Psychological Knots

409 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be dragged

I recently posted the photo above on this blog’s social media and it struck me as being particularly relevant right now. There are various terms in society that people use or run into without really thinking about them, yet examining those concepts are important meditations to undertake.

Yes, some people can go routes like Transcendental Meditation and that does help the mind clear. But for many people that is not their favoured route to our shared, central truth. Fortunately, there are many paths up the mountain.

For many in the West particularly, our subtly Socratic society means we are often more comfortable approaching wisdom or clarity by disassembling ego. This is generally done with a guide, by studying the language –the labels– that shape the conversations our egos conduct with us.

As an example, when I work with a group of women who have organized themselves into a lunchtime workplace, spirituality/self-help group, the aim of the ten week course is to guide them to experience epiphanies that relate to their personal definitions of Self.

Each of them will be unique people, but they all get healthier by doing the same thing; we simply challenge the value and necessity of achieving their individual desires, yet we do it in ways that do not threaten the vitality they live life with.

This is not the sort of self-examination most people are practiced at, hence my role. It takes some explaining to help people understand how it’s not a paradox to have a motivating goal and yet not have an attachment to it.

1339 Relax and Succeed - Learn to cut through

If we were watching ourselves more closely, we would know that when times are good, most of us can be pretty good about non-attachment. But when they’re not, if we err, it will often be through our attachments to what we perceive as necessary outcomes that may not be viable, whether they feel ‘fair’ or ‘deserved’ or not.

Our desire for an answer is itself not an answer, so there is no point in adding to our pain with voluntary psychological suffering. If we’re conscious, the pain of that mistake is usually what gets us to redirect our thoughts into some form of action, even if it’s a bit feeble or incapable of providing our desired answer. Even feeble action feels better than worried rumination or speculation.

Attachments and desires. The Buddha was right, they generate suffering. In those groups of women they each find hidden attachments they have held that were framed in ways they simply could not see before. And once those attachments and their meanings get exposed in a profoundly deep ways through our dialogue, their own understanding leads them to a natural process of bunny-hopping to greater peace and mental health.

Once we have see how they are created and how they function, conscious people win increasingly more battles with their desires until they reach the point of total surrender. It’s a beautiful, empowering thing and the journey’s a joy as well.

There are ways out of the tangle of our own thinking. It’s a form of self care to take action to untie the knots that we carry in our psychology. And asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness shown toward others, it is a sign of strength shown to ourselves.

If we’re really ready, we needn’t suffer longer than we have. We can learn to understand.

peace. s

Dwelling in the Past

1259 Relax and Succeed - Maintain a quiet mindHabits. Your mind is built around recognizing patterns. Done with awareness, it’s a great tool for efficiency. Done blindly, it digs the rut that leads to an early grave. Often we’ll work on our behaviour habits without realizing that without changing the underlying thinking, there is no hope of lasting change; no hope of new awarenesses forming.

Real change happens when we study something closely enough that we can have truly profound realizations about that thing. To most of us, our own families are simply patterns and we’ve stopped interacting with each other with any authenticity long ago, and that reality usually isn’t faced until there’s a death or serious illness. This is what it is to be asleep, spiritually.

When we’re open we’re free. Our minds hover, unattached, unattracted, and quiet. When we’re lost in ego we’re attached to our desires and our minds are busy. They bounce around familiar conversations like they’re the walls that form our own mental prison. We get in the car and every day we yell at fellow drivers, never seeing our own upset as being the habit that is generating our suffering, but using our thinking to instead blame others the suffering we have chosen through a lack of awareness.

1259 Relax and Succeed - Watch your thoughts

We walk into rooms and begin old and familiar self-conversations about arguments from the past; or we talk to ghosts from our history about days we wish never would have happened, or we see things in symbolic ways rather than open ones. These are all common, understandable events to begin, but to stay healthy we must catch ourselves in these states of mind and we must consciously shift out.

The value isn’t so much in the switching, because any pain we feel is confined to our thinking anyway, so the important part is the awareness. Once we understand it in a larger context, any suffering we do is less meaningful. By placing it in a larger context it takes on a contrasting value that is difficult to recognize when we only see it as something dark that we want gone. Like a big, mean dog that we’re trapped in our homes with, if we can’t wish it away, then we’re all better to make friends with the part of us that has the potential to tear us apart from the inside.

Don’t move through your life with blind habits of thought. That’s to live the life of a spiritual zombie. Awaken. It’s not some big mysterious paint your face in the jungle thing, and it’s not something profound and holy and out of reach–true spirituality is with you when you do the mundane mindfully. It is not what you are doing, it is how mindfully you are doing whatever it is.

There are walls in your life that restrict you. From how you wake up, to what you listen to, to your route to work, to your reactions on the way and when you’re there; these things are all too-often decided before you even start your day. If we live unconsciously we will bounce between barriers formed by nothing more than our own limiting thoughts, and we will live repetitive, unimaginative existences. We have to get out of our common thoughts and develop our awareness like a muscle.

1259 Relax and Succeed - We do not heal the past

Here’s a little brain test: I’d consider slotting it into at least one day of your week as purely worthwhile exercise. Maybe it’s the radio in your car, maybe it’s a podcast instead of a music playlist, or a streaming audio book–it doesn’t really matter–your job is strictly to listen. Do whatever you’re doing safely and with the appropriate attention, but to prevent your mind from otherwise wandering to familiar self-talk narratives, stay listening instead.

If you miss even one sentence, double back and listen again. Do that; frustrate yourself until you can maintain your focus well enough to simply listen to whomever you choose, for what is really a relatively short period of time. If you can’t hold your focus for that long, or you can’t even keep dedicated to that single achievement, then you know you haven’t suffered enough yet to truly want your health.

If the awareness doesn’t motivate you then that’s fine–but it does definitely mean you are actively choosing suffering, because once we have that shift in understanding,all of this gets easy . We’re suddenly aware that our day is built by us, and so for the day to improve we have to improve at building it, not at finding some secret hidden in our past.

What kind of day will you build today? Will it be made from an unconscious collection of learned habits from your past, or will you awaken to your own originality and create your day anew, from freshly minted and silent moments of now? You make the choice every day. The only< question is: are those choices conscious or not?

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.

The Productive Life

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't choose your futurePeople pick a goal and then they imagine what their life would be with that goal already accomplished. That’s called wishing and its ineffective as you’ve no doubt noticed. It’s also painful because now you have your actual life to directly compare to your finished, complex dream. That creates unnecessary suffering.

That sort of procrastination and struggle is often associated with an external ego-based goal. Those are things you’re interested in because you think others value them and you do this because you use your thinking to theoretically deduct from your own natural value and so you feel the urge to add to yourself from the outside.

950 Relax and Succeed - To avoid criticismAs an example, if you’re afraid to make a decision you might let one of your parents pick your career and they might do it based on money rather on how you enjoy spending your time. Or maybe you want to be famous because you didn’t get enough attention when you were young. But if your spirit isn’t into your work then that advice won’t help you no matter how famous you are. We’re more inventive and original than that and those are answers society needs. The real question is, what life do you feel compelled to do and how do you want to live it out in your own life?

Even your personality is just a habit of thought. From it will emerge your attitude toward the challenges you face. But those challenges will require action. You don’t want to use your thoughts to dream up a life you’re not having or that’s what you’ll have–an unlived life. You want to use your consciousness like a flashlight; primarily shining it on those thoughts and activities that align with a goal you feel is central to who you are. Overcoming those won’t always be easy, they’ll just usually feel worth it.

950 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to see the whole staircaseOf course nothing can guarantee your future, but you can determine your habits and your habits can strongly influence your future. In fact, your habits of behaviour and your habits of thought are the legs with which you walk through life. Stand on them strongly. Lean on others when you need to, but once you start standing up for yourself–for your own life–you’ll quickly see that the best thing you can possibly focus on is the step you are taking.

Don’t sit there wishing and waiting for a great life to arrive. Take strides toward who you would like to be. Strongly choose your direction and take action every day to move yourself closer to realising the idea in your imagination. You’re not lost or wrong before you’re there–you are always on the step you’re taking. The questions today are, who chose these steps? Where are these steps leading? And do you want to choose a new direction?

Life is not giant decisions, it’s tiny ones about individual steps. Stop being intimidated by looking at your whole journey at once and simply focus on where you are and where you want to go from here. From that perspective the next step to take is often quite obvious and easy. The question is, will you take it today?

Have yourselves a great day everyone.

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.