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July 17, 2020

Cracking the Charm Conundrum

Over many years I have enjoyed sailing a wide range of boats and each has a distinct characteristic. A small boat, like a dinghy, is highly manoeuvrable and adaptable but has limitations in terms of comfort and suitability for varied weather conditions.

A large sailing boat allows you to go further, perhaps more comfortably, at greater speed and might have an engine to help when there is no wind.

There is a visceral feeling when sailing a small boat – you are out on the water holding the sail via a rope in one hand and the tiller, or rudder, in the other hand and you are constantly assessing the situation . You are reading the sky and observing the clouds for the wind direction and wind speed. You are feeling the wind on your skin, you are looking at the water to check currents and see if there is a swell or big waves coming along.

You are constantly having to make adjustments to ensure you are moving forward in the direction you would like with as much ease as possible.

When I set out sometimes I have a particular destination in mind, or perhaps because I love speed I am just going to sail about and catch the strongest wind so I can go as fast as possible in any direction.

Sometimes I am charmed by a particular plan before I have even got into the boat, and on other occasions something might appeal after I have got out onto the ocean.

Following charm is sometimes seen as capricious, erratic or impulsive but as a long term meditator I have found I no longer spend a great deal of time working out what to do, pondering for ages over all the pros and cons, overthinking.

So often we feel the need to do all the research, check everything out or test it before making a decision when the answer is there from the beginning. That first instinctive correct response is always under assault from our ego and intellect and when we learn to trust our intuition we make better, and quicker, decisions.

In life, as with sailing, as we move forward we have to make continuous adjustments –  everything is in a state of change, nothing is constant. That requires us to be alert and adaptable, to be in present moment awarenesses.

Sometimes these changes are almost imperceptible and on other occasions they are much bigger requiring us to change direction or perhaps even abandon our intention of going far because everything is in a state of flux.

Occasionally we are stumped and don’t know if we should engage with what is charming us. Sometimes we have a stronger opposite feeling – one of aversion and this can help us too.

On many occasions when I have been sailing a brisk wind has started up, the sky darkens and a storm is imminent. The destination does not out-charm the journey and I usually turn round and head home, pleased by the prospect of staying dry and comfortable.

It is when we recognise and acknowledge what we do not want to engage with that we can turn in the opposite direction where it is more likely we will find the answer.

When we resist change, when we resist moving forward, things can get a bit bumpy and uncomfortable.

It is only when we turn our face towards the oncoming ‘wind’ that we find we have some energy and some motion, which we can harness. Things then become smoother and we move forward with grace and without difficulty.

We are constantly assaulted by charm coming at us from every direction and in multiple forms  – people, ways to spend our time or money, social media … and we often engage with these things without really assessing their merit – without asking if it is helpful and nourishing or just a temporary form of amusement or satisfaction.

We can be charmed by a new friendship or job, a new pair of trainers or delicious cake, to do this or to do that, and we all like some pay-and-display from time to time but so often what charmed us is short-lived, temporary and unfulfilling.

Finding a way to assess charm more accurately means less deliberation and delay – we can take spontaneous right action, trusting our intuition and innate wisdom.

The more we can disengage from the chatter of our ego and intellect the more connected we are to those inner feelings which lead to greater fulfilment. Our energy and clear sightedness together with perspective and acuity help us make the right decisions at the right time.

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Anthony Thompson  |  Contribution: 1,540