We can be kind to ourselves with our thoughts, but we can also be kinder to ourselves with our lives.
Whether it’s what we eat, how and when and with whom we eat it, or if it’s walks outside or time with a book, we must ensure that we are not expecting our minds to compensate for a life that is drastically out of a balance in terms of expenditures of energy versus opportunities for rejuvenation.
If we are under stress, then it will feel like it and we must simply accept that there are times in life where rest and good nutrition is not really possible. We can generally endure far more than we suspect but, despite that, we must ensure we make room to rest or else everything will become stressful.
Rest is not a selfish luxury of ego, that is sloth. Rest is what a healthy mind needs to sustain their hold on equanimity. Sloth is when we deny the world the benefits of our inherent value.
What makes this challenging is that no one desires the hardships of life so it makes sense we will often feel resistance to needing to react. At the same time if we don’t react we naturally feel uncomfortable because our nature moves us to contribute meaningfully to our society because that is actually a selfish, self-preserving approach. We are better together. Knowing that, we need to nurture our value to the larger world.
In the end, all we need to contribute is some wisdom and some enthusiasm. The former comes through experience, but the latter is more a matter of us getting out of the way of our nature. In many cases, we really do find the tougher jobs more rewarding. But in order to take them, we must feel we have the energy to succeed.
Do not feel guilty about needing real rest. Deep down, we all know when we really need it versus when we’re simply seeking to avoid a responsibility we feel inside. By spending more time with the difference between the feelings we can learn to tell one from the other more quickly, which allows us to accomplish more, while also ensuring that we’re rested enough to do so.
Let us all balance our weeks as much as we can. With the right attitude, we can make a huge impact on how our days feel. Enjoy.
Time together in nature. It’s good for us if we’re able to achieve it. Our souls know the sky. And it’s a very nice temple to walk in.
Whether it’s what we eat, or how and when and with whom we eat it, or if it’s walks outside or time with a book, we must ensure that we are not expecting our minds to compensate for a life that is drastically out of a balance in terms of expenditures of energy versus opportunities for rejuvenation.
I too am expending a lot of life energy in balancing many serious responsibilities so I can relate to the need to find opportunities to actively cultivate peace. As hard as it can be at times, we all must make room to rest or else everything will become even more stressful.
Rest is not a selfish luxury of ego; that’s called sloth. That’s what we do when we deny the world our love and capability. Contrary to that, rest is what a healthy mind needs to sustain its hold on equanimity and enthusiasm for life.
To that end, for those readers who are located in Edmonton, I am looking at doing Sunday walks that would be around various trails in the city, with the walks built around the idea of shared experience with our natural world. These might be 90 minutes in length, with maybe 20-30 minutes spent lingering here or there before or after for some discussion. It will be very informal.
Depending on whether there’s just a few of us or more, maybe a short talk might start the process, but it would be more to walk and Be together, and maybe I can answer some questions along the way.
I suspect they would start some time in June. If you’re in Edmonton and would like to be part of these proposed Sunday spiritual walks, send me an email to the address below and on the first Sunday that I start the walks I will let you know where we can meet to begin.
Whether there are many or I pick the wrong week and end up walking alone, even if only for a short time, I am very much looking forward to getting back into Edmonton’s forest system to reconnect with all that is around us. Maybe I’ll see you there. Happy trails.
A lot of our stress comes from us being engaged in striving for perfection. Even by definition it’s an impossible problem. Who defines perfection?
Playing an instrument. Dancing, painting. Cooking. Parenting. A religion; yoga; even the Japanese tea ceremony. These are all activities that are best done with an active, creative, present focus. If there’s a precise ‘way’ to do anything, then that’s just another form of expectation.
Even in Buddhist tea ceremony, the precise actions shouldn’t create the headspace, the headspace and the precise actions should become one. Yes, one is designed like a meditation to lead to the other, but in practice they are not one in the same. That’s missing the point. When a wise person points to the moon, we’re not supposed to look at their finger.
Every one of us; let’s all forget our ideas for how we’re supposed to be. Let us just be who we are instead. It’s easier. Surrendering into ourselves is like performing a spiritually relaxing exhale of ego.
Maybe we’re experienced and have a slow steady flow to life, maybe we’re new and are lost but wild with enthusiasm. Neither person is right or failing or doing it ‘the right way.’ We’re all just individuals climbing around on the terrain of life.
Everyone is already living their lives perfectly, we just keep telling ourselves otherwise because we each imagined a different story. But do you see? That is a part of our story too –that we tell ourselves stories that aren’t true.
We don’t need to fix anything, we don’t need to improve or be perfect. We just need to realize that the way we already are is totally fine if we maintain a healthy headspace of knowing who we are, and by avoiding the act of telling ourselves that we should be someone different. If we’re not self-talking we can remain fully present for action.
It is unhealthy to be so rigidly focused on rituals, rules and history that we fail to notice our opportunities to make our lives and the world around us into a better place for all. Doing anything really well is not defined by how we do the thing itself, it’s defined by how conscious we are when we do whatever we do.
Without consciousness, we are left to be crippled by our own insecurities. This unnatural over-thinking state leads us to feel discomfort, as the universe naturally urges us to go quiet and come alive.
The universe sees no value having any aspect of itself spin in on any other aspect of itself. That is spiritually unproductive. Self-absorbed self-criticism is unproductive and worse, it can lead us to deny the universe the value of our creative and social contributions to it.
We must get our thoughts out of our way in order to enact our lives. Why not start right now?
It’s a holiday here in Canada so here’s a reminder for today:
Ideally we are quiet-minded and there are no voices in our head. But okay, if we can’t quiet ourselves enough to point ourselves toward that silence, we can at least direct ourselves toward thinking charitable, compassionate and loving thoughts about ourselves.
That’s not ego. That’s the real us. We are decent people, we do care and we do want to love and to be loved. And of course like everyone else we have some struggles and peccadilloes, but that doesn’t change our worthiness in the slightest.
We are as integral to the universe as anyone else. So keep in mind (no pun intended) that every single voice inside our head is just us talking to ourselves. It’s absurd that we would pay attention to that voice as though it has some profound meaning.
Silence. Silence has profound meaning. Talk is all ego by nature. Maybe it lines up with reality, maybe not. Self-talk presents us with a divided world where comparison leads to suffering. Ego divides and describes. Our spirit doesn’t.
We should all do our best to try to use our minds as an awareness and absorption input device and not as an opinions and language output device. And we always always always always need to remember that any voice in our head is meaningless and it holds zero power to make us do anything unless we inexplicably choose to act on hollow thoughts.
If we’re going to think anything, think positive thoughts. But as much as we can, we should just try to be really, really quiet. After all, ff we’re quiet enough, wisdom is all that’s left. Take care.
An enlightened view of life is challenging because it requires a curious shift rather than the acquisition of new knowledge from outside of us. It’s why I’m a guide and not teacher. People need to experiment with their own experiences, not their intellectual understanding. I just prompt the experiences in a way tailored to them.
In an attempt to help point to this shift in perspective, imagine that you already sincerely have a way to love everyone without condition. You may not want to spend time with many, and you may disapprove of some of their actions, but below all of that there is a basis of love –of believing in that healthy part of the other person even when it’s not clearly evident. It is a belief in the human spirit.
Assuming that were true, can we then see that we don’t need to build bridges of love to others, we only need to remove the barriers in our thinking that are preventing us from accessing the love that is the basis of everyone’s shared existence.
Rather than finding out how to forgive or put up with someone, we need to ask ourselves what judgmental thoughts do we have that lead us to create feelings that we then attach to that other person –just as others do likewise to us?
Let’s take the example of someone that we don’t like, but someone that is liked by the people we do like. Imagine this person earnestly. We should imagine the qualities they have that cause the people we like, to like this other person. Then we can ask ourselves, what sort of sources a person’s history might provide explanations for the way they act?
We should ask ourselves if we truly believe the other person is being the way they are to irritate us, versus the idea that we struggle to stay mentally calm around certain types of entirely legitimate people who express nothing more than a normal human foible or even a quality we dislike.
Maybe we’re a woman who can’t stand another lady at work because she’s always sticking her nose into things and we don’t like it. She’s so nosy we can’t imagine how she has any of the friends she mentions. But those friends don’t have that barrier-thinking between her and their love like we do.
They were the for –or learned about– her history. Maybe she was a fatherless 16 year old caring for her mother while she died of cancer and what tortured her most was that no one even offered any help. Her friends know that she thinks the greatest tragedy in the world is people suffering all alone. So they understand that she comes across as a busy-body, but they just see a loving person caring for others.
Meanwhile, imagine that we were raised to see privacy as very important and so those taught thoughts clash with her taught thoughts, so while others can make friends with her, we do not. But the barrier was and is only thoughts based on histories we had little control over.
Or in another example, maybe a guy comes across as overly macho and we’re another guy who finds that irritating. But what if he’s only that way because his Dad left when he was a kid? And he felt –and people told him– he had to man-up, and it’s a performance he started at 13 and now it’s his personality because that’s all a personality is –a repetition of certain words or behaviours.
If we’re detached from our natural love for a person we’ll focus on our selfish thoughts about how we want the person to be, so his friends will love him because they do not share our thought barrier. They were there and watched him defend his wounded mother from countless abusive suitors and he did it by acting more like a man than he deserved to for his age. They’re proud of him.
His friends get that he came by the personality honestly, due to being a good person under difficult circumstances. And he loves them for that. The entire series The Big Bang Theory is based on the idea of friends putting up with each other’s social mistakes because they recognize no one is doing anything on purpose to anyone else. They can feel the love underneath it all because they ultimately accept each other unconditionally.
We don’t need to reach out to love people. We need to relax our judgments about them, just as we wish them to be relaxed against us. Because in the end, the world works best if we all just relax into being ourselves, letting others be themselves. Only then can we all flow.
We are not our plans for our future, we are the sum of what we do in the present moment. Our lives are not made of ideas, they are brought to life by the verb of living –through our daily action. Charting a course is worthwhile, but movement keeps an airplane aloft.
Many of us have worked long and hard in an attempt to awaken because we failed to note we had an attachment to certain changes within ourselves. We’re not looking for something pedestrian like, ‘you are already okay, just live your life and be increasingly aware while you do.’
That sounds too easy, and yet that very objective and state of mind can make even grocery shopping feel pretty awesome. But instead of something that ordinary, people are looking for lightening bolts and profound new genius. The elated feeling we get from optimistic pursuit is like that, but the source of the spark is created within us, not from without us.
Most people spend most of their lives wishing for, hoping for, or planning for a life they will never live simply because they are always planning it based on some wholesale change that will suddenly make the experience easier. We act as though our signal to ’go’ will be when we feel totally awesome.
In reality, in life it’s most important to ’go’ precisely when we are feeling down and out. Not out of duty or obligation or guilt –but because we are in active, conscious pursuit of the rewards of living. We can be legitimately excited about where we are going.
That’s why more optimistic people put the effort in; because they know the effort pays off in and of itself. By approaching it this way, even bad times have the feeling associated with chasing a valued goal. It’s a rewarding feeling, regardless of how it comes to our lives.
Planning is something that can be done in the present moment and it can be a wise investment of Now. But those sorts of plans have targets and goals and action that allow us to recognize we are in movement.
Unhealthy planning is little more than depressed rumination. We just keep talking about the great life we’ll have once we’re feeling better.
When we’re in the wrong state of mind it always seems too simplistic to tell people the truth: that we don’t change and feel better, but rather we feel better and then note the change after the fact. But that’s true because our health is a verb, not an idea. It even explains why so many people find new life after disasters or emergencies. Those events simply force us into motion.
There are many forms of unhealthy rumination, but some are tricky and disguise themselves as positive things like planning. But beware. The difference between real planning and hopeful planning is fairly obvious if we’re watching for it, and knowing one from the other can literally save a lifetime.
I recently heard about a scientific study that involved ‘improving sports.’ I found the desire to remove mistakes from sports refereeing to be a good example of the two sides of an issue that society currently faces in all areas of life.
Our drive for fairness is admirable and natural and is at the heart of cooperative societies, but our simultaneous discomfort with normal, progressive human fallibility can become obsessive, as it currently feels it’s becoming.
A recent study found that baseball referees made wrong calls on pitches about 10% of the time. That made sense considering what they are doing, which is to track a tiny, high speed object through a fictional piece of three-dimensional space. Missing only 10% felt very impressive to me. Refs getting calls wrong is a part of the drama of a game. But to the researcher, this was something to be fixed.
Indeed, we can attempt to ‘fix’ that with technology but the question becomes, do all of these perfections in all areas of life lead humans to develop entirely unrealistic expectations about other as yet-imperfect human systems, or even about other people or ourselves? Did we teach ourselves perfectionism by trying to perfect everything around us?
We’re in gyms because we don’t think we’re perfect enough. We alter our diets because we don’t think we’re perfect enough. We redecorate and dress ourselves in repeated attempts to attain perfection. We even fear death because we’re so sure that one lifetime isn’t enough to make the case for our own value, because those mistakes keep bringing our value down –we think.
Technology and systems improve over time because each generation can build upon the one before it. But every generation starts off ignorant to the emotional challenges in life, and we all must face them individually. Maturing is learning, and learning involves being wrong, there is no getting around it.
The struggle through life is our life. That is what it is to mature, to grow and to partake in the rewards of living. To mistake the struggle toward perfection to be a failure to achieve perfection is to lose the value inherent in mortality.
Vampires are doomed to an eternity where they can perfect their external selves, but nothing can save them from the eternal horror of watching all of their great loves age and pass on. Only humans are granted the grace of a temporary state, and the great loves that go with the preciousness of limited time.
With all the wonderful experiences available in life, we are better not to waste that time worshipping the notion of perfection.
If we seek perfection our ‘improvements’ to ourselves and the world can ultimately do more damage to our lives than good. But that can only happen when we have failed to notice the value of limited time.
Improvements are positive, but they come to us just as much from our enjoyment of life as from our efforts to consciously improve. It is important for each of us to not get so attached to being better that we forget to simply be at all.
What you seek, you shall never find. For when Gods made man, They kept immortality for themselves. Fill your belly. Day and night make merry, Let Days be full of joy. Love the child that holds your hand. Let your wife delight in your embrace. For those alone are the concerns of man. – The Epic of Gilgamesh
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to run into an excellent interview with Linda Perry, who I’m a huge fan of. That lead me to think about one of her biggest songs. In fact, in the interview, she notes how she was going to sing it before she heard it done another way. It’s very telling. And there’s a little secret in her interview about the start of the song.
Part of its magic is that the song carries the same message that this blog does. Whether they are yours or someone else’s, always remember: words can’t bring you down.
Everyday is so wonderful, then suddenly, its hard to breathe Now and then I get insecure, from all the pain I’m so ashamed
I am beautiful no matter what they say Words can’t bring me down I am beautiful in every single way Yes words can’t bring me down So don’t you bring me down today
To all your friends you’re delirious So consumed in all your doom Trying hard to fill the emptiness, the pieces gone Left the puzzle undone, is that the way it is
You are beautiful no matter what they say Words can’t bring you down Cause you are beautiful in every single way Yes words can’t bring you down So don’t you bring me down today
No matter what we do No matter what we say Were the song inside the tune, full of beautiful mistakes And everywhere we go, the sun will always shine And tomorrow we might awake on the other side
Cause we are beautiful no matter what they say Yes words won’t bring us down, no We are beautiful in every single way Yes words can’t bring us down So don’t you bring me down today
What if we could be someone else? Whose problems would we rather have?
I recently took a rare break to have coffee with a friend whose bright and happy soul I have always enjoyed spending time with. At one point she talked enviously about how exciting my life had been with various thrilling careers and living in different exotic places in unexpected ways –and she’s right. I have enjoyed a wonderful and very unconventional life.
But like all lives, an exciting one has its associated prices. But those prices are often invisible to others, which is why comparison is a risky ego activity in any case.
Sometimes with lives the prices tip toward boredom, other times danger. In fact, choosing between the appeal of each was largely the point at the heart of the book and film, The Bridges of Madison County. What’s better; boring but reliable? Or exciting but risky?
Individuality is where we set our balance between the two, but even then –most of us would move that line on a daily basis, based on what was going on and how we felt. So it’s not like there’s a ‘right’ place for that line.
As someone who’s had an exciting life, if I was going to trade lives I’d likely pick a life like hers. After all, her route did make her the happy soul whose company I enjoy. That’s all that counts; the results. And I’ve done the other thing.
Dress shoes or sports shoes, the style of our walk through life is irrelevant. Our appreciation for our journey through life will depend more on our attitude more than our lifestyle.
We have to be someone. Both our history and our consciousness will combine to subconsciously decide who we end up as. That person simply cannot be wrong. But we can think we are wrong to be us. The trick is, even that questioning of our Selves is a part of us being fully ourselves.
It is important to accept our psycho-spiritual struggles as a part of our path. Those challenges do not mean that we are lost, they only mean that everyone’s individual path is formed by engaging in the struggles that each of us individually feels are truly worth it. Our strange enthusiasm for some challenges versus others is essentially what defines the values that frame our path.
Let us forget all of our comparative, judgmental thinking. No one needs to change as much as we need to accept who we are and then surrender into the idea of truly letting that person go.
Enjoy your day by making it as conscious as possible. Namaste.
Excluding my experience teaching in prisons, every single student/client I have had would be deemed as ‘successful’ by most people who knew them casually. All of them looked –and more importantly were– the sort of people all of us would like to be in one way or another. And yet they all came with what they felt at the time were crippling problems.
In our heads, we tend to do negative comparisons with people we see. If we’re angry or disappointed in the world, then we tend to be insulting and judgmental about people. But if our negativity is turned inward, then we only notice the qualities they have that we feel are missing within ourselves (e.g. I wish I could wear clothes like that, or, that guy is smooth and polished and I’m a bumbling idiot.)
But inside those smooth and polished exteriors, people come to me largely at a moment of transition. Sometimes the transition is mistaken for a crises, but most are just ordinary people that have developed negative feelings about themselves or their lives for all kinds of very human and understandable reasons.
Some are struggling with grief, others with fear. Some have addictions, some are anxious, some lack confidence, some aren’t sure who to become next. There are senior business people that want to have a heart to heart without losing face, parents who want to admit they are failing (but generally aren’t), and cheating spouses.
There are people tired of hating, bosses who need easier but more effective ways to manage people, people who need to forgive someone –and some are even crippled by guilt by having done some truly awful things in their lives.
They all come as a way to move forward and create positivity; as a way to atone for their past. But each and every one would look like a successful person you might envy on the street or at work. Think about that the next time you’re using your uninformed beliefs about others to beat yourself up with.
In our heads, we tend to do negative comparisons with people we see.
Remember, we all might think harsh thoughts and have periods in our life that we regret, but the regret is the sign that we are good people otherwise we wouldn’t feel that. Instead, we are better to face that pain full on because it is ours. After that, we should see ourselves as human and forgive ourselves.
Instead of wallowing in negative emotions, we are better to enact our regrets via the expression of positivity within the world around us, through the living of our lives. So let’s all just forget all the self-doubt and comparisons and have a great day enacting positivity in our little parts of the world. Thanks for reading.