The Appreciation Challenge

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.

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.

No One is Ordinary!

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.

Healing

Healing takes many forms, and we have already consciously experienced this many times in our lives. And I can say with great certainty that everyone has or will heal on every level of life; however, you will not always be conscious of every healing experience. Most of you have already forgotten many more than you will remember. Many will agree that the experiences that leave the deepest impressions seem to be the ones that hurt the most.

There are various ways of healing, for example, the quick fix. We want something that will take away our pain quickly and easily. The perceived miracle, in truth, all healing is a miracle. Life itself is a miracle. Then there is the long-haul, which is that injury or illness that will not or does not seem to want to go away. The long haul has much to teach us if we are willing to listen.

We usually think of the more common types of healing, like physical or emotional, perhaps even mental. However, we could include spiritual healing, which has to do with the spirit or the soul, and holistic healing, which includes the body, mind, and spirit.

Now it can be easy to get confused or distracted on the healing path. What helps pave the way is slowing down, patience, and persistence for the more complex and challenging. Of course, many factors are unique to the one having the experience. Staying in the present moment, awake and aware, helps keep us from getting confused or distracted. However, if this happens, remember that’s okay. Once you wake up to it, move forward without criticizing yourself. It is common to falter in this way or fall into our emotions when dealing with something traumatic. There is power and healing by feeling our emotions fully.

Often, we give up, ignore, or resist what is genuinely happening out of a combination of fear, frustration, and anger. Of course, we can have many different feelings during this time, particularly when faced with a long-haul healing experience. Not viewing the reality of our current situation only leads to suffering and the inability to see a path forward.

Healing does not always happen in the way we want or expect. When this occurs, it does not mean that our healing is any less impactful. In fact, it is precisely what needs to happen, or it would not be happening. Therefore, it is essential to remain open to your experience even when things do not seem to go your way. Why? Because if we pay attention and remain open, we can find opportunities in the problems we face. I know that sometimes it does not feel that way, but I have seen it repeatedly.

It feels this way because you are stuck in resistance. Therefore, look for fear, frustration, or anger. Use your awareness to take an honest inventory of what you are feeling and thinking. What is your state, and where are your thoughts focused? Growth, healing, and change will present themselves in these situations. And grace is always present when we are in the moment with what is.

I have found that significant transformation comes during the most challenging times in our life. Verify this for yourself by looking back at your own life. Can you remember a difficult time, that after weathering the storm, you came out the other side better for it? Did you learn something about yourself, life, or others? Did you heal in some unexpected way?

So, it is those situations that we find uncomfortable or do not like that can offer us something life-changing if we are paying attention. Remaining open to possibility gives us the best chance for achieving our desired outcome. Without an open heart and a willingness to go through the tough stuff, we limit our possibilities, slow the healing process, and suffer more than is needed.

Long-term or long-haul challenges require an unbending intention. Many years ago, I injured my back at the age of 16 and then again more severely in my 20’s. After living in pain for years, a neurologist told me I would never get better. The doctors said I would live in pain for the rest of my life, and I would have to learn how to manage it. It was hard to hear for sure, but I would not be where I am today if I had adopted those words in my life as the truth. They set me on a path to healing and helping others heal because I did not take them as fact. That bad news ended up becoming an opportunity that changed my life for the better. Now 64, I have followed my unbending intention to heal for over 33 years. Because of this commitment, I continue to reap the rewards and have proved the doctors wrong. I cannot even begin to tell how much this journey has positively impacted every area of my life. Therefore, even if I had not become pain-free, it still would be a gift that keeps on giving in my life on every level.

Remember to have patience and take your time. I know when you are in pain, you want to be free from it now. So, we look for a quick fix, and then we move too fast. Or we fall into resistance. We try to ignore what is happening. We need to be honest with ourselves and face the truth of what is going on. We need to slow down. In these states, we stop listening to our intuition and divine guidance. We fail to do the proper research and make good choices. I understand that sometimes there are no other options, but you may miss something you need if you are moving too quickly. Be open to opportunities that may come in unexpected ways. And expect them to come! If you do not look for opportunities, how will you find them?

Remember that whatever is happening is happening, whether you like it or not. As hard as that may be to hear, feel or experience, it is the truth of your life. And when we face the truth of the moment, grace steps in and supports us. Life unfolds in new and different ways. Ways that we could not see before and we can experience joy and peace again in our life. Even when our desires are not fulfilled, we can still be happy and loving.

Transactional or Transformational Living

We all live a transactional life to some degree. But many never go any further; they never explore real transformation.

What exactly is a transactional life? It means, on some level, there is an expectation of getting something in return for our efforts. This is often a conditioned response, and therefore we all experience it to varying degrees. For example, I do a job for you, and I expect to be paid. The example I just gave is part of our everyday work life, but there are other situations where things are not always that clear. They can end up being one-sided, which can lead to problems for anyone that has unmet expectations. For example, I do something nice for you. I then expect to be thanked. If I am not thanked, then I can feel hurt or become upset.

The following are examples of questions you might want to explore. Let them stimulate your own questions. Does the above example warrant my state being disturbed? Can I control my response in any situation where my expectations are not met? Do I have to have expectations in every exchange?

In a transactional life, the world is no bigger than we can see or feel. Living a transactional life is the easy way. It does not require anything extra, only what we are willing to give at any moment to get what we want. However, living this way brings pain and suffering. This is because when we do not get what we are expecting, life seems unfair. We feel cheated by life, and then we can feel that life owes us because we have suffered. Even if our lives do not fall to this level, we can become trapped in a transactional life and still feel that our life is okay, but have a sense that something is missing. That there must be more to life.

I want to speak to anyone who has this calling to something more significant in their life. Perhaps you have just reached a point in your life where something must change; you just cannot take it anymore. Or maybe you feel something that words alone cannot seem to describe, but a deep soulful yearning persists. Perhaps it feels like God is calling you. Maybe you do not know what is calling you, just that something is. We may describe this call differently, yet we know it must be answered when we hear it, or more suffering and melancholy comes.

The calling rises from somewhere deep within; however, it is often overlooked. We become lost in routine and repetition. Others become lost in their pain and caught by thought, making it easy not to hear this calling. Eventually, though, they cannot deny it; however, some will resist until their last breath.

The mind often steps in to offer direction through thought. However, if you pay attention to these thoughts, you will find that they are not as helpful as they seem. Many have traveled the religious or spiritual path for decades, making changes yes, but never reaching their desired destination or expected goal.

If we begin to question our thoughts, we can eventually see what is truthful and false. We can wake up to hearing the mind’s misguiding ways and realize that we do not have to identify with any thought. That this is just a habit, but it can be a choice.

Now, how many of us live a transformational life? A transformational life does not require money, notoriety, or anything the mind may think. It only requires the willing, those that feel a calling for something more to life and can no longer resist that call. A person who lives a transformational life uses their pain and problems for their highest good. With awareness and discernment, they use their thoughts, pain, and problems to awaken to their true nature. Remember when you are curious, you learn, but when you are desperate, you discover. Learning is limited, but discovery, is life-changing.

Therefore, I encourage you to begin to awaken to your true self. Take the time to notice where your life functions as a transactional life and question it. Use the following to get you started. Notice, would you be disappointed if your expectations were not met in any given situation? Is what I am expecting to get reasonable or selfish? Is there a need to have this expectation?

You will never regret beginning to question your thoughts and expectations because a transactional life without awareness will always lead to suffering. A life with awareness and transformation will always lead to more joy. Yes, there will still be transactions, but you will be doing them with awareness, which changes everything.

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.

Experiencing God

You will never find God by looking out into the world or through the path of knowledge. It is not a matter for the mind. You will never find God thinking that you will only meet him, her, or it after you die. Know too that God does not have human characteristics in its natural state. It cannot be described by words it can only be experienced. Furthermore, you do not have to wait until you die to have this experience.

As long as you attach to personhood and your senses, you will be tricked by the mind and your thoughts, making this experience an elusive one. The mind is a master of distraction. Do you already know this fact?

The world is held captive, not by bad people, but by misguided thinking. However, you do not have to stay hostage to this habitual thinking. You can break free when you want and do not let your thoughts tell you otherwise.

Remember, that many of the beliefs and thoughts that arise in the mind have been instilled in you from a very young age. Therefore, know that it may take some practice to be free. Nevertheless, you cannot fail, because how can you fail to become who you already are, you only need to remember this by experiencing your real nature once again.

In your heart, you know the truth. Take some time to be quiet, drop down from the mind and into the heart of God. I assure you that as long as you do not pick up your thoughts and walk away again, you will remember your real nature.

Keep this as a reminder, you will never find God through your thoughts.

Become the observer of the mind, and retire as its playmate. Use it when you need to, but do not let it continue to use you as it has for so many years. Once you do, the experience of God will find you, because God is not separate from you, and has not forsaken you.

The only thing that separates you from God is a thought and your belief in that thought.

Short and Sweet #56 – Irritation

Most of us have experienced irritation for one reason or another in our life. This irritation is a clue about our unconscious programming. Remember, everything that irritates us can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves. When we watch our reactions, responses, feelings, and thoughts about other people and events, we are given an opportunity to make a shift in our field of awareness. This shift allows us to let go of our unconscious programming, which releases the behaviors that no longer serve us.

First, make a decision that this is your intention, then begin to notice each time you become irritated. Sometimes you may not see your irritation until after the fact, and that is OK. The important thing is the recognition of the irritation, not when you notice it. As you continue this practice, you will eventually feel or hear your irritation right when it happens.

Irritation will make itself known to you through your thoughts, a feeling or a sensation in your body. Once you become aware, notice or remember what was said or happened to make you irritated.

Remember this exercise is not about beating yourself up because of your behavior, you are already doing this each time you get irritated. Irritation throws your body into an uncomfortable state, changing your mood, blood pressure, heart rate, and many other physiological changes occur. This is about letting go, just notice, reset your intention to notice your next irritation and move on. Over time, you will let go of the energetic pattern (behavior), and your True Self will rise to the surface leaving you more relaxed and peaceful.

Original post 3-26-2014 edited and reposted 12-10-2018