Sunday, 10 July 2016

What can Envy teach you?

'Whatever emotion you pick, it will be the right one,' the workshop tutor announced as I dipped my hand into a plastic to fish out a tiny piece of paper. Each described an emotion that we would have to weave into a poem as a writing exercise in class. Jealousy, anger, shyness, shame... How annoying that I picked Envy, as if The Universe knew my darkest secret and wanted to lay it bare.


She glares up at me
through the pleasantries,
and all those lovely things
I say to you, my friend.

Envy.

I wish she'd leave me alone.
but her green eyes know
my deepest, darkest secrets.

She's not a friend, 

and I've confessed too much to her already.
But I can't seem to stop - 
my guts are filled with poison
and she feeds off that stuff.

She snakes her arm around my shoulder

while I say how glad I am for you, my friend,
for having all the things I haven't got
and doing all the things I haven't done.

She whispers,

in away that only Envy knows,
like lovers sometimes do:
'A friend or a foe -
what am I to you?'

A feeling like jealousy has a lighter tone to it. If I had to choose a colour for jealousy, I would use a fiery red or a fuchsia pink for wanting to stand out and compete. But not so with Envy. If I envisage Envy, I imagine a substance like mercury and assign it one of the darkest shades on the colour wheel. The Proverbs sum up the feeling pretty accurately: 'Envy makes the bones rot.' 

For me, Envy feels like drinking poison and loving it. There is almost something sexy about Envy - like a new best friend who knows your hidden desires, turning your old friend into an enemy.


Envy makes it really easy to lie to someone. Have you ever said: 'I'm so happy for you. I'm so glad,' when on the inside you've been shriveling away? And with these feelings you're not too far off from wishing for harm to come to another person, thinking that have something that you don't. Of course, it's all untrue. 

Mary C Lamia Ph.D. describes Envy in the following words on Psychology Today: 'We really can't know what another person's life is like, but an envious person just assumes that the other person is happier or better.' We create an ideal image of the other person's life, picturing them as having all the things we want to have all of the time. Envy creates a fantasy world where things we want to have are limited and exclusive, yet available to everyone except us.

Is envy a natural feeling? Where does it stem from? Thinking back to times when I've felt envious,  it has usually come about when someone (most often a close friend with whom we have much in common) has had something that I desire but feel I cannot have. A happy relationship, for example. A trip abroad. A flawless body. A certain status. Attention.

Things I want to have in my life, perhaps even without realizing it.  And they're not things that I could never dream of having - just things I know I would have to work hard at getting.


Envy also stems from certain beliefs I hold. For example, that I must achieve all my goals right now because - let's face it - I ain't getting any younger. I must travel the world, write a book, build a career, get married and have kids - all at the same time. If I see someone of the same age as me ticking off one of the things I have on my bucket list, or - worse - if someone younger than me is ticking things off their list, then Envy has its hay day. 


So age, as well as desire, seems to be a factor that influences the outbursts of Envy.


Mary also points out that Envy can stem from our childhood - we can become unconsciously envious of the things that our parents envied in others.  'For example, if your parents struggled financially and wished for more money, you might envy those who have it. Or if a parent idealized a college education that was impossible to obtain, you might admire intellectual pursuits.'

When I feel envious, I completely overlook the work that the people I'm envious of have put into achieving whatever it is that I want to have, or the circumstances and events that have all occurred in order for them to be where they are today. I begin to see them as geniuses or as very fortunate indeed. And this is where the feeling of injustice or unfairness comes from.

But in the words of Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate who built his huge fortune from nothing: 'Analysis of the cause of their success would show that they were only average men who have discovered and applied certain rules which enabled them to get from where they started to where they wished to go.'

While Envy blinds me, I cannot see clearly the chain of events and personal effort that preceded someone attaining the things that I wish to have. And with that mindset which skips many fundamental steps, I begin to feel as if life were unjust and favored anyone but me.  


How can you overcome Envy? And is there anything that can be gained from feeling it?

Like all negative feelings, Envy is a darn good teacher. Envy puts my deepest desires into a sharp focus. As its poison fills my bones, I can take stock of my life and look at the ways I could achieve the things I want to have. Envy also points out the limiting belief systems that I am holding onto. Envy seems to call me into action - go after your dreams, or I will never leave you. 

So I'll just have to live with Envy. But next time it calls on my heart, I will honor my dreams and desires and start to take small steps towards achieving them. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Thoughts on the UK Referendum

It feels as though life in the UK, or indeed Europe, will never be the same again, since that fateful date of June 23, 2016. Since that day, I have been asked several times by my fellow Latvian nationals and people in the UK on how I feel about living in the UK, following the referendum. My family have been calling from Latvia, following distressing news about the mistreatment of Latvians in Bristol which they have seen on the TV. I've also been approached by British nationals asking whether there is anything they can do to make me feel more at home.

To clarify my feelings about living in the UK before and beyond the Referendum - I have never once been made to feel like an immigrant. Any such feelings, when they arose, have been of my own making. 


When I perceived myself as an intruder, that is the attitude I began to see in the actions of others towards me - usually in some minor details I would otherwise overlook. And they go hand in hand with self-pity.

The Latvians who reported their mistreatment on the news probably did feel mistreated - but there is a small chance that they were also mistreating others. 

As soon as we give into the illusion of 'self' and 'the other', we perpetuate that illusion by every action we take. And at the end of the war - how will you distinguish who started it first? And will it even matter who was the first to cast the stone, when you find yourself surrounded by rubble and dust?

In my 11 years living in a different culture, which has given me a chance to reflect on my own, I have begun perceiving nationality as an illusion. Division is also an illusion. I believe that at some profound level we are all connected. 


If I came to the UK with a mindset that this country owes me something, or that I am entitled to something, then I would see injustice everywhere. And it's the same with life. How much time I would waste, kicking and screaming that I have had a difficult childhood, a difficult adulthood, that I haven't been granted enough resources to do what I love for a living, and so on. Instead, it's more worthwhile to simply acknowledge your feelings and recognize how they have shaped you into the person you are today. Focusing on the strengths and survival mechanisms you have developed as a result, which are all to your merit, instead of wallowing in how difficult your circumstances have been. All the obstacles that I've had to face since arriving in the UK at age 15 have helped me distill my desires and really know the ones worth going for. 


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the UK and all the wonderful people I have met here, who have all, in their small ways, helped me along the way. Not everyone has been so wonderful, of course - but neither would they have been in my home country. 


Let's just say that there are nice people and there are nasty people, and as a general rule it's better to avoid the latter in any country! :)

One of the best and most encouraging experiences I have had in the UK was when I hosted the screening of a documentary close to my heart - The Soviet Story - which commemorates the victims of the Soviet regime. Friends from Latvia, the UK and Germany donated to obtain the screening licence and members of the BRLSI (David Baird in particular) after facing some initial opposition, fought for my case to screen it. A friend from Colombia helped to film the event, and an audience consisting of multiple nationalities engaged in a passionate discussion after the screening. 

Despite the discussion throwing me off guard at times (I am not a historian after all), I was grateful to see more than fifty people give up a sunny summer's evening and their money to see the film. What was even more wonderful to see was how so many invested themselves emotionally in a cause that was important to me and to Latvia - but I couldn't imagine would really matter to anyone else. Nationality was still there, but it was no longer relevant. Discouraged or encouraged during the discussion, I was pleased to see that emotion had electrified the room.




The UK Referendum happened to take place on the same date as the Summer Solstice in Latvia, which is why I wasn't here to witness what feels like (following all the upheaval in politics ever since) a historical moment. Perhaps even a turning point in the history of Europe. Before I left, friends anxiously asked me whether I would get kicked out of the UK now. But what I've come back to has only endeared me.

My whole Facebook wall has gone UK-referendum-crazy, with everyone I've seen expressing their deep shame and disbelief at the result of the vote. My mum who works in a hospital here, received a letter from the NHS, saying how much they valued their staff from the EU, bringing a tear to her eye. A work colleague offered their full support and expressed remorse if I felt like I couldn't make the UK my home as a result of the referendum. A complete stranger apologized for the result of the vote, as if it were his fault.


There is always the beautiful side of life and the ugly. While I bear in mind that it's not wise to ignore the ugly part, I choose to dwell on the beautiful.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

#dzeja 'Labestība'

Man nepieder nekas
un no tā man pietiek visam kam.
Un, ja būtu vairāk,
tad varbūt nepaliktu pāri
nekam.

Jūra met melnus mutuļus,
pirms rāmi vēji apņem to
un padara par spoguli.

Sauc, sauc
par spīti vējam
savu likteni nepārtrauc,
bet sauc!

Atvadies no visa
un spogulī ieskaties -

tur, dzelmē, spīd dzintara gabali
un asaras kā sveķi svīst,

klusām, čukstus,
lūpās trīs:

"Labestība.
Labestība."

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Path to #enlightenment - step 6 of 10000000........'Healing'

When I left my busy full-time job some months ago, I thought I did it in order to have more time for writing and going freelance. But now - six months later - it's finally hit me. It wasn't at all about writing. It was always about HEALING.


What do I mean by healing? 


The way I understand it, healing is when you work towards loosening old patterns - behaviours, thoughts and emotions that may have been useful once, but no longer serve you. In order to let them go, you first need to acknowledge that they are there and then work at changing them.



I imagine my mind and my body to be a bit like a wardrobe. If it's full of old season stuff that I just can't let go of for various emotional reasons, where am I going to put the new season clothes? 


Shades much brighter, patterns more delicate and airy, a new image of myself and what I could be wearing - and the places where I could be wearing it - could never fit into these stuffy old drawers and dusty old shelves. And once I have got some new clothes, say, for a fancy dinner party or a mountain hike - wouldn't opportunities and invitations to go to those places flow into my life with more ease, if I had the right outfit for it, if I could actually imagine myself being there and wearing it?


If your mind and body is so clogged up with this last season stuff, where are you going to get the inspiration and the space to step into the unknown, to discover your passion and hear your intuition? 


I feel like big changes are knocking on the door-step - changes I have been asking for, or have been wanting. For a while I wondered why are they taking so long? It's now so obvious. I need to dispose of all this old junk first, before I can let these opportunities in - or else, I will fall back into the same patterns, lose my confidence in the same way, and fail to recognise the opportunities that could take me into the direction of a life I really want to live.


The most effective healing


These are my personal ramblings, so an expert on healing may disagree, but it feels as though the most effective and fastest way of healing is one which incorporates MIND, BODY and SPIRIT.


I've often wondered why talk therapy doesn't work for everyone, why exercise fails to cure depression, why having fun with friends fails to make you more confident at work. 


I feel the answer is that all three of these areas - mind, body and spirit - need to work together, in order to attain a wholesome healing, restoring you to your natural state, free of all social conditioning and past trauma. If you see a therapist on a regular basis and really question why you are having certain reactions to certain situations, but at the same time engage in some physical activity AND take up some new hobbies, see old friends or take some time out to meditate, I feel that healing can be achieved faster than you may think, setting loose even deeply ingrained patterns. Here are a few ideas on mind/body/spirit healing exercises.



Healing the mind
Healing the body
Healing the spirit

Keeping a writing journal/diary

Dancing to express your emotions and suppressed feelings
Seeing friends/family/having a community
Questioning your beliefs
Any exercise that makes you sweat – or stretching
Taking a holiday – or a long tea break!
Practicing mindfulness and meditation
House work – cleaning, cooking etc
Hobbies – singing, crafts, painting, doodling
Talk therapy/seeing a counselor
Gardening or going for a walk
Spending time in nature


Balance between mind, body and spirit healing


An important thing to note here is balance. Spend too much time on your mind, analysing your feelings, and you may develop anxiety. Spend too much time on physical activity, and you may push your emotions ever further away and convince yourself that you are invincible and don't need help anymore. I find that meditation - even ten minutes a day - or yoga can help maintain a healthy balance.



Why are we so afraid of emotions?

Emotions can be scary - especially if you have a family to care for, a busy and responsible job to stay on top of, or a demanding social life. But when we push emotions away in order to get on with our day-to-day lives, we don't realise that we end up coping, and it's never the right time to heal. We are not thriving. There is a big difference.


Thriving means that you can go for the things you truly want, you can make active choices towards achieving them. Coping means settling for less - doing things in order to get by. And often blocked or neglected emotions are knocking on our door with only one purpose - healing. 


It becomes even more difficult to face our emotions if we associate them with shame and guilt - if we tell ourselves things like 'I'm not supposed to feel like this,' 'I'm overdramatising,' 'I shouldn't feel this way - I should be content with what I have.' It may feel like healing yourself is selfish, like you could be doing better things with your life, or that you are just going to end up dwelling on the same old problems without a hope of moving forward.


We often push emotions away because we believe they will harm us, if we set them loose, and we'll lose our jobs, friends and maybe even families. But when they come knocking on our door, it's with one purpose only - to heal. Not to drag us down into despair, not to make us lose everything we've worked so hard to get - but simply to heal. 


And if you heal today, you are more likely to bring happiness into the world - even just by ensuring that you don't ingrain the same old patterns you rooted out from your life, into your children and future family.


Healing is anything but selfish. 

But when we simply cope and try to get by, the right moment for healing never comes where we feel ready to surrender to them and simply let them be.  This article in Positive News sums it up pretty well - how surrendering to our most uncomfortable feelings and melting into them instead of trying to make plans to cope with their presence, paradoxically, will usually turn out to be the magic cure!


Healing as an ACTIVE choice


I never thought of healing as an active choice - I thought that people went through with it when they reached some overwhelming state in their life where they could no longer cope without seeking help. But most of us, I feel, scarcely ever recognise that we need help - especially in our technological age where distractions are so accessible.



We become addicted to distractions because they point us away from what is really going on inside of us and keeps the difficult feelings stuffed down. The wardrobe needs some airing out, some light and sunshine - and we don't even know it.


So where to begin? Following your intuition is probably the best advice. If you feel like you may need it - you probably need it. Healing can start with a simple choice to change your life, to invite new experiences in, have a desire to see new destinations, meet new people, have a different lifestyle, be more in control of your time and your life, or try something you always wanted to, but never had the courage or time to do. And perhaps after you've set that intention, healing will sneak up on you in the same way it snuck up on me. When it does, be ready to surrender to it.


In the words of Gabrielle Bernstein - 'trust in the healing path'.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Path to #enlightenment - step 5 of 10000000........ 'God, Religion and Spiritual Homelessness'

My friends have often applied the term ‘hobo’ when describing my musical tastes – if I like the sound of something, I will listen to it, despite what genre it comes under, just like a hobo wonders from one place to the next, never settling.

I like the epic sound of pagan folk and fantasy metal, the punch-like intimacy of grunge bands and the lyrical mastery of rap. But I also enjoy the positive vibe and energy that comes from top charts or some Christian pop and rock bands. And at certain points in my life I love to sit back, draw the curtains closed and switch off the world outside, letting classical music express my most intimate feelings or opera carry me to a different place. Despite the negative connotation of the term ‘hobo’, I actually think that my musical taste is enriched by the variety – each genre expresses a different emotion or guides me through a new stage in my life. Collectively, the genres inform my thinking and enrich my later creative endeavours.

By that definition, I’m also a bit of a ‘spiritual hobo’. I feel a deep connection to a supernatural force which I used to call ‘Dieviņš’ when I lived in Latvia, then changed his name to God when I moved to England at the age of fifteen. After going through some soul-searching, I don’t have a consistent name for IT any more, but on an intuitive level I have always felt that something larger than me exists, and I’ve often marvelled at the way IT seems to answer my most heart-felt prayers and that I am a miniature expression of IT.

To me, the different religions or spiritual interpretations around the world represent different languages or ‘genres’ of God, each trying to interpret IT in a way that they find most comfortable and easiest to understand.

In the early part of my twenties, I went through a bit of soul-searching. Much to my own regret, I put my trust into someone who professed to defend Christianity as the One True Religion. Following our frequent conversations, I began to attend church every Sunday, I tried to give The Bible priority over any other books I was reading. I began to mould theories about the world so that they fit with what’s written in The Bible. 

The brain has a remarkable capacity to change your subjective truth about the world, based on your beliefs, and to actually perceive it as the ultimate truth - slowly but surely, without even realising it myself, I was being brainwashed into defending a belief systems that was not truly my own. Deep down, I questioned whether Jesus would be so cruel as to send someone to hell just because they dared to ask if he really was the Son of God, and I felt an immense pressure to do all I can to make sure that people wouldn’t end up in there.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to diss Christianity or any other religion. I am fortunate to have friends from a variety of backgrounds, and religion has never been an issue in our friendship. What I’d like to do instead is propose the findings of my own search so far – to raise some of the issues with religion. I’d like to pose the question - why can’t we approach religion in the same way we approach other things? Namely – the more we learn about the diversity that exists, the better people we become.

Just like I enjoy the diversity of music genres, I like to marvel at religion. I think it’s incredible how the Islamic tradition where depictions of God are prohibited, led to the development of marvelous geometric patterns; I enjoy the philosophical quality of Hebrew books like Ecclesiastes or the Christian writings in the Gnostic Gospels; the mystical and metaphorical beauty of Hindu gods; the tranquil attitude towards life that many practicing Buddhists seem to maintain.

Religion is just another expression of human creative endeavour, and, just like music, art or any other creative form, it is countless and full of marvels. But why can’t different religions simply get on?

I find that one of the roots of these problems are the unquestioned motivations and needs that people have when they decide to join a particular religious group. We all have needs that need to be met, and some of these needs can be met by joining a certain religion. These reasons, most often, have nothing to do with the core message of a certain belief – more often than not, they are to do with your upbringing, how much attending a religious establishment was a part of your childhood routine, and what unresolved traumas you have experienced in life. It may be that religion offers a safe refuge from feeling like an outsider in the society, creates a sense of a family where someone has lost their own, or enables someone to express themselves creatively. These are all perfectly legitimate needs, and religion can be one way of meeting to meeting them without necessarily becoming problematic.

The reason I believe they do sometimes cause problems is because many people, myself included, are not actually aware what their needs or unresolved issues are, and are equally unaware that joining a religious group is a way of meeting those needs

And there are some needs that are best met somewhere else – for example, for someone who has a need for attention or an obsession to be applauded for being right, religion can quickly lead down a dark alleyway where it becomes an excuse to feel and act superior to others who don’t belong to that religion.

Another major problem with religion arises when people try to impose their view of God onto others. I say this, because this is what I once used to do, believing that I was doing God a service. What I didn’t realise at the time was that my desire to buy into that religion had little to do with the message of salvation. It was to do with my own past experiences, my own upbringing, my personality, my unresolved issues and insecurities. That’s why I think addressing the first problem could go a long way in resolving this second problem.

The third major problem is that most religions come with a holy text/-s which can’t really be questioned.

When I was devoutly religious, I felt like someone living in a totalitarian state where I was allowed to maintain the illusion that I could question this text, but never to its full extent. But no text should hold authority over our own inner moral compass.

My biggest issue with religious structures, and one of the reasons that I eventually stopped attending church, was that I often felt as though I am not allowed to properly question the religious leaders or the holy texts themselves, even if parts of their speech/text don’t agree with my own inner moral compass. Paradoxically but unsurprisingly, the preachers who were most humble about the way they examined a passage from the scripture, without claiming to have the ultimate truth, seemed to get furthest in their examination and many of their teachings really made me think, and have still stuck with me today, aiding me into questioning my morality. I feel as though developing that set of moral values is of utmost importance in a person’s life, and a life’s work – and the only way to develop it is by questioning, challenging and learning from mistakes. Even though I do believe in God, this is where I applaud the atheists – from those I have met in my life, most have had a strong sense of an inner moral compass without referring to a holy text as a guide.

I am fully aware of the paradox of this statement but I can’t help but feel that God would only be proud of many atheists, seeing that humanity has come such a long way that it no longer needs a manual in order for someone to strive to live a good and moral life.


My spiritual search has left me thirsting for more. I feel I will forever be student of religion without being religious myself. That’s not to say I’m not spiritual – in fact, I often feel the need to pray, meditate or sometimes I have an unexplainable urge to simply worship that SOMETHING. But when I do this, I don’t feel the need to call God by one specific name – sometimes my affection will be directed at the image of Jesus, other times at Shiva, and others still I will feel a natural connection with the feminine aspects of God.

Just like listening to the various musical genres gives me a greater appreciation for music, similarly studying about the different forms of religious expression, gives me a greater appreciation for God.  

I feel as though every religion can reveal a new aspect of God and his universal nature. Finding out as much as possible about various religions and ways of worship, to me represents a desire to know all aspects of God on an intimate level.

On the surface, it may appear like we all have irreconcilable differences, especially if they are presented through the lens of religion or culture, but we are all basically the same. I don’t think that being a 'spiritual hobo' is a bad thing at all – I think it’s actually rather beautiful to construct God’s image, piece by piece, hoping that one day you’ll be able to marvel at the full picture.



Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Path to #enlightenment - step 4 of 10000000........ 'Impermanence and Happiness'

For a while I've been trying to balance my curiosity at finding more about enlightenment with the fear of losing a sense of a meaning and a purpose, if I do accidentally stumble upon 'the ultimate truth of all there is'.



Like Steven Norquist has said in his essay What is Enlightenment: "You see, with enlightenment comes the knowledge that even though there is much activity in the world, there are no doers.The universe is, in a sense, lifeless. There is no one, only happenings and the experience of happenings." I fear that realising this will make me unable to take action. If life is impermanent and no one is actively contributing to the bigger picture - rather, the picture contributes to itself -  then nothing we do really does matter that much. 

The bright side of the impermanence coin

But what I have recently come  to realise is that the coin of impermanence has two sides, and, whether you consider yourself to be enlightened or not, your experience in life is likely to depend on which side you choose to play. 

One of these sides is sure to lead you down a path of apathy, at its best, or deep despair, at its worst. I imagine it would be something like Norquist describes happening when he began to perceive the truth of existence: "I was an avid reader but now can barely open up a book. I loved and played the guitar for years but now have zero interest in picking one up. Even writing these few words is a colossal effort." But does it really have to be this way? 

The other side of the impermanence coin could, potentially, give you true freedom by allowing you to treat your life as a playground rather than some serious business. 

If you removed the need for success and money (very serious attributes - we all have bills to pay and so on) and instead focused on doing things that contribute to your happiness - wouldn't you live a truly rich, fulfilled life by simply enjoying and experiencing each moment as it happens?

The cyclical nature of time

I quit my full-time job a few months ago, and since then my routine has been a constant struggle with getting to grips with a new freelancer lifestyle, often condemning myself that I have not been doing enough in order to earn as much money as I could have done. Eventually though, I somehow make up for the 'lost hours' the moment I stop worrying about them. 

What's more, recently I have found liberation in the idea that time as a concept doesn't exist - instead of following a linear pattern, it goes on in endless cycles. Days follow a cyclical pattern, as do the seasons, one moment to the next, always transforming, but not necessarily progressing anywhere. The fact that today is the 5th of April, 2016 serves only the purpose of ensuring that we all use the same system to measure time and therefore makes it easier to make arrangements. But it's not really 2016 - I feel that it's more true to say that we live in a kind of time vacuum. 

We are not evolving towards anything. Even aging is not a straight narrative. You are simply changing, and things don't end with death like our society tells us - death, to me, seems like a passage into another existence, yet another transformation. 

Just because we are unable to perceive it from our limited perspective, does not mean that it is necessarily something terrible. And eternity itself may be at our fingertips - maybe the way to experience it is by fully immersing yourself in the present moment.

Life as a playground

Because nothing, except the present moment, matters or even exists - and because even that present moment does not matter a great deal in the big frame of things, we have the freedom to regard life as a playground. 

I would like to quote here one of my favourite spiritual writings, The Book of Ecclesiastes, allegedly written by King Solomon who, despite the riches, women and power he is said to have enjoyed in his long life, lamented it as meaningless. "So I loathed all the fruit of my effort, for which I worked so hard on earth, because I must leave it behind in the hands of my successor. Who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool?"

No matter how hard you labor away at a certain task; no matter how hard you work in a certain job - whether you are there for two years, ten years or your whole life - the truth is that your job will eventually be handed over to someone else, and they may not share the same passion for it, or may have very different ideas to yours. 

Everything you do, all your ideas, may disappear from the face of the Earth within a measly hundred years. 


Source www.zenthinking.net 

















This is most profoundly obvious if you look at gravestones in a graveyard - stones that were so beautifully crafted and erected only 200 years ago are so decayed that they are barely legible. The memory of those people who once lived, which they tried to preserve so carefully, has disappeared completely. Although you may at first be appalled by this statement and want to run as far as possible from the thought that the same is likely to happen to you, I ask you to stay with me and consider this idea from the bright side of the impermanence coin. How much weight you can lift off your shoulders if you remember that your work will one day be handed over to someone else, so you should only do as much as feels good.

Remembering that all my efforts in life are essentially futile, gives me a greater allowance to do whatever the hell I want to do (of course, so long as it doesn't involve hurting others). Any 'mistake' I make really isn't a big deal, and I can begin to choose to dedicate my energy towards something that I like, even if it does not come with the stamp of 'success' or 'promotion'.

Ready for a fun challenge?

Because of this new knowledge, I am going to set myself a challenge to start each day by doing that which makes me most happy. Instead of answering emails, I will start my day by writing a little or painting or even just making out! Ultimately, if life is impermanent, then doing something that makes me happy is no less important than doing a task for the sake of earning money or a chore I've been putting off for ages. 

Starting your day by putting the action which you most enjoy at the forefront, in the framework of impermanence, simply seems like the sane choice.

What is your thing that you love doing above all others? Make it a priority and join me in this challenge - start your day by prioritising what makes you happy. I would love to find out what difference that makes in your life - share your experience in the comments!

Friday, 5 February 2016

BalticSeaTreasures - open for business @Etsy #happy

As someone with no experience in sales whatsoever, trying to sell someone else's art is surely going to be a steep learning curve. But I intend to supplement my inexperience with inexhaustible supply of passion for promoting all talented and creative individuals out there. 

People should paid for what they love doing in life, so that they can buy themselves time to create more amazing things and contribute to the well-being of our lovely planet by generating long-term happy vibes! If you are on the same page with that message, and you like what you see, go ahead and have a browse on the shop :)



All these lovely pieces are made by one of my good friend's Mum all the way in Latvia who is now retired and has time to dedicate to her art. All made of authentic Baltic Sea stones which she has delicately put together in a true labor of love. Other materials include recycled bottles, wood and glass. Items also available to be made to order (please allow 1 month for completion).

Depending where in the UK you live, you may even be in store for a FREE, personal delivery service!

If you like what you see but it's not quite for you, please do like and share the shop on your social media networks - you will be doing your bit in promoting creative individuals and helping uncover all those sublime ideas currently locked away in their magnificent brain!

Thanks for reading!

Ieva




Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Flash fiction for your #commute!

The Path, she realised, The Path of the Universe, was the same as the path of each human being. If it was a moderate, just and righteous path, then the Universe would uncover it  before her. If, however, the Path was dark and full of fears and doubts about which turning to take, such appeared the Universe.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Path to #enlightenment - step 3 of 10000000........ 'De-cluttering Emotions'

Following a request from a reader after my previous blog post (how exciting!) I am continuing with the theme of de-cluttering your emotions.


But first - why do it? Why delve into the past, why waste time ripping open old wounds? Why not just forget the past and move forwards? 


I suppose that anyone who feels like they need to go through this process already has their own reason for doing so. Although for me this process began somewhat unconsciously, I soon realised that pushing away the negative feelings attached to my own past was precisely the thing that was keeping me from moving forwards to a life that I wanted for myself. I did this to release old beliefs, old emotional blocks - anything that was holding me back from moving onto new things in the new year.

If you are still reading at this point, it probably means that you want to release some blocked emotions, too. But where do you even start? That's what someone asked me after reading the previous post. Based on my own experience, I have come up with these 13 tips that might help you on your own inner journey.


1. MEDITATE

Even for ten minutes a day. It will be hard and boring, and annoying at first. But sit through it. You will grow to love it, and it will give you such clarity as never before. I really think that meditation kick-started my own process of de-cluttering because it trains the mind to notice the thoughts which you are having, rather than always react to them.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS

Dealing with your emotions can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so, before you begin with this process, you really need to know your needs and make sure you can meet them. You can't change your needs, you can only accept them. I know I have a need for comfort and close, emotionally supportive relationships, so I gave myself allowance to eat junk food and ask my closest friends for help and advice. If you don't know what your needs are, I recommend watching this video by Teal Swan. The next tip should also help you identify your needs, if you don't know what they are yet.

3. 'WHAT WOULD SOMEONE WHO LOVED THEMSELVES DO?'

This is a method I picked up later on, when I stumbled across Teal Swan's teachings on Youtube (more on that - and why I'm quoting her so much - later). Our intuitive mind knows a lot more than our rational mind does. To tune into it when you have to make a decision, simply ask yourself 'What would someone who loved themselves do?' The first thing that springs to mind is the answer. If no clear answer comes, it means that you don't have to make a decision at this given moment. It's a practice that helps you recognise your intuition and discover self-worth. This video explains it more fully. 

I think that this method can be quite handy when you are going through the de-cluttering process because one side of the brain might tell you to clean up your mess right now, while the other will say to just let go, that it's fine to be in a state of chaos for a while. It's quite likely that one of the answers comes from your social conditioning, while the other comes from an authentic source - you. 

4. TAKE THE TIME OFF - OR START RIGHT NOW


I don't know if this process of de-cluttering your emotions can really be planned for. Looking back on it now, for me things began to shift about 6 months before I reached this point - with the practice of meditation. And following various events, decisions and people that I met since, life arranged itself in a way that I had about two weeks off work to mope around and go through all of my belongings and emotions. If it feels like the right time for you, and you can take the time off work or studies, then do it. But make sure it's not a covert way of delaying the process.


5. NOTICE YOUR FEELINGS AND REACTIONS

Much has been reported about repressed memories - a lot of arguments for and against them. I would not have believed that they exist before uncovering some of my own. And, once you uncover these memories, they can shake your whole identity. But they also make you feel at home. Because a lot of your behavior patterns finally make sense. And, once they make sense, you can do something about changing these patterns. But how do you get to those repressed memories?

I think that a good starting point is looking at your own feelings and reactions to certain situations, and questioning them. More accurately - look at the most extreme, shameful or embarrassing feelings and thoughts that you have - the ones you would never admit to anyone in a million years. Without passing any judgement, ask yourself why you have these feelings and thoughts. We are all born like blank sheets of paper, completely innocent, and then various people engrave certain behaviours and thoughts in us. So these feelings and thoughts have an external cause. Your innocence - that blank sheet of paper - is always within you. You can always reclaim it. That's partly what this process is about.

6. TRUST YOURSELF

I really can't stress enough the importance of this point. This is why it is a good idea to just be by yourself for a while, especially when your feelings are raw and you are vulnerable. Some things that you unearth in this process can be quite disturbing, and you might start to doubt yourself, especially if you have no actual memory of those things happening to you. But your mind already knows all the answers, and the more you question your feelings, the more it will bring those answers to the surface. The fact that you are wondering whether certain things happened to you or not, is already a big clue.

7. HAVE A TEACHER

I read somewhere that when a student is ready, a teacher arrives in their life. Most people in our lives are teachers, if only we stop resisting the idea of how events should unfold in our life and instead we let them be, and notice the lessons that the people around us can teach us. Before I reached my own 'emotional de-clutettering' state, I met people who had new ideas and perspectives. I was introduced to Byron Katie's work, I came across some cool people online, like Jannecke Øinæs and my natural interest in Buddhism was re-ignited. And while I was going through my emotions, I stumbled upon Teal Swan's teachings on Youtube. For some reason, every video she had simply resonated with me, as if she was actually there, helping me through the process, which is why I have quoted her so many times.

But beware - there's a lot of ideas out there, and a lot of people who want to manipulate others to convince everyone that their view of the world is the only correct view. So only listen to teachers who make sense to you, resonate with you and your values. 

8. WRITE AN ANGRY LETTER TO GOD

For me, this is where it all really came out. And from that moment, I've felt a much deeper connection to God. Whether you believe in God or not, this practice is really worth doing, because you realise just how much of what you think about His judgement systems are qualities that you have attributed to people from your past, especially your parents. And, once you get all that out, you have so much more clarity - you feel connected to this source which I call God, and it's like you've never encountered Him before. To find out more about this method, watch this video by Teal Swan.




9. HYBERNATE

If you need to. Live in a mess, if you need to. For me, the process felt much like having a cold or a flu. I felt weak and physically drained, at times it seemed that things would never get better, like I'd never get out of this place, like I'd opened a can of worms. But it's fine. You're healing. The quicker you accept your feelings instead of resisting them, the quicker you will heal.

10. TALK TO FRIENDS

You will probably need time by yourself to understand what has happened in your past, and come to terms with it. But I think it's also important that, after all this, you are not alone. Talk to friends about what you're going through. But it's really important that you talk to friends who won't judge or dispute you - friends who will just listen and offer their support. I think it can be really detrimental to this process and your well-being if someone starts to argue against it, or says you shouldn't feel like this or that, or you should just forget the past and move on. Pick your friends very carefully. It may be that your most intimate friends have experienced similar things in their past, so they will not only be able to understand, but also to relate to you.

11. DON'T CONTACT PEOPLE FROM YOUR PAST

You may have an urge to contact all the people who are brought to your attention while you go through this process. Either to get angry at them for doing something harmful to you, or to tell someone that you're sorry for your actions. But I just think that it's not fair to bring up painful feelings in others simply because you are going through this process. However, I also accept the idea that an inspired action is worth taking, so if you have a surge of positive inspiration to contact someone from your past, then perhaps you should. In the first instance though, take a notebook and a pen and write a letter to that person first - without the intention of sending it. Get it all out. Read it back, leave it for a day and you may feel like this is enough to let go of the feelings related to that person.


12. REMEMBER THAT THIS STATE IS ONLY TEMPORARY

There is light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's best to forget this while you are dealing with your emotions, but if you get stuck in a place where you think that nothing will ever improve, then it is worth remembering that the reason you are doing this, the reason why your intuition has led you to this process at this given moment, is because there are big changes coming your way - really positive changes. You can't receive something good, while all that negative stuff is claiming its rightful space. Sonia Ricotti's teachings on this topic have really struck cord with me. She has a free e-book that I recommend.

13. DEAL WITH THE PHYSICAL CLUTTER

When you are ready, start to bring chaos back into order again. I definitely wish I'd read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo before I started tidying my flat. I only tried her method on my collection of books. It's simple. You just get all the books out on the floor, in one big pile, and touch each one without reading it. If you feel joy as you touch it - keep it. If it does not - you discard it (or give it to a charity shop!) It was so quick and easy to tidy this way, and left me feeling very light. But make sure you are using this method after you've dealt with your emotions because you may have some mementos or items that you can use in order to connect to a negative feeling from the past. Throwing them away before you've dealt with the feeling can be a way of resisting the process. Once you've dealt with a particular feeling, the item will no longer feel as precious, and you'll be able to let it go.




A final note...

If you uncover something dark through this process, then it is easy to either see yourself as a survivor or a victim. But I don't think that either of those states do much good, because they are like labels, and if you apply any label to yourself, then you can end up taking actions that you believe people who fit this label should take. 


You are you, in this moment, completely authentic, every cell in your body is different. What happened in the past is no longer true. It is a memory which you are simply observing, unleashing and letting go in order to move forward to bigger and brighter things. 

Best of luck and share your comments! 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Simple Pleasures

Finally indulged in something I haven't been able to do for a while.

And - since Youtube was playing David Bowie's songs the whole time, let this amateur piece be humbly dedicated to him...

Chalk pastels

Original photo - Latvian skies