I want to make some positive suggestions on how to transcend and alleviate the stress of cultural self destruct by enjoying the moment. There are probably infinite ways to transcend a stressful lifestyle but here are some suggestions that I enjoy:
Growing, making, eating food
At the moment Sarah and I are in daily squash rapture. After nature’s excess with the pumpkins last year (4 got composted eventually), we decided to grow an assortment of squashes. From planting the seed, nurturing the little plants, watching them romp across the beds, enjoying the huge yellow flowers and the pleasure they give the bees, staring in rhapsody at the unique fruits they produce to the delight of picking, cooking and eating them, it is an experience without comparison. Eating food, like sex, is one of the very few activities which employ all of the senses and can be completely transcendent. ‘Growing your own’ puts you in touch with nature and its rhythms and seasons, increasing your awareness and contact with nature and the universe and helping you trancend a stressful lifestyle.
Physical work with nature
I find something as simple as sawing wood, mucking out a stable or digging soil to be an intensely pleasurable experience. It is so ‘clean’. You harvest the wood, you get warm. You saw the wood (no chainsaws here), you get warm again. You burn the wood – you get warm again in front of the fire. I have had many moments over the years where, totally absorbed in physical work with nature, lost for a time, transcended, I ‘come too’ and re-discover myself as an independent entity. Just sheer physical enjoyment of your body, your ‘animal’ nature, in sport or play or work can tune you into the universe and help you to transcend a stressful lifestyle.
Working with your hands is also a way to become one with the universe to transcend stress. You can see this in pottery, watercolour painting and a whole host of art and craftwork where the creator has ‘transcended’ and become a vessel directly channelling the energies of the universe into the material through their own unique physiology. It is nothing short of fantastic when this happens to you and for a short moment you become ‘the one’.
Practising a sense of wonder
Last night we came home late and the crisp, autumn air made the stars light up. The Milky Way unfurled like a huge ribbon across the sky and uncountable pinpricks of twinkling light glittered above. Excuse me while I wax rhapsodic but if you consciously realise each one of those pinpricks of light is another sun then that pretty quickly puts things in perspective. You are Nothing. The Universe is Infinite. Simply expand your nothingness into infinity !
Enjoying time with children and animals
Children, dogs, cats and other animals are quite naturally ‘in the moment’. Join in with their world and play their games with them. Pretty soon you will discover a universe of fun filled hours covered in mud and you will have forgotten about your stress for a while, your bunched muscles and hardened attitudes will start to relax and you will transcend your stressful lifestyle – even if just for a moment.
Another way to spend fun filled hours covered in mud, many sports can help you to connect with a sense of ‘one-ness’ through sheer physicality. From one-ness achieved through ‘Zen and the Art of Archery’ (mastery of craft, skill, sport) to the natural endorphins released through physical exertion. The more you put in, the more you get out – sports can leave you not only feeling (and looking) fit, but give you a deep connection and a feeling of unity through your body. There are many varieties of sport to choose from, experiment with what you can find and see what suits you.
I used to enjoy ‘freelance’ dancing but someone turned me on to Salsa a few years ago and I searched for 2 years for a suitable class (this is Cornwall). Discovering this dance led me to book my only ever long-haul flight and go to Cuba to learn from the natives. I will never forget Raquel and Yodanke who taught me Salsa and Son. Thank you so much. Talk about pure existence in the moment – I love dancing Salsa like nothing else. For me this is my favourite way to transcend stress. Maybe Salsa isn’t your dance but there are so many different forms of dance there is just bound to be one that suits you. Know that sometimes I go slightly ‘Skippy’ (the bush kangaroo) and my left leg wants to dance the hornpipe and my right leg want to do the Scottish Country Sword Dance. Know that I have a tendency towards Whirling Dervish. Know that Sarah is very patient with me. I love to dance.
I have got this far writing this list and suddenly feel utterly blessed, because I can play the guitar. How many times has making music helped me transcend the everyday mundanity of ‘necessary’ existence. Music is a pure form of energy and creating it can take you into another dimension. Through making (and hearing) music you can transcend ordinary reality and become one with a universe of energy. Like dancing, there are many forms of music and many ways to create it. Percussive music, such as drumming can be deeply transformative, to strings to wind… Go on a search to ‘find your instrument’ and use it as a key to open the universe around you.
Singing, like music, has the power to transform not just yourself but those around you. Those of you lucky enough to have good voices, please sing more often. Those of you who are not so sure maybe sing to yourselves and not go on the X Factor. Or you could get some help or even adopt an instrument. Humming can be pretty good too. Harmonica anyone ?
When I first discovered Tantra, my ‘friend’ claimed to be a Tantrika but resolutely refused to tell me what it was about. So I enrolled on a weekend course with Leora Lightwoman (Diamond Light Tantra). It was simply the most amazing experience and completely beyond description. I have been on other courses with other teachers since then. It’s not what you think it is. It defies description. Go find out for yourself.
Following on from the last, your partner (if you have one to love) is a gateway to the universe. Through union with another it is a short step to union with everything.
Mixing with elemental forces
Filled with awe at the Grand Canyon (earth), amazed at the stars (air), lost in the playful flames or relaxed by the rhythm of ocean waves – the elements in their raw state have a profound effect on a being open to their influence. Find raw elemental places in tune with your being and go to them to surrender yourself.
To an extent all of the above are forms of ‘dynamic’ meditation. Many people practice Yoga, Tai chi, Qigong and other more formal forms of mediation and if this suits you it is a great way to open yourself to other ways of being ‘connected’.
The universe is always there, always waiting for you to be in it. The culture in which we exist seems contrived to separate you from being in tune with the universe. You do have a choice.