3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re in an Argument With Someone You Love

Standard

We all have them from time to time. Arguments with someone we love are inevitable and quite honestly just a fact of life.

In the aftermath of a recent argument with my wife (yes, even I argue), I couldn’t help but wonder how we got off track. Initially I replayed the argument over and over in my mind and discovered my ego was quick to point out all the ways she was wrong. Knowing just how clever my ego is, I decided to dig a little deeper and focus only on myself. I wasn’t allowed to entertain any thought about my wife’s involvement in the argument.

What I found was startling. Most times when we argue with the ones we love, there’s so much more going on than what we’re arguing about. As a result, I came up with 3 questions to ask myself in the heat of the moment to help me stay on track and hopefully minimize my portion of adding fuel to the fire. They have been helping so I decided to share in hopes that they will help you as well.

A Special Note to the Men

1. Are you staying in the present moment?

It’s so easy to be anywhere else in the world other than where we are. In the blink of an eye our brain can take us back to a childhood memory of a time when we were wronged. Our brain connects the dots between the past trauma and the current argument and then cues our ego to fight to the death. In an attempt to protect ourselves as adults in a way we were incapable of doing as a child, we see this current argument as a win-at-all-cost endeavor.

Another way we leave the present moment in an argument is by charging into the future. Our brains are so clever! In just a millisecond our brain can give us twenty different catastrophic scenarios that could happen in the future if we lose this argument with the one we love. We go from a simple conversation to the-stakes-are-high in 1.3 seconds.

I wondered if there could be a different approach. Instead of allowing my brain to run wild, what if I corralled my thoughts back to the present moment in the same manner a rancher brings his cattle back to the homestead. Once he gets a few cattle headed in the right direction the rest of the cattle follow suit.

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, if I ask myself, “Are you staying in the present moment?” then I’m able to corral my thoughts and save myself from unnecessary drama.

20120319-202535.jpg

2. Are you clear about what you’re mad at?

Most of the time, the ones we love are just our trigger. We can be upset about something that happened at work, worried about an upcoming bill, or mad about something our sibling said. We can already be agitated about anything else in the world, but when the person we love says or does something we don’t like it’s GAME ON.

Aristotle once said, “Anybody can become angry–that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way–that is not easy.”

It’s so instinctual to lash out at the ones I love when I’m upset about something. But in all fairness, that isn’t their fault. Becoming clear about what I’m really upset about saves everyone around me from any unnecessary arguments.

The people we love serve as our mirror and they often times show us parts of ourselves we don’t want to see. Pay attention to what they say because we all have blind spots and sometimes their loving suggestions keep us from looking foolish. As the old saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

20120319-203946.jpg

3. Am I in my own business?

I recently read in a Byron Katie book that there’s my business, your business, and God’s business. Anytime I’m in your business or God’s business I create hell for myself and those around me. But if I stay in my own business then I’m able to find peace and love for myself.

We don’t say it out loud, but deep down we think we know what’s best for other people–especially the ones we love. Have you noticed we tend to think we’re experts when it comes to everyone else?

When I’m in an argument with someone I love, it’s so easy to leave my own business and worry about their business. Before I know it, the argument balloons into something so much bigger than is necessary. Staying in my own business means my attention and energy stays squarely where it belongs–on myself.

20120319-202837.jpg

In conclusion, the person you love won’t say or do everything perfect–not nearly as perfect as you say or do (sarcasm added)–and arguments are unavoidable. Arguments don’t have to be wasted, however. Believe it or not, the person you love is on your side just like you are on their side if they were in a fight with a stranger. Next time you find yourself in an argument with someone you love, ask yourself these 3 simple questions. You may learn something about yourself and you may preserve a precious relationship as a result.

Best of luck to you!

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

PS. Feel free to share if someone you know needs to read this. 🙂

As the Sun Sinks. . . .

Standard

Screenshot_2016-01-28-10-43-26-1

Our property we are blessed to call home is surrounded by water.  The beautiful Portage River flows along the entire east and south sides while a small creek flows into the river on the west end of the property.  A pond we dug while our house was being built sits a couple hundred yards out our front door.

2016-03-07 08.55.34

The sun peaks through the trees in the morning warming our hearts and home with its reminder of a glorious new day.

IMG_20160304_073742

Screenshot_2016-03-08-18-54-22

In the evening the sun sets over the pond and open field on the other side of the creek.

image-9df0ae6ad74c000501f8f05c7b6e9baa212da1d541ae10bd0c7c063fce45e246-V

Nearly every night is a spectacular reminder of this amazing life we are here to enjoy.

photo 2(5)

photo 1(3)

photo 3(3)

photo 5(1)

As the sun sinks below the horizon, I shift my gaze inside our house.

Screenshot_2015-10-17-18-59-13

The beautiful souls I share this space with teach me more about love and life than I could ever learn from a million books.  My heart fills with all the beauty outside our house; but my heart overflows with joy and wonder when I share the present moment with my family.

wpid-2014-04-15-18.58.09.jpg.jpeg

I could lose every material possession this world offers, but my family will always be the music that makes my heart sing.

screenshot_2015-12-19-15-43-15.png

Some days are cloudy, but if you choose to look hard enough you will find the sun amongst the clouds.

photo 5(2)

In closing, I would like to share a passage of The Beloved from Kahlil Gibran. It speaks to my love of words and why I long for you to be comfortable with your humanness:

“When secrets straiten the heart, when eyes are made raw by hot tears, and ribs nearly crack from the swelling of what is hidden in the breast, man can find no comfort but in words and complaint.  Sorrow, my friend, is eased by complaint.  The lover finds solace in words of longing.  The oppressed finds pleasure in seeking mercy . . . So I write to you.  I have become like the poet who sees beauty and who records, compelled by the power of his divine nature, the impressions of that beauty in verse.  I am like the poor and hungry child who, driven by the bite of his hunger, pleads with his mother for succor, unmindful of her poverty and destitution.”

image-fe9c1218ed5e4098482c594d8d69482bb2b017d057ed6c7113697d478df5cc73-V

No matter where you’re at in life, please know you are surrounded by beauty and love!!

 

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.

They Hurt Me!

Standard

We all have our reasons to not like certain people.

They wronged us.

They hurt us.

They are prejudiced, rude, bigoted, selfish, evil, etc.  The list could go on forever and ever.  We see the “other”–the outside–as a reason not to Love.

We are so crafty at this.  Just the thought of merely suggesting that maybe it starts with you has you already forming an argument in your head justifying your actions.

dalai-tolerance

Let me offer an alternative.

You are Love. You came into existence as a being of Love.  You know no different.  You were Love, you were Life, and you were connected to everything else in the Universe as Love and Life. Along the way you began to believe the lies your loved ones told you about the world.  You began to believe you were not Love and not Life.  You believed that you were somehow separate or lacking in some way.

Your loved ones didn’t lie to you on purpose.  They simply believed the lies their loved ones taught them.  And so it goes.  We are a species with an identity crisis.  We have forgotten who we are.  We have forgotten that we are all Love, we are all Life, and we are all connected.

You may say I’m crazy but humor me and follow this through…..

Pick a person you really don’t care for very much, someone who has upset you recently.  Now consider all the thoughts or words you used against that person telling them all the ways they are wrong:

“They shouldn’t have done that!”

“They should know better!”

“They hurt me on purpose!”

“They are so controlling, manipulative, and disgraceful!”

Every thought or word you have about the other person that is not Love or Life or Unity or Source is a lie you are choosing to believe.

Let’s forget about the other person for a minute and pretend there’s only you.  You are Love.  You are Life. You are Perfection; you always have been and always will be.  If you could just grasp that, all your problems would simply disappear.  You see, the problem is not outside of you.  The problem–until you choose to realize it–is inside your head.  The thoughts you choose to believe as true separate you from Love, Life, Reality.

You have glimpses……..

You believe it for a split second………

You are Love, you are Life, you are Perfect………

It’s beautiful, it’s pure Heaven for just as long as you can stand it until the next untrue thought enters your mind and you choose to believe it.

de1741fb315e43123a7d3c8eb2e2aa5d

Your problem is not external.  Your problem is internal.  You think an untrue thought and then you believe it.  Instead of questioning whether the thought is true or not, you believe it and then ride the wave of your own personal hell.

How do you go about knowing if a thought is true or not? First, you have to know deep in your bones that you are Love and that you are Life.  Then, when you fully grasp you are Love, you hold the thought up to the light of your Love and see if it’s true.

You lack nothing.  In this very moment you are Perfect.  Any thought that doesn’t reflect that is an untrue thought and is sure to create suffering for you if you choose to believe it.

When you fully grasp just how amazing you are, you will see what I mean that it’s all internal.  Let’s suppose you’re a waitress and a rude customer just called you a very bad name because his order was different than what he wanted.  Your response has nothing to do with the angry customer.  Your response has everything to do with your own personal thoughts.  You will no doubt have thoughts–that’s the beauty of living in this world, we’ll always have plenty of chances to question our thoughts.

You may start to defend yourself to this rude customer.  You may not believe you are Love and you are Perfect so you start to grab hold of the lies that are now turning into an avalanche of thoughts inside your head.  If you’re unaware, you will blame this rude customer for all your terrible thoughts and for ruining your night.  You will obsess about all the things you want to say to him and your internal dialogue with him goes on for hours or maybe even days.

“How dare he……”

Let’s consider another approach.  You are Love.  You are Perfect.  His order gets messed up, he’s rude, he says mean things to you.  You walk away and the thoughts come pouring in just the same.  Any thought that is not true causes you great delight.  You even laugh out loud because one of your thoughts tries to convince you that you’re less than Perfection.  Instead of being mad at the rude customer, you have empathy for him.

“Poor guy.  He must be confused.  He must not know I am Love, I am Life, and I am Perfect.  He’s believing thoughts that are untrue and he’s suffering because of it.  I wonder if I could help him see that he is Perfection, too?”

We all have our reasons to not like certain people.

They wronged us.

They hurt us.

You see, the problem is not outside of you.  The problem–until you choose to realize it–is inside your head.

Is it possible for you to truly grasp just how amazing you are?

 

Peace my friends!

 

~Travis

 

Speaking Up, Steve Jobs, and My Role

Standard

There have been so many crazy—crazy in a good way—thoughts running through my mind lately.  It seems impossible to categorize them all. I’ve been having so many conversations with people about different topics; and yet, all these topics center on one subject. Whether I’m talking about food and diet, farming, television, politics, my corporate job, or church and religion; the topic undoubtedly comes back to frustration with the way America has progressed.

All you have to do is scroll through Facebook for five minutes and you’ll see countless posts about how America is progressing in a way that neither side is happy about.  Have you been a part of progression and felt deep in your gut it wasn’t really progress?

facebook_1444086352825

Maybe you felt like you should say something but nobody else spoke up so you kept your mouth shut. That reminds me of when I was in school. I was hyper-sensitive about being the only kid that didn’t understand the assignment so instead of raising my hand and asking the teacher to explain it again, I would sit in silence and look around at my peers like I knew exactly what was expected. It wasn’t until my late 20s and 30s that I realized what made the smart kids smart. They asked questions. They were engaged in the topic. They immersed themselves in the process of learning. So what if the rest of the class thought they were stupid, they wanted to get it right and they knew several other kids would benefit from their questions. By admitting they didn’t have all the answers they were moldable and able to learn from their teachers.

I began to wonder about the way we learn as adults and I realized many of us still have that same fear of raising our hands or opening our mouths. When injustice is witnessed we keep our mouths shut because we don’t want to be the one that spoke up. When our kids demand cereal or cookies and milk for breakfast we oblige them because that’s the way we were raised. “It’s obviously good for them because it says there are lots of vitamins and minerals right on the front of the box. And kids need calcium so they have to drink plenty of milk to grow up big and strong.” If our kids demanded cocaine and a shot of whiskey before running out the door to catch the bus we might be concerned; but why are we not concerned when the cereal, cookies, and milk have the exact same effects on their brains as the cocaine and whiskey would?

Could

It

Be

That

We

Have

Been

Lied

To?

It’s understandable to assume we are making our own minds up about decisions that we make. We feel confident in our ability to choose what shirt to wear and what socks to put on. These are decisions that we make and nobody controls that. We plan ahead when we grocery shop and have discussions as a family about what meals we can expect to prepare throughout the upcoming week. “The kids have games Tuesday and Friday night so we need to have some easy-prep meals those nights.” We run through fast-food because it seems more convenient in the moment completely ignoring the long term effects these food-like substances are having on our brains and bodies.

We sit in big houses mostly empty, communicate with our loved ones from separate rooms via text, and smile at the comfortable stranger while passing in the hallway. We say we love each other because that’s what families do when in reality our actions prove otherwise. I remember a time when our family got together with other families all the time. Our social lives were lived in community having ongoing relationships with different people almost every night of the week. A lot of that has been lost in the busyness and chaos of our current situation.

When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way that it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world and try not to bash into the walls too much. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: And that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is just there and you’re just going to live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it, and once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.

The words you read above were quoted from the movie Jobs—a portrayal of the life of Steven Paul Jobs. I must admit, even though I use an iPhone and my children have nearly every gadget Apple has invented in their lifetime, I didn’t know much about Steve Jobs. I heard about his Type A personality and his passion to change the world and compete against the giants of IBM and Microsoft. A friend of mine who read his biography told me about some of the crazier things Jobs did that made him infamous.

The quote above struck me because most of my life I felt as though I was told what to think. “Input, Output, what goes in is what comes out. Input, Output, that is what it’s all about” All these years later I still hear the words from Psalty the Singing Songbook. Eventually I learned that if you’re in the business of training parrots then the Input, Output method works marvelous; but in the case of raising children we owe it to them to teach them how to think instead of what to think.

creative-writing-retreat-may-2011-060

Imagine what our children could accomplish if they were told life has no limits and truly grasped that concept!?! Half the battle of growing up was simply figuring out how to assimilate with the world around us. Once we figured out how to assimilate it felt too exhausting to tackle the bigger questions of why things were the way they were. Just passing my Social Studies test and finishing my Science lab were stressful enough. The history behind the world’s currencies, the motives for world dominance through geographical pillaging, the creation of thousands of religions, the reasons behind our current calendar; these were all issues I never knew existed. I simply assumed life was always like this. Once I wrapped my mind around the fact that humans created the world we are currently living in astounded me. Every single decision for the way the world is run today was made by a human who said it should be done that way.

Sometimes an error humans make is assuming their findings about truth and wisdom is true for everyone. Instead of unity, this grave mistake does nothing but divide. If you discover truth for yourself and want to share it with the world, that’s wonderful. Some people might hear of your truth and agree with you. But don’t impose your truth on the rest of the world as the only version of truth. Even someone that experienced the exact same truths as you might interpret them differently and find different meanings as a result of the same truths. When you attempt to force your truth on others, the original truth that was intended for your growth becomes distorted. When you force your truth onto others, you have closed yourself off from learning more truth. You hold tightly to your truth as a possession. Instead of an orientation of truth as being, you choose an orientation of having. Being is limitless and ever-flowing. Having is limited and numbered. An orientation of having leads to wars, church splits, divorces, and all kinds of human suffering.

No matter what your position in life, there will always be people who desire nothing more than to tell you what to thinkThere’s a certain assurance that comes with numbers. By that I mean the more people we can get to think like us, the more right we feel about our position. We naturally attempt to align ourselves with people that agree with us.  But Steve Jobs salutes the ones who dare to be different:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.


My Role

My role on this earth has eluded me for years. I have heard whispers. I have seen glimpses. I have felt breezes on rare occasions. It didn’t elude me because it wasn’t reaching out to me. It eluded me because I was deaf to its rise. I was blind to its waving hands. And I was numb to its ferocious winds. For years I was buried in my own drama. I couldn’t possibly begin to help someone else when I was incapable of helping myself. Little did I know, by putting my health first, by focusing on the here and now, I have an impact on others.

My day-to-day routine is anchored in my ability to be aware. My relationships are affected by my presence—with them and with myself.

My role on this earth has eluded me because for so long I felt I wasn’t worthy of speaking my message. It eluded me because I allowed my mind to be drug along as if in a wild river without even a passing thought about the present moment. I was always living either in some far-off distant future; or I was stuck in some drama of the past. Little did I know the power of the present moment! Little did I know that a great life is accumulated by ferociously staying present in the NOW! The only real peace in life is found in the now! By being present, by being aware, by being who I am; in this very moment, I create peace, joy, and contentment.

I have discovered my role on this earth is to learn and write what I have learned. As a writer, I will devote the time I have left on this earth to learning and writing. As long as I never forget my role — learning and writing about what I learned — then I can count on many fulfilled years in my future.

I need not worry about my brand, i.e. not worry about the topic, I need not worry about the audience, I need not worry about praise, publicity, or publication. I do need to focus. I need to focus every minute on showing up. I need to show up every second in the moment. Live in the now! By living in the now, I write from a place that all wisdom is stored. Whenever true beauty is shared with the world, it originated from the Now. When I read words that penetrate straight to my soul, those words were born in the Now. The present moment holds all beauty and wisdom in her hands. As a saint doles out food to the hungry, the Now awaits with full hands to distribute wisdom to those the seek her.

man writing a contract

In this moment life is exactly as it should be. I lack nothing. I want for nothing. I have a better life than countless kings throughout history who could have used their power and riches to have anything they wanted. I am truly blessed and truly thankful! Why the universe chose to bestow life upon me is a mystery but I won’t leave here disappointed! I will learn and write, learn and write, learn and write.

The first half of my life was spent learning. Learning how to be in this world, learning how to survive in this world, learning proper etiquette and how to navigate. Now, as I am nearly halfway through my journey on this large rock, I am prepared to share what I have learned.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

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

What Women Want: A Side Note.

Standard

100_0615

Apparently this whole “What Women Want” thing has been on my mind for quite some time.  While going through some old files on the computer I came across this pic I took in 2007.

It reminded me I need to continue my series and expand on this topic.

I trust you are having a fantastic week!

~Travis