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Big Things From Little Changes or How to Have a True “Identity Shift”

Why is it so hard to make big changes in our lives? We all seem to want things to be different than they are. We’d like to lose weight, make more money, be more organized, eat better. In this talk I point out a couple of ways to help bring lasting change.

One of the ideas many people hold is that we change once. People often feel we’ll make one large switch, and then things will be different. I’ll go on a diet for a little while and THEN I’ll be the way I want. I’ll learn a new investment technique and THEN I’ll be wealthy. I’ll clean my whole house and THEN I’ll be organized. But in reality those changes rarely stick. To make changes stick we need at least two understandings.

First we need to realize that it is not one big change. It is a commitment to little choices over time that affect our lives in the long run. It’s not one diet, it’s choosing different foods over and over again. It’s not working out for two months for beach season, it’s committing to being healthy and fit going forward. And while these things may sound big and difficult, they are actually only done right now, and in small ways. Big change comes from little choices over time, not one big switch.

The other understanding we can use to make big change is to align our values with our goals. A diet is something we do temporarily. It isn’t who we want to be long term. Instead, learn to think of yourself as a healthy person, or even better, an athlete. Once you change your mindset like that, supporting that idea of yourself makes all your food choices easy. It becomes a way of life rather than a temporary fix. Rather than seeing yourself as a disorganized person who needs to be organized. See yourself as a deeply organized person. Instead of seeing yourself as a month to month pay-check person, see yourself as an investor.

By aligning our values with our goals, and realizing that it’s little changes instead of one big switch, we can make massive change in our lives, and those changes can last. These little changes lead to a total, transformative “Identity Shift.”

Song: The Changeling by The Doors

Do You Have A Practice

This talk is meant to suggest the importance of a regular meditation practice. The pull of the world, and the normal distractions and natural egoic self builders don’t remind us that we need to see that there is more than thought. There is experience. We can exist without our minds running all the time. We can train a state experience that fulfills us deeply and gives us many other perspectives on how to live, what is important, and how we can behave with one another. We need to practice daily however. We need to train the mind in this new way of understanding. If you are not training your mind, you may not see when you get lost again. You may not be as aware as you can be of your own belief structures that can limit and ultimately harm you.

Our world is aware for the first time of the entirety of itself. With our news media being global, we are able to see the natural horrors that occur from time to time. We also get to see, possibly too deeply, the unnatural horrors as well. Many people wonder what can we do about these things. What will help us understand these tragedies? We want to figure it out, with our minds. But I suggest that the best thing to do is to learn to put the mind down. Learn to sit in stillness.

As we see our own structures more and more, we are helping others resonate in that way. As humans become more aware of themselves, our language about what is important can change. The words presence, and stillness start to have more gravity. As we see ourselves, we see other people as well, and we might just notice when someone is in need of attention, or help. Disasters will continue to occur of course, but we can contextualize them, and perhaps not be as fearful of them because we can see that there is depth in sorrow, and joy in the ordinary. And that life is not set in any definite pattern.

If you are interested in self growth, I humbly suggest you commit to a daily meditation practice. The benefits are enormous. But more than that as a selling point, I want to say that if we talk about growing, but don’t do the work, we may still be just as lost as those that haven’t woken up at all.

Song: Soup by Blind Melon

From Clutter to Clarity

External clutter is linked to your internal state of mind. Ownership of things is part of what the self is trying to accomplish. It feels bigger and more important when it has more.

Because of this, we tend to let things define us. This is one of the problems of finding true happiness. Things decay. Nothing but change is permanent. Your car gets scratches. You kitten grows up. Your clothes gets stains or get worn out. A large part of us ends up attached to the identity of these things in our lives. But you are not only your car. You are not only your possessions. Understanding that tendency of self is very important. And rethinking our relationship to the things in our life can be very freeing.

I mention this to point out that our self is directly related to the things in our life. Self likes things. If growing your self is important (which it sometimes is for damaged people, like homeless people), then growing your things may be important as well. But if softening your attachment to self is important, then freeing yourself of things to some degree, or at least organizing them into what you really care about becomes very important.

Again, the external world represents our internal world. The busier we are in the mind, the busier our lives will look from an organizational perspective. Ultimately, it’s nice to have an accurate and orderly representation of our lives. But why is dealing with things and clutter so hard?

Many times it’s because of something called approach avoidance. We end up wanting to clean our clutter, but when we get close enough to see it, there is some pain associated with it and so we move on. We don’t want to clear our clutter because it is often too hard to deal with what that clutter represents emotionally. Often times we don’t see this consciously. That unconscious energy can be deeply draining.

This avoidance can come from pain, sadness, anger, or confusion. It could also be from apathy. You may like your stuff where it is, and if you do, that’s great. But if you don’t, then try to turn into the avoidance with commitment and courage. Once you clear some clutter, take note of how it makes you feel. That energy and clarity is powerful, and shows us that we’re much more in relation with the world than our mind would lead us to believe. We are not as separate from our things as we thought.

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

Goals That Make Us Happy

This show references an article in American Psychologist titled “Mental Balance and Well-Being – Building Bridges Between Buddhism and Western Psychology”. The idea of this talk is that goals, in and of themselves, are not bad things; but that choosing goals wisely is very important. When a sense of dissatisfaction is our reality how do we choose what goal to shoot for? What will make us happy and what will not?

What we are really looking for in life is stimulus free well-being. Science is proving that stimulus driven happiness doesn’t last. This is due to both the transient nature of things, and also our own mental imbalance and lack of understanding. Science is starting to see that true well-being comes from a state of mental balance that can be cultivated. We cultivate well-being in many ways, but the one idea that primarily fosters it is self knowledge and self awareness. Choosing to make well-being, and ultimately self awareness, our goal ends up being the goal that makes us happy.

This talk tries to explain the motion of desire, and our two choices. One choice is to satisfy the desire, and again science is showing us more and more that that doesn’t work in a lasting fashion. We always want more. The other thing to do is to make well-being our real goal. Once we realize that well-being comes from self awareness and mental balance, we can choose to examine the dissatisfaction when it arises. This doesn’t mean we don’t accomplish things or have external goals. It means we understand more and more clearly what really makes us happy and what does not.

Stimulus driven goals can be meaningful, but don’t lead to lasting happiness. Understanding this is a huge step toward greater wisdom and compassion in our lives. Examining our goals to see if they are stimulus driven can be an amazing exercise in helping us find happiness.

Referenced: American Psychologist

Making Changes – Intention, Hypnosis, NLP, Goal Setting

On the level of self and accomplishment, as we learn how our mind works, we can begin to use tools to achieve change and betterment in our lives. We can learn to focus better, make more money, lose weight, eat better, etc. Not only that, we can use the same tools to further our meditation and connection to being. There are many facets to living an optimal life.

We do want to be careful that we don’t get too attached to that betterment. Self and ego are attached to these wants, so we need to watch how we apply the tools I’ll be talking about today. But the tools are very useful nonetheless.

Today’s show will be a brief overview of the power of Intention Setting, Hypnosis, Neural Linguistic Programming, Hemi Sync, Goal Setting and Positive Thinking. All of these “technologies” affect our opinions and beliefs, and hence our perception of the world.

Referenced: Tony Robbins

The Gift of Trauma

Trauma is horrible, and we shouldn’t forget that. We all have trauma to one degree or another. We all have “our stuff.”

Trauma has the potential to widen and deepen our experience of pain. Which allows us to have a higher “high.” Imagine someone who hasn’t had much stimulation in either direction, good or bad. Their circumstances are not as wide and as varied to draw from. They have a skinnier history to draw from. So something somewhat “bad” seems potentially horrible – like gas prices going up. Whereas, someone who has lived through a rape, or a major car accident, might not be as affected by social issues. They care, they just have a different historical comparison to weight the situation against.

Trauma also allows us to see that we survived. We went through that stuff and are still here. It didn’t kill us.

This is not to say that we should look for trauma, or inflict it on others. Life brings enough of it on its own.

How does pain and trauma allow for growth? Well, let’s look again at someone who is sheltered. They never get the challenges to test themselves. The Buddha is the iconic representation of this. He left his palace to learn about life and pain. He was unsatisfied with being given everything. You, your kids, and loved ones will be equally unsatisfied. Have you seen wealthy kids at the mall who have everything? Nothing surprises them, nothing thrills them. They are bored. These kids may begin looking for trauma. They won’t know that’s what they are doing, but their boredom has the potential to make them look for thrills. Those thrills, in the form of drugs, etc. can end up giving those kids their share of pain. This is a stereotype used only to make the point that pain and growth is a part of life. We can use pain to stimulate our desire to live differently.

Pleasure and pain are related. In the spectrum of self, pleasure and pain mirror one another. To leave the ego realm of pleasure and pain, it can help to go through enough pain to say “I don’t want to live this way any more.”

It is really important that we process our trauma. We need to begin to work with our pain, and process it fully. We need to feel it, rather than run from it.

Our pain is the substance that we are supposed to traverse to grow. The more of it, the more we want to wake up from it. So as we hate it, from a certain point of view it is a blessing.

We can relax a little with our children and loved ones. We can realize that pain is a part of life, and that we need to allow for some of it to grow. It is often a dis-service to over-protect a child. Pain in general is there to wake you up. It’s asking for you to be present. To drop the valuation of the situation. To open your consciousness. This is how we can begin to kill the ego, or wake up from it.

Trauma can jar us free of the ego. It can re-prioritize our lives. Sadness, fear, and anxiety that is the result of trauma can become so loud that we want to put it down. Without that pain, we might never have woken up. We can become sick of being unhappy. That is a very healthy state to be in.

So how do we want to relate to our trauma? Do we want to be fearful of it, or realize that we’ve been through it, and we’ve beaten it? It’s important that we don’t continue the cycle of abuse. It’s our responsibility to end the cycle of abuse.

Show Music: The Shanghai Restoration Project