Friday, May 31, 2013

The Clouds and Peace Within Us

Oh, the plains of peace and serenity, how great it truly feels. Often, when we sit in the meadow, enjoying the soft grass under our feet, the warm sun on our skin, refreshing water from a fresh spring, we can see clouds in the sky and not think much of them. In these moments we’re in touch with our natural state of basic goodness, nothing can shake us. When those clouds darken and begin to push down from the sky, we have a few options; suffocation from fear & anxiety and wonder at the natural beauty of the coming storm are only two.

This is much like our life. We have all experienced that amazing moment of true peace. It’s like time stops, anything is possible. Then, the storm clouds come into view; these are our troubles, our fears. Fear and peace are possible in any moment. It’s our perspective on the current experience that matters. We don’t ignore the clouds, nor do we become consumed with what the clouds may mean for our plans. We recognize the clouds for what they are, as momentary conditions that will eventually pass.

The clouds were always there. Maybe, the clouds were on the other side of the horizon out of sight. Perhaps, they were so wispy we didn’t even notice. In fact, there are clouds in the grass; there are even clouds in you. Clouds produce rain which falls into the soil, which helps the grass and trees grow and flowers bloom. There are clouds wherever you look in nature. There are clouds in life as well. These clouds are as critical to our survival as they are for the meadow or for the spring.

When we begin to see everything within our life as critical to that life, everything becomes workable. The darkness and the light are dependent upon each other. In fact, they are the same. Yes, there are difficult moments. People suffer, people die. These are essential, like oxygen, water and food are essential for life. Some difficult moments can decimate our lives like a tornado or hurricane, even dislodging our very foundations. If we are blessed enough to survive, we can build a better foundation and a stronger more fulfilling life.

Certainly, we can experience sadness, depression, even anger for the losses, for the painful suffering we’re experiencing. However, we should see that our ignorance of the truth fuels the sadness, fuels the depression, fuels the anger. Ignorance takes a natural feeling and propagates it. It doesn’t allow the storm to rain upon the meadow and keep moving. Instead, ignorance keeps the storm raining down on us and doesn’t allow for the feelings to naturally dissipate. This creates emotional floods; we become consumed with what should be a momentary sensation and allow it to take over our lives.

Anything we’re experiencing, it’s understandable. We shouldn’t try to control it. This would be similar to trying to control the weather. We can, instead, see the difficulties as part of the beauty and certainly not something to fear. Despite not being able to see the sun, we know it is there, even in the darkest of nights. Life is amazing because despite pain, despite suffering, despite even our eventual death and the death of loved ones, all of this is part of what it is to be alive. It means we care at least as much as we hurt. And, within the darkest of moments, the light of awareness will shine once again. 

Other Ridding of Ignorance Articles Using Imagery

Have a question, comment or concern? Email me at

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Anger Within

We all become upset and frustrated. When we do, the mind wants to act out this frustration. Instead of compassion for ourselves, we create a target. This can be an external target or the target can also be our self; destructive or self-destructive potentials co-exist. Instead of being patient, we become uptight and lash out. Or, we use every frustration as a way to demean ourselves or others. Instead of attempting understanding, the mind jumps from being present to auto-pilot, often instantaneously.

If we’re constantly losing it and then lashing out at ourselves or our environment, we need to interrupt this cycle. There are simple things we can do to achieve this interruption and return us to being present. First, we should explore this feeling called anger.

What is present in every instance that we’ve ever been angry? We are. It is understandable to disagree with this, and if we do disagree, we should challenge ourselves to find one instance where we weren’t present when we were angry. Certainly, conditions are constantly in flux as are the people living within those conditions. However, we are the only common thread in every instance of anger.

When we realize that this anger is part of us, we gain some ownership and care over it. This is not easy to do, especially in the hot heat of anger. Consistently, we would much rather someone else to be the source or cause of our anger. It is true that an external person’s actions may water the seed of anger within us, but this can only happen when we don’t have adequate compassion for ourselves and others.

If we experience the truth directly about any situation, it makes it immediately manageable. There is anger within us. It’s ours to take care of, and we cannot exile it from our lives. When we experience anger, we should take care of it instead. When someone is watering the seed of anger within us, we need to apply understanding and compassion: understanding that the anger is ours, not theirs; compassion that the watering originates from a place of pain, suffering and ignorance.

It is, after all, our own ignorance that believes that others make us angry. They only expose the anger that’s already with us. We must also be aware that the anger we’ve not adequately taken care of in the past has watered the seed of anger in others. As we begin to care for our anger, we will eventually let it loose on others once again. When we do water the seed of anger in others, we must understand this can be redirected in our direction and can infect our environment. In these aftermath moments when our anger is being watered as a direct result of what we’ve said or done, it is difficult to not react similarly, perpetuating the cycle.

We can break this cycle. And, we are the only ones that can. Our anger is truly our own. We must not only have an intellectual understanding that this is true, but we must also learn to believe it at an ever deepening emotional level. As we begin to see the reality of our anger more clearly, our anger won’t be watered so often. We’ll begin to take care of our anger instead of conditions and others controlling us. With ever diminishing frequency, we won’t water the seed of anger in others. We will see anger for what it actually is, just a seed within us that needs care and attention.

Other Ridding of Ignorance Articles on Anger
Making Room for Anger
Your Role in Your State of Mind
The Power from the Seat of Frustration

Have a question, comment or concern? Email me at

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vigilant Presence in a Hostile World

We will become all that we are in everything that we do.
When we live constantly under stressful or hostile conditions, we must become most vigilant at maintaining our presence as we cannot control what people do or how they are. Our mental and emotional states, on the other hand, are our own. We either get carried away by the winds and the currents of others, or we become the prevailing force in our lives and in the lives of others.

It is easy to continue the cycle of reactivity. By doing so we don’t adequately take care of our own mental and emotional states. Our conditions, instead, take control over these internal states, leaving us to be carried away by anything and everyone. This is why we must constantly exercise our authority over those states of mind and heart. It is only with continued vigilance over this ownership that we become that bit of peace in every storm. Slowly, we become more comfortable with that ownership.

This can be very difficult, as stressful conditions can include threats of violence or even acts of violence. We see these threats and acts across the planet. As we are all connected, even the most distant of threats affects us, even if we’re unaware that it does. Yet, our lives continue, seemingly unabated. It simply becomes more obvious when these are in our communities and even our own households. If we’ve ever experienced a moment of peace in our presence, it was something we were touching from within, not without. That place of presence is always with us, even in the worst of situations.

How do we remain vigilant in these most hostile of conditions? We can become so exhausted maintaining a defensive posture with our bodies and our minds. At moments we may succumb to these conditions, striking out or shutting down are only two potential options. There are consequences for all options. Instead of constantly being on the defensive, there are tangible alternatives that can help maintain a vigilant presence.

One of the keys to maintaining vigilance in hostile terrain is generating compassion. This compassion can be directed internally for our own pain and suffering as well as externally for those perpetrating the hostility. This may seem like an impossible task, but if we explore the situation of the lives of our perpetrators we understand there are events that have led to what they are perpetrating. This may not lessen the physical damage, but it can alleviate some of the mental and emotional repercussions of hostility.

When we generate compassion for those who act against us or who we feel are acting against us, we’re untethering our internal condition from external conditions. This brings back ownership over our internal states; once again we’re at the helm of the vessel of our life, as opposed to everything and everyone else governing how we think, how we feel and how we respond.

We don’t have to take all that happens so deeply personally. In the throes of something happening to us, this can be difficult to believe. We want to fall back into the old patterns. Instead of claiming ownership over our role, we would much rather suffer, using others and conditions to do so. The old patterns are familiar and asking questions of engagement are difficult, tough and requires mental and emotional resources we’ve become unfamiliar with using. It’s far easier to view ourselves as the victim then to disrupt this cycle.

When we stop taking everything as a personal attack, each full of malice and intent, it loosens us up just a bit. It makes us feel less under attack, less the target. If we constantly view what others do and say as being directed toward us, it magnifies everything about those actions and those words make us think and feel.

We have to understand that magnification is our role in expanding hostility in our lives. Certainly, people can be abrasive even hurtful, but we don’t have to contribute to the damage being waged. We can, instead, see that the actions and words of others say much more about them than it does about our own experience. We can also act to magnify all the storylines we repeat to ourselves about how we’re not good enough, about how awful we are and how we don’t deserve goodness. We do this without even realizing it. The way in which we think and feel about our own self colors and shades everything we hear and experience.

When we stop magnifying our own hostility as well as the hostility of others, we immediately begin expanding our presence. We’re not getting as caught up in our own storylines or in the story others are telling about us. It can be very difficult to catch ourselves and disrupt this process of magnification. When we dissect this process, it really exposes how we think and feel about ourselves. That’s the presence we’re trying to strengthen. What others do to us or say about us can only affect us if we already think and feel similarly.

When harm or even perceived harm is our reality, we need to engage and challenge the situation with our awareness. Difficulty is always an opportunity to expand awareness, not shut that awareness down. What rational human being wants to harm anyone? This is like poisoning a field or a well that not just yourself but others use for food or water. This is what hostility does; it poisons the human community; it perpetuates the cycle of violence. And, we drink from the same well; we eat from the same field that we’re poisoning.

When we expand our awareness of any situation, it is never a wasted endeavor. We can begin to see more clearly what is being done and what we are doing to alleviate or worsen every situation. If we think something is being done to us, it fundamentally changes the way our minds and hearts experience what is happening. We need to challenge that belief, not feed into it. By expanding our awareness, we’re pumping fresh oxygen, fresh energy into the situation. The alternative is to accept the situation with no hope of changing it. If we actively engage a situation with our mind and our heart, we can see it more clearly from multiple perspectives. This lessens the devastation and broadens our role in the present.

Clearly seeing the links of cause and effect helps in remaining vigilant. When we become caught up in these reactivity cycles, we’re only adding to the toxicity problem. We may not be able to remove all the poison from the fields and wells, but we don’t have to continue adding poison into every situation and every person we encounter. To do something different, to stop or even lessen our reactivity requires so much strength, so much vigilance.

Sometimes, the perpetrators in our life are those that are in our family or in our household. In this scenario it becomes even more difficult to remain vigilant, to find compassion. And, the poisoning can be very subtle. It’s more of a drip drip drip over time as opposed to an obvious, tangible and damaging oil spill. Subtle toxicity has a long lasting impact; the deepest parts of the soil become tainted. It can become impossible to discern the difference between the good from the tainted. In fact, there is no separating the two.

Just as we cannot separate the good from the tainted, when we play our familiar role within the reactivity cycle, we are playing both the victim and the perpetrator simultaneously. Our role within the reactivity of a household is often well-established. Whenever we attempt to break out of those well-established roles, the entire household can become even more reactive in response. We must be vigilant to return to being present when we undoubtedly revert to playing out these roles.

We must have patience for ourselves in maintaining vigilant presence. We must learn to catch ourselves before we revert to our old roles. We can even learn to catch ourselves in the midst of acting out. And, despite all of this effort to do other than, we can find ourselves on the other side, having already completed our familiar role in this reactive climate.  We’ve lost our presence yet again.

Undoubtedly, we will reprise these roles again and again and again, and it’s okay; it’s understandable. In the seemingly endless string of sequels, we have to learn to be okay with losing our presence and coming back to it. This is the only way. The only way to maintain the vigilance of presence is to lose that presence. Our conditions, both internal and external, urge us to go backward, to return to what feels so familiar and normal.

When we lose our presence once again, we must celebrate it by having patience for it. It’s a blessing. What we have left to work through has been exposed to us once again. Our presence will grow in strength, and when we lose it or realize we have already lost it, we just simply acknowledge it. As we learn how to be present again, patience is vital. Without it, we will never be able to clear out all the reactivity within us. And, without losing it, we could never truly find our vigilant presence.

Our vigilance of presence starts with having compassion for ourselves and others and in not taking anything personally.  We begin to stop magnifying the storylines we’ve grown to believe about ourselves. We then realize how cause and effect unfold in our lives. We continue forward challenging our minds to really engage our lives and our difficulties. Through all of this, we must always generate patience for ourselves.

It is difficult to disrupt the multitude of prevailing winds and currents that distract us, to disrupt and break our presence. The multitude of disruptions originates from not only our conditions but from ourselves as well. However, we can do this. We can continue to work toward being present in all that we do. Over time, our presence will become our new default. Over time, we will become the prevailing wind and current that others seek out as shelter in their storms. We will become all that we are in everything that we do. That’s what vigilance of presence becomes. We can do this. We can begin today.

Have a question, comment or concern? Email me at

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Daily Exercise for The Mind

Close your eyes. Open your mind.

Focus your mind on itself.

Is there any tightness? any grasping pain?

If there is, with your mind loosen that grip. Continue loosening the grip.

Let your mind open itself up.

Any ideas that come up about anything, simply notice your mind has strayed as it does so often and return focus back to the mind.

Once you've calmed the mind's distractions and loosened the mind's attachments

Open your eyes. See a brighter world. See a beautiful world.

A world that is dependent upon you, and you dependent upon it.

This is how I begin and end every day.

This day is wonderful. You are part of this day. You are wonderful.

Other Related Ridding of Ignorance Articles
Surviving vs. Thriving: An Internal Battle
Navigating the Foreign Lands of Self
The Breakthrough: Emotions as a Sense

Have a question, comment or concern? Email me at

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

True Partners on the Path

There are so many obstacles and obstructions as we transform our lives. All of these obscurations to transformation actually help expose within us a rich terrain, full of attachments, aversions and couldn’t care less moments. For this, we should genuinely thank every obstacle and obstruction we encounter as well as when we realize we’re not engaging our day thoroughly and thoughtfully in those couldn’t care less moments. Each is a blessing, a spotlight that exposes what we still have to work with within ourselves.

Finding true partners on the path of life transformation, on the other hand, can provide inspiration, support and feedback with every step, every breath we take. These partners act to multiply our efforts, intentions and aspirations exponentially. When we are surrounded and supported by those in our daily lives, the more cumbersome aspects of transformation can be made more workable. In fact, these partners on the path help us in every step we take, and we help them in every step they take. We take steps together.

There are at least six aspects embodied in the true partner on our path. These six aspects help us be the best partner as well as understand and appreciate the true partners we already have.

With our presence
Our presence is truly the best gift we can give those in our life. What does it mean to give those our presence? This means that we are not thinking about the past or the future. We’re actually right here and right now. We aren’t being caught up in our own mental activities or in our reactivity to conditions. The true partner is completely, wholly here for you. This presence is the best gift we can give anyone.

“I’m here for you.”

With our awareness
Our presence doesn’t always come with awareness. Awareness is about openness to anything and to nothing at the same time. This is when all of our senses and our mind are open to what’s happening. Awareness can be directed externally as well as internally. Really, the awareness here has aspects of both. The true partner has complete awareness of themselves, others, causes and effects, and conditions. This is definitely aspirational. We must strive to be completely aware, but when we’re a partner for someone, our awareness is focused for their benefit.

 “I’m aware for you.”

With our openness
Our openness is our honesty, our sincerity. The people in our lives deserve that level of respect. We have this wealth of experience that we can offer to others. We also have this amazing capacity for empathy with someone. Sometimes, we need to be able to touch those gut-wrenching emotions. Show them we not just hear what they say, but we deeply feel as well. Other times, we can talk about our own experiences that parallel others. The true partner is one who can expose both thoughts and feelings openly. This exposure must be guided and focused about the present.

“I’m open for you.”

Without judgment
Judgment is different from discernment. We must create an atmosphere around us where we don’t judge others. Anything someone has done or said, thought or felt is understandable. That doesn’t mean it was the best action, the best words. We have to understand that no one gets to what they’re doing all on their own. Countless and compounding lessons based on ignorance were learned over time.

We must also be careful to not judge the projections of others. This is difficult. Sometimes, people are desperate to project their thoughts and feelings onto anyone in their vicinity. We have to be strong in these moments, understanding the reality of our own internal world, differentiating it from the projections of others. It is understandable that people project onto others because so many do this daily. It’s a defensive mechanism, and, therefore, is understandable.

The true partner never judges us, even when we judge them in the throes of our emotional and mental pain and suffering. Their consistency and vigilance during all of the storms of life, both real and projected, will become a beacon we learn to trust.

“I won’t judge you.”

Without reservation
We must do all of this without reservation. We can’t second guess ourselves or others. This is being honest, sincere and genuine. We have to allow ourselves and others to be mistaken. When we hold back with those closest to us, we’re not being honest. We should tell them what we think and feel about what they’re experiencing. We have to do this without thinking about how we are perceived. We will learn about their perceptions through our vigilance of presence and expanding awareness.

We cannot do this with everyone. Sometimes, people have so much near instinctual reactivity, that they cannot handle this sincerity of heart and mind. Understanding this doesn’t make it easy to hold back with those we love. In fact, it can be deeply painful to come to this understanding about those close to us. True partners on the path can handle us being mistaken, just as we can handle their mistakenness.

The true partner never holds back. Never holding back doesn’t mean we lose our presence or diminish our awareness. This is a constant balancing act. True partners are not perfect. It is only through not holding back that our mistakenness is slowly ventilated.

“I won’t hold back with you.”

Without regret
As with not holding back, we must also not regret. Missteps are part of being a true partner. We must allow ourselves and others to be mistaken. Regret is filled with guilt and shame, and there can be none of this between true partners. We may realize our mistakenness, and that is a blessing. We may see ourselves more completely, and that is a blessing. We acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them and then we continue moving forward on our path.

The true partner never regrets being honest and sincere. The true partner tries to always be present, aware and open, without regret. The true partner is relentless, without regret for the mental, emotional, physical or spiritual resources used in progressing forward.

“I won’t regret.”

Being a true partner is not something we just check boxes on some scorecard with or about someone. Being a true partner is about all of these aspects. It is not what we do; it’s how we do it. It’s about our intentions as well as our actions. In fact, in a true partnership you cannot see daylight between intention and action, these become synonymous.

These aspects are not simply aspirational. Each is tangible and truly matters to those on this path called life and living. We may make mistakes, we may not always be the perfect partner, but together we strive for being our very best. When we find true partners on the path, we are truly blessed and we are a blessing simultaneously. Partners on the path work to bring the best out of each other while working with anything that presents itself as obscurations to transformation.

When these path partners shine the light of presence, awareness and openness upon us, we can feel completely exposed and vulnerable. This exposure and vulnerability is allowed to be ventilated in a relationship free from judgment, reservation and regret. Finally, we have someone by our side, on our side. Finally, we help each other move forward, one step, one breath at a time.

Dear Partner,
I'm here for you. I'm aware for you. I'm open for you.
I won't judge you. I won't hold back with you. I won't regret.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Light Within the Darkness

There are moments when people are unable to listen. These moments can last an entire lifetime. There are always reasons as to why some shutdown their awareness. Here, we are not attempting to ascertain these reasons. Learning to adjust individual awareness in an environment that is unable, for whatever reason, to be similarly aware is a constant struggle. This process must be adaptive and consistently applied, with awareness being reacquired in every moment.

We are unable to bridge the holes in anyone’s awareness. Certainly, we can shine a spotlight on these holes. If the object is unwilling or resistant to the light of awareness, then we must be cognizant of that truth. That is, after all, part of being aware. We must be careful here too. Often, the aspirations of people and their willingness to act on those aspirations do not overlap. It is far easier to say you want to be better than to actually do something substantial about it.

This is why we must always come back to our presence. It is worth our energy, our time and effort to continuously return to being present, to being aware. This may seem exhausting, to consistently keep our attention and awareness on the present moment. The mind wants to do what it wants. It wants to be distracted by the external conditions as a way to avoid internal exploration. And, there are so many external conditions to be distracted by!

As our presence in the moment strengthens, those around us can directly benefit. When we’re more present, we pay attention to the impacts of our actions and inactions. In fact, often those around are not aware of all that we do to alleviate their pain and suffering as they themselves are not present for each moment where we make a decision to think about others. We should not expect acknowledgment for anything we do or don’t do for anyone.

Also, the aspirations of others can feel our strengthening presence and opening awareness, conflicting with their willingness to change. It is these moments that maintaining your presence is most difficult. We can do this, though.

Sometimes, we don’t have a choice in where we are and who we surround ourselves with. Sometimes, we don’t get to affect our conditions in the way that is most effective. As we wrestle with our own ignorance, we must continually readjust and reacquire our presence and our awareness of others. We must always be able to take fresh observations. Everyone can change even if most choose to not.

We must be careful to not hold the past actions of others against them. This does not mean we forget the past, or that the past does not come back into the present. It means we don’t hold these actions against them moving forward. We can easily hold onto the past; it is part of how we got to today. Sometimes, we have traumas that continually need ventilation in the light of our strengthening presence. This is an aspect of awareness and presence that can be quite difficult to manage.

All of these internal nuggets our mind has been holding onto finally begin to feel the warmth of the growing light of awareness. It is only natural that the past begin to open itself up into our present. We’re stronger now; we’re more aware now; we can handle this. We can take care of these traumas in a way we couldn’t before. We’re here for ourselves now.

Our awareness is like a light, and ignorance doesn’t like the light. Ignorance is stubborn; it is dark; it is suffocating. It doesn’t want to breathe; it doesn’t want to change; it wants to persist. We have to be aware of this natural inclination in ourselves and within others.

We can do this. We can become aware in an increasingly unaware world. We can be a light in the darkness of ignorance. We can understand all reactions to the light of awareness, to the calm of presence. We can persevere, despite all of these internal and external reactions. In fact, these reactions are the source of our practice. We don’t have to perpetuate ignorance. We don’t even have to react to it. We can understand it as we ourselves are ignorant and have been for so long. 

Other Ridding of Ignorance Articles
Counteracting Awareness Shift
The Awareness in Vulnerability
Expanding Awareness, From the Source of Hope and Dream

Email me:

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Beauty of Irritability

Irritability is a different sort of energy than the burning singe of anger or the shining light of joy. Irritability has a way of seeping into every part of our day. It can certainly spark an angry outburst. It also can act to eclipse joy. Irritability is often an expression of our sub-conscience, that, when ignored, can become a behemoth. There is a beauty within the energy of irritability. It is an opportunity to listen to ourselves, to explore the language of the sub-conscience, to focus this energy productively.

The mind isn’t something we can just point to and know what we’re looking at. We experience life through the entire set of lens’ that compose the mind. There are elements of mind that make up conscious thought as well as large elements that remain mostly obscured, sub-conscious thought. Irritability begins in sub-conscious thought. Slowly, it seeps into our conscious waking states, coloring our perspective and shading our awareness until it breaks through into destructive states of mind.

There is a beauty within irritability. It’s the subtle language of our sub-conscience. If we pay attention to it, we can take care of it. If we ignore it, beauty becomes the beast of anger, resentment and aversion. If we work with our irritability instead of simply ignoring it, we really begin to listen to what our sub-conscience is trying to tell us. If we do ignore it, usually the volume of irritability increases, infecting more of our waking mental states.

There are so many pitfalls and whirlpools in the lands and waters of irritability. When we begin to pay attention to our irritability, our attention can act as fuel. This happens when our attention doesn’t explore below the surface of irritability to find its source. Instead of ventilating the irritability, it feeds it. Our attention must not simply be to focus on it; it must have the intention to alleviate the underlying condition. Our attention must be filled with compassion and understanding.

During a busy day, it can be difficult to find some space to take care of our irritability. Physical exercise can be a highly useful tool. This could be just walking around the office, the neighborhood or the house. Or, it could be a trip to the gym or the park, anything where our mind focuses on our well-being.

We could also read. This helps focus the mind externally, but through use of our internal world of imagination and exploration. The little books that fit in your pocket can be perfect in these moments, no matter where we are. Writing can also be a focusing tool.

And, as always, we can simply focus on our breathing. Our body is constantly breathing, and it doesn’t require us to go anywhere or do anything. Breathing is such a powerful vessel for transformation. We just do anything that helps to focus the mind first, and then focus the mind internally; this is the objective. We must completely embrace the irritability, not try to control it, but understand it instead. There’s so much that we’ve ignored, and it wants to be heard; it deserves to be heard.

There are days where we need to take care of our irritability from the moment we wake until the moment we go to sleep. These are blessed days, very workable. The beauty of irritability is the opportunity to focus on us, to take care of ourselves. Something within our sub-conscience is trying to express itself. It’s saying “look at me, I’m here and I’m suffering.” We can look at it, we can embrace it and we can do something about it. Our irritability can wake us up, not wake up the beasts of anger, resentment and aversion. We can do this, right here and right now.

When we’re irritable, it can be so easy to see the external world as the source. Our irritation simply makes our senses prickly, more sensitive. There are countless opportunities every day to lose it, but when we feel listened to, appreciated and embraced we’re less likely to. This is what we must begin to do for ourselves. We deserve it, and so does our irritability.

Other Related Ridding of Ignorance Posts

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Strengthening Openness and Awareness

As our presence strengthens, our awareness broadens and we begin to finally see people. For most of our lives we’ve not really seen anyone. We’ve been seeing our idea of those people. As we open up, we see ourselves in everyone we encounter. Everything anyone ever does is something we’re either capable of doing or have done ourselves, and probably numerous times.

The process of becoming truly present impacts those in our lives. Awareness creates oxygen for the mind, and that oxygen can be ignited so easily by lingering ignorance. And, maintaining our presence and awareness as that oxygen ignites can be very difficult.

We’re going to lose it every now and then. We’re not going to always respond with precision, with care. Being open and aware while being present is not just a switch, it’s an atmosphere that surrounds us and grows as we become more confident with our practice. This atmosphere doesn’t have boundaries or walls; it has openness, it has the light of awareness.

And, when we sit still, when we listen, that can become the target for those around us. We are, after all, remaining stationary and non-reactive in a moving and highly reactive world. We must be open to this happening. We must be open to our presence and our awareness becoming the target. It doesn’t have to harm us. We can do this.

Instead, it can help strengthen us. It can help to expose our sore soft spots, those issues we have yet to resolve within ourselves. We don’t have to continue to be reactive. We can understand that mostly what people are doing is displacing their pain and suffering, perpetuating their ignorance. This is understandable. We’ve been doing that our entire life. It’s completely understandable.

Now, we’re doing something different. We’re determined to be open to whatever arises. We’re determined to be present right here and right now. We’re determined to be aware of what’s going on, not reactive to it. We’re determined to listen to those in our lives, no matter what. And, everyone deserves to be listened to. We all deserve to be heard.

We will have moments where we lose our presence, where we shut down as opposed to open up. We can have patience for ourselves in those moments. We can have compassion for ourselves in those moments. We can even celebrate these moments. These are the best moments to work with. These are moments of exposure that allow us to ventilate the pain and suffering we continue to hold onto, that we’ve ignored for all this time.

This, too, is a moment to open up, be present and be aware. Thank you!

Related Ridding of Ignorance Posts
Openness Without Regret
In-between the Bookends

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Weapon of Being Upset

People can easily and understandably become upset or frustrated. Sometimes, life doesn’t unfold the way we plan. Sometimes, people do not react the way we think they will react. However, people can use the idea of being upset or angry as a weapon to control others.

This is not about the reason for being upset; it’s about being upset with the purpose to get others to back down or shut down or to control a situation or people. This is the same reasoning children have a tantrum. Their parents don’t want their children to be upset, and so immediately react to rectify the situation. The child has become the one with the power.

Who wants someone else to be upset? Not many are malicious, wishing ill on others. Mostly, people don’t want to see someone upset, which is where the source of power of this weapon lives. Someone that is upset tends to shake things up a bit. The mind wants to preserve the status quo. It wants to remain static in an ever changing world. It prefers to be lazy as opposed to adapt, evolve or even just to listen. When someone becomes upset, all of these habits are jeopardized.

The way in which we react in these moments is crucial. We, of course, have the option of backing down from what we’re saying or doing. Often, this is the wisest course because mostly it’s not worth a confrontation or engagement with someone. However, this option teaches others that if they simply get upset or appear angry they eventually get their way. This lesson can be difficult to break once it becomes routine.

This dynamic can be highly destructive in families and small communities. We can see this same dynamic within groups of animals within nature. The loudest, most bombastic creature doesn’t rule purely by physical prowess, but more by intimidation and fear. If the pack leader had to prove his prowess to everyone within the pack, he would probably weaken and become defeated. This is a tactic.

We can also be very mindful in moments where people use this weapon of being upset. This is not easy. We must first know our thoughts and our feelings. These can easily be inflamed in these situations. Then, our reaction to the person who is being upset becomes the focus of attention in the engagement. This is a deflection and is highly common as it is very instinctual.

Whenever we expose this weapon in others or ourselves, we must be unshakable, yet remain open and aware. This can require so much effort if we’re not confident in our presence and actions. To remain still while still open and aware is something we must continuously reinforce within ourselves. As we face more intense situations, gradually our confidence will improve. We’ll be able to practice in the heat of someone being upset, or someone projecting their pain and suffering onto us.

Once the mind acquires a target, all the senses focus on that target and all the defensive mechanisms begin preparing to fire. The mind is very good at dismantling something or someone, determining the weaknesses of the target. This skill can either work for us and others or against us and others. Again, these are deeply ingrained, nearly instinctual responses. By understanding the weaknesses of others, we can work through these weaknesses or we can exploit them.

In these most difficult moments, we must return to patience, compassion and understanding. These help stabilize the mind, diminishing the chance of becoming inflamed as defensive arrows begin flying in our direction. The arrows are designed to pierce the stability of our presence, to shake us up and expose our own defensive mechanisms. Often, these arrows keep being fired until the desired effect is reached. We can even back down or retreat, and this can make the situation worse. The mind can go into auto-pilot, firing all of the arrows until the quiver is empty.

When dealing with someone in the throes of being upset, we have to become the true spiritual warrior. Our quiver is filled with patience, compassion and understanding. It is so easy to set up the person that is attacking us as our own target. Certainly, it is easy to do, considering the amount of pain and suffering that is being spread. However, by setting up the target, we’re setting ourselves up for continuing the cycle of pain and suffering. We keep these alive whenever we retaliate, whenever we don’t see what’s actually happening.

We can apply patience, compassion and understanding for not just the person that is being upset, but for ourselves simultaneously. This is how we respond. We break the cycle, not continue it. We open up, not shut down. We don’t let someone gain control over our hearts and minds. We become the light of our presence and awareness. We can do this.

When the weapon of being upset is being used, we must retain our presence and awareness and apply patience, compassion and understanding. These arrows, these painful words don’t have to damage us. We can remain constant; we can weather this storm. This situation is impermanent; the arrows are mostly words masquerading as actions. These arrows are covered in sorrow, fired with pain and burning with suffering. We can be the peace and calm that is desperately needed. And, only we can supply this. The quiver of peace and calm is infinite, whereas the quiver of anger and retaliation is always limited. We can do this.

Other Ridding of Ignorance Posts
The Cause-Effect Action-Reaction Existence
Tool and the Block
Blocks to Clear Vision

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Taking Care of Joy

Joy comes from within. If we believe this to not be the truth, explore more. If circumstances are the source of joy, then why do some people in a group experience it while others do not? Why do some people seem to find joy so easily and yet it seems fleeting to some while others feel abandoned by it?

Joy is a natural spring from within us. It is an infinite reservoir, and, it is effortless to experience. We can all experience joy anywhere, anytime. Certainly, our conditions can help block or interrupt that joy from springing forth. Our minds, however, play an even greater role in blocking this joy-spring from opening up and flowing into and infusing our daily life. Understanding how the mind does this may help keep our joy light shining.

Joy naturally increases all types of energy as well as all types of awareness. Joy opens us up to the present and our presence. This is why it is such a powerful sensation. It can overwhelm us if we’re not open to this process.

The most contentious increase is in our personal mental energy. The mind attempts to hold onto the experience of joy because it just feels so amazing. If it achieves this, joy is transformed into elation or euphoria. These euphoric experiences can feel amazing, but the life expectancy is short. The energy simply burns up quickly and damages us in a multitude of ways; we wear out physically, we become frayed emotionally, our mind becomes exhausted.

Instead, we can allow joy to just be. Joy can naturally flow throughout our daily lives. Unobstructed and unhindered, joy can infuse the most simple and mundane of daily activities and elevate them to a level of open amazement. Truly, joy combines openness with mindfulness. If we’re truly present and paying attention, we can experience the everyday with exuberance. Joy can be found anywhere we are, we just need to get out of the way.

Even if we lessen our own interference, this doesn’t negate the potential interference from others. The reaction of those in our immediate vicinity can be highly destructive and obstructive to the natural energy of joy. This reaction is understandable as joy can often be as a blinding light to someone that’s been in a dark place for a considerable time. This is similar to having a bright light directed at your face after being asleep in the dark all night. It can sting.

Also, joy can appear confusing to others. The mind attempts to ascertain “what is going on here,” and depending on the person, this acquiring can be considerably damaging. Joy isn’t something that can be categorized, or really understood. It’s an energy that must be deeply experienced.

There is an even worse option. Some people actually don’t want to understand other people, instead seeking to snuff out the light of joy that emanates from them. We’ve all met someone like this. These people seek and destroy the joy of others. The joy and happiness of others is an affront to them.

Joy isn’t about anyone. It’s about this amazing experience called living in the present, being open to whatever is happening. It opens us up, and it makes everything we experience more workable. Joy is an amazing light of delight. We lighten up, and it’s like we’re dancing through life. That is what joy is. If we take care of our natural joyous state, we can do anything. The reactions of others may try to interrupt our joyous exuberance, but if we understand the pain and suffering and the ignorance that underlies those attempts, our joy can weather any storm.

Other Ridding of Ignorance Posts on Joy

Ubiquitous Joy
The Joy-Spring
Returning to the Seat of Joy

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Breaking the Reactivity Cycle

We never really know if we're being manipulated or made to feel pain and suffering by others. Mostly, people don't do things deliberately to harm others. It’s just a byproduct of not being mindful or aware. That doesn't make it any easier though, does it?

The way we deal with the aftermath is by understanding that a lot of what people are doing is projection. They are suffering, and they desperately need to spread that suffering to anyone in the near vicinity. Or, they seek out the source of their pain, thinking the source of pain and suffering is an external one.

Some people are deeply wounded: wounded by their misperceptions of others, wounded by their misperceptions of reality. This is the human condition. We’re highly mistaken, and we’re surrounded by others with the same mistaken condition. Mostly, we’re reacting to these conditions. We desperately don’t want to hurt, desperately searching for the source of our painful condition.

We often actually think our unhappiness, that our suffering is being injected into us. I challenge that belief. Feelings don’t come from outside of us; feelings are already within us. Feelings are like seeds. We water seeds within ourselves and we are watered by the atmosphere and the people we surround ourselves with.

We can't make another person happy, and they can't make us happy. We can't force someone to be angry, and they can't force us to be angry. However, our actions, our words, our thoughts and our feelings impact others. We water seeds within others and within ourselves simultaneously. We cannot possibly control another person, but we can determine which seeds are watered within us.

When people upset us, or trigger our anger and frustration, we can do something different. We can have compassion for the person that is triggering us instead of reacting with anger.

It must be so terrible to just damage people so carelessly. Imagine that you're not the only one that has a similar reaction to these people. We don't have to continue this cycle. And, only we can break these cycles for ourselves. We may be unable to control others, but we don’t want to control these internal states either. We don’t want to shut down; we want to open up instead.

This is a very narrow path, one in which we must with vigilance continuously check in with where we are with our thoughts and with our feelings. Our mistakenness can sneak back into controlling us again at any time. The only way we can counteract that mistakenness is to maintain our awareness of our presence.

We must do this without becoming the prison warden of our thoughts and feelings. We want to become the caretaker, the attentive gardener instead. This is not about controlling ourselves. It’s about getting to know ourselves. Why are we the way we are? By even attempting to answer this question, we discover so much about others. This path is directly linked to the well-being of others, and that pathway starts here and now.

We simply attempt to recognize what's going on inside of us. When people are mad at us, we just go back to knowing that we have no ill intention.  We don't mean harm to anyone. That doesn't mean we haven't done harm, but we absolutely know that we wouldn't harm anyone with intention.

We only want the best for all people. We don’t want them to suffer. And, people are suffering greatly. They're in so much pain. And, the way they deal with it is damaging to us but more than that it's more damaging to them.

Finding understanding for this doesn't take away the bad acts of others. It can, however, give us space to own our own experience, to see what they're doing for what it is, to not allow ourselves to once again get roped into their mistaken way of thinking and behaving, to go back to the mistaken way we were before.

We are just like them, and they are just like us. If we keep coming back to that truth, we immediately cool down our reactivity, we immediately take care once again as opposed to continue the cycle of pain and suffering, of mistakenness, of ignorance.

Only we can break this cycle for ourselves. This begins to slowly decrease the damage we create for ourselves and for others. And, moment by mindful moment, we become a beacon in the darkness of ignorance. We can do this, we need only try.