Awareness gives us hope of another possibility

To say that the world is in a mess right now can seem like an understatement. Most of the globe is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic and many worry about the capacity of government to manage the situation. Many in the UK and elsewhere feel pessimistic about the future, both personally and for others and their country. Many are losing loved ones to the disease and/or losing their jobs. There are warnings that it is likely to get worse before it gets better. It can feel like this is the only possibility. In this situation it is easy to lose hope and to despair.

Losing hope, depression, despair – these things are a cycle that once we get locked into can be hard to get out of. We might give up on what can change for the better. Yet, hard though it can be to imagine, things do move on, and things can change. Nothing stays the same. Impermanance. All is in movement, often indiscernible, small, subtle shifts, or big changes. They can start to appear dimly on the horizon, like the beginnings of the dawn after a long, dark night, or they might be flashes of light, as the sun rises on a new day, and all can suddenly seem different. Despair is replaced by hope. We see things differently now.

Now we see but a poor reflection, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall fully know, even as I am fully known, wrote Paul to the Corinthians. He went on to say,  And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (Bible, 1, Corinthians, 13)

There is another possibility

Hard though it can be to see through the gloom, there is another possibility. There is always another possibility, where the light shines and we feel hopeful once again. We might not just see it at the moment. To get there, we need faith and hope, but our underlying driving force is love.

When caught up in despair, we are disconnected from faith, hope and love.

What’s important for the mindful self-aware is to notice when we are caught up. This is the crucial first step, to become aware. To get it. We might still feel caught up, but we know what we’re doing, and there’s probably a part of us that knows it doesn’t serve us.

Then we need to step back from being caught up. This is the act of will, a choice, to get off it, to let go of what “caught-upness” we’re into.

So, breathe deeply, breathe out long, and then breathe in deeply again, as it were down to the diaphragm, breathing down into your stomach, where the fears can dwell, and feel the release of tension and upset as we breathe out long and let go of all that stuff. Let it all go. Breathe it out and blow it away.

You might need to repeat that.

That’s when you can no longer be attached to being “caught up”, but instead be aware of that state as if you are the observer of it, that in a sense it is “not you” but just a state you got into. You’re now the witness of it.

Now you can rest as the witness, in the relaxed, released state of Being, knowing, as you are fully known.

Being fully aware

When we become aware, step back and become the witness, we are in the moment, rather than “in a state”. We can be present with our selves. Then we very likely can connect with love, our state of Being.

This is real freedom, what we have inside us, the “other possibility” that we’d lost touch with while “in a state”.

Then we are better able to support ourselves and then also better able to support others through this crisis. This is a far stronger state, when we are grounded and anchored in our Being, not getting attached, caught up and fearful, and very importantly not letting our buttons be pushed by others around us who aren’t so aligned.

Stay strong, everybody, and take great care.

Beyond the suffering mind lies love

In the last post, I quoted the following, “I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments” (From The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer). It can be scary, those empty moments. We can fill the day with all sorts of distractions, but it is often in the empty moments, like after sleeping or on awakening in the middle of the night, or in a walk by oneself, or while waiting, or at countless other moments, when a small voice inside almost like one’s conscience reminds us of that which troubles us. At the moment, for many, it is things around the threat from pandemic illness, but it might be something else. We might, despite all we know and all our best efforts, find ourselves descending into the familiar pit of our suffering. We might scramble to get out, but the sides keep falling in and there we are, stuck with our pain. That can be when one despairs.

These times come to test us. They can keep coming until we find a way to manage them. For some it can offer a way through to greater peace, but for others it just keeps coming. There can be many reasons. It might be our own personal process that we are working through but it might also be circumstances outside of us. In troubled times in the world we may also feel the pain of others and it can seem as if it is our own pain, when in fact we’re taking on others’ suffering. Now can be such a time.

Using awareness of suffering

This is where self awareness is important, to be able to enquire within as to what it’s about, and to be able to discriminate between our own pain and that of others.

I’ve suggested before that these “dark nights of the soul” can be very scary, but they can also be instructive. It can depend whether we are willing to embrace the situation and see it through to the important understanding that it can offer.

It is also be useful to be able to have ways to release ourselves from that which is troubling us, and each might find their own way to learn what the pain is about and how to release ourselves.

Understanding the mind

The Buddha said that Pain is certain. Suffering is optional. Humans suffer, unless or until they gain a mastery over it. Then they can be the observer of pain but not caught up in it. This is where understanding the mind is important.

Left to its own devices, the mind can take us all over the place. It’s very powerful. We can go to the heights of elation and the depths of despair. We can make up all sorts of things, about other people, ourselves, what’s going on. You name it. If we let it.

The mind is very creative. What we we think, we are. What we focus on, we draw to us. It’s the law of attraction, like a magnet. So, if you or I keep focusing on something, it’s more likely to happen. If we let it. Hence we have choice. It’s an option.

Use mindfulness to manage the mind

So, it’s important to stop. Use the skills of mindfulness

  1. So notice what you are paying attention to. Become mindful of it. Notice you are thinking a certain thing. Become aware of it.
  2. Step back from it. Put distance between the thought and you. This is where the will is important.
  3. Notice it, like you are now the observer of it. As we say, witness it. Be the witness of your ego at work, but not caught up in it.

You are not your thoughts. You, and I, are so much more than our thoughts, the “sweaty ego”.

When we step back and witness our thoughts, we have true power.

The other side of fear is love. That’s who we are, in whatever understanding you have of that.

When we step back and become the observer, we let can love in.

This is why these dark nights of the soul are so important, to know the space beyond suffering.

Then rest in the witness. Rest in the awareness that you are love.