Egos and The Great Unknown

1051-relax-and-succeed-dont-look-for-me-in-human-shapeMy students/clients see me for one of two reasons; for psychological struggles and for spiritual growth. Part of the problem is that everyone gets taught to see our spiritual selves as separate from our psychological selves. In truth one is a product of the other, as ego is to soul.

They’ve recently been doing a lot of brain research and after all of these years they are now finally serious conversations by neuroscientists regarding the idea that our consciousness may not be a product of our brain but rather it may be a separate entity, as-yet undefined by science, that has a relationship with the brain but is not the brain itself. You’ll often see me referring to the electricity in your brain as being separate from your brain and I mean the same thing. The trick is there’s no words for some of these things and in a way we don’t want any.

Words are symbols and can be assembled into narrative stories that lead us to have emotional responses, but those responses are not reality, rather reality allows you to see your actions as both being from an individual, and the actions would exist within some kind of logical framework.

1051-relax-and-succeed-the-moment-i-am-awareYour spirit is a strange thing that is both small and immense at the same time. The reason that can be true is that it is simultaneously you and yet you are just one tentacle of the Universal Octopus; a beam of light from the Great Universal Mirror Ball. Everyone thinks that’s what they want: Enlightenment. But it’s not, trust me. Even if you get it you’ll immediately know you don’t want to stay there. Can you imagine it’s boring in a way?

Imagine feeling like God. That’s Enlightenment. But that all-powerful feeling that goes with that all-powerful energy in that all-powerful non-space is doing everything, and everything at once is like trying to watch every channel at once. Lots of it can be amazing but it’s not very enjoyable.

The individual seemingly linear lives that we lead are just the universe weaving paths through itself. You take the sense of infinity and you filter it into a world using some base concepts which also live within infinity. Once applied, they become like the six formulas that essentially describe our entire universe. That’s our “space” as humans. That’s our realm. That’s somewhere we can build a narrative track. We can appreciate our three dimensions but others we can only prove; we can’t experience them directly.

1051-relax-and-succeed-we-are-the-witness-through-whichThe problem has been that you want to control your character through the TV and you can’t do that. You can’t deal with a post-thought world and expect to accomplish anything except for when your ego happens to go the way you wished it would. But even that’s fine because the ego-world is where there’s up and down and winners and losers; that is like the playing field and those formulas are the rules and from there we’re free to roam, but it’s important to keep in mind you’re the actor not the role.

You’re not actually on TV, that’s a character. You’re the actor back in a studio performing that character. The rest is a transmission, reception and interpretation. Any good actor is fully invested in their role, so in relation to the other characters in this play called life, you can all take the words in the script literally. But once a performance is over it’s important for the actor to drop character and just be themselves, lest they go crazy.

You don’t have to figure everything out. You can’t. It’s too huge. Relax more. Just observe. Others. You. Just observe the game. Trust me, you’re part of the Great Void as well. You have unimaginable wisdom within you if only you’d quiet your thoughts so that you could hear the universe.

Go ahead. Genuinely try to win your life-games. But do not mistake that for your larger journey, for that would be like taking the entire life of an actor and reducing it down to a single role. You’re much bigger than that. 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.

Holding Onto Peace

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-world-is-full-of-magic-thingsRemember I told you earlier this week about my friend going through the enlightenment process? As expected, he’s had to circle in after a few days for a debrief. He’s starting to understand that he really has changed; that the glow he felt that night isn’t going away. He’s worried he’ll forget, and yet he can feel that fear isn’t really founded on anything. He can already see his fearful thoughts arising and they seem harmless.

Why this is confusing to him is that he’s currently aware enough that his ego can tell him something but now he hears it from this new clear-headed perspective. He knows those are just thoughts. So he feels in his nature compelled to be afraid because that’s what his ego did with anything worthwhile; it worried he would lose it. He had some significant confidence suddenly removed from him at a young age, so it makes sense that he has a fear of repeating those feelings.

His weird challenge now is that he hears these voices that he used to always do battle with, except now the big, real part of him is no longer believing the story of weakness so rather than being the battle we’re thinking, we’re more detached. We’re more a witness to it.

1042-relax-and-succeed-the-mind-that-perceivesSo now my friend can see how his ego used to conjure pain for himself and he can see himself trying to do that same thing about losing his wisdom. But whenever he tries to go to the habitual fear he can no longer maintain his belief in that fear. He knows now it comes from thought. Reacting to it seems silly now. He’s just worried he might start reacting like he used to.

I actually told him he most certainly would. Being enlightened doesn’t get him all yin and no yang, it makes him accept the yang and yin as two sides to one valuable coin, rather than opposites. The difference now is he’s seen the full circle. Now, if he’s desiring all good things then he knows that’s ridiculous and rather than being lost in jealousy or envy or some other egotistical pursuit, he just looks at himself like some innocent kid wanting something impossible. Now he sees those actions the same way I do. They no longer make sense.

He can take his thoughts seriously for a while now. He can get lost in ego for chunks of time. But you can’t forget things you know. You know your name, you know how to multiply numbers and you know who your dog is. Those aren’t things you can forget. Well he can’t forget this either. He’s seen the universe at too fundamental a level. When he looks at anyone now, they all just look like people who are strangely acting as though other people see their internal thoughts.

1042-relax-and-succeed-whenever-anything-negative-happensHe can see everyone trying to reconcile everyone else to their perspective, yet he can also see that each perspective is a separate reality describing a different manifestation of their own thoughts, very much as if two LSD patients compared their trips. That’s essentially what egos do when they try to reconcile realities. It looks that weird when you’re healthy.

Once you’ve seen the truth you still have to practice it to have it alive in your life. But that’s not work, that’s less work that living through ego, but the awareness is a kind of effort at the start. Eventually it becomes more natural to be that peaceful.

Right now my friend feels like he’s on the greatest, happiest holiday ever, and when his ego does show up it just panics that he might not get to stay. I told him that’s part of his journey. But he actually understood me when I explained that now he’ll like problems because he’ll know they’re not real and all he’ll do with them is take them apart like puzzles. And that alone is infinitely less painful than trying to treat them like they’re an objective reality.

My friend is done. He’s learned that big lesson. He has the key to the big secret now. From here on in it’s just how much he uses that key. But just like he didn’t lose it from when he was a baby, he can’t ever really lose it now either. His struggles are now games. It’s just so good it’ll take him a while to believe that the universe really is that generous and beautiful. It’s important for you to remember dear reader, the one thing you do share with my friend and I, is that you live together with us in that generous universe. Your only job after that, is to appreciate that fact as much as we do. Why not start today? What’s good about right 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.

Clinging vs Flow

1040-relax-and-succeed-wow-nothingA friend’s been taking tiny bits of my course whenever he gets lost, and last night he had the huge epiphany he’s been waiting for; the one where he understands deeply enough that he knows he’s always fine from here on in. And how’s this one different? Why’s he fine? Because he knows now that he can be fine even when he’s not fine. He can live that seeming paradox because now he’s got more dimensions to his universe.

How’d that happen? Hey, that’s a wonderful kind of magic I’d rather not even try to explain. From my perspective I just say the same simple thing a million times in different ways and eventually people hear enough parts of it that they realise I’m describing a diamond that they are only allowed to see a few facets of at a time. Later they realise that their entire life is just them travelling in no particular order around that infinite diamond and they’ll never see all of anyway so they might as well surrender.

Today my friend learned how to close the final gap through a surrendering in his understanding. He was clinging to an ego-tree in the forest of life. He was asking me what tree was his tree? What tree was the right tree for his spirit? I told him his spirit was something in motion. It could cling to an ego and sit still. It takes a lot of energy to avoid experiences by trying to cling to certainty.

1040-relax-and-succeed-you-hang-onto-your-painOur choices ultimately are that we can swing through the jungle on vines of belief in an area of the forest we know as our territory, or we can can try to own the territory by stopping our motion and by clinging to individual stationary trees. Our egos latch onto an attachment and we wonder what to do about it because suddenly we’ve lost the swinging motion and gravity feels heavier. So that was him. He’s cling to this tree saying, Scott, it really hurts holding onto this tree. How do you hold one so that it doesn’t hurt?

Hurting is holding. There’s no answer to his silly question. The answer is to start swinging again. He needs to stop sitting still trying to figure out why swinging felt better than clinging, he just needs to know from his experience that it’s true and then swing. His reality is just as good as anyone else’s. The rest is just churning around in our consciousness when we could be having fun.

Last night he said, what if I go the wrong way? I tell him there is no wrong way with swinging. You just swing. He says, what about the tension on the vine if I swing too far? I remind him that’s just the universe telling him not to swing so far. He shouldn’t get greedy about an experience. He must be willing to move from moment to moment fluidly, without an attachment to the current vine nor an expectation of the coming one.

1040-relax-and-succeed-i-cannot-teach-anybody-anythingYou can sit and worry about what’s happened. You can sit and worry about what might happen. Or, you can place your attention on the present moment and actually manage what is happening. One creates a rewarding life, the rest is clinging. You can pay attention to the vine or the tree. It’s always up to you. Heaven and hell.

What my friend did wasn’t amazing, although it felt so amazing he cried. It was just like I told him it was gonna be. It was like he realised that the keys he was looking for were in his hand already. He had trouble believing it it was so easy in the end. He realised everything I had told him was literally true if he just would have gone with me and made the leap. But he found his way the way everyone does; he found his own way and that was just perfect.

I can’t claim I was worried about him. I always knew he was fine. It’s like watching the sky worry about the weather. You wonder, why? You’re so huge, those clouds are so temporary. But thinking is clinging, so he sure thought he wasn’t fine for a while. He still will occasionally feel lost. But at least now he knows that even if I’m not around, he’ll always be able to get himself off the tree and back swinging forward on a vine. And that’s all you could ever really want for someone you love.

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.

Fully Being

Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #7

Depression is when you feel a long way away from your greatest self. Feeling great is when you feel in strong alignment with experience and sensation. The rewarding feelings happen when you are so busy taking in the world and offering your nature within it that you simply have no leftover life energy to put into thinking an ego-identity into existence.

911 Relax and Succeed - Follow your blissWe are not musicians in this metaphor. There is no gap between player and playing. Rather than thinking you’re struggling with broken strings or no instrument at all; we are all like musical chords floating through space, the quality of our tuning always depending on what parts of the universe we’re exposed to at that time.

It’s important to remember that the musical scales are born out of cultures just like our thinking is. That’s why music from some parts of the world will sometimes appear off-key to you. It’s not, it’s just your frame of reference; as though you’re looking to divide an inch down into quarter-inches but you only have a ruler with millimetres and centimetres. Nothing’s wrong, you just can’t divide reality up to match someone else’s perception. This is why things like understanding tend to help cultures relate and why the more people know a culture the more they’ll be comfortable with it.

Despite all of this there are some humans who can travel far and wide and like Buddhas they are understood everywhere they go. It’s as though their language is universal. They can relate to any scale you play. They are open, and playful and they are both meeting and leading you simultaneously because for them there is no you and them, there is only being. What people see as impressive is really simply someone Fully Being.

911 Relax and Succeed - You look ridiculousTwo excellent examples of this were David Bowie and Prince. I’ve written about them both before because their fame and lengthy success was directly tied to a special kind of spiritual success. Their drive to do what they did was them carefully listening to and acting upon that inner voice that we all have. It does not mean they avoided failures or challenges or hassles. But it does mean they lived fully, adding a great deal to the book of humanity.

If they thought up an outfit they made it or had it made. If they thought of a dance move they performed it in front of huge audiences. If they thought of a new song they presumed it had value and they pursued and developed it with the zeal of a palaeontologist, removing everything unnecessary until they were left with only the truth of the universe.

If they felt out of tune they sought out collaborators like themselves–people open and free who would meet them in that strange place outside society’s current thoughts. And any human can see that they are fully and thoroughly engaged in what they’re doing. Despite having enormous fame, that fame was always a result of their passions rather than being generated by going off track due to things like ego.

911 Relax and Succeed - Let yourself beThe strange thing is that you know people who do this very close to your life. Maybe they parent with the zeal, enthusiasm and heart of Prince. Maybe they do their job as well as Bowie did his. Maybe they’re a fantastic friend that seems both more helpful and less needy than any others. Maybe you feel that way about math, or architecture, or cement, or carpentry, or cooking, or even learning something bizarre and minor. Maybe you travel with that light in you. And it never matters how many people harmonise at any given time–it’s only about how pure that connection is.

You have dance moves you save for when you’re alone. Your singing voice is loudest when you’re in the car by yourself. You have ideas you’re too scared to share. You have aspects of yourself you keep hidden. You have fears about judgment. And so rather than living with the zeal of your heroes, instead you are like a religious person who worships someone else’s journey rather than taking your own.

You deny the divine qualities in yourself. You’re life isn’t unsatisfying because of failures or a lack of ability, you’re life is unsatisfying because you aren’t living yourself out large. You’re living in corrals and fences of words and ideas and because you believe in them you are hemmed in, constrained, confined and committed to stay in line.

911 Relax and Succeed - If you limit your choicesIt’s important to remember those fences are made of thought. Bowie ignored them. Prince ignored them. And you can too. They walked right through them and toward their real life. Yes, they got famous and we all know them. But what we recognise in them is our own greatest self, and so if we’re to pay homage to these inspiring souls, then the best way to do it would be to immediately become bold about your own life.

Forget the need to align yourself with others or society. You can still do that after you’re fully realised. But society will always make room when it recognises greatness, whether that person is a famous musician or just a kid who says they want to be an astronaut. So start asking yourself about your actual dreams. And once you remember them, forget your ego’s concerns about judgment and you’ll stop creating a fearful, tired, unsatisfied you and that will leave you free to live your life in full.

You don’t have to be on stage and famous to lead an inspired and exciting life. Whether you’re writing a letter, collecting stamps or raising your kid, you simply need to trust yourself and act on what you truly know. Are you ready? Let’s go.

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.

Internal Interventions

You have done the meditations and you’ve started to learn the act of switching emotions, the patience to decide if the emotion should be changed or experienced, and then you’ve gotten to know how your emotions impact your physical self so that you have clear indications of when you’re happy and when you’re otherwise.

872 Relax and Succeed - Dear uncertaintyWe’ve talked about using your posture, a smile, a tone of voice, a manner of walking–that would all incite activity in the parts of your brain where you’re better wired up for happiness. This is like when they teach little kids to have a happy place. As we’ve discussed, you can have some go-to thoughts that you like, but don’t go adding to your negative narrative if you miss the opportunity to take those reigns.

You have to learn several things: a general awareness of yourself, an emerging understanding of how your psychological self emerges within your physical being, and the possibility and wisdom of making those changes. Changes that may have been otherwise seen as needing external intervention rather than internal intervention.

It is still perfectly useful to you to become aware of an emotion in this way and not do anything about it. If you’re initially upset you didn’t escape your unnecessary bad feelings then that means you have fully accepted that you can change them–you just haven’t refined your switching or your acceptance. Just your awareness is a bigger part of this than you realize.

Yes, the change feels really nice pretty much immediately, but even when you make it you’ll be on tilted ground. If anyone did anything that you felt exacerbated your issue, your recovery might well slide backwards immediately. That’s fine too. I want you to come to know this landscape. To slow it all down so you can see it more naturally. This is where you really live.

872 Relax and Succeed - Those who don'tAs you study yourself your knowledge grows and you will find yourself intervening–sometimes in surprising ways. These weren’t things you calculated with brain knowledge, but more the things you know through a more immediate wisdom. It knows what to do in a profound way, but it does need access to the steering wheel. If your ego is busy trying to steer around pain then it can hog the wheel all the way until you fall asleep. And in the end it won’t avoid any pain, but all that useless weaving will create a lot of suffering.

See the “emotional you” as someone who is very simply addicted to the chemistry for their Dominant Negative Emotion. It’s why people with an abusive parent will date abusive people, or even why people will frighten themselves intentionally etc. Everyone’s hunger for each chemical varies, but our Dominant Negative Emotion is one worth doing an intervention with.

By changing or even muting that emotion some percentage of the time you will instill in yourself this capability. Over time it will become so ordinary and everyday that instead someone will describe your ability as your personality. You’ll be referred to as extremely patient, or extraordinarily compassionate or forgiving, and that will feel good. But again, this isn’t about you looking good to others, it’s about you being authentic.

872 Relax and Succeed - If you want to liveIf you’re truly free then you won’t be as willing to bow to counter-productive social norms. Others might see you as difficult or arrogant, but really what’s happening inside is that you’re focusing on the things that matter. Yes, the wrapping paper says something. But that’s messaging. The contents are what ultimately count. It’s fine to wrap something up beautifully. But only if it isn’t to disguise the fact that it’s not really what it purports to be. People’s wisdom will eventually figure that out.

See your ego as more separate today. See it as a literal other person. Enhance that distance. It will help you see that your ego is your shadow. You can’t do things by changing the shape of your shadow–that’s all just spinning in place. You must alter what is happening within yourself. Therefore you will behave in a different way and thereby cast a different shadow. (The only question will be, what will you do when a healthy state for you gives you a shadow you’ve historically avoided..?) 😉

Spend today and tomorrow focused on body awareness and listening to your ego as a separate entity. Catch yourself a few times doing each and you’ll have done well. I know some of you have post-it notes to remind you at your desks, so if you’re serious about doing these meditations you will already have advanced your awareness considerably. You deserve to feel very good about that. Now go create 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 organizations around the world.

Body and Soul

799 Relax and Succeed - Leap of faithIf you’re paying very close attention you’ll note that my blogs actually fall into two distinct categories. People come to me seeking two different things. Some just want straightforward psychological peace. They want what they would go to a counsellor or psychologist for–some answers about how to feel better about their past, their life and about themselves . No problem, I can help with that.

I also write about your spiritual life, which exists in a different sort of way from your life inside the illusionary world. The world you generally live inside is the world of your thinking. The world of your beliefs. It is shaped by your language, your status, health, wealth, height, weight, education, friends, the media, random experience and everything else. That world is where your problems are.

Your spiritual life is the life that watches and enacts your thinking life. There is a thinker and then there is the person that emerges from the thinking. Those are the same but separate. One is the shadow of the other. They co-exist like a wave and a particle.

799 Relax and Succeed - I didn't changeMuch like Newtonian Laws and the Laws of Quantum Mechanics, these two worlds can appear contradictory when in fact they are just different perspectives on the Oneness at the base of all reality. Yes you’re a person from the country you’re from, but you’re also your cells and you’re also vibrating energy at a nuclear level. These things are all simultaneously true, but sometimes I blog to one aspect of you and sometimes to another.

One is ideological and biological so I’ll talk about beliefs and ideas, and brain chemistry and thought–and yet another is about the divine sensations that emerge from giving serious consideration to the pure vibrational energy at the base of the universe. The stuff the scientists at the Super-Collider are looking for. These definitions are all true and in person I would address whichever one you wanted addressed.

Philosophically, just remember that you are the only person who sees things exactly the way you do. Everyone has a separate sense of reality and values. In regards to the physical world, the main point is: don’t over-think things. Be as much in the moment as you can and take things as they come. Do not use your internal voice to argue with the world. No matter what comes in the physical or psychological worlds, stay spiritually aware of the fact that these are all ultimately psychological events. They all take place in that energy-soup and they’re all made of energy-soup. We might experience pain but we cannot remain there. We always maintain the ability to create more happiness in our future.

799 Relax and Succeed - The best dreams happenUltimately we can choose to lay back away from life more as an engaged and empathetic observer, we can become involved in sharing our sense of peace, or we can even choose to dive into a full and human life without regret and to simply live it deeply and fully. All three of these things are accomplished through the maintenance of a genuine sense of mindfulness.

And even if you’re not mindful, that’s fine too because without an out there can be no in. Yin and Yang. So when you see yourself as failing, that event is still only taking place within the arena of your being. Even when you’re failing as a human your soul can still be succeeding. In the end there is no way to lose at existence. The universe is your stage, your can play any character you can imagine and there is no real judgment, so you are free to create a life using nothing but your own natural sense of drive and enthusiasm. And yet we are fundamentally so great that it can be intimidating to imagine life without the limits we place upon ourselves.

The stage is yours. Will you play the character you’ve historically played? Or will you begin testing your courage by slowly making the choices of someone else? It’s easier than you think. But no one can do it for you. It is you who must choose to come alive within your own life. What different choice will you make today?

peace. s

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

Point of View

Your ego thinks it’s an individual. Your true self knows you are a point of view. Your ego sees itself as separate from everything. Raised in the shadow of Aristotle, you see everything as subject and object. So much so that even though you can intellectually understand that other people have the same emotions you do, you still persist in thinking that your experiences are unique failings of yours or the world around an individual you, and that it is impossible for anyone else to understand you or your situation.

797 Relax and Succeed - You don't have a soulYour spirit however takes everything far less personally. Why would a point of view care one way or the other? You are fundamentally simply a way of seeing things. Descartes’ I think therefore I am axiom in action. But way before Descartes, Aristotle had already accidentally screwed up your chances of being peaceful when he unwittingly helped create your ego when he separated you from the rest of the world with that whole subject and object concept. (The “water” we swim in.) Once you have separation then value judgments inevitably ensue. This of course leads to most of the bad things that humans do to each other and the rest of the planet.

But it’s not like the place that exists before those definitions and value judgments vanished. It’s still there. The Kingdom of Heaven is nigh, so to speak. Eckhart Tolle wrote a book about living there called The Power of Now. It’s entirely attainable. You’ve already been there. Every infant lives there. And anyone can go back at any moment, and most people go back and forth with whatever regularity matches their awareness. Conscious people are mostly now-ish and egos are focused on futures or on histories.

Yes, you have this physical body. But not much of it is even yours. Cell wise you’re outnumbered by the creatures that live on and in you by an incredible 10 to 1. That’s 10 of them to 1 of you. 60% of your bodyweight is the creatures that allow you do everything from digest your food to clean your eyes when you sleep.

797 Relax and Succeed - Looking for consciousness in the brainSo “you” (unbeknownst to you) was never as much you as you thought. You’re more like the driver of a planet of cooperating creatures. Let too many of them die and your whole spaceship goes. Just ask someone with Crohn’s Disease if the creatures that comprise your gut are important to your healthy survival.They know what it’s like to suffer that imbalance. This is why you’re supposed to be careful with antibiotics. They don’t just kill the bug, they kill part of you too. It’s like micro-chemo.

Okay, so you’re mostly a bag filled with cooperating cells and you can think. You can take I think therefore I am more than one way. For instance, it can mean: Because I am able to pose this question I know that I am some sort of entity which can do this. Or it can mean: I am the way I think I am. In the latter case, that is another way of saying God created man his own image. God makes man free. So man (and obviously women) are free to create any image of themselves to portray. Even insecure or angry or unhappy ones.

Your thinking emerges from the living of your life. Your experiences, culture, society, fellow citizens, friends, relatives and family will all shape your beliefs. Grow up in a family of photographers and you’ll all cherish your brand new state-of-the-art cameras. And yet you might die of thirst in the tropics. Meanwhile a native who lives in the tropics might easily and happily destroy the cameras by smashing them repeatedly into coconut shell to get the liquid out. So was it a camera or was it a rock? It was both because after-now ego realities are always separate.

797 Relax and Succeed - You are the books you readThe value of anything is context dependent and value dependent and you construct both with your thinking. An example would be if I walked you to the Canada US border and then I blindfolded you, walked you in circles and then took the blindfold off–without any of the markings you had been taught, you would have no idea which country you would be in because a border and a country are ideas, not things. You can’t feel Canada or the US. You can only feel your thoughts about them.

So you can easily see how two people can have a war over seeing one place under two different names. When people were Yugoslavians they got along. Then a few people suggested that now they had different names (like you can’t have more than one) and suddenly average citizens were killing people they had been friends with. What changed from seeing someone as a friend to someone worthy of immediate death at your hand? Perspective. Point of view. Who you thought you were. But the separateness is always in the thoughts and not in the people.

Respect all the creatures that make up you. And respect all the other creatures that make up the rest of the world and your society. No one can be wrong when all there is in the end is perspective, because perspective can always change. People very often end up believing very different things at death than they did when they were young.

Spend the rest of the day trying to catch yourself enacting your point of view. It’s a very healthy exercise and it will keep you away from ego. But don’t get upset if you do find yourself in ego. Just recognizing that your separation is your creation is all you have to do. The rest is your nature.

Have an absolutely wonderful day.

peace. s

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

The Subtlety of Racism

A while back I was contacted by a very conscious individual. She was a blog reader of mine and she had managed to make many changes in her life that were very beneficial. One of the things she had gotten quite good at was feeling her day. Every student has their own way inside what I’m teaching them and that was hers. She was good at ignoring her word-based illusory thoughts in favour of focusing on her feelings.

788 Relax and Succeed - Love and compassion are necessitiesThat ability to sense herself and her emotional reaction to her day lead her to an awareness. What initiated her call was that she was developing a consistently negative reaction to any Muslim woman wearing a niqab (the face and head scarf), or for that matter even a hijab (the head and neck scarf).

She knew the feelings were coming from her thoughts but she felt so strongly about the subject that she was unable to alter the course of her anger. It’s no secret to anyone that world tensions are a bit high and that in the most general terms Islam is seen as some sort of general threat. This plays out in big and obvious ways as in the case of governments or even armies. In smaller ways it plays out in everyday life, as with this woman.

I started off by noting the very un-racist-like reaction she had to her concern that she might be racist. She’s a very conscious mother and she didn’t want to teach her children to judge others based on appearances and she knew they learn from your actions not your words. Wise mom.

788 Relax and Succeed - Darkness cannot drive out darknessI simply explained that she had a firm narrative about the scarves and that we needed to replace it with a natural, real empathetic connection. The woman was clearly a feminist and so I offered examples of two feminists I know who have chosen to cover their faces with a niqab.

The first is a very classically beautiful, slim, high-cheekboned elegant woman who was raised by very spiritual parents. Back at home her parents would have been considered hippies. And her husband will laugh if you suggest he has any sort of control over his wife. He’s not that keen on her wearing a niqab himself but he respects his wife and he knows she takes her spirituality very seriously–and one aspect of it is humility. Inner beauty is what is valued and the ego is to be suppressed. On top of that, as a beautiful woman she wants to be sure she is succeeding by her abilities and not her appearance. That all sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it?

Like the liberated woman sitting in front of me, the friend who wears the niqab does not believe that a woman should be judged based on her appearance and yet study after study proves that from dating to job prospects, that still happens. She also wants to respect herself as a creation of God. If you’ve read my previous post Loving Balpreet you’ll know that this is similar to the Sikh practice of allowing the body to exist as a creation of God’s, without any intervention–including haircutting or shaving. It’s a sign of respect for inner beauty and natural holiness.

I also added that my friend never needs to purchase or apply makeup when she goes out. That raised some eyebrows in envy.

788 Relax and Succeed - The cultural icebergThen I also told her about another friend who left Canada to move to the arabian peninsula. I told my student about how I asked that friend why she chose to wear her niqab. She very confidently noted that as a 240lb woman in Canada she found men never paid any attention to her, but where she lived she was often asked on dates and treated very respectfully. She felt she was being valued for her personality and not her appearance.

In both cases the women subscribed to the idea of the niqab as an expression of their values, not of oppression. It wasn’t that their husband wanted them covered, it was that they valued human spirit and expression more than appearances–these are the exact same values my student extolled to her children and the same ones most of us say are noble.

In the end the niqab is much thinner than a winter scarf. It’s certainly not a barrier to these women being able to see each other for what many of them really are: true feminists. Once my student could see that connection between her and these seemingly different women, her veil of thought made no more sense and she dropped it in favour of her new awareness.

788 Relax and Succeed - Before you assumeIt’s important to note–had we not intervened in that thinking when we did she could easily have expanded the narrative of her incorrect assumption into a full blown story that would result in bigotry and hatred. And she would then have taught that to her kids. It’s that easy. We all need to be vigilant.

We all love everyone. If you think you can’t love and respect someone and you really want to grow spiritually then I would suggest you look more closely at their life. Because if you do so honestly and openly you are certain to find someone just like you. Someone who’s had to overcome great hardship and who has felt great love. Our differences exist only in our thoughts.

The woman left feeling comfortable that she would no longer create the negative reaction that had been attached to her thoughts. With better understanding came empathy and from that came connection and a lack of desire to judge. It’s really that easy. You’ll see that if you try it. 😉

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #54

Winner: 2015’s Other Perspectives of the Year

616 OP Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Parents need to fill a child's bucket

Here’s a great one for the world today. People are always talking about having self-esteem and humility, when in reality they are demonstrating ego and pride. Ego is when you think you’re important because you process the world through only your own perspective. And pride is a certainty that your own view is an objective truth. So from a mindset like that you don’t engage in empathy. You never even try to comprehend what the experience is like for another person, you just want them to accept your experience as theirs. Self-esteem and humility are nothing like that. Self-esteem is a kind of resilience. Self-esteem allows someone to comfortably hear an opposing opinion after which they can then make a choice in that moment to either maintain an existing belief or to create a new one based on the new information or understanding. But if we are not actually open to change then we are locked in ego. Self-esteem doesn’t need you to be anyone in particular—it’s more flexible than ego—but it does need you to fully and authentically be whoever it is you have chosen to be. And humility isn’t at the opposite end of the spectrum from pride. Pride is at one end and insecurity is at the other and humility is the fulcrum in between–you know what you know, but you know what you don’t know too. So you stay humble, then you’re fully aware that you’re always only seeing things from your perspective. So the idea isn’t that you tell your kid that they’re the greatest (which of course also means that they are separate and alone at the top), because that idea cannot accommodate sharing or genuine connection with others. Instead, our parents should encourage us to prioritize the development of those valuable and beautiful connections, rather than suggest that we are somehow better or more valuable than someone else. By helping us to feel that our perspectives are no less or no more valuable than anyone else’s, a parent helps to create a very fertile foundation for the growth and development of a very strong, generous, beautiful and very lovable adult.  Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.00 Relax and Succeed - Other Perspectives Footer

Open Mind Open Heart

Okay here’s the deal. I know you didn’t mean to become the way you are, but in the end the ultimate source of all of your struggles is the simply fact that you are unwittingly an insanely selfish, self-absorbed egomaniac that’s only happy if you’re constantly getting your own way. I know, doesn’t sound like you, does it? But it is. That’s because that’s how every ego is.

512 Relax and Succeed - Happiness is a choiceWe can argue all kinds of great arguments, but in the end those will all be justifications for you being unhappy with things that you don’t like. The upside is that because everyone else is like that too, that points to the fact that no one can truly discover themselves if they never got lost in the first place.

So you’re born sane, you just slowly get your ego inflated without you really noticing—until it starts causing trouble. Because of the downsides, most people love it when I burst their bubble. But for some the bursting part is hard. I feel for them, but to help I have to be honest with them.

The area that’s the hardest for the largest number of people involves their application of their personal “rules” to the rest of the world. The days my various pages will get the most un-likes is when I challenge people’s choice to be offended. If they’re upset or their feelings are hurt, people don’t want to think that’s their responsibility, they want to pawn it off on someone else. In short, they want someone else to take the blame for the emotional experience created by their own thinking.

There aren’t good authors or good bands or good TV shows, there are authors you like, bands you like, and TV shows you like. So when one of those songs plays you think it’s the song that made you happy when really it’s your judgment of the song. Because of course other people are also listening to it and they’re hating the same song you love. We all live in separate realities, but you want everyone to pay special attention to yours. Of course, you’re not doing that for anyone else, you’re doing it for you, which is why the whole thing is so insanely self-centered.

512 Relax and Succeed - Life is all aboutStart taking responsibility for your own suffering. Stop whining for your right to whine. You don’t need a right for that. Whine whenever you want to. But don’t whine pretending you couldn’t stop if you didn’t choose to. Who is it that you think is thinking the offended thoughts? Those thoughts are yours. Offense does not exist in the world, it exists in your imagination. That’s again why one person can like one book when another person doesn’t. So those preferences apply to only you, so stop being offended when people express their preferences because they have as much right to theirs as you do to yours. And you know what? Those differences can comfortably co-exist in the vast majority of instances anyway.

A lot of people discover considerably more mental health, calmness, patience and understanding after working with me. But invariably I’ll say at least one or two things that really piss them off. Like when I say that the person who’s insulting them isn’t the problem. Every ego around them agrees that the other person is a jerk, so I’m an asshole for pointing that they’re not a jerk, they’re simply living out their own belief system in direct proximity to yours. The conflict you feel isn’t between the two of you, it’s between the differing ideas you choose to think into existence.

So here: if you want to keep living in ego and suffering a lot, then get angry and stop reading me when I say that your happiness is your responsibility. Go ahead and tell yourself that other people should do this or should do that. You think it hurts me that you think those thoughts? Sorry. No. I’m fine. You’re the one suffering and I’m opening a doorway and I’m saying, “Hey take a look in here. This works for every earnest person I show it to.” The people who are sick and tired of being sick and tired—they are happy to try anything other than suffer more. But if your suffering hasn’t lasted long enough or been bad enough, then you’re not lost enough to truly want to be found. It’s a nice theory, but you won’t surrender your suffering for it.

512 Relax and Succeed - A mind like a homeSo you can move forward from here and truly try to live a different way and try to consider ideas that are initially uncomfortable, and that will lead you to peace and wisdom and patience and success. Or, you can continue to live in ego where you’ll be angry, sad, frustrated and insecure. The choice is truly yours.

This awareness doesn’t belong to me. I’m nobody. I’m a messenger. You’re just like me. Your mind can be free and healthy in the same way enlightened people’s are. You just have to make the right choices. And I do sincerely hope you choose to keep reading my work and sending it on to people you know who are struggling because I know I can help anyone whose mind is open. And if yours is closed right now—that’s fine too. Drop back again when either joy or suffering has opened it up a little wider. That’ll let your natural wisdom out and then I can show you how brilliant you truly are.

I wish you the very best.

With love, s