As I write this in front of my woodburner, with snow filling the sky outside and lying many inches thick on the ground already, my thoughts briefly turn to sunny southern India, and how I could just as easily have been supping a post-yoga fresh coconut on the beach in my flip flops and sarong right now. Yet, I don’t feel any pang of regret, I actually feel a deep joy bubbling up and a gratitude that I am here in this moment, in the depths of a proper Scottish winter, with the deep magic of the solstice just around the corner.
Isn’t it funny how things often turn out very differently from how we had naively planned they would go? It’s been a strange old time for me of late, of feeling pushed and pulled around by the playful nature of the universal flow. A few months ago I had felt an inexplicable and non-negotiable impulse to sign up to an ‘astrology-dance’ retreat in India this November, and my mind/ego was incredibly confused by this impetuous decision! Then, once I arrived here at Anam Cara retreat centre as a volunteer, there was a very strange sense of coming home, and I instantly felt a peace descend and just knew I was in the right place. So much so that I ended up cancelling the astro-dance retreat so that I could stay longer here, with a surety in my heart that this was the right thing to do.
I remember thinking when I cancelled that I wished I could gift my place to a good friend of mine, who I knew would love to attend. Then, the next day, that very friend got in touch out of the blue to say she had been looking into dance retreats in India (where she was travelling at the time) and the only one that matched her dates was the very same astro-dance retreat, and she had contacted them to find out if there was space and heard there was one space left because they had just had a cancellation. I couldn’t believe the universe’s cheeky sense of humour and immediately replied to say that the cancellation was me!! So, it almost feels like I was playing my role beautifully by booking the place and ‘holding’ it for my friend until a time that she was ready to take it for herself – you can’t make this stuff up!
Anyway, who knows how the mysteries of the universe work, certainly not I. But I am increasingly thinking that the more we can laugh at the craziness of it all, the easier it flows. And the more we can let go of the reins and allow a higher intelligence than ours to flow through us, the more ‘sense’ there is to the ‘non-sense’!
There is no doubt that we are living in absolutely crazy times, with so many institutions and systems crumbling and imploding spectacularly and so much corruption finally arising to the surface to be seen in the clear light of day. It doesn’t take much scrutiny to feel a helpless sense of bewilderment at the madness of it all. How on earth did we get ourselves into this mess?! It feels as though we are globally beginning to wake up to quite how much we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes and quite how much modern life is not working out in the idyllic ways in which the marketeers would have us believe. And there is definitely a growing, uncomfortable realisation that we cannot continue to exist in this way for much longer, and simultaneously hope to survive as a species on our precious planet long-term. If we don’t get our act together soon, we could become like the dinosaurs, just another fascinating geological stratum of bones buried deep in the earth for future self-reflective species to examine, if the earth survives our madness, that is.
And yet… we can choose to react in fear and feel we are powerless to change anything. Or, we can issue an incredulous laugh at the crazy world we live in, and trust that this is all part of a much bigger plan, that there is a much greater intelligence behind the apparent nonsense, which is too vast for us to comprehend at our current evolutionary level of consciousness. A sign of this greater intelligence is perhaps the pockets of ‘light’ that are springing up across the planet as a direct counter to the increasingly obvious ‘darkness’ of corrupt and no longer viable old ways of existing. Examples of this are how yoga and other holistic healing modalities are becoming increasingly mainstream, how there is a growing trend amongst younger folk to look after their bodies and trade nights out at the pub for nights training at the gym, how vegetarianism and veganism are exploding in popularity and how most major superstores now have a hugely expanding ‘healthy alternatives’ section. I see so much positive change around me, despite the thousand and one problems we’re faced with as old systems cease to work for us, and I believe in the inherent goodness, creativity, resourcefulness and resilience of humanity to continue this positive trajectory, even in the face of such seemingly unfavourable odds.
To me it feels like we are living amidst the chaos that precedes the phoenix rising mightily from the ashes. Positive change does not occur as a result of complacency, it tends to arise when dissatisfaction of the status quo reaches a critical threshold that can no longer be ignored. It feels to me like we’re hitting that threshold round about now and, contrary to the surface view, this feels to me a fantastic and exciting time to be alive. Things will change for the better as a result of this maelstrom of madness we’re in, there’s no doubt about that in my mind. The pendulum will always swing, and the universe will always seek to move towards equilibrium.
One thing I feel very strongly is that the thing that’s going to get us out of this mess and onto the next phase of our evolution as a species is love. It’s certainly not fear, and it’s not anger either (although, once the wool is removed from our eyes, the inevitable anger that arises from clear vision of injustice can be harnessed to move towards positive change and love). We can point fingers and rant and rail about others’ poor behaviour until the cows come home but, ultimately, if we want to evolve towards a better way of living together, we have to move beyond such separatist judgements and reactive behaviour and instead begin to cultivate feelings of love and compassion towards all, knowing everyone is playing their role in this mysterious universal dance, even the ‘villains’ (for example it is ironically the increasingly desperate actions of the ‘villains’ that are waking us up and shunting us towards an evolutionary paradigm leap). And to do this, I believe it is vital that we focus our attentions on healing ourselves so that we can love ourselves as we are meant to do, thereby expanding our consciousness and re-empowering ourselves.
I believe unconditional love and connection is the natural state of the universe, which includes every one of us as integral parts of the universe. Yet we cannot experience unconditional love for ourselves when it co-exists with fear, and most of us live in fear most of the time, whether we are aware of this or not. Fear causes us to forget that we are all intimately connected and infinitely powerful, and instead feel separation and impotence. We may have flashes of feeling in love with everyone and everything in the universe, but rarely does it become a constant state, due to the rapid resurgence of fear as ‘reality’ sets in once more. But who is dictating our reality?
It’s time that we delved inside to examine these fears that run our lives, and shed them, one by one. It’s possible; it’s the journey I’ve been on for the last few years and, although I know there are still some deep fears in there to root out, it’s becoming easier and easier to let them go – it’s just a matter of where you place your attention. It’s the process of awakening, well-documented in all spiritual traditions, although often shrouded in esoteric and nigh impenetrable language, when in fact it’s simply a return to our natural state, which is pure love. And I really believe that the more people that take this decision to do the inner work and (re) awaken to the truth of who they are, the more a snowball effect will occur and it will become progressively easier to move through this process as we begin to collectively support each other in our endeavours. In fact it seems this snowball effect has started already, another symptom of the ‘light’ of truth fighting back.
So, I truly think that a really good thing that we can all do in this madness is to retreat inwards and learn to love ourselves unconditionally, and to move past the myriad negative judgements we hurl at our good selves each day, yet to simultaneously extend our support outwards to our friends, family and community, to encourage and help others do the same.
To me it is the inner revolution that is going to save us – it has to start with ourselves. Only when we love ourselves truly can we reflect this onto the outer world. We all have the power to change the world, in this I do believe – we change it with every thought we have, choice we make, word we speak. And moving towards self-love through inner work and holistic healing comes hand in hand with expansion of consciousness. This is what is next for humanity’s evolution, if we can get through this craziness. It is, as it always has been, in our hands. How can we not take individual and collective responsibility for arriving at the situation we find ourselves in? Taking responsibility is the first step towards re-empowerment. And the positive flip-side of this is that we get to choose how the future will look for us too.
I have such a great respect for our species – in the face of such trauma and nonsense, our resilience is formidable. We still get through each day as best we can: sharing smiles, connecting with and helping others when we can, laughing often, inventing and creating solutions, committing mind-blowing acts of compassion and self-sacrifice when it really counts. It seems that our inner spark is indomitable – we are a force of light to be reckoned with, and it’s time we remembered that.
So, to rein myself back into a ‘yoga’ context (which, as a reminder, means ‘union’ ;)), next time you take to your yoga mat or sit down to meditate or indeed do anything that is for the purpose of nurturing yourself, know that you are doing this for yourself, for your soul expansion, for your inner healing. Yet, in giving yourself precious time for self-nurturing, you are in fact also doing it for every other being in the universe too, and you are actively playing your role in saving the world from madness and creating a positive future of love, harmony and collaboration. The question to ask yourself with all choices you make is: ‘Is this making me kinder and more loving towards myself and therefore also to others?’ If the answer is yes then do it as much as you can! And if the answer is no then perhaps re-think – we always have a choice, and we always will.
And, finally, when in doubt, my advice is to laugh at the madness! Or have a cup of tea. For me, both actions seem to work wonders at dispelling fear, which inevitably moves you closer to the love that you truly are… 😉