Psychological Storms

If we want a healthier society each individual must develop an understanding that responsibility is empowerment. Rather than blaming other people or our parents or the past or one of life’s many supposed “disorders,” we must recognise that reality is an internal subjective experience not an external objective one. Things aren’t happening to you, you are happening to them.

This isn’t to say there isn’t real pain in the world; of course there is. But people would be fine with pain if they didn’t have all of the suffering. Accepting pain requires that we experience the relevant pain from a place of understanding of how the universe works. And by understanding how the universe works we thereby avoid unnecessary suffering as a choice.

Physical pain can be seen as “real” (although even that deserves its own discussion), and even some psychological pain is natural. That happens when we experience what ends up being known as post-traumatic stress; meaning you have brain wiring that isn’t helpful to a new situation you’re left in. This would include things like the death of a parent, the loss of a limb or key ability, or even a sudden or drastic shift in your living circumstances due to disaster, war or even divorce or immigration to a foreign culture. That’s a lot of brain parts now having to deal with a lot of new things all at the same time. That taxes our brain and that’s what gets called painful stress.

1014-relax-and-succeed-when-there-is-no-enemy-withinLater you can be in the new circumstances, but now that your brain has caught up you’re less stressed and less in pain–which is when the suffering can start. This is when you know how things work but you don’t like it. Meaning; you don’t approve of the universe. But the universe is the universe and you are you, so your approval is tiny against that force. You cannot direct it, you can only flow with it or push against it. Resistant thoughts generate suffering.

Your psychological resistance comes in various forms. You take some aspect of the universe and you create stress and pressure by leaning your psychology up against reality. These actions are known by names like: complaints; worry; anger; jealousy; envy; resentment; and yes, even disorders and depression. These are all forms of resistance and that is why they’re painful.

Sometimes we resist nature, like when we have complaints about the weather or time or other people’s behaviour. Just because there was a forecast or a plan or a definition of right and wrong doesn’t mean that’s how the world will go, it’s just a loose agreement on a theoretical future. Any resistance to it not happening the way we expected will generate suffering for the person doing the resisting.

1014-relax-and-succeed-if-you-imagine-a-worst-case-scenarioIn a jealous couple one party is resisting the freedom their partner invariably has, while the other is resisting their own freedom. One person thinks about their lack of control of the universe, leading the other to then think of their resulting lack of control of themselves. Someone who complains a lot will have a lot of expectations. They’ll have an invisible personal script for the world and they’ll be upset any time others–or even nature–won’t read or act off of that scripted idea. So then it doesn’t rain, it rains on your wedding.

People who envy use their thoughts to wish they had things they don’t, or to wish others who have them, didn’t. People trapped in grief refuse to accept their new circumstances and so they wander around endlessly within a world of suffering narratives built from their hopes or wishes. S.A.D. people want summer instead of winter so they convert that into thoughts about hating winter and then they blame the weather outside their head for the self-imposed weather inside their head.

People who want the world and themselves to be very different than they are will think so long and so hard about so many things they want to be different that the’ll end up in a horrible pit of depression. Meanwhile their capable self will still be there waiting to live rather than think.

1014-relax-and-succeed-do-not-use-your-imaginationWe all cling to our excuses to live small. The world can feel like a vast ocean we’re sure to drown in if we let go of whatever tiny ego-preserver we’re clinging to as we bob up and down. But we must remember, we’re not foreign to the universe. We are a part of it. So rather than being like a land-based human struggling on the surface of a deep dark sea, remember your origins; your home and your nature began in the water. Rather than resisting it and clinging to its egotistical surface, you can remember that your soul never loses the ability to swim gracefully in its depths.

From the air the water can look really scary and mysterious and foreboding. It can appear it’s too much to handle. There’s horizons when you’re on the surface and they can seem like they’re a long ways away. But if you stop all of the surface thoughts and instead just let the world go quiet as you dunk your head into reality, you’ll see the horizons disappear and they convert instead into a never-ending, always-changing ocean of three-dimensional opportunity that’s in front of you no matter which direction you go.

Rather than being trapped on one plane of reality (yours), swim in all of reality and you will suddenly be free. On the surface storms may still rage, but beneath all of that you will feel them more as gentle undulations, because from a deeper perspective all of that windy, rainy, and even thunderous thinking doesn’t really have all that much to do with you.

peace. s

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

The Ultimate Observer

999-relax-and-succeed-the-no-mind-not-thinksWho do you want to be? No one. Why? Because then you’re everyone. If you understood everyone’s perspective then there would be no issue or behaviour that would confuse you. The world would make sense, but you want to do that as an ego by learning lots of the words and ideas. What would really take you where you want to go is if you stopped trying to learn the contents of other people’s thoughts and you focused instead on the act of thinking itself.

You have to remember, you start off prepared to believe anything. It’s not like your brain is dark and you light it with education. You’re born with your whole brain lit up. You then have experiences that, if discussed with too many words, can become differences that evolve into the separateness you dislike so much. Those become the dark parts of your mind.

Any experience you call personal shut off parts of your brain just as soon as there’s an individual you to believe in something. That separates you from the unimpaired connection and understanding you displayed as a kid when you volunteered to take on the very complex and difficult tasks like learning to walk and talk and socialise. The ideas we come to learn only live within our consciousness as beliefs but they limit us nevertheless.

999-relax-and-succeed-to-know-and-to-actSome kids can go to a horror and love it. They can be scared as themselves and yet still remember they are simultaneously a movie-goer. So the experiences they’re having in the theatre are real, but they are also understood in a way where they are not damaging. The kid who forgets they’re in a movie and thinks Jaws might attack him in bed at night has lost that separation and therefore feels fear when it is clearly not needed–much like your ego does.

The Ultimate Observer would have no distortions in their view. No dark spots blocked out by experience. No raindrops on the side mirror of their car. No rose-colour on their glasses. Any impediment to an enlightened view will create a kind of blindness that influences our behaviour. We’ll start to worry, or be angry or disappointed or hurt. This is what it is to be an ego: you can be things like fearful or angry or heartbroken. The Ultimate Observer would be aware of those things but there would be no personal feelings. Things would simply be.

This is why empathy is so closely related to health. To be empathetic is to assume someone else’s perspective. You actually take that on yourself and in doing so you expand who and what you are. You become larger. You clean the observer’s lens. You remove an impediment to your world view. You remove a limitation. You see more.

999-relax-and-succeed-do-not-seek-the-truthEven if you’re an atheist, do a thought exercise and imagine that there is a God. Imagine this God is a single clear and reflective sphere. Light beams from within it, and yet at the same time it’s mirrored surface means it reflects the universe back to itself. Now imagine this sphere sprouting mirrored tentacles. Can you see that each of these tentacles is a consciousness? A perspective? That one of them is you?

What is reflected back to that tentacle isn’t the world, it’s just a small part of the world. The place you live, the languages you speak, the people you know, the ideas you’re aware of etc. etc. By losing our differences and fostering our connections we can merge these tentacles to the point where we can regain our sense of belonging to that central sphere. There is great peace in that knowing.

Clear your lens. Remove your opinions. See through your beliefs. You cannot see all, but you can know that all can be seen. Relax. Surrender. You cannot ever know the God-view in its entirety, but you can fully live your aspect of the God-life by keeping your lens as clear as possible and your mind as open as possible, and that’s important because in the end the light that travels through our lenses is love.

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 Positive Life

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #6

896 Relax and Succeed - Good things are comingWith no blogs on Thursdays, that means this is your final mediation as a part of the March Kindness Challenge. You’ve been kind through small actions like politeness and through big things like apologies. Now it’s time to try the hard stuff: being kind to yourself.

You have some habits. They have become so ingrained in you that you almost see those habits as who you are. You unconsciously engage with them every day in much the same ways. So today we’re going to take the major element from the negative side and we’re going to switch it out for something positive.

Today you stay conscious and you find that one thing. You know the one I mean. That thing you think often. That discussion you have in your head every day. Maybe it’s about your weight. Maybe it’s about your ex. Maybe it’s about your mother, father, sister, brother or boss. Maybe you worry. Maybe it’s some insult that was hurled at you in your youth and you’ve never shaken it. Maybe you have to forgive yourself.

896 Relax and Succeed - Amazing peopleThere is some chunk of thinking you regularly do that is about that particular subject. It’s a daily recording about how useless you feel; how ugly, how lost, how incapable, how tired, how sick or how meaningless. Maybe you were adopted and you wonder about your birth mother, or maybe someone hurt you badly and you have a speech you want to give them, or maybe you just look in the mirror and literally hate yourself. Find that thing. Know it.

Look at the time. Within two hours of reading this you want to have figured out what that narrative is. It really shouldn’t be hard. Now: it is critical to remember that your opinions about the truth behind your narrative are meaningless. You can weigh more than you feel is right for you and yet still surrender your thoughts about being overweight. You can have the weight without the thinking. Same with all of the other potential issues. It doesn’t matter if this narrative is true, it only matters if its negative. Negative goes.

Okay, so here we reach acceptance. Acceptance can be tricky for people because it’s a spiritual act not an intellectual one. If you intellectually know you’re overweight then you’ll feel as though you’re justified in your narratives–wrong! Narrative are always ego, no matter what they are about. The problem is not actually the weight, it’s the self-talk. That’s what’s keeping you down.

896 Relax and Succeed - Speak only when your wordsSo you take a couple hours to find this thing and then you commit to replacing that thought with a positive one. I’d prefer it was about you but if that feels difficult you can make it about the world in general. But you need an actual swap. Then you start to keep your consciousness on guard for that class of narratives. And no matter how justified they seem, you simply switch to your positive one.

If you used to say you’re fat, learn to switch that as a habit with something good and then just think about that. Say you think this for about an hour of every day at a low level of consciousness. Because it’s a hot area for you, you end up with a route through your thinking that always includes your weakness, so if anything does go “wrong” you can easily pin it on yourself (unless your fault is blaming others).

If you switch that out to something positive then you are recovering at least an hour a day and you’re turning it from negativity to positivity. What you were negative about and what you’re positive about are irrelevant–you’ll be switching negativity for positivity so there is no chance you lose.

896 Relax and Succeed - No matter who you wereDon’t give yourself trouble when you screw up and think the old thought. I don’t care if you catch yourself an hour or two into it; just stop it when you do notice it and switch it to the positive thought. What we want to get good at here is the switching even more than the positivity. That’s a skill unto itself. So when you notice it isn’t important it’s that you noticed it.

Over time you’ll develop a real vigilance for this thought. Your vigilance will become the habit instead. You’ll be aware and alert and ready to respond with a healthy mindset. People are amazing but they’re always telling themselves they’re not. It’s a ridiculous exercise that undermines our progress as people on this Earth. There is no value in criticism there is only value in choosing something better.

It’s time to choose something better for yourself. It’s time you once and for all began the process to end that thought. Otherwise people have these for their entire lives. There is no upside in that. It’s like beating yourself throughout your life. Stop. It’s okay. You’re still far more good and worthwhile and meaningful than you could ever imagine. So there’s no need to veil yourself in negative thoughts about yourself. It’s time to come out. It’s time to enjoy a rewarding life. Start today.

peace. s

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

Internal Interventions

You have done the meditations and you’ve started to learn the act of switching emotions, the patience to decide if the emotion should be changed or experienced, and then you’ve gotten to know how your emotions impact your physical self so that you have clear indications of when you’re happy and when you’re otherwise.

872 Relax and Succeed - Dear uncertaintyWe’ve talked about using your posture, a smile, a tone of voice, a manner of walking–that would all incite activity in the parts of your brain where you’re better wired up for happiness. This is like when they teach little kids to have a happy place. As we’ve discussed, you can have some go-to thoughts that you like, but don’t go adding to your negative narrative if you miss the opportunity to take those reigns.

You have to learn several things: a general awareness of yourself, an emerging understanding of how your psychological self emerges within your physical being, and the possibility and wisdom of making those changes. Changes that may have been otherwise seen as needing external intervention rather than internal intervention.

It is still perfectly useful to you to become aware of an emotion in this way and not do anything about it. If you’re initially upset you didn’t escape your unnecessary bad feelings then that means you have fully accepted that you can change them–you just haven’t refined your switching or your acceptance. Just your awareness is a bigger part of this than you realize.

Yes, the change feels really nice pretty much immediately, but even when you make it you’ll be on tilted ground. If anyone did anything that you felt exacerbated your issue, your recovery might well slide backwards immediately. That’s fine too. I want you to come to know this landscape. To slow it all down so you can see it more naturally. This is where you really live.

872 Relax and Succeed - Those who don'tAs you study yourself your knowledge grows and you will find yourself intervening–sometimes in surprising ways. These weren’t things you calculated with brain knowledge, but more the things you know through a more immediate wisdom. It knows what to do in a profound way, but it does need access to the steering wheel. If your ego is busy trying to steer around pain then it can hog the wheel all the way until you fall asleep. And in the end it won’t avoid any pain, but all that useless weaving will create a lot of suffering.

See the “emotional you” as someone who is very simply addicted to the chemistry for their Dominant Negative Emotion. It’s why people with an abusive parent will date abusive people, or even why people will frighten themselves intentionally etc. Everyone’s hunger for each chemical varies, but our Dominant Negative Emotion is one worth doing an intervention with.

By changing or even muting that emotion some percentage of the time you will instill in yourself this capability. Over time it will become so ordinary and everyday that instead someone will describe your ability as your personality. You’ll be referred to as extremely patient, or extraordinarily compassionate or forgiving, and that will feel good. But again, this isn’t about you looking good to others, it’s about you being authentic.

872 Relax and Succeed - If you want to liveIf you’re truly free then you won’t be as willing to bow to counter-productive social norms. Others might see you as difficult or arrogant, but really what’s happening inside is that you’re focusing on the things that matter. Yes, the wrapping paper says something. But that’s messaging. The contents are what ultimately count. It’s fine to wrap something up beautifully. But only if it isn’t to disguise the fact that it’s not really what it purports to be. People’s wisdom will eventually figure that out.

See your ego as more separate today. See it as a literal other person. Enhance that distance. It will help you see that your ego is your shadow. You can’t do things by changing the shape of your shadow–that’s all just spinning in place. You must alter what is happening within yourself. Therefore you will behave in a different way and thereby cast a different shadow. (The only question will be, what will you do when a healthy state for you gives you a shadow you’ve historically avoided..?) 😉

Spend today and tomorrow focused on body awareness and listening to your ego as a separate entity. Catch yourself a few times doing each and you’ll have done well. I know some of you have post-it notes to remind you at your desks, so if you’re serious about doing these meditations you will already have advanced your awareness considerably. You deserve to feel very good about that. Now go create a great day.

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.

Body Language

871 Relax and Succeed - I will attract into my lifeSome of you have taken up the meditations and really given them some consideration during your day and already you’re subtly feeling the effects. Now let’s use your increased awareness of what you want to move toward and away from, and now we can develop a way for you to steer yourself using every tool available.

Your mind stores ideas of you and the world in much, much more complex ways than you currently imagine. It’s why we walk and age like our parents and we can always ride a bike. We might have to find the part of us where the bike is, but when we do we’ll have a lot of it back at once. Well, we want to make happiness like bike riding.

Why does the bike riding work? Muscle “memory,” although all of you is smart. Your mind is your experience of it all–but your being does know how to ride in a way that’s difficult for you to comprehend. But because happiness doesn’t require your balance and because falling off is less immediately painful, people don’t store happiness with the same detail that they store bike riding. So let’s change that.

871 Relax and Succeed - Be an optimist primeFor the next few days just monitor your mood and your being. Notice signs of you being low or signs of you being up or signs of you being angry etc. etc. Maybe it’s how you talk, maybe it’s how your breathe or stand. Maybe you walk differently or keep your eyes fixed somewhere differently. For instance, if I start to feel hurried my hand will curl into the position it was in immediate after my accident. That will lead me to stand up and shake out the tension, do my breathing exercise and then settle back into work in a different frame of mind.

Know signs that you’re in a state of mind you enjoy and don’t enjoy. Then (unless you’re learning something valuable), you can just use your “memory” of what your body moves like when it feels good and you can literally steer it away from feeling bad. Your thoughts and resulting brain chemistry will trigger a smile but a smile will also need a bit of brain chemistry. It’s like boosting your car or fiddling with a radio dial. Make yourself an antenna for nice feelings.

Don’t think this is hard because you already do this. Maybe it was an important work day and you were sick but you bucked up and went–the act of “bucking up” was the conscious switch. Likewise when someone can tough it through a bad cold for a day out in the snow with friends, whereas a day of work would tilt them towards resting. You do this all the time. Start doing it on purpose, not just when your family patterns and habits would suggest it.

871 Relax and Succeed - It's not hardIf you’re focused on learning about yourself you’ll have less attention to pay to others. That’s good because as we discussed yesterday, their opinions are varied, fleeting and meaningless in almost every single case. Better that you’re focused on your own life. You’re amazing. Get to know you and you’ll realize you have all kinds of ways to influence yourself.

Get conscious. Less thinking about others and yourself and more just watching and noticing. You don’t have to search or make efforts to change. Just observe. Trust me, if you’re mindfully observing you won’t need any help in noticing useful things. Then when you catch yourself demonstrating low behaviour you can decide to switch to something nicer whenever you’re ready. Just adopt the physical signals that your body recognizes as happiness and shift your thoughts to the nicest things available. The rest your body will know how to do by nature. It really is that easy. Enjoy.

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.

Other Perspectives #74

If you don’t read this blog carefully you might think I would unequivocally support this statement. It seems to fit with a lot of what I talk about: Your thoughts are powerful, you feel what you think, so be conscious of what you think. But experiences do not bother you when you feel you have chosen them. So feel that way about the whole of your life. Yes, understand how powerful negative thinking can be and do not do it for its own sake. But without not-path there can be no path. So to have things you prefer you must also accept that there must be things you don’t prefer and that the only way you know one from the other is by experiencing them. Negative thoughts aren’t worse than positive thoughts. They just feel different. If you don’t find a feeling to be rewarding in this moment you can always change it in the next. The important thing isn’t whether you chose positive versus negative, it’s that you stayed aware of your ability to choose between them.

peace. s

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