Struggling to Sleep

1386 Relax and Succeed - It is our thinking that creates our resistance to sleep

When I first begin working with people to help them realize how flexible reality can be by merely changing our perspective, people routinely suggest that changing their consciousness is a difficult thing. But how can that be true when both children and adults do it every night, (without even noticing), when we fall asleep?

Insomnia is wanting to sleep. Wants are desires, and as the Buddha noted, desires are at the route of all suffering. Wanting is pretty consistently unpleasant to whichever degree we want. Yet the act of falling asleep is ultimately so easy that none of us can even remember doing it, or how we did it.

Sleep is not an achievement created by succeeding in fulfilling our wants; it’s more like falling into a hole created by the silence of our psyche –by the ‘ceasing of wanting.’

Thoughts create our reality. If we say to ourselves, “I want to fall asleep,” we are creating a reality in which we are separate from sleep. Our sheer desire is what moves us out of a state of sleep and into a state of wanting.

If we were what we want to be, then the want would not exist. Therefore, if the want exists, then we have used our thoughts to create distance between us and what we want: the state of sleep.

Our desires are literally the barrier to us becoming sleep. This makes ‘wanting to sleep’ into a bizarre irony. Babies do not want to sleep. Children do not want to go to bed, as every parent knows. And yet babies and children alike all, without exception, eventually fall asleep. Can we see why it is called ‘falling?’

Babies surrender the unpleasantness of being awake and uncomfortable for the gentle peace of sleep. Youngsters eventually lose their footing on their desires to stay up and have more experiences and, as their mind loses the momentum created by those desires, they naturally and inevitably slip down into a state of sleep. And indeed, adults can learn to surrender the state of their adult thoughts and do likewise. We cannot be in two states at once.

To find sleep or any other state, we must disengage with the idea that it is something difficult to achieve. We must surrender our idea that we and it are separated when we go there every night.

We will achieve sleep with less difficulty and in less time if we make it familiar, if we return it to what it is –an entirely natural state demanded by our physical selves. All else is resistance.

Rather than chase sleep, embrace it. Rather than want it, we are better to lose our mental grip on everything that is not it, and in doing so we will flow toward it like water coursing toward ever-lower ground.

Sleep is a state our minds enjoy, so rather than see it in the distance like some much-need oasis; as some aching desire, we should instead approach it more as we would a holiday; with joy and appreciation.

If we want to practice the act of using our consciousness wisely, insomnia is like a gift. It will present us with the unpleasantness of our inaction as a motivation. So let us not waste that opportunity. We can use it each evening to search for the state of sleep.

We can surrender idea after idea of what our nighttime thoughts should be. And we should do so until such time as we simply run out of the desire to find sleep. For once we have exhausted all of our wants, sleep will flow toward us by nature. That is ultimately what happens anyway. We may as well make it conscious and enact it sooner, because that control of our consciousness is a skill that will also pay off when we’re awake.

peace. s

Should We Be Normalized or Maximized?

1385 Relax and Succeed - Ratehr than normalize them

In response to my previous post I wanted to clarify some of the references I made about my childhood accident, and how the pattern-recognition quality that emerged from it impacts how I listen to people during a session.

While it started in very elementary terms and extremely consciously, the patterns I now largely subconscious perceive –particularly in human speech and behaviour– are not unlike the way everyone learns to talk.

With both word-meanings and grammar, it is by seeing patterns repeated that we form useful conclusions and we learn to communicate. Children in some places can learn several languages simultaneously. I just do that same thing but I do it hyper consciously, so it’s like I’m an amped-up version of any normal person, noticing many more elements.

By a very young age this lead me to notice that both through body language and word choice –and things like when they chose to speak versus when they opted to stay quiet– individuals started clearly falling into broad ‘types’ that I later learned others had loosely defined using systems like, for example, the Enneagram.

No one knows the real origin of the Enneagram, and there is no standard form. Each author who writes about it is free to alter it to suit their needs, but that need not be an issue.

Ultimately, I find it is rarely helpful to use predetermined boxes to define an individual, which is why I carefully listen to each person as a unique case, using my unique method. That said, we all know that there are some key personality types, so basic, broad definitions are also not entirely without value.

In practice, it has proven very helpful that I found these ‘types’ on my own, the way I did, without learning them from external sources. Rather than learning them like a person might in university, I don’t listen to classify people or their actions into groups, which in turn I would connect with associated responses.

People who learn these types the other way can’t help that, it’s an innocent form of Confirmation Bias. It’s like the difference between some kid who has spent his life on the ocean and knows how to sail. Someone else can learn about sailing in school and then get on a boat after university, but they will always have this word-based layer between them and what the childhood sailor knows as essential self-knowledge.

Because I was starting from five years old, I had no predetermined categories or opinions, so instead I began by gaining an appreciation for how each person had equally been formed by their own experiences and even their genetics.

As an example, we’re not only formed by having a demanding parent, but how that parent came to be that way is also at play. Also, being tall is also a perspective that presents unique qualities that are distinct from being shorter. Etc. etc.

I’ve been doing this for 50 years now. This means that I have an awareness of tens or hundreds of thousands of influences in real time, which often leads me to ask completely different questions than others will. I am very grateful for what this accident provided me.

While medical and psychological systems understandably need conformity between peers –and I agree this has value– I often see cases where presumed definitions of people fail to fully capture the individual I am working with. Rather than overlapping definitions, they are often more a bit of this and a bit of that with some extra thrown in.

There are currently about eight billion people in the world, and each is in many groups, but they are also all unique to themselves. Yet, many of the people I see feel that they have been mis-categorized by psychology, and yet once that definition is on their file they can have difficulty getting anyone to see them otherwise.

1385 Relax and Succeed - What really matters is

What really matters is does a person know how to successfully be whoever they currently are? Can they learn to see reality in a way where they won’t need me? Many people may choose to continue seeing me because they enjoy the process of going deeper in a philosophical sense, but if they need me for years to feel basically healthy, then I’m not really helping them be self-sustaining.

In the end, everyone has their own unique individual sense of their self.  And because they will change with each new experience and thought, over time, any definitions that would be applied would also need constant updating anyway. Those facts make the need for any firm definition somewhat dubious.

To use an example from the previous post, I’ve always taken great pleasure in working with non-neuro-typical people, including those with tendencies toward the Autism or Asperger’s spectrum.

In my experience, if we were to put people on a spectrum of 1-10, where overly open, emotional and intellectually insecure people were a ‘2,’ and logically-minded, precise, but quick-to-anger Aspergery people were a ‘9,’ that would make the centre of the bell curve known as ‘normal’ into a ‘5,’

The world –and psychology in general– has, with the best of intentions, spent most of its history invested its energy in trying to push everyone toward being a ‘5.’ In other words, it sought to help people be ‘normal.’ Yet Einstein, Beyoncé, Mozart, Maryam Mirzakhani, and most brilliant male or female scientists would not be seen as ‘normal.’

This push towards ‘normalism’ is not something that makes sense to me at all. Many truly great caregivers or artists could be closer to 2’s or 3’s, whereas bolder, more confident, and calculating scientists or business-people can be 7’s or 8’s.

This all being the case, people should not assume sessions with me are about them becoming more normalized. To the contrary, I focus more on helping people find effective ways to be the way they already are. These can translate to changes in their language or approach to life, and it can also translate to changes in how they structure their lives or relationships.

If you want to change to become more like other people, then you may fare better with a university-trained therapist of some kind. But if you would like to find ways to feel good about who you already are, and how to make that possibly ‘weird’ person more effective, then you may find that working with me may better suit your needs.

In the end I trust you. The people who find it productive to work with me can often figure that out quite quickly when we talk, and it’s not surprising that many have tried many other forms of therapy before coming to me to increase their awareness. Whoever is best for you, you are the best source of feedback on whether or not you are getting healthier. Trust yourself.

In closing, here’s a link to a BBC piece on Autism that also suggests that, rather than trying to normalize everyone, the world would often be better to simply maximize some people as they are.

peace. s

Logical to a Fault – Why You’re Struggling to Connect

1384 Relax and Succeed - Increased understanding is what exposes

One commonly and unfairly judged group are those who have personalities tilting toward the Autism or Asperger spectrum, while still being far short of the criteria for any medical diagnoses. My own appreciation for this group emerged thanks to an accident that provided me with an understanding of various patterns in human behaviour, when it rightfully should have left me dead.

Since there is no ‘cure’ for either state (and many people like this don’t want one either), what people really need are new and helpful ways to see themselves and their lives. Fortunately, increased understanding is often what exposes people’s unique routes to personal success and healthy relationships, despite whatever definitions or judgments the outside world may try to apply.

The people I see will often have trouble with co-workers, dating, marriage, and friends –all because they share a set of qualities. Yet many of life’s most successful and popular people are successful precisely because of those same qualities. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs exhibited these traits but, as the attached video hyperlinks demonstrate, one learned to cope with these traits while the other did not.

The simple fact is, male or female, if someone employs the right tools and learns how to communicate in effective ways, an Asperger-like personality need not hold them back from success in either life or love.

Yes, people of this personality type can be quicker to anger, but they are also much better at forgiveness. They are often bold and assertive about their views, but they can also change those views quite easily given good reason, (whereas most people will struggle to do so because their beliefs are too closely tied to their sense of identity).

Those shifts in position can happen because they are generally better than average at logic, and they’ll trust their results over their beliefs. (They also often love puzzles and strategy games.) Despite the advantages, these same qualities can lead them to struggle with making emotional accommodations for others that they themselves do not need.

There is no perfect way to be in life; every personality carries benefits and deficits for ourselves and for others. But no group is more commonly maligned, misunderstood, or told to be different than those who approach life with this Asperger-like mindset. If the world recognized personality-ism the same way we have with racism and sexism, this would be one of the most harshly judged groups.

Thanks to my near-death experience, I proudly count myself as one of them because, despite others’ judgments, these personalities have a great deal to offer. Yet none of us will ever be allowed to make those contributions if we cannot first teach others how to understand or deal with our behaviour.

1384 Relax and Succeed - There is no perfect way to be in life

Nobel Prize-winner, Richard Feynman demonstrated a personality of this type. He was both passionately admired and despised. He was known to be dismissive and brusque to a logically weak idea, be it in his professional or his personal life. Yet his correspondence with others –which forms the content of a book ‘about’ him– clearly demonstrates a man who loved openly and who cared about others a great deal.

There is also a radio interview which features a scientist and researcher named James Fallon, whose own research shockingly exposed that he was technically a ‘psychopath.’ Despite that definition fitting, he was a good husband and father and his research was all about helping others. Greater self-knowledge did improve his life and relationships but, even before that, he was not who people imagine when they hear the definitions ‘psychopath’ or ‘sociopath.’

Many engineers, lawyers, professors, scientists, accountants and programmers can be exasperating to their spouses without ever intending to be. Great artists are well-known for not caring what others think. They do what they do precisely they trust what they know and feel.

It’s important to note that the very qualities that lead to the interpersonal challenges are often the very same ones that make these people uniquely excellent at their jobs. Those same qualities also give them unusual courage when dealing with issues around ethics and character. These are not defects. This is a way of being.

These are rarely people who need ‘treatment’ for a condition or illness. They benefit from training on how to be themselves in effective ways that allow their relationships to be as good as they can be, whether at work or at home. I know this because I have helped a lot of people to find that balance, and to develop the interpersonal tools they needed to negotiate the individual intricacies of their lives.

Don’t beat yourself up over being alone. Don’t torture yourself by trying to reconcile the sincerity of your work with others’ distaste for your style. You don’t need to change, you need to learn how to shift your awareness to expose the new approaches that will smooth your relations and improve your life. I meet too many people who think they are failures at dating when in reality they are just part of this group.

If any of the above feels familiar to you, please contact me. One of my greatest pleasures is freeing people from the tyranny of others’ perceptions so that they can maximize who and how they are. Improving your life is not as hard as it seems when you’re working with someone who has studied these personalities in the unique and empathetic ways I have.

You can free yourself to live a better way. Don’t live inside some culturally-imposed prison of personality. Not when I can show you the way out.

peace. s

Balance and Transition

1383 Relax and Succeed - Balance and transition

The words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are so heavily equated with the sexes that our biggest issue in discussing the terms is in trying to see past our own biases about what we think people mean when they say things about either.

For the purposes of this writing, the let us say that the ‘feminine,’ represents the strengths exemplified by our compassion, tolerance and kindness. Rather than striking it it heals. Rather than forcing it flows. Rather than chasing it invites. Rather than pouring it is filled.

Also for the purposes of this writing, let us say that the ‘masculine’ represents the strength of our convictions, righteousness and courage. Rather than concede it consumes. Rather than accepting it achieves. Rather than accommodate it requests. Rather than giving it takes.

For many people the divisions between these two states are quite commonly seen as someone being loving, compassionate and forgiving, versus those that are more passionate about creation, protection or justice. Those of us raised by two parents will often immediately know which parent is which in this scenario.

Both of these qualities exist within every single human being, and by adulthood most people also know from experience that both approaches to life can lead to enormous advantages, or enormous problems, if the wrong one is applied at the wrong time or in the wrong context.

Balancing these two ‘aspects of being’ is why we often perceive the world’s most respected people to have a unique but quiet strength.

Those sorts of people hold these two sides of themselves in a good –though never perfect– balance. Whether it’s a man or a woman, it’s hard to imagine knocking these sorts of people off their own course, and yet all of them also seem like people that would be comforting to others. They could represent us in court, or be our caregiver in hospital.

No matter where our own ‘balance point’ is on the larger spectrum, given our respect for those with that near-centered balance –no matter what their sex or gender is– it makes sense that people generally come to me when they are in a period where they feel like they are losing their balance.

If people feel they are too timid and emotional, they want more strength and fortitude. If they feel they’re too angry and aggressive, they want to know how to be more tender and open. Isn’t it wonderful how wise we all are about what we need?

1383 Relax and Succeed - Balance is something

Keep in mind, none of these people arrive ‘wrong’ as they are. The world needs super strong people sometimes. And it also needs those that have the strength of vulnerability. But if we remove extreme circumstances, everyone tends toward balance, even though our personal balance points may not actually be all that ‘centered’ by nature.

 

We should not see where are on that scale as being either right or wrong. We simple are where we naturally are, despite our compulsion to constantly move toward balance. No one ever really gets there, but our wobbling journey along the way is the yin and yang of living a life.

This also explains my role as a guide. Just like some people have healthy lifestyles and visit gyms and eat healthy and do regular medical check-ups, there are some who prefer to see me regularly to ‘maintain’ a healthy balance and grow in their own balancing abilities.

Others tend to move through life less conscious of their health, so if they subconsciously feel balanced then they will feel no impulse to talk with me. For those people –as with medical emergencies– it will only be when life offers a major change that I will hear from them.

At those times the latter people will often feel they are struggling or failing. In reality they are being a bit hard on themselves because in most cases life will simply and understandably have thrown them off balance and they are reaching out as we all rightly should. My job is to help them to calm their minds and help them to regain their balance.

Even if someone only sees me in ’emergencies,’ each time we go through the training process, the student/client will grow more resilient themselves. The more time we spend together, the stronger they get. But this does not happen because they are getting something from me.

In either the maintenance or emergency situations, a new strength doesn’t move from me to them. I can simply see them in a very particular way, without the cloud of their own debilitating thoughts. And with that practiced vision I am able to effectively communicate to them how strong they already are.

If you feel weak or afraid or confused or lost, remember that we all feel that way at times in our lives. When we do, it genuinely is difficult to marshal ourselves in a way that allows us to find our strength again, which is where I come in. Fortunately, that weaker sense of ourselves is merely a temporary, thought-based identity that is masking the strengths that are always within us.

If you are currently troubled you have my full compassion, but fear not, for we all will rise again as we have before. For these are simply the hills and valleys of our journey through life. Our job is only to keep going, and to ask for help when required.

peace. s

Overwhelmed with Overthinking

1364 Relax and Succeed - We can learn to passively witness our thoughts

At their healthiest, second thoughts are like quality control. It is wise for us to question what preconceptions or mistakes might make our plans impossible before we even start. But like anything in life, a good idea taken too far is a bad idea.

Doing pro and con lists, running things by friends or giving an evening or two to really consider a big decision is reasonable and healthy. That is using our mind as a tool. It is our servant. But today many people are driven to bouts of extreme anxiety from their habit of over-analyzing their decisions. That is making our mind our master.

Anxiety is hard on the body. That’s a lot of cortisol we request when stress over decisions. Half the time the ‘bad’ decisions might end up costing us less than the worrying over which ones are the ‘good’ ones.

Billions of details come to us all day long. There is no way of seeing all of the angles all of the time, that’s like having God-consciousness. That is not something our little minds could even hope to comprehend because even ‘God’ would need the entire universe to do it.

There are simply things we cannot know, and life will include us making choices we may later think to regret. There is nothing wrong with learning from a mistake, but we need not ruminate obsessively on it.

Our egos are like bad bosses. They make demands that exist outside of the bounds of our personal reality, as though that doesn’t matter. The boss –our ego– shoots criticism at us when we feel overwhelmed, and yet the criticism itself is half of what’s overwhelming us.

Doing that is like an ego stirring itself into a frenzy. We’ve must slow that brain-whirl down. That’s most of what I do with students. Their wisdom exists –they just can’t reach it for all the swirling thinking.

Many people are familiar with the scene made famous by the brilliant comedienne Lucille Ball, wherein she attempts to keep up her role as a wrapper at a candy company. As you can see, the hilarity comes from watching her and Vivian being tortured by the fact that the assembly line is just too fast.

Our thoughts are like Lucy’s candies, and our egos are like her boss. If we don’t manage the expectations of our egos we will logically be overwhelmed. That state of mind isn’t a failure, it’s a product of our previous choices. If we try to deal with everything our ego says we will be overwhelmed. It’s the request that’s sick, not us.

As with our thoughts, in life we just need to let some chocolates fly on by. It takes some time before the ‘bossy one’ figures out there’s not much point in sending more, but that doesn’t matter if we know how to watch the others go by and only grab only the ones that nourish our lives.

peace. s

Devices of Judgment

1359 Relax and Succeed - Thoughts are a good servant but a bad master

Our world was shaped by thoughts. Those thoughts get codified into social codes or guides or laws or through things like school grades, or peer pressure built around the concepts of popularity or acceptability.

Some of these devices are tangible things like step counters or gym weights or weigh scales. The pressure we feel in life is us trying to fit our natural shape into the predetermined forms these tools or ideas create.

The outcomes are somewhat predictable. Every code gets applied to every person equally, even though some people may never be athletic no matter how hard they try, and others may struggle academically in ways that do not reduce their value as a human being at all. But all of us will be judged by many people –most notable ourselves– for not being many things, as though we were supposed to have been them all.

The only way to escape is to be so far removed from those ‘tests’ that we get a free sympathy pass from society because we have one huge natural judgement running against us, like childhood cancer or deformities or severe mental challenges.

Some are seen to be so obviously struggling with what is obviously a heavier load that it’s a more definitive signal that knocks us out of our personal thinking. That jolt to our awareness ignites our compassion by so strongly exposing our good fortune.

That is a beautiful thing to do for others, and that is why people in those situations should be seen more like spiritual teachers in society. They elicit an essentially universal reaction that does expose our natural tendency as humans, which is decency, while also making us grateful, which is spiritually healthy. They’re monks in wheelchairs and in canes.

Where we can benefit from increased awareness is to realize that while some people have their suffering jammed into a generally narrower set of experiences, (like those of a severe autistic, or someone who is born without any limbs), others are also suffering badly, but with more general things like their weight, or their income, or the acceptability of their personality.

Because those feel like the problems of more common, so-called ‘normal’ people, we often don’t realize that those issues and people would also benefit from our awareness and decency. Smaller issues –even presumed– can pile up to the point where they can cripple our lives.

1359 Relax and Succeed - This scale does not

If we count steps or weigh ourselves for our health, it’s not to hit some numerical target. The point is to feel good and have a doctor feel that the weight –whatever it is– is in a range that respects our unique bodies. A healthy heart should be about getting more time with loved ones, not meeting the doctor’s target. We must love ourselves, not try to be someone for others.

Too many times something like a calorie app or a weigh scale are not simply weighing things in the physical world. Instead, they are drawing some abstract chalk outline onto the world and then asking us to fill it. It’s crazy. We weren’t supposed to become what an app said because the person who wrote it never met us. Nor the person who built the weight scale, and just because a hairstyle is popular does not mean it looks or feels good on us.

We suffer when others have generalized the individual us. And when we do that to ourselves as well, all we’re doing is using an abstract cultural whip to beat ourselves. It’s the opposite of spiritual awareness.

Can we really imagine someone going to the Buddha, or Moses or Jesus or Mohammad and having them tell the person their soul will find nirvana when they lose some weight? Or get a better haircut? Or a job that’s more respectable? Would Jesus tell us that we can give up now, because we were born gay, or in the wrong country, so nothing we could ever do could make us worthwhile?

It’s hard to imagine the Buddha saying, “Sara, you will find enlightenment but you must get your Thursday Tinder date to like you or your life will be an unhappy disappointment.”

Deep down you already know this is true. The people that love us don’t need us to be any particular way. Not a shape, or age, and they love the person that lived our experiences, even if they don’t always like some aspects of the personality that grew out of those experiences. They love the soul at our center –the being living all of that life. We should all love that person too.

What others think are merely individual experiences they are having inside their own heads. Those judgments don’t impact us at all if we don’t start thinking them in our heads.

If we saw a loved one beating themselves up terribly over their weight it would be heartbreaking because we would all know they are so much more than that dumb number. And that impulse is beautiful and natural. But enlightenment really comes when we learn to direct that compassion toward ourselves. Because only then will we free ourselves from the suffering we generate when we use our devices of judgment.

peace. s

The Lesson in Envy

1358 Relax and Succeed - The most outrageous act is still

Envy. We can use that. It just goes to show that –if viewed in a productive way– anything in life can be helpful.

In life it does us little good to forget about the value of the tribe we all need around us, but at the same time we must be somewhat selfish about wanting a full and interesting life for ourselves. We just can’t expect that life to exist without prices being involved.

That choice to take a productive (read: healthily selfish) perspective is the key. And a healthy balance must be perpetually sought. This is why psycho-spiritual work is an ongoing practice and not simply an achievement.

We can start by remembering that everyone’s genetics and life experiences leads them to be a unique human being with all kinds of different skills or abilities or lacks thereof. But because there are only so many kinds of feelings we can have through our life  experiences, human beings end up falling into broad groups that people have tried to approximate by creating things like the enneagram, or the Myers–Briggs test.

We’re all largely aware of all of these categories just be living life, but just knowing those doesn’t make us healthy. But we can learn a great deal by paying enough daily, very present attention as to how the category we are in shapes the decisions we make and the subsequent challenges we face.

For example, in school, the subdued, innocuous ‘average’ students are saved from from both the pressure of top grades and the sort of popularity than can make a bad hair day legendary. At the same time, without a strong and obvious natural drive in any particular direction, they can often live more desperately and with less focus. This leaves them often envying other’s dreams, hard work or talent.

The average kids will still have actual talents, but if they’re not as cool or as good as those of the most excellent kids, then the average kids are less likely to have the bold confidence to still feel their skills are meaningful. If someone asks them to play their guitar, they’ll say they “…don’t really play.”

Meanwhile, the excellent or popular kids are envious of the average kids who must only bear average expectations, which are often much more generalized. Get along, work hard, do your best. Those things are all wonderfully non-specific, where as “be at the top of the class,” or “make the team,” instantly becomes an intense competition with however many classmates got told the very same thing.

Within each group there are meek and often uncertain and apologetic personalities, as well as those that naturally possess a bold sort of confidence that doesn’t cripple itself with too much over-thinking. But because of that same confident quality, they are also the ones most likely to overstep.

Regardless of whether it’s an overstep or not, if a bold person’s actions feel just justified to those watching, more timid kids will admire and envy it when they see someone stick up for themselves. They will rarely meaningfully note the price that other person will pay for that confidence.

1358 Relax and Succeed - The Velveteen Rabbit

Envy goes every direction. As the bold kids know, the nail that stands out gets pounded down. The grass only looks greener on the various sides of the fence. Everyone pays a price.

This means the bold kids often wish they were simple followers who can either live in the bliss of ignorance or simply not care. Otherwise their fate is to be in conflict a lot more than they’d like. At the same time those iconoclastic kids can often resent those who fail to stand up for important causes, and envy can lead them to sometimes mistreat really happy, positive people who genuinely seem to love life.

We can presume that being happy and loving life is the peaceful zenith of this heap of personalities but it’s not. Even too much chocolate cake starts to get unhealthy after a while.

The problem with being seen as positive is that people start to rely on us to be their source of positivity and they can unwittingly get weirdly demanding about it. Then, when it’s the happy life-loving people that are down, others are often left in uncomfortable territory, uncertain of what to do. This can leave the happy person worse off in crisis than those we perceive as less resilient.

There are countless more examples featuring any type we can think of, but can we see how this flows around? How everyone has their own weight to carry? What we as egos all share is that we want what we don’t have because we all notice the gains others make with those qualities. We don’t look for people making gains with personalities like ours. Everyone thinks they have the wrong personality.

How we get healthy is by feeling fine as we are. From there the natural compulsions that are ours to experience make themselves known and our lives unfold accordingly. The other us is just a narrative, which is why no matter what kind of problem I’m working on with someone, I’m always focusing on showing them how to put their thinking into the proper context.

If we give up all of our thinking about what ‘bike we’d rather have,’ we can just start riding the us that we are. We can go all still go wonderful places on our bicycles of personality. We can use them to sight-see, or to stay in shape, or for joy with others, or even to race it, risk it, or even to make money with it. Each bike has its own paths to ride.

No one should be ashamed of their personality. We all benefit when anyone realizes and activates more of who they are. So rather than wish we had a different bicycle, we should quietly get on board and ride our bike to somewhere meaningful to us –because that is the freedom of self-respect and we all deserve to feel that.

peace. s

Spiritual Recitals

1355 Relax and Succeed - Don't Perform Let your soul sing

Recitals. Every year, we invite our relatives and friends to help celebrate our development as a musician. The feelings that go with these events are good reflections of how we feel about our lives too. It’s like the song we play is our year played out in quick time.

Despite the fact that in the first recital we are clunky and awkward, no one cares because our mistakes are so cute. Later, it’s our enthusiasm others are attracted to. Over time, we improve and others are impressed with our development. By the end of our studies we are so good as to amaze.

Despite others impressions of their development, often times on the inside the musicians themselves feel a lot like they did as that clunky little ham-fisted kid. As their standards raise their playing appears to recede.

This happens because at each step were are attempting to master a group of brand new skills involved in playing music. This reflects how we perpetually face new situations in life and how we are always stumbling, yet we all grow wiser and more capable through the year whether our experience is good or bad.

At the start of life we are emotionally clumsy but authentic, near the end we become smoother but struggle to find the unselfconsciousness that used to come so naturally. The difference is our impedance. We hold ourselves back be worrying too much about the performance part of our playing.

Music teachers will often tell students to play as though the audience isn’t there. This is like the ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ phrase‘ that gets used about people’s emotional lives. The song simply won’t become the most beautiful version of itself if it is merely a performance. The song is not for the recital audience, it exists in its own right. People are just allowed to watch it be.

1355 Relax and Succeed - Each unique lives their own song

Likewise, our lives are ours to live. Life is not a recital or performance, it is more like a song itself, and it can only be made better by us singing it more fully –by breathing more life into it. And the way we open up that opportunity is by forgetting the audience. We sing for our sake. For the joy of it.

This doesn’t mean we stop loving everyone in our audience. Quite the opposite: we start. We free them from our expectations as we free ourselves from theirs. That’s the unconditional part of unconditional love.

If we love people then they are allowed to be them. And if they deserve love so do we, so that means we can also be ourselves. What the other egos think will depend too much on how their day went anyway. We all know when we’ve played well and when we haven’t, whether we get praise or blame. We should trust that. That’s us.

Don’t perform your life. We can work well with others and find joy in many strange places with a great attitude, but we don’t need to stifle our being. Sometimes endurance is required in life, but whenever possible, it is up to us to consciously shift our lives toward ever-less stifling circumstances so that we can find the beautiful music that lives within us.

If we play unselfconsciously often enough, it will soon meld with a form of creativity that allows us to go beyond the composition and into improvisation. We become the song in every sense. This is the height of skill both in music and in life. When we are that free, we stand on a constant precipice of the unknown, and the beauty there is a marvel to behold.

Don’t perform. Sing. The songs might sound similar to a listener, but a performance versus soul singing can be so different for the singer that, in the latter case, the people listening can see the singer glow.

peace. s

Accepting Yourself

1354 Relax and Succeed - We can't show others

Much like the ‘hide your light’ quote from Marianne Williamson is often attributed to Nelson Mandela, this poem is also often mis-attributed to Charlie Chaplin. In fact it has a strange and convoluted history that makes noting its authors complex.

It started as a portion of a book titled When I Loved Myself Enough by Kim and Alison McMillen, but it was later translated into Portuguese, and then the Portuguese version was re-translated back into English by someone or combination of people. That change included the usual shifts that go with translation plus some actual re-writing.

In the end, it’s a collective offering, and a student of mine said a wise thing when she sent it with the note that she felt it was my class presented as a poem. If what I do when I work with people is to teach them to swim, then this poem is like reading about swimming.

 

As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything
that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects
for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down
and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since
I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day,
day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself
I recognized
that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide,
and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!

I haven’t read the book, but it based on this small excerpt, even if the original was altered, it looks like it may be a worthwhile book for kids. Even for adults, sticking it up on a bathroom mirror for daily perusal might not be a bad idea, because even a poem this good can only help us if we stay conscious of what it says.

peace, s

Seeing Ourselves Without Judgment

1351 Relax and Succeed - Can you look without the voice in your head

Most Earthly communications toward either God or The Universe are generally requests. Desires to have a desire filled, the desire to have a question answered, or the desire to know something, or for something to begin or end. And the reason we can do that and not feel better is because, as the Buddhists note, desire is at the heart of suffering.

Whether we imagine a forgiving God or in a scientific but infinite universe, each of those at its heart features an awesome force that extends everywhere and includes everything. Most importantly to us as people; the lack of judgment is the same. It –God or the Universe– simply is. But it does not judge. (Egos do all of the judging for the universe.)

People who tilt toward the less religious and less scientific doorways into wisdom are often into secular spirituality, and that often leads them to be familiar with Esther Hicks.

As Esther describes it, her wisdom comes to her through a council of non-physical entities she refers to as Abraham. If we’re more on the scientific side and think that idea is crazy, we should remind ourselves that a Nobel Prize was won by a famous mathematician who got those award-winning formulas ‘from aliens.’

Whether the source is real, the result of a disorder, or or even a charlatan, we should care more about whether it’s good information than what the source is. In fact, many of the problems in society today stem from our desire to always trust some sources and never others. In reality we would be better to ignore making blanket choices based on what group we’re in and we should look at each piece of information on its own merits.

Whatever her ‘source’ is, Esther generally shares the same wisdom this blog does. But that’s not why I mention her.

She talks of ‘the council’ when referring to ‘Abraham.’ She describes them as a group of timeless, energy-based entities that not only completely lack judgment, they offer only love. Even if we don’t believe Esther or those notions, let us imagine such a council overlooking our own lives anyway.

1351 Relax and Succeed - I shall tell you a secret

Remember: ‘the council’ does not judge, it represents God and the Universe. They understand everything so well that everything makes sense to them. Rather that our lives looking like failures and successes or problems and solutions, they simply see rippling, beautiful water, off which our light sparkles and glows. And it makes them love us all the more.

Imagine them. They’re looking at you right now. They aren’t bothered by how much you weigh, or what you think, or what you do. They don’t care if you got drunk last night, or went back to an ex you ‘shouldn’t have.’ Even the things we can self-hate ourselves the most for –they love us for those parts too. To them it’s just water dancing. They love you. Unconditionally.

Now imagine you from their perspective. Imagine you at this moment, knowing what you’re internal ‘issues’ and external ‘problems’ are. But you have no judgment. You just see yourself like an ant in an ant-farm. You can’t see the thoughts, you just see the actions. You’re just watching without expectation or judgment. Can you see how earnestly engaging with this perspective changes how we view ourselves?

When we do this well, we can see that our dramas are in our heads and not in our lives. From ‘The Council’s’ perspective, they don’t see us as procrastinating or letting anyone down or failing, because we/they have no expectations. We are then just either working, surfing the web, masturbating, or looking in the fridge again. They understand that those actions are what the people we are being in that moment truly want for ourselves.

They know we want that because we are always free. No one controls our minds or bodies except us, we just sometimes use our freedom really blindly. This is why there can be value in checking in with our personal ‘Council’ every now and again so we can look down on our little lives and see them for what they really are.

Doing this well is really quite comforting, although you may find yourself often feeling silly about your dramas when you see them like an observer. But humility only comes through freedom, so even that is a good sign.

Each time we’re faced with a choice about what to do, we can imagine our own council watching us. Is what we’re doing what makes sense for our life, or is it merely an unconscious habit? Our council won’t judge us, but it will see our actions for what they are, whether we’re moving our life’s pursuits forward or backward.

We are simultaneously insignificant and infinite. Either way, either our problems are either too tiny to matter to God or the Universe; or those two things are so infinite that either can easily absorb our mistakes. Either way we can relax. And then we can succeed. Because the way this page got its name was that I noticed that everyone got those two backwards. They always think the success leads to the relaxation, when in reality it’s the relaxation that leads to the success.

Now go love your day.

peace. s