Being Alone

I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.” – Warsan Shire

It’s lonely. It’s just you.

I don’t have massive personal responsibilities such as children, a mortgage, a car on finance etc. I have responsibilities at work and I often use work as an escape. I know who I am at work. I know what I’m doing and I’m good at it (good is such a bland adjective, but using any other word makes me feel as though I’m blowing smoke up my own arse).

Being alone eats away at you. You start to question everything about yourself, and the silence staring back at you mixed with the incessant chatter of your mind is startling in its honesty. Aloneness is a revelation, but not one that’s always welcome. The unsettling element about being alone is that we often tend to focus on our flaws. We think that because we’re alone there must be something wrong with us, that it’s somehow our fault. The reality is that there is nothing wrong with us; our perspective just needs a bit of tweaking.

Aloneness is also humbling. For me it’s a constant – and perhaps not so cheerful – reminder that I’m human and that I’m fallible and will fall into darkness. But it also means I have the power to move back into the light. The paradox is that my darkness helps illuminate my light. Go figure…

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Feeling alone has the ability to cause you to withdraw from the world. After a while it becomes an unconscious choice. I don’t know when aloneness became a choice. It crept up on me, tapping me on the shoulder every now and then to remind me of its presence. I guess I switch between being alone and solitude. One being a choice and the other thrust upon me.

Aloneness usually makes its presence known to me by a lack of human affection and contact. Intimacy is lacking in my life. Previously I chose for it to be that way, and now I don’t know where to go or what to do to build and maintain the type of relationship I crave. I’ve dug myself a hole to avoid the feeling I desire the most. Why do we do this to ourselves? It seems absurd that life makes us over protective of ourselves especially when all we seem to want is love.

I’ve come to the begrudging conclusion that being alone opens me up to vulnerabilities which are showing no sign of alleviating. Is feeling this way an opportunity for me to learn to connect with myself? I’m reaching a point where I wonder just how much can I connect to myself before I actually get something back from it? How do I know I’ve connected? Where are my results?

Aloneness has definitely reared the head of resentment and envy. These are not two emotions I particularly want present in my life, but there they are meandering around me like a fly I can’t swat. It’s as though the fly is waving a big sign saying “Get over me. It doesn’t matter” and my ego is fighting back and having itself an auspicious pity party.

In my original first draft of this post, I found myself blaming others for my aloneness: they don’t include me, they don’t understand me, they don’t think about me (God my ego is so self-absorbed!) I’ve realised now that I can’t expect to be included if I’m constantly making myself unavailable (and using work as a convenient excuse), and of course no-one understands me. I barely understand myself! It’s easy to blame other people for me being alone because then I don’t have to face the fact, and take action on aloneness being my doing. I created it and if I want a different result then I’m the one who has to get my arse into gear and DO something about it.

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Easier said than done; especially when being alone for so long creates a level of anxiety akin to feeling as though you’ve left the house naked every day to a judgmental and severe audience, only to realise you’ve been looking in a mirror the whole time.

There’s often the assumption that people who are alone like it. That’s not always true. I have moments where I really don’t want to interact with anyone and I love that I have the option of being alone, but then I have my moments where all I want is a hug. And not a hug from a friend or from family. It still amazes me that all I want are the simple things and things some people take for granted.

I think being alone is an act of intimacy because you have to be totally alone with yourself. You unconsciously go to that place of yourself that requires no mask and no pretence. We want to know everything there is to know about other people, but we don’t extend that same interest to ourselves. I guess you have to be completely ready to surrender yourself to yourself, and be prepared to experience a level of antipathy toward what you may discover. You also have to be ready to deal with what comes up.

“To be alone for any length of time is to shed an outer skin. The body is inhabited in a different way when we are alone than when we are with others. Alone, we live in our bodies as a question rather than a statement.” – David Whyte

A Call for Equality

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This piece is to ask you all to treat each other with equal respect and kindness.

There are no differences. There are no ‘greater than’s’ or ‘less than’s’. They are perceived figments of an egotistical imagination put there by social conditioning. Watch a group of young children play together. They don’t care about skin colour, disability, wealth, titles, sexual preferences, gender etc. They’re not born racist, they don’t categorise, label or stereotype. We teach them how to do that. And we do that by telling them a person is different because of *insert reason here*. We teach them that one reason men and women are to be treated differently is merely because one has a penis and one has a vagina. Literally because our genitals look different. Really? Really.

 

We’re taught stereotypes that black people are criminals, muslims are terrorists, whites are supreme, disabled people are unable, gays are dirty, the government has our best interests at heart. The list goes on. We’re taught how to segregate and isolate ourselves from each other. We’re taught that differences are a BAD thing when actually they are something that makes us more interesting. Differences allow each of us to blend into the plethora of life and be able to expand because of the difference of another. Differences offer us a new perspective.

 

Growing up I was never really aware of why all these differences mattered. It never bothered me. As long as someone was a good person then I’d talk to them. In my eyes we’re all equal and we’re all trying to live our lives as best as we can. All we ever want is to be loved and accepted. Why is this so hard for certain members of humanity to grasp? Why are we even at the point where we have to fight to be accepted, to be loved, to have a peaceful existence?

 

Inequality is often a reaction from fear and based on ignorance, narrow-mindedness and an inability to see beauty in the world. From this springs war crimes justified by a false belief that certain groups are ‘inferior’, and occurrences of targeted victimisation are carried out by people who feel they’re qualified enough to rid the world of ‘impurities’. There are no impurities. Just uneducated and fearful individuals latched to a belief system that’s superbly outdated and shrouded in fear. A belief system that acts as a means of control and manipulation.

 

We need a revolutionary renaissance of new perceptions. Ones that are inclusive to ALL people, that embrace all and deny none. Our system of how we relate to people needs restructuring and re-wiring. Let’s identify with the TRUTH of being human. Being human doesn’t need to be a nasty, hellish experience. In fact, it’s not. The only reason we think this way is because we’ve CREATED that type of experience for ourselves.

 

We are creators and I say we create a world that’s welcoming, loving, peaceful. Why is this such a big aspiration? Why do people think it’s silly, naïve, and unachievable? It’s not.

 

Surely change is called for when we arm our children for the ‘harsh reality’ of the ‘dog eat dog’ world we live in? And in some parts of the world children are literally bearing arms. Is this ok with you? How would you feel if your seven year old were to brandish an automatic firearm?

Is anyone exhausted yet?

This is my call for equality because I believe we all deserve to be treated equally, with respect, dignity, kindness and love.

Be happy. Be you.

How To Achieve Peace of Mind in a Hectic World

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Modern life: brilliantly overrun with to-do lists, targets and noise. There’s so much to do and to achieve that it can be enormously hard to find even a minute to sit still and regain a sense of peace. 

To achieve peace of mind we must first learn how to be still and do nothing. We need to become comfortable with going nowhere. Going nowhere gives us a chance to catch up with ourselves. In his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer says that going nowhere is “about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”

We view peace as a destination, as a goal, but by defining it as a goal and something to work toward, you can never reach it. You’ll forever be chasing the butterfly rather than admiring it for what it is. They key with achieving and maintaining peace of mind is to not treat it as something to achieve. It sounds contradictory, but once you’ve decided you’re going to achieve it, it will elude you because you’ve turned that into another pressure in your life.

Peace is always available and surrounds us every day, we just have to allow it into our lives.

Part of achieving peace is letting go of what doesn’t serve us and recognise what stresses us out and say ‘no’ to it.

It’s ok if you find yourself getting caught up in the worries and stresses of life while finding peace. This is a natural occurrence and we have to remember that this is part of the journey and a part of life. I have my moments where I allow life to overwhelm me and I feel out of control, then I remember to do something that cultivates a calmness and a peace within me and I feel more able to face my problems.

How you can achieve peace of mind

Meditation

  • Sit and be still – allow your thoughts to float to the surface and then observe them. Don’t push them away and don’t engage them. Let them surface, let them be thoughts and let them go. 
  • Mantra mediation – one mantra I’ve found useful for me is Om Namah Shivaya. To be honest I was surprised that it worked because I’ve never found a mantra that works for me. Sometimes I have difficulty in keeping my mind still, but this mantra enables me to focus on that. Thoughts still arise, but it’s easier for me to take the focus away from them. If this mantra doesn’t work for you there are many others out there that will. 
  • Walking meditation – go for a walk simply to walk. Have no destination in mind and let your feet guide you. Allow yourself to full engage with the movement of your body. Place your attention on your feet and how they feel on the ground. Where do you hold your balance? Are you heavy footed or light footed? How does the ground feel? How do your feet feel in relation to the rest of your body? 
  • Mindful meditation – concentrating on your breath allows your mind to relax and focus on one thing. Simple observe how your breath feels going in and out of your body. It may be helpful to say ‘in’ and ‘out’ with the flow of each breath cycle. 

Creativity

  • Journaling – write down any thoughts, emotions, ideas or quotes that come to you. Dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to doing this. I find that having an outlet and somewhere to store what’s in my head creates space. Remember: your head doesn’t always have to be full. 
  • Paint and draw – you don’t have to be a Picasso to enjoy painting or drawing. It’s a way to express yourself. Get messy. Get creative. Get in the moment and let your hands do all the work.  
  • Make things! – maybe it’s making cards, jewellery, beauty products, knitting clothes, creating collages, making photo albums – whatever it is, do it!  


Solitude

  • Sit and do nothing – as one Japanese proverb says “Don’t just sit there. Do nothing.” So give yourselves permission to sit there and do absolutely nothing.  
  • Be alone – whether it’s for half an hour or a retreat, spending time alone with yourself is highly beneficial and gives you the time and space to find peace and lay to rest whatever may be holding you back.  
  • Slow down – don’t rush. Life will still get done no matter what speed you’re moving at. Walk a little bit slower and use that time to see the flowers amongst the weeds. It’ll surprise you how much you’re missing by rushing through life.  

Connection and Communication

  • Volunteer – give some of your time to others. Time is more valuable and appreciated than money. Giving to others will make you feel good and give you a different perspective on life. It doesn’t have to be people – it could be animals. 
  • Go to a class – it could be yoga, martial arts, real-life drawing, pottery, creative writing, maths, night school, belly dancing, hairdressing – whatever takes your fancy. The point is to do something for yourself, and in the process you’re learning new skills, and making new friends. 
  • Arrange a night in/out with friends – let your hair down, paint the town red! The point here is to enjoy yourself. Empty your mind for a few hours while you and your friends enjoy each other’s company.  
  • Write a letter to your friends and family letting them know how much they mean to you. Write a letter to yourself letting you know how much you mean to you. Connecting with yourself and making yourself feel good is just as important as doing it for other people. 
  • Be honest – especially with yourself. Honesty doesn’t mean being critical or horrible, it means having the grace to know what it is you deserve and what other people deserve.  
  • Help others where you can – aid someone crossing the road, do a favour for a friend, pay it forward at a café, actively listen to someone, pay someone a compliment. Whatever it may be, that little gesture could make someone’s day in a big way. 

Technical Sabbatical

  • Turn your phone off at night – or at least put it on airplane mode. You’ll be able to have a night of uninterrupted sleep which will work wonders for your brain. 
  • Spend the weekend away from technology. Leave it all at home and go for a walk, go camping, go for a coffee. It’s not going to be easy at first, but I promise it will get easier and you’ll feel so refreshed. 
  • Have a no TV rule at dinner – encourage communication within your family and with your partner. It’s far easier to talk to each other than to assume that everything’s ok.  

Exercise

  • Go for a walk/run – release the endorphins! 
  • Dance like no-one’s watching! – let all your energy out. Express what’s in your head in the form of dance!  
  • Go to the gym or go to a class – however you prefer to work out – go and do it. I always find it surprising how blank my mind is and how peaceful I feel after a good workout session.  

Gratitude 

  •  Write a gratitude list every morning or evening. It could be five things it could be twenty things. It’s up to you.  
  • Appreciate the beauty of a situation or a person. Are they trying to give you the opportunity to learn something new about yourself? Or perhaps it’s an opportunity to overcome an outdated way of thinking.  
  • Express compassion and understanding. Even to rude people. Especially to rude people. You never know what someone else is going through and your smile and nice behaviour may be just they need.  

Whatever it is that makes you feel peaceful go ahead and do it. For me I love reading. Reading gives me the same feeling as meditating for half an hour does. So, go ahead and achieve your peace of mind. You deserve it.



Be happy. Be you.

Be Courageous: Choose To Be Happy

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I started my journey as a way of learning to love myself. However, I have discovered that it’s actually a pursuit of happiness. For in that happiness I will find all I need to love myself and that’s how I can find the love for myself. As buddha says, happiness is the path, and for me it will be the path that leads to love. 

To get there I need to BE happiness. Through that peaceful elation I will naturally come to love myself and of course, others. I will come to be aware of the energy that surrounds me, just waiting for me to drink it up and use it wisely and freely as it’s meant to be used. 

There’s no use in me (or anyone) thinking “I WILL be happy.” I’ll constantly be chasing that ‘will’ and I won’t be BEING happy. If I’m forever chasing something that has a future tense I’ll never catch up to it. If I let it encompass me as I already am and soak it up into my being, then I’m happy. There’s no ‘will be’. It just is. 

There’s no point in wasting energy saying “tomorrow I will be happier” because there is no tomorrow. When ‘tomorrow’ arrives it becomes today. So how will you be happy tomorrow? Why not start right now? 

What’s holding you back? 

It’s only you that holds you back from it. 

I know it’s my fear of happiness that holds me back from being happy because I have that ingrained mentality that when something good happens, something else comes along to knock it over. I suppose instead of seeing that as a negative I could always see it as a reminder to always be grateful – gratitude is the attitude – and that it’s only a negative thing if I let it be one. 

I find that too often we let the past hang over us like an overly attached (and sometimes abusive) parent. We allow it to strangle us and take our breath away. We allow it be forever be the soundtrack to our lives even though it’s already happened. It’s on constant replay because we either can’t let go of the negative behaviours and situations we encountered, or we’re nostalgic of the positive, meaningful times. The past has conditioned us to never to let it go. It tells us we need it so we don’t make the same mistakes again. It doesn’t help that we consider mistakes a bad thing. They’re not bad. They’re not good either, but they’re just something that happened. We can choose to move on from those. Mistakes aren’t meant to be an anchor;  they’re little feathers that float away once done. There are many roads for us to walk down and if one doesn’t seem to work out that’s fine! There are always more roads, and the majority of the time these roads are better for us.

It’s not until we make it a little way down the road that hindsight appears and shows us the bigger picture. That’s when our understanding and awareness of the situation starts to culminate. 

Today, I ask you to choose to be courageous and be happy. I ask that you give yourself permission to be happy. I ask that you listen to no-one but yourself. Only you know. 

“We inherently know that, when controlled by others, life loses its flair and we are cast into melancholy and mediocrity.” Brandon Burchard – The Motivation Manifesto 
Be happy. Be you.

Seek That Which Is Greater

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 By which I mean seek the spiritual, the ethereal, the mysterious, the unknown, the magical, the numinous, the beautiful. Seek that which is within you, that which is greater than the earthly possessions and the value placed on the material and temporary goods.  
 

To find ones way to peace, one must first learn to detach oneself from what society deems valuable, and to associate oneself with what their soul knows to hold real value.

 

“We would remind you very tenderly that you pay too much attention to earthly values. We do not mean that you should neglect your earthly duties, but we suggest that you should get a clearer understanding of the relative values of spiritual and earthly things; for so much that you consider necessary and important to you is not important. If you will seek always the stillness, the peaceful spirit of the Lord Christ, you will find that through this you will open the windows of your soul, and the light of the Christ-spirit will flood your soul and life; and that which seemed to you to be a trouble and an anxiety will be absorbed into the light.”

         White Eagle – The Quiet Mind, p. 40.

 

We are greater than our troubles because in reality our troubles don’t exist. Our troubles are a figment of the mind and the mind isn’t who we are. It’s a small aspect of ourselves and a part of ourselves that we must detach from. When we still our minds, it’s in that moment that we experience peace and realisation that this reality, this life, isn’t who we are. It allows us to reach a perspective that before alluded us. Everything we see is a reflection of a moment, the creation of a new memory.