Some of you may have heard about the earthquake that happened in Christchurch, NZ last weekend. It is still happening in the minds of the local people there because of the on-going aftershocks that are continuing to quake. Some of these are being felt more intensely than the original quake and is evoking much apprehension about the immediate future. Men, children, elderly alike are all feeling very afraid about the "not knowing what is going to happen next" situation. As each aftershock hits, more buildings are showing new cracks and damage and the Earthquake Commission has to re-check all the buildings before deciding on their demolition, rebuild or site-safe status. Over 100,000 homes have been affected which has put an extreme burden on the community to find temporary housing for all those people. Their home life, schedules, access to belongings, jobs, transportation access have all been altered with unknown expected completion dates looming. The downtown core is shut off to everyone except tradespeople, inspectors, army, police and fire brigades attending to over 500 damaged buildings and major streets.
The community has rallied together to assist in any way they can to those disadvantaged persons and neighborhoods but the one aspect that is hard to assist with is the constant fear felt by all. Even seasoned people who have dealt with quakes before are feeling the continuing stress of this quake's tentative rumblings. Men are crying from stress and being physically overworked at moving debris like bricks, metal girders, contaminated sludge and glass. Children are sticking very close to family and the women are overwhelmed with caring for everyone. Many who lived alone are needing companionship to help them through the fear of these tough times. We also had a very tragic plane crash same day as the earthquake which killed everyone on board. Nine people from the sky diving industry and tourists lost their lives on takeoff on the west coast of NZ which brought further sadness to the people of NZ.
You are also probably aware of the many disasters happening all over the world right now: Pakistan floods, Russian fires, Mexico floods and much more. These transformative times, which have been prophesied in many teachings, are indeed happening. We can look at this with trepidation and go down the course of the end times or we can use these clearings as a sign for all of us to renew the inner purposes of our lives and become clearer, focused and accepting of this change for better times. In the span of our lifetime, physical danger is small. Emotional fear is the greatest.
We have been carrying humanity's fear in our nervous system for eons and with our ever-evolving consciousness growing towards peace and compassion, it is time to end this stock of fear for good. This will make way for us to start experiencing our world as "oneness with all things" and bring about the golden age of peace. We each of us only have to accept and acknowledge our own personal fear as we feel it and allow the next moment to arrive. As we fully experience each present moment, the past will no longer have an coloration in our lives and we can be free to live now. The more we do this, we start to experience life without the "hangers on" of fear, anxiety, frustration and depression of the past and truly live life with pure freedom. Trusting in this process, no matter how difficult it is sometimes to stay with the feeling of fear, will nurture you through to a state of trusting your world and the true potentiality for us all.
Here is one technique to assist you with this.
Intending to stay with the process of feeling the fear is the first crucial step.
Sit down if you can and give yourself this moment which can pass through quickly if allowed.
Put your attention on your breath and keep it there. No need to change it for now.
As your mind moves to the worse case scenario, gently bring it back to the breath.
As your breath starts to slow down or deepen, put your focus on your body and notice if there are any tense parts.
Gently choose to relax these parts one at a time and re-focus on the breath.
Allow any emotions to surface without pushing them down. This does not mean you have to cry out every time either. The more you allow, the easier they will flow out with needing to cry to bleed it out. After an earthquake, it takes awhile for things to settle. It is the same for us when releasing huge stresses; so be gentle on yourself.
As the body begins to relax more, give gratitude to yourself and the process for being there.
Bring forward a thought of someone or something that brings a smile to your face and appreciate that. Allow an internal smile to warm your heart.
Well done! Another moment lived completely; the rest is a breeze...one at a time.
That is how you heal the world of fear. It always starts with our own feelings because we are not separate from the world. The more you are willing to feel everything, something new takes place. Self awareness blossoms and you start living life without anxiety, distress and suffering; living life effortlessly with causeless joy! This is here and now for every, single person on the planet, and that includes you!
You cannot be truthful if you are not courageous You cannot be loving if you are not courageous You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous You cannot inquire into reality if you are not courageous Hence courage comes first ... and everything else follows Osho
Children are the most courageous of all because of their innocence. They say what they feel and are always clear about what they say. They always come from their hearts. Many an adult has been stung by the clarity of a child's words and even more have chosen not to take the reflection to heart and see themselves in the truth of it. We have grown up to believe that only age and life experience brings wisdom and the right to pontificate, forgetting the insights conveyed through the children. Our primary understanding, that we are in the roles of being teachers to children, has myopically blinded us to our true path of being students of Life, our real purpose.
Each one of us is walking a unique path in this world and each is crucial to the whole. To be courageous is to commit to that unique life and accept responsibility for everything we are. It takes real resolution to stand up for every feeling, thought, action and response that you experience. However, most of us have lived a life in denial of all these feelings and thoughts and even totally forgotten deeds that have happened. We push down the intensity of many emotions because of our fear of what would happen if we allowed ourselves to express them. As a result, our lives are made up of thousands of incomplete experiences which continue to color and distort all our present moments. All these unfinished instances make up our fear; that and the energy we expend keeping them in darkness. We do not even realize this is happening; however we are aware of the patterns that form and that we cannot seem to do anything about them. These patterns are only there because of the unfinished experiences of the past and we only need to acknowledge and feel these whenever them present. As we do this, the present becomes uncluttered and clear and trust is born out of each completely lived experience.
It takes courage to look inside when invited by these surfacing feelings and emotions. They usually come in the form of a reaction to something or someone and rise up with gusto. We again attempt to push them down but we are not always successful...thank God. It is only when we allow these reactions or emotions or thoughts to gently flow out to the conscious mind, that we can become free of them for good. Most of the times, it is because we do not like the sensations they give us in our bodies when they surface so we stuff them down. We think we have done a good job, but they always re-surface in another way. Sometimes they can show up as illness, erratic outbursts, delusional rantings, post-traumatic episodes, controlling behavior, indulgent emotions and tantrums, phobias, assaults and addictions. Mostly they highlight our frustrations, depression, disappointments, low self esteem, judgments, beliefs, opinions, lack of self-confidence and so on. By beginning to remain true to each moment we bring about the freedom of living life with flow and true happiness. This happiness expands by living each present instant exactly as it is, thereby transforming courage into fearlessness and leading us back to our origins of innocence.
"Willingness is not willpower, the -" pull up your bootstraps" - kind. Willingness is more like surrender to one's deep longing"
None of us is new to the idea that letting go or surrendering is key to opening up to a richer and happier life. Although this advice is given by many hoping to help someone in crisis or stress, before you can let go, you have to acknowledge your attachments to more easily bring this about otherwise we are just capitulating or giving in. So, what are attachments?
Living a life of duality is one filled with rights and wrongs, good and bad, love and fear, peace and conflict and so on. These views get created through our processes of attachment and aversion. Our inner security is laid on a false bed of past experiences of pleasure and feelings of pain. As these experiences build on one another, we become attached to people, to concepts and ideas, choices, beliefs, colours, foods, etc. We also hold strong to judgments towards experiences which have delivered emotional and mental pain and we create an aversion to them, mostly to the possibility of them happening again, which creates fear. These attachments and aversions hold us in servitude to the principles we believe are important to true happiness; instead we only get temporary relative happiness. They keep us tied to our illusions, beliefs, judgments and to poverty consciousness. Since the process of life is in a constant state of change, we continue to attempt to hold onto these attachments and aversions and fall more deeply into suffering. This cycle perpetuates our separation from knowing the truth of who we truly are.
True letting go is the willingness to surrender or give up any position. There can be no position if we want to be free from suffering. This positionality has been forged by all our incomplete experiences where we formed a judgment. These judgments can be about anything and in most cases we think they are good for us. For example, our choice of buying a particular home over another and the experiences we have in that home will later hold us either in attachment or aversion. If we connect a home with love and joy then we can become attached and this could prove limiting when we attempt to sell it later. Conversely, if we have had bad memories with it, we could also have problems selling it in the future.
Recognizing that we have such attachments or aversions is the first step to moving on. You can recognize that you have come across one because it will feel constraining, or things will not flow, or you will have a day from hell, or you may experience anxiety, or you are being headstrong, and other symptoms you are familiar with. We only need to admit and acknowledge that something within is stuck, then the energy holding it in place can begin to shift. The root of shifting happens by having the willingness to let go. Simply, saying to yourself that you are truly willing to let go of any held position, automatically changes the course of life in that moment and brings about harmony. Let's go back to the example of the house. Let's say you are having trouble holding onto your home because of falling on hard financial times. You do everything you can to make those mortgage payments but things continue to go downhill. You can stop your suffering by noticing the fear around losing the house and maybe even being embarrassed by it all. Choosing to be willing to let it go can bring about a shift in consciousness which can result in your life predicament changing and suddenly manifesting the income to stay. It may even bring about a re-possession of the home but this may lead you to a place where you find a new beginning with new friends or a new job possibility or a new opportunity. Just do the best you can and then step back and leave the rest to the All Knowable in Life. The more your willingness to let go flows, as each situation arises, the more you begin to know what you are actually surrendering to.
By seeing those patterns that are repeating, that are giving you the same results, your awareness expands and you break the cycle. It becomes easier to notice when it is time to surrender because you will be more familiar with those constricting feelings and will more quickly and willingly let go of each position as it surfaces. Life gets easier and more joyful as you choose to flow with it rather than control it. Knowing yourself begins to dawn as you spend more and more time in peaceful, silent space as you go about your day.
There is not a day that goes by when we do not go through some kind of stress. We are not aware of most of it because it happens silently in our bodies or at a subconscious level. What stresses we are aware of, we only have about 5-7% access to our conscious mind to deal with it. That is why stress is such so depleting to our lives.
However, there is something you can nurture, that will change the face of the way you experience stress forever.
Stress comes in many forms and it is not all negative. Eustress is the stress type that is needed, in order to kick into action, like in getting ready to run a race. It prepares the heart, the muscles and the mind for the strength needed to achieve whatever you need to do. Excitements at winning the lottery or getting to ride the limousine to your wedding ceremony are also examples of eustress.
Mostly, stress is of a negative nature and this distress can be acute or chronic. Acute stresses are intense and come up rather quickly. They force us to take stock and make fast adjustments then it is over, like avoiding a dog in the street as we are driving. Chronic stress builds when our known routine is constantly changing and it affects our bodies for long periods of time.
We can also become stressed by not having enough stress, which we call hypostress. This shows up if we are in a boring and unchallenging job causing us to be restless and uninspired with life. But the stress type we tend to get overwhelmed with is hyperstress. Working a job where the demands are increasing every week and you feel like you are going to blow is a common situation. Even little occurrences may bring up repeated instances of acute stress, sometimes leading to emotional outbreaks. Then when you add in the home stressors, it can all become too much. Over time, this can have serious repercussions with our mental, emotional and physical health. What to do???
There are many different types of stress relief techniques and although some can be very effective in the short term, new stresses will pop up demanding yet again more changes to sidestep them. Sometimes, just remembering what these stress relief techniques are and remembering to do them becomes a new stress in itself. We start to judge ourselves for not doing them. Some long-term solutions will eventually bring about lasting changes like yoga & meditation. These require on-going commitments that also need you to buy articles of clothing, mats, yoga videos, books or studio membership fees. Also, unless you are ready to face yourself, you can still avoid the patterns that are re-creating the stressors to keep coming up.
True self-awareness is the quickest, clearest and easiest method of making definite changes. Although you do not have to do weird postures, think you can stop your mind or dig into your past to relive painful moments, it does take great courage and commitment to total self-responsibility. If you are dead serious about taking control of your life and stepping beyond the endless emotional eruptions, or fighting with your busy mind or calling yourself dreadful names and building self-hatred, there is another way.
Self-inquiry is an active role you play by asking yourself, “Who am I”. It can bring about many other thoughts and get you caught up in just more merry-go-rounds unless you learn the insider’s wisdom. This method can be effortless, if you do not fight it; it can be the most revealing; the most rewarding; and lead you to perfect contentment; a space where you no longer experience hyperstress or hypostress or chronic stress; just a natural flow from one experience to another with causeless joy and peaceful existence.
So what is this ancient tip?
The secret is to do nothing. No avoidance, no pretending it is not happening, no chanting, no special movements, no figuring it out, no punching the pillow. You simply observe. You observe your thoughts, your feelings, your body sensations, your emotions, your reactions, your escape mechanisms and be perfectly present with each experience. Now at first you may continue to pretend, avoid, kick the tree, etc. but if you intend to stick with the new approach, all that conditioning will eventually disappear. Bit by bit, your day will hold special quiet moments of peace rather than an on-going undercurrent of anxiety or doubt. These lulls will start to permeate your life more and more and you will know something is changing when someone notices how “different you are now”.
So if you are keen to develop mastery in your life, take the first step by being willing to become an observer of your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Commit to this now and open to all things possible.
In an earlier post, we looked at how acceptances of past hurtful experiences with others heal by choosing to acknowledge their existence and allowing this attention to dissolve the pain. This begins to unbind the limited view we have of ourselves and assists us in becoming free of suffering.
However, primarily we have to learn how to be nonviolent toward ourselves. Every day we say many destructive, unkind and judgmental thoughts to our self and if we were to direct these aloud to another person, we would be floored at their truly violent nature. In truth,few of us would dare to be as unkind to others as we are to ourselves. These self-harming thoughts come when we criticize our body, compare ourselves to another and feel we do not measure up in our minds, someone criticizes us, are in physical pain, we have hurt ourselves and then blame our self for it, denigrate our self for not succeeding at a task and so on. The chances for being unkind are numerous but then so are the chances for growing into self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is the foundation of self-love and therefore, freedom. We first begin by needing others to be our friends to feel important, liked, accepted and loved. This dependence is key for us to realize the power of community and that we are all heading in the same direction with common desires of living a joyful and peaceful life. It also shows us the multitude of different ways in which our growth can succeed because we are all approaching life in different ways. It teaches us about tolerance and acceptance of these differences. We also need each other to see ourselves more clearly. This self-reflection is a generous gift if we are ready to accept it as so. We will be expanding on this way of internal shifting in a later post. Sufficient to say for now that any thought, word, or action that prevents us from growing and living freely is one that is harmful.
We can nurture this self-acceptance by intending to be more aware and accepting of our thoughts. First, choose to be like an innocent witness to their flow in the mind. We can then expand this innocence by allowing them to flow out without us adding more fuel to their denatured content. Look at each thought like a bee or bird flying by. They thoughts are only real if we pay attention to them and make them personal. They are not local and belong in the universal consciousness of all of humankind. If you swear that they are yours, you are simply fighting for your imperfection. Often, emotions accompany these thoughts. Do the same with them. Simply allow them to be and they will flow out as well. The emotions do not make the thoughts any more real and personal unless we allow them to.
By beginning to accept the possibility that we all share these thoughts and this nature of the mind, you allow the Truth of who you are to reveal itself more and more. Over time, this becomes your prevailing experience and leads to everlasting causeless joy that originates from deep within you. Cultivating an attitude of harmlessness to you is the gift that extends outward in the manner of true kindness and friendship to all beings.
Our lifetime of millions of moments of experiences is strewn with many hurtful and wounded feelings. By allowing these past occurrences to organically surface, we have the opportunity to clear ourselves of future episodes of pain and start living life in the way that was meant for us. A joyful, content and fulfilling engagement! Remember that huge, painful fall you had when you were four years old that resulted in a scar on your face that you see every time you look in the mirror. Remember that beautiful doll you wanted but could have it because there was not enough money to get it. Then, there were those times when you were ridiculed by a group of other kids. And what about your first love; the one you gave your whole heart to and then were dropped as if you were a fad that had gone bad. How about those critical remarks by a teacher? Alternatively, perhaps you were overweight and constantly made fun of by other kids in school.
Sometimes we are accused of something we did not do and it causes us to lose a relationship or a job or respect by our peers. Maybe our sister or brother just seem to do everything right but it makes us feel small in the eyes of our parents. For some of us, no matter how hard we try, what we do just isn’t good enough for our father.
All that pain we carry around with us every day! Some we are aware of, some not.
It is all there in our subconscious mind and periodically surfaces from time to time. It seems to band together inside, like some sort of secret society, silently sneering at our every thought or feeling, breaking down our self-esteem and confidence. We do not understand it but just have this underlying uneasiness about life. It seems like we are always striving to get something or somewhere that will finally make us happy, free us from all the doubt and make us feel like we have finally made it. Instead, we clear one hurdle, ten more come to the party and we feel like we never get ahead.
The answer is simple when applied bit by bit; the answer is acceptance. Yet, why aren’t we all doing it, if it’s that easy?
The best time for us to learn is when we are young and fully ready to grasp the most intricate and subtle of behaviors. We are like sponges mimicking everyone around us so we can fit in and be accepted. So, there is that word again! As young children, we just say or do without thinking. Unless we grew up in a fearful environment, we could express whatever we were feeling. Only this natural way of being got distorted, as the adults in our life modeled how to hide feelings and deny emotions and generally resist what was really happening. We were told to be quiet and behave. We also learned that if we just push back, got louder or persist we would get our own way. We also learned the art of subtle manipulation and we do not even know when we are doing it except those times when we want to cover up intense feelings. The very people and community, who were to show us the art of acceptance, could not do it for themselves because they were not shown either. So slowly, we began to keep back our feelings and not fully acknowledge them. We held onto those hurts and kept grudges. Now, we have the chance of changing all this conditioning and quicken our personal development by beginning to accept what has happened in the past and in this very moment. No need to dredge anything up either! By intending to start accepting life exactly as it is, whatever emotion or thought stream is incomplete, will naturally come to the surface. I can feel your dread right now at this thought but if you also intend for this process to be effortless and gentle, it can all pass through without a lot of drama and resistance. To begin this process, do the following steps:
Choose a quiet, relaxed place and sit down comfortably. Make sure the radio or television is shut off
Close the eyes gently and begin to watch your breathing.
Mentally ask your body to relax and do a quick scan to see where you might be holding tension. Relax those areas.
Ask, “What do I know about my life as it is now”? “How do I feel about my past”? “How have my relationships been”? What am I holding onto that I can let go right now?
Innocently witness what flows through the mind and notice how you feel about each item or thought.
With those you feel some resistance or judgment about, gently affirm your acceptance e.g. “I accept you in my life” or “I acknowledge that this happened”
Notice how your body starts to relax even more as you begin to accept all the aspects of your life.
When it feels like it is done for this session, put your awareness back on your breathing for a few moments and gently open your eyes
Repeat this process every day until you begin to flow more easily with the idea of acceptance.
When we stop fighting with our past, our present becomes full with wonder and excitement. There are no overlays of pity, victimhood, hurtful memories and lost possibilities. We can now show up for our real life! So choose now to begin accepting everything exactly as it is and watch those deep hurts dissolve.
Picture being in a room and in this room there are tasks to do. You have to do them all in order to get out and progress onward towards the final mission. As you complete the last task, you are immediately through to the next room with more assignments.
As in life, the place you are in now is your “present room” that comes with all of its components. Sometimes there are death defying tasks and some are pretty easy as we gather our cherished items. The tasks could include letting of something someone said that hurt us, or that we had to fully accept an intense feeling, or acknowledge a deep desire, or notice that we are eating badly or that we had to put a system in place for us to remember those important things and so on. The ones that are presented to us are just the perfect ones for that room in order to progress on. All that you see is all that you need to do to progress. You cannot make a mistake or have to see some invisible thing in order to proceed. What you see is what you do.
Now, we do have the choice not to deal with the tasks and but become stagnant and be forced to move. These are times when we distract ourselves or deny what is going on. Pretty soon our room gets dirty and we get lost in it all. We feel like we have no where to go. But if we clear the space and get on with it with grace and clear conscious choice, we easily find ourselves in a new room. The more we do this, the easier the way gets even though the challenges may become fast and furious. Sometimes, depending on which tasks we undertake, we go through to a different doorway but a doorway nevertheless. There are many doorways and rooms but they all lead to Mission Control, the Treasure Room. That’s when the game gets real interesting! More on that later.
All those choices to go forward will help you integrate with your new understandings and empower you to believe in yourself and know who you are. You start to feel lighter and more optimistic about the progress. You feel you are more ready to take on each progressive challenge and task.Then what happens is the vision you have of yourself broadens and becomes clearer. You have just moved through to the next doorway and stepped into the next present moment room. Your life now becomes more purposeful.Even the more difficult missions and exercises are approached with more savvy and intention. You are building on each moment as small successes and all are crucial to each other. You start to see the connection with them all and how they all link to project a clearer path. Like pixels in a picture, the more little dots you have, the clearer the resolution.Eventually you take on more complicated assignments but because you have more clarity with the underlying structure of it all, you are becoming a master.
How many times have you heard the statement, “if it makes you happy” or “are you happy about this?” or “I ‘m doing what makes me happy” or “you make me happy” or “I’m real happy about this” and finally, “don’t worry, be happy”. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this kind of happiness depends on something outside of yourself to be right in order for you to be happy.If that something were to change, as it always does, what happens to that happiness now?
We have all been there at some time when all seemed right with our world. We are in a balanced relationship, bills are being paid on time, clarity and focus on projects is flowing or we are enjoying our work.Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something starts to go wrong. It throws us off kilter and if we resist what is happening and don’t get back in balance right away, something else goes “wrong”. It doesn’t take much and soon it can seem like everything has gone to the dogs.If it keeps on dragging slowly without resolution, our relative happiness starts to wane.If the relationship breaks up, you lose your job or hit a financial crisis; it could lead to great unhappiness. Unless you are someone who bounces back quickly, life can decline into despair.Through those eyes, everything looks bleak. Even those who are able to get back on track more easily; they are still being buffeted on the sea of life through on-going Change. They are still dependent on their life looking a “certain way” so they can feel in control.This is just illusory. Until you experience life from a place of expanded neutrality, your happiness will always be relative and conditional.
Now what do I mean by illusory?Does it mean that it didn’t happen? No. Does it mean that you are over-emotional? No. Or that it’s all in your mind? No.If you look at the real truth of that question regarding the mind, the real answer is yes. Not in the manner that you imagined it or were delusional in the clinical sense.The mind uses our past to present thoughts and feelings on various on-going experiences of life.Some of our reactions come with conscious recognition of a past memory but mostly we are unconscious to their hidden causes.This subconscious state overshadows our perception of life all of the time except when we have a full present moment.These precious times of clarity stand out because you notice that something feels different. You can’t quite put your finger on what but you just know.It is effortless, peaceful, clear, expansive, freeing and still. There are no intrusions from the mind, just pure creative potentiality. Since the predominant time is normally colored with zoned-out patterning, there is not anything you can do about that while it is happening. You cannot be aware when you are not so accept the fact that for that time, you are not. Where the illusion part comes in is that the mind drags in this past template over your current moment, without you knowing it and we react or respond from that place.The illusion is that you are not truly experiencing what is transpiring in the present moment in its pure state.
But here is the exciting part. You are more conscious now than five years ago or even one year ago.You have always been moving towards clarity even if it doesn’t seem like that now. At first, it is so subtle because we are so distracted by all the outside happenings and the overlay of the past which creates jumps into possible futures. Eventually, our mind gets clearer and we begin to truly start being in the NOW. It is from this place that you can really begin to help another and fulfill your greater purpose.
Let me explain this in another way. Imagine a glass of water caked with sludge in the bottom and imagine a steady stream of water pouring into it. Does the water become cloudy and turbulent? Eventually do chunks break off and float up to the surface and then over the edge? Of course! That is what is happening to us. Our vessel of consciousness became caked with incomplete and dissatisfied experiences that started to clog us up from the time we were born. At the same time, the purity of Life continues to stream in until finally our muck has to dissolve and move. This clearing and growing is always happening even when it looks like we are addressing the same issues over and over again. In each moment, you are more than what you were previously; even if not so clear to you at first. Eventually, the water out of the glass runs clear. Great gentleness is what is called for here to allow that pure essence moment to be seen by you.This stillness or clear water has always been there. We just have to “show up” for the movement of our life. As we accept the sludge moving and allow it just to be as life purifies it through us, then and only then, can authentic happiness truly begin to be experienced. This causeless state of joy, which is not dependent of any thing or any one, is our natural state of being.