A Few Simple Steps: The List
It came to me to compile steps that may be useful to the growing number of people seeking to know them Selves, or to Awaken, become Enlightened, or just get some damn peace. We’ll just call it “The List” for the sake of ease. Hopefully these will help “you” as much as they did “me.” (Preface everything with “In my experience.”)
1. Notice - Practicing mindfulness, or becoming the witness of your thoughts, is one of the most powerful things you can do (or not do). It seems like it takes work to start paying attention to the thoughts you have always been so attached to, but it’s less of a doing and more of an allowing.
2. Allow - When something (a life event of some sort) happens, we automatically allow and recognize it right away. Judgement comes a second later to, inadvertently, disguise that something as good or bad. That’s where the change happens and a story is born that takes you further from the truth. Knowing that you already allow everything isn’t enough, though, because judgments are what the unconscious mind is made up of. We have to consciously accept the things that would ordinarily upset us in order to transcend judgments. To do so we witness our thoughts, or physical reactive patterns, and train ourselves to notice those cues from the Universe. This is also part of the witnessing (re)training program.
3. Accept - At first I thought Accept and Allow were the same, but there is a fine line distinguishing the two of them. Allowing means that you’re admitting that what has been done, has been done, which can leave one feeling a bit detached. This is like the phrase, “It is what it is,” that I’ve been hearing lately. I find it encouraging to see a more non-judgmental way of thinking manifesting through this simple phrase, but full acceptance is deeper than that. In full acceptance, the true depth of the inevitability and necessity of this moment is experienced. A relaxation occurs naturally as we realize the fruitlessness of arguing with what has already happened. Regardless of what we believe, it had to be this way, right here, right now. From this realization, a sense of appreciation or gratitude can arise naturally. Not necessarily gratitude for what’s happened, but a gratitude for the realization that it had to be this way, and that no amount of trying on your part could have made a difference. What a relief. Now I can be more present and not dwell on the past.
4. Present moment awareness - Acceptance applies to the Nowness of the present moment, the isness of Now. The thing is, the Now is the only thing that can be fully accepted because there is no room for judgment in the present moment. When it comes to practicing being present in your life, there appears to be a continuum of depth. First, we use mindfulness to recognize when we are playing out past and future in our minds, then bring our attention back to the Now. This helps us create more peace by gradually disassociating from the stories we tell ourselves. On a deeper level, when we are Fully Present, judgment ceases to exist and everything is seen as being new and fresh, totally unclouded by the past. Then, and only then, can the miraculousness of an ever changing world be fully recognized. The Joy of Being is born out of the recognition that nothing is real outside of this moment.
5. Remember - It seems almost contradictory to remember (Latin root “Call to Mind”) to be present because it uses our “mind” to look at what’s beyond it. But the mind is an indispensable tool, even when it comes to transcending itself. Realizations, awakenings, etc., become tangible thoughts that can be conveyed in words, even if the words fall short of the simplicity of Now. “Just this.” Remember that there is just This. You are always fully present and aware of your existence. We’ve been in forgotten mode so long that it feels like we never knew it to begin with. Just remember the simplest pointer(s) that work for you. They will undoubtedly change as the journey unravels before you. Leave yourself notes if you need to, just to remind yourself that all there is is Now, and that all is well. Always!
6. Gratitude - There is so much in this Universe to be grateful for that you don’t have to look far to find 10 things. The mere existence of this planet is miraculous, not to mention that you exist to enjoy it. Even if you find something “wrong” or “bad” about a given situation in your life, from terrorist attacks to car accidents, it is impossible not to find something positive that came from that. Once you start to see the “silver lining” you start seeing it everywhere. Gratitude for your pure existence is enough, but your existence is not separate from the existence of the whole, which means gratitude becomes universal. Look at the silver lining without feeling guilty about overlooking the “negative” in any situation. There are enough people around to focus on the negative. Let them do their job. They don’t need your help.
7. Compassion - It comes with the understanding that things could not be any other way. People could not be any way other than they are. If “you” were in “their” shoes, having experienced their life, then you would be doing/saying exactly the same thing. When we’re unconscious, we are just playing out a story and have no choice to change it, even if we pretend to. You are them, and they are you. The Awareness that is looking through your eyes right now, is the same Awareness that is looking through their eyes right now. The shell and the mind are the only differences. Compassion and empathy are at your finger tips at all times. A simple shift in awareness is all it takes to forgive all.
8. Stopping - What’s the hurry? Stop frequently, if only for a split second. Waiting half a second before responding to someone can dramatically improve communication. It’s not like stopping to think about what you are going to do or say, though that might happen. It’s about breaking routine and habitual action. That momentary pause gives us a quick dip into presence, which allows a lot more positive actions to manifest. Take a deep breath if it helps bring the world to a seeming halt. Take frequent stop breaks throughout the day, a couple of seconds here and there just to be still (mentally and physically).
9. Self Forgiveness - Spiritual seekers (a.k.a. people who want to be happy) may find a road map in the form of words from a spiritual teacher, and that be just what they need. We seem to stumble upon teachings right when we need them, and we pick up the ones that resonate with us and leave the rest. In a lot of cases, we continue to follow the map, memorize it, look beyond it, find what we’re looking for, then apparently lose what we were looking for. Foretastes, glimpses, aha moments, awakenings, realizations, whatever you want to call experiencing Reality, leaves one with the knowing. That knowing then gets used as a yard stick to judge our current situation. If we’re not living that realization, then we don’t feel like we have it. Even if someone tells you that “it” can’t be lost, it may serve as a further damper on things because that is not your experience. The end result can vary from total disillusionment to disappointment to depression, or it can lead to a deeper level of acceptance and self forgiveness. Like it or not, it has to be this way. Your stress, anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, all emanate from a place of resistance to the way things are, and in many cases the way “you” are. When you’re an Ass and you know better, when you find yourself being judgmental, when you lash out, when you do stupid things, it’s important to remember that those things are also necessary parts of your path. Welcoming even your ugliest parts of yourself brings about peace. In fact, there’s no other way to. You have to accept and forgive your unconscious behavior, in order to overcome those last pockets of resistence that hide out in self judgment. Accepting what is, doesn’t stop “out there.” It’s ALL inclusive.
10. Commitment - It seems at times like there is an insurmountable amount of mind identification going on, and that we are constantly getting sucked back into our egoic behavioral patterns. As previously mentioned, that can lead to disillusionment unless accepted as part of your journey. Constantly seeking anything, whether it be the present moment or self acceptance, can lead to burn out. The thing is, you don’t have a choice but to continue doing what you’re doing. If you’re reading these words, then you have already been bitten by the “enlightenment bug.” You’re already committed to “waking up.” You’re committed to giving up a great deal, especially the seeking itself. Make a conscious commitment to allow Life to guide you. Commit to surrender your beliefs in the name of Truth. Commit to it ALL.