I’ve been thinking about needs today and how often we think about what it is that we actually need. Or perhaps I should say, how little. I’m specifically referring to material posessions here; not emotional needs. That latter list is lengthy and should be taken care of.

There was a great article published by Forbes a couple months back looking at why we should spend our money on experiences, rather than material things. I encourage you to give it a peruse. Essentially, when we look for happiness in things, we consistently end up disappointed. We soon realise that that thing didn’t bring us the joy we had initially hoped for and so set the bar higher and keep on accumulating. We keep on with our dissatisfaction and the vicious cycle continues.

The problem is that by looking for happiness in material things, we’re forgetting that our exponential evolutionary growth means that it’s never long before something better is available on the market. When this happens, naturally our dated object is less appealing. And when this happens, we’re convinced we need to get our skates on and keep up with the latest and greatest. Otherwise, we’re missing out.

But what if all these posessions are burdens? I mean, think about it. The more ‘stuff’ we acquire, the more space we require to store it all. That means we need a bigger apartment or a bigger car which carries the impact of greater cost. We might even get ourselves into debt, all in the perpetual mission to keep putting stuff in our treasure chests.

There are two reasons we might purchase a material posession. The first is because we need it. This usually isn’t something we get excited about. It’s a basic. It’s not something we think will necessarily bring us happiness, but rather something that we know innately to be essential in our day-to-day lives. The second reason is that we want it. We don’t consider it an essential, but rather a luxury. Those are the two categories you see: basic & luxury. The basics are those things that allow us to live comfortably. The luxuries are things we can definitely do without, but we enjoy the idea of having in our lives and so we long for them.

I always find it surprising how little I find myself missing from home when I go away camping. If I have the kit to keep me warm and can zip open the door to beautiful surroundings, that’s enough. I don’t need the plethora of things that I keep around my apartment; I’m out in nature and this beats any number of throw pillows and decorative candles.

So what is it that you actually need? This varies from person to person. But ask yourself the question – particularly when you’re longing for a material item. What is it that you think that item will bring you? Will it satisfy what it is that you’re truly longing for? Often times you’ll hesitate and realise that there’s an ulterior motive behind trying to acquire that thing. Is it so that you don’t feel left out? Because at the end of the day all you really want is to feel accepted and feel a part of something? Is it because you think that by having that thing you’ll become a tiny bit more like a particular person you admire? Maybe you’re unhappy with the person you are and you think that you can somehow shop your way to a new you?

Firstly, you must stop. Apart from the essentials that you know you need, consider what it is that you truly want in your life and ask yourself honestly if that material posession will bring you it. Then, get rid of the stagnant, unwanted stuff that is lying around, collecting dust, not bringing you any happiness and take a fresh look around.

Without all the stuff in the way, you are able to see a bit more clearly. You may not like what you see, but it’s what’s there regardless. And the only way to change what is unwanted is to look it in the eye and understand it.

 

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I was sat on the train – a train I take regularly – and paused the music streaming through my headphones to notice the train attendant fighting with a passenger for the 75p he owed for his travels. His excuse was that he had no money on him and so couldn’t pay the fare. He was kicked off at the next stop.

She walked my way, looking worn down and saw that I had been watching the exchange. I turned up the corner of my mouth in sympathy and she went on to tell me her struggle with having to constantly battle with passengers who refused to pay for their journeys. Journeys costing less than £1. She said that train might be cancelled soon due to so many people trying to pull  a fast one and get away with travelling for free. The tragedy that would be!

This whole encounter got me thinking about responsibility and how so many of us refuse to take it. Some of us more often than others. I won’t lie – there are times I hope I’ll be able to commute for free. There’s the hope I’ll get lucky and be able to travel the one stop without paying. Because I could always use the extra cash, right? Couldn’t we all? But if an attendant appears, I buy a ticket. Why? Because I am choosing to use service they are providing. It’s helpful in getting me from A to B. I can’t expect to use it for free.

Trying to get something for free indicates a feeling of entitlment. A person feels they are able to have what they want at any expense. This is a selfish approach. And this is very different to a person who believes in abundance.

Let’s look at these two concepts. If you believe in abundance, you believe that there is enough to go around. You believe that there is enough for everyone to live a rich life and therefore you freely give because you know you have nothing to worry about. This automatically leads to kindness because there is no need to look out for yourself and get yourself ahead at the expense of another.

If you believe you are entitled, this means that you put ‘getting yourself ahead’ above all else. You believe that you should be able to get special privileges that others do not. You cannot believe this and believe in abundance. If you believed in abundance, you wouldn’t need to keep trying to get away with special treatment. This stems from feelings of scarcity. This stems from a person not getting what they needed early on in life.

Ironic, or not really at all? A person who grows up feeling deprived of basic needs as a child enters adolescence and adulthood having to look out for number one. If they don’t look out for themselves, no one else will, right? That’s the sad ‘truth’ they’ve been taught.

If a child has his or her needs met, he or she grows up believing the ‘truth’ that whatever they want or need will naturally come to them. He or she doesn’t need to go on the hunt for loopholes and special privileges to get those things.

So parenting is everything, as we know. It’s so much easier to learn the correct behaviour the first time round. But what about for so many of us that struggle with entitlement? What can we do to transform this negative behaviour into something more positive?

The first step is realising that your approach to life will always be reflected back at you. It’s called the law of attraction (though I know, I know, that phrase is so overused and vomit-inducing that you might struggle to read past it.)

Everything in this universe is made of energy. This energy is expressed in different forms and it just shifts between them . Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed in one way or another. Thanks Einstein.

An entitled approach instills negativity in those who suffer at your expense. An entitled approach emits vibrations of scarcity. And these resonate further than you might imagine. But just as you can create this negativity, you can also create positivity. That positivity can spread and transform into higher vibrations.

Give, and you’ll be amazed what you get back in return.

 

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Self_Teaspoon

The older I get, the more I realise the importance of self. Or perhaps I should say, my awareness of it. It started in my teenage years when I first realised that I was both my best friend and my biggest enemy. My self was what made me powerful and able to chase my dreams. It also rendered me powerless to my own fears and judgment.

Time passed and I hit my twenties. By this point I was forging my spiritual path. I started tending to the weeds that had sprouted throughout my being. I desired to understand from whence they came and how best to tackle them. It was the start of a mission to improve – a mission to heal past wounds. Since then I’ve sailed on peaks and troughs as I’ve learned more about this self of mine.

We’ve all got baggage. So. Much. Baggage. And it’s definitely true that becoming aware of said baggage is the first step to healing it. Learning what has made you the way you are is the way to make peace with yourself if you’re living in constant turmoil. You can learn how to nip bad habits in the bud. You can stop having the same negative relationships. You can gather the courage to chase your dreams. But there’s the risk of forming a kind of addiction to  self-help, much like becoming addicted to anything else. You can lose sight of why you’re doing it and end up heading straight towards the panic room.

It’s a bit like any goal you’re working towards. If you hold perfection as the end-point, you will forever bask in disappointment. Nothing is perfect, after all, and that applies to us. We are imperfect humans. But it’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that there’s always one more practice you can perform, one more therapy to try in an eternal quest to be the perfect version of yourself. This can quickly turn compassionate self-healing into a narcissistic obsession.

We know about the two aspects of self: the soul self and third-dimensional ego consciousness. The former is the pure light – the good. It could be said that this is the real you. The latter is the aspect that must be respected, but never allowed to take the wheel. It’s very easy to commence healing or any kind of spiritual growth, only to succumb to the ego and its intentions. This is fine; this is a learning process. But if not rectified, that’s when you face trouble.

If you’re prone to anxiety or depression or any other kind of claustrophobic mental health struggle, it’s very tempting to think that the answer is to go inwards. Your ego wants to try to protect itself. It wants to ensure its survival. It will conjure the idea that the world outside is a deadly place. It will tell you that nobody understands what you’re going through. It will tell you to keep yourself locked away.

When you shrink your life to the confines of your own home – or only the familiar – you are removing adventure. You are removing surroundings which require your attention, your focus. You know exactly where everything is. You know exactly what everything is. Therefore can live your small life on autopilot, never really having to pay attention to how you’re interacting with this world outside of you. The ego loves this.

This frees up so much time for you to think about yourself. You can then run yourself riot with negative thought patterns; anxiously picking as a bird does with its feathers. When there’s no external stimulation, your intelligent brain has to think about something, so it goes inside. It’s a dog chewing on furniture.

Taking care of thy self is essential. It is what frees us. It is what allows us to do our best work. But with that we must realise that life isn’t just about us as individuals. Life is about the relationships we make while we’re on this earth. If we glance back at our memories, we hold closest those where we connected with others or experienced awe and beauty and captivation. These are external stimuli which we interact with. This is the point of it all. This is why we are here.

If you notice certain patterns or triggers in your life that are stemming from an unaddressed wound, use introspection to heal. But also know that this healing must occur so that you can resume your position in the world at large. We don’t help ourselves to forever remain isolated, but rather so we can have meaningful connection to others. You heal the inside so you can partake in the outside. Self help used within this context won’t ever be able to swallow you up.

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music

There’s a place I like to go when I want to soak in the creativity. It’s a bar that plays host to a midweek jam session. You can get involved as much or as little as you like.

I got dragged along by my boyfriend many moons ago. He’s a musician and as this place is every musician’s dream, it’s exactly the kind of place he likes to loiter. I’m not a musician in the obvious sense, but I am a great lover of music. Music of all kinds. This place is a hub of expression and positive energy for any creative soul and so I go. And I listen to the music. Even though I don’t perform, I like the way I feel while I’m there. I relish the atmosphere. It is electric.

Sometimes I question if I was sent to this planet simply to feel. I’m on a lifelong mission to heal and accept every part of myself and I must admit I’m addicted to raw emotion – positive or negative. Part of why I started this blog is to bring awareness to emotion: question why we feel the things we do. And be part of the consciousness movement.

I go to these jam sessions and it’s as though the room is an explosion of colour: auras shining so brightly from all of those connected inside it that you can’t possibly feel excluded. You can’t feel lonely in there. You also can’t think about anything other than what’s going on. The music, the dancing, the sweaty bodies and the smiles captivate all the senses and have you fully present. You can’t have problems while you’re there. There’s no energy spent on the bad stuff.

Sometimes I wonder about the people I see there. I try to imagine the lives of those that I don’t speak to. I wonder how many of them live their day lives like do these after hours jam sessions. Are they creative like this always? Or rather, is this the one place where they can express themselves – stark contrast to their everyday lives?

This brings me to the idea of alter egos. We all have a particular persona that we’re comfortable displaying to the masses and often another that we reserve for only our closest amigos. And why are things as such? No, we don’t all suffer from multiple-personality disorders. It’s rather a defense mechanism for one, followed secondly by unspoken societal norms.

You are inevitably going to behave differently around someone you have a lot in common with or someone you’ve known for years to somebody you’ve just met or share little with. But if there’s one thing that warms the heart, it’s seeing a group of people entirely in their element. Seeing a collection of kindred souls and realising that everyone truly does have a niche in this world is nice to bear witness to.

So that’s what I get out of these jam sessions. Even though I’m not a musician there to make sweet tunes with a bunch of strangers, I get a fuzzy heart seeing a bunch of people I don’t know connect to one another. It’s also watching people and being able to see straight into their souls, straight into source.

Small communities have the luxury of being able to be composed of a tribe of sorts; a collection of people all similar in values and thus entirely accepting of one another. And comfortable around one another. But start trying to combine tribes and you’ve got murky waters.

This is essentially what happens in  a city. A city is a collection of pockets – of niches. But with everyone in the city needing to coexist and pursue his or her own missions, there needs to be a middle ground. And thus political correctness is born. Political correctness gives rise to the idea of not wanting to offend anyone, not wanting to ostracize anyone. I think harmony is a great thing, obviously. I think it’s wonderful that a city be all-encompassing in terms of who is considered an acceptable member of society. But with this comes restriction.

What I mean is, a city full of a million souls all entirely different in terms of how they like to live their lives, what their values are and so on and so forth must all find a middle ground. Therefore public zones can also be deemed ‘robot zones’. I’m talking about zones where only particular kinds of behaviour, appearance and conversation are welcomed with open arms.

So there’s give and take in a city. You might find your best friend because you moved there, but you might be sacrificing some of your time playing slave to social conditioning and conditions in return. It’s out in the small town and running the risk of stagnancy, or in the metropolis and mild creative suffocation. Where is nirvana? Does nirvana exist?

Photo: Flickr

 

hiraeth

Hiraeth: the hunger, the pining, the longing, the searching, the surge of sadness from the separation of what once was.

Hiraeth is a beautiful welsh word used to describe the longing for a time and place that hover somewhere in the red shift behind us. We all know this feeling, but some of us will choose to bask in its crippling aura for longer than others.

Hiraeth is longing for a time in your life that maybe felt easier. Maybe it was a time you had a person or thing that has since left your side. Maybe it was a time that your surroundings felt right. They may have felt home-like. Often we think that if we just try harder to get those things back that we’ll be content again, whole again even. But the truth is that whilst that lifestyle with all its embellishments worked for us at one time in our lives, in the past is where it must remain. If we were meant to be experiencing those circumstances we’re pining for in the present, we would be. We therefore would not feel the absence of them. But we do…

When we miss the past, we’re missing the comfort of what is known. It’s easy to look back and see the totality of your life – the entire perimeter and everything within it. That is a comfortable vision to behold. We’re looking back at an old version of ourselves. In the present is where the expansion is happening every moment. Any outcome goes and that can be what makes mindfulness so difficult to strive for. It’s tempting to let your mind reside where it feels comfortable: what is known in its entirety. Mystery can be unsettling.

The reason hiraeth is so crippling is that it is not merely a place you can move back to, a partner you can reconcile your relationship with or whatever other aspect of your life you long for. It was a combination of who you were at the time and how all the people and places in your life fit into it. As we evolve on our own life paths, so do our surroundings, our peers and our circumstances. We can only go forward. As the clock continues to tick and we fly through space, we are ever-evolving.

To feel hiraeth is to resist what is happening in your life because to you the past seems more appealing. Let yourself feel it briefly and intermittently and it can cause a surge of happiness at those wonderful experiences you have had. This is the beauty of memory. Let yourself live there full-time and you will be miserable. This is because you are a) rejecting the possibility of something better happening because your eyes are closed to the present and b) unappreciative of the now.

We all know somebody stuck in the past. I’ve certainly been that person myself. But rose-tinted glasses are a dangerous accessory, masking the trials and tribulations of the past with the warmth of the ‘ups’ only. It’s easy to forget about the struggles and focus only on the good. But in reality you had your hardships back then just like you do now.

To dissipate the lingering of hiraeth, you must first accept that everything happening in your life right now is happening because it is meant to. It is all that there is. That is not to say this is the way things must always be; you can certainly pull back in elements of a time in your past that are preferable. But the only way to do so is to accept what is present in its entirety.

Photo: Flickr