Tag Archives: mental health

Finding truth and beauty within

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

– John Keats –

In his mysterious poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn” the 19th-century poet John Keats reflects on the contradiction between mortality and eternity, equating truth with beauty, portraying how the external perception of beauty is closely linked to the beauty within.

How we perceive our external world is shaped by momentary feelings and thoughts. It is a difficult endeavor for the modern mind suffering from information overload.

The mind is pulled from one distraction to the next. And, if your attention is focused on a grievance or hurt going back weeks, months or years, you will not appreciate the beauty around you. You will miss the way markers sent by the universe and lose your way.

Empty yourself of everything

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tze one said: “The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness,” meaning we have to empty our mind of everything and become still. If we are preoccupied with thoughts of the past or the future we miss out on the present moment of real human experience. Thoughts of the past are colored by imagination and have only partial relevance to truth.

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According to Lao Tze we cannot force the boat to go upstream. Everything happens in its own time and place. We cannot control external events or a calamities, but we can control how we respond to them. His teaching emphasized “effortless action” and the acceptance of the “wu wei” which ultimately seeks harmony.

Living according to the Dao means living without attachment. Life itself is the objective and the motivation. Behind a seemingly chaotic exterior lies a natural order of things. Nature has its seasons and cycles. We need to accept the impermanence of all things. There is always change, growth, death, and rebirth.

But as we are all imperfect beings on a path of learning, keeping the mind still can be a lofty undertaking. Toxic emotions such as anger are easily triggered by anything from a news broadcast of an event thousands of kilometers away or finding yourself having to wait in line at a supermarket.

Alignment through stillness

When we are aligned we get into touch with ourselves and our feelings. The first step is acceptance of the momentary feeling be it sadness, anger or anxiousness. The next step is replacing that thought or feeling with a positive experience or an expression of gratitude.

One of the simplest methods of alignment is the act of mindful breathing and mindful deep walking. Inhale to the count of four and exhale to the count of five. Inhale and on exhaling hum one of the most powerful mantras: “Om Mani Padme Hung”. When you practice such meditation methods regularly you will gradually sense a greater calmness and alignment of body and mind.

More than ever during these times we need to practice self-care and self-love. By becoming aware of the divine spark within we become aware of the beauty that is embedded within all things such as in the vibrant images that the poet John Keats saw in the simple contemplation of an ancient Greek urn. It is what inspired the great Dutch painters in the contemplation of everyday objects that led to the creation of some of the world’s greatest works of art.

By learning to BE in the present we learn to simply see things as they are without attaching to them comparisons with the past and giving them a definitive label.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Breathing into health and wellbeing

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Groundbreaking research is revealing that a simple thing like how you breathe can be hugely transformational. Healthy breathing techniques embedded in ancient religious practice improves body posture, sleep, general wellbeing and spiritual growth.

In our stressed out modern lives we as a species have lost the ability to breathe as nature has designed. When the body is flooded with stress hormones we tend to breathe in fast short bursts from the upper throat and chest area with grave consequences for our immune system, mental and cardiological health.

Our ancestors knew better

Western medicine for a long time believed that the nose was more or less an ancillary organ and that it was no problem just breathing through the mouth. But the latest research is revealing that our ancestors had more expansive sinus cavities and larger mouths, creating wider airways for breathing. This is not only related to the better diet where people were forced to chew their food more than the processed food eaten by most people today but by breathing primarily through the nose.

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Scientists, studying the shapes of jaws and mouth cavities from skulls several hundred thousands years old were surprised by the quality of the teeth and jawbones meaning that our ancestors probably never suffered from chronic respiratory problems, sleep apnea, snoring, sinusitis, or allergies so common today.

Rituals performed by ancient peoples and the old religions have always understood the power of breathing and that certain breathing techniques are essential in experiential spirituality and elevation of consciousness.

The power of prayer

Researchers at the University of Pavia in Italy measured blood flow, heart rate and nervous system feedback of dozens of people reciting the popular Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum and the Latin version of the Catholic Ave Maria prayer. The breathing pattern changed instantly with blood flow to the brain increasing with functions of the heart circulation and nervous system reaching peak efficiency. Both prayer and mantra caused striking, powerful, and synchronous increases in existing cardiovascular rhythms when recited six times a minute.

Breathing through the nose

Inhaling and exhaling naturally through the nose is what you should be doing. As you inhale the nose warms and moisturizes the air. Your nose releases nitric oxide which widens the blood vessels allowing for better transportation of oxygen to vital organs. Your breathing will be deeper and slower increasing the volume of your lungs and diaphragm.

Conscious and focused deep breathing through the nose can instantly bring you from a state of high tension into a relaxed state of mind.

  • Sit upright holding one hand on your lower belly and the other in the heart area.
  • At the count of one inhale and exhale through your nose.
  • Continue until the count of twelve then switch your hands
  • Continue until the count of 24
  • Close by placing both your hands on your belly

You can learn more such breathing techniques in my online video course on mindful breathing exercises.

Low impact body exercises such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong and deep walking in nature will do wonders in reducing stress hormones in the body. When you focus on nasal breathing your body posture will also improve naturally. Especially when walking the key is finding a natural rhythm where you go into synchronicity with your body movement and with your surroundings as you breathe through the nose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When things fall apart

During the past week I received reels of video footage from friends and family in South Africa revealing horrifying images of carnage and destruction. Thousands of looters were burning and destroying shopping malls and vital infra-structure with a government obviously too weak or incompetent to restore order.

It appeared as if all social order was collapsing. But amid all the chaos were signs of hope. Communities of all races got together to defend their homes and properties, gathering together for prayer, giving each other hope and volunteering to clean up in the aftermath.

Works by the Majorcan artist Joan Bennassar

South Africa is in many respects a microcosm of global problems highlighting race and gender issues, cultural diversity, and the huge disparity been rich and poor. The economic fallout from the pandemic has entrenched deeply underlying social and political frictions.

Inflection points bring out the best and the worst in humanity

Sharp inflection points, challenges and conflicts inevitably bring out the best and the worst in humanity. During my years as a reporter in South Africa I witnessed clergymen selflessly serving the poor and downtrodden in the poorest township slums. The country has brought forth leaders, poets, authors, musicians, sports and film stars admired all over the world. But some of its people were also responsible for terrible human rights violations and could be described as “the very personification of evil.”

Sometimes such contrasts can be found in individual persons. In the final years of apartheid Adriaan Vlok was the minister of police. He was the man responsible for bombing the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches and trying to assassinate its secretary general. He later publicly apologized for his actions, washed the feet of his former enemies and later ran a child feeding charity funding it mostly with his own pension.

Major paradigm shifts are underway

At the start of the 21st century we are seeing major social, political and economic paradigm shifts. Human knowledge and change has increased exponentially compared to previous generations. The American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that whenever a technology approaches a barrier, a new technology is invented crossing that barrier. He predicts that such evolutionary shifts will continue to become increasingly common, leading to profound technological change and rupturing old orders.

Digital technology is at the forefront of a doubling of human knowledge every 13 months. Just to put this into perspective: In the year 1900 it took about a century and by 1945 it had been reduced to every 25 years. This “Knowledge Doubling Curve” was first created by Buckminster Fuller in 1982. 

Cultural leaps are not integrated mentally and psychologically

Such “cultural leaps” pushed by technological advances create enormous opportunity for the educated, computer-savvy middle classes with access to high-speed Internet. But we are left with less time to cope and integrate such changes mentally and psychologically. More knowledge does not mean more wisdom. A growing number of people respond to the massive cultural and economic changes by walling themselves off in radical political and religious “tribal bubbles.”

The large pool of people employed in manual jobs are no longer needed in an increasingly automated economy. Whether we are looking at the unemployed in the former industrial cities of the United States, the coal-mining areas of northern England, or the “yellow vest” citizens in low-paying jobs in France the picture is very similar. There is a growing populace feeling left out, having nothing to lose and who are open to the rhetoric of the professional deceivers and demagogues.

Those tech concerns who have reaped the most benefit from the digital revolution will have to learn to share their wealth by at least paying taxes in proportion to their earnings. This revenue can be used to invest in improved education, infra-structure, health and upliftment of poor communities.

The law of yin and yang

When things fall apart during times of crisis it is a wake-up call. It is not a time to blame so-called “instigators” but to look at the bigger picture. We need to ask questions and seek answers as to why there are so many very disgruntled, angry and unhappy people around us.

In the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang an illness always manifests itself when there is an imbalance between the polar laws of life. An imbalance causes first disharmony, then conflict and ultimately leads to destruction. When the scales tip into one or the other extreme we get to a tipping point.

Nature inevitably tries to restore the balance so that all within the system can survive – in the case of the human body, the different organs interrelating and working in harmony with each other to maintain physical health.

Humanity is currently not only battling a deadly virus but also having to deal with huge environmental, economic and social challenges. I would like to believe that humanity is edging ever closer to breaking through that barrier toward a new horizon of elevated consciousness and opportunity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The “boiling frog” syndrome

A well-known fable tells us that if a frog is put into boiling water it will immediately jump out. But if the water is only gradually heated the frog will not perceive the danger and be boiled to death. The story is a warning of how a creeping normality of crisis situations delude us into a feeling of false complacency. We fail to act until it is too late.

Our daily habits, thoughts, beliefs and actions play a major part in determining our future. The compound effect of bad or good habits over a period of years and even decades are hugely underestimated.

The compound effect of good and bad habits

Eating for lunch a burger with French fries and a soda drink will affect your body but not harm you in a big way if you eat healthy foods most of the time and you metabolize sugars and carbohydrates with plenty of exercise. But eating mainly processed foods over years and decades will have a devastating impact on your mental and physical health in the long term.

In the same way if your self-talk is mainly negative about yourself or if you incessantly blame others for everything that is going wrong in your life you will most probably be a grumpy, unhappy and miserable person during old age looking back on a life not lived and opportunities missed.

How often have you been buying things you don’t really need because you said: “Its only a few pennies.” But added up over years and decades you could have put aside a small fortune in savings.

Complacency is our biggest enemy

Social and political developments in the recent past should be shaking us out of our sense of complacency and nonchalance. It appears that the general social consensus on values and norms that has prevailed for most of the past decades is seriously being eroded. An independent press, non-partisan judiciary and democratic voting procedures are seriously under threat in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Turkey and first and foremost in the United States. If the United States is no longer the world’s best example of a working democracy authoritarian rule as we see it today in China and Russia will entrench itself in many countries.

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Like a physical body gradually weakening from the effects of bad nutrition, you don’t perceive the spiral downward immediately. In my home country South Africa the seeds of maladministration and corruption were sown with the election of a populist demagogue Jacob Zuma as president in May 2009. For a while things, like the national airline, appeared on the surface to still be functioning perfectly. But after nine years the rot was there for everyone to see. Most parastatal institutions are bankrupted, leaving numerous towns and cities in dire lack of basic services such as electricity and water supply. It will most likely take generations to get South Africa back on its feet economically.

We tend to forget that political parties, governments and institutions have been created by bodies of individuals. They are a reflection of who we are. When a social pendulum of change swings into a new direction it is at first always led by a minority that eventually become the majority view.

A crisis is a way marker

Crisis situations, whether on a personal or collective level, always tell us that the status quo is no longer workable and that things need to change. The art is to perceive the small, telling signs that something is moving into the wrong direction and to adapt accordingly. It is the frog sensing when the water temperature is rising to a dangerous temperature and when it’s time to get out.

This is why some companies thrive by adapting to changing market conditions while others procrastinate. It is why some species adapt and others become extinct. Some marriage relationships adapt to changing needs and circumstances while others end in divorce. It is why the enlightened leader picks himself up during a crisis, using it as a tool of change in valuable lessons learned while the other stays in the shadow of self-pity and recrimination.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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A tribute to Father’s Day

My father died last year only three months prior to his 90th birthday. His last years in a retirement village in South Africa were spent in quiet solitude reading and reminiscing on the lessons of a long life lived.

Especially during my teenager years we had a difficult relationship. I perceived him as weak with our mother making all the decisions pertaining to important family and other matters. It was embarrassing when he would at times interrupt a conversation with a completely unrelated topic.

I could not understand why he was the complete opposite to his five opiniated and charismatic younger brothers who each in their way had been very successful. They ran profitable businesses, and farms and the youngest was the headmaster of a school.

The veil of silence

It seemed as if my father lived a life separate from the world around him behind a thick veil of silence. Unsurprisingly my two brothers and myself tried numerous methods, especially provocation to break through that veil. In his frustration he would try to discipline us by referring to the all powerful family figurehead. “What do you think grandfather would say?” That worked. We did not want to get in grandpa’s bad books.

We spent most  of our school vacations and weekends on the grandparents farm. Some of those happiest of childhood memories were the swims in the crystal clear waters of the Pongola river in rural South Africa, milking cows by hand, listening to the stories of the Zulus around a fireplace  and riding through the African veld on horseback.

A family secret revealed

Only much later in life my uncle and godfather, his life slowly ebbing away from cancer, took me aside with the words: “I think you need to know a few things about your father to understand why he is the way he is.”

The family secret was finally revealed. I was a toddler when my father had, what they called at the time “a nervous breakdown.” My father had been unable to fulfill grandfather’s high expectations. I can only imagine what the next weeks in a mental institution must have been like. Treatment of mental illness with controversial electroshock or electroconvulsive therapy was common in the early 1960s. From what my uncle confided to me that day a once proud, handsome man was reduced to a shadow of his former self. At that time the therapy was only known to me from the movie “One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jack Nicholson.

My parents at their engagement in 1956

It took years of family constellation work for me to only begin to understand the deeper underlying structure of the “absent father syndrome”.  My great grandfather died when my grandfather could barely walk. Lacking a real father role model he projected many of his own insecurities onto my father, confusing  authority  with authoritarian control.

Absent father syndrome

Families in countries devastated from the effects of the terrible 20th century wars were affected for generations by the “absent father syndrome”. Those fathers who survived the war seldom if ever spoke about their trauma, leaving sons and daughters grappling with traumatized men unable to fully engage as fathers and role models. Mothers more often than not were overburdened with the task of emotionally handling the affairs of the family while the father was reduced to the role of the “breadwinner”.

Many a single mother knows all about absent fathers unable or unwilling to fully participate because of the chronic lack of role models. There is an African saying that it “takes a village to raise a child”.  Mothers, aunts, grandmothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers and godfathers were all part of elaborate initiation rituals during the important stages of life.

It is impossible to return to that world where village life remained largely intact, and few villagers left their familiar surroundings but the importance of ritual and the definitive roles of the father and the mother in these rituals appears to be a key factor in determining a child’s mental and physical health.

Reframing the father figure

Especially during the difficult phase of puberty where the child is grappling in finding its own identity separate from that of the parent. Society needs to reframe the role of the father and father’s need to explore role models beyond the dysfunctional family unit. Expression of vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength, and creates real space for intimate relationship. Humility is a powerful antidote to a false image of pride.

Jesus is quoted as saying in John 14:10: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”

The power within is that which opens the way to a new beginning from the path of pain. It is that innate feeling of trust that all has meaning and purpose in the greater cycle of things.

The twilight years

Today I can look at pride at what my father accomplished. He remained a humble man with  a stoic steadfastness during several family tragedies, earning quiet respect  from several people who had ridiculed and looked down on him in younger years.

During our last conversations he was simply grateful for the grace of a long life lived. I would not have been what I am today without him. Despite his reservations he allowed his sons to make their own choices and to live lives on their own terms free of judgment and parental control.  I will forever be grateful for that.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Humility and the lessons of adversity

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”

Saint Augustine

Humility seems to have lost the battle against pride. Our world of social media has provided the perfect stage for narcissism and self-aggrandizement with the world of illusion taking precedence over what is real and a fake.

On one of my Camino walks in northwestern Spain I met a pilgrim who told me: “If you don’t walk the Path with humility it will force you into humility.”

Walking the Camino is in so many ways walking through life. Every day the path has new lessons to learn where the pilgrim is confronted with new and old emotional demons.

The last section before reaching a destination is sometimes the most difficult. You are relieved that you have reached the top of a mountain and then you find that you still have another even bigger mountain to climb.

It is why so many people who started walking the Camino as hikers ended their journey as pilgrims, learning on the Path that when going slow and finding that inner rhythm, external personality merges with the internal needs of the soul.

An emotional and physical breakdown leads to the breakthrough

When we are confronted with adversity and almost insurmountable challenges, the path of life forces us from pride into humility. The wounded soul is cracked open for the light to shine into that inner truth.

Sometimes you have to shut a door and walk away from everything in order to rediscover who you really are. You are forced into falling forward and opening a new door.

David Bowie once said that “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”

The elderly person surrenders to the cycle of life, the inevitability of death. There is nothing more to prove. There is a quiet solitude and acceptance. It is the same when an identity built on the weak foundations of personality breaks apart after a financial disaster, the loss of a job or a divorce.

Transformation begins where the world of certainty crumbles

There is a deep human need to be seen, to be heard and to have certainty. But when the world of certainty crumbles truth is revealed. This is the opportunity for real transformation and recognition of soul.

Pride and narcissism is about self-interest while humility is focused on being of service. If people are in search of their calling and having difficulty in finding an answer the clue is always in finding that niche where individual talent finds expression in the act of service for the bigger whole. You will have surrendered to that bigger plan that the universe has in store for you.

What is humility and what is pride?

Humble people are unafraid of expressing their vulnerability, and pain, and to seek help. They are listeners rather than talkers. They accept the transitions of life and are willing to learn from them while the narcissist in his pride is always right and is immersed in the illusion that the world is owing to him. He will always blame other people for his failures and take accolades for accomplishments that were none of his doing. Too many of such people find themselves in leadership positions causing much pain and suffering to all those around and ultimately to themselves.

Humility and adversity teach us that we always have another mountain to climb during life’s up-and-down cycles. Climbing those mountains make us more resilient. As long as we are alive we are never done as human beings. It is during those moments when we think that we are done that life inevitably throws another lesson at our feet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Have you found your calling?

Are you having difficulty in finding your life calling? Well, you are not alone with many people stressing out on finding that one silver arrow pointing to meaning and purpose in life.

As a young person you are in a very different place than later in life. But you are confronted with the major decision on whether to take out a massive student loan to train for a particular career path. Finally you follow through with the predominant view of family and peer groups.

During midlife you find yourself in a very unhappy place, realizing that all those years you had placed the ladder against the wrong wall.

Photo by Xin on Unsplash

Are you flying or scratching with the chickens?

Friends and family are sometimes the worst people to ask when it comes to pursuing your dreams and passions. The reason is that they don’t want a member of the tribe to change so much that they leave and seek a new tribe that is a better fit for new ideas, philosophies and visions.

Instead of learning to fly and soar with the eagles you remain on the ground scratching with the chickens, living out a life of quiet misery. All the time there is that inner voice calling on you to plant that seed destined to make you grow into who you are really meant to be.

It is sometimes necessary to leave a relationship that has long outlived its purpose, an unfulfilling but well paid job or even the country you are living in when it comes to living your destiny. Our biggest fear is often the fear that the future might turn out worse than the current situation, so you settle for the status quo because you feel safe in your “comfort zone.”

Life is not a trajectory of predictability

The journey of life seldom takes you on a trajectory of predictability. The ship you are sailing on sometimes has to change course because a hurricane is coming your way. Political systems, institutions, economic sectors and careers are undergoing huge changes.

A choice might be the right decision now in learning certain skills, mindsets and networking you with a particular circle of people. Other times you are getting huge shout outs from the universe in the form of constant obstacles that are telling you to move on and try something different.

Every choice you make whether it is to fall in love with a certain partner, to choose certain friends, a career or the suburb or country you live in is based on your state of consciousness at the time. There is therefore no need to be too hard on yourself or put yourself under pressure.

A calling can change many times during a lifetime

A calling can change many times over during a lifetime. What you are doing now may only set the stage in preparing and giving you the skillset for the next chapter in your life. You need only to take a step back to have a conversation with your 16-year-old self in realizing how much life has sculptured you into who you are today.

It is the trauma from a pain, the effort in finding the answer to an underlying question, a time-out during an illness, an unexpected event that pulls the rug from underneath your feet that catapults you into a new chapter and a new beginning.

But it need not be that way either. Sometimes one event, one chapter just leads into another like a wave washing to the shore. In a 1903 letter to his protégé, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rilke pointedly reminds us that what has broken, destroyed or ripped us apart emotionally are the building blocks of what elevates us to a new level of consciousness and spiritual growth. When all is in flow, the moment arrives when you hear with clarity that inner song, that tune that merges personality with soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Unbecoming who you think you are

We all need a purpose closely aligned with our personal philosophy and value system but can easily lose track of that purpose if we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges and go into automatic mode.

When we let powerful emotions such as anxiety and fear take over we tend to seek gratification in external gods that keep us feeling empty and small. We seek set patterns of predictability, giving us the illusion of security. We function within a framework of the same road to work, the same friends and colleagues, and the same pattern of thought and thinking.

When the comfort zone of familiarity crumbles

It is when we are jolted out of this comfort zone by a crisis, when things go horribly wrong, and when the map of familiarity crumbles that we are freed from robotic habits, and seek new purpose and meaning. We need to unbecome who we think we are.

Every now and then it is necessary to seek out those quiet spaces in meditation, walks in nature, and alone time to recalibrate on whether the road I’m travelling on is in alignment with my personal value system and philosophy.

Our predominant thoughts and emotions determine the outcome of all our actions. If you believe that every person out there is an unfriendly cheat you will inevitably run into just these persons. If you on the other hand question your labelling of people every time and fundamentally believe in the goodness and kindness of human beings you will be mainly surrounded by such people because you emanate what you think and feel to your surroundings.

Taking time out to realign in nature

Mindsetting into a positive framework of opportunity

If you program yourself with a mindset of scarcity and that money is the root of all evil, you will never have enough. If you turn this thinking into an abundance mindset and really believe that the universe always provides at the right time, things will turn out this way.

Walking in new surroundings and going into uncharted territory is a huge challenge for humanity at this moment in time but also a huge opportunity.

Institutions including the big corporations, government, politics, religion and mass media have become dysfunctional. A crisis such as the pandemic has only brought to the open what has been simmering under the surface for some time. These institutions are made up of individuals often in automatic mode in their boxes, losing sight of the bigger picture because these jobs provide ever less opportunity for individual creativity.

Our mind becomes less anxious if we let go of the attachment to things we believe to be set in stone. Life is unpredictable and always in a cycle of change. One door closes and another opens. Those “flat-on-the-ground” moments are an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past, and to rediscover soul purpose and meaning.

Stepping out of the treadmill

It is vital to step out of the treadmill of routine, predictability and habit every once in a while. If you are marking the calendar and counting the months and years to retirement, or to the next vacation, you need to realign and restore meaning.

We have to sometimes carry out unpleasant tasks but the more we go into resistance when we carry out these tasks the more energy-depleting they will be. We can compensate such routines with fun activity that renew and refresh. It is when we do not count the minutes, when we lose the sense of time in tasks of creative imagination and aligned with our own values and soul purpose that we are in flow with the rhythm of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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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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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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Filed under mental health, mental-health