Tag Archives: spirituality

Have we lost the ability to communicate?

The current wave of protests against lockdown regulations is indicative of how deeply divided our societies have become. There is a dangerous groundswell of anger easily manipulated by professional deceivers and political demagogues.

Donna parla con lettere su sfondo biancoWith a presidential election coming up in the United States the dividing lines between Democrats and Republicans have never been bigger and more dangerous. If even the wearing of masks becomes a political issue there is a problem.  Be prepared for a very dirty election with global implications.

The trigger words that end “communication”

A normal conversation quickly gets out of hand when trigger words such as “vaccination”, “Trump”, “climate change”, “migrants”, or “Bill Gates” are thrown in. One of the side-effects of lockdown has been that millions of people have not only been locked in their homes but also in their belief systems in scouring the Internet to confirm existing beliefs.

Conventional religion and other institutions formed for a long time the cornerstones and value systems of societies. These have steadily lost influence in the competition for instant gratification. The hypocrisy of institutionalized religion has not helped either with millions of faithful turning either to fundamentalism or pseudo-religion.

Pseudo-beliefs filling the void of religion 

The search for meaning and soul purpose has never been greater. But as humanity moves to higher consciousness, the walk over the hot coals has also become very painful. We are at the crossroads with humankind either falling back into the spiral of fear-based radicalism or moving forward into a restorative, sustainable future where diversity is respected and tolerated.

We will have to learn to communicate again. Communication is not a one-way street of blasting a tweet, or an Instagram post.  Social media has become the rocket fuel of narcissism.  Somewhere along the process of transmission the concept of real  “sharing” of ideas, opinions, facts, and values has been left by the wayside.

We have become so obsessed with our ego-centered own opinion and “belief” that we have lost the ability to listen.  Narcissists are masters in denialism and creating their own truth. They will never admit to human fallibility.

But it is only through the admission of vulnerability and fallibility that we open the realm to listening, asking the who, what, where, when, and why? This is where we learn, adapt, revise, and grow as human beings.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Joseph and the power of forgiveness

Are you struggling to forgive yourself and others? The biblical story of Joseph is one of the most powerful teachings of how the ways of the universe or God can be very different from the plans we often make in life.

Joseph was slandered, beaten, and sold into slavery by his own brothers because of jealousy. Joseph could have easily succumbed to his fate but he never lost faith that everything in life had purpose and meaning.

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The trap of the blame game

Only from such a perspective could he forgive his brothers and move out of the trap of the blame game. He made the best out of his situation to such an extent that Potiphar, the man who bought him on the slave market in Egypt, soon promoted him to a higher position. Later he was put in charge of managing Potiphar’s huge estate.

Potiphar had taken a liking to Joseph and must have been impressed by his kindness, wisdom, and humility. For all intents and purposes, Joseph had made it. But Potiphar’s bored wife had taken just as much a liking to the handsome young Joseph. Realizing that he would betray his master who had done so much for him, Joseph avoided the advances of Potiphar’s wife who became so upset that she accused him of rape. Joseph was thrown into prison losing everything. He could again have succumbed to despondency.

But it so happens that he meets in prison two of the Pharaoh’s ministers who had lost favor with the ruler. One of them was eventually released from prison and restored to his old position. Only when the Pharaoh had a strange dream did the minister remember the time in prison with Joseph who had impressed him as an interpreter of dreams. Long story short, Joseph gets released from prison to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. The essence of the dream was that the ruler had to prepare the country for seven years of drought. Amazingly Joseph’s fortune changed in an instant when the Pharaoh recognized the wisdom of the man he was dealing with.  Joseph gets made viceroy of all of Egypt as the righthand man of the most powerful ruler of the world at the time.

Life comes in strange twists and turns

True to the dream interpretation the drought did come and only by wise management of the food and grain resources could countless lives be saved including those of Joseph’s brother and aging father Jacob.

Life comes often in strange twists and turns. Fortunes can be earned and lost overnight. High positions of political power and influence may be gone tomorrow. The amazing story of Joseph is that he never lost trust and faith. By forgiving his brothers and Potiphar’s wife for falsely accusing him, he made peace with himself and could go into trust and humility. From that energy grew his wisdom and incredible foresight to prevent a catastrophe.

Forgiving does not mean approval of wrongdoing

Forgiving does not mean that you are approving of wrongdoing, of abuse, and all the terrible things that humans do to each other. It is making peace with the past in the knowledge that you are the person today because of all of that which you have experienced. The famous Austrian psychiatrist Victor Frankl only survived the Nazi death camps by telling himself that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s one way.”

Nelson Mandela was often asked why he did not seek retribution from the white apartheid rulers who imprisoned him for 27 years. His answer: “Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That’s why it’s such a powerful weapon.”

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Dealing with fear and anger

The only certainty in life is that change is a constant

– Heraclitus-

Anger is a close ally of fear. With many countries going into their second month of Covid-19 lockdown the strain is beginning to show with spontaneous angry protests in several bigger cities over the weekend.

We are currently experiencing a defining moment in history.  Our world will never be the same again.  During the first stage of a tumultuous change, there is often resistance and denial. Then comes fear. Terrible decisions are made when we are in a hurry and under stress. The reason is simple:

When you are in a state of fear and stress the body is flooded with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Blood vessels contract, your heartbeat starts racing, the body is in fear and flight mode. The fear reaction in the brain’s amygdala is triggered even before you have time to process and think rationally.

Solutions are found with a relaxed mind

The prefrontal cortex of the brain has no time to process what is happening. In a relaxation mode, the prefrontal cortex can, however, perform its executive function in differentiating between conflicting thoughts and determining future consequences of current activities on a rational level. Solutions are found in an aligned and relaxed mode.

There are wonderful and simple methods of how you can lower your blood pressure and go back into a relaxed state of mind:

  • Emotional shifting is becoming aware of the emotion you are currently feeling. Is it fear, anger, grief, sadness? Define the emotion! Yes, I am afraid and anxious! Then find an image in your mind that can act as an antidote to that fear: A funny video, love for a person close to you, gratitude for all that is good in your life, a wonderful experience that you had recently.
  • When you are under duress it immediately shows in shortness of breath. Place your hands on your lower belly. At the count of one, you inhale, and at the count of one you exhale, feeling that exhaling feeling all the way down into your lower belly. Keep going at least until the count of 21.
  • Some countries are relaxing some of the restrictions, allowing people to go on walks. Take the opportunity and go for a walk in nature. Find a spot where you can tune your senses to a natural sound like the song of a bird or can hear the rustling of leaves in a tree.

How you start your day will determine your day. If you’ve had a bad night with monkeys dancing in your head, you can start with the emotional shift exercise, followed by the meditation. You can also practice a personal mantra. One of my favorites is:

Everything is Grace. Faith over Fear

Prayer is a powerful method of going beyond the self and finding solace, especially if you pray for others who are in a much worse position.

This time is a time that can be compared to winter. It is also a winter of the soul, a time of introspection where minds can go into silence.  The time of hibernation is lying low until the turbulence has passed and remain in trust. This too shall pass in a rebirth that is spring.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Covid-19 and empty spaces

Thirty spokes meet in the hub, but the empty space between them is the essence of the wheel.” – Lao Tse – 

In the hurried rat race of our modern culture, we have become so used to treading the treadmill of HAVING that we have forgotten all about the BEING. The spokes of the wheel are what is visible but what is really the essence is that which is invisible and holds everything together.

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It is in those quiet moments of loneliness where we are finally separated from the drumbeat of distraction that we find connection.

Western culture is in a state of spiritual disconnect, expressing itself in the fraying of economic, social, religious and other institutions and the pandemic rise of mental illness. The Covid-19 pandemic was just the trigger. The foundations of the house we have been building has been on shaky ground for some time in the constant pull between externation gratification and inner soul yearning.

Resilience is built from a good sprint and recovery cycle 

A life in imbalance with high stress not compensated by recuperation periods of empty space inevitably leads to a breakdown of the body’s natural defence systems. A healthy sprint and recovery system makes a body resilient to the storms of life. Check out my booklet on Resilience: What makes you strong?

These changes are leaving people anxious, scared, disorientated and confused. The first thing people do in such situations is to find someone to blame: The Chinese having started it all with lack of safety measures in a laboratory in Wuhan, politicians not having reacted early enough or having responded too harshly.

Making the best out of the current situation

If you are a spiritually orientated person you will find that such a mindset won’t get you far and make you feel even more miserable. On a personal level you can start by reflecting on your own mindset:

  • What opportunity lies waiting in the current situation?
  • What friends and associations can I cultivate via zoom or skype?
  • What clutter needs cleared in my immediate surroundings?

On a global level the universe is telling humanity with a major jolt to wake up. We cannot continue with the ways of old. We have to question our mobility patterns and what it means for the environment. We have to move from an exploitative economic system to a sustainable, restorative system.

In terms of the ancient Five Element philosophy, which finds many of its roots in Lao Tse’s teachings, gigantic natural or political disruptions do not come from nowhere but are unavoidable when we fail to see the signs of the elements being in imbalance. Nature is merely trying to restore balance when we initially only see the burned grounds before us. But with time grow the first seedlings from the ashes.

In our HAVING culture we have tried too hard to feed the hungry ghosts, exploiting nature to such a degree that major ecosystems and our entire global climate is in danger of collapse.

Living a life of BEING is being open again for those empty spaces where soul evolution takes place. Before our eyes we are seeing our world changing. Transmuting the emotions of fear and anxiousness and seizing the moment with courage and hope is the challenge.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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A changed world after lockdown

We are in the fifth week of our lockdown in Spain which has some of the most stringent Coronavirus rules in place. I was stopped a few days ago by police near my home who told me in no uncertain terms that taking doggy for a walk was not allowed if I had a garden where the dog could go outside.

Moving about is embedded in our genes

When this is over I will appreciate all the more my long walks in nature in the nearby Tramuntana mountains of Majorca. I have become more aware that moving about freely and traveling to faraway places has become very much part of our modern lifestyle. It will take a while to fully comprehend how farreaching an effect this is having on what we have perceived as fundamental freedoms. Our movements are likely to remain restricted for some time to come. What this means for the travel industry is anyone’s guess.

The urge to be on the move and discovering new places is embedded in our genes. Our ancestors moved from the trees to walk on the ground to seek new feeding grounds. For thousands of years, humans were nomads moving from place to place. As recently as 500 years ago there were still hunters and gatherers in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Finding authenticity on the journey

Jewish mysticist teachers made a point of sending their students on a journey to broaden their mental and spiritual horizons. It was also a way of teaching the scholar not to become too dependent on the Master and to find their own inner authenticity. Experiential spirituality in the mystic tradition is something awaiting discovery from within and cannot be imposed externally by rules of belief.

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Hiking trail, Majorca

The apprenticeship training of carpenters in Germany has for centuries followed the same tradition. After learning the basic tools of the craft from an experienced “Meister”, the apprentice goes on a “Wanderschaft” or hike to distant places to both finetune his skills and character.

Finding the empty space 

Every pilgrim who has gone on a pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain knows all about the “zoning out” into that empty space that comes when walking alone in nature for several weeks.  Experiential spirituality is a deep personal connection with the divine. Spirituality is all about following and remaining true to your divine purpose. Limitations to “Be-coming” are all too often set by the parameters of doctrine, parental expectations and the constant drum-beat of digital distractions.

When our senses are attuned to nature we find alignment with the universe. There is a close feeling of connectivity to the whole in the seemingly chaotic.

It is all the more reason to look forward again to my next annual pilgrimage. It might not take place at all this year on the Camino because we don’t know if all the restrictions will be lifted by summer. Meanwhile, it will have to be short hikes closer to home.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Lessons from nature on Covid-19

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree – Martin Luther – 

From a spiritual dimension, everything has purpose and meaning.

When we look at the coronavirus or Covid-19 crisis from the perspective of the Five Elements, the metal element comes into play.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Covid-19 is attacking us where we are most vulnerable

We are seeing that the virus is spreading especially fast through contact and touch between humans with most of the deaths caused by an infection of the lung.

The metal element represents the body organs of the lung and large intestine on a physical level. They find expression in the nose, the breathing aspect, and the skin – the sense that we go into contact with our external world. The virus is ignoring boundaries of nations, ethnicity and religion. We are all in this together as a human race.

The insidious nature of the virus is that it is attacking us at the very essence of our behavior patterns. We greet each other with our hands as a gesture of politeness and friendship. We hug and kiss the people we love. We touch hands when we give comfort.

A time for introspection during lockdown?

The metal element moves the body energies inward.  This element represents the season of autumn when nature itself starts contracting. It reaches completion with the water element with plant life withdrawing into the roots and animals going into hibernation.

On the emotional level when the Element Metal is weakened we go into grief. Grief is much about the sadness about that which was and is no more. Our very world has changed and will never be the same.  There is much grief, sadness and fear (fear is the emotion of the water element) over that which has changed in our world and is no more.

Humanity has broken the code of nature

Our skin, which is the outer expression of the large intestine, is about setting and accepting boundaries whether we choose or deny body contact and what we inhale and exhale in energy around us. What we inhale we become. What are we inhaling in negative thoughts, news, and distractions? How much have we broken the code of nature in exploiting and destroying our own and the life systems of other living beings?

Moving from grief into courage 

Metal energy that is in balance has courage. Despite the fear, anxiety and melancholy sadness we are seeing many people rediscovering community. Health workers are working tirelessly to help others. Groups are helping to do the shopping for the elderly. Courage is facing the truth of the moment and regaining control. We don’t have control over the external circumstances but we have control over our reactions to them. Staying in the moment is the big challenge. It is acknowledging what is happening in the world, acknowledging our fears, our grief, and sadness, then to transmute those emotions into courage.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Coronavirus: Lessons for humanity

There are decades where nothing happens,

and there are weeks where decades happen.”

– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

It was a beautiful sunny spring day in 1986. Nature was awakening from the long winter with white and yellow daffodils blooming on lush green meadows. Birds were singing and looking out to build their nests. Nobody could see the invisible enemy: Airborne radioactive contamination sweeping over northern Europe from the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in the Soviet Union.

Defining moments of history 

Radio and TV were warning the population, especially pregnant women, to stay indoors. It was one of those defining moments of history that precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

These last weeks have been a deja vu experience. Here on the beautiful island of Majorca, we are locked into our homes for at least the next three weeks as beautiful spring days unfold. It is one of the defining moments in a lifetime which we will remember like the 9/11 terror attack – where those of us alive at the time remember exactly what we did that day.

The fear pandemic

The coronavirus crisis is changing our world as we know it and teaching humanity a number of lessons.  The emotional, psychological and economic impact will be far more profound than the impact of the virus itself. I wrote in a previous blog that the uncertainty, global lockdowns and constant bombardment of negativity on social media are creating a global fear and anxiety pandemic.

During such times it is crucial to remain grounded and not to be distracted by the constant stream of coronavirus news trackers and horror scenarios.  Humanity is challenged enormously when everything that we know changes within days and weeks. For some, it is too much to bear and we need to be supportive, mindful and caring to those vulnerable people around us. Not only the old, weak and frail but also those who are feeling mentally on the edge.

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Raised human consciousness

The coronavirus crisis is one of the events driving humanity another notch up to a raised higher consciousness. Sometimes we need a jolt and a wake-up call like an alcoholic lying flat on the ground in desperation before he seeks a cure. Interestingly, the coronavirus is also called “covid-19”. In geomancy, the primary root number of the 19 is 1 (1 +9 = 10 = 1+0 = 1).  The one marks the beginning of a new era in the cycle of elements (spring or wood element). The 9 stands for the universal spiritual law, enlightenment, and service for humanity.

Having versus BEING

The opposite of the obsession and attachment to things is Living to BE. Being is opening the senses to nature, is living in the moment, and gratitude. We are social beings and happiness is in friendships and the love we give and get from the loved ones around us. The enemy is not another nation, another race, another religion, or another political party. We are affected globally by this challenge as a human species. We are having to move into a collective responsibility, especially in dealing with climate change and the destruction of our ecosystems of which we are an essential part. Moving from Having into Being is changing our entire economic system from exploitation to one than is sustainable and restorative. It is necessary and essential to our survival as we don’t have much time left.

The power of thought

Already we are seeing a counter-movement to the general feeling of despondency. Social media groups are developing fast committed to posting just positive news and funny stories. Volunteer organizations are being formed in towns and villages to help support the elderly who cannot leave their homes to go shopping. While we have a culture of narcissism focused on individual gratification and validation, the counter-movement is focused primarily on service and uplifting the community spirit. Challenges and crisis situations are also opportunities to rise to the occasion and to bring out the best in us.

Nature needs a break 

Friends living in big cities are telling me that they can hear for the first time the birds singing because there is no traffic noise. Pollution levels are down everywhere. The lagoon in Venice is so clear that fish can be seen for the first time because all the boats and cruise ships are no longer churning up the sediment. Nature is rejoicing in this short break from the human rat race.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Fear and the coronavirus

The coronavirus panic buttons are omnipresent. The fighting over toilet rolls in empty supermarkets to the social ostracising of anyone looking Chinese is telling us something about the fragile state of human society.

Where conspiracy theorists and professional deceivers on social media dominate the narrative fear takes hold.  Fear triggers stress hormones that switch off rational thought, putting the body into fight or flight mode.

Fear and panic stir the darkest sides of human nature with an “everyone for himself” attitude, nationalism, xenophobia and a fallback to the perilous age of pre-Enlightenment.

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Photo by Olesya Yemets on Unsplash

Mass panic takes on its own dynamics and its anyone’s guess how long the economic fallout will be in the next few months: Complete breakdown of the cruise ship industry, and factories closing because of supply chain interruptions?

We know from neurological research that when the mind is under stress or in high emotional turmoil that cognitive and level-headed thought is impossible. You will not perceive or hear the voice of reason if you are in panic mode.

Let’s stick with the facts that come directly from the experts quoted by traditional media: The coronavirus is influenza.  If we take normal precautions the likelihood of becoming infected is relatively small and of dying from it even smaller. The victims so far have been predominantly among the elderly with a weak immune system.  With most people, it is a mild infection.

By early March the global death toll from the virus was just over 3,000 with most of them coming from China.  Both China and Italy have a large elderly population.

Humanity is faced by far greater threats than the coronavirus. Climate change has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods as a result of flooding, heatwaves and freak storms.  One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29-year-olds globally.  And lets just look at the death toll of the normal annual flu: At least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000 – just in the United States.

We are all going to die at some point. But in a world of spiritual disconnect, the fear of death is profound. Death is not something we like to talk about. We have banished the experience of it to old age homes and hospices.

Fear of death evaporates with spiritual practice. It comes from the realization that the body is merely a vehicle to higher soul elevation that moves into a different dimension when the sojourn on this earth has come to an end.  Within a different state of consciousness, the mind quietens amid the din of confusion and panic sirens.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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Is religious being spiritual?

What is religious and what is spiritual?  At its best religion is a ritualized expression of the spiritual. At its worst, it becomes an instrument of dehumanization and control.

While religion focuses on who you are supposed to be by abiding by certain rules of conduct and practice, spirituality is all about becoming who you really are with all your unique, individual, God-given potentials and abilities.

spirituality

Religion is a doctrine that tells you what to believe, what group you need to belong to and what rules you have to follow. Spirituality is experienced from within. You believe because you have felt and experienced. You do the “right thing” because you just know what is good and what is bad for the Greater Whole.

Most of the many fellow pilgrims I have spoken to on my walks on the Spanish Camino would describe themselves as spiritual seekers rather than followers of a certain religious doctrine.

In becoming mindful and watchful for the subtle messages of the universe transmitted in dreams, images, and symbols, life takes on an entirely different meaning. Put in a different way: God speaks to us in many different ways.

We are on the brink of another raised level of human consciousness which is non-divisive, universalist, tolerant, self-reflective and compassionate.

At the same time, elementary and revolutionary changes are always confronted with a backlash from those defending the old order.

In recent years we have seen a frightening rise of movements seeking to divide and separate with fear-instilling messages, propounded by dangerous narcissistic and ego-driven leaders.

It is the natural pendulum of the yin and the yang. Energy is wasted in the hysteria over the actions coming from the shadow.

In going with the higher frequency of the raised consciousness, the danger is that we react with the same patterns as our adversaries. We also become hateful, ranting and vengeful.

Yet when seen according to the law of opposites that is the foundation of life, a different perspective can be taken. Identity is defined in terms of the opposite and it is often when confronted with the extreme opposite that we are galvanized into action.

(This is an extract from “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”)
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

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Walking your walk

Faith in the biblical sense can truly move mountains. Theresa decides to walk the Camino in an act of defiance after her doctor tells her that the cancer in her body will reduce her lifespan to six months at the most and that she should settle her affairs.

She walks the Camino with soft feet, sending her backpack ahead to the next town with a taxi. She completes her walk and returns home a different woman.

“That was five years ago,” she tells me as we drink our café con leche in one of the many bars dotting the Camino. This time she is walking the Camino the second time.

We are only in the infancy of discovering the true connection between body and mind. So many fellow pilgrims I’ve met on the Camino were told by family, friends, and associates that they would never be able to walk almost 800 kilometers over five weeks. We are capable of so much more than we think possible.

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Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

The Austrian-born Jewish psychiatrist Victor Frankl (1905-1997) is renowned for his breakthrough research on the power of meaning. In his book Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp, also known under the bestselling title Man’s Search for Meaning, he narrates several observations in the Nazi death camps.

While incarcerated in Auschwitz, Frankl counseled fellow prisoners with his philosophy that a striving for meaning, even in the most harrowing of circumstances, is what keeps us alive.

Inmates who gave themselves up became suicidal and died, while those who saw some meaning, like telling the world about the Holocaust after liberation, survived.

It was the “will to meaning” that looked to the future, and not to the traumatic events of the past, that sustained people.

Despite losing his wife and nearly all his family in the holocaust, Frankl refused to dwell on the past.

Even in the worst possible situation, man still has freedom of choice and the ability to seek meaning in whatever situation he finds himself in, he argued.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” he wrote.

It’s a simple but profound truth. It all begins in the mind.

It is why a cancer patient will very often give up when told of the diagnosis. The word itself is so loaded with fear and mortality that the patient sees no hope. The shocked reaction of family and friends is often not conducive to the healing process either when the patient is asked on a daily basis how “the cancer treatment is going.”

We also know from research that patients who overload their friends and family on a daily basis with all the details of their illness do much worse than those who refuse to mention by name the illness, merely telling everyone that they are in a healing process.

Most fitness and weight-loss programs fail because of a negative mindset.

After an initial loss of weight or a couple of exercise sessions, most people give up and return to old habits because they haven’t found the real reason in their mind why they want to reduce weight or get fit. Some people even end up being more obese because they have subconsciously tricked their mind into putting on more weight. “I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be in debt,” are a double-negative with opposite the intended effect.

Reformulating that wish into a realistic feeling that is actually felt as emotion and pictured as an ideal outcome really works.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

https://www.reinogevers.com

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