I wanted to write this article a long ago and relates to my observations and experiences living in the greek reality. It certainly contains my own perceptions and feelings based on my own experiences and my innate interest in 'why' people do the things they do.
Growing up in Greece I was always finding it difficult to understand how in such a country with rich natural beauty and resources can live people who often grumble, are not happy, do harm to themselves with smoking, drinking etc and often show lack of respect for their neighbour and their environment.
This reality was the only thing I knew of and I always had objections with and only when I experienced another reality, that of England I saw that things could be different. To clarify that by the term 'reality' I mean the creation, structure, organisation and operation of a society and its prevalent mentality.
Every constructed reality, a society consisting of some people who gathered to compose a whole base of certain rules, has its qualities, strengths and lessons to improve. England has its own and Greece has others, just like two children in one class, in a school we call Earth.
In England I learned that people can advance professionally based on their value, knowledge and skills rather than on who they know, I learned that people from all over the world with any differences such as religion, skin colour, sexuality etc. can coexist peacefully and respect one another, I learned that there can be dialogue between people and that the truth never belongs to one but there are many truths, I learned that the assumption of 'I can't' hides in it either the 'I don't want to' or the 'I don't know how' and I've learned that if you don't try, you'll never know the outcome.
Certainly the list of the things I learned is much bigger and consists of soft and hard lessons.
Returning to Greece I knew I was leaving behind this reality and some of those rules that I would so miss because they put my life in order. Also, I knew that all these lessons would go through tests on whether or not they were assimilated, sort of like a a surprise test in the classroom I mentioned above.
So I had to confront and manage a self in an internal Greece, as I remembered Greece to be and one self as I am now in an external Greece that exists now.
I am interested in focusing on the micro-cosmic space of man and not on discussing complex social phenomena.
It is with great interest that I often try to decode or give an adequate answer to the question on how the modern greek man chooses to live like this and manage his country in this way. Clearly the reasons are many but I ended up with one that I think is among the main and it is that of trust.
If we think for a moment on the dynamic of a (forgive me but I refer to the norm, not the mediocre) Greek family then we find that a child does not learn to trust himself, his neighbour, the society. Since one's parents provide everything, and on the other hand, society is manipulated for the benefit of the child, then the child learns to create external egocentric bases wherever he can.
Behaviours such as parking on disabled ramps, driving without a helmet, appointing and priority of acquaintances, overriding waiting queues, tax evasion, etc. indicate that the person has not learned to stand within his own boundaries, in his responsibility towards himself and towards the other, to respect the concept of law and society.
In a society where its citizens do not follow the laws made to survive and live together that have been created by those who they have elected, it is a society of teenagers who does not know where to go and what it wants, it is blindly angry with the other as a cause of its misery, does not see a bigger picture and is ultimately not stable in its development.
As long as the mirror remains covered and becoming an adult is a work only for others, then we will continue to live in a jungle where one will throw their banana peels to the other and wait for someone else to pick them up.
This text arises again from observations and experiences of recent days but does not focus on a particular subject other than that of life.
It's probably those moments when thoughts just want to come out, like when we try to put some books in a library based on their subjects.
Observing the various unpleasant recent events with significant losses of lives, it is evident- in the eyes of some at least-that we live the end of an era and the beginning of another.
Apart from our relationship with matter, there seems to be a call for change of how we relate with ourselves, others and the environment we live in. Information is increasingly disclosed which logically shakes our faith in institutions, certain individuals, organisations, governments, corporations, both nationally or internationally.
I have previously discussed how man during the evolution of his spirit arrived to consider himself an overlord of the Earth, plundering her resources and putting all the living matter in his service. From evolutionary beings we have come to become a synonym of God on earth deciding what will happen to us, others and the environment.
Thus, we give more right to some people than others, we eat what we want because we can, we kill or restrict what does not agree with us, we do not pay attention to anything that does not affect us directly, we create and destroy at will.
I have no intention to draw a total ' black image ' of the present world, on the contrary, to discuss what I see as reality which might not easily get discussed, in a similar way that depression or a difficult experience in a family remains 'unseen' because it is very difficult to manage and process for the family.
As overlords, then, people lost control and ended up looking for solutions to problems that we constantly create ourselves and the way we have chosen to live by. Clearly everyone is free to choose the way that he and his team want to live, but what happens when this way ends up hurting and destroying the lives of others (people, animals, etc.)?
War would be one of the answers: fighting against each other for their right to free choice and free life. In a way this is the history of man who, through a constant friction, fought another for his predominance and when one prevailed his 'law', 'right and 'truth' became the 'law', the 'right', the 'true' of all.
The law of the jungle in all its glory.
I do not want to speak in terms of morality here because it is a concept often abused by man and used in his terms and, therefore, it has largely lost the wholeness of its meaning.
I find the words 'faith' and 'value' a little more useful here.
We believed in the value of money, over goods,
We believed in the value of lying with benefits over truth,
We believed in the value of the ephemeral versus the sustainable,
We believed in the value of happiness versus the totality of emotions,
We believed in the value of external life versus the internal,
We believed in the value of people with qualities over humanity,
We believed in the value of affirmation versus exploration,
We believed in the value of the manufactured versus the natural,
We believed in the value of perfection versus learning from errors and forgiveness,
We believed in the value of loneliness versus connection,
We believed in the value of matter versus spirit,
We believed in the value of futility versus awe and gratitude.
And yet nothing of what we believed to be of value is in itself evil or has bad consequences.
The overvaluation of one versus the other is what brings an imbalance and calls for another collective lesson.
Our spiritual essence, our multidimensional and (seemingly) contradictory existence, our deep need for completeness and creation, equality and respect for all, the self-worth of everything, the love, the awe and sacredness of all life forms do not exist due to the human law but are of the natural/divine law.
They exist within each one of us independently, if we consciously believe them or not and no one but ourselves can take them away or define them for us. We manifest them in our lives in earth when we believe them.
We always have the free choice and its consequences...
P.S. Forgive me if I have included you against your will with the use of 'we' versus 'man', but I wanted to make the text more intimate.
Today's article stems from my observation and personal experiences, of course, in recent times and it concerns the concept of synchronisation.
We have all experienced times when something is changing, some of the relationships we feel are not being useful, things that connects us to our dear ones are not there anymore, somehow as if we did not feel as fulfilled with some relationships as before.
The truth is that everything around us as well as ourselves are in a constant change whether we realise it or not. Our body, the weather, a distance travelled, a job, a relationship nothing is the same every day and every moment. Whatever castles and constructions we build to maintain a sense of security and stability quickly or slowly we realise that the sense is relative and temporary, especially in regard to ourselves, as our experiences to a lesser or greater extent affect and shape us.
A change may occur intentionally or unintentionally, i.e. we have deliberately chosen it or might come from someone else or from the outside environment, such as a dismissal. In both cases, there is a question of processing the change, the emotions that are created and the options we have to respond to it.
Every change entails a small death, a loss, something ends and something begins in a very close time in the perpetual cycle of life.
Anything that exists around and within us emits a certain frequency, a wave, a vibration.
There has long been a great deal of interest in scientific research such as the work of D. Hawkins to measure the vibration of objects and human beings.
Specifically, he studied the vibrations of emotions in people by creating a spectrum of levels of consciousness (there are many such models that describe the spectrum of the consciousness like the one of K. Wilber) from shame and guilt as the lowest frequencies to love, joy, calmness and enlightenment with the highest frequencies (https://veritaspub.com/product/map-of-consciousness-dr-david-hawkins/).
Think only of how we are when we feel fear and how when we feel acceptance. In the former the space around us closes down, we confine ourselves, we turn within, our breath becomes shorter and shallow while in the latter we have more space to move, spread, breathe deeper and for more time. So our sense of self and at the same time what we can do changes. I do not comment here on the feelings as inferior as superior but different as to their frequency as waves.
Let us now imagine the same phenomenon happening between people, that is, a person experiencing long periods of fear, guilt and apathy and may not recognise and accept them and they come into contact with someone who is more often in courage, neutrality and joy. It is plausible that these two people at first sight either they were classmates at school, or colleagues for years, or lovers they are not compatible as they will experience different emotional states, so the space and the possibilities around them will not be the same.
There is of course also the possibility to listen to each other and to be interested in different emotional states,where they come from and thus maintain their connection while changing for the benefit of both sides. He who feels anger can allow himself to express it and, thus, resolve it and the other who seeks only the joy to let himself feel also other feelings, not so 'pleasant' which are part of his human nature.
Emotions are energy in motion so I think that all people experience all the emotions and either they express them (whatever the cost of vulnerability is etc) and they transform them, or they hold them inside and store them (often these stored feelings create the environment internally for disease development).
In either our relationship to ourselves, or in our relationships with others, we are not completely honest about what we feel, what happens to us, how we think about the relationship, what we need, etc. then we hide from us, the other and the relationship part of our feelings so a part of ourselves.
If it is done continuously then we actually end up showing (perhaps even experiencing) someone else and not our real self or the other. That is why many relationships end abruptly or badly because the gap in information between the two parties is huge and they have not shown both who they are, what they feel and what they want.
Of course this needs trust and love for the other and the relationship and it is a threatening process when someone has not learned to do it.
For me there is no right and wrong in relationships, because that calls for a 'judge', a perpetrator and a victim and I do not know for sure their criteria, but there is a desire or not to learn with that person or someone else.
This article emerges today through a space of silence after a turbulent period, something like the rainbow after the storm.
I have mentioned several times the concepts of 'Ego and 'Self' and some elements that they may include.
We are our body, its needs and desires, we are our feelings and what they express, we are our thoughts and what they declare, we are our soul and everything we know and we do not know about it.
All these levels exist simultaneously and interact in ways we do not know and do not fully understand yet but we can somehow deduce that we are multidimensional beings. How our body feels, influences our emotions, thoughts and soul and vice versa. So everything we experience is experienced at all these levels.
When I started training in psychotherapy and started doing my first hours of practice, I was impressed with what I was encountering and experiencing during the sessions. I do not only mean the problems, the difficulties, the pain and all the things that can be difficult to feel in the therapeutic process but also something else that very few people talk about.
Through also my own process, I began to discover the various dimensions and forms that all people have. I started to see, feel and hear me and other people talking about ourselves as landscapes, images, colours, and sensations.
Some people enter psychotherapy because they want to solve a particular problem, somehow they do not feel functional and want to fix this. That is how I initially started with the hope that I would unblock where I was stuck, heal the wounds, find answers, move forward by only being happy. While the process continued I began to discover other things about me, other wounds, new sensations, new landscapes sometimes quiet ones, sometimes intense, sometimes rigid, sometimes fluid, but they were all mine. That is exactly what I see and the people I have worked with for some time see for themselves.
When I see and connect with one's landscapes I feel awe and profound emotions. My favourite metaphor is as if someone is opening the door and slowly guides you to their home, into their rooms that were previously locked and discover new rooms to explore which all of them constitute the individual himself.
The ownership of discovery does certainly belong the individual and I participate with reverence and attention offering a mirror, a certain perspective on what the person discovers and experiences at every moment.
This whole process is sacred to me on one hand because we may find ourselves in very fragile places something like a sacred ritual and on the other hand because by exploring the landscapes that make uthe person is like a testament to the existence of God. I see beauty, qualities, movement, vibrations, humanity and not just good or bad, not a just lack or excess, not just happiness or suffering.
I often find myself taking the position of defending psychotherapy, which has widely been attacked for its motives, predominantly against the various new methods that promise fast and spectacular results in dominating the conscious ego and gaining everything that offers us happiness by accessing directly the unconscious mind. I am not referring here to any particular method, nor do I dispute that they can have significant results. My comment concerns mainly the commitment of duration and the personal effort required to make lasting changes.
The therapeutic space is a place that has always existed in various forms as the place where a person could explore his experiences, understand them, incorporate them, be reassured and thus be freed and evolve in a similar way that fire and cooking of food helped man to evolve leaving at his disposal (due to easier digestion) more energy to spend.
To a degree every human contact has the potential to do the same thing. When we feel intimate with a person we connect at the same time with something of our own and something of his. If we see a person as the totality of his landscapes and qualities that he may not even recognise for himself, then we can teach him to see them and he can teach us to see ours. I do not mean that we should become each other's therapists, but I am mainly referring to the position that each of us can take towards oneself and others.
We are the first to forget and not connect with our own landscapes, which we abandon as less interesting than the other's. We are the first to raise walls in front of them in order to protect them from the other, we are the first to not love them and to not take care of them exposing them to the moods and criticism of others.
If we begin to see, experience and take care of ourselves as a whole world, with its rich landscapes and dimensions and not just as a machine (either physical or emotional) that should aim only at happiness and towards a vague growth, then we may succeed to appreciate, to get in touch and really experience the depth and the sacredness of our existence, of others and of the universe of which we are all part.
I think it is obvious that the notions of desire-and its creation-and integration are some of the concepts that I often employ and there is a continuity and deepening in their exploration.
I wrote in a previous article about our need to satisfy our inner desires through the use of things, people, etc. There is something profoundly contradictory in this proposal that calls for consideration, namely how something that is our own deep interior can be covered by an external medium? Perhaps a certain answer may not be in this contradiction but in a different view of the query.
In the physical dimension, in fact, we have absolute need, for example, food and water to survive, the roof and the clothes to protect ourselves. In Western societies this became the motto for all our desires, when we consume something, in psychological terms, we take something within us then we will be happy, calm, not suffer from hunger, emptiness, etc.
So to some extent we think that what makes us happy and whole is what fulfils our feeling of 'lacking' and we have to take it from the outside environment like a missing piece of a puzzle.
It is true that we come to this world in absolute weakness, a newborn cannot do anything alone and for his survival he needs everything from his environment, food, protection, care so we experience the ultimate dependence on something other than us for which we have no control over.
Thus, we attempt to find various ways to communicate to the environment our needs and desires so that they can be fulfilled. When not fulfilled for a long time or abruptly interrupted then we experience deep pain due to the possibility of our death (physical or psychological). As we age from babies to children to teenagers to adults we form patterns and structures for what needs we have, whether they can be met by us and/or our environment having, thus, internalised our environmental responses as our own.
For example, if we grew up wanting to take a risk and our parents told us ' don't take big risks because they don't come out good ', then it is very possible that we will not take risks because we 'know' that it will not be for our own good, regardless of how much we want to do the thing that we want to take the risk.
At the same time, growing up we form an 'ego' whose purpose is drive us towards independence mainly from the aforementioned structures. This is particularly noticeable in the years of adolescence where a teenager comes to a great apparent conflict between the security but also the limitation he has experienced in his environment and the explosion of autonomy to discover new things, to explore, make decisions on their own, etc. It is one of the many transitional phases of human life that is quite critical for the person's further evolution.
For example, if the environment responds to the teenager with additional constraints without acknowledging the healthy need for independence, then the teenager can abandon the adventures she wanted to start by suppressing a vital part of herself or instead doing extreme acts of independence, thus, creating an internal and external rift with what before was a place of love and security.
We have many similar transitions in our lives, almost every time we close a chapter and open a new one. So we leave something familiar, a job, a relational situation, a city and we go to something new by following a new desire, a call. To a certain extent this happens much more often as our bodies renew themselves almost in whole every 7 to 15 years, so on a physical level what we take for granted and stable is not so.
A logical consequent question is whether this cycle is ever completed or not. That is, if all our desires are ever completed. The view of the East is that wholeness exists every moment, that we are whole every moment and the fact that we consider ourselves or the world not whole waiting to be accomplished is a fallacy precisely because we have believed and experienced ourselves from the viewpoint of 'lacking'.
Returning to the concept of desire as an anchor and compass we can ask ourselves what the desire is essentially. Desire shows us the way to a feeling, we rejoice when we achieve something, we do something to feel safe, creative, full, that we belong, that we are not alone etc.
In fact these feelings already reside within us, not in something external, and can be activated at our will with external stimulus or without. In a similar way we all have cancer cells and under certain conditions they can be activated.
The higher value towards completion (which I have recognised so far at least) is that of service to the other. If we think about everything we do we want it to be about others, we create families, businesses that want to find something useful for others, events, groups that will give something to us and something to the other. In the same way we have organised our societies where one serves the other, i.e. we use knowledge and skills to be of service to each other.
In order to create a conscious, whole reality where we relate to our environment both as elliptical-when we need something from someone else-and as a whole, we need to resolve again and again these 'teenage conflicts' of 'ego'-internal and external- giving more space to something bigger than us.
It seems that February is the month when the subject of 'relate' is very much at the forefront.
As it is clear from the title, this article discusses equality in the context of relationships.
I admit it was hard to find lots of words for this article as I felt it touches quite deep meanings that reside more in the aesthetic/intuitive realm rather than that of the logic and verbal.
Surely at some point in our lives we have all been in a group where critical comments were expressed about someone, whether someone has small ears, or a big head, whether they are stronger or weaker than others, or are less or more sensitive than others.
In childhood these comments are mainly expressed from parents, siblings and close friends and leave specific marks on the person about what characteristics the environment considers important and worthy (and the whole world to some degree) and what it means to have or not to have them. These comments are based on conscious or unconscious beliefs and they may take the form of gestures or even acts, so they are not only expressed through words.
Not many decades ago women, for example, were considered by men to be inferior to them and therefore words and behaviours were conveying this message and on that basis the relationships between them were created. When some women began to realise that there is essentially no reason for such discrimination, as it is a constructed distinction, then they began to react by defending their right to equality.
The same began slowly, slowly occurring in people with different skin colour, with different sexual preferences, with different religions, with different needs e.g. people in wheelchairs etc.
We are slowly beginning to see (and we have a long way to go) that equality is not just about recognising a legal right, about passing a law, etc. although these are very important and are the basis of any dialogue.
The issue of equality is rather as profound as the issue of self, who we truly are and how much we respect us or not.
Recognising someone else, different from me as equal means I look into the eyes and I see not only the label, the perception, the belief, the interpretation I have for this person because of his difference (in characteristics, behaviour, etc.) from me but I see him for what he is altogether.
I see him as a soul that is in a body which was born and will die like mine, who lives in the same world as me, who needs to eat, drink, rejoice, learn, love and be loved as I do.
Gradually we learn (or perhaps better remember) that equality is not a negotiable thing, it is given similar to the breath you are taking right now.
When we see someone as better or less, more important or more insignificant for who they are, for what they do, for what they like then we are using certain lenses of the world probably made by society or by our own family beliefs.
We are all different, each one of us as much as similar we are, as many common experiences or preferences as we have, we are different from anyone else on the planet for that we are unique. These differences are the ones that remind us of the diversity of life, how rich and creative nature is and of the infinite human possibilities which complete the Whole. By evaluating something as superior or inferior (and man does it repeatedly in nature) we wear the glasses of delusion and adopt a role perhaps higher than that of God by deciding the fate of animals and people based on what features they possess.
So we decide which people will have access to water and food, which in education, which in voting rights and autonomy etc.
On a smaller scale a family may decide that a particular male or female model of behaviour is the correct one over another gender expression, thus, not appreciating and suppressing any 'deviations' that may be presented to children.
We can all decide what suits us best and what is not, what we want to do in our lives, how and with whom to spend it, what we prefer, but to think of something as more or less indicates something deeply problematic. That this person does not appreciate all manifestations of nature and therefore all manifestations of himself as part of it.
So maybe the next time someone judges you for something, you could ask him what he doesn't like about himself and he's projecting it on to you. And vice versa, ask yourself the same question when you realise that you judge someone.
Today's article is very close to my heart and I find it touches on very deep parts of the human soul. I especially want to focus on the role of unconditional love in relationships.
I think it gradually stems from previous articles that I have written about relationships and the reasons why we start, we continue or we leave relationships.
In our childhood through experiences and messages from our parents and the environment we learn how the world works, what is good and bad, who we are and we are not, what we need to do, etc. We all have ideas and experiences about what is or is not love based on these accents.
From our childhood we learn, for example, that in order for our parents to love us and us to show our love for them we should do one thing or another, we should behave in a specific manner, we should achieve certain things etc. In that way we essentially learn that there are parts of ourselves that deserve to be loved and others that are not worthy.
If, for example, we do something that our parents do not like, then they can be sad and as we are dependent on them and because we love them we do not want to upset them, so either we stop doing what we want or we do and to some extent we feel guilty about it and begin to hide this guilt somewhere within us.
As we age this relational structure with both ourselves and others (if not overturned) it is consolidated and consciously or unconsciously shapes the way we connect and relate.
Our suppressed parts or needs that were not accepted, do not die but live in our shadow while waiting for an opportunity to come out. A widely known example of this is when people get 'midlife crisis' where, because of the realisations that they are getting older and their life expectancy is not infinite, they come into contact with their repressed parts and want to do and live as they have not lived before but always wanted to.
Adulthood and wholeness are not linear processes occurring from A to B in C as we can always discover parts of ourselves that we did not previously know or realise that issues we thought had been resolved to raise again and shows us another aspect of them that needs to be resolved.
The various relationships we create in the course of our lives reflect every time how we see and experience ourselves and our lives. We form different types of relationships in our 20's, 30's, 50's. Some people, of course, continue to relate in the same way throughout their life, ignoring to a degree the lessons they may have taken from any previous relationship.
Relationships are that mutually constructed place where we can project ourselves, but also experience what we are not, the other. One could say that it is in itself a schizoid situation as in the same space we see ourselves and the other, somewhat like looking at a mirror and seeing our reflection and at the same time seeing through the mirror another face.
In relationships we enter with what we know about ourselves but also with our unconscious parts, those that have been suppressed or have not yet been revealed.
Our partner may like some parts of who we are and some others not, similar to the conditional love we might have got from our parents. We might get into a game that we both feel we need to change in order to be liked by the other resulting in further suppression of other parts of us. Essentially, this leads to isolation and loneliness with both ourselves and the other.
Perhaps also in the dynamics of the relationship we feel comfortable to show some parts that were previously rejected (but we ourselves may also have rejected) expecting that this time may be appreciated and loved by both us and the other.
Many relationships happen and end within this pattern.
But there may be another option, that of unconditional love.
Within it we learn to love the other not for who we would like him to be, but for who he really is and we like him in total, he suits us, he touches us, we want to evolve with him.
Within it we realise why we do not like those parts of the other and how they can remind us of what we do not like about ourselves, thus, illuminating the cave of perpetual rejection and control over the other.
Within it we embrace all the challenges and difficulties of our own and of the other because they are parts (often deeply distorted) of the other and ours even when they oppose our own wants.
Within it the wholeness of the other becomes our own not as two dependants but as two wholes that constantly agree to learn, discover and enjoy each other on a continuous journey of evolution.
Within it the only danger or threat is when one decides that it does not want to evolve anymore or he considers his evolution to be somewhere else.
If we all tried for that kind of love in everything we do in our lives, then our world would be a different place with more creation than destruction.
I think I have written enough about what might be hiding behind our emotions, how we might manage them, the various positions we take towards them etc.
In this article I want to discuss a very important act for every form of human communication, the act of listening. It is the first skill taught in psychotherapy and counselling training programmes and general ly in the helping professions.
I chose (consciously or unconsciously) to study it in my degree as part of communications but also I studied it in various other seminars related to the jobs I was working with people. Nevertheless, I do not write as any expert but as a person with a specific experience.
Most of the communication between people happens at a non-verbal level. We receive information from the posture, how the other looks, what moves he makes, etc.
Speech comes later, complementary or explanatory (or even contradictory) to convey the message of communication. Man has succeeded in evolving and creating civilisations because he began to produce thought and speech and,thus, he was able to reflect and express himself through it.
The skill or act of listening to someone is one of the first things that happens when we come in contact with a person and start conversing with them. Having already collected (automatically) information from how he speaks, the tone of the voice, the movements etc, we understand what he wants to say, if he is telling the truth, if he believes what he says etc. always in relation to the context in which a conversation occurs.
Then we, depending on our experiences, intentions, expectations and circumstances, receive the message and process it in order to respond in some way (I believe that the non-response or withdrawal are forms of response).
I think we can all, to a greater or lesser extent, distinguish whether a conversation is successful or not (regardless of its outcome), if the sender conveys a clear message and the receiver receives it as such. Actually listening to the other is not always as easy as the many fights due to difficulties in communication for both the sender and receiver prove.
Thinking about what it means for someone to be a good listener, I thought of two main things.
The first is to be open to receive and the second to allow ourselves to be affected.
By the first I mean to remain available to receive any message, even if we do not like what we hear. Receiving the message with 'clear ear' without interfering with information from previous conversations, other information that may disrupt the flow of the exchange or emotional situations that may 'block our ears' even temporarily.
It's like waiting to receive a letter, but our mailbox is full or when the doorbell rings and we are in the bathroom and we can not hear it.
It is understandable that the receiver will not regard the communication as successful and can withdraw from it or choose to continue repeating what was said.
The second condition has to do with a deeper level; how much we can allow a message to touch us. It is as someone throws a pebble into the sea and immediately turns his back without seeing the result of this action, whether it created circles on the surface of the sea or went straight to its bottom etc. Allowing a message to touch us, it's like letting the meaning behind it find its place within us. Clearly, some messages are simple functional information and need no further time or processing. For more complex contacts, however, we may need this time, attention and intention (if of course we want) to really feel what has been said, in the same way that the observation of stone that immerses in the sea can give us a sense completion and fulfilment of our act.
Sometimes we hear something which may disturb us, so we can react without hearing it deeply enough to see how it was actually said or what it might really mean to us.
Other times we may hear something, such as a good word and not let it in to touch us.
Sometimes we might hear something and not understand exactly what the other person wants to say, and instead of asking for clarification, we can speculate on what the person might mean, so we answer based on what we think he said.
Any 'communication event' (in this case verbal), if done truthfully, contains meaning and each one of us expresses his truth. It captures what we feel, what we think, what we want to show to the other and the world, what we may be processing and is not yet concluded, what we want and hope.
In such acts we essentially externalise and leaving on the other's 'ears' a part of our soul and what it constitutes from. We reveal our inner landscapes and builds. We expose our deepest secrets.
Listening to the other with openness, respect and willingness to understand is like feeling the other and seeing what he wants to connect about and what exactly he needs and maybe we can learn something new about ourselves.
It's like we are the sea that receives a feather in calm water, as opposed to accepting it with its nails.
The previous article about joy led me easily to the path of desire.
We want good health, love, money, relationships, good jobs, material goods, etc. Desire can be both general and special e.g. I desire a dessert now. It may be lasting or temporary, we do not want the same things for our lives now and ten years ago.
Desire is essentially one of the ways to express who we are and what is important to us. Some people want to do something more manual for work, others something more theoretical, some people want to live in the heart of a city and others are living in a village.
Having desires is intertwined with being alive, through which we give our lives meaning, we expand and we grow.
But one thing is to have a desire for something or for someone and another thing is to follow it. The way to desire is not always linear.
The pursuit of desire presupposes first and foremost its recognition, contact with and awareness of what is important to us and this may require work, especially if for example we have learned to focus on the desires of others.
Since we recognise our desires at every given moment, then we can do something to satisfy them.
We may want something and not feel that we deserve it or that it is not accessible to us, so we do not pursue it. We may want something and think that we do not have the means to obtain it, so we do nothing. We might generate and pursue constantly desire without sitting with not having any and still be ok with it.
We always have the choice either to take care of our desire or fight it. If we have not learned to take care of it, we should learn step by step how to embrace it, endeavour it, redefine it and listen to the signs of guidance that lead to it.
It is very common to feel that we want something e.g. love and actually to take steps on the opposite direction.
The road to satisfaction is not always smooth. For example, in order to fulfill it, we may have to ask for something from another which in itself can put us in a vulnerable position in which we may find it difficult to be. We may need to get in touch with our deepest issues like what it means to have this particular desire and want it to be accomplished in a specific way by rejecting perhaps other ways in which it can be fulfilled.
Like all things, this is seen through the lens of spirituality always referring to something bigger. Whether we recognise it or not, we are in constant relationship with everything that exists and we constantly interact in ways that may be difficult yet to comprehend. We do something and it has a direct effect on someone else or something else (the same to a degree applies to our thoughts). We cut a fruit and we change its form, we talk to a person and we influence it (in small or large extent). Through this lens, then, the ultimate human desire is to be of service to others and the humanity.
Creating and fulfilling a personal desire is primarily an internal quest for wholeness, e.g. we may want to eat but our deepest desire may be that we want to fill the void or the loneliness that we feel.
This becomes particularly evident in close relationships where the desire of one we expect it to be fulfilled by the other e.g. for honesty and truth but this does not imply that the other has got the same desire or is capable of fulfilling it for us at any given time for whatever reason. In our relationships with others our light can illuminate the darkness of another and the light of the other can illuminate our darkness calling for the redefinition, hierarchy, responsibility and honesty about our desires and the desires of the other.
Some of them have to be taken care of by ourselves, and for some others we might ask the other person to do something in order for us to fulfill them.
From an adult position we can negotiate our desires, ask and listen, take and give, agree and deny, if we truly want to, with possible obstacles our selfishness, insecurity, the sense of lacking etc.
Today's theme is very close to my heart and one of my very personal challenges in life.
For some people, the experience of joy is a given. Something they learned when they were children, something that there was always space to experience, express and share with their family, with friends and close environments. The euphoria of joy is like a kind of drug that, understandably, leads to the search for more. Thus, they chase every experience, everything that can bring them close to this feeling, avoiding its opposites, similar to a drug addict looking for his dose to stop the pain from coming.
For some other people the experience of joy is a more complex process. Either because they experienced something traumatic as children, because the environment they grew up in did not encourage it so much for whatever reason, or because as souls they may be closer to other emotions. Their relationship, then, with joy was interrupted for a while, was prevented or mediated by other, difficult feelings such as sadness, anger and fear. Therefore, the restoration of the relationship with the joy for these people may need some work and can be interrupted again more easily with a reminder of the event that initially interrupted it (death, sickness, traumatic event etc).
Under no circumstances do I imply that these people cannot experience joy or that they live in agony that it will cease at any moment.
We live in societies that are obsessed with 'positive' feelings and against the so-called 'negatives' ones. Joy, happiness, satisfaction must be experienced on a daily basis and if someone dares not to smile, then it means that they are not well or that they are depressed.
I am wondering if anyone truly believes that another person chooses consciously to feel lonely, sad, angry, or hurt.
We have all met people who experience difficult feelings for long periods of time, maybe even years and we have been affected or felt bad about them not doing anything to change it or open up to someone to help them. How long a person's grief lasts, whether someone knows how to express and transform difficult feelings into something else, whether he has control or tries to express something through them is purely personal marches and everyone has to give his own answers. Similarly, if and what position does he take towards a person who experiences such emotions, for example, if one is not connected with his pain, then he will not necessarily be able to connect and support someone else's pain.
I am one of those people who believe that emotions are not these unexplained states in which someone suddenly finds themselves in, but states that carry information about our relationship with ourselves and our environment at any given time (close or distant). For example, if we feel fear, our system has noticed something threatening (imaginary or real) and informs us about it through the emotion of fear.
Thinking of joy one word comes up again and again in my mind.. adequacy.
Whether it concerns objects, conditions or relationships with people, the fact that someone feels joy about something, means that they appreciate (attribute value) something at that given time that is sufficient for them. Like a form of wholeness, a state of euphoria where what one is happy with is enough to give birth to this emotion as a response.
I observe again and again people (and I have been one of them) who are lost in the day, in the week, in their moment because nothing is 'enough'. They want to do more things, there is a constant agony that they have not done enough, that there is not enough time, that they have forgotten something, that someone or something has not been taken care, that they have no right to turn off the ever moving switch because they have not reached the 'good enough' state.
I think we all can imagine how difficult this can be for the individual and perhaps for those around him who might be trying to connect with him. In this agony, the individual loses the prospect of joy as it becomes the feeling that is projected into the future and he will feel it when he first fulfils his obligations. A constant movement, then, an accomplishment that never happens. It's like a marriage that stays in the stag dos and practically never takes place, neither its reception.
The experience of joy calls for a pause, for a moment of breath where a person can recognise and appreciate what he has got, what is happening, what he has already accomplished, what he plans to accomplish, the people he has in his life and they love him , the fact that he is alive and takes breath at that very moment, for the creation, the life and the love that exists around him and so many other things.
The list is endless to the extent that we could say that we may constantly live in awe because of how many reasons we have to be happy every moment.
To be cut off from joy, whether we admit it or not, is inevitable because in life there are difficulties, we get pressurised, we get ill, we are hurt, we cry, we separated, we are afraid.
But putting our lives in the prospect of joy, whenever and as much as we can, by appreciating 'that there is', that is our choice...