Under the influence

We are always under the influence of something, whether it’s our inner being or something else and we can tell by the way we feel.

That’s one of Abraham-Hicks’ current themes in workshops. Under the influence.

What’s moving you?

In my diet book I argued that our desire to eat is either motivated by a genuine need for food or by something else.

The something else could be a positive thing like social interaction, but often it is a negative motivation like the desire to avoid focusing on negative emotions.

When we eat to escape from negative emotions not only are we likely overeating, but we also end up prolonging and giving further momentum to those negative emotions.

If I eat to avoid feeling bad about myself and my life, I typically end up feeling unwell because of the overeating, and I give power to unpleasant thoughts about weight gain and self-control.

Why my diet worked

Every now and then I see strong parallels between my diet process and the A-H materials. I think my diet was essentially a less refined version of those teachings.

This has always excited me because it means I’ve already successfully applied the principles in one area of my life, proving to myself how easy it can be to allow positive change.

Under the influence

So Abe’s metaphor of “under the influence” strikes me as an exact parallel to my “what moves you to eat?” question.

And that means when we are not under the influence of Source or inner being, we are doing the same thing as eating to distract ourselves from negative emotion – only to perpetuate it unwittingly.

Blaming others

Let’s take a common example: blaming others for life not being how we want it to be.

When we blame others it may feel good or not so good, but it always feels engaging. We are drawn into blame in the same way that we are drawn into compulsive eating, even though such eating habits rarely feel good.

What feels good is the temporary relief from negative emotion. If I blame someone I make it sound (to myself and others) like they are the cause of my problems. I’m perfect, it’s not my fault, they just need to move. At the same time it provides a sense of hopefulness that things may change for the better.

It’s complex, way more complex than this post has time for, but the key is that we use these unpleasant stories of blame to avoid facing the negative emotion in our immediate reality.

Blame relieves us of the burden of change, making it someone else’s problem and responsibility.

But disowning our own responsibility and attendant power never feels good. Blaming others doesn’t provide true satisfaction or true change, especially when it is a chronic pattern of avoiding our own negative emotions.

Facing how we feel

When I look back at my diet and wonder how it worked, obviously I could say it was a simple matter of eating much less.

But the inner battle belied that simple equation. In the inner battle it was choosing to sit with my negative emotions and not escape into compulsive eating that won the day.

It was confronting, and it felt bad. But just as compulsive eating doesn’t truly feel “good” despite the promise of sensory pleasures, so facing my negative emotions without escape didn’t feel completely bad. There was something truthful and honest and powerful in that moment, perhaps because I knew those feelings were always there whether I distracted myself or not.

Beyond negative emotion

And finally, I think what really worked for me is that I was tuning into how I felt; it wasn’t about feeling bad but feeling whatever was there.

I think that’s what is going on in the Abraham-Hicks teachings as well. Feel what you feel and don’t run off into distractions and escapes like blaming others or reiterating negative conclusions about life.

Just be with your feeling – pleasant or unpleasant – and let go of those resistant thoughts, those influences that just kick the can down the road but don’t truly serve you.

And in that release of resistant thought you make space to hear the call of your own inner being, an influence that serves you, knows your desires, and is ready to take you there.

F***ing meditation!

Sorry for the profanity, but it proved necessary!

Everyone finds meditation difficult, or so we’re told. I found it so difficult that for years I gave up on it.

But my need for meditation is now too great for me to try and fail and give up again.

I need it, because it is the easiest and most direct way to get into what Abraham-Hicks call “the receptive mode”.

The receptive mode is a state of mind where we let go of resistant thoughts and come into alignment with our inner being.

Why is this so important? It’s important because we have spent our whole lives asking for things, but so little time receiving them. The backlog of things we have asked for in life is immense, but most of us continue to live in the asking mode – focusing on what we don’t want, and thereby holding ourselves apart from what we do want.

The question and answer exist on different levels. We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them.

Fuck meditation!

When I meditate my breathing goes very shallow and brief. My whole body feels tense and uncomfortable and I feel agitated and oppressed.

Sound like fun?

For years I’d read stuff about peace and tranquility and relaxation and slow deep breaths.

No one said it was ok to have short shallow breaths or to feel deeply uncomfortable and riven with tension and unpleasant somatic sensations.

If they did acknowledge this kind of experience it was quickly subsumed in the exhortation to persist and non-judgementally allow the sensations to pass, with the promise that it will eventually improve.

Forget about a tranquil smile and serene expression; my meditation face is an angry scowl, prompting my wife to ask if I’m okay.

What the fuck is going on?

What’s going on is that I have a lot of tension and stress and resistance in me, and when I meditate it all comes to the surface.

This is not a problem, it’s the whole point.

Yet I tried to feel serene and tranquil and force myself to relax and breath deeply.

So I’ve arrived at the blissful conclusion that meditation is fucking horrible, and that’s good because it means I already feel fucking horrible and at last I’m giving myself the space and time for that resistance and tension to resolve itself.

…which is something I’ve been “asking” for, and in my meditation am beginning to receive.

So forget about feeling good and forget about any rules. Meditation, I’ve recently confirmed with a professional, is simply about anchoring your attention on something and keeping it there.

And from the A-H perspective it’s that time spent without resistant thoughts that gets you into the receptive mode, so you can finally let in all the wonderful things you’ve been asking for all your life.

Instantly change your reality

People often come to the Abraham-Hicks teachings because they want their life to get better. And the teachings promise that it will. They promise you can be, do, or have whatever you desire.

But then they point out that you only desire these things because you think you will feel good in the having of them, and it’s up to us to let ourselves feel good right now.

The path to a good-feeling reality is to feel good now; that’s the crux of “believe that you have received it, and it shall be added unto you”.

Proof

It helps to be able to prove to ourselves that this is indeed how it works.

So here’s some proof.

If you close your eyes and forget about who you are, where you are, and anything that needs doing, you will feel immediate relief.

That feeling of relief is proof that you can change how you feel by changing your focus. You instantly changed your reality to an experience of relief.

Not very impressive?

That may not seem like very impressive evidence. No doubt you opened your eyes, immediately remembered who you are, where you are, and what you’re meant to be doing, and the relief vanished.

But that’s just further proof, isn’t it? Bear with me…

Thoughts->feelings->reality

Your thoughts tell a story, and for many of us we’ve ended up telling a s*** story that makes us feel bad.

When you “forget” in meditation you stop focusing on those thoughts and your feelings immediately change.

That’s how easy, simple, and direct it is. Then you focus on your story again and feel bad. Your reality changes.

You need to practice. It took me two years before I was ready to meditate, because I’m a stubborn, intense, incredibly focused person who spent more than half his life digging himself into the deepest hole he could imagine.

I spent these past two years reading books and forums and listening to YouTube videos about the Abraham-Hicks teachings, and learning to find better feeling thoughts, tell a new story, soften my approach to contrast, and find relief no matter what.

Now I can meditate, and meditation is like letting someone lift you gently out of the hole you’ve dug. So that’s two years learning to stop digging before I was ready to let myself be rescued!

Relief is real

If you look out on your world with a mind full of relief, is it still the same reality you see?

If I feel appreciation for my home instead of frustration at it, hasn’t my reality changed?

At first these teachings sound like you can close your eyes, imagine a mansion, and then it will magically appear and you’ll live happily ever after.

But what it’s really like is closing your eyes, forgetting you don’t like your house, and then magically feeling better.

Better-feeling thoughts

Using meditation to forget my old story allows me to instantly inhabit a reality where I feel extremely good.

My old story was fairly intense, so it’ll take some practice to change it. But when I feel better from meditation I naturally gravitate to new story elements that reflect my good feelings.

And then I won’t have to forget my story in order to feel good, because my whole story – and my reality – will be about feeling good deliberately.

Your reality maps your inner world

The things in life you most love or dread are reflections of those emotions within you. And their proximity and availability in your outer world mirrors their emotional proximity within you.

If there’s something you strongly desire but can’t seem to get, this apparent distance represents your own emotional distance from feeling happy in yourself.

Going home

If for example you feel that a new home would make you happy, but then you feel miserable because it seems unaffordable, or frustrated because you can’t find a place that suits you, then your life is demonstrating your own practiced emotional distance from that happiness.

It means that you are practicing misery or frustration more than you are practicing happiness.

Emotional wormholes

That heading sounds kinda gross, but I’m thinking of the standard sci-fi trope of a wormhole or Einstein-Rosen bridge that bends space-time itself to join two disparate points.

Is the shortest distance between two points a straight line? Not if you can bend the sheet of paper to connect the dots directly.

Changing your reality by changing your emotions is an analogous “shortcut”. If it’s your own practice of frustration or disappointment that keeps bringing you frustrating or disappointing experiences, then the quickest way to change is not by combating your external circumstances but by changing how you feel.

Find the feeling place

The crux of the Abraham-Hicks teaching is that we can learn to practice these good feelings just by focusing our thoughts, or meditating to let go of thoughts.

If we can find happiness within ourselves without changing external circumstances, then our external circumstances will inevitably change and more importantly we will feel happy along the way.

From relief to appreciation

Everything is changing, evolving, and expanding.

The last few days of meditation have been like a flood of relief. Today it no longer feels like relief, and once upon a time I’d have lost faith and given up because “it’s not working anymore”.

But relief is the feeling of releasing resistance, and it doesn’t make sense to think that there must be never-ending resistance to let go.

Think of relief as preparing a space for appreciation. When the same practice of meditation – letting go of your thoughts and your stories – is no longer bringing relief, that’s actually a sign of progress.

Appreciation is a more stable, powerful, aligned energy than relief. Relief only comes when we let go of resistance, but appreciation can be forever.

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on relief without finding the appreciation implicit in it. It’s a relief to get what you want after a long period of feeling deprived. But often we get what we want and then immediately forget about it, moving on to the next thing.

It’s how you play the game

I’m gradually getting my head around this idea, from the Abraham-Hicks teaching, that life will always contain contrast and always call us to expand. The question is how we welcome (or don’t) this call.

From a negative point of view nothing in life will ever be “enough”, we will always want more and never find contentment. No sooner are our desires fulfilled than we want something new.

But from a positive perspective this inherent incompleteness is the source of growth and expansion. If we can just learn to appreciate what is, and find a way to feel eager about what is coming next, then instead of an unending struggle or Sisyphean frustration, the exact same life is revealed to be an infinite journey of discovery and ease.

The flip side of “something always goes wrong” is that things are always getting better.

Floating downstream

When we look at life in ways that feel bad, we are fighting the current that carries us.

But as we learn to let go of the oars, we feel relief at giving up the struggle followed by enjoyment of the easy journey before us.

It’s the ease of this journey, and the sheer genius of the blessings along the way, that offer us endless opportunities for appreciation and savour.

Relief comes when you rest your tired muscles. But when they are no longer tired, then relief is replaced by enjoyment, satisfaction, and appreciation.

Take it for granted?

It might seem unfair, but good things in life happen to the most positive, happiest, easy-going people.

We might prefer that good things happen to us because of how hard life has been, or how much we’ve struggled, but it doesn’t work that way.

It makes sense, because the positive, easy-going people are appreciative of everything. They’re so appreciative that they take good things for granted.

Isn’t that bad?

Were told that it’s bad to take things for granted. We think it means the opposite of appreciation and gratitude.

But to grant means to give, bestow, or allow. Taking for granted doesn’t mean being ungrateful, it means:

“to regard (something) as not requiring proof”

In other words, taking for granted is believing without seeing.

Getting it wrong

Sometimes we resent positive, easy-going people for the good things they enjoy. We tell ourselves that we would appreciate good things much more, because we don’t expect them.

Aren’t we therefore more deserving?

But that’s not how it works. God is bestowing good things on all of us, but it’s up to us to accept or allow them.

God makes the rain fall on the fields of the good and the bad alike. Like the parable of the workers in the field, He undeservedly pays the same wage to the late-comers as to those who had worked all day.

When we look askance at those who seem to have good things just fall in their lap, aren’t we like the all-day workers griping at the unfairness of it all, and thereby missing the point about the One who grants us everything?

Taking as given

The good news is that we can change our attitude from one of negativity, struggle, and griping, to one of positivity, expectation, and trust.

After all, each of us has aspects of life where we take good things for granted – take them as given – however small they might seem.

It takes practice to change, but as I meditate I feel the relief of letting go of old stories where I’m struggling and hard-done-by. I begin to feel the tremendous ease of life. I feel that nothing could really be a problem or an obstacle unless I tell a story about it being a problem or an obstacle.

And if I let go of that story, I feel the immense reserves of pure energy quietly beside and within me. Nothing ostentatious or grand, but an ever-fluid ocean of potential, of power.

My only mistake is trying to put up walls in and around that moving presence. The walls of story and belief can’t capture or contain or limit this ocean; all they can do is make me sea-sick and distraught at the effort of holding them together.

As easy as that ocean feels, let me feel that same ease in life. Let me trust that I will float on its currents, and not be dashed to pieces on the rocks. Let me inhabit the breadth and magnitude of it, as I know that it uplifts and sustains us all.

What I always wanted

What I always wanted was to completely change and transform my reality. I knew there had to be something pure, powerful, and wholly good; a true happiness I could somehow reach.

That’s how it feels when I let go of my old stories about everything in my reality. When I let go and let my mind soak in relief.

How do I bring this into my everyday life? How do I embrace it more fully?

I think the answer is: keep doing it. Don’t stop. Stop the heavy, leaden thoughts before they even arise. Don’t interrupt your relief for anything. Because nothing benefits when you retell the old stories.

This relief is the relief of being “in the moment”. The moment is all you ever have, that’s why losing it to old stories of past and future feels bad.

But what you have in the moment is…your whole entire being, your spirit, your life, the stream of joy and appreciation that is always flowing to you and through you.

In the moment your most profound happiness is fully available to you, and the circumstances and conditions of reality must change to reflect the happiness we allow.

This momentous joy may not match what we thought would bring happiness. But most of our thoughts of happiness are entangled with thoughts of unworthiness and burden and necessity anyway.

If you can let go of your story, give your mind the relief of being outside the story, then you have the vantage point of eternity.

Stay there, breathe it deep, and make relief your resting place. Let relief rewrite your story one moment at a time. Let relief be the plot and the theme and the setting and the protagonist.

Let relief tell you what is possible, and stay there as much as is possible for you right now, without beating yourself up for when you forget it and go back to old habits of thought.

What is more real?

What is more real: the relief you feel when

you let go

Or the resistance of telling your old story,

Linking every new moment back to the old

The dead and the past.

What is more real: the joy you feel or

the complicated details

You can’t seem to filter through

To get through to you.

What is more real: the angst of thinking there must be more or

the freedom you feel when you are

There

More

Now.

Going beyond answers

Caution: may contain answers. Please do not touch the paradox.

The basic law of attraction idea is that you get more of whatever you focus on.

I’ve been focused on understanding and answers for about twenty years, super-intense rumination, philosophy and mysticism, hoping I would suddenly find the pearl of great price and be perfect.

It was mostly motivated by fear and lack, so of course the answers I found were never enough.

In learning to meditate I’m wanting to go beyond that whole dimension of answers I’ve accrued and find something more satisfying and more pure.

That’s a good intention. In fact it’s inspiration. I have a backlog of unfelt relief three miles high just waiting to be enjoyed.

Meditation for narrative discontinuity

Without going all author-itative on you, I know what it’s like to write a story, a narrative, and keep thinking “what’s next?” while smoothing out the continuity.

There’s a whole lot of unspoken convention and flow that keeps the audience engaged, and a potentially infinite number of things that could be written that would break the narrative and ruin the story.

We don’t like stories where the character or the setting change for no reason.

But that’s exactly what I want for myself

My own continuity is holding me back, and the continuity lives in my habitual thoughts. Meditation as a way of finding relief without habitual thinking is like a personal deus ex machina swooping in to change things without regard to narrative coherence.

Deus ex meditatio?

My Latin is crap but you get the idea.

Meditation feels like intense relief because it takes me out of the old story, the confining narrative I’ve kept alive for myself.

When I was severely depressed the stories I wrote were bleak and horrible without meaning to be. It’s just what made sense in that state of mind.

How much moreso the story I’ve told myself only half-aware?

When meditation stops the story, it’s the ultimate freedom from old narrative pressures, conventions and constraints. It’s a new creation, true rest, and respite from a world that doesn’t need to be.

I don’t have to make this relief fit; I can’t. My old story is an old wineskin. Time to start afresh.

Learning to meditate

I want to learn to meditate – specifically to quiet my mind.

I’ve tried to learn before, but I didn’t really understand myself enough back then. And contrary to what we are told: meditation is not a panacea.

Learning to meditate isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, any more than learning to run. Running is good for your health, but the unspoken assumption is that you are able to do it healthily in the first place.

Some people need rehab or physio treatment or personalised training before running can be a regular, healthy activity. Meditation is the same.

Quiet your mind

Meditation 101 is to quiet your thoughts. But some of us are intense and driven thinkers, and our intense and driven thinking often has a cause.

If you take people with PTSD or chronic anxiety and get them to quiet their thoughts, they may find it impossible. In my case I suspect my intense focus on thinking is a way of finding control and stability amidst anxiety.

Yet I want to feel the relief of a quietened mind. I want to find my mind at peace before anxiety begins and before my thoughts race to manage it.

The first step is acknowledging that my constant stream of thoughts is not the whole of my mind. In fact it’s more like the tail end where wordless insights are translated into language.

Focusing on them will bring me more of them, but they are only translations and cannot surpass the wisdom and clarity I already possess.

It’s like these blog posts: focusing on a subject enhances my clarity and insight, and rereading them may focus it even further, but I can’t learn anything new from the words themselves. It’s the focusing, not the words or the thoughts that really matter.

The front porch and the computer

I used to spend many hours at home sitting at the computer. But as I learned to feel better I noticed that it left me uncomfortable and weary to stare at the screen for so long.

I discovered I could lie on the couch and use my phone instead. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me before.

And now I’ve discovered the front porch is a really nice place to sit in the cold wind, all rugged up, with a cup of coffee and some incense burning nearby.

I’m envisaging my mind in a similar way: I’ve spent many hours focused on the part of my mind where thoughts turn into words, sifting and analysing and planning and predicting.

But that leaves me tired and uninspired. I don’t need to be there!

Quieting my mind means finding a different place to sit and focus. Somewhere more relaxed and enjoyable. Somewhere that gives me energy instead of taking it, and allows inspiration to flow.

The approach that works for me is bathing my mind in relief. That’s what letting go of thoughts feels like to me.

Posture, eyes open or shut, duration, that stuff doesn’t matter too much if I can just find the feeling of relief and immerse my mind in it to the exclusion of all worries and cares.

Feels like a good place to start. I’ll let you know how it goes!