Monday, 11 August 2014

The Love Manifesto


“I always tell my friends to grab a pen and piece of paper. Boost up that lappie. Write down a list of what you need to be happy. Does love feature in it? Cross out everything else except for that. Make that your manifesto for life, and I promise you it will be one that lasts the test of YOUR time and time eternal.”
— Mickie Kent

I have been overwhelmed by the response to my "Can Love Truly Fix Us?" post, with registered professionals emailing in to thank me for what they have called a balanced article espousing the best in conventional and alternative treatments for psychological suffering that stems from physical and emotional trauma.

Naturally, sometimes our psychological problems are genetic or dependant on our developing time in the womb. But the truth is that the majority of us have these genetic dips, which can be traversed over by avoiding environmental triggers, or making sure we have a power-packed immune system by harmonising our life/work ethic into one that sees us marrying our emotional, psychical and psychological well-being together in an equal partnership of positivity.

How to recognise depression in yourself and others.

We mustn't underestimate the power the environment has on the plasticity of our humanity, and on all living things, great and small. A study in the United States suggests that ant colonies have their own personalities, which are shaped by the environment. Colonies of several hundred ants show consistent differences in the way they behave, just like individual people do. For example, a colony that explores more widely for food also tends to respond more aggressively to an intruder. It makes for fascinating reading.

I am constantly sharing snippets of stuff, especially when it can help us achieve harmony with our modern environments for mental and physical longevity, but we shouldn't be doing this ONLY when problems arise. It should be a lifestyle choice EARLY on (especially for women who are still not mothers). This lies at the heart of the way we should think about our health, especially when it comes to personalised medicine. Monitoring what's going on in our bodies with regular blood tests, being proactive rather than retroactive is always the best form of preventative medicine, and when challenges do arise, we'll be better prepared. We may not be able to second-guess WHAT is waiting around the corner, but we won't have to second-guess our ability to deal with it. We'll just roll up or sleeves, face it head on, and DEAL with it.

Achieving such a strong status is HARD, however. It's a long climb. Especially if we are "vulnerable" due to what the medical profession has labelled as brain disorders. And then there are more severe mental incapacities, such as Alzheimer's, and tough physical limitations, and sometimes both. Understanding that there are people "worse" off than ourselves isn't to belittle our own problems, but to put into perspective that with the correct coping mechanisms, none of these need to be a reason to quit life.

Every life has its input to bring to this stage, it's own unique sound to add to a chorus coloured with infinite diversity. I have an aunt on my mother's side who has Down's Syndrome, and she is the most vibrant, active member of her community that I know. She is the apple of my family's eye. The doctors had diagnosed her a short life span, but thanks to her zest for people and life, she is alive and kicking and LIVING well into her fifties.

I always have such girlie fun with my auntie when we get together at Christmas and Easter, and I couldn't imagine how dull my life would have been without knowing her. She is an inspiration to everybody who meets her, but she will scold you if you tell her that. To her, she's just enjoying life.

It was with this sort of background that I felt it was right to broach such difficult subjects in my previous post, because when we are in a dark place, we often forget that there can be light. To someone who suffers from depression, the search for happiness seems a childhood fairytale. Joy is Santa Claus. Or the Easter bunny. Or only real in the movies. But who would think that a legendary actor who portrayed a real-life doctor who believed in the healing power of laughter could only see a future so dark that he no longer wanted to live?

But that's what happened to Robin Williams. When the sixty-three year old comedian committed suicide apparently because of his depression, the issue hit the media spotlight. His final act of desperation, however, could save the lives of millions. According to projections from the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide will be linked to more deaths than HIV/Aids, heart disease and road injuries in Europe next year, while one in ten people grapple with depression. Although more women seem to be affected by depression, self-harm, suicide and addiction are problems that overwhelmingly afflict men. Now as a result of Williams' passing, many people will be discussing how to deal with the symptoms of depression, how to recognise it in others and how it can be treated. More needs to be done, though.

I was churning this over in my mind when one particular email from a reader about my "Can Love Truly Fix Us?" post caught my eye:

QuoteHi Mickie, my name is Deandra and I just want to say how much I look forward to your posts. I must say it's a breath of fresh air to read someone who isn't pushing a product or selling something, but just sharing. Some of your posts have been real life-changers for me. Eye-openers really. You seem to just condense everything into A-ha moments, that I finally "get" a lot of issues I couldn't before... and for which I paid money to get! I'm glad you finally did a post about mental issues, as this is something that affects me personally. But I was just curious, what is the one thing you would suggest for me that would help?"

In reply, I thought what would my auntie's one-word answer be?

Yes: Love CAN fix us

My auntie is a lover. She's been married for twenty-five years, her husband does not have Down's, and neither do her three children, and she is adored by her family and her wider community. She bakes for a local Down's charity in Cornwall, and gives inspirational talks at her children's school, becoming something of a celebrity amongst the teachers and children. If I were to ask her what her one word answer would be, it would certainly be love.

It's true. Way back when when the ancient Roman poet Virgil wrote omnia vincit amor, he knew it, too. It's what we're still discovering thousands of years later. Love transforms all things. It turns the conquerors into the conquered, and the conquered into conquerors.

Why else does life continue incarnate, but to love again and again, unifying as one in different ways? Ask yourself: What's your opinion of Virgil's phrase, "Love conquers all"? Does love, small, great and true love really mean there are no boundaries? That it defies both conditioning fear and circumstance, and at its most is eternal is the only light we need to get us through the dark?

What does your heart say? Currently you may find its voice subdued by all the darkness casting long shadows across our world. When we take a look at current events, on the surface they seem to disprove the theory that love does indeed conquer all. While life endangering epidemics knock at the door of our modern societies, global markets continue to wobble with US President Barack Obama authorising targeted air strikes in Iraq as its oil resources become threatened, the growing tensions with Russia turn into a trade war and Israel stop-starts targeted bombings in Gaza. It's been the same story spun for many decades now.

And as death and division en masse makes the drift towards authoritarianism more likely across whole regions and countries, it infects even our very own relationships back at home. The rattle of the chain shakes all its links. We find ourselves shouting at our loved ones, our coffee-maker, our car to "hurry-up" or "get moving". Our pets are having to figure out how to walk themselves. Even the most basic tasks become complicated, and we feel life is just draining out of us. Sound familiar?

If it does, in response to Deandra's email and as a practical application of my auntie's answer, I would say the one, best thing you can do is set aside some time to write up a love manifesto for yourself.

This useful "note-to-yourself" tip is a great way to begin simplifying your life, and stop over-scheduling and over-committing on things that devalue rather than bring value to you.

Find your life balance

Self-care is important in today's go-go-go, work-as-much-as-you-can, work-as-hard-as-you-can world. Life is too short to let it pass in a blur, especially for those of us blessed to be living in societies that cherish individual freedoms. Discovering the benefits of maintaining balance in your life will help you understand the value of other things, which will make your work, and more importantly your life much more rewarding.

Below are a few things you can do to escape the pressures of every day life and hopefully create a more balanced way of living. They may seem obvious but these guidelines can act as a simple reminder in your life that will encourage you to reclaim a healthy balance of work and life commitments - something we all need to do from time to time.

  1. Put your health first. When life is hectic, you need all the energy you can get, so drink plenty of water, make sure you're getting enough sleep, and eat healthy meals. Swap unhealthy food choices with more nutritious combinations and mood-boosting foods. Sometimes the tiniest tweaks can give your health an instant makeover. If you're feeling fit and healthy you are in a much better position to make the right decisions about balancing your life.
  2. Find time to exercise. Every one of us needs to reorganise our lives and re-prioritise our activities so that we have time to exercise. And when you're busy, maintaining your physical activity couldn't be more important. Exercising can give you that much needed me-time, and is definitely a great way to clear your mind, revitalise you body and alleviate the stress of every day life.

    Use yoga to manage your stress.

  3. Nurture relationships. Make time for relationships that you care about. Don't assume that a relationship will endure no matter what. Good relationships require care and maintenance so spend quality time with those you love, and feel the benefits it brings to your life.
  4. Make time for yourself. Take at least half an hour every day for yourself. Cut down on your smartphone stress. Don't eat lunch at your desk. Instead take a walk in the park, browse in a book shop, or go for a walk or a swim. It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive, just something that you will enjoy. This is said to be easier for women than for men, who find it difficult to be alone. If you do find solitude difficult, it helps to see your "me" time as a breather. It's about changing the scenery of your life by creating a sacred space free from distractions. This will refresh your senses and nurture incredible inner strength, allowing you to do something just for YOU.

    Self-care essentials to add to your life.

  5. Learn to say "No". Focus on your priorities, and be willing to say "no" to everything else. This way, you are identifying your values and aligning your life around what is truly important to you. If you try and do too much, you will be of no use to anyone. And let's face it, you won't be pleasant company either! Remember this is your life, and you owe it to yourself to spend your time and energy focused on what is right for YOU.

Go on a hunt for the things that really matter to your life. As you work through your list, begin eliminating things from your life that really aren't important to you. When your life is overcomplicated and overfull, there's usually little space for what truly matters. And there's definitely no room for personal growth, positive energy, love or even breathing at times.

Read more ways to keep yourself in balance.

This lack of mindful breathing is what is wrong with the world. It's created a group of people who choose to vent their frustration though destructive anger, which leads to the unimaginable horrors I'm ashamed to say we are capable of as a species. But you know what I also say? Life may be a dark tale sometimes, but it's a dark tale that can light up the very soul, too.

Open yourself to love

Looked at from the proper angle, life can gleam like the sun. It glistens like rays on the surface of dark waters that we happen to find ourselves knee-deep in. Although much of our light might be refracted by the deep seas of life, through the prism of love we are reminded of our humanity. It pinpoints the way ahead.

It guides us towards the shores of hope - as long as we keep our heads above the water. Drowning ourselves in hopelessness not only knocks our life balance out of kilter, it has a domino effect. But love has its own "knock-on" effect, too. We can recalibrate ourselves with love, because love is the true balancer of life.

In regards to love and balance, adherents well-versed in Zohar scholarship, derived from the Kabbalah and one of the most influential sources of Western mysticism, will tell you that the day I chose to publish this article, the 11th of August is a special day for them. This is the day they believe the whole year finds balance; the planet's masculine and feminine energies achieve equilibrium. Consequently this day is celebrated by some as the real Valentine's Day - a day of love and harmony - instead of the 14th day assigned in February.

Read more about love and the number 11.

Linked to the number eleven and its combinations, spiritual phenomenons such as twin flames are also believed to be life and people balancers, and that their responsibility to bring balance to the earth is a great one. However, before the discussion gets too esoteric for the subject matter at hand, I want to emphasise that you don't have to denounce your own personal religion beliefs to attain balance in your life. Most of these beliefs sit comfortably side by side with any tolerant and open-minded faith that has love as it most important covenant.

Although dogmatic ideologies have become a furnace for many of the world's fires that rage scorchingly across our world, I personally don't believe we should be too anti-religion, or too anti anti-religion, either. Religion utilised as a refuge instead of a weapon can give breath to the spirit, bring us closer to purpose, help us value community, charity and states of graceful circumstance, while atheists and humanists provide us with the powerful prudence and guidance of logic, reason and science. They allow an arena of free thought where we can pool diversity into a great cornucopia of knowledge to benefit all of us, where we can put the sanctity and dignity of life and our freedoms above all else.

When we glorify neither one group above the other, but balance the two in our lives to further wisdom, then we can always find a unified way to love. It becomes the intellectual power to decide wisely or come to an understanding of what is true, right, or lasting. A Vedic proverb tells us: Truth is One; the wise express it in many ways, and refuse to smugly disregard others' beliefs. And if this one truth must be expressed by the wise in many ways, then the more ways in which it's expressed, the better our perspective on it should be.

Click here for a guide to living wisely.

For instance, for my readers who adhere to the Christian faith - whatever denomination you happen to be - if you want a Biblical reference to achieve life balance then you need look no further than Phillippians 4:8, which states that:

...whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well-spoken of, whatever things are virtuous, and whatever things are praiseworthy, continue considering these things.

No humanist would argue with this as a good list of things to adhere to in life. In fact, when scientists pursue their scientific goals, such a list would undoubtedly be helpful in keeping research ethical and responsible, if not reliable. Similarly, religion needs to foster an environment of honest soul-searching: we should always challenge and question conventional wisdoms before we accept them, and if necessary have the courage to let go of its literal translations and the dogmatic intolerance it holds against differing beliefs.

Read about the real mission of love.

Organised religion needs to remember why it is that religious beliefs continue to offer many people genuine succour, not because of specific concepts they appear to enshrine, but because they place the human individual in a universal context, and thereby give life meaning.

Those religious amongst us will no doubt say God is love, while the spiritual will say love is God. And, when that love is unconditional, we, and love, can cross many boundaries effortlessly; we transcend our differences, move past the awkward dance of attraction and familiarity, and the apparently impossible, to come together as one.

Unconditional love allows people to see things as they really are, makes a lot of people appear to do silly things that are really natural feelings allowing them to look at the world in a completely different way, a much more positive way. It also provides for unconditional wisdom, neither limiting its believers purely to the confines of religious thinking, nor to the strict rationality of science, but to achieving a balance between both.

Atheists can be spiritual; they are not immune to the awe of the beauty and mysteries of life, and neither do they believe science will ever provide a definitive answer to a unified theory of everything. But that's not the job of science, as it's not the job of religion to persecute those who would freely choose their own path. Likewise most adherents of religion are humanist, too, because they are hard-working, peace-loving individuals who just want to live a virtuous life. But virtue comes from loving, not from believing you are superior than your neighbour.

Religion needs to bring the focus back to our humanity, and allow people their own way to their own truth. It should allow people the opportunity to think for themselves, not to tell them what to think. If our religion's deity gave us freewill, then who are we to force others to our way of thinking? None of us can easily be boxed into "black and white" definitions, and showing intolerance to one set or another makes you no better - but probably worse - than the group you vilify. Because sometimes you have to step outside of yourself, and your beliefs, to better see things from a different - and less biased - perspective.

Look at life with love

“Once I knew the depth where no hope was, and darkness lay on the face of all things. Then love came and set my soul free.”
Helen Keller

Dead Poet's Society (1989): "The
universe is wider than our views of it."
With a wider perspective on life we come to realise that in every circumstance there will be honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad faith on both sides; and almost every individual involved, no matter where they stand will combine some or all of these antithetical qualities in his or her own person, in his or her own acts. This is what life is made of; it consists of the rain and sunshine - and not always in equal measure.

When we can detach ourselves from destructive feelings arising from our destructive circumstances, to see from a loving perspective, it also balances our responses in times of crisis. Known often as a divine perspective - called divine because it's an attempt to look at our circumstances from "above" with detachment - it's also a way you become your own inner witness to how you respond to the challenges life throws at you. At home, at work, in your relationships, in every aspect of your life, detachment does not mean that you shouldn't feel anything, it means you shouldn't feel without understanding or reasoning or challenging your responses.

It's the method many use to release themselves from the trap of material things: detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you. Happy people are contented people, at peace with who they are, spiritually and physically and who don't need material things to fill the gaps left achingly hollow in their lives. Often when religion should fill in these gaps with empowering purpose, its dogma can make us feel rejected and genetically flawed for not fitting into its ideals. Similarly, if religion tells us that as long as we feel at home in the body we are absent of spirit (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) then it can be open to the most sinful interpretation that death is better than life.

In truth, life is the superior journey. It's the place where the spirit and the body combine to make the best of this great gift called life. Without realising this, we cannot have a completely joyous outlook towards life, and without a joyous mind we cannot know balance. We must look to joy in life, strive for joy in life, not simply put our faith in an afterlife and shun the joys of the of the body. There are great opportunities and powerful potentials afforded to only spirits housed in physical bodies, which we waste if we think we cannot attain true worth except after we die.

But as a result of trying to live up to ideological expectations, or by trying to live up to other people's expectations, we give up one of our most important gifts, the power of conscious choice. Feeling we have no choice is a terrible place to be.

What makes people happy?

For those of us who can't imagine what that is like, we need to employ good conscience. We all know having no conscience is detrimental, and its most extreme it makes us inhuman (even psychotic), at the very least it limits your imagination. You can't conceive anybody being any different than what you are. However, having TOO much conscience is not good for you, either. People with forms depression or similar imbalances, if anything, suffer from too much conscience and imagination, where they imagine they are so different from everybody else they don't have a place in the world they rightfully live in.

If we're true to ourselves, we've all been there now and then. We feel out of place or simply different from the people around us. Being in a place where you feel you don't belong can be extremely difficult and lonely. And unfortunately, many people live their lives trying to fit in instead of embracing their uniqueness and who they really are.

Such suppression is traumatic. A false face can't hide what a true heart knows, while physically lying has also been shown by some studies to harm your body. Another study found that people tell two to three lies every 10 minutes, and even conservative estimates indicate that we lie at least once a day.

But the numbers do not matter as much as the consequences here. We spin stories and tell falsehoods for all kinds of reasons - to escape censure, avoid punishment, earn praise or respect, get away from a person or place - the list is virtually endless. The untruth or the reason it's told may not pose a serious health problem, but the pressure of keeping up the pretence does.

Each time we tell a lie, it has to be maintained, usually by telling more lies. Being afraid of being found out, you feel stressed, which generates negative energy and causes the release of stress hormones such as cortisol - known for causing damage to health.

Over a period of time, pent up stress can lead to severe health problems such as insomnia, back ache, irregular heartbeat, headaches and lowered immunity. Telling the truth, on the other hand, builds confidence within oneself and among people. Relationships and our well-being improve when we are honest, and this leads to the release of happiness hormones such as serotonin. Suppressing who we really are for fear of rejection, or guilt is one of the greatest obstructions to this.

And if this sounds like you, if you've ever felt disconnected from everyone around you, then I encourage you to start being authentic to yourself. We have to start honouring our individuality, because living a life that is fulfilled means living an authentic one.

If you're ready to feel empowered and to step into a more authentic and fulfilling life, it will mean checking your suppressive states, it will mean taking a long walk with your traumas, but it will also mean leading the way with your heart. Life is meant to be lived, with joy, with balance, and with good conscience, because true love of life requires it. So why not, in the spirit of the day, take the first step to achieve your life balance by writing your very own love manifesto?

You can tailor it to your ideals if you wish, but the real trick to success is to tailor it more to your own core values that shape your inner being. These are what give you the most joy, or inspire the most in you to do good - without feeling guilty. The truth is, many people live defined by their past, without hope of creating a better future for themselves, but we can free ourselves up from the past AND heal our mind, body and spirit.

Read how to identify your core values.

But unless we are committed to change, to believing we CAN change, then no conventional medical or alternative and holistic solution to treat any mental and emotional troubles we suffer will work. Because our suppression becomes not only part of the trauma, it becomes the trauma itself.

Setting your true self free

“We are all human beings, and our infinite variety of colours should celebrate and decorate, not separate us.”
Mickie Kent

Nothing has meaning but the meaning we give it. Meaning is the interpretation we give to our life experience, and it's also what establishes our beliefs - which are like clothes, because we live our life in them. But like clothes we can discard them for new ones, change their fitting, wash them out, iron them, or get rid of them all entirely and get a whole new wardrobe of seasonal styles! Or maybe you've always known you look pretty in pink, but everyone tries to dress you up in blue.

Likewise our thoughts may be derived from meanings and beliefs skewed by an interpretation that might not be all our own, and we may need to discover our own true colours which suit us best.

By believing that our past does not define who we are, and by focusing on the areas of physical lifestyle, habitual behaviours, thoughts and emotions we can start to partner up our goals and desires with our lives. By becoming more harmonious with these four areas, we can become more harmonious with our very chemistry, hormones and genetics that make up our temporal existence - which is after all the conduit to our inner selves.

Whether you believe what you're suffering is a genetic malady, a chemical "disorder" or mental disease or simply symptoms rooted in an inner "dis-ease" with yourself, the path to peace and its management begins with you. This is why if we ever feel suicidal we must NOT think it's a way to connect to source, because who we are is a combination of our physical and spiritual attributes together. The way to connect to source is to strive to live, and pursue joy.

Reaching for inner connections means touching base with your self here on Earth, because the gift of life is here to enrich our souls until our naturally allotted time to pass on. The well-being we seek will not be found in death, but in life - because that is where hope and love resides.

In my opinion, this is what the phrase love conquers all exemplifies. It cements this important combination and ignites it to life. In the first, love is within us, we all have the capacity for love, and so, love conquers all humanity from within. It's a command. Whether you come from a religious or secular standpoint, it makes no difference to anyone who has been moved by love to realise the truth of the phrase in hindsight.

Although the word "conquer" can be said to be stand out as an overly dramatic term that conjures up war, love does not use war to attain power, it uses love. It's an action. A ripple that spreads, not always conquering immediately, but sometimes bit by bit, piece by piece, friend by friend, with every loving action that spreads out into another loving act, forging a strong chain to bind us all together.

Thirdly, love is a product of the mind. It's a thought. We are love's audience and its helpers to bring its dreams to life. A more modern version might be to say that love betters all, for we are all love personified. Love gives us life in thought, and we give love life in our actions. And to take physical form is love's own manifesto, because it's only when its energies take the form of flesh that it can bring its greatest affect on the world - to heal as it joins closer together at the same time. To align our scales and balance the energies within and without, above and below.

To aid in our own life balance, to act and think with love's commandment should the main point of any love manifesto we write up. That focus summarises the most salient points from this article and my "Can Love Truly Fix Us?" post, as well.

To recap what was said there: regardless of ANY traumatic experiences we've had in the past, we all have the ability to heal ourselves and create the future we desire, by powering up our bodies with nutritious food and beneficial lifestyle changes, while concurrently challenging our thoughts and exploring our feelings. Simply put, acting and thinking with love.

Click here for food pairings that fight disease.

The science backs it up. It's believed we create serotonin and natural healing hormones via gentle exercise, meditation and positive inner exploration - instead of thoughts, chatter or lifestyle habits that create cortisol that block our ability to heal and align our mind, body and spirit. It shows that instead of allowing us to become chronically attached to the negative connotations we hold, we do have the power to let those go in place of better ones.

Constantly thinking about the past is said to incite certain malignant activity in our brains, where our thoughts conspire to keep us anchored in a non-existent place that we can neither change (while stuck there) nor change ourselves while brooding over it.

Imagine the sense of accomplishment and empowerment you'll feel just from directing your attention to thoughts that create serotonin and other naturally healing endorphins in the brain instead of the cortisol and sodium lactate that makes you feel just awful.

Done in this powerful way, instead of allowing past or present circumstances that are outside of your control to define you, YOU are defining who you are. It can be a tough, but beautiful process, but it also means you are NOT crazy, or broken or damaged goods - all of which are horrible labels that we should never attach to anyone suffering from trauma or encumbered by their past.

Step towards your own healing with love

We can only change the past by the way we LOOK BACK at it, and in doing so, change ourselves - and by now my readers know when I mean "change" here I mean reverting back to, or discovering, your authentic self. Not changing what society says is "wrong" with you, but changing what you discover won't allow you to be who you are meant to be.

Supplemental herbal or vitamin nutrition is believed to help here, as well, while it may also work to alleviate some of the side-effects brought on by any temporary prescribed medication, and over time replace your meds to keep up any hormonal balance achieved.

Read about the vitamins and minerals worth taking.

Keep in mind, once you come into alignment you may feel ready to wean yourself off your medication. Do this gradually and while under strict medical supervision. This should only be done when you feel completely ready, and under professional medical guidance, otherwise you could inadvertently undo all the hard work achieved to that point.

Thus, to help heal from depression and anxiety, and move towards the greater aim of creating hormonal balance in life and attain an inner joy for living, we can work on lifestyle and behaviour changes, while preparing a love manifesto to keep us on track as we look for ways to enhance the healing process.

And as we prepare our own lists for life to serve as daily reminders, there are four important steps we can to utilise to buffer your healing of trauma, aid in bringing more joy into your life, and to help you truly believe that you can heal.

We've touched on some of these before, but I thought it a good idea to summarise them again. You can implement them in your own life today and start to live the life you want to live.

  1. Don't be afraid to discover who you are. The first step is to realise that it's okay to actually feel bad sometimes, or to have mood swings of "highs" and "lows". Honour that we need to experience the full sum of human feelings to discover our own energy's place within the spectrum.

    It becomes problematic when these experiences lock us in to habitual behaviours that limit our capacity to live our lives fully. These cyclic depressive states may even be genetic for some of us, and if so, then we will have to embrace it as part of our authentic self. This will mean you experience happiness differently, uniquely - as we all do - and that you need to a come to a position where you no longer fear your moods, but acknowledge them.

    We are all the same in that we are all totally different! And what we see as the normative curve of life will include the dark dips into mental health issues, too, because we will all experience some trauma in our lives.

    What is important is to make sure this doesn't push us into a void of feeling we don't have the power to rise out of those ashes with our inner phoenix. Because we do.

    Imagine the dip in your life as a valley you are exploring, and not a bottomless pit. Plant some flowers there in your favourite colours, then sit down and calmly breathe. Even if it rains now, it will do some good. And as you wait for the sun to come back out from behind the clouds, take the time to imagine. Stare up at the mountains from your lowest point, and make plans on how to leave your footsteps on those distant snowy peaks.

    It's in those moments you really discover who you are, and that it's the actual climb to your peak that will make that come true.

  2. Apply your personal wisdom consciously. The second step is connected with the first step. As the first point is really a way to discover how we can loving accept our authentic selves, the second is the process by which we we utilise this to live well.

    It's all about coming back to that heart, that soul we are, and not losing touch with it. This includes the ability to be able to come back to our authentic selves no matter what we experience in life, to remain in alignment with who we really are, and have a lifeline back to that part of ourselves whenever things get tough. It's about keep love close at hand.

    If your mental issues are biological, then learning to come to terms with those issues while removing the triggers in your environment - to accept how they have made you special and how many talented people share those same problems (see step 3 below) - will always give you a road back to who you really are, and out of the mood valley you find yourself incarcerated in.

    Similarly, applying wisdom earned means not only in our own lives, but when we carry out our responsibilities. We often say nihilism is the luxury of the young - it can seem a meaningful philosophy if all you have to worry about is (egotistically) being true to your own self. But parents will tell you that doesn't work when you have children. I say the wisdom you gain from being true to self gains even greater purpose when you share its applications with your loved ones - especially when it comes to our children.

    Growing up is a demanding time psychologically and physically, but growth equals evolution. Children are like language, evolving constantly, they are the purest form of change - but once we're done with the process, we often forget what it was like. If you want a good perspective (or reminding poke) of how it feels growing up, and the different milestones we go through as people, then you can't do worse than watching Richard Linklater's film Boyhood - a coming-of-age drama that the director spent twelve years making.

    We often mistakenly think that not caring about anything is only a luxury the young can afford, but actually if we really connect with our children we'll see that they care too much, but might be too afraid to show it. Or else we think they are too opinionated, and see their search for an individual identity as a threat to our authority or experience. But wisdom tells us that they are just seeking their own path to what we may already know - and that's good and right and natural.

    In applying our personal wisdoms, we need to allow our children permission to be themselves, and just guide them in developing the core values that echo with their authentic self. Let them question the dangers of conformity as they develop their own sense of identity. Support them when they refuse to stifle the urge to stand out from the pack. Because many of us won't, and some of us wish we had the courage to do that when we were younger. Some of wish we were still babies, still filled with all the enthusiasm and wonder and awe for life.

    Science says newborn babies have almost telepathic powers as their brains start to rapidly grow after birth - until we train it out of them, that is. Naturally, as new parents we will make mistakes, but it's a quirk of life that when we become parents, we begin to act like our parents, and forget how as children we were on a difficult journey of self-discovery while battling with our hormones for the duration. Proper support during this time will act as a strong defence against the triggers of teenage depression.

    Teenage years aren't for the faint of heart. During this time, there are many physical and energetic changes that cause imbalances. Reactions to external stimuli may be heightened, and teens require rest from day-to-day demands. In some instances yoga is believed to help, as relaxation and restorative poses are effective for rebalancing frazzled teens; and tuning in to yoga media on the iPods, as well as positive, uplifting music, helps them utilise their technologies as a bridge to a more nurturing lifestyle. And for parents, at the end of the day, knowing where their children are and simply being there for them is everything.

    Thus, it's a learning process for both child and the guardian, whose job it is to nurture their loved ones on their own path to soul authenticity. Which, simply put, are those values that will allow them to lead with their heart and with love, and is expressed, received and reinforced with positive behaviour. Acceptance, understanding, patience, tolerance, appropriate affection and caring, being supportive and attentive, listening as we wish to be heard - all of these actions we take actually attach the proper meaning to love, because they echo its core attributes.

    And by extension, we should show this not just to ourselves and our children and our families, but to our wider support groups, and even to those whom we hold outside of our lives because of their harmful negativity. We can still be patient, kind and compassionate with these people, because sometimes the people who help us least may be blood related, or tied to us with cords not so easily cut for they are weaved either through genetics or circumstance so close with our own. Or they could be suffering from their own trauma unknown to us.

    But until we can show these acts of love to ourselves, we can pretend but we won't be able to sincerely bring these attributes into our actions towards others. Seen from this perspective, showing love to ourselves is not selfish, it is acting responsibly. And if the energy you're emanating to others is a failure to love yourself, then it makes it doubly difficult to have others give you the love you want, because what you emit is so mismatched to your own desires.

    Unless you love yourself, you don't really know what love is, and can't really love anybody else, not from your authentic self. And if we want to be our true authentic spiritual being on this human adventure, then it's about connecting with behaviours that reflect true love.

    As mentioned before, one way to do this - and to re-connect or come back to who we really are when things get tough - is to read and share stories of inspiration. In this way it reminds us of what is possible, and that we are not totally alone in this adventure. We no longer feel isolated. We start to feel grateful, and are consequently filled with something almost indescribable. There is a joy there we cannot receive any other way.

    It's not only gratifying, but healing. We return to our core to re-energise, and return back to the world stronger as before. The spirit we have within us to heal is unbelievable when we apply personal wisdom, which leads on to the next step.

  3. Always look for inspiration. We can all be inspired by the stories of others, who have worked through their personal hardships to succeed on their own personal paths. Take for instance, the story of author JK Rowling who wrote to a teenager who had lost her entire family in a gun attack in the US state of Texas.

    Teenager Cassidy Stay had quoted the fictional Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore at the funeral, telling mourners: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light." The line was spoken by Harry Potter's mentor Dumbledore in the film version of The Prisoner Of Azkaban. It was written by the author of the screenplay, Steve Kloves, and not Rowling herself, but in response, Rowling privately got in touch with Cassidy by sending her a handwritten note in purple ink in the voice of Dumbledore.

    The Theory of Everything Official Trailer (Universal Pictures)
    Or how about the biographical drama based on the life of (one of my twin flame's heroes) brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking? Even though I know this story, which takes a look at the relationship between the famous physicist and his wife, has probably been romanticised and dramatised well beyond historical accuracy, The Theory of Everything looks devastatingly heartbreaking, and beautiful.

    It, too, is about finding happiness at the darkest of times, as the brilliant mind of Hawking becomes trapped in an increasingly debilitated body, and it falls to his loving wife to turn on the light. As the trailer to the 2014 film spun from the Hawkings' life together states: Love IS everything. We just need reminding of it.

    No more so than in the horrific tale of Canadian humanitarian and journalist Amanda Lindhout. She was kidnapped in Southern Somalia in 2008 and suffered 15 months of inhuman treatment before being released. Amanda's recount of her hostage treatment speaks of how she was repeatedly tortured and raped by her teenage captors, and kept without food or water for long periods.

    After surviving the terrifying ordeals the violent captors put her through, she also had to suffer abuse on her return home just for surviving - going through the indignity of being blamed for putting herself into that predicament. But since that dark period in her life, she chose to embark on a philanthropic career to survive the abuse she suffered during her captivity. In turning to love and forgiveness, and pushing for reconciliation, Lindhout has turned her experiences into inspirational and motivational stories for women - and men - everywhere.

    It shows that tragedy can prepare you for something greater. Because the "bad" that happens to you can be just a dip in your time-line. If you see every loss as a lesson, then you can see yourself being prepared for something that may not be clear at first. But being forged in the fires of adversity can make us wiser, stronger and better than what came before, to progress to the next stage of our lives. To do this, we need to be able to allow ourselves the courage to feel the fear and the pain; to let it all in, and then let it all go.

    It does take great courage to do this, but being fearless in this sense also prepares you for the achievement of your dreams. Do you know the saying, "Be careful what you wish for"? Between us, I would have to disagree with that saying, because it depends on the wish. You see, I believe you should be fearless when it comes to your dreams and wish for things beyond your wildest imagination, because your dreams should awaken your soul and spark a deep passion within you.

    When you're down in that lowest point of your valley of mood, sometimes the clouds can be so dark you can't see the mountains you are aiming for - but they are still there. You need to find the drive to get you to the peak, those dreams that make you look beyond the darkness to the dawn just ahead.

      5 reasons to follow your dreams

    1. They make life worth living. If you love what you're doing, it won't feel like work. Your dreams are the reason to keep going even when life seems hard.
    2. You'll achieve amazing joy. Life without purpose can be bland and unsatisfying. When you go after your dreams - you'll notice a positive transformation in your outlook on life.
    3. Read how to discover your passion.

    4. You can be an inspiration to others. If you follow your dreams, you'll inspire others along the way and this will lead to many meaningful relationships and experiences.
    5. You'll meet amazing people. When you are motivated and excited about your dreams, you'll meet other high achievers that will continue to support you in everything you do.
    6. You'll make yourself proud. When you go after something you're passionate about, your confidence will sky-rocket and you'll be ecstatic that you achieved something you've always wanted to do.

    And when you find a dream that provides a true purpose for your life, it's important that you don't let it just pass you by. These dreams of ours can provide just as much needed inspiration as the real-life stories of others. That's why it's important to follow your dreams, not only as the route to create a new path to your destiny in life, but to inspire you to take the steps necessary to get there - now.

    The "now" is really all we have, and we can choose whether we keep ourselves imprisoned in the fear of the past or the future, or we commit to choosing to our present moment. It's time to make the decision to follow your most audacious goals right this moment. It's your choice.

  4. Release your power of choice. Life is short, so why not choose to spend it doing something you love, right? And if the third step is about providing us with inspiration to sustain us through our daily struggles, then this last step is the constant reminder about the power of choice. We do have a choice, we can make a choice.

    Having choices in life is what keeps hopelessness at bay, although it may not seem like it - when your body aches, your mind hurts and you feel so low. But we always have a choice to make - we just need to know how to release its power.

    We do this by employing the first three steps above: by searching for ways to discover our true self, by applying that wisdom to our lives and sharing it, and by searching for inspiration in our darkest times. They all turn the power of choice we enjoy in the free world into a superpower for the soul.

    It isn't easy. Depression is a daily struggle. It may always be a struggle, but we all have a great reservoir of strength, the true depths of which can only be gauged when we are in over our heads. That may sound unfair, to be so challenged in life, but it can all depend on how we look at things, and the meanings we attach to them.

    Some believe there are two reasons why challenges come: the Western understanding of the karmic notion where you do something and it comes back to you, or that the challenges are opportunities to get you out of your comfort zone and to your purpose in life. This second empowers us to choose to turn every difficulty into an advantage - even depression. We can use our difficulties as stepping stones over troubled waters.

    To do this, we need to employ mindfulness, because progression means a growing conciousness of who we are, and being able to divine love from that authenticity (see step 1 above). The second is to know that positive thinking needs to be balanced with positive action; the heart and head must work together for it to flow (see step 2 above).

    There are people who believe that these are also the two secrets to manifesting all your desires to life. Depending on what you believe, this gift of manifesting is as automatic in us as breathing is to newborn babies (which we forget or are trained to mistrust over time), but as superpowers of choice they can be empowering tools for anyone wishing to heal past trauma, as well.

    Our traumas, however, can dig huge chasms between the newborn baby we were and the adult we become. Anyone who has depression will know that this last step is the hardest, because the meanings attached to even the smallest challenges are great; just getting out of bed can be cataclysmic.

    But gradually working through the first three steps can eventually bring you to realise that YOU do have the power of choice. You really do.

As sure as we live, we will be challenged. All of us. But it's a fact that however much we modern humans try to live our lives insulated from the natural world, the eternal energies that charge and run all of life work perpetually to remind us that within us all is the will of life to go on come what may. That truth is as eternal as love; both will continue to tell our tales.

And the path to its integration in our lives means we need to change. What binds our culture together needs to be this primal energy, now more than ever. No other ideology, or connection to a single race or tribe will bring a stronger connection than the ever-truthful universal voice of love.

It's a voice that tells us not to lie, harm, steal, dominate or enslave others and ourselves. That we are all human beings, and our colours should celebrate and decorate, not separate us. True love is being in love with all living things and all energies, right across the spectrum, embracing every colour and its place in the world.

If we love ourselves, work to apply our wisdom for greater inspiration and rev up our power of choice in aid of love, then today can be the start of swinging things back in the favour of finding balance. It's only when our individual energies harmonise, love's light will grow greater to reach more of us than ever. The dark, heavy days will slowly dissipate as it shines brighter, those challenges that catch us unaware will no longer seem insurmountable.

We can make today the first day of dawn after a long period of darkness, the brightest of the darkest days gone: whatever hasn't worked for us so far, will work soon. No matter what the reason we fell in defeat to our mistakes or past habits, today can be different. As long as we keep on the right direction, the inner light you'll eventually discover can shine the way to a new life, where neither mind, body or soul is an afterthought, but are joined together in one single thought: LOVE.

We who shine last, will shine the brightest. So start living healthier today. Start preparing yourself to find your twin flame. Get ready for an abundance of wealth and wisdom. Take the first step on your return journey back to love.

In thought and deed, let love conquer you now, and begin something new with your love manifesto today.

Yours in love,

Mickie Kent


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