Feeling overwhelmed in our changing world? Never lose sight of love, suggests Dr Charmaine Saunders
You know my list of things to remember when we're feeling "bad"?
* Stay positive
* Stay in the present
* Look after yourself with time and love.
* Honour your own feelings, needs and desires.
So often we refuse to face our fears and other emotions, internal messages and the like. We say we don't have time or we're being selfish to do it. If we keep repressing our true intentions and what is for our highest good, we can harm ourselves in every way, from physical ill health to depression or poor relationships. A further tip; speaking to a client yesterday about the undesirability and impossibility of perfection, I came up with this affirmation she could use: "I am in the process of perfection." We'll never get there in this life, but it's okay to work towards it.
My aunt in the US was a nun. One of the things I like most about her is that even though she gave herself to the Church as a teenager, she has never preached the party line, she has not been a traditional nun. When I divorced as a young woman, she didn't lecture me about my "wrong doing", but rather expressed the hope that I would find someone to love again. She once wrote me a note, said that she was proud of me, that I do a lot to help others and she hoped I was doing it all for God. In truth, I don't. I do it for the people who seek my help, believing in the importance of the work in its own right. Plus, I get ego satisfaction from a job well done and, of course, I enjoy the thanks and praise that comes my way.
My aunt gave me food for thought on this matter and, last weekend, I spoke about it to a Christian brother who's an old friend. He, too, is not traditionally religious - he's in the world, involved, open and kind. He said one particularly beautiful thing I felt I had to share with you: "My Eucharist is in the street." I have always instinctively felt that way, but how refreshing to hear someone who belongs to a structured organisation expressing my thought. They say "God is in the details." Well, whatever your concept of God is, he/she/it is surely in everything, most of all in people and in nature. How can we separate good works from a holy life, regardless of church attendance, amount of prayer or standard beliefs?
Decision Making is often so hard. The main reason is a lack of faith in our own judgement. When in doubt, people stay on the fence and think about it some more. It's almost better to make the wrong decision than to procrastinate endlessly. The old idea of writing down the pros and cons of a particular decision does work, but, ultimately, intuitive processes will supply a truer answer. Handing over a tricky problem or decision to your higher consciousness at bedtime is great as you get to let go and trust that an answer will come without your steerage. Either an insight will come through a dream or be there in your conscious thought first thing in the morning. Try it.
Kindness to oneself is essential and really should come above all else. Caring for others is important, but it should never come at the expense of Self. Giving till it hurts is a no-no. Giving should be matched by receiving and the right motive is also vital. If you give for praise or attention, you will feel drained and resentful; if you give from love and inner joy, you can never run dry. For every kind bone in our bodies, we also have selfish, mean and self serving ones, so just do what you can and don't expect too much of yourself!
Passion: I equate passion with love. I think we are passionate about the things we love, but then we're also passionate about the things we hate. I don't have that kind of passion. I find hate a difficult emotion to do. I can do it for about five minutes then it evaporates. Not very satisfying! What does one do with one's enemies if you can't hate? Best not to have any or if that's not possible, someone once said we should love them because it drives them crazy!
Passion is really the fuel for life if you think about it. If you have something you feel passionate about, you're one of the lucky ones. Most people equate passion with sex and romance, which is only one form. I've always thought I was very lucky because I love my work so much, but it doesn't matter if you feel that way about gardening or your children, furniture or stamp collecting. It adds excitement, adrenalin to our routine lives. Just try not to let it be something destructive like boozing or gambling because then it brings you down instead of uplifting you. Here are two wonderful quotes about passion: "Passion is a heightened level of participation in life(long dash)it adds elements of risk but also levels of elevated return" and "Reason ruling alone is a force confining and passion unattended is a flame that burns to its own destruction."
Emotion: The other night I watched a re-run of an episode of Ally McBeal about a man who had an accident and developed a blood clot in his brain which pumped out a chemical that made him feel continually euphoric. This was great until his wife died and he couldn't feel any grief, couldn't mourn or cry. He decided he wanted to feel those emotions so he agreed to an operation to restore him to his "normal" state.
It was very telling, I thought, a reminder that we humans are entitled to a whole repertoire of emotions, not just the ones that seem acceptable or pleasant. We shouldn't discriminate or judge ourselves for feeling a variety of emotions. Constant euphoria is false, but constant happiness of the deep and meaningful kind is attainable.
Change is what this year seems to be all about. No wonder we're all feeling so restless and uneasy. Each one of us goes through changes in our individual lives, but it's unusual to feel the intensity of global change as we have been. We are literally living out the history books of the future.
Where does that leave us spiritually and psychologically? Apart from feeling wrung out, it is once again an opportunity for growth, as everything is. Inspiration comes in many different forms. In my work, I call these "signposts". They're everywhere but we have to choose to see them. They guide us through the darkest tunnel and the deepest forest. Although they come from within, we can see them in external signs such as a friend's words, the lyrics of a song, a line in a book. My closest friend reminded me this week that we learned years ago there really are only two emotions, love and fear, representing all the positives and the negatives. I'd go further and say that all emotions are valuable and important, even the so-called negative ones like anger, hate and resentment. Emotion is only energy and so cannot harm us or others if we don't hold onto it. This is the hard part as we humans love to dramatise and struggle. We seem to forget that we are here to learn and play and love as well as grow, heal and serve.
Fear causes control and rigidity and a limited life. These are recurring lessons and, right now, we're all being given large doses of it. What to do? Hold on to what matters to you, no matter how bumpy the ride gets.
You won't fall off! Your wheels might but you'll always be okay. Remember the oasis of power and strength inside you that never alters even as the world spins into chaos and all our beliefs are being held up for questioning. Change is always uncomfortable and yet, is, in itself, a constant in our lives.
Another "teacher" reminded me yesterday about transcending the ego. How hard is that? Mastery of self, staying in the moment, trusting - all ongoing lessons that are being severely tested at this time, and that old biggie, patience, not one of my personal favourites!
LOVE comes in many forms. Romantic love is important, too, but I always like to emphasise that love exists only within each human soul and so if you don't have someone special in your life right now, love yourself, love your friends, love your life. No one can ever truly be without love and if you feel you are, you have simply turned away from yourself. The years pass far too soon and as Indira Gandhi said, "It's the things I haven't done that will haunt me on my deathbed." Don't let one of those things be failing to let those you love know your heart.