You can never get away from where you’ve been.
We cannot change the past, we can only change the ways feel think and feel about the past. Most people have brutal, painful, and regrettable memories of their past. Events from the past have created who we are today, and events from the past will affect us today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and maybe until the day we die and beyond…..
Some of us may say that we are OK with the past, that things that happened in our childhood and adolescence do not haunt us at all. But beware, even if you are not aware of it, everything that you have experienced in the past; good, bad, terrible, traumatic, joyful, boring….. is affecting your sub-conscious today.
Nobody, up to and including you and me, is completely at peace with their past. We cannot, and should not, forget the past. Our past creates in us feelings of anxiety, bitterness, disappointment, doubt, guilt, fear, frustration, hurt, regret, rejection, sadness….. and most of us recall and remember the negatives from our past more than we focus on the positives.
Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. ~ Chuck Palahniuk
Some of us try to run away from our past; changing where we live, drifting from one relationship to another, changing jobs, drinking too much, taking drugs, attempting suicide, and metaphorically running away to join the circus. But none of that running away ever works, for wherever we go we take the past with us. (Even if a suicide attempt fails it will most likely do irreparable damage to the body, mind, and spirit.)
For some of us it’s even worse, because we are also affected by the past of someone who is very close to us, and emotions created by someone else’s past are incredibly difficult to deal with. This is doubly so if our ‘friend’ hasn’t themselves fully come to terms with their own past.
To be cool with the past we must first be motivated to deal with the past. We need to understand what really happened in the past, not just some biased half-memories that we use to fuel our negative emotions today. Try to find out what really happened in the past. Be willing to talk about and fully explore issues from the past. Stop pretending that everything from the past is fine, when most likely it isn’t. Acknowledge your true feelings, whether they be loss, hurt, shame, anger…..
You can accept or reject the way you are treated by other people, but until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. ~ Iyanla Vazant.
Depending how deeply the past affects us, we may need help to come to terms with what happened, how it affected us, and who we are today because of the past. Speaking to family and friends may help, you may need to see your doctor or a therapist, you may talk with your priest or spiritual adviser, you may need something like hypnosis, or you may just need to really meditate, read inspirational books, listen to motivational lectures, or just go for a long walk in the sunshine.
With any luck we may find out that the past is better than we feared. But, no matter if the past is better or worse than we think we remember, we cannot move on from something we don’t understand and we refuse to accept.
That’s the past for you. Not only does it come back at the most unexpected and inconvenient times, but it’s set in stone. ~ Jeffery Deaver.
There may well be things from the past that need resolution. This might be very difficult, but the longest journey starts with the first baby-step. Be honest. Be self-aware. Be kind with yourself. Seek to understand yourself. Be kind and understanding towards others. And, give yourself time to heal.
A ship does not sail with yesterday’s wind. ~ Louis L’Amour
Some say that we can become cool with the past by keeping a positive outlook and a strong determination to succeed in finding joy instead of negative emotions. And, that the past only exists in our memories and imagination. All I know is that the past isn’t actually here.
If what you’re doing isn’t working,
then do something else instead.
True realism is a willingness to reveal and accept the truth.
Scientific studies, and my own bitter experiences, have shown me that one of the character traits necessary for a man / person to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong, stable, and resilient is Realism.
Being too pessimistic is depressing, being too optimistic means that you are easily disappointed and crushed, and being too idealistic is to search for unrealistic perfection. Being realistic means that you accept the reality of the world as it is, rather than as you imagine it to be.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects the wind to change; the realist adjusts the sails. ~ William Arthur Ward.
It seems that being realistic tends to mean that you’re also deep, grounded, mindful, compassionate, able to deal with adversity, are not easily disappointed, and recover quickly from whatever shit the world throws your way.
To be realistic is to be self-aware and be fully cognisant of your own wants, needs, desires, and dreams. Being fully self-aware means that you do not easily fall prey to self-deceit ~ you don’t much lie to yourself, nor to others.
Realistic people also have good situational awareness, they are grounded in the truth of any given situation, seeing things for what they actually are, rather than they would wish them to be. They have a solid sense of time and place. They read people easily, and they are not reliant on a specific other person for their happiness. Most people don’t have your happiness at the top of their agenda.
It is a healthy approach not to expect persons to turn out precisely how you would have wished. ~ Criss Jami
There are 3.2 billion women in the world, so why should a realistic guy tie their happiness to just one particular uncaring and unavailable woman ~ no matter what.
One key feature of a realistic person is that they will always have some sort of written plan / plans in place to achieve their wants, needs, desires, and dreams. Realists know that unless they do something then nothing happens. To live life you first have to show up. Realists make the very most of any opportunity that comes their way. Realists take action to make things happen, they do not wait for things to happen to them. Realists tend to devote enough time and effort to whatever task lies in front of them.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ~ Abraham Lincoln.
A realist will also have more free will than any other type of person. This is because they are prepared to say ‘No’. Every time you blindly agree with other people means that you have taken away your own free will.
Realists have a particular type of personality ~ they are physical, sceptical, jealous of their own time and space, independent, practical, clear-headed, good in an emergency, objective, non-judgmental, taciturn, and easy going.
But you don’t have to possess all of those character traits to be a realist ~ perhaps they are attributes we should aspire to.
Some say that a realist believes that some things are worth fighting for. And, that a realist will have a flexible plan for winning their battles. All I know is that to be a realist means showing up for the fight ~ it means showing up for Life.
Practical Realism 1.01 ~ First Know Yourself.
remember you’re supposed to be draining the swamp, not fighting with the alligators
Luck is great, but most of Life is hard work.
The hard truth is that we make our own luck. If you want to be lucky enough to witness a brilliant sunrise, then you have to get yourself out of bed before dawn. If you want to be lucky enough live your life’s dreams you must first know what you want and then do something to get it. If you want to really live Life, then show up.
I want a better life, I need to be a better man, I want to live my dreams. A few short weeks ago I was in the depths of Hell. Walking the hard road up from yet another rock bottom, these are a Magnificent Seven Truths I have been shown. These things have helped me find my luck, perhaps they may help you too.
- Self-Awareness. Know yourself. Be congruent and grounded in your own truth. Know that you are unique and that you have unique skills and abilities. Understand your own power.
- Know where you want to go. Chart your course. Dream your dreams. Discover what you really need, want, and desire. Create a vision board, or mind map, or just make a list. If you don’t know what you want, then Be Brave. Stop asking others what you should do, and don’t do anything that others may want you to do if it doesn’t match your own truth. Change I should to I want.
- Do Something. Take some action. Get off your ass and do something to realise your wants, needs, desires, and dreams, even if it’s just making a plan, or writing a daily journal. ~ just don’t do things that you don’t need to do. Change should to could. If you can get others to do things for you then use their unique skills and talents. Let the Cosmos work for you too.
- Leverage the Magic. Use your dreams, thoughts, words, and deeds. Have the best attitude you possibly can. Nobody likes an impatient, driven, aggressive, competitive, egotistical, unforgiving and manipulative jerk.
- Believe in yourself. Be more congruent. Make certain that your inner beliefs match your needs, wants, desires, and dreams. If you don’t believe then you can’t achieve. If you don’t believe then you certainly will have no luck at all.
- Engage the Magic. Make a start on living your dreams. Do something positive, even if it’s just a very small thing. The greatest journey starts with that first baby step.
- Be adaptable. After you have taken some action, look at what happened. If what you did didn’t get you what you want, then do something else instead. If you do what you always did, then you will get what you always got. A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Scientifically, and mathematically there is no such thing as luck. So, if you want to be lucky in life, if you want to take advantage of random chances, if you want the good things to come to you, then work at living your dreams.
The harder I practice, the luckier I get. ~ Gary Player
Here’s the thing, should I want to, I can win money playing cards. That isn’t because I’m lucky, it’s because I’ve studied Hoyle, probability theory, and statistics, I can work out odds in my head, and I’m a natural card-counter. Some say that’s cheating, it certainly isn’t luck.
Try to stay focused. Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t get drawn into fighting the alligators when you really want to be draining the swamp.
Some say that life’s hard and nothing ever goes right for them. And, that they never have any luck, their whole life is a train wreck. All I know is that the harder and smarter I try, the luckier I get.
The road goes anywhere and everywhere you want, but you have to get out there and be prepared to enjoy the journey.
Create your own luck, and then ride it hard.
To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
In this modern world most of us are driven by results, we do things in order to achieve a desired outcome. In this modern world hardly anyone enjoys the journey, what most people want is to get to their destination as quickly as possible. And yet, psychologists know that what our mind and spirit seek most are experiences, and not results.
In my working life I was extremely results oriented, I always had innumerable written plans to ensure that each of my projects produced a specific outcome, with specific deliverables, on specific future dates.
Consequently I was always in a hurry, impatient, driven, aggressive, competitive, egotistical, and unforgiving. To a certain extent these character traits are useful in business, but I also carried these characteristics into my personal life. That may be natural, unavoidable, but it certainly isn’t useful, and it certainly wasn’t the true me.
Aggression only moves in one direction ~ it creates more aggression. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley
Nobody sane wants a good friend or partner who is always in a hurry, impatient, driven, aggressive, competitive, egotistical, and unforgiving. Oh, and I was also very manipulative…..
Because of my conflicted and driven life I was continually unhappy, and continually ill. I was also continually afraid of failure. My life was mostly joyless.
I no longer believe that it’s the outcome that matters most to our mind and spirit. What I believe is that it’s experiences that matter most to us, and not the eventual deliverables. In other words it’s the journey, and not the destination which teaches us the most. Like all things in Life this is probably not a yes / no, black / white, male / female thing.
The yin and the yang are opposite forces. Yet, they exist together in the harmony of a perfect orb. ~ R. A. Wise
I have come to believe that somewhere in between the yes and the no lies a place where either, none, and both exist simultaneously. I have come to believe that the past, present, and future exist simultaneously. And, I have come to believe that it is the journeys that really matter to our body, mind, and spirit ~ not the destinations.
In other words it’s how we live each moment that matters most, not what we eventually achieve.
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things. ~ Robert Breault
Some say that life is somewhere between an experiment and an adventure. And, that if you follow all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun. All I know is that nothing is more important than this day, this hour, this minute…
The sun may not always shine, so enjoy it while you can.
Only I can change my life ~ no one can do it for me.
Life is about change. Without change, without variety, without some stress in Life, all will stultify and diminish. Without change there can be no growth, and without growth and development all things will wither away and die.
I will not meddle with that which I cannot mend. ~ Thomas Fuller
But, as the Serenity prayer tells us, there are some things that we cannot change, some things that have to be accepted, and the wise learn to know the difference. I can think of a myriad of people, places, and things I cannot change. In reality no one can change another person, unless that other absolutely wants to change. This is why it is mostly pointless trying to talk to most addicts in an effort to make them change their ways. This is why many relationships, and many marriages, end in failure and recriminations. This is why there are wars.
A while ago I resolved to stop trying to change others and instead decided to work on myself to become a better person. That is now my lifetime’s project, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes I make progress, and sometimes I go backwards a couple of steps or more ~ it’s like a man walking into a gale, sometimes he wins and sometimes the storm wins. In the last few days I think the wind won more than I did. In the last few days I went with the wind and my negative emotions, and that meant I really staggered in the wrong direction. In other words I totally fucked-up, again. For me, going with the flow is usually the wrong choice.
Life will do it’s best to deceive you. You may get knocked down, but you must always get up again. The mark of a really great boxer is not that he never gets knocked down. A really great boxer can get knocked down, but he will always get up again. And that’s up to and including Mohammed Ali in his all prime and pomp.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’ ~ Thomas Edison
The English language is filled with wise sayings, allegories, parables, and proverbs. As you would expect a lot are by Churchill; ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often…’ Then from Scotland we have the allegory of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which gave us the saying; ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…’ But we also have almost the converse of that saying…
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein.
The Goddess knows I have been there often enough ~ every time I took a drink I expected it to be different from the last time, and it never was. But, somehow I usually got away with it.
Back in my illustrious career in banking I once went into a meeting on Madison Avenue with no ideas and nothing but blank pieces of paper in my briefcase. I had got good and drunk in the Plaza the night before, so I both looked and felt far from my very my best. But I stood up in front of the board of the world’s biggest advertising agency and tried just one more time. I told them not what they wanted to hear, but what I wanted to make happen. It worked. The thing is I didn’t give up, and I didn’t try to change anything except myself.
After that almost debacle I resolved to make a big change by giving up banking for good. It was the wrong change ~ I should have given up booze for good. Back then I didn’t have enough serenity within me to even think about being sober for life.
Right now, today, all I try to do is be the best Jack Collier I can be, sober. That is difficult enough for anyone. I realise that life is difficult and painful. I know that the causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, lusts, and the blaming others for my faults. I now know that I can’t change others and I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change what I do, and how I react to people places, and events.
I know that the warrior’s road to freedom from continual distress, pain, and suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, spirit… and that’s a hard road to walk in honour, honesty, and truth. I try to always walk that road, and often I fail. But, at least I try, and perhaps not one in ten men even do that.
The world and the sky is ours if we want it enough.
Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.
Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think. When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’. In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual. Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.
It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga. Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress. And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength. All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit. Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.
Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult. Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration. Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.
Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity. Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk. I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner. Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm. Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga. Who knew?
So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.
The Tree. This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core. Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness. Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus. The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.
Downward Facing Dog. Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that. This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest. It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings. For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.
The Bridge. This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex. The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen. This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told. When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.
The Plank. I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength. Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude. There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes. The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands. Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.
The Warrior. This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t. The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body. For me it also works the arms and shoulders. More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly. Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing. The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.
Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff. I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day. And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.
However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you. There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes. (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me). Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women. Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.
Through meditation the higher self is experienced.
True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance. You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.
You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body. ~ Juvenal
To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being. Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit. I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.
When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members. Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you. ~ Steve Maraboli.
One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day. Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.
When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’. But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd. These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’. With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man. To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day. We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.
If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku. This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness. Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.
However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and ever-changing sky. Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness. The clouds fire my imagination. The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.
Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities. I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people. Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself. Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.
The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good. Empty your mind of all immediate concerns. But most of all, walk.
Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so. Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out. Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health. Never settle for less. ~ Edmond Mbiaka.
Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy. Walking does little for strength and mobility. For that I practice yoga. I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me. Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit. Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit. If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.
We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.
I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.
Life is Difficult and Painful.
This is a great truth, the first of the Four Noble Truths.
Most people cannot, or will not, accept that this life is a vale of tears, and will often seek to escape from themselves and their pain into drugs, booze, sex, junk food, gambling, religion, mental illness… However, there is no real escape from suffering other than unconditional acceptance of one’s own true identity and the realisation that we cannot change what happens to us, we can only change how we react to events and what we ourselves do. But, what we do will, in some way, change what happens to us.
With acceptance comes change. ~ Jaco Snoek
Yet, even in this deterministic universe there is no real cause and effect, at least none within ordinary human understanding. Ordinary human understanding tells us that a chicken is just an egg’s way of creating another egg ~ this idiotic theory is perfectly in agreement with the Principle of Causality. So which is wrong, our idiotic theory or the principle of causality? It doesn’t matter, it’s just semantics, and words are poor tools with which to describe infinity. Anyway, the cosmos doesn’t care either way.
Sadly, very early in life we learn to have expectations of reward for our actions, and this is what motivates most of what most people do most of the time ~ this is called the Expectancy Theory, and it’s fundamentally flawed in the same way that the eternal law of cause and effect is flawed. There is no Divine Omniscient Consciousness to ensure that the law of cause and effect always applies.
If you do something good, you may not get a good result. If someone does something bad or evil, they may not get a bad or evil result. It is not always possible to determine in advance the end results of our actions. And, no matter what we do there are some things we cannot change. For example, by your actions alone you cannot change another person, most certainly you cannot make someone love you.
So, what’s worse than knowing you want something, other than knowing you can never have it. ~ James Patterson
No matter how good and competent you are, you may suddenly find yourself up to your eyebrows in deep shit, and there may be nobody to blame. Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes there is nobody to blame, and sometimes there is nobody to thank. This is part of chaos theory.
Mankind has as much difficulty in accepting chaos ~ the disorder, confusion, and unpredictability of life ~ as a man has with unconditionally accepting himself. The sun rises, therefore there must be a Sun God. The Nile floods, there must be a Nile God. Some women are beautiful and loving, there must be a Goddess of Love. Man created Gods and Goddesses to escape from, and make sense of, the pain, disorder, confusion, and unpredictability that surrounds us.
The path to freedom from pain and suffering lies not in trying to escape into drugs, booze, sex, or whatever. The Warrior’s Path to enlightenment is through acceptance of oneself and simple self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.
There is an ultimate truth for each of us, and it is this; we are who we are, and the only thing we can change is ourselves in order to reach our absolute and fullest potential.
If you cannot, or will not, open yourself to unconditional acceptance of who you are, and become willing to change and grow, then the only person who will really go on suffering is you. The Cosmos doesn’t really care one way or another.