Appreciating Contrast

1104-relax-and-succeed-the-bad-newsWhat is a day made of? Because it’s a lot more than 24 hours. If it’s your last day of your vacation it can rocket by, and yet if you’re waiting for an ambulance with a loved one, minutes can feel like hours. Time is pretty flexible within our consciousness.

The two examples of above demonstrate that time is dictated by experience. Experiences we don’t want feel long and experiences we do want slip by quickly. So days are made of  your desire for, or resistance to, experiences. Since want is a habit of ego we’re better not to have any expectations, but obviously there are some experiences that are easier to feel better about than others.

Watching a gut-wrenching film can be painful, but it can also bring us closer to people in the long run. On the other hand, as soon as we see an old friend for the first time in a long time we feel fantastic. Of course, neither would feel like anything unless each had the other to contrast itself against. This is the nature of oneness–the yin and yang of being.

1104-relax-and-succeed-i-must-also-have-a-dark-sideAs you’ve heard me say before, this means there is not good things or bad things, but rather things you enjoy and things that help you appreciate enjoyment. So walking normally has no value unless you’ve been unable to do so for some time. Time with loved ones becomes more precious after the loss of a loved one, etc.

Both things are required for existence, but one’s very easy for you and the other creates value, but you wont read this blog to figure out how to enjoy nice things; you’ll spend most of the year reading this blog trying to figure out how to see the value in the more difficult experiences.

If both are necessary, why is one easy and the other more difficult: because one you’ve dreamed of, and the other was either unconsidered or it was a nightmare. One felt in alignment with who you believe you are and the other feels out of alignment with that. To become our greatest selves, we must expand to the point of still feeling in alignment even when we’re experiencing things we do not naturally enjoy.

Your physical reactions to the chemistry you feel as your emotions are your experiences. What chemistry you get depends a lot on how your spirit approaches those variances. You see some people bothered a great deal by relatively small things, and yet you see others who can stay calm during remarkably tempestuous periods. One of these people would be lost in ego, and the other will have developed spiritual awareness.

1104-relax-and-succeed-we-could-never-learnToday’s meditation focuses on recognising this difference. Your job today is easy. Find three examples in your life that demonstrate this difference but using the same events. That is to say, find one experience that you did like that you no longer do, and then find two that you disliked that now you’re grateful for. And once you’ve defined what they are, really spend some actual time revisiting how you felt at the time in each of them. Directly contrast those two different feelings about the same event.

Remember those good feelings, and remember when you applied new thoughts to them and they evolved into things you’d consider negative. And then think about those painful or difficult things, and then really spend time considering that those same events now feel genuinely valuable. That’s it. It’s an easy one but again, these add up. If you’ve done these every week, you will have expanded yourself.

Meditate on past experience. Recognise the changeability of events, and witness your consciousness making that flex. That isn’t the world, that’s you. Own that difference. Find it, and learn enough about it that you truly start to get an understanding that the difference between then and now is simply your approach to whatever it is. Because that is your great power in this universe, but you cannot flex it until you can better understand it, so use today to increase your understanding. And don’t forget to enjoy your day while you do it.

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.

Accounting For Taste

1094-relax-and-succeed-nothing-happens-just-because-we-are-awarePart of why people think too much is that they’re too idle. You can be, or think about being, but you can’t do both. Whereas healthy people invest themselves in the actions, others use more thinking to try to stop their thinking but, you don’t stop thinking; you replace it with activity. The activity of being alive.

The problem is that most people don’t even know what life activity even looks like. Even the idea of basic listening, or patience, or openness is too-often seen as unproductive; as though all of the value is in how much someone does, not how well they do it. But if we’re only doing then that means those tasks are for other people, but even if they’re for other people we should still be alive while we do them.

You can repeat an action and still be alive while doing it. You can still do something generous and do it for you. But to do so you must slow down your thinking and deepen your focus. Once you do this, you’ll see the world slow down and it will make more sense because you will be taking in more information.

1094-relax-and-succeed-life-is-a-seriesA good way to do this is through your senses. We’ll start today with your sense of taste. You’ll have to stay aware to remember to do it when you eat or drink, but otherwise your job in today’s meditation is wonderfully simple: simply taste anything you consume.

Seems weird doesn’t it? Lots of people can think, I already taste everything I eat, but that’s actually pretty unlikely. Most people are so busy using their mind to create internal dramas that they rarely just focus on the taste experience.

This meditation is two-fold in that it helps you maintain a level of awareness throughout the day so that you can catch yourself eating or drinking, and then once that experience starts you can work on adjusting your focus down to that one sense. The idea is that your brain is doing nothing but tasting the food. No commenting, no desires, no words, just taste whatever it is and be fully aware of all aspects of that flavour.

1094-relax-and-succeed-rather-than-being-your-thoughtsIt seems easy but it does require a constant low-level awareness on what you’re doing so that you’ll be more alert. But the real gold is if you can really find yourself noticing a substantial difference in eating or drinking. It shouldn’t feel like fuel even if it is. It’s not just something you do on the way to something else, it’s literally an action that keeps you alive. Invest more in it. Besides, a lot of the food you eat is presumably really good.

Pay attention to everything you eat or drink until bedtime. Tomorrow, either make a mental note in the morning of the day-before’s favourite taste experience, or share your top moments of awareness with your meditation partner. It’s a nice meditation to do. You not only gain in awareness, but it makes lunch taste a lot better. 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.

Gradual Growth

1073-relax-and-succeed-we-can-live-without-religionIsn’t it strange learning something in a non-linear way? I have to do it that way because I’m showing you something that you can’t understand by processing it in the usual way. In fact, that usual way is what causes you all the trouble, so I have to work around it by doing things your logical mind can’t fully understand.

Today’s meditation involves the reason you’ll feel like you have problems and how it often connects to your ideas about time. The brain is decent at storing things, but it’s best dealing with now because in reality that’s the only place you can ever really be or act to change your life. It makes sense that if you have something you want to solve, you need to deal with it around the time that you perceive the problem.

Our focus today is, was that really a problem? Or was it simply a lack of understanding? What is a problem?

Problems are things that we think might cut us off from others. Connection is natural and anything that threatens that is something to be dealt with. So if someone’s mad at you, what does that imply? Your problem is their anger and so you want to explain so you can fix it. Or maybe their problem is that they feel you betrayed them and you want them to understand. Or maybe they want something different than you so you have to explain how they should want what you want.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-practice-of-forgivenessThink back to three people you’ve been upset with in your lifetime; three people who you now have forgiven despite the fact that they never apologised or maybe even changed. Some little things are fine, but include at least one big thing. Ask yourself what changed between when you were mad and when you let it go? Did they change or did you?

If you look closely, your forgiveness would have come easily once your understanding and empathy increased. Once you either understood the world or yourself better you adjusted your judgments. This is no small thing. This means you can change others by changing yourself.

People are not fixed points in a fixed universe. They look different from every angle, like Earth might from different directions in space. Look at it one way and it’s the Pacific, another and it’s the Himalayas. How you saw others would be like aliens looking at the Himalayas and concluding that the entire planet was a mountain range that reached up over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). But you need a broader, more well-rounded perspective before you can really say you have even a basic understanding of Earth. The same goes for people.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-future-is-something-which-everyone-reachesFind your examples. Note your forgiveness and see that it was acceptance. Note how they didn’t change, you did. A change in your perspective changed who they are to you because there is no truth. There is no hallowed ground to stand on. Everything is a perspective. This is about abandoning the desire for certainty to live in the reality of mystery. You think you don’t like mystery, but over time I will prove to you that you really do.

What I do is weird, I know. But if you read the testimonials on my website or talk to people who’ve worked closely with me, they’ll all tell you that they too were lost before they were found. This isn’t linear knowledge, it’s more a congealing of truth. It’s harder to measure, but it’s happening.

Despite the fact that it’s difficult to perceive for you right now, I can guarantee that doing these exercises this week actually changed who you are. Over time those will add up and one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll suddenly realise that you’re a different person. And much like understanding others from the distance of time, that’s when you’ll understand what I’m doing now. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on making changes and have a great weekend.

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.

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.

1D

People’s egos will read this quote by the Buddha and they will primarily imagine themselves in the role of the fool who probably already has their answers but they’re just too dumb to be able to see them. Fine, if you’re living with more ego than you want then the last part does define you, therefore it’s irrelevant to getting you where you’re going. That means it’s the first part of the statement you should be focusing on. There’s your lesson from the Buddha.

“Does the spoon taste the soup?” Where does experience happen and to whom? A body can be said to have senses but when you’re anaesthetised at the hospital they put your brain to sleep because that’s where we imagine the dance of experience takes place. The anaesthesia interrupts your thoughts and without those there is no you to have an experience. The idea of you only emerges through the duality of the body and mind, but if these are made One there is no source and no delivery. The act of acceptance isn’t to be yourself and accept or reject some other thing, it’s to lose your sense of self and become One with the experience, making the question largely irrelevant from the new perspective.

996-relax-and-succeed-if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forestThe famous philosophical question about a tree falling in a forest is also a question about duality. It doesn’t have an answer in the classical sense, instead there is an understanding  that manages to flatten the riddle by taking a 1D view over a 2D question.

It might be easier at first to imagine the tree falling and sound waves departing its location and then they strike an eardrum. You can see how sound is dependent on a duality? It is a wave until it strikes a receiver that can turn it into a “particle” of sound. But what if “you” were there but you weren’t using thought to separate yourself from reality? Can you see there could still be the experience within a state of oneness but there would be no separate parts? There wouldn’t be things happening there would just be reality. Before we divided the world with words there were no waves there was only the ocean.

The point isn’t to be smart and figure out a riddle, the point is to stop creating oneself and simply be with reality. You’re supposed to flow, not imagine yourself as a molecule of water asking another molecule of water if they know what a river is. You don’t need to know the river you need to be the river.

996-relax-and-succeed-we-all-know-that-when-we-bringTribes who still live the old ways don’t have separate senses. They don’t hear, feel, see, smell and taste life, they experience it. It is one whole to them and they too are a part of that whole. If life were a giant collage on a church floor you’d be asking about the individual pieces and the native would only see the whole. They couldn’t even discuss it as pieces because that would require a sense of separateness from the experience. They would have to leave reality to become separate enough to name the parts and then discuss their interactions with other separate people-parts. Meanwhile in reality, where everything is one, creation would still be there chugging along in the background.

It’s funny, because it’s really so remarkably simple. Little kids do this every day without ever knowing that the words and ideas that we will teach them will divide reality up enough until they’ll eventually have a separate self that they can approve or disapprove of. And I don’t think you need me to tell you about that. That often belittling self is probably what motivated you to read this in the first place. 🙂

I know Virtual Reality is currently the rage, but contrary to what’s popular I would encourage you to get yourself a 1D view on life, because that view is the one that truly sees all.

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.

Generations

Something bad happened and almost no one noticed. Now something really good has happened and again, no one has noticed. I get it. My broken brain is weird. So it sees these shifts in general patterns in how we’re wiring kids with the things we tell them, how we educate them, what we do, and the experiences they’ve had. And that leads to societal impacts.

906 Relax and Succeed - One of the best ways I knowThe first trend I saw wasn’t long after I left school when I was aware of how new approaches to education would lead to future issues in large segments of the population. In the 60’s people were even taught by doctors and parenting experts that love was dangerous and it would undermine a child’s skill-building. They pendulum was then swinging in the direction of, no pain no gain.

By the 80’s pop psychology was big and this was the beginning of both a positive and an unsettling trend. At least it laid the groundwork for something better to follow. Those differences are at the heart of the debate of why those under 35ish often feel so different than those over 40ish.

The differences are real. They had to be. They childhoods were entirely different. In the 60’s everyone was forced to grasp the concepts of cause and effect and that unfortunately got perverted into earning one’s keep.

906 Relax and Succeed - We've bought into the ideaPart of this trend was from the idea of original sin, and so everyone was starting off in a hole and needed to work to get out. If you were still in the hole after a while that was perceived to be because you weren’t using your spiritual strength to climb out, as opposed to you were injured or in a much deeper hole.

Then we decided love was important to child-rearing (go figure), and the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction–toward individualism and love. People were lied to and told they could do it all on their own, and the idea was that all you needed was love, but then love was presented by advertising as: the acceptance of your peers. (Please “like” this post. 😉 )

So a group that was unloved thinks the only way to create value in yourself is to work hard to earn it. This is great in that it created a lot of the world’s greatest things, but it also leaves little room for the joy of living. The group that was untested is often left largely incapable in classical senses, but maybe that’s not a bad thing if what you’re building is subconsciously something quite different.

906 Relax and Succeed - Calvin and HobbesIncreasingly there’s more people who can do both. Yes, many have taken the worst of it by becoming strict promoters of hard-work and individualism as shallow routes to ego-success. But increasingly more and more people are choosing loving generosity, where they’re so good at love and compassion that they have learned to care more about others than themselves in many ways. This is very healthy.

Where this creates a conflict is that adults are pushing kids towards classic responsibilities of which 80% will still apply. But they can’t see the other 20% that involves imagining a world so different from the older group that they often have trouble seeing it at all. So the Burning Man Festival looks crazy rather than beautiful.

Meanwhile the more modern kids are left psychologically frail, where too much of their self esteem depends on external praise, but at the same time they’re less interested in ownership and control and they’re more motivated toward connection and creating happiness. If we combine these two generation’s strengths we’re really accomplishing something.

906 Relax and Succeed - How to change the worldThis is why I stay happy. You can see that people over 40 are slaves to the man, and you can see it that kids are lazy and lack motivation, or you can say that that the over 40 crowd really does have useful strengths all while the under 30’s are leading us toward a brighter, more egalitarian future.

People can now imagine a future without borders and race, where we work together to fulfil the largest number of needs rather than make crazy sacrifices towards the achieving the largest number of wants for a tiny selection of people. It’s a massive shift. And people should take heart.

We’re going in a very positive direction. Pretty much like we continually have. And that seems like something we can take pleasure in enjoying. So have yourself a fantastic Monday and instead of looking for what you don’t like about the world, try meditating on what good things emerge from those same things. You’ll surprise yourself and you’ll get better at seeing the best in life more often. And that is the biggest way you can make the most useful contribution to the best in all of this. I wish you every good fortune. Have an awesome week!

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.

Recognizing Choice

Today’s the day. You’ve encouraged positivity within yourself by intending to have a good day, you’ve increased your daily awareness of how you process your days and now it’s time to start making intentional changes within the moment you’re in.

862 Relax and Succeed - And I simply decided to be happyThe process is very simple: you use your increased awareness to keep a better monitor on the quality of your thinking. As you begin to feel emotions you use your new awareness to avoid blaming the outside world for those feelings and instead you look inside yourself. Is your reaction suitable to the situation or are your feelings coming more from your resistance to what is happening? These can appear to be similar things but they are in fact quite different.

For instance, being anxious while you’re being interviewed for a job isn’t that strange. Especially if you have very little recent experience being interviewed. It feels unnatural and yet you’re there for something important–you’d rather not escape. You can accept those feelings as somewhat normal and they won’t overtake you. The people interviewing you might not even notice any anxiousness.

The act of acceptance is essentially you ceasing any resistant self-talk in favour of opening up and listening to and experiencing that moment. But focus on an idea–spin it in your head as resistance to what you want to happen and you will increase your dose of the very chemistry you find troublesome and before you know it you’ll be reeling out of control–strangely all by choice.

862 Relax and Succeed - If it can be solvedYou know your most common negative emotion. We’re just trying to catch you a few times in that state and then at least know there’s an escape hatch. You don’t even have to open that hatch or jump through it–just being aware of your suffering as optional is a huge step forward. Realizing that even if you can’t change it, you’re starting to believe you can. And as Henry Ford said, “Think you can, think you can’t, you’re right either way.”

Just be watching it you’ll slow things down. It’ll seem easier to stick something into the spinning spokes of the narrative when you’re more aware of it happening. You’re already aware of an easy better choice–your Dominant Positive Emotion. Trust me, you’re wise. You used to do this as a kid, before you learned concepts like pride and betrayal and truth and honesty and loyalty. They’re all nice ideas. It’s just important to remember that they’re ideas and once they’re in context they’ll always be up against other ideals. That’s why we’re better to not have expectations about the world delivering itself to us in just the right way to ensure our emotions never get jarred or that we’re never uncomfortable. There’s billions of us, that just won’t work.

862 Relax and Succeed - There is an expiry date on blamingOkay? So you accept some emotions as suitable, and others you look to shift out of by finding something–anything–that triggers your Dominant Positive Emotion. A video. A memory of a favourite moment. Be like a kid and just find something you really want to do.

You can do this. You already do. You’re just not conscious of it. Once you’re conscious of it you’ll start changing all on your own. A lot of you will even make a switch today or in the next few days. From there it’s just a practice. One day at a time one moment at a time. No chastising yourself for opportunities missed–that’s the past. You can’t be present and intentional and then live in the past.

You’ve got this. This is the beginning of a new way of living. And trust me, you’re farther along the path than it’s possible for you to realize at this stage. But trust me, over time you’ll notice yourself having reactions to events that seem new and calmer and more capable, because that’s who you really are: the greatest source of wisdom in your life there is.

In the next phase we’ll discuss the various ways you can move your psychology to ensure that making this switch becomes second nature.

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 #80

This seems like a no-brainer, right? This is what everyone’s saying: be happy. Happiness is becoming the new rich. But that doesn’t do us much good if we’re still pursuing it egotistically. We can’t want peace and happiness because it’ll make other people think we’re successful. Those things are useless without freedom and that means doing whatever feels natural for us in any given moment–and sometimes that moment might prefer us to cry or get angry or otherwise feel the sting of dissatisfaction. What good is enlightenment if I can’t profoundly experience the death of my sister completely? What good is enlightenment if it cuts me off from the very pain that teaches me to value those who are still alive? If we’re free and relaxed do we end up happier? Yes, that’s how it works. But you can’t pursue that with the goal of more happiness because that’s a want and wants are egotistical. But if you fall in love with the process of being a human being instead, then you can move through each emotion without getting stuck. Because if you believe the emotion you’re experiencing is somehow “wrong” then you can’t relax until that wrong feeling is gone when in truth, if you truly understand, even the most terrible moments in life seem as fitting as the most joyous.

peace. s

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

00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Fear Itself

The other day I found myself in a conversation with a 25 year old man who I feel confident you would describe as “normal.” Raised as a child, went to school, now in the workforce. Pays rent, has a licence, and a relationship. A news story about cellphone addictions sparked a conversation about phone use. What struck me in that conversation didn’t really have anything to do with his claims about whether or not he was addicted. It was how he described not having his phone.

469 Relax and Succeed - Fear is the energy that contractsThose who read me often will know I sometimes refer to shunting. My accident causes me to notice these odd patterns and when I’ve seen one enough times to be confident it’s a pattern, it becomes conscious to me for the first time as a realization that feels like it’s clicked into place. I do get sensations prior to that too, but they’re more vague. Like the inklings a writer feels as a story gradually congeals. But the shunt is when I know. And when that kid talked about not having his phone, I remembered a shunt I had one day over a decade ago.

An extremely competent and intelligent woman I worked with was describing where her children were allowed to play—which was essentially within her eyesight. I was actually quite startled to learn that, and I could make no sense of why, so I asked. She seemed just as startled by my need to ask. To her it was obvious—and I do think most of the people listening with us agreed with her, not me. The kids needed to be within eyesight in case something bad happens. That’s what the kid said about his phone. I don’t need to use it. I just like to have it with me in case something bad happens.

Again, as is often the case, I’m the odd man out. I need to ask, why would we assume something bad would happen? Her argument that day was good: because if I’m wrong and things aren’t okay, then a child could end up dead. I would agree with that. The stakes are very high. Going both directions I would argue. Because to live in fear of every bad thing that might happen is to not live at all. And we have to stop and truly reassess how likely some of our fears are. Because the media feeds off fears, and the agencies that protect kids remind us of our fears as a part of 469 Relax and Succeed - The brave may not livetheir campaigns and fundraisers—there’s a lot of people that have fear as a part of their employment. We can’t mistake that for kids being in actual danger. 

A kid getting grabbed by a feuding spouse—sure, tons of times. But actual kidnappings of kids make international news. They’re that rare. And we’re talking over hundreds of millions of people. We’re quite literally below lightning strike numbers. Do you avoid going to movies or out to play because you’re afraid of lightning? Then why is everyone hiding their kids away like every second neighbour is dangerous when it’s far more likely that your neighbour would risk themselves to rescue your child?

You watch too much TV. You listen to too many fearful messages through advertising. They tell you which diseases to be afraid of, which smells from which parts of the body you should fear, they warn you not to be unfashionable and you don’t want to be caught listening to the wrong music or you’ll be teased. Almost every decision is dictated by what you don’t want to see happen rather than what you do want to see happen. They’re all defensive decisions made in case something goes wrong. This is crazy.

The world is an amazing super fantabulous place and you can hike through the jungles and get bit by a spider and you can be unnerved by natives or frightened by a snake. You can climb a mountain and parachute down. You can swim with large schools of mammals and fish. You can 469 Relax and Succeed - Your comfort zonewatch bears fish. You can learn to dance, or how to play an instrument. You can read books and travel to places in your imagination. We can interract with humanity. Because despite your entirely irrational fears about them, they are AWESOME and very much worth getting to know.

I never cease to find everyone I meet to be amazing and interesting in their own way. But I’m not looking out at life worried about what bad things might happen. Secret’s out: some of those are gonna happen whether you watch or not. But the really great stuff? That you only get a few times by luck. But if you’re watching—if you’re keeping your eye out for cool, rewarding, exciting stuff, then you’ll find a lot of it. More than you’ll ever be able to process in one lifetime. Which is why you’ll choose to come back, and to live another life with just as many bumps and grinds as this one. Because the really wise being inside you knows it’s worth it every time.

This is a life you have. It’s a fantastic opportunity every single day. It’s really not that hard to make it amazing. You just have to start with a little courage. Here’s a ((hug)) to start you off. Now go gettem’. 😉

peace. s

The Enlightened Life

I really like your blog but it always makes me wonder what your life is like compared to mine. Do you still have goals? Are you still learning new things or is all of that over for you?

signed,
Wondering

Dear Wondering,

I am incredibly ordinary. So don’t waste your life thinking comparisons into existence. Can you imagine two cave men sitting together, pre-language? They couldn’t do any such wondering because they wouldn’t have the ability to have that conversation with themselves because they didn’t have any words. That’s a good way to seeing Be-ing. It’s when we’re quiet inside. It’s when we’re not judging or striving or wanting. The emptiness that’s left is what contains the universe.

381 Relax and Succeed - Zen is not some kind of excitementYou don’t collect facts and then process it into a coherent version of the universe. Your consciousness is like a vase. And the most important part of the vase is the empty part inside. So don’t fill it with words. Let it flood itself by being immersed in the universe. Don’t process events—that requires and demands a you. But if you simply are, if you simply be, only then can the world be known to you. So don’t try to become like me, don’t try to be any specific way, just let yourself relax into the quiet and the real you will melt into your surroundings in a very wonderful and special way. That’s why you like dramatic sunsets. They shut you up inside. The sunset isn’t amazing because it’s an amazing sunset, the sunset’s amazing because you’re quiet and you can actually experience it.

To answer your question more specifically, yes I love to learn more than almost any other activity. But I don’t do it to expand or improve or impress. I do it because it’s fun for me. Some people love sports, some love to dance, some value stamp collecting or riding horses, and I like to learn. I literally love the feeling of new synaptic connections forming. I am addicted to the chemistry for learning in much the way an alcoholic or drug addict is addicted to a substance, or in the same way an angry or sad person is addicted to their favourite neurochemicals. I am intoxicated by learning and so I’m always looking for new information to intake. Likewise a sad person is always scanning the world for misfortune to focus on, and an angry person is looking for lost opportunities to bitch about. You get what you ask for—I just happen to ask for novelty. Once I know something it seems less interesting to me. I much prefer the unknown to the known.

As for goals—I do have them, although I’m not attached to them as outcomes. They’re the direction I’m heading, but like someone who’s driving from LA to New York, I’m mostly interested in looking at the stuff in between. If you were to describe me in a word, fascinated might be a good choice. The universe just never ceases to amaze me. We’re all in a big giant381 Relax and Succeed - As you work to spiritually advance play and the world is our stage and our characters fall in love and get into fights, and thrill ourselves and anger ourselves and we are alive.

That is what living is: to feel. And I feel the world very deeply. Including sadness and concern and frustration. The difference is that I don’t fight those feelings. I welcome them as I would in any play I went to see. I wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a performance and say to the character, “Hey there, don’t feel blue fellow. Things are gonna turn around in the second act, you’ll see!” Because I understand that if I let it happen then the writer and actors portraying sadness aren’t necessarily giving me a bad feeling, it’s just a specific feeling. I spend time with it and come to know it. It is an aspect of me and it feels a particular way. Remember: tickling can feel both good and bad. How we feel about something is how it is to us. So it’s good to get comfortable with all feelings.

Yes, get comfortable with suffering. You’d be surprised at how little you suffer when you’re actually open to suffering. Stuff just moves through you very nicely. Grumpiness is like a rain, but after you eat a cookie and raise your blood sugar and feel better, it feels that much better because of the juxtaposition to the rain. So I don’t mind the grumpy part because I know it sets up the happiness. After a tough day, good days feel even better. It’s like watching your team lose for the entire game and then suddenly pull out a surprise victory in overtime. It’s that much better because you’d suffered first. None of this is rocket science. It’s super simple. Do things you like and live with the consequences. It’s easy.

If you can quiet your mind you won’t need to fill your life with music anymore. You’ll be able to sit for extended periods in silence. And that will have special beauty due to its juxtaposition to the usual impermeable soundscape. You’ll never feel lonely, but you’ll also be very present with anyone you do connect with. You’ll switch words around like they and you, and your words for time will start to wander. And you won’t fix it because you’re comfortable losing a vocabulary for time. Time feels like a jail. You won’t be interested in trapping things with any sort of value judgments like worth, and you won’t care about concepts like ownership or even time stamps like when. None of those things will be meaningful when you live with All.

By not recognizing time’s “passing” I am free, and that freedom is worth a lot to me. To me all people all things all places and all times are one thing with many faces, so it just seems silly to engage in any extended negative feelings. It’s like getting worked up in a dream. Who cares? 381 Relax and Succeed - I looked in templesThe whole thing is taking place in your consciousness. Why break up an argument between two characters you are dreaming into existence?

Your life is what’s taking place in your consciousness. By living there and being aware you get to have all sorts of novel experiences. You’ll be free from hate. And loving everyone is easy and awesome. You see good things happen to people that hate you and you think, “Hey, good for them!” and you totally mean it. Unless an acute shortage of food and/or sleep is involved, there’s not really any dark thoughts to think of after you go quiet inside. And even if food exhaustion kicked in, I would still be aware enough to know that’s what it was and that I shouldn’t take any of my reactions seriously.

Because I move moment to moment and don’t create narrative opinions about what I witness outside of me, I don’t need to forgive people because moments after it’s happened I’m not even there because I’m experiencing something fascinating in the present moment. So it’s like I re-meet them the next time I see them. Gossip feels as crazy as it does meaningless, and as the Buddha says, “Being angry at someone is like throwing a hot coal—you are the one who gets burned.” I don’t entertain ugly thoughts for very selfish reasons. They don’t feel good to think.

You don’t want my life but you do want to live your own. You want to be the aspect of the universe that you create. So stop conforming and trying. Stop wanting to be in this or that group, or to be seen this or that way. Be yourself instead. You’re the only one that’s qualified and without you one of life’s jewels is missing. Now go enjoy yourself and your day. You were fine the moment you were born.

peace. s