I've always thought that we live in a "Have-Do-Be" world, a culture in which many people are stuck in thinking that the more they have the happier they will be.
But there is a catch; to have more, we "have-do" do more, to get what we want, to hopefully 'be" in that happiness.
The having and the doing often take a long time. Some get stuck in the “do-do” and do not enjoy the journey along the way, continually stuck in the unhappiness of not-having.
Happiness seems only to be enjoyed
when the goal of all the doing is achieved.
Even worse is the trap of equating the sense of self worth with what
they have (net worth equals self-worth) Those in this prison cannot
even rest and enjoy their accomplishments because they are not doing something to have more.
They cannot be grateful for having what they have. They need more, or something better or different than others. And since the having is not enough, the doing to have more, is endless.
They rarely gain the precious experience of just being without having to do or have some result. Some people even relegate their being until later…often tragically to the end of their lives or when they are too ill or infirm.
By then they are "being" too late.
Yes some of our satisfaction in life does come from achieving but a good portion can come from not doing anything.
For example: many of us have had profound experiences of the contentment that naturally arises from just being with the present moment the way it actually is eg. the experience of reveling in a sunset, connecting with a loved one or watching a child taking her first steps.
“Don’t just do something, sit there” Zen saying
So how can we be more present.
Well the first thing is we can watch our thoughts. Over time we will notice that most of our mental activity is spent ruminating about what we have done or didn't do in the past or worrying about what we won't have in the future.
It’s like there is a perverse taxi driver in our minds constantly driving us into the past or quickly into the future and never delivering us to our destination of the present moment.
“If you want to be happy, be." - Leo Tolstoy
We do not have to be a victim of that taxi driver.
The second thing we can do is to consciously choose over and over again to be in the past and then the future and then the present. Then feel the bodily sensation of the happiness of being in the present that spontaneously arises.
(For some people it can be a radical realization to suddenly realize that they do not have to do anything to be happy. Inner contentment is a function of doing nothing: just being.)
We can be in the past, future or present by choice not by chance.
Over time of practicing choosing, you will notice that happiness is gradually infusing your life; you are more heart-centered and grounded and more available in your relationships. Your presence will become more authentic and real as you dwell more in the present.
Personal presence is related to the present moment.
This is one technique of many.
There are more amazingly simple (and fun) techniques that can be acquired that can significantly get you out of your head and improve your enjoyment and happiness in life. I will be teaching these in the “Living from Presence” one day workshop.
If want to experience more inner peace and contentment, this workshop may be just the ticket.
Also if you have read about the Coming Home retreat and have wanted to participate but things like time, money and busyness have gotten in the way, here is a great chance to try out the self-inquiry process I use on this retreat. Its a one day event at a very reasonable cost to you.
Its Pay from the Heart ($25 plus a donation at the end).
Check out the Living from Presence one day workshop:
I don't know about you but there are many times during the day I notice my mind acting like an errant tourist on vacation wandering up and down the streets of fantasy gazing into the shop windows of the future and the past, pulling me out of the focus of what I need to do in the present moment.
Sometimes the tourist becomes a terrorist torturing me with old thoughts of uncompleted conversations, ancient regrets or future worries that keep re-cycling over and over in my head.
They can seriously impact my peace of mind. Sometimes it feels like I am spinning my wheels and getting stuck in a rut that gets deeper and deeper making it even more impossible to escape.
In fact modern brain science has confirmed this. Dr Amen in his book The Brain Warrior's Way says: "The neurons that fire together wire together."
So every time one thinks of an incident in the past or a future concern, the same cyclical thought pattern is automatically engaged.
Ancient meditation practice refers to this phenomena as "Monkey Mind" and has offered solutions to this problem by distracting the mind's undisciplined focus on the past or future with concentration on something in the present such as a mantra, a picture of the guru or attention on the breath.
In my own research one thing that I have discovered is that the brain really likes music. Given an option to focus on a thought or a musical selection it will choose music every time. Being a musician I gravitate to this.
A song that has engaging, uplifting or even funny lyrics has a double whammy: it is musical and has a thought that replaces the re-cycling thought of the terrorist mind.
Not only that but the music combined with the message of the song positively alters my mood.
I have found that singing the chorus of a song over and over almost instantly gets me out of these mind loops and gets me back into present time focus.
Find your own songs but if you like, here are a couple of the favorites I use. Just click on the title:
(Warning: You may bust your gut on this one)
I'll be writing a few more blogs on this subject in the future so stay tuned.
If mind mastery is of interest to you, check out this upcoming retreat. It is one the important trainings you will receive.
We all make mistakes in close, personal or career relationships. These mistakes can hurt others deeply and destroy in an instant the trust we have so carefully developed over a long time.
We all come into relationships wounded and vulnerable. Sometimes we do things that are insensitive out of our own unhealed pain or be unaware of how delicate our partners are around certain wounds that they are carrying.
We are not 100% fully conscious of others so it is inevitable that others can be hurt by our actions. It is part of being human but it must not be an excuse.
What we do in this situation can bring trust and even greater closeness back. On the other hand to ignore our transgression can ruin close relationships and friendships.
Three Powerful Words
Ever notice what happens when you ask a child to do something they don’t want to do? Their energy just suddenly seems to vanish and they drop to the floor and whine:
“I don’t want to do the dishes. I’m too tired”.
But when you say:
“Okay how about after you do the dishes, we go on the internet and download that Harry Potter movie you wanted to see again?”
Notice how suddenly the energy is back.
Where did it vanish? How did it come back?
Its always been there.
It comes and goes depending on our interest.
It’s the same with us.
When we are doing something in life we don’t want to do, the energy fades.
We have to push ourselves to do it.
If we push over and over again, we have to find external ways to get that energy back…
5 cups of coffee, double cream, double sugar.
Lots of vitamins
The whatever-hour energy drink
Then we have to take something to relieve some of the despair.
Lots of TV
Too many healthy dark chocolate bars (I speak from experience here)
The body can start to breakdown forcing it to do what is deflating the soul.
We get stuck in believing life is just a "dirty ritz a-frats" meaningless game.
But out of this pain comes a turning point.
We start to search.
We decide to find to out what our lives are really all about, what really turns us on, what we should be really doing i.e. the BIG QUESTION:
Why am I here?
We find when we get clear on our life purpose, something really funky happens... our energy comes back. It’s what's called inherent motivation i.e. the impulse to create our life arises from the inside.
Not the outside.
Where there wasn't energy...now there is.
Having a purpose is just naturally satisfying because we are magnetically drawn to want to accomplish it. It excites and energies us.
We become more engaged. Life has meaning as we see that we consistently accomplish the steps toward our purpose. The best parts of ourselves emerge to face and overcome the barriers that have defeated us in the past.
We become more of who we truly are.
“He who has a why to live for can bear any how.” Frederick Nietzsche
I don’t know about you but to me one of the biggest regrets is to live not knowing why we are really alive. Imagine a person realizing this on their deathbed?
When we know our purpose, life can become a project worthy of our passion not a huge problem to avoid,
Hey and we can save a lot on those energy drinks!
If this in some way relates to you check out the Deep Calling retreat:
One of the hardest things to cultivate in life is our relationships with friends, business colleagues and loved ones.
We can easily get upset with one another and when we do; our feelings are so tender and sensitive. We can get over-reactive and raise our voices and say things we regret or we can under-react and go silent and withdraw.
The Difficult Dance
It’s a difficult dance between communicating honestly and at the same time trying to not hurt others. It’s so easy to err in either direction even when we mean well. We may communicate our truth with too much emotional charge and hurt the one we love or hold back our real feelings and then feel that we have compromised ourselves.
Sometimes we think we know what is going on with others, we tell them and they feel judged.
Oppositely we can feel that others should somehow know what we are going through and we get angry because they don't. Upset increases and we start interrupting one another. The the interruption adds fuel to the fire and pretty soon we get burned pretty bad.
The problem is not so much what we know or even worse what we think others know about us. It’s what we don't know.
Knowledge is not the problem. Lack of knowledge is. The solution is understanding.
Over the years I have found one question to be extremely helpful when things go wrong in relating to others. It is wonderful simple question.
"Tell me what you want me to understand about __________" and insert the subject. (your job, your weight, your health, your lack of energy, your sadness, etc).
You sit down, ask the question, tell your judgements to take a hike, be quiet and listen.
When you don't understand something that's being said fill in the blank with the thing you don't understand and ask the question again.
Don't stop until you have fully understood. When they are finished repeat back to them what you understood. When they say you got it, there will be a remarkable shift. The tension will be vastly reduced.
You will have achieved something called mutual understanding.
You received exactly what they communicated and you both recognized it was the same thing. Its remarkable and delicious...food for the soul.
Then you ask the person if they will listen and you tell them what you want them to understand about yourself.
Try this out and see how this works.
It’s a miracle to behold...you know why?
The Big Thing Going On
It’s because it’s the big thing going on in life. It’s the big purpose... the whole she-bang. We want understanding...understanding about everything...you, me, us, life, love, truth, existence. We are in life going for it 100%.
It’s not what we know that's the problem it’s what we don't know...about ourselves and others.
Once we achieve mutual understanding with another then we can proceed to make decisions to solve the problem. Trying to solve a problem before we understand what is really going on, can be a fatal mistake.
We end up making it worse.
There is a certain clarity that has arrived from knowing you
You are a radiant gift
And do not realize that you are
The Breath of Life that speaks of profound joy and happiness
Innocent, yet lost in the world outside yourself
You long to be seen, yet you hide yourself
I see you because I am you
There will be no hiding…for you cannot hide from one who knows
It is time to remove the armor of your own thoughts of yourself
Release yourself from the thoughts that others have thrown upon you for they equal only to
the thoughts that your mind has created to hold you back.
It is only this that stops us all from going Home
From BEING in the Bliss of the all Knowing
Release the heart and stop the unfriendly chatter of the mind and BE HERE with me
Strip naked and expose your beauty
Lie next to me in the open field
And Trust the Love that shines upon you always
It has not forgotten you
You have forgotten it, along with your Self
Make a friend of your mind
Forgive yourself and all others
There is NO SHAME in this Love
It is free of Guilt and Shame
It only knows the “you” in the pureness of the Source of all life
There are no errors here
Trust is all you need.
(written after participating in an Enlightenment Intensive (aka Coming Home Retreat) in May 2017 near Vancouver
The Story of Your Heart
Tell me the story of your heart
It is much different than the other stories you have told
Its springs from the hills
Off in the forest
And flows to the valley
Through the coltsfoot, the fern and the wild ginger root
Through the bubbling pool
Where the whitetail deer quench their thirst,
To the deep pond
Where the brooke trout dart
And the cattails clamour
To hear the bullfrogs burp their blathering conversation.
I will sit by the edge
Gazing at the still cool water reflecting the evening stars
And revel... in the grandeur
Of who you are.
Russell Scott (05.2014)
A number of years ago, I owned a spiritual retreat centre business called the Ecology Retreat Centre. It’s still near Orangeville in a beautiful rural area of Southern Ontario. There are a few cabins, a beautiful lodge, a dining hall and meeting spaces for groups that want to run their own retreats and seminars. Many of these groups run ecology, spiritual, artistic or psychotherapy programs. The centre had a rustic flavour to it with most buildings, like the lodge, being very modern, however it certainly wasn’t like the Hilton.
The Man with the Lexus
One day, a well-dressed man drove up the driveway in his white Lexus and asked if he could rent a cabin. I immediately thought that he had made a mistake and driven up the wrong driveway. One kilometer down the road was a very posh resort where all a lot of wealthy people would go. When I asked him if he was looking for that resort, he assured me that he had wanted a cabin at my centre. He never told me his real name, but for the sake of the story I’ll call him Steve.
So I drove with him up to a cabin in the woods, got some linens and towels and set him up for the 3-night stay he requested. He paid me in advance.
As I was talking with him I could tell that he was deeply troubled. There was something that was eating him up inside and he seemed close to tears. I was concerned for him but also suspicious.
In November 2012, I spent 7 days in a hospital room diagnosed with a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage (broken blood vessel in my head)
There was an older fellow about 75 in my room, who’d insist on having a smoke every evening against doctor’s orders. “I’ve worked hard in a factory all my life and I deserve to have a smoke. I don’t care if it’s bad for me! Its what makes me feel good!”
The nurses patiently put up with his curses.
Then there was the unconscious gasping man across from me.
About every sixth inhalation he’d gasp desperately for air as if it were his last breath. I remember counting. He looked to be about 80 years old. The nurses would talk to him lovingly as if he could hear them. Sometimes he’d move a bit when they talked.
He was a puzzle to me.
I couldn't understand why a man near the end of his life in so much distress would want to live. Why didn’t he just give up and die? Maybe he was just afraid to die… but I detected no fear in his paroxysms. There was more yearning than fear. I felt some affinity with him.
When I contemplated his fear, there was a sweet and longing quality to it. There was not an intense sense of aversion. After a few moments it hit me what the similarity was. It wasn’t that he was afraid to die.
He was afraid not to live.
His gasping was a grasping for life.
He had experienced what it was like to almost die, come back to life and feel the simple gratitude of just being in a body, able to gaze through human eyes out the window… to watch the wind blowing the leaves across the parking lot… to look in his children’s and see the unspoken love behind all the speaking…to hear a calling and a purpose in life and struggle to fulfill it.
Like him I was afraid that I would die without fully engaging in why I was here. And it became clear to me that the tragedy of life is not that we die… its that we do not fully live.
I sadly contemplated how many people die before their time, not due to some illness or accident but because it is too painful to live their lives with no meaning.
They miss that the simple purpose of life…
Life itself…is just living it fully.
…experiencing all of what we are experiencing in what we are experiencing.
How many people become like the curmudgeon, who in missing the fullness already present in life, try to fill their lives with something else…too much smoking, working, recognition, acquiring, drinking, distraction…
The mind wants so much to find a meaning in life that it overlooks what is already inherently fulfilling...
and if we don’t see it
we will find some other neurotic purpose to occupy us.
Life is Living.
And when we live it fully and then examine it there’s a gold mine of wisdom in it…but the living comes first.
I must confess...
I loved that gasping man.
(even loved that curmudgeon)
They taught me a lot.
I pray that they have recovered and
teach everyone they meet
what they taught me.
Be you to Fullness
If you are like me there are times when I just get fed up.
I get fed up with rush hour traffic, Donald Trump, the bills I have to pay, the people that take too long at the bank teller when I am in a rush, the dirty dishes that always have to be done, the snow plow that covers up the driveway when I just shoveled it, problems in relationships, my back pain, the hour long wait to see the doctor, mechanics who don’t fix my car right, the financial worries about the future, the undone projects...it goes on and on.
But when it comes down to it I am mostly fed up with my mind ruminating over what it is fed up about.
Our minds can be like a terrorist constantly blowing up our inner peace or torturing us with endless re-circulating conversations with others.
Sometimes it feels like hell. We want to tell our minds where to go. But if we are already in hell where can we tell our minds to go?
How do we create some calm space in this internal fussing?
There are lots of meditative techniques that are helpful but here’s a strategy that you might find useful
Go Back to Just Before the Mind Turns On
When you wake up in the morning there is a brief moment just before you re-acquaint yourself with the world. Then the mind turns on. It’s like an automatic switch that turns on all the fussing.
But just before that switch goes on there is a calm space.
The mind is clearer. There is a sense of refreshment from the night’s sleep.
- Make a commitment the evening before to pause in that state the next morning when you first wake-up.
- When you wake up, do not get up right away.
- Spend some time just enjoying the relaxation of that state. Notice everything about that state: the way it feels in the body, where the peace is located physically, what it looks like if it had a shape and what the sensations and colours are, (smooth, cool, warm, fluid, solid, dark, light, blue, red, etc) what emotion is there and the slow nature of the breathing.
- Take in some deep breaths and exhalations to anchor or associate that feeling with the calm state.
- Get up and notice when the mind turns on and all the fussing starts again. Experience once again how you experience that fussing state.
Re-experience the State
Then throughout the day when you get exasperated with your mind, take a deep breath, relax with the out breath and see if you can re-call or re-experience that state before the mind turned on. What will help is if you place your attention on those parts of the body where you felt the calmness in the morning.
Alternatively, for a few moments just notice your thoughts and see if you can notice the brief space between one thought and another. See if you can notice that same feeling that you felt when you first woke up. When you do, take in a deep breath, let it out and try to stay in that calmness as much as you can.
Try out this practice every day for two weeks and see if the fussing subsides and you become calmer and more centered.
For more strategies to calm the mind check out:
“I now have a strength that comes from a different source, an inner strength. It just is. Coming from that source, life is easier and when things get difficult. I have the power and deep knowledge to deal with it.”
—Suzie Wasitis, Homemaker, Mississauga, Ontario
- Getting Unstuck from the Have-Do-Be World
- Getting Out of a Mind Rut - A Hilarious Approach
- The 3 Most Powerful Words to Heal a Relationship
- How Can You Have More Energy and Motivation?
- The Right Question When Things Go Wrong
- You Are a Radiant Gift
- Tell Me the Story of Your Heart
- The Man with a Lexus Who Awakened
- What the Gasping Man Taught Me About Life
- What Do You Do When You Get Fed-up (with Your Mind)