Molten Lava

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When our deepest beliefs, the ones we thought were rock solid and sacrosanct, are fundamentally shaken and crumble to dust. When our heart erupts and a molten lava flow of feelings begin to burn. How astonishing, how utterly remarkable, that in the midst of these fiery energies – in no longer finding interest in the stories of fear, anger, hate, jealousy or blame that try to take hold – there is nothing but gratitude, awe and wonder for the immutable, indestructible Joy that is our very essence! What is this crazy madness?! How can there possibly be joy in such…

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The Escape Artist

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Here it comes again, that old familiar scene. Tiredness, worry, anxiety. Feeling lost, lonely and confused. Not knowing which way to turn or what to do. Feeling pressure from all sides. Blocked up, closed down, hemmed in. Tension in the shoulders, tension in the brow. A shortness of breath. A tightness in the belly… To avoid the discomfort we reach into our usual repertoire of escape techniques. Maybe it’s thoughts about how faulty or deficient we are, about how we can never get our act together, about how our life is supposed to look. Or perhaps it’s a drink, or…

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Who Is With You Now?

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Worn down, hopeless and dejected – Who is with you now? Who held you when you were told that you were stupid, When you first learned that you were faulty goods? Who has held you through the years Of feeling inhibited and repressed, Of yearning for more, Of pretending in order to cover all of the embarrassing awkwardness? Who holds you when your armour of certainties turn to dust, When you’re exposed once more, Naked and raw, With nowhere left to stand? This One, that’s who: The unnamable, The unlocatable, The undeniable. This One: Who holds all of life in…

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Beyond the Skin

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A friend who once belonged to a particular spiritual group was telling me how some of the members, when feeling unhappy, frustrated or disillusioned, deliberately wouldn’t attend for fear of being judged as having ‘failed’. Since when did spirituality become about denying our experience in order to uphold the image of a smiley, happy, untouchable, unflappable, super-positive, spiritual know-it-all?! Isn’t it precisely the longing to be free of this kind of self-repression that draws us into ‘spirituality’ in the first place? We can change the scenery, the characters and the costumes as much as we like, but until we fundamentally…

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The Visceral Throb

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When we’re fed up with all our painful, unwanted conditioning. When we want our life to fundamentally change, we can tie ourselves up in knots trying to make it happen, trying to reach some longed for idea of ‘freedom’. “Why should it be so difficult?” we might ask. Because the supposed ‘me’ that’s trying to solve the ‘problem’ is the cause of the ‘problem’ it’s trying to solve! No wonder we feel overwhelmed. What if we just drop it all? All the strategies, the reasoning, the spiritual concepts, the idea of destroying our conditioning, the hope of some kind of…

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Feedback Loop

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Anyone who has ever used a PA system will know that if the microphone picks up sound from the speakers a feedback loop is created. The sound gets continually reamplified and you hear a painful, ear splitting squeal. Our mental suffering operates in much the same way. Whenever our self-identity is threatened our feelings begin to jangle. Thoughts then rise up to escape the bodily distress and we start judging and blaming others, or ourself, which only serves to raise our anxiety levels higher. Then come more thoughts to escape the added discomfort, bringing more anxiety, bringing more thoughts, and…

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What is Happiness?

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Ask anyone what they want most out of life. What do they reply? Initially maybe ‘lots of money’, ‘a nice house’, ‘a wonderful relationship’. But what if they go deeper? Why lots of money? Why a nice house? Why a wonderful relationship? Because they think it will make them happy. Happiness is what we truly want. When we feel un-happy, un-comfortable, we want it to go away. That’s why we seek. But rather confusingly, as we embark on our seeking, we unexpectedly find ourselves encouraged to welcome ‘un-happiness’, to get curious about ‘misery’, even to grant it an open invitation…

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Shrinking Away from Life

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It can be incredibly frustrating to find ourself continually shrinking away from life, continually having to modify our behaviour because of fear. Maybe we look for a new strategy to take on. We bravely decide to meet our fears head on, in order that they’ll finally dissolve away. But in needing them to disappear they still have a hold over us, and that’s not freedom. What if those fears are our dearest friends? What if they are pointing out how we still imagine we are a limited self that needs to escape discomfort? Reminding us that our real, boundless nature…

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Beyond ‘Mindfulness’

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Performance coaches, therapists and fitness experts are doing it. Nutritionists are doing it and sharing it with their clients. It’s being taught in hospitals, prisons, businesses and even finding its way into the school timetable. What is the ‘it’ I’m talking about? The ancient practice of ‘mindfulness’. Of being ‘present’. Many of us who’ve never even opened a spiritual book or sat on a meditation cushion are now learning to simply stop… to observe the rise and fall of our breathing… and become aware of whatever thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, sounds, tastes and smells are happening in the here and…

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Origami

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I have a friend who is really good at the Japanese art of paper folding. Whenever we’re together I’ll often discover a discarded scrap of paper that’s been miraculously transformed into a beautiful flower. Imagine a boundless sheet of paper, imbued with the talents of the ultimate origami master; unfolding and refolding with endless creativity into an infinite variety of forms, whilst never becoming anything other than itself. In believing we are separate and limited we identify exclusively with one of those forms: a figure called ‘me’, along with ‘my thoughts’, ‘my feelings’ and ‘my sensations’, that looks out at…

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