Friday, May 12, 2017

Drop the BS and Be Something Great

We are living in crazy times don't you think? Does it feel like radical change to you? Personal upheaval, political upheaval, world chaos. Are you paying attention to the 24 hour news cycle and the consistent spewing of fear and negativity that these parties are so good at?

Many people I know are going through upheaval and myself included. It's not the type of upheaval you would imagine though. Well, may be. It can seem like your world or the world is falling apart all around you and you are left to pick up the pieces.

How do you choose to respond to all of this? Do you keep going and trust all will be well or do you go negative and cynical and disbelieving? It's pretty hard to trust when things seem so uncertain.

But trusting yourself and trusting life can be a way to create certainty. Can you take the leap of faith that things will work out, have a positive attitude, and just keep going? Another opportunity for courage!

I see in my experience and that of others that we have been conditioned to believe that life is a struggle, that life is hard, and that we have to fight to survive. We are conditioned to believe that we are not capable of changing our lives or making strides to something great. We believe in lack and loss and we create it every day.

Sounds like a lot of new-age baloney. But unfortunately, I find it to be true. Staring us in the face everywhere we look every day.

May be you wake up one day and you say enough of the BS about not having what you desire, the right people in your life, the right opportunities, community, living situation, etc.

May be you decide to stop believing the negative hype that you can't have what your heart desires or that to get it you need to sell your soul. May be you decide to create it by working hard, staying positive in the face of challenges, and believing in yourself and believing in life. May be you make that mental and emotional, even spiritual shift (no matter what you believe) and say you are no longer willing to be resigned to an ordinary life.

What then? Well that depends on you. But as soon as you decide that you are worth a heck of a lot more than you thought or were told by someone who didn't know their true power. Can't blame them but you can move away from them.

I am here to say that you are worth it, there is no dollar amount high enough for you and that you are a creative, powerful, loving being with great potential for good.

More mumbo jumbo BS? May be for you. Not for me.

You see I believed or found myself believing that I wasn't worth a lot even when my reality showed me differently. I got sad or depressed or in a funk and started drinking the negative cool-aid. This was never me in my life but it happened. That story took on its own life and grew. Sure I've been through a lot, we all have, and I've grown because of it and I'm grateful BUT the story of lack, of no self worth, of sadness and cynicism is just that, a story.

It can be transcended. It has been transcended. Love your stories, thank them, and then let them go.

Move into the space where you are loving yourself for who you are and loving others for who they are. Bring awareness to your actions, your ideas, your beliefs, your relationships, your goals and your dreams. See what works and what doesn't and don't be afraid to let go of anything that is taking up space or dragging you down.

This is super hard but it is also super rewarding. I haven't been successful with all of this yet. I'd be lying if I said I was. This is a process and it takes time but time we have contrary to the world clock and the naysayers who believe in smallness.

So take a moment to love yourself, love life, and be grateful for what you have and then move on your own unique path toward whatever greatness you decide to create. You can do it, you will do it, and I am here to tell you that there is more support than you know.

Peace out

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Recent Experience with Judgment

I'm sure we've all found ourselves being judged or judging somebody else at one time or another. It's a pretty common occurrence in life.

I've often read about and experienced over the years the negative impact of judgment. It's not something that helps us but tends to hurt us and others. I won't believe you if you tell me that someone is completely free of judgment. I believe it's a natural thing for most of us to do.

I've often spoken of letting go of judgment and sought to do so in my life. Recently, however, it's been staring me in the face. I don't know if I'm being judged by others right now but I do know that I am judging myself. Judging self for not doing this or that, judging self for feeling this way or that way, judging something physical, mental, or emotional, and even, oh yes, subtly judging others. It sneaks up on you as I am about to describe.

I would like to not judge myself or anyone for anything but it just happens naturally. We've been conditioned to judge. Further, many of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others, trying to be better than others, and judging, whether or not we are fully aware of it. I'm not judging this per say, I'm observing. This, of course, is my perspective.

I've heard this one a lot. "Well, this person did this or that person did that but there's no way I would do that." Or we criticize another or gossip about them and so on. We're all guilty of it. We make people wrong or different or somehow unworthy and judge them for what they do, say, or how they look.

Often, again, in my experience I think that when we judge we are seeking to make ourselves feel better about something that we're struggling with inside. Not always, but a lot of the time. Something is missing in us or in our life and we deflect energy elsewhere onto others.

May be this isn't your experience but it has been mine.

I have been told by friends in the recent past that sometimes it is necessary to judge. You judge something that is wrong with the world and say "that's wrong" or "I won't stand for that" and may be take action to stop it or just consciously act differently.

So yes I agree that we have to judge sometimes to differentiate between right and wrong or other people or things (ultimately more judgments but necessary today). But judging to judge, which is what I am talking about, is often negative and it hurts us and it hurts others.

Last thing and then two recent stories:

I've found that if we figure out what it is that bothers us about what we are judging, with enough awareness and courage, we'll often notice that what bothers us about another is something that is bothering us about us. And we're projecting onto them.

Two examples from my life, one internal and one external

#1. Next door to me there is a family of Mexicans. I love Latin America. I have lived in Mexico and Argentina. I worked with the people there for many years. This family seems really nice but I haven't spoken with them, instead, I've judged them. I've judged them for having a yard packed with junk spilling over, for being loud, judged the kids for being negative and angry and acting gangster, for eating at McDonald's, for smoking pot and cigarettes, and believe it or not, for being working class and Mexican.

What? Really? Jon? Yep. I realized, kind of like lightning striking me, that a part of me was judging them but the rest of me wasn't catching on. And then I judged myself for judging them. Woo. Double whammy. I'm doing what I am trying not to do and punishing myself for it.

And you know what, they were probably judging me (or may be not but I think so) for being a tall, lanky white kid with pristine curly hair who shops at Whole Foods, walks the dog like eight times per day, has a trust fund, and drives a Honda hybrid, among other things. Oh wait, am I judging myself again?

I don't know who they are and they don't know who I am. We don't talk. We judge.

#2. I judged myself for being skinny. I've been told so many times over the last few years that I am way too skinny. Am I underweight a bit for my height? Yep. But this is me. I've always been a bit skinny and lanky and I have high metabolism.

But the comments by others ended up giving me a complex which I then created into something far worse, judging myself for not having more weight on these long bones. I was worried about being underweight and thinking may be I was malnourished, I obsessed over it so that when I was eating, I didn't really get many of the nutrients because of the stress.

Yeah, there are other factors to consider but the point is I judged myself and this judgment led to more judgment and a lack of self-love which impacted my ability to gain weight. But then I realized that this is my yogi body (ha) and started to appreciate myself more and slowly I am enjoying food again and accepting me for who I am physically. And I'll probably gain weight and muscle but not because of how I eat but what I say to myself each day before, during, and after eating.

In my experience, judging creates a division within us and between us. It keeps me here and you over there, judging. It puts in and puts out a negative vibe that often leads to separation from humanity, a lack of love and compassion for self and others, and a bitter world of a bunch of people who are misunderstood.

And just today, one of the neighbors who is probably in his late twenties asked me if I like Whole Foods since I was carrying a bag of groceries. I said yes that I like the quality even if it is expensive. I told him that I decided to spend the money anyway to eat healthier. He said yes and agreed by offering: "you are what you eat;" and walked away. Very wise.

I think I'll stop judging them and talk to them.

I realize that there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes may be we do need to judge to take a stand against something and sometimes may be as a form of self-defense or self-definition.

However, I would say that may be instead of judgment, we use discernment. We discern if this thought or this word or this action is really helping us or hindering us and our relationships.

I vote for judging less and loving more. And ultimately, I think judgment divides while compassion unites.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Resolution?

Happy New Year! We get to start over, right? Unless the past follows us into the future. :)

How about a New Year's resolution: Believing and experiencing that there IS enough.

The last few days I have been noticing AGAIN how I have these thoughts that there is not enough.

There's never enough of the things we want in life: time, money, opportunity, happiness, etc.

It seems to be a common internal dialogue. If I could just do this or do that I'd be happy. If I had this or had that, well, I'd be happy. Just give me those things I think I want and I'm happy.

And then I get some of those things that I want. May be they come to me or may be I create them through hard work. But guess what?

It's not enough. I want more and I start over again. If I could just get this and get that I will be happy again. And the story I tell myself goes on and on so much so that I am living in a perpetual state of not having enough and its painfully disappointing.

But then I tell myself that I "should be" happy. I have a good family and friends, I have a job, and I have people around me who care for me. Why do I have to be so unhappy and even ungrateful when I have so much to be grateful for? I guess I don't but I am.

And I see where it goes next. I punish myself for being ungrateful, for judging myself and my situation, and for getting angry with myself which builds a new cycle of not enough in my life while inflicting terrible wounds on an already struggling me. This sucks, right? I think so.

These are tough patterns to break and I go through it all of the time. More than I would like.

Now I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with wanting more. Don't we all? But I wonder if it's the tiring act of "wanting" and the perception that we "don't have enough" and the emotion attached to it that gets us down? Most of these emotions are inherently negative in my experience.

When I am going through these negative emotions, it's often because I'm resisting what is.

I'm not willing to really look at what's bothering me in my life or whatever it might be. The emotions around it aren't enjoyable to feel and I'd rather just live avoiding them and in a negative space of not enough and unhappiness.

Ugh. Really? Wow, what a recipe for a miserable experience, Jon.

But before I judge myself more, there's another way to try: to have compassion for myself because this whole thing of life and being human isn't easy.

Also, what if I started thinking and acting like I had everything I needed to be happy and healthy and successful? That the world is abundant and that life is perfect just the way it is and no matter how it appears. Pipe dream? I don't know. The alternative still isn't that inviting.

I think positive thoughts about myself and about my life even if I have rough days and things don't go the way I want them to. I stay strong in my perseverance of positivity. I'm not being ignorant to the stuff that's going on but I'm choosing not to let my ideas of not enough, the world's ideas of not enough, and the negativity get me down.

It's a real chore and I don't always enjoy it because if you haven't noticed, people are spewing negativity these days. In fact, at times, and I consider myself a positive guy, I am also leaking negative thoughts all over the floor.

But I have a choice. I am choosing this year and with visible resistance already to believe that happiness and having enough IS possible and that I can create more of it. Don't we deserve this? Call me crazy but I think we do.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I've struggled my whole life to understand who I am .

I see one thing and then another and I want to put it all together and I can't.

I've come to accept that we are expansive individual beings and that there is not ONE truth to anything but many Truths to everything.

If, however, there is ONE truth, for me; it would be our heartfelt desire to experience LOVE and UNITY with each other. It doesn't appear that way on the surface today. We can find love and unity but we mostly hear about hate and division.

I often want to know why things are the way they are and I'm disappointed when I can't know everything. I've come to accept, with great difficulty, that some things are better left unknown.

We are here to do and be something in our lives. I think we all have many gifts to share and I don't think we are using enough of them or our vast potential to heal ourselves, our experience, and our communities. I don't think we believe we are good enough or capable enough of changing our experiences. Because of that, I think the world is the way it is.

I've been on the sidelines for a long time. Yes, I've dabbled here and there in professions, received degrees, been committed to helping others, and I'm fortunate to have had many rich experiences both here and abroad. I have a lot to be grateful for.

However, I've been afraid. Full of fear. Afraid of failure, of what people might think, of speaking from the heart and soul, of making mistakes, or not being perfect, and the list goes on and on. While I have been uniquely able to be vulnerable about my life to others at certain times, I've mostly shied away from it in fear, shame, and a feeling of unworthiness. I've seen that at my most vulnerable, however, I've had the greatest possibility for healing and that it heals relationships in whatever form they choose to take.

It became pretty easy for me to suffer. I got good at suffering. Suffering for what has happened in my life, for what might happen, and for reasons that I could only intuit as being deep wounds that needed to heal.

I've been consciously healing these wounds for the last several years of my life and it's been shitty at times, magical in others, transformative, painful, sad, euphoric, and shown me things about myself and humanity that I'd rather not see but knew I had to in order to heal and then eventually, if invited, to help others. The alternative was just more suffering, fear, and inertia.

As 2016 ends, I recognize that I'm still afraid of living my life to the fullest, of sharing my truth with others outside the comfort zone, and of being an advocate for Everything I care about. I still find it hard to honor my path when it feels like everything at once or nothing at all.

I am seeking to be courageous now and would like to share my gifts and experiences with all of you and hopefully you'll share yours with me and we can work together and support each other to both find and create peace and love in these challenging yet transformative times.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"There Is Beauty In Imperfection" - A Story From Today

Peke and I walk every morning with our dog Baris in a canyon that forms part of Balboa Park here in San Diego.

It is an opportunity for us to catch up on the previous day before the rush of a new one and to be in touch with nature. Baris enjoys the smells of animals and sometimes chases rabbits or squirrels.

Through the canyon there is a stream that has been dried up for sometime.

On today's walk, we were greeted by a sprinkler system helping cleanse this parched land. We stopped under it and enjoyed a pleasant shower before moving on.

Next we came to a unique spot under the shade of the trees, with the smell of eucalyptus, and leaves under our feet, decorating a usually bare path. There was a foot bridge close by.

As we have done several times before in recent weeks, Peke and I noticed a beautiful flower. It had appeared out of place in an area without vegetation and next to some rocks.

A new friend of ours who lived near the canyon told us that these flowers, called naked ladies, were found in random locations throughout the canyon because of what he and his friends did fifty years ago. They'd pull them out of the ground and thrown them at each other.

After admiring the naked lady on the trail, we were abruptly distracted by the sound of running water.

"The stream is flowing," I observed with surprise.

Water was rushing under the foot bridge and in either direction, we could see more naked ladies popping up.

There was also now a man by the stream.

"I didn't expect to have an audience," he said, looking up at me standing on the foot bridge.

He was dressed in simple clothes and had feathers tucked into his hat. Wide sunglasses partially hid his eyes from me but they seemed to be moving in rapid succession.

I wondered out loud at the miraculous appearance of water. It appeared that he had expected it. I then inquired about its origin.

"Depends on which version you are ready to hear," he responded.

"Whichever one you believe," I answered.

He shrugged at me as if to say that it wasn't for him to decide.

His answer nevertheless involved three possible reasons: a faulty pipe; a reference about liquidation; or divine intervention.

His speech then turned into mutterings that I could not understand. What I did gather however were phrases that included how "water can appear in the desert" and those times when "north becomes south."

He spoke of power, control, and our quest for profit and finished with clarity by saying that "Everyone can do their part."

I looked down again at the rushing water as he moved his hands through it and realized that the origin of the water wasn't important. What mattered was that it existed right now. It was beautiful, it was real, and it was accompanied by an intriguing visitor with a message.

"Have a good day," I called out as he headed off.

"There is beauty in imperfection" he shot back before disappearing out of sight.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The State of Things: Why the World Appears To Be Spinning Out of Control

Violence. Weak Economies. Debt Defaults. Corruption Scandals. Explosions. Factories Collapsing. Environmental Degradation. Political Infighting. Right verses Wrong. Religion verses Religion. Intolerance and Discrimination. The Intensification of Conflict between States and Within Them. The List Goes On and On.

What is going on? What does it mean? What is the state of things in a world that seems to be spinning out of control?

One Answer in My Perspective: We Are Waking Up

We are waking up to the existence of unconsciousness within us. Of a sickness that causes individuals and groups to choose hatred and violence as an answer to their unhappiness and marginalization. We are deeply aware of it now because of the 24 hour news cycle and endless social media; because the world is getting smaller and we are more connected.

Our awareness of the intensification of conflict and the deep problems within our societies are causing us to act, react, and express ourselves in both new and old ways. These expressions unite us and they divide us. And yet, in no small way, they give us infinite opportunities to heal and to work together for the advancement of our individual and collective experience.

In times of pain and suffering, we come together and we support each other. We decide that the things we see and disapprove of need changing. Of course, our ideas about how to change them and advance our societies are varied. Nonetheless, by peacefully engaging with each other, we advance our eventual unification.

We also often make the mistake of believing that the changes we desire are resolved solely through OUTER actions or what we do. We forget that the roots of our problems, our suffering, and our unhappiness lies in a lack of inner peace. We seek outer solutions when it is our inner self that is screaming for help and for recognition.

It may sound simplified to say this, but alas, the concept is wonderfully simple.

When we choose as individuals to look in the mirror and to accept what we don't like about our lives and our experiences; we permit ourselves to change them and to heal any wounds. We give ourselves an opportunity to see new ways of being and new ways of loving and live them every day.

Our CONSCIOUS choices (as opposed to acting without thought, consideration, or feeling) to love ourselves will allow us to love others, even if those others are different than us in every conceivable way. It is difficult to do this but the rewards are great if we do.

Our consciousness opens the door for the flowering of peaceful societies free of hatred and violence, of disease and unhappiness, and of our relentless adherence to EGO.

In sum, we are responsible for what happens in our lives and we are responsible for our collective present and future. Every one of us is part of a collective whole. Our experience is connected. When the day comes that we choose to accept this idea at its deepest level; only then we will be able to truly and completely release the unconsciousness among us and experience the world of our dreams.

Respect Self. Love Others. Live Life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Living within the Uncertainty

Waking Up is about living within the uncertainty of life.

Our lives and our experiences are uncertain from our perspective. We don't necessarily know what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day or in the future. We may certainly have a sense of what will happen tomorrow because we planned it that way or expect it to unfold in a certain way. Nonetheless, for us to know the end result of anything is almost impossible.

Uncertainty in life makes us anxious, fearful, and stressed. For the majority of us, we are worried about everything: from family and friends to our jobs and our responsibilities and to our health and happiness. Above all, we are worried about the outcomes of our decisions. We hate not knowing what's going to happen next.

There are three concepts whose practice might help us to minimize "the anxiety of uncertainty." In brief:

1. Letting Go:
Letting go is to no longer seek to control everything that happens to us or others. Letting go does NOT mean "not caring." We care about what happens in our lives and the lives of others, but we're more willing to let the chips fall where they may.

2. Acceptance:
While we begin to 'let go' of our need for specific outcomes, we choose to 'accept' whatever it is that happens. We are willing to look it in the eye and embrace it. This is by no means easy. It is one of the most challenging things we'll ever do. And yet, through acceptance of events, circumstances, and even the thoughts of doubt or fear that preoccupy us, we create space for healing, deep clarity, and happiness.

3. The Present Moment
When we embrace the process of first'letting go' and then 'accepting' whatever it is that happens, we open the door wider for us to live in the present moment. By living in the present moment, we maximize our potential to be, to do, or to deal with anything. This in turn empowers us to experience life without stress, strain, or that dreaded uncertainty.

Personal Experience: I am dealing with uncertainty right now. I was thinking about the future and concerned about how things might or might not unfold when it comes to my professional and career goals. My mind was wading through doubts and worries about how it will all turn out; trying to interpret the unknown.

Wonderfully however, my experience of uncertainty helped me to remember the ideas communicated in this blog: the importance of letting go, of acceptance, and the experience of the present moment. Our awareness of these three concepts and a willingness to begin to practice them every day is one important step to living within the uncertainty.