When I was a child I used to equate love with the feeling of warmth. Being cuddled and appreciated.

When I was a teenager I used to see love as a special gift from God, as a power to influence the life of others.

As a young adult, I saw love as a power of transformation. I was able to discriminate between falling in love and being in love.

When I got married I understood that love was a choice.

When I became a mother I understood that love was responsibility.

My understanding of love has evolved a lot over the years. However, it was only when I have become a mother that I looked deeper. In all the years I have seen love as a relation. And in a sense, it is.

Love is a relation with myself. It begins inside.

Love is self-acceptance.

Let me explain.

In the famous 1st letter to the Corinthians, in the Bible, NIV, we read:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Think about this now.

If I accept myself, who I am, without any pride or disgrace, I have no need to prove myself to others. I don’t need to gain respect from others or please others. Love (self-acceptance) sets me free. I give myself permission to be the way I am, odd or weird, either norm or deception. It does not matter.

I do not bother if others like me or reject me as I do not need the approval of others. It is nice to have it but if I appreciate myself, I am OK with life. As I am content with who I am, I stand for the truth.

When I accept myself I become responsible for who I am. It is about knowing myself, all my sides, the glorious one and the ugly one.

I can love (accept) another person if I am free to give and receive. I used to see love as a relation to another person, my kids, my mother or my countrymen, but this aspect is secondary. The primary aspect is to know whom I am and accept myself. When I do this, I become mature.  The love to another emerges naturally from the love to self, as I am capable to stand up and create a partnership relation.

This sets me free from dependencies and conditionals. “I love you, because …” , “I love you, but …” This sets me free from expectations. “If only you do this or become that…”

This gives me personal power in any relation, because my relation is a reflection of my relation to self. So, if things do not go well, I am in charge to change myself in order to change the relation. So, to love means to accept myself, and to love means to accept the other in my co-operative relation.

When we read another famous quote from Mark 12:30-31, NIV:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

So I am to love God, accept the graceful hand in my life, and I am to accept my neighbors as myself.

Once I accept myself I am able to take responsibility for myself and my decisions. So, indeed, love is a choice, a transformational power.

It is also worth to say that in this context a child cannot love, simply because he is not shaped yet to be in a position to take charge of who he is. Of course kids fall in love with parents. He is nice, sweet, cute and adorable. It is great to give them cuddles and receive them. But in reality kids are dependent on parents, the social must’s and do’s, school life and so on. The child is not free to take responsibility of who he is. Not yet.

But a child is growing in love to learn what love is. It is therefore of a paramount importance for a parent to radiate own self-acceptance and create an environment of trust for the kids to grow.

Kids do things to please themselves, please their parents or sometimes because they are afraid of punishment. At some point, with age, they will get angry about the dependence they hold to the parents. They will rebel the norms and attempt to establish their own identity. This can be a painful process, as we know, where the Self is vulnerable to be heavily influenced by peers and external circumstances.

The crisis so prevalent nowadays with low self-esteem of kids and young adults reflects the lack of role models who loved themselves and the others.

Let us appreciate who we are. Let us be the role models for kids to learn to love.

 

 

 

 

This post comes originally from http://www.radiantcore.co.uk.

 

“Know yourself” sounds trivial but asks for the truest devotion to the process of learning who you are, including the Shadow Self. It is necessary for personal growth and, in my opinion, it is necessary for a meaningful life.

Knowing is recognising and accepting yourself, your both sides. There is one that comes from “light” and there is the other one that comes from “darkness”. What is “light” and what is “dark” is based on your own moral judgement.

Striving to be good

I used to think that my goal in life was to become spotless. As a young adult, after years of teenage rebellion, I finally come tot he point where I wanted to become honest and moral, living in praise to God. I spent years to approach the ideal, yet I was far from it.

What surprised me was this. The more pure I strived to be, the less holy I was.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

I did my best to improve myself.
I spent hours on internal practices.
I put all my heart in.
I dearly cherished the intention to love and do good to others. But …. there was a basic dissonance in me, an incongruence which led astray.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

It has taken me countless hours of reading, thinking and testing ideas. Until … one day …. I finally got it.

I “saw” the fault in my reasoning, which was this. I wanted to live by highest morals, but I chose to do it either by fighting or rejecting the shadow in me.

It did not work.

Why?

The answer seems to be a paradox. But … let me explain.

Duality

Our world is co-created by polarities. The duality is ever present.

Day and Night.
Work and Rest.
Heaven and Earth.
Fire and Water.
Individuality and Commonness.
Similarity and Difference.

Do you reject a night and decide to accept a day only? Can you choose not to rest or not to sleep? Can you work 20h a day? You can pretend you are doing it for some time, of course, but it will not work long term. Day and night define a rhythm and the natural way is to live in agreement with it.

There is a duality in us. As a start. The problem begins when you and I choose to fight it.

Shadow and the fight

Every Saint, every Holy person describes the fight with his or her Shadow. And again, the more holy they attempt to be, the more temptations they have. Read any of their texts and you will see it clearly. The Shadow (or Sin, or Alter-Ego, or however we name it) exists, whether you and I like it or not.

Yes, many years ago I used to think that I was called to fight the Shadow and conquer her. But with years and experience I’ve understood that Shadow is a part of me and I cannot truly defeat my Shadow, hence myself.

What Shadow needs is understanding not a fight.

Shadow is part of me and contains all unprocessed fears, expectations, imaginations and wishful thinking. It also contains disapprovals, dislikes, disappointments, perhaps also anger, hatred, social conditioning or traumatic experiences. Or more.

Shadow is part of me which is ugly and I don’t like it.
Shadow only grows in power because I have casted her away and marked as bad.

The truth is that Shadow is a part of me and needs recognition. It does not mean that I need to accept wrong doing that Shadow feels attracted to, perhaps. Instead, I need to give permission to my own negative feelings (as judged by myself) and outlooks, without extra emphasis or importance.

Let go

This is the key.

I simply notice and observe that, say, I am angry or furious at a given time. I allow my unholy thoughts to be there without any unnecessary excitement. I allow emotions to flow. I give permission to myself to find safe ways to let go of whatever comes.

Every emotion is healthy when it flows in a proper way. Sometimes it is necessary to shout and show anger. Sometimes it is necessary to cry. Sometimes it is necessary to be super sad, or furious.

As a therapist, I can testify how emotions (which often contribute to the Shadow) tense the physical bodies. I know how digestion is impaired because of grief, disappointment or stress. The emotions that are either repressed or in overflow. I know because I palpate the body and find the knots, stagnation or blocked valves (say between stomach and duodenum). Once I release the tension, the body fully relaxes. The person extends, smiles and often falls asleep.

It is a powerful moment when healing begins.

The paradox

The paradox is this.

If you want to know yourself, you need to see who you really are. From the tiniest level to the grandest perspective. This includes accepting yourself from all the angles you may pretend they do not exist.

Say, accepting the one who is afraid and small.
The one who is jealous or nasty.
The one who sits in the self-pity pit, mumbles and complains all the time.
The one who is constantly anxious what others would think of her.
The one who constantly blames others for her lack of progress.

So, the paradox is this.

You cannot fight your Shadow.
You cannot reject your Shadow.
You cannot neglect or cast away your “bad” part.
You cannot work on improving yourself by focussing on doing the “good” only.

Similarly, like you cannot pretend the night does not exist, by pretending there is only a day available to you.

You accept both a day and a night and live in congruence to what they bring. You live actively during a day and you calm down and rest at night.

Similarly, you accept both your (Light) Self and your Shadow Self. You choose to become your best active Self, but you also give a calm attention to your Shadow Self.

Shadow and Light

If you want to grow, if you want a lasting change, you need to shine light (which is conscious attention) on your Shadow Self to help her integrate with the Self.

Shadow lives in ignorance and kicks because she demands attention.

The attention is acceptance and understanding.

When this happens, the Self relaxes because she becomes an integrated Whole.

Who shines Light.

anger and pain deception

Anger, anxiety and emotions

I am at a crossroad.

Not exactly standing there, as I changed the paths a while ago, but still very conscious of the old path. It is challenging to walk in a new direction, which apart from passion and love, generates lots of anxiety. Every step is an effort in the presence of adversity, unfavorable circumstances and family commitments.

This transition time has made me search deep inside to find out how much divided I feel. I have again become conscious about the Body and Mind separation I have created in my life.

Unity relies on co-operation between various organs and their channels on a high level as the Chinese medicine says, or on the co-operation of cells deep inside. It is never fixed or frozen, but always balancing, changing to find its own harmony at the very moment.

In the Chinese medicine, you appreciate the individual components, but you emphasize their relations. You always reflect on the context as well as the individual. Unity also relies on letting us recognize emotions, including unpleasant ones such as anger, which are then expressed in safe ways.

According to the Chinese medicine specific emotions influence particular organs, while the condition of the organs influence us to experience particular emotions. For instance anger and frustration will influence the condition of liver. There is always a feedback loop, a subtle dance between our Thoughts, Emotions and the Physical. They all co-create who we are.

The emphasis on emotions made me more conscious about my own. I usually have the come-and-go relation with my emotions. At times I become more conscious of them, to only neglect them later.

I have had a busy and stressful life for many years now. It was partly generated by unpredictable consequences of earlier choices, partly by the events, and partly by my response to them.

Nothing in life had prepared me for what was supposed to be a blissful motherhood. Despite my own efforts to create it so, it was not.  The kids, truly a blessing in my life, have also come with challenges I had no idea how to deal with. Their being poorly and my constant search to help them get well, fear for their survival, sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion, resign from job, sacrifice of own passion and sanity at times, inability to catch up my breath made me strong on the surface but vulnerable inside.

I had to push hard to make it through and I did.

My kids have made a tremendous progress since then. They have just began to leave their handicaps behind and slowly open their wings to fly. I really appreciate that.

Anger repressed

Nevertheless, all this has left a mark. For years I have unconsciously repressed my anger for the way things did happen. Life has come with a wild and scary ride, far different than the ideal I envisioned.

This year I have some time for introspection. Yes, I am angry for how things did happen. Logically, it doesn’t make sense, of course, as life just happens. There were things beyond my control, and even if I could have had an influence, I had lacked skills or knowledge. I could have only done my best which I did. I know it. My mind knows it. I understand it is useless to feel angry. But I cannot deny that I am.

Really angry.

I allow this anger to surface and be expressed. I talk to my brain and mind of how angry I am. I breathe some anger out, talk to myself or vent it through pillow hitting. I know it all sounds super silly, but it’s a child in me who got angry for the unbearable difficulties she had to face and did not know how.

Sure, it’s a call to grow and I recognize it. I have been consciously letting my anger surface. Knowledge is power and in this case, knowing my anger have existed and revolted my physical body, helps me to facilitate my growth now.

It takes time but I’m glad I have been doing it. As a result, my low back pain (a friend since the last pregnancy), fatigue and other physical pains began to wander in the body. It is very interesting to observe as it only provides a hint the ideas of Dr Sarno are correct.

Dr Sarno’s and Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)

If you have any chronic pain, fatigue or health problem, be it IBS, stomach ulcers, allergy, MI, chronic fatigue, or any auto-immune disorder, I challenge you to read his books. These are an easy read, in contrary to The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse by Steve Ray Ozanich, which although much more informational, is also harder to read.

Sarno’s points are very clear. We all become frustrated, unhappy or angry at some point. Sometimes we face loss or go through a traumatic event. The emotions are strong and powerful, yet we freeze in the moment in order to
sensibly deal with what will have to follow.

Also the pace of life and the stress of handling jobs, kids, family and finances is way too much for many. Yet, we have to be strong and manage. So, we do. Behind our conscious attention we repress anger or any other emotion related to stress, disappointment, embarrassment, shame and so on.

We don’t feel it. We don’t know it is there. We don’t even suspect it is there.

On the surface we are lovely, kind and gentle individuals.

Yeah … With hidden rage.

The understanding is that the mind doesn’t want to deal with the unpleasant feeling consciously so it moves unresolved conflict (say strong emotions but inappropriate to the situation) to the Subconscious or cast them as Shadow as Jung would have said. To prevent us from suspecting that Shadow exists, or the exploration of Shadow, the brain/mind focuses our attention on what is physical and can be felt instead: PAIN. Sarno calls is TMS – Tension Myositis Syndrome.

In his own words, from Healing Back Pain: The Mind- Body Connection:

“The word tension is used here to refer to emotions that are generated in the unconscious mind and that, to a large extent, remain there. These feelings are the result of a complicated interaction between different parts of our minds and between the mind and the outside world. Many of them are either unpleasant, painful or embarrassing, in some way unacceptable to us and/or society, and so we repress them. The kinds of feelings referred to are anxiety, anger and low self-esteem (feelings of inferiority). They are repressed because the mind doesn’t want us to experience them, nor does it want them to be seen by the outside world. It is likely that, if given a conscious choice, most of us would decide to deal with the bad feelings; but as the human mind is presently constituted, they are immediately and automatically repressed— one has no choice. To sum up, the word tension will be used here to refer to repressed, unacceptable emotions.”

Note that Sarno is not the usual guy, but a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine. Until his retirement in 2012 he was attending physician at the New York University Medical Center. So, he was certainly knowledgeable  about the physical body and pain. Yet, in his medical carrier he discovered that in majority of cases, the cause of pain is psychomatic (emotional).

His ideas are controversial in the main stream medicine, of course, so don’t be surprised his approaches are not promoted. You may also neglect them as silly, too, but before that, read on.

How TMS occurs

When emotions (think energy) are repressed they create blockage. The energy is stuck and this stuckness may be reflected in muscles, tendons, or nerves. Even more, strong emotions influence the way we breathe: often fast and shallow, or the way we keep our posture, often looking down, head in the shoulders, slouching and constricting the lungs.

We are often hyperventilating. This is usually caused by insufficient carbon dioxide dissolved in the body tissues (yes, it’s correct, these are the principles of Bohr effect, which calls for another post), which leads to oxygen waste, meaning our tissues are deprived from oxygen. As a result, instead of  effective cellular respiration, our body drives metabolism toward ATP-inefficient process of glycolisis. We have little ATP (energy currency) and we begin to feel tired.

Therefore, the biochemical process (behind the repressed emotions) is oxygen deprivation. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) will also diminish blood flow to muscle and nerve tissue. Blood flow is regulated by peptides (usually with hormonal activities) which tell blood vessels walls to constrict or dilate. This, in turn, influences the amount and speed of blood (and oxygen) in particular tissues.

From this point of view, when emotional energy is repressed it causes an inner tension throughout the working of ANS. Muscle and nerve tissues receive insufficient oxygen, and, in addition, the lymph experiences stasis because blood flow is diminished and the lymph nodes cannot release their waste products.

The result is physical pain, numbness, fatigue or weakness.

In summary, Mind (brain) will repress emotions into Subconscious because it chooses to prevent us from experiencing unpleasant feelings. This causes an inner tension in our nervous system, beyond our awareness, which leads to biochemical changes in muscles, tendons and nerves. This will create pain and we are deceived that the pain is the real problem, while in meantime Mind has only avoided the processing of uncomfortable feelings.

Conflict is spared and we focus on the physical.

And … We are stuck. The pain is there, we feel horrid and nothing seems to help us.

How to help yourself

You may consider the Sarno’s ideas plain and silly, especially if you experienced a physical trauma, say a herniated disc (but … according to Sarno herniated discs don’t cause pain), lifting a heavy load, or you have a medical cause, say gluten intolerance for your IBS.

But …

I encourage you to adopt a tester’s mind. You simply consider the Sarno’s ideas as true and you diligently test the hypothesis.

The mindset of a tester is a mindset of a person who likes to have fun and see what happens without any specific attachment to the results. Why? Because a test is meant to provide you with feedback. When you accept that you have been just testing, it is easy to modify the approach accordingly or truly abandon it if necessary.

Recognize any traumatic or difficult situation before the emergence of your pain or weakness. Is there any anger, sadness, grief, frustration, shame deep inside? If so, become conscious of it.  Face the dark feelings.

Let the emotions surface in safe ways. Choose to write down of what was bothering you, find a friend to pour out your heart, cry at home, make a collage to express your frustration, hit the pillow till you feel empty, or go and play tennis or football.

Find a way to channel your dark feelings, but above that – become conscious that they are there.

Face what is hidden in you. The treasure of unpleasant feelings waits there to be appreciated and transformed into a New you, without pain.

The only way forward in personal growth is to consciously participate in the positive and the negative, including the darkest nights.

***

Story, being gives rise to Doing

Being and Doing

Sometimes you decide to take a specific challenge in life, such as a pilgrimage to a Holy Place, writing and publishing a book, or finishing a marathon. Other times, the challenges will find you, whether you welcome them or not ;): How to raise a child as a happy and independent thinker? How to overcome crisis? How to support your recovery from a serious illness?

What is common is the underlying process. You are encouraged to open up and be transformed.

When a challenge is a real one, it usually involves a search or understanding about the meaning of life. What is it all about? As a result, the purpose of the journey (writing a book, taking part in a triathlon, solving a crisis) is to discover the importance of the road. And it will take time, experience, rebellion, disasters and tragedies, successes and disappointments, as well as appreciation for simple things in life: meal and shelter or sun rays on your face.

The challenge is not about what you want to achieve or what you have or have not achieved so far.

The challenge is about whom you are becoming.

Being gives rise to Doing. This is the first important sentence in this piece of text :).

If you focus on Doing mainly (which gives rise to Having), you may push beyond limits, reach fame and glory, but stay unfulfilled and empty inside. This often happens with people who have not learned to appreciate the road but focus on the Goal. Once the Goal is reached, the thrill is gone.

The Emptiness may become overwhelming and the person feels lost. Of course, there is another goal or summit to reach, so the road will continue. But…unless you learn to enjoy the ride, moment by moment and embrace the pains, you will stay unsatisfied.

It is so easy to miss the obvious. Being is content from What-is and in What-is. With all the pitfalls, pains and problems as well as the “I love you, mum” statements, beautiful moments and joy of being alive.

The obvious is this: my life and your life exists in this moment. This very moment, thanks to continuity, gives rise to eternity.

My challenge is life is that I feel I am in hurry. There are so many things I want to learn, practise and master, but so little time! I want to understand more. Are you with me on this?

In a sense, I want more but I also know that this is impossible. Perhaps, I am now taught to be patient and do one thing at a time.

Let me share my understanding, which I keep forgetting to apply to my own life.

Being in the Moment

Skills originating from Being are transcendental. This is the second most important sentence in this piece of text.

What is means is that they transcend a single application and can easily be applied in a different context.

If you cook well, for instance, your Being knows how to integrate individual products (principles, ideas, parts) to make a result, a totality, that is thrilling to the taste. Such a Being principle is easily enhanced or re-directed to become the Being who designs well, crafts well or writes well. Why? Because there is an intrinsic grasp of relations between the individual parts, as well as ways they influence each other, that you recognise on a deep level. It is a part of whom you have become.

Of course, it may take some learning to adjust to different type of material (say words instead of food) to enhance the understanding of relations and develop intuition, but as such, it is a transferable skill.

It means once your Being enjoys cooking, or writing, or designing, for the matter, your Being is able to enjoy any other task that is based on a holistic synthesis. You only need to trust the process of re-alignment.

Now comes the final part.

Life is a story

Your Being is realised through the story you are telling yourself. This is the third most important sentence in this piece of text.

What I mean here is a narration, thoughts and images you have with yourself and about yourself. As it is a daily narration, over the years, it becomes a story.

This is an insight I have got thanks to coaching.

Everything in my life and your life is a story, a comparison in a context or a metaphor.  There is a story you keep preserving for your own sense of homeostasis.

Whatever you think about your children, marriage, the car you choose to drive, brands of products you buy, your job or friends – it is a story. It doesn’t even have to be a wordy narration, it can be a silent movie. Most of stories (comparisons, metaphors) you hear multiple times, while others are re-hashed or re-invented from the collection of experiences, or modified by your reflection.

If in any day you carefully observe your thoughts or images or listen to the voice in your head/heart, you will find out that most of the stories do not stem from what you see or based on some objective truth. Instead, they are interpretations.

This is something I clearly realised when I was listening to a story from a life-threatening experience of my two friends.

Winter climb

Some years ago, they attempted a dangerous winter climb of one super difficult summit (in winter conditions and full snow) in French Alps. It was a remote summit, with the nearby village being closed and evacuated at the time (because of too much snow, but they did not know about this). The experience was tough and transformational, because it played with their survival. They could lost their lives.

They barely made it because they seriously underestimated the severity of conditions and their insufficient preparation in terms of food supply and equipment. Instead a 15h climb up and down, it took them more than two days with hardly any help available, no helicopters possible and no mobile phone reach. Just two guys relying on each other.

I heard the individual story from them both, one day after their coming back, after 20h sleep or so. There were completely two different stories, so different that I was unsure they were telling about the same climb. Both of them remembered things differently. Each of them was the hero to help the other. So, there were two stories, to begin with.

Because it was such a dramatic experience, both guys were telling this story to other friends and co-workers as we were eating lunch together at work. I heard the stories every day for nearly two weeks. What surprised me, however, was that both guys, after the second or third narration, began to alter the story.

The changes were significant. For instance, some key facts were replaced by other ones, or some decisions were totally opposite to the ones I heard in the first story. Not to even mention the timing of decisions, responsibilities they took, how they used equipment and so on. The stories began to live their own life, continually evolving.

I was shocked by this and when I pointed it out to both of them, they had no clue what I was talking about. They both thought I was bringing false notes to their cherished story! They both believed that the say 5th story I heard was the truth they experienced, yet in my view, paramountly different to what I heard for the first time.

This is really amazing to realise that even false stories of experience we have not had or imagined facts, we can take as granted to have been parts of our life. If somebody keeps suggesting them long enough or you simply like to believe them, your brain may not only consider a particular experience a fact, but it will also fill any missing gap to make it into an image or story to make it feel true.

Of course, you may also suspect that it was me not remembering the details correctly especially that the stories were different to begin with. But even if this was a case, one insight was appalling. The “touch and feel” of the stories have changed significantly over the two weeks. First, it was more of a story “I was terrified, I am lucky to be alive” changing later into a story “I had courage and intelligence to hack the life circumstances”.

But also,  with the narrative over the days, the two hero stories shifted slightly into a common effort of wining.

Interesting, isn’t it?

In that sense we can be tricked. But such an experience tells us that we believe in the truth with respect to the way we interpret the experience.

***

There is a deep context to any of your experience which strongly colours what you perceive. It is called bias in science.

There are per-conceived notions,well-defined terms, either heard or preached to you over time, which direct your interpretation to keep the story coherent. This is also why advertisements work and we may prefer Coke to Pepsi, or choose a particular washing powder to another one. It is a story in which you are a believer that a particular product is better or more effective.

Repetitive experiences, preaching, imperative rules of do’s and don’ts or news headlines train our brains daily to make associations and, with time, strong patterns. So, at some point you may believe that the best coffee is dark Arabica, necessarily drank as double espresso with the Channel Island milk, the mobile phone can only be iphone, and a standard for a marriage is a partnership where both partners split their tasks and responsibilities half-half. These are examples of stories (patterns, ideas) we accept as truths.

The brain likes the information to travel the well-known paths, because the processes are efficient and fast process. The brain doesn’t like gaps and open questions, so it will fill the gap from the information or feelings it can reach to.

(This is also why creativity may be hard to spark, as in order to be creative, we need to forget what we know. We need to unlearn the known correspondences and causalities and look far beyond, down or above. Some will say that we have to keep an ignorant mind, or a child mind whose notions are not yet well established.)

What is the story you keep telling yourself?

There is a story about you, how you feel about yourself and how you perceive yourself. Do you talk to yourself to empower or dis-empower? Do you see yourself as a looser or a winner? As you know, the glass is either half empty or half full ;).

What I am saying here is not about imposing affirmations such as “I am the champion”, or “I am the best at X”, but focusing on the very process of whom you are becoming as a person. This includes drive and disappointments, sadness and joy, with appreciation how they all take part in a jigsaw of You.

Your past exists and has helped you to become who you are.

Do you appreciate your Conscious Self?

There is your Being, transcendental, to live in the moment and use all the skills whom you have already become. Just start to enjoy your Being in a different field, context or group.

Recognise your path. Know who you are.

If there is a story to tell to yourself, choose the one which inspires you to become a more fulfilled You.

***

Soul - ignorance - knowledge

Welcome to ignorance

Since childhood I have been puzzled by consciousness. I have struggled with questions about meaning and the observable discrepancy between ideas and outcomes. What was possible to experience or achieve was often different than I imagined or worked for. I aimed high and I failed often.

There were times when things went totally off course, revolting my life upside down. I was overwhelmed by my ignorance and the lack of understanding of how life was supposed to develop. Many times I pushed in directions which seemed right, a perfect continuation of my efforts. Despite the initial successes, I later was often failing miserably on the path. Clearly, I missed something.

I desperately needed knowing but I could not put the pieces of the puzzle into a whole.

At times I felt lost in a deep abyss. Becoming a devoted Christian brought me light and additional understanding. It gave me hope when I focused on kindness. Yet, it did not fill all the holes and did not give all the answers I was looking for.

Prayers, affirmations and visualizations helped short term, but the abyss was always returning. Maintaining the positive or re-programming the beliefs were ineffective, even though I learned from professionals and practiced with devotion (I became a coach and have coached myself in the process.). I did hope that I could change the negative by focusing on the positive and following that path.

I was naive.

Years later I understood that I could not fight the unknown in me, neither focus only on the positive and pretend this was to be.

The only way forward in personal growth is to consciously participate in the positive and the negative, including the darkest nights. It is beyond my and your control to change the night into a day. It will happen naturally when the time is right. You cannot change the state of events in the majority of cases, only the attitude. This was a revelation for me.

I had to enter the night, be present in the abyss and experience it.

This is metaphorically described all over the world in fairy tales or legends, when a young or ignorant boy has to go through trails, following the track of the given jobs of increasing difficulty to finally face a dragon. The boy has to go through this alone, but he may be helped on the way. The dragon is defeated either in a direct fight or by a smart trick which the boy might have learned from an old sage. After such a journey, the boy is transformed into a man. He gets a reward: a princess and a kingdom. The reward represents what the man is missing from his Wholeness: a wife and material possession. It is metaphor for Spirit missing his/her Body to create an amazing union.

What is the night?

The night is the time when Spirit suffers from ignorance and blockages.

Spirit is pure Consciousness. It does not have a form. It desperately needs a form to realize his/her potential.

Body is Subconsciousness. It has the Form but is Spirit-less. It desperately needs a Spirit to become active.

Spirit fills the Body, to get a form and to make Body be Spirit-full. This is the ultimate union and the longing between male and female.

Ego and Soul

In my understanding, when we are born, Ego is the initial, immature union of Spirit and Body, limited in view and experience.

Ego has a single point of view starting from here and now. Just imagine the scope of light from a torch shone in the darkness. This is how little Ego is able to comprehend.

The challenge we experience is that Ego acts as a controller and is terrified when he/she lacks safety and predictability of what next. Ego likes the orderly chain of events, causes and effects. When the here and now foundations are shaken, Ego naturally panics.

The goal in life in the process of self-development, as I see it now, is a mature union of Spirit and Body, when Spirit and Body are opposing, complementing and nurturing each other. This continuously leads to a more and more transcended extension of Ego, which is Soul. Hopefully, at the end of life, Ego is fully extended to a mature Soul.

I realize that others would equate Soul and Body, but then you would need a word to capture the amazing co-creation of Body and Spirit, wouldn’t you? For me it is Soul, as it represents the active part of the Trinity: Spirit, Body and Soul.

Soul is not necessarily homogeneous. There are different aspects of Soul, which coexist in one Soul-soup. For instance, on the lowest level, Soul is animalistic and includes our basic instincts (the Chinese call it Po and link to breath and Lungs). On a higher level, it includes our intention, intellect and will. Perhaps on the highest level, it includes drive and ambition (which would be linked to Hun, the ethereal soul in the Chinese view).

The suffering comes, when Ego cannot control what is happening or plans go wrong way. This is usually the time when Consciousness is expending or we are asked to understand more. This means that our false assumptions will fall and the illusions will be exposed. It often coincides with misfortunes in life or a big crisis. We are to be cleansed from various locks and ties to which we adhere.

Trapped Spirit

As in a metaphorical tale, the treasure is to be found at the bottom of the darkest den. In the time of darkest night, the New is there to be found. There are new mental and spiritual potentials ready for discovery and addition to the transforming Soul. With the earlier purge, the mental space has been prepared for new activities.

Day and Night are the basic polarity, the simplest development cycle of growing Consciousness toward a mature union with Body. Day is a metaphor for the light, the time of activity, confidence and courage, unleashed creation and sharing the knowledge.

Night is a metaphor for rest, inactivity, and the time of inward searching and understanding. It is the time to meet our fears and pains that ask for attention. Sensitive people can experience such a release by having nightmares or dealing with Shadows. Such Shadows can even take a form of Bad Spirits or Demons. There might be a threat of emptiness or death, as well as the lack of meaning.

Ego, with its limited perception, appreciates the stable situation, the continuity and the comfort zone. Ego forgets he/she is to be transformed into something New at times, and this happens all over again. Suffering that we experience is the expression of potential Spirit sparks trapped in the Subconsciousness (Body) and the fear of Ego for the jump in Consciousness that he/she has to make.

Relax into suffering

The key to help this process is to calm down and relax into suffering. As strange as it sounds, allowing and accepting it is the first step. It doesn’t mean we are to become victims of the events neither allow to be treated with respect or be torn by emotions.

No. No. No.

By allowing and accepting I mean becoming aware of what is happening and becoming a higher level observer of what is happening. The aim is not to fight it, neither to pretend it does not exist. The aim is to identify what is the potential which demands attention, understanding and release. Whatever we experience it is a part of ourselves. The suffering we feel is because a part of us needs attention and bringing to the light. Perhaps it is an “ugly” part of us. So what? Light represents knowledge and understanding, while true light represents knowing.

Because of our own ignorance and social conditioning, we experience Shadows from ourselves as something bad, alien and external. It is an illusion.

Shadows are real and represent a part of us, which we may negate in ourselves. Or, simply the parts which are new and we (i.e. Ego) are afraid of. Hence we want to hide them away or pretend they are not from us.

This is impossible however. The nature of life is to develop continuously which is against the Ego’s perspective pinned down to a given moment. The more comfort zone you want to protect, the less likely it will happen. As the sages have said through the ages “Everything is in a constant change, in a perpetuation of states.”.

In personal growth, our goal is the development Consciousness towards a more fulfilling union with Body (Subconsciousness). It is exactly the same in a relation – the development of a man and the release of fears by a woman to create a supportive-nurturing, always changing, co-creation.

We do not neglect, eliminate or push against the negative, but change the attitude towards it. We learn to journey through the negative, the crisis, the dark night, with calmness and understanding. The night will still be a night to be experienced. Yes, it’s true. We can make it less dark by shining some stars of relaxation.

When you enter the abyss as if it was your regular walk, calm and relaxed, the dragon will not be as fiercy as you have imagined. It is the understanding of the process that makes the dragon harmless. Knowledge that leads to understanding and intuition, becomes knowing, and power indeed.  The treasure will be found, in the form of wisdom and inspiration, ready to be manifested in life as a new project, task or newly founded love towards others.

The dark night serves a purpose.

Of course, not everybody has to go through dark nights, as these represent the growth of Consciousness towards a new direction or towards a more mature Soul-Self. The dark nights often precede the change in vocation, for instance.

There are many people who do not need this experience as they are already mature Spirits well realizing their potentials in the Matter. These may be regular people, content with their lives, enjoying who they are what they they do. Just in peace with life, experiencing Flow. Or, they may be engineers, medical professionals, teachers or gardeners, fully embracing their paths and consciously working on making a difference.

Know yourself and appreciate

When you experience deep sadness, depression or the lack of sense of living, approach it with calmness and understanding. This is a part of you, yet hidden, asking for attention and recognition. Ignorance is not a bliss at all. Instead of suffering, choose to see the experience as an opportunity for happiness to emerge. There is a part of you ready to be born which is trapped inside because of your ignorance and fear of whom you are becoming.

Get to know yourself.
Understand what is shouting for your attention.
Ask yourself questions.

What is my fear now?
What makes me sad/depressed so deeply?
What is ready in me to be born?
How can I help it transformed into something new?

Get out of the darkness in your mind. It is up to you. The darkness you experience is the manifestation of the lack of knowledge about yourself. Whatever it is there, appreciate it.

The biochemical or neurological changes in your brain or your body are symptoms of your problems. They are not the cause, but the effects. Your physical body manifests what the trapped unexpressed Spirit perceives. She/he wants recognition and understanding.

From the darkest night in December, Light emerges as Jesus, the Son of God, to bring light to Consciousness. See it as a metaphor for your life.

Bless the Soul.
The Dawn is awaiting for a beautiful day to come.

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