Life is pain?

If life is pain, then it seems the purpose of life is to be ok with this. To accept it and embrace it. For it seems like you can only be happy to the extent that you do this.

If I’m in pain and I’m trying to run away from it, to solve it, whenever I do enter a state of happiness I cling to it, so even that is tainted with anxiety. Worry. Fear.

So you’re never able to truly be happy.

BUT! If you are in pain and you say, ok, I’m in pain, let me feel this. Let me live in this. It’s actually ok. There’s nothing to fix here. It’s perfectly ok. There is an ebb and flow to nature and right now there is pain but it won’t always be here.

As soon as you’re ok with pain, that means you can also be ok with pleasure. The next time you’re happy you can fully embrace it because you won’t be clinging to it. I’m happy now, great! I’ll ride with this as long as it’s here and then when it passes, I’ll go on to the next thing.

So it seems like the purpose of life is to embrace what your current experience is.

If you think it’s your job, you will always be working. 7:00 on a Friday night and you’ll be stressing about everything you need to do. If it’s to give to the poor, same story, you’ll never be able to relax because that is selfish. But if you’re like, when I’m working the purpose of my life is to work, when I’m with my family it’s to be 100% with my family, when I’m eating it’s to be present with my food and that experience. When I’m in pain, my back hurts and I’m angry at the work, IT’S TO BE 100% WITH THAT EXPERIENCE. Every moment becomes the purpose of life, not some grand ideal. Not a static state or only one experience. It becomes everything… Including pain but not limited to it…

I think we all try to avoid this. We find our causes, our grand ideals. Maybe it’s a connection with God. Maybe it’s the relationship you have with your spouse. Maybe it’s the relationship you have with your kids. There is no escaping the pain. You can be very very clever and think you’re beyond it, that you have a special bond with whatever that protects you. You are 100% in love with that experience and pain can never touch you! But if you get very still and really look within you’ll probably find yourself running from it.

I think I’ve finally figured out how to stop running…

buddha laughing

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Happiness isn’t the lack of negative emotions

I recently bought a house that’s about 30 min. outside of the city. Yesterday I was driving to my regular yoga class and had a bit more time to think about things during the drive. All of a sudden I realized there was a tension inside of me. I had no idea where it originated, but I had this thought

“I need to get rid of this tension so I can get back to being in a peaceful state.”

But then I thought to myself, there’s probably a better way to approach feelings like this. That instead of trying to get rid of the uneasiness, I could instead use that as the raw material to create that positive state I was looking for. That a positive frame of mind isn’t won by the absence of negativity, but by being able to work with whatever feelings come up.

This seems to be so much more empowering. Previously it had all been about avoiding uncomfortable situations. That this was the way to happiness. But more and more I’m seeing now that true happiness is the confidence that whatever arises I can use it to create whatever I want.

 

I read a book all about this change in approach that I’d highly recommend. One of my favorites.

On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician

Thought Personification

In my last post I wrote about an experience I had separating from my thoughts which allowed me to personify them. I thought distancing myself from my thoughts was going to be something I’d be able to do consistently, but in a days since that happened I’ve discovered that this is very hard to do. Like I try to imagine my thoughts outside my head, but it doesn’t really work. It’s not near as effective as what happened spontaneously during that meditation.

BUT! Something else from that post really has worked. The idea of personifying my thoughts. I thought the way this is going to work was first distancing my thoughts, then I’d be able to personify them. But actually I see the reverse happening. I first have to turn my thoughts into a person, then I’m able to work with them.

So I start by asking myself, what do my thoughts look like? Are they a jumbled up mess? A tornado? A rubber band ball? This allows me to disconnect from them a little bit and start looking at them objectively. Then I start asking:

If my thoughts were a person what would they look like?
How old are they?
What kind of emotional state are they in?

I’ve been doing this a ton the past few days and I started noticing a few patterns. This person is usually pretty young. Either a child or a teenager. And they are very pissed off and demanding, but right underneath this is fear.

Yesterday I sent an e-mail to a friend in the morning, and the rest of the day I was plagued with worry over what I had said. LITERALLY ALL FUCKING DAY LONG it was eating away at me. Over and over and over. Absolutely miserable. But then at night something clicked. I was able to see the person behind this worry. How terrified they were. How all this worry was just a way for them to try to be in control of something that is uncontrollable… which understandably leads to that feeling of panic.

And I’ve seen this pattern in the past, but being able to see it as something outside myself makes a hugeeee difference. Because it’s so much easier to extend love and compassion to this image. It’s no longer personal. I’m able to step out of that story and view it from above. With an understanding and a sense of grace that is hard to muster when you’re in the thick of it. When you ARE it.

I don’t care what your thoughts are, what do they look like?

I think we spend an over abundance of time concerning ourselves with our thoughts. We’re told how powerful they are, and how they manifest what we see, so we better control them, right? We don’t want any negative thoughts coming in. Only positive stuff!!!

But it seems like the only thing controlling your thoughts does is drive you a little crazy. And actually, I think it can be much more serious than that. We’ve all seen people that are imprisoned by their thoughts. How compulsive and ridgid they are. I think this can lead to serious autoimmune diseases. And also to things like hoarding and OCD.

I was watching pawn stars the other day and saw someone trying to sell them an iron lung. I knew of iron lungs, but had never seen one. It made me think about how awful an existence that must have been. I spent like an hour planning out how I would have killed myself if I was trapped in one. It’s hard to imagine a more horrendous experience.

iron lung

But it occurred to me that this is exactly what most of us do to ourselves. We use our thoughts to build up an iron lung that we keep ourselves trapped in. To protect ourselves from the world. To not let people really see us. Touch us. Hear us. We just barely let ourselves breathe, which is actually true.

And this is so ingrained that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We don’t realize there’s another option.

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I think there are two keys to unlocking us from this prison.

1. It’s necessary to separate your self from your thoughts. You are perfectly capable of functioning without them. Think of professional athletes, racecar drivers. They aren’t thinking and yet they do incredible things.

2. We’ve been trained to verbalize everything. Like when we are reading we sound out each word in our heads. This isn’t necessary. You can just scan over the words and your brain registers it just the same. Verbalizing your experience grinds everything to a halt. What we are can be so much more nimble and responsive than this. Instead try looking at things energetically. Instead of a thought just being a word you hear in your head, what does it feel like? What does it look like? Where does that energy sit in your body?

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After I got some distance from my thoughts and started paying more attention to their energetic structure, I first noticed that most of the time it felt like I was trapped inside a prison. Like I couldn’t breathe. Like I had a straitjacket on. But in seeing this I could gradually shift their structure to where my thoughts were more of a cloud. Something that I could choose to ignore and push aside. They became much less important. Much less appealing. I’d much rather sit in my body without them. This is actually enjoyable. I have room to breathe. To let things flow in and out. I can see things clearly. It’s peaceful.

I can still pull down that bubble and engage my thoughts when I need to do something analytical, but most of the time they aren’t necessary. I can just let them do their thing out there in the cloud, I don’t really need to pay attention to it.

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If you’re trapped in an iron lung, thinking positive thoughts is going to be an uphill battle. You might get a couple here or there, but you’re trapped in a fucking prison. Think about that for a second. How incredibly difficult it would be to be happy in a situation like that. You’d have to be some sort of zen master. I’d fucking lose it if I couldn’t move my body more than a couple inches.

But what if instead you’re lying in a field somewhere feeling the breeze blow through your hair, soaking in the sun. You’re going to be pretty happy without exerting a lot of effort. You can just get out of your way and let everything be.

So if you find yourself trapped in a prison, don’t try to think happy thoughts… GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!

The-Shawshank-Redemption-Script

You aren’t your thoughts (human mind vs God mind)

I just finished reading an incredible book that scientifically analyzes what it means to be sensitive (open to experiences like clairvoyance, intuition, empathy).

The HISS of the ASP

In it he makes a point about how we read. We’ve been trained to say each word to ourselves in our heads. This is a very slow process and is actually not necessary. You can scan through a page just looking at the words without having an internal monologue, and you still understand perfectly well what it is you just read. What we’ve been trained to do is like handcuffing ourselves. We have a ferrari gassed up and ready to go, but insist on pushing it by hand.

I was coming home from a movie tonight and I was getting into this interesting space where everything was very still. It’s like I wasn’t moving and the road was coming towards and through me. It was very peaceful. Then I saw my thoughts kick in as I was changing lanes and I realized…. “why am I thinking now? I don’t need these thoughts. I’m perfectly capable of doing this without them.” We think we need our thoughts to help us navigate through life. It’s like the thoughts are controlling us and guiding us. We ARE our thoughts.

But in actuality we are perfectly capable of functioning without them. And actually, we thrive when our actions aren’t an extension of our thoughts. This is our natural state of being. Think about a race car driver, or a professional athlete. Do you think a receiver is thinking when they are going up to catch a pass?

The same principle applies for mundane life. I don’t need to think about driving. I don’t need to think about how to do yoga. About how to cook dinner.

Our thoughts are there, but it’s not directly related to the moment. It has its own rhyme and reason, and we don’t need to enslave ourselves to them. We can use them as tools when they are appropriate, and then disengage from them when they are no longer needed.

But like most things, this probably goes back to control. We want to keep everything small, moving slowly, exactly as it should be. The only way to do this is living through your thoughts. Relinquishing them is relinquishing control. There is a very different kind of control that emerges if you do this though. A universal one supported by the divine. But it can be a bit unnerving while you’re transitioning between the two…

Terminator

Something big shifted for me last night, and it’s always interesting to me to look back and see the mini shifts that have led up to this large one.

1. My friend Deborah helped me set up my home garden a couple weekends ago. This was the first time I had really gotten my hands dirty like this in a couple years. Which seems totally crazy to me, because it’s something I really enjoy. But living in an apartment, it can be difficult to find situations to really get back into the earth.

garden

I think what this signified to me was the willingness and enthusiasm in getting dirty. Everything doesn’t have to be nice and neat all the time. Self-contained in its nice little box, organized, put away. This is not how nature works.

2. I listened to an amazing TED talk about stress. The idea is that stress is only harmful to you if you believe it’s harmful. If you don’t believe this, stress can actually be immensely beneficial. It’s your body’s way of revving itself up to take on a challenge. You can use this alert energy to move forward into whatever situation you find yourself in.

How to Make Stress Your Friend

So it’s this idea that everything that’s happening within us is actually okay. It can all be used to benefit us. I very much put things into “good” and “bad” buckets, and if I deemed something as not serving me my only response was to try to get rid of it. Now I can take a step back and see the larger picture, and how these uncomfortable feelings can actually serve me.

3. I had an amazing day where I saw my value in a huge variety of situations. It started off seeing my value as a friend, then as a business partner, then on a radio show, then as a counselor, and finally as an energy healer. Each situation was totally perfect and by the end of the day I felt so complete. Self-assured. The feeling I had was like being made out of bronze. Negativity had no way of latching onto me. There weren’t any soft pockets of self-doubt that allowed it entrance. There was no sense of lack.

The image of being bronze encapsulated that, but it wasn’t totally right because it seemed too static. But it was close…

So those are some of the experiences that helped set the stage for what happened last night.

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I was meditating before bed like I always do, and I entered this weird mental state. Almost like I was sinking down into my subconscious. My thoughts were kind of drifting around thinking things that make no logical sense. In usual waking consciousness my thoughts are very orderly. But here, it’s almost like they were in a pre-conscious state so it was much rawer, primal.

And this is where I noticed something interesting happen. I could see how I like to keep things very structured in my mind. Organized. Everything has its place, and I like to keep them separate from each other. This keeps things clean and I believe this helps me think clearly.

But this structure started to collapse a little bit. The boundaries between my different thought systems started to break down and overlap. At first I had these old habits come in trying to keep everything in place, but then I was like “Why am I doing this? What’s it going to hurt if these boundaries come down?”. So I continued to observe this happening, watching everything merge together, and it’s like I was pouring all of these separate parts of myself into a big bowl and mixing it all up. There was some fear here that this was me going crazy. How would I think clearly if everything was mixed up like this? How would I access things quickly in this big mess? It’s like I thought this was going to make me stupid.

But then as it continued I realized something amazing was happening. These tools that I had kept separate meant that they were in a largely static state. They were very powerful when I first started using them, but as I continued to grow and evolve they would loose their effectiveness. So I was always on a hunt for new tools to replace them. But with everything mixed together, all of these separate tools were coming together to create something much more powerful than any tool could be by itself. They could all borrow from each other. So in a trying situation I wouldn’t reach in for a specific tool, I would let this pool form into the perfect tool for that situation. It’s a total flip. instead of trying to make a dynamic world fit a static tool, I now had a dynamic tool that could perfectly interface with any situation. It’s not about finding the right tool, it’s about creating it.

The image I got was of the metal Terminator who could change himself into any form. It wasn’t like the old Terminator who had to use static tools (guns), the newer one could create whatever tool needed. He was completely dynamic.

1295431320-Terminator2_liquid_metal

It’s so cool to me to see how the past few weeks have led up to this.

It’s a breaking down of the static, rigid structure.

It’s seeing that every experience, every emotion can enrich this pool of potential. I don’t have to evaluate something on its potential as an isolated entity. Everything I experience adds value when it can interact with everything else. So that fear, anxiety, worry…. I no longer have to push it away. I can pull it in and use it to feed that pool, I can use it to enrich who I am.

And finally it’s that image of being bronzed. Except it’s not static. It’s constantly shifting, evolving, forming itself to be whatever is needed in the current moment. Especially if that’s a lethal killing machine… I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty 😉

Where’s your head at?

I usually spend around 20 hours a day in my apartment. I work from home, and sleep here, so that makes up 17 right there.

I started noticing that it felt like I was drowning in my thoughts. I had these negative loops start, and I would just keep building them, and building them, and building them, because there really wasn’t anything to break me out of that rut. Every once in a while I would peak above the waves and get a breath of fresh air, but then plunge right back beneath the surface.

But then last week I was out of town the whole week on business. I’ve noticed the past couple times I’ve been out of town that all these thoughts immediately dissipate. I get incredibly clearheaded. I can actually breathe freely again. But then when I get back into my apartment, slowly but surely I build them back up and am back to where I was before.

Except this time it was different. When I got back I started noticing these thoughts when they were forming, before they got to the point where I was drowning in them. And it wasn’t the kind of thing where I was trying to force myself not to think these thoughts, I just shined some light on them. I asked myself “Where are these thoughts originating from? What is my motivation right now? My purpose? Does this make me feel good?”.

And just asking those questions naturally brought me out of the loops. I could clearly and effortlessly see how destructive they were. How badly I felt when I was in them.

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Chapter 9, section 7 “The Two Evaluations”, paragraph 6:

“You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. It’s range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, “who granted it?” The question is meaningless within the ego’s system, because it would open the whole thought system to question..”

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The course is always so timely… this is something I’ve been working on all week, and then I read the above passage this morning and it was just perfect. This is exactly what happened. I would get caught in these patterns and try to figure them out from within them, which would only pull me further beneath the surface. It’s like asking the ego “Hey, what’s going on here? Can you explain this to me”. Of course it’s not going to give you a straight answer, because it was the one who designed the trap. It’s like a prisoner asking a guard “Hey, it’s awful uncomfortable in here, would you mind letting me out?”

But as soon as I got a little distance, I can look back and clearly see how insane it all is. I’ve been home for a week and I’m still totally clearheaded. This is a major accomplishment.

I also love the idea of contrast. I’ve been making a list of the patterns I found myself starting, and what its opposite would be. And then just feeling into which one of these I prefer. Not making a judgement or anything. Just making a choice. Here’s some of the stuff I came up with.

Am I motivated by lack or wholeness?
Am I trying to protect what I have or express who I am?
Am I trying to get things or share things?
Am I desperate or content?
Lonely or secure in the divine?
Fast or slow?
In a panic or calm?
Resentful or grateful?
Doubtful or assured?
Trying to solve a problem which can’t be solved or seeing that there aren’t any problems?
Needing everything to adhere to my plans or releasing it to the divine?

Just establishing this range is so helpful to see how destructive and uncomfortable these patterns are. The more contrast there is, the easier it is to see what truly feeds you. And the easier it is to make a conscious decision.