Free "Back to Breath" 7-Day Challenge Join Now

A Rainy Day in Philadelphia

Something a little different today. No talking. Just watching.

What do the faces say to you? Where do our minds go as we walk through this life? How many of us are really here, and when are we most here? There’s the pigeon, and the playing. The begging, and the pain… The energy underneath it all.

There’ll be more talking from me soon, but for now… It’s just nice to watch.

Song: From the Morning by Nick Drake

Mastering Perspectives

This talk is about mastering perspectives. It assumes that someone capable of seeing more perspectives is better informed, and more able to act appropriately, happily, and well.

There are many perspectives to any situation. Every moment there is your point of view, someone else’s point of view, and third person perspective as well. There are also historical perspectives, we perspectives, singular and plural perspectives, inner and outer perspectives, emotional perspectives, and even imagined perspectives. To simplify, there are many ways to look at things.

So the practice then becomes to relate as fully as possible to the moment by being aware of as many perspectives as possible. Learn all the different perspectives, and work to integrate them into your life. It may sound like a lot of work to do this, but it becomes very natural. Also, in the beginning, it may be useful to apply this only when in conflict. It’s a great tool to use when you’ve hit a wall.

I suggested learning about Integral Theory for a deeper understanding of perspectives. I also mentioned that “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” is really just an ancient perspective teaching. We’re not all aware that there are many perspectives, and we certainly don’t often act from more than our own point of view. Learning about and applying perspectives can help us grow.

Referenced: Integral Theory

Connecting to the Vine

How do we remember what to do when we feel lost in our daily lives? Metaphor can be a great teaching tool to anchor ideas into our reality. “Connecting to the vine” is a great way to describe connection to oneness.

What happens when a leaf gets cut away from a vine? It tends to wither and die. This talk discusses this idea as a spiritual metaphor. If we consider the expression of oneness as the vine, then our identification with self is cutting ourselves off from that vine. While identification with self can feel quite cut off, it is often called an illusion because we can never leave oneness. We can only identify away from oneness, not actually be away from it. Changing our identification back to experiencing life directly, we reconnect with the vine.

It’s simple to do. We can use times when we’re stuck in line, or in a traffic jam, to bring our focus to the physical sensation of life and reconnect to being. We can make the effort to truly listen to coworkers, instead of thinking of what we’ll say next. This allows us to be present while with others. Whenever we need to walk somewhere, we can bring our attention to the physical sensation of walking to bring ourselves back to the vine of being. And of course we can chose to allow a more formal space for connecting to the vine through meditative or introspective practices.

In this talk I also discuss Jesus and the idea that he was the expression of being connected to the vine. If we change our concept of Jesus from needing to go “through him” to understanding that he was showing us “how to be” connected, we can actually begin to emulate how he lived. If we leave it as an idea, we won’t be able to express his love.

Referenced: Jesus

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.

The Next Evolution of Man

Today I want to discuss evolution. There are many ways to think about evolving:

  • Individual evolution, societal evolution, human evolution
  • Evolutions like Homo Erectus to Homo Sapien, etc.
  • Agricultural age, to Industrial Age, to Information age
  • An individual growing through identification with self to identification with society
  • etc.

A good definition of evolution is this: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

What is the type of evolution I’m talking about today? Making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Humans would need to learn to be the expression of presence and stillness. We don’t need to stay in that space all the time, but we need to learn about it and make it a larger part of our lives.

Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

We have made massive technological changes. Those can all be thought of as external. We’ve learned to bend the world to our wishes to a certain extent. Learning our own minds, learning about time and how we relate to this moment would be an internal evolution. The external changes and progress can and will continue, maybe even faster than it has to date.

Fostering stillness is where the mind needs to go. All of our problems arise out of attachment to concepts that come from being unaware. We need to understand that practicing stillness is a bigger deal than just dealing with our own simple problems. It is actually dealing with all problems. So it is important work that we’re doing.

The world I see involves all these evolutions (each one would be an evolution in it’s own right)

  • Much less need to express ourselves violently
  • Higher desire to appreciate and create art and live creatively
  • People become more physically healthy, because our joys won’t come as much from physically detrimental substances (smoking, drinking, drugging, eating poorly). Our joys will come from deep connections to being.
  • Corporations will learn to be much more sustainable and fair (both ecologically and to people)
  • Countries will come from a world view instead of a nationalistic view – lessening wars, learning to cooperate, etc.
  • People will base their lives and goals more on finding and sharing meaning, rather then gratifying self (what Maslow thought was the more rare expression of mans purpose)
  • We’ll have more technological advances as well because much of technology is creative
  • etc.

Again, making a habit of coming back to our breath is only the beginning of the deep shift I’m referring to. The evolution would need to be the significant shift in the capacity of the average human to express and hold onto the state of mind that lives outside of time. Stillness is more significant than just a way to deal with problems. It can have an amazing impact both on the individual, and also society.

PlayPlay

Bring It Back To The Breath

In this show I promise not to be too deep. Today I spend a few moments fostering presence with you. I open with a couple of conscious breaths, then onto examples of, and reasons for, bringing your focus back to your breath. I end mentioning that in regard to any learning, we deeply need to apply what we learn. Learning alone isn’t enough. Without application, it’s just spin.

Fostering presence will be the next evolution of man. Join in that evolution by bringing your attention back to your breath.

PlayPlay

Doing It In The Now

It seems many people want to get the idea of what enlightenment looks like.  We’re all trying to “figure it out.”  I get many emails discussing understanding these ideas.  This podcast is about doing them instead.

The “Now” has become very trendy.  So let’s not get lost in ideas about it.  We even have great philosophical minds telling us we don’t have time to be in the now, which is a bit ridiculous.  What I think they are saying is that we shouldn’t be trendy about the Now.

Because we can play with words and ideas and labels at this level we should see that we will never “figure it out.”  Rather we should look at the desire that we have to figure it out.  The idea of how to do this is less important than doing it.  Our minds want to become experts, and so we look at all the possibilities of “getting lost” so that we can be sure that we will win “when those things show up.”  But that state of mind is already lost.  The waiting, thinking, planning mind is exactly the mind we are trying to put down.

Someone comes across the idea of being at peace.  And they are listening to these podcasts, and trying to meditate.  And they realize they are not at peace.  The mind that is trying to get to peace is lost in time.  The mind that wants to “DO” peace is the mind that puts down expectations.  This may feel very unnatural to us.  We want to figure it out instead.

So when we “DO” peace, when we allow for peace of mind by coming to this moment, whatever it is, we are doing it “all the time”.  Because we start to realize that now is all there is.

The important concept is this: getting to this moment “is the end of it”, EVEN if we leave this moment.  Sounds like a cop out, and is hard to get your mind around, but it’s the truth.

So let’s look at the actuality of living in the Now.  We don’t care if we can do it permanently, because that is another idea.  We just want to do it now.  When we come to the Now in this moment (whenever that is), we realize that this moment is always here.  So that is all we have to do.  The mind will kick up again and say things like “You won’t be able to do that in the future.”  And that may even knock us off a bit, but seeing that once we DO come back, there is no tally of how long we’ve been gone.  So doing it now IS doing it forever.  Because the illusion is the mind that creates a future that doesn’t exist.

So doing it in the now is as simple as coming to what you are, your breath, this moment, the sounds, the fears, the whatever, without worrying if you can do it again later.  If you’re doing it now, you’re doing it forever.

Referenced: Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle

What Really Makes You Happy

Happiness comes from being.

All the things we enjoy (dancing, drinking, drugging, driving cars, watching sports, etc.), the parts of those things that bring joy are the “being” parts.  So what this means is that the things we chase don’t bring us joy or bliss.  We already have happiness inside us, we just need to learn to listen to it.

Just being is blissful.  If you start judging and call a situation bad or good, you’re not being anymore. You’re thinking.

Action that makes us happy does so even when we don’t understand presence because being pours in anyway.  How much better could it be if we learned to foster presence?  That is the state of awakening that everyone is talking about.  One, because you would be able to have more happiness in general. And two because, you become non-dependant on things.  Your job doesn’t bring you joy, your money doesn’t bring you joy, your relationships don’t bring you joy because you already have joy.  That is true freedom.  It’s our mistake thinking joy and happiness are outside us.

This is not to say that we only foster presence and don’t do things anymore.  Rather we continue to do many of the things that bring us joy and we learn to foster more joy from them.

We can become fearless because there is no way to take our happiness.  There is no way to separate us from bliss once we know where it comes from.

How Committed Are You?

Making any kind of change is very difficult when we aren’t truly committed to it. So what is commitment and how do we find it?

I see people use meditation and become spiritual all the time to feel better when they are sad. But they often drop the practice once things get better. Finding commitment is hard to do, but we don’t want to get caught in the common loop of: being in pain, working to escape it, forgetting we were in pain. We can’t really escape pain fully until we learn to stay committed to change through all seasons.

Can you practice stillness when the world is good too? Can you “sacrifice” to try to stay awake at all times? This is not meant to imply that being awake isn’t fun. It’s only meant to show that commitment is necessary for lasting change.

How can we stay committed? We can use anchors. We can surround ourselves with books and podcasts and ideas that support our goals. We can commit to practicing meditation. But what is the thing underneath? It might just be our pain itself. Finding your reason to stay committed is really important. What happened to you that got you started down this road? What pain happened to you? Make a point of holding on to that.

People often mention that we can’t change other people. I disagree. We are all connected and intertwined. A change from you affects me. So if there is learning, if there is change, then we can point to something. We can find the “ah ha!” we can turn on a light switch for people.

In this talk, the light switch is the idea that being committed makes change easy. Finding commitment can be hard, but once we find it quitting smoking, eating differently, losing weight, meditation, all become simple. So what’s your reason to stay committed? Make that an “ah ha!” for you. Create new grooves of thought. Be awake to your pain. Change.

The Different Meanings of To Be

I want to clarify what I mean by “to be” because it is actually more than one thing. It is both “to be – still” and also “to be – what you are.” This may be hard to stomach because these seem to be in opposition, but they are both really important. It’s actually many many layers, and facets of things to wade through. So let’s look for more language around this issue.

“To be still” implies working with the mind through concentration and space to “still” the busy mind. You might think of this as the Buddhist way of practicing meditation. It implies a lot of things: Peace, but also difficulty in finding that peace. It has a sense of carrot and stick to it: I’m not still now, and I want to be still. So time is implied. “I’m not what I want to be.” There is a part of us that is trying to grow. This is the part that realizes that need for growth. This type of practice is important. We could call this discipline.

“To be what you are” implies a looser idea, of “I’m OK” in any situation. So if you are busy, be busy. If you are still, be still. You could think of this in a more Taoist sense, or more “zen” if you will. Up is down, right is wrong, everything is OK. This sense is much less rational, but also very important. It’s being gentle with who we are. It’s also dropping expectations about what we are supposed to be. This is the state that has no conflict, even when “conflict” is there. Meaning, in this state, you are not trying to be anything but what you are. This is the awakened state. This you might call freedom.

So the discipline allows for the second freedom, in a sense. The discipline is hard, and the freedom is soft. They are two ends of a spectrum. The Buddha talked about the middle path, and this is what he meant. You can’t leave your mind too loose, it needs some discipline. It also can’t be too rigid, or you never actually sit in the space of freedom.

A mystical Christian might say that since everything is God, each moment is the expression of God right now. We should learn to be in alignment with that, and it takes forgiveness (being what you are) and a bit of discipline (learning to be still) to align with that expression.

So the practice of meditation is working with your mind to still it. But it is also the practice of forgiving, or allowing to be whatever is. You may sit and have a busy mind. That’s OK. You may sit and fall into a lot of freedom, that’s OK too. If you feel too loose, bring some discipline. If you find you’re being too rigid, loosen up. That’s the middle path.