Dedicated Awareness

1274 Relax and Succeed - Threat your relationshipsA few years back some newlyweds moved in down the street. You know the type. They were the kind of couple that frustrates unloved people because they are so doting, so nose-to-nose, as they bob in a bubbly beaming kind of love.

They got themselves the cutest little puppy. He wasn’t too sure-footed, but he made up for a lack of direction in enthusiasm. Their morning walks past my house looked like their conversations sounded, zipping from over here to over there for no apparent reason, but every minute of travel was full of life as he tangled the two together with his leash. I saw this little tableau play out every single morning at 6:00am.

After they had lived there a couple of years, their walk had switched to match the dog’s. Now it was a bit after 6:00am when they went by, although that worked because they could move faster thanks to the dog walking in a straight line while they just held hands and talked. Sometimes you could tell one had an early morning or a late night, because one or the other of them would go by alone with the dog, which worked, because by then the dog was less trouble in that he was much more predictable by then.

1274 Relax and Succeed - Do not let a lack of awarenessWithin a couple years after that people saw them together far less often. Their appearances grew less youthful and more professional. They walked and talked more professionally too, even to each other. By now they were almost ignoring the dog the walk was so predictable.

By about seven years in, he’s usually walking the dog alone, and if it’s not him alone it’s her. Whoever it is is now on the phone more than they pay attention to the dog. As we age we get jobs that demand more, our days start often earlier. Even the dog was starting to walk more slowly by then.

Over the next few years you saw them together and apart, but even when they were together it definitely seemed like the warmth had worn off. They’d go by, bundled up in winter clothes, never holding hands, often on their phones in separate virtual locations. I’d see the dog run around in the field chasing the ball, but no one was watching it, and they only looked for the ball after the dog was waiting for another throw, no more pride in him just finding it all.

I found it a bit sad to watch, because it had always been a good and loyal dog. But now he was slowing down and his running days were numbered and he seemed more anxious than ever to access his inner puppy. Mostly his excitement just frustrated them as they worked to calm him down.

1274 Relax and Succeed - The best time to plant a treeEventually the owner was waiting for the dog as it limped along. It just sat in the field now and watched the other dogs run, wishing it still could too. And so it would sit there, alone in the cold, while whoever was walking him checked their work messages before dragging him back to the house.

Of course eventually the dog died, as did the relationship. In fact, the track of their walks is very similar to the journey most relationships take, from focus and appreciation to assumption and demands. With each slightly colder step, we remove the heat from the relationship and we create unnecessary distance between us and others. This only happens due a lack of consciousness that it is happening.

The dog died with puppy still in his heart. But that pup could not play without someone to play with. So too went the relationship. The puppy; the loving, caring, bumbling, mistake-ridden, totally forgiven for crapping on the carpet puppy, was always present. All he needed was two partners who were prepared to stay connected and to notice he was there, as playful as ever. If we can all learn to do that one thing, we can all learn to keep our dogs for as long as we live.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Aftermath of an Accident

1273 Relax and Succeed - Dad there's been an accidentHe came in the door quite tentative, as though he was afraid of even being in the room. It was a kitchen, and his father was busy making a sandwich and was slightly distracted. “Hey Dad,” he softly interjected into the moment.

“Hey! How was the day?” His Dad spun his back to his son, opened the fridge, and started balancing a big collection of ingredients in his arms.

“You know, it was a day. Not perfect by any means. It had some parts that really sucked.”

His Dad smiled as he closed the fridge with his hip and turned back to making his sandwich. “Well, you know how life is. We don’t always get what we want,–[starts to sing it like Mick Jagger] but if we try sometimes…”

“Dad.”

[singing] “…we get what we need!”

“There’s been an accident–I was, I was in, an accident.”

The sandwich froze in suspended animation. Totally still, looking straight down at his bread, the father very evenly asked, “You’re okay. You’re not hurt? No one else is hurt?”

“No! No. No, I’m okay, everyone’s okay, the airbags worked and the ambulance guys said we’d all be okay.”

His father slowly looked up in a very slow, very scary horror movie villain-ish kind of way. “And you said something about… my car…?”

1273 Relax and Succeed - You get more apologies

His son gulped. “The car… the car is–I was in an accident. A lady, she was coming at me, and she was speeding and so I thought I had time to make the turn but….”

His father is listening in a very clinical way, and he responds likewise. His voice is unnervingly even. “Okay, well… if no one is hurt, and you’re not at a fault, then the other driver’s insurance will cover everything.” The son’s eyes bulge, and one might conclude that the official report may not align with his own. “The important thing is that everyone’s alright.”

“What if she lies though? It’ll be my word against her word, so…”

His father doesn’t take long to realise the son is delivering the truth in less painful portions. “Mmhmm. If the police can’t verify the stories they’re being told then who knows, right?” The ‘right’ part is goes with it’s own accusingly arched eyebrow. The father is barely containing an explosion of anger.

The son’s still too naive to notice his father is being facetious. “Yes! It makes me so mad that she might get away with that!”

“I can totally understand son.” The Dad slaps a piece of meat on the bread so hard it splatters his mustard, but he doesn’t even blink. “I can totally understand your anger. Your intense, burning, rage. It’s just so… intense, isn’t it? Isn’t it intense?”

The son’s starting to catch on and he realises he’s hiking pretty close to a bear. “Maybe I should just go and, and, think about this.” He gets an idea that he likes and runs with it. “Yeah! Dad, if it’s okay with you, it’d probably be good for me to meditate on how this happened to, you know, make sure I don’t do it again. I’m really sorry about the car.”

1273 Relax and Succeed - How much more grievous

The dad clears his throat, struggling through his pain. “Thank you. Ah, yeah. That sounds like a good idea. You go. And we’ll talk about this later when we’re both not so… emotional.”

The son eats it. He blew it and he knows it. Resigned, he looks his father in the eye. “Are we okay Dad? You and me? Is this too big?” The son looks genuinely scared.

The Dad sees his son’s character underneath his mistake. He’s still seething, he doesn’t deny that reality. But he can see that his son feels genuinely bad. The only explanation for that is that his son cares and shares his wish that it never happened. “Nothing is ever too big. Ever. Do not make me confirm that by having to visit you in prison. But even there–yes–I love you. But you’re right. This one is big. I am currently seething and I am barely not screaming at you.”

“If you have to I understand.”

“I would also be the first one to call the cops if you did anything serious.” The son puts his hands up. “How bad is it?”

The son grimaces. “I don’t want to tell you.”

“AH!” His father cries out in anguish and buries his face in his hands. Eventually, he slowly emerges by turning the act into a facial massage and a chance at attitude renewal. “Okay. Okay. Yes. Okay. Clearly Bad. Bad. It. Is. Okay. But you’re okay, everyone’s okay. That is the important thing. That is what’s important. It is.” He’s really trying to convince himself it is.

“Everyone is safe. All the people are good. It was just the things Dad. Only things, no people.”

The Dad sees his son’s attempt to paint it all as favourably as possible and that makes him madder. “Yes. Just the… just my… car.” He just wants the kid to take it! And he’d demand that if he was half good at doing it himself, but at twice his son’s age even he still sucked at just eating obvious responsibility. The whole reason was because people did care when they made mistakes. That made it hard to stay mad.

Suddenly the son turns and says very authentically, “I’m really sorry Dad. It was my fault. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m so sorry about your car. I know you really loved that old thing.”

“A lot of my life happened in that car.” His son just looks at the floor, understanding that it was more than a car that was wrecked. It was a talisman that helped his Dad find his way back to some cherished memories. The father clears his throat. “Okay. I am mad, you feel bad, that seems… appropriate. I would definitely like some time away from you though.”

1273 Relax and Succeed - Control your emotionsThe son puts up his hands again, guilty. “For sure.”

“Okay, good. Thank you. That will help. Please don’t ah… don’t try to make me feel better. I’ve just gotta–this is really painful, and I’ve just gotta feel that. If I don’t I’ll end up resenting you, and I love you, so that makes no sense. I can’t feel that love at the moment, but I know it’s there, so I’m going to trust the love I have for you and spend some time focusing on other things and eventually we’ll be able to sit in the same room without me picking at your smaller mistakes untiI I finally create an excuse to yell at you a bit. If and–no, when–that happens, please think of it kind of like a pressure valve. It’s better than a full explosion.”

The hands go back up again. “Totally understand. Perfectly reasonable price for such a big and horrible mistake.”

He’s still biting back a lot of fury, but he also proud of himself. “I like to think so.”

“No no–you’re doing good.”

“Really? Because honestly, I just want to kill you right now.”

The son grimaces. “I get it. I kind of want to be dead right now.”

Now the Dad grimaces a smile. “That helps.” He nods, with tense approval. “That helps; knowing you want to die.”

The son is entirely okay with that. “Good. Good. Yes. A slow and painful death. I deserve that pain.”

“You’re my son, I don’t know if I need the pain, but the death… the desire to die does make me feel a bit better. Thank you.”

“No problem. Thank you. This is…” The son motions to the space between them. “This is very reasonable.”

The Dad mock smiles. “Good. Good. Well, I think I should eat something–keep my blood sugars in alignment, you know. So, uh, you have a good day and we’ll, uh, talk.”

The son pauses. He looks at his Dad again. “Thanks Dad. I’m sorry.”

They have a moment where there eyes meet and they both know they’ll be okay. “Go.” The son half-smiles as he heads back out the way he came in.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Optimistic Nihilism

1272 Relax and Succeed - What is reality to youA lot of my students come to me with an issue or a problem. In most cases, their attraction to solving that issue will cause them to see most of the lessons through that lens. But every now and then I get a more philosophical student, who comes with a problem but quickly finds themselves, like me, fascinating by these very ideas themselves.

I recently worked with a gentleman who was having challenges activating his own life due to an honest sense of nihilism. The simple fact was, he had legitimately noticed a fact about reality but he didn’t see how it was possible to do much with that discovery and so it had trapped him rather than freed him. I recently ran into the video below and thought it was quite a good technical explanation of most of the process he did before he came to me, and it also includes a lot of what we focused on after we were working together.

It’s not all here of course, or I’d have just shown him this video, and even having done it personally, that doesn’t mean all of his problems are solved of course. It simply means that he no longer things they’re a problem to be fixed, but rather that they form the landscape he’s negotiating as he lives his life. In the end, it’s going to rain. The only question is; will that keep you from living your life, or are you prepared to get wet sometimes in your pursuit of meaningful experiences?

Are you prepared to be responsible for your own life? If you are, you are freed to have

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Connection and Expansion

1271 Relax and Succeed - Connection and expansionWe know it’s good for us to practice gratitude each day. We endeavour to steadily move through our day from observation to observation without layering any words over our connection to whatever or whoever it is that we’re appreciating. But while words themselves are a product of the subject-object world of the ego, the feelings behind them can both be genuine and worthwhile.

What we often do not do as an aspect of gratitude, is to stop to look back to find a very precise example of someone warranting our reconsideration and appreciation. Birthdays make us think of individuals, and things like anniversaries or marriages cause us to think about those events in our own lives, but there is no occasion in society that asks us to slow down and consider to whom we may not have shown the sort of gratitude that would feel as good for us to express as it would for them to hear.

Whether they know how important they are to your life or not, find this unsung person. Find them via social media or through friends, or work or school. Figure out who they are today, and find them and talk to them before Monday. If we’re going to grow by pushing outside of our comfort zone to talk to someone from out of the blue, then it’s nice that it gets to be for someone who’s done so much for us.

1271 Relax and Succeed - Feeling gratitude and not expressing itNo matter how timid we are about grabbing our own lives, surely we can see the value in making a genuine connection of genuine appreciation, because if we won’t even reach and grow for people we like, then our problem isn’t whether we’re good enough, our problem is we’re being too cowardly to ever learn enough to get good.

Free yourself. Any danger is strictly psychological and it lives only as your own opinion inside your head. Your thoughts of isolation do not mean you weren’t born belonging, but to revel in that belonging you need to embrace it with the depths of your soul. Open up. It’s less painful than our masks.

Thank someone. Not for them, for you. It’s in you to do.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Altering Course

1270 Relax and Succeed - Your past is merely your trajectoryToday you’re going to do something incredibly simple. This test will give you an idea of how developed you are in terms of your psychological and spiritual strength and control. There is no grading, no judging, this is strictly for you to get a grasp on how aware you really are and how much control you can exercise with that awareness.

So what’s the test? The first part is to actually, very seriously, spend this one day monitoring your thinking. Treat it like an important medical test. You’ll fast from food for a test for 12 hours. This is a 16 hour thought-fast. Start counting from the words you’re reading right now, right until falling asleep.

Virtually all of you will literally be talking to yourselves all day and not be aware of it. You can’t change thinking you don’t sense. Don’t be the thinking, be the thinker. Listen attentively for yourself.

1270 Relax and Succeed - Optical and sonic illusionsGet to know the ‘sound’ of your own internal voice and listen all day for it like it’s a burglar there to steal your concentration from the moment you’re in–because it is. Then take your awareness and use it to remember that thoughts are always choices, and then switch off any thought that is critical of yourself or another person, place or thing. You can listen to the rest, but shut down or convert as many negative, judgmental or opinionated statements as possible. Just for today. One day. How hard can it be?

It’s actually not hard at all because you’re the one currently picking 100% of your thoughts. But you currently do it randomly and unconsciously, the way your family raised you pick them up. But that’s not necessarily the best way for you, so start your journey now to increase your awareness.

Wake up inside your own head and start paying attention to the real reality, instead of that show in front of your eyeballs. Optical and sonic illusions prove your senses can be tricked, but your thoughts will always result in how you feel. Listen for your thinking and for this one day, consistently move it away from self-criticism and judgment.

Wake up. Listen. When necessary, alter your thought-course. It’s in you to do.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.