Who am I? Good question right? I mean, you don’t want to just browse any old website that comes to pass right? You want to know who’s talking to you right?
Ok! Starting with a little bit of humour goes a long way towards opening the doors of communication.
Who am I? My name is James. But that wasn’t the question was it… I’ve been asked my name before, I’ve been asked what I do for a living, I’ve been asked what my profession is, but really being asked “WHO ARE YOU?” is a question we seldomly, and rarely honestly, get asked without expecting the quick response of, “I am James.”
I got asked this question for real, and for the first time, in 2016, on the lovely island of Gozo, in a 4 day retreat to spirit workshop in which we faced ourselves in the mirror, worked through stuff, attempted to love ourselves, had fun, simultaneously shedding tears, cracking laughs, and, moving forward. It was an interesting question to answer, and to keep answering, with no feedback from the person asking the question. Just their supportive presence. Well, in answering the question of who I am, a lot of social roles and labels fell to the wayside, and more honest, heart-statements began to emerge, separate from what I think I am in the world, and more on the lines of who I am at my essence. At my core. Well, that wasn’t the last time I asked this question to myself and it will not be the last.
I have been blessed to be a human being. A human being with thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires. loves and fears. I’ve lived experiences that encourage me to question my life, my existence and what I am really doing here on this planet, at this time. So for as long as I can remember, I have been on a journey of spiritual and personal development. I now call this journey, “Life”. On this journey I have learnt many skills. Skills that have equipped me with tools to manage and navigate the winding road of my human experience, with you, fellow human, on this planet.
I have come across many people who support me on my path. Beings who teach and re-teach me what I need to learn. My soul set out for me an open heart in this life as ‘James’. My family led me to Malta. My life with my family in Malta has guided me to music and expression through singing. Singing has led me to Berlin, Germany. And Berlin, has brought me to Yoga and Massage. Now, I am here: sharing my experience with you, my fellow human being.
Besides promoting my services as a singer, masseur and NLP practitioner, my intention for this website is to act as a platform for open and honest communication, to share, and thus providing a “virtual space” that facilitates a positive learning culture of knowledge creation, encouraging you to be who you are and to bring your self to the work-shop. Allowing us, to experience you and ourselves through you. Finding something new. We are, after all, all in this together.
And so, the journey continues….
Thank you for your presence.
Om. James .
The concept of community and my place in it are ideas that have been rattling around and around in my brain for a while now; but especially this year, 2020! Questioning! Experiencing! Doubting! Wondering! Connecting! Isolating! Sharing….. So here I share with you, my story. My thoughts. Bear with me, if you please.
I am personally in a situation where “other people”, my community, is very relevant to my wellbeing. I am being supported financially by the community at large. I am receiving professional and psychological support, and I am also part of a larger yoga community, in which I share, contribute to and receive spiritual wellbeing from. These are only three aspects that come to mind. I didn’t even mention the wide array of interactions between friends, families, teachers, students, artists, performers, audiences; and many, many more.
Actually, when I take a step back, and think about it, it seems like each one of us is a part of a complex web of connection, simply by being, doing and sharing. Whether we are aware of it or not, is another question. Some of the people within this web, I’ll call them “sharer-receivers”, (because we share with and also receive from others), we have never even personally met or maybe never even become consciously aware of. I mean, think about a song you’ve heard on the radio in the background, or an advertisement on YouTube, a law-maker from a hundred years ago, the discoverer of tea, or a book you read written by someone centuries ago. It’s most probable that you will never personally meet these creator-sharers (because they create and share) in your lifetime or even give them and your connection to them a second thought. Well….. Maybe we should.
…And here we go, EXPANDING the mind…. 😉
It’s funny. I always thought that I understood what community was and means. When I looked it up, I found a very broad definition, indicating a group of people with common interests living in a common space. However, this idea of community seems limiting to me and considering the current culture of social distancing and isolation that is developing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this idea of community doesn’t seem enough.
My idea of what community means to me and how to be an effective part of it is being challenged to its core, sparking questions within me, like: What is community? What is the function and purpose of a community? Can we exist in isolation? Do we need others? How can I best contribute? How can I be present, when I’m not physically present?
I decided to write this piece because I had an experience which really got me thinking. A day or two before this experience I was inspired to dedicate my personal development and yoga practice to “community”. We, the country, had just been given the news of a partial lock down and I was devastated. The thought of having to retreat again, after opening up to myself and to the world around me broke my heart. In that moment, I felt compelled to be available and present for the people around me, as well as remaining open myself, to receiving connection, support and nourishment from others. So considering this desire, I was curious to observe how I reacted to the experience that I will share with you now.
Early Monday morning, on the 2nd of November, I was on my way to work. It was about 7am, perhaps just after. I was in very good time for my 8am online Meditation class. The first one for the new season in the Yoga studio I work with. Gratitude is the theme for this meditation. So I’m in that space, or making my way into that space of gratitude, preparing myself for my class, for my day, for my week, and as I crossed the road from the train station, a young to middle aged man stops me and asks for help. He was soaking wet. It was a rainy day here in Berlin. It’s not an uncommon thing for people, homeless people, beggars, to ask for money or food. However this guy didn’t seem to be in that situation. I stopped and he spoke to me. His first phrase was that he needs help. When someone asks for help, my ears get bigger. It’s part of my nature. He then went on to tell me his story, how he doesn’t know anyone in Berlin, how he was visiting the city to check out a new job he was starting soon, how he got locked out of his apartment, locking his wallet with his ID as well as his mobile phone inside, how he had been out all night in the rain, and how he had reached his limits and that no one wants to help him. He then thanked me for actually stopping to listen. It was raining at this time, and not lightly I might add.
He still hadn’t come to the point of how I can help, so I asked him how I can help him. He wanted me to lend him some money so he could get a lock smith to open his apartment. I didn’t have any cash on me. He wanted us to walk to an ATM so that I’d withdraw some money for him. Now that in itself raised many alarms in me. His demeanour was friendly. He asked for my name, he gave me his, he even wanted me to go on my phone to identify who he is with his wife on Instagram. He was desperate for me to believe him. He had an answer for everything. He said he would bring the money back to me within 3 hours. I really wanted to help this man. I couldn’t tell if he was running a scam or not. I was also thinking about work and that I can’t stay out here forever. I really didn’t know what to do in this moment. I imagined if it was me in his position and needed help, I would be desperate for someone to help me. But then I thought of my own situation and that if this was a scam and this guy does take all my money I wouldn’t be able to recover so easily and I didn’t want to be in that situation. I thought of the class I was meant to teach and my responsibility to be there and be in a good state for my clients. I really wanted to help him, but at the end of his story and our interaction I decided not to help him any further. He understood that it was a matter of trust and neither of us knew how we could develop enough trust for me to feel comfortable helping him on a rainy grey day like it was, on which we had just started a partial lockdown. The cards were not in his favour. And he was right, it was a matter of trust. I wanted to trust him, I wanted to help him, I wanted to believe that all was going to be okay and that I could help him without getting burned myself, but I didn’t. I told myself that I had to think of myself and what I need. I would often say that’s a good strategy and just like being on a plane experiencing difficulty, always put on your own oxygen mask first and then help someone else. So I told this man, “I’m sorry, I really want to help you, but I can’t. I don’t know you and I can’t take that risk. I really hope you find a way. Find a way!” His reaction was, “okay”. I carried on to work and he crossed the street. I checked to see if he or anyone else was following me. No one was.
What next? Round and round turn the wheels of reflection
It was a weird situation and I don’t believe that it was an accident. This experience has sparked another question in me, “Why don’t we trust each other?” If this guy’s story was at all true, and everyone thought like I did, would he ever find help? I don’t have an answer to any of this.
On the other hand, our current times have moved me to find community in isolation. I am personally a very tactile person. I thrive off sharing, touch and to a certain extent physical closeness. I have, however, more recently found that I enjoy time with myself and so called solitude. To be honest, I’m never really alone. I’ve been focusing on my self-love practice a lot more and it has given me so much. The fact that I am actively giving myself more of the attention I would normally focus outwardly has showed me that I wasn’t expressing as much care and love to myself as I thought I was, or as I could have. Or maybe I’m finding new ways. For me, right now, it’s cooking fresh food for myself daily, having a structure or daily routine, not filling my time with tasks, appointments and events. So basically having time “for me” where I don’t have anything to do and where if I choose to, I can do nothing. This last bit might be like nails on a chalkboard for some of you. But its funny how in so called solitude, I found community. A clearer vision of what community means to me and how I want to express myself in it. As well as accepting my expectations and desires within the group body. In other words, allowing myself to be myself in communion with others in community more fully.
For me, community is becoming a space: a virtual, physical, mental, emotional space where I can be, in relation to myself and others simultaneously. As a teacher, I ask myself, is it necessary to have a leader or facilitator to guide the space, or more accurately, to hold the space. I don’t know yet. Part of me thinks that having someone who can play the game of allowing and being, in order to give the opportunity for others in the community to also allow and be, is helpful and possibly offers a perspective that we’re not all used to embodying. Community is becoming, for me, a space for sharing, a space for expressing who I am. Sharing skills, ideas, hopes and dreams, fears, worries, challenges and ultimately, Love. Being a support for each other. I think it’s good to clarify what I mean by support. Support is not necessarily money, or taking on other’s responsibility. I see support as sometimes, just being there. Your presence is really a gift and it is worth much more than anything you can buy for the person. Sure these material things are nice to receive. But your presence can be a gift you share once and has a life time effect on you, the sharer-receiver, and the other sharer-receiver. A friendly word, a kind look, a hug – virtual or physical, an ear, a shoulder to cry on, an allowing stance saying you can be who you are and where you are right now, I love you, you are amazing. That phrase or whatever honesty you can share in that moment has the potential energy to lift you and the other person up really, really high. There have been countless experiments conducted on the power of thought, and brain heart coherence where intention and meditation have had significant effects on the physical body and our 3-dimensional reality.
The power of love and sharing that love is incredible. And it’s not airy-fairy or hocus pocus. It’s backed up by science and personal experience. I was once at a talk where we were investigating muscle testing and the power of our thoughts. I eagerly got called up on stage and I was asked to say my name. Something I know as true, right. I had my arms spread out in front of me and I was asked to resist the person’s push on my arms. My arms held strong as I spoke my truth – my name.
When I was asked to say a lie, which I didn’t have to share out loud, my resistance to the outside force was futile and my arms dropped like a sack of potatoes! Speaking something other than my truth.
Then the audience got involved. Community. I was meant to say something negative to myself in my mind while the community sent me loving thoughts, positivity and encouragement. What do you think happened? Did my arms drop? No. They did not. Although I was in a self-defeating thinking space, the love space being offered to me by the audience held my arms up. The love I received, without the spoken word, held me up.
What is possible? More questions than answers
When I think of these experiences, my mind blows up with the awareness of the multitude of ways we can be a community and share a space; 2 people in the same room, or 2 people on other sides of the globe. When I think of the inspirational videos, music and other literature created years before I was born that I experience in my present, and the soul movement I feel, it blows my mind to question what time and space mean to a community’s coherence. What community is cannot remain a 3-dimensional question. That is however, a whole other adventure 😉
I may have raised more questions than I’ve answered, but that’s okay. Asking the question is the first step to an answer and creating knowledge. And no matter how advanced technology becomes, I believe that the socialisation aspect (other people), will always be an essential part of our growth. We are built to be together.
The End….or, perhaps the beginning?
This story is a part of my process of dealing with the current global pandemic of the corona virus. It describes my journey through panic and fear towards some brand of calmness and finding my footing. Finding my feet is an ongoing practice for me, especially right now as the ground is shaking. May my experience inspire you, so you may find the calm within your storm.
“WAAAAA! Oh no! What do I do!? It’s coming! It’s almost here! Help! Abort! Abort! It’s too much! Oh no! What do I do!? It’s coming! It’s almost here! Help! Abort! Abort! I can’t do this. Oh no! What do I do!? It’s coming! It’s almost here! Help! Abort! Abort! I’m worthless…” 😦
What do you do when you need a moment or two?
We are often faced with overwhelming situations and expected to continue soldiering on until we cannot anymore. Often, we get sick, we become depressed, our inner and sometimes our outer worlds come crashing down and, we die…. [Yes, I said we die. We will all, eventually, die. Take a moment of silence to accept that fact.] What is going to make the difference, is what you do between now, and when that time comes.
Take a moment or two…
… GOOD. Now, that I have your attention …. Let’s talk about taking that moment. Why it is necessary, helpful and how to do it. At least, from my perspective.
As we’ve established, the world can be a very stimulating place. Sometimes too stimulating. In fact, although we might not necessarily say, “WAAAAA! Oh no! What do I do!? I’m worthless.” out loud, the introductory spin we went on, is in a way, a very life-like, energetic account of what a crazy moment and thus a need for a moment or two can feel like.
So, let us take a moment or two together. Let us slow down now and start to pave a path for clarity.
It is my impression that people, organisations, employers, doctors and many other institutions are becoming increasingly aware of the need to look after ourselves, and ultimately each other. There is more focus on wellness and mental health days, 4 day working-weeks, half days and taking care of one’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. A healthy, happy, balanced, life-style is no longer only a physical, medical one, but a more integrated, holistic one, taking into consideration the whole person. In other words, we know that what you need, want and feel, matters.
Having said this, the world can still be a very fast-paced and crazy place to be in. So crazy in fact, that people consciously or unconsciously leave their body and go with the wind, resulting in panic mode, fight or flight responses, rash decisions, survival mentality, mob mentality and aggression.
And even though many people know what I’m talking about and can relate to this experience, there is a culture in many societies that encourages us to keep going, to ignore warning signals in your system: body, thoughts, and emotions; and to react. To be the best, thus comparing yourself to your peers, to be the most successful, as if there is a standard measure for what success means across the globe, to look like and be like everyone else; and the list is probably endless. In doing so, in continuously looking for external validation for our own well-being we forget where our whole reality begins; our Selves.
There is an App for everything nowadays! And I think that’s great, but now we need one to remind us who we are and to love ourselves daily (That’s actually a good idea!). When I talk to people, I notice that a lot of frustration is coming from feeling unfulfilled, or trying to reach a quota of something that is not quantifiable or comparable.
Mind you, there are many people who are in touch with themselves more and are aware of themselves, their beliefs, their desires and work every day to become more integrated people inside and out. Whatever that means to them. I repeat. Whatever that means, to you.
So amongst the crazy of keeping up in a global race, remember to take a moment to breathe. When it’s all coming way too fast and you feel like you’re losing yourself in the noise, STOP, close your eyes and find your breath. Listen to it moving in and out of you. Touch yourself if you can. Feel your body, become aware of any tension in your body and say, “Okay, it is what it is” and keep listening to your breath. Allow any thoughts that come up to continue on their journey. For in this moment, they are not your concern. Even if you only have one minute to become aware of your breath and thus centring for just 30 seconds, TAKE IT. It’s yours. In a world of contracts, in which you actually have fewer than you think, remember that contract you have with yourself. If you have none, make one. Talk to yourself lovingly, and pledge that you are going to take the time, each day, even for one moment, perhaps when you just wake up, your mind is emptier at that time, to send yourself a virtual text message, “Today, I’ll take that one moment, and remember you, Self, and take a breath of life for us today.”
And throughout your day, when you notice yourself getting carried away with life and can’t see where you’re standing anymore, realise, this is one moment in time, not your whole life and this too shall pass.
Then decide for yourself, to take your moment. Feel your feet on the ground and step into the next moment, with more clarity and being more grounded. Make this decision your practice. Train yourself to take the moment that you need. Take it over and over again. That moment will never be the same. It doesn’t matter. Take it just the same. You deserve it.
Use that moment to breathe and remember where you are, and what you are doing, and perhaps even who you are doing it for.
Taking that moment for yourself, again, and again, becomes your practice, and before you know it, taking a moment for yourself is your habit. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, you will resort to your practiced habit of taking a moment and clearing your focus, seeing the moment as it is, and not being swept up like a headless chicken looking for its head, because You have yours on your shoulders and now, you know what to do next.
Om So Ham
Today remembers the 12th year since my father’s passing from his body. And I, celebrate his life, every year. Every year, I create a small ritual or celebration in which I remember my dad’s life and all the things I am grateful for. I remember what he taught me while living on this planet, how much I love him, and I remember to enjoy life, just as he did, and more.
I didn’t always approach my father’s passing in this manner. In fact, in the beginning, I festered in anger and disgust. I had my reasons to as well and almost anyone would have said that I was justified in doing so. Before moving on from physical, my dad left some unfinished business that my family is still feeling the repercussions of. So the first 2 to 3 years were spent actively dealing with feelings of anger and sadness.
I did not like this feeling. It was not helping me feel good and I could not move on from where I was. In response to this awareness, I decided to work on it and get through my grief.
I am no stranger to personal and spiritual development, so I started working with a fellow NLP practitioner friend of mine, and with her, I worked through my feelings towards my father. I spoke to him over and over again, I discovered how I felt and what I was thinking. I eventually realised that holding on to what upset me about what my father did in his physical life, wasn’t going to help me heal and move on from the pain I was feeling. Instead, I found myself experiencing understanding, realising that maybe my dad did the best he could with what he had and knew in life. I started thinking that maybe he really thought he was doing the right thing for his children, tangled with the complexities of his ego of course. A very human trait. I started to let go of what I expected of him as my father and started to fill myself up with more forgiveness and helpful perspective.
I learned a lot throughout this experience and I realised that I had become grateful to him for the experience his passing gave me. For the lessons I was learning about myself and about life in general and how I wanted to and didn’t want to live my life. This sense of gratitude spread throughout my life and about 5 years after his transition, after further personal development, I was inspired to, instead of grieving his death, to celebrate his life.
So I contacted a few people who understood me and were open and willing to play with me in this way. Celebrating a person’s life the way I do is afterall not yet the common response to the “death” of a loved one. I explained to them what I wanted to do. That I wanted to have a small fire ritual were I would burn a letter I wrote to my father. I can’t remember what I wrote exactly, but I do recall offering my friends the opportunity to write down some happy memories they had with someone who’d passed and release it into the fire. I didn’t expect anyone to go along with me on this, but given the opportunity, I found that almost everyone present at this first celebration was willing to participate. I was pleasantly surprised and also, not attached to their response. This was my decision to celebrate my father’s life, and I had no guilt, shame or embarrassment colouring my decision. This was for me and my father and our relationship. I was happy to share it.
Every year since then, I have created small celebrations. I’ve put dinners together, I’ve shared rituals with friends, I’ve even held a concert in celebration of his life.
Now, 12 years later, I can honestly say, with full belief in my experience, that my relationship with my father has developed, and continues to. That my father himself has also grown and is no longer the memory I have of him of when he was still in body. I believe with all my being that my father still lives and that he is with me. I sense his presence almost daily. I communicate with him, I dream about him and he guides me. He tells me how much he loves me, that I’m a beautiful being and that he’s proud that I’m his son.
So in letting go of the idea that my dad was dead, I found the opportunity to continue my relationship with him. Although I do wish to be able to hug him with my body at times, and wonder what it would be like to introduce him to partners and what he would be like as a grandfather, I am honestly grateful that my father passed when he did. He has taught me so much from his perspective that I doubt he would have been able to teach me from this physical plane. Our relationship is awesome and I am blessed to call him, presently, my daddy.
Sometimes I get caught up in this convoluted mix of thoughts and feelings revolving around a desire to “Be myself” without question, and “be myself” within a world that implicitly &/or explicitly demands ways of being to live up to. Whether it’s physical appearance and ability, intelligence and education, type of living quarters or profession, the friends I keep and the way my relationships should look and even what I eat and how I eat it. Just to mention a few. There is “evidence” everywhere that supports everyone’s view and shames or disproves everyone else’s.
The clash of opposing beliefs and thoughts creates a storm in me at times. As I work through this mess, I receive glimpses of Self without the mess. I look very easy and effortless. I receive moments of clarity, and in those moments I notice how useless and unnecessary a lot of these layers of being I mentioned earlier are to my happiness and my authentic being living on this planet. This makes me question what I really want in my life. It makes me want to love myself for all of who and what I am. It makes me want to love my body and the way I look. It makes me want to enjoy food for what it is without hurting myself in the process. I want to look in the mirror and love what I see. I want to hear myself speak and love what I say, how I sound and where it leads. It makes me want to work and be okay with where I am in my professional development. All these wants make me want to allow all of these layers to develop effortlessly and absent of guilt for not being where I think I want to be. It makes me question whether where I want to be is because I really want to be there or because I’ve been trained to think I want it.
Today is not the first time I’ve cleared up the mess and asked these questions. In fact, I’ve become much much better at knowing what is important to me and trusting my higher-self to guide me through my existence. I live in a human world and I don’t pretend that I will one day not be influenced by my human condition while I’m still living a human life. It has gotten easier to listen to my own voice and my own heart with more clarity. Moments of contrast and stormy weather make me appreciate the sunny days more and my alignment more. Contrasting moments help me sort out what I really want. It makes me realise that although I compare myself less to my society than I used to, I still do sometimes. And I know which feels better. It inspires me to trust myself more, for I know more than I think I know. Love and acceptance is my way forward in this human world. Love and love is what I have to offer in the world. Love and Love is my legacy. In love, I am fearless. In love, all is well.
Thank you for listening. Be your Love in the world #beyourlove