...Which is always, let's face it. We wouldn't be humans if we didn't have problems from time to time. I find that sometimes I have troubles, and they come "not as spies, but as battalions"- and other times, I have a pretty steady, good life-stream going for me, but a lurking fear arises about a background issue and manages to build itself into a stress.
I think this is totally normal, or at least I hope it is. But since everyone else around me seems to have problems all the time and has always had them (and considering I'm trained as a professional to absorb other people's problems) I have to imagine (as so many others have) that being human is partly being worried or troubled. I think we've all been wrapped up in our problems for so long that none of us ever stop to think that life can be different.
I hate to sound like a total moron by saying something like "I guess being human means having troubles" because that sounds so painfully obvious, but I also find that often, the most obvious things are what people ignore. We identify with our troubles to the point that we can't even talk or think about them as separate from "us". We totally accept their angst as "part of us and everyone". And now that I'm doing it, pointing out the accepted obvious, it sounds banal and idiotic... but if you think about it again, why don't we ever draw that dividing line between ourselves and our troubles? And when you do it, your troubles begin to seem strangely alien. You begin to realize how much you've just forgotten that maybe they aren't all so intimate.
I don't guess I believe in a "magic bullet" that will end all our problems, but I do believe that there is a way of living, philosophical and spiritual, that will heal most of us of 90% of what stands between us and a simple daily peace.
As most of you know, I'm the world's worst Stoic; I accept the Pagan Stoic philosophy, and gradually, I have begun integrating it and trying to shape my life around it. I believe living in the Stoic path will bring not only peace, but the protection of Divinity and the Gods onto people. Part of being Stoic is meditating- and I've found two excellent meditations from ancient Stoic literature that I have come to find invaluable in the art of my own life.
They are very simple meditations that have helped me enormously. The first is the meditation on giving advice, and the second is the meditation on the worst possible scenario. Here is a short description of each, so that any of you can engage them if you like.
1. The Meditation on Giving Advice
Wash your hands and face, and sit quietly by candlelight in a dark or dim place, away from noise and disturbance. Focus on the divinity within you and the protecting spirit that guards you, and then visualize a close friend that you love. Allow your problem to leave you totally, as though you don't have it anymore, and never had it- and let it go into that friend. Now, imagine this friend coming to visit you, and telling you about that problem. Ask yourself with great and powerful honesty: what advice would you give that friend, if this situation really happened? Listen to that advice, which should come from your heart. You will be surprised what comfort you can find in your own wisdom.
2. The Meditation on The Worst Possible Scenario
Wash your hands and face, and sit quietly by candlelight in a dark or dim place, away from noise and disturbance. Focus on the divinity within you and the protecting spirit that guards you, and then focus on the troubles that are besetting you. Visualize very, very clearly all of the ways that your current situation could be ten times worse than it is now. Despite what some may say, nearly any situation could be worse than it is. Really let yourself enumerate the ways that your situation could be worse. See in your mind's eye the ways it could be more terrible. Think of terrible things that could exist alongside, but which do not. When you have done this long enough, let that nightmare scenario go, and you'll discover that your own situation no longer has quite the sting it had before.
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Praise the philosopher kings who spread the Truth among mankind in times long past!