Day 187

On the 39th Anniversary of My Birth

Today marks the end of my third decade and the beginning of my fourth. I have so much for which to be grateful. I have listed the lessons I’ve learned so far, and the lessons I look forward to learning in my next decade.

I have learned that

It all comes out in the wash

Happiness is a state of mind, and lasting happiness comes from within

I have all the tools necessary to solve any problem in my life

I have complete control over how I interpret a situation

I am surrounded by love

There is beauty and worth in every experience

Pain is an effective teacher when you are a curious student

The shadows aren’t so frightening when you have the courage to dive deep

Gratitude is everything

I am looking forward to learning what

Awareness feels like and its effects on my life

A silent mind feels like

Patience looks like

It means to truly shape my existence

It means to completely trust in God, the Universe, Source…

A sustainable healthy diet and lifestyle feels like and its effects on my life

I will be like as a leader

 

May you find the awe of little things like the sun’s rays shining through green leaves glistening with rain water.dsc_1025

 

 

Day 185

Something’s Not Quite Right

At my job, I am a member of a committee that is in charge of thoughtful gestures, such as congratulating someone on the birth of a child or saying farewell to staff and teachers who are leaving. One of the teachers in our office has been having health issues. She walks with a cane, and she’s in a lot of pain and has been missing classes or coming in late to classes. I was concerned, and asked the members of the committee if they felt there was anything we could do to help her. To this inquiry both replied, “Aren’t we already helping her out? People help her when they see that she needs it. What more can be done?” This is a great question. What more can be done?

I thought about it, and I realized that there really isn’t more that can be done. The teacher in question keeps to herself, chats with different teachers on occasion, but for the most part, her presence is pretty scarce. She has chosen to lay low and not be present in the office, so there really isn’t more that we can do.

So why is my inner voice telling me more can be done? I guess I feel like she is on the periphery of our community. People treat her well, but I don’t feel that we really reach out to her. I guess I’d like for us to do more than just hold the door for her, or carry her books when she goes to class. I guess I’d like us to care more about her, but to do so would be an invasion of her privacy and rather meddlesome.

So this is where I have to delve deep. Is there a part of me that needs care? Am I projecting? This is something to explore because having voiced my concern and gotten the feedback I did from my committee members, I feel a little foolish. This whole thing; my desire to spread love and compassion every where I go just seems off. It just doesn’t seem quite right.

So now what? I’m feeling really lost, and out of my element. Is this really my path? Is this really what I want to be doing? I honestly do not know.

Well, I’m definitely not giving up. This was my first attempt at following my heart. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and that there would be false starts and non-starters in the case of the teacher, and that the awkwardness is part of the journey.

Today was a bit of a disappointment. I had low energy and I just felt off. I’m not sure what that means, but I think I will just sit with it and see what this discomfort has to teach me.

Wishing you all the very best.

 

Day 184

Walking the Path

On Saturday, I watched “Tony Robbins: I’m Not Your Guru”  on Netflix. From the beginning, I was in tears. I think I cried more watching what was actually an uplifting documentary about the work Tony Robbins does than I have at any sad movie I’ve ever seen, although the Japanese animation “Grave of the Fireflies” is still the biggest tear jerker I’ve seen, but the moving and motivating “Tony Robbins: I’m Not Your Guru” had me in tears on multiple occasions.

The documentary follows Robbins and a select few of the participants in an annual six-day self-help retreat that takes place in California and costs more than most people’s monthly salary to attend–well, at least it’s more than my monthly salary! Anyway, it’s a spectacular event, with music, tears, shouts of joy and elation, and shocked expressions when Robbins uses strong and taboo language to “wake people up.”

Watching what looked like hundreds (maybe about a thousand) of people discovering their personal power and their purpose in life, made me think about my own path, and I realized, I haven’t been walking it. I’ve been meditating on it, blogging about it, talking about it, and planning around it, but I have not been walking it. What’s stopping me?

I think it’s my fear of abandonment. I don’t want people to look at me sideways when I follow my heart and do and say things that are seen as new agey psychobabble that is a little too Kumbaya for most people. I’m all about being compassionate and loving, expressing our feelings, being authentic, and connecting to others on a deeper level than shared opinions about sports, movies, or politics. However, I’m afraid if I start advocating that and start walking the path and behaving the way my heart tells me too, I will be seen as flaky and out of touch with reality. So I keep my head down and I quietly secretly go about my life without sharing my ideas with the people in my life.

Well, starting now, I’m not going to hide the fact that I care about people, and when I see people suffering, I am going to do something or say something. I won’t be good at this right off the bat, but at least I am going to swing. Even if I strike out, I’m going to get right back out at bat and adjust my stance, and form and keep swinging until I hit a home run. This is the beginning of me walking my path. I’m a little afraid, but I am more interested in seeing how this is all going to play out.

If you are walking your path, I commend you. If you are thinking about walking your path, or haven’t found your path yet, I support you. Let’s take this journey together. I imagine it will be brilliant, and even if it isn’t what we expected, it will be better than what we are doing now.

181

Different Motivation, Same Trap:Will Exchanging Fear for Joy Still Result in More Suffering?

Until recently, most of my decisions have been fear based. I chose to stay in Japan because I was afraid of poverty, for example, but since I made a commitment to love myself, I have made decisions based on whether or not the result will make me happy. So now I am no longer motivated by fear, but rather happiness or the prospect of happiness or joy. This feels like a better way to live, but is it? Am I not replacing one external motivational factor for another albeit more pleasant motivator?

According to Sangha, attaching joy or pain to an object, person, situation, or place is a demonstration of greed or fear. He explains in Living Enlightenment that people are either motivated by fear or greed, both of which leads to suffering. He writes that even if one reaches their desired situation or goal, one always wants more. This is the nature of the different types of karma we carry with us, according to Sangha. Our karma drives us to complete experiences that we did not complete in previous lives.

I don’t subscribe to everything Sangha teaches. To me, like so many other beliefs based solely in the unseen and the mysterious, these statements are to be taken with a grain of salt, especially when heaven and hell and punishment start entering into the picture. I don’t know why but I distrust those ideas. To me, they seem entirely too human fraught with judgment and categorizing different behaviors as good or bad. I imagine that a higher power would be above or perhaps unconcerned with such base notions as reward and punishment, but I digress.

What I mean to say is that I believe that it is not ideal attaching my joy to things like where I live and whom I love. I believe that happiness is a state of mind and that one should be happy no matter where they are or what they have or with whom they are. However, I cannot ignore the desire I have that compels me to leave Japan and go back to Colorado. The force that drives me is neither fear nor greed, but inspiration. It feels like my higher self is calling me out of Japan and back to Colorado as if there is something I am meant to do there. Therefore, I am not so sure my motivations are driven entirely by greed.

This could be a form of rationalization. I could be justifying my need to be close to family, to feel loved and accepted with lofty sounding reasons like being compelled by something bigger than myself. This too can be entirely a construct of my mind. However, as the Buddha said, there is nothing but the mind. It’s all an interpretation of reality and I don’t think I will ever really know what reality is. However, that does not concern me.

What concerns me is my own peace of mind and getting to the point where I am comfortable in my own skin. I want to walk with my head held high in any and all situations. I want to be okay with L’Shawn. I want to look at my image in the mirror and be filled to the brim with love and respect for the vision shining back at me. I want to be content with my life and accepting of the choices I have made.

That’s where I am now. I am in a space where I need to create a different more positive and uplifting narrative for my life. I need to believe the universe or something bigger than me is in my corner and making things possible for me because whether that is true or not it makes it possible for me to take risks and follow my desires despite my fear of failure or abandonment. So whether or not changing one motivator for another will result in more suffering remains a mystery, and for now I’m okay with that; for now, I’m getting used to seeing the world through a lens of possibility.

May you find joy in whatever you do or just within your eternal self.

179

I think, therefore I’m Not Aware: How My Mind Keeps Me Locked in the Past

So in the latest chapter in Living Enlightenment, Nithyananda writes about thoughts and how they are random and illogical. He explains that the pain and joy we felt two years ago is different from the pain and joy we felt yesterday, but we interpret them as connected although they are not. He writes about “unclutching,” which I think is disconnecting from the emotions and thoughts we experience and viewing them as isolated incidents and nothing more. I interpret this as viewing each of our experiences as experiences that are unique and self contained and not connected in any way.

Nithyananda defines “unclutching” as a state of consciousness. He uses the analogy of driving a car. Being conscious or aware is like a car in neutral. As with driving a car and changing gears, being in neutral is being aware, and being aware is understanding that all experiences are new and unrelated. It is the mind that takes the experiences of the past and connects them creating a narrative of our lives and our identities. To be aware is to be completely present and to realize that thoughts and the emotions evoked by those thoughts are random, unique that do not speak to our natures. Our thoughts and our identities, and other attachments are illusions. So, when we think, when we use our minds to perceive reality, we are actually unaware and we are not conscious. Our minds provide us with interpretations of our experiences and those thoughts are a source of suffering.

I spend a lot of time lost in thought so much so that at times I find myself in the middle of conversations or in situations in which I have no idea what is going on. I also base a lot of my idea of who I am and where I am going on what I have done and where I have been as if that determines what I am capable of and where I can go. This has been a source of suffering for me, and it wasn’t until I forgave myself for things I did or did not do and gave myself permission to move on that I have been able to open myself up to other possibilities for myself. So the idea of “unclutching” and becoming aware resonates with me. It feels like liberation.

Since I have begun to practice being present, I am suddenly more open to the unknown because now everything is unknown. I am committed to doing everything as if it is the first time because this prepares me for other new situations and experiences. I commute to work using the same route, but I look at things differently each time. I concentrate on my five senses to keep myself out of my own thoughts, and when I find myself thinking about other things, I gently remind myself to concentrate on the sounds, scents, sights, and textures around me. When I do this, I experience things differently, and I am much more relaxed and I feel happier.

This has not only transformed my perception of daily experiences, but it has also altered my perception of the future. For example, for several years, I have wanted to work with my mother in her non-profit organization. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from my time spent there and I love it there, and I’m drawn to it. When I think about the prospect of working there, I feel blissful. However, I did not trust it because it was my mother’s thing. So I ignored my desire to pursue that path. I believed it was my inner child seeking approval from my mother. I did not trust it. However, once I ignored those thoughts that were tied to my past and opened my heart to the idea, I realized that working with my mother was in alignment with my path, and I no longer doubted the motivation behind my desire to work at my mother’s organization.

I also changed my perspective of the situation. Once I adopted the idea that “Everything is possible for me,” I realized that all paths were open, I just needed to choose one. I also realized that choosing one path could lead me to something beyond my expectations. I read about desires in Living Enlightenment and Nithyananda explains that true desires do not evoke anxiety. One does not feel anxious about one’s desires. True desires are in alignment with our paths, and therefore everything we do every choice we make will lead us to our desires. I’ve meditated on that idea, and I realize that what is attracting me to the prospect of working with my mother may be leading me to something beyond that perceived goal.

Although I am compelled to work with my mother, there may be something else I am meant to do and that working with my mother and the steps I must take to prepare myself for that possibility will reveal something else of which I am not aware. At this point, I am trusting my higher self. I am trusting that the part of me that is pure energy and that is connected to something bigger than myself is leading me in the direction I am meant to go. This is a decision based on faith, and I am exhilarated by it.

So now despite the fear that I might be doing the wrong thing, I move forward taking a new direction. As I move down this path, I am committed to keeping an open mind, unclutching and remaining present. Although I have a history with my mother, I will approach every encounter as if I am seeing her for the first time. I will acknowledge any emotions that arise as I embark on this leg of my journey while staying true to my decision to approach this with a learner’s mind. I am excited to see what this reveals.

May you find your path, and if you are on your path, may you find bliss there.

178

Unexpected but not bad

So, I got the ball rolling on my dream, the next step in my journey which will eventually take me out of Japan and back to my home state. I’m excited about it, and it looks like our original plan to leave Japan in two years is back on. However, now the next step is clear; whereas just days ago, it was just a possibility, a dream undeclared. So, I have a lot of work to do, and two years in which to do it. I’m interested to see what new talents I will uncover. I have a feeling this will also reveal my weaknesses as well. It’s a good thing I have the tools I need to meet any challenge I might face. And so it begins. More to come.

May you have every opportunity to challenge yourself and stretch yourself to new and exciting limits.

Day 175

Short but Sweet

Busy week! Taught a special summer course for our Intensive English program–one 14 week semester condensed into one week! It was a blast, but exhausting. I don’t know how 9-5ers do it. Anyway, the most important lesson I learned this week was that it all comes out in the wash. What I mean is that there were some upsets this week as well as missteps on my part, but when all was said and done, it was a great week. Something I read in “Living Enlightenment” resonates with me today, and that is with pain, especially emotional pain, we hold onto the things that hurt us or we felt were negative. I am guilty of that, and this week, I tried to hold on to the positive. I am holding onto my students smiles and laughter, and the looks of pride on their faces when they finished their final project for the week. I’m holding on to the banter and warm conversations with my fellow teachers. I’m holding on to the feeling of belonging I have come away with tonight. Life’s too short to hold on to the negative bits. I’d rather take the good thank you!

May you have a lot of brilliant bits to hold on to this week and for all the weeks to come!