When I Was Crazy

new reality

“I am finally at a point where I am grateful and honored to have been part of his growth and healing,” I shared with my spiritual partner one day. We were discussing relationship endings, ego, and how we view relationship changes.

“What gave you that clarity?”, she asked.

“No thing. Just realized I finally have it,” I answered.  Like what happens with most incomplete truths, I felt in my whole self that I was not being fully aware or honest about this part of my process.

You see, I used to be insane…

“In no way can I deny the insanity of the human condition. And yet, because there’s so much insanity, so much unconsciousness, it’s possible that there’s also the other side of it. Life is always balancing itself out. So, while all of this is happening, there’s also this undercurrent of people all over the place who have a deep and profound interest in the ultimate nature of reality in themselves—and they are realizing it! …I do think that in our deepest heart we don’t actually want to contribute to the insanity around us. Our nature is, if anything, to be a contributor to sanity and wholeness, to bringing that into manifestation.

Now from that place, we can have a very active response to the world rather than a reaction against it. A response is inherently positive; a reaction is inherently negative and divisive. A great thing about coming to our own wholeness is that it’s not as though we just sit on our couch and see that everything is perfect. We do see that everything is perfect—but from that sense of perfection arise great love, great compassion, and a great response to the life around us. It’s a response that is undivided. As a whole, as a world culture, if there is going to be a salvation, it’s going to have to come from the human heart being undivided. And to get there, we all have to wake up.”~ Adyashanti

“Actually, this is what changed: I realized that nothing has meaning unless I give it meaning.  I thought about all the relationships that had ended in my life, and how little I think about that. I have had people I care about return to my life. Others are no where to be found.  And I just accept that as what is. I can look at it and be happy for what was, but not dwell there.  What I had been doing is looking backwards at how the story did not play out as the story I would have told. When I look at what was, with no story, no meaning, I saw something totally different.  I saw what is true of every relationship: two people on their paths, who served each other as sources of growth and healing.  That is all,” I earnestly replied, feeling the wholeness in that insight.

When I was crazy, I tried to make things fit a story.  Some of the stories are things like “Marriage or commitment is forever”, “Love is enough (to keep a relationship strong)”, or “I need to be in a relationship with someone who is my equal”.  These are stories, that may reflect values at a point in time.  While values are one of the most enduring beliefs that the ego tells us to pay attention to, they are still stories and will ultimately crumble in the face of reality.  Because nothing is as real as what IS.

 

 

 

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3 Things That Happen When You Stop Believing Your Own Thoughts

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years”. – Byron Katie
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What happens if you stop believing your thoughts?

1. You stop feeding drama with thoughts and words

One of the first things I noticed when I stopped believing my thoughts was that I was no longer replaying painful scenarios in my head over and over. I wasn’t anticipating conversations with people and deciding how they should play out.

I found it was much easier to let go of my day. It became easier to be curious about things that happened in my life. I could ask how an event brought me closer to awakening. I stopped believing my story, which was usually told with all my conclusions rather than the observable experience.

2. You stop blaming or judging.

When I stopped believing my thoughts, I realized that right or wrong were also thoughts and beliefs. I could stop beating myself up for not living up to standards (thoughts) I held for myself. I could stop trying to be perfect – defined as always being right and honorable and loving.

Then I could stop judging others. I could look at the belief triggered by another instead of blaming the other. I might still be unable to go to their world but I didn’t need to judge, be angry or afraid of what they could take from me – like showing me I wasn’t perfect according to my definition – and therefore not deserving of love.

“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” – Byron Katie

3. You no longer suffer because you want something different than what is

The biggest source of suffering comes from resisting what is, and comparing it to what you wish. When you stop believing your thoughts, you stop creating an alternative to what is. You realize that what is happening is exactly as it should be, and it has always been this way.

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” – Byron Katie

The best part? You can relax. You don’t have to control everything and everyone. The universe becomes a loving place instead of a human version of Whack a Mole, with unexpected impossible challenges.

Little by little, you release a bit more and become more aligned with what’s true.

Spiritual Awareness and Adele

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Ok, the title is a stretch. I have been listening to Adele’s Hello, mostly because it’s played everywhere. I realized how great a lesson it is in egoic love, and in how beliefs shape everything. 

Hello, it’s me, I was wondering
If after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal, yeah
But I ain’t done much healing”

It initially sounds like the character voicing this is offering a chance for closure and maybe to make amends. With the line about not having healed, it’s clear that the  character voice is actually looking to have her/his own needs met. There is nothing wrong with that so far. But as the song progresses, it takes on a sense that the character voice is desperate: “It’s no secret, That the both of us are running out of time”.  Now we have moved into egoic love and a little bit of manipulation.  I am not sure I would take her/his calls either.

Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried 
To tell you I’m sorry, for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore”

Those lines blend wanting to make amends and support letting go with blame and resentment that the Other has been able to do what the character voice has not: heal, let go, move on.

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At the spiritual level, we also see how the character voice has constructed reality. She/he has believed things on behalf of the Other and is suffering because those beliefs are not real. She/he believed the Other was suffering, possibly as stuck as she/he is, and that maybe if they talked something would change. That “something” could be healing on the part of the character voice, or possibly there is a hope of getting back together. There is a feeling of being rejected – even after the character voice suggests she/he did the original breaking up and broke the Other’s heart.

If we need help realizing how our beliefs seperate us from what is, this song touches on that well.  The song is filled with the longing and grief and sadness that being separate from what is causes. The words reinforce that happiness depends on circumstances,  depends on Others  being as we wish them to be, and that our experience is the responsibility of someone else. (I love Adele even though her song lyrics are a celebration of codependency. Even Adele admits she doesn’t listen to her own music.)

I am grateful for this song. It became a mirror for me this week. I became aware that I am happy as I am. Totally happily, contentedly loved as I am today in many, many forms. Because happiness comes from being with what is. There is no circumstance that defines my happiness. My happiness is with me.

Thanks Adele.

It’s just a story

Some stories stick with you. For me, there is a great Star Trek TNG  called Darmok. In this episode Picard is captured, then trapped on a planet with an alien captain who speaks a metaphorical language incompatible with the universal translator. They must learn to communicate with each other before a deadly planetary beast overwhelms them.
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Picard realizes that the Tamarians communicate by citing examples and metaphors derived from mythology and folklore, but without knowing the context with which to ground these metaphors, the chance for successful communication is slim.

This weekend, I went on a retreat focusing on tools for eliminating our beliefs as a lens through which we view reality. It is the lens of our beliefs that keeps us separate from each other and from experiencing reality as it is.

I have leaned on Byron Katie’s The Work for a few years now. I was pretty sure I knew how to use it. And then I did this workshop.

For a full day, I tore apart my stories. First, the easy ones – the ones I have incorporated into my day to day views of life. Then we hit a cherished belief. I believe in responsibility. I believe in responsibility as a foundational spiritual value. I had to challenge it. I held tightly and could not find space to let go of this value, even though it was causing me suffering when I believed it.

My facilitator said “OK here’s what arises for me. I suffer when I believe my own thoughts. If we are responsible, we have control. If we have control, wouldn’t we chose to always be present and kind and loving? Are we really responsible?”
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My ego broke open. Suddenly I saw how this belief kept me unhappy with myself, able to judge others, and apart from experiencing reality as it is. I can say control is an illusion but it became so apparent to me in that moment how beliefs completely create our experience. It is just like speaking in metaphors in the Star Trek episode.

And like that episode, we communicate best with others who share our metaphors and stories. We feel connected when a friend agrees and supports our story. We feel betrayed when someone we love moves into a different story than the one we shared.

I am not done processing the window into reality that opened when I saw that we do not control anything. We are not responsible. Things happen and we experience them. We move in directions based on what we value. Circumstances may make a certain experience more likely.

I can hardly wait to open the window into reality a bit wider.

Speaking Of Crazy

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Is she talking to a schizophrenic?

That was my first reaction when I read an interaction of a woman working with Byron Katie. If you are not accustomed to exploring and identifying underlying beliefs, the things that are surfaced in those conversations seem a bit…well…crazy.

The Work is simple.  And it works.  But, one consequence is that you see reality as it really is.  You begin to see that what was going on inside you was what was really crazy. Awakening invites us to live outside the context of the mind and to experience an entirely new way of being.

“As I began living my turnarounds, I noticed that I was everything I called you. You were merely my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me (this didn’t work, but only for 43 years), I can put the thoughts on paper, investigate them, turn them around, and find that I am the very thing I thought you were. In the moment I see you as selfish, I am selfish (deciding how you should be). In the moment I see you as unkind, I am unkind. If I believe you should stop waging war, I am waging war on you in my mind.”  —Byron Katie

The Work process is clear cut and easy to do.  It is so easy, there is an App for it.  You can do the work anywhere. The real key to it is the process of identifying and uncovering the beliefs that are shaping your view and experience of reality.

“Uncomfortable feelings are clear reminders that we’ve attached to something that may not be true for us. They are gifts that let us know it’s time to identify the stressful thoughts and do The Work.  Until you can see the enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. This doesn’t mean that you have to invite your enemy to dinner. Friendship is an internal experience. You may never see the person again, you may even divorce him or her, but as you think about the person, are you feeling stress or peace?  In my experience, it takes only one person to have a successful relationship, and that’s me. I like to say that I have the perfect marriage, and I can never know what kind of marriage my husband has.” —Byron Katie

Fighting against reality is the ultimate version of that quotation “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”  So what have I learned? I have done The Work on every difficult relationship I have – my mother, my father, my former partners, the annoying guy at work…and in all cases, I come back to the same thing I need to do: accept the person as they are, accept reality as it is, and stop struggling to make it different. I often hold the belief that if I were somehow different, the relationship with this person would be different.  They would turn in to the mother/father/lover/colleague that I always wanted them to be.  And this is a form of crazy.

It Is The Real World

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I followed her down the stairs from the yoga studio in which we had spent two days with a Tibetan Buddhist Lama and an Indigenous Elder. The message had been about how our mind was the cause of suffering, and the tools we had to release ourselves from that mind chatter. We had built a sense of community and love.

As we stepped outside, we were greeted by the filth and stench from the bar next door. She turned to me and said, “Ugh. Back to the real world.” And I watched her close and cave inwards.

I felt so sad for her. As many do after a retreat, she had separated out the experience we had as dependent on the Lama, the yoga studio, or being in community with like minded others.

I wanted to scream that nothing had changed in reality. I wanted her to know that she was creating reality in her mind. But I thought that if the Lama had not been enough for her to see that, my words would not help in this moment.

What I was truly grateful for was seeing my reality in contrast to hers. I was grateful for the compassion I felt for her. I was grateful for the little bit of awakening it represents.

And I am grateful that today, someone DID want my support in seeing reality for what it is.

Excuses, Take 2

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Yesterday my blog was about my pledge to release making excuses. So the universe checked to see if I meant it. 

In the afternoon,  I was pulled over for a ticket.  I felt anxious as the officer asked me why I did what I did. I lamely answered, trying to find an excuse.

As he entered my ticket into the system, I had time to calm down and reflect.  I decided to take responsibility for my driving. 

In that moment, I noticed a shift.  I moved from being anxious and ashamed to being at peace. I stopped identifying with being good or bad. I was experiencing a moment and it lined up with my earlier intention from the day. How brilliant and beautiful!

I also noticed how often I returned to obsessive thoughts and feelings about the ticket even after I paid it. I have needed to let it go several times. No wonder I have needed so much time to let go of relationships. But whether it’s the ticket or a lover, what I am letting go of is my identification with the beliefs I hold about the experience.  The experience of the ticket was done, over, paid for – and here I am still coming back to the feeling of shame. Not a bad exercise in seeing how unreal my thoughts are.