Monday, May 22, 2017

The Subtleties of Addiction ... and a note about Adversity and Trauma

Balance and Control

When we reflect on addictions and how they affect us in our lives, it is useful to use the images of balance and control.

I like to remind people that the use of the word 'control' here is not to be interpreted as control over anything but the various energies moving within our own self... even then, the word 'directing' is likely a less perceptually loaded one!

Today's blog, as a result of some really great questions from some of you, will look at this in greater detail.

'Control' has taken a real beating in our language ... most of the time, when we hear this word, we imagine things like controlling others or attempting to control everything around us.  However, to place our energies into either of these things is a waste of our own opportunities for growth ... we often find it is futile to focus so much on these external things as compared to working from within our own self.

'Control' in the realm of addiction is also a myth.  People attempt to control their addictions when they begin to realize that they are, in fact, addicted... only to eventually (hopefully) come to see that this is not possible.   Lack of true inner conscious choice and control is at the root of what an addiction is all about... and when we realize this, it is a great place to begin to understand our inner motivations, conditioning and deeply rooted addiction patterns... as well as our many behaviours that go along with these things.

I like to look at the lighter side of the word 'control'. For example, we are often told to 'control' ourselves.  If we feel angry, for example, and feel the inner urge to call someone an insulting name but consciously choose not to... we could say that we are controlling the inner urge to do that.  In this way, we can see that 'control' is not used here in its 'darker' sense. 

If we have the awareness of our inner urges and 'direct' them into other healthier forms of expression (consciously), then we are learning to 'control our selves'... I like to say that we are then learning to 'direct the various aspects and energies within our self'.  'Consciously' is the word here.  Many of us are conditioned to behave in 'nice' or 'socially acceptable' ways.... however, when the pressure builds we often find that this leads to an outburst or a quiet rebellion of some sort (for quiet people this is often some sort of unconscious passive aggressive behaviour)... addiction is not far behind this.  So in this case, there is no true 'control' or 'direction of inner energy' because all behaviours are unconscious, conditioned and pretty predictable when you get to know the person well enough.

Recall, as well, that I have stressed the point about the myriad forms of addictions in our world today (see list below for potential forms of addictions).

It is useful to consider how to define addiction.  Here is one way: 

Any activity or behaviour which removes one from the 'Reality' in the here and now and the ability to confront and engage with that 'Reality' in accordance to one's own true nature. 

One's life becomes 'unmanageable' in an extreme case of addiction ... which is usually the form we are most familiar with.  Addictions do not always lead to this severity and yet can still be an addiction.

An addiction leads one to suffer, eventually, in some way and/or can potentially (and usually does) contribute to the suffering of others around them.  Many times this is due to the fact that the person is simply 'not available' to their significant others when they are, in fact, involved with them in everyday life.   For example, an addict may not be 'present' emotionally or mentally around others in their significant relationships - this is especially vital in situations where people rely on them for support, household contributions (doing their part in various ways), and nurturing (energy exchange and intimacy are two examples here).  Children, family members and spouses are often the most affected by addictive behaviours and patterns.

An addiction prevents one from being 'fully present' with whatever is before one... it is usually the first thing an individual turns to when adversity is present... and family patterns, trauma and/or stress and adversity are usually at the root of how an addiction pattern is initially started.

Potential forms of addiction:

Various food groups ... meat, carbs, sugar etc.

Drugs... esp. prescription drugs these days... a very sad reality


Tech .. excessive use of tech...gaming etc.

Relationships and groups (here including various religious, spiritual or even political belief systems etc. when they are warped) ..... and the various unhealthy patterns within them (ex. Co-dependency in families and relationships .. or even groups). 

Sex ... and any related things to this when out of balance and harmony.

Sports and addictions to 'working out' ... due to this socially acceptable potential addiction it is useful to return to the above definition.  There are many athletes and active people who would not fit this category... it can becomes an addiction when the criteria above are met.  These individuals use working out as an escape from delving into feeling what they are feeling... they tend to have a 'hard shell' around them and feel very little...with very rigid belief systems to back up their behaviour.  This is not to be confused with individuals who work out or engage in activities/behaviours for healthier reasons and are surrounded by unconscious, ill and negative people who do not support their growth and development...or their own.

Various behavioural patterns can also become addictions.  For example, avoidance patterns, anger, distancing, lack of intimacy etc.  In these examples, an individual is 'not available' when their addiction is triggered, they are simply 'not there' even when 'physically' they show up all the time.

Note:  There are many things which others may consider an addiction and which may NOT be one.  We have to be careful when judging or making an assumption about someone and what he/she may be doing.  Unless we can gather all the information and understand the 'story' and know the bigger picture, we may either dismiss a true addiction pattern or assume that one is there when it may not.  

Like the old saying goes: 'Unless you have walked 1,000 miles in someone's moccasins, you know them not'.  This is a great way to remind ourselves about judgment and assumptions when it comes to others... and ourselves.

Adversity and Trauma

I wanted to make a note about adversity in our lives.  There were a few questions around adversity and addiction.  You were RIGHT!  Adversity and addiction are definitely related in various ways.  Trauma and addiction... even more so.

Stress is a common factor in this fast-paced, techy world we live in.  Stress has been present in our lives throughout history... in different ways according to the times... it is the same with trauma and adversity.  We have not seen times where any of these things were not present in one form or another. 

'Trauma' is a word we have been hearing a lot about lately.  We are looking more deeply into personal trauma and how it affects our lives and so it shows up everywhere these days.  We experience various traumas in our lives... on multiple levels... but most particularly in our families of origin.  We also experience adversity in many different ways in our lives.  We gain and lose relationships.  We change jobs and have various educational concerns.  Many feel the stress of attempting to stay current in a world full of fast-paced changes and newness. Illness, traumas, death, cancer, inheritance issues ... political, financial and housing situations... I have heard it all.  Within these situations, an individual is faced with various forms of adversity. 

Here comes the words for today's blog ... balance and control... When we are not battling with addictions, we tend to find it easier to access or to feel this inner place of power (we are empowered) to cope with adversity in life.  We feel the balance and control we have over our own inner moving energies and aspects of our self and are able to either bring forward the needed inner skills and resources to cope with adversity or seek out assistance in order to do so.  We may feel tired, sad, overwhelmed, angry or even defeated in various moments; however, these feelings are acknowledged and faced as we continue to move forward.  These feelings are not something we get stuck in for long periods of time... or deny... or repress... they are felt and 'worked with'.  On the other side, when we are addicted ... stress, adversity and other challenges we encounter along our many journeys in life trigger us into addictive patterns.  The feelings which are present within us are often denied, repressed, suppressed or wallowed in for long periods of time like a negative feedback loop.

Addiction, adversity, trauma, stress and the many ways in which we can cope with these things... this blog topic is soooo enormous it could be a book in itself.  There ARE books on this!  You can either seek out some great reading material on this to further your understanding or to have a support resource ... and/or seek out the counsel you may realize could benefit you in moving forward in your life when addiction or coping with adversity is something you can see is creating chaos and havoc in your life.

Blessings, light and love along your journey...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Souhl Center's Private Training and the Spiritual Arts of Kung fu, Chi Kung and Yoga

Happy Spring everyone!  As you all know by now, it is time to cleanse.  I hope you have already begun to do so, but in case you have not, you can begin now.  Your liver will be so happy as it regenerates and cleanses!
Soon our fruit trees in Ontario will blossom...what a beautiful sight!  Get out for some hiking, painting or photography.  Smell the fresh air ...visit the water ...
Update on book project: it's in the design phase at the publisher!  I know you have waited a long time but I did warn you that there have been other things on my priority list.  Thanks so much for all your interest and for hanging in there waiting for it to come out.  I am in no rush so I don't have a release date yet.  There will be another book after this one with a different focus...I have already been collecting my notes, ideas and thoughts for it for some time.
Blogging commitment...  I have decided to write once a month here in this blog until January 2018, so come back frequently and remember that there is so much material already on here... we all know how we tend to forget to apply things.  We read, say 'oh yeah,' and then we move on. Remind yourself of things by re-reading various topics and see how much you can apply directly to your life.  That's when the real magic is seen.

If you are considering private training here (or future classes/training), or want more info on how we differ in what we do here, this topic today is for you...  Stay tuned for our new location coming in 2018.

In all the sessions we do, private or group, we are working to free the flows of energy in the body... we are freeing our selves.   We Work on all aspects of our being and move into the areas that are challenging for us - whether it's mental/emotional, spiritual or physical.  Generally speaking, we are conditioned to move away from what is uncomfortable for us... physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually.  This creates many splits within us ... we cut off vast amounts of our experiences in reality and all this avoidance leads us away from who and what we really are... not towards it.  We do the opposite!

Many people train in various Arts, work out, go to the gym, lead active lifestyles etc.  What is the difference between that and the Work we do here?   In many gyms, the focus is on the 'external only'.  Most of them, depending on what is going on in the particular gym,  pull people even more outside of themselves.  What do I mean by this?  

As one example,  look at the modern day gym ... there are T.V. screens set up for people to watch as they are working out, and sometimes there is a lot of conversation between people as they are moving their bodies.   This splits the body from the mind, rather than bring these things together with the spirit ... and moving as a 'whole'.

We Work to unite body, mind and spirit.  Distractions are minimized ... our attention is drawn inward ...  leading to different results.  These results will depend on the individual's level of being, and magnifies with consistent Work (done in a certain way) over time.  While we do use explanations, discuss philosophy and healing principles, and learn a great deal, we also spend time moving inwards quietly... which increases over time as one moves deeper into the Arts taught here.  That, being so very key, is also so very 'individual' ... in so many ways.   As many of you already know, I encourage people to set up a training routine on their own...

Going to a gym or training in a mainstream school and working externally can have some benefits physically, mentally/emotionally and so on ... it is certainly better than sitting most of the day.  What does this do for us overall as a human being?  It depends what we desire.  What is it you desire when you are seeking out a school or place to 'train'?

There are so many different types of training and moving Arts out there these days.  While these offer many benefits for the individual, we must use wisdom and discrimination in choosing what we wish to study and devote our life energy into.  If we want to work on ourselves and improve our energy levels and physical appearance and general mental/emotional stress, there are many things we can engage in which will certainly assist us with these things.  When we wish to study an ancient system and delve into its spiritual richness ...  now we are talking about something else entirely.   This is what was originally meant by body, mind/emotion and spirit balance... there are keys to this.

Many martial arts schools, yoga studios and other arts are available today for the public to choose from.    There is, due to a dilution factor, fewer schools which engage one in a way which will bring one deeply into traditional internal training or Spiritual Work.  This is not to say that they hold no value ... one must simply be clear and aware about what one is really doing and what one desires to attain.  You are free to decide that for yourself... decide what you desire to attain and seek that out...

At Souhl Center, in your private training sessions, we Work deeply, set up your sessions according to your own level, and offer you the foundation tools with which you can continue to progress for the duration of your personal/spiritual journey.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall Cleanse ... Energy Levels .... Walking the 'Way" or 'Path'

As the sun rises and sets during this fall season, the amount of light we experience during the day begins to diminish.  The leaves turn vibrant colours and will begin to fall soon.

As we experience changes in the seasons (which is obviously different depending on where we live in the world), we also can reflect on the inner shifts and changes in our lives during these specific times.

We reap the benefits of all we have harvested and it is a wonderful time to cleanse our system again to prepare for the winter months when many people tend to crave heavier foods; sometimes slow down more or experience energy shifts due to busy schedules and little "down time" ... or time for themselves... I'll talk more about our changing 'physical energy levels' at the end of this entry.

Some people spend less time outdoors in the winter, and we do all experience less light.   Many factors can affect our energy levels when we don't do anything to balance out. 

Many people tell me that their schedules get busier - or feel busier and heavier in the fall and winter.  In many ways we do not ebb and flow with the natural rhythms around us.  If you do notice lowering shifts in your energy levels over the fall and into the winter, there are things you can do:

1.     Spend more time outdoors this fall - when the weather permits, get out and enjoy the fresh air, changing scents and vibrant colours.  BREATHE

When you can, go barefoot on the earth for awhile to enjoy the grounding and clearing effects before it's too cold.  There are many benefits to doing this.  We have had a very hot, dry and humid summer here; if the fall brings cooler yet calm weather, getting outside will refresh you.  

2.    Fall is also a good time to boost your movement practices.  Movement and breathwork will  assist you in clearing out your entire system and give your immune system a boost ... remember that to allow these benefits to work, your emotional/mental state is also vital.  Check in with yourself and ask:

What have I harvested in my inner and outer world this year as a result of all my thoughts, words, and actions?

Where might I place my attention and energy in my life now in order to cultivate a richer 'harvest' next year?

What's working well for me right now?

What isn't working so well for me in my life right now?  Name some steps you can take to address this area.


3.   Eat food which will contribute to cleansing your system.... many local organic farmers will still be providing fresh greens and veggies into the late fall and early winter at your local market.
4.   Make changes in your schedule when you can ... as the light diminishes and winter sets in, rest a bit more in order not to exhaust your inner resources.  Even the animals shift their activities when there is less light - they rest more.  
5.   Include energy-building activities into your life ... if you already do, continue them.  Movement Arts with breathwork are great for energy-building.  Avoid stressful situations by learning how to engage in less dramatic and more calm and focussed ways. Energy-building is an Art in itself.
A little more about energy gains and losses and the seasons:
So what do our energy levels and the seasons have in common?  Why do some people have 'more energy' than others during various times of the year?  
Energy (general physical and mental/emotional) levels depend on many things.  We have to consider our lifestyles, relationships, drama patterns, health and energy blockages, our personal perspectives, food and drink, local environmental factors, household and work environments, personal 'types and constitutions' etc..
Soooo....  in the spring, for example, with no other factors considered, someone may feel a general surge in energy.    Many people do ... for various reasons ... perhaps they are happy to know spring will bring more light, colour, outdoor time and better weather; perhaps they personally enjoy spring more than winter.   It is easier to work outdoors in more moderate weather too.   If they overdo it and expend more energy in the spring than they are building up, they may find themselves going into a 'summer exhaustion.'   With no other factors considered (which one ought to consider as well - in order to be more thorough), one could say that they have exhausted energy supplies by 'overdoing' and not 'refilling' and remaining more balanced.
This is the same now... in the early fall (particularly after a very hot, dry and humid summer).  Many people report a surge in energy in the early fall.  Refreshed by cooler breezes, more moderate temperatures and the lovely colours and scents, they may engage in a real increase in activity.   If they 'over-do' they may find that they get more flus that winter and may go into a 'winter exhaustion.'
So, once again, our friend BALANCE comes up.  When we balance activity ... physical ... mental/emotional etc. with rest and regenerative activities, our 'batteries' will remain charged and we will have the inner resources we need to go through the extremes we often find in the winter .... cold, wind, ice, less light and so on.
As I mentioned before in one of my blog topics, wellness and balance ... personal and spiritual development and evolution have keys... many of these keys are very simple ... others require dedicated real Work over time.  We do have all the keys available to us ... once we seek them out and find them, we have to use them in order to 'open those doors.'
My Tai Chi teacher once said:  "Now that you Know, you must Do."    Another teacher once said to me "The clothes do not make the monk." 
Knowledge or 'keeping up appearances' alone is not the real WAY ... we may say we already 'know' this ... until we examine our lives and find that there is plenty we 'know' which we may not apply directly to our own lives.  Isn't that the real point of all this Work?  My favourite example is the 'study and knowledge of things' ... a favourite in our world ... without the direct experience of doing and applying the things we can philosophize about, talk about and 'apparently know' to our lives in real and meaningful ways.    Examine this for yourself.  
Here are some steps along the  'Way' ....we may find ourselves on ...0r may eventually experience:
We feel the 'Call' ... a deep feeling that there is more to Life and to who or what we are than what we have known or have been experiencing or living.
We find a True Path or a Way ...  ... a genuine teaching 
We engage with it ... it truly becomes a 'Path with Heart' to us ... we commit
We 'Walk this Path' ... experience challenges (some call tests)
We work through these challenges and steps along our 'Path' or Way ...  grow and evolve
We walk our talk ... or as one of my teacher said ... "We become a Wise One who follows the Path'
We master ourselves and dedicate to walking the Path always in Life ... our abilities are developed and refined ... we continue to Work and develop as we come to realize that once the door is opened, the things we can discover and learn continue .....


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Things are not always as they appear to be

We know this too... right?  How many of us have heard this expression:  "Things are not always as they appear to be."

Our perceptions are dependent upon our 'level of being' or 'personal and spiritual development' ...
perception is clouded by distortion, illusion, traumas, expectations, denial,
'internal buffers' ... and so on.    We first have to be willing
to see a clear reflection of ourselves as we really are.

One of my teachers told me this story many years ago:  A man was searching for a spiritual path.  He had struggled with many challenges over his life and told my teacher that he knew there was more to life than what he had been experiencing on many levels.  He was already a person who had an interest in this style of movement art as well as spiritual approaches to enlightenment, healing and personal/soul development.  This Art, then, seemed to be exactly what he was looking for - at least according to what he said.  His story shows how this can also mean very little when it comes to the truth of how one really is inside.

My teacher's style was a combination of internal and external practices (of course philosophy and other teachings were taught over time) - which externally presents itself as a body-centered approach to spiritual development and evolution.   The student expressed his enthusiasm at finding my teacher and a path of this sort and began to attend classes.  After some time, my teacher said that he observed this man one day and had a sense that something had changed in his attitude and approach to the classes.  Flinging his legs up in the air, he examined his muscles and looked around the room ... obviously not engaged nor inside himself in the least.  Later, this person said he was looking for something more 'spiritual'!  He also started to put down the Art in the change room and some of the students complained. 

My teacher told me how many other people he had taught over the years, with similar stories to his - some even worse, had obtained amazing results while others had not.  Why?  He stressed that first of all, not everyone is interested in this type of a spiritual path, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Also, some students were ready and some were not - though they may have claimed to be.  My teacher taught me how to learn to See the deeper aspects of what he was teaching by doing my own Work in reflection, study and going deeper within myself over time... nothing would be 'given to me' ... I had to Work for it and attain it myself ... a path walked for a lifetime ... I 'Knew' it was a true 'spiritual path' due to the personal results I got over time.   He gave me nothing but the keys ... I walked up to the doors and worked the keys until I could get in ... and I continue to work and walk along this path today.

There are many examples of misconceptions of walking on a spiritual path.  Some people mistake Kung fu to be an ego-promoting art where people come to learn how to be tough fighters with big muscles and that practitioners can develop aggressive personalities.  While this can be true, it depends on the style of art and teacher ... but MORE SO on the personality and approach of the student.  One can be taught or shown the ''Way'; it is up to one to personally make the required efforts to learn the Way and then 'Walk the Way'. 

There are other students who imagine something will simply magically be 'given' to them by the teacher because they are the 'chosen one' or because they show up for a while!!  When it comes down to the real Work, teachers of these sort of arts find out what people are really made of inside.   I recently came across a saying that fits here: "You can lead a person to the door of Knowledge, but you can't make them think.''   This saying is similar to: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."  It's faulty thinking that leads people to illusions when it comes to spiritual development ... enlightenment ... or shamanic/magical paths of study.  The water is there ... it always has been.

Ego is a huge word with many meanings attached to it.  While it is true that many schools focus on the fighting aspects of the 'martial arts', or the 'physical prowess and external look of the movements and postures', it is also true that traditional spiritual teachings still exist today, where the benefits of training focus more on the spiritual development of the student ... with side benefits which include health, fitness, emotional/mental balance, philosophy and natural approaches to healing etc.

The media does no justice to the Arts of Kung fu or Karate when the story lines are so focussed on the combat applications.  This can also be due to the fact that one can train and study on one of these paths without it being taught as a spiritual path.  Some teachers' lineages are more 'martial' - meaning military and others are more fitness oriented, health oriented or spiritual.  While it is true that combat applications lie within the Art (as I was taught it), taught spiritually, they are like a fringe benefit!  We do not talk about a punch in order to punch someone ... we talk about how it is closing a channel of energy ... this is only one example. 

Many people have trained in Yoga, Karate, Kung fu etc... never learning about energy through their own experience of it at all (and there are many levels of this).  One reason is that these days many people become teachers of these arts prior to their own development reaching a high enough level for them to experience these things ... now they are teaching others ... how deep will that go?   People will get some benefits from doing these things; however,  if they are looking for something more, they will have to look deeper.   If one was not taught in this way, how can one bring others to this place?

My teacher told me that he was not surprised when the man we mention above never returned to class because he could not see the Art for what it was, and that this was OK.  One of my teacher's sayings was: "This Art is for everyone, but not everyone is for this Art."   Regardless of who comes, who leaves, and who gets 'what' out of it all, it will always be a personal thing.

While these arts are for everyone, not all people are ready to Work in the same way as we are on different levels of Being, and so we will only see what we are ready, willing and able to see.  This is one reason teachers of traditional arts would often pick their students personally and would be VERY picky.  One must be prepared to do the inner Work along with the aspects of the Art one is more inclined to enjoy; the foundation crumbles if one does not. 

 In any genuine path, internal Work is necessary in order to move forward - too many times people have developed other aspects of their being too soon only to become imbalanced and then what will they attract and create out in the world and inside themselves?  Avoid skipping over this point lightly.

Remember the saying: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear?"   Well, ever wonder where this teacher magically appears from?  They were, perhaps, there all the time!!  Well ... they were always somewhere!  You can be sure that many 'teachers' are walking around day to day doing quite 'ordinary' things ... people who can walk you up to the door you are searching for ... question is, do YOU see them?

This is the meaning of the old story in which someone is seeking for a teacher ... seeing and feeling that there must be more to life, this person goes out seeking for a place in which to learn ... to discover what healing potential and enlightenment is all about.  While out one day, this person crosses the path of a genuine teacher out in the daily world, doing daily things and not hopping about that they are special and important.  Over time, this person walks by this teacher many times ... one who can offer them exactly what they claim to be looking for ... never seeing this teacher for who they really are.  It can only be this way, due to the fact that we can only see where we are at ... to be able to see something higher or sense something higher ... requires us to BE higher. 

Things are not always as they appear to be to us.  We can all be in the same room and yet see things differently.  We call this 'point of perception' in some circles ... it is also called 'level of Being' in others.  The point being, once again, that we can only see what our current level of Being IS.  While this can shift a bit moment to moment or day to day, we have an average level we are at consistently.  This only changes with consistent Work over time.  In order to be new or to see, hear and feel newly, one must BE NEW. 

Be willing to see things as they really are.   Then ask yourself, are you really ready and able to do so?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Four Simple Keys For Kickstarting Personal Wellness

Don't we already know what to do?

Consider simple tools you can apply into your life in a practical way.  Everywhere I go, I see people looking for keys to wellness.  I am willing to bet that most of them already know these things!  Read the four keys below and ask yourself if you already know these things.

Often, we know exactly what to do; however, we lack the application of doing it... there are many factors that can contribute to this (ex. if I know what to do, why don't I simply do it?), but perhaps I will write about that another time ... it is also something you can read a little more about in my book (when it's ready, I'll let you know ... it's in a final edit). 

When we discover that we know things which we seem unable to apply ... or we are searching for a deeper understanding of ourselves during our personal and spiritual journeys and transitions in life, we can always seek out assistance.

Four Simple Keys for Wellness:

1.  Any and all impressions we receive on the inside and from all around us will impact us in various ways.  These 'impressions' take many forms... what we look at, touch, smell, experience ... most importantly, it also represents any and all mental/emotional experiences ... reactions etc.
Mental/Emotional personal reflection ... most of what plagues us on many levels originates in this realm, so honest self-reflection is a huge practical key to understanding our wellness ... or lack of
2.  ANYTHING we put into or on our bodies .... food, beverage, clothing, beauty products, soaps, laundry detergent, chemicals we are exposed to etc. etc.
3.  AIR   ... What is the quality of the air we are breathing in our everyday lives?   What are our breathing patterns like?  Do we breathe properly and do we know what that means?
4.  Proper movement ... Proper movement means I am moving in a way which liberates me from my chronic holding patterns, armouring and tensions .... it means I use certain moving arts which move my body in way that gets into and loosens up all the various 'dark places' in my form ... proper movement can heal and rejuvenate.  It can assist us in releasing traumas and we can experience more freedom in our bodies.

So... I am guessing that this is NOT new... most people know that each of these things I have mentioned makes sense ... and most people have heard of these things before.  The things to consider is ... how are we applying these things in our lives today?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spring Cleanse and Practice Boost
We are in the midst of Spring.  Spring is a great time to cleanse our bodies and increase our levels of activity - especially if we have been more sedentary during the winter months.  
Sometimes, during a really harsh winter, we may hardly get much sunlight or time outdoors at all.   This past winter was fairy mild, so I am not talking about that one!   Regardless, spring is here, and we have an opportunity to cleanse deeper and to renew ourselves (on multiple levels) once again along with the return of the light in these warmer seasons.
In this region, given that we can often experience very cold and sometimes harsh winter conditions, many of us may feel that need to eat heavier root veggies in the colder months and maybe even a little more meat ... as well as teas and herbs which are more warming to our systems.  Now that the warmer weather is coming, it is a great time to cleanse from these heavier foods ... and lighten our loads on our digestive system. 
This is very individual, so I can't tell you how much to alter your diet ... or what, exactly, you 'should' be eating.  These days we have so many people with various allergies and different tolerances to so many foods ... and there are many different diet plans etc. out there.   I do feel that we over-do things like sugar, wheat, processed dairy products, processed foods, meat, pastas etc., but you likely know this if you have been looking into altering your diet and increasing your levels of wellness and energy levels. 
As we work in the moving Arts and on our own inner development, we can develop a higher level of sensitivity to our whole system ... we feel and sense what our bodies require, and so we become our own best advisor.  Rather than following a strict system of one sort or another (which is not necessarily 'bad' for you ... if that works for you), we can also listen to what our own body is telling us.  One of the best ways to develop this to a higher degree, is to cleanse enough to be able to sense exactly how you feel (and where you feel it), right after you eat or drink something.  The next step is actually listen to our inner wisdom!  We often know exactly what we need to be doing to get to that place we desire: higher level of wellness and energy ... but doing what we really know we could do is often the greater challenge.  Ask yourself:  What do I feel drawn to eat or drink and how/what am I feeling just before I feel that pull to do so?  You will learn something in that moment.
Most of us feel a natural increase in energy during the spring ... we feel like moving more and going out to do new things after the more inward-moving period of winter.  We also can gauge ourselves and listen to our bodies there too.  When active in your life in various ways (or in practice), engage fully and do your best.  When you feel tired, listen to the body and rest well too.  Allow your senses time to relax and let go of all the impressions they receive during the day.  Once again, you can find your own inner wisdom advising you by listening and feeling inside yourself when it's time to 'shut down'.  Balance and harmony is attainable.
End Your Spring with a Boost in Your Practice

From now until the Summer Solstice ... June 21 ... if you are not already doing so, make a commitment to yourself that you will end this Spring with a boost in your practice.  Practice every day until the arrival of Summer Solstice.  If you are not taking any formal classes, and you have some experience with a form of practice, do your own at home. 
If you feel tired ... or have not been practicing every day ... or are new to practice ... or have been away from it for some time, practice every day anyway.  Create a routine for yourself that challenges yourself ... wherever you are currently at.  You do not need to measure yourself against anyone else and what they may be doing.  Push yourself to your own edge of growth.  If you have a routine you like to do... do it... especially if it challenges you enough personally.
I am fond of saying that true growth and evolution ... on whatever level it might be: personally, spiritually, mentally/emotionally ... even financially, politically etc. ... usually occurs on the edge - not in 'status quo' or stagnant 'maintaining comfort and bliss.'  But this is for those who desire it ... it is not a judgment.  You do not 'have to grow or evolve' ... it's not a 'should', here.  Simply ask yourself:  Do I desire to grow from where or how I am right now in my life ... in any way?   It is a great question to ask in the spring during the time of renewal all around us ... just look at the new growth in the Natural World all around us.
If you DESIRE growth and evolving from where you are currently, then, it is a reminder that in order to do so, it comes from a place of 'being on the edge of your comfort zone'!
I encourage you to get 'curious about this edge' ... explore a 'willingness to engage with this edge' ... adopt an attitude of 'openness to learn new things'... new things about yourself.  While growth on the edge can come with its own set of challenges, we can learn to see this as a part of the path of a warrior ... and to be more at ease with the shifts and changes we experience inside and all around us. 
And ... please ... avoid extremes ... you do not have to hurt yourself to do what I am talking about!   Push... yes ... hurt yourself?   No! 


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spiritual Arts ... Paths to Spiritual Enlightenment and Mainstream Schools and Studios

Kung fu, Chi Kung and Yoga are traditionally spiritual arts.  Taken away from the trophies, popular magazines, tournaments, commercial businesses 'body shows' and 'bliss talks' of many studios today (where some individuals can do amazing things but be far from attaining personal/spiritual development), they were also taught as a way to enlightenment and personal as well as spiritual development.  

There is nothing wrong with individuals pursuing things like physical mastery, relaxation, health benefits and tournament trophies ... we are simply pointing out that this is very different than engaging in these Arts for personal/spiritual development ... Mastery or Enlightenment. 

Unfortunately, though these arts are gaining in popularity (Yoga and Karate esp. and even Chi Kung these days), they suffer the result of mainstream exposure - dilution and distortion.  This is fine if we are aware that it is so ... but is the general population aware of exactly what they are seeking and where to find it?

We could benefit from asking ourselves: what is it I truly seek by coming here?  If the place you are engaged with offers you what you want, then that's great.  When you know what you really are looking for, it will assist you in determining the place to look for.  Many mainstream studios gaining in popularity are becoming more like gyms: physically oriented with some basic 'feel good principles ... positive thinking and so on...' and basic therapeutic results.   In many studios, Yoga is beginning to resemble 'physical therapy' ... or what people also call physiotherapy.  This is not a judgment ... it's a reality.  This is also perfectly fine - if that is what someone is looking for!

Personal and spiritual growth involves deeper work ... it's different but can look the same on the surface.  This is how distortion originally occurred.  For example, in older times, 'Masters' only taught after having done their own Work and having walked a spiritual path for many years.  Gaining wisdom and 'Knowing' (experience and wisdom) over time, they were then ready to share with younger students ... drawing from their own inner knowing ... having mastered themselves.  These days, anyone can teach Karate or Yoga or Reiki ... after only so many hours of certifications and teaching.  We are certificate oriented - not experience, time and wisdom oriented as much.  

Where is the depth and Mastery obtained ... over time?  Where is the personal and spiritual growth ... which goes on for a lifetime ... reflected in the one who is teaching us?  We have young people or older individuals who are only now beginning to study and gain certification who have yet to truly meet themselves face to face (or experience the Essence of who they really are)... or travel through life with its many challenges - leading others who are lost, ill and seeking. We have individuals assisting us with our personal and spiritual growth who have stopped working on themselves ... or who have not done their own 'Work'.  Can they really guide others with their knowledge (not true Knowing from mastery over time and experience)?  Rather than judge or insult, I truly seek to share clarity on this growing reality.   If you feel insulted, that is not my intention ... ask yourself why you would feel so.   Be honest with yourself.  Also, ask ... what is it I seek?

Traditional arts demand a certain level of stress placed on the body, mind/emotions and spirit of the individual... particularly if one has not been on the journey since childhood ... even then many students are often also dealing with having to do a great amount of inner and outer 'Work' before they are even ready to tap into their true potential.  Though we can have fun and work gently at times, true growth is not always blissful!  It also involves challenging work - something many places and studios don't talk about these days - or skim over it as if it's just a physical effort.  With the proper attitude and approach ... as well as understanding, we can learn to engage with this challenging work in a lighthearted and yet serious manner.

Often, when our Work moves deep enough, we may be surprised to find that buried traumas or difficult memories emerge.  Some people are not prepared for these things, and either bury them once again, or resist moving into these places to bring more light and healing.  I do not promote extremes ... in general, there does need to be a certain balance of intensity and gentleness ... action and receptivity ... yin and yang!   Eventually, we learn to seek out this unique personal balance for ourselves according to our own nature, but this takes time to develop within ourselves.  See the picture above and reflect on its many meanings.  Also, we are at different phases at different points in our lives. 

Why would personal/spiritual development and Work involve real challenging work and intensity at times?  Why would it sometimes feel like it is leading us to a deep discomfort or lead us into our darker places of inner pain?  

We tend to seek to avoid pain or discomfort and move towards anything which brings us ease, bliss and comfort.  While this is not bad in the 'idea of it', it does not assist us with transmutation: the art of transforming one thing into another.  During the process of transformation we may encounter difficult experiences.  We may have to 'go into the dark cave' in order to bring more light in our lives.  The only way is in ... we tend to avoid that for many reasons: fear, illusions and ignorance are three of these major reasons.

Most of us are but a shadow of our innate potential.  We are asleep to our true nature, and neither feel, see or hear the energies inside and around us.  When we begin to see ourselves as we really are, there is often periods of inner challenge, as many of us have buried traumas and fragmented parts of ourselves which we have banished to a place deep within - away from our consciousness and awareness.   When we access these deeper places, we may find that we are facing things we would rather not and that it is difficult - the benefit is what we gain access to once we transform these buried experiences and energies.   

Most of us live from the neck up - out of touch with our breath and bodies as well as our inner wisdom.   We have learned to dissociate from our bodies and experiences, and so relearning how to be authentic, present, aware and to experience life as it is may feel awkward ... even unnerving.  Even if we can breathe well, we tend to stop at the 'physical', ethical or 'mental ideas' of what the common used of the phrase 'spiritual evolution or development' can potentially represent. Again, we have to ask: What is it, I truly seek?  The path of personal and spiritual growth and evolution I speak of is for everyone; however, not everyone seeks out this sort of path and there is no judgement in that either.   We naturally seek this out when we are ready for it.  That is one meaning of the phrase "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  The truth is always around us ... it is we who transform and eventually come to see it or to seek it.

Many paths, studios and teachers today speak so much about the opening of the heart area (... or 'chakra' ... which is vital, and we do tend to need that so much these days), but fail to stress the importance of the entire human's energy system.  

This can lead to misunderstanding and imbalance in the individual's psyche, energy and body.  We are not walking hearts only ... we have an entire matrix of energies and qualities as a human being ... a balanced human is in touch with all of his/her aspects ... from the lower 'chakras' to the higher.  There are as many people who are cut off from their heart down as there are people who are cut off from their neck up (because we stress the mental and rational so much)! 

While we certainly require work in our heart area in order to experience a deeper connection to all things, it is not at the exclusion of the rest of who and what we are!  Overemphasis on higher 'chakras' (though not always spoken of in that way) is seen everywhere.  I cannot stress this point enough.

More on mainstream schools:

Generally speaking, in most schools, a person can attain a black belt in Karate (depending on the school), in less than 5 years of full time participation.  Some black belt students then go on to open their own schools ... with very little of their own experience and work in the art.  

Traditionally, a black belt meant that a student was now 'teachable' in the art and has a basic foundation in the art ... the black belt meant that the real life-long training has now begun.  In some schools, traditionally, in various martial arts, a student was not even given their first sash or belt until they were observed and noted for certain inner qualities ... and finally accepted as a student. 

We can observe a similar trend in Yoga in modern times. 

We can ask ourselves ...

What do these certificates, degrees, belts, sashes, trainings and so on really mean? 

What is the real value of these things?

What is it we are truly seeking?

Will we have the potential to attain that in the place we are engaged with?  

Without judgment or insult to anyone else, seek out what you truly desire and you will find the right place for you.   It may be in a mainstream school or it may be in a more traditional school focussed on personal/spiritual growth and Mastery.  Only you can decide what it is you desire for yourself right now.  The important point is to see your self, things, people and places for what and how they really are.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bringing Light into Dark Places ... Souhl Counsel ...

Our path in life is full of mini journeys and transitions.  We all go through many changes, dramas, trials and shifts.  While this is often directly related to the stage of life we happen to be in, it can also be an inner stage we are journeying through or transitioning in or out of.

At times along our journey we may feel overwhelmed, disoriented, anxious, fearful, depressed ... etc.


You can benefit from Souhl Counsel and/or our 'Journeys and Transitions' personal and spiritual mentorship program if you are experiencing any of these things....
A desire to deepen your personal and/or spiritual development...
Are you in a major transition in your life and desire support during your process? 
Where are you in your own personal journey?  Do you feel like you have lost contact with who you really are?
Do you feel stress, imbalance, desire for growth, understanding or deep transformation?
Do you see patterns and dramas in your life that continue to create havoc?
Do you feel like your physical complaints likely have something to do with your inner state or something unsolved?
Are your relationships challenging or unsatisfying ... or full of conflict and impasse?
Do you feel stuck in a place you have been lurking around in for a long time?
Do you feel ready to address something you know you need to ... but have avoided for a long time?
Do you desire to reach out for counselling but would rather do it in a private manner on-line or on the phone?
Contact me on my webpage ...  ... learn about private on-line and phone Souhl Counsel sessions and how they can assist you....
Ask about the on-line personal and spiritual mentorship sessions ...  designed to guide you in your personal and spiritual growth and understanding ...
Find out about programs to support you on your journey and through challenging transitions ... 
Bringing Light into Dark Places

Friday, May 22, 2015

Coping with Stress ... Changes ... Fear: How Engaging with Personal and Spiritual Work can Help

This blog topic is a response to a few questions from several people.   Yes, I am still completing my book writing project, but I have placed it on hold temporarily.

You can visit our new website ... it is still under construction ...
I may not post for a while ... so as I have said before ... go over the existing entries... see if you can learn new things....

Are there ripples in your life ... feeling chaos and stress?
  How can you experience peace and calm amidst this?

If one thing is constant, it is the fact that things are always shifting and changing.  We have likely all heard this at one time or another.

Even in nature things are never exactly the same - every moment there is newness and subtle shifts in everything we can experience ...  light and dark ... rest and motion ... growth and decay.   How does that apply to you and me?

If we experience things as shifts and changes in energy then we can apply this to ourselves: our physical bodies, our mind and its fluctuations, our emotions in motion and various other inner and outer states we can be aware of.  Here, at Souhl Center, this is a key for you to work with ... but first, let's look at stress and change a bit more.

I view the inevitable stresses we experience along our journey in life, in its many arenas, as shifts in energy which - depending on how we respond - corresponds to subsequent changes in the physical manifestations all around us in our world and within our own lives.  Energy first ... then shifts in the denser manifestations; our bodies for example.

Things around us change all the time and often many of us are not able to manage these changes and shifts in our lives with balance, harmony or grace - neither can we influence these changes if they are the result of things outside our control or influence.   Many times, our lifestyles change  dramatically due to external forces we have no control over on an individual level: war, natural disasters, closing of companies we work for, spouses leaving, family dramas, people around us or close to us dying or very ill and so on.   We experience change as a stressor sometimes. 

Other times we are the ones engaging with hectic work schedules, social 'obligations' and other external demands that we allow to exert pressures on ourselves - unnecessarily; people often fail to understand how they are personally responsible for creating their own unmanageable stressful life situations ... imagining that things are happening to them instead of seeing the direct connection between their own choices and the results of these choices.

One of the things we need to clarify is whether our stressors are completely out of our control (in this case we can work with our own inner reactions, attachments, identifications and coping tools), or whether our stressors are of our own making (in which case we can work to make new choices over time).

Many of us attempt to exert more force or effort into changing things around us ... we do this because we view things externally and feel safer when we think we are in control of things around us.   We can see, however, that this illusion or addiction of control over external things often leads to disaster ... think of this in the environmental sense ... or ponder the political, religious and economic disasters over history.   In our attempts to control things we have often had to deal with our own unintended consequences: poisoning of our water and air; brutal dictatorships leading to death and chaos; wars over natural resources and religious beliefs; inequity of the sexes in our societies; unnecessary health risks due to bad practices in the food and health industries and so on.   We also attempt to exert control over our own personal lives via trying to control other people in our lives ... how they behave or respond to us ... what they do, how they think, what they wear, what they believe and the choices they make.   This too, leads to unintended consequences!

How can you learn to cope effectively with the inevitable stresses in life ... the changes in your lifestyle that you are finding difficult to move through and the various stresses and fears you may experience as a result of changes in your life cycles: moving through adolescence with its various pressures and stresses ... the shift into adulthood with various changes in responsibilities, growing older and many things in between.  

The biggest step to take is to look within first ... most of us look out and try to control or make changes on the outside.

When the inside truly alters ... much will appear to alter ... and will also indeed alter on the outside.

     Embrace the opportunity to discover your True Essence ... to do so, you must go inwards ... this also involves some work  ... both personally and spiritually.

So how can we find a peacefulness amidst the various chaotic energies surrounding us at different times in our lives?   Engage with personal work.   Doing your personal work and personal growth will assist you with finding peacefulness amidst chaos and stresses in your life.

Things we can learn to do and apply:

Personally ... when you get started:

-- As simple as this sounds, it is often challenging for most people to apply these basic balancing points:  Proper exercise on a regular basis (the Moving Arts we teach are whole-body movements which take care of exercise while offering other benefits as well) ... proper breathing ... a diet right for you ... enough pure clean water ... clean air (many people do not air out their homes effectively and even work in environments where the air flow is poor and not fresh) ...

-- Find and apply a natural rhythm to your life ... listen to your body and mind when you need rest or play or proper nutrition ... or support and personal connection with others.

-- Seek out counselling and guidance ... as needed.  Address any traumas you may have experienced ... look at recurrent dysfunctional patterns in your life.  Use counselling to assist you when you feel stuck or find something difficult to work through.  Learn more about yourself.  Over time, this Work can assist you with becoming more integrated and transformed as a person ... more aligned with your Self ... more functional in the world ... more satisfied with your relationships ... more balanced in your mind and emotions ... more in touch with who you really are in essence and so on.

-- Learn how to effectively cope with your inner reactions to people, places and things.  Learn how to respond to various people, places, and things with more balance, control and harmony.  This can also be addressed in counselling.

-- Engage with and experience various body therapies and energy work ... examine your lifestyle habits ... diet ... relationships ... etc.   Looking at all the aspects of your life and experiencing various body work and energy therapies can be a door opener to moving in deeper with your personal work.   You can learn things like how deeply connected the body is to mental and emotional processes ... and so on.

--  learn relaxation and meditation ... then do it regularly

--  Learn more about your body, mind and emotions ... your patterns ... your specific breathing patterns and holding patterns in your musculature (the ways you hold tension) ... then engage with methods and tools which can assist you with creating more balance in these areas.  APPLY ... APPLY .... APPLY ... many people know all these things intellectually but their bodies, minds and emotions demonstrate they are not engaging with their own work nor APPLYING what they seem to know... I always stress this as it is a great illusion I have come across ... most people know far more than they actually apply ... then they act as though they are doing something or are growing personally or spiritually ... knowing is not doing... your own level of being will clearly show exactly where you are at ... be willing to look at yourself honestly.

If you desire something deeper, you may feel also feel called to engage with a deeper Spiritual Path or Work.

Personal work comes first:
Here we begin by examining our rippled reflections
 in the realm of our mental/emotional patterns, stresses and dramas.
Like the butterfly, we can experience real transformation... growth
into something new ... our true Essence reflected clearly.

Spiritually ... when you desire to work and are ready to move deeper ...

--  Working to evolve Spiritually is different from personal work ... though personal work is vital to begin with.

--  Engaging with personal work is different from fully immersing yourself in a School, as engaging fully in a School is a deeper commitment ... will involve more consistent work ... and will offer you more tools ... When you want to take things to a deeper level, seek out a School.

-- Study at a Spiritual School ... learn its tools ... apply them with enthusiasm, persistence and consistency.  A true Spiritual School offers you the tools you can apply to walk in life ... you have an opportunity to learn how not to get caught up in things around you to the point where you experience high levels of stress, imbalance, illness etc.. It also works with you in a deeper way ... can assist you with aligning and Knowing your own True Essence...

-- Working to Know One's Self and developing or evolving Spiritually... A Spiritual School can assist you with this ... this will be individual as it depends on many things you need to also bring to the Work:  the right attitude;  diligence in doing the practical tools presented;  your own level of being ... you can learn to understand many things on a deeper level and evolve from where you are at.

--  Spiritual Work, at Souhl Center, also involves things that some people might call mystical teachings ... and includes things that people may call spiritual or peak experiences ... enlightenment ... or connecting with the Divine ... there are so many words and phrases.... I view many things people consider para-normal abilities or psychic abilities or mystical or peak experiences etc. as nothing more than the unlocking of normal human potential ... we can and do have the opportunity to evolve.  I do not place my focus on these things - nor do I discount them... I find they naturally unfold when engaging with a true Spiritual Path ... in ones own unique time and way.


Earlier in this blog I said that I view stresses and changes inside and around us as various forms of and shifts in energies. 

You experience stress around a certain person ... what is the energy they are engaged with .. what energies are you engaged with ...

There is a particular form of energy within the minds and bodies and emotions of the people who start wars ... who do not care about the environment etc. etc.  ... and then there is the energy of your particular responses to these things...

Energies are shifting and changing within you when you are an adolescent ... an adult ... a senior ... you can learn how to manage these energies from within

There is a lot we can learn from the approach of understanding and working with energy ... but first we must begin with ourselves... energy first ... then the impact of this energy on manifestations.  


A last note on Fear..

I have often said that at the root of many things is fear.  Many of us have heard this over and over.  People judge, condemn, ridicule, hate, destroy and so on ... things which they fear ... out of a lack of understanding.   So fear is also related to things like misunderstanding... and to stress - how can we not be experiencing the negative effects of chronic stress in our bodies, minds and emotional states when fear runs rampant within us...

We fear change ... the changes in our lives during the many various cycles in life.  Fear freezes our movement .. our energies ... restricts us in Life ... in truly living.

Come to know fear and how it relates to you personally ... what are you afraid of ... how does it operate in your life ... step up to it and look at it directly ... and take the necessary steps to alter its hold on your life and your energies ... do your personal work ...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Arrogance or Confidence? ... Obsession or Passion?

Today's blog topic covers a few ideas and misconceptions that arise when working on a Path of this nature...   It is an answer to several different questions I have had over the last few weeks...

Let the Light of your Spirit guide you and shine out into the World ...

Full of spirit, energy, vitality, and aligned with your passion, step out into the world with genuine self-confidence.

Work to cultivate these things within yourself and make a difference!

Arrogance or Confidence?

Self-confidence and 'spirit'...

Many movement arts ... such as Kung fu speak about cultivating a sense of self-confidence in students.   Many come into an Art like Kung fu (or other Arts called `Martial Arts'), looking to develop self-confidence ... among other things.

Here at Souhl Center, cultivating the inner 'spirit' of the person is vital and self-confidence arises out of this inner 'spirit'.   Here, the word 'spirit' is used to mean "full of energy... enthusiasm... determination" (this is not to be confused with the word 'Spirit' which relates to something else we study and work to align with in our Work).  The way I am using the word 'spirit', here today, is directly linked to the word 'spirited'.   When one is 'spirited', one can also more easily align with a natural sense of inner self-confidence.  When one 'lacks spirit', one will find that one's self-confidence diminishes as well.   This inner feeling and outward manifestation of `spirit' is not the false sense of confidence and energy that appears in someone who is arrogant. 

Though on the outside arrogance can look like self-confidence, and can appear much the same in various behaviours, arrogance is something different and is quite pretentious.   Self-confidence is genuine.  Why, then, is it often confused with arrogance?  First of all, the two are often misunderstood in basic meaning.  Secondly, many people are not self-confident themselves; most individuals operate from a false personality and do not really know who or how they really are and some of these people have false ideas about what 'humility' means and how it manifests in outward behaviours.  Walking around feeling very 'humble', they judge and criticize anyone who seems to have a natural sense of vitality, energy, spirit and self-confidence.  Arrogance is not self-confidence, and we clarify that word below.

When we observe someone who is not self-confident, we may sense, observe or feel that they are lacking or low in energy, enthusiasm ... perhaps even vitality ...  A person without self-confidence may appear deflated or perhaps we get a feeling that the person is somehow repressed or subdued ... not really "comfortable in their own skin" ... as the saying goes.   When one is not confident, it may be very difficult to express one's unique talents and gifts with the world to one's true potential.

If someone does not feel confident ... and lacks energy and vitality, developing these things and a 'spirited' feeling and attitude requires Work along certain lines for some period of time ... until it is something integrated within one's psyche ... or soul ...  and therefore more easily accessed and expressed naturally from within.  

For many people, developing self-confidence comes in the form of attempting to alter one's behaviour by reading a book or attending a seminar.   These things can help if there are very practical things one can apply to one's daily life on a regular basis.  We do not change by information or concepts alone.   We must be able to apply very practical things into our everyday life in order to develop real lasting inner changes ... like developing 'spirit' or self-confidence. 


Arrogance is not confidence ... although sometimes the two are confused - especially within the individual expressing arrogance... or the individual who is not aware of the difference between arrogance and self-confidence. 

Well then, what is arrogance?   ... some people call this 'ego', but the word 'ego' also holds many other deeper layers of meaning, so this would not really be a good word to use.  A person is arrogant when he/she expresses an exaggerated sense of their perceived importance or abilities.   The word 'exaggerated' is key here.  If one expresses a genuine ability one has with the intention for instruction or to motivate or to be an example to others of one may attain, how can this be arrogance?  In the definition, arrogance is an exaggeration.   Having said this, one can, perhaps, more clearly realize how easily one can mistake self-confidence with arrogance ... or vice versa.   When we lack true understanding ... awareness ... consciousness... we mistake one thing for another quite easily.  Arrogance might learn something from humility - self-confidence does not need to.

Some people imagine that Arts like Kung fu teach a student to become arrogant (or angry... aggressive etc. etc.).  This is a myth.  Teachers are different and students are different.  Some teachers are arrogant - others are self-confident and full of spirit.  Some students are arrogant - others are self-confident ... how can this be otherwise?  It is the same in the world around us!

Some students become arrogant due to a lack of their understanding or inner development along a spiritual path (some people call this having or developing an 'inflated ego').  Sometimes it is a phase they go through ... some may never come out of it.     Other students lack self-confidence and feel plagued by inner doubts and rather than expressing arrogance; they slip into self-pity or diminished inner views of themselves.  This has nothing to do with the teacher or the path ... it is an individual thing ... personal 'inner demons' one must face and transform.  It is a person's own inner work.

It is true that a 'path' ought to have and teach principles and tools which students can learn and get real results with.    Along with this, we also must consider that the proper mindset and attitude towards Work ... 'true understanding' of things taught (we are so plagued with distortions at times) ... consistent diligent use of tools over time .... many things, really, are dependent upon the student.  This is why many teachers who possess keys of a genuine spiritual path lament over not being able to find a 'worthy student'.  This is not an arrogant thing for them to say ... it is simply a sad reality.  One must be of a certain mindset or level to be able to be teachable.

If you are self-confident and full of energy and spirit, it will naturally shine through in the way you are at various times; some people will judge you or label you or misunderstand you ... be your natural self and ignore negative responses coming towards you.

Arrogance? ... or Confidence?   Make sure you understand this difference prior to making assumptions or judgements... of yourself or others...

Humility is another word that we misunderstand and misuse ... but we are not discussing that one today.

Obsession or Passion?

What is an obsession?

This word comes from the word 'obsess' and so we need to look at that word.  To obsess over something or someone is to have that thing, thought, idea, picture, person etc. to fill up so much of your thought patterns that it becomes troubling to you in your life in some way.

The root of the word 'obsess' comes from the late Middle English... and can point to another meaning: haunt or possess... as in what some refer to as an 'evil spirit'.  Possession comes in many forms... we can 'become possessed' by people, places or things.  So, in this way one can see how something like being obsessed with money can mean that one is haunted or possessed by the 'spirit of greed' for example and how an obsession with money could 'possess' someone to do things which are not healthy, legal, balanced, loving and so on.

Example:  Someone is obsessed with money.  Perhaps this person becomes a workaholic and eventually develops a chronic illness due to the long hours he/she works and a lack of self-care and balance in his/her life.  In this case, observing from the outside only, one would think work was the obsession ... but underlying this particular person's motivation, the obsession is money.  In another example with money, the underlying obsession could be work related: obsession with status, power, control or perceived social recognition and so on.

People can become obsessed with power, status, recognition, applause, sex, a particular person, a political cause, a religion, a cult... we could go on and on.   Sort of sounds like an addiction, huh?  They are often deeply related.   Work on ourselves from the inside out is the way out of these things ...

People often confuse passion with obsession... or the other way around.

Obsessions may initially look like passions, but inevitably obsessions create chaos, havoc and suffering later on when they become chronic.

What is passion?

The word 'passion' is either used in its older meaning or in its more modern context.    People understand this word differently depending on how they have learned of its meaning.   Many words are like this; in order for us to understand one another ... and knowing that we have, indeed, altered the meaning of many words over time, it is crucial that we understand what we really mean when we use a word.

Some people have told me that they have heard that some religious beliefs use the word 'passion' in a way that means 'suffering'.   I was raised Catholic, and know of  'The Passion of Christ', but never used the word in that way outside of church.  I never understood the word in that way, because I have always used it in my everyday language in its more modern development of meaning which points more towards 'arousing great enthusiasm'... which has a more positive slant.   I do not equate the word 'passion' directly to suffering or to any sort of emotional or 'ego' imbalance - though I am also aware that some Buddhist teachings use this older meaning of the word as well.   Because we have accepted the more modern definition of this word into our English language, while maintaining the older usage of its earlier meanings, we then need to be careful that we are talking about the same thing!!!  Isn't this so ... of many things?!

Looking at the root of the word 'passion', we can understand, perhaps, where this came from.   Origin: Middle English: from Old French: from Late Latin: 'passio'(n-) ...(chiefly a term in Christian theology) .... from Latin pati: 'suffer' ... We find that the phrase... 'The Passion' ... is the suffering and death of Jesus.

We can then imagine that for a long time the word 'passion' meant suffering, and that some people still use this word in this way.    Today, however, many people have come to use the word 'passion' to describe something we feel when we are very enthusiastic about something... like: " He has a passion for gardening, so he became a gardener and is very happy in his work these days."   This use of the word has led to many people talking about looking for ... discovering ... or expressing their passion in their work in order to align themselves with something they feel deeply they are 'called to do in the world'.  Sometimes we suffer on our way to discovering who we really are or what our 'passion' in life is ... or we sometimes suffer as we work at aligning ourselves with who and what we are and how that is expressed in the world.   Just because we are 'passionate' about something or someone does not mean there will not be hard work involved or suffering of some sort along the way in Life.  Having said this, though, I still do not equate 'passion' with suffering ... directly.

Obsession?  ... Or Passion? ....   Once again, we need to be careful about what we are saying and that we really understand what we ... or someone else is saying....   there are so many layers to understanding ... as we evolve, we understand things on deeper levels... we only understand up to wherever we are at.