A Battle for Peace


***The following audio clip is a complete reading of “A Battle for Peace”.  This is something new I am trying, to offer an alternative to reading, please comment and let me know what you think.***


The other day I had a Facebook interaction with an old friend, concerning a conspiracy theory being pushed around the internet waves.  There are so many battles being waged between mankind. Conservative v/s Liberal, Black v/s White, gun control v/s no gun control, Radical v/s the world, privileged v/s non-privileged, parent v/s kid, good v/s evil. There really is no end to the list, it is a world in Chaos.  As we went back and forth, the most intense battle that was occurring, was the struggle inside of me and the thoughts that rushed through my mind (meditation is good). dscf0137At that point it occurred to me that there is only one true battle that can be won, that can offer long-term peace. That is the internal battle for peace, peace of mind.

The human animal is a funny breed.  We are a creature of habit, we tend to fight the same battles, chase the same desires, deflect the same fears, ( all similar at their root), yet we continue to fight them …over… and over again.  It is a cycle that has existed since we joined the world community.  With this understanding, during this moment of clarity, I realized that to fight the external is a lesson in long-term futility, it was unbelievably liberating.  Mankind has fought many battles over our existence here on Earth, and of course history illustrates the pinnacle of battle in the form of war.  Yet based on our habitual nature, they are all very small, insignificant victories.  As has been observed in our very short span of time on this planet, particularly, the 10000 or so years of “civilization” (1 millionth of a blink of an eye in universal time) so many wars have been waged, so many civilizations have grown and fallen, and the cycle happens again and again.  Do we experience varied times of “peace” on the planet as a result?  Somewhat I suppose, but as observed, the cycle, the battle, will soon start again.

dsc_0516I thought to myself, why? Why do we not learn from our mistakes, why do we not recognize this habit, or better stated, why can we not seem to break the cycle?  At that point, the experiences I’ve had with observing my own microcosm within, through self observation between my internal self and interaction with external catalyst, offered a clarity I had only experienced in the depths of meditation.  I realized that the reason the cycle cannot be broken, is that we externalize our problems.  We look for the external source of our issues, and find ways to battle those issues, in an effort to find some sort of peace (Whether it be peace amongst a people, the peace in the security one finds through power, the peace one finds through wealth and prosperity), regardless, it is not a lasting peace.  No matter the outcome of those benefiting from “winning” the battle, “winning” the war, it will never offer long-term peace, and eventually the cycle will happen once again.

Once I was able to get my arms around this thought, I must tell you, it was as if a giant rock had fallen off my shoulders.  Even with the wisdom and practice I have cultivated in this lifetime, I still externalize many of the agitations that go on in my life. Considering the advent of technology and access to information and interaction with so many external forces, it’s a daunting task not to.dsc_0872  So, with the understanding that, there is really very little that I can do (externally) to keep the cycle from happening again, it was as if I let go of all the ambitions I had for making the world a better place.  I let go of the “battle” I was having with the chaos in this world.  I let go of all the expectations I had for our kind to do “better”!  The external “small battles” I had “won” in the past that offered a glimmer of hope, a moment of achievement, a feeling of “peace”, they were all short-term victories that offered the illusion of accomplishment and the incentive to keep up the fight. Yet with this new understanding,  I was able to let go of the fight!  (Sounds so anti-climactic…but give me a minute).

You see, to externalize an issue, to find fault and definition to the chaos in the world, to the chaos in your life, is a futile battle.  As long as I, as we, externalize the issues, the issues will happen over and over again.  It is our nature, and it has very deep roots.  We may find small moments of peace, but they cannot last, as long as we have external expectations, look to external sources for cause.   For,there is only one true battle, at least one true battle that can be won, that can offer long-term peace, it is the internal battle within oneself.dsc_0884  The battle to find inner peace amongst the chaos, the battle to take personal responsibility for your agitation, the battle to recognize that you are a creature of habit, and only you can overcome the habits that cause the agitation within, the reaction to the external forces, for it is this habit of reaction that is the source of your agitation, not the external force.  Let go of all those external expectations, those perceived external issues. This is the only true path to finding peace within and ultimately the only true path towards world peace.

Does this mean give up on your cause?  Of course not, just give up on the external battle.  Your cause does not need to be a battle, it should be a way of living.  Yet if you feel agitation, remember, the battle is within.  I do hope for lasting world peace one day, but there is only one place that can ever be achieved…..from within.

dsc_0430May you find the wisdom within to let go of all your fears.  May you find the light within and share it with all that cross your path. And…May you find the truth within to guide you towards true peace, true happiness and may you offer this gift to the world.

I offer you all the greatest gift I can give…..and that is LOVE.

How Heavy Do You Travel?


Summer_rentalHow Heavy Do You Travel?

Have you ever seen that Corona commercial, where the couple is sitting on a pair of chaise lounges, enjoying a nice, relaxing day at the beach, with nothing but a chair and an ice cold corona with lime.  Cue the family walking by, lugging all sort of beach stuff around, the guy looking stressed and disorganized.  I’ve always found that commercial amusing. Well, its a fitting segway for today’s little muse.

I was having a discussion not too long ago, with someone about, well, stress.  You see, she had a plethora of things going on in her life  and was struggling with it all.  Through this journey, I have come to see life a little differently and went on to describe my observation.  The point I expressed went something like this.  This body of ours is like a piece of luggage.  Throughout life, we pack all of the things we mentally give importance to, and hold onto throughout our lives.  So you might say, its a mind full of baggage.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Emotional Baggage PosterThese are the things that define our “self”. (yes the image is one sided, but you get the picture.)

Yet, it is our essence, our soul, whatever word you want to give it… that energy that nourishes and gives life to the “self”, who carries the burden of dragging that luggage along life’s path. To take it one step further, it is also this same energy that has the ability to choose what and what not to pack in this piece of luggage. To choose just how heavy to travel.

I left for a work trip to Las Vegas this past week. The trip out was, well let’s say, not smooth. The first leg was to Phoenix, AZ. While waiting in the terminal, a major storm came through, and this of course delayed the flight. As I waited, I observed many of the conversations going on, as well as the faces of those sitting around me. The drama, the despair, the outright depression being passed throughout those weary halls of the terminal. Many of the discussions going on, could have been deemed a duel of the greater hardships going on in their lives and the acute nature of how inconvenienced they were by this terrible disaster of a wait.

big baggage

As the afternoon turned to evening, the plane for which we were to board was found to have mechanical issues. Oh my, now the drama, despair and depression had turned into down right chaos, as if armageddon was upon us. The faces of terror created a new landscape for the zombie apocolypse and its subsequent transformation of normal human beings into a frantic crowd of flesh eating zombies preparing for attack on those whose unfortunate job it was to keep the peace for the airline. I had visions of the lovely airline desk attendant turning into a giant, bone crushing, Ogre as she was continually attacked by these brain sucking zombies.

Irrationality was being spewed, all around. The duels of hardship were becoming so lengthy and orated with such detail. The spectrum of drama touching all range of social interaction with life…. such misery! All, undoubtedly, in the quest for reaffirmation of this misery and sympathy for its plight. Ah, such a funny animal, human kind. Always in the quest for happiness, yet we fill this luggage of ours with such misery, and we hold onto it.Just like a closet full of old clothes and treasures”.

closet  So, cleaning out one’s closet to get rid of those old clothes, those great “treasures”,  takes great effort.   To let loose of those material things is a drama in itself, one might say a great tragedy!  Yet once gone, it is gone, likely never to be thought of again.

Was it the scenario of being held over late that caused this misery to unfold for all of these wandering, weary travelers?  I would say not.  I would say it was just an opportunity to unzip, open up and show each other the baggage they carry around with them. To compare and contrast, to compete, to justify and affirm, to search for favor, and to ultimately give purpose to that oh so precious self.  lugging

This whole experience opened up an opportunity for me to take an objective look at myself. To survey the baggage contained, in this great piece of luggage so graciously bestowed upon me, in this life of mine. You see, I came to realize, just like a piece of luggage, I choose what baggage I keep in the luggage. When preparing for life, just like preparing for a trip, I choose what thoughts to hold onto, just like I choose what items I “need” for my trip. In life, each experience elicits a particular flow of thoughts. The thoughts for which I give importance, that I hold onto, are the thoughts that become my baggage. Those I do not hold onto, that I do not give importance to, pass by and don’t weigh down my luggage. Sometimes I give importance to certain thoughts, and have the ability to let them go.  Just like packing for a trip and thinking I need four pairs of shoes, then coming to the realization that I would rather travel lighter and pack two.

So, really, it is my baggage that defines me.  For, the only difference between me and the brain sucking zombies that came out in that fateful night in June, is the baggage of my mind that I drag around in this luggage of a body, through those weary halls of the airport terminal.

baloons

I have learned to let go and not give importance to those thoughts that flow through my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, the thoughts are there, but I choose not to hold onto them.  I choose not to give them importance.  I choose not to pack so heavy and ultimately, I choose not to give in to that misery.

I wish you all the greatest of happiness in your lives and the ability to lighten your load, to not pack so heavy, to let go of some of that baggage. May you and all living things be peaceful,  be happy and….well…just be!

Trying Your Hardest…An Epiphany !


trying hardThe other day I was sitting with my daughter, helping her with her homework.  Earlier in the day I had received and email from her teacher, letting me know about some of the struggles she had been having in class.  The comment that struck the largest chord, was that when working by herself, she would have difficulty focusing on her work and act as if she could not do it, but when the teacher would work one on one with her, she had no problem.  Ugg, my goal for my job as a dad, was to cultivate an independent, self thinking little lady!  The irony.  Well, so I had to come up with something that would “encourage” her to start doing her work independently.

Of course, at first, I was grilling her on the importance of being able to do things for herself and giving examples of when she did start doing various tasks on her own…i.e. walking, talking, taking a shower and so on, how proud she felt and expressed so. That, of course, elicited the glaze over in the eyes and eventually a rolling to go along with it. I had to do a reset and think.  I thought to myself, the teacher mentioned that when she was working alone, she was having issues staying focused.  Hmm, so instead of giving her encouragement and motivational talks, i would give her a specific task.  “Try your hardest,” I said (wow, I just made the world shake…right…ha).  I went on, “Try your hardest to focus on  every little movement, every little thought, every little part of the task at hand.  In this case, it was writing her name and a sentence, with proper placement of letters, proper punctuation, proper sizing and so on.  So, each letter, for example, I would tell her to “try your hardest” on each part of the letter as she wrote it.  To “try your hardest” to pay attention each moment with each movement of the pencil.  I then told her to “try your hardest” to recognize when she was not “trying your hardest.”  Then when she recognized that she was getting off track, to take a deep breath and blow it out.

epiphanies

That moment, KABOOM, I had an epiphany!!!  It’s amazing how often wisdom comes out of my interaction with my daughter.  What I realized at that moment, was that “Trying your hardest” is a fantastic tool, a fantastic reminder for bringing oneself into the moment.  To bring oneself completely into focus.  Just this simple phrase can initiate ones ability to reset the mind, and focus on the task at hand.  Very much like we train ourselves in meditation, to keep the mind in the moment by staying focused on one point and noticing when the mind is no longer focused on that point and bringing it back.  The only difference being, this is a way to bring our focus back during our everyday experiences.  Regardless of what it is, making breakfast, doing a spreadsheet at work, talking with a client, doing homework with a child, or writing your letters….tell yourself, “try my hardest” at every aspect of the task.  I tried it after my epiphany, and it was amazing how quickly I was able to observe my mind getting off task, and when I told myself to “try my hardest”, that I got right back on task.

Really, its nothing you haven’t heard before.  My parents always used to tell me to try my hardest and do my best.  Of course, I probably got the glaze over my eyes with a subsequent roll, but the truth is, whether they knew it or not, there was wisdom in those words.  The problem was, my interpretation of the words and subsequent defensive reaction of, “I am trying my hardest!,” was based more on being obsessed with the outcome of whatever task I happened to be engaged or the fact that in all reality I had other things on my mind, other “tasks” that i would rather be doing.  Funny the struggle between parent and child!

wandering mindThis, as we all know, is the plague of the human mind, always wandering somewhere else, anywhere else, instead of being focused on what is going on right now!  It is the scourge of productivity!  It is the nemesis of a peaceful mind!  It is the creator of all stress and misery!  Yes, I know, a bit dramatic, but it is the truth!  For a mind that is in the moment, can never be stressed, can never be miserable, for it is in this state that it can process all that is necessary to make it through.  It is in this state, that the machine we all call our brain works at its highest efficiency with the least effort.  It is the state in which we can observe our true nature, our true self, the energy that exists beyond that which we call…I…me.

So, “try your hardest,”  it is nice reminder, a catch phrase if you will, a reset button, for bringing the focus back to the moment.  Just like my daughter, when writing her name, what exactly was trying her hardest?  Trying her hardest was to place attention to every part of the construction of writing her name.  From the grip on her pencil, to the placement of the pencil on the paper, to every movement of her hand while making each little line or curve, to the proper spelling of the word, to the orientation of which she would write it.  Who knew there was so much involved in writing a letter, let alone a word. Yet, ultimately, it was placing all focus on the task at hand, on the moment!

happy childSo I say to you, my faithful reader….go out…and challenge yourself to..”TRY YOUR HARDEST”..  Remind yourself, as you meander through your day, creating your masterpiece of life, to “Try Your Hardest” to focus on each and every moment of your creativity!  To “Try Your Hardest” to be aware of this gift we call life, and live it in its only reality, which is, moment to moment!  Of course, as is with anything, the more you “Try Your Hardest”….the easier it will become to find yourself being in the moment and living a happier….more peaceful….and more productive life.

I wish you all much happiness….much peace….and much success with this beautiful thing we all call life!!!

Wisdom in the Midst of a Loved One Lost


lossI was reminded today, of a conversation I had long ago, with a very wise individual I had the pleasure of knowing.  It was not too long after my father had passed.  The conversation had such an effect on the way I looked at his passing and life in general, that I thought I would share.

I lost my father not too long after high school.  We had a super tight relationship and I was devastated.  I remember experiencing some of the very deep miserable feelings one has during a time such as this.  One day a very wise friend sat down with me to talk, (i remember this like it was yesterday) really just about things, not necessarily my father.  We were talking about what my plans were for the future, how baseball was going, i was about to transfer schools and we talked about that a bit, and it went on for a while.  Then out of the blue…he stopped, closed his eyes, and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one positive thing?”  I was kind of taken back by this, but it was true and he continued, “you have all these wonderful things going on and in your life, and all I’ve heard was how you are worried, how you are scared, how they cause you problems and misery, how you are not too sure about this or that.”  I sat there silent for a few seconds and started to cry, and of course after a bit, then the conversation about my father ensued and it went on for a little while.  Then again out of the blue, he closed his eyes and said very calmly, “have you noticed during this entire conversation you haven’t said one thing about your father?”  I was confused and again taken back, and he continued, “everything you spoke of was how it affected you, how this has burdened you, how you don’t know what you are going to do, how it’s not fair to you.”  Of course he was right again.

Then he said to me, ” you have an awesome opportunity here, a great and beautiful opportunity.  Your father, although physically gone, lives in you, lives through you, and is given energy by you, whether it be positive or negative.”  I sat thinking and probably looking a bit confused. Then he went on, “every moment you sit feeling sorry for your self, every moment you are negative about the beautiful life you have… well, that flows through you to him, he feels your misery.  Yet, every moment you go out into the world, live your life, enjoy every moment, do your best, have success, work through difficulties, the energy flows the other way.  His energy flows through you, to enjoy the good times, and give you strength to work through the tough times.  To one day watch your children grow.  To see you live a happy life. To see your light shine and live through the love you spread to those around you.  This is your beautiful opportunity, to live a beautiful life, so that he may live through you and your beautiful life…”

Man, such powerful words, such true words.  So, I say to you, if you are going through this sort of time, you have an opportunity here.  A beautiful opportunity.  Make the most of it, not only for yourself, but for all of those around you that you love, and of course, for that loved one that lives within you…that lives through you.

I wish much happiness and peace to you all.

28 Day Meditation Challenge


Hello out there, to all of you engaged in the experiment and to those not as well!  Someone passed along a Facebook link to a 28 Day Meditation Challenge.  So many folks spend so much time making an effort to better their bodies through some sort of physical exercise challenge (especially during this time of the year) , how about putting some energy towards a mental exercise challenge.  Give it a try, it can”t hurt!  If you have any questions about meditation, feel free to contact me or leave a response on this post.  The link is as follows.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/28DayMeditationChallenge

Much Peace and Happiness to you all.

So you wanna know about meditation….eh??


ImageLast week I wrote about an experience I had during meditation, and of course this produced a couple of messages asking about meditation.  What technique I practiced?  How does one get the same experience I described?  Is there one meditation better than the other?  We human beings are such funny animals, often confused with the concept of simplicity and have this funny little way of creating complexity out of it.

When I first started my quest for meditation, I had many of the same questions and spent so much time analyzing the different practices, different sitting positions, different sitting areas, you name it…I analyzed it!  Of course, I eventually realized that this is my nature, but that discussion is for another day!  Well, finallly after going through all of the analization process, I picked a particular discipline and dove in! (I’m not going to get into specifics, as to not lay influence, one must find their own path.  If you truly would like to know, send me a message and I will happily go into it further.)  I will say, it was one of the most difficult things that I have done in my life, but of course one of , if not the most important as well!  As I have mentioned before, it is the most important tool that I have, as I meander through this river of life!

So you wanna know about meditation…eh???  It is very simple, in fact its the backbone of this experiement I have been talking about!  It is the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  No, really, its that simple, but as I mentioned above, we are very complex animals, whose minds, well,  just don’t like simplicity…or atleast fight it, tooth and nail!!  You see, meditation is the retraining of the ole noggin.  Well, the ole noggin, its kinda fond of those old habits of the mind (some refer to that as the ego) and isn’t real interested in this retraining!  So, well, its a gonna fight ya!   But rest assured, persistance and patience will prevail!  Just like a child, persistance and patience will always give better long term results!

So, the objective observation of your point of focus, moment to moment.  Hmm, what exactly does that mean?  There are many forms of meditation, in fact I am pretty sure most reading this post have engaged in some sort of meditation at one point or another.  There are those that do mantra (chants), those that focus on an object, those that focus on bodily sensations, those that focus on breath, those that focus on sound.  So, what do all of these have in common?  Well, there is a point of focus.  So, how about prayer?  How about physically working out?  How about playing a video game?  How about a crossword?  How about doing a painting?  How about working on a physics problem?  These are all things that one often becomes completely absorbed, completely focused in the moment, and in my opinion are all forms of meditation.

Now, the real tricky part, the objective observation, becoming third person, really…just being.  Where one is able to allow things (feelings, thoughts, fears, desires)  beyond that point of focus, to materialize, quikly observe them as they materialize, and be completely objective towards them, accept them for what they are and really allow them to eventually pass, all the time keeping the attention on that point of focus!

Yes, your mind will wander!  Yes, you will give more attention to those thoughts rushing through your head!  Yes you will react to that funny feeling in your leg, or that itch on your arm!  That is where the objectivity is most critical!  That is where going, okay, I lost focus on my point of focus for a bit, no big deal (get used to saying no big deal to yourself), and reset and begin your meditation again!  Little by little, with great patience and persistence, you will start to experience the beauty in retraining that ole noggin of yours!  For this is the immediate goal, retrain the mind to be focused, moment to moment!  Eventually you will observe your true nature, and it will be easier and easier to accept it for what it is, and when this happens you will see the retraining process become easier and easier.

So, why is it that I am retraining?  Do an experiment on yourself and I promise you will understand why!  Although our greatest asset in the creation of our masterpiece, the mind, it is also our primary source of misery, really our only source, our greatest enemy!  Throwing anchors of fear in the past and shooting arrows of desire to the future (or vise verse), not allowing us to experience the only true reality of what is going on moment to moment!  So picture each one of those anchors and arrows with a big rope attached and the other end hooked to you!  Yow-ch, sounds pretty painful!  The beauty of retraining the ole noggin, is that it gives us the opportunity to let go of those ropes, pop those hooks, accept those arrows and anchors for what they are, and just let go of those ropes that are attached to them with the power of objectivity, the power of…well…”no big deal”!  Understand, you will throw those anchors and shoot those arrows again!  But, now you have gathered this beautiful tool of meditation, of awareness, of retraining the ole noggin and maybe you won’t throw or shoot them as often, or maybe you will not hold onto the ropes as long as you once did!

This has been my observation of meditation.  I hope it helps in some way.   I wish you all strength, patience and persistence on your journey through this beautiful river of life, but most of all I wish you much peace and much happiness!

Mind of Peace..from…Peace of Mind !!


In honor of the International Day of Peace, I thought a post on Peace and the Mind would be aprapos.  So often on this journey of mine, the term “Peace of Mind” has come up.  Whether it be in conversation with others on the path, or reading a book, while writing, or just a little conversation I have with me, myself and I,…. “Peace of Mind” was a pretty hot topic.  For isn’t that the goal?  I once thought that, until I found that place and experienced something totally unexpected.

I’m not sure I have discussed in previous posts,  that I have practiced meditation for quite some time.  Yes, this practice has been an integral part of this journey and a “super tool” that I have used to help float along this river of life.  Through this practice, I was able to experience a place where I was able to quiet the mind, and when I say quiet the mind, I mean total and utter silence, what I would certainly call “Peace of Mind.” (I am not going to go into a discussion on meditation, as that is for another day).  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow… man… that was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced!”  I had been fortunate enough to get a small glimpse, experience a tiny taste, of the ultimate truth, my true nature!  “I certainly  must be doing something right,” I said to myself, ” going down the right path!”  You wouldn’t believe the flow of thoughts that ensued later that afternoon after that experience.  Then “BAM” it occurred to me, “there I go again,” the mind just going at it again, like a white water flow of craving and self-absorption.  I suppose the only difference was the acute nature in which I was able to observe the thoughts, and what they were.  Honestly, I will tell you that this observation was a much more important part of my lesson learned that day than the actual experience of a completely quiet mind. It was at that point I realized, I observed, I truly experienced, the true nature of the misery I bring upon myself.  It was the point at which I understood how unaware I was in my everyday existence to the flow of thoughts and subsequent “holding onto them” that elicited their corresponding reaction.  It was probably one of the most prolific experiences of my life, to actually observe the actual workings of this mind/matter phenomena!!  Needless to say, this moment  took my own personal experiment of self observation to a new level.

So, great, cool, good for me, I had a really amazing experience…..And?  Well…sure, I did, but the most important thing about the experience was the understanding that I got from it, it clicked!  It was during that moment of true awareness, that I understood not only the importance of that “Peace of Mind” moment, but  I also observed just how critically important the moments following, the time spent after that moment.  For it is this time that the opportunity for transformation takes place, for the re-training of your mind.  It was also at that point I really, well, believed, that I could truly transform my mind, break the habits that I have held onto for so long, alter the cycle!  With this realization, it became completely apparent to me that the same could be said for the inhabitants of this world.  You know, you can hear it a million times….”Change the world, by changing yourself..”, but until you experience the true nature of change within, it is a very hard concept to grasp.

So, the point is, when you experience those times when you are fortunate enough to get that small glimpse…that beautiful feeling,  of “Peace of Mind”, make the most of it, (and no it doesn’t have to be as acute as the one I experienced that day).   Whether it be a moment of silent prayer, or that sunrise on the beach…or maybe just observing the smile of a child, or painting a picture of a peach.  Understand that “Peace of Mind” is experienced when your mind is completely focused, focused on that moment.  You will feel it, you will know, it will likely send a feeling of comfortable warmth through your body, and you’ll feel like a little lightbulb shining on all those around you.  Then, do us all a favor and yourself as well, when that little moment is over.  Take a second, or two, or even a minute, or ten, and send good wishes of peace, to all the world over!  This is the process my friends, something all of us can do,  to create a “Mind of Peace” from “Peace of Mind”,  just take a minute or a few.  (okay, i’m no poet, but it was fun trying!)  Realize, that small moment you experience, opens that opportunity to change your position in the river, to alter your path, and that alteration is completely dependent upon the thoughts you choose to join you on your flow.  It may not be comepletly noticable at first, or maybe it will, but you have the power and most importantly you have the choice.  Much Peace to you all on this International Day of Peace and I wish you all much luck on your journey and much happiness each day through.