Finding my Super Elegant Loving Force (S.E.L.F)

I’m getting really good at wading through emotional, mental and cognitive shit. Somehow I am surviving and coming out the other side better than before I went in. It feels amazing!

Wading through shit…that’s called being human; it’s what we do…

The wading process appears to be feeding me. In a way it’s part of who I am and how I function; to get into a mess, and have to figure a way through.

The shit wading process brings out all sorts of character traits; the lover of challenges and the inventor of approaches, the researcher of ideas and the consoler of lost dreams. It’s all there.

I love it!!!….even though I hate being in it.

I must do because I keep attracting it!

Probably something like you.

The important question to ask ourselves is whether we are sinking, floating, or wading, and why?

Are we floating of sinking in our own waters?

I’ve learnt a lot recently from friends and family, books and other things…

  • I’ve learnt that I often get so caught up in my own head that I forget to listen and that really pisses people off.
  • I’ve learnt that selfishness isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be and in fact is grossly misunderstood as a term.
  • I’ve learnt that putting others first can be detrimental to your health when you are ‘sacrificing’ your own needs. I don’t like martyrs and neither should you.
  • I’ve learnt that it’s OK to be a pain in the ass…sometimes; as long as there is a good reason, and you are aware of it. Otherwise you are just being an ass-hole and acting from your emotional baggage.

Sometimes we’ve just got to focus on ourselves for a while, or for ever. Sometimes we have to be selfish, or ‘concerned with our own interests‘ in order to function right. If we don’t function within the bounds of our own nature, then we are unhappy humans trying to be a shape we are not.

I am now debunking all sorts of old programming that would have me trying to fit into a square hole, when obviously I’m round.

They don’t make round squares, or square circles….

acrylic on board abstract painting of black and white bubbles on a green background by contemporary artist phoebe thomasson

So I was never really a square after all; just a repressed and terrified round thing with no inner sense of direction. That’s modern life for you.

Fuck you! modern life for making me scared….deep down, you know what I’m talking about….right?

These are lonely times, and it’s acceptable to use whatever we can at our disposal, within reason, to help us through.

Loneliness is a killer and it’s imperative to master the art of vulnerability and reach out through the walls of our partitioned lives and into one another’s hearts and minds. Trust me, it’s not as bad as you think!

Reaching out always makes me feel better immediately, even if no-one replies, it’s that act of courage that makes all the difference. If there is a loving and friendly reply, then so much the better, but it’s the reaching out that counts.

But we want to feel heard too.

I am done with guilt and shame for needing certain things, and for my weaknesses.

I am now striving to find, and live in, my zone of genius (see Gay Hendricks for more on that).

I am working on finding my S.E.L.F. (Super, Elegant, Loving, Force)

To intimately know the S.E.L.F. and to accept it…perchance to…well, love it, is hard work!!

To live as the Super Elegant Loving Force that we truly are, requires some kind of surrender, the choice to do so, and the dropping of much baggage, just because we can. It’s an art, for sure.

Some of it can only be done in thought, carefully picking our way through our faulty assumptions about life.

The word and deed results come later.

I must be patient…and diligent.

It will come.

turquoise and yellow ochre textured paint with hand print and bird motifs
The Birds and Bees; acrylic on canvas
Heavenly Bodies; acrylic on canvas
bare tree stands against clear blue winter sky majestic and strong
Naked Tree; acrylic on canvas
a frond unfurls amidst a neon pink background surrounded by an aura of gold acrylic painting by phoebe thomasson
Pitcher Plant; mixed media on canvas
a purple and blue feather on a misty blue background
Shaman’s Feather; oil on canvas (sold)
link to the art shop and gallery of phoebe thomasson artist
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photo of a strip of light on foliage by phoebe thomasson

What Does Being in Balance Mean?

It might be easier to start with what it doesn’t mean…

  1. It doesn’t mean being ‘perfect’; either our generic idea of what perfect ‘is’ and ‘does’ or what our culture may laud as the present ‘perfection’.
  2. It is not about being a model, physically or otherwise.
  3. It does not mean unchanging or static, unresponsive, dogmatic, programmed or reactive.

So from this we can more easily see that it does mean…

  1. Being the best of what we, personally, are capable of being at any given moment with respect to our personal attributes, circumstances, conditions and predilections.
  2. Fulfilling our own criteria for ‘goodness’ and ‘decency’ that may not depend on any external source of approval or expectation.
  3. Constant and consistent adjustment to each new moment’s challenge, each event or situation.
  4. Being flexible and intelligent as we may have to compensate as we create new patterns moving forward.

Key words:


Perhaps this is why we so look up to the artists in our culture. They actively practice living and being these attributes. That is what being an artist is about. That’s not to say that artist’s are perfect (remember!) but they do demonstrate how to be, for maximum joy and fulfilment on planet earth. The artist spends her time mimicking and maintaining the rhythms of growth and renewal as set out for us by the natural world.

NATURE! There is our muse. Keep an eye on the seasons and get a feel for the cyclic patterns. This is our blueprint for balance.

image of a mans face with slightly deranged eyes title fragile brain pen and ink sketch with words by uk contemporary artist phoebe thomasson

It may be Hellish, but at least I’m here!

Recovery isn’t all about getting better. It’s also about adjusting, changing, accepting and releasing. We can need multiple processes to happen before we start to feel better in the way we desire to.

Just to give you an idea how this applies in the real world here is an insight into my current little drama.

Somehow, due to numerous factors I’ve manage to put my back out good and proper. I’ve been to the chiropractor and there is a loosening in process. I think in terms of blocked energy because after years of practical healing and recovery from multiple things, I now know it counts, and is real. Think life force/prana/chi or whatever vibes with you.

OK. So I identified my little psychological process that has been activated into my awareness. Here it is and goes something like this.

  • long term illness means you are cut off from previous modes of functioning.
  • we adjust our world accordingly and create our own alternatives.
  • life becomes a reflection of our ‘own little world’.
  • we recover! yay!
  • we come up against the need to ‘re-enter’ the rest of the world or the ‘real’ version of it.
  • we resist because we quite like it here.
  • we know this world and have lost the ability to be anything else so why not just stay?
  • we create something else to distract us from the growth process.
  • more pain!
  • yay! pain works a treat…it’s a different part of the body which is quite a change, I think I can continue to be dysfunctional after all!
  • Wait a minute! did I just say that?
  • Goddam it…I’m going to beat this things too!
  • And so we strive….

Onward we go and heal the next malady. But did we stop to consider why we create all this hassle? Here’s one perspective, for when you are into having a philosophical musing…

I believe illness teaches us more about compassion, resilience, tenacity, honesty, strength, weakness, reaching out, friends, loved ones, family, challenges, love, life and humanity than being a super-I-never-get-sick kind of guy ever will.

My dad was one of those and within a year he was dead with Cancer.

I’m ok with my bad back thanks…at least I’m alive.


The Yoga of Art…The Art of Yoga

Different strokes, same destination…

If you think about it, making squiggles on the canvas is not that different from throwing shapes on the Yoga mat. Not really. Here’s how I arrived at that conclusion.

Firstly, the processes involve some very similar elements. Confronting the unknown, and overcoming fear based resistance is one such psychological similarity. As we approach our stations we are prepared for something to happen, but can never predict exactly what will occur. The brush strokes, and the moves we make are dependent on so many factors including the time of day, temperature, weather, and without a doubt our own mood and physical condition. The result, each time is a unique experience, never to be repeated. This is from where we can draw inspiration to continue. It feels good to have simply got over the hurdle of ‘beginning’.

Next are the deeper states which we may reach if we practice long and hard enough. There are many cultural parallels between the crazy yogi and the mad artist. Who hasn’t seen the madcap Indian Yogis with their shrivelled arms in the air, emaciated limbs and huge reefers blazing as they hang upside down in the lotus whilst squeezing their genitalia into pretzel shapes? So what about the artist, locked away in his attic, chasing his muse, then shagging her, drinking green stuff and cutting of appendages? Hmm? Looking familiar now isn’t it?

There is madness on the path to the Divine…

Turning up at the canvas is a form of Yoga; at least, in a classical sense that is exactly what it is (see The Eight Limbs). Yoga is simply a term to denote the ultimate potential of the practice you are undertaking. The term yoga signifies that you are about to ‘yoke’ your ‘everyday self’ to your divine self, your higher being or indeed, your creative muse. We are actively tuning in for divine inspiration, for the subtle language that flows through us as we move, informing us as to what we are as we stretch for the stars, flow from the brush and diligently follow the sensuous whispers, bringing us closer to our deepest feeling of freedom and aliveness.

Our practice is to stay in the moment. That’s where it all happens…

The present moment is the only moment in which we can become aware of, and accept exactly what is going on.

It means coming out of your head and grounding into your body.

You cannot do anything from your head alone…

We need to use our bodies to ground ourselves into the here and now long enough to download the information gathered whilst we were up there swimming in star dust. This is what Yoga is for. Use it…often!

Without thorough grounding, our flights of fancy are near to useless. Without flights of fancy, our lives are nearly useless…

This is where art and yoga must become one. The head of the Artist must join up with the body of the Yogi in order to experience enlightenment.

The Present is your eternal gift and your link with the rest of the universe. What you do with it is up to you, but being and artist and doing yoga are two very good routes to indestructible happiness, if you know why you are doing them and where you want to go. It’s not an external thing.

 Enlightenment is an inside job…

This is the kind of wisdom that Yoga will give you, and the same goes for art, if you do it like a Yogi does it!

Q: How does a Yogi practice art?

A: With intention and belief.

Intention to become wiser and belief that the process will facilitate that outcome.

We like to think that wisdom automatically occurs with age and yet those over forty, like myself know that it is hard-won, quite literally with blood, sweat and tears.

However, we are never immune from our own mistakes no matter, seemingly how many times we have been through a process; time and again we will let our attention wander, our quality guard down and take our eyes from the primary motivation. Bam! The work sucks or we injure ourselves on the mat by pushing when we should have been breathing and staying put.

Now is the time to change! Only now exists! Past and future are myth and  magic…unless you are Dr. Who of course!

So what happens when our ‘enlightenment’ crumbles and we can no longer see the way forward. This is when we need to take a well-earned break. A breath, an hour, a day, month, year…whatever it takes to reconnect with our truest desires and our deepest most virtuous motivations for doing what we love to do. This is the time to practice, for as long as it takes to regain your centre, then go further. You may never have to go down again.

Art and yoga both serve as excellent respite from life…

Once we have fallen into familiar ruts and without the ‘time out’ phases in our lives, we will continue to allow the ego to rule, driven by the fear of anything it can conceive, it will run us into the dirt and not stop to pause as we flounder in the mud we create with our own tears.

The shocking truth is that the ego self couldn’t give a toss about us! This is possibly the biggest paradox we must face because we have come to believe that the ego is our protection. It’s not!

The Ego or the little ‘i’ is the part of us that plays the many roles we particularly dislike; the braggart, the judge, the critic, the slanderer, the greedy one that always wants the biggest and the best. It is a fear based hangover from our survivalist genetic heritage. Paradoxically, it doesn’t really care for us in the way it says it does; it’s a ruse to allow it to survive; a lie that perpetuates it’s existence and we fall for it every time. Yet what are we without it and it’s ‘definitions’?

Art and yoga are doorways to our truest selves…the parts that transcend every label. Pure experience.

In reality the ego (I am this and this) has nothing to do with who we really are, however because we identify with its endless labels, naturally we have the potential to think of ourselves as being quite horrid. When the ego isn’t whispering noisy some-thing’s into our ‘mind ears’ we are usually quite unaware of our peaceful natures.

The truest self within us is not afraid, it is not greedy, or resentful…It is thoughtful, caring, peaceful, joyful and fun! Do you remember that side of yourself? How often?

Perhaps if you got on your yoga mat today or went to buy one, or went to paint that picture or learn how to draw you would begin to find your muse again. Perhaps you could give your mind a holiday, rest and take stock. Perhaps you could experience the stars as you reach and stretch. Perhaps you could feel your juices flowing as the paint drips…?

I recommend that you begin your practice today, whatever form it takes and learn how to stay closer to your true self, and before long, the whole world will open up like a lotus flower sprouting from the mud.

We are all the Buddha…Just like what the Buddha said innit?

Be the flower, not the mud