Category Archives: Ponderings

Ponderings upon the world

What is normal, anyways?

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Thanks to my job, I get to meet loads of people. In the last month I’ve met about 60 new people. And not just meet as in I’ve bought a coffee  from them, I mean meet as in spent time with them. Got to know them and tried to remember their names.

 

Obviously meeting a lot of people entails encountering lots of different personalities and ways of being. I have, however, noticed myself saying “Oh my days. Why can’t people just be normal?!” Suddenly I say ‘normal’ as a compliment, as if being normal is what everyone should strive for.

 

But now I’m thinking what is normal? When I say “why can’t people just be normal?” am I actually saying “Why can’t people just be fucked up in exactly the same way as I am?”.

 

I think I might be.

 

We all have our definition of normal, that varies from culture to culture, from family to family and from person to person. I remember when I first went out in Greece. I all eagerly got to the club at about 11pm, found it empty and then went home and concluded that the night life in Greece was shit and that Greeks didn’t know how to party. Little did I know all the cool Greeks were still having dinner, and wouldn’t rock up to the club until 3am, where they would proceed to party until the sun came up, whilst judgemental little guiri tourist me was tucked up in bed. Now who is shit at partying?!

 

That’s just a silly cultural example, but I think we spend a lot of time trying to find people who think like us. We might say that someone who thinks like us is normal, or interesting, or that we just click. But, maybe what we’re really saying is ‘so and so’s twisted, warped view of the world is just like mine, and this makes me like them’.

 

I’m guessing that ‘normal’ doesn’t really exist. Everyone has their own way of being, and some will work with our ways, and others won’t.

 

But I think I need to stop calling people ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. ‘Jade-friendly’ or ‘not Jade-friendly’ would be a truer and more accurate judgement.

“If God Invited You To A Party”

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Greetings lovely people,

Now, I’m not usually one for quotes or poems, but this particular poem by Hafiz has been a fav of mine for a while, and I stumbled upon it again last night when I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

If God
Invited you to a party
And said,

‘Everyone
In the ballroom tonight
Will be my special
Guest…’

How would you then treat them
When you
Arrived?

Indeed, indeed!

And I know
There is no one in this world

Who
Is not upon
His Jeweled Dance
Floor

I love this poem for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I love the way Hafiz points out that we would treat people differently if we thought they were God’s specially chosen guest. I notice this when Amma comes to London. From the time that she arrives until the time that she leaves, I feel that everything happens with Grace, or in accordance with Life. If there’s traffic on the way to see her I think “Oh, this gives me an opportunity to see where I get stressed”, if someone’s rude to me I see it as a chance to to see how I react and what reacts.

I remember once going to get some food from a stall in the hall. I was umming and ahhing about what to get; curry, onion bhaji, super chocolately chocolate cake? I finally decided on the monster chocolate cake and went up to buy it, feeling like a bit of fatty. I asked for it, and the boy working behind the stool went “OOH! More?!” I just laughed and found it funny that this boy had reflected back to me pretty much what I’d been thinking about my somewhat piggy choice of dinner. Normally I’d have been super pissed off at the judgmental little dweeb commenting on my food choice, but because I felt that everything was happening as it should, I really didn’t mind.

However, I so often forget that something bigger than me is running the show. Suddenly people start to get on my nerves, I think a situation should be different from how it is, but most of all I think that little ol’ me is in control. If I could remember, or know that I’m just a guest at God’s Party and that everything that happens is merely part of it, I think I’d not only enjoy the party more, but be able to see the wisdom, lessons and opportunities to wake up that are provided by these divine party games.

And secondly, and this is what really inspired this post, when reading the poem again last night, I realised that not only is everyone invited to the party and is meant to be there, but so am I.

I think a lot of us, somewhere deep down feel unwelcome on Earth. But, if we can remember that we are 100% welcome, and invited to the party we call life, I think we’d find life a lot more enjoyable.

One of my ‘things’ is to think that I have to work really hard, be perfect and be super nice in order to justify my place on Earth. But reading this poem helped me to see (for now anyways!) that I’m completely welcome and invited to be here. Just as I am. In fact, you could say that my presence is required. I wasn’t invited by mistake, I didn’t sneak in, or blag my way onto the list as a plus one.

I should treat myself as a VIP who has nothing to hide, or change, or improve.

I am a special guest on his jewelled dance floor.

And so are you.

xx

Tell your comfort zone to sling its hook

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Hello, or should I say ‘hola’, little blog blog.

First of all, I’ve been shockingly rubbish at blogging or writing ANYTHING lately. I got to a point where I felt like what I was writing wasn’t very good, and I didn’t want to just blog shit for the sake of it. You know the saying, if you can’t say anything witty-funny-enlightening-and-deep, don’t say anything at all.

Before I start, I’d just like to tell y’all a bit of what I’ve been up to since I last blogged. Basically, I swapped the vibrancy and greyness of London for the heat and ‘arte’ of Seville. I’m now teaching English for a Government programme to Spanish University students.

Sounds snazzy, but in reality it involves hearing ‘people is’ and ‘I am agree’ about 100 times a day and trying wake tired people up. In the the 46 degree sevillano heat.

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Pleasantries done; let’s talk about comfort zones.

I’m starting to see how vital it is for human beings to expand their comfort zones, and to do something different, something new, something a bit out of the mould.

In my (pre-mentioned) job, I get to meet LOADS of people. We have 15 new students every week, which means that so far I’ve taught about 150 students in about 14 weeks. One of the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the difference going out of one’s comfort zone makes to a person.

The people I’ve met who have travelled, or worked, or who immigrated to Spain, or have an interesting hobby that they’re really into are infinitely more interesting than the ones who have only ever studied a degree that they don’t love but think it will get them a decent job, who’ve never worked, or lived abroad, or done anything differently to the lives their parents lived at their age.

I know for me as well that the time I’ve spent living in Spain has been really transformative and has forced me to grow up more than 3 years at University ever did. And I think it’s because it’s a bit difficult. A lot different and makes me rely on myself. Given that my Spanish ain’t that bien, everything I do here pushes me out of my comfort zone. Looking for a flat? Out of comfort zone. Asking for directions? Out of comfort zone. Even going shopping can end up resembling a game of articulate; ‘I’m looking for a thing, that you put on your skin if you have a cut…ah yes. Plasters!’.

I’m starting to think if you don’t push yourself you never move past the point when you stopped doing different things. If you’re living exactly the same life that you lived 10 years ago, chances are you haven’t developed since then. Again, looking at the students that I teach. Some of them are the same as me, 23 for your information, but live the same lives that they lived when they were 15, and thus seem like 15 year olds. They still live at home, in the same lil’ village, with the same friends, same places and have never had to cook for themselves or find their way in a new situation. And it shows.

Stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean moving countries. It could be trying a new sport, or learning a language, or travelling, or meeting new people. Anything that enriches your life and causes you to develop new skills.

I think it’s also important to not stop. If I stay in Seville for the next 10 years, carry on teaching English, live in the same flat, eat the same food, then I’ll be pretty much the same at 33 as I am now. I think it’s easy to make one big jump and then to think that’s it. I’ve made my changes, I don’t need to do anything else. Or we get overly attached to feeling settled and start to value that over new experiences.

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Of course what stepping out of your comfort zone looks like can change. For me it’s travelling, but even travelling can become routine. Maybe in 10 years time getting married and buying a house will push me out of comfort zone, whereas rocking up in a new city won’t. Comfort zones can get subtler and less obvious.

I think having the courage to step out of your comfort zone is vital not only for personal, but also spiritual development. I notice that quite often I work through an issue and feel great. For a while. But there always comes a point where it’s necessary to re-evaluate and take a leap into something new.

I think this is part of what gets people stuck in something bordering on religious dogma when it comes to spirituality. They reach a certain point, be it with regards to a yoga practice, meditation methods, diets, people, or a state, and think that’s it and never go any further.

Maybe they’re teachers who discover something, teach it, and then stop developing. Pretty soon something that was revolutionary becomes the norm and people start to ‘overtake’ them in terms of awakening.

Or, they get dogmatic about the way they live their life and what once pushed and challenged them now becomes their cage. I see this most often in people who discover that they have an ego, and then spend their time getting to go know their ego and issues. This can of course be very empowering and necessary. But unless you start letting go of your issues and conditioning what was useful, starts to become self indulgent. Rather than developing, you have exactly the same issues and the only difference is that you know them really well, and start to really believe in them. Which is not good!

Just to give an almost obligatory sporting analogy. The training that athlete does as a child, will push them. For the level they’re at. But they can’t expect to win gold (Olympics shout out!) if they continue to do the same training they did as a child. They have to increase the difficulty as soon as what they’re currently doing gets easy.

So, to finish. It’s super important to do step out of your comfort zone. To grow, to learn, to fall flat on your face and get back up. But don’t presume that what was once out of your comfort zone always will be. If life starts to feel a bit samey, or if you notice yourself feeling reluctant to do something new, if routine becomes your focus, it’s time to shake it up and step it up a notch.

Also, me and my lovely mumma, who is way more enlightened, interesting, funny and knowledgable that I could ever hope to be, are thinking about making videos about all aspects of spirituality and personal development, but with a super down to earth everyday language kind of vibe, and I was wondering if there was anything that you’d be particularly interested to hear about. So far I’m thinking of topics like ‘Conditioning’ focusing on what it is and what to do about how. Or ‘How to look at and let go of issues’. As well as specific topics on very common issues like ‘Shame’ and ‘Rejection’

If you have any ideas/requests let me know in the comments section or send me a message to jadedoherty@msn.com

Thanks!

Hasta luego!

Xxxxxx

Oh, so life just isn’t that personal?

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 I had a reading done by a Vedic Astrologer last week, and after the session I really started to wonder if anything in life, the life that I proudly call MINE, is personal? Am I making choices or am I merely walking down the path that I’ve always been destined to follow? Is it worth trying to change my ‘defects’ or should I just acknowledge that are meant to be there?

On the one hand I felt so reassured and comforted by what he said, but on the other hand it made me wonder ‘what’s the point?’. For example, he told me that I’m very prone to saying ‘yes’ to things. I think he said that I have a ‘yes gate’ which means that my first impulse when asked a question is to say ‘yes’ to it. This might sound like a really good, life embracing kind of thing. But as I experience it, I end agreeing to stay late at work/help people with essays/run errands/generally do things I don’t want to do.

The astrologer told me that what I need to do is to give myself time to make decisions, to say ‘let me think about it and I’ll get back to you’. At no point did he say this was a problem, that I should work on it, that I should try and do anything about it. It was so matter of fact, like a stylist saying ‘you have pale skin so this colour suits you more than that one’.

I now feel a bit stuck between working on issues, dissecting them and seeing through, and shrugging my shoulders, checking my chart and saying ‘ah yeah, look, it says here that this is what I’m like’.

Another strange aspect of the reading was being told things that I thought really personal choices, opinions and tastes, were actually written in the stars. I lived in Spain for about 6 months, in Seville and Madrid. I wasn’t a massive fan of Madrid, but loved Seville. Since being back in England, I can’t get Seville out of my head. I feel the city’s presence, like it‘s following me, and then disappears just when I turn around.

 

I thought that this was a really personal thing. That I liked my friends there, that I liked the food, I enjoyed being warm, the people were friendly and so on. Mais non. The astrologer did an astro-location reading, looking for the best places in the world for me to live and, yup you guessed it, Seville (along with Goa, whoowhoo!) is the best place for me to live. Something to do with my rising star being in Seville at the time I was born, meaning that I feel most like myself there.  So this affinity that I feel to Seville is less of a choice and more just an inevitable fact.

On and on he went with things that I thought were just ideas or personal preferences. This was both reassuring and disconcerting. I simultaneously felt a deep feeling of relief that I was on the right track and the feeling that ‘I’ wasn’t on a track at all, there was merely a dance unfolding that matched up to a certain time of birth or set of dance moves.

 The main thing that this reading showed me was to trust my instincts. I can’t say that I was told anything that I didn’t know, but having an objective observer spell it out in black and white made me feel more sure of what I felt. The point is, when something’s right for us, we know it. We feel it. We feel inexplicably pulled towards it. We feel the connection, or pulsation towards it first, and then we try and find logical reasons to justify and explain something that we can never know.

Our feelings are there to guide us. They come from a place beyond the mind, beyond logic, beyond clearly laid out arguments. They are the way that we find our way around. That feeling of ‘yes’ and forward movement that comes over us when something is for us, and that feeling of ‘no’ and contraction that we feel when something isn’t. This isn’t the same feeling as wanting something, or liking something. These impulses are not personal in the sense of belonging to someone, or being based on opinion or personality. They are the force that, if left to its own devices, would effortlessly guide and allow life to express itself in the way it wishes to. It takes practise to learn how to subtly read our feelings, but if we can listen to ourselves we don’t have to spend so much time and wasted effort  trying to mentally work everything out.

We all have an internal navigation system, we may as well use it.

Listening to the Silence

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A little while ago I was on a plane, listening to some music, and really wished that I had a track called ‘Silence’, which would just play Silence into my ears. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the sound of children’s laughter, but sometimes nothing sounds better than Silence.

In the Silence, I can hear myself. I can hear the bit that knows, but that gets drowned out by the bit that thinks. We have to be still and quiet to listen to that part of ourselves, and often it’s really difficult when we’re surrounded by noise, even if it’s enjoyable noise, all the time.

I’m the classic person who likes to play music all the time. Be it Beyonce or Krishna Das, Run the World (GIRLS!) or Om Namah Shivaya, I like to have music on. When walking, when pottering around, when getting dressed, even when showering. I love to cover up the infinite Silence with pretty sounds.

Sometimes this is great, losing yourself in music is amazing. But sometimes, I use it as a distraction. There’s something a bit intimidating about deep and expansive Silence. Yet, Silence is something that we all need.

In the Silence we can just be. We can relax. Thoughts can arise, and then disappear like figures on a screen. We can hear ourselves, we can hear what we want, what we need, what’s bothering us, what we’re moved to do.

Silence is the mother of sound. It’s always there, just underneath the noise. All sound arises from and then returns to Silence. When it’s too noisy, we feel that the Silence has been lost. But it’s always there. In the same way that the sky can be covered by clouds, Silence can be covered by noise, but none the less remains a constant presence.

We’re a lot like the sky. Can you imagine the sky thinking it’s a cloud? It sounds absurd that the huge, vast sky would believe itself to be a tiny, transitory cloud.  We are the sky, or the Silence that thinks it’s a cloud or some noise, forgetting that the cloud and noise exist within what we are.

Thoughts will come and go. Some are more persistent, or recognised than others. But they all arise within something far vaster and more real than they are. If we can stay with the Silence, or be the sky, then thoughts become clouds that just come and go.

We might not want them to be there, but we know that we are not them. And that makes it easier to address them. We know that we are not this thought, and therefore have lose nothing when we let go of it.

It has less charge, less pull. It becomes an occurrence, rather than we are. We perceive it, rather than identifying with it.

What we hear, and how we perceive Life, depends on where we put our attention. If we put our attention into the noise, of course that’s what we’ll hear. We’ll hear babies crying, alarms going off, people having animated conversations and the world will feel like a noisy and overwhelming place, full of thoughts and issues that all demand our immediate attention.

But if we can put, and keep, our attention in the Silence, then we can hear ourselves as we truly are. We can see Life arising and then returning. We can relax. We can be.

Living Softly

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‘Life is hard’, we are told. ‘I like to work hard, play hard’ we proudly declare. ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without hard work’ is something I’ve been told by everyone from teachers to postcards. But what’s so great about ‘hard’? What’s our obsession with the demanding, difficult, tiring nature of ‘hard’?

Life really shouldn’t be hard. Our bodies pretty much take care of themselves, we’ve got to help them out but they breathe, pump and regenerate without us having to tell them to do so.

The Earth is (or should I say was) a naturally abundant place. When you sit back and look at the majesty of the Earth it leaves you speechless. Sunsets, mountains, trees, seas, rainbows, blossom, breezes; the Earth can delight and tickle the senses like no other. If we just left the Earth to its own devices and stopped trying to impose our hard logic on its soft wildness, I’m pretty sure the Earth would take care of us too.

Even Spirituality doesn’t need to be done in a ‘hard’ way. My greatest desire is experience life with as few filters as possible. To move, laugh and cry spontaneously without judgment or expectation, and that can only happen by being soft and allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Being soft and gentle is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves. This doesn’t mean being wimpy and passive, there is definitely a strength that comes with softness, with vulnerability, with allowing yourself to open.

One of my favorite things ever is seeing men with babies. Nothing makes my knees melt and my ovaries jump like seeing a man lovingly holding his child. There’s a tenderness and truth that comes with this that I think is both irresistible and heartwarming. A gentle strength that is far more powerful than loud shouting or fighting.

It’s great testament to man’s ability to deceive and believe, that we think that life is, and should be, hard. If something is easy we don’t feel like we’ve achieved anything. If an opportunity just lands in our laps we think we don’t deserve it, or conversely that it’s not worth anything.

But as the Great Bear Baloo said, ‘you’re trying too hard’. There’s skill and effort involved with living an effortless life. I often work with children and was surprised to notice that I sometimes leave feeling that the day’s been too easy, or that I didn’t work hard enough. Then I realized I’d gotten better at working with kids, and therefore didn’t need to work hard, and that I could enjoy this ease rather than trying to find more ways to make my life hard.

When something is right for you, it’s easy. When it’s too hard, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at why. It’s not necessarily that it’s the wrong path or opportunity, but at least one piece in the puzzle is out of place.

I think that if we could change our expectation of life being hard and difficult to being soft and easy, we’d be so much happier. Difficulties would be an aberration that showed that we had an issue to look at, rather than the norm.

We’d live the lives that we truly want, not the lives that come with grinding our knuckles to the ground. We still might do a lot of work, but it wouldn’t be hard. A singer who loves singing and sings for 10 hours a day doesn’t feel like they’re working hard, they’re just doing what they love. For one who hates singing, 2 hours of singing is going to feel hard and difficult.

Let’s soften up, let’s let the strength, power and wisdom that comes with that softness have a chance to be in the driving seat. Because I don’t know about you, but working hard certainly isn’t getting me anywhere.

Honouring the Feminine…at a football match

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A Turkish football team played a football match in front of a crowd that was solely made up of women and children. All together now, awwww!

They were going to have to play the match with no fans after an incident last season where spectators stormed onto the pitch and caused a fight. But instead, they were able to give tickets away for free and let thousands of women enjoy the match.

Firstly, this is really cute and warms my heart. Little girls at a football match with their grandmas. Love it!

And secondly, it adds a whole different dimension to sport and cheering. We don’t really have a forum for men to express their emotions in, so it all comes out at football matches. Joy, sorrow, elation and despair can all pass through in the 90 minutes of a match.

Unfortunately, this emotion often ends up being expressed as hate and aggression. For those of you who haven’t been to a football match, the fans generally shout abuse at players of the opposite team, insulting the player, their family and often their race. Not cool, right?

Instead of boos and jeers, the women just cheered and enjoyed themselves. Both teams were applauded, they sang their team’s songs with a smile and must have created a really nice atmosphere to play in.

Imagine if this continued. Imagine if all aspects of society had a bit more femininity in them. If business wasn’t all about making loads of money, but creating companies that benefit the Earth, if politics was a bit softer and nurturing rather than being about world domination.

I think there’s an idea that femininity is all well and good at home but in the real world? Nah. It wouldn’t work.

When we talk about sexual equality in society it’s often in terms of numbers. How many female CEOs there are, how many women there are in Government and so on. But most of these women, in order to succeed in a masculine environment, have to be quite masculine. Of course they’re women, with wombs and the like, but they don’t get to act or feel like women.

Maybe, instead of talking about how many females their are in high ranking positions, we should talk about bringing a feminine approach to our institutions.

I think it’s really nice to see women supporting their football team in a feminine way. Doing what men do, but in a way that is more feminine, that’s softer. Women don’t have to leave their femininity at the gate and start swearing at the players, they can support in a different way.

Perhaps we could all learn a thing or two from the women of Fernabace FC. That of course men and women can do the same things, but that it’s likely that they’ll do them in a different way. That the tried and tested masculine way isn’t the only way.