consciousness

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.

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Ego

“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:

 

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consciousness

No internet no TV make Katie something something…

SimpsonsOne 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.”

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Ego

9 Unconscious Ways The Ego Takes Over Your Life

Reflected LightThe ego needs a lot of things.  Without wanting, the mind made self loses steam, and your true self beyond the voice in your head begins to emerge.  Finding out the nature of your true self beyond what your thoughts are attached to is one of the greatest adventures of being a human.  But how can this actually be done?

To the mind, it appears that there is nothing beyond itself, because it only recognizes things.  Space is incomprehensible to a thought whose meaning is always attached to some-thing.  Yet, space is our home.  We are consciousness, that which is aware and watching.  We are the space in which all things arise.  When you balance your life with space you have access to the power that created the universe.

In Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth he offers pointers to help create more inner space, and diminish the egoic mind.  One of these pointers is to become aware of patterns that operate in your life which attempt to inflate or repair the egoic sense of self.  The list of these patterns literally makes me laugh out loud, because I have seen each one operate in my life at one time or another.  Experimenting with letting go of these patterns whenever you become aware of them can at first feel uncomfortable, but then give rise to a powerful feeling of spaciousness and peace.  The true self then has room to emerge.   I hope reading these “ways in which people unconsciously try to emphasize their form­-identity,” as Tolle puts it, is as amusing and enlightening to you as it was to me:

  1. Demanding recognition for something you did and getting angry or upset if you don’t get it
  2. Trying to get attention by talking about your problems, the story of your illnesses, or making a scene
  3. Giving your opinion when nobody has asked for it and it makes no difference to the situation
  4. Being more concerned with how the other person sees you than with the other person, which is to say, using other people for egoic reflection or as ego enhancers
  5. Trying to make an impression on others through possessions, knowledge, good looks, status, physical strength, and so on
  6. Bringing about temporary ego inflation through angry reaction against something to someone
  7. Taking things personally, feeling offended
  8. Making yourself right and others wrong through futile mental or verbal complaining
  9. Wanting to be seen, or to appear important (Tolle)
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consciousness, spirituality

How The Mind Convinces Itself It’s Correct

This morning at work I experienced technical difficulties with the projector.  It was the last day of class, centered around the movie “Lilo and Stitch,” and the projector had always worked fine before.  After several minutes of unsuccessful troubleshooting, and with class about to begin, I felt reaction rising up inside of me.  I was frustrated and about to freak out.

The reaction I experienced was brief and subsided as I made the decision to have an enjoyable last day, and ask for assistance. Yet, however brief, the pull of reaction was strong, and it was to an inanimate object in a low-pressure situation.  How strongly can egoic reaction pull a person in when the unfavorable situation is caused by another person?  When other people act in a way that causes the voice in our heads to start condemning, we experience the beginnings of a reaction caused by the ego.  Some people manage to live mainly through egoic reaction, and over time it deadens all of life, leaving the person unable to enjoy any situation and experience their true nature.

I love this video because it is so clear, and beautifully manages to snap me out of the voice in my head.  The truth to which Eckhart Tolle speaks here, can have the power to completely change any life that has been taken over by reaction.

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consciousness

The Stranger Who Killed My Ego

Happy Sign

One night a few summers back I went to the gym, and feeling quite proud of myself decided to walk home to keep the momentum going.  As I was briskly walking along, with my rainbow New Balances and a big grin on my face, a young artist who could’ve been my age asked me to look at his photographs.  I admired them, complimented his artistic eye, and was about to continue on my way home.  But before I could, he started asking me if I was going to buy them.  I told him I had no money on me but that I wished him good luck with his work.

Instead of the usual disappointed face and goodbye, I received a totally unexpected barrage of questions.  Did I really have no money at all?  Couldn’t I go to the ATM? Don’t I just live off my parents’ money anyway?  I admitted I was blessed and did in fact have some money to my name, but that I too was an artist, working part time.  He wouldn’t stop asking questions.  I could have made the choice to walk away.  In my mind it was important to just watch him and see him as a human being.  But when someone is completely taken over by the voice in their head, as he clearly was, the most helpful thing can be to choose a new situation, and exit.

Saying things like “I am blessed” and telling him how, as a poet, I understand how difficult it is to make money, set me up for a barrage of attacks on my religion, and my art.  “Oh yeah right, we’re all poets aren’t we?” he sarcastically remarked.  Along with, “If you really were religious you would go and get money right now but you’re not, so I guess you aren’t really what you say you are.”  On and on he went.  And I just stood there in awe, listening.

Eventually I gave it up as a bad job and walked away, tears streaming down my face.  He had attacked every identification I held dear.  He tore down all of the things I associated with to give me an identity.  He acted as if he could not see me at all, as if I were not a real person standing in front of him.  He may have appeared like many of my acquaintances from art school, with his hipster clothing and shaggy hair, but he didn’t seem to relate to me on any level.

I was in shambles the rest of my walk home; you would have thought something truly terrible had happened.  But I knew in the deep recesses of my consciousness that something terrible had not happened to me, it happened to my ego.  The part of me that attached itself to things and ideas had been belittled.  The voice in my head that demanded others take it seriously, and believe in what is says, had been attacked with no chance of retribution.  Not my true self, but the mind which seeks outside things to feel secure and to attain an identity, that ego self, had been greatly diminished.  He had claimed to know me better than myself.  He took everything I thought I was, and laughed at it, claimed it was all one big hoax.

Now I can say, thank God for this stranger.  Everything he said, all of the parts of me he attacked, were much too specific to be meaningless.  The universe is a beautiful being, who used this man, a person completely taken over by his ego, to show me the vestiges of my own ego.  The universe teaches lessons through joy, but it can also use negative people and situations for your good.

Since I couldn’t defend myself after parting ways with this stranger, my ego could not repair itself.  It couldn’t build itself back up, dig its heals in, and explain why it was what it said it was.  Whenever the ego is diminished without being repaired, space is created for your true self to emerge, that which is beyond thoughts and emotions.  Instead of defending my beliefs about who I was, I allowed myself to let go of what others thought of me, along with letting go of what I thought about of myself.  No thoughts, no labels, are who I am.  Nothing I can ever think about myself will ever come close to the reality of my being.  That stranger was a small flame of refining fire, burning up the egoic mind-made self, leaving room for my eternal being to live more fully through me.  It did not feel good.  I was amazed by how truly terrible it felt.  But through acceptance, the pain dissolved, along with the resilient attachments that are the ego, and I was still there.  Completely whole, undiminished, and open to life as it really was.  We don’t need others to define who we are.  We don’t need ourselves to define who we are.  Beyond definitions, we just are.

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consciousness, spirituality

Keeping The Past Alive With Your Mind

Spring woods

Tonight I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. When I am strongly holding onto thoughts in my head this story helps me laugh at myself, and just let go.

“The inability or rather unwillingness of the human mind to let go of the past is beautifully illustrated in the story of two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, who were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side.

The monks walked on in silence.

Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. ‘Why did you carry that girl across the road?’ he asked. ‘We monks are not supposed to do things like that.’

‘I put the girl down hours ago,’ said Tanzan. ‘Are you still carrying her?’”

What are you still carrying in your mind?  What might it feel like to not carry that around all the time?  Just for this present moment allow yourself to drop those thoughts and experience what it feels like.

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consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

The Pain Body Practice and The Beginning of Inner Peace

I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. Every morning I listen to an audiobook, interview, sermon, or anything that will inspire me and bring me more fully into the spirit of the present. I am always amazed by how words of inspiration change my inner state from tired and dreary, to awake, energized, and joyful. As I do my makeup I let the positive words sink in. By the time I’m out the door I feel excited for life. This is the polar opposite of the feeling I have when I first wake up in the morning.

Inner peace is a practice. It requires practice in every single moment. This looks different in every moment. I know that when I’m at work it looks different than when I’m at home. At home I can listen to my audiobooks when I get ready for the day. At work I can allow myself to focus fully on each task, keeping my attention on the “doing” instead of the result I am working towards. When I am at home watching TV and a commercial about some deadly illness comes on and I am about to be afraid of it, I have to practice peace by letting go of fear. Each and every now is an opportunity for greater peace. It is totally fine that not all moments seem as peaceful as others, that is all part of the practice.

Yesterday I began talking about the pain body, the residual energy of past pain that lives within each of us. The pain body creates great opportunities for practice. Of course they don’t feel great, but the awareness gained in the moment of disidentification from the pain body can put you light years ahead of your current state of consciousness. Practicing inner peace with a heavy and active pain body can thrust anyone into a spiritual awakening.

When I was just entering high school I had a very active pain body. I can see now how the emotional pain and the thoughts in my head fed each other constantly. This was a blessing because I knew something was wrong. I knew that the pain and anxiety was not okay. I remember telling my mom, as she was driving home from a friend’s house, that there was something wrong with me. I told her that the voice in my head was always coming up with horrible scenarios about the worst things that could possibly happen to me. It would come up with scenarios where everyone I loved died and play through how I would cope and what it would feel like. While that all sounds quite dramatic, it wasn’t until many years later that I realized everyone had a voice in their head that was making up various scenarios, many of which had negative outcomes. The active pain body was so uncomfortable that it woke me up to that voice as a “problem.” Instead of assuming that the mind is just the way it is, I knew it was causing me too much pain to be in its natural state.

Together the pain body and the voice in the head create the ego. They live their lives through you, and until a little spark of disidentification comes in, they are you. They make your decisions, they create your reactions, and they completely obscure the inner peace that is your natural state. The ego will cease to run your life the moment you realize it is not you. That is all that is required. That is where the practice of inner peace begins.

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consciousness, spirituality

What Is The Pain Body?

For the last two weeks I have been driving my Mom’s car, and what a blessing it has been!  I had totally forgotten when I had to give it back, and was just reminded that tomorrow I would be without a car once more.  Although not having a car was normal for me, hearing I wasn’t going to have one anymore provoked some negative feelings.  I felt disappointment and then it slowly dissipated.

What would have happened if I hadn’t let go of those negative emotions and held onto them?  My mind would have started thinking negative thoughts.  The voice in my head would have been talking about all of the reasons it was anxious about not having a car, describing exactly what would be more difficult, and why this was indeed an upsetting situation to be in.  Those thoughts in turn would have given rise to even more negative emotion than I had felt at first.  When emotional pain turns into thinking, the voice in the head is acting on the assumption that being upset will somehow help it get what it wants.

Eventually that pain subsides, and the mind starts thinking about other things and moves on.  What happens to the pain that subsides but is not let go of?  It is still within, and when an emotion akin to itself is provoked at some other time, it takes that opportunity to arise once more and add to the new emotional pain being experienced.  The new negative energy feeds the old negative energy lying dormant within.  And when that past pain is woken up, it takes the opportunity to feed negative thinking, which will make the negative emotions grow.

Eckhart Tolle describes the negative energy field that dwells within us as the “pain body.”  Deeply negative people are often controlled by the pain body.  That is the deep negativity; the heavy pain body.  It is not who that person is.  Awakening to the pain body is freedom.  The cycles of the pain body no longer have to operate.  You don’t have to feel bad every 3 weeks, or have a fight once a month with your partner.  When it wakes up and you know how it operates, it ceases to control your life.  Instead you have the opportunity to observe the pain body, be with the pain without reacting, and dissolve the past pain whenever you choose to express and let go of a negative emotion.

Consequently, when you awaken to your own pain body, it is easy to awaken to the pain body in others.  For me this has helped me to not take negative comments and actions from others as personally.  When I see it is just the pain body, I am able to see through the person’s pain to their true self. Have there been situations in your life where you can see now that a person had been taken over by their pain body?

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