Monday, March 16, 2009

The gift of healing

In a few days, South African musicians will lead people from all walks of life in a day of reflection and prayer. The purpose? To use the power of song to invoke healing in us all.

These are not gospel musicians on a crusade. They are musicians representing all genres of music using their gifts in a collective exorcism of society's ills. Fittingly, the healing vigil, called 'Forgive and be Forgiven', will take place in the Freedom Park - a purpose-built monument which marks South Africa's journey to democracy.

South Africa is heading for an election in April, and the campaigning is in full swing. Not surprisingly, one party after another assaults our consciousness with slogans and slick talk. But I'm yet to hear any of them speak to the fundamental need for healing.

Oxygen Boost
Almost like an oxygen boost, I see the musicians and their healing vigil moving not for political gain but in accordance with the life essence which courses through their veins.

They, not the politicians and their mounting campaign rhetoric, will strike the chords which will touch us most deeply. Who better than a group of musicians to lead us in a clarion call to forgive and be forgiven?

It's a deep and pertinent request in these times where so many are focused on what is 'happening' to them in passive affirmation of the tough times touted by the gloom merchants.
The simplicity and power of the musicians' healing gesture reveals the capacity we all have to do something positive about the life we're experiencing each day.

From retrenchments to fears of debt collectors knocking at our door, a dangerous inertia is creeping into our consciousness. Left to fester, it blurs vision, erodes faith and disables our compassionate nature. So, what is it that you have to give?

Moral fibre
Sibongile Khumalo, the visionary behind the 'Forgive and be Forgiven' campaign, is an acclaimed South African opera singer and arts activist. A mother and a nurturer, she speaks of how the growing intolerance and degeneration of the nation's moral fibre drove her to use her gift of music to effect change.

She called on her community of fellow artistes and they have come together in potent response to the disease and anger that is stripping our hearts of love for ourselves and each other.

The healing power of song
We have all been touched by the healing power of song at some point in our lives, but when I close my eyes and imagine the spiritual combustion that will take place at the Freedom Park on Friday, March 20; I can feel divine fire burning brightly.

When you look at what's happening in the world, you realise that it's not only South Africa that needs healing. It is clear that our Earth is in dire need for us all to rediscover our gifts and to use them as an offering of gratitude to each other.

Still Trying

Last week's piece about the chocolate dream sparked much debate. The issue of satisfaction touched a raw nerve! The concern seems to be over whether satisfaction is a destination or the journey itself. Are you satisfied with your life?

We're all striving for total satisfaction but most of the time the torrent of complaints and negative thoughts in our heads put us far from nirvana. They say satisfaction equals happiness. If it does, then, seemingly, there are many unhappy people out there. Something's wrong with this picture!

Strikes me that a lack of clarity about what motivates our journey is the reason that we (often unconsciously) opt for mediocrity and satisfaction evaporates into the ether.

Getting there
Here in South Africa, there's a phrase you will hear often when you ask people how they are - 'oh, I'm trying' or 'we're getting there'. Well, that says it all!

It's true to say that we're all 'getting there' as we ebb and flow through life's journey, but each time we say 'I'm trying', there's a tape that plays 10 times over in our heads repeating the same phrase. Hardly surprising then, when I meet the same person next week, she's still trying.

Trying to do what? Trying to be what? The problem is that vague, open-ended thoughts end up in murky waters called depression. Being specific is vital to our very being in this world. In that specificity we automatically jump from trying to being, from visualising to actualising our dreams.

Unbridled consumerism
Yes, you've heard it all before but are you listening to your heart? Having nurtured a culture of unbridled consumerism, the external messages saying 'take me!' often ring louder, resonate deeper than those that are within.

Some may argue - it's not our fault. After all, we've grown up in cultures where consumption is literally ingrained into our psyche. Unless we're consuming and demonstrating our capacity to consume, we somehow feel inferior - even within ourselves; forget the Jones family next door!
When you check it out, happiness will continue to elude us because often we're so lost in the act of consuming that we lose our grip on the reason why we wanted it in the first place.
Culturally speaking, whether our life spaces are in Africa, Europe or the Caribbean, the philosophical orientation impacts our understanding of consumption and satisfaction.

Combat desperation
In various parts of Africa, I often hear the message of acceptance in the face of gloom. 'It wasn't meant to be', 'it wasn't for you' and 'God didn't want it that way'. However you slice it up, it means the same thing! Some things in life are tough, but it needn't be the end of the world or your cue for desperation.

This culturally reinforced anchor keeps people strong. Strength is gained from living in the now. Total satisfaction may still be a milestone away but in acceptance, the vision is reinvigorated.
I'm for effortless ecstasy on a never-ending street called desire. Here's to you knowing your hearts desire and daily satisfaction!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Chocolate Dream - satisfaction guaranteed?

A suggestive and thought provoking e-mail joke that is doing the rounds caught my eye recently.
It speaks of three of our favourite things; men, chocolate and money. Now, we can safely say that at least two of the topics will consume some part of our thinking during any given week. Suffice to say that the delicious high that makes chocolate so irresistible is probably what makes men and money equally desirable.

If none of the three appeal to you, well, you’re a rare woman! If you find all three are an enticing combination then maybe the email would tickle your fancy. So what did it say?

Truly satisfied
These words were pasted against a rich chocolaty brown background framed to look like a sign that might hang on the back of a public washroom stall door. It said: ‘No woman will ever be truly satisfied because, no man will ever have a chocolate penis that ejaculates money’.

Well, if you, like me had to take a second take then walk with me further. Once we get past the hilarity of the image conjured up in this potent sentence does it strike a deeper chord?
If you had a direct request line to your creator at the genesis when he was creating man would you have dared to request such an intoxicating package in your perfect man?

So why is the e-mail joke is bouncing back and forth across the world in such mirth? Let’s be truthful with one another; whether we package ourselves as demure, vivacious, powerhouse, party-girl or earth-mama or a fiery combination of them all, we all like a little sweetness, pampering, comfort, luxury, good loving and well, I could go on…..

Deep seated desire
Does the joke speak to deep seated desires that we probably feel is too much to ask of ourselves (forget anyone else!) on a sustained basis? A desire to be truly satisfied with where we are with what we’ve got, right now?

The question of satisfaction and whether we’re ever able to get to a space where we’re truly satisfied with any sphere of our lives is a vexed question. For it seems we intentionally embark on never ending mountain hikes, trying to improve, make it better, trying to get there.

Consider why it is that once we accomplish our vision, we duly congratulate ourselves but the satisfaction we imagined is fleeting. So, in no time at all, we charge up our inner resolve and quickly vision another mountain peak to climb. So, most of the time, we’re exhausted, fatigued by the stress and pressure we’ve created for ourselves.

Capacity for change
As creative, reflective and responsive human beings, we have the capacity to change, right now! It’s as simple as allowing yourself to accept what is and break the chain of resistance that creates the pressure cooker of life. In that moment of acceptance, peace will propel you to joyfully create what will be.

For it is likely that if the chocolate man did appear, even for just one night, you’d be too tired to gain any satisfaction. It doesn’t have to be a joke nor a dream. Make your satisfaction the real deal.

It's our time! Women in leadership

Everywhere I turn I hear this is the year for women in leadership! From women in politics and business to women in the arts, word has it that the time has come where women are gaining ground in the leadership stakes.

Does this mean that the women who have always been there are now being publicly acknowledged for their contributions or is there a tangible increase in the number of women exerting influence in our daily lives and evolution?

Women in the driving seat
South Africa’s political track record is cause for much debate these days. With an impending election due in April this year, the campaigning is at its height. In terms of women however, the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) has demonstrated worthy accomplishments in their executive ranks. Significantly, since 1994 (the year of the first democratic elections in South Africa), the ANC has increased women’s representation in parliament from 27% to 42%. During this time, South Africa has also had two female deputy presidents; Phumzile Mlbambo-Ngcuka and Baleka Mbete-Kgositsile.

Recently, former South African president Nelson Mandela’s wife, Gra├ža Machel, a prominent human rights activist in her own right, was an influential humanist voice next in the Zimbabwe negotiations towards a coalition government. Her voice was assertive, empathetic and caring.

A feminine touch to the soft diplomacy stance taken by former president Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders, Machel added a heart-felt dimension to the plight of the people that many had uttered but somehow, her message rang loudest.

So what is it that women bring to the table in politics, business or otherwise? Could it be our celebrated female intuition laced with a little love? Perhaps it’s knowing that working from the heart in fact strengthens the bond to your word and so your intention?

Your heart at the centre
We grew up hearing that the heart has no place in business and that the most effective businesswomen had to behave like men (read: no emotion) to crack the glass ceiling of the gender divide. The past decade has shown business that a people-first approach is more likely to nurture loyalty, trust and ultimately increase productivity. So, maybe it’s no surprise that 2009 is being heralded as the year that women rightfully take their place as leaders in the new world order?

As the world is being recalibrated, we sense the palpable need to do everything we’ve been doing differently. So, the question is; are we women leveraging our God-given advantage with clear purpose and in-depth understanding of the potential we have to change our world, at this time, for the greater good of humanity? We are often credited with being closer to the mystical powers of intuition but do we really know how to access it and use it well on a sustained basis?

Fact is, we women have always been leaders in our personal spheres of influence. If the world is waking up and taking note, that’s great! Now, the call for enhanced leadership of the feminine kind is all pervasive. Its time to sharpen up by tuning into the world more often through the heart and less systematically through the brain. In this way, our love-logic will holistically channel new healing energy into the world and enable both male and female shaped intuitive, heart-felt leadership to higher heights.