MoK: Tender Mercies

Dear Readers,

May this find you well. I have a strange entry for today’s March of Kindness assignment. Today we will unexpectedly focus on kindness toward ourselves. Valuing ourselves is a form of self-respect and it is distinct from the unhealthy selfishness that causes us to feel guilty, or that requires us to distract ourselves from facing our relevant responsibilities.

For the first time in the many years that I’ve have blogged here and elsewhere, I simply cannot create the time or the very specific meditative headspace I require to write the sort of blog post I feel you all deserve. The needs of my family and friends have been tremendous over the last many weeks and there comes a time when we must face that if we have almost no time to even sleep or eat, then those things must take priority lest we risk the health of the body our consciousness resides in.

This being the case, let’s alter today’s planned March of Kindness post into this: find the area of your life where you personally are overwhelmed and surrender. If the only overwhelming thing you truly have in your life is your own anxious thoughts, then slow those down and open your awareness and then reach out to someone who is truly overwhelmed. Either way, the world is made better.

Kindness toward yourself or kindness toward another, it’s all kindness and it’s worthwhile. I’d like to thank you for your kindness in understanding my situation, and I wish you every good-fortune with your own self-kindness today.

Regards, s

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

Fears

1032-relax-and-succeed-dont-place-your-mistakesI’ve got a rare situation that’s given me an equally rare state of mind to write from. This makes it an ideal time for me to write about how I’ll face this emotional challenge, because the nicest thing about living in the present moment is that you trust that you learn from experience so you feel authentically bad about unfortunate things, but then you can move on.

You feel hits to your ego but you don’t hold grudges nor do you worry about what might happen and maybe most importantly you don’t beat yourself up. You accept that everyone learns and everyone makes mistakes, you grab the lesson with humility and then move on as soon as you’re sure the lesson’s been learned. There’s no extra time wasted in ruminating on should’a could’a would’as. But today I crossed that line we all have within us; the mistake that bothers us the most because it betrays some fundamental aspect of ourselves that we place great faith in.

1032-relax-and-succeed-courage-is-the-decision-to-favour-actionI had figured out by nine years old that the human mind could not really be trusted despite people’s best intentions. This lead me to develop a series of thought-tests that I would put my own ideas and other people’s ideas through to ensure they were solid. Today I did the thing that bothers me the most: I didn’t make use of a mental tool that I knew I had built for a reason when I know full well I only build those tools when it’s important.

What a lot of my students start off doing is they start telling themselves stories about what they should have done. Then another part of the brain will calculate the damage, and then it’ll be angry that it happened at all, and then fear of what will happen, then the consideration of an alternate future where you made the opposite decision, and finally self-criticism for making the same mistake yet again despite the fact that making the same mistake actually makes a lot of psychological sense.

1032-relax-and-succeed-if-all-else-failsI will feel strongly compelled to react in all of the ways noted above. I suspect I will bounce into actually doing those things for bursts of time. But I spend so much time peaceful that I will notice when I’m tortured, so that’ll be a good cue. From there I’ll pursue strategies to take my mind off the painful useless subject and place it on better things.

This means that the idea becomes like a ball of pain on a ping pong table, where my natural reaction to the approaching pain is to swat it away. I think of those words and narratives as little balls of pain and when I run into one in my head I hit it away but shifting my attention to something more productive and peaceful.

I will wage this little battle for as long as it takes before my mind finally accepts the situation fully, and meanwhile I’ll have been able to take immediate action to mitigate any additional damage. That’s as good as you can do after a mistake, and dreaming like it was possible to never make one was something I surrendered many thousands of surrenders ago.

Bad feelings feel bad for a reason. Just by their sensation they urge you not to think them. So when you feel in pain, don’t turn inside yourself and self-discuss that pain. Recognise that as coming from your thinking and then shift it. That power is always in your hands and the more you use it the stronger you’ll be.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

PS. Funny side-note, it turns out I hadn’t made the mistake I thought I had. Good thing I didn’t engage in a bunch of painful, useless thinking about something that was ultimately just a false belief.

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

The Caged Bird

986-relax-and-succeed-when-a-caged-bird-singsThis is one of those quotes that can feel nonsensical at first; as though it means nothing at all. The truth is, it’s a story about the incompatible brain states of happiness and comparison. These sorts of clever sayings can provide a great deal of learning but they are so ubiquitous they are now seen more as declarations than learning tools.

In this case we must ask the question, what transpires? A caged bird sings, other birds gather and the caged bird ends up experiencing longing. Again we ask, why does the caged bird sing? Because it has a song in its heart. It is its nature. And why do the other birds gather? They are attracted by the song. So then why does the singing bird end up feeling tortured?

We as humans outside the cage know the bird’s original nature was outside and in a flock, but if the bird has lived in the cage for so long that it is now that bird’s known and comfortable home then it has no desires for great flights of distance or a sharing of life with a large flock of other birds. It knows its owners and its feeding schedule and how to entertain itself where it is. And yet it does not entirely lose its nature, the bird still sings.

When the other birds show up the bird can now recognise his own bars. It can now see a limitation that did not live as a possibility within the bird’s mind before birds existed outside the bars. Now the bird can compare its formerly happy existence to another existence it knows little about other than it includes more birds. That desire for the fresh and new is where the sensation of longing is formed. Previous to that the bird was happy because it had no desires and the same is true for all of us.

986-relax-and-succeed-if-you-think-that-peaceThere is no point in chasing happiness. It is not somewhere else, it is not doing something else and it is not someone else. Happiness is a way of seeing things. You do it all the time but it’s such a clear-headed state that you don’t actually note what you’re doing. If you did you’d see that when you feel great you aren’t using your thoughts to create a you that is separate from something or someone desired, you’re just being-doing. You are a human being in motion. Suffering is when we forgo that to wish instead.

Go inside. Use these quotes to shape your meditations. What are your desires? What is your flock? Were you in a boring but decent marriage until you met someone else? Did you see someone’s renovation and want one of your own? Or how about if your friends roll around in their new car? It is the comparison that creates the desire which leads to the suffering. It’s why the Buddha said, “There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”

Think back to when one of your cages was built and ask how and why that happened. What’s been brought to your attention that wasn’t a problem before you knew about it but now it is? Can you see that your life hadn’t changed only your idea of it had? Can you see that the difference in your ideas was that you suddenly felt separate from happiness? Suddenly you felt your happiness was created by something outside of yourself. Study that source of suffering closely and I guarantee you will have begun a very useful meditation.

peace. s

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

Reactions to Failure

Staying conscious is being mindful. If your head isn’t full of self-conversation then much more of the world can get inside you. You notice more and that’s helpful. So when a friend and I were recently disagreeing about an important issue we were working on I noted quite clearly that in the middle of the discussion of the good friend said, “have you eaten?”

972 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes when things are falling apartMe being upset lead to a friend asking if I’d eaten, meaning she had related my mood to my food. I trust her so we ate and I did feel better as my body chemistry regulated. It turned out I just needed some sugar. You could leave it at that but if you’re going to think don’t ruminate, meditate. So I spent the next two days meditating on how that happened.

In that meditation I recalled another similar experience where I had snapped at a different friend for very little reason. At the time my reaction had been so strangely immediate that it registered with me. I remember meditating then on the fact that I loved the friend so it didn’t make sense, plus I hadn’t been thinking any relevant negative thoughts. So what was the cause? My disappointment over how I treated my friend was what motivated my meditations.

After more consideration I realised both situations reminded me of when I got upset really easily for about eight months when I was in my late teens. I was going through a growth spurt and my off-balance chemistry gave me a different personality for a short time. And now here was a friend responding to me being unreasonable by asking me if I’d eaten. Food relates to body chemistry. Can you see if you’re more aware that the truth becomes obvious? The question was, how did it happen?

972 Relax and Succeed - Never regret anythingSometimes the big challenges in life are so obvious and huge in our lives that they cause us to miss some of the smaller implications. A few years ago I underwent my life’s most difficult period where rather than an 8 hour day and a 40 hour week I needed a 40 hour day and a 280 hour work week just to avoid disasters, but that in turn lead to a series of sub-decisions that were far less conscious. Life can deliver us more than we can handle. That happens.

There is no good way to prioritise the very serious and absolute demands presented by very elderly and sick parents, a book deadline, your life’s work, the needs of clients and the business that pays your equally important mortgage, or even your basic life obligations like the fact that you need to eat, drink, sleep, grocery shop, and personally groom, plus you’ll have needs relating to everything from house and yard work to necessary car repairs or maintenance and of course there’s the never-ending administration that life requires.

I knew during that time that I would be letting friends down and I accepted there would be a price. I worked with my doctor on a plan for so little sleep and so much work and I developed a special diet, but even then I accepted there would be both a price and a limit. I worked off an insanely inhuman schedule that I still can’t believe I maintained.

972 Relax and Succeed - A friend is someone who understandsDespite all that effort I was still constantly letting everyone down, including myself. I never had enough sleep and I had quietly developed terrible eating habits over time. I was still eating healthy, but I would often go to bed at 2am realising I hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 5am the previous day. And there in my mediation was my answer: In my busy-ness I had accidentally learned not to eat.

Because historically we can be chased by wild animals the desires to eat and to pee can be deferred to later. Pain stays, the desire to eat comes and goes. I got so used to dealing with not being able to eat that it became an unconscious habit to just immediately dismiss the desire. I needed to get conscious about food again.

For the next several weeks I watched myself closely. Sure enough, once I was watching I caught myself tons of times deferring the desire to eat. As often as possible I would remember to respond to it and I’m currently about half way to re-teaching myself to eat when I’m hungry. That’s how busy-minded we can get: we can forget something as basic as eating.

972 Relax and Succeed - Don't deny what's occurringSo can you see that I’m now glad the friends reactions were pain because I care about them? And I’m glad one defended herself by asking me if I’d eaten? Without those signs that I was off the path how could I have rediscovered the path? I needed those ditches to help me find the road. Of course we always want to treat loved ones well, but part of love is that they can help us make it through tough times like that and then we can do the same for them. That’s how love serves.

So now I’m grateful that the universe has taught me to appropriately value food and that my friends were patient and now that I do have the time to eat I’m getting conscious enough to actually do it. So this can help you too if you remember that if you have a problem don’t focus on the problem itself, ask yourself what its source is.

Believe you are a good person that is lost not a bad person that needs changing because that is the greater truth. If you approach your mistakes that way you can see your innocence and then make the change without guilt. Speaking of not feeling guilty, another great truth is that I’m hungry right now so, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get something to eat. In the meantime, you have yourself a stellar day. Bon appetite.

peace. s

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

The Apology

895 Relax and Succeed - I wonder which mistakeAre you happy about your ability to be energy-aware yesterday? Were you able to see people’s dealings with you as experiences they were having rather than ones you needed to have? Were you, like a matador dodging a bull, able to turn your ego aside and allow someone’s aggressive thought to pass by? If you succeeded in that, then congratulations. Practice that skill and you’re a long way towards improving your life substantially.

“Letting” someone be angry with you, or be sad or upset around you does require us to keep our ego at bay. But what about inviting them to be upset? What about reminding them of something unpleasant or painful? What if you had to demonstrate your spiritual and psychological strength by apologizing for something?

This is one of the most generous acts you can participate in. You know that from receiving them. It’s shockingly rare. Egos have no interest in that responsibility, whereas your soul lives somewhere where that storm is taking place in a sky so vast that you can both recognize it and see it for what it really is–an act like any other.

895 Relax and Succeed - We rise by lifting othersYou are not being judged. You do not get points or a reward for doing the right thing. This isn’t about you appearing noble or fair or any other thing. Those are all ego-achievements. This is less about an achievement for your soul and more like an awakening of it. You’re not on a ladder of development and apologizing is higher up the rungs than where you are. The reward in life isn’t where you get to, it’s about how connected you get.

Apologizing is a form of connecting and when you’re getting mentally healthier it becomes less scary and more rewarding. Think about how good it feels to get one. People remember these things for their entire life.

I’ve already explained that you don’t pay a price for not apologizing–it just means you’ve stayed asleep. Many do until just the moments before death. But being awake and truly alive is the most vibrant, rich and rewarding life you can have. It’s a wonderful world where even your mistakes lead you to greater connections with the rest of the universe.

895 Relax and Succeed - Apologizing does not always meanThis is a guru-act. You have to be Buddha-like to pull it off. You have to truly have understood your own mistake so well that it loses its personal nature. Even if it was an intentional act, you must see your act as misguided thinking and that it was never about the other person. You must see not only their innocence, but yours as well.

Once it can be seen as an innocent collision at a psychological level we become less focused on the details of the story, instead we simply see innocence and suffering, and as wise and aware people we thrive on finding opportunities to unify with the universe. We feel secure in our own being and we simply want to help–to connect.

So screwing up with someone is like getting a chance to connect spiritually. Except when most people do something they later feel was genuinely out of sync with their spirit, they compound that by feeling regret or guilt for long periods of time. Meanwhile the other person is thinking victim-thoughts. Now we have two people lost in the wrong kind of thinking. Angry ones and guilty ones. Better that thoughts drop in favour of connection.

895 Relax and Succeed - Let your light shineSee clearly. Accept yourself at a low point. Okay, so you did something you wouldn’t repeat. That’s evidence you’re a good person (a “bad” person wouldn’t care). You know it would feel better, it’s just scary. But even if they have a bad reaction, that won’t last long and it won’t leave you worse off than feeling guilty. At least one of you is clear-headed.

Find something you’ve done that you genuinely feel was a mistake. Take that thing, see the form of your innocence in causing it, and then contact them and offer the apology. It’ll be like jumping off the high diving board for the first time at the pool. It feels genuinely scary when you first start doing it, but pretty quickly you learn that the reward for facing that is one of the most liberating feelings you can give yourself.

See if you can give that feeling to yourself today. Pick the person and apology within the hour and make the apology before the end of the day. You can do this. Go for it.

peace. s

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

Attachments and Forgiveness

880 Relax and Succeed - There are only two daysHave you noticed yet that I’m structuring this like the New York Times crossword? Every day gets a bit more challenging with the Wednesday-Thursday post being the one you’re better to spend a couple of days getting a good grip on. Again, do these meditations and you will come to the same conclusion everyone else has, from the Siddhartha under his tree all the way to today.

Attachments in the present are easy to find. But attachments to the future or past are more subtle. Going backward attachments are things like regret, guilt, bitterness, resentment etc., and attachments going forward are things like expectations, hopes, worries, fears and even anger. These are the things you get stuck on; the things you have trouble letting go.

But of course there is no letting go. In fact, the issue is your lack of understanding regarding what exactly is bothering you. You think it’s the events when in fact it is your thoughts–your judgments– about those events. And those are happening now, not earlier or later. Again: you do not live where your body lives you live where your consciousness is.

880 Relax and Succeed - Life is like riding a bicycleFind your darlings. Ask friends what you talk about a lot. Study your ruminations. Pay more attention to what thoughts you are feeding through your consciousness processor. If you ordered a horror from iTunes then it’s a bit strange to be complaining that you’re scared. You asked for it. Same with this. Thoughts are like bicycles. You don’t want to pedal in circles–you want to move your life forward.

This is of course one of the biggest issues for most people. These are the illusions that you can create with your thinking. You can think you have a problem or an issue but what you really have is some thoughts that attempt to deny what is. There is no escaping the is-ness of life.

Stop wishing reality away, stop hoping it will go away, and stop regretting that it’s not already gone and you know what…? It’s just an emotion. Just something to feel. It won’t kill you. It’s just some unnecessary suffering. So stop being so scared of reality. Little kids go past stuff like that in no time because they haven’t learned pride and resentment. They let stuff go and get back to the moment they’re in. If you have kids it’s worth it to watch them recover. They prove to you what you can do.

880 Relax and Succeed - Inhale the futureOnce you’ve discovered your repetitive ruminations simply recognize them for what they are–just some conversations you’ve had with yourself. That’s what worked for Eckhart Tolle. He wanted to kill himself he hated himself so much–but then he thought–wait! There’s two of me? That’s right. There’s the thinker and the thoughts. Don’t get them confused. One is a puppet, a shadow, an idea. The other one is the real you.

Quiet your mind. Use your Dominant Positive Emotion to shift your thinking. You’ve learned more than you think by now. You’ve had 60 days of meditations. For the next two days it is time for you to simply turn it all into a verb and literally practice the art of a still mind.

Now go find yourself an awesome day. Big hugs.

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.

Attachment Awareness

As you begin to take more conscious control of your day you will find some emotions very easy to change while others will be much more difficult. It is worthwhile for you to pay attention to what those difficult ones have in common. That will point to one of your biggest challenges: attachments.

878 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes it's hardYou’ve heard about Buddhism discussing it: lose your attachments. This has many nuanced meanings. When I work one on one or in groups with students I can usually home in on their attachments pretty easily but if you’re aware you can find a lot of yours on your own.

There are conversations you have with yourself that are easy to stop. Maybe you dropped grandma off at the airport and you already miss her. But it lasts until you get into downtown and then you feel okay. But run into your ex at the mall and that will be on your mind for weeks. You love grandma. Why does she only get a half hour and the ex who broke your heart gets weeks?

Don’t think of attachments so much as things you can’t live without, because that implies you’ll only feel them toward people or things that you miss. You might not miss a person at all–but you might miss the apology you never got, or the case you never got to make, or whatever other closing statement you wanted to make to clearly state your position and your awareness of the other person’s responsibility. The attachment is our desire to repeat our argument to the offending person. We blame them for it, but it is us who is replaying our argument. If we’re looking for them to make it go away we’re doomed–we control ourselves, not them.

878 Relax and Succeed - People close to youYou don’t need others to conform to you for you to be happy. That would be ego-based happiness. You want that other more profound happiness.and that comes from a quiet mind, not from when everyone is doing exactly what you want. If you’re wanting you’re suffering. Do not use your mind to want.

Take today and try to work out what your key desires are. What are the things that are so important to you that you’ll yell at people? Is it your kid’s school work? Because you might actually be making it worse with too much pressure. Is it your spouse’s behaviour? Well then leave or accept it. You’re not perfect either. Is it your boss? But do you really even know what their job is? Surely it has parts to it you’re not even told about, so the judgment is pretty careless. You’re not even taking their personal challenges into account.

Find the people or subjects you judge the most harshly. Define them and watch for them. If those are your hotspots–if those are the subjects that make you talk to yourself then start with those. That’s your low-hanging fruit. That’s the easy stuff to find. You might as well take care of it now. Find your three key conversations. The three you have the most. Then see them for what they are: silly wishes.

People live their own lives and they live them for themselves, not for us. We might feel some things are very important but they simply may not agree–and they’re often entitled to not agree. So better that we learn acceptance. Find your attachments. And this week we’ll work on evaporating their impact in your life. Find three today. And have an awesome day while you’re doing it.

peace. s

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

The Friday Dose #94

830 FD Relax and Succeed - Be happyThis week you’ve got some cool life lessons from filmmaker David Lynch, an audio documentary on shame that explains a lot of why you feel what you feel, and we’ll finish with a look at an example of the ever-changing answer to the question, where are you from? We’ll start off with some film lessons that frankly apply to everyday life:

10 Lessons on Being an Artist by David Lynch

It’s a full hour but it’s worth it. You can stream it or download it. It’s an excellent program on shame and it’ll probably teach you a few things about yourself you’ll recognize but didn’t consciously know:

Shame on You – Living in a World of Social Media

And we’ll end on this video which really shows why people arguing over culture or geography really makes no sense. It does not matter what any of us is called it only matters what we do:

Next week we start our countdown of the top blogs of this year, so have yourself a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back with some really good material you may have missed. Take care everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Losing Your Cool

I acted like an asshole. It happens. I took a negative situation and instead of converting into a stronger, better connection with the other person, I lost the moment and I ended up compounding the complexity of the issue with too much thinking. I regret it, but I’m okay with it–if that makes sense.

764 Relax and Succeed - Show respect even to people who don't deserve itI have a church near my home that’s used by a few different groups and one rather ironic congregation in particular is pretty famous in the neighbourhood for disrespecting the neighbours (and really, each other too). They’ll park blocking the road, or they’ll block the alley almost every week and they’ve even been so bold as to park on a neighbour’s driveway, trapping him in his garage for two hours. This always feels decided un-Samaritan-like.

This group experienced a lot politeness from the bolder neighbours initially, although the quieter group was calling tow trucks so maybe those two forces cancelled each other out. In the end it’s never really changed. When I got home after running errands the other morning I saw the contractor down the street having to back his trailer all the way down the alley. The more convenient exit that I was coming in through was blocked enough on my side that he wouldn’t fit.

I rolled down my window and spoke to the young couple who was now blocking the other side of the lane too. I politely let them know that a neighbour would surely call the city if they left their vehicle there. The husband indicated he would move it (as many often claim they will and then don’t). And sure enough, when I walked back he hadn’t. Now the fact that I walked back already shows I was lost.

764 Relax and Succeed - It may look as if the situationWhy did I walk back? Why did I personally feel the need to police the situation? The truth: I hadn’t had enough sleep and I was grumpy. It had nothing to do with these parkers. I was out very late at a friend’s wedding and I was operating on a few hours sleep and it probably didn’t help that I hadn’t had my morning coffee. I’ll usually catch myself being a bit short and I can usually settle myself immediately by just dropping any internal conversation and/or any attachments. Today I chose not to lose the attachment. Today I let the conversation in my head roll.

So I walked back to see if the future I wanted to live in had come true. Remember, I tell you that wanting is an ego-pursuit because it is. My ego wanted that guy to respect that contractor. I used to be a contractor and so I connected him to me, and I imagined him as a decent hard-working guy who was respectful and yet he was being forced to do something difficult for no good reason. Those thoughts added to my negative brain chemistry, which made it more likely that I would convert even more neutral experiences into negative thoughts.

I got attached to them moving the vehicle; I thought I needed it to be happy. And so when I saw their truck unmoved I was actually happy to see the wife returning to get her wallet, which she’d forgotten. I still quite politely told her about the contractor’s trailer and tried to contextualise that it wasn’t a petty request; it really was a big hassle for the guy to have to back out.

764 Relax and Succeed - Choose and direct yourselfI’m not sure, maybe my tone sounded sharp or maybe I had bad body language or maybe she’d been up late at a wedding too and maybe she was just as grumpy as me. She’s entitled. Either way, her reaction to my explanation was, “It’s only for two hours on a Sunday. You must hate God.”

What?!?! My reaction to that statement was far too rapid. My immediate calculation was that she had deflected their personal responsibility onto us, and worse she had justified it by suggesting my very kind and decent neighbours were only asking because we hated God. That lack of personal responsibility and that debasement of God really struck me inside and a feeling came over me that leads to bad news every time.

It’s a little rise. That’s how I feel it. Up until that point I can recoil my thinking quite effectively. After that it races forward and I get a shot of adrenaline and it invariable pushes out words that will be sarcastic and condescending. That kind of arrogance inspires me to want to stab someone with words that will reduce their confidence in that arrogance. And so I said something I deeply regret.

764 Relax and Succeed - When you judge anotherMy terrible and intentionally hurtful reaction to “you must hate God” was a lie. I said, “no, my family was just intelligent enough that they didn’t raise me to absolve myself of being an asshole with my car by conveniently believing in an invisible man in the sky.” That statement suggests that I’m against people believing in God or that I don’t believe in what could be called a sense of God when that’s not true. I have no issue with God. But I pretended to so I could stab her with some science. She scowled and was off and I was left with the sort of ugly feeling that really motivates you not to repeat the action that lead to it.

With no positive course of mind to pursue I simply walked away, but as I did I was already well aware that I’d gotten lost in my thoughts. I immediately began to introspect. My ego wanted. It wanted that vehicle moved and it didn’t like someone turning God into a lame excuse for behaviour that defied the story of the Good Samaritan. I acted superior. My response was to really focus on how much I did not like that feeling and I used that to motivate me to learn from the experience.

By the time I’d walked the few hundred feet home I had settled. I went through what happened to look for where my thinking took over. I realised that I should have noticed the first unsettled sense when I was motivated to walk back. From there it was the attachment to the car being moved, and then my thoughts tying this one experience to all of the previous ones–which of course she’s not responsible for. And finally my ego’s distaste for people using a positive symbol to justify negative behaviour did not help. I’m bad with hypocrisy.

764 Relax and Succeed - Your best teacherI deeply regret what happened but I can’t go back in time so I’ll take it as a lesson. I’m human and I allow for mistakes. But maybe from now on, on the nights where I know I’m going to get very little sleep, I can leave myself a note for when I wake up. Something that reminds me that I might be inclined to be grumpy and to keep an eye out. I think today that would have been enough to do it because when the negative thoughts showed up I could have contextualised them relative to me rather than to her. Lesson learned.

The reason I can’t regret it too much is that this is the yin and yang of life. We need these little moments to remind us where the path is. You can’t have a path without there being not-path. The path I’m usually on feels very warm and pleasant. This did not. It reminds me why I endeavour to stay as mindful as I can each day and so I am grateful for having had the experience.

If the lady I spoke to just happens to be reading this: you have my wholehearted apology. That wasn’t a nice way to speak to you. It’s wonderful you’re enjoying your two hours of holiness. My desire for my neighbour to avoid some unnecessary frustration and the expense of a late-charge on a rental was pointless if I was going to add that negativity to your day. Again, I’m sorry I was unable to be a better person at that time. Thank you.

peace. s

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

Freedom From Judgment

Why is it that so many of my clients would prefer to work at a distance? Why is it that they feel more comfortable talking to me over the phone than they would in talking in person to a psychologist in their own city? There’s reasons for that and in the end they’re pretty logical.

758 Relax and Succeed - The best gift you are ever going to giveWhat many people want to do before they embark on getting healthier is to clear their head. If they’re religious maybe they’ll formally confess to a priest, but for the secular world people like me are the non-judgmental representations of the God-perspective. They want to say who they really are out loud and not get clobbered for it.

I don’t even have clocks on my sessions let alone judgments. I can let people know where their thinking is generating pain or confusion but I have no judgment about who they’ve become with that thinking. They’re welcome to learn, leave and entirely ignore what I showed them. Once people realize I’m serious about that and they open up, which is necessary to them changing.

You’re correct about the fact that there are likely several people in your life who would not accept the real you. But that’s exactly the tension that must ultimately be removed. I’m just the first safety strap. The desire to not to disappoint others is just an extension of our insecure idea of our Selves.

758 Relax and Succeed - The greatest illusionWe have insecure thoughts which lead to insecure feelings which cause us to feel separate to the point where we all dedicate our lives to try to reconnect that separateness. But you don’t need to make connections to others–you are connected to others inextricably.

Just like the acid from your stomach could destroy other parts of your body not designed to contain it, separate parts of one whole can be individually incompatible and yet still be cooperatively part of an effective, happy and complete life experience. In short, you can have some people really not like you and you can still be leading a worthwhile and soulful life.

Can you see the paradox that is established? You’re seeking acceptance, and so you call me to confess your sins. I accept you despite whatever you say and you get the notion that it might be possible for you to be you and still be loved. From there we alter your understanding to the point where you will feel so profoundly connected to others by your shared pursuit of a good life that you will ultimately be able to meet an aspect of the universe that doesn’t like you and you’ll still be fine. You will have accepted yourself!

758 Relax and Succeed - I think I fall in loveYou will learn you can be cared for despite your history. That opens you up so much and your connections to others are so profound that by accepting the people who don’t like you, you paradoxically get to find love by accepting hate. That’s the Yin and Yang of it. You just can’t get one without the other.

It makes sense that you don’t want to present your true self to just anyone. Losing people in your lives would be painful. I’m not in your life so losing me costs almost nothing. And so with no personal price to pay you can be free. But that freedom will at first seem so foreign, so strange and so distant that it might just seem that they only way to reach it would be by phone. 😉

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.