Dealing with Life’s Circumstances and The Power of Intention

Standard

“The greatest difficulty is the mental resistance to things that arise, and the underlying assumption that they should not.”

This perfect reminder from Eckhart Tolle was waiting for me in my email today.

cc201ca2df2ec33ea4b5c4dbde7e598a

I have difficulties just like anyone else.  Life allows circumstances to arise that are out of my control.  I then have thoughts about these circumstances that imply the circumstances shouldn’t be happening.  My mental resistance to the events in my life creates suffering for myself.

I wish I responded to every situation perfectly.  I wish I thought more, reacted less; loved more, hated less; accepted more, and rejected less.  But to my surprise, I am human.  I am perfectly imperfect.

So are you!

I love my perfectly imperfect self.  I accept the beauty that are my flaws.  You may know me well and assume I need to change.  Thank you for caring.  I know I am continuously moving towards a better version of myself every day.

How can I know the current circumstance that is happening in my life should be happening?  Because it is.  I will put a smile on my face and accept what arises one circumstance at a time.  I will do the best I can in each moment. And the moments I don’t do my best I will learn from them.

Accepting my current circumstance doesn’t mean I sit and do nothing.  Acceptance is not resignation or ignorance.  Acceptance is being fully aware of my present moment and taking action from that fully aware place.

I consider myself extremely fortunate for many reasons.  One reason is because I have been writing and journaling for years.  I have the fortunate ability to go back in time and read what I was thinking last month, last year, or even many years ago.  I am able to truly grasp just how far I’ve come by reading my old journals.  I have concrete evidence that I am a part of a larger story and my life is mysteriously flowing forward.  I am also fortunate because I have a deep knowing that circumstances that arise in my life are opportunities for healing and growth.

Recently, while typing one of my old journals into the computer, I came across an old intention I set for myself.  I’m a huge believer in intentions.  We will never achieve anything of value in life unless we first set the intention for ourselves.  Anyway, several years ago I set the intention to be a lifelong learner.  And then as a follow-up to that I set the intention that I would share with the world what I am learning.  In big bold cursive writing in my journal are these words: I will always learn and grow and then share what I have learned.  Since setting that intention I have over 60 blog posts and dozens of full journals to bear witness to the power of intention.  Nothing of importance in my life will come to fruition if I don’t first set the intention.  Once the intention is set, it serves as a magnet or a vortex pulling my life forward.  It seems too easy but have you tried it in your own life?

Do you want to be in a happy, healthy, loving relationship? Set that as your intention.

Do you want healing from past wounds? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to read more books that transform your mind? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to make healthier choices with food?  Set that as your intention.

Do you want to be a world-renown author? Set that as your intention.

Do you want to create beautiful art that speaks to the hearts of millions? Set that as your intention.

Am I making my point? Anything of significance you desire in life must first be an actual intention otherwise it’s only a wish.  And we all know if we wish in one hand what’s in the other.  (if you don’t know what’s in the other hand I’ll explain it to you privately) 🙂

wp-1450051929623.jpg

My intention is to always learn and grow and then share what I am learning with the world.

What is your intention?

One thing I’m learning today is to accept my current circumstances and to trust that everything will be perfect no matter what.  Instead of resisting circumstances as they arise, I will attempt to be fully aware and present.

What are you learning today?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

When Life Beats You Up!

Standard

FB_IMG_1455133742338

Sometimes life hits you upside the head and you are left defenseless.  Sometimes life takes your breath away and it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes it seems like life is piling on the trouble and you feel helpless to control anything.  It feels like you can barely make it from your bed to the shower.  The thought of even going to work makes you sick to your stomach.

What do you do when it feels like life punched you in the gut?  What do you do when it feels like you’ve been knocked off center?  What do you do when you can’t seem to regain your composure?

Do you call in sick from work or school?

Do you turn to food and overindulge?

Do you increase the alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or smoking?

Do you become easily irritable and take it out on your loved ones?

Do you turn to religion or a higher power to rescue you?

Or do you put your head down and just charge forward like any other day?

We all handle stress and drama differently.  We all have our own unique way of dealing with the pain life throws our way.  There is no right or wrong way to cope with life’s difficulties.  You deal with it the best way you know how at the time and that works for you.

I used to get stressed out a lot easier than I do now.  I used to let life’s burdens pile up like imaginary weights being added to an imaginary backpack I was carrying around.  I felt powerless to deal with whatever the newest stress was that needed to be dealt with.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very laid back guy on the outside but on the inside I constantly struggled with the newest burden life piled on.

Eventually I came to discover the power of the present moment through authors like Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Erich Fromm, Wayne Dyer, and Byron Katie.  I have been reading authors like these for several years but their message never quite sank in until I applied what Byron Katie had to say to my life.

FB_IMG_1454213440693

I never realized before that life isn’t the problem, the people around me aren’t the problem, my job isn’t the problem, or my car breaking down isn’t the problem.  Once I truly grasped the burden is never life, it’s what I’m thinking and believing about life that causes me stress, then I finally saw with open eyes the role I played in my own drama. My thoughts come and go on their own.  I’m powerless to control the thoughts that enter my mind.  But, I am able to question those thoughts and choose not to believe the ones that aren’t true for me.

I watched several videos on YouTube of Byron Katie helping people question their thoughts.  I began to see how when we let our minds run unchecked and our thoughts and beliefs unquestioned, then we allow suffering and frustration to rule our lives.  I watched in amazement how people questioned their thoughts and then released themselves from their suffering.  Byron Katie’s approach can be found on TheWork.com where she suggests every thought we have can be met with four questions in order to find peace:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react–what happens–when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Before, I felt helpless to slow the onslaught of negative thoughts once they came rushing in.  Now, as long as I take the time to question my thoughts and beliefs I can usually find my way back to peace in no time.  By peace I mean I can find my way back to the present moment (Reality).

FB_IMG_1454727273291

Anytime my mind leaves the present moment I can expect suffering.  If I go to the future in my thoughts, I can expect fear, anxiety, and worry.  If I go back into the past with my thoughts, I’m sure to be met with regret, shame, and pain.  The only way back to peace is through Reality and the Now.  If I question my thoughts and come back to the present moment, I instantly realize I don’t have any stress or drama.  The stress or drama I thought I did have actually came from my unquestioned thoughts and beliefs.

Byron Katie’s message about Reality made more sense when I came across this quote from Erich Fromm the other day:

“The average person, while he thinks he is awake, actually is half asleep.  By ‘half asleep’ I mean that his contact with reality is a very partial one; most of what he believes to be reality (outside or inside himself) is a set of fictions which his mind constructs.  The average persons’ consciousness is mainly ‘false consciousness,’ consisting of fictions and illusion, while precisely what he is not aware of is reality.”

Why have I never considered this before?  Why have I let my thoughts control my life for so many years when they were mostly fictions and illusions?  I completely related to the “half asleep” reference.  I have spent large portions of my life unaware of the reality that looked me right in the eye.

Now instead of being half asleep, I attempt to live my life fully awake and fully aware.  It has made a difference for my life internally and externally.  Now when it feels like life hits me upside the head and I’m left defenseless, it doesn’t take me near as long to come back to the present moment. I question my thoughts, find out what reality is, regain my composure and focus, then allow peace to flow back into my life.

FB_IMG_1454891433895

Trust me, life still punches me in the gut on occasion, it just doesn’t take my breath away like it used to.

How are you dealing with stress and drama in your life lately?

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Four years ago, I wrote a blog post I Have Friends that Have Relationship Issues!  It’s a pretty good one and worth sharing again.  Peace.

I Hate My Job! . . . . and . . . . Three Ideas for Awakening

Standard

As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life.  Many people feel caught up in the routines of daily living that seem to deprive their life of significance.  Some believe life is passing them by or has passed them by already.  Others feel severely restricted by the demands of their job and supporting a family or by their financial or living situation.  Some are consumed by acute stress, others by acute boredom.  Some are lost in frantic doing; other are lost in stagnation.  Many people long for the freedom and expansion that prosperity promises.  Others already enjoy the relative freedom that comes with prosperity and discover  that even that is not enough to endow their lives with meaning.  There is no substitute for finding true purpose.  But the true or primary purpose of your life cannot be found on the outer level.  It does not concern what you do but what you are–that is to say, your state of consciousness.  So the most important thing to realize is this: Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose.  Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary.  Outer purpose concerns Doing and is secondary.

Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth

Layout 1

As I read this for the first time I instantly thought back over my own life.  The concept of simply Being without doing seemed foreign and uncomfortable.  I had to be doing something in order to feel good about myself.  I had to:

Get the girl

Pass the test

Make the basket

Get the job

Have the children

Build the house

Buy the car

Watch the show

Cheer for the team

Attend the service

Get the degree

Mow the lawn

Secure the loan

Work the overtime

Make the sale

Tell the funny joke

and God knows do everything else under the sun.

All my activities weren’t bad in-and-of themselves–I still do many of the same activities now.  But I turned to these Outer purpose activities as a means to gain Inner purpose.  As you can imagine, it never worked.  I constantly had my thinking backwards.  I thought I could do, do, do and that would lead to Being.  I let my mind run my life and struggled to ever find any balance or satisfaction.

“Your inner purpose is to awaken.  It is as simple as that.” Tolle goes on, “You share that purpose with every other person on the planet–because it is the purpose of humanity.  Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence.”  When you first hear that, it doesn’t feel right so you disregard it.  At least I did.

“It certainly cannot be that easy, can it?”

“All I have to do is awaken?”

“If I awaken and that is my inner purpose, how can that change my life or the world in any way?”

“I am awake!”

Your mind is probably going in a thousand different directions as to why this can’t be true and your ego is certain to protect your standard mode of operation you’ve been living with for so long.

Spinoza said Joy is man’s passage from a lesser to a greater perfection and Sorrow is man’s passage from a greater to a less perfection.  In his book, To Have or To Be, Erich Fromm explains it like this: “Joy, then, is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming ourself.”  Or, to put it another way, Joy is the result of seeking your inner purpose of awakening.

I have struggled off and on for years not being satisfied with my job.  On many occasions I nearly made the decision to quit and pursue a vocation more suited to my gifts and talents.  I’m sure if I did quit I would have been just fine finding a different way to make money.  But thankfully I didn’t quit my job.  I say thankfully because if I quit, I may not have learned the lesson that my inner purpose is to awaken.  When I made my job responsible for satisfying my inner purpose, I felt frustrated, lacking, and unfulfilled.  But once I realized my job was my outer purpose and my inner purpose was up to me to fulfill, then I could go about my business of awakening on my own time separate from my job.

The process of awakening is a slow and ever-evolving process.  I spent many years in therapy and began to dissect my thought processes one at a time.  I walked away from my comfort zones in order to intentionally weed out any beliefs that didn’t serve my inner purpose.  Rather than blaming my upbringing, or other people, or circumstances beyond my control, I found greater purpose in focusing on my reactions to things.  I’m a fairly laid back person anyway, but for me, learning to simply be, instead of react, turned out to be my best response.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was an expert at figuring out what was expected of me and giving people what they wanted, but I did not always acknowledge what it was that I wanted.  With every fruitless search for external gratification, I lost touch of my own intrinsic happiness until I finally set my sights on my inner purpose.

Awakening doesn’t mean that I have “arrived” and I’m somehow superior to those not considered awakened.  Awakening, to me, simply means I show up every day–I listen when spoken to, I strive for awareness in each moment, and I’m open to the mysterious flow of our existence here.  Awakening means I bring my true self to every encounter instead of relying on my alienated self or one of many false selves.  By being real, I am free to grow.  Awakening means I let go of my regrets, shame, guilt, and accusations and instead I accept what will be will be.  I attempt to let go of my attachment to any outcome and find joy in any circumstance.

Interestingly enough, as I turned my focus on my inner purpose of awakening, my outer purpose shifted into alignment with my inner purpose.  Instead of hating my job, I actually began to enjoy myself there.  I found purpose and contentment in an environment where bitterness and begrudging once resided. The joy that I experienced in my early-morning writing and meditation snuck into my lunch pail and accompanied me throughout the day.  The constant wrestling with ideas in my mind while I was at work shielded me from the petty gossip and never-ending drama that unfolds there.  Some days I added fuel to the fire just for shits and giggles but I could easily detach myself from taking any of the drama too seriously or too personal.

This whole idea of awakening may seem foreign to you.  If it does we could talk about it if you’d like.  Otherwise, here’s three ideas for your own awakening:

  1. Consider the difference between your inner purpose and your outer purpose.  In what ways have you been unjustly making your outer purpose be responsible for your inner purpose?  It wasn’t until I realized the importance of my inner purpose that I began to give it the attention it deserved.  Let go of the idea of awakening as only a Buddhist reference.  Awakening, Being, Presence, Aliveness, True Self, etc. are all deeply spiritual references and can be applied to any religious preference.
  2. Consider the different ways you stay distracted.  Instead of turning to your phone, TV, or novel reading, open up a pad of paper and write down your thoughts.  Journal about your uneasiness or discomfort of sitting still with yourself.  Is there too much pain your hiding so you don’t want to be alone with yourself?  Putting your ideas and feelings on paper where they can be wrestled with is a wonderful step towards healing and awakening.
  3. Consider a regular practice of meditating.  Meditation was difficult for me at first.  I could only start with five minutes without going crazy.  Eventually I grew to love that quiet time where I completely shut off my mind and focused on nothing by the air that filled my lungs and diaphragm, and then on that same life-giving air as it left my body.  You don’t have to sit a certain way with your hands in a special pose; just get comfortable, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing while everything else melts away.  As your mind shoots a million different thoughts at you, simply see the thought and let it go the way you would see a butterfly land on your knee and then let it fly away.  Don’t judge yourself for having too many thoughts–especially at first–because the mind is very difficult to silence until you get comfortable with it.

As always, any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to comment, call, or email.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

Like a Cat Watching a Mouse Hole

Standard

I had to laugh. The other day I was reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and on page 93 he was talking about the state of presence. I thought I could pull one over on him. He said, “You can’t think about presence, and the mind can’t understand it. Understanding presence is being present.”

“Try a little experiment. Close your eyes and say to yourself: ‘I wonder what my next thought is going to be.’ Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole. Try it now.”

With a grin on my face and a determination to prove Mr. Tolle wrong I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and like a cat I watched the mouse hole in my mind for my next thought. To my dismay, the hole stayed empty. Twenty seconds, thirty, finally a minute or so had elapsed without a thought so I opened my eyes, turned the page and read on.

I had to wait for quite a long time before a thought came in.

“Exactly. As long as you are in a state of intense presence, you are free of thought. You are still, yet highly alert. The instant your conscious attention sinks below a certain level, thought rushes in. The mental noise returns; the stillness is lost. You are back in time.”

Okay. He got me. My ego so badly wanted to prove the author wrong. I sat there grinning and read on.

“To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.”

Wow! I’ve been white water rafting before so I understand the power of a wild river. Thinking about that experience, those of us in the raft attempted to guide it one way or another but for the most part, we were simply along for the ride. Incredible momentum is an understatement!

So I had to wonder, how many times do I let my mind take over and gain so much momentum that I’m simply drug along for the ride? Honestly, more often than I care to admit.

What about you? Did you try the experiment I mentioned above? How often do you stay present? Or, does your mind drag you along like a wild river?

Happy Sunday!!

Travis

PS. I’ve been working on my What Women Want blog post and there is simply more information than I can fit in one post. I decided I would break it up into smaller posts so be watching for those. Peace.