Posts tagged #eckhart tolle

Surrender Your Addiction to Suffering: Part Two

 

In the first post in this series, I talked about how the addiction to suffering is the addiction that underlies all other addictions and outlined 9 daily commitments that help us to let go of this fundamental dis-ease.

 

Now, let's go in depth talking about the first of those daily commitments:

 

1) Notice that your mind continuously judges against you and against people and situations in your life.

 

This is a daily commitment because our negative judgments are slippery fish.  It might seem that they'd be easy to spot, but that's not necessarily the case.  If you've been doing personal growth and spirituality for a little while, probably your mind no longer comes at you with its flat-out, direct attacks.  You may have already learned to let go of really explicit self-judgements ("I'm so stupid! I'll never be able to do this!") but you might still be vulnerable to more subtle forms of judgment like envy, comparison and resentment.

 

Sometimes I wish that contests existed to recognize very finely twisted malevolent inner qualities, because if so, my exquisitely crafted envy would win the blue ribbon every year.

 

It's not that I consciously cultivate my envy (to the contrary! I spend plenty of time practicing rejoicing in other people's success-- and that practice has helped A LOT - otherwise I would have had to jump off a bridge by now).  It's that the envy just prances out, sashaying its little gremlin ass, digging its pointy little dagger-claws into my heart.

 

Envy is a judgment both against me and the world. Against me it (subtly, quietly, yet definitely) says: look at you-- you're not good enough! You're just an ordinary person-- and that person over there-- they've achieved so much! So many things you've dreamt of achieving! What were you doing, slacking all those years watching funny cat videos?! LOSER!

 

Against the world it says (subtly, definitely): You're a cold, cruel place that's advanced other people and left me in the dry dust.

 

This kind of quiet, persistent, ever-available suffering that my envy generates (there's a huge supply of people to envy-- opportunities are afforded hourly via facebook, twitter, and every magazine on the planet!) constitutes a global rejection of myself and my life.  When I'm in it, it saps all my energy and leaves me unable to be fully present and helpful to my friends.

 

And the thing is, my mind just does it, on auto-pilot, without me making a conscious decision to do it.

 

Of course, not all negative judgment takes the form of envy.  For you, the flavor of your poison might be a little different.  Maybe your mind likes to come at you with good old-fashioned resentment and hostility. Perhaps you find your thoughts drifting repeatedly to the wrong that some person or institution has done to you.  Maybe you just wake up in the morning and everything looks kind of grey and pointless.  While shopping at the grocery store it could occur to you that everyone and everything there is irritating and ugly.

 

Just start by noticing that your mind plays this rejection game, whatever flavor it takes.  Notice how often you're finding fault, taking stock of the potential for ruinous failure, feeling hopeless or dispirited.

 

If you're like me, you might begin to realize that this rejection, this judgment is just something your mind does automatically-- and since it's automatic, it's meaningless.  It doesn't actually reflect the truth about the value of you, other people, the world, your life. It's not a valid, intelligent response.  It's a program, a mechanism. It's just an ingrained habit.

 

Start to realize that you could be living in paradise and your mind would still find a way to make you miserable, and you come a little closer to freedom.  You come a little closer to realizing that the trouble is not your essential self, in the world or in your life but just within your thoughts. And that's really good news, because that means you have the power to end that suffering.

 

Love!

Carolyn

 

 

 

 

Surrender your addiction to suffering - Part One

 

If you're like me, your mind's default setting is "I suck and everything sucks."  Your life may have lots of wondrous things in it, but still you wake up in the morning with a feeling of dread that could impress Franz Kafka.  This feeling can shake off at some point during the day-- or it can grip you continuously.  It's paralyzing and heavy.  It can make it difficult to complete creative projects, go to work, or just be out and about in the world.

 

This perception of suckiness and the feeling of heavy dread that accompanies it is part of a spiritual illness that many of us human beings have, namely, the disease of addiction.

 

The disease of addiction is, at base, just that: dis-ease.  It's the discomfort, difficulty, suffering that comes from attaching to and believing in the thoughts and stories that the mind produces, especially the negative and frightening stories. Once that basic dis-ease is happening, it prompts us to reach towards behaviors and substances to soothe the internal discomfort: over-eating, over-sleeping, coffee, cigarettes, obsessive romance, drugs, on and on.

 

Unsurprisingly, the "soothing" behaviors that we adopt to cope with the dread themselves have painful consequences that only make us feel worse.  Every high brings with it a yucky low.

 

You probably have experience with quitting your symptom-level addictions. That's what New Year's resolutions are for, right? But don't your symptoms always re-surface again, in some form? Life gets stressful and soon you're back on the wheel?

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5CLmflrwIA

 

What if it was possible to strike the disease of addiction right at its root?  What if you could be free not only from the substances and behaviors that hook you into painful cycles, but also from your addiction to suffering itself?

 

This is the possibility that interests me.  Lately I've been smoking like a forest fire, pouring coffee into my mouth, eating chocolate in quantities that would astound Willy Wonka himself ("Augustus! Augustus, honey, stop! Save room for later!"), and procrastinating on important projects.  I want to stop indulging in these dubious "comforts" -- but I want more than that, too.  I want to drop the painful mental processes that cause me to reach for such comforts in the first place.

 

I know that this dropping is possible because I've accomplished it for periods of time recently. I know that freedom from the mind's tyranny feels like wondrous spaciousness, deep love, and a rich sense of hope and possibility. It feels like being in total agreement with the flow of reality-- even when reality doesn't match up with my ego's dictates of what should be happening.  What interests me is living in this spaciousness and flow all the time, not just for short visits.

 

So I'm inviting you to join me on a journey of letting go of the fundamental dis-ease. This journey consists in a series of nine daily commitments that are simple but radical:

 

  1. Notice that your mind continuously judges against you and against people and situations in your life
  2. Understand that these judgments, though voiced by your own internal monologue, represent the distorted perceptions of a spiritual dis-ease and not "the truth"
  3. Get honest with yourself about the consequences of exactly what happens when you accept your mind's judgments as "the truth" and then act on them or allow them to affect your mood
  4. Recognize when you've hurt someone as a result of your dis-eased thinking and make immediate amends
  5. Vividly imagine what your life would feel like without your mind's judgments and stories about the past and future playing all the time
  6. Practice having faith that it's possible to be totally sane, joyous, and free, no matter what's happening
  7. Experiment with fully agreeing with reality as it is rather than as your mind says it should be
  8. Attempt to be fully present as loving awareness with yourself and with others
  9. Give up trying to figure out the future at all and instead simply trust that the silent, loving awareness of your being will lead you where you need to be
I'll be writing posts about the how to's and benefits of practicing each of these commitments. As we get ready to take this journey together, I ask you to ponder this question and to answer it in the comments section: do you really believe that a life free from suffering is possible? And if not, why not?
Love!
Carolyn

 

 

 

 

 

What is Depression?

Reitdiep RainbowCreative Commons License photo credit: The Wolf  

 

Depression-- hopelessness, dread-- waking up in the morning and feeling like there's no point to being awake-- what is that, really? Is it just a chemical imbalance in the brain?

Yes and no.

The brain (like the rest of our bodies) is a physical manifestation of our soul.  This means that chemical imbalances in the brain reflect spiritual suffering. No treatment for depression is really complete unless it addresses both the spiritual and physical dimensions of the affliction.

Depression is a symptom of suffering genius. Our genius suffers when she feels trapped, unacknowledged and unable to express herself fully in the world. This happens all too often in our present society-- which, for all it's celebration of commodified individuality is actually quite opposed to genuine expressions of soul-- like love and ecstasy.  (If you're curious about this hostility, try having an ecstatic transport in a grocery store and see how people respond.)

Yet no matter how harsh the external conditions, this feeling of being trapped is always an illusion.  We're always free to express our genius, even if we sense the consequence of that expression would be something scary-- like losing our jobs or losing a friend.  Just acknowledging the fact that we are choosing to restrain ourselves because we don't like the potential consequences to being who we really are can allow us to regain a sense of our basic freedom and begin to lift the burden of depression.

At the same time, we also need to overcome the fears that would keep us in our limiting position.  We may need to honor the fact that when we embrace our true selves, we lose some safety and security, some approval and predictability.  We may need to deliberately give up the comfort that we've known in order to embrace the radically unknown world of our possibility.

When I'm struggling with a limiting belief or situation, my friends like to remind me that I'll change "when the pain becomes great enough." This is true.  I will.  Yet some people don't change when the pain becomes great enough-- or rather, they change in far too dramatic a fashion.  They kill themselves.

I've endured depression many times and I've felt tempted to make that all-too-radical change from life into death.  What I've discovered each time depression gripped me is that it's always true: "I" do have to die.  But the "I" that needs to die is never the real me, my physical body and my actual spirit. The "I" which needs to die is the little ego who wants and demands that life go a certain way and is incredibly pissed that it won't. This "I" despairs.  This "I" judges me with intense cruelty and harshness.  I've found that depression is the invitation which asks this "I" to die.

So if you're feeling depressed today-- let me ask you-- what demand are you holding on to that isn't getting met?  And what would happen if you just let that demand die-- if you just let go of it?  Who would you be without that demand?

 

A Simple Practice of Nonresistance

I really love this quote from Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth:

Nonresistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe. Through it, consciousness (spirit) is freed from its imprisonment in form. (p. 208)

I think it's fair to say that nonresistance is the same thing as non-attachment, since resistance and attachment are two sides of the same toe-stubbing human habit of demanding that things be a certain way and demanding that they not be a few other ways.

DSC_0009_edited-1 Creative Commons License photo credit: mel_rowling

I'm in resistance most all of the time about something: I resist my new haircut--it's too short! I resist the weather-- it's too cold! I resist being me -- I'm ordinary and not abiding in cosmic bliss! I resist habitually, every day, almost all the time unless I make a conscious effort to let go.

Tolle goes on to say:

Resistance makes the world and the things of the world appear more real, more solid, and more lasting than they are, including your own form identity, the ego.

Sheesh.  What is this guy, enlightened? He knows everything about me. When I get really quiet and attentive, I notice that basically my whole experience of being "me" is constituted by my resistance to stuff I don't want and my demand for stuff I do.

I notice that I'm especially uptight this morning.  Positive changes are happening in my life, and change of any kind is scary to the part of me that wants to be always in control.

It occurs to me that nonresistance is a key part of entering the gift world. I mean, you know: behold the lilies of the field! or the blossoms of the cherry bough! They do not toil, and neither do they spin. And yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these. A really cool dude said that one time.

In other words, the experience of myself and my life as part of an unlimited gracious abundance only arrives when I'm not busy trying to manipulate and control the world, i.e., not toiling or spinning.

So here's my meditation today:

1. Close eyes.

2. Think of various situations in my life and to each of them say, "No resistance, no argument, I allow you to be exactly as you are."

3. Savor the feeling of nonresistance, the spacious sense of acceptance.

4. Repeat.

 

Love,

Carolyn

Posted on April 15, 2011 and filed under The Gift World.