Feel good all over

Alright friends! Thoughts have evolved, feelings refined, and new ideas received.

Trust, allowing, letting go are the next logical step.

Feeling good all day has served us well, but there’s a bit too much effort and action in it, and as I’m now learning, the way forward is all downstream.

Time to let go of the oars and accept that God is doing all the work here. Let the current carry me, trusting completely and enjoying the relief of no more struggle.

I can’t possibly plan, control or think my way to where I want to be. Time to accept the help I’ve always needed (and always been receiving despite my resistance).

I still want the focal point of daily posting, but this time it will be firmly relaxedly(?) focused on trust, allowing, and letting go.

See you soon! Isn’t this exciting? Happiness Challenge -> Feel good all day -> and now…I’ll just see what happens 😊

Happiness Day 26

Letting go vs highest control.

I’ve had some difficulty with meditation in the past, following all sorts of advice.

But I was listening to another Abraham-Hicks video where a woman had a similar problem, and Abraham’s response really spoke to me.

I am a very deliberate person. I like to be in control and I’m not used to “letting go”.

I’ve had a lot of success taking charge of problems and situations and questions and finding the answers by being in control.

So when meditation is presented as letting go of that…I struggle.

But that’s not the only way of looking at meditation. Meditation can be seen not as letting go of control but as utilising my highest control.

My inner being is vastly more powerful and wise than my problem-solving mind.

Or to look at it differently again, my mind is vastly more powerful and wise when it is aligned with my inner being.

It’s like in martial arts: beginners try to do everything with their arm strength alone. Punching and pulling and throwing, they copy the techniques but the power is very little because it’s limited to their arm and shoulder muscles.

But we learn over time to use the whole body in every technique, and the arms become merely the last link in the chain, conveying the much greater strength of the whole body rather than trying to do it on their own.

And in martial arts I faced the same problem: people could say “relax your arms” and for some that is enough of a cue for the rest of the body to be activated.

But I’m so used to being in control, if I relax I just get…weak arms that don’t move!

What I needed was to know that it’s not about relaxing the arms or letting go, it’s about activating and aligning with a much greater strength and a much greater control that the arms (or my mind) can then follow.

And Oh my goodness! This feeling of higher control is such a relief, now I see why people call it “letting go”!

If you’re all about control you can’t simply “let go”. You need to go to a place of higher control, and in that place the small-scale struggle and conflict just disappears.

Abraham recommends meditation not as an end in itself but because it’s the quickest way to let go of resistance. But meditation still has to be tailored to the individual because everyone has different forms of resistance in their experience.

Letting go of resistance allows our natural ease and alignment and flow to resume. And isn’t that what we’re seeking in our efforts to control things anyway?

Learning to let go: lessons from a 1yo baby

Why do I feel relieved when my 1yo daughter goes down for a nap?

Why do I not reach for the same feeling of relief while she is awake?

Isn’t it just my own resistance?

The Dao of parenting…sleep deprivation edition

Parenting is really really demanding.

But it’s our own resistance that makes those demands difficult to meet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to preach here; last night was one of the most challenging I’ve had in a while, so I want to move forward on this subject.

It helps to see these challenges as bringing to attention our own pockets of resistance.

But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t feel like that right now.

When things feel really tough it’s not the best time to reach for answers. At those times the best we can do is to find the barest positives like “at least we’re all still alive!”

Here comes some resolve!

But this morning I’m feeling a little more focused. I know last night was an unwanted experience. I know I didn’t reach for relief. I know I can do better and by doing better I mean feeling better.

So I intend to remember the things I learned and applied with our first child.

Our first child was a steep learning curve and there were tough times for sure. But I recall moments of real clarity and focus that I now think were even more powerful than I realised at the time.

Be like water

The Dao is often likened to water, because water flows without effort, never holds itself back, is content to take the lowest position, but in the grand scheme of things is unstoppable in its influence.

Interacting with an infant or young child, being like water means being sensitive and adaptable without contrivances or resistance.

After all, children want to be happy and feel good. We don’t make them happy, we merely provide the basic things they need.

Happiness comes naturally.

In Chinese this kind of nature is 自然 ziran and I love this word because it basically means “flows from oneself”.

So the happiness of a child flows from itself.

But that’s not how it feels. It feels like the little darling wants to scream and cry and be constantly dissatisfied.

How can happiness be natural when the kid is so often inconsolable?

Let go of resistance

It may not be obvious at first, but there is a natural flow and it is most likely our resistance to that flow that comes before the screaming and crying kick in.

We need to be sensitive and let go of our own demands and arbitrary deadlines and procedures. In effect, we need to be guided by the child.

But the guiding can’t start in the midst of a meltdown. Start when things are relatively easy.

She has to eat!

Here’s my first point of resistance. She has to eat, and it’s vital that she eat at this time because she needs to sleep at this other time, or else she’ll be overtired and the whole schedule will fall apart and she’ll probably get sick and we’ll all die horribly..

Okay that last part is exaggerated.

But notice that before she gets upset, I’m approaching her with a determination that she must eat a certain amount of food at a specific time or else everything will fall apart!

What if she’s not hungry?

What if she’s teething and it hurts to eat?

What happens if she doesn’t eat right now?

Have a little faith

If she doesn’t eat right now, she’ll eat later when she’s hungry.

If she doesn’t sleep right this minute, she’ll sleep later when she’s tired.

And guess what? Feeding her later and sleeping her later will be so much easier if I haven’t spent the past hour or so fighting with her to eat when she’s not hungry and sleep when she’s not tired!

A little bit of faith in nature is essential. And if you talk to anyone who’s had a few kids their faith is heavily seasoned by experience.

Speaking of nature as “flowing from oneself”, our 1yo hadn’t pooped for three whole days. But we knew from our first child (and yes we worried back then) that this is totally normal.

Make sure they have plenty of water, make sure their diet is good. Otherwise just sit back and wait because it will inevitably flow from themselves!

And when it comes, it will come abundantly….

But what about my schedule?

If your schedule works, then keep doing it. But if you’re finding that “nothing works!”, if you’re at the end of your tether, then consider no longer fighting, resisting, or struggling.

What I’m reminding myself is that when I let go of my preconceptions and resistance and have the intention to just flow naturally, I become more relaxed and more sensitive to what is going on.

I’m better able to read her moods and wants and needs and she seems to adapt to my greater ease and letting go of the struggle.

We create our reality

My problem is not that I’m forced to care for a difficult child single-handed. My problem is that I’ve let worries and cares and resistance accrue for a while and I’ve only gone looking for relief when I felt completely overwhelmed.

It’s taken time for me to acknowledge I want life to be different on this subject.

And then it took more time for me to know how I want it to be different, the kind of difference I’d like to see.

It’s not about the baby, it’s about me and my habits of reaching for better feelings, or digging more firmly into resistance.

So to come full circle – she’s asleep right now, not because I made an effort or was super patient, but because I felt suddenly inspired to leave the house and go for a walk with her.

She fell asleep about twenty minutes into the walk, but I hardly noticed because I was busy looking at the beautiful houses and trying to work out which house owned a tiny little driveway that I’d never noticed, tucked away between two other houses.

It turned out to be the rear entrance to a massive heritage estate, taking up about 4,000 sqm of land right in the midst of ordinary suburbia.

I’d never noticed it before, but isn’t that a wonderful omen? In the midst of “normalcy” we might stumble upon the path to something amazing and beautiful, so long as we are open to that experience!

Allow yourself to feel good

Why does feeling good become a matter of allowing?

It’s because we usually keep our feelings under tight constraints through paying attention to our circumstances, and thinking the same old thoughts.

We think we would feel much better if life suddenly improved, but the inverse is also true: we won’t let ourselves feel better unless life improves.

Would you like to feel as good right now as if you’d just won the lottery, met your soulmate, bought your dream home?

Most of us are paying such close attention to the absence of those conditions that we won’t let ourselves feel really good.

Near-life experience

We’ve all heard that people who’ve come close to dying can completely change their approach to life.

All it takes is a shift in perspective to let go of our resistance and start appreciating life.

But even a near-death experience is a change in circumstances. How do we have a change in attitude without waiting for life to change first?

I’m finding that allowing myself to feel much better than circumstances dictate requires that I stop focusing so intently and attentively on these circumstances.

Don’t take them seriously. The conditions of your life are fleeting after all. They are just the product of your past perceptions and past choices.

It’s like watching a movie with full attention versus letting it just play in the background. If you want to feel better than circumstances dictate, stop giving your circumstances such hold over your attention.

Living a different reality

Yesterday I took my daughter for a walk around the neighbourhood.

I could tell that all my work at feeling better is yielding results because (apart from feeling better) I found myself noticing and appreciating things I had never noticed before.

I’ve walked this route many times. But for the first time it seemed that every house had some startling new detail or beautiful aspect.

They weren’t new. No one had come along and quietly renovated each house. I was just in a good enough feeling that these beautiful details could show themselves to me.

So what is my reality: bland disappointing suburbs, or a series of intriguing and eye-catching architectural surprises?

Both are potentially my reality, but I had to let go of the former to make space for the latter.

Letting go, allowing, openness and receptivity are all about making space for enjoyment and good feeling that otherwise cannot enter.

Auto-Immunity: stop hitting thyself?

Embed from Getty Images

An auto-immune disease is, as far as I can tell, the disease equivalent of accidentally biting off a chunk of your own tongue.

My particular auto-immune disease causes inflammation in various key joints, resulting in mild-to-excruciating levels of pain that erupt seemingly at random throughout the course of the year.

Each doctor I’ve spoken to has been more or less firm about the association between stress or negative affect and flare-ups of the disease; firmly against any such association, I mean. There is no evidence to suggest that the progression of diseases like mine is in any way linked to psychological factors, though there is good evidence that the experience of pain can be moderated by psychological factors.

Needless to say, I’m not content with this and rest somewhat assuredly on the dictum “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, taking some confidence in what I know to be the limitations of evidential standards and processes, such that if I find a personal or subjective association, I’m not going to dismiss it on the basis of insufficient peer-reviewed studies.

At the same time, it’s somewhat dismaying to see people dismiss actual studies from a position of willful ignorance and wishful thinking. I’ve seen plenty of people embrace conspiracy theories or other combative attitudes towards established medical and scientific practices and institutions. It’s not a pretty sight. Ideally we should know and understand the things we criticise, and be aware of the limitations of our own knowledge, n’est-ce pa?

As such, I’m not going to tell people that their auto-immune condition is the result of stress and negative affect. What I can tell them is that I’ve noticed in myself that my bouts of inflammation seem to correspond with periods of self-imposed stress or pressure.

It seems I am of a temperament which is inclined to say to itself: “Now you know what you ought to be doing, so do it; do it without ceasing. Do nothing else. Nothing matters but that you do this, and do it diligently forever and ever, Amen.”

For example, I had a flare-up some time after deciding that I ought to pursue my writing more seriously. ‘More seriously’ as in, unceasingly and compulsively without any concept of an end point. On the positive side, that helped me produce an unprecedented number of articles – if I remember correctly: 12 published articles in a one month period.

But as my productivity began to decrease, the conviction that “I must write” slowly devolved from a genuine motivation into a mere sense of grinding necessity. Grinding is perhaps the operative word, as my joints inflamed and it became painful to move.

I’ve noticed since that the pain seems to coincide with these bouts of grueling yet unproductive urgency, the sense that I must get something done without excursion or delay.

Yesterday I noticed a growing sense of urgency relating to ‘getting things done’ with respect to domestic production. I’ve been meaning to make some cheese, but have struggled to find a good local source of necessary ingredients. The delay and the awful heat (42 degrees C yesterday) left me feeling unproductive, and this morning I woke up with the telltale stiffness and pain in my lower back.

As tentative as I am to try to dictate the cause of my illness to others, I’m equally cautious in extolling a particular treatment. I’m not trying to sell anything.

However, I have found it personally beneficial to treat the pain as a symptom of the underlying urgency, and therefore to treat the urgency directly. I do this by making a conscious effort to defuse this compulsive state of mind. I reflect on the fact that it doesn’t actually matter if I make a cheese today/write an article tomorrow, or if I do these things next month, or in all honesty if I never do them ever again.

By ‘reflect’ I mean it’s not enough to simply tell myself that it doesn’t matter. I have to really feel that it doesn’t matter, because feeling it means I can let go of the stress, tension, and urgency. Feeling that it doesn’t matter reveals how truly tense and stressed I have become – winding myself up into a state of impossible and unnecessary tension. I can feel the tension now through my whole body, yet I was oblivious to it until I started to focus on ‘letting go’.

Does ‘letting go’ fix the problem? Objective analysis would be nearly impossible. The factors at play are highly subjective, and would be very difficult to study or isolate under experimental conditions. But like Pascal’s wager, if I’m wrong about the connexion I’ve nonetheless benefited from becoming aware of my stress and tension and reducing them to more salubrious levels.

Feeling more relaxed, happier, and healthier is a pretty benign form of treatment. There’s not really anything to lose.

Does the pain go away? As strange as it might sound: I hadn’t really noticed. In hindsight, it must go away because I notice its subsequent return. But I’m usually so caught up in the great sense of relief and relaxation, the sheer pleasure of ‘letting go’ all the stress, strain, and slowly mounting pressures of life, that the pain, the stiffness and the sense of disease seem to just dissolve away.