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KNOWING vs. BELIEVING

A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

UNBLOCKING THE LOGJAM

In my last post I wrote about rising above f*ck-it mode, noticing the wake-up calls Life is delivering and taking the first step to do something in response to the wake-ups.  Although that might be an important step, keeping up the momentum and restoring the flow in your life is just as important.

The thing with f*ck-it mode is that it tends to create a logjam in your life.  What do we know about logjams?  Well, there are lots of logs, all trying to pass through a bottleneck, but so many are trying to do so at the same time that they all contribute to making each other stuck with a resultant dam building up behind the logs.  If the dam gets big enough, eventually its sheer volume and pressure is going to burst, flooding and causing damage to the surrounding area.

Now transfer the metaphor to your life.  Let the logs represent obstacles to moving forward.  Your internal dialogue presents the obstacles which get in the way of progress: "I'm too tired; it's too hard; it's not working; I feel too weak; I don't have enough time for this; It's broken; I have other things to do; It costs too much" and so on.  Put enough of those logs in your own way and they will create such a jam in your life that there will soon appear to be no way through.  The trouble is, the dam will keep building up until eventually it bursts with your symptoms of stress, inactivity or ill health.

That's why the first step is important: Remove the first log. For instance: do some exercise; cut down on your sugar intake; deal with the first chore; take the initiative to fix the relationship; and so on.  But don't for a moment think that that step on its own will get the logs down the river and the water flowing again.  You need to keep on removing logs so they can't pile up again and so that they drift down the stream in a way which makes it easy to deal with them one at a time rather than all at once.

We are looking for flow in our lives:  Chi, as it is called in some Eastern traditions, is a universal energy flow.  It applies to internal energies and to buildings, as in feng shui.  It is that energy that we want for our lives.

In the example I gave in my last posting, I did a yoga session as a first step to unblocking my inactivity.  That wasn't enough, however, to get the Chi fully flowing, it was necessary for me to do some more exercise the next day, start being mindful again of what and how much was going in my mouth, re-engage with a meditation practice and plan and set about dealing with each thing on my to do list in a methodical and thoughtful manner.  And do all of this because that's what I choose in my life, rather than because I feel fearful of the consequences of not doing so.

Take a look at your logs.  Are they piling up and blocking the flow of your life?  Start dislodging them thoughtfully and methodically and feel the Chi start to flow again.

Friday, 20 February 2015

RISING ABOVE F*CK-IT MODE

The rot started to set in about three weeks ago.  I had been working well to shed some of my surplus-to-requirements festive season weight gain, exercising daily, watching my diet and seeing daily weight changes generally headed in the right direction.

Then, doing something inconsequential, I tweaked a moving part in my lower back and put myself largely out of action for a week. Before I could get back on the path of righteousness, a visit to the beautiful Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo intervened, providing copious quantities of their vegetarian meals and famous steamed puddings and custard.  This was followed shortly by a stay at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town for a few days which presented the coup de grace to my efforts at rehabilitation, meaning that all of January's good work had been undone.  

Over about the same period all efforts at sorting out an unusual plethora of home IT and DIY issues, on which I generally pride myself, came to nought.  Add to that days of administrative stuff at the office putting me way behind with my professional work and I found myself slumped into F*ck-it mode.

This is a place in which I rarely find myself, but it usually follows on multiple frustrations and my inability to understand what it is that Life wants me to learn from this cr*p.  F*ck-it mode gives me full permission then to indulge myself as much as I like in huffing and puffing, eating what I like, giving a finger to exercise and generally thinking that Life's a bitch.  (Blogs tend to dry up then as well.)

Rising above it usually requires me to get a wake-up call.  My body is pretty good at that, responding in a manner I don't much like, either on the scales, trying to get into my clothing or climbing a flight of stairs.  A pile of work on the edge of my desk and clients asking when their agreements will be ready isn't a bad wake-up either, as is limited (or no) internet connectivity at home.  Life is good that way: it gives truly helpful messages to which we can respond positively or we can stay in f*ck-it mode until the wake-up calls get bigger and nastier.

So, I am pleased (and a bit sanctimonious) to report that I took the first remedial steps yesterday evening, taking on an hour and a bit of painful Astanga yoga in my Maputo hotel room, incentivised by a view across the sea to Inhaca Island and the prospect of closing my belt to its pre-New Year notch.

The response, however, needs to be from a place of choice rather than a place of survival, because the latter will eventually drive you back to f*ck it mode.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

BEHEADING: THE NEW NORMAL?

Is it just me or does everyone feel appalled, desperate and outraged by #ISIS behaviour towards its captives?  Somehow or other I have become largely numbed out to their acts of war, but every time I hear of another beheading I feel sick to my core.

Despite this, I realised last week how normal the news of beheading has been becoming to me when I felt sicker still at the news of the execution of the Jordanian pilot by immolation (in a cage, for good measure).  Without getting into another RFO about the inhumanity of that particular act, I find myself feeling troubled by newspaper reports last week that Muslim clerics had come out in condemnation of ISIS, saying that they had gone too far and this particular behaviour violated Islamic value and humanity.  Whilst one can feel grateful for the hardening of hearts towards the militants, does the deafening silence before that incident not mean that all the prior beheadings were (and remain) fine?

From my perspective I'm afraid that none of it is fine.  I don't care what the motivation and how ISIS try to justify their behaviour: it's just not OK.  I know that's my judgement, and I'm not God, so perhaps it's pretentious to judge, but when a massive sector of the world's population feels revulsion, I have to conclude that we are all witnessing and recognising evil in its purest form.  

So, that's the judgement handled.  But what is the learning from this?  At one level it is challenging my internal need to know all the answers and how things should be.  It is also challenging the part of me that wants to be God by demanding that everything should be fixable, because right now, although I demand that things be different, the truth is that I'm not sure that this evil is fixable other than by imposing a new type of evil on it.  I'm not in the least convinced that one form of violence can be fixed with another type and we can somehow judge one type of killing to be "evil" and the other "good".

At another level, it seems to be inviting me to let go of my revulsion, to let things be in the sense of not judging good and evil, but rather to accept that things are as they are right now.  Perhaps we are being invited to stay in touch with our humanity and to remain open to and explore possibilities other than more war, more killing and more antagonism and resentment.

The truth is that I don't have a clue what the solution is, but if it can somehow flow from our inherent and common humanity, that would be a far better fit for me than violent retribution.  Perhaps forgiveness is a piece of the puzzle.  Perhaps love is.  Perhaps saintliness will also play a part.  Isn't that what Jesus' crucifixion was all about?  There is an echo of similarity here.

Any ideas?