Life becomes much more challenging when we do not question our beliefs, become aware of our conditioning, and notice the judgments we make daily. By bringing more awareness to our thoughts and actions, we can see their impact on our lives and relationships. By continuing to use awareness, we can begin to see the concepts created within us by them. When we fail to do this, we will always wonder, isn’t there more to life than this?
You may think this is a daunting task or that you do not know how to do it. Thoughts like these keep you stuck, and they are not true. Remember, it is as simple as bringing more awareness to your thoughts and actions rather than unconsciously going through your day without paying attention. Therefore, attention and awareness are two of your greatest allies to living a happier and more fulfilled life.
The overwhelming grief cracked me open, and my love for this person began pouring out. Then I noticed when I was ready that love began filling the cracks. I saw beauty in these cracks because they reminded me of my love for this person and our time together.
Then the love that helped me grieve began to nudge me forward. And I began living again because I fully felt my loss and faced the truth as I knew it. Their presence and body were gone, but my love for them and all the memories will never cease.
Remember, our grief is an expression of loving someone deeply. Please do not mistake it for weakness or feel ashamed of what you are experiencing and expressing. Instead, see it for what it is and feel everything you need to because doing anything less will feel incomplete.
Why do we feel it is all or nothing in our lives, this country, and worldwide? Are you aware of this behavior in yourself? Living this way always leads to disappointment and, indeed, suffering. This behavior has carried over into our politics and is one of the reasons why things are the way they are today. You think it is because of what the other person believes; it is their issue. They are wrong, and I am right. Well, that is simply not true.
Just look around; you will see this behavior everywhere. It is certainly not hidden, but it is often overlooked. Of course, it is always easier to see it in someone else, but we must see it in ourselves; otherwise, nothing will change.
We are righteous in our beliefs, and the truth in our righteousness is that our beliefs are deceiving us. It is my way or the highway, my way is right, and your way is wrong, so we must do it my way. When we have such a narrow view of an issue and the world, it only causes discord and suffering.
Peace will only come when we work together and are willing to compromise. We must take the time to see each other’s points of view, but just seeing it does not go far enough. We must understand the importance and value it holds for the one who believes it. When we discount it without examination or contemplation, we invalidate the other person’s feelings and beliefs. We have all experienced this feeling. Think about a time when someone did that to you and remember how it felt.
When we can move away from being so focused on our all-or-nothing attitudes, we can create solutions; instead of gridlock. We will suffer less and move towards peace in ourselves, this country, and the world. This may seem like a tall order, especially if we wait for the other person to do it first. You must be willing to be the first to do it. Do it for yourself, your children, and grandchildren, and do not wait for anyone else, or it will never happen. The question is, will you?
Remember, there have always been conflicting beliefs from the beginning of time. However, conflicting beliefs do not have to lead to conflict if both parties remain open to the other person’s point of view and are willing to work towards a compromise. We must leave our all-or-nothing attitudes behind and come together, work together like the pieces of a puzzle. We must come together in unity rather than falling further and further apart.
No matter how much you think you love, appreciate and respect the world we live in, you can always love, appreciate and respect it a little bit more. How do you do that? By increasing your awareness and noticing that you have an addictive nature towards consumption. By the way, we all have this addiction to varying degrees. You can see it if you look closely enough at your life. Many of you have at least one area of your life that you are already aware of but cannot change because you think you must stop completely. You may have already tried more than once.
This is a false assumption on your part. You only need to take small manageable steps toward showing your love, appreciation, and respect for Mother Earth, yourself, and the generations to come by noticing your habits and making new choices. Choices that you feel comfortable making. You do not have to sacrifice your joy for something or your life to impact the world positively.
For example, do not eat meat for one meal a week. You may not think this will help, but it will. What if one billion people chose not to eat meat for one meal a week? This would significantly impact our lives and the planet. Or perhaps you buy a water filter system like a Berkey water system instead of using bottled water all the time. You can do so many things that will not change your life that much, but that would ultimately have a massive impact if we do it together. Thinking you cannot do anything about the challenges we face, ignoring them, or believing they do not exist, solves nothing. Do not make these false assumptions because you have not taken the time to bring greater awareness into your life. Show yourself just how much love you have to give to those around you and the world.
Can you spend today looking for things to appreciate? Can you do this repeatedly throughout the day? And then, when you notice that you have fallen out of this practice, can you gently bring your thoughts and attention back to doing it again?
You may notice that this is not easy and that your mind wanders. It gets distracted by thoughts that have nothing to do with appreciation. Notice what it gets drawn to, and gently bring it back to appreciation again.
Do not let your thoughts tell you there is nothing to appreciate because this is not true, no matter your circumstances. There are countless things in life; your life to appreciate if you take a moment, slow down, and notice.
Therefore, I encourage you to challenge yourself today and try it. Then perhaps you will do it again tomorrow and the next day until it becomes a way of living that brings more peace and joy into your life.
The truth is if you take yourself with all your difficulties, pain, anxiety, and suffering to the park one day, you might be surprised to see how much joy abounds there in others.
Your mind will say, but they do not have my problems. And while you listen to your mind tell you this, your anxiety increases, and you begin to suffer even more. You ask yourself, why can’t I experience joy like that? Well, you can if you stop listening to the mind as an all-knowing source.
If you only concentrate on your pain, that is all you will find. Try concentrating on what feels good. Sometimes even noticing a slight difference can change your outlook. For instance, when you are in physical pain, a slight deviation from level 10 to level 8 is a difference in the right direction, even if only temporary. However, we often overlook this difference and see things as the same even though they have changed. Once you notice these differences, you can find hope again and start moving your attention in a new direction.
Do not forget life is a contradiction. Look at any moment, and with a bit of clarity, you can see that all “states of being” exist simultaneously in this world. Even if you feel you are only experiencing part of them, that does not mean the others do not exist. You can redirect your attention toward something different at any moment in your life.
Now I am not saying that you should not feel your feelings or that you should not look at the truth of your life. You can do that and at the same time direct your attention towards that which brings you joy.
Never forget to lean into your blessings no matter how small they seem. The fact that you are alive and able to watch the sunrise and set is a wondrous gift, even if your mind says otherwise.
Have you forgotten this amid your difficulties, pain, anxiety, and suffering?
I guarantee you that no matter how much your mind tells you that you have the right to suffer or complain, you also have every right to feel joy. You do not have to believe everything your mind says to you. I can assure you that it is constantly lying about or exaggerating your circumstances. Therefore, when the pain in your body or life speaks up loudly, or some person says something that causes you frustration or anger, witness what your mind starts telling you first. Notice that it tells you how bad things are or how wrong that person is. And then, instead of taking up a conversation in agreement with it, look deeper within. Remember that you have the power to redirect your attention and begin to focus that attention on what feels good or brings you joy. Perhaps you feel that is too much at first, but I am sure that thought came from your mind and is not the truth. Find the smallest of cracks because “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ― Leonard Cohen.
Worrying, have you been able to escape it in your life so far? Probably not. The truth is if you have thoughts, then at some point in your life, you will experience worry. Why? Because that is where it originates. It indeed affects some of us more than others, but it’s something that we all encounter in our lives.
Has your worry ever affected your sleep, eating habits, or possibly even your health? How many times have you worried about something that never happened? More times than you remember, I suspect, because that is how cunning worry and the mind can be.
When we get caught by worry without awareness, we become trapped by it in our thoughts. The mind runs wild, and our imagination offers endless possibilities, most of which never turn out to happen. They are often negative in context and offer no solution, simply speculation.
So, what can we do about worry? The first thing is to understand it. If you don’t, how will you ever stop doing it?
All worry begins with an unsolicited thought. We have unsolicited thoughts all day long. Most of them go unnoticed. However, we can get caught at any moment by one of them. Once we do, we have identified with it, and it evolves into an inner conversation that we carry on with ourselves.
A conversation like this is seldom helpful. Most of the time, it is persistent and pointless. Rarely is it the truth. These false and exaggerated thoughts seed our worry, which can evolve into anxiety and fear for many.
Therefore, it is ideal to recognize when one of these thoughts arises and not identify with it. At first, we may not recognize the individual thought(s). Instead, we get grabbed in the conversation with ourselves. Yet, we will invariably become conscious of this conversation at some point. Once noticed, we can release our worry. Of course, this may take some practice. Remember, it is not about being perfect. You only need to notice what has happened before, during, or after it occurs. This recognition will eventually lead to the end of worry if done with regularity and kindness.
Your awareness is what notices these happenings. So, it is essential to strengthen it by noticing these thoughts and happenings. Once they are seen for what they are, a lie, exaggeration, or complete fabrication, they cannot cause you to worry. So, ask yourself, “Do I know this to be 100 percent true” any time during the experience. Practice this repeatedly, and it will lead you away from worry and back to peace.
Remember to be kind to yourself when you forget. New circumstances may show you that you still have more practice to do even though you were successful in the past. Awareness can always bring you back to your natural and peaceful nature. However, your thoughts and emotions may be used by your conditioned self to pull you back into worry. So, use your awareness to notice this and free yourself once again.
Do you know that everyone suffers at some point in their life? How about those who experience suffering their entire lives. You may not always see this suffering because many people are very good at hiding it, while others do not want anyone to know they are hurting. And, of course, it is easy to miss someone else’s suffering when we are amid our own. And yes, everyone’s level of suffering is different, but that does not make their suffering any less.
We experience suffering based on the specific situation and how we have been conditioned to navigate those situations. Therefore, what might be easy for one person can be extremely difficult or even impossible for someone else.
Notice how your endless thoughts trap you in their seductive and distracting ways, and your day passes by without a thought of the world’s suffering. They can even make you forget about your suffering or amplify it to an unbearable place, even a suicidal place.
Some think they will not suffer anymore if they can only reach a certain level of awakening or enlightenment. However, is this truth or wishful thinking on their part? How can it be avoided? We are, after all, feeling human beings no matter our understanding of our spiritual life and connection. The truth is that you can mitigate your suffering with greater awareness but rest assured that no matter how spiritually aware you are, you are still living the life of a human being too. Would you not feel the loss of a family member, a friend, or a beloved pet and perhaps suffer for some time? Indeed, these are situations that we all face and often create pain for us for varying degrees of time.
Of course, there are numerous types of suffering worldwide. For example, extreme suffering can be caused by war, illness, race, and famine. Have you suffered these or something else? Are you still suffering?
Know that every minute that goes by, millions of us suffer simultaneously. Therefore, know that you are not alone in your suffering. Do not be afraid to reach out when you need to and ask for help. Please do not ignore your suffering or resist it. Learn to feel the pain as best you can in the moment. Because when you do, it opens the door to transformation and healing. Otherwise, it becomes buried in the body, possibly impacting the rest of your life in some way, and it can even influence your health.
Moving through your suffering can be very challenging and require significant effort sometimes. Initially, we may not always be able to deal with things at first, which is okay. However, eventually, we must face our difficulties, without and within, if we ever want to heal and move on. Be more aware of what you might be ignoring or resisting, and never forget that you are not alone.
Challenging times can fundamentally change us; in fact, that is what they are meant to do. The only time they do not is when we resist what is happening and fail to remain present. They support the transcendence of our current identity and open us up to new possibilities, but only if we let them.
We will suffer to the extent that we resist what is happening. However, when we see these circumstances for what they are instead of what our thoughts tell us about them, we will gain a new perspective. With this new perspective, our suffering will be diminished, end much sooner, and for some, stop instantly with this awareness.
You do not want to end up being the same person you thought you were before these events took place. Otherwise, you will become more anchored into your conditioned self, leading to more pain.
Know this truth; peace is never found by those who try to avoid life’s difficult times. Without this recognition, you will only see your troubles as unfavorable. And while there may be truth in your troubles, your experience of that truth does not have to be dictated by your thoughts about it. You can rise above them, which means everyone can, not just others who do not have YOUR problems.
Therefore, do not miss any opportunity that a challenging time might bring to you. And yes, it may be hard at first. You may even think it is impossible because you get caught in your pain and fear of the experience. In these times, we do not want to look or forget to look for the positive. We get lost in our endless thoughts, which tell us a story about our suffering, perhaps even how justified we are to remain in it.
We can feel like there is no way out, and we will always feel the way we do now. If you are alive, I presume you have already felt this way, perhaps more than once; I know I have. So based on your past experiences, is it true that you will always feel this way, or there is no way out?
Are you feeling that way right now? And if you are, have you looked for something other than suffering from your experience? Pain can ease with time, but it will rise again unless you find a way to be present with it. Therefore, do not let your fear or thoughts get in the way of you looking for something other than pain. Perhaps you will find something positive, even life-changing, from your challenging experiences, but you will never know if you do not look.