All posts by Di Kamp

LOOKING FOR THE CHINKS OF LIGHT

We are living in tough times. There is far more bad news than good – one thing after another seems to pile on the agony, in the world, in our country, even in our own lives.

It is easy to feel despair, but that doesn’t help anything. We need to look for the chinks of light. And in the midst of all this, they do still shine through.

In the world, the West is still supporting Ukraine, which may be politically motivated, but is better than has been managed in the past, when countries under attack have not been helped in any significant way. And the problems with gas supply have pushed many countries to move more quickly on installing renewable energy, which will help our planet.

In this country, the government is doing some terrible things, but at least it has stepped in to help with the cost of living crisis. We may not agree with their method or their philosophy, but it will help people to have more of a chance of paying their bills.

And above all, individual people bring chinks of light into our lives, with their kindness and thoughtfulness, their sense of humour despite everything, their warmth and affection.

Let’s keep looking for these chinks of light, and giving them to others whenever we can. It’s what will bring us through

DISRUPTION AND DISTRACTION

I am in the midst of disruption in my personal life – having a new kitchen fitted! It has made me think about what disruption is. The word originally means something that breaks you away from your normal patterns and routines.

I am not good at dealing with disruption, and I don’t know anyone who is, but on reflection, I realise with hindsight that often a disruption in my everyday life has had some positive outcomes, breaking some of my less useful patterns and making me reconsider what really matters.

A good example of this would be the lockdowns during the pandemic, when all our lives were disrupted. At the time it was difficult for most people, but it certainly made us aware of how important our connections with others are, and of the simple things in life we can get pleasure from.

On the other hand, there is distraction. I have been using distractions to help me cope with the disruption. Distraction means originally something that pulls you away from whatever is going on.

I have done jigsaws, worked on the garden, watched movies, because they all take up my attention and give me space from my busy mind. So distractions can be very useful for alleviating the effects of disruption and it is worth having that list of what works for you.

And of course, they can also have a downside. Sometimes we use distractions to avoid things we know we need to confront or get on with.

At present I am using distractions to help, and I hope to find the positive outcomes – besides a new kitchen! – in the coming weeks. I also hope that I will remember the plus’s and minuses of disruption and distraction so that I use them well in the future.

What about you? How do you manage disruption and use distraction?

EUREKA MOMENTS

It’s one of those stories that we hear but don’t really register: when Archimedes realised, as he took a bath, the principle of buoyancy, and ran down the street yelling, ‘Eureka!’, which means ‘I’ve got it!’.

We may be impressed that a brilliant polymath discovered a major mathematical principle that way, but we don’t notice the important message about how our minds work that lies within it.

Going over a problem in our minds, using all our logical thinking, is often not the way to find a solution. Good as our logical mind can be at working out the detail of something, it is not particularly good at identifying the insight that will set us on the right path.

We all have eureka moments in our lives: times when we suddenly see how we can handle something, or solve a problem. And they usually occur when we’ve stopped thinking about it in an intense way and   are dong something else: going for a walk; having a shower; watching something unrelated on tv. It’s as if we need to switch off our thinking minds to allow our intuition or insight to come through.

So let’s use the process. If we’re puzzling over something, let’s distract ourselves for a while, with something that occupies our conscious mind in a different way, to allow some space for our innate wisdom to show itself. It is how our minds work. Many geniuses through the ages have used it. Let’s follow their example and make our lives easier by allowing space for eureka moments.

OUR ENERGY IMPACT

I was complaining about feeling old, and was given this phrase: ‘We are not our age, we are our energy.’ At first, I was not sure if I got it. After all, I know I have less physical energy than I did when I was younger, and I know that I do sometimes feel my age!

But then further conversation made me realise that this relates to the energy impact we have, on others and ourselves. This is our energetic field, an invisible aura of energy around us, generated by our overall state. It is not our physical energy levels, although that can have an effect on it.

You know how some people seem to carry negativity around with them, whilst others give off a ‘buzz’? And of course, there are variations: an aura of kindness or gentleness; an aura of humour or lightness; an aura of busyness; an aura of life being difficult – you get the idea… And we are all affected by others’ energetic fields – we feel them and react to them, even if we’re not conscious of it.

Once we do become conscious of having that energetic field, we can do things to affect it positively in the way we want it to be, regardless of whether we are feeling energetic or not.

  • We can make a change physically: stand up straight, dance, smile, go for a walk
  • We can make a change emotionally: think about things and people we love, enjoy
  • We can make a change actively: do something that lightens our mood

I know what energy impact I want to have on others, not because I’m a ‘good’ person, but because I’m selfish. If my energy impact is positive, I will usually get positive energy back. And that’s a bonus for my own energy bank, helping me to be my energy, not my age.

LETTING GO

My friend Rebecca sent me a copy of a poem by Safire Rose called ‘She Let Go’.

https://safire-rose.com/books-and-media/poetry/she-let-go . As I read it through I could feel the relief, the lightness of being that just letting go creates.

It is not easy to stop worrying something through. We go backwards and forwards in our minds, we may talk about it with others, we allow whatever it is to affect our behaviour, our mind. Yet at the same time, this poem reminded me that we can just let it go: say ‘Oh well,’ and let go.

It is easier to do with something in the past. After all, there’s nothing we can do about it now, so revisiting it in our mind changes nothing except our own mood and behaviour.

Letting go of something that’s in our present reality, or that we are predicting in our future is harder. Yet if we think about it with a form of logic, it becomes easier,

If it’s in our present reality, then it’s here, so the best thing to do is accept it, and decide what we can do about it, or at least how we can alleviate the situation. Wishing it away just doesn’t work!

If it’s future and certain, we can plan what we will do to handle it. If it’s not certain, we need to recognise that we don’t know if it will turn into reality, and that worrying about it now may be an unnecessary weight.

It rarely helps us to sort something out when we worry at it like a dog with a bone, and we all have evidence of that truth!

From now on, I’m going to see if I can emulate the ‘she’ in the poem: ‘She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go… It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.. In the space of letting go, she let it all be’.

BEHAVING WITH DIGNITY

In this country, we have just had an example of someone behaving without any dignity at all – our soon-to-be ex-prime minister if you haven’t guessed who I mean! His resignation speech was boastful, full of blame on other people, defiant and without an ounce of recognition for what had brought him to this place in his ‘reign’.

It made me think about what behaving with dignity really means, because it sounds rather worthy and proper, and those are adjectives I tend not to apply, certainly to myself! And I reckon dignity is a quality that is appropriate in certain situations, rather than a quality that we demonstrate all the time. (This may be true of all possible qualities).

So when do we behave with dignity? Certainly in defeat. If we have lost the argument, it is time to admit it, and allow the other person their victory without recrimination. It also applies when we are conducting that argument: we can make our case strongly, but it is undignified to cast aspersions on the other person’s personality, and personalise the argument. Dignity is a form of acceptance of how things are, whether you believe they are right or wrong.

Dignity is also about not being shamed or shaming others. That is why we talk about allowing people to die with dignity. It is making sure that others don’t feel bad about themselves.

I think there is one more aspect to dignity. It is about behaving appropriately when the circumstances are solemn, serious, important. No-one in a court setting wants someone to stand up and say, ‘Well this is a laugh isn’t it!’

Now I am not a person who would be described by others as dignified, but I do hope that when the circumstances demand it, I do behave with dignity. Please let me know if I fail!!

WHOSE APPROVAL DO YOU SEEK?

I saw an interview with Whoopi Goldberg, where she was asked this question. She replied without hesitation, ‘Only my own.’ It made me think about how much approval from others can shape how we behave.

It starts when we are little. We seek approval from our parents because that is a good way of making sure they look after us when we need that care. If they approve of our behaviour we are praised for being a good boy or girl, rather than scolded. And that can be a massive hangover in our adult life, where we mirror that behaviour without even being aware of it. Even now, on the day my cleaners have been, I often say, ‘ Look Mummy – my house is clean and tidy like yours always was.’ (The rest of the time of course it’s pretty chaotic – I didn’t exactly adopt the habit!)

Then there are teachers who give us better reports if we behave well. And peer groups who let us be part of the gang if we follow their norms – and these two influences can be quite contradictory!

As we begin to grow up, we do tend to establish our own norms and values, but we often still seek approval, from partners, friends, family, and those we admire.

It is hard to separate out what our true own values are, and which we just try to match for the sake of approval from others.

I do believe I could answer the question as Whoopi Goldberg did, although I had to think it through first! I enjoy and appreciate it when I do get approval from others I love and admire, but it doesn’t drive my behaviour – it’s an added bonus rather than something I aim for.

What about you? Whose approval do you seek?

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

I watched a documentary on Bruce Springsteen a few days ago, and he said something that really made me think. He was talking about his life and he said that when he was first rich and famous, he had unlimited choices, but it didn’t bring happiness or contentment.

Then as he grew older, and perhaps wiser, he realised that unlimited choice isn’t freedom. Freedom of choice is being clear about your values and being able to choose in line with them.

It was the reminder that being able to buy anything, go anywhere, do anything you fancy, is not the answer to our innate deist=re to feel good about life. Acting in accord with our values feels so much better.

And that requires that we are clear about what really matters to us. We have to sort out what those values are, and do everything we can to live by them. (One of the effects of the lockdowns during the pandemic was to make us realise how much we need connection with others for example).

This isn’t an easy thing to do: we are influenced by upbringing, education, culture, the media, those close to us; and those influences can obfuscate our own values. We need to sit down and explore what really matters to us.

One way we can do that is to begin to notice the difference between the temporary pleasures that quickly wear off, such as the latest i-phone, getting one over on someone else, and expensive meal in a posh restaurant. Then there are the things that continue to make us feel good: being a good friend to someone, that sweater that is old but you love it, being kind rather than right.

We all make choices sometimes that don’t feed our soul, but let’s see how much more often we can make the choices that build our own freedom.

THINKING IS OVER-RATED

I listened to a talk by a man called Rupert Shira a little while ago – a recommendation from a friend. He was talking about the difference between focussed seeing and what he calls seeing awareness, and it really struck home.

In this talk, he also described thinking as a form of focussed seeing, where we are pulled this way and that by our thoughts. Most of the time, we are following our thoughts about something and getting distracted from the essence of our experience by the thoughts.

As he said: ‘No-one says to themselves, I wish I could think more”’. We wish we could be happier, more at peace – the opposite of what our thinking does for us most of the time.

Of course, there are moments when a thought comes to us that is inspired – how to sort something, how to begin to tackle something, what something is really about. We call these thoughts inspired, or an epiphany, because they come out of the blue and resolve something for us, or make us feel as if we are moving forward.

And if you notice, they are not the result of a serious thinking through – they come when we’re relaxed, feeling calm, just being. Our serious thinking through may sometimes lead to a logical conclusion, but it doesn’t encompass the holistic needs we have for a really good resolution for us at the time.

I want a happy and fulfilling life, and thinking is definitely over-rated in terms of helping to achieve that. So let’s think less, not more, and let’s find the quiet places in us that allow inspiration to come to us.

THE JOYS OF BEING ALONE

It is a vital part of our lives to be in relationship with others – we need that connection with friends and family, and even strangers. And at the same time, we all need some time on our own, when we can just relate to ourselves and our own needs and feelings.

I love having people drop by to spend time with me, and I also really enjoy having days to myself, where I don’t need to consider anyone else’s needs and can just be however I am. Often, people fill that time on their own, so as not to feel lonely: going shopping, doing household chores, making phone calls, and generally keeping busy. I recognise this – I used to do the same.

But now I find that being alone is different from being lonely, and I think it is important to take advantage of ‘me time’ and celebrate the joys of being alone. It’s an opportunity to gather yourself, listen to yourself, and follow how you feel instead of how you ought to be.

You can eat and drink what you want, when you want. You can stop halfway through doing something and decide that’s enough for today. You can choose to make it a good day, whatever that means to you at the time, without having to explain or justify to anyone else. You can do little or a lot, depending on your mood, not the circumstances.

And you can relax for a little while into being however you are, giving yourself permission to move away from the drives of convention and habit.

So make sure you get some time every week where you’re on your own, and make it ‘me time’, not ‘catch-up time’. It’s good for your soul.