Being Comfortable

 

Being comfortable is nice. Having a purpose is better. Being Useful in our purpose is best of all.

We human beings have a natural attraction to comfort. That is until we experience the fulfillment of a useful, purpose-filled life. Then our idea of comfort changes.

So, what is being comfortable and how can being attached to it get in our way?

Did you know that a Bodhisattva makes a vow to live in bliss under the sky? Being a former camper when my boys were young, I have a hint of living under the sky. It was for short periods of time and always with a hot shower and flush toilets near-by. Not too Bodhisattva’ish. And of course, that is not precisely what that means.

Being comfortable is much more than the physical. Although that aspect of our comfort needs is useful and an excellent place to measure just how attached we are to things not changing or not wanting to be uncomfortable. For example, I notice how people respond while attending courses or retreats which have a structure and timeline different than they have in their personal lives. With some participants, the discomfort of being out of their controlled routine gets in the way of their experience.

Changing jobs, moving, relationships ending or changing, standing in our truth, taking a deep breathe and moving toward something unknown, all push us out of our comfort.

Getting up earlier to meditate, changing a habitual behavior, choosing a higher and less comfortable response in a usual situation, doing something different than we are accustomed to ~ all of these move us out of our comfort zone.

Moving out of a comfort zone expands us. Brain patterns switch channels; the conscious mind realizes there are more choices, the unconscious records that knowledge fed back to us. Stepping out of our comfort zone lifts veils of limited perspective ~ we see more. We begin to experience we are more, we can do more, and we can Be more. We will never experience our greatness unless we are willing to be uncomfortable.

In time we grow to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and realize it is the only way to live. That is when we recognize the joy of living a useful, purpose-filled life.

May We All Walk in Beauty

Two Inseparable Companions Part II

Grace under pressure is a saying often attributed to someone who, regardless of what is happening, manages to stay calm, think clearly and respond appropriately. That state of consciousness applies well to one who has developed a healthy relationship with their Thinker and Prover.

As we continue to consider the importance of these two friends that are always with us, the Thinker and the Prover, it would be easy to focus our intention on changing every negative, disempowering thought to a positive one.

That won’t work.  For two reasons.  One is we are not even aware of all our thoughts and two it would be so exhausting we would soon give up.

So, what can we do to empower ourselves in this relationship? First is to realize we dance with the Thinker and Prover in a rhythm that either empowers or disempowers us. And to remember we do have choice.

We can pay attention and recognize the disempowering thoughts as we become aware of them and stop embracing them. When we grab hold of a disempowering thought we easily go down our personal rabbit hole, affirming what’s wrong with us or the world and then the Prover goes to work.

Second is to learn how we can avoid being at the control of our thoughts. That comes from a meditation practice. The kind that has us allowing the thoughts to pass by like clouds in the sky, taking our focus off of the thought and back to the breath, or counting, or mantra.

Meditation is a practice of not embracing all the random thoughts that are constantly present whether we are aware of them or not. When folks meditate regularly, they build focus and clarity muscles. They begin to be clearer and respond instead of reacting to life. That is a pretty amazing benefit.

Begin noticing when you are having disempowering (negative) thoughts. As soon as you notice, do something to change directions of where that negative thought can take you. Consider the thought and if you want your Prover to go about proving it. That alone could bring a “Yikes! Maybe that is not the direction I want to go.”

Becoming instantly positive, with no problems, or in a state of bliss is not the point. Recognizing that the mind is going to think, with or without our help, is.

Our job is to choose what we will embrace. Choosing can be easier and faster when we consider that what we choose to think, our Prover will prove. Recognizing the validity of the Thinker and Prover could be the perfect motivator for choosing on what to focus.

May We All Walk in Beauty

 

Two Inseparable Companions

 

We have two companions that act as a unit, inseparable. Like the wings of a bird, these two companions are the synergistic values that allow the bird to fly. Or we could say, like waves and the calm ocean dance together as one expression of the same whole. These two companions work in tandem, playing off each other to produce a result. They cannot be separated, just as we cannot have a physical life without breath.

Wisdom tells us we all need to make friends with these two companions. They can be our best friend or our greatest adversary.  Our two constant companions are the Thinker and the Prover. We think something and the Prover goes to work proving it.

Consider the impact of the Thinker and the Prover.

Positive thinking helps and is limited because we are not aware of most of our thoughts. We need not be aware of our thoughts the prover is proving. There are many ways to improve our relationship with these two companions to an empowering relationship. The first is to accept they exist. Begin noticing your thoughts. Shifts in awareness automatically cause change within us.

Successfully working with the Thinker and the Prover takes vigilance, paying attention and often Herculean effort. Evolution is Attitudinal Healing ~ becoming a clear human being. It’s a step by step process, like building up weak muscles or changing a bad habit to a good one.

This conversation to be continued next week….

May We All Walk in Beauty

 

 

Spiritual Materialism

There was an ashram with a pet cat that would always come into the meditation room and disturb the meditators. The Teacher instructed that when it was time to meditate the cat was to be tied to a pole. In time the Teacher passed away. Meditation time with the cat tied to the pole continued. Then when the cat died the students got another cat to tie to the pole.

Spiritual materialism can be like that; getting caught up in form: wearing certain clothes or eating a certain way or specific prayers, mantras, practices, or conducts of behavior. We can tie the cat to the pole and never ask what’s the point? Worse we can convince ourselves that our particular cat and pole are the best.

The point of spiritual practice is to develop a healthy ego. Instead we often feed an unhealthy one with the righteousness of ideology and methodology.

The book I am recommending is Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trumpa.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was an amazing Master Teacher who brought the highest-level Tibetan Buddhist Teachings to the west. He was extraordinary in busting people’s concepts of what “being spiritual” should look like.

My early religious education and experience prepared me to not put too much importance on the outer form. In my teens I went from Protestant Evangelical to Roman Catholic. Since then I have met many Masters from many religious and spiritual traditions. Some wore monastic robes and some wore jeans; some adhered to strict disciplines and some did not.

Although the look, the practices and the rules were significantly different from each other in these different paths, I found great beings in each place. The commonality of all these great Masters was their Beingness; their unshakable presence, an obvious Knowingness that elevated my consciousness and expanded my experience of reality. Some of them didn’t fit my picture of a holy person ~ yet I knew they were.

Every aspect of our existence is spiritual simply because we are first and foremost spiritual beings. We use our human experience to uncover and develop our spirituality ~ our sense of Self and our relationship to the world. This significant book points out the pit falls of getting caught up in “being spiritual” so that we can actually have the experience of “being” spiritual.

It is my hope that you enjoy this book and that you gain an expanded perception.

May We All Walk in Beauty.

Being “Spiritual”

First came the awareness of being a human being having a spiritual experience. Then Wisdom cleared away that concept to the truth of, we are a spiritual being having a human experience.

What does that mean?

The Wholeness of us is as a spiritual being; we are a spiritual being in the human being life school.

It’s like being a university student. You are a person that is having a university student experience. You might call yourself a student, just like we refer to ourselves as mom, dad, artist, banker, human being. Sort of a label of explanation about what we do, what roles we are playing. Even with the usefulness of these descriptive labels we know we are more than that.

There are no separate parts to us that designate one as a human being and one as a spiritual being. We are one being of Wholeness. We are a spiritual being who is having a human experience.

Living a life in the mundane world as a human being is not separate from our innate spirituality. Mundane versus spiritual is a difficult concept to understand and accept because of an incorrect understanding of what being spiritual is.

Being spiritual is not about always being happy, kind, with no challenges or individuality. Nor walking around as a benevolent being that radiates constant goodness, agreement, and approval. No one gets everyone’s agreement, or approval and goodness is a perception of the perceiver.

We cannot not be a spiritual being because that is part and parcel of the package of humanness. That some people are not aware of their innate spiritual nature and have no manifestation of it does not alter the fact that there is a spark of God within. With some folks that spark is deeply buried.

Who you are is who you are, where you’re at is where you’re at, wherever you go, there you are. You are the common denominator in your existence. How we express ourselves as a spiritual being and how we perceive others as spiritual beings is a manifestation of the level of our clarity, of our evolution.

When we think we are only spiritual when meditating or feeling a state of connection to all that is, that creates some kind of separation, often causing doubt since we walk through life feeling very human. We are spiritual beings when eating pizza or meditating, when angry, sad or happy and peaceful.

Who could I possibly be but me? How could I not be a spiritual being? Our journey of Awakening is about coming to experience ourselves as who, indeed we are ~ a spiritual being, learning from our human experience.

 

May We All Walk in Beauty

 

Our Hero’s Journey

party of heros from lord of the ring

Our life is a hero’s journey of unexpected events, surprising challenges, tests of courage and tenacity ~ and immeasurable possibility.

The following poem by J.R.R. Tolkien speaks of the journey of life. I wondered at the beauty and depth of its words. I first saw it several years ago and it remains for me a message of holding hope and faith for a life unfolding in its own precious time. That we each are a hero on our own journey.

All that is gold does not glitter,

          Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

          Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

          A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken:

          The crownless again shall be king.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

 

The poem sums up the quest of Tolkien’s magnificent story. Tolkien’s story is about all of us, our quest, our lostness, our brokenness, our questions and our ultimate victory.

All the beautiful stories of hero’s adventures to solve, restore, vindicate and succeed in their quest for truth and goodness are parallels to our own. Those stories may be more exciting. After all we don’t float by Sirens, fight off a Cyclopes or fight the evils of Sauron. Not exactly.

Yet in our own journey we face distractions, doubts, despair and suffering. In the process of experience we discover what is worthwhile and true for us. Life circumstances test our faith and resolve. If we can see ourselves as a hero on a quest we can understand that no great journey is going to be without great challenges. A hero is a hero simply because he or she is willing to pay the price of greatness. That price will be different for all of us and it will be the same in the demand for us to continue in the direction of that which we seek.

A hero becomes the hero of his own journey when he recognizes that he is the hero who has a destiny to fulfill and accepts the challenge.

 

May We All Walk in Beauty

Small Moments Make a Big Life

How many times have we all heard that it’s the small things in life which make for a great journey? When we hear this we usually think of things like sunsets, full moons, autumn colors or a child’s laughter. There are so many more of those small, joyful moments that can lighten our hearts if we just open ourselves up to them. Some of us are good at finding those moments. Some of us need some practice in lightening up and enjoying the moments more. It’s all those singular moments that make up the story, that define us, that bring us to understand that in the end, past all difficulties, all is well and life is good.

The cat, Mr. Yin, keeps walking across my keyboard. I would never have known except that I return to find my Word doc full of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s or whatever key he pauses on as he searches for the perfect resting place. In the winter he has the habit of curling up on my desk, leaning against my laptop, sometimes on the corner of the keypad. I discovered that’s how I get twelve calculators opened at once.  He always does this when I am away from my desk as though he waits for my move so he can make his. He knows he is not invited and he knows if he gets all comfortable before I return odds are he can stay. Why do I do this? Who knows? Maybe because I find it funny and I like Mr. Yin.

His twin brother Mr. Yang has a different gig finding the perfect resting spot on my shelves, right between the Mahabharata and the basket of receipts waiting to be recorded. He doesn’t ask either.

Cats as I know them have their own unhidden primary agenda – taking care of their needs and comforts. I watch them and try to learn something about myself. They don’t seem to worry and they definitely know how to relax. I wouldn’t want to be so self-absorbed though. I don’t for a minute assume they think I am any greater or more useful than for giving a good petting. Still I get something from our relationship. They bring a certain amount of humor to a day. I think maybe Dr. Seuss might be referring to them when he said, “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” I would miss them if they weren’t around.

We need to look around and pay attention to the small things, laugh more and lighten up. Ever since I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road I am immensely more aware and grateful for a leaf or a weed, a piece of celery, green and alive, and people. Like my granddaughters barreling in the door after school; the silence dissolves into their singing, not to return until bedtime. Could I use more quiet to work? Of course, yet it is worth adjusting in order to participate in small joy-filled moments of life.

I was once told that if you keep care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves. There is no big life without all the small moments.

May We All Walk in Beauty

You Could Move from New York to California and Remain in the Same State

The saying, “Wherever you go there you are” is something most of us eventually discover when trying to get away or make a change in order to feel differently. The state we live in is inside.

I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired as I began my work today. Nothing wrong, just that sort of ho hum lethargy that can easily slip in at times.  My solution was to put on some Aretha.  By the time I got through Chain of Fools, Respect, and found out I was a Natural Woman I was in good shape. We each have to figure out what to do when what we are doing isn’t working. Sometimes I just need to take a few long, deep, focused breaths.

Being able to switch our emotional or mental state is one of our greatest gifts. It’s not always easy. I just know we can do something, even if it is a small baby step. What happens though is we can get caught up in that heavy downward spiral until we finally figure out we are going down a dead-end road.

Everyone has to figure out for themselves what they can do in the moment to interrupt the negativity and shift in the opposite direction. I am pretty sure that is what Lord Buddha was telling us when he said, “Drop It.” These days He might say, “Get off it.”

There is no use denying that we have these moods.  Feelings and emotions are part and parcel of being a human being, no matter how spiritual we might be. Yet, the more aligned we are with our own spiritual nature the more we experience an empowering state of being. In other words, less stress, more equanimity and a lot more inner peace.

What can we do ~ what can you do to shift your state to feel even a bit more empowered in the moment? Some folks take a bath, a walk, pet their cat or dog, bake a cake. Giving encouragement to someone else having difficulties or doing some random act of kindness gets you out of the way. Being self-absorbed in your misery takes a back seat.

Achieving a state of equilibrium is a benefit of doing a meditation practice. If you meditate regularly, circumstances, situations, relationships, daily life just works better. Still there will be moments when emotions and feelings hit a low and there is no capacity to sit and quiet the mind. That is exactly the moment you do the thing that you have discovered will shift you toward getting out of a mental, emotional mire. Maybe Aretha will work for you too.

May We All Walk in Beauty

QUOTE: The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” ~ Victor

What Happened? How Did I Get Here?

Road sign stating GPS is wrongHave you ever looked at your life and asked, “What happened? How did I get here?” Of course there are times when we are where we intended to be and know how we got there. Not so often I think. Our life journey is often more like when we drive to a destination and don’t remember the time between our departure and our arrival. Or other times we clearly head in a direction and get distracted with side trips along the way.

What’s great about waking up to where we are and asking ourselves how we got there is that hindsight can be 20/20 vision. If we are honest with ourselves we can see we set it up. We did it. After all as the Teaching says, We are Cause (with a capital C). And more importantly, there is a good possibility that we knew what we were doing from a Higher Consciousness perspective. Sometimes we didn’t and we have some regrets, which to me is a waste of time.

Often when we look at where we are it is accompanied by some idea of where the world thinks we should be. There’s this whisper from the world at large about what is right, wrong, success or failure regarding any given stage in our lives. I think listening to that is also a waste of time. Life consists of an endless series of adjustments. Living fully, like driving well requires we keep our hands on the wheel and be alert. The journey is rarely what we expected, at times even difficult to understand.

I like what retired surgeon and author, Bernie Siegel says. “If you think your path in life must be logical, then you are path-o-logical.” As usual, Dr. Siegel makes a great point and makes me smile. I can relate.

Everything I had planned for my life when I was much younger, loose as it was, has turned out very differently. The good news is that I am happy about it. All those unexpected places I ended up in seem to have molded me, prepared me for where I was supposed to be all along.

Perhaps it’s normal for us to realize our lives are different than what we thought it would be; sometimes we are pleased and sometimes not. We’re usually not drawn to that reflecting until we are about thirty years old. Coming to grips with things being different and even being temporarily disappointed is a Life Passage. Being absolutely okay with where we are and being okay with the choices we have made for ourselves is a sign of Self-Mastery.

If we end up where we did not intend, we get another GPS direction and start making corrections. Recalibrate. And while we are at it, it’s smart to look around and see what we could have missed had we not ended up where we thought we didn’t want to be. Who knows, maybe we had to be where we didn’t want to be in order to get to where we intended. Any journey worth taking is full of surprises.

May We All Walk in Beauty

QUOTE:

“ A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. ”
~ Jean de La Fontaine, French Poet and Fabulist, 17th Century

Same Kind of Different as Me

Same Kind of Different as Me is what we need to figure out about each other. 

Book Cover Same Kind Of Different

It’s a title of a book and a movie based on a true story. It’s one of those films I wish more folks would take the time to watch.  Same Kind of Different as Me is a compelling story of the resilience of the human spirit and vastness of our capacity to truly love.

It reminds us that we really don’t know another person’s story; given their circumstances where would we be?  It reminds us to not be so quick to judge, to have an opinion of right/wrong, good/bad.

While the story reveals the horror and injustice of racisms, the overlying message is about the power of love to heal and change people and circumstances for the better.

Love is an Action word and the heroine of this story imbibes it; teaches by example and heals those around her.

Take the time to expand your perspective by checking out this true story of human victory displayed in several of the characters. It reminds us to see the humanity and Light of God in each other ~ all of us.

May We All Walk in Beauty