by ExplosiveSpirit | Jul 3, 2016 | Explosive Living Daily, Weekly Blog
Spiritual awakening is not always gentle
Busy people with busy lives often miss or ignore signs from the universe telling them to look up, slow down, breathe and just be. If you miss the signs, the universe does not simply give up on you, it speaks to you in a way that you will understand; in a way that you cannot ignore. If you only understand shouting then the universe will shout at you.
When this happens, you will not need to ask the question ‘Was this an awakening?’ When this happens, it will physically rock your very core and you will be awake.
What is Spirituality in the modern age?
We need to stop looking outside of us. We need to stop chasing the picture of what we think a spiritual life looks like. The only effort on our part is to stop. Stop. Listen. Pay attention.
What is the universe trying to tell you?
The tradition of teaching and learning is strong in our quest for spiritual awakening. The need to find a guru, to follow a thought-leader, to seek guidance – and later, reassurance – from a ‘Master’ is natural. But none of these people, or books or studies can give you the answer you require. The answer you seek is already inside you. Masters and gurus, studies and research, these all have a single focus point, they will help you to ask the right questions of yourself. Knowing the right questions to ask, gets you closer to finding the answer for yourself, in yourself and by yourself. But for this you need clarity, and that, my friend, is what your search is really all about.
Understanding ego (with no capital ‘e’):
Fantasy, delusion, lies we tell ourselves – while these can be destructive, often times they are important and serve as useful tools for coping and self-preservation. But at some point we need to lose the crutch. At some point we need to stop fooling ourselves. Unfortunately, when we stop fooling ourselves, we look around and realise that we stopped fooling others some time ago. This is harsh. It is at this time that we really begin to judge ourselves and, when held up against the image of our former – but less authentic – selves, we will be found wanting.
This is a vulnerable time and a particularly difficult stretch on the path to spiritual awakening for most people. When we face up to reality we need to ensure that we are facing our true reality and not just accepting the projections of our family, our friends and of the people – albeit well-meaning people – around us.
The power of affirmations is a double-edged sword
Affirmations are another important tool, for use on ourselves or on others. But affirmations can work against us. They can help us accept with a situation that ought not to be accepted. They can help us cope with the status quo when, in reality, you deserve better. I deserve better. Sometimes, we have to say ‘No’. ‘No, I do not accept this current situation, or this current financial state or this deeply toxic relationship; Just no’. Affirming a situation gives it power, when in reality, what we need to affirm is our ability to make tough decisions and to take tough action. Affirm yourself ready for the challenge of taking that action. For example, it’s okay that it takes as long as it takes; it is NOT okay to do nothing about it.
by ExplosiveSpirit | Jul 3, 2016 | Weekly Blog
Originally published on www.IrishCentral.com
I have never considered myself an emigrant. Yes, I have left Ireland at least three times in my life with the intention of working but I always left with the intention of returning to Ireland within a few years. On the first two occasions I returned to home soil within a few months. The first escape was to London and the few months spent double-jobbing below minimum wage motivated me to return to Ireland to study. Ten years later I tried again, this time with degrees and young daughter in tow, I made for the South of France. This move was an experiment in remote working, I was planning to work in the mornings, file work over the internet and spend the afternoons on the beach. It sounded perfect but my plan was not without it’s flaws, principally, I was running my own business in Ireland. Within a few weeks it was clear that my business was not ready for a remote owner/manager so we accepted our fate and – after an entirely pleasurable sojourn between Cannes and Monaco – we returned to Ireland. I threw myself in my business in Ireland throughout the economic crisis, however, foreign shores were calling and a holiday was never going to be enough. And that is how I found myself living in Spain with my daughter enjoying her transition year in a local school, which lurched precariously over the sea, learning Philosophy and Latin through French and Spanish. My work as a property writer and market commentator in Ireland and the UK continued remotely for a while but the unconsidered truth of the matter is that travel changes people. A new setting changes the mindset. Past goals become irrelevant and, little by little, our new home becomes us. Perhaps that it why so-called emigrants seek out the hidden Irish taverns down the side streets of foreign lands, to keep us from becoming a part of our current landscape for as long as possible; to ensure that we are wearing our Irish identity. Still, I did not consider myself or my daughter to be emigrants. With thanks to the technological advances of social media, video chats and message streaming, Ireland felt very close. Yes, Ireland felt very close, until I needed to be there…
One balmy Saturday evening, in our little corner of Spain where the desert meets the sea, I sat on the terrace, refilled my wine glass and relaxed into the view. “Jamie sent me a message, you have to contact John urgently”. It took me a moment to process what my daughter was saying; ‘Jamie’, ‘John’, ‘urgently’. Something was wrong at home. Within that moment I just knew. Of course it was bad, nothing good is talked about ‘urgently’.
I phoned my brother John, he only had to say a few words “It’s Dad. I’m sorry” I cannot remember the rest of the conversation, maybe we didn’t have one. None was needed. Dad was gone. In a single moment everything changed. I could not believe, I had seen him only two days earlier. He and my mother had spent 10 days with us in our adopted home of Spain, I had driven them both to the airport on Thursday evening. It didn’t feel like it could possibly be true.
I have always believed that every day brings with it moments that have the potential to change our lives but in my naivety, I did not understand what that meant, until now. Until that message.
The world has become more accessible in recent decades and this is a good, and important, thing for a small island nation. Spain is a three hour plane ride away from Ireland but at moments when your life is falling apart, that distance – or any distance – feels interminable. At 9pm on a Saturday night, I was in Spain when the place I needed to be was Ireland. Home.
Flights were arranged for the following day at 3pm, which felt like an eternity away. How could I not be in Ireland right now? How could my Dad not be there? How could everything be just gone? I cannot even remember that night. My teenage daughter, who was very close to my Dad, was distraught. There was no comfort and that three hour distance might as well have been interplanetary. There was no way home tonight and somehow it felt that when the world woke tomorrow, if this was real, home would no longer be home. The world would be different. This sense made me not want to sleep, as if by staying awake I could stop the sun rising and we would remain in this day, a day that my Dad had woken, and gardened and drank coffee and existed.
But morning came. Reality remained and a wave of numbness kicked in. And the numbness was a relief. It softened the feeling of being isolated. Not just emotionally, but geographically. I have been a single parent for most of my daughter’s life but that night was the most alone I have ever felt. I could not bring myself to contact friends, locally or in Ireland. I could not find the words to explain how life had changed, how this wonderful, strong, interesting man was just gone. There was no warning, no deteriorating health, no accident; he was gone. It was as simple and as confusing as that.
We got to the airport, a small, regional airport that services a handful of flights daily and we were hours early. As we entered the abandoned terminal, where not even the security personnel had taken up their posts for the day, the only other traveller was a man, who we presumed to be Irish due to his Tipperary GAA jersey. And a realisation came crashing down that I was standing in the place where where I had last seen my father. Where we had hugged our farewells and made plans for our next trip to Ireland and my parents’ next visit to Spain. If I had known that was going to be the last time I ever saw him alive, would I have said something different?
While at the airport I received a message from a cousin,whom I had not seen for many years. The message was a short one but one that was loaded with ‘journey back’. And she knew. Several years ago her mother had died suddenly. She too had gotten that sickening phone call, she too had to concern herself with comforting her children, while organising clothes and packing for home, for a funeral, just to get to the airport, the effort it takes to wait for the plane, the feelings of urgency to be home and perhaps she too felt the descent into the Irish airport as marking the end of a huge part of her life. I have often read that we only ever mature into full adulthood following the loss of a parent, perhaps this is true. Or more likely, we do not stop to think about what stage of life we are at because, up until this point the lucky ones among us have the unquestioned cushion of unconditional love and support.
Immediately after the funereal I contemplated moving back to Ireland as I thought that it would be the right thing to do, for my daughter and perhaps for my mother. ‘Home’ is not just about the economic opportunities and the price of houses. I wonder, do emigrants leaving their country and their family understand that if they stay away for a long period of time, it is very likely that they will be making this journey of sadness? Or worse, when that dreaded phone call comes, will they be able to make that journey home at all? The irrational guilt of having left hides somewhere in the back of the mind.
I realised that up until the moment my father died, I had only ever felt empathy but never before had I experienced grief. There is a hierarchy of grief, once there was someone closer to the deceased than you, the feeling is empathy not grief. Empathy is a selfless emotion whereas grief is incredibly selfish. There is a sheer indulgence with grief that you can try to fight but it will consume you; fighting only delays the inevitable. There will come a point when you have to give in, that might be for a private moment, or for a day or even a month but the way that I have come to think about grief is that it is like a tunnel that you have to go through. You might not know how long this tunnel will be when you enter but know this – there must be an exit to that tunnel. What lies that the other end will definitely be different to the life you know. And you will be different, but that’s okay. Just remember, a tunnel without a way out fast becomes a cave.
If I had known when was going to be the last time I ever saw my Dad, would I have said something different? Of course I would have said something different or at least something more, I would have said everything. I would held on so tight and never let go. But life is not like that, and death is not like that. Facts remain. For as long as I live, that little airport in the middle of Spanish nowhere will always be the last place I saw my Dad. This is now a part of my life story. This gives Spain a much bigger part to play within that story. And as more of my life evolves outside of Ireland, and less remains in Ireland, the word ‘Home’ loses some of it’s power. My home is now where I am with my daughter; but it is also where my mother is; and it where my friends and family are – right now, that is not any one country. Perhaps as the years roll on, nostalgia with exaggerate my Irishness and tug on my heartstrings, but today, this gap in my heart will not be filled by any place, but rather by rebuilding family relationships and redefining what ‘Home’ means to me.
by ExplosiveSpirit | Jul 3, 2016 | Explosive Living Daily, Weekly Blog
Dr. Wayne Dyer in his movie ‘The Shift’ describes periods or events (that he calls “Quantum Moments”) in our lives that shake and redefine us.
What is interesting is how our priorities change after these so-called quantum moments, as we move from a place of making things happen (ambition and control) to a place of allowing things to happen (trust and a sense of purpose), what was once important falls away.
The image above sets out our shift in priorities as we enter a personal New Age…
by ExplosiveSpirit | Jul 3, 2016 | Explosive Living Daily, Weekly Blog
THE original meaning of the word ‘survivor’ was ‘one who outlived another’. This evolved to refer to people who lived through events that might surely have killed them. In the modern age this now loosely means ‘one who copes well with adversities in life’. These three definitions are entirely different, one implies no choice, the second refers to luck or fate (depending upon your ‘God) and the third seems simply to be an attitude or state of mind. But by this last definition, we are all survivors. Is it not a fact that everyone suffers adversity at some point throughout their life?
I have always believed, and passed on to my daughter, that everyone has their own story. A personal narrative of the world and their place within it. Having a personal narrative of the world does, by default, put the person in the centre of their own world. This is not selfish or self-obsession, this is life. As the world is an imperfect place, hurt happens, does anyone escape that? I don’t believe so. Each one of us carries that hurt as baggage through life. For some people, the baggage is clearly visible. We are the people who wear our hurt as scars for the rest of the world to see. I like to think of us as leaders, allowing and perhaps even teaching others not to hid their hurt and perceived imperfections.
Every one of us has scars, some are physical, some are emotional, and some are so deeply ingrained on the psyche that we are not even aware of them until their effects manifest in the course of our lives.
In a twisted sort of way, people who wear their scars – those who do not have the option to hide them – have a head-start when it comes to dealing with hurt.
As a 11 week old baby, the solid-fuel cooker in our family home exploded and I was trapped under the hotplate that blew through the roof and fell back down, hiding me from rescuers on the scene. I know about scars, I live with them. It has not always been a peaceful co-existence. And it is not the case that because of my physical scars I find myself looking for emotional scars in others, the reality is that the more you get to know a person, the more you understand that those hurts are there. What is important to realise is that hurt is not an objective standard, the same hurt will not impact everyone in the same way. For example, I knew a beautiful, professionally successful and happily married young mother whose mind tricked her into seeing facial features in the mirror that neither you nor I would see. These perceived negative features were all she saw and she accepted them as real. Not only that, she accepted them as deep personal failings. So it simply did not matter that I and the rest of the world saw physical beauty, wealth, success and marital happiness, her hidden scars meant that she carried this huge, unmanageable personal load around with her every day until she became exhausted by the effort.
Getting ill – seriously ill – as an adult can be a welcome relief to someone who has been carrying a heavy personal load since childhood that they could not share. After a lifetime to pretending to be ‘fine’, they have a problem or even better, a medical diagnosis that they can talk about it and yes, receive sympathy for. When you are sympathising with the person, you are helping to heal old injuries that they have never received sympathy for before. The new illness also allows them to drop the exhausting show of strength that they have likely maintained since childhood. For people who have struggled in this way, with such a devastating prognosis comes relief.
Wearing your scars means that you can live without the effort of hiding such an enormous trauma. This is not to say that life is any easier, in so many ways it can be unimaginably harder but you can strive for a level of self-acceptance, self-compassion and then compassion for others that would not be possible if you were hiding your true self – as so many people in this world are. And to be clear, the vast majority of us have experienced personal trauma and the extent of that trauma should not be compared among us.
We each have to survive within the worlds that we have built around us and we have adapted along the way to carry the load that we have. I could not carry yours any more than you could carry mine.
It also occurs to me that the age at which trauma occurs is an important factor. I recall once reading that a young tree, when damaged by a storm or even struck by an axe, has the ability to continue growing and, if necessary, will grow around the injury – it can even grow around part of the axe remaining in the truck of the tree. Similar damage caused to a mature, fully grown tree, would likely kill it or certainly kill the affected part. However, the young tree can mature into a healthy, albeit slightly damaged, tree and the injury, although not fully healed, becomes part of the make-up of the tree. I think that this is probably true for people too. What we cannot heal must be accepted, once accepted we can continue to grow. Rejection is fatal. In fact, a religious man told me this week that self-rejection is the only sin. Every part of me wants to believe this.
I guess what I am trying to say is that everyone has scars, either on the inside or on the outside. All demand compassion. Wearing your scars often means that you have no choice about whether or not to deal with them. But all hurts demand to be felt, the question is how long do you carry the heavy personal load in silence before saying ‘Enough’?