Tag: Live Your Life

Our Personal Awakenings

In The Truth of Our Existence, a new discussion series from Pema Chodron, she provides wisdom on ‘Four Teachings from the Buddha to Illuminate Your Life’— tools that help open you up to the beauty of enlightenment that’s possible in everyday life for all of us.

She talks of things that are simple yet profound.  An idea that may easily be overlooked. She observes: “You just have to notice and that’s not always so easy. But it becomes easier and we definitely have that as an innate capability; which is our natural awareness, ‘awakeness’—the ability to know what’s happening. It’s an innate quality of our mind; we know what’s happening. Well, we don’t always know what’s happening, but we have awareness of what’s going on— even if we can’t figure it out.”

Which begs the question—are you really awake? It’s more than your eyes being open and your body cycling breath in and out.  Take a moment to ponder, when was the last time you really thought about what’s going on in your life— which is different than trying to solve that problem. The ‘thought’ is examining a situation from a full-picture perspective— the reason something is happening, the why.  Many times we truly are so busy trying to figure out a quick and painless fix, we lose sight of the question; the most important part.

We all know people, maybe it’s even us personally, that continue to hit the same wall time-after-time— suffering and trying to escape the depths and cycles of debt, bad relationships, depression, and the like. Beginning to panic when we see a bill, have a fight or experience a negative thought. Many times, the immediate reaction is to search for an answer instead of identifying the root of an issue.  

It’s important to consider: What’s happening and why is it so? Instead of feeding into continued turmoil by trying to solve problems as we go along— putting the answer as the high priority, how we’re going to fix something before we’ve even considered the question, why something is happening.

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to retrain our brain to examine the situation, to examine our ‘natural awareness’; our ability to come to the best resolution is increased.  By taking Chodron’s advice, we begin to develop our sense of what she refers to as ‘awakeness’—our internal knowledge of ‘what’s going on’ in our lives from a more proactive perspective.

This grand idea even speaks to another pearl of wisdom that Chodron so astutely pointed out in an inspiring piece for Shambhala Sun: ‘be free from fixed mind.’  It so perfectly fits this perspective and the importance of allowing your heart and your mind to be open and to have peace within yourself.  It’s fruitless to try to grasp into the ether to identify an answer to whatever challenges arise—consider all of the components that make the situation as it is—then, you will no longer have to search for the answer, the answer will instead find you.  

Experiencing the Journey to Live Our Dreams

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” –Paolo Coehol, The Alchemist

So many times we hear commonly shared wisdom like “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of traveling.” But what does that mean? Like many things, in theory it sounds great, but it’s not quite that simple when put into real practice.

How do we know where to start? Does the journey begin, as they say, at the very first step? Or does it come after recognizing our reality as it currently stands and adjusting it accordingly?

We’re inundated with many conflicting ideas on creating a path to our best life. Everyone has a different interpretation of happiness, destiny, dreams and what they all mean. They’re ubiquitous, elusive ideals that are describable, but indefinable. Ideals we continually strive for, but most interestingly, can’t see, much less concretely understand.

When we step out into the darkness, on the beginning of a new journey, the first key is consciousness, particularly in terms of understanding ourselves— our strengths, shortcomings, quirks and other characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. Assessing them; making peace with imperfections and striving for improvement are all acknowledged in this step— allowing us to continue forward.

In our second step, we create conscious action. We walk with a sense of purpose; utilizing new skills learned, old habits reformed. Beginning to experience the essence of joy; with a renewed sense of purpose in our personal goals— as well as a better understanding of and appreciation for, our true, work-in-progress selves. 

After we’ve come to begin our realization of who we really are, on our journey, right now, we’ve become conscious of ourselves and our surroundings, allowing us to move on to the next step.

Continual Acceptance. This is knowing that things will change. Wishes, plans, predicted paths; they’re all subject to detour. There is no guarantee where the road will lead, and that’s the beauty of it. The enlightenment of it all. When we allow the universe to unfold as it will, we begin to experience life, truly live it, instead of attempting to dictate our self-justified will.

Gifts are bestowed upon on us when we’re actively aware of what is happening in our immediate now. It’s the subtle shifts we make, allowing a force larger than ourselves be our guide. Giving us the gracious opportunities the universe has in store for us; the essence of living the life that we dream, so long as we decided to look and listen.

The Issue of Aging

How many times have we heard someone told to act his or her age? It has become such a common phrase in our society; we rarely stop to think what it really means.

This morning, while meditating, a thought came into my head; that I was 10 years younger than I am. Suddenly, I felt great! I once again felt young, as if my life was still ahead of me, rather than mostly behind me. My age is a dilemma that has been irritating me as of late. I thought about numbers and realized, as a society, we place such an enormous significance on the number of our age; but we don’t think about what those numbers really mean.

Imagine it like trying on a new coat, if you take it away and put another in its place you’ll feel totally different. If this is the case, that our age isn’t anything but a number, how do we live our best life? By enjoying each stage in its present form.

Firstly, it’s important to consider it from a perspective of experience. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Sometimes, we confuse it for wanting to be in a different stage of our earlier lives. We were thinner, younger, more beautiful or handsome; so many physical characteristics we hold so dear and lament when we grow and change over time.

Secondly, an inordinate focus on physical attractiveness is what creates a major dilemma in our society; ageism takes away from the power and beauty of growing older. Many are afraid that our ability to be as quick and spry as we once were mentally or physically will be noticed by colleagues, bosses and other people in our workplace and lives.

It’s one characteristic that the everyday person has in common with celebrities. How many times have we heard a story where a celebrity was no longer considered for a role because they were ‘past their prime’? They were no longer perceived as being a popular, ageless figure.  We begin to believe that if these powerful people can experience these problems why wouldn’t it happened to us?

Similarly, we then watch them strive, but rarely find, solace in changing their physical appearance to be more palatable to the public. The major problem with this is not the alteration of the way that they look. It’s the fear that growing older is something to stave off or be self-conscious about instead of something to celebrate.

Outside of the physical, we then find, that we miss experiences or relationships that we had in the past. Instead of focusing on what is now and a little bit of what’s ahead, we find ourselves holding onto things that only hold us back. To experience full joy is to live in the present moment. To cherish each breath, to make the most of your current wisdom and appreciate the wisdom of all of your years.

It’s easy to remember the good times we had in the past, what we tend to forget, is the challenges that changed us; the troubles that made us strong— the situations that turned us into the people that we are now.  Those characteristics can be seen on our outward appearance; every age line, every early gray, is a badge of our courage to have survived every day thus far. They’re a testament to our tenacity and our ability to grow.

Next time you meditate, or even look in the mirror, try a change of perspective on your perception of your current self. Allow yourself to feel whole in your soul instead of trapped in the age of your vessel. This life is short and precious, every bit counts, there isn’t one reason to waste our ability to truly experience every moment of our lives—especially in be sorrowful for growing older and wiser.  

A midweek pick-me-up! 

Building Boundaries Instead of Walls

How do you handle ‘letting someone in’ to your life? Some of us slowly allow others in and some of us are open books. Whichever side of the fence we fall, there is one commonality—we feel it’s easier to let someone in than to risk offending them and losing the relationship.

So we just swing the door open wide and hope for the best. That feels good in the moment, right? It keeps everyone happy; they feel valued and important for being in your inner circle.  You feel that you’ve got a team behind you. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. 

When it comes to our interpersonal relationships, we don’t want to disturb our precious and fragile relationships with our friends, family, coworkers and/or significant others. Many times, it’s easier to allow others to share their insight and opinions on our day-to-day situations than to tackle them on our own for a variety of reason.

Not setting healthy boundaries with those we care about, however, allows them to unintentionally interfere with our personal wellness; affecting us more that we know. Our ability to problem solve is sacred, not shared. So why do we find this idea to be so difficult?

Because we mistake boundaries for walls—spiritual and emotional boundaries are important for ones own well-being. Boundaries help contain and build strength from within, whereas walls tend to block and defend. When we start to view these two ideas separately we can begin to cultivate better relationships. 

It is important to note, that we do, of course, need others— their love and support of our lives and our goals create a sense of accomplishment and wholeness within ourselves and our life. It’s when we allow others the opportunity to make decisions with us or for us that it starts to get sticky. We think we need to build walls as our boundaries are not being respected, walls are not necessary, a re-affirmation of our boundaries are.

We believe that in order to be loving humans we need to be open. Being open is wonderful, but we have to be mindful of the personal ramifications of giving our power to others or too much weight to their opinions. When we rely on others for advice about all of our personal needs or challenges—they begin to feel responsible, and sometimes even offended, if we don’t follow their advice.

Imagine if your closest confidants knew that you only came to them when you needed specific, quality advice. Instead of them feeling they owe you their help—they’re excited that their advice is what you seek! The value of them knowing this not only strengthens the relationship but may also lead to their best advice.

Now it’s time to practice—build your boundaries, but watch for walls. Allow those closest to you the opportunity to be present in your life, without being responsible for you. Building up this reciprocal respect of our personal boundaries not only strengthens relationships; but also creates peace within ourselves and our own abilities.