What Is Spirituality?

Spirituality –

I write a lot about spirituality these days. I have always told myself that I am a spiritual person, not really knowing exactly what that meant. But, as I continue on my journey, I learn more about what it is to be in touch with your spirituality.

A lot of people think of mystics, palm readers and spiritual energy healers when they hear the word spirituality.

Spirituality is not about mysticism, magicians, healers or religion, for that matter; although many people access their sense of spirituality through religion, which can be a great method.

Spirituality is all about discovering your true nature. It is about going beyond the illusory mind, the dissolution of the ego and the sense of self, into a dimension of connectedness and oneness. It is a home coming, in recognising your true self beyond the body and the mind, beyond the material world – self-realisation.

Every life wants to be a full fledged life, and the ultimate goal of spirituality is in self-actualisation, where one gets to access their full potential.

It is about uncovering the truths about the nature of reality, liberated from the delusions created by the egoic mind.

One of the functions of the mind is to create this sense of separate self. Who you know yourself to be, by name, job title etc, this is all a construct of the egoic mind. This is not who you really are.

Those memories you hold in your mind are just a collection of events that have already passed. That body you see is just a collection of cells that last no longer than a decade before they die and regenerate. You are not the same entity as you were 10 years ago. The mind has you believe in this continuation, as it creates this illusion of time, another function for survival.

This egoic mind creates a separate sense of self, a survival mechanism that keeps you alive, but when you look hard enough you come to see that you are not separate, but rather just another small piece to this big puzzle. You are made of the same chemical elements found out far into the cosmos – essentially, you are the cosmos.

You are the observer, the one that experiences all of the physical, mental and emotional events that occur within the living body that you inhabit. These mental, emotional and physical events are not who you truly are, however most of us identify with these things as if they are ours, and that’s when we lose touch with our true nature.

Your body and your mind is your jump suit. You wear it so that your true self can experience life, but this jump suit is not you, you are the one who is watching and experiencing.

This is what spirituality is all about. It is in realising your true nature, and uncovering the nature of reality, free from the identification with mind and body – free from delusion.

Expanding Our Awareness

I have been in the meditation and yoga scene for quite a few years now. These things began as a practices to alleviate experiences with anxiety and depression, but have now turned into practices that expand my perception and awareness of reality – A practice that began as a form psychological therapy that turned into a deep spiritual practice.

Over the years, I have spent countless hours refining my skills. I stopped the counting around the 200 hour mark. I have read many books on mindfulness meditation and have heard many stories of people who have had profound experiences of contentedness and transcendence. Others claim to enter states of pure bliss and ecstasy.

I have always remained skeptical, even though I know intellectually that these experiences can happen in people, given the right conditions. I find my mind to be still full of so much tension, so much so that I still have difficulties letting go.

Although my experiences during things like seated meditation have been quite ordinary, I have adopted a new practice in walking, and this practice has really taken off for me.

I walk with no purpose. There is no destination, there are no headphones, there is no set pace. There are no goals of calories burned or kilometers traveled. Its literally a mindful stroll through the streets at a very slow pace.

Never have I felt so connected before as I do when I am on these walks. I walk passed things like trees, and its as if I am seeing these things for the first time in my life. I am seeing the colors in a way I am not used to seeing. I am smelling and hearing and experiencing things in such a different way, this sense of curiosity just overtakes me. Everything becomes so alive and vibrant, I just stare at things with so much intrigue, its like I’m seeing, hearing and smelling everything for the first time.

While on these walks, I feel so blissed out and in love with everything around me. I make eye contact and exchange smiles with the people who I walk passed, as I feel so open and connected. I am not distracted by music in my ears or a call on the phone and I have no place to be.

I’m in these states of peace and bliss and I lose touch with the chaos in the mind. Most of the time, the mind shuts off almost completely.

If I come across an object that catches my attention, I can get stuck in these small trances, where I just stare and get lost in the details of whatever it is that I am observing.

Our mind identifies objects and then comes to its quick conclusions about those objects, but the reality is, there is so much more to that object than what our minds tell us.

How often do we actually stop and truly observe these objects without coming to quick conclusions and labels?

For instance, what you see is not “just a tree”, as the mind will tell you, but rather it is a complex living mechanism, a whole system of cells that work together to create what you see. Your mind gives it its label, but in reality what you see is just 1% of the whole picture.

Hardly ever do we slow down and really pay attention to the finer details.

There is so much more to things than meets the minds eye. With curiosity and close observation, we can start to fully experience things for what they truly are.

The Madness of The Mind

One of the greatest challenges we face right now in the present is just this;

The human mind has become so programmed to constantly seek distraction. Our lives have become all about doing more. We pack our lives with things to do and we keep so busy, its almost manic.

Why do we conduct our lives this way? – Because the human mind is filled with madness and sickness. If you think about all the problems we face as individuals and as a species, they all start in the mind; world wars and genocides, just to name a couple. On the other end of the spectrum, its the sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction that we usually experience day to day.

We don’t want to face this reality of ourselves, so we keep distracted; we work longer hours, we watch more television, we eat more food, we take more drugs and alcohol and we become addicted to our technologies.

All of these things is partly because we are too afraid to face the madness going on inside each of us. As a result, we have become incapable of sitting still. We always have to be on the go – run, run, running away.

I spent many months away in a very isolated environment. I was living in a quiet Cambodian town and my only contact with people was when I was teaching at the local school. Other than that, I was all on my own. I was stuck with my thoughts and I learned after so many internal battles that there is no escaping what goes on inside.

As ugly as it can get, the mind will always be ticking over in the background, most of the time controlling how you feel and behave, especially if these thoughts occur unconsciously. There were times where I thought I was on the path to insanity, only to realise I had been there all along. There was nothing new going on here.

The mind was ticking over in its compulsive, mundane loops as it has always been. I was just more aware of this mental madness because I was forced to sit still with it. There were so few distractions, I had no place to run any longer.

Just like tragedy or death in the external world, we try and avoid some of these uncomfortable truths of our internal worlds. We don’t like to confront these things because most of the time, we dont like what we see.

Right now, we have the perfect opportunity to self inquire. People are on lock down and we now have no place to run or hide. So, go inward and watch the mind. Its in confronting our internal reality where we can begin to face our fears and then let go, without masking the truth with our short term band-aid solutions we are so accustomed to applying.

Entry Into Bachelor’s of Psychological Science – The Start of A New Journey

An offer of admission letter from the university of Wollongong for a bachelors of psychological science.

When I started This is Philanthropy, it was for a few reasons. One, I wanted to document my experience as a humanitarian worker in the hope to inspire and educate people around some of the social issues faced in overseas third world countries.

Another reason for starting the page was to build a platform through a content strategy that made people aware that whatever path I choose to go down, it’s always going to be focused towards nourishing and developing upon the well being of humanity.

Throughout my journey so far, I have learned that when working with people in any given context, it’s good to have a solid base of knowledge in business. That’s the case for when working alongside NGOs as a humanitarian worker. Commerce and philanthropy go hand in hand, if you are to create systems that improve upon current conditions.

But I also realised that having obtaining knowledge in the sciences is equally important. We are biological and psychological beings, and so a solid base of knowledge and wisdom in these fields is necessary for the sake of people’s development and well being.

In the context of the third world, people struggle to obtain things like education and medical support. In the first world, mental health is one of our biggest problems we currently face, and so it is important for me to be well versed in some of these areas.

I look forward to starting my next journey as a student in the sciences, building upon my aspirations to be part of this mental health crisis we experience in these more developed countries.

I’ve always said that philanthropy to me means more than signing a cheque. I believe philanthropy is also, if not more about being on the ground and working in the trenches, first hand. This is my way of being directly involved in people’s development, health and well being.

It Is Time To Go Inward

Be careful with how comfortable you become with material things. Be wary of how accustomed you are to high living. These things are like potent drugs – once you set that standard, its very hard to turn back.

Think about this – You get a job and it pays well. For the time being, you are satisfied. What keeps you in this job is the continuous increase in income its providing. On the outside, life seems good. You can purchase that fancy car, those nice clothes and you can go out for expensive dinners without a worry for the bank account.

But what happens the day you decide you no longer enjoy this job, or better yet, what happens when you discover you never liked the job to begin with? – You were just lured in by the seductive pay check.

How hard will it be then to give up that fancy lifestyle you created? You got yourself into the habit of picking at the finer things in life. Sacrificing all of that now seems impossible, because your whole identity is now tied in to your status, your title, the clothes you wear and the car you drive.

If you get your sense of fulfillment from the material things, then you leave yourself open and vulnerable because you are relying on something outside of yourself to bring you that sense of happiness and fulfillment that we are all fundamentally seeking out.

You leave yourself closed off to some of the opportunities and experiences that can develop and nourish your life, because you can no longer let go of this addictive, drug-like way of living.

It could mean that you choose to do things like stay in that job that makes you miserable and not going for the things that make you feel passionate and inspired, just because you cant let go of the dollar.

Technology is growing at exponential rates. Each of us will need to undergo career re-invention at some point. That could well mean taking a huge pay cuts. In this case, its important we learn to get humble.

During a time like this when global finance is at huge risk, its important to learn how to get fulfillment and happiness from things that aren’t material, because tomorrow things may change for the worst. Its important to learn how to live humbly, exposing yourself to a more simpler way of living.

Its not about giving anything up. In fact, you only have to gain – that sense of liberation when you realise there is more to life than the “things”.

Don’t get me wrong, nice things are nice. But they are only nice until you realise that nothing will ever be enough. You can chase and chase, like a hamster on a wheel. You will never reach your destination, because it simply doesn’t exist.

The only real destination that exists is the one within yourself.

Love During Times of Adversity

Times are tough for all of humanity. We are experiencing unprecedented events that are unfolding before us, bringing about this strange sense of uncertainty and sometimes doom.

Its during these times where we band together to offer each other love and hope – these are two of the strongest forces in our nature that will help us weather the storms.

I dont mean love in the romantic sense, but the love that comes with our desire to live life and contribute towards its well being. This is the type of love we must approach with.

What does it mean when we stare down adversity in this way? It means we must all step up and apply our courage and intelligence. These moments of adversity are the moments that bring about breakthroughs, as we learn from the lessons that help us realise that what we thought to be true was completely false, and that it is time to re-calibrate and find new trajectories that help advance us and our quality of life.

People are being told to stay indoors, and with that comes anxiety. But, now is the perfect opportunity to sit with whatever is going on, turning inward so that we can gain more insight into the true nature of who we are.

If we can find a sense of stillness during times of havoc, then we can begin to learn more about how external factors in life need not be the catalyst for how we feel on the inside. Life will happen, both good and bad – this is the nature of the beast.

Nature doesn’t know the difference between good and bad, it just operates the way it knows. Its our perception of these events that give them their labels. By using these rocky events as opportunities for self inquiry, we can start to see that external events need not control the way we feel and perceive.

We then get to decide from within ourselves how we want to respond as individuals and as a collective community.

The Tendency To Run

We all have the tendency to run away from difficult emotions and feelings.

This is the nature of the human mind. It wants to desperately avoid pain and chase pleasure.

Imagine yourself in an open grass field. There are two cats; one big scary one which you are trying to run from because you are afraid it will attack you, and a small one you want to catch because you think it’s adorable.

You end up running around in circles, trying to balance out the two extremes. You want to, so desperately save your life, but you are also extremely fixated on capturing this small cat.

This is what the mind does with pleasure and pain. The problem is, it’s a never ending battle because wherever you go, there will always be pleasure to chase and pain to deflect and avoid.

It’s in constantly avoiding and running from this pain where we suppress and reject the discomfort of some of our thoughts and emotions.

Because you have not taken the time to confront them and let your body process them naturally, these emotions get stored in different parts of the body, keeping you in a constant state of things like; anger, frustration, loneliness, emptiness and fear.

How can these things be stored in the body?

A thought begins in the mind. A thought about how much you hate your boss, or how much your partner frustrates you, or how much that person pissed you off, or how scared you are about so and so.

These thoughts in regards to fear or frustration or anger start in the brain and then become feelings in the body. These electrochemical signals that began as thought in the brain, their chemicals get released into the bloodstream and eventually get to the organs in your body.

These emotions that come from chemicals in the brain and body are forms of energy, and when you are stuck in a certain emotional pattern, your body cops a beating because there is all of this blocked energy sitting in different parts of your body.

It’s crazy to believe that this all began with a thought in the mind.

If you continue to have these thoughts, then your brain is going to continue to pump out all of those toxic chemicals to the body and those toxic chemicals of anger or fear are going to get stored in the body, continuing to feed those toxic thought patterns.

Sometimes, something as simple as lower back pain can be traced back to stress in the mind.

So then, what’s the solution?

There are many things one can do, such as changing the biochemistry of the body with nutrition. It’s like a pharmacy in there, with all these different chemicals. You can eat certain foods which helps balance out those chemicals, favourably. If emotions come in the form of these chemical signatures, then we can change those with the good things we feed our body.

Some esoteric practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation help.

Yesterday, I was dealing with some very difficult emotions. These emotions have been lingering for many months; fear, guilt, frustration, anger.

I observed how I respond to these, and I found that a lot of the time I would walk to the fridge to stuff my face with food, or I will light up a cigarette, just to deal with the discomfort.

But then, I decided to change things around and instead of reacting to the feelings this way, I sat on my bed in silence, closed my eyes and just sat in the body.

I confronted these feelings head on by simply just feeling them through.

It was painful and confronting, because I wasn’t drowning the mind in television or food or cigarettes like usual. I was there with them, allowing for my body and mind to fully become aware of them so I could process them and then let them go.

I woke up today feeling slightly different to yesterday, and I am excited to continue this process of sitting with pain and discomfort.

It’s in sitting with it and coming to a place of acceptance where you can begin to slowly peal away the layers of letting go.

On a biochemical level, your body and mind are well off because you are no longer stuck in an emotion and feeling which was most likely caused by a situation from the past.