I believe Awakening to ourselves sometimes involves exploring the worst parts of ourselves. At the higher end there is a freedom, an “enlightenment”. At the lower end there is a psychosis, a hellish imprisonment.
Psychosis is a clinical term that basically means pure chaos. “The king of all monsters”. It’s the worst parts of Fear, Shame, and Anger, all coming out at once. But I just capitalized those qualities. I’m referring to their archetypes. Fear in it’s sharpest, most extreme state. Shame in it’s cruelest depths. And Anger at its brutalist. This is the state of psychosis.
Why bother to mention this (you might ask)? In presence practice we need to accept all parts of our being, even this.
Parents. Serious conversation.
We need to get clear about the responsibility of parenting.
If I hear another parent pathologize their 4 year old’s personality and difficult behavior(s) I’m going to loose it.
I get it. Kids aren’t socialized.
They bite, and hit, and steal, and are defiant about it.
These little miracles that we love more than anything are also at times quite awful.
They trigger the living hell out of us.
We get so angry at them. Yes we do.
I realized a long time ago the moment I get super angry with my child, is the exact moment I need to teach them.
They don’t understand the basic things that most people do and take for granted. How infuriating. 🤨
WE HAVE TO TEACH THEM EVERYTHING.
DON’T LET THEM TURN IN TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T LIKE.
Flinging yogurt around the kitchen.
Ok, not cool, does the 2 year old know that??
No, 2 year old just being a 2 year old. Dad, you’re up.
“Rosey. We don’t fling yogurt sweetheart. It makes a big mess and wastes the food. Can you please help dad clean up?”
TEACH THEM. REPEAT.
If they are defiant, show them you are serious through whatever discipline feels right. Timeouts are good, show them you are in charge and mean business. Learn how they learn, they look up to you. Use the parent child hierarchy. It’s there for a good reason.
They don’t understand anything but their impulses.
RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH THEM THESE BASIC SOCAL SKILLS IS COMPLETELY ON US PARENTS.
DO NOT BLAME YOUR KIDS.
THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY.
I hate to say this but there is an epidemic of lazy, blameful parents out there. Unbelievable.
Splintering off, blaming, outsourcing, or just ignoring the challenges your child brings in to the world is one of the most half-hearted, awful, and tragic things I can think of.
If this is at all you, please turn it around.
You are the parent.
No one else really has a right to tell your kid what’s right and wrong, because of that there’s an urgency that you step up to the plate and parent well.
That means moving towards the difficult behaviors your kid is dishing out, and being clear about how to correct it.
“We don’t yell, we use an inside voice unless there is an emergency.”
“We don’t hit, we use our words and respect other’s body’s.”
“We don’t steal, we take turns and share.”
“We don’t leave a mess, we clean up.”
The patience required to repeat these lessons, and talk to our children in a calm matter is no small feat, but it’s required.
This is the job of a parent.
We are responsible for teaching them everything. It’s pretty serious work.
Please step up and do it.
Many people that know me well recognize that I got in to counseling because I lost a close family member.
Grief can slam in to us like a truck.
An otherwise safe and well buttoned up reality comes apart at the seams.
Tragedy so overwhelming it doesn’t fit in any of your categories. Grief that seriously impacts your functioning. Splintering your psyche.
The big thing with grief is it attacks our sense of meaning. It cuts at the very heart of our understanding of the world. When this happens KNOW IT’S GOOD TO GET HELP!
There’s a formula to get through this kind of grief. It’s not easy, but if you do it, you’re psyche will become integrated and you’ll successfully process your grief.
1). Get professional support, or the dedication of someone you trust to help you through wholeheartedly. Psychodynamic issues can constipate emotion, you need to start a journey inside of yourself. You will be different when it’s done.
2). Realize the quickest way out is directly through. Through you complex and overwhelming emotions, directly facing your darkest thoughts and moods about this loss.
3). Learn the grief stages. This is your general blueprint through. Shock/denial. Bargaining. Anger. Depression. Acceptance/Making new meaning.
4). Begin seriously encountering yourself. Associate more to your experience. Intensify your experience. Inventory what you are thinking/feeling, and with support experience it directly, in detail.
5). Breathe with your emotions, feel them fully but if you can don’t let them own you. Let them flow, don’t damn them up. Process, be detailed but try not to hold on. Breathe in and out, allow whatever you feel. There’s no wrong answer except denial. Repeat.
6). Recognize the heart has its own schedule and everyone grieves differently, efficiency is being fully with your experience and telling the truth. It’s ok whatever comes up.
7). After some time be open to finding new meaning. You must be open to learning some new stuff, at the end you will recognize the power of a new worldview. It will help you live again. It will help you find some meaning amidst the loss.
It’s pretty important to understand this spectrum when undertaking growth work. You need to understand your zone of optimal frustration. Not enough challenge and you become complacent, too much challenge and you will become overwhelmed - on either end little to no growth will occur. Find your optimal frustration and growth will get optimized.
When I travel to cool places it occurs to me sometimes to ask why certain buildings command so much awe. That struck me when I saw the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, and also when contemplating the Pyramids in Egypt. What if they were monuments to the cosmic duty we have in this lifetime? What if they were monuments to the path of aligning our humanity? Symbols to the answers to life's deepest questions. These comparisons are not literal suggestions, but the parallels seem more than a coincidence to me...
This is an image that has been in my mind for about 10 years. It’s loosely based on the hero’s journey. A professor at Naropa presented to us in my undergrad program. As I’ve worked with clients for the last ten years, it’s affirmed a sense I already had encountering my own problems and growth. These four cycles apply to any domain of human life. The edges of our journey. These cycles are multi-faceted and don’t necessarily apply to one sense of time. One could go through all of them in a matter of minutes, or see the four cycles over the arch of your entire life. Knowing the laws of how we are all designed, the architecture of what we need to go through to integrate all parts of our psyche (or soul), has been immeasurably useful for me personally and also for the people I have had the pleasure of explaining this to. When I’m stuck, it’s helpful to know I should look for a way to fight (to enter in to the next phase). When I hear the call or need for new growth, I prepare myself for the fear, and other feelings that need to come up while I take the journey. I’ll also calm myself down when feeling attached to any sense of heaven, or paradise I’m missing. These cycles are all supposed to come and go, wanting or not wanting to be in any of them is a refusal of how I believe we are truly designed. We’re all constantly going around the circle all the time, like it or not. They say getting off this cycle of “karma”, truly, not as a delusion of grandeur, is enlightenment. Something I believe is in potential, but hardly common or likely for most of us. Millions of successful turnings around this wheel need to occur before we can even begin to consider that. I hope in your lifetime you can make a few.
Use the same eyes of compassion you have for your child, with your own hurts and struggles, and also with the obnoxiousness and shittyness of others. Bring in and offer a finer quality, instead of adding to the mess.
Can you please point me to the exit?
Um, there isn’t one, and that’s good news…
Where is that ‘state’ that is the end all be all in terms of dealing with the struggle of human life? The exit.
In money, and love, and sex, and certainly in spirituality there is one right? An exit. Have we even bothered to question this presumption? I’d argue this presumption drives many of our actions. So let’s explore this…
We need our teachers, our models, the guides that point us to a better way. We don’t exist well in isolation, and learning is relational. There’s of course the big teachers that spawned religions Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad - but also countless others offering tangible wisdom from their realizations and successes, respective spiritual traditions, other esoteric and non-esoteric circles.
Even now, it’s been my experience that every so often I’ll meet someone who has an incredible ease of being, some powerful sense of aliveness and alignment, consistent benevolence in their behavior and speech. I want to be around these people, they are intriguing, inspiring, a joy.
However there is a big fallacy I’d like to name. Not with condescension and charge, more like a shadow aspect I feel is important to talk about. The big “IT”.
I’ve spent time with some incredible people. Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hahn, Jack Kornfield, Echkart Tolle, Ken Wilber, A. H. Almaas, Father Thomas Keating, Byron Katie, Reggie Ray, Ram Dass, many many other spiritual leaders.
A few of my friends are millionaires, I’ve met sexual masters, physical yoga and nutrition masters, teachers who were masters of their psychology, teachers who were masters of their heart, people who had mastery in their body.
People who have built great businesses, people with amazing long term relationships or marriages. Many many incredible people.
One thing has remained constant. None of them are infallible.
None of them are perfect. None of them, despite having sometimes flawless public personas, are always happy. And none of these people can absolutely demonstrate that they have found an exit. An end all be all state of consciousness where they can park for the rest of their life and live in bliss.
And there’s the fallacy, why do we humans put all our hopes in to finding such an exit? As if that’s what we’ll need to finally relax.
Whether it’s money, or spirit, or sex or love, 99.99% of us believe there is some ending we can reach where, for the love of Christ, we won’t be bothered with the burden of living a human life anymore.
Oops. We’ve been duped again.
I think as human beings we strategize much if not the whole of our existence around that basic aim. Under the assumption that a permanent exit from our struggle exists. Have we questioned this? Or are we unconsciously organized behind this presumption?
There are moments of peace and fulfillment to be sure, and of course the practice of presence, which is an ongoing thing, not an end state, but none of that releases us forever and ever...
So therein lies what’s cool. Consider what I’m saying, do I have a point? If yes, can you accept more of your your struggle? Can you catch when you believe you are on your way to an exit? Can you catch when you want an exit? I’d invite you to feel what happens when you let this go. Sense your body. Dissolve some of your ideals. Is there more freedom without this presumption?
Ideals fuck us up. And this is definitely one of the bigger ones. What if we replace this ideal with something simpler, what about learning to be more human? Learning to be more objective and accepting of what we really are, flaws and all.
I’m pretty sure that’s actually the ultimate art, learning how to be more vulnerable, more accepting of our imperfections, finding an easier way of being via accepting our human species.
There is no end state that you, or I, or anyone we know is going to be able to realize which is going to permanently free us from our struggle.
And if the day comes where that person truly comes, I am sure the whole world will hear about them. So no need to keep looking.
The most helpful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with have always discussed how to make life more graceful, simple, and inclusive of what’s true. How to meet our humanness with more wisdom.
I say all this with the intention of doing one thing. To poke with a needle this swelling mass of pressure we place on ourselves while existing, and certainly while in the public eye to be perfect. Cut it out, be you, and defend it.
I certainly haven’t mastered what we’re talking about, but aspire to this vision. For me, life’s about that.
Once we learn to stop being in competition with each other, and instead focus internally to master ourselves, we’ll find a whole new world of resources. No drinking of cool-aide required, just you.
Teachers, models, guides are great, and I very much think they still have a role. However our superiority/inferiority relationship to them also has to go.
Guides can transmit a kind of clarity and alignment which acts as a compass towards our values. Getting caught in the trap that our guides somehow have something we don’t, is what Robert Bly refers to as “giving away our golden shadow “. It’s going to keep you in the apprentice mindset, away from your power and true confidence. What you admire in the teacher, you already have in yourself. And guess what, all your guides have struggles you can barely imagine, trust me they do.
Let’s stop getting caught in this trap. It’s really great news to see that there is no exit. Because if there’s no way out, that forces us to come to terms with being here. Dealing with ourselves and each other as we are. And in that I believe it’s possible to regularly find relief, and occasionally moments of deep fulfillment.
K, I said it, take care.
Relationships, we must learn to go beyond infatuation. Most of us need to learn to be human beings, not just get therapy. Learn to be human beings, we don’t know really how to do that...
The spiritual method can easily bypass this, although an authentic spiritual teaching has value beyond measure.
The idea is both horizontal (functioning) and vertical (depth) development are valued and worked on thoroughly.
We are consciousness learning to live a human life.
It’s not easy, but there’s always food to eat. Precisely what you are experiencing in this moment is exactly the food you need to eat to be the person you want to be, and live the life you want to live. There is no need to reject what you are experiencing. Become conscious of it, explore it, understand it!
This is an unending adventure. You have never experienced this moment before, or this one, really! Open fully to yourself right now! As often as you can!
What great news!