Seeking happiness

I met up with a fairly new friend for lunch, who I met through a spirituality group, I used to attend. I asked her how long she’s been a seeker. After giving it a bit of thought she replied, “probably most of my life”. She went on to explain that she wasn’t necessarily a spiritual seeker, but a seeker all the same. This made perfect sense to me, because for me too, I’d probably been a seeker most of my life. Searching for happiness in different places.

Early on in my life when the relationships I had with my family didn’t provide me with the love and happiness I needed, I went looking for it elsewhere. It was mainly through friendships and relationships, but also through many other pursuits like knowledge, experiences, travelling, success etc. The search started outwardly with worldly things and even though it was fun for a period of time, it didn’t seem to provide lasting satisfaction, and eventually that empty hollow feeling would return. When all avenues were explored and I was exhausted, the search went from external things in the world to the subtle internal world. I started looking inwardly at self improvement, with the hope of achieving certain feelings through the self help scene, hypnotherapy, buddhism with the aim of being positive, peaceful happy. But this didn’t seem to work either as inevitably the perceived “negative feelings” would ultimately follow.

Eventually, after the teaching of non-duality seemed to serendipitously come into my life, and after a couple of year of going weekly meetings and hanging out with a friend/teacher, the realisation came that seeking happiness was pointless. Nothing could provide lasting happiness. Things could provide a temporary hit of happiness, but eventually this would fade. With this realisation, the only thing left was what was here and now. The understanding of why happiness was sought as a way of escaping painful feelings was also seen.

Escaping pain, in pursuit of happiness.

How many of us do this? We do it all the time. It’s probably one of the biggest causes of addiction. Addiction to food, alcohol, sex, money, exercise, work, relationships, doing, thinking and even spirituality. Just because we want to escape uncomfortable feelings.

Once I acknowledged this and allowed the pain to be, I got insights into the thoughts behind the pain. For me, these thoughts had a lot to do with my fear of rejection, being unworthy, being misunderstood. Thoughts that I really didn’t have conscious knowledge of before, but were causing so much mischief. There was a complete denial of these thoughts, and instead a pretence of being fine and not needing anyone. This in turn caused me to experience the very thought I was trying to escape from. Pushing people away, isolating myself leading to more pain and feelings of worthlessness and being misunderstood. It was a self fulfilling prophecy. This was creating a chasm between what I was portraying on the outside and feeling on the inside causing suffering and depression.  When these thoughts were seen for what they were, the accompanying pain could also to be felt and acknowledged. With this there was great healing. This for the first time was honesty, authenticity and vulnerability. The ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ matched. In fact, the was no inside or outside. There was just thought causing separation.

There was no longer the need to seek escape from these uncomfortable feeling in search of something else. Slowly my confidence grew and there was a trust in allowing the truth of things to be as they are. Whatever comes up, it’s fine.

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Precious Impermanence

That which one perceives.

First arrives, later leaves.

Precious impermanence.

The calm and the turbulence.

The nature of all that we wish.

May come to fruition, then finish.

The external comes and goes.

The internal ebbs and flows.

Simple awareness of what is.

Shows the emptiness of all this.

Eventually everything wanes.

Simply nothing remains.

 

Coping Strategies

Sad, I cope

Happy, I hope

Fear, I cope

Brave, I hope

Anger, I cope

Peace, I hope

Loneliness, I cope

Love, I hope

Remove strategies for coping.

Which just leave desperate hoping.

Stop ascribing meanings to the feeling.

Through thoughts that prevent healing.

Instead become aware of natural intelligence at play.

Watch life’s sensations gently guide the way.

Misunderstood

I’m separate, misunderstood.
That’s what you claim.
Unbeknown to you.
The other feels the same.
Causing isolation.
This divisive thought.
Causing duality.
Suffering so fraught.
All individual doers.
Don’t believe this story
Instead become aware.
Of interconnected glory.
Like each ocean wave.
Uniquely made of water same.
Each one, rising and falling.
Taking neither pride nor blame.

Shadows

Shine the light of awareness on scary uncomfortable shadows.

Distorted expressions due to a lifetime of repression.

With love, compassion and patience.

Watch them transform
into the most beautiful silhouettes ever seen.

The shape of water

I watched the shape of water recently. In the film a mute woman falls in love with a fish-man found in the Amazon, where it was worshipped as a God.

In a review of the film found here it says, “The Shape of Water is a film about the kind of love in which we both abandon ourselves and discover our true selves in the same moment”.

My spiritual journey can be described like this. In my seeking I found the kind of love in which I abandoned myself and discovered my true self.

Only this love wasn’t for another person or thing. It was always here but hidden, and slowly as the layers of beliefs that I thought kept me secure and safe for so long peeled away, the love that is became apparent. With this came immense healing.

It was at this point the search for love and happiness also stopped, because of the realisation of its presence always being here, there and everywhere.

The film concluded with a beautiful poem which deeply resonated.

“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere”.

It reminds me of a poem I’d written describing my spiritual journey, which actually formed a small part of an almost a life long search for love and happiness. The internal spiritual journey began when all external pursuits of pleasure had been exhausted.

I love you.
But where are you?
I searched everywhere.
High and low.
Far and wide.
No stone left unturned.
I tried it all.
I can’t find you.
I’m losing my mind.
And now I fear….
I’m disappearing too.
No I.
Nor you.
What’s left?
Love………I guess?

In summary, the shape of water was the ultimate love story for me. The story ends by taking the character right back to the beginning. At the beginning she is suspended in a wonderful dream, and at the end of the story she is living her dream. Similarly, my search for happiness and love went full circle and ended with the very thing I was seeking.

Seeking

Seeking in all the wrong places

For happiness

in all kinds of spaces.

Outside.

Inside.

Everywhere.

Eventually exhausted.

Confusion descends.

Nowhere left to turn.

No one left to help.

Nothing left to do.

But surrender to a God

that may not exist.

What should be done?

The instructions came

from deep within.

Be silent

in your speech.

Be silent

in your thoughts.

Be silent

in your actions.

The confusion clears

Exposing

the peace that’s here.

The wisdom of children

My daughters are a constant source of wonder, love and inspiration for me. I adore being a mum, even though it can sometimes be challenging. From the moment they came out of my body, I fell deeply in love.

For me, calling them MY daughters is even going a step too far. They don’t really belong to me. They are precious little people I’ve been given the honour to grow, birth and look after, until the day they can look after themselves. In that time, hopefully, I can help them develop skills to go out into the world independently. Until that day comes, I cherish the time I have with them.

Once, whilst they were playing, I remember watching them and saying to a good friend (who interestingly went on to become my spiritual teacher), “I hope I don’t mess them up”. The response he gave still rings loudly in my ears, “Don’t worry about them. Sort yourself out”. It was one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve been given so far.

I now understand how easy it is to inadvertently pass on our unhealthy patterns and issues to our children. Conditioned by our own parents and society, the cycle of suffering inevitably continues. Becoming aware of my own patterns through spirituality and psychotherapy, was one of the best things that happened. In turn, helping me navigate through motherhood, family life and life in general, with much more ease.

Although our daughters are constantly watching and learning from my husband and I, they have also been my greatest teachers. They continuously share their wisdom through our day to day interactions.

Here are two sweet conversations I had with each of my daughters.

Conversation below with my oldest daughter, Ariya (when she was 6), one evening just before bedtime. 

Ariya- Mummy I don’t want you to die. I want us to be together forever…….I don’t want Daddy and Saoirse (little sister) to die. I want us to be together forever.

Me-Well darling, I’m not sure we can do anything about that. But is there anything we can do?

Ariya- Enjoy the love we have now.

Conversation with my youngest daughter, Saoirse (when she was 4), while we were playing.

Me- Who made you this cute?

Saoirse- God.

Me- How do you know that?

Saoirse- I just know!

Me- What do you think God is?

Saoirse- Love.

The memory of these conversation still makes me smile, my heart warm and leaves me slightly in awe of their wisdom.