Monday, September 29, 2014

Wanting More Every Day

Want more from yourself each day, not the best.

Often, people want the best out of themselves, never quite living up to such impossible expectations. Expectations are a major source of self-imposed pain and suffering, an important topic of merit. However, here, I wish to transform our mental perspective of ourselves and what we’re capable of accomplishing on the spot.

We start with the aspiration of wanting more from ourselves each day. Aspirations are a great place to begin this transformational process. Aspirations are meaningless without intention. Intention is really an internal moment that consists of an emotional or mental choice of a desired outcome. “I really feel like or think I want to do more today.” Intention is very simple and direct. There’s nothing before or after. It is only an emotional or mental moment in time.

Intention only begins to make an impact when we bring that intention consistently into mind. We can see how intention can easily slip away. We really want (aspiration) a cup of tea. We have every intention of steeping some tea. We even pour the water into the teapot. We even put the teapot on the stove. The water eventually boils, and we pour the boiling water over the dried tea leaves. If we lose our original intention of wanting a cup of tea, we may lose track of that cup of steeping tea. Intention only matters if we consistently keep that intention in the focus of our mind. We may do all the work necessary but never enjoy the fruits of our labor, that cup of intentional tea.

 Throughout the day, we must consistently reacquire the intention of wanting more from ourselves. It can be so easy to let that intention evacuate the building where we work, wonder off while we eat lunch, become lost to and from everywhere we go . . . the list of what we do can be extremely long or very short, but we can all do more with what little we do or how much we do. We might be doing too much, or we could better manage our time. If we can name one activity that cannot be improved upon, why do we even do anything?

We can all want more from ourselves without asking more from others or objects. That’s the key here. We don’t want to increase our dependence. We want to empower ourselves, to see that we are still these amazingly capable creatures that can do more than we ever give ourselves credit of doing. We need only to try. By asking ourselves to be the best, we’re setting ourselves up to be better than every other being on the planet. What are the odds in that? That’s self-abuse on the highest order.

By wanting more from ourselves today, we’re saying, “let’s do this, let’s get started, because  we  know we can!”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Untying the Knots of an Unintentional Mind

We are the only way, and we are in the way.
The mind loves to runaway with just about any thought or any feeling, sometimes one after another after another. Our mind is designed to think, to consider, to feel, to contemplate, to play, to lounge, to relax, to stress, to fight, to flight. Some of what we think is real or possible; most of it is just 'la la la bang bang bang smurf berry realness'.
These thoughts and feelings can be made in a concerted effort or made randomly and disconnectedly. When applied with intention, we can actually accomplish nearly anything we apply our mind toward achieving. It is possible to train our minds to not work against our intentions. We can train our minds as gymnasts train their bodies and minds to achieve remarkable feats.  

Some of these mental gymnastics can be quite productive and useful. We can build and grow things, feed ourselves and others, bring people together. We can also deconstruct reality in ways that can yield new opportunities for understanding ourselves, others and our environment, learning how to better maximize and utilize all that is available to us. Other times, these mental gymnastics can become an obstacle to achieving anything substantial or useful. We can even harm ourselves, others and our immediate environment in ways that are damaging and even irreparable.

We have the superior role in redirecting these mental misadventures. It can be quite difficult to halt or even slow these completely natural functions of mind. When our mind seems to set off on one of these misadventures, attempt to focus your mind on watching your body breathe. Our mind will want to return to its galloping, and that’s not only predictable, it’s natural. When this happens, acknowledge it for what it really is, 'thinking,' and go back to focusing on the breathing again. Try this out.  Sometimes this method can work quite quickly and easily.
Make certain to have fun with how the mind wants to gallop off into the mental wilderness of thought and feeling. Absolutely do not be mean to the mind. Training our mind happens gradually and naturally, but it does take intention. We’re not trying to beat the life out of ourselves. What we do with our mind is so important. If we train our mind to abuse ourselves or others, we’ve missed not only the point but this opportunity. We are not trying to rid ourselves of our true nature, but to redirect that nature with our intention infused with patience, understanding and compassion.

When I struggle with this, I often don’t even realize that I’ve become lost. That’s why at the end of every day I try to just sit and take note of the current state of my mental well being. On those difficult days, especially the days I haven’t realized I’ve become lost in the mental wilderness, I find my mind is all tied up in knots. I can literally feel the tension of attachment and desperate grasping, of what, I really don’t know and couldn’t tell you.
To tackle this requires a bit more than just focusing on breathing. When our minds are knotted up, we have to visualize loosening that mental grip. This can take some real concerted mental effort. Often, when we find our mind in this condition, we’ve become completely exhausted and are possibly in a great deal of pain. However exhausted or in pain we might feel, it’s important to loosen these strangleholds if we can.

Allow the mind to wholly embrace these knots . . . to become one with these knots. This may seem counter-intuitive, but these knots are actually parts of our minds. We ignored them throughout the day, or even longer. We need to bring them closer to our awareness, not to push them away or suppress them. As we embrace these painful knots with awareness, we can visualize the knots loosening. Just like an actual knot in a shoe lace or a rope, you sometimes have to work at it for awhile before you’re able to make some progress. If you begin to struggle with the knot, it often makes it much worse.

The idea is never to struggle against our nature, but to understand and work with it instead. We’re not trying to break our spirit. We want to do something with this mind, with this life. We don’t want to beat our minds into submission; we want to free our minds into action and exploration. We want to use our nature as an asset and not as an adversary.
It can be so easy to fall back into old familiar patterns, unaware we’re tying ourselves up into mental knots once again. When we catch ourselves returning to these mental misadventures, simply call it for what it is, ‘thinking,’ and let it go once again. As we become more accustomed to being gentle with ourselves in these moments, we begin to transform our lives with our intentions on the spot.

These knots may be comprised of aspects of our mind, but these knots aren’t the natural state of our mind. That is why it requires so much concerted effort and intention to heal. These exercises can be used wherever and whenever we find ourselves. We are the only ones that can do the work. It starts with the intention, and then we have to apply the action.

When are we going to do something about our life? Where do we start?

We are the only way, and we are in the way. It can begin right now, and it starts with intention.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stop Wrestling Reality

Don’t struggle against reality, work with it instead. When we treat our conditions and surroundings as the enemy, we usually empower the inanimate. People can be the enemy, but conditions lack consciousness and are not sentient.

If this is merely a stepping stone on a greater and longer path, trust in that. Don’t allow the mind to runaway with considering what others perceive your conditions and position to be. People can use your conditions and surroundings against you, but they can only do so if you don’t trust what you’re doing. Listen carefully to people, but remember that we’re all mistaken creatures.

Is what someone is saying true? Is it relevant? Is it rational? Is it based in personal experience or in bias? Are they out for others or for just themselves? Do their words match their actions?

It is so important to have intention in all that we do. Connect that intention with all of our actions. Then, we must check in to understand if that action achieves the desired result using objective observation and analysis. This approach may seem cold and calculating, but if our objectives are for the well being of ourselves and others, how could it be negative or detrimental? We may make mistakes, but we’re allowing for that eventuality through our objective observations and analyses. In this way we are always moving forward. Every step, every action, every intention is part of our path. Every misstep and mistake becomes opportunities for growth.  

We can affect our reality, but we shouldn’t force it or try and manipulate it. Otherwise, when we move our attention elsewhere, reality will begin to revert to form. That is why we must be careful to understand the true nature of what it is we are trying to work with. It’s like trying to make paper out of a mountain or an air conditioner out of a volcano. We can’t turn weather into people, or people into more than they want to be. It is rarely successful to try to force ourselves or others to do anything. It stifles creativity, stunts growth and definitely kills freedom.

We have to work with ourselves and others where and how we are right here and right now. We are truly capable of so much, but if we don’t feel as if we are, we’re not going to accomplish much at all. Many of us have real conditions, some that are obvious and other conditions that are much more subtle. If we truly want to help someone, we first must truly listen and not just to the words that are said but more to the actions, demeanor and behaviors that are almost more important.

Where is this person coming from? Are they sick? Are they hurt? Are they wounded? Are we reactive to it because it’s true or because we fear that it is? Are we overly concerned that we don’t want to make things worse so we don’t do anything at all or because we really lack the skills and the experience to make things better?

Ultimately, we must make our own decisions. We just strive to make our decisions work for achieving our objectives and not to obstruct someone else achieving their own goals. We can use our objectivity and critical thinking to help ourselves and others achieve great things. We can also use our ignorance and mistakenness to tear others down and transmit our personal pain and suffering onto them. We can do better that that, and we should strive to do so in all that we do. We have to make conscious choices in order to do that.

What is it that we really want to achieve? Is it worthwhile? Is it selfish or selfless? Is there a reasonable plan with tangible steps or a pipe dream full of words and lacking action? Are we being helpful or hurtful? Do we care if we’re wrong or just want to be right?

Some people don’t know what to do with their pain and suffering and will do anything they can to project and transmit it to others. We don’t have to absorb that. We can relax into our own reality while understanding that others have their own version of reality to contend with. They just maybe projecting that reality onto or at us.

When we wrestle with reality, we’re missing these opportunities.  This reality is our only way to achieve anything. When we treat it like the enemy, we’ve already lost the war. Our mind is our only vehicle to make choices that affect our life and the lives of others. What others do is ultimately up to them, but we can choose to do something different. We can stop wrestling with reality and work with it instead. We can do this, but we have to keep at it. There’s always a reason not to . . . so use the one reason to do this . . . to make our lives better.

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