Surrendering Into Your Path

Life Reality Quotes Reality Quotes About Life | Quote AddictsYou’re busy trying to maintain or improve your life. Maybe you’re physically busy but a lack of time to plan means that you never get to arrange the moves that would save you. Or maybe you have too much time to plan and you procrastinate through over-consideration; you literally think yourself into non-action. Either way, it doesn’t seem like you’re moving forward. Or are you?

Goals provide can provide direction, but if the goal is too specific it can act as an unrealistic and therefore painful expectation. Your wants will be tied to your goals. And those wants will be painful if you assume your route to where you’re going is the straightest, most logical one. Sometimes it’ll be a crazy set of circumstances that lead you where you’re going without you even realising it.

Other times you’ll get the thing you aimed for and then wonder why you wanted it. Pretty much everyone who pursued a relationship (work or professional) that they left voluntarily will understand that feeling. It feels like you went the wrong way. But what exactly is wrong if there’s only so many feelings you can have? It’s not like any one route changes those. Those are about how you live, not where or with whom.

1231 Relax and Succeed - Our prayers should be for blessingJust as their are agonised people in every situation, there are also very contented people living in almost every circumstance you can imagine, including suffering from illness and living in poverty. The fact that that is true doesn’t have to prevent us from being motivated to easing suffering, but it does point to the fact that the externals of our lives are not what dictates a good or bad life experience. You can’t make decisions about your life that build a perfect life.

If you look more closely at, and meditate seriously upon your life, there’s no evidence whatsoever that you actually know which way your life should go. There’s been plenty of times you fought for something you didn’t ultimately want. There’s been times where you cast things aside that you later realised were extremely important to you. You do this all the time, every day, with big and little things. You just have to start being more conscious.

Within the next 24 hours, talk with a friend or even an acquaintance,. Help each other find the strongest example you can find of a time where you totally fought against some idea only to realise later that it was a profound gift. Then find a time where you were completely dismissive of something that had great value.

1231 Relax and Succeed - Forget trying to find your pathDon’t do this to beat yourself up as though you made a mistake though. Do this and truly contemplate that the thoughts you’re having today are just that; thoughts. They are now judgments about then. They are not reality, reality changes as you change. Even the past.

Study your the connection between your thoughts and your emotional experience of reality. Being conscious of that function is the only route to anything that could even remotely be called, “the good life.” It isn’t how it is. It’s how you’re taking it. Resist less, flow more.

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.

Falling For Your Life

If you feel like everything is going wrong you can relax. If you’re worried you’ve made some terrible decision that will doom you, you haven’t. You just tend to think that feelings will stay when feelings are bad but no feeling is final. They just keep piling up until they make a big pile called your life.

That makes no sense to you because you want to know what to do, how to improve, how to grow and repair and fix and change. You wonder why you’re not enough, or why the world is the way it is, and yet everything is perfect. You imagine perfect as where everyone gets along, but that would be a boring life. You watch no movies or TV about everyone getting along perfectly because that would not interest you.

What interests you is overcoming. What you overcome is largely irrelevant, but your spirit punishes you for sitting still and it rewards movement and creation, and so your spirit naturally feels enthusiastic about movement. So live more of your life and plan less of it. Being aware in the moment will do you more good than an ideal plan.

Remember the Kierkegaard quote I noted a few weeks back? Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards. Your job isn’t to consciously understand why your flake of snow landed here or there, your job is to just pile up into your natural life; your job is to just stay awake and react naturally from there. Yes, naturally will include “mistakes” and naturally will also include “improvements” you’ve made on previous “mistakes” but that’s more an evolution than conscious change. You want to stop being so conscious of your self-judgments and more conscious of your actual life.

The truth is you can’t go wrong. What feels wrong is when you don’t yet understand looking back, the life you’ve already lived going forward. But those are two separate processes. Stop expecting them to align. The living is always ahead of the understanding. That’s not things going wrong, that’s things going perfectly.

Stop complaining about where you are and who you are and what you’re doing. You don’t even know where you’re really going. So surrender your need for specific outcomes. Instead, anticipate that, whatever comes, if you live with awareness and allow your wisdom to flow, your next step will make itself apparent, even if that step seems crazy at the time.

Every life is a crazy path. But don’t ignore yours because it isn’t matching your expectations. Frankly, your expectations would be too low. Your life has greater intentions for you than that.

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.

Everyday Spirituality

Actually working to understand why ancient quotes can still be useful today is what this blog is all about. It’s not like drive-thru religion where you get a quick dose of spirituality without all the rules, and its not like traditional religion where following all the rules automatically leads to salvation regardless of the other deeds in your life–this is about those other deeds being your church. This is about you being dedicated to being human.

Reading quotes, finding one that vaguely applies to your situation and posting it on social media does not mean you’re pursuing your spirituality, it means your ego likes being seen as being spiritual. You can’t just dress the part, go to yoga and post the quotes; you have to ask yourself challenging questions. Questions like, what does the quote I posted really mean; or how can I take yoga from stretching and flexing into actual personal development?

The answer is meditation, but not the Ohmm meditation that monks do. You want to be like Siddhartha, sitting under the tree pondering why suffering exists. You want to ask yourself questions that don’t appear to have answers. You want to know how one wise guide can tell you to be peaceful by rejecting victory and loss, and yet another tells you that you can’t be balanced until you agree to lose.

The key is to understand desire. Desire requires a result. You’re after something. You have a specific outcome in mind and your life is oriented toward achieving that outcome. The problem with the outcome is that is that it’s theoretical. This is why even the slowest fifty year old is wiser than a someone in their early 20’s thinks they’ve found their answer.

You can’t have the answer because that will change as you become different people through your experiences. We tend to think we’ve found the answer when we find a route to the future that finally makes sense to us, but then we think we’re lost when our old answer doesn’t suit our new selves and we feel trapped or directionless. It’s not the answer that changed, it’s the person asking it.

It’s a constant rejuvenation process. That’s why they call it spiritual practice. But aging is like a church where you’re constantly delivered new real-life parables that need explaining. Why did that person try so hard to date you and then leave you? Why did you think this was your dream job and now you hate it? Why can’t you lose weight the way you want to? What is the definition of the word friend?

Over time we ask countless questions but we look for the answers outside of ourselves. We conclude either we are good and the ex is wrong, or we are faulty and they’re right; the dream job either has the wrong boss, or maybe you do really suck; you’re either mad at your mother for teaching you bad eating habits or you self-hate; and you conclude either that your ex friends are bad people or you conclude you’ve not been good enough. Winning and losing, winning and losing.

Even when you win, now you have to stay on top. That takes effort and you’ll be a different person sometime within the next eight or so years, so maybe that effort won’t seem wise. That’s because winning and losing are funny terms. They almost shouldn’t exist as static ideas. They only mean something in the moment you’re in.

If you listen to interviews with people over 50 years old, almost invariably you’ll hear them discuss their challenges more than their successes. They almost seem bored or uncomfortable with success because by then they’ve realised it’s largely chance. They also know that when you get there it doesn’t look like it did when you embarked on that journey.

After enough disappointing “wins” we start questioning the meaning of winning. If half of North American marriages end in divorce, then those marriages weren’t a dream come true; they devolved into a nightmare. But if you knew that at the time you wouldn’t have chosen it as your path. And yet as you age you realise that your marriage wasn’t wrong, it just didn’t work out long term. You still walk away with a better idea of what kind of person you’re really looking for in the future.

Victory and loss are tied together. If we live without the desire for a victory we cannot lose. We don’t need goals so much as targets. The getting there isn’t the point, it’s about being sanguine for as much as the journey as possible.

Victories and losses are judgments laid over top of events. Remove that static idea and the meaning of those moments can always change, meaning any defeat could become a victory, and any victory a defeat. Everything lives in potential. There’s no need to win now when we know can we live in a way that seeks value from all our interactions, even the ones we attempt to avoid.

peace. s

Friends and Enemies

952 Relax and Succeed - Appreciate your rudeYes, appreciate your rude/blunt friend for being real. And appreciate your shy self-deprecating friend for preferring to hurt themselves rather than hurt you. And appreciate your angry aggressive friend for wanting to rush to your aid. And appreciate your quiet friend for not wanting to give you the wrong advice. And appreciate your oblivious friend because they have something else to focus is on and if that’s a good thing it’s motivation for you, and if it’s something bad then it reminds you you’re not alone in your pain.

Of course you can see the blunt friend as rude, the wounded one as a self-centred victim, the angry one as negative, the quiet one as being unhelpful, and you can even be mad at the oblivious friend because their life is going so great in comparison. These choices regarding how you view people happen with everyone you meet. The ones you choose to see like the first paragraph are your friends. The ones you choose to see like this second paragraph are your enemies. That’s also why some of your friends are other people’s enemies and vice versa etc. etc.

952 Relax and Succeed - When you judge anotherPeople have names but they’re not consistent. Everyone ebbs and flows between strength and weakness, awareness and ego, peace and suffering. Nirvana is not when you reach a place where everything is always easy and beautiful, it is a place where you have attained the wisdom necessary for you to know in your heart that the world will be as you choose to see it, and in so being it always has the potential to be beautiful.

You cannot live within this beauty because beauty must have a definition and a definition cannot exist without things outside of that definition. Without ugliness you cannot have beauty. Light and dark, hot and cold, happy and sad, friend and enemy. Without not-path you cannot have a path.

Your job is not to become a spiritual person that somehow learns to float above the thorns at the side of the path and your job is not to religiously suggest it’s possible to remove all of the thorns from the entire world so there are no sharp things to step on. Your job is to walk consciously through the world within a universe of paths and thorns.

952 Relax and Succeed - We can never judge the livesYou need not panic about perfection. Some paths are just too narrow and you will definitely get scratches, there are wash-outs, thickets, bogs, and all kinds of other ways for you to wear yourself out or even get hurt. But the alternative is to sit and go nowhere and that is a fate much worse than death. To just sit would be spiritual stagnation. It would be to not live at all. There is no path or thorn that painful.

Negative views are the thorns and the positive views are the paths. Step this way with your judgments and you step on something sharp. Step that way and your path is clear. Each moment–each step–we get to reassess our direction, so you can blame the path or your shoes or the thorns, but no one’s listening. The universe has done it’s job giving you the opportunity for happiness and the free will to pursue it. From there it’s your choice where you step.

You can appreciate things or want them to be different. The choice is yours. They’re your feet. Which direction will you walk in today?

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.

Quiet Awareness

733 Relax and Succeed - Try to learn to breatheImagine that you are spiritual creature constantly in motion. You are like a magical snake that moves through the universe based on hot and cold. You recoil and move away from things that are cold and you move toward things that are warm and your journey wanders rather randomly as you cycle through the universe, being repelled and attracted.

As you can easily see, if I change the above example to being about you and I change hot and cold to things you enjoy and things you don’t enjoy, I’m describing how you are not leading your life but you are reacting to it. The world is dictating where you are going. You have things you want and things you do not want and like a robot you move through life in that binary fashion.

If the hot and the cold of it guide every move are you truly free? No, that is ego life. But you are only one small tiny step away from a conscious life. You are only one thought away from ignoring placing any kind of hot or cold value on anything and instead you can value your own direction and you can see the events along the way as just that—events without a value judgment. They are not good or bad, they simply are. I’ve quoted it many times, as Shakespeare said, nothing is good or bad only thinking makes it so.

733 Relax and Succeed - Rather than spend eons

This is not such a difficult thing to do. Simply stop telling yourself narrative stories that feature words for you or other people, and stop placing value judgments on anyone or anything. Nouns aren’t good or bad, trouble or helpful, easy or hard, so just stop those crazy illusory valuations that only exist in your personal consciousness. The quieter you get the wiser you’ll be. Because knowledge is actually a strange kind of blindfold. In the real world, nothing experiences as much as simple, open awareness.

You can do this. It’s who you were as a kid, it’s who you are when you orgasm and laugh and lose track of time. It’s also why old people feel freer than young ones, because they’ve given up trying to live by what they want and don’t-want and instead they want their life itself, and therefore accept whatever it delivers without judgment. Do that and be free. It feels remarkably light and wonderful and it really is that easy.

Go make a great day.

peace. s

Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #2

718 SFQ14 Relax and Succeed - The first 40 years

This blog got on my top 3 list for the very simple reason that several dear friends of mine in their 30’s found it profoundly informative when it came to contextualizing the challenges they were facing in life. Relationships, careers, our families—these are all things that our growing maturity views in completely new ways. Thanks to that new perspective we come to need drastically new ideas about how to live. I certainly hope many of you find it as liberating as many others have. It’s a holiday here, so I would like to close by wishing my fellow Canadians a warm and happy Canada Day! Enjoy everyone!

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

Scott’s Top
Questions of 2014 #2

peace. s

Changing Direction

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #4

A lot of people come to me in their 30’s with the simple question, what the hell is going on with my life? Needless to say it isn’t turning out the way they planned. But rather paradoxically the challenges they are facing stem directly from those plans. You must be very careful when making plans.

689 Relax and Succeed - My entire life can be describedYour life is lived in Nows. You add those together and call that your history, but it’s really just some stuff that happened. And when your life intersected with that stuff your previous life experiences caused you to react to them in the way you did. Then using your memory you take all of that unrelated stuff and you stitch all of those individual experiences together.

You’ll call that tapestry your life, but when it comes to impacting today or your future it’s about as meaningful as the contrails off a plane’s wing. That line in the sky is just what your plane did. At the moment of living your wing met the cold, wet air of the world and an event took place. That event trails off behind you as nothing more than white vapour. But it’s just vapour. Even if you’ve flown in the same direction ever since you took off, at any point a Captain can become conscious and he or she can turn their plane in any direction.

All of these directions are equal. Same with the altitudes. The Dalai Lama’s life is not better than yours because he flies in a different level of understanding. His life is just like yours otherwise—it is made up of his day to day sensations. So there is no specific way to fly across the sky. There’s just where you go. But that’s not what you’re taught.

689 Relax and Succeed - We all have bad daysYou are taught to fly to one of the airports of beauty or one of the airports of education or the airport of a happy family or an airport of fame or financial success. Everyone around you is doing it so you do too. You don’t even see it as an option. Right off the bat the Captain is confused because all of these other planes are just coming off the end of the runway and they’re all headed the same basic directions. And so without ever knowing it your Captain inadvertently surrenders his or her Captaincy and instead becomes a dutiful autopilot follower. Then you’re just doing what you were programmed to. So that’s problem one. You’re not actually setting your own direction.

The next problem is that after you set it you never question it. You just fly along to where you think you’re supposed to be going and so you interpret any storm (a job loss, a divorce, financial ruin) as a problem or something in the way of you reaching your goal. But remember: you were just accidentally convinced by the other planes. There is no goal. You can fly anywhere you like. But instead you’ll get locked onto these targets and you’ll get so angry and, so sad and so insecure about being knocked off what you perceive as your course, that you’ll end up hating the trip. That’s the part where the 30 year-olds call me.

But calling me turns out to not be the failure you might imagine. You imagine that there is something wrong with your plane and that you need to be rescued. But I don’t fly out and repair your plane in the sky. I just talk to you. I ask you where you got your map? Why are you following these directions? And you say, I’m not supposed to follow these? And I tell you, no, that’s what people use when they sell themselves to society–those are just put in there for show. That’s what mass media is. It’s like the fake photos you get when you buy picture frames. You’re just supposed to throw all that out.

689 Relax and Succeed - Regret is longingAfter you’ve called you’ll still debate against me for a few weeks. Because everyone else has also mistaken society’s maps for actual maps you won’t believe me. At least not until you realize that you cannot answer my questions about the meaning behind your previous directions. This surprises and even disturbs you, but you eventually surrender that it really is true—that those charts weren’t the way to go just a way to go and you were always free to go any direction you chose.

So the next question they ask me is, where can I go? That’s the great part. You’ll still carry a lot of momentum from your previous directions and that will influence you for a while, but slowly over time you start to realize that your airplane is 100% flexible. You can point that baby in any direction you like. But then you’ll ask me, which is my direction? And I’ll tell you that you don’t have one; that your problem was that you thought your life was the plane going from here to there on a voyage, when really it’s not about the places we’re going, it’s about the pilot and the pure joy of flying.

So you were never really going anywhere—you just fly this thing until it runs out of fuel—then you’re free to walk the tarmac and find yourself another plane. Don’t panic about the transition. Death for 80% of you means gliding to a gentle stop and just never departing again. If you’re old enough to have learned a bit, even in a dramatic accident you will calmly think to yourself, no way, this is how I go? Weird. Well: here we go. You actually won’t be focused on the plane you’re exiting. You’ll be more excited about boarding the next one.

689 Relax and Succeed - Stay positiveDo you see if you remove an objective that you were previously attached to then things can’t go wrong? Then the air pockets are just low pressure and crosswinds are just winds at an angle to you and lightning is just the weather. But it’s not your weather. And none of it can hurt you by pushing you off course anyway—not if you’re always completely willing to have your course changed. After all, there’s no shortage of great flying to do in any direction.

Understand: you can take your present moment and use it to chart your current course. But keep it current. It’s not some permanent setting. That defeats the purpose of having a whole sky. So set your course and then just focus on the flying. And when you need to change direction because of conditions or when you just want to change it out of some desire you can’t even explain, then go for it. There’s no penalty. No price. No sadness, anger or frustration unless you go think that into your life.

The weather and the winds will have you feeling various things. But if you actively choose to feel them in the moment then they just come and go like any other contrail of experience. It’s when you let them interfere with some course you’re locked onto—that’s when you’re lost. Then you have to sort them out. Then you have to solve them or find a way to get back on course. The other way you simply accept the perfection of wherever your plane it is at any given moment.

689 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is permanentWhere your plane is makes perfect sense. If you added up the uncontrollable forces like the weather and add them to the choices made by you the pilot, we could literally plot a course right to you. That airflow over that rudder in this weather would lead you here. Wherever you are at any given moment always makes perfect sense and yet you always have the ability to change direction.

Your life isn’t falling apart because you’re breaking up or because you got pregnant or didn’t get into university. Those are just the weather and/or your course changing your direction. Don’t sit in the cockpit yelling at the instruments. Get focused on flying. Be quiet and use your thoughts to guide your plane, choice by choice. Better times are always easiest to find when the sky is the darkest. That’s when the light’s the brightest. Just head toward that. Seriously.

You stop failing when you realize there is no failure in life. There is only living and your judgments before and after the fact. But those are history and imagination. Your real life is right here, right now, where the air meets the wing. And that does not happen in any time other than the present. So Be present. Forget striving. Forget destinations. Stop looking at your charts. You’re right where you need to be. There’s nowhere you need to go other than to realize it’s always been you in the cockpit.

Happy flying. 😉

peace. s

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