Ordinary Awakening

Posted Posted in Breathe Yoga Newsletter

This is from the May newsletter of Breathe Yoga & Wellness in downtown Pensacola:

Ordinary awakening… Ordinary awakening? Ordinary awakening?? How do those two words go together?! Let’s find out, because they totally do. And it’s short notice (I’m still working on my marketing skills), but I’ll be giving a talk by that name at Breathe Yoga & Wellness on Friday, April 24 from 7-8:30. It’ll cost $10 and will include a very cool guided meditation at the beginning and end. The one at the end will be the deeper one, because we don’t want everyone to be too zoned out for the talk. And the one at the beginning will really be about just “making our home in the breathing” for a bit, so that we can see how little time it takes to put our world aside and do that. And how quickly we feel a shift into a totally different space, a space where awakening happens. Even when we’re in traffic or at work. What??

Let’s talk more about this space. It’s a space that’s more peaceful. A space that’s inside of you all the time (including now, and you don’t even have to do anything). A space where wisdom and common sense live. A space that doesn’t judge so much, but knows how to forgive. A space that can handle guilt, shame, and regret about the past. A space that can handle worries about the future. A space that can handle the loss of loved ones. We might not experience this space all the time, but it’s built-in and it’s always there. It can only be covered up. By what? You guessed it! By our thinking. By how we’re seeing things in that moment. [For some essential background info, feel free to read my first two Breathe articles: Hello, Breathe!Do I Have To Change My Thinking?]

So how does all of this talk about some peaceful space that’s always inside of me relate to ordinary awakening? Because it means that you don’t have to meditate for ten hours a day to start to wake up to the fact that you’re more than a body. And you don’t have to be ruled by emotion. You don’t have to argue. You don’t have to feel small. You don’t have to defend yourself all the time. You don’t have to… The list goes on. When we live more and more from that space inside of us, we just start to wake up. And we’re not trying to “figure it out.” The thinking mind actually cannot figure out peace. Let that one sink in for a bit… This is because peace is way beyond it. Trust me, I tried to figure out peace for over ten years. It. Doesn’t. Work.

This way is much easier, anyway. I mean, if peace is already inside of me, then I just have to practice getting out of the way in each moment! And your life starts to flow. Synchronicities happen. Things in the outer world shift if they need to shift. People might drop out of your life, and others might enter. You might move. And it all happens because we’ve fired ourselves from being in charge of our peace, of our awakening. We’re riding instead of driving. We’re not paying as much attention to that thinking mind, even when it’s loud. And we’re slowing down. And you know what? We end up finding peace much, much faster. Because we let peace find us.

You have all you need right now, built-in, to thrive in this life. That includes living your life’s purpose, whatever it may be. It includes feeling pretty awesome at least most of the time. I mean, most of us still have our moments… But when you learn how to spend more of your time living from your wisdom/common sense, moods are not as big a deal and they don’t last as long. When you make your home in the breathing, especially, low moods find it very hard to survive. We just don’t get that low to begin with. And when we do, no big deal. We know what to do. We dive a bit deeper inside of ourselves by making our home in the breathing, and then we can see what this is all about. And we deal with it if any dealing needs to happen, and the feeling passes. This is the fast way.

My goal in life is to spell this out so clearly, so let’s give it some time to develop as we talk here in this space. I want this to be incredibly practical for everyone that reads it. That’s where the “ordinary” part comes from. If it doesn’t help when I get frustrated in traffic or at work or wherever, then it’s not that great to me. And let me say that I’ve done some things that would be considered advanced spiritual practices involving complex energetic meditations and lots of work with the energy bodies. Having been on both sides, I think you have to get this stuff down first. This is the fast way. And then get into that stuff if it’s a natural fit. But with a totally different attitude. And with the bonus of knowing what to do when things go down in traffic or at work. And you can deal with it right there and then. You don’t have to wait until later when you’re elsewhere. This is the 24/7 approach, and it’s so, so ordinary. Life knows how to push your buttons just at the right time, because Life knows that each of those buttons is the doorway way to inner peace. And now you know how to open that door: go to the breath and out of the head, put space around the feeling, and ask what this is about, what this is telling you, out of pure innocence and curiosity. And let the answer come.

So say “Yes!” and come with me on this journey of ordinary awakening. There will be more of these talks to come, and they’ll deepen and deepen as my own path continues. And we’ll spell it all out on this blog anyway. There’s a difference quality of experience, though, when we’re all gathered together, and that feeling or experience is what we’re really looking for. It models what you have available to you all the time. I love this stuff. And I love you. Thanks for joining with me here.

The Huge Gloomy Weight… Exposed!

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

I have to tell you about the coolest story that illustrates how we create the feelings in our bodies out of thin air. I really love this one. So I’m doing webcam sessions with one of the graduates of Gulf Breeze Recovery, the drug and alcohol rehab facility where I work part time. She learned all about the Three Principles there, and she’s really kicking, despite some challenges in the current set up of her life. She’s learning how to “relax into it” and live from her wisdom more and more. Here we go…

During our first session after she’d gotten home, she told me about the most awful feeling she had when she drove up to her house and walked in the door for the first time. She said it was like a “huge gloomy weight. I felt sick and it was hard to breathe, kind of like a panicky feeling.” Wow! A full-on nauseous feeling… the mind sure is powerful. I didn’t bat an eye when I heard this because it makes total sense given the circumstances. And in a minute it will make total sense to you as well, if it doesn’t already. I actually thought something like, “Wow, that’s so cool!” Again, the mind is very powerful.

I asked her how long this feeling lasted, and she the rest of the day and night. She woke up and it was totally gone, though. So for several hours, basically. We’ll take that. It beats a few days or weeks, and it beats an alcohol relapse. And here’s the cool part. It could have easily lasted only a few minutes, certainly less than an hour, with more understanding and practice. That’s why I tell all the current guests at GBR this story so that they’re prepared. But the rest of the day is not bad at all, so I say to her GREAT job!

Next, we talked about where this feeling came from, and as we talked she knew. The memory of her alcohol issue came flooding back in the moment she walked through that door. In just an instant, without the time to consciously do any remembering or thinking, her mind brought to the surface all the lies, stress, guilt, shame, regrets, and energy consumed with hiding this habit from her fiancé and her daughter. It all came flooding back at once, and the body did what it always does – it reflected what was going on in the mind. That’s all a feeling is, after all – a reaction to thinking. And most of it is not conscious thinking. It’s more like how we’re seeing things at that moment. So it all came up and the body felt a “huge gloomy weight,” which was both nauseous and panicky. Wow, what amazing creators we all are… seriously! [Hint: we’re probably going to focus on this last sentence some in the future here. I did it with a feeling of frustration this weekend and the feeling vanished, leaving me clear to see what it was I was frustrated about. And it was an awesome growth experience].

We’re living in a world of thought, folks, and the more you see it in action, the less heavy it is. It’s lightening up for me all the time. I even had some chances to practice this weekend! I love this story of the huge gloomy weight because it’s so extreme. It shows us how real it can seem. She literally felt like she could throw up! And it’s anything but reality. How do we know this? Because her fiancé and daughter didn’t feel a thing. Nothing! She alone created it and she alone experienced it. Wow. And we’re doing this all the time!

That’s pretty much all I peddle here and at my coaching & counseling practice, an understanding that this is what’s going on for all humans all the time. And each year that passes, it sinks in more and more deeply. And more and more peace emerges. And that huge gloomy weight eventually becomes a joke. Before long I’m going to introduce the idea of asking some “wonder questions” about these feelings so that we can take a deeper look. All in time good time. Happy practicing, and let me know if I can help!

Part 2, The Butterfly

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Part 1 of this post described a downtrodden guy in rehab and on the brink of divorce. Pretty much over the brink, actually. It’s well worth the read. I and many others worked with him at Gulf Breeze Recovery (GBR), where he studied the Three Principles, and wow! His life sure has changed. Actually, it’s the exact same life that he had before and hated. His life didn’t change; he changed. He recently spoke to a class that I taught at GBR via Zoom, which is like Skype. Here’s what he’s like now after gaining a simple understanding of the mind and putting it into practice.

The first thing he said is that living really isn’t even that hard. He has the same life, the same job, the same wife, the same kids, and the same house. He hated his life before, and now he loves it. He’s happier now than he’s ever been. He didn’t even know a person could feel this way! And it’s not even hard. Wow. He’s off all of those psych meds, he’s not drinking or using any other drugs, and he feels awesome. He was recently at home washing the dishes, and he felt so much gratitude well up that he cried tears of joy for 15-20 minutes. I’ve had the same experience before, so I know how truly amazing it is. Very humbling, too. And no, I don’t really like washing dishes.

He had lost his job as a result of his issues, and he was able to get it back. He simply told his boss his story as authentically as he could, and he wasn’t looking for any particular outcome. He was just honest. And you know what? She could see that and she gave it back to him. And I’m sure she’s very happy she did based on what he’s like now. Also, note that it’s a pretty stressful job. Now he knows where stress comes from, though. It comes from how he sees things, not the things themselves. This is a game changer. So he doesn’t have to drink a bunch of alcohol to cover up the stress. That stress is actually valuable information letting him know that he’s doing some low quality thinking. So he takes care of it at the source and it goes away.

Another thing he said is that there are other times like when he was washing those dishes that he just feels these deeper positive feelings, deeper than emotions, rise up out of nowhere. And insights about life just pop into his head at random times. He started writing them down and sharing them on Facebook, and people started really liking them. So much so that one person said he should write his story in a book; that it would help people. This blew him away. He literally said that he used to think he was a loser who had no life, and now he’s found these deep, awesome feelings coming from within. And they are within you and me right now and can only be covered up. And now it looks like he’s going to write a book that’ll help others find this peace that’s inside of them! Really? Is this the same guy??

The key to all of this is his thinking. He still notices bad thoughts, but he described them as a stray cat. If you don’t feed it, it won’t hang around. And here’s the best part. When this happens, he just waits for another thought and a better one comes along. The key word there is waits. What’s he doing? He’s spending more time in his built-in wisdom/common sense than in his head. Ask and ye shall receive. And what do you know? He feels better. And he’s noticed that it’s not even hard. Also note that he used to be a devotee of the intellect. He’s very intelligent, after all. Now he goes with the feeling, though. He has experienced first hand the truth that his inner wisdom/intuition/common sense is more intelligent than even the smartest of humans. This is the shift from the head to the heart. And this is a math guy talking (me)! This stuff really does work.

Another important thing to note is that by not feeding those bad thoughts, they don’t grow. You see, it’s not the thought that’s the problem; it’s the feeding, which is more thinking along the same lines. There’s where we create really bad feelings in our body. He stopped doing that by learning about it and then by living and practicing. And he does find himself in a low mood sometimes, but he doesn’t make a big deal over it. He knows it’ll pass. He stays out of his head, though, and maybe listens to a CD of a teacher he likes. He loves Sydney Banks, and he said it doesn’t take long before the mood is gone. This is NOT the way he used to live before. Can you see the power in this?? Wow…

Regarding his marriage, what hit home was something he read in a book by Sydney Banks, the founder of the Three Principles, while at GBR. Maybe it was The Enlightened Gardener? I don’t remember. But it was that your partner needs to be your best friend. We’ve all heard that, but he’s taken it to heart, and he says his relationship with his wife is now way better than it ever was, and it’s not even close. The entire relationship has been transformed. They’re even planning on renewing their vows. And I think he had to beg her not to send divorce papers to GBR!

This is a real life transformation, letting what’s always been inside each of us come out to live and breathe and play. It was always there and was out in the open when he was a child. That didn’t last long, though; it got covered up when the teenage years hit. And now that it’s out in the open again, there’s no going back. And that’s a beautiful thing. My thanks to him for letting me write this up, and I hope it helps you. If you want what he has now, first know that you already have it. It’s inside of you right now at this very moment and can only be covered up. It’s all about your thinking, and this is a very learnable thing. Then you just gently practice. Which radio station are you listening to in any moment, your ego voice or your built-in wisdom/common sense? Your body will tell you by how it feels. And as always, let me know if I can help – it just takes education and then gentle practice. And the education is all over this blog. All the best to you, and let me know if I can help!

Part 1, The Caterpillar

Posted Posted in Client/Friend Stories

Today we are going to hear the tale of a caterpillar that has turned into a butterfly. I know, that sounds totally cheesy. Like, very cheesy. I really don’t know any other way of describing what I witnessed the other morning, though. Let’s set it up first.

I’ve mentioned before that I work part time as a teacher at a local inpatient alcohol and substance abuse facility called Gulf Breeze Recovery (GBR). It’s a really cool place. It’s a non-12-step place, because that model doesn’t work for everyone. It certainly works for lots of people and has helped countless folks over the years, so I’m not knocking it. This is different, though, and it’s badass. Instead of 12-step, the paradigm is called Three Principles (which I recently wrote about, and which is what makes the therapy I’m doing work so well. Not for everyone, of course – I’m still working on that and doing my best!). Some of the transformations I’ve seen at GBR are absolutely jaw dropping. And it’s simply the true Self coming out. We don’t have to learn to be a better person; we just have to learn what gets in the way of our most awesome Self, which is built-in. And it has everything to do with the quality of our thinking.

I used to work there about 20 hours a week, and now I teach just one class a week, Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-5:00. And I love it. I covered for another teacher recently in a morning class, and she had already scheduled a past graduate to talk to the group through Zoom, which is a webcam meeting space like Skype. This guy had been out for about six months, and I hadn’t heard anything about him since. Of course I could only assume he was doing well since he was scheduled to Zoom in. I had no idea he was doing this well, though. And maybe what really struck me was how ordinary it all was. You’ll see what I mean. I was just blown away and so happy to “randomly” cover for the other teacher on this particular morning, which I never do. There are no coincidences… So I wanted to share his story with you because it shows the built-in potential for all of us.

He started off simply speaking from the heart, and he said some pretty money stuff right off the bat. I started taking notes so I could go over some of the highlights with the group after he signed off. I wanted to make sure this sank in as deeply as possible with them, because I really want them to thrive when they leave. And this guy is the blueprint. I’ll put this in the best order I can, but it might be a bit random. All good, though.

The first thing was that he was totally authentic and just told his story with no pretenses, no show. He said he was fine as a kid, but by at least the age of twelve he started having some very unpleasant emotions. And note that in a more advanced society, learning about our thinking will be standard education in elementary school. I’m doing some of that now with middle schoolers, and it’s really cool. It’s ready to be more widespread, though. Back to the story… By the age of thirteen, he was drinking and either using drugs or using them shortly thereafter. This went on for the next thirty years, with periods of sobriety sprinkled in here and there. I think he said alcohol was the main thing more recently. He’d go to 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous during the sober times, but nothing ever lasted.

Then there was the not-so-small fact that he was way overly medicated by his psychiatrist. He was on six different psych meds when he arrived at GBR. Six! These are the standard meds for anxiety and depression, which are WAY over-prescribed (remember my previous post about the Anxiety “Specialist” that one of my clients went to. What a freaking joke.). His bosses thought he was on drugs while he was at work. And you know what? He was! And they were the ones that the professionals had prescribed. If a person’s system is that out of whack from that many pills, I can totally see why they’d drink so much!

And then there was his marriage. It was so bad that his wife either sent divorce papers to GBR or was about to. Maybe she was going to and he convinced her to at least wait until he was back home and could do it all in person. I mean, it was that close to being over. Her mind was pretty much made up. I remember talking to him while he was there and helping him really release the outcome so he wouldn’t be acting out of fear. Then he’d be able to put his best foot forward and accept the result much better than he would have been able to otherwise. When we’re crippled with fear that a certain outcome happens or doesn’t happen, and we don’t stop and deal with it, we’re simply not able to put our best foot forward. So I had no idea how the marriage had turned out. It sure didn’t look good, though.

So that was the caterpillar. Sitting in rehab on the brink of divorce, but doing his best to understand more about the mind and find peace. Now let’s talk about the butterfly. I’ve put it in a separate post here since it’d be a bit long otherwise. Enjoy!