March 26, 2012

Choose Stress. {Article in English & Spanish}

(Para leerlo en Español, haga clic aquí.)

Choose Peace: A Practical Guide into Consciousness

Since the publishing of my book, Choose Peace: A Practical Guide into Consciousness, I have noticed a funny trend in how people react to it. Although there may be a handful of people who are all about it and dive in immediately, a majority prefer to look at it from a distance, almost afraid to open it just in case some of the words filter into their brains through osmosis.

It’s as if their monkey-mind* is saying, “Are you sure you want this? Aren’t you nice and comfy in your life right now?” Then they respond, “Yes, mostly… But, I know there’s something more that I could be doing to find peace, but I don’t know what. Maybe this book will help.”
 Then the monkey-mind luringly says, “Ah, you don’t need more peace. You’re fine just the way you are.  It would take so much effort to change and you’d have to move so many different things around in your life that would be too painful and cumbersome. Don’t you prefer this “life” you know versus the heaven you don’t, I mean, the hell you don’t?”  Then they reply, deluding themselves, “yes, I guess you are right. I’m fine. All is fine. I live in a heaven,” since heaven was the only word they filtered from their monkey-mind’s power.

I know this sounds crazy, and it is! We are all crazy, especially when we are ignorant of our craziness. And, I am no exception to this rule.

Photo: Nina Paley

Most people are choosing to be stressed! They choose drama, stress, pain, suffering, chaos, conflict. But why do we as humans repeat this kind of behavior? Because, we are comfortable. We understand this comfort and have learned how to function in it by thinking we control it. Or at least we feel we can be in control while in this state because it’s familiar even if it’s painful.

If we were to choose to change and try something new, we wouldn’t know what lies ahead making this “monkey-mind” freak out. And, until we start to control this monkey-mind, it controls us!

As I said before, I am not an exception to this rule.  For many years I have battled with sitting in meditation on a regular basis. I have made excuse after excuse. “I don’t have enough space in my one-bedroom apartment.” “I need my own meditation corner.” “I don’t have time.” “I can’t use a couch pillow; I need to buy a special pillow in order to accumulate positive energy on it.”  The excuses got more and more creative. And let’s just say that my dog, Dino, has used my meditation cushion more times than I have, so now it has his sleepy energy on it.

When I went back and reflected on the reason I didn’t want to meditate, it was because of the same reason above. I didn’t want to commit to whatever would be revealed to me in these deeper states of consciousness. Not because it would be ugly and dark, but because of a fear of needing to change my comfort zone. This is, of course, another excuse, but it was deluding and powerful enough because it kept me off my sleepy cushion.

Self-transformation is not easy, but for me, it is necessary.

I don’t give myself the choice anymore to stay cushiony. At times, I feel this world is spinning out of control, especially with natural disasters like the tsunami in Japan where one feels a huge sense of loss and despair. Although there is nothing I can do to prevent a tsunami from hurting other people, I can at least try to prevent the tsunami of thoughts in my mind from harming me, and others as well.

This is the only way that I have found to effectively deal with change. Let it come, observe it and yourself, and then, let it flow. As one of my first teachers taught me, “Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate.” I would change this to “Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate-with Ahimsa (non-harming).”  This is all we can do.

I don’t let stress choose me. Instead, I’m choosing peace regardless of my surroundings and situations. What are you going to choose?

*Monkey-mind: Describes a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree. The monkey-mind is not content with existing in the present moment, but rather engages in the thoughts that pass through.


Editor: Tanya L. Markul

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