Today I am writing about something that I have experienced a lot on a personal and professional level and I feel that that we do not often talk about or understand it enough.
Besides the odd commentaries and opinions before that, I initially heard about 'bipolar disorder' during my psychotherapy training among other clinical diagnosis of mental health illnesses. There are these lists that psychiatric associations and institutions have created with symptoms and criteria for diagnosis. If a person fits the majority or all the criteria, then they were given the 'label': 'bipolar' or formerly 'manic-depressive'. This diagnosis in very basic terms describes a person with extreme consecutive 'high' and 'low' mood episodes.
The 'high' mood can include an very elevated and happy state where the person can spend lots of money unnecessarily, gamble, take drugs, break up important relationships and, generally, exhibit behaviours that do not belong to its 'normal' self. In the 'low' mood the person falls into severe depression with feelings of helplessness, shame and guilt suffering the consequences from the actions during the 'high' mood.
Does any of these traits sound familiar?
I have always been suspicious with diagnosis mainly because they are focusing on symptoms, criteria and 'problematic' behaviours rather than the causes of these behaviours and more importantly with the solutions to change them.
With the years and by seeing extreme cases of people who were putting their lives in danger, I came to appreciate the contribution of psychiatry and medicine to the management of severe forms of mental health illnesses.
I have seen people become more stable when their are on medication for bipolar disorder (mainly mood stabilisers) maybe partially because they feel they are doing something about it. The angle that I am coming from in the matter has more to do with the psychology and the formation of the behaviour and how, ultimately, a person can have a more stable and fulfilling life.
Imagine that you have in front of you a young child that pride is an important value for him or her. He wants to be good at school and wants to be naughty too. He is smart and does not like when he is being told off as he takes it really at heart, especially when he has taken the blame for something that he has not done. He is very sensitive to other people's feelings and tends to put his feelings second in order no to cause friction and unpleasant behaviours to the people he loves.
Imagine now that this child is growing up in a family where there is a little bit of chaos (like there is another way for a family to be!). Mother and father are often fighting, they are giving mixed messages to the children of what is good or bad and what is expected of them or not, without giving any explanations, there is no justice in the family system and people are being blamed in the wrong, there is no sufficient and firm guidance on principles of life such as freedom, responsibility, emotional recognition and expression, clarity of roles, accepted behaviours, love and so on.
It feels like the list of dysfunctional behaviours could be endless, but you get the gist of it.
I am aware that many parents are going to think now: '...but I did my best, how could I know that my child felt confused or is going to have some serious bipolar traits? Do you know how difficult it was for me to grow up in my family environment and also create my own family?
Of course the parent has her/his own experience and take on on their parenting skills. It is not about blaming here, but understanding. The fact that someone felt neglected, hurt and did not receive what he needed as a child does not mean that he can not do the same to his own children, if he is not conscious of the impact of his actions.
When a child with the above background and personality traits becomes an adult we can imagine that their life will be a bit confusing. They might not know who they are serving, really, themselves or someone else? They will not probably know how to access support and guidance from their environment as they do not know that a supportive and stable environment is possible for them. They might not have the confidence in making decisions and forming relationships that are going to survive difficult feelings that are caused by disagreement or fights.
When a child is receiving conflicting messages from their environment- like any person would do- they are finding ways to close the gap and control the tension they are feeling by creating a 'story', like that 'it was my fault', 'they do not care about me' etc, by taking one side of the conflict neglecting the other or by not trusting the environment all together for guidance and support. That leaves them feeling vulnerable in their lives as not only they have learned that there is no one trustworthy to go to, but, also, by internalising the aforementioned dynamics, they are not able to trust themselves!
It is not by accident that certain people develop certain illnesses, both physical and mental, and other people different ones. Or to say it better, every mental illness, every behaviour we adopt, every strategy we use to react to life is our own unique way to respond to our life experiences.
In the example above the person has not dealt with and, thus, has not learned how to deal with difficult situations and the associated feelings, including standing up for themselves despite the cost. It is more likely that they will either 'fall under them' or 'rise above them' those feelings as a coping mechanism to deal with the conflicting (both internal & external) demands. Here they are, the 'high' and 'low' moods.
Imagine you are about to climb a mountain; you have not done it before and, normally, you might feel scared and, simultaneously, excited as that would be something new. If you start climbing and things are more challenging than you thought they would be, then what would you do?
A possible adult (mature) reaction would be to feel sad that you did not fulfil your desire, but you would still praise yourself for the effort you put in and maybe encourage her to give it another go in the future. Another person might give up blaming themselves for being a coward because they did not try enough etc. or they might continue climbing by losing connection with their fear, terror, fatigue and helplessness resulting in over estimating their abilities and possibly ending up in harming themselves.
This is in very generic terms the dipole between 'over-achieving' and 'under pressure'. In fact many high achieving, successful professionals are functional, diagnosed or non diagnosed bipolar who have frozen their feelings and feel only alive when they achieve; anything else is a hated failure from which they will ran away at all costs.
Working with people in deep, soul level can be challenging by itself at times. Working, though, with someone who presents with strong bipolar traits can be even more challenging as it can feel like there is no ground, there is either flying or being underground; there is no stability, no hope, not something to rely on and ground oneself in.
However frightening or difficult this may be, it is ultimately the reality that all of us live in to some extent.
Nothing really is set in stone. Relationships end, jobs are changing, the world is changing and this can be more challenging for some people than others. People who are overly attached to stability or they have never experienced it as such, they will tend to suffer more. We all need a level of stability in order to build our lives upon, but if we place too much emphasis on stability and ask for it in places (or people) that can not provide it, then this can become a problem.
The biggest challenge for people is to realise that ultimately the answers (and the support) lie mainly within us, if we 'dig' deep enough in our hearts and existence.
There are a few factors that work as lighthouses for me when it comes to extreme states of being in general, not just bipolar.
Follow one's own truth
My antidote or better the path that my soul chose to follow is the one of honesty, freedom and grounding. It is only when we find our own voice, our own truth, our own power in every situation that we can feel at home and relax. For some people that requires training as they may not be used to trusting and give credits to their voice of truth. There is great bravery and risk when one stands by their truth and needs while the possible costs are painful and, yet, less important than the gains. Sometimes the voice itself might sound confused and unclear and that is ok: decisions often bring conflicting options and feelings with them. Staying with the conflict will help clarifying your values, what is really important for you. When that clarity comes, then be prepared to withstand they break down of your old life and to move mountains.
Make your voice heard
Often we feel that we have to deal with challenging situations by ourselves and we retreat in our caves. Sharing our struggles can help in two ways, firstly, by feeling heard as we listen ourselves describing our challenges and, secondly, by receiving a piece of advice, information or something from someone else who is more distant and possibly more objective than us.
Unconditional love and self care
Mania and depression are both harsh states. There is a situation, a demand, a need that is so difficult for the person that he will have to move away from his centre (if he even got to know where that is) to the tortures of hell or the skies of heaven, where he feels untouchable. In both cases there is very little love, there is just survival from one state to the other, from one situation to another, going through the motions like watching a film without understanding it or participating in any way.
What if we try to spread some love in every step of that journey?
I am aware that this is easier said than being done, especially for people who have lived the majority of their lives feeling that there is something wrong with them or that they have always done something wrong to be blamed for.
Train ourselves moment to moment, day to day, week to week that we are enough, we are doing our best at all times, we are loved at every single moment without any 'buts'. We are unconditionally loved full stop, for no reason, just for being, just for who we are in our totality.
I am fully aware that for some people that might sound gibberish but is actually true. It is when we lose contact with that truth that we harshly judge ourselves and accuse them for everything that goes 'wrong', even if it is not our fault and beyond our control.
Are you aware of the effort and training that is required for an athlete to become champion?
That is the commitment and the effort we need to show in a continual basis for self care and self love. They are not given, for granted, they are actions towards ourselves every single day!
Early life experiences both pleasant and difficult shape who we have become, how we interact with the world and how we create our lives. Getting to know oneself is the first step of changing what is dysfunctional within us and holds as back.
They have formed our lives so far, lets not allow them to shape our future too...
No doubt, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years of the last decades for the whole globe.
Our global health has been jeopardised, the 'normality' of our lives has been interrupted, we experience restrictions in our freedoms of being, we see many people dying and many others becoming seriously ill, many people are losing their jobs or they are forced to make different work choices, we can not hug and touch our loved ones and so on.
For some this epidemic is just something that happens every so often in humanity as we constantly live among viruses. For some others this is part of a global plan to manipulate the masses. For others, this is the consequence of humanity's arrogance who went to places that are proven threatening to its existence.
Each one of us can give our personal explanation and meaning on the reasons why the pandemic happened and what impact its appearance and implications had on one's self.
My intention here to set a framework, a context, a spiritual perspective in what I perceive has happened this past year and continues to unfolds in front of our eyes.
Many people who are interested in the evolution of human spirit (including myself) have observed for some time now that humanity seems to be going into a new phase. Some people call it the 'era of Aquarius' with its own new characteristics.
I have extensively written in previous articles on how human spirit progressed from simple to more complex ways of being.
For more than a century now humanity has gradually, but steadily, developed great mastery of anything material. We can change the climate of our homes, we created sophisticated tools and intelligent machines, we can even cure diseases that previously were death sentence. All these are proofs of our immense intelligence. Building on each other's knowledge and experience we continuously improve and develop our lives further and further. For this we deserve collectively to feel proud, happy and grateful.
We have grown beyond survival; we have become a creature of innovation, of constant growth and adaptation; we have become to some extent the masters of earth!
That is all so great, our father is very proud of us, but if we zoom out of this frame we will see that the frame is about anything material: our bodies, our houses, our environment.
What about our other levels of existence?
We also have thoughts, feelings and spiritual aspirations.
When we see a mountain we can think: 'oh great, what a wonderful challenge to cut its trees and use them as paper or create a hole through it, so a road can pass through to shorten our journey to its other side'. We can also think: 'what a beautiful shape of earth, what a marvellous source of oxygen for our health, what a wise, full of life cohabitant!'
They are both thoughts who in turn provoke sentiments and feelings within us based on our values (spirit).
In the first set of thoughts, the materialistic, our value is mainly... ourselves. How our lives are going to become better and easier, what are you going to gain from one thing or another, how useful is something or someone to us and so on. You might start seeing now how egotistical and self centred such approach can be.
The 'all about me' mindset not only focuses on the personal gains of an interaction, but it barely sees 'the other' as a separate , autonomous, self defined being. In the twists of this mindset we can find the seed of hurtful actions against another being. 'If the other person does not exist separate from me, then I can do whatever I want to him without feeling any pain or guilt' a criminal might subconsciously think.
When the other becomes 'less than' us, then we can do to her whatever we want, can use her, let her die, give her less resources to live a happy and fulfilling life because she might be a threat to us and our special culture.
The second trail of thoughts (with subsequent feelings attached to them) is based on the value of beauty, respect, wholeness, equality, unity and peace. The subject who thinks those thoughts somehow comprehends that lives with and due to the existence of everything else around him. A plant, an insect, an animal, another person even a virus, are all creations of divine nature and deserve to live and be respected the same as everything else. There is no arrogance in nature. Carnivore animals kill other animals to eat and survive, not to make clothes and accessories.
I do not assign any moral judgments to the above. Morality, after all, is another human construct that takes the form and shape that we give to it.
My personal morality these days instructs me to accept whatever happens within and around me as a purposeful event driven by values and to live by my own values and truth.
Ego and Thy Self
For those of you who know me (either in person or through my writings), you know that I am nowadays not a person of separation but of unity. Is one thing to believe only in one side of the coin and another to make the effort to understand both sides and then decide the one that feels right and true to you right now.
I do have a strong sense and feeling for what is happening and I only want to communicate this with you. What are you going to do with this information is completely your personal matter.
I feel we are evolving like we have done so many times in the past centuries. For those who believe in past lives, you most probably have experienced another shift in consciousness sometime in the past; of course, not the same one as every time we truly integrate a lesson we move to the next one.
In every evolutionary (and change) process there is a pull from behind, from the known and safe state that we used to be and a push to the new, unknown, scary and exciting at the same time that 'calls' us forward. It is like as we were growing physically up and our clothes do not fit us anymore. We can pretend that we can still wear our favourite jumper and yet the reality is that it is too small for us now and we have to let it go...
Something similar happens with the collective and our personal egos now. It was/is part of our evolutionary journey to go through out material phase, where all material goods, including the food we eat, adopted the majority of the meaning of our lives. They became our happiness and misery, our joy and sadness, our excitement and depression, our hope and desperation, our memories and void, our identity.
Of course, they failed us, or better, our plan (the extended use of them) failed.
It is one thing to do a job that we enjoy doing and we feel it contributes to the benefit of the society we live in and it is another thing to live in order to work and accumulate wealth which we do not have time to enjoy and, in the end, we are going to leave behind when we leave this world.
It is one thing to enjoy the rejuvenating and refreshing effect of the sea on our holiday and another to use and through our plastics into the sea being indifferent on their effect on her.
No matter how many times and sizes we are going to buy the same jumper in, there will be a moment for us to admit that yes, it gives us joy to have it, and ultimately our joy is something different, bigger and wider.
I am sorry, but I can not name that for you...
You have to search deep in your heart to find it. You have to really sit in silence and ask your true self: 'what really gives me joy?', 'what excites me and makes my heart move?', 'is there something that I can offer to the world?'.
The ego will always try to give an answer that will fill this void, this is its job, to not leave logical gaps to our understanding of the world, otherwise the world is madness. Ego functions through identification with thoughts, feelings, values: 'I am, therefore...'. etc.
What if there is a bigger truth of us, a truth that knows when we eat because we are hungry and/or because we are sad, when we buy something because we need it and/or because we are missing a hug, when we say something that we mean to say and/or we say it because it is the 'right' thing to say, when we do something because we really want to and/or because 'that is who we are'.
For me it is clear that we are entering a new era which calls for integration and balance.
We are moving into a 'wireless', 'paperless' and remote working period, lets be mindful that it will not become emotionless, lifeless and isolating period.
Life is a process of becoming who we truly are, who we are already with our flaws, our gifts and our values...
Happy New Year, happy new you!
Here we are again in the second lockdown in many countries. Here is to another strict measure to deal with the consequences of the epidemic of coronavirus.
On some level it feels like reexperiencing trauma. We had made our efforts globally to the best of our abilities (and decisions) and here we are again, in almost the same place. What did actually happen? Some prognosis say that epidemics remain for at least three, four years until they become manageable for the large population. Continuing the lockdown does not quite feel a viable option.
I do not intend to make an analysis of the epidemic as we are already overwhelmed with analysis from scientists, politicians and so on.
I always return to the knowledge I acquired from the university studying various theories of communication. At the centre of an enormous field of knowledge I learned that everything a person does is one way or another political. From the goods we are buying, to the types or relationships we form, our vote and so on. Politics is, basically, everything we do in order to accomplish something. Right after our political actions comes the communication of our actions. Some actions may 'speak for themselves' and others need some sort of 'translation'. Why someone said something and what was their goal of saying it?
Lets not fool ourselves anymore, there is meaning in everything we do and say. We might say something to express ourselves and/or to provoke a certain reaction from another. It completely changes level when we are talking about the decisions concerning the entire population of a country.
My sense is that the majority of people in the countries having a second lockdown is experiencing mixed feelings about it. There might be anger towards the virus, politicians and anyone responsible for the why we are back here in this restriction, there might be sadness, powerlessness, disappointment, even a sense of giving up of any effort to feel optimistic or maintain one's good mental health.
Indeed, there are so many unknown variables in this equation that it is hard to maintain a stable and positive appearance. Many people have lost their jobs, others had their income substantially reduced, others are dealing with uncertainty in their lives including the breaking down of their relationships, others have actually lost someone during that period etc. It is fair to say that, even though, we all live the same thing, we are experiencing it in a very different and personal way.
During this second confinement, besides the external consequences, we are probably, also, dealing with internal processes and challenges, for example, feeling lonely, overwhelmed, in pain due to trauma triggered and so on. Unfortunately, I do not have any magical solution to offer you to feel better. It is a new situation to all of us and we are all dealing with it in a way that feels right to us.
What I do have, though, is some conclusions of my own and some suggestions as a professional with some experience working in mental health.
1. Let it be & let it go
Some people might say 'what are you talking about? this is our lives?'. I do not mean let go of your life, quite the opposite. I mean let go of the idea you have about your life and start living it as it is right now! I, also, mean let all your feelings be present and not judge them. They are all valid, even if they feel overwhelming and is hard to understand them. Give them air and space, write them down, draw them, sing them, dance them, just do not suppress them. They are not your enemies now or ever, they are your friends who are informing you of what are you experiencing right now.
We all have aspirations, plans, things we have planned and were looking forward to be doing. Change is inevitable in life, so let your system (your body, your feelings, your mind) to accept, process and adjust to this change, do not force it. The whole nature is going through a dying and rebirthing process every single year through the seasons and notice how smoothly it adjusts to it.
It is, also, like breaking your leg, you need time to operate, heal and recover. You can not just start walking again, you need to let your body heal itself and help it with prescribed exercises to become stronger day by day. If you rush it, you might cause further damage and it may not heal properly leaving you the promise of future problems.
2. Sit with it
This is a very common phrase that psychotherapists use a lot to signify the way to deeply integrate a situation. Remember that events are just events, neither positive or negative. It is our own lens and perspective that makes them significant and meaningful or not. Of course, we would feel angry as we are being denied our freedom, our health is potentially under threat, our life is being placed on hold or turned into an unknown route and so on. It is absolutely valid and undeniable.
Another thing that the situation calls us to sit with, I feel, is the issue of power and responsibility. There have been a lot of discussions around 'personal responsibility' towards oneself and others during the epidemic. How about sit with yourselves with some calm music and lit candle and ask them: 'what are you responsible and not responsible for what is happening?', 'what is that you can and can not do to protect yourself and your vulnerable elder neighbour?', 'what is it you can do to contribute to the decision making process that concern your lives on a local and national level?', 'is there anything you can do to make your feelings, voice and concerns heard by your people and the people around you?', 'how do you personally assess the results of the choices that you, others and politicians make as political actions to deal effectively with the situation?'
As always, processes like these can be hard for one person to do alone without some sort of guidance and, yet, I would encourage anyone who is not comfortable with the situation to actually start a process like this, where the only goal would be to listen to themselves. Especially now that we all have more time and space to do something like that. You can view it as a mini retreat time in your own house.
I was, initially, surprised at the first lockdown how many people decided to leave their jobs in the midst of all the uncertainty, because it did not feel right for them anymore. Sitting with something that 'bothers' you can be proven very productive as it might lead to solutions that you would have not easily thought before.
Inevitably, another major area that is being affected again from the lockdown is our relationships. Being single or with a partner, living alone or with someone else, the confinement forces us to see ourselves and the other more closely as the space around us becomes smaller. It is no surprise that many relationships were tested in the first lockdown and they did not survive it and some others were either formed or became much stronger.
In all cases, what might be helpful is honesty and courage to open up. We often lock ourselves behind roles, certain expectations and demands, that we forget what is really important to us. Our primary relationship, at least as adults, is with ourselves. If we have lost touch with our feelings and who we are, then, nobody can really bridge that gap for us. They can help us temporarily, for example, to not feel alone and, yet, we know that this is not a permanent solution.
Let yourselves, then, have a better chat with yourselves; organise a good catch up, be curious of where have you been, how was that, was there anything missing? Do that with people that interest you, your family, friends, partner, look at them in the eyes and enquire for a deeper and more sincere truth. You may be surprised to discover in that process how much you did not know, how many colours of yours and others' rainbows you have been missing, in how many ways you can really contact someone.
I feel I can write endlessly about the importance of making the best out of every situation.
From a consciousness perspective, that regards everything as a necessary part of the whole, there is no 'enemy' virus or, better, the virus is both an enemy (of our health) and a friend that can show us new things about ourselves and the world.
Being with whatever exists is a political act of love. It can lead you to show more love to yourself, to take new directions, to be kinder to your neighbours, to care about your surroundings, to become a more involved and evolved human being.
As always, the choice (and personal responsibility) is always yours...
It has been a while since I last wrote and that is because every so often I need to 'sit with' what is happening and not do or say something. The current epidemic and its consequences had a domino impact on many levels for all of us.
In this article, I wanted to discuss a bit more something that has always been present in my writings but, maybe, in not such an explicit way: the constant transition of oneself.
Most of the times we consider ourselves as that fixed entity that moves from one thing to another. Perfectly understandable as we live under that physical, emotional and mental skin all the time. The way that each one of us knows we are present in space and time, is by experiencing at any given moment how our bodies function and feel, what are our feelings, what are we thinking and what is it that we want- a need, a drive and a quest-. This experience is unique for each one of us every moment and we can only describe or even consciously understand ourselves some part of it.
Contemplate for a moment that right now you are reading this, your body continues doing all its internal processes, you might be drinking or eating something at the same time, you are hearing noises inside and outside of the room that you are in, you are experiencing certain feelings and having certain thoughts. The complexity of our presence is really a wonder!
As this wonder is not enough, it is also continuously changing. The very next moment we are feeling something different, we are thinking another thought, we are engaged with something else and altogether having a different experience. How could we still be the same 'person' that experiences all these?
Are we not being influenced, touched and affected by the smile of another person, their touch, the view from our house, the noise from the street, the internal demands? How, then, can we still be the same person every day?
It is true that in order to make sense of our lives we need a reference point, something that will remain somehow static, still and stable in this 'madness' of constant change inside and around us. Hence, we invented the sense of self, that entity that consists of things that we are and we are not, that we know of ourselves, that we can and can not do, that have formed us and are part of our history. We feel we are that narrative that describes us exactly and, partially, is true because it consists of all the experiences, processes and truths that we have understood to be. It is like being a library that is made of the building, the books and the people who work in it.
Lets entertain for a while the thought that the entity 'library' could also include the books that were ordered and never arrived, the builders that build it, the repairs that were ever done to it, the weather conditions that touched its exterior, the people that ever visited the library, the sentiments that the people left by being there, the missing books that were never returned to it and so on. That makes the library a much 'bigger' entity that consists of so many more processes and material than our initial perception of it.
That is also what is happening to us. Like caterpillar that turns into chrysalis and then into a butterfly, we have the ability to change. In fact our bodies change without even asking us, destroying and creating new cells every day. For other animals contemplating a change, like the one of caterpillars, for themselves is probably considered impossible. Somehow, though, the caterpillars in their evolutionary journey they managed to imagine themselves differently, they created and followed a different narrative of that that they can not fly and they managed to transform into a being that can fly, even if that meant that they will live only up to few months more.
Imagine the fragility of the transition from a body walking onto the earth into a being creating (beautiful) wings to fly. It stays there from days to months semi-protected, vulnerable to weather conditions and external threats. Yet, this is its journey, this is the journey that completes and fulfils its existence, this is its destiny!
I find this a very powerful and important symbolism of the human evolutionary journey. We, too, have evolved from other species. It is absolutely miraculous, if one really contemplates the amount of achievements humanity has achieved. From rough, egotistical, language less survivors, we became the creators of societies and civilisations, religions and laws all driven by a desire for something. That desire or desires, whatever they were, made us commit to and pursue our expansion further and further.
It is really wonderous to realise that we have been driving a ship with such eager without knowing exactly
where it is going!
What is really driving us? What are we truly devoted to?
They both feel very important questions right now, which they need to be answered on a personal and collective level. We are triumphants of the earth, we came, we evolved, we conquered, we managed to survive and thrive on it. What is it that we want to do now? Destroy it and, along with it, our lives?
The creation of political and financial systems helped us for many centuries to put things in order, to organise our library and make it function as smoothly and productively as it could. It feels like they have taken a life of their own now. People have identify so much with what these systems mean to them, that they are so resistant to change. The same happens in several systems such as family, companies, societies.
It is like the employees of the library have taken it over and keep piling up books considering them to be the most important good in the world and the library gets so full that no one can visit it anymore, gets dirty and so many things are breaking down.
What is, really, the point of having so many poems, when we can not read and appreciate any?
What is the point of creating music and sound, when we can not sing our own songs to one another?
What will it take until we realise that caterpillars become butterflies because they survive better and prettier and not necessarily for longest?
The answers are always personal...
The content of this article has been building slowly lately and owes its composition to various sources of observation as well as personal experiences as always. My intention is to share various thoughts and reflections that may encounter some of your own.
Most of the world is still numb from Covid-19 and perhaps anxious about what might come next. On the one hand, we want to continue to live 'normally', to do what we like, to make money, to somehow plan the future and, on the other hand, many of the givens that existed to allow us the above have now been disturbed.
I notice quite a lot of the economic consequences of the measures against the virus in various touristic professions in Greece, which made me once again realize how interdependent we are globally. The economy and the choices of the English and Americans, for example, affect quite directly the small population of an island in Greece waiting for the exchange of money-services/goods in order to make some money to survive.
Similarly, the Americans, the English etc need Greece to buy some of their goods.
So we are almost all globally connected under the rules of a capitalist system which tells us how to produce, manage and exchange resources, goods and services within a society and among countries.
This whole system of rules and relationships (capitalism) ensures to some extent the preservation and smooth functioning of our lives since, within this system, our purpose is to find money to be able to buy what we need to survive and to have access to what we want to do. In essence we are talking about a mechanistic model of life where everything, including people, is subject to one price, has a measurable value determined by someone based on production costs, competition, internal and external market climate etc-economists can explain them better than me-.
At the same time, this specific system of organizing our lives regards everything potentially as a commodity and man as a consumer. So in order for consumers to continue eating meat, building luxury homes and having exotic experiences, they must turn their resources into commodities at whatever cost, including the destruction of entire ecosystems.
That is, we bring everything that is available in our measures to use it as we think best. Most often this way of living signifies a self-referential situation where we identify our joy almost exclusively with material goods and as a result many of our relationships are structured and signified based on this purpose. We have fewer friends now and more followers who like and 'consume', like us,' staged ' photos, advertised products and our idyllic moments through social media.
We live in a time when we discover every day how connected we are people, how much we can not live without each other, if we want to live well and not just survive.
The argument for our attachment to matter as the signifier of our life loses its strength. Of course we are in need of food and material goods and we have managed to have them in superabundance, by overusing the resources we have.
A dish of food we can perhaps easily find (if we are lucky of course), but there are other things that seem to be getting harder and harder to find. A hug, the expression of love, the joy of a child when the are being listened to and understood, inner calmness and satisfaction and other such have no specific value. They belong to the category of non materialistic needs that turn out to be so difficult and frightening for people to fulfil because they bring him face to face with the depth of his being.
Depth that can neither be measured, nor specific value can be given to it. It is our infinity and eternity, it is what we are in our essence, it is what we forget when we dive into the hole of the finite and are caught by it, by the body and the senses, by material satisfaction as if what we feel belongs to things and not to us.
Well, they belong to us and we can direct them wherever we want. Our happiness was associated with other things in our 20s and most likely with others in our 30s and so on. The feeling of joy that we experience, the very thing that we interpret as the reason to feel joy or not with something, is in us and does not belong to any material good or service in themselves, it is made out of the focus and importance that we give to things.
While observing, I see more and more people being 'hungry' despite of them working and acquiring many material goods (most of the time useless). They are still 'hungry' for something else, for a' real ' moment, a close contact, a reassuring conversation, a selfless embrace, a little inner satisfaction and tranquillity.
We live in a time when the truth begins to manifest itself more easily. We don't have many places left to hide anymore and to keep lying to ourselves.
Scandals, frauds, suspicious intentions and lies are more easily revealed because the light travels more forcefully and reveals things. A lot of the things that used to make sense like someone's meaning of work are now like being put under the microscope and their importance is being reviewed. The same is true of institutions such as religion, states, organizations, which to a large extent fail to include all aspects of human nature and potential and, therefore, become less important to people.
At the same time, we cannot continue to 'hide' behind matter, because its obsessive and thoughtless use to satisfy deeper needs has failed us, while displaying cataclysmic consequences in our climate and environment, such as global warming.
The role of the consumer has helped us for decades to turn our attention and form our relationships into a productive way. It has served us in a way more to produce and spend than to wage wars on moral and religious grounds. Greed and power addiction, though, ,like the joy I mentioned above, as motives of action belong also to human nature and are activated as an occasion and not as a cause by any material goods.
I wonder if it's time for people to discover other 'roles' they can play in the 'game' of life. Is it time for him to begin to recognise his ambiguities? That we are at the same time immaterial and material beings living in a finite planetary environment, that we are what we like and what we do not like about ourselves, that we are with others and also alone, that we are independent and also dependent on others, that we are free and at the same time not free at all.
I feel like the presence of the virus is calling us to rethink a lot of our givens. It's like chess that the other player has made his move (spread the virus) and expects us to make ours. It is no coincidence that during the quarantine and right after there was an increase in cases of spousal violence, suicides and the number of diagnoses of mental illness. It is logical that when any normality in a person's life is disturbed and uncertainty enters then there is insecurity, anxiety and a kind of trauma or crack about whether and where one can rely on.
It is worth mentioning two examples of this (of course they are not the only ones).
One is about gay people and the other about heterosexual couples. A gay person grows by definition (at least in more conservative countries such as Greece) in a system that is not at all friendly to diversity and to a large extent internalises the constant rejection with which he/she is constantly confronted. He/She will be very lucky if while growing up he finds a person to tell him/her that it's OK to be who they are, something that a straight person does not have to experience in their lives for something that is an inherent part of oneself, sexuality. This internalised (perceived or real) rejection becomes later hay people's lifestyle that they then reproduce in their relationships and contacts with other gay people as a familiar way of being and self-protection. Fortunately all these learned behaviours can change when one works on their self-awareness and personal development.
In heterosexual couples we often refer to the violence that a man exerts on a woman as traditionally the physically strongest one that to a certain degree happens and needs to be addressed. At the same time, however, we are talking much less about the behaviours that a woman often adopts to deal with a male-dominated society. This behaviour presents characteristics of manipulation and emotional 'violence' where they try, many times and unconsciously, to restore a certain equality in a relationship using their feelings and whatever effects they may have.
An adult, healthy relationship regardless of gender and roles has the characteristics of mutual respect, equality, honesty, appreciation and love in all parts of one person and the other.
Why is it so hard to be honest with ourselves and with others?
Do the roles we have adopted both individually and collectively in our relationships keep us bound to specific behaviours and patterns;
Is it time to honestly and courageously reconsider the responsibility we have as beings for all our choices and respectively to who we trust (including governments, institutions and organisations)?
We humans can do the 'worst' and the 'best', we can destroy but also save, we can condemn but also deliver. I speak not only of everything material and external, but mainly of our souls themselves; the rest are mere expressions of them.
Will we continue to live in the 'security' and the illusions of any role we play or will we dare to create and claim those conditions for calmer and complete souls and consequently happy lives?
It has been a while since I last wrote as there are so many changes taking place on all levels. As always this article is a combination of my own experiences and observations of the experiences of other people.
We are in the midst of a big collective change. It is fair to say that they current structure of affairs is crumbling, like an earthquake had just happened and everyone assesses what has collapsed and what is still there.
There are so many analysis published that to write another one would be simple an excess.
My intention here is to share some clarifying thoughts and some- hopefully- helpful messages as possibilities to navigate your way through the situation.
When I talk about structures I mean all those components that we use to build our lives upon. Some of these components that stood out for me I will discuss here. I am, mainly, looking at it in the context of the western world and I am sure there are traces of these in other parts of the world too as they are universal components.
The issue of Truth: Whilst before there seemed to be some 'political correctness', some rules on how we were doing and saying things, now it seems that we can not 'hold it' anymore, we can not hide our truth, we can not pretend otherwise, our truth is burning inside and we will feel unwell if we do not speak it or find a way to show it. Of course, that may cause friction as people may not like our truth, they might disagree or they might find it hurtful.
Does this mean that we have to hide back to our caves or 'swallow' things? No, our truth is important, it is associated with the fifth chakra, the throat chakra, and concerns our expression, our voice, our freedom of speech and creativity. Expressing one's truth is vital for one's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health as it allows the flow of energy from the higher to the lower chakras and vice versa. People often say: 'I know this, I dont think I have to show it or say it'. Usually what they mean is that they know it intellectually and they are afraid of the consequences if they say it or express it. Otherwise, they would say that they normally say it and I choose in this situation not to for their own reasons.
It is true that speaking one's own mind (and heart) might feel quite exposing and difficult, especially when it entails admitting vulnerability such as helplessness and fear. It is like showing one's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual naked bodies. Speaking one's truth might also trigger another to feel that way. What we can do is to be mindful of our own and other people's feelings. Some people are more trained and skilled than other in doing this and we can all do it!
Check with yourselves what you need when you speak your truth: do you need respect? be listened to? not to feel judged? love? support? acknowledgement? Can you or someone else offer these things to you during or sooner after? It is like when we have fever and we feel weak, we need to be looked after by ourselves or someone else in a way that makes us feels better and more comfortable, even though the situation we are in might not feel easy.
Check, also, how the other might feel when you speak your truth. If for example, you are angry with them for not giving you what you want, they might feel incompetent as they might not know how to do it, so they might feel vulnerable and close down perceiving your truth as hurtful and threatening. If they do not have the courage to speak their truth, then you might get caught up in a defensive fight between the two of you that no one will really listen to the other. Remember there is no One truth. You have got your own and the other has got their own. An adult speaks their truth respecting another's point of view, even if it is the opposite or difficult to hear as it may not be the expected one. Try to negotiate your wants or be honest when there is no room for negotiation anymore! In the long term it might be better to live in truth rather than in lies.
Taking into consideration the other person's truth might show you something you did not know about them or might increase your empathy and love towards them. After all, no one is perfect and a 'superior' position might leave you feeling lonely.
The issue of Trust: In these changing times we are living, it is normal to experience intense fear and insecurity. When changes are happening, something is dying and something else is being born and we might not know how it will look like or how we will end up in this new structure. It is absolutely normal to feel that way. Our bodies every single moment communicate with the brain giving it information on where it is in space so it will not hit a wall etc. Your mind is doing the same, it needs security in order to imagine and create a safe and stable life and if it can not find it around, then it gets 'hyper', overworking to find a solution, or 'hypo', admitting helplessness and powerlessness to find one.
The truth (mine at least) is that none of these positions, 'hyper' or 'hypo', are absolute positions. For example, you might experience difficulties at your work, feeling helpless having to wait for more news on your job progression and, at the same time, you might feel all mighty in your relationship experiencing love, intimacy and joy with your partner.
Oh yes, human body, mind and soul can tolerate two opposites at the same time. They are actually made of all these opposites in a similar way that potentially harmful bacteria coexist on our skin, the magic dance of 'good' and 'bad' of existence. When I had just buried my beloved grandfather, I could also feel the love from the rest of my family who were right next to me.
Change brings loss and when we experience loss of anything, it is a small death. We need to say goodbye to what is leaving us (or what we are leaving) behind, we need to grieve, we need to feel and stay with the void that the loss lives in our lives. It is not easy, it is painful, scary, terrifying, lonely and, yet, is real. When we are in touch with what is real within us, then this becomes our anchor, we can relax into it and continue breathing regardless how painful it may be. For this anchor never suffocates us, the opposite, it allows us the space to be freely. What suffocates us is any demand that asks us to feel something different from what we feel or behave in a way that is simply not us.
Trusting oneself means exactly trusting what we feel, what we think, what we do as valid. When we acknowledge all these, then they become information, they tell us what is happening for us, similar to the location of the body example above and when our bodies ache informing us that that part needs our attention. Most of the times, if not all, physical pains are manifestations of neglected 'pains' or parts of us in our emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. In psychotherapy we can often have whole conversations with aching parts of one's body in order to identify the source of that pain and consequently attempt its relief.
Knowing and trusting oneself, also, means knowing (or getting to know as a lifelong journey) and trusting one's own strengths and limitations. Despite of how super-human we want to act, we are actual just humans in all our physicality and limitations. Think of your limitations as your boundaries which say 'I am this and I am not this'. When we acknowledge our boundaries, then we can separate what is within and without our sphere of control. For example, we were not responsible for the breakout of the coronavirus and yet we are responsible of protecting ourselves and also, critisize the measures that the governments took for it. There are things constantly within and without our control and by knowing and trusting ourselves, we can build our confidence to exercise our power where we want.
Completely surrendering our trust to any source of power, including religions, governments, institutions etc is also a sign of mistrust on ourselves as we also surrender our power to them to make decisions on our behalf, which in the end can be harmful to us or not in alignment with what we see as our best interest.
The issue of Love: I feel I have written a lot about love and yet is one of these things that it is infinite to explore. In this context I am referring to love as anything that we you care about. I have a strong feeling that this will be a theme for humanity for a while from now on. The brutal murder of George Floyd in the US has brought up to the surface again all the emotions (pain, suffering, anger, grief and others) and memories that a colourful part of humanity is still suffering today. For some people love means all people to be alive, free, equal, respected and well. For some other people love means mainly love towards their family, their race, their sexuality, their colour considering other people of different characteristics as somewhat 'less'.
Certainly, I can not find any reason to justify (make it just) the action and yet I think is important to understand it. The 'enemy' that the policeman saw in George Floyd had most likely nothing to do with George himself; it was probably the accumulated beliefs and emotions that the policeman have been forming and carrying for what someone like George Floyd meant to him. Perceived threats could be any men, women, homosexual, transexual, immigrants and so on who do not fit the norm, who are not the same as the prevalent outlook.
My understanding is that the people who use violence towards another human being, they do it because they love something else more than that being, be that their 'normality', 'superiority', 'rights', 'safety' etc. at the expense of the person that they are harming. We can punish individually and collectively in any way we want those people and, yet, we might not succeed in somehow teach them that love can include all opposites, all differences, anything that is not like us.
In nature animals kill each other mainly out of their necessity to eat. Maybe it is time to realize that we have evolved from just being in that state of mind. It does not mean that we have stopped being animals with raw instincts (the evolutionary brain parts are still in our heads for our survival!), it just means that we can consciously choose not to be in that state of mind and build a world based on truth, trust and love!
For centuries now we have been living our lives collectively considering the prevalent behaviours, beliefs and characteristics as 'normal' and anything that does not resemble them as 'abnormal' with lots of suffering for the latter. We have been critisizing men as weak and soft, women as sensitive and provocative, gays as natural mistakes, people of colour and immigrants as dangerous. This is the normality speaking that may never dared to be different and unique and yet it was 'strong' enough to hurt the 'non normal' in so many subtle ways.
In Greece (similar to other parts of the world) this is still quite strong as less 'normal'people are not being seen for who they are but through their differences to the prevalent life style.
I would suggest to anyone who reads this, ask yourselves: what do you love about your life? What is important to you right now? Write your answers down. Spend some time with them, contemplate your answers. This is your life we are talking about after all!
If you want to go deeper, stay a bit in silence and ask yourselves: What are you devoted to? What is it that you serve with your life? Love, money, hate, health, status, power, friendship, growth, beauty, wholeness, god, unity, creativity, love and so on? Be honest with yourselves, these are your answers and only you can read this, unless you choose to share them. Giving sincere answers will allow you to ground yourselves, to feel anchored, to honour what is important to you and consciously follow that in your life.
You might feel surprised, it may be hard to pin them down and recognise them, you might have no idea and that is ok.. Allow them to surface, be gentle and kind with yourselves. Your soul is trying to speak to you.
Imagine to solely live and speak from that place, what a joy and it is possible!
Now that we have to somehow reinvent our normality lets be more sincere with ourselves, more generous, more loving, more open minded, more inclusive and whole.
The world the same as our lives, is a reflection of our state of mind.
There is so much going on at the moment and it does take time to process all of this.
It has been difficult trying to make some sense with so much new information coming out every day.
With that in mind, I wanted as always to use some of this information under one theme, maybe in an effort to put things in order and in perspective and highlight what I see as essential, present and important.
I have already written about some of the possible lessons that can be learned from the corona virus and its consequences.
As new information is surfacing ever day is important for me at least to understand any new lessons and adjust our responses to them.
In Greece we are currently starting to get out of the lockdown and allowed some more freedoms than before. It did not make sense to keep going in lockdown state as the new infections and deaths are really low at the moment.
In my sense sooner or later we are all going to get infected and develop antibodies that constitute our natural bodily protection until an effective vaccine is found similar to the normal flu situation.
The main theme that travels through my mind these days is that of the 'truth'. It feels that there is an exaggeration of announced measures from governments and quite disproportional to the degree of threat from the virus. The death rates compared to the infected people with or without symptoms (tested and not tested) are not as high as it was initially expected. Facts that make me suspiciously question they eagerness with which governments are willing to take these restrictive measures. Cameras at schools, removal of family relatives from home, prolonged social distancing from friends and loved ones seem extreme measures comparing to harshness of the situation so far.
I understand that there are a lot of unknown parameters so far including the infection rates, the behaviour of the virus etc but it is really surprising to me that governments have not reacted like that before in other 'life threatening' situations such as normal flu and populations starving every day. Moreover, instead of waiting to see the advancements of the virus and science, they are very quick to examine strict measures.
It also sounds that so far our survival instincts are selective and country based as each country takes its own measures based on their perception and estimation of the reality of the virus.
This is exactly my main point: that we live our lives based on the truth that we know of ourselves and we believe for others. For example, if we are told by an authority that every chinese person is a threat to us as they can infect us, then we might believe this as reality and start constructing our lives around this believed 'truth'. So, we will avoid chinese people at all costs, we will use masks, gloves and anything we can to protect ourselves from them, even wish for them to leave our countries in order to remain healthy.
We would do not recognise them anymore as people that can be treated, neighbours, friends etc, but as possible infectious bomb that we have to separate ourselves from.
To follow someone's rules, means that there is belief that those rules are based on the honesty and transparency of intentions. As children we obey punishment from parents as a way to learn the 'good' way of behaving over the 'bad' one. 'Good and 'bad' in this instance are defined by what the parents believe as good or bad which in turn might have learned from their parents and so on. This is the ultimate power of parents, that under the role of a 'caring authority' can shape the behaviour of their children through punishment and reward (conditioning).
It is clear that at some level we all play 'hide and seek' lying to one another. We are constantly trying to negotiate our truth with the truth of others revealing a game of mistrust.
What is really hurting me in what we live right now is that it appears more and more probable that we are being lied to, the same way that we have been lying when we have not followed the quarantine rules.
There is always a reason why someone lies. While it is clear that people have been lying when disobeying the quarantine rules taking a risk doing an activity they enjoy, it is not so clear and highly suspicious why governments have been lying in declaring false reasons of death in favour of the virus. If the virus is the threat, why are they declaring that it killed more people than it really did? Why we become so sterilised weakening our immune system that really protects us? that It does not make sense.
Every lie told creates a gap in the glue of any relationship, trust.
The last few weeks a big part of greek society has been following the trial of two young men who raped and killed in a very violent way a young girl.
The girl's trust was broken as she did consent to meet them, but not to be raped and killed.
It is really shocking and hurtful for anyone who has a bit of empathy to realise that someone else, for whatever reason, may assume that 'it is ok' to become the authority of what is going to happen to another's life.
I am really wondering who could possible taught those two young men that 'it is ok' to make another human being and particularly a woman, suffer and take her life.
Not only they misused her trust but, also they did not have the courage to tell the truth in the court and the real truth will never be known as the girl is not alive anymore to tell it.
The silenced the truth and only some of its traces can be found.
This is only one 'small' example of what human nature is capable of.
For thousands of years we have been killing one another in the name of countries, religions, justice, democracy, human rights, profit and so on.
Oh yes, we did use to believe those truths, that the killings were justified but were they? It is completely different to kill from self defence than to to kill for other reasons.
Remember all laws are man made, hence changeable, and mainly reflecting of where the evolution of human spirit is really at. Not too long ago, it was law enforced the existence of slaves!
My interest is to follow the presence of the light in every dark corner.
There can be no real appreciation of light, if we have not experienced darkness and, yet, choosing darkness is another thing.
Each one of us is part of the same ever expanding thing, existence, and we have all been given the capacity to reach our own truth within it.
We need to search for it deep within. We need to question ourselves, 'does that feel right to me or is it something that I am being told and I consent to it blindly, because I do not know anything else?'. Standing up for one's truth requires courage and integrity similar to the need of our bodies for water in order to be sustained.
Sadly, what happened with the two young men was that their inner compass of love, respect and compassion was not working and another programme possibly learned by their parents had overruled it.
Regardless of what our parents had taught us, what the governments tell us, what the expected norms are, we always have the option to change things and be true to ourselves.
God, Universe, Light want us to be free and peaceful only if we choose it to be so every single day.
Trusting the 'wrong lord' will have devastating consequences for us and others, similar to what happened with the young men.
The choice is always ours...
Dear Monetary System,
I have been wanting to write to you for a very long time.
To be exact since at least 2008 where my country and the rest of the world experienced an economic crisis due to an internal problem of yours.
To begin with I would like to thank you for providing the framework with which we, humans were able to organise our lives for centuries. Instead of existing 'without purpose' we learn as soon as we come into this world that in order to eat, drink, have a home, have clothes and a bed, get education etc we need to work within your framework, sustain a job and earn money to spend.
It does truly make sense how humans needed to create a system in order to be able to manage the wealth that exists in this planet for their purposes. I know you have worked hard along with aspects of human nature such as greed to strengthen your place in human life across centuries and you have done so very successfully, even creating byproducts such as credit cards and bonds to facilitate that process.
I have to admit my relationship with you has always been one of many contradictions that has been hard to reconcile. On one hand, I understand that having lots of money gives me access to many things that I may want to have, such as a nice house, beautiful clothes, trips to interesting destinations etc . At the same time, the lack of money allows for people to die due to hunger and thirst, live in dirty conditions, not have access to education and beautiful clothes.
I have always felt privileged to have some access to these things knowing that some people have more access and other people have less access, but I never understood how I got to have this status. I certainly do not believe I am in any way 'better' or more worthy of them than anyone else in this world. Maybe that is a question for God to answer and maybe not... Since your system is a man made one, then God's intervention must have occurred indirectly through man's will, I imagine.
Your crisis that begun in 2008 with global consequences was the first warning sign I saw since my birth that you are not as stable as we thought you were. The situation with the corona virus reinforces this realisation. You are definitely flawed and, as a matter of fact, you have become a dangerous weapon in the hands of man as in your name people continuously die and suffer. I will not lie to you, I have been angry with you for a very long time for playing that role.
However, I understand that there is a shared responsibility here. Under your name humans found an excuse or, better, a way to exercise control over one another. If one 'owns' or 'manages' earth's water and your are thirsty, then your survival depends on that person. If you do not have money to pay for the water, then you are twice dependent on that person.
I find quite hard to understand, though, why humans do charge one another for things that are provided to them freely by nature.
Nature does not send a monthly bill to all of us for the oranges, lettuce, wood and all the resources she provides to us, why do we?
With all the respect for whatever you have been and done for humanity, I feel that you are collapsing and we are in need of a new system.
I feel humanity needs to create a system that is going to reflect its whole true nature.
At the time of your creation, we felt you were the means to an end and that 'end'is most likely completed now. For a while now we have become the merciless ruler of this planet with precarious values who is depleting its resources with the YOLO (You Only Live Once) motto. Driven by greed and arrogance we have been deciding who is going to eat and live or not having to eat and die, who is going to have access to education, who is going to be healthy, who is going to have bigger houses, fine clothes, 'exotic' adventures. To a large extent we have been controlling or being controlled by one another on what we can and can not do in this life.
You have helped us to see and experience what it means to become slaves of our own instincts. You have helped us to make reality many dark parts of our human nature such as selfishness, brutality, greed, injustice, pain, suffering etc. For all these we are grateful to you.
Call me a 'dreamer' but I have a strong belief and faith that humanity will start gradually to turn into another system based on real values acknowledging that all humans are equal and deserve to have access to everything that will help them create meaningful and fulfilling lives.
It does not make sense, dear monetary system, to continue with you as our main system.
We are passing byers on this planet and the recent events showed us that values such as life itself, health, mental and emotional peace and happiness, appreciation of freedom and nature are much more valuable to us than money and guess what, they can be free!
The main reason for people to group together and organise ourselves in societies is that we can help one another, take care and look after one another trusting that one's thriving is everybody's thriving and not at the expense of the others.
Even if we do not consciously acknowledge it, I feel we are getting stronger and wiser through life's continuous lessons to choose a different way of living. Under the recent threat, the majority of us have felt grateful for everything we have. During lockdown, we appreciated our walks in nature, the freshness of the air, the cleanness of the atmosphere and the waters, the reappearance of animals near us, the relaxed pace of living without having to work and live in frenetic rhythms only to end up being in debt to our artificial bank accounts and our souls!
Now that your system has shown us all its vulnerabilities and limitations, I do hope that humanity will integrate previous lessons and will accept the not so easy challenge to create a just, peaceful, full of gratitude, enjoyable and fulfilling world for everyone to live in.
If it is not in your hands, neither in God's, maybe it is in our hands...
''Until you make the unconscious conscious,
it will direct your life and you will call it fate''
The more the days are passing in lockdown, the more it seems that we familiarise ourselves with the experience.
I am experiencing and observing mixed feelings around me and wanted to name and discuss some of them.
We were asked to stop and for most people that disrupted their routine in many levels. We stopped going to work, meet and hug friends, do hobbies and activities, travel etc. We were forced to pause; to take a break and, more importantly, a collective one that we would not normally do. It was as if we experienced 'L'arrêt du temps', the stop of time.
We are still alive, oh yes, we breath, we eat, we shower and yet our days are different, time is different, our moments are different. We have more time in the places we live, our homes, we have more time with the people we live with and we have more time with ourselves.
Some people (namely introverts) maybe more comfortable with this arrangement as being confined and minimally distracted might be more aligned with their nature. For other people (extroverts) that might be more challenging as they might enjoy more the company of many other people and being out and about doing things.
Having a bit more time and space available in our days might be challenging for everyone as we are not used to it. We are used to 'running around', doing things, attend to whatever we created as important and meaningful in our lives. Our lives are mainly defined by and focused on 'doing'. We feel we have a successful day when we have accomplished many complicated tasks. We feel we have a meaningful life when we are planning things and look forward to live them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that as such.
I have experienced it becoming a problem when we exceed the speed limits of our bodies and minds. I have seen people over and over again becoming physically and mentally ill (off balance) because they have not listened to the alarming bells of limits crossing.
It is totally understandable that in the process of building meaningful lives we might get carried away and overdo it. We only want to keep feeling good about ourselves by creating productive and fulfilling lives. Undoubtedly, being creative is a key element to our health and happiness. Is there an issue then when we cross our own limits?
From a (physical, emotional and mental) health point of view it is useful to be aware of our limits at any given time. When we feel tired and we continue doing the things then we are most likely going to hurt ourselves or start making mistakes. Think that our bodies need (almost) one third of our day (one third of our lives!) to sleep, to rest in an unconscious state which is vital for the function of our brain. Like every system, we need to 'shut down', to have some maintenance time when the 'machine' is going to rest, get cleaned, rejuvenate.
That is what are the holidays for you are going to respond and you are right. How often though, can we take the holiday we possibly need ? Our lives are so tightly structured (including financial commitments) that even if we could have some time off, the things that need to be taken care of, they would not stop or we would not want them to stop.
My sense is that 'doing' has become our main way of being. We exist because of all the things we do, but is that freedom? If someone was to tell us that we would earn the same amount of money without having to go to work, would we still go to work the next day? Would we still create the same life we are creating right now?
I understand that the question and its answer is not that simple, yet my point is what drives our lives? What are we devoted to? What is our passion and purpose of living?
I am not asking those questions in a philosophical way, but in a pragmatic one.
What does make us smile? What does make our hearts beat every single day?
What inspires us and interests us in this world?
Having time and space in our hearts inevitably leaves us some available space and time to reflect, if we wish so. No one asks us to do so, it is entirely up to us.
In our resting time, our sleep, we are having dreams, the vibrant communication between our conscious and unconscious mind that resolves the tensions of the day and informs us of our physical state.
Would it be possible to allow for some time in our two third, every day awaken state to do the same? To be instead of doing?
To be without purpose and direction, to be silly and with no sense, to play, to not think, to be empty, to imagine, to not create, to enjoy the view from mountain we just climbed up.
By just being we might realise that there are parts of our hearts that we did not know existed and, thus, we have not been listening to them as we have been so focused elsewhere.
Whose life are we actual living and who is that is actually living?
Is it someone honest, authentic and whole or someone partial and incomplete?
The quarantine continues... Despite the bombardment of information I would like to continue with some more reflections so long as the 'stay home' regime remains.
I have the impression that we are somewhere between a nightmare and a challenge.
It is true that most people's lives have changed suddenly from one day to the next and it is logical we are all looking to find a balance in our daily lives between past habits and current situation.
We have been quarantined and 'sacrificed' our freedom of movement for a while now, in order to protect our own and others' health, known and unknown.
Some have followed the measures with more or less eagerness in the same way that children in a family react to the imposition of a rule by their parents; some rebel trying to escape the rule and perhaps get into punishment and some follow it submissively as the only possible option.
In the case of coronavirus it is not a punishment but a defined policy to deal with the situation, nevertheless with elements of enforcement. Everyone reacts to such conditions according to their experiences (both from this one and previous lives, if one believes in them). For example, someone can actually feel that they are being punished, like when they were children, someone else that others want to control him and to take away his freedom, another that others are trying to intimidate him for something.
Have you considered following the compass of your feelings, though, how do you experience this circumstance?
One of the first issues raised by the presence of the virus is the reference to our mortality. Yes, in the year 2020 we are still vulnerable to a virus and anyone at any time can get sick and lose their life. So our health and life are always for granted. Reason to being grateful number 1!
Most of us have restricted our field of action to that if our home, our work, to a walk and going to the supermarket. This minimization of space makes everything in it appear bigger and more intense.
Some people are having a hard time because they may be at home trapped with their children without a break, they may not be able to see their friends and close family, they may be alone, they may be trapped in abusive environments where they may not escape from and for many other reasons. For these people comforting solutions may be more about having thoughts about when they will be released and about future holidays, than about any reflections and perhaps possible changes in the way they are thinking. It is normal when a person suffers, to firstly think about when the challenging situation will end and then to reflect on what made him suffer and what the whole experience means to him.
Focusing on solutions can often make us forget how many things we have got, a safe home, some people we love and love us, food, fun, ways of creativity etc. Reason for gratitude number 2!
Prolonged confinement combined with the triggering of unresolved past experiences (wounds, traumas, experiences call them whatever you like) can bring to the surface emotions and behaviours that we were not aware of before. If a person, for example, feels lonely or vulnerable, then they can cause arguments with others around them in order to get attention. Another may feel sadness realising how and why they came to feel lonely when they are physically alone or with in the presence of others etc.
The emergence of such hitherto unknown feelings and realisations can be very difficult to manage and usually takes time and care to integrate the information. Usually, also, it is not helpful to compare one's experience with another as experiences and their reflections are personal affairs. Whether and how one experiences the feeling of loneliness may be very different from another so they can not be discussed as common experience.
Prolonged stay in quarantine can also easily push the mind into the paths of various conspiracy theories, such as that behind all this, lies the plan of few powerful to slowly bring the world to restriction of movements and freedoms. It is true, of course, that many sacramental texts refer to such an upcoming order of things, and also that many times in the past, governments and power groups have used lies to serve their interests.
Talking to friends about it I could not help but started feeling overwhelmed due to a combination of fear, helplessness and despair. Supposing such a thing is the case, it is still a wonder how the human spirit after so many centuries of progress and suffering, turns to the desire for control of other people to the benefit of few. Personally, it seems so 'petty' and despicable to me.
As far as I remember myself, my 'calling' was about creating and helping others create more free lives by freeing themselves from behaviours and dynamics that once may have been their whole world (when growing up), but later they ‘hold them back’. And that's what I intend to continue to do.
As I have extensively discussed, I do not believe that any 'action' human, physical or divine is done by chance in the sense that it has some intention, some meaning, some conscious or unconscious request that triggers it, such as the fire that warms water.
Regardless of what experiences everyone have had and whether they believe in conspiracy theories or not, it may be time to ask some crucial questions to ourselves, now that we can not get so easily distracted by external stimuli.
What does it mean for each one of us to be truly free internally and externally?
How one defines one's freedom and what one is willing to sacrifice to achieve it internally and externally?
How do we coexist with each other's freedom - of existence, expression etc-when it does not 'agree' with our own definition of freedom?
Our world and the way we live will always be made of the expression of our souls so the internal and the external worlds are not very separate. The external world is the synthesis of our contributions to it, so we all constantly creating it.
How conscious, integrous and honest we stand in front of this truth is very personal...