In this post I take another look at my life according to three main areas of well-being: physical, mental and emotional. I last did this exercise nine years ago, and for the first time 11 years before that. The three posts, therefore, give the briefest snapshot-summary of the last 20 years. As well as a clear indication of my development, they offer proof of the benefit of writing things down because without my earlier notes it would be easy for me to dismiss, overlook, or twist any notion of progress.
Before I come to the three areas, it is important to say that the last two months have seen noticeable progress in other areas which have been a constant theme over the past 20 years. Namely, that there is:
After years of running up against a wall of my own reluctance, fuelled by a deceptive belief that I am actually addressing those issues, I feel as though I have broken through into a space of liberation and relief. Karaj has challenged me on numerous occasions recently, the difference being that this time I heard him clearly and took decisive action (just like I used to). The strain of trying has been significantly lifted.
Here, then, is my current situation, portrayed in the context of the three basic categories:
I continue to be amazed at the value and results of my daily exercises. The run of consecutive days I began in September 2013 continues. I recently went past the 2500 mark and my physique, strength, and flexibility continue to improve. There are also noticeable changes in balance and connection. At the beginning and on many occasions along the way, I considered I would eventually plateau. I don’t push myself in my exercises so it’s easy to conclude that progress will at some point stagnate.
But I do them every day, and that is the difference. It has proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, and each year I see and feel a difference. Although there is still work to be done, I know from experience that the right approach is to proceed patiently, gently, steadily, and inexorably onwards. That kind of approach has brought great dividends in my personal development and it is showing in my physical development, too.
The years before this current run were littered with back problems, pain and setbacks. The years since have not been without incident (here’s the last big one), but there is definitely a strength and resilience about me which I have not had before. As Karaj always used to say, focus on building the foundations and the rest will take care of itself. Every day I exercise is another brick in the substantial and solid foundation of my life, allowing me to reach upward to greater heights, whilst always keeping my feet firmly on the ground.
In addition, I am also paying more attention to my body – to what it wants, what it needs, and the messages it gives me. This re-connection has come through Qi Gong and body work, as well as an increasing understanding of the effects of trauma on the body and what can be done about it. The result is a greater sense of wholeness, appreciation and tenderness.
I feel as though I am in the zone. With Karaj’s clarity and insistence over the last couple of months, I have liberated myself in a number of ways. He has been helping me for years, and it’s important to acknowledge that these latest developments are built on the bedrock of previous efforts. I’m not floating around on a cloud, free from the shackles of daily living, but I am manifestly lighter as a result.
I have perhaps followed his word a little too blindly for some, but he has only encouraged me and supported me in doing the things I actually want to do, but have not had the courage nor clarity to do as fully as I have now. I am finally beginning to protect my space in ways Karaj told me about from the start.
Another stabilising and joyful factor has been the work of Charles Eisenstein. I discovered him nine months ago and have since read all his books. His work has helped to confirm that I am on the right path. I mean, I know that I am (most of the time) but still the doubt surfaces because when I look around me I see something different to the world I seek to inhabit. Eisenstein’s work is a scaling up of my own work to the whole of humanity. When I hear him speak or read his words, I feel heard. I feel acknowledged. I feel seen. Such things have a transformational effect on one’s mental state.
[Update: Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic took Eistenstein down a path along which I cannot follow him. Nevertheless, his contribution to me has been one of great kinship, together with a deeper understanding of our separation from ourselves, each other, and our world.]
Similarly, I have discovered other thinkers in the last week alone, whose work I shall explore further. When I listen to them, although they freely admit that some of what they are discussing may be difficult to grasp, the material makes complete sense to me. Like Eisenstein’s work, theirs is a synthesis and an extension of mine. The ease with which I can relate to it gives me both confidence and conviction. It reinforces and vindicates everything I have done over the last 20 years, and simultaneously offers a clear path forward, itself a source of relief and comfort.
Unsurprisingly, given the improvements physically and mentally, I am also calmer emotionally. I notice a difference in my conversations and in the little daily setbacks which can easily frustrate. Thanks to the work of Eisenstein, I am finding common ground in dialogue instead of inhabiting the extremes of an increasingly polarised world. I am not trying so hard, which makes it easier to find a calmer perspective on everything. It makes life significantly easier, and means I am better able to listen. In listening, the truth is more accessible and reveals itself more readily.
I am more at ease with myself, and have noticed how that ease helps me over the little hurdles we all encounter in our daily lives. There, too, I feel as though I am in the zone. I am still triggered, but there is a more heightened awareness about what is happening on the inside. Consequently, I find I am more able to reset and let go. From there it’s easier to re-engage, and any renewed approach is always more effective.
The theme of my conversations with Karaj at the moment is love. He has urged me to focus on nothing else. It is giving me a greater appreciation of my life. I am seeing more clearly than ever that over the last two decades I have been intensely exposed to the benefit, contribution and the love of two very special people in my life (not even including my young son). Their presence has significantly improved my whole existence and I am a far better person because of them. I currently feel more grounded than ever in their love and in my own.
Generally, I am seeing myself and my internal workings more clearly – and sooner too; I have a solid foundation upon which to ground myself every time I get lost; and I have the tools and the practice to find a way through. In short, if listening fully and loving completely is all I do, then I can sustain myself in an ever-increasing circle of beauty and connection.
I am reminded of the groundbreaking weekend in May 2000. Fascinatingly, that post, which is only 300 words long, says much of what this one is about. Writing this latest version of the same text has given me an appreciation of what can be achieved in 20 years, but also an understanding that it takes 20 years (and 1150 blog posts) to achieve such things. It’s easy to claim a peak experience as life-changing, but they are often transitory in nature as our habits and conditioning envelop us, pulling us back each time into our accustomed reality. It takes time to create concrete change. Not only am I seeing that more clearly than ever, I am feeling it too.
There is a sense of spring cleaning about where I am. Having recently released certain aspects of my life and my behaviour, I feel as though a weight has been lifted, even though the issues themselves did not seem heavy at the time.
And that points to a serious aspect of our lives. We tolerate, justify and ignore the effects of negativity, when we don’t need to. We are well within our rights as human beings to demand better treatment from others and from ourselves.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t put up with anything you think you shouldn’t have to. Demand of yourself that you prioritise your own health and well-being, and also that you build the most solid of foundations and develop a level of discernment which sets the highest example to those around you. That way you can connect to others in ways that make it possible to create something you never thought possible.