Tag Archives: pain

Meanies and How They Ruin a Perfectly Good Day

Congratulations, person who wanted to be mean and hurt my feelings.

You were successful.

Big_Fat_Meanie

Your comment about me to my boss not only hurt my feelings, but made me question myself.  And made me cry.  Not the Ugly Cry but tears, nonetheless.

You took a day that was going better than average and turned it on its ear.

I’ve been doing what I do for a really long time.  To say that I’m comfortable in my abilities and social skills, would be an understatement.  But when I receive out of the blue comments about my less than great attitude or my unwillingness to be helpful, it throws me off my game for a bit.  To my benefit (and the benefit of those around me), my age and the spiritual work I’ve done allows me to bounce back pretty quickly.

There is a musing I heard quoted (I don’t have the original quote) about if you are going to suffer, then SUFFER.  The inference is that you need to really feel the hurt and the pain and move on.  Don’t dip your toes in the suffering pool a little bit at a time and prolong the agony.  Jump in, feel the feelings and get the heck out!

We’ve all heard the Buddhist proverb “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  I think we’ve even used it several times in this blog.  Living life hurts, but you don’t have to suffer the hurts longer than you want to.

From BUDDHIST SANGHA OF SOUTH JERSEY

First Noble Truth – Right Understanding

The Path begins with the Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths:

· There is suffering in life.

· Suffering comes from ignorance which leads to craving, grasping and clinging.

· We can become free from suffering and achieve happiness.

· The way to become free from suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path

I like the first point a lot.  Because as much as I would like to claim that I am above choosing to suffer the pains in my life, I’m not.  Sometimes I sit back and lick those wounds over and over.  Was there something I could have done differently, better, that would have let me escape the sting?  The first point clearly states — there is suffering in life.  It happens.  Denying the suffering doesn’t help anyone.

Point 2 – suffering comes from ignorance which leads to craving, grasping and clinging.  Oh!  Sound familiar?  If I’m suffering from words spoken, then I’m the only one suffering.  The person who spoke them has moved on.  They are not suffering.  I’m in ignorance of the motives and standing in conscious ignorance to my own higher beliefs.   I’m left craving answers, grasping at the what-if’s and clinging to my injured ego.

Wounded people, wound others.  Angry people share anger.  Misery loves company.  For some reason, humans try to hurt each other but it is my REACTION to the pain which creates my suffering, not the event itself.  When I rise above my emotions and clearly see the other person in this situation,  I can see that they are unhappy in their world and desperately trying to defend their actions by putting the blame on someone else.  I’m not discounting their comment– maybe I was snippy to them once — but why wait YEARS to provide this feedback?  If you want to be helpful in providing feedback, it should be timely and clear.  By waiting so long, they are now evidence gathering as to why they are “right” in making the decisions that they are making.

Point 3 – we can become free from suffering and achieve happiness.  I could choose to carry the hurt for the rest of the day, week or month.  There is a high likelihood that I will see this person again.  How long do I feel justified in carrying my hurt?  I could be cold in our next encounter — but doesn’t that just confirm their opinion of me?  They will probably have forgotten their words and only  remember the feelings.  My being hurt and miffed in their presence isn’t going to clear up the situation one bit.

John & I were just talking about the analogy of suffering being like someone throwing garbage in your car and you refusing to clean it out.  You drive around with this smelly, awful mess — suffering the whole way — and they don’t even remember throwing trash in there.  I choose to release the suffering and thereby free my energies up to be happy.  Ultimately, this person has nothing to do with my everyday life and I should not make their opinion so important that it colors my world into gray.

Point 4 – I know nothing of the Noble Eightfold Path but I do know that choosing not to suffer and learning the skills to live in a non-suffering way is a journey!  You pick up one skill at a time and practice that until it feels less hard and then you are ready for another one.  Each time you practice a higher thought process you learn something about yourself and the process.  And you trust the process a bit more.  Berating yourself for not handling the process better does not help.  You must accept that you chose only to suffer a day this time and that is better than the three days you suffered last time.

So, in the midst of my suffering, while I was wiping away the tears of hurt, indignation and pride, I remembered to breathe.  I say that a lot — breathe, breathe.

The very act of taking a conscious deep breath connects my mind and body.  By taking another one, I feel my body settle into that place I know is safe and firm.  The anxiety leaves me and my feet start to feel very planted in Spirit/God.  Another breath, and I feel connected to my higher self.  From this higher place, in the calm state that simply breathing deeply has provided, I am able to see/claim that this hurt is not mine to carry.  I am able to have perspective and even understanding.  I feel the suffering slipping away as quickly as it came to me.

My father says “forgive but never forget!”  I always laugh at him when he says this because I couldn’t possibly carry around all the perceived slights in my lifetime — nor do I want to.  But there is some truth here.  It is our work to discern what comments/feedback are said to help us wake up and realize that we’re not showing up as we want to, versus the ones that are just thrown out there to wound.  Besides, forgiving is a much harder requirement.  Forgiving means no chip on your shoulder, no what ifs, no plans for future action.  Forgiveness is that I understand that you are human making your way on your path and our paths intersected and that I’m not going to knock you down just because I can.

Meanies are just part of this earthly experience.   Take a moment to recognize that the experience of a meanie hurt — temporarily.  You don’t need to suffer it over and over and over again.  Move on.  Claim the higher perspective.  Wipe away your tears and breathe.  Claim the joy in a good day.  Because they all are good days, even if there are meanies in them.

Why Are We Here?

Starting off with an easy question today………

Hands touching a globe

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is?  Why are you here?  Why did you have to experience that awful time in your life?

Sometimes the answers to really big questions fall in your lap and you have a moment of clarity so strong that it takes your breath away.

It happened to me today.

A number of years ago, I was in a really hard part of my life.  Broken first marriage, beginnings of a new relationship, a shattered child who took on many other issues, a full time job with heavy responsibilities and a household to keep up with.  There were days when it took all of my strength just to put one foot in front of the other — and it never seemed like I was in balance or had it all together or even was close to enjoying it.  I don’t actually remember asking “why me” but I’m not saying it didn’t cross my mind.

It was SUCH a hard time.  There weren’t any instruction books — just lots and lots of opinions freely offered, of course, by well intentioned people in my life.  I made decisions that others didn’t like and that I wasn’t 100% sure of, but I made them because I was following that voice of internal guidance that I kept praying for.  I listened to all the advice and took away bits and pieces, followed threads that lead to new schools, new ways, new thoughts, and new practices.  We did more than survive those years, all of us have grown and now thrive in our lives.

So WHY did it have to be so hard?

Today, I was talking with someone who I’ve known casually for 17 years.  We connect because of our sons.  While he is experiencing different issues with different players, the emotional toll it is taking on him feels incredibly familiar to me.  I see the sadness in his eyes.  I feel the heaviness in his parental heart as he has to make really hard decisions about his son’s future.  I hear the words he’s using to distance himself from those hurtful opinions of others.  I know his internal battle well.

And then clarity hit.

With one breath in, my world came into focus so clearly that I thought he could hear the snap.  My back straightened, my heart oozed support, and I heard myself calling him out of his darkness.  I heard my voice telling him that he must take care of himself so that he can care for others.  I felt the power within me, borne of the fire of trials, surge towards him.  You are not in this world alone.  I hear you.  I see you.  I give you my strength and my knowledge and my understanding.

Why are we here?

We are here to claim what has happened to us and to turn it into reasons to understand another.

We are here to listen and really hear.

We are here to lift up, encourage and shine as examples of triumph.

We are here to connect, heart to heart.

Do that.

Be that person.

Shine a light in someone else’s darkness.  Lift your light high enough that it shines upon another’s path and makes their next step more visible.

You have everything within you right here and right now.

 

6 Incredibly Useful Ways to Stop Making Mountains out of Molehills

Dartmoor Diary St Olaves D200 Apr 2013 099Over inflating our responses can become such a distraction, we fail to see the truth of the situation.  When we step away and allow ourselves to see conditions from heightened clarity, we are in a much better place to make good decisions from an empowered space. Here are six useful ways to stop making mountains out of those molehills.

1) It’s only big if you make it big, so stop making it bigger than it really is: One man’s hill-side is another man’s mountain-side. The difference is perception. If one had only lived on flat ground, then a 300 ft. high hill might appear mountainous. On the other hand, growing up in the Andes on a 14,00o ft. peak, a man might think of a 5,000 ft. peak as a simple hill. In neither case did the size of the hill change, only the perception of it’s size, and perception is a creation of the human imagination. Change the way you think and you change size of the obstacle. Even the largest mountain is traversed one step at a time.

2) Stop stacking it on: When we see a small obstacle as a large one, we sometimes begin piling new obstacles right on top that give us “excuses” for not moving forward.

  • Fear leads to inaction
  • Lazyness leads to inaction
  • We gather evidence that “excuses us from action”
  • Guilt develops for not dealing with it right away
  • Frustration as deadlines loom
  • More Guilt – for lack of action
  • More Fear – now that it’s bigger
  • More Frustration – “Now how will I EVER deal with this?”

3) Commit to stop seeing obstacles as problems and begin viewing them as “projects”: Any obstacle can be overcome when steps are taken — just like it takes a series of steps required to complete a project. When we label something as a ” problem” we put an imaginary burdening weight on it that can freeze us in our tracks like a deer in the headlights. Start viewing it as a project and the freezing oppression is allowed to fall away. Then our thoughts and efforts are available for motion.

4) Take action in a constructive direction – any action. Just MOVE: Don’t wait for the perfect plan to fall into place. If there was such a thing as a perfect plan, it wouldn’t stay perfect for long anyhow. As we move through the “plan” unforeseen changes are going to arise and alter our course. Knowing this allows us to expect change and this tells us we must remain flexible. And knowing we must be flexible allows space for us to stay out of panic when changes arise. Anticipate change and you have nothing to fear. So stop nit picking a plan and just move! As long as you have forward motion, it will work it’s way out however it needs to regardless of any “planning” you might do. Cease motion however, and the molehill will continue to expand.

5) Stop the whining. Complaining serves only to tell yourself and those around you that you are too weak to change the situation. After all, if you actually had the power to change things, wouldn’t you be putting your efforts into actually changing it? Complaining does nothing but deepen your conviction that something is not going your way and you are powerless to effect change. You DO have the power to change, so empower yourself! Stop complaining and put your mental and physical resources towards a constructive outcome. Constructive behavior leads to smaller hills. Destructive behavior just makes bigger mountains that YOU eventually get to traverse.

6) Multitasking is a myth. We can only focus on one thing at a time. “Multi-tasking” or what I am coining in this very post as: Scatter-Braining™ is merely shifting focus from one task to another and back again – never really putting your best efforts into either one. It’s like trying to run up two hills at the same time, only you have to run back and forth between them to make progress. Just wasted effort. Pick the hill that requires your attention and focus focus focus. When your mind gets going, the mental momentum will build and tasks will get accomplished faster with greater efficacy. Keep flinging your focus around like a sloppy mop and if things do get accomplished, you may find that the efforts don’t meet expectation and you have to revisit them to clean up the spatter. This just means more work and that equals a bigger hill.

Stop Resisting Resistance! The Wind In Your Hair is Natural

Chapel At Red Rocks - Unity Spiritual CenterToday’s post is a transcript of our talk delivered to the Chapel at Red Rocks, Denver Colorado on June 09, 2013.

 

Let’s talk wind.

What comes to your mind when we say “wind?”

Does wind bring up good feelings or bad feelings? Why? Did you have an experience that colored the way you think or feel about wind?

**Melissa**

When I was 10, we moved to Omaha, NE……. and any of you who have ever visited or passed through Nebraska know about the prairie wind. I loved the wind. I would stand, or attempt to stand, out in the wide open fields with my arms stretched out and sing in my loudest voice. The wind carried my voice away and I only heard the rush of the air by my ears and not my own voice. I would lean way into the wind – just to see how far I could lean and not fall over. It was pretty far! Until, of course, the wind stopped for just a moment and I met the turned up earth in that field.

But the Nebraska wind brought scary moments too. Tornados were not something I’d ever even thought about. Paying attention to the color of the sky, or the sounds in the air, or all the other grown up ways that tell of the potential of danger was not in my awareness. But at 10, I learned quickly to grab cushions and the dogs and head to the basement. But I still loved the wind on the sunny days…… out in the field, singing at the top of my lungs.

 

When I was 18, I lived in Boulder in an old dorm room with windows on three sides. Any of you who have ever visited or passed through Boulder know about the wind….. smile……..

 

I hated that wind! It messed up my hair (it was the 80’s – you remember how much time we all took on our hair in the 80’s),it blew my clothes all around, and howled at all hours of the night. And this is the idea of wind I carry with me now, not the delight of my youth but of the howling, destructive force that has come into my adult understanding.

 

And yet, it just is. The wind is just something that is in this world we share. Not something to fight against or get angry with or think of as a personal tormentor.

 

**John**

When we move – either by walking, running, riding a bike, motorcycle, car, horse, boat or roller coaster – we experience our own personal “wind.” Even on the stillest of days, when we move, we perceive a breeze, don’t we? Even now, if you take your bulletin and fan yourself, you feel the rush of air. But it took you doing something, some movement from you, to create this personal wind experience.

 

Einstein said — Nothing happens in the universe until something moves. And this applies not only to mass but all forms of energy. Stuff doesn’t randomly start moving in an unknown direction. It takes a force, an idea, a pull, or a push to make motion happen.

 

In 1665 Sir Isaac Newton proposed three Laws of Motion.

The first law says — in layman’s terms: If an object is not moving, it will not start moving by itself. If an object is moving, it will not stop or change direction unless something pushes against it.

 

**Melissa**

There’s nothing personal about this law. Like gravity, it just is. If you are stuck in something, a bad job, a bad mindset, a bad relationship, a repetitive thought process or a mud puddle, it’s going to take force – or an action – from you to get going again. Depending on the weight of the situation and your resistance to change, it may take a great force. There are external forces that create movement and internal forces that create movement and both of them can meet resistance. Think of one situation in your own life where you knew there was a better way and you moved to change your own circumstances.

 

**John**

When we walk, run or ride that roller coaster, we meet some resistance on our face in the form of the wind, as we move from one point to another. Let’s say for this moment that the wind is a metaphor for the resistance to change. So when you started to change your situation, what resistance did you feel?

 

Coined by Maria Nemeth, the term “Trouble at the border” describes the resistance WE create in our own lives. The actions we take as a result of the inner voices of doubt – what the Buddhists call “Monkey Mind”. The sabotage can be as subtle as an inner nagging that creates doubt and slows us, or as upfront and obvious as the fear that stops us in our tracks. Sometimes this saboteur shows up like a sneaky little spy that encourages us to go into “evidence gathering mode” where we collect supporting evidence or false intelligence that tries to convince us monkey mind was indeed right all along.

 

**Melissa**

Have you ever said “The universe OBVIOUSLY doesn’t want me to do this because look at all this resistance to my attempts.” Did it feel like the resistance was personal? Like God just didn’t want you to walk this path?….

 

Really? Do you think that the universe/God has nothing better to do than to test you this very minute? There is nothing personal about the resistance or the wind. It just is.

**John**

Now, we’re not suggesting that you ignore the wind or the resistance…….. because that would be like asking you to ignore the sunshine or the rain – impossible right?

It’s unwise not to prepare for the wind. It’s unwise not to evaluate the next step and possibly make adjustments to the “plan.” Do you need to take a coat or do you need to change your way of getting there? Is the end goal something worth pushing through or redirecting around the resistance or does the goal itself need an adjustment?

**Melissa**

We all label things and events, real or imagined. Most of the time, labels serve us properly: Peas versus corn, cars versus trucks, green versus blue.

**John**

However , at times our labels are merely the sneaky side of monkey-mind tricking us into limiting thought. Right versus wrong, bad versus good, positive or negative, should have, could have, success, failure – all are limiting judgements

**Melissa**

The resistance, and the labels, and the thoughts, and the woulda, shoulda, might haves swirl in our heads creating chaos and stress. In Mark 4:35-40, Jesus and the disciples were in the midst of a storm crossing a lake in a boat. The disciples were frightened by the turmoil and what appeared to be their impending demise.

**John**

Remember that Unity teaches us that each person, place and event in the Bible represents some part of us or our story. The disciples represent all of our faculties – Faith | Strength | Wisdom | Love | Power | Imagination | Understanding | Will | Order | Zeal | Elimination | Life — These 12 faculties, the “disciples” were in an uproar, because they fully claimed the reality of the storm (the resistance in getting from one place to another) they were deeply in the chaos of their own struggle. Jesus knowing the Truth, not only was unshaken but was so unconcerned that He was sleeping on the bow! Awakened by the fearful voices of the disciples, Jesus (higher thinking) calmed the storm (or struggle) by simply stating “Peace, be still.” Scripture states that they made this journey with other boats – which can be viewed as other people. The storm can be seen as a creation of the culmination of thoughts from all on the journey – or tribal thought. Higher thinking stills the waters not just for one boat, but for all.

**Melissa**

When Jesus stated peace be still, the winds stopped and the waves calmed and *everyone* was able to think clearly again. Jesus is our example, not our exception. What He has done, we too can do [John 14:12]. So when the winds of resistance threaten to swamp your boat, remind yourself — Peace, Be Still and allow the Divine Peace to calm your fears and your worries. The disciples labeled the resistance as bad, Jesus made it neither good nor bad.

**John**

So can we release the good/bad labels and just see events for what they are: Just a connected series of happenings that are part of a long string of events that we label life. Release the judgment, and our thoughts formally pre-occupied on limited thinking, are now freed to remember with genuine clarity.

**Melissa**

Resistance is often thought of in a negative way, but like everything we encounter on our journey, it is there to serve us if we remain awake and aware.

**John**

Knowing that resistance *is* inevitable empowers us to watch for it and use it to our benefit. Resistance can be embraced rather than challenged.

**Melissa**

When resistance is encountered and noticed, take the opportunity to pause, look around and reassess. Where might I be moving too fast? Where might I be moving too slow? Where can I put greater or more mindful effort toward improving this particular path?” Understand that resistance is the Divine throttle helping us avoid moving into territory that we are not yet prepared for.

**John**

Knowing that resistance is inevitable should free us from the surprise when it shows up. So if we are no longer surprised by it, can we give ourselves permission release the need to create stress around it? We know it’s coming, we can stop being alarmed by it.

**Melissa**

And for the Star Trek Fans: Resistance to Resistance is not only futile, it might just be downright silly.

**John**

When we release the need to resist resistance we discover there is no “bad” in it. There is only good, there is only God and God is only Good.

**Melissa**

Every event in life *can* hold a learning opportunity, but it’s not necessarily there *AS* a lesson. We can *choose* to learn from it, but it’s not a class requirement. John & I have come to believe that it’s not about learning the lesson but about *remembering* and reclaiming the Truth.

**John**

We believe that the Universe has better things to do than micro-manage our remembering and our lives. Our master teacher Jesus tells us that God does not dole out favors, nor dole out punishment nor does God give out grades.

Resistance is not a result of wrong-doing or right-doing or missed “lessons” but a positive serving attribute of the Divine. We are all the same in the eyes of God so resistance is neither greater nor lesser for any individuals. We ALL experience resistance and we ALL have the choice to allow it to serve us. The difference is what we each choose to do with it.

**Melissa**

So the next time you feel wind (resistance) blowing through your hair see it as an indication of your forward movement. It’s a gentle reminder to continue your mindful motion. It’s a gentle reminder to apply mindful energy to any situation. And a gentle reminder to enjoy the experience, lean into the wind and sing at the top of your lungs!

So our assignment for you this week is to be on the lookout for resistance, and when you find it, turn your thoughts to your advantage rather than seeing a limiting force.

**John**

A Path to Peace – Moving Past the Attachments.

So far in our Path to Peace series we have had a look into what an unhealthy attachment is and how we can spot them. Seems the next logical step is moving past any attachments that lead to suffering and towards a life of peace.

We have all heard the “Go with the flow” attitude and “Let go and let God”, but often we miss the actual letting go part. We toss the issue into the fire only to reach in, grab the hot embers and get burned in the process. We want to let go but just won’t step deeply enough into faith to let that happen fully.  It’s our attachments to the outcome that cripple us from releasing fully into the flow of the Divine. The Loving Spirit of God wants to provide for us all that we need and desire.  God wants us to be at peace and filled with joy!

Great spiritual masters as well as today’s modern mental doctors have professed the benefits quiet contemplation can have on the mind and body.  Master Teacher Jesus tells us in scriptures to enter the inner chamber and from there, pray in quiet.   Something almost magical happens when we enter a space of internal silence. With gentle practice we begin to quiet the mind, calm the body and awaken the  Perfect Consciousness that resides with in us and is patiently waiting for us to allow it to reveal. This is a place of consciousness where we commune with God, the Divine, Spirit, Allah, Jehovah…

From this place we learn  it is safe to ask the tough questions and get the answers that can move us into the next level of our being. It is from this space of silence that we can look deep within, and with an intention of being honest with ourselves, find our attachments and seek the answers to letting go.

Many of our attachments are deeply programmed because we have hauled them around with us for decades and they have become automatic responses and they originate from all areas of life

  • From our parents who yelled and threw anger in our direction when we did not meet their expectations and so we have learned to do the same.
  • Lack of approval from those who we viewed as authoritarian such as teachers or care-givers so we do improper things to get approval.
  • Mainstream media such as commercials that insist we must look a certain way to be beautiful and movies that show us how tough a man should be.
  • Songs we might hear teach us that we must feel suffering when we lose a valued relationship and that it is okay to take revenge when it happens.
  • Some musical expressions try to teach us to hate authority and the law.
  • The examples of friends  and family who showed us that they hated their ex-spouse so we assume we should do the same.
  • Some are so deeply permeated in tribal thought that we may be challenged daily or hourly to avoid regressing into our old ways.   “My religion is the only right religion” or the condition of Political Hypochondria that has infected our world are both good examples.

 

Day 1. Taking the first step – discovery: Here is an exercise I use. When a situation brings up stress in my life (in whatever form that might be)  I go inside and look for where in my being the stress was triggered, what kind of stress is it – fear, anger, resentment, disappointment, disgust? With clarity on the emotion, I am better prepared to drill into the root attachments.

Day 2 – 3 Investigation: The goal here is to take your awareness of the emotion and allow it to guide you to find what you are attaching to.  Being complex individuals, we each respond to our attachments in our own way, so you will have to use your own life experiences to help you in the process.

Some tips that may help:

  • Recall similar situations where the same emotional response surfaced.  What is common between them? 
  • Fear is sometimes masked as anger.  For instance the fear of losing something might result in anger surfacing. It looks like anger, might even feel like anger but something in the pit of your stomach tells you it’s fear.   Fear of judgement can manifest as anger when a person lashes out from a comment or remark they find demeaning.
  • If your anger is a fight or flight response, there is a good chance it’s based in ego.  Something in the ego feels the need to defend or protect itself so it does so with a show of superiority through aggression.
  • Sadness can be a sign of grief and grief can be an indication of loss. Look for what you “lost” in the situation and this will lead to finding the attachment.
  • Fear of loss may bring jealousy – an example of multi-layered attachments.  Fear and loss are two separate yet connected issues.  Each can exist without the other, but one can trigger the other.  Loss issues arise from attachment to some “thing” in your world and fear is based in a perceived lack of safety or security.  A jealous lover may be attached to control (security) in the relationship (the “thing”)

When I first began healing attachments it took some time to get my head fully into the action of investigation. After practice, when the emotion is discovered, the attachment often reveals itself right away but sometimes it ,might be a little stubborn and I’ll have to “sit” with it for a while. My method is to hold the “intention” to discover and heal the attachment, but I won’t actively pursue it. In its own perfect time it reveals itself.  So if the attachment does not come to you, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t let yourself get attached to finding the attachment!  Let go of any feeling of need to find it. In time it will reveal itself.  Plant the right seed, nurture it and it will come to bear fruit.

 

Day 4 and on. Once the attachment is uncovered, the release work begins.

Giving yourself permission to heal is critical.  The suffering may be so deeply integrated into your life that you have resistance to to letting it go. You may feel like you don’t know any other way to live than the way you are living now.  In other words, you are attached to the suffering that comes from attachment!

  • Can you allow yourself to be okay with not being okay? This is to say that you give yourself permission to accept that you have room for healing. Without this, you will experience persistent resistance to change.

For some it may have to begin with forgiveness work.

  • Forgiveness is for the benefit of self first. Carrying resentments and pain towards others does nothing to the other person, but instead toxifies our own life. Refusing to forgive is denying yourself the power to make a positive change – it is much like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to suffer. Give yourself permission to put down the burdens and move on.
  • A lost friendship from misunderstandings may require forgiving yourself for your part in the exchange. This is not to say you should dwell on your being “right”, but coming to a realization of how you may have handled it better and forgiving yourself for your past actions.  Once you clearly see your part in the matter, you are far more prepared to forgive your friend.  Look for the log in your eye before trying to remove the splinter from theirs.
  • Childhood related issues such as abuse, bullying and neglect may have serious effects on adulthood.  One of the joys of attachment work is the freedom to live in the moment rather than dragging around the past.  Our past prepares us, it does not define us. As our own best guides on our paths, we are free to change our minds and make the choice to live in the now, free from the illusionary bondage of our past.

You may work through the grief process when releasing long held attachments that were falsely associated with their personal view of their identity.

  • Brea the Beekeeper:  “I am a beekeeper and was fired”  –  Brea, is not realizing that the truth of who she truly is as a loving expression of the divine – a spiritual being having a human experience. Beekeeper is a job, not her true identity. Releasing the attachment to the job as her identity might be difficult for Brea as she deeply feels she has lost a part of herself.  By freeing from the attachments of the job title as identity, she is now freed to discover greater truths and higher possibilities in her next career.  The divine never closes a door without leaving another one open. Attachments can blind us from seeing the open doors that are right there in front of us.
  • My mother was an addict and I was withheld affection and stability as a child. When sober, she was engrossed in her distractions and as the day progressed so did her state of intoxication. I and a few of my siblings were born with physical defects as a result of the daily toxins she ingested during her pregnancies.  My upbringing was filled with family anger and resentment. While my father and my siblings did their best to be a stable presence in my life it didn’t overcome the repercussions of the anger.  I used to identify myself with being the child of an alcoholic. In school it served me in an unhealthy way.  Counselors first,  then teachers would give me a break when homework was late because “you know… poor little John’s mom is a drinker.”  I learned very early on that this would get me out of certain things at school. In my mind, it was the perfect excuse! Unfortunately, I fully bought into the story and gradually identified with it.  With my attachment to it, I fell further into self-pity, self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Eventually, I grew to understand that this past did not have to define me. I remember, as I began the release work, I would go through typical stages of grief – the sadness, the bargaining with God, emotional swings, and more. While I have come a great distance, over two decades later, from time to time I still get opportunities to work with this.

Like any skill, practice makes better. The great joy in this practice is that you reap amazing rewards in the quality of your life. You blossom, your relationships sweeten and peace emerges where once there was suffering.  Embrace your past for it has brought you to where you are today and prepared you for your new, fresh and exciting life that is unfolding before your very eyes right here, right now.

Blessings

 

 

 

 

 

A Path to Peace – Spotting Attachments

It is fairly easy to spot attachments once their symptoms are in your awareness.

Some spiritual teachings offer that the ego is the enemy. I see the ego as potential master or potential servant. The ego can serve us if we are willing to keep vigilant awareness to its attachments. The ego is not just the base survival instinct that can pit us against each other, but it also can be the driving force that will move us out of suffering and into a better space.  When anger arises out of ego as a result of an unmet expectation or from a word or two that offended you, or from someone cutting you off in traffic, you have an opportunity to seek what it is that you feel the need to protect.

Attachments lead to lack of compassion and understanding in other’s situations. When things become all about “me,” this is a solid sign that an unhealthy attachment is at work. We are all one with the Divine and with each other. There is no me and you, only us. We are here to work together in each other’s best interests.  My way or the highway mentalities create limitations in our lives that would not exist if we were fully co-creative with those we share life with.

Closed-mindedness from selfish attachments manifest actions that damages us, and puts others at risk for harm.  Closed-minded attachment to religious beliefs, dogmas and philosophies have been at the root of violent psychotic behaviors for millennium. These “I am right and you are wrong” attachments have caused immeasurable death, destruction and suffering.   From the basic back-yard childhood brawl, to all-out genocide, unhealthy attachments are at the root of the behavior.

Part one of this series briefly mentions the sneaky and hard to spot nature of some attachments, so here I offer a few places that I have discovered sneaky attachments in myself and others.

Argumentative or aggressive listening: Are you actively listening with the intention of hearing and valuing what the other person has to say with the same level of respect you deserve, or are you formulating your rebuttal, your argument or your disagreement?  If you are not listening properly then an unhealthy attachment to your point of view may be at work. It’s perfectly okay to have an opinion of your own, but when you are closing down to the thoughts and opinions of others, you may be limiting yourself and them from discovering together a better way to a higher end result.

Being too agreeable: In almost stark contradiction to what you just read, constant agreement could be a sign of attachment to being accepted by others, or it may manifest from an attachment to avoid conflict.  If you have something valuable to contribute that may go against the opinions of the status-quo, refusing to add it to the mix could easily be a disservice to the highest and best outcome for all involved. The key is to present it from a point of view that is helpful and constructive to the conversation, and avoid dismissing other views as being incorrect, invalid or simply wrong.  Focus on communicating in a way that lifts up conversations and those involved rather than tearing things down.

Loyalty to a brand or style of music:  Seems crazy doesn’t it? After all, when you like something, you just simply like it. What could possibly be unhealthy about that?  Liking something is just fine, but when it comes to a point that you like it so much you dismiss other options simply because they don’t fit the mold, then you have crossed the line into attachment.  We like things such as a type of music or a specific brand of ice cream because it brings us some form of pleasure or maybe we trust a brand of car for it’s dependability.  It’s perfectly fine to like something, just don’t close your mind to other alternatives. When we refuse to see or experience other options, and sometimes  we do so with great disdain, we limit our possibilities for something greater to unfold.

And the extra sneaky: Attachments may have layers. One or more attachments may be the symptom of a deeper attachment at work.

Some example standout symptoms of attachment to watch for are:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Envy
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Grief

Any of those may be an outward expression of an unhealthy attachment to something tangible, such as a relationship or material possession, or something less tangible such as an unmet expectation  – like a son or daughter not cleaning their room.  While having a clean room is a good thing, your response to the child not following your direction will help guide you to discovery of any attachments. Is your ego under attack because they failed to honor your parental authority, or can you respond to the situation without fear, anger or resentment?  There is little we can actually do to “control” another human being. Even at a very young age we have our own capacity for thought and decision making.  Having attachment to being “right” and “in-charge” as a parent can reach an unhealthy level.  Control is an illusion anyway.  Teach right thinking and right choices get made. Try to control someone, even a child, and they will seek to express their own control over the situation and resistance ensues.  We can always try to use fear, but is that what we want to teach our future leaders; that ruling with fear is better than careful listening, proper thinking and proper action?  Pick your attachments carefully and thoughtfully.

Feel free to chime-in with any attachment symptoms you have uncovered in the comments below.

Next up: Moving past the attachments.

 

A Path to Peace – Are You Bound by Your Attachments>

Imagine an individual who was self-absorbed to the point of being narcissistic, prone to outbursts and fits at modest provocations sometimes leading to self-destructive or outwardly abusive behavior. This person will swing wildly from rational to irrational with accompanied mood swings and personality shifts at the mere mention of certain words or names.
Does this person strike you as someone who could benefit from some clinical help?  Would you label them a little crazy?

Certainly sounds like someone who could use some help, but these are the outward manifestations we experience from attachments.  They are like a greedy little bully inside of us who absolutely must get it’s way or it lashes out in some harmful manner then burdens us with the consequences.  It may manifest internally as disappointment, depression, anger, resentment, disdain, disgust, or other ugly darkness. Outwardly, attachment might show up as tears, tantrums, aggression, verbal abuse, physical abuse and more.  Like a two year old screaming “mine mine mine!” unhealthy attachments open the door to acts of complete irrational behavior. Our responses to unmet attachments lead to physical and emotional stress that we could avoid if we could lose the attachment.  Detaching from unhealthy fixations in our lives is our path to peace.

Attachments show up in many ways, some obvious and some so are so sneaky it takes practice to spot them. Not all attachments are unhealthy as some serve us rightly. But even those can become harmful if not properly tempered with wise discernment. As the old saying goes: “There are two sides to every coin” and our attachments are no different. As with all things in life, there exists a balance between the dark and the light, the Yin and the Yang, the additive and reductive, the progressive and regressive… you get the point. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Basic human needs drive some of our attachments. The need for nutrition and sustenance can drive our attachment to food, which we might label as a healthy attachment but using food as a substitute for actually addressing some sense of lack in our lives can be harmful. For example, if we connect food with happiness and joy, we may tend to reach out for food anytime we feel less than happy and perhaps overindulge or consume items that are not in our highest and best interest.  Buying material goods can certainly serve us properly in life to meet basic needs. Shelter, safety, personal growth, etc, but spending with the expectation that an object will fill an internal void or fix an internal issue. This “Shopping Therapy” may lead to a temporary distraction from the pains in life, but this neither solves root issues within us that could be addressed, nor bring us actual peace.

Understanding when an attachment is healthy and when it is unhealthy is in my opinion the most important factor towards inner and outer peace. My benchmark for determining the healthiness of an attachment is this question: Does the attachment do myself or another individual any harm? If the answer is yes, then I take that opportunity to look within and drill down for the actual motivation for the attachment and when it is discovered, it is noted and work can begin to heal it.

Next up: Spotting Attachments so you can release towards peace.

 

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

wpid-wp-1365963486013I believe Buddha is usually attributed to this quote.  It doesn’t really matter but we’ll give the Buddhists the applause for having such clarity around suffering.

When you were a child and you touched the stove that you’d been warned not to touch, the resulting pain marked a moment that you may have forgotten about but created a lesson you will not forget. In that split second, you learned something to keep you safe — that stoves are hot and to pay attention when you are around them. (And, maybe, to listen to those voices around you when they call out warnings?  Ah, but that’s another post.)

And yet, while we all know that things cooked on a stove or in an oven are scorching hot, who among us has not reached for the piping hot pan at least once?  Even though you learned the lesson at an early age?  Hmm…….

What’s the difference then in the experience?  Is the pain any different now than from the first time you burned your finger?

Probably not. But I imagine, if you were like me, you suffered that first burn.  You cried. You sought help.  You cried some more. You got some cream and a band aid (and maybe a kiss). You showed the blister to your friends. You told them your horrible tale.  You popped the blister, picked the scab and retold the story. You may have found some sympathetic listeners or others who had similar experiences but in the quiet of the night, when that burn ached, you remembered how you did something you were not supposed to do and now you’re paying for it.

Now move forward in time to the last time you burned yourself……  other than an “Ouch!” did you suffer it? Our son trained to be a chef. He once burned his hand so badly that I was really concerned about him. He however, was unconcerned. It was just another burn he treated and his life moved on.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Perspective, life experience and coping tools change the very same pain from one that we suffer to one that is a minor blip in our life.

So, is there a pain in your life that you are suffering? Is it the first time you’ve felt this pain or is this one you’ve been dragging around for a while? Have you sought help and tools to aid its healing? Or are you telling your tale and taking the punishment over and over and over again?

You have it within you to release the suffering. Stop telling your story. Take steps to heal the pain and move away from those who encourage you to pick the scab. Seek supportive but not co-dependent people to call you out when you are standing in your suffering. Seek the higher call in the situation. Is there something you are supposed to be understanding or is it just an experience from which to draw future wisdom?  You don’t have to understand it right now.  You just need to not get stuck in it.

Living hurts sometimes. It sucks and sometimes it’s all you can do to take the next step.  But take it. And take another and another.  Choose to acknowledge that it hurts but the hurt is not going to take over your world forever.  Because burns heal.  They leave a mark, but it doesn’t hurt like it did when it first happened.  You don’t have to carry the story anymore.