7 March 2017      

Hello, and welcome to this week's edition of our e-zine.  We're nearing
spring these days--in just two weeks, the new season will arrive (autumn
for those of you in the southern extremes!), and the changes that lead
to summer will continue to unfold.  Let's make up our minds to be aware
of the changes and practice mindfulness over the next few weeks so that
we can enjoy the changing seasons even more by seeing those
changes more clearly and fully!

 The Power of Awareness (an excerpt)
Richard Moss

There's a Lot More Left in the Tube
Jeff Keller

Your Own Awards Show
tom walsh

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Happiness cannot come from without.  It must come from within.  It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.

Helen Keller

Your life is made up of many different facets.  Don't focus on one aspect of your life so much that you can't experience pleasure if that one area is unsettled.  It can become all you think about, and it can deaden your enjoyment of everything else--things you would otherwise love.

David Niven

It is this way that we must train ourselves:
by liberation of the self through love.
We will develop love,
we will practice it,
we will make it both a way and a basis,
take a stand upon it,
store it up,
and thoroughly set it going.

The Buddha

  

The Power of Awareness
an excerpt
Richard Moss

Any story you tell yourself about who you are, any belief you have, any feeling you are aware of, is only an object of your larger consciousness. You, in your essence, are always something that experiences all these and remains more complete than any of them.  When you realize that you are inherently larger than any feeling that enters your awareness, this very awareness will change the feeling, and it will release its grip on you.

Similarly, ideas that you have about yourself are relative, not absolute truths.  If you simply look at them and do not let them lead you into further thinking, they will give way and leave your mind open and silent. There is always a relationship between who we believe or feel ourselves to be and something else, the Self that is our larger awareness.

In awakening to this Self-me relationship, we begin to be present with our experience in a new way. We learn to consciously hold our thoughts and feelings in our own larger fields of awareness.  Then, even if we are troubled and confused, this non-reactive quality of presence to ourselves allows us to restore ourselves to a sense of wholeness.  This is the power of awareness.


Sensation and Perception:  Our Original Consciousness

The great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi said that if we want to know our true selves, we must “go back by the way that we have come.”

Our original state of consciousness in childhood is not one of being a separate entity with our own thoughts and sensations, but rather is a relatively undifferentiated domain of sensation and perception.  Our parents, having already reached the developmental stage of separate-self consciousness, provide the model by which we begin to develop our own sense of the separate self.

But when we take the developmental step into the consciousness of the separate self and leave behind the universe of immediacy and undifferentiated sensations, as a consequence we also become identified with our sensations.  Who is happy?  Me.  Who is angry, tired, frustrated . . . ?  Me.  Our feelings acquire names, however, and at the same time, we are defined by those feelings.

The same is true with perception:  we may not feel that the sunshine on the trees is me, but we cannot identify it without simultaneously existing as a separate me. In psychological and philosophical theory, this level of consciousness is called “subject-object.”  It is the level of ego awareness where most human development stops.  We are aware as me, we react as me, we defend as me, we desire as me, but we are not aware of the true self.  It is the true self that looks at all we think, do, and experience, including our sense of me.  In this looking, a relationship is created that has the power to transform our experience of ourselves and our worlds.

Throughout our lives, the moment we bring our awareness fully into the Now, we enter the domain of the true self, and our immediate conscious reality is once again that of sensation and perception.  As I sit in the park, the sunlight brightens the leaves and casts shadows on the ground. I have a feeling of contentment.  And as long as “I” don’t create stories about what I am seeing or about the fact that I am feeling content, which leads me away from my immediate experience, what I experience remains simply perception and sensation.  The same is true for any feeling, any emotion. In the Now, it is just what it is.  In the Now, I “go back” to my original awareness “by the way that [I] have come.”  When we directly perceive and experience whatever is present in our larger fields of awareness, it is possible to have a relationship with it without becoming lost in it or defined by it.

Exercising the Power of Awareness

We exercise the power of awareness and strengthen our spiritual muscle by bringing ourselves, over and over again, into the immediate present. To do so, we must become present with what we are feeling and thinking.  We can turn our attention directly toward what we are experiencing instead of staying enmeshed in a feeling or blindly accepting our beliefs about ourselves.

It makes all the difference in the world whether we are caught in a negative emotion and say, “I am sad, angry, lonely,” and so on, or are able to recognize, at that moment, “Here am I, all wound up in sensations of resentment.  Here am I, fuming with anger.”  Awareness of our sensations is not the same as identifying with our thoughts or feelings.  Every movement back to present-moment awareness grounds us in the body and opens the connection to our larger awareness.

Even the smallest movement toward exercising the power of awareness, instead of collapsing our larger awareness into our thoughts and feelings and thereby becoming identified with them, restores us to a more complete consciousness.  It gives us the power to start from a fresh, open, less conditioned relationship to our experience.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that our problems disappear.  But as we exercise the power of awareness, our reflexive reactivity diminishes.  We respond from a state of greater presence.  When we collapse into our feelings, we lose this capacity.  We default into me, and this limited self seems like the whole of who we are. Then we have no choice but to react because we feel as if we must defend ourselves.

The Fundamental Relationship

What are we actually doing when we bring our awareness fully into the present and realize “Here am I . . . ”? We are moving into a more spacious awareness and thus creating conscious distance from what we are experiencing.  At the same time, we are opening toward our immediate experience to see it as it is, to see it fully, to invite it to reveal itself more completely to us.  We are seeing as objectively as we can, without reacting or judging.  This lets us more completely realize what we are actually feeling or sensing; we do not merely remain in our heads, interpreting and analyzing.

It is important to point out that moving our awareness into the Now and thereby gaining distance from our feelings and thoughts is not dissociation. A frequent mistake people make with Eastern meditation practices is to try to rise above and detach from an experience, especially whenever the experience is considered negative.  To exercise the power of awareness, we are required to become more present in our experiences without losing our larger awareness.  With this quality of attention, we gain true understanding.  We naturally begin to respond to our experiences in the most appropriate and intelligent ways.

This intimate viewing of ourselves by our awareness is the most fundamental of all relationships.  We create the possibility of a conscious, empathetic connection between me (or self) and our true selves, or what is alternatively referred to as the Self.  The personal self that we experience as ourselves is held, seen, and felt deeply by that, which will never reject me, never turn away, never judge me.  It can see us judging, attacking ourselves, creating our own misery; but it does not judge even this.  It is simply present with me.

This presence need not be merely neutral or indifferent.  We can let it be our trusted friend, like the Persian mystic poets Hafiz and Rumi did when they referred to it as the “Guest” or the “Beloved,” to whom they offered themselves and who always received them.

The key to cultivating the healing potential of the self-Self relationship is the quality of our attention -- the steadiness, gentleness, and acceptance of the “gaze” we turn toward ourselves.  We must be truly willing to experience our feelings and clearly see our thoughts without reaction, allowing the moment to be exactly as it is without defending ourselves against these feelings and thoughts, without our minds moving away into further thought.  Then that which transcends our capacity to name or categorize it in any way, is present to us and has the same accepting quality that we present to ourselves.  This is also the essence of meditation and prayer.  By keeping our attention in the present moment, we can become transparent to what is transcendent.  It is the Self’s profoundly empathetic acceptance of self that ultimately sustains us when we face our deepest fears, including even our egos’ primal terror, nonbeing.


*   *   *   *

Copyright © 2007 Richard Moss, MD.  Richard Moss is an internationally respected teacher, visionary thinker, and author of five seminal books on transformation, self-healing, and the importance of living consciously. For thirty years he has guided people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines in the use of the power of awareness to realize their intrinsic wholeness and reclaim the wisdom of their true selves. He teaches a practical philosophy of consciousness that models how to integrate spiritual practice and psychological self-inquiry into a concrete and fundamental transformation of people's lives. Richard lives in Ojai, California, with his wife, Ariel.

  
  

Drawing on his three decades
of teaching consciousness,
Richard Moss plays the role
of wise shepherd, accompanying and encouraging the reader
on a journey toward the
genius within and away
from fear and other limitations.
Most importantly, he offers
an always-available compass
that directs readers back
to the true self, and into
the magic of the
present moment.

   

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There's a Lot More Left in the Tube
Jeff Keller

When I shave each morning, I use shaving cream that comes out of a small "travel size" aerosol can.  The can is only about 3 inches high.  I'd been using that little can for several weeks when I realized the can was getting very light.  I immediately thought, "Can't be much more left in here."

I was just about to throw it in the wastebasket when I figured I could eke out another shave or two.

Much to my amazement, the shaving cream kept coming out day after day after day.  I ended up getting 19 more shaves from that little dispenser!  And to think that I was just about to throw the can away.

I'm sure you've experienced the same thing with a tube of toothpaste or shampoo.  It looks like the tube is just about empty, but you keep folding the tube and squeezing - and you get days or weeks of extra use from the supposedly empty tube.

There's a lesson here for all of us.  We work toward a goal and sometimes get frustrating results for a long time.  Things aren't working out as we had anticipated. We think there's not much left in "our tube" and we give some thought to quitting.  The reality is that we have a lot more left in the tube, if we'll only continue to believe in ourselves and keep moving forward.

In fact, our biggest breakthroughs often occur when we think there's nothing left in our tube.  You see, there's a polarity to life, and when you experience setbacks and disappointments, these are often balanced by significant achievements.  Yet most people quit before the "turnaround" happens.

Napoleon Hill, one of the most insightful success writers of all time described this phenomenon in his classic self-help book, Think & Grow Rich. In the early 1900s, Hill spent decades interviewing more than 500 of the most successful people in the United States - people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.

Hill reported that hundreds of these successful individuals told him that their greatest success came just one step after they suffered their greatest defeat.

Harriet Beecher Stowe put the principle this way:  "When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you until it seems that you cannot hold on for a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

About 10 years ago, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen began pitching their book to various publishers.  The first 30 rejected their book.  They could have thrown in the towel then, believing the tube was empty.  Then they got the 31st rejection... and then the 32nd rejection.  Was the tube empty?  They didn't think so.  On the 34th attempt, they finally got a publisher to say "yes" to their book.

That book was Chicken Soup for the Soul, and it spawned a series of books that has now sold over 80 million copies!  Sometimes we have to fight our own doubts as to whether we can keep going in the face of setbacks.  At other times, we have to ignore the beliefs of others who tell us that there's nothing left in our tube and that we have to give up on our dreams.

Take the example of George Foreman - businessman, broadcaster and former heavyweight boxing champion.  As he approached the age of 40, George decided he would come out of retirement and regain the heavyweight championship.  Most people thought he had nothing left in the tube; certainly not enough to win the championship again at his "advanced" age.

They said he was too old, out of shape and "rusty" after being away from boxing for so long.  But George never listened to the nay-sayers and on Nov. 5, 1994 at the age of 45, George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer to re-capture the heavyweight title.  In the end, it didn't matter that others doubted George because he never doubted himself.  He knew he had plenty left in the tube.

Some of you may be wondering whether there's ever a time to "cut your losses" and stop pursuing your goal.  I think the answer to that is "yes," but it's usually when you come to the point where you lack enthusiasm to achieve that goal, or if you find you no longer have the commitment to do what it might take to accomplish it.  Without enthusiasm and commitment, there really is very little left in your tube.

However, if you're still excited about reaching a goal that may seem off in the distance, it might be time to reexamine your strategy and see if any adjustments are called for.  After all, there's no point in continuing to take steps that have proven ineffective.

Once you believe you have a viable strategy, and you're willing to expend the energy and effort to do what it takes to accomplish your goal, don't give up.  It's just a matter of time until you'll get a "second wind."

If you've played sports or exercised, you've experienced the "second wind."  You're exerting yourself for a while and you think you can't go on any longer.  Then, you suddenly feel a new burst of energy as you catch your second wind.  You're re-energized!

William James said "most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second."  Don't let that happen to you.  What a shame to give up when you can still reach your fondest dreams.

So, when you think the tube is just about empty, take heart and realize that now is not the time to call it quits.  Success may be just over the horizon.
   

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A miracle is nothing more or less than this:  Anyone who has come into
a knowledge of his or her true identity, of his or her oneness with the
all-pervading wisdom and power, this makes it possible for laws higher
than the ordinary mind knows of to be revealed to him or her.

Ralph Waldo Trine

   

 

Your Own Awards Show

'Tis the season to be subjected to awards show after awards show.  I don't watch the things, but it's impossible to ignore them completely with the big deal that the media make over them.  It's pretty much impossible to avoid knowing who's up for best picture in the Academy Awards, and we also see the headlines pretty constantly about the Grammys, the Emmys, the People's Choice Awards, and the many other awards shows that inundate the airwaves in the first few months of each year.

Seeing all the hype about the Oscars got me to thinking, though.  Who are the people who are giving these awards, and what effect do they have on the recipients?  Other than the obvious answer about helping the careers of the entertainers who win, we have to think about the deeper issues, the potential benefits to a writer's self-esteem, to an actor's self-confidence, to a director's sense of self-worth.  No, we don't want these parts of these people to depend upon rewards in order for them to be positive, but we have to acknowledge that these effects most probably are there.

Who gives awards to us in our lives?  Just what are we working towards when we're in our offices or cubicles or workstations?  Is there going to be an awards show each year to show people how well they did, or how important their work is to others?  In most jobs, no.  Ironically enough, I found that the organization that most often showed appreciation to the acts and deeds of its "employees" was the U.S. Army (but that's another story entirely!).

So if there aren't any awards to work towards, why don't we create our own?  I really like the stars and stickers that grade-school teachers use, and we easily could give ourselves such rewards every day of our lives to recognize our achievements both great and small.

I think it's important, though, that we don't create our own awards as competition--rather, we can reward ourselves simply by committing acts that we know are important or challenging.  Of course, we can compete if we want to, and then reward ourselves or others based on competition--perhaps you and your friends can keep track of the random, unacknowledged acts of kindness that you commit over the course of a month or two, and then reward the winner with a nice treat.  And in this case, those who have fewer acts of kindness at the end of the month still are winners, and deserve some sort of reward, too!

I think I'm going to start my own awards system, and I'm going to try to reward myself and other people in my life based on the following categories to begin with:

1.   Acts of encouragement.  I'll give myself a star every time I go out of my way to encourage someone I might not otherwise encourage.

2.  Compliment-Giving.  Same as #1.

3.  Acts of Kindness.

4.  Positive Focus.  It will be nice to recognize myself or others when they are able to focus on the positive aspects of potentially (or definitely) negative situations.

5.  Job Well Done.  When I see someone who has done a great job on something, no matter how trivial the task might have been, it's time to give that person a green star.

6.  Relationship Maintenance.  When I see someone who recognizes that all relationships take effort on the part of everyone involved, and who tries to do something special to maintain the relationship, it's time for another star.

Those are enough to start with.  Perhaps I'll choose two per week, put them down on a sheet of paper, and start giving myself stars each time I accomplish one of them.  Perhaps I'll do all six all the time--that's up to me, and that can change when I want it to.

I'll get myself some star stickers and put a sticker on the sheet when I accomplish one of the tasks.  Since I don't buy into the idea that gold and silver are important just because they're expensive metals, my stars will be any colors I want them to be--probably blue and green and purple.  I won't cheapen the effort by giving too many awards or awards for things that I normally would do--I'll make sure I get them when I do something that makes me stretch my limits and step out of my comfort zone a bit.

When I start to see patterns--fifteen stars under Compliment-Giving but only three under Relationship Maintenance, for example, I'll start to see what comes more easily to me and what's more difficult.  Then I can decided whether to focus on my strength and do it even better, or to try to develop my weaker areas.

Then one day I'll have my own awards show.  I won't have to be the "best" encouragement-giver--I'll just have to have done well at it in order to receive and award.  Perhaps I'll have my awards show at a donut shop or bakery, and my award will be a cup of coffee and something very good to eat.  Or I can have it at a bookstore and buy myself a couple of books that I'd like to have, but ordinarily wouldn't buy.

To me, this won't be about quantifying what I do or trying to prove anything to myself.  Rather, it will be about keeping such concepts strongly in my conscious mind so that I may be able to practice them more faithfully.  I don't feel that we should do such things because of the possibility of an award, but because they're important to us.  Awards serve as a constant reminder of the possibility of setting our sights higher and improving our performance.  Because if we're not doing that, we're staying right where we are, aren't we?  And while that may be a pleasant place to be, "pleasant" isn't always the best for us as human beings.

   
   

One of the most important elements
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The masters in the art of living make little distinction between their work and their play, their labor and their leisure, their minds and their bodies, their information and their recreation, their love and their religion.  They hardly know which is which.  They simply pursue their vision of excellence at whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing.  To them they're always doing both.

James Michener

  
Oren Lyons was the first Onandagan to enter college.  When he returned to his reservation for his first vacation, his uncle proposed a fishing trip on a lake.  Once he had his nephew in the middle of the lake where he wanted him, he began to interrogate him.  "Well, Oren," he said, "you've been to college; you must be pretty smart now from all they've been teaching you.  Let me ask you a question.  Who are you?"

Taken aback by the question, Oren fumbled for an answer.  "What do you mean, who am I?  Why, I'm your nephew, of course."  His uncle rejected his answer and repeated his question.  Successively, the nephew ventured that he was Oren Lyons, an Onandagan, a human being, a man, a young man, all to no avail.

When his uncle had reduced him to silence and he asked to be informed as to who he was, his uncle said, "Do you see that bluff over there?  Oren, you are that bluff.  And that giant pine on the other shore?  Oren, you are that pine.  And this water that supports our boat?  You are this water."

Huston Smith
   

  

Letting go can feel so unnatural.  We work hard for a promotion,
a relationship, a new car, a vacation.  Then the universe
has the gall to come along and mess up our plans.  How dare it!
And so, rather than opening ourselves to the experiences the await us,
we hold on to the plans that we made for ourselves.  Or we hold on
to bitterness about our plans gone awry.  Sometimes losing our
dreams and plans for our future can hurt as much as losing a
tangible thing.  Sometimes accepting and releasing our broken dreams
is part of accepting a loss.
Let go of your expectations.  The universe will do what it will.  Sometimes
your dreams will come true.  Sometimes they won't.  Sometimes when
you let go of a broken dream, another one gently takes its place.
Be aware of what is, not what you
would like to be, taking place.

Melody Beattie

    

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