A Celebrated Departure

I recently got a call from a student. She’s a very emotional person and she called shortly after she had just put down her beloved cat, the same one that took her through puberty and all of the major events of her 20’s, including her parent’s divorce, a family suicide, an addiction, a recovery, and eventually the woman’s own divorce.

Those are some of the most tumultuous years in life and the cat was connected to countless major memories. This is precisely the sort of thing that would have heavily derailed the woman previously, but this call wasn’t one about agony and it wasn’t a call for help, it was more a call of communion. This was a call about love.

The death would have been a completely devastating experience if viewed from an egocentric me-first perspective. She would have missed the cat terribly and missing something is a verb; it’s an action. That’s the act of wishing the cat would still there even though she’d know it wasn’t, but she wasn’t experiencing the pain of wanting. This woman has learned how to take the peaceful path through life and instead of the pain of wanting she felt the joy of love.

994-relax-and-succeed-keep-your-hands-openThe call I got was to share that love. She knew very few people would know how to respond. She didn’t want sympathy or commiseration–those are well-intentioned acts by others but they take the person back to thinking about the life in a wanting and painful way and what this woman wanted was a celebration of the cat’s life and she knew I would understand that. If anything, she felt a tiny flicker of guilt that it didn’t hurt more.

This isn’t to say the act itself wasn’t extremely sad–it very much was–but that pain didn’t last past the moment of transition because she was not attached to the cat with wanting thoughts, instead she was able to love the cat clearly enough to let it go. When she felt the cat’s body go limp she knew the spirit had left the animal to make its next move. Rather than agonise over its departure she was celebrating its existence. She was lucky to have had her.

In the little version of life there is a little dash of life between two great darknesses. In the big version of life it’s all light, it’s merely where in the universe is that light currently shining? She wasn’t upset because he cat was gone because to her it simply wasn’t–it was merely done its time with her. She understood that limitation as one of hers, not one of the cat’s.

994-relax-and-succeed-we-are-not-human-beingsTo illustrate what she did differently than most people consider your morning coffee. The sides of the cup represent an inside and an outside; an alive and a “dead.” We could say that those sides are created by our own sense of self. The woman accepts that her human existence is on a timeline and so is the cat’s, which means right from the outset there will be times where they do not overlap. On a spiritual level she knows they are one, but by she accepts that within human existence part of the deal is accepting the fact that both she and the cat are free. If the cat’s ready to move on she has to love it enough to let it go. She cannot be attached through her thinking, she must accept its will.

In this way the cat’s life is consumed by the woman. Like the coffee surrounded by the cup the life isn’t lost, it is absorbed. It is taken in. It becomes one with the woman. So can you see that it makes no sense for her to keep drinking when the coffee is gone? She cannot have the cat because the cat is already fully within her. And rather than agonise that the cat is gone she is grateful that she was able to drink it in while it was there. The cat’s life was not squandered, it was fully appreciated. From a spiritual perspective that is like living forever.

Death is profound and yet it is also very simple. It is our mental attachments that make it feel daunting and sad and personal to our egos, but if we live in a deeply spiritual way we can see death more as a release or completion–as though it is a song that has been sung. A song that must now move off into the universe to be heard by some lucky new listener.

Live openly. Listen to the universe for love. No matter what your circumstances, some is always there to be heard.

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 Opportunity

I call it a class but it’s more like time together nurturing experiences. I know everyone in front of me is healthy at the level of their soul, I just need to show them how they can slow and stop the dark fury of their ego. After that the rest is entirely natural. No one asked you to learn to walk but you worked at it at every opportunity until you could do it. You’d learn this much the same way and yet you’d never recall actually learning it.

987-relax-and-succeed-zen-teaches-nothingIt actually isn’t that hard for me to poke holes in reality as most people would describe it. Now isn’t that strange? Something as elemental as reality is in question! And if reality itself is in question then so is everything in it. That means that almost everything you believe could potentially be a lie–and that’s my main point.

Things are not what they are they are how we see them. You’ve read things like that a million times, but enough time with the right meditations and you’ll be dissatisfied with your old version of reality and you’ll seek some new more reliable version. The more time you spend with this new, stronger more flexible version of reality the faster you’ll drop your illusory one.

It’s no coincidence that you’re still looking at 3,000 year old quotes, they do carry a special truth which is why I use the ones I see floating around to shape this blog. But you can’t learn this in an educational way. That’s outside-in. You want inside-out. You want to understand things differently so that different things make sense and that leads you to a different life. That happens inside you.

987-relax-and-succeed-your-teacher-can-open-the-doorThere is no way around the time and effort involved to cross this transom. Even those who do it by accident were unwittingly working away on their discovery for years. How could Eckhart Tolle have recognised his depression as a kind of Joy University? Yet it was those meditations on his own suffering that lead him to do what the Buddha did.

In the end I realise I’m more like a personal trainer. People know what they want and they know they’ll have to change some habits. It just seems easier to do when someone else is leading that process and giving you assignments. Meditation is hard. It can feel unfruitful for too long if it’s not guided well. Done well it can be fun.

The world is changing. We’re at the dawn of a new age of priorities for life. We’ve built a world that’s eating most of us up and most of the world wants something different for their future. Join that future by taking the process of your mental and spiritual health seriously. Don’t be casual or idle about it, it’s connected to everything.

You can have the change you imagine for yourself but not if you won’t make changes to create the time and space necessary for you to actually do the meditations that will lead you there. Prioritise your lifetime. Figure out life before you’ve lived it all.  You’ll be glad you did.

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 #120: Your Nature

968 FD Relax and Succeed - We are natureThe only problem with this is: if you make something this cheap and easy then no one wants to believe it could be the solution to a big problem. But it is.

You are an aspect of nature. Yesterday I discussed the value of you communing with other aspects of nature; other people, animals, plants, earth, water, air. This isn’t some unpleasant assignment or painful procedure, this is freeing your body, seeing interesting things, breathing more deeply and slowing down.

Below I’ve included something funny yet meaningful to start us off and we’ll follow that with two fascinating videos. Immediately after you watch this first one seriously consider booking something to do this weekend with a friend or friends that involves you in actual nature, experiencing nature. And no, golf doesn’t count. 😉

Next we’ll take a peek into an excerpt from a TED Talk given by Suzanne Simard (the entire talk is available here.) She exposes some fascinating facts but pay particular attention to how similar we are to the world around us. Remember, your DNA is not that far off a banana and grasping and respecting that reality is worth a lot to you. Plus it’s just amazing:

And finally I leave you with a documentary I have literally searched for since my days living in Budapest. It’s called, Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden, and if you’d like to see an HD version apparently the Smithsonian has one. This film discusses the beautifully elegant and spiritually sophisticated relationships between the gardens, the gardeners and the people who visit with intention. It’s a great way to expand yourself on a rainy afternoon. It may be the most peaceful documentary you’ve ever seen. Enjoy.

You want your life to be happier and you want to be healthier. Go outside this weekend. Just don’t get lost in thought. Forget goals. Be with nature.

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.