Ministry of Silly Walks

Before too long on mystical travels, one finds oneself observing one’s own (and other people’s) silly walks.

These are the habits, the psychological nervous ticks, the background dramas we all have; the familiar comfortable painful mental patterns we walk with and freely share with others without a care for why we have them and let them take control all the time.

There’s one over there. Every third step in the walk has to be a bow, a hip rotation, and a salute. And another one there. See him wringing his hands and looking nervously around as he makes his way down the path. What about this one? She’s crawling along on her hands and knees. I wonder why that is? Then there’s me. Keeping my head artificially high whilst nervously clutching to my belly so nobody can see my soft underside.

And so on.

Once it starts to look as ridiculous as it really is, my love affair with it starts to be over. When I notice (those lucky times I do) my own silly walk, I think, ‘why on earth do I do that all the time? Oh yes. I remember now. Well how silly!’ The silly walk can start to turn into what it needs to be; a walk. Not extraordinary. Not slouching. Not tense. Not half asleep. Alert, but not hyper. Just what it needs to be and nothing more.

And then my walk can be a ministry to others, because I’m not giving them my bizarre body movements to contend with on the path as well as their own. I can deal with theirs because I can see mine. And that means I can share the same path more easily.

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Language and Intention

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.

This is of course the biggest bunch of crap.

Reality is that humans care deeply what others think of them. It’s possible to train ourselves away from that behaviour, but it is deeply engrained in many of us (Alain de Botton makes this point well in his book ‘Status Anxiety’).

Reality is that punches knocks and falls hurt bad. But we recover from them. Our bodies are ingenious at that. It will be a long time before robots become as good at self-healing as living systems.

But there are subtleties to this. If someone calls you a shit head but you know they are joshing (playing) with you, then the comment rarely ‘counts’ psychologically.

So the issue isn’t really about language; what people say to us. It’s actually about intention.¬†(I’ve actually learnt this from Tim Field who wrote a not-very-well-known book called ‘Bully in Sight‘. It’s a great book, but the pain the author went through also comes through in the writing so it’s not for the faint-hearted.)

Intention is the key. If someone intends to hurt you and then says something about you or your behaviour then that’s much more likely to ‘count’ psychologically.

But there’s another subtlety to this. It’s to do with time.

A few intended comments, nit-pickings, public shaming, disempowerments don’t actually count for a lot. We all have a level of resilience to this; after all, we survived the playground at school didn’t we?

But our levels of resilience are different and, over time…perhaps even years… any human being can end up psychologically damaged by someone else’s words and actions. Psychological violence.

I was staggered to learn, when bullying¬†happened to me, that because of the way our brains work some of the damage was actually physical. Our brains are psycho-physical things. They’re also very weird because unlike computers the software can rewrite the necessary hardware. In other words our electrical ‘thought’ activity can, over time, reroute neurons as required.

Recovering from poor mental health I was staggered to learn that part of the necessary healing was physical. My neuron pathways had to reconnect, and connect in different and new ways. Sometimes it was like I could even tell that this was going on (but not prove), because I’d get the most profound and unusual headaches and not be able to do much with myself mentally or physically.

And no amount of meditation or anti-depressant drugs were doing to do that work. Only time could fix it. Only the body-mind could do that part. I just had to let the process be what it was.

I found it interesting that my then meditation school had a set of ‘rules of the dojo’. One of those rules was that sick people and mentally unwell people should not enter the dojo. This sounds harsh. But it has something to it. Even the meditation dojo can’t do that fixing work. Only the body-mind and time can do that part. (Self-nurturing will of course aide this natural process.)

I guess my key learning here is, don’t consider people’s language. Consider what they are intending to do with it. ‘Are you intending to hurt me?’ is one of those good questions to ask people. They will rarely say ‘yes’, and when they say ‘no’ they sometimes back down – and that stops their action from ‘counting’.

Because of these subtle things – intention not language, words causing physical harm over time, harmful intention in a short amount of time causing little damage, none of the damage being visible – and of course our collective fear (because any human can be a victim of bullying) we tend to either want to misunderstand bullying, or even if we want to understand it we misunderstand.

After many many years (at least 8 now) of working on myself, I can (on a good day) talk through something I found difficult with someone; ask them if they are OK; and mentally give their own pain back to them. Vindictive behaviour rarely comes from a simplistic ‘evil person’ place. Show me an ‘evil’ person and I’ll show you someone who is suffering. (Many Buddhist authors such as Thich Nhat Hanh have written on this point.)

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve become bullying immune. But I have found this knowledge to be power. Knowledge that vindictive behaviour points to suffering in the other person. Knowledge that names do hurt – really a lot if given enough time to do so. Knowledge to look at intention not words.

Old Bags of Emotions, and What to Do With Them

black-toast-jute-bag-mediumWhen I was a 9 year old boy, in 1984, my father had a motorbike accident. It put him in a coma for many weeks, and he was on a life support system.

When he did finally come out of hospital, he’d suffered brain damage and also had several serious problems with his motor skills and physical abilities. He had to learn some of his words back, how to write, how to walk, how to use his hands and so on.

Now the details are a little fuzzy, as you might imagine from being that long ago. But there were some days there (maybe weeks; it doesn’t matter how long) where my mother had to go to work at the local supermarket, stacking shelves, and my sister was away.

So it was my job to look after daddy.

There wasn’t a huge amount to ‘do’ as such. Give him cups of tea. Help him eat occasionally. But the key thing was giving him his medicines. He was on a tight regime of drugs. He had about 9 or 10 different ones for different things. And they had to be given to him regularly. Perhaps every couple of hours.

The key thing was that if I didn’t give them to him in the right order he could die. He was entirely dependent on them in the early days after hospital.

Now, however long that lasted for, it was a huge responsibility for a 9 year old to take on. I remember making a sheet of paper with columns and rows on it showing which hour and which drugs, and carefully putting that sheet onto a coffee table next to his make-shift bed in the lounge, and laying out the drugs into the right table boxes so that I didn’t get confused as to which ones were next, and could make sure he got all of them in the right order with none of them missed.

Which I needed to do, because I found the instructions on all the little plastic bottles confusing, and when I was near him I got stressed. His language was foul. He would swear and shout. Not over anything important, and I realise now it was because he was in a lot of pain and confusion. But that was another aspect that was distressing.

His mother, my Grandmother, had offered to care for him at her house. But for some reason my mother refused. I wonder what the reasons for that were. I know that she wanted to ‘toughen me up’, but also she lost her father when she was young and I wonder now if something was repeating itself there for her.

Whatever the reasons were, that was the situation. And I had to deal with it. I could have said no, but I didn’t. I’d been given a job. I had to get it right. And if I got it wrong I could lose my dad. You could say, ‘I would kill him’, because that’s how it felt.

It’s something that I’ve recalled from time to time, and even had therapy about before. But this year, for some reason (possibly because he has now passed away), that memory came back to the surface. And I’ve realised for the first time that surrounding it is a whole bag of emotions.

The emotions in question are a bit like a sliding scale. At the low end of the scale I can just feel trapped and confused. So I have my little coping mechanisms to get me through the day; I check I’ve packed everything in my bag twice before I go out. I plan everything ahead, sometimes rehearsing business meetings days before they happen. And I turned into such a successful project manager that I ended up being the best one on the project management team. Go figure that! Good with detail, forgetting nothing.

Even at that level the modus operandi seems to be ‘preventing a catastrophe’. Enjoyment of my work doesn’t tend to come into it.

Then further up the scale the trapped and confused feelings get a little stronger. I’m great in a crisis (and my sister is, too). But if you give me something mundane to deal with I find it hard. I even remember my piano teacher saying that I found hard music scores easy, and easy music scores hard.

At the top of the scale the trapped and scared feelings reach a sort of climax. And whatever it is that triggers that ‘top of the scale’ the result is a desire to self harm. At the very worst, I start to plan to take my own life.

Whilst that state of mind, feeling suicidal, has only happened perhaps a handful of times in my life, it is a tendency I have and that I live with. So I have been working these last few months to understand where that tendency comes from, and how to make friends with it; how to be at peace with it and forgive it and so on.

I think it first happened when I was 16 and my mother died. She was a passenger on the back of my dad’s motorbike. So he was in hospital again after that accident. Whilst I don’t think I could say that I looked after him when he was convalescing that time, I did go back for a year to live with him. So he would phone my sister (who by that time was at university) to find out how to make omlettes. And I would re-cook the half-frozen pies he had cooked, and iron shirts for him, and I was there as a companion. I offered to stay instead of going away to uni, but he sweetly said, ‘go’.

But I think the second tragedy embedded something in my psyche, because I did want to take my own life then and it relates to a situation involving another motorbike accident, my dad in hospital, and coming out with problems and a stinky temper.

Dads back then…well, it was normal for them to be distant. To let the mother deal with the children. He had been traditional out of necessity in that sense before 1984. And sometimes out of wanting to (he didn’t spend many weekends with the kids). But after 1984 even when he was around he was violent, angry, quick-tempered, foul mouthed. It was hard to love him. And after the later accident he wouldn’t help himself or listen to the advice of others; he didn’t forgive himself. Perhaps on one level he didn’t want to live either. Survivor’s guilt.

When I was 21 and came out as gay I also felt suicidal then. Perhaps the triggers there were religious, but it doesn’t matter what the triggers were; I felt trapped, I wanted an escape route because there was a task I was dealing with here (this time within myself) that felt too hard to deal with. And if I didn’t get the pills in the right order (figuratively speaking) then there’d be a ‘catastrophe’.

And then again when I was about 23 or 24. I cut ties with the church community I’d been introduced to at age of 4. And I hated myself for that. So I felt trapped again. And then again in May 2013 (I had to just check the year in my calendar because I forget important dates) when Dad died, dealing with things after that I got suicidal again.

I’ve been out of work for anxiety and depression twice now. This time round, this year, it was for something different. The ‘breakthrough’ was about many things, but what surfaced was this old bag of emotions; where they came from, what to do with them. What triggers them.

So now when I feel stressed or trapped or confused or like I need to escape, I see that this is because of those 9 year old feelings. And even just seeing that much helps.

It creates distance from them; there is the 9 year old. And here is me now. And the 9 year old deals with things that way because that’s all a 9 year old can do. But I’m not that little boy, so I have different choices now. I can choose a different response to the situation.

I can tell people ‘can you tell me how I might fit that in?’, because I don’t have to take everything on and ‘save it’.

I can observe the self-loathing, curling up inside, fearful 9 year old response and say, ‘I love you, I forgive you, I’m here for you’.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.39.44Perhaps I can’t be entirely at peace and present with the present moment of ‘Now’ in such situations (wherever they feature on that ‘scale’) quite yet. But the grip of those emotions is loosening. My modus operandi is changing.

Shortly after the latest spell out of work I realised that the name people give to children who go through this kind of thing these days is ‘child carer’. So I was telling all my buddies ‘I was a child carer’ in the hope perhaps that they’d help me understand some of all this. They couldn’t, of course. And even if they could, it wasn’t theirs to do. And I remember saying to my husband, ‘I could run a half marathon for this child carer charity! What do you think?’, and he said, ‘I think you’re still caring for your dad there.’

So here is me now, not caring for my Dad because he’s gone. And I have already been such a great success in my life because he didn’t die that time. I kept him alive with my effort and my care. So here is me now caring for myself, loving myself, nurturing myself, and knowing it is needed.

(If you are reading this, and do want to help young carers, you could donate to CarersUK or another charity for child carers where you live.)

Why the drama?

If someone is sending you a thousand text messages, and giving you a thousand phone calls because they are in a desperate life situation, you are likely to feel harassed and depressed at some point. You are also likely to feel that you are trapped; how can you ignore their text messages and phone calls? They are in a desperate situation, and you are not heartless.

But you are not trapped. They are trapped.
How much of their messaging and phoning is about the hard facts of their desperate life situation? How much of it is about practical things you can do as a friend to help? And how much of it is about how they feel, about their drama?
They are trapped in their own drama, and responding to every text message and every phone call is simply feeding their drama – allowing them to have more drama about the situation. This is why they are trapped. You keep them trapped every time you indulge them in their wants.
The best way to help in that situation is to deny them their wants. This feels wrong and heartless. But it is compassionate in this situation. Deny them their wants and they will have to face them for themselves.
Make it clear that if they request something practical that you can do to help then you will be there. But otherwise you cannot help them. This will save you from being abused, and wake them out of their own drama / dukkha.

After the grave

When all that is left is past pain. When all the real healing and recovery has been achieved, and is a thing of the past and not today. That is when a fresh challenge comes.

The previous challenges; how to cope with today, how to unlearn thought-patterns emergent of a damaged mind, how to let go of negative thoughts, how to choose rational thoughts over irrational ones, are gone. What is left more than anything is then simply choice.

Choice to stay content with things as they are, or choice to use what has been learnt through the expensive and difficult process of dying and finding life, of breaking down, through, and back up.

But to use what has been learnt requires a willingness to go into previously uncharted territory in one’s inner life and in the experience of life in general. To choose to allow new thought patterns to develop. To let go of favourite negative thoughts and allow new modes of behaviour and analysis.

For me, this is met with a great reluctance on a subconscious level. Perhaps because past pain is known, and being known provides a certain level of preceived comfort. Which is, of course, silly. Pain can never comfort.

So the choice is there. Finally, the opportunity arises to let go of all that I have been through, and apply the learning – pioneering a new way of being in the world.

There is only really one answer. Yes. I will let go of the past. I will let go of negative ‘comfort places’. I will brave a new world in my soul. And the cosmos is there to greet me already.

When rising from the grave is completed, there is simply new living to do.

Enlightenment is not a bubble

My Aunt visits me regularly. We like to go out for coffees and lunches sometimes. It was she who introduced me to Eckhart Tolle, and it was Eckhart Tolle’s writings which led me to a ‘sudden awakening’. I am indebted to her; she is a skillful bodhisattva!

My Aunt thinks that enlightenment is like a bubble. If you have found this enlightenment bubble, then it does not matter what happens to you each day; you could have a bad run-in with a boss, a disagreement with a family member, someone could light your fuse, but you would remember your bubble and you would remove yourself from your immediate wish to feel all of those strong emotions. Instead you would replace them with calm, serenity, critical distance, and some compassion for yourself and for the other.

At least, I think this is how her bubble works; I am only guessing that this is what she means. However, I am cautious to regard enlightenment as a bubble. To be enlightened is to go deeper into our centres of pain – the relationships and the places that give us pain and suffering and grief – fully and deeply into them, so that we can understand all that there is to be understood about that pain and suffering, and from there we can start to release the energy of that suffering around that relationship or area and start to think more positively about it. This is the only way to be released from the perpetual cycles of suffering we are in; the network of suffering that is the human condition.

Considering that enlightenment is a bubble invites me to pretend that there is no pain or suffering. This is true; suffering is an illusion. But this is also not true; I cannot know for myself that I have foregone all suffering until I have gone into each area of my suffering fully and snuffed it out. Pretending that there is no suffering when I have not gone into the suffering and out the other side, in every area of my life, is not enlightenment. It is an emulation of nirvana, but it is not nirvana. It is looking for a shortcut that does not exist!

Enlightenment is more like a burning fire consuming all illusion until there is no illusion left. When all illusion is gone, there is just a calm glow radiating warmth and light. Which is best? A fire? Or a bubble? A bubble will feel nice today, but tomorrow when it pops the floodgates of pain and suffering will be open again. A fire will feel difficult to handle today, but tomorrow there will be less pain and suffering than there was today.

Racket body pain

In psychology (Transactional Analysis), there is a concept called ‘racket feelings’ or ‘racket thoughts’. The idea goes that certain situations in life will invite us to recollect (and relive) feelings and thoughts from the past. In other words, we are invited to racket-ball all the way back to something that happened, say, twenty years ago, just because something that is happening right now has enough signals in it to remind us of that past feeling or thought. (This is a very rough description, and nothing beats reading a few book chapters on the subject. ‘Racket moments’ rely on another concept, called ‘scripting’, which I won’t go into here.)

As I’ve been going deeper into recovery, and getting used to avoiding more and more ‘racket thoughts’ when they surface, I have made what I think could be a new discovery. Racket moments do not just extend to thoughts and emotions. They extend to physical conditions, too.

Here are some of my racket body pains:

– Hunched shoulders deriving from early teens when growing bigger felt awkward

– One shoulder usually higher than the other deriving from a paper round I used to do

– Bad posture derived from low self-esteem

I have also learnt through meditation and mindfulness that:

– Mindfulness can assist me to let go of these old body pains

– There is nothing that is broken that can not be healed over time.

Mental suffering is an illusion

Mental suffering is an illusion.
It is a creation of our own egotic minds, and we create it for ourselves because suffering and pain, in the absence of strong positive emotions, are required to help our egotic minds feel alive. Our ego needs a sense of continuity. There always has to be a next chapter in the book. Without a next chapter, the ego’s sense of a perpetuating inner self feels threatened.

The only way out of mental suffering and pain, is to let go of suffering and pain. Suffering and pain will not help me today to resolve whatever matters are the focus of my suffering and pain. Instead of letting these emotions and thoughts get in the way, it is better to let them go, so that I can think more clearly about the challenges I am faced with, and deal with challenges as and when they arise – not before, and not afterwards.

If someone else expresses mental suffering and pain, I am invited to respond with a stifling, smothering love. A love that wants to eradicate the source of the challenge on that person’s behalf, and ‘make it all better’. But it could be that this response says more about my own needs than it does about the compassion I have. A greater compassion would perhaps be one that recognises the suffering and pain, shared by all human beings, and hopes that the other can be free of it one day.

‘Being free’ of suffering and pain is not the same thing as eradicating one particular focal point of suffering and pain. It is being free of the need to feel suffering and pain.

The more I do not take up the invitation of others to ‘make it all better’ for them, the greater compassion I will have for others. They will be able to go deeper into their suffering and pain, and may get closer to the point when the illusory nature of mental pain and suffering is laid bare for them.

Mental suffering and pain is not the same thing as mental injury or illness. The latter describe a form of physical suffering, while the former describes a mental construct over which the individual has complete control. (See the post: There is no healing process)

Further reading: Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth

Pain body choices

Each day presents a new challenge. As I recover from a long period of poor health, features of my character and habits bubble back to the surface. However, ‘recovered’ to me does not mean ‘just the same as before’. To make that equation would be to miss the great opportunity this has been to grow as a person.

So each day, and in increasing depth due to meditation practice, I am reminded of old behaviours that do not rest comfortably with who I am now, today. The strongest of these at the moment is attention seeking through stroke deprivation.

In psychology there is this concept of a ‘stroke’. We are socialised into what is a standard quotient of strokes for us as individuals when we grow up. There are positive and negative strokes. Positive strokes have a greater effect. But a stroke is a stroke at the end of the day.

If deprived of strokes, it is quite common to go on an emotional rampage and look for strokes – either positive or negative, it doesn’t matter – from others.

I am stroke deprived at the moment. My partner suffers from SAD and is emotionally absent. And in addition I am taking some intentional time away from some family members, thus depriving myself of strokes there. Strong emotions have been surfacing as a result. Attention seeking ones. ‘Why doesn’t anyone want to do what I want to do’. ‘Why won’t you spend time with me’. And even actions: getting up ridiculously early this morning with the intention of going in to work three hours early just to show the household that I am not getting the attention that I want.

Tolle coins a useful phrase: the ‘pain body‘. The body of pain which has a sense of time about it – mostly stuck in the past – and which we all carry around with us to a greater or larger extent, into the present moment and present day.

We can choose to feed this pain body, which needs more and more negativity from others in order to ‘feel alive’, or we can choose to starve it, coming back into ourselves, weakening its hold on us, and leading us to realise that our pain bodies are not who we are: they are simply a body of negative emotions possessing and controlling us.

So this morning, instead of stomping out of the house early to show that all is not well, to show that I am hurting and not getting what I want, I have had 20 minutes of tranquillity meditation, and a blog entry to write.

Apparently, each time we starve these emotions, their grip on us weakens. This is important for me. My pain body includes suicidal tendencies. I am faced with a choice, and the choice is a stark one. I can either keep giving in to the pain, letting it control me, going back to the dark places of the soul. Or I can slay my demons, cast out the pain, and each day get closer to a greater, wholesome, more fulfilling existence.

My pain body invites me to think that there is little point in living sometimes. ‘What’s the use’. Before there can be any other point to it, there first has to be simply the point of starving the pain out, the pain which leads me to think that way.

Life is a precious gift. In the Buddhist sense, to have incarnated as a sentient human being is a very rare gift. Who knows when or if it may come around again. There is only one opportunity to reach Nirvana; grab it while you can.

Nontheism: it’s not that there is no God

If we all have a mental place, a place in our minds, representing ‘others’, that is probably because it helps us to interact with other beings. When it comes to thinking of God, wanting to interact with God, it is all too easy to use that same mental place.

This is what James Alison, a Catholic theologian, means when he says that God is always the “other beyond the other”.

In other words, God is always beyond the mental place we have for God. Always beyond our own projections. God does not function like another human being, does not make decisions like we would, does not have needs and wants like we do, cannot be persuaded, cajoled, bargained with, or emotionally manipulated, as we once did with our parents.

What is not revealed to us of God cannot ever be known.

To have a mental place for the unknowable is dangerous. It is a void into which we fill our own psychological projections. A self-made image of God returns. And when faith and trust are given to that self-made image, a false religion has emerged.

In time, this false religion will fail anyone who believes in it. And this is because it is a belief (belief being the reserve of things we cannot know for certain) in a God that is more like a projected version of ourselves than it is an experience of divinity in a boundless, undefined, unlimited, empirical praxis.

Or in other words, we may be able to convince ourselves that we can strike a deal with God, have some kind of economy of favours going on, or demonstrate what we think is a spotless faith (which in reality is nothing more than manipulative behaviour), but it is all in vain. God does not function that way, and functioning that way ourselves does not lead to an experience of divinity. Quite the reverse, in fact. It obstructs the path.

The God that I once believed in only led to pain and suffering. I did not realise it at the time, but this is because the God I once believed in was – almost completely – a self-made image that I had a relationship with. I wanted God to be so real for me, that I ended up inventing one to have a relationship with. This God would never let anything bad happen to me; never let me come to any harm. And that was a return on my faithfulness.

Harm came in a big way. It was only a matter of time before it did. As a result, I thought I had lost my faith. I had indeed. Faith and belief went out of the window. The God I believed in disappeared too.

Eventually I came to realise that this faith, this belief, and this created God, were all blocks to a greater understanding. Once removed, that greater understanding was free to emerge on an experiential level.

Theism is a belief in an external god. All I can now know of God is that which is revealed to me; which feels like very very little and absolutely all of it, both at the same time. It is revealed to me because divinity is a part of me and of all beings. It is the source. It is the “one life force in the ever-present now” (Tolle). It is the source of all wisdom. Being all wisdom, when I experience it, it feels like having all wisdom myself. But of course that is to make a dualistic distinction between myself and divinity when there is only One. This is why it feels like very little and all of it both at the same time.

I tend to talk in very certain terms these days about my experiences. Like on this blog, for example. But all I can now be certain of is my experiences rather than articles of faith or belief. And that is where the certainty starts and stops. Beyond that, there is nothing I can ‘know for sure’ in terms of good science, intellectual positioning, or modernist or theological discourse.

Another way of putting this is that the source of all life has a life of its own. It is possible to talk in certain terms of an experience of the source of all life, and at the same time know that this is where certainty must end. Beyond the certainty of that basic experience, the only thing I can be sure of is that this energy, this One, this divinity, is a living thing. Unpredictable, untethered, beyond words, beyond time and space, beyond our dimensions.

But that basic experience of ‘something’ is all I need. When I am at one with the One, wisdom begins to penetrate my understanding of my own life position, my actions, my words. To call this ‘God’ is to begin to limit that experience.

And this is what marks out a nontheist from an atheist.

There is no healing process

There is no such thing as a healing ‘process’.

There is whole, or not whole.

When I am calm, centred, and have that natural sense of deep inner peace and stillness that every being can feel, that is wholeness. All of my pain, all of my problems, are vanished. There is no further to go. No retreat, no course, no therapy program could take me to this point of wholeness any better.

This does not mean that to have found some kind of spiritual experiential awakening means to have become a whole person. There might not be a healing process, but there is a process of integration.

Integrating that awesome peace into every area of life and every relationship is a craft that I have only just started on.

Why does the distinction matter? Surely there is not much in it. Healing process / integration process. Same thing?

Not the same. I have been to too many religious retreats and programs where the implication is that healing or personal wholeness from all previous damage is just one more step away – always just over the horizon.

If you look at it like a healing process, you may never know what healing feels like. All that it invites is for you to feel more and more sorrow for yourself.

Better to experience being a whole person first-hand – even if only for a few moments each day – and allow that light, joy, energy in through the window of your body and your mind, relationships, and all aspects of life, a little more each day.

This is upside-down to the way the world thinks. It is not in the interests of people who run churches or healing programs to teach that wholeness is already there, ready and waiting, for you to discover; that it starts with stopping processing; that our life journeys start best with discovering that we are divine amazing creatures already, and end with integrating that discovery into who we are and how we live. That is too much like being a graduate before you have studied the course. So how will the teacher get his pay?

A greedy teacher may be preventing you from discovering the truth for yourself.

Brother Ground spirit (First meditation journey)

I had a journey with the spirit of the ground. The ground, of course, wraps the whole earth, but it is not the Earth. It is the layer where life is most abundant. The spirit of the ground showed me its full extent – wrapping the circumference of the Earth: ‘the Earth is a cycle. A circle. Join me!’

I then looked to myself, and realised that I was something of a pillar of pain and form. The spirit’s call was a frequency sending shock waves through the pillar. The pillar turned from stone to water: I melted into the ground – like Amelie.

I could then sense myself joining up with everything that has life. The worms, beetles, roots. Everything walking or resting on the ground; even the sea creatures resting in the sea resting on the ground.

Overwhelmed by the compassion I felt, my pain being carried like this, I did not need to carry a single burden. It was not a sharing of my load – it was complete removal of it. The compassion caused me to weep. There, still me, but weeping into the ground.

‘Tell me’, my brain began to stir, ‘What happens to my pain when it goes?’ such questions our minds want to know. Preoccupation with the details; overthinking our way into madness, missing the light of life.

But the grounding was powerful enough to hold me as I thought this and graced an answer: ‘The pain turns into water, and travels deep down. Then it feeds the living things bringing sustenance to life.’

Towards the end of the journey, it started to rain. It was raining on me and I felt it as though I am the ground spirit. Falling on my horizontal body. Beautiful, relentless, urgent.

Each drop was a small hand plucking out the pain. There I was – still me, but in the ground, with my pain being plucked out by thousands of meticulous hands.

Not until all the pain had been swiftly and meticulously plucked out did I experience the rain as a soothing blessing.

This happened in a dimension beyond words, and the words came later. since then, I have been able to join with brother ground spirit on a regular basis.

Brother ground spirit now reminds me, sometimes daily, that if I surrender my burdens to him, then there is less for us both to carry.