What Could Trust Do For You?

TrustGive yourself the gift of a day of trust.  When life feels tumultuous I designate minutes, hours, or even a day where my only objective is to surrender, trust, and accept.  If an unexpected obstacle arises it is often at this moment when the day turns from one of trust back into moments of worry and attempts to “fix” the situation that I find unacceptable through thinking in unproductive circles.  

This too, is okay.  It is merely one more chance to embark on another minute, hour, or day of trust.  Suspending disbelief and allowing yourself to feel that the universe, God, life energy itself is providing for all your needs, just as it had in your first nine months in your mother’s womb, offers the opportunity to experience the true effects and purpose for the practice of trust.


My Big Fear

WyomingWhat do you consider your greatest burden?  What keeps you from feeling free to enjoy life?

Some people worry, some stress.  Some people have experienced trauma that never leaves their minds.  Some people don’t want to be where they are right now, while others don’t like who they are.  

Since I was a little girl the most dominant thought pattern disrupting my natural ease has been fear.  While a fear of death outweighs other fears, it doesn’t really matter what I’m afraid of.  The content of each fearful inkling doesn’t matter because after all of these years listening to a thought pattern fueled by fear I have found that anything can be used to feed its momentum. This is also why fear is my greatest teacher.

Whatever your most intrusive burden may be, it provides you with two paths.  It has the power to drive you deeper into unconsciousness and pain, or drive you out into light and understanding.  Fear is such an easily accessible fuel for my thoughts that I can either focus on the energetic train of one thought after another spurred by the initial feeling of fear, or I can use the fear to force me into becoming completely present.

The less focused I am on the reality of my immediate experience, the easier it is for old thought patterns to gain new life.  Now when a fearful thought enters my mind, no matter how benign it may seem at first, I use it to force me into focusing on my surroundings.  I visually examine whatever my gaze falls upon and make it the center of my attention.  I listen closely to the sounds around me.  Fearful thoughts still come, but they are balanced and increasingly overpowered by the intensity of presence which they trigger.

What thoughts cause you to suffer?  Even if those thoughts are justified and grounded in reality, if they cause suffering they can become your presence trigger, they can wake you up.  While joy, peace, and love are equally effective teachers of being, if you work with what you’ve got you can transform any substance into pure gold.


How To Complain

Have you ever let go of a persistent unhelpful pattern of thought?  As I’ve attempted to let go of automatic thought patterns I’ve noticed that my mind has no shortage of other patterns that work just as efficiently as fuel for thought.

One of the easiest thought patterns to get trapped in is complaining.  Complaining can be effortless, especially when it involves a situation where a correction really needs to be made.  But situations can be righted in ways that don’t create personal blame, negative energy, and food for more autopilot thinking.  A helpful question to ask before complaining about a situation is, “Am I taking this personally?”  Right away a space is created between your reaction and your conscious self.

I’ve been too excited about the rebroadcast of Oprah and Tolle’s A New Earth web-series, and I love the following video because it so clearly lays out the two ways to complain, their consequences, and how to end up with your desired outcome.


The Pros and Cons of Mind Reading

Thinking MindHave you ever wished you could read minds?  It seems like an incredible super power. There are some obvious perks: you’d do very well on game shows that ask trivia questions, and you’d know what the silent teenager across from you at the dinner table was actually thinking.  But the gilded idea of mind reading would very quickly become exposed as a major disappointment.

Our minds operate according to the same structure, with different content for each person.  The mind uses the content of your life to fuel its never-ending cycle of thought after thought. It also efficiently uses those thoughts to build up momentum for its continued operation.

Even though it seems logical to base your thoughts about another person on the thoughts they have or share with you, in reality they are a human being who also happens to contain the same thought-creating machine you do, and more often than not that machine is running on autopilot.  Mind reading would only end up telling you what content that person’s mind uses to fuel its incessant thinking, and not who that person truly is.

Can you tell which thoughts you consciously choose to entertain versus those that randomly fire of their own accord?

If I am honest and aware, I can tell that the majority of my thoughts are produced by a mind on autopilot with no actual prompting decision to engage in thinking.   I don’t consider this a failure, rather it is liberating!

When you can watch your thoughts and notice which ones were on purpose, and which ones were involuntary, you can choose to not take the autopilot thinking too seriously. The more you notice involuntary thinking, the more you are able to choose thoughts that are of some purpose for you instead.  Thoughts of worry, fear, judgment, complaints, and attachment are then seen for what they really are; firmly established patterns of the mind that fuel its autopilot mode of thinking.  They are nothing to take too seriously in yourself, or in others.  Now the mind is no longer using you, you are using the mind.


“How To Cure An Addiction To Drama”

Does drama seem to follow you wherever you go?  Do you just want a moment of peace, but find that it is ever elusive?  In my own life I can see moments where unhappiness and drama reigned supreme, and while I genuinely wanted peace, the ego within me lived for and on those dramatic moments.

When situations seem out of control, and your reactions seem like the only appropriate responses to such craziness, take a step back and witness your sense of self becoming all wrapped up in those outer situations.  Feel the need to react, and watch the tirade of thoughts that follow. This creates a small space that is enough room for your true self that only wants peace to shine through and provide clarity and equanimity.

I’m so excited that OWN is re-broadcasting the webcast of Oprah and Eckhart Tolle’s chapter by chapter discussion of A New Earth.  One of the great gems of wisdom from these discussions is this clarifying piece on how to cure an addiction to drama.  If you witness yourself complaining, blaming, or discussing the shortcomings of others, (and really who doesn’t), this video is a breath of fresh air:



You Are Missing Something

Joey and Katie Lolla '12But it is not what you think it is!

On Friday and Saturday nights the world of social media blows up with pictures and comments about the fun parties, plans, and events that it seems everyone is taking part in.  But for every selfie taken at a club there is a person looking at it and feeling like they’re missing out.

The pictures do make those events look fun.  And I’m sure many of those weekend parties truly are a great time.  But you aren’t actually missing anything by not being there.  A picture on Facebook doesn’t come close to the complexity of the actual experience of an individual.  Even if you are at home alone, your experience is no less or more than anyone else’s.  If you were in that situation there is no telling what the actual experience would be in comparison to the vision you have of it in your mind.

Creating scenarios contrary to your current experience that you think would enrich your life or make you “more” than you are right now is a favorite activity of the ego.  It is just another way the ego can take control of your attention, and bring you out of alignment with the reality of the present moment.  You aren’t missing the party, you are missing the now.

Wishing you were there when you are here is creating suffering for yourself.  If those people in the pictures seem to be having a better time than you it is not because of the party, but rather your own thoughts are keeping you out of the space of infinite joy, possibility, and peace.

If your sense of self is wrapped up in the thoughts you have, and those thoughts are telling you that you cannot be at peace now, you are experiencing ego.  So if you see the good times being had by others and feel a twinge of discomfort and suddenly become ill at ease with your present situation, congratulations!  You have become aware of the ego directly.  That awareness is the beginning of the end of the ego, and the start of the experience of your true self, real joy, and lasting peace.


How To Trick Your Mind Into Letting You Be At Peace

My Mom SallyIf you are like me, whenever you tell yourself that it is okay to let go of the to-do list, the worries, and your thoughts about the future, your mind comes back with some smart-alecky retort.  Quieting the mind in order to bring presence into your life, leading to peace and ease, can feel like a baseball game where you are always the Chicago Cubs.  You have a distant memory that you were on the winning side of inner peace at some point, but it was so long ago you can’t even be sure it was real.  So you keep telling yourself, “Wait till next year!” Yet year after year that sense of inner peace you know is attainable always seems one season out of reach.

I will say this about my mother’s beloved baseball team, the Cubbies sure have had a lot of practice.  Luckily, when it comes to inner peace, there is never a World Series that you are missing out on, but rather season after season of practice.  There is no way to fail, only ways to proceed and succeed.

One of the peace games that “tricks” my mind into becoming still, is called “For This Practice.”  I set rules for small actions that bring my focus away from thinking and into the present.  When I’m getting ready for bed at night I’ll say, “For this practice I don’t need to think about what I have to do tomorrow,” and proceed to wash my face and put on my pajamas paying special attention to the physical experience of each action.  When a thought pops up in my mind I’ll remind myself, “For this practice I don’t need that.” This tells the mind it can think about what it wants to afterwards, but clears a space where you can be free from thought and at peace.

What rules could best serve your experience of inner peace “for this practice?” Think about your routine activities and choose a few that you can set certain parameters for. You can also use “For This Practice” whenever your mind has gained unwanted momentum and control in your field of attention.  For example, if a worry pattern comes up, choose a simple task and say, “For this practice I don’t need to run over these worry thoughts. For this practice the object is to pay attention to…” Setting concrete boundaries for intentional moments of presence will give you more “wins” than the cubs have seen in the last one-hundred years.


4 Steps For Manifesting A New Reality While Staying Rooted In The Present

Swami SatchidanandaStep One: Allow yourself to fully feel that which arises in the present moment, whether comfortable or uncomfortable.

Step Two: When that which arose has completely passed through you, place your attention on thoughts that serve you. Think the thoughts you would think if your dreams had already come to pass.

Step Three: Allow those thoughts to awaken the feelings that would be present if your dreams were currently your outer reality.

Step Four: Bring your attention to the exact space of now that you are in and allow those beautiful dreams to permeate your present world.


Uncomfortably Numb

ToesI first noticed it late one December evening.  The little girl I was babysitting for had fallen asleep during her bedtime story and I sat next to her, legs outstretched on the bed, trying to devise a way to exit without making any noise.  Staring at my feet I realized that, although I could feel my legs, I wasn’t feeling my toes.  I moved them back and forth against one another, and the movement was there but I lacked the sensation that had been so obvious up until this point; I normally had extremely ticklish feet.

After going home and running my feet under hot water, doing various stretches, and attempting to tickle my toes with my fingernails, I conceded that at some point I’d have to get this checked out.  Although my doctor tried different means of treating my unfeeling toes, as the weeks passed the only change was more uncomfortable tingling in my feet.

I am still engaged in outward means of bringing my feet back to normal, but after a few months the true message my feet were trying to send to me became too clear to ignore.  I am addicted to numbing.  And after so much work trying to numb myself, my body took the hint and complied, “if numbness is what you want, numbness is what you will get.”

The desire to numb yourself of emotions and pain manifests itself differently in those trying to escape that which they fear.  Some numb themselves through shopping, others use food, entertainment, alcohol, drama, etc.  The means with which we numb ourselves is a personal preference.  What we try to numb ourselves from can be categorized as pain.  What is painful to each of us, and what we fear, is also custom made according to the individual.  But it all results in the attempt to use external things to numb inner discomfort.

So how can we possibly let go of that which numbs us, when we would do anything to not experience the pain that we are trying to avoid?  For me the answer came in the form of numb feet.  Having these cold tingly feet have made me realize how glorious my highly sensitive, ticklish feet were, as well as how powerfully thoughts and intentions manifest into form whether we want them to or not.  The numbness, although an attempt to escape pain, has turned out to be painful.  My body is letting me know that its harmonious functioning is dependent upon my ability to accept and feel that which I experience.

While some pain seems so overpowering that it may destroy you, in reality your consciousness is vast enough to encompass any experience it encounters.  Not only can your witnessing self withstand the discomfort, but allowing yourself to fully feel it as it arises keeps you healthy.  When pain is fully felt, it moves through you.  When it is numbed, it lies dormant within, containing the power to disrupt every aspect of your life.

Now when I feel discomfort, fear, or pain I say to myself, “I allow myself to feel this right now.”  Although in just the past week my tingly feet have had improved warmth and sensation, one of the medical tests the doctor still has to perform will involve needles and will undoubtedly be painful.  This I am afraid of.  So I allow both my fear of the situation, and the pain of the experience as well. Because the ability to feel is not only a sign of life, but is itself life sustaining.