Seeing others genuinely happy, enjoying life, at one, laughing, fills me with such an immense glow and happiness too, it's so inspiring, remembering that this is what Life is. I often feel this too, intense joy, glowing, at peace… at work, at home, sudden moments, days, often not for any 'reason' at all.... until, sometimes, later, feelings of guilt and sadness flood in... ‘Don't you see what’s happening in the world around you? You really need to be Doing something... and why should you be happy? How can your happiness actually help others *, isn't it really quite selfish ...in a world full of troubles, how can you even feel happy?’
This might seem strange to some, but perhaps you experience this too?
Sometimes the world can appear to be Brexit-sized or terrorist-sized, or party-leadership-contest-sized, or UK-sized, or even world-wide-disaster-sized. Our field of vision shrinks to a bucket-size, little or large, of worrying stories fed to us. Here is what we show you, so eat and digest. This is what is important, your necessary focus, the immense wonder and rich diversity of the world! is not newsworthy. Watch this and then tweet/post outrage to the world via social media and the drama can continue to feed and energise itself in a nightmarish merry-go-round vortex.
We can spin in this fear, and question, ‘Am I doing enough?’ and even berate ourselves, ‘Do you not care that there’s a global climate emergency? You need to DO – and be seen to be Doing - something better'. More and more there's a witnessing of these thoughts now, and a letting them pass, but sometimes they stick around and there's a forgetting, and I'm pulled in. Especially when watching the news each night. I try to listen to the radio news instead, it's less immersive, less on a constant repeat, less sensationalist.
As someone who has cared very deeply her whole life, the media, the state of the world, the inhumanity of human behaviour has affected me greatly. I remember feeling so deeply affected by the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, sending pocket money to help, and I’m reminded of this when watching the protests in Hong Kong today and longing for a peaceful outcome. I remember the Soviet coup, and Yeltsin opposed to Gorbachev’s reforms, the injustice and fear for Salman Rushdie over his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’… just a very few early memories, each left me crying for days at a world that could be so divided, corrupt, unloving, intolerant, self-righteous, barbaric…and I felt the waves of this right through me. And who was I to have a birthday present when children were dying of neglect? This ‘truth’ felt intensely strong in me. I would feel guilty, wanting to give everything away… Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, depressed for weeks, months over election results, global catastrophes, terrorism, animal cruelty, a beetle dying on the ground next to me… I really was, and am, a sensitive, child, young person and adult (a wonderful gift! but certainly with its difficulties too). The fragile beauty and preciousness and miracle! of the tiniest creature, to the astounding Earth itself and every animal, plant, human being living on it. I always had a genuine bewilderment at the lack of love shown by so many and the lack of willingness to share, in the knowledge that we are One humanity, custodians of this living breathing Being of a planet, which is not a 'resource' here for us, and to be plundered, but to be cherished and celebrated. And we all happen to be here at the same time in history! - how miraculously fortunate and linked we all are!
I feel the solidarity with others as well as the deep sadness and longing for change. As a member of Amnesty International I’ve written letters to prisoners of conscience, a member of Friends of The Earth, the Labour Party, CND, The Green Party, following stories, immersed in wanting to help, lighting candles, writing to newspaper letter pages… nothing felt enough, and as an introvert I usually did this quietly and alone.
Occasionally I joined others – such as guerrilla gardening in London, it was wonderful to be with like-minded others but also felt uncomfortable, the noise so loud at times that it was painful for me, the sheer numbers of others so close. Being kettled in Parliament Square, confronted by police in riot gear, on horses, shields… Again the guilt flooding in, after wanting to cry at the feeling of being so overwhelmed by the energies all around, the volume, some there who didn’t actually feel authentic to me, too. ‘This is nothing Rowena, stop being so selfish, this is for a cause Much bigger than You for god’s sake’. I had my own tyrannical voice playing on a constant loop in my head for many years… (and this continued all the way through to the ending of an abusive marriage, feeling I had no right to complain, it wasn’t that bad (it was), people are far worse off than you and it’s down to you to do and be better… a slight tangent maybe! but very much relevant in terms of relationship dynamics, wanting to help, self-abandonment, feeling depleted….
It is so easy to be caught up in the circumstances of the reported world that are never-ending, a true longing to help others, and also an ignoring of our own nature, preferences and light, which are often buried very deeply within, or even unknown to us. It is a fact that I needed to listen, to look within and help myself first. This feels almost too shocking to say, still…
Over the years, I’ve discovered that for some people, finding and following what brings them joy Is truly a radical act in itself and it's beautiful and contagious ...and to feel no guilt, no shame about it… This is so liberating for me, really, almost daring, defiant, when society and The Establishment seems to need you browbeaten, or at least angry within a limited, controllable space... Joy is such a radical shift in perception, acceptance and outcome. Others might not understand, but 'Being Joyful?!... and expressing this even though there’s so much pain in the world?! How selfish' has flipped completely around for me, as I see how the world needs more of this joy now, perhaps more than ever.
It is so obvious. I see the beauty of this in others who are expressing what they love, and have always felt it within, too, but was too ashamed/shy?/lonely/dared not show it. Yet it is from these local and worldwide spaces of celebration that I've seen communities grow and more and more people awakening and changing together, feeling happier, stronger, clearer... and so often because what truly expresses natural joy is coming from a state of Presence - it is so honest and real.
How beautiful and healthy if we all knew and felt to connect with, and express this joy within, which is always there, irrespective of circumstances and material possessions...or social norms..! Conflict and violence come from fear, lack and non-understanding of who we are. The biggest tyrants are often the smallest boys/girls feeling a huge lack of authentic love - from personal relationships to the global stage, it’s the same dynamic and causes the same toxic outfall and toxic dancing around them from others. The effects radiate and this is just as true with Love as it is with Fear.
Hiding, feeling small, deliberately not sharing my joy will NEVER help anyone else! And the same with you! – in fact it will only actively help continue the painful situation, helping the negativity which feeds on misery and drama and cannot accept others’ joy, as it feels alien and suspicious… it will help perpetrators keep the status quo… (I've seen too that they sense the saddening lack inside them and so cannot bear to see joy in others…). In an abusive marriage I never dared show my joy, it was kept hidden very, very deeply, protected, and afterwards, little by little it just couldn't be suppressed any longer and it was This joyous energy and Life force that set me free, through art, poetry and colour! The power of this natural joy state within IS immense, in all of us! Whether the example is one person, or a nation, country, planet...
Expressing joy is a huge YES to existence, one full of Love and Gratitude, and this is where positive change can begin, not from enmeshment, reaction, negative energy merry-go-rounds, not from the pain and sadness and anger (which can be catalysts for a little while, but then can often become ego-fueled) but from transformation, celebration, growth, newness, building, networks… and this begins with ourselves.
Also, very often, those who are not as vocal, not expressing opinions on social media, those who are not on marches, will be equally as, or perhaps better informed, and equally as dedicated. They may care deeply, they may not even talk about it very much, even to friends, as often words cannot describe the immensity of feelings and complexity of all aspects they see. Sometimes they might be highly, happy sensitive introverts – like me! - whose nature is not to react, protest, make a noise. We need all of these diversities and can celebrate every one of them for the energies they bring. Things are not always loud and on the surface.
We find our own way to express care and love for others. We see too that Life is not only the individual situations themselves which are reported on the news, heartbreaking though they often are, but that it is within, underneath and beyond all of them. A momentum grows that is bigger than all of these and is also empowered by coming through these painful situations. There is so much good in humanity, and so many new networks of positivity and joy that are growing beneath and through the surface of things. I truly believe this, in all I see and feel. New voices emerging, new diversities, younger courageous generations and renewed strength in protecting this beautiful earth, this beautiful Being that sustains us… and, I’ve always felt, a joy in knowing that the Earth is bigger than human ego and Will survive us and renew itself, even if mankind destroys itself.
"When will mankind come out of this turmoil? When mankind becomes kind man." - Sri H. W. L. Poonja (Papaji)
('kind man' and all gender/nonbinary!)
Not suppressing the joy within IS a political act, we hardly dare do it and it is a brave thing to do, as it means expressing our true humanity and nature, our presence, beyond culture, religion, how we are educated, all conditioning and life situations - and not even for a purpose but because it IS our very nature already and one we share with every other person…and animal, plant…on the planet!
It isn’t about disengaging or not caring, or being flippant, or being ‘pink and fluffy’, it’s about seeing the beauty and grace in ALL things.
It is with self-care and love for ourselves, listening, feeling, becoming aware, not shaming ourselves or others and in creating healthy boundaries. Self-compassion feels like a radical act too sometimes. But surely, it MUST start here and radiate outwards.
From this space, creative, fresh, healthy, strong, meaningful and long-term change can happen and this is how you can reach out to connect with others – in whichever way is right for you. For me it is with love, colour, joy, meditation, art, poetry and celebration.
*Our happiness is the greatest force for good and creative change for all.
To being gentle, radical, joyful and true - in all our myriad ways, towards ourselves and others...
I’ve loved this poem for many years, and it is so relevant here, from Rainer Maria Rilke (1921) x
The Poet Speaks of Praising
Oh speak, poet, what do you do?
But the monstrosities and the murderous days,
how do you endure them, how do you take them?
But the anonymous, the nameless grays,
how, poet, do you still invoke them?
What right have you, in all displays,
in very mask, to be genuine?
And that the stillness and the turbulent sprays
know you like star and storm?
--because I praise.
'The foundation for any action you take - let it arise from presence, rather than from a feeling of fear or anger, because these two are not productive. There is enormous power and true intelligence in presence. This is vital.
... Do as much as you can to help with peace in your heart, because otherwise war and conflict happen.'
- Eckhart Tolle
I remember watching an inspirational programme on Bhutan and its redefinition of GDP! ...
Have you ever felt so much joy you just don't know what to do with it?
Yes!!! :) x
... and this - very happy to have found this post in a blog that I love - this writer resonates so much with me, and often he writes of poems and poets that are very dear to my own heart.
(adding all of these things here really for myself too, to remember)
‘In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, and there will also be singing
About the dark times.’
– Bertolt Brecht, motto to Svendborg Poems, 1939
Singing and joy and expressing our natural state
as well as acknowledging and honouring the sadness, loss, fears...
Reasons to be cheerful...
Happiness... with room for the sadness to come x
'What is Joy? Where is it?' - answered by Nick Cave
‘Joy sings small, bright songs in the dark — these moments, so easily disregarded, so quickly dismissed, are the radiant points of light that pierce the gloom to give validation to the world. That’s how the light gets in, Leonard Cohen tells us, whilst casting his genius and delight forever among the cosmos.’
How triggers can be your greatest allies….
In the shock of a sudden unexpected situation, you can feel a pulling into unconsciousness, that is, into a forgetting that you are not your emotions, not your mind, not any part of the scenario you are experiencing.
This can relate to any situation, or a certain thing someone says or does, and is usually one that resonates with a fear, trauma or emotional pain or wound suffered in the past, a fear that hasn’t been truly met, acknowledged and released...even though you might have thought it had been! The trigger brings back to life the old accumulated emotion.
This happened for me this Christmas.
Initially the pain can take over, flooding the body in an immediate reaction, heart pounding. You might feel desperately hurt, angry and fearful and so instantly reach out to a friend, a family member, as you identify yourself through the filter of the ‘story’ of what has happened, when the emotional pain verbalises into thoughts about it and creates a frightened drama. Sometimes telling others whilst still in reactive mode might not be the best thing as it perpetuates the drama...and a good friend might even tell you this, or listen, be kind, reminding you of your strength, but not engage with details. In this way, you also see more clearly and can disengage more quickly.
The beautiful thing is, if you can accept what is happening in the moment, be present with it, acknowledge the intense pain in the body, the emotions, the thoughts, be with all of this… you create space around it all, remaining as the witness, not identifying with it as who you are. You do not have to ‘do’ anything, only see if you can allow those feelings to be there, after all they are already there! So if you can acknowledge them and be present with them as they are, you can see what happens, without adding extra layers, such as feeling unhappy about the feelings etc. As Eckhart Tolle enquires, ‘If you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness?’ You see that it starts to dissolve when there is an inner acceptance of the present moment. The turmoil cannot tolerate the light of Presence.
When triggers happen they are opportunities to look inwards, be self-loving and compassionate. You can find out what these emotions and pains are expressing when you listen without judgement and be your own unconditionally loving parent. In this way you hear them, give recognition and kindness and then you can lovingly release them, seeing the light of awareness and consciousness flooding and washing into the space that has opened within.
A few days before Christmas, in unconsciousness, I panicked, reacting to a surprise and unwelcome situation, and I contacted a friend and another person, heart pounding... but then, after sitting alone calmly and listening in, I realised quite quickly what was happening. In this instance for me it was about boundaries being ignored, disrespected, emotional and physical, an unexpected trigger reawakening intense past hurts that still hadn’t been healed and released, even after many years of No Contact. This was an opportunity to release even more around this pain. (It is a practice also that stops ‘feeding’ energy to the other person, which is what they want and need, if they are a Narcissist, whether positive or negative ‘drama’, they thrive on it.)
When you can remain in and as presence, the fears are met with love and silence and the emotions dissolve, and you stop reliving the past again and again. When inner peace becomes your priority in unsettling situations, peace becomes your reality, so within, so without as Melanie Tonia Evans teaches in her Quantum healing practices. It’s just so true! You know deeply too that trauma energy is not who you are…you might feel intense reaction, anguish, agony, even that you are going to die…yet this is illusion, even though it might rage as so ‘real’ at the time that we mistake ourselves as being it.
A great way to stop identifying with any pain is also not to state, for instance, ‘I am unhappy’ but that ‘unhappiness is here with me’. The difference is the space that opens up between you and it - the space of truth! And such relief and release is felt immediately. All passes, it is not You.
When I was 18 I stayed in a beautiful community that celebrated the light within – a light I had always known and felt since a child. The community embraced all religions and spiritual paths, expressing that which is within and beyond all human-made constructed approaches in understanding. Silent sitting and stepping back, inwardly, onto ‘the observer platform’ was a wonderful early meditation, seeing the space between our essential nature (shared by all of us) and our human mind/body/emotions… years later I realised how familiar this was with Advaita Buddhism and the pointings of Mooji, Eckhart Tolle and many Eastern approaches. Ultimately there is a dissolving of the ego ‘I’ into this essential nature, that it already is! And the experiential knowing that we do not ‘have’ a life, we Are life itself!!
This oneness, so beautiful and true can be felt to be disrupted in our everyday lives, as we live as ‘Rowena’ or any other person, as a surface, ego reality (ego as the idea we have of who we are, the ‘mask’ of the Being). Of course, our true nature can never be ‘disrupted’ and experiences such as mine this Christmas can have such a ‘Whoosh!’ painful effect …and, wonderfully, we can learn from them and remember again that in truth we are not this, they help to wake us up, put things into perspective and remember again.
We still need self-compassion and kindness when we forget in our everyday lives, as we often do! and to put into place measures and boundaries that protect us and help us to live our authentic truth.
So here’s to triggers that may appear to be deeply upsetting shocks on the surface, but are actually angels in disguise! as opportunities to reveal our true nature in ever more clarity.
It's wonderful to be showing my new works alongside Marg Mason's beautiful paintings and Katrina Slack's quirkily fantastic wire sculptures in the current exhibition at Morvah Schoolhouse Gallery.
Exhibitions can be exhilarating and rewarding. They also take a lot of practical preparation and are often emotionally challenging too - with the old faithful 'imposter phenomenon' turning up once again, attempting to influence, derail and even sabotage the day, with its questioning, mocking and varied array of voices. The physical sensations in the body of fear, sickness, shakiness, shame and vulnerability, amongst many others, can take a strong grip too. Sometimes so strongly that not turning up, not going through with it seems the absolute best option. (Certainly not a 'for she is of the tribe of tiger' -type feeling! - see pic above :))
Does this sound familiar to you at all? ... whether exhibitions or any situation where you are 'being seen'.
Fortunately, in my experience more and more, these voices and sensations which occur can be observed and acknowledged for what they are - emanations from 'the monkey mind' :-) (I like this term, often used in Advaita pointings) or the ego, 'the conditioned self' that each of us has as our persona. The learned responses from over many years jump in on cue. These can be limiting beliefs, notions that keep us stuck, hiding... entrenched ideas of who we believe ourselves to be. Ironically, they could be seen as trying to keep us safe, too, when we're in situations that could threaten/are difficult... however, often these very situations are those that help us grow and therefore, ultimately, enable us to shed those layers of voices and conditioning. The ego doesn't want this to happen, of course, as it's secure in its comfort zone, believing itself to be the CEO, (because we let it) and needing us to stay where we are, so it can continue to exist and control/manage us, business as usual.
Recognising that as our real self, we are not our responses or feelings or fears or thoughts or behaviours has been a wonderful liberation for me, a sense that I've felt for so long, since very young, but have not actually 'lived' the truth of...
When new experiences and opportunities unfold, the fears can be recognised, acknowledged and even respected as intense sensations that are a part of who we are in the world; we can say hello to them and not 'mind' them. We can remain unattached. It's ok, they can be right there whilst I continue to plan, to organise the exhibition, to meet others on the day, to socialise... they fluctuate in their strength and presence too, whilst I bubble-wrap my work...' You're not good enough', 'who do you think you are?... yes yes, I hear and feel you, thank you :-) - they hate to be ignored and will up-level until I listen, then they're more at ease... and as Eckhart Tolle would say, on letting be and allowing, try asking yourself, 'Can I be the space for this?' - and that's what I wrote on the inside of my palm, in Biro pen yesterday, when the anxiety was very strong just before driving to the event.
And it was genuinely fun, fresh, spontaneous and enjoyable and yes! I could be the space for this, for all these emotions and I could let them 'be' and they didn't derail me... and they even disappeared into the shadows to rest for a bit at many points throughout the afternoon.
I often do EFT, meditate, read inspiring authors and poets, watch and participate in satsangs online, listen to music, carry rose quartz, write on my palms :-))) for learning, grounding, self-compassion and reassurance and pointers in the moment.
I'd love to know what you do to help at particularly anxious times.
Some photos from the (truly!) wonderful afternoon...fears and all
... and to be the space which does not change :-)
I love this 7 min video by Robert Holden which is so clear on the unconditioned Self, the conditioned self ..and ultimately all in Oneness x