Tag Archives: zen

The Wiser, True You

A photo of an owl

 

“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not your mind—the thinker. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.”

— Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now

I was walking—no, sleepwalking—in the mall one day when I became aware that I was doing a whole lot of judging. I judged people on how they looked, how they walked, how they treated their children . . . the list is infinite.

In the past, I would have been critical with myself for that sort of thing.  Ironically, self-criticism is an act of judgement, too. How is that okay?

I would have become guilt’s hostage for the duration of my walk.

Not anymore. I’ve come to understand that judging is a natural function of the brain.

In truth, it wasn’t me doing the judging, it was my brain. As long as we have a brain, we’ll be inclined to judge. Why? Our brains are wired to compare, evaluate and critique. So the tendency to judge is hardwired—innate. It’s an activity our brains do constantly and automatically. We compare yesterday’s weather with today’s, we decide if it’s a good idea to cross an intersection. We determine whether it’s safe to approach a stranger standing on the corner, or a  barking dog. Should I eat that purple-ish food or not?

The judging function of our brains is connected to our survival instinct. Without it, we would be handicapped in our ability to navigate the world we live in.

So with all that said, the goal isn’t to stop judging. We can’t. Believing we can, merely sets us up for lots of self-punishment. The realistic goal is to commandeer it. Take over. It’s akin to tending to a small child. We monitor where she is going and what she is doing. When she’s headed in the wrong direction we say “There, there now. We’re not going that way.” She doesn’t need to be punished, only redirected.

In other words, we need to disidentify with the brain. Our true self is the one observing the mental voice.

With that in mind, let’s rewind, shall we . . . ?

I was walking in the mall one day when I noticed that my brain was doing a whole lot of judging. It commented on how people looked, how they walked and how they behaved. I chalked it up to a brain operating in default-mode.  This objective observation allowed me to redirect that brain: a higher level of consciousness was activated and those judgments — toward others and myself— were immediately replaced with acceptance and compassion. Nice, huh?

This post was actually inspired by someone who wrote about her own discoveries about judging.  You can find her here. And by the way, you’ll find that she has a very attractive spirit. 🙂

 

(c) Salee Reese 2016

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“Waste” Some Time

Dandelion at Sunset

Carlie is  an  over-achieving teenager. She’s  driven to excel academically, athletically and socially. She has trouble with that word “relax.”  But in a moment of clarity, she wowed me with this:

“I would like to know my future to see if I’m wasting my time, because if I am wasting my time, I want to waste it better.”

It’s sad that a stressed-out state can feel normal to us, so much so that it feels wrong to  be free of it.  Let’s face it, our culture values and encourages busyness over taking time to smell the roses. Busyness is easily equated with productivity, purposefulness and meaningfulness. To do otherwise is  deemed wasting one’s time.

This is all wrong! Squirrels are incessantly busy—aimlessly darting here and there—but I wouldn’t necessarily call that busyness productive, purposeful or much less meaningful. The same applies to us humans.

In contrast, soaking up  a sunset can be one of the most productive, purposeful  and meaningful things we can do.

It’s not a waste of time to waste some time!

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality

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You Create Your World

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So You Create

Your thoughts are setting the stage for things to come.

As you think, so you create.

If you believe your dreams are attainable, so you create.

If you anticipate failure, so you create.

If you imagine being smiled at tomorrow, so you create.

If you predict rejection, so you create.

If you envision having a good time, so you create.

If you view your child as a problem, so you create.

If you expect to have love in your heart

. . . for everyone you meet today, so you create.

—Salee Reese

 

What world do you want to live in? We all have a choice.

When we venture deeper than the surface of our lives, we notice that life is a tapestry and we’re the artists. We use our selection of paints to color our world. Life isn’t always controllable, but how we respond to it is—how we look at it and how we react. That’s the world we create.

Here’s another anecdote that illustrates this creative power inside each of us. It’s an excerpt from Pema Chodron’s book Awakening Loving-Kindness:

A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

 Let’s go with heaven today, shall we? 🙂

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Love Can’t Thrive in a Cage

imprisoned-heart-19209730

 

“If you really love me, you’ll be true to yourself!”

Say that to your partner and watch their jaw drop to the floor. Why? Because we usually get the opposite message: “If you really love me, you’ll do what I want. You’ll do back flips—on the ceiling!—to please me.”

Has anyone ever tried to guilt you with a statement like that one? What did it evoke in you? A warm fuzzy feeling? Doubtful.

Have you ever said that to anybody else? Did it feel like an act of love to you? Probably not. That’s because it hails from feeling deserving and entitled.

Click here to read about Dane and Paula … two people who were unhappy in their relationships for this very reason.

Shoulds and love do not belong in the same universe.

Thich Nhat Hanh sums it up perfectly: “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

 

 

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Life’s Hidden Agenda

zen proverb cropped

The soul wants growth and that doesn’t translate into a smooth ride.

I think life is akin to climbing into a canoe and paddling down a stream that’s rife with challenges and uncertainties. Yes, it’s risky and stress-provoking—to say the least. But if we hang in there, we get really good at navigating obstacles. Call it “personal evolution.”

Frederick Douglass, the slave who became a highly admired writer, said: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

One of the first obstacles we encounter in life entails our physical body—it’s limitations. As babies, we stretch to reach a brightly colored toy but our body won’t budge. We haven’t mastered crawling yet.  And when we do, we move on to tackle walking.

But what if someone rescued us from that particular struggle and just carried us everywhere? Would that person be doing us a favor? Not at all. Our muscles would remain soft and our potentials would come to an abrupt halt. Not only that, life would become rather beige.

It’s unlikely that someone would actually rescue us in such an extreme way, but rescuing in the form of overindulgence happens everyday. Click here to read a column I wrote on the subject and how it impacts us no matter what age we are.

Here’s an excerpt:

Overindulgence stifles personal courage. Consequently, adults who were overindulged as children tend to avoid taking personal risks. Even if their current life circumstances are miserable, they’re too mortified and paralyzed by fearfulness, and they feel too incapable of trying out different possibilities or options.

So despite our irritations with life’s bothersome problems, they benefit us. I like comparing it to garbage and manure. Both are nasty but they do fertilize our gardens and make things grow.

We need to be asking ourselves: Who are the people who possess wisdom, courage, stamina, flexibility and an understanding heart? We all know the answer. It’s those who have encountered and tackled countless obstacles. They’ve suffered losses and disappointments, endured mistreatment, experienced frustration, abandonment and betrayal.

Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth, expressed it well: “The challenges of our life situations draw out that which is deeper in us.”

So let’s grab our paddles and go out a bit deeper, shall we? 🙂

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Finding the Right Someone

valentines day

A relationship that’s right for us is one that sets our spirit free.

Hey … Valentine’s Day is right around the bend, so it’s a good time to take a look at love—up close—and contemplate its meaning … just what the heck is it?

Finding a solid definition of love is fuzzy. There are probably as many ideas and definitions of it as there are people … lots.

I have a couple of favorite quotes and I notice they have freedom as a common theme. Here they are:

“There is something akin to freedom in having a lover who has no control over you, except that which he gains by kindness and attachment.”

Harriet Jacobs wrote that in her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Here’s one by Wayne Dyer:

“Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves, without any insistence that they satisfy you.”

I included that little gem in a column I wrote, Finding the Right Someone.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, says in his book, Teachings on Love, that love is a compilation of four components: loving kindness, joy, compassion and freedom. If either one of these is absent, he notes, love cannot flourish. I devoted an entire column to that idea. You can find it here.

And … what are your views on love? I’d LOVE to know. 😉

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Love Scored a Touchdown

The week of Thanksgiving is upon us and our thoughts turn to turkey, pumpkin pies, family gatherings and … football—ew! Sorry, football fans. I couldn’t restrain myself.

To me, football seems … well … brutish. Don, my partner, who just so happens to be a former football coach (go figure), tells me I’m suffering from a narrow perspective, and he’s taken it upon himself to correct that. Wish him luck.

Not long ago, he showed me a video about a middle school football team that plotted to help a teammate with a learning disability make a touchdown. Forfeiting points wasn’t their concern. Helping Keith experience a life-changing moment was their sole priority.

Yes, Keith scored, and at that moment, something big took root in him. He’ll probably never be quite the same. And neither will his fellow teammates. Keith gave them something that was equally grand and equally life-changing (the video spells that out).

In essence, Keith gave them an opportunity to open their hearts, rise above personal gain, and redefine the word “victory.” Such opportunities lurk everywhere just waiting to be stumbled upon. They show up on (yes) football fields, in restaurants, board rooms, at work, on the phone, in our car, and in every one of our relationships, to name just a few.

Who’s your Keith?

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