Giving Up

There’s a paradox I’m seeing more deeply lately, that brings with it an enormous feeling of relief: giving up is how I get what I’m looking for.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately hanging out and exploring the unknown. Asking the big questions. Getting quiet. Going inwards.

The unknown is this gorgeous space of pure possibility. It’s essentially what we have yet to discover, to learn, to be made aware of.

It’s a place where all my ideas of myself, others, life, work, and health are getting gently placed aside so I can see what else there is to see.

Something outside the box of everything I already think, believe, assume and “know”.

And as often happens when I’m sitting in the unknown, new things eventually become known.

That space gets filled with so much clarity, love, peace and joy that I sometimes find myself in tears.

But what I’ve come to see is that the more I “try to hang out in the unknown to get my answers” the less answers I get.

The more I try to think different thoughts than what I currently think, the more I tend to keep thinking the same things.

The more I feel like I need to figure something out, the less figuring out happens.

The more I feel I need to know like right now because time is of the essence and I don’t have days, weeks or months to wait, the longer the wait is and the more my urgency gets in the way.

The secret? Give up.

If I want answers I have to stop trying to get answers.

If I want different thoughts than what I’m currently getting I have to stop trying to get different thoughts.

If I want to figure something out I have to stop trying to figure it out.

If I want to know anything that’s currently unknown I have to stop trying to know anything.

It’s so simple it’s almost too good to be true.

When I’m sitting at my desk with my notebook trying to make a plan, get some answers, figure some things out, I end up feeling more stuck, more frustrated and more hopeless than when I started.

As soon as I resign, the magic happens.

When I truly accept that I don’t know and that’s okay, I go for a walk to get pizza, or put on some music and take a shower, or sit by the fire and just let my mind go blank… and that’s when I get what I’m looking for.

The answer appears. The solution is obvious. The new thought shows up. The situation gets figured out.

And I didn’t have to do a single thing but give up and go enjoy my life, however that looks in the moment.

There’s a reason I have my best ideas on the chairlift. Or why I often pause the tv show to jot down a brilliant idea. Or why hiking through the forest does wonders for my clarity of mind.

New, fresh thought is the default. When we’re not getting in the way by “trying” to get it, we just simply get it.

Could life be any more simple? 😉

The Future You Think

The thing with thought is it’s tricky… And sneaky… And convinces us it’s reflective of reality when in fact it’s the projector, not the camera.

So when our thoughts tell us future predictions, they rarely look like random predictions. They look like what just is going to happen, give or taken a little bit of unpredictability.

But holy moly there’s so many assumptions hidden in our future thinking.

Assumptions like…

We know what kind of person we are (and we’ve always been like this).

We know what we like or dislike (obviously).

We know what we’re capable of.

We know what we’re not capable of (thanks, past).

We know what’s hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant, undesirable for us (never going there again).

We know what’s easy, natural, effortless for us (and therefore should stick to that).

We know what other people will do and say, so that needs to be taken into account.

We know what’s safe and reasonable and rational and going against that is just asking for trouble.

Etc, etc, etc… there’s no end to all the hidden assumptions that don’t look like thought, they look like reality.

And then we wonder… where did the joy in life go? Where is the zest? The aliveness? The bliss? The wonder? The mystery? The magic? The fun? The adventure?

The good news is that it’s all already here. Seriously, right here. The bad news is we rarely see it because we have a head so full of thought that doesn’t look like thought.

Just underneath the ideas, assumptions, predictions, and predictability we put on our future is the natural joy of life. The natural mystery. The natural fun.

The future is unknown. We all know that. But what’s really cool to see is it’s just a blank slate waiting to be created. Waiting to be lived. Waiting to be discovered.

If nothing you thought about your future was true, what would you love to do with your precious time here on earth?

That’s the question I’m reflecting on lately and I encourage you to do the same.

If nothing you thought was reality, it just just appeared as reality because that’s the nature of the human experience, would would you love to do with your precious time and energy?

The Life Changing Magic

I rarely binge books anymore. I like to savour them like fine chocolate, enjoying bits and pieces here and there as treats.

But I heard a lot of talk about Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and once the book was delivered to my iPad my whole evening was consumed. I couldn’t stop reading because there was so much truth in what she was pointing to.

Yes, she’s talking about it in the context of our physical environment, our “stuff”, our surroundings, our belongings. But her mandate to only keep and cherish what “sparks joy” and discard the rest rang awfully familiar.

Although the wording is different, the essence she conveys by the feeling of joy is the deeper essence of our true nature.

It’s the default setting of peace and joy within us. It’s the rush of inspiration. It’s the feeling we have no words for but all we know is “yes. this.”

That feeling that she’s pointing to is the essence behind life. The energy of being alive. Love. Joy. Bliss.

I teach clients that the beautiful thing about our feelings is that they serve as a reliable guide for what we should discard and what it’s nice to “keep”.

Your mind’s telling you you suck, no one likes you, you’re a loser and you’ll die alone? Discard.

Your mind’s playing up scary “what if” scenarios, trying to convince you to control life and telling you to fear life? Discard.

Your mind’s telling you your partner doesn’t find you attractive, you need to buy nicer clothes and do fancy things to impress them? Discard.

Your mind’s telling you you suck at writing blog posts, criticizing your abilities and making you doubt your deepest desires? Discard.

You feel the rush of inspiration, the joy of the present moment, or the love that naturally exists within you? Keep. Cherish. Enjoy.

Can it be that simple?

I think what hooked me so deeply about the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (even though I have yet to put my house in order) is that I recognized the truth in it.

The truth that yes, it really can be that simple.

On Getting Out Of The Way

How do I grow sunflowers?

My friend and I recently planted a whole packet of sunflower seeds in her front garden because they’re our favourite flower.

I know that if I want sunflowers to grow in that specific patch of dirt, it’s helpful to plant seeds there. I also know that they need water and sunlight (both of which nature provides) in order for them to grow.

But how do I grow sunflowers?

Well the truth is, I don’t. Or more accurately, I can’t. Sunflower seeds turn into sunflowers because there’s a bigger energy, a life force, a universal intelligence, that takes care of it.

It’s simply not up to me. Since it’s in the cards for sunflower seeds to become sunflowers that will happen naturally, barring any interference in the system.

We work the same way. By nature, we are creativity, well-being, love, wisdom and peace of mind.

By design we are operated by the same life force that knows how to grow sunflowers. It also knows how to create kittens, heal wounds, digest our breakfast and run millions, perhaps billions, of other processes.

Essentially, it takes care of us. It runs us,  balances us, and can do the heavy lifting such that I never have to work out how to beat my heart… and yet it continues to beat.

The only thing that gets in the way of sunflowers expressing their true nature, or us expressing our true nature, is that occaisionally there’s temporary interference in the system.

Sometimes the land is too hot and dry, sometimes it’s too cold and wet, and the sunflowers have a hard time blooming. Sometimes we get lost in our stories, caught up in our beliefs and led astray by our personal thinking, and we don’t feel in touch with our true nature either.

Yet knowing what’s the default, and what’s simply sometimes in the way of the default, is immensely helpful.

When I need a new solution, a creative idea, a fresh perspective, a reminder of what’s available to me, a new thought, a feeling of connection, a sense of love, or a feeling of peace, I take comfort in knowing that’s the default.

I know the questions: How do I get peace of mind? How do I work out this problem? How do I feel love for this person? How do I feel well? is akin to the question I posed at the start of this post: How do I grow sunflowers?

I, with my human will, can’t. But fortunately I don’t have to, because it’s built-in to the system.

I live an easier, simpler life knowing that an inevitable fact of being human is that I, same as you, have well-being, wisdom and peace of mind as the factory settings.

And I also benefit immensely from understanding that when I’m feeling stuck, low, anxious, unwell, unclear, unbalanced, or anything else that doesn’t feel like home, that I’m simply experiencing some temporary static in the system that will clear out quickest when I leave my mind alone.

Where we so innocently get in our own way is we try to do something with what we think and how we feel. Instead of leaving the mind alone to self-correct we dive into the static and try to mess with it, not realising that the static is designed to clear out and return the signal to full strength.

If you’re not feeling love and connection, let your mind settle.

If you’re not feeling creative and resourceful, let your mind settle.

If you’re not feeling calm and contented, let your mind settle.

If you’re not feeling clear and wise, let your mind settle.

There’s nothing you need to do to get to these states, they are the default. 

When we’re not indulging the static it fades into the background effortlessly.

If you want to grow a sunflower, plant the seed and let nature take care of the rest. If you want to feel your true nature, plant the seed of understanding that there’s nothing you have to do to get yourself back there, and let nature take care of the rest.

On Bathing in Wisdom

The longer I’m in this conversation about the true nature of human beings and how our experience gets created, the more I’m surprised.

Surprised by the simplicity. Surprised by the depth. Surprised by the fact that there are no exceptions.

But lately, surprised by the unpredictability. I have no idea what I’m going to see or when I’m going to see it. I like to think I know what’s coming down the line, but I’m being proven wrong time and time again.

To be honest, it’s really kind of nice. Yet surprisingly, I shouldn’t be surprised that my future predictions are inaccurate. It makes perfect sense that they would be.

The nature of this conversation about understanding the human experience is that we’re looking to something deeper, something more foundational.

We’re looking to our spiritual nature. We’re looking to universal wisdom. We’re looking to our innate health. We’re looking to what we all have going for us, all the time.

Looking in this direction is like soaking in the most magical hot springs: the hot springs of wisdom. It’s very warm but not too hot, with clear mineral-rich water tucked away in nature under a starry night sky. We can invite whoever we please to join us, or we can dip in alone.

We can relax in that place, bathing in the beautiful feelings, soaking in the warmth. It’s inherently healing and soothing.

Better yet, we don’t have to know what positive benefits we’ll get from soaking in the hot springs of wisdom.

Will I step out of the hot springs with my sore back feeling better? Maybe.

Will I step out of the hot springs with a new solution to an old problem? Possibly.

Will I step out of the hot springs with a lack of stressful thinking about a loved one? Perhaps.

With a new idea for a creation? With the inspiration of how to better serve an intention? With an easier time waking up early? With an effortless daily yoga practice? With a deeper friendship? With a better understanding of life?

Who knows?

What I do know is that soaking in the hot springs of wisdom does something for us. By its very nature, it takes care of us and brings us back to our deepest, truest self. I may not know what form it will take, but I know something always occurs.

Bathing in wisdom is the ultimate panacea.

To quote Michael Neill it’s 98% unpredictable despite being 100% reliable.

Will something new occur to me? Absolutely. Will something that doesn’t yet exist get created through me? Of course. Do I know what those will be? Not a clue.

Surprisingly, that’s all I need to know.

On Confusion

When we’re confused, there’s one thing surely going on: we’re not seeing clearly.

That’s it. It does not mean what we’re confused about is inherently confusing.

When we’re feeling confused or that life is really complicated, we simply aren’t seeing clearly in that moment.

We’re not seeing clearly because we’re up in our heads. We’re caught up in a lot of thinking that’s obscuring our natural clarity in the same way the sun gets covered up by a lot of clouds. 

When our attention is on our thoughts, what they mean, how they feel, what we think they’re trying to tell us, and what ones we need to listen to, our attention isn’t tuned into the space before thought.

That space is the space of pure peace, calm and clarity.

We’re either looking at what is already created or we’re looking to where those creations come from.

The beautiful space within where all thought ebbs and flows has a different feeling to it.

It feels open, expansive, alive, and peaceful; very different than when we’re buying into the illusion of thought as reality.

When we’re using the raw potential of thought to create images, form and content in our minds, it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s underneath it.

We don’t see common sense solutions. We don’t see obvious answers.

We don’t see how simple life is… until our thinking falls away and all we’re left with is simply life, unfiltered.

When we’re at home base we see clearly because clarity is our default. As humans we are naturally gifted with wisdom, common sense, creativity, peace, compassion and love. 

Yet we’re also gifted with the power of thought. We can rev up our thinking by getting into it: thinking longer, harder and more analytically until we’ve completely clouded over our innate wisdom.

Confusion is the opposite of clarity.

In that state of mind it feels like things can’t be easy, no simple solutions exist, our intellect is needed to solve problems, and we have to make tough decisions that require effort, sacrifice and difficulty.

But most importantly, confusion feels like something we need to take seriously.

It feels like there’s definitely a right and wrong decision, and if we make that wrong decision, we’re screwed. The stakes are high and everything is very serious.

This is how we know we’re not seeing life clearly. The stakes are never as high as they seem because our innate health and well-being can’t ever leave us.

It’s purely unconditional, ours for life (because it is the energy behind life) regardless of our circumstances, our habits or our choices.

We can’t choose anything that will cause us to lose our innate well-being. It can feel that way, but it’s just another thought-created illusion.

If we can allow our personal thinking to settle and listen for our wisdom, what to do next becomes clear.

Our wisdom is simply the intelligence behind life showing up within us as fresh, helpful thought.

The same intelligence that knows how to make carrots out of seeds and fuse broken bones together will provide us with helpful ideas.

The same intelligence that’s renewing our cells, digesting our food and beating our hearts works for us psychologically as well.

We can listen for the soft, gentle voice of wisdom and allow ourselves to be guided by it instead of our personal psychology. Choices made from a loving, free, peaceful space tend to unfold beautifully.

The best way to hear that soft bubbling stream of wisdom under the loud calamity of our thinking is to do nothing with our thinking. Just wait.

Have enough patience to allow the self-correcting nature of the mind to self-correct.

It’s designed to clear old thought to make room for fresh thought.

Once we allow this to happen, clarity will be felt, stale thinking will have dissipated and our wisdom will give us the answer we’ve been waiting for.