Spiritual lifestyle advice and guidance for modern women from bestselling author Alice Grist.
I wrote a few thoughts recently that promoted the idea of issuing out love, rather than revenge or hate, in the face terror. It's a nice thought, but it leaves the reader hanging somewhat.
Our usual love narrative is limiting. It's all about our inner circle and if we are lucky, a significant other and our children. Beyond that we spread our love pretty thin, if at all. The kind of love we need to employ in the face of atrocity is wider, bigger and braver than that pittance of a spattering. Powerful, world changing love demands we go full throttle into a decision to actively love, to participate in love, to love even when it is the last thing we want to do, and to love across boundaries, barriers and difference. Invoking love in the face of terror, or any other heart-wounding situation, is uncomfortable. Yet because it is so hard, and because it isn't the easy option, I believe it is the most powerful, most viable option, it is the one thing that tests us beyond our five senses and takes us to higher, more soulful realms of existence.
So, rather than just dropping the idea of 'love curing all' onto the table and leaving the room, I wanted to show how you might make this a reality in your life. By enacting some very small, personal steps you can create love from nothingness, indifference and even anger, and you can do that even in spite of your natural inclination to growl, spit and claw. I believe that we are being challenged to move beyond the nature of fear. We are culturally shifting into our intuitive heart and soul. It's not for everybody, not yet. But when you break it down, and make it small and real, it's actually easier than you might expect.
We often consider an act of self-love to be something a little fruity, or a treat such as pampering, a spa day, a nice meal, a long hot bath. But loving yourself means taking yourself in hand (not like that) and starting to love your mind, to understand your inner life and to control your reactions. Nothing will change until you fix your internal emotional maladies. Perhaps you are a worrier, fearful, or intolerant, maybe you are easily angered. Maybe you sit in judgment on yourself, on others and then allow your inner turmoil to become something tangible, expressed through the subtleties of your attitude, actions and the way your character can flip, switch, chop and change.
Becoming mindful of your thoughts is essential on a quest for love. You can start now. It is as simple as keeping a check on what floats through your mind. If a thought pops up and you feel a negative emotion arising from it, pop the thought as if it were a bubble. Choose to stop thinking it. This feels challenging at first, but it gets easier, it becomes second nature. Keep a reservoir of happy thoughts to train your mind towards. Count your blessings every day, and reignite them when necessary to help destabilize any negativity that wishes to take root in your soul. Let every situation become infused with a genuine feeling of love. Let love reverberate and do interesting and different things with your thinking.
Start to listen to your intuition, the quiet wise voice inside. As you listen to her whisperings, then the louder fear filled voice of your mind becomes less relevant. Your intuition will guide you towards love, so hear her, abide by her, and recognize her power. Glide towards an internal dialect and narrative that comes from love.
Seek to Unite Rather Than to Divide.
I'm referring here to the little every day divides that stall our connection and understanding of one another. Perhaps because of experience, rumor and conjecture you have concluded that everyone south of the fourth lamppost on your street are the enemy. For untold corporate reasons all beings on the fourth floor of your building are uptight, stuffy, boring and work shy. Those of you who work in teams may find fractures occurring between tables, departments and segments of the office. Water coolers and coffee machines become places of sacred information, whilst the reality of the 'other' lies shrouded in mystery. This mystery is heightened through fear, competition and a refusal to pass some invisible barrier of difference.
Division in whatever form it comes is a mirror to the larger issues of society. We piss and moan about a desire for love and peace and yet we refuse to acknowledge our neighbors. Cultivating love in the face of terror must mean, in the first instance, that we stop feeling quite so terrified of those that we share the planet with day in and day out.
To actively promote worldwide harmony, we must begin with creating unity in our smaller environments. We must seek peace with those whom we walk amongst. We must deride the idea of difference and instead seek commonality. In doing so we should seek to circumnavigate the undertow that sucks us in to gossip, rumour, conjecture, bitchiness and judgment. We must reach out. Reaching our requires boldness. But there is nothing quite so bold as love, some might say. So be bold. Extend friendship and peace beyond the various invisible divides of your life, and keeps those walls down. Choose to respect and to act with loving purpose in all your interactions.
Yeah I know it's hard. Sometimes seemingly impossible. but sitting in a state of unforgiveness makes you bitter. It clouds your senses; it makes your world cold and intolerable. Yet you tolerate your state of unforgiveness as though it is a punishment against those who hurt you. They are not being punished, you are. You don't need to cosy up and be best buddies with your tormentors. But finding a way to forgive is powerful because it frees you. And when you are free from the pain that was caused to you, then you are open to start acting from a place of deeper love. It may not happen over night. It may take a lifetime depending on what it is you need to forgive. But it is a necessary goal if you are to cultivate a more harmonious, love-based life for you and those around you.
Violence is never OK
It's just not. Violence is always a reaction to fear. Even those who summon violence as a 'show of strength' are in fact working from a place of weakness, a place of fear, a need to bolster the ego through the physical subjugation of others.
Violence attributed by any one person, onto any other, to enforce their will, their opinion, their way, is a small terrorism. If you have a tendency to strike, to an inner uncontrollable growl, then you can start to take that in hand. Meditation is one way. Starting to understand yourself through books, introspection, a spiritual practice, a therapeutic practice are other ways. Starting to abate the dictator inside is a good first stop towards world peace. No seriously. And if world peace does not occur because you calmed and cooled, then perhaps, at least, your world will change. Your little, lovely world. And if your little world changes, then the world shifts, yes it does.
Play With Love
Usher it out at the drop of the hat. This does not mean making yourself feel daft by committing to declarations of undying fondness to all and sundry. What it means is expressing acts of love and kindness in all you do. Start with smiling. Smile at people you meet, people you pass on the street, even the ones who give you a dead eyed glare back.
Do favours. Be kind. Help others. Be polite. Listen, really listen to what others are saying. Be compassionate. Give of yourself. Expect nothing in return.
For every horror story you read or watch there are a thousand others. There are two, three, four sides to everything, probably more. There are a million people undertaking compassionate, loving acts that aren't being illustrated to you right now. There is possibly a reason you are being shown what you are being shown. This isn't a call to become a conspiracy believer. But it's a challenge to open your mind and heart to other stories, other truths, and other possibilities.
Sometimes the answer is not black and white but lies in empathy. Sometimes evil and good crash and collide and in the resultant mix, blessings, miracles, soul and spirit can be found. Enter those stories deeply, explore how you see the world, and open yourself to intrigue. Question everything that provokes a reaction of fear and panic. Question it and find the spirit, the love and the seeds of potential within.
Accept, Surrender and Be
Accept and surrender your life to precisely what it is. You are where you are. The world is doing what it's doing. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to accept it. Surrender to the truth of your situation. Choose not to angrily rail against it. Internalise your passion and let it simmer gently. You don't need to make a move. You need not try to blindly crawl forward to some kind of uncertain outcome. You can choose to be in the moment. There is no need to fight. Give yourself a moment, a day, a week, a month to simply be in your own shoes. In this time choose to make no judgment, to feel no anger.
Decide not to fume and vent against the world, the window cleaner, your boss or the kids. Just be. Be still. Allow life to arise around you, and if you invest yourself in anything, let it only be things that bring love to the surface of your heart and soul. Indulge this love and express it as feels right. Know that in this stillness answers will come. A happier place will find you. Love will make itself known and spring forth in ways unexpected. From here you become a conduit for something purer, a transformer of love, ready and open to making the changes in your life that will ripple and reflect out wider than you could ever hope.
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