Brisbane – Australia – April 2021
While briefly on the topic of series, I’m not sure if this is an aha moment or a heads-up. Still, I sense that this upcoming flurry of mind-meanders is likely to contain a proliferation of thoughts prompted by common insecurities felt by a very vast swathe of humanity.
By our collective desires, too, whether they are culturally manufactured or heartfelt.
By our strengths, be they real or imagined.
By all that keeps us constricted during the day and tossing at night.
Anyway … dear Reader, as always when it comes to mind-meanders, it’s whatever comes to mind that will determine the content. For the moment, as always, I’ll just do my best to bring to life each of the whispers that flutter through my mind. Priority goes to the ones that are prompting me to keyboard them, here and now.
What do we desire?
What rainbow are we chasing in the hope of, one day, living a fulfilling life?
Are we ‘awake’ simply because the sun is up and our alarm clock is beeping?
Or are we ‘awake’, as in attuned to the moments underfoot, attuned to our inner self and attuned to Soul’s whispers?
For some, the drive to succeed brings about commendable self-betterment.
For others, their deep desire brings about a laudable new way to the provable betterment of humanity and the planet.
These people are heroes for the greater good.
Heroes, too, are those of us, unknown quiet achievers, who are attempting to re-invent ourselves by aligning our desires with the betterment of all our relationships near and far, starting with the relationship we have with ourselves.
That said, many of the desires by which we hope to, one day, attain our ‘rainbow’ life, contribute neither to our betterment nor to those of others near and far.
Reality check: we outgrow too many of our personal successes too quickly. We sabotage others. Unconscious as most of us are most of the time, we allow our mind to keep us aligned with the limiting beliefs it has cultivated in us since our childhood.
Yes, even in rebelliousness, our ego-persona formed itself around the ideas we accepted as ours … way back when.
Emotions drive further emotions and revolving thoughts.
They drive our thoughts, too. And they guide our actions, our reactions as well as our inactions.
Bottom line: far from energising us, even when attained, our desires ripple downstream in the form of short-lived solutions. Catching us unawares, time and time again, they often yield the next crop of problems.
We are paranoid about embarrassment, shame, procrastination and a lack of self-confidence, and we yearn for mental clarity.
We want to feel productive, yet we struggle to limit the noise and frazzle generated in the moments underfoot.
We want rock-steady emotional stability under stress, but we emotionalise self-doubt and fear.
All along, we tell ourselves we deserve something better.
We want a palette of options. That palette is already in orbit, but we don’t pick our options wisely.
Serious questions: from here on, dear Reader, will we handle ‘the’ situation, whichever situation it is, in a way that makes us stronger and better?
Or will we handle it in a state of heightened anxiety that will immediately – or further down the track – damage us, sometimes including those most attached to us?
We can ask ourselves, ‘Is this ‘thing’ beamed down from the universe here to block me or to help me open up to unknown possibilities?
Heads up #1: possibilities are options. The universe is full of them.
Many of them already have our name on them.
Each one is waiting to be enacted in a manner aligned with our deepest yearnings – not with the superficial culture-induced quick-fixes and cheap thrills that make us throb to their beat.
Of course, we know that we all make many choices throughout the succession of moments that make up each day.
Year in. Year out.
Heads up #2: as long as we go on making choices by peering through the lenses that we know have not served us well so far, we keep walking on the same reactive path.
Nothing much will change, nothing good will be sustained, nothing new will move us until we update our lenses as we, periodically, need to update those of our reading glasses.
While we postpone that update, we dream up a rainbow.
We agitate ourselves.
We forget that our ego-persona is our raft; that she is our tool for personal evolution; that, under Soul’s guidance, she is our only way to move closer to our rainbow. Until we realise this truth, it’s as painful as it is easy to blame ourselves, to blame others, to blame the weather and our politicians for a life that fails us.
Reality check: as our karmically engineered tool, our ego-persona is all we have to inch our selves closer – and closer again – to our elusive rainbow of desires realised.
From sports to entertainment, culture, science and all that lies in between, the desire to find ‘our selves’ through recognised success in any local, national or international field is considered noble.
That’s in the sense that ego-driven pursuits have served as energising templates that thousands of aspiring young ones have, over the eons, attempted to fill in … in their own way.
In such instances, from one generation to the next since the dawn of time, their desires have been the roots of progress.
For many, the path to their rainbow also paved the way to their own detriment.
Fame, success and wealth have always made some hungry for more. They have always made others fearful of losing what they had acquired. Others felt trapped inside a vacuous cloud filled with noise and frazzle.
Many ostensibly successful people seemed to ‘have it all’, as the expression goes yet, on the whole, we’ve heard and read that many of the people we envy, those we try to emulate, those who seem to ‘have it all’, are not any happier than the rest of the population.
Imbalances created by unanticipated wealth and fame often seem to trigger high doses of insecurity, dark thoughts and related mental health issues.
Only the most courageous ones manage to stay on (or regain) an even keel.
Many of the celebrities who have survived the ‘fall into the abyss’ write compelling memoirs revealing the raw details of the destructive consequences that befell them as they were propelled towards a golden arch that shimmered with fame and money, too. And with pride, too.
But the journey to – and through – that arch and has left them deeply scarred.
They share their experiences of being swallowed up by fear, doubt, grief and pain.
Of coming out on the other side.
Of breathing better.
Of feeling emotionally enriched.
Of having, finally, come of age.
The well-documented life of Elton John, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, is a case in point. Still only in his twenties, Elton was on his way to change the world of music forever as a chart-topping superstar. And yet, even at the height of his career, scarred by childhood wounds and insecurity, he struggled with a number of serious personal issues that threatened both his well-being and his career.
Though Elton’s career was constantly rising to new heights and his personal worth has already spiked through the roof, it seems that his young self, huddled in dark whorls of his mega-star mind, was still desperately struggling with self-confidence and self-approval. That little boy was yearning to feel heartfelt love.
Unconscious memories keep us tied to old lacking and compensatory habits.
In Elton’s case, unable to recalibrate itself, his emotional GPS was constantly frazzled by a life of lavish spending and debauchery.
As is well known, excessive cocaine, alcohol and bulimia slipped Elton into a dangerous downward spiral.
Before Elton could turn himself around, he had to turn within.
He had to be brave.
He had to find and acknowledge his real self.
He had to own his pain.
And turn himself around, he did.
He was brave, then.
And to this day, by all accounts, he still is.
In the fulness of time, already in his forties, love found Elton and Elton found emotional stability.
As a well-deserved bonus – or as karmic synchronicity would have it – Elton’s fame as a mega-superstar is still unrelenting.
For many, the complete person that he has become is even more inspiring than the quality of his musical legacy.
Bottom line: of course, we all already know that having more money and more material goods than we need provides neither comfort for our soul nor for our heart.
We know that but, though most of us have our personal palette of blessings, we keep aspiring for more than we already have – more than we are willing to give.
More money than we need to be safe and independent.
More recognition/approval than we need.
More love – more joy of the sort that cannot be purchased.
And ongoing good health regardless of our lifestyle choices.
An interpretation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman of by the Zohar, the main text of the Jewish Kabbalah, reminds us that anger is our self-made nemesis.
“Even when your heart burns with fury at those you envy or despise, or have wronged you, even at the time that your mind is assaulted with thoughts of spite and revenge – even then, you have the power to do the polar opposite of what the beast within you demands you do, to refuse to entertain those nasty thoughts or to express any anger, and instead to deal with these people with respect and even greater kindness to the opposite extreme.”
Definitely not advice to give the faint-hearted but, all the same, it’s the best advice. Of course, we already know that.
In an era before the Covid pandemic, a wise one might have said, ‘You think we are emotionally stable, grounded and resilient? Then, lock yourself up with your loved ones for two weeks.’
Bottom line: when we heal our thoughts, we heal our mind. When we heal our mind, we find our self.
Serious questions: What gets us angry?
What brings us off-balance even as we’re sitting down? Even as we lie in bed?
What do we dread the most?
Why, really why, do these unsolicited emotions and thoughts pop up time and time again?
Heads up: how about taking time – here and now in the moment underfoot – to identify and observe what stirs up fear, anger or resentment within us?
What is it that unsettles us?
What thoughts constrict our gut?
How have our conditioned fears, our longing, the beliefs we have about our selves, about known and unknown others – and the myriad resulting biases – created our quasi-permanent persona-lity?
How to healthily unplug our selves from our psyche?
Thich Nhat Hanh, the celebrated peace activist/Buddhist monk and founder of the Plum Village tradition explains that reciting gathas silently while breathing mindfully with the first line of each poem and breathing out mindfully with the second and so on soothes our mind and brings on calmness.
Traditional Gathas can be written in 2, 3- or 4-line verses, and I like to make up my own.
Inspired by the traditional way, my homemade mini doses of soothing focus serve my purpose. They resonate more personally because they are ‘purpose-built’ to ease my frazzle.
That said, Thich Nhat Hanh urges us to smile a genuine smile as we recite our calming gatha.
Sure, why not smile?
Aren’t we pleased with the way we do our best to be our best, here and now?
And, yes, when I sense the tightening in my stomach due to a limiting thought that’s fluttered down into my awareness or because of a defensive interpretation of someone’s words or their facial movement or body language interpreted as the herald of a difficult conversation, I bring to mind a calming gatha.
I discreetly breathe it in and out as I visualise each line.
Staying with my breath means I don’t lose myself in the reactive energy of self-defence.
In staying with my breath, I ground myself in the moment underfoot – the only one there ever is.
In doing so, I step out of that gut-tightness long enough to regain my inner composure.
Here are some sample mindfulness gathas by Thich Nhat Hanh which, dear Reader, I trust will inspire you to create your own:
is like sitting under a Bodhi tree.
My body is mindfulness itself,
free from all distraction.
Smiling at Your Anger
Breathing in, I know that anger makes me ugly.
Breathing out, I do not want to be contorted by anger.
Breathing in, I know I must take care of myself.
Breathing out, I know loving kindness is the only answer.
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment.
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
For those of us who dream of an escape route that might jump us out the rut we feel we’ve been in far too long, the desire for more, the desire for better offers the only hope there is.
Heads up: of course, an optimistic frame of mind is essential at every stage of our lifelong expedition here on Planet Earth.
But any attempt to bring about the positive outcomes envisaged requires more than words and ‘prayers’.
Moment after moment, Hope wants to be fed concrete and balanced responses to whatever has come down in the moment underfoot.
Again, and again because Hope is forever hungry for coherent actions.
In sustaining that effort as joyfully as possible lies the proof Soul (God, Mother Earth, the Universe] need of our commitment along with the eyes-open understanding that we are in it for the long haul.
No quick fixes.
So often we forget that it’s not ‘more’ but ‘different’ that will inch us closer to our desire-rainbow.
Different, as in coherently different.
Different, as in heartfelt different.
Different, as in resiliently different.
Here’s our predicament:
On the one hand, we want more freedom.
We want to break through, and we want to break free.
Forgetting that we are energy in motion and that we can always seek to expand the breadth of our awareness, we imagine we could do this – if only others didn’t hold us back.
On the other, we want others, all manner of ‘others’ to better contribute to our overall well-being.
Again, we forget that in this 3-D reality we are, alongside Soul [God, Mother Earth or the Highest Intelligence in which we have placed our faith), co-writers scripting the plot beats of our lives.
We create a reality that becomes ours in/out and through the karmic choreography that fills every episode of many seasons of the long series that is our life.
We forget that we are also simultaneously co-producers and lead actors of the good, the bad and the neutral moments that span our lifetime, here on planet Earth.
No wonder we don’t always get things right!
Bottom line: maybe the end result of what we produce can’t be called a ‘one man show’, but it’s definitely ‘a one-person’s creation’ with the universe’.
My mentor, Yudit CS, used to remind me of the duo, us and our soul, each time I mentioned a new plot beat, mostly an ‘extra’ complication in my outer world.
‘Sometimes you like it. Sometimes you don’t. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter. But, CC, whatever is happening to you is what you have helped bring about with the help of the universe. What’s good to know is that from this situation onwards, as always, it’s up to you to take new steps to create what you want to create next. That’s the only way to eventually get to the most healthy place for you.’
We’ve heard it before. It sounds like a cliché, but, of course, it’s true: tough times make us stronger. Tough times apprehended from the inside-out do make us better humans. That’s true.
Life is fair, really.
No matter what comes down, Life always offers us a choice.
As humans living on planet Earth, freedom of thought and freedom of choice have always been ours to exercise.
A choice of mindset and behaviour is always-always ours to make. We know that.
Any circumstance perceived as a complication provides us with the opportunity for reflection.
How, exactly, have we come to be where we are in this given moment?
Are we where we ‘need’ to be?
Where we want to be?
As we want to be – from the inside-out?
For us, mere humans, the ability to know the true meaning behind any of the plot beats that affect us is ‘well beyond our pay grade’, as the expression goes.
It will always be so.
Even when the moon has stopped being the last frontier, it will remain so.
That said, we know that using each of the testing moments underfoot, one at a time, is an opportunity to extract meaning for What-Is. We know that understanding and actively accepting What-Is is the first step toward taking back power in one’s life.
About challenging situations, ‘Gam zu letova’, they say in Hebrew. That, too, is good. Indeed, whether constructive or creative, all our efforts go towards strengthening our core. Our spiritual mettle, too, if we choose to let them. They fortify our heart as well, if we decide to let them.
And our brain, too, because that is what ‘good’ stress does.
Good stress comes from any pursuit we choose to engage in, knowing it will be challenging.
Any survivor of anything, anyone who has thrived by defying the odds knows it’s true.
And we know it, too.
We’ve heard about many of these journeys. We’ve heard these evolved beings frame their struggle with their own words. We’ve heard them unpack the personal desire-rainbow that kept them stubbornly, doggedly hopeful, however doubtful, obscure and frightening.
We’ve seen such journeys made into films.
We’ve seen them come to life in the books we’ve read.
If the idea of our personal endeavour makes us feel good, the steps undertaken will feel positive. Exciting, too, at times, despite the emotional and physical efforts required.
In every perceived complication is embedded a virtual springboard onto which we are intended to jump to bounce higher.
Should we be so emotionally agile to master the jump, the proverbial silver lining is there for the grabbing.
Gymnasts and circus performers learn to jump through hoops, literally.
Each of their jumps is made up of micro-movements.
Each well-practised jump lands them in the position they desire. From there, they are often able to maximise their next intentional move.
Reality check: as for these athletes, each of our moves is a springboard intended to catapult us towards our desired short and long-term objectives.
But talent alone is not sufficient.
Good intentions are not enough.
Though essential, a determined, stoic acceptance of pain is not enough either.
Beyond an accommodating karmically ordained blueprint, quality self-coaching is the main prerequisite.
We are karmically intended to be the gymnast and simultaneously our very own, uber coach for as long as we remain energy bodies compressed in our bodysuits of flesh and fluids.
Flourishing thanks to the competence of our agility, clarity and quality self-coaching is our purpose for being alive – here and now.
Have I forgotten to add that we are also intended to be our most appreciative audience as well?
Of course, we are intended to learn more about the craft of healing our selves.
To succeed, we must be curious about … our selves.
We must be curious about what, honestly, makes us tick – and why.
To do that well, we should make time to analyse our self-imposed limitations and our desires, too.
We should take time to better understand them and their root cause.
We should better understand our reactions and what prompted them.
But we don’t need to understand why that root cause came to be because however it came to be is in the past.
Serious questions: wouldn’t it be a waste of time to try to figure out why there is a pothole in the middle of our street and not in any other nearby streets?
Wouldn’t our attention be better placed on avoiding that pothole altogether?
If it has already tripped us or if it has already twisted our bicycle wheel and sent us flying, rather than curse that pothole and slip into the ‘poor-me’ mode, wouldn’t the logical and beneficial thing to do be to plan ways to avoid a repeat should we come across that pothole once again instead of being distracted by other thoughts?
Reality check: we only need to actively accept What-Is to better communicate with our selves.
Then, once a degree of clarity has been achieved, we set our selves appropriate goals.
As every coach, athlete, achiever, and celebrity knows, games that are worth our time and effort require strategies.
They need tactics to help us stay mentally ready for the rollercoaster moments of life in this 3-D body of ours.
And so, we develop a very stepped plan of action.
They are the tiny seeds of future thriving flora. Of huge and sturdy trees, even.
Nothing on planet Earth ever becomes delicately beautiful, healthy or awesome, without the compounding effect of microscopic changes optimised towards a long-term objective.
Reality check: how we choose to deal with pain – any pain – determines our quality of life. Sure, we can approach any situation like it is an exploration of our current mindscape. We can do that because that’s precisely what it is.
Of course, we won’t get it right immediately.
It wouldn’t be much of a character-building experience if we could.
We breathe one breath at a time.
Just as there is no way we can multi-breathe, we don’t multi-think.
We don’t multi-act.
No matter how social and workplace culture prompts us and encourage us to do that, we don’t. Not anymore.
We create meaning through our attitude in the moment underfoot.
There is no other moment. We know that’s true.
We give ourselves encouragement and great empathy. We know both would have worked so well on our heart and mind if we had had more of each when we were children.
Regardless of how many birthday cakes have already been baked in our honour, our heart and mind are the same.
They have not aged along with our body.
They have not matured.
Immaturity of heart and mind is a characteristic of human nature.
We also generate enthusiasm, and we know how to reward ourselves for each of the tiny, micro-managed shifts we managed as best as we could in the moment underfoot.
We do that time and time again.
We do it as we would have liked our parents to do it way back when.
As, time and time again, we hoped they would.
Bottom line: even if, at the time, our plotted course is imperceptible to ourselves and to anyone else, we know it exists, and we know we’re in ‘it’ for the long-haul.
Of course, we do. And, of course, as we wished our parents had done, we believe in our selves.
We believe in our selves with our heart and with our soul.
[email protected] Claude Saint-Clair
P.S. Dear Reader, I’d love your support in spreading the word about All Matters of the Heart and Soul of our Culture.
Read. Reflect. Share 😊