Every Way is Our Way

by Adrian W. Hall, MFT, ATR

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“Enlightenment is not a prize at the end of the race or search but finally being present in the world as it is.  As long as we are looking for something from the world, we never really see it as it is, as the pick pocket never sees the wizard, but only his pockets!  We reclaim the world and the moment as ours whenever we drop the desire to make things come out our way and simply let things happen, trusting that every way is our way.  We remind ourselves of what Govinda said, ‘The certainty that nothing can happen to us that does not in our innermost being belong to us is the foundation of fearlessness’” (p. 203).

This week, all I am going to write about is this small excerpt.  It says so much. 

First of all, it is important to realize that our work toward higher consciousness and higher level functioning is never done.  We are human!  There is no end of the road or “there” to get to.  We are in constant evolution. It would help us all to get super cozy with the concept of being in process.  I fully know and accept this and was kindly reminded of it today.  Yes, that’s also part of the human deal:  you get it, then you lose it, you get it, then you lose it.  The game is: how fast can you get your awareness back on track?  One merciful part of the process is that usually the more times you “get” something, the deeper you integrate it.

The issue of trying to get our way by controlling outcomes is what I want to talk about.  Let’s just put it out there right away:  when we are strategizing mentally, coercing, convincing, pressuring, nagging or getting angry to make things come out the way we want, that is called controlling.    Don’t worry, we need to be in action and control things to some extent.  Where we want to look is where we are over doing it.  When we are over doing it, it is likely that we are not accepting some part of reality and wasting our energy fighting against the flow or we are getting in our own way.  Most of the time, over controlling comes from fear.

Here are a couple of ways to address this:

  1. Realize the importance of equanimity.  My general understanding is “I do my work and allow others to do theirs”.   We need to let things around us do their work.  Cooking a steak in pan?  Leave it alone and let it char for a while.  Baking cookies?  You don’t want to keep opening the oven every two minutes.  You let the oven do the work.  Realize what is beyond your control or not yours to do.  It is that way for a reason!

  2.  You can ask yourself:  is there anything I am not willing to see and accept right now?  Usually what you are not seeing is quite simple, it fits into a 10 second truth.  It’s important to look for this because trying to over control comes from not wanting something to be true that actually is true.  There is a lot of pain and wasted energy in not being able to be with the world as it is and our circumstances as they are.  There is actually beauty and perfection, right now, all around you.  It’s a question of whether we are present to it or not. 
  3. Consider the possibility that everything is EXACTLY as it should be in this very moment.  Even if it is difficult or painful.  Human beings have an intrinsic drive toward growth (growth doesn’t always happen when things are easy) and we are imperfect, so pain is inevitable.  When we are trying to control, we are often trying to avoid pain.  Resetting back to the consideration that everything is exactly as it is means you don’t have to control any outcomes.
  4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to whatever the feeling is in response to the reality that is in front of you that you are not liking.  Yes, it is OK to be sad or worried about your child being held back a grade in school.  And, it might be the very best thing for them.  Yes, it is OK to not want to have surgery AND it might be what your body needs to get better.  Just because it is for the best in the long run, doesn’t mean your feelings about it shouldn’t get their day in the sun. 
  5. Being connected to yourself and present to the world is really the safest way to operate.  Why?  Because all the resources and wisdom you need are inside you and everything in the world around you is exactly as it needs to be for your life’s mission.  We get ourselves into trouble when we are disconnected and avoidant of the truth around us, when we try to control the truth of what is around us.  If you can be connected, the feelings you have about a situation will do their job of giving you the message of what needs to come next.  The idea is to learn how to let those feelings be and learn what they mean.  How can you be connected?  Start tuning in to your interior world.  Write, talk, notice the sensations occurring in your body in response to what is happening.  How do you be present to the world?  Slow down, be mindful, meditate, try to see things with new eyes.

*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".  

Trusting Audacious Intuition

by Adrian W. Hall, MFT, ATR

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Letting go of control and creating space for things beyond what we currently imagine possible is a hard thing to do.  Why?  Because it means leaving behind what we know and what is safe, even if it makes us miserable.  And it means leaving behind what is familiar for something you can’t even clearly see yet.  It comes up over and over again for my clients:  Do I choose to go on as I am now, for logical reasons like money or time? Or take a risk by leaving my job, my relationship, living with my family or [fill in the blank]?  Let me just include that I also see this when people are confronted with having to give up a way of being.  It is not just about giving up concrete things like a relationship or job, it can be about giving up the way you act in a relationship or the way you handle anger.  When people are asking this kind of question, to do what is logical/familiar/safe or to take a risk, it is usually because there is a level of discontent (at best), but underneath that, I suspect there is a deeper part of them that knows they need to take a leap.  **I should put it out there that someone who is often avoidant and has a pattern of running away might an exception to this. 

I also hear about and witness people having powerful experiences as a result of taking the leap.  I know of many stories where people have left a job without any prospects because they were so unhappy.  They chose their happiness over security and, just in time, when they were going to run out of money, another, better opportunity was presented.  It is not just their happiness that they chose, it was the inner wisdom that was coming through being miserable that they chose to honor.  That internal feedback is so important.  Sometimes that feedback comes in the form of unpleasant emotion because pain or discomfort is a powerful motivator.  This week, I want to share a section of David Richo’s book where he illustrates this very concept:

“A dramatic example of this occurs in the Odyssey when Ulysses, after leaving the island of Calypso, is shipwrecked.  He has lost his crew and his fleet and is alone in the sea holding onto a single plank.  Hope seems lost when suddenly Leucothea, a sea goddess, appears and tells him that the only way to survive is to let go.  His logical mind tells him that the tried-and-true method of maintaining flotation is holding onto the plank.  Yet his intuition, represented by the goddess, tells him to let go and thus invent a new and bold response to a here and now crisis.  He chooses (as he does throughout the Odyssey) to listen to the female part of himself and to trust audacious intuition.  He lets go of the plank and more: his garments.  He treads water without physical supports.  Then the goddess gives him a magical push that propels him effortlessly to his next destination.  Notice two features of the story are significant: Ulysses had just left the arms of Calypso, rejecting her offer of divinity and preferring to return to his wife, Penelope.  He chose not to be allured by the temptation of a quick and easy advance in consciousness but rather to continue his journey home gradually.  This was the first choice he made that prepared him for the miraculous rescue to follow.  His second preparation for empowerment was his hopelessness.  No intuitions came to him while he was safe at sea.  Marvels occur when there is room for them” (p. 200).

I especially love the last part: ‘no intuitions came to him while he was safe at sea’.  In the moment where we are uncomfortable because we are dissatisfied with what is happening, we forget that the pain (feeling hopeless, unsatisfied, miserable) is simply information.  We don’t need to take it super personal.  Feel it, it is real.  But no need to make it dramatic.  Sometimes I see my clients in the midst of this kind of process where their hopelessness is building and I want to ease their discomfort, but, in fact, the discomfort is an important part of the process and if I took it away, it wouldn’t be able to do the work it is there to do.  My hope is that in sharing this story, that it might catch you at that very moment where you are getting information about needing to take a leap or needing to let go so there is room for the miraculous so that this can be a gentle reminder to let the process unfold.  Let go, it is OK.  The new way, the next steps will appear.  And, they will probably be even more awesome than what you were designing in your mind or what you were living before.

*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".