Counselling & Psychotherapy considers:
Living To Our Full Potential
On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.George Orwell
The Future Alongside the symptoms we bring to therapy, we are who we are (including our unfolding, awakening Self) and full of different potentials. How we let go of what we need to, envision the future, imagining this, embodying it, live our desires, is also based on the choices, decisions and actions we take (see also Life's Journey, Initiations - Connecting To Our Own Inner Journey, Direction & Creating Our Own Destiny). Doing things for our future self may not only affect our present, but also how we live our future (whether it's regressive, progressive - viewing it as an unopened gift), which begins by what we do in the moment. We may struggle to create a different future if we hold on to emotions and associated thoughts, beliefs from the past. How we can pay attention to our psychological future, higher potential, be all we can be on our journey of individuation, not limit ourselves or others, with our sense of freedom, free will and live what brings us joy may matter to us. The therapy can explore these aspects with you alongside tuning in to our own path of development. (See also Present, Past & Future)
Whatever the past has been, you have a spotless future.Unknown
How We Want To Evolve As A Person The natural process of evolving as a person - change and transformation, growing, developing, enriching our life, being in touch with our home truths can mean different things to us (even bring us up against existential despair) and as we evolve so too may our roles, identity, interactions, interests, life purpose, dreams, what matters to us, our vision (see also Expansion, Self-Growth, Flourishing, Thriving & Trusting Life - Nourishing It, Having Faith). For some it is simply relating well with others on a day to day basis, adapt to situations, listening and engaging in conversations, being involved in our community, expanding our perspective and comfort zone that helps us evolve as a person. Evolving as a loving human being, make love last may also be important to us. For others, embracing our life as a voyage of discovery, learning ("The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" - Marcel Proust) living from the heart and soul of who we are, in touch with our values, being reflective, exploring deeper meaning in our life, gaining wisdom, listening to the evolving consciousness may be part of our exploration alongside evolving in our love relationship, and all other relationships. (See also Being The Person We Want To Be - Getting Back In Touch With Who We Are & Choosing Who We Want To Be - Connecting With Our Inner Life)
The purpose of life after all, is to live it, to taste the experience to the utmost,Eleanor Roosevelt
to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.
Transforming Our Life By clarifying more of who we are now, any blind spots and understanding the impact of our past, we may want to transform our lives (and relationship) with new direction and search for a deeper meaning of life (understanding). We may want to create a life of our own choosing, taking responsibility for forming our own future and live our life to our full potential. This may include transforming our emotions, fears, anger, behaviour, habits and addictions, our arousal and sexual energy, our purpose, intentions. Some of us may be seeking a sense of spiritual wellbeing - whatever this means for us. Questioning our own fragile, earthly existence, we may also have a need to belong or connect to others - our interconnectedness, the wider society and a world which is more than our personal world. (See also Life's Journey, Initiations - Connecting To Our Own Inner Journey, Direction & Creating Our Own Destiny)
Life is a sum of all your choices.Albert Camus
Taking The Long Way Home Stuck or lost inside we may fill up all our available time with remaining in our comfort zone, distractions, unhelpful habits or addictions, in order to avoid our impatience, emptiness, vulnerability, groundlessness. Especially with life's predicaments, priorities, paradoxes, contradictions, conflicts, contrasts, dilemmas, ambivalence, we are sometimes faced with a courageous choice of stepping out of our comfort zone, taking the unfamiliar, different road in our life, maybe the uncomfortable less familiar long road (considering bringing along supportive others), so we do what is right, the right thing, despite easier options so we are not just focused on ingrained shortcuts, old habits (see also Finding Our Way Through Challenges, Difficult Tasks & Unhelpful Habits - What May Get In The Way, Stop Us Creating Good Habits), quick fix solutions but more focused on long term resolutions as we get to know ourselves through exploration (see also At A Crossroads In Life - Making Decisions, Making Choices, Torn Between Choices). Finding time to not just be caught in the "right now" moment, but simultaneously thinking both long and short term, may help benefit us, not just for now, but help prepare us for future opportunities and challenges ahead. These challenges can initially be fearful, yet support our resilience and facilitate change. Building, maintaining supportive habits, routines, patterns may also support us. Consciously and intentionally being curious, being willing to step into the unknown, uncertainty, taking the new steps we always wanted to take on our own path and choosing this new road from our loving adult (not our wounded self) may not only change us but also affect others around us and when we take the longer way home, this may point towards deeper meaning for us.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.Beverly Sills
Life Transition & Existential Concerns Fear of dying and indeed fear of living can lead us to an existential search. Some of us may have a sense of alienation, loss, grief, pain or deep sorrow for us and the wider world - our existential angst. We may even experience disappointment, frustration or anger. Some people call this a midlife crisis, experienced like a lamenting, as if our soul is wailing. Often as we get older, these reflective concerns become more important as what really matters to us evolves. In counselling and psychotherapy we may want to examine how we belong in the world. These less tangible transitional challenges may point us to seeking different personal values, meanings or a sense that everything is connected and comes together as one. (See also Life Transitions)
No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.George Chakiris
Hopelessness, Having & Holding Hope However small, we all need hope and some satisfaction to sustain us and our hope can be elusive at times. We may have lost hope along the way. Stuck in disappointment, disillusionment, dissatisfaction, despondency, struggling to find any chinks of light, we may feel depressed, hopeless. This can be compounded by a social, cultural pressure on us to be upbeat, joyous, think positively, to not have any negative thoughts, yet our reality may be different, when we can't, don't (or choose not to) hold hope. Simply viewing our glass half-full, being optimistic, looking on the bright side may not shift things for us because we may experience or fear darkness, deny our shadow. Rising through our suffering, opening our heart (dropping any cynicism) can bring us hope. (However, holding blind hope can prevent us processing uncomfortable feelings and stop us realistically, creatively taking action. Failures, regrets, disappointments are a part of life and it may be challenging for us to look beyond our, others' shortcomings, our unhelpful, habitual thinking patterns, to give ourselves (or others) a vision of hope by seeing our, others' strengths, personal qualities, intrinsic worth and potential. Having, holding hope can give us faith and meaning, help us through difficulties and despair by being resilient, propelling and inspiring us towards our future. Envisioning the future we would like can also nudge some of us in the direction of hope. Restoring hope in ways which work for us if willing can be part of the process in the counselling for hope. Finding our own way (or not) towards hope may be important for us. (See also Expectations & Hopes)
Dream big and dare to fail.Norman Vaughan
Aspirations Our aspirations drive our free will. What we strongly desire, long for, aspire to, hope for - our dream and what really matters to us, can help inspire and drive us, pave our way into the future when we envision this. Visualising this future and turning our aspirations, dreams into goals and desired objectives may be important. The therapy can explore:
- How we can achieve realistic goals - the options, choices & actions necessary
- Whether our life meaning, purpose & direction gets us closer to where we intend
- Our resourcefulness, creative & imaginative options
- What we believe is possible
- What our next steps might be
It's never too late to be what you might have been.George Eliot
Longing & Yearning We may be longing to be seen (and known for who we are and some of us may be related to our early bonding patterns). We may feel empty or lonely inside, as if something is missing, be confused or stuck without tangible causes. At any stage of our lives we may get a sense that "the old show is over", and we can't get it back - a letting go process. Discovering and creating a new way of living may be a desire for some, as may our need to belong and respond to our existential loneliness. Some of us may be searching, yearning for meaning in our life. Through the ongoing process of maturing or ageing, many of our problems may also be about our longing - yearning for a deeper connections with us, others. Some may also be searching, longing, for a deep and meaningful relationship, sexual union, trust and intimacy with our partner, the world and for others the sublime - through a spiritual search. Our longing or yearning may be about not being in the moment or experiencing the journey of life because we are overly focused on the destination. For others our longing may also be about searching for perfection, something that is ideal, yet humanly impossible. (See also Suffering & Love)
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.Martin Luther King Jr.
Expansion, Self-Growth, Flourishing, Thriving & Trusting Life - Nourishing It, Having Faith (See also Self-Trust - Trusting Our Self, Our Innateness & Intuition & Inner Knowing - Gut Feelings, Hunches, Instinct, Improvising) We may want to move towards expansion and we expand because of our exposure to experiences. In order to thrive we don't need to control others and when we put attention on controlling others, this keeps us from thriving, evolving. Like healthy plants we need the right nourishment to flourish and grow (see also Getting Our Basic Dependency Needs Met In A Healthy, Loving Relationship), so our physical and spiritual needs are met or are in balance and we emotionally grow, grow sexually. (Some of us may struggle to grow up.) Trusting life, that events happen for our growth, potential, no matter how things work out, leads us towards self-growth. Challenging the way we see ourself (see also Reframing, Limiting Beliefs, Mindsets), stepping outside our comfort zone, expanding our experience, trying things we've never tried before, interacting, fully engaging, listening with someone in a new way expands our perspective and promotes growth, as does being in tune with the wider world. Nourishment for us human beings is helped by moving away from the heaviness of fear based thoughts (scientific research indicates that this helps build neural pathways), having faith - a qualities of love in ourselves, alongside trust, hope, remembering what's important to us, e.g. to speak up for ourselves, to be loved, heard, belong, fulfilled in our achievements, with a belief in something and "being in our being" (see also Being a Loving Human Being, Loving Ourself, Self-Care, Self-Love - How Do We Love Ourself? - Being Our Own Strong, Loving, Maturing, Mature Adult, Loving & Caring For Our Self). Being happy nourishes us. We may want to nourish ourselves with happiness - open to our light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun & our sense of humour, engaging in activities that make us happy and creating space to feel happy, expressing gratitude, meditating may support us. Like nature, which rejuvenates itself, so too may we need our own act of faith, that our own life continues, evolves, transforms (and this personal faith may also include the co-existence of our self-doubt). It can be easy to have faith when good things are happening, yet it's harder when there are difficulties or things don't go our way in life. Some people may want to have less self-doubt, explore having faith in that distant or still voice inside of themselves - one that they've known all along, yet found it hard to trust (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold). Having gratitude, gratefulness, appreciation brings us in touch with faith. We may want to have faith in all of who we are, our personal worth, that things are possible, hold hope, so we can move forward. Beyond our need for survival - to no longer just get by in the world, may also lead us to questioning life's meaning, learning what we need to learn along the way (see also Our Own Path Of Development). For some people, this curiosity or need to nourish ourselves spiritually may move us towards a spiritual search, connections or spiritual, religious faith, for others simply having faith in our highest good. (See also Benefits Of Psychotherapy - Identifying & Increasing Our Strengths & Resources, Growing Inside)
I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the differenceRobert Frost
Our Own Path Of Development Some of us may have abandoned ourself, not sense or feel we're on the right path in life and seek a clearer path - one we can really want, enjoy walking along. There is no right one path, but many (see also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence). Everyone has their own path. Some of us may forever worry how we should be, what path we should be on. We may constantly seek or need approval, validation and reassurances from others (see also The "Should", "Shouldn't", "Ought", "Must", "Never", "Always" Beliefs). Others may struggle to have faith in themselves, slavishly following or worshipping objects, public opinion or what is only sanctioned by external authorities - media, government, politicians, religious leaders (even our partner), etc. (As Mark Twain quotes "Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of god".) We may have been holding on to old loyalties, oaths, sacred cows which no longer serve us. Making the space and quiet time to take pauses, reflect, observe, may be important for us. Counselling and psychotherapy can support us in being in touch with our own voice, an inner voice - maybe distant at first, our own "inner" authority, free will, autonomy, values. Some of us may now want to be true to ourselves, choose and embark upon our own path - the one that makes us happy - sometimes an intuitive knowing regardless of what others say, and this may connect us with our purpose (see also Expansion, Self-Growth, Flourishing, Thriving & Trusting Life - Nourishing It, Having Faith). The counselling can support us in exploring finding our own path, listening to signposts along the way. Choosing our own direction, we may realise that rich meaning cannot be gained from what others tell us or impose upon us, nor by simply entertaining ourself. We may have often followed a path which is not really our own - one that others have set for us, depriving us of our own meaning, true to us, especially when we are in charge of our own agency - doing things and making them happen, maybe taking the long way home. Taking up our own authority, being our own truth, moral authority and what really matters, where we put our attention and focus, planning may become more relevant to us than how we appear to others. This may also be important in our relationship. In our own inner authority, we may want to be free to trust and responsibly live from our own, chosen ways rather than blindly follow others' rules. Counselling and psychotherapy supports us in developing our own moral authority, standing in our own ground, in relationship with others and the wider world. Enquiring about our own spiritual path may be a journey for some. (See also Our Responsibility - Counselling London)
Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of god.Mark Twain
Life Purpose, Emerging Purpose, Dreams Some of us may nihilistically believe that life has no distinct or any purpose whatsoever (and this doesn't necessarily mean it's a negative trait - see also The Absurdity Of Our Existence - Living With The Absurd). Life purpose can include many unfolding, ever-changing layers. Sometimes what matters to us - our purpose can be simple - treating ourselves and others well, evolving as a loving human being, sharing love, making love last, expressing our joy, desire, to grow. What matters to us, motivates us, may enable us to have a very short term purpose - a small, practical action we can do straight away. Some may be seeking a more medium-term purpose, e.g. their career or relationship. Others may be seeking a life purpose, maybe their dream, doing what we love, makes us happy, to evolve as a person, stretch ourselves, be engaged in what we do. Sometimes a call of duty points us towards our purpose and vice versa. On other occasions through life's intentions, everyday life's gift (even the unwanted, unpleasant ones) when seen, accepted or appreciated can nudge us towards our purpose. Connecting to the importance of our purpose may include something higher than we are currently living and reasons why we are here, pointing towards life meaning and ultimately only we can figure this out - in our own time, with or without guidance. Connected to our truest sense of our self, allowing ourselves to dream, utilising our courage to define our dream, overcome obstacles and reach for our dream, when we can't always see what's ahead may be important. Viewing our dreams as an adventure may help some. Our purpose gives us focus, motivation, direction and can point to what we really want and need in our life linked to our values, strengths and passions. Our purpose may be to know our own values and be in integrity with them, or to search for meaning, find the right path - what we really want and need in life, where finding our own path and purpose may be our journey in itself. It may be important for us to be in touch with our passion, desire, in touch with what nourishes us, doing what we love doing and are uniquely willing to bring, give and share with others, valuing others around us and showing this, aligning our actions with our purpose on a daily basis. Keeping a lid on our feelings, we may feel empty, depressed, unable to express our purpose. Purpose for some can be evolving, e.g. our ability to be compassionate, loving to ourselves and others. Stepping outside of our comfort zone, what's familiar, may be a challenge. Connecting to our purpose (often sensed through our child within - connected to our feelings) and vision may be an important connection for some, remembering it and living it and making it happen - for others especially if supported by building, maintaining supportive habits, routines, patterns (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing). Being in touch with a purpose greater than ourself, society, may for some be experienced as a quality of the soul lead to aligning our spiritual purpose (e.g. becoming conscious, mindful, embodying love, manifesting love, compassion) towards a spiritual path of our own choosing.
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.Pablo Picasso
Finding Our Purpose In Life We may unhelpfully believe that we should know our life purpose. Yet viewing it as an evolving process may release us to embrace the journey. The Japanese concept of "ikigai" addresses what gives our life worth, meaning, purpose and reason for being, may speak to us, including doing what we love (following our passion), doing what we're good at (our vocation), doing what the world needs (our mission), doing what we can be paid for (our profession). Alongside recommending we fill our stomachs up to only 80% full, "ikigai" suggests starting off small in order to release ourself, being sustainable, in harmony in our self and the world, being and living in the moment, experiencing joy in the small things of life. And the Greek meaning of the word "meraki" also recommends being present in the moment, living a life of staying active, not retiring, surrounding ourself with good friends, getting in shape, smiling, reconnecting with nature, being appreciative and showing gratitude, putting our total love, our heart and soul into our tasks, however small, e.g. making a cup of tea for someone as a labour of love. These tasks to be carried out with an effort of enthusiasm, pride and care, absolute passion, devotion, undivided attention, complete love with all our heart - putting our soul into our tasks (including leaving a piece of ourself in what we create, our creativity).
Self-Chosen Values We may want to ask ourselves what's the value we get from whatever it is we do, think, feel, act. It can be through the depths of our pain that lead us to what we really value. Our human values evolve, and change over time and may include compassion, love, truth, wisdom, honour. Our values are what define us. They inform our choices, priorities, which shape our behaviour and character. Some of us may want to attach our values less to valuables, outside sources and more internally - making our life valuable, sincere. We may no longer want to seek our own value externally or through our need for validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration from others. For some, a challenge may be to intentionally define and choose our own values (and not simply following values from others) and self-respect, with compassion for us and the world, so they can guide, clarify, dignify us, inspire us, directing our own priorities, goals and journey in life. Getting clear on our values may matter to us. Our values keep us safe, support us in being in touch with our highest good, moment by moment, e.g. do we need to speak up for ourself, care for ourself or others, work, rest or exercise, eat or stop eating, etc. Prioritising our values, the ones we want to live by - even when things are challenging and emphasising these can help us face things with patience, perseverance. (They don't have to be profound - we may, for example, value the simple ordinariness of life, routines, the small things) And when we are in touch with and protect what we personally value, these values can help inform and guide our boundaries, help prioritise what's valuable, meaningful. Our self-worth and value may connect us to what we personally value - our self-values. A task for some at this stage of therapy may be about moving away from only goal orientated, "completed" values as if they are achievements, towards personally chosen values, connected to our conscience and personal integrity, which can transform us in meaningful ways (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit). These values are unachievable, perpetually generated, evolving and active, experienced moment by moment - reflecting what we really want. Our core values may include honesty, respect, kindness, courage, open-heartedness, being authentic. Linking our values with our goals may be important. Our self-values affect the weighting we put on things can inform our principles, support and evoke Will, guide our choices, drive our behaviour, bringing about change when we envisage our future, creating consciousness, adding meaning to our actions. Many of us experience that it is this consciousness, and not external forces, that points us towards our own dreams, life purpose and it is our will (volition) that supports our commitment to this purpose. Finding our purpose in life may point some of us towards spiritual enquiry. Our highest values may include the essence of:
Acceptance, Achievement, Adventure, Analytical, Apology, Appreciative, Approachable, Attentive, Authenticity, Authority, Autonomy, Awakening, Balance, Beauty, Benevolence, Boldness, Brave, Brotherhood, Calm, Care, Celebration, Challenge, Charity, Chivalry, Citizenship, Clarity, Commitment, Community, Compassion, Competency, Conscientious, Considered, Contentment, Contribution, Co-operation, Courage, Creative, Curious, Decisive, Democracy, Dependable, Depth, Detail, Determination, Dignity, Discernment, Discipline, Diversity, Education, Efficiency, Empathetic, Energy, Engaging, Enthusiasm, Equality, Expansiveness, Environment, Exploration, Fairness, Faith, Fame, Flexible, Focused, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Fun, Generosity, Grace, Gratitude, Growth, Guiding, Happiness, Harmlessness, Harmony, Healing, Honesty, Honour, Hope, Humour, Inclusivity, Independence, Industriousness, Insightful, Inspiration, Integrity, Intention, Joy, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Leadership, Learning, Light, Love, Loyalty, Meaningful Work, Mercy, Moderation, Modesty, Nature, Neighbourliness, Non-violence, Obedience, Oneness, Open-mindedness, Openness, Optimism, Order, Organised, Passion, Patience, Peace, Play, Pleasure, Positivity, Power, Practical, Presence, Principled, Recognition, Relaxation, Release, Reliability, Religion, Reputation, Resilience, Respect, Responsibility , Right conduct, Rigorousness, Risk, Safety, Security, Self-reliance, Self-Respect, Self-sacrifice, Service, Simplicity, Sincerity, Sisterhood, Spirituality, Spontaneity, Stability, Status, Strategic, Strength, Success, Support, Sustainability, Synthesis, Tenderness, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Transformation, Trustworthiness, Truth, Understanding, Virtue, Vision, Warmth, Wealth, Wisdom
Opening Our Heart To Our Own Ethics Further challenges may be to live from our own integrity, ethical consciousness (some of which may derive from traditional or natural ethics we hold dear to us), how to fully express the Will in our actions with our heart open, develop our ethical stance in the world linked to our values, conscience, morality and personal integrity as we choose our direction in the world.
Our Conscience, Morality & Personal Integrity Becoming an open-hearted moral being is challenging and for some a sacred quest. Sometimes we may ignore our values or conscience, drowning them out, struggling to listen to them, opening our heart to our own ethics, yet without them we would be lost, struggle to determine what's true and false. (Sometimes we know in our heart of hearts we've done the "wrong thing" and gone against our conscience.) Listening and responding to our conscience (sometimes induced by a healthy guilt) can positively help us, so our conscience is heard nudging us in the right direction (cleaning up what we need to clean up, put right and make amends along the way). This guides and shifts us towards positive direction. It can sometimes be as if we are out of alignment with our own truth (which can also play out in our relationship) or morals (maybe due to our own nihilism), and when we listen to our conscience and integrity as our own moral compass - doing what's right, it can nudge us back, so we can re-orientate ourselves and be in our own moral authority, accountable with our best intentions, in touch with our open heart, connected to our core - thinking and behaving in ways we are proud of being honest, straight forward and coherent. Being faithful to our moral conscience, moral principles, keeping our word, standing up for what we believe forms our integrity. Being clear about the purpose of our integrity supports us, helps us flourish and when we are in our integrity we hold a moral, relational accountability, where our thoughts, words and deeds and sincere, in harmony and this requires critical thinking, our own moral discernment, reflectiveness of what is right or wrong. Integrity can be called up in each moment and is relational with others, entailing listening to our prejudices and having personal discipline to overcome any challenges to our integrity, e.g. doing the right thing even if at times it puts our self image, status, safety at risk despite easier options and the wider world (not necessarily public opinion).
Conscience, Integrity & Truth We may want to see past our so called fear-based truths, purposefully choose our own self-values, being in the circle of our integrity, congruent, self aware, guided by our own conscience (see also Guidance, Truth). Putting trust in us, trusting our innateness, vulnerability, our own home truths gives us a sense of our identity. And separating out truths and knowing things may be important to us, as may speaking our truth without judgement or the need to control others or lying. Through questioning what really matters to us, what is our own truth behind the truth and the "right" thing to do, we may feel more powerful, gain a stronger sense of our core essence - our deepest qualities, what we are born for and with, the heart and soul of who we are, greater than the sum of our parts. We may be interested in integrating all the facets of our personality into one reliable, consistent, transparent and authentic self (including our shadow, dark side, suffering - as Agamemnon comments "We must suffer, suffer into truth"), so we are the same inside and out, with nothing to hide, saying what we mean, meaning what we say, being Self-accountable. This sense of self, with our insights, sense of worth and acceptance gives us greater freedom to create our own opportunities. Some may want to listen and place trust into the essence of our own inner voice, rather than imagine what others expect of us (see also Unhealthily Looking For Social Approval, To Be Liked, Noticed, For External Validation, Encouragement, Approval, Affirmation, Reassurance, Confirmation, Permission, Recognition, To Be Valued, Appreciation, Praise, Attention, Adoration, Admiration, Adulation, Acceptance, Trust), or what we think we "should" be doing. Exercising our free will may be a desire for others, so we can fully express who we are, our authenticity, virtues in our actions.
Integrity & How We Communicate How we communicate, have integrity with ourself, others and how they experience us, being true to our own code, supported by our conscience, values and authenticity may matter to us so we be the person we want to be - reduce any gaps between we say and do. We may want to avoid compromising our values or making promises we can't deliver - sticking to our moral principles and standards that we acknowledge are important to us so we utilise our courage to speak our truth. This promotes people trusting in us. To live our integrity is hard work (which is not possible from our ego wounded place) - being reliable and trustworthy in our world, walking our talk - doing what we say we are going to do, being honest, coherent and telling the truth about ourself, our motive, without being unkind (living the challenge of not doing things we would not like to be announced publicly), being accountable for our actions and take responsibility for our feelings is an ongoing process.
Our Virtues Our virtues are our good qualities within, our personal resources (e.g. our contentment, generosity, humility, tolerance, determination, serenity, etc.). Living, embodying our virtues, which include our values, sincerity, respect for all of life, our kindness and offering acts of service may matter to us and can support certain goals in life. (See also Intrinsic Self-Worth - Valuing Our True Worth, Who We Are)
Our Own Internal Resources In order to take personal responsibility in life, we need a range of internal resources to make sense (meaning) of life's encounters - something that is learnt over time (see also Our Responsibility - Counselling London).
Taking Downtime Preoccupied or over-busy at work, we all need some guilt-free downtime, whether it's having a nap, just doodling, "faffing", daydreaming, giving ourself space to recharge our batteries, recover (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold).
Contemplation, Creating Space & Quiet Time, Taking Pauses - Self-Awareness, Observation & Reflection Many of us can keep ourselves busy always doing things, making little space, time for us to simply consider things, yet we all have a self-reflective side. Sometimes watching the world go by or listening to ourselves, sitting still - watching our mind, reactions - steering away from judgements, critical comments in some way like a meditation, especially in a place we feel comfortable, at ease, relaxed (or alternatively finding this place in our head if it isn't physically possible) can replenish us. Being mindful, accompanying ourselves "in the moment" with awareness, reflection and stepping back from things (also in our relationship), quietening our mind and creating daily quiet time (switching off all our technology, gadgets), letting go off our urges, taking pauses to breathe and relax, enjoy our own company, sit with our self and reflect, listening to what comes up for us, as we allow this (including our uncomfortable feelings, emotions), can move us away from stress, help anchor us, bring perspective, clarity. We are all affected by experiences, feelings, thoughts, some of which can have the potential to overwhelm us, as if they are bigger than us, we are captive to them. Giving our mind space, reflecting on these may support us. Contemplating, taking stock, catching ourselves, having a "wait and see" space, holding some perspective, mentalising, may be beneficial as may making space for our self. We all have a level of awareness and may want to cultivate this, developing our self-awareness, which supports our resilience. Modified by consciousness, our self-awareness - understanding ourselves - our actions, what shapes us as a person, being aware of our sensations, feelings, moods, needs, thoughts, perceptions, attitudes and behaviour - watching, observing, witnessing, accepting these without judgement and how we are perceived may be important for us as we learn where we need to grow and improve our connections with ourself and others, so we are both being and doing.If these early connections in our life were absent, this can affect our ability to reflect calmly now. (See also Deepening Our Awareness)
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.Carl Jung
What is this life if, full of care,William Henry Davies
We have no time to stand and stare.
Self-Reflection - Looking Inside & Reflecting Upon What We Find Taking responsibility and a bit of time for ourself - some space to assimilate what we experience, composing our thoughts, can help shift our consciousness and determine the best response rather than react. Stepping back and reflecting also helps us learn. We may want to reflect on the metaphors for life which we hold. On a voyage of self-discovery and as we evolve we may want to explore where we are, where we are heading (can bring up existential concerns), our motivations, review our own personality, beliefs, triggers, emotions, senses, intuition, etc. and get to know our strengths, weaknesses, where we excel, and where we don't, our limitations or boundaries, that support our confidence and emotional intelligence. Allowing ourselves to daydream, being with our feelings and thoughts - recognising them, rather than being in our feelings and thoughts, as if there is no separation, can give us space, so the self - the "I" inside of us can be observed and we let go, handle uncertainty, not knowing things and open to other possibilities, mapping things (mentalising) with a compassionate intention to learn. And connecting to our intention may also be important. We can shift from emotional reactions to responding thoughtfully, as we listen to our inner voice, so we can think clearly, re-focus on what's important. Taking a pause from external matters, having our own rocking chair moments, may assist us. These pauses (some of us take space for moments of reflection in silence or in nature) can widen our horizons, help us self-observe and reflect, enhancing our self-awareness and inner wisdom, as we also listen to what our heart is telling us, creating a deeper connection and expanding our sphere of consideration with ourself, inner world and wider world. We may want to give ourself a mental break, relaxing and being with ourself, with our thoughts, accepting who we are. When we make time to reflect, we may sense an interconnectedness, consciousness to our past, present, future, our view of reality may shift, and our intuition, senses become heightened, things also may be transforming for us, our perceptions and attitudes may shift. We may want to have a healthy balance between making quiet time to stop and think, still our mind - being able to observe consciously, reflect and act in the world, supported by our will, so we are not just ruminating, thinking and planning, but participating in life - in the present moment, interacting with others, expressing ourself in the world. (See also Life Reflection)
Silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation.Rumi
Silence, Inner Stillness & Balance There can be a kind of silence we are longing for, yet it may terrify us, because we hear ourselves. For some supported by our breathing, mindfulness, meditation, being in nature or simply being in our "being" rather than our "doing", finding a point of stillness - a space to return each day, experience a sense of wellbeing, may be important to us. With our full range of emotions, life can swing from many polarities and we may swing back and forth with them, from side to side, which can drain our energy (see also Wandering Mind, Monkey Mind). And like a pendulum, returning to the centre of our being, anchored in ourself (see also Feeling Safe In our body - Connecting To Our Centre) can bring stillness, balance, neutrality as our energy renews. Noise is commonplace yet so is silence - the silence within us, what some have described as our inner stability, close to the soul - that silence within beyond our thoughts and feelings, even amongst the external noise. Silence at times may be anxiety provoking, put us in touch with our "demons", places of struggle and a feeling of initial boredom, limitation aloneness, fear of the unknown, our mortality and we may try to keep busy. On other occasions when we stabilise our mind, intentional silence and being with nature, can dissolve our ego, help us switch off and daydream, still our mind, observe, reflect, be mindful, listen to our inner voice, expand our consciousness, bring peace of mind, calmness, clarity, help increase our focus. Some people utilise silence to be in touch with their creativity, solitude, with their spiritual, religious practice.
Let us have the luxury of silence.Jane Austen
Creating & Being In Touch With Our Inner Sanctuary, Our Anchor Points Some of us may feel bored because we are out of touch with our Self or others. Others (including those of us that are sensitive) may be so focused on controlling, fixing our outer reality, that we may have overlooked going inwards - not to escape what's happening around us but to be in touch with our true self, put any troubles, worries into proportion or relinquish them when we need to. We may want to utilise our own internal boundaries, creating our inner sanctuary, from our own anchored, centred and grounded place where we can take refuge, feel calm, safe, secure, relaxed. Our inner sanctuary can be a place just to be, where we not so much bring our problems (our fears, doubts, anger and grief) to be fixed, but faced looking directly at them in the face, laying them down and letting them go. We may want to utilise the space to just sit for a bit, in stillness, be in contact with our breathing, maybe write, release tension, draw, paint, be creative, reflect, meditate, explore or contact our purpose, listen to our inner voice, remember who we are (perhaps being in touch with the innocence of our inner child). We can create an inner sanctuary, safe places in our mind, imagine a familiar place (real or imagined furnishing it with visual details, colours, smells, sounds, etc.) where we feel most at ease, at peace with, making it how we would like it to be. Experiencing these thoughts, feelings, memories we can utilise them as anchor points (see also Anchoring Our Self), returning to them whenever we need to. We can also utilise our imagination further, inhabiting it with people who have inspired us along the way, loving teachers or guides in our life. We may also want to create our own loving, physical space in our home choosing whether to keep it clear or decorate it with things that inspire us, move us, maybe candles, incense, flowers, photographs and also turn it into our divine sanctuary with loving, precious or sacred objects, symbols we treasure, value around us. (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Help)
Sacred Space Personal to us, some of us may value certain sacred spaces (whether a metaphor or real - whatever they illicit in us) because of their beauty, meaning, awe. Our own sacred spaces may be places where for us time and space collapses, there is a sense of transcendence, we transcend ourself into infinity, humility. These sacred spaces may be where we experience, some connection through history of use, mythologies, mysteries, the divine, a place of worship, certain objects, symbols, icons, focal points which carry symbolic or archetypal power. For some of us, our sacred spaces are connected to our religion, holiness whereas for others, maybe a sense of the spiritual, experienced energetically through consciousness. Some honour that sacred spaces are everywhere, global and live within our essence.
Deepening Our Awareness Everything we have become includes what we have observed, which influences our decisions. The context for which we think, including our focus, attention, concentration may also affect our actions, non-actions. Moving away from autopilot, witnessing our needs, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, drives, behaviours, judgements and reactions, subtle physical feelings and random experiences, etc. like a scientist would, deepening our awareness. This is enhanced when we bear the unknown, uncertainty, without becoming too absorbed, as if we are a third person looking on - looking at things not so much from things, rather than reacting to them, may deepen our awareness (see also What Is Being Communicated - Listening To Our Inner Voice).Some people utilise counselling and psychotherapy to reflect upon themselves and the world, so they can know, manage and direct themselves more, not just cognitively, but also with the aid of our intuition and inner wisdom, through regular reflection, allowing our thoughts and feelings to surface, bringing our inner world to light. Relinquishing what we no longer want to hold on to, accepting what is, may be important for us. Becoming more aware of the power of who we are, may also matter, so we grow, learn and take personal responsibility and accountability in the world, not only in service of ourself, but others and beyond (see also Wellbeing Of Others - Generosity Of Spirit, Being In Service Towards Others, Acts Of Service). What all this means may also be explored in the therapy.
If a man looks at the world when he is 50 the same way he looked at it when he was 20 and it hasn’t changed,Mohammed Ali
then be has wasted 30 years of his life.
Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They are actually yours. They are specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. You are not going in the right direction unless there is something pricking you in the side, telling you, "Look here! This way!" That part of you loves you so much that it doesn’t want you to lose the chance. It will go to extreme measures to wake you up, it will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen. What else can it do? That is its purpose.A.H.Almaas
Inner Wisdom Our in-built inner wisdom comes from our ancestors, what we've experienced (felt in the body), what we've learnt through observing and engaging with life, supported by our intuition, inner knowing through listening to ourselves, our senses, emotional intelligence, emotional maturity, hindsight (so our emotions don't have to spill out), what we've observed and learnt (also from our failures, sense of helplessness), alongside our grace, truth and knowledgereflect upon them. Our wisdom evolves and may not always be conscious. As our resources grow and we are in touch with humanity. Our wisdom includes our compassion, attitude and loving actions, sharing our wisdom with others. We may also be in touch with a wisdom, which is not only personal (see also Consciousness In & Beyond Us), leading us to spiritual enquiry, connection. Knowledge is something we acquire through educating ourselves, whereas wisdom is an inner knowing experience from our mature, loving adult self. The counselling and psychotherapy can help explore what qualities in us (including our wounds) bring through the power of our wisdom - tuning into this by asking what our life's experience is now, today, what have we learnt, what did our intuition say.
Imprints leaving their trace
Lines designing a face
Trees ingrained by rings
'Tis wisdoms' sufferings.
Learning In each moment we have the potential to learn from every person, every situation. (As Benjamin Franklin once said "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.") When we make connections, associations, we learn, change. Learning enables our mind to be stimulated, enriched. And it may be important for us to explore how we think, learn - whether in concepts, images, pictures, words, shapes, colours, emotions and what happens in our visual world. We may learn through sounds and words or kinaesthetically - doing active learning, practicing, touching. When things are difficult, what hinders our learning (including learning about our partner, relationship, learning to be alone, learning from our mistakes when we repeatedly fail) and the fears we have may be a useful learning in itself (see also Underlying Symptoms). Knowing how our brain works, the best way we learn, our own learning style, whether it is through reading, images, listening, doing, etc. may help us. Learning from what our feelings are telling us and moving towards our uncomfortable feelings and our wounded self, expressing our fears and pain can paradoxically release us from the impact of their grip. (In learning about love, we may have a choice at any moment of trying to have control over getting love, avoiding pain or to be open to learning to love ourself.) Learning can be viewed as stepping stones towards our growth - when we are willing to be changed by the process of learning (see also Evolving Consciousness - The Meanings We Make). Life's challenges bring us towards learning. Learning from new experiences can help update our model of ourself and the world. It is said everything happens at the right time, in the right place and for the right reason (see also Listening To The Evolving Unconscious). Learning helps improve our knowledge, discover things, yet we may struggle to adapt, trust life in certain areas, be open to what it presents, developing and growing (without trying to control others, situations), what life might be telling us, through each experience, situation, others around us. Valuing these lessons, being open to learning from them whether pleasant, unpleasant, comforting or discomforting, be in touch with our vulnerability and without becoming like a victim may be important to us and help us live a more peaceful life. With our intent to learn, through our willingness to step back, reflect, listen to ourselves, be curious, explore and hear the truth, being open with what we need to learn, what's the message, we may also ask ourselves what gets triggered in us, what we might need to let go of. When we have a willing intention to compassionately learn, know our purpose, we may want to openheartedly listen and see things, utilising our senses, intuition, seeking deeper meaning, our own truth before making decisions. If we pray, meditate, we may overly focus on asking rather than listening, learning. It can be challenging for us to negotiate the ongoing process and be open to spiral of learning - for when we learn, we not only integrate and expand, we also consolidate and contract. And this natural pattern continues as we develop, transform, yet stay the same. Our learning may be of an intellectual or spiritual experience. Learning can reward us for respecting life, experience appreciation, gratefulness, gratitude. And through our experience of life (including our relationships with a partner, learning through our relationship system) we can share the fruit of our lessons we've learnt, wisdom, teach others by example.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploringT.S.Eliot
will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
Possible Learning Challenges Ahead Every lesson learnt never wastes our time. Some may want to feel more intimate with others, balanced physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, moving from a regressive way of living towards more progressive ways. Others may want to bring out their uniqueness as an individual, and at the same time their similarities with others. Counselling and psychotherapy can also be a vehicle to explore being more "in the moment" rather than at the hands of fate or stuck in old familiar ways. As we notice our noticing, we may develop a deeper sense of who we are, able to observe, seeing things in slower motion at times, expanding our field of awareness, we may be in touch with consciousness and personal identity issues. Being grounded with healthy personal boundaries can support us. Mindful of the impact of our thoughts, words, actions affecting consciousness, we may want to choose whether these are unsupportive, unloving or positive, supportive, loving.
To bow to the fact of our life's sorrows and betrayals is to accept them; and from this deep gesture we discover that all life is workable. As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.Jack Kornfield
Suffering & Love Life will always have ups, down, highs, lows. Life and love contains negative and positive aspects. Love and suffering can be experienced as two sides of the same coin, where there is love in suffering and suffering in love. And as consciousness evolves, both suffering and love are inescapable (like dark and light, wind and stillness, separateness and oneness - which include our ability to connect), part of the human condition, and how each of us compassionately Iive with this suffering in less fearful ways, is something included in the counselling and psychotherapy, which can also explore ways we may be holding on to any so called "negative emotions". Love is also painful - giving us not only great joy, but sorrow (see also Allowing, Embracing, Integrating What We Ignore - Our Shadow, Light & Dark Side). We can't live a pain-free life (see also Finding our way through our pain), avoid all suffering, despair, yet being equipped to respond to this may be our challenge, supporting our resilience. We can choose to respond to life's sufferings with destructive patterns or ways which may enrich us, leading us to finding our own meaning and values. Learning to feel the core painful feelings of life, being loving and no longer being afraid of them, is challenging. Sharing our feelings can be healing. Suffering and love are natural processes as we simply be who we are. In nature there is also uncertainty and chaos, endings (including deaths), beginnings (including births), transformations and we human beings often try to avoid this process. For many of us, the awfulness and awe of the world can at times be overwhelming (see also Our Resilience, Hardiness & Protecting Our Personal Boundaries). By opening our heart to both suffering and love aligning Love with Will or turning towards spiritual love, if that is our choice, we may no longer feel afraid, hold hope, be more able to enjoy life. The depths of suffering and love can be described as soul qualities. Powerfully and harmoniously living from the heart and soul of who we are, evolving from this place with others, may be important for us. Being in touch with our own humour, playfulness, carefreeness, no longer denying the qualities of our inner child can for some lighten the load of any suffering we carry.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.Khalil Gibran
The profound nature of our suffering may include our separateness yet connectedness, being in touch with life's unfairness, a universal sadness, helplessness over others' outcomes, the things outside of our control, heartbreak, heartache, unrequited love, our unshed tears, grief and how we mourn our own losses or aloneness in the world, lost innocence of childhood (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns), our wounded self, pain and hurt, the experience of our core, painful feelings, being unforgiving, judgemental, our painbody, deep grief and neglecting what is in our power. We may find it hard to regulate our emotions, painful feelings, grieve our unhappiness. There is humanity, even beauty, in the common struggle of suffering, and it takes courage in this profound place. Some may experience our suffering as existential or as if we have a hole in our soul, or have a sense of soullessness - in touch with a deep longing, yearning. For others, who are religious or have a belief in god we may have our faith tested, questioning if god (or however we define this entity bigger than us) is a intervening god, as if humans are puppets on a string and/or an inspiring god (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit). There is also humanity to our training and allowing ourselves to sit with, endure and respond to suffering and the depths of our intrinsic feelings (without coming from our wounded past or reducing ourselves or becoming like a victim or martyr to them) may be important, as may moving through the suffering we create, viewing it as profoundly meaningful, transforming it to also being loving. Yet some of us, in the face of love or being shown love, find this unbearably painful, preferring to retreat into the dark, as if the brightness of love is too bright.
To be human is to transgress, of that we can be sure, yet we all have the opportunity for redemption, to rise above the more lamentable parts of our nature, to do good in spite of ourselves, to make beauty from the unbeautiful, and to have the courage to present our better selves to the world.Nick Cave
We can't avoid all suffering in our lives (Buddhism points to avoidance of suffering leads to more suffering.) Living with it, transforming it can help some by:
- Letting go of a redundant belief inside of our wounded self (who is invested in suffering) & who may have been taught that god wants us to suffer
- Being accepting of what is
- Body energy awareness & mindful movements (e.g. tai-chi, qi gong, yoga)
- Connecting with & being out in nature
- Attuning into spiritual connection, guidance
- Making affirmations, mantras
- Creative expression in any way that expresses our core essence
Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.Walt Whitman
Interconnectedness Of Suffering & Love "Why do I suffer?" may be a question we painfully hold (Agamemnon says "That we must suffer, suffer into truth"). Yet through experiencing and finding our own understanding of suffering, it may also enable us to find our way through our suffering - be more than it. Through bearing suffering and managing our frustration and being in the here and know we can sometimes be in a place where it is OK not to know all the answers, the world's mysteries, utilising the space for our creativity to emerge. Therefore, the therapy may involve a frustrating yet creative process of guiding us through life's suffering: confusions, chaos, darkness, limitations, conflicts, hardships, apparent contradictions, paradoxes, uncertainties, the unknown and mystery. Through this "suffering of the soul" - our aloneness and connectedness, new self-values and meaning may emerge. In our suffering we may at time experience this separateness (as we are born we separate) and other times that we are not separate at all, being human, part of nature or something more (see also Exploring, Connecting To A Sense Or Experience Of Spirituality). We may want to re-think the values on which our living is based. We may have a strong sense of inter-connectedness acknowledging the universality of sadness, suffering and love. For some, a further level of suffering and love may be our need to contract the gap between what it means to be human and the spiritual. We may want to address existential issues or have such questions as: "How do I survive suffering and limitations in the world?" or "How do I express love?" Our humanity includes our feelings, unconscious motivations may often run counter to how we "should be", our productivity, efficiency and being human in both our wounded self and core self, unconditionally loving these aspects of us may be challenging, yet as we do, the more we can share our love with others. Wanting to avoid all suffering may also mean we avoid love and stop the flow of our tears for either. And how to evolve as a loving human being may be part of our suffering as we embrace it, find our way through it. As Thich Nhat Hanh says "No mud, no lotus." Some of us may want to ignore or avoid life's inevitable sufferings, our shadow, biology, painful feelings, or wait for love, as if it will come to us. Yet love is also a verb - the powerful movement, action and creation of being loving to ourself and others through connection, compassion, holding love, expressing love, being love. (See also The Connections We Need & Make)
God is love, which is why I have difficulty relating to the atheist position. Every one of us, even the most spiritually resistant, yearns for love, whether we realise it or not. And this yearning calls us forever toward its objective – that we must love each love. We must love each other. And mostly I think we do – or we live in very close proximity to the idea, because there is barely any distance between a feeling of neutrality toward the world and a crucial love for it, barely any distance at all. All that is required to move from indifference to love is to have our hearts broken. The heart breaks and the world explodes in front of us as a revelation. There is no problem of evil. There is only a problem of good. Why does a world that is so often cruel, insist on being beautiful, of being good? Why does it take a devastation for the world to reveal its true spiritual nature? I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know there exists a kind of potentiality just beyond trauma. I suspect that trauma is the purifying fire through which we truly encounter the good in the world.Nick Cave
Suffering & Love - The Bigger Picture The above quote points to the transitionary ever changing transformative experiences of suffering and love where our stuckness suffering is symbolised by mud and our expanding awareness sense of self is symbolised by the lotus (as if suffering the murkiness is part of the creative process). Our experiences of suffering and love may broaden our minds, reminding us we are not the person we thought we were, as may reflecting upon and responding to a larger society, the impact of science, culture, art, etc. Some of us may want to use the therapy to explore their life's journey, be in touch with unity and what unites us, the universality of Love out there in the world and compassion beyond personal relationships, where we are in tune with ourself and the wider world, being willing to give and receive Love in its human and divine forms. We may want to be internally powerful as our heart is open and the illusion of separation is no longer (oneness, as if everything comes together as one), where our personal (and non-personal) will is aligned so we have managed the gap between what we take ourself to be and being, who we are (see also Primal Wounding). These experiences (a sense of love, bliss, the divine) may also occur during sexual connection, presence (or surrender) as we let go to the moment, when we fall in love, are in the company of a new born child, or when we are in touch with someone's needs - seeing them as inseparable from our own, alongside our interactions with the many forms of nature (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing).
There is scarcely any passion without struggle.Albert Camus
Our love may include opening up to loving, allowing love in, being the love we are. Some of us may confuse love with approval therefore allowing love in without the beliefs of our wounded self. that it must be earned, that we must be worthy of love may be important. As we fully surrender to love (see also The Pain & Joy Of Life - Opening Our Heart To Heal Love), valuing our own existence, essence, may support us. How we love ourself, opening our heart, connecting to love in its many forms, how we embrace ourselves with compassion and understanding, belong and share love with others may enrich us. Love, it is said, is our true spiritual nature.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.Carl Jung
Inconsolable, Dark Night Of The Soul Mark Twain writes "Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody". For some our low feelings, despair may also be of an existential nature (see also Associated Feelings). When we have descended into the dark, it can be as if we will never see the light again. Hope can be elusive. Sometimes it can be as if we have sunk to the bottom of the well, collapsed on our knees, shattered in pieces. When we are in despair it can be as if our heart is breaking in grief, or we are quaking with fear. In this dark place there may be silence, and in this stillness, for some may live solace, love, or a holy place, yet not for others. In this "dark night of the soul" we may struggle to know or find any peace, love. "The darkest hours are just before dawn", as the proverb says. Yet all that dawns upon us and the world around us may go unnoticed. It may be challenging, yet moving for us to take responsibility for our own emotional wellbeing (see also Allowing, Embracing, Integrating What We Ignore - Our Shadow, Light & Dark Side). Having a willingness to feel any core, painful feelings, emotional resilience and strength can be challenging. Grieving what we need to grieve, let go of what we need to (maybe the dark night of our dying, long protected, now redundant ego's defences) may be essential towards our healing. Our compassionate work may also begin when we not only experience our darkest of nights, nihilistic beliefs, finding our way through these, but also reaching out to another, a trusted person willing to be with us, hear us, who offers us solace. And importantly we too can give ourselves a solace, comfort ourself, see our self as we actually are, forgive ourself, accept ourself, love ourself. Committing ourselves regularly to exploring our false beliefs and negative thoughts - the ones we constantly tell ourselves, may also support us. As Camus wrote "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer". A doorway through this darkness for some may also include being in touch with and expressing not only our primal wound but also our creativity in its many forms (a mantra, poem, piece of music, work of art) - something deeply moving, which moves our emotional state if we are willing to allow ourselves to be moved, what energises us. Being open to surprises, spontaneity, windows of hope can emerge, as we discover our own source of solace. A lifeline in the dark may be the knowledge that we are in transition, that something is transforming, meaning is being made, that within the darkness and little deaths we face, comes a rebirth, that something else is emerging for us. Some of us can be supported by our spiritual, religious faith, spiritual guidance, meaning we are being guided in the highest good, even in the darkness - that we are not abandoned by our higher power, that there is light in the darkness when we stay open to love, truth, and that this is more important to the outcome of things as we keep our heart open to higher guidance. (See also Relaxing Into Our Being - Being In Our Being, Being Fully Human, Soulful)
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.St Julian of Norwich
The Pain & Joy Of Life - Opening Our Heart To Heal Love Some may hold strong, nihilistic beliefs that don't let in joy. Protecting ourselves against fear of rejection, abandonment, engulfment may date back to when we learnt to close our heart, be in our head. Others may believe that the only way to find joy is through avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. Some of us can feel broken-hearted, living from our wounds, stuck in this place of heartbreak or heartache, the grief of being human. Some may crush anything good, unwilling to yield to be free to love. We may hold back our tears of both joy and pain. And when we try to avoid pain (maybe through cynicism), yet when we avoid pain, remain sad, we also avoid joy (where both pain and joy can be held in the heart) - our rapture, enthralment, pleasure, contentment, pride and sense of triumph, relief, hope, optimism, where room for spontaneity, surprises, may have become limited. We may fear we are unable to handle our pain, to trust we can. Forgiveness may free our heart to breathe. Fully surrendering to the power of love, letting go of the past also enables us the freedom to create our future. Evoking our courage to open and soften our heart, embrace our emotions, compassion, taking responsibility for our feelings, letting love flow, is our choice and opens us up to our own lovability supported by setting healthy boundaries to guard our heart. Experiencing what we enjoy, living our desires, rejoicing our life, may matter to us. Valuing and listening to our heart's desires - the knowledge of our heart and what's important, no longer needing validation, approval, affirmation, reassurance, confirmation, permission, recognition, appreciation, praise, attention, adoration, admiration from others, staying present, centred in our body - grounded (so we don't abandon our self), living from our growing heart, following our heart's desire, learning to trust ourselves, love us and others may be important for us. And when our heart opens (neuroscience informs us that our heart has its own brain - adaptive, functional, neural networks), through our intent, so too may our mind and we may feel more relaxed when the things around us change and we can feel more emotionally connected to others as we mentalise. Taking charge of our background thoughts, listening to our heart's vision, living through our heart - even through learning, conflict, our tears, vulnerable, courageous, being accepting, having gratitude and appreciation, being kind, can create more fulfilling relationships as we open our heart to others, empower our responses, inform our actions, ethical challenges. When we have intent to be a loving human being, this can put us in touch with the open hearted experience of joy - an elevated mood and can for some bring us into alignment with our deeper purpose, what we value. For others being in touch with our sense of playfulness, fun, light-heartedness, liberating our energy, opening not only to joy, but also our enthusiasm, delight, ecstasy, bliss - the wonder of the present moment and our vitality, the receiving, giving and sharing of love can be a measure of success for us or may connect us to spiritual enquiry, experiences.
Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on thee. And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.Robert Frost
Joy Even when life is challenging we can still hold joy in our heart. If we put a lid on expressing our authentic pain (e.g. heartbreak, heartache, sadness, grief, loss, our or others suffering), we put a lid on our joy. When we are connected with presence, our essence, we create from a place of joy, can lean into joy. Joy can be available to us when we've surrendered to what gets in the way are not dependent on outcomes, achievements, or coming from our wounded self or stuck in our head, staying in our mind. We experience joy when we open to learning, loving ourself and others. Joy can also be experienced as our essence, connection with a spiritual source, which fills our heart and soul, when we are openhearted, expressing our joy through belly laughter, smiling. (Whereas happiness tends to be when we experience good things and is more short lived, once we are fulfilled, get what we want.) The therapy can explore what brings us joy.
Opening Our Heart, Expanding Our Heart Our heart may contract (e.g. be unforgiving, judgemental) and expand. There is no right way to connect with our innate loving essence. Yet our intention and willingness to do so influences our heart opening. Possibilities for us may include:
- Letting go of what we need to
- Relaxing into our being
- Having gratitude
- Practising mindfulness
- Being compassionate
- Being kind
- Appreciating beauty
- Being in touch with grace
- Having humility
- Counting our blessings
- Speaking our truth
- Having a sense of our spiritual wellbeing
Living Life To Its Full Promise A challenge may be to live to our full promise and potential, for love, expanding mind and pleasure, imagination, creativity and spiritual growth. Some may want to connect to a deep compassion for the world. The counselling and psychotherapy considers the unconscious forces pointing to our own potential.
We can't "do" being.
Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold Being aware what takes us away from ourselves may support us. What we do matters and being mindful of what we do may benefit us so we not only live a role-based life but also a soul-based life and there is less internal disconnect ("What does it have to do with the agenda of my soul?" we may ask). We may also disconnect by being stuck in our head, heart closed. Some of us can be so busy or successful, endlessly "doing", striving or achieving things (including in our work, getting the most of each moment, creating the perfect relationship, having an orgasm, peak experiences), only goal-driven (meaningful as they are) - we may feel disconnected from our self and others, forget our own qualities of simply "being" - being there for ourself, present in the moment (which gives us momentum), centred in our own ground, anchored, neglecting our very existence, our real self, and need to connect and belong, value each day and moment, our own intrinsic worth. Moments often come in our life when we realise "I have to be myself", my "I-am-ness" and we may want to get back to being the person we want to be - in touch with who we are. "How am I going to live rather than just doing things, achieving things, getting things done?", "How do I want to be?" maybe a questions we hold (see also Life's Journey, Initiations - Connecting To Our Own Inner Journey, Direction & Creating Our Own Destiny). It is our being that motivates us. Doing things from the outside-in, or being from the inside-out may be our choice. Choosing to do things with a heavy or light touch may be important for us (see also Building, Maintaining, Scheduling Supportive Habits, Routines, Rituals, Patterns). Some of us may fear the unknown or silence and this can for some be anxiety provoking, and for others a place they are closest to themselves, the world and beyond, where we can have a sense (space) of timelessness and wellbeing, where rather than dividing our time into separate activities, all that we are experiencing is our time. And our state of being need not be serious, can be playful, carefree and light-hearted, intuitive - nourishing us. We can experience this energy. What worries or preoccupies us can be forgotten or seen with a different perspective. Sometimes our "being" and "doing" can be out of kilter with one another, which can be explored in the counselling and psychotherapy. On other occasions it can be as if our "being" and "doing" merge into one as if we are a spiritual being having a human experience - no longer feeling separate, when we are immersed into an activity - putting our conscious attention into it - our being into our doing. We can have a sense of synchronicity as if life speaks to us and we are in tune with it, connected (see also The Connections We Need & Make, Impact Of The Unconscious), where things chime, "in the zone", as if we are in touch with and going with the flow of life - the momentum of will is aligned (see also Setting Boundaries Psychotherapy - What We Resonate - Noticing Our Energy, Vibration, Energy Inside & Outside Of Us), relaxed, concentrated with a level of focus, discipline and freedom (see also Life Transformation, Alchemy). We may experience self-love. From this place our concept of time may be more fluid, as may our fluidity of internal presence (and the connection between our body, feelings, mind) in moving between doing things and simply "being" (see also The Realm of the Unconscious) and counselling and psychotherapy offers us a space to explore this. (See also What We Do With Certain Things)
We have fallen into the place where everything is music.Rumi
Navigating Between Being & Doing We may want to distinguish between who we are and what we do in our work, achievements, especially some men, integrating who we are - being ourself and in our own inner authority with what we do, synthesising (Difference Between Professional Confidence & Personal Confidence) our "being" and "doing" aided by disidentification. Achieving our goals while being present, open, loving, compassionate with ourselves and others may be important, so we take loving actions, without being attached to outcomes regarding our self-worth and happiness. Navigating between both our being - awareness, and doing - responsibility, can be challenging, as we allow our "doing" to be an expression of our "being" - though not a definition of our "being". As a distraction we can be so busy doing things, we overlook the meaning (as T.S.Eliot says "We had the experience, but missed the meaning"). Wrapped up in our "to do" list, we can forget we are human beings and can also create a "to be" list - improving the quality of our life. We can make space for our "being", taking us away from day to day anxiety and letting go of our redundant "defences" by relaxing, reflecting following our "No" or "Yes" out in the world or immersing ourselves in often simple, ordinary routines, repetitious, pleasurable or nurturing tasks. We may take enjoyment from having downtime, doing the small, everyday things in life well, which in our own simple way can make us feel satisfied, good, great, give us a sense of being in the now. We can nourish ourselves, be connected and find ourself simply by being creative, in touch with what inspires us, our home truths through healthy distractions or self-soothing through interests and activities, especially those that integrate the energy and sensations of our head, heart, body and creativity, such as music, playing at anything, taking a shower, bath, washing dishes or the car, ironing, gardening, cleaning, looking after the home, DIY, cooking, sewing, knitting, fishing, movements - including walking, exercising, tai chi, sports, dancing or singing, baking, exploring the recipes, being in touch with our passions, art, pottery, painting, being engrossed in a good book, writing, poetry, journal keeping, being out in nature, being with animals, socialising (e.g. connecting with a long lost friend), travelling, taking a holiday, experiencing pleasurable things, including our work, playing, having fun, a child's laughter, walking, being on top of a mountain, by a pond, making love, mindfulness, meditation, worship, praying or simply stopping and doing nothing, being mindless. And some of these connections we make may be of a spiritual nature, leading to peak experiences.
Nothing we need to do, nowhere we need to be.
Relaxing Into Our Being - Being In Our Being, Being Fully Human, Soulful Our intention - whether we use activities to avoid difficult feelings or care about ourself shapes how relaxed we are. Relaxation is intrinsically connected to the relationship between our body, feelings, mind (see also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Help). And some of us may want, yet are afraid to simply "be" or expand their "beingness" through change - broadcasting our "being" energetically (which may not necessarily mean we are fully relaxed, happy or that we have to believe we should be different to how we are - more just allowing space for each moment - see also Eternal Presence Diagram). Shakespeare provokes the challenge of being - "To be or not to be" and Alice Walker comments - "You don't always have to be doing something - you can just be, and that's plenty". Linked to the source of our inner being, we may also want to simply be joyful, discover all the different ways of connecting, be in touch with our kindness, light-heartedness, playfulness, carefreeness, laughter, fun and our sense of humour have the freedom to be how we want to be in our own ways (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit). However, we are not a closed system out of relationship with others. Not only being self-focused, also being with others "in the moment" helps us connect to our own being, as can giving, surrendering or dedicating our self to other people or a greater good, embracing love, as if we are being love, the energy of love - the love we are (see also Setting Boundaries Psychotherapy - What We Resonate - Noticing Our Energy, Vibration, Energy Inside & Outside Of Us). Living with significant of being in the world, beyond our symptoms, may matter to us. Some of us may also experience dark nights of the soul. What stirs our soul, an individual aspect of spirit - these deepest aspects of our self, consciousness in and beyond us may be something we are in touch with through our elevated moods, creativity, intuition, compassion, sense of dignity, rightness, meaning and purpose. This way of relaxing into our Self, being responsible, caring, loving as part of our nature - being love in the world may be experienced as intrinsic for us, our inner child, essence, presence, as if close to our soul (outside the limits of our body, qualities of which include our intrinsic self-worth, suffering and love, relinquishing what we need to let go of) - "soul making", evolving our heart in the ability to love. These experiences have been described as the soul's journey, starting through our intuition (as Einstein says "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant") loving ourself and sharing our love with others, which for some may point to a need to be loving in our actions in our relationship, marriage, or for others lead to a spiritual search, our spiritual nature, or need to know spiritual Love - the love that is us, that we are human and divine, our soul self. These encounters as we transcend our identifications, relinquish what we no longer need to hold on to may actualise us, evoking our own existential dilemmas, put us in tune with ourself, the community and the wider world, our interdependence, interconnectedness.
Being is. Being is in - itself. Being is what it is.Jean-Paul Sartre
Our Psyche The psyche has a dimension that is more than the brain. Psyche, or soul, can be viewed as interchangeable. The Greek meaning for psyche is evolving soul, the non-material dimension of our existence - the place where our imagination, dreams and thoughts reside, a transcendent (see also What Happens After Physical Death? - Nothing? Afterlife? Reincarnation? Pre-life?) level of reality, alongside the narrative, soul-making meanings we make.
Are you searching for your soul? Then come out of your prison. Leave the stream and join the river that flows into the ocean. Absorbed in this world you’ve made it your burden. Rise above this world. There is another vision...Rumi
Simplicity, simplifying things - valuing the ordinariness, simple, small things, repetitious routines in life when nothing much is going on, just being in our doing things (maybe visiting the shops, preparing a meal, enjoying good food, a hot bath, a wonderful book, cleaning, chatting to a neighbour, daydreaming, nature, a belly laugh, moving music, laughter, a warm embrace, being with supportive friends, loved ones, etc.) can be overlooked for some of us. Not everything can be profound, extraordinary (or perfect) and we may underplay the meaning, value or appreciate these aspects of our life, that are simply good enough - maybe our relationship, work, friendships, home. The world can be complicated, frenzied, noisy, full of infinite options, ideas, opinions, products. Pairing our life down, so we focus on the essentials, may be important for us. We may want to simplify our life, have more time for clarity, more space, more energy, more vitality. In order to make life easier and efficient and live a soft yet powerful life. Simplifying our life by reducing distractions, streamlining our process, letting go of things may also mean letting go of any wasteful thoughts, time and energy, things which take up too much space and no longer need to, de-cluttering our space, schedules including any physical clutter we have accumulated, our gadgets (information overload, social media overuse), clothes, shoes, etc. may impact on us. This can enable us to enjoy the precious commodity and quality of our time on this planet, and live in the present, doing less, living a balanced life, so we limit stress and reduce the likelihood of burnout, where our focus is more connected with our inner life alongside our external life, valuing. (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Help)
Why am I soft in the middlePaul Simon
Why am I soft in the middle, now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard.
Beauty Beauty is ever-present in obvious, small and surprising ways, if we allow it - even in the mundane. Being in touch with, appreciating, loving beauty in its many forms, the beauty within of our body, whether in truth, people, nature, art, sport, music, dance, computers, etc. may stir us, matter to us and we can feel moved, uplifted by beauty, feel alive. Beauty on the outside may be easier to identify with (as if we only see or want to possess beauty outside of us) than cultivating beauty, noticing being in touch with, appreciating, honouring our own beauty and that of everyone around us, our inner child within, our inner qualities, intrinsic self-worth, alongside focusing outwards to the wider world (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold).
Beauty is truth – truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.John Keats
Our Connection With Awe & Wonder In awe, we may experience perceptions that are bigger than us and in awe feel connected to the world. Awe can be experienced as admiration, reverence, respect, something sublime, overwhelming at times. Whereas when we experience wonder, we are able to think clearly,(even though we may know something without being fully sure of what it is we know) be curious alongside feeling good, experiencing elevated moods. Some may experience wonder, astonishment, amazement, connected to something beautiful, remarkable or to a phenomena beyond ourselves ranging from the simplistic (e.g. the simple ordinariness in life, routines, the small things in life, nature, a child's laughter), or that we simply exist, are in the moment (the beauty and magic of existence), to the extraordinary (e.g. the awesome night sky), maybe through peak experiences.
Gifts Reviewing our intent to give gifts may be important. Giving gifts through kindness without any strings attached, without an agenda to get something back, without expectations for gratitude, approval, that the person must appreciate it, like it, use it, may be a challenge for us at times (see also Giving, Receiving & Sharing Love - Loving & Being Loved).
Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person's life.Jackie Chan
The Power Of Kindness Choosing kindness over niceness may be a challenge for some. And it doesn't need to involve grand gestures, yet does involve our presence - noticing when someone is kind to us or there's an opportunity for us to be kind. We may have built walls to shut ourselves off from kindness. We may have certain fears, reservations, that we will be seen as weak, taken advantage of if we are kind, that we may end up feeling rejected, hurt. And this hurt may date back from unkind responses in our childhood. If we are shut down or discount others to protect ourself, we may also be rejecting ourself, feel bad inside, self-critical or judgemental, struggle to be kind, become fiercely independent or perfectionist. We can choose kindness as our guide, kindness towards our emotions - our inner child, body, others and if we treat ourselves unkindly, we are likely to treat others the same way. And similarly, if we are unkind, harsh, judgemental to others, we are likely to be so for ourselves. Yet we all affect each other at one level we are all one, part of a whole, where unkindness, kindness reverberates around us (see also Speaking From Fear Or Love, Kindness). When we feel good about ourself and spread kindness, this has a ripple effect. We may believe others may think us strange if we are kind, that we want something in return, and we too may wonder what is the point of being kind without any reward. (Some may confuse being nice - which can come with strings attached with being kind - which tends to be more sincere, wanting nothing in return.) We can't ignore our own circumstances, struggles, anxiety, behaviour, etc. yet our difficulties don't have to rule out being kind - coming from our heart, our true self. (When we are pressurised often just small acts of kindness, a genuine smile can reduce this.) If we have fallen short in some way and recognise when we've gone wrong, we may want to be kind to our self as we would be to others - giving ourself space, be mindful in how we talk to ourself, stop any negative self-talk, holding self-compassion. Being kind to ourself and our body, having unconditional love to ourselves and others - having compassion, empathy and appreciation, gratefulness, being thankful for what we have with our sense of loving care towards others often enhances our own happiness and benefits others' wellbeing and esteem, reduces stress, enhances social interactions. Kindness is powerful and just being pleasant, nice (without losing our power) because it makes us feel good may be important to us. Being in touch with the virtue of our kindness - an elevated mood, expressing this, keeping our heart open, utilising our vision, being compassionate, with generosity of spirit, softness, honouring our and other people's small achievements, accomplishments and extending unconditional kindness (some offer kind thoughts, meditations, prayers, wishing others well, health, happiness), blessings to others with no agenda, thought of reward, offering acts of service, often makes not only others but also us feel good with a sense of joy. Connection to individual kindness may also link us to becoming moved by a collective kindness - a love of one another in touch with our internal response to promote wellbeing in others - agape.
Kindness is an inner desire that makes us want to do good things even if we do not get anything in return. It is the joy of our life to do them. When we do good things from this inner desire, there is kindness in everything we think, say, want, and do.Emanuel Swedenborg
Wellbeing Of Others - Generosity Of Spirit, Being In Service Towards Others, Acts Of Service When we are grounded in understanding we belong to the world and the world belongs to us, and our heart is open, we find it easier to make others welcome, accepted and connected, and can take initiative with our generosity of spirit, giving everyone an experience of belonging. Moment by moment we have choices whether to be mean-spirited or generous, acting in detrimental or beneficial ways in regard to the wellbeing of others, have meaningful interactions with others, trusting our intuition without expecting anything back or sacrificing ourself. Yet we all need to belong and in each moment we may be faced with being neutral, mean-spirited or taking our initiative, leading the way, willing to open our heart, having goodwill, being kind, generous in our acts of giving - giving things, our time, encouragement, opportunity, ourself - not necessarily through grand gestures. And alongside through valuing, being in service towards others, giving, being altruistic, simply listening, carrying out acts of service to others, the wider community, humanity (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony), giving with good intention with generosity of spirit (see also Embracing Ourselves With Compassion & Understanding For Us & Others, Being Loving, Sharing Love With Others - What May Help Us), this can also give us great satisfaction, meaning, give us what we need and the experience of grace.
God does not command that we do great things, only little things with great love.Mother Teresa
Grace Grace is the feeling of extraordinary wellbeing that enters our heart when truly open, what we experience when love rather than fear motivates our behaviour, thoughts. We may struggle to be graceful, compassionately forgive, accept our helplessness about changing outcomes, others, needing to yield to reality, let go. Grace (an aspect of love), like blessings, isn't necessarily associated with religion. We cannot force or pretend we have grace. Yet we can let grace in - be open to learning about loving ourselves and others, because it is our intention and effort to do so. And calling up the strength and wisdom of grace that everything is connected can for some be experienced as being from a spiritual source.
Blessings - To Bless & Be Blessed, Counting Our Blessings We may place our focus on what's wrong with our lives. We can shift our focus less on life's blemishes and more on life's blessings - the good things in our lives, focusing what boosts our morale, motivation and resilience. Holding grace, counting our blessings, having appreciation, gratefulness, gratitude honours us and others. Choosing to freely give our blessings, thanks through us to others (beyond their blemishes), maybe through pleasant thoughts, appreciation, complements, a smile with generous kindness - even those we don't get on with. Blessings for some can be experienced as recognising the divine in us, others - and blessings form a part of many religions.
Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.Joseph Campbell
It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.
Seeking Deeper Meaning As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." Yet some things in life are meaningless and not everything has meaning. Sometimes in life (maybe nudged through crises) we sense a need, a call to meaning, yet there are no answers to what gives us meaning. (For some, being clear about what meaning isn't can take us closer to what meaning feels like for us.) We have to find our own way and on occasions we can find some meaning, only to lose it again (as Mike Tyson once said "Everyone has a plan: until they get punched in the face"). We can spend years studying life's philosophies, yet still be no closer to meaning. Life meaning is the meaning we give - it evolves and moves throughout our life from the simple, small moments of contentment to the profound (and a lot in-between). Some may have a sense of nihilism (not necessary a negative trait), meaninglessness in our life and a search for meaning in life can also be a way of not allowing our vulnerability, tenderness to surface, avoiding our painful feelings (see also What Stands In Our Way - Stumbling Blocks, Obstacles, Reluctances). Reflecting upon our mortality, loss of meaning, meaninglessness (often experienced when our ego's defences are no longer up), may for some bring up disturbances - a sense of pointlessness, unfulfillment, a search for existential meaning, some of which may point to our feelings of emptiness, an existential crisis or a search for our own purpose in life. At certain moment we can also experience life as not so much meaningless, but having too much meaning for us to grasp. Peggy Lee sings "Is that all there is" and we may be searching for a secret to feel OK in our life only to realise there is not one or view life as absurd (see also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Internal Calmness - What May Help). The counselling and psychotherapy can be a space to hear our experience of this alongside how meaning can not only be absent for us, but also emerge through brokenness, suffering including our own dark nights of the soul. Our meaning of life can be simply living, creating our life, flourishing, expanding ourself, growing towards our potential, expanding ourself, with meaning - to be who we are on the planet today. Therefore, a fulfilling meaningful life can be simple in its structure, personal and familiar, connected to valuing the ordinariness, simple, small things, repetitious routines in life. Yet we may be questioning what really matters and is meaningful, what might experiences and events, our life, mean, what we need to learn and give us meaning, which is enough for us. Defining our meaningful existence, living our life towards this, may occupy others. Finding meaning - what something's saying to us, what we can learn, helps us make sense of things, experience life differently, live our joy, deepest desires, grow. Connecting to our heart's vision, what we care about, our passion, intimacy, meaningful connections, can give meaning to our life. To be fully human, being our most human gives us meaning. Meaning on the one hand can be seen as just imagination, evolving consciousness. The meanings we make have both individual and social contexts (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony). Meaning may be bound up with self-understanding, connections, care, intelligence, creativity. Meaning for some can be about discovering our gifts and giving them away, for others - simply the stories, narratives we tell. Understanding our true nature gives many of us meaning. Our personal narrative gives us meaning. It is said that our psyche is meaning-making and the therapy supports us in tapping into our own wisdom and intuition in order to make our own meaning. (See also Evolving Consciousness - The Meanings We Make)
We had the experience, but missed the meaning.T.S.Eliot
It is not easy to define meaning yet it is often associated with commitment, the longer term, sense of purpose, our impact and value, what has heart, what stretches us, engages us, being involved with something bigger than ourself, meaningful communication through relationships with others. As we evolve, we may be questioning what motivates us, pointing us in a direction of questioning what our life means. (Some of us may be so preoccupied by life meaning, that it stops us living, taking action.) Our ambition, longing and yearning or disappointment may also point towards our search for meaning, as may shared grief, shared suffering. We each make our own life meaning. And sometimes we can be searching so hard for deep meaning in life, yet overlook what's in front of us - finding fulfillment, meaning in kindness, love, nature, meaningful work, projects and personal relationships, family, friends - see also Connecting With, Being In Touch With Supportive Others - Building A Circle Of People Around Us. (Embracing ourselves with compassion and understanding for us and others, being loving, sharing love with others, promoting the wellbeing of others - generosity of spirit, being in service towards others for some can give us meaning.) Some of us may try to make sense of things by understanding connections between events and our experience, our perception. Some people's curiosity, or current circumstances, may lead them to seeking a deeper connection to themselves and the world, a deep sense of fulfillment. As we self-reflect, we may then see life in a larger than material context, searching for deeper meaning in various ways, learning what we need to learn. It is part of the human condition to have belief in something, have hope for the future, which gives us meaning - a quality of the soul. Our quest for personal meaning - what things symbolise for us, may also point us towards our self-values and exploring what it means to take care of ourself and others. Having meaning gives us a sense of freedom, internal presence, truth and staying present connects us to meaning, where simply being in the moment can give us meaning. The decisions and what we do with our life may also determine the meanings we make. Being open to self-knowledge, staying present to meaning, rather than pretending we know it - tolerating not knowing, can paradoxically bring us closer to meaning, as can addressing the essential meaninglessness, existence and non-existence of life, truthfully, authentically and consciously. As our consciousness awakens, evolves, continuous multiple meanings are created, we may become aware of a collective consciousness, which is beyond the personal. We may have a sense of universal consciousness, which may include a spiritual awakening (Self-realisation), love in its human and divine form, leading to a spiritual enquiry or deepening, for some. (If our God said "Well done, you've done a good job in life", living a good life may also give us meaning.) Either way, as we let go, free of identifications and attachments, and often in silence, we may want to listen and respond to that voice of SeIf, from our heart, which may be experienced as small and awkward at first.
The only journey is the journey within.Rainer Maria Rilke
Life's Journey, Initiations - Connecting To Our Own Inner Journey, Direction & Creating Our Own Destiny Life can be experienced as a series of events, initiations designed to challenge us to move out of old ways towards making different choices, decisions as our consciousness evolves (see also Transforming Our Life). We may struggle with a happy ending to our journey if we are unhappy along the way and the way we are feeling. Fuelled by advertising, media, and aspects of religion, we may live our life as if there is an arrival point - a time and a place, when we feel complete, reach our goal, get to our final place, have it all, things are perfect, we have arrived and will be at peace. We may struggle to relinquish what we need to accept imperfection, incompleteness, the unknown as part of our humanity and be in the moment. As Ralph Emerson quotes "Life is a journey, not a destination" and the therapy explores our own journey (outer journey and inner landscape) and important destinations, what they mean for us. Yet in many journeys (including our journey of individuation) there are roadblocks, potholes in the way - can we relax and enjoy it may be one challenge. Our life could be seen as one interconnected journey where we are on an emotional, psychological journey, affecting our physiological journey - the physical feelings in our body or spiritual journey - however this speaks to us. Our heart connects us to our soul within. And this for some may include evolving our heart in the ability to love - what has been described as the soul's journey of consciousness (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing). Choosing our own path, settling in to our own journey, slowing down, accepting our feelings, may support us. We may feel lost inside, have lost direction and connecting to our purpose may help give us direction. Like a train, our thoughts can take us to many destinations, different directions. Being clearer about the direction, destinations (even undiscovered ones) we may want to head towards and strengthening our capacity to choose, may be important for us and to make things happen to get there. When we are connected to our authentic sense of who we are, our real goals - what we truly need and what we are doing - committed to something really worthwhile (our inner direction), our will (motivational forces) or universal forces, energies, can be very powerful, especially when our supportive habits help create our destiny. When we act from our innermost place (see also Inner Flame), in touch with our free will, we have the potential to be more creative. Our curiosity, ideas, imagination and aspirations, free will, can support us. Past trauma may inhibit our sense of direction. Liberated from our past, free of our old defences and free from anxiety about the future (see also Suffering & Love - The Bigger Picture), we are able to let go of things, be present, "in the moment", responding more intuitively, listening to whether our feelings are informing us that we are heading towards our direction. Windows of opportunity seem to occur more. Some people acknowledge that we (or our soul's journey, soul's essence) is on this planet to learn, evolve in love, compassion and empathy in this lifetime and experience how free will, providence, our soul's destiny and inspirational guidance and insight seem to play more of a role in their lives, as if our life is co-created. Creating our own destiny with a range of different potentials may be important, envisioning our future - framing our thoughts, beliefs (see also Reframing, Limiting Beliefs, Mindsets), images, to how we want to live, embodying this, living this. What all this might mean to us, inside the depths of our own psyche or soul, how we might live our life's journey creatively and what we dedicate our lives to, may present new challenges. On this journey we may come across other travelling companions - fellow travellers, some like-minded, others incompatible. They may encourage us to travel further, whereas others may have held us back. Some may stay with us until their own journey takes a different course and we part. How to influence each other and humanity's destiny in small, simple or powerful ways through our actions, manifesting both our inner and outer evolution, may also be a need for some (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit). Enquiry for some may also include exploring the journey from physical death to spiritual dimensions.
Watch your thoughts, they become words;Frank Outlaw (also attributed to Lao Tzu who quotes: "A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step")
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Becoming Our Vision, Visualisation, Envisioning The Reality We Wish To Be True Our future (as is our past) is alive in the present, and our future is something we are creating that in turn creates us. Our current perspective may affect our vision both now and for the future. Our outlook determines outcomes. Therefore rather than regressively putting our energy into what's not right in our life, what we don't want, living in lack, we may want to adopt positive, empowering outlooks, progressively place our energy, attitude towards making peace with whatever our current situation is (see also Self-Acceptance, Loving Ourselves Unconditionally) and identifying what we do, want. (This is where having an optimistic attitude can support us.) When we capture our ideas, allow them to percolate, envision a positive outcome, this builds momentum, helps motivate us into action, so we do something - taking the idea forward. Some of us may view life as a journey, want to connect to our own inner direction, create our own destiny, envisage our future each day as if it has already happened - visualising best case scenarios, the reality we wish to be true. Acknowledging our view of reality, utilising our free will, we may also want to be the author of our own life, more in touch with our vision (especially those who tend to procrastinate). Our heart's vision can give us meaning. We can get closer to our heart's vision by opening our heart, being kind, embodying our values and passions - what inspires us, supports our direction as we imagine, create our future by what we envision shaping and creating our destiny now, through also building, maintaining supportive habits, routines, rituals, patterns. We may want to mentally rehearse each step towards the new habit we want to build, imagining our desired future. Visualisation (imagination) can greatly assist envisioning and creating the future we want, as can the impact of words we use. The way we feel points towards what we attract and we can only perceive things equal to the emotion we are experiencing which produces chemicals in our body equal to that feeling (including elevated emotion ). We may want to put trust into our intuition, believe, open our heart and fall in love with our future, be conscious of that invisible vibrational energy field, drawing this energy to us. Overcoming the limits of our body, environment and linear time, letting go of what we need to let go of, forgiveness, can propel us towards creating our future, when we tap in to consciousness in and beyond us. Valuing the unknown, having gratitude, faith, aligning our intention, body and mind, trusting changing our thoughts, behaviour, beliefs and actions shifts our anticipation, future script and this helps produce change. Our hope and vision can become a reality. Our thoughts are the language of the brain. And the plasticity of our brain from a neuro-science perspective (what fires together, wires together, in other words, where our attention goes, our energy flows) is affected by what we visualise our future as if we are in the scene, living in the future in the present moment - a state of presence. We can therefore choose to practise our thoughts to bring us joy over pain. All creation begins with a thought. Focusing on our vision and hope changes our brain to look like the brain of our future, affecting the brain's neural pathways (see also Our Flexible Brain), embodying, becoming our creation, through memorising the thoughts in our mind and body, passionately engaging in the process, emotionally experiencing our future, e.g. through embracing our emotions, gratitude, joy, love, enthusing these creative thoughts, as they become our experience. This can help to cause us to feel our creation, future as already happened, signalling our genes ahead of the environment, as if we are biologically wearing our dream. Living our vision can be supported by our goals - how we achieve things (see also Manifesting What We Need). We may be questioning whether our vision is purely in service of ourselves or includes a wider community. Following through our vision with action may be our next step. However, before we take our next positive step, create something new in our lives, we may need to acknowledge what stops us envisioning the positive, including:
- Believing we are only separate, not connected
- Concrete thinking, thinking in absolutes & over-generalising - all or nothing thinking, either/or thinking, duality
- Negative attitude
- Imbalance of pessimism over optimism
- Being a visionary, being a realist
- Unhelpful habitual thinking patterns, unproductive, negative thoughts & their meanings
- Being stuck in self doubt
- Holding on to regrets, struggling to let them go
- Repetition compulsion
- Impending doom, sense of dread
- Catastrophising, awfulising
- Holding on to unhelpful perspectives from our past - what we want to see and why we do what we do
- Negative Scenarios
- Confirming our expectations
- Linking our behaviour to what's happening inside
- Remembering - old emotions, current emotions
- Withholding self-appreciation, gratitude, gratefulness
- Mind, body in opposition
- Predicting when something should/must happen, fixed beliefs
- Closed heart
Each time you make a new choice that is in alignment with your future, you are priming your brainJoe Dispenza
to install the neurological hardware to actually think, act, and feel like the person you want to be in your future.
Our Potency Maybe lost or stuck in some way, some of us may struggle to grow up or feel impotent. We may not only want to develop our potential for love, our own sexual potency but also to be in touch with and express our potency in all its forms - our strengths (see also Intrinsic Self-Worth - Valuing Our True Worth, Who We Are), resilience, power, spiritual power, leadership - being in our own authority, centred in our own ground, harnessing our potential in creative loving ways, supporting our confidence. The counselling and psychotherapy for potency explores our own power and strength. (See also Therapy For Men's Issues - Men & Power)
The idea is there, locked inside. All you have to do is remove the excess stone.Michelangelo
Creative Blocks - Uncovering, Cultivating Our Imagination, Creativity, Inspiration, Innovation, Inventiveness We are all creative, have the capacity to be creative and we may forget how creative we are each day (even in small ways), finding new approaches to solving problems, just doing things differently to simply being humorous (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing). We may have limiting beliefs that creativity is impractical, must only be about art and not about solving problems, making intelligent decisions, combating difficulties and challenges, taking risks, being successful in life. Some may be creative in one aspect, yet struggle in other areas and this can be true about how we use our experiences, e.g. the creative advantages and disadvantages of having a monkey mind. We may want to be more in touch with our creativity, making space for what inspires us and be closer to our being, yet our thinking may have become concrete, less imaginative. Our blocked emotions (even the so called negative ones) may be the very untapped resources we can draw upon to support our creativity. The very blocks that stop us being creative (e.g. our sensitivities, general fear or fear of making mistakes or perfectionism, drives, impulses, urges, daydreaming, unhelpful images on our mind) also have the potential to be creative forces, if we embrace this challenge (see also Diverting, Changing Responses To Our Drives, Urges, Impulses, Passions, Desires, Aspirations, Energies, Creativity). We may have memories of how our creativity became eroded as a child and this can be included in the therapy. We may view vulnerability, uncertainty, ambivalence and not knowing purely as a curse, rather than these experiences themselves also being a means of expressing creativity, facilitating change. It is not our feelings, thoughts, the mundaneness of life, our actions, non-actions (e.g. procrastination) themselves that stops us being creative or remain passive - it is what we do with them. Finding out what techniques, methods support our flexible thinking and creativity and what blocks it, may be important. For example, intense focus can be good for some, yet not others. Overly focusing on the end result and outcomes may sap our energy to be in the present, fully embracing, participating in the creative process. Ways of thinking, feeling, doing that stifle our creativity may also include:
- Indifference, meanness, cynicism
- The need to be right
- Unhelpfully distracting ourselves
- Trying to include everything, struggling to leave things out, which can inhibit us opening the space for something new, fresh
- Being stuck in doing or thinking in familiar ways, struggling to adapt, change or let go, allowing something new to emerge
- Holding all or nothing thinking, limited beliefs that true creativity can only exist if we are suffering, as if we have to be some sort of tortured artist, yet suffering our frustration at times can also be part of the creative process
- Rigid beliefs of what we're "supposed" to create
- Being caught in a love addiction (or other unhelpful habits, addictions)
- Believing that if we lose our self-judgements, criticisms, we will become less creative
- Becoming self-critical, judgemental, or stuck in our self-doubt
- Becoming overly competitive, a perfectionist, over-demanding or fear failure, mistakes or the unknown, which can immobilise us, as may our stress, fear, anxiety
- Unhelpful, redundant, inhibiting rules, loyalties, oaths, sacred cows, obligations, duties, taboos
- Holding on to things we really need to let go of
- Burying ourselves into routine, responsibility or even self-neglect
- Stopping being exploratory, inquisitive (yet when we are in touch with our curiosity, it can spark and support our creativity through difficult times. And in these difficult times (e.g. depression, frustration, anger) we still have the potential to be creative. However, waiting for our creativity to arrive (maybe expecting a spark of inspiration), yet it never seems to.
- Not identifying why we want to be creative and who for
- Becoming disappointed or cynical, closing off our heart, struggling to expect stumbling blocks or allow ourselves to fail
- Struggling to respond to the loneliness, solitude and silence, when we are in the midst of the creative process
- Finding it hard to collaborate alongside others (which can be another source of creativity)
- Struggling to get in there, do the hard work
- Losing touch with hope and what used to inspire us
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.Robert Louis Stevenson
Our Creative Imagination, Creativity, Inspiration, Innovation, Inventiveness We can creatively utilise, expand, play with the depth and richness of our imagination on may paths. Creativity includes a journey of discovery, expression. We are all creative beings and wanting to understand and express things is simply creative and it is our want that can drive our creativity and bring out our original ideas that have value into manifestation. We all have the potential to be creative (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing), imagine with more freedom - tapping into our free will and resourcefulness, the wave of possibilities (utilising our whole range of positive/negative emotions), generating ideas, opportunities, consider other possibilities, including making connections with all our experiences (as Steve Jobs said "Creativity is just connecting things"), synthesising new things. When we do, we can feel more energised, experiencing this momentum directly as if we are "in the zone", as things come together and our concept of time may alter and become more of a "space". In this space we may experience abundance - infinite creativity. Others may experience creativity as a quality of the soul may have peak experiences. And when we are in touch with our vitality, aligning our will and personal power, being receptive to our creative energy (see also Setting Boundaries Psychotherapy - What We Resonate - Noticing Our Energy, Vibration, Energy Inside & Outside Of Us), we can be more creative. (When our creativity and imagination flow - see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit, some people may report an energetic, artistic expression of love and generosity, a heightened sexual energy, heightened awareness of spirituality or a deeper connection to the world.) Inspiration comes from the light burning within, showing us the clear picture. Yet how we inspire our self may be a challenge, and often as we are inspired, so too are we able to inspire others (co-creativity). Being inspired by others (e.g. supportive friends, old teachers, writers, artists, sportsmen and women) can also support our creativity (as opposed to being impressed by others, where we might lose clarity to discern or be overly influenced). We may want to explore ways in which our "creative juices" can flow in and out - by being touch with our creative imagination, creativity, thinking outside the box, tapping into our feelings, getting hold of them, creatively expressing them. Constructively channelling our anxiety (and all our What if? questions) in creative ways may support us, put us in an elevated mood. Counselling and psychotherapy can help explore what we would do without our fear, how to embrace it (and suffering the frustrations of the unknown within the creative process), the different ways of being creative and what sparks our ideas - ones that suit us, what we do with our attention, focus, concentration and how we bring the process of our creativity into form, consciousness. Following our passion, desire can be exactly what we need to do, yet may not always work for others. When we put our work out into the world, we want it appreciated, therefore appreciating what we do, letting it go as we release it out into the world can benefit us, so if there is appreciation, we appreciate it. And if there is not, we don't let this diminish what we've done. The counselling for creativity and the containment of therapy explores our own source of our imagination (e.g. imagining what is going to happen - our creation, believing, embodying, envisioning this) and how this can facilitate change, contacting and expressing our creativity, attitude to risk and put ourself on the line, get in touch with what we know and don't know, what we want to explore and value (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing) (these qualities may live outside of our ego), and how through practice, diligence and discipline we can go off somewhere inside to establish a state of flow if that helps. We may want to consider the following influences, so we can find out what inspires us, personally accesses and enables our creativity, creative process, alongside our own tapped and untapped resources and to provide an end result, so we solve problems, make our ideas happen, experience "Aha" moments, or as Blake wrote "to see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower":
- Not being afraid to fail
- Letting go of outcomes
- Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, courageous
- Putting aside what we know, see where this takes us, explore other perspectives
- Utilising our imagination to bypass our limited thinking to suppose, wonder possibilities, dream, daydream (even utilising aspects of our magical thinking)
- Being in touch with what sparks our stimulus in different spaces, places, what inspires us, what stimulates our divergent thinking, whether it be other people and community - maybe their stories, blogs, art, music, nature, our favourite place, achieving or solving something, doing something useful (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing)
- Considering our own, genuine interest, enthusiasm, excitement and start working on these and no longer only going along with others' ideas
- Opening ourselves up to receive, initiate creative influences
- Getting in touch with what engages us, what's funny, amusing, challenging or painful, all our emotions that can influence our creativity
- Tapping in to the curiosity, fun, creativity and imagination we once had when younger, freer and innocent - our inner child, including any childhood wounds, vulnerability and tenderness
- Being in the company of children (as Picasso said: "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."), or other creative, supportive or inspiring people
- Getting in touch with our passionate energy, being open to its subtle forms
- Remembering what does inspire us
- Being in touch with all our senses (refining them and opening up to our under-used ones), what's around us, what moves, inspires, invigorates, touches, calms, challenges, connects us now, e.g. community, nature, certain people, art, music, sport, meditation, personal interests, passions, desires, etc., navigating between being and doing
- Being in touch with our own alchemical processes, what sows the seeds of our creativity - the mysteries and magic of it, allowing nuggets of creativity to emerge, even in places we wouldn't normally dream of
- Allowing the creative process to unfold, be in the (sometimes timeless) moment
- Being willing to make mistakes, "fail", enter into the unknown or even chaos, and dropping our anxiety around this, allowing for something creative to emerge through this process
- Feeling something creative, inspirational, coming on and collecting it, playing with it, struggling through it, challenging it
- Tapping in to the creativity that occupies our unconscious
- Allowing for surprises, spontaneity, unpredictability, trying new things (sometimes overriding the practical or apparently logical) & seeing what happens
- Thinking flexibly
- Taking inspiration from our own values, from supportive others around us (collaborating with them if it supports our creativity), from all walks of life, being interested & curious about them, their stories, influences, drives, dedication & determination
- Getting out there - being open to new insights, embracing new scenarios, experiences, sensations
- Allowing our creative expression to nudge us towards meaning
- Having some perspective and turning our actions into creative expression (our perspective becomes more enlightened when inspired)
- Being compassionate, open to learning, persevering, developing the resilience to overcome challenges
- Converting our inspiration into action, achieving our goals, however small, making a difference
- Looking after our health, diet, sleep, exercise, etc.
- Exploring doing things differently to what we normally or routinely do & developing, building, maintaining supportive habits, routines, patterns, that facilitate our creativity
- Considering changing our environment to a new, refreshing, formal or informal one - whatever works best for us
- Identifying what routines work for us, our preferred times of the day when we are creative, what conditions, atmospheres, suit us best, e.g. silence, certain sounds, aromas, the light & spaces we prefer that support us being creative, getting down to the work
- During the creative process getting to know what works best for us, e.g. taking lots of breaks, pushing things through when we need to
- Staying focused when we need to
- Knowing when to use convergent thinking, divergent thinking
- Exploring our vision, utilising visualisation, envisioning our future
- Expressing our self from our essence
- Making & protecting time to plan, prepare & think constructively
- Being in touch with our imagination & moving it towards manifestation, utilising our personal will (see also Procrastination Cure? - Mobilising Our Resources To Act)
We are swimming upstream against the current of love when we separate into "us" and "them".Brian Weiss
Love tells us that we are all connected, all equal, all the same, all one.
In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony We are not just a self-absorbed, isolated, cut-off, narcissistic "I", we are also social beings. The individual is part of a social and wider context. On our journey in life we come across fellow travellers. We all live in communities and are also a "we" - being connected, involved with others, sharing interests, interactions, part of something beyond us a vast sea of energy. Imagining we are a guest in the world may also assist us. Boosting, nurturing our relationships, expanding our social circle, relating with others, developing meaningful interactions, giving back to society (see also Embracing Ourselves With Compassion & Understanding For Us & Others, Being Loving, Sharing Love With Others - What May Help Us), offering support to others and being in service to others, a peacemaker, can be both challenging and fulfilling at times, supporting our sense of wellbeing, expanding social unity. As Victor Frankl states: "Being human always points and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself - be it a meaning to fulfil or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is and the more he actualises himself." And being in touch with our vitality, what we resonate - noticing our energy, the energy of love invisible vibrational field of ethereal energy - frequency carrying information, may support us. Where our attention goes, our energy flows. The universal energy (or vibes, vibrations) of others (and not just what we pick up from others, but also what we sense in buildings, environments) affects us, as we too affect others, including our thoughts, moods, etc., universal consciousness. And how we responsibly participate in the world beyond our own interest and environment - see also Ownership, Guardianship, Trusteeship, Stewardship ("rising like lions in slumber" as Shelly writes) and what we transmit is in our hands, gives us a sense of belonging. (And being part of the community of others, what unites us, sharing our interests, may be important to us - see also Connecting With, Being In Touch With Supportive Others - Building A Circle Of People Around Us.) Acknowledging the ripple effect of interdependency - that relationships affect us and we affect relationships, that we are more powerful together when control and love is shared may support us. Experiencing disharmony inside may point to a need to align ourself with the wider world (personal love, collective will and universal love) - see also Universality. Some may be in touch with a sense that at some level we are all one (quantum physics points to everything is just one) - that there is unity, an interdependent love, so as the cells in our body make up our whole, so too do all people, as if we are all connected with all living things in the world - a spark making up a whole, intertwined in a complex pattern of universal energy, which for some may lead to deeper questions (e.g. is suffering and love interconnected?), a sense of mutual interdependence with the environment, all that is living and spiritual enquiry. Appreciating our differences, caring for our planet, may also be significant for us (see also Value Of Nature, Force Of Nature, Energy Of Nature, Harmony Of Nature, Natural Resources). And creating harmony with others may include being cooperative, attentive to what is needed, being available to offer support, sharing good feelings no matter how others behave. Yet a dilemma may be how to be in harmony with ourself, and with the world and vibrations beyond us, seeing the potential, capabilities in others, no matter how they present themselves, being cooperative, part of a global community and in service of this, empowering us and others for the highest good and what calls us - the universal Will beyond our personal Will, in harmony with the greater consciousness, spiritual consciousness.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.Martin Luther King Jr.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Respect For The World Around Us Respect can be seen as being a core human virtue. Having self-respect can be a platform for respecting all of life, nature, the world around us, showing appropriate consideration for others and in our relationship respecting our partner. Sometimes we can get so used to things, taking them for granted, we overlook respect. At times we may live as if only we count. Living also for the benefit of others, being grateful and appreciative of everything, can teach us respect taking responsibility for our interactions with others.
Guidance, Truth Some may view guidance, truth as coming from a spiritual source, whereas others do not. Opening and accessing guidance, truth for some may mean surrendering control, letting go, consciously listening and exploring what personally guides us, our truth without a spiritual context (or imagining what a loving, wise and powerful person would say and do), which can be explored in therapy. For others utilising our imagination, what guides us, truth (see also Our Home Truths), may be experienced as ultimately spiritual and being in our loving adult - as opposed to our programmed mind, wounded self may bring us to spiritual enquiry which can also be explored in the therapy. (See also Truth, Knowledge & Knowing Things)
Spiritually Conscious, Spiritual Search, Spiritual Enquiry, Spiritual Exploration, Spiritual Connections - Our Own Self-Determined Journey, Responsibility Some people may sense we have abandoned our spiritual self, spiritual connection - not nurturing this in our life and this may include "repressing the sublime", "spiritual self-abandonment". We may have neglected our sense of the spiritual, spiritual life, which may not only affect us, but others. When we abandon this part of us in specific ways, we may not only ignore, disrespect ourself, but also ignore the effect on others, who may also feel disrespected. Some of us may live as if only we count or exclusively want to be connected to only our own path, have a spiritual void, not have any spiritual feelings nor desire to pursue a spiritual path, be shy about spirituality. Reaching out for what is beyond and searching for spiritual truth and apprehension, understanding may counter-intuitively entail experiences beyond the intellect and we may have certain inhibiting responses (e.g. closing our mind off to learning about ourself: remaining focused in our mind rather than on our heart, choosing to stay sceptical, cynical - ridiculing others' experiences, fearing being duped, choosing not to believe rather than believe, trying to control spirituality, god - struggling to surrender). We may have been closed to a higher power for love, wisdom, compassion, strength, peace of mind and we may now choose to be open to the spiritual, taking time to connect with love - to the level of our feeling self, our inner child. The therapy offers a space which can guide us in gaining access to our deepest aspirations yet take a value-neutral stance, not directing us to any particular religious or spiritual belief, so what works best for us, what circumstances connect us to the energy of spiritual life, is in our hands. On a spiritual quest, with no fixed goal or outcome, we may want to explore what spirituality and coexistence means for us, the nature of what is determined by God and what is by us. This may include our thoughts, free will, ability to choose, future events. Some may want to incorporate a spiritual solution to problems, value the spiritual dimension to life or view life as a sacred privilege. Some of us may want to explore, put in place, what brings us to our spiritual life, This may include contacting what's most important to us, what gives our life meaning, what we believe in, what gives us hope, what keeps us going in difficult times. Different actions can impact on this, e.g. doing some journalling, setting our intention and rhythm for each day, being open for gratefulness, blessings, being in the moment, being in harmony, prayer, meditation. How our spiritual journey manifests, its development, making our own spiritual discoveries, is our own responsibility, and belongs to us as our own individual exploration linked to our own personal integrity. With open hearted compassion, some may want to undertake a sacred quest of becoming a moral human being, and experience a shift from our mind to our heart, be in touch with a love for others, all of life and the divine - Love from a spiritual source, whatever this means for us. Our own spiritual journey may include regulating our spiritual life, having compassion for us and others for the highest good in our loving actions. This may also include balancing our work with the rest of our life, allowing for our wellbeing, being involved with a community of friends, alongside the connections we make through reflection, meditational mindfulness or prayer, nature, art, creativity and how we also live our life in service of others - not necessarily in grand ways (see also Simplicity, simplifying things - valuing the ordinariness, simple, small things, repetitious routines in life). Being in touch with the interconnectedness of life (others link spiritual union with sexual union), sensing spiritual love, remaining centred and grounded fully in our body, involved in the fabric of everyday living, practical tasks and relating with others (see also Love Of Humanity), being playful, light-hearted, having a sense of humour, joy may also connect us to being human in the world. We may experience spiritual connection in simple or profound moments which lasts for seconds or longer period of time.
The flame of the search is ignited only when we accept our unknowing, and still aspire to discover the truth of our situation.A.H.Almaas
Beliefs, Concepts Of "God", Spirit We may be questioning our notion of "God", spiritual guidance. And our mind may not be sophisticated enough to understand the entity of God. Most religions would state that God is beyond religious comprehension. Growing up, "God" may have been experienced as punishing, judgemental or in human form - often in this culture as male, white (any alienation towards God may be connected to a belief from our wounded self, who is invested in suffering, because it may have been taught that God wants us to suffer). For some, God can be defined as the highest form of consciousness - infinite and immortal. We may also question how can we believe in "God", a benevolent spirit, when so many bad things happen to others, why would "God" let these happen. We may want to be open to our personal experience of "God", spirit, discover a spiritual source of love, wisdom, when we replace trying to get love, avoid pain with our intention to learn about ourself as a spiritual being and others. We may want to explore whether the "God" is everywhere within, around us and how our heart opens to love (see also Suffering & Love), compassion, kindness, guiding us towards our highest good in each moment. (See also Defining Spirituality)
God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that.Joseph Campbell
Pondering spiritual questions, we may want to examine, how we want to live - whatever this means for us in a meaningful way (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold), and this for some may also include being on a spiritual search, path (and being experienced as if spirituality is patiently waiting for us). Spirituality may or may not include specific religious beliefs and can be viewed as how we make sense of the world, find a deeper sense of meaning and belonging in our life. Coming from our core self (rather than only our mind), as we relinquish our resistances, or are in touch with a life force within and beyond us (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony), we may also want to be open to seeing what happens spiritually in our life (this for some may include a surrender, yet without giving up, no longer exclusively attached to outcomes. By embarking upon a spiritual search, wanting to be more in touch with this life force and our creativity, we may want to follow what we are experiencing. Listening to our inner voice, letting go, forgiveness and gratitude, being in touch with our breathing, life's suffering, love, learning what we need to learn may for some also lead to a connection to what is spiritual, a spiritual essence - whatever this means for us, and the need to be in a more "soulful" way out in the world. "Whether we are inside our soul, whether indeed we have a soul, or our soul rests within us?", "How does our soul have a spiritual source?", "What is my spiritual framework of death?", "Does the energy of Love come from spirit?" - may be questions we ponder upon. With parallels to creating a loving, trusting bond in our relationship we may want to invest similar qualities if our intention is to explore, connect to a meaningful spiritual path. (See also Spirituality Through The Experience Of Sense Of Self)
Feeling Spiritual, Choosing A Spiritual Path, Spiritual Direction Love, it is said, is our true spiritual nature. The WHO states "Health is a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing." (See also Psychological Wellbeing, Psychological Health, Psychological Resilience, Mental Wellbeing, Mental Resilience). As we loosen some of the protective patterns of our ego, let go, some of us may recognise our life is empty without its spiritual dimension and want to explore, search what it feels like to flourish spiritually. We may experience spiritual suffering, some sort of spiritual crisis including challenges in overcoming our old sense of identity, need for certainty, to bear the unknown (see also Primal Wounding). We may be in touch with our own fragile existence or existential angst and be drawn to exploring our spiritual nature. We may need to belong, want to explore our own value system, have a spiritual inclination or choose to discover, embrace and integrate this aspect of life, sensing wisdom, strength, comfort or Love from a spiritual source. Entering into the spirit of life may lead us to the spiritual. Others may experience a place deep within that wants to be fulfilled or get to a place in life when we become in touch with phenomenon that is larger than ourself. We may be questioning the impact of the unconscious, sense a consciousness beyond ourselves, and this may lead to a spiritual sensibility. (See also Our Spiritual Roots & Routes - Which May Draw Us Towards Spirituality)
Our Spiritual Roots & Routes - Which May Draw Us Towards Spirituality The roots of our existence, "Big Bang", show how all life, not just human life, was originally sourced from the cosmos, entire universe, and this profound knowledge may draw us towards spirituality. We may be drawn to nature, creativity, art or the meaning of things, as a way of being in touch with, or expressing a sense of the spiritual. Sometimes the spiritual values of compassion and honesty can draw us towards a spiritual path. We may have a desire to love, with an intent to invite Love into our heart, may want to know spiritual Love, that we are both human and divine, fallible and vulnerable, and want to integrate both. The value of Love, nature, our dreams, imagination, metaphor through stories and poetry, art, stillness, meditation, prayer, music and dance, sexual ecstasy may draw us towards a journey of expanding consciousness, a spiritual source of Love, source of support, spiritual awakening, sometimes through peak experiences.
Spirituality, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Wellbeing - What We May Experience & Where It May Lead Us To Flourishing spiritually may include developing love and consciousness in our life and actions, where our spiritual generosity supports everyone's health. This may not only give us meaning, strength, connection with others, improving our relationships, but also enhance our confidence, happiness. Spirituality involves a sense of belonging and connection with the universe, experiences of the deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Spiritual health, growth - the inner experience of strength, peace and optimism whatever our situation, circumstances, means different things to different people. For some this may simply mean, letting go, taking responsibility for themselves, their self-values, and other people. For others, spiritual wellbeing may mean connection with energy larger than the personal, a spiritual connection with nature, the universe. What this energy, higher consciousness or spiritual consciousness means, the experience of Self, is for each individual to interpret. (Where we put our attention, our energy flows. And the frequency of our own energy may be affected by our spiritual energy.) The NHS take into account the place of spirituality as an integral and important part of a person's health and the Mental Health Foundation have published a paper "Inspiring Hope: Recognising the importance of spirituality in a whole person approach to mental health"; many indigenous cultures, schools of psychotherapy also acknowledge the psychological relevance of spiritual experiences and religious events. And spiritual health can include being in touch with or experiencing what connects us in our being. We may find spirituality places us on a path towards ongoing growth, compassion, expanding our personal consciousness, greater consciousness, spiritual power and connection with an universal energy, what is sacred. Spirituality may for some help us understand life through meaning. We may feel more confident, happier, calmer, centred, or experience a deep sense of community. At times, it may help us connect to or give us reassurance, a sense of safety, courage. We may also be in touch with will and volition, love, beauty, simplicity, innocence, as we give up all resistances for a moment, resting in our true nature. Some may experience moments of spiritual serenity - all is well with a sense of harmony, serenity, calm, peace of mind and contentment, maybe through silence. We may report how our perceptions, creativity and sexuality become heightened, our experience of time and formless space alters. The quality of what we see, smell, touch, hear, taste, feel may deepen and we may be in touch with an almost "sixth sense" or what some people call a spiritual energy and our dreams become enriched. A sense of spirituality (or eternal presence) may guide us to a lifestyle, which is good for our and others' health, wellbeing and we may also be drawn to being generous, offering acts of service.
Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences It was Abraham Maslow who originally wrote of peak experiences - rare moments of intense sheer happiness, transpersonal experiences, fulfillment, experienced as euphoric, ecstatic exhilarating rapture or a deeply moving oceanic state of internal presence that generates elevated emotions or advanced forms of perceived reality. And in these peak experiences, our behaviour may effortlessly flow, not constrained by conformity. We may become more mindful of the present moment without past influences or expected future experiences, feeling completely responsible for our behaviour and perceptions. Our mind may become more flexible, free, open to fresh ideas, thoughts. Our judgement and sense of time and space may be altered. These peak moments when we are in touch with our "being" may come from ordinary, simple or intense events and we may experience an internal flow of energy leading up to this. We may have a feeling of utilising all our capabilities and capacities at their highest potential. Triggers for peak experiences may also include creativity, art, music (playing or listening to), etc. (see also Relaxing Into Our Being - Being In Our Being, Being Fully Human, Soulful), gaining profound knowledge, insights, e.g. scientific discoveries, great writers, exercise or extreme sport, orgasm, orgasmic experience, connecting with nature. We may also have peak experiences through a shock, death, opening our hearts, intimate moments with friends or family, being in love, feeling love, making deep connections with others, introspection. We may have vivid moments which make us feel good, joyous or simply being through meditative (or other similar) states, epiphany or religious experiences. When in this heightened state, our internal conflicts, inhibitions, fears, may have dissolved. Having peak experiences for some may mean effortlessly functioning without struggle - an experience of being at one and harmonious - a whole self, where things come together (free of conflict without doubt, inhibition), in the zone, able to flow easier, be more expressively spontaneous, in touch with a will and volition that is not just personal. Peak experiences can be viewed as a gift and we can expect more yet these can't be recreated at whim. Following peak experiences, mystical experiences, we may see ourself and the world in new ways, maybe with new meaning, experiencing everything coming together as one, through space, feel spiritual, and the therapy can explore this further. Mystical moments in our life can be experienced as spiritual experiences including:
- Sense of being outside of time, beyond past & future, timelessness. Loss of usual sense of time, feeling that we experience eternity, infinity, boundaryless space.
- Loss of usual awareness of where we are
- Slowing down of mind, sense of interconnection
- Limitlessness of our personal self, feeling a bond, unity with an entity greater than our personal self. Fusion experience of our personal self with a larger whole. Experiencing oneness in our inner world.
- Awareness of living presence in all things. Insight that all is one
- Oneness or unity with others or objects perceived in our surroundings
- Pure being, awareness at a spiritual height (beyond a world of impressions, sense)
- Experience of unity with ultimate reality
- Feeling tranquillity, peace
- Certainty of encounter with ultimate reality, with a sense of being able to know and see what is really real
- Intense energised ecstasy, sense of uplift, joy, awe
- Have insightful, intuitive knowledge
- Tenderness, gentleness
- Unable to put words to our experience
- Feeling that we experience something profoundly holy, sacred
Defining Spirituality Spirituality can be about a never-ending curiosity - being curious about love, energy, connections and interconnections, expanding consciousness, presence (see alsoBeliefs, Concepts Of "God", Spirit). This for some may require addressing (see also), embracing our own inner shadow, negativity, exploring cultural conventions. We may experience or define spirituality as what we are born with - the natural part of us, the essence and depth of ourself and connection to something "other", the wonder and energy of life and its interconnectedness, that we are spiritual beings having human experiences, or simply may want to explore or feel connected to a spiritual sense, co-creators with spirit - just valuing, enjoying, engaging in the simplest things of life (see also Simplicity, simplifying things - valuing the ordinariness, simple, small things, repetitious routines in life) without naming it or having a belief system, reducing it to some "thing" or limitations of a "word" (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing). Spirituality, like love, can't just be defined - it needs to be experienced. There is no precise definition of spirituality or religion and the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) attempts to define this: "Both terms, religion and spirituality, lack a universally agreed definition. Definitions of spirituality usually refer to a dimension of human experience related to the transcendent, the sacred, or to ultimate reality. (Quakers talk of spirit that is "ourselves in the depths of what we are... this place where God and me mingle indistinguishably".) Spirituality is closely related to values, meaning and purpose in life. Spirituality may develop individually or in communities and traditions (the experience of which is universal, yet its interpretation is also cultural). Religion is often seen as the institutional aspect of spirituality, usually defined more in terms of systems of beliefs, behaviours and practices related to the sacred or divine, regarding the origin, nature and purpose of existence, as held by a community or social group."
Spirituality is the dynamic dimension of human life that relates to the way persons (individual and community) experience, express and/or seek meaning, purpose and transcendence, and the way they connect to the moment,McSherry et al
to self, to others, to nature, to the significant, and/or the sacred.
Exploring, Connecting To A Sense Or Experience Of Spirituality In order to bypass our own personal issues, struggles, some of us may flee towards the spiritual. Some may link spirituality with loving power, the universe, God/Goddess, what is holy/sacred or an ultimate being (or our own special, cultural, religious, spiritual words we have for an entity larger than us): an ocean of compassion, the sublime, or the experience of opening our heart, divine love, grace, joy, nature and the elements of earth, water, air, fire, ether, beauty, intuition, purpose, truth (see also Truth, Knowledge & Knowing Things). Other word associations that match our experience or our own sense of spirituality may include our creator, higher power or higher guidance, the loving source from where we came, infinity, source energy, a greater good, loving intelligence, intelligent love, benevolence, the deepest place within ourself, our true nature, vast emptiness, wholeness, the one, oneness, essential goodness, divine, consciousness, spiritual will. Spirituality can also be interpreted as an umbrella term connected to mind, spirit, through our hearts and minds. And what this means for us alongside living a spirit-connected life can be explored in the therapy. (Some choose to release our negative feelings to this power asking them to be replaced by acceptance, peace, love, joy, truth, wisdom.) We may want to explore our personal sense of spirituality through the following overlapping areas:
Spirituality Through The Experience Of Our Senses Spirituality may be experienced as being present in the moment connecting to what is spiritual through simply being, living, tragedy, death of a loved one, beauty, pain (see also Suffering & Love), certain disturbances, existential crisis, art, serenity, nature, our senses, the innocence of children, including our own childhood, the depths of humanity or simply whatever deeply moves us. We may experience a profound sense of awe or wonder, timelessness, altered state of consciousness, moments of illumination or depth of psychic awareness, which may reveal experiences of a new dimension beyond our self encountering forces beyond rational understanding. Others may also experience spirituality through a yearning for deep connection, hope, warmth of mankind, Love.
Spirituality Through The Experience Of Sense Of Self Our separateness, connectedness, the awe of where we came from or spark of conception may point us towards spiritual enquiry. Searching for deep meaning, purpose and connectedness or being in touch with a calling may also point us towards a sense of the spiritual, as may questioning why we suffer and the nature of free will. Journeying into the unknown, going beyond our self, revealing new dimensions of our self, absolute truth, humility, wisdom and wholeness, connectedness and sensitivity, empathy with others may also lead us to spiritual enquiry, a spiritual sense. (See also Feeling Spiritual, Choosing A Spiritual Path, Spiritual Direction)
Poets/Singer/Songwriters over decades have written/sang about the internal distinctions and awareness of our "me", "myself" and "I" - the interconnectedness and companionship we experience within ourselves, including loneliness/oneness, as we attend to, accompany ourselves throughout our life within the relationship we experience between our "me", "myself" and "I".
Maybe our "me" is our personality, independence, aloneness, our body-based "me" (and all the different "me's", subpersonalities throughout our life).
Our my"self" could be defined as our self-consciousness, our essence and presence, our being - the soulful aspect of us (this includes spiritual qualities, spiritual consciousness - both in and beyond us).
The "I" can sense something in me (our felt and observational experience that there is a "me") and may include our ability to reflect, direct and act in the world.
Spirituality Through Experience Or Sense Of What's Divine Or Sacred The role of destiny may play a part in our search or sense for the divine or sacred. Maybe through deep connections with others, the wider world, nature, we may experience, recognise, honour a divine energy or ultimate being and want to meditate, have a desire to pray or have personal encounters with a spiritual entity, experience the holy or have sacred moments and want to nourish these. We may experience a sense of oneness, wholeness, unity, union. We may no longer separate Love from spirit.
Faith & Trust In God, A Higher Power, Spiritual Guidance Believing in god, a higher power, even though there is no proof, may be our faith, whereas trust may be more about noticing our actual experience of god or that spiritual guidance has communicated to us for our highest good at heart in small and big ways. This truth may expand to the experience that we are never alone, that we are guided by spirit.
Spiritual Principles & Connection To Spiritual Faith, Religious Faith Some of us may become very righteous, inflated about their own religion or sense of the spiritual, struggling to tolerate other people's religion or those with no religious convictions or spiritual beliefs. We may deny our own faults, vulnerability, shadow, biology, basic instincts, try to hold some sort of religious or spiritual superiority or elitism, which takes us out of relationship with others, stops us learning. (See also The Connections We Need & Make) It can be challenging to take personal responsibility for our religious, spiritual life, how we can be flexible, co-operative, open hearted and not simply follow orders, doctrines. Understanding our self, realigning our sense of self with how we authentically want to relate in the world may be important. Some of us may not be religious at all. Others may hold their religious faith dearly. And, living a religious life, we may deeply value our religion, honouring its important place for us in the world. Our religion may include a spiritual dimension and some may want to be connected to their own spiritual principles or connection to a higher power, which may, or may not be part of their organised religion, aligning their act of faith to this. Others choose to transcend the imperfections of religion, yet tune into our religion's essential core. And our faith may enable us to believe in thought above anything else - the current conditions. What suits us, our religious or spiritual faith, is personal to ourself. Faith for many means we are being guided in the highest good, even if difficult things are happening - that we are not abandoned by our higher power, that there is light in the darkness when we stay open to love, truth, and that it is more important to the outcome of things as we keep our heart open to higher guidance. Some of us really value, practise our religion. Others may baulk against any hierarchical organised religion, choosing to explore what personally works for us, or be seeking a non-prescriptive spiritual life, connecting with gratitude, what is wonderful in life and have a daily rhythm of practice that personally works for us, on our own path, where the experience of this is valued more than the language used. Some may have a transcendental experience of going beyond any specific religion, where diverseness, inclusivity and holistic spirituality embraces the essence of all religious faith without being in competition with each other. The counselling and psychotherapy honours what works for us, alongside our own religious beliefs, spiritual experiences and explorations.
Each day I pray into the silence. I pray to all of them. All of them who are not here. Into this emptiness, I pour all my desire and want and need, and in time this absence becomes potent and alive and activated with a promise. This promise that sits inside the silence is beauty enough. This promise, right now, is amazement enough. This promise, right now, is God enough. This promise, right now, is as much as we can bear.Nick Cave
Prayer & Praying On a simple level, prayers can be viewed as expressing ourselves where we won't be judged or given advice. Talking to God is another description that some have. Many of us value praying as an important ritual in our life, underpinning our connection to God, our religion, and this nourishes us. (Some however may avoid learning about love, a spiritual love, using prayer as an addiction to "bliss" out or as a form of control, hoping to get what we want if we pray hard, enough and often or believe the "right" thing.) Possessing qualities of our gratitude, intention and faith - often religious faith, one objective when we pray from the heart is to connect to a greater power for guidance with our thoughts. We may achieve calmness through prayer, however this can dilute when our wounded self's intent shifts to wanting to control from our wounded self with an agenda in mind (e.g. if I pray enough or do things right, I can control the outcome of things). We may be supported by our spiritual, religious faith, meaning we are being guided in the highest good, even in difficult times - that we are not abandoned by our higher power, that there is light in the darkness when we stay open to love, truth, and that this is more important to the outcome of things as we keep our heart open to higher guidance. And when we pray we have the potential to open-heartedly feel no longer separate as a human being, align our body and mind into a different state of being, asking for, envisioning our future and desired outcome. (In prayer some imagine our future has already been reached - that the end product has already happened - yet not predicting it, where we imagine the scene, living in the future, in the present moment.)
Being Disrespected, Judged For Our Spiritual Beliefs, Spiritual Practice It can be painful when we don't receive other people's approval for our spiritual beliefs, calling upon our own self-compassion for our own wounded feelings, if our spiritual beliefs are rejected, discounted (see also Taking Things So Personally). Some people may view our spiritual beliefs as fanciful, disrespect, judge them or ridicule us for having them. Some of these people may have no personal experience of spirit or be afraid of being controlled, duped, preferring to stay safe in their head, rather than their heart. Sometimes we can let others know that we feel disrespected or hurt, asking them we would like to understand their reason for doing this. However, if we don't think other people are open, we may need to let them know we feel disrespected or hurt and disengage from them if they do so.
Spirituality - Our Possible Challenges, Including Spiritual Crisis Some of us may turn to spirituality as an escape from emotional difficulties (see also Fleeing Towards Spiritual Enlightenment - Spiritual Bypass, Spiritual Smugness), others towards a source of healing. How spirituality connects us to power, love, moves us towards subjective reality or illusion so we are not overwhelmed by inflation or succumb to psychological disturbances where our ego remains intact and we are both autonomously individuated, self-responsible yet part of the community with all living things (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness, Oneness, Unity, Harmony) may be challenging. Some may believe that by experiencing a spiritual path, journey that we can have all the things missing in our life. We may go about fixing ourselves or others so we can be happy. We may believe we have "made it", once we swap all our unhealthy habits away for spiritual practices, "doing spirituality" as an activity, including yoga, prayer, mindfulness, meditation. Some define talking to god as praying and listening to god as meditation. Yet our actions may be hidden, controlling strategies to get all the good things we want (e.g. to be rich, happy, honest, peace of mind, etc.) telling ourself we want to learn, bypassing our feelings (especially avoiding difficult, uncomfortable feelings) as we are now on our spiritual journey. Yet we may use this spiritual path to fix (and ignore) these unwanted feelings, our inner child or false beliefs of our wounded self - wanting our pain, anxiety to go away. We may stay in our old control strategies. Taking responsibility for our spiritual life may be a challenge and our healing work may include listening to our inner child, noticing our intention and not use our spiritual path to ignore our essence. Pursuing spiritual enlightenment, with the ability to self-reflect, maintain humility and transparency may be a challenge for some, changing our lifestyle for others. And we may make assumptions that enlightenment is about experiencing a white light, yet often it may be about experiencing the warmth of conscious, unconditional love. We may want to explore and make sense of our experiences - some of which we may view as spiritual. Spiritually awake, we may be seeking a deeper connection to our own spiritual path, innate capacities and ideals - our full worth. We may be challenged with our own faith and trust issues. We may experience spiritual crisis - challenges of faith, awakening, spiritual emergency. Sometimes our spiritual experiences can become entangled with mental illness, where we may struggle to be grounded, anchored.
No-one's enlightenment is going to enlighten any of the rest of us. So this is a movement inwards: not looking outwards for somebody who is enlightened to make you enlightened.from Amaravati Buddhist monastery writing of the meditation teachings of Ajahn Sumedho
Fleeing Towards Spiritual Enlightenment - Spiritual Bypass, Spiritual Smugness Spiritual bypass happens when we use our spiritual practice through prayer, meditation, etc. or to "bliss out" like an addiction, as a way to get rid of or avoid other aspects of our life in order to escape challenging aspects of our life (the necessity of suffering, accepting imperfection, being forgiving) or as a result of past trauma. Fleeing towards spiritual enlightenment may include fleeing to religious formulas, gurus, books not taking personal responsibility for our own experiences along our spiritual journey or any difficult, uncomfortable feelings, anxiety, hurt, shame, wounds, anger, depression. (Enlightened, we may have become fascinated with the spiritual realm - leaving, bypassing our body - see also Fleeing Our Body, the power of crystals, yet overlook that the spiritual path is about love.) Seeking spirituality without stopping, finding, connecting with our self, ego intact, peace of mind, being in the present moment may inhibit our spiritual connection. This also may require us to connect and embrace our inner shadow, negativity. Our spiritual life may be another form of control, handing over our personal responsibility to spirituality. One challenge may be to take control back into ourself, stand in our own autonomous power. Some of us may use our belief system to avoid feeling or expressing our psychological pain (see also Accessing Our Feelings, Healthily Expressing Feelings, Fully Feeling Our Feelings - Allowing Our Emotions To Flow). With an overwhelming need to be loved and find our worth outside of themselves, there may be an alienated, vulnerable, abandoned part of us (maybe our inner child), who doesn't feel OK. And it may be that our very needy wounded self is motivated to be in charge, convincing us that we are on a spiritual life, yet without loving ourselves, others. We may find it hard to turn to our own loving adult for self-compassion, providing us with enough safety and love of our own, so this wounded aspect of us is healed, OK and safe, integrated into our life - that our sense of self (I) remains without giving our self away. Disempowering ourself, we may bypass this process, fleeing towards the spiritual or become obsessed by religion, maybe holding a smug, insincere composure without being appropriately engaged, authentic in our life. Experiencing some sort of identity crisis, a need for some may be to integrate spiritual or religious beliefs and aspects into our adult life, avoid magical beliefs, thinking, be centred, anchored, grounded, inhabiting our body and at the same time not avoid transcending our pain so we are personally empowered. This may include experiencing our own personal will, free will - open to learning, so we don't lose, bypass our real sense of self with our own identity, faults, basic instincts of our biological creaturehood, flesh and blood realities and shadow, enjoying intimate relationships and consciously choosing to develop and live our own, authentic spiritual life with compassion for ourself and others. Therefore the therapy may explore our intent when we meditate, pray, contact the spiritual - whether this is to avoid pain or connect with ourself and learn about love, alongside the qualities of our inner child being integrated into our life, that we feel internally safe. In our spiritual awareness, spiritual connection, some of us may feel spiritually superior, maybe spiritually smug - basking in our enlightenment. We may need to integrate our own flesh and blood realities - the biology and basic instincts of our creaturehood, shadow alongside our compassion for ourself and others. The spiritual counselling also offers support in not ignoring our messy humanness, so called negative feelings, vulnerability, unwanted aspects, so we embrace our painful feelings, learn about what we are doing or thinking to cause our pain, take responsibility, are fully human, embodied and divine.
And it is a strange thing that most of the feeling we call religious, most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most prized and used and desired reactions of our species, is really the understanding and attempt to say that man is related to the whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known as unknowable. This is a simple thing to say, but the profound feeling of it made a Jesus, a St. Augustine, a St. Francis, a Roger Bacon, a Charles Darwin, and an Einstein. Each of them in his own tempo and with his own voice discovered and reaffirmed with astonishment the knowledge that all things are one thing and that one thing is all things — plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tidepool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.John Steinbeck - "The Log from the Sea of Cortez"
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