Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment (Eckhart Tolle).

There is a conspiracy a foot to bring you to a point where you are experiencing eternal gratitude for everything you encounter. Everyone and everything you encounter are involved, from the person who cut you off in traffic, to the pile of dog poop you stepped in while walking in the park, to the person in the express line with more than twelve items, to the stranger who smiled at you on the street. Their aim is to remind you that all of your suffering is self created through your identification with thoughts. Thoughts are simply electrical impulses that occur in the brain and what happens in our lives is neither bad nor good until they are interpreted through thought.

All of our emotions are reflections of what we are thinking at the time. Frustration, anger, resentment and fear all happen as a result of our thoughts about a situation, not as a result of the situation itself. This is what our coconspirators are trying to tell us. If we want to be free of negativity, we can learn a great deal from them.

When we treat everyone we come in contact with as a noble messenger who is trying to protect us from our thoughts, we enable the conspiracy to work more effectively rather than fight it. Gratitude is the natural outcome. We then feel like giving thanks to all of those around us who have helped us on our journey, which is ultimately everyone.

Our free will enables us to choose whether to identify with our thoughts and take them to be the absolute truth, or to choose to realize that they are not who we are. Feeling gratitude is a choice we can make as well as our natural state of being concealed behind a layer of thought, which is why this time of year is so valuable. It reminds us to set aside trivial matters and connect with that state of gratitude that is in us all. As for me, I am grateful for the role you play in the conspiracy to bring about my realization and show my thanks by doing the same for you.
Happy Thanksgiving,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Profoundly Meaningless Words

I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for being a part of my email list, despite the fact that some of you may think I’m a bit off my rocker ;) . I think of each of you quite often despite the fact that I seem to only contact you when I’m contacting others. Some of you are familiar with the things I talk about in my emails and have had similar experiences or read similar books, and some of you have no interest what so ever and may even delete the messages when you see who they are from. However, after a friend of mine recently said that she could not meditate unless she was getting a tattoo, I realized that there are probably a large number of people I know who have never tried to meditate at all.

A day or so after that conversation, a very simple and profound meditation technique came to me that I have used before. However, this time I realized just how powerful and simple it actually is. I call it the Blah Blah Blah technique. So, whether you are an old pro at meditation or have never tried it before, I’d like you to take a moment right now to try this technique. You can either do it with your eyes open or closed, but you might want to do it with your eyes closed if you have never tried to meditate before.

Take a deep breath and relax any muscles that you notice are tense. Then think the words, “Blah. Blah. Blah” (don’t say them out loud). Pause a couple of seconds between each “blah” and pause for a few extra seconds after the third “blah.” Then repeat, “Blah. Blah. Blah.” Be the witness the thoughts. If it helps at first you can visualize the words spelled out in front of you as you think them. I also recommend that you pay attention to your body when you do it and relax any muscles you feel tense up.

While doing this, realize that You are not these thoughts. Instead, You are the awareness that “sees” these thoughts. Focus on that part of Yourself that realizes these are just thoughts. You are witnessing these thoughts occur. This creates a space between the thoughts and You. Once that space has been created you can rest with a still mind in that space, noticing any random thought that happens to go through your mind for what it is: a thought.

Take as long as you want to think and observe the “blahs,” but I would recommend spending at least 20 seconds or so. Then, I invite you to spend as long as you want resting in the space of silence you have created (maybe 5 minutes at first). If thinking the words helps you remain in the observer role, then by all means keep thinking them the whole time. Though it may seem silly and pointless at first, you’ve actually done something quite profound that most people never do. You have broken your identity with thought.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking moments so identified with our thoughts that we don’t even realize we are thinking. There’s nothing wrong with thinking, but when we are so identified with our thoughts that we loose ourselves in them, we become taken over by the mind (so to speak). By taking a few seconds out of the day a few times a day to do this practice, we break that cycle and connect with ourselves on a much deeper level.

It’s a great mental exercise and I recommend you do it when ever you feel stressed, worried, or realize that you are caught in habitual thought. You will likely begin to “catch” yourself thinking more often during everyday activities, which is a wonderful sign that you are becoming more present. As you begin noticing your habitual thoughts more often, you will probably find that blah, blah, blah summarizes them nicely.

When you do find yourself thinking a thought you would rather not be thinking, don’t scold yourself for it, just realize that it is a thought and nothing more. That’s all there is to do. In this way, this meditation can be done any time during the day or night without the need for the “blahs” simply by witnessing any thought that happens to be going through your mind.

There is another very simple and powerful technique that helps in day to day life which involves connecting with the body. It too can be done eyes open once you have done it a few times. Start by taking a deep breath and relaxing. Then, try to feel the tip of your finger. With your eyes closed, can you tell if it is still there? When you put your attention on trying to feel it from the inside, you can easily feel the aliveness in it either in the form of your pulse beating in it or even a tingly sensation.

Keep your attention here and then put your attention on your whole hand, then both hands. Once you feel the aliveness in your hands you can focus your attention on your feet, then proceed with other parts of your body until you feel the aliveness running through your whole body. Again, the point is to just spend a little time feeling the aliveness within different parts of your body from time to time throughout your day (without the need for needles being stuck in and out repeatedly). It is very simple and calms the mind dramatically. When you get more accustomed to the practice you can even maintain attention in some part of your body (such as your hands) while talking to someone, driving, or watching TV.

There are obviously hundreds of other ways people use meditation in their daily lives, but these are the two that I have found the easiest to use on a regular basis throughout the day. Connecting with your breathing and following the breath in and out is also a very easy and ancient form of meditation that I started out with a few years ago. However, the goal of all meditation is the same: To break the cycle of habitual thought and put us back in control. We then realize for ourselves that we are not our thoughts, which is truly liberating.
Be well,