Apologies to The Police for using one of their song titles for this item, but it seemed apposite somehow. Regular readers will know that 2015 has been a year of big changes for me, and one area which I’ve not really touched on is the spiritual one. Before you pass the rest of this article by, I’m not going to get all religious on you, spouting off about some great being looking down on us and handing down lessons which may or may not have been true. (And, by the way, if that’s what you choose to believe in, I’m cool with that. Each to their own and all that, but it’s not for me.)
What I really wanted to say was that as part of all the changes in my life, I’ve opened my mind to more things and, rather than let my rational, engineering, mind take precedence, I’ve allowed myself to not require absolute proof that something exists, but am taking the opposite view, in that the absence of proof that something doesn’t exist is more healthy for me.
For example, someone I’ve met in the last few months started talking to me about their spirit guide and the fact that they were in touch with several “people” who have died and their spirits were still hanging around. After a minute or two, they asked if I believed in such things: it was more or less at that point that I had an epiphany, and realised that I didn’t necessarily believe in them, but I didn’t disbelieve either. I actually thought to myself that there’s been no concrete evidence either way, so who knows for sure which is right? And it also occurred to me that if my new friend believed in such things, and isn’t harming themselves or anyone else, who am I to tell them they’re wrong? Live and let live, right?
I’ve also spent a fair bit of time looking deep into what I want out of life, and what makes me really happy. Like many people I think, my mind is always on the go, hopping from one topic to another and never really at rest or still. That kind of reflects what my life was like too, always rushing from one place to another, hectic at work, too much to do at home, with no time to stop and think.
The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that I said that was what my life WAS like. It’s not totally changed, but there’s definitely been a big shift in my mental balance, and I believe it’s helping me. It’s been quite a simple change, but has helped immeasurably.
In my previous life ie before all these changes, I used to go hill walking. In those days I’d try to make a point of seeing something new, of hearing or smelling something I’d not come across before. I had to buy books on plants and wildlife, and really pay attention to what was around me, in order to achieve that aim. But do you know what? That did the trick for me. I could be out for 4 or 5 hours and not know what I’d been thinking of. I’d have a clear mind and relaxed body, and it felt good for my soul, for my spirit.
Rather than go out walking (which I plan to get back into) I’ve found the same calm and invigoration in just sitting and observing the natural and man-made world around me. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to visit a number of Buddhist monasteries here in the UK, and at each one have had a different experience but with similar outcomes. Sitting on a bench in a courtyard, or in a garden, or walking among the trees, I’ve practiced the same technique of trying just to let what I see, smell and feel wash over me, trying to experience something new.
I’ve taken part in a meditation workshop: who’d have thought that sitting cross-legged (which is very unnatural for me as I’m tall and not very lithe) for nearly two hours, with the pain and near cramp that brought, would actually leave me feeling calm, refreshed and revitalised? It may have been because there were lots of people there who had never been before, it may have been that the nun leading the session had an infectious giggle and talked us through things so well, or maybe it was the fact that we just sat, and didn’t have anywhere else to be, didn’t have to talk to anyone, didn’t have to be reading something, didn’t have to be watching TV, didn’t have to be tethered to a computer or smartphone: we didn’t have to do anything other than just sit and be.
So I don’t think there’s any big secret to healing or renewing your spirit. I think you just need to give yourself permission to do nothing, without any real distractions, Allow yourself to do that for 5 minutes, for 30 minutes, for an hour or two – whatever you can spare. Our spirits don’t need this material world, and nor do our physical beings.