Resisting the Temptation To Stay Comfortably Numb And Conform In Mid-Life

After reading Kathy Gottberg’s blog on Carl Jung and the Art of Aging well, I came across her blog on mid-life comfort and the choice of adventure and possibility over conformity, safety and comfort.

Kathy has a few questions for us to ask ourselves:

  • When was the last time you did something that felt scary or pushed your limits beyond what you routinely do most days of your life?
  • Do you constantly make choices that support comfort in your experiences or do you try to mix that up with challenges?
  • Do you ignore the pain and plight of anyone outside of you family and friends out of a need to “keep what’s yours safe?”
  • Do you routinely self-medicate and go numb in order to deal with what’s going on in the world?
  • Do you avoid all risk even when things aren’t that great because, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t?”
  • Do you secretly crave to do/be/try something new and different but don’t want to rock the boat?

South Africa and the world is becoming increasingly uncertain – we never quite know what tomorrow will bring and what midnight changes there will be. It is not always easy to jump into scariness, adventure and risks in that environment and we prefer to stick to what we know.

But sadly, at the same time, more and more of our friends are dying far too young. Author and palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware shares the number one regret in her book ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’ “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

“Dwelling in middle-aged comfort, nonconformity asks us to wake up, become more conscious, and be willing to sacrifice all our preconceived certainties for the potential of what lies out of sight.” – Kathy Gottberg

So I challenge all mid-lifers to choose adventure and possibility whenever you can and live a life true to yourself – and try not to worry about the judgement of those who would prefer you not to.

 

JOIN US FOR A NIA, 5 STAGES + TRE® BODY BLEND TREAT

A sensational blend of Nia, Nia 5 Stages and TRE® (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) to fully release, nourish and revive your spirit. Drop into the body  and realign with the Nia 5 Stages + expand your body’s potential to feel and move with Nia + experience the gentle, self-controlled technique of TRE® to reconnect with your body, release stress, and bring more ease into your life!

Date: Saturday, 12th May 
Time: 2 for 2.15pm – 3.45pm
Place: OurNiaSpace Nia studio, 10 Anson Street, Observatory, Cape Town
Cost: R200
Contact: Lynne OR Nicci – nicci@niasouthafrica.co.za  082 462 4844

Nia combines dance, martial arts and mindfulness, Nia tones your body while transforming your mind. More than just a workout, Nia is a holistic fitness practice addressing each aspect of your life – body, mind and soul.

TRE® is a simple technique that helps your body release stress or tension that has accumulated from day-to-day life experiences, immediate or ongoing stressful situations, and traumatic life events. A set of simple exercises invokes a mild tremor which helps bring the nervous system back to a state of calm and balance. Once learned TRE® is a gentle and effective self-healing tool.

Some of the reported benefits of TRE® include:

  • Greater sense of calm and inner peace
  • Less anxiety and worry
  • Reduced pain
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Increased emotional resilience
  • Relief from chronic medical conditions
  • Release of muscular tension from exercise and sport
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Thriving in times of safety
  • Increased spiritual connection

Be Unique – Live Counter Culturally

“We live in a culture that begs us to conform. Through its various messages, it calls us to squeeze into its mold. It exerts external pressure on our minds to believe in and buy its opinions, hopes, and aspirations. Yet, the pursuits that define most of our culture never fully satisfy our heart and soul.

In response, the world will tell us to just run faster, reach further, work harder, make more, and become conformed more deeply. But its promised offer of fulfillment always remains out of reach. Our deepest longings are left unsatisfied.

Unfortunately, through this vicious cycle, we lose our uniqueness. We lose our passion. We lose our energy. We lose our opportunity to choose a different future. And because we are too busy chasing the wrong things, we sacrifice our opportunity to find something greater and more fulfilling in this life.

Meanwhile, our heart begs us to live differently. Our spirit calls us to seek our own passions. Our soul cries out for us to not conform. Our insides long for us to live counter cultural lives. But all too often, the external pressure from the world calls us back into conformity. And we reenter the race. How then do we break free?” – Joshua Becker

In the complete article written by Joshua Becker he provides 4 steps on how to live a counter cultural life.

Thriving with TRE® and QEC.

I recently wrote an article in the Natural Medicine World magazine about Quantum Energy Coaching (QEC) and Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®).

There is a synergy and benefit of combining these two modalities – used together they allow us to become more resilient and to move into realising our full potential.

‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’ Maya Angelou

The Ancients Knew Something That We Seem To Have Forgotten

I am fortunate enough to have travelled extensively – a lot in my own beautiful country of South Africa, to Southern and Eastern Africa, parts of ‘developing’ South America and Asia, and also to many ‘developed’ countries and major cities of the world.

I have never come back from my travels in ‘developed’ countries, especially the cities, brimming over with a sense of connection to the warmth and friendliness of the people. They are often helpful and polite – but it is not the authentic warmth that you find in less ‘sophisticated’ societies. In the cities there is a disconnection and an avoidance of eye contact. I know it is extremely childish but I love playing sweet and sour in the large cities, cheerily saying hello, and watching the reactions of all my ‘civilized’ brethren.

I recently came back from spending a few weeks in Uganda and Rwanda, both countries with traumatic histories, and was blown away by the warmth and contentment of the people (just like I was in Bhutan and the rural parts of Peru). The vast majority of people live very basic and physically hard lives, but they seem happy. I challenge all our macho Lycra clad cyclists to keep up with one of the Rwandan locals cycling up and down their numerous hills on bikes with no gears and overloaded with bags of potatoes and bananas.

What really struck me was the gentleness of many of the men in Rwanda and Uganda. Apart from our darling guide Moses – three men especially struck a cord in my heart – a Rwandan tracker next to me who calmly, wordlessly and gently put his hands around my hips to let me know not to move when a gorilla came running at me. I was balanced on a ridge and had nowhere to go but backwards down a very steep hill.

The other was a Ugandan porter who held my hand and dragged me up and down hills for four hours as we bundu bashed our way through dense forests looking for gorillas. He let my hand go once and saw me trip over fresh air and would not let me go after that. We would stop and wait for the others in the party and a few minutes later I would realise that we were still holding hands – a very intimate connection with a complete stranger –  but yet there was a spiritual sense of being nurtured by someone who was actually not a stranger.

And lastly, a Ugandan Wildlife Authorities ranger (I have never seen as many rifles in a country before – most of the rangers are part of the military and all carry a rifle) who was dispatched to find me when I was spotted from afar walking solo through a restricted area in the forest. Coming from Africa I am well aware of the dangers of wild animals and being a woman on my own, but that risk did not even enter my head. I had not noticed a very large sign warning that I was not allowed beyond a certain point without a guard. I was in such a happy bubble that my walk turned into a run as the path got narrower and narrower.  I was unaware that Kampala had been notified and that soldiers were looking for me. One very relieved and lovely rifle free guard was the first to find me on my way back – I think I ran much faster and further than anyone expected – and he happily agreed to run with me as I had misjudged an uphill and was now running late.  I ended up having four guys with guns escorting me out the restricted area. I had a half hour of questioning (sitting in a room surrounded by armed men) as to why I was in the forest, how could I not have seen the very large sign, and I kept on being told that I had broken the law, that I could have caused an international incident, and that ignorance was no defence. There was a lot of communication between my interrogators and the office in Kampala as I do not think they knew what to do with me.  Although very stern and officious the men were at no time unfriendly or intimidating or looking for bribes.  But what kept me calm was that my lovely rescuer did not leave my side at any time and seemed to have an intuitive sense of when panic started rising and would just gently tell me that all was fine. Which it was – luckily my next holiday is not going to be in a Ugandan jail.

I have been pondering as to why the people of these countries are so much more content and more intuitive – one thing is that living close to nature seems to have the effect of settling the mind and allowing people to awaken to their own inner nature, as all of nature connects in a grand web of connection. There is also more of a sense of simplicity, family and community which the western ‘developed’ world seems to have lost with its striving for material possessions, status symbols and its skewed definition of success.

As Albert Einstein says “The ancients knew something that we seem to have forgotten”.
Maybe we need to start the remembering process.

 

 

Helping Women Hold both Sorrow and Joy on Mother’s Day

“The Mother’s Day we have is not big enough to hold all of a woman’s heart on Mother’s Day. Women need a different celebration. Let’s create a different celebration that doesn’t ask a woman to hold only one side of her story about mothers and motherhood on Mother’s Day. Let’s create a different celebration that allows her to hold all of her experience so that she may weave them gratefully into a single cloth. Let’s make the celebrations and conversations as big as the hearts of the women we are celebrating.” – Gretchen Schmelzer

Another powerful post from Gretchen Schmelzera post for all mothers, daughters and sons to read.

Drinking the Tears of the World: Grief as Deep Activism

“No-one escapes suffering in this life. None of us is exempt from loss, pain, illness and death. Yet, how is it that we have so little understanding of these essential experiences? How is it we have attempted to keep grief separated from our lives and only begrudgingly acknowledge its presence in the most obvious of times. Without some measure of intimacy with grief, our capacity to be with any other emotion or experience in our life is greatly compromised. It is our unexpressed sorrows, the congested stories of loss, when left unattended, that block our access to the soul.” – Francis Weller

There is so much loss in the world at the moment – death of those too young to die, destruction of the environment, losses of homes due to fire, the slaughtering of rhino……the list goes on.

In this article on grief  Francis Weller speaks of the Four Gates of Grief:

  1. the losses connected to losing someone or something we love
  2. the grief that occurs in the places never touched by love – these are the places within us that have been wrapped in shame and that we do not show to the world
  3. the losses of the world around us
  4. the expectations coded into our physical and psychic lives – expectations of a connection with the sacred

“It is difficult to resist the temptation to retract and close down the heart to the world. What then? What becomes of our concern and our outrage for the way things are going? Too often we go numb…”

It is a long article but really worth the read.

Why We Should Start Developing Self-Compassion

I remain amazed at how much pressure parents put on their children to perform and excel – and it seems to be getting worse and worse. How do those children grow up feeling good about themselves if they do not meet their parents’ high expectations? How do they learn to have self-compassion if they are getting no compassion from their parents when they do not meet these expectations? How do they feel good about themselves without the need to compare themselves to others and the need to be better than others?

Self-compassion enables us to feel good about ourselves without having to compare ourselves to others and meet our own high expectations.

Self-compassion is a willingness to look at our own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding.  When we are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, we neither judge ourselves harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all our awesome qualities to protect our ego.  We can be self-compassionate while still accepting responsibility for our performance and we can be self-compassionate while striving for the most challenging goals.

Dr Kristen Neff  writes about how we can learn to feel good about ourselves not because we’re special and above average, but because we’re human beings intrinsically worthy of respect.

If we develop self-compassion we will also develop compassion for other people – helping to make our world a kinder place to live in.

Carl Jung And The Art of Aging Well

A new client of mine told me that one of the reasons that he had chosen to come to me for life coaching was because I was “older” and that he believes that life experience is very important. Given the fact that he is not super young himself and that the photo on my website is a few years old I did not really relish his comment. But I do completely agree with him and also why Carl Jung urges us to use the later part of our lives to become more whole by discovering who we are and wisely sharing it with others.

I have spent quite a lot of time at a retirement village recently and I do believe that western culture is not encouraging us to do this – instead our culture continues to spread the idea that aging is best either denied or concealed – often even between old people themselves.

In this article Kathy Gottberg writes that ultimately it will come down to us to answer certain questions for ourselves: Does our continued existence at our increasing older age have value? Do we have something to contribute over and beyond just existing in a fairly well preserved body and mind, with enough resources to keep us reasonably happy, until it’s over? Will we as elders have a purpose that can benefit the world and others, no matter how fit, able and active we are?

“A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning. The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….” – Carl Jung