How Thoughts Become Things

1321 Relax and Succeed - Our thoughts can blind us

A woman complains to her husband that her haircuts are more expensive than his, even though they essentially have the same haircut. The husband is honest and agrees that he has always felt it a bit crazy that the female clients of salons were essentially subsidizing the fancy decor and products that the men also shared in.

She understandably thinks it’s unfair that women should be paying for the decor when men see the decor and use the products too, but he rightly points out that if it were up to the men it would often just be a chair and mirror and a barber with good conversation skills, so there would be no need for the extra expense.

And that all makes sense. No one is wrong or lying but they entirely disagree. It’s only because they are individuals –defined by valuing things differently– that they see a different version of what’s fair. They both have very respectable points. The problem with believing in a central reality is that people could pick either of their ‘sides’ and argue with facts but to no good end.

This is why a greater level of understanding other than just facts is needed, as is further demonstrated by taking the example further. Now imagine that the husband might later bring up the conversation with his wife while he’s at work, but he’s surprised when his co-worker agrees with the wife.

The co-worker might note that his daughter is a hairdresser, and that the nice surroundings and fancy hair-dos are more than just ego to him, because he watched his daughter, watch her mother lose her hair before dying of cancer. So making women feel important, and focused-on and beautiful means a great deal to his daughter the hairdresser. That adds a lot of value to a salon for her.

None of that makes any of the facts the husband said false, but we can see it greatly complicates our idea of what a hair salon can mean to different people. That’s because hair salons are made of thoughts, not of sinks and mirrors and paint.

1321 Relax and Succeed - Some people's disasters are other people's dreams
A father might only see his shop and hard work destroyed, but his son might be thrilled that his father’s chair survived so that he can give it a place of honour in his own salon.

Going even further, we could talk about the salon’s designer, and how this was her first job and it how won an award that launched her career and made her parents proud of her, and also helped her and her husband weather a job loss of his. Those are all huge things that will make that salon iconic to her.

Despite the tremendous value in the design to the designer and hairdresser and wife, the husband cannot appreciate any of their values by simply looking at the designer’s creation a year later. The only sign of her work is beauty and the invisible efficiency of the people using the space.

Do we really think the wife, the husband, the co-worker and hairdresser-daughter, and the designer all see the same salon? No. Absolutely not. They never did. They ‘see’ something similar, but their thoughts turn that reality into entirely separate ideas.

The problem is, good people could easily argue over those valid ideas, all while saying that they are representing the true value of that salon. But we can’t solve the problems of the world if we can’t appreciate the reality of separate realities.

Everyone looks at everything in life through their lens of their own experience, and they weigh what they see based on the values their life experiences left us with. If we understand that, we understand that everyone always did see a different salon.

Now that we know that, we can stop having arguments over hair salons (or anything else made from thought), unless the arguments themselves are enjoyable to have –because we also must remember that some people’s life experience means debating itself is a joy to them.

peace, s

Re-Awakening

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This is Scented Chamomile from my own garden. It is a truly problematic weed for farmers, but it also demonstrates how much beauty we can find in our our back yards if we’re looking for it.

As children we are filled with wonder. Every new thing is so completely new that it fills our minds with experiences that are so profound that they leave us with no space or time for the generation of an ego. At that stage we are so thoroughly focused on taking the universe in that we simply have no thoughts about our selves.

Most of us drift away from that sense of wonder slowly, once we learn to talk and name things. Once we know the name of a kind of bird, we effectively stop seeing it. We never look to see what’s unique about that individual versus another individual, they all just become merely ‘sparrows,’ or ‘robins’ or ‘crows.’ The problem is that we also do that to people, and the other treasures in our lives.

Let us intentionally regain our sense of wonder for the universe this weekend. Let us go to a botanical garden with a magnifying glass. Look at the gemstones in our local museum. We can go to a science center and look though a microscope, or go for a walk in the wood and really look at the woods themselves. We need time to go slow. To sit still.

In the ravine near my house, if a sitter is patient, seeing a fox is not impossible but extremely exciting. As in much of life, patience pays dividends.

Here’s a man who’d seen his hobby become too ordinary. It took some creativity and boldness on his part, combined with the support of a friend and an open and friendly public, and not only did he remind himself about how great his hobby is, but he also re-introduced wonder to a lot of lucky strangers.

If you’re in Edmonton, where I am, you can arrange to look through some wonderful telescopes through RASC, which is linked to the Telus World of Science. Every city will have similar organizations. Consider attending. It will stretch more than just our knowledge. Experiences like these help place ourselves in the universe in a curiously spiritual way. These experiences manage to be both grand and humbling.

Our problems live in our heads. We often to do more to solve them by getting out of our heads. Let’s make the world less personal and more universal. It can help to put our challenges in a larger perspective.

Enjoy your weekend.

peace. s

 

 

A Balance of Needs

1268 Relax and Succeed - Mindfulness is the aware.jpgMaybe it’s a few friends of yours. Maybe it’s you and you know it. Maybe it’s you and you aren’t aware of it; but we’re all somewhere on the self and other spectrum. Regardless of how various individual people define us, we can all appreciate that some people will be more selfish than others, just as we know some will give beyond their capacity to give.

Notably, either extreme appears pathetic from the middle. To be fair, the people on the extreme ends also don’t often have many good opinions about the people in the middle, and notably; they’re often viewed as the least-informed about life.

The most balanced people rarely experience their balanced nature because they have so little variation to compare it to, and so the experiences they do have tend to be filed under shocking, unpleasant or maybe bad simply because they’re so comparatively big. In that way life kind of works the way a lemon does, where it shocks you when you’re a baby, but lots of experiences with something means that today you can convert that lemony tartness into refreshing enjoyment.

1268 Relax and Succeed - There seem to be two kinds of searchersMost of you will know these varying spiritual states as political distinctions. People seen as over-generous and foolish by one side are seen as compassionate and generous by the other. Likewise, the ones viewed as selfish and careless are seen by their own side as focused and successful. Each of these opinions and every single one in between are all largely valid, which helps us realise the truly meaningless nature of opinions, because what we’re really talking about is the many ways people are.

There’s no correct place to be on this spectrum. You’re not healthier near the middle and sicker on the extremes, although those can be byproducts of being in those positions. Everyone on that spectrum suffers, just for different reasons. The two far ends of the spectrum find each other’s pure existence to be painful. In between people argue about what the priorities in life should be and how they should be accounted for. And in the very middle a bunch of people are pretty good at intellectually appreciating all the various positions taken, but they’re all a little lifeless due to a lack of extreme experiences.

This idea can be disappointing to a spiritual seeker because it indicates that a common theme is true; you are already home. The reason this idea gets confused is that we see our spirit as a thing, on its way somewhere, when it would be better to think of ourselves as a principle in motion. So it’s like we’re the principle of gravity and the body we live in is doing the falling that we call living. Yes, your nature is to pull toward the center–to fall–which also explains why the center can be confusing and disorienting to those born too close to it, making their subsequent lives feel shallow and often unlived.

1268 Relax and Succeed - It is not outer awarenessCan you accept that your nature is to move toward balance and that is the pull of life you feel each day? And can you simultaneously accept that your nature includes the idea that where you’re headed isn’t better than where you are, it’s just a different balance point with different challenges? The point isn’t to get anywhere, it’s to go; to live; to be. External outcomes ultimately don’t matter. It’s what Shakespeare meant with that “To be or not to be,” stuff.

Are there different types of prices for experiencing the various positions on this spectrum? Indeed there are. But pain is pain. It’s the part of life that allows you to contrast your joy, so there is no point in avoiding it. There are enlightened beings living all over the spectrum. The trick isn’t where you are, it’s how aware you are.

Wake up. Know yourself. And know that others are themselves too. And then work toward a less judgmental world where, more and more, you simply let them, and yourself, fully be.

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.