Navigating the Contradiction of 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. 

Perhaps the Only Way to Stop Worrying

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.

Surviving the Storm of Suffering

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

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.

Thinking, Feelings, and Finding Peace

Much of your life is spent thinking; even when you wish it would stop, it doesn’t, does it? We tend to think about how we feel too, which, of course, is not feeling at all — it’s thinking.

Through thought, our mind tells us that it is too uncomfortable to feel our feelings. We then get caught in a loop of thought about how painful we feel without ever really exploring our feelings. We can even have body sensations that confirm our thoughts about it. This tendency of the mind leads us down an exhaustive path of pain and suffering.

The truth is we must begin to notice this ploy of the mind to break free of it and then feel our feelings fully. However uncomfortable that may be—resisting them leads to a much lengthier healing process and an increased level of suffering.

Feelings are energy, and as such, they must keep flowing. Resisting them means we hold onto them, and the energy gets stuck in our body, which can cause physical pain and even illness.

Recognizing this truth or knowing it on an intellectual level is not enough; you must have a direct experience to embody this truth. We often end up stopping short on the spiritual path and in life of realizing this because the mind tells us that we know it already, whatever it is. Then we get distracted by thought again and sent down another path without ever having a direct experience. The mind has endless offers to distract us, and many of us can spend our whole life seeking and not finding. How many years or decades have you been looking?

Therefore, the next time you find yourself suffering, notice if you are in your head and having a conversation with yourself. Bring your attention down to your chest, the heart area, and notice that your thoughts begin to slow down. Then focus even more attention there and begin to feel your feelings. They literally are your friend and not something to fear. Know that the mind will try to stop you through thought, physical sensation, and intensity.

Be with your feelings, let whatever needs to arise, and let the energy flow again—knowing that you are entirely safe. Some of you may feel the energy flowing along with the emotion, and some may not. Either way is perfect. Do not let the mind come in and question whether you are doing it right or not; it is just another distraction. Keep your attention in the chest. If you are guided by the feeling to another part of the body, follow it. Just stay with your feelings and keep breathing. If it feels too overwhelming, you have the power to slow it down or stop it at any time.

The mind may tell you otherwise, but I can assure you this is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and your body. You are the only one who can offer yourself this kind of unconditional love. We have all felt someone’s love for us being taken away before because it was not unconditional. However, once you feel this kind of self-love, you will know it can never be taken away by anyone. Therefore, do not be afraid to feel your feelings because what is often disguised as pain can blossom into something beautiful if you let it.

Beliefs

“We see space as what separates us from everyone and everything. But what if space is what holds everything together; what if it connects everything.

Know that sometimes what we believe to be true is not the truth at all. What is true is that if we never question our beliefs, then our misguiding beliefs are sure to create pain and suffering in our lives. So whether you believe that space is what separates us or connects us, we must begin to question our beliefs. Inquiry at this level always leads to a greater understanding of who we are and the world around us—bringing more peace and comfort into our lives and those lives that we touch.”

The Root Cause of Your Disturbances

Are you feeling frustrated because things are not going the way you want in life? Perhaps you are looking for a job, relationship, or you have a desire that will not manifest. Maybe your fearful of all that is happening in the world today.

Do you know what the root cause of your disturbance is? Does your mind immediately tell you that it is another person, outside circumstances that cause it, or maybe it is something you perceive to be out of your control, like covid19 or something personal like your age?

Have you noticed that all these reasons that show up in the mind are entirely unsolicited? They do not come from critical thinking; they just show up spontaneously. What would happen if you did not immediately identify with these thoughts? Would your life unfold differently if they never appeared?

Let me answer that last question for you; yes, it would be very different because your thoughts would no longer be in control of guiding your life. You would be free from doing things in the same conditioned way you do them now, and you would have a stronger connection to your intuition. You would be free from frustration and worry, or it would be significantly minimized. You would have more energy, and your life would change in many unexpected ways.

The question is, how do we take our power back. I can offer you a simple process that works. It may feel challenging at first because we are unconsciously habituated to listening to and identifying with our thoughts without question. The extent of this varies for each of us. But we have been doing it for years, if not decades, so do not think that you are the one person not impacted by it.

Most of us will make gradual progress over time rather than giants leaps or the expected instant gratification the ego wants. Our progress is based on our ability to connect with greater awareness and then bring this awareness into our experience, which may feel uncomfortable at first. Particularly for some people, they notice the volume of unsolicited and negative thoughts; previously unseen is much greater than expected. Many of these thoughts can sound ridiculous once we start to pay attention to them.

So, what is this simple process? It is the observation of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that arise from them. When we can observe them occurring, without identification, we create some space or freedom from them. The mistake many make is trying to stop them consciously. You will only find yourself identifying with them more, a subtle trick of the mind to distract you.

When we no longer perceive ourselves as the thought, we notice that all thoughts come and go, just as everything does in personhood. This is an essential recognition because we often begin to THINK that uncomfortable circumstances will last forever. Our thoughts reinforce this misunderstanding. You can verify this by looking at past experiences. By having this erroneous perception, we begin to experience frustration, anxiety, fear and worry. We begin to have pointless conversations with ourselves in the mind that reinforce this story and keeping us stuck. We can no longer see a way out, which causes tremendous suffering. Suffering that is unwanted and unnecessary. The desire to not have this experience can intensify our suffering because we now have conversations about how bad it is, so the cycle persists.

We must regain command of the mind, our thoughts, and feelings if we ever want to be free from suffering. Therefore, I offer you this simple and effective way to begin breaking the habit of the cause of your suffering. Begin today, observing your thoughts and any feelings that arise as often as you can. Notice when you get pulled into a conversation with the mind and question if it is essential. Are there body sensations that clue you into being caught by the mind? Notice and see. Bring more awareness into watching this unfold in your daily life, and I guarantee that you will begin to see how much time is wasted being dragged around from one meaningless thought to another by the mind. Feelings arise from these thoughts, and cause disturbances in the body, pay attention.

With some attention and awareness, a little practice, and some time, you will begin to master this innate ability, and your life will change. You will experience more peace, suffer less over things that do not need your attention, and find your way back to the present moment.

The Blame Game

Do you ever get tired of all the blaming that goes on these days? It is the fault of the liberals or the conservatives, which is not the reality. If you cannot see that both parties are to blame, that the root of the problem is not a political party, but some of the people that make up that political party, then you are blind to the truth.

If you think all the good and right people are on this side and not that side, you need to wake up. Belonging to a particular political party does not make you a good person or right. Belonging to a specific church or religion does not make you a good person or right.

We are good people when we love one another and treat everyone equally and with respect. We are good people when we are kind, compassionate, and empathetic. We are good people when we make good choices and learn from our mistakes. We are good people when we dare to do better because when we know better, we should always do better. Of course, as we see in the world that does not always happen.

So let’s start learning from our mistakes and start doing better. Doing better will not be accomplished by pointing figures at one another but by questioning where we can do better personally. Instead of expecting someone else to be different, we need to take a closer look at ourselves.

You can complain all you want, and all it will do is cause you to suffer, worry, and live in fear. Stop thinking that your way is the only way. Start to quiet your thoughts long enough so you can feel some peace again and realize we are all in this together. If you cannot give love, then show some kindness. If you cannot be kind, then be patient. If you cannot be patient, then say nothing. Get support, ask for help if you need to, love yourself first, will make it much easier to be a good person.

The Real Cause of Our Pain and Suffering

The mind and our conditioning tell us that we should never suffer, feel pain, or have difficulties; that the perfect life is problem-free, and this becomes our belief and pursuit. Many religious people think and are taught that if they find God, all their problems will go away, and the spiritual seeker often believes that enlightenment will free them from all of life’s complications.

Is this your experience? Can you tell me that this is true, that you have escaped the challenges of life through these pursuits? Following this concept of freedom, when presented by the mind, will only keep you trapped in an endless quest. You will always feel that you are getting closer to your desired destination, why it’s just one more step, the mind will say. Yet somehow, you never seem to arrive.

If we want to be free, then we must awaken from the mind’s blinding influence. We must be willing to take a step back from what it is saying for a moment because real freedom comes when we allow all of life to flow through us. We cannot continue to follow the false narrative that the mind presents, where there should be no pain or suffering at all.

We must allow and feel whatever arises, to embrace and experience it. Being mindful when resistance appears, because whatever flows will go, be transmuted, or transcended. Whatever we resist will get stuck and persists.

Take a step back, become the observer of your thoughts, and watch how the mind frequently influences your life. Then let your unrest awaken you to the present moment and your True-Self. Let feelings and facts destroy the imagined storytelling of the mind and be open to receiving grace and the guidance of your True-Self that is always available to everyone.

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.