Relationships

How To Courageously Cultivate Love And Intimacy In Non-Sexual Relationships

Opening the heart to unconditional love and non-sexual intimacy.

Do you dare to be brave? Do you dare to remove barriers and allow life’s flow to abundantly flood your heart? Do you dare to be shaken to the core? Do you dare to be truly seen? Do you dare to be vulnerable? Do you dare to confront fear, to discover the treasure beyond?

Do you dare to explore these qualities outside of romance? To cultivate intimate connections with friends, family, colleagues, strangers on the street? What about those you dislike, disagree with, resent, judge? Could you love generously, knowing the most profound expression of love doesn’t discriminate?

Unconditional love is daring. It’s bewildering, breathtaking, exhilarating, exquisite, magnificent, life-affirming — and completely terrifying! All of us want to love and be loved. Love is the foundation of life. The more we love, the happier, healthier, more connected we feel.

Last Valentine’s Day, I explored the myth of romantic love, its illusions, restrictions and misguided messages. Moving on from the myth, my goal main goal for 2019 is to cultivate unconditional love, to open my heart to intimacy in all areas of life. I’ve learned and adjusted accordingly. One year on, I’m excited to share these insights with you.

Mindfulness

Open Your Eyes To Winter Beauty With Mindful Seeing

mindfulness winter
Mindfulness can uncover beauty in winter.

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot

It’s mid-January. I’m walking through the streets of Berlin, a city known for long, harsh winters. The scene fits the stereotype — I dodge and weave hooded pedestrians, veiled by sleet, chilled by zero-degrees breeze. As I absorb my surroundings, I’m enveloped by a sense of calm. I suddenly notice this ordinary stroll is anything but ordinary.

Happiness

The Myth Of The Perfect Christmas: Thriving During Festive Season

merry christmas
The Christmas Myth is damaging to mental health (not my hands.)

Christmas is nearly here. Argos queues stretch out the door. Amazon drones cause Gatwick delays, maybe. ASDA is buzzing — broccoli, best before Boxing Day, is 20p at the moment. Deals in every aisle, from every brand, at every outlet, everywhere.

Friends back in town. Family gatherings aplenty. Football’s festive fixtures. Parties, Pringles, party poppers, pickled onions, presents. Presents! Do you have all your presents, yet?

With its cultural significance, the pressure to have a perfect Christmas is palpable. Like the myth of romantic love, we’re bombarded with unrealistic portrayals of how things should be. Of course, all of us want to enjoy the special day. Strive for perfection, though, and you will find yourself struggling under the weight of expectation.

Internalise the Christmas Myth, and the 25th December is loaded with should statements. These are cognitive distortions psychologists note contribute to anxiety, depression, stress, and other distressing emotions. Should statements can be self-directed, directed at others, or directed at the world. This conflicts with things as they are, which is exhausting.

This article includes tips to manage common shoulds related to Christmas, allowing you to enjoy the day free from pressure of expectations. So, grab a mince pie and read on.

I’m dreaming of a perfect Christmas…

Expectations are comparisons. You compare the present experience to a mental image of how the day should be. You compare how your day should be with another mental image of how you expect your day will unfold. Expectations are resistance to what is. Without realising, we often spend time rapidly comparing our direct experience with mental expectations.

Generally speaking, the more demanding the expectation, the more stress or disappointment will arise. Awareness is the first step in overcoming these beliefs.Try the below exercise to highlight your unique Christmas shoulds.

Exercise: Note your Christmas Shoulds

Reflect on the shoulds you hold about Christmas. Grab a pen and paper and write them down. Allow them to be as silly or serious as you like. Below are some examples:

  • I should listen to Christmas music and be in the Christmas spirit. Instantly.
  • When people ask me if I’m looking forward to Christmas, I should respond enthusiastically and positively.
  • I should watch the Queen’s speech.
  • The day should go to plan.
  • People should be happy. It’s Christmas!

Uncover as many as you can. Consider their impact. Do they lead to contentment, or guilt, stress frustration, shame, disappointment (not a loaded question…)? The next step is to reframe rationally. “The day should go to plan” becomes “I would like the day to go to plan, but I appreciate it is unpredictable and I will deal with the unexpected as it comes.”

All I want for Christmas is… 100% positivity 24/7 all the time?

Emotional perfectionism is a distorted belief about how you should feel. Pleasant emotions are desired and challenging emotions are judged as bad or unwanted. In her brilliant Ted Talk, psychologist Susan David explains positivity as a “new form of moral correctness,” denying the richness of human experience. Her response to clients who wish certain feelings go away? “I understand,” she says, “but those are dead people’s goals.”

Blunt, but true. For example, I developed the belief I shouldn’t feel nervous. I believed emotionally healthy people didn’t experience any nerves. These beliefs created inner turmoil every time I had the faintest flutter of anxiety. This is a poor coping mechanism because unresolved or ignored emotions return, stronger. The feeling returned, re-energised. I’d panic.

At Christmas emotional perfectionism increases, due to the myth the day should be joyous, happy, carefree. That’d be lovely, wouldn’t it? But attempting to filter certain emotions leads to suppression, or frustration or shame when they arise. Anyone suffering from depression or anxiety may have experienced this unpleasant dynamic. I’ve spent numerous Christmases wishing I could flick a switch and turn on happiness, just for the day. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.

In reality, the year end is a time to reflect, emotions are running high. The loss of those no longer in our lives is heightened. The temptation is to put on a brave face and “get on with it.” But it’s important to take a moment to sit with loss and difficult emotions. Remember the good times, cry. With a little alchemy, attention and compassion, loss often transforms into appreciation.

While reflecting, it’s worth challenging accompanying shoulds. Reframe statements like “I should be happy” to “I’d like to enjoy Christmas and feel happy, but challenging emotions may arise. If they do, doesn’t mean I’ve failed.” I recommend sharing this exercise with a close friend or family member. Though feels everyone else has it worked out, you’ll be surprised how universal these emotional expectations are!

The power of acceptance

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” — Ram Dass.

Acceptance is the Holy Grail for evaporating expectations. But it’s often misunderstood. It isn’t an act in itself, but the state of mind arising the moment you stop resisting reality. It is a quality cultivated by the absence of wishing things were different.

At Christmas, we may wish the day unfolds in alignment to perfect expectations. We may wish our family matches the perfect image of how families should be. When these expectations aren’t met, we become annoyed or frustrated.

acceptance
Acceptance creates space for action.

Ram Dass’ quote is playful, but based in truth. Familial relationships are challenging due to closeness and shared history. A degree of annoyance is understandable, perhaps inevitable. But resistance or wishing things were different causes unnecessary tension. Accepting family as they are, in all their colourful, unique, beautiful imperfection, creates harmony.

Communicating needs

Acceptance isn’t passivity, though. We become flexible and unstuck from habitual behaviours when we see things as they really are. Then we take action by communicating our needs or making necessary adjustments. Changing the dynamic of familial relationships may feel impossible, but it’s never too late to created updated, healthy boundaries.

For example, my family talk… a lot. I love them for it but I can’t keep up, even as a talker myself. So I’ve expressed my need for quiet time. I explained I’m sometimes overwhelmed, and if I zone out of conversation, it’s nothing personal.

Acceptance allowed me to empathise — their excitable chatter is a symptom of their appreciation that I’m home, as I’m away for most of the year. From this perspective it was easier to express my needs with compassion, from the heart.

This works both ways. Our relationships harmonise when we ask others what their needs are, and listen attentively to the response. These honest conversations are generally avoided because they make us vulnerable. But if we pluck the courage to instigate these conversations, we’ll notice everything flows smoother.

Cultivating genuine appreciation

Intellectually bullying ourselves to appreciate good fortune is futile. If you don’t believe me, recollect a time you told yourself you should appreciate something — how did you feel? My guess is you felt guilty or bad for being ungrateful. Now, recollect a time of genuine appreciation. I imagine it appeared spontaneously, without needing to think.

This is intellectual barrier is strengthened around Christmas, but there is an solution. One of my favourite aspects of spiritual practice is experientially cultivating appreciation. I call this gratitude from ground zero. Whereas fearful comparison justifies appreciation by looking at how bad things could be, gratitude recognises everything you have with loving abundance. In a world where the majority feel a perpetual sense of lack, this simple switch in mindset is immensely powerful.

Gratitude from ground zero wipes the slate clean. It’s an attempt to view your life situation with fresh eyes. Simultaneously, we let go of concepts of how our lives should be, or how things need to be for us to be truly happy. To give this a go, list five (or more) things you’re grateful for, and move on. Let go of expectations of what gratitude will provide. If possible, do this daily. With space to flourish, appreciation magically bubbles to the surface.

A word of warning: occasionally appreciation announces itself spectacularly. But mostly it is a subtle hum, noticeable when the clutter of expectation is removed from the mind. Watch out for emotional perfectionism framing subtle appreciation as “not good enough,” thus invalidating its existence.

A word on alcohol

Alcohol has been deeply ingrained in society for hundreds of years. But its cultural acceptance masks its impact. This year a major global study discovered there is no level of “safe” drinking. As well as a number of physical health risks, alcohol reduces serotonin, the chemical associated with happiness. Alcohol is a natural depressant linked with psychosis, self-harm and suicide.

These are side effects anyone suffering from depression needs to consider. In the past, to escape unwanted feelings, I’d medicate with drink. When hungover, anxiety would skyrocket, energy would plummet, my mood would reach unpleasant lows. Drinking provided temporary relief but reversed the hard work of carefully cultivating a lifestyle to improve my mental health.

So I decided to abstain completely, after slowly reducing my intake. My mood is much more stable and I believe this is a big factor. This’ll be my first Christmas without alcohol and the pressure to indulge increases this time of year. Interestingly, this decision has revealed a source of anxiety was the knowledge of the cumulative effect day-after-day boozing would have on my mood.

If you’re tempted to be teetotal, remember drinking is not an obligation — though it may feel that way. It takes resilience to sip soft drinks when faced with beer pressure, but if you want to cut back to benefit your wellbeing, stick to your guns and smile. You don’t have to abstain completely, but small changes can reduce consumption; meet a friend for coffee, alternate alcohol with water, or if you’re daring, communicate your need to cut back for the sake of your mental health.

Last but not least…

Well, there we go! This is my last post of 2018. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Thank you so much for supporting MindThatEgo throughout the year. Expect more content in 2019.

And remember, there’s no such thing as perfect.


Mindfulness

You’ve Just Had a Panic Attack. How You React Can Prevent An Anxiety Spiral.

panic attack aftermath
The special ingredient reducing anxiety and shame in the panic attack aftermath.

A volcanic explosion of frenetic energy, a thumping heartbeat, suffocating terror, dizzying tunnel vision, jelly-kneed paralysis, no room, struggling to breathe. Regardless of the cause, experiencing a panic attack is deeply unsettling, and hard to shake off. Consequently, fear of experiencing another attack can become chronic.

During the anxiety ridden chapters of my life, panic struck, seemingly out of the blue, multiple times, every day. I’d desperately try to avoid the debilitating end-of-world terror, but  almost all situations were triggering. Public transport, caffeine, meetings, seminars, crowded spaces, emotional situations, intimate situations, eating in restaurants, calling someone on the phone. You get the picture.

The panic attack aftermath: emotional wildfire

When your baseline state is alert and hyper-anxious, fear breeds more fear, like emotional wildfire. I remember feeling completely out of control, as if an unruly entity within me dominated my emotional landscape, striking without notice. If depression is a Black Dog, panic is an Red Tiger.

Even a subtle stirring of the tiger would terrify me — here we go again — and set off the familiar domino effect of anxiety, igniting in seconds. This is panic disorder. It’s horrible.

How you react to a panic attack can reduce collateral damage

Now, I’m fortunate to live a life free from panic. Taming the Red Tiger was a long road, requiring time, the application of many techniques, therapy, and deep reflection into why I responded so viciously to certain situations. Meditation and mindfulness played a significant role; I was able to see the individual components of panic. This changed my perspective.

If you’re seeking support for panic attacks, you’re probably doing what I did — researching ways to prevent them, or ways to manage them once they’ve taken hold. Both of these approaches are extremely important, and I intend to write about them soon. However, there’s overlooked value in managing the aftermath of a panic attack.

Your reaction can make a significant difference in reducing collateral damage. For most of us, the reaction is shame, frustration and criticism. Let’s change that.

Note: I define panic attack as anxiety intrusive enough to momentarily paralyse or debilitate, or stop you from doing what you’d normally do.

The panic attack aftermath from a different perspective

I spoke to a dear friend who had experienced panic recently. Her experience was painfully familiar — the fear being judged, acting erratically, losing control. As my friend recalled the incident, I could tell she was disappointed through the subtle hum of frustration peppering her tone of voice.

My reaction was to give her a warm hug and reassurance. Her reaction was to punish herself, as if she had done something wrong. The same incident, viewed from opposite ends of the empathy spectrum. Then it struck me — the key difference between where I was and where I am on the path to free from panic, is self-compassion.

Using self-compassion to reflect on a panic attack

“How would you feel about this incident if it happened to me?” I asked.

She paused.

“I’d be sad knowing you felt that way. I’d probably want to give you a hug, too. And I definitely wouldn’t feel people would be judging you, or see you as weak. I’d want to know you were okay and reassure you.”

This was exactly how I felt hearing her experience.

“So, what if you could have this level of compassion towards yourself?” I asked.

Silence.

The two arrows of pain and suffering: panic and post-panic

Two arrows.
The two arrows of pain and suffering.

Most of us don’t treat ourselves with compassion. Many of the most caring people I know treat themselves in a manner they would never dream of treating a stranger, let alone someone they love. This is deeply upsetting. All of us deserve compassion. The default setting of self-criticism serves no purpose. It makes us feel bad, lowers our self-esteem.

We are extremely vulnerable in the panic attack aftermath. Our systems are in recovery mode. We are in a sensitive emotional state. We are more than likely feeling a little lost, a little out of control. An instinctive, habitual reaction of self-criticism only intensifies this state. After all, panic attacks are grim. Isn’t it counterintuitive to view them with kindness?

A Buddhist parable in the Sallatha Sutta illustrates the importance of how we react to misfortunate. Pain and suffering is compared to two arrows. The first arrow is unavoidable — this is pain. The second arrow is the unnecessary suffering caused by our reaction to pain. This is avoidable.

Using this parable, the panic attack is the first arrow. Granted, there are tools and techniques to manage anxiety. But once experienced, you can’t turn back the clock. For argument’s sake, I’ll stick to the view this is “unavoidable” pain. The focus is on the second arrow — how we interpret the panic attack.

The ripple effect caused by the panic attack aftermath

We feel we fluffed an important interview due to anxiety. We get tickets to watch our favourite band, but we’re unable to enjoy the music as we’re overwhelmed by the crowd. We spend an evening with friends, but instead of relaxing, feel forced, unable to relax. However the unique flavour, the core of extreme anxiety is the sense of I can’t cope.

Because panic attacks are intrusive and debilitating, the fallout can be huge, making the second arrow of suffering harmful and difficult to avoid. In my experience, the typical self-critical ripple of suffering consists of cognitive, emotional and energetic responses:

  • Cognitive: A critical storyline forms in the mind. The moment is viewed as a catastrophe — you made a fool of yourself… why are you so pathetic? — and assumptions are made about future incidents — I’ll never cope.. this is the way it will always be. You ruminate, replaying the incident over and over in the mind’s cinema.
  • Emotional: Rumination and self-critical thinking leads to disappointment, shame, guilt, frustration, anger, or a host of heavy emotions. I vividly remember a panic attack at university where I rushed home, went straight to my room, shut the door, closed the curtains and got into bed, turning my back on the world because I was ashamed and embarrassed.
  • Energetic: Emotions are energy. During a panic attack, the physical elements are intense. As a result, you may feel drained and low on energy after an attack. This makes it harder to be mindful, and can lead to the cognitive and emotional responses taking hold. It’s important to respect this malaise and to rest.

The combination of these responses is the second arrow; panic leads to self-criticism, self-criticism leads to shame, self-worth plummets, low-self worth leads to feeling unable to cope, feeling unable to cope leads to heightened anxiety.

The second arrow of suffering isn’t truth

It’s SO important to remember this reaction is filtered through the anxious mind. It’s not truth. It’s another symptom of anxiety, albeit deceptively palatable. Those thoughts can feel real. It really can feel we’ll never cope, or this is the way it’s always meant to be, or we acted foolishly.

All of these thoughts and beliefs are the second arrow of suffering which can be avoided. Compassion catches the second arrow mid-air. Compassion dilutes the sense of shame and views panic from a more gentle perspective. The below journal exercise is designed to reframe your thinking from a place of criticism to a place of compassion, reducing the cognitive ripple:

Exercise: Journal A Different Perspective

Without planning or worrying about legibility, write about your panic attack experience as soon as you can. Allow all judgements or critical thoughts to rise to the surface in a stream of consciousness. Write, write, write. Rant, rant, rant.

Then take a few deep breaths. Imagine you are a year into the future, looking back on this incident. Write how it feels from this point in time. Emotions are now diluted, and a multitude of new challenges have arisen and ceased since this moment.

Next, write from the perspective of a close friend. Highlight any judgements or criticisms and challenge them. Reframe through the lens of compassion.

For example, if you wrote I’ll never cope, reframe from a place of compassion in third person:

You have a right to feel fed up; it must be really unpleasant! But you can cope, you’ve coped many times. You’re doing really well. Focus on where you’ve come from. Remember there is no shame. Please don’t be hard on yourself — you are loved. You don’t deserve to suffer even more.

Finally, rephrase the statement back to your first person perspective, i.e. I have a right to feel fed up. I am loved.

Shame arises from self-blame

Shame or frustration following a panic attack indicates you are blaming yourself in some way. But you are not at fault. Some days, anxiety levels are sky high for no logical reason. Maybe it’s physiological, a hormonal imbalance, your body chemistry of the day. Maybe it’s tiredness or hunger of sickness. Some days anxiety is just there. That’s fine.

Moving away from the second arrow of suffering by switching perspective really can reduce the anxiety spiral. But the goal isn’t to banish anxiety forever. Anxiety is one texture in a rich emotional spectrum, and attempting to numb anxiety numbs all emotion. Instead, we can learn to develop an accepting view of anxiety, from a place of love. Compassion is crucial to cultivating this state.

The aim of the below exercise is to take compassion deeper, to manage the emotional ripple. The idea is to move from cognitive understanding of compassion, to directly experiencing its texture and energetic sensation:

Exercise: Visualise Yourself With The Warmth Of Compassion

Find a relaxed, quiet space. Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths into the diaphragm. Focus on the gentle rise and fall of the stomach. Do this for a few minutes.

Now, visualise your recent panic attack. You may notice an emotional response; your heart may begin racing, thoughts may spiral. This is okay.

As you relive the scene from your perspective, imagine floating outside of your body. Now you see yourself from a perspective, some distance away. Notice the change in your physiology. Do you feel calmer?

Next, imagine looking at your distant self through the eyes of someone who loves you. Imagine a ray of bright white light, expanding from your heart. This is the warm light of love and compassion. Feel it flow from your heart centre, into the heart centre of your distant self.

Notice as your distant self fills with this bright, warm light. You see anxiety ease, a smile appear, breathing slow. A change in body language reflects a new sense of serenity and calm.

Now, visualise floating back into your body. See the incident from this new, relaxed perspective. Feel the warmth from within. Know it is okay.

Acceptance: another tool in recovering from panic

Adding self-blame and self-criticism, perceiving moments as weakness, makes return to normalcy even harder. Remember these attributes are symptoms. Allowing these states to be, giving them room to arise and fade away, makes recovery so much smoother. This requires a compassionate and accepting mindset.

I have days where anxiety has made simple tasks seem impossible. I’ve had moments where my voice trembles, where I shake. Where leaving the house is difficult. The thing is — I no longer view these incidents as bad, a failure or sign of weakness. They are mere passing waves in the ocean of inner experience.

Ultimately, we have a choice; when anxiety gets the better of us, we can punish ourselves or choose compassion. We can nurture ourselves, understand our triggers, and aim to improve steadily. We can grow from a place of love, not from a place of fear. No one else can do this for us. Next time the self-critical habit kicks in, breathe, sit back, reframe.

You deserve compassion. And the most healing source of compassion comes from within. Can you feel it?


 

Spirituality

Black Friday SALE: Souls On Offer, No Longer Used

black friday
Is Black Friday a symptom of an ego epidemic?

Black Friday has arrived! A day to hunt for deals and spend, spend, spend. Except for the occasional death or bone-breaking stampede, the day will pass by for most of us in a sea of seeming insignificance. Perhaps we’ll find a deal. Perhaps not. But look below the surface, and Black Friday is a symptom of something much, much darker — a culture dictated by the human ego.

Hypercapitalism is the product of this ego epidemic. Society is agonisingly disjointed from spirit, capitalism is the new God. As the headline suggests, I believe the epidemic of ego has primed hypercapitalism, paved the way for Trump and Brexit, and left us painfully disconnected from our true essence, our soul. I define ego as the illusion we are merely individual, material beings, existing in a dead, material universe.

I’ll argue hypercapitalism functions because it promises happiness, the most powerful drive of human nature. I’ll present two opposing “Tripartites” of happiness. This is reference to the Tripartite Agreement of 1936, where the US, UK and France entered an agreement to stabilize each other’s national currency. It’s also reference to three fundamental points in each model of happiness.

The Tripartite of Hypercapitalism frames happiness from an ego perspective. As is the nature of ego, it is fuelled by false promise of a future where happiness exists. On the contrary, the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment is a blueprint for finding lasting contentment in uncovering our true nature, where abundance, peace and contentment reside.

Conflict between the two Tripartites is causing a spiritual crisis. I argue the further we travel from our spiritual nature, towards hypercapitalism, the more suffering, confusion and disorientation we will endure. Admittedly, it’s an ambitious argument. But hear me out… And get used to the word Tripartite. I’ll use it frequently.

The Epidemic Of Ego Consumption

“We have made ego a cultural value.” Terence McKenna

Egoism frames the Earth as an external entity we happen to inhabit, like visitors passing through. This sense of separation negates our true nature as Mother Earth’s offspring, inseparable from the planet and the wider cosmos. Individuality breeds competition and consumption. We view the Earth as something to consume — look no further than fracking, deforestation or global warming for evidence of this ego-driven, warped sense of reality.

Capitalism isn’t inherently bad. It’s only a system. But our culture of consumption has created hypercapitalism, a term used to describe a society where commercial or business interests “penetrate every aspect of human experience.” Black Friday is a stark reminder the human experience is now deeply entrenched in consumption. Worse still, as individuals, we are encouraged to compete for our share of resources.

Human Nature Limited To Sensory Pleasure

Operating purely on the material plane, we severely limit happiness to sensory pleasures. When we rely on the senses for meaning, we require compliance from the external. And the ego is greedy. We have to consume incessantly. To compensate culturally, our senses are bombarded with information. Louder, faster, tastier, brighter, bigger. There’s nothing wrong with sensory pleasure, but relying on its rewards for happiness is a vicious cycle. We crave, consume, enjoy fleeting rewards, and crave some more. We are never satisfied.

The deepest depths of the human psyche thirsts for connection. It’s our nature to realise ourselves as part of a greater whole, to transcend individuality and connect with ourselves and the unity of our experience. Uncovering such connection is a meaningful endeavor. But when our true nature is seen restricted to egoic individualism, our thirst for connection leads to worshipping the very system promising reward from the external. Hypercapitalism is born.

The Tripartites Of Happiness

Tripartrites
The Tripartrites of Hypercapitalism and Genuine Contentment.

We all want to be happy. The beating heart of hypercapitalism is the promise of happiness. Crucially, it can only ever be a promise, it can never deliver lasting happiness. It requires our belief in the promise to function and keep the cogs turning. I refer to this as the Tripartite Of Hypercapitalism. Its three points are Quick Fixes, Comfort, and False Promises. Its centre is the human ego, which is attracted to the Tripartite like moth to a flame.

In opposition, our true essence and source of contentment can be summarised by the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment. Its three points are Resilience, Challenge, Truth. At its centre is the human spirit. These traits are primed for the heart, which is attracted to the Tripartite in a pull of knowing.

Worshipping The New Religion

In many ways, the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism functions like institutionalised religion. It is a belief system. Why? Because it promises happiness if you play by its rules. It does not encourage empowerment of the individual; it requires compliance. Even when we play by its rules, and feel happiness lacking, we conform through fear.

In contrast, the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment functions by encouraging individuals to try for themselves through direct experience. It is not a belief system and does not make promises. It provides guidance, not rules. Momentum along its path is encouraged by the positive results of experimentation, practice, and resilience.

Truth is not learned. It what remains after the learning, the beliefs, the bright lights of Black Friday sales fade. It’s what remains when everything we think we are has dissolved.

Cogs In A Soulless Machine

“There is an agony in the world that comes from the disequilibrium of and the lack of justice and the lack of responsible use of resources. That agony is going to keep manifesting in different ways. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. That to me is our humanness rising up to say: we’ve gotta be counted!” — Ram Dass

We’re minuscule cogs in a soulless, economic machine, a machine devoid of meaning. Intuitively, we know this. But inertia creeps. Ego-dictated culture is sleepwalking us into a consensus trance of crippling limitations. We’re brainwashed to believe consumption and materialism is the Holy Grail — if we acquire what we crave, we’ll be happy.

What encourages people to choose the challenging terrain of the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment? Without psychological crisis or impending physical death, the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism usually wins because it’s the path of least resistance; it provides comfort and encourages inertia. There’s no end destination — it’s a treadmill of False Promise.

Salvation in hypercapitalism is entering Paradise, commonly known as the 1%. This promise is a shrewd way to encourage the masses to buy into a system of equality, despite obvious signs such a system benefits only the smallest minority. We’re told that once you’re in, you’re in. Nothing is quite like being in. But 99% are out.

Dissonance Causing A Spiritual Crisis

Dissonance between both Tripartites causes a crisis of spirit. The farther we drift from our innate spiritual nature, the more more piercing the gut wrenching distance from the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment. But human nature knows Truth. We can try to deceive ourselves, but Truth has a way of seeping into our conscious minds, of reminding us of where we’re at.

Greed is killing the planet, and it’s killing us. Both physically — through cancer or diabetes or heart disease — and mentally, evidenced by the current and continually growing crisis of mental health, with the World Health Organization highlighting depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

Our hearts don’t comply with False Promises

I believe in our hearts we know there’s more. We feel beyond superficiality, distraction and comfort. Our hearts don’t comply with False Promises. Our guts don’t really believe in Quick Fixes. Dissonance may seep through in the sense of subtle discontent, low-level restlessness or the distant feeling “something” isn’t right.

For some, it bursts from the subconscious as depression or panic attacks, leading to breakdown. Disoriented and gasping for breath, these moments can be a breakthrough in noticing the dissonance between both Tripartites.

A psychological crisis makes us question the existential. This gifts us the opportunity to question the source of our suffering. Consequently, it may become clear the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism leads away from our innate nature. The profundity of this realisation is life changing. Suddenly, moving towards the challenging terrain of the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment, rejecting cultural values to unlearn and discover the values residing within, is essential.

The Responsibility of Happiness

Pay close attention to how you respond to this statement: you are completely responsible for your happiness. How does it feel? Chances are there’s a subtle knowing, perhaps detectable as an excitable murmur from distant awareness. Chances are, to some extent it’s obscured by fear. Taking responsibility for our own happiness means embracing the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment. That’s because we have zero control over the external.

The Tripartite of Hypercapitalism is enticing because it places responsibility for happiness outside of ourselves. Our worth and and well being dependends on what we consume, our status, power, material success, or how we compare to other individuals. Factor in Quick Fixes, Comfort and False Promises, and you can why the majority are pawns in this futile pursuit.

Not only does the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism make the False Promise of happiness. It promises immortality.

The Ultimate False Promise

“We do not realize that our so-called love and concern for the individual is simply the other face of our own fear of death or rejection.” — Alan Watts.

The Tripartite of Hypercapitalism is shiny. Pristine. Perfect. It’s iPhone augmented reality, Kim Kardashian’s photoshopped Instagram selfie. It’s the unspoken implication of the Fountain of Youth. Immortality is vital for hypercapitalism, because we cannot exchange currency from beyond the grave. It’s Alan Watts’ insight on the ego and fear of death applied to the cultural ego epidemic.

When we buy into immortality and bite Apple’s forbidden fruit — whether in money exchange or mentally complying with its ideology — we cut ourselves off from the nature of the soul. Death is inevitable. Yet the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism promises the undeliverable: follow its ideology, play the game, and you’ll escape death.

Ego Death And Denial

ego death
Hypercapitalism thrives on the denial of death.

From anti-aging creams to portrayals of bodily perfection, the fear of decay scares us into investing. How many of us, if we knew we would die on Saturday, would care about Black Friday’s mega discounts? Faced with death we’d seek Truth. The greater intelligence within would give no option — our gaze would divert from the screen.

I’ve witnessed friends cry through dismay at the aging process on 21st birthdays. While that’s extreme, most of us deny death to some degree. This widespread delusion is romanticised by celebrity culture. The so-called 27 Club can be viewed through hypercapitalism as a promise of eternal youth. Those who’ve passed have become immortaly trapped within Spotify libraries, Netflix catalogues, passages read in Kindle’s dim backlight.

Viewed through the ego epidemic, this is not surprise. A common spiritual inscription is to “die before you die” to reach enlightenment. This isn’t a physical death — it’s the death of what the spiritual seeker saw themselves to be. When attachments die, freedom follows. But denial of life’s impermanence comes from fear. It enslaves us.

A Metaphor For The Totality Of The Earth

Let’s expand our awareness to the totality of Earth. Viewing the Earth as one organism, one being, it’s safe to say the Earth is sick. This sickness is the ego epidemic. Viewed on a global scale, Trump’s election fits this epidemic. He is a caricature of the ego’s fragility, fear, self-preservation and sense of destructive individuality. Brexit is another indication of the ego epidemic, driven by fear, pride and an extreme sense of isolation.

We are cells, with the ability to heal

When we gain clarity and ditch the junk we’ve been conditioned to believe, we realise working together isn’t a choice — it’s the only way of being. We are all part of one organism, the Earth. We can view this scaled down to the human organism. When we are wounded, our cells work together to heal us. To keep us alive, our heart doesn’t see itself better than our arteries and refuse to pump blood. An intelligence greater than the component parts is at work. The same goes for the world. We are cells, with the ability to heal.

The Innate Quality Of Human Experience

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T. S. Eliot

The Tripartite of Genuine Contentment gives us so, so much more. But, paradoxically, “more” is really “less.” One of the perplexities of the culture of hypercapitalism is how we are encouraged to seek qualities in the external that naturally reside within. Instead of consuming more and more, we need is to strip away the junk. We need to connect to our spiritual core, which contains an endless, vibrant supply of all the qualities we seek.

We cannot embrace both Tripartites at once. Embracing one means rejecting the other. Of course, we may oscillate between the two on our journey. But if we turn our attention to the Tripartite of Genuine Contentment, we’re rejecting the Tripartite of Hypercapitalism. Not only are we turning towards a path requiring time, effort, change and challenge, we’re actively rejecting Quick Fixes, Comfort and False Promises.

We reject culture. We reject everything we think we know. We embrace the uncertainty of challenge. We refuse to conform. In today’s world, this is a courageous move indeed. But it is essential to fully realise our potential to experience joy and deep contentment. It is essential to actualise our true human nature, to destroy invisible shackles. It is essential for the sake of the planet. And it is essential to be free.

Who Looks Outside Dreams, Who Looks Inside Awakes

One of the biggest rebellions of hypercapitalism is to look within for Truth. “Who looks outside dreams,” said Carl Jung. “Who looks inside awakes.” The world is a reflection of perception. Reality is a consensus perception, a shared agreement. Currently this agreement is filtered through ego. But once awakened, hypercapitalism loses its grip. Reality changes. The illusion is exposed. But then what? What lies beyond the illusion?

We need a bigger yes to shake us from apathy. We have to explore the richness of the human experience and feel it for ourselves. What happens when more of us awaken? What happens when masses find stillness within, spread compassion, love, joy, peace, harmony? What world can we create, what consensus reality can we manifest, if the collective perception sees the Earth as sacred?

Awakening to Truth is not an elusive mystery. Unlike capital or power, it cannot be saved for the 1%. We have the blueprint. We’ve had it for thousands of years. With the rise of technology, the blueprint is more accessible than ever.

When we experience our true nature as human beings as part of one organism, working together isn’t a choice — it’s the only option. Collectively transcending the ego epidemic and rejecting hypercapitalism isn’t just a nice ideology, it’s a crucial leap required in our evolution of consciousness.

If this switch is possible for one, it’s possible for all. And if it’s possible for all, the world can change.