The following story, called The Rainmaker, was told to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung by Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930). Wilhelm was a German sinologist, theologian, and missionary who lived in China for 25 years. He was fluent in spoken and written…
Jayne and I are starting to teach online meditation classes on the Full Moon of the Guru, on the 5th of July 2020 (Sydney time). The aim of these classes is first to teach techniques that charge the powers of…
Here we are in this difficult place, between coping with the effects of isolation and navigating our way in an unsafe world. This in-between zone is not only a harsh new reality but also a dramatic metaphor for the changes…
The healthier you are, the better your chance to get through the coronavirus pandemic relatively unscathed. The latest research shows that people who are overweight, who have diabetes and other chronic diseases, or who smoke are more at risk of becoming seriously ill with this virus. However, there are things you can do right now to improve your health and reduce your risk.
There are four pillars of health that create a strong foundation for total wellbeing:
- A calm, peaceful mind and the cultivation of self-awareness.
- 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted, deep, restful sleep.
- Plenty of activity and exercise.
- A good diet, and appropriate fasting (especially if you are overweight).
All four pillars support each other. However, the most important is a calm, peaceful mind, which cultivates self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the most important thing you can have at this time. It is even more important than toilet paper.
There are two viruses in the world at present. One is the coronavirus. The other is psychic contagion… fear and panic.
It is because of psychic contagion that the development of self-awareness and a calm, peaceful mind is key to your health and survival. Self-awareness, which improves with deep rest and a healthy lifestyle, is critical. Self-awareness enables you to:
- Stop touching your face while you are potentially exposed to coronavirus.
- Monitor your state of health and tune into your needs.
- Know what to eat and how much exercise you need to improve your health.
- And most importantly, self-awareness cultivates good mental health and prevents unnecessary anxiety, panic, and catastrophizing.
Every time you step outside the boundary of your front door, you are potentially exposed to coronavirus. Self-awareness enables you to move through the world outside of the relative safety of your home and remain safe and connected rather than disconnected out of fear, thereby becoming more vulnerable.
The cultivation of self-awareness and connection enables you to absorb information and process it so that you gain a sense of confidence that is grounded in reality. It is from this position that you can access your intuition and creativity to respond intelligently.
You will need a lot of self-awareness to adapt to the new world that is emerging in these next months.
The first pillar – Develop a calm, peaceful mind and self-awareness
The development of a calm, peaceful mind and self-awareness is the most challenging of the four pillars. It is much easier to modify your diet or start doing some exercise than to deal with your mind, yet your mind influences all the other pillars.
It is relatively easy to create physical health, but the mind is a much bigger fish to fry. This is because much of it is unconscious. You are only aware of a small fraction of your mind, your conscious mind, which is like a wave arising out of the ocean of the unconscious mind, which is the realm of your psyche and spirit.
Your psyche is an autonomous force, outside of your control. You need to be able to dive into the psyche via meditation to form a healthy relationship with this bigger part of you. The way to do this is by regular meditation practice.
From the point of view of the ego, the psyche is chaotic, because the forces and impulses contained within it do not conform to social norms. You can see your psyche reflected in the strange world of your dreams. There is a constant tension between your ego and your psyche, and this tension needs to be managed if you are to remain healthy, both physically and mentally.
“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
— Mark Twain
The new year is a time to think about what you want to achieve and to set new goals accordingly. Proceed carefully, because unless you’re in the minority of people who succeed, your new year’s vision will soon cloud over and nothing will change.
A 2018 YouGov poll found that one in 5 Americans stuck to their resolutions. Other research suggests the same stats, 80% abandon their resolutions in the first quarter. More radical resolutions fail faster. The reason cited is lost motivation. The remedy: Find tools and tactics to keep you motivated — a productivity app, accountability buddy, or motivational coach.
If you suspect that motivation is your issue, it could be wise to try these remedies. Personally, I’m not for externally imposed motivation. It takes me back to catholic girls’ college and cantankerous nuns killing all manner of fun.
But it’s not only my personal experience (trauma) that makes me reject external motivational. When it comes to falling short of a goal, I believe something more fundamental sends our desires sideways or to the back-burner, or into oblivion.
“As there is no worldly gain without some loss, so there is no worldly loss without some gain.”
– Francis Quarles
We, humans, are acquisitive creatures. The archaic drive of the hunter and gatherer also powers modern lives. But unlike our lean-living, itinerant ancestors, we inhabit a world of oversupply and stagnation. We tend to sit, dig in, and hold onto things long past their use-by date.
Just as planet earth suffers from human excess, we individually bear this burden. While the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up and zen-living gurus showed us — room by room, object by object — how to live with less, our less-visible hoardings still collect dust year after year.
Projects, skills, jobs, relationships, behaviors, and habits would also benefit from the life-changing habit because if we’re at full capacity with things set in motion in the previous years, piling on more won’t upgrade our quality of life or bring success — only the opposite.
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and Brazil, November 2, 2019.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools. Many families celebrate a traditional “All Saints’ Day” associated with the Catholic Church.
Halloween is a fun celebration mostly for children to dress as ghosts and ghouls and delightfully spook neighbors. The Day of the Dead is more personal and familial. It’s aimed at remembering the departed, the loved and unloved.
And why not celebrate our dead, remember, and commemorate?
Your reasons need not be religious or cultural. Reasons can be found in the origin of the words, commemorate, memorable, memorial, remember, and memory itself. The Latin root for these is memor, meaning “mindful”, and the Greek word mermēra, meaning “care”.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
We remember to be mindful of and to care for the dead. Just one day, before we forget again.
Gone And Forgotten.
Obsessed with the here and now, the new and the better, we forget the past and the departed. It’s as though we suffer mass-amnesia.
Prolific intellectual, art critic, and poet, Clive James addressed this in his tome Cultural Amnesia, published in 2007.
Shining a light on the legacies of public figures that have shaped the culture and thinking of this century, James’ central idea of the book is that cultural amnesia is a deficit that touches us all in the Western world. He traces the origins of forgetting to the mass-trauma and ongoing grief of World War 2. We are compelled to forget the inhumanity of the Holocaust, and yet, in doing so, we are impoverished both culturally and personally.
This shared forgetting causes us to neglect the history that created our here and now, the cosmic soup in which we all swim.
We neglect to even know of the public lives whose legacies we benefit from, whether by liberation, peace, beauty, or empowerment. We forget our teachers, those accessible gurus who lit our path. In a hurry to become the teacher, we overlook rightful homage to the blessings bestowed upon us. We forget grandparents and ancestors who created us, whose essence and, to an extent, superficial characteristics and temperament, we embody throughout our mortal lives.
We forget the past not only because of cultural amnesia caused by trauma, but because we prefer tangible, finite, knowable things. The Western world is focused on material living. Unless we seek it consciously, the unknown makes us feel insecure.
Death is a mystery. Without attention to the mysteries, we are poorer. As Joseph Campbell wrote in The Power of Myth, “It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor.”
Radiance and splendor are essential to wellbeing. Without them, we are possessed by mundanity.
The Fecund Void.
“Into the void of silence, into the empty space of nothing, the joy of life is unfurled.”
— C. S. Lewis
The void is more than half of our conscious existence.