Posts filed under Addiction

17 Bizarre Philosophies that Made me my first $10,000 month (with accompanying music videos)

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The genuinely bizarre things I believe all contribute to my current rags-to-riches success, wherein in 2015 I ran enterprise based on teaching magic and writing from a tropical island, and made about $10,000 a month.... in 2016 I moved home and raised my income to over $20,000 a month. 

Now, in 2019, I'm averaging well over $70,000 a month.  It's not by accident, of course.  It's the result of some far-out insights combined with writing and teaching.

Note: This business has been 100% boot strapped and involved a lot of eating from food banks and sleeping on friend's couches to get started. There's been no parental financing, no sugar daddy, no nothin' of the sort. 

I would call myself a "self-made woman" but I don't love that term - since the truth is I've been nurtured in my weirdness by a whole host of people, so I'm a community-made woman - specifically, a Pittsburgh-made woman.

I know a lot of you out there in internet land (especially the magically and artistically inclined amongst you) would be curious to know the attitudes and beliefs that have gone into creating my business success.

So I decided to write down all the bizarre stuff that I 100% believe here in this convenient list format, so hopefully people can read it and

1) learn from it and

2) know all about me up-front, so I don't have to constantly deal with personally shocking and disturbing them. 

1. Having is evidence of wanting, but only always.

I'm not even going to explain this one much. Just think about it. Really think about it. What would it mean in your life if this were true? And would you be willing to gently open up to enjoying that fact about yourself without judging and shaming or hating yourself for it? 

Maybe? Okay? No? Well then, that's cool, you can stop reading. You don't have to waste your time with me and I promise you won't dig what I have to say at all.

Because most everything I ever say is some variant of "Having is evidence of wanting."

As for me, once upon a time, I thought I didn't want to be living trapped below the poverty level.  But having is evidence of wanting, and actually a large part of my soul did want exactly that.

I also thought I didn't want to be in shitty abusive relationships with insane, possessive men who treated me like I was some kind of drug instead of a person - but fascinatingly, a major part of my soul, once again - did want exactly that

It was only when I stopped judging and shaming the part of me that adored poverty and having men be addicted to me that I interrupted the pattern of shame and self-hatred that kept me wanting - and creating - those dark situations.
 

2. Magic is 10% intention, 90% liberating your attention from your attachments and aversions, your habitual unconscious patterns, and your shame and your resentment.

Vision Boards and the Law of Attraction and a century of New Ageism got lots of magically-inclined folks whipped up into thinking that all they needed to do was "intend" something and it would happen.

Yeah, like no.

I mean, intending stuff and having it happen does totally work, if you're very free from attachment and aversion and unconscious self-defeating patterns. Are you?

Are you like, Gautama Buddha-level free of your patterns?

If no, and you hope to be effective at practical magic, then I would spend way way way way way way more time on the work of liberating your attention from being trapped in those patterns and way way way way way less time on getting your precious "intentions" just right.

Liberated attention is power.  Liberated attention is joy.

Your intentions aren't worth much unless they've got tons of power behind them.

If you're at all like most of us humans, pretty much all of your attention and all of your power and all of your joy is currently trapped in bullshit self-defeating patterns that got embedded into you early in your life through trauma, abuse and coercion, whether familial or societal or both.

Cheers, enjoy, kiddo! - signed, the legacy of all humanity preceding you, especially the founders of modern Western society. 

3. In this world, wealth comes from getting okay with being a predator. 

Does that sound evil, being a predator?

Do you think lions are evil? Because.... they're predators.

I'll just say it again: especially if you're selling a spiritual and emotional service like teaching or coaching and you're a woman, you need to hear this: you're a predator. You're a lion.

If you're broke, it's probably because of systemic misogyny and also because you still see yourself as a helpless antelope (which, fyi, systemic misogyny conditioned all of us women to do!)

Now you may not be able to slay systemic misogyny in one fell swoop, but you can stop seeing yourself as an antelope.

Or not. I mean, that's totally cool, you can continue seeing yourself as an antelope if you want to.

Yet chances are that you're a delusional antelope, because if there's a part of your soul that's hungry to do business, then you're really a lion.

Your prey is your prospect's ego: the part of them that wants to resist deeply committing to change and admitting that they need help and mentorship and therefore surrendering to valuing your services and wisdom with money.

As a lion, you've got to kill that prey and eat it all up if you want to stay in business.

So, would you like to fess up to being a lion, or would you like to continue to pretend to be an antelope?

You get way more pity as a helpless, struggling, broke spiritual basic-ass antelope - also, you get approval from insecure men who remain non-threatened by you and continuous affirmation from your broke spiritual antelope friends! -- so maybe you'd like to keep doing that? 

4. Magic isn't "spiritual" - it's soulful.

Think of it this way: we've all got a body, a soul, and a spirit.

Our body is our body - flesh and bones and stuff. The part that will still be here on earth when you die. The bits people will have to bury or cremate. You know, those.

Our spirit is our consciousness, our mind. The part of us that comes up with all those great intentions!

Our soul is the part of us that mediates between our body and our spirit. We might also call it our shadow and anima / animus, our creative unconscious, our personal genius.

Mysticism works primarily with the spirit.

Magic works primarily with the soul, to create pragmatic effects in the body and in the world.

That's why magicians use physical objects: herbs and candles and oils and sculptures and paintings and mojo bags and offerings of food - slime and snails and puppy dog tails!

We use these because we're working at the symbolic, imaginal level, the level of the interface between spirit and body, the level of dream and metaphor and poetry and art

Mysticism (and its attendant dogma and self-righteousness) tends to be popular among people who are so rich or otherwise privileged that they hardly know what to do with themselves.

I'm sure you can easily conjure to your mind folks that you've met who've never had to worry a day in their lives about how they're going to pay rent or buy food, folks who have never had to defend themselves from attack of any kind - who will tell you that witchcraft and magic are shameful, unspiritual, low-minded pursuits. 

Spiritually-oriented, rareified mystics either get squeamish around and money and birth and death and fucking and hustling or they go into a kind of kitschy denial that there's anything truly fucked up or scary in the world. Hint: there's plenty that's fucked up and scary in the world. 

Magic and witchcraft, on the other hand, tend to be popular among people who need to hustle for their living, and who've seen the dark side of this earth.

In other words, it's popular among people who don't have the luxury of by-passing their souls in order to protect a sparkling imaginary purity of their spirits. 

5. Jesus Christ was a first-class witch.

I am like a giant Jesus fan and quote him all the time, which flips some people out, especially considering that I'm also always talking about how I'm a witch and magic and ritual, etc. etc.,  

Think about it, folks, Jesus was obviously a witch who loved to party.

"What? There's no more wine? Just pass me that water and stand back folks - bam! Now let's keep this rager raging!"

"That's right, my moms was like fourteen when she gave birth to me in this crazy old barn with goats all around, and then these Persian dudes rolled up on the scene..."

"Awwww man, we're out of food? Wait wait wait everybody, don't leave just yet! Hold on - hand me those loaves and fishes - allllllllllllllllright now! Fish sandwiches for everyone!"

"Cool, so where all the bad bitches and hustlers hanging out? Can you point me there?"

"Yeah, my folks brought me to the Temple a lot growing up, but when I was like 13 I was like, fuck these guys, you know? I'm already more down with the Lord than they are and I'm just a jack-ass kid!"

Anyways, it's obvious to me. Jesus wasn't a mystic. He was a sexy witch and a magician, a shaman, a sorcerer and a healer, and a damn well accomplished one who terrified the Roman empire so much they had to assassinate him.

In other words, they burned him as a witch. Well, crucified him, but you know, same thing pretty much. Both result in torturous death.

6. As without, so within. 

This is a variation on the classic hermetic truth, "as above, so below."

It's a premise that's the basis of all analogy. And without analogy, we can't access the unknown. Analogy is how we connect the known with the unknown.

So if you want to know your within, take a good look at your without.

The world around you corresponds precisely to your soul. So much so that the highest form of enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism is known as "mahamudra," which means "the great symbol." 

It means that this whole world is a symbol of itself, which is to say, a symbol of you. Does that not make sense?

Probably it doesn't make sense, because it's a deep nondualistic truth and I'm expressing it in dualistic terms. But all language is dualistic, it's part of it's fun.

7. The world needs more bad bitches - aka "Fuck you, pay me."

I am so, so over misogyny in every single last one of its guises, especially the one where women and feminine people are conditioned to believe they have to be "spiritual" and "good" and perform endless emotional labor for zero pay.

Fuck. That. Shit.

As long as we're living in a capitalist world, money is how we express valuation. Emotional labor like the kind that women and feminine people do constantly - coaching, nurturing, teaching, nursing, therapy-ing, etc. etc. etc. is highly valuable and deserves to be highly paid.

The main thing that prevents women from being highly paid and highly valued for their endless emotional labor is endemic, world-wide, brutal traumatic abuse of women and children and people who evidence femininity in non-normative ways (including gay, bisexual, queer, and trans people). 

So I'll say it again: Fuck. That. Shit.

In other words - give it to me, I'm worth it. 

And so are you.
 

8. People are hungry to be genuinely seen and felt more than anything else. If you have enough liberated attention, you're capable of giving this - so then you become cherished and influential.

Just think about it. If your attention is wrapped up in your obsessions and your fears, you're not able to be fully present with people, right?

I mean, we all know folks who compulsively play with their phones rather than experience actual intimacy with the flesh-and-blood humans who are face-to-face with them.

So in a world where it's easier than ever to have your attention obsessively sucked away, having the power to focus your attention and focus it deeply and beautifully on the person in front of you is a rare art.

The gift of exquisite attention has always been in high demand, and the demand for it will just continue to rise. So if you want to be a person of influence and wealth, cultivate your ability to be free from obsession, alive in the present moment, and exquisitely attentive to the person right in front of you.

9. There is no reason for you or for any other human to feel ashamed, ever.

Sometimes when I say this people are like "What! Don't you think rapists and child molesters and murderers should be ashamed?"

To which I'm like - "Uhh, hell no. If they weren't ridden with shame to begin with and all the dissociation and alienation that shame brings then they wouldn't be able to treat other humans like objects."

And then sometimes those people look at me and they're like "What about psychopaths and sociopaths and narcissists? They don't feel shame! They should feel shame, though!"

I don't know much what to say to that, other than it's totally obvious to me that actually the only thing psychopaths and sociopaths and narcissists feel is shame.  They feel shame so constantly and so profoundly that it prevents them from feeling compassion.

In other words, after many long hours of meditation on the subject, it became clear to me that shame is the fountain source of violence and trauma, not its preventative balm.

Therefore, whenever I notice shame or judgment springing up in myself, I do my utmost to immediately release it - because I know that it's completely pointless.

The primary value of shame is as an instrument of control. If you can get someone to feel ashamed of themselves, then you can get them to be miserably alienated from their own soul. And if you can get them miserably alienated from their own soul, then you can get them addicted to something.

And if you can get someone to be addicted to something, then it's super-simple to manipulate them by simply regulating their access to the object of their addiction.

Ta-da! Consumerist, oligarchist society for you in a nutshell. 

 

10. Potency comes from embracing parts of yourself that you would much rather delete.

When most people talk about the importance of "shadow work" I notice that they're talking about a rather lame and watered-down version of this.

Like, folks seem to imagine that "shadow work" is something you can complete one rainy Sunday afternoon and then check off your list.

In my experience, the integration of the shadow is the integration of your own creative unconscious, and it is a process that utterly rocks you to the core and dismantles everything you thought you were.

And if you survive that, then you're magically and practically potent and vital. The key is not to kill yourself or anyone else along the way.

The nitty-gritty details of how to accomplish this shadow integration work makes up the bulk of what I teach people to do when I teach practical magic - because when you've got an integrated shadow, then you've got liberated attention, which means.... power and joy.

11. All identity is empty, fluid, constantly subject to evolution. 

Most people are ineffective because more than anything else they want to grasp onto a solid identity for themselves. We all want to feel solid, secure, real.

And the punchline of this planet is that's the one thing you can't ever do! Why? Because it's not possible for anything to have any solid, secure identity, because in order for identity to exist that means there has to be two of something (i.e. "this" is identical to "that" - you have to have both a "this" and a "that" in order to have an identity), therefore identity implies a duality, and reality is non-dual.

In other words, I know that it seems like you're a subject and the rest of the world is the solid object of your subjective experience, but - alas, that's an illusion.

It's an illusion of solidity that's frequently punctured by nighttime dreams, but our current culture is really fantasmic at being in denial of the importance and reality of nighttime dreams.

It's hard to describe the actual situation we live in better than Bill Hicks did in his fanciful expression of what an anchor delivering a News Update that was actually real news (instead of the usual hum-drum recitation of wars and politics) would sound like:

“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the Weather.”

 

12. We all think we want to feel fulfilled, but actually fulfillment is humiliating and excruciating because it kills our ego.

Your thoughts will tell you all day long that you want to be much more rich, loved, healthy, etc. etc. than you already are.

What you don't realize is that your thoughts are straight up lying to you, because actually opening up to receiving that cash and love and health and brilliance is a painful, humiliating process that destroys the ego you've built around the self-image you have of yourself as someone who's long-suffering, put-upon, oppressed, taken advantage of, misunderstood, deprived, etc.

The fulfillment of everything you think you want will entail the destruction of everything you currently think you are.

Almost no one wants the destruction of everything she currently thinks she is because (see above) we're all caught up in an impassioned, hopeless quest to grasp at a feeling of solid identity. 

 

13. "Addiction" is synonymous with demonic possession, and we're all afflicted by it.

Have you ever talked to a friend of yours who had gotten addicted to drugs when he was jonesing for a fix (or your mom when she was desperate for chocolate, or your dad when he was super-upset that his sports team lost, or your boyfriend while he was defending his right to use porn?) and it was 100% clear to you that you weren't really talking to your friend (or mom or dad or boyfriend), you were talking to the addiction itself?

Well, I have.

Sometimes it's not always so obvious, but it is always true: being possessed by a demon means that there's an intelligence that's hijacked your body and mind which isn't actually interested in the well-being of your body and mind.

And that's addiction - it's an imprisoning force, an intelligence, that operates you until it destroys you. It's currently operating our whole world and doing a smashingly grand job of destroying it.

I see my mission in life as freeing myself from addiction in all its guises and helping others to get free. 

An important thing to note is this: the use of drugs and shopping and porn and sugar and sports and gambling and whatever else - those are all just symptoms of addiction.

Addiction is way deeper than any of its symptoms. It's a fundamental orientation towards self, life, the world, others - one that's obsessive, compulsive, fearful and destructive. 

 

14. The end of suffering is the willingness to enjoy overwhelming sensation (i.e., pain) rather than trying to push it away. I call this existential kink, and it's the only thing that's ever worked to move me out of my stuck patterns of trauma that I got from being molested as a kid and raped as a young woman.

Pretty much every woman I have ever known has been molested or raped or otherwise assaulted, by the way.

There's nothing odd about being a woman or feminine who has been molested, abused, raped, beaten, coerced, assaulted -- that's actually super-ordinary in our world. 

I'll just say that again: there is absolutely nothing rare or strange or odd or uniquely shameful about being a woman who has been molested, abused, raped, beaten, coerced, assaulted - sadly, that is the normal condition of being a woman in this world. 

I emphasize the truth of the ordinariness of these profound violations because I honestly didn't realize the total ordinariness of it for a long time, and when I did realize the total pervasive ordinariness of this violence, that knowledge helped to free me.

For many years I thought I was uniquely fucked up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sadly, I am not at all uniquely fucked up. I am very ordinarily fucked up. What's rare and exceptional on this planet is being a woman or feminine person who has not been molested, abused, beaten, coerced, assaulted, raped.

 

15. Money isn't "green energy." It's dirty filthy nasty cash money. 

While I'm all about "fuck you, pay me" (see above) and I love the hustle, I also fully acknowledge that money is a highly problematic construction.

Have you read Debt: The First 5000 Years? Or Sacred Economics? Or Capitalism in the 21st Century by Thomas Picketty? Or On the Genealogy of Morals?

Well, you probably should go do that, but in the meantime I'll just go ahead and bottomline it for you: the kind of currency we use today is based on debt. It's debt-based currency. And debt is fucked up.

You know what's a synonym for "debt"?

Resentment. Resentment is holding onto something that happened in the past and wanting it to be made up for, by whatever means necessary. That's what debt does, too.

Debt is "something held against you" - that "something" is an expectation, a forceful demand of repayment.

"And forgive us our debts, that we may forgive those who owe us debts." This was part of a magic spell that the great witch Jesus said all the time, because getting free from resentment is a very important part of liberating your attention so you can do magic. 

In a way, money is like calcified resentment!

In other words, our money is an abstraction that represents the past, and something owed. It's a violent demand in the form of slips of paper and coin and digital marks.

Money is not benevolent, it is not innocent. In any way. At all. Ever.

Money is fierce, it's brutal, it's unfair, it's obsessed with the past, and it deeply connects us to a system of brutality.

If the only way you can get okay with making money is by tricking yourself into believing that it's "just energy!' as if it were some innocent, totally non-problematic force handed to you by the Easter Bunny, then that attitude is a reflection of your woefully brittle denial and lack of capacity for understanding historical and economic fact.

Money is a tricksy form of limiting magic (created by sorcerers known as governments and banks) that perpetuates shame, scarcity, and alienation.

And there's no legitimate way around that.  There's no way to by-pass it. The only way is the filthy way through. 

Because you know what perpetuates shame, scarcity, and alienation even more than having and making dirty dirty cash money?

I'll tell you: it's being broke while self-righteously justifying your not venturing out of your comfort zone because to do so would be "unspiritual." That hiding perpetuates shame and scarcity and alienation even more.

Why? Think of it this way: when you do this, you refuse to make that dirty, dirty cash money rain like gushing blood from an antelope's bitten neck in springtime because you prefer to be "pure."

In other words, you're addicted to an ideal of yourself as someone who's free from sin. You're a Pharisee.

My favorite witch Jesus didn't have much respect for Pharisees. Why? Because they're way more about looking good than doing the actual nasty work of effecting good results

So the refusal to deal with money because it's nasty and violent - this is a denial of your soul and it's more harmful than money, even with all the debt and violence and brutality that money is factually, historically associated with.

Money is corrosive and dangerous and related to debt and resentment and obsessed with the past, yes.

And guess what? You've got corrosive, dangerous, brutal, past-obsessed elements in your own soul, too. So many of them, in fact! Would you like to be in aversive denial of those elements forever?

Because if you deny and reject the corrosion and brutality and obsession with the past that's in your very own soul by refusing to get up and go soil your hands with the stinky violent dirty world of money and sales, then you're just denying elements in your own soul. 

Mmmmm, good luck with that.


16. Connection and intimacy are the antidotes to addiction.


Part of why I'm so interested in connection and superconnection is that addiction (attachment, aversion, obsession, fear) thrives on alienation and shame.

Meanwhile, addiction dies in the warmth of real connection and intimacy.

We don't grow up learning how to do real connection and intimacy - and indeed, all of our present society is engineered against it.

So we're living within this intense paradox - we have to hustle and compete for cash, and we have to connect deeply and intimately in order to free ourselves from the demon of addiction and have the free attention and energy that actual success and leadership calls for.

It's not easy, but it's what we've got to do at this particular odd moment in history.

This brings me to the final bizarre thing I believe....

17. Your capacity to live in paradox is your capacity for real success, power, influence, joy.

It's very clear to me that this world isn't going to be liberated from the clutches of the demon addiction by goody-goody heroes.

It's going to be saved by people who are a bit wicked, a bit dangerous, rather unpredictable and chaotic. People with sullied pasts and dirty hands. Shifty magic people. The kind of bodhisattvas who might just kill you in order to liberate you.

In the midst of this late capitalist, dogmatically materialist world, a magician doesn't get to truly free herself and others by staying squeaky clean.

The game right now involves taking the poison in order to purge and heal.

Remember, the witch Jesus hung out with whores and shady mafia type guys (i.e. tax collectors) but only all the time.

If you can't sincerely get off on the pain and tragedy and madness of this world, if you can't walk unflinchingly within it and be both cunning as a serpent and innocent as a dove, then you probably won't enjoy your time here and you probably won't help the rest of us that much.

And it's knowing all this and being willing to live it that made me my first $10,000 month in 2015. And made me over $600,000 last year from my pillow.

Good news: if these bizarre philosophies of mine jived with your dirty witchy hustler soul, then you’ll love my blueprint for learning practical magic:

Posted on August 13, 2019 and filed under Addiction, Creativity, Law of Attraction, Money.

Nonresistance: practicing ending my addiction to suffering

One of the primary ways in which I get the foul miasma of self-rejection to descend upon me is by imagining that there are things in this world I need to resist or avoid. I look out onto the horizon of existence and I see possibilities I don't like: sickness, failure, poverty, grief, death, the negative judgment of other people (far worse than death, according to certain parts of my psyche).

And then I think - "must resist! must defend! must refuse!"

This works me up into a contrary state.  A state of internal resistance to life.  In which I take myself Way Too Seriously.  In which I'm prone to reject myself for the very reason that I'm not Invincible Enough.  (Screw good enough, I want to be Invincible Enough!)  Like all of us, I'm vulnerable.

The thing about the contrary state that I use to reject my vulnerable mortality is that it's rigid.  It feels brittle, it feels about-to-be-broken by every sling and arrow of outrageous fortune.  When I'm in it I feel like a pasteboard dart target that gets punctured through her very core every time life throws something.

Today, I'm interested in easing out of contrariness.  I'm doing this by deciding to give no internal resistance to the possibilities of life that I don't like.  Why? Because that internal resistance is suffering - and I've accepted out (at least intellectually) that suffering is not a requirement.

Suffering, like coffee, isn't a necessity of life.  It's just something I'm addicted to because I imagine it benefits me.  It seems to benefit me in that it

  • Keeps me doing the thing that almost everyone else seems to agree is the thing to do - i.e., suffer - and therefore, gives me a weird sense of closeness with the rest of humanity.  Just like smoking with a bunch of smokers after a meeting seems to give me a sense of closeness with the smokers.
  • Promises that it will protect me somehow from the things I fear. Like, if only I resist this hard enough and make a fuss about it, then it won't happen.
  • Gives me a sense of importance.  Like, wow, see how much I suffer? I must be really important, with lots of important things to suffer about!

At times, these benefits seem highly worthwhile.  But then they come with side-effects.  Side-effects like seeing the world as a rotten place and being miserable and being unable to do anything creative or fun because I'm paralyzed in rigidity.

Today, I'm interested in being Lady Bountiful instead of a pasteboard dart target.  Lady Bountiful is my wiser, fuller version of myself. I saw her once on an Edwardian Christmas card.  She has rosy cheeks and carries huge armfuls of cheery presents into an orphanage.  She creates bounty and joy in the dark places instead of cowering away from those dark places.  She rocks.

So what are you resisting today? And what would it feel like to drop that resistance and just be in your life with all its coal soot and undarned stockings?

 

 

Posted on September 12, 2012 and filed under Addiction.

Surrender Your Addiction to Suffering - Part 4

The third commitment (among the nine) that we make in order to surrender our addiction to suffering is:

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.

 

Most of us human beings live in a perpetual state of judgement.  We're constantly evaluating whatever's around us and deciding upon its relative worth.  The tragedy of this is that most often we're judging from a perspective of delusion wherein we imagine that we're separate from the life unfolding around us.

 

Since our judgments arise from and support this dualistic perspective of separation, we can end up in a never-ending loop of discontent and unhappiness.

 

The Vicious Cycle

Here's how it works: We look at a person or situation in our life, we judge it "not good enough," we treat that person or situation with much less than total love and acceptance (usually with criticism, disrespect, unkindness, impatience, indifference), then that person or situation responds (understandably) with a negative reaction to our ill-will, and that negative reaction validates our initial judgment of "not good enough" or "unsatisfying."

 

In other words, we reject the circumstances around us, they reject us right back, which gives us more reason to reject them.  When the next tough situation comes up, you're already depleted and weary from your battle with the last one.  Your respond with even less patience and more rejection.... and the cycle continues. When we're operating in this vicious cycle, it's easy to forget that we're doing it to ourselves.  After all, people are rude to us, situations do go badly.  It looks as if we have an objective rationale for deciding that stuff sucks.  The mirroring responsiveness of the world outside us to our negativity can do a good job of masking that it's our negativity which fuels the problem.

 

This isn't to say that there aren't situations in the world which are massively challenging or that just by altering our disposition we can make everything totally peachy-- but it is to say that by altering our disposition we can make things a hell of a lot peachier than they would be if we just persisted in our criticism and rejection.

 

What circumstance in your life right now isn't matching up with your story about how it "should" be?  How do you treat that circumstance when you're believing that it's lacking?  Do you complain about it? Resent it?

 

Honesty is the cure

You can practice this commitment by being willing to look with fearless honesty at the results of your own judgment.  How do you treat yourself when you believe something in your life is lacking?  How do you treat those around you? Are you less-than-fully-present, brusque, self-pitying?  How do you deal with the projects and responsibilities in your life? What do you do to make yourself feel better? Do you reach for a cookie, a cigarette, a glass of wine, a compliment? None of those things are inherently evil, but they can all wreck havoc in our lives if we use them to cover-up the stress caused by believing our thoughts.  Don't shy away from minutely recording your own response to your belief in your mind's story.

 

The Virtuous Cycle

Whatever it is about your life that's bugging you, ask yourself this: what would it look like if I totally embraced, accepted, and loved this situation?  What if peace and joy were more important to me than having it "my way"? Take time to strongly visualize and feel this scenario.  Allow yourself to get a vision of the virtuous cycle.

 

In the virtuous cycle, a situation or person appears who challenges you-- and rather than responding with negative judgment and shutting down into aloofness or unkindness, you open up into love and acceptance.  The situation or person then senses your love and responds -- often in very surprising ways! -- to the spaciousness and gentleness that you've offered.  You receive positive feedback from the life around you, and this leads you to feel even better.  Then, when the next tough thing comes up, you have extra reserves of love energy and willingness with which to meet it.

 

Love!

Carolyn

 

Image by Kudumomo, used under Creative Commons licensing, borrowed from Flickr.

Surrender Your Addiction to Suffering - Part 3

 

This is the third post in a series on Surrendering Your Addiction to Suffering.  You can read the first post here (wherein I give an overview of the nine commitments necessary to the process) about the and the second post (about the first commitment) here. Today we're talking about the second commitment in surrendering your addiction to suffering:

 

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”

 

The Buddha (one of my favorite dudes, along with Jesus, Byron Katie and Lao Tse) said that ignorance is the primary affliction of the human mind.  The two other afflictions he noted, desire and hate, are secondary manifestations of that ignorance.  The ignorance that makes us suffer isn't a lack of knowledge in the conventional sense -- instead, it's a fundamental misperception about the nature of who we are and how reality works.

 

Our misperception leads us to think that we're discrete, solitary individuals separate from the whole of existence.  We identify with the contents of our mind and emotion and mistake the aggregate of those contents to be "me." Once we've made that basic mistake, we have the sense, at a fundamental level, that it's "me against the world." Even if we're generally happy-go-lucky people, the moment something goes not-according-to-plan in a big way (we lose a job we depended on for our security; a relationship goes sour; a loved one dies; we get ill; we get old... on and on) we feel attacked.

 

This feeling of being attacked by things not matching up with our internal picture of how life should treat us is a symptom of our misperception that we're basically separate from the rest of life. We resent the people and situations that appear to be battling us (i.e., we experience hate) and we long for whatever circumstances we think would make it all better (i.e., we desire).

 

In the absence of the fundamental mistake of thinking we're a separate "me" we would be unable to see anything as going against us (because there would be no "us" for "it" to go "against") and we'd be unable to wish for anything other than what's already present in our lives (because we wouldn't be able to perceive ourselves as lacking anything -- you can't lack something if you are everything).

 

Ignorance, desire and hate are the dangerous trio that make up the spiritual disease of addiction to suffering, which we ordinary humans are all afflicted with to some extent or another.

 

Sometimes I think that Jesus said we must become as little children in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven because very little children don't yet have a sense of themselves as discrete individuals; they don't hate; and while they sure make a fuss about getting fed and having their diapers changed, they don't desire in the sense that they don't mentally attach themselves to specific stories about what life should look like.

 

Enlightenment (or "entering the Kingdom of Heaven" in the Christian tradition-- a Kingdom which, by the way, Jesus adamantly stated could be found here on earth) is the state of consciousness in which one is totally free from the disease of addiction.  It's the condition of being free from ignorance, hate and desire.  Far from being a boring condition (some folks imagine desire-less-ness as a kind of numbness) it's actually a profoundly vivid state of joy, abounding love, and deep fulfillment.

 

I've long been putting in my petition to get hit with the enlightenment bolt, but until that happens in order to stay remotely sane I have to focus on letting go of my ignorance, hate and desire to the best of my ability. The second commitment in this process reminds me that my mind's stream of negative judgments just aren't the truth.  They're the product of my fundamental confusion about who I am and what life is doing. This commitment represents my willingness to be humble and to be aware.

 

When I keep this commitment at the forefront of my awareness I find that a bit of air and spaciousness comes into the dark, foetid chambers of my mind and makes room for truth and love to come in.

 

If you'd like some help on getting to spaciousness around your suffering, you might want to check out my low-cost life coaching.

 

Love!

Carolyn

 

Image by Dalbera. Borrowed from Flickr under Creative Commons licensing.

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