Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs
It’s been many months since I’ve written a blog, although I daily touch into the idea of doing it. But as I continue to ask myself what feel like the most important questions to ask and the answers don’t come back clear and authentic, then I don’t “do” anything I think I “should”. Or, as I’ve recently heard it said – I don’t “should” on myself!
The question I apply to any “have to” or “should” throughout a day is: Why am I “doing” this? and then, What is it I think I’ll achieve by “doing” this? Is this “doing” some natural, inner impulse, or is it yet one more attempt to in some way seek society’s approval?
So today I did indeed feel the impulse to write and to share what I’m experiencing because it feels like a natural expression of the part of me that likes to imagine supporting anyone else out there in discovering their own clarity, no matter what reasons the Man-Made-Mind comes up with to convince you that you’ve “failed” in the eyes of society. Can you join me in asking a courageous question and be willing to follow the answer to its end? *Again, as I ask these questions please know that this is me, speaking to me! And if any of this resonates with you, then we are exploring the same leg of the journey.
Why do you “do” what you do?
Aside from feeling the need to feed and clothe and shelter ourselves and our loved ones, has fulfilling the need to receive or achieve “kudos”, praise from anyone outside our self ever brought lasting peace? And, when we finally get the nod from the boss, or the praise from the parent, or the admiration from the colleague, how long does it last? Just about as much time as it takes for us to get in the car and drive home. And after our “celebration” dinner (or popcorn and Raisinets) we fall into bed and are most likely already beginning to believe Thoughts again – about how we will surely “fail” next time, and about how maybe this time was a fluke. Or, perhaps the Mind will be running images of how we’ve really “made” it now and then we start to imagine the upcoming scenarios and feel weary from all the pressure and expectation that is to come.
You see, The Mind will fixate again on how to keep the praise and the admiration. And it’s tough to hold onto those glorious moments we spend all of our energies trying to “get” if, down deep, we don’t feel worthy of them in the first place. Which is why we are still trying everything we can think of – endlessly, endlessly, endlessly – to keep the Kudos coming.
I invite you to really look at this fact. It’s how it goes. It’s what we do until we look closely at our limiting beliefs and ask, “Wait a minute. Is this even true?”
Why do you do any of the things you do?
Hans Hoffmann says, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the Unnecessary so that the Necessary may speak.” These days, I’m holding each of my beliefs up to the light to look for the “watermark”. It is indeed helping me to eliminate the unnecessary beliefs so that the necessary beliefs can surface – the beliefs that make sense to my soul, and the ones that don’t cause undue stress, but instead cause me to relax, expand, inspire, and connect with all of life in a much deeper way.
For example, let’s take one of the thoughts that likes to pass through The Mind, “I should be leading a more full, more adventuresome life,” – especially in a society that shows us how we should be driving fast in beautiful cars, with beautiful people, in beautiful, exciting places – all of the time – and if not doing that, dancing at night in clubs and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and if not doing that, traveling the world and walking across swinging rope bridges in jungles, or putting a flag into the snow at the top of a famous mountain peak, chumming along with strangers and speaking any number of languages over our shoulder with ease.
“I should be living a fuller, more adventuresome life”. When I explore the stressful Thought, “I should be living a fuller life,” I realize after a little investigation that a “full” life isn’t one that has me jet-setting the world or creating more projects than I can handle (or enjoy) or being a world-class chef for my family. Living a “full” life doesn’t have to look like public speaking to thousands or going to night school and working two jobs, and having friends over to dinner on the weekends if we have free time, and making sure that I say yes to every social engagement invitation or family event, but something more like this:
A Fuller, more Adventuresome Life, according to my own Truth is this: one that increases my capacity to give and to receive Love – and that capacity can be increased through a bout with cancer, or a divorce, or the death of a loved one, for all I know – which is the opposite of what our society has taught us. A Full life for me is one that includes giving support to those I love, and receiving support as well. Leading a Full, more Adventuresome Life is one that shows me through following my own heart that I discover what’s true for me, and through the realization of that, I show up for others in a way that is far less “selfish” than ever before, because I don’t have Unnecessary beliefs and concepts between me and them.
Is there anything more fully alive than true connection?
Have you ever yearned to be around friends or family but once at the potluck noticed that even when someone gave you warm hugs or warm words, they just simply didn’t go in? You got what you wanted, but your judgments about yourself or another didn’t allow the Goodness in anyway. You may have been believing a judging thought about yourself or the other person that prevented you from feeling connected, even as someone looked right into your eyes and said, “I haven’t seen your wonderful face in so long – it’s just great to see you!” Recognizing this degree of suffering caused by unexplored concepts is how we can make a first step into Freedom. You begin to realize that, in fact, no matter where you go – There You Are. The You that is allowing Itself to believe what the Mind is saying – not the True You!
The process I’m using for “investigation” or “deep questioning” is called The Work, by Byron Katie. I’ve explored many avenues for self-questioning and inner exploration, but this is one that continues to call to me because it is a tangible, easy formula that involves four questions, and what Byron Katie calls “turnarounds”. Here are some examples of Beliefs that might be questioned (along with my comments) and then, below, I will introduce you to The Work.
“I should be more successful.” Really? What does “success” even mean? What jerk came up with the global definition, anyway? GEEZ.
“I should help people more or be helping more people.” Really? How can I know what “help” even looks like for every single person I encounter? Can I really know that what I’m doing is actually “helping” them? I bet for most people I know, me “helping” them would be me staying in my own business, and letting them ask me for help!
“I should be able to do this on my own.” Really? Who said? Has anyone, anywhere, ever actually done it all by themselves? We were born into this world taking our first inhale dependent on the care and “help” of many people around us, and to this day, can’t even move left or right without being held up by many things made by other human beings, meant to “help” and support us – beds, chairs, tables, not to mention food planted, grown, harvested and packaged by others that we might feed our bodies.
“I should never appear weak or in need.” Really? We start out that way and we usually end up that way! What I’ve noticed is that acknowledging that we need help, or are experiencing a weak or fragile time gives many around us a chance to experience themselves as compassionate and caring and loving and kind and creative and courageous! And for some, it gives them a sense of connection and purpose that they may never have allowed before. “In need” or “helpless” benefits both the person “in need” AND the person “helping” when seen from the perspective of connection.
These are just some of the beliefs inherited from the Man-Made-Mind that I’ve tested out recently through The Work. If you are experiencing any degree of stressful thoughts or suffering (all suffering comes from Thought) I invite you to take a half-hour now, and watch one or all of the following clips. First, choose the one that calls to you for reasons known or unknown. Then, if you are new to the work and want more examples, visit the website at www.thework.com where you can watch many more videos, as well as download the free instructional worksheet and get started right away, testing your beliefs. If you have any questions, please feel free to call anyone at the Byron Katie Helpline who can lead you through The Work (http://www.thework.com/dothework.php) or feel free to write to me at email@example.com
I am a firm believer that if I want peace in the world, I have to start with my own mind. If I want others to be nice, to be kind and loving and compassionate, I have to look and see what thoughts or beliefs I hold that disallow me to be nice, to be kind, to be loving and compassionate. For now, this exploration and questioning is the best I can give to humanity, and this is leading the fullest, most adventuresome life I can imagine! What a success!
Life is Mostly Quiet
Believe me, you don’t have to know.
Not so much that you render yourself helpless.
Helpless in the face of what Life brings next.
So make peace with knowing very little.
About how life should be.
Make amends with how things are.
Not knowing a thing,
walk with gentle knees,
ready to drop to them, at any moment
that Life dictates it.
Keep an empty hand
so that it can be brought to your heart
when a grief arrives.
Make up a bed that you can fall into
as your own, comforting arms.
We come to find, that Life is mostly quiet.
It asks us to live by our Knowing, while
surrendering that very same thing.
It vibrates easily around us,
candid and benevolent.
You see, it’s only
when we root ourselves solid in some knowing again,
that Life seems to have to shout -
from Its whisper.
‘Life Is Mostly Quiet’ – Em Claire
©2008 – All Rights Reserved
Em Claire was born in Seattle, Washington in the United States, and was raised in the beautiful Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon, where she now lives. Twenty-three of her poems appear in the New York Times best seller When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Neale Donald Walsch, and her first full collection of poetry has just arrived in bookstores under the title Silent Sacred Holy Deepening Heart.www.EmClairePoet.com