Jaren's Blog

August 22, 2010

Acceptance, the Key to Being at Peace with Reality

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 1:18 pm

As we go through life, we often contribute to a bumpier ride than is necessary by resisting or fighting against reality, against life.  We torture ourselves by being unhappy about our job, our family situation, our financial situation and more.  We turn to outward things, possessions, people, events, in the past or future seeking fulfillment and peace.  All the while, the source of the greatest peace is already within each of us.

The one thing we have control over which has the greatest potential to change how we perceive reality is our attitude of either acceptance or resistance.  To accept means to receive gratefully, to agree with what was given and receive the gift in it, the hidden wisdom or experience to behold.  To resist means to fight, to oppose, to not agree with what is in front of you or being offered to you.  When we accept life as it comes to us, we flow gracefully with it, enjoying or at least being at peace with the ride.  When we resist life, we exhaust energy and peace while trying to swim upriver or trying to change the direction of the river.  On the one hand we become in harmony with what is, with what life deals us and on the other we become out of tune and the creator of our own hell.

For any event or experience that life brings to you, the amount of suffering or peace that accompanies you comes down to either accepting it, or resisting it.  To resist it is to prolong the suffering by wanting to deny what happened, to want things to be different than they are but at the same time not being able to change what happened.  We then become our own torturers by continually reliving what happened and hoping for a different outcome only to open our eyes and not like what we see.  Since we only have control over ourselves but don’t really have control of what happens around us or to things outside of us, to not accept what happens, what is, is to deny reality and live in a dream world while continually being awakened to the nightmare perception we create.  The nightmare ends when we accept what happened, what is, and make peace with it, allowing it to flow through us instead of creating a blockade of torture within us.

Above all, accept yourself fully and completely just as you are.  If you are a subscriber of Christianity, consider the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect”.  The Greek word that “perfect” was translated from here means “whole”, “complete”, “wanting in nothing”.  There’s no better way to realize this state of “perfect” than to accept yourself just as you are, flaws and all.  Through this selfless and non-judgmental self-acceptance and love you’ll gain the clarity to enact any desirable character changes that merit it.  But that change only comes out of first accepting them and yourself just as you are.  Without accepting, you are resisting and through your resistance you are unknowingly feeding the perpetuation of those “flaws”.

From the non-judgmental acceptance of self point of view, accepting others just as they are, and dispelling judgment becomes more natural and easy.  This plays into the “Golden Rule” of not judging and also treating others as you would prefer to have them do to you.  Any perceived control or influence you think you may have over others is an illusion.  Whether “others” be family, friends, acquaintances or strangers, they are going to choose, act and do what they will in spite of most of your efforts.  Instead of resisting and fighting the choices and actions of others that you don’t agree with, and likely creating a continued state of disappointment in yourself towards others, accept them as autonomous equal beings.  So long as their actions and choices are not being forced upon you directly, what is it to you to allow them to be themselves?  Truly accepting and embracing the diversity and individuality of humanity awakens you to the beautiful collage that is life and nature.

Accept the situations, experiences and curve balls life deals to you.  Whether you’ve lost a loved one, been laid off, or suffered an injury, accepting it without judgment or labels can transform any event from one of only hardship or suffering into an experience filled with wisdom and growth.  Through acceptance you’ll have better clarity to navigate and pass through it without sabotaging your peace or potentially increasing the amount or length of suffering.  Resistance usually has the affect of perpetuating the undesirable suffering.

Accept the events of the past to gain the wisdom they hold and then let them go into the records of history as a learning experience.  Holding onto the past, or in other words, resisting what happened, generally perpetuates the guilt, anger, or other emotions involved or caused by the now gone event and can even result in the past repeating itself.  Accept the future as being mostly unknowable and accept that the future can’t save you from the current moment in which all of life is lived.  Accept that the current moment is the only true position of power and happening and live it to the fullest.

When we flow with life by accepting instead of resisting, we more quickly learn life’s lessons, experience more peace, and have more harmony in our relationships with others and nature.  We see others as extensions of ourselves instead of a “them” that need concurring.  Life is then seen as something that happens for us, instead of against us.

July 13, 2010

Returning to the Present

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 7:30 pm

If you have watched Jack Black’s “Kung Fu Panda”, you might remember hearing the old turtle, “Master Oogway”, comfort Po’s anxiety when he said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”  If not fully contemplated and understood, the profound wisdom of this quote is easily overlooked or dismissed.

So much of our regrets, angers, anxieties or worries are based on events that have already happened, or not yet happened.  That leaves them as either past “has happened”, or future “might happen”.  We rarely stop to take note of how much of our vitality is wasted on these past events or future possibilities.  While the past does have its lessons and memories to cherish, and the future its preparations to plan for, neither of them should be allowed to ruin the joy and experience of each passing moment.

The past is valuable insofar as it increases the joy and ability to live better in the current moment.  If we regret the outcome of a past event, it is likely because we still haven’t extracted the wisdom from it to live with different resolve today.  Instead of holding onto regret, we need to fully realize the lesson of that event and then transform regret into gratitude by learning a better way to handle that situation going forward, should the opportunity arise for a “redo”. That realization will only take place today and never tomorrow.  Once realized, move on and let it go.

If anger is still gripping you from some past event, it’s probably time to evaluate whether that anger is serving or hurting you and then see if it can be let go.  As an Eastern proverb goes, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”  Another excellent observation of anger comes from the meridian of time Roman, and friend of Gaius Julius Caeser, Mark Antony: “Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.”  Anger is an instinctive emotion that serves during the “fight or flight” stage of any perceived threat.  The problem comes from not releasing that energy once we are no longer threatened.  Once you’ve escaped or resolved the perceived threat, let the anger go.

The past can teach us a lot of things, as well as bring back some of the joy of past relationships or events.  However, it doesn’t do well to dwell on it if it is keeping us from living fully today.

The future is something so illusive that it can be difficult to predict, even when based on the patterns of yesterday.  We all think about the future for various reasons.  Perhaps more so than is helpful when it comes to living fully today.  The future can stir up all sorts of emotions from hope, despair, anxiety, anticipation, worry, and many, many more.  When we look forward to a future event, we often feel excited or hopeful.  When we dread a future event, we may feel anxiety or fear.  Whether you perceive either of these seemingly opposite emotional sensations as positive or negative, they can both be debilitating when it comes to living fully today.  Whether it is excitement,  fear or anything in between that you feel towards some future event, the potential exists for those emotions to prevent you from realizing what you are living and experiencing today by not being present enough to enjoy whatever it is you’re doing right now.  The future should only occupy our awareness so long as what we’re doing right now is preparatory for the future we want to create.  That can be anything from buying groceries for the coming week, making reservations for a trip to Yellowstone or buying tickets for the Lady Gaga tour in 2011.  Notating those events in a calendar will help you be prepared and continue preparations when those dates become today.  However, if you’re not in a position to do anything in this moment to plan or prepare for that future possibility, put it out of your mind and focus on enjoying whatever it is that is needing your attention and awareness right now.  Another way future events can ruin the current moment is when we place excessive emotional stock in a future event but then that future event either never takes place or turns out to be a dud, we are left in a mostly depressed, angry and ruined state.

While we are stuck in the past or looking for salvation in the future, we are likely creating a mini hell for ourselves today.  This is because our preoccupation with the past or future is keeping us from living or accepting today.  This is why we love weekends and loath Mondays.  Our anticipation for the coming weekend, or longing for the past weekend is often the very thing which is making weekdays, particularly Monday, when the past weekend is so fresh in our memories,  unbearable or mundane.  Except for those mostly rare times when remembering the past or preparing for the future is enhancing the current moment, they should be left in their respective time frames.

To give some perspective to this concept, please consider the following: Nothing that has ever happened in the history of the universe has ever happened outside of this moment.  Nothing ever happened in the past and nothing ever happens in the future.  When ever anything transpires, it does so right now.  Each passing moment, right now, is the only position of power.  Thus when we focus on living each day to the fullest, doing those things that need to be done and indulging in those things that we want to do, we are in the best position to guide and live our lives in whatever way pleases us most, without regrets, and without anxiety.  This realization can identify the ills of procrastination in a much brighter light.  Regretting not doing something yesterday or putting it off until tomorrow will not get it done.  Today is the only day that you will ever live your life in.  Realize it and gain your power in the present, this moment, right now.  What are you waiting for?  You start living by doing so today.

Namaste

Micah

June 15, 2010

Love Yourself as Your Neighbor

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 12:14 am

Many are familiar with the 39th verse from Matthew chapter 22 in which Jesus says, referring to the 2nd great commandment after loving God with all you heart, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.  To love your neighbor as yourself implies or requires that you must also equally love yourself.  Since we are generally our own worst critics, it is often easier to love others more than yourself.  To not love yourself first is to try to give water to the thirsty from an empty well.

In the teachings of Buddhism one can find the saying,  “you can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  I would add to “love and affection” respect and acceptance.  How we treat others is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.  If we are feeling unhappy, dissatisfied, rejected, unloved or a world of other emotions about ourselves, we will likely project those feelings and emotions into the environment around us and thus strive to bring others down to our level of suffering.  As the saying goes, “misery loves company”.  However the opposite is also true.  If you are full of love, acceptance and peace towards yourself, those will be the same attributes with which you lift, treat and see in others.

To turn this self perpetuating spiral around, you’ll need to start by committing to unconditional love, acceptance, respect and forgiveness towards yourself.  Don’t focus on changing yourself for the moment, just introspect into your inner most core and see yourself from a 3rd party point of view.  Recognize and accept the way you are, how you are, and for what you are.  The decisions and actions of yesterday are merely a reflection of what got you to where you are today.  The only thing to be done with the past is to extract any wisdom or lessons which have not yet been realized, and then let it go.  The only real mistakes are when we fail to learn something from the lessons life provides.

Regardless of what now lies in your past, forgive yourself fully for it and return to loving yourself unconditionally.  What has happened in the past is done and can’t be changed.  For this reason holding onto anger, guilt or regrets about the past is largely a waste of time and likely impeding you from getting to where you would rather be today.  Instead fill your thoughts with positive affirmations with which to repeat to yourself while looking into your eyes in the bathroom mirror or as you go throughout your day.  For an example script to repeat to yourself, you can say or think the following: “I completely love and accept myself just the way I am”.  If there is a specific trait or challenge that you are working to change, improve or forgive yourself for, you can add to that: “Despite having a problem with <insert undesirable here>, I completely love and accept myself”.  While it may seem strange to accept yourself the way you are now, “flawed” and all, it’s a primary way to seeing clearly to the source of those “flaws” and being able to live with new resolve and insight going forward.

As you continue to build this well of unconditional self love, respect, and acceptance, you will begin to appreciate and see in others aspects of yourself for which to either have compassion for, or celebration and peace of.  Because you are becoming more gentle towards your own “flaws” or issues, that same gentleness expresses itself more naturally towards all you encounter.  Anytime you find yourself excessively bothered by the behavior, actions or decisions of another, take that as an opportunity to return to self introspection to see if there’s something there for which you still haven’t forgiven yourself.  Again, often what we see in others is a reflection of unresolved hurt or issues in ourselves and is an opportunity to bring about healing in yourself and subsequently the healing of society.

To return to the altered words of Jesus, love yourself as your neighbor, which is the replenishing well of unconditional love that flows through you to others.

Namaste-

Micah

June 9, 2010

We are One Planet

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 4:22 pm

If there is one thing to be learned from WWII and the creation of the Atom Bomb, it is the very real capacity of man to destroy this planet.  Today’s nuclearthermo bomb is equivalent to the combined total of all TNT bombs dropped during WWII, or two megatons.  Albert Einstein said he didn’t know what weapons WWIII would be fought with, but that WWIV would be fought with clubs and stones, meaning the very real possibility that the technological advancements of future weapons would possess the real possibility of throwing modern man back into the stone age, if they survived at all.

As frightening as this possibility is, it has also had and is having the positive affect of waking more and more of us up to enlarge our circle of family, friends, tribes and so forth to transcend national, religious and ideological boarders.  Modern social networking technology is making that even easier and more vast.  Through the advent of facebook and twitter, it is now possible to maintain relationships and reach hands out to people of nearly every country of the world.  By expanding our circles to people of other lands that we would otherwise only know about through books or world news, we can begin to dispel myths we may have heard about them and come to find that for the most part, they are very much like us.  Any differences in beliefs or approaches to life that may exist are far outnumbered and outweighed by our commonalities.  More than ever, respect and acceptance of people who are different than yourself is needed if we are to survive as a species, as a planet.  Respect and acceptance doesn’t equate to agreement, but are principles of the Golden Rule to give others what you yourself desire.  As the Dalai Lama has said, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

In the final episode of the PBS series “Cosmos” (Who Speaks for Earth) by Carl Sagan, he said “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.”

As you contemplate your connectedness and dependence upon the vast resources and lands of planet Earth, consider the profound words of the Stoic Philosopher King (Roman Emperor) Marcus Aurelius: “… We should not say ‘I am an Athenian’ or ‘I am a Roman’ but ‘I am a citizen of the Universe.”  I invite you to broaden your definition of family and kin to encompass all of planet Earth and the life that has sprung forth from her, to love your neighbor as yourself, and to embrace the tenets of the Golden Rule by respecting and accepting people as they are, though they may follow a different path.  If hypocrisy and bigotry is to come to an end, it must begin within yourself.  You may find that accepting and loving yourself just as your are is key to affording others the same gesture and to transforming your own nature.

Namaste

Micah

May 26, 2010

Sabotaging Our Own Peace

Filed under: Micah McAllister — mikeutah @ 4:30 pm

Peace dwells where power exists. For most of us, that is exclusively within ourselves. As much as we may think we have influence or control over others, that is mostly illusory.  Even within ourselves, depending on how conscious we are of our thoughts and actions, power may be limited and we instead respond out of pre-programmed conditioning and habbit, a state of mostly unconscious existence. In this state, we give power over our peace away to others.  Peace returns when we take our power back.

Perspective and Choice

We often think that we have little to no control over how other people make us feel or in how we respond, especially if they purposefully did something to hurt or upset us. Though at first this may appear to be true, changing your perspective reveals that you do have the power to choose both how you feel and how you respond. The words or actions of others carry the potential to hurt in a couple of ways. 1. When someone’s actions or words indirectly upset us, meaning, they didn’t knowingly or purposefully do or say anything to upset us. 2. Someone purposefully and/or knowingly does or says something to upset you. In the case of the former, this is generally due to the action or words bringing a past unresolved hurt or flaw in ourselves to the surface and is actually a great opportunity to discover and heal an unresolved issue. The “offender” was merely the messenger. In the latter, the act of someone purposefully trying to hurt or upset you is likely a subconscious projection in themselves where they may have and/or feel a range of unresolved hurts, poor self esteem, complexes or other issues. Compassion for their unconscious suffering can help whatever they did or said to roll off your back realizing their action was more about them than it was about you.

Beyond this perspective, you still have the choice to take it personally and induce suffering, beginning a potential downward spiral, or recognize the situation for what it is, learn something about yourself, or others, and continue on your merry way. The following story illustrates this approach:

A monk and his student were walking down the road. Suddenly someone ran up behind the monk and forcefully pushed him down before running off. The monk rose to his feet and continued on his way without even turning to look at whoever had pushed him. The student was very surprised by this and asked the monk why he didn’t turn to face his attacker. The monk simply replied, “they are not my problem”.

Anytime you allow the actions or words of others to upset you, you have consciously or unconsciously given your power away. In this state, your instinctive reaction will most likely serve to perpetuate or worsen an already undesirable situation. Not taking it personally and recognizing you have a choice to continue on your merry way is very empowering to maintaining your peace. You cannot be bothered by others, unless you choose to give them that power. Knowing a choice is involved, why would you choose go down that road?

Disclaimer

None of this should be interpreted to say you shouldn’t protect yourself or those in your care. If real danger is sensed or innocent victims at risk, actions to move to safety or to protect yourself and others should be taken.

Micah

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