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 The permission

to be human 

                   

                Ula Moleda                                                                                       

         Permission to be human                                               

The other day, I was thinking about my next book, the characters, their problems and the solutions they find and, when I looked at them in my mind (yes, I actually see those characters in my mind, it’s like watching a movie) I saw them in a little café called ‘Pinocchio’. I saw them putting on masks when entering the room, mingling, having a good time, making up stories, lying and laughing and, then changing the masks and starting to play different roles, telling different stories, depend on the mask they wore.

Suddenly, I realized that there are times when we play Pinocchio’s role – not being truthful to ourselves. The result, in the short run, may be that our noses will get a little bit bigger and we may not like what we see in the mirror. However, in the long run, a life of playing Pinocchio’s role on the stage of life’s theater may be a great deception. And, very often, a life of great deception becomes a life of great depression.

So, I kept asking myself ‘why’. Well, a question starts the quest. It can direct us to a certain part of reality and it can also create a very specific reality. So, when I closed my eyes again, I heard ‘acceptance’ in my mind. Acceptance of what?! Acceptance from others? No, that is actually where the whole problem begins! I closed my eyes again. Next thing, my favorite Persian mystic Rumi came to help my searching mind with his beautiful poem: The Guest House. 

This being human is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably. 

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the same, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Alan Watts kept saying that the perfectly wise man is the one who realizes vividly that the ideal place is the one where you are. He also said: ‘So, if you do find out, by any chance, who you really are, instead of becoming merely lazy, you start laughing. And laughing leads to dancing, and dancing needs music, and we can play with each other for a change.’ Well, he sounds more like Osho here, but the point, a very important point, is that he didn’t mean only the physical place but also, or maybe more so, the mental state of our minds. The ‘wise man’ realizes that the ideal state is the state of acceptance – of our positive and less positive emotions. And he also says: ‘For all ideas of self-improvement and of becoming or getting something in the future relate solely to our abstract image of ourselves. To follow them is to give ever more reality to that image. On the other hand, our true, non-conceptual self is already the Buddha and needs no improvement. In the course of time it may grow, but one does not blame an egg for not being a chicken; still less does one criticize a pig for having a shorter neck than a giraffe.’

There is nothing good or bad in experiencing envy, anger, frustration, sadness, joy, happiness… they are all part of human experience, part of human nature. All those emotions make us much more colorful, interesting, much more human. The key is that even the painful emotions are as much as part of human nature as the law of gravity is a part of physical nature. Imagine, you don't like the law of gravity and, therefore, don't accept it. Well, you may not survive for a long time. Refusing to accept something that is here, whether we like it or not, leads to life of frustration.

Last night I saw the movie ‘Snowden’; in short, it is about the government spying on its own citizens, so it can control society. No freedom, no privacy. I was so angry that I could not even talk about it. But, then, I reminded myself of the words of a wise man, the Buddha, that holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. So I felt the anger, accepted it and I let go of it. As you see, the Buddha never said ‘feeling the anger’ but ‘holding on to anger’. Maybe he knew that when we suppress feelings, they just intensify and, in modern, New Age terminology, by doing that we are giving our inner power away to them; our life-force energy is leaking. The more we resist negative emotions, the more they have a grip on us. Whatever we resist, it persists.

So, the point here is not to suppress our feelings – whether they are ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ – but to recognize, experience, accept and let go of them (I am going to call this process REAL). Not holding on to them, over-analyzing, letting them controlling our lives – but simply, giving ourselves the permission to be human – feel it, accept it, and to recognize them for what they are, e.g. anger can be our expression of how we seek to create an illusion of control where we feel none. The key is not in control, but in total acceptance of all our parts and pieces.

What if you are truly giving yourself the permission to be human? Won't life become lighter and simpler? Rather than fighting and resisting, accepting our nature? Rather than wearing different masks, simply accepting our true face? Unless you are in a quest for some kind of perfection of yourself, acceptance of who you are and following your own nature may be the answer. When we stop fighting and start accepting, our energy expands and we become more receptive to our true nature, our source, our own power, the Divine within.

Be REAL.

The permission to be human – it isn’t an excuse and it doesn’t mean that we let our emotions play like the wild horses in the steppes of Mongolia. It doesn’t mean that we can use emotions to control other people, to hurt them or ourselves. It simply means that we do recognize them and accept for what they are, we realize that there is nothing good or bad in experiencing them, we accept them and, at the same time, we are strengthening our psychological immune system. According to positive psychology professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, ‘Our psychological immune system strengthens when we give ourselves the permission to be human. Giving ourselves the permission to be human is a pillar of healthy life, psychologically and physically. If we give ourselves the permission to be human, we will also give others the permission to be human.’

As humans, we do need a safe space.  Not a Pinocchio Café, where we put masks on – but a space within ourselves, with our family and close friends, where we feel safe to talk about true feelings, ideas, experiences; a secure place where we can take the mask off and sit naked in front of someone who cares, where we can just be; be REAL.

And being naked means also trusting oneself and the ones to whom we are opening. Trusting the process of opening and being true to oneself. Trusting that the negative feelings are covering the diamond within that wants to shine, but may need a better understanding of its own beautiful nature.

There is no need to be over-identified with negative or even positive thoughts and feelings about ourselves; they are the messengers trying to bring messages to our awareness – that’s all. Instead of fighting with them or trying to kill them, listen to the messages they are bringing to your conscious self. Recognize them, experience, accept and let go of them. It’s REAL. Be REAL.

As you may know, my answer to almost everything is meditation. It is an amazing tool that really changed my life, but if you are not the one who likes sitting quietly, doing nothing, then you may use the simplest tool available to all of us – our breath. By using your inhalation and exhalation to guide you through a feeling, you will discover the power within you to release it, transform it, understand it, accept it. It may take you a few minutes or hours to go completely through a challenging feeling – stay open to the experience, observe the play, the actors, accept it with no judgment and, when you are ready, let go of it. By doing/being REAL, you will discover a beautiful state of understanding, the state of liberation where the truth sets you free. 

And, then, as a Zen master said, ‘Nothing is left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh.’

There is a beautiful poem called ‘Treatise on Faith in the Mind’ by Seng-Ts’an, the Chinese Buddhist monk (with definite Taoist flavor), showing the attitude of trusting people to follow their nature:

Follow your nature and accord with the Tao;

Saunter along and stop worrying.

If your thoughts are tied, you spoil what is genuine.…

Don’t be antagonistic to the world of the senses,

For when you are not antagonistic to it,

It turns out to be the same as complete Awakening.

The wise person does not strive (wu-wei);

The ignorant man ties himself up.…

If you work on your mind with your mind,

How can you avoid an immense confusion?

 

Keep REAL.

 

Be healthy, be happy, be blessed,

With Love and Light, Ula