I’m hearing already: “OMG! He’s going to tax rich people?!! It’s the end of the world!” Wake up and stop mindlessly following the false clues.
I’m off to work — I’ll be gone all day. Yes, this is a repost, Nina. LOL
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-=[ Surrender ]=-
“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
— William James
In recognition of the time of the year when many people attempt to lose weight to “look good,” and other resolutions, I started thinking about change — specifically: how and can people create lasting change in their lives. The numbers, at first glance, don’t look good, a vast majority (about 70-80%) drop out of programs or break their resolutions within the span of a month. However, I totally believe that we can alter our lives in such a way to create some measure of happiness in our lives.
People ask me what it is I do for a living and my only true answer is that I specialize in change. For the past ten years or so, I have dedicated a significant portion of my life to attempting to understand the mechanism of change. In other words, the factors needed to create lasting, positive change. I have borrowed and learned from a wide range of different orientations, but in the last few years, I have been most influenced by Buddhist psychology, cognitive psychology and, more recently neurolinguistic programming (NLP).
Mostly, my work encompasses my own personal experience – what I like to call “what works,” and a basic spirituality. Mind you, I didn’t say religion – I’m not selling dogma or a God, what I’m “selling,” if I’m selling anything is, well, freedom. You don’t have to believe in anything, or accept any saviors or anything like that if you choose not to, at least not here.
I approach my work with several assumptions, the first one being obvious: that, given the tools, people can effect lasting change. Secondly, experience has shown me that people already have all the resources they need. Third, there aren’t too many absolutes in psychology, but the notion that underlying every behavior is a positive intention, comes pretty close. We do things because we get a return on it. Fourth, in my work I find people make the choices available to them. The issue, it then follows, is that people need help opening up to new or unseen choices. Finally, if you keep doing the same actions and expecting different results, then you’re setting yourself up for needless suffering. Suffering is optional, my friends.
Everything starts with surrender. Oftentimes, people come to me and they’re hot and horny for change, but once we start going into uncharted territory, people then want to dictate how to change. In that case, why come to me in the first place? LMAO! Nope, if you want change, you need to give it up – start doing something new. The notion of surrender is interpreted as a weakness in our society, as in admitting defeat. And this is, in a sense, what you’re doing if you’re battling something you can’t defeat. I start with the radical notion of giving up the war. Surrendering, in this context, means letting go of your resistance to the total openness of who you are. It means giving up the tension of the little hurricane you believe yourself to be and giving in to the profound power of the ocean you truly are. It means to open with no boundaries, emotional or physical, so you feel yourself stretching beyond the limitations of the small sense of self you might have.
And it is a scary thing, believe me, I know.
Surrender, in this sense, means to love without limits and that includes those aspects of yourself you may not like too much. Whether that may be being overweight, or compulsive, or whatever little story you’re telling yourself. It means, mostly, putting down your guard so you can feel your authentic self – unhidden, undefended. It means surrendering any preconceived notions you have about change, who you are, and where it all came from. In short, it means to…
Stop the war!
I’ll start with a story I heard early in my own journey toward change. This particular Buddhist teaching story opens up the possibility for us to look into what is the source of suffering and sanity, and begs the question: how can we change if we don’t start from the inside out?
Many years ago, a monk in a monastery was struggling with his meditation practice. Each time he sat to meditate, he saw a giant spider threatening him. After much anxiety and losing much sleep, he finally decided he would kill the creature.
As he was walking toward the meditation hall with a big knife in his hand, his teacher saw him and asked what he intended to do. The visibly shaken young man explained his predicament. The teacher, listening attentively, offered an alternative strategy to the young monk. He told him first to get his calligraphy brush and carefully paint a cross on the spider’s belly, then to put the knife into the intersection of the cross on the following day.
The monk, now armed with his brush and ink, entered the meditation hall. Sure enough, the spider appeared and he carefully painted its belly. Now feeling quite satisfied, he bowed and left the meditation hall — and discovered on the front of his robes a huge painted X. It is said his laughter was heard everywhere.
And so it is with many people. This monk had placed the “Monster” somewhere outside of himself. To another, the monster could well appear within. In the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, we are encouraged to notice (not “analyze”!) that the mind has a strong tendency to create love and hate, birth and death, sickness and sanity — even monsters and magic!
The mind is conditioned by culture and society to play hide-and-seek with itself — a horny game of forgetfulness in the constant thought-stream of the mind. If you sit still long enough and just “look” you will see just how much activity there is in the mind: thoughts, feelings, fantasies, memories, as well as awareness of physical sensations, whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This very mind stream can drive us into patterns of greater or lesser suffering that are difficult to escape.
In meditation practice, we begin to quiet ourselves, to calm ourselves. In stopping our usual activity, we notice how the relentless flow of the mind (conditioning) drives us. Through the experience of stilling and calming, we begin to get a hint of the nature of change, of how all things are constantly changing — we begin to gain insight into what Buddhists call “impermanence.” Other spiritual traditions have different names for this, but they all try to point to an “alternate” (deeper?) reality.
I think that the reason most people fail at creating and staying with change or resolutions is that they fail to address the core problems. Let’s take the popular diet fads: If you feel inadequate, then why would a diet alone make you feel better? It’s a lot like the monk in our story: we’re projecting our “monsters” out there somewhere, when they in fact reside within us. When you look at the numbers and see so many people going through the “yo-yo effect” – losing and then gaining enormous amounts of weight — you begin to realize that too many people are intent on losing the outer baggage without addressing the inner baggage, and that will never work, because wherever “you” go, there “you” are.