What Death Provides

1290 Relax and Succeed -English countrysideChurches in England often look as though they’ve sunken into the landscape. That’s because the buried bodies around them have, for centuries now, biodegraded to create far more earth. So the churches didn’t sink, but rather their parishioners melted back into the nature. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust as they say.

The atoms and molecules that comprise ‘us’ and that carry our consciousness are only ‘us’ temporarily. If we think about that in a certain way we realize that this means we are free. Even the worst of our mistakes will merely melt into obscurity, as they did for the people who surround those churches. This is the grand perspective.

Far from avoiding thoughts of death, troubles are less troubling if we put them in the context of a natural death. Regardless of how much we choose to think about our ‘mistakes,’ they too will fade into larger and larger historical pile, where billions of people’s mistakes are added every single day.

Suicide is unnecessary because clearly we are not alone, and since that’s the case –a natural death generally leaves barely enough time for some really cool experiences so we have to keep having them. If we pay enough attention we’ll notice, when we feel worst is when we’re experiencing the least. So we can be bold about having experiences.

Our egos and ‘lives’ are just bits of ice temporarily floating in a sea of universal water. One day we will all melt back into all that surrounds us. Just like those people in those cemeteries. Who today thinks about those people’s mistakes? Even if they’ve only been gone for hours, most people just want the dead person back because they loved them, ‘mistakes’ and all. That shows us how much mistakes truly count for.

Each of us is preciously unique. Our identities get created when bits of the universe are frozen together by our independent thoughts. That’s why people can change; we can change our thoughts. But when there’s no one to think our problems into existence they cease to exist as our problems and they too melt into some new reality.

The clicking of our ice with other ice is what we call ‘life.’ People can see that as dismissive if they view it the way I don’t mean it. But the way I mean it, the ice is like a wonderful shadow theatre putting on shows for our entertainment and we too are characters. In seeing this for what it is, we gain a stunning reverence for the generousness of the water in allowing the whole thing to happen.

Religious readers may be familiar with that feeling of the water; something huge and powerful and trustworthy at the heart of everything. That’s what allows ‘life’ to happen and it’s everywhere, which is why we can find beauty in everyone and everything. We’re all bits of nature flowing together in the most amazing ways.

1290 Relax and Succeed - When we feel worst is when

The freezing action everyone knows personally as well, because what we freeze is an ego –a collection of perspectives. Our ego is where we tell ourselves the story of our lives. It plays a role in life with others so we don’t want to be rid of it entirely; we have to be someone. We just don’t want to take who we are too seriously and think that we are our thinking.

Remember; our consciousness does the freezing, but it is not the shape that we are left with. Those are only our personal, changeable thoughts. The real us is who thinks them. If we meditate on this enough we’ll fall into a way of being able to actually see life as a less personal dance of water and ice; like beautiful entertainment for our soul.

But imagine if your TV gave you the same level of feeling you get from being in real life? Conscious life is like the ultimate sensovision TV. But unlike TV, living in reality gives us the opportunities to have profound and joyful and awe-filled personal experiences, including painful ones.

Do we sometimes get caught up in our character just like we do in movies with the hero? For sure. But the lights eventually come up and we come to our senses. Those lapses don’t change the fact that pain or joy, it’s all an inconsequential dance that just happens to be profoundly beautiful.

We have to be in a certain place to feel motivated to truly slow down to genuinely contemplate these ideas. But if we do, what we find is that we can live with courage. We can live as ourselves, with the conscious awareness that our successes and failures will both only melt into the past regardless. Our job is to merely be.

If we truly grasp that, it really takes a lot of pressure off of life, and that allows us to be ourselves. We need to surrender into our reality instead of trying to always make it better. We need to slow down and exhale. We need to let go. We need to simply let the universe be, and through our resulting and profound appreciation, we can become one with it.

peace. s

PS This is a two part answer, but it makes the case above quite nicely. It also demonstrates that we can contemplate ourselves into a lifetime filled with life.

 

Soul Singers

1286 Relax and Succeed - Soul Singers

Moods feel like they randomly happen but the truth is we create them. The question is, are we going to do that intentionally? Or only unconsciously, out of habit?

Unconsciously we’ll all just follow whatever patterns were established early in life, often by simple childhood experiences or big or traumatic life experiences then or in adulthood. It is these subconscious thoughts that lead to chemistry that we experience as a mood.

By remaining conscious we can lead ourselves to a much more rewarding life through better choices. As an experiment to prove the principle to yourself, take some time where you feel crappy, but not super awful. Let’s start small and work up.

First, think of some songs that make you feel powerful and strong and confident and then make a playlist or just remind yourself of how those songs go.

As soon as we notice we’re in a grumpy mood that’s where we direct ourselves to find one of the songs on our phone or in our memory –the ones that help us feel strong and capable– and we commit to hum or sing that song for five minutes to ourselves in our head or out loud. Five actual minutes if we’re doing this for real.

1286 Relax and Succeed - If we alter our choices

It won’t take that long though, because if you do the exercise earnestly, you’ll feel your chemistry shift quite quickly and you’ll feel that as an easing of the frustrated feelings that are tensing your stomach or shoulders or back or chest or….

A song that is stored in your mind as being powerful will run interference with thoughts that leave you feeling negative and incapable. It’ll shift your mood because you experience your brain via the chemistry created by choice and action and your life is engaging with that powerful song.

If we alter our choices regarding how we fill our now, our minds will generate the chemistry associated with our new thought or action. That is how the conscious song’s chemistry can happily conquer the sad regions of our habitual and detrimental subconscious thoughts.

Use that knowledge to enjoy your days.

peace. s

The Act of Active Love

1277 Relax and Succeed - Appreciation was an actionMany people make beautiful connections with others, but too much proximity for too long can mean that we can slowly see those connections atrophy and harden into little more than terminology. Rather than listening to people, we only hear them. Rather than recognising people, we only see them. And rather than loving people actively, as a verb, we think about how we’re confident we love them without ever actually showing it. It’s not that we wouldn’t love them, it’s that we were too busy thinking to truly notice them.

Most people live like tomorrows are guaranteed long into the future when none of us truly knows if this is possibly our last week on Earth. We don’t have to sell everything and move to the beach in the assumption that it’s all meaningless, we can still live prepared for our tomorrows and still be fully awake and alive today.

Let’s look around our lives. What words do we use and is our life in actual alignment with those words or do we just know those things are true without any real evidence in daily life? And once we find those things (guaranteed, they’re there), will we care enough to act upon them? In the end, words are spoken thought. But thoughts turned into actions are what creation is made of.

I would strongly recommend watching this, because what I trust is your heart’s ability to interpret the undeniable beauty that lives inside each and every one of us.

Have a wonderful weekend loving everyone.

peace and love. 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.

A Life Well-Lived

1276 Relax and Succeed - Authenticity the courage to be yourselfA lot of the reason that people feel like they may not be doing the right thing in life is because they have pre-constructed the concept of success in their imagination and what they imagine isn’t an action, it’s a definition or result. While a healthy person is merely fascinated by what they’re doing, someone lost and uncertain will be trying to raise their value, status or power in some way, shape or form.

Since the media is a nearly unavoidable force in the raising of a child it is important to see a child’s actions as not only being based on the child’s caregivers, but also on other significant forces like media trends, which lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, like the formations of things like cultures of irreverence, or of uptalkers for example.

One of the other unintended consequences of media as a learning force is that children automatically and unknowingly come to see success as being linked to popularity or fame, hence “be famous,” has only recently been added as an answer to the question, what do you want to do with your life? (People used to say astronaut, or doctor or deep sea diver.)

1276 Relax and Succeed - Study hard what interests you mostThe truth is, fame and fortune are not at all what makes a good life. Richard Feynman won a Nobel Prize almost because he was a famous iconoclast, too dedicated to his own curiosity to ever get anywhere had it not been for the fluke that his curiosity primarily landed in one field (while he was well respected in many). But if his passions had not been in physics right while physics was literally exploding (he worked on the atomic bomb), his life may have been much less notable. Likewise, most truly great lives are not noticeable to anyone but the people living them, and those closest to them.

I was recently at the funeral of my parent’s neighbour. I’ve known her since I was three. As I sat in the pew at the church listening to the speakers, I was struck by how much I admired the woman, and almost precisely because she was so different from me. Since being teased relentlessly as a kid I’ve ignored other people’s views in favour of a set of guiding principles so, I’ve always liked my life and how I live it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate equally authentic lives that unfold in their own unique ways.

Whereas I am a quick thinking enthusiastic person who has generally held leadership positions and would be in that tiny group of people that takes action when others won’t, she was extremely gentle and appreciative; always a safe harbour for any and all troubled neighbourhood kids. I’ve travelled the world and had awesome jobs and worked in film and TV and made lots of money–my life looks like (or rather used to look like)–the kind of life people would want to have. Hers was much smaller, but it was equally a rich life and it was very well lived. I had fun in my other life, but I’m actually more like her now.

1276 Relax and Succeed - Don't change so people will like youJust as I had cared about the big exciting things I was doing, she was caring deeply about the smaller more intimate details of life. Where I might be inspiring or informative, she offered comfort and support. She earned the love of her family throughout her life. She was enthusiastic about her work while she was a worker, and as a homemaker she was one of those dream Moms who always has a warm smile and fresh homemade food. She was also a very dedicated and loving parent and stand-in parent to her own child and many others.

If someone asked me today; if you couldn’t live your life, which life would you live, I have generally answered I’m loving the life I have. But if you forced me to choose, a life entirely like hers seems, to me, as enjoyable and as profound as my own has been, and the change of pace would be educational I’m sure. What’s curious about this is that many of my students come to me wanting to be more like I was, and by the time we’re done they want to be more like themselves, which is often much more like my parent’s very successful neighbour with her very successful life.

She died wanting more. That can feel like it should be sad, but it’s really the opposite that’s sad; when they’ve gone past their desire for life the death feels more like a relief. But right up until the end she had a tomorrow to be excited about and, when she finally realised she wouldn’t get that, she became just as excited by what was next, smiling just before her death, uttering the words, “my parents…” It really doesn’t get more beautiful than that and I am glad such a wonderful woman got such a fitting end to a life very well lived.

Life is in the details. Don’t always look above you. Sometimes what you’re looking for is already around you, or even possibly something you previously left behind. But do not assume bigger is better. Better is whatever your nature leads you to. In that regard, may your life be as successful as hers.

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.

You Are An Alien

1275 Relax and Succeed - MIB headRemember the aliens inside people’s heads in Men in Black? Well, without knowing it, you’re one of them–or rather very like them. I know this might come as a surprise but it’s actually good news. It explains your anguish as a human. You keep trying to figure out how to feel better, but until you realise you’re an alien all of the advice you get will be for naught.

You’re from the planet Bbking, so-named by a NASA scientist who discovered it and its people. She loved the blues and knew that, just as BB King couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time, the aliens from that planet could either pull levers or talk, but they can’t do both at once.

In human terms, this is your true self versus your ego. The lever-pulling operator versus the alien sitting still and talking. The talking is just talking and does nothing–the levers run your life. But some aliens come to Earth and the air here makes them a bit squirrely. (Squirrels on Bbking are very similar to squirrels on Earth. They’re actually one of the more successful species in our galaxy, strangely enough.)

1275 Relax and Succeed - Quiet your mindWithout noticing it, aliens become slowly addicted to how the air encourages them to speak rather than move. They end up light-headed, babbling away to themselves to the point where their life doesn’t even happen. They go places and do things, but it’s all automated. They’re body will just mimic the bodies it was raised near unless the Bbkinger on board actually shuts up and grabs the levers and steers.

Today, keep in mind that this alien is you. Listen for that little voice. Blah blah blah. Nothing it says means anything because it’s not from here and doesn’t even know what’s going on. It’s all guesses. Look out the eyeballs, use the ears and other senses, and then grab the levers and steer.

Remember: talking is the alien drugging themselves with nothing useful. Life is pulling levers. Don’t try to act like other people, you can’t tell them from your fellow aliens. But once you know how to pull levers instead of talking inside your own head, your vision will improve and you’ll be able to tell who’s a head-talker and who’s pulling levers, and the latter group will likewise be able to recognise you.

Don’t talk to yourself like an average human, be yourself and be freed through your actions. Join the culture of health. We look forward to seeing you.

peace. s

PS BTW, if you want to know what your original name is on planet BBKing, it’s an unusual process, but you take the first district or region or area you live in for your first name, and your last is created by adding the name of the last drug you were prescribed.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A Balance of Needs

1268 Relax and Succeed - Mindfulness is the aware.jpgMaybe it’s a few friends of yours. Maybe it’s you and you know it. Maybe it’s you and you aren’t aware of it; but we’re all somewhere on the self and other spectrum. Regardless of how various individual people define us, we can all appreciate that some people will be more selfish than others, just as we know some will give beyond their capacity to give.

Notably, either extreme appears pathetic from the middle. To be fair, the people on the extreme ends also don’t often have many good opinions about the people in the middle, and notably; they’re often viewed as the least-informed about life.

The most balanced people rarely experience their balanced nature because they have so little variation to compare it to, and so the experiences they do have tend to be filed under shocking, unpleasant or maybe bad simply because they’re so comparatively big. In that way life kind of works the way a lemon does, where it shocks you when you’re a baby, but lots of experiences with something means that today you can convert that lemony tartness into refreshing enjoyment.

1268 Relax and Succeed - There seem to be two kinds of searchersMost of you will know these varying spiritual states as political distinctions. People seen as over-generous and foolish by one side are seen as compassionate and generous by the other. Likewise, the ones viewed as selfish and careless are seen by their own side as focused and successful. Each of these opinions and every single one in between are all largely valid, which helps us realise the truly meaningless nature of opinions, because what we’re really talking about is the many ways people are.

There’s no correct place to be on this spectrum. You’re not healthier near the middle and sicker on the extremes, although those can be byproducts of being in those positions. Everyone on that spectrum suffers, just for different reasons. The two far ends of the spectrum find each other’s pure existence to be painful. In between people argue about what the priorities in life should be and how they should be accounted for. And in the very middle a bunch of people are pretty good at intellectually appreciating all the various positions taken, but they’re all a little lifeless due to a lack of extreme experiences.

This idea can be disappointing to a spiritual seeker because it indicates that a common theme is true; you are already home. The reason this idea gets confused is that we see our spirit as a thing, on its way somewhere, when it would be better to think of ourselves as a principle in motion. So it’s like we’re the principle of gravity and the body we live in is doing the falling that we call living. Yes, your nature is to pull toward the center–to fall–which also explains why the center can be confusing and disorienting to those born too close to it, making their subsequent lives feel shallow and often unlived.

1268 Relax and Succeed - It is not outer awarenessCan you accept that your nature is to move toward balance and that is the pull of life you feel each day? And can you simultaneously accept that your nature includes the idea that where you’re headed isn’t better than where you are, it’s just a different balance point with different challenges? The point isn’t to get anywhere, it’s to go; to live; to be. External outcomes ultimately don’t matter. It’s what Shakespeare meant with that “To be or not to be,” stuff.

Are there different types of prices for experiencing the various positions on this spectrum? Indeed there are. But pain is pain. It’s the part of life that allows you to contrast your joy, so there is no point in avoiding it. There are enlightened beings living all over the spectrum. The trick isn’t where you are, it’s how aware you are.

Wake up. Know yourself. And know that others are themselves too. And then work toward a less judgmental world where, more and more, you simply let them, and yourself, fully be.

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 Wisdom of the West Meets the Wisdom of the East

1267 Relax and Succeed - Decartes said I think thereforeThis blog is always about the quotes, sayings and parables and their actual meanings. Because each posts features quotes that essentially point to the same truth, we know we are developing our understanding if we can recognize the common underlying truth in these two quotes.

Taisen Deshimaru was a Zen student and teacher and philosopher. He often remarked that a select few Western philosophers had stumbled into Zen without realising it. It’s unknown whether he meant they understood it intellectually but could not practice it, or if he meant that they were actually practicing Zen but under different names. Either way, his point above still holds.

Descartes was a mathematician and the most famous thing he ever wrote was that the only thing we knew for sure was that because we could ponder existence, we existed, which was pretty smart and his ideas still form the basis of much of Western philosophy. But Descartes was from the world of math and science, where Aristotle’s subject and object reign supreme.

What Deshimaru is saying is that Descartes was referring to the post-present moment’s ego’s existence, not the soul’s. The soul is what Deshimaru is referring to by creating a second existence. (Similar to James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.) But note that Descartes’ version of being requires Deshimaru’s to exist, but Deshimaru’s does not require Descartes. Descartes is smart, and he points out something very significant, but whereas he is saying, I have discovered the spinning lostness of ego, Deshimaru is saying but the real me is still underneath it, actively creating that lostness, meaning even lostness is truly within oneness as well.

1267 Relax and Succeed - To obtain satoriThe second quote points to the verb indicated by the first quote. Egos think while they do, souls become the doing. So Descartes knows he exists because he can ponder all of his symbolic words for everything he perceives as separate from him, but Deshimaru forgoes that layer of illusory thought and moves directly to action. Rather than think about the world we want to move and be alive as an aspect of it.

Despite these two being famous and capable thinkers, what makes them famous is that their point lives in each of our lives every day. Your suffering lays in your ego’s choice to talk to itself all the time. All of the emotions you feel hours or days after events come from your Descarte-esque thinking about the event, not the event itself. Deshimaru would forgo that suffering by taking original action in his life in the new moments presently unfolding.

Today, live Deshimaru, not Descartes. Don’t think about your day, your week or your life. Just be. Do things. Answer questions then have your mind go quiet and engage back into action. You have so many calories to burn each day. How many will you spend churning thoughts and how many will create more for you or another in this world? Because the former is the path to an egocentric life of suffering, and the latter is a path to peace of mind. Either is yours to take, and you can change direction at any moment.

Surrender your words for actions. Surrender. Words for actions. Words. For. Actions. Make that your habit and you will be free.

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.