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".  

10 Elements of Heart Led Decision Making

by Adrian W. Hall, MFT, ATR

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Sometimes it seems like David Richo’s book is alive…whatever I am going to write about matches conversations and thoughts that have been coming up in my work and life.  In this section, David Richo is not exactly saying these elements are about heart led decision making, he calls it a “list of healthy discernment criteria” (p. 189).  The way I see it, he is talking about being able to make decisions in a way that honors the full spectrum of our human capabilities and aligning with the forces that are at play around us.  I’m loving what he says...

  1. As human beings, we are able to know without confusion.  I believe that confusion comes from getting in our own way.  As David Richo says, sometimes confusion comes from “moods, whims, fears, addictions, logic or coercion” (p. 189).  All the truth we need to know in this life comes from inside us.  These forces listed by David Richo are forces that may obscure the clarity of our truth, which is why it is important to sharpen our interior awareness and build the skills to be still and listen.  If you are feeling confused, it is time to write about it, talk through it with someone who is willing to listen without adding their two cents or to sit in meditation to still the noise of all the forces so you can see the truth that is definitely held inside you.
  2. Whatever it is that you want to do is something you have consistently wanted to do.  It is not a passing excitement or a reaction to pain.  It is something that is calling your attention daily for a period of time.  My parents instilled this in us.  Being four children, we had to share rooms growing up and we would want to change rooms because we would get mad at each other or feeling particularly close to one another.  Each time we came to them requesting to change rooms, they would say, “As long as you feel that way 30 days from now, you guys can make the change”. 
  3. You are talking about what you want to do with significant people.  This means you are talking with people who will be touched by your decision, but also that you are looking around for people who have gone before you on the path you want to travel.  Of course, you might not find a person who has done exactly what you want to do, but you want to be looking at people who approximate this.  Finally, it is helpful to talk with others who are simply good mirrors, not giving their opinion, but able to clearly see and reflect back what you are saying and feeling so that you can see as much of yourself in the decision as you can.  We are complex as human beings and can feel lots of ways about important decisions.  We don’t always consciously perceive all that we know and feel about a situation. 
  4. Vocation happens where bliss meets talent” (p. 190).  Yes, David Richo is talking about the important aspect of being able to have the skills to execute what you want to do.  If that is making a career move, it doesn’t mean you have to know everything about the new field, but, instead, do you have the passion, follow through and openness to get the training you need for the transition?  If you want to get married to your partner, do you have the skills to sustain a healthy relationship and commitment?
  5. You are committed to the goal enough to weather the inevitable storm of challenges that you will face as you do what you want to do.  Realize that the going is going to get tough, whether that is internally (fear, doubt) or externally (circumstances are challenging).  So are you willing to wade through those?
  6. Right action.  What you want to do is sound morally and ethically.  “It is based on love and self-esteem, not on aggression, ego or self-depreciation” (p. 190).
  7. Doubt.  This seems like a peculiar element, but I love that David Richo included it.  It’s true, there is something missing when we think we know something 100%.  That means there is no openness to any other possibility, any discovery or any creativity.  Healthy doubt leaves the window open a little in a room for the air to circulate and stay fresh.
  8. “You have been noticing an inner confirmation of your choice through dreams, intuitions and synchronicities (meaningful coincidence)” (p. 190).  That’s just simple and clear, I can’t really add to it.  So I’ll leave it at that!
  9. “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen” –Ralph Waldo Emerson.  David Richo talks about the fact that making a decision that is right for you usually results in things around you aligning to support that decision.  All of the sudden, someone mentions a program that exactly suits your needs in transitioning to your new career or a business partner shows up that is looking for someone with your exact skills.  The things that happen to support your decision are things that occur beyond what you could consciously design.  David Richo says:  “This is the wind-horse again, the successful interplay of effort and grace, of steps followed by shifts” (p. 190). 
  10. You can sense the rightness of your choice inside.  It is looking around or doing something and feeling deeply “I am in the right place” or “I am doing the right thing”.  In my experience, this is usually a knowing that defies or goes beyond logic. 

In our lifetime, we are faced with big decisions that scare us because they have potential for tremendous impact.  These decisions need to be made because our light, love and life are hanging in the balance.  These are the best criteria I have come across to help guide us through decisions we need to make to live FULLY. 

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