Mood Orbs

The ego world is made up of physical objects and narratives about people, places and things, including concepts like time or obligation or fairness. The ego world looks like a physical place, with it’s focus on a clock and an expectation list. There are places and time, and people who love us should arrive at a place on time–for instance.

Alternatively, the real world is made of experiences that are generally either happy, sad, fearful or angry. These fundamental ways of being include every type of experience related to them, so happy also means loving, connected, laughing, even horny. And it’s opposite, sad, can range from bored to lonely, to depressed etc.

In the real world, rather than a place and a clock and a checklist for happiness, there is only a container, and some orbs of experience. Rather than a clock counting time, the container holds experiences. So “time” isn’t some numbers, that’s what an ego calls the act of us simply grabbing whatever experience we feel like choosing and putting it in our experience clocktainerSo how’s this all work practically? Let’s say we’re in a hot car and our ego is waiting for our spouse for a long time. Our ego will use that time to spin a narrative and hidden in that narrative will be orbs of experience. If the narrative is negative, so too will be the orbs. If we emotionally feel disappointed, or frustrated or disrespected, then we used our time to tell ourselves narrative stories where our ego-characters justify emotions like disappointment, frustration or disrespect.

Telling that story is what our spirit is doing rather than living. It’s enacting an ego by using self-talk to consult the clock and the memorized checklist, and to then blame our spouse for our ‘time being wasted.’ When they get back to the car we’re likely to argue about their disrespect towards us. So the thinking leads to a fight.

Of course it’s possible for physical meat-me to transcend all of that ego. Instead of filling time up with narratives I can do the opposite of resistant thinking and I can accept instead. This means we stop looking for what we expect–which is our spouse to come out of the house on time even though we know full well they never do. Instead we can anticipate a positive outcome of some sort, and then immediately look for our opportunities to fill our clocktainers of life with something pleasant.

This means each of us has heaven and hell within us. In hell we are trapped by thought patterns we’ve been taught to think in (we mimic one of our major caregivers), and that leaves us emotionally helpless, like a flag on the pole of our history, waving in the winds of other people’s choices. In heaven we have freedom. We are not stuck in the ground, and rather than blowing in the winds of other’s choices we can make my own choices about how to view things, and in doing so we can create the sort of stability that gets us through tough times.

That’s our choice in life. We can wait in a car for a time and we can experience the negative orbs of emotions that we find on our unmet checklist, or we can turn on the car stereo and we can experience the beautiful orbs of joy that are contained within the music. One is a story filled with sad and angry experiences to load into our clocktainer, and the other are songs we love that are filled with whichever experiences fill us with life.

Think of it: our ego can’t handle someone being a bit late, and yet our spirit can love even the saddest song. Do you see our invincibility if we live in spirit and not ego? Even sad things become treasured, whereas in ego even your spouse’s arrival isn’t good news.

Don’t live in ego with time and events and places and people and things. Live in spirit, where there is freedom and a fullness that makes even the worst parts of life very much worth living.

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.

The Stream of Time

What does Henry David Thoreau mean? Is this silly? Opaque? Meaningless? Profound? It’s actually all of those things, and you’ll turn it into whatever it becomes. Clearly people post it as a quote because it means something, so it’s not silly or meaningless, but it can also be so obscure that its nature can conceal its profundity.

Anyone who looks at it and thinks about it long enough knows that you are only ever alive now. You lived 10 years ago, but you’re not alive there now, you’re here, in the present. So any thoughts about your past or about your future are all thoughts, and they are all thought now, about then or later. You can think about other times as a present-time activity. So you can use now to revisit then if you like. The problem is that you do it a lot when you don’t like it, but that can stop.

Sometimes you’re just casting. You’re not after anything, you’re just reminiscing. That’s the best kind of fishing. The kind where it’s just as good even if there’s no fish, or no keepers. And if you’re that casual about your life, then if you pull in something that you think is ugly or unwanted, you can just catch and release–you can just let that collection of thoughts go.

Other times you’re casting looking for pretty specific fish. These are the old hollows you return to in your mind, over and over, in a bid to finally land that big fish and end your fishing. But you fail to notice the irony of fishing to end fishing. You don’t erase unpleasant experiences from your psyche, you just don’t load them into active memory. You don’t fish for what you don’t want to catch.

Understand, your body is alive in the present, but you’re usually not with it in the present, you’re time travelling forward or backward using your thoughts. So your experiences of fear or anxiety or sadness or loss, these are all thoughts about other times, and yet because they are emotionally imprinted, you see them as your life.

You have to take where you go and what you fish for more seriously. Far too many people just fish for whatever their parents fished for, without much thought of whether or not that’s actually the best route to an enjoyable fishing trip. We should use our feelings to grade our thoughts, and if they’re leading us to feel lower or worse, then we should stop thinking them.

You have no big huge miraculous thing to do. You already live within an enlightened state, you just want to be more conscious of it. To do that you only need to stop yourself from fishing in your yesterdays or tomorrows, and instead focus on being on the river now, today. Because that is where you life is lived and that is where your balance is kept. The present literally is a gift. Come alive within it.

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.

Appreciating Contrast

1104-relax-and-succeed-the-bad-newsWhat is a day made of? Because it’s a lot more than 24 hours. If it’s your last day of your vacation it can rocket by, and yet if you’re waiting for an ambulance with a loved one, minutes can feel like hours. Time is pretty flexible within our consciousness.

The two examples of above demonstrate that time is dictated by experience. Experiences we don’t want feel long and experiences we do want slip by quickly. So days are made of  your desire for, or resistance to, experiences. Since want is a habit of ego we’re better not to have any expectations, but obviously there are some experiences that are easier to feel better about than others.

Watching a gut-wrenching film can be painful, but it can also bring us closer to people in the long run. On the other hand, as soon as we see an old friend for the first time in a long time we feel fantastic. Of course, neither would feel like anything unless each had the other to contrast itself against. This is the nature of oneness–the yin and yang of being.

1104-relax-and-succeed-i-must-also-have-a-dark-sideAs you’ve heard me say before, this means there is not good things or bad things, but rather things you enjoy and things that help you appreciate enjoyment. So walking normally has no value unless you’ve been unable to do so for some time. Time with loved ones becomes more precious after the loss of a loved one, etc.

Both things are required for existence, but one’s very easy for you and the other creates value, but you wont read this blog to figure out how to enjoy nice things; you’ll spend most of the year reading this blog trying to figure out how to see the value in the more difficult experiences.

If both are necessary, why is one easy and the other more difficult: because one you’ve dreamed of, and the other was either unconsidered or it was a nightmare. One felt in alignment with who you believe you are and the other feels out of alignment with that. To become our greatest selves, we must expand to the point of still feeling in alignment even when we’re experiencing things we do not naturally enjoy.

Your physical reactions to the chemistry you feel as your emotions are your experiences. What chemistry you get depends a lot on how your spirit approaches those variances. You see some people bothered a great deal by relatively small things, and yet you see others who can stay calm during remarkably tempestuous periods. One of these people would be lost in ego, and the other will have developed spiritual awareness.

1104-relax-and-succeed-we-could-never-learnToday’s meditation focuses on recognising this difference. Your job today is easy. Find three examples in your life that demonstrate this difference but using the same events. That is to say, find one experience that you did like that you no longer do, and then find two that you disliked that now you’re grateful for. And once you’ve defined what they are, really spend some actual time revisiting how you felt at the time in each of them. Directly contrast those two different feelings about the same event.

Remember those good feelings, and remember when you applied new thoughts to them and they evolved into things you’d consider negative. And then think about those painful or difficult things, and then really spend time considering that those same events now feel genuinely valuable. That’s it. It’s an easy one but again, these add up. If you’ve done these every week, you will have expanded yourself.

Meditate on past experience. Recognise the changeability of events, and witness your consciousness making that flex. That isn’t the world, that’s you. Own that difference. Find it, and learn enough about it that you truly start to get an understanding that the difference between then and now is simply your approach to whatever it is. Because that is your great power in this universe, but you cannot flex it until you can better understand it, so use today to increase your understanding. And don’t forget to enjoy your day while you do 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.

When Defines You?

1086-relax-and-succeed-caveman-man-barcodeYes, when defines you. Really, this is kind of obvious. If I take you back to the Middle Ages, no matter who you are you’re bigger than da Vinci. You’re the greatest genius ever. You would casually be able to do things that would have been astounding in other times.

Sure, a Knight from the round table might find the steel armour of your car fascinating, but you would appear like a God with your ability to drive it. By the same logic, if we put you 200 years into the future you’d likely be lost. You’d be looking for a kitchen, not a replicator. And even if you found one you wouldn’t know how to use it and you might not even recognise half the food.

Can you see that you’re neither smart nor dumb? You can know a lot about now and be considered smart, or you could know very little and be seen to be dumb, and yet we could take Einstein into the year 2500 and he would be clueless. Einstein would have no idea how to use the internet. See? In some ways you’re smarter than Einstein, but even though that’s obviously true, you don’t feel smarter than Einstein do you?

1086-relax-and-succed-remember-when-many-jobsNow let us look at who you’ve been in the past. When you were born you were helpless. Eventually you got to the point where you could look after some basics, and then you were primarily independent, and maybe in your thirties or forties you will hit your peak. By then there’s another generation coming along with a bunch of new things you’re not even interested in learning.

Many of the new things and ideas won’t appeal to you because by then you’re interested in things worth a lot more than any identity. After that, even without conscious development, most people will slowly stop fighting to protect their identity just because it starts to seem so meaningless once you’ve hit the point where you really do accept that you’re going to die. This is one of my only two advantages over everyone else. By five I knew you could die.

First you need others, then less so, then not much, then more so, and finally you reach a point where you couldn’t even hope to help yourself. That’s everyone’s point of ultimate acceptance, but you don’t have to wait for death for it. You can accept yourself now.

1086-relax-and-succeed-life-of-modern-peopleToday’s meditation asks you to look back at your life to find: three separate versions of yourself. Pick three ages where your identity changed. Look at how different these people are. They might not even strike up a conversation at a wedding they’d see themselves as so unrelated. You could easily get into arguments with different versions of yourself!

For example, I could list being below the age of consent. You might have been able to drive the car when you were 13, but in most countries you’re at least 18 before you are defined as being someone capable of driving. Later, they’ll take your licence way–maybe even prematurely–because you have been defined by your age just like you were when you got the licence.

Then I could take myself in my 20’s, when both the world and I had the idea that I should be married. That was somehow automatic. That identity was given to me by my culture. I got married to a wonderful person just so I could be the person I was supposed to be at that age. But we both faked it. We were trying to be something for other people but, the truth is, we just hadn’t met the people we wanted to marry yet. And that would have been fine; we would have made good friends if we had not been so subtly defined by our time.

1086-relax-and-succeed-i-love-you-every-stepFind out who you’ve been. See how much you’ve changed. There’s been people that loved every version of you and yet you could argue with yourself. So ask yourself; if these different versions of me could even disagree about me, then why would I even try to impress other people? Seriously, think about that last sentence carefully.

Three ages. Don’t stop until you’ve caught yourself being surprised at how different you really were. For this reason, this can be a great exercise to do as a pair or in a group; especially if they’ve known you a long time. Many of them would see your changes better than you can. Do this exercise. Become less solid and more fluid and you will flow through life with greater grace.

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.

Something’s Gotta Give

971 Relax and Succeed - c'mon inner peaceWe’ve seen it reflected in elections and unrest around the world. We can see it in the fact that the world never really has bounced back from the economic card game that collapsed in 2008. Once people had maxed out their credit trying to survive the world hit a limit. With no more money available and no ability to work harder or longer, even in the richest countries there are a lot of scared people and frightened individuals create an angry and defensive society.

Added to the financial stress is time stress. Everyone’s rushed. Everyone’s phone now gives work access to them 24 hours a day and work will use that time if it can get it. Work isn’t human. Work is a creation of mankind. It is an animal that perpetually wants to be fed more and more every month, every day, every year. No sales manager ever told his team to sell less next month. If someone’s over 40 that’s really starting to add up to no personal life.

In the days where your landline waited at home while people were at work, people used to answer their phone maybe once or twice a day for a personal phone call. No texts. No instant messages. No collection of 20 messages at 10 different social media sites. No classes, just maybe the odd kid taking piano or in judo. Rather than organised sports most kids played pick-up neighbourhood games. Just remove all of those responsibilities from your week. That is a huge percentage of your day. And how much of that would you care about on your deathbed? None. You’d care if your kid was there by your side, you wouldn’t care whether or not they could play the piano.

971 Relax and Succeed - Dream more complain lessSo what did people used to do with all of that time and peace of mind? They used to pursue hobbies or took courses to expand themselves not to make more money. They didn’t need that money because they didn’t have to buy a microwave VHS Walkman CD juicer iPod monitor DVD gym membership X-Box Blu-Ray smartphone Occulus or 70% of the restaurant food now sold. They used to spend way more time with friends and family. Most people didn’t hire anyone else to build decks or fix a toilet or do basic work on their car. If they didn’t know how to do something they found a friend or neighbour who did and you know what? They had the time to help and they did and it was often very enjoyable time.

The challenge with the technological world is that it has created the image that we’re all connected when we’ve never been further apart and it’s not just grey-haired people that can feel that. I’ve taught college kids who were stressed by 25 that they couldn’t keep up with technology. Most people have given up by 35 or they’re stressed. So what’s it all for if we just want to surrender it later?

The pain tells us that it’s information. It’s not life going badly, it’s information about how life is going. Pain is like a gauge in your car. The thermostat isn’t overheating, it’s telling you that the car is. Pain isn’t you failing, it’s the universe telling you that what you’re doing isn’t working. The problem today is that a lot of people can’t figure out how to get enough time to eat or sleep let alone find a way to find some other path that can work for their life, so the problem isn’t the humans it’s the machine.

The machine distracts us from being human. Rather than looking at a face and hearing a voice we contort our hands into machine-shapes and type a message on a keyboard that appears on a two-dimensional screen in symbols that strip out the valuable human information that would be transmitted by having in a person’s eyes right in front of you. It’s shallow when what we seek is depth.

It can seem strange then that I might suggest giving as a solution but I don’t think I mean it in the way you might imagine. I know a lot of people would be almost angered by the thought: how is giving everything not enough!? But I’m not suggesting adding more giving, I’m suggesting that you alter where your giving goes. Only by reintegrating ourselves back into our communities can our communities reintegrate back into us. We must know our neighbour before we can do them favours, and if enough of us do that then we’re not doing each other favours, we’re cooperating on a larger goal to create a safe and healthy society. That’s how drops become a drink.

971 Relax and Succeed - It's not about havingWe’ve spent too much time being sold the singular, cool, proud, branded, I gotta be me; loaded with achievements and never needing help. That is not how humanity got here and it won’t be how it goes anywhere. You’re not broken if you’re tired and worn out. We accidentally built an inhuman world and you’re hardly alone. Even the so-called winners are often alcoholics and drug addicts to cope.

Start cutting the selfish in favour of the selfishly selfless. Rich and poor alike, we don’t need another app or another website or another tool of efficiency. What we need is some restful time where we’re connected to others, but that will not happen until you stop and do a serious assessment to figure out how your time can be better invested in your future happiness.

Set aside some time right now to do that this weekend. Look at a normal week and be brutally honest about where the time goes, even if it is frivolous. And then ask yourself where it could go? And if you ask long enough… I guarantee you’ll find something that’ll feel enriching and rewarding–something you’ll get excited about. I do hope you give yourself that time.

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.

Big Decisions

918 Relax and Succeed - The awakened sagesI will need a lot more deep meditation before I can distill everything I am learning about time, but one thing I can state is that I’m slowly starting to have a deeper understanding why so many of you struggle with the idea of having to make big decisions.

If you live on a timeline where you can move toward or away from events then that is fatalism. If you’re locked in and nothing you can do will change anything then you’re predestined for a certain life. But you’re not a fatalist because you’ll also place possibility on that timeline, which means looking backwards you’ll see a single line of where you have been, but looking forward you see an infinite number of potential lines and in some cases where they go is wildly different.

By wildly different I mean having a kid or not, living in this country or that one, marrying this person or that. I don’t mean that one direction is adventure and joy and the other is pain and suffering–the path won’t have as much impact on your feelings as your state of mind, and that’s kind of my point. When I say wildly different I mean what’s different is the narrative that unfolds during your life.

918 Relax and Succeed - If you are depressedSo a big decision is when your most preferred routes through a situation represent massively different outcomes to you, with the outcomes being defined as the labels you’re left with. So in one case you’re married to this person and in another you’re married to that person and as time moves forward you feel pressure increase to make a choice before time causes the choice to vanish (people getting too old to have kids, marrying someone before someone else does, etc.).

These decisions matter a lot to you because you see those label distinctions as being indicators of the right decision. And by right I mean that later in life you assess that the decision lead to lots of labels that you value at the time of your judgment regarding the decision’s “success.” So if you left a bad relationship just in time to have a kid with someone, then that kid being a source of joy will be seen as being the result of the decision to leave the previous relationship. So the child and parenthood will be seen as a positive outcome resulting from the decision to leave the old relationship. I get your logic in that. It makes sense. But only in an ego-world.

Imagine the exact same decision but the new love ends up injured, then addicted to painkillers and that leads to challenges raising the child who later becomes a drug addict and a whole helluva lot of trouble. That could totally happen. And then you’d be sitting there in your rented apartment with an eviction notice because your stoned kid damaged the place again. You would determine that the choice to leave the previous relationship many years ago was the wrong decision and that it was what lead you to where you are–even though you know if your partner never got that injury none of the other issues would have unfolded.

918 Relax and Succeed - Life is like a cameraSo was the decision really wrong because it lead to the troublesome kid? Or was it just a choice that lead to a zillion other choices which combined with the choices of a zillion other people and things that all lead you to where you are? Because otherwise you’re highlighting events in time rather arbitrarily, like someone randomly choosing stars from an infinite sky and then forming just those chosen ones into a constellation that they then call their life.

My point is, on a later date they could just as easily look up and choose different stars and get a different picture of their life. It would all depend on the mood of the astronomer at the moment they were asked to judge their life. So to me trying to sail toward some specific constellation is to try and choose castles in the sky to live in. It can’t really be done.

You cannot choose tomorrow’s happiness today. Life has no guarantees. No matter what you decide your life will depend far more on who you are in any given moment than it will on what choices you made in some past moment. Sure, you might have a kid or not have a kid and that can seem huge, but in the end even the wonder of a child is just like any other experience in life–it’ll still be variously enjoyable and challenging.

918 Relax and Succeed - You either get the benefit you were expectingWhether I’m finding life rewarding or challenging, those two states are determined by my agreement with or resistance to what is going on in the present moment. That being the case, I choose to focus more on my moment-to-moment reactions to what’s happening now than on any long term planning for success. Otherwise there’s just too many factors that I don’t control. This is what it is to surrender into existence.

Our desire to avoid suffering leads to a hopeless desire to plan our way around it. The acceptance that there is no clear and perfect path takes that pressure away. Time becomes less compressed and the labels lose their value. What you are left with is the beautiful simplicity of the present moment.

The question is, with the world looking as it is and with people’s lives feeling like they do, what convinced us that decisions made in the moment are somehow less likely to lead to rewards than when we plan? If people look closely at the people around them I think they might find the opposite is more likely to be true. The planner’s lives are filled with successes and failures and a great deal of dramatics. The in-the-moment people never have failures, they’re always either simply enjoying themselves or they’re growing. And if you’re okay with that, that can feel like winning either way.

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.

Time Warp

916 Relax and Succeed - Nothing is more preciousHow come you guys never noticed this before? It’s interesting to me that in all of the time I have been writing not one person had ever called or written to me to ask a question about Time. This is in part undoubtedly because I’ve rarely (if ever), written about it. It’s a very large and curious omission on my part. I’m fascinated by the fact that I never noticed it at all.

To be honest I thought I would have more substantial insights to present you–and maybe these are substantial from your perspectives. But I’m surprised at how slippery this concept is for me. In the strong suspicion that it will be very beneficial to you, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about time so far.

I’m pretty sure I know why I had this realization. I was helping a client with some training in how to build a calmer work life and one of the challenges was scheduling. He would see how much work I got done and feel terrible in comparison. The comparison wasn’t helpful or useful, so I just explained how things could be structured differently.

916 Relax and Succeed - People don't realizeWe set up a highly structured calendar with alarms as each section shifted. I built one for myself in an effort toward solidarity. It always helps when you’re trying something new and scary if someone will do it with you. I’ve never minded a schedule really, so I set one up that structured the work I was already doing and a couple things I’d realized I’d missed.

Without realizing, I was teaching someone who, on a continuum, was probably the closest person to me I had ever met. The nature of being a writer on a project means you tend to be extremely busy due to working very long hours, but those hours can be worked whenever you have the most energy. This means I haven’t had to have a steady schedule since I worked in an office with others, over 10 years ago–right around the same time I had that unusual experience in Budapest.

It turned out that by using the internal corporate structure I was moving around within the framework of a calendar and clock all week long. This allowed the framework of time to extend past Now in my mind. I still knew it was a fiction, but it was often a useful one. At some point over the next couple years I literally decoupled from the artificial idea of a calendar and largely even a clock.

916 Relax and Succeed - To be in timeThis went entirely unnoticed until my brain spent about four weeks switching back and forth on a regular schedule, all thanks to the artificial calendar I built to support the client. Slowly my brain was reintegrating this idea back into my life. Then that one day I looked at my computer after feeling a bit strange, and when I saw my calendar it literally unfolded like a Jacob’s Ladder of computer monitors in each direction, adding progressively dimmer weeks on each end. It was like a part of my brain had just turned about 5 years old.

I figured out Time was artificial by about 12 years old just by using my daily meditations to understand where things came from. It just never occurred to me that I could lose touch with it if I didn’t voluntarily subscribe to it to a fairly regular degree. And then I remembered: that’s what I teach you guys all the time; if you don’t do a thing your brain won’t be very good at doing it. And yes, this definitely applies to Time.

So Time isn’t a thing it’s a measuring device you place over… space-time (let’s save that for another time). So it’s like you’re a flashlight and you’re pointed down at a giant measuring tape. This tape goes on forever. A busy-minded person has their light a long way from the tape, and so they’re always taking a lot of time into account, and that’s what makes them sad or angry or anxious.

I am someone who lives very close to Now. So my light is so close to the measuring tape that it doesn’t even really see that thing in front of me as a measuring tape. I’m close enough to be able to see the thing it’s measuring: moment by moment life. So I’m not looking at the tape, I’m taking in life. This is called presence.

916 Relax and Succeed - Let go or be draggedAnxious people are a long way from experiencing direct reality through presence. They tilt their light toward a future they unhelpfully illuminate. They tell themselves stories about what might happen, about what could happen, or even should happen. Meanwhile depressed people tilt their light backwards on the measuring tape, always reassessing what has already taken place in time. By focusing the light of their consciousness on the past, they hope to somehow create a different past would lead to a different them in different circumstances. That act of perpetual wishing steals most of their own strength in an innocent but meaningless attempt to fix something that has already happened.

I still do have to figure out how to live a little bit deeper in Time than I’m currently able, and I’m working on exercises to help with that. At the same time, I’m here to help you realize more mental, emotional and spiritual health, and so it would do you a lot of good to become a lot more like me and focus on Now, rather than all of these other past or potential times.

Look at your own life and get more conscious about where your mind is really at. Because your body and your eyeballs being somewhere means little if you’re mind is somewhere or somewhen else. Now might be presenting a few challenges for me, but I’m very confident they’re not as difficult and unpleasant as those that are generated by living too deeply within the very limiting construct of Time. 

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.