The Elephant In The Room Is Becoming More Visible

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Image by John Hain from Pixabay

This latest blog post is a complete shift away from the usual subject matter that has formulated my posts since I started blogging in 2011.  I have been prompted to write about the once taboo subject of mental health; the reason for this will become clear in due course.  Those of you who have read my book, Eyesight To The Blind, will be aware that mental health issues formed a big part of my earlier life, and for those of you who may be new readers I will give an extremely condensed summary of my experiences before I continue with the post.

For many, many years, no matter where I found myself in the world and in whatever capacity, I always felt that I didn’t belong; like I was in the completely wrong place.  I also felt, for no apparent reason, the most excruciating emotional pain that made me feel as though I was the worst person in the world.  This would normally be triggered by feelings of loneliness and worthlessness.  In addition to that I would experience paranoia (although at the time I would have vociferously denied it) and could often withdraw into myself, especially if I felt that a group of people were excluding me.  When I finally found out, by accident no less, that I had depression, which was in 1996, I estimated that I’d been living with this “thing” for around 28 years.

Now that I had a name for what I’d been experiencing I was able to go about the task of tackling it.  Notice that I have not said that “I suffered” with depression; I will clarify in due course.  I lived with this condition at a time when it was not understood and not spoken about.  If you said you were depressed it meant that you were hacked-off because your team lost on Saturday.  If you happened to persist with this notion of, “I’m depressed”, you would be ridiculed, told to man-up or pull yourself together; after all it’s only girls and sissies who get depression, isn’t it?

I initially went to my GP and asked for “happy pills”; he duly obliged, but I couldn’t stop drinking and we all know what happens when we combine the two.  It’s not exactly a marriage made in heaven.  After an experience that I never want a repeat of, I finally decided that enough was enough; I was simply tired of feeling awful.  Plan “B” was to flush my pills down the toilet, grab depression by the scruff of the neck, look it square in the eyes and (apologies to any minors, religious people, or people of a nervous disposition who may be reading!) knee it in the bollocks.  It worked a treat, I’d got to the point where I was recognising triggers, which is something you can’t do when you don’t know what you are experiencing.  Whenever a trigger reared its head, I simply acted in the opposite way to what I’d always done; for example, if I was feeling excluded I made a point of interacting with people.  However, I wasn’t quite out of the woods..

Around three years later, for a period of approximately two years, I had an experience in the workplace that caused me to be off work sick for a period of six months, with an acute stress related illness.  This was my real turning point.  I was full of hatred, anger and blame, but it was during that six-month period that I learned the root cause of the problem.. it was me.

I was defining myself by my illness and blaming the world for the way I felt.  It was only when I realised that I was the only person who could change my life that my life actually changed.  I realised that who I really am is something that goes way beyond my illness.  I could have gone on blaming other people and circumstances for ever, but no matter what I perceived that others had done to me, no matter how much I hated and blamed, the only person hurting was me.  Yes, I took certain actions, and I’d be happy to go into more detail if anybody reading this is interested; just contact me via the contact form below.  But the reality is, that all along the solution was within me.  I just had to experience what I now refer to as “my great adventure with depression”, in order to arrive in that awareness.  Now to the whole point of this post.

I think it’s fantastic that there is now a much greater understanding and awareness of what is an awful illness.  It’s amazing that more and more people are not afraid to talk about it.  What is especially refreshing is that so many famous sports stars and actors, past and present, are going public and sharing their experiences.  It proves that depression does not discriminate; it will make its home in anybody regardless of their status within society.  The elephant in the room is most certainly becoming more visible.

The concern that I have is this.  While it really is a great thing that so many are opening up about their experiences; especially with social media being so big now, it gives people a platform from which to share.  I see so many negative posts being churned out.  So many people it would seem, are defining themselves by their condition.  This is why I never say that I “suffered” with depression; I always say “I lived with”, or “I experienced”.  When we use “I” or “I am” in a sentence, we need to be very careful what words we use after because they really are defining.  The mind is such a powerful thing; we ARE literally what we think.  So, when we are constantly affirming that we are worthless, useless, inadequate, a victim etc, that is exactly what we will be.  I don’t know what the ultimate answer is, but I suppose that everyone in their own time will make the natural transition in the way that I did.  I just want to finish by saying two more things.

I’m not in any way trying to say that my experience is definitive.  We are all unique (thankfully) and we all have our own pathway.  I’m also not suggesting that the people tweeting and posting negative stuff are wrong.  It is what it is, and we are all at different stages of our journey.  In many cases they don’t know how to reach out in any other way.  I’m simply trying to highlight how harmful it can be when we define ourselves by negatives.

Finally, I wasn’t going to mention any individuals, but I’m going to mention the ex-footballer, Dean Windass.  He was an absolute beast in his day and still looks quite fearsome, but he is one of the many brave souls who are bearing all to the world.  The reason I mention Dean is because he posts regular videos on twitter.  Those videos are never rehearsed, they are completely raw; showing his humanness, and he always says how he feels but also he regularly sends out the message that if you are having a bad day; reach out to someone!  These days there is always someone who will listen respectfully, so don’t suffer in silence!

Like Dean’s videos, I hope that this post has reached out to you, that it has made at least a modicum of sense and that you have been able to take something from it.

Don’t forget, if you want to ask any specific questions about how I dealt with and beat depression, just get in touch via the form below.  Later people…

 

Balloons

Video


Whatever you are doing at this moment, I hope you are keeping safe.  I have decided not to make a personal comment on the current situation because the world and his cat has either suddenly become an expert on all things medical, or they are giving their take and perspective on the spiritual reasons and implications for what’s happening.  Instead I am going to share, what I believe, are a couple of lovely things with you that I found on the internet.  Firstly, I found this on the facebook page of Swindon Spiritualist Centre and Healing Sanctuary (author unknown):

A teacher brought balloons to school and asked the children to blow them all up and then each write their names on their balloon.  They tossed all the balloons into the hall while the teacher mixed them from one end to the other.  The teacher then gave them 5 minutes to find the balloon with their name on it.  The children ran around, looking frantically but as the time ran out nobody had found their own balloon.  Then the teacher told them to take the balloon closest to them and give it to the person who’s name was on it.  In less than 2 minutes everyone had their own balloon.  Finally the teacher said:

“Balloons are like happiness. No one will find it looking for theirs only. Instead if everyone cares about each others they will find theirs as quickly as possible.”

Secondly, I came across this video from the wonderful Rupert Spira:

I really appreciate having you as my blog followers; thank you!

Enfolded In The Love Of Spirit


Photo by Aidan Roof from Pexels

Those of you who read my post Impermanence will know why it is quite rare for me to write about my work away from writing.  However, I felt compelled to share this post after I had what was quite a beautiful experience earlier this year.  If you’ve read the post I referred to above, you will be aware that I have two jobs with the same organisation; one that is a part-time contract based in our main building, and the other, which is on an ad-hoc basis working in the community.  So it happened, that whilst I was at my day job one Friday in February, I was asked if I would be able to work that evening; just three calls in the community.

Around half an hour before I was due to meet up with my colleague for the evening, I received information that we were to make an extra call.  We had taken on another patient on an emergency basis; I must confess that when I read the patient notes I did not feel that the person would be long for this world.  All of our calls were logistically well placed, so we didn’t have far to drive between each one.  The emergency call was the last one; logistically, it fitted perfectly in that order, but also, because it was a new patient, you never know what you are going in to, so it made sense to deal with the “devil” that we knew first.  The idea of a first visit is that you explain the service to the patient and any family members present (what they can expect, what we provide etc.), do what ever they need you to do at that time, then the following day the service “proper” starts.

It was dark and raining, and the property was in a village that neither me nor my colleague were familiar with.  The first thing that happened was that sat nav took us up a dark country lane where there were no houses.  We managed to find a turning place and drove back down to the village and parked up next to the phone box.  The idea was to call the house and use the phone box as a land mark from which to work from.  It was explained to us where the house was, but parking was at a premium along the narrow lanes, so we had to park some distance away from our destination.  When we eventually got to the house, we were met on the steps by a teenager who informed us that the patient had indeed died around an hour previously.

In these cases we always ask if there’s anything they want us to do.  Sometimes the family just want to be alone with their deceased relative.  Other times, we perform a task called “last offices” that means we give the deceased person a wash and clean them up if necessary.  It also involves putting fresh garments on them, if the family so desire, and combing the hair and positioning the body in a dignified way.

When we entered the house it was quite chaotic; there were many people milling around in various states of mourning, also several other comings and goings and to cap it all there was also two boisterous dogs.  In all the chaos we asked if they wanted us to do anything and it was decided that we would simply wash the hands and face, brush the hair and position the deceased in a dignified way.  Eventually, after a few minutes of people walking in and out of the room, we were left alone to carry out our work.

As we set about our task, I was suddenly aware of the most beautiful presence of spirit.  It came very close and enfolded me as I went about my work.  Regular readers will know that I advocate a non-dual existence, however, I also understand that while we are here in the world we will have the experience of duality.  This particular experience demonstrated to me that the apparent “poor soul” who departed this life, was guided home by a Love whose beauty is way beyond the comprehension of the human mind.  It was also interesting to note, that before we carried out last offices, a lady in the house (who I took to be the mother of the deceased) said to me, “I know she has gone to a better place.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey You! Yes You; Nameless One!


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Nameless one indeed, for is it not true that labels and names only serve to impose limitations?  In our day to day lives, of course names are important for practical purposes, but the reality is that who I am has no name; and the same applies to the nameless one reading this post.  My parents may have decided to call my body “Richard” when I was born, but that is not who I am.  I am that which is unlimited experience; and so are you.  All of us nameless ones here in the world acting out our drama in the play of life can be categorised in one of three ways (see, there I go imposing limitations again).

There are those who are completely oblivious to their true nature and who who are firmly immersed in all the pain and suffering that the play of life can bring.  Then there are those who are “spiritual seekers” or “truth seekers” (see, names again!), who have become aware of their spirituality and are seeking to know more.  However, truth will continue to evade you as long as you continue to seek it.  The very seeking of it ensures that you cannot find it.  Why?  Because you are looking for a “thing” and truth as a “thing” doesn’t exist.

The third category (those bloody names!!!) are those who understand that truth simply exists as it is and will reveal itself to you when the conditions are right.  When we allow ourselves to just be in the flow with that unlimited wilderness of abundance, or consciousness if you like, it will pander to our every need.

The Mad House


Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

A priest was giving a religious discourse to the inmates of an asylum.  He was a few minutes into his sermon when one of the inmates started waving his arms about and shouting, “do we have to listen to this rubbish?”  The priest paused, and looked at the support worker who was in attendance and asked, “shall I stop speaking?”  The support worker replied, “no, it’s OK, carry on, you won’t hear any more from him; he only has one sane moment every seven years…

Indeed, one sane moment every seven years; that’s something that a lot of people would give their right arms for in this world that seems to have gone completely mad.  It is so difficult in this day and age, to keep sane in a completely bonkers world.  The problem is that we have all been corrupted by our conditioning, which started at a very early age.

The beauty of Zen, is that once it finds you, you can rest in the natural flow of things as chaos ensues all around.  The thing is not to get sucked into the drama, but rather to remain a witness as the drama plays itself out before your eyes.  In other words, be the stage, not the play.  These days, I’m getting much better at doing this; but I haven’t quite got the knack of never succumbing to the tricks of the egoic mind.  Even though I have noticed more and more lately, that everything I need just seems to flow effortlessly to me.  I still find myself on occasion playing one of the characters in an unnecessary soap opera.  Then inevitably, I have to feel the pain that comes with it before the penny drops and I revert back to the natural flow of the poetry that is Zen.

Don’t listen to the priest (ego), but equally, don’t be content with one sane moment every seven years.  Be neither sane nor insane… Be…

 

 

The Know-All


A rather brash young man decided that he had attained enlightenment and no longer needed the guidance of his guru.  He upped and left the temple and went around the region boasting of his spiritual achievements to anyone who would listen.  He heard that there was a hermitage in a nearby town and decided he would make the journey and thrill the resident seekers and their master with his wisdom.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

En route, he took a pathway through a forest, and as he ambled on his way, he saw in the distance an old sanyassin leaning against a tree; there appeared to be clouds of smoke issuing up from around him.  As the young man got closer he saw that the old man was smoking a long-stemmed pipe.  He also decided that the old man would be an ideal candidate to hear the story of his spiritual greatness.

“Good day Sir”, said the young man, “I am an enlightened soul and it is your good fortune that I happened upon you.  You may throw away your scriptures and spiritual texts, there is no pathway, no individual soul, no karma, no God, there is only the nothingness of consciousness; in fact, nothing exists.”

WHACK!  As quick as a flash the old man rapped the young “master” around the head with his pipe.  As the young man glared at him in anger, the old sanyassin said, “if nothing exists, where did that anger come from”, and he turned and went on his way..

The subject matter of this parable is something that I have written about before.  But, I like this story so much that I wanted to share it here.  Of course, technically what the young man said was correct, however, he fully deserved his rap on the head for his audacious display of ego.  Truly enlightened souls never make the statement, “I am enlightened”, because in consciousness, “nothing” is indeed all that exists.  But, to go around actually speaking of “nothing” in a dualistic world implies also the existence of “something.”  Consciousness, in its limitless state of eternal bliss, has no idea that it is referred to as consciousness, because literally, “nothing” exists.  So, in summary, to speak of being enlightened in a dualistic world only highlights that the ego is still present.  An enlightened soul would never say, “I am enlightened” because the enlightened soul is only aware of the state of enlightenment, there is no duality to imply that there is also the state of “un” or “non” enlightenment.

The Lightbulb Analogy


Image by Susan Cipriano from Pixabay

Here we are then, the last day of 2019, and with 2020 peering over the parapet, I thought I would provide you with some food for thought to take into the new year.  Many of you reading this, particularly if you are from the UK or the USA, will be wondering what the hell is going on with, and in the world.  I’m not going to mention any particular politicians or political parties, but there appears to be millions of people experiencing great hardships, with no foreseeable signs that things will improve.  I also, find this very difficult to comprehend, especially when I allow the world’s dramas to influence my thoughts.  However…

There are a couple of things I’m going to share with you that will give what is happening a bit of perspective.

Imagine that you had some sort of hideous boil on a part of your anatomy.  You would obviously want the boil to heal up and go, but you would also understand that before the boil can heal, all the poison in the form of puss has to make its way to the surface and ooze out.  This is what I feel is happening now as I type.  How long will it take?  Who knows?  The process will probably not be complete in my life time, but at least it is underway.  What we are seeing is the outer reflection of the puss that the collective consciousness of the human race has allowed to poison it’s soul; “as without, so within.”

Another thing to consider is this great analogy that I came across some years ago, but it seems so apt in relation to what is going on today.  Imagine you had a warehouse that was lit by a 40 watt bulb.  One day you get fed up with trying to find stuff in such a dim light, so you decide to replace the 40 watt bulb with a 100 watt bulb.  All of a sudden you can see all the dust and cobwebs that you couldn’t see before.  It’s not that they were not there, it’s not that they have suddenly miraculously appeared; it’s just that you now have a stronger bulb in place that is highlighting all the dirt.  The aforementioned puss was already there, and indeed, has been with us for a very long time.  However, now that the human race is waking up, now that people are becoming more enlightened, now that the light of consciousness is illuminating our planet, we are now noticing the negative stuff more.  Why?  Because it no longer resonates with who we are; we are evolving (or simply awakening to our true nature) and it does not serve our soul purpose; or purpose for Being.

We should also understand that there is so much positive stuff happening in the world too.  This however, is not newsworthy and therefore comes a poor second to all the sensationalist stuff we see and hear in the mass media.  If we simply shine our light wherever we happen to find ourselves in the world at any particular time, and never miss the opportunity to give a helping hand when it arises, then we will not be going far wrong.

I wish you all peace, love, happiness and abundance for 2020.  See you next year!