Are we all war children ?

War child. Children brought up in the conflict of war often traumatised by what they have seen and experienced.

Countries outside war zones used to have at some insulation from the terrible events that tend to enfold on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, the media obsession with reporting ‘for our own good’ has brought War ever closer to our communities and homes. Its difficult to avoid detailed recreations of some of the most horrific events happening through the world. Do we really think that just because this is on TV, then it doesn’t effect us ? Do we believe that such horrific events don’t seep inside our being – and particularly our children – giving us adverse feelings about human nature and ourselves.

Perhaps if we examine this further there are also other sources of war trauma. Is there really such a difference between ‘conflict’ as shown in war, and ‘conflict’ shown in a soap opera or by family aggression or neighbours in the street. Maybe on one level,  there really isn’t much difference between violence caused by guns and violence caused by words. Do you really think that words cant hurt, wound or kill ?

In the western world, mental health problems are spiralling out of control. Services just cant’ keep up with the increases in depression, anxiety, fear and anger. Perhaps even more disturbing is the increase in issue with children. There is unlikely to be a single explanation, we live multilayered complex lives.  However perhaps the best start is to look deeply in ourselves. Become self-aware of our feelings consider how changes in what we consume (watch and expose ourselves too), and how we behave may affect ourselves and those around us.

Authentic change and growth.

I am a sucker for self help books. Several times a week I think about a subject I want to know more about and I’m off to Amazon ! This has left me with a couple of book cases bursting at the seams and a kindle full of things I haven’t read.
Its all too easy to become a self development junkie. When we find ourself lacking we naturally seem to seek for an answer, try to find a solution to ‘fix’ ourselves or make our life better.
But how much of this self development effort actually ever sticks ? It’s easy to be enthused with a new thought or concept of living, an image of happiness, but change is often a fleeting condition. Within a few weeks everything is back to normal and we are seeking new answers to new questions without the old ones really being resolved.

My opinion ( and it is only an opinion ) is that we trust to knowledge far too much. Knowledge is easy to obtain, wisdom is a lot harder but change is really really hard. Especially if your going through it on your own, unsupported.

Much research has gone into what makes counselling work. Why it produce’s such profound effect and transformation. The most important single element has been found to be the relationship you have with your counsellor/therapist. It’s a relationship that should include a non-judgmental attitude, advanced empathy and positive regard. It provokes the most extraordinary changes in people. Although now backed up by evidence, we don’t really need science to tell us this. We just need to look back at major events in our lives, events that have changed us and you will usually find a relationship at the heart of it. 
Counselling provides a place, a moment and a relationship to help us grow. It’s almost as if our counsellor becomes a mirror, reflecting back our true self , where we can see our real motives, meanings, emotions and potential. A fertile ground where the business of growth, self development and recovery can really begin.
Maybe its time to put the books away, it’s good to talk.

Time is our friend.

 

Time Anxiety

Time is a problem. Most of us never have enough of it .

Despite having more time saving devices, technology and techniques, the time we have is forever getting squeezed, and the time we make just gets taken up by other important issues.

It doesn’t  matter wether your a business person, a full time mum, a professional or someone who is struggling to find a place in life, the problem of how we spend time can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious and guilty.

It seems like we have to be so efficient and great at everything. A great parent, employee, partner. And at the end of the day, or week, there is nothing left  for us. Is this truly what life is about ?

Being ‘Busy’ can be great. It can make us feel alive. We can thrive on it. Being over-busy is damaging to us, and can also affect those who depend on us.

There are many practical tools and techniques that can help us managing our time. Often these are all that are required to gain back quality of life. However sometimes the real  issue is more complex. Some of the issue’s with over-busy lives are connected to our thoughts and emotions. Guilt, fear, self worth are drivers of what I term  – Time Anxiety.

Somewhere between our need to ‘solve the problems of life and to ‘solve the problems of living’, There is a place where things could just tick by nicely. A place where we can breath and can experience ourselves. A place where we can truly feel alive, where time becomes a friend. Many of us sense this. We just don’t know how to find it. Counsellors and coaches are companions in this journey. Don’t be shy. Its truly worth it.

How to solve your problems. The answer is here.

We just can’t go through life without dealing with problems. No matter how experienced we become, how ‘adult’ we try to be, problems particularly with relationships present a painful challenge.  So…… whilst sitting outside a chip shop, devouring a piece of cod I became inspired to work out this once and for all.

There are three-way we can deal with all problems in life. We can choose to deal with it,
Ignore it or embrace it.

I believe that we are trained throughout our childhood and early adult life to mostly ‘deal’ with problems. To work out a solution which encompasses maximum self-protection. This usually ends up in abandonment of any attempt to pursue compassionate objectives, concerning ourselves with number 1, the survival instinct.

We can also choose to ignore our problem. Hope things will change and the problem will go away. And sometimes it does, sometimes changes occur in a person or a circumstance that nullify or minimise an issue until its significance becomes irrelevant. However here is nearly always consequences to this. The infection still exists, the damage has being done. There is no recovery, growth or learning. We are often left with an unacknowledged fear or denial that we will have to face again.

Another perhaps more radical approach is that of acceptance and embracement. This is an acknowledgement that a problem can teach us something, that it is an opportunity to develop and enhance our lives. I find personally that once I begin to embrace and value others who i have considered to be a problem, my whole world changes. A whole new point of view opens up before me. I learn how to be a better Human. Of course, embracing others isn’t always welcomed, it takes a particular gentle courage and persistence. But If i stick in there, it always pays in buckets. Once I embrace others I often find I have a new companion, i find have discovered a new part of me, and a new future path emerges.

Now this isn’t a case of good and bad, right or wrong. All the responses above have their place, and to be able to choose how to respond is a good place to be. But i can honesty say that in my life to  embrace those who challenge me has always been the best decision.

Of course it’s very simple when written down. Knowledge is easy to attain, but to turn it into action is usually very difficult. The difficulty is that our nature is not pure reason. Our reason is mixed with emotion, and emotion is the most difficult mastery to attain in the universe. That’s why it can be painful learning to be Human, to develop. Development is associated with childhood and thought to end when you become 21 ! But of course this just isn’t true. Most of the challenges we face in life will all come down to the existential dilemma of reason versus emotion. Both equally valuable, both equally frustrating. But perhaps it helps us when we understand we do have a choice. We don’t have to react in ways that make situations worse, or that hurt others. There is always a way out in which we become a better person, and the world becomes a nicer place.

You can be anything you want…… except you can’t.

Modern society strongly promotes ideals of personal responsibility and choice. It’s not just promoted, the foundations of capitalism depend on it. We are educated to believe that with commitment and hard work anyone can become rich and successful. This system is called a Meritocracy. In a Meritocracy power and wealth SHOULD belong to those that deserve it through successful and elite performance. This also suggests that those in poverty deserve their positions as well.

There are many holes in this system. One of these is an assumption for equality. Many would agree that there is no real equality in society, In ANY society, and realistically there never will be. This isn’t being negative its plain fact. The principle of equality goes against every law of nature. Those who like to walk in the countryside recognise the natural laws that enfold before our eyes. Thats why many people are fascinated by nature.  This is where we can observer the authentic unfolding of life without interference from civilization. Everything is different, every animal is born with different strengths and abilities that reflect their chance of survival. A lion is ideally equipped to take its place at the top of the food chain, the fragile antelope will forever be required to watch its back ! This doesn’t mean the antelope is valued any less. It fulfils a different role in ecology and balence.

Instead of trying to learn from the laws of nature, we like to believe we can change them. We seem to think that by creating society we become gods and can do anything. The truth however is that we occupy the same rules of existence as every other living entity on the planet.

Here we see the influence of the christian culture on our mostly secular society. We just don’t want to accept that we are part of nature. We want to believe we are separate from it, something different. A ‘Special Creation’ destined to rule over the natural powers that we observe around us. While we hold onto this view we can never be in harmony and balance.

There are many boundaries that stop most of us from achieving what can be perceived as ‘greatness’ or riches. Some of these are obvious, others more subtle, Some are innate, others are through choice. To gain anything, we have to give something up or let something go, and often this is a price we are not prepared to pay.

There is a difference between understanding that we have control and accountability in our lives and believing we can achieve anything. In an age where performance and success is mapped to self worth, many of us try to climb the slippery slope to satisfy the worlds requirements. This often involves expends time and energy in futile activities. Energy that could be spent in seeking goals related to improving the quality of our live’s. Happiness, contentment and wellbeing.

Most of us have blindly accepted the subtle messages which dictate what ‘success’ means. What we really need to do is to start to personally define what greatness and riches mean to us, given our boundaries in life, and embrace Authentic Living.

Read …. and find the answer to life.

The are many paths to finding the answer to life. Some seek through knowledge, others business and attainment and some through health and wellbeing or religion.

My personal favourite is through reading and knowledge. I love to read deep heavy books on the meaning of life and existence. I love studying thoughts from some of the worlds greatest philosophers, gurus and teachers.

The strange thing is that despite all this I still cant get life quite right. Carrying around with me thousands of years of knowledge still doesn’t solve my basic issues. I am still plagued by doubts, occasional unhappiness and anxiety over the everyday issues.

One of my favourite Buddhist teachers  – Ajahan Brahm,  had an interesting opinion on books. He stated that the  best use for books is to bring them to the mediation hall to sit on as stool !

Its very easy to get knowledge, a little harder to find the wisdom, but very difficult to apply to life and CHANGE.

I have spent some time thinking about this one. We are such complex creatures. Every moment our mind is processing a multitude of feelings and intellectual reasoning, trying to find past circumstance, experience and assumptions to compare it to. However the wise things we learn are usually unreachable at the time of need, or just don’t fit our exact feeling or emotion. It may have sounded great to the author at the time he wrote it, but when Im being screemed at by my children it all goes wrong !

What we have here is a human dilemma that has existed from the dawn of the awaking of consciousness. We are bounded  in life by a collection of ‘living’ dilemmas and paradox for which there is no real answer. Each is a scale with opposing values at either end. We all sit somewhere between each one them

Life and death

Health or illness

Good or Bad

Love or Hate

Belonging or isolation

Pain or pleasure

Self or others

Harmony of Chaos

and many more………

The way we try to balance or resolves these dilemmas is what we would like to call ‘ the answers to life. There is no global answer. Each of us experience and view life differently, It is our differences in negotiating these dilemmas that make us all different. Thats why asking ourselves or someone else to change is so hard. Change is about rewriting how we expect the world to be, based on our past. Not impossible but very difficult.

So if there is an answer its very much inside of the ‘I’. Thats ME. Not in any book, or in any teaching I can receive. Thats not to say all these things are not useful. But there is definitely a river we need to cross if we want to turn teaching into something that applies to us or even ‘I’. In that sense perhaps Ajahan Brahm was on the right track. The real answers are not on the outside but in our inner world. And in the quiet space of meditation is where we can really find ourselves and begin to resolve the human dilemmas.

In the mean time ill keep reading my books – and meditate. Ill keep looking for that definitive answers even though I know that no singe bit of knowledge will answer the fundamental questions of what it means to be alive

Life is worth mastering …

The Holly Tree Tales

The piece below was written upon waking this morning, Tuesday 17th February 2015, and flowed from my pen as I allowed the words to ‘write’ themselves. The thoughts come from my own experience of life, and my own journey, but the flow of words was not controlled. I simply allowed them to be, just as I am learning to do.

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of my arrival in Great Britain, home of my ancestors, from the country of my own birth, South Africa. This month, February, marks the anniversary of the tragic death of my brother-in-law, an event which catapulted me to Australia, as a young bride twenty three years ago. Nine years ago, I returned to the United Kingdom once more, older, a little wiser and with a family of my own. This month, and this year, each hold enormous significance for me personally, as do several other landmarks in…

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