Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Choices

Ever so often—more often than I’d like to admit—I’m reminded that “I’m not all that.” I’ve been on this spiritual journey as long as I can remember. There’ve been slips and stagnations—sometimes taking a decade or longer. But when I see the totality of how I viewed and participated in this thing we call Life ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, it becomes immediately obvious that I’ve grown spiritually and am a kinder and more understanding person.

Life no longer happens to me.

I am responsible for all events in my life.

There are lessons in each and ever one of them.

Even when it’s challenging to find gratitude, I find it.

Everything is okay.

I see my ego, most of the time, instead of being lost in it. Sometimes old habitual patterned responses based on fear, anger, or righteousness come storming out. And like a storm, the best thing to do is ride it out. However, these storms are getting shorter and less frequent. Sounds like a "good" thing to me. Yet there are time I feel temporarily out-of-control with a rant that just pours out of my mouth. This is quite humbling. Even as I've progressed along a spiritual path, vulnerable spots remain. Some of my "buttons" continue to trigger an automatic reaction.

A few months back at a training, students were asking the teacher numerous questions. There were questions that I had "already figured out and didn't want to waste my precious time with them." After all the opportunity to study with that particular teacher was a rare and valuable event. As my patience grew thin--masked with a calm exterior--I thought about how much "further along I was than these other people." During a break I shared this with Mike; telling him of my effort to be more tolerant of these less evolved (for lack of a better word) people. In his gentle manner Mike said, "Maybe you're not as far along as you thought." The simple fact that the classroom situation bothered me at all was very telling and humbling.

Yesterday I found my mouth exuding a mini-speech defending the idea that we all have a choice. Deep down I wanted acknowledgement for my own efforts to lead a fuller, happier, and more meaningful life. Anger reared its righteous head when someone said, "Life is just harder for other people." My list of struggles and obstacles swirled in my head. Like two burly men one-upping each other with scars from the fights they'd been in.

Typically I see Life as offering lessons and challenges to help us to grow as human beings. While ranting yesterday, I found my mind using words like struggles and obstacles. This is a habit from over ten years ago and rarely comes up anymore. But I was so sick of people making excuses for their Lives and complaining about how miserable they are. Then to point at me and say it's just easier, still brings out this immense ego that I thought was in better check. Awareness flew out the door and ego took over. One day later, I reflect on this conversation and realize that "I'm not all that." Humbled and knowing there is still so very much to learn.

Usually I would place these ideas in my private journal with pen and paper at my bedside, but something urged me to publicly blog these feelings instead. I'm not certain why, but would like to share with you that:

We all have lessons and challenges in Life; you are not alone.
You can complain about how tough yours are continue living that way.
Or you can take the lesson, say 'thank you', and move on.
It's a choice.

Your view of Life is a choice only you can make.
If you view Life as "out-to-get" you, you'll attract more obstacles and perhaps get stuck.
If you see Life as a friend, you'll attract lessons and flow through them faster.

You create your own Life.
When you say, "My Life is harder than yours," you are living in the past and allowing yourself to stay stuck and attract more suffering.
When you say, "My Life is what I make it," you release the past and start making choices today because you know these choices in thought, word, and deed determine your tomorrow.

How much do you want to suffer?
You can see Life as a struggle and fight it tooth and nail. As Tolle says, when you can't take the suffering anymore, you will change.
You can show gratitude now, live with conscious awareness, be completely honest about your own attachment, and take responsibility for everything that happens in your life--yes, everything.

Having a spiritual practice is essential for true happiness.
This practice can range from a daily silent walk in nature while admiring the beauty around you to studying and practicing the ideas from modern day spiritual leaders, such as Byron Katie.
Spirituality and religion are NOT the same thing.
Spirituality is a practice, not something you just read about.

My intention is that one day I'll be able to hear the complaints from anyone, regardless of their circumstances and how they might compare to mine, with an open and loving heart. That I can gently remind them Life is a Choice and then let it go.

Today I still feel steam rise when someone making a lot more money than I do whines to me about their financial situation--honestly I want to smack them upside the head!! Or when someone mourns over their tough childhood that was "better" than mine, I think "get over it already." So, I guess here's another lesson. One of those wonderful opportunities to grow spiritually. I might always want to smack 'em, but I'll willing to make a different choice.

"I'm not all that," I guess. But I'm willing to wake up every day and strive to live a richer, more understanding, and compassionate life. This will mean stop comparing my life to others when determining how much compassion I'm willing to give. Thanks for indulging me in this blog entry, as I honestly had no idea where it was going and now I feel as if the real lesson has just been uncovered.

Many Thanks,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

1 comment:

Darcy said...

Wow - a very powerful entry. I can absolutely identify with everything you wrote.

Sometimes when I feel frustrated that someone I love keeps complaining and suffering without taking any steps (perceivable by me) to get out of their situation, I realize that it's because I am taking too much responsibility for that person's life. It is a good affirmation to remember that you don't have to remove that person's suffering - that is their job! :) Most of the time listening and compassion are enough.

Reading Tolle, I have become more aware of my egoic foibles than ever! I am catching my ego taking over during conversations when I, too, gossip (speak ill about other people that aren't present), judge, criticize, become impatient, feel superior or inferior, feel overconfident or shy. It's so difficult to remember that none of that (and my ego is massive, I'm sad to admit!) is truly me.

But it is a relief, once I stop and uncover it.

Thank you for your beautiful post! XO Much love,