Agreeing to Disagree

1226 Relax and Succeed - Agree to disagreeIt’s a lost art. So many are caught up in a need to oppose and conquer. We have not improved the world by converting people to our way of seeing things, we have only manipulated their perspective to temporarily align with ours. But over time their view will develop nuances ours doesn’t have because ultimately their perspective is not ours and never will be; they are them and we are ourselves.

Science is like a language we’ve all agreed to use for planning public policy, but everything else is personal opinion. Everyone sees things from a slightly different perspective, meaning that in a healthy world we will most certainly find many people that will disagree with us. That’s no indication anything is wrong.

Sometimes other people will  be right, sometimes you will. And your idea of right or winning will change over time. There is no way to gets it all 100% right, all the way through. Not even close. So next time you’re arguing, just keep in mind that maybe you’re the one that’s missing something. That humility will bring you closer to people.

1226 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to attendTake today and search for an opportunity to feel your resistance to an idea, and then understand that your resistance is created by your unaccepting thoughts about their idea. That’s natural–those aren’t ideas that you feel are compatible with you. But that’s a much different thing than saying they aren’t compatible with the other person’s way of being.

You’ll feel it, maybe in your jaw or stomach or chest. A desire to react. A sense of resistance. A rise to do battle. Note that feeling and check in with what idea you don’t want to be in a room with. Very rarely will these ideas have much material impact on your life, but note how married to those ideas you are. Indeed your very identity emerges from them much like a detailed piece of art emerges from the dots in pointillism.

Your arguing ego is nothing more than an identity that emerges from your current set of beliefs, much like these dots make up this image. Over your lifetime the dots will move as you grow and change, and that will change who you believe you are unless you learn to see past your own thoughts.

1226 Relax and Succeed - Pointillism
This work provided courtesy of GenericZombium

Note that your thoughts exist only in your consciousness. Note that they have no existence until you enact them into behaviour. Note that you can let an idea exist, allow it to pass through you, and then let it go and you will feel fine. In fact, you’ll very likely feel much stronger than you would if you’d entered an argument and won it.

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.

Silently Floating

You’re born floating in the middle of a beautiful river. You don’t even know there is a shore. You know only the floating of the water. As you age you learn you can affect your movement around the water and you attempt to do so, but you often become frustrated when the river is itself and does not meet your expectations.

Maybe it is the currents pulling you in challenging, stressful directions. Maybe it’s too shallow where you are and you are skimming along, irritated. Maybe it is rocky, and you’re bouncing along in frustration and a bit of fear. Maybe you’re actually hitting some really big rocks pretty hard and it’s so frightening that you’re angry at the world for scaring you so much. Or maybe you’re marooned with damage, depressed and unmoving on the shore. But if you’re reading this you haven’t done the equivalent of suicide and gotten out of your boat. Which is good. Because there’s something you’ve misunderstood.

Yes, you do control yourself. But you do not control the river. The banks are set by fate, by your parents, your times, your culture, your individual experiences. The difference will be in their banks, not in the flow of the water. That’s the point. The flow is guaranteed like gravity. You are destined to return home to the sea. The only question is, how much will you allow yourself to flow?

What is it not to flow? It is to imagine things as being wrong. It’s to image the river being a faulty river. Rivers can only do as rivers do. They are guided by principles. Your thoughts about the river are not the river itself. Your opinions exist only in your consciousness; the river is indifferent. But then why think resistant thoughts at all?

We often mistake our own flow for a mistake, and in attempting to correct it we fight our flow. It is this misunderstanding that misleads us. It’s not a mistake that the water is shallower and rougher near the shore. Nor that there are sharp rocks, or waterfalls or dangerous eddies. These are all normal things for any river, and all parts of the river will experience them to some degree. That isn’t the world or the water being wrong, that’s layering thought over top of flow to create resistance.

The narratives about your unfulfilled desires, your worries, your fears, your complaints against yourself and those around you–those are like psychological attempts to damn your river. You’re trying to force a direction change with pure thought, but you don’t stand a chance in the face of the river of life. Your must surrender and float.

Stop your judgments. Flow past your irritations, frustrations, and bouts of temper or depression. Replace them with a silent appreciation that, even with these challenges, to flow is to live and to live is exalted. It is easily the most underrated thing in society today; to merely be alive to experience existence. So many die without having ever truly opening their eyes.

Don’t argue with your white water. Don’t try to back away from a waterfall. Don’t try to muscle your way out of an eddy or escape from the rocks. Flow. Stop your paddling, wanting, resisting thoughts and flow.

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.

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.

Mental Spin Class

1076-relax-and-succeed-suffering-is-not-holding-youIt was entirely normal that a lot of you struggled with yesterday’s meditation. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t productive. The reason it was hard is the same reason that most people are seeking more personal peace with others, ourselves and the world around us. We want to surrender into each other. But there’s these damned thoughts in the way.

When you say, “I can’t stand how Darlene makes it sound like her grandkids are smarter than everyone else’s,” what you mean is: when Darlene talks about her grandchildren I have internal conversations where my ego talks to my self and in doing so it leads me to experience unpleasant brain chemistry that I feel as the emotions I don’t enjoy.

Maybe your conversations surround how you feel insecure about how you raised your kids, and now you feel that your divorced, formerly addicted single mom daughter is something to be ashamed of. Maybe Darlene’s daughter is a chess master who is also an Olympic figure skater. That can lead your inferior-feeling self to want to bring Darlene down a few notches in your thoughts.

1076-relax-and-succeed-the-quieter-you-becomeMaybe you’re fine with whoever your kids and grandkids are but you’ve always had a thing about superiority. That family down the street used to make your mother cry with her comments about your family’s modest life. People like that are jerks. Anyone who displays any kind of superiority has been well thought-out a long time ago. As an adult you can just play that angry recording.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is. What matters is that resistance to someone else’s being feels terrible. It’s unproductive. Fortunately it’s also voluntary. In fact it takes effort. But yesterday, in one of your meditative attempts to be more peaceful, you ended up possibly even more irritated. And that’s okay. It’s instructional.

What often happens is that people do something like this: There’s Darlene, at it again. No. No. Don’t go there. Don’t think about Darlene, don’t think about Darlene, don’t think about Darlene…” I think you might already be getting my point. It’s like your ego and your self are arguing in your head like those two old guys in the balcony in The Muppets. One’s bitching about Darlene and the other’s bitching that he doesn’t want to discuss Darlene. That’s a lot of talking about Darlene.

When a figure skater is spinning really quickly they are keeping their own physical energy near them, away from the outside world. Like them, when you spin thought-loops in your head you keep all of that spinning energy bundled up inside of your consciousness when it should be open to the entire world.

When a figure skater wants to stop their spin they don’t win some kind of argument; they open up and release the energy to the world around them. As the forces are released the spinning stops. Until then the vision of the skater is blurred. Likewise with your psychology. Spin it around Darlene and you’ll get dizzy and upset. Release those thoughts and turn your attention to the surrounding world and you’re free.

Since so many of you struggled yesterday, let us repeat today: choose the same or a different person. Your objective is simple: As you listen, catch your ego starting to spin and then open and release. The idea is that you want to recognise  that you’re focused on your own spinning thoughts. You want to throw your attention outward and without expectation.

1076-relax-and-succeed-i-even-overthink-my-overthinkingWherever you are, a good way to practice this would be for you to try to release yourself by noting something you’ve never noticed before about your location or the people with you. Maybe it’s that someone’s wife is taller than them, or that their eyes are blue; maybe there’s a yellow thumbtack stuck in the ceiling, or there’s a cut in the floor. It doesn’t matter. It’s the act of refocus and release that counts.

Watch for irritation, see yourself spinning, release your consciousness. You already do this in your life. It’s time you started doing it consciously. Have a great day.

peace. s

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

Fears

1032-relax-and-succeed-dont-place-your-mistakesI’ve got a rare situation that’s given me an equally rare state of mind to write from. This makes it an ideal time for me to write about how I’ll face this emotional challenge, because the nicest thing about living in the present moment is that you trust that you learn from experience so you feel authentically bad about unfortunate things, but then you can move on.

You feel hits to your ego but you don’t hold grudges nor do you worry about what might happen and maybe most importantly you don’t beat yourself up. You accept that everyone learns and everyone makes mistakes, you grab the lesson with humility and then move on as soon as you’re sure the lesson’s been learned. There’s no extra time wasted in ruminating on should’a could’a would’as. But today I crossed that line we all have within us; the mistake that bothers us the most because it betrays some fundamental aspect of ourselves that we place great faith in.

1032-relax-and-succeed-courage-is-the-decision-to-favour-actionI had figured out by nine years old that the human mind could not really be trusted despite people’s best intentions. This lead me to develop a series of thought-tests that I would put my own ideas and other people’s ideas through to ensure they were solid. Today I did the thing that bothers me the most: I didn’t make use of a mental tool that I knew I had built for a reason when I know full well I only build those tools when it’s important.

What a lot of my students start off doing is they start telling themselves stories about what they should have done. Then another part of the brain will calculate the damage, and then it’ll be angry that it happened at all, and then fear of what will happen, then the consideration of an alternate future where you made the opposite decision, and finally self-criticism for making the same mistake yet again despite the fact that making the same mistake actually makes a lot of psychological sense.

1032-relax-and-succeed-if-all-else-failsI will feel strongly compelled to react in all of the ways noted above. I suspect I will bounce into actually doing those things for bursts of time. But I spend so much time peaceful that I will notice when I’m tortured, so that’ll be a good cue. From there I’ll pursue strategies to take my mind off the painful useless subject and place it on better things.

This means that the idea becomes like a ball of pain on a ping pong table, where my natural reaction to the approaching pain is to swat it away. I think of those words and narratives as little balls of pain and when I run into one in my head I hit it away but shifting my attention to something more productive and peaceful.

I will wage this little battle for as long as it takes before my mind finally accepts the situation fully, and meanwhile I’ll have been able to take immediate action to mitigate any additional damage. That’s as good as you can do after a mistake, and dreaming like it was possible to never make one was something I surrendered many thousands of surrenders ago.

Bad feelings feel bad for a reason. Just by their sensation they urge you not to think them. So when you feel in pain, don’t turn inside yourself and self-discuss that pain. Recognise that as coming from your thinking and then shift it. That power is always in your hands and the more you use it the stronger you’ll be.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

PS. Funny side-note, it turns out I hadn’t made the mistake I thought I had. Good thing I didn’t engage in a bunch of painful, useless thinking about something that was ultimately just a false belief.

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.

2013’s Blog of the Year #7

The responses I get most often from students and readers is that they find my guidance extremely practical. I may use metaphor, but it seems that in their studies many other seekers previously only found more questions, whereas with me they’re finding concrete actions to take to move in an enlightened direction. This pleases me greatly because I am tired of people being told that enlightenment is difficult or hard or as though it’s some kind of achievement. Egos achieve. This isn’t an achievement. It’s a relaxing into what really Is. It is Acceptance and Surrender. What we need to do is natural. And it’s what we need to stop doing that leaves us where we want to be.

274 Relax and Succeed - Everything you are running fromOut of all of the blogs I wrote last year this one has to be in the top ten for clarity of action. Its instructions are super clear. If you want to run but your knee is in such pain that it prevents it, then you know you’re body is communicating that it’s not a good idea for you to run. You will hurt yourself even more. Same with your emotions. They are a simple signalling system that people have misunderstood. If your emotions hurt, then stop running around that subject in your head. It really is that simple.

If this blog wouldn’t have ended up in the Top Ten I would have put it on my list of my favourite blogs of the year because I likely got more mail on this one than any other. People found it extremely helpful and I certainly hope you do as well. To that end, Ladies and Gentlemen it pleases me greatly to re-join our countdown by presenting you with the 7th Most Popular Blog of the Year:

The Pebble In Your Shoe

The journey through your life is comprised of individual steps. These Moments are each distinct and unique aspects of the universe, but you will use your consciousness to string those individual steps together into what you call the journey of your life. So to be unforgiving is like walking with a pebble in your shoe. Each step of your journey you re-remind yourself that you are in pain. And rather than stopping and removing the pebble from the shoe of your conscious identity, you instead continue on, getting angrier and angrier at the pebble.

So it also goes with love. If you look for your former lover’s face in every passing stranger, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you constantly think about how you were wronged in the past by someone or some institution, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you watch the 274 Relax and Succeed - Be careful how you are talkingworld for the next impending disaster, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you hate someone for teasing or abusing you, then that is the pebble in your shoe. If you focus on your spouse’s key faults rather than their key strengths, then those faults will be pebbles in your shoe.

Don’t be upset by the pebbles themselves. They will have gotten into your shoe by nature. There’s no way to avoid them. Just the act of walking will kick some up, and every now and then one will make it inside the shoe of your conscious identity and eventually it will find its way to somewhere painful. So it getting there is inevitable. But you continuing to walk on it is choice.

People will be self-critical and they’ll blame the pain on who they have become—on what shoes they chose to wear—and yet everyone walking the Earth will necessarily have shoes, and there’s no way getting around the fact that all of them kick up pebbles to be walked on.

People will sometimes be upset with the pebble itself, and yet it got there through natural means. It’s not like the pebble was looking for a foot to irritate. It was just laying there on the path of life and it happened to be one of the ones that ended up in your shoe. If it wasn’t this one it would be another one. So there’s no getting around the fact that we will end up with the pebbles. There’s no way to avoid that. So the real question is, what do we do when we become aware we have one?

That’s where the advantage of the pain comes in. The whole reason it hurts is because that is the universe communicating to you that you have a pebble of thought in the shoe of your identity, and that thought is rubbing your identity the wrong way. If we’re wise, that notification will be used as an opportunity for you to stop what you’re doing, pause, and then consciously choose to take off your shoe and dump out the pebble. That is the purpose 274 Relax and Succeed - 10 to Zenof the pain. It’s a notification system regarding your thoughts.

We all had to pick a style of shoe. Maybe we’re aggressive like an athletic shoe. Or maybe we’re open and free like a sandal. Maybe we’re pointed and sharp, like a business shoe. Or maybe we’re a casual shoe—something we can’t run in, but at least they’re easy and comfortable. But no matter what shoe-identity we’ve put on, they’re all susceptible to different kinds of pebbles. So don’t be surprised when the pebble ends up back in your shoe. But the process is still the same. You simply notice the pain, stop walking and you remove the pebble. Notice your emotional pain, stop thinking about that subject and replace those painful thoughts with something nicer. It’s that easy.

Eventually we learn to walk in ways that discourage a few of larger pebbles from getting into our lives. But don’t lament their existence. They are an integral part of the path you are walking on. They comprise the surface of the path of your life. Most times they carry your weight. But when they do get under your foot and generate an irritation—don’t start thinking you’re on the wrong path. Because a wise person doesn’t change paths. A wise person just gets really good at pausing and removing pebbles.

Don’t complain about emotional pain. Recognize it as your own thinking and get conscious and change it. Because if you can get good at letting thoughts go, then you will have minimized the amount of suffering you will do on your journey. And that makes for a beautiful walk through life.

Enjoy.

peace. s

Let Go of Your Attachments

78 Relax and Succeed - In the end just three things matterI hear you all over the place. I hear you in coffee shops. I hear you where you work. I hear you out with your friends at the Farmer’s Market, or in a park with your dog. You’ll be happy when. When this happens, or when that happens. When this person does this, or that person does that. When you obtain this object or person, or when someone else loses some object or person. When you accomplish this thing or stop that thing. When you have more money, when you have more time, when you have have have….

There is a stick tied to your head and out in front of you dangles a carrot. No matter how long you chase that carrot, you will not catch it because it is only an extension of the thoughts in your head. Because you’re looking for happiness outside yourself, you feel you have to go and get something before you’ll be happy. So when you get your latest carrot, you’ll immediately notice it didn’t make you happy and you’ll immediately begin looking for a new carrot to chase.

Do you see how single-minded you are? How focused on only one path, one set of signposts for success? You don’t want happiness with any other person, you want happiness with a specific person. You don’t want happiness because you have shoes on your feet, you will only be happy if you have specific shoes on your feet. You want just the right food, just the right traffic, just the right attitude from your clerk. You’re essentially a big baby that wants a bunch of stuff and if you don’t get it, then the whole room is going to pay.

78a Relax and Suceed - You must be willing to let goOkay, be like that every now and again. But don’t live that way. There’s no need, and it’s agonizing. It’s like being a kid in a big yard full of amazing toys, but all of the other kids have convinced you to crawl through a narrow, dark tube where you can’t even see any other sources of joy other than the one you’re chasing.

You have to stop wanting things and people as sources of happiness, and you have to start understanding that happiness itself is the source of happiness. You don’t live some kind of good or successful life and then get some happiness. By being happy with whatever comes your way, you live a life full of happiness—and that is what a truly good and successful life looks like.

So what are you attached to? What is your happiness currently dependent on? Pay attention to your thoughts and you’ll discover what your ego has convinced you to need. Maybe it’s someone’s forgiveness. Maybe it’s someone’s apology. Maybe it’s a symbol of status or wealth. Maybe it’s a weight, or maybe a certain brand of clothes that you imagine everyone else would approve of.

78 Relax and Succeed - This isn't giving upWhatever it is, it will exist in language in your mind. It will be a conversation you have with yourself. That’s how that illusion will appear real—you will repeatedly talk it into existence within your own imagination. That is the only place that it will reside and it won’t relate to any other person but you. Only you create your ego for your self.

So quiet that wanting voice. Open your eyes. Look not for what you want, but what’s available. Because to a wise person, society looks like a large group of blind-folded people all standing among each other, with everyone wandering around arguing with each other about the source of a cure for their loneliness.

You are not alone. You are only attached to something. Let that go and join us in peace. Forgo your barrier-like ego conversations in favour of the quiet openness of true love. Or in other words, stop searching, take off your blindfold, and just embrace whoever’s closest to you.

Have a wonderful day.

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.