It's time to take a break from writing in this blog. Writing is my own favourite form of therapy, of getting to grips with whatever sort of person I feel I am or rather should be. I believe now, as I'm fifty years of age, that my personality is always in the making - it's an on-going personal project. What I am is what I am becoming, if you get my meaning. I have always loved the word "open." A child is open to the world and all the possibilities that lie before him or her. Unfortunately, through encounters with the "unfeeling" world of reality he or she soon learns to wear masks of all types - in other words to be "closed" to the essence of life in varying degrees. As one progresses in self-knowledge, one realises that one has to do a huge amount of un-learning.
So being "open" is the essence of growth - the essence of harnessing all that personal potential. Here, I'd like to bring this little series on "Peeling away the Layers" to some sort of conclusion.
A Preliminary Exercise:
Okay, right now you are seated before your computer - fully open to the many distractions of the seemingly infinite world of information right at your fingertips. To attempt to comprehend this gigantic body of information bites in all its complexity and totality would be unnerving. Forget it all for the moment. Just close your eyes. Become aware of your body. Where are the stresses or pains or twitches or whatever sensations in your body right now? Attend to your shoulder and neck muscles. If there is any tension there imagine it flowing gently out and down your arms and out through your fingers. Attend to your spine and the way you are sitting on your seat. Become aware of your breath. Notice the colder air as you breathe in through your nostrils and the warmer air as you breathe out through your mouth. Sense what it is like to be a living and breathing creature. Become aware of your creaturely-ness as it were. Become aware of the animal or creature that is you. We are after all members of the Animal Kingdom. Also become aware of your feelings and emotions. How are you feeling. Are you suppressing anger, pain, grief or envy at this time? Is there some other emotion which wants expression. Emotions are good. Remember emotions are "e-motions" - they need to be moved or expressed not locked in or blocked. See is there any feeling you can get in touch with. Allow it to say something to your body. Now try to let go of all those thoughts, one by one. Don't try to evict them immediately. Just become aware of them one by one and bid them goodbye. That's it. All is done nice and easily. Let go and let life be in you. Remain in your quietened position for about 10 minutes.
Being Rooted in the Self:
Now that you have got in touch with what is termed the Body-Mind, I call that awareness you have achieved a sense of being rooted in the Self - your real Self - not any old sham self, or self-image self but the Real Self (Carl Rogers) or the Self-Worth Self (Tony Humphreys).
(1) Real love is unconditional love for the Self, for the Real Self. This is no ego love. In fact it is the absolute opposite. There is no posing here; no need for striking postures; no need for wearing masks; no need for pretence; no need for mind games or any type of games. There is just the purity of being wholly and essentially you; wholly and essentially the Real Self. In this mode you accept yourself as you are in all your raw and naked reality; in all the truth of your own childhood innocence and trust in and openness to the world. You do not say - I'll love my Self if I achieve top grades or this or that job or have this or that type of car, or this or that type of relationship. You even love yourself in your very flawed-ness; in all your weaknesses and fragmentation and disintegration seeking always to heal the broken and jagged bits of self and integrate them into the Real Self.
(2) Unconditional Love for Others: This is the only love worth taking about. All others are sham loves - tawdry impostors of the real thing. This is a love that does not place conditions of any type for its existence. It is never cross or irritable. It does not withdraw its affection because of some mistake or mishap. It does not over-protect. It is a love which rears children to let them go. Once a little fledgling is able to fly and take care of itself, it's time for freedom. Love knows that it can only protect it's object from realistic dangers, not from every inevitable evil. It does not seek for relationships where the other is going to be totally dependent on it. It cherishes the independence of its beloved. It realises too well that all love is free; so free that it breaks all bonds of dependence and control. Love flourishes in freedom and in freedom alone. It loves the beloved even though the beloved has hurt the lover. Unconditional love never compares one child with another or one lover with another; for it cherishes the beloved in all his or her strengths and weaknesses. Unconditional love does not place demands on the loved object or the beloved. Unconditional love allows the beloved to fly free if that's what's called for at that point in the relationship.
(3) Growing in the Wisdom of Years:
Here I would like to quote what I consider the most wonderful and wise quotation I ever heard about growing up. I have quoted it on my Facebook Profile. It goes thus:
The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise. -Aiden Nowlan
Just go through your life now for a few moments. Every child thinks his father and mother are tantamount to gods. Daddy for the young child is all-powerful. Then, when he or she grows into adolescence they learn that daddy is all too human. He gets angry, often loses the plot. He does not always give them what they want. In fact he, too, gets sick and can be very cranky - he may even leave mammy. In fact both daddy and mammy are very imperfect human beings. This is shocking for the adolescent, but it is real. Eventually, the young person grows in self-knowledge and becomes an adult and realises that he or she make mistakes and blunders, too. Now they begin to forgive their parents and other adults for their perceived and real offences. Then, I like the last piece of this fantastic wisdom. Eventually as they grow into further adulthood they learn to forgive themselves. This is no easy task. Having worked in various forms of counselling over the last ten years or so, and having lived life as reflectively as possible, the forgiving of oneself can be the hardest task of all. If you let someone down badly, and even if they forgive you, can you go on to forgive yourself?
When I was young I used to think that forgiveness was an act you did for someone else solely. In fact, through lived experience, I now realise that it is essentially an act one does for oneself - an integrating act for one's own self-healing, for the integration of all the jagged bits of painful existence into the Real Self. Of course, I admit, it does help the person "forgiven" to move on, too. But forgiveness is both directed to the healing of the Self and the Other.
Growth is always Painful:
Just look at nature. We belong to nature, to life that has sprung up from planet Earth. Mother Gaia is a bountiful mother where growth happens in cycles. Plants grow, bear seed and scatter them to the four winds, then die and the whole cycle begins again. So also is it with animal life. As we are part of the Animal Kingdom, so is it with us. To live means to die. In fact, think about it here and now - if you are living, then ergo you are dying. The very concept of dying is contained within the concept of living. You simply cannot have one without the other. When I reflect on this philosophical statement death never seems to be that bad after all. As one of my colleagues wisely puts it: "I don't mind growing old - because it means that I am not dead... yet!" What wisdom and he's a mathematician and computer buff, but a wise one. I love my chats with him. Another piece of wisdom from this man - when a very young colleague of ours burst into tears after some pupils had badly scratched the the newly-sealed wooden floor of the school hall - was the wonderful Biblical quip: "This, too, will pass!" How right he was/is.
Likewise with our own growth - it is painful. Call these pains "growing pains." If you are worried or fretting or regretting - well, it's all part of our human lot. We learn wisdom through our mistakes, and by definition mistakes are painful and pain-causing. Another quote, often used in sporting circles is the quip - "No pain, No Gain!" Also how true this is. Now, that you're in pain, do something about it. If you have a physical pain you react immediately and do something about it. Yet, if you're in emotional pain, you just might not do anything at all about it! How foolish you are! Go out and talk to someone. Tell someone you're sorry. Go weep on someone's shoulder. Do a small act of kindness. Go and get help from a friend or a counsellor or therapist. Reach out to others. Don't go it alone. Tell someone you love them. Smile, laugh or cry. Treasure your emotions - express them. You won't be sorry. In fact, you'll be all the healthier for it.
This marks the end, for some time, of this blog as I wish to write more in Irish and Italian. I may come back sooner. It all depends on whether I need to write more in English. If you have read these posts, thank you for doing so. If you have just dropped by and paused and then gone elsewhere, thanks for dropping in! Beannacht leat a Scríbhinn.
I have uploaded above a picture of me when I was roughly 7 or thereabouts. The young boy in the picture was always full of life. He never dreamed that someday he would become this creatuire that has written these posts! He never dreamed that life was essentially such a promise of potential and such a mystery of the entanglement of good and evil. He has long since grown up but has never forgotten the wonderful world of his long lost innocence.