Monday, February 21, 2011

Is the Critical Mass Tipping?

I'm no expert on the Middle East. And I don't pretend to have all the answers or to even believe that I know what's actually going on in the Arab street. What we read in the newspapers or see on TV is only one small piece of a complicated puzzle. But what's occurring throughout the region is unprecedented and inspiring.

Some remember the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War as one "transformational" event in contemporary history. Some remember other "transformational" events in the Balkans in the late 1990's. In the first decade of the 21st century, September 11th, 2001 ushered in events in America and abroad (the controversial US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq)that changed the landscape of American foreign policy. These big events were clearly different than what we are seeing now. Today in the Middle East we see grass-roots movements toppling governments and threatening others. But they are all also part of a larger process of collective evolution, of collective transformation (whether you believe the reasons behind them or not) that continues to build today and that is evident in the Middle East right now.

And it's not just the Middle East that is changing. Protests are happening every day across the globe, but many of them have less veracity and staying power as the ones we're seeing in the Middle East. But will that change now? Will more and more people begin to clamor for more rights and look to topple their governments?

It's hard to tell for sure, but I think as the momentum builds in the Middle East, no country (I'm referring to the non-democratic ones) will be able to avoid the resilience of the unified masses. And these changes by no means escape the democratic countries. I'm not saying that people will overthrow their democratic governments, but there is today a sense of disillusionment and frustration with the overall economy, with political leadership, and with the vested interests across the board that seem to control all of the world's resources in sometimes draconian ways.

On another note, instability in the Middle East affects the US, Europe, and Asia in very specific, well-known ways. These potentially destabilizing events (but empowering for the society there) in the region could lead to a long over-due rethink (ideally-speaking) of our dependency on foreign oil while forcing us to stop delaying and aggressively invest in the green technologies and alternative energy sources that can save the planet. As the decade progresses, significant changes may upend policies in our democracies that are out-dated.

Technology is a driving force behind the unprecedented changes reverberating throughout the Middle East. But it's also an individual and a collective awakening that's occurring there. People are finally speaking with one voice (as much as that is possible) and saying NO to the corrupt, authoritarian governments that presume to suppress them indefinitely. Tunisia was the catalyst for these recent events, but it's bigger than Tunisia alone. There are collective forces at work that transcend specific countries (even if they reside in them); forces for good that can only be found in the human heart, yearning for a voice. These are forces led by people who choose freedom and independence, dignity and fairness, and more opportunities to create and to build a better life. These are rights that we owe ourselves to demand in order to forge a more inclusive global society. Unprecedented power resides in those people who are now waking up as they realize that a different world is not only possible, but within reach.

I don't presume that there won't be difficulties, violence, and long processes of transition behind these transformations. It's definitely not all roses here. There are people who are using these opportunities in the ME as well as elsewhere for the propagation of needless violence. Clearly, this is not the answer. But the massive marches and the peaceful protests that are inspiring much of the world in the Middle East are unique because of their nature and spontaneity. They are powered by mostly common, decent citizens (and young people=the future) who are speaking up and acting out simultaneously, influenced by each other, and determined to construct a new society.

Humanity is waking up much quicker than in previous times; building on the experiences from our recent past.

Tough times lie ahead. Transformation is never easy. Still, we are witnessing another historical moment in our collective history.The critical mass is tipping. While there are no guarantees that these types of movements will be successful everywhere, we can only hope that people-power is here to stay. That it eventually leads to more open, democratic societies in the region inclusive of different identities or beliefs, but focused on leaving the past behind.

Condolences to the families of those people who have lost their lives mostly at the hands of their governments in recent weeks. Let's send positive energy to all of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and in other parts of the world who are in the midst of making history. I hope that they achieve their goals and that better times for all are on the horizon.

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Insights on Success

It's funny how we put so much time and energy into worrying and stressing about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future.

We literally focus all of our thoughts on things that have already occurred and on hypothetical future situations that are not relevant to now.

By doing this, we miss out on the present moment, on what's in front of us. It's really a very simple concept, to be in the present; and yet the practice is nearly impossible for most of us. Our mind, our ego is hell-bent on attachment to things, experiences, and conditions in life that it believes are real, when in truth, they are just illusions. Attached to thoughts and emotions that are fleeting.

We live in fear of what's next in our lives. We live in fear of life's uncertainties. And by falling for the doubt, fear, and worry about things that have NOT happened yet, we actually draw those things to us and lose our connection to ourselves.

Thus, we must work toward coming from a place that is present and focused on what is happening before us, not behind or in front of us. By doing this, we dissolve the fear and worry, we connect with who we are, and everything becomes possible in our lives. Because we only care about what's happening now.

For me, this was an epiphany of sorts. I say of sorts because I'd had the experience before. But yesterday, while driving home from dinner, Peke and I were talking about this very subject. It became clear that I was focusing too much time on past moments and past events from the day as well as thinking incessantly about what's next when we get home or what's on tap for tomorrow or the next day, etc. It becomes so crazy in my mind sometimes, constantly going this way and that way that it is utterly exhausting, physically tiring.

Now some of us are blessed with the present moment in our daily lives. We don't worry about things that haven't happened yet and we could care less about what was said or done yesterday. We should care about what happens in our lives. I'm not saying we shouldn't. Our actions and decisions should take ourselves and others into consideration and we should be true to self in all that we are, but we definitely don't have to incessantly beat to death things we can't control or things that bear no relevance to the present moment.

The present moment is liberating.

Continuing our discussion in the car last night, I noticed that I was so concerned about outcomes and the end-results of things that I was missing the process once again and most importantly, the present moment. And I'd venture to say that many of us have a similar experiences. So I've fallen into putting too much attention on obtaining goals, but not the goals themselves, and with the fear of things not working out that goes with this line of thinking, I've been pushing away the easiest way to achieve all that I desire: the present moment.

Okay, so I've reiterated the importance of the present moment numerous times. What does that have to do with success?

Well, I realized that success is not some future event, it's what's happening now. If I eliminate the fear of the unknown from my life and focus on the present moment, I will be more successful in everything I do, because, quite simply, I'm focused on what's at hand, not lost elsewhere. Presence brings clarity, pure consciousness, awareness, and success. I get more in touch with my deeper feelings, wash away stress and strain, providing room for inspiration, new insights, and connection with who I am and what I want out of life. Continued focus on presence, over time, will make it easier and easier for you to become successful at whatever it is that you do. I'm writing successfully here, it's flowing nicely, because I am in the moment and what flows from me is uninterrupted by past or future.

And it's here that we also build confidence and faith in ourselves. Not concerned with "what if", we are truly alive in "what is". It's basically impossible to not achieve what it is you seek if you come from this place. It may take 'time,' but it will be increasingly present for you in the series of moments that began your awakening, whenever that is.

Having connected with these insights, I also noticed that the fear of the future was evidenced in my cautious statements that what I was hoping to achieve might not actually happen. For instance the statement: "I am successful" is often more like: "I hope to be successful" or "I'm going to try to get there or do that" or "It should work out, hopefully." But these statements are limiting in themselves and are based subtly in a fear of the unknown, as I have said repeatedly, and are evidence of a weak self-confidence in my own abilities to create or in the world's ability to fulfill what it is I choose or want in life.

So I decided that a new attitude was needed. And I believe in it's power because I have seen it before in my life and in others lives. In the present moment, we must "know" that we are successful, happy, and healthy; that we are not "going" to achieve our goals and objectives, but that we "are" doing these things right now, in the present. "Knowing is believing." We've heard that quote before. I would also say "Knowing is believing and knowing is creating." So, accept the questions and doubts that arise in your mind every day in your life, but understand where they are coming from and dissolve them by "knowing" that you "have" all there is you need to be successful and that you "are" successful. Then watch things flow to you effortlessly and without resistance. It's easier than we think, but the problem is precisely that we think too much!

And finally, this attitude, actually, this way of life; should not be confused with arrogance or over-confidence in oneself or at the expense of others, but instead, it's about a quiet, subtle confidence and consciousness that puts faith in that everything is possible and that you will achieve what you choose. It's not a question of if, but only of when.

When? When you live in the present moment!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Being Present is Key

Today I read the second to last chapter of Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth." If you haven't read it, I highly suggest you picking it up. He is so clear in his explanations and descriptions, it's very easy to follow.

In this chapter, he talks about inner and outer purpose. Inner purpose is primary, outer purpose is secondary. By connecting with our inner purpose, we create a more balanced and genuine outer purpose.

He talks a lot about awareness and consciousness. When we are in the present moment, we are truly aware, and everything is possible. We're not concerned with past or future, we're here. By doing that, we stop time and allow for all possibilities in our lives to be realized. There is nothing we can't do. Awareness brings connection to self and then self transcends the relative and the mundane in our lives allowing for us to fulfill our true inner purpose more effectively. It allows us to harmoniously combine inner and outer purpose in everything we do.

Having read this, I stepped back, as I often do these days, and connected with the present moment. It's incredible, if even for a moment. No stress or strain, no worry or anxiety. Simply present. It's a connection with pure consciousness, with your true inner self.

I've noticed that when I need to find something and I'm stressed or thinking too much, it's much harder to find what I am looking for. It's like your circling it but you don't see it at all because you are caught in the past or lost in the future.

Today, I needed to find the plug for the drain in the bathtub and being present, I found it with ease. I guarantee you on a different day or at a different moment, when my mind was lost in the noise of the relative world, I'd have been searching endlessly for it, frustrated and perturbed, before finally realizing after much struggle, that it was right there all along. Thus, presence draws things to you, non-presence pushes them away.

While my example seems ridiculously silly (which it is), the beauty of it is that these are simple things, simple connections with self and presence that make all the difference. It's precisely this "connection" that we need to materialize and realize much bigger things in our lives.

Being present is key.