Clearing Away the Debris
The Quest for Purpose Begins Here
If you are not completely relaxed, at ease and wholly at peace with yourself and the world around you, please return home now.
Fill your lungs with a deep breath of fresh air. Exhale it slowly. Take another deep breath and then slowly exhale. One more time, please.
Drop your shoulders and relax the muscles of your upper body. Let go of all tension in your jaws and in your facial muscles. Bow your head and rotate it clockwise then counter-clockwise until the muscles in your neck carry no more tension.
Place both feet flatly on the floor or ground. Feel the Earth supporting you. Relax the muscles in your feet then move up your leg, relaxing each muscle as you move up. Start with your right foot and leg and then the left. Feel the tension draining away, grounding you. Get into a comfortable sitting position where your back is straight but your lower back feels no strain.
Clearing Away the Debris
Most of us have difficulty prioritizing the things we should worry about. We worry about our health, our safety, our children and other family, of not having enough money or how to protect the money we do have, we worry about our jobs, our car, the roof on the house — I think you get the picture: the list is endless. The Department of Worry in our mind is filled with shoulds and should nots. "I should do …" or "We should get …" or "You should start …" or "I should not overeat" and "I should not smoke."
Once we exhaust ourselves with worry and start going over the same stuff, we might get to take a break from worry. Unfortunately the mind does not take kindly to being idle and starts focusing on past. The mind's past is filled with regrets and guilt. The mind reminds us that we should have done this or should not have done that in order to turn regrets into a more powerful emotion called guilt. The Department of Guilt of our mind is filled with should haves and shouldn't haves.
Worry lives in the future. One cannot worry about what has already past. Guilt lives in the past. One cannot regret or feel guilty about what is yet to occur. Deepak Chopra says
The past is reflection, the future is anticipation. Therefore, time is just the movement of thought.In other words, time is an illusion of the mind, in fact it is one of the mind's grand illusions. According to Marianne Williamson,
The past is history, the future is mystery. This moment is a gift, which is why it is called "the present".
The feelings of regret or guilt and worry rob us of our ability to be in the present moment, to enjoy our only real, "here and now" experience. Feeling whatever you are feeling is never wrong per se. Feelings have consequences that may or may not serve your highest good. The way out of the emotional traps of worry and guilt is to notice the thoughts that engender them and to set them free, let them go. This is a way of putting our Higher Self in charge of our lives and not allow our ego-minds to run the show.
Do not consider your ego-mind your enemy, for what you resist persists. Don't give it so much power because doing so make it easy to be manipulated, controlled by forces outside of yourself. Just imagine how Madison Avenue admen would fare is we did not let our ego minds determine our behavior! They are busy trying to find ways to convince you that you are not good enough (without this product or that), that you are not fit to be seen in public without the "right" make-up or dress or shoes or figure or hair. Your ego mind is ready to buy into this fallacy (of not being good enough) because it supports its most basic tenet.
The ego-mind, or our "public image" or persona is how we want he world to see us, what we want others to think of us. For most of us, this public image is different from how we really are. Don't we all want to appear witty, charming, intelligent, honest, attractive, kind, trustworthy, dependable, successful, worthy and significant? In truth, how many of us are really like that? The difference between our public image and how we really are is the construct of the ego-mind.
The path to higher consciousness is to allow your ego-mind to occupy its rightful place in the lower level of your consciousness while letting your Higher Self (the manifestation or individuation of Spirit, which is your soul) run your life.
The ego-mind is a fertile topic for a whole series of books and we will take a closer look at it later. For now, we'll get back to worry and guilt, the great destroyers of inner peace.
How do we become free of worry? Trying not to worry will only reaffirm that we have something to worry about, trying to get rid of anything will simply give it more power over us. Here is another great quote from Deepak Chopra, from " Synchrodestiny: Harnessing the infinite power of coincidence to create miracles":
According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don't bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.The first step towards worry-free living is make the choice, opt without "wanting". Wanting reaffirms the lack. This involves simply noticing the mind drifting into the future and observing it as it starts to fret about some imaginary outcome and then letting the thoughts drift away without reacting to them. Say to your Self, "there is goes again" and just let it be. As you choose not to react, the ego-mind will eventually catch on to the futility of generating these thoughts and give up.
The second step is action. Do what you can today to create a better tomorrow and then let go of any attachment to the outcome. Once you have done what you can, you have done your part. Worrying about how it will turn out is not practical and doing so will destroy your ability to enjoy the precious here-and-now eternal moment.
Emotional attachment to a particular outcome is another ego construct. The ego asserts itself by its need to arrange people, places and things according its own world view. In reality we have no power over the external — we cannot change other people or places or things. All we can change, sometimes with a little bit of help, is our mind. The ego, of course will debate this but that will not alter reality.
Things outside of ourselves (people, places, things, events, circumstances, acts of man and God) do not cause us pain. The pain comes from resistance (failure to accept unconditionally). The cause of our inability to accept the emotionally unacceptable is the ego-manifested desire to have it "our way", the attachment to a particular outcome.
The concept is worth taking a closer look. Imagine that you are leaving on a long-awaited and eagerly anticipated camping trip with your family. You have booked and started your annual vacation at work, packed the family car, got the kids ready and all is left to do now is to pull out of the driveway and get on the road. But it is pouring rain with no letup in the forecast.
Is the weather giving you grief, causing your frustration? Of course not, it has rained before and you have handled it with stoic equanimity. The cause of your frustration is your failure to unconditionally accept that it is now raining, driven by your emotional attachment to the particular outcome that the weather be mild and sunny during your camping trip. You have a choice. You can act out your anger and frustration, kick the car tire and the cat, curse and rant — thereby destroying your inner peace and the serenity of your family, or you can accept that the weather has changed and it is now raining. You can pack rain gear and umbrellas, perhaps decide to stay at a motel instead of the campsite you reserved three months ago, get over the inclement weather and on with your planned trip.
How do we unburden ourselves of remorse, regrets, guilt, grudges and grievances? Trying to that will force us to dwell in the past, trying to get rid of anything will simply give it more power over us. Guilt, including all of its descendents (remorse, regrets, grudges, grievances) is a powerful enough emotion already. Entire cultures have been built around the guilt meme, enshrining it for many generations. "Mom, would you like me to turn on the lights?" "Nu, why waste the electricity on me? I don't mind sitting in the dark."
The first step towards guilt-free living is make the choice, opt without "wanting". Wanting reaffirms the lack. In the case of the negative (e.g.: wanting to be rid of something), will continue to focus the mind on what we do not want. Harping on your flu or body fat (what you want to be rid of) will keep your mind focused on the flu or body fat, feeding it more energy. Energy follows thought. Simply notice the mind drifting into the past and observe it as it starts to rehash (for the nth time) some hurtful or misguided experience. Then let the thoughts drift away without reacting to them. Say to your Self, "there is goes again" and just let it be. As you choose not to allow emotions to wrap around these thoughts, the ego-mind will eventually catch on to the futility of generating them and give up.
You may have noticed a pattern of repetition in the foregoing. Rote is the requirement for training the mind. Training the mind is the path to a higher level of awareness and to spiritual evolution. The human evolution has been remarkable over the past millennia, especially the way our intellect has evolved. Our physical evolution has also been notable, however spiritually we have not evolved at all. It is long overdue and time to get going.
The second step is action. If you have hurt someone in the past and the experience is still with you then make amends. If possible, seek out the person you have wronged, tell them that you know you have hurt them and ask them to forgive you. If you choose to do this, do it sincerely, from the heart. This is not a game or make-believe acting. If you are pretending then you are not genuine and people will detect this, so don't bother. Whether you are forgiven or not is not your business, you need to move on. You have done what you could. Dwelling in the past is not practical and doing so will destroy your ability to enjoy the precious here-and-now eternal moment.
What if someone has hurt you? What if a close friend or relative stole from you or betrayed your trust or took advantage of you? Forgive them, sincerely, not for their sake but your own. You need not carry that baggage around anymore, so put it down — let go. To carry around such grievances will only hurt you, it will do nothing to or for the person who wronged you. Do yourself a big favor and let it go already. If you want to maintain a relationship with a person who you think has offended you, it is important to tell them that you have forgiven them and harbor no ill feelings towards them.
Mistakes are part of life, everyone makes them, everyone regrets them. But, some learn from them and some end up making them again. It's up to you to decide if you'll use your mistakes to your advantage.
Forgiveness is the antidote for any of the poisons of the past. It is most difficult to fogive onself for we are our own harshest critic. Yet it is most important to forgive yourself or you will not become free of the sins of the past. Carrying around the guilt is an indication that you might commit the same hurtful act again. The pattern will repeat until you break the cycle and set your Self free.
Neither worry nor guilt are bad or wrong, per se. They are merely signposts showing you that you might want to take a deeper look at some underlying issue. They serve your highest good. At the minimum, you need to become aware that when you worry you are living in the future and when you feel guilt, you are living in the past. This awareness is enough to limit the damage but of course you can do more when you are ready to face the true causes of these powerful emotions.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
In this chapter we have looked two of the most destructive emotions that can and do disrupt your inner peace and the free flow of life energy. They destroy your ability to enjoy the present moment and sap your energy. They prevent you from being present.
In the next chapter we will dig a little deeper and look at the parent of guilt and worry in greater depth. When you are ready to go on, click here.