Poetry: Torn

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Photo taken in Mottisfont, UK

A foot in this world, another else where, polarities pull.
From a time without an ending, like a dream, I am suddenly alive.
Traveling through the murkiness of my reality, I loose my true self.
Years and years, a child, a teenager, a young man, a grown adult, navigating; the blind leading the blind.

Undoubtedly searching, a light outside to my inside, only to further sink in the quicksands of darkness.

When things no longer can get darker than any darkness, a light flickers.
Only descending will allow me to ascend.

The slip to regain balance, I stumble for alignment.
How true is light if it is not seen from my own consciousness?
The echoes of eternity beating in my own heart.

Cultivating in the warmth of my own light, I am pure and strong.
The sands of time are no more, only a budding flower in my sun.
Watching conversations of my ego to my heart, they struggle needlessly.
A coin of two sides not knowing they are one.
Outside of polarities, my feet firmly and sturdy, I am my true self, without any bounds.

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.

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 2

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Taken at the Glastonbury Tor, UK

Revealing another one of my inner work experiences, which involves taking a feeling to explore and guiding it towards integration. For this particular feeling some very new discoveries and old mysteries emerge.

I started with the feeling of unworthiness. A current situation that resulted in me feeling this was not receiving attention from the friends I consider close and dear to me. Moving to England had taken its toll on me and I needed them the most, those that were back in New York City. Once again I settle into my meditative state and allow the feeling of unworthiness consume me. It rushes over me like a flame on paper, sinking to my stomach (solar plexus) area, vibrating like the sound a rock makes as it hits the bottom of an empty drum.

“When was the first time you felt unworthiness?” My inner voice mutters, as I poke energetically through the darkness, waiting for an image to appear. In a matter of moments a memory appeared when I was about 12 or 13 years old, a girl I liked with long black hair and pale skin play-fighting with another one of my male friends. Play-fighting on my couch in the first apartment I grew up in, the younger me had invited her to the apartment because he was very fond of her, but because he was overly shy he asked his other friend to join them. The younger me watched as I could feel from him the unworthiness of being unable to have her touch and receive her playful smile. However, I knew it wasn’t the original birthplace of unworthiness. I watched it for a while longer as I could feel the emanating rays of unworthiness coming from the younger version of myself.

It took a little longer than normal. Since I do the process so much, I would automatically assume the origin of a feeling would appear around the toddler age — a thought of daycare emerged. This version of myself was roughly 3 to 5 years of age. At that age I was very attached to my mother, whenever I was taken to daycare I would become very upset when my mother left me there. I would cry because she left me, an aspect of the origin of unworthinesses revealed itself. I couldn’t believe how little it took to feel unworthy, just this action, but then something else revealed itself instantly. The head care taker, a beautiful woman whose name I still remember till this day, held me in her arms. I watched how this woman held the younger me as if I were her own. He, the younger me, looked at her with great intensity, he was in love with this woman. What I felt from my younger self lit up my entire body like a christmas tree, immediately, tears of uncontrollable happiness flooded out of my eyes. The tender feeling of concentrated love beamed into the younger me as the care taker looked right back into his eyes with the same intensity. A mixture of romantic love and motherly love filled my mind, her dark hair with fair white skin, the birth of my preference in women.

Part of the inner child work (if you choose to go further into this) is to change aspects of the past with a version that would better suit you. By recreating this memory you realign the energy of yourself that has been distorted. Watching the immense love coming from the care taker I decided to assign her as my mother. The current version of myself materialised in the room and I stood with both of them, my hand around my caretaker as the younger me in her arms. As soon as that happened I was propelled to the first memory of my 12-13 year old version of myself that had been watching the girl he liked having fun with his other male friend. I appeared behind him and put my hands on his shoulders. He looked up at me and we both looked at the two playing, my caretaker also emerged and knelt down next to the younger me. She stroked his cheek and the intense feeling of love encased him. This version of myself had dissolved into my being and filled the empty shell that had been displayed to me before (in previous post). I proceeded by asking the younger me: “What would you like to do now?” He said confidently, “I don’t want my friend to be here, I just want her with me.” And so we made it so that the girl was alone with him and it was revealed to me the possibility that that girl didn’t really find the other guy interesting but had wanted to be just with me the entire time. I felt an instant release in my current body, which filled my heart.

This process was so intense that afterwards I felt exhausted. The rest of the day I was depleted and slept really well that night. A discovery within discoveries happened in that session, one in which I’m extremely proud of.

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.

Serene (Originally 27-Jul-2014)

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Photo taken by Hudson River, NYC 

Calmness rests on the shoulders of the light-hearted, strength comes from the foundation of the present. Little pressure is needed to make anything move, believing in what has always been yours, is the anchor to balance. Stillness in the mist of chaos is where the true self lay, to search needlessly outside the self only ages the process. Control is the illusion that the ego thrives on, serenity is the true essence of the soul. Focusing on the present moment unshackles the grips of the future and the past, here and now is all you have.