Category Archives: AWARENESS
Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post titled On Your Best Day. As I was pondering and researching the idea of changing my daily routine, I came across something that seems to follow me. It’s basically a mix of quotes that have been sprinkled under my nose over the last decade. The general idea of the quotes are; that your life is based on the question you are currently asking. I’ve heard it said in many ways, and not all of the ways are related to each other, but in my mind it has coalesced into a uniform idea. I’ll take two authors and quote them, just to give you an example. Then I’ll make my summation of how it fits into my head and thinking.
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” – Thomas Pynchon
“If you want a better quality of life, ask a better question.” – Tony Robbins
I prefer Robbins’ quote over Pynchon’s, simply because it points inward instead of outward. Both authors suggest that your reality and life is shaped by the questions you are asking.
This is an example, it’s a drastic one, but an example. There was a man in a Nazi concentration camp. He watched his family being murdered, most of them gassed, one of them shot. Being the only one from his family left, he was certain that if he stayed in the camp, he would follow suit and die. But unlike most of the people around him, he asked a different question. The question he asked was, “How do I get out of here today?” He continued to ask the question in his mind until the right answer was presented to him. All day he entertained the question, phrasing it in various ways. Half a day passed until he finally got the answer he was looking for. He looked up and saw a huge pile of naked corpses. They were all thrown on the back of a truck inside of the compound. Instead of asking the question “How could Nazis be so heartless?” or “How could God create such evil?”, he asked a different question. He asked, “How could I use this?” “How could I use this to escape?” He immediately got the answer. Without hesitation he ripped off his clothes, dove into the pile of corpses, and pretended that he was dead. He stayed absolutely still for hours as more bodies were being tossed onto the truck. Eventually the truck departed the camp, it was making its way to an open grave site. After the truck dumped the bodies, he remained in the pile until the night became completely dark. When he was certain that no one would see him escape, he ran naked to freedom.
On that day, the only difference between him and other people in his same situation was that he asked a more empowering question. His question presented opportunities and changed the course of his life. The questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis do the same for us.
In a nutshell; if you want to change your reality, change your focus. If you want to change your focus, change the question you are asking.
So what kind of questions should we be asking? According to Tony Robbins, he believes we should consider the following; Does our question create new possibilities? Does our question empower or disempower us? Is our question focusing on the solution instead of the problem? Does the question inspire us and move us to action? Does our question make us responsible and give us the power to make a change? Does the question teach us anything useful? Does our question empower those around us?
As I say in most of my blog posts, awareness is always the first step in transformation and lasting change. Starting today, just notice yourself. Notice what questions pop into your mind. Catch yourself asking “why me” questions (which are the most disempowering and worst type of questions one can ask). Catch questions based on Pynchon’s quote, where the media & government have cow herded you into asking useless questions. Notice if your questions are based on scarcity thinking or obsessing over money. Notice if your questions are body fixated, or preoccupied with the ideal home or car. Notice if your questions place a lot of blame, or are centered around what other people should or shouldn’t do. Don’t immediately change any of this, just notice it. Then slowly begin to shift these questions back to yourself, asking yourself to be empowered and to take responsibility. It’s a matter of noticing what you are focusing on and changing your focus.
Life is always a process, whether it’s redesigning your day or asking better questions. It’s all the same. It’s learning as you go along and making necessary changes as you get in touch with your personal power. This power is your intuitive self. The self that is unchanging and connected to the source that is Life itself. When people have ah-ha moments, or they do something unimaginable, or they witness something that leaves them in awe, or when super-strength seems to come from nowhere — they have tapped into something that is always there. It’s just a matter of awareness. In moments when there is a timeless stillness within us, something magical happens. We experience the phenomenon that is life. We are that phenomenon. But sometimes we forget. And it’s OK to be reminded. That’s why life is an ever-unfolding ever-expanding process. How powerful and amazing is that?! I’ll leave you with that question.
There are two approaches, or two views, you can even say two books, that sum up what I innately know; Tao Te Ching and I Am That, or you can say the views of Lao Tzu and Nisargadatta Maharaj. When I teach mediation, I reference them, or when I want to be reminded of what I know to be true, they both bring me to clarity and balance. They instantly answer any problem, any confusion, and any disharmony I could ever have. Even though one is from the 6th century BC, written by a sage — and the other is from the 1970s, written by a beedis (leaf-rolled cigarettes) shop keeper — they both speak similarly to the same unspeakable truth. They both communicated something beyond words in a way that is supreme.
Below I will list quotes by both Nisargadatta and Lao Tzu (also spelled Laozi and LaoTze). As you read the quotes, feel the finely balanced infinitesimal thread they dance upon. It’s the thread of complete surrender and unconditional love. To most of us, it’s the invisible thread that is rarely seen. The one we seem to trip over, in a clumsy manor on our worst days. Usually suffering, pain and death bring us the eyes to see what is always there. But anguish is not needed to be reminded of true wisdom. One only needs to see, and be reminded of what they already know, but have forgotten.
“To understand the limitation of things, desire them.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial. If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked. If you want to become full, let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give everything up.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“When there is no desire, all things are at peace.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“In order to let go of something, you must first know what it is.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“All you want is to be happy. All your desires, whatever they may be, are longing for happiness. Basically, you wish yourself well …desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience. It is choices you make that are wrong. To imagine that some little thing; food, sex, power, fame — will make you happy is to deceive oneself. Only something as vast and deep as your real Self can make you truly and lastingly happy.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“It has nothing to do with effort. Just turn away, look between the thoughts, rather than at the thoughts. When you happen to walk in a crowd, you do not fight every man you meet, you just find your way between. When you fight, you invite a fight. But when you do not resist, you meet no resistance. When you refuse to play the game, you are out of it.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“You will receive everything you need when you stop asking for what you do not need.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“You have put so much energy into building a prison for yourself. Now spend as much on demolishing it. In fact, demolition is easy, for the false dissolves when it is discovered.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Love says ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two, my life flows.” ― Nisargadatta Maharaj
I stopped watching the news years ago. I began avoiding it in the late 90s, and then more stringently (including magazines, newspapers, etc.) when I started to live a more bubble-like existence starting in 2002. So at this point, it’s probably been almost 25 years since I’ve followed the news. But recently, that has changed. About 5 months ago I stumbled across Russell Brand‘s, The Trews. It’s his take on the current news. After all these years, I finally found a news outlet that resonates with me. An outlet that isn’t puppet-like, manipulative, fear mongering or ruthlessly depressing. But one with a blunt sense of humor, that takes a closer look at what is happening in the world. I’ve been a subscriber to Russell Brand’s Youtube channel, and have enjoyed many of the episodes of The Trews.
The Trews Introduction:
End The Monarchy:
Naked Celebrity Photo Leak:
The Apple Watch:
Robin Williams Suicide:
David Cameron & ISIS:
Link to subscribe to Russell Brand’s The Trews: http://tinyurl.com/opragcg
It’s a good question: “Would you date yourself?” Last week I stumbled across a video (by Matthew Hussey) with that title. I was so intrigued, I decided to watch it. I thought the video was good and its content insightful. But I also think that we can broaden the question to encompass more, and raise our overall level of awareness. Below is a list of questions we can try on for size. Ask yourself each one of them. Listen to your answers and your overall feelings. See if a greater awareness is needed in any area of your life. If so, bring your full attention to it (or them, if several). I would imagine that your life would be so much fuller & richer, much more at ease, if you brought your awareness, compassion & attention to every aspect of your life possible. Just the thought of it is inspiring to me. Practice makes perfect! :) Or at least, makes for an interesting, exciting and very insightful life.
Would you follow yourself?
Would you consider yourself thoughtful?
Would you marry, and be happily married, to yourself?
Would you look to yourself as an example of courage?
Would you want yourself as a neighbor?
Would you work for yourself?
Would you look to yourself for peace & ease?
Would you look to yourself for answers?
Would you believe in yourself?
Would you choose yourself to be your guardian or parent?
Would you enjoy your company?
Would you look to yourself as an example of compassion?
Would you choose yourself as your sibling?
Would you want to put yourself in charge of important matters?
Would you consider yourself as kind?
Would you choose yourself as your best friend?
Would you trust yourself?
Would you want yourself as your creator?
Would you be inspired by yourself?
Would you consider yourself a leader?
Would you call yourself to chat about your day?
Would you want to argue with yourself?
Would you love yourself and express it to yourself?
Would you think you were making a difference in the world?
Would you look to yourself for clarity?
Would you say that you were loving and self-expressed?
Would you hire yourself?
Would you consider yourself helpful?
Would you say that you were generous?
Would you think you were living a creative life?
Would you be proud of yourself?
Would you want to make love to yourself?
Would you think you were using your talents wisely?
Would you forgive yourself?
Would you want to put yourself in charge of global issues?
Would you say that you were inspiring?
Would you write letters or emails to yourself?
Would you entrust yourself with your life’s destiny?
Add any questions you come up with to this list. You can do it simply in your mind, or you can share them in the comment section below. If you share them in the comment section, it would be helpful to others. Thank you!
And please know, all of these questions are not there to make anyone feel bad or boastful. They are there to raise awareness and inspire action. To bring more courage, love and healing to our lives. The only way to do this, is to take personal responsibility for what we see in our world. That includes the outside world, but it also includes in the inside world. The private world in each one of us; the one we think we keep all to ourselves, but forget that it’s reflected wherever we go.
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree, and told the kids that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run. They all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said, “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means: I am because we are.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a close friend. Somehow, in a train of thought, it just slipped out. I said that I feel most balanced & content when I am alone. And that it had been this way since I was a very young child. I felt bad after I said it. I felt a sense of guilt. Hoping that what I said didn’t come across as if my friends, family, partners and community weren’t great, like they were the cause of my troubles. Which isn’t true at all. What I said was something deeply personal, that came out in a very blunt & authentic way.
I thought about what I said long after my conversation with my friend. And I am still processing what I said. I have more clarity now (which I’m sure will evolve).
I thought about when I first got my dog. She is a rescue, and came with a lot of trepidation. And in the first few weeks of living with me, she was learning me and my environment, and was processing all of the new sounds, smells and people in her new life. I noticed that when I held her, I could feel her emotions. I would feel fine, I would feel balanced, then I would pick her up and I could feel her uneasiness regarding another person in the room, or a loud noise, etc. When I say I ‘felt’ her emotions, I mean I really took it on. Like I instantly felt shaky, stressed & uneasy, like if I had trouble with the other person in the room, or the loud sound outside. Which I didn’t. So I know I was taking on her energy as if it were my own.
After I thought about what I noticed with my dog. I started to think about family & friends, intimate relationships, and jobs. And so many other aspects in my life, that left me a bit confused about myself. Like maybe there was something different or wrong with me. Some reason why I didn’t particularly like being around people all the time, spending time in bustling restaurants, or having a packed social calendar.
I don’t do well in large crowds. Concerts, big parties, congested streets and packed trains — they all drain me. I also remember being a child, and spending lots of time alone in my room. And if we had a party or family get-together, I would be sure to find something to do outside the home. Like keeping busy outdoors, visiting a best friend, etc.. I would always chalk it up to being shy, or not resonating with my extended family, or say that I’m better in small groups, or best one-on-one. I always had some reason or excuse for it. But I think the truth is, that it simply didn’t feel good. And still doesn’t.
I think it’s so important for me to get simple. To just say, forget the idea that you might be an empath, or some other label. Just know what feels good and what doesn’t. But after that, take full responsibility for it. Completely own it! And be accountable for it. Surround yourself with what does feel good. But also, when you are with someone (this includes a crowd or location) that has energy that you are taking on, notice it. Be aware. Notice it as it moves from a level 1 to level 2, and quickly make changes right there & then. Not when gets to a level 6 or 7, because by then, it’s gone way too far. And if it’s at level 9 or 10, no one’s thinking or decision making will be clear at that point. Emotions & confusion will be paramount, and will override any clarity.
I have much more control over my environment than I think. For example, I can move myself, move the topic of conversation, move my attention. Where you place your attention is huge! Because it’s what you give your energy to. So if you are paying attention to the negative, or to your resistance regarding a situation, or to feeling vulnerable & trapped — no wonder you are zapped! There goes all your energy, it’s going to where you are sending it, what you are ‘pay-ing’ attention to. You’ve payed the price! You’ve invested your energy unwisely.
Removing oneself from situation or location might be a quick fix, but the trouble is really within. I think we have to get to know ourselves better. And sometimes, the best way to do that, is through other people. If I didn’t have that conversation with my friend, and say that I felt most balanced & content alone, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post about this topic. And I wouldn’t have been able to sit with the thought, to gain more clarity over time. Being with someone was key to me getting a better picture of myself.
Like I have mentioned before on Sunday Is For Lovers; with all concerns or problems, the first step is awareness. Become more aware. Notice. Just notice what is transpiring. See it. Then take responsibility for it. Know that you are responsible for how you feel, and what you invest your energy/attention in. Everything always comes back to you. And that’s the good news! Because that means there is only one person you have to deal with, only one person you have to correct. :) You.
Below are 7 keys to take charge of your life, and to stop being a stress sponge! If you are highly sensitive to energy, could be called an empath, feel that you need to be alone to re-charge your battery, like to leave parties and events early (or avoid them all together) — you might be a stress sponge like me. :) Below are a few tips that you might find helpful.
7 Keys To Not Absorbing Negative Energy:
Step 1 – Be Aware
Be aware and still enough mentally, to be able to see what is happening while it’s happening. Even better if you can do this before it happens. Like a glass on the edge of a table, it’s good to have the awareness and foresight to see that it isn’t a good idea. See what is going on around you, prevent yourself (and others) from causing self-harm with negative energy.
Step 2 – Speak Up
Speak up, change the topic of conversation. Suggest a new way or place to be. Say what isn’t working for you, present another option that might be better & more enjoyable for everyone. Often, people are stuck in mindless routines, and the best way out of them is to try something new.
Step 3 – Take Action
Take action, help to quickly sooth the aggravation of someone, by redirecting their focus/energy. Everyone knows this works great for babies. Everyone is still a baby! We all love entertaining distractions. Find something positive for you & others to focus on. Know that there is so much you can do to actively change your thoughts and environment.
Step 4 – Move On
Move on, mentally & physically. If changing the conversation, or redirecting energy/focus isn’t enough, find somewhere else to be. You don’t have to go home, but find a place that suits you better for the moment. But don’t just leave the situation physically, and then mentally take it with you! That’s worse than staying there! Drop the whole thing. Drop the the past, and get present. Move on completely and reset yourself.
Step 5 – Stay Clear
Stay clear, in mind and in body. Breathe deeply, with long slow exhalations. Use your belly as you breath. See it expand. Feel your body as you breathe. Fully enjoy it! Feel yourself becoming more aware & more relaxed with each breath. Exercise regularly. Get feelings and energy flowing! Move them through you, and out of you! Let go. Spend time in nature. Ground yourself. Spend time sunning yourself, or sprawling out on the grass. Meditate in the early morning hours. All of this is great for staying clear.
Step 6 – Invest Wisely
Invest wisely. Know that your energy is like money. Don’t spend it mindlessly. See it as sacred. So many of us wonder why we are tired, and don’t have enough energy. (We can also say the same about money!) See that you are spent, because you have spent yourself mindlessly & unwisely! Care about where your energy goes. Ask yourself before hand, “Will this activity replenish my energy, or deplete my energy? Even better, will it give me more energy than what I came there with?” If your answer is no, or that it might leave you with less energy, it’s not a good investment or choice for you. Isn’t it interesting that donating to good causes, giving hugs, sharing smiles, and exercising in nature, always gives us heaps of energy? They are great investments!
Step 7 – Give Thanks
Give thanks for the opportunity you have to be with and learn from your environment. Be grateful for all those that love you, want to contribute to you, and invite you to places. Really take the love & gifts in. See how fortunate you are. And give back that energy & good fortune. Find a way that resonates with you. Find your best way to be with, and to contribute to, a vast number of people. Give thanks & give back in every way you can.