A lot of commercials on TV this time of year talk about how to relieve “holiday stress.” Stress is a symptom of a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment.
Have you gone too far ahead into future thoughts, or slipped backwards into thoughts of the past?
The dysfunction that manifests as stress may be a sign that the present moment has become a means to an end, as Tolle often points out in A New Earth. This can happen easily when the present moment contains planning, cooking, organizing, and preparing for an event that in some cases involves many people. This can also occur if an event is viewed as unfavorable and you are waiting for it to be over. Yet, truly successful ends are dependent upon successful means. Meaning, that the present moment experience creates the experience of present moments to come.
If the holidays create stress for you, give your mind a break from thoughts of past and future. Holidays are reminders to enjoy the experience of the present moment; signifying its importance and wonderment available not only during this one present moment experience, but at all times.
When I get too serious about situations I say to myself, “This is just for fun!” Figuring out what will snap you back to the present, where all joy resides, can be an enjoyable and infinitely fruitful learning experience. This Thanksgiving let yourself experience the space from which all there is to be thankful for emerges, the present.
Ten Things I’m Thankful For (In No Particular Order):
- My health.
- The ability to walk and the use of my arms. (Ok I said two things here, but they are both under the general category of working extremities).
- Food and the ability to digest food.
- The five senses.
- Being alive.
- The experience of love.
- The eternal present.
- Other human beings. (My family, friends, co-workers, people I haven’t met yet, you).
- The planet earth and how I get to live on it. (Thanks to the movie Gravity for really solidifying my love of planet earth).
The more you are thankful for, the more you end up having to be thankful for! Where does your gratitude gravitate this Thanksgiving?
Opinions are mind candy. Candy can be enjoyable in moderation, but in excess leads to discomfort, illness, and cavities. Facts can exist without the added sugar coating of an opinion.
When used in moderation, opinions can be useful tools for action in alignment with the reality of the present moment. Identification with opinions, which is to the ego as spinach is to Popeye, creates a veil of thought over all perception. Present moment reality becomes obscured; you can no longer see the depth of the lake because of the billows of sand just beneath the surface.
There is an easy way to settle the sand and see clear through to the bottom of the lake. Identification with opinions can be dissolved merely by noticing the opinions as they arise. Once you can see yourself thinking, you no longer are your thoughts. What will the world look like from this new perspective? “When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about,” (Rumi).
The question itself sounds silly. Magic is a label for the inexplicable. Yet, magic not being real, we know that there is an explanation for that which we do not understand even if we cannot figure it out.
Tonight, as I watched clips from David Blaine’s Real or Magic, I began to see magic from a different perspective. Magic is a word used to make something unreal. Magic just means that something is illusory, or a trick, or momentarily without a good explanation.
What would happen if you perceived an event without mentally labeling it? What if the word magic is a disguise for true wonders that exist in reality?
A mind unable to concoct a logical explanation for an event does not make the event untrue. It is merely very difficult for thoughts to perceive beyond the barriers, rules, and limitations it has firmly set in place for itself. When those barriers become less important, and perception takes over from thinking, the world can transform beyond dreams, imaginings, and even things we call “magic.”
What I truly love about the following “magic trick” is the deeper truth of the interconnectedness of all beings that it demonstrates. Our five senses and thought forms may have strict limitations by their very nature, but consciousness, which allows it all to arise, has none. Consciousness is the space in which our reality manifests, and is the bond that connects us all. I hope you enjoy this video in which David Blaine offers another perspective on magic and how truly connected we are:
Do you ever feel “off”? Sometimes I feel out of sync with the present moment. In those moments I remind myself, that even when I feel out of sync I am still one with the present moment. I am still in it. I still am it. I can’t not be.
While in the midst of the human experience it can easily feel as if we are swimming upstream. Letting go feels like a big risk. But life will then give you a sign that everything is as it should be by the experience of pure peace, which is unattached to circumstance. Today I challenge myself, and any who want to join in, to let go of low-level fear, worry, and unacceptance. Let us see how life responds.
Whether self-deprecating or self-inflating the mind loves to attach itself to thoughts of “who you are.” Temporary satisfaction comes with any type of ego inflation, any instance of identification with thoughts about yourself. The ego can manifest through identification with physical things, situations, and thought forms.
I first heard this explained by Eckhart Tolle and my own experience verifies it again and again. Yesterday’s post was a great example of how my ego gained strength through identifying with the situation of not having internet access or TV.
Attaching your identity to a thought about yourself, whether it is good or bad, gives rise to the ego. The good or bad thoughts are not the reality of your being, of your consciousness.
What happens when you compare yourself to another? How does it feel?
My loving and talented older brother is a very disciplined and motivated jazz pianist. I love him and I love his success, for any success is a victory for us all. I myself have never had a clear path, the motivation to move in a specific direction, or the discipline that would allow me to do so. All of these things are of course attainable but if I compare my journey to that of my brother’s, I will inevitably give rise to the ego.
All comparison is a doorway in which the ego will enter. I could inflate my ego by creating an identity of being lost and without direction, or I could go the other way and inflate my ego by identifying with my association with, and the successes of, my brother. It really doesn’t matter to the ego, which thoughts I choose to identify with, as long as I buy into the identification.
Is there a way out? How do you disinvite the ego when it has already come in the front door and is seated firmly at the center of your attention?
The way out is to notice the thoughts, and recognize rising identification with thought. Another brilliant lesson from Tolle is that the moment of seeing is the beginning of the end of the ego. All that is required is your presence.
The moment you gaze upon an instance of identification with thought, you have stepped out of the ego and into your true self. And from there you need not create new identification, because you are already in the midst of your greatest power, the present moment. In the light of the present the highest potential of your being has space in which to arise, to guide your life, and to manifest unimaginable and beautiful dreams. Instead of seeking to create yourself through identification, you can now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons involves Homer being caught in a situation in which he is utterly without beer or television, and subsequently goes mad. The past couple of days I have humorously found myself in such a position.
I have no internet access and no television. As soon as the repair people can make it over to my place they will find out what is wrong and fix the problem, but for now I have neither. Moreover, I realized a couple of days ago that I am out of cellphone data, leaving me without internet more completely than I otherwise would have been. So how am I even writing this post? I’m staying late at my place of work where the internet is gloriously plentiful!
Going without internet and TV is not a problem, but as I have discovered, my ego feels differently. Last night when I realized that there wasn’t any quick fix to the issue I immediately became stressed. I started to think about all of the work I had to do that I couldn’t get done, and all of the essential tasks that I had planned on completing which require the use of the internet. (I am also a big TV fan but I find that a lot easier to let go of).
My boyfriend taught me a great lesson in not perpetuating stress when he left me to myself for a moment and decided not to become stressed out by the situation along with me. It is so easy to take on the emotions of others you are close to, but it also creates more of that which is causing the pain. Along with this great reminder of how to stay present even when those around you are taken over by thoughts or emotions, I also found out how attached I was to these luxuries. I had become identified with my outer circumstance.
I showered and listened to Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, which I find always snaps me out of identification with form, the ego. The more present I became, the more I smiled at my ego. In the calming hot water it became easier to see that the voice in my head was attached to the situation and to the idea that my needs were not being met.
A great teacher recently talked to me about seeing the world as God, or the universe, sees the world. This means looking at the world just as it is, with complete acceptance. I didn’t know how I was going to get directions to all of the places I had to visit today. I didn’t know how I was going to email myself a lesson plan, or write on my blog. But when I took a moment to look at my situation without demanding it be a certain way there was no longer any stress, there was no longer anything to worry about. As the invaluable quote, which I often use to comfort myself in times of stress or worry, from the movie Gravity states, “no harm, no foul.”
What happened on the best day of your life? What did it feel like?
One of my more recent memorable days happened while I was in the midst of the first experiment from Pam Grout’s E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. I won a raffle that included 30 days of unlimited Yoga classes at studio steps away from the new apartment I was just about to move into.
There is nothing in the world like the experience of pure joy, which in extraordinary circumstances overwhelms all of the thoughts and feelings that had since been covering it up. Recalling that state and feeling is a powerful tool, and essential aspect, to perpetuating that joy. Michael Beckwith explains how to use this “WHAT!” moment beautifully in this video.
This morning I came across this series of videos posted on The Huffington Post that made me so happy I cried. If you can’t recall the feeling of a “best day” in your own life, or you just want to rev up your joy, have an awesome time perusing these ridiculously uplifting videos by clicking here.
I love to sing and dance. I sing and dance alone, I sing and dance around friends, I even love to sing and dance in front of an audience. But thus far in life I have not created a career out of singing and dancing. While I love to perform on stage, what I truly enjoy is expressing myself through music, whether someone is watching or not. As a teenager, throughout all of the normal trials and tribulations I experienced going through high school, what carried me through was the thought, “As long as I can play guitar I’ll be okay.” No matter what life situation I encountered, I experienced joy when I was playing music.
By no means am I a great musician. Everyday I enjoy listening to musicians whose talent and skills will always be far superior to my musical capabilities. Does this take some of the enjoyment away from singing and dancing? Not in the slightest. On the contrary, I am truly thankful for the musical gifts more talented artists share with the world for our enjoyment.
At the end of the day, I can still sing with my family. I can always dance around my own living room. In these instances of action I truly experience life. Attaching my identity to the thought of “being a singer” or “being an artist” pales in comparison to that felt present moment experience.
This video of Mark Nepo is truly liberating. If you have a passion going unfulfilled, or are being blocked from your own creative expression, Mark offers a freeing perspective:
There are a million tiny things we do each day. Some actions are so small and routine we hardly even notice them. Things like taking a breath before drinking a glass of water, blinking our eyes to adjust to daylight after waking up, brushing hair out of our eyes, turning the lights on and off, nodding at a passing stranger, saying “bless you” after someone sneezes. The entire day is composed of minuscule, seemingly insignificant actions.
The following video of an impossible and beautiful display of dominos reminded me that each of us is only seeing from the perspective of one small domino. In each moment we witness a single domino, the present. All amazing feats of humanity, like landing on the moon, the creation of vaccines that cure diseases, and the building of the Sears Tower, are beautiful images like those shown in this video of what happened after all of the dominos had fallen. But their creation was made up of one domino at a time, one small moment, one tiny insignificant action after tiny insignificant action.
When life becomes tedious, and nothing seems to be getting accomplished, think of the domino effect. You are currently witnessing the slow fall of one small domino, which holds the power of the outcome, the vision, the entire purpose of your being here. Even though it seems small and insignificant, you need only take one step, for as the old adage truly states, contained in the one step is the entirety of the journey itself.