Words…

Words can hint at depths too deep to swim,
Gulfs too wide for fragile man,
Lives too numerous for this heart
To beat them all;
Winter’s breath of sorrow,
Spring’s new born youth,
The juice of life freshly pressed
On the page for easy reading.
And yet…the void of our incomprehension calls;
Tears for that so far beyond us,
Like a child’s first glimpse of love
In the eyes of passing strangers.
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Beauty

Attentive to the beauty

That is not yours,

It only rests in your hands,

For a long drawn out moment,

An indrawn breath;

Before the feather falls

The pen flies,

The sword cuts.

Living-Dying

Ever new and ever bitter,
Is the cut of mortal acceptance,
live like you were dying (Tim McGraw)
Not only are we  bound to die-
But we are already dead.
The narrowest of edges is our path,
A fate permitting no wavering,
Save the plunge into madness,
That steals consciousness and self-knowledge:
The painful cut of the blade is forgotten,
But not the finality of its end.
*
Such is the fate of the mind,
That lingers on ends and beginnings,
Never on the eternity in-between.
Let me be an inbetweener,
No longer intoxicated by scent of spring,
Nor the sweet decay of autumn leaves,
But ever basking in the summer sun,
Till winter’s morning steals frozen breath,
From lungs that never knew their end.
*
We are not living,
We are not dying,
We are living-dying.

Techniques for getting ‘the mind’ on your side

image credit shoebuyblog.com

Life is chaotic and almost by definition will be full of strife. This is because as human beings we have an in-built need to find meaning in life. This is the great strength and great failing of mankind. If we find a great cause our life will be enriched. If we find something larger than ourselves, we can live and die fulfilled and maybe even make a real difference. But the downside of giving life this structure, of using our minds to build an edifice of dreams and expectations, is that we will inevitably feel let down at some point when things do not go as we want. The other aspect of this is that our minds have been trained both by evolution and since childhood to look for problems to solve.

For example if we are lying in bed and are uncomfortable we will alter our position to feel better. But after a short while we will often take for granted that we are now lying comfortably and find something else we need to ‘fix’. Perhaps our toes are poking out of the blanket and are cold. This process can continue indefinitely. This leads to a seeking negativity mind-set, a mental feedback loop that is constantly trying to correct what we see as wrong with the world.

To a certain extent this can be improved by understanding that we are a small individual in a large and changeable world, and will rarely have everything exactly as we would wish. The control freak in us must learn to let go. But there are also more direct techniques that will help:

1.   Never lose the gift of humour. No longer having a sense of humour is the first sign that you have lost your mental balance. In this condition important decisions should not be made.

2.   Another useful technique is to reverse the normal tendency to look for problems. Instead look for things you have missed but which make your life better. For example I am currently enjoying the incredible power and utility of the Internet to communicate with people across the globe! This should not be taken for granted. This is the gift of perspective.

3.    The last is to concentrate absolutely with what you are doing at the present moment. The effort required to do this is hard to sustain, but improves with practice and when achieved leads to a state where the passing of time is not noticed, for you are too absorbed in what you are doing to think about anything else. This is the gift of focus.

These ideas are not a prescription for enlightenment. They are not the one and only path to happiness. They are ideas that may help some people. They certainly helped me, and continue to do so, on a daily basis. When I feel down, or for some reason find myself in a negative mood I try to cultivate the mental discipline to apply the three techniques above in whatever order is most appropriate. Often for me it is – find something funny with the situation, look for something to be grateful about, and finally refocus on what needs to be done and do it with 100% concentration. Anything else is beyond your control.

Self-help?

Self help: what is it exactly? On the face of it, it appears to be the ability to  address the problems that plague you and your life without outside help. However, it also suggests the existence of an inner strength or power you are presumably unable to tap at present or are unaware of (and that is why you need to read the book, go to the talk or have the life-changing experience).

This has often been called ‘finding yourself’.

So it could be said that you are in fact seeking help from outside yourself, your current self that is. You are looking for a new self, which somehow you already are, but are told that to realise its potential you need to set out on a path of self-growth: from ‘here’ to the longed for ‘there’.

On this path you are not seeking to add anything but rather take away the illusions and misconceptions you label yourself with, and with new eyes discover what you really are. One way this has happened is by hitting rock  bottom – a state of depression where nothing new or interesting is seen, and nothing can ever suprise you. A very dark place indeed. But one day a light will crack open the darkness and introduce you to a new world, one far bigger than the old one, with a fascination that is constantly renewed – enough to hold your interest for a lifetime. This release is what happens when the tiny self or ego that we take to be us is discovered to be only a subset of a wider and real you. This is the Self with a capital ‘S’.

So self-help, at a deeper level, is all about starting off as the little self and ending up as the big Self. It is about discovering who you really are and realising there was nothing wrong in the first place. It is about love. Along the way many skills will be learned and at times this may seem to be what self-help is all about. But actually every new skill mastered is only a easier way of seeing or reminding us that everything is perfectly fine.

That is not to say that we should underestimate the growth of the little self, and the value of all it can learn from the big Self. This is the real meaning of Self-help. It is the big Self helping the little self (you or I) and the little self learning to express or be a conduit for the big Self, which otherwise would be frustrated.

In the coming months I will aim to write about some of these skills and life tools that can help us along this challenging but deeply rewarding way.

(C) Copyright Mark B Williams 2014
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