Thursday, May 16, 2013
Somewhere in the world there is conflict. Pick up any newspaper and its front and center. It’s not just about Syria, Iraq, the Israelis and Palestinians, it’s also found on the other side of the globe in Korea and Africa. Conflict doesn’t seem to discriminate. I could fill up this page with all the national and regional conflicts between countries, religions, and cultures. Close to home there is conflict between Democrats and Republicans... and it goes on and on. It makes one wonder, is conflict the way of the world? Is it built into the world scheme? We don’t have to look very far to see it within our own lives- we only have to observe our thoughts and actions. Every moment there is conflict happening in our own minds. On one end there is ego looking out and getting involved in the world. What may not be as obvious is an opposing force drawing us in. This quiet, is the whisper of our Soul. It is here that we find respite from all conflict between the light and dark. Unlike the ego that is always in movement, the Soul is calm and aware. Stilling the mind and finding time for quiet lessens the ego's strong hold. It helps to create balance and find a resolution between the two. We may not be able to control all the conflicts in the world, but we can open ourselves to negotiation using balance as the bargaining tool. In time, and with persistence, we allow the fresh winds of Peace to move away all the dark clouds of conflict.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I grew up in an Italian family. Yes, it’s true what they say about Italian families- they don’t talk, but raise their voice and use their hands to get their point across. Looking back, I’m amazed that we ever really communicated at all. Most conversations at the dinner table revolved around sarcasm rather than heartfelt discussion. Unlike the families portrayed on television, we never sat down to discuss world politics or talk about how our day went. Instead, we jumped at the opportunity to one-up each another. This is how communication was in our household- loud, biting, and one-upmanship. So the other day when my mother said “You other one,” I had to chuckle because it brought back those memories of growing up. So I asked her, " What does that mean?" and she replied, "You know, you other one"... okay, I thought, that makes sense... or does it? This got me thinking about the skills involved in good communication. Some people are obviously more proficient at it because of those those dinner chats where politics and sharing was openly discussed. For me, it’s something that I continue to learn along the way. Everything revolves around the expression of our feelings and ideas. Regardless of any relationship, or work environment in life, clarity is essential. I prefer discussing issues in a civil and calm manner rather than with the exaggerated emotion I experienced in my childhood. This makes me believe that communication begins with trust. When we trust in ourselves we don’t worry so much about how others will react. Feelings are the glue of life, but when not clear, emotions can complicate it. Unchecked emotions can distort any conversation. Good communication uses Intelligence, and not negative emotion, as the reference point. If we start protecting our self identity, we can easily distort and spin our point of view rather than listening. Expressions like “You other one” may never be really understood, but communication, expressing our feelings and ideas, should at least be given a try.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
It's a typical rush hour. People on the sidewalk are pushing and rushing to get to home from the hot, noisy city. As you move with the crowd, like an overflowing river, you notice your street just ahead. You get a sense of relief knowing that it will give you an escape from the madness. As you turn the corner anxiety pours off your shoulders and you breathe in your quiet tree lined street. It's eerily quiet compared to where you just came from. But something doesn’t feel right. There’s nothing in particular to make you feel that way, but its there... and then the feeling becomes reality. As you turn around you notice a man in a long black coat, greasy hair with sun glasses rapidly approaching. There’s no mistake, he’s coming for you. Just then the unthinkable happens- you trip and fall. You fear the worse as this shadowy character gets closer….and then, suddenly, you wake up. Actually, jump up out of bed with your heart pounding and arms up. After a few moments you realize it was all a horrible dream. With a sigh of relief you lie back down and close your eyes hoping for a better dream. But instead of falling back asleep your mind starts racing with one thought after another. Like the last dream you escaped from you can't seem to get away. In the quiet of the night we are left alone with our thoughts. The activity of the day is now far behind and thoughts are the center of our attention. The silence only makes them louder. Here, emotions are the triggers that take away our peace. But we can also use that quiet of the night to observe the thoughts as they arise. By doing this we create a sense of separation, and along with it, their negative hold over us. If we get overtaken by this emotional current, going back to sleep will be difficult. Stillness is the light that calms and soothes. We can do this by meditation. One way is by observing the inhalation and exhalation of our breath. Another, is by focusing on a single word that carries a strong meaning like Peace, joy, or God. When we are successful at doing this, we awaken to the stillness that resides even beyond our active imagination.
Monday, May 13, 2013
This journey needs to be well thought out. You start making the plans ahead of time so that everything runs smoothly. The trip is longer than most, so preparation is essential. But on the day that you leave, because of all the excitement, you realize that you forgot your list of important contacts at home. Now 37,000 feet above ground, flying at over 500 miles per hour, you tell yourself to sit back and relax. But that nagging thought continues to plague you- what happens if you need to contact somebody at home? You are miles away at this point and unable to do anything about it. This trip you are taking is not one that you’ve booked with a travel agent, but the journey of your life. Although our contacts come and go, the one most important contact that must never be left behind is our inner stillness. As ego, we go in so many directions. Some of those journeys may be fun while others are challenging and difficult. Going through life without introspection only highlights the tough times. We can talk with those closest to us but the real sound advice is never far away- in the company of our Soul. Sometimes we forget this when caught up in the travails of life. Staying in touch is a way to remind ourselves that Peace is always readily available through silence and meditation. Slowing down brings the mind back from its journey. When caught up in ego we never see beyond life’s experiences and this ultimately takes us away from ourselves. Like with any trip we must eventually head back home. In life, home is never far behind. It's been locked up in luggage waiting for the key of awareness to reach our real destination in our Self.
Friday, May 10, 2013
If there is one word that instantly brings a feeling of levity it would be “delightful.” Just saying the word carries an uplifted and joyful feeling. It’s not a word that comes to mind when you think of a marketing strategy in tech savvy, Silicon Valley. Yet, this idea was introduced by one of the greatest innovators of all- Steve Jobs. His vision was to see all Apple products being viewed as “delightful” by making them fun and easy to use. Thus, “delight,” as a strategy, was born. In time, such innovative companies as “Drop Box,” “Twitter,” and “Instagram” would adopt it as well. Their approach was similar in that they would create new products that were less intimidating and more fun to use. This same strategy can also be applied to our lives. With all the pressures of life it's easy to get blanketed in the weight of emotions and concerns. The greater the stress, the further we get away from our sense of delight. Weight and gravity are qualities that keep us caught up in the burden of thought. The feeling of lightness comes with the territory of just "Being." Delight is not something that has to be packaged and marketed; it’s what we are when we allow the moment to express. When we learn to let go more and allow the breath of life to move through us we experience more of it. It’s defined by its simplicity. We are reminded of simple joy with a quiet mind. Silicon Valley now understands the link between feeling and customer satisfaction, we can use our own inner stillness to define ours as well.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
“He was such a great neighbor and a friendly guy. I would never in a million years expect him to do something like this.” This was a response from his neighbor in Massachusetts. It turns out that the “great guy” just placed a bomb killing innocent people, including an eight year boy, during the Boston Marathon. Just in the past few weeks, the news ran big stories of a bombing, kidnapping of three young girls, and a gruesome murder. The one common denominator is that nobody ever expected these people to carry out such heinous crimes-the Boston bombers excelled in sports, the kidnapper in Cleveland was a low key guy that played music at a local bar, and the soft spoken Jodi Arias, would never have been suspected of killing her boyfriend in such a heartless way. These three examples point out that surface appearances are deceiving. Although these people can be calm and likable on the surface, their minds underneath are dark, cunning and demented. We never know what is going on in their minds because oftentimes they don’t know themselves. Once we get below the surface of the mind we enter the land of the unknown. Most of the time it only translates as simple fear and desire, but other times as complete irrational behavior. This underscores the depth and scope that exists within human consciousness. On one hand, we can look within to find Peace, but on the other, we may find the forces of darkness. The unconscious is the fertile ground for all the emotional seeds, both personal and collective. We are never very far away from our dark side. In the above examples it was closer than they thought. The acts were perpetrated because of religious beliefs and sex. In one case, (Jodi Arias) it was motivated by revenge, and the other (Ariel Castro) a perverted ego satisfaction. Although the powers of both light and dark exist within ourselves, we ultimately have the power to overcome the shadow's resistance. This is because it is the light that is ultimately Real.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Fade In- A voiceover of Captain James Kirk, “Space…The final frontier- These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds: seek out new life and new civilizations: to boldly go where no man has gone before.” That was 1966, when the television series "Star Trek" took the world by storm with its creative story lines. Fast forward to 2013- we have landed men on the moon, have a Space Station orbiting earth, and just recently landed "Curiosity Rover" 35 million miles away on the planet Mars. Can a Starship Enterprise be far off? Whatever we can imagine in our mind can eventually become reality. The show’s popularity was based on man’s biggest aspirations- exploring the great unknown. We are always seeking answers- either finding the cure to an illness or exploring the boundaries of outer space. Because we live in the world of becoming, the search for knowledge will never cease. Yet the more we search, the more we will continue to have questions. It's the mind, as space and time, that continues to move us away from what we are. The need to know originates not from what’s farthest away, but from what's closest. We don’t have to travel through the Milky Way or be beamed by a transporter to find the answers to the ultimate questions we are looking for - we only need to turn within. The discovery leads us to the depth of Peace and stillness that already exists. When identified with ego we are in a continual search because the mind's nature is movement. But life is meant to have balance because everything is ultimately seeking harmony in a world full of opposites. There is a dimension beyond our thoughts that provides us with clear answers. We only need to become aware of it. The discovery here is to quiet the mind and settle the noise of the world. Our purpose in life is not necessarily to travel to distant lands; which will then make us want to travel to more distant lands- it’s about finding Peace. We can boldly go there now and make that our Enterprise.