4 Ways to Relieve the Lockdown Blues

4 Ways to Relieve the Lockdown Blues

“As within, so without; as without, so within” A timeless Hermetic principle that means something completely new in light of COVID-19 and forced lockdowns that keep you inside and gathering with others less. 

It’s like a big mirror constructed in front of you that won’t go away. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of your inner world reflected in your outer reality: the quality and cleanliness of your space, the frequency of your social outreach, the types of food you eat and the content you ‘consume.’ 

So when you can no longer escape the clear and obvious reminders of who you really are by leaving your home space daily for work or errands, you’ll probably experience that uncomfortable realization that you’re not who you thought you were. Evidence of your subconscious becomes splattered around your home. And the pressure to do something different increases.

Before long, all the things you’ve been trying to avoid are now staring you in the face…and you have a choice. Do you accept them as they are, or do you change them?

This has been hard, because when you spend most of your day avoiding what it means to be human, who you really are after all the masks and lies of your personality, you can get uncomfortable pretty quickly. The prospect of having to look at and change multiple ingrained habits or personality quirks that you don’t like all at once is overwhelming. 

(As an aside, sometimes we spend a whole year focusing on just one aspect of our personality in the Kabbalah Ascension program through the Modern Mystery School.)

So here are a few reminders just in case you find yourself in the middle of the second COVID-19 wave with no relief in sight:

    1. Be Gentle With Yourself: remember that your negative self-talk is just that, negative. And who needs more negativity in their life right now? Throw that negativity out and write out 5 positive things about yourself. This practice seems cheesy but I promise you there is ample scientific research to back it up. Go ahead, I bet you can’t do it in under a minute.
    2. Weekly Check-in’s: Ha! You did it in under a minute didn’t you. Reverse psychology works…now back to weekly check-in’s. Schedule weekly check-in’s with a few friends and keep your commitment. Sure, there may be days when you don’t feel like it or it’s just a bad time. Still check-in, whether that means sending a text or rescheduling, but don’t let yourself off the hook altogether here, the point is to express yourself rather than keep it all inside until it boils and explodes somewhere creating a mess. We’ve all done that, so why not try something different?
    3. Exercise: Lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house. Get up, walk around, do some push-ups…the increased blood flow will do your body good, not to mention detoxifying and rejuvenating your body. This will boost your mood, guaranteed. So just find the best way that you like to move and get your heartbeat up, OK?
    4. Breathe: Most people don’t actually breathe, so when all else fails, remember to take a deep breath into the diaphragm and even hold it for a few seconds to let that good ole’ oxygen penetrate your lungs. If you did that, congrats, you just meditated (again, reverse psychology right?)! Now just do that for 10 more breathes, deep ones. Take your time. You’ll feel better immediately after and will have more mental clarity with which to encounter what’s next. And who knows what that’ll be…it’s 2020 after all, so be prepared with a full breathe. With the election in a few days, we’re all going to need it…

 

 

Lie: If it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

Lie: If it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

Have you ever thought: If it’s meant to happen, it will happen? I hear this all the time related to the New Age movement. Do you think this is true?

One of the things I hate about these kinds of statements is how general they are. We need to be more specific to avoid confusion and empower ourselves rather than stall trying to figure out what serves our highest and best good. 

So, I can go a few different ways here in my commentary, but let’s examine how this thought has led people astray of their path and connection with the Divine.

Why ‘Meant to Happen’ is a Lie

“What’s meant to happen, will happen” implies that everything that’s happened was meant to.

So we’re saying that war, genocide, child soldiers made to kill their parents and then eat them— all these terrible things happening in the world today were MEANT to happen? What kind of sick and deranged thinking is that?

I’ve got news for you. This mess was not MEANT to happen. These atrocities are happening because we are letting them happen, but not because they were MEANT to happen.

What was MEANT to happen is God’s divine plan on Earth: Shamballah. In other words,, heaven on Earth. A worldwide community of caring, compassionate people resolving world issues, like hunger, war, disease with powerful tools based on Love, not on fear.

By cutting ourselves off from Spirit, we maintain the illusion that we are separate, powerless, victims of the current world. We increase fear when we say no to Love.

“What’s meant to happen, will happen” is based on fear of your greatness. Fear that you’re actually much bigger, smarter, and capable than the problems the world faces. Fear that you CAN make a difference with your thoughts, words, and actions. What would happen if you did? What would that mean for you and your life?

Here’s a revolutionary idea for you: you’re not separate, powerless or a victim. In fact, you have access to the most powerful force in the universe: the force of Love.

Why Love Connects Us

Honestly, it kind of feels weird to have to write about this, but there is some confusion about what Love is too which relates to this issue. 

Love is a force, not a feeling. Love is the great connecting force of the universe. It is an energy that pervades all things. It’s a tool that we use to connect ourselves with the universe and each other. 

You can love someone close or far away, and that act will impact them whether they feel it or not. The HeartMath Institute has done a lot of research on the nonlocal effects of the human heart field.

When we operate out of fear, we are not operating out of love. In a sense, they are mutually exclusive. Fear shuts off important parts of our brain that are necessary for love. One model to look at is the sympathetic versus parasympathetic nervous system. When activated, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) literally pulls blood (life force) from your brain and into your ears, arms, and legs (think flight or fight response). The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), however, does the opposite of the SNS at the same speed. When the PNS is activated, it creates a better state for your body to operate cognitively and emotionally.

Basically, we get worn down living in a world where our SNS is constantly activated, and then there’s no energy left to make a difference. By creating the conditions that calm our systems, activating the PNS through meditation and ritual tools in our lineage, we literally design how we want our energetic body to occur. We move from victim to creator. This makes available the four experiences that contribute to building closer, more productive and resonant relationships: hope, mindfulness, compassion, and playfulness.1

The Way Out of Confusion

In conclusion, there’s a way out of this mess, and it doesn’t look like trolling haters on Facebook. That’s kinda like fighting fire with fire. The way out is to learn traditional techniques for how to be fully human aka consciousness expansion tools, like those offered in the lineage of King Saloman

YOU are the key to our future. What you think and do DOES matter. And you can leverage your actions more by increasing your power over yourself through self-understanding and enlightenment. Know Thyself is the ancient mystery school axiom.

By reconnecting with our inner divinity, we will change the world—one human at a time.

1. See research by Richard Boyatzis et al presented in his e-course “Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence”: https://class.coursera.org/lead-ei-001/class/index.
Discover your Inner Will Power to Live by Your Values

Discover your Inner Will Power to Live by Your Values

In every moment, we have the chance to feel fully into our present moment, or choose the next thought which our mind has thrown at us to keep us distracted. At what point do you, the consciousness, get in front of the mind-thought chatter that occupies your head minute by minute? Is there an access or an opening? At what point do we choose our thoughts?

The will is your ability, or a measure of your ability, to direct your thoughts. The will to do things not because they make sense (everyone’s rationale is different), but because you ‘will’ yourself to think the thought.

This is the fundamental reason behind why we do rituals. In rituals, even if we’re reading it out of a book, we’ve designed the thought pattern that we’re choosing to engage in. Every moment you’re in ritual is a moment you are unplugged from the collective consciousness/ego trap that has your mind running in a million directions.

The best time to meditate is when you have so many things going on, you don’t know where to start. That’s when you know you’ve fallen so deep into your ego/thought trap that it’ll take a huge crane to lift you back out. And who’s got time for that?

When you make time, despite the pressures of the world eroding your time for self-care, creative expression, fun connecting with community, and meditation you have done high magic! Creating your life because you say so, doing things because you say so is your will at work.

Succumbing to the pressures of the world with no compromise for your values of health, wealth and ecstatic joy (or whatever your values are) means you are just sitting like a passenger waiting for life to go by. A compromise looks like making sure you still have time before the end of your day for meditation, even if you miss your time to sit in the morning. Using your will means making tough choices that are oftentimes not socially popular in order to fill your life with the experiences that enliven YOU rather than please OTHERS.

This is your life. Will to live it!

When Your Meditation Isn’t So Meditative.

When Your Meditation Isn’t So Meditative.

My meditation practice has not been peaceful the last few weeks. What’s more is that I’ve been rather lazy in approaching how best to deal with it. It’s almost like I’m stuck in observation mode, just watching myself wallow without jumping in with a strategy or plan.

What’s great about that is for once, I’m not jumping in with a strategy or a plan! However, I do want my meditation practice to return to a time of peace and deep relaxation. So join me as we go back to the basics and improve your meditation practice with me!

Meditation Basics

There are times when the going is good. It may still be a struggle to find the time to sit down however, once you do, you can feel yourself relaxing into the peace of doing nothing. Relieving yourself of the stressors of life, if even temporarily, is worth the sore butt from sitting too long!

Then there are the times when your meditation is not working out as planned. Try as you might to wrangle the mind, it refuses to be constrained. You just can’t find the right position, cushion, background music or back support. Or worse, your body is comfortable and your mind won’t sit still!

One of the keys I offer to you is this: meditation, like emotions, have phases. You can expect the beginning phase of your meditation to be unpredictable. Sometimes it will be turbulent, and sometimes calm. Sometimes you will glide into your meditation easily, and other times, it’ll be like herding cats in your mind. This is why I highly recommend you do your breathing practices first. Once you master your breathing practice, the subsequent phases of your meditation will flow through easily and predictably.

The Key is in your Breath

Controlling your breath, or intentionally altering your breathing pattern is work you can do on the physical system that directly impacts your mind. Bringing your attention to your body and addressing what’s going on in the body is the first step to any successful meditation practice.

That’s why meditation teachers will often instruct you to return to your breath if your mind has taken over. Your mind will follow your breath, so when your meditation practice seems to be giving you diminishing returns, turn it into a breathing practice until the calm mind state you are looking for returns. And it will return. Your mind will follow your breath.

So breathe easy knowing that the solution to our turbulent meditation practice is right under your nose.If you want help, join us for a complimentary Tools for Awakening series meditation which happen regularly. Just check out the calendar to see when the next one is upcoming.

 

Matthew Koren founded Spirit in Transition in 2015, a business consulting firm specializing in building high-performance learning organizations, teams and individuals.

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: A Commentary on Moderation

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: A Commentary on Moderation

So I’m at the bakery case and know I want to cut down on the carbs. But everything looks so good, AND it’s gluten-free. The attendant looks at me expectantly and the pressure is on. What’s a guy to do? “I’ll just have an iced tea,” I say, not wanting to hold up the growing queue behind me.

I always laugh at my observing self in these situations, agonizing over the plethora of choices this American lifestyle affords me. By what measure am I making these decisions, and how conscious am I really?

The Tibetan Buddhists believe there will always be suffering in this world of samsara, that for every degree of joy and wonder and hope, there’s also the equivalent in anger and anguish and despair. To me, there is a deeper teaching here which I won’t really get into in this post, but it does seem to point to a more commonplace principle—everything in moderation.

I can see the good intentions behind this phrase. How can I know sadness if I haven’t actually experienced joy? If there is loss and anguish around me all the time, does that make it easier to feel joy around the small respites in life? If I didn’t want so much, maybe I wouldn’t suffer over my choices, and would be happier with what I have.

You gotta watch Buddhist philosophy–it really makes you think!

The history of Buddhism spans the 6th century BC to the present, starting with the birth of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini, Nepal. This makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. How could I argue with a 2,500 year old tradition?

Yet, we hear a different story from a similarly influential tradition: the Islamic, mystical tradition of the Sufis. Why was Rumi so happy-go-lucky in his writing? He is much more emotional in how he presents his spirituality.

A mystic from the 13th century, Rumi’s writings inspired us to focus on direct union with God, through love alone and no intermediaries. His philosophy inspired the famous Order of the Whirling Dervishes to commune with God through music and joyful, meditative dance. It’s important to note that Rumi was not seen as a prophet in the Islamic faith, although his writings were treated with the same honor as scripture in other traditions.

Despite his almost Tantric philosophy of becoming deeply present to adore the divine in every moment, inflaming ourselves with prayer and devotion of God, Rumi is also quoted as writing “Having suffered a blow, I shall know a caress.”

To me this sounds like it draws from the Buddhist principle mentioned earlier, but given the context of his writings, it seems like he is coming to a very different conclusion. My interpretation is you learn how an experience feels good when compared to a painful experience, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out joy.

Assuming both approaches have merit, how can they leave us with such different feelings about the nature of our spiritual journey? Are they just two sides of the same coin?

At risk of taking teachings from these two traditions out of context, I’ll ask the question: can’t we just have joy?

What do you think?