You Can’t Learn to Swim by Dipping Your Toe in the Water

Piggybacking on my previous post, The Accumulation of Small, Consistent Actions, I want to discuss another facet of progress:

Decisiveness in our commitment.

This may sound contradictory to the previous post, but make no mistake, you cannot learn to swim by dipping your toe in the water.

To be clear, I am not saying that you must jump into the deep end with no flotation device or assistance.

But you do have to get in the water. And that means you may experience discomfort, although no worse than the anxiety born of anticipating discomfort.

All you will gain by dipping your toe in the water is a poor measure of its temperature.

And what then?

Okay. The water is hot, or warm, or cool, or cold.

What if that is not to your liking?

What then?

Now you have reinforced your resistance to getting in the water.

Or if the temperature is to your liking, it doesn’t really make the process of learning to swim that much easier. Maybe a bit. But ya still gotta do it.

If you wanna learn to swim, at some point ya gotta get in the fuckin’ water.

Which is greater, your desire to learn and grow, experiencing something that has compelled you to stand at the water’s edge, staring into it in nervous anticipation, or the fear of a negative experience?

If you allow your desire for comfort and security to be greater than the promise of fulfillment from pursuing your deep, authentic desires, you will get more of exactly what you have experienced up to this point in your life. If more of the same is what you genuinely desire, then I congratulate you on having found a state of joy. If, however, you want something else, there is no avoiding the fact that you have to be the one to change, and you are the one who must initiate that change.

There is the possibility that your circumstances will improve without your effort. It is highly unlikely, however, that the new state of being will be sustainable. External circumstances are quite fickle. Consciousness is not. So you may experience some temporary improvement in circumstances.

Or they could get worse. From the consciousness state of the fear of loss, while focusing on holding on to that which you do have already, you may lose that as well.

As Matthew 13:12 states, “For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has.”

To be clear, I have no formal religious affiliation. But at its core, this quote is a mystical statement of consciousness and gratitude. A wealthy person is one who recognizes and celebrates the blessings in life, one who focuses upon them. Such a person continually discovers new blessings bestowed upon him or her. So he or she becomes ever richer, simply by discovering the endless ways that the universe bestows blessings.

Equally important, a wealthy person determines goals, and pursues them from a state of abundance and gratitude.

Matthew 13:12 also alludes to the truth that a state of gratitude tends to manifest in blessings of a material nature.

However, settling or playing it safe does not equate with a state of gratitude. When we refrain from pursuing our authentic desires because we “have enough”, we are not living in gratitude. Gratitude does not say “I’m fine. I have enough.” It says “I have more than I could possibly ever use, share, or even discover.” And from that state, there is no risk of loss since we can’t possibly lose what we have, when the universe constantly gives us more than we even can fathom.

Having enough is a rationalization for settling for less than what we truly desire. And when we settle, we are not living in gratitude, acknowledging the abundant blessings with which the universe is seeking to shower us constantly.

In the situation where we settle or play it safe, we are actually living in a consciousness of scarcity. We operate from the fear of losing rather than the faith that we should pursue our passion as its own reward and experience the abundance as a bonus. So the result tends to be that we lose what we have.

This may manifest as the appearance of loss through our failure to recognize and appreciate what is already present in our life. Because failing to recognize the presence of a blessing in our lives is equivalent to not having that condition at all. We can’t derive joy from its existence, so in effect, we have lost it, since even when it is present, it is not available to us.

Loss also may manifest itself through subconscious enactment of beliefs. If we believe that we have little or nothing in our lives, then that is the state from which our subconscious will create. Since it is dictating our experiences, decisions, and overall life outcomes a vast majority of the time, if it is programmed for lack or scarcity, that is what it will find. And that is what you will experience.

Please understand that none of this is meant to frighten you into action. Fear based motivation always is severely limited. I am merely illuminating the internal dynamics that determine the results we experience in our lives.

However, I do mean to motivate you simply by illustrating that the only true way to lose anything in life, is by refusing to do that which compels you.

That’s because the external circumstances, results, and experiences are merely outward manifestations of our internal state of consciousness.

So if you feel compelled to pursue a dream, but you refrain due to fear, then fear is the dominant state of your subconscious. If fear of loss is the focus of the subconscious, then the loss around which the fear is based will be the program the subconscious runs,  and loss is what you will experience in your life.

At the very least, even if the external circumstances do not change for the so-called worse, refusing to live by your inner guidance will result in a life of unrequited desire. An unfulfilling life. What Thoreau called a life of “quiet desperation.”

In such a situation, apparent safety and security will not be your ally. Because regardless of what you do have, whatever it may be that you fear losing, all of the external abundance, luxury, and security in the world will not fill the void of unrequitement.

To expect things and stuff to satisfy your deepest desires is equivalent to me building you your dream home or buying you your dream car and expecting  them as legitimate consolation for losing the love of your life. It can’t truly provide that for which you long.

However, it is important to realize that the historical moment in which we are living is significant from a cosmic and spiritual standpoint for the way in which it is affecting humans. Specifically, the universe is pushing us all to live in integrity with our deepest purpose. As such, we will experience discomfort and even pain as a psychospiritual urging to fulfill the purpose for which we came into this life.

This may even mean that we will experience loss for the larger purpose of pushing us into the life we are meant to live. Or for snapping us out of the illusion that some insignificant artifact that we may have deluded ourselves into believing should be the focus of our energy has little or nothing to do with our authentic purpose.

For me the bottom line is that we have come to this human experience with a purpose to fulfill. We came to this life at this time to bring the wholly unique gifts that the world needs. Badly! And fulfilling that universal purpose will fulfill us individually as well.

So regardless of what gets us moving ultimately, be it fear, discomfort, or the joy of fulfillment, one way or another, the time has come to live our deepest truth. No doubt, that will mean choosing fulfillment over fear.

Are there ways that you have been playing it safe, living in fear rather than stepping into your fulfillment? If so, how can you begin acting from your desires instead of your fears.

Please feel free to reach out to me if there is any way that I may help you.

At your service.

Jon

The Accumulation of Small, Consistent Actions

If you spend enough time studying the philosophies and practices of manifestation, peak performance, self-realization, or whatever other tag you might affix to the field, you will come across a powerful metaphor for human development. That of the Chinese Bamboo tree.

The seed of the Chinese Bamboo is so hard that it requires watering and soil cultivation for five years before any sprouts appear above ground. Once it does break ground, however, it can grow to a height of ninety feet in six weeks.

What is important to realize, however, is that in order to achieve any growth at all, the care and cultivation of the seed and the soil must take place consistently for those five years. If this consistency is not present, no growth will occur.

So while it would appear that nothing is happening for several years followed by extraordinarily rapid growth in a short period of time, the reality is that the vast majority of growth took place out of sight, prior to an explosion of observable progress.

The same tends to be true for humans working on our larger life goals.

Historically, I have been an all-or-nothing person. The problem with such an attitude often was my refusal to engage in many endeavors unless I could immerse myself in them completely. I set my expectations so high for my actions, that it became easy to fail to execute them.

This was harmful, first off, since it always left me with some form of excuse as to why I hadn’t achieved success.

“Well, I would have been better at this…

…  if I could have devoted more time.”

… if I didn’t have to do (insert excuse here).”

… if my hair weren’t in my eyes.”

… if the wind had blown the other way.”

… if so and so hadn’t distracted me.”

… if… if… if… if… if… blah… blah… blah…

The “if only” excuse became not only an explanation for prior failures, but also a justification for current and future ones.  I frequently failed to achieve success precisely because I would quit on pursuits when I couldn’t do them “full tilt”.

So then I had all of my bases covered.

“I didn’t succeed with that because I couldn’t give it my all, and I won’t succeed with this because if I can’t give it my all then I shouldn’t devote any energy to it.”

But that isn’t how progress is made.

In truth all progress is gradual and incremental, even in situations where the bloom of results occurs suddenly. The small consistent actions are what yield the fruits.

If progress occurs incrementally through consistent action, then achievement is merely the appearance or clear evidence of results that have been accumulating regularly and incrementally all along. Two significant events in my life showed me this truth.

After two failed attempts, at the age of thirty-three, I finally completed my bachelors degree. During the graduation, as various speakers hailed the significance of the threshold that the day’s graduates were crossing, I understood the purpose of such ceremonies.

Ceremonies and awards are symbols, not of achievements made in that moment, but of the accumulation of consistent actions that culminate in some external result.

Earning a college degree is not a matter of walking across a stage in a cap and gown. It is a matter of applying sustained effort, regardless of, sometimes in spite of, how one feels about the work at hand. It is a result of all-nighters pulled to complete projects, papers, and exam study sessions. Or, in my case, three to nine hours of daily practice on my instrument, ear-training, keyboard harmony, music theory, music history, or the like.

I recognized the same to be true of my marriage. The wedding itself is not a commitment, it is a symbol of the commitment that we have made up to that point in time, and a promise of future commitments.

The commitment to a marriage is not made at the altar. It isn’t a choice made once in the presence of friends, family, a justice of the peace. It is made every day, leading up to, and more importantly, following a wedding day.

Marital commitment is made in the moments when we share our feelings with our partner even though it feels safer to shut down. It is made in the moments when we are vulnerable enough to forgive or ask forgiveness. Commitment to our spouse is manifest in the choices we make regardless of, even in spite of selfish inclinations that may encourage us to choose otherwise.

Along with the notion that progress and achievement are comprised of consistent, incremental acts, is the essential understanding that grand gestures and deeds can be inconsequential, even detrimental to long term progress.

Given my all-or-nothing tendencies, the big action I would take frequently led to a rapid expenditure of energy. Worse, having believed that one big surge of effort would get me to my goal, I would feel disillusioned and frustrated when I met with what I didn’t realize need only be temporary failure. So I quit.

Make no mistake. Our attitude and our actions need to be decisive. But if we grant ourselves the gift of a long term commitment to our goals, and we take the consistent actions necessary, even if we must rest occasionally, even if we don’t arrive there when or how we thought we would, we will reach our destination. And who we have become in the process will be just as important, if not more so, than the rewards we reap as a result.

Are there ways that you may be cheating yourself by acting inconsistently? The best part about resuming our pursuit of a goal with small actions, is that we are never far from getting back to it.

So keep at it, or get back to it. The reward awaits.

Please reach out if I can be of any assistance.

At your service.

Jon

Are We There Yet?

Parenting often feels like a crash course in mindfulness. The past week has provided me with some excellent lessons in presence. Two significant ones came courtesy of our younger daughter.

On both occasions, one the result of a tick that we found on her, and the other the aftermath of a fall from her bike and the ensuing bruises and bloody scrapes, she responded with panic and even moments of hysteria. As she is only five years old, this is to be expected. However, I was struck by a realization in both situations when, in one way or another, she expressed a desperate desire for the experience to be over already.

I have spent a fair amount of time trying to impart to both of our girls, probably far less than ideally, that our best option is to accept the experiences in which we find ourselves, lest we make them more difficult than they need to be.

I am not suggesting we resign ourselves to live in less than ideal circumstances. Certainly, it makes perfect sense to work toward a solution and manifestation of more desirable life circumstances. But when we refuse the experience present at any given moment of our life, we deny ourselves the wisdom, and even joy, present in the only moment that truly exists, the now. And there is a very good chance that if we are resistant to any given experience, we are resistant in one way or another to many situations in our life.

This is, no doubt, a very challenging discipline, requiring much mindfulness and repetition. Although I myself have made significant progress, I am far from what I would consider mastery of the practice. It is difficult enough to experience some form of pain. To accept that pain, even going so far as to embrace it and search for the wisdom present in the experience, is quite another matter.

So as I observed her literally wailing, kicking, and screaming in some desperate attempt to escape the inescapable discomfort of the moment, I became aware of my own desire to be free of the pain present within me.

I felt the pain of witnessing one of my daughters, my dear child, struggling in fear and pain. I felt the pain of the powerlessness that comes with being unable to ease her pain. And like her, I felt the pain of resisting the present moment by wishing to be feeling and experiencing something other than what I was living at that moment.

As I observed this in her and in myself, I felt a longing for her to understand that at this moment, this is what is, and it is what needs to be. And I wished for her to try and accept the moment as it is, since it is what is here, and therefore what she must experience.

However, since I cannot control her ability to realize such a truth of life, the best that I could do, was practice the very acceptance I was attempting to impart to her. After all, I want to be the example of what I am offering to my girls, or anyone else for that matter.

This led me to consider other ways in which there are experiences that I have anticipated and avoided despite recognizing their necessity on some level of consciousness. Challenges I must face in order to achieve established goals. Qualities I must embody despite the discomfort they might cause me directly, or through the discomfort they may cause others. Actions I must take despite the fear and anxiety they evoke within me.

And in these realizations I was reminded to face the challenges which I have been avoiding in my own life. I was reminded that I cannot run from the issues that are facing me. I cannot turn my head, close my eyes, kick and scream and cry in my own way, wishing quietly to myself or out loud to the world for the obstacles I am facing simply to go away and be over.

To get where we want to be in our lives, we will have to experience pain and discomfort that, understandably, we do not want to experience. But we increase the pain by adding our own resistance to what already may be a difficult situation. And we delay our arrival at our desired destination.

Sometimes, we might even find that the pain is minimal or quite possibly completely created by our mind. Often, the only pain we endure is generated by the anxiety derived from some lingering painful memory and our projection of that memory into an imagined future.

Regardless, there are times when we must take a breath, drop the resistance, and do what we have being avoiding.

Are there ways in which you have been avoiding doing or experiencing something despite feeling compelled at a deep level to act? If so, how might you take steps through the fear and into the reality that you feel compelled to experience?

Please reach out to me if there is any way that I can assist you.

At your service.

Jon

 

 

 

Success or Failure-Where Is Your Attention Focused?

One of the most important skills that all professional race car drivers develop is the discipline of focusing at all times on the direction in which they want their vehicle to travel. This is especially important if and when they lose control of the car.

The natural human tendency if we are behind the wheel of a vehicle that is out of control is to look at the potential destination of our current trajectory. If we are headed for a guard rail or the wall of a race track, the chance that we will hit it is dramatically increased by our looking at that potential outcome.

I emphasized the word “potential” twice to make clear that our conscious input is a significant factor in determining the ultimate outcome of the situation. I will reiterate here what I have touched upon in previous posts. Multiple spiritual philosophies have taught for thousands of years what is now corroborated by the field of quantum physics: There are no outcomes independent of either observation or expectation.

Therefore, when driving a vehicle that may be momentarily out of control, by focusing on a desirable trajectory or destination, we create an overwhelming increase in the likelihood that we will steer toward it. The power of the subconscious will direct our body to steer us to safety in a way that the conscious mind cannot. The discipline lies in training our conscious mind to give the subconscious the appropriate instructions. Those instructions come in the form of where we direct our conscious attention.

I could have worded the first sentence of the previous paragraph in terms of the possibility of not crashing the car. But in the same way that we need to direct our attention where we want to go, our thoughts should be aligned with the outcome we want, as opposed to avoiding the undesirable outcome.

This is yet another way in which we have a choice as to where we focus our conscious attention. And the distinction between those choices sends our subconscious mind one of two dramatically different messages with significantly different outcomes.

Driving with Presence of Mind

When we apply racing principles as metaphors for our lives, we have a great deal of profound wisdom at our disposal. This is because race car driving, just like living intentionally, requires enormous presence, focus, and concentration. (And no, I’m not a huge racing fan. The metaphor just works.)

When we live merely “to get by”, to avoid the proverbial car crash, we still are operating from a state of consciousness where we are focused as much, if not more, upon negative outcomes. And our subconscious, the auto-pilot of our life, operates based upon the dominant thought and feeling states with which we furnish it.

Typically, those thought and feeling states originate in some pre-conscious (five years or younger) version of ourselves. So we aren’t always aware of the dominant thought and feeling states that are providing the primary operating instructions for our auto-pilot program.

However, if you find yourself consistently dissatisfied with the events and outcomes in your life, there is a very good chance that you need to replace the dominant thought and feeling states encoded in your subconscious mind. And the way to do that is through the conscious repetition of focusing upon and affirming, with as much emotion as possible, your desired outcomes.

Returning to our driving metaphor, you need to redirect your focus toward your preferred destination. It requires mindful practice, discipline, and repetition. But in time, you begin instinctively to look away from the outcomes that you fear or find unsatisfactory, and instead become focused upon, even consumed by or obsessed with the direction in which you do want to move.

Often We Have More Control than We Acknowledge

Another reason race car drivers learn to direct their attention toward a desirable goal is so that they may determine the outcome of the race to the greatest possible extent rather than being subject completely to the choices of the drivers around them.

Far too frequently in our lives we allow external circumstances to dictate what, when, how, where, and why we take action. This is equivalent to determining which direction we will travel in our vehicle by which way it is facing when we get behind the wheel.

Or imagine getting into your car, opening your preferred driving app or onboard navigation system and simply following the directions to the most recent destination entered into it. You may have been the one to enter that destination even, but it might not serve you in that moment.

What if you’re already there? What if it sends you to your Great Aunt Mabel’s best friend’s neighbor’s sister’s quilting group, but you need to go to the dentist? What if you need to take the little ones to a birthday party, but you end up at the adult toy shop? AWKWARD!

As long as we are subject solely to external conditions, we will find ourselves crashing into proverbial walls, driving off of cliffs, at the very least involved in constant fender benders.

To be sure, we cannot always control road and traffic conditions, the actions of other drivers, or chance encounters like a flat tire. But we can determine our destination, find its location, and make our way there, even if the route we travel in  the end turns out not to be the most direct.

Ultimately, we create, or at the very least influence, our external reality by the condition of our internal state. And sometimes, we act despite the internal state feeling less than ideal to us. In such a situation, the act of doing in the face of adversity will change our internal state.

At such times in fact, we are affirming a new internal state by deciding to feel empowered despite even the biochemical and psychological conditions that would suggest we feel otherwise. We are affirming that despite appearances, circumstances, and even undesirable experiences, we are in control of the final outcome of the journey. That regardless of the conditions that may make finding an alternate route advisable or necessary, we will get where we want and need to go .

Are there ways in which you have been focused consciously or subconsciously upon the outcomes you wish to avoid? Are there ways in which you have been living in fear, rather than faith? If so, your first step toward greater fulfillment and purpose may be to start focusing upon and envisioning your desired outcome.

Please reach out to me if there is any way that I may assist you.

At your service.

Jon

Create Your Own Dream, or Allow Someone Else to Create Your Nightmare

The choice is quite simple.

Either you create your own dream life, or you empower someone else to create your nightmare reality.

The universe has a way of pushing us toward our greatest self. Before we have accepted the extent of our power to achieve our dreams, and before we have begun living intentionally, our own discomfort is necessary to provide the impetus that moves us toward living our deepest purpose.

We have a tendency to prefer familiar discomfort, even intense pain, to the myriad fears that are triggered by changing ourselves, even if that change is the pursuit of a compelling life. Therefore, the pain must be great enough that we feel no choice but to take action toward manifesting fulfillment.

The great French writer Anais Nin stated it this way: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

So know this. If your current thoughts and deeds are not in integrity with your true purpose, you will experience pain as a result. In one way or another you will know the pain of living a less than fulfilling life. This is the universe’s way of pushing you into the next phase of your life. Into the fulfillment of your deeper purpose.

Understand that the goal of fulfilling our purpose is not merely to avoid discomfort or pain. Those conditions are a reality regardless of the life we lead. They are also a necessity. For more on that, please refer to my post “What Am I Meant to Learn from This?: The Purpose of Pain and Suffering“.

As Mark Manson describes it in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, deciding to live a life of fulfillment and purpose is not a matter of alleviating discomfort. Instead it is about choosing the challenges and obstacles that we will face. When we choose, we do so with a sense of purpose. So which would you rather have, troubles that feel petty and meaningless, or ones that challenge you in meaningful and purposeful ways?

And don’t think that the pressure being exerted upon you to change and develop yourself is purely for your own good. Nah. Fuck your own good. Sort of.

To be clear, it certainly is in your best interest to create the life that is beckoning you from within. The personal benefits of fulfilling your divine purpose are immeasurable. It’s humorous even to consider that we silly humans could think that way (“So tell me source energy, God, creator of all that is seen and unseen, comprehensible and unfathomable, perceptible and intangible, what is in it for me if I do live according to the divine pattern for which I’ve been created?”)

Still, your true purpose is for so much more than your own fulfillment. You are here to birth in this world the unique gifts that only you can provide. And this world is in dire need of whatever gifts you have come here bearing. I mean, take a fucking look around. We need you to be the best version of you.

I’m not saying that you need to drop everything and change course immediately. A sudden sharp turn can cause an accident just as easily as driving straight into a brick wall. In my experience, the necessary action is frequently far less dramatic than what I might have imagined it to be.

But you do need to start. Take action. Search within to uncover the compelling vision that is beckoning you, whatever it may be. And it need not be compelling to anyone else than you. It is uniquely yours.

If you’ve already uncovered that vision, work to clarify it. If you have clarity, make a plan for manifesting that vision. Seek out the knowledge and resources necessary to make it a reality in the world of form.

If you’ve done that, get to work. Find assistance if need be, modify your course if need be, but keep working. Consistent, incremental work will yield progress in time.

That life is waiting for you to claim it. And the world is waiting for you to share your gifts. Please don’t keep any of us (including yourself) waiting any longer than we must.

If there is any way that I can help you, please reach out to me.

At your service.

Jon

For the Underemployed

Merriam-Webster defines underemployment as “the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs.” Admittedly, working fewer hours than we need in order to pay the bills is a legitimate concern. In this case, however, it is not uncommon, as I have done, to piece together enough work to constitute a full time work week.

Likewise, inadequate pay is a very real issue. Relatively few of us are paid enough to live a life of security let alone fulfillment. In fact, receiving fewer than full time hours really is only an issue if we need more money than our current work week provides.

I mean, who gives a shit about getting more hours at work if part-time hours pay enough? Right? Who asks to work more hours at a job that already pays well for fewer hours?

This is a bit of a trick question, since there is a group of people who are willing and even enthusiastic to work more. Who are these freaks of nature you ask? People who love their work. People who are fulfilled by the endeavors that occupy their days, and even nights.

Which brings me to the definition of underemployment that I most want to discuss here. And that is work that is inadequate with respect to training. Of course, I am assuming that the training in question is aligned with a person’s passions. So when a person has trained in a field that is reflective of his or her passion, but cannot find work in that field, to me, that is the most tragic form of underemployment.

Let’s be honest. Most work in today’s modern economy does not pay enough. At least not right away. But there are many people getting paid less than they want or need in jobs that fulfill them in ways that money cannot. And frequently, such people find themselves generating financial wealth as a result of performing work that enriches them initially in the more important, internal metrics of fulfillment, purpose and passion.

On the other hand, there are many people getting paid very well for joyless work at best, and long hours spent under relative to extreme stress at worst. And the money isn’t making them any happier in the tradeoff. But at least they have a sense of security. Not that this can replace deep fulfillment. Still, I’d rather have security and some luxury than not have it. It doesn’t mean I stop seeking true fulfillment. It just means that I’ve checked some important requirements off of the list.

But when we work thankless jobs for shit pay, then we have succumbed to one of the great tragedies of modern life. Because in that scenario we spend a disturbing amount of that most precious commodity of time, merely passing the hours until quitting time. And clock watching is one of the finest ways to waste our life away, dying a slow death measured in minutes until lunch time, hours until quitting time, and years or decades until retirement.

This may seem dramatic, but to anyone who has worked a job that provides little to no stimulation, and lacks any deep sense of purpose, the very thought of going to that workplace is enough to generate feelings of intense despair.

This is not to say that working a menial job is without benefits. Perhaps in your non-work hours you are spending time on some life project that does provide purpose and will create fulfillment. Maybe even wealth as well. Additionally, there is great value in finding the lessons available from any situation, whether we have chosen it consciously or not. And, of course, there is much to learn about humility, patience, compassion, and persistence from work that may not be in our chosen field.

But when we work aimlessly at an unfulfilling job for years on end, never moving toward something larger or deeper in our lives, then we are doing nothing short of wasting the very life we have been given.

Know this. Each and every one of us has assumed this human existence specifically to manifest in the world of form the perfectly unique gifts that only we can present to the world. When we waste our lives withholding those gifts from the world, keeping them locked deep within us as mere thoughts within the mind of God, we are committing the worst sin possible.

The origins of the word sin reveal to us that the true meaning of the word is far different from what we typically believe.  It does not mean to commit some form of wrongdoing in the ethical or moral sense. Sin means “to miss the mark.”

To sin is literally to miss the point of living. To sin is to commit evil only in the sense that “evil”, as the word itself implies, is quite literally the opposite of what it means to “live”. And if to live truly means to derive the fulfillment that can come only from manifesting our purpose in the world by sharing our divine gifts, then failing to do so is literally the opposite, an act of evil, a sin.

In our modern world, one of the most common ways in which people shrink from the divine calling that is living our true purpose, sharing our completely unique innate gifts, is to waste time in an aimless and purposeless job.

I’m not judging. I’ve been there many times. And I’m not suggesting that you quit your shitty job immediately.

What I am urging you to do is begin uncovering the divine purpose for which you are uniquely designed. If you have some sense of what that purpose is, start chipping away at it. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. And it proceeds with each additional step. Until step by step by step by step, you turn around and find that you’ve travelled a long and amazing journey.

Travel long enough, and more importantly, consistently enough, guided by your most authentic motivations, and you will find yourself living a life that resonates throughout your whole being.

Please let me know if there is any way that I may assist you.

At your service.

Jon

 

Faith

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of faith is to see what you believe.” -St. Augustine

I’ll be brief with this one, because ultimately, it is quite simple. If we are not acting in accordance with our stated beliefs, then they aren’t actually beliefs. They are simply some nice ideas that we’d like to believe are true.

To live in faith is to act in integrity with the reality that we seek to manifest.

No action?

No faith.

No faith?

No manifestation of a greater life experience.

Where I personally have misunderstood this truth is in the size and scope of the actions in question. Typically, I have misinterpreted this axiom of faith to mean that if I don’t step off the edge of a cliff with the full expectation of God’s hand sweeping me to safety, then I am out of integrity with the state of faith.

However, now I understand that the act of faith may be far less dramatic than attempting to climb Mt. Everest barefoot in your pajamas in the dead of winter. Your personal, internal Mt. Everest may be something much more subtle. But to your subconscious mind and your soul, whatever fear is challenging your willingness to act in complete faith is equally formidable.

For me, the fears have been numerous.

Fear of failure.

Fear of humiliation.

Fear of discovering unequivocally that I am not meant to live an extraordinary life of my design.

Fear of asserting my vision of a better world rather than continuing to live in someone else’s nightmare.

Fear of the discomfort I may cause others by insisting that I feel the existence of a better way, a better life.

Fear of the discomfort I may feel by insisting that we should try my way.

Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, blah, blah, blah, etc. ad nauseam.

In stepping into faith, though, I have realized something extremely important. All of the intellectualized understanding I’ve had about my fears, my childhood beliefs that I was born a burden and will never be anything but one, of being undeserving, of all that other psychobabble bullshit that I’ve used to pretend that I truly know myself, none of it means a thing.

At least not until I step into my faith and truly feel the acute, and quite intense experience of my fear. That is truly facing my fears. And when I have sat in and with those feelings for long enough, and I observe them dispersing like wisps of cloud on a breezy day, then and only then am I free of their hold upon me.

It has been said that we cannot heal what we refuse to feel. And ultimately, our greatest fear is not any of the circumstances or conditions that we may have believed to be so threatening. Our greatest fear is actually feeling the full force of our fear, of our pain.

There is a chance that when you step into the faith around which your fear has built a wall, you might not feel an immediate sense of peace, joy, or ease. You may feel intense anxiety, doubt, and despair.

But rather than retreating, I encourage you to remain in those feelings. And simply observe as the ego attempts to convince you to remain in the familiar discomfort from which you are now deciding to emerge. It does so by intensifying the feelings of fear that have imprisoned you for so long.

So watch the thoughts and feelings without engaging them. There is no need to attempt to reassure yourself of your decision. Something far greater and more intelligent than your conscious mind is guiding your choices now.

Likewise, there is no need to argue with the fears, attempting to convince them or yourself why your act of faith was the “correct” choice. Just watch. As you do, those thoughts, which have used your emotions as the very nourishment of their existence, will diminish quite rapidly until they have dwindled to nothing and floated off on a light breeze.

And in their place will be the piece of yourself that you have reclaimed.

Please reach out to me if there is any way that I can help you on your journey.

At your service.

Jon

Manifestation-From the Inside Out

How Do I Find Fulfillment?

Chances are, you have come to this site in search of answers to some large questions in your life. Perhaps you find yourself in some way dissatisfied with your life experiences, circumstances, or situations.

Stressed WomanPerhaps you are working a job that you hate. Maybe it pays you a sizable income, but leaves you little time for LIFE. No time for the endeavors from which you derive PURPOSE and FULFILLMENT. No time for family and friends. No time to care for yourself the way you would like.

On the other hand, perhaps your job is deeply gratifying but doesn’t pay very well. Maybe you are working in your chosen field, and the work is deeply fulfilling, but it ain’t payin’ shit. Which probably means you still don’t have the time and opportunities that you’d like to have in your life for yourself and your loved ones.

Maybe, you have a job that you hate AND it pays absolute shit. That’s a scenario with which I am all to familiar, and it’s a great big shit burger on a sesame bun. Neither delicious nor nutritious. And you eat it how many times per week? Count your blessings if you don’t feel constantly sick to your stomach.

I’ve got good news for you though. Not too long ago, I was in the position of working a low-paying, unfulfilling job with no tangible prospects for fulfillment or financial independence. Burdened with untapped skills and talents begging for expression, but lacking a sufficient outlet. But I’m not in that position any longer. And I can show you how to leave that life behind for good in exchange for one that lights you up inside.

To help determine if this information is of value to you, here is a list of bulleted points outlining what this article covers.

  • Our life experiences are created within the subconscious
  • Our subconscious was programmed by our five year old (or younger) self
  • The subconscious can be reprogrammed by our adult self
  • To reprogram the subconscious, we must learn to speak its language
  • Speaking to the subconscious mind is an extremely accessible skill

It May not Be What You Want, But it is What You Requested

Car BreakdownOur life experiences, circumstances, and situations are external projections of our in-dwelling consciousness. What, precisely, does that mean?

It means that while our life plays out in the external field of experience that we know as the world around us, that life was, and continues to be created within our consciousness. Specifically, within our subconscious mind.

Getting to Know your Subconscious Mind

Everything we ever have experienced or will experience is a manifestation of some thought pattern within our subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the dominant force controlling our actions, and it does so based upon the dominant messages it receives. The messages it hears most clearly are recurring, emotionally charged thoughts and feelings. Once absorbed, these messages form the source code of the programs that dictate how we interpret and navigate life.

On the flipside, the subconscious does not respond to unemotional, rational messages such as the ones we send it unconsciously when we make statements like, “I just want enough money to pay the bills and live a stress-free life.” Rational, practical sentiments such as these are typically accompanied by lukewarm emotional states at best. All the subconscious hears is “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”.

If there is emotion in these statements, it is typically some sort of frustration or desperation. We might angrily blurt out something about how a situation is unfair, how we deserve better, how we want more from life. The trouble here is that the subconscious is not hearing the words we are speaking as much as it is receiving the message of the negative thought and feeling state that we are embodying. So it concludes that this negative feeling state is the reality it must continue to create, and it dictates your actions accordingly.

Plus, to whatever extent our words matter, in such circumstances we are reaffirming the negative experiences of our situation by focusing upon what is wrong with this moment, rather than envisioning, expressing, and embodying the state that we desire. In “ This situation is unfair” the subconscious mind hears “life is unfair”. In “I deserve better” it hears “I lack fulfilling and quality experiences”. In “ I want more” it hears “I don’t have enough”. So the subconscious hears what is wrong, and gives us more of that undesirable outcome.

The gag is that the subconscious mind has neither a filter, nor a means of discerning external reality from internal thoughts and feelings. So whatever messages it receives via emotionally charged thought and feeling states, it accepts as reality. The problem is that most of the programs running in our subconscious were installed before we reached the age of five years. So a five year old (or younger) version of ourself is still running our life!

How it Works: A Sample Scenario

Here is an example from my own life that illustrates how these internal dynamics play out in our life. For a number of reasons too long and boring to lay out here, I grew up believing that I was undeserving of the blessings in my life. So up until the age of twenty-nine years I sabotaged many of the relationships, situations, and resources with which life rewarded me.

Consciously I wished to honor and enjoy these gifts. And for relatively brief periods, I could exercise my conscious will to do so. But the conscious mind acts like the portion of the iceberg visible above the surface of the water. It is but a small fraction of the total consciousness, and as such it has far less mass and content. Eventually, the subconscious programming of “undeserving brat” would reassert itself until I found myself despairing over the way my inexplicable impulsiveness and irrationality had ruined yet another blessing in my life.

Disrupting the Cycle

The tyranny of the subconscious mind is true only until we address our old beliefs and replace them with new, healthy ones. And the first step in doing that is fully embracing the dissatisfaction we feel. Since you are reading this, I have incredible news for you. You already have begun the process of awakening to the life of your dreams! If you are looking for an exit door from an unfulfilling life, you’ve already stepped through.

Once we recognize what we do not want, we awaken to the pursuit of determining what we do want. Then, rather than the five year old self programming the subconscious, the adult self, with a much better perspective, can instruct the subconscious as to how to proceed.

Speaking to the Sub-Conscious Mind

St. Augustine is credited with the statement that “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of faith is to see what you believe.” Let us not be fooled into thinking that all we have to do is believe with enough emotion and we can create what we want in life. Remember that action in congruence with our beliefs is the embodiment of faith. But as Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Envisioning and embodying your why with great detail and emotion can sustain you through the challenges of the how. And it programs your unfathomably powerful subconscious to work tirelessly toward manifesting your inner visions.

Visualize Freedom
Find it first within you

So indulge me if you will in a short exercise. Ask yourself a set of questions. But instead of answering with words or concepts, I want you to answer by shutting your eyes and envisioning scenes. Generate sense impressions. Evoke thought and feeling states. I want you to create the experience that answers the question. Once you have the images, sights, sounds, smells, textures, and feeling states, live in them for at least a few moments.

So… what is freedom for you? When you envision yourself in a state of freedom, where are you? What are you doing? Who is with you? Or are you alone? What do you see? Smell? Hear? What emotions and sensations are you feeling? What thoughts are you thinking?

Take a few minutes to shut your eyes and immerse yourself in an ideal experience.

Here are some questions you can use to prime yourself. Remember to indulge your wildest dreams. Refrain from judging or censoring. Leave plans and rational thinking for later. This time is for feeling.

What do you envision? Scenes of luxury? Your dream home? A fleet of supercars? Vacations to exotic locales?

What are you doing? Relaxing? Traveling? Some deeply fulfilling work? Philanthropy? Advocacy? Serving others in some way? Meditating? Painting? Playing with your children or grandchildren? Basking in the warm rays of sunshine that bathe your face as you recline, eyes shut, in a hammock, swaying in the gentle breeze of a springtime meadow? (For example.)

Take as much time as you can, for as long as you can sustain the experience of your ideal reality. When you are finished, simply return. But carry the residual vibrations of the experience with you.

And relive it as often as necessary for it to become your new state of feeling.

In fact, review and relive it now.

With whom did you find yourself spending time in these scenes? Your life partner? Your children? Extended family? Dear friends? Pets?

In your state of freedom how did you feel? Relaxed? Energized? Blissful? Grateful? Calm?

With enough practice, such an exercise will leave you positively charged. You will feel energized and hopeful, recognizing both the boundless opportunities life has to offer, and your limitless potential in tapping them. At the same time, your subconscious mind is setting to work seeking out people, situations, and circumstances that can lead you to the manifestation of your dream life.

If you place yourself in this elevated state of thought and feeling frequently enough, it will become your default level of consciousness. When this happens, the momentum you generate will carry you to a new level of living.

Please let me know if there is any way that I can assist you.

At your service.

Jon

What Am I Meant to Learn from This?: The Purpose of Pain and Suffering

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,

It is natural for us to ask why pain and suffering are necessary. Our answer to this question shapes our perspective on life. That perspective has the power to shape both our responses and how we experience our life situations.

Ignorance is (a Kind of) Bliss

Beautiful Infant

Adult life is largely consumed with attempts to return to a state of childlike wonder and awe. In such a state, even painful experiences are dramatically different for the simple fact that children are fully present in their experience while the overwhelming majority of adults are not. Whereas children are immersed in the sensations of their experience, adults are overcome by mental activity.

For example, when a child gets a bruise or scrape, he or she experiences the physical sensations of pain. When the pain subsides, the experience is over and the child processes the accompanying emotions. An adult in the same situation is subject instead to the activation of the mind as it constructs a story about who is to blame for the accident that caused the injury, how this injury is evidence of the cruelty of life, what this injury might mean for the future if the wound becomes infected, how God is punishing him or her for some reason, or some other narrative that removes us from the sensations of the experience itself.

Naturally, when we find ourselves longing for return to a state we once embodied, it is easy to become disillusioned. We may ask the purpose of a life spent losing and trying to regain our initial state of presence. Some spiritual traditions assert that the very point of the human experience is to lose and then regain that state.

So we have come here to forget the joy and wonder we felt as infants, and then work to return to that state? The irony of this realization can drive a person to despair. The notion that we would live through the challenges and trials of life only to return to the start is enough to leave us questioning the point of these painful experiences at all. So what are we to make of this apparently cruel irony?

The Purpose is Conscious Awareness

Church Candles

In Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche, noted Jungian analyst and author Robert A. Johnson offers a beautiful perspective on the purpose of suffering.

As Johnson explains, the suffering is necessary since the quality of our state of being is radically different before and after experiencing the struggle. Namely, upon returning to a state of joy and playfulness following the resolution of a struggle, we are conscious of our bliss. Unlike an infant, fully present in the experience of this moment, but unaware that he or she is present, upon returning to this state of bliss, we feel the joy and freedom of our presence, but this time accompanied by the awareness that we are experiencing this state. The difference between these two states of being may be subtle, but it is profound.

One way we may think about this is by using the example of falling ill with a non-urgent illness like a mild fever or a sore throat. Certainly we all have experienced some form of illness that knocks us out for a few days or even weeks. Upon recovering, have you ever been aware not only that you are feeling better physically, but that you are feeling happy or grateful that you are no longer feeling sick? In addition to having regained full health, now you are also consciously aware of your state of wellness as a contrast to the experience of feeling temporarily unwell.

Yin and Yang: The Contrasts Define One Another

Contrast in life, Johnson points out, provides another element of meaning to our moments of pain and suffering. “Every single virtue in this world,” he explains, “is made valid by its opposite. Light would mean nothing without dark, masculine without feminine, care without abandon. Truths always come in pairs and one has to endure this to accord with reality. To suffer means to allow; and in this sense one suffers the mystery of duality. Whenever you do this [his emphasis], something else immediately does that. Such is reality.”

In other words, we can’t know joy as fully until we have known pain. This explanation alone, however, can lead us yet again to the conclusion that life’s pain is meaningless. If we are to suffer so that we may experience a conscious joy, but joy is only ever one half of a set of countervailing forces, does this mean that we cannot find lasting joy?

Contradiction vs. Paradox

For Johnson the ultimate answer lies in the contrast between contradiction and paradox.  Whereas contradiction places experiences in opposition to one another, paradox unifies them to create a third experience that is a composite of the two.

It is true that all natural conditions exist in pairs, each as the compliment and counterbalance to the other. Indeed, joy always will be a compliment to despair on a perfectly balanced continuum. On this continuum, the two poles represent apparently contradictory experiences of life.

Yet the conscious joy and fulfillment toward which we strive do not reside on the spectrum where the two are in constant tension. It resides as a perspective above that spectrum. In contrast to the apparent meaningless contradictions of life experiences, Johnson reminds us that all religious experience, all deeply significant events in our life bear the imprint of paradox.

“The word religion [his emphasis], ” he explains ,” stems from the Latin roots re, meaning again, and  ligare, meaning to bind, bond, or bridge… Religion means, then, to bind together again. It can never be affixed to one of a pair of opposites… There can only be a religious insight that bridges or heals. This is what restores and reconciles the opposites that have been torturing each of us. The religious faculty is the art of taking the opposites and binding them back together again, surmounting the split that has been causing so much suffering. It helps us move from the contradiction-that painful condition where things oppose each other-to the realm of paradox, where we are able to entertain simultaneously two contradictory notions and give them equal dignity. Then, and only then, is there the possibility of grace, the spiritual experience of contradictions brought into a coherent whole-giving us a unity greater than either one of them.”

Reside in the Paradox to Bind the Opposites

To attain the joy and fulfillment we have come here to know consciously, we must embody certain attributes. For one, we must demonstrate sufficient courage to sit with the discomfort that arises from the paradoxes of human existence. When the mind generates the thoughts that trigger the biochemical cascade that we experience as emotions, when the feelings of the ego generate drives and impulses, we must exercise our conscious will to refrain from action. We must be the conscious observer of the mind as it masquerades as our true identity, manipulating us to act as if our survival depended upon it. We must remain silent, still, and present, remembering that we are not the ego that compels us to react. We must recognize that we are the consciousness having the experience. Then we are empowered to respond from our conscious awareness rather than the conditioned patterns of the mind.

The courage to reside in the tension of the balancing point between apparent opposites gives us patience. With patience we gain perspective. With perspective, we rise above the seeming contradictions to view the dynamic tension of them as life sustaining energy. Consider the analogy of a rope. When you pull the two ends in opposite directions, you generate the tension that gives purpose and energy to the rope. Too much tension can snap it, but too little leaves it without purpose.

Johnson uses a pervasive image in American culture to explain the dynamic at play here: “This ideal of balance is illustrated to us every day of our American lives but rarely noticed. Observe a U.S. dollar bill, which is often in our hands. There is a pyramid with an eye at the apex. The bottom of the triangle represents the duality of our perception. On the [spectrum of life experiences], we see… pairs of opposites: right and wrong, good and evil, light and dark. As long as we concern ourselves with this scale the best we can hope for is an endless contradiction. But if our consciousness is sufficient, we can synthesize these warring elements and come to the all-knowing eye at the central point. On the dollar bill, the eye is raised above the opposites to indicate its superior position… The singleness of the eye, the center of the seesaw, is the place of enlightenment.”

We all are seeking the balance point between the seeming opposing energies at either end of the spectrum. That balance gives us the perspective to rise above the spectrum, and view the experiences of life from a divine vantage point. When we view (experience) life from that perch, we behold our life from a perspective that transcends the seesaw polarities of love and hate, good and bad, joy and despair, light and dark. Finally, then, we can have the experiences, rather than those experiences being so completely consuming that they have us.

Once we are free truly to have those experiences, we can learn from them. We can endure the alchemical process of the painful experience blending with the wisdom of perspective to yield a sort of spiritual gold. Then we see that the experience of the pain is always only temporary, while the growth it stimulates and the joy of wisdom that resides within us as a result, is forever.

No matter how painful your experience may be, no matter how meaningless it may seem, no matter how difficult the struggle feels, please know that it has a deeper purpose than you can know during the moment of suffering. Be observant. Be open. In time, or at the appropriate time, the meaning of your struggles will become apparent. At that point, the struggle will pale in comparison to the wisdom derived from it.

At your service.

Jon

 

 

 

 

 

What Is True Life Freedom?

On Top of the World

Ask ten different people and you are likely to get ten unique descriptions of freedom. Are some more accurate than others? I believe they are all equally valid. Our definition depends upon the type of freedom to which we are referring.

Your Inner Wealth Creates Your Material Wealth

True wealth must include spiritual fulfillment. Without gratitude and service, material success will lose its meaning. The temporary elation of receiving money or gaining power will fade as quickly it came. For us to be truly wealthy, we must live with purpose. We can still enjoy the luxuries that wealth can buy. Our material wealth however, can bring only limited joy unless it is received in the service of others.

The Elements of True Life Freedom

True life freedom comes in two primary and intimately related forms; time and finances (resources). Freedom of time consists of having the option to choose which activities and endeavors receive our energy and attention. Freedom of finances consists of possessing the means to direct resources as we see fit.

Either one alone is always only a subset of true wealth, true life freedom. Understanding the distinction and relationship between freedom of time and freedom of money is important.

The Limitations of Time Without Money

Watch Face

I know many people with varying degrees of time freedom. As a young man, I myself had enormous amounts of time freedom. I didn’t realize at that point in my life how much time I had, but how a person walks around with his head nearly constantly up his own ass is a story for another day. Nonetheless, I had plenty of time, but very little money.

Since I had the support of a loving family I didn’t need a great deal of money in order to spend my time how I wished. My problem was that I didn’t understand that the time freedom I had is a commodity. I wasted it, and my supply dwindled. However, when used wisely, it can generate more time freedom. So in squandering my time, I later encountered a shortage of it as well that other element of true life freedom; money.

The Limitations of Money Without TimeGold Bars

Just as challenging as having time but no money, I know many people with substantial material wealth, but little time with which to live fully. Regardless of the size of their paycheck, they are still trading their time for money. In fact, the larger the income, the more time they are likely to be spending doing the work that pays them so handsomely. Hopefully, they love the job. But even in the event that they do love the work, when they step away from that job, the income tends to stop flowing.

What is far too rare is to possess both time freedom and financial freedom simultaneously. So for me, true freedom is having not only considerable financial wealth, but the time to utilize and enjoy that wealth as well.

Passive Income Is True Life Freedom

To combine both elements into true life freedom, our income streams need to be residual. Of course we must do the appropriate work to build the conduit through which this stream will flow. But once we do, if we are positioned in the right field, in comparison with the initial time investment required to build the income, or in comparison with traditional work models where we trade our time for money, relatively little effort is required to maintain the stream. It becomes passive. Additionally, the accumulated wealth, itself generates an income stream. Thus our time is leveraged so that our income sustains or even grows regardless of the amount of time we put into our work.

Finding Purpose Beyond Your Own Wealth

There is one final attribute that we must include in order to build not only massive streams of residual income, but to do it in a way that is personally meaningful. In actuality, it is the most important aspect of building a life of true freedom. That attribute is purpose.

Stories abound of people who have built massive wealth for themselves and combined it with time freedom only to feel disillusioned when they discover that having a lot of money and stuff and time hasn’t fulfilled them or set them free.

The foolish ones continue to seek happiness or fulfillment in the pursuit of more stuff. They convince themselves, regardless of how much they already have, that the next acquisition will bring the satisfaction they are seeking. Or perhaps they never even pay attention to the feelings of dissatisfaction long enough to feel compelled to search for true fulfillment.

However, the wise ones will reflect on the emptiness they feel despite having built wealth and leveraged their time. The realization they will reach is that true life freedom only can come by combining the personal success of wealth and time with the fulfillment of acting in service to something greater than themselves.

This is true freedom. This is true wealth.

How May I Help You?

My purpose, in part, comes from helping others find true life freedom. Please let me know how I can help you to do so.

At your service.

Jon