Remembering the Basics
Remembering the Basics
By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
As we progress along our journey of psycho-spiritual development it is often very easy to become enthralled in the latest and newest ideas or philosophies all the while forgetting some of the most basic ideas we learned when we began our path. The basics that we did learn were there to help us take care of ourselves and assist us in moving through an ever changing landscape that we call life. Our ability to handle life changes and our ever increasing levels of personal and spiritual awareness requires 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 also 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 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 are using needs to be taken care of to ensure the journey continues as planned. Basic up keep, tune-ups, fuel, rest for the vehicle and check up by the mechanic will ensure the enjoyment of the journey.
The cornerstone of all spiritual development, regardless of your personal tradition, is meditation. The benefits of mediation practices are indisputable for their effect on the human 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 twist 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 your breathing. Slow, measured and keeping your 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 our 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 the most profound and longest lasting benefits for your body, mind and spirit. Set aside just a few minutes, and if nothing else, just breathe.
As we continue to study personal and spiritual growth we slowly unravel more and more about our self. Old memories, old feelings, new insights and ideas are all part of the reward of taking the time to discover our self. At times though, we need to be able to put these layers of our self into perspective. As almost everything in our mind runs at some level through our emotions our ability to be clear can be hindered. As our emotions have built in defenses some of what we really need to know about our self can be distorted in order to make reality more palatable and the truth so much easier to handle. We really need to have some one to guide us through these levels and assist us in putting things into perspective.
The person best suited for this is someone we are not friends with or have an emotional attachment to. Friends are important to have but it can burden them to have to listen while you are going through these new insights and perhaps old feelings. Also friends are rarely objective. Friends will hold back in order not to offend us or risk having you angry with them as well as they themselves may not want you to change, so their own issues will get in the way of your growth. The third party Counsellor is willing to risk offending you in order to really assist you in developing clarity and has no personal attachment to your life.
Each step of our journey leads us to new levels of understanding and awareness. Whether you have 3 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 is like going to the dentist, there may be nothing wrong but check ups are important for our on going 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 us 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 throws of stressful situations 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.