Inspiration

Two of my favourite words at the moment are Inspire and Inspiration. These two words seem to pop up everywhere right now.

Inspire has two meanings:

  • To breathe in air- inhale
  • Fill someone the urge to do or feel something

Our breathing or respiratory cycle is divided into two phases- Inspiration and Expiration.

The most important thing we first do when we are born is that first breathe. The first time we inspire.

Throughout our lives we often pay very little attention to this important bodily function.  We may become aware if we are out of breath through exercise or illness, while other people are aware of their breath for relaxation and meditative purposes.

When the time comes and we breathe out our final breath, we expire. Our life starts when we inspire, continues as long as we carry on inspiring and when can no longer inspire, we expire.

 

There is an expression “Fear is excitement without the breath”

If this is the case, what do we need to do when faced with a fear- inspire.  Could we overcome fear by being consciously aware of our breathing?

Is it possible to conclude from this expression that fear equates to expiration (death) and excitement equates to inspiration (life)?

 

A couple of weeks ago I had an amazing experience while returning to my body during a guided mediation. As I became aware of my body, I also became aware of the finite amount of time we have here. I felt a great sense of urgency and upset because of how life can be wasted.

The last thing I experienced before fully regained consciousness was this:

Every breath we take is a gift. Why waste a single gift on hatred or fear when it could be used to inspire love and harmony.

 

Are you inspired now?

Isn’t the English language amazing?

 

Mark –The Alchemist’s Journey

Silence is Golden

img_2214
Snowdonia, Wales

 

As I sit here writing this, it is my third night sleeping in a small shepherd’s hut in the Welsh countryside. It is near freezing outside so the fire is crackling away in the corner. Occasionally I can hear an owl hoot or a passing car in the distance.

The main noise is my clothes rustling and my pen on the paper.

Earlier in the day this was not the case! All I could I hear was this internal continuous dialogue regarding work and a family concern. There was no one to talk to about these issues, so this internal dialogue continued until I stopped it.

In our current society do we require constant stimulation so that we drown out this internal dialogue? What would happen if there were no more TV, internet and mobile phones?

Strangely by chance, in the previous few days I had listened to a Mysterious Universe podcast and read a book, The Magus of Java by Kostas Danaos. In both people had left civilisation and lived in the wild for a year.

 

In the podcast they interviewed a survivalist, Lee Trew from Bluegum Bush Craft. He spent a year in the Australian bush to by himself to practice his skills. The first three months were great but then things started to get interesting! He claimed a detox started, he became psychotic, had no control over his thoughts racing through his head, experienced grief, rage and felt was going insane.

During the final 3 months he “popped through the storm cloud and came in this amazingly quiet place.” He experienced incredible synchronicities, a connection to the land and animals. He said “the distinctions between inner and outer were beginning to breakdown.”

 

In the book, The Magus of Java, the author searches for a Chinese- Javanese acupuncturist/ martial artist named John Chang or Dynamo Jack, who featured in a documentary called Ring of Fire.  The documentary shows John performing many amazing feats such as setting a newspaper on fire using just his hands and pushing a chop stick through a table.

Kostas manages to find John and becomes his apprentice. The apprentices’ training is divided into many stages. John Chang explains to Kostas how he completed his apprentices’ training.  When it came to complete level 4, John had to leave his family and home for a year to live in the jungle on the Malaysia/ Borneo border.

“I did this to reach a state of total calm. I reverted to the primitive; this is most important. Your mind must be utterly still for yang and ying to come together.”

 

Could the drowning out of our internal dialogue by TV, etc. be preventing us from furthering our personal/spiritual development? There is an expression that states, ‘what is resisted, persists’.

What if when these people retreated to nature there was nothing to do but listen to their own thoughts?

While it may not be practical to leave civilisation for a year maybe we all need to take time out so that we can acknowledge our internal dialogue. Once this is acknowledged and released allow the beautiful internal silence to return.

 

Mark –The Alchemist’s Journey

Fake it till you make it!

img_5635
Manukau Heads, Auckland, New Zealand

You may or may not have heard this expression but how does it work?

If you feel sad, how do you fake feeling happy?

If you are shy, how do you fake feeling confident?

If you are in turmoil, how do you fake internal peace?

Simple! Change your posture and the way you move! Fake the posture of the person you want to be.

Have you ever observed the posture and movement of a different people? Some people may have their head maybe slumped forward, looking down, shoulders rounded, palms facing backwards and dragging their feet.  How do you think this posture reflects their mood? This posture over a long period of time can have negative effects upon their health and well-being.

Compare the posture above to that of a person who tends to stand tall, look up, shoulders back, chest out, and has a relaxed yet purposeful walk.

By being consciously aware of your posture and how you move your body surprising things may happen. You may begin to feel like a confident happy person. The final step could happen naturally- a beautiful smile.

Due to injury I have been practising improving my posture. One of my colleagues made a positive comment regarding how I was now walking. I was very pleased.

Unfortunately a few weeks later I was having a challenging time. These issues began to dominate my thoughts and little did I notice how my posture had deteriorated.  I had to return my focus to my posture and now I am walking tall again which has left me feeling far better to face the world.

This experience made me contemplate, could adopting a confident and happy posture make you more emotionally resilient? By emotionally resilient I mean have the ability to sail over those challenges that are part of life.

 

When you next leave the house, stand up tall.

Let your arms relax and fall.

Hold your head up high,

While you look the world in the eye

Relax your mouth and let it smile.

It’s all been worth while.

 

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

Team Humanity

When people work together, great feats can be achieved.

A group of people with a common goal or objective is known as a team.

Team members need to learn how to work together, help each other to better themselves and create a positive environment that allows everyone to flourish.

To survive, early people teamed together in tribes. The goal of the tribe would have been survival. This collective goal of survival would be everyone’s primary goal and their personal goals secondary.

Nowadays it seems people’s personal goals are their primary goals. Collective goals rarely exist. People may be part of a sports team, a work team and or other organisation but this team goal is only temporary.

Collective goals only seem to arise in times of need such as natural disasters or war. In the case of war, teams oppose each other.

What could we achieve if we united with each other and learnt to help one another?

Think what miracles could be achieved if we had global collective goals? Not ideals imposed on us by governments or religious groups.

Welcome to Team Humanity!

If you choose to be part of Team Humanity, the collective goals are:

  • To be in a state of internal peace and emotional freedom
  • To treat everyone as a team member and help them realize their true potential
  • To respect mother earth and all her inhabitants

This requires you to be consciously aware of your actions every minute of every day.

It’s your choice, so welcome!

Mark – The Alchemist’s Journey

“To Realize One’s Destiny is a Person’s Only Obligation.”

13938520_10154475730010955_5322982868232854945_n
Dartmoor, England

This line is on the back cover of my favourite book- The Alchemist

The author Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian who originally wrote the book in Portuguese. It has been translated into many different languages and sold over 65 million copies. It is claimed that The Alchemist was written in only two weeks in 1987. He explained he was able to write at this pace because the story was “already written in [his] soul.”

As this book works on a soul level, every time it is read, the story has different impact.

I first read the Alchemist when I was in my early twenties and was leaving New Zealand to explore the world. At this time the focus of the book for me was the shepherd boy named Santiago following his dreams, selling his flock and searching for his treasure.

During his adventure Santiago meets The Alchemist at an oasis in the Sahara Desert. Until I read this book I had never heard of an alchemist or alchemy. As the years have passed by and the pages have been re-read, Alchemy has become an interest. Not the idea of turning lead into gold, the search for the Elixir of Life or the Philosophers Stone but the purification of one’s self. Surely nothing could be more valuable.

When I was looking for a name for this blog, I remembered The Alchemist and the profound effect it had on me. One of my other passions is travel. It is often said that life is about the journey not the destination. This is how the title of the blog came about – The Alchemist’s Journey. In essence the journey towards one’s true self.

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

 

Footnote

Whilst writing this blog I re-read The Alchemist after a couple of years. This following exert jumped out at me and would have been perfect for the blog entitled KISS.

The Alchemist is telling Santiago about alchemy. “I learned the science from my grandfather, who learned from his father and so on, back to the creation of the world. In those times, the Master Work could be written simply on an emerald. But men began to reject simple things and write tracts, interpretations and philosophical studies.”

Best Foot Forward

The view from Tower Bridge, London

They say our posture and how we stand says a lot about us but how we walk says even more. There are expressions like having a spring in our step, they are dragging their feet or plodding through life.

Standing and walking are some of our first great achievements as an infant. Soon very little attention goes into these activities. As our feet are the furthest part of our body from our head they can often be neglected.

It is said that an elephant can stand on its trainer’s foot yet the trainer’s foot remains unhurt.  If the elephant tensed its foot, the trainer’s foot would be crushed.

Today our feet are so tight and tense that if we stood on a small stone barefoot it could cause much pain. Due to the tension we hold in our body it is only natural that are feet are tense.

Through releasing the tension in our feet can we release tension in our body?

Reflexologists believe that the feet mirror the body. All organs, systems and glands of the body can be mapped onto areas of the feet called reflex points. A reflexologist knows how to stimulate the reflex points in order to bring about a response in the corresponding part of the body.

Could we through barefoot walking stimulate our feet and the corresponding part of the body?

For many thousands s of years people have been barefoot or worn simple leather sandals. People migrated hunted and ran barefoot.

Growing up in New Zealand a lot of my childhood was spent barefoot. The environment I would walk around was very different to now.  The concrete jungle we live in our feet never touch the ground. The concrete and tarmac is hard and cold.

We insulate, protect and provide cushioning to keep our feet safe and comfortable. We lose contact with mother earth. We forget the simple pleasures of damp grass or warm sand on our feet.

When I was speaking about this to a friend, they were concerned about standing on something sharp or unpleasant. My response was that we should be mindful of every step we take.  We would then be aware of any potential dangers or hazards.

Could focusing on every step we take be a form of meditation to keep us in the moment?

Should we focus on relaxing our body and centring ourselves as we walk or check our mobile phone?

Maybe we should appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

Having bare feet in our normal day to day activities may not be practical but being mindful of every step has no limitations.

Let’s all be mindful of every step we take and every step be graceful.

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

The Limitations of Happiness 

Scotland (17)
Isle of Skye, Scotland

In the blog Anger is a Gift I called anger a temporary emotion. What if all emotions should be temporary even good emotions?

Recently I heard a Mysterious Universe podcast in which they talked about cultural differences regarding depression and expectations. They spoke about how in Western culture we have an expectation that we should be happy. According to this talk, in Russia and other cultures they are more accepting and understanding of depression and other low vibration emotions.

Due to the acceptance of these emotions and the lack of expectation of being happy, people can bounce back from depression quicker. This was due to not having the added issue of feeling like a failure because of the expectation we should be happy.

What if the expectation of being happy is the cause of our unhappiness?

If we live in duality and we strive for happiness, does this not leave us open for the polar opposite- sadness?

What if the goal of happiness limits us from achieving higher states of existence?

So if we are to replace happiness as the desired emotion, what should we replace it with?

Peace!

From my experience being in a state of peace is being free from emotions. Yes emotions occur but they are brief and pass quickly.

Peace is living in the present, experiencing a great connection and leaving duality.

I believe it’s time we all stop striving for happiness and give peace a chance

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

In the Zone

Two weeks ago after work, I went for a mountain bike ride.  While crossing some tree roots, one of the roots flicked the front wheel out to the left causing me to land heavily on my right side, hurting my arm and shoulder.

Why I write about this is because of what was going on in my head.  I was thinking about a colleague who is very accident prone.  He is in a perpetual state of worry.  I was thinking that due to his constant worry he was never in the zone.

Bang I was on the ground!

Instead of focusing on the trail ahead and noticing the wet slippery roots, my mind was elsewhere.

I was not in the zone!

I was not in the flow!

The zone was a concept I first heard about when watching a documentary about big wave surfers. They spoke about how they would get into this “zone” where the only thing that existed was surfing the giant wave. Nothing else mattered. Nothing!

Anything but being in the zone could have dire consequences.

The idea of being in the zone applies to all sports but especially extreme sports and motor racing. I have watched off-road motorcycle races and as the race progressed the amateur riders would tire but the professional riders would just be in the flow. They would get into a rhythm, skimming across all the bumps, letting the bike do all the work and conserving their energy.

The same day of my fall was the mediation class I regularly attend. We discussed being in the flow but from a spiritual point of view.

This is being in a state of mindfulness and allowing the flow of manifestation.

Have you ever been in this situation? You have lost your car keys.  You just cannot find them! The more you look, the more frustrated you get! You begin to worry about being late and start to get frustrated. There are other things you need to do so you focus upon the task on hand. As you focus your mind clears and out of the blue there are the keys!

Could this not be a practical example of being in the flow?

Mindfulness  = The Zone

Being in the zone should not only be while pushing limits. We should always try being in the zone.

Life is the flow. Live in the zone!

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

Anger is a Gift

When I was in my late teens/ early twenties I loved the band, Rage Against the Machine.

If you played their track Freedom very loud, part way through the track the music would pause and quietly you could hear- Anger Is a Gift. The music would start again.


What is anger?

Anger is a natural response to feeling attacked, deceived, frustrated or treated unfairly. Everyone gets angry sometimes – it’s part of being human. It isn’t always a ‘bad’ emotion; in fact it can sometimes be useful. For example, feeling angry about something can:

  • help us identify problems or things that are hurting us
  • motivate us to create change
  • help us defend ourselves in dangerous situations by giving us a burst of energy

When is anger a problem?

Anger only becomes a problem when it harms you or people around you. This can happen when:

  • you regularly express your anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviour
  • your anger is having a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health

Taken from http://www.mind.org.uk/

 

As it says above, anger is not always negative. It can help us leave negative situations such as an abusive relationship.

While in normal circumstances it is better not to make decisions while angry as it could be later considered a knee jerk reaction.

Compared to depression, anger is full of energy but this should be a temporary emotion.

Recently I have felt like I have been releasing repressed anger. This maybe evident from my taste of music – I was very angry in my late teens and early twenties. Long term anger is not healthy. It felt stuck within my body.

The statement from above, “help us defend ourselves in dangerous situations by giving us a burst of energy” is very much making anger part of the fight or flight response.

As primitive people if we faced a fight or flight situation whichever action was taken the end result would be breathlessness!

If we ran, we would run till our lungs burnt.

If we fought, we would fight till the last breath.

Nowadays when we face a situation that causes a fight or flight reaction, very rarely do we end up running or fighting. Maybe a few heated words?

So what should we do?

Breathe!

Acknowledge and accept these emotions and breathe.

Exercise, sing and even scream! Do whatever you can to get your breath rate up and breathe out that anger. Let the calm return.

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey