Another Secret to Happiness

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Life is short.

It is important to waste some time.

Which means, live outside the clock and the rush of time.

Do less.

Go to nature.

Feel the life in you.

Feel the life outside you.

Speak gratitudes to nature.

Speak gratitudes to the being alive you.

Do less.

With lots more attention to the ongoing Now.

This will bring happiness.

Enjoy your day

One Secret to Happiness

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“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Wisdom from Alfred E. Neumann of MAD magazine. Seems to be a joke. As if he wants people to be dumbbells to be happy.

And there might be a hint in there,

“Don’t worry,. Be happy.”

On the posters of Meir Baba, Indian saint, and enlightened fellow.

Maybe there is some wisdom after all,

And how not to worry.,

Don’t think.

Don’t think in the words in the head yammer, judge, compare, complain, plan, regret sort of way we spend huge chunks of our life.

Don’t think in the empty minded way that we can make love or watch a sunset, or, if we are lucky: walk in nature.

Or even luckier: walk through our house.

To think is to fall for a trap, confusing the map with the terrritory,

Call it sky all you want, or just look at and love it without a word.

Try out the difference.

Call that “sky” “blue” and what more do you really have than just soaking in that particular wave length of beauty and wonder you are taking in right now,

Try this ,

Go outside or go to a window.

Look at some nature you enjoy,

Breathe deeply and know you are breathing.

Breathe with awareness and sense your fingers and toes and spine and smile and stop thinking for 3 seconds,

Just you and nature , Nature outside and the Nature of you being alive right now,

What happens?

Peace?

Contentment?

Happiness?

Here’s a possibility: in the present, free from ‘thinking,” we are happy, because WE AREN’T USING ‘THINKING”

TO MAKE OURSELVES UNHAPPY.

Take away the unhappiness and stress we create with thinking.

What’s left?

Happiness,

Experiment.

Happiness could be three seconds away.

Cheers,

Chris

Deeper Connection with Anyone - - - the 5 minute/ 5 minute game

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Love in the Moment

Listening in the Moment

The 5 minute 5 minute Game

Changing your Life in 20 minutes


People don’t listen.

They sort of listen to the beginning of what someone is saying.

And then stop listening except for the smallest smallest amount, putting their attention instead on formulating their oh-so important response.

Then look for a slight slow down in the talkers speaking.

Then they interrupt to insert their oh-so important response.


The first speaker, robbed of a chance to finish, or maybe even get started, immediately begins to non-listen and formulate their counter interruption.


This sucks.

The game of this chapter is one cure for that.


It is practice in real listening, the giving of attention, in the present moment.

Is not love very much the same as giving attention in the present moment without demand or judgment?

This is where being present and love merge: real, unhurried listening.

This is good for your relationship.

Any relationship. (I’ve done this with strangers, with kids, with groups having a pleasant but boring Thanksgiving dinner, with a shy girlfriend who all her life had never really not been interrupted and who burst out crying when she was finally listened to)


This is a way to build and to deepen love.

It can be romantic love.

It can be deep friendship.

It can be human connection so radically missing in the era of texts and media bombardment.

People are lonely.

People are not in the Now.

Lives are often fairly meaningless.


This is a way out.


This is part of the reason that Carol and I were able to go from “sort of” friends, to “We’ve found our life partner in twelve hours.”

We did this back and forth for at least three hours.

How about you give it a try for twenty minutes?


This doesn’t have to be with a romantic partner, or in pursuit of a romantic partner. (Though if you want a Soul Mate, deep listening is going to be part of the soil in which your soul work develops)


Find another human, or group of humans.

And play.


Listen/ Love Building/ Presence Building / 5 minute 5 minute Game

Sit facing each other. Eye contact.

(Or have a small group, no more than 6, in a circle. )

Set a timer for 5 minutes (3 minutes if going around a circle)


Talker: One talks

From the present

About what they notice in the present, about what’s important in their lives, about what comes up when given the stage and no hurry.

If in the circle, the speaker never comments on what anyone else said, or on any of the people in the circle.

If two people, for the first couple of weeks, refrain from any comments on the other person, or what the other person said.


If the speaker “runs out of steam”

  1. Just be silent for the rest of their turn. And people or the other person give them full attention as if they were talking

  2. Talk of gratitudes

  3. Talk of present awareness

  4. Be vulnerable/ honest: I want to say something brilliant and can’t think of it


Important: if the speaker “runs out of steam,” no helping, encouraging “You can do it,” and no falling for, “You go ahead now, I’m done.” They aren’t done until the timer chimes.


One, or several listen

Present

Following breathing

Anything else they like as a presence opener (Sensing feet and hands, sensing heart, smiling, feeling gravity, noticing colors)

Hear each word

Whisk away the usual thoughts of your oh-so important response (since you won’t say it, anyway)

Do not interrupt.

NO INTERRUPTING.


This might be “hard.”

Good. That’s when it’s deeply necessary.


Go back and forth at least twice.

This can be addicting in a very positive way, so go back and forth as much as you have time for.


I did this with a church group when visiting an old high school friend (old friend who was sixty like me at the time).

We went several rounds with their leadership team.

Several said they knew more about each other at the end of this then they had learned in 4 years of being together.


I did this with a volunteer and her niece at a garden I was creating in Sonoma, California, known now as the Sonoma Garden Park. At the end the niece said that if she and her mom could do this, it would completely change her life. 


As I mentioned, the shy girlfriend, who as youngest in the family and ex long term partner and co-parent with an extravagant artist who sucked all the air out of the room, when she was finally listened to, burst out crying.


At one yoga retreat, we were sitting on the grass just starting this is a small group, and the cook came to join us. Said it changed her life.


Most people are starving for real connection.

Most people are starving for a chance to express and explore without interruption.

And even this, most people are starving for a chance to deeply listen.


Why?

Listening is Love.

Love is who we are.


Love is good.

You are good.


Listen well today, in talking or not.


And . . .


Enjoy your day.

Soul Mate: Finding Yours, Deepening Existing, Connecting to God/Life

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The Miracle Re-Viewed

Finding not just our Lifetime Partner

Finding a Soul Mate


On that magical day of June 20, 2015, Carol and I blossomed in our twelve hour “non-date” from sort of friends, to realizing with bliss and unbelief that we’d found the lifetime partner who the day before had seemed “almost impossible” to find.

“Almost” is the key word, because it allows, if we let it, that the miracle can slip through, no matter how small the odds.

We slipped through.

We found the mate.


What we didn’t realize, and one reason this book has needed so long to write, was that we had as well, even more wonderful, and absolutely necessary to a full human life, found a Soul Mate for the rest of our lives.


Now, let’s dispense with the ordinary meaning of Soul Mate quickly.

Usually it is a shortcut for saying we have found Someone who is Really Really Great. The famous Mr./ Mrs./ Ms. Right.

We get along. We have fun.

We have traded looks for money for fun for sexiness and have gotten ourselves, in reality a Resumé Mate.

Not a soul mate.

And sometimes the Resumé Mate ripens into a Soul Mate.

Usually not.

Two pretty/ smart/ hip (asleep) people buy the house, have the pretty children, go through the sleeping life and miss the amazing opportunity: create a soul mate connection with your mate mate. They drift through life with the children and their business to disguise the essential emptiness of their lives.

So be it.


This book is for those who want more than that.

This book is for Five Groups of People, 

  • People wanting to Find their Soul Mate

  • People wanting to Deepen or Discover or Rediscover the Soul Mate in their Marriage or Relationship

  • People wanting to Deepen the Soul Mate in Friendships

  • People wishing to leave behind Depression and Despair and return to connection with the Soul’s natural state of Peace, Love, Ease, Presence, Joy and Happiness

  • People wishing to Deepen their Soul’s connection with God/Life.


And let me share some of the components of how Carol and I were laying the foundation for Soul Mates, though we didn’t know it until later, and are now, almost daily, delighting in discovering what we have and didn’t back then know we would have.


One

We practiced deep listening

In the Now


One way that the hour and a half “meeting” morphed into a twelve hour feast and discovery triumph was that for several hours we listened to each other deeply.

We played a “game” from the book that I’d gone over to have Carol’s help with, as I’ve said before the precursor to this one.


What was the game?

One person talks for five minutes.

With a timer.

The other person is present

The other person “just” listens

No interrupting


Then you go the other way.


Back and forth.


This “game” subverts the usual non-listening that happens in most conversations, where each person is “thinking” of what they want/need to say, and waiting for the soonest chance to interrupt.


Real listening is soul work.

Listening in the present is soul work.


Listening to the birds outside: with yammer in your head, you won’t hear them.

Listening to your friend or lover: with yammer in your head, your oh-so-important interruption, you won’t hear them.

Listening to your Soul: with yammer in your head, you won’t hear it.


Two

Wisdom quotes, setting the stage for a Lifetime’s work

“Be Still and Know I am God.”


From really listening to Carol I knew how she was searching for the depths of real Christianity. From a lifetime of dipping into the New Testament on the hunt for the spiritual heart of what is usually a formulaic bunch of narrow minded people, I knew there were diamonds of wisdom in there.

After several hours I asked this:

What are your favorite Bible quotes.


One of hers was Be still and know I am God.

If she’s wanted deliberately to seduce my mind and soul, she couldn’t have picked anything better.

Why?

For years and years, since 1966, I’d been in love with the Now.

And had discovered over the years that talking about the Now is not the same as living in the present.

The Now is our experience of the ongoing present moment without words about this ongoing experience.

The words are not in the now.


In other words, to be truly present meant :Be still and know I am God. 

Where God is Life in the glory of the miracle of the moment.


Three:

Wisdom verses, mine

Love Your enemy


Talk about Life long work. Loving your enemy sounds impossible.

It’s not.

But it’s real work.

It starts with both parents.

Without fail, those who haven’t learned to love their parents, no matter how imperfect and/or awful, can’t really have a Soul Mate.

They don’t have their own Soul yet.


Also, those who have not forgiven their “ex-“ can’t find their soul mate.


And “Loving Your enemy” is one of the reasons this book has taken so long for me to be prepared to let it loose into the world.

One reason was that I was not close enough to some clarity on Enlightenment to release a book titled Love, Lust and (Healthy) Enlightenment.

The other was that, very very normal, although I’d found my partner and soul mate, I still didn’t have yet the true clarity to love, like and adore her when she was in grumpy or mean or neglecting or otherwise imperfect states.


And Jesus, not enough of a fun guy/ joke maker for being a Rabi, a tribe of people usually full of jokes, has His closest thing to a joke (to my mind) in his remarks on LOVE YOUR ENEMY.

ANYONE CAN LOVE SOMEONE WHO’S TREATING YOU GREAT.

AND WHEN THEY GIVE YOU A HARD TIME, THAT’S WHEN YOU DISCOVER WHAT LOVE REALLY IS.


To that effect.


This is lifetime work.

This is why we have an imperfect mate.

They get to push our buttons, until every pushed button can turn on to love.


Four

Listen to outside wisdom

The Brene Brown TED talk on Vulnerability


We listened to this twice in our twelve hours.

She had real wisdom to pass on.

Go ahead and be weak and admit it.

Go ahead and be afraid and admit it.

Go ahead and want something and admit it.


We turned to each other : 

What can we say in vulnerability.


I want you.

I can’t believe it but I think I’ve discovered the lifetime partner I thought was “almost impossible.”

We agreed.

The Miracle was happening. Almost or no almost, it was/ we were happening.

Enlightenment as Loving the Simple and Loving it Now

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Love

Loving

Loving Wha Is

Enlightenment is Now


There is no hurry to “be” enlightened because enlightened is just a word. Who wants to “be” a word?

And what is enlightenment is awaking to an ongoing love of Reality an ongoing love of What Is.

Blah, blah, blah.


Let’s make it simple


Enlightenment Game #2:

Start a series of sentences with “NOW I AM AWARE . . .”

and then after the . . . add the phrase, ‘AND I LOVE . . .”


If you are aware of a sore back, this might be a bit of a stretch.

So cheat a little. (“Cheat” in the right understanding can be using your noggin to be smart and creative about something instead of the way other people’s rules, or your rules say it “should” be done.)


Enlightenment Game #3:

Look around you in the present moment.

Listen around you in the present moment.

Sense and notice touch, in inner proprioception in the moment.

Search for things you like or love.

Then do the earlier game:

“I AM AWARE OF . . . AND I LIKE/ LOVE . . .”


Go slowly.

Keep finding in the present moment something you like/ love and combine awareness with liking and loving.

“Now I am aware . . .”

“And I like/ love . . .”


What does this do for you?

Can you feel a kind of lift off?


Remember: keep cheering. Scan for the simple joys and pleasures of life.

“Now I am aware of my toes. And I love my toes.”

“Now I am aware of my fingers. And I love my fingers.”

“Now I am aware of smiling. And I love smiling.”

“Now I am aware of the blue sky. And I love the blue sky.”

“Now I am aware of breathing and being alive. And I love breathing and being alive.


Enjoy your day.

One enlightened moment of loving what is after another.

Ending Suffering by Asking four Questions about a father resentment PLUS we can't love ourselves until we love our imperfect parents

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Undoing Suffering

Dad was what he was

What I can’t do about it

What I can do about it

Freedom


My Dad was a great guy, and a bit mean, especially if he drank. He was hard on himself and hard on me.

His preferred mode of communication was criticism, though he did have his moments of friendliness and curiosity.

In other words, he was imperfect.


And somewhere along the line, I decided to torment myself with this story, this belief, this opinion:

“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.”


All I needed to do was recall one of his red-faced tongue lashings and I could be unhappy.

Just what everyone wants, right?

To be unhappy.


Joking aside: we spend so much of our lives making ourselves unhappy, that it’s as if that is one of our major preoccupations.

Alas.


Except we don’t need to go into too long or too severe a weary Alas.

Because,

Alas on the upside, we can play this game, the work of Byron Katie game.


As before:

Judge your parent.

Write it down: “My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.

Ask for questions.

Turn it around.


Here goes.

One.

“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.

Is it true?

Depends what true means.

If true is what I think, then this is true.

If true is what a bunch of people might agree about how fathers should treat their sons, this is true.

And . . .

If “true” means something that holds up no matter what I or others believe, gravity say, then this sentence - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - - is not true.

Much as I imagine I would have been better off (another story that again falls into opinion rather than truth), the truth is this:

He was critical.

A lot.

And is it true that I “deserved” one of the 10%, 20%, 30% truly nice Dads that happen for some people?

Nope.


Two:

Is it absolutely true - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -?

Absolutely is a neat way of jacking it up to: in the order of the whole Universe, is it true that I should have been in the blessed 10, 20, 30% with the nice Dads.

Somehow God got it wrong when my father and I were assigned to each other.

And still we are back at what I wanted, and what other people might agree about, vs the reality.

Reality: Dad was what he was.

It is NOT absolutely true that he should have been different.


And before three, let’s speculate a little about all the “creeps,” and “jerks,” and “assholes” in our lives.

Can any of them really do better than they are doing?

Probably they are like you and I, pretty decent some days, pretty rotten at some moments of stress. (And some people, themselves unhappy and full of inner stories keeping them unhappy, are almost always in stress. Dad was like that. Hence the one, two, many drinks each night.)

And so, under stress, since they are mindless and unable to chose, they act out programming that is no so great.

And that hurts/ wounds/ bothers us.

Okay, that happens, and then: do we keep up the wounding by repeating sentences like this - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -. 

Or do we grind this and any stressful thought through the four questions.

(There are other ways out, gratitude for example. And pure, wordless presence for another. 

And . . . know what to do with the - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -thoughts is crucial to coming back to our natural state of happiness and peace.

The peace that passes all understanding, actually.

Except you can understand it.

If you are making yourself un-peaceful.

And stop that.

You become peaceful.


Back to the 4 questions . Only two more.


Three.

How is my life and my inner world when I believe the thought - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -?

And this question is a good occasion to drag out pen and paper.

Write down the laundry list of how I’ve reacted and felt over and over throughout the years when I’ve fed myself a dose of - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -.

Sad.

Hurt.

Cheated.

Betrayed.

Angry.

Withdrawing.

Attacking.

Feeling I’m damaged.

And so on. The list goes on and on. 


This is worth noting.

In fact, this is one of the most important realizations in life: I can create inner misery by believing a short sentence. In this case eight words - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -


And now, a different point of view.

A different perspective.


I encourage people to sit or stand in a new spot to ask question 

FOUR

Who or what would I be without the thought - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -

who or what would I be?


And this isn’t thinking of my Dad at his best.

This is imagining him at his ugliest, really laying into me with the criticism and the meanness.

And . . .

My game is to feel, imagine, experience who and what I am if I don’t have any belief or thought that - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -

What happens happens in layers, because with a deep wound like this you do it over and over.

I did it over and over.

The important part is this

GO BACK AND FORTH FROM THE CHAIR OR THE PLACE ON THE FLOOR THAT IS THE “BELIEVE THE STORY” YOU

TO THE CHAIR OR PLACE ON THE FLOOR THAT IS THE “DON’T BELIEVE THE STORY” YOU


With my Dad the first breakthrough came when I could breathe easier, and watch my memory of him being critical, and I had no push back. No idea that he “should” be different.

No demand that he stop this behavior.

I was free.

I was free of wanting him to be different.

I was free of wanting to rewrite history.

I was free of wanting him to be different than he was.


I could begin to let the obvious Reality become clear: he was he; I was me.

His behavior toward me was never and never would be influenced by my not liking it.

When I let go, what happened?

I began to breathe in a new freedom that eventually ended in me having a great deal of compassion and love for him.


And don’t forget:

You don’t, I didn’t, have to “let go of the story.”

You just keep trying out the two:

Here I am believing the story.

Here is where I am when I don’t believe the story.


Back and forth.

Who is the real me?


You try it.

Find out.


Loving Ourselves

Easy to say

Not that hard to do, actually


Here’s a fun way to look at life:

Loving ourselves is over and over proposed as the cure for relationship issues, and happiness issues, and even health issues.

And then, usually, it gets lost in a morass of how can I stop having critical inner voices.

Or even worse, the game shifts to endless “affirmations,” even to the blunt clarion call: “I love myself.”

Humbug, loving yourself is not spouting I love myself, I love myself over and over again.

(Looking in the mirror and feeling love can do some good, but that isn’t what we are after today).


Here’s the way out:

Love both your parents.


Why?

Because each one is part of you, a big part of forming who you are. (If they were missing mainly, that missing is a big part of who you are).

Loving them, in spite of their imperfections means you are well on the way to loving yourself, in spite of all your imperfections.


And that’s the path, right?

Not to make yourself perfect, so there is nothing to nag against.

You will get better and better as you love yourself, and the crucial step is to notice your own imperfections and not go crazy on yourself.

You might see some fairly rotten behavior that needs to be cleaned up.

Fine, devise strategies to clean it up.

But hating yourself for messing up is to hate yourself for being human.


Can’t work if your goal is to enjoy others and be kind to yourself.


You are flawed and so be it.

The self-love has to be a commitment to coming back to awareness and the now and acting in ways that you, the real you, want to act.


And what does this have to do with your parents.

Loving our parents doesn’t mean the sticky sweet, “Oh I love my parents,” that denies any of their funky elements.

If you were lucky enough to have really really great parents, then they loved you a lot and you can easily love yourself a lot.

So this section isn’t for you.


This is for those of us who wouldn’t mind loving ourselves more.

And the route: to love our parents more.


And the protests . . . But, but, but . . . they started it, they wounded me, they didn’t love me.

Why should I love them?


Well, the first step, is the Byron Katie step: Don’t love them yet, or even call it forgiveness.

But play often and play hard at noticing the inner weather, your peace/ stress rating when you feel and believe the “should” or “shouldn’t” about them, and when you don’t believe it.


They wounded you, back then, sure.

And now, if you go over and over in your mind thoughts like the last chapter, “My father shouldn’t have been so critical,” who is doing the wounding. My dead father, or my inner beliefs?


And then we can keep working/ playing.

Taking every hurt/ should/ wound/ shouldn’t about both parents and playing the comparison = learning game over and over:

Who am I with the story?

Who would I be without the story?


There are a couple of other ways to improve our love for our parents, even though they, like us, are imperfect.


One, is doing the turn around, which will be tomorrow’s chapter. They were mean. When are we mean? They were insensitive. When are we insensitive.


Two, go outside, look at something beautiful. Sense your breathing and your arms and legs and spine. Notice the miracles of seeing and hearing. Feel the miracle of being alive.

Realize: without them, no life, no you.


Three, get a bit busy writing down 5-9 gratitudes. For each.

If they are alive, mail them to them.

If they aren’t, tell someone else your gratitudes for each parent.

Once a week: write parents gratitudes. Mail them or speak them.


And if they don’t answer the mail and jump up and down with reconciliation energy: so be it.

Your hurt is your work, not theirs.


And until we get the work of feeling bad out of blaming others for that we can’t love imperfect parents, can’t love ourselves.

Life is still good, but it’s a lot harder when we are hard on ourselves.


Cheers

Enlightenment as Love of Now/ / Now as a sweet path to Happiness

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Enlightenment: The Love of Now

Happiness as By-Product

Happiness as Who We Really Are

Peace, too


Who are we really, at the most fundamental?


Waking up Game #1:

Hold your breath.

A little while, a long while

Feel the urge to breathe

Go ahead and breathe


Can you feel, somewhere far below the level of words: I am alive and I breathe. I breathe and I am alive.


I AM ALIVE.


That’s a pretty good start to any day, any walk, any hour, any life.

We are alive.

Miracle.


And love is what we all want.

Love, as well as peace and happiness, may very well be part of who we really are.

And . . . we’ve already experienced gratitude as a return to being able to love life.

And . . . we’ve already experienced gratitude plus touch/connection as a way for our love to deepen.


Gratitude and connection both help us return from being lost in believing various words in our heads that generate our unhappiness and un-ease.

We’ll see this more and more as the book progresses: all our first world unhappiness and lack of ease is self-generated. (Being bombed and shot and raped in the third world, starving: all these are part of the messy mess of humanity that me may well want to help correct. They are third world suffering, even if happening in the wealthy countries, and they aren’t self-generated.)


Back from the bombing and stabbing to our lives: our unhappiness is almost always an inside job.

We are telling ourselves various thoughts, beliefs, stories and believing them and we suffer.

This will become radically clear when we start to do the work of Byron Katie, which is a genius mode of contrasting: Who we are when we believe our thinking and Who we are when we don’t.


And gratitude and connection help us not believe our stress producing thinking.

And so does being present.

Being Now.

The Now, if you follow it down and really taste it to its core, is a land free of words.

No words, no thinking.

No thinking, no suffering.

No thinking doesn’t mean mindless: it means being mindful without words to describe or comment on or judge our present real time experience.


Consider the sky.

Look at the sky.


Awakening Game #2:

So to a window, or go outside.

Look at what we call the sky.

Have your experience without using the words, sky, or blue, or vast, or beautiful.

Just experience your experience of the sky.


Maybe follow and sense, also without words, your breathing as you experience, almost as if sensing it, too, the sky.


This is awakened Life.

Life in the Now as experiencing your experience in the moment.


Which of course shifts to the next moment.

And that doesn’t matter, because you aren’t pinning down experience with a clock or with words.

You are just experiencing your experience of sky.

Or your breathing.

Or your feet.

Or the trees.


Just enjoy the fullness of reality without needing or falling into the usual words about that reality.


Why?

Why be present?


Here’s a start:

  1. You are alive and in the present you are experiencing your life instead of letting it pass you by, the way it does almost all people, almost all of the time

  2. Life in the word-free experiencing is far more vivid and “real.”

  3. You are as if a child again, free to delight in learning and discovery and play.

  4. Without words, there are no words to string together the thoughts/ beliefs/ opinions that generate unhappiness.

  5. If you are willing to explore my premise that who we really are in peace and happiness, then when we stop generating (with words) any un-peace, we are naturally back in the land of peace and happiness.


How to expand this life of Now.

Read on . . . 

Fourth of July: Freedom and Freedom and freedom and freedom

SunRISE in Boulder, where we aren’t anymore. Back in Austin, where the sunsets are the big deal

SunRISE in Boulder, where we aren’t anymore. Back in Austin, where the sunsets are the big deal

July 4, 2019

Freedom and Freedom

Waking up to our real freedom



Fourth of July is either a big deal or not, AND it could be a reminder that freedom, real freedom, is our birthright.

First level freedom - - you know, freedom from illegal search, freedom of speech and press, freedom to drive down the street and not be stopped because of your skin color, freedom to live where you want, freedom from being thrown in the clinker without being told why - - these and more and a wonderful baseline to good life.

And not everyone has them.

And for most white Americans, they exist, of course with greater and greater reliability to more money you have.

And,

leaving aside my not so subtle political ranting, let’s look at a deeper level of freedom, the freedom of our own soul, the freedom to be at peace inside, the freedom of your own inner weather.

This is our birthright. This freedom is a buddy of our birthrights: happiness, awareness, love, learning.

And the easiest way to talk about and explore this inner weather, inner freedom is to lay out what causes the central slavery of most of humanity:

  1. fear of dis-approval from others

  2. fear of dis-approval from our own inner judgment machine ( and machine is exactly the right word: this inner attack robot is totally automatic)

  3. believing any of our hard-luck, poor-me, victim, should/shouldn’t, life-is-unfair thinking.


Disconnect from these three and we are in the land of freedom and happiness and learning and love.

So let’s check them out, briefly, one at a time.

And you, gentle and becoming more wise everyday, reader, keep checking them out every time you are unhappy. Chances are one of these slaveries is grasping you by the soul, heart and balls.


Fear of outer disapproval. 

Just notice how often this colors, or guides or constrains what we are willing to do, or not to do.

And notice this reality: they can dis-approve until they are blue in the face and we don’t have to believe it.

Or, if it’s true to some extent, we don’t have to think we are unfit as a human. We are just human. We can change.


There is judging: we could have gotten up earlier and gotten a run/ walk/ meditation in.

And that might be true.

And there could be an intonation to the judgment: you are yuk because you didn’t get up earlier.

Nah, we can consider that benefits and disadvantages of getting up earlier to run/ walk/ meditate.

We can chose freedom from yuk and not agree with, or buy into the intonation.


Watch this in all arguing.

It’s vastly more crippling than we realize, not the least of which is fear of improvement because when we hear the yuk intonation we knee jerk reject the possibly useful feedback.



Fear of inner disapproval. That sticky voice of : you are wrong, bad, little, terrible, etc.

Listen for something like that any time unhappiness sneaks in to know you our of a full and delightful life.


And this inner disapproval is actually a subset of believing our own thinking.

Big chunks of this book we be about shift we can make when we get lost in should and shouldn’t about the world, and ourselves and other people.

We will dive deeply into the work of Byron Katie, which to my experience is the quickest way out of first world suffering. (The suffering of people being mean, inconsiderate, or the job not working out, or sickness / death coming at the “wrong” time, vs third world suffering of being bombed, shot, rapped, stabbed.)

This way offers one main thing: freedom.

It offers this by learning, learning the difference between when we believe our poor-me thinking and when we either don’t believe it, or just hop out of thinking into real time, now time present reality.

Let’s talk about this tomorrow.

For today, though, let’s stick with the real freedom of what it would be like to not believe our thinking about how the world “should” or “shouldn’t” be as it is.

This is enlightenment by the way: giving up our struggle to demand that reality be different than it is.

An elephant comes down the road.

We want it to be a giraffe.

Impossible.

The more we think life is cruel and unfair because it isn’t a giraffe, the more we suffer.

This is slavery.

The more we love it being an elephant the happier we can be.

A simple example to be sure.


Harder:

A friend dies at 52.

The friend should have lived longer.

No matter how much we want that to have been different, the friend is still dead.

Which way is freedom?

Which way is slavery?


Slavery: wanting to control what we can’t.

Freedom: being present to the reality of our life in the moment.

This is big work.

This is enlightenment not “just” to achieve some fancy high grade word. This is enlightenment to return to our birthright: freedom, happiness, presence, delight and love. (And more, and more: great sex - - LUST - - being one. Being able NOT to be trapped in arguments - - LOVE - - is another.)

Consider your life and inner weather in any and all moments: are you free and happy?

If so, good.

If not, who is causing this slavery?


Could be you.

More tomorrow.

Touch as Waking up to the world without words

Mountains near Sequoia National Park

Mountains near Sequoia National Park

Week One - - - Day Three

LUST, part one:

We are mammals. We are meant to. . .

TOUCH

Enlightenment:

We are often happier when we don’t talk

Touch to the rescue


Today is a day to be grateful. 

They all are.

Today is a day to be present.

They all are.

(Now is the moment to be present.

They all are.)

Today is a day to connect to nature.

They all are.

And…

Today is a day to touch.

They all are.


We are mammals.

We are warm blooded.

We are meant to touch.


And . . .

 not all of us live with someone. And some of us live with someone with whom we’ve forgotten how to touch, or are even “turned off” to touching.

God Bless us all.

No matter what our circumstances: we are mammals. Touch feeds a certain need in us that we all, hopefully, felt as infants, when being cuddled, or nursed, or passed from friendly adult to friendly adult.

Or as children in our silly play as we formed “pig piles,” or concocted other ways of delighting in touch.

If our family was lucky, there were a lot of hugs.


And, one of life’s great truths is this

THE PAST HAS PASSED. IT’S OVER. Good family: great. Not so great family: great. There are people around, right now, dying to be hugged. Everywhere.


TOUCH WITH AWARENESS IS ENLIGHTENMENT

WHY?

NO WORDS NECESSARY

DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF REALITY

NOW


Like this:


Nature and Touch as Enlightenment, #1

Stand and go to a window

Look out and see some bit of nature - - - clouds, sky, trees, sunshine, stars

Take a breath as deeply into your belly as you can

Feel that

Feel your belly go out for the air in, and in for the air out

And now,

Take your left arm and bring it a little bit up and forward

Have your left hand in hitch-hiking position

Rub up and down your left arm with your right hand

Rotate your left arm so the hitch hiking thumb is pointed in all the directions possible

And keep rubbing

And breathing

And sensing two things:

The arm as it is being rubbed

The hand as it is rubbing the arm

Do this for NINE deep breaths.


Then switch arms and do it with the left hand rubbing the right arm

That is rotating in hitch hike position


Smiling as you breathe deeply is encouraged

Looking at nature as you feel the nature of you alive as a living mama is good

Life is good

LIFE is good.


Nine breaths on this side


Enjoy


Touch is good.

You are good. Life is good. This touch reminds us of that.

Let the mammal in your enjoy the simple non-verbal miracle of touch.


One reason Carol and I struck gold with our twelve hour non-date that we didn’t plan, and had a lot of talking and listening (and watching the TED talk on vulnerability, twice) and some sweet kissing at the end, and going out to dinner . . .

Okay that sounds great

And there was more, which will more or less form the framework for this book (two Bible verses, listening in turns, you’ll see),

AND

We’d had ten hours of touch without many words in my “Feldenkrais lessons” for her.

These are very much like dancing: touch that is making small movements for her back and neck and shoulders, as she lies down comfortably out of gravity.

I move slowly, not the fix, not to get her to do anything “right,” but to help her explore her own nervous system.

This is amazing, and a rare way of relating.

For people as good with words as Carol and I, with all the perils of that, this was gold: to learn to listen and touch and not explain it, and not have the usual yammer conversations.

Dance can be that way for those wanting to meet a partner.

Dance plus soul work that you share when you finally talk.

More on that as we go along.


But for now

Let’s touch hands.


Hands are a huge part of our brain.

Think how much we do with them.

Toes are too, but fairly neglected in the modern world, so we’ll start with hands, but jump into foot rubs/ explorations/ messages if you have a partner and the hand enlightenment works its usual wonders.


Touch and our human nature as enlightenment #2:

Take your dominant hand. Let it be the recipient.

Take your non-dominant hand.

Set a timer for three minutes.

Explore, caress, touch the dominant hand with your non-dominant hand.


Rub up and down each finger.

Do some pressure circles in the palm with your non-dominant thumb.

Do some sort of rubbing with your fingers and palm.


All the while, be silent and noticing:

What the receiving hand is feeling

What the giving hand is feeling

What the mammal YOU is feeling.

NOTICE ESPECIALLY WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BREATHING.


When you are done, enjoy each hand and notice two differences:

One hand to the other

Your general sense of well being now vs before you started


DO THIS NOW.

THREE MINUTES

ONE HAND TOUCHES, CARESSES, EXPLORES THE OTHER

NOW


Two more games, if you have a partner, or a friend who is willing to explore life at a more intimate level and can handle touch without having to cash it in as a sexual connection.


Touch and enlightenment game #3:

Touch and caress and explore the dominant hand of another person 

For three minutes.


They notice at the end:

Differences hand to hand

Differences before and after


You notice:

Differences in your hands having done this

Differences in YOU having done this


And then switch.

Three minutes the other way


See what happens if you ask for this a couple of times a day if you’d like.


And here’s a touch and love game.


Touch and love game #1:

Find a friend who is willing or find your partner who is willing

Sit near each other

Share 3-5 gratitudes while looking at each other

Each person shares 3-5 while the other listens

No other conversation

Notice the shift in doing “just” that.


Now, hold hands and share 3-5 gratitudes

They can be the same or new.

Feel what happens by holding hands.


This is what a good parent instinctively knows: a child needs touch much more than words when feeling afraid or scared or sick.

This is what lovers know instinctively: you can tell each other so much without any words.


And the hands are a handy, and deeply important way to start the gift of touch for yourself and for your relationship.


Enjoy your day.

Waking Up to Now: Look, Listen, Breathe, Sense your arms and legs

GXO59CbAQEKaBY4sD7AJLA.jpg

Week One - - - Day Two

Wake up to Now

Why?

It’s your life.


Right now: what do you see?

Who is seeing that?

This is a trick question.

Why?

Because being aware in the moment is perhaps the most important choice a person can make about their life.

Huh?

BEING AWARE IN THE MOMENT IS PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE A PERSON CAN MAKE.

And guess what?

NO WAITING! NO LINES! NO REQUIREMENTS! NO UNIFORM!

YOU CAN ONLY COME TO THE NOW, IN THIS NOW.

AND THIS NOW . . . HOLY DAMN . . . IT’S ALWAYS HERE.


Back to looking : better out a window.

And come back into the joy of seeing something now.

Right now.

Now, think about what you are seeing: what is its name, what does it remind you of, should it be better or different, should you be better or different at you look at this.

And: drop that.

Let it go, as they say.

Just see, SEE what you are seeing.

No name. No commentary. No associations. No mental jabber.

Just see the thing you are seeing.

(Smiling and breathing more deeply while doing this is encouraged.)


Just see.

Who is doing that?

What is doing that?


Don’t even have a name for an answer, except maybe something simple, like “I am,” or “me.”

Anyway: we see.

In the moment.

Even if it’s just (“just”) the words in this book: notice that you are seeing them now, these little shapes with white all around them.

Then bounce out and SEE something in the room, or in the yard, or in the park, or outside the window.

Enjoy that.

Looking.


Hearing.

Now.

Now add on hearing. What can you hear, right now?

Sounds come in your ears.

Sometimes we notice real time sounds. Often we have a batch of auditory hallucinations in our mind, called “thinking,” aka “words in our head,” and they crowd our listening.

That’s okay.

That’s the human mess.

We have real brains that can do real thinking (which will come in very handy later to do what thinking does best: notice differences) and we waste them on inner chatter.

So what? That’s the trap we all fall into and the cause of most human suffering in the first world.

Peace?

Want peace.

It’s only when we get free of our words in our head, which doesn’t mean stopping thinking (hard), but not believing them, which is work, hard work, and super well worth it.


Back to the now.

Right now.

And right now, you can see what you are seeing right now and add on hearing what you are hearing now.


Does that have a bit of a delight to it.

Does that world seem brighter and more real?


The middle layer of our body/ mind.

Air and lungs and ribs and chest and BREATHING. 

And that’s just the top layer, the head thing above the neck.

Let’s descend to the torso area.

What’s going on there?

Air.

Breathing air in and breathing air out.

Whether we know it or not, whatever the weather, whether we even want to or not, if we are not dead . . . we are breathing.


How about turning the attention / awareness towards that?

Can you delight in noticing right now that you are breathing?

Not just notice, but delight in knowing, feeling, sensing in real time, noticing in real time the old fashioned core of life:

Breathing in.

Breathing out.


Good.

Breathing.

You are always doing it.

Noticing it provides a sort of jolt to our awareness of one of life’s central truths, we are alive.

Right now.

And so enjoy delighting in and noticing and deepening and softening your breathing.

And do let it relax and come a little deeper into your belly.


Now you are alive.

You are seeing. And noticing you are seeing.

You are hearing/ listening. And noticing you are listening.

It’s a good life.


And . . .

You are breathing. And noticing you are breathing.


Bottom/ skeleton/ movement body awareness:

Arms and legs and spine

And what else is always true about life on earth?

Gravity.

It’s down there.

Feel your bottom/ pelvis on the chair, if you are sitting.

Feel your feet on the floor.

If your legs are crossed plop the other foot down to the floor and let the bottom of both of your soles communicate with the soul of the Earth. 

Gravity.

GARVITY IS A BIG DEAL. IT’S THE THING WE HAVE TO ORGANIZE AROUND FOR ALL MOVEMENT ON THIS PLANET.

ASK A BABY WHO CAN’T CRAWL YET WHAT HER/ HIS BIGGEST WORK IS.

GRAVITY . . .

It pulls us down, keeps us from floating away. Is crucial in what it means to be a human.


Feel your spine holding up your head.


Arms, floating off shoulder blades, hanging on ribs, hanging on the spine, held up by your pelvis.


Notice your pelvis and the chair and your two legs coming from the pelvis to the Earth.

Always legs, unless we have had a tragedy.

The legs to walk us around and stand us up.

And dance, run, skip, swim, ski, golf walk walk the beautiful walks in nature.


Sense into the five lines of being a human being

Two legs

Two arms

One pelvis/spine/ head.


Think of a child’s picture of a human: a lollipop with two ams and two legs.

Often some fingers sticking out.

The hands are super important. To hold the pencil that draws the human, to hold the spoon that feeds the human, to throw the ball that lets us humans have fun.

To catch the ball.

To caress a lover.

The hold this book, or turn the pages on this book, to dress yourself, or undress yourself or your lover.

To swim, to golf, to play tennis, to ski, to walk, to skip, to hop, to run.

Arms and legs and spine are pretty grand.


Sense them, sense them out to the fingertips and the toe tips.

Sense the spine in the middle and the pelvis holding up the spine and the head at the top, and the eyes and ears in the head.

And the breathing, breathing in and breathing out in the middle air.

Air in.

Air out.

Belly out.

Belly in.


And how about a smile and sensing our hearts?


Now we are alive and ready to go:

Two legs and ten toes at the bottom.

Pelvis/ spine/ ribs/ breathing in the middle.

Arms and fingers to move in the world and hold hands with our friends.

Eyes and ears in the head thing at the top.


And where is awareness?

Maybe nowhere.

Maybe everywhere.


Maybe you ARE awareness rather than having awareness.

Keep open to discovering more and more the delight of life in the now.


And you, sweet reader, what ’s your assignment for today?


Two things:

One I learned in 1966, junior in college.

One I learned in 1976 just as my second child, my son Brendan was about to be born.

They both are crucial to my life long love affair with the now.


Anyway: today is the day to jump into the now.


Awareness Game #1:

Start sentences with “Now I am aware . . . “ and complete them for three, four or five minutes.

Include what you see. What you hear. Physical sensations in your body.

Do not include thoughts, feelings, comments about what you see, hear or feel.

Just the facts of life in the now.

And don’t overthink this: just one awareness after another.

Begin to delight in the wonder of life as one awareness after another.


Occasionally in the background, consider/ inquire who or what is this awareness?


Enjoy.


(After the first three days, when you are more or less set for a new life, I’ll wander into the past a little to share where these jewels came from, but for now, be now: what do you see? What do you hear? What does your right leg feel? What is the sensation in the moment in your right arm? Left arm? Spine? Pelvis?

What is the delight and sensation of your breathing, right now?

What is the feel of gravity?

Enjoy, enjoy enjoy.)


And the second assignment is a more systematic version, that more or less comes from the “Gurdjieff” work.


Waking up assignment #2:

The Gurdjieff meditation.

Wake up.

Move a bit in the bed with awareness.

Sit at the edge.

Sense

One: your right leg, from toe tips to hip bone.

Two: your right arm, from finger tips to shoulder

Enjoy those two as a team for a bit.

Breathe ease


Three: Sense 

your left arm, shoulder blade down to finger tips.

Four: Left leg, hip joint to the toe tips.


Sense both arms and both legs for awhile.

Get into being into the now of having these wonderful parts.


Add on

Five: Sense your spine.

And two arms and two legs.


Breathe.

Smile.


Six:

Add on listening, with your eyes closed.

Feel listening plus sensing.

It’s a lot.

It’s you alive.


Seven

Add on opening your eyes and noticing reflected light coming in your eyes.


Combine it all.

You are now a real animal alive on this planet.


Eight:

Get up and live your day,

continuing to sense

Arms and legs

Spine

Fingers and toes

Listening

Looking

Breathing


It’s a lot.

It’s life.


Enjoy the miracle.

Do this as you walk, eat, talk, drive, do anything.

Do everything.


Is this hard?

Yes.

Is this impossible?

No.


Is this waking up?

Yes.


Especially if you are just now, and don’t have any commentary about how you are doing.


You’ll forget.

Oh, well.

Smile and come back.


You aren’t meant to be perfect.

You are meant to wake up to the glory of being alive.


Enjoy your day.