'We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience'. Teilhard de Chardin Forgetting our true nature as a spiritual being and feeling separate from the rest of life is the grand human predicament – and at the heart of so much unnecessary fear, psychological suffering and conflict. Quite simply most of us are experiencing a fraction of our potential and a tiny proportion of the well-being, aliveness and love that is available to us in any moment because we are asleep to the presence of our true nature. The primary purpose of life according to the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle is to wake up from this unconsciousness and to allow presence to flow into our doings. This spiritualisation of our life brings not only deep personal fulfilment, but it is also an integral part the solution to the numerous crises we are facing collectively
Can you think of a time in your life when you were completely immersed in the moment? Have you been so engrossed in something that you completely lost track of time? If so, you were in, what the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (chick-sent-me-hi) calls ‘flow’, an intense and effortless state of complete absorption with the present moment.
Rest means not doing. It’s about having unstructured ‘empty’ periods in your life (ideally on a daily basis). This is, of course, an unfamiliar experience for most of us, since we tend to rush from one thing to another, constantly filling our time with ‘stuff’. But rest is designed to keep a check on that, to prevent us from getting too absorbed in doings and to help us cross over from ‘doing’ to ‘being’.
How many portions of fruits and vegetables do you eat on average every single day? Be totally honest with yourself, is it 2? 5? 8? 1? Or even none? If you are not sure, why not record your consumption of fruits and vegetables for the next 7 days, and then work out your average consumption.
I have an invitation for you. Are you willing to use a simple self-help tool a minimum of five times a day for the next three days so that you can discover its extraordinary effects? This tool will not only help you de-stress and switch to a relaxed, balanced and creative state of mind in under a minute, but also help you access and experience your true nature as spacious awareness. When used consistently it has the potential to deepen and accelerate your journey towards emotional balance, true happiness and spiritual awakening. But please whatever you do, don’t believe me, find out the truth for yourself!
Serenity, generosity, love and stillness are pretty good – but the one that wins hands down for me is humility. Humility is not meekness or timidity; it’s a quality of character that arises when we are being authentic, when we are being and living in the world with the quiet confidence of a person who is at peace with and accepting of who we are. Some of the most enlightened people I know are humble.
Are you overly self-conscious or shy? Are you concerned with what others think about you to the extent that it stops you from being yourself? Do you struggle to be at peace with who you are? Most people in my experience answer yes to at least one of those questions. Lack of natural confidence really is quite common. What’s more many so-called confident people, aren’t naturally confident, they are just good at projecting what I call ‘artificial’ confidence. They aren’t the same.
Imagine a world where everyone embraces the following golden rules 1. We use empathy — moral imagination — to put ourselves in others’ shoes. 2. We act towards others as we would want them to act toward us. 3. We refuse, under any circumstance, to carry out actions which would cause others harm. How would this impact our life and the world? Its a fascinating question and one we might well discover the answer to. On February 28th 2008 the religious scholar Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish: to unite the world around compassion. One year later and with the input of over 150,000 different people here is what has emerged to make this come true.
Is honesty always a good thing? What about relationships - is it really advisable to always be honest with our partners? There are a fair few people who would answer yes to both of these questions.
If I had to single out just one factor that represented the most common block to personal growth and authentic spiritual development it would be this – emotion avoidance. Put simply fear of feeling our emotions is pandemic amongst human beings and for many people at the heart broken relationships, low levels of intimacy, unhappiness, unexplained bodily symptoms and devitalisation. Most people don’t fully appreciate the extent to which emotional avoidance is directing their life.
One simple, practical and cost-free way to process your emotions, gain insight and clear your head is through journaling. It is particularly good for liberating yourself from self-limiting beliefs and thoughts, healing emotional pain, finding new meaning and purpose and supporting spiritual growth. It is a healing tool that has transformed and enriched my own life, as well as the lives of many of my patients.
There is a growing recognition that humanities increasing isolation from the natural world is a significant and important contributor to the prevalence and intensity of distress, emptiness and the feeling of ‘not belonging’ that is being witnessed throughout the developed and now developing world. Spending time in doors, living in built up areas and failing to be present with nature when in nature, have lead to what I call nature malnourishment. Contact and connection with nature provides our body, mind and soul with a deep level of nourishment, which in turn promotes vitality, emotional health and in deed spiritual growth and maturation.
Imagine that there is an aspect of you that you are unaware of, yet sabotages your success, limits your potential and contributes to a considerable amount of the frustration, suffering, negative thinking, low energy, distressing emotions, relation problems and even health problems that you have experienced? Would you want to know more about it? Well, that aspect does exist and it’s called the shadow.
I work a lot with people whose heads tell them that some part of themselves is ugly, not ok, hideous, awful or bad. It’s surprisingly common amongst women and increasingly common amongst men. In addition to the unhappiness, obsessive thinking and low self-esteem this can bring about, self-rejection – rejection of some aspect of ourselves, prevents us from experiencing the undercurrent of well-being and peacefulness that is available to us in any given moment.
Why do you do what you do? What motivates you to be successful, have relationships, go to work, take up hobbies, spend time with friends or go on holiday? What is it that you are really looking for at the deepest level? Take a brief moment to reflect on this. The answer given by at least 90 per cent of the people I ask is happiness. As William James, the father of modern day psychology said, ‘how to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do’.