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.