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It is true. I want you to fail.
With all my heart I want you to fail.
But only completely.
I want you to fail in your search for what you think will make you happy.
Because your search for what you think will make you happy is the only thing that makes you unhappy.
It is what causes your pain and struggle.
It wants more, more, more. Less, less, less. Different, different, different. No, no, no.
But don’t misunderstand me. Because I’m not saying I want you to restrain yourself from the search.
I’m saying I want you to fail.
Failing is falling. It is tripping and looking up and seeing it all differently.
From the normal perspective up here, it is so easy to mistake habits for the totality of reality.
But trip, fall, and then look up. Then you see differently. Everything you thought was the totality of reality is not actually available here if you pause for a moment to see this as it is.
Down here, having failed in the pursuit of winning…
…there’s just this as it is. All the assumptions can be left up there.
Down here, there’s just what’s happening. And who knows what this is?! Do you? If so, you haven’t failed.
And I hope your next failure is soon. Very soon.
If you’re willing to play with me for a moment…right now, come on, let’s be silly and play for a moment…If you’re willing to take your shoes and socks off and get down on the ground and look up…or just look out. Just look out. See whatever is here. Or just see. See without all the stuff that got left up there.
Down here there’s just seeing. Seeing freshly. Never happened before.
Now you can stand up if you want. Put on your serious face again. Stop playing if you want.
Or you can keep playing, even with serious face on. Even with all the other habits and niceties of life happening and even with all that life seems to “trigger” “for you”…why not keep playing?
Play and look out. Just see this as it is. Forget the drab, boring stories of the past for a moment. Just see.
Forget about all that boring grown-up stuff about achievement and self-image and whatever else grown-ups are so concerned with. Just for a moment. And see as you can even now remember having once done. And notice that it is still happening. And if you tell the truth for a moment, it’s never not happened. This seeing. Its happening now is everything that is.
Play and explore it like a child pretending to be a fearless adventurer. Pretend to be someone. Pretend the story. Pretend it all. Like it is for real.
And just notice that this is what is happening.
I want you to fail in your pursuits for happiness because they make you unhappy. This right now is already happening. This is already the miracle. Inconceivable. Ungraspable. And undeniable. Totally obvious.
Look out. It’s happening.
Funny thing about the spiritual search is that it usually seems to be about being something or someone better.
Because we’re unhappy with our idea of who we are. We’re unhappy with what we perceive of our experience. And innocently, we believe that if only we could become someone better, more enlightened, more spiritual, more powerful, whatever…that then we’d be happy and okay and lovable, etc.
Which turns out to be completely wrong. But it is also apparently a necessary part of the journey of self discovery. We start from assumptions and experientially discover how those assumptions are flawed and create unnecessary rigidity and pain.
So it turns out not to be so much a journey of acquisition as a journey of loss.
Loss of identity. Loss of ideas. Loss of beliefs.
And also a loss of burden.
The burden of trying to become someone else.
And an acceptance and surrender to you being you.
Exactly as you are right now.
We complicate this. We dramatize it. We create all kinds of stories about it.
But none of that helps or is necessary.
It is easier when we allow it to be easy. And simple. And direct. And immediate.
Right now, you are you.
This is obvious when you take a moment to notice.
A second later, the mind starts to wonder who this you is. Ideas start flowing. And if we fall into our usual habit, we grasp at those ideas in hopes of getting something that will make us better. Or protect us. Or help us in our quest to become better.
But we don’t have to give attention to that. And even if we do, as soon as we notice that we’re giving attention to that, we are noticing our inherent freedom.
We can notice that regardless of what ideas come and go, in this moment right now, we are always ourselves. Inescapably.
And being ourselves doesn’t require effort. We can’t get it right. Nor wrong.
It doesn’t require anything, in fact. Even when we’re trying really, really hard and totally fixated on fixing and bettering ourselves or protecting ourselves, we are still being fully ourselves in this present moment. Exactly as we are. Inescapably.
So nothing is required. But the status quo for most of us has been to continue to suffer from the wrong imagination that something is required and that we need to protect and fix ourselves.
Fortunately, we can notice right now that we are being ourselves. Before the idea of ourselves. Before the impulse to get it right, do it right, hide, protect, manage, manipulate, etc. Here in this most intimate moment we can notice that we are simply being ourselves.
And we can notice that this is always the case. In retrospect we can see that this has always been so. And we can even see that this will always be so. All in this one intimate moment right now. Just drop the fixation on understanding or fixing or getting somewhere and just notice the absolute simplicity of this right now. Nothing needed that isn’t supplied perfectly right now.
This noticing is the first step.
In my experience, only doing the first step is very powerful, but it has a tendency on its own to lead to a subtle seeking. Better than the older form of seeking. But still a subtle suffering because there is still a subtle seeking for betterment or protection. Because then we can imagine wrongly that we need to hide out in noticing.
But that’s not true.
So there are other steps that can help.
For example, one possible second step is to not only notice, but to confess one’s vulnerability, insecurity, impermanence, “flaws”, etc.
Not as a means to get something. But simply because it feels good. It is light. It clears the air of any confusion. Lest either of us begins to mistake ourselves or one another for something we are not. This ongoing flow of self expression – not just the “good”, but also the “bad” – reveals what is beyond good and bad. It offers a living invitation to all “others” to recognize that they too can be themselves.
Because they already are. Inescapably.
One of those quirky (and fairly dysfunctional) things that I learned growing up is that I need to be special to be okay.
It wasn’t enough to be me. I had to be special me.
When I was in school, one year the teacher asked us to write a report on what we’d be when we grew up. Being me wasn’t enough to write a report on. So what would I be when I grew up? Something special.
This is a recipe for unhappiness, of course. Because even if I succeeded in becoming something special, even if I got the admiration, adoration, and approval that I thought I wanted, I’d be left with a terrible anxiety inside. A doubt…”Is it me they love? Or my specialness?”
My specialness can disappear. For example, if my specialness is some special talent or ability, I could lose it. Or it can easily turn into something that people despise instead of love.
So no matter how special I manage to become, it only makes me more anxious, feeling more isolated.
Fortunately, I was so completely miserable being special – with my special OCD, special anger, special aloofness – I had to die to specialness.
And what that left was just me.
Just me…and the totality of life.
In comparison to the totality of life, it’s tempting to fall into the idea that I’m unimportant. Because I’m apparently pretty small and apparently pretty insignificant. And life is apparently really huge. After all, life is holding it all, moving it all, being it all. The stars and the light that stretch across space so vast that it might as well be infinite. Planets orbiting those stars. Moons orbiting some of the planets. Planets so large that in and of themselves, they make me appear insignificant.
But my heart is also beat by the same life. My apparent life is animated by that same intelligence.
And it is intelligent. It is responsive and creative and alive. Clearly. All I have to do is open my eyes and it is clear.
Heck, I don’t even have to open my eyes. Even with them closed, here is an infinite universe seemingly “within”. Alive, intelligent, aware.
In direct experience, my life isn’t separate from life itself.
I may not be special. Blessedly so.
But I am important.
You are important. Not because you are special, though.
Just because we are. We are important because we are.
There is another option, you know. As Shakespeare famously posed it…to be or not to be.
But this is not a choice we can be assured that we get to make. Me, my idea of myself as a separate, time-bound thing…do I get to choose to be or not to be? Would killing myself result in not being?
I don’t think so. Plenty have killed themselves, but still, being persists.
So to be or not to be is not my choice, not your choice.
Being is happening. Being is choosing me. I can know this because here I am.
Sometimes it seems like and appears like torture. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes we wish it wasn’t.
But wishes aside, being is happening. So rather than wishing or hoping, what can I do?
I can choose being now. I can choose my life now. I can choose what is and live from trust. I can choose all of what I am as important…not just the parts that I think are good, acceptable, and okay. All of me, all of my experiences.
What I’ve found is that choosing to live from trust is terrifying to my self-concept. My conditioned ideas of myself as an island responsible for all my own experiences and feelings and for being special can’t co-exist with the immediate direct raw experience of 100% choosing this now.
My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay when I have $$$ in my bank account enough. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if people approve of me. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if I’m “getting it right”.
But these ideas are stiffling. This whole idea of myself is like a straightjacket.
Here’s the question I ask: am I truly fulfilled?
If the answer is no, there are three options:
1. Ignore the warning signs and keep doing more of the same
2. React by seeking for solutions to the problem
3. Trust fully, surrender to life, and be moved
I tried the first two for most of my life with extremely painful results. Ultimately, the pain of that led/forced me to truly open to the third option.
The third option is humbling. It is unknown. It completely undoes my ideas of myself.
It strips me bare and often puts me on display in uncomfortable ways. It leaves me exposed, vulnerable. It has repeatedly shown me that I don’t need the money, things, experience, people, or other things that I thought I needed to be okay or fulfilled.
This way is uncommon, though I suspect that it is becoming more common. It is uncommon because it flies in the face of what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and life. But I believe it is becoming more common because more and more people are waking up to just how painful the other options are.
Collectively, humanity has more than enough nuclear weapons to ensure that doing more of the same is a terrible idea.
And we’ve sought for solutions (at the level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place) without success. The search for solutions leads to the holocaust and to the (in my humble opinion absolutely insane) neuralink (google it) and to rare earth mineral mining and tar sands projects and on and on.
So those of us with open minds and open hearts are ready for a different option.
And I am proposing the third option – surrender to life, trust in the intelligence that beats our hearts.
This is a messy option. It doesn’t allow for the 1% to decide for the 99%. It doesn’t even allow for representative democracy.
Because this third option acknowledges the importance of everyone and everything. And the wholeness and integrity of everyone and everything.
It requires that we prioritize listening. Listening to our hearts. Listening to one another. And listening to those who don’t speak in the same language we do…
Which requires patience. And slowing down. And a willingness to see and feel and be witness to what we have tried to avoid.
Because when I surrender to life, I am humbled to realize that I am not the center of the universe. Everything and everyone is important. And this reveals that my own experience is not just for me. My experience is a gift that is given through me.
A humble receiving of my own experience without treating it as a problem or trying to solve it, without trying to ignore it or sweep it under the rug…but a true surrender…is my spiritual practice, as it were.
That’s what I am here in service of.
I am the father of three children.
Being a father has changed my life in ways I could not have predicted. Well beyond merely having additional responsibilities and learning to live with more people…though including those things.
Having children has given me the clearest and most direct lesson that life is not all about me.
This has been a difficult lesson to learn. And some might think that is curious since much of what I share is about awakening to the impersonal nature of life. But all the same there is a difference between discovering something and actually *living* it.
Being a father is a choice to actually live it. It is choosing to show up and keep showing up and receive it all. Including the daily failures. Failures to communicate. Failures to keep my cool. Failures to be non-reactive. Failures to get what I want. Failures to protect them as much as I want. Failures to know everything. Failures to be kind and patient.
It is humbling. And it is often thankless.
And it is the most important thing.
A young person I know recently got into some serious legal trouble. I feel a lot of grief, sadness, and anger. He is charged with three felonies. Heartbreaking. Because he is so sweet, such a good, honest person with a loving heart.
And he had and has no father for most of his life. His biological father abused him as a child, and he was removed from his father many years ago.
The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma are ours to take responsibility for. Now. Here. In ourselves. And in our relationships with others.
The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma can only continue when we’re unwilling to show up fully. If we show up fully, they cannot continue.
To show up fully is to be vulnerable. Not to be perfect. Not to get it all right. But to show up and be real and vulnerable. To admit to failures. To look others in the eye. To say I’m sorry. To be humbled and to still show up.
Even when the conditioning of millions of years says to get the hell out of here. Or to hit. Or to shout. To blame. To shame. To violate.
Even when that conditioning has already played out. It is not too late.
Now is the time.
I came into this life with a lot of challenges. I developed more challenges through this life. Emotionally challenged. Shame, humiliation, disgust, terror, arrogance.
Before I became a father, I thought I needed to change all those things and fix myself first before I could be worthy of relationship.
Nearly nine years after becoming a father, nine years of choosing to be a father, to show up daily, I know differently.
I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to fix everything first.
I just need to be willing to keep showing up, keep being humbled, keep opening my heart.
Trauma leads to more trauma…when we try to avoid it all and fix it all and isolate.
But the healing of trauma occurs with presence, the willingness to show up and be vulnerable and receive this experience, this moment right now. And in the healing of trauma there is a gift to the world.
The gift of presence matters. It matters to everyone.
First, I choose to be present to my own experience. I choose not to reject my experiences, my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts, my circumstances. I choose to receive it all, acknowledging that I don’t know what any of this means. But I can choose to receive it and trust in life, Trust in that which gave life to me.
Second, I choose to be present to my own experience in the presence of others and to be present to others as they have their experiences.
Third, I choose to forgive myself and others for when we forget what is most important. And I choose to show up vulnerably now.
To me, this is what it is to be a father. And a friend. And a lover. And a human being.
It matters. It makes a difference.
Your presence matters. Your presence to your own experience. And your presence to others. Your presence heals.
You may be a father. You may be a mother. You may not be a father or mother. But your presence matters. It matters to you. It matters to your friends, family, and loved ones. It matters to the world.
Don’t underestimate the importance of showing up vulnerable and authentic now.
When I’m feeling happy, I’m breathing.
When I’m feeling sad, I’m breathing.
When I’m feeling angry, I’m breathing.
When I’m rich, I’m breathing.
When I’m poor, I’m breathing.
When I’m succeeding, I’m breathing.
When I’m failing, I’m breathing.
When people like me, I’m breathing.
When people don’t like me, I’m breathing.
Whatever is happening, I’m breathing. I’m alive. Life is happening. And it is all given freely, unconditionally, always.
My mind says, “Yeah, but what about if you can’t breathe?”
Yeah, maybe at some point. But right now, I’m breathing. So right now life is happening freely. Right now despite any protestations of mind, reality is I am alive. Right now there is an infinite field of potential that is open. Right now there is no problem that can overshadow the fact that all this is happening (instead of not happening).
Why overlook it any longer? Why deny this?
All the overlooking and denial doesn’t change the fact that this is happening. I am alive. I am breathing. I am.
This is always here. Whether I overlook it or deny it or not.
Do you ever feel that something is wrong? Not as it should be?
Of course you do. We all do.
But have you ever considered, and I mean deeply considered, what exactly is wrong?
Sometimes it seems so clear. For example, I once was sick with Lyme disease. I could attribute the wrongness that I experience as being caused by the illness. And if I believe that my illness is caused by an infection, I might attribute the wrongness to the infection. Or if I believe the illness is caused by my life circumstances, I might attribute the wrongness to the circumstances.
Of course, other times, it isn’t so clear. For example, after a while – about 7 years in – I started to suspect that maybe, just maybe, my Lyme disease symptoms had nothing to do with Lyme disease. But then, what was the cause? If you’ve experienced (as we all have) mysterious symptoms of feeling that something is off or wrong in your life, you probably know what it is to search for the cause.
In my case, I wondered if it was caused by heavy metals or maybe sleep problems or maybe breathing problems or maybe nutritional problems or maybe because once upon a time my school principal threatened to paddle me with a wooden paddle or maybe because of the trauma of a dental surgery I had when I was 21. Or maybe another million possible reasons.
But here’s a radical idea. What if none of my interpretations are correct? What if all the causes I’ve assumed were the causes of the problem are not the causes at all?
What if…and this might be hard to truly consider, but just open to it for a moment…what if there is no problem at all? What if everything in my life and your life and life in general is exactly perfect?
Not perfect in the sense that all that happens is kind, loving, gentle, generous, and all the other kinds of things that I think that life should be exclusively made of. Because clearly that’s not the case.
But perfect in that this is actually happening.
Let that in for a moment. Let it blow your mind.
This is happening. If you are willing to set aside for a moment all the things you think you know about why this shouldn’t be happening – the pain, suffering, misery, torture, horror, terror, etc. – you can let in that this IS happening.
How many times in life have you shied away from happening? Tried to avoid feelings, people, conversations, situations, thoughts, judgments…
I have done that a lot.
But life doesn’t shy away. Life keeps showing up.
Even with the pain, suffering, misery, etc. Even if it is hard or scary or whatever else, life keeps showing up 100% without hesitation.
Every moment, life keeps showing up. Never not here.
Even when you curse it.
Instead of assuming that life is against us, what would happen if we just see what is actually happening?
I know what would happen.
We’d be surprised.
We’d see clearly that this is all happening. And we’d see that we don’t know what any of it means.
And we’d be in awe.
Even when we’re sick. Even when we’re reactive. Even when we’re suffering.
Nothing could strike the awe from us because we would recognize that awe as the purest manifestation of the divine, which is the seed of our human being.
It would allow us to recognize that while we don’t know what any of life means, we can choose to trust.
We have been misled. We’ve been taught that we are gods. We’ve been taught that we are responsible for fixing and managing our lives.
At a certain phase of development we need to learn that we can make our own beds and brush our own teeth and wipe our own butts.
But we’re all functioning at that level and have been for a long time. We know we can blow our own noses, chew our own food.
Is that idea that we are gods still useful to us? Or does it blind us with nearsighted fixation, always thinking only of my, me, mine?
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself. And for me, it is very much time to admit that I don’t know what any of my life means. I don’t know what life means. And every time I try to figure it out, I overlook the awe that is my purest connection with the divine. The awe that is always here.
Rather than assuming that I need to figure out my life and fix it, I find immense joy in the awe.
That awe is always here. In the happiness and in the frustration, in health and in sickness, in gain and in loss.
My every footstep, every breath, every thought, every desire is guided perfectly now, now, and now. Always now.
And so is yours. Just look and see. Everything is happening. All of this, including you, is happening. Happening perfectly.
Whatever I may think my purpose is, the meaning of my life, the truth of my purpose and the meaning of my life reveals itself always now. This happening.
My mind always wants more. It is not content with the infinite. It wants to control the infinite and augment the infinite.
But me being just as I am already augments the infinite. Me as I am, including my supposed faults and my supposed illnesses and my supposes traumas and my supposed seeking and my supposed suffering, is already happening. It is already new. This has never been before. This is happening freshly. Always fresh.
I don’t need to do anything to make this happen. I can trust in the awe. Ride the wave.
It seems that we live in the Age of Anxiety.
Generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic, PTSD, OCD…and just plain old nervousness and worry.
Who *doesn’t* struggle with some form of anxiety?
With so many smart people looking at the “problem” of anxiety and what to do about it – from drugs to cognitive behavioral therapy to Somatic Experiencing to yoga therapy to psychedelic-aided therapy to ayahuasca, there are a lot of different proposed remedies.
But are they really working? Maybe for some. But not for the majority. Clearly not.
With all those smart, educated, experienced, good-hearted people working on it, it might seem arrogant or naive that I would claim that I have a better cure.
But I do.
And I’m going to share it with you.
I lived for the first 32 years of my life in anxiety. It grew to the point at which I was in panic all day and all night…for many years. I felt like an electric current was going through my body, electrifying my nerves, causing me to feel unable to find any ease or okayness.
From the age of 11 I struggled with OCD and anorexia. In shame, I hid and avoided. I starved myself and over-exercised. I washed my hands dozens of times a day. I turned around clockwise, then counterclockwise, to try to manage my anxious feelings. I counted, I tried to blank out unwanted thoughts and images. I tried to do social things only to find myself running away back to the relative safety of my home. But even my home wasn’t safe. I would lie awake at night in terror, imagining all kinds of things that might be happening – ways I might be being harmed by invisible things.
It was so bad and I failed so completely to make things better (even after years of therapy, meditation, yoga, affirmations, breathwork, prayer, hundreds of self-help books, countless workshops, and on and on) that eventually I grew hopeless. Nothing could help me, I believed. I thought I was broken. Damaged. Beyond hope.
Eventually I became homeless. I searched everywhere I could go – traveling all around the country – for something, anything that might help. But things kept getting worse.
Only when I had thoroughly exhausted everything else that I could think of was I finally humbled enough to open to the real answer.
And the real answer turns out to be radically different than everything else I had ever sought after. Hence why I had been overlooking it. And why the vast majority of people, including really intelligent, well-researched, good-hearted people also overlook it.
It is completely counterintuitive because it is NOT about getting rid of unwanted symptoms. It is not about getting RID of anxiety. It is not about defeating anxiety or breaking free of anxiety.
It is about actually discovering directly what anxiety is and welcoming it home.
In the past six years I’ve coached many people to successfully discover this for themselves. They also suffered from anxiety – whether OCD, social anxiety, phobias, or other variations – and now they don’t.
So I am confident that what I am about to share with you is the real answer.
Now, let me say that there are many things that can help to reduce anxiety symptoms. Things like mindfulness, yoga, certain breathing exercises (though others can make anxiety worse), gentle exercise, good nutrition, healing relationships and improving communication skills, and improving sleep. And I view all of those things as being well worth exploring…as an adjunct to the core “practice” that I will share with you, but not as a replacement.
On their own, those things rarely, if ever, actually cure anxiety. They don’t address the core of anxiety. They don’t help a person to directly meet anxiety and discover what it is. So even though they can be supportive of good health and well-being, they can also mask the core of anxiety and prolong the struggle and suffering if they are done *in place of* direct meeting of anxiety.
The essential cure for anxiety is, as I have just hinted, the direct meeting of the experience. Not trying to get rid of it, calm it, change it, fix it, solve it, or anything else.
How does one go about direct meeting?
Simple. Do nothing.
But because most people are so addicted to doing something, they have no idea what doing nothing even means! They want to try to restrain something – force the body to be still (which typically means rigid), force the mind to be blank, etc.
That’s not what I mean.
When I say “do nothing”, what I actually mean is to explore in your own direct experience – without using words, labels, ideas, concepts, or any referencing to any past – to discover what it is that is already doing nothing. What it is that is already open and free and still.
When you discover this which is always already still, you will also discover that no bodily movements or movements of thought or movements of sensation or emotion cause any problems or interfere with this stillness.
And this stillness or spaciousness is the anchor that you can rely on.
What you can notice is that most of the time, your attention is with thoughts. Even if those thoughts aren’t in words, you can see (if you are observant) that most of the time your attention is with trying to figure life out, trying to find future safety or fulfillment, trying to understand, comparing what is to what “should be”.
All those processes are the processes of the bodymind. It’s doing its job, trying to stay safe and acquire what it wants and needs. That is fine. And, in fact, there’s no need to try to fix that or change that. We don’t need to calm the mind or still the mind or get rid of any agitation in order to discover the true cure for anxiety. We can be free of anxiety even with all the same circumstances, feelings, thoughts, and sensations.
Instead of giving more attention to all that stuff, what you can do is allow attention to rest for a moment. It is like hitting the “pause button” on life for a second. Like setting down your heavy luggage that you’ve been carrying around. Like putting down the armor and weapons and ending the battle for a moment.
Anyone can do this. Even if you are in the midst of a panic attack, you can choose to do this for just one second. Or at least for half a second.
It is like learning to ride a bicycle without holding onto the handlebars. You don’t have to take your hands off and hold them up in the air for ten minutes while you ride the bike. At first, it is enough just to lift the hands off the handlebars for half a second. That gives you a taste. It proves to you in your own direct experience that it is possible for you.
In the same way, you can take your hands off the mind and thoughts and fixation of what all of this is and what it means and what is going to happen and what you need to do…for just a second. Just let it go for a second.
And in this one second, you can notice that you are.
Not the idea of what you are. Not the idea that you are. Not something that is debatable. Not a philosophical argument.
Just the obvious, intimate recognition that you are.
Don’t complicate it. I’m not talking about something special or extraordinary. I’m talking about the very, very ordinary sense that you are.
Everyone can recognize this. In fact, everyone does recognize this. So I am fully confident that you do. Even if your mind complicates it a second later and starts to doubt. The instantaneous recognition always is that you are. There is no way around it.
This is so simple, so easy to overlook, that most of us overlook it our whole lives. Most of us will even dismiss it if someone points it out to us.
And for that reason, many people suffer needlessly.
At first, this glimpse may be very short. And maybe you’ll go back to overlooking it a second later. But if you trust in this process and continue to look in this way by dropping thought fixation for a moment and simply recognizing what it is that is already effortlessly free and aware now and always, this undoes anxiety.
In fact, in the moment of allowing attention to rest and recognize the spaciousness that allows everything, there is no anxiety.
Anxiety is an idea that we believe in. We choose that idea over the direct experience…until we stop making that choice and instead choose direct experience.
When we begin to choose direct experience, we are instantly putting a stop to anxiety. Because in direct experience – in the direct recognition of the open aliveness that is at the heart of who we know ourselves to be – there is no anxiety.
But this doesn’t necessarily get rid of or change the sensations. And this is where people often get hung up. Because they continue to check to see if the sensations have changed. And they do that by looking to thoughts.
As soon as they look to thoughts, they typically find anxiety. The mind quickly labels the experience as anxiety and the story is off and running – all so fast that many people don’t even realize what is happening.
But again, if you pause and just allow attention to shift from mind and rest, you can notice that which is effortlessly receiving all and which is always already free of anxiety. Even though the intensity of experience may continue, there is no anxiety.
The cynical mind claims this is a sleight of hand move – that all I’m doing is taking the label off anxiety, but that anxiety remains.
And yet, that is not true. The habit of fixating on anxiety actually generates anxiety. The more we fixate on anxiety – even in the sense of trying to get rid of it – the more anxiety we generate. But when we allow attention to rest and we tune into the spaciousness that knows nothing of anxiety, this is like a reset. We are actually allowing the nervous system, the bodymind, to entrain to the frequency of no-anxiety.
Intensity of experience is not a problem in and of itself. Orgasm is intense, but how many people complain about orgasm? Love, ecstasy, bliss, pleasure…all intense, but not a problem.
What we call anxiety is intensity of experience combined with conditioned reactivity. The conditioned reactivity colors the experience and makes it “bad”. But when we stop feeding into that conditioning and instead entrain to the spaciousness of being, we are actually undoing that conditioning, allowing a reset so that we can perceive the experience as it is rather than as we have been conditioned to perceive it based on the past.
So at first, this can seem like a doing. It can seem like a practice that you have to do because it can seem challenging. But the more you trust in this process and access unconditioned being, the more that conditioning falls away and you will find that you naturally experience less anxiety and even when you do, you can access unconditioned being and entrain to that.
This process is extremely effective. And, in my experience coaching people over the past six years, I see that few people actually apply it successfully in their lives on their own. It normally takes some coaching and accountability for people to truly apply it and get the results.
So if you are highly self-motivated, awesome. Apply this and I promise you, you will see the results.
But if you find that you’re struggling, needing support, clarification, and guidance, don’t feel that you are alone. Reach out and get support – if not from me, from a mentor who you can trust who truly knows how to directly meet all experience, someone who lives it and who can guide you. Keep reading my blog posts and books and watch my videos for support and guidance.
And if you want more intensive support and guidance, please know that I’m here in full support and available for that. The best, most effective system I know of that helps people get rapid results with this process is the Access Points program that I co-facilitate. It is an eight week program with daily support that helps people discover ever-present, unconditional peace in their lives. You can join us for a free introductory meeting here -> https://brianmarc.com/oneness
Whatever you do, don’t suffer. Suffering is a choice. I promise you, no matter how bad your anxiety or suffering seems, peace and freedom is available to you. Ten years ago I didn’t believe there was any hope for me. The amount of suffering I used to experience is actually difficult to believe. I remember what it was like, but now it is very much like remembering a dream. There is a way. It is just in the last place you ever thought to look. It’s not about fixing or getting rid of anything. It’s about a deep surrender to life which has you here.
We all have many imagined problems.
Or, at least, most of us do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re mega-ultra-enlightened and you no longer have any sense of any problem whatsoever.
But the rest of us imagine plenty of problems.
And we try to solve those problems.
Ultimately, we’re unsuccessful in solving the problems.
Maybe we seem to solve one problem. Maybe two problems. Maybe three. Maybe a hundred problems solved.
But still, the problem isn’t solved. Because there’s still a problem.
I’ve asked this of enough people and gotten confirmation, so I’m fairly confident that this is a common experience among us.
The problems present as all kinds of things. Not enough love. Not enough money. Not enough respect. Not enough health. Not enough fairness. Too much burden. Too much responsibility. Too much fear. Too much greed. Other people’s behavior. Our own behavior. Politics. Career. Relationships. Spouses. Children. Parents. Siblings. Neighbors. The weather.
Whatever the problems seem to be, we can’t solve the problem underneath the problem. Because no matter how much money or love or respect or kindness or ease we get in life, it’s never enough. No matter how much we free ourselves of our obligations and responsibilities, we still feel dissatisfied. No matter how many things we acquire. No matter where we go. No matter what we accomplish. No matter what…it never fully solves the problem.
Or maybe we have a problem that we can’t seem to solve. Chronic health problems that don’t resolve no matter what we try. A feeling of being unlucky or cursed that we can’t shake. Maybe no matter what we do, we struggle with money. Maybe no matter what we do, we struggle with anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, unworthiness, lack, etc.
But all of that is looking in the wrong direction and we end up asking the wrong questions like “what’s wrong with me?” or “why me?” or “what do I have to do to get things right?”
Here’s why we can’t ever really solve the problem.
It’s because the problem is not a problem. It’s the gateway. It is the invitation to the fullness of life.
As long as we try to solve the problem, we overlook the simple fact that we’ve never fully, truly, actually been still and restful for the split second necessary to directly meet our own experience. Instead, we’re always squirming, trying to avoid it. We give attention to thoughts about it – all speculation, all based on past conditioning, all based on our ideas which we picked up along the way…
But we don’t actually stop and find out *directly* what this is.
Not another concept about it. Not a name of it. Not a story about it. Not what it was a second ago or what it will be tomorrow.
Now. This. As it is. You. Your intimate experience of yourself, of life, before, during, and after all thoughts, all resistance, all reactivity.
Here’s what I’m proposing to you. If you’ve reached a point where you’ve had enough of the struggle and seeking for solutions. If you’re done with the suffering of seeking for future betterment. If you’re exhausted to the bone and ready to set down the armor and the arrogance of everything you think you know. If you’re ready to finally admit that you haven’t managed to win…
Then open to this: stop looking for an answer. Stop looking for a cure, remedy, solution, or any form of salvation.
Whatever is here. Whatever experience. Whatever sensation. Whatever image. Whatever fear…
Just open to it. By setting down the armor. Setting down the seeking. Setting down the effort.
Be still for a moment. Be vulnerable. Naked. Raw. Open.
As you are.
All of you. Exposed.
And don’t move.
Let everything else move as it does. The wind in the trees. The thoughts and sensations moving in the body. The birds singing. The heart beating.
But you…you be still. Which you are. You cannot be otherwise. So this is not a restraint.
It’s just that for a moment, you can recognize the stillness that you already are, that is already present. That is already effortless.
Whatever happens, remain quiet for now. Don’t move to understand. Don’t grasp a thought. Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t get somewhere. Don’t get something. Don’t solve. Don’t do anything.
Just for a second.
Be still and see what is. You are. This is.
Does this require anything? Are there any conditions for life to be?
If there is intensity, let there be intensity. If there is boredom, let there be boredom. If there is anger, let there be anger. If there is fear, let there be fear. If there is numbness, let there be numbness. If there is nothing, let there be nothing.
Whatever is, let it be. And just see that it is. You are.
And there are no conditions for this. It is.
Now you have a choice. Either remain with this recognition of life as it is, open, free, now, unknown. Or give attention to the next thought.
You don’t need to stop thought. Or get rid of it. Or make the thoughts positive.
Just see that it is all happening. And that life is already without a problem.
Typically, the next thought is something like “But this couldn’t be the answer!”
And that’s right. This is not the answer. Because there is no answer. If we are seeking for an answer, we’re already starting from the assumption that there is a problem.
We don’t need an answer or solution or remedy or cure.
Life doesn’t have a problem. You and your life are not a problem.
But you can’t see that clearly as long as you’re looking for a solution. And that is why everything you do to solve the problem only reinforces the problem.
This is paradoxical. But it is true.
The real answer is not an answer. It is prior to the problem. Already here. Already available.
Always intimately accessible.
P.S. – Tomorrow I’m co-hosting an introduction to Access Points with my friend, Chanan. The Access Points program is wonderful and I truly want you to learn more about it. It is a simple, direct process with huge support that helps people to ease into this recognition of life as it is – open, free, and problem free – like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Join us tomorrow (Friday) for the meeting, and we’ll share with you the process and give you a taste of how you can begin to apply it in your life right away. Register here -> https://www.brianmarc.com/oneness
Do you ever feel stretched thin? Pushed to your limits? Do you ever feel as though you might lose your shit? Break down?
Good. Then we’re both human.
Maybe we can drop all the superhuman ideas for a moment and meet here. In our humanity. In our common experience.
For a lot of my life I sincerely believed that life should exalt me. I thought that life was all about me.
That was a lot of pressure. And painful.
Then I was afraid to be humble. To be human.
And all the spiritual pursuits were to become superhuman – to get rid of the “base human experience” – the intensity, the discomfort, the uncertainty, the fear.
Life has showed me a different way, however. It is not always easy. It is not always fun. It doesn’t always feel good. And it doesn’t often look the way I thought my life should look.
It’s messy. It’s challenging. It pushes me to my limits.
Then beyond my limits.
Revealing what has no limits. Revealing what was all along.
And paradoxically, in this, the human is allowed. This sometimes challenged, frustrated, discouraged human. With shortcomings.
So much of so-called spirituality appears to have as its aim the end of the human. The ultimate escape.
But if we tell the truth, isn’t that just another carrot dangling in front of us, promising us that really, truly, somewhere in the future, some day, we might finally escape the human?
My question: why bother?
That’s not real freedom. That’s really just suffering by another name.
Real freedom welcomes it all. Including the pain, the difficulty, the fear.
On this blog I’ve played with different ways of sharing the intimacy of what it is to be fully human and also fully awake to what it is that is always here, allowing the human, allowing the emotion, allowing the birds to sing, allowing the crocodiles to eat the zebras.
Sometimes I’ve erred too much on the side of not sharing enough personal stuff and leaving it all too theoretical sounding. Other times I’ve erred too much on the side of too much personal stuff without enough context to help shine a light on the greater picture that I’m attempting to shine a light on.
What I have always *wanted* to do successfully is to communicate that true freedom doesn’t have conditions. It doesn’t require that you behave a particular way. It doesn’t require that you speak a particular way. It doesn’t require a particular understanding.
And I attempt to communicate that through sharing of my life, my experience.
So let me try again.
My life is full (as is yours…it is completely full of life). And that includes the “good” as well as the “bad”.
The freedom that I communicate about is unconditional. It doesn’t depend on the “bad” going away.
I have three young children who we homeschool. That’s not easy. For me, it involves a great deal of humility. I am humbled many times every day when my children don’t behave in the way I think they “should”. Their “unwanted” behavior triggers all kinds of conditioning in me – anger, frustration, sadness.
I have long-standing health challenges. I’ve struggled with mysterious illness that waxes and wanes for a long, long time. And when symptoms are intense, that’s challenging.
I don’t always behave well. I am sometimes reactive.
I have fears based in old programming of lack – not enough time, not enough money, not enough love, not enough…
All of this is allowed.
Not because I am allowing it. I don’t have that power. I’m not superhuman. All I can do is give up my imagined superhuman powers and receive the gift of life as it is now.
It is in this that I recognize the ever-present power that allows it all always, unconditionally.
This ever-present power that allows it all always unconditionally is here now. It is nearer than my next breath. And there is no boundary that I can find between me and it.
There is only this in direct experience.
But that doesn’t get rid of thought, feeling, sensation, emotion, memory, or any of the feelings that the mindbody has come to conceive of as “me”.
This is true freedom.
Effortless freedom. Already already given.
And to discover this, all that is necessary, is to stop looking for something else.
The challenge is that we’re all so strongly conditioned to look for something else, we don’t even know how to stop! We don’t even know what stopping is.
Which is why there is a paradox with self inquiry.
The paradox is that with self inquiry the recognition that occurs is instantaneous and complete (there is only ever freedom), but the momentum of the habit of looking for something else – consulting the mind of solutions to all its invented problems – typically continues. So we may stop, look, and recognize for an instant right now that there is boundless aliveness here as our most intimate experience of ourselves. But then a second later, we may be concerning ourselves with all our imagined problems.
This seems like an obstacle at first. But through repeated inquiry, it may become clearer that all the habits of seeking, conditioned mind are equally allowed in the spaciousness of being.
So if you’re looking for a quick fix technique to change how you feel, to change your state…self inquiry isn’t it. But if you’re interested in seeing the false as false and thus recognizing the light of awareness that illuminates all unconditionally, self inquiry is powerful. It just takes persistent looking (and the support of those who can point clearly over and over for as long as it takes).
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