feet

Today we ask that you do what feels right for your individual energy.

Every living thing is totally unique.  Every living thing has a one-of-a-kind energy signature.  There is no one else like you anywhere in the universe.  And the number of living things in the universe is beyond counting, beyond reckoning, beyond comprehension.

Even so, every single life form is utterly unique.

While all human beings share a common pattern, every human born is completely singular.  There is no one else quite like you, and there has never been anyone else like you in all human history.

This being the case, there is no “one size fits all” approach to a good life.

Everyone must find his or her own way in the world.  

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who want to tell you how you ought to live your life.  People with very strong opinions about the “right” way to live and do things.

And sometimes people have good and useful advice.  Usually this occurs because there is a harmony between your energy pattern and the energy pattern of the person giving the advice, in that specific situation.

Other times, people’s advice is not useful at all, and potentially harmful.  That is because there is a disharmony, a discord, in the energy patterns.  

While that person’s way of doing things may work perfectly well for that person’s unique energy, it simply does not match your energy.  It will clash — the way certain colors clash, or musical notes sound discordant.

And you will know this because trying to live your life according to this advice does not feel good.  It is like wearing clothing that is too tight, or does not match your body.  

Sometimes you cannot know whether advice is harmonious or disharmonious until you “try it on,” the way you try on clothing, or try on a pair of shoes.

The problem is, while you may have no difficulty identifying clothing that is wrong for you, or shoes that are too tight, many people live out their whole lives following guidance or belief systems that are totally disharmonious for their energy pattern.

Imagine if you were always wearing a pair of tight shoes.  You would constantly be irritable, and in pain.

That is what it is like to follow disharmonious guidance.  It is like wearing a pair of too-tight shoes.  Only instead of removing the shoes, you think there must be something wrong with your feet.  

You believe that the problem is not that the shoes are too tight, but rather that your feet are too big.

This is especially true if you have been wearing these tight shoes your whole life, since childhood — because your parents or teachers put those shoes on your feet, and told you they ought to fit even if they didn’t.  They may have criticized you for having big feet and insisted that you wear the shoes anyway.

Does this make sense?

So look at the areas in your life where you feel pain and constriction.  Ask yourself, whose advice am I listening to here?  Is it harmonious with who I really am?  Is this who I really am?

Maybe if you took off those tight shoes, you would truly relax and feel comfortable.  You could spread out your toes, and feel the earth beneath your feet.

You are completely unique.  Though you may share common features with your parents, your family, your race and your culture, you may also be utterly different from them.  The shoes that have fit your family and been passed down for generations may be a complete mismatch for your particular feet.  And yet you have been hobbling around, in pain, thinking the problem is with you — not the shoes.

Parents, honor your children as the totally unique beings they are.  Encourage them not to be little versions of you, not to do what you want or fulfill your ambitions, but to do what is truly best for their unique energy.  Even if it is difficult at times for you to understand them, even if the clothes and shoes they try on seem disharmonious to you — let them explore.  Let them find their own way.

Honor yourself in this way.  Do what is right for you.  It does not matter what anyone else thinks.  People are always going to judge anyway, even when you try to please them.  In fact, the more you try to please them, the more they will judge you and find you lacking.  You can hobble around in those tight shoes your whole life, trying to please them, and they will still judge you.

So why not take off those shoes and feel good, for a change?  Why not do what feels right for you, as an individual, no matter what anyone else has to say about it?

Follow advice that is harmonious for you, as you wear a pair of shoes that fits you well.

As for the rest — cast it off.  If it causes you pain and stress and makes you miserable — cast it off.

Do what is right for you.  That is the best thing you can do for anyone else in your life, whether they understand it ir not.

Because the happier and more fulfilled you are, the more harmonious you will be for other beings in this world.

Do what is right for you.  It is never selfish, no matter what anyone else may say.  It is the wisest thing to do.  Only a fool would hobble around in tight shoes because he thinks it will please others.

the ticking clock

Today we ask that you look at your relationship with time.

Most humans have an unhealthy relationship with time.

Time is the enemy.  You never have enough of it.  You are always in a rush, running late, fighting against the “ticking clock.”

Or else you are bored, and the ticking clock is ticking too slowly.  You are stuck somewhere, impatient.   You keep checking the clock, and this only increases your frustration.  The more you look at it, the more upset you get.

Or else you are angry at the aging process.  You believe you are too old.  Time is corroding your health, your body.  Women live in fear of their biological clocks.  You do not have enough time left.

Of course, children and teenagers are angry at time, too, because they cannot wait to be adults.  

Nothing frustrates people like delays, cancellations, and the sense that whatever is happening should be happening much faster.

And yet in a modern world where everything does appear to happen faster — packages delivered overnight, information and messages delivered instantaneously — there is a sense of awful, oppressive “overwhelm.”  Too much is happening all at once!

So you can see, people really do have a poor relationship with time.

People feel like victims of time.  They’re in a “no-win” situation with time.  

Yet what is time?

Yes, it can be quantified, broken down into units and measured.  But what is it?

The length of a minute, an hour, a day, a month, a year — these things can seem to go by in the blink of an eye, or they can seem to be interminable and take forever.  

Why?

Because of your perception.

Time moves quickly or slowly according to your perception of it.  

And the human perception of time is extremely unreliable.

Without a clock to measure it, you would really have a much vaguer sense of time.  You could perceive the passage of day and night, track the movement of the sun.  You could follow the seasons and the cycle of the year.  You would notice that children grow into adults and that adults age — although some people age much faster than others.

But without that ticking clock constantly in view, your conception of time would be much fuzzier.  

The truth is, it is your perception of time that determines your experience of time.  

And although you may think your perception of time is based on external markers, like clocks, in fact your perception of time is internal.  It is based on your beliefs.

If you believe that “There is never enough time,” this will be your experience of time.  You will always feel behind no matter how much you rush about and do.  No matter how much you get done, it isn’t enough.

If you believe that you are “Wasting your time,” that will be your experience of time.  You will feel chronically frustrated in your days.  

If you believe that you are “Too old,” everything will remind you that you are too old.  Time will always seem to be slipping through your aging fingers.

If you believe that “I should be further along in life by now!” then this will be your constant experience.  Wherever you are, you should be further along.  You can never catch up.   You hate the clock, because it always reminds you of this.

But it is possible to have an altogether different relationship with time.

Time and space are one, you see.  Physicists understand this, and refer to it as “space-time.”

Here is a simple thing:

When you create space in your life, you also create time. 

This will seem totally counterintuitive.

But the more you slow down, relax, and let yourself breathe, the more time you will have.

If you are someone who simply believes that there is always plenty of time, this will in fact become your experience of time.

This will appear, at first, to go against all the evidence of your senses.  It will go against what everyone else is always telling you about time.

But it is absolutely true.

If you start repeating to yourself that you always have plenty of time, this will eventually become your experience of time.

It may not happen overnight, but if you make it a consistent practice, it will happen.

Also, whenever possible, minimize the checking of clocks.

Of course when you are scheduled to do something or be somewhere at a particular time, you must consult a clock.

But you probably do not need to check the clock nearly as much as you do.

Chronic clock-checking just makes people tense about time.

When you are feeling impatient about something, checking the clock is the worst thing you can do.  It’s like pouring lighter fluid on the flame of your irritation.

If you have a healthy relationship with time, clocks are no problem.  They are just a useful tool.

But if you have an unhealthy relationship with time, clocks will work against you.

The point of this is:

How you feel about time is not arbitrary.  You are not a helpless victim of the ticking clock.

Your experience of time is almost entirely based on your perception of time, which is in turn influenced by your beliefs about time.

Change your beliefs about time, and you change your perception of time.

Believe it or not, you really do have plenty of time.

If you desire more time, give yourself more space.

Time can actually be a good friend.  If you approach time as a friend, time will begin to seem friendly.

And what you will discover, sooner or later, is that everything in this reality happens in perfect timing.

It’s okay if you do not believe this.  It’s just something to play with.

sw_luke_yoda

Today we ask that you look at the way you think about victims and victimhood.

This is a very charged subject for people.  Nothing inspires outrage like questioning one’s concepts around victimhood.

Usually, when one begins to question concepts around victimhood, the defensive “how dare you” response focuses on extreme cases, such as innocent children who are brutalized or killed.  For the sake of conversation, let’s not focus on extreme cases.

Let’s instead focus on garden variety, everyday victimhood.

The victimhood of the despised job, the long commute, the chores of parenthood, the trials of marriage, the burden of bills and taxes.

If there is a universal language on Earth, it is the language of victimhood.  One might call it “Complainese.”  It is the common tongue of all men.  You could take two very different people from far-flung places around the globe — but get them complaining to each other about their jobs, mates, or children, and they’d find common ground.

In fact, if you listen to ordinary human conversation, most of it is in “Complainese.”  Ask someone how they are doing, and generally you will hear about their problems and how they feel like victims today.  It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, male or female, black or white.  Everyone on Earth has something to complain about.

It could be said that victimhood is the great human pastime and addiction.  Indeed, there is nothing more seductive and addictive to humans than the Victim Identity. 

The Victim Identity is to humans what the Venus Fly Trap is to flies.  People don’t like the experience of victimhood, yet they are powerfully drawn toward the Victim Identity.  It is irresistibly alluring.  And yet once you take the bait, you are stuck in a very uncomfortable place.  You struggle to get out, but your struggles only tighten the trap.  Many people spend their whole lives deeply in the snare of the Victim Identity, and are consumed by it.

Victim Identity is alluring because it is such a strong identity.  It allows people to feel very self-righteous, noble, and special.  After all, they are victims.  Whatever their problems may be, it is always someone or something else that is to blame.  The government, evil corporations, their parents, their genes, that they weren’t born rich.  As victims, they share an instant social bond with other victims who feel victimized by the same things.  Women who hate their husbands, for example, always have plenty to talk/complain about.

So there are many “benefits” to being in the Victim Club.  

But there is also a huge downside.

For anyone who spends his life trapped in the snare of Victim Identity will, in general, be miserable, anxious, and depressed most of the time.  And the more he dwells on his individual victimhood, or victimhood in general, the more severe this will be.  

And yet as miserable, anxious and depressed as people caught in Victim Identity are, the idea that there could be any other way to live is unthinkable and often horribly offensive.  First of all, they are victims!  They had no choice in the matter.  Maybe you have had some kind of easy life, but obviously you do not know what real victimhood is if you’d ever dare to question it.  

And that is okay.  There is actually nothing helpful or useful in attempting to talk someone who is strongly rooted in Victim Identity out of being a victim.  In truth, it cannot be done.

However, for some people, there comes a time in life when they are very weary of being miserable, anxious and depressed.  They are weary of the “human condition,” and long for something better.  Though the Victim Identity may be very familiar and even comforting in some ways, they are sick and tired of it.

Such people will begin to search for another way of being.  This message is for those people.

Here is something you can pay attention to:

When you spend a lot of time being exposed to Victim Stories — in the news, on the internet, or talking to people you know — how do you generally feel afterward?

If you pay attention, you will notice that exposure to Victim Stories usually increases your own level of anxiety, paranoia, and depression.

Even if the Victim Story has nothing to do with you personally, it will trigger your own sense of victimhood in regard to your personal issues.  When you hear about other people’s tragedies, you begin to feel more fearful and defensive about your own life — so as to ward off such tragedy befalling you.  

Just watch for this pattern.  Once you notice it, it’s hard to miss.

When you think of other people as being “victims,” always simultaneously, often unconsciously, you are affirming your own capacity for victimhood — and thus increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and unhappiness that go hand in hand with this state.

The way out of this trap — and this may sound unthinkable and outrageous — is simply to stop thinking of people as “victims” altogether.

Do not focus on the extreme cases right now.  Focus on the garden variety, everyday victims you encounter in daily life.

What is being asked is that you stop thinking of these people as victims, no matter what they believe about themselves and no matter what they tell you.

If you look at all human myth and drama, the theme of victimhood is ubiquitous.  Every hero in every myth endures a state of victimhood.  Think of Cinderella, think of Luke Skywalker, think of Harry Potter.  Terrible things befall these characters early on in their stories.  They are “victims.”

But they do not stay there.  In the course of the story, such characters always move from a state of Victimhood to a state of Mastery.  

Almost all human dramas show this progression, from Victim to Master.

“Master” here just means someone who is deeply comfortable and at home in this world, because he is deeply comfortable and at home in himself.  Though external adversity may still beset him, he does not fall to pieces with anxiety or despair over it.

Characters like Obi  Wan Kenobi and Yoda are “Masters.”  These beings are anything but insecure.  Even if they are in danger, even if they are attacked — no one would ever think of them as “Victims.”

All “Victims” in this reality — all of them — are on their way to becoming “Masters.”  It may not happen over the course of one lifetime, but gaining this kind of mastery is, quite simply, what beings do here.  

You are not a Victim.  You are a Master-in-Training.

You are not a Victim because of the people and circumstances in your life.

You are a Master-in-Training because of the people and circumstances in your life.  

The people you see who are most strongly rooted in the Victim Identity are also Masters-in-Training.

Don’t tell them that, because it will make no sense to them.  

But you have the capacity to perceive them that way.  And this shift in perception can profoundly affect your life experience and the substance of reality itself.

So just play with this.

The next time you are getting caught up in all the tragic victim stories, notice how you are feeling.

Try reframing the story in your mind, to perceive people not as “Victims,” but as “Masters-in-Training.”

Sometimes the most tragic victims are, in fact, hidden Masters.  For this reality is not all there is, and death is not the end of anyone.

And it is okay if you do not believe this.  It is just something to play with.

how to play the game of life

Today we ask that you consider the possibility that life, as you know it, is like a game.

But not in the way most people think of “the game of life” — as a competition, in which “he who dies with the most toys, wins.”

Life is not a game won by accruing possessions or status and passing this wealth and status on to your genetic offspring.  It is not the game of “survival of the fittest.”

Nor is it the game of accruing “virtue points” so that you can to go Heaven when you die, while the immoral masses are damned to Hell.  That is not the game, either.

In fact, there are no “points” involved with this game.  No money points, no status points, no virtue points.  It is not about proving that you are worth more than other human beings.  There is no competition, in this game.

The game of life is similar, on a rudimentary level, to a game like a solitaire — a game that is about the joy of playing, not about winning.

It is also similar to playing a game of chess against a supercomputer.  Such a game is not about winning, it is about playing.  It is virtually impossible to win such a game.  Even when a chess master defeats a supercomputer, it is only a matter of time before an even faster supercomputer is created that defeats the chess master.

So, in general, one does not play chess against a complex computer in order to win.  One plays against a computer in order to play, and to learn.  It is purely for the joy of playing and the honing of skill, without the expectation of winning.

Only instead of a game of solitaire or a computer chess game, the life game immerses you in a reality of vast, magnificent, and nearly infinite complexity.

Within this game, just like in the computer chess game, there is an opponent.

There are many ways of looking at this opponent, but one way to look at the opponent is to see it as the force of entropy.

Entropy is the force that breaks down things that are beautiful, harmonious, and complex into simpler forms.

All living things die in your reality.  No matter how beautiful, intelligent, or successful you may be, your body will eventually decay.  No matter how great your achievements, you will eventually be forgotten.  That is entropy.

Entropy is the mildew in your bathroom, the clutter on your desk, the bug that freezes your computer.  It is the traffic jam, the power failure, the mix-up with the bill payment.  There is no escaping it.  You face it every day.

Most humans strongly dislike entropy and take its existence in their lives very personally.

But it is not your enemy, in a personal way.  It affects everyone.  Everyone will experience physical death; there is no avoiding it.

So one could say that “entropy always wins,” just like the supercomputer always eventually wins the chess game.

In fact, entropy is very similar to the supercomputer in a chess game.  Although the supercomputer may seem conscious and “out to get you,” in fact it is quite unconscious and mindless.  The computer is not conscious, and entropy is not conscious.

When you play against a computer, you do so for enjoyment — to hone your skill, to grow, to play, to gain mastery.  If you are playing against a highly complex computer that is set to win, you know that you will lose.  But winning is not the point.

It is the same with life.  You came here, to this reality, to grow and play.  When the game finishes, you will leave.  That is to say, you will continue after your physical death, after “game over.”

All of you have chosen to play this game, even if you have forgotten that it is a game.  The forgetting is an intrinsic part of the game.

And you may believe this is all nonsense.  That is okay.

But if you understand this, then it is possible for you to play the game with greater joy.  This happens when you stop taking entropy personally and seeing it as your enemy.  Entropy manifests as an opponent, but it is an opponent with a good underlying purpose.  It is not cruel, senseless, or evil, even if it may at times appear to be so.

Notions that life is a game of points, a game for winning, a game of accruing wealth or status, of “getting into Heaven” — all of these beliefs are clever ruses in the game, meant to distract you from the fundamental truths of existence.

Only in a totally loving reality could such a game exist.

And it is okay if you don’t believe any of this.

The simple message is:

Life is not a game that you play to win.

Life is a game that you play to play.

If you believe that you are supposed to win at the game of life, you will be endlessly frustrated.

If, however, you play just to play, then you will know peace, joy, and fulfillment.

 

the power of stories

Today we ask that you look at the human attachment to drama.

Humans love drama and stories.  It is a defining trait of mankind.  The instinctive love of myths and stories arises early in childhood.  Stories are the foundation of the world religions — archetypal myths played out in seasonal cycles, passed down through the generations.  This has been going on since humans gained the capacity to speak and tell stories.

Stories are extremely powerful.  Truly, they are the most powerful thing in the human reality.  They are more powerful than your greatest scientific achievements, they are more powerful than your most destructive weapons.

Stories can be beneficial, or harmful.  But it is important to acknowledge their power.

This is because stories, myths, and dramas define people’s perception of reality itself.

Think of someone who is very different from you, someone whose beliefs clash with yours.  Perhaps someone with a very different political or religious orientation.

What is the difference, really, between this person and you?

They believe different stories about reality.

When it comes to religion and politics, it is very likely that they grew up being told very different stories than the ones you were told.  And they believe them.

People can and do change their stories and beliefs, but this is extremely difficult for most humans.

This is because people’s identities are rooted in the stories they believe.  Questioning those stories means questioning their very identity — something that most people are not able or willing to do, because this feels deeply threatening.

Consider: how did Adolph Hitler trigger so much destruction in the world?

Hitler was an extremely persuasive storyteller.  His stories were lies, but people believed them.

Without his storytelling ability, Hitler could not have done very much harm at all.  

So you see, stories can be quite dangerous, when they are used to sow hatred and violence.

The Middle East is an area of deep conflict in your world.  It has been so for a very long time.  This is because of the stories believed by the people who live there.  If those people knew nothing of those stories, do you think there would be nearly as much violence?

Humans communicate through storytelling.  When you speak to people, or read what they say online, or listen to people on television — always, you are being told a story.

Sometimes you are conscious that the stories that you take in are fictional, because it is obvious.  You are watching a made-up drama on TV or in the movies.  You are reading a book.

But often people have a very hard time distinguishing “fiction” from “fact.”  And of course even stories people know to be fiction can powerfully influence people.  

All these stories you are told take on a kind of life inside your mind.  They become the basis for an internal voice — a voice that is, by its very nature, dramatic.

It processes everything you experience in terms of stories and narratives.  It labels people as allies and enemies.  It projects possible futures that are quite fictional — since they haven’t happened anywhere outside your mind — but they will seem very real to you.  In this mental story, you are the protagonist in an endless personal drama.  Usually you are engaged in some sort of struggle, because that is what the characters in all stories do.  Characters in stories struggle with external adversity and internal weakness.

This dramatic voice in your head can make a big drama out of anything, no matter how trivial.  It can make a big drama out of going shopping or paying a bill.  Everything is fodder for drama, to this voice.

So just look at this.

Look at the stories other people tell you, that you believe.

Look at the stories the voice in your head tells you, that you believe.

Are these stories really true?  Are you sure? 

Is believing these stories healthy for you?

Do the stories give you a sense of well-being, a sense of a loving order in the universe?

Or do the stories make you feel crazed, stressed, and victimized?  Do they arouse resentment of other people?  Do they arouse dissatisfaction with your life situation?  Do they make you feel like you live in a hostile reality, where you are constantly threatened and struggling?

Just pay attention.  This is not about judgment, just about observation.

Just notice how you feel after being exposed to stories — whether they are stories told to you by people you know, or strangers you have never met online, in books and magazines, on TV and in movies.  

Do the stories increase your sense of well-being?  Do they make you feel healthy and empowered?  Do you learn and grow as a person from them?  Or do they make you frightened and tense?  Do they make you feel like a helpless victim?

Remember, stories are extremely powerful.  So just learn to pay attention to the stories you are told, the stories you tell yourself, and the underlying messages in those stories.

If a story make you feel tense in your body and arouses a sense of misery and victimhood in your mind — perhaps you should not believe it.  Perhaps you should stop listening to that storyteller.

Drama can be wonderful, but in general people are addicted to it, and take in far more drama than they can process in a healthy way.

Drama is like chocolate.  A small amount of high quality chocolate is there to be savored, and enjoyed.

But a large amount of chocolate, especially when it is of poor quality, will only sicken you.

So be discerning about the stories you take in.  Eat only the good stuff — and don’t overeat.

 

sisyphus

Today we ask that you examine the belief that “Life is a struggle.”

This belief is so widespread, so universal, that it really is not questioned.  Religious people believe it.  Atheists believe it.  People in different cultures all around the world believe it.

So it must be true.

Everywhere, humans find evidence for this belief.  In the “Darwinian” natural world, where animals struggle to survive and procreate.  In their own lives.  Life is a struggle.  It does not matter if you are a monkey or a man, if you are rich or poor.  Ask a rich man about his life, and he will tell you all about his struggles.  Ask a poor man, and you will hear the same.  Struggle is the basis of all human drama, of every story ever written.

So it must be true, then, that life is a struggle.

But you know, animals do not have this story.  Even the animals in the nature documentaries — the gazelle eaten by the cheetah, the endangered species threatened by man, the Antarctic penguin who must raise his chicks in the icy darkness.  None of these creatures go around thinking “Life is a struggle.”

It is the human who looks at the penguin and creates a narrative about how hard it is.  The penguin is not thinking “Oh, this is so hard.”  The penguin is just doing what a penguin does, and doesn’t have a story about it.

The penguin isn’t wishing he could live in a warmer climate where it would be so nice and easy.  The penguin doesn’t see himself as a victim of circumstance.

Only humans do this.

Therefore, the belief that “Life is a struggle” is a construct of the human mind.  It has no independent existence outside the human mind.

Animals do not believe it.  Babies do not believe it, even if they are hungry, tired, or uncomfortable.  A baby just cries.  It is the parent of the crying baby who believes that life is a struggle.

A corollary to the belief that “Life is a struggle” is the belief that “Struggle is virtuous.”

The hero of any myth is someone who struggles, and it is always a virtuous struggle.  The more someone struggles, the more they are perceived as virtuous.

Humans perceive the penguin who struggles to raise his chicks in the Antarctic winter as having a certain nobility.

The penguin knows nothing of this.  He does not think he is “noble.”  He is just doing what a penguin does.

However, if humans believe that struggle is virtuous, then this incentivizes and validates the experience of struggle.

Humans are usually suspicious and judgmental about anyone who isn’t struggling enough, in their opinion.  Such a person is lazy, or lucky.  Either way, there is something ignoble about it.

People wear their struggles as a source of pride.  Yes, they are overworked and exhausted.  Yes, parenting children is terribly hard, a daily struggle.  Yes, they have doggedly worked their way up from poverty.  Yes, they don’t have time to sleep.  Yes, they are sick — who wouldn’t get sick from all that hard work, exhaustion, and misery.

But if you suggest that there might be another way to live, one that doesn’t involve so much struggle — just watch the offense, the outrage!  How dare you!   Who do you think you are!

Sure, maybe life is easy for you, but you know nothing of their struggles.  Clearly you are not a good person — not the way they are.  You must be a very selfish, lazy person if you think that maybe they don’t need to be struggling as much as they do.

So just take a look at this.  What is going on here?

This is not to say that life is not challenging.  Life is challenging.  People can and do experience extreme adversity, and there is no question that this can trigger enormous growth.

But extreme adversity in of itself does not always better people’s characters or make them more virtuous.  Sometimes all it does is lock people into a victim identity, a trauma identity, where they feel so brutalized by the cruelty of existence that they sink into despair and bitterness.

Struggle does not always make people virtuous.  Sometimes it just makes them physically and mentally ill.

Consider war veterans.  Prior to the wars of the later twentieth century, going to war as as soldier was generally considered ennobling, a sign of manly virtue — the struggle that would make a man out of you.  Now it is understood that in many cases it causes profound mental and physical illness, without necessarily ennobling anyone.

So just look at this.

Maybe struggle, in of itself, is not virtuous.  Maybe it would be healthy to stop associating struggle with virtue.

On a deeper level, maybe life itself is not a struggle.

Life is life.  Some days it is challenging, other days less so.  The penguins make through the winter, and frolic in the ocean during the summer.

Some days you are sick, others you are well.  Life has rhythms and tides.

But if you believe that life is a struggle, and struggle is virtuous — one thing is certain.

You will be creating struggle and drama in your life where it might not otherwise exist.

No penguin is capable of making life harder than it is at any given moment.  But humans make life harder for themselves all the time, because of their stories and beliefs.

So just look at this.

And if you can, begin to question the beliefs that “Life is a struggle,” and “Struggle is virtuous.”

This doesn’t mean you won’t face challenge and adversity.

But if you perceive it differently — that is everything.

 

recharge your battery

Today we ask that you focus on being receptive.

Throughout your reality, there exists a dualistic rhythm in which all things move from “active” states to “passive,” or “receptive” states.

Night follows day.  The tide moves in and out.  You inhale and exhale.  You wake and sleep.  Fall and winter follow spring and summer.  Everywhere you look in nature, you will see this simple rhythm.

Expand, contract.  Grow, rest.  Move, be still.

Unfortunately, many modern humans have fallen out of this rhythm.  Society strongly favors the “active” mode of being.  Humans are encouraged and expected to be continuously active, to be busy all the time, and to sleep minimally.  Caffeine and pharmaceutical drugs assist in the drive toward continuous activity.

But you cannot go against the most fundamental pattern of nature without causing damage.

Human bodies are not adapted to a lifestyle of constant activity.  Nothing in nature is.  To do so places an intolerable strain on the body, over time.  The result is endemic illness, both physical and mental.  The modern pharmaceutical industry works to ameliorate these symptoms, but drugs can only do so much.  Societies that promote constant activity bear a great burden of human illness.

A culture of continuous growth, activity, and consumption also, of course, places a terrible strain on natural resources and the environment — the great looming crisis of the modern era.

What can be done about this?

In order to be healthy and balanced, all living things require periods of rest and receptivity.  There is no exception to this rule.  Even machines cannot be operated continuously without damage.  Even computers must be put to “sleep” or shut off when not in use.

It does not matter what your society has to say about “laziness”, or how continuous activity is lauded as a sign of a good work ethic and virtue.

Many things in human history have been praised as virtuous.  Soldiers were praised for massacres, for killing and enslaving enemies.  Christians were praised for killing infidels, burning witches, and generally torturing and persecuting the innocent as a part of their faith.  Just because your culture says that something is virtuous, does not make it so.  

Just because your culture lauds the caffeine-drinking insomniac workaholic as virtuous, does not make it so.  

When you watch television or movies from the past, you will see doctors smoking cigarettes, men demeaning and objectifying women, and appalling racial stereotypes.  Some of these behaviors will seem laughable, others offensive. How could people not know better?

In those time periods, those were simply the cultural norms.  People were taught that smoking cigarettes, misogyny, and racism were normal.  Some questioned this, but most believed that anything their culture promoted must be good.  

In the future, people will look back at this time, and they will also wonder why people did not know better.  They will focus in particular on the level of disease in your society — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stress-related illness, mental illness.  The extreme dependence on pharmaceutical drugs will be questioned.  They will see clearly the connection between these illnesses, and a culture of constant activity and consumption.  They will also be incredulous at the disregard for the environment, but this goes hand in hand with a culture that is out of sync with the rhythms of the natural world.

How can you change this, right now, in your daily life?

How can you promote healthy balance for yourself?

It is simple.  Activity must be followed by rest, as surely as the night follows the day.

Watch animals.  They rest.  They sleep.  They instinctively understand that it is good for them.

Pay attention to the rhythms and cycles of the year.  Some times are naturally more active, others are naturally more passive and receptive.  There is a time to plant, a time to reap, and a time to let the field lay fallow.

If you feel burned out and overwhelmed, if you cannot sleep at night and suffer from anxiety, if you are always burning the candle at both ends but still feel like you can never do enough or keep up — this is not good, no matter what your society has to say about it.

You cannot listen to your culture.  Historically, human cultural norms have supported grossly destructive behavior.  

You must instead listen to the voice inside.

That voice can only be accessed when you are quiet, still, and receptive.

If you are constantly active, there is no space, no stillness, for that voice to be heard.

And that is the greatest misfortune of a life of constant activity and distraction.  It is why many people feel lost and anxious.

Constant activity robs you of the richness and joy of life.  It means you never stop to smell the roses, to enjoy the sunrise, or notice how very good it is to eat a simple meal.

Constant activity even robs childhood of its joys, leading to children who are as anxious, overwhelmed and distracted as their parents.  Mostly this is due to a lack of the simple pleasure of unstructured time, which used to be a sacred refuge of childhood.  It is also due to a lack of sleep and rest.  Overstimulated, over-scheduled children often do not rest and sleep well.

More than anything, constant activity robs you of the ability to hear your heart, and your spirit.  And without that internal compass, you will feel lost.

Please slow down.  Let active periods be followed by truly restful periods — and that does not happen in front of your TV, computer, or phone.  Turn off the devices, and let yourself rest.

Even machines need to recharge their batteries.  So do you.

 

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