Challenging Times

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.

Begin Listening to the Cry of Your Soul

We are, by essence, adaptive and evolving beings, and when we resist this call of life, we suffer. If we do not adapt, evolve, and wake up, we perish, a lesson we still have not learned from nature. The earth has and will continue to survive long after we are gone because we ignore this truth out of arrogance and greed.

When human beings and human rights come second to the desires of the ego, we all lose. We need to begin to question our thoughts and the choices we are making. We must wake up to the conditioning we have carried for generations; something many perceive does not exist because of this very conditioning. Otherwise, we will continue to make the same errors of our ancestors. We must make morally enlightened decisions and start to live from a place of higher wisdom. Otherwise, we can expect things to continue progress in a direction that makes us even more uncomfortable than we are now.

The soul is always crying out for us to live from our highest wisdom; we ignore this call by identifying with our thoughts and not questioning them. Pain and suffering offer us the opportunity to begin listening to this call. They always point toward the light if we open the door to see it. When we keep the door closed through our denial and resistance, it becomes impossible to see this light. Therefore, allow your pain and suffering to crack the door open because even the tiniest of light can change everything. The choice lies before you, will pick it up or follow the thought that says, I know I am right; it is the other person who needs to question their thoughts, not me.

Wounded or Wise

We have a choice when we go through difficult things; we can either become wounded or wise. The inherent benefits within challenging times can only be seen with greater awareness and directing our attention in the proper direction. When we follow the minds unsolicited thoughts, they guide us towards suffering.

When we start looking for the benefit or opportunity in the problem, something different will be seen.

Know that your joy has never left you, but you have pushed your joy aside through your thinking. It can no more leave you than the blue sky above. It can appear to be gone by the cover of clouds, but above the clouds, it is still seen. So point your attention towards what you want, and once you do, the clouds will float by revealing the joy that never left.

Becoming Free From Unsolicited Thoughts

Unsolicited thoughts are not your friend. You must notice this undesirable habit of automatically identifying with your thoughts. They should be observed and questioned by bringing awareness to them; then, they will lose their power over you. One question you can ask yourself is, do I know this to be one-hundred percent true?

You are not your thoughts, and when you identify with them, they rise to power and begin to control your disposition and the direction of your life. No thought can pull you into a story without your consent. The more you bring awareness to them, the less power they have, and eventually, you will be grounded in the present moment again.

Note: Do not try to stop your thoughts; this will only keep you trapped. Many of you have wanted to do this during meditation and failed. The aware and awake do not identify or attach to thoughts. Then they do not hang around. They float by like a cloud in the sky instead of turning into a storm.

How much time do you spend on the what-ifs of life that never happen? How different would your life be if your unsolicited thoughts did not drag you away from the present moment? How much more energy would you have to be present with what faces you now? Know that where your attention goes, your energy follows. How can you create or manifest what you want when your energy is depleted or is directed toward the very thing that you do not want in your life?

The first step is to use your awareness to notice the automatic and endless flow of these unsolicited thoughts. No one can do this for you. You must be willing to begin to pay attention, step out of the stories your mind tells you through these thoughts. Become the observer, and watch what is happening. Your mind may say, how do I do that? And I say that you already know how to do it, so trust that you do. Any thought that says you cannot do this, or you do not know how is observed, isn’t it?

Few dare to do this, so know that you are among a courageous few if you do. Be kind and gentle to yourself when you slip, and you will falter from time to time, particularly in the beginning. However, if you stay with it, things will only continue to improve in your life.

Please do not take my word for it. I want you to have a direct experience that this works, that is the only way you will know the truth of what I speak and use it. So, try it out if you dare. What have you got to lose except a few thousand or so of unsolicited thoughts per day?

Deep Listening

Something extraordinary takes place when our thoughts become quiet, and we listen deeply to someone else share their truth, their pain. When our thoughts remain silent, and we feel a direct connection or oneness with this person, healing can happen. Genuinely listening to someone else is a benefit for both parties.

However, if we are forming a response, or think we know what they need to do, we will not allow the space for healing to happen. If we want to interject our thoughts or experiences before the other person is done sharing, we break this transformative connection. We are no longer deeply listening. At that moment, we lose our chance to be there wholly for that person.

Helping them is rarely about finding a solution, but being present and holding space so they can feel safe to share their truth, without judgment. Even a single thought of judgment may be seen or felt by the other person consciously and is always transmitted energetically, causing a blockage to wholeness.

Anyone can become a deep listener. Just know in the beginning, you will see your thoughts arising, and you must be careful not to get distracted, or to identify with them. Therefore, while learning to listen in this way, please know that you do not have to be perfect because any sincere attempt to listen to someone in this manner will be met by grace. Something special will take place for all involved. After some time and through awareness, your ability will naturally develop and evolve on its own. You may even find people whom you do not know sharing their truth with you. Your presence will become a brighter beacon of light and a blessing to all those around you. Remain steadfast to your intention, and you cannot fail.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a position to hear someone’s truth, try deep listening to be present with him or her. In fact, use it all the time because it connects you with your True-Self, and you will have a direct experience of the power of presence. 

The Necessary and Unnecessary

At some point, each one of us feels hurt in this life. I have not met anyone who has escaped the emotional disturbances of personhood, and whether we choose to blame someone else for this pain or not, our suffering is real.

One of the many benefits of spiritual maturity or what some would call waking up is knowing that we are not our hurt or pain, that we are something more significant. Life in personhood is always changing, and it is not stable or reliable. This knowledge alone will not change anything for you, but it does open the door to having a direct experience of your True-Self, and that will change everything for you. It will transform your relationship with life as you know it now.

Up to that point, we can become confused about our feelings and experiences or misinterpret them. However, once we stop identifying with every thought and feeling that arises, we can begin to differentiate between the necessary and unnecessary—an essential step towards addressing what needs to be taken care of and living life with greater peace and joy.

Experience the Resurrection of You

You have a thought, and the thought says that what is happening to me is being forced upon me.

Yet how we choose to experience what we perceive to be being forced upon us is wholly ours. The mind is not the dictator of how we feel about the experience we are having unless we let it. Unless we attach to the thought, give it legitimacy or said another way, identify with it. Because once we identify with it, it becomes real for us, not everyone, just us.

Have you ever experienced a period in your life where nothing had changed, and yet everything was different? Something did change, what was it? It was not something on the outside, but rather something within.

Was it a belief, perception, or some other concept of the mind that changed? When we begin to pay attention at this level by using awareness, nothing has to improve on the outside, and yet everything can be different, how we experience the world shifts.

This shows us the power of awareness and our ability to experience our lives in a new way. Yes, you can dethrone the dictator if you begin to pay more attention to its cunning ways.

Emotional Manipulation

It is only immature people who believe, “I am separate; therefore, I can manipulate you, even exploit you, to ensure my own happiness.”

-Eknath Easwaran

We see this play out with internet trolls, even so-called friends who like to send us things or post things to get a rise out of us. Do not let someone else’s misguided immaturity steal your peace. See them and their tactics for what they are; notice what arises in you when they attack and let it go.

This will take practice at first and take time to reverse a lifetime of habitual thinking, but you can do it and in much less time than you think.

Remember that no one has any power over how you feel. Your upset comes when you identify with what is said or seen; mission accomplished said the troll. No matter what enters your space or thoughts, remember you have the power and control, not them, and not your mind. No one can take that away from you, except the one who thinks it.

In Difficult Times

We are meant to be fundamentally changed by challenging times and events; to transcend our old identity.

Pain and suffering will occur to the extent that we resist what is happening. However, when we can see these circumstances with a pair of fresh eyes, a new perspective, we will suffer less, and for some, it will be possible not to suffer at all.

You do not want to end up being the same person that you were before these events happened; otherwise, you will become more anchored into the conditioned-self, leaving you no better off than you were before they occurred. Always remember you are walking in Consciousness or God and not just your body.

Living an Awakened Life Becoming Zero

I remember when I was growing up that calling someone a zero meant that he or she was useless or worthless. Now here I am decades later writing about becoming zero but from a loftier understanding.

You will notice with a little bit of awareness that everything in personhood comes and goes, including the body. Life is not stable from the perspective of the person. One moment you can be upset, the next laughing and then the next anxious. When we take pause, this can be noticed, but it is something that usually is overlooked or ignored, not by choice, of course, but by habit, a habit that took shape so the mind could remain a controlling authority.

Let me tell you with one-hundred percent certainty that becoming zero is the most stable state you can experience. However, I do not expect you to believe me; but instead, I want you to experience it for yourself because it is only through having a direct experience that you will come to see the truth.

When you are curious, you learn, and when you are desperate, you discover. The mind wants to learn and will have its own interpretation of what becoming zero means. It will put up roadblocks every chance it gets to distract you. Therefore, it is up to you to use your awareness to awaken to these distractions and stay focused on what is evident.

What do I mean by becoming zero? It means you do not have any attachment to your thoughts and feelings. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not saying that you should not think and feel. Of course, you will. However, you will do it by choice. In other words, your thoughts and feelings will not control you and operate unchecked. They will still come and go, and you are free to pick them up at any time. Moreover, it certainly does not mean that somehow your life will be dull or boring. In truth, just the opposite will happen.

Can you feel the freedom that comes with having command over what causes your psychological suffering?

Remember, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power over you until you believe it. I can have a thought that says this is amazing, and someone else might think it is awful. When we believe something is amazing, we feel good, and if we believe it is awful, we suffer. I am sure you can access countless instances of this in your life — for example, a new relationship or the break-up of one. Therefore, without belief, a thought, feeling, or emotion has no power, and therefore it will pass like a cloud floating across the sky.

Now, this is very simple to do. First, we create some space between our thoughts, feelings, and emotions by not believing in them automatically. We begin to notice or question what arises. This is accomplished by bringing awareness to them and becoming the observer. It is from the position of the observer that we create the space we need to stay unattached to what comes. As long as we are watching and not grabbing hold of the thought, feeling, or emotion, there will be some space creating a moment free of reaction, which will lead to stability. You will feel a sense of freedom in this space.

Now I did say this was simple to do, and it is; okay here comes the but, the challenge happens when things start to bubble up from underneath, i.e., conditioning, beliefs, feelings, etc. You have years or decades of automatically going with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions; it is a habit. To break the habit, you will need to come back to observing as the mind distracts you repeatedly. And it will try to distract you because you are taking your power back. Remember, nothing will stick unless you believe in it. You break the habit of attachment by becoming the observer.

There is no need to struggle. If it feels hard to do, then notice that that is a thought. Step back into the observer position, and the hardness will soften, letting go with ease. Any struggle signifies that you are attaching to a thought, feeling, or emotion created by the mind to distract you.

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” -Blaise Pascal

Start here first, and do the best you can because the smallest step toward your authentic-self transcends the mind and brings about tremendous transformation.