This morning’s telejam session doing The Work, for anyone and everyone from all over the world, was so touching. Several people sent $10 and some sent more….which feels so generous (and it’s OK if you have nada, that’s what these sessions are for–I will be offering them every month).
We filled out a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet on one specific situation unique to our own lives, a situation we’re not liking so much.
The most simple place to start this work is on a difficult relationship with someone. It can be anyone.
Your co-worker who’s sooooo annoying you go down the other hallway when you see her coming. Your father when you phone home and he hands the phone immediately over to your mom and hardly says a word. That boyfriend you kinda liked but who disappeared. Your brother who beat you up when you were both kids.
Pick anyone in your life, and you probably have an opinion about them. Maybe not so stressful, especially if they’re mostly a stranger….although even a stranger can incite serious rage in some people. (I can’t believe that guy just cut me off! Jerk!)
Tomorrow morning, we’re starting a course for six weeks together to dig into some of these kinds of beliefs about the human race.
I usually don’t send an email twice in one day, but I’m making sure you know we’ve got space. There’s only four folks and we’re on. Write me if you absolutely cannot afford the fee ($297) because maybe this is the time for some financial help so you can question your stress around people.
I’ll guide you through filling out the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, slowly considering what thoughts need to be written on that thing, how to work with what’s bothering you in any given situation.
Family member, spouse, partner, guy you’re dating, neighbor, that woman who works in your building, your boss….
….come bring your beliefs about this person to this course, so you can investigate more deeply rather than just believing what you think (which hurts).
I noticed, when on my own, I did The Work only sometimes, I rarely sat still for the full length of an inquiry, I got so much more out of it when I gathered with at least one other person.
“An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering.” ~ Byron Katie
Write me at email@example.com if you want “in”. I’ll send you all the information. Yes, you can listen to recordings if you miss a class. All you need is a phone or skype, or computer to connect.
Time to address the thoughts you’ve carried maybe for a lifetime. This is a chance to see what happened in that situation you found so horrible, or aggravating, or sad. You can question the thoughts. You can wonder if they’re true. You can find turnarounds.
Have you ever noticed there are good things about control AND bad things about control?
We often have a confusing relationship with control.
When someone is too controlling, we want to get away from them as fast as possible (or fight them). When someone is too out of control, we also want to get away from them (or pressure them to find some control).
We have the same kind of attitude towards ourselves as we have towards other people.
When “out” of control we humans do really self-defeating things like overeat, binge, give up in self-pity, drink, smoke, internet, overspend, push, break things, and get led by our emotions, depression or panic.
When “in” control in the extreme, humans act like dictators, completely self-centered, wanting to manage ourselves, the world or our families, partners, and friends… bossing everyone around, demanding our environment be different than it is, making rules, diets, regulations and laws.
The trouble is, we move back and forth between the two and have enormous difficulty finding a middle way, a balance between the two arenas.
Neither side is freedom, that’s for sure.
But what’s going on in this whole in or out of control thing?
What if we stopped reaching for something…whether more control, or less control in ourselves OR in other people?
“Eeeeeek!” you might cry.
I have to keep trying to gain control! I’ve got to figure out a plan! I’ve got to stick with the plan! I must get to this Other Better Place where at least I’m not so uncertain! I need to follow the rules! Why can’t I just control myself?!!?
But….once again you may notice when you act like this to yourself (a dictator) or with other people for that matter, it’s incredibly stressful, you can’t keep holding it together. You can’t keep running everything, and you actually start longing for a moment of being out of control. Just a little moment of not having to control your impulses.
In comes the idea to use a substance or activity to help you relax, let your guard down, do what you please for once. Eat. Drink. Etcetera.
Sigh. Still swinging between the two extremes. Rats.
“Alcohol, drugs, smoke–this is not the way we want to go….There is another way of becoming free of the conditioned mind that you inherited, that you came into this world with. The ego knows something is missing, but it looks in the wrong place. It never goes deep into life, into what is. It never looks in the present moment. It looks into the next moment for what we can add in order to make ourselves feel better. It believes there must be something missing here now. But whatever you achieve, you will find yourself back in the Now!” ~ Eckhart Tolle
OK. We know either side of Control isn’t satisfying, or liberating.
So how do I get to the present moment Eckhart so brilliantly talks about?
Begin by questioning your thoughts about control. Start where you are. Start here in this moment, with the thinking you notice you’re aware of.
“I should be in control (or I AM in control). I should be able to get in control, or able to control others. I am better off if I try to control myself. Having control in life is good. I must keep trying.”
Let’s do The Work. Let’s look closely.
Is it true that you should be in control of yourself, or that you actually are?
Of course it’s true! Just look at all the suffering I’ve experienced by being out of control! It would be horrible to stop trying. Which is what would happen if I let go.
Are you sure?
Are you absolutely positive you need to keep trying to gain some control, do it different, strive to “get” there? Are you positive control is somewhere, and you can find it? Are you sure you’re actually able to control something, even if it’s just yourself?
Well, I do see that the very act of trying to get somewhere, even to remain in the present moment, has a “trying” energy. Trying to understand, trying to find peace, trying to relax, trying to do it right. It seems like I can control things like yelling at someone–I can keep my emotions hidden, I can suppress my big reactions. Right?
I’m not sure about this idea that having control is “good”. I don’t know if it is. This is confusing. I can’t answer “yes”.
How do you react when you think you need to control yourself better, or more, or differently? And that you CAN?
I’ve worked with many clients over the years on their eating issues.
Once, a woman said to me she was in control in every single area of life except eating. She was a go-getter. She ran her own company. She was a marathon runner. She had enormous success and made tons of money. But she couldn’t control herself from eating sugar. She continuously had applied more pressure, and spent many days “in control” only to fall off. She had to fix this.
It’s a tough project.
There’s always another method, another diet, another plan, another approach, another book. Reaching, straining.
“This is going to be the Big Kahuna. I’m going to have a windfall, make a zillion dollars, find the perfect partner….be the perfect weight or have the perfect relationship with food and eating.”
Question four in The Work is the powerful, crazy, mind-blowing question that helps you get off this train-track of deciding what’s right or wrong all the time:
Who are you without these thoughts about the need to find control somewhere? Without the thought that you’re actually IN control, or could be?
What? No control……anywhere?
This question is not about entering despair and resignation, it’s worse than that. (Ha ha).
For me, this question moves into contemplating the curious place of complete and absolute lack of control, total surrender. “Bone crushing surrender” as the wonderful teacher Adyashanti calls it.
It’s like falling through the air, and instead of flailing about trying to get upright, you just….fall. You go limp. Nothing left to try, or do. No different way. No way out. No solution.
But you don’t even have to totally “get” this. You can just open up to using the imagination to wonder what it would be like to stop trying to control yourself or your eating or your life circumstances right in this moment, and yet notice….you’re still right here. Alive.
Let’s turn these crazy thoughts around:
“I should not be in control (and actually, I’m not). I should not be able to get in control, and not able to control others. I am better off if I stop trying to control myself. Having no control in life is good. I must stop trying.”
How could this be just as true, or truer?
“On the surface, the illusion of control makes us feel safe and able to create a life for ourselves of comfort and security, manipulating our lives based on what we think we need. Yet, in actuality, we have no such control. Still, the illusion of it is amazing in its design and its complexity, because after all, almost every human being falls for it. Almost every human being thinks, ‘I’m in control of my life’ except when times get really difficult….We can spend a whole lifetime trying to exercise this sense of control that we don’t really have.” ~ Falling Into Grace by Adyashanti
I know looking at the turnarounds in this particular situation isn’t the conventional way of hope. It doesn’t give pep talks about gaining control.
But what if you didn’t have to be “out” of control when you had no control?
What if you could feel peace, and have no control, at the very same time?
What if part of what pains you about trying to manage compulsive behavior, or any behavior you don’t like about yourself that you notice you engage in (like over-eating or eating the “wrong” food for example)….is treating yourself like you’re a major problem to be solved?
All I know is, when I gave up trying to find control (very imperfectly) I could become more interested and curious about what was actually going on with me and my stressful thinking (and for me, eating).
When I became curious about my thoughts, and what they were, and where they came from, and was far more friendly with them instead of trying to get rid of them….
….intense behavior, like over-consuming, stopped being so appealing.
“When you stop struggling, stop suffering, stop pushing and pulling yourself….stop manipulating and controlling, when you actually relax and listen to the truth of what is there, something bigger than your fear will catch you.” ~ Geneen Roth in Women, Food and God
If you’re curious about understanding control and letting go of it without careening “out” of control, and most especially if you suffer from eating woes (but any compulsion applies) then join me tonight in a free webinar about getting off what I call the “Control Wagon”.
Maybe more willpower isn’t what you need.
Maybe looking very, very closely at your stories and stressful beliefs without trying to change is a different way. And a more peaceful one.
Click this link to get all the dial-in and connection information in your Inbox. I will record it and send it out tomorrow morning if you can’t join us live.
Someone wrote to me saying she really wanted to find out more about the Eating Peace Retreat in California but the link didn’t work.
“What link?” I wrote back.
Well….turns out that would be ALL the links basically from when I created the facebook event, several different posts on facebook, the “how to register” pretty link (a way to shorten links) inside one of these Grace Notes.
So you see, I had updated my actual webpage with all the retreat information, and decided to shorten (forgetting this would CHANGE) the title and name of that page.
So everywhere I had previously posted information about the retreat now led to an old webpage name, which no longer existed.
I actually sent out announcements…..Hi everyone! Sign up right here!
With a link that if you clicked it….you got an error message saying the page did not exist.
(Did I WANT no one to find the page? What the…?)
I just made my airplane reservations. I’m going! There are enough people registered that I’m all in! There’s no way it will be canceled bar some unforeseen death and dismemberment situation. Or, OK, there are sometimes other reasons a little less dark and drastic for cancellations, but you get my point.
So….I knew to do The Work (after calling myself a dunce) and I allowed the thoughts to come forward.
Have you ever forgotten something at work, or at home, or lost something super important, or made a mistake, or broken something, or did something on the computer that turned out to create a problem, or hit your thumb with a hammer?
What was your immediate reaction?
You are an idiot!
You shouldn’t do this by yourself
Why don’t you get help for these types of details?
What’s wrong with you?
I’m not good enough, organized enough, strong enough, smart enough, big enough, financially sound enough to hire someone–see bullet #1
But if I paused, and got off the I-Screwed-Up ferris wheel, all of these thoughts point most fundamentally to one underlying assumption.
Posting the “incorrect” web page was bad.
Let’s do The Work.
Is that true, that having the wrong web page link out there on the internet was bad?
How on earth could that be good?
(Why I oughta….I’m trying to run a business here! People need to read about the retreats I’m offering! Are you nuts??!)
But are you sure? Can you absolutely know it was HORRIBLE and worth yelling at yourself like you committed a crime?
Uh, now that I really think about it….no.
I have no idea if it was bad!
The answer is “no”. Not absolutely true.
Who would I be without this belief that I made a mistake, the web page should have existed, I shouldn’t have put in the “wrong” link….or that it even WAS the wrong link?
(Ha ha, that’s funny….it wasn’t the wrong link…..that is HILARIOUS).
But really. Without the belief it was?
I notice it’s still a month until this retreat. It’s OK, people are coming, I’ve got my plane tickets, planning is underway, quite a few more people are considering attending, it may sell out.
Nothing terrible is happening.
Before the thought, sitting in my warm living room basking in the glow of inquiry after a beautiful afternoon with the private monthly in-person group who just left.
After the thought (after receiving the message), sitting in my warm living room, still basking, and now my mom is there for supper and my husband has brought delicious food.
Turning the thought around: posting the “incorrect” internet page is NOT terrible…..it’s….wonderful? Seriously?
But let’s look.
How could it be at least OK, and no big deal, that the non-existent link was posted?
I’ve already noticed how nothing bad is happening. At all. That’s pretty big all in itself.
Someone wrote to me, and asked.
Reality offered correction, without me having to handle it—it was brought to my attention with zero effort on my part.
Kinda nice to know I didn’t have to be vigilant, or in charge, for the link to be spotlighted.
You know? Now that I think about it….it’s pretty awesome that the idea of the eating peace retreat was so appealing to a total stranger who found it on the internet, that she bothered to look me up and message me on facebook and ask how to get more info because the link she clicked was broken.
Most of all, the reason it’s awesome this happened is I get to notice when I think something was a mistake, and I did it, it feels off and kinda mean the way I have a heart-attack and call myself names…..
…..and I’m here to enjoy myself and this astonishing life full of love, and joy, and sorrow and change and silence.
I’m here to love and deeply appreciate this moment right here, right now, with all its mistakes and faux pas and dork-faced reactions and being human.
It’s so much more fun falling in love with myself, a human being, than constantly wishing I were different, like a non-mistake-maker.
Isn’t what I always want happening in the center of this supposed “error”?
The feeling of absolute freedom, to not “have to” do anything, to not “have to” remain in control, to freely make mistakes and readjustments, to feel an inner life of….Peace, no matter what happens?
Right now, I am having a ball laughing at how things unfold like this—and waiting to see what other advantages come out of posting an incorrect link to the Eating Peace Retreat next month.
Can’t wait to find out!
Meanwhile….I hope the link right here, in this Grace Note today, works.
But if it doesn’t, oh goodie! (Ha ha!) Hit reply and ask me anything you’re wondering about. Happy to help in whatever way I can.
“We are constantly trying to hold it all together. If you really want to see why you do things, then don’t do them and see what happens.” ~ Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul
Not long ago, someone asked me “why do you do what you do?”
Really, this question has been one of the most powerful in my life.
It’s driven me to understand why I did crazy things like binge-eat or drink, to study philosophy, go to graduate school, read volumes of books, pay for expert help, seek answers to my insanity and crazy thinking, and eventually led me to learn The Work….
….which somehow has stuck and offered profound clarity in so many areas.
The answer to “why” I do what I do has been pretty selfish for the most part.
I wanted to end my suffering.
I did addictive escapist things to end my momentary suffering of anxiety or sadness. I quit jobs to end my suffering of feeling like a slave. I pursued knowledge or connections with people to end my suffering in loneliness or fear of abandonment. I traveled and didn’t stay in one place to end my suffering in fear of intimacy, or boredom. I enrolled in educational experiences to end my suffering of feeling worthless or unable to help.
I’ve gone to business trainings and spiritual teachers to find success in the area of service and peace, and end my fear of failure or a pointless future.
But what would it be like to live and do things and create or pursue or be busy and have a super full schedule and talk to many people and travel all around and learn lots of new stuff or even sit in silent meditation on retreat….
….without suffering being involved?
Never thought of that before.
Why would you do The Work, for example, if you weren’t really bugged, or upset, or worried, or sad?
I realized, the other day, not being super troubled has still offered a window or pathway into The Work, as long as I’m interested in wondering if something’s true or not.
It’s like the suffering is either very mild, and maybe not even there, but I find I still have a strong opinion, a sharp judgment, a flash of thinking something like “he should get a job” even if I also don’t know if he should get a job and basically also don’t care (in a good way).
The Work offers great questions to contemplate, I realized along the way, on anything.
Any thought. Any feeling.
So let’s do a lighter concept today, or at least, it feels like I forget about it and don’t really care for the most part, but it still occurs to me from time to time when it comes to life.
So….here it comes….wait for it….
….there isn’t enough time.
I’m limited in years here on planet earth. I’m in my fifties. I’m only just hitting my stride. I should have started meditation in my teens, I should have started my own business in my twenties. I want to live to see my children’s children’s children and it probably won’t happen. I want to see what amazing things will happen with our natural world and humans and technology.
I should have….
Is it true?
Are you sure there’s not enough time?
How do you react when you think this thought?
I feel so temporary. I feel like it took me so long to get here. So much wasted time on suffering and believing stressful thoughts and reacting and freaking out and withdrawing and hiding and seeking pleasure or escape and having a really contentious relationship with this life and reality.
Now my relationship with reality is actually feeling pretty wonderful, even though there’s still suffering in the world and in my life, I just don’t feel the agony of it all.
How amazing to even be able to say that.
Why couldn’t I have relaxed earlier in life?
I need more time!
Who would you be without this thought?
It’s such a persistent and goofy story.
Obviously, everyone is here only for a while. No one has unlimited time. Ever.
I’ve already found how I wouldn’t give up one single horrendous moment of war within because of the truce or freedom it led me to eventually. Many difficulties led to something far greater than I could have imagined.
Thank God, thank goodness, thank Reality.
I turn the thought around: There’s enough time. More than enough time.
This much I have is just right, plenty. Perfect.
Couldn’t this be just as true, or truer? What are examples?
Well….it seems reality has it that we are here for one life time, however long or short that is.
We do not live in this body forever. Why would I miss the natural flow of things?
I also notice, I’ve had every experience at the core that can be had: loss, pain, sickness, death, surrender, awareness, maturing, acceptance, love, birth, curiosity, no idea what’s going on, sorrow, joy. Nothing’s actually missing.
I am. Time is not necessary.
“Love says ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says ‘I am nothing’. Between the two my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both….What is perfect, returns to the source of all perfection and the opposites play on.” ~ Nisargadatta in I Am That
With the body, the easiest place to begin is simply with writing your beliefs down about the body on a Judge Your Body worksheet, especially if you haven’t inquired into your stressful thoughts about being physical before.
But if you HAVE inquired into something you don’t like about being physical and having a body in your condition, something you feel threatened by about the body….
….step two is to really sit and contemplate why.
Why am I upset that I’m sick?
Why am I troubled, or terrified of being injured, or not feeling high energy?
What would I have, if I had that perfect dream condition I am so sure is best for me?
I often spend some time on this in Eating Peace retreats, or in Eating Peace Telecourses.
We want the body to look different, to look more attractive, thin, smooth, muscular.
We want to look like we’re in great physical condition.
WHY would that be soooooo fabulous?
Here’s what I’ve found reveals itself:
I want to look good (thin, athletic, young) because….people will find me attractive. People will want to spend time with me. People won’t abandon me. People will think I’ve got something they want, and therefore stay closely associated.
I will be accepted, and acceptable. I will not be criticized by people. I won’t make people uncomfortable. People will think I’m cool.
You might not care what other people think generally, but you may care about one particular person’s perspective of you, or you may care about the opinion of your mother when you were twelve. Just saying.
Let yourself consider when in your lifetime you cared about physical appearance, and why.
And if you really don’t care if you look like a frog, or a weird. alien from another planet, but you still notice you feel some kind of attachment to your body being healthy, young, energetic, pain-free…..
…..you can still wonder why you want that?
Where did you learn this was better than something else?
Do you ever reach that completely “better” or perfect condition?
I chuckle at Byron Katie’s laughter as she says “you’ll get the body just perfect, and then you get hit by a bus!”
Who would you be without the belief that improvement is necessary?
Some people say….OH NO!!!!
If I don’t have the drive to improve, I’ll sit around on my couch and eat ice cream all day, never go to the gym or lift a finger, and never go to the doctor for any reason, whatsoever.
Are you sure?
I love the drama of that thought.
Detachment suddenly means doing absolutely nothing, and not even imagining you might WANT to do something.
You couldn’t possibly do something because it’s fun, or you love it, it brings you great pleasure, or it’s just what happens when you aren’t in control. It’s like we swing all the way to total detachment, no caring for anything, ever, including getting up.
At least, that’s the mind’s view of things. We must have discipline, willpower, drive, total control….or give up to resignation and despair.
Dictator or Victim.
Who would you be without these extreme polar opposites?
Who would you be right now, in this moment, without the belief your body is wrong, declining, ill, ugly, or too heavy?
“That is not you in your head, that’s an image. As you witness your imagination, you’re devastated. Who would you be without your thoughts? Without those false images? They’re cartoons! It’s a dramatic movie! I invite you to notice the difference between reality and imagination. Are you OK right now? Are you breathing? Everything OK? Other than what you’re thinking and believing, life is really good. We’re so busy with the horror movie, we don’t look at reality. Reality is always kinder than the story.” ~ Byron Katie
The other example of a living turnaround yesterday was…..me.
I led a retreat online, with people dialing in using their phones or computers, for three hours about questioning love stories that hurt.
I shared my biggest painful love story of divorce (that has turned into a blessing).
You know what the living turnaround is?
That I was leading a Valentine’s Prep Day retreat online, where people came from all across the United States, Europe, Australia….
….and this is what I do for a living now.
I join with others to question stressful thoughts.
I get messages like these….both of which I also received in emails yesterday:
Thanks Grace. Really enjoyed this retreat. What a beautiful way to start the Valentine’s Weekend (or any weekend…..it’s only my stories telling me that there is something different /special about Valentine’s weekend). Will be a much more relaxed and pleasant weekend after doing The Work today. So I guess it *IS* a special weekend afterall! I so love YOU and doing The Work with you….THANKS!!! ~ Florida
Thank you Grace, You are a true teacher, the real deal.
I love having found you! ~ Italy
I had the thought….wow….
….it’s bragging to share these beautiful comments.
But my life is full of these kinds of expressions of love now. Full of thoughtful, incredible people so sincere about questioning their suffering.
Who would you be if you lived one of your turnarounds?
If you opened up to the thing that happened, that incident, that relationship….
….could now morph into something spectacular, or new?
I was once on staff at a School for The Work and was partnered with a woman who was very distraught about a horrible tragedy in her life.
She had been the driver of a car, on a family vacation, and the tires had suddenly blown out (they were later recalled for all these types of vehicles) causing the SUV to flip wildly off the road.
The accident killed her husband, one of her daughters, and the best friend of her other daughter.
In her path of healing, at a future point in her life, she founded an organization to help people handle the shock of sudden death, including helping firefighters and police officers deliver shocking news to families after accidents.
I cried with her, as we did The Work together, as she undid the terrible pain one level further.
We could both already see, in that inquiry, how stunning it was to see what came out of what seemed awful. It was something helpful to humanity, to her community.
She’s an inspiration to people of overcoming accidental death and living an incredible life beyond beliefs about how reality should be.
Just like Debra Ruh, the woman I spoke with on Peace Talk.
Now….my own experiences have never been so dramatic.
But I certainly never could have dreamed I’d get to question my thinking, talk with other truly powerful people on a daily basis, or have three hours fly by while asking and answering questions, and turning suffering around into blessings.
What turnaround are you living right now?
Meditate on what it might look like, if you did turn what you’re imagining around.
Let it come in as an idea, an inspirational thought.
You don’t have to know right now….let it come to you.
Let it take as long as it takes.
“To exclude anything that appears in your universe is not love. Love joins with everything. It doesn’t exclude the monster. It doesn’t avoid the nightmare–it looks forward to it.” ~ Byron Katie
“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” ~ Ben Okri
Last night there were emails flying around about a celebration my family gathers for every year that extends from many generations back.
It’s called Easter.
It’s a super fun and meaningful time of gathering.
Somehow the true, deep spirit of spring, renewed life, starting fresh, the promise of growth, revitalization, rebirth, returning warmth, resurrection out of suffering….and family connecting together in a really loving way, all show up in this day for me.
I also love something I found out at some point in my forties that completely surprised me.
Easter, every year, is determined by the moon.
When I heard it, I said something like….that can’t be right?
Easter is figured out every year by the first full moon after the spring equinox?
That sounds too astrological or earthy or something. Too ancient.
Are you pulling my leg?
It’s true, though.
Easter is the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox (the change from winter to spring on March 21st). Jewish passover is the first full moon after the vernal equinox. I know there’s all kinds of information about Julian calendars and Gregorian calendars and proposals to always make Easter the Second Sunday of April and many other ideas about the date of the holiday….
….but I was startled by something that up to that point it seemed so laid out in stone about What We Do and What We Believe (from my church growing up)….
….being determined by the moon.
The moon is part of a natural, wild world far beyond humans. It’s there and we study it, explore it, wonder about it.
It feels entirely mysterious.
I guess I never noticed how the date jumped around to various spring-ish Sundays while growing up.
I was like the moon as a child, as so many of us are.
The number of the date doesn’t really matter. That’s not what we’re celebrating. The calendar simply marks something as the time it happened.
It brought to my attention a place I was potentially wrong about my childhood religion.
I had thoughts about how mind-and-rules-and-commandment oriented it all was…..but this was evidence to the contrary!
So once again, next month my family is celebrating Easter together for a whole day the way we’ve been doing for ages.
And it turns out, the Abundance, Desire and The Work Retreat I accidentally scheduled for that very same weekend.
I wouldn’t have known until a third person said they couldn’t make it, and really wanted to, and calendar checking occurred, and these discoveries.
It caused a thought or two to flicker through my mind, like a racehorse.
You should have checked the dates better. You’re no good at scheduling. Didn’t you say you were going to hire administrative help this year? What’s the hold up? Can’t you do anything right? Maybe you should just cancel altogether. You’re already doing the April Eating Peace retreat. Jeez.
Have you ever noticed that voice says “you” like it’s talking TO YOU?
This is a fascinating thing to notice.
Who is that voice, anyway?
Where is it coming from?
I’ve noticed all my life….it doesn’t feel entirely like it’s me. I feel like the one hearing it.
At the Mental Cleanse about six weeks ago, a beautiful young woman got up in the chair on stage, with Byron Katie, to question her thoughts.
She had a very mean, vicious voice in her head and the thoughts she had written down were about this horrible, troubling voice.
She said it had a male gender.
By the end of the inquiry session doing The Work, Katie and this woman were laughing about the Voice.
I don’t mean to make light of this very difficult and VERY frightening experience, to have a violent or mean voice dictating and shouting at you from within your own mind….
….but how astonishing to be able to hear it as the voice of something that is not out to destroy you, but to find out more about what it wants, what it means, what it’s saying.
To actually be open to listening to it.
There was a moment between Katie and the young woman, where Katie suggested to her after some dialogue and awareness and insights….
….Doesn’t this make it easier, to invite the voice in rather than be so terrified of it and want it destroyed? Then, if it says for you to break your arm, (or something “mean” like that), you can say back “Easy for you to say, you don’t have a body!”
I loved it.
You get to treat that critical voice like it’s your neurotic friend, trying his best, doing his best to help bring peace to your situation.
Rather than take on the very same energy of trying to kill it, suppress it, shut it up forever.
Isn’t that approach, after all, WAR?
When you hate your own critical voice, or try to help other people stop theirs, then you’re treating these voices like they treat you.
So maybe the voice in my head is helping me realize….
….I really could use some administrative support and to stop thinking I need to do it all myself.
And reminding me to lighten up, everything is OK and just write to the people already enrolled and see if they can make a switch.
Why not? These things go imperfectly sometimes.
Which is actually what this whole Abundance, Desire and The Work Retreat is truly all about.
It goes like this…..
I have a vision. It’s in the future. I want that condition, thing, person, situation, clarity, dream, adventure.
I want money, a soul mate, enlightenment, restored health, a youthful body, wealth, glory, fame, success, to be thin, to be free.
Usually in my life, I have an urge to go get it.
I start to run towards the thing.
It looks like THAT (see image in head of wonderful thing in the future). It looks like a perfect retreat, on those perfect dates, with the perfect people showing up in the perfect numbers.
But now….instead of simply assuming it’s true, that it’s what I really want, it’s my desired destination, it’s the end goal….
….we can explore a little, instead.
What will this vision bring me, when I have it?
What else would I have, if I had it?
What would I no longer have, if I had that future desired thing?
What would “abundance” really feel like, look like, smell like, taste like…..
Anything can be the focus of desire.
Even “awakening” and a mind that works differently, one without a critical voice, for example.
But who would you be without the belief that you can only feel that ultimate pleasure, success, abundance, clarity, love, bliss, joy or peace WITH that condition you’re dreaming of?
It’s strange for the mind to contemplate.
….how brilliant to consider who I am without the thought I need “x” to fulfill me.
At the Abundance and Desire and The Work Retreat, everyone gets to identify that thing they want, and not give it up, or try to get rid of it, or live without it, or pretend you don’t want it.
Instead, you get to see why you want it, what you expect, and what you think’s missing right now, that this other thing would improve.
You get to track your thoughts, but even more profound….
….you get to see how you want to feel.
You get to give yourself the gift of feeling, maybe even in the now.
You get to feel, and be, what you want, or get a sense of opening up to the joy of desire as a practice, rather than experiencing desire as sad, frustrating, or wrong.
In the past, I felt so embarrassed about wanting money so much, when I had so little.
Ick, how can I write a worksheet on money and how much I believe it would help me feel secure, safe, proud, powerful, cared for and solid?
It turned out, the conflict within was the thing that really hurt the most. The resistance to my own desires, and trying to kill the voice that said “I want!”
Slowing down to take a look at the image desired in the future, and the associated feelings, and inquiring deeply….
….allowed me to see the peace always possible in the present.
To make friends with reality, to feel the support of Now.
Isn’t that what Loving What Is, is all about?
And the fun thing is….
….feeling abundance, joy, bliss, love and peace right now only brings more of it.
If you’re curious about what blocks your own freedom, peace or love….
….if you want to meet your desire with friendliness, not upset….
….join me next month in Seattle at my cute Goldilocks Cottage Friday evening March 18 through Sunday 4:30 pm March 20. ($295 for the whole weekend).
Join me next month in Seattle at my cute Goldilocks Cottage, Friday evening March 18 through Sunday March 20. New dates! New location! If you’re traveling from out of town, I can give you recommendations of places to stay, and there may be others who would enjoy having you at their home. There’s also some sleeping bag space in Goldilocks Cottage. Commuters can carpool.
You might even discover what you thought happened, like the way Easter has been scheduled for thousands of years……didn’t.
Exciting! Hands clapping! Now!
“There is no here, no there; infinity is right before your eyes.” ~ Seng-Ti’an
Wow, I feel superb after the joyous Eating Peace Retreat.
I get so filled up with joy and connection when I’m on retreat with other people.
Especially through witnessing people slow down, enter silence, and make friends with their minds by questioning their thoughts.
Especially stressful thoughts about eating, consumption, reaching for the *thing* or *activity* that will make things better.
Especially stressful thoughts about memories that enter and re-enter our present moment, unresolved.
So fast, so speedy, so tricky our thoughts about things-that-make-us-feel-better.
They zip by like wildfire, don’t they?
One minute, you’re happy and minding your own business….
….the next, you’re sure that things could be improved if only….
….(fill in the blank with your favorite obsession).
Often, the focus of the attention has a down side.
To put it mildly.
But for this temporary better feeling….
….something inside is whispering, or screaming….
….it’s worth it!
Do it. Get it. Eat it. Chase it.
GO GO GO!!!!
And we do.
And then, that same mind starts to scream again….
….”What’d you do that for! You’re an idiot! Can’t you get this right? Following your obsession or compulsive behavior is NOT WORKING. How many times do we have to go over this?!!”
Yeah, it’s that supportive. (NOT).
I’ve sure you’ve noticed.
The thing is, the self-hatred and blame only keeps the whole thing going in a big vicious cycle.
So what if you just stopped for a second, and wondered….
….what would you have to stay with, or face, or sit still with, or notice, or feel (that’s a key piece, right there–what you would have to feel)….
….if you didn’t chase or reach for that thing that seems to help?
What would you actually feel, without your band-aid?
Wow, the way I used to feel is like my head was going to explode, my insides were turning inside out and a raw ragged desperate pain might destroy me.
I felt fear, terrible grief, panic, rage.
It felt like there was an ocean of feelings on the inside of me and I might crawl out of my skin….or die….unless I Did Something.
Eat, drink, smoke, move, think.
Many years later, when on my first long meditation retreat in total silence….
….the skin crawling feeling reappeared.
Long time no see! I was hoping you were gone forever!
I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was tied in knots, I couldn’t hold still very well in between meditation sessions, and it seemed like my thoughts were literally yelling at the top of their lungs inside my skull in the meditation hall.
I was so nervous about the silence.
Every nightmare I’d ever thought might be true ran through my mind.
Great, I thought.
Just what I wanted.
And I thought I was here to relax.
Thanks a lot, MIND!!!
I HATED my mind, even though I had not taken a super self-harmful drink, bite or smoke of something in order to escape my feelings in quite a few years.
But I HAD stayed very busy, worked a lot, obsessed about getting things done, worried, signed up for self-improvement classes, read a ton of books, and hardly tolerated a moment of silence.
When Silence surrounded me, I was frightened.
So on Eating Peace Retreat, that’s what we do.
We eat in silence, together.
We feel what’s really true.
That we’re in a body that needs just that much food for fuel, and no more.
We can handle the rest of our cravings in another way.
That thing you find truly disturbing? That incident from your childhood, or last year?
The way life unfolds, when it isn’t pleasant?
The only thing I ever find that addresses these experiences like a lazer is self-inquiry.
With other people, gathering together to do The Work helps even more.
You’re supported and you don’t feel alone and isolated.
Someone can be there to say….I know it feels like you can’t handle it, but you can.
Have you noticed?
Except for your thoughts, are you OK right now?
“Most of the time we’re either trying to ignore a want (which only makes the want grow) or we’re indulging the want. Deeply accepting the want is the middle way. Between rejecting and indulging lies SEEING–and allowing, and finding freedom in even the most uncomfortable places.” ~ Jeff Foster in The Deepest Acceptance
On my meditation retreat that first time in silence, I wanted to think incessantly about myself and about life, and I was fighting fiercely about myself and about life.
What if you just let all the thinking, your addiction to thinking, your addiction to wanting to understand what’s going on around here, your urge to Know….
You mean, it’s perfectly OK to have this busy mind?
I am willing to be driven crazy by my own thoughts. I look forward to being driven crazy by my own thoughts.
Awareness is all that is necessary to dissolve…..everything.
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.” ~ Tao Te Ching #74
As I prepare to go into retreat today, I pause a moment this morning and think…..I love I get to do this for the next three days.
I can’t wait to meet the people traveling, some on airplanes, some with long drives all the way to rainy Seattle.
Everything’s ready to go.
But I woke up extra early, my mind busy about a whole bunch of things not even related to this retreat.
I was reflecting on a very dear inquiry by someone in the Year of Inquiry group.
Because I was feeling it, on the edge of my morning.
I was wondering about this thought myself.
He doesn’t care about me.
We’ve all thought that at one time or another. Not an uncommon human thought. At all.
We think this sometimes about God, Source, Reality, the Mystery.
It doesn’t care about me!
You’re certainly not considered weird to think it, that’s for dang sure. You’re considered normal.
But….it’s a pretty weird thought.
When I was thinking it just awhile ago, it came in only because someone I know has not emailed me back. We haven’t connected in a very long time on skype or phone.
At one time, we had a lot of really good, deep conversations.
And now…..no response even when I do reach out.
Mind kicks in and concludes, because of silence….he doesn’t care about me.
You might have this belief float through because of other actions, besides silence or lack of communication. You might have had a more “obvious” slight, or criticism. You might feel you’re going through really hard times and upset with Reality.
What a good thought to question today.
He doesn’t care about you.
Are you sure it’s true?
What happens when you believe someone doesn’t care about you?
I notice I feel worried, clingy, nervous, wondering. Maybe I try to forget about them. Maybe I try to distract myself. In my situation this morning, it swings through my thoughts, and I know I’m not going to take any action (like email again) right now, but I might feel a little whisper of resentment.
No biggie really.
But if I really look closely, I also see an incident in the past where there was tension between us.
It never got fully resolved inside of me. I felt kinda hurt back then.
Something changed in the relationship.
What happens when I believe “he doesn’t care about me?”
I try to skip over the hurtful moment between us. I want it to go back to the way it used to be. I feel sad. I feel insecure.
Who would I be, though, if I couldn’t think the thought “he doesn’t care about me” as I remember him upon waking up this morning?
Even with other memories flashing through of good times, as well as difficult moments in conversation. Especially that one time he said some things that hurt.
Who would I be without the belief that silence means he doesn’t care?
Who would I be without the belief that even God doesn’t care about me?
Lighter, I notice.
Not trying to solve it like it’s a problem.
Letting the silence permeate, which is so sweet and easy and beautiful.
Suddenly aware, I don’t ever need him to return my email. Ever.
Turning the thought around:
He does care about me.
Yes, I know.
Even if he never writes to me again, and I never see him again. He lives a long ways away, after all. I notice that contact with him is certainly not required for a beautiful life.
I turn the thought around again: I don’t care about him. I don’t care about myself, the minute I start thinking about him like something’s missing and he doesn’t care.
I miss the quiet of the morning. I miss the truth that we have no idea what will happen, in any relationship.
I miss the way of it….that most relationships ebb and flow like the tide. No bodies ever stay together 24/7 for cryin’ out loud, that’s for sure. No people need to communicate constantly, regularly, non-stop. No one needs to say things exactly as I demand to hear them, or in the timing I prefer.
That would be weird.
Could it be the amount of communicating is just right, in my situation with my old friend? With anyone?
Can I also notice the exquisite beauty of my daughter coming into the living room saying with joy that one of her favorite artists has just released a new song? Hearing the wind chimes outside in the dark morning. Feeling the soft cream-colored couch under my legs. Feeling happy about this retreat starting in two hours with wonderful souls I will soon know better.
Maybe this is God, or Reality, communicating with me.
Drop the “maybe”.
Ha ha, yes.
“You are quaffing drink from a hundred fountains: whenever any of these hundred yields less, your pleasure is diminished. But when the sublime fountain gushes from within you, no longer need you steal from the other fountains.” ~ Rumi
What exactly is meant by “limiting” beliefs (and why assume it’s a good idea to get rid of them, or change them)?
What is this word “limited” and what do we really mean when we’re saying there are beliefs that could be described this way?
First, there are “beliefs”. I’ve come to see them as patterns or waves or sparks of thought that repeat themselves.
Poof, poof, poof.
They pop up like little fountains and rotate back and cycle around and get revisited over and over, appear and reappear.
Maybe we heard them many times from other people. We learned them, read them, received them somewhere.
The way I’m believing or thinking or perceiving, when it’s limited, brings me a sense of fear, or worry, or slight anxiety, or hesitation, or sadness or disappointment or depression or absence of any other options.
I look at life, when limited, and my feelings are “Oh No!” or “you screwed up” or “this was a mistake” or “uh-oh” or “RRUUUUNNNNN!”
We’ve all felt that moment when viewing our own situations or lives where we think happiness is simply not possible in that circumstance.
In that situation, there is definitely a problem.
There are limited options, limited ways to approach it.
There are LIMITS.
You know what I mean? I mean, seriously.
Here is the edge, and you can’t go past it. No other way around it.
You are limited by a lifetime, for example. You’re born, you grow, you die.
Being in a human body is limited.
Yes. It’s. True.
What if instead of thinking you have to change your limiting beliefs you didn’t know for a sec.
Are they “your” limiting beliefs?
Are you sure your mind is not working up to par, or the best way possible?
Are you sure you actually DO believe these thoughts in the first place, just because they reappear on a regular basis?
Are you sure these limiting beliefs are so important, or you have to stop thinking them, in order to be happy?
Are you sure this thing….called a limit….is really unfortunate?
(Like your lifespan, for example)?
Who would you be without the belief that you have to change your limiting beliefs in order to be happy?
I know I’ve just posed a LOT of questions.
But….is it kind of fun?
Wow, I find it kinda spacious.
Kind of hilarious, to be honest.
Less work, that’s for sure.
Noticing how interested I am in questioning, investigating, wondering about the world and about life.
I couldn’t stop being curious if I wanted to, it’s totally fun to look and stare at everything and take it in with astonishment and fascination.
I notice right here, in this moment, there’s probably a war happening in several places in the world. There’s famine, and suffering, and people hating themselves.
Right in this moment, there’s horrible weather, and injury, sickness, anger, addiction and death.
Even with all the history of humanity as it is, and the violence that occurs here, apparently, and my small pin-head glasses of one tiny brain on the planet looking through the eyes of one human…..
…..who would I actually be without the belief I’ve got to change these limiting beliefs, and that they are MINE?
If I turn around the thought…..curious:
I do NOT have to change my limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs have to change me (thanks, limiting beliefs….you rock!)
I have to change….nothing.
What if it was truly OK for my mind to run off in all directions with the idea that I must change my thinking, and my mind is limited?
Maybe my mind IS limited.
Maybe any belief that’s running through it, at any given moment, is temporary and personal and basically….limited.
Perhaps there’s more here than “thinking” and “believing”.
Who would you be without your thought you need to stop thinking limiting thoughts?
Turning the thoughts around:
*I need to keep on thinking limiting thoughts and NEVER change them. Ha ha!
*Thoughts need to change me (it’s happening, every time I question my beliefs).
*Nothing needs to change. Ever.
I think things need to change all the time. That’s my constant motto. Changing things and waiting for things to change, and resisting change but hoping for change.
Sinking into Not Needing To Change Anything? (Including my beliefs)?
Now that’s a relief beyond relief.
“All difficulties are created in the mind, by the mind. All problems are imagined in the mind. The great liberating factor of this is…that nothing is necessary to change in the activity of the world in the body or the mind. It might show you more clearly what your true nature is, but anxiety and fear are just a response to who we think ourselves to be.” ~ Ramana Marharshi
What if what we think is a problem (our mental activity)….
Much love, Grace
P.S. Join me this coming weekend in Seattle (Friday through Sunday) to question your thoughts that just happen to be occurring when you’re eating in a weird way (or thinking in a weird way about eating). To register, click HERE.