Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prosperity & Perfect Health

There are three main aspects to prosperous living; right livelihood, perfect health, and harmonious relationships. Right livelihood encompasses both meaningful work and work which supports a joyous lifestyle. I have written extensively about the interconnection between consciousness and fulfilling work and material prosperity. Now, I am writing about the other two components of prosperous living and how consciousness governs our success in these venues as well. First we will look at health.

I believe that perfect heath is our birthright in the sense that we are born with the perfect mind body combination to accomplish that which we arrived here to do. I discuss so called “birth defects” and disabilities in another chapter and so will not repeat that topic here. Birth is a gift from our creator. There is nothing that we had to do in order to receive the blessing of life. I will come back to this momentarily.

Some people believe that life is random and that we exist solely on the physical plane. They assert that our role in life is to survive. They think that all that exists can be measured with the five senses and understood by the human brain. (Assuming continued advances in scientific instrumentation).

On the other hand, if life is not random, then it has purpose and meaning.

In the end, we have one of a limited number ways we can view the idea of perfect health in our physical world. If our existence is meaningless and random then our physical well-being is likewise random and there is nothing we can learn about this and the inquiry is over. This motto is something like “Life is a bitch and then you die.” If you reject this approach, then we must adopt either the idea of 1) a rewarding/punishing God that bestows blessings on some and not on others, 2) a capricious God or 3) a loving creator.

It is beyond my purpose to fully debate this issue fully here.

I will say however, the creative act cannot be measured by the five senses. Creativity itself cannot be comprehended or explained by the human brain. Biology can at best explain what happens when conception occurs, but no scientist can create life or explain where life comes from. Moreover, we do not know where creativity itself comes from. We cannot determine where new ideas arise from. We do not understand (and I believe cannot understand) how fresh insights occur any better than we can determine how life arises. The absence of scientific proof about where new ideas come from coupled with my own experience in having new ideas leads me to believe that there is an organizing intelligence in the Universe.

Thus, let’s refocus back to the main point which is that our birth is the result of the gift of life and implies a creative force. If we are gifted with life for some purpose, then it stands to reason that at conception we would have the perfect set of tools to fulfill our purpose. However, know we are not the product of predestination because we have free will. Thus, we are not created with all the tools we need and no choice but to fill our destiny. Instead we are created with the impulse to manifest the purpose and acquire the sills over our lifetime.

At our birth, we have the perfect combination of mind and body to succeed in manifesting the good we were intended to experience. Some skills of course must be developed; most of us learn to walk, to speak, to read and so forth. Some attributes must be developed such as all of the aspects of our human personality. In addition, some traits must be learned through experience such as the value of spiritual surrender, forgiveness and perseverance. All of this occurs through a life curriculum which is perfectly crafted to develop us into spiritual maturity as we manifest our life purpose.

This curriculum occurs throughout our lifetime and molds and shapes us in ways that we do not readily perceive. Thus, to outside appearances, many of us do not have a perfect mind body. But what we are looking when we see physical discomfort and disease at is the out picturing of a consciousness that has been traumatized. We were born with a perfect mind body and through years of neglect and abuse we end up with a mind body that is hurting and failing.

Much of this happens when we are children and are unable to significantly impact or understand our experience. Imperfect parenting, dysfunctional socialization, misguided education all result in some level of trauma for each innocent child born into this world. None can escape it. The impact of this trauma on the perfect mind body that we were born with is highly individualized.

For example, some babies will sooth their normal infantile anxiety by eating or over eating. Other babies loose all their appetite when they are anxious. Years later, in a superficial view, one might look overweight and one might look drawn and emancipated, but these are just two extreme maladjustments to anxiety. In each case, in a kind of twisted way, both are in perfect balance between the anxiety that they did not wish to experience over a lifetime and the food they unconsciously used (or did not use) to sooth it.

If spiritual repair work is not undertaken to recover the perfect mind body, then the childhood trauma in our mind body continues to deteriorate. This determination shows up as imperfect health, but as mentioned above is really perfect adjustments to maladaptive choices made over a lifetime. Every so called illness or health challenge is either a wake up call to activate the path to a higher consciousness or a result of choices made to continue less than optimum behavior that our physical mind body must counteract.

We all have the impulse to do this repair work encoded in our DNA and in our life energy. (In the west we do not have a good word for describing this). In addition we all have free choice to participate in spiritually based healing- which is often very different that a medically based cure. Some choose to embrace the transformational experience that will restore them to a thriving balance, others will rely on a physical/medical cure and ignore the deeper dimensions of the mind body connection and yet still others will down-regulate in a way that leaves them feeling depleted, exhausted and drained.

There are cases that look like exceptions to the idea of a perfect mind body. For some, the ideal soul curriculum in this incarnation requires them to manifest physical or mental ailments in order to experience what is needed for the long term evolution of their soul. I do not pretend to think this appears fair, just or reasonable. Perhaps it is the result of an unfathomable mystery or bad karma. The point is that these situations appear unfortunate from our dualistic perspective that define perfect solely in the physical dimension. When the evolution of the soul is factored in, then even those that appear unfortunate have been gifted with their perfect mind body to successfully accomplish their soulful purpose.

Given that we have free choice, then the decisions we make lead us to have a mind body that reflects those choices. In fact, our mind body perfectly reflects those choices. Unfortunately, many would rather blame their Creator for the impact of their decisions on their life rather than accept that their accountability lies within their own mind body.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving & turning setbacks into steps forward

Throughout the year it is easy to be grateful when things are going well and it is difficult to be grateful when those momentary set backs occur. At Thanksgiving, I encourage people to look back over the last year and remember a couple of instances when things looked bad at the time but turned out well in the end. This constructive spiritual practice helps us internalize the concept that The Universe can bring all things together for good.

This practice can run into a hard stop during those terrible times when the very foundation of our life is in the dumpster. If this occurs around the Thanksgiving Season, it can be difficult to embrace this spiritual practice. St. John of the Cross called these periods the Dark Night of the Soul because our conscious connection with our Creator feels absent during these periods of despair.

During these times of desolation it is almost impossible to follow a spiritual path. I thought I would write about this during the Thanksgiving holiday even thought it applies at any time things appear to be unraveling right before our very eyes. The bible gives us an example of how to trust spiritual truth even when experiencing what feels at the time like a horrible reversal.

Let’s explore the metaphysical story of Jesus turning washing water into fine wine. It is sometimes referred to as his first miracle. Metaphysical stories contain seeds of profound truth in tales easy to recall and cite. In this story, Jesus is a guest at a week long wedding feast and celebration. On the first day of the feast, the host runs out of wine for the assembled guests.

Jesus’ mom informs Jesus of the situation and implores him to take action. Jesus retorts that it is “not his time”. His mother ignores him and orders the servants to do whatever Jesus asks. Jesus then capitulates and instructs the servants to fill the six nearby ceremonial stone jars with water from the well. These jars were used to supply water for ritual purifications and would be considered inappropriate for any routine household purposes. After the servants fill the six jars to the brim, Jesus, tells them to draw some out and take it to the head steward. The steward, who has no idea where the liquid came from, takes a sip and proclaims the wine good. He even admonishes the host (in a complementary way). In serving such excellent wine after the feast is well underway, he has broken the tradition of serving the best wine first to sober guests and wine of inferior quality later to inebriated guests.

We can imply from this story that Jesus’ mother was involved in hosting the feast because she was the first to learn of the shortage of wine and by her ordering the servants to attend to Jesus’ commands. From the perspective of Jesus’ mother and her extended family, as hosts, running out of wine on the first day of a feast would be a serious breach of etiquette. According to the social norms at the time, the lack of adequate wine would appear to be an unsolvable disaster.
(We would infer from the story that they did not have resources to simply go and buy more wine for the celebration).

Jesus’ reply to his mother’s news about the wine shortfall was that it was not his time represents a common initial response we have when we are new to the spiritual path. His mother in this instance represents social expectations and she is pulling on him as if he was able to solve an insolvable problem when seen from the consciousness that created the problem. When we are presented with a difficult situation in our life and we are called to apply spiritual law rather than traditional problem solving techniques, we often think it is not our time to take spiritual actions. We are afraid that we do not have the spiritual mastery to resolve the situation at a higher vibration of consciousness.

Jesus’ mom transcends his insecurity by ordering the servants to do what ever he tells them to do. She does not argue with him or try and convince him to solve the problem. In this instance she is not acting merely as his mom, the host of the marriage feast, she is also representing that Divine Mother that is lovingly and unceasingly calling us to our highest good.

Like our good friends and mentors on the spiritual path who help remind us that spiritual law is always ready for our application, she simply points out that the servants will do whatever he asks. In the story the servants are seen as representative of spiritual law- which always respond to our application. Just like we should not allow our considerations deter us from applying truth principles, so to the servants who follow without question the commands of Jesus are, in this story, representative of spiritual law which have no ability to resist our application.

In the end, the water is transformed into wine. From the perspective of the head steward, (who represents our evolved self), the problem of the shortage of wine never existed and the outcome was even better than had existed before the alleged problem even occurred. (In the story, the blessing of the so called problem is represented by the converted wine being even sweeter than the initial wine served which would be commonly understood to be the host’s best wine.) Looking at it from an over arching vantage point, the water into wine tale illustrates that no problem can be solved at the level of consciousness that created it. Transformation must occur and when it does, the blessing is even better than the highest and best outcome that could have occurred by resolving the matter on the level at which the problem is initially presented.

For the part of us that is represented by the Jesus character, the story suggests that even when we think we are not ready to overcome any perceived difficulty, spiritual law is always available and when we exhibit the necessary faith, the blessing is available for us.

We will all face moments of spiritual crisis where doubt and confusion about principle feel overwhelming. No matter how bad things look in the midst of the problem, it is vital to keep a long range perspective and not forget that we can turn it into a blessing. We build our awareness of this principle by each Thanksgiving finding a moment in the past year that at the time looked like a set back and notice that as our year unfolded, it turns out that it was a blessing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life in a World of Infinite Possibilities

I am fascinated to live in a world of infinite possibilities and at the same time observe how so many people feel stuck with no options. I realize there is at any given moment the immediate possibility of choosing to feel trapped … but I get ahead of myself.

Ordinarily we humans do not see ourselves living in a field of pure potential. Instead, we automatically select our range of choices down to a manageable number of “viable options”. This seems to work reasonably well most of the time, but insulates us from the underlying principle: we live in a world of infinite possibilities. Just consider the infinite number of choices before you right now. You can continue reading, stop reading, decide to read later, hit reply and correspond with me, or forward this to 1) a good friend, 2) to your parents, 3) to someone with whom you are in a running feud. In addition you can call someone to share the ideas illuminated here, invite them to subscribe to our blog to receive our Prosperity Thoughts every month, and you can just as easily choose to unsubscribe from our list server. So many unlimited choices are before you at this moment but only if you are open to them!

We often experience limited choices because we see only one option in our mind, thus collapsing the field of infinite possibilities down to a fixed determinate. Although there is a time and place for narrowing our committed intention, too often it is not an empowered decision—rather it is a mis-perception that there are no other choices. This is a common result of rigid thinking.

Believing there is only a single choice usually stems from one of two impoverished mind sets. One is victim mentality characterized by an unwillingness to take responsibility for co creating a world that works for all. Some might say that people living in this consciousness will not even take responsibility for co creating anything. This person’s operational perspective is often that they are wrong and they are bad.

The other mind set that fixates on a single option is the result of arrogant and self centered immaturity which thinks “I alone know precisely what is best for all concerned.” They are rarely able to co create successfully. A person living in this consciousness tends to hold to the idea that they are right and good and that others are bad and mistaken

Even though, on the outside, the victim stance looks weak compared to the arrogant stance which looks powerful, in consciousness both are locked into scarcity thinking. Either aspect of this type of mental framework leads to power struggles and conflict. Neither approach, victim or arrogant, is easily able to co create in the field of infinite possibilities. Both are stuck in rigid thinking.

Sometimes rather than operate from pure rigid thinking, we can see only two choices. Our mental process looks like this… “Either “a” will happen or “b”: will happen.” This type of thinking tends to be catastrophic and extreme. In this mind set, we are polarized rather than integrated. This is often called “all or nothing thinking” or “black/ white thinking” due to the either/or framework inherent in this restricted world view.

Whenever we find ourselves locked into rigid thinking or only two options, we are cut off from the field of infinite possibilities. To move beyond these two restricting world views, we need to learn to live with an open heart. An exercise which immediately frees us from limiting beliefs is finding at least three or more possible options or outcomes in any difficulty we are facing. Once we see three possibilities, an infinite number of nuances and variations become available to us. Our consciousness will naturally expand and extend to lead us to the field of infinite possibilities when we are willing to be open minded and vulnerable. It is our natural state to live in a world of infinite possibilities.

You might wonder about the utility of thinking about impossible options. The only impossible options in a world with infinite possibilities are the ones you close your mind and heart to. Lewis Carroll wrote about believing in the impossible in his metaphysical classic, Alice in Wonderland.

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Let us affirm together: I am empowered to create my life from a field of infinite possibilities and I intentionally open to infinite choices leading me to all my good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Working within the grain

Every year there are a few periods of time that tend to cut against my personal grain. My generic style is one of being purposeful and I thrive on results generated by authentic action. I like being productive, efficient and targeted. “Management by objective” and “mission-driven operations” are concepts that typically resonate with me and thus I am most comfortable when I am in action mode. In the face of this momentum, there are always a few weeks where it seems to me that I have to wait for the world to catch up with me. However much I may want to rationalize it in the moment as “lag time”, my deeper understanding is profoundly different.

The weeks in the middle of September present a prime example. For eons, Northern Europeans faced a time after the harvest of the grains and grasses was complete and before the winter crops (pumpkins and other gourds) had come in. This window of time of forced inactivity was very different from the time in the dead of winter because there was still ample daylight and good weather. The people’s energy was still up and they wanted to work, but there was little constructive work that could be accomplished.

In contrast, the dead of winter was cold, dark and often blanketed in deep snow and therefore, the energy and focus of humans turned naturally inward. It seems to me that the contrast between the energetic archetypes of these two periods still holds true to this day.

In my human-centered worldview (we’ll get to a more spiritually-centered view in a moment), I have two very distinct choices in how to respond to these nearly universal “lull periods": One of my options is to keep busy with “make work” and the other is to impatiently wait out the inactivity. You may have your own set of tactics for dealing with this phenomenon, and while they may differ in details, I suspect that the underlying issues are the same.

I believe that being busy is not the same as being productive. My core value about being productive means for me that I want to be effective with the time and energy I invest. Hence, making work simply to keep busy does not align with my values and so in the past I have leaned to the second tactic-impatience.

During a brief downtime in the past I would stew, and squirm and, in an irritated way, wrestle with waiting. It was unbearable. For example, when I was a senior in college, I had an entry-level career job in sales lined up when I graduated. I found out the company that had hired me had two training groups over the summer-an early group and a later group. (Depending on when each employee’s graduation was scheduled new hires were assigned to one of the two groups.) I made arrangements to finish up my college classes early, take my exams early, turn in papers early -- all so that I could start work sooner and be in the first pod of trainees.

At the end of the summer, it turned out that the management was going to wait to assign any of us to territories until the second pod completed their training. I almost quit the job rather than wait through a couple of weeks of enforced downtime before being assigned my sales territory.

Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, there is a more spiritually sound third available choice. In this time of “in between”, I can choose to more fully experience patience and surrender, not just as abstract intellectual concepts, but as practice. Unsurprisingly, this is more difficult for me than either of the first two options.

Here are a few things I have learned in adopting this practice: The Tao distinguishes between yin (receptive) and yang (proactive) energy, each necessary to the other. Thus, rather than take that restless energy swirling inside me and find some “busy work” or wait impatiently for some meaningful life errands to do, I embrace my restlessness and sense what it feels like to be patient. I would like to be calm, serene and still during these times that seem to call for a yin response, but I am often pulled toward feeling anxious and out of sorts. I know intellectually that it would be good for me to be more balanced, and in order to get to a more balanced energy, I need to be at peace with idle periods. The only way to constructively accomplish this, is to see the value in not being busy (which is not so hard for me to do) and see the value in not being productive, (which is very hard for me to do/be) and learn to embrace the stillness.

There is a part of me that overvalues “doing” and undervalues “being”. The way to integrate and harmonize these two is to “be” still, and to “be” at peace with the experience of stillness. In other words, I need to get comfortable with being “unproductive” in the way that I have understood productivity up until now. This requires self acceptance, and the willingness to trust the larger rhythms at work in my life. I can learn to be accomplished at waiting, learn to let go of the egoic sense of urgency that tells me that every moment must be productive. I can have first-hand experience with healing impatience which, at a minimum, will help me be compassionate with other driven persons with whom I interact.

Moreover, on a more subtle level, taking time to “be” is actually far more productive in the long run than constantly doing, doing, doing. For me, learning the art of patience is sometimes excruciating, however the anxiety I now feel, in this period between harvests (between projects), is only a small vestige of the irritability I used to feel during periods of enforced downtime. Sometimes intermediate steps are a sign of good progress on the spiritual path. In those times when I cannot fully embrace the stillness, I have found that there are some constructive things that I can do that are purposeful, centering and aligned with both my values and my desire to be peaceful in lull periods. Writing this is both productive and somewhat meditative. Going for a walk is a good way for me to disperse some of the pent-up energy I feel during these periods of restlessness without getting caught up in working. Investing in some reading can be useful when I face a lot of open hours. These are not “make work” projects and so there is some blessing in them.

To some extent, these steps may look like they only address the symptoms and not the root of the issue. And yet, progress is progress and if the issue is driven behavior, then moderation is a sign of healing. Now that I am aware of the benefit of aligning my inner rhythm with outer events, I can notice my reactions in these slow times. I can begin living life on life’s terms rather than on my terms. I can trust that it is good for me to have periods of low activity so that I can practice patience. My heart tells me that I can be calm and serene as life unfolds as part of a larger rhythm that includes all around me. This is a much more joyous way to live.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Light Reflecting off a Top Hat- Sept. 2009 Prosperity Thoughts

One of the core Spiritual Truths that we teach is that our dreams, deeply held and with lots of positive emotion attached will activate the Organizing Intelligence of the Universe to manifest our yearnings. We also teach that when we follow our life purpose, it inevitably leads to success. Here is a true story that provides a beautiful junction of these two principles.

A good friend of mine wrote the other day that he especially liked watching iconic black and white movies, especially those from the '30's and '40's. More importantly to this tale, for the past three or four decades, every time he saw a character wearing the classic top hat in those films, he wanted one. Apparently he loved the way light would reflect off of the top hats and appear to spin off the spiral at the top of the hat, much in the same way that many others love the way a diamond, prism, or a stained glass window can do magical things to light.

It turns out that only the very highest quality top hats make the light dance, and the reason was that they were made of beaver pelts rather than cheaper materials. His dream of owning a brand new top hat of the finest quality seemed absurd in the 21st century. So far as he knew, such top hats had not been made since the 40's or 50's. He figured that any that could be found would probably be antiques--old, worn, and if in decent condition, prohibitively expensive. Moreover, even if he could find one from that era, what would be the odds that it would be his exact hat size?

Nonetheless, over the years he often commented when watching the old movies that he'd love to own one someday--and why. The Universe listened, and so did his family.

A few months ago, his three children captured the Divine Idea of making his dream come true. (I will skip over this man's karma, but it will suffice to say that he has made many people's dreams come true over his lifetime, especially the dreams of his children. The recent economic downturn crushed his business and yet he remains one of the most generous and kind people I know.)

On his recent birthday, his 52nd, he opened a present from his three children. In his hands he held the most improbable and craziest gift he had ever received: a very handsome--, downright beautiful!--top hat that reflects the light in exactly the way he'd wanted for decades!

His son (someone who once whipped me badly on computer games when he was younger) found an old European immigrant in Cincinnati, Gus, who still makes top hats by hand. The three kids all chipped in to buy one from Gus. Gus is the proprietor of a small hat shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, that has been in business making hats for 100 years. Gus started working there as a teenager for his uncle when he immigrated from a small village in Greece. When Gus started he knew nothing about hats, but he worked hard and learned the business first hand. After working his way up as an employee from stockroom sweeper to hat maker, he eventually purchased the shop.

Now, he has worked in the same little shop for 56 years. Men's hats have fallen seriously out of style over the years, and there is almost no one in America making hats anymore. But Gus has thrived during these downturns because he is “old school”. He makes perhaps the finest hats in America. He is a craftsman in an authentic way; even in this internet age he has no marketing aside from word of mouth- no web site, no e-mail, not even a fax machine…and yet, his word of mouth is fantastic.

Most of his customers have to come into the shop in person for a fitting. The customer's firsthand experience of Gus' passion for his work and his personal commitment to excellence is so remarkable that customers can't wait to tell their friends and write letters of gratitude. While sitting in the shop being waited on in person, Gus' customers will read letters of appreciation and thanks that are framed and posted all over the wall of the shop.

But as you could guess, given the level of love that Gus puts into each hat sold, they are not just ordinary letters. Gus has created and sold hats to some of the most famous people in the world and has done so for generations. Singer Luciano Pavarotti, comedian Bill Cosby, the late comic Red Skelton and entertainer Tony Bennett. He has fitted at least three US Presidents in that shop. Why do they come to him in “flyover country” like Cincinnati? Deion Sanders, famous football and baseball player and NFL analyst said of Gus that "the service you get is undeniably the best in the business."

Since my friend's top hat was a surprise gift, his kids could not get it fitted properly before hand, so as could be expected the fit isn't quite right. It is a bit loose front-to-back, and a little too tight on the sides, so it sits a little high and rocks back and forth slightly on his head. Not to worry, because Gus is a craftsman who makes hats as his life's work. He has a calling and his passion for making outstanding hats is his dream. Impeccable customer service is just a part of his calling and so Gus had already promised my friend's children that he would re-fit the hat so that it would fit perfectly.

When my friend called to arrange to have his top hat refitted he got the true treasure within the birthday gift. He learned that Gus told his children that the top hat they wanted would be very expensive and strongly suggested something less costly. My friend then learned that his kids talked about the alternative, but in the end his kids told Gus that they wanted this exact top hat for their dad. They decided that it didn't matter how much they'd have to work to pay for it because it would take them a lifetime to repay their father for all the blessings he had given them. And so, my friend manifested the precise top hat of his dreams.

I would guess that the desire that my friend has for a top hat is easily surpassed by the deep passion that he and his wife have held for years to raise a loving family. In this case, the Organizing Intelligence in the Universe co-created a situation where both desires could be true on the same birthday. Happy birthday, my friend.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prosperity in the Doldrums

Believe it or not, I first found out that "doldrums" was a real word a few years ago when I was at Unity Village taking classes. I grew up on the West Coast and we had the Santa Anna Winds that came up in the afternoons. We had the El Ninjo/La Ninja ocean currents that pulled cold water down from the Arctic or brought warm water up from Baja. We had Marine Inversion Layers. We also had micro climates galore, but we did not have a weather pattern called the doldrums.

At Unity Village I learned that in certain regions in the South and Midwest there were times in the summer when the air became stiflingly hot, humid and still so that it is almost deprived of sufficient oxygen to comfortably breathe. One day I was walking to class and it was hot and muggy and I was having trouble breathing as I walked and someone explained that it was the doldrums. Prior to that moment, I thought the doldrums was a nautical term that described the absence of trade winds such that sailing ships would be stranded for days or weeks on the high sea waiting for the wind to pick up. I also knew that in colloquial usage, "The summer doldrums" or "having in the doldrums" referred to that period toward the very end of summer vacation when all the fun had leached out of summer and we were waiting for school to resume in the fall.

As I write at the very end of August, it seems appropriate to see how the doldrums fit in with the theme of prosperity. I have generally understood the doldrums to involve a state of listlessness, inactivity and stagnation. Emotionally it feels despondent and energetically it feels like being in a slump. On the surface, this seems the exact opposite of prosperity consciousness which for most people feels vibrant, expansive and exciting. So, how does a concept like the doldrums, exist in an abundant and prosperous universe.

In nature, there are times of great expansion (typically spring) and times of dormancy ( typically winter). In understanding our experience of our prosperity it is important to incorporate these concepts as energetic fields in our own being. Prosperity consciousness is not some frantic, manic or hyper mind set. It does include time for direct action, it also includes times of waiting and times of indirect action. They key is to harmonize our actions with our energy flow so that we create synergy. I recall one sage teacher suggesting to me that the optimum way to live life was to reel in what was heading towards us and reel out that was heading away from us.

These ebbs and flows of energy and enthusiasm are all around us. Popular music goes through crazes where one type of song is all the rage and then a few years later the same type of music (or performer) is passe'. Certain books are hugely topical for a very short period and then practicably unsellable afterwards. Clothing styles are also subject to fads where a specific look is "in" one season and "out" the next year. Nothing can be done to change this, and so within the context of prosperity consciousness we are best served by going with the current that surrounds us anyway.

Here is a real life example of how I efficiently created synergy during a slack time. When I was in private practice as a bankruptcy attorney, there were typically two very slow periods, one in August when all the Judges, clients and other lawyers seemed to all be on vacation and the other around the Christmas holidays when Judges were on holiday and clients were shopping and spending. There was no realistic way to get any productive work done during this period. Instead, I would use these two slack periods to catch up on all my office filing and wrap up all the other non urgent paperwork that I tended to shunt aside during peak periods. Thus, I often looked forward to these two slack periods so that I could get my office caught up.

If we do not align ourselves with the energetic flow then we often create conflict or manifest exhaustion from going against our natural rhythm. Years ago, I used to get together with a group of River Guides and we would run cooperative trips. Most of the other guides lived near the river, while I lived a good 3 1/2 hours away from the river. On every trip, I used to push to get on the river, push to get lunch set up and then over with so we could get back on the river and then push to get off the river at the take out and so forth. I was focused on my long dive home and not on harmonizing with the energy and needs of the other guides who wanted a much more relaxed experience. We did not have overt conflict over it, but on the way home I would be frustrated and by the time I arrived home I would be exhausted rather than relaxed from a wonderful day on the river.

When we find ourselves listless and de-energized we need to determine if this is just a natural phase of the doldrums or is this the onset of depression. One way to evaluate this is to see if there is authentic action for us to do that we are postponing. If we are procrastinating on genuinely productive work, then perhaps this is a symptom of some underlying emotional current that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, we may be in an organic slack period where there is nothing directly helpful for us to do except wait and relax. In these natural slack times there will always be something useful for us to do, but it will not be so directly tied to whatever project we are focused on. Maybe we take a day off and go hike in the mountains or walk along the ocean. Maybe it is time to put everything aside and just get caught up on our gardening or art projects. Perhaps it is the right moment to organize other areas of our life, like getting the garage straightened up or the car cleaned and tuned up. These are indirect ways of keeping up momentum without trying to force situations.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kayacking and the Three Levels of Awareness

The experience of abundance and prosperity in our lives occurs only in the present moment; however, the present moment is made up of many layers of awareness. If we want to enjoy prosperity then it helps to be conscious of how prosperity is manifested in our mind.

Spending several days kayaking on the river helped me see this more clearly and may provide a good backdrop for you as well. Running an actual stretch of rapid whitewater well is an exhilarating and satisfying experience of being one with nature and one with the moment. Each instant presents a moment of decision in which to adjust to the conditions on the river. There is a perfect balance between action and pausing, between flowing and powering through, between resting and exerting. There is an exquisite joy in manifesting the mind-body connection instantaneously, over and over again. It is near nirvana to make and remake my karma, millisecond by millisecond, as I adjust back into perfect balance and absolute center amidst the ebbs and flows of the river. At this level of awareness I am fully in the present moment and my heart fills with unlimited joy.

And yet, in all that present moment joy, I am always both fully in the present instant and aware of the line I am setting up my kayak for my run through the next set of rocks. In white water kayaking, particularly in a highly technical (complex and challenging) section of river, it is vital to choose a line that presents an opening to a great run. Choosing the wrong line, or misreading the water, or focusing too much on the present moment and ignoring the overall longer-range trends in the river impact the results, often in a dramatic way.

Thus, I suggest that running a stretch of white water rapids requires a combination of being present in the instant, being present in the near moment and planning for the future. All three are essential and simultaneous. Overlooking or ignoring any one of these aspects of kayaking will lead to a rocky experience. We need to be on the right river, going the right direction and in the right place and only by being fully aware of all of these dynamics in the same instant can we be fully present. The same is true in looking at our general prosperity consciousness. To be sure, there is no one “right” anything, just as there is no “wrong” anything. I use this phrase here to connote the optimum in the context of your goals, or the ideal in terms of your values or the optimum in relationship to your needs.

Here are three examples that illustrate this point: The first day that Debbie and I kayaked this summer, we did not get onto the river itself until after 4 pm. We did not know how long the trip on the river would take and were a little concerned about being on the river after dark. As our trip progressed, there was, in the back of our awareness, a little unease and a sense of urgency. We both felt a need to push a little on the flat stretches and be extra cautious not to get hung up in the shallow water and not to get flipped in the white water. We could be present in the instant as long as we kept in mind the physical fact that evening was approaching. Moving along at a good clip and preferring to stay as dry as possible due to the choice we’d made to set off when we did, was a part of our present moment experience.

On another trip many years ago, we left a car at the takeout some ten miles from the put-in. This would seem to make for an easy day of kayaking, but we did not take into account the distinction between river miles and road miles and the moderate pace of the river we were on. After an hour or two of winding along the river it was obvious we would never make it to the takeout site in time, (We pulled out near a house along the highway, used the cell phone that Debbie brought ( as part of her preparations) and called for help to come get us and drive us to our car). In this example, we were headed for an experience we did not want and thus headed in the wrong direction, (we needed to head to shore rather than keep paddling downstream).

On my very first whitewater kayaking trip, a friend took me on a river that was way too advanced for my skill level and I did not have sufficient cold weather gear. It was easily one of the most miserable days of my life because I tipped over within the first few feet of whitewater and swam in the icy cold water time and time again throughout the day. I was nearly numb from the cold. I was clearly on the wrong river, in terms of my skill level at the time, and the attire I was wearing given the temperature of the water. This is an example of being on the wrong river due to my lack of preparation and awareness.

The point of these three specific kayaking examples is that our present moment is always colored by the ongoing direction we are headed and the pre-planning (or lack thereof) we have made for our success. In each moment we want to be in the right (optimum) place, heading the right (ideal) direction and on the right (best) river.

Life is a journey that unfolds moment by moment in a sequence, just like a river is a flow of continuous particles of water traveling downstream. It is always true that our experience of prosperity is a choice, but at the same time we experience our own karma from the choices and actions we have already made. The decisions we make now, or the choices we avoid making now, all impact the flow in our life downstream.

If we put in on a river that is too difficult for us to navigate we are going to have a tough time when we reach the rapids. If we do not bring the proper safety gear we may have a very regrettable experience. In actual application, that means that sometimes I may choose a wide and relatively flat river to float so that I can enjoy the calm water and relax for a while as I drift down stream. If this is what I want to experience, then I must set this in motion by choosing a stretch of river that meets my need to float. If I choose a highly technical stretch of white water when I want to float, there is a mismatch between my intentions and my actions and I will be aware of them in the present moment.

It is, in both my experience and my opinion, a fallacy offered by some New Thought and Prosperity teachers that we can experience bliss moment by moment without being aware of the larger context of our life. We need to prepare for our optimum outcome be getting clear on our values, purpose, and the experience we want. If not, then we are in denial if we think ambiguous foresight will produce optimum results.

In any fully-present-moment experience, I am open to the awareness of what is momentarily in front of me so that I can navigate joyously that next section of my life smoothly. Ease and grace on the river are greatly amplified when I take a moment and set myself up for success for the next undertaking. Chaos and discomfort are sometimes the immediate result when I fail to make desirable adjustments, apparent in the moment, that increase the likelihood of success in the long run.

In terms of prosperity consciousness, the choices we make now set up the situations we will face in the near-term future and will impact our long-term future. If we study prosperity principles now, we set ourselves up for more prosperity in the near term and increase the chances of experiencing abundance in the long run. If we study something else, or decide to stay home and watch TV, then we need to be aware in that moment of the impact that choice makes on the next set of choices we will face.

When I was in college, as a Business Major, I once took a class in Italian Film because the time slot was perfect for my schedule, I needed a liberal arts elective and I thought the class would be interesting and easy. It seemed to be an ideal choice. However, I did not realize that it was a class only for Italian majors. Every word spoken in class, and in the films shown, was in Italian. My Italian goes no further than spaghetti and pizza. I stopped attending a few weeks after I realized the mistake and considered myself fortunate to receive a D+ grade.

I did not feel prosperous having taken the class as it dragged my grade point average down and it was a total waste of my tuition money. I did not experience joyous prosperity in that classroom experience because of the poor decisions I made leading up to that moment and no amount of mind treatment was going to change the fact that I did not prepare for an optimum outcome. Even though Italian Film was offered at the right time, it was the wrong class for me. I could have tried to be present to the joy in the moment and continued in the class, but it was not helping me in my long-term direction and pretending otherwise would not have resulted in acceptance of the moment. Instead my awareness of the moment would have been dulled by my denial of how remaining in the class impacted the rest of my choices.

One of our iconic and idealic images of someone being in the moment is the fly fisherman, casting his line into a beautiful pool of water on a remote scenic river. Trust me, he chose that river, and chose that spot, and chose the time of day and the fly that he was using and the waders he is wearing. A lot of practice went into that perfect cast of the fly. Not one aspect of his experience is random or accidental. The fly fisherman experiences bliss only to the extent that he is casting into the right spot with the right fly at the right time on the right river. So, in living a prosperous life, we are aware in each moment of the present moment, the near term moment and the long term moment. Our awareness includes being on the right river, heading the right direction and being in the right spot. This then is the full awareness that leads to true bliss.