Monday, June 30, 2014

Know peace? Meditation for 7/1/14

Georgetown SC

“You are not the drop in the ocean, but ocean in the drop.”  - Deepak Chopra

“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”  - Benjamin Franklin

     At some point along the spiritual path we leave behind the notions of trying to be what we think other people think we should be and trying to live up to manufactured ideals.  We quiet ourselves enough to hear that voice within and begin following it our world deepens immeasurably.  We learn to detach from our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, opinions and emotions without judging them – in the quiet place we now abide judgments and attachments are just what they are – a part of us that we can choose to engage in or not.  We learn to laugh at the gymnastics our ego pulls off in its attempts to get its way.  Other’s criticisms loses their bite because we understand that they are referring to what they know of to be human – our “self.”  But we are detached from this “self,” and to those that criticize we can joke that they need to get in line – that we are the harshest critic of our self in the world.  We come to trust and rely more and more in inspiration and intuition – the channels through which we receive direction.  We lose interest in these things of the self and gain interest in what we can offer to life in exchange for all it offers us.

    We no longer waste energy trying to remember the details of deceptions because we quit deceiving.   We begin to see the underlying synchronicity in life, and we stop fighting everything – including ourselves.  Our talents take on new meaning because we find ways to apply them that make a difference in the lives of those around us.  We come to know ourselves intimately – we have faced our fears and accepted our weaknesses and find that we are far better as a person than we ever thought possible.  The deep relationship we develop with that universal consciousness we call God becomes a steady source of joy, compassion, peace and confidence.  Circumstances no longer control us, we know we are ok regardless of what happens.  We don’t even know really when it happened – we just see endless vistas ahead even better than where we are.  And it all stems from knowing HOW – Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness.  It worked for me again today; I think I will try it again tomorrow.

Today, may I know peace.  

Happy Tuesday !!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Are you really being of service? 6/30/14

Georgetown SC

     “ be in a position of offering true, useful and effective service to others. . . I must find the peace and serenity to successfully merge inspiration and experience.”  -  Anon

“Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.”  - Florence Shinn

     Inspiration is an influence on a person which combines power and motivation with a unique insight.  Intuition is unique insight we arrive at without conscious thought.  If the first quote is accurate, it says that we cannot be of any quality service to others unless we have three separate elements – power, insight and experience.  It also states that to effectively tap into this inspiration - this insight - this intuition, we must we must quiet ourselves (stop the internal dialogue) first.  Pre-requisites of peace and serenity are detachment from personal motives or gain – we can have no serenity when we have selfish motives.  So, it follows that if we want to be of true service to another we can have no ulterior motives and that we must have the wisdom that comes from intuitive guidance. 

     The second quote states that this internal voice that speaks with no words only prompts specific action, it does not give explanations.  So, if we truly want to help another person, we need to detach and quiet ourselves, listen with our heart, tune into and trust the voice within us that speaks with no words, and then meld the result with our own life experience. 

     Personal experience tells me that if I fulfill my part the most effective words will be given me – they come from deep within rather than from the thinking mind.  Often we do not understand the true relevance of our words and actions until later – and sometimes we never do.  But the point is clear – if we want to be of genuine service, we need to get rid of ego.  And the benefits we receive from doing unconditional service are always in excess of the effort we put forth and always come in surprising ways.  It works – as long as we put forth the effort required, avoid expectations and resist managing the results of our efforts.

Today, may I be of genuine service to my fellows.  

Happy Monday

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Everything going to hell? Meditation for 6/27/14

McClellanville SC

 “One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.”  -    Henry Ward Beecher

“Disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.”  - Bayle Roche

      It is human to develop hopes and expectations in people, places and things.  We rely on the word of our fellows and move toward goals and objectives accordingly.  But things change, and regardless how pure of heart we keep ourselves we still develop expectations and thus will always know disappointments.  Whether it is a relationship, a business venture or a mutual objective we will know discouragement to the degree that we have ourselves financially, mentally and emotionally vested.  The resulting feelings can be crushing – old fears of exclusion, abandonment, self-worth and financial insecurity are awakened.  Worsening matters, when someone else goes back on a commitment they often make false accusations in an attempt to cover their trail.  They may flat out deny commitments they made, appointments they set or even engage in outright attacks in an attempt to distract attention from their part in things.   All this combines to put us in a position where it is easy to rush to “defend” ourselves or “set the record straight.”  We often want to attack the other party, perhaps gossiping or spreading a tale of woe.  But our choice to allow our fears to drive us to anger comes with many consequences – we burn bridges, we alienate others, we obsess about the situation, we suffer the “hang-over” from our anger (depression) and to the precise extent we do all of this we miss the opportunities that were at hand.  Sadly, even if we do engage a new opportunity but still have a spirit of anger or revenge we will taint the potential that exists, which ultimately sets us up for yet another disappointment.

     When we first become aware of something changing that we had “counted on,” politely extracting ourselves from the situation is our first move.  Trying to “set the record straight” or voice disdain only serves to stiffen the resolve of others who have “let us down” – and trying to assign blame is to waste words and energy.  The sooner we can detach the sooner we can gain perspective and find either a solution or a viable alternative.  Service work changes our focus, consulting with a trusted and detached confidant shows us where we developed unreasonable expectations or demands.  The sooner we accept things exactly as they are the sooner we gain a realist perspective on the situation and learn the lessons that will allow us to succeed in ways we couldn’t conceive of just a short time before.  And besides, if we have traveled the path long at all, we have come to know that when we “lose” anything it is simply to make room for something far superior.

Today, may I keep a pure heart. 

Happy Friday!!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What were you thinking? Meditation for 6/26/14

Awendaw SC

“A fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and will not change the subject.”  - Winston Churchill

“Passion is positive obsession.  Obsession is negative passion.”  - C. S. Lewis

     What do we do when we have a thought that continually over-rides all other thoughts?  When someone does something to us that we deem highly inappropriate and we seethe with thoughts of retaliation, when we are working to break an addiction, when we lust for some material object or circumstance, when we are obsessed with placing blame or getting credit – how can we break out of the pattern of that thought constantly impeding and tainting everything else in our life?

     One of the first things we become aware of when we learn to meditate is that we are not our thoughts, opinions, attitudes, emotions, desires, judgments or feelings.  When we start to observe these things rather than “be” these things we realize we are much deeper – we are deep awareness within, not the mental chatter that goes by in our head.  This brings great relief because many of us have tortured ourselves with guilt or shame because of what we consider to be bad thoughts.  Our actions define us, and our first reflexive thought when anything happens is almost without exception far from the optimum way to handle a situation.  But when this “committee” in our head will give us no peace, and keeps insisting that the IRS is going to audit us, our spouse is leaving us, our business is going to fail, the pain in our toe means we have cancer and are going to die by Tuesday – we need positive action.  We cannot think our way into proper thinking in such a state – we must act properly and our thinking will follow.

    And even if we have learned to quiet our mind, nothing will yield better results than reaching out to someone who genuinely needs help.  Surrounding us are always a myriad of opportunities to assist others with things they are struggling with.  We can also remember that we cannot do everything at once, but there is something we can do at once – even if it is some menial task like yard-work, dishes or whatever that can give us some breathing space.  We may have a mantra we can repeat to bring ourselves back to center – the Serenity Prayer works for many, and there are others.  I know those that swear that when they are disturbed nothing works like getting their hands in the dirt – such as bringing a plant to life or maintaining one that is well established.  There are many options, but we must do something.  To sit still in our mess will do nothing but drag us deeper into the negativity.

Today, may I engage in positive actions.

Happy Thursday !!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are you done yet? Meditation for 6/13/14

McClellanville SC, circa 1890

“We rate ability in men by what they finish; not what they start.”  - Unknown

“Finishing races is important, but racing itself is more important.”  - Dale Earnhardt

“It’s the job that is never started that’s the toughest to finish.”  - J.R. Tolkien

     It is said that showing up is half the battle.  It is also said that getting started is half the battle.    There are times we struggle with procrastination – starting on things that we know need to be done.  But after we overcome that and get underway, many of us struggle again.  We have a habit of getting things most of the way to completion, then launching some new endeavor.  The next thing we know we have a life full of half-done projects that annoy us.

     Unfinished projects have a way of decaying, and something we had ninety percent of the way done has a way of deteriorated to sometimes being worse than it was had it never been started.  It has been popular to talk about “multi-tasking,” but how often does that really work?  Don’t we soon find ourselves just running back and forth putting out fires, annoyed when we have to revisit projects that in our mind we had finished? 

      There is a joy to be had by learning to bring things to completion – to putting on the finishing touches.  We can stand back and say “I did that,” and then allow ourselves to fully focus on the planning stage of the next project before us.  We have more confidence in ourselves as we know we are a person that sees things through.   In the long run we are more efficient because we are not foolishly burning energy refocusing all the time.  And if it is what others think of us that is driving us to do this?  Well, no one is revered for the number of projects they left unfinished.

Today, may I finish what I have started.  

Happy Friday !!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Forgiveness Meditation for 6/12/14

Santee River; SC

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  -   Confucius

“The weak cannot forgive.  Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”  - Ghandi

   Life would be much more difficult if we could not remember things that have brought us pain in the past.  Not remembering that a hot stove burns our hand would set us up for recurring pain.  I am a particularly slow learner – I have burned my hands countless times on all manner of cooking appliances over the years.  But in the aftermath of each burn, I usually just tend to the wound and move on.  I do not spend my time plotting revenge on my stove with a sledge-hammer, nor do I try to devise ways to tip-toe through the house avoiding the kitchen.  Neither have I set out on a campaign to wipe bees off the face of the earth as revenge for the times I have been stung.  But when it comes to people that I perceive have harmed me in one way or another – well that is different matter entirely.  I can nurse a grudge and plot revenge for days ..months…years…decades.  Somehow it seems that there is some underlying spirit of competitiveness when I feel a person has wronged me – there is some inexplicable urge to “keep score” and “square accounts.”   I do not fault the stove for being hot or the bee for stinging –that is what they do.  And yet even though I know we are human and we all blunder many times through life, there is some higher standard that I feel I need to hold people to.  Well, how does this work out?

     First, be clear that harboring grudges is a completely different thing than holding others accountable, just as revenge is completely different things than allowing someone to suffer the consequences that result from their actions.   And when someone does harm me, just as with the stove or the bee I have the option to let it pass entirely without making a scene.  I also have the option to put a big red tally mark in my mental notebook under that person’s name to constantly reference in the future.  I can amass my resources and call in favors in an attempt to wreak some sort of havoc on that person’s life.  But holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting it to sicken the other person.  It is only us that it poisons – most often the incident doesn’t even cross the mind of our “antagonist.”  And as the quote says, seeking revenge is a boomerang that will unfailingly come back on us and deliver the same punishment we try to mete out.  When we harbor anger and plot revenge we beat ourselves with the clubs we intended to use on our “adversary.”  And making ourselves a “victim” causes far more suffering than the incident ever did.  We have to ask ourselves: “How important is this that I am allowing it to poison my life?  Why am I giving this person power over my thoughts and as a result missing the life I might be living this moment?”   The answer is always the same.  Forgiveness of others is the only path to our own freedom. 
 Today, may I be forgiving.  

Happy Thursday !!

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Not getting any cooperation? Meditation for 6/10/14

Seabrook Is. SC

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”  - John Maxwell

“A good leader inspires people to have 
confidence in him; a great leader inspires them to have confidence in themselves.” 

   Enduring and effective leadership requires obtaining the cooperation of others both by encouragement and leading by example.  In the short term, those that intimidate, badger and manipulate may show results, but their impact is short lived.  As obvious as this appears when spelled out, it is much more difficult to implement.

     When we are responsible for others or when we are in a position that others are involved and something needs to get done, it is easy to get upset when others slack off and take short-cuts.  If others would only understand, if they would only see things as we do and do what we think they should do, everything would be fine and everyone would be happy.  As we seek to impose our will upon them, with noble intentions of course, the situation deteriorates and we not only end up without getting what we set out to do accomplished, but now have new problems as there are resentments to contend with.   The next thing we are bemoaning our “luck,” discouraged that we are stuck with such “losers” around us to work with, which brings on a healthy bout of self-pity.  Manipulation and badgering, regardless of how subtle, just do not work in the long run.  Our motives always come clear to others in retrospect, and sooner or later we find ourselves without the cooperation we need anyway.   

     An alternative attitude we can consider is to assume that others are doing the best they can with what they have.  This attitude releases us from the feeling of personal responsibility for others behavior, but it has to be kept in balance.  On the one extreme we can just transfer our controlling tendencies to decide that we have to figure out what it is they need in order to get them to do what we want them to do.  On the other extreme we can become judgmental and critical, which also is doomed for failure because it ultimately inhibits us as we define and limit ourselves.  But kept in balance, assuming others are doing the best they can with what they have gives us the flexibility to honestly offer assistance, guidance or material support – an honesty that is perceived by others.  If they do not accept it, we are able to move on to other alternatives without the feelings of resentment or scorn that can so easily happen.  This attitude yields further benefits also as our observation of things that happen around us that we are not involved in becomes much less judgmental and thus more compassionate.  It is but another example of how changing the way we look at things changes the very things we observe.

Today, may I be tolerant.

Happy Tuesday!!

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Whats got your goat? Meditation for 6/9/14

Port Royal; SC

“He who angers you conquers you.”  – Elizabeth Kenny

“Anger is but short-lived madness.”  - Horace

    I recently heard a speaker saying that anger is normal, that we should expect to get angry so we need strategies to deal with it.  There was a day I would have agreed, but I now realize that anger is an optional way to react – it is not a necessary part of being human.  This begs the question – is anger as a tool effective?

     The most obvious use of a display of anger is to intimidate, and less obvious is to passive-aggressively manipulate.  We may well get by for a while bullying people or plotting and scheming, but ultimately it is us who loses.  People drift away, and the ones who stay only stay because they are emotionally sick enough that they do not see that they have other options in life.  Anger dumps massive quantities of chemicals in our system – if one has not been angry for a long time the changes in the body cause a feeling for a few days not unlike a bad hang-over.  Anger literally poisons us from the inside out, especially so if we do not dissipate the energy caused by it or we hang on to grudges.  It keeps us from being effective – we lose all subtlety and finesse and it drives obsessive thoughts to the extent that solutions to the issue are not apparent.  It means giving away our power – far beyond allowing something to live rent-free in our head.  As long as it occupies us it exacts a tremendous toll on all areas of our being.  So, rather than focusing on anger management, would it not be more effective to focus on not giving away our power to start with?

     Learning to observe ourselves brings on many revelations that do not seem logical at first.  When we are angry, we certainly do not feel fearful – the chemicals in our system make us feel powerful and vindictive.   But when we start becoming honest with ourselves and reflecting on our behaviors the old excuses we used to justify our excesses do not pan out anymore.  One of the best tools to use is to pause when we feel ourselves getting heated up and make ourselves answer the question” “What am I afraid of?”  The answers will be quite revealing and provide motivation for change.   Anger for me always boils down to a few things.  I fear losing something I have or not getting rid of something I don’t want.  I fear not getting something I want or getting something I do not want.  Self centeredness – plain and simple.  Anger simply displays fear (anxiety) – which is but a lack of faith, and getting upset means we choose to allow our fear of the future to corrupt this current moment.   And every moment of our life that we are mentally somewhere else is another moment we were not present for our life. 

Today, may I be rational.

Happy Monday!!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Have you found your self? meditation for 6/6/14

Seabrook Island; SC
♪♫  “Is this the real life?
         Is this just fantasy?
         Caught in a landslide….
         No escape from reality.”  - Bohemian           Rhapsody; Queen

          Thoughts.  Feelings.  Opinions.  Attitudes.  Emotions.  Judgments.  Desires.  Accomplishments.  Failures.  These and many more things like them develop into this body of mental identity – this thing we call “self” or “ego.”  We were not born with this image of who we are.  We develop it dependent upon the times we were born into, the circumstances we are in, what others tell us is real and the events that happen about us.  We treat this body of perceptions as though it is something real – it even carries our name and we alternately indulge and punish it.  As these skewed perceptions become our reality we begin battling an imaginary foe – ourself.  We are convinced that if we can just learn enough, be enough and do enough we will be able to squeeze happiness out of life - but our efforts simply enlarge the fantasy.  And so we become the center of our universe – selfish and self-centered, ever more convinced that we can someday prove that our fantasy is reality.  When the day comes that all of our false notions fail us at the same time, we indeed feel caught in a landslide as the illusion crumbles.

     Nothing changes if nothing changes, but decades of reinforcement do not give way easily.  The good news is that the truth is already within us, and all we have to do to access it is to get rid of the false that keeps it buried.  Among the first steps are to create a relationship with the spiritual essence within so that we have both a vantage point of and a place of refuge from our “self.”  As we then learn to be the observer of the thoughts, desires and emotions rather than thinking that they are who we are they begin to lose their power over us.  We start realizing how skewed our thinking is – how our illusion creates unrealistic expectations and tainted motives so that it can convince itself it is real.  We realize why we kept ending up in the same trick-bags – we thought we were changing but in reality we were striving after new versions of the same illusion. 

    If we do the work, we ultimately we come to be quite fond of this “self” as we realize that it was convinced that it had to live or else we would cease to exist.  And as we start to love our “self,” for the first time we can clearly see others “self” – as differentiated from their spirit.  To the degree that we learn to appreciate, love and be gentle with “our self” we begin to see our “self” in others.  And thus the journey begins – as “self” withers spiritual presence begins to fill the vacated space, and we begin to glimpse the infinite possibilities in the true reality of what is.  We no longer need an “escape from reality.”

Today, may I kind to my “self.”  

Happy Friday !!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Time to quit? Meditation for 6/5/14

Charleston SC

 “The first rule of the Calvary is: If the horse you are riding dies, dismount.”  -  John Cato

“No use in flogging a dead horse.”  - Unknown

     We all have spent time and effort on something that becomes more and more troublesome.   It might be a relationship, a business deal, a project we have been working on or any of many other things  We get the intuitive notion that it might be time to move on to other things, but the combination of the work we have invested and the potential we think we see keeps us pushing along.  Little glimmers of hope can keep us hanging, and we are especially susceptible to this if we have our ego invested in the deal.  Then, not only the project suffers defeat but our ego suffers defeat as well.  Of course, we don’t want to quit five minutes before success happens.  How do we handle it when we are caught in this gray zone?

     It is not always easy to separate ego from intuition, especially if we have our ego invested in something.  In the case of people and relationships, we often fall in love with the potential we see, not the reality of what the person is willing to do.  In the case of business and projects, often we have told many others what we are doing, sometimes exaggerating the positives and minimizing the negatives, so we feel that if we fail to complete what we set out to do it will somehow show us to be inadequate or inferior.  But at what point is it enough pain – at what point do we decide to cut bait and run or hang in and fight.

     If I have expectations of something going my way, I am set up for resentment, which is not only uncomfortable (self pity soon follows) but it distracts me from what the next right thing to do is.  After all, it is not in a duck’s nature to stay in a row.  If we find ourselves stubbornly pursuing something in the face of increasing resistance, it probably isn't supposed to happen.  If when we look at our vision and cannot see a clear tangible benefit for anyone besides ourselves we are probably on the wrong track.  And when we find we are ignoring that quiet voice in our gut we are heading for trouble.  Yes, it is painful to accept that the potential we thought we saw in something really doesn't exist.  But the sooner we accept it the sooner we are back living in the moment and looking for the things we can do rather than focusing on the things we cannot.  We have to remember that acceptance does not mean endorsement, surrender does not mean resignation and refocusing our energies into another effort does not mean defeat.  The sooner we accept the reality of what is the sooner we can hear the vision of a situation that works to the benefit of all involved.   As to when to persist and when to send the horse to the glue factory on a particular project, I am often unclear.  But, reviewing each day as honestly as possible at the end of the day and speaking with trusted others usually brings pretty good indications of where tomorrow’s efforts are best spent.

Today, may I be realistic with myself.

Have a great Thursday !!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Magic Potion discovered !! Meditation for 6/4/14

Folly Beach; SC

News flash - a magic potion has been discovered!!!   

      Aesop (600 BC) said that it is the sign of a noble soul.  Plato (380 BC) said it will turn your life around.  Marcus Cicero (100 BC) said it is the greatest of virtues.  William Blake (1780) said it is heaven itself.  John Jowett (1890) said it is vaccine, anti-toxin and antiseptic.  Tony Robbins (present) said it dissipates fear and brings abundance.  It wards off depression, prevents anguish, soothes scrapes and heals deep wounds.   It breaks down walls of hostility, allows us to live in the present moment, enhances awareness and love, brings humility, is the barometer of serenity and joy, and brings fulfillment to our lives.  Your supply of it increases if you share it with others.  If it is lost or stolen, you can always get more on a moment’s notice.  How much will you pay for this elixir?

     “It” is gratitude – the simple feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.  Its power has been noted through the ages in all cultures.  Gratitude cannot be purchased for any price; it requires only willingness and a bit of effort.  We speak often of making a gratitude list – things that we are grateful for and things we are grateful that we do not have – perhaps this should be a daily thing, done before we retire to sleep when we review our day.  We can find gratitude in the smallest, silliest things, and we can find it in the growth we realize from our greatest trials.  It will take us everywhere we want to be.

Today, may I know gratitude.  

Happy Wednesday !!

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Know how to spot the truth? Meditation for 6/3/14

 “Be something you love - and understand.  Be a simple kind of man.”    -  Lynyrd Skynyrd

“All truths are simple in final analysis, and easily understood.  If they are not, they are not truths.”  - Napoleon Hill

     Simple means easily understood, not involved or complicated, and the truth is always simple.  When I am complicating things I am usually looking for a shortcut.  I am attempting to manufacture an excuse to be dishonest with myself and others.  If I continue down this road, I am soon two miles wide and a half inch deep trying to convince myself I have broad horizons.  I end up with continuous aggravation trying to juggle all of the resulting nonsense.  I may talk of “simplifying my life” during the resultant moments of chaos, but have no clue of where to begin because I have hidden the true problem from myself.

     Being simple is far from being unsophisticated – rather it is quite the opposite.  It requires determining the values (honesty, unselfishness, purity, love) to which we aspire and then working toward them whether it seems burdensome or not.   If our efforts toward simplifying our lives are to be lasting the spiritual must come first – otherwise we just use the notion of “simplification” as another temporary distraction to avoid dealing with ourselves.  We rid ourselves of this trinket and that in an attempt to have fewer balls to juggle, but when we discover that simple does not mean easy we abandon the notion and look for new trinkets.  However, by living these simple spiritual truths and reinforcing them with practice, we develop consistency and reliability.  The need for material objects falls away because or sense of self worth no longer requires displays.  Our life simplifies.  And as our path narrows,  we find the depth of character we always sought.

Today, may I remember that the truth is never complicated.  

Happy Tuesday !!

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