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Tools Alone Won’t Fix Your Problems

Most people don’t have the exact body they want.  But I bet there is a “state of the art” gym right down the road from many of us.

If someone wants to lose weight, improve your health, or just sport an awesome bod – all the tools they need are inside those doors.  So why aren’t we using them?  And if you do use them, did you stop before you got what you really wanted?

Many of us have a strong desire to change, to become ‘the best version of ourselves.’ But doesn’t it seem that no matter how many resolutions or promises you make, you often wind up back where you started – sometimes worse off than when you started?

And then what? You go looking for better tools, for better therapists, for better drugs, right?  But deep down you know that what’s really holding you back is… you.

Sometimes we just can’t get out of our own way. Would you like to know why?

We’re Not Asking The Right Question

Let’s take a step back and consider why the “build a better mousetrap” solution hasn’t worked so far.

We often ask ourselves questions like:

  • What diet should I be on?
  • What workout should I do?
  • Why isn’t this stuff working?

Let me point out that none of those questions are going to get you the result you’re looking for.  Those questions, without the “core question” being answered, are just more distractions that prevent change.

The real question is: Am I ready to change?

There’s a voice in the back of your head that answers that question for you.  And if it says “no,” then you’ve already lost.  The greatest, most advanced, most expensive tools in the world won’t do a thing for you.

You’re totally wasting your time and money if the answer is no.  In fact, you might even be making the problem worse by proving to yourself that change isn’t possible.

Decide to Change

People who accomplish massive things in life see success.  They frame the world in a way such that it serves them – they literally choose to see it in the way that serves them best.  And you know what happens? The world actually does serve them.

What if there was a way to achieve a fundamental shift in the way you see the world?  What if that meant not just increased productivity, but a deep and lasting fulfillment in your life?

Would you be ready to let it happen? (Ask yourself right now, and see what you say.)

When you can say yes to this question – your life is going to get better.  Things may get more challenging too, but that’s only because you’ll actually be doing the things you want to be doing, and removing the limiting beliefs and actions that have become a part of your life.

Massive change requires a kind of death. But that death will allow you to become the person you truly want to be – the kind of person who sees opportunities as chances to win rather than chances to be humiliated – the kind of person who feels happy and successful even when their life isn’t perfect – the kind of person who feels worthy of love.

Are you ready for a little death to your old way of thinking and being in the world?

If today is the day, I recommend you start with my free Back to Breath Challenge – you have to get comfortable being with and looking honestly at yourself before you’re willing to accept change on an experiential level.

And as always, when you’re ready, I’m here to help. Let me know what that voice in the back of your head is saying about this article down in the comments.

Learn To Surrender

Surrender means to give oneself over to something. The type of surrender I’m discussing in this talk is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it might be the greatest sign of strength. The ego doesn’t usually like to hear about giving in or surrendering, but one of the greatest teachings we can learn is to surrender.

This practice is learning to allow your ego to surrender to what is. No experience is bad when we learn to drop the conflict around a situation. That conflict is the ego’s desire for things to be other than they are. Surrendering to what is is the dropping of the ego for true experience.

Surrender implies awareness, because we need to know what to surrender to. Learn to ask yourself what you’re feeling, that brings about awareness. Then the trick is allowing yourself to be the thing you’ve become aware of, to be what you feel. Often this will seem counter intuitive: I don’t want to be sadness; I don’t want to be anger; I don’t want to be cold. But learning to be these things, even when that isn’t what you want to be, is true surrender. It is waking up to be what you are. That is surrender, and it can change your life.

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/LearnToSurrender.mp3]

Turning Subject Into Object

Turning subject into object is both a concept and a practice. In this talk I discuss the difference between inner and outer experience and how that relates to subjective and objective experience. We need to define perspective – subjective experience is what I identify as “me”. Objects exist within my awareness, but are not “me”.

An interesting point to note here is that even things I identify as me can be objectified. I have a foot, but I am not my foot. My foot is still me on some level, but I am able to objectify it. That ability to objectify internal experience is important.

If we find we are angry, that is our subjective experience. Turning subject into object would be backing up from that anger with a question: What am I right now? That shines the light on our experience and objectifies the anger. We can’t see the subject, we are the subject. But we can see things once we objectify them.

You may say, but Rob, I see myself get mad all the time. That’s true on two levels: One level is that you flip between subject and object to some degree all the time, and the other is that you see it now, when we’re objectifying it together. But learning to do this as a practice can lead to profound change in your life.

Who is the self that backs up from the subject to objectify it? That is the age old question. Another question to ask is which of these perspectives is self? That really depends on whose talking. Self can mean egoic separate sense; or it can mean, in some Indian traditions as an example, the cosmic oneness. We can get lost in words very quickly here. But the aware self in the background is what is often termed either just “awareness” or “authentic self”. Ego would normally be considered the smaller self.

The practice of mindfulness is a subjective experience, practice of awareness is an objectified experience. We need to do both. When you are angry, you are smaller. When you are aware you are angry (have objectified the anger, but not dissociated from it) you are larger. You are the anger and potentially the solution.

So how do we make the subject the object? We use introspection, questions, and cultivate awareness. The desire to see what you are brings this objectivity to the situation. We see as objects what we are. This is the practice of meditation. What is arising for me in this moment? We can make a practice of it, or we can do it when we realize we are unhappy.

Just the simple action of making the subject the object allows us space for change.

Referenced: Integral Theory

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/TurningSubjectIntoObject.mp3]

Dealing with Death – Ours and Others

We lose loved ones all the time. We hope for an afterlife. The self wants to grow and be powerful and young. It is completely opposed to it’s own extinction. So there is fear and panic around the thought of death for many. In fact, many people can’t even discuss it. But all living things seem to pass away. How do we deal with that?

Today we’re going to talk about death of the body, but also death of the self. We’ll talk about how meditation relates to death, and how putting your life in perspective can be meaningful. We’ll talk about the death of others and how to deal with that. We’ll talk about the desire for an afterlife, and how death really makes everything deeply meaningful. Death is a part of life, so let’s talk about it.

We’ve discussed in the past, that we are not only self. We are also in some way connected to everything. Can that other identity help us deal not only with our own death, but also the death of others, and finally other types of change as well?

All living things die. But we can expand the idea of death from there. Situations die, friends change, we get divorced. All of these things are mini-deaths. We “die” in a different way as well. I am not the same 10 year old boy I once was. That boy is gone forever. So we are all changing. Everything is in a state of change. Death s a kind of change.

Meditation actually teaches us a death of self. We are putting down the ego and just identifying with the big mind. You obviously don’t actually die, and you can retain your “self” as much as you wish, but each time you enter this other mind, you will see it is a death of self in that moment. You will find that this type of practice can change you fundamentally. It can make you more able to deal with change, and hence your own death, and the death of others.

Truly being in the Now is about not thinking about the future. The entire thing is to watch the mind that wants to leave this moment. So in that, the Now becomes much fuller. Our entire attention is on it, and it becomes rich and thick. The understanding of this type of mind leads spiritual leaders to talk about eternity. Many talk about no death, in the death of self. So the temporary idea of you, or your ego, dies in that moment. And what is born is a fuller understanding of timelessness, or eternity.

Pulling away from your life and looking at it on a time line is very helpful and can put your life into a different context. Often we find ourselves just drifting along, but all events are precious, so it can be useful to find that context and check in.

There’s an old saying, or it might have been a viral email that went around way back, about filling a jar with a marble for every year of your life expectancy, and removing one on your birthday. It shows the significance of our lives. That could potentially give a deeper context to your life as well.

The desire for an afterlife comes from the mind that that is unhappy and wants salvation. It also may have been used as a carrot and stick for controlling people. But whether that’s true or not, it is really important to expose the mind that craves a better future, the ultimate of which would be a glorious afterlife.

We think that to stay moral, our culture needs to be held in a “proper space” with the appropriate carrot and stick. Meaning, if I were to take away the idea of living a good life being the thing that gets us into heaven, people might begin to behave poorly because there’s no point in behaving well. The idea of putting down the external carrot and stick scares many people. They immediately image anarchy and insanity ensuing from removing those guidelines. But a sincere morality comes from seeing the beauty that’s here, not a future hoped for beauty.

We need to become OK with who we are, without the hope for a prize. Because fear of not getting the prize does not work as our motivation. Fear based morality will not work. The example of extremists who die to get to heaven also cause great pain and suffering. They want the “prize” too much. Their morality is quite different, but also belief based. Either type of morality doesn’t seem to be working. To be clear, I’m not attacking peoples beliefs necessarily, I’m just saying that the mind that thinks about salvation, or hopes for it, or gets attached to it, is not the healthiest mind. It is ego based, and fear based. Seeing the beauty right in front of us, rather than being controlled by fear will work much better.

Death of others is very hard to deal with. It is very hard to lose a family member or loved one. We are attached to permanence, which doesn’t exist. This is a fault of the egoic mind. While losing things we care about will always be hard, I want to point out that the natural desire for permanence can make dealing with death and change even more difficult. If we realize that nothing is permanent, then we don’t have unrealistic expectations around things like a loved one dying. We need to learn to face non-permanence.

Fear of death and the unknown is enormous. But death makes everything matter. Living forever would take value away from lots of things. You’d be able to take literally forever to master things, so being a master chef as an example would have little meaning. We’d constantly be approaching everyone knowing everything, with no risk because we’d have forever to fix any problems, etc. It would be a very different existence for sure. Certainly different than most people would fantasize. Death is a part of life, and it is something we’ll do well to get more comfortable with.

Show Music: Live At Tonic by Christian McBride

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/DealingwithDeatOursandOthers.mp3]

To Think or Not to Think

When is it okay to think?

When something makes you angry, there are two healthy ways to deal with it. You can become still, or you can investigate the situation using your mind. So at what point should you use your mind or thoughts to work with a situation? You should use your mind when you are aware you are using your mind.

What I am trying to convey is that thought is okay, it just needs to be conscious thought. So what is conscious thought? Thought that sweeps us away into a busy mind is an example of unconscious thought. Working out a problem, finding patterns, working with logic, setting appropriate boundaries on certain levels, using judgment to discern things are all good uses of the mind, as long as we are aware we are doing it.

Challenges will not stop. Neither will “good” and “bad” emotions, feelings, situations, etc. When we change, the world still comes, but we can deal with the world differently. By being detached from the ego, we can free ourselves of being upset that we are sad. So sadness doesn’t stop. Instead, we become okay with sadness.

Depending on how deeply in the world I’m going to live, the more things tend to define me. And hence, the more I need to protect. Be aware of what you are protecting. Be aware of what you are attached to.

Two sides of being alive can be described as thinking/experiencing, or thinking/being, or mind/body. Philosophers have discussed mind and body for ages. The goal is to have mind and body in the same place (here) at the same time (now). We could call the act of accomplishing that a higher state of being.

We don’t want to avoid things through meditation. The act of dropping thought is used to learn about thinking, and to show that thinking isn’t all there is. It is not used to abandon thought entirely. Krishnamurti’s book “Think On These Things” was mentioned to point that out. It was also mentioned that Krishnamurti often suggests “looking at things deeply” which implies using thought.

To sum up, it is okay to think when you are aware you are thinking. Thinking is a tool, and we need to learn to use it as such.

Referenced: Krishnamurti

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/robscott-audio/ToThinkorNottoThink.mp3]

The Ending of Problems

Our problems dissolve when we bring our attention and presence to them.

All problems are based in this one fact: We have become dissatisfied with our situation.

Once we are dissatisfied, we have two choices: 1) Try to bend the world to our will, or 2) surrender and accept the situation – bring presence to the situation.

Surrender is the same as bringing your attention back to the breath. It is very powerful, not weak.

Every time you are aware that you have a problem, bring your attention back to your breath.

Inner Becoming

Discussion on inner becoming, judgment, time and self. Mentioned J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle.

Talked about the illusion of being only in time and discussed that pure experience is escaping time. Judgment is the birth of self and time. We are not only separate, in judgeless experience we fall into oneness.

Referenced: Krishnamurti, Eckhardt Tolle

Discussion on Beliefs

A discussion of the importance in understanding what beliefs are and how they affect us. Beliefs are the filter we see our world through. We need to begin understanding their use.

Three ways to perceive the world: Truth, opinion, and belief. Truth is what is. Opinion is when we make a judgment of a truth and take a separate stance on the truth. Beliefs are when we erroneously treat opinions as truths.

There are many facets to life. There are levels of intention and perspective. Opinions can be used effectively to enhance performance on some of these levels. Referenced Ken Wilber’s book No Boundary about boundaries of self – body, ego, persona.

Beliefs are the most powerful ideas there are. Every war has been fought because of beliefs.

How do we watch beliefs? One way is with meditation. Beginning that is to watch when we get upset. That tells us that we are bumping into a belief we have.

Referenced: Ken Wilber