Inner work

Routine and discipline

I believe feeling good about life centres on building your spiritual foundation and therefore routine and discipline are essential to the spiritual path. The practices, the routine and the discipline keep you in your spiritual connection. This is something I’ve really struggled and fought hard with my ego about so I thought I would share in the hope that it helps you.

How important is routine and discipline in the spiritual journey?

I’ve always thought of myself as a free spirit and so the idea of routine and discipline has always made me writhe with agony. I’ve been on quite a journey with this whole thing and so I thought I would share what I’ve learnt because I know it’s something that a lot of my clients and students struggle with.

I’ve never liked the idea of routine. Just the thought of it has always made me feel confined and restricted. It’s really interesting how our perception of who we think we are really influences how we feel about certain ideas. I was fixated on the idea of being a free spirit. I love that every day is different and I have no idea where the wind will take me. I don’t like to be tied down to one particular thing. I like to do things spontaneously as the mood takes me.

For a long time, I believed that I wasn’t capable of routine, structure, planning and organisation because these things were contrary to who I thought I was. My belief was that all this would restrict and confine me or that somehow I would be less free and more boring. These were things that I told myself in order to avoid implementing routine. I didn’t understand fully what routine and discipline meant.

When I unpicked this for myself, I discovered that I have a deep rooted fear of commitment. I was reluctant to put my energy fully in to being here and doing this. So I did (and still do sometimes) everything I could possibly think of to avoid it. That’s great but there’s a great deal of procrastination that comes hand in hand with being a free spirit. And after a certain amount of procrastination, the guilt and the negative chatter all become too much. So I was pretty much in this cycle for years before I broke out of it.

I wasn’t lacking in anything except commitment and so I decided to try out this whole structure thing to see what it was all about. I always need to experience the benefits before I commit to anything. I’m difficult to sell the idea to so I thought I’d do a try before I buy in to it and it was one of the best things that I did.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that the foundations were sort of already there. My daily prayers, my daily meditation and my journalling were all part of the structure but I was taking quite a relaxed attitude so things would slip. Much like a magpie, I would get distracted and go off following what looked shiny. I think I’d grown in to a nice little comfort zone. I liked the idea of no pressure…just be easy…take it as it comes. There was never any urgency with anything because there was no commitment.

The way I was looking at things needed to change. What I found that within everything there is flexibility so although I was doing all these things, they were just haphazardly thrown in when I could fit them in. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I was actually making an effort to do them but the root of the issue was my lack of commitment and this is what I needed to address.

When you unpick your belief system, you realise that you have learnt a lot of your behaviours based on your previous experiences. As someone who was used to things going wrong or falling flat on my arse, I had no great expectations of myself. This itself was in line with the idea that nobody else had any great expectations of me either. It wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if I gave up or failed or moved on to the next thing. This made it easy for me to avoid committing to things.

The biggest realisation was that it wasn’t so much that I wasn’t committed to the structure and discipline. I didn’t have the commitment to myself and when I realised that it made me feel really sad.

There comes a time when you have to ask yourself what you really want for yourself. Honestly, who do you really want to be? When I was really honest, I realised that I craved organisation. I craved focus and I really wanted the sense of accomplishment and achievement that comes with seeing something through from start to finish.

It’s pretty simple though when you break it down. If you really want something, then you work hard for it. You keep going. Even when you fail or get knocked back, you get up and you keep going. Even when you’re tired and your eyes are closing, you keep trying to remember what you want and why and then you keep trying.

When you are tired and fed up, rest and keep going. Do not quit. And so I set about trying to organise myself better. I wrote down all the things I do to keep me well that I would like to keep as my foundation. I then made some firm decisions about when I would do these things.

The hardest thing was sticking to the timings, especially in the morning but as time went on, this became easier. It’s true what they say about making things a habit and I realised that I had got in to some bad habits. One of which was saying to myself, “I’ll do it later” or “Meh doesn’t matter.” I probably wouldn’t have done it later and actually yes it does matter. It matters because I matter and what I want matters. All the while, I had to keep remembering this.

I had to really push to have the routine I have today. Instilling discipline for yourself is pretty tough when you’re on your own with nobody to motivate you. Everything is possible though and although it feels like you’re being tough on yourself when you push yourself, it’s all worth it.

My foundation is my daily prayers and readings, my meditation time and my journalling and reflection. The structure that I thought would limit me actually helps my day to flow much better. It allows me to plan more in and actually, what I found was that there was more time or at a least a feeling of more time that was created by having the discipline.

I think it’s a lot to do with building in the things that keep you well. My energy tends to fluctuate a lot from day to day and one of the biggest benefits of having structure and routine is that when I’m bouncing all over the place, I’m able to slow down and contain the energy. I also find that when I am drained, the structure helps me to keep going and start filling my energy again.

The thing that helped me most was taking it one day at a time and actually building in one new habit at a time. I’m still a work in progress and there’s lots more I would like to add in to my routine. The important thing is to give each habit time to bed in before you start on with the next thing.

Slowly but surely, you’ll get there. If I can do it, anyone can!

Healing

Choosing beliefs that resonate with you

I started this spiritual journey a long time ago and over the years I’ve fallen in and out of resonance with all the different teachings that I’ve come across and I’ve been across the board from the Traditional Eastern idea of Enlightenment to the Western concept of Ascension. Merging with these ideas are the spiritual philosophies of different religions and structured ways of approaching spirituality and faith. I’ve always had firm roots in the Sufi teachings and I’ve always stayed firm in those roots but I also love exploring what other philosophies and teachings have to offer. We are, after all, part of One Source of Love.

I still can’t say that any one approach was totally right or wrong and I personally believe that you have to decide for yourself what resonates with you. In order to do that, learn, read, speak to people and at the same time, question and challenge and really tune in to how these beliefs and ideas sit within your own heart.

When I first started writing this piece, I was at a really interesting point in my journey where all the stuff that I used to be influenced by just wasn’t resonating with me in the same way. I was really starting to find out what I wholeheartedly believed in.

It challenged me to go deeper in search of my own truths. I’ve never been one to simply accept something just for the sake of it. I think it’s important to question and challenge because that is the way in which we begin to really understand what we are about as human beings. It’s a way of constructing and deconstructing your identity and testing out what holds true in your heart.

Remember that we are free to believe in what we choose to believe in. For those of us who have grown up in a structured faith or religion, often the idea of challenging what we have been taught brings with it a great deal of anxiety. I don’t believe that God punishes us for asking questions. In fact, I believe that asking questions is the way to affirm our own truth. For me, it needs to make sense when I’m doing something otherwise there’s no meaning behind the action, and certainly no love.

Resonance is essential because after all, where we take influence from others, we are allowing ourselves to be taught by them. With everything we learn, it has an influence on what we believe. What we believe deeply influences who we are, what we do and who we become. The person you become and how you carry yourself will ultimately influence how you discover and deliver your purpose. It’s deep stuff but definitely worth thinking about.

Resonance is so important and I know for most teachers it is the same. The people that are attracted to my work will be the ones that resonate with my message. You will choose your teacher because they speak your language. You may not agree with all of what they say and I always tell my students upfront that they’re certainly not obliged to either. As teachers, we accept that loyalty is not a given and that resonance is preferred as then we are working for the highest benefit of all. Respecting free thought and free will is part of being a good teacher. I love the questions students have and delving in to the answers is a way of exploring, challenging and affirming what I believe to be true.

Always choose what feels right for you. Even if that means you’re making a massive U-Turn on what you thought to be your beliefs. It’s often the ego that tells us that we can’t do this but there is no wrong or right. Belief systems are complicated and actually in order to simplify things, sometimes it’s better not to call yourself one thing or another. It’s better not to have any title and if you are to choose a title, let it be one that you can wholeheartedly commit to. These labels become part of our identity. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing and it all depends on whether you are looking for an identity or a way to be defined. Often it can be a hindrance because society dictates that we must share whatever this label is but for me, it’s in my heart. I share my beliefs, my manners, my character and allow that to show for itself. I don’t need to broadcast anything if I’m living in accordance with what I believe to be true. Ultimately, that’s nobody’s business but my own.

There is so much value in exploration. You don’t have to be a big reader or study anything in particular. I’m talking about that real one on one human connection and interaction. I’m talking about those deep and meaningful conversations. I’m talking about connecting with a complete stranger and seeing them as part of yourself. I’m talking about sharing about yourself without being afraid of being judge. They say that you can only meet others as deeply as you have met yourself. So meet yourself first.

Sharing allows us to put in to practise hearing what we believe to be true. It’s often this that helps us to understand what resonates and what doesn’t. It’s always good to have the goal of committing to the ideas you stand by. And we can only do this by sharing and affirming what we believe. If more people were willing to be open to this, I believe the world would be so different because this openness and sharing is love and acceptance.

At the core of my belief system is love. And I believe that if we can define what love is and does, we are part way there. If love was a person, what would be her traits and qualities? What would her manners and character be like? Essentially what we realise when we define ourselves in relation to what love would do is that love and goodness is what will resonate. And if this is the core of your belief system, you can’t go wrong. Life is such though that the test is in being prepared to live by these values regardless of the circumstances. Although it’s difficult, I believe we all have the strength to follow through and practice being love.

After all, our roots are Love. We were created by a source of Love. We came here to love. And we are loved. The trick of life is learning to open your eyes to it in places where you feel it doesn’t exist and can’t be seen. This is what opens the heart up to something more, something deeper and this is the yearning and the longing for it that pushes us to explore different ways of seeing and experiencing love.

In this magical, amazing world…even in the darkness…somewhere there is love…you just need to keep digging to find it.

 

Healing

I’m back…well…sort of…

I know I’ve been away a really long time and I’ve not really posted on this blog or any of my other social media platforms for a long, long time but I thought I would come back and hopefully this time come back stronger!

What can I say other than the world changed a lot in the space of a year. Priorities changed too. I’ve not really felt inspired to write for the last year or so for a number of reasons, both personal and professional.

Those of you that know me know that I tend to just let stuff go until I’m ready to come back to it and so that’s what I’ve done.

I’m trying to figure out what happened and the simple answer is that it got real. Well I got real with myself. It’s funny because writing is the one thing other that my work that I love most in the world. It’s where I feel free to just be myself and express creatively, factually, directly, honestly…all the things that make me “ME” come out in my writing.

I was literally writing for 8 hours a week to produce content for my social media. I had a structure and a discipline around it. I did courses to help me with it and I loved it but then I stopped. Mostly due to my own curiosity to see what would happen. Covid had hit and things were dead anyway so I could either push hard online to make a living or recklessly close my eyes and trust my belief that my rizq (Earnings/wealth/sustenance) come from above. So the first thing I dropped was social media.

I’m not going to lie…the amount of time I had on my hands was amazing. I was at the allotment digging instead and bloody having the time of my life. I realised that everything in this society is about consume consume consume and it’s the same with content. I got to a point where I had to convince myself that what I was putting out there had value. I’m not knocking it because everything I produce shows you what I’m about and I know there’s people that have read what I’ve written and got in touch.

The amount of pressure I put on myself to churn out content was immense and in the beginning, taking a break was such a relief. Then I started looking around and I thought what have I become. Running a business via social media means continuously putting yourself on show to the world. At the time, it was ok because it was the right thing to pursue and direct my energy in to. And then it just became a chore. There were times where I just wasn’t feeling it but “show up for your audience” was my belief so I put my all in and did it anyway.

Then it hit me. I’m showing up for this audience but I’m not being authentic. I’m not loving this bit of what I do. I can’t stand my face and cheesy grin plastered across everything for the world to see. For the sake of my business, I’d become something else in the pursuit of showing people what my work was all about…I was prepared to make myself uncomfortable and push my limits. I proved to myself that I could do that if I wanted to but I also recognised that I didn’t like that so I stopped. And it worked out just fine to be honest.

There’s a common myth that once you stop promoting yourself on social media, your business will go down the drain. On the contrary, it made me realise that my client base, the networks, the referrals and connections were genuine and solid. Unlike social media, ironically. Now I know a lot of people say that they build genuine links on these platforms. I’m not knocking that but I love human interaction. I love to feel the discomfort when someone isn’t being genuine. So much is masked online and everything is about the brand values and message.

I got fed up of putting myself in a box and so I just packed it in and it’s been over a year. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to it if I’m completely honest. I just don’t see a need for it personally. I’m a mystery…a private person and social media is contradiction for me. I think the way I feel about it all is quite common but I just like to say how I feel and put it out there.

It got me thinking though about this whole strange bloody world we live in where we’re so open to being moulded and shaped and will do anything to be successful. I’m not knocking that. I just think there’s better ways to do that.

So as always with me, I’m feeling a return to writing and being authentically me. You won’t find any of this on social media. This is where I’ll be because this is where my voice is the loudest and most heartfelt.

It’s been a crazy year with lots of life lessons, a great deal of change both personally and professionally and it’s time to get to grips with sharing some of that with you. There’s so much of it that I don’t know where to start if I’m honest but I’ll figure it out. You don’t know where it’s heading until you get started and so let’s see where it goes.