The Daily Struggle

1289 Relax and Succeed - We don't need a solution we need understanding

I recently did a post on the facebook page that read, “We should be in our bodies, not our minds. We should profoundly feel reality around us. We should note how our thoughts can make our bodies appear lighter or heavier. We should note how much less we spill or drop when we focus on the present rather than thinking a layer of before or later over top of a semi-automated present. Our consciousness needs to be filled with something. Fill it with the present rather than with thought.”

Following that post, a long time reader responded that she found staying conscious a “constant struggle,” which in turn has lead to this post, as I also know many of you who go through the classes experience this stage so it makes sense that others reading the blog will as well.

Your consciousness can do two things. It can be focused on the present, or it can think a reality into being for your ego to experience. Each action in the present or thought-triggered reality from the ego will incite various biological reactions that we experience as the chemistry of the brain and the feeling of our emotions.

When we notice our ego most is when it generates pain, but the pain itself often causes us to delve into the past and wonder why we allowed the negative feels to be conjured rather than staying focused on own role in the present regarding how we feel. That means we then add to the problem by chastising ourselves for having gone the route of ego, which just creates more thought-based suffering when what we needed was less.

We don’t need a solution, we need understanding.

The path we seek is defined by where the path is not. What defines the path is its not-path borders. So the ‘struggle’ we feel in bouncing into the underbrush isn’t us failing, it is simply us allowing our consciousness to drift through a lack of active awareness. In turn, our painful emotional reactions to events in turn signal us to return to the awareness and that leads us back onto the path. Without that there would be no path at all.

That “struggle” is not a failure, it is really just the normal oscillation of a soul from spirit to ego and back again. But again; without not-path there is no path, so that is why spirituality is a practice and not a degree. That’s the point behind yin and yang. We can’t have just one. They work together to create reality. That’s why the Buddha said that the end of suffering is the acceptance of suffering, and it’s also why Rumi said, the road home is home.

peace. s

Two Different Men

824 Relax and Succeed - You've gotta beThere are several forms my friend Simon comes in. His girlfriend can’t figure him out. Not because she doesn’t love him or get him, but because she’s looking at him as an ego, through the lens of her own ego. She wants him to be consistent and yet she doesn’t notice she’s not either. That innocent lack of awareness will make their “problems” unfixable until they clear their heads.

Here are some of the personas that I’ve seen Simon exhibit: There’s Business Simon. When he’s around his boss or underlings he sounds almost like a radio-announcer he’ll have so much authority in both his word choice and delivery. Sports Simon is so foul-mouthed and debauched that I can’t even begin to tell you what he sounds like. With His Parents Simon is teasing and helpful. Stoned Simon is philosophical and yet terrified his life has no meaning. But under these and all the other variations of Simon there exists two fundamental states of Simon.

Whether he’s Business, Sports, Man-Cave, Husband, Father or whatever other Simon he is–he’ll either be Wanting or he’ll be Appreciating. Different people will like different personas, but what most people see as our base personality is whether or not we are fundamentally optimists or a pessimists. Because birds of a feather often flock together.

824 Relax and Succeed - Complaints gratitudeWhat’s important about that is that there are two fundamental Yous. The one that wants things to be different and the one that is appreciating how things are. Get that choice right and the rest falls into place. Because who cares how many people approve of your persona if you’re often in a state of appreciation? Appreciation feels good. What other people have going on in their heads is what they feel. You feel what you do–so practice appreciating.

Practice? I know, it sounds weird but that’s what all of those monks meant when they talked about practicing Zen. It’s not an achievement. It’s an action. You actively seek things to appreciate until you get to the point where it’s your nature. After that you’re one of the “lucky” ones.

Yeah, I know Wanting Simon. That’s the depressing version his girlfriend struggles to be around. He points out the jobs he didn’t get, his parents shortcomings, various injustices, the cruel nature of the world and he does all of that because he wants to make the world and himself better. But the world is the world. What Simon needs is to see it through his appreciative eyes.

824 Relax and Succeed - Be aware that tomorrow's resentmentsWhen Simon first met his girlfriend he was crazy in love. All he talked to us about was how great she was. And she is great, but you know what? While he was looking at the world and expecting it to be great, he saw greatness all over the place. His dog got smarter, he realized his apartment had character whereas before it just looked old. His siblings were nicer people and his boss wasn’t so stupid. But then the initial high of meeting his still-excellent new girlfriend naturally wore off. And when it did he returned to seeing the world as ugly, himself as unfortunate, and the future as bleak.

Like all of us Simon always has the choice to want or appreciate. One will always hurt, one will always feel good. That isn’t to say the painful one doesn’t have some value. But you can also better yourself without a lot of suffering. The wise people aren’t in robes or speaking in Yoda-like language or capable of remarkable feats of self-abuse. Wise people are the ones enjoying their lives. Wasn’t that the point of gaining wisdom in the first place?

Don’t want a perfect history. Don’t want a perfect now or a perfect future. Just take what you have and appreciate that if what you want is a better day, week, month, year or lifetime. All you have to do is do it. Appreciate. You know you can.  You can start right now.

peace. s

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