Protecting Others

No one needs help when life feels like it’s going great, and yet that’s a great time to study wisdom because you have a lot more to do with your good times than you realise. Understanding your responsibility for your emotions when you feel good about them is generally much easier than when you’re in pain.

People don’t want to assume the responsibility for their own bad days because when they first look at the idea they’re viewing it from ego, not from health. Your ego sees that responsibility as a status drop and it feels embarrassing. When you’re healthy you know that with the responsibility you get empowerment.

Accepting that your pain is generated by you and not your circumstances means you can then control your response. Maybe you don’t know how yet, but theoretical control over your personal experience of life is still better than the capricious nature of happenstance.

Leaving the quality of your day up to others is dangerous primarily because most of the other people you’ll meet will be in a state of ego, so they’ll be looking out for their ego and its status, not yours. In that state they’ll only care for you if they see some transactional gain. The only people you’d be safe around (most of the time) would be really healthy people. But if you are one of the healthy people then it’s like you’re inoculated.

The first thing you can do is try not to enter a situation with your gun already loaded. A trigger being pulled by circumstance is far less dangerous if you’re not walking around ready to go off. Any potential explosive reactions from your previous experience must be unloaded from your consciousness or it’s like going into a trigger-happy town with a fisst full of explosives. One shot from another person and you’ll blow big-time.

The second thing you can do is focus your attention on the importance of maintaining an empty chamber. If you can start with your emotional gun being empty and benign, and you add no bullets, that makes any triggers meaningless. But if you participate in the kind of resistant thinking that leads to you load up your weapon during an interaction, then even if you arrived empty you’re just making it more likely that someone’s going to get shot.

The third thing you can do is keep to actively unload your emotional gun then holster it in real time. This is the part people have more trouble with because they’re in a heightened state of emotion when they try. But the more you do it the better you get at it. In fact, how you behave when things are bad is much more important than how you behave when things are good.

When there are zero triggers you can be more relaxed about the state of your gun. But you can’t count on that, so you’re better to stay conscious. In fact, expanding and developing skills like awareness and de-escalation are what egos basically do in life, though they often do so unconsciously and unintentionally.

That’s what life is. We either learn to be more assertive about defending our true selves or we become less assertive about defending our ego selves. And we learn by trial and error. So life is one big long giant accidental emotional gunfight where it looks bad, but secretly everyone’s actually making an effort to be more peaceful, which makes forgiveness a very useful skill.

There’s no need to panic about the shots you fire because like everything else they only exist for a moment. At the same time, some shots can be fatal to a relationship, so we also don’t want to be overly casual about how important the management of our consciousness is. If we can get conscious enough, we can even turn the shots we take into opportunities for healing.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a time where I pulled the trigger and shot angry words at one of the most important people in the world to me. Fortunately a high degree of awareness allowed me to immediately regret it and, even more fortunately, my immediate assumption of responsibility allowed the moment to not only be saved, but in the end we were better for the experience. In the world of peace it’s possible to convert negatives into positives.

For today, I’d just check in with yourself every 15 minutes or so and ask yourself about the status of your gun. Let’s see if we can all avoid shooting someone for the 24 hours it’ll take us between now and tomorrow’s post. Have 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 organizations locally and around the world.

Expanding Perspectives

1071-relax-and-succeed-you-choose-your-attitudeIn yesterday’s meditation, how many of you noticed that virtually all of you would have started off only noticing one kind of reality change? Most of you either picked all internal or all external on day one. If you picked a mixture, congratulations. That’s a sign of health. Of course, you would have to do a test like this on a variety of occasions to see if that was your set-point, or just the state of mind you were visiting that day, but in general all new self-awareness is helpful.

If you chose three internal changes on day one then you feel better when you take action in the world. Overall that’s great, except you will feel worse when you can’t take action. You’re the group that doesn’t like waiting. You feel uncomfortable with the unknown. The more consistently you’re in that group the more consistently you’ll avoid not-knowing and your problems will start there.

1071-relax-and-succeed-the-day-you-decide-thatIf you chose three external changes on day one and you haven’t recently suffered from something like PTSD, then that choice is your first indication that your brain can sometimes have a tendency to see itself as against the world.  If the world seems to always be dumping unwanted changes on you, then it’s helpful for you to know that your mind was innocently wired in a way that will lead you feeling victimised. That’s useful information, but it’s not like it prevents you from accomplishing your objective.

Whether through security or insecurity, most of us want to chart our own path. We want control over the variables so we can maximise our performance. For that reason, on day one most of you thought of when you impacted the world. Day two was when when most people started thinking of the forced changes. Those are the ones you didn’t expect or want. A partner left you, you lost a job, you were forced to leave your home, you lost a support system etc.

These are the times your brain was asked to be someone new rather than deciding it wanted to be someone new. And it didn’t like it. While there are degrees of this, sudden external changes are forms of PTSD, which essentially means you have a brain wired for a situation you’re not in.

1071-relax-and-succeed-let-your-pastObviously being in your home with many common things around you and a consistent job can make the PTSD of a lost relationship easier. On the flipside, some soldier in some foreign land without their loved ones for support and few familiar mental touchstones means that the PTSD would be more dramatic and thorough.

We all prefer the enacted changes because when you make a change you’ve been slowly rewiring your brain for some time and your big day is the day you start using that wiring to do something significantly bigger in the outside world (leave your relationship, your job etc.). In short, you’re ready for your change. It’s like the IT department got everyone’s computer ready before the big switch.

The opposite of that is when you suddenly need a whole system of brain wiring that you don’t yet have. That feels unnerving and you feel off balance. It would make sense for you to be more easily frightened and unstable during that time. Do you see the comfort in that? It makes sense that you’re uncomfortable. Already that’s an improved state if discomfort. At least it seems logical.

1071-relax-and-succeed-people-are-capable-at-any-timeIn this week’s meditations, most of you would have started with internal changes. Those are ones you’re proud of. They’re the ones where you felt stronger afterwards. They also feel more like they belong to you because you chose them. That’s an important distinction. You own the ones you choose better than you own the ones that weren’t your choice. We’ll be more focused on the ones you don’t want.

The desire to know and the act of avoiding mystery will often cause more trouble in your life than resisting the original experience. For this reason, in today’s meditation your job is to find two of each. If you find more, great, it all helps. But give your partner a breakdown of at least two choices you made that didn’t go well, and two that were forced on you where you ended up leaving you better off.

Study your own life closely. We want to disconnect the idea that life is better when you know what’s going to happen. Because if we study it long enough, you’ll accept that that simply isn’t true. And that unexpected news is unexpectedly good news.

Do your meditation then relax and have a great day. You took a helpful step forward.

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.

Hosting Problems

It’s always a challenge trying to explain what I do to people before they learn it. As I’ve said before, I’m like some strange three-dimensional guy talking to a bunch of two-dimensional beings about the idea of over. Until you can see it it really isn’t there to be seen, so rather than going over the challenge you want it gone altogether. Instead of navigating life you get stuck arguing over the shape of the landscape because it doesn’t match your expectations of how you expected the two-dimensional map in your head to feel.

Thanks to the confusion described above, people end up coming to me because they want their problems fixed. That makes sense, except for the fact that there’s obviously no care provider who can fix all of your problems. There are however a few that know how to shift your perspective so that you can be in a headspace where there is no such thing as a problem, and strangely that’s even better than solving a problem. In fact, that makes you almost not want to solve it, but rather surf it.

So what’s the difference between me and you? Nothing; it’s what we’re doing, not who we are. I don’t have capabilities you don’t have, but it’s true I’m functioning on a more flexible plane where I have greater freedom and that would largely go for any of my students who earnestly complete the process. Even now, it’s pretty easy for me to point to the un-reality of what you believe now.

You have problems and we don’t, so what’s the difference? You see us from the outside and it looks like we hit rough times too, so why are they so different from this other perspective? Resistance.

What you call a “problem” is really just resistance, and resistance is just a conversation you have in your head with yourself about wishes. But I don’t so much get people to stop all of the words their ego uses to assemble their problems, those words just become more ephemeral and less meaningful, almost like a plane moving through clouds. From the ground they block the view upward, but the plane gets up there and proves it’s not the sky that’s gone dark; the sky’s still waiting on the other side of all of the what-if cloud-making we do.

Once you have a different understanding of reality it makes no sense to push against it with resistant words. It’s like a kid screaming for something the parent knows is impossible, like retrieving a helium balloon that’s floated away. The parent’s not crying because the whole thing makes sense to them. They know they’re not in a helium is heavier than air universe so they’re not telling themselves a story where they bother imagining that they could recover the balloon. The parent isn’t stopping words; the idea just makes no sense.

So this is why this blog can point but it cannot guide because there is no route to this understanding. You don’t find your way there; you realise you already are there, and that is a leap that happens within your mind. It can happen without someone pointing, it’s just a lot easier when someone actually knows where you’re going. This isn’t something you can learn in school, you must be lead toward the personal internal experiences that will show you this truth.

It’s not hard. It’s very accessible. But you won’t do it if you currently trade socially with your suffering, and you won’t do it by reading someone else’s notes on it. The only way to do this is to study your own internal processes. Only you can walk this mileage. The only question is, how long will you resist before you start trading useless talking and self-talking about what you want, for the act of diving into yourself with the expectation that there already peace and understanding within you?

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 Friday Dose #129: Mindfulness

1013-fd-relax-and-succeed-resistance-is-futileStaying vigilant about our thinking can be a challenging thing. My accident gave me a huge advantage in that there was a distinct separation between me and my thinking, but I know when I jam the two together that they feel like one thing, so I suspect that’s what it feels like for everyone else most of the time. As ephemeral as it is, all I really do in my work is create some distance between souls and egos.

One way to create some distance and to slow down that process is to study it closely and break it down into its component parts. It’s like a drummer learning a new beat. You have to do it super slowly, super slowly and then build the wiring and build the wiring until you can go faster and faster and faster until it’s natural.

Since our mental health is tied to us accepting rather than resisting the universe as it is, a good candidate for study is complaining. Complaints are pure resistance. They’re either internal resistance thoughts, or spoken external ones, but they’re resistance either way. A man recently tried going only 21 days without complaining and he found it very difficult. That said, he also did notice a shift in himself in only those 21 days. I would suggest that this would be a beneficial process for everyone to undertake.

Here’s a link to an interview with the author, and here’s Michael J. Fox on how your circumstances can appear worse than average and yet your life is better than average. It’s really only a question of how much resistance you choose to produce.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone because, despite your genuine challenges, in many ways you’re still more fortunate than a lot of the world. Enjoy that.

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.

Spiritual Courage

976 Relax and Succeed - You must understand the whole of lifeYour ego is scared. It’s quite telling that I’ve never had a blog read less than yesterdays. It wasn’t disliked, it was barely even read. That’s not only statistically bizarre, it cuts to the point of the entire post: If you want to get healthy without having to make sacrifices of ego (not real sacrifices) then you’re reading the wrong blog. If you want someone to lie to you and tell you there’s an effortless, glorious way through this then you’ll have to read someone else, I’m here to actually help.

This blog’s like Krishnamurti: it tells the hard clear truths. They’re still beautiful truths once you see them from a different perspective, but if people want to grow without facing their own personal resistance then they’re really better hanging out with friends or going to a funny movie than they are to read a blog that will tell you that you can have it all. You realise the Dalai Lama lives in exile and he struggles with his temper, right?

Monks make sacrifices to grow, people get cancer and grow, people meditate long and hard and grow and some people are just so busy doing things that they never have time to ask themselves if things are good are bad, they always simply are and it turns out that’s pretty close to enlightenment. They certainly aren’t afraid of a blog that might tell them that they’re hiding from their responsibilities to themselves, to those around them and to their spirituality.

976 Relax and Succeed - This is my secretThere’s a saying about tribes that commonly states: if you want to know how to grow just look across the fire and find something you dislike about another person and then find the source of that dislike within yourself. Do the same with these blog posts. Why do you have that resistance? Why do those ideas upset you? What about your life is out of alignment with your spiritual self? Because the real you is huge and capable.

What do they do on guided LSD or Ecstasy treatments for trauma and depression? They make you walk toward your fears. Heard of ayahuasca? You puke, you get chased by jaguars and people are terrified–it’s stressful. But that’s your ego being stressed. Your spirit is always fine. These are events restricted to your personal consciousness. The whole point is to detach your identity from your experience so that you can simply have experiences without judging them. That is what acceptance is.

You can hide from all of this for decades. I known spiritual seekers who’ve been busy at this for 30 years and gotten nowhere because every time it gets hard they panic and pull out. In return they get to have bookcases filled with spiritual texts and yet they live tiny, frightened timid lives as though love can only look like birthday cake and not your Mom yelling at you not to cross the street when it’s dangerous.

976 Relax and Succeed - One is never afraidYou’ve heard it from many sources; you must kill your ego. To do that you must face it and dissolve it. You must disassemble its counter-arguments leaving yourself in internal silence. Without your ego’s arguments and excuses you would be free and those arguments and excuses are meaningless to anyone but another ego. It’s not me that’s being hard on you it’s you. And by turning away from a challenge rather than toward it you not only don’t grow, you shrink.

Timid people who are missing out on life are in far worse shape than someone crashing and burning by moving forward. Business-people who are looking for the perfect decision never make one. Successful people make them as best as they can and if they go wrong they take new action in that new moment to rectify that. Anything else is spiritual stagnation and, as you may have noticed, it’s painful.

I care about each and every one of you in a way that you cannot imagine from an ego’s perspective. It’s not me that’s beating you down by telling you the truth, that’s the feeling you’re getting from the resistance you’re creating inside. I talk to your spirit. It’s the one creating your ego like a shadow of itself. I just talk to it and you slowly remember who you really are and that healthy spirit grows and grows until there is no more room in your consciousness for an ego, you’re too busy being awake and alive.

976 Relax and Succeed - The ability to observe without evaluatingDon’t read quotes you like, focus on the ones you don’t like. Don’t shy away from the blogs–mine or anyone else’s–that make you angry. Anger is the reaction of ego. Anger is born of fear. I’m fine with you being afraid of the death of your ego because that makes sense. But you don’t get healthy by reorganising your existing ideas, you get healthy by challenging them and replacing them with something better.

Move toward your fears. There is nothing to be worried about. You are always safe. Every action you take takes places in the palm of the universe. You cannot fall. No matter which way you topple, the universe will catch you. So be brave. Be bold. Your life is on the other side of the doors you are afraid to open. And no matter what you find there, you will still be loved.

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.

Resistance to Happiness

865 Relax and Succeed - If you are brave enoughIsn’t it strange? You’ll know a certain course of thought hurts. It’ll be as painful as physical pain. And you likely even caught yourself doing it and yet you didn’t go try to conjure up your Dominant Positive Emotion. So when you didn’t switch to being happier–why did you resist? Or do you not recognize your resistance in the word  “…but…”

The “but” is there because you you have attachments and so that means that you believe some thoughts weigh more than others. There are ones you can toss out easily, like deciding to have the salad instead of the soup at lunch. But the difficult ones are about subjects that you feel matter.

By “matter” I mean you have an attachment you want to maintain. Something that’s considered important is just something you value more than other things precisely because you believe it is more important to your happiness. But people will be terrible at making this calculation in the heat of too much thinking / rationalising. We’ve all seen people return to extremely unhealthy relationships and put up with abusive bosses or continue damaging habits etc.

865 Relax and Succeed - If you still talk about itNothing from outside of you creates your happiness. You must abandon this one idea: that your happiness is delivered to you externally by external experiences. Until you do that you will hand over the responsibility for your own joy to someone else. You’ll expect them to make you happy instead of remembering to do that yourself. It’s a lot easier to have a successful marriage by being a happy partner rather than having a happy partner. As I’ve written before: we feel the love we give, not the love we get.

So you’ll see when you encounter these things that you’ll pass over the idea of stopping those thoughts. Those are important thoughts you’ll tell yourself. If someone said stop thinking right then you would say “but…” If there’s a “but” in your talking and it’s there to defend more thinking or more talking or more pain that’s actually fine. It just means you’re going to use your imagination and creativity to create pain for yourself rather than enjoyment. You will want rather than appreciate. You have freedom. The universe will let you do that.

You can ask the universe for anything. For your spouse not to leave you, to end your money woes, for your health to turn around–but while you’re busy wanting you will be actively generating your own voluntary suffering. For a better life you don’t need a bunch of external changes, you need one subtle internal change. You need to see that each and every day your experience of that day is psychological and that you don’t have a day, you feel one.

865 Relax and Succeed - There comes a dayThe best way to achieve a lot is to have a positive mental mindset and then be active. You don’t have a lot of control over your day but you do have a lot of control over your thinking. No, you won’t be exercising that control all the time, especially this quickly. But that doesn’t matter because the biggest step you’ll take in this journey is just leaving on the road to study your own thoughts and the patterns in your thinking.

I’ve worked with lots of people who were told they had Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)–a new disorder that was fairly recently invented. Before that some people just complained a lot about winter. Now there was a pill for it. Someone thought cleverly about ending their money problems and they realized that they could do that by convincing you that your happiness could be restored by a pill and that what made you sick was the location of the Earth relative to the Sun. Something you can do nothing about. That was sure convenient for a drug company.

865 Relax and Succeed - Go 24 hours without complainingSome people had parents who had extremely resistance thoughts about winter and they taught some of their kids to conjure those resistant thoughts too. End of story. The people who tell themselves healthy cuddly cozy stories about the cold like the Norwegians do will always be happier than some person bitching in a street half as cold in Canada. Because it’s not the cold that hurts us–it’s our resistance. Our resistance to what Is. Thinking is resistance. Trust yourself. Stop the thinking. Stop the resistance. Surrender and accept. From there all you have to do is switch from wanting to appreciating and you’re miles ahead.

Take 24 hours–until you read my next post–and use that time to notice your resistance. Note the things you’re resistant about. Try to determine what things you’re valuing in your life in what ways and how that leads to your suffering. Follow these strands of thought and you will see they are tied to nothing. You always are and always have been free. So you can be happy. Because if you’re reading this then you’re definitely on the way to being a soul that lives itself out in freedom.

Now go use the focus of your attention to hoover-in whatever you see to appreciate. That simple act will lead you to a wonderful day. Do that more often than not and you have a wonderful life. Enjoy. 😉

peace. s

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

The Good Life

140 Relax and Succeed - Meditation is a surrenderYou want to be strong. You want to be capable. You want to choose a path and you want to walk it with determination. You want to get somewhere, accomplish something, become someone. You’re thinking about what you’ve been taught is good and right and successful; and you have been taught about the pitfalls you should worry about: being bad, being wrong, or failure itself. And you are trying to make your way though this maze of words and ideas to your destination. Your doorway. You are passing the test of goodness that will gain you some reward. Right?

Ah, no.

Sri Ramana Maharshi said it nicely: You carry heaven and hell within you. Look, even if you’re looking from deep within a religion, the Kingdom of Heaven is an eternal place. It has existed for all time, and it will last for all time. I’m good with that idea. But we have to see this “place” as a state of mind within ourselves. Because if heaven and hell are eternal, that means they are happening right now. They don’t start when you die—that’s a bit arrogant. None of us are so important that our personal death suddenly incites the existence of Nirvana.

Heaven always exists and it lives inside of you, but you can’t see it because you are trying to negotiate your way through the words, and the ideas that the words construct. You are stumbling through words like good and healthy etc. etc. etc. With the best of intentions you are surrendering every Holy Moment in the pursuit of Holy Moments. You turn your back on God to try to find God.

The basis of everything, the energy of life—the source of your Being—is the Oneness that is God. You don’t need to be religious to experience that. You just need to lower your barriers. You have all of these ideas and identities built within yourself that prevent you from meeting the universe holistically.

If God-energy comes to you in the form of a friend, you accept it. If it comes to you in the form of a powerful sunset you will stop to simply witness the God-energy being itself. If it comes to you in the form of a book or piece of music you love, you will call it inspired, and in that you mean inspired from the great beyond—from the formless awesomeness of that which is the basis of everything. To these things you are receptive, and open, and clear.

But if God-energy comes to you in the form of an enemy, or an obstacle, or a challenge, you suddenly turn your back on God; you stop your worship of all that Is and you instead shift to rejecting what the God-universe has wrought. You get picky. You get personal. Only certain forms of God will do. And yet your salvation lies not in embracing what you already love, it lies in embracing what you cannot recognize as an aspect of yourself.

140 Relax and Succeed - The spiritual journeyCan you imagine that some people see you as difficult? Can you imagine that some see you as an enemy? That some people find you troublesome, or incomplete, or ineffective? And yet, have you ever tried to be any of those things? Of course not. You were just doing what you were doing, and occasionally another boat got swamped by your wake, or even impacted by the conflict between their course and yours. But everything is God, and so the accident is too.

Without accidents and problems there would be no heroes. Without wars no war brides and no baby boom. Whether you have the war or don’t, all sorts of lives will be lost. There are no one-sided coins. Stop trying to find your way out of life through words and symbols. Stop trying to negotiate with concepts and ideas about reality. Stop trying to become something you’re not, and start enacting what you are.

You are a divining rod. Your feelings are a guidance system. They will take you where they will take you. There is no wrong place to go. There are only words that make aspects of the God-energy appear to be wrong, or unattractive, or unappealing, but even the negative words are made of the God-energy, so you can see how futile it is to battle against them.

140 Relax and Succeed - Be content with what you haveThe only reason you want to figure out the words and the path is because you want to avoid the pain. You want to find a way through the maze of life without all the pain. This is why you must be lost before you can be found. It makes sense that you would want to avoid the pain.

As you spiritually mature you come to know that what you seek is impossible—it is a denial of many forms of the God-energy. This is the acceptance that The Buddha came to. He did not dispel suffering. He accepted it. He accepted it as a constant companion and, in doing so, it lost its power to control him. Because he was not trying to avoid it, he was able to go whichever directions he felt he should go.

Maybe you think a relationship is crazy. Maybe you think having a baby now is nuts. Maybe you’re worried you can’t afford to quit your job, or go on that trip. Maybe you wish you had a different past, or were set up for a different future. All of these things are ideas that control you because their existence tells you which way to go—which is away.

If most people look closely at their lives, they will see that much of what they enjoy today came from sources that appeared unlikely to provide joy. So it is with God-energy. There’s no point in second-guessing it. It’s too huge for that. Better to just relax and go along for the ride. Because letting go is what allows you to relax into what can only be called the good life.

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.