meditation · relationships

True Suffering

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photo by Colton Brown

Until I started studying spiritual philosophy, I had a narrow definition of suffering which encompassed mostly physical pain: headaches, cancer, childbirth, broken bones, etc.

But I have realized that suffering is really what we do to ourselves with our (negative) thinking. Anxiety is suffering. Depression is suffering. Guilt and regret are suffering. Worrying is suffering!

In the path to non-suffering, one essential practice (according to the Tao, Buddhists and other spiritual practitioners, such as Eckhart Tolle) is to refrain from resisting reality. For example, if you are planning an outdoor party and it rains as your guests arrive, you do not resist reality (the rain). Instead, you simply move the party indoors and continue your celebration. If you complain and cry out against the rain, will it stop? No. But you pollute the environment for those around you (family and friends) with your resistance.

I propose a concerted effort to watch one’s language in this pursuit: eliminate the words “I wish.”

“I wish it wasn’t so hot in Phoenix!” [forecast: 110°F today]

“I wish my children were better at (fill in the blank)”

“I wish my spouse/co-workers would…”

Wishing for something that is counter to reality is inviting misery, disappointment and anguish.

Health · Personal Success

Canine Consciousness

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Justin Veenema

Dogs embody the very concept of presence. They live for the moment, not worrying about the future or reliving the past.

They do not judge.

They do not form attachments to anything (OK, maybe their toys and treats). But they’re not attached to goals or ideas.

They do not resist reality. They roll with it.

Let’s try to emulate our best friend. Let’s try to stop judging, attaching and resisting reality. Let’s be fully present.

 

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success · relationships

Unshakable

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mercantile

I was shopping in a clothing store yesterday. I overheard one lady tell another, “Tag these before you put those away.” She said it in a very bossy and unkind way.

The other lady responded in a cheery tone, “Sounds good! I will definitely do that.”

Another command in a cold tone followed: “When you’re done with those, these need to be put away.”

“Got it! I will do it right away. No problem!”

For a second, I wondered if they were joking around. But there was no joviality or levity with the first lady. She was dead serious. The commands continued with the same enthusiastic, positive voice responding. They didn’t share a laugh. It was a genuine conversation with the junior retailer maintaining a positive demeanor.

The cheery saleslady demonstrated true persistence and integrity. Most people react to negativity with more negativity. In remaining unchanged, the lively retailer took responsibility for her own actions and her own feelings. She was unshakably positive. This is what is meant by “non-reaction” (Tolle). This is one of the keys to inner peace.

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success

Shrink the Critic

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by Farrel Nobel

I was eating in a Phoenix cafe at an open window. A very good-looking family of five walked past the window: mother, father, three small children. The father, dressed in expensive athletic wear (his shoes alone must have cost at least $300), stopped and pointed at a man across the street.

He gestured at a homeless man who was walking and muttering to himself. The wife nodded in agreement to whatever her husband said to her and they laughed as they went on their way.

The young father was judging a man who was clearly struggling by society’s standards. Why? Because the father’s ego was projecting a defense mechanism. Somewhere along the way, this man suffered an emotional injury. He hasn’t worked to defuse his pain (and accompanying anger) and is now spewing his garbage onto his family.

According to Mindful.com, the cure for the critic is to sit and examine your judgmental thoughts. Be aware of your thoughts. Take responsibility for them. Get to the heart of the matter. Defuse your pain and focus on gratitude. You’ll be happier and your loved ones will, too.

 

 

Health · Moms · Personal Success · relationships

Parenting Breakthrough

 

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Jon Flobrant

I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.

I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.

I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle.  I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”

The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.

Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”

“Great,” I respond.

“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.

“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.

Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.

She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.

She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.

I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.

She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.

I hang up.

She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!

I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”

I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.

Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!

So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.

It never pays to engage with her rage.

Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.

Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.

We hug.

I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · motivation · Personal Success

My “Space” Experiment

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Octavian Rosca

We are all so busy with life: our work, family, and hobbies. My job is very noisy. I’m a teacher in an elementary/middle school and the hallways are filled with children yelling and laughing from very early morning until late afternoon. My students and I have lively discussions and then there are meetings after school. My fellow teacher (and friend!) and I are also sponsoring the school talent show – another boisterous endeavor.

When I get home, my husband and I discuss our day, my kids practice violin and tell us about their day. It’s all good, but…it’s challenging – to say the least – to get some quiet time. And I LOVE, love, love quiet time.

 

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Kristina Flour

In addition to walking my dog after work and walking in middle of the day, I have started mini-meditations. In mini-meditation, I focus on my breathing. This might last 60 seconds or three minutes. I also meditate for 8 minutes in the morning right after waking.

Eckhart Tolle suggests the mini-meditations throughout the day in order to incorporate it as part of your “real” life and not as a compartmentalized portion of one’s life.

It makes sense.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve started this practice of incorporating space into my day, I am experiencing spontanenous moments of peace within chaos. Where I used to feel anxious or stressed, I feel calm and centered.

 

 

Health · Personal Success · relationships

Life Is Messy

 

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I was getting uptight again. My husband cut his hair in the bathroom and left little bits of hair everywhere. Little bits of hair lined the tub, the counter top and some hairs made it into my contact lens case.

My frustration felt old and tired. I wanted a change.

The present moment. I’m in the present moment! I am here. But it’s not just being here that’s important. It’s enjoying the present. I decided to like what I see… the hairs belong to my husband. He left a mess. So what?

Life is a series of problems and messes. Living successfully means handling them mindfully. Getting upset over the same thing repeatedly is a waste of time. If you can’t change it, you can accept it and choose to see it differently.