The Price of Peace.

Things are tense.

People are tense.

Hadn’t noticed?

Been sleeping in a cave?

Sorry, that was a tension loaded comment.

Things are tense.

We have been slowly awakening to the reality of what it will mean for human beings to be alive in this age.

And for many of us, it isn’t measuring up to the brochure.

This isn’t the world we hoped to leave for our children.

For a great many human beings, this world isn’t promising peace, abundance, safety, shelter, blessing, or even life.

The borders are being checked, tested, even closed. To keep us in. To keep “them” out.

We can’t even tell who “they” are any more.

The lines between tribes and tongues and territories were blurred and broken down, sometimes in the name of love, sometimes of God, sometimes of war.

And we don’t know who to fear any more.

Things are tense.

Dear friends, I know you’re feeling it. Even in the relative safety of our peaceful countries, we sense the deep collective outcry of suffering and pain and distress – of fear – is being felt across the earth. We all feel it.

Or we try not to.

Fear doesn’t want to be found going about its business in your head. So it will disguise itself as other things to go undetected.

It knows you’d be repulsed to realize you were inhabited by raw, visceral fear, would see it as a weakness, and would attempt to evict it immediately.

So it disguises itself.

And it’s veiled presence causes your vision and perception to be distorted. It adds it’s toxic energy to your thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and what is suddenly becomes something other.

Your grace becomes intolerance.

Your smile becomes a smirk.

Your non-reactive presence becomes restlessness, opposition, even open hostility.

Your skin crawls with criticism just trying to work its way out of you any way it can.

And while your attention is directed towards managing the unpleasant feelings fear gives you, you don’t see the mindless actions you direct towards those around you.

You can’t hear the poison in your words.

Worse, you don’t even notice your indifference towards the pain and suffering of others.

This is how terrorism works. Those violent, random attacks push us into “fight or flight”, shove us blind and stumbling into panic and self-preservation, so that even if a few days ago we were accommodating and at peace, today, we would trample someone who stood between us and the way out if this horrible, chaotic fear.

Stop, my friend.

Yes, I know there are feelings.

And our culture has done a terrible job of teaching us to manage our fear, loss, suffering, even death.

We may have not learned how to feel the feelings that come with the threat of losing all we’ve feel we’ve become entitled to.

And yet, here the feelings come, whether we are ready for them, or not.

Breathe, dear one.

Things are tense.

Want to rail and scream and pick everything apart? Want to smash something? Someone?

Fear brings its own terrible, destructive energy with it.

It’s your task to direct that energy where it can do least harm to you or to others.

Things are tense. Are you tense?

Do things seem different to you the last few days?

Don’t allow the fear to turn from a veil to scales.

Those bastards are far more difficult to remove.

The merchants of fear are awake and moving. So you must move away from the marketplace, my friends.

Out onto the path with you. Out, into the wilderness of awareness, awakeness. The path we all are on that leads back to God, to source, to ourselves.

One step in front of the other.

Things are tense, but you are not of the stuff of those things.

Peace be with you, and between us, here and elsewhere.

Selah, my friends.
Jo

Where The Power Is.

I thought my power was in my mind
In my thinking

I thought my power was in my strength
In resistance

I thought my power was in my courage
In fighting

I thought my power was in my achieving
My doing

But it was not there

It was in the stillness
It was in my
Simply being.

Words and image (c) Jo Hilder 2015

The Story Of You

Believe, they said, it’s all you need to do. Believe this, and all will be okay. Beliefs will keep you, make you safe,  and you’ll be one of us. Nothing will harm you. Believe this, and you will always understand, always know the truth.

Simply believe.

But then, there’s this.

You believed, and still, it was not all okay. You believed, and you were not safe, believed, and yet you did not belong. You believed with all your heart, but it did not prevent you from being harmed, from feeling fear and pain. You believed and yet still, you did not understand, and truth seemed further away then ever it was.

They said our beliefs were enough to stop bad things happening to us, but they did not tell us the truth. Beliefs cannot do this. The things we don’t want often still come, even though we believe very, very hard. We believe then the things happened because our believing was broken, and we did not do it right.

But your beliefs are not broken. That’s not why they didn’t keep you safe.

They did not protect you, because they are not real.

We place far too much trust in our beliefs.

Sweetheart, your beliefs, whether they are truly yours and always were, or whether they were given to you, are nothing but stories. Beliefs are ways of thinking we made up to help us explain things, to help us to make sense of the nonsensical, the sublime, the too difficult to conceive of or understand.

Beliefs are not the way things are. They are our frail human attempt to make tangible to us the intangible. Beliefs are the tales we tell ourselves because we are afraid of anything we cannot describe, limit, contain, explain, conquer, tie down, or fashion into a shape we recognise.

We have imagined our beliefs are a box we may keep ourselves, other people, and all the big, uncontrollable things of the world safely inside. But the truth is we are the box, and all those beliefs about ourselves, other people and the world are inside us.
…………

Your beliefs make you feel safe, because you believe the stories they represent. But in reality, you are as safe or unsafe as ever you were.

If you did not believe, you would be as subject to or as safe from those things as you are, just the same.

Some of your beliefs are benign. Your belief in God is benign. Whether God exists or not, for example; your belief in God has no impact whatsoever on whether He exists. But some of your beliefs are malignant. Some of your stories are broken.

“I can’t do this. It’s too difficult.”

“I’m not going to be able to do it.”

“I’m too much.”

“I’m not enough.”

These beliefs change things. And what they change is you – they change you away from who and what you really are.

The belief you have of your “not being able to handle this” is just another one of those stories you’ve told yourself. Being too much or not enough are stories, too.

What would you “not handling it”. “not being able to do it” actually look like? What would it feel like? The truth is, it doesn’t look or feel like anything. It doesn’t exist, except in your imagination. It’s a story. And you’re telling it.

You can “handle” anything. By “handle”, I don’t mean “tolerate”. I don’t mean “bear up through”. I don’t mean “suffer manfully”. I mean, choose your way through. Process mindfully. Act in accordance with your values, and with boundaries and wisdom. Handle. Do. You can handle and do this, and anything else that comes your way.

There’s a story worth telling.

I know in the moment you see and feel the situation coming upon you, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to be able to. But that’s because of this –

Your mind convinces you in those moments of fear that the way you feel in the fear is the way you’ll feel when the thing actually happens to you, and you won’t be able to stand it. You’ll choose badly because you will be feeling that feeling, or not choose at all, and then what you fear most will happen. And it will be very bad.

But that’s not what’s going to happen. That’s another story you’ve told yourself.

Here’s another story. When you need to, in the moment when a thing happens, you can choose well. You have the capacity at all times to choose wisely. You always know the best thing to do when choosing is required. You are smart, strong and connected to your intuition, courage and smarts. You know how to do it; how to do it all, fear, or no fear. You are enough. That, right there, is your story. That’s a belief you can hang your hat on.

…………..

Where do you find those other stories; the ones that speak of your wisdom, knowledge, power, intuition, strength and capacity?

In the stillness. In the peace. In the quiet place of your heart.

You need a discipline, be it meditation, prayer, or simply walking in silence. Use the time before you fall asleep to clear your mind, rather than allow it to fill up with more stories of things that may never happen. You need to find a way to be that takes away the chatter in your head, that allows you to step outside the storytelling imagination, who constantly rehearses things to say and escape plans and sarcasm and clever answers, who practices resistance and ways to withdraw and avoid every unknown or knowable situation and never go through – always around, always back. Find the place of stillness, behind your breath, and tell the voices in your mind to be quiet. Then, just listen. The truth is there, in the peace, in the stillness. The true story that is who you really are. You are strong. You are able. You are wise. You are capable. You are connected to Source. God is in you, with you.

You need a new story. The story of you.

Love you,
Jo xxx
…………….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

Dealing with the drama monster.

Several months ago I read some superb teachings by Deepak Chopra, which said we need not ever defend our thoughts or beliefs, but when challenged, simply say, “is that so?”

Later, when conversing with Jesus on another matter entirely, the Lord gently reminded me, “Yeah, so I’m into that too. It’s called turning the other cheek.”

Is that so?10006923_782054591840633_5802792591008362091_n-1

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to exercise this new habit of late. I run a couple of Facebook groups and every now and then things come up, people get angry or don’t like it when I remind them they can’t say anything they like, or tear proverbial strips off other people, or bully me into doing what they want. And they stand toe to toe with me, inasmuch as you can on Facebook, and they shake their proverbial fists in my face and demand I explain myself, or engage in the drama they made in which they’ve written me in as a character, when they don’t even know me. And when this happens, it’s all I can do to resist not punching them on the nose, proverbially of course, or beating them with my theology qualification, or smothering them with profuse amounts of very carefully arranged but incredibly overwhelming words. And I want to pull everything out of my arsenal of sarcastic and articulate responses, but now I’m learning, it doesn’t matter. Once you engage in that, you lose anyway. You’re in the drama. You’re out of your peace, and your power. You have to do what Jesus and Deepak say. You got to let it go.

You have to say, “Is that so?”

I am a learner driver on this one, dear ones.

Love you lots,
Jo xxx

Bound and hobbled in the dark; the lie of fear-based thinking.

Fear. It’s got nothing for us, it’s got nothing on us. The Bible tells us to fear not. Says that perfect love casts out all fear. We know fear twists and stunts and drives us hobbled and naked into the darkness. Fear is dysfunction, it’s paralysis, it’s toxic and its debilitating.

And yet, a great many of us are living under a fear-based psycho-emotional and spiritual regime. Many of us are so programmed into fear-based social and emotional practices, we don’t recognize there is any other way. And the problem with fear is by its nature, it is vision-limiting. When you’re in fear, you can’t see all the options before you. Your options seem limited, your choices few. You suspect whatever you choose, all you’re left with are varying degrees of your not being able to cope. You choose the option where your failure will cause the least fallout. This is the character of fear-based thinking. Holding the status quo is all you ever truly hope for. You cannot go forward for fear of failure, change or loss. You cannot go backward for fear of revisiting a great sorrow or untenable situation. So you’re stuck. You never go anywhere or do anything, because fear has you convinced hurt, rejection, failure and shame await you on every side. Fear based living says that failure is not inevitable, and is to be avoided at all costs, because failing is proof you are less than, unworthy and wrong. Fear tells you that you are all the things that happen to you, and you are intrinsically bad, weak, foolish and unworthy. This is a recipe for mental, spiritual and emotional illness.

Love-based social and emotional practices are characterized by an intrinsic belief in your strength, goodness and capacity. They do not offer guarantees, but instead count on your ability to handle whatever comes. Love-based living presumes your worth, and does not assign badness or stupidity or weakness to any failure or difficulty you experience. Love-based living says you’re not what happens to you, and you have within you now the resources and capacity to traverse any challenge. Love-based living says failure is inevitable, is to be expected, essential for creativity and success, and is a teacher. Love-based living is the way of Christ, the path toward healing and wholeness.

It’s difficult to give up our addiction to fear, but like all addictions, break away from it we must. We need support, we need good teaching, we need wholesome spiritual and emotional food and lots of exercise. As with any addiction, with fear based thinking, there has to come a time where you’re willing to imagine a life beyond the prison. Sometimes the first step is simply agreeing with your deep suspicion if you take that step forward, you will be able to handle whatever comes, believing you will not be alone. You will not be alone.

Silencing your inner critic – loving all the parts of you is BRAVE.

So listen; what about that voice in your head who says you can’t, you mustn’t, you shouldn’t, you wouldn’t dare? What about that voice, my sweet? How on earth will you do all this, with her there, up there? What will we do about this doomsday storyteller, this inner critic?
………

A few months ago, something happened to me that changed my life forever. It’s not hyperbole. I can’t go back to how I was, ever. This new way of being is working so amazingly well, I don’t think I could ever go back.

I learned how to shut up.

Now, I’m not talking about talking. I’m talking about the infernal chatter in my head. The inner doomsday storyteller. The voice I believed was me, or maybe God, or at one stage the devil. But it’s not the devil or God. In fact, that perpetual gabble going on up there isn’t even me.

You know the voice I mean, don’t you? That constant internal dialogue that narrates our lives with banter about what we should and shouldn’t do, who will have what to say about it, and what’s likely to happen if we don’t get it exactly right, whatever it is. The inner critic. I’d never actually thought about what that voice was, until I read a book about meditation. The book said to consider the idea the voice we have in our heads, constantly narrating and directing our actions, responses and perceptions, isn’t really us. Not the real us, anyway. It’s all our built up knowledge and the things we’ve learned along the way which our subconsciousness likes to repeat back to us to help us keep safe and avoid ever encountering things, circumstances and people that could pose a threat, physically, socially or emotionally.

That voice is the narrator or our history trying to predict our future, but it isn’t us.

The author of the book asked me to consider the idea I was not the speaker in my head, but instead was the one listening to that speaking. I was not the narrator, but the person witnessing that narration.

This was a revelation to me, this idea that I was not the fearful, anxiety ridden voice, always warning me to be wary of this and careful of that, but instead was a witness to that voice, the listener of it. That I was perhaps standing somewhere behind that chatter and noise, and this was intriguing to me. I started spending quiet times practising quitting that inner critic, teaching and disciplining the voice in my head to be perfectly quiet. I literally told the voice to shoosh, to stop and cut it out for awhile, and waited to see what would happen next.

What do you think? It started up again, telling me what a dumb idea this was and how boring it was, and totally impossible, and not to forget to buy dog food and ring the accountant the next day.

Argh.

But I kept practicing. I kept comforting and consoling my inner voice, telling it I’d get around to those things tomorrow, but for now, what it needed to do was be still. Shoosh now. And I waited in that space. And guess what I found there?

The thing I’d been running from all these years.

Peace.

Total peace.

Not just audible peace. Not just an empty space where the nagging, fearful, chicken-shit storyteller of the actual and imagined past and the doomsday clairvoyant of my future finally lay down her guns, but a place of true peace, and, thank the God of heaven and the little baby Jesus, a place of blessed rest. And, unexpectedly, a place in which I found helpful resources. Just lying around. In fact, back there where the real me – the me without the constant fearful chatter in my head – lives, I discovered a wondrous array of all the terrific things I was needing in my everyday life.

Courage. Wisdom. Creativity. Patience. Perseverance. Kindness. Strength.

I found that I could sit there in that space and let the peace simply tell me what to do. To guide me. It was like God was there, and I simply turned and found Him there with all this helpful stuff, just we were like sitting at a bus stop, and he said “Hey, what took you so long?”

And this has changed my life. To find all the resources I need to get through my days and face life, right there, so close. Freely available.

And not out there. In here. In me.

I’ve always known that part of me was there. I had glimmers sometimes, flashes of intuition and knowledge resonating, but I didn’t know where the source lay, where the centre was. And here it was, underneath the chatter, behind the fearful perpetual gabble in my head. I thought my memory and my history was guiding me, when in fact they’ve been clouding me.

It seems my heart, my gut and my spirit are bigger, deeper and stronger than my memory or my history. Connected to eternity, my soul guides me like a current pulls a raft. If I trust the source, and the destination, then I can confidently silence the nagging voice of fear, and trust my gut, my centre, to guide me.

It’s so quiet down there, I find myself returning there often now, just to check in. I can feel if I’m in the right place now. I only need to quiet that minivan of frightened orphans I carry around in my head. Once I’ve hugged them all quiet and gotten them asleep in their car seats, I’m free to take to the open road in confidence and peace. And off we go. Shoosh, my babies. Everything is going to be all right.

……….
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How Little We Really Need

I went to work today. I have a job as a sales assistant in really nice boho-fashion shop, in a major shopping centre.

An hour in I had to go out the back and have a little weep. Because you know what? Christmas shoppers can just be so mean.

The staff car park is full of course, so I had to skulk around until I found a parking spot, along with all the other skulkers. For the privilege of parking my car within a kilometre of my workplace, I’ll pay half of what I earn in one of those lonely, empty hours I spend walking around my place of business, repairing the wanton destruction left behind by the retail vandals (women who like to pull things off racks then shove them back in backwards, upside down, sideways or just drop them on the floor because it’s too haaaaard to hang things back on racks the way you found them), being ignored when I say “Hello! How are you today?” even though I really do want to know, or else icily eyed up and down judgily. That is, if they can be bothered getting off their phones, or acknowledging my presence in the first place.

Approaching the counter, they shove the item of their choice towards me as if I’ve forcibly coerced them into purchasing it.

I hate Christmas. It turns truly lovely people into just complete arseholes.

Christmas is different when you’re a child. When you’re very young, Christmas isn’t about being subject to rudeness from your peers simply because you happen to be an employee in a shop they feel resentful about patronising because of their sense of obligation to spend every last dollar of credit they have to buy useless shit nobody remotely wants or needs. Neither, when you’re a child, is Christmas about sick, sad young men shooting up primary schools, or dear friends dying of cancer, or piles of unpaid bills, or the car which needs registering, or the trip to Queensland you can’t afford this year, or any of that.

Except Christmas is about that, because Christmas is about how much we need help, not just with the bills, and cancer, and our bad moods, but with everything. Jesus came because we need help.

I seem to cry a lot at Christmas. As a mother, I always feel the weight of expectation is on me. It’s like I’m supposed to just make Christmas happen with whatever I happen to have available, whether what I have available to me is a lot, or a little. Like a magician, mothers – and perhaps any adult with responsibility for a child – are seemingly supposed to pull it together for everyone else. But it’s not happening this time – too much of what’s going on in my world is out of my control…..and I can’t help feeling that at Christmas, that’s as it should be. I think Jesus’ birth serves to remind us what matters isn’t how much we really want, but how little we really need. I need to be healed. I need to be calm. I need to be quiet, and needed, and acknowledged, and free. So little, really.

May you have all the healing you need, the quiet you need, the people you need, the acknowledgement you need, and the freedom you need this Christmas.

Shalom. Namaste. Peace.