Thursday, June 26, 2008

Suffering is Joy

What most of us identify as suffering is actually resistance to suffering.

That is to say, you have a concept of what the pain or worst-case scenario is going to be like, and then live in anticipation or anxiety of it. Our minds create meaning, reasons, and back-story for the problem. We find culprits to blame, circumstances by which we are trapped, and rationalizations about the turn our lives have taken. Over time, those ideas become so closely associated with the actual sensation of pain or suffering that we think we are suffering, when we are actually thinking about suffering.

To help sustain that illusion of suffering, our bodies distort into a specific shape, tone, and posture. No emotion or situation can be maintained by thought alone. The experience persists because you learn to "do" the sensations and strategies that create that feeling. How do we "do" a state of mind or experience? Our nervous system runs specific pathways, our large and small muscles fire, and we move our breath and energy in particular patterns. So it feels like we're suffering, but really we are doing the emotions we have about suffering.

This is not to say that true suffering is easy, comfortable, or without significant charge. On the contrary, every experience of our authentic self is rich with sensation, emotion, and thought. But the nature of this richness is quite different from that of resisting, thinking, or doing suffering. When you allow the suffering, you free yourself from it, and from the fear and stories about it. True suffering, when fully experienced, is joy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not Settling for Perfect

It's my belief that most of the time, most people try to do their best. For some, it is a constant struggle for perfection. That is to say, their best is never quite good enough or their effort is never quite acknowledged (for themselves) as the best they could do. And at the other end of the spectrum are those for whom the results of doing their best do not match the intended outcome--something like, "I did everything I could and it still didn't turn out right," or "I'm doing everything I'm supposed to, but this problem happened anyway."

I have personally hung out in each of these camps and at various places in between, and what I am starting to understand is that all along that continuum is the opportunity to not just do our best, but also be at our best--that is, to be happy and fulfilled and knowing inside that we're moving in the right direction. And you take that opportunity by feeling good about your efforts and your outcomes whatever they are, and by accepting that they are exactly perfect for where you are in your journey. I know that internally there is clamoring from either end of the spectrum about not wanting to settle for less than what is actually desired, or about becoming complacent and not working for self-improvement. But the truth is that it is not only possible, but it is crucial to be simultaneously completely satisfied with what is, and always wanting and asking more for and of yourself.

Many contemporary philosophers, teachers, and coaches say that in order to have a thing, you must first be the thing you want so that you will do the things that can bring you what you've wanted to have. Or to quote the philosophy more succinctly, "In life, you do not have to do anything. It's all a question of what you are being."

While I understand the idea and agree with the vibrational Law of Attraction (where that which unto itself is similar, is irrepressibly drawn), I don't agree that you don't have to do anything. I believe that in order to be anything, you must start to do things because it is only in action that our bodies and nervous systems continually learn to move past what's comfortable to achieve and sustain true happiness. It is only through embodied experience that we can actually be what we want, much less have what we want.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Celebrate the Puffballs of the World

I had the tremendous pleasure of viewing this 22 minute film by Dewitt Jones, called "Celebrate What's Right with the World." Mr. Jones is a photographer who worked for the National Geographic, and describes how the vision and mission of that magazine helped to shape his life. Whether there are dandelions or puffballs (you'll have to watch it!), he gives us insight into the power of our perspective to shape our beliefs and ultimately our experience of reality.

I highly recommend taking the time for these beautiful images and important message of transformation and wellness. And please, post your comments and thoughts to share!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's All About You

What's beautiful about relationships is the way they take you to the next level in yourself. Those of us on the road to self-realization and self-actualization often become experts at managing ourselves. We get to a point where we know our idiosyncracies--what bugs us, how we like our environment to be, where we are at in any given moment, when and how to move in response to stress so that we continue to feel balanced. We get really good at flying solo.

And as with all things, we want more (whether we know we're asking or not) and the universe wants and creates more for us. Relationship, and especially intimate relationship, is your ticket to the next level of mastering your life. Whether you are engaged in the beginning, middle, or ending of a relationship, whether you are in the midst of cultivation, negotiation, or hospice work in relationship, the gifts are of, about, and for yourself. That is the magic and the mayhem of bringing your whole self to bear with someone else. It's all about you from start to finish. She or he is there to help you see yourself better, no matter the awareness or intention of their participation in the process. And though most of us lose our way and focus in some form, blaming and looking outside ourselves at the other person's faults and challenges, the purpose of relationship truly is to discover and transform what's inside us.

All this is not to say that the other person is irrelevant, or merely an object to your subject. Rather, it is my opinion that there are layers and perspectives and flavors of ourselves that we can only know as part of something greater than ourselves. And relationships are often the most immediate and provoking experiences you can have to feel ever deeper the truth and light within you.