Mental health and the food you eat

“You are what you eat” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Our distant ancestors once roamed the plains of Africa spending most of their days looking for food in hunting antelope or scouring the earth for berries, roots and leaves. Food rich in nutrients helped develop our brains to become very innovative so that we could migrate and survive in the harshest of conditions.

The problem really began when we started settling in villages and towns with the need to feed ever more mouths. Metaphorically speaking food is literally falling into our mouths from the supermarket shelves. Choosing food that is keeping us both physically and mentally healthy is becoming increasingly difficult.

The way food is produced today is not only destroying the planet’s ecosystems but has a major impact on how you feel and how long you will live. Our ancestors knew very well from past experience which poisonous plants they needed to avoid and which roots or leaves were good to cure an illness. Over the centuries our lifespan has steadily increased but longevity does not equal quality of life. By mid‐century, the number of Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to 13.8 million. 

Toxic foods are being sold as healthy foods

It has become almost a science to unravel the true meaning of the ingredients listed on a package, many of which are not only harmful to your body but have a major impact on your mental health. The food production industry has become so powerful that what is marketed as “healthy” is in reality ruining your health.

So-called “energy drinks” are sold as boosting your energy and vitality. Their high sugar and caffeine content however can seriously affect cognitive function, especially in combination with alcohol. Some countries have even banned them after studies on rats revealed bizarre behavior, including anxiety and self-mutilation.

Many cereals and packaged foods are laced with countless hidden sugars called fructose, sucrose, dextrose all of which are major contributors to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart circulatory problems and cancer.

Foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving. These trans fats are being increasingly linked to mental illnesses such as depression. Consumption of these trans-fats found in most processed foods also affect cognitive and memory functions and harm the central nervous system.

So what should I eat?

Countless books and diet experts will tell you what to eat. Some people will religiously lecture you to adhere to a vegan, vegetarian, Atkins, Keto or other diet. A good guideline is to avoid processed foods and soda drinks. If you eat mostly what is locally grown and raised without pesticides you are doing pretty well.

Scientists, who have studied communities in the world’s five “blue zones” who are happiest and live the longest, however point out that a combination of exercise, good food and solid community bonding help us live healthy and long lives.

A typical Mediterranean “blue zone” diet emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products.

Food grown from organic farming is infinitely healthier than food grown from fertilized monocultures. Animals raised in industrial factory farms where they are kept in restrictive spaces and cages are often given antibiotics to make them grow faster. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria then threatens human health. The foods needed to feed such livestock is destroying natural ecosystems in many parts of the world and is the largest contributor to the warming of the earth’s climate.

By eating the right foods you will have a high probability of living a longer, happier, and healthier life. At the same time what you buy in the supermarket and put on your plate is directly affecting the health of our planet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Facing your biggest fear

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

In our age of information overload a subtle message has been crafted that we are immortal beings. At the root of most fear is the fear of death. We are awakened to this truth when a loved one dies or when confronted with a terminal illness.

There is a lovely story from Indian folklore about a mouse constantly in fear that a cat would catch and kill her. The mouse was so fearful that it seldom left its burrow.

“How I wish I were a cat. I would then have nothing to fear,” the mouse thought.

A genie nearby took pity on the mouse. In an instant the mouse was turned into a cat. But then as a cat, she saw a dog and became afraid again, wishing she were a dog. The genie heard her again and her wish was granted. She turned into a dog.

Then she saw a lion and she was terrified by his power and strength and wished she could become a lion so that she would not have to be terrified ever again. Her wish was again granted and she became lion. At this stage, she saw a man who was about to shoot her with a gun. Naturally, she wished she could become a human and she did. But then, when she was sitting in her house, she saw a mouse. She started shouting for she was scared of the mouse!

Fear is an illusion

Most fear is an illusion of the mind. It distorts, perverts and falsifies the reality of the moment. Fear often breeds anger and anger turns to hate. It is the fuel of the professional deceivers whose messaging is amplified to millions on social media. We fall prey to our deepest fears if we don’t recognize and confront them.

A typical reaction to fear is distraction and addiction. It could be anything from substance abuse to digital entertainment. The distraction is only momentary and will not remove the underlying fears that grow ever bigger as we lose control of our thoughts.

Looking fear into the eye

The first step in transmuting fear is acceptance. “Yes, I am afraid that I won’t have enough money to pay the rent. Yes, I’m afraid of losing my job. I’m afraid of falling ill…” In imagining the worst-case scenario you will soon realize that your fears are only thoughts. Replace those fears with what would be the opposite of fear such as courage and self-confidence. Some personal mantras could be the following:

  • I have full trust in the creative power of the universe to provide an answer.
  • A am a magnet of health, prosperity and abundance.
  • I have faith and trust.
  • I love and accept myself the way I am

Structure and planning

Winston Churchill once said that plans are of little importance but planning is essential. We like to structure and control our lives. But life is never like that. Unexpected external circumstances like a global pandemic are especially challenging for people who like to be in control of things. At times we simply have to accept things as they are and let go. The falsity of things to which we become too attached are revealed during times of crisis.

Recognizing fear

Typical physical reaction to fear is a shortness of breath, an increased heartbeat, sweating, or chest pain. You might wake up at night having bad dreams or finding yourself in the rollercoaster of a thousand different thoughts and scenarios. There are numerous methods of practicing mindfulness and meditation. One of the most effective ways of practicing alignment and thought discipline is the way you breathe. You might want to check out my downloadable online course here.

Time for introspection

Especially during times of crisis it is crucial to take a time out for introspection and reflection. Toxic emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, chronic negativity and hate will turn you into a stranger to your true self. Below the surface of the darkness lie hidden the seeds for renewal and change. Accepting and loving the self with all the shadow and the light is finding the inner truth and the path to soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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God, nature and the Duke

Ritual and ceremony like the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh strikes a particular chord with millions of people but there is much more to why we are so obsessed with royalty in a modern era where institutions are in crisis and there is a general loss of purpose and meaning.

There is a particularly heartfelt scene in the new movie “Victoria & Abdul” where Queen Victoria laments the death of loved ones and the point of it all. Abdul replies: “Service. We are not here to worry about ourselves. We are here for a greater purpose.”

The power of service

Service has a different meaning if it is by personal choice compared to an inherited obligation from birth as with a monarchy. Born into an age of patriarchy, it must have been a difficult decision at times for the Duke to stand back and walk two steps behind the Queen.

With the subtle choice of the hymns and psalms for his own funeral, the Duke sent a powerful message to the global audience.

One of the most poignant moments of the funeral ceremony was the rendition of Psalm 104 set to music by William Lovelady and first performed at a special celebration to mark the Duke’s 75th birthday. The psalm is a celebration of God’s creation and the power of nature.

The song praises the splendor of the heavens, the light of the sun, the expanse of sky reaching down to meet the earth, the movement of clouds blown by the wind, and the flashes of lightning – all an illustration speak of the magnificence of the Creator dwelling in and ruling the universe.

If we want to understand God we must study nature

The deeper message is that if we want to understand the concept of God, we need to study the fundamental principles of nature. In contrast to ancient man, the industrial man sees nature as an object to be conquered, extracted, exploited and utilized. It is part of the illness of modern-day blind narcissism.

The disconnect from the spiritual self, the loss of meaning and purpose is responsible for much of our mental health crisis. Healing our planet starts with healing the self. The deeper we immerse ourselves in nature the stronger the growth of connection, belonging and purpose.

At a point where all the senses are opened to the universe, there comes connection with the frequency that vibrates within all that is living.

One and the One within diversity

“All creatures seek One, even the lowest creatures seek the One, and the One is perceived by the highest,” according to the 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckart.

A principle of nature is the diversity within the “Oneness”. Meister Eckart explains that it is impossible for the whole of nature to break or spoil, or even touch anything in which she does not aim at a higher good for the thing which she touches.

The song of Psalm 104 is an “outpouring” of life itself. Each part is interpenetrating the other. To the question of who or what is God, Eckart replies: “God is.” The act of being is the same as being in all things.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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The broken modern workplace

The more a job inherently resembles a game – with variety, appropriate and flexible challenges, clear goals, and immediate feedback – the more enjoyable it will be regardless of the worker’s level of development.

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi –

Roughly two-thirds of employees hate their jobs, according to a global Gallup poll conducted two years ago. Clinical burnout, depression and suicide are only some of the effects of the broken workplace. Many people simply find no meaning or purpose in what they are doing for most of their lives.

The modern workplace has not only alienated many people from their inner being and purpose but is having a huge toll on productivity and long-term prosperity. The complexity of the individual becomes reduced to a role within an institution which is seldom congruent with core values and soul elevation.

People want to be seen and to be validated

Basic human emotional needs are to be seen, to be heard and to be validated. If these needs are met from an early age the child will thrive, and feel protected by the parents leading by example.

Especially if there has been a pattern of emotional neglect in childhood with parents giving recognition and validation only with achievement, the “inner child” will desperately seek validation through career achievement. The tragedy is that many a modern workplace implies that the employee is a “family member” but ruthlessly discards that member when it no longer performs or when times get tough.

With the person’s identity becoming closely intertwined with the corporate identity there comes a disconnect to soul purpose, as individual talent and the need for elevation of consciousness find no room for growth and expression.

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

The modern workplace stifles creativity

Clockwork performance parameters, the rapidity and the bland similarity of job descriptions stifle imagination and creativity that is so much the food for the soul.

Over the past decade I have conducted countless workshops in the corporate environment on topics such as “stress resilience” burnout-prevention, reintegration of absentees after long-term illness and the creation of a healthy work environment.

My key take-aways are that much of the problem can be found in lack of leadership or failed leadership. Most companies still have a top-down approach to management. Supervisors and managers are often chosen on the basis of job performance skills rather than people skills. They are then not even trained in the basic skills of coaching, mentoring and guidance of people.

The other, not to be neglected aspect, is how we spend our leisure time. Over-consumption of negative mass media absorb a huge amount of psychic energy, leaving little time for inner reflection, recuperation and alignment.

The need for new leaders

The good news is that the pandemic is changing the way we work in more ways than we could ever have imagined. Working flexible hours mainly from home not only reduces the stress of commuting, and looking after family but is visibly illustrating that people work more effectively in their own time and space if they are not micro-managed in a big office.

While the baby-boomer generation looked at work primarily as “a job” with clear boundaries between work and life, the millennial generation places far more emphasis on a company culture of personal growth, and self-development. The new managers are mentors and coaches with a social skill set that takes cognizance of individual expression and visibility within the company matrix.

Are you selling your soul?

If you currently find yourself mired in a structure that is making you feel unhappy, unfulfilled and constantly fatigued and tired then hard questions need to be asked. You could well be in an environment or a company that has outlived its purpose for you. It is a tragedy to see people selling their soul. They wither away in a life of misery and ultimately fall seriously ill because they are deeply unhappy in the environment where they spend much of their most valuable productive years. The remaining energy is drawn primarily on focusing on the next vacation and counting the years to retirement in the illusion that life begins after a career is over.

On the long term you cannot suppress the presence and inner needs of the soul, crying out for imagination, creativity and growth. It is in those moments when we feel energized, empowered and in flow with our inner truth and our being that we are on the right track.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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From brokenness into transformation

“Resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.” Tim Keller

There have been times in my life where I have wrestled with the question why an all-powerful God and creator can allow evil, injustice and cruelty to prevail. How can a God of love and compassion want at the same time suffering?

Some beautiful Renaissance paintings depict Jesus bleeding and hanging from the cross with the Pharisees mocking him with the words: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matthew 27:42–43). They missed the point.

The key message of Easter

The key message of Easter is one of hope, rebirth and resurrection after experiencing brokenness, hurt and suffering.

After the resurrection Jesus asks the skeptical disciple Thomas to place his hands into the wounds of his hands and his side. Jesus carried his scars and wounds as the visible signs of having transmuted the pain and suffering.

The idea of God being both a God of Light and a God of darkness comes from a simplistic perception of a three dimensional reality. We have the external world of sensual and material gratification, the dimension of the soul having a human experience and the divine dimension that encompasses the other two. The Mystics compare the external world of distraction to the darkness of the night, the human experience to the morning of life itself in the striving toward the eternal of midday.

What is soul purpose?

Suffering, pain and the brokenness is that part of life that sculptures us into the human beings we are destined to become. The external world is in a constant cycle of change, impermanence and movement. Suffering comes essentially from a mindset of attachment to that which was and is no more. Soul purpose finds connection to that which is aligned to the universal truth.

We are imperfect beings and a “work in progress”. A particularly deceptive part of the “wellness and positive-thinking culture” indoctrinates us into thinking that there is something wrong with us if we have moments of melancholy sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

Suppressing negative feelings is not authentic and creates inner turmoil and stress. In extreme cases it might even lead to mental illness. The expectation of a narcissistic external world to function and perform in a certain way or to showcase “borrowed” material possessions is a major road block to elevation of consciousness.

The 13th-century Mystic Meister Eckart ruminates on the question on how God can “really destroy a man by himself?” He goes on to say that we should humble ourselves but because we are unable to do so sufficiently, God does it for us.

Elevation of consciousness

“The highest height of elevation lies in the deepest depth of humility. For the deeper and lower the ground, the higher and more immense the height and the exaltation. The deeper the well, the higher it is,” according to Eckart.

Goodness, light, compassion and love comes when the soul is closely joined to God. The greater and harder the struggle, “the greater and more praiseworthy the victory and the honor of vanquishing.”

Evil is defined commonly as the opposite of good. In the view of Mystics such as St. Augustine it is the complete absence and disconnect from inner purpose and God.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Is anger controlling you?

Fred was a successful professional sportsman in his younger days. His life began to fall apart some years ago with his anger tantrums leading to an acrimonious divorce and financial disaster. Later his children and remaining friends refused to deal with him any longer. He lives today in a shelter for the homeless in melancholy sadness over the life that was and is no more.

I could go on and on about stories of people whose lives have been torn apart by anger issues.

Negative emotions such as anger have become pervasive with a poll taken just prior to the recent American elections showing that nearly 80 percent of people felt particularly angry about the pandemic and the economic situation.

We are all susceptible to an occasional outburst of anger but when you or a family member fall into a temper tantrum over seemingly small matters by throwing things, and becoming physically abusive professional help should be sought for what is described as “intermittent explosive disorder. The root cause could be anything from a childhood trauma to substance abuse.

The more common anger is an undercurrent of irritability and negativity that will rapidly reduce your vibrational energy, and inevitably turn you into a person people don’t like to be around with. You will lose friends, relationships and risk your job and business ventures.

Negative and compassionate anger

The Dalai Lama points out the difference between uncontrolled and compassionate anger which he describes as anger that “helps us repel forces that are detrimental to our survival and well-being.”

“In some situations strong compassion may give rise to an equally strong sense of outrage—that is anger about an injustice.  Again, feeling angry can, in the short term, make our minds more focused and give us an extra burst of energy and determination.”

This is the “holy anger” that Jesus demonstrated in turning over the tables of the money-changers in the temple of Jerusalem with the words: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” It is not relevant whether the incident happened historically.

The message Jesus communicated was the importance of standing guard at the doorway to your soul. What books, newscasts and social media are you feeding your mind with? What associations are making you or have made you into the person you are?

Negative feelings only become destructive when the “intensity is disproportionate to the situation in which they arise.” according to the Dalai Lama.

Are you or your emotions in control?

The problem arises particularly when emotions such as anger start controlling your life. “No one intentionally creates problems, but we tend to be slaves to powerful emotions like anger, hatred and attachment that are based on misconceived projections about people and things,” the Dalai Lama teaches.

We probably have the least understanding of ourselves. When we have uncomfortable feelings and emotions we turn to blaming external circumstances and others. It is the reason why so many relationships go sour. If we expect a partner to fill an inner void, it will inevitably result in disappointment because no other person should be given the responsibility of “making us happy.” Likewise we should not have the expectation that politicians or other professional deceivers are responsible for our happiness.

Beyond the anger lies fear

You don’t have control over unexpected external events such as a pandemic but you can choose how you react. In going deeper into anger there are the emotions of fear and anxiety. When analyzing any situation there are always different perspectives. In the bigger picture all has meaning. If you are experiencing a difficult situation tell yourself: “This too shall pass.” Impermanence is a fact of life. Sometimes we just have to surrender to a given situation and ride out the storm.

Shifting into a positive mindset

If you are having feelings of fear and anxiety it helps to name those feelings. Be truthful to yourself. Write down the feelings in a journal. Before you can transmute the demons you have to name them. Replace the word “Fear” with the word “Trust”. Replace the word “Anger” with the word “Compassion”.

In studying yourself you will become more aware of typical emotional reactions that stand in your way. Anger directed at a stranger is often anger toward the self and the hurt inner child. Emotional shifting is a powerful tool in moving from a negative into a positive mindset. Be mindful and caring of your inner child that is in need of attention.

A negative mindset might be programed by over-consumption of negative news media. Flip the channel to a comedy or a funny video. For me one of the most powerful shifters is taking time out walking. Nature is one of the most powerful healers. When you open the senses to the sights, sounds and smells of nature, your body and mind will start relaxing and falling into alignment. A solution to your problem will come almost naturally as you open yourself to the whispers of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Light from a dark age

It was a “dark age” in the western Europe of the 13th century when pandemics, population decline and economic degradation prevailed. Most people had moved into villages and towns sharing crowded rooms with family members and livestock. With little or no sanitation or semblance of hygiene the stench would have been unbearable for sensitive modern noses.

The exodus from the countryside was exacerbated by repeated crop failures caused by the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanic eruptions and changes in Arctic ice cover. With temperatures dropping for centuries this meant that the winters were particularly long and harsh.

Periods of crisis and challenging external circumstances sometimes force humanity into introspection with the dark ages having brought forth some of the greatest Mystics at the forefront of an individual inward-looking spirituality. The popes and bishops were meanwhile offering little comfort to ordinary people, preoccupied with political power struggles and worldly pleasures.

Pilgrimage walks to Santiago de Compostela

During these times pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela became popular as an inner journey of penance, spiritual rebirth and renewal. The modern-day pilgrim on the Camino is in many respects no different. Spirituality as opposed to religious doctrine is by far the primary motivation, based on my own research and conversations with hundreds of pilgrims on my more than dozen walks on pilgrimage routes in northwestern Spain.

The wise teachings of the 13th-century Dominican monk Meister Eckart (1260-1328), Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) and Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) are timeless and more topical than ever during these pandemic times. They were the eco-warriors and holistic healers of their time, addressing issues of personal health, nutrition and the environment.

It took the disruption of a global pandemic to remind us that we can be exposed overnight to entirely new circumstances beyond our control. Life can be extremely fragile and uncertain. The mental health repercussions resulting from isolation and lockdowns are only gradually coming to the fore.

A formula for a life of bliss

The Mystics are clear on how to lead a life of bliss. Meister Eckart describes at least five stages of evolution in elevation of consciousness to the “new” man – the “birth of the son” or “birth of God” in the soul. The entire purpose of life he describes as the journey to self-realization and meaning:

  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Doing what is right and acting accordingly
  • Dedication and Love of God
  • Recognition and Differentiation
  • Alignment and surrender of ego

All these Mystics did not retreat to an isolated monastic lifestyle but were engaged in the world. Catherine of Genoa gave selfless service to the sick while at the same time serving as director and treasurer of a hospital. Hildegard of Bingen was engaged in many fields including religion, medicine, music and cosmology, At the same time she was a mentor for many famous personalities of her time.

The common thread is that we are one humanity and that a life of service and dedication for the betterment of all provides solace to inner turmoil during times of crisis.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Surrendering to the pain of the past

It is just part of the human condition that we  have about 70,000 thoughts a day with most of those thoughts revolving around cravings such as food or on the past or future.

The melancholy sadness over that which was and is no more holds many a mind captive. If you find that you are caught in such a downward spiral it might be useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What other avenues did the loss open up in my life?
  • What lesson did I learn from the mistake and how can I avoid making the same mistake again?
  • I blame nobody and take full responsibility

The addiction to please

Relationships between loved ones, family members, friendships and associations are often  the biggest challenge. The fear of being thrown out of the warm cave by our tribe is deeply embedded in our genes. We will therefore bend over backwards to be seen, to be heard and to be liked.

It is the reason why we stay in toxic relationships that have long outlived their purpose. It is why love for another person is often confused with self-love, especially when we expect another human being to compensate for an inner void.

The contract between souls

The ancient mystics believe that no relationship is coincidental. The intensity of a relationship is defined by the underlying current  that brought you together. The soul contract is to be teachers for each other so that we can grow in spiritual consciousness. And, sometimes the teaching can be to set a boundary by going  into isolation from a particular person, especially if this is a family member who  inhibits your growth or prevents you  from pursuing your  full potential.

What timeline in dealing with sorrow?

One of the biggest sins is not to live the life you were meant to live in terms of your individually mapped out destiny. The invisible wall is most often the difficulty in surrendering to the pain of the past. “You need to let it go,” is a saying that often comes from friends and family who mean good. But dealing with sorrow, grief and loss has its own timeline. It is not like just turning a switch and going into “happy mode”. It is not authentic and if your pain is not transmuted it will come back to haunt you later in life.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Remaining in faith and trust

The 13th century Mystic Meister Eckart has some wonderful words of comfort for those having difficulty in letting go of the pain of the past. “God is not a destroyer of anything good. He fulfills. God does not destroy but completes nature.” And in the same vein he recommends surrendering that pain to the “highest order and highest nurture.”

Staying in faith and trust is possibly one of the hardest trainings in patience but Meister Eckart also describes it as the highest schooling in spiritual training and elevation of consciousness.

Even the smallest of actions can be turned into spiritual training of “staying in the moment”, according to the Spanish Mystic Theresa of Avila (1515-1582). There is a story of how she once confronted a nun in her monastery complaining about having to do kitchen chores, telling her off with the words: “If you don’t see the dear God in the pan you don’t see him at all.”

It is in those “darkest night of the soul” moments where the chains of the ego are broken and space opens for change and a new beginning.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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From loneliness into solitude

We have all at some stage in our lives had to deal with loneliness or the feeling of being left alone. I’ve always had to deal with different facets of loneliness on my pilgrimage walks on the Camino. There is a subtle but important difference in feeling lonely and finding solitude.

Pablo Picasso once said that without solitude no great work of art is possible and the singer Naomi Judd describes solitude as “refreshment of the soul”. Transmuting loneliness into solitude is a deep dive into the true self.

But the feeling of an empty loneliness is pervasive in our modern society that then turns into an obsession with external and illusory gratification. This comes from the lack of solitude in a noisy world with the echo-chambers of the media world tugging at us. There is a constant drumbeat of how we are supposed to be living our lives.

Living a life of having or a life of Being?

Living a life of having instead of a life of Being is bound to disappoint. But the lie that life begins when we have that house, that car, that perfect spouse or that perfect job is robbing you of the preciousness of the present moment. Ask anyone having heard the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, or having suffered a great loss on how priorities can change overnight.

A disconnect from the spiritual lies at the core of loneliness. There is a deeper meaning to Jesus’ teaching: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Photo by resa cahya on Unsplash

Self-care and self-love as the path to bliss

It is a commandment to connect the heart to the soul – in essence to connect with God. But this is only possible if you love and respect yourself. If you don’t practice self-care and self-love, you will be constantly pulled out of alignment. What you are you will attract. If you are feeling angry, frustrated and judgmental, you will attract that energy. You will especially be blaming others for your feeling of unhappiness. Current politics is a reflection of society and its its underbelly of unconscious mind that seeks to blame, vilify, distract, distort and turn the lie into truth. Unhappy people have the tendency to pull other people into their unhappiness. It is the fuel of nationalism and xenophobia. Our time is incredibly vicious with its bombardment of noise and visual sensation.

Connecting to the heart, to the innermost being of soul, is only possible during solitude. The 13th century Mystic Meister Eckart describes the process as a “detachment” from the external world and to be empty. “The detached heart does not ask for anything at all, nor has it anything at all that it would like to be rid of. Therefore it is free from all prayer and its prayer is nothing else than to be uniform with God.” He describes what the masters of Zen Buddhism call the bliss in the space of emptyness.

Befriending inner solitude

While personality and ego is still focused on the validation from the external, the soul nature finds connection to the divine during solitude. The divine is felt in nature itself, in the vibration of deeply inspirational music or in the quiet contemplation of a work of art. There is no fear of death as this is merely a pathway to another dimension. We are eternal souls currently having a human experience.

As you start befriending your inner solitude, the contrast between the chatter of external thoughts and the authenticity of the deeper self become clearer. At times you need to withdraw from the world to get a clearer picture of who you really are and for what purpose you were born.

Making room for silence

Having conducted a multitude of workshops on stress resilience and preventive health during the past decade, I am convinced that our modern lives have become so noisy and cluttered with stressful thoughts that too little room is left for silence. It is almost as if we are running away from the blessings of the spiritual.

Fyodor Dostoevsky is quoted as saying:

“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And it all comes from lying – lying to others and to yourself.”

Recognizing the inner truth is the recognition that soul and purpose are closely intertwined. Growth of consciousness is an ongoing process of discovery, re-definition and reconfiguration. It is part of the wonder and mystery of life.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. I will also host from March 17th every week for eight weeks a live online event of practical Qi Gong exercises to boost flexibility and mindset.

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What comes after the pandemic?

There is a growing sense of optimism that by late summer we can start returning to normal lives when a large percentage of the populace in most countries has been immunized against Covid-19. Little attention is being given to a far deeper underlying problem.

Sometimes a major shock or jolt is needed to change perceptions. A major threat to public health such as a dangerous virus can bring the entire globally economy to a halt.

The people at risk

While not all patients who died from Covid-19 had underlying health conditions, the major number of people at risk were those older than 60 years or who have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lifestyle choices are key

Researchers are still puzzling why some people who contracted the virus had relatively mild symptoms while it was deadly for others. The bottom line is that governments and health institutions are not investing enough resources in preventive medicine. Individuals need to be educated that lifestyle choices made on a daily basis are major determinants of longevity, health and well-being.

WHO defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” But the feeling of well-being is subjective. Some people live in constant pain, are dependent on a host of medications and still describe themselves as healthy because they are still functioning in some way.

Longevity and quality of life

Prior to the pandemic the lifespan of most people in the industrialized countries had steadily increased over the years. But lifespan says little about the quality of life as we get older. When we reach the age of 60 the likelihood of requiring some form of care because of a disability rises significantly. Common diseases in our time such as diabetes II, obesity, heart-circulatory problems and some forms of depression are all in some way related to lifestyle choices.

Relatively little attention has been given to the fact that Covid-19 has been more deadly in patients with obesity. Even people merely overweight were found to be at higher risk, according to an article in Science Magazine.

What we eat, how we move our bodies and how we deal with mental stress are far greater health determinants than the genes we have inherited from our parents.  Scientists speculate that for the first seven or eight decades of a lifetime typical lifestyle choices such as healthy foods and physical activity enable these individuals to stay healthy into old age. Genetics only appears to play a larger role in the longevity scale from the age of 90.

Health perceptions need radical scrutiny

When a body is under stress because of high blood pressure, obesity or another illness a dangerous virus has easy play in breaking down the body’s natural defense systems. There is a general misconception that we can all return to normal lives once enough people have become immunized against the virus. The truth is that if we don’t change our perceptions of health in a radical way it is only a matter of time before the next, possibly even deadlier, virus hits us.

Only a century ago it was common for people in China to visit the local doctor regularly for acupuncture, herbal treatment and lifestyle guidance such as what Qi Gong exercises needed to be done to balance the flow of the body meridians . The doctor was paid when you were well. If you got ill you didn’t have to pay the doctor because it was believed that he hadn’t done his job properly.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is deeply rooted in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy. Man is seen as an integral part of nature and the cyclical laws of the seasons or Five Elements. The microcosm of a person’s health reflecting the macrocosm of nature and the universe.

Eat healthy and save the planet

What we eat not only determines our own health but that of our planet. Eating foods produced from large animal farms and monocultured agricultural methods is a far greater contributor to the climate crisis that our means of transportation. Mass agriculture and the production of animal feed is destroying a large part of our natural ecosystems, in turn increasing the danger of more virus mutations jumping from animals to humans. The climate impact of eating beef and dairy products dwarfs that of a mainly vegetarian diet. The conversion of land for beef production and animal feed is a leading cause of deforestation in many tropical regions.

Each individual has been born with a purpose and you can only live out your full potential if you are feeling vibrant, happy and healthy. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is quoted as saying. “The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. I will also host from March 10th every week for eight weeks a live online event of practical Qi Gong exercises to boost flexibility and mindset.

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