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.

Friends and Enemies

952 Relax and Succeed - Appreciate your rudeYes, appreciate your rude/blunt friend for being real. And appreciate your shy self-deprecating friend for preferring to hurt themselves rather than hurt you. And appreciate your angry aggressive friend for wanting to rush to your aid. And appreciate your quiet friend for not wanting to give you the wrong advice. And appreciate your oblivious friend because they have something else to focus is on and if that’s a good thing it’s motivation for you, and if it’s something bad then it reminds you you’re not alone in your pain.

Of course you can see the blunt friend as rude, the wounded one as a self-centred victim, the angry one as negative, the quiet one as being unhelpful, and you can even be mad at the oblivious friend because their life is going so great in comparison. These choices regarding how you view people happen with everyone you meet. The ones you choose to see like the first paragraph are your friends. The ones you choose to see like this second paragraph are your enemies. That’s also why some of your friends are other people’s enemies and vice versa etc. etc.

952 Relax and Succeed - When you judge anotherPeople have names but they’re not consistent. Everyone ebbs and flows between strength and weakness, awareness and ego, peace and suffering. Nirvana is not when you reach a place where everything is always easy and beautiful, it is a place where you have attained the wisdom necessary for you to know in your heart that the world will be as you choose to see it, and in so being it always has the potential to be beautiful.

You cannot live within this beauty because beauty must have a definition and a definition cannot exist without things outside of that definition. Without ugliness you cannot have beauty. Light and dark, hot and cold, happy and sad, friend and enemy. Without not-path you cannot have a path.

Your job is not to become a spiritual person that somehow learns to float above the thorns at the side of the path and your job is not to religiously suggest it’s possible to remove all of the thorns from the entire world so there are no sharp things to step on. Your job is to walk consciously through the world within a universe of paths and thorns.

952 Relax and Succeed - We can never judge the livesYou need not panic about perfection. Some paths are just too narrow and you will definitely get scratches, there are wash-outs, thickets, bogs, and all kinds of other ways for you to wear yourself out or even get hurt. But the alternative is to sit and go nowhere and that is a fate much worse than death. To just sit would be spiritual stagnation. It would be to not live at all. There is no path or thorn that painful.

Negative views are the thorns and the positive views are the paths. Step this way with your judgments and you step on something sharp. Step that way and your path is clear. Each moment–each step–we get to reassess our direction, so you can blame the path or your shoes or the thorns, but no one’s listening. The universe has done it’s job giving you the opportunity for happiness and the free will to pursue it. From there it’s your choice where you step.

You can appreciate things or want them to be different. The choice is yours. They’re your feet. Which direction will you walk in today?

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.

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.

Veil of Thought

Thought is an unusual thing. Despite the fact that you can think about something from ten years ago or ten minutes ago, or whether you’ve been thinking about it for a minute or an hour, your distance from salvation is always the same. You are always only that single thought 693 Relax and Succeed - Self observation is the first stepaway from slipping into the moment of peace that is Now.

Thought is a strange looping world. We can all find people that are living with beliefs that, from our perspective, are ridiculous. But they don’t think so. They think you’re the crazy one. They’re just as certain as you. But in actual reality there is no judging to be done. There is no need to reconcile things. They can be just as they are. The two particles of you and another person do not need to argue to a conclusion, you can each simply exist in your own way because that is what you are here to do. Your reason is to be yourself. To trust yourself. To follow your feelings. Including when that leads you to bump into others. But despite that you are not competing with any other person. We are all, each day, simply trying to reach Now. The only difference between us is how much time we’re able to spend there, not how far away we were.

There is no winner in enlightenment. Once you’re there the idea of judgment vanishes. There’s no way to race someone to Now. You are each on your own paths but ultimately you are like different arms of the same octopus. Yes your journey is yours. But if one arm is constantly judging you, other arms, other things or events, then that is an omen worth paying attention to in the world of the spiritual octopus. Because the more words you use—the more judgments you make—the deeper you will be in ego. The good news is that no matter how much you think, the Present Moment is still only one thought away. But your ability to remember that fact is seriously impeded when you’re doing all of that thinking.

693 Relax and Succeed - Once you awakenSo it’s like you’re one tentacle of this spiritual octopus and when you’re scared or confused you think a lot—you shoot a lot of ink into the water. Yes, it confuses your enemies but it also confuses you. You can’t see what you’re doing in the present moment. You’re in the dark, re-imagining whatever it was that made you scared in the first place. But just like you control the central ink jet even though you’re only one arm of the octopus, you’re also all the arms of the octopus when you’re living in the Now. So instead of shooting ink, your response to enemies isn’t defensiveness or an attack. It’s to hug them with infinite arms. Those work much better than conventional or nuclear arms.

Angry, worried and sad people are thinking a lot and are less likely to recognize the signals their natural wisdom is providing—like the unpleasant emotions they experience as a result, for instance. They aren’t taking that as a cue for the octopus arm to stop strangling its own blood-flow. If someone is doing a lot of thinking don’t think you can reason them out of it. That’s just more thinking. No, you have to have empathy and actually remember what it’s like to be them—to be caught up in your thinking, seeing things in distorted ways that make your life more difficult to live. If you recall, you didn’t want people telling you it wasn’t as bad as you thought. You wanted them to understand that it was as bad as you were thinking. But if you get the relationship between thinking and feeling and reality then you can help others with total confidence and sincerity.

You do know what it’s like and you do know how to get them out. But that’s not by talking them out. That’s by listening closely. Because if you’re not in a hurry to make them feel better then you’ll start to 693 Relax and Succeed - Let go of thoughtnotice natural opportunities to turn the conversation more positively, in ways that lead the person to raise their consciousness and feel better, and from that head-space they’ll make better choices for their lives. So remember: you don’t lower a rope down into a hole to help someone. You jump in and show them the secret way out. You get them out of the hole of their defeating personal thoughts.

Sensei, Guru, Priest, Master, child, parent, teacher, teenager, French, Indian, female, educated, street-smart, tired, rich, whatever—you! Everyone is the same distance from enlightenment every single moment. Every thought exists after language and after creation. So by thinking about anything where you’re using words as symbols, that translation act places you one layer away from the reality and power of Now.

Remove those words, deeply observe what remains and you will soon feel yourself becoming a part of everything the way you do during an amazing sunset. You forget who you are and you just have an experience. That’s not your sunset, that’s just a sunset. And despite the fact that they happen every day and that you’ll likely experience over 25,000 of them in your lifetime, when you’re in the Now you’ll know to honour ever single one as uniquely perfectly magnificent.

As much as you’re able to, keep a quiet mind. And never worry too much. As busy as your thinking can get, it is always always always the only thing between you and the glorious salvation of the Present Moment.

Have yourself a wonderful day.

peace. s

The Scientific God

692 Relax and Succeed - I searched for GodCan I find a place in the universe where someone who believes in God and someone who believes in science could both see the world and each other entirely comfortably? I believe if people were open to it I can. But I have to take them to a very special, very specific place. Paradoxically it is also every place. And that’s what makes it Godly.

Forget the idea of an old guy with a beard who is separate from you and judgmental toward you. I’m not talking to religious people. Very few of them believe in Michelangelo’s metaphor or that anyone flew into the sky for three days. He was a weak translation for what in the original Hebrew was a word something like Is-Be. But most religious people aren’t tortured by a fear of a supernatural God, they’re tortured by their egos just like non-religious people. Scientific people too-often have overly condescending attitudes toward religious people. They assume they’re entirely unscientific when there’s lots of scientists who are also religious. It’s the logical person will make the mistake of believing that the most outrageous newsworthy examples on TV mean that every religious person thinks that their religion’s metaphor’s are to be taken literally.

692 Relax and Succeed - People don't realizeSo starting with a blank slate, with no one judging anyone’s dedications, what would a religious person want God to be? That’s pretty easy. Everything. All-powerful. Nothing happens without God. God is the creator. Okay. So is there a scientific place or thing in the universe where creation begins, somewhere or something that is everything and all-powerful? Ooh. Turns out there is.

There is a moment you’ve heard a lot about. It’s called Now but as much as you might watch the former physicist Eckhart Tolle’s talks and read his books, most people wonder if they’ll ever experience the sensation of living in that moment. But you have felt it. You just didn’t have a way to account for it while you were in that state of mind. No one’s taught you to call that feeling Now. Any time you lose track of time you’ve experienced Now. When you get a great idea out of seemingly nowhere—again, that’s Now. That’s where all those answers are.

You know when you’re with friends and someone says something in a delicate conversation and everyone’s silent reaction is, Oh dude, no. That was not the thing to say. Everyone can feel that the guy shouldn’t have said whatever it was. They know. How? Because they have let themselves be close to God. They have let themselves be close to Now. They know.

692 Relax and Succeed - You are the universeBoth scientists and religious people are quite comfortable with an infinite universe, so clearly our future is infinite. If the future is infinite then how did everyone know the dude shouldn’t have said what he said? He had infinite choices. How can they all be sure that’s the right one? Because in the Now you have the only place in the universe where two things are—the past and the future.

The only place you can find 100% of the universe’s history is Now. Any time before Now and you’re missing some information. And Now is also where you are right on the edge of your infinite future—where you have access to anything. But how can you possibly choose? Fortunately, the world before us chose certain mathematical patterns and we unwittingly chose to live within them. That’s why Fractals exist. We thought math showed us that everything made sense but then modern math and physics started to suggest other universe’s with different rules. So what makes a choice feel right—the reason the friends knew the dude shouldn’t have said what he said—was it’s misalignment with the universe we’re currently living in.

692 Relax and Succeed - The most beautiful thingSo in this strange sense there is no such thing as good and bad as we tend to think of it, but that alignment with the universe still has what Robert Pirsig called Quality, and that definition can easily fit inside most religions. Likewise the science of Now—the place you find this alignment with God—is where creation begins. It is where the waveform of potential collapses into the a particle of existence. Meaning every part of the universe is actively being the universe. Including you.

I’m not sure if that’s completely confusing to you and that it just seems remarkably sensible to me because I already know what it means, but that description feels like a pretty straightforward explanation to me. I’ll let you judge for yourself, but in the end you don’t really want an intellectual understanding of it anyway. You don’t need a description of enlightenment you want enlightenment itself. And so you have to surrender wanting to know. Knowing is a verb, there’s no way or place to go get it.

Every truly talented fashion designer, architect, musician or industrial designer would know the feeling of Now. That is precisely where they try to hover… not settling on any reality… living with the infinite nature of wave potential until they feel drawn toward something that they will use to convert all of those waves of possibility into a particle of existence within the logic of the universe of our understanding. If it wouldn’t fit our understanding we simply wouldn’t perceive it.

692 Relax and Succeed - We are one speciesOnce a creation exists it immediately becomes a study-able, historical thought (or sometimes eventually even a thing, like a paint colour) that you can revisit and re-analyze and improve. The moment after an artist discovers their creation it becomes a part of the past, locked and solid and unchangeable except to be a wholly new version of itself as a revised draft, in a new Now. So your ego lives in the past and discusses creations and it and tries to wish things turned out differently but that’s crazy. You can’t fix the past. Life is out front in the Now—where creation happens. There you can act to change your life so that your new past can look more like a record of the Nows you were really looking for. But all of those choices—all of those prayers get answered in the Now.

What lies behind you is unimportant. The out-of-sync decisions made from an ego headspace do not hinder the infinite nature of your future. God is all-powerful and has infinite choices available. No matter what has happened any future is possible. You just have to be willing to not-know so that you can feel you way toward knowing. Like a scientist looking for a hypothesis, you need to trust the universe that something of value is out there for you so that you can grab it when you recognize it, and through you it can realize creation.

God is all things. The universe is all things. Everything has its origins. But everything is both from the past as well as being from the infinite future. But the Present Moment is the only place where both sources exist. That is why it’s where creation happens. That is where you use the power of the God-Universe to snap the reality of your choice into existence within the world of your consciousness. And so goes the miracle of your life.

Much Love.

Or, if you’re the scientific type:

Much Dopamine, Oxytocin, Vasopressin and Testosterone. 😉

peace. s

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