There are many people who feel trapped. Not only by their own limiting thoughts, but also trapped by the way of living in this western society, trapped by their possessions, their job, their debts, their life situation, and unable to see a way out. It can be a fearful place to be, to feel like you are bound to the system when the system is not helping you to feel happy, fulfilled or alive. On the contrary, it tends to fill us with worry, agitation, frustration and despondency.
This is the greatest plight of the western world I feel, because we are brought up in a societal environment that is not wholly good for us. It encourages competition, greed, selfishness, isolation, self-doubt, indifference and a feeling of powerlessness. Essentially it conditions our mind toward a subtle state of mental illness, which can be exacerbated and amplified when we experience times of intense stress and pressure.
So if you recognise that you are very much involved in this system and it is causing you to suffer, what can you do? Well, essentially you have 2 options. One is to leave the heart of the system, and find a place where you can dwell more simply, without such a reliance upon it. A warmer climate, even. A place which is less populated and closer to nature perhaps. Somewhere with more peace and quiet, so you can remember who you are, what you truly need, and what is really important in life.
The other option (which perhaps requires greater strength) is to be a force for positive change in the environment you are in. You can direct your energies into helping the people in the community around you – the homeless, the elderly, anyone in need. It could even be people like yourself, who may be experiencing stress and frustration.
You could gather with such people and give them a space where they can talk and relieve the internal pressure that daily life in the modern world creates. When people get together and listen to each other, the sense of support it creates is phenomenal. This is such a valuable thing for people, because often we feel like we are alone in our struggles. It is very important to realise that we are not, and to feel the support of others.
We live in a world where we can easily feel disconnected from the people around us, because everyone has their mind on their own struggles, thoughts and desires. So sometimes simply joining a group such as a health group, a meditation or yoga group or similar, gives us the feeling of connection we need. And we do need it. Even if it is just one person who listens to us and is willing to help us solve our problems, the pressure and burden is lifted from our own shoulders alone.
There is so much we can do exactly where we are, without needing to change our life circumstances. The important switch is from a sense of powerlessness to a sense of empowerment. We start thinking “I could actually do this” rather than “what’s the point in trying?” and the feeling we have inside when we realise the freedom we have to make positive change (even in the smallest of ways) is very liberating.
For many people, their fear creates a sense of paralysis. They perceive that society is going in a certain direction, that people are becoming more alienated and anxious, and they get pulled into that negative way of thinking and feeling. It is very much the result of the collective negative mindset, which is usually influenced by negative media stories; unpleasant world events which are broadcast into our homes and which adorn the newspapers and magazines that we see everywhere.
You don’t even need to look at the news. Advertising has become a science of influencing the human brain to think in certain ways, and advertisers know that people who feel inadequate and insecure will spend more money. The film industry has also become a powerful conduit for conveying disturbing (and often fearful) messages and narratives to the young and the old. Nobody needs such messages. They can be very detrimental, especially for young and impressionable minds.
This is why we need to choose to unplug from such sources of negativity, and connect more with the natural world around us. Instead of watching the news, take a walk. Instead of reading the paper, listen to some inspiring music. Intelligence means choosing your influences wisely, in the knowledge that your influences dictate how you feel. And we have total freedom to choose our influences on every level, including what food and drink we put into our body (which is incredibly influential upon how we feel).
This is a very important to recognise, because we are the ones choosing our influences. This is why we can easily reclaim our sense of power over our lives. You do not have to have a television in your house. You do not need to read the papers, or visit news websites. You can turn your attention in more enriching directions, and spend your time doing the things which make you feel happier and healthier. We must choose this for ourselves, and thus take responsibility for our state of consciousness.
It is also important to recognise the freedom you have to choose thoughts. Of course, nearly everyone feels compelled to think (and often, to think negatively and continuously!) but thinking is not meant to be compulsive. It is meant to be a creative mechanism that helps us to bring to fruition inspiration that comes from a deeper place. Thought is a tool of creativity, but for many people it just creates a prison for them to dwell in…
Thoughts like “I should / I shouldn’t do this or that”… “I must / I mustn’t behave like this” … “I cannot do what I really want to do because….” Thoughts get used like barriers, creating limitation, parameters and restriction in our mind, which we try and impose on our physical being.
For example, imagine you are in a theatre watching a play, and you really, really need to go to the bathroom, very desperately, but your mind says “No, it is rude to get up in the middle of the performance. People will be annoyed at you shuffling past them. You should stay seated until the end.” And because you listen to that thought (which is a thought of restriction) you suffer for some time in discomfort, when you need not suffer at all. Instead, you can immediately respond to the need when it arises, which means that no pressure builds up, no frustration is experienced, and no consequences of frustration (such as irritation or anger) need to be present. This is just an illustration of how the mind says “No, you can’t do that”, and we deny our very simple needs as a result, and thus create our own suffering.
We are always trying to do the right thing in order to keep people happy, to be liked, not upset anyone, but while doing this, we overlook our basic needs. We need to listen to our body needs, and more importantly, to our heart’s need for self-expression, for honesty, for freedom, for space, and for silence. We can be sure that if we are suffering inside, we are not listening to our needs in some way. We are denying ourselves, restricting ourselves, pushing ourselves, punishing ourselves.
We do not need to punish ourselves, because we are not bad. We may think we are not a good person, but this is only the self-critical mind (inherited from our parents) that makes this judgement. Inside every adult human being there is a child that wants to be happy and free. They want to enjoy friendship, fun and shared happiness. They want a sense of lightness in life, not this terminal seriousness and gravity that adults seem to ascribe to every situation.
This is our heart. This is where the child that you once were still dwells. That child has not vanished or died; it has simply been oppressed and shouted down by a louder voice, which dictates how we should be, how we should behave, how we should think, and what we should do with our life.
I always found it fascinating how the word ‘adult’ comes from ‘adulterated’, which means to make something less impure. This really says it all. I always felt that the child is the intelligence within every human being that keeps people connected to the fun and joyful dimension to life. Yet adults seem to be more drawn to the ‘intelligence’ that comes from thinking, which usually rapidly dispels any experiential sense of fun and joy. Adults think about everything, analyse everything, judge everything, and in this way they are very much victims of their mind, victims of intellect.
Your heart is where the true ‘you’ resides, just waiting for an opportunity to express itself; to express is joy, its humour, its happiness, positivity and light. So this is where we need to bring our attention. In any moment, we can do this. Instead of switching on the TV, or going on-line, or reading a book even, just spend a few moments listening to your heart. Is your heart happy? Or is it forgotten? Is it oppressed and despondent, or it vibrant and awake?
Because there is no escaping this simple fact… If the innocent child within your heart does not have the freedom it needs to express itself, to show itself, you will suffer. If you deny and oppress your heartfelt feelings, life will lose any real meaning, and you will feel like you are becoming a mere shadow of human being. You will feel like you are losing touch with yourself, losing touch with the light, losing your mind perhaps.
In a way, as the mind loses its power to control and restrict us, we become a little more unconventional. Be become freer. We become less afraid of what people think about us, as we realise that we actually have no ill intentions whatsoever. We realise that just need to be free. We don’t want to upset or hurt anyone, we don’t want to manipulate people. That kind of behaviour could only ever come from a sense of frustration and powerlessness., experienced as a result of denying the expression of who we truly are.
You are a beautiful and innocent child, who has such a creative and luminous spark burning with you. It is your nature to be creative, to share your light, your sense of fun and happiness with other people. This is your true purpose on this planet, and as you express who you truly are, as you share your heart, you remind everyone else of who they truly are. People wake up out of the lifeless slumber of gravity and seriousness, and they sense a sense of excitement in the heart. The inner spark is rekindled, the heart is lifted, and happiness and joy flow between people as intended. And thus, with the beautiful light of our hearts, life is illuminated.
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