Jedi can feel the Force

Jedi are Force sensitive people, and are experts at feeling energy. Our senses and our scattered minds can block us from feeling the Force, but it’s always there. Jedi are equally sensitive to dark energy or negative energy, and know how to avoid it and to protect themselves from it.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The fictional Jedi were indeed experts at feeling energy. Due to a strong connection to the Force they were able sense when things were not right. For example Jedi were usually able to detect a trap before they walked in to one. They were also able to identify those that carried a lot of negative energy and were particularly sensitive to the Dark Side.

In the spiritual traditions and religions of the world there are many examples of Prophets, Saints, Mystics and Sages who were extremely sensitive to the Divine source. They were able to commune with that source through prayer and contemplation.

 

Like attracts Like

The old adage “birds of a feather flock together” rings true. People are generally drawn to like minded people. In almost any social setting people will naturally gravitate towards people who are similar in outlook and interests. People also unconsciously gravitate to people who have the same or a higher vibrational energy than themselves. Vibrational energy is a word used to describe positive energy; a person’s overall  state of being. A person that has lower vibrational energy is essentially denser; they have lower physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being than a person with higher vibrational energy.

A person with low vibrational energy usually feels it and their life may reflect it too. For example they may suffer poor health, emotional turmoil and a string of unfortunate events. Like energy attracts energy. If we surround ourselves with negative people and allow ourselves to be drawn in to poor choices our vibrational energy starts to drop and our life starts to suffer. The only way out of the situation is to change our surroundings and the people we associate with. Being surrounded by positive and motivated people tends to brush off on us. Our thoughts, words and actions largely determine our vibration. We make our own reality.

 

Good Apples Bad Apples

I have worked in many different jobs and have found that while one place may be similar to the next they can be worlds apart in atmosphere. If the people are positive the energy is infectious and the workplace is happy and productive. In negative work environments with poor morale and low energy the atmosphere can be stale and it weighs you down. These workplaces are generally less safe and have lower productivity and higher turnover. The people there are what make it positive or negative. Have you ever noticed that horrible places to work attract low quality candidates or never retain staff while great places to work keep their people longer and are far more happy and profitable?

In the Army I had one Platoon leader that did not tolerate “trouble makers”. He realized that one bad apple bringing dissent and negativity could infect the entire unit in no time and lower morale. Any sign of it and he stamped it out or ejected the cause. The Officer knew that on Operations such an element was a liability to team effectiveness and mission success.

 

Rising Up

Becoming sober I soon started to come out of a state of low vibration. Without even realizing it I was growing distant from the people and places that I had been close to during active abuse. As my life changed so did my interests. Old associations dropped off either because I no longer resembled them or I decided I did not want that influence in my recovery. I stopped wanting to go to bars and pubs preferring the outdoors and the company of sober people instead. My energy level was rising and it naturally sought out like energy.

Always be mindful of the people you choose to associate with and the places you frequent. Soon they become you. If a person makes you feel bad about yourself you had to ask if the relationship is worth it or whether you are better off without them.

If you hang around the barbershop, you’re bound to get a haircut.” – Unknown

Social Media

Social media is another domain through which negativity seems to flow unfettered in to our lives. Before we were able to choose who to allow in to our lives, now through the power of the internet we allow complete strangers to affect us. The stories of online harassment, trolling and bullying are alarming. Many people live in fear and despair at the online hostility they receive. Some take their own lives.

Almost every time I visit Social Media I am confronted by news which is designed to elicit a negative response from an audience, usually fear or rage. Hate is ubiquitous and the forum promotes it as a form of distraction or entertainment.  Always avoid places, people and situations that are negative and likely to drag you down if you can. Otherwise find ways to observe without judgement and objectively, this of course can be very hard when confronted with images of tragedy and injustice that demand our attention and ire.

 

Self Talk

Every thought, word and action that we have has an impact on our reality. If I think that I won’t be able to do something, I’m probably right. If I think I can achieve it, I’m probably right. There is truth in the old saying that a fight is already won or lost even before the fighter enters the ring. Physical prowess and fighting skills aside, mental attitude is everything. If a Fighter enters the ring in doubt and has failed in the mental game the odd are he will lose the bout. This is why competitive Fighters like Connor McGregor win fights, they believe themselves in to winning. They make it happen by training hard, sticking to a program and making sure their head is in the right space all of the time.

We all have bad days. There are times when life really sucks and it is a struggle to get out of bed. Lately I’ve been feeling this way. I’ve wondered what’s the point to all this? I look at my family, career, appearance, life and I start to convince myself that it is all lacking. I begin to wallow in self pity and embrace the early chill of depression. This is a red flag for me, something we in the program call a HALT moment. I have to confront my negativity and defeatist self talk and allow it to quietly exit. There is no need to grapple with it. I know fighting it will only make it stronger. Acknowledge your feeling and let them go with affection.

“Never saw a wild thing sorry for itself” – DH Lawrence

Gratitude

Now with negativity gone I fortify myself with a short prayer and I list five things to be grateful about. Gratitude leads to grace as we focus on what we have rather than the things we don’t. We realize that everything our negative thoughts were saying are false. I have a career, family, health and a life many people would envy. Gratitude dispels self pity. Another way to raise energy is through random acts of kindness. Move the focus from self to others and suddenly the little you seem to have is the surplus you can share.

 

Diet

Some foods lift our energy. It is important to know which foods affect our moods and energy levels. Processed foods will not have as much benefit as raw foods with little to no additives and preservatives. I substantially reduced sugar in my diet a few months ago and besides losing a few pounds I have more energy than before.

Alcohol is not good for us, regardless of whether we are alcoholic or not. The medical profession is undecided about what a safe amount of alcohol is. Many are now moving to the “none is best” position. As an alcoholic I abstain and stick to water or coffee. Each person will determine the diet that best works for them as well as the type, intensity and frequency of exercise suited to their needs.

 

Practice Mindfulness and Mediation

Mindfulness we can practice anytime. Meditation is practiced by the Jedi and recommended by the 12 Steps as a daily exercise. At least 20 minutes a day is ideal but even 10 minutes still provides great health benefits and helps raise our vibrational energy.

 

Laugh Often

Life need not be so glum and serious. Enjoy a good comedy now and then. Have a joke with friends and take time out to have fun and act silly. We are all still children at heart. Let the child out to play sometimes. Spend time in nature if you can. Get away from the computer. Pets are wonderful companions and will raise your energy as well as give you unconditional love. Laugh a lot.

“Good humor is a virtue” – Aristotle

 

The Key

We are all sensitive to the Force. Some of us block out that flow of energy in to our lives by being self absorbed or distracted by material wealth or other superficial wants. There are many simple things that we can do to get in touch with our inner selves. We can recharge our emotional and spiritual batteries by doing simple things.

Positivity is largely a choice however whether we have low vibrational energy or high is largely dependent on what we expose ourselves to and our own frame of mind. We can surround ourselves with positive people or we can fall in with negative influences. Our thoughts can be mindful enough to know when we are succumbing to negative self talk. We can choose to avoid people and places that make us feel bad about ourselves. The key to the good life is in our hands.

Jedi live in the present moment

Jedi live in the here and now, and don’t have stress about the future or the past. This isn’t as easy as it might seem because the mind always rushes to the future or past. Contact with the Living Force always occurs in the present moment. The mind is our tool, and we need to stop the incessant thinking and mental chatter that comes from the mind in order to be conscious of the present moment, and to live in the present moment. We need to control the mind, and not let the mind control us.

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

Like Air

Mindfulness is defined by the Webster dictionary as “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Other sources define mindfulness as pretty much the same thing, the practice of being present in the here and now. In other words being mentally right here in this present moment as you read these words. Mindfulness is nothing more than that. If we still our mind for a minute and sense every quiver, every sensation in our body without judgement. If we allow thoughts to pass like clouds without engaging them. We are completely aware of what is happening inside and outside of ourselves with each passing breath, that is mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives.
It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.
We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources
for insight, transformation, and healing”.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is a word that has a lot of connotations and brings up a lot of imagery like meditating monks, yoga on the beach or a child humming while drawing shapes. All of these things are mindfulness in action. The word is also a cliché.

In recent years the term has become a buzz word in marketing, entrepreneurship, leadership and the health industry. Thousands of books and magazine articles have been written on the health benefits of Mindfulness and hundreds more on how to be mindful. Entire shelves and racks in book shops and magazine stores are full of coloring books that promote mindful practices by sitting for a few minutes a day shading in shapes with colored pencils.

Psychologists refer their clients to courses and apps that teach and guide them through mindfulness techniques. There is mindfulness techniques offered for all activities, cooking, cleaning, running, walking, child raising, working and breathing. The sheer genius of business to make a multi-billion industry out of Mindfulness astounds me. Since Eckhart Tolle penned the “Power of Now” the mindfulness craze has touched just about everyone in the west.

I have friends who are lifelong Buddhists. They watch the current phenomena with despair and  bemoan the rampant commercialization of Mindfulness. They feel that a noble practice has been hijacked for profit. The idea that someone could do something as audacious as sell mindfulness for vast profits seems insane. It is like selling air.

 

The Past

What many people don’t realize is that mindfulness has been around for a very long time. In fact it is part of our makeup. The Eastern and Western philosophies and spiritual traditions have advocated mindfulness and the power of living in the Now for millennia. Mindfulness is no mystery, people just don’t live in the present. Our minds are perched in the past as we ruminate on events or regrets.

We ask ourselves “why” and berate ourselves for mistakes as if we could turn the clock back and make things right. Of course we can’t and to think this way is a form of insanity. The best we can do is learn from the past and resolve not to make the same mistakes again. We can and should make amends for past mistakes if we can. If we can’t we should learn to forgive ourselves and others and move on with our life

Listing the wrongs I had to done to people in my past and seeking to make amends was a Step I took in my first year of recovery. It was one of the hardest but also the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was compelled to face my role in past grievances and let the blame on others go. Grievances, blame and grudges against people and organizations were forgotten. I started to realize where I had made mistakes and burned bridges. Resentment seemed like such a foolish notion and I was able to forgive and let go. Those I approached and confessed my wrongs were open armed and understanding.

I began to realize the value of sincerity and honesty. Humility without self depreciation and mutual respect for others became virtues more valuable than gold. I realized my resentments and belligerency and refusal to forgive and forget had cost me many opportunities. Determined to place it all behind me I moved on with my life. The past is there as a resource. The best lessons in life are learned from the worst mistakes. I don’t reside in the past now but I won’t forget it either.

The Future

We also tend to compromise the present by projecting our minds in to the Future. We are always heading somewhere. Goals and targets are set. Preconceived conditions are made that determine what our imagined state of happiness or fulfillment is. We set conditions like; “Once I get that promotion things will be perfect” and “I’ll finish my degree and life will be great” or “Once I make a couple of million I’ll retire and be happy”. These statements make two assumptions about the future which are largely out of our control; that these events will occur as planned and that we’ll derive a perpetual state of fulfillment, happiness or contentment on reaching that goal.

Obviously life does not always play along with our plans and when they do we find ourselves no better off than when we started. The Promotion provides more money and perks but has more responsibility and stress. The degree allows us to do other things but life is anything but “great” because we can’t start the career the course promised or we get jaded as reality bites. We eventually make enough money to retire and find ourselves too old to “really live” or we retire early and find that life is not so green on the other side of the day to day grind.

The Lure of Tomorrow

When I was in the Army I volunteered for a posting to a country in Africa. I decided that the posting would provide invaluable experience and would be worth two years of my life. Within a few months I was counting the days and months down to the end of my rotation. I dreamed of what it would be like when I got back home and imagined wonderful things. Depression set in as the months dragged on and the tempo ranged from full alert on long range patrols to days of mind numbing barrack duties.

Eventually the day arrived when I got on a plane and flew out. The elation was short lived. Months later I was wishing I was back. I hear veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq say the same thing, wanted to be home and then wanted to be back. For two years I lived with my head in some place other than the here and now.

I can still remember laying in the desert under a sky filled with stars and hearing jackals yelping in the distance. The burning sunsets over a parched land in all its splendor. The call of wild birds in the mountain forests and the cries of Baboons. Mountains that rose above the desert capped with clouds and covered in ancient forests. A train of camels being led by men wearing skirts gilded with large belts bearing long curved swords. Images that haunt me to this day and yet at the time I was utterly miserable and longed for a better tomorrow.

One of the reasons alcoholism is so spiritually debilitating is because it keeps us anywhere but in the Now. We don’t want to face the reality of the present moment. So we drink to escape to an imagined past or a better future.

Living in the Now

What is a modern day cliché has actually been known for thousands of years. Life happens in the here and now. Not in the past and not in some time in the future. The past is gone beyond recall and the future is uncertain. Every moment we find ourselves in is the Now. There is no time other than the Now which really matters. We plan for the future in the Now, we regret or remember the past in the Now. Our mind may be trying to drag us to the future, our Ego may be ruminating on the past but all of this is happening in the present moment. Every moment that we are absent is a moment lost.

The benefits of living in the Now are well documented. Everyone knows that stress is a killer. Research has shown that mindfulness practice leads to lower stress and anxiety levels. Lower stress in turn has a benefit to cardiovascular health, sleep and immunity. We become more in tune with our emotions and learn to deal with them objectively and constructively. Our senses become more refined, we begin to notice the world around us more.

Listening to others becomes easier. We are able to stop and appreciate the sights and sounds of life. Food is tasted rather than being hurriedly shoved in to our mouths. We become more conscious of our body in a healthy way and start to care for it more.

The things that upset us or caused us anxiety and depression in the past no longer have that effect. We are more resilient and accepting of life’s vicissitudes. Relationships with other people improve and as we become more self accepting we start to appreciate others more and are more empathetic. We find ourselves calm in the midst of a raging storm. Who would not want that?

You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day
– unless you’re too busy –
then you should sit for an hour.

– Old Zen adage –

Practice

Meditation is a mindfulness exercise however one can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. While driving a car, brushing the dog, washing the dishes, listening to music, playing with the kids and in fact doing just about any activity. It is simply paying attention to what you are doing. Commit your mind to the task with intent. If you are washing the dishes you are only washing the dishes and nothing else. Feel the water on your hands, the hardness of the porcelain and cutlery. Hear the sounds it makes. Use all of your senses.

Allow mental intrusions to pass without engaging them. You can focus on the breath, the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen. If thoughts distract you simply return to the breath. There is a saying that when an old man sits, he only sits, there is nothing else going on; this is the essence of mindfulness.

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

Sanskrit proverb

Certain Jedi are stronger with the Force than others.

Jedi, in general, are individuals who are strong with the Force. The Force is with them. However, the Jedi believe that the Force is extra strong in certain Jedi, much more so than in others.

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

Have you ever met or known anyone who gave off a real energy? You could almost sense them as they walked in to the room. They seemed to have an aura, a presence about them which was tangible and powerful. Some people call it chi, prana or chakra energy. A strong vibrational energy seems to reside within these people, it is almost electric. Regardless whether there is some esoteric source of that energy, it is undeniable. I can think of recent great leaders who had a certain energy that drew people to them; Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Apple CEO Steve Jobs to name three. The Dalai Lama and Pope Francis also both have a strong human presence that lifts people and gives hope.

There is no doubt that one persons aura will differ to another persons. You can almost sense when someone close to you has low or high energy. A complete stranger passing in the street can give off a strong positive or a negative energy. You instinctively know when to avoid eye contact or cross over to the other side of the street. We sense “gut feel”, intuition, instinct, whatever you want to call it.  I believe when I was drinking my inner energy was extremely low, much lower than it is now. It’s not just appearance, there is something deeper than that, an aura.

Do people have an intrinsic energy field that envelopes them and flows within them along the chakras of the body? Is it the Force? Does the statement hold validity that some people are stronger with the Force than others? Do I need to be strong in the Force to call myself a Jedi? Can I cultivate my Force strong enough to be able to perform telekinesis, telepathy and foresight?

 

Force Sensitive

Having a “Force potential” was a requisite attribute for entry in to the Jedi Order in the Star Wars fiction. Jedi Knights were constantly scouting the galaxy for force sensitive children to recruit to the order. They became a type of Galactic Janissary. Often reluctantly they were given up by parents and removed from their home worlds. Younglings were taken to Coruscant to learn the ways of the Force. Qui-Gon Jinn found Anakin on Tatooine and realized the boys Force potential immediately. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda were all able to achieve immortality by unifying their consciousness with the Force. The Force was stronger in them than in other Jedi.

But what about people? What about the you and me?

Not long ago people were talking about Indigo Children. There was a belief that children born in this millennium might have stronger intelligence, intuition and psychic powers than previous generations. They would be more sensitive to the omnipresent spiritual energy pervading all. New age sites proclaimed that these children would herald in a new age of enlightenment. I will keep an open mind but I am yet to see evidence that the “iGeneration” is much different to Generation Y or Gen X other than an unhealthy relationship with mobile devices. This may seem cynical but where are the Indigo children now?

 

Intuition

Some people have extremely strong intuition. People can sense things, some more than others. Some people can sense when something bad has happened or is about to happen. They can feel “a disturbance in the Force”. Others seem to have a power of precognition of future events either in visions or in dreams.

I accept that there are many things which cannot be explained by science, at least not yet. There are people out there who have a gift that goes beyond a simple demanding presence or charisma, these people are psychic. People I know are like that and believe it or not it’s just one of those things they got without asking for it. There is no big deal about it, they just deal with it, good or bad.

 

The Medium

A few years ago I went to a public event held by a well known Medium. I was skeptical but my wife dragged me along because there were things going on in our house that seemed odd. She was convinced that we had a Haunting and wanted it to stop. Despite attempts to dismiss the “disturbances” or explain them in rational terms I had to admit much of it could not be explained.  I could no longer deny it. I recalled my time in Africa, the superstitions of the locals which I had ignored despite witnessing things that could not be easily explained. It was like jumping down the rabbit hole of the unknown, nothing made sense. Perhaps this famous Medium could provide answers. Reluctantly I agreed and bought tickets to the sell out event.

About 20 minutes in to the session the Medium looked our way and asked me if I knew a person by a certain name. I replied that I did and shifted in my chair uncomfortably looking for a place to hide as 300 pairs of eyes fell on me. The Medium then proceeded to tell me all about this person, my dead family members, events in my past that no one knew about and long held fears and doubts that had plagued me for life. In a not too subtle way he warned me about alcohol and said “you are perched on a wall and about to fall off”.  I listened with mute shock trying to understand how this was possible.

The Medium told me that I had come there today skeptical about the whole thing. I was there about “disturbances” in my house and told me what they were, who was causing them and when they would stop. He was 100% right about everything. Then he passed over me like a cloud and fell on to someone else in the crowd.

Two hours later I was sitting in the car still stunned by what had happened and trying to figure it out. Was my wife pulling some sort of twisted joke on me through some sort of elaborate set up? No, the Medium had said things she didn’t know about and had floored her with some statements about her family. Then it hit me, the simplest explanation was that this normal looking guy in a T-shirt and pair of jeans could talk to spirits. He was simply a Medium, someone sensitive enough to channel messages from the other side. The realization changed everything about the way I view the world and reality. About a week later I fell off the perch and started the descent in to another dimension of alcoholism. Everything that the Medium said would happen, happened.

 

Harness the Force

Seven years later and I have been sober for five years. I remember the disturbances in my home very well. If anything I had chosen to ignore them because I could not bear to accept a possibility that challenged my views. In sobriety I feel more in tune to my surroundings than ever before. Meditation provides further clarity. I can’t use Force powers to move objects but with exercise and martial arts training I find myself able to do things I thought were confined to a much younger version of myself. There is a burning life force in me now that was dim a few years ago.  Is this the “Force” though?

Perhaps being strong with the Force is like being psychic, you just have it like other people are naturally talented with music or maths. Think Mozart and Einstein. Does a “Force potential” reside only within a small percentage of the population or is it something that all people have but few ever come to realize? My feeling is that it is the latter. We are all born with “psychic” ability, we all carry the Force. Some of us are better at expressing it than others. Most people unconsciously suppress the abilities described in the “Indigo Children”. If it resides within us, hidden or latent then we have the ability to awaken the Force within. The choice is whether we want to and how we decide to harness the Force.

Sometimes things still happen in the house which more annoy us than worry us. There is an energy which is hard to define but it is there. Someone explained that people with strong intuitions are sensitive to psychic activity. I don’t know if I’m Force sensitive or whether I’ll be able to use the Force like a Jedi out the movies. I’m keeping an open mind. Fortunately an open mind is a great asset to have when one is recovering. Recovery has taught me one important lesson, the Force is definitely with me. I have no doubt about that.

Silence

There are worse things than Silence” – Padmé Amidala

 

The Silent Cure

In silence there is peace and serenity. To be silent is to be like a still calm lake. Nothing disturbs us on the surface of things or within. Imagine being alone on that lake. The sun is shining. The only disturbance being the slight rock as you shift your weight. The hum of a passing dragon fly. That is what silence sounds like.

We also feel silence. By being silent we connect with something deep within ourselves. The watcher within emerges as the mind clears of thoughts and we become present in the moment. As our breath rises and falls we feel ourselves in tune with nature, the pulse of life. We are part of the cosmos on a tiny boat.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

 

The Inner Silence

The world is full of noise. To escape the hum of civilization one must either seek solitude far from home or withdraw within themselves.

Seneca once said that we could escape to a mountain retreat or a secluded place on the coast. Unless silence is within us, we bring our mental noise with us. One can be on Mars in a lifeless wilderness and still not be in silence. Silence is within, it is not just to hold one’s tongue but to silence the mind and heart as well.

If our emotions are in turmoil, so is our mind and we feel forced to speak. Often it is in silence that we find the inner peace we seek. In silence we find the right things to do and say.

 

Speak softly

How often had we said a thing and wished we had held our tongue instead. Once words ill spoken leave our mouth they are beyond recall. Thoughts and feelings too can betray us as we yield to turbulent emotions.

To be Jedi is to know when to speak and when to hold silence. Emotions can be tempered, we can choose when to speak and what to say. While anger, fear, exuberance, impatience and annoyance may rise and fall within us whether we choose to energize those emotions is up to us. We decide how play out those emotions. You can keep calm and silent when angered or resort to harsh words and rash action.

“Silence is a lesson learned from the many sufferings of life” – Seneca

Silence is Golden

Jedi know the value of inner and outer silence. In recovery too we learn that silence is golden. We meditate to restore our balance and recharge ourselves. When others speak we listen in silence and without judgement. We also speak with clarity and purpose and express our thoughts calmly. Like Jedi we can guard our words but we do not ignore our convictions. Sometimes more is said with less.

Speech is silver and silence is golden. – Thomas Carlyle

Once upon a time I feared silence. Even as I sought to isolate I needed noise around me. If there was none my mind was agog with rampant activity. I could be alone but with enough alcohol there was a noisy party going on inside my head. Around people I spoke without thought or care. My words betrayed jumbled thoughts, anger, fear and hate. The more I spoke the worse I made things.

The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish” – Robert Greene

In conversation I barely heard the other person. I would cut in and talk over people. Ignore their point of view and use words to shore up my position. I betrayed my immaturity and inexperience. I would blow opportunities, put people off side and build obstacles for myself. As I dug a deeper hole I became resentful and found respite in isolation.

 

Return to Silence

These days I seek silence often. Finding turmoil and noise within me I settle it down. When I want to say something, I ask myself like Cato did in the Roman Senate “Is this better left unsaid”? Will silence serve me better than to speak my turn? If not speak mindfully and with confidence. To be silent could be a disservice. Sometimes speaking up is a duty.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King

Today we are driven to be heard. There is a perception that to be silent is to not exist. Social Media demands our attention and we want to be heard. We join the din of the forum. Everyone is yelling but no one is listening.

Our ancestors lived in silence compared to us. Life was closer to nature and simpler. Words had more value. The ancients would find our world confusing, frightening and distracting. The natural state is to reside in tranquility. Our hearts yearn peace. There we find truth.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Find Silence amidst the Storm

Imagine a still lake in the mountains if you will or a calm sea at sunrise. There is barely a ripple on the face of the water. You can hear your own breathing. A soft breeze touches your face. The silence encompasses all for an eternal moment. The light of sunrise falls on distant hills. Even the birds are subdued in the peace and serenity of the morning.

Close your eyes. Look into your mind and listen intently. Let the voices and echoes fade in to silence. Passing like clouds in the wind. Peer in to your core where the seat of emotions resides. Feel what is there. Let any tension in your body and residual emotions relax and release. Let go of any pain and fear. Relax in to the silence. Hold the moment.

You are one with the cosmos and one with all creation. You are a child of the Force.

Question

What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?” Padme Amidala, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

During “Clone Wars” series the plot by Chancellor Palpatine to undermine the war effort and manipulate the Republic through deception and subterfuge is revealed piece by piece. Like a jigsaw that eventually reveals the face of Darth Sidious the true picture begins to unfold. The veil is finally removed and it becomes revealed that the enemy was within the gates all along.

Nothing was ever as it seemed, all was an illusion and everyone was being played. I love the “Clone Wars” but sometimes wonder how blind the Republic and especially the Jedi could be to not have seen it before everything went to hell in “Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith”. Didn’t anyone on Coruscant but Senator Padme Amidala have the presence of mind to ask the question? Padme was after all in the worst kept secret of the entire Republic. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…well almost always.

Sleep Walking

How often do we open our eyes and see things as they truly are? We realize that for years we have been misled or fooled in to believing one thing over another. For many people the revelation can be life shattering and turn their lives upside down, conversely it can also be liberating and free them from living a lie.

Imagine being in a relationship built on a lie. Many people remain together but they are scared of losing what they think they have when in fact it does not exist. Love does not exist in a loveless relationship that is meant to be based on mutual affection and love. Worse, people remain attached even though it means a life of pain and suffering. The reality of domestic abuse whether physical or emotional is an example. The heartbreak of co-dependency being an another example where people are tied together because of an addiction.  The question “why” has to be asked.

That starts with waking up to reality and letting go of denial.

The Fog of Ignorance

Alcoholism made me a cynic and a skeptic, I would question everything but myself and reserve suspicion of even the most innocent of intentions. If a friend came up to me and said, “I got sober because I put my faith in a Higher Power”, I would have laughed along like it was a good joke and then tried to ply him with booze. I would then have got resentful because deep down I knew that he has something I want but can’t (won’t) get, I would tell myself that he “thinks he is better than me” and reason “if he doesn’t want to break bread (get drunk) with me, then to hell with him”.

Sitting back and exploring the personal implications of what he had said would not enter my mind. Instead I would create my own reality and color that with arrogance, anger and resentment. I would dismiss it without any consideration. This is the type of person that soon finds himself alone.

Asking questions is always a good start. Like Padme we should be critical of self as well as others. In her statement she is actually making the admission that she is part of the system, not someone standing to the side in opposition or neutral but as an active player. Yes they have been all fooled by the insidious penetration of the Sith in to the Republic but they had also bought in to the rhetoric and had blindly marched along, especially Anakin. War does that to people.

The Nazis in Germany rose to power in similar fashion riding on a wave of post War discontent. They built confidence and trust with the people over years before the reality of what they had facilitated became apparent. Dissent and opposition had been silenced and the mass psyche manipulated to giving executive power to a Dictator who killed millions. We read our history and we wonder, how could they have been so blind to fall for it? How could we let it happen again?

Waking Up

Recovery removes denial and reveals us in ways we would rather not know. We can see who we are as clearly as if someone held a mirror up to our lives. Recovery  changes who we are and very often the people close to us do not like those changes. With clarity we are also able to perceive the world with fresh eyes and we may come to the conclusion that our situation is not right and we need to change our relationships, our job and interests as well as our habits.

Change is never easy and I have met some people who regretted changing their lives for the better because it forced them to make decisions that they did not want to make. Life was hard before but then it seems to get harder and more complicated as we set higher standards for ourselves and adopt principles that others cannot accept. They must choose and so must we.

I know the sting of disillusionment very well. It seems I have gone through life anticipating disillusionment with people, place and circumstance. As an alcoholic it is to be expected, we tend to project perfection on everything but ourselves and when things don’t go our way we become resentful and allocate blame.

In sobriety however we apply principles that underpin our recovery. This requires objectivity and the acceptance of reality, we no longer live in a fool paradise but see things as they are. If a relationship is healthy we value it, if a relationship is toxic we do not lie to ourselves and claim that it is “fine”. We stick to our principles and the number one principle is  rigorous honesty with self and others.

The Jedi Method

Disclaimer, I can’t and I won’t give relationship advice, that is not my intent here. The point is simply to avoid knowingly being dishonest with ourselves and others. This of course means that sometimes we must make painful decisions. Let us not forget that the intent of the 12 Steps is to recover. One of the steps requires that we seek to make amends where it would not cause harm to self or others (Step 9). This means we must review our life in an objective and honest manner and determine what our intent is before deciding on an action. The Real World Jedi provide a solution to this conundrum in the Jedi Method (Trout, 2012).

Jedi Intent + Jedi Action = Jedi Outcome

Intent

What is our motivation behind any decision? Is it selfish, self centred or self seeking? Is our intent virtuous? Are we being objective and reasoned? If the intent is in accordance with our personal system of values then it is usually on solid ground.

 

Action

Deciding what to actually do in any situation will be largely determined by the desired outcome. The adage “means do not justify the ends” applies; one cannot undertake a course of action that is reprehensible, unlawful or unethical even in the name of a noble cause. We cannot take a course of action at the expense of others unless it is wholly justified. This principle can be hard to swallow but for us it is paramount for our sobriety. Any action we take we can sleep comfortably with and not have to justify to ourselves or others.

 

Outcome

Working out the outcome can be difficult. Take a scenario, a person is in an unhappy relationship at home. She has quit drinking and is maintaining her sobriety, her partner quit for a while but relapsed and continues to get drunk. She has tried to get him to go to meetings but he won’t and doesn’t want her to either. This places an inordinate amount of pressure on the relationship. One is working, the other is spending and not working and arguments are making an unhappy household worse.

The person in recovery decides enough is enough, no more begging, no more excuses or tears. She is grabbing her stuff and walking out. In my view the intent is solid, the action is reasonable under the circumstances but the outcome is largely unknown. That is, we may know the short term outcome but what of the long-term consequences, the direct and indirect impacts?

Will he improve in her absence? Does this mean life will get harder for her now being single and homeless? There are consequences for every action which is why it is important to carefully consider every possible outcome before proceeding. The mistake is to abandon the cause because of the fear of uncertainty, we must be agile enough to adapt without compromising our principles. Sometimes we have to take a difficult course of action that serves our best interests we can still make sure that decision is consistent with our values.

 

Setting Priorities

In my world there are three main priorities they are the “The Force”, Sobriety, Family. If I lose my faith in my Higher Power and forget that my recovery is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition I will drink again and lose my sobriety. If I lose my sobriety I ultimately lose my family, job, home and health. I can however lose my family, job, home,health and family without losing my sobriety because it is not contingent on those things, it is contingent on my Faith.

One of the reasons Anakin lost the plot was because he had his priorities upside down and feared losing the things he loved. Unable to be honest with himself or others he was easy prey to the Dark Side. We can never be certain if the Jedi Council were aware of his marriage to Padme Amidala, another deception which came at a price. The tragedy is that lies and deception destroyed them all. Its a recurring theme in mythology, in Star Wars and sometimes in real Life.

My focus then is working on what I need to stay mentally, physically and spiritually fit and sober. In recovery we only really have three things that are ours to keep or lose; our mind, our Faith and our choice. Everything else is largely out of our control. That doesn’t mean that we should not care about what we treasure in our lives but we should always keep eyes open and to quote Larry King on RT; Question More.

Ask the Right Questions and Demand the Right Answers” – Larry King