This video I watched today (“The Uncomfortable Truth of Being a Black Ballerina”) got me thinking about a lot of difficult to define, mostly hidden and easily-ignored issues of perception in the Western world…
There seem to be SO many divisive beliefs interwoven into the dense fabric of our various cultures that we are blissfully unaware of as massively problematic… it’s almost TOO overwhelming to consider fully and, for a moment, made me feel quite hopeless about the state and trajectory of humanity.
I do believe (perhaps naïvely) that things are changing — albeit far too slowly — AND I have a (perhaps naïve) belief in the “99 Monkey” effect of unity consciousness being a simpler solution than attacking it all head-on; because over time it seems to naturally unravel and dissolve the many “normal” and “acceptable” biased, bigoted, racist, sexist, classist (etc) threads within us that bind us in problematic divisiveness and cause cyclic, apathetic responses to the need for change…
But of course, the challenge is that anything like “unity consciousness” is just new-age, hippy, woo-woo bullshit to most people… so I don’t know how we get past that to be honest.
AND, maybe holding onto this hope is just another way of sticking my head in the sand and hoping it all goes away, because maybe I’m still lost in cyclic, apathetic responses to the need for change myself.
So I guess I’ll start there.
What thread of divisiveness and destructive cultural bias can I unravel within myself today?
Growing up I spent a decade in the world of classical ballet and probably had unknown racist and, most definitely, extremely specific shape-ist beliefs about beauty in the context of that culture. So THIS beautiful ballerina (that Love is expressing as) is unravelling another of my own threads today (thank you).
The difficulty of the journey is that the more we dig, the more we find. So clearly there are many, many more threads still to unravel…
Sometimes, issues of mental health don’t just “go away” completely. For some of us, they can be the beast within for a whole lifetime — sometimes active, sometimes dormant — but always there as a potential experience.
There are so many possible reasons for this. It could be DNA. Inherited predispositions. Childhood trauma. The influence of geographic, political and cultural environments even. It may just be habitual thinking patterns so deeply engrained that we feel it’s impossible to completely eradicate the roots and regrowth if ignored and not constantly “managed”.
But what happens to a weed or a seed with no water and sunlight?
A seed may lie dormant for a lifetime, yet not germinate if the conditions are not favourable. The root of the problem may always be there, but that doesn’t mean you have to experience it’s growing vines choking the life out of you.
The same is seen with the study of Epigenetics; it is the external stimuli that ultimately determines the expression of our genes — they’re not on complete autopilot like the scientists once thought.
So again, we see that whilst we might have an in-bred predisposition to disruptive mental health issues of one sort or another — the beast may indeed be reduced to a coma-like state forever if not fed what it needs to thrive.
Are we stuck with the threat of the beast forever?
Don’t get me wrong, I have seen and experienced small miracles of permanent inner transformation in myself and others, but I’ve also seen that sometimes mental health issues are like Hydra: cut off one head and another appears somewhere else.
So, these days I think it’s more realistic for most people suffering mental health issues to think of it as “management” rather than looking for an ultimate cure.
In saying that, it absolutely feels like a “cure” when you come from a very dark, debilitating forest of mental weeds and then are able to live consistently in a beautiful flowering mindscape of peace once the practice of inner gardening has become habitual.
The key is to stop feeding the beast.
I was going to say “simply stop” … but well, it’s just not always that simple.
The beast feeds on the “weeds” in our inner garden. The more weeds there are, the more challenging our life and mental health becomes.
Unfortunately, some of us have more aggressively growing weeds due to past trauma and/or other factors that are outside of our control — our “soil” is just more primed for them to thrive. However it’s still absolutely possible to manage, and even change the quality of the soil gradually over time to be more supportive of wellbeing and less supportive of that beastly habitat.
So what feeds the beast that IS within our control?
There are actually many things that are problematic to some degree or other, but almost all of them are completely within our control. Here are a few important things we can “weed out”:
Poor diet and gut health
Lack of exercise
Lack of love and support
Lack of purpose and passion
Negative mental attitudes
OK, the gloves are on! How do we get started?
Whether you’re lucky enough to have a less traumatic past, or not, the process is basically the same…
1. Clear the path.
Sometimes you can’t even get to the garden because the path is so overgrown. It just feels all too overwhelming to even start. You take one look at it, throw your hands up and head back inside to pour yourself a stiff drink and try to forget about it. But eventually the jungle of weeds engulfs your whole house and the beast makes your life a living hell — as I’ve found out.
So start small. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time, but just do a little each day. Don’t expect anything to look like it’s changing on the outside for quite some time… but just keep at it!
The goal at this point isn’t to kick any major goals, but just to win some ground back so you’re in a position to move forward.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
In practical terms:
Get help. Both chronic and acute mental health issues benefit from someone trained in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy or “positive psychology”). I’m not going to make direct recommendations here, but just make sure you ask if they have a focus on CBT or positive psychology before booking any sessions. Some people do benefit from getting regular, ongoing help from trained professionals, but sometimes financial restraints make that difficult, so for me, I’ve just booked in sporadic sessions in acute times when things were too big for me to deal with alone.
Drink more water. I know this sounds ridiculously simplistic, however, if you’re drinking more water, [a] you’ll be drinking a little less of other sorts of possibly detrimental liquids (like sugary drinks or alcohol or too much caffeine), [b] your body will start to cleanse and reduce your toxic load, [c] hydration helps with brain function, [d] less toxicity means better gut function, which typically leads to a more balanced production of feel-good neuro-chemicals (produced mainly in the gut by the friendly bacteria in our microbiome), and numerous other benefits.
Find a physical activity that clears your mind. It doesn’t have to be meditation, as that’s often too difficult to start practicing at this stage of the game. Try regular walks/time in nature (switch your phone off!), or any sort of cardio exercise, or painting or playing an instrument, or gardening, etc. Set aside a time where you avoid technology and other stimulation and just really get “grounded” in your body and your physical surroundings.
2. Plant a new garden that supports your wellbeing.
This is about exploring what you might like to see in your garden and what you might need (sometimes a little different — flowers look lovely, but a garden full of flowers won’t feed us very well!), and then methodically preparing the soil and planting new seeds — removing weeds, adding seeds one by one and giving them space to grow.
It’s good to start with the end in mind. Just like some plants, you may wish to bring new, supportive activities into your life that need quite a bit of time and space, so you’ll need to consider what the priorities are at the start — otherwise you can just end up creating a cluttered, crowded mental environment that quickly becomes overwhelming again, and you may end up ignoring the whole thing for that reason.
In practical terms:
Actively avoid toxicity. This means processed sugars, artificial colours and flavourings, many processed foods (particularly processed meats) and deep-fried foods, excessive stimulants (e.g. caffeine), depressants (e.g. alcohol), chemical drugs,
Make changes to your diet. This is something many people write off as unnecessary or unimportant, but the absolute opposite is true. This is CRUCIAL to your wellbeing. Don’t just drink more water, but also reduce stimulants and sugary drinks. Replace processed foods with fresh, whole foods as much as you can. Try eating probiotic foods like sauerkraut and yoghurt, or just supplement your diet with a good quality daily probiotic capsule. (Click here to find out more).
Schedule in your preferred physical activity so you don’t miss a day. Even 5 minutes is better than nothing. If you can, ensure there’s time spent actually building your cardio fitness levels, as this can help dramatically with your overall wellbeing.
Find an uplifting hobby, passion or purpose. This is pretty straight forward and I think most people know that a life without purpose or passion is like a garden without water, yet many of us let the general busy-ness take over and dictate our schedule, and we then numb ourselves in our downtime with pointless activities like social media and endless Netflix binges, never once considering that we could be better shaping our schedule and using that time to inject inspirational moments into the mix.
Connect with positive, loving people. I know it’s really hard for many of us to find new friends. But use your hobby/passion as an excuse — join a club or just start by connecting with similar people online. At worst, if you can’t meet new people, try to find the most loving, positive people within your own existing group of friends and family and invest more time in those relationships.
Find/create helpful mantras. It’s not enough to just “do the right things” if you’re spending the rest of the time hating on yourself and your life. Mantras are simply things we feel comfortable telling ourself regularly which make us feel more positive and pro-active.
3. Nurture that garden daily.
We can just clear out the weeds once, throw in a few seeds and hope for the best. Our inner gardens respond best to regular management — just a few small things and a few minutes every day can avoid ever falling back into that overwhelming place where the beast is raging once more.
In practical terms:
Be patient! It’s okay to swap out activities occasionally, but stay focussed long enough to really get a sense of whether it’s helping or not. Just trying something a few times does will not give you a definite sense about anything.
Be consistent. Schedule things in. Just because you ate veggies 3 days in a row, doesn’t mean that KFC and a dozen beers is an okay option on day 4. It’s up to you ultimately, but if you’re serious about starving the beast and enjoying the peace that results, then be as consistent as you can.
Remember it takes a while for activities to become habits. Keep at it! But also, if something starts to become overwhelming (like exercising for an hour every day) then you’re better off cutting it back to much smaller chunks so you can keep building the habit, rather than throwing it in the too-hard basket or just doing it sporadically and never building the habits which make everything easier long-term.
So, in summary…
To starve the beast and feed your own wellbeing, here are a few important areas to focus on:
Improve your gut health (eat more fresh veggies, drink more water and consider taking a daily probiotic).
Get regular exercise (daily is best) — often great to combine this with getting out into nature (weather permitting!).
Seek out people and environments that love and support you, then invest time and energy into those relationships.
Find purpose and passions, and find a way to incorporate it into your weekly (or daily!) schedule.
Find or create good mantras and seek to gradually improve your mental attitudes and self-love. I would even recommend studying the basics of CBT for yourself to learn how to reframe your world with ways of thinking that support your wellbeing.
Be kind and patient with yourself. It takes time and effort to turn your beast-feeding field of noxious weeds into a beautiful garden of peace…. but it’s definitely well worth it!
Most of us have felt completely “stuck” in a low-feeling place at some time. It’s a pretty universal human experience, right? But can we rapidly re-boot our experience from this low state of being? … YES we can.
Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified practitioner. These anecdotal ideas have worked for others but ultimately just represent my own personal experience. Do your own research and seek professional advice if you feel you may be suffering from a chronic mental illness.
Yesterday I had a weird, rollercoaster kind of day.
It left me feeling really low.
So I’m so grateful to have gained an experiential understanding that, whilst our emotional response to life is based on complex range of factors, the most impactful factors are just a few relatively simple things:
I’ve covered these things before in other posts, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but just briefly…
OUR POISONS (OR HOPEFULLY, OUR LACK OF)
This really falls into the broader category of what we choose to expose ourselves to; including food, drink, visual stimuli, environment, toxicity, what we choose to think about or listen to, etc.
However, our gut is the production point for many of our emotional neurochemicals, so what we eat and drink is of crucial importance.
This topic around the psychotropic nature of nutrition can be extremely complex and highly individualised based on body type, geographic location, inherited allergies and intollerances, pre-existing conditions and many other factors… but again, the main recommendations are incredibly simple:
eat more whole foods (predominantly fresh vegetables),
drink more pure water,
avoid packaged/processed foods (particularly toxic foods/substances like processed sugar, alcohol and man-made chemicals).
BTW, I think, in this area, over-simplification is actually much better than getting lost in the details and never making any conscious changes because “it’s all too hard”. Just try replacing toxic foods over time with better choices. Easy.
Our perspective is how we choose to view all the events and circumstances of life. It’s really important to note that this is within our control — we can choose a different perspective that serves us better if we want to — even for things completely outside our control.
It’s the whole “glass half full” concept. Easy (well, mostly).
In short, presence is our ability to be right here, right now, without our incessant narratives and past-future obsessions. It’s the only point of access to ultimate reality and to the bliss of pure states like joy and peace.
Meditation is the simplest practice I can recommend to develop this, because whilst something like a walk in nature can give you a deep feeling of presence, it does’t actually train you to find presence in more challenging circumstances.
Amongst many other things, in my early years of meditation I would sometimes practice open-eyed meditation, presence and mindfulness while listening to my mother rant on about polarising subjects or endlessly circular conversations about needless anxieties, but shhhh!! — don’t let her know that! haha
My last post talked about this topic in more detail, so I recommend you check it out if you’re interested. Alternately, just read any book by Eckhart Tolle.
This is, admittedly, a little harder to grasp initially.
It really requires a very open mind.
However, I’m going to make an assumption that, if you’re reading one of my articles, you’ve probably got a fairly open mind already (if not, this would be a good time to go read something else! haha).
Our “position” is about an awareness of, and our choice of place upon, the spectrum of “all possibilities” within us — in fact, not just “within us” but actually as our ultimate reality. From this “place” we can choose from a myriad of possible experiences in this moment…. including joy — even when life looks and feels horribly bleak.
This does closely relate to perspective — the whole “glass half full” thing, but goes a little deeper in the sense that it is the realisation that all states are here now.
It’s not just a case of “when I retrain my mind and change my diet and blaa blaa blaa, it’ll have different physiological and psychological outcomes”, but rather it comes from the knowing that ultimately ALL physical “reality” is vibration first and that the “highest” aspect of ourselves is not ANY of this projected “reality”.
“The Tao that can be named is not the Tao.”
This human incarnation is a playground of possibility.
From that perspective, we can give ourselves permission to be joyous NOW.
We could allow joy to be the vibrational position from which we exist in this moment.
We can tune in to joy as a frequency, just like changing the radio stations, instantly — despite EVERY other factor that may be at play in our experience at this time.
What are the “Stations” and Frequencies on this Spectrum of Emotional States?
If you’ve been hanging out in “spiritual” circles for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of (or seen) Dr. David Hawkins’ Scale of Consciousness, which shows us which emotions have a higher vibration (thus causing expansion, wellbeing and buoyancy) and which emotions will drag us down (and by what measure or level of potency).
Most people see this, like most things, as a linear pathway.
Sure, it appears simpler and much less of a mental stretch to just reach for the next emotion on the scale — the next “station” on our possible broadcast in a progressive linear sense… and I’m a really big advocate for the Abraham-Hicks recommendations of just reaching for a “better feeling thought” and then another “better feeling thought” and so on.
Sometimes that approach is absolutely the only way out of a very dark place; one step at a time.
However, it’s only our smaller selves that require things to work in this linear way.
If we’re truly open to experiencing a direct transmission from the Joy Station (frequency 540FM!), and you know how to spin the dial or press your preset buttons in that way, then that’s totally possible.
Leap-Frogging The Vibrational Scale of Emotion
It’s all about allowing and openness…
Ever had a moment when you were feeling down and your best friend shows up, distracts you with a good story or puts on an awesome tune and 10 minutes later you’re laughing or dancing or just feeling like chalk-to-cheese compared to your previous state?
However, it’s not reliant on other people or circumstances. You can leap-frog states by choice, with practice.
Of course, it’s important to note that leap-frogging to a much higher state may only give temporary relief. You may have a debilitating physical illness or other circumstances that will not “magically” disappear just because you’re having a laugh and a joyful moment.
However it is still a great relief in that moment and, more importantly, it’s impact over time as a practice can be far greater than smaller steps because the vibrational shift is much more powerful and can affect things in an exponentially positive way.
Actively Generating Joy
I find that actively generating the feeling of joy is an incredible “opening” and manifestation tool and, perhaps more importantly in a way, a powerful way to quickly shift your emotional set-point at virtually any time.
Sure it often requires a little imagination, but it’s important to remember that it’s always present, just under the surface (like all possible perspectives, vibrations and emotions on this full spectrum of experience), even when it doesn’t FEEL like it at ALL.
So, because of that, we all can find ways of accessing it if we want to and are open to the possibility of it…
For me, sometimes I have been able to just sit in meditation, ask “What would joy feel like in my body right now?” and generate an almost-immediate joy response (which was MIND-BLOWING the first time it happened and I almost fell off my chair laughing as real joy bubbled up from some mysterious place in my gut and touched every corner of my being).
However, mostly I have to create pattern interrupts and be much more creative with it.
In these times, I’ve found that random flow dancing and rhythmic clapping with some wordless humming or singing and the occassional “whoop! yaaaa” (kind of “rain dance” style I guess!?) can work really well for me.
Being so random, it probably looks really silly to watch for many people (not that I’d EVER do it in front of others! haha), but that’s kind of the point…
…It makes me smile and feel alive. And some days, when my body would otherwise feel heavy and irresponsive, that’s a small miracle.
But Why Joy Specifically and Not “Love”?
Sometimes us complicated humans can get caught up in lower vibratory experiences when trying to generate and/or express some of the other states like love. There’s a lot of “stuff” intertwined in our thoughts of what that concept of love is, so that can get in the way of the experience and quickly drag us back down (or stop us from entering a pure state at all).
Joy is much less complicated. It’s much more pure in our awareness, understanding and experience of it, so whilst it may initially seem like a harder stretch to reach for joy, that makes it easier in a way to stay present to it once we get there.
Have you ever had an incredibly weird, violently abrupt or annoyingly repetitive dream, woken up, and then realised that you really need to go to the bathroom?
Sometimes the dream is just there to wake us up.
Sometimes the dream is just there to wake us up.
Sometimes the dream is just there to wake us up.
No, that’s not a typo…
That’s exactly what I did this morning (after a seriously weird dream that I was tempted to try and inventively “interpret” for some deeper meaning to entertain my mind with) and, from that simple place of not-knowing, I arrived at a wonderfully peaceful place. Right here, right now, with nothing more on my mind than “right here, right now”.
And this pure “right here, right now” experience (without any fabricated narrative wrapped around it, masking it’s purity) is a really good place to be when there are “bad”, potentially stressful things happening all around us, or when we are given cause to fear about the future or the unknown (like what is happening in the world today).
So let’s not overthink it.
Bad things can just happen. Sure, many of us believe that there may be some element of karma involved, but be careful about giving these things too much meaning. Because sometimes the (bad) dream is just there to wake us up; nothing more.
There is seemingly still an intelligence behind it, as sometimes things we judge as “bad” create outcomes that are clearly very “good” (the strange dream that wakes us up to find relief).
However, getting too invested in any narrative around it is like adding weights to our hot air balloon — we can get stuck. We never fall up into the peace and infinite openness that awaits us as pure consciousness. We’re not naturally buoyant like we can be.
There’s a danger in spiritualising life too much.
Often we want to deeply spiritualise every inch of our experience, every drop, every rustle in the leaves… but invariably, we have just swapped our previous “negative” narratives for a more deliciously mysterious spiritual narrative. It’s often still just ego and projection.
It’s no more real necessarily — just more positive perhaps.
Admittedly, our new “spiritual” narratives are often much closer to ultimate truth — these narratives mostly pointing the way towards the nameless, formless space we manifest from and eventually leading us on to become more fluid and less “grasping”.
However, the greatest peace is found in the formlessness.
“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can [only] see the manifestations.”
—Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
To find ourselves in formlessness does require practice and presence however. It requires the process of kenosis — to empty out and release attachments to form. This takes time and regular meditation, so remember be kind and patient with yourself along the journey.
To help, I’ve made my meditation journey “Kenosis” totally free to download. This is a deeply refreshing musical holiday away from the dense form-based existence that most of us find ourselves in, so even if you just need a little “reset”, it’s a great way to do it.
Mental suffering is caused by rejecting our interpretation of the events in our experience.*
So we can ask:
“How can I reinterpret these events to feel more at peace?”
“How are these events helping me?”**
“What can I learn from this?”
For example, when we experience physical pain we sometimes focus on that as a PROBLEM and try to stop it — we cover it up with numbing ointments and pain killers (not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, unless that’s ALL we do)…
We REJECT it (rejecting ourSELF in the process, thus creating mental suffering that is impossible to avoid, because we generally associate with our bodies as our “self” — in some cases we may even despise ourselves for these “problems”)…
BUT we are ignorant of the fact that the pain response is both a powerful physiological response to help us protect ourselves but also part of the healing process. It can also be instructional in some ways…. From any angle, it’s important.
From that perspective we can learn to LOVE and appreciate that SAME pain.
From this new perspective there is no mental suffering.
We remain present and open. The healing does its work and we are supportive of that process.
In the same way, with the “painful problems” in our lives, we have the potential to move from suffering…. to healing, PEACE… and even gratitude.
“How can I reinterpret these events to feel more at peace?”
“How are these events helping me?”**
“What can I learn from this?”
*For the average person with a well-functioning brain, a healthy microbiome and relatively good/balanced nutritional intake which supports production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters and avoids over-production of cortisol (stress hormone). You can find some excellent, well-researched articles about these topics at the following links…
Recently a thought occurred — what if I was to simply rely on the magic of gratitude to connect me to opportunities, rather than the myriad of overwhelming digital channels like FB, Google, Twitter, Linkedin, etc?
As a result, my income more than doubled in the last month, I’ve had a lot more free time and I’m feeling more peaceful than ever. And all that is certainly no coincidence.
Perhaps my marketing skills weren’t as good as I thought AND perhaps you’re not as obsessive about these things as I was, but the point is that we live in an inside-out world, and this obsession with this shallow digital space isn’t helping us nearly as much as we might think — but I can attest to the fact that it definitely IS harming us to some degree.
Of course, I remain in the middle because, much like some of you, the majority of my work requires the digital space to even exist. Perhaps that’s why I love designing physical things like books so much more than purely digital “things” like websites.
But I’m not here to talk about design and marketing (well, not today anyway! haha), I’m here to deep dive a little into the idea that gratitude is the “Master Key” to expanding bliss, wellbeing, love and abundance in our lives — in fact, ANYTHING we desire more of…
Seek (to Observe) and You Shall Find
“A sub-atomic particle literally occupies an infinite number of places — a state called ‘super-position’ — until OBSERVATION MANIFESTS IT in one place…
…in Quantum Mechanics, a decision to look or not look actually determines what will be there. In this sense, an observers consciousness determines objective reality in the sub-atomic field.”
THIS is one of the main reasons I believe #gratitude is the MASTER KEY.
Staring into the Infinite Flux of Possibility
When we are grateful for something in our life (no matter how small it may appear right now — even just a bunch of sub-atomic wave-particles in flux that we can’t see with our eyes), then we are “observing it” or “measuring it” (as the quantum physicists say), and in doing so, we are manifesting it to some degree….
The more we observe something with charged e-motion (energy in motion), the more we manifest it as our personal reality.
This goes BOTH ways of course — with things we desire (gratitude) and things we reject (fear)… So let’s focus on gratitude!!
5 Reasons Why Gratitude is The Master Key
The following live video explores 5 reasons why gratitude has been nothing less than LIFE CHANGING for me and is what I call the “Master Key” to life…
1. Frame of mind and focus
2. Law of attraction
3. Higher vibration and flow
4. Brings acceptance
5. Experiencing the timeless Self