May 28, 2010

Dealing With Fear

F.E.A.R. is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. There’s no true threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all.

F.E.A.R. is an illusion. Something we fabricate in our own minds and pretend it’s real. It’s a fairy tale we tell ourselves that keeps us from doing what we really want.

False evidence appearing real.

The common label for F.E.A.R is anxiety, a less fundamental emotion that arises purely from our own thoughts, not external reality. And 50 years of cognitive psychology research demonstrates that while we can’t always control how we feel, we do have the power to choose how we think and act. **Brian Clark**


I have had no success overcoming fear. I fear heights, dental work, public speaking, and many other things. There are three things which have helped me.

1. I have learned that I cannot predict the future. I really can NOT, and I refuse to waste valuable time today fearing for something which has not happened...a future event of some kind. In this case, how I think about the future...unknown, like it or not....has changed my anxiety level tremendously.

2. When I don't want to undertake a project that requires risking time and money because almost all of my projects of the last several years have failed, I remind myself of the large numbers of famous people who failed many more times than I have and met success because they did not give up. Sometimes, I actually have to read about these people once again, even twice again...before my fear melts.

3. There are a number of fears which I permit myself. If I am going to be brave in most things, then allowing myself to keep some fears feels comforting. For example, I am perfectly o.k. with not going on high ladders or roller coasters, swimming in deep water, or visiting snake exhibits. These and a few other fears are sacrosanct. I own them, and I do not accept anyone trying to talk me out of them or making fun of them.

What's important for me is that I don't miss out on anything by giving myself permission to fear a few things. Only deal with what is going to enhance your life. At the same time, deal with most fears head-on as fear breeds fear. (I no longer watch the news.)

May 25, 2010

Living With Intenttion

Everything we do benefits from intention, which has the power to transform mundane tasks into profound experiences.

We tend to associate the energy of intent with complicated or profoundly meaningful actions that require our full attention and effort in order to succeed. For example, walking a tightrope, taking a test, and taking a vow are all tasks that call us to be fully present and single-minded.

However, intent can also be applied to everyday events, like eating breakfast or going to work. In fact, everything we do benefits from the presence of intent, which has the power to transform seemingly mundane tasks into profound experiences.

Intent is one of the cornerstones of the Zen tradition of Buddhism in which monks work for years to develop the stillness and sharpness of mind to do only one thing at a time. Most of the time we are doing one thing and thinking of something else, or even doing three things at the same time, such as talking on the phone, doing dishes, and boiling water for tea.

There is nothing inherently wrong with multitasking, which seems necessary at times, especially in the midst of family life. However, balancing this with a healthy dose of intentional activity can provide valuable insight into the benefits of doing one thing at a time, being fully present with whatever the task at hand happens to be. From the moment we wake up, we can apply intent to our situation by simply saying to ourselves, “I am aware that I am now awake.” We can use this simple tool throughout our day, saying, “I am aware that I am driving to work.” “I am aware that I am making dinner.” Or even, “I am aware that I am breathing.”

As we acknowledge what we are doing in these moments, we come alive to our bodies and to the world, owning our actions instead of habitually performing them. We may realize how often we act without intention and how this disengages us from reality. Applying the energy of intent to even one task a day has the power to transform our lives. ***Daily OM***

May 17, 2010

Forgiving Ourselves

I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes - it is inevitable.

But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, "well, if I'd known better I'd have done better," that's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, "I'm sorry," and then you say to yourself, "I'm sorry."

If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves.

Now mind you; when a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats - as too black, or too white, or too poor, or too fat, or too thin, or too sexual, or too asexual - that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach. (Maya Angelou)

Holding oneself up to excessively high standards is the work of ego. To make mistakes is human. To go on and on about our failure is boring, and, perhaps manipulative.

May 15, 2010

Recognizing Ego

Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell whether what we are thinking or feeling is coming from our ego. One criterion you can use is to know is: If there is any negativity involved, anger, resentment, irritation, then Ego is present there. If there is no negativity but there is an underlying field of peace, then it arises from a deeper place that is not the Ego.

For example, you may be in a situation, and you may feel that suddenly the right thing to do is to leave the situation – whether it’s a relationship, or a place, or a job, whatever it is – you can direct attention to the feeling to see where it’s coming from. Is there any reactivity, or anger in the essential part of that feeling? Or is there just a deep knowing that this is what you have to do, and you do it? There’s a peace that comes with that.

Peace can certainly mean that you take action. It’s a very different energy field out of which this energy flows than “reactive” action which is always associated with Ego. You need a certain amount of presence to know whether there is negativity inside you at any given time, or whether the feeling that arises comes from a deep knowing that “This is what I have to do”.

Negativity is the key, knowing whether or not that is present in you. If you are identified with negativity, then you won’t even know that there IS negativity.

To the Ego, a negative feeling is something good. The Ego loves to be angry. It strengthens itself with that. If there is absolutely no awareness, then you won’t even know that you’re in a negative state. And then there’s nothing you can do, you need to wake up first so that you can see “What state am I in right now?”

For the Ego to be recognized, awareness needs to have awakened. Then you can observe yourself. The witness, the observing presence, needs to be there.

Once that’s there, you can recognize negativity, and then you’ll know that’s the Ego. Then the Ego is no longer totally dominating you, and you don’t necessarily have to act on it. You can then have a feeling of anger without acting on it, and simply allowing that feeling to be there, and observing it, how it arises, and how it passes away. You don’t have to obey what it tells you to do, you don’t have to follow every thought that arises out of that feeling.

Vigilance is required for you to know where a feeling comes from. Is it generated by a thought in your head? Then it’s Ego. Is it a feeling that is generated by some story I am telling myself about my life, about other people, about a situation? Or is it a deeper realization of what is needed in a situation? Whatever it is, the key factor is the witnessing presence inside you.

~~~Eckhart Tolle~~~

May 11, 2010

.Honesty is Best

When we speak the truth, we affirm what already is. This is like using a paddle when the stream is already moving the same direction, so we don’t need to exert much energy, leaving more for other pursuits.

But dishonesty redirects a portion of our energy against the flow, which requires extra effort. In addition, it creates an alternate reality that requires further energetic input to be maintained.

We may feel that little untruths are harmless, but they can be like small cracks that weaken an overall structure over time. Even giving someone a compliment or trying to protect them can create problems later when the alternate reality we’ve created becomes the basis for further actions. Even if the actions that follow are honestly done, the underlying unstable foundation of dishonesty will threaten to topple things eventually. This can lead to further energy being spent on keeping things hidden, working to remember the tales we’ve spun and fearing the consequences of being found out.

Speaking and living our truth may involve risking, among other things, the possibility of rejection. But when we allow ourselves to follow the flow of life, we are supported. We can then use our energy to cultivate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and to create our dreams, rather than leaving ourselves drained.

(Based on the Daily OM)

May 6, 2010

Finding Meaning

Many of us who don't have to struggle with meeting our most basic needs, seek to have a more meaningful life. We do more and more, thinking that we will find meaning in more accomplishments.

Connecting to nature grounds us, but doesn't leave us permanently satisfied. It is very hard to find meaning in one's life.

It is much easier to find meaning in one's actions! Why not take meaningful action? Help someone.
Help in any way that you can. No action is too small; start wherever you can. If your actions have meaning, then your life will as well.