Tag Archives: truth

Practice makes perfect

The Journal Writer’s Handbook was borne out of a desire to express the importance of developing our own independence of thought, and finding our purpose.

Reflective writing for me has always been a practice which has enabled me to develop both of these muscles.

And recently I’ve included a different practice in my day – a more spiritual one.

Since April 2018 I have committed to practicing kundalini yoga and meditation every single day. Initially I wanted to try and get into yoga for the sake of better physical and mental health, but the different styles of yoga I tried at first were missing something.

I got bored by the challenges of the physical postures, and while I really appreciated the mindfulness aspects the practice wasn’t really grabbing me.

So I allowed myself to drift again – telling myself that I’m just not one who can easily stick with routine, follow rules and be disciplined.

But as a writer who wanted to write more I knew this was not an attitude that was serving me.

I knew I needed a practice. I knew I needed to approach my life and experience with more commitment and discipline.

And as so often happens, as soon as this realisation came upon me, along came my teachers.

The Online Kundalini Yoga School popped up on my social media feed. The beautiful Tim and Marieke. Watching their videos I felt grounded, calmed, and in good, real company.

I began to learn about pranayama – breathing, asana – physical postures, mudra – hand positions, and mantra – repeating chants.

It made no sense to me on a rational level but deep within myself I felt compelled to follow and find out more. Every morning – except for a few I can count on the fingers of my two hands – I’ve been tuning in to a practice video and dedicating myself to a few minutes of meditation or physical exercise the kundalini way.

Seven months in I have achieved greater and greater clarity about my purpose, and greater ability to think independently.

But it has also given me a new appreciation about who I truly am, and what my physical, mental and spiritual strength really is.

It’s been extraordinary. So now, my reflective writing has a new spiritual edge – that of the True Me. There’s less ranting and whingeing and much more insight and depth.

It’s good to drop anchor each day into the depths of our true being.  Combining a spiritual practice with reflective writing it’s good to ground ourselves in purpose, independence and truth.

Find Tim and Marieke at www.kundaliniyogaschool.org

 

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November 21, 2018 · 10:10 am

Crisis of Conscience

The current case of Asia Bibi’s unsuccessful appeal for asylum in the UK is a blatant example of the tragic consequences of abandoning our heart-felt truth and individually held principles of compassion in favour of pragmatic, fear-based ‘damage limitation’.

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman persecuted for blasphemy in her home country, having quarreled with some Muslim women who then brought allegations against her. As a result she was imprisoned and placed on death row. Eventually, after eight years, she was pardoned, but this very act triggered rioting in Pakistan as radical Muslims continued to call for her punishment. To escape with her life she is seeking asylum in the Christian nations of the West, but the UK authorities have declined her appeal, on the basis that it would cause civil unrest among our own Islamic population.

Writers such as Douglas Murray and Melanie Phillips dedicate themselves to highlighting the increasing regularity of this kind of politicking  on our shores. They articulate the issues far better than me, so I’m not going to even try to embellish their argument.

Instead, I’m going to express the thing that really angers me about this whole issue – namely the careless abandonment of our own courage and conviction in the face of religious and political dogma and ideology.

How can we continue to allow our individually held heart-felt knowing of what is right to be drowned out by the external moralising conscience of fanaticism?

We each have our own conscience, our own still small voice which whispers to our heart to guide us and set us right. The trouble is we do not learn to listen to it keenly enough. We do not know how to tune in to it. It is therefore vulnerable to the cacophonous rantings of ideological groups.

It is easier to follow the mob than to pay close attention to our own consciousness. It is easier to adopt the conscience of our society than to speak up for ourselves. We do not learn how to interact with our own inner voice of conscience.

When we think of conscience as morality, or as the teachings of dogmatic religion, our own interaction with its voice becomes limited. We curb our courage to question those teachings, and our conscience becomes the voice of others’ expectations around us rather than the truth of our own heart.

All along the desperate arc of Asia Bibi’s plight there are points at which the true conscience of individuals has been denied and drowned out by dogmatic moralising and ideologies. Religion and politics and media echo chambers drive out our awareness and acknowledgement of individual experiences – and paradoxically as a result we end up aggravating multiple collectives in society, rather than appealing wholeheartedly to other individuals’ sense of what is right.

It’s difficult to argue in truth that it is better to leave an innocent person to a cruel fate than to do the right thing and offer them safe haven. National authorities have abandoned the principles of compassion and justice in favour of keeping the peace among ideologues and religious fanaticists. This is yet again a huge international crisis of conscience.

The antidote to this is first to learn better how to differentiate between the individually perceived voice of kindness and the loud drumming of dogma, and then to choose to act from individual courage rather than the so-called conscience of the mob.

I fervently believe that reflective writing in a journal contributes to this nurturing of our own individual awareness of truth and possibility and what is right.

This is not a political post. This is an appeal for us all to connect more deeply and consciously with our own courageous truth.

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Filed under Compassion, Current Affairs

One Word

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love recently.

And I started to feel hard done by that we only have one word for it. Compared to the Greeks’ eight or nine this seems paltry.

I started thinking that we mustn’t take Love seriously in our culture and language to only have one word. The Inuits have dozens of words for snow. Surely if we cared more about Love we’d have a wider range of vocabulary?

Our English word Love is ancient. It pre-dates the Norman Conquest of England and finds its roots in the Old Germanic, then middle English, ‘lufu’.

So it survived Latin and French, and was unperturbed by amore or cherir. Far from not taking it seriously, it feels to me like we defended its unique meaning to the hilt.

But what is that meaning? Doubtless in medieval times people knew exactly what they meant when they spoke the word. These days I’m not so sure. It has so many meanings and so many contexts. Predominantly these days in common parlance it refers to romantic and erotic love rather than love for friends, family, off-spring, nation, self or God.

But it’s still just One Word. There are dozens of other words signifying states of mind  which might lead us to Love: like joy, or appreciation, or creativity, or truth or gratitude, or freedom, or even anger, but still that single, ancient, honourable word endures.

And now I’ve come to think of this as utter linguistic, cultural, spiritual and epistemological  genius. Because of its multi-layered, multi-faceted nature it is the ultimate “all things to all men” notion.

We can each choose individually how broad its scope is for us. We can confine our best love for our beloved, our family and at a pinch our closest friends; or we can surrender our egos to universal loving compassion in the style of Buddhist monks.

We can recognise the emotions of Love and we can also consider the values of it too. We can be human about it, or we can touch the Divine through it. It is basically the quickest and most effective vehicle to get us wherever we want to go.

So whatever definition of Love rings true for you, get curious. Are you defending it with all your might? Are you dismissing it? Taking it for granted? Are you living it fully and intentionally, to whatever level you choose? Or are you cheating yourself?

It’s One Word. But we make of it what we will.

 

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October 21, 2018 · 5:37 pm

Reflecting on writing – how to be inspired

There’s reflective writing – and then there’s reflecting on writing.

Clearly these are not the same. The first is an action in full flow, the second is the pause before or after.

I’m not really into navel-gazing. I get impatient with myself when I spend too long ruminating. I’ve learned to judge when I’ve done enough and when I need to come back down to earth.

Nevertheless there is a tonne of value in understanding why writing is so powerful. Reflecting on writing is a pause worth making.

Firstly rather than wait to be inspired to write, try writing to be inspired. Like yoga, the discipline to turn up to the mat or to the page is the only step. Then you can let the practice take over.

Reflective writing is about surrender to the quieter voice that guides us. Maybe you call it your higher self or your inner being or your sub-conscious. Whatever it is that takes over when we allow it to can reveal to us a whole depth of wisdom and insight we never realised we had access to.

And if we can begin to plumb those depths then we can come to recognise our own truth and authenticity. We each have our individual thread of integrity that runs through us like the writing through a stick of candy rock. Reviewing our journals over time often shows us the same messages and impulses, whether or not we ever chose to heed them.

Finally reflective writing can give us the springboard to action, to taking the next right step for us. Crucially it can illuminate our place in the world, giving us the guidance on how best to contribute our unique gifts to others in a way that feels so easy, because it’s so natural.

So reflecting on writing I am grateful for the inspiration, the discipline, the wisdom, truth, authenticity, integrity, action and guidance that it offers, ensures, and delivers.

What’s not to love?

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