Category Archives: mental-health

The walk alone

The ancient masters of all the great religions recommended time alone as a crucial means of discovering authentic self.

It was the 40 days that Jesus took for time alone in the desert to confront his own shadow and the demons of temptation.  Moses removed himself alone to Mount Sinai to receive the ten commandments from God.

Before his enlightenment the Buddha retreated for an extended time in the forests, and often went into silent retreats during his lifetime. He however cautioned that “one who goes into solitude will either sink to the bottom or rise to the top,” meaning you have to do it for the right reasons.

It is in the time spent alone that we come closest to the divine and our life purpose, especially if it is time alone in nature.

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The Chinese masters of the body arts such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong called the empty space between the spokes of the wheel more important than the spoke itself.

It is in that empty dark space between the stars where you can touch the divine.

Confronting distraction

We as a society are obsessed with what the wise ancients called the distractions of the 10,000 things. Countless things pull at our attention every day in this digital age:

The news media feed on negative news, the constant subliminal messages working our emotions instill a need for material things we mostly don’t need. There is confusion between necessity and want.

It is no coincidence that with the addiction to distraction there are very few people who can truly bear to spend time alone, and be without the constant chatter.

There is such a great quote from Robin Williams that really sums it up nicely:

 “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

We are thus constantly seeking the accolades through social media as a reassurance. But it will seldom lead you onto the path of deeper spiritual experience.

Discover self by being alone

It is during the walk alone, the time-out during a silent retreat and the alone time in nature where the gateway to the soul opens and you begin to realize who you truly are.

It is the  time when we confront our own shadow, explore the world within, and find out where we need to take the next step.

It is during the alone time that we discover the heart, the love and the divine within. It is who we truly are and that which soul wants to illuminate.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Finding purpose with deep walking

My next book “Deep Walking – for Body, Mind and Soul” will soon be on the market.  It is about finding purpose during that void of inner silence that comes with deep walking.

We need to listen to nature

While writing the book I so often came to a point of writer’s block or procrastination. A new inspiration always came after going for a walk in nature. I think this is a dilemma most of us face in the modern world. We are spending too much time indoors, and it’s making us sick and moody.

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The disconnect from nature and the wisdom of the universe, has separated our species from the web of creation. This is why we are treating ourselves and the environment with such disrespect. What is happening within reflects what is happening in the outer world.

At the crossroads – depression and suicides have reached epidemic proportions

Humans are creative and exceptional beings. But we are very much at the crossroads where decisions made today will determine the future of our species in the next half century. I’ve said it often on these pages: The Western mind has sacrificed its soul to the golden calf of immediate external material gratification.  The result: Depression and mental illnesses have reached epidemic proportions. Something is out of order when one person commits suicide every 40 seconds. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group 15-24 in the United States!

Religious dogma from the past is not giving answers

A growing number of people are feeling this intuitively and are searching for new meaning and purpose. They are not finding the answers in the religious dogma of old that is telling us to believe in this or that. The new spiritual consciousness comes from an individual experience. It is why more than 300,000 people from all walks of life, different nationalities and faith, walk the pilgrimage path in Spain, the Camino, every year.  You can get my tips on preparing  for the Camino here: Preparation Camino.

The difference between a hike and a pilgrimage

It is a phenomenon I came across the very first time I walked the Camino in 2007. There  is a huge difference between just taking a hike for exercise purposes and going on a deep walking experience lasting several weeks, especially on a pilgrimage path walked by pilgrims for centuries.  Get my tips on preparing for the Camino here:

Nobody who walks the Camino with serious and mindful intent, comes back the same. As you walk from day to day through rain, mud and hot sun, passing village after village and climbing mountain top after mountain top, a mystery unfolds from within. When the many external distractions fall away, the empty space where we stop thinking opens and the universe, or God, can finally speak to us.

We can find this experience in meditation and other spiritual practices. I’ve found that deep walking in nature to be an exceptionally meditative experience, taking time out from the rat-race that has become our world, aligning with the above and the below with every mindful step.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Mastering the Mundane

Sometimes political events starkly reveal the current nature of the collective mind.

What is playing out in the current midterm elections in the United States is much related to a deeply suppressed shadow. The nation appears at the edge between two opposites of a raging river cutting through the heart of America.

The tendency to extremist positions is often rooted in deep uncertainties and fears, in the U.S. probably stemming from the times of the civil war. On the fringes of society you will then see the triggering of the pent-up fury of disturbed personalities – dispatching pipe bombs or going on a killing spree in a synagogue

The challenge in the law of opposites is finding the middle ground−that difficult territory where the truth has many shades of grey.

The Chinese masters placed great emphasis on this aspect−not only as crucial in the martial arts but as a life philosophy.

Without solid foundation in dealing with the everyday mundane any type of self-development will come to naught.

The ancient Jewish sages went further in teaching that if we failed to master the normal daily activities such as looking after our health, nutrition, relationships and livelihood−we couldn’t hope to advance to higher spiritual experience.

Thus, a good portion of life in the monastery is spent in cleaning, gardening and other menial chores. It is not only a practice in humility but stems from the knowledge that mastering the mundane is the gateway to loftier spheres.

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Photo by Eduardo Prim on Unsplash

Physical exercise and the mindful carrying out of mundane chores are excellent for grounding. If your work is mostly in a sitting position in an office it is crucial to use breaks for walking or other exercises.

The “Yoga  tree routine” is especially effective as a grounding morning exercise.

  • Fold your hands with the forefingers touching each other.
  • Ground yourself with your right foot, imagining roots like those of a tree growing from the center of your foot deep into the earth.
  • Place your left foot at the height of your right knee and then lift your hands with forefingers pointed to the sky above the focal point of your skull.
  • Imgine that you are mentally connected by a stream of energy to the sky above your head and the earth below your foot.
  • Repeat the exercise with the left foot.
  • You can close the exercise with a powerful mantra or prayer aligning all your activities of the day with what God, the universe or any other deity has planned for you that day.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Reconnecting with ancestral roots

Our ancestors from centuries ago might be influencing our lives in more ways than we might be aware of.

Cultures steeped in tradition and ritual, place great value on their history and ancestral roots. Much of this has been lost in the modern materialist world−which then finds an unhealthy avenue in extreme nationalism.

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There is a long tradition on the Camino in Spain that reminded me a lot of the Zulu culture in South Africa.

The Zulu greeting “sawbona” means “I see you” to which the fellow being greeted responds with “yebo”, or yes and I see you too.

In the rural Zululand of my childhood the conversation would then continue with strangers exchanging their names and asking each other the names of their parents and grandparents and from what village they came from so that the ancestral tree to the tribe or clan could be recognized.

The Zulus journeyed mostly on foot, and would pile stone cairns at key junctions as a mark of respect to the ancestors and asking them for a safe journey. In the Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal there is a massive stone cairn that dates back to the stone ages.

I was surprised to find this tradition also on the Camino and learned that similar rituals also exist in other cultures such as the Inuit, American Indians and Celts from which the practice probably came in Spain.

In medieval times it was common for one member of a family to walk the Camino to atone for the sins of the entire clan. The family would in return collect funds to finance the pilgrimage.

The pilgrimage began after crossing the threshold of his front door, and after being granted permission to leave by his local religious authorities. Before leaving he had attended mass where his staff and scrip were blessed by the priest.

It would be months, sometimes more than a year before he returned−if he was lucky. Many pilgrims did not survive the journey, making the ultimate sacrifice.

Along the Camino, the pilgrim would add a rock to the cairns at the wayside, saying a prayer for a member of the family going down the line of the family tree, starting with the parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the other members of the clan.

Today the tradition continues and many of the cairns have rocks with prayer inscriptions for a deceased loved one, someone going through a serious illness or a special wish.

Genetic research is still a young science but some scientists believe that some of our habits, traumas, memories and survival instincts are imprinted in our genes from our ancestors. An ancestor born centuries ago could still be impacting your life. Ancestral memories could be passed on for 14 generations, according to one body of research.

We are who we are not only because of the influences from our immediate friends and the environment in which we live but it also appears, that some of our habits, fears and talents are inherited from our ancestors.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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Embrace Your Self

When I watch an animal, like my dog Klara, I cannot but help think that we humans are just about the most disconnected species around.

Animals are totally connected to their immediate environment, sniffing, smelling and using all their senses to imbibe the immediate moment with no past or future.

I mentioned in a previous blog that it seems that much of the Western mind seems to have lost its soul in the mad rush for immediate gratification, and the addiction to external approval  in its many variations.

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Photo by William Farlow

It has become very difficult to discern who we really are on a soul-purpose level when we are bombarded by countless distractions from the moment we get up in the morning, and take that stretch toward the smart phone.  Most of these forces want to make us believe in self-images, or “false Gods”, with a manipulative purpose. Many of the rich and famous “role models” on glitzy magazine covers show exceedingly dysfunctional behavior. Some are obviously very unhappy people.

A growing number of neuroscientists even believe that we are a species with no free will, and can be manipulated in any direction if the communicator knows how to play the reptilian part of the brain – the oldest part of the brain – with strong emotions such as anger and fear.

The historian and author of  the book “Sapiens – A brief history of humankind”, Yuval Noah Harari, said recently that he is most concerned that “we are close to the point when an external system can understand your feelings better than you. We’ve already seen a glimpse of it in the last epidemic of fake news.”

Knowing and embracing your true self can thus become a matter of survival. If we don’t live our true self, we can become very unhappy, and fall ill because the body is always reflecting what is happening in the mind.

Finding and embracing yourself is pretty easy by taking time out for introspection. This can be anything from time for prayer, meditation, pilgrimage walks, body-mind retreats and other methods that bring us back into alignment with the higher or true self. We need to learn again who we really are.

Liberating yourself from the powers of distraction, that alienate you from your true self, is the real challenge of our time. 

Each one of us alive today has a spark of the divine, has desire and purpose, unique abilities and something precious to give back.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor and Consultant 

https://www.reinogevers.com

     

 

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When the shadow takes over

The ancient teachers of Jewish mysticism and self-development warned their students to be very watchful of the shadow side of character taking hold the further they walked the spiritual path.

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The universe has a way of rewarding the “enlightened spirit” with power, wealth and influence. Whether these tools are used for the betterment of all living things and the raising of collective consciousness depends on character.

True character shows itself when man or woman is entrusted with influence and power over others. Some film, sports and rock stars have realized that with fame comes responsibility. Too many others have succumbed to substance and alcohol abuse.

Current world leaders appear to be driven by narcissism and self-aggrandizement, taking humanity many steps backwards at a time when vision and sense of purpose are required to address the challenges of our time.

But it is too easy to blame these leaders for “our misery”. They merely reflect what is happening with human consciousness at a deeper level. These leaders did not just happen. Democracy is a fragile plant that needs to be nurtured and protected.

We are living in an age where the shadow side of humanity such as narcissism and xenophobia are fueled by social media. Sound science, research and historical facts are buried in an avalanche of fake news.  Don’t get me wrong. Social media also has many positives with the ordinary person able to access information to an extent, unimaginable two decades ago and connecting people over continents.

But we need to be guardians at the gateway of our soul just as much as we need to be watchful of what our leader are doing to our world. We are living in an interesting and dangerous time.

“Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.

http://www.reinogevers.space

Start your day by adding turmeric to your meals – one of the best ways to boost your immune system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emotions running wild?

A common thread in the teachings of the great sages is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behavior as a means of avoiding pain and suffering.  It is one of the easiest and hardest things to do. In the age of social-media and political demagogues “the right to vent” has become the norm.

A single uncontrolled outburst of anger so often ruin a long-term relationship, destroy a team or scuttle a business deal.

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Photo by Pham Khoai on Pexels.com

Toxic emotions are poison. They weaken our immune system and can spoil our day as soon as we get up and open a social media account. We are being manipulated 24-7 with emotions that have a detrimental long-term effect on our mental health.

Negative emotions get attention and attention generate “likes” and advertising revenue. It is human nature to focus more on the negative than the positive. Why do otherwise so many people follow the herd in the next shit-storm?

How you start your day will determine your day. It is important to immunize yourself against negativity. Anchor yourself with a positive meditation, visualization, or exercise routine before you do anything else. Negative thoughts and emotions have the habit of drawing more negativity into your life. It is therefore crucial that you exercise emotional shifting that will center you into positive mindset whenever you are confronted with something that disturbs or angers you.

Practicing “emotional shifting” can immediately pull you out of the maelstrom of negativity.  You will become a negative person if you occupy yourself with negative thoughts and you will bring positive things into your life, if you focus your mind on the good and nice things in life. It’s that simple.

Here are some typical emotional shifters that can change your mindset from the negative to the positive in an instant:

  • Take a step back and count your breath – inhaling and exhaling
  • Focus your mind on that beautiful beach you remember from your last vacation or other special moments. Freeze those moments in your mind and recall them when you need them.
  • Laughing is probably the best antidote to negativity.
  • If its been a bad day, try walking it off with a brisk walk in the park, training your mind to focus on that special bird song or the scent of a herb along the path. Open your senses to the natural healing effects of nature.

There are many more emotional shifters you can use, anything basically that will make you feel that life is good and good things are flowing your way.

In my book “Walking on Edge: A Pilgrimage to Santiago” the main character Jake is tutored by fellow pilgrim Chuck on how to start the day in such a way that the daily hike becomes so much easier. You can read the sample chapter here.

Centering comes through regular daily practice of meditation, even if its for only a few minutes a day – and the best time to do it is in the morning.

Reino Gevers – Mentor and Author – Your Health Matters

 “Walking on Edge – A Pilgrimage to Santiago” available both in Kindle and paperback.

http://www.reinogevers.com

Start your day by adding turmeric to your meals – one of the best ways to boost your immune system.

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