Thursday, May 26, 2016

The 5 Things That Prevent You from Seeing Your Life Clearly

A concept from Yoga Philosophy called "The Kleshas" means the experience of "clear seeing".  Clear seeing involves putting focus on what is truly important in life from a larger perspective.  This includes our relationships, our health and spiritual meaning.

Unfortunately, many of us fall into the trap of "unclear seeing" by seeking comfort and distraction and by trying to appease our ever shifting attention.  Unclear seeing is the ROOT of all of our suffering.

There are 5 obstacles that prevent us from "Clear Seeing":

1.  Unclear seeing by being disconnected from ourselves and others.  We take nature, our bodies, and our life on this planet for granted.  We get lost in some imaginary place in the future when we think that everything will be perfect.  We lose sight of the now thinking if we just do this or that or have this or that, this will finally make us happy.  We don't see and we don't notice what already is.

2.  Ego-  Ego springs from the ground of unclear seeing.  We feel ourselves as separate and different from others.  This leads to an overvaluation of the Self.  The world revolves around us.  Our happiness, our struggles, our goals, successes and failures.  We feel large and all important.  We discount others due to our self-absorption.  We are preoccupied with "What's in it for me?".  Pursuing and securing our comforts and pleasure consumes us.

3.  Attraction-  We are drawn to what feels good and attempt to pull things into our world that we associate with comfort.  We become obsessed with things and people that give us comfort and life becomes imbued with the need to control circumstances so that we are comfortable.  Why does this NOT lead to happiness?

4.  Aversion-  We recoil from things/people that we associate with pain or we feel threatens our identity.  This does not work as life is uncertain.  We end up becoming miserable if we try to control everything and our circumstances.

5.  Fear-  Many of us live in fear of loss, and ultimately death.  Fear of recognition of our transience on the Earth.  Our presence on Earth is very fleeting and our all-important Self is really not that important.  So, we pursue pleasure and avoid pain.  We avoid recognizing our vulnerability and lose ourselves in these illusions.

Unclear seeing is common to all human experience.  However, when an individual has had relational trauma or abandonment, it causes dysfunctional attachment.  Because of this, they will use misguided attempts to soothe emotional and relational pain.  When the world fails to be a secure and predictable place, ego and fear gain more traction in the psyche.  We attach to things to help control our feelings that we feel we can not handle.
**Ego strength refers to your capacity to contend with reality and not retreat in a world of escape or fantasy.  If we can not do this, we may soothe with food, alcohol, unhealthy relationships and a myriad of other things.  Once we can choose healthier ways to soothe ourselves, we feel better and feel in alignment with ourselves.

Reference:  The Yoga of Food by Melissa Grabau

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Keeping a Joyful Mind

In Lojong Teachings, it is taught that we often cause our own suffering by not observing the nature of our minds and our thoughts.  The true nature of our mind is always changing, always telling stories and many people think that they are their thoughts.  We can remain as an observer of our mind and our thoughts without getting caught up in the stories that our mind tells.  We all have upwards of 60,000 thoughts per day.  Many of our thoughts are repetitive and negative.  By just observing all of this that is going on, we get less caught up or "hooked" into all of the stories that the mind plays.  If we are not careful, it can really get us hooked in and cause us to act upon things that we may later regret.  If you choose to meditate or breathe regularly throughout the day, this can help to center you and lessen your attachment to your thoughts that you are noticing.  This practice of breathing or meditating causes space between our thoughts and stillness which gives us better clarity allowing us to make decisions and choices that are true to ourselves from a place of knowing, not from thinking or overthinking.  You will not get swept away by your emotions and your awareness increases.

Some general principles that help guide us in keeping a joyful spirit are:

Build others and yourself up.  Talking to your inner critic or the voice that can sometimes be negative to you and others in a way to reframe your situation.  By reassuring yourself and others, you are sending positive energy and effects in the universe.  This has a circular effect in the end.

Remain humble.  Humility helps you to have compassion for yourself and others.  This leads to making you a stronger person when you understand the nature of our lives.

Understand that your greatest obstacles stem from the ego.  Allowing pride, aggression, anger, self-denigration to take over your soul are not helpful.  These are areas to continue to work on.

Stay present.  Many people waste their entire lives worrying about the past or the future.  They feel they need to achieve certain things to be happy.  Enjoy wherever you are right now.

Refrain from talking about other's weaknesses.  Understanding that when we gossip or malign someone else , we are trying to raise ourselves up.  This comes from a place of ego or self-centeredness.  It only poisons you and your spirit.  You will not have a joyful mind doing this type of behavior.

It also poisons you to hold grudges, speak badly of others, let someone have it when they are weak and humiliate others.  This sows seeds of meanness in your heart.

When you are doing something good, have the attitude of wanting it to directly or indirectly benefit others.  Hope that it will increase the experience of kinship with others.

In keeping a joyful mind:

Remember to seek to help others.
Awaken compassion and lessen selfishness.

I wish all of you to feel much joy!!

Reference:  Pema Chodron-  Always Maintaining a Joyful Mind

Colleen Montgomery, LCPC is located at 821 W Benfield Rd, Severna Park, MD 21146.  Sacred Cove Counseling is located inside the Ben Oaks Professional Center.