I wrote about anxiety last week, and how it can affect us in so many ways – from the way we sound and appear, to how we can be affected physically. Even when we deal well with anxiety the anxious thoughts still sometimes hover and wait in the wings – waiting for the guard to drop and the mindfulness to lose its helpful grip for a while. If, like me, you spend a lot of time reading about self-help and enlightenment you will know what I mean when I say that mindfulness and reaching that absolute place of understanding where we ‘get it’ and nothing can bother us any more is definitely an ongoing process which needs constant monitoring! (Although, if you have ‘got it’ you may well disagree with me…actually, you probably won’t be reading this anyway, you will be somewhere on cloud nine.)
I can’t recall a time in the past when there was so much helpful information readily available to us on the subject of self-help and spiritual fitness. It’s a good thing. It’s a great and empowering thing. There is something for all of us, whether we lean toward religious solace, a more healthy body and mind, spiritual advancement, meditation, yoga, finding the best retreat, positivity workshops…… I could go on…..
The benefit in all this help and information is huge. With all the help at our disposal we will find something we really find beneficial for sure. We will, sooner or later, have our own particular author or life-style guru who really speaks to us and shows us a way forward when we need it from time to time.
I was a nurse for many years, and I can think of countless times when I had to dig deep and give comfort. To be able to reach out and support people in times of tremendous need was of utmost importance, especially when busy and working in a stressful environment. I hope I gave my best. Mostly I feel I did. But it would have been good to have had more helpful ways of releasing the tension after a busy shift than going to the pub around the corner from the hospital! Maybe I wasn’t ready then to read the books that would have been helpful – perhaps I was finding my own way then and gaining experience in life. It is said that the teacher comes when the pupil is ready.
And I think it is good to remind ourselves sometimes that simple acts of kindness are within us all. To remember that inherent wisdom and compassion is deep within us, even embedded in our DNA. We are braver and wiser than we think. Mindfulness and deep thinking has been around far longer than we have . Self-help is not really new. Ancient philosophers had figured out life over 2,000 years ago. Quotes from so long ago never cease to amaze me and make me realise that everything changes yet nothing changes!
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’ Heraclitus (lived around 500 years BC in Ephesus.)
Like many big thinkers, Heraclitus was born wealthy in a city, but lived in the woods to contemplate the universe.
The sage ” is ready to use all situations and doesn’t waste anything. This is called embodying the light.”
Lao Tzu alive around 600 BC in China.
The Lao Tzu started Taoism 2,500 years ago in China. He was legendary – Lao Tzu really just means ‘old man’ and nobody knows who he actually was. He certainly made a big impression! More importantly, he left us the ‘Tao Te Ching” which is full of ancient wisdom.
“To rank the effort above the prize may be called love.” Confucius, alive in China around 500 BC.
Confucius is probably the most influential person in Chinese history. He emphasised what we today call grit: finding the value in trying and not just arriving.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates Lived in Athens around 450 BC
Socrates embodied the fundamental spirit of Western thought that you have the responsibility of being in charge of your own life.
Perhaps the most beautiful words of all ;
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
Rumi, poet born 1207
So today we are lucky with the resources we have – both the old and the new. We may just need to remind ourselves to open our hearts to new learning. To rid ourselves of negative thoughts and change our thinking so we can move forward with positivity and embrace change whilst learning also from the past. Nothing, and I mean nothing that is good is ever lost even when it is centuries old.
As human beings we will always be searching for a newer, better and easier way to find fulfillment. Next time your heart is a little heavy, just remember there is always a way forward. And as I have said before, if you are anxious you are not alone. You can take comfort from the fact that for centuries we have yearned to find new wisdom and ways to help us move forward and probably will for centuries to come. And we have survived.