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if you must dream

Years ago you told me that I could have the life I wanted by being present in the life I have. You have a tendency to baffle me with these Zen-like sayings you skim from those quirky little books you read.

You said people spend most of their waking moments in a trance, their minds anywhere but where they’re at. You said the mind has a tendency to jump back and forth from the past to the future.

One minute, you said, a person is looking backward reminiscing about the past or longing for the good old days.

You were having a wise moment with me, but of course, the moment you said that last line, I started singing Billy Joel in my head: ‘the good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems..’ You could tell I was distracted, but you carried on anyway.

You said if a person wasn’t thinking about the past, they were daydreaming or worrying about the future. The problem you said was they were missing the present moment and the opportunity to live life fully awake and aware.

You said most people are conscious robots drifting through life on autopilot. You urged me not to be a conscious robot.

You said live in the present – awake and alive – but if you must dream, be one of Lawrence’s dangerous men and act out my dreams with open eyes to make them possible. You stopped talking and I could tell you were waiting for a response from me.

All I could think to do was sing Billy Joel…’you should have known me much better…’Cause my past is something that never got in my way…Oh, no’…

an approach to life for gentle souls

There’s something comforting in seeing the universe as one big book and life as one big school. Over the past decade, I have tried to live my life in accordance with this simple outlook.

I can walk outside and read the signs and omens and pay attention to the soul of the world, which as Paulo Coelho reminds us: “Everything is written in the Soul of the World.”

I have done this with a sense of wise detachment like the old Chinese philosophers who dreamt with one eye opened because they felt more alive dreaming than awake and figured if they could infuse waking life with dream-world qualities then all would be good and the spirit would be emancipated from the doom and gloom that accompanies being too serious.

A light touch, a merry philosophy, a life built around the simplicity of thinking and living is what I strive to obtain, and through my writing and coaching, hope to help others do the same.

After all, the wisdom of life consists of reducing philosophy to a few simple problems to solve – the enjoyment of home, embracing the joy of living, staying connected to Nature, and being active in culture – both high and pop culture.

Out of this comes a simple approach to life for gentle souls.

the interconnectedness of things

Arthur Koestler reminds us that each whole thing is made of its own parts, while at the same time being part of a larger whole. He called this a holon.

No creature or system can exist by itself. Being part of a larger system, it must integrate or die!

I’ve always had this sense that we are interconnected. How I am affects how you are and vice versa. I cannot have an interaction with you without some part of you becoming part of me. My whole system rearranges itself to accommodate you. This happens continuously throughout the day, so much so, that by the end of the day, you are not the same person you were at the start of the day. Most of the time, you won’t even notice the difference unless it was something traumatic or highly charged emotionally. But over time, as you look back, you’ll notice the change.

Everything touches everything else.

And if we are to not only survive, but thrive, then we have to take individual ownership of who we are and how we want to be. It’s the only way we’ll ever be able to take care of the world around us, and thus ourselves.

As I reflect on Koestler’s holon idea, I think about our own parts – our conscious self, higher self, and all the subpersonalities that make us who we are – how we must integrate these parts to be truly whole and congruent, thus making it possible for us to vibrate at a high enough frequency to reach of true potential.

And imagine if I’m at my best, and you’re at your best how much power is contained in our interaction.

How much power could we bring to the world…

The next time something triggers you emotionally, do this…

I love it when you can dip back to the ancient Greeks and pull out a bit of wisdom. Speaking on emotional intelligence (of course they didn’t call that back then) Aristotle had this to say about anger: 

“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.”

The thing about emotions is that as kids we were never really taught how to handle the beasts. Instead of learning how to deal with our emotions, we were taught to suppress them. If we got angry, our parents or teachers told us to calm down. As a male in my household, I wasn’t allowed to cry…the whole men don’t cry was a real thing in my household. Crying just brought more punishment. 

We weren’t taught that emotions are useful and beneficial to us and by expressing them we can learn more about our authentic selves. 

emotional intelligence teaches us how to recognise and respond to our emotions both toward ourselves and others. 

Take anger for instance. If you’re seeing the red mist of anger and you’re about to explode someone telling you to calm down isn’t much use. 

A better way to go about it is to ask yourself is there another way to interpret the situation that’s triggering you? This can also buy you some distance from the situation and make it less personal. 

To give yourself some more options you can ask yourself what would (think of someone you respect) do in this situation? How would they respond?

Doing those two things alone will naturally disperse some of the anger giving you time to decide if anger is the most useful response given the situation. 

Anger often gets a bad rap, but don’t forget anger does have its benefits. Anger:

Energises us
Motivated us to solve problems
Drives us toward our goals
Protects our values and beliefs
Pushes us to reach deeper into ourselves 

To name a few of the benefits. 

You can use the above framework on any emotion. My go-to response to an emotionally charged situation is to ask myself: 

Given the situation, what is the most useful emotion to help me achieve the outcome I want?

Storming the walls

From my art journal today…I’ve been reflecting on Roberto Assagiol’s Egg of Being model lately. The various levels of consciousness and unconsciousness fascinate me, especially the hidden power contained in the unconscious. I would love to storm over the walls that separate my conscious mind from my unconscious mind. Art journaling offers an indirect peep into the unconscious by acting as a mirror and offering an insight into the unconscious mind by way of the language of metaphor which is the primary tongue of the consciousness realm.

Because the language of the unconscious mind is universal, you can peer into my picture and receive a message meant for you too. Take a note of any patterns, symbols, or images, that trigger a response in you, be it a feeling, a thought, or an emotion. Explore your reactions and reflections through self-inquiry.

Try it.

The existential landscape and the paradox of significance and emptiness

“The paradox of feeling that matters of extreme importance are occurring, whilst at the same time nothing seems to matter, is a part of the atmosphere of existential themes. Within the desert, we can search and search for something we sense is there, only to uncover more sand.”

Stacey Millichamp

Crossing the border into existential territory on this one. Join me.

Points of Reference

Transpersonal Dynamics: the relational field, depth work, and the unconscious – Stacey Millichamp
The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek – Cheri Huber

What I’m most grateful for about being a human

Ufton Nature Reserve

I spent some time out in nature reflecting on the gift of being human. It’s easy to take our existence for granted. We wake up in the morning, do some stuff, then call it a day. We wake up the next day and do it all again without pausing to marvel at how truly amazing it is to be alive. In this episode, I share with you what I am most grateful for about being human.

And here’s the VIDEO version.