Blog

Important Fundamentals You Need to Know About Earthing Yourself

Earthing and How It Works

Significant evidence is building up from research around the world that the body does not like being unplugged from the earth due to synthetic shoes and surfaces. This is a ridiculously simple yet logical factor in modern life, especially for city living. Bare-foot groups have even started up in cities internationally and on social media. The astounding factor, is that it could be one of the key factors in a huge array of systemic and chronic modern day health issues.

If you haven’t looked into it, this is a snap shot of the fundamentals from Clinton Ober’s book “Earthing”, co-authored with Stephen T. Sinatra M.D. (cardiologist) and Martin Zucker (health and alternative medicine author).

Being connected to the electrical charge and electron rich flow of the earths surface seems to be an intimate aspect of balance and regulation of practically every function and system in our electro-chemical bodies, including nervous systems, metabolic regulation, blood and heart health, hormonal and electrical cycles tied in with cycles in nature. The functioning of organisms such as bacteria and mitochondria that make up much of our mass is also being explored with building evidence of earthing as a health factor at this foundational level of longevity. Both mental and physiological balance and functioning is indicated along with improved alertness, energy and longevity.

Benefits

Some of the basic benefits are:

  • Rapid reduction of inflammation
  • Reduction or elimination of chronic pain
  • dynamic blood flow improvement improving multiple body functions and health
  • Reduced stress
  • increased energy
  • improved sleep and feeling rested when awakening including improvement to disrupted circadian cycles
  • Accelerated healing form injuries and surgery

Research and control group tests that discussed revealed the above benefits in the range of 80-100% of participants! (pp.43-48). Other tests show normalisation in the amount and rhythms of cortisol (the stress hormone) production.

The huge connection between many chronic and terminal illnesses with chronic inflammation is changing approaches to treatment through the health professions. The long list of conditions (p.65) include; allergies, Alzheimers disease, ALS and MS, Anemia, Arthritis, Asthma, Autism, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes types 1 & 2, Fibromyalgia, Intestinal disorders like Crohn’s and IBS, kidney failure, Lupus, general pain, Pancreatitus, Psoariasis and eczema.

Experiments also show a calming effect on brain frequencies and a normalisation in muscle tension (p79,80). An electro-physiology experiment on acupuncture points showed that grounding generated readings indicative of reduced inflammation and energised internal organs. The study suggests particular electron-transfer occurs in the highly conductive water-control meridians related to kidney and bladder including the major K1-UB meridian that has points related to all organs.

Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Nervous System Function

Grounding in quoted studies activated the parasympathetic nervous system (that calms body processes) while increasing respiration, stabilising blood oxidation and inducing a slight rise in heart rate. Continued increase in efficiency of oxygen update revealed an increase in metabolic activity. These physiological benefits emphasis how our bodies have evolved to utilise the energy of the earth as an integral part of its cycles, the regulation and balance of systems and biological processes.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a well known part of recovery in sports, and ongoing studies showing less inflammation and faster recovery and healing means many sports medicine practitioners are using grounding with athletes during and after training and events.

Experiments on looking at the immune response following vaccination led Polish researchers to suggest earthing could be a primary factor in regulating endocrine and nervous systems (pp.87-100).

Dr. Steve Sinatra links earthing to low cardiovascular diseases in barefoot cultures and generations and cites his studies, observations and experiments that show “across-the-board benefits for common cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, and diabetes.”

Before and after blood studies show autoimmune system (ANS) changes and Zeta Potential (the electrical charge of blood cells) increases which allows for blood vessels to separate and blood viscosity to normalise. Clumping of cells and thick clotting blood is observed with many people with cardio vascular issues & diabetes. Diabetes is a modern scourge that impacts an estimated 3.4 million people a year and this number is increasing. Various doctors and studies in the book discuss significant results for diabetics, citing earthing as a missing link in the approach to improving or reversing this condition (pp.123-127; 129,130). The significant and rapid counteracting of inflammation and increasing blood flow from earthing provides significant and fast improvements.

HRV (Heart Rate Variation) factors also increase which is indicative of better physiological adaptation to stress and general internal and external changes.

Kidney function

Dramatic improvement and even reversal of kidney damage and dysfunctions is also covered in the book for people with diagnosed conditions and even those already on dialysis. The effect of earthing on sleep, improved circulation and electrodynamics of blood, normalising of cortisol (the stress hormone) along with less inflammation and pain are likely contributors to improved blood pressure for many people with issues commencing regular earthing (p.135).

Other Benefits

Other benefits discussed are improvements for Depression(p. 48,135,154); (pp. 148,149,169) much is added from researchers as well as testimonials on the disappearance of such inflammatory related chronic conditions like allergies, arthritis (p. 170), and back pain(p.177); inflammation of blood vessels, jet lag, Lupus, and MS (Multiple Sclerosis) (p.180-185); sleep apnea and stress relief (p.190); women’s issues like PMS, menstrual pain, menopausal symptoms (pp.204- 220); and, sports injury healing and recovery (p.221).

While earthing is not a claimed cure for autism, its observed to have a calming effect, improve sleep patterns, promote better speech and socialisation. This may be linked to recent autism studies showing links with brain inflammation and immune system dysfunction (p.172).

The Umbrella Effect of Earthing

Our skin is a great conductor for the flow of abundant and energised electrons from the earth’s surface (negatively charged). This endless source of electrons are not only used in antioxidant processes in our bodies to reduce free radicals and inflammation, grounding also provides a shield of energy around us at the same charge as the earths surface to lift the strong positive charged area (+ 350 volts) above the earths surface above our heads (p76,77).

General Health and Longevity

As an added note – latest research on health and longevity is finding much depends on the exchange of information between microbiota (micro-organisms) in our food, in our body (gut, deep in the skin and bacteria derived organelles in our cells for example) and how that impacts energy processing and metabolism. With the improvements of earthing on metabolism and other specific physiological changes observed, future research on any improved behaviour and health of needed bacteria in our bodies may shed even more light on how it effects so many benefits to all aspects of health.

ATP production in the mitochondria is a key to heart health, energy production as well as the rate and efficiency of cellular repair and reproduction. Various researchers and specialists are advocating that earthing has an impact on this core process to a healthy long life through its many benefits as well as supercharging the electrons being utilised in the ATP production line (p.142, 143). More research is needed on this.

The calming effect on the mind and physiological systems, the balancing of hormone/endocrine systems and the connection it gives to the earth make earthing a great part of general therapeutic wellbeing and as a benefit to mindful presence and meditation practices.

Connecting to the Earth

So if you or a loved one have any of the above health issues or you want to utilise earthing to further strengthen you health, vitality and resilience, then go barefoot wherever and whenever possible on grass, soil, sand (especially moist for conductivity) and gravel. Even concrete can have enough conductivity, depending on insulation under it, to have a positive impact. Vinyl and wooden surfaces do not conduct. A half hour to forty minutes are enough to activate many of the measured physiological improvements. Salt water wading is great as it is highly conductive. Fresh water is good although not as conductive. A barefoot walk in the grass for fifteen minutes can shake off jet lag or a headache.Alternatively, there are now earthing products to have you earthed or grounded during sleep or at the work desk. Look online at ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’ sites for bed, desk and floor pads, bedsheets, patches for specific areas of pain and even grounded shoes.

Happy bare footing!

Recommended Reading

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! By Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra M.D. and Martin Zucker (Basic Health Publications Inc., 2014).

Photo credit: Riccardo Palazzani – Italy on Visualhunt.com/CC BY-NC-SA

Facing Death to Better Face Life

There are three big benefits from contemplating death in a positive sense. Firstly, it adds to appreciating every living moment, making the most of it, and not taking things and others for granted. Secondly, it adds a sobering depth and motivation to contemplating the big picture of life and contemplating spiritual meanings. Thirdly, it gives perspective on what the little things and big things are in life and worth your energy and focus. In other words, what is important and not taking too much too seriously.

In terms of spiritual growth and general maturity, as we let go of fear and embrace life more fully, one of the final fears to face and move through is the fear of loss and death. It may not be the concept of death that is frightening but times in your life when you come close to it personally or with someone close, or when you get a sense of letting go fully into something unknown where your own sense of self is put to the test, then facing death and fear of death can seem pretty close.

Spiritual awakening as a transformation ultimately hits the chord of any fear of death, because true awakening marks the end of identification with the ego self. This can feel like a type of death for the part of us we are letting go. In the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 6:37-39), Arjuna’s question reveals one of the final fears and anxieties in the mind of one who has recognised the truths in Sri Krishna’s teachings yet still has doubt in himself to fulfil them. Self doubt feeds this final fear when we are poised to let go of what is tangible and familiar to the ego mind and step in faith towards the values and consciousness of the higher Self. Essentially Arjuna is asking what happens to a person who is unsuccessful in yoga (spiritual union) who has let go of material identity but has not mastered his mind, so ends up short on union of consciousness as well as material success and identity. It is a fear of being lost between worlds, of failure and loss in gaining nothing.

Sri Krishna’s answer (Gita 6:40-44) reveals the Gita’s view of life and death. He reflects on the immortality of spirit as consciousness and that anyone with good intentions and actions will never meet with an evil plight or death. The idea of reincarnation is a strong part of Indian thought and culture, providing a context and karmic rationale for both heavenly and worldly, life and death consequences for choices about living one’s life. Whether you are of a culture or personal belief in reincarnation back in the material world or incarnations through higher levels of spiritual realms beyond this world, the same principles apply, whereby salvation does not arrive by merit of a heavenly pass at death. Rather death is just a portal to further ongoing existence and where we continue to reap what we have sown, playing the main role in our own salvation and development towards true awakening.

Similarly (Gita 2:27-28) is less poetic but very clear and applicable to all of us whatever our faith, convictions or belief. Considering a universal truth in this world for those prescribing to different views of life beyond death, no one can argue about the inevitability of death. Krishna notes this and the veiled nature of existence before and this material life as a fact of life, so “why lament about it”?

That everything material changes and passes is cause to ponder the big questions about reality, before and after the fleeting time we have in our current physical body, and the profoundness of experience and consciousness accessible to us. Whatever our lifestyle, bodily deterioration is occurring gradually and is ever present on a physical level, until at some point the body will be cast aside (Gita 2:22).

Easwaran in his Gita companion says “It is good to face death with courage, but that is not enough; we must learn to face it with understanding.” (p.191). In a spiritual sense, through meditation and practice of presence generally, we can become familiar with consciousness that transcends sense organs and objects, including projections of mind. This transcendent awareness brings with it a sense of living awareness and identity independent of the body and thinking mind. Thus, an intuitive sense or even knowing of death as a doorway to another state of pure consciousness comes as a natural part of insight and realisation of the nature of this unchanging consciousness from which our ever-changing perceptions and responses arise.

Being mindful of death can be a means of making the most of each living moment, of the profoundness of every moment. Some saints and seekers do things to deepen this mindfulness. Saint Teresa of Avila kept a skull on her desk. Yogis, saints and masters in India sit before cadavers to meditate to help them transcend mortal mindedness. Warriors (spiritual and military) or those living in harsh conditions often use the inevitability of death to fuel their conviction and focus on their conscious choices, actions and life path. It fuels comradeship. It heightens the focus, conviction and mind power of shamans.

In the Gita (8:12-13), Sri Krishna gives Arjuna a crash course in how to die which is the basis for various meditations and mudras for unifying mind and soul, as well as preparing for optimum consciousness during death. Basically, the meditation describes withdrawing the vital energy and focus from body and senses into the mind where a mantra and intention towards the divine or consciousness of consciousness itself is the sole awareness accompanied by the sound of Aum. This is full immersion in pure awareness and presence. From there in Gita terms the consciousness transcends mind “into Buddhi, the higher mind, and finally into what is called the causal body, the seat of I-consciousness. Easwaran discussing this verse describes the process “like taking off an overcoat button by button, then removing your jacket, and finally your pullover, folding each piece carefully and setting it aside.” (p.194).

In normal meditation, some vitality is kept in the body to keep it living. Experienced meditators will vouch for a heightened sense of aliveness and awareness when in this state than normal body consciousness. Whatever the details of after death existence, Sri Krishna notes the unchanging nature at the seat of consciousness itself, which can be realised in life and continues after death.

Uniting all faculties “by the power of yoga” or the biblical “loving God with all your heart, your soul, your strength and mind” to achieve deep awakening requires sustained devoted and dedicated effort. It does not have to be complicated, done always with closed eyes, but rather a consistent part of being present while we attend to living our lives fully present in our selves, our environment and others. It does require a balanced character and approach to life. Spiritual teachings universally view development of the soul and ‘awakening’ as a cumulative result of mindful practice while living a meritorious life as the key to fulfilment and happiness, as well as readiness for when it is time to go.

Arjuna asks Krishna ‘what if we aren’t ready and haven’t got there?’ The assurance is when death is understood through contemplation and knowing the nature of consciousness itself, it looses its terror. Much of the problem with dying is the inability to let go, along with regrets about life. As Easwaran points out, in conscious dying “all attention is on where you are going: there is no attention on what you are leaving behind, which means no clinging. It’s not so much that you’re not afraid of death; the question simply does not arise”. In other words, like in deep meditation and practice of presence, the process is less about letting go of identification with thoughts and body and more an engagement with a known existential state of being.

Many people who have been in a dangerous instant where they thought they were about to die, experience no fear and an instant acceptance. I have experienced this a few times. My daughter experienced it when she fell from a cliff and thought that was it. As an observer in that instance I confronted my worst of fears as a parent then went into protect and rescue mode when I saw her mercifully injured but okay below. It is different for the person facing this moment for themselves, when all of life has lead to one key instant.

The cumulative effect of spiritual effort contributes to our level of consciousness at death. Meanwhile, we can enhance the experience and depth of conscious choosing in our daily lives as the layers of conditioning stored in the material mind is unravelled in the light of that consciousness and spiritual identification. The opportunity for continued learning and discovery, facing challenges “calmly, courageously, and compassionately” is part of our purpose.

I’ll finish with a final note from Easwaran that the getting of wisdom is not just learning more, but the capacity to learn from past mistakes while facing new difficulties by ‘detached intellect’. “Detached intelligence is the very source of wisdom … that acquired wisdom awakens us to the extent we listen to it, not so much in the head as in the heart.” (p.203).

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Recommended Reading:

God Talks To Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realisation Fellowship, 2nd Edition 1999)

The Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society, 15th Edition 2015)

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountanin Center of Meditation, 2011).

Steps That Will Lead to No Ordinary Moments

It’s been over forty years since I first put on a Gi and started martial art training. Shin Kyu Sik, my first instructor (in Tang Soo Do) many years ago said to me, “If you are unlucky these days you may get into a fight once or twice in your life, but you fight battles within yourself every day”. That simple message applying my training to the inner game of life has stayed with me all my life. Since then I have studied various forms of Karate and Kung Fu spanning soft internal styles as well as hard external styles. Martial arts for me has not been about fighting another opponent as much as training mind and body to face large and small everyday battles of life effectively with alert calmness and equanimity. Of course proficiency in techniques is part of the art, but its greatest practicality in modern life is as a vehicle for strengthening mind and character. In the last ten years especially, passing this on to others as an instructor and coach is immensely rewarding.

In these interesting times as more momentum builds in social progress, the pressure to keep up with technology and social trends. At an entrepreneurial level to stay relevant in how we communicate and offer products and services we must also keep abreast of diversification and new niches of business. Information and knowledge is becoming as much a high demand and major commodity as is any material commodity product or service. Our times are becoming characterised by designer lives, where customised controllable environments, homes, transportation, fashion and interests are more accessible faster. Our mindset is also more important in adapting and thriving among more and more options, complexities of challenges, with a greater emphasis on competing and performing with our minds rather than just working with our hands. Self-doubt, negative beliefs, emotional and mental resistance to change, susceptibility to stress and many other challenges to psycho-emotional wellbeing are things we must combat in our lives more than ever. Creative thinking and cutting edge knowledge in a particular field of interest is becoming more important. Thankfully there are also more supports and sources of information on how to combat personal obstacles and build knowledge and skills than ever before.

The growing demand for insights and skills on playing the inner game of life is beginning to catch up with the expanding demand for tools of developing the skills, processes and knowledge needed to move forward in any given industry. Many of my posts refer to ‘conscious presence’ because it is a passion I have and I believe it is at the root of mastering one’s inner game, whatever the journey, as well as providing for spiritual growth.

Ancient philosophies such as Taoism and Zen, are perhaps easier to couch in modern terms than main stream religious sources, for their minimal religious terminology and universality in presenting principles for truth, righteous living and heightened consciousness. They make a play of paradoxes and opposites to help us pierce the dualism of mind and form to get to unity of pure consciousness and presence in the moment. In this way, practice and understanding promises a better conscious observation of mind-stuff as it arises and more conscious choice as to what we take on or let go in our individual approaches to life. Conscious observation of self is transformational in itself while also providing an inner platform from which to consciously re-design our own thinking and focus.

In the meantime the age-old clues as to what that foundation is, behind thoughts and feelings – conducive or not so conducive, still provide apt guidance towards the self awareness that enables self-transformation and development. In the end, contacting and aligning with the true substance of what and who we are beneath it all becomes the most authentic and rock solid foundation to being solid, happy and empowered. It is connecting and living from a deep conscious self awareness that enables us to know who we are, what we really want and know our purpose. It is where we can find fulfilment in what we are and do, as well as create lives where we can be and do more fulfilling things.

Because this seat of ‘self’ is beyond concept (thought) and form, words like ‘space’, ‘presence’, ‘pure consciousness’ ‘mindfulness’ , ‘essence’ and ‘state-of-being’ are modern terms for an awakening experience that might have once had associations with terms like ‘spirit’ and ‘God’. Whatever the words, for words are only words, it is an authentic and immediately personal experience that is relevant, liberating and empowering, that people are increasingly looking for (knowingly or sub-consciously). The age old trend for increasing peace and prosperity is becoming real for more and more of the worlds population.

As has often been the case historically, it is often in the face of challenges and adversity where we are most likely to go beyond our familiar dependencies and escapism to get to a new depth and breadth of being, because a real crisis occurs when the old familiar ways become inadequate. It is discomfort, inner tension and real life needs that drive us to dig deeper and open up to a greater source of strength, clarity or sense of purpose and connection in life.

This is where the training I began to discuss above can come in handy, as does the way we live in general. Practical training and philosophies can offer a form of view and experience that brings us to lucid moments at times we would otherwise go into ‘flight or fight’. Certain mind training provides reference points for the formless, where our ‘aha’ moments can arise. A principle that is referred to in the paradoxes and play of opposites in martial arts, Taoism and Zen is ‘non-action in action’ and ‘action in non-action’.

It is not very ‘zen’ of me to conceptualise this principle. .. however … it applies to an experience that could be described as meditation in action. In a pure moment of being present we can perform an action with full clarity and consciousness, rooted in the space and consciousness from which the action is occurring. If we are fully aligned and attuned in an action being performed, and identifying with the space or ‘non-action’ in which it is occurring, a quality of ‘nowness’ enables purposeful, creative and fulfilling focus to occur. Also conscious alignment and attunement with the stillness and being-ness from which any given action has arisen, is an inner action in and of itself – the action of aligning and attuning the consciousness itself.

This awareness in action while knowing the reason and benefits of what we are doing at any time in the day, nourishes the consciousness of feeling in the flow of life and energisation by doing something that invigorates a sense of purpose. This is compared to the dullness of biding time, doing something for the sake of it, being in a mindset of ‘having to do’ something we don’t want to do or really care about. These negative types of mindsets take us away from being empowered and conscious individuals living in sync with life in general. Transformation of consciousness and reality occur together.

A simple example comes from Zen in the form of Zen walking. Walking can be a mundane thing we do unconsciously to get somewhere we want to be or maybe would rather not be. However, even this simple process can be used as part of enjoyment and self-mastery, especially if we try it as a conscious practice a number of times. Try this version of practice on a weekend, start or finish of the day and go barefoot on wet sand or grass to get the full benefits of earthing and restorative electron flow in and around the body in addition to the exercise for mind. This helps balance and replenish mind and body as well as practicing mindfulness:

  • allow the breath to become open, flowing and fully relaxed
  • stand still and balanced, gaze slightly down along the nose, feeling through the legs and feet into the ground, breathe in the lower belly, arms relaxed by the sides or finger interlocked comfortably at the lower abdomen where you are taking the breathe.
  • Begin to walk slowly, steadily and purposefully in a circle or straight line with a soft steady gaze and calm natural breath.
  • Allow your steps to be slow enough to feel the point of balance on each foot rolls from heel to toes and the other foot lifts and moves forwards.
  • Try adjusting the speed until the walk feels slow, steady and natural – encouraging a strong sense of balance and being with each step and the movement during each step.
  • Do this long enough (5-20 minutes) that your inner body awareness and outer awareness feel unified (no boundaries) with breath and movement.

Once you do this you can subtly do it while browsing in a shop, walking from the desk to printer or table to refrigerator – any moments through the day to train oneself towards consistent mindfulness.

Waking up in conscious presence each day and appreciating the song of birds outside my window, bringing that wakeful presence into body awareness, the living space around me and then my actions throughout the day, adds so much to what I consider my quality of living and enhances my relationships. It is an aspect of where spiritual practice and daily living are one and the same. The accumulated store of conscious moments over days, weeks and years bring you to an enriched space where (to quote Dan Millman) “there are no ordinary moments”.

Photo from Visual Hunt (quote added)

True Life Riches That Bring Love and Freedom

The Fullness of Love

Having a life full of love means being able to receive and feel love in ourselves along with a life of sharing it with others. There is an undying and causeless love we can draw on at anytime which gives our relationships and occupations meaning and purpose when we can love each other and what we do. Knowing and doing what you love with love is fulfilling in and of itself because it is embodying, expressing, sharing and channeling this love into the world as you experience it.

The Bhagavad Gita 13:27 says: “He sees truly who perceives the Supreme Lord present equally in all creatures, the Imperishable amidst the perishing.” Swami Sivananda describes someone with this view as self-realised. Sivananda likens the divine essence in us all as like the heat that is common in all kinds of fire, the gold that is the same in different ornaments and light being the same from different lamps.

Paramahansa Yogananda refers to the ground of all creatures who share the same substance of life which is the Lord as consciousness (chit in sanskrit) and existence or being (sat). Yogananda goes on to equate our identity as creatures and mortals with delusion and perishing, yet “as children of the Most High, sons of the Creator, we partake of His uncaused and indestructible nature.”

The cosmology of the Gita can be brought down to ourselves as the centre of the universe as we each experience it, not as isolated orphans, but as part of a living conscious universe with the capacity to live in a way that benefits and harmonises the rest of life. According to Easwaran, the Gita proposes the whole in each of us, as each of us is an expression of universal consciousness in which is contained the entire universe. Thus we can see ourselves in each other and in all “which is the basis of universal love”.

To put it dramatically, the whole cosmos is a setting for us to rise above it and go beyond time, place, and circumstance into the supreme reality that is God”. Easwaren (p.52)

True Freedom of the Muni

The Gita 2:55-57 describes the freedom of the muni (one who can dissolve his mind in divine presence or God) as relinquishment of worldly desires, entirely contented in the Self, not shaken by anxiety under afflictions nor attached to happiness in favourable circumstances, free from worldly loves, fears and angers – he is settled in wisdom and steady discrimination.

Part of the practice of this relinquishment can be in the small things in life. Easwaran brings it right down to basics, using eating your broccoli as an example of weakening the conditioned mind which is happy only with what it likes. With practice and maturity “you find yourself no longer compelled to do what you enjoy, but instead enjoying whatever you do.” (p.160). Another aspect is what I described in a previous post as “embracing the good, bad and the ugly”. Meanwhile, another attribute of the muni is to absorb worldly desires into oneself then dissolve them in the vast ocean of presence.

Yogananda refers to pure bliss from meditative and spiritualised actions as the source of complete satisfaction and supreme happiness of the muni. It is this that enables us to embrace all aspects of our life with equanimity and absorb all desires into a greater and stronger bliss. Yogananda gives us the ideal of the perfect sage, whose outer nature still retains some egoity as an individualised consciousness in the form of a spiritualised ego retaining the bliss of presence even after meditation and while performing actions in life.

Many of us do not realise there is no pleasures of the flesh without a soul identifying with the body for it to happen. Yet instead of identifying with soul presence, we cling to bodily and worldly pleasures for satisfaction and relief from the rigours of life – “just as a mad lover, identified with his beloved, thinks his happiness dependent on her and her alone!” The wise man perceives all bliss is contained in the inner self, the nature of the soul being different to the nature of the body. “As fear is caused by a sense of impending misfortune, the wise man, identified with the soul, knows no such desires. Anger results from the nonfulfillment of a bodily or mental desire; the muni harbours no such desires.”

Finally, Yogananda explains the neutrality of the wise in all circumstances, is not a heartless indifference but conscious control and calming of the faculties of consciousness. The conditioned mind is as a “puppet of nature”, actions and reactions an excitable yet predictable mix of delusive influences. The key is in recognising the distinction between the blessed nature of the soul and the excitable and transitory nature of body and mind.

Easwaren describes being truly free as when no mental state or “emotion can overwhelm you, no craving can drive you into action”, where dependence on others and outside circumstances and the tides of fortune no longer hold any sway, there is no compulsions or need to manipulate anyone. The “heart is full of joy and your mind full of peace” and whatever occurs you always experience true completeness. (pp.57,58). The recognition of the depth if these attributes is where we can access them through authentic and consistent practice of presence in stillness and in action.

Commenting on a similar verse in the Gita, Yogananda explains (Gita 2:70) that the ability to absorb all desires within, keeping an inner ocean of quiescence filled to the brim, does not mean abandoning good aspirations – “in spiritual life giving is receiving.” He quotes Jesus words in Matthew 25:29: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Actively pursuing a desire to give joy and peace, or any acts of goodness to others will bring more joy and peace to the doer. The deeper we go in drawing on inner love and peace in living and sharing our life, the more vast an ocean of divine Self is made available to one and all to commingle in the universal ocean of divine life and consciousness.

In this post I draw on the wisdom of two saints and master yogi’s Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Sivananda as well as the wise and much loved devotee of the Gita, Eknath Easwaran. It is always good to draw on the pearls of auspicious and venerated teachers to whom I give thanks.

Recommended Reading:

God Talks To Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita, by Paramahansa Yogananda (Self Realisation Fellowship, 2nd Edition 1999)

The Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society, 15th Edition 2015)

Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation and Indian Philosophy, by Eknath Easwaran (The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 2011).

Embracing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It goes without saying that most religious and spiritual practices and systems have their pearls of wisdom and approaches to gaining spiritual experience and realisation. Foundational pillars for building a spiritual life, aligning our lives and actions with divine truth and presence, are initially morals and ethics. It is the positive inner response to morals and ethics as children that first initiates our spiritual journey. Later we begin to feel our personal convictions around them and let them shape and define our decisions and actions. Ethics and morals can be conditioned by beliefs and culture or they can be more universal.

Attitudes and convictions around human rights are an example of what is ethical or moral in one culture can be seen by another culture as immoral or unethical. Religion and culture, history, and how harsh or conducive life conditions are, have an effect on the mores evolved in a civilisation. Thus, we see in some cultures, a disparity between how they treat their ‘own’ compared to outsiders. This is particularly strong in those cultures and religious sects that still retain their links to a long history of tribal life and warfare, or having to have strict codes of conduct to survive harsh conditions. Similarly, attitudes of rights even within a sect, tribe or community can be in conflict with ethics and morals of outsiders when it comes to things like treatment of women, children, the old and sick, the influence of security and ware fare as well as trade.

As our personal spiritual characteristics mature, ethics and morals become part of a more integrated and universal set of convictions which is what I refer to as values. No matter what the conflicting ethics and morals between different cultures and people, there are common values of love and support within the family, codes of courage and honour, ideals of love, compassion, beauty and the sense of truth, as well as values around codes of conduct to do with honesty, goodness, and considerations of the sovereignty of the individual inclusive of consideration of the wellbeing of the group.

I am of the view that personal spiritual maturity raises an individual’s values above the conditioned mores of his or her own culture to more universal values that are the shared ideals of most major religions and globally influenced modern philosophies. The more values can be applied universally to all peoples at all times, be applied equally to all so that unity (not uniformity), wellbeing, prosperity and sustainability are promoted equally to all as well as to the resources required for the future, the more those values resonate with the true nature of life and living consciousness itself. The individual and the group must be sustained and given the opportunity to thrive on the basis of mutual co-operation, love and liberty. Obviously, if society and each of us individually compromise our codes of conduct, morality and values in order to manage the lowest denominators of human nature and conduct, then our systems and approaches to life are more limited in scope. A remedy is to uphold ideals truly set on universal values that apply in a fully harmonious and friendly universe.

Maintaining high ideals is the only way to gain insight into how they operate and apply in an evolving world. We can then better adopt insight in applying universal values to everyone at all times in our life. In this world of contrasts, where ignorance often still prevails, how do we apply our ideals and values to perceived evil in the world or as it arises even subtly within ourselves? How do we apply these values while in inner conflict or conflict with another, such as when we feel threatened? How do we apply these values when we feel common human emotions like anger, hurt, or sadness? What about other emotive states like self-absorbed pride, self-loathing, jealousy or guilt?

Love of God and all beings as brothers and sisters is the Christian golden rule as does seeking first the ‘kingdom of heaven’. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita also teaches that oneness with the divine comes first, before the cares of the world. This is because, when we are in a state of pure presence in the moment, where our sense of being and existence transcends thoughts, feelings and actions, we are immersed in the living essence of life and consciousness itself. It is not a mindless, void that eliminates any sense of divinity, humanity, purpose or meaning. Connecting to the living essence of what we are is a connection to something profound rather than just a disconnection from the material world or from our projections of self. Being in the world but not of the world is obviously not identifying with an empty and lifeless void that leaves us robotic or zombie-like.

True awakening into the living light of our own life essence and pure consciousness does equate to connecting to spirit. When we can be immersed deeply in that place then all our feelings, thoughts and actions are external to the consciousness that is our true essence. Feelings and thoughts are inner projections, while the perceptions of the physical senses and the external world they perceive are also experienced as objective occurrences in the medium of our boundary-less consciousness.

Thus, part of spiritual practice is learning to accept all positive and negative thoughts and feelings in ourselves and perceived around us equally. Personal attachments and aversions are all by nature perceived through the conditioned mind. Spiritual identification comes with identification with the substance of who or what we are and not with the projections of self, whether they be good or bad, positive or negative. Being in true presence creates the space for abiding compassion, goodness and growing receptive understanding that is more capable of universal love and discriminating life situations by how they resonate with divine presence rather than how well our reality is conforming to conditioned ideas of good or bad or how they serve our preconceived self-biased agenda’s.

All arising feelings and thoughts can be equally witnessed in the light of clear and true consciousness with presence. A loved one, a stranger or someone causing conflict around us or within ourselves can also be experienced in undisturbed equanimity depending on the power and depth of ones own state of presence This offers greater proactive choices of response, that is not reactive or based on fear or threat.

Being able to sit with positive highs and uncomfortable or painful lows of thoughts and feelings equally is part of renunciation. Handling life in the moment this way, from the inclusive love we find in deep ‘being-ness’ itself, happens when conscious presence of being becomes an end in itself. When it becomes the core of our existence and identity it allows us to do what is termed as loving God and others universally. Progressively doing it within ourselves without being selective enables us to apply spiritual presence to the good, the bad and the ugly within and in the world. Even more, it gives us the insight that the relativity of positives and negatives is a less enduring reality than the true essence of life and consciousness in which it occurs.

In this way, as anger or grief, excitement and happiness, melancholy or disengagement occur, we can open up to these experiences honestly and consciously without identifying with them. Allowing ourselves to experience the full spectrum openly requires having a solid centre that does is inclusive, not prone to attachment or aversion, yet unaffected by the partiality perceived in the moment. That place is the pure essence of our life and consciousness in the here and now. It can be termed at some point of realisation as spirit-consciousness.

I remember once, after spending time with some remarkable yogi’s, gaining the insight that even the masters feel the full spectrum of human emotion in an exquisite way where any level of pain can be contained in an even greater bliss. It is not what we think and feel that defines us, but what we do with it reflects the level of our spiritual identification at the time.

Identifying with the living consciousness from which all emerges is the high path to gaining spaciousness of consciousness. This awareness provides more choice, greater wisdom and perspective on the nature of our human thought and feeling projections. All becomes meaningful when we deal with it in the resonance of consciousness of consciousness. Negatives and disturbances dissolve faster based on the ability to be present with them consciously. The transformation that occurs is an increasing quality and frequency of thoughts and feelings that resonate with the transcendent inner sanctum that is available to us. Conscious processing becomes less necessary.

Rather than rejecting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, people and situations, we can embrace them as a practice rather than fighting them, or trying to find an answer or fix for them to go away. Gradually, a transformation and shift will occur where full presence is less shaken and we can respond to positive and negative elements in equanimity with the full spectrum of who we are intact , more alive and conscious.

Practicing letting go within ourselves to be present and consciously embrace all aspects of ourselves and life, builds trust in what we are without our own separate manufacture. With that progressive knowing and trust, through practice and attention, our thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions can be offerings in this presence. As it becomes greater than our own sense of a separate self , divine providence will help us to continue and lend us strength even when we are amidst a major challenge or “the valley of death”. A deepening and expanding sense of calm alertness, an open mind, body and heart and a unified sense of connectedness are the guide posts for our progress. The thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions that arise and harmonise with this bring abundance and happiness. Learning to conquer our own demons by practicing this in the face of our negatives and pains will bring unimaginable rewards and a sense of personal freedom.

Photo credit:jin.thai on VisualHunt.com/CC BY (modified w quote)

The Purity and Trust of an Open Heart and Mind

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17)

At Easter time, it is fitting to reflect on another message from Jesus who is not ennobling naivete, or simple-mindedness, by receiving the kingdom (spiritual awakening and experience) like a child. He points directly to purity of heart and openness of mind as keys to the kingdom. Faith and trust in a divine parent in essence is like a child’s faith and trust in the protection, care, and authority of his or her worldly parent and other adult role models. It encourages us to live in the context of a friendly universe, not defined by the disappointments and rigors of worldly life.

Children in a normal and healthy environment learn much through play, and wake up daily to a universe they trust as friendly and safe. They are often uninhibited in their enthusiastic joy and spontaneity toward life. To a mature adult, feeling and giving wholehearted faith and trust can be more difficult. Openness and good will with an indwelling sense of universal friendship are not only required for entering the kingdom but are also essential for the capacity to invite the experiential leading of God’s living presence.

Like a child in the material world, the material senses and intellect are naïve to the subjective experience of spiritual presence and have little capacity to grasp spiritual presence and truth without the recognition and subjectivity of a receptive heart and mind. Increased depth and fulfillment from within through spiritual experience, further confirmed in shared experience with others, encourages a loving and positive outlook and experience in life. Increasing freedom from material attachments and aversions, through identification with spiritual presence, offers a lightness or joy of being akin to childhood innocence and uninhibited energy. This is very healing to a soul burdened by worldly life.

It is also good while tackling the big and deep aspects of life that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, as that can lead to a self-absorbed life. Too much self-focus, driven by lack of self-acceptance, can form an egoistic identity around our spiritual path, which is counterproductive. Jesus did not teach introspection and self-evaluation other than self-honesty and love. His teachings are based more on the selflessness of one who has the treasures of the divine and is left with an urge to give wisely yet selflessly to others.

Most people recognize the need and hunger for meaningfully constructive and fulfilling lives and relationships. In modern developed countries, where survival is handled for most, our needs are more around quality of life and meaning in a society where both can be lost amid a commercial and consumer culture. The battles fought are as much about our mindset and emotional needs as any material need. Many religious paths encourage removal of worldly distractions from what true inner happiness and reality is founded upon. The adult world becomes filled with complexities of responsibilities and pursuits, status and attaining material comforts. Meanwhile, divine love and other aspects of the divine nature can only be truly embraced and experienced with an open heart and optimistic trust that can be likened to that of a child. Approaching spirituality like a child implies a pure, sincere intent and openness of heart and mind. There is a simplicity to this state of the heart implied here rather than an intellectual conceptualization of the kingdom.

Childlikeness does not mean that Jesus proposes looking to God and the kingdom of heaven as a way of avoiding life and responsibilities. Jesus’s life and teachings were and are about tackling life fully with the best and highest of principles and values intact. Thus, the kingdom provides the most certain, lasting, and authentic platform to face all of life courageously. This is because it helps us to connect to our true eternal nature in the ideal of trustworthiness and goodness with a sense of fulfilling a higher purpose.

Spiritual experience includes and yet transcends logic and reason, which is why it is founded on faith and associated with the receptiveness of a child. Yet, the subjective experience becomes a recognizable and reliable home-base that permeates all aspects of life when consciously acknowledged with conviction, openness, and willingness. If we have made that step, we easily recognize it in one another as well.

Genuinely letting go in mind and heart to just ‘be’ with an attitude of open trust and faith is like a silent prayer. It creates conscious space for Spirit to be felt and is the entrance to the ‘kingdom’ within. It is the art of allowing the spaciousness and receptivity inside ourselves to be filled while remaining empty of our own self-made content. Breaking down the mind’s resistance to letting go is best done softly, with a child’s trust and optimism. Aligning with Spirit is a two-way process, like a dance of spirit and self-will, and it can get extremely deep and subtle once the dance begins to flow and develop. Like a dance, it can become a sublime, moving, like an ever-changing yet familiar ebb and flow of harmony.

So much of our living can be captivated in ups and downs that are really part of conditioned and programmed patterns or habits of thought and perception. Material mindedness is a limited and relatively unstable consciousness mostly of conditioned thoughts and feelings exclusively relevant to partiality and linear time. Conditioned thoughts and feelings are repetitive and actually quite predictable when appraised honestly and objectively.

Therefore, the indwelling Spirit’s influence, with our will and cooperation, is to assist our intuitive mind in tuning our consciousness to the higher vibrations, where divine presence and leadings can be discerned. This is where creative and spontaneous insight occurs, even flashes of genius, along with our sense of connection and fulfillment. Less energy and mental activity is then spent on unproductive repetitive thoughts. Divine presence experienced with our whole selves allow it to make the adjustments we are ready for, over whatever time is required, to spiritually mature.

Daily living with spiritual conviction leads to consistency of conscious connection to a state of God’s presence. Passing emotions and thoughts have less and less ability to disrupt the background of super-consciousness (consciousness of consciousness), of peace and goodness, light and beauty, truth and joy.

The purity and strength in this peace and stability persist and renew moment to moment, as it is a living presence in the ‘now’. True divine presence never gets boring or stale, it has a refreshing renewal effect that contains joy with a deep inner smile, akin to the purity and openness of a child. Because it is tapping into an infinite transcendental source, we receive an endless stream of the “living waters” (John 4:14).

We can sometimes see and feel an amazing old wisdom and presence reflected in a child’s eyes. Finding that presence within brings us to a place where we don’t need to arm ourselves with a manufactured ego and self-image but rather find authenticity in facing life openly as we are, putting trust in the moment and life, in the Spirit that moves and fills us. We know we are loved and supported, and as long as we are true and connected, know that all will be okay.

An open and receptive adult mind and heart has greater affinity and rapport with children as well as people in general. When centered in the divine, we are less self-preoccupied in internal dialog and increasingly released from cycles of emotional tiredness and reaction. Therefore, we feel much more in the present moment. The thought process is more spontaneous and adapted to the needs of the moment rather than conditioned by the endless narrative of our own passing opinions, programmed associations stimulated in the brain, and past-programmed repetitive reactions to ongoing reality.

When we accept and embrace this life and world as unconditionally bestowed gifts, along with all their potential ideals and possibilities, then it follows that we embrace every moment. Valuing and appreciating these gifts will enrich our experience of them. A human child is conceived by the will and actions of its human parents co-creating with the divine source of the spark of life and consciousness. Likewise, when we are born of the Spirit of life and pure consciousness, we are progressively glimpsing ourselves as conceived by the Spirit and sharing its nature. Like the human child, it is for us as spiritual beings to be of the love of our divine parent and let our sense of the divine reveal our own divine nature. In personalizing and identifying with our divine source and parent, we become a reflection of our own experience of the beloved divine Father/Mother who is our living source and destiny.

At Easter time, it is the resurrection I feel holds the most powerful message for us and is the purpose of the suffering on the cross. As a child receives and reflects the love of the parent in full trust, so can we open our minds and hearts to receive and reflect the love of our divine source and nature. This is the resurrection within that frees us from suffering and gives it purpose.

Photo credit: Magdalena Roeseler on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified w quote)

The Inevitabilities of the Evolving Self and World

Disappointments and challenges are a part of life and dealing with them positively becomes a key part of success and maturity as we get older. Many of them we create for ourselves through our decisions, our actions and their consequences. By ‘we’, I mean each of us personally as well as ‘we’ as a community or society. The relativity of life and the suffering we experience ourselves, that fills the pages of humanity’s history or we see happening in so many places around the world in current times, can make us question the justice and nature of the reality we live in.

It is only with a big picture view, while paying attention to the most profound sense of life that insight has provided us, can we appreciate that for evolving creatures of free will, free intelligence, to exist in this vast miraculous universe, there is a sense of existential purpose behind the existence of evolving life and consciousness. It is in these modern times of exponential growth in our understanding of life and reality, that we can also appreciate with that knowledge and understanding comes a greater sense of the nature of things, including ourselves and the inherent purpose to reality. Love, friendship and the beauty of nature – these things alone do so much to make life worth living.

These current times are showing us more and more clearly that we have a responsibility with real consequences as caretakers on a planet that is becoming smaller and more impacted by the things we as a civilisation. Do we learn to co-operate and do things sustainably for future generations and gain the immense gifts a global awakening promises? Or do we fall short of responding to the signs of pending crisis and the calling of evolving ideals and potential while exploitation and degeneration of each other and our world brings us to global conditions unable to sustain us further?

I have faith in the triumph of our deeper natures over the temporary and more limited conditioned mind on a personal and global scale. Crisis has always been the activator for leaps and bounds in evolution in biology, culture and intellect – and these times are no exception. In terms of our history and current challenges, themes of the battle between true righteousness versus ignorance and intentional evil is layered throughout our evolution into our psyche and continually reflected in our evolving philosophies, arts, and now all forms of modern media. It is a battle fought on subtle and gross levels, on brutal and sophisticated levels, on personal and collective levels.

However, spiritual awakening and principles remind us that none of the drama and adventure changes the divine essence from which reality arises and from which life and consciousness itself arises. In our core being is a living force we all share that is life, therefore life-affirming as are the values of goodness, beauty and truth. The process of our evolution and lives at stake is a powerful one of adventure for the spiritual warrior. As survival becomes more sorted in modern times of technology, the quality of life and consciousness will become the major factor in how well we move forward and shape our future.

A book with much controversy is the Urantia Book. Whatever readers views are of the details, what I love most about it is the sophisticated way it discusses spirit and deity and the picture it offers about how immense and grand the universes and the plan of life could be. In discussing the primacy of a unifying and central cause of all reality in this vast universe, for us on our fragile planet of many uncertainties, certain factors described as “inevitabilities of evolutionary creature life” are mentioned (Paper 3, section 5). These are listed as points of consideration in reconciling the challenges and seeming disasters of life with the concept of a universally sovereign divine and just intelligence and plan:

1. Is courage — strength of character — desirable? Then must man be reared in an environment which necessitates grappling with hardships and reacting to disappointments.

2. Is altruism — service of one’s fellows — desirable? Then must life experience provide for encountering situations of social inequality.

3. Is hope — the grandeur of trust — desirable? Then human existence must constantly be confronted with insecurities and recurrent uncertainties.

4. Is faith — the supreme assertion of human thought — desirable? Then must the mind of man find itself in that troublesome predicament where it ever knows less than it can believe.

5. Is the love of truth and the willingness to go wherever it leads, desirable? Then must man grow up in a world where error is present and falsehood always possible.

6. Is idealism — the approaching concept of the divine — desirable? Then must man struggle in an environment of relative goodness and beauty, surroundings stimulative of the irrepressible reach for better things.

7. Is loyalty — devotion to highest duty — desirable? Then must man carry on amid the possibilities of betrayal and desertion. The valour of devotion to duty consists in the implied danger of default.

8. Is unselfishness — the spirit of self-forgetfulness — desirable? Then must mortal man live face to face with the incessant clamouring of an inescapable self for recognition and honor. Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast.

  1. Is pleasure — the satisfaction of happiness — desirable? Then must man live in a world where the alternative of pain and the likelihood of suffering are ever-present experiential possibilities.

Throughout the universe, every unit is regarded as a part of the whole. Survival of the part is dependent on co-operation with the plan and purpose of the whole, the wholehearted desire and perfect willingness to do the Father’s divine will. The only evolutionary world without error (the possibility of unwise judgment) would be a world without free intelligence. In the Havona universe there are a billion perfect worlds with their perfect inhabitants, but evolving man must be fallible if he is to be free. Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.”

The spiritual nature in us provides a sense of altruism and universal love, not the primitive creature mind from our primitive past. From deep in our higher consciousness comes the compassion, empathy and mercy for one another’s suffering. At the same time, becoming conscious and fully present in our existential and living loving awareness, awakens us to the temporary nature of material existence and any suffering associated with it. In contrast, yet all embracing of this relative existence created for a great universal purpose, is the timeless nature of the essence of us that remains untainted and indestructible throughout life’s trials. Life experience offers to shape and develop those who would engage the best they can call on in themselves in goodwill. Through faith and our psychology we must draw on the power within to remain connected and intact to participate in this journey of life. Part of the point of the journey is to reside fully in awakened loving consciousness and thrive as we learn to embody, express and flow the unity and uniqueness of our essence into the life we live.

In compassion for ourselves and each other, it is good to remember that there are no mistakes in the greater scheme of things. All of time and the resources of the universe gather to allow us this planetary life for our greatest purpose and destiny to unfold as it is. It is up to each of us with what we are and have, and where we find ourselves, as to what it is to mean and how it is to count. Gradually, we must come to know and trust in a living and friendly universe, consciously identifying more fully in the the spiritual nature within in order to transition to the next stage of our evolution. Our technology and pursuits must better flow sustainable universal laws and we better understand the consequences of our collective and personal actions. It is then our intellects and physicality can truly blossom as reflections of our true and emerging inner nature. From this turning point, more and more people will consciously recognise the subtle light and love that beckons from within consciousness itself. The true agent of change is emerging from within us. Quality of consciousness, serving our personal and collective greater purpose and greater good more fully, are becoming primary factors that connect us to what is real and authentic.

Photo: gusdiaz on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA (modified with quote)

Shine Your Inner Light of Life in the World

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a lamp stand, so those who enter can see the light.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your vision is clear, your whole body also is full of light. But when it is poor, your body is full of darkness. Be careful, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it in darkness, you will be radiant, as though a lamp were shining on you.”

(Luke 11:33–36)

It is with a relaxed heart and mind, open to love, peace and connectedness that we can best share the light within. Practicing presence and meditation trains us to get beyond thoughts and feelings to the pure awareness from which they arise. When attention and identification can be maintained on this pure awareness while communicating with others, we can consciously appreciate the pure living consciousness which is the essence and living light we share in common with one another.

This light shines most brightly in our eye connection with others as well as our voice and gestures when we are fully present in mind and body with what is going on in the moment within ourselves and around us. Expressing or discussing something that is felt passionately is when many people really light up, as well as being with loved ones like a beloved partner or child.

Therefore, to shine our light more brightly, to consciously share or inspire the light in others, is to practice mindful presence which requires being open and aware on every level of our being that we can while connecting with others. Having an agenda is based on wanted outcomes and expectations based on past and future, while being fully present with another and sharing our light means being fully present with yourself and the other and allowing that to be a primary purpose in and of itself. Jesus uses the analogy of light in two other brief lessons, “the Lamp of the Body” and “the lamp on a stand,” which may be different versions of the same lesson or different lessons using this same analogy. People throughout the ages can relate to this analogy of light and the concept of the inner light of our being. In any good philosophy or spiritual teaching, there is no question that every person is here for a reason. Each person is unique and has a special quality to contribute. Inner light and inner Spirit are closely correlated, and each of us has the gift to let it shine brightly in our own lives and for others.

Jesus’s teachings of inner peace and salvation are a dynamic and practical teaching to be a positive influence to others and the world. The light he speaks of is the pure authentic light of awareness.

An indicator of spiritual progress is the degree of unconditional love, mercy, and compassion we progressively feel and express toward others in the world. Spiritual connection is like the difference between a stand-alone computer or device versus a network-connected computer or device. Thoughts and feelings constantly change, their significance to us being private to the separate ego self. Consciousness of the consciousness from which they arise is where we find a true common ground and connection from which rapport, connection and deep understanding of one another can arise.

A cause and effect of universal love for each other — friend or stranger, or enemy — is openness to insightful understanding of another’s circumstance and how they came to be who and where they are in that moment. Real understanding of unfamiliar or challenging people often requires overcoming self-interested perspectives that are often triggers for switching off our ‘light’ and disconnecting from others. Our rational mind often thinks it has a good reason to judge or take a mental position against another. But this can lead to division within and without, by identifying with fixed pre-conceived ideas of mind which condition our experience instead of the wholeness of identification with full presence.

Understanding someone’s circumstances, character, and actions from their perspective is the most effective way for getting past any preconceived judgments or biases. If there is a frustrated agenda involved, gaining such an understanding between all parties provides an authentic space to find reconciliation. Being, doing and sharing in pure awareness is the path towards a sense of oneness and universal Spirit. It is in this space we can draw on compassion in circumstances where we would have once reacted defensively or judgmentally. It is a progressive ability because we develop a deeper capacity each time we break through our own barriers and reactions.

The “whole body full of light” means expanding aware presence in the moment to every part of ourselves and our present circumstance. When we do this, through pure conscious intent we invite the divine in to take part without limit or conditions, then we can find our sense of being and doing with a “whole body full of light.” It can often be a literal description of the experience.

All aspects of our nature embraced in this light leads to transformation. Perceiving some aspects of soul and human character experience as spiritual and non-spiritual creates inner division and social stigma. The sexual nature and body identification are an example of this division of identity and source of neurosis in those seeking pure mindedness who then suppress or reject these aspects of themselves. Wholeness requires embracing the whole self in humility, love and acceptance. We need to let the divineness of pure consciousness and presence into all aspects of ourselves and allow it to reside there in each present moment. This is where transformation takes place, where we become more functional and integrated, expressing presence and higher will aligned in good ideals and values through all aspects of ourselves and life.

Suppressing or disconnecting from aspects of ourselves will result in suffering and folly. Examples of this are the modern scandals of sexual abuse within various church organizations where celibacy has obviously been practiced out of suppression, guilt, and disconnection, resulting in aberrational and perverted behaviors. Embracing our pain, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty with the “light” of consciousness and learning to be present in equanimity with our pains and pleasures is a key to embracing our full nature and allowing the transformation of Spirit through self-love and self-acceptance do its work. There is a fine line between trying to artificially conform to ideological perspectives and practices versus applying true personal realizations of them as a spiritual practice.

Practices based on fear, guilt, self-judgment, and denial are fraught with the dangers of extremism and neurosis. Jesus’s path was not extreme and was based on inclusiveness and soulful love. While he set a high standard of spiritual mindfulness he demonstrated mercy and forgiveness. While he firmly denounced falseness and sin his love broke many taboos of his day – racism, sexism, social status and was what considered ‘clean’ – it was a love for all humanity. God’s love and ‘kingdom’ was a shared experience within as we are now, creating space for realisation and transformation. Life’s private challenges and victories are about developing a whole and balanced character. When our vision is clear, “looking” or perceiving with the light of our whole being, the body is physically and energetically illuminated with spiritual energy.

Spiritually illumined people touch others with their love and compassion. They inspire people to be better human beings, invoking peace and good faith by their presence. Thus, their words and deeds have great impact. People will feel empowered rather than intimidated or belittled. The nature of our living consciousness enables us to recognize its truth, light, and presence, sometimes in the illumined eye gaze and presence of a child or person fully present. Conscious alignment to our own inner experience, realisation, values and ideals leads to an added dimension of self and self-potential.

Great possibilities exist if we can arise from within and brighten spontaneously in our roles and communications with each other. Benefiting each other is a mindset, manifested in the smallest of moments and ways, in following our passions and sense of purpose as well as through significantly life-changing and charitable ways. Happy and productive is the person driven by love of doing right, with no fear or guilt of doing wrong. We all crave a sense of progress, purpose, and wholeness despite our frailties and faults. Our inner light is not for self-aggrandisement but to inspire and bring forth depth and profoundness in our worldly lives.

Energising in the Beautiful Australian Outback

I have spent much of this week in the outback desert of Australia hiking around Uluru and Kata Tjuta. These iconic monoliths in a vast open flat desert area make a powerful and spectacle and presence. The open space, simplicity and silence of the desert help create similar conditions in the mind when practicing remaining in a state of presence while walking through the striking wilderness. There are great hikes as well as sunrise and sunset viewings where mother nature puts on a beautiful display as slowly changing hues of light bring out different hues in desert and rock.

This part of the world really has a very settled and grounded energy to it. Compared to the strong heart energy of the pacific islands and Hawaii or the heady spiritual energy of the Indian Himalayas, Uluru and central Australia for me and others I know who are into the energy systems of the world, is a root chakra energy. There is an instinctual survival energy of life connecting earth and body that is highlighted here as well as the essential element of community in such a setting. You have to be attuned out here, like in any harsh conditions, to survive let alone thrive.

Managing water, heat and knowing your own limits when getting around is important in the desert. After a few hours of day hiking in my boots, it is great to come back to the resort and remove the rubber soles then spend 20 minutes or so walking barefoot in the grass. The transfer of electron charge between the earth and my body .

With its dryness and heat, this lands flora and fauna are sparse and economically designed with their own unique beauty. It is a sensitive land with an ecosystem easily unbalanced with unmanaged tourist activity. Indigenous communities have a history of managing the delicate balance of plants and animals for tens of thousands of years. The land management was threatened by white land owners and tourism for a time, but now thankfully seems handled by co-operative and clear roles developing among the indigenous and white local communities. Visitors get some education here about the inseparableness of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of the land and precious resources.

Spending 4-5 days here has been enough for me to feel remote from normal life concerns and the pace of busy and full lives. When tuning into the inner body feeling, the lower body particularly has an expanded and open energy. Continuously relaxing the mind from chatter and just being fully present in an environment that reflects peaceful and rejuvenating spaciousness and a slow but vital throb of aliveness, is one way I am getting the most of the time and connecting with the spirit of the place. I feel touched by it and able to continue the connection after I have left.

It is my second time here. Last time was facilitating a group of 30 in week of business and awareness which was inspiring and empowered by this location. Being back here now without much else to distract me has been tremendous. Going to see sunrises and sunsets at some choice locations, and hiking during the mornings before the afternoon heat is a very therapeutic routine along with the energy and experience.

It also reinforces to me the tremendous value generally, of balancing out mind and body energy by connecting with nature in some way each day while practicing open and relaxed awareness and presence with each moment. It is best combined with ‘grounding’ by removing the concrete or rubber barriers of shoes and man made surfaces, and being barefoot on sand, earth or sea. There is much to be found online now about the measurable science and benefits of grounding.

IMG_2075

Combining these elements of being in nature, practicing inner body awareness and presence, and grounding will rebalance or reboot your system and can really shift mental, emotional and physical stress patterns. It reduces inflammation and chronic aches in the body and can shift negative psycho-emotionally conditioned states like anxiety and depression when done regularly. The trick is to be able to gradually put your thoughts and feelings aside and give yourself even a short and regular time to really be and connect with what is there without all the additives from conditioned thinking and preconceived perceptions.

Being mindful to opening the heart and feel grateful for the opportunities of life experiences, thankful for loved ones and the universe that makes it all possible is a nice meditation to enrich this self nurturing time. I acknowledge the Anungu culture and people of this land. Following up on International Womens Day I also acknowledge the mothers and wise elders of all peoples and the generous live giving spirit of Mother Nature herself. May we all learn to harmonise with the feminine creative spirit in life, living in life affirming respect and co-operation with each other and the precious planet that sustains us.

The Most Valuable Means to Abundance and Fulfilment

There is a common deeply imbedded key and truth in the counsel and teachings through the ages for manifesting abundance and prosperity, happiness and fulfilment, living a life purpose, the primary relationship you dreamed of, great quality friendships, or awakening to a new level of spiritual experience. It’s a message being redefined and much needed in these times.

In uncovering this critical key for fulfilling success, a few underlying principles are a necessary context for understanding it and the laws that operate around it.

The first is obvious yet an easy trap to fall into as we accumulate wealth. Many of the ‘things’ we want and dream of in life can be truly experienced, but not if we are looking to them as the source of our happiness and fulfilment. Many people who have things we dream for are still unhappy. This is the paradox, because many of us would still like more of certain things in our life, right?

However, there is a difference in the content of our life being an expression or vehicle for shared joy, love and abundance in life versus things in life being a source of validation, identity, status or security and happiness. When they are a goal in of themselves or invested with our identity, then we are not living in consciousness of what we are and the true nature of life from within. We are utilising external things to fill where there is a vacuum of meaning and identity. Yet, we give the meaning all passing or changing things have for us from within ourselves. So they cannot fill this space inside us, only be a place we externalise it as separate. The ideal is to consciously live with a sense of completeness with or without the things we have that support our true selves and provide ease or enjoyment, a life certainly tests this at times.

Of course, the tribulations of life will show us where we need to go more deeply within and place our personal investment there. Letting go of materiality is not rejecting the external world, but embracing it with a total identity and connection in the essence of the life and consciousness it actually arises from. Our conscious efforts to shape ourselves and our lives will either come from fear and need for security and a sense of belonging, or it will come from the creative urge of adventure and discovery with a sense of certainty, connection and completeness.

Living from the inside out, means we serve the true essence of ourselves, each other and life, knowing this essence cannot be lost, limited or scarce. We open ourselves up to greater abundance from the fullness of life itself rather than from relativity of circumstances and possessions. How much of our life is really spent in awareness and gratitude of the gift of life? It is the key to coming from love and not fear.

Many modern teachings and some ancient teachings like Buddhism deal with habits of thinking, beliefs and conditioning of the mind. Clearing old habits and out-dated states of mind that arose as adaptations to past fears or suffering, helps create the space for inspired and present-time creative and energised living, to come back to the fullness of who and what we are.

Clearing our negativity and old emotional baggage while developing positive thinking in alignment with life affirming consciousness, is a transformative step that changes and prepares our perceptions and awareness for this next level of conscious living. Yet, happiness, success and fulfilment doesn’t come from positive thoughts and feelings either. These do help focus us to a certain level of experience that they resonate with and from, and do this on a biological and psychological level. Thinking can only be (at best) a relative reflection of who is doing the thinking and what we can most truly and abundantly manifest in life.

The deeper heart of all teachings is that the external world and the inner world (our inner projections of ourselves with thoughts, feelings and perceptions) are both reflections or symptoms of where we are coming from and the state of being we are living at.

In all the various teachings that I have come across, what really shifts my life into another gear (as an ongoing journey of expansion) is a state of being in the experience that is left in the wake of full surrender and letting go within and without, to trust in my own sense of the consciousness and energy that I am. Then going forth and exploring how to best embody and express that in the world to me is, living with spirit.

One of the greatest ways to engage in the world is to productively do and share what you love and what makes you feel most alive. What is most authentic and core within us can then flow into our worldly lives. When we see other people doing the same, really thriving in expressing their inner self through what they do, we feel inspired and on a higher frequency. It is not just about what you do or how well, because in the end, it can be experienced in countless pursuits, careers at many levels and scales. So alignment with what we do is a factor and part of the exploration. It reflects the level to which we connect and engage our inner self in our doing.

Doing what you love and loving what you do

creates a harmony and resonance between

the greater field of love and abundance and worldly life.

Meditation, positive thinking and all the actions in the world don’t provide true awakening in and of themselves. These practices can only prepare the space for making that decisive and true shift in ourselves. They can help create the space to feel, experience and recognise true infinite and abundant being of authentic love and life in ourselves. Freeing identity and experience of the detail and content we can lose ourselves in is part of creating this space. When we find, trust and invest our identity in the space in which it is all happening, then we can find we are truly fulfilled and free just with that, then better embrace and handle all that is happening.

It is a form of inner renunciation, free of dependance on other people and things, to really align ourselves with the source and force in which it all happens. It helps to distinguish between outer appearances in the world and our own narratives about them versus the true essence of people and the common substance we share. This creates space for greater compassion and understanding, love and alignment with each other, and loving more unconditionally.

A lost, broken or worn out cherished possession has no inherent value in itself. The value we think something gives us comes from within ourselves. Our own story and experience of material life can’t be broken, lost or worn out. Practicing this when we are frustration or sadness arises from big or little material losses, allows us to truly let go of things, enjoying them without attachment while the are there and moving on.

With this understanding, comes the critical point. The laws of attraction and abundance are all based on firstly connecting with who and what we really are, which is a complete and shared experience of ‘presence’. It is in and from this presence that all our experience of life arises and occurs. The second aspect of this key is to experience our life as a unique conscious channel for the love and energy inherent in our unified presence, life force and pure consciousness. To let ‘true being’ flow into all our actions, relationships and self-expression. What ever the approach to life, this is where it becomes transformative.

When we align in conscious presence as a channel of its infinite source,

we can experience greater and deeper levels of unity

and its shared flow in the world.

Focus on a living and present essence of life also transforms egoistic tendencies. Opening up to presence becomes a more real, all-embracing and enlivening place to invest ourselves than holding fixed and changeable concepts of how life is and how we ‘should’ be. We can experience all people and things also as expressions and channels of one unified consciousness and life energy. This unified field can then flow from within us and flow to us from the reality we embrace around us. The flow works both ways. Intent and conscious participation in both directions of flow, like an exhale and inhale, allows universal consciousness and energy to fulfil the promise of fullness and abundance in our lives and with each other. Learning how to experience financial wealth as an aspect of this energy flow is easier when we understand the universal laws along with the practical knowledge of our undertakings, and operate as a channel unified with others with the attachments and power struggles of separateness and external identification.

A major transition time in my life now, where life in every way is changing and being renewed, is teaching me these truths on whole new level. Life challenges in recent years seem to have come from different areas of my life. Yet taken all together it is increasingly clear the crisis points have come from where I have needed the world to validate me and where I have put the source of meaning, value and fulfilment in other people and things. When upheaval and change leads to healing, realisation and transitioning back towards the source within, transformational adjustments and new life opportunities occur. I feel this is really what is going beneath all our crisis and breakthroughs. Out of every crisis as well as every success, we each get an opportunity to move forward more consciously.

I encourage you to open up to the life energy in and around you with an open heart and mind. Daily invite the full experience of what is already present, initially without having to do, achieve and try anything. Breath and move so that any tight, constricted or vacuous areas you sense within or immediately around you, release and you become an integrated and harmoniously unified field of energy. Dream and imagine more about how to be and what to do to more fully live and express fullness of being in joy, peace and love. What is it you do when you feel this the most and how? Is it also a strong and grounded sense where the full spectrum of highs and lows, successes and challenges, can be handled with equanimity and fullness? Aligning with and being a channel of abundant energy and life as you feel it, will gradually, or sometimes quickly, transform your world around you to reflect greater abundance and fullness.