Tag Archives: spirituality

A Month in the Shadows

By Will

Apart from a few short outings, I have spent the last month at home with a painful and uncomfortable disk problem at the base of my spine. I have been living in a barren land of flesh and bone and usual activities involving movement, walking and sleeping have taken my full concentration and effort. Sometimes it feels like I’m imprisoned here at home, and I imagine being stuck here forever, in pain and fear of what may be. Part of the self loves to dwell on imprisonment, darkness and stuck-ness, and would quite happily keep me chained up forever. This same self, who I like to call the wolf, runs these horrific story lines past me over and over again in an attempt to convince me of my helplessness and vulnerability. The wolf’s only concern is being in control, and sometimes he has me on my back with his bloody teeth snarling down at me with his dirty paws on my chest.

There have also been times where I have relished the sereneness of being still and used this time to write, reflect and ponder…  my form of meditation. I am fortunate in that the view from my window overlooks a park and the River Thames. Each day I lay watching the children play, animals going about their business and stare at the clouds and the water rising and falling about the wilderness. Having therapy sessions over the phone is not the same and I feel a huge distance between myself and my teacher. Wishing the out of date rules of psychotherapy would allow a home visit, a cup of tea with him, relaxed in my own space. Life as I know it has been put on hold. This recent stillness has led to inner change and a new perspective which is impossible to put into words. Words which may lie somewhere over the distant rainbow. I’m a weary traveler who is resting his bones, a much needed rest perhaps.. My back has done it’s best to support me over the years.

My heart has had time on its hands. Past experiences, especially thoughts about old flames, have been resurfacing and floating around. What could have been’s, and some kind of inner cleaning and clearing is in perpetual motion right now. I feel the need to write letters, to apologise, to explain and to move on. In particular one person from the past has been drifting around inside of me like an ocean, as well as in my dreams, which have been so colourful and vivid. I have a need to reach out and touch this gracious ghost from the past while the memory of her beautiful face is still vivid. I want to show my love and gratitude to her for sharing half a decade with me while I was a lost soul. I want to apologise for not being fully present back then. The timing was all wrong, the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, and now she has beautiful children and a new lover. The wolf is envious, bruised and battered while the true self sits graciously smiling and feeling so happy for her. I have been worrying that my time is passing like the currents beneath the deep river so close to my door. Have I been living my whole life in the confines of fear.. O’ sweet heart show thyself and bless the stillness and the shadows within.

The self is more distant than any star  ~ G.K. Chesterton

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Change is not a Choice

By Will

It always amuses me when I look back to around 4 years ago when I entered therapy for the second time. I had just become a Father for the first time and I desperately wanted access to my son, he was all I could think about. I accept now that I had a pretty firm script in my head about how my new analytical process would proceed. All I thought that I needed was six sessions of CBT, to rid my panic attacks and curb my anxiety over my new responsibilities, and I would be back on the road again. I mean, I had already been through five years of analysis before, and during this time I had gone back over my younger years with a fine tooth comb. In retrospect, I think I must have been using an afro comb with rather large gaps in between each bristle. Much of my first 5 years of analysis was spent avoiding the darker shadows of myself.

My family, friends and my analyst all say that I have changed since then, and I do feel like a different person. I am more aware of my compassion for others and myself and my thought processes are more mindful and steady. This brings to the surface the whole question of legitimate change and whether it is possible, but I will leave that for someone else to write about. What I can say, is that change for me was not a choice, something just happened, and I became different. Over the last 4 years much of my time was spent doing exactly the same things as I had always done, while analysing my behaviour, thoughts and processes simultaneously. This circular process continued undisturbed until real life events happened. My Father and best friend passed away within an 18 month period. Initially this created huge regression, where anxiety rang like bell, and I could have drowned in the combination of all my tears. Somehow those long days passed and eventually I was left very much alone with the dreaded nothingness that I always unconsciously feared. This was one of those periods where I was so grateful to have my therapist alongside me, someone who seemed to have walked a similar path. By facing and living in this desolate and remote land of tumbleweeds and sand, eventually something shifted. All things eventually come to an end.

During this time I experienced various forms of spiritual awakening. One time, I awoke one night to find everything crystal and clear. I visualised my whole life flashing before me and I understood why I am the way I am, and what events had caused me to suffer over the years. I realised we were all connected in a very loving way and I realised how pain and fear were feelings that were crucial to us all and that they all contained necessary energies that we can use. I thought I had finally been enlightened and I actually jumped out of bed and danced under the moonlight. I would love another hit of spiritual awakening but they are illusive, they come when they come. I remember having my very first consultation with a psychotherapist in London in my early twenties and she explained that when the psyche had difficulties, like a tennis ball that had gotten wet, the mind takes it’s own time to dry out. I left that session and never returned, but perhaps in retrospect she was right. Something just happens and you feel different, it is very difficult to explain but on this new phase of my path I became curious once again. I began to venture out and see new things and feel new experiences. That was the biggest change.

Then somewhat out of the blue, something stirs inside once again as new uncomfortable sensations and feelings come to the surface. You hold onto your previous experiences, knowing that nothing lasts forever, but begin to use these awkward emotions as a chance to discover something new about yourself. It enables one to gently pass over scenarios, that happened before your change of feelings, where you may discover a link to something, sometimes something very small, that potentially triggered these new emotions or fears. Change involves faith, faith not only within yourself, but faith in others and in the whole process of living. If you view uncomfortable feelings as bad you will experience them so. I believe that the influence of other people and intimate relationships are fruitful and can enable you to share your depths but ultimately, I am what I love, not what loves me.

The art of love… is largely the art of persistence ~ Albert Ellis

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Growing Takes Time

By Will

Most of us that are on a spiritual journey, who are attempting to get some understanding of ourselves and be more in harmony with our true nature, battle with patience. It takes time to create new patterns of behaviour and thought and to accept and understand those old patterns that we have lived with for so long. Although there are people who claim sudden enlightenment, the majority of people will have to partake in long and often-times painstaking journey’s, where they may have to repeat the same mistakes over and over again until they learn and accept the lessons or truths that they need to. We need to take this long term relationship with ourselves slowly and steadily, and realise that in as much as we have taken years to mis-understand ourselves, it may take the same amount of time to get in touch with our true nature and purpose once again. You can liken this process to learning to play a musical instrument. We can’t play it harmoniously straight away, it’s virtually impossible. We have to learn to play the notes first and then perhaps a chord, then a song, and eventually we can play intuitively.

I once apologised to my therapist for having a ‘nervous day’ and he replied ‘it’s just a day’. How we perceive our situations is important if we are going to spend lots of time within them. If we can also create conditions that allow our true selves to flow we may realise that some of our old patterns of behaviour hinder us on our journeys. For example, the right conditions for coping with grief may not be a party for some but for others it maybe exactly what they need. There are no rules and we cannot learn these things from books. Experience is key, and while we are learning, growing pain is inevitable. If we can learn to flow with this pain, learn to flow with the energy of the pain and realise that it is required for us to have a positive and meaningful existence, in the long run, we can be safe in the knowledge that we are sewing the right seeds to form a secure base for ourselves in the future. Pain comes when we feel that we should be feeling other than what we are feeling, so we create a disconnection within ourselves, rather than simply accepting what is.

One thing that helps us to endure the long gravel path is faith. Some pray for strength and patience while others may ask their angels or a higher being of some-kind for help. Many of us seek meaningful and intimate connections with others to soothe us and support us on our journeys. One thing all faith has in common is that it is shared. We are not mean’t to be alone.

Often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key ~ The Eagles

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