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Friday Feature: Keeping Your Head

by Rachel Davidson

Keep your head; it is how the If poem begins, with a poet’s question. Are you capable of keeping your head whilst all around you lose theirs?

As I compose this piece, the UK is in its eighth week of lockdown. We are living through a period of societal control and removal of personal freedom that hasn’t been experienced in these green and pleasant lands for a long, long time. Perhaps the commentators are correct – perhaps these are totally unprecedented times. Certainly, the level of fear introduced into our lives is the most focussed and universal I have experienced in my lifetime.

So, are you keeping your head, whilst those around you lose theirs?

Mr Kipling’s poem may start with the head, but it doesn’t stop there. The poem is a call to consider humility, a life of grace and individual peace. There are deeper truths about the manner in which life might be lived, if you wish to become “a man, my son”.

But too often we remain at Kipling’s start. We remain in our thinking, in our heads, so to speak. Some of the narratives we construct, or hear from others, about who we are and what we are capable of, are destined to become well-worn patterns of thinking that will ossify into beliefs and from there to become behaviours and habits.

We all do it, our society encourages it. We are taught to prize the intellect and build knowledge by acquiring facts and figures, and not much else. The 16th-century philosopher, Montaigne, thought education’s approach was absurd; “its end has not been to make us good and wise, but learned.” I believe that we rely too heavily upon, and value too highly, the intellect – the head. This is at the expense of wisdom and having a deeper, essential sense of ourselves.

Michael Neill in his book The Space Within, deals with this aspect of our humanity and reminds us that our thoughts are not us. He uses the metaphor of clouds upon sky, the sky being constant (a symbol for our true selves) and our thoughts being the passing, temporary weather conditions. Sometimes I experience my circumstances with thoughts that are dark clouds, thundery and explosive. Other times, my thoughts are like a low-pressure weather system, producing days of low hanging grey cloud. Yet, none of these clouds are actually me.

I am equally capable of producing white, fluffy cumulus. Some days the ‘weather-system’ of my thinking is a completely blue, cloudless sky. Those days are more likely to occur when I listen to my heart. This is when I allow myself to become quiet, to settle down to the work of listening to what and why I am. Sometimes these are just moments, snatched within the busyness of a practical day. Nevertheless, they are the building blocks of my true home. It is in this state, this experience of my circumstances, that I find my safety and am able to see the thought-driven fear for what it really is.

Fear and anxiety are gifts to us; they are innate because they serve a specific purpose. To warn and protect us. For me, they are indicators my thinking is moving against myself. Fear and anxiety are flag-wavers, messages that something needs changing or a situation needs to be moved away from. Just that though: messages.

When I was younger, I did not understand this about my fear. I thought there was something deeply wrong with me. I struggled, attempting to use my willpower (thought) to force myself to feel better about the situation I was in. I put up with behaviour from others because I felt I was the problem, I was lacking. I figured, if I could just bend myself to it, then I would feel better. Eventually, I did. Living through my sadness, I gained a greater understanding of my strength. It was not in my head. It was within my heart where I found power.

I look back on that younger self and wonder how necessary my suffering was. I wonder who I might be now if I had not experienced those circumstances with such pain. Perhaps those dark times were the start of an alchemical process, producing precious ‘metals’: faith and strength?

I do know that even after these fearful lockdown days have passed, I will arrive again at events that I will find painful. I will suffer and be fearful. That is life. The mystery schools I am aware of prepare their students to expect this. We are intended to suffer.

All of us are celestial souls formed into clay effigies, immortals who come to this world in order to purify ourselves through ordeal. Its purpose is for us to return, tempered by the human-experience, in order to perfect creation itself. These schools teach the need to travel through life towards a greater awareness of our true selves and ultimately an acceptance of death. They speak of it as a beautiful transition and a return home. Not to be feared. Instead, a ‘deadline’ that reminds us to keep seeking the meaning of our lives.

My first book, The Point of Me, Beyond Veils, Book One, is the story of a young man with a terminal illness facing death. Although it is about him coming to terms with this, it is actually about him discovering the point of his life and that of his family members’. He discovers the sources and deeper meanings of their behaviour; what their particular soul journeys are. In turn, what the purpose of his life might be. His is a short, concentrated journey of discovery. Ours, if we are lucky, may stretch out over six score years or more.

So, don’t just keep your head. Find your heart.

You can find out more about Rachel Davidson here 

and connect with her on Facebook & Instagram

The Truth Of Her, Beyond Veils, Book Two is available to buy from Amazon 

Read Issue 4 of Write On! magazine online here.

Read Rachel’s interview with Write On! here.

Are you capable of keeping your head whilst all around you lose theirs?