When it comes to the interactions, things turn even more vague. Giving way to a cyclist or holding the door for someone may just feel like the right thing to do at the time, but ultimately, they are small but important acts of kindness that make someone’s day that little bit more enjoyable. Being the giver may leave a small seed of joy in service for a while. Being at the receiving end of such attention may feel ambiguous to many. Holding the door for a woman is often seen as sexist behaviour and outright refused. Holding the door for a man seems to elicit surprise most of the time. To me, it’s just giving a helping hand when I see it’s necessary. Nothing more, nothing less.
What does this have to do with ‘love’? Well, I’d like to see love as something very vast and vague at the same time. Forget about love = romance for a moment and let’s consider different equations: love = consideration, love = support or love = connection. I’m sure you can come up with different forms of love altogether that make sense to you. Many such forms of love can lead to giving love to someone, but will they be aware of it?
That brings us to the REAL issue: can we receive love if it takes so many shapes that it’s often hard to even be aware of it being given? Maybe it’s necessary to open our hearts to more than just one vibration of love, that ‘one love’ we all seem to be looking for! There are so many ways to express love we are aware of, why would we expect that love to come back in only one single form? Of course it won’t.
I’m ‘guilty’ of the same thing: not recognising love when it comes my way. And I have decided to open up all my senses so I can register when it hits me from all kinds of angles, in all manner of situations, and then accept it fully and bask in it for a moment. That’s not to say I’ll change overnight – and neither will any of you – but keeping the sensors open increases the chance of love being able to make a difference in me. And in you.
And just like that, kindness really is present in anyone, but it sometimes needs a bit of a wakeup call to become more pronounced. That may be the realisation that someone did something for you when you were unable to do so, or witnessing another person being helped or giving assistance. Those moments make us realise that there is more to life than looking out for yourself, although that IS an important element in life, too.
Kindness is closely linked with the concept of humility. Being humble allows you to extend a hand to those in need, without the expectation of being given something in return. Rarely has the saying “a good deed is reward in itself” been more true: being kind to someone just like that has an infinite potential to make you feel better and happier yourself. It’s one of the few moments where through your actions you give yourself a pat on the back at the same time, without even realising you are doing it.
The effect is instantaneous: you will feel better about yourself. At the same time, being kind to others is a perfect recipe to overcome worries of your own. That little injection of positive energy is going to put issues in your own life into perspective. That insurmountable problem you faced may just look a little less daunting in light of the problems of that other person. The amazing thing is this: kindness increases not just from receiving it, but also from giving it!
Kindness doesn’t cost you anything, but it will change your mindset before, during and after the act. You may have heard the term ‘karma points’ that you can gain from such actions. I dislike the transactional nature of this saying, but I do acknowledge the effect to some level: it doesn’t matter if you believe in karma, you will be changed in some minute way by each act of kindness.
That change comes in many shapes and sizes: maybe it’s a buzz from being there for your friends, a sense of achievement from helping with a chore you weren’t sure you could do, or a learning experience from holding someone’s hand when they needed it. The notion of ‘karma points’ implies you can exchange those for something else, but ultimately you’re not paying into a savings account here: being kind instils kindness in others who may just pay it forward in some other form.
Next time you get a chance to show kindness, just do it. Don't hesitate to be good.
Similarly, envy tends to come up when someone owns something you desire, making you feel like you are not trying enough. Sadly, that guy with the big shiny car only has that one thing to show off and present an image of success, while at the same time he starves himself to death in order to pay off that same car that is far above his pay grade.
What many of us don’t realise: the image someone presents is often nothing more than that: an image they project for their own internal reasons. The trouble starts when envy sets in at the receiving end of that image, because we take everything that is presented at face value, without wanting or being in a position to question what is being shown. And that leads to envy over something that is – more often than not – far from real.
That build-up of envy also points towards an internal process within ourselves: we desire something that others present as desirable, but do we really want or need this thing? Are we being led to assume that we do, or is it a real desire? One way out of envy is simple: find out what you REALLY desire and stop being envious of anything else that may not even be on your Christmas list to start with.
The same applies to conscious sensuality, of course. We often see people engage in ways we cannot wait to experience, and we get envious because it doesn’t ever quite happen in that way for us. I have found that it’s wiser to let go of such expectation and stick with what comes, what you already have, and what makes sense for you. That big car may be just as much of a burden for you, that thoughtful caress may come with verbal abuse at other times. The envy is directed solely at what comes across as good and lovely, but it clearly neglects any downside that is part of a full picture.
Envy is about the unreachable, the dream, the wishful thinking. The best thing to do when you realise you develop feelings of envy is to take a step back and find out why you are envious rather than going on feeling inadequate or needy.
When it comes to the kind of confusion that makes you wonder about the deeper questions of life, this is not entirely unexpected. And yet those are the kind of questions that have the potential to throw us into a spiritual conundrum. Let’s face it: we have more time to ourselves these days and maybe this encounter with confusion is a normal result of our brains finally picking up on ideas we simply have not followed up on in the past.
These deep questions make us consider ideas in ways we may not be completely used to or equipped for – because for most of us it’s such a rare occurrence that we think about the bigger picture. Many of you may not even have the right vocabulary to express the ideas that pop into your heads. Or you feel silly bringing some stuff up in casual conversation because you get a sense that either you have gone a little crazy or the people around you may not understand what the hell you are talking about.
All these things add to a sense of being alone and lost and without the necessary tools to dig yourself out of that enormous rabbit hole again. And so you stay surrounded by question marks, by big ideas that may not quite fit your world view, and experiences that you are having trouble lining up with what you consider normal life. Well: which ‘normal’ are we talking about here?
The ‘old normal’ (pre-Covid) seems to be a thing of the past and one can only hope we’ll all take elements from the ‘new normal’ into the synthesis that the ‘future normal’ will turn out to be. Everything is currently in flux, so why wouldn’t your thoughts and internal processes be affected by it?
Let’s consider your options here: you can either stay worried about that understandable confusion, or you can embrace whatever makes sense to you and leave the rest to simmer for now. Personally, I’d rather see the opportunities that this mental shake-up brings me than run myself ragged from remaining confused over things that may ultimately sort themselves out through the simple expedient of living with them for a while.
This all sounds really depressing, right? And yet I find that I’m surprisingly proactive and creative with what I am able to do, and at the same time much more in touch with my own feelings than usual. I guess that I’m just more in touch with them because there is more time for them to develop and for me to experience them. I’m not busy all the time and can allow myself to go off on an emotional tangent. I guess that describes pretty much everyone around, but are they also embracing those emotions?
Personally, I’m feeling tearful more often when I watch movies: more than once I started crying in the middle of film that I usually wouldn’t be too fussed about. And it’s not limited to sad feelings: I also feel strangely good about things that I would otherwise brush off as ‘I did an okay job with this’ or ‘yeah, that feels kind of good’. These days I find myself laughing out loud or getting all giggly from things that don’t affect me at all in ‘normal times’.
I believe that all this has a lot to do with the availability of time to myself, in addition to having less pressure from work and having accepted that there is only so much I can do to keep busy professionally. For the first time ever I feel that I’ve done all I could rather than ‘I should do this as well. And that, too!’, and that gives me the right to take time off.
Where does bliss come into this? It’s quite simple, really. Giving myself allowance to experience emotions more often and more fully naturally leads to heightened senses and bigger emotional outbursts. Going into certain tantric exercises or simply allowing yourself to experience touch fully will automatically have a bigger impact. It’s all down to being more open to the experience than otherwise. Feeling anxious about the future opens a channel that works for sorrow but also for joy, it’s really up to you to use it either way: you choose the direction this goes, and whatever you choose is going to be enhanced. And that works for embracing bliss fully, of course.
Mindset is everything when it comes to allowing emotions. If your mind manages to steer you away from the sad ones and towards the joyful ones, you are on the right way to finding bliss and enjoying it.
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.