Love’s Longing: Chapter 1 – Walking Through the Dark Places

It is our deepest hurts which have the power to help and heal us. What else carries an internal fire big enough to force us forwards? What else has the momentum to wake us up? What else has enough pain to make us long for something better? What else will drive us into the waiting arms of that beautiful, invisible life-force which yearns to help us? What else will teach us to feel the love which has no betrayal; the love which seeks only good? Naturally, most of us feel uncomfortable with intense emotion. We do not know how to deal with fear, sadness, and anger and so we repress them.

Repression

Repression is the enemy of healing. Difficult things get repressed in the hope that they will somehow be dealt with, intimidated into nonexistence, and erased from our being. Make no mistake; they are not dealt with, intimidated or erased. They are, in fact, lurking in the dark, gaining momentum.

Although difficult, the healing process is worth every little effort many times over. Our life will improve. Our relationships will thrive, our work will go from strength to strength, and we will have the satisfaction of fulfilling our full potential in life. We will become happy. We can choose to be brave and face those demons lurking in the dark. From the outside, they look way scarier than they really are. When they are squarely faced, they will start to dismantle into the mist of human error which once formed them. That mist will grow less dense and will start to disappear.

Everything that is repressed will take its toll on the body and mind. The energy from repressed memories and the emotions attached to those memories will usually manifest in some type of illness or unpleasant experience. It seeks an escape and pushes to be released. Healing is a permanent release which leaves us better than when we started. The healing process will often happen of its own accord when the conditions are ripe.

Entering a period of change is prime time for healing. We may find that seemingly random and unexplainable emotions start surfacing. We may get angry, afraid or sad for no logical reason. It is not random, unexplainable or illogical. If we follow the emotions, we will find that they are directly related to some past memory or issue which wishes to surface and heal. It may be in the past but the past has formed our present experience of life.

Opening the Door to Our Inner World

Life has cycles. We move into things and we move out of things. Some of the more challenging movements are when relationships end or when we lose someone that we love through death or another way or when something ends that is very important to us like a career. Other events which are much more positive can also be challenging, such as, the formation of a relationship, getting married, buying a house or having a baby. All these types of events in life touch our inner world. They open a door inside us.

When that door gets opened, almost automatically, a certain fear is there waiting. The world that is behind the door is, generally, unknown territory. For some of us, the territory is familiar because we have spent a long time looking at it painfully within ourselves and very precisely within other people. Many, if not most, people have no idea what is behind the door. They are a baby in that territory; crawling around haphazardly, having no concept of the dangers, nor of what to do exactly when they are there. Sometimes, due to life circumstances, the door can be thrown wide open and the person can really find themselves in the dark.

Valleys and Mountains

One day at school, as a child of six or seven, I decided to be most helpful and loving like the saints the teacher had just been telling us about. I told one of my classmates that the reason no one liked her was that she was not very nice to them. To me, it seemed such good and enlightening advice. All she had to do was be nicer and then she would have friends. She, for some reason unfathomable to me, did not seem so impressed with my helpfulness. She said in a dismissive manner, “What are you talking about? Everybody likes me!” They certainly didn’t like her. She then walked off as if there was something wrong with me.

By the time I was a young teenager the desire to find the meaning of life and the answers to human suffering had become much more pressing. Another day, as a thirteen-year-old, I stood in our family kitchen having just overheard a typical family argument and I thought, so clearly that it is still in my memory, that there must be a way for people not to suffer if only I could discover the path to happiness. In that moment, at some level, a life purpose was cemented or, perhaps, it would be more correct to say it surfaced from the predawn of my life.

A decade later, my spiritual teacher, Dr. Thomas Hora, joined me in my journey through that valley of discovery. I was able to explore the terrain and ask questions which helped me make sense of a foreign and somewhat dangerous inner world. It seemed to me I was more begging for answers at the time rather than asking in any polite manner but Dr. Hora was not fazed. I found what I needed to find.

The dark valley became a much clearer and lighter landscape. I learned which way was up the mountain and I could see where the treacherous spots were. We do not have to be afraid of the fear that unavoidably comes up with such adventures. The fear is simply letting us know that something important has arrived for us to look at and work with. It means we will make progress and reap the rewards. It’s a wonderful opportunity. We don’t want to run away from it. We want to embrace it.

Reducing the Potency

Normally, when disturbing emotions come up people will try and talk themselves into a better frame of mind. Sometimes this works but if the pain is strong enough it won’t work. Also, in terms of healing, it doesn’t get us anywhere. If we go a little deeper, let some of the repressed memories come up and then work with them, we will start to make progress. When the memories come up, they will definitely feel unpleasant. However, if we do this in a safe, protected manner, away from other people, when we have enough time to process them, not only will the force of the emotion subside but we will have released much of the energy attached to the memories.

We will find that, to some extent, the need to repress these things has diminished. Sometimes, they completely and genuinely disappear. We can tell if that is the case because they will hold no more potency. We will neither run from the memories or dwell on them, repeating the same scenarios in our mind in the hope that they may tire. There will be an acceptance and peace and we will stop thinking about the issue.

The Wild Beast of Pain

Emotional pain is an unavoidable part of life. There is no more certain reminder that we are not in control of our own life. It leaves us standing stunned and grasping for relief. Strangely, we need not run from it and hide. We can meet the wild beast of pain in its own territory, as inadequately prepared as we may feel. Against our natural instinct, we can choose to go to the pain and into it. Our survival mechanism will tell us that such would be certain emotional death. Surprisingly, it is not.

Along with the demanding for things to not be as they are, we can learn to keep an openness and vulnerability. We don’t have to shut down when pain knocks on our door. Shutting down will not help our problem. It will add to the already accumulated layers of hardened emotion and psychic debris. The flow of life will falter and struggle to travel through us. If we remain soft, we will still hurt but the pain cannot grab onto anything permanently and so it will leave sooner and have less residual after effect.

When things are painful, it helps to not lay the blame. Whatever happened was inevitable at the time. We usually don’t see the whole picture or know the timing of something. Also, we have to take responsibility for our own choices. At every point along the way, at some level, we choose to either be in or out of most situations. We are knowingly there and, if we are no longer there, we are knowingly not there. Whatever was the cause of any breakdown simply becomes the fuel of growth. Things can never be looked at quite the same way. It is that pain which forms us and pushes us across the boundaries of our evolution.

Because of You

There is a deep-seated belief that we get love from other people and if that is not working for us then we will tend to feel that something is wrong with those who should have or should be providing it for us. If we could but see that in the normal egoic mind, there is always a because of you. The trouble is that the you that we are blaming got their pain from another you. Most people are in an, at least, partially sinking emotional ship. Few are squarely on dry land. The you that we are accustomed to blaming is a victim themselves – if not from someone else then from their own thoughts.

Apart from this, a great deal of our because of you is either incorrectly perceived, inaccurately judged, wildly fallacious or simply a product of our own imagination and fear. It’s often because of me, not you. Blaming people who themselves are victims and inaccurately judging situations covers the vast majority of our blaming regime. It would be wise to reassess.

Our most painful pains have the power to destroy us or transform us. If we so choose, we can alter the lyrics of our repeating mental song. We can have a new melody running through our veins. Because of you, I have learned to follow my own path no matter where it leads. I have learned that living in fear never keeps me safe and that trust comes from within me, not from anyone else. I have found a different way and in finding it, I have found myself. In finding myself I have also found you.

Resistance

Who would ever give up what they thought willingly and without resistance? What we think, what we think will make us happy, what we want, and what we choose as crucial to our being are formed over eons of time and we truly believe those thoughts are right and really will work. It is only when we painfully see that they have major problems that we look for another option and drag ourselves from the quagmire of thinking we already know something to the softness of considering another thought pattern and another way of relating to life.

If someone in our life inadvertently or deliberately points out our hidden issues or touches upon them, most people will quickly deteriorate into an angry, afraid, or passively-angry emotional mess. We may insult the perceived attacker, threaten to withdraw our affection or presence, forcefully explain why they are so mistaken (usually with controlled politeness) or turn into a pillar of ice. In the heat of surfacing repressions which have been unleashed, rationality and open-mindedness are nowhere to be seen. Human nature is very predictable in this way, although quite ridiculous. Eventually, it is outgrown and is no longer needed as a defence mechanism.

The Grey Mist

At certain times in our life, we will be faced with situations which we seem to get stuck in. If we are conscious enough, we will certainly work on the issues involved but we may still seem to be getting nowhere. All the while, the grey mist has its eyes on us, watching to see how long it can stay, and if it can find its way deeper into our veins. We lose our joie du vie. We struggle to settle into our normal activities. We have to force ourselves to enter our daily life. Depending on our body type, we can either lose or gain weight. Our current favourite illnesses, injuries, and body weaknesses will have a tendency to start playing up as if the grey mist knows exactly where to go for the greatest effect. We will lose our creative impetus and our entire being seems to have a stubborn emptiness.

Painful problems have a tendency to stack onto related material already stowed in our consciousness. If a current situation is particularly painful for us, it will probably be attached to painful events in our past. This exacerbates the pain and works against healing and resolution. No one enjoys digging into the traumas of their past and if it is not necessary then it is usually best to leave well enough alone. However, if life decides that it is going to bring to our attention certain material from the past then if we want to get better, we have no choice but to go there. It’s not hard to work out the related, offending matter. We only need to look at the memories that our thoughts and fears gravitate towards.

Emotional Release

From a young age, I suffered from migraine headaches. Any poor migraine-afflicted person knows that these are not just normal headaches when you can take a few painkillers and carry on with life. They wipe you out. And back then, there was no medication which helped so it was just you and the pain; an intense and unwelcome visitor. Some years before I understood the way that the psyche heals, I noticed that something strange seemed to happen when I would be sick. It was as if a floodgate of emotion opened under the umbrella of severe pain. Always painful emotion – hurt, anger, sadness, grief, fear. After some hours, both the illness and the emotion seemed to settle at the same time and I would not only feel physically better but the whole process seemed emotionally cleansing. I would feel lighter and often happier.

What I was yet to learn was that physical pain tends to bring up our unprocessed emotional pain. Under the guise of pain, we often feel excused in allowing emotional turmoil to surface. Normally, even as a young child, I did not wish to burden others with my problems. I almost never expressed anger or negativity. It all went inside me, forming a nice, little headache. Happily, those days have long since passed and one of the first things I learned on the spiritual path was how to avoid illness by dealing with emotions before they turned into physical problems.

The Invisible Ones

Sometimes, things heal quickly or even instantly, as soon as the real problem is recognized. Sometimes, it takes longer. It is always worth it. Walking the dark place of healing takes courage. We have to go alone. Although those who love us can watch from a distance, they cannot enter territory which only permits the owner. Once inside, however, we find that we are not as alone as we thought. Those who have been before us leave their pointers. Also, there are many invisible ones who watch us. When I am struggling, I sometimes put a photo of my father, who died many years ago, next to my bed and it connects me not only with his protective fatherly love but with the diverse spiritual world. Further, those individuals who share Earth at the same time as us and are connected to us will have a tendency to move towards us at the right time so that destiny continues to unfold in its own exciting, surprising, and beautiful way.

Premature Fixing

We cannot jump from seeing a thought, usually very partially, and then immediately pushing it into the fixed basket. It will almost certainly still be, at least partially, repressed which means it is gaining strength in the dark. We have to work with it, watch it, see it in ourselves and see it in other people. We have to understand where it came from, what it means, and why it made an appearance in our life. Without this sort of delving into our thoughts, they are predominantly still hidden and thus powerful by virtue of secrecy. Often, it is helpful to get assistance from someone who has walked the path and knows what they are talking about or, at least, is further ahead than us. After a while, the whole thing becomes so automatic that we can mostly do it ourselves.

Consciousness Awareness

The human psyche gets in the way of spiritual progress and without understanding it, we will be fighting an invisible enemy. As soon as it becomes more visible to us, its days are numbered. Rather than trying to delete our mental chatter in meditation, it helps to look at it objectively and go into it. The chatter tells us what we are thinking and what our fears and angers are.

In the beginning years of my consciousness-awareness, during my long daily walks, I would start off just naturally thinking about all the things that were currently preoccupying the surface of my mind. It’s easy. You just go with the stream of thought. However, rather than becoming blindly immersed in the thoughts, I would watch them. I didn’t stop them. I let them continue but I would watch and ask myself certain questions. What are my fears at this moment? Am I sad or grieving anything? Am I angry with anyone? Do I want something? What are my thoughts telling me? Then I would have something live to work with.

If I noticed I was angry with someone, I would let the angry thoughts have their way for a while and then I would reason with them and say, “Come on now, you’ve had your way for a while. You know that everyone is doing the best they can. There is no need to get so upset about this. You are safe. The Divine loves you. Trust the flow of life.” We work with our thoughts and we try to align them with a higher perspective. If we do this too early, when many of the thoughts are still repressed or before the emotion of the thing has had a chance to vent, it won’t work.

After a few years of practising this, the process becomes very effective, efficient, and effortless. We get great healing results with minimal effort but we have to earn it by dedicated practice. Every year will bring significant spiritual and personal progress and eventual mastery. Certainly, the human cannot be ignored or ostracized – it will always win. It must be trained by a higher wisdom and a growing spiritual power.

Courage

As a child and teenager, I was not lacking in kindness. Like many others, it was born in my nature and further developed by my circumstances. However, also like many other kind people, I was lacking courage. Fear was a fairly constant companion. I was afraid of other people, what they thought of me, of something bad happening, and generally everything in life. The stress of that fear was carried in me and came out in physical symptoms such as the headaches. My wise aunt would not infrequently tell me, “Donna, you have to learn how to say no.” No was something I couldn’t seem to say. When I became a young woman I realized through my own suffering and mistakes that kindness without courage made me a vulnerable and crippled citizen. Without courage, other people could and would hurt me, dishonour my talents, and take from me anything they wished for themselves. I was fair game and an easy target.

Shame

For many of us, courage is not easily brought to the forefront but we pay the price for lack of it. I was five and it was Lent. The Catholic nuns at school had put a chart on the wall and said that anyone who went to the 6.00 a.m. Mass would get a gold star. Although the concept went over my head, my sister, who was one year older than me and knew much more about what was worth getting, seemed to be rather enthralled with the idea of getting the stars. So each morning she and I would walk, on our own, to the little country church for the event that would earn us the treasured star.

On the way home one day, a big, black dog came bounding out from his yard and started to bark at us and chase us. Now, I must tell you that my sister and I had a great fear of dogs. The boisterous young dog was to us, beyond any reasonable doubt, a deadly, huge monster that would certainly kill and eat us. My sister started screaming hysterically and running around a pole; not a great escape plan. In the heat of the moment, I realised that the monster had his eyes on my sister and, without any thought for her obvious and tragic fate, I took the opportunity to run home without even a backward glance.

On arriving home and finding that I was indeed in one piece, my thoughts did turn to my poor sister. Oh dear, she would be dead by now. You would think that perhaps I might run inside and wake up my parents to tell them of the event in case there was a chance of saving her life. However, another great fear entered my mind. I had an even greater fear than dogs. It was getting into trouble. I remembered that my parents had told us not to wake them in the morning. I had no choice. I could not wake them and get into trouble. My sister would have to remain without rescue if indeed she was even still alive. Somehow, I put it out of my five-year-old mind and tried to play a game. To my surprise, the doorbell rang ten minutes later. There was my sister alive; shaken but alive. The young training priest explained that he had heard her screams for help and seen her running around the pole.

As you can tell, this relatively harmless childhood incidence is tattooed in my consciousness as a great shame. I left my sister to be eaten by the monster and then I did not even get her any help because I did not want to face the imagined wrath of my parents. Cowardice and more cowardice. How often we run from that which we are afraid of, even when it means hurting or abandoning people we care about. My five-year-old lesson remained in the back of my mind as an early but poignant reminder. If we run from that which we are afraid of and abandon those whom we should try to protect, we will have a worse fate than being eaten by the monster or scolded by authority figures. We will have to carry the shame and guilt of our betrayal. Better to die with the monster than to live with the shame. Anyway, once we face the monster we find, not infrequently, that the monster is more bark and less bite than we imagined.

Protecting Our Path

My courage in facing the world had not really made much progress by the time I was in my late teens. I was a naive teenager and young adult – good and kind but naive and lacking in worldly robustness. I was usually thinking of some invisible thing of utmost importance to me but which other people neither saw nor cared about.

My first job was at a local supermarket packing shelves. I was nineteen and was also studying at university. I was very excited to get a real job and felt I was becoming more grown up and sophisticated. Never could a job have been less suited to a person. Although I started out with the best of intentions, I found packing shelves heavy, boring, and soul destroying. I also found the atmosphere of the supermarket stifling and distressing. Unfortunately and unintentionally, from about my third shift, every time I went to work I got ill within an hour or so. I would develop such a debilitating headache that I would have to ask to go home. It was embarrassing. After this happened three times in a row, the boss must have felt that I was an inadequate employee and he never gave me any more shifts. It was an utter failure. What a relief. I didn’t have to go anymore.

Shelf packing and supermarkets were not for me. I needed to find a way of being in life that would not destroy me and would also allow me to bring my own particular presence to the world. No one can tell us how to do that. We have to find it ourselves. We are the only ones who can hear the tiny voice inside us which beckons, Come this way.

Anyone who has more than one child can tell you that when raised exactly the same way, children turn out very differently. I always wanted my children to have a humanitarian career like me. My first son announced at twelve that he would go into finance which is exactly what he did go into. He recalls me saying in serious concern at the time, “Are you sure you want to go into that career?” He was sure. My daughter decided, also at a young age, that she would work in hair and fashion which she did for a number of years. Couldn’t someone be humanitarian? I gave up and gave no further thought to what I wished my children to do, knowing that they only had to find the inner, whispering voice to know which way to go. That voice is only accessible to the one who houses it.

Our Destiny

Families are a struggling ground for life and evolution. Decisions are made from the platform of what seems most important to any given individual at that time. We are born where we are meant to be and we walk towards that which we are meant to grow into. We have an instinctive tendency to relentlessly move in the direction of our own destiny whether it is like that of the people around us or not. We will keep walking in that direction because nothing else will satisfy us. Every time we do something to rightly fulfil our destiny, we will feel alive, engaged, and at peace. This is how we find our place in the world. We are no one else but ourselves, and that is all we need to be in order to be happy. We need to be our honest, but our best honest, self. Our true self; the self our soul recognizes as itself even without a name or a family identity.

First, we must find our path in life but then, equally importantly, we must learn to protect it. Everywhere we look, at every point, we will find others who will work against our progression. We cannot rely on other people to protect and promote our abilities and purpose. Even loved ones may not be able to see what we have inside us. They may be uncomfortable about it. They may become nervous that some ability will take us from them. They may be unconsciously jealous of some ability that they would love to have but can’t quite master at the moment. All of this can lead to even friends and family unconsciously, but nevertheless deliberately, working against the unfoldment of certain forward moving things in our life.

When we understand this, we take responsibility for our own life and we do not allow other people to harm us or our path. Everyone has to deal with this because, not too far under the surface, most everyone struggles with insecurity, comparative thinking, ambition, and fear. Being human will guarantee that. We are here to recognize and outgrow these inbuilt aspects of the human nature. As students of life, we try to see it in ourselves and others and we are thereby protected from it. We forgive it as inevitable but, at the same time, we sidestep it. Sometimes, we remove the source of jealousy from our life, depending on the caustic nature or otherwise of the person.

Success and Failure

Jealousy is a strong element of the human psyche. After all, to the ego, if someone has something or is something better than us then it would be understandable for the ego to resent it and secretly try to undermine it. It is only with growing love and confidence in our own capacity to make a happy life that we tend to lose the inclination for jealousy. All of this is hidden in most people and if you tell them that they are jealous, they will become very adamant that they would never do such a thing. We forgive it in ourselves and forgive it in others but we, also, protect ourselves from it as best as possible.

Insecure and unfulfilled people cannot help but be jealous. Only inner security and individual fulfilment as a person will reduce jealousy until one day it disappears. It will be replaced by a calm confidence, a steady happiness, a strong resilience, and an interesting, beautiful life. If we keep our eyes on our own path in life, we will lose the egotistical pride that frequently accompanies success and also which makes us vulnerable to a fall. When things go well, we will be grateful. When they do not, we will be patient. We will accept success with ease and perspective, and failure with tolerance.

Our Brother’s Keeper

When my son was five years old, I needed to go next door to talk to the neighbour. As he was playing, he didn’t want to come. I said, “Okay. I’ll be back in five minutes. Do not answer the phone. Do not open the front door.” Unknown to me, as soon as I left, a delivery man came to the door and rang the bell. On hearing it, my son remembered the instruction not to open the door. He must have taken in some vague sense of danger and with all the innocence and confidence of a five-year-old boy, he took matters into his own hands. He quickly outfitted himself with all his favourite hero gear and grandly opened the door with plastic swords and guns ready and decked out in play army attire. Clearly, he thought he had things under control and had deemed house and family safe from would-be intruders. He was not the frightened five-year-old child that I was. When I returned after a few minutes, I was alarmed to see a man at my front door and the door wide open. The delivery man was patiently waiting for the mother to appear. My son meantime, confident that all was secure, went back to the business of playing. Job done. Innocent courage and a stab at independence for a five-year-old. Five-year-old boys grow into brave young men.

Amando is tough. He is a soldier; big and heavily tattooed. He says, “I didn’t really believe in God until after Afghanistan. I lost two of my good mates.” The same could be said of innumerable Afghan soldiers and many others; our young men from all over the world. One of Amando’s tattoos says, My brother’s keeper. May our brave young men, all over the world, in every country, from every tradition, from every religion and every culture, care about their fellow human beings and pray to a Divinity which loves every one of us. We are our brother’s keeper.

Making Mistakes

If we find it difficult to admit to mistakes, it is often because we have a harsh inner critic. Admitting to any mistake will inevitably mean heavy recrimination. Sigmund Freud called the inner critic, the superego. It monitors the behaviour of the individual. For numerous reasons, many people end up with very brutal and unforgiving superegos. And so, what choice does such a person have but to avoid admitting mistakes in order to avoid harsh treatment? Many of these same people will project those mistakes onto innocent others in their lives. I am sure it has happened to you that the very thing someone else is and you are not, is suddenly being thrust upon you as your own character trait. And more, there is no reasoning with the person who seems incapable of looking at themselves rationally.

Naturally then, the first step to being able to admit to mistakes is to soften the superego with thoughts such as: Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. This is how I learn. God forgives me. Those who love me forgive me. Those who don’t forgive me are not worth worrying about. I make mistakes because there is something I don’t understand. I am here to learn. I’m a work-in-progress. I am improving all the time.

It’s humility. We are loved. We can forgive ourselves and humbly try to improve every day with a little kindness, gratitude, and humour. We, as humans, are so very complex. Rare is one who is completely bad or completely good. We are a mixture. And at different times, we do better than at other times. There is no escaping every wrong deed and even every wrong thought. Life and karma take care of that. All must be correctly and honestly accounted for. Yet, somehow, in the midst of it all, we must not demonize people. The good that is there, we must see because it is that good which will carry the soul onward. Just as the bad must be repaid to God, so the good will also stand.

Nonresistance

Love and goodwill help to soothe the pain of human hurt and ease the complexities of ongoing existence. They help us to move forward in life, accepting the altered routes and enthusiastically embracing new terrains. We learn to accept change graciously. Who did what to who is a trifling matter compared with preserving a stable and peaceful mind. In this way, all change will be to our benefit and will be an advancement in our capacity to fulfil our potential. Life will reward us with love, respect, and success. There is never a day when the world is not asking us for our caring, courageous love. If we share that love freely and bravely, we will always have love returned to us. The world becomes our home and its inhabitants become our family.

Certainly, it is good for the personal self to have clear goals and a designated path to those goals. However, we work against fulfilling ourselves and our goals by having tunnel vision and insisting on the way we, at least at the moment, want. Numerous ways are possible, many of which we will be unaware of until they materialize.

Life can evolve in a most positive but unexpected manner if we do not resist it and kill its tender beauty with our fears. We all have inner abilities to fulfil, a path to patiently discover, people to connect with who will become pivotal in our life, and a love of certain things which make us feel glad to be alive. Every little step in that direction, every little decision to allow that movement to happen, every brave letting go, and every open embracing will bring us what we need.

My dearest Friend who never departs even when all else do, today I will do my best to know that you are walking with me and those I love. So many things in life I do not know, but this I know. You are there. Just for this moment, I let go of my worries. I release my demands. Whatever life brings to me, I will look for you in it because every time I find you, the warmth of happiness returns. Every time I lose sight of you, the world has little comfort. I prefer the warmth and so that is where I will look.

Letting Go

My home of more than twenty years, where my three children had been loved and raised, was about to be demolished. The developer kindly said that if there were any remaining plants I wished to take, to do so. I had already taken what I could when the house was sold but, of course, I had to leave the garden in the lovely state that we had enjoyed for so long. Any gardener knows that gardens take many years to make. One cannot just plant stuff and presto, there is a garden. No; gardens have energy. Like houses, they become part of the energy field of the family living with them and, in particular, the person who has cared for them the most.

That is why I love old houses. When I walk into new homes, I often feel a sterile energy field. However, an older loved home has a very different feel. It feels human. It has life. The normal ups and downs, joys and sorrows of life all mingle together to create an energy field that is in harmony with the nature of humans.

The garden was in a desolate state. Everything that was still alive was struggling. I walked around it slowly, not letting myself be horrified by the death or demise of all my hundreds of cherished friends. It is life, after all. Everything has a cycle. If some things don’t die, the new cannot grow. As I moved around the garden, I could almost hear the plants calling, “Pick me, pick me.”

I did my best and took what I could. I mostly picked the sentimental plants; the gardenia my niece gave me with as much love as a daughter, the rose my son and daughter bought me which was the first present they had ever shopped for themselves and spent their own money on, another rose which I bought the day my son went for his first job interview with a company he had dearly hoped to work for (the rose was called Celebration – and he got the job), and others.

After several hot hours, the second-chance plants were lined up and ready to go. They were taken to their new home and seemed to breathe out as they settled into a recovery time. Gardens are for healing. They are sacred and intimate. They are a private space. They embody peace.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

If we don’t make much progress in life then there will be little need for change. To the extent that we grow, our life circumstances will also tend to change. Although there will be some people and elements of our life that will remain constant, change is a frequent visitor for the person destined for growth. One becomes accustomed to letting go and graciously accepting that which we have now grown into. In this way, life is always an adventure and will go from strength to strength. If we cling to the old, we cannot move forward. This applies to people and groups outgrown, relationships that no longer serve a beneficial purpose, friendships which have evolved to be more appropriate to a higher sense of ourselves, work which changes form, and where we wish to live.

Choose only that which is in your highest interest and the genuine highest interest of those around you. Avoid, or better still, transcend the myriad of duplicitous human interactions. If we are a person destined for something better, we must free ourselves from that which pulls us backwards and seek only that which is sincerely and honestly of worth.

When the new student of Jesus wanted to bury his father before following Jesus, it was not out of meanness or callousness that Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury the dead.” He was telling his new student that he must release outgrown attachments which would not serve his future growth. The rewards of the spiritual path are great. However, in order to reap those rewards, we must first have the intelligence and courage to commit to the uncommon path of the more advanced thinker and seeker. We do not have the luxury of immersing ourselves in all the normal, troubled, and problematic interactions and thought patterns of average people.

The facade which most people propose as love is the faint shadow of true spiritual love. To find true love, we must not look for it where it does not reside. We live in the world but not of it. Our consciousness cannot have an indecisive foot in both worlds. It must know where it really resides. Make no mistake; one of those worlds will carry our home address and whichever it is will determine our life.

It is best to choose the higher world and visit the other one with as much dignity, compassion, and love as we are capable of. If we wish to be a spiritual light or even to have an above average level of success, happiness, and health in life then we must see ourselves as separate from the belief systems of the common, misguided person. We must align with something better, higher, stronger, and more beautiful. Only then can we really be a help because only then do we have that which we claim to have.

Healing of Abuse

One of the damaging things that can happen in life is sexual abuse. That is particularly so when it comes from a parent or a religious figure who is meant to carry the purity of love and guardianship. It leaves the body of the victim with a distrust and disgust of one of nature’s most brilliant inventions – the human body capable of and programmed for sexual bonding. It leaves the heart of the victim with a black hole of emotional wariness and fear. Oh yes, it’s damaging alright. Obviously, the innocent need to be protected and the guilty called to justice and contained. This helps, but does it heal? Does it heal the body? Does it heal the heart? No.

It is not simply a matter of victim and perpetrator. At some level, everyone is a victim. Some are unfortunately victims of others’ sickness. Others are victims of their own upbringing or the mind they brought with them into the world. Who but a very damaged person would think for a moment of betraying and hurting an innocent child, barely able to make sense of a world which we, as adults, have a hard time deciphering? The abuser is sick and makes more sickness in the world by spreading damage. No one would choose to abuse if their soul was not diseased, disarrayed, and dark with loathing. Everyone needs help. Having said that, many are so very sick that containment is the only option for this lifetime.

Once the damage is done, how do we ever leave it behind? Of course, those affected by abuse must find a voice and the courage which was impossible to have as a child. They have to go through every constructive and positive step which helps move them forward. But in the end, there they are, still left with a mental mist of dark, semi-known content which they persistently stuff into appropriate holes so that they can function in a hopefully normal manner. All the while, they are praying that the dark monster in the cupboard will not decide to bash the door down at some ill-timed, detrimental, maybe embarrassing, sometimes crazy moment. There has to be something better.

Body

If we see ourselves as our body then recovery is difficult and probably can only ever be partial. Although we have a body, we are not our body. The body is the shadow of who we really are. Here today, gone tomorrow. It is a passing cloud, forming images and then moving out of sight. If we wish to, we can develop an awareness of the life force which surrounds us, the higher energy which guides us, and the Divinity which cares for us.  It neither harms nor controls. It loves. It breathes beauty. It throws goodness into the wind. It spreads light wherever it travels. We can learn to see ourselves as one part of a thriving, lively, purposeful, and good universe.

As we heal, we become more aligned with our true self. All the strong and vibrant qualities inside us have a bigger voice. They are not constantly fighting with the weakening, detracting voice which always warns, “Don’t do that, you’ll lose. It’s not worth it, you can’t win. It’s too much effort. It’s not your business, don’t get involved. You will fail anyway.” The fighting within oneself gradually gets less. The physical world is no longer felt as heavy. We have our quiet but definite exit point.

We have our helping hand to lift us out. The sun starts to radiate warmth and light into the blackened landscape. Everything looks different. The same; but lighter, smelling sweeter. We start to feel the touch of love and the memory of loveless, intrusive touch recedes. The touch of love is startling. It wakes us up. We want more. The world looks not only safe but inviting and interesting. We become softer, more trusting. We worry less and find ourselves laughing more. It is good to be alive.

Predator

About ten years ago, I was sitting at a dancing function next to a male friend I knew through dancing. A woman that he knew approached him in a friendly and confident manner, spoke to him for a little while and then asked him to dance with her. He fumbled out some excuse of being with me, even though that was not true. The instant she left, he turned to me and said one word, “predator”. The word, itself, was bad enough but the way he said it was more telling – disgust and a serious need to protect oneself. This man was an intensely private person. He had his own issues but he was intelligent, self-contained, and had no problem whatsoever saying no. Even though he often struggled to be kind, he highly valued kindness and sincerity in other people and could recognise it instantly. The predatory woman was not even getting past gate one.

Predators hunt like lions. However, lions are simply following their inherent and unalterable nature. People have a choice. People-hunters often have many good qualities that disguise their true intentions. They can be confident, proactive, and intelligent. They know what they want and they work to get it. They are often skilled at covering up their true motives, most of all, to themselves.

Like everything in life, it is all about intention. If the intention is goodwill, kindness, appreciation, and love then whatever that person does will reflect these beautiful qualities. Things will have a tendency to work well and other people will instinctively trust them. If the intention is to get something desired for oneself then everything will have an underlying motive of achieving that goal.

A predator must first be recognised and then we can protect ourselves. If we do not, they will definitely hurt us. Or, if they do not directly hurt us, over the years we will find that their energy field has a negative effect on our life and things do not go well because that person is energetically working against our best interest. We can tell that this is the case because as soon as we are free of certain people, we have a tremendous sense of relief and things start to fall into a much better place.

Friend

No one would choose to be a predator if they were happy. It is the modus operandi of a person seeking some way of bringing relief and comfort into their own unhappy and shallow life. Such people feel an emptiness in their soul and are trying to alleviate it. They feel that no one loves them, much less desires them. However, they are trying to rectify this in the wrong way. While a predator hunts, a true friend loves.

Far from the domain of the predator is the person who has the quality of love. It is from a different planet. It has light, transparency, goodness, and patience. The person who has love inside them also has a quiet and powerful confidence. Unselfish, protective love for others gives one a highly resilient and determined nature. Without authentic confidence, we are always selfishly seeking for our own needs to be met. With the confidence that comes from knowing that we are loved and valuable, there is a natural flow of good intention out into the world. That love is received well by others and love is returned in exchange, although no love is demanded, seduced, coerced or even asked for. That’s the thing with love – it’s genuinely free.

Energy

One afternoon, I was walking to the cafe feeling somewhat glum. As I walked through the door, a woman caught my attention and I sat near her and her friend. She was probably in her late forties but easily looked ten years younger. She wore a simple grey T-shirt and comfortable jeans which, somehow, looked fantastic without trying. She had lovely posture and effortlessly sat upright in her chair. Her short, brown hair was cut in an unfussy, sassy hairstyle. She was slim but healthy and strong, almost, androgynous. She had no makeup on but her face was beautiful. It was not beautiful like a model. It was beautiful because everything was well proportioned and it radiated a sweet, natural innocence and, simultaneously, a calm, mature groundedness.

I kept looking at her. Fortunately, they were so engrossed in their conversation that they took no notice of me. The woman and her friend were both shiatsu therapists. She listened attentively to everything her friend was saying. Mostly, she was just warmly and calmly paying attention to her friend. She was encouraging when she felt it was helpful. However, she was definitely no pushover. Whenever she felt her friend needed to understand something better, she would say it quietly and clearly, as one with authority. The whole conversation was relaxed, yet, so interesting. It seemed like nothing much was happening but, actually, a lot was happening. I no longer had the heavy feeling and my normal energy was returning. The woman’s energy had helped to realign my own.

We may not even realise where our energy is going but, if we have good energy to spare, it travels outwards to our loved ones, friends, colleagues, and even strangers. The stronger the energy field of the individual, the greater their magnetic field. It will engender respect. The mental climate we create through our thoughts not only has a great impact on our own happiness, safety, and well-being but it also has a significant impact on those around us. If we would like that impact to be positive, we must keep checking our weather reading and readjusting its outlook.

You Are Safe

Like many people, I will sometimes wake up in the night having had a bad dream. I learned early on in my spiritual studies not to go back to sleep straight away. Otherwise, we are simply going straight back into the nightmare with no more protection or understanding than when it caught us unawares the first time. I make myself get up, try to understand the dream, and then put myself in a better mental space. Having done that, the bad dream does not return, at least, not for that night. Bad dreams have a message for us. They are instructive about our fears, anger, and desires. Sometimes, they are a warning.

Once we understand the message of a dream, we still have to reassure ourselves that everything is alright so that we can go back to sleep. For many years, I would listen to an old recording by a relatively unknown person, Joe Handley, who in his later years did a cassette recording in his attic of a book he loved. One particular chapter had affirmations about God’s love. It was simple but reassuring. Something about the way Handley read it was so true, humble, and uplifting that I never failed to find it settling and healing. The recording I had was not a good quality and it got worse with much use over time until it didn’t even work anymore. It did its job.

How to Deal with Nightmares

Although unpleasant, nightmares and restless sleep can help us if we know how to use them to our advantage. Next time you have a nightmare or bad dream, follow these steps:

  1. Don’t immediately go back to sleep. There is a high chance that you will go straight back into the nightmare even if you can’t remember doing that. Regardless, you will be abandoning yourself to an anxious, fragmented state with little sleep value. You will most likely wake up tired and out of sorts. You may even wake up sick as anxiety affects the body negatively. Certainly, you will have learned nothing from the night’s adventures and made no progress in the general state of your consciousness. Instead of going back to sleep, get up, make some tea, get warm, and settle into another room telling yourself that this time is much more valuable to you than fearful sleep which can only tire you.
  2. Once settled, try to understand the fears that have come up in the dream, what they mean, and where they have come from. Try to recognise who or what is being represented in the dream. In this way, you can learn much about yourself and other people.
  3. You may be given a warning which could save you or others from harm’s way. I remember once dreaming of a close friend and her face turned into an ugly and vindictive skeleton. The dream was very clear but I instantly dismissed it as one of those “crazy” thoughts. For some reason still unknown to me, that friend’s thoughts had become unreadable to me and my trust in her was high. I knew she was a little jealous of me but I put it down to “normal” competitiveness and felt, with time, she would learn to let it go in favour of a loving friendship. It was only a matter of a month or so and I found out about her malicious plan to hurt me which not only destroyed the friendship but, unfortunately, did much damage to her mental health.
  4. You may be given the direction you need to make a decision. Our subconscious mind knows many things and has much instinctive wisdom. It serves us to learn how to communicate with it.
  5. You may be given creative ideas from sources outside of yourself. I frequently get ideas, words, and phrases for writing when I am asleep. It is usually just before I wake and so I quickly get up and write them down before they disappear back into the ether. Sometimes, I wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. I get up and sit in my chair and think about whatever seems to have woken me up.  The time may be used for my own healing and spiritual realignment or for creative purposes. I could get a specific idea or a whole poem could materialise. The stillness of the night makes us receptive to all sorts of ideas.
  6. At the least, by engaging in this process, you will learn more about the thoughts that make their home in you. You can start to eliminate the ones you don’t want and feed the ones that are beneficial to you. Half to one hour of this process is generally enough. Otherwise, you can get so mesmerised by the bad thoughts that you will have difficulty getting away from them.
  7. Now it is time to move onto the second stage. Have your special inspirational books/music close at hand. Read and listen to them openheartedly, trusting that the Divine wants you to feel better. A few lines of something which has genuine meaning to you has infinitely more power than a whole book which only speaks to your intellect. Gravitate towards that which touches your heart and soul even if you don’t understand why it has that impact on you. Remember that there are many who go before you and have walked exactly the same path and are more than willing to help you in every possible way that they can. Also, ask the angels to help you even if you don’t believe in them. Simply by asking something higher than yourself, the invisible forces will then have permission to help you.
  8. If you have nothing else then say this prayer slowly and sincerely.
    I am always safe.
    I am protected by God who cares for me every second of the day and night.
    God’s power is infinitely greater than any power to the contrary.
    The angels are around me and are keeping me safe.
    There are many loved ones in Heaven, even those I do not know, who watch over me and pray for me.
    I have a purpose on Earth and God will help me to fulfil it.
    I release my fears. I am at peace.
    The angels are whispering good things into the ears of my friends and enemies.
    Everything will work out for me, those I love, and even those I find difficult to love.
  9. After a while, you will start to feel better. You will know when it is time to go back to bed. Even if you don’t get much sleep afterwards, you will still be in a better mental space. A quietened, meditative mind repairs the body much more effectively than sleep. If you keep returning to this process, over a few years you will be surprised by the great impact it has on your mental and spiritual well-being.

The Universal Language of Happiness

One morning, I was in my front garden, digging around and trying to bring life and order back to the lovely, old garden of the small, inner-city 1930’s cottage I had recently moved into. An elderly Greek lady, who I recognized from several houses away, shuffled across the road in my direction. With kind, shining eyes she started to speak. Her accent was thick but I could get the gist of what she was saying, particularly because every second word was either God or happy. She, by the way, was the embodiment of happiness.

She greeted me like an old friend and said how happy she was that I had moved into the house and was fixing up the garden. She said she had lived in her home for fifty years. I don’t know that I even said one word. She was too busy overflowing with the joy of life, telling me many things of which I understood little except, “I happy, you happy, God is happy. Not other person make us happy. Not big house make us happy. God make us very happy.”

She was speaking the universal language of loving kindness. That sort of communication is nonverbal and it is expressed and received through the eyes. The eyes convey our love or betray our intentions many times over in every interaction. There was one, fleeting sad moment when she said something about the T.V. and bad people killing but then her eyes lit up again and she was back to her shining happiness. She kissed me twice and wandered back to her own home of happiness.

Grand

At a certain point in our evolution, we become masters of our own life. The next stage of our evolution is to use that ability for unselfish purposes. There is not much food in that for the ego. It is an unexciting idea that most people are not very interested in because it’s moving into the realm of genuine love and unconditional service. While the ego is not interested in that, the spirit is highly interested. We are then moving into a whole different level of consciousness; a different arena.

Although the ego says, “Boring. Nothing here for me,” this is the place where our soul evolves. It’s the place where we become much more powerful as a spiritual being. We try to continuously draw our thought back to, “Is this loving? Is this of service? Am I being here for God? Am I being here for the divine presence?” There is less of us as an ego. There is more of the spiritual presence. Who is interested in that? Unless you’re a genuine spiritual student and unless you realise that it is the only way to be truly happy in life then there will be little interest in this practice.

Once we realise how flawed normal life is then we start to be willing to give it a try. We learn that it is a very powerful thing to do. It makes us happy and we get so much more ability to create many things in our life. However, we don’t let the ego jump in and say, “Oh, I wanted that and that.” We are a worthy recipient of good things because we are not going to run away with all the goods. God knows that we are evolved enough to not turn everything into an ego trip.

The ego is always looking for support because, essentially, it is very afraid and is constantly failing to give us the happiness it promises. It doesn’t know what it is doing. It has delusions of grandeur that never cease to disappoint. It is a poor guide and companion compared to the spirit, albeit, a loud one. There is a beautiful grandeur in us. If we were to claim it, we would never again turn to the trifling and pathetic attempts of the ego at making us grandiose.

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