LIGHTHOUSE IN A STORM: Call back your power in challenging times

lighthouse3“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ― Viktor.E. Frankl

Sometimes the news media can be overwhelming. And when we hear about certain events, it seems there is little we can do, which can make us feel powerless. But these situations bring blessings in disguise – because they force us to instead go within and discover the source of our real power to make changes – the power within.

We are always guided from within. Behind the static-in-the-radio of thoughts, is accurate guidance. This is our intuitive sense; our gut feeling that knows just what to do at all times: where to go, what to do, what not to do. And it’s 100% reliable.  Just as the sun always shines behind the clouds, guidance always guides us behind the clouds of overthinking. All the time it communicates, through the language of instinct and intuition, this “birds eye view” which knows how to get us where we need to be, in the perfect time.

So many people have made the mind-chatter of thoughts their guide – and the mind-chatter is useless as a guide. So the important question is – how do I sync up with the guidance within?

Search without: Information overload

In this era of information overload, which information do we trust? Reading and re-reading the news, or social media, or comment pieces, or any one of the other billion or so articles of opinion rarely leads us to clarity – but instead deeper into fear and the complex maze of overthinking that goes along with it, where our sense of empowerment is clouded and we are cut off from hearing our inner knowing; the most important source of information we have.

Listen within: Meditation

You sync up with your inner knowing by focusing in a way that clears your mind. When the clouds of mind-chatter are cleared, guidance is revealed.

Meditation is a proven way to clear our mind of mind-chatter – and gets us in touch with the wisdom of our Real Self. When we listen within, we connect with our guidance which knows what to do. I recommend spending time each day in meditation – whatever your method is – giving you space to be attuned to this source of accurate information.

Meditation is simply finding a point of focus that doesn’t get you to go into thinking. It could be using a mantra over and over again (and preferably one in a another language, as words you don’t understand won’t activate thoughts). It could be focusing on your breath, in and out. Or a consistent sound. It doesn’t really matter what it is – just something that works for you by holding your attention and stopping you from going into the clouds of overthinking.

What to do to align with the times: Time for action

Many people on the spiritual path have heard all about spiritual theory in countless books or YouTube videos, trying to make meaning of it all; trying to work out about all the different laws of the Universe, and the dimensions, and how it all works. They’ve thought about spiritual concepts a lot. But this is about as useful as watching fitness DVDs and doing nothing else in an attempt to change your body. It may be the first step and it may be entertaining – but it’s not enough. Action is required. You want to find your “gym programme” and then do it – not just think about it; you want to find the practices that get you connected with the power within – and then do them. 

Focus on what makes you feel good

And if the news is scaring you and affecting your view of life – turn it off. Don’t use the excuse so many use, “I need to know what’s going on”. I used to work in a newsroom and trust me – it isn’t what’s going on, but a perception of what’s going on. Watch or read if you want to, or if you feel guided – but ask yourself “How is it making me feel?”. If engaging with it is not making you feel good and not getting you to love this amazing life – you may want to find a different activity to take part in – one which makes you feel better. And you feeling better is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, others and Life in general.

My essential guidebook LIGHTHOUSE: Navigate the emotional storms of life and discover the power within you is available through my website www.michaeljames.be/books

Feel like you’re missing out?

lightsThe grass is not greener: Why you’re not missing out in life

There’s this idea that we’re always “missing out” in life. That we always want to be somewhere else with someone else or even be someone else. I know I was like that- I ruined countless moments of a perfectly good life by wishing things could be different, totally oblivious to the fact that my life was more than good enough already, if only I’d taken the time to notice.

This is especially true nowadays – where certain social media sites offer us ways of trying to convince the world that we are good enough by posting well-lit and well-angled photos of us looking happy and attractive in the hope that everyone will see us as “perfect”. It can be competitive-  and it contributes more to stress than happiness.

Even when you are into the Law of Attraction or modern-day spirituality, you can continue this quest to be better, always looking for something else to “manifest” so that you can be happy one day. But that day never comes. If you can’t find happiness from right where you are, why do you think you will be able to do it in the future?

I learnt this in my own life:

In my early twenties when I worked in television, I freelanced on a particular job that got me into all the “in” events in London. Private celebrity parties with expensive champagne, VIP areas and private penthouses. I worked in high profile areas of news, politics and entertainment, mixing with a lot of well-known people. Was it good? Not really, because I wasn’t a happy person. I was “living the dream” but nothing had changed except I had even more things to worry about, including picking up some new addictions. Socialising in places where everyone was craving pleasure on the outside was not a pleasant place to be and even in my brief period in this lifestyle, I found myself seeking solace in drugs and alcohol. I had “manifested” my ideal life- except it wasn’t my ideal life. And I never met anyone whose ideal life it actually was.

I would see them across the pages of the tabloids. Their lives would look amazing, exciting, fantastic. They would look happy in the snapshots. It all looked so aspirational and what dreams are made of. Except I had been out on these nights and they were nothing like the newspapers had hyped them up to be. The club scene I found was repetitive and more about war than love; more about people winning and using other people-  though I continued going along, why? Because it was what everyone was doing.

I would say most of the celebrities I met who lived this kind of partying lifestyle were miserable, neurotic, stressed out and desperate to find connection. I became like that myself. And many of them used addiction to try to fill the gap and find inner peace. Of course that didn’t work. I was fortunate due to past experiences of addiction to not get too deep into it, but I saw a lot of people totally lost to it all.

I have nothing against anything people choose to do- and we find our own path, at the perfect time for us. I am certainly not trying to suggest there are ‘wrong’ choices, but even working within the media it was too easy to fall under the media’s illusions that your life is not enough and all the fun is happening elsewhere to everyone else. It’s depressing to be reading some of these stories, feeling not good enough. It’s also depressing when you “get there” and realise there’s nothing there either. It was a trick all along, like the Wizard of Oz.

What you want is right here

What everyone really wants is to feel connected; to feel great about themselves and life. That is why everyone has goals, in the hope that the new car or house or achievements will bring them this feeling. There are so many things that promise to give us that – be it drugs, celebrity, another job or a change of relationships. But it is just illusion; like tin foil to our magpie-like lower mind. Once you get it you realise it’s not enough. It’s never enough. Without a happy and clear minded mindset all the stuff in the world will not fill the void.

What you want is as likely to happen now as ever: It’s a shift in perception.What you want; how you want to feel, is playing on another channel and all the waiting in the world will not flick the channel. A shift of focus is what changes the channel.

Happiness is about giving not getting

Looking for something outside of yourself to give you happiness isn’t the way to get connected; it’s never enough. There is nothing wrong with this quest- and sometimes we have to make this detour to realise for ourselves the truth of life- perhaps it’s even a necessary research period for many of us. But ultimately we all realise that the outer world cannot satisfy us; it is in the appreciating the life we have, appreciating the people already in our lives and ourselves; giving to others and loving others that’s the key to happiness and the answer everyone’s looking for. Happiness is about what you are giving out rather than what’s coming back to you. And no matter where we are or what’s going on in our lives right now- we are in the perfect place to do this right here and now. There is no better place to be.