The Snap

Yesterday I had a nap – not really a nap, more like lying on my back staring into space not exactly thinking about anything – to let my day melt. Throughout my work, I pick up stowaway energy, become fixed on minutia, and allowed the immaterial to stick like gum on a shoe to my conscious. I felt myself in conflict with my own calm. It was a strange panic to be in a form of fuzziness, a fuzziness I didn’t realize that had existed before.

It creeps up on you, this heavy clammy feeling. It’s like unwashed sweat after a run that sticks to you and you only really notice it when you pause and think.

A friend messaged me to tell me they were worried about me, that I seemed different and aggravated. I had no idea what he was talking about. I do now and it took me to follow his advice to see. The advice: meet a buddy, have some drinks and unwind. I didn’t do the first due to COVID but the latter I did. Strangely, in that moment after my beer and moment to unwind there was a snap.

It was a snap in my own mind. I woke up, my head was clear suddenly. It was like hitting the refresh button on a crashed webpage without even realizing it was crashed. It opened up my mind to the power of peace. Peace within, taking a moment to meditate on the reality of things, despite not sensing anything wrong.

Maintenance perhaps? We all need a moment to check in with ourselves like an spiritual and philosophical MOT. That’s what it is, isn’t it? An awakening of the true mind, a true self in to see reality for what it is. And in this reality, I was fuzzy, focussed on the wrong things, experiencing a rather passive expression of anger and irritation without even realizing it.

I need to share this video, of Mooji’s thoughts on the subject, of the realisation of observation, observing this strangeness of the self.

Please subscribe and like this video to support his channel

Sometimes, a little pause, a little moment to see the self enables you to see others and the Whole as it truly is not what we perceive it to be behind a haze.

“I have withdrawn from affairs as well as from society, and from my own affairs in particular: I am acting on behalf of later generations.” – Letters from a Stoic VIII

Act on behalf of the future, the future of you and the future of the Whole. Take a breath in this moment, find your centre even if you never thought you’d needed to find it before. You will find a strange new peace, a shower of light washing away the fuzz stuck to your skin; a lightness of the mind and soul as you embrace the world with wider, clearer eyes.

It’s an instant snap when you find it. As if Thanos clicked his fingers to allow you to see and embrace your power as a human being and expression of Universe rather than turn to dust (then reappear five years later following the valiant sacrifice of Iron Man, of course).

Growing Roots

I was in a conversation today about feeling uprooted and disconnected from one’s kin and lost like driftwood. I can empathise with the feeling, finding a place to grow my roots seems to be a recurring theme. Yet is it as complex as we think it is? In the spiritual sense, it’s very easy to grow roots and ground ourselves to the Earth and the Whole.

Very simply, breathe and follow the breath until it is your only focus.

Close your eyes and close your mind to it’s own noise.

Keep your bare feet in contact with the floor beneath you and imagine roots sprouting from them and pushing down and down and down.

Reach the centre of the planet and wrap your roots around the core.

Isn’t that all we need to feel connected when the self evident truth of that we are, is not enough? We are all stardust of the same stock, after all. But it takes time to accept that and clarity to see it. Even in the genealogical sense, we can’t escape our roots as much as we try so why try? You can’t change the place of your birth after the fact so why examine the how’s and why’s of unmovable facts.

In the end, perhaps the feeling of drifting and restlessness is born from the heights to which we grow. When we scrape the sky, the earth below feels insignificant and we forget that we need it to exist. We cannot live without the dirt, that unavoidable stuff that binds us all together in nature. Can we fight our nature? No.

Roots are a part of us as they are a part of any plant on this planet. We need space to grow them out, time to do so, fertile ground and a will to do it. But that’s easier said than done isn’t it in shifting sands?

How do we find this perspective, this downward view to search for grounding? Of course, my favourite Roman emperor has the answer as usual.

“Rational beings collectively have the same relation as the various limbs of an organic unity – they were created for a single cooperative purpose. The notion of this will strike you more forcefully if you keep saying to yourself: ‘I am a limb of the composite body of rational beings.’ If though by the change of one letter from ‘l’ to ‘r’ [melos to meros], you call yourself simple a part rather than a limb, you do not yet love your fellow men from your heart: doing good does not yet delight you as an end in itself; you are still doing it as a mere duty, not yet as a kindness to yourself.” – Meditations 7.13

As limbs are a part of the body, so are trees a part of the forest; as the tendons are the roots to these limbs. What connects you to others and the world around you is not a state of mind but a constant fact for you to remind yourself of. A constant love for you to remind yourself of.

A constant fact for me to remind myself of. A constant love for me to remind myself of.

The Void Within

Something is missing in my life. Maybe I’ve spoken about it before but it’s a feeling that comes and goes like the rain. It’s a feeling of emptiness. It’s a heavy vacuum within me like a black hole that pulls downward from the base of my heart to the pit of my stomach. It’s a cold feeling and it travels to my brain around where I imagine my third eye to be and sits there like a feeling of dread.

What is this dread?

It’s loneliness.

Yet I have friends?

What is this loneliness other than the gnawing broodiness coming on. A need for a deeper connection within myself like a primal directive to find a home and tribe of my own. Had I not evolved from these baser needs? Surely as a civilized man in the 21st Century, it is unnatural to have this almost biological lachrymose. So, remove the judgement. I’ve done that yet my body persists and the chemicals in my mind still demand satisfaction. It’s like a drug, a high on being loved and giving love.

I once purchased an in depth horoscope analysis to dissect my nature as a Taurus. As pathetic as that was in the rational mind, it was accurate and representative of a time before I began to grow into who I am now. Yet some things stuck. The first being that I rejected my mother emotionally but embraced my father and in doing so, vulnerability and feelings of love are seen as hostile actors. They’re seen as deep needs but also threats. Leading to, without a sense of balance, in fighting between masculine and feminine energies with both sabotaging and craving deeper human connections on an emotional and sexual level. The latter of that was something I overindulged in to try and to fill that vacuum (take that how you will) but it was never satisfied because surface isn’t enough. The surface of a still lake looks pretty but the true wonders lie within its waters.

It’s not very stoic though, is it? A lonely heart. I’ve been in love twice before. Both times being poor turnouts and I’ve been hurt before too. Yet we grow and go, don’t we?

What can we do in the face of this kind of void? A growing emptiness that only the right thing can fill. But then, would we be so distracted on the idea of perfection that we miss it entirely? That’s the curse isn’t it? With Tinder and Bumble, we look for the perfect match but sometimes miss what exists in our present moment. We forget the things that are really important, high on our own quests and desires that unbalance us to be able to find true balance, a true harmony with the yin and yang with our twin-flames.

Supposedly, when it comes to twin-flame romances, it may take lifetimes to meet each other and throughout lifetimes coming close and then missing the mark only to reunite in another meat sleeve centuries down the line, our past lives forgotten, our souls washed clean of the muck. Yet that’s not particularly encouraging is it? To be subjected to a life of mediocrity with the hopes that the next one will be better? Is it not the more stoic thing, the more rational thing, and more balanced thing, to find harmony in the present rather than wait for it to be thrust upon us through the window of death?

Yet we relapse into this void, this ache.

“It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it.” – Darth Kreia, Knights of the Old Republic 2

Is loving and desiring to love, against our nature? Or is it so intrinsically human that to deny the ache for meaning in the arms of another is the thing against our nature. Is this all we need? As people? Or is the answer rooted in the inadequacy of the self?

“Without stirring abroad one can know the whole world; without looking out of the window one can see the way of heaven. The further one goes the less one knows. Therefore the sage knows without having to stir, identifies without having to see, accomplishes without having to act.” – Tao Te Ching XLVII

As the harmony within settles and the balance of my chi takes hold, is there anything else but certainty in the okayness of it all? It will be okay: for me, for you, for us. Can you look in the mirror – truly look – and find your way? I’m smiling now, but I can’t tell if it’s a happy smile or one of simply amusement at the universe and my place in it. How fickle it all is, how fleeting and how much more fun it would be to share it with someone. All of us clinging to the surface of this rock, smiling at it’s irreverence. We are together in that, at least.

Z3N0

Heart in Hand

I never dissected a heart in school and my only experience with heart was when it was diced and pan fried with garlic, onion and white wine. It was a very strange experience, slicing into this lump of muscle and exposing the valves and ventricles, poke at the tendons with a spike. When watching Grey’s Anatomy the character Cristina Yang talks about the amazing feeling she gets when she holds a heart and cuts into it. She talks about the perfectness of the organ, the key to human existence and object of mystery to the great poets and romantics. I’m seven seasons in and I must have heard about the wonders of the cardiovascular system a hundred times. Yet today at 10:30am, I stared at this organ and felt something strange.

The only other time I’ve had this feeling that I can remember is when I was sitting in a religious studies class and sat passively enjoying the discussion. Something in me told me that I had to research teacher training courses, master’s degrees and all sorts of avenues because something in me said I must. It was like a switch that said: you love this. I still do love the discussion and I make a point of it everyday rather publicly.

Yet today I held a heart in my hand.

It may have been a lamb heart, a lamb with some serious post mortem clotting and some fatty build up in the aorta. Still, it felt right. Almost a cosmic wink in my direction. Here I was, holding a heart after spending years looking for heart within myself and within others and I was just casually holding one, feeling the fibres with a scientific curiosity. It felt very right, and while I did struggle at first to achieve clean cuts with the right-handed specialized scissors, I could see myself finding time to practise this skill. I can see myself badgering colleagues to do it again, to teach me to perfect it and then to sow it back up again like a child with a Fisher-Price doctor playset.

In these moments, as rare as they have been, I watch branching timelines stemming from a single moment. A single revelation. Like somewhere out there in the multiverse and across the infinite ocean of parallel-timelines, all this potential has already been made manifest. In these moments, I love life. I love the infinite possibility of it all.

It’s not just the heart though is it? It’s what it represents to us all. This heart in my hand – how many hearts have I held in my hand and been so careless before? Has it taken to this moment when it’s made manifest for me to realize the delicate nature of our hearts – not in the physical sense but emotional sense. I’ve felt mine break more times than I care to admit and I think I’ve discard and disregarded to many. No more.

So I go into the future, researching medical school in Scotland or the USA and weighing up my debts. But I also go forth with the promise to treat every heart in the chests of fellow humans with the same gentleness and understanding as I provided to the dead lamb. Was it a spiritual moment? I think it was, as I felt this strange desire from outside of me that said: you need to do more, you need to know more, you need to feel more. A friend of mine would call this divine intervention and perhaps it was something else. Perhaps it was a hint of my purpose. A nudge towards my service.

What is your service? What nudges have you felt?

Or perhaps it was nothing at all and these moments allow us to take pause and cherish what we have, what we don’t have and what we know and what we don’t know. A little active passiveness never hurt the soul, after all.

Still, I look good in a lab coat whether it be divine intervention or not.

What You Wish For

There is a lot of stuff out there about manifesting and attracting energies. The concept of speaking your intention into the universe and receiving has never really settled with me until today.

At work, I bought myself a cinnamon donut and a banana milkshake. I didn’t check the ingredients of either product and being allergic to nuts, this was stupid. I got back to work from the café and said to a co-worker: “I hope this has nuts in so I can have a birthday at home tomorrow“. Of course, I didn’t really mean it, I was making a joke; I’ve been negotiating for another colleague to make me a banoffee pie for the occasion and I’d rather not miss it. Not fifteen minutes after I said the words, I nearly threw up on someone after a misplacing my trust in a burp.

I was on the fence before about manifesting and the power of intention but this seemed to tip me over. Maybe it was karma for being so smug about it and a reminder from my fleshy vehicle and Universe to not be so glib. While co-workers panicked around me looking for my epi-pen I was quite relaxed and amused by the situation. I used to say that if the devil himself appeared before me, that I would not be scared but in fact relieved as if there is a devil, there is a God and there is a plan bringing certainty to uncertainty. For a strict atheist, someone may call me a fantasist as it’s coincidence. Yet, I’ve never been a believer in coincidence as all things have cause and all things have consequence so surely coincidence is a product of the Whole and thus pre-prepared.

So what do we do in the face of a daunting existence of such a fast acting karmic force? Simply: endure and adapt. Either it exists and we should speak our truths plainly and with good intent or it doesn’t and we should speak our truths plainly with good intent.

“Either a stew, an intricate web, and dispersal into atoms: or unity, order, and providence. Now if the former, why do I even wish to spend my time in a world compounded at random and in like confusion? Why have any concern other than somehow, some time, to become ‘earth unto earth’? And why actually am I troubled? Dispersal will come to me, whatever I do. But if the latter is true, I revere it, I stand firm, I take courage in that which directs all.” – Meditations 6.10

Your directed energy and what you put into the universe is what the universe gives back to you. Every YouTube reiki healer and tarot reader will tell you the same thing. Of course, that often comes with the caveat that they want you to buy their merch to dispel any bad energy…

“Nature gives all and takes back. To her the man educated into humility says: ‘Give what you will; take back what you will.’ And he says this in no spirit of defiance, but simply as her loyal subject.” – Meditations 10.14

Either a collection of random parts forming a greater mechanism and we are all connected in our ways, or we are designed as such and we are all connected in our ways. It doesn’t matter. What matters is, the flow is constant and reactive. Whether it be a harsh word to another that comes back around to you or a miscalculated cinnamon donut.

You get what you wish for whether you like it or not. As I’ve said before, to quote the philosopher Jagger: “you can’t always get what you want.”

It’s becoming a bit of a running theme or a cosmic joke. Maybe it’s all a cosmic joke. Whatever it is, all that I know is true: despite being possible deadly, cinnamon donuts are the shit.

Z3N0

A Reading List

I thought I’d make another rather calm post, more directly informative – like my meditation guide. This one, as the name suggests is a personal reading list of mine that covers my own growth as a stoic, a Taoist, and a philosopher – if I can call myself that.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman, Emperor, Statue, Face, Beard
The author of Meditations for reference

So without further a-do:

  • Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
    • Rather infamously at this point, my go to starting point. Digestible and easy to pick up where you left off for passages.
  • How to be a Stoic, Prof Massimo Pigliucci
    • A modern exploration of stoicism and actually really funny.
  • Letters from a Stoic, Seneca
    • The next upcoming quote source – a collection of letters and correspondence from Seneca to his friend throughout his life.
  • Discourses and Selected Writings, Epictetus
    • Considered the ultimate handbook on stoicism and source of the wealth of information in How to be a Stoic.
  • The Analects, Confucius
    • While not stoicism, the analects lays out a rather structured view on vice and virtue from various narrators and writers noting the lessons and legacy of Confucius.
  • Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze
    • The primary text of Taoism formed by a collection of chapters and verses.
  • The Book of Chaung Tzu, Chuang Tzu
    • A contemporary of Confucius, this book is a collection of tales and accounts of the applications of The Way.

Now for books that I have no idea what I’m letting myself in for with. Hot of the presses arriving today via the brutal efficiency of Amazon:

  • The Cynic Philosophers from Diogenes to Julian
    • This book was picked up because of the story recounted within How to be a Stoic about Diogenes which has stuck with me since reading that book quite a while ago now. Diogenes was in his bucket-thing in the centre of Athens relaxing in the sunshine as he did. Alexander of Macedon, the great conqueror arrived in the city with his entourage followed by an adoring crowd to seek the wisdom of the philosopher. He said, “What can you say to your Emperor?”, or something to the effect – I can’t remember the exact quote. Diogenes replied: “Move you’re blocking the sun.”
  • Selected Works, Cicero.
    • What shelf of Greco-Roman philosophy would be complete without Cicero?

More works are to follow on this reading list, from Plato to Aristotle and the myriad of Buddhist texts will soon appear now doubt. Yet for now, this is a start and I recommend that you, like me, start here.

Quick Guide: Meditation

I’ve spoken a lot about meditation and the wonders of meditation yet I’ve never actually spoken about how to meditate. Surprisingly, it takes more work than it looks, not thinking about anything. It’s our natural blank state yet it requires a lot of stripping back. I think of like scraping ugly paint of a wall to be able to redecorate: it’s a lot of effort, it can be tedious and it requires technique to make things easier.

  1. Find a place to meditate. It can be anywhere: sitting or lying down preferably. At first it would be easier to find a quiet place that you are comfortable in and a place where you won’t be disturbed for the length of the practice. Meditation and being at peace is a state of mind not a place so over time, the exterior will become less important than the interior. Noises like lawnmowers and fans and air conditioners fade away because when you are in that space, nothing matters.
  2. Close your eyes and let you internal gaze drift to the tip of your nose and relax your face and jaw. Make sure you can properly relax so that means going for a pee break before.
  3. All of your focus needs to be on your breath. Slow and intentional; travelling from your nose or mouth down your trachea and into your lungs and out again. Feel the texture of the air and temperature and sensation. The focus will clear your mind of all of the noise.

And that’s it. From five minutes to ten minutes to half an hour. My problem is that I tend to fall asleep because of how I meditate and that’s normally in bed. Comfort is a double edged sword when connecting to the universe. It took me a good three to six months to be able to meditate easily, there was a lot of ugly paint to scrape off.

I’ve found mantras help me to connect to that headspace and the universe around me. The first, being something rather silly but helpful: the Jedi Code.

There is no emotion, there is peace;

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge;

There is no passion, there is serenity;

There is no chaos, there is harmony;

There is no death there is the Force.

In my recital, “The Force” becomes “Universe” or “God” or “The Tao”.

I’m not going to tell you what to believe further than that past some grounding pop culture. Yet I would recommend if you are spiritual and you are looking for something further than clarity of the self – which is a noble goal and not to be dismissed – research you own path. It’s not my place to put you on it or set you on it because of how deeply personal each of our connections to Universe is. However, I will be linking some channels and videos that helped me below. If a thing feels right, usually, it’s because it is.

For those looking for a spiritual starting point.
For those looking just to let that shit go.

Z3N0

P.S. If you like those two videos and the content of the creators, please of course show your appreciation with likes and subscribes for more.

The Entertainment of Conflict

From Grey’s Anatomy to Batwoman to The Vampire Diaries most stories in the modern fiction landscape have the singular focal point of emotional conflict. With conflict there is no story. It’s almost as if there were so few solely dedicated Mr Tuvok stories in Star Trek: Voyager because the stoic Vulcan had no conflict and when he did, it required the influence of outside actors. Another good example from Star Trek is the case of Mr Data who’s best stories came from times that he activated his emotion-chip. Would we watch House MD if Dr Greg House shrugged off things? What would WandaVision be, if Wanda Maximoff viewed death in a stoic way? Kids love Anakin Skywalker and see him as the coolest Jedi despite being the antithesis of stoicism.

Stripping this back, taking this back 2000 years, to the gladiator pits of Ancient Rome, we see the nature of our love of conflict bare faced. Because that’s what is it is. We find entertainment in stories of people inflicting pain on each other. It’s almost a human desire to see it whether that’s in the Colosseum or in a deathmatch in Halo or in some trashy teen rom-com on Netflix. What’s the difference between inflicting physical pain and emotional pain? Both leave scars.

“The spectators insist that each on killing his man shall be thrown against another to be killed in his turn; and the eventual victor is reserved by them for some other form of butchery; the only exit for the contestants is death. Fire and steel keep the slaughter going.” – Letters from a Stoic VII.

Here, Seneca is speaking about the barbarism of the half-time shows at the Colosseum but doesn’t it sound familiar? We delude ourselves with sophistication but with each comic book, each novel, each TV show, each film franchise, each is just a protagonist going against and an antagonist over and over again. The only escape is death for both the spectator and the participant.

I was a habitual watcher of The Jeremy Kyle Show before that was cancelled. It was an emotional and at times literal gladiator match under the guise of conflict resolution broadcasted everyday. It was fantastic and I hated it because of how much I liked it. Of course, I never enjoyed the conflict and drama when it was thrust upon me, as is the way. We haven’t changed as human beings from the Romans to our post-modern reality televised Truman Show 21st Century existence.

I even know people who start fights because they’re bored to watch the chaos. I used to do it in secondary school for the shit and giggles. It’s wanton violence on the soul for what? A little butchery at lunchtime? Can we humans be truly entertained without an antagonist to conflict with?

There are six types of conflict in all fiction even in non-fiction: person versus person; person versus society; person versus nature; person versus technology; person versus self, and person versus supernatural.

All conflict in our lives can be boiled down to those six things. Why are so entertained by it? In Taoism, this conflict between yin and yang is life so does it stand to reason that life is conflict? Is our purpose in life is to stand as a rock in this conflict uninterested, apathetic? Is that even possible? We are both the conflict and the peace. We neither one thing nor the other, are we? And, in the end:

“Yesterday a sperm: tomorrow a mummy or ashes.” – Meditations 4.48.2

I don’t think I’m educated or experienced enough to decide. I’m certainly not far enough along the path to come to any rational conclusion on my own right now. Does it make me any less of a good man for indulging as a spectator in what I can only see to be human nature?

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Meditations 10.16

Only one thing that I can be certain of is that Anakin Skywalker is a terrible Jedi.

Z3N0

A Mindful Moment

Mindfulness as a practice is a fundamentally stoic one yet particularly spiritual. Taking a step back and to be absorbed in the simplicity of existence removing the façade of the complex and the overdone is an underrated pleasure. It’s one of the few pleasures that can be called wholly virtuous. To be free of thought and noise in a single meditative, mindful moment is a practice in presence.

In the spiritual sense, I like to keep the catchphrase of my favorite Reiki master Sarah Louise Tilsley: “grow roots“. Stepping back within your own mind to use your third eye to picture roots shooting from your heels to the core of the Earth to tether you is something I practice nearly every day. I breathe in, picturing myself breathing up the nutrients and energies from the ground up and out. I focus on the the movement of breath on this journey, nothing else matters but the simplicity of the fundamental elements and my relationship with those elements. My blood is oxygenated, my mind is calm and my soul is at peace. Mindfulness and energy work is not difficult, your perception of what it takes to start makes it difficult. It’s a universal force for everything and everyone.

In the more rational sense, when it comes to mental health, being mindful puts everything into a relative placement. The skewed and chaotic priorities and immaterial issues of 2021 slip away for you to process in your own time, in your own way. Mindful moments exist when time rejects meditation. Yet, when we think about it, even time is a construct and immaterial: everything happens in it’s own time. You will make it to work exactly when you need to; a child will be born exactly when it needs to; a person dies exactly as they do regardless of the time. The planet keeps spinning.

Today I didn’t realize what I needed until I took a mindful moment and what I needed was just that: simplicity. The smell of a book and sensation of linen on my fingertips and an absence of thought was exactly what I needed. What can you feel? What can you see? What can you hear? What can you taste? Connect to it and feel it with no thought nor judgement. Be one with the universe around you and sink into it accepting of the endless hug it’s giving you. Close your eyes and breathe – it’s all you need.

To be morbid, when we meditate or be mindful we practice death. Yet is this morbid? Or is this beauty of reality. To be still is to be dead, to be dead is natural, to be alive is to be still and so on and so on. The opposite of life is not death as death is a part of life. Do not fear being without thought or judgement or the confines of space and time. Just breathe.

“Withdraw into yourself. It is the nature of the rational mind to be self-content with acting rightly and the calm it thereby enjoys.” – Meditations 7.28

As you grow roots outward, a journey inward is needed to discover your own. How can any of us find anything amongst the noise of our own thoughts? Personally, I’ve always got five or six tabs open in the web browser that is my conscience mind yet, in moments through mindfulness I can make a be bee-line through the chaos to the close button. How? A moment of mindfulness: the smell of a book, the touch of soft linen on my fingertips. Silence and stillness is an underrated pleasure of life, and learning to be silent and still is an underrated skill.

Z3N0

Empathy Sponge

Something I live with and only recently came to terms with, as in acceptance (thank you, stoicism), is that I am an empath. I’m not sure what that means scientifically, the Myers-Briggs Type Index isn’t particularly helpful as I flit from INTP to INFP to INFJ depending on the test and that’s the extent of my psychological knowledge. Although, I have seen lots of crime shows and read a book on neurology but that hasn’t seemed to be of any help. The spiritual discourse, is much more accessible to me: taking on other’s energy and having to clear it off and having stowaway emotions and the like.

Example A:

I was at work and a member of the team began to share some things about their lives and started crying. Everyone had lots of things to say and I didn’t – I was busy. When the moment passed and she was okay, someone said: “Z, such a typical man, can’t deal with emotions.”

I left the room shortly after and stood in the toilet having to deep breath and fight back tears that I knew weren’t mine.

Example B:

I have a highly controlled and very closely monitored libido, primarily for stoic reasons. Power over the self is the ultimate power – the only power I have – and due to Lockdown, things have been quiet on that front. Yet I’ve recently connected with someone who I admire for being so free with their sexuality and accepting of it rather than control it or lock it down. Suffice to say, the closer we have become as friends and as connected we have become, it has had an affect on me. A testament to the connection perhaps as we’ve never met in person.

Example C:

My hobby of a night is to play Star Wars: The Old Republic and have an active role in a roleplay guild – like Dungeons and Dragons but in space. It’s almost like method acting as while not nearly to the same extent as they do for my character, things bug me ‘ooc’ or out-of-character. It shouldn’t, I know this: it’s fictional puppetry yet the personalities seem to have an effect. When the group is calm, having fun through the characters so am I. Yet when they are not, I feel myself agitated.

While the energy of most people washes past, when I make connections with individuals, it seems I catch stowaways. For a stoic, this is a challenge and perhaps entirely contradictory to the entire philosophy. Yet, I disagree. I think it’s a spiritual or psychological thing I just happen to have that I can adapt to or be drown in it. Maybe I’m alone in my experience as an empath: these emotions hit me, I don’t know what to do with them and they hang on like a heavy backpack. Sometimes, of course the burden isn’t too bad like in the case of my sexually liberated friend – not bad at all.

Yet it takes a toll on me, physically. After a day at work where I may encounter hundreds of people all with their own energies, emotions and ailments, I am mentally drained to a point where I struggle to keep my eyes open. Some days at work, I may not even do anything physically demanding, spending most of it sitting, yet I feel like I’ve ran a marathon.

I deal with it because I have to. I manage it and protect myself through meditation to empty my mind and aura. I choose my friends more carefully based on the baggage I end up having to carry which is not an indictment of them at all. Perhaps it is sometimes. A person who is deeply angry at the world with no intention of changing just from the energy that they present is worth avoiding where possible. In another sense, it’s been helpful when I can understand another person better and do what I can for them in my capacity acting in a virtuous way. Of course I can get the wrong vibes. Sometimes they cross wires with my own feelings and others’ feelings but navigating that is part of the process of not just an empath but a stoic – even just as a human being.

Meditation is the key to being a healthy, functional empath. There was a time where I would absorb all the energies around me and become so tired and dismissive of everyone that I just told them to fuck off because I’d rather be alone. It makes things more intense, this ability that I’m still only the cusp of empowering. It makes every relationship feel richer and intimacy the more intimate. Yet the price is then, disappointment or a betrayal of the self when this becomes or is unhealthy. As a child I was always called sensitive yet I never appreciated it for two reasons. For one Batman was my icon and secondly, it felt untrue. I was being sold a simplistic lie that never sat well. I am a stoic but I’m also an empath; a rocky road to be sure, but my only road.

So, I put it out there, fellow empaths: how have you managed? I’d love to hear from you; let’s help each other. Or not, of course, if you don’t want to. As individuals and as rational beings: we got this.

Z3N0