It seems that every day we hear stories of personal suffering and loss that far exceed our own. When we compare our situations to those of people living in war-torn countries or recent events on the East Coast, it is tempting to minimize our own experiences of suffering. We may feel that we don’t have a right to be upset about the breakup of a relationship, for example, because at least we have food to eat and a roof over our heads.
While awareness of the pain of others can be a valuable way to keep our own struggles in perspective, it is not a legitimate reason to disregard our own pain. Disparaging your feelings as being less important than other people’s emotions leads to denial and repression. which over time leads to numbness. It is as if our internal systems become clogged with our unexpressed emotions. This in no way helps other people who are suffering in the world. In fact, it may do just the opposite because when we devalue our own sorrow, we become impervious to the sorrow in others.
Fully experiencing our own hurt is the gateway to compassion toward other human beings. Feelings of loss, abandonment, loneliness, and fear are universal, and, in that sense, all feelings are created equal. Regardless of what leads us to feel the way we do, our comprehension of what it means to be human is deepened by our own experiences. Our personal lives provide us with the material we need to become fully conscious. If we reject our emotions because we think our experiences are not dramatic or important enough, we are missing out on our own humanity.
Sometimes it is difficult to see someone we love struggling, in pain, or hurting. When this happens, we might feel like we need to be proactive and do something to ease their troubles. While others may want our help, it is important to keep in mind that we need to be sensitive to what they truly want in the moment, since it can be all too easy to get carried away and say or do more than is really needed. Allowing ourselves to let go and simply exist in the present with another person may actually provide a greater amount of comfort and support than we could ever imagine.
Perhaps we can think back to a time when we were upset and needed a kind word, hug, or listening ear from someone else. As we remember these times, we might think of the gestures of kindness that were the most healing. It may have been gentle words such as “I care about you,” or the soothing presence of someone holding us and not expecting anything that were the most consoling. When we are able to go back to these times it becomes easier for us to keep in mind that giving advice or saying more than is really necessary is not always reassuring. What is truly comforting for another is not having someone try to fix them or their problems, but to just be there for them.
This shot was taken in Vancouver, British Columbia on a cold,windy and rainy day in October. The statue is located close to the passenger ship terminal in downtown and is really special. To see more of Vancouver or the many other wonderful places we have documented, just click the link and you will be transported to our Website Kerstenbeck Photographic Art
It’s interesting to think our lives as something we spend a lot of time avoiding! We consume so much time with everyday activities that distract us, that we rarely take the time to look at our lives. Another week gone, weekend over, Monday again…you know the drill! It’s important to decouple from this and take some real-time for ourselves, and that doesn’t mean watching TV or reading a book!
Often it can be quite unnerving even to have a few minutes, let alone an hour just for ourselves to quietly reflect. Sometimes it can even be uncomfortable since when we do take this time to listen to ourselves we might not like what that inner voice is telling us, like why we are living like we do or making that choices we’re making. Talk about exhausting! However, its reflections are the chords that connect us to our authentic selves, and they are the very things that make our lives worth living.
Begin the process of being present in your life gradually by reserving some time each day for some introspection, just being with yourself. Try it for a week and you may find that you beginning to look forward to your solo time away from your busy self. By not avoiding self-examination and being open with your true self you may find that you spend more time being at the center of your own life instead of just orbiting around some sun like a planet.
This image was taken on a cold, rainy and windy day in Richmond, British Columbia, which is just a bit south of Vancouver. It seemed like nobody was braving the elements, let alone setting up a tripod, wiping down lenses and slogging around in the slime left behind by the low tide. Although the shot itself was over in around 10 seconds (shutter speed), the process of taking the shot and finding beauty, where others may have busily passed by, was indeed precious.
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While most of us no longer depend directly on nature’s seasons for our livelihood, our bodies’ clocks still know deep down that a change of season means a change in us too. If we don’t acknowledge this, we may feel out of sync, as though we have lost our natural rhythm. These days, autumn is more likely to bring thoughts of going back to school than harvesting, but in both cases, the chill in the air tells us it’s time to move inside and prepare for the future.
We can consciously celebrate the change of season and shift our own energy by setting some time aside to make the same changes we see in nature. We can change colors like the falling leaves and wilting blooms by putting away our bright summer colors and filling our wardrobes and living areas with warm golds, reds, and browns. While plants concentrate their energy deep in their roots and seeds, we can retreat to quieter, indoor pursuits, nurturing the seeds of new endeavors, which need quiet concentration to grow.
We can stoke our inner fires with our favorite coffee, tea, cider, or cocoa while savoring the rich, hot comfort foods that the season brings in an array of fall colors: potatoes, apple pies, pumpkin, squash, and corn. As animals begin growing their winter coats and preparing their dens for hibernation, we can dust off our favorite sweaters and jackets and bring blankets out of storage, creating coziness with throw rugs and heavier drapes. We can also light candles or fireplaces to bring a remnant of summer’s fiery glow indoors.
By making a conscious celebration of the change, we usher in the new season in a way that allows us to go with the flow, not fight against it. We sync ourselves up with the rhythm of nature and the universe and let it carry us forward, nurturing us as we prepare for our future.
Throughout this journey from birth to death, we choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. This is the essence of spirituality, whatever your brand may be. One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path. We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path. Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul. Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe.
The image today is from the geothermal region around Rotorua in New Zealand. This wooden walkway leads through the Champagne Pool area (to the right) and off into the mist where other wonders await. During peak times this can be awash with visitors, but in the NZ winter and first thing in the morning during a work day, all that greated us was silence, hissing and bubbling sounds and, of course, the pervasive sulphuric air. It seemed like we had been transported to a different planet which beckoned us to explore its riches!
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On the path of personal and spiritual growth we have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them. Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives.
This is an image shot in New Zealand’s geothermal region around Rotorua on the North Island. It is a steamy, bubbling, smelly, vibrant and magical place, especially first thing in the morning and in the winter when we found ourselves to be the only people in the park. The Champagne Pool is by far the most spectacular and photographed. When shooting here, this photographer got a bit too close to the steamy edge to set up this sweeping shot and was surprised to hear the pitter patter of footsteps as a Park ranger came in a rush to sternly remind him of the dangers of falling into hot water! There were several four letter words used and his point was well taken – this photographer has been in many more perilous situations and this was, well, as walk in the park!
Looking closely you may see a heart in the foreground – somehow this harkened to the message above of finding happiness amongst all of those other seething and churning emotions…guess you just have to look! Seek and yee shall find?
To purchase a Digital Download or Print of this spectacular and unique image just follow this link to our website – this looks brilliant in large size!
Our emotions color our lives with varying palettes. Sometimes we feel a strong emotion in reaction to something that has happened or a flood from what has happened, but emotions also visit us seemingly out of the blue, flooding us unexpectedly with joy or grief or melancholy. Like the weather, they come and go, influencing our mental state with their particular vibration. Sometimes a difficult emotion hangs around longer than we would like, and we begin to wonder when it will release its hold on us. This is often true of grief stemming from loss, lingering anger over a past event or difficulties in relationships.
If we allow ourselves to feel our emotions fully when they come up, they recede naturally, giving way to another and another. When an emotion haunts us, it is often because we are afraid of really feeling it. Emotions like despair and sadness and are powerful, and it is natural to want to hold them at bay. When we are facing this kind of situation, it can be helpful to ask the spirit, “How long do I need to sit with these emotions, how long do I need to feel these emotions before they can pass?” If you ask sincerely and wait, an answer will come. Sit down and make yourself available to the emotion that has been nagging you and just feel it. Avoid getting attached to it or rejecting it. Simply let it ebb and flow within you. Emotions are by their nature cyclical, so you can trust that just as one reaches its apex it will pass. Each time you sit with its presence without either repressing or acting out, you will find that difficult emotion was the catalyst for much-needed emotional healing.
This was shot during a trip to Paris and seemed appropriate for a somber Monday of personal reflection.
If you would like to purchase a print or digital download just follow this link to our photography website: http://www.kerstenbeck.com/ArtGallery/Rome/23603723_2K8xDr#!i=2078373725&k=n2T6P9b