Being happy and fulfilled in life is important to us all, yet somehow we miss out on it. Why is this? Why can’t we just be happy?
Well, maybe we’re paying too much attention to the news of the day. At the beginning of 2020, threats to collective human happiness and prosperity seem to be looming. News feeds and social media are laden with foreboding. Astrological omens are gloomy. The present transits of heavy-duty outer planets through the stern sign of Capricorn are bringing up challenges for everyone.
Can we survive climate change? Can we survive the mad behaviour of tyrants and politicians, whose toddler temper tantrums seem could escalate to another world war? Can we cope with economic issues, both at a personal and a national level? How can we go about our daily business, free from anxiety for the future for our children, grandchildren, for all those we love?
If we have any spiritual maturity at all, then we are aware that life will always include events that we don’t enjoy. We also know that what does not kill us makes us stronger (so said Friedrich Nietzsche).
To find the good news that makes us happy, we need to look towards eternal truths and avoid allowing our mindscape to become entangled with the temporary noise of the day. The mystical poet and painter William Blake said:
Joy and Woe are woven fine,
As clothing for the Soul divine,
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
So here are my suggested seven activities that can reveal the ‘silken twine of joy’. Get going as soon as possible to make yourself happy…
1. Be happy by meditating twice a day
As you know, I offer the Shefa Method as a remarkable and powerful ‘super meditation-plus’ technique. If you are already happy with a meditation technique you have tried and tested, then continue with that. But 2020, with all the additional pressures on your life — personal and global — is a time when you need to expand your consciousness. This will benefit you, your family, your community and the whole world. So take an advanced course or retreat, and refresh your spirit, mind, heart and body. Everyone needs you to be at your peak this year, so do some about that now!
2. Declutter your environment to bring joy and happiness to others as well
This is a heart-expanding exercise and 2020 is a year when as many people as possible need to find way to be open-hearted. This counteracts any tendency we may have shrink into fear mode and become overly self-protective. Choose your charity with care, so that the whole process becomes spiritually meaningful as well, as an act of personal cleansing. Also, give ‘stuff’ away, and find opportunities to offer your time to support charitable activities that call to your heart. If you are selling unwanted goods on eBay, opt in to their system where you can give a percentage of your earnings to a charity of your choice. You can find some good help in your quest for a decluttered life here.
3. Make sure real fire plays a part in your new happy life!
It would be brilliant if you could find a place for a regular bonfire, preferably in your own garden or back yard. There are excellent outdoor products designed for gardens that keep fire well contained, even if you only have a small area. (I found a basic fire pit on Amazon for under £30).
Fire is the most powerful spiritual element – Zoroastrian priests have kept a sacred fire burning in Yazd in Iran for over 1,500 years! (See it in this YouTube video).
Your personal fire ritual can include cleansing your life of old papers or photographs. So this process could be an extension of your de-cluttering activities (see above). But this could also be an act of reconnecting with your divine spark, the fire inside you. Don’t just use the fire to burn rubbish. Make a ceremony on a special day and add incense, especially frankincense, to your fire. Invoke Archangel Michael, who is the planetary spirit for the Sun. This ritual will be especially helpful during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, when sunshine can be scarce.
4. Find a place where you can bathe happily in natural surroundings, preferably naked
Do this in on your own as a spiritual exercise of surrender to the element of water, from which you were born. Make sure you dip right under the water, like a full baptism, or mikveh. This is not only emotionally refreshing, but reclaims our innate awareness that Nature is benevolent. A very good time to do this would be on, or near, your birthday. Much more joyful than eating cake! But you could also celebrate by lighting candles.
If your timing coincides with cold weather, or if natural water is not available for you, then create an at-home version. Make a ritual in your own bathroom. Make sure you will not be disturbed for at least an hour. Use quality natural mineral salts, such as Epsom, Dead Sea or Himalayan Pink, but not bubbles or commercial bath products. However, filling the room with natural aromas, such as pine, cypress or other essences will help create a feeling of being in a natural environment. Surround your bath with tea lights.
Read more about bathing naked and maybe even join in one of their summer events at The Great British Skinny Dip.
5. Plant anything you can, anywhere you are allowed
This is a lovely thing to do, especially with a view to the long-term – trees are brilliant. If you don’t have your own space to plant trees, check out your area to see if there are any tree-planting projects, or community activities focussed on reclaiming neglected land. (A good list of tree planting organisations can be found on Dr James Borrell’s blog page here).
The least you could do is grow your own herbs in pots by your kitchen door, or on your windowsill. Whenever you plant anything, make a ritual process to honour the spirit of the plant, and make a commitment to nurture it as it grows. You might like to explore which herbs and plants are special for your significant zodiac signs (your Sun, Moon and Ascendant signs).
6. Go on a pilgrimage to a place of special joy
This doesn’t need to be to a religious site (although there are still places on the Chartres Labyrinth pilgrimage I’m offering in March!) This is a personal exercise to make you happy. You could choose to visit a place where you felt joyful as a young child. Or the place where you met your partner. This could be a building or town with personal connections, or a place in a natural environment that just makes you feel truly happy! You could use this pilgrimage to pay respects to someone you want to honour, either in your own history or ancestry, or someone you revere as a wise teacher, or a creative who has inspired you. Remember also, pilgrimages are about the journey as much as the destination, so it begins as soon as you leave your door. You may want to watch this YouTube conversation with Rupert Sheldrake, who, as I’m sure you know, is not just a great scientist but also a great fan of pilgrimage as a spiritual process.
7. Create a special meal – for any reason you can come up with!
Not the usual birthdays, anniversaries and so on. Just make an excuse to spend time making a feast, then invite people round for lunch, afternoon tea or supper. Make sure the table is beautifully laid with any lovely decorations you can find. Include greenery and flowers growing nearby. Choose dishes that challenge your cooking expertise. You might like to identify a special theme and keep all the food within certain culinary traditions. Or you might like to indulge in nostalgia and make party food that your guests would have enjoyed when they were children.These days, even mainstream chefs are embracing vegan food. Jamie Oliver, for instance, has some good ideas.
As this will be like a party, you might like to have a lucky dip gift box. Cover a large cardboard box with decorative wrapping paper. Fill it with shredded paper or packing raffia (which is reusable). Ask everyone who comes to bring a surprise low-cost but fun gift, purchased from a local charity shop. Let them know the maximum amount to spend. They need to wrap their gift and hide it in the box, with no identifying label.
I enjoyed writing this and I’m already mulling over ideas for my number seven – I’ll keep you updated!