The Simple Smile (Part 2)

Related image

I find it to be pretty amazing that something so powerful has been freely given to us by our creator. For so many of us, we have been strongly conditioned to believe that only the things that money can buy have value. Clearly, this is not true. While money allows us to access different things that serve to enrich our experience of life, it cannot buy the joy, peace and contentment, which communicate to the world through our smile that we are harmoniously integrated with the spiritual substance of our being.

Why so many people find it hard to smile is because they are stuck in their own head. Consumed with the past aspects of their lived experience, or focused on the events of the future, they are absent of mind and closed of heart, with the consequence that they cannot perceive the abundance richness that the spirit has infused life with. Everything that surrounds us is a potential source of joyful and conscious awakening, but before we can appreciate this reality, we have to learn to take ourselves and the events of our life less seriously. By this, I am not saying that we should stop caring about the things that mean the most to us, but that we should favour a gentle and light-hearted approach to life that allows us to appreciate its journey as we go along.

The overarching tension that poisons our daily experience of life largely arises from the belief that who we are and what we have in this moment is lacking, and that to be more, we must be continually striving to get more. Subscribing to this distorted paradigm, it is very hard to smile through the stress and strain that have us perpetually resisting against life.

I have encountered many people who are so anxious and uptight because of their ego-centred desire to get ahead in the world. Chasing after those things that money can buy, they take for granted the things in their life that money can’t buy. While there is nothing inherently wrong with achievement and the pursuit of excellence, when these things come at the expense of our ability to appreciate and engage with life, then we have a real problem. Being on the journey of growing into our potential, it is natural that we would enjoy the process.

Why then do people find it hard to express joy during the course of their days? Because they are not being in balance, and are functioning from the disempowered self that is the ego. Habitually forcing the issue, their life energy becomes scattered, as does the joy that is starved of the opportunity to express itself when we live this way. Fleeting in its coming, we experience a greater sense of suffering and loss upon its going.

For the better part of my twenties I knew this too well. Frequently asking myself the question, how can I get more of the things that I want?, I seldom if ever genuinely smiled because I was looking at my life from an impoverished perspective. It was only when I really started to evolve spiritually and mature in my worldview that I developed the capacity to smile for no other reason than I had life, and the opportunity each day to continually become more, just by being who I was created to be. This wisdom is so easy to lose sight of, and we resist against it so mightily.

In one of my previous works, I wrote about small things that make a big difference. Smiling is one of those things when it is an authentic expression of who we are, and the joy that we have to share. Not everyone has the alluring smile of a Jennifer Lawrence or George Clooney, but this doesn’t matter at all. When we heartily smile, we convey a beauty and warmth that is not visible when our face is contorted by vain worries and discontent. This beauty and warmth comes from the soul, the source of our very being that is always open and receptive to life because it is the embodiment of the life force within us.

When we live in harmony with the soul, we will meet life where it is. Flowing with the promptings of our spirit, we bring our best to the world and have a blast in the process. The most ‘successful’ people, in the truest sense of that word, are the most fulfilled people who have connected with the spiritual reservoir of abundance within themselves. Feeling their joy intensely with the intention to infuse the world with it, they give freely of their smiles.

Here, my mind turns to the spirited and adventurous entrepreneur, Richard Branson, who is perpetually smiling. Whenever I see him in the news, he is always sporting a grin that communicates to the world how much fun he is having with his life. While many may think that the smile came with the tremendous wealth that he has accumulated, the truth is that the smile and money both came because he was first engaged with his spirit, and committed to manifesting the calling that he was born with. True wealth comes to those who smile, laugh, love and serve with passion. Relax into a life that is aligned with spirit, and just as a smile is effortless in its expression, so will your contentment and flourishing be amidst the necessary doings of the physical world.


The Simple Smile (Part 1)

A smile is the universal welcome. ~ Max Eastman

Each smile is a gift that one person gives to another, and when they are authentically expressed, they have a way of breaking down the defences of the fearful, stressed and suspicious, by bringing them into conscious contact with their essential nature. The spirit is joyous, carefree and grateful for the opportunity to just be. Living in its light, we find it easy to smile and laugh, not because life is without difficulty, but because our heart is open to being amazed and entertained by the spectacle that life is.

Modern life is not easy going, but we can choose to be. By making the decision to go with the flow of the life force as we encounter it, we add depth to our lived experience and find ourselves capable of connecting with a richer meaning and sense of contentment that ego based thinking and status quo living do not resonate with. When we are resisting against life, we find it very hard to smile. Stuck in the belief that life should present itself in ways that we find agreeable, our efforts consist of vain attempts at control and subsequent relief, when our resistance inevitably bumps up against life’s reality. To this end, the expressions on our faces tell a story of exasperation and bewilderment.

Continually seeking to go somewhere other than where we find ourselves, and feeling the pressure of not getting there fast enough, we cannot bring ourselves to stillness, being the space from which we can delight in our blessings and the natural world that surrounds us. Incapable of being at one with the true source of joy in our life, we ask to be amused and distracted by artificial agents. Holding onto the hope that these dalliances can build the bridge to our integrity, we remain separated from our spirit which teaches that with the present moment comes the ability to express joy in infinite amounts.

Having distanced ourselves from this wisdom, we allow the ego to take us over to the detriment of our well-being and happiness. Conditioned to participate in the rat race, we lose ourselves in the maze, not only of the world but also of the unconscious mind, which under the ego’s tutelage teaches that we cannot enjoy the journey because we have some better place to get to. Oriented towards the future, we see not the vast potential for joy that the present moment holds. This, we had no difficulty appreciating once upon a time, not because we didn’t have the demands of the world on our shoulders, but because we were authentically attuned to the voice of the spirit, and the experience of joy that it was continually calling us into.

As children, we had no difficulty in smiling at random. Living in the moment, it was the expression that came most naturally to us. Finding joy in whatever we were doing, we didn’t need to be invested in anything outside of ourselves because we were fully present in experiencing life as a new adventure. Innately appreciating the novelty of every new day, we couldn’t help but smile at the prospect of learning and growing through our involvement with life. Expressing our silent gratitude through our enthusiastic engagement, we didn’t have to use words to communicate how beautiful we found life to be. Conveyed by the joyful expression on our faces, this was the gift that we gave to those who witnessed our bliss, and attested to our humble wisdom.

Given the choice whether to smile or meet the world with a stone face, what would the conscious individual do? Concerned with elevating the condition of the world through their state of being, they would choose to smile. Our experience shows us that smiling is highly contagious and transformative in its effect. Like yawning, it holds an energy that we pass onto others who we come into contact with. From the metaphysical heart comes the joyous energy that gives birth to a smile and then laughter. Embodying this energy and then transmitting it, we can change the course of others days. What may have begun as a testing day, can quickly turn around because of the simple exposure to a cheerful smile.


The Home of Peace

Each of us wants more peace in our life. The problem though is that we often look for it in all the wrong places. Believing for example that the perfect relationship or receiving a monetary windfall will cure our discontent and thus bring harmony to our being, we endow the elements of the external world with a healing power that they don’t possess in reality. Painting over our sorrows temporarily, these illusory remedies cannot hide for long the cracks in our spiritual foundation that prevent us from experiencing an enduring peace in the perpetual present moment.

The only peace that will fill our heart is that which results from aligning our being with spirit. Requiring an integral shift that is supported by daily practices that nourish this peace, such as meditation, visualisation and prayer, the onus is on us to restore balance in our lives, not on the world, that with its egocentricity, is incapable of pointing the way to tranquility.

By embracing this responsibility, we can effectively enter the still space that provides clarity on our identity and purpose. Being at home within ourselves after effecting this shift, we come to learn that our ego-based thought forms are the source of the emotions (fear, anxiety and anger, for example) which deprive us of peace. Giving ourselves distance from their inner workings, we empower ourselves in a way that minimises the deleterious impact that they have on our life. Better able to control their influence on our movements, we have a greater scope to actualise the dimensions of spirit that make for a peaceful world.

Called to be instruments of peace on this planet, we cannot serve this role while living to pursue the selfish objectives of the ego. Opposing peace by the conflict that it stimulates, we stand separated from others and the mutual aspiration to come together, when we are cajoled by the ego’s righteous voice, and act out its frightful fantasies. War, for example, is a larger scale manifestation of ego consciousness. Being the realm where we must fight and overcome an enemy, to strengthen an artificial identity and win the rewards that are validated by a like-minded society, this state of opposition is not conducive to peace at either the individual or collective levels. This more evolved existence can only be realised when we surrender ourselves to a broader knowing that in its wisdom will show us a way to navigate this drama.

Finding our peace by living through spirit, and reconciling the suffering that we have experienced in our life, we can powerfully assist others to do the same. With enough people taking up this responsibility to enrich the quality of their life, we can enrich the quality of all life. Bound together by the fabric of love that becomes visible when we start to view the world with spiritual eyes, this truth is not one that the mind alone can acquaint itself with. Cultivating this conscious awareness, we do not have to act impulsively in a way that is likely to bring harm to the world. Stopping to consult the spirit through stillness, and assessing our intentions against its wisdom, we will act in a way that makes us a potent instrument of peace in a fractured world.

Not straying into the realm of temptation as the ego would have us do, our peaceful and loving energy is not dissipated by engaging in fruitless endeavours. Harnessed rather in perpetuating the life of the spirit, we become invigorated and more capable of dealing with life’s challenges, when we have within a safe harbour that the ego’s fleet is incapable of attacking. This is the home of peace; the defenceless realm of strength.


Wisdom without the Grey Hair

Image result for wisdom

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~ Abraham Lincoln.

It was once said that wisdom comes with age, but I very much doubt that this is true. In my short time on this planet, I have encountered enough ignorant and egocentric people to understand that these two unflattering character traits do not discriminate on the basis of age, which after all is just a numerical label which fails to get at the heart of who we are, and what we are capable of expressing at any moment in time. Wisdom, in this respect, emerges from a realm that is deeper than the physical stage of life that we occupy. In essence, this source of wisdom is the spiritual basis of life, and by living in a way that aligns with spirit, we will be capable of embodying wisdom in tangible ways. Even children, who often do a better job of remaining true to their essence, can be great teachers of wisdom if we care to be receptive to their lessons.

Being inclined to believe that old age holds the answer to life’s problems, we assume that learning is automatic, when in actuality it is not. Learning is a choice and it will be something that we naturally gravitate to when we allow our innate curiosity to take hold. On this point, one of the prominent findings from my research was that individuals who are living their calling and aligned with their spirit in that process demonstrated the trait of continuous learning. An intrinsic part of life is the learning opportunities that it affords, but ultimately the decision of whether we learn or not is up to us.

Possessed of the free will to evolve and allow wisdom to move through us, it is not a given that we will choose to embody it at any time, let alone in old age. While it is nice to think that we grow more receptive to learning the older that we get, it is just not true. Often, the older people that we encounter are stubborn and rigid to the point where they find it difficult to entertain the possibility that someone who is younger in years is acquainted with a truth/truths that they have not encountered yet. Themselves victims of this ‘wisdom comes with age’ fallacy, it is the comforting position that they adopt under the direction of the frail ego, which prefers to believe that which affirms its own righteous identity, and not expose the agent to a learning situation that would require them to be truly vulnerable.

Learning requires great courage and humility (also qualities that my research found are emblematic of spirit), and if we don’t allow these virtues to guide our evolution, then we will find ourselves living in old age with the same mindset that we had in our younger years. For the mind to expand, it must be fed on a continual basis. Only by doing this do we ensure that our experience of the years ahead will be richer than those that we have already lived. Why a great many people get bored and disillusioned with life as they become older is because they have stopped growing, and as a consequence they are essentially living the same year over and over again.

This experience is much different from continuously learning on a day to day basis, which has the effect of compounding our personal growth. Like an interest amount that increases with every dollar that we add to our bank account, the quality of our life increases in proportion to the amount of learning that we agree to undertake. Whether it takes the form of education or new experiences, we strengthen our capacity for insight into the nature of the world, and ultimately ourselves, every time that we move to ask new questions of life.

It is when we are comfortable staring into the abyss of consciousness that wisdom comes alive. Presenting profound answers to the questions that we have asked with intentionality, it works alongside the gaining of knowledge to round out our understanding of life. Grey hairs or not, we will struggle to find all of the answers because our time in this world is just too short. Despite this reality, I still believe it to be a wonderful thing that in any moment, we can lose ourselves in the mystery of life and allow wisdom to come forth. A manifestation of our being in the here and now, it is not time that it needs to speak, but a heart that is open and willing to liberate the spirit that it houses.


Volumes of Insight (Part 2)

Image result for journaling

Having journaled for some time now on those things in my life that evoke fearful thoughts, I have come to see quite clearly that my fear based projections are self-created. Born out of my ignorance to my true nature as a spiritual being, these fears are what I have learned to neutralize by bringing my conscious attention to them. Pouring the voice of our fears openly and honestly onto paper, they have nowhere left to hide. Cornered by our courageous expression, the basis of these fears are inevitably revealed as false to the mind that had allowed the ego to betray its confidence.

Like the intruder in a dark room that is apprehended when light is introduced to the space that had kept them hidden, we purify the mind of destructive influences when we learn to stop being controlled by our ego based thoughts, and give ourselves the freedom to observe them objectively. Journaling is a wonderful vehicle for this because the journal allows us to remove our consciousness from the facets of self that we express in it. Getting this all important distance, we can look penetratingly at our psychology without being defensive, manipulated by guilt or judged by an external source. Not feeling compelled to pick up our weapons to defend our shadow as a result, we can start the healing process of correcting our misconceptions and finding integrity through our woundedness.

Before we can deal with the ‘broken’ parts of ourselves, we must come to identify what those broken parts are. Articulating them with the written word, we bring these neglected shards of self to a place where they can be reconciled. Put out in the open through truth, they are given a chance to breathe deeply, as we are. Distanced from the pent up resentments that stem from our long held denial, we can project a new energy towards these shadow dimensions that alleviates the suffering which we would have otherwise experienced. Being that of the conscious and clarifying spirit, its loving insight is abundantly offered to facilitate our growth in each present moment as its light is shone upon the illusions of our mind.

All too often, our judgments towards our negative thoughts are what keep us stuck in our hurts. Adding strength to them, these protagonists in this self-destructive pattern reinforce the ego identity which does not care for our growth. Standing in the way of our evolution, these judgements suppress the spirit which is the essential voice of non-judgment. Judging ourselves harshly, we deprive ourselves of the gift of self-love. Emerging from our willingness to detach from the ego, this inner directed form of love is not what we allow to manifest when we remain imprisoned by our distorted assessment of our lived experience.

To put a twist on the Albert Einstein quote that I detailed in Part 1, never can we heal our suffering with the same level of thinking that created it. Ruminating about our suffering in the company of the ego, that suffering grows more intense. Strengthening our relationship with the source of the problem, we are blind to the means of rising above it to find a solution. To grow beyond where we currently stand, we must open the window of our mind for the spirit to enter. Being a voluntary action, we must initiate the movement, and it would not be wise to sit idly by and wait for the spirit to forcibly enter, for invasive tactics are not its way.

The spirit, with its abundant generosity, is always offering us its gifts, but whether we choose to receive these gifts is up to us. Writing in a journal with an authentic intention to evolve, the spirit works through us. Giving us insight into who we are, we receive its gifts as we act on what we learn. With this, it is useful to understand that by itself, recording our life experience on paper serves no valuable or higher purpose, unless we integrate the teachings that emerge from the reflective process into our daily being.

Only those who search will discover the treasure that is wisdom. Living inside of us, the spirit is the key that we can never be dispossessed of, despite the ego’s protestations concerning its existence. With the curtain of denial being the barrier to our bliss, it is what we must have the audacity to part and walk through if we are to live a full life in spirit. What is real cannot ultimately be denied. Without a guise, it speaks to the heart. Not fearful of truth, it awaits revelation, through our engagement with life and the fertile pages which bring richness and meaning to this unfolding relationship.


Volumes of Insight (Part 1)

Image result for journaling

I was once told by a very wise woman never to trust my memory. Speaking of course about the inability that we sometimes face in recalling the events of the past, she was also teaching me indirectly to capture insights when they arise in the mind. Appearing to each of us at one time or another, these jewels of consciousness are often what we allow to slip from our awareness when we do not live consciously and attentively. For so many of us, we are perpetually looking forward to what tomorrow might bring, and reacting to these possibilities in the present. Having also a laundry list of things that we must do at any one time, we are reluctant to take time out to process our experience of life, and contemplate its meaning and lessons.

Some time ago, I was talking to a very good friend of mine who expressed that for many years he had been engaged in the practice of journaling. Travelling to many different places around the world, his initial motivation to complete his daily pages was to record the details of his journey. Within a short amount of time however, what he found himself doing was transcribing his thoughts and feelings in these new and evolving moments he was experiencing. Preferring not to settle for taking photos of the locations that he visited, his focus was one that was directed inwards, in the process of engaging his mind and heart with the words that moved from his pen to the pages of his memoir.

Becoming a habit in my friend’s life, he continued to practice this journaling when he returned from his travels abroad. Revealing much about the depth of his experience, it also provided much food for reflection. Providing an insight into the workings of his mind and the dimensions of his spirit, he was able to learn much about who he was beyond the surface appearance of things. Quieting the voice of his overstimulated mind to articulate his deeper thoughts, feelings and intentions, he found that the waves of chaotic mental chatter would subside to present him with priceless treasures that he didn’t know existed inside of him.

Teaching me of this wisdom, I was inspired to connect to the voice of my own truth. Starting the journey as he once had, I quickly came to learn the power that comes when we open ourselves up for the purpose of self-exploration. Being a task that we have all been charged with, the growth that we experience by our willingness to forego the fear of looking at ourselves in the light of day is truly worth the effort. Connecting us with spirit, which is the great teacher in our lives, we benefit from more than just knowledge, which is collected externally, and comes to form the content of our life in the physical world. Providing the context which frames the content in its purest light is wisdom, which emerges not from the mind as knowledge will, but from the heart, being the expansive classroom that we enter when we consent to undergo the process of personal transformation.

What you are reading here is the result of my many years of personal exploration. Learning these lessons in reflective solitude and out in the world, their profound power was made manifest not only in applying them through action, but in writing them down as they came to me from the wellspring of spirit that is ever clear in what it conveys in moments that we remain non-resistant to its offerings. Why so many of us continue to make the same mistakes in life is because we are unwilling to learn the lessons that our lived experiences carry. Thinking that we know better than the universal source of wisdom which prompts us to growth, we become righteous, rigid and restless within ourselves.

Absent of the peace that is realised in spiritual reconciliation, we must humbly admit to ourselves that the mind alone doesn’t have all the answers to life’s questions, and trying to solve our problems with our limited thinking, and the fragile beliefs that underpin it, is itself the problem. Einstein acknowledged as much when he said that, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. To heal the mind of its misconceptions, we must explore it with courage and an openness to rewriting our scripts. It is difficult to confront our neuroses and all of the suffering that they have caused in our life. Living in a society which largely favours denial over truth, we have been strongly conditioned to run from our fears and other broken thoughts, rather than towards them. Being one of the many ways that the ego perpetuates suffering, the spirit asks us to take a more integral path. By confronting our brokenness, we come to make sense of the carnage and regain control over the fears that these happenings have birthed. Choosing to run away from them, we give them oxygen and a greater stage on which their shadow can loom larger than before.



Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 8)

Related image

Regardless of how old you are, you still have the opportunity to live your calling. Age is no excuse. Neither is aptitude, or the lack of it, for this is to be developed on the journey. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to start something unless they are already good at it. A nonsensical view that is often adopted to mask a deep seated fear of failure, it goes against the established process of mastery which recognises that incompetent doing must always precede masterful being.

Humility is such a key virtue to embody here, for without it we cannot grow to become masters in the domain of our calling. Wherever we are on the path of life, we must remember that we are students who have more to learn each day. Learning about that which we love is immensely enjoyable. An investment of our time, energy and very being, the rewards that we receive from this engaged exploration are so much greater than just the learning alone.

Involving the heart in the process, the love that we have for what we do, teaches us about the love that we are. Opening us up to the unexplored parts of ourselves, wisdom is allowed to flourish as one with knowledge. Harmonized in this growth process, the mind and spirit add strength to each other with the effect that our learning is integrated into our life. While we may think that this happens automatically, evidence proves that our learning is nowhere near as strong when we have no passion for the subject matter of that learning.

If I were to ask you here what you remember about trigonometry at school, you would probably go blank, unless of course you have a passion for mathematics. Having love for the subject matter of our calling increases its stickiness, to use marketing language. Resonating with who we are at the deep spiritual level, we take more in with an enhanced capacity, just as a hungry person is likely to do when presented with a bowl of food that they love. While having an insatiable appetite for food may get us into trouble with our health goals, having an insatiable appetite for learning about that which we love, will pave the way for continuous improvement, while exponentially increasing our level of fulfilment.

Digressing from this point, it has always amazed me how when we get on the vocational path, and allow inspiration to speak to us, forces beyond our conscious control come to assist us in our mission. Frequently, when I engage in the process of writing, what emerges in form is so much greater than my mind’s ability to hold. Knowing what I want to say and a bit about how to express it, I feel a force more powerful than my limited conception of self, assisting with the process. Being the spirit within that has given me the ability to write, it continually nudges me forward in my destined unfolding, while supplementing my knowledge with its innate wisdom.

Trying to explain this synchronicity, it mightn’t make much sense to you, unless you have experienced it yourself. Doubting initially my own perspective on this experience of flow, I have since had it validated by many other people who have reported similar experiences when engaged in tasks or activities that they profoundly loved to do. The basketball great Larry Bird once said that often when he had the ball in a game, he intuitively knew the best play to make in the circumstances. But how did he know? Because in those moments of play, he was fully present in what he loved to do and had an incredible talent for. Allowing his inner spiritual guide to speak to him in these moments about the rhythm of the game, Bird was able to perform at a higher level than his contemporaries, who were more focused on imposing their own personal will on the game.