Our Relationship to Money Mirrors our Self-worth

Dear quarter lives,

Money can be a sensitive issue for many, but it is an important one, and one that often needs a lot of healing. Our relationship to money represents our relationship to value more generally. So how we feel about accumulating money or giving it way can say a lot about our relationship to our own value. Money often gets a bad rep. Many view it as the source of all evil in the world. And here, I would say, it is important to distinguish between money and what people have chosen to do with it. Money is essentially a tool that allows us to exchange energy with others. Money in itself is not the energy we exchange; it simply facilitates that exchange. So for example, if I use money to buy a massage, the money isn’t what’s paying for the massage, it depends how I got that money in the first place. So if I earned that money, it’s the time, creativity, effort and whatever else I put in to earn that money that I’m actually using in exchange for the massage. All the money does is store that energy for us (the time, effort, etc.) until we feel like we want to use it in exchange for something else (which is also energy in the form of someone else’s effort and knowledge as in the case of the massage).

How we feel about ourselves drives how we feel about money. If we feel guilty about having too much, if we feel we don’t deserve it, we’ll give it away, and not always consciously. Actually most of our actions are driven by unconscious desires and needs. So you might be unconsciously self-sabotaging your earnings, while complaining at the same time that you wish you had more money because you can barely afford your rent. So it’s not always so obvious how we feel about money. You might be dreaming of the nice house with the nice car but at the same time, deeply feel inside of you that you don’t deserve to have nice things, so you end up never really taking action and steps towards your goal of nice house and nice car. Our sense of self-worth is everything. It drives how much love we think we deserve, and love too is a form of energy exchange just like money is. So that’s why people will often substitute love for money because it feels like it gives them the ability i.e. the power to make energy exchanges. But love exchanges are a very different kind of energy exchange but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.

Approaching our relationship to our own worthiness can be vey daunting so perhaps starting with simpler tasks, such as paying attention to how you use money and recognising how you feel about accumulating it versus giving it away, can provide a segue into bringing more awareness to how you feel about your own worthiness. It’s not always wise to jump into the deep-end especially with patterns that are so old, so deep and probably intertwined with other patterns. Sometimes giving ourselves some space to paddle in the shallow-end might be what we need to help us gather the courage to finally just dive deep. This blogpost is an invitation to bring more awareness to  your relationship to money in hope that it will shed light on the deeper relationship to your own worthiness. 

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

Nurture the Frustration

Dear quarter lives,

Often as we move forward and upward, we might find ourselves not moving at all, or moving backward and downward instead. The thing is, it might seem that we can determine how far and how fast we drive ourselves, depending on how much effort we put in, but the truth is that we aren’t driving the car in the first place.

A move backward might feel like a loss, but sometimes it might afford us the opportunity to perceive an old part of ourselves from a new place — a more compassionate one. It can feel very frustrating to feel like progress has stalled or that in fact after all this work you put in, old patterns still arise. When that happens, I would advise you to not judge yourself too prematurely. Just sit with the frustration and nurture it if you can. Offer it a hug, but most important of all, is to communicate with your frustration. Often we are frustrated because we don’t know why, and if we don’t know why we’re frustrated, we feel helpless because we think we need to know why to be able to relieve ourselves of this frustration. But the reality is that it’s not about the why. It is about how you react to the frustration that’s causing the problem. So for example, the more you blame yourself, the more guilt and negative self talk, the more frustrated you will feel.

Frustration arises when a part of our self is trying to tell us something but we aren’t hearing it for some reason. So it begins to make more and more noise in the hope that we might eventually pay it attention and listen to it. So asking why you’re frustrated might be the wrong question and might just trigger more frustration. Instead, you could ask yourself — what place within me is this frustration emanating from? That will help you identify a place in your body, or even a specific you (which could be identified by age or by the memory of a specific situation), that is asking for your attention. Frustration only continues to grow when we continue not listening. So when you feel frustrated, you need to ask yourself — Which part of me feels unheard and unseen?

Frustration is the result of a blockage in the flow of communication between some part of yourself and another part of yourself. It could be your own resistance to listening that’s causing this block. When you’re attempting to confront your resistance, remember to be kind and show compassion for both the part of you that is scared to listen as well as the part that is afraid to express itself. It would only cause more damage if when we feel frustrated we try to shout ourselves out of it. We would be abusing ourselves in the process and leading to the further deepening of these wounds.

So when you choose to listen to some part of you, be kind to it, be gentle, treat it as you would a child, because all these wounded and silenced parts within ourselves are merely little children who desperately need love and attention. To heal all of you, you need to mother all the un-mothered parts of yourself. May we all find the courage to love those parts of ourselves we deem most unlovable.

With love and always for peace,

S.A. 

On Gratitude

Dear quarter lives,

Most of us are familiar with the advice be grateful, count your blessings, say thank you. But many of us can be unfamiliar with the feeling of gratitude itself. And it is definitely very difficult to practice something you do not quite understand. A few years ago, in the beginning of my quarter life crisis, all I could feel was anything but gratitude. I was so wrapped up in my own struggles and pain, that I was finding it very hard to find anything to say thank you for. I went to therapy, read books, listened to podcasts, and they all seemed to agree that saying thank you for even the simplest pleasures like a good cup of coffee can transform my experience of the world. So I began to think about this idea of saying thank you, but to be honest with you, I was mostly contemplating gratitude from a place of intellectual superiority to make fun of those who thought saying thank you was going to solve my problems. Ironically, it was this questioning that began to shake my own certainty in how I saw the world. I slowly began to see things that were always there, but I just wasn’t looking at them from the right angle to be able to see them. It did, in fact, all come down to how you see the world and what you choose to focus on. Again, this isn’t anything knew, I had heard all of this before, but I just never experienced it myself so I was baffled by just how simple and obvious it all was. I began to see just how my close-mindedness and arrogance kept me blind from all the good in life. Once I realised that I might not really know anything at all, the world began to feel much softer. Gratitude is really as life-changing as people say it is, but we never really know it until we experience it ourselves.

Remember the ever so popular, Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It is in fact always both, but what do you choose to see? —that is the more important question. Perhaps you do not choose the fact that there is water in the glass in the first place, but now that it is there, and now that there’s nothing you can do about it being there, you can’t add more water and fill the glass up to the rim, and you can’t empty it out until it’s absolutely empty, what do you choose to see? It is that choice that is life-changing. It is that choice to see abundance rather than lack that transformed my life. It is that choice that transformed me from victim to superhero in my own life. It is that choice that gave me the power to shift how I saw myself, to shift my state of being from a passive one i.e. being someone who life happened to, to an active state of being i.e. being someone who participates in her life. That choice is how I reclaimed my power back. It is how I was able to let go of what I could not control and embrace what I could. And so, I have come to understand that gratitude does not miraculously happen to us. It is a conscious choice to be grateful, and one that requires hard work and practice like any new habit you form. It takes a lot of hard work in the beginning to let go of old cravings to complain, and it takes a lot of saying, No, not today! , to our habitual responses to pain. It takes a lot of hard work to develop a gratitude practice, but as with any practice, it gets easier the more consistent you are with it, and eventually it becomes a part of you and happens as automatically as the glass of water you drink when you’re thirsty. It just happens, every day, all day, without effort or thought. It becomes so necessary to your daily nourishment that you wonder how you went through life all those years without it. You begin to understand why you felt so hungry all the time, but just didn’t know for what. Our souls crave the goodness in life, just like our bodies crave good food. And gratitude, I believe, is how we find that goodness.

Gratitude is like a pair of x-ray vision glasses that allow you to filter through whatever shit you see in life and find the goodness in it. Like underneath all our flesh, there’s always bone; so it is in life, under all that shit and suffering and fear, there is always goodness, there is always love. But we must choose to put on our gratitude glasses everyday, because otherwise the good might be hard to see through all that dirt. That is not to say that the dirt is bad. It’s a necessary part of our life experience. It gives us the opportunity to grow, for there is no greater teacher than discomfort and that is what the dirt in life does — it exerts enormous pressure on us so that we can evolve into our most authentic self. One very important lesson I’ve learnt is that it is always much less painful to accept the invitation to be taught than to resist it. The thing is the dirt will come anyway and will try to teach you anyway whether you greet it with open arms or lock your doors shut, but what accepting the invitation does is give you power. In allowing something to happen to you, you become an equal party in the decision, you are no longer victim, and you share equal responsibility for the outcome and the journey. It becomes your responsibility to make the best out of it. You have more rights when you sign a contract than when you don’t. And declining the invitation, just means you have no contract, and when you have no contract, you don’t feel secure. By not accepting the invitation, you give your power away to whoever will take it. And who is always starving for power? Your ego. And what fuel does your ego run on? Fear. And so, it is always up to you, whether to choose fear or love, whether to look at the glass half-full or half-empty, whether to feel gratitude or not. It is always your choice what to see. It is always your choice what to experience. It is always your choice to move forward or stop.

I will leave you with one last thought. There is no one alive that is not worth discovering their most authentic self, so do not shy from any invitation to discover who you really are. Do not ever feel like you should not question or ask, for there is no discovery without questions. A journey after all is but a series of questions whose answers hand you over to the next question like batons in a relay race. So do not fear the questions, for they are the only way we can find the answers. It is a highly personalised journey and your questions will only offer answers that serve to guide you, and no other. Your questions will help illuminate your path in the darkest of tunnels so trust your questions, love them, celebrate them and most importantly thank them.

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

How to love ANY Body

Dear quarter lives,

I am doing something a little different this week and sharing with you a poem instead of my usual essay. This is a poem I wrote about love, about loving another, and about loving our bodies. May it inspire you to contemplate the nature of how we as humans love, of how you in particular love and maybe of how you might like to love.

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

How to love ANY body

Near every body of water is a body of air. 

Near every body of air is a body of fire. 

Near every body of fire is a body of earth.  

To find any body to love, first let go of your height. 

Lie down. Lie beside them. Let them love you.

Let their body caress yours like you let water do. 

Let their body flow onto yours like you let air do. 

Let their body warm yours like you let fire do. 

Let their body shelter yours like you let earth do. 

Lie not below them. 

Lie not above them. 

But lie beside them. 

Side by side. 

Level to level. 

Lie beside one another so you will have no need to speak down to any body.

Lie beside one another so you will have no need to speak up either.  

Lie beside one another so that when the floor shakes, you both feel it. 

Lie beside one another so that when the ceiling cracks, you both see the light. 

To love any body, you must lie beside them. 

To lie beside anybody, you must put your judgements to sleep. 

To put your judgements to sleep, you must lie naked. 

And to lie naked, you must bear the sight of your bare body. 

To bear the sight of your bare body, you must first bear the sight of your naked heart. 

And when your heart is finally exposed, then you can begin to love.

But before you can love any body, you must learn to love your own. 

To love your body, lay with it.

Let it show you all you need to know about love.

Let the water of your blood teach you how to flow. 

Let the fire of your sexuality teach you how to dance. 

Let the air of your lungs teach you how to free your voice. 

And let the earth within your gut show you how to share your body.

To love any body, 

love your body.

To love your body,

love every body.

Peace is a lifestyle choice

Dear quarter lives, 

Peace needs practice and practice makes perfect. Peace does not miraculously happen. It is a process that requires much of our attention and intention. It takes time and an enormous amount of trust in ourselves. Peace asks us to trust that it is there with us all along the way. But we never get a glimpse of it until we finally do. And because we don’t feel it until we finally feel safe enough to feel it, we think it is the prize at the end of a spiritual journey. But peace like fear is a lifestyle; one that warrants daily practice and rituals. It is not a prize handed over at the end of a marathon. So like you have your daily exercise routines to get more fit, have a daily peace routine to be more peaceful. Peace, like any other habit you would like to form, will not stay until you repeat it enough times. There are many ways to exercise peace. Meditation is an obvious one, and a magnificent one. But find your own. I would just say, let your breath be your guide, by that I mean whatever helps you stay connected to your breath, do that. Go for a walk. Play an instrument. Spend some time in your garden. Feel the grass. Lie on it. Or perhaps just sit in your balcony or by your window and watch the sky or a bird that you see fly by. Peace is basically a state of awareness that arises from the ability to rest in the moment. Peace comes when you can truly accept every given moment that arises in your life and let it happen without resistance and without trying too hard to make it happen. When you meditate, you are practicing how to rest with your breath, you are learning how to let go of trying so hard to concentrate on your breath while still maintaining a state of active attention and awareness. It is the effort and control that create tension in both our bodies and our minds, so learning how to relax is crucial to attain any sort of peace. And the best way to relax is to breathe well and breathe consciously, by consciously I mean by feeling your breath as it passes in and out of you. You will breathe anyway just as your heart keeps beating, regardless of whether you are living consciously or not. And living consciously is what brings peace, because we are no longer in a reactive state to life, we are relaxed enough to witness life happen and actively participate in it. And with such awareness comes clarity, and if we were ever confused as to what our intentions might be in any given moment, we will soon see so clearly our intentions. When we are conscious of our intentions, then comes our ability to choose them. And when we choose them, we choose how to live. The real choice we have in this life is choosing our intention. We cannot choose our intentions if we are not present to them.

If you are overwhelmed by the idea of peace or doubt its possibility, don’t be discouraged. What you’re feeling is completely natural because much of our beliefs come from experience, and if we’ve never experienced peace it’s very hard to believe it’s possible. So I would suggest you start off very simply by just making a wish or prayer expressing your desire to connect with peace and I guarantee you, your prayers will be answered, maybe not in the way you expect but be open and you will be shown the way. If the road to peace is what you would like to walk, be certain that a guide or teacher best suited for you will show up in your life and offer their teachings. And in those moments, on those crossroads, we must choose wisely, because second chances do come along but they might take another lifetime or so.

I am a source of peace and happiness.

I would like to offer this affirmation to you as a reminder of your inherent peace and joy. To stay on track with your peace practice, like with any other practice, discipline is key. If we do not make time for it, the habit of peaceful being will never form. And lastly dearest quarter lives, be wary of your expectations, your teacher might not be what you might’ve expected them to be. Our teachers are everywhere, and can be absolutely anything, even this ground you stand on. So be generous with your awareness, and begin to feel the spaces around you and within you. Sometimes what is outside right in front of us can be what best guides us inside. 

With so much love and peace,

S.A.

Can people be saved from a terrible childhood?

Dear quarter lives,

Can people be saved from a terrible childhood? This was the title of an article in The Guardian 1 I had read a couple of years ago. It caught my attention at a time when I was reflecting about my own childhood and wondering if it had passed or was a part of me still living there. These contemplations about childhood slowly turned into an obsession with these seemingly separate states of being we label as childhood, adulthood, and parenthood. All the hoods seemed to me to overlap. I could not separate them from one another. I found myself struggling to neatly split my life across all three. Slowly, an aha moment arrived and the realisation came over me, What if they are in fact not separate states at all? What if they are states of being that exist together simultaneously? 

What if adulthood is just the transfer of the role of parenting from the outside (i.e. from parents, caretakers, etc.) to the inside, to us? What if all adulthood really means is that we become parents for ourselves instead of relying on others to love us, discipline us, tell us what and what not to do or think? What if the problems, confusion and breakdowns that happen in young adulthood happen because of precisely this, the fact that all of a sudden we become our own caretakers, and all of a sudden the newness of this role is overwhelming and like children learning how to speak, all we can do is emulate what we have observed. And so if we have observed parents that are overly critical to us, in wearing this new role of parenthood with ourselves, we become overly critical parents to ourselves, but if we observe gentle parents, we emulate that and become gentle parents to ourselves. Where the role of the crisis is important is that it forces us to question what we have observed, questioning whether it serves us or destroys us. In sitting with those questions, we slowly begin to develop our own parenting style with ourselves. 

If we start looking at ourselves as a unified home to a child and a parent that come together to form the adult that we are, we will start acknowledging the realness of that child within us that is screaming to be heard, that is screaming to say I am still alive, I didn’t die when you became an adult. And the kindest act we can do for ourselves is to say ‘I hear you’ , ‘I see you’, and ‘I acknowledge you’ to that child within us. Like any other child, the child inside of us just wants to feel loved. But if we keep on expecting an outside person to become our parent and provide us with love, affection and discipline then we starve our inner child of its own inner parent, and thus have purposely orphaned it and sent it to the foster care of a friend, a wife, a husband, leaving our inner parent heartbroken. Our grieving inner parent now is starving to care for someone, to give love, to discipline and thus it starts craving a child, and that is how we often pour our hearts into our children thinking that they can save us but it is only our own inner child that can save our own inner parent. And thus, when we do not acknowledge both the child and parent within that make us a whole adult, we fall into cycles of toxic relationships* as we try to quiet the screaming inner child and feed the starving inner parent. 

And so to answer the question, Can people be saved from a terrible childhood? Yes, they absolutely can! But only if they do it themselves. Only we can save ourselves. There is no god that will save us from a terrible anything without us putting in the work ourselves. And the way we save ourselves is by re-parenting ourselves and re-childing ourselves. This means that we need to step fully into adulthood by stepping fully into the role of parent for ourselves while embracing and nurturing the child within us. We need to make space within us for the healthy expression of both. We need to play. We need to work. We need balance. And just like we give importance and time to our outer relationships, we must also give time and attention to our inner relationships. For any relationship can only grow if we make time for it. Be present for those inside of you, just as you do for those outside of you. Adulthood, I have found, is a state of being whereby one becomes proficient at showing up for themselves, where one learns how to be completely present to themselves as parent and nurturer when need be, and as child and wonderer when need be, and the ability to discern when to make space for the parent and when to allow the child to appear is where the art of being an adult lies. It is always about balance. And to get good at balance, like to get good at anything, requires practice. And practice requires us to embrace our errors and continue showing up until we get it right. And when we get it right, we must show up to keep that balance.

As always with love and for peace,

S.A.

1https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/nov/07/ace-adverse-childhood-experience-trauma

*(relationships include not only those with other people but with work, with leisure, with food, drugs, exercise, religion, etc. the list is infinite.)

We need boundaries to grow

Dear quarter lives,

This is a short story about letting go, about growing apart and growing healthy. It is a story about our need for space to grow, about our need for boundaries, even with our most beloved mothers and fathers.

***

One day someplace where there were streets and crossings, a young mother and her son were about to cross the street. The little boy was very afraid. He had never crossed a street before. He had seen stories on the news of people who died crossing the street, but never about those who had survived crossing the street. So he assumed that people just died crossing the street. He didn’t understand why his mother would want him to do such a thing as cross the street, but he didn’t question her, she was his mother. The boy held his mother’s hands as tightly as he could, to the point he was hurting her just a little bit. You could see his little hands latching onto her big hands tucked in and protected by their sheer size. Her big hands were nothing compared to her tall body, like a walking tree beside him, she protected him. As he stepped onto the zebra crossing, his eyes began to sparkle, wondering why the marvelous lines changed colour so frequently. Black. White. Black. White. Black. White. And as his mother took a large step in front of him, she cast a long shadow over him, a shadow longer even than she was. 

The little boy fell into a deep darkness. His mother falling only a split second after him onto her knees and over him. Her shadow now much stronger and much closer. He slipped further and further away into the dark. She did not know what to do but to hold him close. And the closer she held him, the further away he went. ‘Let go!’, someone in the crowd shouted. ‘I can’t, he needs me.’ ‘Let go of him. You have to.’, they shouted again. ‘I can’t leave him alone. He’ll be so afraid.’ Her tears were falling on his face.They came closer now. Their hands held her shoulder, ‘We’ll be here for you. He needs to come back alone. You must leave him now. Trust, dear mother. Trust him. Trust yourself. Trust us, your community. There is nothing you can do but trust that he will come back, but you must let him go.’

‘Can you help me let him go?’ ‘I can stand by you, but I cannot remove you. You must choose to get up. You must choose to stand separate from your son until your are distant enough that you cast no shadow onto him.’

And with all the love she could find in her heart for her little boy, the mother stood up slowly, as though she was a toddler standing up for the first time, not knowing whether to trust gravity yet. And as she returned to her tree-like posture, stable, standing and grounded, she carried her legs with all the power she could muster, for they were the heaviest three steps she would take in her entire life. Now standing away and across from her son, she no longer cast a shadow on his heart. There was a long silence. The silence of waiting. Tears still rolling down her face, puddles forming at her feet, now at her knees again, all she could do was think, and when she thought, she doubted. She doubted herself, she doubted her son, she doubted her community. But her community stood by her, reminding her they were still here, reminding her to trust, ‘Trust does not betray those who make space for it in their hearts, so make space, dear mother.’ 

And as she drew in one more breath and exhaled another, she looked over to her son. His eyes were beginning to open. She almost ran towards him, but a hand held her back and whispered gently in her ears, ‘I know it is painful, but that is what we must do. We nourish them until they can nourish themselves. We support them until they no longer need us. You see, dear mother, it is our duty not to smother ourselves onto our little ones. It is our duty to let them grow into their own being, that is our role ― to teach them how to fill their space, to show them that boundaries are essential so they can spread roots and reach the light themselves without help from any mother or mediator.  You see young mother, if our shadow remains cast on their bodies, we are no better than weeds whose shadow and needs kill all that is around it. Parenthood is a journey very few endure in truth. It is the hardest lesson to learn. It is one intended for the growth of the mature spirit, and the subsequent survival to youth of the infant soul. So rejoice my daughter, your pain will transform you. And soon he will have grown into a parent himself, then he will come to you for guidance and support, for his turn too will come when he will have to let go of his young ones. So let your child go, give him back to the universe, let him scour for his food, hunt and grow, and as the cycle continues, he will ask for your hand one day as you have asked mine. Do you remember me now? I am your mother from long ago. Today, you have passed the most difficult test of all. Today, you have truly mothered your child into being. Today, you have let go of your attachment to your child. Now, you are both free.’

***

Thank you for reading. Thank you for accepting this invitation to contemplate.

With love and peace,

S.A.

Emotions as bridges of communication to multiple realities

Dear quarter lives,

Some time ago, I was preoccupied with the question of why we have emotions. I wanted to understand what they were, what purpose they served. And all that kept coming back to me was this one word — perspective. Emotions, each of them, seemed to be articulating experiences from one specific angle. Different emotions can offer us different experiences of the exact same thing. And all these perspectives do not negate one another. Instead, they offer the insight that there are always multiple truths. I believe emotions are the tool through which we can ease into the idea of multiple realities. The wide range of emotions we are able to experience allows us to consider our lives from an equally wide range of lenses. And that means that there is no single narrative that holds true more than another. Sadness, for example, does not negate the truth of anger, and neither does anger negate the truth of joy. Emotions allow us to consider the possibility that the truth is diverse.

I only understand now what it means when they say, the truth is in your heart, because I understand now what feeling offers us. You see, when you feel, you know that what you feel is true. And there are as many truths as there are feelings. When you feel, you know that no matter how hard your mind tries to convince you that there is only one objective truth, you know without a shadow of a doubt that that is simply not true, and all because you can feel. Emotions are the eyes in our hearts that allow us to perceive and experience the real truth — that there is no truth. It is precisely this subjectivity that our emotions offer us that makes us human, that makes us kind, that makes us tolerant, that allows us to accept that the Other might also be justified in their version of the truth because that is simply how they feel. You see, when we are able to discard the idea of a single Ultimate truth, only then can every other possibility of the truth open up to us and greet us.

I believe emotions are a fundamental part of the human experience for precisely the reason that they stretch us to tolerate the idea of multiple truths, and in that way, emotions act as bridges of communication between us and other realities. They ease us into the possibility that there might be more than what each of us individually experiences, that other dimensions could exist, that anything really could be. Anyone who has experienced the world from a place of fear will tell you it is a very different place to a world experienced from a place of love. And anyone who has experienced themselves from a place of anger will tell you they met a very different person to the one they met from a place of joy. It is not only the Universe that we can experience from multiple dimensions, it is our Selves! Emotions connect all these different experiences of self together. Emotions show us we are more than who we were when we were sad, that we are not who we are when we are happy. Emotions are our gift, one that allows us to entertain the possibility that there might not be a single story to us, but rather an endless possibility of stories.

With love,

S.A

A Prisoner named Anger

Dear quarter lives,

This might be the story of my prisoner, but there are many similar stories out there where one captures an emotion, a memory, a person, and hides them deep in the dungeons within. There is no man, no woman, no human without a dungeon. They form inside of us when we are children. They are as old as our breaths. They help us feel safe, like an army of sorts. As children, it was how we dealt with what we didn’t know how to deal with. We felt safer knowing that all that was dangerous, all that was unwanted was locked up inside, deep within us, in a room far far away. We tied these rejected emotions to heavy iron chains so that they would sink forever with no way to escape or surprise us.

But something happens when they have lived there long enough — we get attached to them. It is ironic indeed that what we have chosen to hide away because we were afraid of, we now become so attached to and dependent on that we might actually only feel safe when they are with us, a Stockholm syndrome of sorts. And so at this point of attachment, when you can no longer separate your sense of self from your prisoner’s sense of self. Your identities now intertwined, you have now merged. A new symbiotic relationship now exists, you become each other’s hosts. Your prisoner resides in you, and you reside in it. And so it was, after many many years of holding Anger captive, I realised that I am as much a prisoner to him as he is to me.

And for all prisoners, the goal is always freedom. But not all prisoners are created equal, some become vengeful, others are more forgiving and spare your neck. And those prisoners are the wisest because they remember, unlike us, who they really are. No matter how blurry the lines get, they remember that they are not us. That we are not the fear we hold within. That we are not the anger we have suppressed. They remember that their purpose is to express our experience but they are not us and we are not them. The danger comes when the prisoner is angry. Angry at us because we have not allowed them to speak, to express themselves. Instead we have blindfolded them and hid them in places so deep and so dark that they became so sensitive to the light that it becomes dangerous for them to leave even if they wanted to without getting us a little sick first.

And so with Anger, especially with Anger, when we come to make peace with it, we must show up ready to surrender, ready to assume responsibility for the abuse we have inflicted on ourselves by holding back our anger. We must acknowledge the abuse we have allowed our prisoner to endure by hiding them away so absolutely that we forgot they even existed. In those cases, where the attachment is not even acknowledged, the prisoner’s pursuit to freedom becomes even more complex, even more dangerous, to us and to them. They begin to plan for our death. They decide that if they cannot see the light through merging with us, they must seek desperate measures, they must seek the light by removing the physical barriers of us, by removing our bodies, by destroying them, by killing us. Only then is all energy within us released back into the Universe, and when that happens, Anger can finally be free.

And so when we refuse to communicate with our prisoners, they have no way of even warning us, or threatening us. Sadly, we have cut our own ears. We have refused to listen. And now, we must bear the consequences of seeing the storm only when it is too late. We must too realise that who and what we decide to lock away in our dungeons is always our choice, even though our choice could’ve been the result of serious hardship. Often it is due to a heightened sense of the perceived threat from that particular thing, be it an emotion or memory. We might’ve witnessed an unpleasant expression of Anger growing up and vowed to avoid it at all costs. And so within us lives this exaggerated fear of expressing our anger thinking it might injure or even kill us. Ironically, that is exactly what it does when we cut off all contact with it. And so the only way to approach Anger, I believe, is with love and with a lot of trust. We must trust that our anger does not exist to hurt us. We must communicate with it. We must listen to it. And when we do, we will realise that Anger actually came to protect us. Like a house alarm, Anger acts as a signaling tool when our boundaries have been crossed. Anger alerts us to take action. To speak up. To better assert our space.

Anger has long been misunderstood. It has a bad rep because it often presents itself as aggression and violence. But it is not the anger that does this, it is what we do with the anger. It is our reaction to Anger that has been aggressive. But we have instead pointed the finger at him, deeming him the unwanted/unpleasant emotion and locking him away as if to punish him for his bad behaviour when in fact it is our behaviour that has been bad. So to heal this complicated relationship we have with Anger, we must first open our hearts and go deep deep within until we reach the dungeon, and then we must consciously and intentionally choose to unlock it. We must choose to free our prisoners. We must choose to set Anger free. And as we do so, we must apologise. We must open our entire body to listen. And as we listen to the wounded within us speak, we must give them our love for they have given us theirs all these years.

Before I go, let me just remind you of one final thing — our prisoners’ pursuit to freedom is also our pursuit to freedom. For when they are free, we become free. It is always us who are the captors, the torturers, the unreasonable tyrants, never the victims. It is us who hold prisoners, not us who are held prisoner. So let us never forget the fact, for it is a fact worthy of our memory. It is fact through which our power can be realised once again, and our choice recognised. It is always up to us! Remember that, always, if you are ever to be free. 

May you be free forever,

Shahinda

On the gift of Surprise

Dear quarter lives,

Surprises are not there to throw you off. In fact, they gift you with not knowing a priori and thereby grant you the freedom to respond without preparation from the mind. They give you the present of being in the present. Surprises, both the comforting and the discomforting kind, grant you the freedom to experience. Always welcome surprises, they tell you of your agility. They communicate your flexibility. They show you where you might be stopping yourself from experiencing, where you might be stuck and they show you when you have finally surrendered and let go. Surprises are great indicators of progress. They transform. They create space for new potential. They grant you the opportunity to adapt. A surprise is a direct invitation from the Unknown to come a little closer, to step away for a moment from the realm of knowledge and into the realm of experience. Surprises ask us to tap into the wisdom of our bodies. They offer us the chance to flow with the Divine Mother. Surprises wake up the Sacred Feminine within us. They allow us to see that we too come from the Mother, that we resemble the Earth, that we are the Earth herself.

Peace and Love,

S.A.