The Most Precious Gift

1254 Relax and Succeed - Togetherness and connectionEveryone feels their time is rushed and that it is increasingly valuable. But time is made of moments, and moments happen in our consciousness–they are where the external fates of the world meet our focus; our attention. Our problem isn’t so much that the wrong things come to us or that we focus on the wrong things. There really are no wrong things when you’re seeing things clearly. Our challenge is that we don’t focus at all.

Thanks to things like smart phones and social media, people live inside a constant stream of distractions, as our minds our actively encouraged to flit from thing to thing, without ever giving anything enough attention for us to ever come to truly understand what we’re taking in. How many times have you walked into a room and forgotten why you went in there? We do this with food, tasks, people. But we must remember; we don’t want to just see or hear, more importantly we want to watch and listen.

The rewards are two-fold in the case of focus, because not only is it a calmer, more natural state than our busy-mindedness, but also the person, place or thing being focused-on starts to take on remarkable dimensions as it or they become a part of a rewarding connection to your soul. This is how people can become the very best kind of lichenologists, fashion designers and parents.

1254 Relax and Succeed - The most precious giftOur real life isn’t an app or notification, it’s the events, places and people that we interact with each moment. The way we get distracted in our minds is much like we do on our phone or computer. You’re doing this or that and then your phone or computer beeps and you’re off to look at whatever it told you to. In your mind you’re in a moment talking to your spouse, or child or a co-worker and then suddenly you start talking to yourself about what’s happening and that’s your mind wandering.

When you let your mind wander like that you literally stop recognising an important truth about the other person, be they a loved one or a stranger. The moment you do that you become an ego who will see the world as a set of labels that only exist in relation to you:

Your fussy child isn’t possibly sick or otherwise uncomfortable if they’re seen as simply preventing you from getting where you’re going. Or that other person appears more attractive if you compare your spouse as simply an ego-list of the things you don’t like. Similarly, that person at work has let you down, they aren’t struggling as they go through the experience of losing someone dear to them. These are all ways that we disconnect form others, the world around us and ultimately ourselves.

1254 Relax and Succeed - The bird in a forest can perchIf you’re talking to yourself you are dividing your attention between two egocentric you’s and they are the source of your problems and your suffering. The real you is the being thinking those other two you’s into existence. That you is already deep and wise and steady and open. Your ego you is selfish; smart in some ways, dumb in others; you’re rarely calm and centered because you have so many wants and desires; and you get offended and bothered by things easily, meaning you’re not really being open.

The wise you lets things be. While it can wander too, your healthy soul notices thoughts that disturb your personal Star Wars-like force. It can feel you creating resistance by having a value-based conversation with itself, and through those thoughts you create  conflicting wants and desires. The separation between your separate you and those separate things (relationships, cars, jobs, status etc.) is the gap through which all of your suffering seeps. If only you’d realise you don’t need anything so that you’d come home to yourself more often.

Wisdom isn’t hard, it isn’t out of reach. Nor is calm, or compassionate, or loving or connected. These are all natural states when we quiet our busy egos. When we’re there we are our best selves, without judgment, without desires, and profoundly satisfied with our lives as they are. Take today and focus. Write it on a bunch of post it notes you’ll bump into, or ask a friend to text you randomly. It’s worth practicing, because deep down you’re literally learning to be yourself by doing so.

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.

Feeling Our Way

1246 Relax and Succeed - There is no path to peaceThere is a constant communication system between us and our soul that can be represented by science as the chemistry associated with our feelings. As most of you know from reading this blog or other sources, that system gets overwhelmed and confused by a constant stream of ego-based personal thoughts.

We are all pulled apart by our egos as we habitually create word-filled debates within our consciousness, filling it with criss-crossed, undermining and uncertain ideas. We try to represent so many views that we cannot find one to take in confidence. Meanwhile, those who spend enough time quiet-minded can appear strange to others simply because they are following their own path through events, rather than negotiating the ephemeral barriers and obstacles that are created by the social constructs that stem from ego.

When we use our ego we talk ourselves out of trying to do something because the odds are ten thousand to one. Yet a person with a quiet mind never does that calculation or has long ego-based self-conversations, they simply trust their attraction to or repulsion from whatever’s being presented in that moment and in so doing they take the steps that lead them to become one of the 750,000 human beings who will be that one in ten thousand thing.

1246 Relax and Succeed - There is nothing to figure outStephen Hawking could have just been a depressed kid who did next to nothing. That was what the odds said. That would be his ego’s argument. But rather than self-discuss those odds with himself, Hawking took that time and mental energy and instead learned about science, and in doing so he became one of the most famous in history. There’s a huge lesson for all of us in the example of his life. Undoubtedly the majority of people at the time would never have believed that he could have achieved what his soul lead him to achieve.

The only downside to using Hawking is that he’s famous, and we don’t want to mistake fame or public success as defining what fits a calling or path for ourselves. Sometimes calling’s are quite painful or tedious, and they can include interesting things like being a journalist, or a child care worker; or dangerous things like being a soldier or deep sea researcher. But it can also be things like looking after a disabled child, or caring for an infirmed family member, or planting trees for a logging company, or even patiently and quietly looking after lepers, as one famous case proved.

Healthy people find a rhythm that suits them and how their brains naturally work. I’ve noted it before; after his enlightenment Robert Pirsig wrote technical manuals because he was good at it and he enjoyed it. He also didn’t care if anyone else thought it was boring. He wasn’t here to live a life approved by other people, he was here to live out the calling of his own soul. We are to, so we have to stop talking to ourselves so that we can feel what ours is telling us. If we confuse those feelings with all kinds of ego-created emotions we’ll live in a state of anxiety.

1246-Relax-and-Succeed-Follow-your-soul.jpg

We can’t trust our feelings until we’re quiet-minded enough to be able to tell them from the emotional products of our egocentric conversations between our many selves. We must stop trying to speculate everything, and stop predicting our future, and instead we must just let go, go quiet, be ourselves, and then trust with all of our heart that we’ll know our direction. And our direction might seem crazy. It might be to not take any action right now. It might be to do something doomed to fail. But if the feeling says we feel right about out in our deepest core, that’s worth paying attention to.

It’s not your job to judge the larger meanings. Our role is simply to be ourselves, apparently dumb decisions and mistakes and all. This whole universe is far too complex to ever be grasped by our limited consciousness. But if we relax and trust that our feelings matter, the small part of the universe that is our path will suddenly become illuminated. Our path is always waiting for us . We need only turn our attention to 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.

Following Your Calling

1245 Relax and Succeed - The things you are passionate aboutWhen a dictionary describes a calling they say something along the lines of, “a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation.” Despite this definition most people get confused about how to recognise their calling or path because they too-often see it as strictly work-related, which confuses the perception process.

Yes, it’s good if you have a vocation; something you’re particularly well suited to, or something that you enjoy doing. But your calling doesn’t know borders like work and social. Your calling always impacts you because it’s a kind of compulsion.

It’s rarely the kind of thing you can explain to another person using words. It’s too subtle to be hacked up into individual pieces. That said, I’ll do my best to describe how you can find yours, and the value in trusting it.

1245 Relax and Succeed - If you don't follow your heart

When people feel like they have made a bad decision they know it because they tell themselves so in their thoughts, and the amount they do that will impact how much they feel the suffering. But people with a calling don’t ever ask whether something’s enjoyable or perfect or even as-described. They simply do it because there’s no other choice. It’s the same reason people don’t like being called hero after doing something heroic. They know full well that they had no choice–they were called to act. To not act would be more painful than to act.

You can see this in jobs and relationships. Once the pain of the job outweighs the value, the person can leave quite easily. But before that there’s a lot of ego-weighing going on. With a calling there’s no weighing because it’s irrelevant. It’s like telling someone who wants to be an Olympian that it’ll mean working-out all the time. Obstacles have no effect except to invigorate a response.

For the driven athlete it’s still a price, but it’s not a problem because it is a step on a journey they feel called to take. It doesn’t even mean they’ll make the whole journey. They could get the flu during the Olympics and ruin their chance at a medal. But they did not ruin their chance at enjoying life through having followed their calling. The Olympics last two weeks. The preparation often takes more than a decade1245 Relax and Succeed - It is only couragePart of the pain of leaving professional organized sports is that athletes must take on a singular approach to life when previously their dedication lead them to make themselves subservient to the needs of the team. Notice that: they permit their freedom of choice to be taken away in service to their calling. They feel they need to do it as a part of who and what they are.

It’s the same reason a leader feels comfortable making a decision for a hundred thousand employees. If that’s their calling, then they feel comfortable just like the athlete. It does not mean they’ll win the Olympics or an election or keep their CEO job, but they’ll be fully invested when they try. So will the guy who surrendered into his calling to become something that others wouldn’t see value in. It doesn’t have to be notable to be your calling.

Many people think it’s crazy that I’d work so hard to build such a beautiful home only to sacrifice it so that I can care for my parents. People say “put them in a home,” but that’s not what they want and I love them, and so I offered because I felt called to do it. The fact that it isolates me and is often boring, and that it prevents me from working as much as I’d like; in the end none of that personal “pain” matters. The price is irrelevant. I feel called. To not do it I would have to not be me. I always listen to this pull even when others think it’s crazy. That’s freedom.

1245 Relax and Succeed - Some beautiful paths
Path

Don’t ask yourself what the perfect job or person or life for you is. Ask instead what do you want to do even when it’s hard? What would you do if you won the lottery or if you had to squeeze it in between three other jobs?

When you’re looking for your calling you’re not looking for joy or ease or wealth or fun. You’re looking for inspiration, effort and reward. You’re looking for something you’d make sacrifices for. For some that’s trading gridlocked traffic for the freedom of being a courier with no boss hanging over their head. For others it’s surrendering a successful life to care for a loved one. In the end it’s the same thing.

Stop looking for appealing things and start looking for things you’d pay a price for, whether that’s in the realm of a job, relationship or even a hobby. The appealing parts of life are for your ego, but the rewards in our lives don’t come from that basic attraction, the rewards come from the kind of devotion that exacts a price.

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.