Dealing with Past Guilt

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Every once in a while, my mind decides to take a tour of some of my past experiences and the process is quite interesting.

One recurrent theme that shows up is guilt. Guilt for not being a gentle friend, guilt for misinterpreting situations and responding erratically to them, guilt for showing profound immaturity in relationships, guilt in different shapes and sizes.

I’m very used to it by now and I found a couple of ways that helped me deal with these periodic flashbacks. Here are two practices that can support us to find peace even within the perceived confinement of guilt.

1. Observing the process without judgement.

Long ago, I’ve realised that our mind has a personality of its own and it doesn’t quite overlap our truest nature. The mind can go crazy, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Not when we can observe what is going on impartially. The good news is that gaining that impartial perspective is not that difficult. All it takes is realising when the mind goes astray and taking a step back to observe what is happening. If we don’t board that train, it will soon move away from us and fade into the unknown.

2. Seeing what is the underlying need surfacing from these thoughts.

While observing what instances come back from the close or distant past, it can be helpful to try and pinpoint what it is that our mind is trying to achieve by reliving what had already happened. For example, I learnt that by resurfacing past experiences related to guilt, my mind is working out some issues of inadequacy. Basically, I am dealing with a deep-seated belief that I am not good enough. While reliving those moments, my mind is trying to fix them by designing better alternative scenarios and assessing how that impacts my emotions. Does it make me feel better? If I don’t stay mindful, I might think it does, at least for a split second. And then, I’ll continue in order to get another one of those precious seconds where I feel that I am good enough because I made a better choice. Once I identified what the mind is trying to achieve, there is more room for becoming aware that the whole process is nothing but a chimera. It does not offer any real positive outcome, solutions or sustainable comfort.

Many of us have those moments when we reminisce our past and realise we could have done or been better. But that noble drive has to be brought to our present reality into the moment of creation. We are creating our life with every breath and the present moment invites us to use all our prior experiences and turn them into wisdom so we can expand our life into the highest version available at the current point in time.

 

 

 

 

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The Value of Moments

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I’ve been blessed to meet lots of people who have found their way. They haven’t reached their destination, but they have learned how to travel. They have also learned how to use their inner guiding system. They have inspired me in ways I couldn’t always grasp. When you are in the presence of someone who holds a deeper kind of wisdom, transformation occurs; often without us even being aware of it.

For me, as for many others, there is a before and an after. If I were to oversimplify it, I would describe it as life before and after I discovered how to be happy. Yet, happiness doesn’t  fully capture what I am experiencing now. I learned that happiness is not the purpose of us being alive. Awareness is. There is infinite awareness to be gained in every moment. The purpose is not to get to the bottom of the sack, but to receive the gifts of every instant life offers.

Thinking of how my awareness of life has improved over the years, I realised there are a series of lessons I’ve learned. Once I could deeply grasp their meaning, my inner world started to change.

All these lessons were equally important and they came at different times. I treasure them all and I couldn’t easily find a hierarchy of meaningfulness. These realisations were puzzle pieces that found their place in the tapestry of life.

My perception of life has dramatically improved once I’ve understood how to:

Let moments play themselves out. 

We often have an involuntary need for things to go our way. Everything that doesn’t is met with strong resistance. This resistance can manifest as anger, fear, anxiety, worry, panic, control, numbness, loss of interest, search for distractions and so many other ways. It’s an automatic process and we display this pattern without reflecting what it could mean or if there is a better way.

I’ve come to learn that a better alternative is to let that uncomfortable moment that opposes what we desire play itself out. Observe it with curiosity and awareness. See where it leads and what it teaches you. Notice why it makes you uncomfortable and how your mind will try to overpower what is being displayed. Will it tell you to fight back? Will it tell you to run and hide? Will it keep you awake at night?

Notice yourself in the midst of chaos and let that intense moment play itself out while observing your role in it. What is your contribution to that distressful moment? Go deeper, beyond your brain chatter and knee-jerk reactions. If you do react, observe that, like a theatre performance. Know that you are not your reactions, but the spectator sitting still and enjoying the display with intrigued curiosity.

We are not the moment, we are not what we say and do, we are not what we are perceived to be. We are everything that lies beyond life itself. The best part is not being able to define what we are, while always knowing we are MORE, and more, and more.

We are more than we could imagine, grasp or capture. So, let us not overlap moments and their meanings with our perennial nature. We are not the moment, we are the observers of the moment.

Let that moment play itself out and be grateful for its gifts. Make a habit out of taking a step back to observe the spectacle of life. While it lasts.

 

Authentic and Aware

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To continue our conversation started in the previous post where I brought up the topic of “unique compatibility“, I would like to move the discussion in a slightly different direction.

I previously mentioned that finding a uniquely compatible partner opens us up to a new kind of reality. A world where it feels that our dreams can miraculously come true. Yet, all good things happen when we are ready to receive them. To find that “right” partner and to gain access to the world of our dreams, we have to shift our attention inwards – from whom we desire to who we really are. To attract the unique kind of romantic love that we deserve, we have to first learn to be authentic and aware.

It is close to impossible to even begin to identify someone uniquely compatible if we have yet to gain an ability to understand ourselves and how we’ve created our present reality. If we still blame exterior circumstances and people for our unhappiness, it’s unlikely that we are ready to distinguish that unique shade which blends perfectly with our true colours. Until we are able to embrace ourselves fully, honestly and lovingly, finding a romantic partner should come second.

For many of us, putting up a front has become our second nature. We polish that front every single day and we hide behind it while making some of the most important decisions of our lives. When we lose our motivation to maintain that front, we get confused about why things are not working out for us anymore. After a while, people around us start requesting to see that person we said we were. We try to shift things in the direction that we want, but like everything else, that direction doesn’t feel real any longer. We push forward in trying to maintain that dream alive, but it feels impossible. We are left with limited choices. Many become resigned, others turn bitter. A lucky few become better.

To be deeply and authentically ourselves is what we came into this life for. Each and every one of us is absolutely and undeniably unique. We may have things in common and we may have similar experiences, but our viewpoint is doubtlessly singular. Our point of awareness is what distinguishes us and gives us a purpose. We are on a divine pursuit to get in touch with our truest and purest selves. Nothing, really nothing, is more important than this mystical quest, but somehow we seem to have forgotten that. Our quests have become distorted. We seek and rush to make things happen around us as if that would ever be enough. All the while, what do we really know about ourselves? We know that we want things and that we would do anything to get them. We’ve been taught that satisfying our wants would bring some sort of satisfaction. The need to quench wanting’s thirst drives us to make misplaced choices which end up haunting us for years. The irritating husband/wife, the horrible workplace, the fake friends – this is how stereotypes are born. Once we let go of our authenticity, we submerge in an inauthentic reality.

Before we can even begin to envision how miraculous it would be to be with the person of our dreams, let’s take a step back and reflect if we are ready. Because there is definitely a time when we will be ready. It will be the point when we will be able to look in wonderment at how we have weaved even the tinniest thread that makes up our lives’ narrative. At how we have had the steering wheel all along and how life has been there to offer us everything we have asked for. At how each moment is anew and filled to the brim with possibilities waiting to be embraced. It’s been us all along. Once we become aware, we can finally start having a deep and honest conversation with life. We will be able to hear, see and feel so much more of what life has to show us. That is the point of magical conversion to an upgraded version of reality. The one that is “uniquely compatible” with us. To find that “special someone” in your life, be the special you that you were always meant to be.

Uniquely Compatible – A New Concept

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In my previous post, How To Make a Relationship Work, I offered my view on why many couples seem to be facing issues in their relationships. In fact, there is only one main indicator that sets the tune of how the relationship will progress and it is obvious from the very start, if we are willing to see it. In the same post, I brought up the topic of noticing the emergence or lack of a particular kind of “core connection” which can guarantee the success or failure of a relationship.

Before we continue, I would like to highlight that I don’t truly believe in the word failure as all experiences we are faced with are important and valuable. What we sometimes deem as failure may in fact be a very necessary lesson that will catapult us to a more enhanced perception of life. There is no such thing as failure, yet this word can help us to differentiate between what we wish to create in our lives and what we do not. The events that we may have labelled as “failure” are simply that which we do not desire to experience.

To many, the successfulness of a relationship is determined, at least for a while, by what in my previous post I called “structure” of the partnership. Structure may be given by labeling, expectations, making commitments, doing things together, marriage, having children etc. These are all facts that we have learned to define as “relationship”. At the start of the relationship, our attention is very much focused on these aspects and on determining if they are present or not. Lack of some or most of these aspects leads one to conclude the relationship may in fact be unsuccessful.

If we take a closer look at those facts we search for when determining the potentiality of a romantic partnership, we may notice that most of them have to do with form. Our focus zooms in on details that presume “doingness” and external aspects. We assume that external actions such as committing, verbalising, signing a paper etc. are an indication of internal desires. We have this sort of conditioning and this is what prevents us from evaluating the deeper expressions of potential in a relationship.

Conditioning is also what makes us pay attention to what we were taught compatibility means. In the past, at least for me, compatibility meant having things in common. I was eyeing traits such as being sociable, extroverted, open-minded, someone with common hobbies etc. Some couples talk about liking the same music, being able to talk openly, having fun together. Other people say that opposites attract and that being at opposite ends of the spectrum will make a romantic partnership work. All these things have a significance, but they are by no means an indicator of relationship successfulness.

So, how do we identify if a person is right for us? In my previous post, I brought up the concept of “core connection”. I would now like to tie this concept to the idea of, not compatibility, but unique compatibility. What I call “unique compatibility” has nothing to do with having things in common and other notions that are associated with being compatible in a relationship. The usual ideas about compatibility have to do with thinking and logic. If we both (….), then it means it should work. In contrast, unique compatibility can’t be determined using logic. Moreover, logic can push us away from someone uniquely compatible as the usual signs are just not there.

To determine if we have a unique compatibility with someone we are interested in, we have to take a step back from what we think about ourselves and about the other person involved. By taking a step back I mean becoming neutral. This would require a deliberate act of setting aside intentions, expectations and wishful thinking. It would also imply distancing ourselves from our “persona”. After attending this process of shedding away our filters, we can enter a process of observation. What we need to look out for in our observational state is how we feel about this person next to us. Do we feel safe, do we feel good and at ease? Or do we feel pleasantly anxious, always wondering what they are thinking about us, trying to guess what is the right thing to say or do? How do we feel after we walk away from this person? Do we feel happy and able to focus on whatever we need to do? Or do we feel restless, waiting for a sign from them and weaving lots of “plots”on how this story might unravel?

I have come to learn, with total amazement, that what we have been taught to be signs of being madly in love are in fact trigger alarms that we are in the presence of someone we are not meant to be with. Feeling nervous, tightening of the stomach muscles (butterflies), sweats, overthinking mind, losing our grip of ourselves, thrill, hyped up state, loss of focus, inability to stop thinking and talking about that person or what is going on, and many other such signs of “being in love”, are in fact major trigger alarms that the potential relationship will not work. These signs are, in fact, our body and mind reacting to “danger”.

If we are in the presence of someone we are “uniquely compatible” with, we might experience feeling relaxed, feeling like we can be ourselves without trying to constantly adapt, being able to think, being able to listen and really hear the person next to us. Our mind is present, interested and engaged. We might feel so relaxed that we start thinking that we are in the presence of a good friend, not someone we are in love with. Once we part with this person, we have a sense of safety and peace. We have no thoughts that create expectations, anticipation or ardent desire. We often don’t set intentions about what we wish to happen and we maintain a sense of curiosity about how things will evolve. Compare expectation with curiosity.

Being next to someone we are uniquely compatible with, we might feel that the other person is very “present”. Present in conversation and present when we are not together. That person might look for us at just the right time which doesn’t create excitement, but feels like a confirmation of that presence we felt all the while which brings a sense of joy.

In a uniquely compatible relationship, things move slowly and there’s no need to rush for both parties. That sense of curiosity about this synchronous connection leads things in a positive direction without anyone pushing for anything. There’s a sense of flow and support from the outside environment. Things fall into place which enhances the curiosity and the ability to let go of control. Here’s a big one – the need for control is non-existent. The more we let go, the easier things fall into place.

Feelings such as safety, ease, peace, freedom, gentleness, knowing, quiet curiosity, synchronicity, reassurance are what make up the “core connection” we previously spoke of. I called it core connection because if feels like an energy blend that is “right”. It’s as if it’s flowing from one person to the other, creating a very pleasant fusion. This fusion is mysterious and inexplicable. No amount of rationalising can capture its substance. Even as we are away from our partner or potential partner, we maintain that energy signature around us being able to feel that person in a very reassuring way.

The “structure” of the relationship, which was mentioned earlier, emerges in a natural progression and bears no high significance to the connection itself. Commitments are not a burden, marriage doesn’t have a weight in itself and having children is not a given. All those elements may or may not be present, but whatever the case, the connection stands strong without wavering.

When some of my friends share their personal adventures with romantic relationships, I often hear questions such as, “How can I tell if this is really going to work? I really like her, but I’m not sure if I should push this forward.” Followed by a long list of pros and cons. Followed by a number of interpretations of simple acts such as how long has it been since she messaged. Followed by ups and then by downs. There’s a key moment right there – not knowing from the very start. Doubting it. It’s not easy to explain without oversimplifying it, but when you are in the presence of someone uniquely compatible, that doubt won’t be there. That trepidation, fretting, edge, high is not there either. It’s a totally different feel. At the start of the usual relationships, we want to know if it’s going to work out and that is on our mind a lot, but when we are uniquely compatible with someone, we inexplicably just know.

Being with a uniquely compatible partner is life-changing. Good things unfold easily, there’s a sense of feeling supported and things fall into place naturally. Circumstances change around us, but there is no fear and no doubt looming about. Other aspects of our lives take a new turn and we might find ourselves in a new job, a new community or tackling a new endeavour that we never expected to engage in. Events around us might not always be seamless, but we learn to approach them from a place of trust and safety. For finding that uniquely compatible partner opens a new doorway to how life operates, revealing a new unknown dimension – a space of extraordinary manifestations, a world of dreams come true.

How To Make a Relationship Work

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Life is hard.

School is hard. Work is hard. Relationships are hard. Marriages are hard. Parenthood is hard. Old age is hard.

This seems to be the answer to everything. This is the kind of feedback we receive while growing up, while asking questions, while trying to put together the scattered puzzle pieces of our journey through life.

We are so used to this kind of information that we make it into a deep-seated belief which becomes the reality around us.

Is it true though? Before we give the obvious answer and cite examples on why life is hard, let’s not look at the evidence. Interpreting the evidence is based on belief systems. Let’s objectively consider, is life in itself hard? Or is it our actions and interpretations of our self-created outcomes that make it so?

It took me long enough, but once I realised that we are the creators, observers and interpreters of our own lives, many beliefs that circulate within our common knowledge have loosened their grip. When we stop feeding distorted notions on how life works, we cease to be limited by them. Life is hard only because we think it’s supposed to be hard.

Likewise, relationships are hard only because we assume they are supposed to be hard and we make them difficult through our misguided choices based on twisted belief systems.

As we become adults and act on our need for romantic human connection, we make choices that lay the foundation of a long series of events which will prove that relationships are tough. Once we’ve gotten to the point where red flags start popping up, despite the evidence, we refuse to doubt our choices since we are told that things are supposed to be as such and yes, it’s damn tough, but what else did we expect? Thus, we continue to make the best of the worst and to weave lots of stories to make sense of our reality. We share these stories every occasion we get and feed on each other’s illusions.

What is the alternative though? Is there even an alternative? If there’s one, why isn’t anyone talking about it?

There is an alternative. We can have relationships that work. Relationships can be uniquely perfect. Relationships can be easy, deep and blissful.

We’re evolving. We’ve been through a lot. It’s time to evolve further. It’s time to shift our perspective in a new direction that will actually work for us, not against us.

There are so many reasons why we get into relationships that don’t work. Everyone talks about those reasons and so many people are trying to mend things constantly. There’s an influx of smart articles that offer steps to fix relationships. There’s nothing wrong with fixing things, but at what cost? What price are we willing to pay to protect our house of cards?

It cost me years to understand a simple, but deep truth. A successful relationship is built on a deep preexisting connection. We are drawn to people in many ways and there are many types of connections. But finding a uniquely compatible partner to start a romantic relationship with requires identifying a very particular kind of connection.

Once that unique connection is in place, there is nothing else we need to do to make the relationship “work”. The relationship happens naturally, it simply is what it is without us having to put in any effort to give it a structure and make it into something.

If we stop to reflect for a while, we might notice that we tend to do things to build something that we have defined as “relationship”. We spend more time together, we share intimacy and some forms of commitment. All the while, we see some gaps, things don’t feel quite right and that’s when we go into fixing mode. We start adjusting ourselves and we start expecting our partner to adjust too. No matter how many fittings we make, things don’t really get easier. In a way, the connection is simply not there and we have to constantly do something and readjust to keep its structure in place. There is structure, but there is no core.

What is the core then? The core is the inherent connection that exists regardless of the structure. Very often, our focus is directed on sustaining the structure without paying any heed to the core connection which may not even be there to begin with. The absence of the distinctive nuclear bond is a clear indicator of the onset of a long series of upcoming relationship struggles.

We can perhaps begin to perceive why so many relationships are hard. What most couples do is they try to design and preserve the structure of the relationship without considering the authenticity of what bonds them together. A vast majority of “How To” articles out there are in actuality teaching how to keep on adding to that structure so we don’t let if fall apart. We are hooked on that because the idea of “falling apart” is understandably horrifying. We thus continue building on a relationship that is, in a sense, void. Not of love, as love has many forms. Yet, void of that unique and authentic connection that guarantees a successful romantic partnership.

Most wonder, are we naive to imagine there is something better out there? Are we too idealistic or perhaps superficial? Is this ludicrous thought of being purely happy by someone’s side a nonsensical aberration?

I believe that while journeying through life we learn a lot and at some pit stops we find ourselves with many faults. But, I undoubtedly know that it is not naivety, idealism, superficiality or madness that makes us hope that we can find that someone who can uniquely and inexplicably be an exclusive fit for us. To ready ourselves for that extraordinary encounter, we might be required to switch paths and walk in unknown territory. We might have to exit our house of cards and walk away while watching years of hard work fall apart. But together with the shattered abode, our greatest fear will vanquish too, leaving behind a gorgeous bright sky where we will be able to breathe deeply as ourselves. No self-deceit, no illusions.

Once we are able to learn how to break free from the shell we’ve built around us and make more authentic choices, those puzzle pieces that seemed scattered will miraculously rearrange themselves into a new unique canvas. Once we stop trying to make believe and put so much effort into sustaining what is not there for fear of accepting our truth, everything will change for the better.  Life no longer seems hard when there’s clarity in understanding our own choices and pro-activeness in improving our circumstances. Most aspects of our lives will be elevated and, the most important ones – our relationship with ourselves, our romantic partnership and our connection to others – will flourish in unexpected ways.

The Bothersome Playmate

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There was a time in my life when many things felt like a struggle. Being myself was the biggest one. There was incessant longing, confusion and restlessness. Life feels so much more different now and I am thankful for that every day.

Although I am now able to tackle most personal challenges positively, there is one loyal comrade that has faithfully stuck around, spicing things up when it gets too comfortable. We meet often, but our encounters have somehow retained the element of the unexpected. We have co-existed through time in a relationship that has shifted from unhealthy co-dependency to a more peaceful, resigned acceptance. FEAR, the one element deeply embedded in the tapestry of my life that will lend a helping hand whenever it is not called upon.

It took me a large portion of my life to figure out that most of what we deem negative stems from fear and from a lack of understanding of how it shapes us.

I used to think judgement was my great sin that needed proper handling and lots of attention. Whenever I became unhappy or started over-analysing those around me, I knew it stemmed from judgement. Judgement got bashed and trashed, and sent to a corner to think about its actions. But there came a point when I had to question where judgement itself originated from.

Although it retains a hopeful message, “Love is the answer” is by now a platitude. But I think it’s important to look at the other side of the coin when things get rough and see that very often fear presents the answer instead. The former asks us to be more without giving us the map, while the latter shows us the way within the intricate labyrinth of our inner reality.

On my own journey, I came to see how fear is a supreme driving factor, yet it lies underneath, disguised in many forms. Most of the time, why certain fears are present in our structure is a mystery and it’s not always possible to get to the bottom of the vast pit. But one thing that undoubtedly works like magic is shining the light of awareness on the secret mechanics of how fear drives us.

All it takes is saying, “Oh, hello, my friend. You are here, I see you.” The intensity of whatever we are feeling decreases instantly and we are able to become more neutral, more objective, more impartial, more detached. Whatever reasons we think drive us, take a new paler shade and we can take a step back to make better choices for each moment.

Fear is not to be hated, denied or put aside. Fear is an ally on our journey through life; a reliable source of personal revelations and purpose.

Today, I invite you to take a gentle step back and start observing how fear shapes your life, and how you can turn it into a valuable, even if bothersome, playmate.

 

Beyond the Appearance of Life

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My motivation for creating this sharing space was the change that has shifted my perspective on life.

I often talk about happiness because using this word makes it easier to put my point across, but what I’m experiencing now is wider and deeper than happiness.

In fact, I think that when we refer to happiness we talk about an idea. An idea that we hold in our minds – for a time – and that we appreciate – for a while – when it materialises in reality.

Although our mind is a great tool, what I want to share here goes beyond ideas – and beyond happiness, in this sense.

When I woke up this morning, I was at peace. My mind started being flooded with thoughts about what I was going to do and I just lay there observing all of them. There was noise, excitement, worry, denial, wishful thinking – everything crammed up, waiting for me to choose one or more.

I chose none, while telling my mind, “We’ll see.” I prepared breakfast and, once more, I stopped and told myself, “This is it.”

THIS is life.

It wouldn’t be easy to define what “This” means.

The closest I always get is when I refer to Awareness. I prefer Awareness to happiness or peace, because Awareness can encompass both, as well as all the other things all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum.

Awareness is what guides me to observe my thoughts, to put them away for a moment, to focus on what I am doing now, to know that whatever I choose for each moment is equally significant in a myriad of different ways.

Along this path of change that I travelled on, I slowly learned to let go of looking forward to a future moment because, although that future moment came, my awareness of it never did. Not until I chose to stay aware, in awareness.

As I’ve mentioned before in my previous post, life might not always offer highs and I stopped looking for them – they were all in my mind and my mind’s thirst was never quenched. There were too many variables and a never-ending search.

Life was waiting for me to notice it, from a space beyond my mind, my ideas, my needs and wants; beyond joy and sadness; beyond the appearance of “life”.

Beyond the appearance of life is where we are, seeing and experiencing, always present, undying and aware.