Gratitude Saves the Day When Death Lurks at Crossroad

We live each day as if our life is about to start tomorrow. Today it’s only the rehearsal. Today, we experiment with negative emotions, toxic thoughts and harmful behaviours.

Tomorrow, the real life will start. In the real life, we feel happiness and meaningfulness, we will observe our thoughts without identifying ourselves with them and we will have a healthy life.

Tomorrow never comes. All we have is today, when we feel trapped in something like a mouse wheel, where we have no energy or willingness to get away from. Until something tragic happens. Something that shakes up our emotions and thoughts and forces us to contemplate the face of death from few inches distance.

We feel small and helpless in face of destiny, like a newborn baby in the arms of the midwife. A tiny bit of regret creeps into our hearts.

Why didn’t I live intensely up until today?

Why did I keep procrastinating the day when I laugh and love wholeheartedly, when I accept myself as I am, and when I would do what represents me the most?

Why?

The tragedy comes unexpectedly today and there may not be tomorrow. Is it Life or Death who is going to win by the end of the day?

In such a day, we have the opportunity to reinvent how to live. When contemplating upon death, I chose to breathe from the very core of myself. I chose to search for the strength to love and hope.

One ordinary afternoon, my phone rang and the friendly voice at the other end announced, in a hesitating tone, that my father and a close friend had a car accident. “They are in the ambulance. The doors to the ambulance closed before I had the have a chance to see your dad, I don’t know how he is. I did see your friend. She looked quite pale.”

In that moment, I instinctively returned to the core of myself, which is FAITH. As the pain in the heart was growing stronger, faith became a necessity, like the air that I was breathing.

Faith, the belief that we come from the same source and we have a deep, yet unexplored, connection with this source, was like an anchor in the sea of uncertainty.

After faith, human connection turned out to be the second pillar of stability. Talking with people who cared and praying together were immediate responses to the bad news.

In the following days, while struggling to accept that the car accident happened and choking in emotional pain, I had a moment of illumination when I felt gratitude about the goodness in my life. I started counting three things I felt blessed for the day. The blessings were small things, like being embraced by my child or feeling the sun rays on my cheeks. Small experiences of life, with a tremendous healing effect on my suffering.

My father survived the car accident. Our friend didn’t.

They say that time heals. Tomorrow I will accept that the tragic accident happened. Today, I thank for having my father alive. Also, I cherish the memory of our friend and feel grateful for having met her, a force of life and embodiment of joy.

Today is time to love, laugh and be kind with whoever crosses my path.   

 

Facing Life Changes With Wisdom

Life comes with changes, big or small, wanted or unwanted. Since the human nature seeks for certainty and security, one way to cope the best that you can with the unwanted changes is to focus on your inner wisdom. Fumble through the different layers of your identity, recreate your life, reframe the reality, adjust your expectations and experiment with living carefree.

 

The human brain likes certainty. And when changes come our way, we are faced with the opposite of certainty, which is uncertainty. The limbic system of the brain gets activated and we experience all sorts of emotions, positive and negative, big and small.

 

As a person who has experienced major and less major changes in the last 15 years, at intervals of 3 to 5 years, I thought I have a good relationship with change. I thought I tamed my mind to look at change straight in the eyes, and say, “Let’s just do it!”

 

Faced with yet another change, not so big this time, I was surprised to observe my panicky, anxious and sentimental reaction. I was informed ahead of time that the change will come. Yet, when the change happened, there was a dominant voice in my head asking, “Do we really have to go through this?”

 

Yes, unwanted changes do happen. One of the best things we could do is to go deeper in our inner world, beyond emotions and thinking, and tap into the inner wisdom that can teach us a few things about ourselves.

 

Layers of personal identity

 

Change in life makes us revisit the idea of personal identity. Who did you think you were before the change? Who are the people and what are the objects you feel a strong attachment to? What capabilities and qualities do you discover about yourself when managing change? What are the weaknesses that consume you the most?  How do you believe your identity is expanding?

 

In the first phase of change, it can happen that we stubbornly hold onto who we thought we were before. For someone who may go through a divorce, you may think of yourself still as a wife or husband. We refuse to accept that new status is of a divorced person. In the second stage, which can be sooner if you’re lucky or otherwise, later, we may become aware that we experience groundlessness. Groundlessness is the state of being where nothing makes sense anymore, what you thought to be true is not valid anymore.

 

Personally, I find this groundlessness to be a magical opportunity to expand the personal identity, to grow out of whatever roles we may have in different life circumstances and look upon our identity from a larger perspective – the perspective of eternity.

 

Let’s play for few seconds with the idea that in 1000 years from now, someone will stumble upon your photo. What would you like that person to know about who you were?

 

Recreating your life

 

Changes bring opportunities to do things in daily life, differently. In between the moments of emotional turmoil, when we have few glimpses of peacefulness, we may want to ask ourselves how do we want to live. What higher purpose would we like to have?

 

We may not be able to control everything in life but we are very much able to test our limits to do the wonderful things in life. For example, now when I moved house, I have a different scenery when I look out of the window. This new image inspires me to dream about new habits, such as the habit of taking action and implementing one of my dreams.

 

Reframing the reality

 

Change does bring in some moments that we actually love. Let those moments sink into your soul. For example, when moving to another country, there may be something that you love experiencing in the new culture. And when faced with another round of groundlessness, when you believe everything in your life goes wrong, it’s beneficial to remember to be hopeful about what we haven’t lived yet.

 

Adjust the expectations

 

After managing a life change, celebrate yourself for going through whatever it was thrown at you. Make a mental map of the skills you’ve developed. Enjoy observing how the respective skills are now part of you. In hindsight, look upon sensitive moments with humour. Appreciate the people who have been by your side. However, don’t expect to be well-prepared for the next change. Just trust yourself that when the change forges into your life, you’ll be able to tap into your inner wisdom again and tackle the change, one step at a time.  

 

Living carefree

 

Normally, we have the tendency to worry. There is no limit how much a human being could worry. Someone like myself, living in Helsinki, may worry on a sunny day that in the next hour the clouds may come and the sun will be out of sight for weeks.

 

Experiencing change may shed light on an important personal decision about how much we want to worry and what are the things it’s worth to worry about.

 

With each and every change, we have the opportunity to get closer to living freely and embracing life with courage.     

 

I’d love to hear from you. What insights did you gain out of experiencing changes in your life?

  

The Capacity of Awe in Focus

We are most likely to experience awe when we are faced with a new and unexpected phenomenon, such as thunder, lightning or when we spend time in nature. The emotion of awe has psychological benefits, such as giving us solace in moments of trial. It also has physiological benefits, such as keeping to a healthy level the cytokines, the proteins that help the body cells fight infection. Since feeling awe does wonders to our mind and body, what can help us be more open to awe and what strategies can we adopt to feel awe in our hectic lives?

 

Can you think of a moment when you saw or heard something which was so unimaginable beautiful and breathtaking that your mind entered a state of stillness? Time stopped ticking and you were overwhelmed with wonder and curiosity. Tears in your eyes, you may have even felt like kneeling down in the midst of the uncanny event. This is how an awe-inspiring experience might be.

 

The need for beauty – a story of awe

 

One morning last May, I woke up with the desperate need to see the beauty around me. On the usual way to the playground where I would spend the mornings with my boys, a violet crocus was blooming on the side of the road. My hands hurriedly fumbled for the iPhone in the bag. I asked the boys to wait for three seconds and the first photo of a crocus was joyfully taken.

 

One month later, my husband gave me as a gift a more professional camera which became my best friend. I started making time in my hectic daily life to stroll around in search of stunning flowers of intense colors and mesmerizing perfumes. Those flowers had been there the previous Springs and Summers but I only noticed them last year. It was such an fascinating discovery for me to observe that there are so many types of tulips, with different shapes of petals.

 

The camera lens allowed me to go closer than ever to the soul of flowers. I felt reverence to their perfect and symmetric beauty. I was perplexed at the universal intelligence that can create such beauty. I came back home relaxed and with a big smile on my face.

 

This year, I am much more aware about the beauty of the nature during my usual walks. Flowers, trees, grass, clouds, birds, insects are my companions. Every day, this is a new parade of clouds in the sky. Some flowers wither, some others are ready to blossom. There is life in every one of them and I watch it unfolding.

 

By now, you might have guessed which is my new hobby. I lose track of time when taking photos of flowers. I feel free and connected to some sort of flower sisterhood. I am in awe!     

 

What is Awe and why is it so important?

 

In the Old English, awe was used to express fear and dread. Now, the meaning of awe has evolved to a positive emotion “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear.”, as leading researcher Dacher Keltner describes it. 

 

In collaboration with researcher Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Dacher Keltner carried out a study to find the location of awe in the brain. The participants of the study were shown a series of slides that evoked sensory pleasure, pride, compassion and awe. While the participants viewed the slides, an fMRI scanner was taking photos of their brains.

 

The awe slides activated the left orbitofrontal cortex, which is a brain area that is lit when we are physically touched, when we are involved in a goal-oriented action or when we reflect upon our internal experience from a broader perspective. Therefore, it seems that we are wired for awe and feeling awe may change our perspective upon the world.  

 

Furthermore, research has shown that the experiences of awe can have plenty benefits such as: boost our health, make us live in the present, give us hope and appreciation of life, help us feel connected to nature, create a paradigm-shift, broaden our identity and boost creativity.

 

The challenge is to be open to awe experiences when they present themselves to us. You can be standing in front of the most spectacular rainbow and yet fail to be touched by it because you either are busy to notice it or if you do notice it, you do not savour the awe-feeling because your mind is churning some urgent issues.

 

What makes a person be open to awe?    

In 1930, Albert Einstein wrote in his credo

“ He … who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

 

Einstein believed in awe.

Mary Oliver, the American poet, believed in awe when she wrote:

“Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled—

to cast aside the weight of facts …”

 

Kirk Schneider, humanistic psychologist, believes in awe when he writes in his blog post, Ode to Awe:

“Awe is the God beyond God, the origin and the destination, the expanding question and the expanding answer. It is our humility and wonder before creation; our astonishment before creation.”

I believe in awe and if you are reading this post, it is very likely you also believe in it.

The sources of awe-inspiring experiences

 

In the English Oxford dictionary, awe is

“… caused by profound reverence in the presence of supreme authority, moral greatness or sublimity, or mysterious sacredness.”

As this definition indicates, the belief in awe is rooted in transcendent values such as truth, goodness, and beauty. These three values provide the inner motivation and the need to seek for awe-inspiring experiences in everyday life.

Truth, goodness and beauty are subjective values and precisely the observation of the subjective manifestations of these values can create the awe-inspiring moments in the observer.

Truth

Truth may mean faith in God or in a Higher Power that governs this Universe. Truth may mean the physical laws of the Universe. Truth may mean morality and justice of social system. Truth may mean history and a political ideology. Truth may mean pursuit of our goals.    

This was Einstein’s truth as he writes in his Credo:

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.

 

It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.“

 

What is your truth?

The subjective truth guides our actions, influences our decisions and perceptions on reality. Each moment when we observe a manifestation of our truth could be an awe-inspiring moment.

Goodness

Goodness is the second transcendent value which can be the source of awe-inspiring experiences. You do not have to believe in God in order to believe in goodness. Human beings can essentially be kind, compassionate, empathetic, loving, generous, as studies at the research center Greater Good Science also show it. Goodness refers to all the qualities and virtues that people reflect in their behaviors.  

For Mary Oliver, the dynamics of nature and the love for parents represent goodness, as she warm-heartedly writes in her poem, “Of Goodness”.

“How good

That the clouds travel, as they do,

Like the long dresses of the angels

Of our imagination,

 

Or gather in storm masses, then break

With their gifts of replenishment,

How good it is that we travel from one side of the family to the other

On this Thanksgiving weekend

 

Disappearing fathers on one wing and diminishing mothers on the other

But what I would give to see a teal to deal

With the heartache and the loss

And so on and so on.”

What else does goodness mean to you? Search for goodness in people and when you find it, that goodness will become part of yourself.   

Beauty

Beauty, the third source of awe, involves ideas of taste, aesthetics and passion in nature, art, music, science, technology, etc. The same properties and sounds of an object in nature or in artistic/scientific/technological works can terrify some of us or make some others stand in awe. The encounter with a snake can make some freak-out and run, whereas others may stand still and observe the snake with fascination.

To Einstein’s mind,

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. … To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms— this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.”

 

Beauty may lie in the expression of emotions captured in a poem, a song or a dance.  

Beauty may mean your passions. What are your passions and how living your passions can be awe-inspiring? For example, if you were passionate about mathematics, a novel mathematical formula could be a source of awe.

What else does beauty mean to you? How important is to surround yourself by beauty?

Eventually, beauty lies in anything that touches us deeply and makes us live for.

Creating awe-experiences in everyday life


In everyday life, it is more challenging to live transformative awe-inspiring experiences, like standing on a mountain top – unless we live near-by mountains. Researcher Rick Hanson suggests that 30 seconds of focus on a good fact, such as a cup of coffee, can be extremely efficient to rewire the brain to remember positive emotions. In a similar line of thought, how can we create some space in our everyday life for awe-inspiring moments? Here are four strategies:

Design your home space – The animators at Pixar, an American computer animation studio, have their offices designed as wooden huts or caves, awe-inspiring symbols. How about designing some awe-inspiring corners in your home? What awe-inspiring objects would you put in those corners? Now and then, change the symbols or the places where those symbols are so that your brains can react to the novelty.  

Listen to a video of an influential person you think highly of – YouTube is an abundant source of talks of talented people in different fields of your interest. Recently, I discovered Jason Silva’s channel Shots of Awe, which I listen to whenever I feel the need to be enlivened. How about you? To whom would you like to listen to sparkle your imagination?

Get into a child-like mind – take some moments to be playful. Play with your kids, your partner, your friends. How would you like a drawing game, for example? Chose a photo of a famous person and draw a caricature.  Who has the funniest drawing? You or your kid? If you like cooking, how about arranging creatively the food on the plates for the people who are going to taste the food? If neither drawing not cooking are your cup of tea, there are so many domains out there for you to choose from and get playful. Playfulness shakes off the jadedness and brings to surface the curiosity to investigate further. Surprise yourself!   

Reorganize your daily life – make a list of your values and describe how these values are reflected in your everyday life. There may be some conflicts between some of your values and daily activities. There may be some values that don’t serve you any good and some activities that don’t reflect your deeply held values. Most importantly, be ready to change for the better version of you. What touches you most in your everyday life? How could you explore it closer and more often? How much time would you need for that? What else do you need to carry out your exploration?

According to Protagoras’ myth about the origins of human beings, Zeus endowed humans with the capacity of awe. Therefore, let’s make the most out of this capacity. We wouldn’t want to make Zeus angry, would we?

If you have a personal awe-story, I’d be glad if you shared it with me, at discoveriesinto(at)gmail.com. With your acceptance, I will publish it on my blog. Awe-stories inspire people, so how would you like to inspire someone with your story?       

Lessons of Motherhood

On my 37th birthday, I came to realize the importance of shifting from the “me and myself” thinking to “us” thinking for the wellbeing of the family. When small personal expectations are not met due to unexpected events of the present moment, inner conflict arises. Despite that, if we allow ourselves to express the love we feel for the family, before we know it, we are back to inner balance.

Daydreaming

I’ve recently turned 37 years. My husband rented a boat and we went off sailing around the archipelago of Helsinki till sunset. We enjoyed the serenity of the still dormant nature of March in Helsinki. We had some white wine and blue cheese while sharing whatever thoughts budded in our minds. We danced salsa and played board games.

As a matter of fact, the related events are but mere imagination.

The reality

Being a family with two small kids, we had a silent agreement that we would focus the energy on our boys. Our family of four spends most of the free time together. Yet somewhere deep inside, I was hoping that my birthday or my husband’s would be spent with a tiny bit of focus on ourselves also.

 

The morning of my 37th birthday followed after a bad night’s sleep. Yet, the joy of life surmounted the sleepiness when my hubby informed that he’s taking the day off to spend it together with me and the boys. The first half of the day was spent at an indoors playground, where we were switching between the two boys. On way back home, I was thinking which tasty dish we would have for dinner while our boys would be sleeping like angels.

 

Hardly did we arrive home when our youngest son started crying. With every scream of help, my soul was overcast by worry. The face of our baby was furrowed by pain and we were watching helplessly. Half an hour later, which felt like an eternity, we figured out what the problem was. One hour later, our baby felt better but I was in an emotional blockage.

 

I was doing my best though to fake an “Everything is fine” smile to the boys. My hubby gave me a heartfelt hug while whispering, “You must feel awful now!”

Lessons of a meaningful moment

My birthday may not have been a day of celebration and romance, yet it was a day that showed to me the power of love and living meaningfully. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world, but right there, in our flat, holding our baby in the arms during his moments of pain. I felt lost for not being able to find a rapid cure for his ailment. I felt guilty for ever thinking to put him earlier to bed so I can enjoy the birthday evening solely with his father. Most of all, I felt how my love was soothing him despite the pain. And this was a remarkable feeling!

 

As for our marriage, the love that we feel for each other has been expressed differently since we became parents. We passed the stage of salsa parties (where we met) or walking under the moonlight. We are at the stage of supporting each other in parenting the best we can. We certainly miss being just the two of us. However, we are aware we are at this stage when we have to wait for our turn to have a hug. The little ones are first in line.

 

It became clear to me that at this stage, living meaningfully means giving up on any other plans of enjoyment or must-do errands and be present with the whole being when our children need us the most.

 

Every new day may bring unexpected challenges for our family – i.e., the entire family waiting in the emergency room. Facing such challenges while finding new ways to express love strengthen the family bonds. The challenge remains a memory upon which we look back and say heartedly, “We did it together!”

 

How about you? What changed in your life after becoming a parent and how do you feel about it?

 

PS. On the 4th of March 2014, our second baby was born. I am still at home with both boys. Being a mom is the toughest job I ever got and the most meaningful at the same time. I feel lucky to be the mother of two wonderful boys who make me want to be a better person. Each day is a storm of emotions, such as love, empathy, joy, anger, irritation, frustration, etc. At the end of the day, there is the feeling of contentment for spending a full day together when I discover new faces of the boys’ personalities.

 

I will continue writing on my blog each time I get some time on my own. Considering how our life has been so far, the most realistic scenario is once a month. I hope you’ll enjoy the new posts! :)   

About regrets, forgiveness and joy

“No, nothing,
I don’t regret anything
Not the good that others have done to me
Not the bad, it’s all the same to me
Because my life, my joys

Today, they begin with you.” Edith Piaf, the song, “Je ne regrette rien”

It took a trip to the side of town where I used to live 9 years ago to understand that the past is recorded in my soul and it only needs an external event to trigger it out. Some regrets came to the surface of consciousness but forgiveness jumped in to help and brought joy instead.

The city – unchartered map of personal life stages

The other day I had some errands to do in a part of town where I used to live at the time when I was studying for my PhD. Since the weather was generous with us, I said to my toddler, “Let’s take a walk in this neighbourhood.”

When we were crossing the park that I used to see every day on my way to the campus, a heavy feeling nested in my chest. “This park was one of the few daily joys at that time.” I mentioned to my son, relieved that he does not quite understand what mommy is blabbering.

Feelings, which I thought were long forgotten, stormed in. If it wasn’t for the company of my child, I would have sworn I was back in time.

I’ve moved house quite a few times, and each time I moved in a new flat, I started a new stage of my life. Most likely, if I visited other neighbourhoods where I lived, I would tap into the emotional life that I had at the respective time.

I used to believe that as we grow and learn our lessons from sufferance, our soul forgets the bad and rejoices the good.

I don’t know how you are, but it appears that my soul is similar to computer databases. If the latter stores business transactions, my soul is storing the emotions lived.

Good or bad, they are both imprinted inside and it takes time and spiritual strength to move closer to the state of being of peacefulness and acceptance of the past.

Regrets, there are a few. They shall be mentioned, should I cross my way with the persons I was unjust with.

But, past is past and our life is in the present. And my present is my son.

In order to fully embrace the present, forgiveness towards ourselves can help us heal the wounds caused by regrets.

Would you like to turn back the time?

If you can’t truly forgive yourself, in your fantasies, you can turn back the time if you want to. Live imageries where you apologise from your heart. You can cry, or smash some dishes in the kitchen. Then, return to your present.

Most likely, the present holds its own challenges. Life becomes way too complex if we carry the burden of the past to entangle it with the hardships of the present.

Comparing life stages just to make a point that we are better off or worse off in the present is such a waste of energy.

It does not matter if we were happier or more miserable 5 years ago. It matters that we are here and now and we need to do our best with our emotions, intellectual and spiritual abilities to live the now.

At the end of this life, I’d like to be able to say wholeheartedly, “I did my best to live beautifully!” The emotions and thoughts recorded in my personal database would stand as clear evidence.

There is no joy or love that would be lost, they are all preserved in us!

Do you have any regrets? If you do, how much do you think they affect your ability to live the present?

Let’s be kind to the emptiness inside

Emptiness is one of the feelings that most of us have experienced. Knowing the cause of this feeling is less important. It is more important to know how we can cope with it.

Talking about the durability of the new constitution, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, “…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

When we turn our attention towards our inner world, the feeling of emptiness is certainly something that every human experiences to different extent, many times during a lifetime. Wikipedia defines emptiness as “a sense of generalised boredom, social alienation and apathy.

Think of these potential life situations:

  1. We are madly in love, hoping to spend all our life with the loved one. One day, we realise we need to start walking separate ways.
  2. We’ve recently attended the funeral of a loved one.
  3. We reached a goal after years of endeavours and hardships.
  4. Our life is missing someone close to us to love and care for.
  5. We made a huge leap of faith, leaving behind the safety of a job and plunging into the unknown of a new professional start.

In any of these cases, emptiness may grow inside until the only feeling we are aware of is the void, which carves our soul and numbs it.

Should we be afraid of the lack of aliveness?

Just like Winter is a natural and important season in some climates, the same with emptiness, it can be a natural part of the changes we go through in life.

Apparently, nothing happens inside us when we feel it. But if we contemplate more on it, we can see that a new start is on its way.

Instead of fearing it, we can embrace it and let it stay in us for a while.

Should we just lie down and wait?

The sun still shines and warms in the Winter. In a similar way, we owe it to our soul, that is momentarily void, to carry on with activities that can have a healing effect.

People are the most effective way to help our soul in transformation, especially those persons we truly connect with. Simply being by their side suffices to soothe our soul and sluggishly charge it with aliveness.

Assuming we don’t have any such person in our life, listening to music can be an equally good choice. Any type of music will do as long as it resonates within us.

Watching theatre performances can have miraculous effects on our soul. An actor’s gesture, facial expression or a fleeting line can touch us and lift us up. Or stand-up comedies can make us laugh the emptiness out.

Art exhibitions have a similar effect as theatre performances. I remember visiting one of Picasso’s exhibitions in Helsinki. I was watching one of his paintings when I uttered with admiration, “What a genius mind, thinking to paint a face based on the personality of that woman and not on her physical traits!”

Hardly did I know that the impact of Picasso’s painting was deeper than a one minute admiration. The moment I stepped out the museum I felt that I can do whatever I want. In the following days, I found the courage to truly love.

If arts are not our cup of tea, then maybe sports can help to move on from emptiness to the next stage of personal growth.

If none of the above-mentioned activities are appealing, then it may help the thought that at the same time with us, there are others who feel the same. And we can imagine that we all gather under the moonlight and watch it in silence.

The sun will shine tomorrow again.

How about you, what do you do when you feel emptiness?

Summer epiphany

The day when I discovered inner freedom, I felt genuinely happy.

Welcome back home

After a cold and long Winter, Summer came in May, very determined to enforce its rule on the nature. The air is filled with the scent of lilies and other blossoming flowers. The birds enliven the silence of the night with their uplifting songs.

My frozen soul woke up one morning with the joy to live for the day.

Beyond all the clutter and worries of the mind, I tapped into an inner freedom. It felt like returning back home, to my true self!

A nonconventional freedom

This inner freedom I am talking about is a state of being which quiets the mind and enables to feel the flow of the present experiences.

In this state of being, there are no identities as a parent, partner or professional. It’s only the natural state of being, defined by aliveness.

It is from within this inner freedom that happiness originates. It is within this space where each day, I can redesign my inner world.

Connected to the inner freedom

Life reaches a deeper dimension where there is excitement and acceptance of what is.

At this deeper dimension, I can only smile at the expectations that I set on others or the expectations that others may have on me. I can only laugh about my miseries.

I come one step closer to God, genuinely grateful for being alive. I embrace all the nuances of truly living!

Let’s dare to live!

What’s your take on the importance of inner freedom for personal happiness?

Back to intuition

“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein

There are moments when we can hear it loud and clear, in our inner world. Yet, we don’t dare to follow it, we think that, “Maybe I’m wrong.” Then we regret it. What does it take from us to actually listen to our intuition?  

Reclaiming our gift

We were born with the gift of intuition, known also by the name of “gut feeling”. Both psychology and spirituality agree upon the effects that intuition has on our lives: it helps us, it improves our lives.

Carl Jung defined it as the perception of the unconscious. In his view, intuition is an irrational function that human beings possess and which, by an unconscious process, provides creative ideas and solutions to problems.

In books of spirituality, like Angela Artemis’s book, “The Intuition Principle: How to Attract the Life You Dream of “, intuition is defined as the higher type of knowledge which connects the earthly knowledge with God’s knowledge (called also Greater Intelligence knowledge). In other words, intuition is the knowledge which connects us to the source of life from where we came.

In light of my personal experiences, intuition is the inner voice that tells us what people and experiences are suitable for the harmonic growth of our true self.

No matter how we define it or what kind of role we assign to it, we know when we feel it.

Intuition can manifest itself in the form of pure joy when we are fulfilling our true destiny. For example, if someone offers us a job and we are overwhelmed with joy, then we know that our most reliable consultant, the intuition, has spoken to us. We want to take up that offer.

On the other hand, if we are hesitant about someone or something, then it may be better to avoid getting too involved.

Connecting to intuition is one thing, acting upon it is a totally different kettle of fish

In our house, the remote control is lost on a daily basis – my toddler likes to hide it each day in a different place. I like to let the intuition take me to the place where the remote control can be.

Every time, after a few moments of panic, I empty my mind and let the body be in charge. One day I found it in the cupboard, among the piles of dishes and pots.

Sometimes we choose to go against the intuition, relying more on other rational thoughts.

Last July, I rented my studio apartment to a 20-years-old man, despite my intuition. The first time I laid my eyes on him, my entire being screamed, “No! Don’t rent it to him!” Two months after signing the renting agreement, he stopped paying rent.

Six months passed before he was evicted from the flat. Ignoring my intuition, I offered to him free accommodation for half of a year.

In the blink of an eye, intuition informs us if a situation would be beneficial or unfavourable to us in time. It doesn’t take too long to let us know that we’ve just met the right person.

Yet, the people in our lives (who may have the best intentions at heart) and our own thoughts provide the background noise which makes some of us ignore the inner voice of intuition.

Learn to trust the intuition

The more information our brains absorb, the more infatuated we become about applying knowledge in our life. The inner voice of intuition is muffled.

We are taught that knowledge is power. Being well informed opens our mind to the world we live in. However, intuition gives us the eyes of wisdom to live meaningfully in any aspect of our life – love life, professional life, social life, spiritual life, etc.

Intuition may be patient with us, but once we choose to prioritise it over rational choices, it also requires some discipline from us:

  • to be aware of the inner voice.
  • to be brave to listen to it, to stick to it no matter what.
  • to be consistent and search for the opportunities that can lead to living genuine experiences.

We need to commit to our intuition if we want to live meaningfully.

What if intuition stops talking to us?

Tuning into our intuition is a life-term project. There are moments when it is silent and we may feel forsaken without it.

Yet, we need to relax. Let us meditate, if we have the chance. Let’s do things that we truly enjoy doing. Intuition will show up again, at the right time and place!

The day when we base our decisions on intuition, we open the door to authentic life experiences. Like other life experiences, there will be high and lows. Unlike other life experiences, there will be the joy of finally being able to discover ways of expressing our true self.

How about you, what do you rely mostly on intuition or reason when you make decisions in your life?

 

What is failure?

In order to achieve wealth, humankind invented the concept of performance. Charles Darwin’s theory on survival of the fittest is confirmed in everyday life when winners are loved, losers forgotten. Despite all this, with each omission of performance, we have the chance to discover what is truly important for us. 

The other side of performance

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that failure is “omission of occurrence or performance.”. Already in kindergarten, we are introduced to the world of performance, when we recite poetry, dance and sing in front of the audience of parents.

Our taste for performance develops as we go through school. Yet, in school we are not taught how to cope with failure.

We are motivated with grades and praises to be successful. The top students are the favourites of teachers.

When we start our working life, the mere presence of our boss is a reminder that we are hired there to perform.

Choose any profession and you’ll have a set of performance measures assigned to it. For example, doctors can be assessed based on the number of patients. Researchers can be evaluated based on the number of publications and the quality of journals where they publish their work.

What happens if we fail to perform?

Whether we are fired or penalised for bad performance, we have the opportunity to look at life from a deeper perspective. Even those of us who perceive themselves as performers are not defined by performance.

Our identity does not need to be based on profession. We may need to reassess what we are good at, what motivates us, what makes us tick.

Performance may play its role in the evaluation of progress in economy but it should not be confused with Life.

We are human beings with amazing potential to express ourselves freely and creatively. For that, we need to get out of the way the obsession with performance.

In my personal dictionary, failure is the opportunity to get in touch with our intuition and start acting based on it.

 

Bye bye sufferance, welcome mindfulness!

Making changes in life is a complex process, which can cause lots of confusion. Mindfulness, the ability to focus on the present without being judgemental can help us manage the change in a healthier and more pleasant manner.

When we talk about change in personal life, mindfulness means mainly wrapping ourselves in the love inside and around us. At the same time, it is important to cultivate patience, courage and faith – pillars of mindfulness of change. 

What is the intuition telling you?

Now when the Spring is sheepishly showing its face, some of us can’t help paying attention to their inner voice which says, “A new stage of life transformation is waiting for you.”

It’s not the first life transformation you’re going through! Oh no! Your soul and mind remember how it is to be battered with self-doubt, insecurities and fear of failure. Agonising between the lows of disappointment and the highs of envisioned dreams, you may conclude, “Why bother! Life is good the way it is!”.

For some of us, life is good the way it is, and we are free to reply to our inner voice, “Why don’t you bugger off?”

Others say, “You know what, Inner Voice? This new life transformation is part of my destiny. Thank you for reminding me! ”

For once, we can make the change happen with less sufferance, and a more positive attitude to change.

Positive Attitude to Change

Love: Focusing on the love inside and around us is the anchor to the present.

Be present both with the body and soul to the dear ones who need us. Find creative ways of spending time together. Be receptive to their needs.

You may think you don’t have time. Well, think twice. Don’t underestimate the inspiration and creativity that spring from love.

Patience: Take the steps towards the new chapter in life, but do keep in mind that patience is a virtue. Be persistent and reassess your strategies.

Life transformation is a complex process that consists of different stages: hearing the inner call to change, searching for ways to make it happen, concrete actions, achievement.

Courage: Achievement means living the transformation. There is no such thing as failure. Each transformation brings us closer to who we really are.

The transformed life may not be the way we envisioned it, but it surely feels that’s the life we are meant to live.

Faith: Hold onto the belief that change has its own timing. Don’t be discouraged by the surrounding reality, which does not seem to point in the direction of change.

The way the first bird singing signals that Spring is around the corner, in the same way, the whisper of the inner voice shows that we will get all the help of the Universe to make the transformational stage happen.

Last but not least, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the ride with all the bumps on the road! This is life!