entire universe and placed them at the centre of it with their own kingdom of plants, animals and minerals.

The most interesting thing about machine beings is that they don’t care much about killing each other, much less killing other forms of life. The machine people group themselves into communities that function together as one large machine. They put all their efforts into creating something called “thin air” which they use to create a pyramid that gives some people power and impoverishes others. Another curious thing about the society machine is that it’s based on nothing but everyone believes in it because of the thin air, whether it works for them or not. They think the “thin air” is their reason for existence and they have to fight their whole lives to get more of it so others can respect them.

Within each machine there is hate and fighting amongst themselves and between the larger collective machines there is even more hate and fighting. Each machine society believes God to be on their side only.  They often think that their faith is the one true one and that people who have different beliefs will either go to hell or are delusional. The machine beings are intelligent enough to make weapons of mass destruction but they aren’t smart enough to figure out that that bit makes no sense.

“What will happen to these machines, grandma?” Nori asked.

“We will have to wait and see, Nori,” Grandma answered. “It will depend on whether they can wake up from their inflated sense of self-importance and remember that everything else they can perceive is also part of themselves. If they fail the test, they will die out, because what they have created is not sustainable. If they wake up, there is still hope.”

“Where can the hope be found, grandma?”

“In their hearts, Nori, although that would be asleep for a long time. The machine doesn’t think the heart is important. If they remember their capacity to love and forgive then there is still hope.”


“Yes, Nori?”

“Isn’t the machine lonely? How can anyone forget about their hearts - it must be terribly painful!”

“They forget because they are taught from a young age that love is better when received than given. When they give love, it should only be to those who are like themselves for only those are worth the effort. If they love anyone outside their group then there is a risk of mingling, fudging boundaries, and that would lead to more equal distribution of wealth. If people realise they are all brothers and sisters then they wouldn’t want to have too much when there are others who don’t have enough. And when everyone shares and stops stressing about gaining wealth and being at the top then the machine of society will no longer work. Then people will return to simplicity and live in harmony with the earth and all beings on it.”

“Just like us, grandma?”

“Just like us primitive beings, Nori, just like us. The machines will stop being machines and they will become people once more.”

Sunday, 13 October 2013

How Would You Live Differently?

Recently I have been finding it increasingly hard to reconcile the world in my dreams with the world that I actually live in. The material world just seems too demanding and no matter how focused I am or carefully I plan, I cannot keep up. There are many who offer opportunities, but the premise is always that the competition is really strong so you have to be truly exceptional to “get in”. The world seems to be a place where everyone is really stressed out having to fight exceedingly hard to get a piece of a cake that is getting ever smaller.

Although the promises of success, opportunity and being one of a selected few outstanding individuals are alluring, I feel that it’s too draining to try for ever being better than I am. It feels like the harder I try to meet expectations, the more inadequate I feel. The satisfaction that comes from achieving goals hard worked for is always fleeting and somewhat empty. But although I would rahe to turn to re eo let me know your thoughts.used I am or carefully I plan, I cannot seem to keep upowed youther turn to the world in my dreams, it doesn’t exist to everyone. I feel fragmented trying to keep up with the material reality whilst at the same time remaining in touch with my soul.

Last night I meditated on my feelings, asking for guidance that would be useful. I went through different visions but will share what I feel is relevant. At some point I reached a place of nothingness where everything was white. I hit a barrier that I felt although I couldn’t see it. The guiding spirit that was with me continued past the barrier but I couldn’t move on. I hung suspended in the whiteness with the universe holding me although there was nothing else. To me the barrier is symbolic – the point where the old way of doing things can no longer work. When it is reached, everything falls away, including old identities and structures of meaning. Yet the universe is there to hold us while the way is paved for something new. There are forces stronger than us and although it cannot be seen, it can be felt.

Next thing I was led to a place where I walked onto a stage. The spotlight was on me and I had an audience. I was told that all eyes are on me and the world is waiting to hear what I have to say. They would listen to me, so what would I tell them? I walked forward and said with conviction, “Be the joy that you are. Do what you love. It’s the love that is important, so cultivate it.”

Then I was asked: if you have to take your own advice, how would you live differently? I thought about it and said that I would probably be less afraid to love. I would let go of expectations of the way in which love should play out. I would also care less about having been hurt before because if I can still love then it doesn’t matter. I would be quicker to forgive. The thought occurred to me that whatever is going on around me is perfectly fine because the details are unimportant. The important thing is that I love.

In my spiritual search I keep returning to the same place. The world in my dreams is about love whereas the reality I know is based on a strange kind of order that doesn’t actually work. This morning it occurred to me that as clueless as I often feel, maybe I have been making the right decisions all along. Maybe I am not na├»ve in thinking that bringing your authentic self to the world is closer to the target than for ever being at the mercy of the material world. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the old reality is collapsing and that we have to create something better. Perhaps the destruction of the fear based reality is the natural order of things and whatever follows will be better and more substantial. I’m hoping it could mean that humanity is waking up to the fact that love and joy are the natural state. That is what it’s there for – to help us stay on our true path.

A great deal of trust is required to embrace a world that the eyes cannot yet see. The challenge for me would be following my own advice when the world is begging me to do the opposite.

I would like to hear your thoughts. If you have one chance to have the world’s attention and everyone is willing to hear you out, what would you tell them? What would you do differently if you followed your own advice? Please comment or send me a message to let me know.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Why Myths Are Important

We tend to think of myths as forgotten stories from a past that doesn’t belong to us, one where people held irrational beliefs and didn’t know anything. But the truth is that we are still living myths today, individually as well as collectively. In fact, everything is based on myth. It’s because we believe in our present day myths that we live them and perpetuate them. If we want to change our personal or collective reality then we need to take a look at the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. We have to decide not only what we would like to discard, but also what we would like to take into the future.

Myths and dreams are the symbols that illuminate our current self-concepts and contain the seeds of what we can become. The Now-moment contains nothing at all, except what we choose to believe in. The Now moment is pure potential and completely insubstantial. But Now is also the bridge between our myths and our dreams - the space in which we can create. Now is often too fast on us – it doesn’t give us time to deliberate and make informed decisions. That is perhaps why it can open the door to change, because even though it is insubstantial, it is all that we really have to work with. Now is the moment of choice, the moment where all possibilities are connected and from where we can choose our experience. In my experience each Now moment provides the opportunity to either heal the past or direct the future.

Dreams are nothing other than the myths of the future telling us what is possible. If a dream stirs our hearts then it calls us to a better future. The question is often how to use the Now to transform our own stories, releasing myths from the past that no longer serve us to bring the dreams of the future into our present reality. But in truth all myths are important, regardless of whether we like them or not. If we want to get rid of a personal myth, it will probably re-present itself with more insistence until it is healed. We only heal our myths when we love them, because unwanted myths represent parts of ourselves that need to be loved back to life. Once it is integrated into our sense of self, the unwanted myth no longer has control that is beyond the power of our own will. It will then cease to run the show, because we are no longer afraid of it.

In Paulo Coelho’s books I have read about the personal legend. Being authentic means weaving our myth so life works for us and we fulfil our greatest dream, which should also be our biggest ambition. This doesn’t mean that we should be flawless, but that our chosen myth should be original and have the power of our own creativity.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Going Barefoot

The barefoot theme came up in different places for me over the last few months. Firstly, as an injured runner I had to consider whether barefoot running could be the answer to becoming pain-free. Secondly as a spiritual seeker I read about sun-gazing practices, part of which entails a period of walking barefoot on the earth for an hour every day. Finally, a few days ago I read a post on facebook about the benefits of going barefoot, one of which was reduced levels of depression. I don’t recall seeing any source of authority or research but the thought stayed with me. A few hours later I had the opportunity and couldn’t resist the urge to walk barefoot on the grass in the park. I use the word “urge” because my soul yearned to touch the earth through my soles. We have forgotten how sensitive our feet are.

As soon as my feet touched the grass, the effect was potent and instant. Not only did it feel very good but I became aware of the Earth talking to me even louder than usual, its spirit so very present in the hill called Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. I then recalled how good it feels when someone I love or at least like touches the soles of my feet.

Whilst the theme of going barefoot came under my attention through the barefoot running debate, it turns out to be much more than that. Being barefoot on a man-made surface is not the same as physically touching the bare earth with bare feet. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that humans generally see the earth as just a solid platform that provides a base for us to carry out our daily activities. Ironically, the word “human” is derived from the Latin word “humus” which means “soil” or “dust”. But we have lost touch with our roots. If we can’t hear the Earth talking then perhaps it is no wonder that our souls are still asleep.

The phrase “as above, so below” comes to mind, meaning that there is a material parallel for all things energetic/spiritual. The shaman knows about the relationship between energy and matter and how intent is transferred through and shapes matter. This also pertains to our different levels of being, our essence not being limited to our physical bodies. In the same way that individual consciousness comes from the sea of the collective, so also our bodies spring forth from the soil from which we get our nourishment. The Earth represents the sacred circle of all things being connected. On a physical level she is our Source, providing all that we need for ourselves to be sustained. We may not be aware of this but our cells know and our feet remember, which is why the effect on my mood could instantly be felt the minute my feet touched the earth.

It is common knowledge that touch is very important in relationships, especially between mothers and children. We instinctively long to touch our lovers as a way of promoting intimacy, which also fosters a feeling of safety. If we have long since forgotten the importance of touching the Earth then it’s no wonder that we generally see her as cold and dead. In reality it’s the other way round – we have turned cold towards the organism that continues to sustain us with life.

What I find particularly interesting is that even our concept of career and vocation which supposedly revolves around our work on Earth seems to operate in a void. The range of valid careers in our cultural mind seems to be limited to the system we have created, all based on a concept of money which doesn’t exist. I often feel that my desire to work with Earth energies seems airy fairy. However seeing that our world revolves around a system of money that is based on thin air I am quite tempted to believe that our reality is less substantial than the actual forces that make the world keep turning. The world we have created seems to operate in a space on a solid empty platform whilst nature is largely ignored. I wonder how many people still notice the sun coming up in the morning, the plants teeming with a life of their own or the subtle magic contained in mountains and the ocean. These things have become completely irrelevant to us as human beings except as a backdrop to “doing” that either goes unnoticed or at best provides some pleasant decoration. We have forgotten about “being”, perhaps nature’s most important lesson. The world actually goes round of its own accord and we don’t have to interfere with the process. Being ourselves is enough as it is in this way that we feel connected to the essence of everything else.

Returning to barefoot running, this is actually a topic of its own. A runner that attempts to go barefoot having worn shoes for a very long time will discover in the initial phases that his lower legs aren’t nearly as strong as they should be. A lot of muscles will need to be rebuilt in order for him/her to attain proper balance, which will eliminate injuries. On a symbolic level I don’t think this only pertains to running. As human beings we have become disconnected from our roots because we haven’t been in touch with them. Maybe feeling the earth with our bare feet could be a step towards becoming aware of the larger picture, outside of what we concern ourselves with in our daily lives. Figuratively speaking, our lower legs have become too weak due to being out of practice. Only when we restore our point of contact with the earth will we return to balance and be free of the injuries caused by disconnection.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Changing Consciousness and its Implications for Reality

I didn’t have a clear opinion about whether I would buy into the idea of 2012/2013 and what it meant for changing consciousness on the planet. Whilst 2012 was quite a hard year for me, supportive friends have told me that things would get easier. I wasn’t sure I believed them because it felt to me that things were always going in cycles which were more or less the same. However I can honestly say that my friends were right. Things have changed drastically for me over the last year or so, mostly in terms of the way I viewed things. Insights that I didn’t have before would come to me from nowhere. Whereas before my struggles had mostly been internal, I became more and more aware of how things operated on a collective level. I recognised that my issues aren’t weaknesses in myself but perhaps an indication of what humans go through based on what we buy into. The more I moved to a space where I was having a critical look at global problems versus having a critical look at myself, the less concerned I would become about my own success. Not because I’m more altruistic and less egotistic but just because it’s too draining to for ever try getting ahead or being better than I am.

I would like to highlight a few insights that came to me from nowhere – the “in-between” spaces. To start with, the circle as a symbol has spoken to me lately. This was initiated by my visit to Stonehenge last week, a mysterious stone circle in England dating from ages past. A post-visit meditation plus a few other coincidences presented the following ideas.

All things are connected. We are made of the same stuff. This is not my own idea but one that has been repeated many times by many seekers, perhaps because eventually we all come to the same conclusion. Dust we are and to dust we shall return. Perhaps that is also why the Earth is a globe and has an elliptical orbit around the sun. Everything is in flow and the Universe flows through us. It is not linear but if we allow the light of love to shine through then we are as a circle providing a hollow container for the flow of God. That is when we are on the bridge between the visible and the invisible, the space where we are all things and therefore don’t need to be anything other than what we are. What we want is readily available for us to BE if we recognise that we don’t even need to be it; it is what we are. In this place where we aren’t looking for anything, good things come to us from nowhere.

Reality is But a Projection
Reality is our instrument just like we are Love’s instrument. The problem comes in because we believe that things are the other way round – that we are at the mercy of reality and that love is our instrument. That is when we start to suffer because we want to use love to fulfil our own needs. When we believe and trust in Love we allow it to flow through and transform our reality.

We Don’t Need to Have Our Dreams Come True
We are the dream and we love dreaming. Everything we dream of is already here, inside us. If we can access the dream we can pull it from thin air and bring it into reality. Once we realise that, all we need to do is share our dreams with the world. Within our own dream there is also the seed of everyone else’s dream. Sharing and living our dream, shining it out through love will also wake up the souls of others to realise their dormant dreams. We are the same light and the same dream, just like we are made of the same stuff.

Changing the Nature of Reality
In a world where fear-based systems prevail it can be hard to live the flow of the circle. I often have the feeling of bumping my head against a brick wall trying to realise my dreams since the structures of authority are pyramid-based. Within this paradigm there will always be someone at the bottom and we will continue to re-create the problems we are having. Identities are boxed in and we forget who we are. We become our possessions, which are also meaningless unless we believe in what they symbolise. At the risk of being labelled a conspiracy theorist I’ll confess that I get the impression our minds are being controlled so we could be sheep in favour of supporting a system from which a minority draws benefit. We believe we have to fall in with it in order to survive which is ridiculous because what we really need is supposed to be provided by Nature.

To me it sometimes feels impossible to change the way things are – the nature of the world we know. It is run and controlled by crystallised structures which are based on nothing at all. But once we see that, we have the choice to continue believing we have to fall in with it in order to survive or, on the other hand, believe in what we would like to believe in, making it reality. Fighting the system or worldly order is futile. However if we allow the dream to flow through us (or flow to dream through us?) and we operate from where we are with awareness of love, I believe that we can transcend the old order and move to a new dimension where all things are possible. Once the old is no longer useful, it will fall away. It is easier for us to move or adapt if we are in flow than it is to shift an ingrained system on the level where it was created. Recognising that what we need is right here, right now will bring it into this world. This is not only a fact, but a necessity.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Sorrow Deserves a Mention

Amidst the hype of new age spirituality about the laws of attraction, I think the role of sorrow is forgotten. Sorrow is important too and I think it deserves a mention because of its power to shape our characters. When chasing the light, we tend to forget about the darkness that keeps the light in balance, making us whole and enabling growth. We can become so obsessed with enlightenment that we forget that love encompasses the ups and the downs, the losses and gains, the ebbs and the flows. It’s all part of being human. Instead of focusing so much on what we would like to become, maybe we could occasionally lift the veil of our souls and take a look at what is there already. We might want to extend a hand of welcome to the friends that lurk in the dark corners of our minds.

Perhaps the reason why we overlook sorrow is because it isn’t as simple and straight forward as “success”, “money” or even “depression”, for which we can prescribe an intervention in the form of advice or a strategy even when it’s not in the form of medication. Sorrow is a bit different because there is no answer to it. It is Life having its way with us, reminding us that ultimately we are not in control. We are thrown into a blender as a cruel joke to see what comes out on the other side. Often we have no choice but to become a better person having known the hard side of life or else our souls would shrivel away with bitterness and hate.

Sorrow takes on different guises because there are different kinds: the kind that we create for ourselves as a result of bad choices and the kind that just happens to us without us having any control over it. When sorrow is a result of bad choices, Life is calling us to make better choices. A good dose of ownership is often helpful to facilitate Life’s agenda for us. I associate the other kind with the Grim Reaper, regardless of whether actual Death is involved or not. It’s this kind of sorrow that draws my attention, not only because of the role it has played in my own life but because of what I see in the lives of others and its paradoxical interplay of light and darkness.

The Grim Reaper traditionally appears as a skeleton with a scythe in its hand. This shows its power over life: when it comes with its scythe to end it, there is no escape. Death ultimately conquers us, being the only certainty of life. But the fact that Death exists enables Life to triumph, because it’s the ultimate deadline that urges us to make the most of what we have. When a life is fully lived, Death is not an enemy but a friend escorting the soul to the next phase.

Sorrow isn’t always synonymous with physical death but it is as much a fact of life, although some people get more of it than others. As in the case of Death, we stand before Sorrow having to acknowledge that at times we are powerless against the forces of life. Ultimately all we can do is surrender. When we allow it to transform us and have the courage to look it square in the eyes, it will walk away of its own accord. At some point it will remind us that we have a life that needs to be lived. If we greet it as a friend and are willing to take its lessons to heart, often it will be Sorrow itself telling us that we have known enough heartache and it’s time to be happy. The scars of sorrow may remain for some time. Whilst some may feel broken because of it, I often see the light shining brighter from those who have been touched by its hand. 

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Notion of Work as a Treadmill

We have this thing called work entirely wrong. It’s upside down and it’s no longer working. Working in the way we know it isn’t the law of nature i.e. survival of the fittest, it is the product of our limited resources based consciousness. We strive for endless economic growth and in the process we have created a system that benefits a few while the rest of the world has to suffer. We assume it has to be this way and nobody really asks how we got here in the first place. The more comfortable we are, the less inclined we are to question and yet somewhere, deep down, we know that something is wrong. It is time for transformation because the system we have created is collapsing.

An unexpected thread recently presented itself in the course of my conversations with people, mostly through work. In the job that I have left very recently, I tried to help people in their business wherever I could. Yet at some point during some conversations with clients I became tempted to switch off my business persona and listen to them as people – meaning REALLY listen, understand their challenges and commiserate where appropriate. This often involved acknowledging that I didn’t have all the answers and in that way exposing myself, risking looking like an idiot. The interesting thing was that occasionally the roles were reversed and the client would listen to me as a person and advise me on how to handle my approaching life changes (involving leaving my country). The common theme that emerged was that people are tired of being on a treadmill. They have to work more and more for less and less money and they start asking themselves what the point is.

My mother used to tell me that money makes the world go round. This is such a profoundly untrue statement and yet it’s the belief that society is based on. The world goes round of its own accord and life renews itself without our interference. If anything, we just destroy what is given to us for free in favour of making space for things we can make money of. Looking at the way society functions, we have to have money to get by and yet if we take arbitrary things out of the equation then I wonder how much we really need. Civilisation didn’t get there all by itself and yet I wonder what the money and the work that made it all happen is based on. It’s not even the same in every country. I was taught that if you work hard it will pay off. Yet when I started working in “the system” I realised how far from accurate this statement is. If we understand the original idea behind work from an existential and cosmic perspective better then I think we might come closer to the truth.

I’ve never been a fan of laziness  and yet looking around me at all the things that “money” produce I think it’s based on symbols, belief and magic more than hard work, necessity and survival of the fittest. When I was younger and having trouble getting through a school day I would occasionally have anxiety about “surviving” when I grew up. I was afraid that I might at some point just become too tired to work in the same way that I was too bored/tired at school to listen in class and do my homework like I was supposed to. I remember being told once that I should enjoy being a child because once you grow up you are no longer carefree but weighed down by responsibilities. On the one hand I thought that it was impossible because being a grown up meant that you could do whatever you wanted to. On the other hand I didn’t enjoy much being a child and was wondering how much worse it could get once I grew up. It also makes me ask the question, if life sucks so much and the treadmill is a fact of life then why is it another “fact of life” that we have to perpetuate the cycle by bringing new life into the world? The “normal” course of life is to “grow up” in the way your parents see fit so you could also be a responsible individual one day – one who would earn enough money to provide for the family (if you’re a man) or always sacrifice your own desires for everyone else (if you’re a woman). This is to protect the children that you would raise so they could be responsible, bored and miserable individuals like yourself one day. Once you’re thirty, you have to be settled, rich and have a family or you’re a misfit at best, a drifter at worst.

I recognise the tiredness that I dreaded as child in others and even when it’s my job to tell clients that they “should” be putting in more effort, I would rather sympathise. The dreamer in me wants to know what society would be like if everyone thought differently about work. Perhaps in the world that we live in now, work is a means to “get by”; a necessity rather than a choice. Yet when you want to apply for a job, potential employers expect you to be “enthusiastic”, “driven”, “passionate” etc. like you’d work on their objectives for the love of it rather than because you need the money.

We misunderstand work. The new age spiritual teachers would tell you that “thought is creative” and yet people often forget about the importance of action. Work is the action that provides the fuel to our thoughts. I don’t think there is any more powerful way to create ourselves and society than through what we put into our work. In a purely material sense it means that if you do certain work you would get a certain something in return, based on the parameters that have already been established. In a more direct sense, work is much more than that. It is our means of bringing ourselves into the world and it is possibly the most potent tool we have of collectively creating the world.

Work as I like to believe it was originally intended is about love and authenticity. It is why we exist and how we create meaning in life. It is our answer to life’s most important question – who are you? The answer might not lie in the fixed label of an invented profession, but in defining ourselves through our actions in response to life’s challenges. It is also the way in which we reinforce our beliefs about ourselves and the world to our subconscious mind. If we believe that we will never have enough and have to suffer in order to gain recognition and that is the way in which we work then we will always be on a treadmill. If we believe that we have a gift to bring and that the world can benefit from it then we might succeed in bringing more light to our surroundings. Work is about the pleasure of creating what we would like to see in the world.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Power of Music and Our Lives as Songs

Music has an interesting effect on me. When I listen to (good) music whilst training, I train much harder with less effort. I don’t feel any more tired afterwards and I’m in an even greater mood the rest of the day than through exercise alone. I like to imagine that my good mood is contagious and that the people around me also benefit from my elevated energy levels. I am convinced that no anti-depressant can be even half as potent as the combination of good exercise and good music.

The effects of dancing to good music are even more powerful. When I feel music in my bones, I let it take over my entire being. I lose track of the different notes and the lyrics become irrelevant. Even the theme of the song disappears as I am possessed by the passion where it springs from. Depending on the energy of the song, I am transported to another landscape, the one where dreams are born. Allowing this rhythm to infuse my being, I am connected to the stars whilst feeling the energy of Mother Earth rising up through my feet. I don’t even know what my body is doing as I merge with the core of some passionate idea that came into existence as a song. My batteries are charged and afterwards I often find my head buzzing with ideas urging me to express them. When I come out of my trance, I feel spaced out and would wonder who on earth needs drugs when you can get high as a kite on dancing, without the side effects.

I don’t know many people who don’t love some form of music and yet I’m not sure we realise what a potent and important tool it is. Those who banned it (with dancing) in certain countries and eras must have realised its power. I often think that the value of art isn’t fully appreciated in the culture I live in. Art is a nice to have rather than a necessity – the necessities are mostly limited to getting bread on the table and remaining stuck in our treadmill lifestyle. The true artists understand on a deeper level that music is more than a few notes stringed together or a product of the intellect. It is an expression of the soul. The more sincere the art is and the deeper the place that it comes from, the greater is its power to stir something in someone else, waking them up to their deepest desires also. It connects us to the fabric of which life is woven, asking us to remember what we would like to bring into the world. The power of music is to inspire in us dreams of the world we would like to see so we in turn may influence rather than for ever reacting to what has already been established.

Creating art is an interesting process because there is some ambiguity about how the art came into being. On the one hand, the artist seems to be the creator. On the other, the artist is merely the channel through which ideas express themselves. The best art comes from a place beyond the mind, pushing itself into being through the artist as vessel. In that sense, the idea chooses the artist and will badger him in some way or another until he shares the light with the world.

I could think in the same way of us being dreams in the mind of Creator. Looking at it that way, music teaches us something about our lives. If we want to be truly creative and live from the place where good music comes from, we have to find the songs of our souls. It’s not something we have to invent: the songs of our souls are there, waiting for us to sing them. To make the effect even more potent, we have to dance them into the world, translated as bringing our light into the world through action. I don’t think what we busy ourselves with is even that important. What is more important is that we are connected to the flow whilst acting, because that is how we will transform our reality.

Living life from the place where good music is born can free us of the necessity to always have to get somewhere or obtain something. Bringing our song to the moment we are in is a good place to start creating a lighter, freer world.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Transforming Guilt to Freedom

Guilt is an interesting thing that caught my attention this week, making me think about its origins. To those who have walked away from traditional religious doctrines, guilt has a bad reputation. From that point of view it is something that imprisons us, having been used as a tool to control our minds. However there is also another aspect of guilt, that of our conscience talking to us. From that perspective it is a compass that tells us where we have deviated from the path that would take us to our desired destination. According to some psychological perspectives, moderate feelings of guilt are necessary but excessive guilt causes problems for mental health. The question is where to draw the line between moderate and excessive. Seeing that traditional paradigms of psychology want everyone to be as close to normal as possible I think I’ll discard that point of view. Being normal can easily translate to being mediocre and when I look around me I’m not sure I want to be normal anyway.

Having had my own struggles with guilt or the lack of it, especially in the cultural context that I live in, I now think that a lot of it is based on misunderstanding of what is good for the self and others. I have often felt conflicted by the fact that those who seemed to be most likely to impose guilt on others were least likely to take ownership for their own actions. I assumed that the world was fair and right because I was told that it was. So often I questioned my own faculty to reason in a world where my views seemed upside down. One example is the fact that it looked to me like women were expected to put others before themselves more often than men. I never understood it having been under the impression that the religious teachings introduced to me applied to everyone. Another example was the fact that it was unlawful for normal citizens to kill another person but the same rules didn’t apply when the state waged war. What was more interesting was the fact that everyone seemed to be OK with it.

One thing I can say with reasonable confidence is that those who should feel guilty are least likely to do so. Looking at it that way, guilt is perhaps an indication of higher awareness of the impact of one’s actions on others. But is lack of guilt when it would perhaps have been useful an indication that someone is a bad person? I’m not convinced – it is more likely an indication that they’re stupid or ill. I don’t think that guilt imposed from the outside would help someone take ownership for their actions anyway. People can change their ways only when they wake up and that will happen when they choose to do so.

Guilt that is actually felt is a different matter. If people are tortured by feelings of guilt for certain actions, why do they do it? Religion would tell us that we were born in sin and are slaves to the desires of the flesh if our faith isn’t strong enough. But I think guilt and freedom are opponents that sit on different sides of the same table. It is choice and understanding that will open the door to a new way of being. Conflicting desires is part of our nature and the tension is often what keeps us moving forward. Bringing to light the different aspects of ourselves gives us greater power to create our reality since it’s often the parts that we deny or suppress that run the show.

As far as our relationship with society is concerned, guilt has an interesting relationship with happiness. I can’t decide whether we are expected to be happy or not. I had a conversation with a friend this week who told me about the negative reactions of others to his inclination to pursue his dreams. I could relate to his experience since I have also felt on numerous occasions that people would argue with me when I made it clear that I would do things my way regardless of whether or not it would maintain the status quo. My friend said that he gets the feeling that some family members see him as irresponsible for chasing his dreams. When I thought about it, I realised that those who willingly took on a certain role prescribed by society that perhaps didn’t fit them so well were most likely to try to persuade me that my choices made no sense.

On the other hand, I have also felt guilty many times because I was unhappy. This meant either that I wasn’t grateful for what I had or I was flawed because of my inability to make myself happy. In this instance guilt had two connotations, either one of selfishness or one of failure. I can only come to the conclusion that when guilt is imposed from the outside, it is because others expect us to be happy in a certain way. If we’re true to ourselves we might threaten the status quo and make others uncomfortable. In the spirit of Carl Rogers, this implies a fundamental distrust of the organismic valuing process.

When guilt is an obstacle in the way of our freedom, we need to go about carefully in order to free ourselves. Discarding old notions of right and wrong in favour of doing whatever we want to might not give us the freedom we want because we still have to take the consequences of our actions. However I’m tempted to believe that aligning with our soul purpose would help us move to a new understanding of what is good for ourselves and for the whole. Without advocating complete inconsideration for others, I think that often those who hurt or harm us are doing us a favour. In the end life asks us to live authentically and find happiness. If that is the path we choose we will help others to do the same for themselves, regardless of whether everyone will always feel comfortable with our actions or not.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Embracing the Unknown

Something interesting happens when we set out in search of truth. At first we discover that we think differently to the rest of the world. When we are in conflict with the world, it’s quite hard to figure out who is right and who is wrong. I don’t mean this in the judgemental sense of the word, but rather who is closer to the truth. I find that when my views are very different from the rest of the world and I feel conflicted about it, I oscillate between thinking that I am for sure right on one hand or on the other that I am completely clueless and the world has to be right.

If I look closely at my need to be right, it looks like I have to justify the path I have chosen by proving that my way is better. Thinking of it that way, it seems to me that I don’t have faith in my chosen path. It’s when I take another step back that I realise it’s perfectly OK to be uncertain, to feel down at times or to get stuck occasionally. The further I go, the more I realise that I’m not here to master anything but rather to be myself and live my life. Moving to wholeness is about accepting the light and the darkness within me, not about denying an aspect of myself that would re-surface somewhere else. It’s in the imperfect moments that the door opens for love to flow in and shed some light.

The magic most often happens when I’m at a dead end. I embarked on the path that I’m on in an effort to seek healing for myself and others. Yet in some way it feels that I didn’t have much of a choice – the pull from my subconscious mind to live authentically was too strong. I started out thinking that I would, as so many others who have gone before me, get to a place where I am better, more whole, more in control. The truth is that as I move along, I am faced with more uncertainty. The closer I come to the “truth”, the more often I am confronted with the void of meaninglessness and existential despair. Far from being more sorted out than when I started, I have come to accept the fact that I will never “get there”. Because of that, I have a greater appreciation of the small things in life. Accepting my human struggles brings me closer to the in between space where happiness comes from, the space of nothingness where the Universe truly communicates with me.

Acknowledging that one doesn’t know is the place where miracles are born. It is the point at which one is ready to experience something new. It is in the moments we don’t understand that our eyes really open up to the wonder of the universe, enabling us to experience life as a blessing.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Choose Your Game Wisely

People who embark on the path of self-discovery realise at some point that there is nothing to master in life, nothing to “get right”, nothing to be better than what you already are. It often takes a crisis to shake someone out of their state of sleep-walking. When travellers on this path start waking up, there is no turning back really. The subconscious mind was one step ahead of the conscious and wanted to move to a new level before the ego was willing to let go of old structures of meaning.

Moving beyond the standards of the world is an interesting process. It is very liberating yet it can cause a lot of anxiety. It is the point where one realises that it is up to oneself to create meaning in life and define oneself. Nobody is responsible for the choices that you make and the experiences that you have but you. It doesn’t mean that all experiences have to be good and if they are not then you have failed in some way. It also doesn’t mean that you have to stop making mistakes or else you’ll be in trouble. What it means is that ultimately you and Life are alone in a sacred dance. There will be actors on your stage but ultimately it’s you and Life that will determine where you’re going.

As soon as one starts to see through the games the world play, the temptation is there to want to throw it all out the window and refuse to move because it’s all just a game anyway. But existence dictates that you have to play a game. Whether you tell the world about your own game or simply play along with everyone else’s is up to you to decide. The true poets/artists/warriors will be tortured by their dreams until they have no choice but to live the life they were born to live, or die trying. In the end the important thing is not whether one is successful but whether one has the courage to give it a go.

When you listen to Life it will tell you which path is the best one for you to take. Since you have to play a game anyway, you might as well be the best player you can be. It’s not about winning – you are the one who makes the rules anyway. It’s about being the lead actor on your own stage and being in love with the story that you write.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

How to Handle Rejection

Everyone has to face rejection at some point or another. Recently I have faced quite a few rejections in a row, which could be discouraging. They weren’t unexpected at all in the context of either limited resources or a very small likelihood for success. Nevertheless, the first few put me down rather badly. The last two or three were still gloomy but I rebounded faster.

I talked to other people about my plans and told them that I expected rejection.  I was told that I shouldn’t be negative, but the wisest person told me just to persevere. Interestingly I feel that being more comfortable with rejection is not an indication of low self-esteem or accepting defeat – quite the opposite actually. My attitude to rejection is changing the more I believe that miracles are possible and that I could leave my desires to the Universe to manifest. Rather than seeing rejections as a barrier, I choose to see them as an opportunity for building self-confidence and finding my path in life.

The word rejection doesn’t sit well with most people. I have sometimes found that I’m almost afraid to read or contemplate the word for fear that it would imprint itself on my mind and manifest in my reality. Yet pushing the word below the surface doesn’t help. The things that come from our subconscious mind that are less than nice to behold can best be healed by calling them out from the shadows. When one takes a proper look at them, they cease to be a threat. So rejection also asks us to confront it full on, without fear. When seen in the light, its guise can easily change from a monster in various hues of menace to an angel that beckons opportunity, illuminating the ways of trust and faith as viable options.

When looking at it closely, rejection means that someone doesn’t want us, they think we’re not good enough or they’re just not interested in what we have to offer. Looking at all my past rejections it was the defeat perhaps more than anything else that I had to overcome. The only way to overcome the urge to give up is to get up from the dust and try again. When I look at the rejections in themselves though I cannot think of any instance in which I can truly say that what I wanted was better than what I eventually got. Fair enough, I couldn’t pursue the paths where the doors closed for me. Yet my resolve and self-belief were tested and I came out stronger on the other side, rendering the closed doors a gift.

When one gets rejected the question to ask is whether one wants to internalise the world’s standards as one’s own. The alternative is to be the one to define the standards, believe in them and bring them into the world. You might not convert everyone but you would convert a few. In the end the worst thing you could do is play along with someone else’s game just to maintain their approval. It would eventually become draining, if not disempowering.

In instances where one actually has to play the world’s game, rejection could mean that you just aren’t good enough yet. In which case you have the opportunity to persevere, improve and try again. If you lose interest then it wasn’t the road for you and the right one would show itself if you keep walking and maintain a positive attitude.

Rejection tests our self-belief. It entices us to ask the questions of how we would like to define our success and how we want to be loved. If the answer boils down to being ourselves then we return to the treasure within and we know where to find our power.

Rejection doesn’t mean failure. The only failure would be to cease trying. Where we apply our efforts with love, success is guaranteed. If I had to measure my self-worth according to what others thought of me (positive or negative) then I would have missed the point – success and acceptance would lose their meaning.

In pursuit of our dreams the true magic happens when we start trusting that the right things will come about in their own way and time. Although we might not always understand what’s going on, our path will be paved if we keep walking. There is nothing better we could do than be true to ourselves and continue in pursuit of our heart’s desires. Rather than always yearning for something better, we show our gratitude to the Universe by accepting what we have, knowing it’s what is best for us. In this way we bring more good things into our life. Surrendering to a will higher than our own is the fastest way to transform limitations into opportunity.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

What I Learn from the Trees

Trees have a way of talking to me. Perhaps Tolkien’s portrayal of the Ents was a way of waking us up to the fact that trees have spirits. Over the last week or so they have been talking more loudly than usual in both my dreams and waking life. All of it built up to two days of spirit work where I spent time connecting with the essences of a handful of trees in Southern Africa in the Platbos forest. (Visit and for more information on the African Tree Essences).

Trees are a channel to the dream world. They connect the world of the sky where we find our dreams and aspirations to the earth where we have a solid base from which to act. Trees are sensitive to changes in the environment and adapt accordingly. When one of their limbs is severed they find a different path of growing. They move with the seasons, sensing what’s going on around them. When it’s cold, they withdraw into themselves, waiting patiently for the right time to come out again in full bloom. They know when it’s time to blossom, spreading their seeds for more of their own to grow.

When you talk to a tree gently, asking it to share its wisdom and holding your hands against its bark, you will find out about its own special power. They are more than just a shape growing out from the ground. They are the great transformers, breathing in filth and converting it to oxygen. They are the shaman’s portal to the otherworlds, the places where healing is found on an energetic level. The trees can tell you when you need to look at something in a past life to understand what’s happening now. They connect over space and time, talking to your soul through synchronicities and reminding you of your purpose in life. Journeying through the trunk of a tree, one awakens to larger cosmic perspectives, remembering that the reality we have now is not the only reality there can be. There have been many civilisations before us and there will be many more to come. If I want to make a difference to the world that I know now then I have to live my vision. Whilst I may have been persecuted in past lives because of it, all that is now over. Because I have the freedom to live as I choose, I have greater responsibility to be authentic.

The trees have taught me not only about unconditional love, unbending courage and perseverance when things get hard, but about the importance of intuition and living the magic within. They call me back to the world tree where my forgotten origins lie, asking me to claim my place as a shaman and have the courage to speak my truth.

Monday, 10 June 2013

What Does Happiness Look Like?

Happiness is an interesting thing because there doesn’t seem to be general consensus about what it actually is. Contemplating the word makes me think that it’s a feeling. Yet when I listen to people or when I look around at culture and media messages, I come to the conclusion that it might well be a picture. A few conversations I have had with different people about the topic come to mind.

A friend mentioned to me that he remembers being eight or nine years old and having a conversation with two of his friends. One of them said that he wanted to be a chartered accountant and the other one said he wanted to be a lawyer. My friend pointed out that at a child of that age cannot even know what being a CA or lawyer entails and that we’re culturally conditioned to believe we want certain things in life. This friend and I are in a similar situation in the sense that we feel called towards the way of the artist. Neither of us is really interested in going down the traditional route solely for financial security.

I remember talking to a family member a few years ago about the same topic. She said that being happy means that there is nothing bothering you. More recently I talked to another family member about a personal decision and the way I view things. The subject of happiness came up and I said that I didn’t think people value happiness enough. She was quite surprised and said that she thought they did. I think she probably couldn’t understand why I saw things that way and I couldn’t quite understand how she thought that people valued happiness. On the other hand, my status as a misfit can mostly be ascribed to the fact that I don’t seem to want the same things out of life as most of the people I know. In retrospect it makes sense.

The way in which people generally present themselves often makes me think that everyone is super happy. I sometimes wonder where I fall out of the bus when everything doesn’t look rose-coloured to me. Yet when I look at all that goes on in the world I don’t think I can be fooled that easily. If everyone really was that happy then the world wouldn’t have been in the state that it is in. Scratching a little bit deeper under the surface of the happiness that is presented to me I often find that a lot is swept under the carpet. Not that it has anything to do with me – other people’s lives are none of my business. Yet the psychologist Carl Rogers’ theory of the organismic valuing process and incongruence comes to mind. Carl remains one of my all-time favourite psychologists because he seemed to have believed in people’s natural tendency to be whole. When looking around I cannot help but wonder if the general concept of happiness has become one of Carl’s “ideal self” (the one that can never be obtained) rather than the one of Carl’s “real self” (that which we are, in progress – a process of growth).

Thinking about what happiness represents to me (if I had to picture it) a few things come to mind. One of them is an archetype; let’s call her the Earth Goddess. She wanders in forests and thrives during night time. She is made from the same substance as the trees, the rivers, and the night sky and has an ethereal quality. I see her dancing in a spiral of light coming from the stars and the moon. The light that she receives from the heavens is sent forth into the world.

Another image that comes to mind is that of a flame that moves really fast through forests in the night, about a meter and a half or so above the ground. It’s like a miniature representation of a comet that moves parallel to the earth’s surface. The flame is continually on the verge of breaking through an invisible barrier. I’m not sure what would happen if it breaks through; I think there will be no more flames and it will move much faster as pure energy without its physical attributes. I’ll call the flame the spirit of a runner. It’s not surprising I see it that way because I’m probably the happiest person alive when I’m doing a half marathon on a scenic route.

But happiness is much more than an image. It is watching the orange of the sunset blending into the blue and black of the night sky with the silhouette of the mountains and thinking, this is just amazing and I am so grateful to be alive just to be able to witness it. It is knowing that no matter how many times my heart has been broken, I can still choose to love. It is knowing that for as long as there are still people making music and my body is in sound condition, I can dance for the sheer joy of it. It is knowing that no matter how tired I am of trying and failing, the song in my heart will always return. Happiness is triumph over suffering; it is life itself wanting to continue expressing itself. It is knowing that my natural inclination is to return to a state of wholeness. It is the urge to survive because I love life so much. The spirit of the runner that I visualise as a comet on ground level is not about winning others but about personal victory because no matter how tired one is, one can still continue running.

Happiness is being able to recognise the songs other people are singing and to identify with it. It is knowing that no matter how lonely I am, there are others who have come before me and there will be others who will come after me.

I remember a family holiday to Southern Africa we had when I was a teenager. I can’t remember where exactly but I think it was in Zimbabwe, late one night in the midst of political unrest. We drove past a local shebeen with the most beautiful music coming from the place. It didn’t sound anything like a professional band yet it was far more moving. People were singing and it sounded like they were using kitchen utensils for instruments. What I remember is not what the songs sounded like but what I felt when listening to the music. I felt connected to something larger than myself. I felt like I could see into the souls of the people making the music and feel their experiences in my heart. My father’s best friend wouldn’t stop talking about it for days. He remarked that it was the best music he had ever heard. He had simply wanted to join the people’s company for the sheer joy they emanated through their music.

Happiness is being able to sing the song of your soul despite all of life’s setbacks. It doesn’t always have to be a happy tune because sometimes the most beautiful notes are contained in a sad song. The happy person recognises that the beauty of the universe outside her is also within her. She knows that light will eventually come back to light up her life despite dark times. Happiness is the will to keep the sacred flame alive out of sheer gratitude for being here to experience it all.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Magic of Symbols

Where marketing, Jungian psychology and general observations come together I have discovered the magic of symbols. Every thought structure has symbols that represent it. The more people believe in these symbols, the more powerful they become. When one takes a step back and looks at them carefully, one discovers that they are representations of an idea that has gained power and momentum through belief. When we don’t recognise it and simply take them for granted as “the truth” rather than a construct, they dictate our reality.

The poem Ozymandiaz by Percy Bysshe Shelley comes to mind. I was fascinated by this poem when we analysed it in English class in high school. It made so much sense – the hunger for power, the ruler’s urge to deify himself – leaving monuments in his honour on earth after his soul has departed his body. While the physical material used to build the structure is still there centuries later, it has been eroded, leaving only ruins. One wonders what for. The leader is no longer there to appreciate his legacy.

In a similar vein, I watch snippets of Sky News when I can’t help doing so whilst cycling in the gym. I wonder at all the processions when there is some political congregation. It doesn’t look like there is a point to any of it other than a display of power. The reason why school kids wear uniforms is to discipline them into submission. The same can be said of the suit and tie as the corporate attire and the fact that jeans are not allowed on golf courses. It’s a little bit ridiculous and yet everyone accepts it because it’s what they’re used to.

Symbols speak to the subconscious mind, which explains why countries have flags and companies have logos. Most of the time we don’t question these symbols. They tell us what to believe and we fall in with it, assuming that they must have authority if they have survived. In a way it’s true because only the ideas that people believe in survive, yet most people don’t recognise their freedom to choose what they want to believe in.

The symbolism in being wealthy leads me to question why people want to make money. I’ll risk looking like an idiot and confess that I don’t understand money at all. Whilst in some sense it is a figure on a computer screen that determines how much one can buy, in another sense it is a floating ideology that decides the social order. We don’t desire the things money can buy because they truly make us happy, but because we attach a certain meaning to them which gives us a sense of security. The things we are sold are only significant for as long as we esteem them. To be free from the ideology of money rather than enslaved by it, we need to consciously bring our intentions to the way we work with it. If we use it in such a way that it makes us happy we will transform it, making it work for the benefit of the whole.

Whilst symbols can be used to influence us and control our minds, it is also Nature’s way of talking to us, telling us what we need to heal. She speaks to us about the power that we find inside through our connection to the whole. Recognising that we create our own internal universe frees us from the belief that we need anything in order to be happy.

The best things in life are free. Happiness can be chosen at any time because it comes from the space between something and nothing where there is no limited supply. The more we believe in it, the more we have of it and the easier it becomes. Happiness is right here, right now, not in the future where we will have all our ducks in a row or enough money to claim our freedom. The most exciting discovery one can make is that one doesn’t need anything to be happy.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Art of Being Original

Being an artist means one has to expose oneself. The energy of creativity will only have power when the artist creates from deep within his soul. She has to put a little bit of herself into her work in order to truly reach others. Art is appreciated and understood from a level beyond the mind. When an artist sincerely expresses himself, his art will inspire others to sing their own unique songs. It is the artist’s intention to create and his willingness to be open that make the dream world accessible, both for himself and his audience.

The artist’s biggest obstacle is the fear of exposing himself. It is much easier to find a way around his yearning to create by lying to his soul. He could tell himself that it is impossible to make a living as an artist, or that he could never be as good as other artists. He could make excuses, saying that it is too late to start or that he doesn’t have time.

Failing at something we don’t care about doesn’t really hurt. It is therefore much easier than failing at the only thing that we value with our entire being. This is what prevents the artist from cultivating his talent and trying to succeed at his true craft. It makes no sense, yet the artist tells himself that it is easier to cultivate a skill that doesn’t come naturally to him.

In the end it is frustration that frees the artist. The soul is clever and it knows that the artist will feel it when his soul is dying. It will refuse to accept his dispassion, for it knows that the true artist cannot handle numbness. She desires experience and is willing to endure pain in order to feel alive. The soul will not play along with indifference, for it knows that the artist wants to break free. She will eventually return to claiming her true identity and embrace the pain that goes hand in hand with creativity.

It is only through exposing oneself that true originality is born. Fear of rejection or failure is the artist’s greatest obstacle, and yet vulnerability is his greatest strength. When an artist is truly himself, he has the best chance of being great, because only then does he become all that he was born to be.