Food for Thought: Enlightened or Privileged?

Food for Thought: Enlightened or Privileged?

Has spirituality, to a certain extent, become co-opted by certain groups as a (perhaps unconscious) way to maintain undertones of far right-wing capitalistic ideology?

Using positive thinking as a cure-all shames mentally-ill and traumatised individuals. Seems similar to the way in which far right-wing advocates do not take the plights of these individuals seriously thereby not providing them with the social benefits and resources. At the very least, it does not validate the reality of their struggles.

Advertising apparent spiritual lifestyles and claiming that they are easy and cheap (ie: healthy eating, travelling, yoga, retreats) if we were only to able to open our minds and step out of the current paradigm or matrix? The universe provides for all right? Seems similar to the way in which some big businessmen claim that the lower classes simply have a lazy mindset and if they just worked a little harder they would be able to claim these riches, not taking into consideration the realities of socioeconomic disparities and the everyday struggles of the poor.

It seems that, in some cases, spirituality is used to make people feel superior about their current lifestyles whilst underhandedly shaming those who can not simply drop their working class lives and go for a retreat in a far away country. It’s as if in order to not feel guilty for accumulating such wealth, a spiritual brand or logo is stuck onto these ways of being.

What kind of spirituality ignores the real human plights of the most vulnerable in our society? What kind of spirituality invalidates the struggles of the poor, mentally and physically ill as well as the traumatised with platitudes of positive thinking and ways of being that are not immediately accessible to those who are disadvantaged?

There is nothing wrong with living your life the way you see fit and employing spiritual practices in order to grow as an individual, but why claim that all of this is easily accessible to everyone when it clearly isn’t?

These may be false comparisons to capitalistic ideology. They may not. Either way it’s clear that many individuals in the spiritual and self-development community need a wake up call to what’s happening outside of their love and light Kombucha bubbles.

I think we can do better. What do you think? 

My Personal Experience With Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

My Personal Experience With Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

This may rub some people the wrong way but the truth of the matter is, as someone who has been diagnosed with adult non-hyperactive ADHD, I do not know if it exists. Now when I say that, I am NOT saying it doesn’t exist either.

*WHAT I AM NOT HERE TO DO IS INVALIDATE ANYONE’S EXPERIENCE/STRUGGLE WITH THIS DIAGNOSIS.*

I am simply admitting to my ignorance on the subject matter. I have simply not had the time to fully delve into this subject, at least to a point where I feel like I can have a real objective view on it anyways.

That being said, to invalidate the struggles of those diagnosed with this disorder or view it as ‘lesser than’ others, I think, is a far cry from the level of empathy and humility that we should be practicing as human beings.

As far as I know, among-st young boys, ADHD is over-diagnosed, whilst, among-st young girls, especially those with high IQs and who do no employ the hyperactive component, it is under-diagnosed.

Beyond that, there are many (proven or unproven I don’t know) theories as to why it exists or, at the very least, presents itself as a disorder. The general consensus seems to be that there is a lack of certain chemicals/hormones in the brain or that these hormones/chemicals do not function the way they are supposed to. There are also some other lesser-known theories out there that claim developmental trauma is the root cause of these symptoms as well as the idea that ADHD is simply a divergent way of thinking which does not fit into the way our society functions.

I am also not an individual who simply thinks medication is the immediate answer. Yes, I am on medication myself and it has saved my life but it’s a very personal choice and journey.

At the end of the day I am not an expert on this and I can not make claims that I have not fully educated myself on.

What I do know is this:

  • Nearly one hundred percent of the time when people claim it doesn’t exist, it’s not based on any thorough research but simply an idea that they have been spoon fed via their specific political/spiritual ideology.
  • Nearly one hundred percent of the time, the people I have met within the ADHD community are not lazy or stupid. Rather, nearly one hundred percent of the time they are some of the most hard-working and smartest individuals I have ever come across.
  • Nearly one-hundred percent of the time, when you state that this diagnosis, for an absolute fact, does not exist, you discourage very vulnerable individuals, especially children, from seeking out the help they need, or from, at the very least, seeking out solutions that may vary from the usual Western medical paradigm. Furthermore, when you state that these individuals are lazy, you invalidate what is an extreme struggle, especially for those who are high on the spectrum. You could even push them to the edge, with many individuals diagnosed with this disorder also suffering from major co-morbid depression and anxiety.
  • Those who have been officially diagnosed, at least the ones I have met, really do struggle with executive function, planning, concentration and so forth. Many of them also have full blown or at least tendencies that are related to autism, OCD, GAD, depression, eating disorders and the list goes on and on. Whether the diagnosis is objective or not, the struggle still remains very real in the minds and lives of those affected.I don’t understand why it is so difficult for us to simply admit to not knowing everything, especially when it’s a topic that could really hurt other individuals in a very real way.

At the end of the day, I can not tell you what to think or say, but it does have a real influence, especially when the people affected are those really struggling, whether you want to view it as an official diagnosis or not.

Is your urge to live in the known and your ego too big for you to admit to ignorance that you would rather risk hurting vulnerable individuals?

Have your opinions and your thoughts and your debates. Freedom of speech is great and in no way do I want to take that away.

However, practicing some empathy and sensitivity down that road could save someone’s life.

It’s your choice. Words do matter. 

A Reawakening of the Heart: How I Found Joy Within the Depths of Grief

A Reawakening of the Heart: How I Found Joy Within the Depths of Grief

I would say I went through my first heart awakening (or perhaps manic/hypo-manic episode – still not sure) when I was fifteen years old.

One day, I woke up and my heart was as wide open as the sky. I felt connected to everything around me. I was seeing life through the eyes of love and joy.

But I was young and naive, and not only did my spiritual heart open without any grounding or mature spiritual guidance, at the first sign of distress I shut it down, completely, and fell into a hellish depression where being numb, empty and deeply disconnected were my only reality for years to come.

A slight re-opening occurred one day and bit my bit my depression began to fade away as I let go into life a little more, let my mind quiet a bit and allowed my now-guarded heart to open with much more earthly wisdom than I possessed as a teenager.

Then a few years ago, someone I love deeply, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and it was spreading, everywhere. He is gone from this earth now.

I had been crying a lot and it was a new feeling to me because although I had experienced the loss of loved ones before I couldn’t really cry or feel how much it hurt, and I mean it really hurt me as though someone had bulldozed me square in the chest.

I think it was early morning, I was lying in my bed after heaving sobs from my body, and I felt my heart wanting to close again, but, having become more in tune with myself, I consciously and gently allowed myself to keep it open, even though it hurt, and it hurt like hell.

Seemingly out of nowhere, through snot, a smudgy face, hair stuck on my cheek and puffy eyes I heard an eagle calling in the distance. This instantly filled my heart to the brim with such deep joy, a joy that is admittedly indescribable.

In that moment I realised there was some kind of beauty in my suffering. That the grief I was allowing myself to experience had become a rebirth of my heart and had deepened my capacity to love.

I felt that this place, strangely enough, is where all is encompassed, where unconditional love arises, and without fully feeling my pain, I simply realised that I wouldn’t be able to fully feel my joy either.

My heart broke open and I learned how to love again; I finally truly understood the quote by Rumi where he wrote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”

Spiritual Bypassing and the Importance of Grounding

Spiritual Bypassing and the Importance of Grounding

A classic tale of spiritual bypassing, and a very long one at that. I’ve always been a very spiritual person. From a very young age I was interested in spiritual concepts. I was also an idealist, and quite naive at that, which has led me to make some very poor choices based on nothing but spiritual jargon that had no place in this “real” world.

Now, honestly, I am not not sure what the hell is going on with me. All I know is that my life has significantly improved since I’ve gone on psychiatric medication. I make more rational choices, my relationships have improved, my concentration has improved, I’m more emotionally stable and my money management has vastly taken a turn for the positive.

On the other end of the spectrum, my creativity has lowered significantly, I don’t get as many ideas as I used to, my thinking has become less out-of-the-box and more like a straight and narrow tunnel and lastly, I feel a bit more disconnected to the world around me and to the spiritual aspect of myself.

Honestly, this really scares me. I don’t know if this medication is a good idea. It’s cut off a lot of defining aspects of who I thought I was and how I defined myself. By that same token, I feel as though it has made me a much stable person and much more reliable.

That being said, I am confused. Is there something wrong with me or does the western world not make space for people who are simply more sensitive to these other worlds? This in and of itself is a question I don’t want to get into right now as it is not something that, I feel, can’t be tackled in one article.

However, I am realizing that all this spiritual searching has, rather than been pushing me towards higher realms of spiritual awareness, has been trying to pull me back to earth, back to my humanness and that a lot of my spiritual searching was an unconscious way in which I’ve been trying to avoid facing hard truths about life.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this realization. Two very difficult Ayahuasca ceremonies and a visit to an energy healer both warned me that my head was way too high in the clouds and I needed some very firm grounding – that my exploration into the spiritual world was no good if it made no difference on the earth.

I guess its easier to admit this to myself when my sensitivity has become cut off because life is a bit easier when you’re on pills.

To be honest, looking back at a lot of the spiritual experiences I’ve had I’m scared that there is something wrong with me. I’m scared to come of these pills. In a sense, I am no longer using spirituality to run away from life but rather using the pills to numb myself in an effort to deal with it in a way that is much easier compared to when I am off the pills.

I honestly am not sure how a person as naturally hypersensitive as me is supposed to face the world without these band aids but at by same token I feel that the loss of this sensitivity is the loss of some other type of strength that is not valued in the western world.

I do think that eventually I will come off these pills. Right now I need them to build a foundation for my life but when I do come off them, a whole lot of grounding is going to be needed and a whole of strength that I apparently didn’t know I had will be required.

I can’t live my life in numbness for too much longer but neither can I live it with my head in the clouds. However, I will not completely throw away my sensitivity and creativity so that I can survive this rat race. There is much more to life than that and although I am numb, I can still feel a deep calling and one day, when the time is right, I will awaken to this sensitivity but with my feet firmly planted on the ground, and although it may be painful to walk through this world with my senses heightened, I will do so with the strength that I know I have so that I can truly bring my gifts to the world.

This place has always seemed strange to me. I don’t understand the hardness of humans. It’s almost alien, but I will not let this numb me and neither will I hide away anymore with spirituality as my safe space.

I know I am here for a reason, and maybe its to soften the hearts of a very hardened society. Maybe I am just crazy. Who knows? But as long as I am looking after myself and helping other people, then does it really matter?

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Putting Away Childish things: The Sacrifices We Must Make in Order to Grow

Putting Away Childish things: The Sacrifices We Must Make in Order to Grow

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as child but when I grew up, I put away childish things – 1 Corinthians 13: 11

On a recent trip to Italy, my head was spinning. It seems as though once you step out of the rat race your mind begins to analyse your life without your permission; filing, analyzing and strategising.

In essence, stepping out of your little world and busy life gift you with the time to see your journey from a new perspective.

One thing I was really struggling with was the amount of work I had on my plate. Podcasts, music, a life coaching programme, a life coaching course, my blog, my day job and so on.

As an idealistic person, and I think partially because of my ADHD, I struggle to prioritise. I want to do everything at once. I struggle sometimes to see the realistic approach in any situation.

At the end of the trip, a family member encouraged me to quit some side projects, simplify and, quintessentially, focus on one thing at a time,

His exact words were something around, ‘To get somewhere in life, you’re going to have to let a few Dayna’s die.’

This is something I experienced almost somatically in my last Ayahuasca ceremony where, surprisingly, I was being invited to be more practical, grounded, committed, focused and to not let my idealism run away with me.

I remember sitting in the hills of the Drakensburg following the recent night’s ceremony, almost literally feeling as though a younger, more starry-eyed vision of me was dying.

Nonetheless, although I have had a few hiccups, by viewing the world through a certain lens, by making the necessary sacrifices I began to build and I am still building a foundation whereby I have more time, options, choices and my entire personal universe has expanded in a way that has allowed my idealistic side more room to play and enjoy itself.

Many may have realised this early on, but my stubborn idealism has prevented me from, well, growing up, and I am slowly beginning to realise that in order to find that space to play and to follow my real purpose I need to view the world in a much more grounded way and make some very difficult sacrifices.

I am, at least for the most part, ready to put childish things away.

Smoking, Coffee and Personalising your Meditation Practice

Smoking, Coffee and Personalising your Meditation Practice

I wrote an article in the past about breaking up with meditation. You can read more about it here but basically I was, to use the South African term, gatvol of trying my best to meditate for practically my whole life and still not being able to get ten minutes of presence clocked down.

Luckily, I recently found a new technique from my Somatic Experiencing Therapist. I take a cup of coffee, a smoke, put my bare feet on the ground and simply enjoy every single minute of it.

Now smoking and coffee perhaps aren’t seen as the most ‘spiritual’ of substances and I wouldn’t recommend you start dosing yourself up with caffeine and start an addictive smoking habit.

However, it works for me, and that’s the point. I have never been able to be so present in my entire life until a simple cuppa caffeine walked in and changed that forever.

We have this almost holy grail idolization of mediation in the spiritual community. It’s almost as if you don’t meditate, you are not really doing it ‘right’.

That being said, our spiritual path is our own and rather than turning forms of practices into micro-religious rites, we should use what serves us and discard what doesn’t.

For me, that’s a cup of coffee and a cigarette but for you, it could be yoga, climbing, Tai Chi or anything that gets you into the now and connected to yourself, your body and your center.

We are all on our own self-development and/or spiritual journey. Let’s be careful not to turn what was meant to be free internal exploration into another dogmatic way of being.

Fighting Fascism…In the Name of Love?

Fighting Fascism…In the Name of Love?
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Now that I’ve got your attention…I don’t usually talk about politics online or on my blog because my opinions tend to change a lot and sometimes it doesn’t look like these type of conversations go anywhere except for people screaming at each other online.
That being said, rather than judgement, shame or rational arguments; acts of empathy, forgiveness and compassion seem to me to be the most effective way in convincing people to move towards less extremist and hateful positions.
I tend to see a lot of fully  understandable anger directed to extremist individuals and groups. Since I can’t say that any “group” I belong to has been specifically persecuted, I would never force someone to take this approach or force someone to prematurely forgive anyone or forgive anyone ever at all.
However, it does seem that treating individuals in extremist groups with more love tends to steer them away from these groups, more so than shaming and slandering them does.
My own personal and I know very controversial experience (of many) happened a few years ago when I was simply chilling and talking with a group of people.
One of the individuals was very up front about being racist. This, understandably, set off many people who had some really nasty things to say – some storming out. Although I understood this reaction to his blatant hate and saw it as completely justified, it just seemed to make him more angry, hateful and stuck in his dogmatic beliefs.
Eventually, I sat down and asked him why he feels this way. He spoke of traumatic experiences in his own personal life that led him to generalise people. I understood that this pattern of racist thinking was/is really deplorable but I also understood that trauma can also be a big factor which causes individuals and I think, the brain, to oversimplify situations – causing fight or flight responses.
I then asked him to start listing different and more positive experiences that he had and when he was done, I asked him if perhaps these traumas had caused him to cast certain judgments which were actually unfounded in this reality. He had tears in his eyes and said, “Maybe you have a point.”
Now I was very young. There are some things I would have done differently and I don’t know if this actually caused him to change his views but comparing that approach to the rational debates and anger people throw at these people seemed and continues to seem to be much more effective, in general, in pulling people out of these dark rabbit holes.
Now of course it was much easier for me to do this. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my composure had I been the individual this person viewed as, I guess, almost lesser than human. I’m not sure what to do with that at all and it makes me feel a little sick.
My point is, although these are simply anecdotal reports from my own life and the two gentlemen in the Ted-talk videos I have posted below, this article, I have barely come across a more effective method.
That being said, there are highly dangerous situations where individuals suffer from some type of antisocial personality disorder, are quick to violence, or are so ingrained in their hate that even approaching them or trying to change them ‘with the alchemy of your kindness’ is fruitless and could even lead one to putting themselves in harms way.
I hope to one day find a way to get through to these people but for now, I will have to settle with what I have seen and learnt.
Image result for the alchemy of your kindness will not change them
But,  for the ones who just got sucked in due to trauma, identity crisis, ignorance, isolation and feeling lost, which I think is the majority, this compassionate method seems to work and it makes me wonder why SO many people fail to use it.
I think many people view forgiveness as a way of giving away their power. Something victims were either forced or coerced into doing and so this is more than understandable.
However, forgiveness to me is a way of reclaiming one’s power. It does not mean you are justifying abhorrent actions but it’s a step towards freeing oneself from the traumatic effects of those actions.
I have learnt this myself through the process of forgiving past abusers but I will admit that it was not easy, and forcing it does not work either.
Beyond this, you increase the likelihood that the perpetrator, if he/she asked for forgiveness,  feeling free of the burden of his/her shame may even use their story, as you will see in the videos, to actively fight against discrimination/prejudice.
 Forgiveness, then could essentially free both parties to move through their lives in a much more positive and impactful way.
Another issue I have noticed is that many people do not want to really have morality enacted, but tend to stand on these platonic moral high grounds, effectively propping up their egos as the most just and glorified. A type of neo-political righteousness – just without the backing of a theistic being.
This high-horse affect increases judgement, thereby decreasing compassion and effectively just makes extremists more extreme – in the most simple terms. It’s basically the YouTube of real life target advertising. The one minute you’re watching a video about why Dave Rubin ‘Left the Left’, the next moment a Molyneux video posts up in your side bar. Scary shit.  (Side note: If you want to watch some political comedy follow this link.)
Of course, this is a delicate subject and I am trying to handle it with care whilst still getting the precious goods delivered. I guess what I am saying is that I do not want to invalidate any victims experience with trauma or interrupt their healing process.
It just seems that many, usually those who were never victims themselves, tend to take the moral high road in an effort to serve their ego’s, instead of doing what it more effective in the real world.
In my opinion, if painting our bums red and wiggling them to the sound of anything by Ariana Grandea?! (huh) was a surefire way to end all extremism on all sides of the political spectrum, I would personally take over the country with fire and blood and make it an official mandate, if that’s what its called, and I am not contradicting myself at all, mkay?
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I have asked this question one hundred times but at the end of the day, do you want to be right, do you want to play the moral high ground or do you want to change the world for the better.
Because, in many cases, you will have to choose.
Relevant Links: