Underneath the Surface

Often, when we’re unhappy, we fall into the habit of thinking that, if only one or two particular things in our life would change, everything would be fine. We might focus on the fact that we need a new car, or a raise, or a change in our living situation. We dwell on this one thing and strategize, or complain, or daydream about what it would be like to have it. Meanwhile, underneath the surface, the real reason for our unhappiness sits unrecognized and unaddressed. And yet, if we are able to locate and explore the underlying cause of our discontent, all the surface concerns have a way of working themselves out in the light of our realization.  

Maybe we really do just need a new car, and maybe moving to another city would improve our life situation. However, it can only help to take some time to explore what’s going on at a deeper level. Sometimes, when we take a moment and stop focusing on external concerns, we get to the heart of the matter. We might realize that all our lives we’ve been dissatisfied, grasping at one thing after another, only to be dissatisfied about something else once we get what we want. Or perhaps we’ll notice a pattern of running away from a place, or a relationship, when things get too hard. We might then wonder why this keeps happening, and how we might work through the difficulty rather than just escaping it. The point is, slowing down and turning our attention within can save us a lot of energy in the long run, because it is very often the case that there is no external change that will make us happy.  

Once you’ve taken the time to inquire within, you can begin to make changes that address the deeper issue. This can be hard at first, especially if you’ve grown used to grasping for outside sources in order to quell your discontent, but in the end, you will be solving the problem at a deeper level, and it will be much less likely to recur. 

Judgement

Though it is human to evaluate people we encounter based on first impressions, the conclusions we come to are seldom unaffected by our own fears and our own preconceptions. We see the world as we are, and not as it actually is. Additionally, our judgments are frequently incomplete. For example, wealth can seem like proof that an individual is spoiled, and poverty can be seen as a signifier of laziness — neither of which may be true. At the heart of the tendency to categorize and criticize, we often find insecurity. Overcoming our need to set ourselves apart from what we fear is a matter of understanding the root of judgment and then reaffirming our commitment to tolerance.

When we catch ourselves thinking or behaving judgmentally, we should ask ourselves where these judgments come from. Traits we hope we do not possess can instigate our criticism when we see them in others because passing judgment distances us from those traits. Once we regain our center, we can reinforce our open-mindedness by putting our feelings into words. To acknowledge to ourselves that we have judged, and that we have identified the root of our judgments, is the first step to a path of compassion. Recognizing that we limit our awareness by assessing others critically can make moving past our initial impressions much easier. Judgments seldom leave room for alternate possibilities.

Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” If we are quick to pass judgment on others, we forget that they, like us, are human beings. As we seldom know what roads people have traveled before a shared encounter or why they have come into our lives, we should always give those we meet the gift of an open heart. Doing so allows us to replace fear-based criticism with appreciation because we can then focus wholeheartedly on the spark of good that burns in all human souls.

Sunday

Sunday evenings are my favorite.

It’s good to take a few minutes each day to unwind, but I include Sunday evenings to my daily unwind time.

Every culture uses something that pleases the senses to help in their prayer or meditation practices. Incense or some kind of fragrance is helpful, because it alone can set the tone of a room. And smells are one of the things that we remember and associate experiences with often. Lamps or candles are often used too; I prefer oil lamps because the flame is steadier than the flicker of a candle; inviting the witness to slow way down and come home for a little while.

Early on, I developed a way to learn by just observing. What to do, what not to do.. Observing is a way that I try to use to see things around me. Something that I learned about a long time ago has been coming up a lot for me lately; in all areas of life. It’s a statement that goes “People don’t see the world as it is, they see the world as they are”.

I see this showing up all over the place. Mostly between people. One of my favorite exercises to help slow down involves going into the woods and noticing how different all the trees are. And realising that we don’t judge the trees for being tall or short, straight or crooked, thick or thin. We just accept the trees for what they are and move on. We don’t get hung up on the fact that one tree might not have gotten enough sunlight and therefore grew a certain way, we just accept the tree for what it is and we move on.

I think that this is a practice that is desperately needed now with how we’re seeing each other. Chances are, we don’t know someone’s story and how they’re managing their life as a result of their story. All we see is how they’re managing their life.

I think we need to see people more like trees, and less like how we think they ought to be.

Back to the Beginning

One of the most powerful and honest images there is.

If we find ourselves repeating the same behaviors in different jobs, with different partners and in different situations; and if we don’t go back and examine how it all began, we’re just treating symptoms instead of the cause.

Sit with it

Sit with it.

Instead of drinking it away, smoking it away, sleeping it away, eating it away, sexing it away, or running from it,

Sit with it.

Healing begins by feeling.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

Healing

One of the most honest and powerful images.

Looking gently and deeply at oneself can be difficult, but it’s also one of the most courageous things that can be done; and can provide freedom from whatever the story is that we’re telling ourselves.

#psychology #innerwork #trauma #healing #courage #truth #honesty #letgo #moveon

The Hero’s Journey

There is no such thing as a Hero’s Journey that doesn’t involve entering a dark thicket, battling savage beasts and facing your own despairs.

After all, the Kingdom can only be entrusted to someone who is willing to die for it. In order for any kind of growth to occur, you must be willing to kill off the part of you that is no longer serving you so that something new can grow in its place.

#growth #personalgrowth #evolution #evolve #herosjourney #josephcampbell

Veterans Day

On this Veterans/Armistice Day we salute all veterans and active military personnel, with appreciation for their tremendous service to our country.

But not all Veterans have had such a welcoming homecoming experience.

The transition from civilian life to one of military is tough enough. But returning home after duty is a completely different kind of transition for many Veterans.

No more rigid environment. Nobody setting your schedule for you. No more camaraderie with the other troops. You’re in charge of your own life again. And if you saw combat, it can be much more emotionally devastating. It can be very difficult to make that psychological transition back home and back into civilian life again.

If you see a Veteran, not just on Veterans Day but any day; thank them for their Service but also sincerely ask them how they’re doing? Your question may spark a need for support. Below are some resources available:

In the Detroit area, Veterans support can be found at:

Detroit Regional Offices of Veterans Services

https://www.benefits.va.gov/Detroit/veterans-services-orgs.asp.

Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, which connects Vets to Benefits and Resources

https://www.michiganveterans.com

The Michigan Veterans Foundation offers support in the form of:

  • Veteran Rescue Program
  • Transitional Housing
  • Vocational and Life Skill training
  • Health care services
  • PTSD Counseling
  • Transportation, meals and clothing
  • Substance Abuse Intervention
  • Legal Assistance and Housing Placement

http://www.michiganveteransfoundation.org.

The Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars provides assistance will filling out and submitting VA forms and processes, and also offers a Buddy to Buddy program that can pair up Veterans that can support each other to help handle the transition back to civilian life.

https://vfwmi.org/di/vfw/v2/default.asp?pid=8899

Painting info:

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “The Homecoming,” 1945. Cover illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” May 26, 1945. Norman Rockwell Museum.

Autumnal Equinox

A snail knows who he is and what he needs to do. Doesn’t have to question anything, his instructions and destiny are already programmed into his DNA.

People on the other hand, have the ability to discriminate; to choose this or that, consider outcomes, weigh consequences.

Today is an Equinox on the planet. At 3:50 in the morning today in the Northern Hemisphere, time was equal for a moment. But now in the North, the days will grow shorter and the nights longer. Generations ago, this season began the gathering work from the fields and gardens. Harvest. Stocking the cellars for the winter months, ensuring that enough exists. Preparing the outdoors and indoors for the forthcoming seasonal changes.

And internal preparation as well. For our interiors, the Equinox is about weighing and finding balances. What is useful, maybe meaningful and therefore kept, and what has served its purposed and needs to be released?

All this is a great reminder that time is not linear, but cyclical. With each day becoming more and more short, the hope of returning light happens; which is exactly what happens in the Southern Hemisphere, where days are getting longer, warmth returns, seedlings begin to sprout.

We enter and leave seasons just as nature does. It’s important to remember that things like Equinoxes support our internal questions of what is true and real for us. What is present, right now. And are we on a path that supports whatever that is for us?

Because our interior systems are synchronized with the heavens, times of year such as this and certain others offer a natural support mechanism for such interior inquires. Its a good thing to clear out clutter as one season leaves to make room for the next season coming in. This is a good time to ask yourself if you’re carrying around anything that needs to go.

A snail knows who he is. He doesn’t have to question anything; only where his next meal is coming from. We have the ability to look deeper at life, but only if we choose to be a little more conscious about it and less accidental.