Touching Awareness

1096-relax-and-succeed-getting-in-touch-with-your-true-selfYour meditations this week have surrounded different senses, yet each exercise is developing your general sense of awareness. As you leave the busy thoughts in your head behind, life slows down and experiences become deeper. Today we shift that from being limited to your nose our mouth; today we’ll get your whole body involved.

It is easy to forget how complex the world is until we begin to spend time in it instead of our thinking. Not only do things have a texture to our fingers, but they also have a hardness or softness, a smoothness or a roughness, there are angles and temperature and weight. There is the weight of our body on our legs and hips as we press into the floor or our chair. These are all examples of your daily body experiencing feelings that you aren’t actively processing into your personal experience (because you’re too busy talking to yourself).

People find it difficult to block out their own talking head unless they replace that activity with something else. If your brain isn’t busy doing something specific it will wander and create dramas. It is important that your actions are specific and active or, in other words, your actions in life–even including sitting still–should be done so with intention.

1096-relax-and-succeed-touch-has-a-memoryToday you won’t just get another coffee; today you’re going to go through a list of as many adjectives to describe the cup as possible; it’s cold, smooth, heavy, it lists to one side, and it’s heavier than the one you use at home. You feel its weight change as you fill it. You feel the heat transferring around the cup. You feel the subtle strain it places on your upper arm.

If you’re working with a partner, choose some object that you’ll both have access to in your own lives, then compare your touch-based analysis of that object. Maybe you use coffee cups, maybe you use your left shoe, or a product or a tool. Even rolling a plain office chair on a carpet will create all kinds of vibrations etc.

The point again isn’t what you find, it’s that you find it. It’s that you’re telling your mind that tuning itself to the outside world will be helpful. It’s often as helpful as it is to a mountain or rock climber, but when you take away immediate danger people tend to think there’s no danger at all. That’s how people get fired or dumped.

1096-relax-and-succeed-the-body-remembersIf you’re in a relationship, when was the last time you extensively touched your partner in a way that wasn’t sexual? A husband stunned by his divorce once told me that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d said I love you to his wife (hearing), he couldn’t remember the last time he took her out for dinner (tasting), he couldn’t remember the last time he’d bought her flowers (smell) and he remembered he used to massage her shoulders after work but he had no idea when he stopped (touch). I explained to him that because he didn’t know those things then we also had no idea of when he actually discarded his wife from his sensual life. He got the point.

You can not care about doing these meditations. No one is making you do these exercises. This is actual spiritual psychology school. If you don’t even want to participate that’s entirely allowed. But to not participate is also to generally not participate in life; to live without awareness. And that generally goes about as well as anything you do randomly. Add some intention however….

Notice I don’t note a correction. That’s because there’s nothing wrong with you. Once your awareness is up then you have the ability to move to whoever you’re capable of being next. But until then you are trapped by not even knowing fully who or what you are right now.

Today’s meditation is simple. Just feel the world. As much of it as possible, with as many parts of yourself as possible. Because if you want to stop all of those voices there’s no other way except to leave your head and get back into the actual world. That’s where you started life and that’s where you’ll end it. You may as well get familiar with it.

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.

Travelling with the Tribe 2

Just read your essay on Friend-ships. Very good. Your point about the “tribe” versus all your acquaintances is particularly apposite. A key challenge in living a cosmopolitan lifestyle is maintaining meaningful relationships with past friends. With time, former friends lapse into acquaintances. How to maintain the relationship over distance and time? How does one determine whether a person remains an acquaintance or becomes a member of your tribe – random chance, gut feeling, or is this something one should actually think about strategically? And how should we try to “be” so that others decide to include us in their “tribes” rather than leaving us in the generally less-enriching acquaintance zone?

signed,
Friendly Challenges II

Dear Friendly,

I was pretty spiritual/metaphysical in Part One. Since it focused on the first part of your question Part Two will focus on the second half. Part Two will focus more on the egoic attachments represented in the question. Let’s start with the phrasing of “How does one determine whether a person remains an acquaintance or becomes a member of your tribe—399 Relax and Succeed - Authenticity is the daily practicerandom chance, gut feeling, or is this something one should actually think about strategically.” In all seriousness the word “strategically” made me laugh with glee. It couldn’t be farther from the truth and in a way it couldn’t be a more apt description.

If we were to say your strategy is to be yourself, then yes. If it’s to get or keep friendships then no. People don’t choose to be in tribes together. The only way in is to be yourself. And then all of the similar yourselves all melt into one pre-thought consciousness when they meet. So you can’t really look for them, and you don’t choose them nor do they choose you. Ultimately everyone is in your Spiritual Nation, but at this stage of human development most people can only remember being in touch with this part—the part where your similar ways of thinking allow you to seamlessly comprehend each other in profound ways. You can literally feel that they think using a very similar logic framework to yours. Again, everyone is psycho-logical, but when the logics really line up the spirits can see each other.

You recognize your Tribe members very soon after meeting them. It’s a nice feeling and a hint at what Enlightenment feels like when you’re awake for it. Often the reasons they’ll think like you is that they had very similar experiences growing up. There’s seven billion of us—it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever run into a unique problem in your life. The similar backgrounds only serves to create an even closer connection as stories are easily shared in a very reciprocal manner. So far from figuring how to earn your way into a Tribe with your coolness, you have to relax into a Tribe with your authenticity.

The other issue I want to bring up relates to time and attachment. If you want to live the most profound life possible then shoot to be as aware and conscious as possible. To do that means to lose all sense of time relevance. Yes you will always have to step out of Now to plan a lot of later but at least you can hover near Now most of the untime. But that has to be something on your agenda to do. It has to be a priority. So thinking about other times (thinking about active 399 Relax and Succeed - What day is itfriendships from your past) guarantees that you are pulling your consciousness away from the Present Moment and into another time where your reaction is to feel forlorn. That’s why it feels icky. It’s your spirit telling you not to stay there thinking that for too long. It’s urging your back to Now.

Yes, love your friends. I’ve never loved mine more than I have in the last decade. But I’m also not attached to them. I try to stay focused on the Present Moment as much as I can. I don’t mind at all that some people misinterpret what I’m doing and are critical—I get that they can’t see what I’m doing. And I’ll even choose to think those melancholic thoughts sometimes just to feel melancholy for a while. But I feel most peaceful when I’m in the Present, focusing on what’s before me in that Moment.

So do not use narrative thought to build a cord to call your past and wish it was your present. It was your present, and a lot of what made it feel good was your presence. So don’t lament that you don’t have that feeling Now by thinking about then, it is that very thinking that is the barrier between you and the profundity of the Present Moment.

Do it right and everyone’s your friend. And then you totally get how Mother Teresa did the leper thing. I wish you every good fortune in your efforts.

peace. s

The Peaceful Life of Yin and Yang

Acceptance of the Yin and Yang of life is where peace lives. We can’t just intellectually understand that there must be black to be white, there must be up to be down, and there must be happy to be sad. We have to live knowing that’s the Truth.

75 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes it takes sadnessYour problem isn’t what’s happening. It’s that you want something. You’re attached to an outcome. You want an experience different than the one you’re having.

The act of wanting; the act of not accepting something is to create arguments for yourself in your head about how things should be different than they are. In short: you think thoughts about other outcomes and then you compare them to what did happen, and you tell yourself a story that the universe disappointed you, when what you really mean is that you didn’t get what you wanted. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. Because there is no way for the Universe to keep everyone happy.

Obviously the first time we run into two thirsty people and one drinking fountain, we know that the world is guaranteed to present situations in which not everyone can win. In fact we often cannot get what we want. So what are our options?

Well, option one is to tell ourselves egocentric stories about what we’d rather have. But those stories are angry, disappointed, hurt, spiteful etc. etc. etc. And you feel what you think, so the stories will make us feel angry, disappointed, hurt and spiteful etc. and that doesn’t seem like a wise or healthy option. And if we indulge in it too often, it’ll eat us away from the inside. It’s why a lot of New Yorker’s don’t like the remembrance “celebrations” around 9/11. The healthiest among them want to leave that behind them now so they can move on to more enjoyable feelings that are less likely to divide humanity.

75a Relax and Succeed - Life is a shipwreckOption two would be to ignore argument mode and head for intake mode instead. Rather than using our brains to argue about what is, we could instead find a way to appreciate what is. That doesn’t mean a situation is something you would seek to repeat, but if your only option is to endure then you might as well add some appreciation to the mix. At least that makes everything taste better.

Even if you make the egocentric choice, there’s no need to panic. Whether you get angry or relax, you never cease to be a spiritual being having a human experience. The only difference is, is the human conscious of the creation of the experience, or do they actually think they are the thoughts? But either way, no thoughts are superior to others. They simply have consequences, and some of those consequences we enjoy and others we do not. The only advantage to being awakened is that then we can choose more joy. It does not guarantee that we do not suffer. It just means that we won’t suffer any more than we have to.

Wake up. Accept actual suffering to the point that when it arrives, you can work around it as easily as you can work around rain. Just put on a raincoat and continue as usual. You were never going to win the argument in your head anyway. You would need a new history.

Do your utmost to create a wonderful day. And if it’s not a wonderful day, then do your best to shrug it off with the knowledge and acceptance that of course sometimes it rains. We all experience pain. So you don’t have to argue your way to sunshine. You just have to keep your eye very actively watching for joy’s inevitable return.

Here are some of Alan Watts thoughts on Suffering:

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.