The biggest obstacle to personal growth

“Sometimes success needs interruption to regain focus and shake off complacency”

– Lennox Lewis-

If there is one positive outcome of the pandemic it is that a growing number of people are seeking spiritual meaning and truth with the specter of death serving as a daily reminder of the impermanence of life.

A culture, feeding on the need for immediate gratification and the addiction to more of everything, is inherently disconnected from the spiritual. Complacency and familiarization are the enemy of spiritual growth and raised consciousness.

Success inevitably breeds complacency

It is a dangerous time when the ego shines in its glory and becomes immune to any type of criticism or alternative suggestion. I was recently told the story of a very successful young stockbroker who earned millions but then through a string of bad decisions ended up broke, losing his wife, home, Ferrari sports car, and all the other trappings of wealth. He had failed to foresee market changes, hear the warnings, and adapt accordingly.

Familiarization and relationship decay

In relationships, we fall into the trap of familiarization where we become blind to the positive attributes of our partner and take everything for granted. There is that initial high in the romantic phase where everything is seen through rosy eyes. Then reality starts to set in. The nuances of change, beauty, and preciousness are being taken for granted. A negative cloud of boredom, unhappiness, and familiar routine stifles all creativity and growth. Both partners fail to adapt to inevitable changes in personal needs each blaming the other for their unhappiness.

We take friends, family, colleagues, and long-term business partners for granted, forgetting to give them the validation that every human being yearns for until they are no longer there and we ask ourselves why we didn’t find the time to show them mindful appreciation.

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What comes after reaching the pinnacle of success?

We see it time and again with highly successful athletes, movie stars, politicians, and entrepreneurs. Once they have reached the pinnacle of success it doesn’t get any better. Popstar Michael Jackson became deeply unhappy, losing his vast fortune when he realized that he would never again repeat the success of his single “Thriller” that topped the charts in 13 countries and sold more than seven million copies in the US alone.

Life purpose and meaning change several times during a lifetime. Impermanence is the seed that is sown by the universe to keep us inflow and to prevent us from falling into the trap of complacency that is defined as a feeling of smugness or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.

It is our destiny to constantly grow, adapt, change, and learn to be alert and curious

It is a recipe for unhappiness when you start losing your curiosity and the willingness to learn. We are living in an age when we have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Isn’t it time to start a new hobby, learn a new language, or build something? Check out even simple courses of learning that you can download for a cheap fee here.

How many people that you know are saving all their energy for the day when they retire and can finally start living the life of their dreams. When the day comes they discover that they have all the time chased an illusion. The body decides that it is no longer needed and succumbs to illness and decay.

The biggest myth about our daily lives of “stressful living” is that stress is inherently bad. A more or less permanent emotional and physical stress situation indeed is very unhealthy and will inevitably lead to serious mental and physical illness.

But when we are in a healthy sprint and recovery cycle short bouts of stress trigger those energies that we need to overcome a challenge. We sometimes need that extra burst of adrenaline to score a goal and to focus all our intention on a victory.

Facing a global challenge such as the pandemic is also a huge chance for humanity to grow both on a collective and individual level. Our world will never be the same again. The great Buddhist master of mindfulness teaching Thich Nhat Hanh, who died last week at the age of 95, once said: “It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Depression and the deeper message

As a child, I was frequently confronted with episodes when Dad would withdraw behind a thick grey wall of brooding silence. Only much later in life, when confronting my own demons, did I begin to understand the meaning of depression and what profound effect it can have on family and relationships.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression with the Covid-19 pandemic having further impacted mental health on multiple levels as we deal with the loss of control and personal freedoms.

It is part of the human condition that we go through stages of melancholy sadness but depression is characterized by the WHO as a condition when a person suffers for a longer period of several weeks loss of pleasure in all things, hopelessness in the future, fatigue, low self-esteem and self-worth coupled with frequent suicidal thoughts.

When to ask for help

When you or a loved one are in such a situation it is advisable to seek professional help. Medication can be necessary, especially when hereditary factors or biological issues such as hormones and serotonin levels in the brain play a role. However, medication is not a quick fix and therapy must be understood as a long-term journey to improving the quality of life.

Depression has many facets and is intertwined with an individual’s response and coping mechanism to external stressors. Childhood trauma or emotional neglect could be underlying factors for low-esteem and self-worth, seeding the depression. And, sometimes depression is disguised as a job burnout or a midlife crisis because of the social stigma attached to mental health.

Losing the sense of meaning and purpose in life could be triggered after a relationship breakdown, loss of a loved one, job loss, or the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. A personal tragedy can be so overwhelming that the individual is unable to find a way out without professional help.

Finding new meaning and purpose

What we do know is that most forms of depression are treatable. Low-impact sport and a healthy diet rich in fatty acids and low on sugars and processed foods play an important part in brain health. At the same time finding new purpose and meaning with the help of a good therapist or mentor is key.

There is a lovely quote from Mark Twain that “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” The “why” need not be the one silver arrow. Very often people are passionate about a certain career path in the early part of their life and then find out decades later that they need to walk a new path.

Learning from the pain and trauma

Everything that you have experienced or suffered so far in life has prepared you for the next step. What did I need to learn from my divorce? Has it left me with resentment fear and hate? Or, has it taught me to forgive, improved my social skillset, and made me into a more compassionate human being?

Finding a new challenge and stepping out of the normal comfort zone of complacency is a major antidote to depression. When you reflect on your life so far you will always find some stories where you chalked up victories and personal accomplishments. You can add to that success list by finding a new challenge.

For me, such a challenge was walking the Camino in northwestern Spain for the first time in 2007. I was in a very bad place at the time going through a tumultuous relationship and finding myself on the edge of a job burnout. You can read my story in the book: “Walking on Edge: A pilgrimage to Santiago”

I now take the time each year for a personal retreat. Walking one more stage of the Camino has become my annual detox and timeout for realignment and soul replenishment.

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What is your inner dialogue?

How are you talking to yourself? Is your self-talk predominantly negative or positive? You have the power to change your thoughts and your mindset. Predominantly positive people are more successful, happier, and content. We like to have those people around us. When they walk into a room there is a different energy. While those people who are cynical and only focused on the dark side of life inevitably pull you down. You can shift those dark emotions by replacing them with positive thoughts. What makes you laugh? What are the five things that you experienced during the past 24 hours that you can be truly grateful for? Training the mind is like training the body in physical exercise. It takes practice and sometimes we have to simply empty the mind from all those dancing monkeys in the head moving between the pain of the past and the fear of the future.

The healing power of community

Our modern culture of individualism has mutated into narcissism and loss of community bonding. We, humans, are social beings. We are formed by the nature of our associations and primary family connections. We all need a supportive network of long-term friends, family, and community that provides positive validation. Volunteering in a group or a community for a useful project, charity, or church group that improves the lives of others changes the perspective from self-absorption to giving for others in a worse situation. Find a reason to do something for the good of something.

Repurposing failure, tragedy, and grief

Some of the world’s greatest minds have turned a personal tragedy, humiliation, or failure into success by repurposing their experience into new meaning.

Andrew Carnegie, arguably one of the most successful industrialists ever, emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 12 to avoid starvation in Scotland. He eventually amassed a vast fortune in the iron and steel industry but spent most of his later life on philanthropic projects including the establishment of 3,000 public libraries in the United States, England, and Canada.

Charles Dickens’s greatest works of fiction came from a dark place after losing his father and one of his daughters within a week. At the age of twelve Dickens was forced to work with working-class men and boys in a shoe polish factory while his father was in a debtor’s prison. This experience shaped his views of the harshness of the industrial world confronting human values.

Oprah Winfrey, raped, molested, and beaten in early childhood, faced many struggles before becoming one of the world’s most famous talk show hosts. She told fellow chat show host David Letterman that through all of the pain and struggle, she was thankful, “for everything that has happened. I would take nothing from my journey.”

Tony Robbins came from a dysfunctional family and was thrown out of his home by an abusive mother. The experience turned him into one of the world’s top motivational speakers, best-selling author of self-help books, and life coach.

In a world addicted to immediate gratification and quick-fix solutions – take a pill and it will go away – the individual going through a hard time is often told: “Get over it and move on.” Every person has a different rhythm when dealing with grief or trauma. That sadness over the loss of a loved one remains for a lifetime but over time it can take on a different perspective.

Those “dark night of the soul” moments force a look inside. A crisis reveals what needs to be changed. Complacency is the biggest obstacle to soul connection and elevation of consciousness. During times of pain and grief, we dig deep into the resources of resilience for that next hill to climb on life’s journey of growth and evolution and ultimately fulfillment of soul destiny.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Opening the window to soul connection

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

– Confucius

A spider will seldom build its web between two hard objects, rather choosing flexible places such as blades of grass or corn so that when a strong wind comes it will not tear the masterpiece asunder. It will go with the flow, bending and finding balance with the forces of nature.

In the same way body and mind need to find connection with the internal rhythm that is soul purpose and meaning. Sadly, what we are currently seeing in the collective mindset is very much the hardening of attitudes and beliefs.

The fixed mindset and fear

A fixed mindset and fanaticism of all persuasion come from a place of darkness, fear and uncontrolled toxic emotion. The fear is rooted in fear of change that results in the desperate clinging and hardening of position to an illusory place of safety. The dancing monkeys in the head are preoccupied with thousands of thoughts a day revolving around the fear of loss and fulfilling basic external needs.

As we face the challenges of an ever more dynamic world with massive economic, social, institutional, and psychological change, resistance to the disruption of the status quo is increasing.

But this is also a time of great opportunity. There is elevation of consciousness if the fear can be transmuted into courage, and opportunity can be seen in creating a new earth.

In the words of Suzy Kassem: “Sometimes we have to soak ourselves in the tears and fears of the past to water our future gardens.”

Living a life in the Having or BEING

The ego mindset is preoccupied with having and chasing after someplace in the distant future when life can start happening, and a life of happiness can finally be lived. The heart mindset is about living to BE. In BEING fully in the present moment connection to soul purpose and meaning can be found. Our beliefs and values provide the roadmap of the path we choose to walk.

Discontent, resentment, and anger reveal that values and beliefs are misplaced and that they need to be reconfigured and realigned. The higher senses are muted. The general energy frequency of mind and body is lowered and fail to perceive the whispers from the universe. Hardened attitudes and beliefs separate from true being and soul connection.

There is a wonderful phrase from Jesus in the original Aramaic version of the Beatitude: “Tubwehun I’ makiche d’hinon nertun arha.” This roughly translates to: “Renewal to those in emotional turmoil and blessed are those who can soften that which has hardened in their bodies.”

Moving forward from a place of unhappiness can be the biggest change motivator. Remaining flexible and bowing with the wind to find that equilibrium is what nature teaches us. Our destiny is ultimately elevation of consciousness and growth. It’s opening the window to the soul and allowing the light of beauty, harmony and love to enter the room.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Managing your life with clear intention

It’s the time of year again when wishes are expressed and ambitious goals are set but when looking back at the same time the previous year. How many of those goals did you realistically achieve? Most New Year intentions are scuttled before the month of January is over.

Here is how you can better manage your goals and set out a clear plan of action for the coming months without falling into the typical traps.

All those “positive-thinking” self-help books are telling you to dream big and that nothing is impossible. Visualize your perfect life send the message out to the universe and voila your wishes shall be fulfilled. The disappointment is big when reality catches up. Sometimes also the dream come true can turn out to be a nightmare if it is not in sync with your soul purpose.

There are several steps that you can follow in better managing your life instead of blaming everyone from the government to your boss, spouse, or colleagues for being responsible for your dire situation.

Create a plan of action

Without a clear plan of action e.g. to exercise daily at a certain time to reduce weight or to set aside a certain amount in a savings plan per month, your intention will remain vague and merely a wish. See every small step of the plan of action as building the first bridge of many bridges toward what will one day manifest into that big dream.

Keep it simple and realistic

When writing down your goals you have to look at the baseline from where you are coming from. Is the goal a realistic objective for the coming months? Is it really achievable? Is the timeline realistic? If you set the goalposts too high you will soon get frustrated and surrender into self-blame and self-pity.

Clarify your intention

You need to be very clear on why you want something or why you want to achieve a certain goal. Do you want to earn a million dollars a year just to impress the nasty neighbor across the road? Or do you need more money to leave a positive footprint for the greater good? Do you want to lose weight to impress others or because you want to lead a healthier life so that you can see your grandchildren grow up?

Intention and soul purpose

Every individual has a unique purpose and destiny. The more connected you become to your soul through meditation or taking time out for silence or deep walking in nature the more you will become aware that the universe or God is always there, leading, protecting, and guiding you. We as a society have become so indoctrinated by false images that we have become disconnected from real BEING. It is mostly about accumulating external glitter. Real happiness comes from within. Connection to authenticity manifests in all other areas of life such as family, relationships, interaction with the world, and all it has to offer.

As a regular subscriber to my Blog you can download my FREE vision board that will help you map out your goals and intentions for the coming months.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Recasting yourself for 2022

“In every change, in every falling leaf, there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”
― Amit Ray

The past two years have been a rough ride for many people. Many of us no doubt went into the year thinking the pandemic would soon be over. It seems now, however, that we will just have to learn to live different lives than we had envisioned.

One of the laws of life is unpredictability. At the same time our habits, fears, and mental resilience, in essence, determine how we deal with unexpected changes and challenges.

It is when the rug is pulled from your feet when the familiar map disappears when you are forced out of home territory that the universe is also offering you the greatest opportunity to reframe and redefine yourself.

How did you start the previous year?

Life is never a linear trajectory. How you look at things is a matter of mindset and perspective. How about looking back at the beginning of the old year and what thoughts you had then. Did you have any resolutions on how you would approach the year? Did those resolutions come to fruition? In fact, studies show that most people give up on their resolutions before the month of January has even ended.

A much better way of starting the New Year is by reflecting on the blessings of the past year. What were those five best moments and successes you had? Looking back will help you pick up on the positive lessons you learned and what positive habits you can build on. 

  • What three key lessons did I learn during the past twelve months?
  • What has to be accepted that cannot be changed?
  • What old relationships, concepts, and ideas do I have to liberate myself from?
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Starting a daily gratitude ritual

Numerous studies show that people who have a daily gratitude practice and who count their blessings are happier in their lives. It shifts your attention from what is negative to what is positive in your life.

There are two exercises you could do in making the start of the year more positive. Start and end your day with a gratitude ritual. What three major positive experiences, meetings, or insights did I have during the past 24 hours?

We instinctively know that living a more fulfilled and happier life is linked to what habits we pursue. This is why we like to clean the slate and start the New Year with a positive outlook. But there are two common mistakes why most people give up on their good intentions:

  • The plan is too ambitious and unrealistic. A long list of all the things you want to change will leave you with nothing done. Keep what you want to change short, simple and realistic. If you want to get out of debt. Start by putting a small amount of money onto a savings account every month and don’t touch it. If you want to exercise more, start with a short ten-minute walk instead of trying to do a half hour every day. Improve on your diet and avoid all white sugars as a first start. Small changes in your daily routine, done every day of every week and every month bring about the big changes.
  • Negative self-talk will inevitably scuttle all your good intentions. How you talk to yourself has an immense influence. “I will never be able to do this?” “I’m not good at this.” “I was just born fat and ugly.” “Life is just the way it is and I just have to bear with it.” Try to turn the conversation around. “What can I learn from this?” “I love and accept myself unconditionally.” “I am blessed, everything is good and will turn out fine in the end.”

Change comes with small steps

Changing your set routines and habits starts with small steps. A good way of tricking the mind into doing something positive is by “piggybacking” a positive habit with an existing habit. If you have to take the dog out for a walk anyway, try taking a different route next time and walking a little longer. Or park the car some distance away from your workplace so that you are forced to do that extra walking. Replace a negative thought with a positive thought. Try breaking typical routines like reading a chapter in a good self-help book instead of spending the evening watching Netflix.

Highly successful people never rest on their laurels. They are continuously refining their self-development, knowledge, associations, physical and mental well-being. It is in finding a true purpose that we become who we are meant to be from the day we were born. Quiet moments of introspection, meditation, and deep walking in nature are crucial for realignment and aligning your intentions with the intentions of the universe.

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Positive relationships

The pandemic has spotlighted how important our close relationships and network of supportive people can be during a time of crisis. Everything becomes so much easier if we are not “in it alone”. We are social beings. It is part of our DNA to feel seen, heard, and loved by those people most important in our life. If you are surrounded by positive-minded, uplifting people your stress resilience will be so much higher than that person who locks himself in a room and blames everyone else in the world for his misery. Good relationships are nurtured by reciprocity. If you are having trouble building friendships and maintaining long-term relationships, you need to ask yourself: What can I change in my behavior and thought patterns to draw the people into my life who do me good?

Life is a roller-coaster of constant change. We move through stages of joy, happiness, melancholy sadness, or frustration. The human story is marked by loss, failure, and setback. But is also one of joy, happiness, and celebration of the beauty that is life. It is the law of the yin and yang. If you are having a hard time at this point in your life you can be assured that this too will pass.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Authenticity versus narcissism

Chances are if you are following the crowd, you’re following the wrong path.

– Bob Proctor

Narcissism is defined as an excessive interest and or admiration of the self. The basic human need to be validated and to be heard however seems to have fallen prey to the stranglehold of the ego-mind in a society obsessed with the glitter of immediate gratification.

The need to conform to societal parameters of success, beauty, or fame comes with the high price of disconnect from soul nature and authenticity with all the resulting consequences in the form of stress and mental illness.

Teenagers moving from childhood to adulthood in the struggle of finding their identity are particularly vulnerable to the dictates of the fashion, norms, and cultural beacons of their peer group. Those not following the crowd are bullied into isolation and will feel particularly suicidal if they do not have a safety net to fall back on.

Unsurprisingly we are seeing an exponential rise in mental illness and suicides among teenagers. Suicides among adolescents and young adults aged 10-24 have increased in the United States by nearly 60 percent in the period 2007-2018. Researchers pinpoint multiple causes but the negative effects of excessive use of social media are undisputed.

Creating a brand on social media has become in vogue. The lifestyle and “happy images” posted on social platforms have become the perfect platform for what has ballooned into a collective narcissistic culture.

Seldom do we see portrayed the authentic circumstances of a person’s struggles, pains, and up-and-down cycles triggered by life’s circumstances. It becomes a major mental stress factor to conform to an artificial image that bears little resemblance to what is real and authentic. The echo chambers of the media industry are ruthless when the cracks to authenticity begin to show. Here are some of the differences between narcissism and authenticity:

  • While narcissism is directed toward external validation and acceptance, authenticity turns inward to galvanise the forces of unconditional service to a bigger cause.
  • Narcisissism is immune to self-development and will defend with all means available the right to be right and the image it has created. Authenticity is open to constant adaptation, evaluation, growth and elevation of consciousness. It will admit to mistakes and failure.
  • Narcisissm is anchored within imagined thought and personality while authenticity is rooted within soul and heart.

Much of the mental exhaustion we are seeing around us stems from the lack of authenticity and disconnect from soul nature. The pain will at some point become unbearable when all the energy is focused on creating an external image that is incongruent with soul destiny.

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Children still connected to their true nature will sometimes tear down the facade of image and conformity, much to the embarrassment of the adults around. It is why Jesus once said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

It is a call to reconnect to the innocent authenticity of the child. When you do what you are destined to become you will connect to the inner child and feel an expansion of energy, vitality, and connection. Can you recall an incident from your childhood when you last felt unconditional love and joy? Those are the clues to follow when it comes to connecting the dots that lead you from the head mind into the heart-mind of authenticity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Family and Christmas: Joy or challenge?

If you think you are enlightened go spend a week with your family

– Ram Dass-

As we approach the festive season you might be feeling a little trepidation as expectations run high and family dynamics inevitably come into play. It’s a time where also the shadows from the past can come to a head.

Expectation and reality

Especially for those on the path of self-development the quote from Ram Dass is so revealing because it is easy to fall into the trap of the spiritual ego that is telling you: “I’m done with that. I’ve got it now. I’ve learned my lesson. Everyone else in the family has just not got it yet.”

Relationship with parents is challenging because it inevitably defines all future relationships on a subliminal level. A strong emotional bond can swing on the pendulum from love and affection to anger, aggression, disappointment, and melancholy sadness.

The major disappointment stems from the societal indoctrination of the perfect Christmas show. The reality is that families go through break-ups, separation, loss, and all the dynamics that come with multiple patchwork constellations.

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Avoiding the booby traps

Families are a reflection of society and we are seeing increasing divisiveness fanned by the information silos of social media. Children are severing all ties with parents and vice versa over even such issues as political and religious affiliation, vaccinations, or climate change. It is even more difficult to accept a differing opinion from somebody who is a cherished family member. Moreover, these topical issues are often a smokescreen of much deeper underlying conflicts, stemming from childhood hurts or trauma. It explains much of the heated exchanges and arguments over “an issue”.

Mindful acceptance

It is in most cases wasted energy to engage in an argument with a family member, or anyone else for that matter if an opinion becomes a belief. This is sometimes the best approach: “I hear you. I see you. I love and respect you but I beg to differ on that matter and we should just leave it at that.”

The spiritual lesson

There is much to be said about the Buddhist teachings on the Karmic bonds between family members where we enter “into soul contractual” agreements prior to birth in order to elevate our spiritual consciousness.

Family constellation therapy can reveal those defining behavior patterns and traits that often go back many generations in the family lineage. How we relate to our parents, the primordial relationship pinpoints at the same time the greatest lessons we need to learn.

Family: The blessing and the curse

If you come from a family where traumatic emotional and physical abuse was the norm a strong separation boundary is often the only solution. Even, what we term as a “normal family” would in most cases realistically be defined as dysfunctional. Often what is seen as “harmonious” from the outside is a shrewd strategy to conform to societal expectations – a particularly common trait during the 1950s – and we all know how that turned out.

We, humans, are complex multi-faceted beings. Family is more often than not constant crisis-management in juggling different needs and expectations. It is the same challenge we face in all our relationships in communicating these different perspectives. We need more humble acceptance that we are incomplete beings.

The point of life is that it was never meant to be an easy ride in a comfort zone. Every crisis is merely putting the finger in the wound of where the seeds of opportunity lie waiting for further growth, change, and evolution of consciousness.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Is humanity doomed?

A crew of fishermen sailed far onto the ocean. They waited patiently to pull in their catch when one of the men suddenly started punching a hole in the boat with an ax. Aghast the others pleaded with him to stop as they would all sink and drown. Unperturbed the man responded: “But this is my spot and I can do here as I please.”

The analogy is fitting when I read and hear arguments from friends who are still refusing to get vaccinated against COVID. Apart from arguments that it is “all a plot from big pharma” to the many side effects a vaccine could have, I’m also hearing that “it’s my body and my choice.”

Almost certainly you will also have such friends and family members. Engaging in an argument with them is wasted energy. You can only hope that they will at some point change their mindset.

Once an opinion becomes a belief and part of ego-identity, people hardly ever change their minds. An ego-mind will never admit that it was wrong and had all the time placed its bets on the wrong horse.

The pandemic has many lessons for humanity

The pandemic has many lessons for humanity as it transitions to the higher consciousness and the realization that we are one humanity. At the same time, we are seeing massive pushback from that side of humanity that refuses to progress into the new era and is clasping to outlived egocentric ideologies.

The virus is showing little regard for geographic boundaries and rich nations are beginning to realize that vaccines can’t be hoarded and should be made available to every human being on the planet. Societies are at the same time being torn apart over the question of how much we are willing to sacrifice our individual liberties and freedom of movement to protect the most vulnerable amongst us.

Like the man trying to cut a hole in the boat, there are limits to our high western ideal of individual liberty and freedom. It stops at that cutting edge where individual behavior and choice negatively impact society and humanity as a whole. Our societies would indeed be poorer on multiple levels if we lose our compassion for the weakest amongst us.

Our other big challenge, the climate crisis and humanity’s impact on entire ecosystems, is likewise showing us that we can only survive if we agree on some basic values and truths on how to keep the boat afloat.

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The fear of change

Every crisis at the same time lays bare where action needs to be taken. The solutions to winning the war over the pandemic and solving the climate crisis are well known. But humans are naturally averse to making changes, especially taking action that involves personal sacrifice.

In the same way, people will remain in notoriously dysfunctional relationships for years or stay in unhappy jobs because they are more afraid of change than remaining in the status quo. For, at its lowest denominator it remains a “predictable place of safety.”

However, there inevitably comes a point where the pain of the status quo becomes so painful that you will be galvanized into action. It’s like the alcoholic denying he has a real problem for many years until that one experience or epiphany has such impact that it pivots him into going into rehab.

You do not have to wait for that big moment of pain and darkest night of the soul moment. The universe, God, or divine intelligence, will always be dropping waymarkers along the way when you are moving in the wrong direction.

When you try to force the boat upstream you will eventually lose willpower and energy. By imposing or forcing an issue you inevitably go into tension. A solution can never be found during a stressed-out state of mind. A high level of stress hormones puts the body in a fight or flight mode. The solution might be right in front of you and you will not see it.

This is why we need a good balance between stress and recuperation cycles. Your mind will answer the most vexing question if you learn to put those dancing monkeys in the head at rest by learning to relax body, mind, and spirit.

Stress always begins with a thought and mostly it is about things outside of your control. If you adopt the attitude that ultimately everything serves a purpose and in some way happens for you instead of against you, everything becomes easier to deal with.

Alignment exercises can be a huge help. These could be anything from taking a deep walking nature meditation, alternate breathing, yoga, qi gong, and tai chi. The ancient low-impact body arts are becoming ever more popular methods of reconnection and alignment into that inner space of truth and authenticity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When nature moves closer

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

—Lao Tzu

Relationship to the self defines the relationship to nature. For too long we as humans have defined ourselves as a separate entity to the natural world that needed to be controlled, exploited, and subjugated. Gradually the realization is dawning that nature is an expression of the divine and that we are an integral part of the whole.

Feeling, breathing, and aligning with nature during a deep walking experience is one of the most underrated and best forms of healing, especially when you might be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by all the negativity of the external world.

Aligning and healing with the help of nature

Some years ago I had a profound experience on one of my pilgrimage walks on the Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain. I started the walk feeling exhausted and stressed out. Inevitably my thoughts would wander back to the daily treadmill of life.

Then, in the following days, as I found my natural walking rhythm I noticed nature coming closer. I was starting to smell the grasses and herbs along the path. Birds would fly close by, stray dogs would follow me for part of the way. On the mountain tops of the Camino Primitivo giant vultures sat motionless a mere two arms lengths away.

I started practicing going in sync with my surroundings by attuning my senses to one element in nature at a time. It would either be the butterflies dancing ahead of me, the calming sound of a creek nearby or just feeling the sensation of a breeze against my skin.

Immersing in nature in this way, I found, has an enormously regenerative and calming effect on all senses. I practice these exercises in nature now as often as I can, having the added benefit of living on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean.

Science confirms the positive effects of the green and blue spaces

Several scientific studies have meanwhile confirmed that the connection with the blue and green spaces in nature has many positive physical and psychological effects. Humans are naturally drawn to a beautiful river or lake.

The Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, has been proven to reduce stress hormone levels and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Trees and plants emit substances called phytoncides which have been found to boost the immune system. 

Studies by Qing Li, a Japanese scientist who has been carrying out shinrin yoku research for many years, showed that Forest Bathing increases the Natural Killer cell activity in people, with at least some of this effect coming from phytoncides.

David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, conducted a study in which participants saw a 50 percent improvement in creative problem solving after only three days immersed in nature with all access to modern technology removed.

We are very much a species that has lost its way, having become disconnected from nature while emphasizing technological advancement. It has become more pronounced in recent years with the addiction to digital gadgets with the average person in the United States spending about ten hours a day glued to a computer, smartphone, or television screen.

The sages of old, the Mystics and Shamans, have all tought us that nature offers so many important lessons if we would only stop and listen. Every significant place and and animal has a story and a legend. By reconnecting with nature we return to ancient wisdom, to a place of solitude deep inside – the power of the present moment.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The monkey in a cage

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached. ”
― Simone Weil

Much of what I’m seeing and hearing in the public discourse reminds me of how trappers in the wild catch a monkey. All it takes is a small cage with a bunch of bananas inside. The monkey will grab the tasty treat through a hole in the cage. But when trying to pull out the banana the hole is too small. The monkey will refuse to let go of the banana. Even with a real threat, the hunter, coming closer the monkey will still refuse to let go and is captured.

It is much the same with fixated beliefs, ideologies, and political persuasions. I read the other day a report of Covid patients still refusing to believe they had been infected with the virus while dying in a hospital intensive care unit. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. But if you are unable to adapt, change or review your opinion in the light of new evidence or facts you are also refusing to grow and elevate your consciousness.

So many minds, it appears are captured by the drumbeat of information silos where we are seeing debate marked by an extremely negative and divisive narrative. During these times it has become more important than ever to remain aligned with that inner spark of peace and beauty.

How we speak and what we speak about is a reflection of our thoughts. The actions we take are a reflection of how connected we are to the heart mind and soul nature. Evil thoughts and evil actions inevitably lead to evil fortune.

The wisdom of the ancient Mystics can be a good guideline. Basic human nature has not changed much over the centuries. There will always be a segment of people who don’t give any regard to the outcome of their actions. Meister Eckhart, the great Dominican friar of the early fourteenth century, warned against those whose “sole concern is how to gain honors, wealth and pleasure.”

These people, according to Eckart, are those who lack all sense of humility by “running in front of God.” Inevitably their lives will be haunted by what they call bad luck or a bad hand. They will be blaming God, fate, people different from themselves, and basically everyone for what has gone wrong in their lives. They are filled with hate, resentment, and anger. They are the malignant narcissists of our age who seek only personal validation and glory. They will never change their opinion and are captured by attachment.

Letting go of attachments

Attachment can be defined as a strong emotional bond to a person, thing, or cause. In extreme cases, it can be closely intertwined with personal perception and identity.

According to Eckart, there are those “imperfect” people who “walk close by God”, wishing to lead God rather than be led by him. They would like God’s will to be their will. We are seeing much of this behavior in religious and political fundamentalism. They are idealists at heart believing that the world would be an entirely different place if a certain ideology. belief or behavior is adhered to.

The “perfect” ones bow to humility in following God on a path that can also be one of hardship and suffering but ultimately leads to a life of bliss and happiness, according to Eckardt. It is what the Buddhists call living a life liberated from all forms of attachment.

It can also be understood as finding the connection to the inner spark of truth. Joy is found in the truth which all desire that is the pursuit of God’s will, according to Eckart. The Mystic describes walking the path of truth and pursuing the will of God as “an ardent desire” where we are “illuminated and captivated by the depth of our being.” Walking behind is described as “sinking into the essences” of all things.

Surrendering to a higher will instead of trying to impose your will is key to effective visualization practice. If desire becomes attachment you will be held captive to procrastination and be closing the door to the flow of the Tao or the universal energy. This is at the root of much of the unhappiness we are seeing around us. Attachment prevents the view from a different perspective where often the solution lies. You have to let go of everything “to win everything.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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