just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
May, 2015

Exploring Purpose and Motivation

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015


How often do you sit in the wonder of your purpose? What’s this all about? What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? No doubt, thousands of books have been written on this. Thousands of people make a living at giving motivational seminars. The answers to these questions seem to change throughout the course of a lifetime, much like the colors and textures of a leaf moving through the seasons of spring to fall. While there’s no definitive here, when I explore this question today I’m drawn to ‘awareness’. I’m here to develop awareness to the intricacies and workings of life. Perhaps my greatest awareness is to the suffering caused from growing negative emotion and thought. It seems that when I can let go this negative and just hold a sense of peace and balance through life’s challenges, then I’m meeting this purpose. Awareness practices help me to better come to know what alleviates the growing of negative emotion and thought. I better see what brings a sense of freedom from suspending the pull of what’s bringing me down.

The negative emotions and thoughts generally come from a perspective of ‘dissatisfaction’. Things aren’t the way I want them; I wish they were different; This feeling of restlessness hurts. The main negative emotion here seems to be fear. The antidote is to release the restlessness. Awareness practices aim to strengthen our skills at noticing these pain suffering attachments. They help us come home to the present moment’s experience with a fresh experience. This practice is not the same as attachment to a belief system that asks us to ignore the suffering in life. On the contrary, it grows our capacity to meet others in their suffering, deepening our sensitivity to the complexities of being born, living within these mortal bodies, and facing the surrender of these bodies. It’s hard to face death without fear. It’s hard to go through life without succumbing to greed, to thinking we need more and more and more. Without awareness practice these emotions can take over our life. We can reach the end of our time in these bodies wondering why we didn’t wake up to the precious nature of life. Why didn’t we do the work to gain sensitivity to the harm caused from our negative emotions? Why didn’t we develop a more disciplined practice to let go fear, greed, and the illusion that we’re separate, struggling for our own egocentric benefit? Why weren’t we more practiced at driving our words and actions from love rather than carelessly causing harm from our lack of intention/attention?

Every spiritual tradition, at its core, says we’re here to love one another. Sounds easy, but in reality, this is the most difficult challenge of all. It doesn’t just happen. Certainly we have different degrees of challenge given our basic make up and experience. Yet, no one escapes the challenges of releasing negative emotions and thoughts. The older I get, the more respect I have for these practices and their impact on quality of life.

These practices bring us more and more to a perspective of ‘no complaint, no complaint’. We tend to speak less and listen actively. With awareness training the purpose is to go deeper in understanding, even with our enemies. These practices are based on faith, direct personal experience, and a deep appreciation for the opportunity to participate in life, no matter what. This training gives us great respect for the necessity of a ‘reset’ when the negative is growing. So how can we reset when doubt, fear, greed, and a sense of small belonging seem to grow beyond our ability to let them go? The answer is to ‘let go’. Surrender these to sleep, meditation, and forgiveness/gratitude practices. Isn’t it ironic that the way to ‘wake up’ is to ‘go to sleep’? It’s one of the most effective ways to stop the momentum of negative thought and feeling.

So what are you doing to ‘wake up’? What daily practices do you engage in to deepen your awareness? Can you explore this from the elements of body, mind and spirit? What thoughts have you attached to that could be holding you back from freedom? If you had a meter that measured negative, neutral and positive thought, what would your day look like? What would your life look like? These are the questions I’m now taken with in the fall season of life.

The ‘Practice’ of Letting Go Negative Emotion

Saturday, May 9th, 2015


An emotion can grow a thousand thoughts. A thought driven from a well watered negative emotion can lead to messy actions. The greatest spiritual wisdom advises us to water the seeds of positive emotion, and at least, do what we can to not water the seeds of negative emotion. This is extremely difficult work since it’s of human nature to carry a mind of ‘dis-satisfactoriness’. Our restless minds are continually moving from the gift of the present to wishing things to be as they were, as we hope they’ll be, or conversely, wishing things hadn’t happened in the past or fearful of what’s coming. Negative emotions like anger and anxiety, when attached to and grown, seldom lead to good result. We can’t deny them when they come up. We can just get better at identifying them and doing the work to let them go before they build momentum that causes harm.

Some people are presupposed to a more joyful nature. Or perhaps they were raised in an environment that promoted gratitude and stewardship. Others of us need to do a lot more work on identification and letting go. I think we all want to feel good or at least, to not feel bad. Yet, we do so many harmful things to our body/mind when negative emotion runs amuck. So we have to look at what motivates us to feel better. Do we really want to do the work to break the momentum of negative emotion? Our excusing mind has all kinds of reasons for not doing the work, just like we excuse ourselves from the need to ‘practice’ other skills. Yet, this is a lifelong skill development that comes from continuously working to identify and then release negative emotion. When things don’t go as we expected, what do we do? How do we react? If we’ve been practicing we can honestly give thanks for how everything is working out, no matter what. If we haven’t, it’s all too easy to develop a hurt, victim mentality.

This is all the more clear as we age. Things change. Physical skills diminish and we gradually start loosing our sensory/perceptual performance. Our work is to meet each moment new. Our practice is to better identify disappointment, let it go, and do what we can with gratitude practice. There’s no mandate to water the seeds of positive emotion, but it sure helps in the process of letting go negative emotion.

I don’t think I’ve met many, if any, people who don’t continually fight the battle of ‘not enough’. We’re grasping for the glamour of one day holding a sense of static peace. Some think they’ll get this when they die. Others think they can achieve it with extreme spiritual practice. Unfortunately, many still believe they’ll get this with massive material accumulation. Yet, the restless mind never lays down. We’re forever challenged to identify those negative emotions and thoughts as they arise. Our suffering from them is contingent upon our practice at identifying them and letting them go before they build too much attention. This is what real mindfulness practice is about. It doesn’t matter what your religious belief. If the emotion is negative it won’t serve you or us. With faith, we’re motivated to cultivate equanimity, kindness and love for one another. Are we truly following the mandate of, “Be still and know I’m God”? Our full faith and confidence in a Big Hope, with the felt emotion of gratitude for what ‘is’, leads to a noble life, here and now. This is touching real peace. This is touching the Ultimate. This is real practice, coming up moment by moment.