Your Spiritual Footprint

A lot of people are worried about their “carbon footprint,” which is really a catch-all term for the general price they personally exact from the environment. That increased awareness is great news. Likewise our consciousness is our psychological and spiritual environment so it’s a good idea to also consider our weight and impacts there.

982-relax-and-succeed-the-universe-doesnt-speak-englishYou eat food and breathe oxygen and the mitochondria who live within you then convert those things into the energy that you use to move your body and to think with. You then use that energy to think thoughts that are turned back into chemistry that you then experience as an emotion. If you want to understand your psychology you must understand that important energy creation and expulsion cycle.

You can take food and oxygen and make the energy. You can use that energy to think of a route for your bike ride, then your leg muscles can burn energy moving you through that route. Or you could sit still and use that energy to create more physical weight. Likewise you can use that energy to think sad, angry or fearful thoughts that weaken you. Negative emotions will burn your energy on circular thinking instead of moving you forward through the world.

Focus on appreciating the world around you–not so much in words but in direct appreciation, like the way we enjoy an instrumental song or the taste of ice cream. Those are experiences before they are turned into words. Treat the whole world like ice cream and you will very efficiently translate your personal energy into an energy that connects with and flows into others around you. This is why some people are said to have a commanding presence or that they’re very compelling. They are giving off a lot of this energy and when people see it they generally refer to the person as confident.

982-relax-and-succeed-change-your-thoughtsIn the end it’s simple: do you spin thoughts and burn your energy that way or do you use that same energy to move through the world? Because the pain isn’t because you went this direction or that; that’s just life. Pain is inevitable, but when we sit still and do not live at all we are volunteering for suffering. You were meant to be active in this world. You have more to offer than you realise, but you cannot own that capability until it is revealed through motion. Your life must have some direction and some intention to get anywhere or you will suffer.

Remember that when you feel great others can literally feed off of your energy. We’ve all done this sometimes so that you proves to you that you can do it. At the same time we can all bring an entire room down if we suck up the energy of everyone we encounter. Make your spiritual footprint light not dark, because the same cycle that can make things look darker and darker can also make them lighter and lighter.

Free yourself. Understand how your energy flows and start using it in your favour. Because the great part is, what’s truly good for you is what’s truly good for everyone around you. You’re creating the energy anyway. You can use it to crush yourself and darken your world or you can use it to free yourself to experience greater joy, love and connection. That is why it is important to practice mindfulness because in the end, no matter what you do, the road will always be defined by its ditches so it’s always important to be a conscious driver.

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.

Theatre of Life

You’ll use words like wish, or you whine, or you say should or wrong, but whatever reasoning you use, you want something to be a way other than the way it Is. But you don’t get healthy by getting what you want, you get healthy by surrendering all wants and what is exposed is the Isness of life. You just have one problem. You don’t want it the amazing, miraculous, beautiful way it Is, you want it the way you want it. And I’m here to tell you that you’re a great big spiritual baby wallowing in your own egotistical neediness.

454 Relax and Succeed - Life is too importantStop whining. Stop using words to invent expectations and consequences when you could instead just be quiet-minded and immersed in your life. And then you’ll be able to see the work of art that is the story of your life (Lighting and Sets by God). So let’s use an analogy so you can really hold on to the idea:

An Ego is like a person who goes into a theatre and then bitches through the whole movie. They disrupt everyone around them. They talk over dialogue, they complain about every aspect of the film and the theatre. And whether it’s a tense scene, a love scene or even a funny scene, it all feels the same to the Ego. They just sit and bitch because the script isn’t doing what they want it to. And so goes their life. Their time in the theatre ends up being an unpleasant existence instead of an inspired life.

The Spirits on the other hand have become wise. They don’t invite negativity into their life, and so the Spirit is seated in the theatre quietly. Unlike the Ego, the Spirit lets the film wash over them, and they allow each scene to be what it needs to be in order to tell the story of the film’s narrative—in this case, the story of the life they call “theirs.” The Spirit’s life goes up and it goes down. It includes tragic lows, yes. But those are what create the contrast that allows the highs to be so glorious. If you accept that relationship then suddenly it all levels out in a very cool spiritual way.

This is what the philosophical comedian Andy Kaufman was getting at. Have you seen Milos Forman’s brilliant film Man on the Moon? It’s about Kaufman, who was famous for a comedy act where he was basically an asshole. He was an asshole to the media, he was an asshole to David Letterman, he was an asshole in his comedy shows, and he was even an asshole in the wrestling ring. But here’s the catch. Andy was into Transcendental Meditation. And he had 454 Relax and Succeed - The human race has only one reallyreasons to have a clear mind. And those things allowed him to see the Truth. And the Truth was that it was okay if he was an asshole—as long as people got to see the asshole lose. And that’s what Andy did.

Andy’s stage was the theatre of life. He got thrown off Letterman to uproarious cheers from the audience. He looked pathetic when the crowd’s chants scared him, and they cheered at his fear. The best was the ring though, where he would taunt the audience and enrage them, only to be pummelled into oblivion by some meaty giant. And the crowd would go berserk with happiness. And inside, Andy’s bloodied body would smile, despite the fact that a lot of the audience actually thought he was an asshole. Because he didn’t care what they labelled him. He cared about the fact that they experienced thrills and a sense of joy by watching him get crushed. That’s the movie that was playing in Andy’s theatre.

What people think of you or any thing else is irrelevant to your enjoyment of the movie you’re watching. As I’ve said before, the Dalai Lama lived in exile and they shot Gandhi and imprisoned Mandela. You can be super-good and there’s still going to be people that hate you. So don’t cultivate opinions.

Don’t sit in the theatre trying to tell yourself nice stories about what you see on life’s screen. Just let it happen without comment and you will have done as the Buddhist’s say and you will have let it go. You will have experienced acceptance. You will be allowing the story to flow. So don’t pose a life on facebook that’s designed to tell a story make your ex’s jealous. Go live a life that makes you happy. And do that by simply letting the film unfold. Don’t ruin it with negative commentary. Just sit in the theatre and quietly behold the wonder that emerges from the greatest director of all, Creation.

peace. s

The Flow of Tao

I’m learning about Taoism. How would you describe Tao?

signed,
Flow-Seeker

Dear Flow,

How is it that the shortest questions need the biggest answers? 🙂 Indeed I can describe it. Whether or not I can do so in a way that effectively transmits the idea to you is potentially another thing. But here it goes:

386 Relax and Succeed - Act without doingThink of the Tao as the flow of life. You imagine yourself separately from this flow, but in fact you and it are one in the same. It’s like vegetable soup. You have a bunch of individual vegetables that can fairly be identified within “the soup,” and yet the soup itself would not exist were it not for those same vegetables. They are both cause and effect. And so you can imagine yourself as separate from the flow of Tao, but it is your own psycho-spiritual motion that serves to create that flow.

If we look at your life it is made up of fates and choices. Of course the fates are derived themselves from previous choices so really it’s all choice, but to your individual piece of carrot or corn it can feel like some things happen to you, whereas other things are things you cause to happen. Where people trip themselves up with The Tao is that they argue with what’s happening. Rather than being accepting of the fates and remaining focused on their choices, egos will lament the fates and forgo the choices. That battle with what is, is the basis of our discomfort with the present moment. We must make friends with what is by understanding the nature of causality. We must accept by silencing our rejection-narratives. And then we take the energy we were wasting on struggling and instead we can focus it on spotting our opportunities.

386 Relax and Succeed - The best way to show my gratitudeI’ve referred to him in the past. There was a big US tycoon around the time of the Depression and he was said to have a “disorder” that caused him to believe the world was conspiring in his favour. This is kind of like a belief in a generous personal God. So it didn’t matter what happened in this man’s life he viewed it as a gift. He saw everything as good fortune. So if a business deal collapsed after months of work, he wasn’t unhappy—he was excited. He saw the collapse as notification that his money would be better spent elsewhere. He never argued with what happened. His assumption was that it was good. That’s what it feels like to live in the Flow of Tao.

Every life has this flow. Your arguments feel like resistance because they are resistance. Each collection of individual words that you assemble into a larger idea that pushes against the current of what is, is like you paddling upstream. It feels harder because it’s fighting a much larger motion—a motion that is far from personal. The Tao is the flow of Oneness. And so our little thought-created senses of separateness are already an act of defiance. It is egotistical because it purports to know better than Oneness which direction Tao should flow. The chef does not consider each piece of carrot individually. The chef is wholly invested in making soup. When we “get healthy” we stop trying to advocate for our personal self and we begin to become One with the chef and in doing so we surrender our desire to control the Flow of Tao and instead we focus on staying aware, awake and alert to the sensations that help guide us within the flow.

Be yourself. Affect the flow. But do so from a place of authenticity, not from a dissatisfaction with what is. Be like the tycoon. Happily accept what is given to you and rather than offer resistant word-based arguments, instead invest your being in manifesting whatever comes naturally. Do not stop to judge. The moment you stop and create time so that you can judge 386 Relax and Succeed - Incredible change happens in your lifeanother time you can be assured that you are out of the Flow of Tao. There are no word-based questions in that flow. There is only your natural reaction.

There are forces in this world. Gravity, viscosity, momentum etc. Water does not question that is-ness it merely flows. Do not divide the world up into words and then glue them together into concepts. Dissolve those thought-borders and simply Be the Flow of Tao. No arguments, no wants, no desires. Without a self to advocate for, you naturally rejoin the Flow. Not that you can ever be out of it, but you can certainly paddle upstream by thinking you are. So relax. Be. You don’t earn or win or think your way into Tao. The flowing will be what naturally happens as long as there’s no you being created by a habit of personal thoughts. You don’t learn how to flow. You let go of your identity and then relax into the flow.

Surrender your argumentative, judgmental, unaccepting thoughts. Stop clinging to the rocks on the bottom in fear. Dissolve your Self by going so quiet inside that you can actually sense the larger flow of which you have always been a part. You can’t stay there forever because for there to be flow there has to be not-flow. But whenever you feel Out, the way In is always the same. Go quiet, stop thinking, and feel.

The Tao is always present for you. You need only realize it. It does not require anything from you but your presence. You only need to stop creating ego-based narratives of separateness, (the ones you use to define who you believe you are). You can easily do that because your ego builds things out of words and stories, so if you’re quiet inside—if you’re listening rather than ruminating—then you will literally have stolen the energy from your ego and you’ll have used it to expand your awareness instead. Brilliant!

So remember, this is not some place you have to earn your way into. All you need is the presence of mind to be able to recognize and quiet your thinking and, in becoming aware of that powerful silence, you will find yourself capable of swimming comfortably in the profound Flow of Tao.

peace. s

The River of Life

Your ego is racing around trying to figure out how to fit in. It is striving and pleasing and explaining and convincing and arguing and otherwise struggling to be accepted. Meanwhile your spirit sits passively by, watching you chasing drama like you’re in a play. The real you is unperturbed by thoughts of non-belonging; it knows that a character in a dream fighting with another character in a dream is not something to be fixed, it is something to be understood.

115 Relax and Succeed - People may love youImagine a river filled with ice cubes. Differences between people are like the cubes jostling together as they make their way down that river. Yes they make a lot of noise and some might even fracture or break apart, but in the end does that really matter when the ice is made from the same thing as all the other ice? And that also means your cube is made of the same thing as the river itself.

Some cube-lives will melt much sooner than others because their path naturally takes them into the heat of the sun. Others will be kept cold and hard by their surroundings and they will not melt until the river meets the sea. But even then, all the cubes will always be made of water and they will always return to the sea. So why so much drama over the jostling on the way down?

Can you see that you are battling in a vain attempt to stop the flow of life? Saying I don’t want to be jostled by other ice cubes is to say I do not want to exist. Living is the act of being jostled by the flow of the river and the other cubes within it. You’re not supposed to escape it. You’re supposed to accept it. Because in the end, it’s all just water anyway. In the end, the river is is really the the motion of the cubes. People are other cubes, the slope is time and the length is life. When you relax into that it’s a fun ride. Even the scary parts.

115 Relax and Succeed - We are all onePeople criticizing you or teasing you or even hating you is nothing more than the click clack of cubes in the river. It shouldn’t surprise you that the currents and eddies of the larger river would naturally cause individual cubes to regularly meet each other sharply as they travel in opposing directions. But do we really think the river is doing something wrong when that happens? Should the river change its entire flow for the sake of one particular ice cube? Or are the cubes just doing what they would do given the forces acting upon them? And what’s it all really doesn’t matter because again: it’s all water in different states anyway.

Your consciousness will occasionally be low and you will feel the cold harshness of being an ice cube. The hard edges of your beliefs will clash with the hard edges of other people’s beliefs and life will feel cold and hard. Despite that sensation, the river is still the river and the flow is still moving steadily forward and you are always okay–none of these cubes are really any different than any of the others you’ve faced and all of the cubes will eventually melt back into the river to eventually evaporate and reincarnate as a rain or snow or fog and then do it all over again. So why worry or battle or fight or argue your way through it when it ends the same way regardless? It’s a smoother more rewarding ride if you simply go with the flow.

Other people’s views of you are created by the happen-stance angles of your interaction. They do not need to be fixed or repaired or cleared up or prevented or stopped. They are truly meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Accept that you will feel these impacts when they happen. They will cease to matter as long as you stay conscious of the fact that what you are experiencing is not actually your life. What you are experiencing is simply the flow of the river itself. 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.

The Tao of Tragedy

Tragedy. Misfortune. Accidents. These are inevitably aspects of our lives. In the river of life there are eddies where the energy is going in the opposite direction from the river itself. And there are the rapids—the times where the river is shallow and rough and noisy. And lives not only have rapids, they have waterfalls too. There are times where the flow of your life is crashingly redirected around some hard new reality, like learning you are undesirably pregnant, or if you ended up in a wheelchair—or caused someone else to be in one. Because for all of us equally, as life winds its way back to the sea, it will surely flow its way through tragedy.

109 Relax and Succeed - The time is nowSo why do some people move through these times relatively gracefully, while others can completely fall apart?

After the tragedy, some people innocently continue to think about it. They use their thoughts to compare what happened to what they expected to happen. They argue with God that they were short-changed on some deal. They regret their own actions. They blame others. They presume doom. And it seems to come true, because there is simply no way to feel good when you’re thinking thoughts that feel like that. Yet when things feel like doom it gets blamed on the event rather than on the person’s thinking.

Healthy people try to avoid imagining their future and prefer to stick in the Now, so they never did build a castle in the sky with their thinking—so being told they can’t live there is a non-issue. Healthy people are also realists, and so they know that rapids and waterfalls are inevitable as the river drops back to the one-ness of the sea. When those times arrive they greet them in the same way they do with all of the other moments in their life: without argument. Because the real sense of tragedy comes from the argument with reality, not reality itself.

109 Relax and Succeed - You must realizeSometimes life will give you down-slopes, and simple gravity will make it easy for you to achieve what you want to. But other times it will place substantial or even insurmountable obstacles in your path and you will need to struggle to find your way. But whether it’s easy going or tough, what is is what is and we don’t just have to survive that—we can thrive in it. We just have to stay conscious.

Expect that you will begin to tell yourself painful stories in the midst of a tragic event. But those stories will lead to unpleasant and undesirable feelings, and the very purpose of those feelings is to communicate to you that you should alter your thinking. So make the pain your friend. Let it be your guide out of the darkness. It’s great exercise. It’s a life skill everyone should learn. Because talking about or judging our life is to not fully live it. Because there’s no reason to let a good life flow past while we sit on the shore discussing a bucket of dirty river-water as though our opinions on the shore will ever matter to the river itself.

If things are good, be grateful. They’ll change. If things are bad, be grateful. They’ll change.

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.

Go With The Flow

86 Relax and Succeed - Go with the flowGo with the flow. It’s catchy. You might have even said it to people when you saw them struggling. But what exactly did you mean when you said it? What is going with the flow? If you had to put that into other words what would you say? That’s where a lot of people get stuck. How does one go with a flow anyway?

Let us analogise your life into a river. Way up in the high peaks you melt into a little baby trickle. You burble along to the point of becoming a toddler/brook. You don’t impact the world around you much, but you are continually growing to the point where eventually you’re a creek and you have a real flow/personality of your own. Now you can start to have a hand in shaping your own shores.

Along the way you intersect with occasional tributaries. These are the people that help you become who you become. Through them, your creek will grow and grow to the point where you’re a full-on raging teenaged river.

As a river you will continue to grow you will move through a lot of different terrain (social situations, work situations, ages, eras in time etc.). You will pass through stunningly beautiful terrain, and hostile difficult terrain. Sometimes you’ll be at your kid’s weddings. Other times you’ll be taking your spouse to cancer treatments.

You will sometimes move wide and slow, like when you’re either lazily relaxing, or other times when the bottom’s so shallow you’re not sure which way to flow. Sometimes you will crash through canyons so narrow that your sheer force of being will carve solid rock, just as you may have left a very serious scar on the person you once hurt. Sometimes you’ll move so slowly you’re silent. Other times you’ll thunder with the crush of a waterfall. All of these ways of Being are very different and yet all of this is you.

But none of that really matters because eventually you spill back out into the ocean where you are reunited with All—you become indistinguishable from your surroundings as you diffuse and ultimately evaporate—the infinite parts of you rising into the sky like some ephemeral angel to be reincarnated into new snowfall that will melt into new trickles that will form new brooks, creeks and rivers. This is the cycle of life. But what’s that got to do with defining the phrase go with the flow?

86a Relax and Succeed - Here's how it works100% of that river’s journey is your life. From trickle to ocean, that’s all you. Sometimes you’re lazy and slow. Other times you’re falling so fast you can’t hold on. Sometimes the world tells you where to go and other times you make your mark on it. But whether it’s rapids or flats, the river is the river. Going with the flow just means that you’re okay with whatever part of the river you’re on/being. The point is: don’t stand on the flat parts wishing for more excitement and danger, and don’t stand in the rapids worrying because things are so exciting or dangerous.

Every river has its own flow—and yes, some are more dramatic than others. But they all have to get from the mountain to the ocean, and they’re all going to see a variety of terrain, so don’t get caught up in using your thoughts to want different terrain. Just acknowledge where you are on your river and then go with the proverbial flow. Don’t add to your challenges by talking to yourself about how you wish this part of the river was like another part of another river. Because that’s a nonsense conversation and your attention would be better placed in the Now.

All lives have rapids and slow spots. All move through beautiful backdrops and ugly wastelands. But since there is no getting around those facts why not just stop the internal discussion about what should, could or would be better? Why not just stay quiet?

86-relax-and-succeed-dont-try-to-understandThis is what the Buddhists mean when they talk about acceptance. You stop arguing with what is. It’s not that you become enlightened and you have no more challenges and everything goes your way. Becoming enlightened means to come to an acceptance that there will always be such challenges. The point isn’t to prevent them from happening. The point is to be able to comfortably have them happen.

If things are tough, let them be tough. If they’re going really well—enjoy it fully. But don’t fight gravity by arguing with yourself about which way the river should have gone. It will always go the way it goes, just as you will. The point is that you shouldn’t judge your flow. You should just follow your nature and go with whatever your life presents you.

If your life is currently quiet, then you should be good with quiet. But if it’s rapids, then you should be just as good with the rapids as you are with the quiet parts. Or in other words, you should be just as good with vexation as you are with peace. That’s what it is to live the good life. That’s what people should mean when they say, just go with the flow.

Have an awesome day, regardless of where your water is flowing. 😉

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.