Various things bug us all. They could be small things or significant issues. Whatever the case, there are ways of dealing with agitation. We’re not powerless. As a matter of fact there’s a way to allow ourselves to stand in our own power and not allow these things to bug us. Eckhart Tolle suggests two things in his book The Power of Now, which I think might be very helpful. First, when we get upset, simply become present, aware that we’re upset and don’t resist whatever is bugging us. Oftentimes we walk around not feeling good, or edgy and angry, yet unaware as to where that is coming from. Realizing where it’s coming from is helpful in waking up and, instead of resisting it, it helps to simply accept that that’s the way things are at the moment. But how the hell do we accept something that’s bugging us??? Tolle goes on to suggest a way to do just that, a way that puts us in control and not a victim of outside circumstances. He calls it transparency.
He uses the image of becoming transparent to allow whatever it is that’s bugging us to go right through our bodies, as if we weren’t even there. He says that when we become aware of being bugged by something or someone, or being hurt, to imagine ourselves gradually becoming transparent, as if there were no solid mass to our bodies. Imagine the the hurt or upset going right through us without hitting any solid wall of resitance. I find this a wonderful image. We then stand in our own power and are not victim to whatever or whoever is bugging us. We have a choice and need not get upset or ruin a day by something that someone has said or done!
Now, if you’re anything like me, you need LOTS of practice at this. I still get upset, resist and blow of steem, sometimes saying or doing things in reaction that I shouldn’t. But I am happy to find through Tolle, some help in dealing with agitation. Perhaps with practice I’ll become a more calm, peaceful person when bugged by something or someone.
This morning after prayer and meditation, I read a section of Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. At a coffee shop recently a friend of mine saw me reading that book and said: “Are you STILL reading that book? Haven’t you finished it yet?” What I’ve been doing though is just reading a little bit everyday, kind of like a daily meditation. This morning I continued reading his section on relationships and how to deal with stress or conflict.
For any of you who are partnered, I highly recommend this read. Any of us who are alive and breathing have relationships, whether they be partners, family, co-workers or friends. Conflicts are inevitable. Tolle gives some great direction on how to deal with those situations when someone starts getting on your nerves. He speaks of getting outside the ego, and approaching the person from a place of inner “presence.” When we have our judging ego out of the way, we can peacefully point out things to our partners, friends or co-workers. By doing so we remove judgment and emotionally charged response. Of course, if the other person isn’t present and is in their ego, they will probably get hurt and react in some way. It’s important for us not to get our ego back in the picture by reacting in turn. But if they are awake, they will be able to simply listen. Conversely, when someone points something out to us in a non-judgmental way, we will simply be able to listen without judging or reacting.
Some great advise, I think, for living and loving well. I’ve got a ways to go in getting my ego out of the way. But this is a great tool to have and to practice, instead of allowing emotional reaction to run amuck!
Once again, I’m not strictly speaking of finding a boyfriend, but happiness, the ever allusive happiness that we all seek.
Last night at a coffee shop I began reading a book called The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and spiritual guide who, in his many books and conferences, brought together Eastern and Western spirituality. He himself was raised in India so was familiar with Eastern concepts. If you have not read anything by him or about him I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! It’s amazing how very much in line he is with the thinking of Tolle, Dyer, Jung, Frankl and many others who speak of being free of ego attachments and realizing the grace of living happiness in this moment no matter what is happening around us. These people, I believe, like the Christ, have keys that can make a tremendous difference in living a happy, more peaceful life. The Way to Love is a very small volume, something you could carry in your pocket, but is packed with lots of insight and practical wisdom that can change the way you go about life! It’s published by Image Books, Doubleday.
Last night, on the heals of yesterday’s meditation, I read De Mello’s take on ever allusive happiness. He says we are programmed from birth to believe that we cannot be happy without things, that happiness lay somewhere in the future when I get this person, thing or place. Or we are programmed to believe that if we just change the situation and the people around us, then we’ll be happy, or when all our desires are fulfilled we’ll be happy. All of these are FALSE. It is only when we stop clinging to these things that we begin to experience what peace and happiness is. It is only when we let go of these things and simply live this moment and accept what is here and now that we can begin to live in a greater state of peace and happiness. For then we won’t waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get this or that or to change this or that circumstance in our lives (See pp.5-12 The Way to Love) It’s difficult for me to put this in words, but I know what it feels like when I stop looking to the future for happiness, or some person, place of thing. I know what it is to experience peace and happiness when I accept interruptions to my day, or when my day hasn’t gone as I had planned, or when something seemingly bad happens. I know what it feels like when I simply accept that and stop resisting it.
I want to continue exploring this. I find myself being lead to read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences when he was in a concentration camp in World War II and how he found that even in such horrible and unspeakably inhumane circumstances, one could still be happy. Imagine the freedom!
OK, I really don’t NEED a boyfriend (Although if there are any good guys out there, drop me a line! :-)). I woke up this morning and looked over at the other side of the bed, the empty side, and I immediately found myself thinking that I was missing something, and that if I just had “him” (whoever “he” might be) laying next to me and walking through life with me, then life would be good! Gratefully, I quickly “woke up” and realized that I was beginning to feel badly due to some perceived lack, when the reality is, life is good right now in this moment!
Do you ever find yourself thinking or feeling that? Ever find yourself thinking and yearning for this or that, whether it’s a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, a house, a new apartment, new furniture, moving to a new place, being this or that kind of person, or in this or that kind of profession? “If I just had that. If I just had him. If I just lived there. If I just were a ______ (fill in the blank). If I just didn’t suffer from _________. If I just had a different job. If I just had a different partner. If I just had a day off . . .Then life would be good!” And the list goes on. Consciously or unconsciously most of us walk through our days with such thoughts running around in our heads. And as a result we stay in a perpetual state of agitation and lack of fulfillment.
We are always bombarded with messages that say just that. Listen to love songs, observe commercials, watch sitcoms and movies. The message is usually: “You lack this and you really need it. Then you’ll live happily ever after!” Look at shows like American Idol and the like. People clamor after fame and this perceived “good life.” When I get there, then life will be great! Every day we are bombarded with images of beautiful people with seemingly perfect lives, or even spiritual “gurus” who make us believe that we too could have what they have and then we would be happy! If we get to the day to day reality of these people’s lives we will find that their reality, their concerns, their struggles are much like ours. Eckhart Tolle says that whether we have seemingly “arrived” or not, the world of form will ALWAYS disappoint. If we place our happiness or our fulfillment on this person, place, thing or fame of some sort – and even if we place our spiritual fulfillment on some future happening or place we go to – we will be frustrated. The key he says is accepting what is NOW and simply living the present moment. Once we do so, we will find a peace and contentment that is true and NOT DEPENDENT on our external environment or having this or that. Then, ironically, we will fully and freely (without clinging) enjoy the people, things or places that are around us.
I was listening to a talk this morning given by Ekhart Tolle. In it, he mentioned something interesting. He was talking about the ego mind that most of us live in without even realizing it. The ego mind is always judging and analyzing things and always reaching out for more. What struck me is when he said that in order to analyze something we have to kill it, or it is killed in the process of analyzing.
Isn’t that true? When we are constantly analyzing ourselves, our partners, our co-workers or even God we kill the experience of simply being with ourselves, our partners, co-workers or God. Instead of living and experiencing the grace of life, we get trapped in our minds and end up extinguishing all that Life has to offer. When we think about what love is, instead of simply reaching out and experiencing it, we miss the point. When we think about God or reach for the next “spiritual” experience, we miss the peace of simply experiencing the Eternal Presence within us and everything around us at this moment.
Can I get out of my head today and simply be present to myself, to my partner, God and all that is. I was going to say can I “try” to be present; but trying connotes further striving, reaching and grasping, instead of simply being present. Instead of analyzing today, try to simply listen and be present.
After I meditate and lift up needs that I see, I usually chant a hymn and a psalm from the simple and beautiful chant of the Camaldolese Monks in Big Sur CA. I then spend a bit of time in some spiritual reading. I currently read one of the readings from Vigils in the Benedictine Daily Prayer published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN. I also like to do a reading from the Carmelites of Indianapolis’ Companion to the Breviary. I find this book of Morning and Evening Prayer filled with thought provoking readings and prayers and I like their use of inclusive language. Just do a Google search and you’ll be able to find it. There is a one volume version and a two volume version.
Recently I also end my reading with a short passage from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. I find his insights very, very helpful. I use his book more like a meditation book that daily reminds me of good practice, rather than something that I read at a sitting and then put down. I find myself going back to his book again and again. He also has a nice shorter version out for this pupose called: Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations and Exercises from The Power of Now.
Currently, the reason why I read both ancient and modern texts is that I like to compare the wisdom that comes from both. I find that there are many similarities. Good modern sources, like Tolle’s works simply put many much of the wisdom of ancients texts in fresh language and make it accessible to the masses. Of course, as far as ancient texts go I am most familiar with Judeo-Christian texts. However I would like to begin reading other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text or the Koran.
A brief comment on reading and praying. I know this may sound like a LOT, but it’s not so much about how much is read. The passages are pretty brief. It’s more about reading slowly and with awareness. Christian monks speak of “Lectio Divina,” or Divine Reading – Sacred Reading. It’s simply a practice of reading slowly and with awareness, conscious that these words have Power and are able to change and form us. If a particular line hits me, I STOP and stay with it for a while and let it sink in.
Another word about reading and prayer in general. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a lot of different “things.” Keep it simple, especially at first. Just use some reading that is a thought provoking and life changing and just do a LITTLE each day. Again, a little bit done consistently is better than a lot done sporadically.
I end this time of meditation, prayer and reading with some concluding prayer, usually taken from the intercessions and closing prayer of the day from the Companion to the Breviary.
Are you ever attacked by a feeling that grabs you out of the blue and holds you captive? OK, I’m going to be embarrassed to admit this, but here goes. At the airport a couple of weeks ago I saw two cute guys talking in a bar/restaurant and it became obvious to me that they had just met and were interested in each other. Before they parted for their flights they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. I found myself jealous. How stupidly immature it seemed of me! Where the hell was this coming from?
When I was able to step back and simply observe what I was feeling I quickly came to realize that this was a perfect example of the ego within. The ego ALWAYS wants more and is NEVER satisfied. It constantly reaches out for something more to fill its seeming emptiness. Sometimes it’s things. Sometimes it’s a place. And sometimes it’s a person. We are driven by it at various times. Instead of remembering all that we have had and have in our lives and being content with that, the ego constantly keeps us agitated, insisting that we MUST have this NOW, or else we will find ourselves eternally unhappy! This is the great lie, the great illusion that keeps us running after this or that. The advertising industry knows this full well!
The paradox is that if we listen to the ego and keep reaching out for what we don’t have, we will INDEED be unhappy! Conversely, if we gently let go of the screaming ego in our minds and become present, we will find that we lack nothing and we become open again to what Life will bring in THIS moment. When I became conscious of this, suddenly I wasn’t jealous of these two guys anymore and, with a smile, I wished them well as I overheard one of them call the other guy shortly after they parted and leave him a message. Who knows, maybe it will be a love connection that carries them through life?
When I become conscious of the chatter and pull of the ego, I quickly am able to let go. Envy turns to gratitude and celebration! And, paradoxically, in the letting go I am open to Life as it is and become present to Its surprises.