Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “Thought”

What’s Your Story?

We all have stories. Stories are what we believe to be true and what we tell others about our lives. Rumi says… “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” I find it interesting that he does not say, “unfold your own story,” or even, “unfold your own truth,” but “unfold your own myth.”

I was listening to an NPR podcast the other day and they were interviewing Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about stories that really struck me. He revealed that he was beaten as a child. Apparently he shared that truth with some kids when he was doing a talk in order that they might relate to him… to understand that even if you have a troubled youth, you can still turn your life around. The point he was making on the podcast was that he had consciously chosen not to perpetuate that story… that he worked hard to create a new story that he had shared with the world. Until that time, and only for the very specific purpose of relating to those kids, he had chosen not to share that story of himself and his life and to share and communicate a new story… one of empowerment and strength rather than victim hood and struggle.

Sometimes I think we get very caught up in what’s “true.” Reality, if you will. But what that realization illuminated for me is that we can choose to focus on other parts of our lives that are just as true and real without perpetuating the parts of our story that do not foster our own growth and development as a human being. Now, I am not advocating for a life of lies. I am not implying that everyone should wake up tomorrow pretending that their past is non-existent and acting as if the sky is green. I’m simply saying that we all have choices. Choice about what to share… what to focus on.. what to pay attention to on a daily basis. In any given day, there are as many, if not more, positive occurrences as negative… so why in the world do we feel so inclined, when asked how we’re doing, to list the 2-5 things that have gone wrong in the day? I know it’s not just me who does this because I walk around hearing of everyone’s issues on a regular basis. I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m just recognizing that we are very much hard-wired to focus on our negative story instead of perpetuating the positive aspects of our day and lives. I’d say we can’t help it… but that might be seen as taking on a bit of victim mentality, no?

What is your story? How do you feel when you tell your story? Does your story focus on the amazing, wonderful events that have shaped your life… or does you get caught up in the negative, difficult details? Do share your story!

Love and light!  ~Rashel

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Non Striving… huh?

I was reading a little bit about Zen principles and one theme of Zen is that of non striving. I get it in theory. Yes, I’ve heard and recited to others the notion that we are exactly where we are supposed to be for our evolution and growth. Yes, I’ve told myself in times of uncertainty that all things are as they should be. I’ve even professed to myself and others that all things happen for a reason. However, and this is a very big however, the idea of not striving for something different? something more… something better… something – at the next level of what currently exists… NO WAY. I can’t imagine it. Wouldn’t that mean that I had no passion? Wouldn’t that mean that I was lazy… depressed… detached from life?

It makes me think of Byron Katie‘s work… which she so happens to refer to as, “The Work.” When I read her book, Loving What Is… it really shifted my perception of life. I often ask myself, when I’m feeling upset, indignant, or unhappy with what currently lies before me… can I really know that this is not exactly what is supposed to be happening for my ultimate spiritual growth right now? I mean, bad things happen to everyone. There is not one single person that you can name who hasn’t experienced hardship of some kind… and if you think you know someone… I invite you to dig a little deeper!  It makes me think of the analogy of the pearl… the rough sand is required to rub against the pearl to shine it into the beautiful gem that we have come to know and love. Without the scratchy, rough friction, the pearl would never be transformed into a beautiful gem…. and the true fulfillment of its greatest nature.

So, lets say that we are accepting the current state of our lives. We are, potentially, accepting and loving what is. (And I’m not saying that this is my current state… just the state that I aspire to)… Where does non-striving come into play? If I maintain a state of non striving, does that mean that I am succumbing to the current state and will never move beyond my current situation? I believe this is one of those quirky life paradoxes where instead of being either/or… the reality is both/and… I am BOTH succumbing to the current state AND moving beyond my current situation.

Here is what I believe, even if I have not been able to fully embody the truth that is set forth. The more we can get ridiculously excited about our current state… the more we invite events and situations into our life that are worth getting excited about. And on the flip side… the more that we focus on, talk about, and commiserate about the hardships, setbacks and irritations in our current state, the more we invite similar negative experiences into our lives. It is such a simple and straightforward concept to talk about… and so very difficult to enact. Even believing, as I do, that this concept is 100% accurate… I still find myself complaining, and commiserating with others. It is human nature, I suppose, to pay attention to the potential negativity and issues that could prove problematic. What I hope is that we can teach ourselves to move past this initial reaction, and as Byron Katie’s work suggests, we could question ourselves into a place of greater awareness and utmost content.

One last thing I want to address… does non striving mean not doing anything? NO. Non striving means not beating yourself up for not being other than you are in this very moment. It does not mean that you do not continue to act and think and believe in greater days ahead. The biggest discrepancy between non striving and where I feel that I am today, is that I do not spend enough time honoring my current state. Non striving involves much more appreciation of what is… of where you are currently on your journey… of what you’ve accomplished to date! I’m sure there is much more to learn about non striving… but I’m going to take a moment to be content with what I have learned thus far… and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on my own journey to non striving!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Meditation According to Me…

I wouldn’t exactly say that I am an expert on meditation… just that I’ve dabbled. I’ve taken some meditation classes and read some books and lots of articles. I have also practiced meditating. But… to say that I am an expert… well… how do you know, really? I can’t cite the history and evolution of meditation… which seems to be a sure sign of expertise. I can, however, tell you what I think about this interesting practice from my own perspective, which is what I’d like to do now.

When I was first introduced to meditation, it was for stress relief. Unfortunately, the act of trying to meditate can actually be stressful. At least, it is when you think there’s a “right” way to do it. The thing I’ve learned over time is that I can set myself up for a successful meditation ’til I’m blue in the face, and sometimes I will drop right into a state of peace and other times it will elude me completely – even if things are seemingly the same on the outside. I’ve come to realize that, at least for me, part of the process is the discipline of attempting to quiet my mind, regardless of how quiet it actually gets or how well it goes. When I took a 7-week mindfulness meditation class, the consistency of attending class weekly and the daily commitment to practice for at least 30 minutes had a huge effect on my mental, emotional and physical self. The regularity of the practice, regardless of how “effective” or “correctly” I did each individual session, had a profound impact.

Here is what I think to be the key to meditation… showing up. We run on autopilot every single day. We are constantly thinking of what has passed and what is to come… and rarely spend much time in this moment. When we attempt to quiet our minds, what we find is that this small task is almost impossible… at first. We sit down and get quiet… and then our monkey mind goes wild! “Is this right?” “Am I supposed to feel something?” “How do I know if it’s working?” “How long has it been?” “How will I know when it’s over?” Has it been enough time?” … and that’s just the first 30 seconds of the practice!

I was reading a book by Marshall Goldsmith where he talks about active listening. He gives an exercise to help you build your active listening capability… but I actually think this is a great exercise in mindfulness. Close your eyes and count to 50 with one simple goal – don’t let another thought intrude into your mind. Concentrate on maintaining the count. Marshall goes on to explain, “This may sound like a concentration test, but it’s really a listening exercise. After all, if you can’t listen to yourself (someone you presumably like and respect) as you count to fifty, how will you ever be able to listen to another person?” I LOVE that! The 50 count exercise, as well as the attempt at meditation for beginners, shows us how distracting is our own internal chatter. So, if you want to try this yourself, close your eyes and start counting to 50. If a thought enters your mind, simply take note that a thought has entered… turn your attention back to your breath… and begin again.

So, this begs the question, am I actually meditating or am I just noticing the copious amounts of internal chatter? YES! I believe that noticing the internal chatter… and more to the point… recognizing that at our essence, we are not the internal chatter, but rather, we are the one who notices the internal chatter, is at the heart of meditation. Meditation is a noticing of the mental mind by the soul. As we begin to show up regularly, and we take the time to separate from the internal chatter… to notice and release… notice and release… we will begin to gain more moments of quiet. And if we can take it one step further… we begin to appreciate that all the internal chatter that fills our auto-pilot world, most moments of every single day, is just thought… thought made up mostly of unconscious beliefs that run like a broken record in our minds. We can begin to separate from those thoughts and start to appreciate the potential recognition of self as separate from thoughts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… the first step is to simply set aside some time to be still… to be quiet… to notice your thoughts and to recognize that you are separate from your thoughts… you are the one who notices your thoughts. Let go of judgement… release all expectations of what meditation is or looks like… open to the possibility that becoming a better listener of yourself can be good for both you and the world! Let me know what you think!!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Aligning conscious beliefs with reality

I really do believe that our thoughts create our reality. I also believe that our external reality is a mirror of our internal state-our thoughts and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. That said… I am still trying to explain and rationalize my experiences over the last two weeks. I got really sick – mentioned that last week. But here’s the thing… it kept going! I was forgetting things, got a parking ticket, had a platter shatter inexplicably in my hands, causing a severe gash in my left finger, forgot my work badge, causing lots of extra signing in and tracking down keys to my desk… it actually goes on, but I’ll spare you the drama! The point is… what happened? I don’t really  believe that things are random. Maybe I needed to learn something? But here’s the more important question… if I believe that my thoughts create my reality and that I have the power to alter the material world by how I perceive and take in the events in my everyday life… which I do… then why haven’t I had the ability over the last couple weeks to shift my reality from pesky negativity to joyous bliss? OK… that may be a little extreme. We can’t have joyous bliss all the time… can we? It is interesting when you listen to the latest gurus on manifesting and creating your reality… there is definitely a yay side and a nay side… one side says you can create all that you want – it’s easy if you let it be easy – relax and allow… the other side acknowledges that tough times exist and are specifically in our life to teach us – therefore we should welcome the hardship as a lesson and allow ourselves to be taught by the experience.

Well… I’m still coughing, exhausted most of the time, my finger hurts and my life feels generally chaotic and messy. I’m trying to bring my conscious awareness to what I am grateful for in each moment, rather than what I am frustrated with. For example, I’m glad my entire finger did not get sliced off… just a portion thereof. I’m glad my parking ticket was from a private group, which apparently charges less than the city of Walnut Creek when doling out the fines. But somehow, these attempts at glass half full are falling short of having any actual impact on the overall gist of my days. In general, I realize that my life is good. Great, in fact. And yet… there is that part of me that wants no friction… no interference with all things aligned and well… a part that wants bliss and nothing less! And of course, the ability to manifest this perfection at will. Too much to ask? I don’t know… doesn’t it seem like some people posses this ability? The ones that have fortune handed to them with the slightest effort on their part. You know what I mean! Then again, maybe that is just because we’re not seeing what is going on behind the scenes.

Alas, I will probably never write an actual book because it seems like all I ever do in this blog is talk about all the things I have questions about and never any answers! I like to complain about the fact that I’m doing all the work and not getting any of the results. That is not actually true, if I’m honest. I do see results and have noticed great progress in my life in how I communicate and work with others. Also, in how I view the world and expect positive outcomes for myself and others. I guess that’s why this little hiccup is causing me such a stir. I’m feeling off my game and I don’t like… no sir, I don’t like it one bit! I guess my quest over the next few weeks will be to notice what shifts my momentum.. because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that “this too shall pass” and I would do well to learn as much as I can from this part so I’m ready for the next go-round.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re able to relate. If you’d like to share some of your own journey with beliefs vs. reality, I’d love to hear. Wishing you laughter and joy in each and every moment – never hurts to put it out there!!!  ~Rashel

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