Remembering the Basics

As we progress along our journey, it is often easy to become enthralled with the latest ideas or philosophies while forgetting some of the most basic ideas we learned when we began our path. These basics were there to help us take care of ourselves and assist us in moving through an ever-changing landscape called Life. Our ability to handle life changes and our increasing levels of personal and spiritual awareness require us to ensure we have important activities and support services in place to facilitate our own self care.

Interestingly, the longer an individual is on the path of personal and spiritual growth, the less likely they are to follow the most basic precepts of self-care. The usual litany of reasons used can be: not enough time; I’ve already done a ton of work; I have been doing this for so long it is just automatic for me.

Another reason is embarrassment to seek out help because we may have a critical message that says “after all this study and work you should know how to deal with your own problems; after all you are helping others with their stuff.”

If we hold to the idea that this journey is a pathway without a destination and each step can take us to deeper levels of self, then we need to have resources that help us to keep a perspective on our learning. The general experience is: the deeper you go into this awareness the more your life learning can be accelerated. An analogy might be taking a road trip to destinations unknown. The vehicle you use needs to be taken care of to ensure the journey continues as planned. Basic upkeep, tune-ups, fuel, rest for the vehicle, and check-up by a mechanic will ensure the enjoyment of the journey.

MEDITATION

The cornerstone of all spiritual development, regardless of your personal tradition, is meditation. The benefits of meditation practices are indisputable for their effect on the body and mind. Stress reduction, lowered blood pressure, lowered heart and respiratory rates all combine to allow the body to heal, repair and offset certain disease processes. Its ability to calm the mind leads to a greater sense of well-being and use of beneficial coping mechanisms when dealing with life’s twists and turns. The greater your sense of connectedness and groundedness to your self and your environment the more positive your body and mind will respond to life.

The absolute basics of any meditation begin with breathing. Slow, measured, and keeping awareness on your breathing are keys to slowing everything down. Allowing your body to relax, focusing on areas that are holding stress or illness, provides an opportunity for all bodily functions to enter into a state of greater equilibrium, thereby enhancing overall health.

Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School coined this as “The Relaxation Response”. The opening, balancing and closing of our energy centres or Chakras will help to clear old energies and stress we may be holding and provide a sense of grounding and connection.

As you are reading this you may be thinking … I know all this stuff. You may even teach these ideas and practices, but are you doing them for your self? The basics of meditation provide profound and long lasting benefits for your body, mind and spirit. Set aside a few minutes, and if nothing else, just breathe.

COUNSELLING

As we continue to study personal and spiritual growth we unravel more about our self. Old memories, old feelings, new insights and ideas are all part of the reward of taking time to discover our self. At times though, we need to be able to put these layers of our self into perspective. As our emotions have built in defences, some of what we really need to know about our self can be distorted in order to make reality more palatable and the truth easier to handle. We really need to have someone to guide us through these levels and assist in putting things into perspective.

Friends are important to have but it can burden them to have to listen while you are going through new insights and perhaps old feelings. Also friends are rarely objective. Friends will hold back in order not to offend us. And they themselves may not want you to change, so their own issues will get in the way of your growth. But a third party Counsellor is willing to risk offending you in order to really assist you in developing clarity. Each step of our journey leads us to new levels of understanding and awareness. Whether you have three hours or 300 hours of therapy under your belt, going to see a Counsellor regularly is the best thing you can to for yourself. It’s like going to the dentist; there may be nothing wrong but check-ups are important for ongoing health. The biggest problem for those who have done lots of therapy and may even be therapists themselves is to bite the bullet, get past your pride and continue to work with a therapist.

Life at times will deliver emotional blows like the death of a parent or spouse, loss of a job or loss of our health. Each person copes differently but the important thing here is we must at some point be able to deal with it in a healthy life affirming way. It doesn’t matter how advanced we may think we are, life will shake us up at times. It is the wise person who continually keeps things in perspective. When we are in the throes of a stressful situation it is much more difficult to learn and implement the basics of meditation and counselling practices. If we continually practise these basics then when life does throw us a curve ball we already have an arsenal of self care techniques to draw upon to help get us through the situation. The basics are there for a reason; let’s remember to use them.

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