Tag Archives: feeling

Reaching Out For Compassion

Rabindranath Tagore embarrassment of compassion fills your eyes rain on we lucky spaces between potential and the real take my hand and walk togetherAt a weekend workshop I led, one of the participants, Marian, shared her story about the shame and guilt that had tortured her. Marian’s daughter Christy, in recovery for alcoholism, had asked her mother to join her in therapy. As their sessions unfolded, Christy revealed that she’d been sexually abused throughout her teen years by her stepfather, Marian’s second husband.

The words and revelations Marian heard that day pierced her heart. “You just slept through my whole adolescence!” her daughter had shouted. “I was being violated and had nowhere to turn! No one was there to take care of me!” Christy’s face was red; her hands clenched tight. “I was afraid to tell you then, and now I know why. You can’t handle the truth. You can’t handle me. You never could. I hate you!”

As she watched her daughter dissolve into heaving sobs, Marian knew that what she’d heard was true. She hadn’t been able to handle her daughter’s involvement with drugs, her clashes with teachers, or her truancy and suspensions from school, because she couldn’t handle anything about her own life.

At this point, compassion for herself was not only impossible, Marian was convinced it would have been wrong: the horror that Christy endured was her fault; she deserved to suffer.

We’ve all harmed others and felt as if we were bad because of our actions. When we, like Marian, face the truth that we’ve hurt others, sometimes severely, the feelings of guilt and shame can tear us apart. Even when the damage isn’t so great, some of us still feel undeserving of compassion or redemption.

At times like these, the only way to find compassion for ourselves is by reaching out to something larger than the self that feels so small and miserable. We might for instance take refuge by calling on the Buddha, Divine Mother, God, Jesus, Great Spirit, Shiva, or Allah – reaching towards a loving awareness that is great enough to offer comfort and safety to our broken being.

As a Catholic, Marian had found moments of deep peace and communion with a loving God. But, in her despair, she now felt alone in the universe. Sure, God existed, but she felt too sinful and wretched to reach out to him.

Fearing she might harm herself, Marian sought counsel from an elderly Jesuit priest she had known in college. After she’d wept and told him her story, he gently took one of her hands and began drawing a circle in the center of her palm. “This,” he said, “is where you are living. It’s painful—a place of kicking and screaming and deep, deep hurt. This place cannot be avoided, let it be.”

Then he covered her whole hand with his. “But, if you can, try also to remember this: there is a greatness, a wholeness that is the kingdom of God, and in this merciful space, your immediate life can unfold. This pain is held always in God’s love. As you know both the pain and the love, your wounds will heal.

Marian felt as if a great wave of compassion was pouring through the hands of the priest and gently bathing her, inviting her to surrender into its caring embrace. As she gave her desperation to it, she knew she was giving herself to the mercy of God. The more she let go, the more she felt held. Yes, she’d been blind and ignorant; she’d caused irreparable damage, but she wasn’t worthless, she wasn’t evil. Being held in the infinite compassion of God, she could find her way to her own heart.

Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance. The priest wasn’t advising Marian to ignore the pain or to deny that she’d failed her daughter, but to open her heart to the love that could begin the healing.

Now, rather than being locked inside her tormenting thoughts, Marian could remember the possibility of compassion. When remorse or self-hatred would arise, she would mentally say, “Please hold this pain.” When she felt her anguish as being held by God, she could face it without being ripped apart or wanting to destroy herself.

Two weeks later, when she and her daughter met again in therapy, Marian admitted to Christy – still acting cold – that she knew she’d failed her terribly. Then, gently and carefully taking her daughter’s hand, Marian drew a soft circle in the center of her palm, and whispered the same words the priest had whispered to her.

Upon hearing these words, Christy allowed herself be held, wept, and surrendered into the unexpected strength and sureness of her mother’s love. There was no way either of them could bypass the raw pain of yet unhealed wounds, but now they could heal together. By reaching out and feeling held in God’s mercy, Marian had discovered the compassion that could hold them both.

Whenever we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we too can begin to find room in our own heart for the fragments of our life, and for the lives of others. The suffering that might have seemed “too much” can now awaken us to the sweetness of compassion.

© Tara Brach

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Committing to Presence for the Sake of Love

 Romantic Heart from Love SeedsJeff was convinced he’d fallen out of love with his wife, Arlene, and that nothing could salvage their twenty-six-year marriage. He wanted relief from the oppressiveness of feeling continually judged and found wanting. Arlene, for her part, was hurt and angry because she felt Jeff avoided any real communication or emotional intimacy. As a last-ditch effort, she convinced him to attend a weekend workshop for couples sponsored by their church. Much to their surprise, they both left with a glimmer of hope for their future together. The message they took away was “Love is a decision.” Their guides at the workshop had insisted that while we don’t always feel loving, love is here should we choose to awaken it.

Yet, back at home, when their old styles of attacking and defending were triggered, deciding on love seemed like an ineffectual mental maneuver. Discouraged, Jeff sought me out for a counseling session. “I don’t know how to get from point A to point B,” he declared. “Like when we were together yesterday . . . my mind told me to decide on love, but that didn’t make a difference . . . my heart was in lockdown. Arlene was blaming me for something, and all I wanted to do was get away from her!”

“Let’s take another look at what happened yesterday,” I suggested, then invited him to close his eyes, put himself back into the situation, and let go of his notions of who was right or wrong. “Just let yourself experience what it’s like in your body to feel blamed and want to get away.” Jeff sat still, his face tightening into a grimace. “Keep allowing the feelings to be there,” I said, “and find out what unfolds.”

Gradually, his face softened. “Now I’m feeling stuck and sad,” he said. “We spend so much time caught in this. I withdraw, often without knowing it . . . that hurts her . . . she gets upset . . . then I very consciously want to get away. It’s sad to be so trapped.”

He looked up at me. I nodded with understanding. “What would it be like, Jeff, if instead of pulling away during this kind of encounter, you were able to let her know exactly what you were experiencing?” Then I added, “And if she, too, without accusing you of anything, were able to report on her feelings?”

“We’d have to know what we were feeling!” he said with a small laugh. “We’re usually too busy reacting.”

“Exactly!” I said. “You’d both have to be paying attention to what’s going on inside you. And that runs counter to our conditioning. When we’re emotionally stirred up, we’re lost in our stories about what’s happening, and caught in reflexive behaviors—like blaming the other person or finding a way to leave. That’s why we need to train ourselves to pay attention, so that we’re not at the mercy of our conditioning.”

I went on to explain how the practice of meditation cultivates our capacity for presence, for directly contacting our real, moment-to-moment experience. This gives us more inner space and creativity in responding—rather than reacting—to our circumstances. When I suggested that he and Arlene might consider coming to my weekly meditation class, he readily agreed. They were both there the following Wednesday night, and a month later, they attended a weekend meditation retreat I was leading.

Some weeks after the retreat, the three of us spoke briefly after class. Arlene said that thanks to their meditation practice, they were learning how to decide on love: “We have to choose presence with each other, over and over and over,” she told me. “We have to choose presence when we’re angry, presence when we aren’t in the mood to listen, presence when we’re alone and running the same old stories about how the other is wrong. Choosing presence is our way of opening our hearts.”

Jeff nodded his agreement. “I realized that it’s not about getting from point A to point B,” he said with a smile. “It’s about bringing a full presence to point A, to the life of this moment, no matter what’s going on. The rest unfolds from there.”

Taking refuge in presence—choosing presence—requires training. When “point A” is unpleasant, the last thing we want to do is to stay and feel our experience. Rather than entrusting ourselves to the waves of experience, we want to get away, lash out, numb ourselves, do anything but touch what’s real. Yet, as Jeff and Arlene were realizing, these types of false refuges keep us feeling small and defended.

As I explore in my upcoming course on cultivating more conscious, vibrant relationships, only by deepening our attention and letting life be just as it is can we find real intimacy with ourselves and others. In more than thirty-five years of teaching meditation, I’ve seen it help countless people to deepen their capacity for loving, because if we are able to stay present, we can decide on love, and give it the space and attention it needs to ignite fully. When you are next in a conflict with a dear one, your might inquire, “What would it mean to decide on love? Can I commit to deepening presence for the sake of love?” Just the inquiry will draw you closer to your heart.

© Tara Brach

Note: Coming soon  – an online course on cultivating more conscious, vibrant relationships.

Enjoy this talk on: The Dance of Relational Trance 

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Campaign Video Teaches Lessons in Empathy for War Torn Families

If you made a compilation video of one second of every day for a year, what would it look like? A campaign video to raise awareness of the political strife in Syria wanted to show you what it would look like for a child stuck in the middle of a war zone. It follows a little girl from blowing the candles out on her birthday cake to exactly one year later. She goes to school. She reads books. She hangs out with her parents. Then small things start to change and rapidly her one one second a day shows her being scared, being shuffled from place to place, her neighborhood being bombed, refugee camps and hospitals.

The tagline of the video is “Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening somewhere.” It’s an eerie message as the world watches the current situation unfolding between Ukraine and Russia. Will those children lead similar lives to the girl in this video? How many candles will they blow out on their next birthday cake? It is naive to think that any singular one of us can have an effect on those less fortunate than us or that we have the power to save all of those stuck in tumultuous political climates. We can’t save them, but what we can do – and are encouraged to do with videos like this – is look at ourselves and bring more empathy into our every day lives. When all of us start looking at our actions as having ripple effects then we create a more compassionate global community.

The world doesn’t change with one person but we can start making a small difference with one intent at a time. Thanks to this video I intend to live with more empathy. What can you do to make the world a more compassionate place?

Wordplay Wedneday: Looking for Love

Way of the heartI have been looking for you

I have searched for you in the kiss of a stranger

I have sought you in the eyes of my child

I thought you might be hidden in the arms of my mother

Or perhaps in the songs my father sang me to sleep.

I crumble in defeat

Wishing I could have found your comfort

But you elude me

Dodging me in my quest to conquer you, to hold you and claim you as mine once more

because you are waiting…

For me to stop thinking about you, to stop hunting you

Because the thoughts of a mind cannot give you your due

They cannot define you, because you are indescribable

What word could I possibly utter that would explain you. It’s all so limited and small against your expanse

And so you wait….

Until I go out of my mind and finally see that you have been here all along, behind the words of wisdom, underneath the fear and doubt. Love…

***

We spend every waking minute seeking ways to experience this feeling. I have no other word in my language but love to describe it, but it just does not do it justice. From the moment I emerged from the womb, I felt as if it was ripped from my soul. Sometimes so frantic to find it I would do anything to experience the warmth of it’s caress, the never ending expansiveness of it, the gift of wholeness it would bring, wreaking such havoc in my soul, risking all that I have thinking this time I will catch it.

But this is not something to catch, there is no mind trap I could conjure that would snare it. It is just here, right here. And only when I finally stop knowing the path, when I stop chasing it, and stand still will I feel it’s arms already wrapped around me.

***

Do you have a favorite or original poem you would like showcased on Wordplay Wednesday? We’d love to share it! Email the poem to editor@intent.com, and we will feature it in the series. Click here to view past Wordplay Wednesdays.

Find Out What You Want – Step #4

think

 “But how do you know that what you want is what you want? How do you know it is right? That it is what you want really?” he asked.

“Stop thinking about it,” I said, “stop your thoughts from making noise and you will hear yourself clearly.”

It is a body thing, a feeling, a sudden realization of an unquestionable fact. Until you begin to question it. Until you begin to analyze it, consider it, plan it, predict the consequences, make up the possible outcomes. In all this frantic activity of thought the simple certainty is lost and then … then you believe it has never been there in the first place.

It is not knowing what you want that is difficult – it is listening to it.

Allowing it.

Trusting it.

Click here for Find Out What You Want – Step #1

Teaching Others How To Treat You

Do you also believe that we teach others how to treat us? It is a motto I have religiously adhered to for most of my adult life. However, I must add that I have made some radical changes to my ‘teaching strategy’ over the years, and this change in my approach has brought me much inner peace and harmony with others. I have learned that we can ‘teach others’ with much less fuss and drama.

In my early adulthood I used to take a firm stand on just about everything and everyone who I felt were out of line. I am someone who often feels compelled to stand up for others, as well as for myself and my beliefs.

I also have this annoying habit of constantly wanting to side with the ‘underdog’ in any given situation. Like most empaths, I just cannot come to grips with any form of injustice or underhanded behavior. Circumstances that are unfair, dishonest or cruel really trouble me, and people who are unreasonable, inconsiderate or simply mean have always been one of my ‘pet peeves’.

 

Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others ~ David R. Hawkins

 

Apart from being an empath, the desire for justice and fairness also stems from my youth. The trouble started long before I was born. Not only did I enter this lifetime blessed with the psychic abilities of my ancestors, I was also one of the many ‘first wave’ Indigo children who arrived on our planet in the 60’s and 70’s. I was a gifted and very unusual child, growing up in an extremely conservative and conformist society. I carried a target on my forehead from my very first day in kindergarten.

I was bullied and ridiculed for most of my childhood and teenage years. South Africa under apartheid was not the most friendly place for anyone who dared to be different in any way. Bigotry, prejudice and intolerance was to be found around every corner and in all walks of life. If you were discovered to be out of the ordinary, or if you did not conform to the norm, you were not very welcome in the politically controlled and socially engineered world which I grew up in.

Thankfully all of this changed when I was coming of age. By the time they released Nelson Mandela from prison, I had also been personally liberated by means of a tertiary education and the inner strength that comes from surviving several traumatic life events, as well as a growing personal acceptance of my psychic legacy. I was now a young adult and along the way I had also discovered that I am more than able to take a stand and defend myself, and others, whenever I felt it necessary.

 

There’s much more in any given moment than we usually perceive, and we ourselves are much more than we usually perceive. When you know that, part of you can stand outside the drama of your life ~ Ram Dass

 

I certainly wasted no time exercising my new found personal freedom. I was very much inspired by the newly achieved democracy in my country and those who had fought for it. In my own way, I also had a voice now and I wanted to use it. It was important to me to put the ‘bad guys’ in their place. Mean, nasty behavior had to have consequences. Keeping my mouth shut or backing down was no longer an option. I was never going to return willingly to that psychological prison created by others’ small-mindedness. I was, after all, busy teaching the world how to treat me and I had a lot of catching up to do. I certainly was not going to take any prisoners.

Fortunately, we never stop learning and over the years I have come to realize that this ‘fight for your right’ approach offers very little spiritual fulfillment or lasting inner peace. I have in time discovered that it is mostly the weak who react in anger or frustration. It is the weak who constantly seeks justice or revenge. It is the weak who feels compelled to be tough and defiant.

Standing your ground is trivial and has very little to do with your inner strength. The truly enlightened and wise find their power in unconditional love. Who is right and who is wrong is spiritually insignificant. Truly powerful people seldom have any need for excessive self-defense or forcing their views upon others. It simply does not matter. Do you want to be right… or do you want to make a difference in the world?

 

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad ~ Eckhart Tolle

 

Instead of focusing on what others say or do or believe, turn your attention to your inner being. Focus on your own vibration. Work on feeling better about yourself and your life. Other people are not responsible for how you feel. If the words and actions of someone or something are currently determining your state of mind, or your self-esteem, it means that you have been giving away your power, and it is time for you to take it back.

You were born with the basic spiritual right to feel good and be happy. In fact, you have inherited a divine right to feel really great about yourself and your life. It is vital that we feel this way, because it empowers us to love others unconditionally. Once you feel happy and centered in your own being, it is so much easier to be kind and tolerant towards others.

Claiming your place in the sun and staying true to yourself does not have to involve any form of violent conviction, dogged persistence, foolish bravery or brute force. There is nothing that you have to prove to anyone. There is nobody that must be resisted or refuted or convinced by you at all cost. Not everything needs to be changed by you; everyone and everybody does not require your supervision or control. Your opinion is not always required. When you are in alignment with your higher self and your true life purpose, others can behave as they wish; you won’t even notice.

 

You are killing one another as you argue over whose way of life is the right way, when there is not one right way of life. There is just life…and you all get to choose the way. No one can threaten your way of life ~ Abraham-Hicks

 

When you are in that ‘zone ‘ it simply does not matter what other people say or do or think. What matters is how you respond to them. There are never any winners if there also has to be losers, no matter what the circumstance. Jesus referred to it as “turning the other cheek” and “doing unto others”; the Buddha talked of cultivating “a limitless heart” and the Prophet Muhammad encouraged the “conquest of self” and loving our “fellow-beings first”. It does not matter how one describes it. What matters is how ‘the zone’ makes you feel, and what it enables you to do in order to make the world a better place.

With this approach it becomes so much easier to ‘teach others’. You no longer have to deal with all the stress, drama and negative, destructive emotions. There is no longer any desire to be constantly affirmed or acknowledged by others. Gone are the regrets and the grudges. Conflict and arguments all but disappear from your life. It really does take two to tango and nobody enjoys dancing solo, especially if there is no music to dance to.

The results are amazing. When you respond to the mean, petty moments of others from within your ‘zone’, you will find that the guilty parties tend to apologize more often and more readily. When you’re true to yourself and aligned with the rest of the Universe, people actually become willing to listen and calmly consider your point of view. Even the really tough and deluded folks become a non-issue, because they will eventually give up and move on.

 

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich ~ Tao Te Ching

 

All of this may seem like a lot of hard work, but it does not have to be. Getting into the ‘zone’ is much easier than you may think. Deepak Chopra describes it as following the ‘Law of Least Effort’.  There are three components to this law, namely acceptance, responsibility and defenselessness, which he outlines in his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

Chopra explains that “acceptance simply means that you make a commitment: ‘Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances and events as they occur.’ This means you will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be”.

Responsibility means “not blaming anyone or anything for your situation, including yourself. This allows you the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now. All problems contain the seeds of opportunity, and this awareness allows you to take the moment and transform it to a better situation or thing.”

Finally, he describes the most important component of getting into the ‘zone’, namely becoming defenseless. He defines this process as “relinquishing the need to convince or persuade others of your point of view. If you relinquish this need you will in that relinquishment gain access to enormous amounts of energy that have been previously wasted”.

 

If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality – Abraham-Hicks

 

I also recommend three simple rules of thumb that I try to follow to help me stay in my ‘zone’. The first is to always pick your battles carefully and to let the Law of Karma take care of the rest. The second is to not buy into other people’s drama. The third is to recognize that you were never supposed to be anybody’s doormat, so don’t allow yourself to go down that slippery slope in the first place.

Does this mean that we should always remain silent when we are made victims, or look the other way when we see atrocities committed? Not at all. Nelson Mandela did not remain silent. Neither did Mahatma Ghandi. But they also came to the realization during the course of their lives that using force to convince others was not the best way to change the world. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, said Ghandi. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”, said Mandela.

It is not about remaining silent or avoiding reality. It is about remaining faithful to your feelings, beliefs and values, without having to force it upon others. Your life and the rest of the world can be changed without violence or drama or force. We don’t have to shout our personal slogans from rooftops. Mandela and Ghandi are two excellent examples of how to achieve personal peace, spiritual wisdom and harmony with others… and yet, they both managed to completely change the history of the world!

 

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

Now, I must admit, this alternative approach to ‘teaching others how to treat us’ remains a work in progress for me. I don’t always get it right in my moments of weakness. Some bullies just have the uncanny ability to drag you away from your ‘path of least resistance’ and, before you know it, you are completely out of your ‘zone’. On those occasions one tends to forget all your best intentions and give in to anger, hurt or frustration.

But it gets easier with practice and one does become stronger. And while I learn to let go more and more each day, I find comfort in the words of Jack Kornfield who once said that “a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully, to bring them to the transformative power of our heart”.

© 2011 Anthon St Maarten

Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Invocation from Saint Germain: on the Love within

Breathe into your heart, put forth the intention:

“I call forth my divine self, the truth within me and I place my intent in this moment to bring forth the fullness of the love within me, the love that surrounds me, the love that animates me.



I call forth that love to express through every cell, every atom, every breath, every thought, every feeling and every deed, for I am an embodiment of pure love. And as I focus each day of my life on that alone, all that is required flows into my life.



So it is and so be it.”



If you let it, this exercise will clean out the conditions of love that have been trained into you so you may freely love from a place of divinity.

 

Invocation from Saint Germain: on the Love within

Breathe into your heart, put forth the intention:

“I call forth my divine self, the truth within me and I place my intent in this moment to bring forth the fullness of the love within me, the love that surrounds me, the love that animates me.



I call forth that love to express through every cell, every atom, every breath, every thought, every feeling and every deed, for I am an embodiment of pure love. And as I focus each day of my life on that alone, all that is required flows into my life.



So it is and so be it.”



If you let it, this exercise will clean out the conditions of love that have been trained into you so you may freely love from a place of divinity.

 

The Tao of Instant Liberation (in Dating and Beyond)

This article is about how your perpetual happiness is pretty much in your hands right now. And I will state without proof that being a healthy, happy, optimistic person makes you more fun to be around. And that people who are fun to be around are just going to be more successful in the dating arena and beyond.

Let me start with a quick little story.

There’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while – a couple of decades, actually. And recently it just really hit me in a way that it never had before, and I want to share that realization with you.

(Bear with me as I go through some factoids that are potentially boring to non-basketball fans – it’s all to make a worthwhile point. Thanks 🙂
Let’s rewind to about twenty years ago. See, I used to be a big basketball fan. Of the Los Angeles Lakers, specifically. And those were the glory days – ‘Showtime’, as it was called.

You had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. You had James Worthy and Byron Scott. You had all these guys who were superstars in their own right, and they were all on the same team.

And then, you had the arch-enemy – the Boston Celtics. The ungainly (yet highly competent) Larry Bird and his cohorts. Man, did I despise them.

Now I haven’t had a TV for years, but sometimes when I’m out, a Lakers game is playing on the screen and I watch for a couple of minutes.

And even though I really don’t follow sports anymore, sometimes a twinge of the old fan-hood creeps in, and I want to root for ‘my team’.

But, now it’s different people on the team. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Oh wait, he left to play for another team. Two other teams, actually.

So every person on the team now is different from 20 years ago. Heck, one of them, Luke Walton, is the son of a former Celtic (Bill Walton).

The uniform is also different. It used to be purple and yellow, and now it’s just yellow. And they’re playing in a different arena now – the Staples Center, vs the old Forum.

And nobody on the team is really from Los Angeles. And if they were offered a better deal elsewhere, or got disenchanted with their situation here (like Mr O’Neal), they’ll skip out an go somewhere else.

So my question is: exactly which part of the Lakers is still the Lakers?

See, there used to be a time when the defeat or victory of ‘my team’ had a great effect on my psyche. I’d get elated when they won, and seriously bummed out when they lost.

But now I’m realizing that ‘my team’ did not really exist. The only thing that existed was a certain agreement I had made with myself to believe in this entity called ‘The Lakers.’

So I ask you this: how many illusory entities have you made contracts with to control your state of mind?

When you were a kid, you may have made a contract with Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. And woe betide them if they didn’t show up when they were supposed to.

But you grew out of those. Right? You don’t believe in that kind of fairy-tale stuff anymore. You’re an adult now.

Right?

Well, how about the last time you lost when playing a game? Did you get a little bummed out then?

Or maybe you were waiting for a raise, or promotion. And it didn’t come. How did you feel then?

Or maybe your pet did something bad. Or one of your relatives said something pointlessly nasty. Or you got left out of a party invitation. Or you lost your job. Or you got a parking ticket. How did you feel then?

Here’s what every one of these events have in common: not one of them has a way of plugging directly into the back of your brain to make you feel a certain way.

If you felt crappy, it’s because you consented to do so. You CHOSE to do so. Now for most of us, it may be an UNCONSCIOUS choice.

But it’s still a choice.

Here, try this on for size: Imagine that the cutest little 4yr old kid EVER just ran up to you – maybe it’s your own kid, or a niece or nephew. Someone you can’t help but make you smile. This kid is all smiles, and now hands you a hand-picked flower, and just beams. (For me, I imagine my 4yr old niece. I’d do anything for her, and the clever little tyke probably knows it.)

Notice how you go “awww”, and your heart just opens wide. Perhaps you’re even smiling now, and a certain sense of softness folds into your body.

That’s called opening your heart. It took about 30 seconds to do. And there was no kid really in front of you. You did it all through the power of imagination.

Well played.

This brings us to the utterly mundane yet utterly profound observation which is the crux of this article, and perhaps the crux of all Eastern wisdom and spiritual tradition.

Are you ready? Here it is:

As a human being, you have the unique gift of being able to think and feel independently of circumstance.

Most of the time, reality is a crutch. Sure, every once in a while a piano falls on your head, and man can that hurt.

But most of the time, the ‘problems’ that are ‘out there’ are manufactured by your own imagination.

In fact, all problems are problems of the imagination. And all solutions are solutions of the imagination.

In scientific terms, you possess the full manufacturing capability of the world’s largest legal drug factory at all times. It’s called your brain, and you can make happy juice, sad juice, thrilled juice, disappointed juice or any other kind of juice you want pretty much on demand.

My job is merely to remind you of that fact. So – remember! In fact, let’s do a fun little exercise right now.

A winning lottery ticket has no electrodes going to your brain to zap you into a state of delirious ecstasy. It’s just your imagination.

So feel free to grab a scrap of paper RIGHT NOW. And imagine that it’s got the winning lottery numbers on it. HOLY CRAP! YOU JUST WON 12 MILLION BUCKS!

(C’mon, play along. I promise it’ll be fun.)

Now imagine all the things you can do with that big stash of cash. Travel! Toys! Big home! Fancy cars! Do a little preview of all the excitement in your upcoming life.

And now realize that you have ALREADY won the lottery. It’s called being alive. (And having a roof over your head, clean dry clothes on your body, most limbs intact, a computer in front of you, and enough leisure time to ponder how you want to spend it.)

(Oh, and if your main concern is that you can’t score a date on a Friday night, you’re doing very, very well indeed.)

It’s called being alive and in control of your own mind. You win the lottery the instant that you realize that you have that power and start to use it actively.

Reality’s mostly a crutch. Asking it to conform to your particular wishes so you’ll be happy is just another way of saying you’re okay with being lazy and unimaginative. Which none of us are, of course.

When you take control of your imagination and CHOOSE to be happy and CHOOSE to have an open heart, it will be impossible for you to be lonely. Great companions will flock to you from far and wide and will never want to let you go.

Why? Because you become the catalyst for THEIR drug factory to make happy juices. They will be physiologically addicted to you. Who doesn’t want to be around someone who makes you feel great?

Be the factory. Be the force. Be the beacon, the fire that everyone wants to be around.

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