The Shining

No one has a perfect life but there are ways to experience suffering where you’re still able to access feelings that include happiness and contentment. Life is that grand. It’s worth it even when it feels terrible, which explains why soldiers in a war will fight for their life, against all odds,  just for the right to stay alive even though it’s in the middle of a war.

Why is it spiritually or psychologically beneficial to be okay with your suffering? The idea that you are a story rather than an entity can seem very abstract and hard to grasp and yet that little layer of narrative is the only thing that separates you from that wonderful sense of connection and oneness you’ve felt at times in your life.

Living that way is profoundly healthy. As I’ve noted before, it’s why during the European invasion of North America no Natives wanted to go live in European “culture” and yet tens of thousands of Europeans abandoned their civilisation to join peaceful equanimity of the Natives. More like cells in a larger organism the Natives didn’t have individualised perspectives or problems, they saw themselves as part of a complete whole that was simply being. They had no personal stories there was only the story of All and how can you not belong in a story of All?

1005-relax-and-succeed-the-game-is-not-about-becoming-somebodyYour only problem is that you see experiences as being yours. They are happening to you. But look at it this way: Imagine there is a central light source covered by a sphere filled with little holes. As your hole opens the light shines out and you are born. The light itself cannot hope to comprehend the fuel behind the source, the design of the creation that formed them, nor even the nature of light itself. The beam has a source but it cannot know that source.

The light must travel through the first few feet to get to further distances and yet as the light moves “forward” it is still the entire beam of light, not just its farthest reaches. During its travel the light will go through very dark areas, very light areas, it will bounce off reflective surfaces and be impeded by fog or rain or smoke. Our tendency as ego-stories is to talk about our lives as though they are the fog or rain or smoke rather than understanding that those are experiences your life is travelling through. The experience and experiencer get confused.

Is it on one level harder for the light to move forward through a fog? Yes. Does the light know this by thinking about it? No. Does it slow the parts of the light down that are unimpeded? No. So does the fog exist? Yes, on one level, but not as a limiting fog; just as an experience. The light doesn’t know fog or smoke or mirrors. It just shines. So yes the fog is “harder” than the mirrors, but to who?

1005-relax-and-succeed-in-order-to-love-who-you-areIf there’s no you–if you stay aware that you’re the entire beam and that the fog is the fog and not the light failing–then there are experiences being experienced but no one is using words to attach themselves to those. You’re simply not making those part of a personal story. They aren’t seen as being your experiences, they’re seen as where your light is shining.

This is a very simple thing but when we look at it from the wrong angle it can seem like it’s ridiculously complex. If you showed the average person the details behind how a battery chemically worked, how a bulb technically works and how the light travels in physics terms, the whole thing can seem overwhelming and yet everyone knows that a flashlight will illuminate whatever you point it at.

To shine is to live. It’s a wonderful thing. Yes your light will be impeded. Yes some experiences will leave parts of it in shadow forever, and yes our beam eventually meets enough that it fades out of being altogether, but these are also all the very same experiences that allow each beam to feel like an individual when in the end we are all merely portals emerging from one common source.

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.

A Healthy Perspective

You can live or you can think. You can be or you can do. These are vastly different states. Everyone spends time in both, with little kids starting off in the super healthy camp and then we slowly coax them away from that and into the world of thought. Once you’re in that world you’ll have to meditate your way out.

992-relax-and-succeed-to-dare-is-to-lose-ones-footingThe fact that you’re naturally in from birth, plus the idea that we want to return to that later, is what gives our egos the idea that we’re lost when we’re outside of that healthy perspective. But there can’t be a found without a lost, so these two concepts are interdependent. It’s like the inside and outside of a cup. They exist only in conjunction with each other. To fill oneself with life one needs both parts. Someone who was born enlightened and died enlightened with no ego in between would have no knowledge of the idea of either enlightenment or ego. Explaining that would be like explaining water and ice to a fish.

Both of states exist within the world of consciousness. When you think of consciousness it might be better to think of it as a universal place. If you think of the ideas of the universe or unified field theory, or oneness or even God, then you’re getting close to the idea of consciousness. That’s the stage everything is taking place on, both for ego and enlightenment. But you can’t fall off that, it doesn’t even have an up and a down. So why not go for it?

When you were learning to walk you failed more than you moved. You tilted and toppled and fumbled and fell. And still you kept happily marching forward, adding your small bits of progress together until you could run. You couldn’t talk yet so you couldn’t build an ego to punish yourself with, so you learned to walk and talk shockingly fast for such complex tasks. Then you start over-thinking and you end up struggling with something much easier, like algebra or grammar.

992-relax-and-succeed-having-an-ego-is-likeYour ego did the struggling with your “tough subjects,” and by tough I mean the ones you told yourself you couldn’t do. Those fears of failure then prevented you from fully engaging the way you did with walking and talking. When you were learning to talk you were willing to loudly babble away incoherently in public, but by the time you’re older you’re afraid of “looking bad” (whatever that is), and so you don’t try. You won’t wobble, you won’t fall and you don’t grow. Worst, you don’t live deeply, you exist to ruminate shallowly.

People have survived amazing things and then gone on to more amazingness. Polio patients later won medals in the Olympics. Refugees have gone on to become world famous leaders. The bankrupt have gone on to create jobs. Each of us has these feats in us, but few enact them. Instead we think and think and think and that itself is an illness. It is dis-ease in its most basic form. You are unsettled in the universe, whereas when you were learning to walk there wasn’t even a you let alone a universe.

Let go. There’s nowhere to fall. Babe Ruth was also a strike-out king. Picasso painted more mistakes than famous works of art. Those who succeed aren’t any better than you. They just found their thing and they wobbled and tripped and fell their way into being the activity rather than doing the thing. Lose that idea of right and wrong, success and failure and start thinking in terms of quality of experience. Because that sensation is what your life is actually made of.

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 Friday Dose #101

873 Relax and Succeed - Eckhart TolleDid you enjoy the accidental blog yesterday? That was supposed to drop on Monday but apparently I wasn’t very careful choosing my calendar date. Oh well. I’d rather give you too much than too little.

Today we’ll finish the week with Eckhart Tolle and his discussion of the non-thinking fully-present you. Remember, you are not the thoughts–that’s your ego. You are the thing that thinks your ego into existence. Let thoughts go. Simply be aware.

Learn to see your thinking as dis-ease. The presence Eckhart mentions is the incredibly powerful, stable, confident state of being that emerges when you stop pushing your personal thoughts outward and instead you use the same conduit to allow the world inside you. It’s why kids learn so fast when they’re little. Let yourself go. Stop arguing with the world. Let it be and let yourself be. It’s all much more perfect that you can currently even imagine.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

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.

Intentional Being

It’s actually pretty likely that the person reading this is not the person you’d actually planned to be when you grew up. I’m not sure it happens to some Masai guy on the Serengeti but if you live in the modern world then it’s very likely you’re going to end up accidentally being someone. I know. Weird eh? But that’s what people do. They wake up at some time in the next seven or eight years and go, what the…? Whose life is this?!

Let’s pick the art-forms of dance or acting because these are two of the toughest professional challenges there are. A writer can pay his bills by day and dedicate his nights to writing. Professional acting and professional dance understandably and invariably require full day-time and full night-time commitments, so those artists can hold temporary jobs but they can’t climb up any ladders because they’re always leaving when they get a gig. And they will always leave. Artists know their jobs allow them to more fully be themselves than most of life does and so they’ll pretty much die before they’ll give that up. In fact if they do give it up, something has died.

People need to survive. They finish school, they’ve got their school debt and likely a car payment and some insurance and a chunk of some rent somewhere. And eventually you want to date, maybe get married and think about maybe having enough resources to support a family. And all of a sudden your life vanishes and you replace it bit by bit with surviving. You just hope by the end of the month to be able to make ends meet. The ends. You stop living and you start making a living. It can get a bit desperate.

You’ll do your best, so you’ll work to become a better salesman, a better people-manager, a better task-manager, being more organized—whatever. You’ll start developing and competing as that instead of offering the world who you are. So you’ll be more interested in the best sales technique, which isn’t finding the person the best product, but rather it’s the most effective and quick way to get people’s money.

To have a more fulfilling life, instead of just getting their money we can seek what Robert Pirsig called the moment of Quality. The Now moment, when cannot care about the sale itself because there is no subject and object. There is no act and result. Everything is combined. All attention and focus is on the enthusiastic creation of anything original, whether it’s some brand new choreography or an oft-repeated tea ceremony. It all comes from us.

If we continue to care about Quality we won’t lose track of who we are. But if we want to satisfy our ego by trying to be good, or if we just seek to make money, then the blinders go on and invisibly we climb onto a kind of autopilot treadmill. That’s why everyone looks half-dead today. They’re not adding any real value to the world. And if it’s happening to you, what makes you notice it is the monotony and the futility. See? Even those things have advantages.

One day you wake up and realize, whose life is this? When did I become this person? It’s not like you had to get on Broadway or TV, you could have just done community theatre and enjoyed your major in school like a hobby. A lot of places in the world would think that quite sane. It’s less so now, but I like how European students were propelled to be who they wanted to be through their studies, whereas in North America it’s always felt more about training for what you’ll do. That’s a hard thing to define, but there’s something rich about pouring a bunch of education into yourself and not a career you might hate in a few years.

I’ve written it before—your life will go in roughly 7-9 year stretches. That’s about as long as I see people being anyone before they’ll eventually stumble into being someone else. There are those moments of becoming. It’s hard to remember those early ones—where you got your first real independence, or went into puberty, or shifted into young adulthood—but by 25 or 27 years old you’re getting a bit more conscious and you notice the change into actual699 Relax and Succeed - If you don't build adulthood (which is about when your brain stops growing—no joke intended).

So one of the people you will become is a person with a job trying to stay ahead. Not get ahead in many cases. Just keep the wolves at the door for another 30 days. Some people watched their parents resign themselves to that too, but that’s like handing over your life to slavery. Your work day is 50% of your waking life. If you can’t turn it into something meaningful then you’re surrendering way too much.

Fulfill yourself. Change jobs. Create your own value-based company. Or if that feels impossible at least go to your job as a salesman invigorated by the standing ovation you got last night in your community theatre production. Start a dance class for the disabled where you work as an orderly. Teach singing to poor kids at the school where you’re the custodian. There are a lot of ways to be the thing you imagined in university. It doesn’t have to be your work. It can be a big and nourishing part of your life though. We have to stop dividing those two things up as though they’re different. They’re all you being you.

There was wisdom in your youth. Before you were told about responsibilities and obligations etc., you were free. You had ideas about how you would expand the world, not fit into it. What were those dreams? And is some aspect of them still alive? Do you still want to write that novel? Do you still want 699 Relax and Succeed - If you aren't making a differenceto learn to build a computer, or ride a unicycle, or play on the sports teams you had dreaded as a kid? Then do it. Because any pain you feel—any boredom or frustration or lost-ness all stems from you doing and not being. Shakespeare talked about the seven ages of man, and he also said “To be or not to be,” not “To do or not to do.”

Don’t trade your life for money. Don’t do work you can’t invest in. Do things that allow you to genuinely enjoy your day, even if that’s via your customers and co-workers versus the work itself. Because as long as a lot of your days are spent joyfully creating worthwhile things or experiences, then you will continue to expand as is your nature.

Don’t be someone accidentally. Be intentional about your life. Choose your life, choose how to act and choose to be okay with however you feel. Those are all trickier than they sound, but they are all also ultimately answers that are hard to find precisely because they’re so easy and obvious.

Don’t complicate things. Just be yourself. That would be perfect. And have yourself a stupendous day.

peace. s

I’ve posted it on a past Friday Dose but despite some of the language it’s just too appropriate not to re-post, so here’s Joe Rogan’s video The Society Trap. I recommend taking the time to take a look:

Staying in Character

I remember what it’s like. You want to know. I remember not-knowing and how it felt like something I would have to strive toward—like something outside of myself that I needed to get. I had to add to myself. I had to discover something and then I could nod knowingly and after that life would be easy. Life is pretty easy, but the rest of all of that is wrong. That’s what I thought back then. But then there was a me thinking of that, and a me will never get that answer right because me’s are blind to reality.

664 Relax and Succeed - When I accept myselfThe reason I get to live in an enlightened state at least some of the time is because I don’t make a me. Things are happening. I have a presence at those events. But I don’t perceive my comprehension of those events to be reality or the truth. I know that I am little more than a specific way in which to distort all into a personal reality. I am but one character in this great play of life. But knowing that, I remain aware that I am in a play and that my role is only that—a role. My reactions are less mine than they are the ones I was taught. English isn’t my language it’s just the one I speak.

If I begin to take this me too seriously I will think I have to defend or protect or advocate for the character I’m playing. I’ll start arguing with the other characters and I’ll be frustrated by their lack of understanding but then I’m applying my logic to the logic of the play, and that doesn’t work. Each character has to stay as themselves otherwise the whole production falls apart. I can’t suddenly break character and go, oh hey, we don’t have to duel to the death over this issue. We can just remember that we’re just characters in a play and we can go out for a beer after the theatre! Of course that is true, but then the play lacks tension and there’s no point. We have to take it a bit seriously or else it lacks drama. It’s the same reason we like movies and TV. Conflict is drama.

664 Relax and Succeed - When you've run out of excusesSo in a movie you know you’re not the character so you can enjoy roller-coastering through the various emotions. You can feel anger or fear or worry and you won’t mind at all because it’s all in the context of the show you’re watching. But get into the rest of life and all of a sudden you’re taking your waking character way too seriously. There’s no judge in this event. No prize or winning. The event is the event. Life is life. There’s nothing to get. You just get a few years to squeeze experiences into. That’s it. But that’s actually quite profound when you really give it serious thought. Because it makes it precious. And we treat precious things with great care. We love precious things and love is what the universe is made of so any time we feel love we know we’re close to enlightenment.

Relax into your being. There is no need to achieve or impress or hide or mask or any number of strategies to be successful. Relax and succeed. Succeed by relaxing. That is the victory. To not have life chase you, but to fill it like a vase with what you want to drink. Taste your favourite flavours. Bask in existence. It’s a miracle. The odds of all those infinitesimally small bits of 664 Relax and Succeed - Something will growuniverse all congealing together into you is just so incredibly unlikely and yet here you are. It’s amazing and it’s why I look at you and think—why are they sitting there? Why aren’t you off being your magnificent self? Who else would be that person? We can’t have that person going un-lived. This is the universe. Every possibility gets played out. It’s just which one did you choose?

This is your life. Treat it like you chose it. Like you selected your own life story on TV or at the movies. You only have so much time on air. You’re here to enjoy it. You’re hear to get value from it. Sometimes movies make us laugh and sometimes they make us cry, but every type can enrich us and be a worthwhile experience. So stop wanting your life to be different and remember that this is the script you chose. Play your character fully. Trust me. The dramas will be what make it all worth it. After all, those are your life. It’s time you started enjoying it.

Wasn’t it interesting that your character chose to read this? 😉

Now go create an awesome day. Big hugs.

peace. s

The Friday Dose #18 – Meaningless Joy

383 Relax and Succeed - How beautiful it is to do nothing

Last week I heard a story on the news that golf is dying because young people are too impatient for results and they don’t want to spend four hours relaxing in nature to see who won. They’re in so much of a hurry to get to the destination that they completely ignore the value of the journey. That’s sad, and that world was built and encouraged by my generation. I’m sorry about that. We were only trying to sell you more stuff so we could get more stuff. It’s not like many of us were very focused on the enjoyment of life. It was just a big race to collect what we were told to go get and we just kept adding to what everyone needed to collect. I’m hoping that the resulting emotional exhaustion is the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

Did it every occur to you that apparently useless activities could have value? It’s true. A friend of mine is a brilliant guy who’s ran several different kinds of businesses. He has a glider-flying game for his computer. Why? Because there’s no point. Because there’s no way to win. There’s no objective. You just go wherever you want to go. That’s a form of meditation. People used to sit around and stare at the fire. They still do if you give them the chance. But why? Because it doesn’t interrupt the quiet inside. It keeps you focused but it’s not demanding. You make your choices without tension because there is no price attached to the decision, unlike the rest of your life. That’s why it’s meaningful.

Here’s a meaningless little tool that you can have a lot of fun with. Play around with your choices. You have more of them that you immediately may realize:

Soundscape Manipulation

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Have you heard of the painter Jackson Pollock? He used the tensile strength of paint to help him create. There was a fluid unpredictability to his motions and it adds a quality to his works that I would call kinetic and graceful. This tool is also pretty useless at anything other than relaxing your mind by giving you something to do that you can’t fail at:

Jackson Pollock Fun

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And finally here’s one that’s a little more direct. Turn on your sound, crank up your volume and have some fun. Anyone can do it and it’s as fun as it is meaningless. And meaninglessness has real value in anyone’s life. Start investing more in it today:

A Beatbox For All Ages

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Make your enjoyment of life a bigger priority. Stop trying to get things done and start being present more often. Because you never have been a Human Doing. You always have been and always were intended to be, a Human Being. Now go Be. 😉

peace. s

The Friday Dose #8 – Expanding Understanding

323 Relax and Succeed - The tiny seedWe’ll start this week’s Dose off with a look at teens. They can sure frustrate and perplex their parents but we must keep in mind the context they are in. They are at a phase of life where they are subtracting their parents choices as they experiment with their own. Most often, most will adopt choices very similar to their parents—eventually, after some bad experiences picking the opposite. But they’ll also find their own ways too. It’s just important to keep in mind the social environment they’re in. They’re trying to look impressive, so for them to exaggerate or over-dramatize life is in keeping with the phase they’re in. This where they will build much of their identity and they need room to experiment with what it will include. This interview is certainly an excellent peak into their psychology on line. I highly recommend it—and her book—for all tween and teen parents:

Understanding the Social Lives of Networked Teens

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And from the same program, here’s a guy who might initially appear to be a geeky, socially inept nerd, but in fact he’s simply being uncharacteristically honest about how the human mind actually works. If you’re the type of person who gets locked into your work and you’re self-aware enough about that to know you need a way to remind yourself to demonstratively love your spouse, then creating a mechanism to remind you of something true isn’t unromantic at all. In fact it’s actually quite romantic. The person that creates that tool doesn’t have to just remember to call, they have to actually work to build something to make sure that happens. That’s a nice way to think of someone else. It’s worth a listen:

Tools for Love

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And we’ll finish with some meditation. Often times people find meditation difficult because they find it challenging to quiet their own personal thinking. Artistry can often achieve this state of mind by fulling investing the viewer in the experience. Here’s something that has nothing in it for you personally. There’s no gain or loss for you other than the experience itself. It is simply a reality on which your mind can rest. I hope you find it as rewarding and soul-enhancing as I did:

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Have yourself a wonderful weekend because you chose to make it that way.

peace. s

 

Defining Success

Scott, just when I think I have it all clear in my head, I stumble now and then.
Please help, again, with this status you recently posted:

As an adult ego you surrender your freedom to create your own feelings.
Now you believe someone else anoints you with feelings of success.”

signed,
Curious

Dear Curious,

Thank you for your question. While I respect your humility, please allow me to take a large part of the responsibility for your confusion. It’s not my best work. Add to that the limitations of our 140 character world and we’re left here—where I’ve managed to communicate almost nothing. 🙂 But as life is, there is always another side, and the upside of this is that my lack of clarity means it’s now a blog entry instead of a status line, so hopefully I’ll be clearer in 700 words than I was with 140 characters.

316 Relax and Succeed - A good life is a collectionOur feelings are created through our own awareness. We have to learn to see our consciousness like a container and we have to start getting picky about what we’ll put in that container. No more toxins! When we’re kids we’re geniuses because we waste zero energy on self-consciousness or worry. We just do. We are fully invested in our awareness so we notice so much. But by the time we’re adults we trade feelings for emotions, and now we’re filling up our container with stories about the world and our doubts about our place in it. So as a child “success” was a given, every day. It was all you did. Because without failure there is no success, and without language there can be no failure.

As a kid you were. You knew how to Be. Not Be anything specific. Just Be. And that in and of itself is the ultimate success. It is to live an enlightened life. But as an adult you learn all these word-ideas. You get graded in school, you get told what’s right or wrong by your religion or government, you learn about prices and limits and achievements and status and like ladders you want to climb these ideas.

You want more and you’re always aware of what you’re lacking or missing. You now have a list of words that describe success and you’re trying to get the puppet of your ego to perform the script written by your culture. You’re busy collecting people, things and experiences that you believe will frame an acceptable you. Your success is now dependent. It is conditional. It is outside of you and you need to earn it. This is just the modern version of the age-old idea of original sin.

316 Relax and Succeed - Success is going from failureIs this making sense? When you were a kid you were happy to swing at a ball and miss. As an adult you need to hit it to feel like anything even happened. When you were a kid you would happily perform dance numbers in front of people, but as an adult you’re shy and you roll your shoulders in as you try to become part of the background. When you were a kid you would proudly show the world every piece of art you painted, and yet even if you’re a trained adult with a good reputation, you’ll still worry every time you start a painting that you might do something wrong.

Success is not something missing that we need to go get. Success is a verb that we must enact in our own being. We must move successfully through the world, without attachments or desires or wants. We must be clear and open and free. We must be like children, with their silent thoughts and their wide open minds. We must see again. We must awaken to the everyday wonder that makes every day of our existence so profoundly meaningful. To relax into that reality is to have truly succeeded.

That’s my shot at extrapolating that status, Curious. It’s up to you to decide if I expanded you or not. But I thank you nevertheless for the opportunity to make this spiritual concept clearer to you and others.

All the best,

peace. s

Are You Ready For Love?

91 Relax and Succeed - It long since come to my attentionYou want your life to be different. Do you see the problem? You want it. Wanting is a verb. It’s a spiral within yourself—like gazing half the day at a photo of something in a catalogue. Thinking about something that you do not have is what you are being. You are in the act of wanting.

If you actually want the thing in the catalogue you have to figure out the steps that might lead to you having it, and then if you feel they’re worth it you have to take those steps. Wanting to be healthier won’t do anything for your body. Finding enjoyable activities that improve your health are abundant. And many of them are social. So it’s time to stop wanting. It’s time to get out of our habitual thought-caves.

If you want more caring in the world; if you want more patience, tolerance, kindness and compassion—then demonstrate it. Make it the verb you become. Rather than experiencing want you can be compassionate. You can demonstrate patience and tolerance. You can simply be kind to a stranger. These are all forms of love. These are times when our thoughts are quiet and we are simply and truly being with someone. In that state, we are rich because we have nothing we want.

91a Relax and Succeed - Do something todayIf you are expressing compassion you will feel the gentle warmth of compassionate feelings. If you are angry your body will tense up in its biochemical response to your thoughts. If you are patient you will be peaceful. If you are wanting the world to be different than it isi.e. I wish this lineup would move faster—then you will feel disrupted, frustrated and upset.

What is good for you is good for the world. When you encourage enjoyable chemistry for your own experience you also happen to behave very generously. This can form an excellent feedback loop of love, as is often seen during the reactions to major tragedies. People forget divisions and they focus on enacting their love. Bridges are often figuratively and literally built that way.

Don’t look for love. Create it. The ability is entirely in your control. So Be it. It’s stunningly attractive, it’s highly enjoyable, and you’ll actually make the world a better place.

Enjoy.

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.

Go With The Flow

86 Relax and Succeed - Go with the flowGo with the flow. It’s catchy. You might have even said it to people when you saw them struggling. But what exactly did you mean when you said it? What is going with the flow? If you had to put that into other words what would you say? That’s where a lot of people get stuck. How does one go with a flow anyway?

Let us analogise your life into a river. Way up in the high peaks you melt into a little baby trickle. You burble along to the point of becoming a toddler/brook. You don’t impact the world around you much, but you are continually growing to the point where eventually you’re a creek and you have a real flow/personality of your own. Now you can start to have a hand in shaping your own shores.

Along the way you intersect with occasional tributaries. These are the people that help you become who you become. Through them, your creek will grow and grow to the point where you’re a full-on raging teenaged river.

As a river you will continue to grow you will move through a lot of different terrain (social situations, work situations, ages, eras in time etc.). You will pass through stunningly beautiful terrain, and hostile difficult terrain. Sometimes you’ll be at your kid’s weddings. Other times you’ll be taking your spouse to cancer treatments.

You will sometimes move wide and slow, like when you’re either lazily relaxing, or other times when the bottom’s so shallow you’re not sure which way to flow. Sometimes you will crash through canyons so narrow that your sheer force of being will carve solid rock, just as you may have left a very serious scar on the person you once hurt. Sometimes you’ll move so slowly you’re silent. Other times you’ll thunder with the crush of a waterfall. All of these ways of Being are very different and yet all of this is you.

But none of that really matters because eventually you spill back out into the ocean where you are reunited with All—you become indistinguishable from your surroundings as you diffuse and ultimately evaporate—the infinite parts of you rising into the sky like some ephemeral angel to be reincarnated into new snowfall that will melt into new trickles that will form new brooks, creeks and rivers. This is the cycle of life. But what’s that got to do with defining the phrase go with the flow?

86a Relax and Succeed - Here's how it works100% of that river’s journey is your life. From trickle to ocean, that’s all you. Sometimes you’re lazy and slow. Other times you’re falling so fast you can’t hold on. Sometimes the world tells you where to go and other times you make your mark on it. But whether it’s rapids or flats, the river is the river. Going with the flow just means that you’re okay with whatever part of the river you’re on/being. The point is: don’t stand on the flat parts wishing for more excitement and danger, and don’t stand in the rapids worrying because things are so exciting or dangerous.

Every river has its own flow—and yes, some are more dramatic than others. But they all have to get from the mountain to the ocean, and they’re all going to see a variety of terrain, so don’t get caught up in using your thoughts to want different terrain. Just acknowledge where you are on your river and then go with the proverbial flow. Don’t add to your challenges by talking to yourself about how you wish this part of the river was like another part of another river. Because that’s a nonsense conversation and your attention would be better placed in the Now.

All lives have rapids and slow spots. All move through beautiful backdrops and ugly wastelands. But since there is no getting around those facts why not just stop the internal discussion about what should, could or would be better? Why not just stay quiet?

86-relax-and-succeed-dont-try-to-understandThis is what the Buddhists mean when they talk about acceptance. You stop arguing with what is. It’s not that you become enlightened and you have no more challenges and everything goes your way. Becoming enlightened means to come to an acceptance that there will always be such challenges. The point isn’t to prevent them from happening. The point is to be able to comfortably have them happen.

If things are tough, let them be tough. If they’re going really well—enjoy it fully. But don’t fight gravity by arguing with yourself about which way the river should have gone. It will always go the way it goes, just as you will. The point is that you shouldn’t judge your flow. You should just follow your nature and go with whatever your life presents you.

If your life is currently quiet, then you should be good with quiet. But if it’s rapids, then you should be just as good with the rapids as you are with the quiet parts. Or in other words, you should be just as good with vexation as you are with peace. That’s what it is to live the good life. That’s what people should mean when they say, just go with the flow.

Have an awesome day, regardless of where your water is flowing. 😉

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.