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This Path is Not Easy

Everyone listening to a podcast like this is trying to better themselves. I want to commend all of you for trying to do that. This work is difficult, and not enough teachers say that’s the case. Many sell this path as an easy fix for people. It can often be very difficult. Meditation is hard. Being authentic is hard.

The big point of this talk is that learning to be authentic brings up difficult things to deal with. You end up seeing that there is potentially a lot to change in your life. Our unconscious lives leave large patterns and situations that we see are not authentic. Examples include: relationships that are codependent and messy, the tools we use to deal with life can be destructive, our work may be dissatisfying, etc. It can be very scary and difficult to deal with these situations once they arrive.

So why do we choose to do the work? One reason is because we have to do it. There is something in you that is searching. You wouldn’t be listening to this podcast or reading this blurb if that weren’t the case. Something in you knows that there’s got to be more. Once we start looking at ourselves, our belief systems, our own inner becoming, we notice that on some level there’s a lack of authenticity in our lives. So truths begin to open up to us. We can’t go backwards. Once we’ve seen that our life isn’t authentic, we can’t unlearn that.

Other reasons we do this work is because we find our joy in different places now. We learn not to fear “bad” situations or “bad” emotions. We become courageous. We become whole. However, you may not get the same pleasure from old things: TV shows, drugs, drinking, overeating. In fact, that lack of satisfaction may have started happening before you knew you were beginning this work. That dissatisfaction is what ends up making people search more deeply.

Disconnect, which is a huge tool for dealing with life situations, may not feel the same. It may not bring the same “peace” it once did. You will, at times, miss it. It has been what you’ve used to deal with many of life’s problems thus far. Instead, you’ll now rely on presence, and being true to your feelings.

Teachers often imply that this path is simple and natural; and that the now is always available. That is true, it is easy, but it also can be hard… to find the easy. It’s not a long path to this moment. It’s always right here, and yet we still miss it. Being authentic can be hard. Be courageous. Keep working. You might find there’s not much else to do.

How to Stop Worrying

Worry has become an epidemic.  We seem to almost always have a background sense of worry.  Worry means to feel uneasy or concerned about something; to be troubled; to cause to feel anxious, or distressed.

All worry is the same thing and we need to learn what it really is: An irrational habit of imagining a future that often doesn’t come. We ruin this moment when we worry.  We think we’re helping ourselves by planning for the worst, but it’s a very negative, and unhealthy way to live.

We can see that worry is useless.  Once we see it’s uselessness, why would we ever let it affect us again?  The next time we are deep within a situation, we tend lose perspective.  We think that the new situation is the most important situation ever.  “If I don’t get this work done, my boss will be upset.”  Often our fears are not even true, but even if they are, it often doesn’t matter as much as we think.  We end up being irrational about the consequences.

Does your worrying about something help the situation?  I bet you work better, faster, and more accurately when you’re calm or in the zone.  Worry tends to lead to mistakes.  So it’s a very illogical place that we find ourselves:  1) we’ve created a small situation (not an earthquake tsunami, but rather filing papers!) to worry about.  2) We’ve chosen a less effective state of mind to deal with whatever “problem” exists.  This is a horrible habit and a huge error for humans.

Examples of worry include things like our safety (staying away from strangers), humiliation (work projects, being bad at something we have to do), etc.  When the thing worried about actually happens, the event itself is often no big deal.  Yet beforehand we act like the world will end.

The fix:  Learn to bring your attention back to your breath.  First realize you’re worrying, then drop it.  The practice of meditation helps learn to drop the situation.  There is no use in holding on to worry.  Worry is ALWAYS IN THE FUTURE.  It can’t exist here.  So bring your attention here to drop it.

From Form to Feeling

What is the definition of form?  I’m not sure I’ve seen as many different definitions for a word before.  On dictionary.com there are twelve different definitions before moving into forming and other variations of the word.  So what I’ll do is try to tell you how I mean it here…

In the total of experience, if we were to leave that as one thing, there would be no forms.  Forms then arise out of that oneness.  These forms are the things that we separate out, like people, cars, and trees.

So far, they seem to be separate “things” but I want to take that further.  They can also be ideas, and anything else we can name and feel separate from.  They can be a job.  A job has no physical form, but it has an idea form.  Anything that is not us and can be named can be called a form for the purposes of this talk.

A feeling is the experience of a situation, the form is the idea of the situation.  Another way to think of it is that forms seem external to us, and feeling seems internal to us.  All forms are in the thought realm.  Something becomes a form when we give value to a separate entity, giving it a name, etc.

Feeling is open and receptive; it is listening.  Form is naming, or talking.

Two points to make today:

  • There is a literal practice of bringing our attention from the form realm to the experience of feeling realm.
  • When we’re not doing that practice, we become very attached and sad unnecessarily.

We get lost in the idea, or form, of something.  We stick to it past it’s usefulness:

  • salaries – why do we stay in a job when we are unhappy?
  • cars – why do we think they’re beautiful?  What about them do we find beautiful?

“Attached to the idea about something” is how most of us live, but that’s not what we really want.  We want to feel good.  When I believe that money will do that for me I make money my entire focus.  That’s the error.  How many people do you know that are doing jobs they hate because they think they need money?  Do they really know how much money they need?  Have they spent any time trying to figure out where their happiness really comes from?  Wouldn’t that be a better use of their time?

One example of stopping the identification with form can be seen while playing sports.  We can begin to realize that playing a sport is done for the fun of it, not the score of it.  When we get mad at ourselves for scoring a certain way in a game, we’re stuck in the form world.

Another example is when we look at an expensive car and like it, but don’t know why.  We could say we are a little lost in the form world then.  Do we like how pretty it is?  The power in connotes?  Do we know what we like about it?

The fundamental shift is bringing our attention away from forms, beliefs, values, to the feeling of situations, and dancing between those two states.  Ultimately. we could realize that the feeling of a situation is what we really want.

Somewhere we’ve gotten lost in the idea of things instead of the feeling of the moment.

The Beauty of an Itch

In this talk we widened the definition of an itch to include not only physical itches, but also emotional and mental bothers as well.

How can an itch be beautiful? We described actually enjoying an itch. Diving into the feeling without judgment allows us to experience itches in a different way. Energy then actually becomes literally beautiful.

Another way to see the beauty in an itch is to realize that they are the largest anchor there is. We use bothers, and itches as reminders to bring our attention back to the moment, back to our breath.

We don’t want to be itch free, we want to be itch proof. The itches don’t stop coming, so being itch free is unrealistic. But we can learn to be itch proof. We can be strong, and fearless. We can learn to sit through bothers.

Itches actually become the beauty of life. To start, we need to become aware of what we sit through now and what we run from. We need to become honest with ourselves about what moves us around.

Itch/scratch is the iconic representation of pleasure and pain. The immediate urge to “scratch,” or the rushed push to fix a “problem” is one of our most limiting qualities. The itch is a bother and we want it gone. That very behavior, in its many facets, is our core problem.

We need to learn to become awake when things bother or itch us. Introduction to anchors was one easy way of staying connected, but the biggest anchor is the itch itself. We should learn to deal with itches, bothers, and problems rather than run from them.

We can and should scratch an itch when our attention should be elsewhere, like a conversation. Just try to be mindful when we do. But while we should be kind with ourselves, we can also be honest and realize that as we are bothered to scratch we are at times asleep. We can learn, “Oh, maybe I should have watched that itch for a bit. Maybe I could have learned from that.” We will see as we become more honest with ourselves that we are at different times more asleep than we thought.

Show music: Consolidated Mojo by Billy Boy Arnold

Using Anchors

What are anchors? The dictionary defines an anchor as something that is the source of security or stability. I’m discussing using things that occur in the world as reminders to bring your attention back to the moment, or back to awareness.

Examples of anchors are things like:
Going through doorways.
When we walk somewhere.
When we listen to people.

Why use anchors? It is a way to bring stillness into the everyday experience. Many people learn to meditate on a seat, but have difficulty bringing that peace into the world they live in. Using anchors is the beginning of that practice.

Stillness is available anytime. Use anchors to learn that truth.

Busy Mind Defined

Audio track mixed to describe a busy mind.

First step of dealing with a busy mind is to become aware that it is occurring to you.

Next step is to bring your attention back to your breath.

There are many things that make up a busy mind. Emotions, anxieties, fears, joys, etc. You can go down each path to work with your mind, but it’s most important to learn to drop your thoughts. Drop all busyness, even though it may feel like you need to work on the content, it is ok to drop thoughts.

Do we want to spend all our time “busy,” or would we rather find peace and sit in that? We need to learn to be fulfilled.

Busy mind leads us to do things to “ease our pain” in excess (such as watch TV, drink, smoke, etc.). It’s important that we learn the middle path between fixing our problems externally with “aspirin” and sitting with discomfort. We need to learn when to stop chasing our problems.

Who do we really want to be? Would we rather free our minds and grow, learn, and express? Or do we want to let our minds run on and on endlessly?

Be Where You Are

A discussion that begins to talk about ways and times to bring presence into the world. If you practice meditation, these methods will be a good extension of that practice. If you don’t meditate, this will be a good introduction to what meditation is and can be used for.

Mentioned Thich Nat Han and his discussion of doing the dishes mindfully rather than with a busy mind. Also discussed eating mindfully.

Untrained minds will have difficulty being where they are.

Anchors are things that remind us to bring our attention back to the present moment. They remind us to wake up. Anchors discussed in this talk include: Waiting in traffic, waiting in line, eating, doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc.

Gave a brief introduction and instructions on how to do walking meditation.

Lastly, mentioned that if we don’t learn how to be contented where we are, we will never learn to be contented at all.

Referenced: Thich Nhat Hanh

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.