Banished From The Tribe

1102-relax-and-succeed-you-not-wanting-meLike apes or wolves or ants, humans are cooperative creatures. Living and working alone are challenging things that can few can do throughout their lives, and if they do they’ll generally pay a big price. Even people who say they live without others needed others to even exist.

You can’t (currently) be born without parents (and even without those you’d need scientists). If all some guy in the bush has is a log cabin and an axe, he needed both the inventor of the axe and he would have needed to have seen someone else’s cabin to imagine one so he could build it. And even he will likely hit the local store when he needs some salt or tools. We’re all living on the backs of all of the other generations before us.

Our desire to be part of the safe and well-fed is ancient and natural. Anything else threaten death, hence the power of potential banishment and shunning that was noted in yesterday’s meditation. People naturally focus on being valuable enough and well-liked enough to maintain the security of the tribe. It’s like your brain’s primary directive, which is why you find being rejected so painful. It’s like someone saying, “We don’t think your genes needs to go any further than this.”

1102-relax-and-succeed-maslows-pyramidWe can all easily think of the times it hurt to be rejected, but what about the times we did the hurting? What about group criticisms people joined in on on social media? What about a group of schoolgirls actually cooperating to cut another person out? What about having your support for one group lead you to even verbally attack the member of another group? What about you rejecting someone because someone more established in your group stopped dating them? Or what about even how you would have handled someone leaving the company you worked for?

Socially it’s a very common, modern experience to exclude someone if they get laid off or fired. Being fired can feel to others like it’s different because it’s “deserved,” but then we all have to ask ourselves how perfect we actually are. Getting fired for a genuine mistake is like being fired for being human. Certainly some things are blatant and need action, but sometimes it’s just that a decent manager and a good employee clash. And in the case of the layoff, generally the immediate boss and the person being laid off would rather not have participated at all.

1102-relax-and-succeed-a-team-is-not-a-groupEven though it’s in an office and everyone’s dressed nice, to your brain–which evolved for that other tribal, cooperative world–these are all examples of being shunned. We all have our family group, our friend group, and our work group. These are tribes we travel between and they often overlap.

Being removed from any of these groups will be among the most painful experiences of a person’s life. If you were aware, you’d know that from your own experience. Any time it happened to you it was a very particular kind of pain and you literally need to go through Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). It’s extremely painful. A company I once worked for laid someone off and that lead very quickly to a particularly ugly suicide and no one in the company was the same afterward.

In today’s meditation, find an example of where your personal awkwardness about how to behave lead you to passively shun someone. Own it. Don’t make excuses, just make the connection between your choice and their pain. Connect the two in a direct fashion. This won’t be a pleasant meditation, but it will increase your empathy and natural self-centeredness.

1102-relax-and-succeed-sometimes-painful-things-can-teach-usIf you do this meditation successfully–if you feel that pain and own that responsibility for your part in it–then it will be one of the fastest results you’ll ever get from a meditation. Because if you do it right, then your brain will understand that idea so well that you are very unlikely to go through the next similar experience without very naturally experiencing lower levels of ego and much greater levels of empathy, which will in turn drive you to more active compassion.

This is the kind of thing that would turn you into that one person that won’t be awkward with the former employee. You may not be able to get them back into your group, but your actions alone could change how hurt that person feels and how much they trust the world going forward. This is no small meditation. In small steps, it is these ones about our common human relations, that are the most valuable meditations you can do. For you and for them.

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.

Violence of the Soul

1089-relax-and-succeed-the-most-important-thing-in-communicationLast week we worked to undermine some of your ego’s sense of control by showing you that an ego is largely unconsciously shaped by the world around you. This week we’ll talk about enacting the real you instead of a thought-based fake you. Let us begin by introducing you to your soul.

Souls are the attractive force in the universe. Souls are like spiritual gravity. If it was up to soul then All that ever is or was would be united. Ego is the repellant force. Ego is the one that pushes things away. Ego creates separateness just as soul creates unity. Egos approve or disapprove, they rank right over wrong, good over bad, and me over you. Egos judge. Your soul allows. It always approves, it always accepts. Egos think and emote, souls feel and connect.

What this looks like in everyday life is this: a woman is home alone, depressed about her lonely state, feeling unfocused, and she’s attacking herself in her thoughts and she vows to never inflict herself on society until she’s fixed her broken self. She is trapped by her ego.

1089-relax-and-succeed-no-matter-what-youre-doingA few months later the same woman could then be functioning from a soulful place. Without the noisy intrusions of her ego she feels whole. Her alone-time feels rich and peaceful. Rather than attack herself, she nurtures her deepest self. And because she gives herself this peaceful time, she can sense that tomorrow she will feel like reconnecting with the outside world again, and so she finds herself motivated and inspired to make contact with others to arrange more connections.

The point this week will be to explain in detail as to why the second woman should be seen as being at peace while the first woman should been seen as terribly violent. Physical violence also fits in this expanded idea of violence, but the best way to fix physical violence is to stop metaphysical violence and so we’ll focus on that.

Our first step in doing this will be for you to become more aware of your violent behaviour. And we won’t shy away from calling it violent. I’m sure you dislike being referred to that way, so that’s good. If you don’t like the feeling then you’ll want it to go away, and since the only way to do that is to be nonviolent–voilà.

1089-relax-and-succeed-when-you-call-yourselfYou and a friend are in a book club. You meet to discuss your latest book. They say they loved it and you hated it. A violent person might say, “I can’t believe you would like that piece of crap. I think that might be the worst book I’ve ever read.” The violent person’s ego challenges the person’s credibility, then they define their taste as inferior, and then they insult something their friend just described as beloved. That’s pretty violent.

Same situation. A non-violent person might say, “I am so glad someone found a way into this book to enjoy it. I found it inaccessible, so I’m extra-interested in the discussion group tonight. I want to expand my perspectives so that next time I could draw more value from a work like this.” That is grateful, congratulatory, humble, inviting and optimistic, and yet it also conveys that they did not enjoy the book. That person is nonviolent.

Today your meditation is simple: For as many as you can be aware for, try to assess whether a conversation is violent or nonviolent, (whether you’re in it or not). Moreover, whenever it’s reasonably possible, see if you can alter the conversation to move it in a more nonviolent direction.

1089-relax-and-succeed-love-joy-love-faith-love-unityYou will have achieved success with this meditation when you either stop yourself from using violent phrasing and you switch it to a nonviolent statement, or when you manage to convert someone else’s violent discussion into a nonviolent one. Kudos if you do both.

This exercise will do wonders for your awareness and it will ask you to use the vision of your soul and not the filters of your ego. The more you practice it the simpler and clearer the world will become, and you will be profoundly nonviolent. To ensure you’ve fully grasped them, if you’re working with a partner, make sure to inform each other of what your conversions were.

Violent to nonviolent. Find one, alter it, and you will have done a lot toward your spiritual development and peace of mind. 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.

The World’s a Stage

The main stumbling block for most people is that they’re working toward the wrong thing. They want to attain enlightenment and be free of suffering. They want to be seen as wise and peaceful and beyond reproach. They imagine having no hassles. That’s what enlightenment is to most people: no hassles. Does that seem as lame as it actually is? Because that is a super lame definition of enlightenment. I totally understand that there’s good reasons people think that, but let’s clear up right away that it is totally wrong, and working toward that will just delay you in getting to where you’re really going.

495 Relax and Succeed - Authenticity is the daily practiceDo you think the people who know me would call me enlightened? A few would. But most would think that was ridiculous. And I don’t blame them because they, like you, don’t imagine someone like me when they imagine someone enlightened. They think the person should almost float and make no mistakes and speak in Asian rhythms. But that’s the TV version of enlightenment. The Dalai Lama often talks about his bad temper. So maybe you’re not so far from where he is after all, huh?

Real enlightenment is pure freedom. The freedom to have a view and the freedom to allow others to have theirs too. The freedom from replaying narratives about—or otherwise caring about—other people’s opinions or criticisms. The freedom to make mistakes and therefore the freedom from guilt. Enlightenment is satisfaction with yourself that you are a good person and any troubles are inadvertent and unintentional.

When you’re enlightened you may not like everyone but you do love everyone. So you allow them to be who they are, even when that person conflicts with who you are. Because the enlightened person knows that’s like two characters arguing in a stage in a play. It makes no sense for the actors to spend their night angry about the argument even after the play is over. It was the character’s argument. The character is just a set of beliefs you’re portraying. But being an individual is expressed through choices based on our beliefs, so in then end we’re all just slowly evolving patterns of choice. We’re all characters in life’s great movie.

The important part is, our beliefs were randomly dictated by the experiences we just happened to have in life. So if our choices are informed by our random experiences growing up, why take being that person so seriously? The role’s 60-90 years if you’re lucky. After that, no matter how good you were they write you out of the show. So since it’s all just for its own sake, why not just see life like Shakespeare suggested: “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

495 Relax and Succeed - All the world's a stageDon’t take yourself or other people too seriously and you’ll find life is quite enjoyable without any effort at all. And then you’ll realize that there are enlightened people around you. Not a lot of them, but there’s people that get it. People that have quiet non-judgmental ego-free minds. But most people live in a sea of their own instructions on how to get this or avoid that. They’re always wanting. Enlightened people don’t want. They Be. And there’s nothing you could want that could ever be as good as Be-ing. Not even no-suffering.

Don’t try to be calm and holy and perfect. Be human. Fully unapologetically human. Including your mistakes, misjudgments and misses. That is part of being human. Someone saying you can’t ever do that is like telling the person they can’t be human. No way. That’s not how it works. We’re all born with our humanity. It is ours. The rest is just people’s ideas and opinions.

So instead of being holy or righteous or sanguine, be your whole and complete self instead. Because that his what the universe is waiting for. Enjoy.

peace. s