Advice I Give Myself

SoulYou are on the right track.

You may not want to hear that, especially if you’re experiencing disappointment, regret, or pain in any form.  But learning from your life situation, however it presents itself, is made exponentially easier when you don’t waste time playing mind games with it.

Those mind games can be wishing life were different, thinking about all of the things you could have done differently, and wondering why other people have it so good.  These are all ways in which the thinking mind distracts you from the task at hand, which is to accept your life situation as if you had chosen it so that you can get down to the business of inner growth.  Because in the end, you’d be learning the same lessons no matter how the outer circumstances of life were presented.

Most importantly, remember that we are all classmates.  We all go to the same school, we’re on the same team.  It may be hard to watch others around you trying and failing, and bumping into you in the hallways.  But we’re all learning.  So no matter where your life situation takes you, arm yourself with compassion for yourself and everyone else.


How To Be Human In 3 Easy Steps

LightBeing a human can get complicated.  Just getting through the day can turn into a chore of epic proportions.

When I’m feeling weighed down by tasks and obligations all of the spiritual texts in the world won’t make me feel balanced or peaceful.  In this state even a spiritual practice can turn into another box to check off on a never-ending “to-do” list.

When you start to feel like you’re in a race and you just can’t keep up, stop.  Stop right where you are, have a seat, and ask yourself, “What did I learn?”  You might get an answer, or you might get silence.  Either way, you stepped off the treadmill of time onto the solid foundation of the now.

Tonight I stopped to ask myself that question and got 3 easy answers that make being a human a lot less difficult:

1. Relish the accomplishments of others. They are your own.

2. If you’re having a bad day and something makes you smile or laugh, let your mood change.

3. Planning to do many things can lead to stagnation and feeling overwhelmed.  Instead choose to do one thing, and only when it is over think of another thing to do.



How Children Are Secretly Changing Adults

At Bop and Mimi'sIf you could impart one lesson to a child, what would it be?

I’ve observed an amazing phenomenon the past four years while working in an elementary school.  Adults become better people around kids.  We are more honest, forgiving, kind, and gentle when we have children observing our behavior all day.

Kids are extremely focused on the notion of “fairness.”  If an adult doesn’t abide by the rules they have set for a child, you bet that kid is going to call them out.  In the classroom adults do not swear or yell at each other, we want to model healthy relationships and problem solving. But when someone cuts us off during the morning commute we act in a way that would land any child in the principle’s office.

So think about that lesson you would really want to teach a child.  For me, I would want to help a child understand how to accept situations that don’t go exactly their way, and how to go back to enjoying themselves afterwards.

Take that lesson you want to pass on, and first teach it to yourself.  Kids learn by example after all.  Learn how to model that behavior which you would want to see others enact.  Not only will you be helping yourself, but you may also be helping a child you don’t even realize is paying attention.

consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

The Bed Bug Incident Part 3 – Conclusions

As the days passed before the extermination I experienced great fluctuations in my state of consciousness.  There would be brief moments of clarity where I felt fine, peaceful, above my circumstance.  Then I would soon despair again.  I had to pack up my apartment as if I was moving, treat all my clothes.  I had to live apart from my boyfriend who graciously stayed at the apartment, per instructions from the exterminator, while I fled to my parents’ house in the suburbs.  We’ve lived together for years and now we were in separate places, both without any of our “stuff.”

My mind constantly tormented me with the fear that I was going to bring the bugs to my parents’ house.  But as the days went by, my moments of clarity were able to shine through more and more.  I was learning to bring acceptance to my outer circumstance.  The negative thoughts were so obviously unwanted and unhelpful at this point that I made the choice to start letting them go, one by one, as they came up in my mind.  And they came up all the time.  So this was a lot of great practice at letting go of negative thoughts.

I then had to go back to the apartment to “test” the results of the extermination.  Everything was fine.  On my fifth day back I woke up and went to work.  As I was typing on my computer I noticed one of my fingers was swollen.  Then I felt something on my thigh, went to the bathroom, and saw it had swollen up the size of a large tomato.  I had been bitten.  I left that morning assuming I would see my boyfriend after work.  But now I’d be driving back to the suburbs, living apart for another two weeks while the second round of treatment took effect.  I emailed the exterminator.  I called my boyfriend to tell him what had happened.  I called my mom to tell her I was coming home.  And I was okay.  I had been through this once before, I was learning how to let go of the circumstance.  I was learning to be okay with uncertainty.  I was learning how to accept what happens, because to not accept what happens is to cause yourself unnecessary suffering.

The universe gave me a round two, another opportunity to try again.  And this time it was easier not to freak out.  It didn’t feel like a horrible struggle prepping my apartment for extermination, or commuting to work from the suburbs, or not knowing when I would live at my apartment again.  I’m still learning to accept that bugs exist.  But now, in comparison, the other ones don’t seem so bad.  I’m now back at my apartment and haven’t had any bites again.  Although that doesn’t mean they won’t come back.  And I am okay with that now, I have learned to be comfortable with the not knowing.  I really don’t know what is going to happen, where I’ll be living day to day, if the next apartment I get will be bed bug free.  From experiencing the suffering I caused after having bed-bugs I have learned that it is much more helpful, peaceful, and joyful to let go of those fears and be in the moment I am in.  After all, it is the only moment I will ever be in.  So if I’m afraid and worried now, it is likely I’ll continue to be afraid and worried.  But if I’m peaceful and accepting now, it is quite likely that my future moments will also be peaceful.  After all, the future never happens, when it does it is called the “now.”

So what can you let go of now?  What uncontrollable circumstances in your life can you bring acceptance to?  What negative thoughts repeat in your head that you are ready to let go of?  The bed bugs taught me many things; the universe always gives you the lesson that is most helpful for your state of consciousness at that moment (as Tolle puts it).  And while I perceived the situation as suffering while in the midst of it, it was for my learning, for fostering greater peace, joy, love, and awareness in my life.  What a gift.

PS- I also have a different relationship with things now.  Although I don’t perceive “stuff” as a burden as I did after getting bed bugs, I am not as interested in having more “stuff.”  I would rather have just a few things to tend to.  It has actually stopped me from wanting to buy clothes and other things.  All I wanted after having bed bugs was to be just me, to feel clean and untainted.  While that is an extreme that would be detrimental to stay at, it pushed me more to the middle in terms of my desire for objects, another blessing in disguise!

consciousness, spirituality

The Bed Bug Incident Part 2

I never found out what had been causing those bites for so many months. But the situation developed when I learned a couple apartments in my building had bed bugs and were having exterminations. I freaked out. Freaking out is a good sign that you are totally taken in by a circumstance and cannot view it at the higher vantage point of the true self, the watcher which is unaffected by what “happens” and is always whole. I wasn’t being the watcher, I was being a body threatened by outside forces. I took many precautions after learning my neighbors had bed bugs, putting things in trash bags, keeping the lights on at night, spraying poison around my door. But to the universe all of those precautions were really just me saying, “I’m afraid of something, this bothers me, I’m totally attached and identified with this situation.” That was the truth of the matter. I hadn’t let go. I was clinging to circumstance.

I was living in fear of bugs. For you this experience might have manifested in another form in your own life. About a month after the bed bug incident I thought I was in the clear. Everything was going to be fine. And when the thought that everything will be fine occupies your mind, that can be saying that you don’t feel fine in this moment, the only moment you will ever actually be experiencing. That very week I woke up with bug bites. These were very different from the ones I had been having all year. There were multiple bites and they were on my upper body not my legs. I even had bites on my fingers. The only thing familiar about them was the terrible allergic reaction. But the itching was even worse. I called the exterminator to inspect, and sure enough I had bed bugs.

The morning I found out I fell to pieces. You would have thought a real tragedy had struck. I was distraught, beside myself. I felt completely contaminated, as if everywhere I went would become infected by bed bugs. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I didn’t want to hang out at other apartments. Mostly, I never wanted to return to my apartment ever again. I no longer cared about my stuff, I did not want any of it anymore. In my eyes, the place would be forever contaminated.

This is a great example of a strong reaction. My reaction was a clear message of the feelings, fears, and beliefs I had been holding onto ever since my first bad bite from October. It was now May, and there was no more fooling myself. I was completely attached to my outer circumstance, and when my outer circumstance did not fit with the picture I had in my head of what I needed to feel safe, comfortable, and at ease, I caused immense suffering for myself. Suffering is often created by the outer circumstance not matching up with your thought’s picture of how things “should” be. This cannot be reconciled by more thoughts. The only way to stop the self created suffering is to recognize the thoughts and how they operate. The thougths don’t really want problems to be solved, even though that is what they claim. They want to keep thinking, that is their whole life up there in your head. They just want to stay alive. So when the outer circumstance doesn’t match with the thoughts’ visions, your mind will take that opportunity and run with it. Literally run, you know how thoughts run on and on in your mind. It loves doing that. But you are the observer of your thoughts, you have the ultimate control once you recognize that they are not helpful and in no way actually improve the uncontrollable circumstance.

When you have thoughts like this that keep running and cause you great emotional suffering, become very alert. Say to yourself, “what is my next thought going to be?” and then watch your mind until one comes in (a great tool from Tolle’s The Power of Now). Don’t judge the thoughts, allow them, give them your fullest attention. In this way the light of your presence will shine through the illusion that your thoughts can help you with their insane ramblings. Another way to quiet down an insane thought pattern is to bring complete inner acceptance to your outer circumstance even though your thoughts don’t want you to. Allow a situation to be. It will be the end of the mind using you, and the beginning of you using the mind.