Letting go 05: What is reality, really?

We think we inhabit a physical world with fixed rules based on observable forces and objects. But when we dig into this solid, enduring reality we find that there is nothing substantial at its core.

Molecules reduce to atoms, atoms reduce to subatomic particles, subatomic particles reduce to…what exactly? Measurable quantities of energy, properties of mass and charge, probability functions?

And if we go in the other direction, turning our attention back onto the observer, what do we find there?

No one has come close to reducing consciousness to something more tangible or physically explicable. The experiential core of your individual reality defies a material explanation.

Many people have encountered and contemplated this intangible reality of ours and there’s a consensus of sorts that however we explain both the subject consciousness and the objects or phenomena known by consciousness, the two cannot be truly separate and distinct in nature.

Non-dualism rules

This used to be my thing, but I got a bit cynical when this “enlightened” perspective didn’t yield any apparent benefits to me.

Back then I didn’t understand that I could feel better just by making how I feel my top priority. I didn’t yet believe that nothing is more important than feeling good. I didn’t know that feeling good is good.

I know so much more now, and it’s funny and satisfying to see old knowledge I’d let gather dust suddenly fall into place as a component of my happier and more aligned perspective.

So what do I have to gain from my unusual perspective of reality? What does it benefit me to see beyond appearances? What can I do better or differently now that I know how things work?

Vibrational reality

The upshot of all this is a different causality. A different kind of cause-and-effect at work in reality.

When we wish things were different, we tend to look at our circumstances and ask “but how can all this simply change?” We imagine physical laws and physical reality governing all things. We regard manifestations as dominant.

But this leaves no place for the miraculous. It leaves no place for revelation. It leaves no place for providence.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings we are told that there is a vibrational reality waiting for us that is a perfect match to everything we desire – with the caveat that our desires will never stop expanding and evolving.

The only thing missing from that vibrational reality is…us. We are the only component that freely chooses whether or not to allow vibrational change within us. We are the only part of our reality that can resist the pull of our desires and the outpouring of love and blessings that is God’s response.

We resist this pull by focusing on the unwanted and misaligned aspects of everything. This habit of thought keeps us feeling disjointed and out of harmony with what we desire. It turns an effortless journey into an unpleasant struggle.

But the solution is easy. We just have to learn to let go and allow ourselves to be drawn into the new reality that awaits. We just have to let ourselves be part of the tapestry God is weaving on our behalf. We just have to let ourselves be taken care of, and enjoy being passengers on the way.

What could be more valuable than a deep and moving feeling of appreciation and love in your heart? Well maybe you’d like to be rich too. But only because you associate being rich with having feelings of freedom, joy, trust, confidence, appreciation and joy.

The audacious claim in the A-H teachings is that by finding those feelings you will allow that wealth to come to you. It’s not just that: whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be added unto you.

That will require letting go of resistance, including perhaps the resistance in your old view of “how the world works”.

The suburbs don’t depress me…

…I depress the suburbs.

Walking with my daughter this morning I was overcome with a feeling of nausea at the suburbs around us.

It’s an old feeling so that means thoughts with momentum. And there are plenty of ways to justify my thoughts.

But the fact remains that I create my reality, and at the very least one might ask “if you don’t like the suburbs, why are you living there?”

Isn’t that kinda dumb?

Well yeah it is.

I heard a woman on an Abraham-Hicks video explaining that she lives in Boston but wants to live in California. That was the defining problem in her life.

The advice was to appreciate Boston first and then decide whether to move or not.

It’s good advice because you take your fault-finding mentality with you most places, and if she couldn’t be happy in Boston then there’s a good chance she wouldn’t be happy in California either.

I thought she was stupid, but I guess I’m stupid too 😅

Finding the positive

The suburbs are convenient because the population density draws in more shops, better roads, more attractions.

Then again, by that logic I’d be happier in the city centre, so why not move there?

Living in the hills is appealing because there’s more space, more nature, more freedom, more beauty.

The suburbs are like a middle-ground that gives people space without losing proximity to others, freedom without losing convenience.

Okay, so why do I really hate it?

I didn’t want to go too negative but sometimes describing how we feel gives clarity.

So for the sake of clarity: when I look at the suburbs I feel like life is small and meaningless. I see each little plot divvied up and built upon in varying degrees of same-old.

I feel the individuality of people circumscribed by standardisation. It’s like each block is a little box, and though they all look different, the differences are superficial.

Not to mention the architecture is frequently hideous.

When I walk by on a cold day I can only assume people spend all their time indoors or away from home, and I struggle to feel uplifted at the thought of their lives contained and defined by these ugly – and audaciously expensive – little allotments.

Bringing it home

Everything I just wrote says far more about me than it does about the suburbs. I mean, you could totally agree with me but just not care, right?

That’s because it’s not about other people and their houses, it’s about me and my thoughts.

These houses are like the one I grew up in. I’m a stone’s throw away from the suburb where I lived most of my life.

To me these suburbs represent a way of life bereft of idealism and joy; they represent acceptance of ugly convention at great personal cost and burden.

I don’t feel this way when I visit friends or relatives in their homes – it’s deeply personal. When I imagine strangers’ lives in these suburbs I project onto them my own thoughts and feelings.

So I am the one who feels as though my life is constrained and confined by the expectations and conventions of others. Yet no one ever told me where to live or what to do. I just inferred what was “normal” and made it into my own constraint.

I looked at what “everyone” was doing and railed against it. In Abraham-Hicks terms that’s a perfect way to get more of what I don’t like.

Holding pattern

In the end I think I live in the suburbs because it’s what I’m used to. I think we chose to live here because it was familiar, and I felt that I could only break with the familiar if I was really sure of what I wanted.

Living in the suburbs is like a holding pattern in lieu of knowing where I really want to live.

But that itself is a form of resistance, raising the bar on how sure I needed to be of a decision that breaks from the norm.

Back then less bad wasn’t good enough for me. I was intensely all or nothing and with that attitude I was pretty much guaranteed to wind up with nothing.

I’m sorry, suburbs. You didn’t deserve so much hate. You never asked me to be here in the first place and it’s not your fault I stayed. We don’t need to like each other, and we really don’t need to live together anymore.

The beauty of knowing what you don’t want is, in A-H terms, that you know implicitly what you do want. You just need to stop focusing on the unwanted long enough to let the wanted in.

Making “ordinary” beautiful

I’ve had a prejudice against “ordinary” life for years. Now I’m seeing how that prejudice interferes with my own happiness.

It’s based on unhappy childhood memories and compounded by threads of cultural elitism.

Are you bohemian or bourgeois?

I’d had enough of bourgeois life and attitudes and culture, but bohemian lifestyles didn’t offer much hope of lasting happiness, so I continued in my search holding only to a disdain for everything normal, mundane, and predictable.

My main fear was getting “stuck” in a meaningless existence. But nor could I find my own meaning either.

I’m now married with children, and though we aren’t conventional (whatever that means) I’m still dogged by the fear of being happy with a “meaningless” life.

(It’s okay folks, my wife knows this is my own issue to deal with.)

But how stupid is it to be sitting here afraid of being happy with all the good things in life, just because I’m worried I might be embracing something that resembles a very unhappy period of my life?

Say that out loud again….

I’ve never known it with such clarity but there it is: my teenaged, horribly depressed conviction that feeling miserable was a symptom of a bourgeois existence.

Say that out loud: I’m afraid that if I am happy right now I’ll be miserable. 😂

Momentum of old thoughts

Part of me – some old thoughts – still thinks happiness lies in escaping “ordinary” life.

The rest of me knows that there’s no such thing as ordinary life. There’s just my life, and what I do with it is up to me.

Those old thoughts had some momentum and it was like they kept pushing and running without taking the time for an update.

It’s like these different parts of me had never spoken to each other.

But now it’s coming together, through the grace of finding relief and allowing happiness in bit-by-bit.

I’m seeing now that this old fear and need to “escape” was just mistaken. It wasn’t conditions of life I wanted to escape from, it was misaligned thoughts and the bad feelings that followed.

What is “ordinary”?

I’ve said it before, but ordinary really doesn’t matter. If you look at life from the perspective of creating your reality via your thoughts and feelings, allowing God’s blessings to flow to you, then what does ordinary have to do with anything?

It doesn’t matter what other people do or what is popular or commonplace where you live.

What matters is what you think and how your thoughts and perspectives feel to you. Find the thoughts that feel good, and you are finding your own alignment with God, whether that leaves you loving white picket fences or something totally different.

What if home were magic?

Circumstances don’t create our reality; it’s our own thoughts and focus that creates our reality.

Where the heart is

Home has been a touchy subject for me. We’re a family of four living in a small unit. We would love more space. We would love a beautiful, wonderful, magical home.

But to say that housing and land are too expensive is beside the point. We create our reality through our thoughts and focus. If I feel bad about the subject of home that’s not a market issue, it’s a focus issue.

The cost of housing represents something to me: the feeling of distance from my ideal, the sense that a beautiful home is unattainable. Money signifies the gap between where I am and where I want to be.

Old thoughts

The truth is that home hadn’t felt magical, beautiful, wonderful or magnificent for many years. Not since we left our old home to come to this city when I was five.

Home lacked those qualities. No, I lacked those feelings about home. Seventeen years I practiced noticing the absence of magic, excitement and adventure in that house.

That’s why my ideal home has felt distant. Not because of money but because of the practiced thought that home is bland and utilitarian, oppressive, boring and ugly.

These thoughts have gotten in the way of my desire for a beautiful, magical, wonderful, magnificent home. I’ve had this desire for a long, long time, but I shot it down over and over with thoughts of insufficiency and lack.

My practiced negative thoughts stopped me from even feeling good about home. But now my positive thoughts have enough momentum that I can change how I think and feel on subjects like this.

Changing direction

I can enjoy finding good-feeling thoughts about home purely for the sake of feeling good. Home can feel like magic right now if I stop resisting it.

There are so many positive aspects to where we live now, enough to keep me flooded with appreciation and joy all the time.

Our home is already beautiful, magical, and wonderful. It already has so much space. We’ve already made a delightful home out of this unit, and it is entirely up to us to appreciate it right now.

Receiving blessings

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings it is often said that the only reason we want anything in life is because we think we will feel better in the having of it.

The two components of the teaching are first that we can feel good right now just by focusing on those things we want, and second that by feeling good we open ourselves to receive from God the things we have already asked for.

But the whole point is to feel good regardless, and by appreciating what we already have, we can arrive at such a state of alignment that we no longer feel any lack or insufficiency.

By focusing on my desires for a wondrous home and letting go of my resistance, I am already there. I feel in my heart the beauty and abundance I’ve longed for, and where I sit right now is perfection.

The excitement of contrast

Contrast refers to anything unwanted in your experience.

According to the Abraham-Hicks teaching, contrast is an essential feature of our physical experience. We welcome it because contrast provides a basis for new desires to evolve, and desires are the essence of new creation.

But at first it’s hard to see it this way. We don’t welcome unwanted conditions, instead we long for them to vanish.

As we become more and more aligned with our own inner being, the part of us that is always united with God, we get better and better at handling contrast.

We begin to appreciate that the “fly in the ointment”, the one thing that’s ruining an otherwise perfect experience is actually the path or thread calling us on into bigger and better things.

And when we are aligned enough to see it that way, then instead of the wanted and the unwanted, life is about the wanted and “what’s next?” Satisfied with what is, and eager for what is coming.

There’s a delightful moment that keeps recurring for me, where I feel an old issue, problem or struggle coming up, but all of a sudden I realise it’s not a problem or a struggle, it’s contrast!

I know how to deal with contrast!

Deal with it by looking for the wanted, the desire that springs from it. Follow the thread of the joy latent in sorrow, the ease called forth by struggle, and the hope implicit in despair.

Ask yourself “since I know very clearly that I don’t want this, what is it that I do want?” and then start focusing in that direction.

Then you will find that the experience of contrast is truly exciting and thrilling, because an encounter with the unwanted is the doorway to all we desire.

God in all things

It’s such a beautiful day. It’s overcast, crisp and fresh. I’ve lit some incense on the front porch and come out to sit with my morning coffee and write.

The clouds are diffusing the morning light so it seems to come from everywhere. I feel like every physical object is slightly luminous, and maybe the air itself too.

Every day is beautiful. Every physical thing is glowing with a mysterious inner radiance.

That inner radiance is God’s light.

My greatest desire

I tried for many years to see all things in God and God in all things. I believed I could find enlightenment, be freed from ignorance and delusion, see reality the way it truly is.

But my approach was “all or nothing”. I hated my life and wanted something entirely new, transcendent, unobscured.

And isn’t hating life supposedly how you save it?

Well not in my case.

Letting go

I’ve learned so much and come so far these past two years. I’m no longer depressed, and I feel anxiety losing its hold as well.

The answer to depression was my focus on feeling better, then feeling good, then feeling good all day. It took time and practice, but not much of either, relative to my years of depression.

The answer to anxiety seems like trust and allowing and letting go of the oars. I’m slowly but steadily practicing trust, noticing the thoughts that build it and those that don’t.

Pure desire

As these negative emotions diminish, I’m no longer all or nothing. I’m not looking for one violent solution anymore.

And it suddenly struck me, as I learn about desire, happiness, and trust in God, that I still want to have that vision. I still want to see God in all things, not as the answer to a question or the solution to a problem or as freedom from suffering and struggles, but for the sheer joy of it.

It feels so good to see that divine light subtly radiating from every being, in me and around me. It feels so good to feel the whole world of my experience shining with that invisible presence.

This is my greatest desire, and now I know it as a purely positive experience desired for its own sake and a source and a fulfilment of sheer delight.

To be aligned with your desire is to be aligned with God, and there is nothing closer to God than seeing Him in all things and all things in Him.

Except it will grow closer still, because this alignment and this intimacy with our own Source is infinite. The more we enjoy it, the stronger it gets, and the more we enjoy it, and the stronger it gets.

Against convention: rethinking choice and desire

I grew up thinking there were strong social conventions of how we are “supposed” to think, feel, and act in life.

I accepted the common dichotomy that most people are just “asleep”, going along with the herd. And since I felt out of place, that life was not for me.

But this is a false dichotomy.

Reexamining it in terms of genuine desires arising from contrast, there is nothing inauthentic about people’s desires, simply because those desires are shared by many others.

Other people are either aligned with their desires or not aligned. Just because I don’t share a particular, common, desire doesn’t mean I should dismiss it as unenlightened or merely conventional or somehow inferior.

Someone desiring an “ordinary” life and obtaining it should be celebrated, not derided. And if I stop judging the conventional, then I’m free to evaluate it on its own terms, take what I want and leave what I don’t.

After all, if we disdain conventions as conventions, we are just beholden to our own private convention.

Looking again at the world around me, who exactly fits these conventions anyway? All I see are people following or resisting their own desires, creating their realities through their thoughts and focus.

The fact that a desire is popular and shared by many (like a desire for a nice house, for a relationship, for friends, family, Holidays and so on) should not be a judgement upon it anymore than we should judge unconventional desires simply because they are unpopular.

Feel good all day 7

A Japanese stone guardian lion.

Last night I went to see Avengers: Endgame. I went by myself because one of us needs to look after the baby.

Usually it’s me, because I don’t go out much.

In fact last night was the first time I’ve seen a movie by myself, and the first time I’ve instigated going somewhere for pure enjoyment.

It was wonderful! We have an old Art Deco cinema run by volunteers, and it’s incredibly comfortable and inviting.

It might sound like a small thing but that’s exactly why I’ve never done it. A simple pleasure of going to the movies was easy to deprecate and deny myself in the name of some mistaken seriousness or austerity.

I thought self-denial was virtuous and I cut out all kinds of things. I quashed my own desire to experience life and explore it.

So the real satisfaction and delight last night was not the movie itself but acting on this deeper desire to go out and do something, even inconvenience others, for the sake of my own enjoyment.

Another small milestone to celebrate on the path of feeling good all day!

Count Your Blessings Day 9

Welcoming contrast.

Today’s blessing is that I’m finding myself facing contrast, and welcoming it.

Contrast is sort of like unwanted experience.

But at a certain point it’s not right to call it unwanted as though that’s a bad thing. Because contrast helps us to hone and refine and reach for what we do want.

It’s a bit like writing a draft. Is a draft a failure because it’s not as good as the revision? Of course not.

I remember someone saying that a first draft is really your first best try. It’s creating our first best try that gives rise to our desire for something more perfect, more a match for our desire and intention.

So I’m facing some contrast in life around the subject of money, and it’s actually very welcome because without this contrast I don’t think I could yet have focused as clearly as I’d like to on that subject.

Or better yet…

It’s because I’m ready and in a good place to focus on the subject of money that I’m now receiving some contrast to help me refine my desires and shift my thinking about it!

So the contrast itself is truly welcome, while I appreciate all that has transpired to make me better able to handle it.

Count Your Blessings Day 7

I love my kids! They are so rewarding!

My son is such a smart and caring and lovely kid. And my 1yo daughter is so adorable!

She once again soothed herself to sleep in her cot!

I’m so proud of my son, especially with how well he has taken to the “feeling game” tricks I’ve been practicing with him. We work on subjects together, helping each other find ways to feel good about them.

My favourite part is when he comes home all excited to tell me how well the feeling game worked.

Kids have very little resistance to good things happening, so he’s a real source of inspiration for me.

We keep coming up with new tricks and ideas that help him (and me) soothe difficult subjects and find inspiration.

Translating these concepts for a child’s point of view is a lot of fun and helps solidify my own understanding.

Besides, he really keeps me honest and on track with my own feeling processes. His lower resistance inspires me to do better with my difficult subjects.

And as children often do, asking “Why? Or Why not?” prompts me to reconsider and think more openly about life’s possibilities.

Evolution

When I started this “Count Your Blessings” series I had no idea what to expect from it.

But with each iteration I feel things shifting subtly. Part of me wants to be really consistent and methodical (because it’s counting). Instead it’s evolving because my ability to appreciate is growing, and with that I am able to appreciate new things, and old things in new ways.

I don’t have a clear sense of where this is headed, but I’m noticing episodic changes in how I perceive things.

Like my “doing the dishes” post, and my success with getting our 1yo to go to sleep by herself, I’m finding myself suddenly inspired to look at difficult aspects of my life and instead of rejecting the unwanted, find in myself a genuine desire for something I can love and appreciate.

How I want my life to be, my relationships to be, my family, career, income and health, home and hobbies…everything can be transformed and translated by finding the aspects we desire in love and appreciation.