And what the hell are we doing here anyway? Who Am I? Is the ultimate existential question. It’s the bedrock of self-inquiry and spiritual practice that launched my journey. It’s the question that confounds the mind and which only…
Much is being made of today’s date, 11-11-11. Elevens are not new to me, since for the past four to five years I’ve been seeing them all over the place – on digital clocks, parking spaces, hotel rooms I’m randomly assigned, phone numbers – you name it. I normally wake up at least once each night and it’s almost always at 2:11 or 3:11 or 1:22 or – you get the idea. I see 11’s when I glance at the digital clock on my iPhone, in my car, or on my alarm clock far more often as a percentage of the total times I look at the clock per hour than is normal, considering there are sixty numerals that could appear.
You can read more about the 11 phenomenon here, but for now suffice it to say today is as good a day as any, and probably a better day than most, for this post.
My last post expressed an unexpected but potent ethereal longing for a return to source – the place both beyond and from which our known world emanates. Today I’m inspired to express a longing quite the opposite, and hopefully, to inspire it in you.
There are times we all want to escape the day-to-day reality of our three dimensional experience, but most of these times are not a soul’s longing for source. Most of our escape fantasies are the result of a disconnect from the here and now rather than a deep connect with spirit. Most desires to opt-out occur because at the moment we have them, we’re not really living. We’re just going through the motions, killing time before we die. Many are, in fact, already dead and just don’t know it.
So before you really do die, I want you to really live.
Ask Yourself: When Do I Feel Most Alive?
“Really living” is a relative term, of course, meaning different things to different people. For the cyber-junkie spending 12 hours a day in front of a screen, “really living” might mean having a social face-to-face interaction with a live human being that does not involve technology. To the workaholic, it could mean an afternoon spent playing with the kids. To the busy mom, continually fulfilling her family’s needs often at the expense of her own, it might mean a spa day or a night out with friends.
But what if “really living” were as easy and uncomplicated as deciding, every day, to actually DO the simple things that bring you joy – like taking a walk on the beach or spending an hour reading at your favorite coffee shop – that we all excuse away because there are constant, seemingly greater demands staring us in the face? And to not do these things as a means of procrastination (that’s easy enough) but to consciously include them in our lives as a way to remain connected to our happiness? How often do you dream about those little nurturing moments and never get around to them?
(If you’re struggling with that, my new Seven Simple Steps Into Happiness guidebook can help. It’s free. Download it at right)
In my own case, I’ve learned to stop
The truth in life is that we probably have countless brushes with death every day that we never know about. Just crossing a busy city street or shuttling the kids to school, one careless driver more or less at exactly the right moment and your number could be up.
There’s nothing, however, like a violently turbulent flight to make you think maybe, finally, despite the overwhelming odds against crashing, this is really it.
Today I had that flight.
It was a routine Delta jaunt from West Palm Beach Florida (my home airport) to New York City for one of the seminars I teach there several times a year; routine for Delta, routine for me. I hadn’t clued in much to the weather other than to know it would be rainy in New York and to select the most appropriate coat to bring.
About half way through the two-and-a-half hour flight, we hit
It’s the end of the journey through another year, December in the northern hemisphere where I live. I love this month not for the holiday lights, shorter days and colder weather, but because things slow down for once. Largely thanks…
In any process of learning, growth or change, it’s terribly easy to get caught up in the illusion that you’re becoming “more”.
We send ourselves to school to get titles and degrees – to acquire knowledge and develop the intellect. We comb the far corners of the world to explore, see or experience more. We strive in our jobs and careers in order to become richer, promoted faster, or accredited and known in the process. We save and scheme and plan for a bigger house or more luxurious car, to live in a better neighborhood, or to send our kids to superior schools. Elite athletes train to break records, celebrities vie for more time in the spotlight and press than their peers, and politicians must outdo their opponents in fund-raising and face time to even get in the game.
Such is the metaphor for success in the modern world: climb, rise, move up, escalate, soar, transcend. Most days it feels like if you’re not advancing, you might as well not even get out of bed.
This is a serious pitfall for any seeker, because
There inevitably comes a time on any journey when you question everything you know. Everything.
First, there’s the healthy questioning of what you were taught growing up. By this I mean the belief systems you were conditioned with — the result of religions, cultures, schools, races, rules, or even simply your generation. This is normal and natural since as we mature, our direct experience either does or does not align with these beliefs to support them and as the world changes, such beliefs either do or do not stand the test of time.
When direct experience doesn’t align or worse yet, is wildly contradictory to what we were taught, we realize such beliefs are someone else’s truth (or possibly even a complete lie) rather than our own. Most of us learn to trust our direct experience instead and build on that.
A personal life philosophy can work well for a while. Our seeking, searching, and questioning will eventually lead to answers, and direct experience will usually support our new found beliefs based on those answers. Until one day it doesn’t. That’s when you might arrive at a deeper, scarier, lonlier level of questioning.
I’m talking about that level of questioning. Yeah, the level you get to when you think, “What if all this I now believe to be true actually isn’t?”
In other words, “What I’m wrong? What if I think I have it all figured out and I don’t? What if it’s all wrong? What if what I now hold dear that made sense five minutes ago is all hocus?”
The following brief parable emailed to me by a friend brought this up:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Today, I hate the human experience. Today I curse the day I decided to take form in this body, live this life. Why? What possessed me to come and do this now? Again?
I want to disappear. Vaporize into pure spirit. Go back to the before. I want to float out of my body and drift weightlessly, boundlessly free of the emotions that surge through it.
I desperately want to unite with the all-encompassing bliss I was lucky enough, once – just once – to feel after a weekend spiritual retreat. The warming, flooding perfect joy that shuts out all else; that is pure love, or God, or whatever you choose to call it. I want THAT again. Now. But it eludes me.
Today after my husband finds fault with me yet again after I feel I’ve tried so hard to change I feel like giving up. Today after my business isn’t where I want it to be after six years I feel like throwing in the towel. Today after yelling