Close Your Identity and Open Your Consciousness

1234 Relax and Succeed - I'm drowning in a sea

People tend to suffer because they believe in a fixed identity. They believe deep down they are someone–the person they imagine–and they try to tune themselves to that internal ideal. Other people will certainly disagree as to our assessments of ourselves just as we would disagree with their assessments of themselves. We often disapprove of ourselves too, because most of us are about as hard on ourselves as we are on our enemies.

Seeing one’s developing self as an enemy that must be destroyed is largely why people are in so much pain. How can any of us enjoy the experience of our life if our experience takes place in our consciousness, and our consciousness is occupied with attacking our illusory, thought-based selves? It’s like our consciousness’s internal puppet show where one hand is hero, the ideal us; while the other hand is the villain, constantly and painfully measuring the distance between our ideal and our pathetic self.

It is possible to have an ideal for a target and yet not live a life of internally disappointed measurement. Rather than destroying ourselves we must kill that idea of measurement. It’s not part of the natural world so it cannot survive without our attention.

1233 Relax and Succeed - If you're using your thoughtsOnce we ignore our own thinking long enough we start to feel how ephemeral and meaningless thoughts are relative to action. Once we have that, we develop a better sense of time, where we realise we cannot possibly change things from the past, and so thinking about painful mistakes in the present makes little sense. If the thought stings then the experience has done its job and we have learned. We don’t need to add beating ourselves up with our word-based thoughts. By feeling badly we’ve proven that’s not the direction we’re naturally inclined to go.

We must also recognize that our thoughts are not our own, they were cultivated by our society. We’re encouraged to think certain things about ourselves and discouraged about thinking other things. Our entire egocentric life is made of those silent rules. It’s why you feel self-conscious when there’s a stain in your shirt even though everyone’s spilled food on themselves in their lifetime. The problem really isn’t you, it’s that culture of measurement; of judgment.

This can really impact us when issues become particularly emotional. Because we will all self-reinforce our identities; the more time we spend with people who share a set of beliefs that we share, the more certain and extreme those beliefs will become in the absence of respected disagreement. Most of the major problems now seen around the world are linked to this idea.

1233 Relax and Succeed - Commander Locke to Morpheus

While most of the world is pretty flexible and could live happily under many different systems in many different societies, some feel more threatened and are therefore more defensive, and that leads to anger. This effect can be see from ISIS to the Westboro Baptist Church to the KKK to the do-gooder mobs that destroy the lives of people who make big or small mistakes that violate–or appear to have violated–the social ideal; like the attacks on celebrities, or those on people over their food choices, or even through well-intentioned political correctness.

Let’s take a half hour of our lunch today and review our own lives. How many different points of view do we listen to? Are we in a feedback loop, where our microphone is too close to our speaker? Are the opinions that form our world just loops of ideas that go out of our microphone to be amplified by those who already agree with our ideas? Because that just makes us shout even louder into our microphone and the whole thing just gets louder and louder until it’s a frenzy. Those get built one person at a time, they can only be taken apart by each individual becoming conscious of their previously unconscious involvement.

If all of our friends live like us, share a lot of our beliefs and perspectives, and rarely disagree with our views, it’s almost certain we live in an ego feedback loop that will generate lots of suffering for each member because we will begin to mistake each other for the world itself. Conversely, healthy people are attracted to new ideas that challenge how they see the world. It’s a sign of the confidence they have in their true self. They remain open to the idea that they are big enough to be able to flex toward any idea that makes good sense to their being, because they rightfully see themselves as worthwhile aspects of the universe.

Let get out of our bubbles. Expand our minds. Any fear is a trick. It’s only misinterpreted excitement. We should go lovingly toward what challenges us. Especially including the people we assume we disagree with, because even if we don’t ever become friends with them, we will have both have learned more about both finding and making valuable friends.

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.

Peace Through Understanding

1083-relax-and-succeed-the-truth-is-you-cant-try-to-let-goFor the sake of your symbiotic relationship with society it is good to cultivate a personal sense of peace. This why the people we struggle with the most are the ones that are also the most valuable in the development of our spiritual and psychological resilience.

In yesterday’s meditation we identified what you had gained thanks to your spiritual enemy. You think about this person too often, they anger you too quickly, and you just feel like you would be a much happier, better person if they didn’t act this or that certain way! Breathe.

You cannot be found until you’re lost. You’re born without ego, you learn how to ego from other egos and then you try to get your way back out of your ego-suit. That’s pretty much what life is. Your ego is like this tight, restrictive piece of clothing that won’t allow you to bend or lean or fold any part of your body without your ego pinching you painfully.  Stuff like; Way to go, skip the gym again, never lose this weight, never get a date, or whatever yours says to pinch you.

1083-relax-and-succeed-let-no-man-pull-you-low-enoughAs we know, your Temari ball was built around whatever the insult it was that dug in and stuck. You heard all kinds of things your entire life, some good some bad. This is one you decided to prove wrong. Can you see what you did?

When you’re young you’re the child of your parents. You have your own personality but you don’t really have an identity that doesn’t relate to a pretty fixed set of people; your family, the kids at school. But then in your tweens you need your own identity. You have to be someone. And as I’ve discussed in this blog many times before, kids usually start with the opposite of the parent because they’re not even sure what else there is to be.

This is where you make a choice about life again. Imagine that before birth you were something more akin to a verb than a noun, and that you chose your childhood. Now imagine that this is the same moment where your soul chooses your first mask of adulthood. This is the first character you pick up to play that seems to match what your untested beliefs are.

1083-relax-and-succeed-experience-that-most-brutal-of-teachersMaybe you chose Party Girl, or Fashion Guy, or Thrift Mart Artist, or Super-Serious Athlete, Eclectic Musician, or Political Junky, or Comic Nerd or even Yoga Vegan. There’s nothing wrong with those other than your inflexibility. You’ll invest a lot in your identity and so if someone asks you to step out of it for any reason it can feel uncomfortable. You’ll argue with them. You’ll feel resistance.

After you pick the first adult identity you end up choosing a second one anyone anyway, and it’s often a ricochet off of your first identity and your disillusionment with aspects of it. The sooner you get intentional about creating peace rather than just reacting to unrest, the sooner you get back to the pleasant state of mind you enjoyed as a kid.

Over the next three days your meditation is to stay vigilant, watching your internal narratives for any references directly to, or that somehow relate to, your villain and how they make you feel. The idea is that each time you think of them, you replace that narrative with what you figured out yesterday.

1083-relax-and-succeed-if-it-comes-let-itIf your ex drives you crazy but your kids are your joy, then when you think of the ex start remembering that without them you don’t have the children. Really poke holes in the person that doesn’t accept your ex, because that’s your ego. It hurts you.

The truth is that great things came from this other human, so that person is obviously super valuable. The problem is, that’s not what you look for when you deal with them. You start listing how they’re difficult. This is about acceptance.

You can tell the angry story or you can remember they’re connected to life and beauty and love. That choice is yours and your life is made of a big long line of those choices. Those are the experiences of your lifetime. As often as possible, make them consciously.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. All the best with your meditations. These ones are big.

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.

Schadenfreude

965 Relax and Succeed - Envy blowing out the other person's candleSome people calling it dissing, others will say they’re cutting someone down to size and for some it’s just plain open negative gossip, but schadenfreude (and in a way, “glückschmerz“) has never been more popular. It seems most of modern politics is pure schadenfreude. If you actually listen for it during your day you’ll not only hear it all over the place, you’ll also likely hear it coming from you.

If you feel competitive with a person or group that will be because you perceive that you share a goal and you feel only one of you can achieve that goal. Gazelles will either escape and live or the lion will eat and live but both are running after life. But there will be no feelings of schadenfreude for the gazelle and lion. If we’re in a healthy state of mind, a motivation to achieve doesn’t equate to a story about being happy that another person or group has lost.

It’s only through “higher thought” that people are now using words to construct this unhealthy pleasure for themselves even when they have caught no gazelle. All they need now is a story about another lion not getting a gazelle. There are now people who completely forgo feeding their own souls in order to invest their lives in trying to steal or poison other people’s achievements.

965 Relax and Succeed - In the practice of toleranceIt’s comforting to think of these people as the horrible dark-minded haters that are doomed to lives of blind on-line trolling, but we don’t get healthier by pointing fingers we get healthier by functioning differently. So rather than think of all of the places you’ve witnessed schadenfreude try thinking of the times you’ve executed it.

Who do you feel competitive with? A person? A company? A nation? A religion? A political party? How does that influence where you go, what you do, what you want, what you say, what you wear and who you act like? Because even if you win every one of those little competitions they will still have been dictated by the other person and your lowest nature.

Freedom is not when we are living a life of reaction it’s when we live a life of action. The great sculptor does not set out to create the greatest sculpture ever, they are instead fully invested in their relationship with the material and the result then flows through them in unimpeded brilliance. Even then, the true artist has little interest in admiring what’s done. Completion is what creates the opportunity for further creativity, not a platform for comparison.

965 Relax and Succeed - Winning is the illusoryAnalysis, comparison and judgment are all required for schadenfreude. These are all egocentric functions. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy that someone got dumped or sad that someone else found love, if you’re invested in negativity then that is what you’re living, experiencing and putting into the world. You could be creating something wonderful but instead you are creating negativity. You aren’t being positive by being negative about something you see as negative.

It’s easy with some harsh analysis, comparisons and judgments to create others so different that we can abide by and even cheer for their suffering. But these judgments are only layers of thought. There is no real separation. We really are all in this together. Yes, we will clash sometimes by nature, just as the ocean crashes at the shore. But that crashing is not accompanied by a story of conquest and defeat and nor should our lives.

Forget about what you think about others and focus on living your life instead. If you leave all of those agonised judgments behind you’ll be surprised by how many rewarding experiences you can have.

Go be forgiving. Go create a great day for you to live inside. It’s far more in your control than you realise.

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.