Poetry: Stepping Forward

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Photo taken at Mottisfont, UK

Moving, causing pain that will never leave my mind.
Forever apart of me, it will never disappear from sight.
The subconscious, the eye behind the eyelid, watches endlessly.
A motion I do not desire, forward, I urge to not move.

Change, away from the same, away from the safety.
Each day propels me to alter myself, a tiresome effort with little payoff.
Expectations lead me to doubt, my wants crumble at my feet.
Recapturing the pieces of a broken heart, with no substances can put back together.

Shifting, the numbness of my arm, I’ve laid too long.
Struggling against the temptation to ease the agony, resistance—my friend.
A heavy body I push to keep still, yet, the weight of emotions escalates.
Awareness of my lack of awareness, the darkness is where I reside.

Ahead, the unknown waiting for, frozen in my foot steps.
Gripped by the fear of stepping forward, I paralyze my own limbs in a coma.
Daring not to dream, I don’t want my prize.
My own light, my own shadows, I walk the line of al-oneness.

What is More Effective, Empathy or Sympathy?

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Taken at Mottisfont, UK 

Probably one of the hardest decisions we have to make in our lives is how to be there for people or give people support. Much of the confusion we encounter involves our uncertainty about the use of sympathy and empathy. Naturally, many people lean to one or the other, but; what is more effective in creating a strong connection and giving rise to personal growth? To answer this question, we first have to know what empathy and sympathy are, keeping in mind that both of these traits can be learned —like most things in life.

Empathy:

Being able to be present with another person’s feeling is empathy’s playground. It means to co-exist with another, without allowing your own feelings to interrupt their current expression of their flow of emotions during a conversation. Empathy, you could say, is a non-judgmental state of mind in which all you’re doing is aligning your own feelings to the other person and seeing things from their unique point of view. In the state of empathy, there is a high degree of listening involved and understanding the meaning of words that are not said. For example, if someone tells you, “I hate seeing homeless children,” in a harsh tone of voice, an empathetic response might be: “It sounds like seeing homeless children really makes you upset, why is that?” By responding this way, you’re telling the other person that you acknowledge how they feel and are willing to further hear what they have to say. By doing this, you are creating a support structure and establishing a stable connection with the other person.

Sympathy:

Much more of a comparison of feelings with another person, often times having sympathy means feeling happy for a person or feeling sad. Normally it’s a reaction to how someone else feels and then matching those feeling with a same or different situation. Many would say that sympathy creates more of a disconnect, based on the fact that there is an invisible line of competition when it comes to the level of how someone would feel in a worse or better scenario. On the other hand, having sympathy can allow another person not to feel alone or isolated when it comes to their emotions. For example, if someone said to you, “It makes me happy to be able to watch my son walk for the first time.” A sympathetic response might be, “I know, I feel so happy too when I’m able to hold my daughter in my hands as she sleeps.” By responding this way you’re relating the same type of feeling in different situations, however, this can cause disharmony or create rapport, depending on the individuals.

What is more effective in creating a strong connection and gives rise to personal growth?

In the most popular cases, sympathy would be looked at as being the “natural” way to create a connection with someone; but how solid a connection? If a person is trying to explain how they feel, the consistent interruption of interjecting feelings can make a person more reluctant to open up further. Listening becomes much more rigid as a dialogue with a person who only gives sympathy; it will leave the speaker feeling like they’re not being understood. In a real life situation, if you take a moment to listen to how your friends, or even family, speak you can observe how in many situations feelings are being compared rather than one person actually listening to how the other feels. Responses that consist of giving advice right away or, conversely, trying to look at the brighter side of things, will not help the listener fully establish a strong bond with another person and this approach is most certainly not going to giving rise to personal growth.

However, from looking at the meaning of empathy you can see that making a lasting relationship is always possible. Allowing another person to say what they feel or think, without interjecting your own feelings gains trust on a level that exceeds that of sympathy. To be able to say what’s on your mind without judgment can open a doorway into yourself, allowing the progression of personal growth; for not only does the one doing all the speaking grow, but also the one listening. Listening to someone else’s experience and how they feel creates a union that dissolves the thoughts and feelings of separation — a state we all strive to avoid.

At the same time, empathy and sympathy are not only on a one to one basis, but can also be used on a personal level.

For the majority of my life, I would say, I’ve suppressed my own feelings when it came to many relationships and friendships. I was overly worried about other people’s feelings that my own discomfort was reflected back by those same people. For example, back when I first joined the US military, I did basic training before moving on to job specific training, which took place in Maryland. I met a beautiful girl who I thought was “THE ONE”. We immediately connected, and I knew I liked her and she liked me. After a while, and once I had the freedom to move off base, we spent an evening filled with events like walking in the mall, going to the movies and playing pool. That night we really hit it off. However, the very next day things flipped like a hot pancake. Her usual attentive behavior suddenly changed, where once we had looked at each other with affection from afar, now I became completely nonexistent in her world. I couldn’t quite understand what had happened and I tried everything in my power to regain her attention. I went as far as to march the entire company we were in, roughly 150 people, in a cadence that was purely about her and everyone knew it. Even after my time was over with that training, I drove back down to Maryland from New York City to confess my love to her. From her perspective I was probably a complete weirdo, but from my perspective I thought I was being utterly romantic. I kept telling myself sympathetic reasons why she didn’t like me anymore, such as: “She probably doesn’t want a relationship because she’s going on active duty in Germany and I’m going back home,” or “I have to be more persistent if I am going to have a girl like her.” However, I never gave myself enough empathy and I never acknowledged to myself how I truly felt; which in those times were anguish and grief at being ignored. If I had given myself more empathy and recognised my own feelings, I would have probably accepted her not liking me anymore and simply moved on. The way she ignored me was a reflection of how I was ignoring my own self.

In the end, empathy takes the medal home for creating a much richer connection with others over sympathy any day. Especially when it comes to giving empathy to the self. Focusing on personal growth not only helps the individual, but is a key to helping other people, too. And, doing so with empathy will take you much further than sympathy ever will, even if it comes at the cost of being alone.

The Healing Pond

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Photo taken in Southampton

Laying on my back on the sofa, I allow the muscles in my hips, shoulders and thighs to melt into the surface of the cushions; my legs sway a little as they naturally stop in their place. The tension behind my eyes are released, the feeling of peace reverberates to the centre of my body. Rising and falling, the air in my chest flows instinctively— slowly inhale, slowly exhale. My fingers slide apart into the sofa, the palms of my hands become soft as of a lovers graze. A gentle breeze, from no where, runs up my arm as the conjoined quiver slides down my spine; a large exhale.

As I sink deeper into myself, I begin to visualise a small pond surrounded by firm palm trees; the lines in their trunks are profound and distinct. The water is forming soft ripples, gliding along the surface, as if being combed by the wind. I walk slowly towards the pond and look down into it; blue light emanating from the bottom. My curiosity takes control as I try to get a clearer look at what’s there— diving into the water. Bubbles of all sizes form around my body, a bleak grey steam dissolves off my skin into the water, I’m rotating my arms to propel me into the depths of the pond.

Plunging through the mist, the blue light becomes more refine, revealing a cluster of very large clear quartz crystals— covering the entire floor of the pond, their pointed tips facing up towards me. I float in suspension, bewildered by the amount of crystals before me. The energy they emit sends tingles throughout my body. The vibration leaving me paralysed, my body starts to drift. Losing my poise, my back is pointed towards the crystals. The blue light beginning to enter the pores of my left arm, seeping into my cells, causing them to glow white. Lines of white light extend to my heart as it circulates through my body; the incandescent light encased my entire being.

Starting from my feet going up, my body becomes fragmented. Tiny balls form as they start to vibrate faster and faster and clash into each other vigorously. From where my head used to be, a crystallized head starts to form. My crystal-quartz-transparent-human-body floats in the middle of the pond, glowing yellow aura a few inches away from me, as I attempt to move my finger tips.

I breathe steadily as I move my toes and stretch my arms. I am recreated in higher vibration; my body feeling smooth and silky against the sofa. I slowly open my eyes and bring myself back to my reality, ready to share this new energy with the world.

Closer than you think: Happiness

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Taken in Central Park, NYC

In the middle of eating dinner with my wife and her sister — the most delicious dish of leek, PSB (purple sprouting broccoli), and cauliflower smothered in cheese with garlicky spring greens — we had Brian Buckley’s Band playing in the background. As my wife and her sister chatted away, I was sitting in the lap of happinesses. There is something mystical about the combination of great food, great company and great music. The happiness felt incredibly nostalgic, with a mixture of childhood memories, and continual sensation of the feeling you have when you get goosebumps. Those prolonged moments of bliss were so astonishing my wife and her sister didn’t even notice my joyful tear drops. Some questions arose in my mind as I was experiencing it all: Why can’t I feel like this all the time? I pondered and realised that all the worry, disappointments, anger, negative thoughts were holding up this grey brick wall and preventing me from feeling happy in every moment.

There are endless amounts of articles, websites, youtube videos on the subject of happiness and how you can obtain it. Ten, seven, three essential ways; all encouraging people in to keep reaching out for it. Many people think they need to have a specific job, person or car to experience this seemingly untouchable destination of happiness. The most difficult thing a lot of people will avoid; is face themselves. It’s too painful, too sad, takes too much time— a genuine cop out, excuses practiced so well as children that we now carry with us into adulthood. Happiness is behind all those difficulties, waiting like a treasure to be taken. Cultivating evasive justifications, procrastination and resistance is what’s causing all the misery. To make it more complicated, the thoughts that are associated with discomfort, anger and angst, lead people away from their happiness.

People aren’t stupid. Everyone knows exactly what makes them upset and, at the other end, incredibly joyous. We all think that it’s not alright to feel the bad things we feel — we learn this growing up. However, it’s important to remember that “negative” feelings are still valid feelings and they need just as much time and freedom to express themselves in order for us to access happiness, just as we put the time in work to make money. If we invested the same amount of energy into actually giving ourselves empathy, hugs, words of encouragement; that grey wall would diminish quickly.

Pay attention to your thoughts! When you’re becoming angry or sad, take note as to what you’re saying to yourself. When you’re feeling light in your body, smiling,977A0386F take note to what you’re saying to yourself. Do this often enough and that trusty good ol’ subconscious of yours will take over for you and that happiness you want will shine brightly. Many of you will want “practical” ways of doing it. If that’s the case, then you’ll need a pen and paper and to write those thoughts down — better yet, use your smart phone, get a note taking app and type your thoughts in, write the situation and feelings associated with the thoughts. In the end there really are no steps, you just have to pay close attention to yourself. Don’t be so quick to throw out ideas as to what is creating your emotions; really dig in and find the core of how you’re feeling. Happiness is much closer to you than you think.

A Walk in the Sand Dunes

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Taken near Eastleigh, UK

I was leaving from my weekly college class the other day, the sun shining directly onto me in the direction I needed to walk in; you can see from the photo above. I was in a state of detachment from the world and the people around me. I looked up, the sun rays engulfed me and immediately I felt like I was walking in the middle of a desert. With traditional Japanese music playing in my wireless headphones, my journey to the train station turned into a stroll through a sand dune.

I could see myself dressed in a long brown cloak with white wool clothed material, along with a grey turban to shield me from the suns rays; walking in a vast desolate space filled with gently blowing sand. I hold a long rope that sagged in the middle, three feet in front of my camel, I walk. A clear sky, filled with an unbelievable amount of blue that you can almost touch, the sun was fixed in front of me on the street. I could imagine only seeing my foot prints behind me as I walked in a direction that only had sand as far I could see. The sounds of the music in my ears made me feel like I was a lonely merchant walking to a far new land in search for products for business and trade. As I come to a crossing, a car passes in front of me, I approached the other side walk stepping over a puddle; I blink my eyes and see in my sand dune, the heat waves rising off the ground in the distance. A small pain in the ball of my right foot propelled me to imagine the hot sand going through my sandals, the slight frictionoman-sand-dunes_1124684c between the sand and my barefoot giving me a massaging sensation. The shuffling of what was in my backpack made me think that my camel and I were walking through the hot desert than actually being in our modern city street. I walked by a school where small children were playing outside, the thought of hearing the winds moaning in the distance as I place one foot in front of the other through the sand. Feeling more removed from my current reality, I bask in my imagination that seemed much more fulfilling.

I raised my head up to the sun, letting its warmth fill my face. I imagine being at a small oasis, poring cool water over my hot sweaty head. The soothing feeling of these opposing sensations fill my heart with calmness and tranquility. At the train station I stand in a stairwell, I can hear the wind making a gentle whisper near the hand rail. I move closer and I place my hand out as the wind seeps through my fingers. The sand falling through my fingers at the oasis, the orange light of the dusk sun. The world I’ve created is coming to a close as the train pulls into the station. The music drowns out as reality is back in motion.

The Inner Children

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Photo taken at Glastonbury Tor.

Over the the last month I’ve been undergoing a process that is not commonly experienced by the average person. Not that there is anything wrong with being average, but by going beyond the norm, you learn many more things about yourself. It started with a feeling: ashamed. I felt ashamed because I don’t have a form of income at the moment, since moving to England to be with my wife a few months ago. This circumstance and feeling didn’t just stroll along and say: “Today is the day to feel shame!” No, no, this feeling had been around for a very long time and had found its opportunity to show itself in this current situation. So, this is what I do: I lay down on my white sofa, my head placed on a soft cushion, muscles relaxed in my back and shoulders; I invite shame into my being. Discomfort trickles behind my eyelids causing twitching around my forehead. The heaviness in my chest reveals a responsibility and burden behind the shame. I ask myself: “When was the first time I felt shame?” The echo of this question vibrates throughout my body and into my soul as the blackness fills my mind, a second later I see a younger me (around 6 or 7 years old) standing in the airport. I’m looking around, frantic as I cannot find my father. I stare at my mother and I repeat “Where is Daddy!? Where is Daddy?!” My mother, her eyes glued to the person she’s talking to, ignores me. Finally, out of frustration she yells: “HE’S NOT HERE!” The younger me’s body completely tenses up, my younger sister, the other person my mother was talking to, passer-by’s, and my mother all stare at me; distressed, surprised. The intensifying feeling of helplessness, I look back at these very people looking at me, tears of restraint erupt. Shame was born that day. As I watched 525fba3c3fccedd11a17e4a9cc4ed946the younger me cry, my current shame made a link to its raw counterpart in front of me. I felt the pain of the younger me as my own tears welled, and, forming a single drop, rolled down the side of my face, dripping into my ear lobe. I am literally reliving what was once in the past. As I often do with this type of inner child work, I materialised as my current self in the time frame my younger me was in. He knew who I was immediately, as our eyes connected. I reached out to him, at the same time he reached to me and we embraced. The love in my heart expanded rapidly as this younger me had needed this love dearly. I squeezed him tightly, his head curled up in my chest, only him and I existed in the airport, like a painting on a white canvas. Soon after, the younger me began to dissolve into my being revealing shells of myself, like Russian dolls. Different ages of my being suspended as empty shells within, waiting to be filled, parts of life that had been stuck in past negative feelings, unhealed and awaiting to be integrated. As this process continues I asked the younger me: “What would you like to do now?” He lifted his head and replied “I want to fly in the clouds.” We lifted off from inside the airport, the ceiling revealing the sky with fluffy clouds, and flew through the air. Our fingers cutting into the clouds, happiness echoed in my body. Radiating energy from the centre of my chest, my eyes filled with tears of joy. The look on the younger me was breathtaking. Awakening from this delightful imaginary, I realised that much more work needs to be done and being whole is clearly in reach. Many layers of my being are stuck in different feelings, waiting to be felt. The beginning of a fine adventure for my inner children.

The Gaze (Originally 14-Jul-2014)

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Take by a Pier next to Hudson River, NYC

This woman was long awaited in my life. It took everything I experienced to shape me in the way I am now in order to be ready for her to enter my life. This picture represents the vision I’ve had of the one who I’ve dreamt about for years. My wife here, posed for me after coming from England. We met for the first time that week and married three days in. Well, we actually met on a spiritual group on Facebook prior to this photo and had been in deep conversation and bonding for about two months before physically meeting. A fairytale I had no idea would surface because we all as people tend to think we don’t deserve these things. After both of us realizing that we do, that’s how we were joined together. Until this day I see her as the other half of my soul.

The light above her head was formed when I pulled down the highlights in photoshop. It compliments the idea and feeling above her head as to signify a angel. The golden light that encompasses her face tapers the feeling that she was sent to me from the heavens, filled with the light of joy and love to be the partner I walk with until the end of days.