Secular Sundays: Souls in Nature

1312 Relax and Succeed - Nature is generous to the soul

Time together in nature. It’s good for us if we’re able to achieve it. Our souls know the sky. And it’s a very nice temple to walk in.

Whether it’s what we eat, or how and when and with whom we eat it, or if it’s walks outside or time with a book, we must ensure that we are not expecting our minds to compensate for a life that is drastically out of a balance in terms of expenditures of energy versus opportunities for rejuvenation.

I too am expending a lot of life energy in balancing many serious responsibilities so I can relate to the need to find opportunities to actively cultivate peace. As hard as it can be at times, we all must make room to rest or else everything will become even more stressful.

Rest is not a selfish luxury of ego; that’s called sloth. That’s what we do when we deny the world our love and capability. Contrary to that, rest is what a healthy mind needs to sustain its hold on equanimity and enthusiasm for life.

To that end, for those readers who are located in Edmonton, I am looking at doing Sunday walks that would be around various trails in the city, with the walks built around the idea of shared experience with our natural world. These might be 90 minutes in length, with maybe 20-30 minutes spent lingering here or there before or after for some discussion. It will be very informal.

Depending on whether there’s just a few of us or more, maybe a short talk might start the process, but it would be more to walk and Be together, and maybe I can answer some questions along the way.

I suspect they would start some time in June. If you’re in Edmonton and would like to be part of these proposed Sunday spiritual walks, send me an email to the address below and on the first Sunday that I start the walks I will let you know where we can meet to begin.

scottis@relaxandsucceed.com

Whether there are many or I pick the wrong week and end up walking alone, even if only for a short time, I am very much looking forward to getting back into Edmonton’s forest system to reconnect with all that is around us. Maybe I’ll see you there. Happy trails.

peace, s

Sanctuary

1077-relax-and-succeed-breatheYou have imagined sanctuaries but you likely have imagined something other than what your soul needs. You believe you need to get away from your life to some deserted island before you can get some peace and rest, but you can also do that by diving deeper into your own life.

You’ve been sending your consciousness out into the world over the last several meditations. Rather than spinning within yourself like a whirling ego storm you’ve worked to remember how to be a kid and open yourself up. Rather than swirling destructively within yourself you’re sending your consciousness outward, where it is more like a breeze from which valuable dreams can be snatched.

You’ll have put a lot of energy in your life and into improving yourself. Studying, practising, repeating, doing, going, enduring, strengthening, striving, reaching and working are all other names we put around the concept of improvement. But how much energy have you invested on slowing down? How much value have you placed on being quiet inside, or still, or empty?

1077-relax-and-succeed-all-of-us-need-time-to-be-boredIf you’re a parent, look at your kids: how much of your time is invested in helping them learn how to do things versus organising their life to also very consciously include opportunities to develop peace? Tranquility? Being alone? Listening skills? Or even the endurance required for boredom? How many opportunities for that did your parents give you?

If you were fully grown up before the internet showed up then you had a childhood where a lot of your time was your own. You would have found plenty of opportunities to relax and have Calvin and Hobbes-type conversations. If you’re still in the workforce today, have kids today, or if you are a kid who was born before 1970, then you have seen the steady devaluation of free time and peace of mind. Today’s it’s a badge of honour to be busy, when that’s a sign that things are going poorly, not well.

You can’t fit too much life in and live it deeply and fully. That’s like spending fifteen minutes at ten parties a night and then saying that you see your friends a lot. They’re not checkboxes, they’re people. You can’t download their history, their state of mind, or your own awareness and the natural sense of compassion that accompanies it. The only thing that’s useful with them or with yourself is presence. And yet….

1077-relax-and-succeed-the-most-wasted-of-all-daysYou’re an expert at not being present. You think you can multi-task. You can do. You consider doing so important that doing gets its own category: The To-Do List. But is there a not-to-do list? Is free time part of your schedule? Is it a priority? No, we live in a cult of efficiency. Today your worth is calculated based on what you’ve done, not who you’ve helped; especially if that’s yourself.

Today’s assignment is for you to create some actual peace. This is one of the most serious meditations so far: divide the day into your morning, your afternoon and your evening. Within the framework of each add an opportunity for peace. Each day provide an opportunity that is at least fifteen minutes long. One quarter of one hour out of each six, and then at least six to sleep (which is like another meditation). That’s only 1/24th of the three sections you’re awake for. Surely you can put that toward your mental health.

You can watch cat videos, look through old photo albums that lead to happy feelings, you can listen to peaceful music, go for a quiet walk, laugh, sit in the library and just watch people without judgment, concentrate on the people in your life that you love, or even peruse the Relax and Succeed page since that’s what it’s there for. All you’re seeking is a quiet mind with good feelings but no words.

1077-relax-and-succeed-people-will-do-anythingYou’ll feel resistance. You’ll feel the pull of your ego. It’ll taunt you saying things like you don’t have time for this, or how’s this going to help you? or whatever. Yak yak yak. It’s always there commenting. So what? You’re ego’s an idiot. It sees all kinds of limitations that aren’t really there, it talks you out of lots of great experiences and it runs you down regularly. Your ego is no friend to you so certainly don’t let it talk you out of dedicating yourself to something that is both so easy and so beneficial.

Set them. Get serious about them. Maintain them with the dedication you apply to the important things in your life like money or your phone. Set all of that aside and remember how to be. Because you’re not really sick or broken or lost, you’re just doing instead of being. So practice being. Start now.

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.

Good Feelings Bad Feelings

You might think you want to be happy all of the time but in reality you would not enjoy that. In fact you wouldn’t even be aware that there was anything to enjoy unless you had something to compare it to. The only reason you can see these black letters is because they are on this white page. So you need both things, hence the idea of Yin and Yang. But while you may require both for existence to happen, you nevertheless will have emotional states you prefer. So rather than saying an emotion is good 659 Relax and Succeed - If you are too excitedor bad it would be better to describe them as emotions you enjoy for long periods, and emotions that derive their value from their rarity.

It can feel really, really good to have a good cry and yet no one wants to be depressed. We all love the feeling of falling in love but the very nature of it demands that it come to an end in one way or another, so in a way we are setting ourselves up for pain and disappointment by pursuing that joy. I love my parents dearly and so when I lose them it will be painful, whereas I have friends who had terrible parents and they were relieved when they were gone. For every positive feeling there’s a negative one. The trick for us is to stay conscious about what we’re entertaining within our consciousness so we can spend more time with the feelings we enjoy. We just don’t want to entirely lose touch with the value of our more poignant or intense feelings.

The world will always have its Yin and Yang. As a monk on a train once lead me to conclude that the secret of life is that everything changes. So how this works is that when things are good you should be grateful because it will change. And if things are going badly, don’t worry too much because it will change. So you can see in that equation 659 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing good or badthat there are still bad feelings, but they are inextricably connected to this Yin and Yang circle of existence. Each needs the other much like a wave is made of a trough and a peak and yet you cannot separate the two parts.

Do you see then that this is how you listen to songs, read books, or go to the movies or watch TV? You volunteer to be scared or worried or angry or sad and you do this because the nature of the program allows you to accept the idea that this pain is limited. You’ll only suffer for a maximum of a couple of hours and then the movie will end. This act of acceptance happens in your head and is the act of not thinking about an alternative. So the reason you like movies more than your life is because you’re not in a movie theatre thinking, I’m really scared in this horror and I want to go home! Because you know you went for the thrills! And it’s just like that with the rest of your life.

You’ve already lived all of the perfect lives. This is the one you chose to live Now. If you genuinely accept the dramatic, sad or torturous parts of life then you also get to experience the most wonderful joys. It’s a package deal, the only problem is you keep wasting your peak by complaining that you want a wave without a trough. You think that resisting thought over and over. You wonder how it might be or how it would have been. You do not accept now for now. You do not see your life as a 659 Relax and Succeed - If only we would stop tryingtheatrical display in the way you see the movie. And so you take it more seriously and that leads you to suffer more in the real world. And you’re doing it by experiencing the very same feeling that you’ll happily pay for at a theatre!

Start seeing your life less as a competition or pursuit for happiness. Be content instead. Be fine where you are. Offer no resisting thoughts to the moment you are in and you will discover that a wonderful peace is waiting for you there in that mental silence. Quiet your arguments about how you wish things were and watch your own life like a movie instead. Enjoy all of it, the good parts and the bad. Because when you can do that you are free of most of the agonies in this world and that is a beautiful thing.

peace. s

The End of Becoming

So you want to conclude your journey. You want to be done, complete, finished. You want to graduate, and Become Aware. You want to Be Enlightened; to merge as one with the Light in everlasting Godly heaven forever and ever.Relax and Succeed - The Stopping of becoming - FG Cloud 4 - framed

No you don’t.

That would be boring. Do you see kids at Halloween asking to be a white light that beams love and Oneness? I mean okay, you sort of are that, but that’s not what this is all about. You’re not in some course where you graduate and Become Enlightened. Enlightenment is a verb, and as Yoda told Luke, if you’re trying then you can’t get there. Because trying implies a tryer, and the moment you have distinctions between things—the moment there’s a You and an Outside world—you are out of the State of Enlightenment.

In an emergency a hero isn’t thinking, “Oh I will save this other person’s life.” They are simply being in the moment and they are responding to the universe authentically. So if a guy doing CPR can be in an Enlightened State, then that’s way more interesting than being a boring white light. That’s a nice home to come from, but the adventure of a lifetime is out on the road. You might as well have fun. There’s no winning or losing at life. To Be or Not To Be. That is the only question.

2 Relax and Succeed - For my part I know nothingThere is no way for you to spend any real time Being that white light because there is no way for any aspect of the Universe to Know the whole Universe. There is no God-Perspective for you to attain. You’re not trying to achieve some magical life, you’re supposed to realize that the one you’re already living is magical.

You have enormous possibilities for fun and excitement but you keep thinking in the same old patterns. This is the person I chose to date, this is the job I chose to earn a living, this is the living I believe I need to earn to live “my” life. Real success isn’t getting anything, it isn’t achieving anything, it isn’t owning anything, conquering anything and it isn’t loving anyone specific. Success is when you understand how reality is created and through that understanding you are able to love everyone and everything you encounter as an experience.

So let’s talk about loving. Sometimes loving is hard. When someone’s dying love can be painful. When you have to show tough love with an addict it can be very hard for both people and it can lead to our most painful decisions. And you can truly love a movie or a song even though it has some really, really sad parts in it. So to love your life—to enjoy your life—you don’t need to be happy all the time nor would you want to be happy all of the time. You just need to enjoy the ride. Like Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

2 Relax and Succeed - In the end what matters mostYou’re not supposed to be okay all of the time. Imagine watching that play. Booooorrrrrriiiiing. Instead, you’re supposed to be okay with not being okay. That’s what that Buddha dude meant when he said that the acceptance of suffering is the end of all suffering. If you just consider it part of life then you accept it (Accept: another big Buddhist word). It’s like the weather—some people choose to complain about it, some people don’t. Some people live with some troublesome weather, others live with the same weather but they add bitching to it. The weather you must accept. The bitching is a judgmental illusion you chose to superimpose over the weather in the confines of your own mind.

As we go forward I’ll be giving you very specific instructions on how to accept and forgive and I can be very specific about how you can easily have all the confidence you want. I won’t have to be hazy or nebulous or ambiguous about how to get there because it’s very easy and very obvious once someone who can actually do it points it out to you. I’ve done this for a lot of people now and there is no reason I won’t do it for you. This isn’t hard. This is your nature.

I hope you’ll join us for some of the journey.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.