Archive for February, 2011

Day 79 (2011-02-28): The door

Wanting things I don’t have is keeping me from being happy with the things I do have. But I won’t pursue the things I want because I know that they won’t make me happy. So I’m not giving up the wanting but I’m not doing anything about it either.

I’m tolerating: I’m not accepting things as they are, nor am I taking action to change them.

Presence, presence, presence. Where is the door that leads me to thee?

And that’s the issue, isn’t it? I know where the door is but I don’t believe it’s really the door.

It’s 10 PM and I’m in bed (hurray!) writing this on my laptop. But I don’t want to meditate when I’m done. I want to watch a show on Hulu or something. Why? Because I can zone out when I watch a show and I’m not left alone with my thoughts. Those fucking thoughts. When I meditate, it seems like those thoughts get even louder, even crueler. Sometimes the mind quiets and there’s a deep peace. But not always. And so I don’t trust it.

If a door led to peace one day and pain the next, wouldn’t you hesitate at least a little bit before opening it?

Today’s report:

Eating was a solid B until this evening when I drank beer and ate cookies.

The morning was good with 3 enjoyable coaching sessions. I got to meet and coach a very cool Brazilian man who is living in Malaysia. But this afternoon SUCKED, hovering at like a 2 out of 10. I felt pathetic, undesirable, and hopeless, and helpless to do anything about it. I finally got out of my head and around some friends, and I feel a bit better now.

I’m in bed by 10 PM like I wanted to be. And I did push-ups today for the first time since November (I noticed that the push-ups lifted my mood a little). I intend to make that a daily habit for at least March. I’m going to train again for my “600 push-ups in an hour” goal. Last time it took me a month and a half to reach that goal.


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Day 78 (2011-02-27): Master?

1. Advancing

I encounter lots of people who value love and oneness like I do. And I’m continually surprised by how many of them cling to the idea that they’re on a path to enlightenment (or awakening). This then leads them to believe that some people are more advanced or “further along” than others. And the ego comes in.

I think you can be more or less “advanced” in your conceptual understanding of awakening/enlightenment, but it seems to me that in any given moment you’re either experiencing life or you’re thinking about life. That to me is the key distinction.

You’re either awake or asleep; the light is on or off. Conceptual understanding may assist with duration and frequency. But when it comes to awakening, no one is more advanced than anyone else. As Adyashanti says, the question is simply, “Are you awake right now?” Are you experiencing life or are you thinking about it?

I’m tired of the groups I go to where we talk about oneness and awakening and peace. I see the value of people getting together to experience those things, but how to create the experience of it without getting lost in the temptation to conceptualize it?

2. Warrior

In experiencing my strength as a man, I’m reminded of the idea of the “spiritual warrior.” This is the person who takes on the challenge of walking a path of love and peace, who is not shaken by fear or doubt or setbacks. This speaks to me, but it also seems limited because it uses war as a metaphor.

I think the word “master” works better for me than “warrior.” Master has some challenges too. It stirs my ego a bit.

I would like a concept that bridges masculinity with spirituality.

I want to use this concept as a framework to help me be more consistent with the practices that contribute to my peace of mind.

Today’s report:

Eating was a C-. The day was a 6 out of 10. It was a lot like an even 5 out of 10 day, except that I had a few stressors that might normally have sapped my energy but I managed them well, so I’m happy about that.

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Tonight I was talking to a friend of a friend, a good guy that I don’t get to see very often. He expressed how he’s sorry that he hasn’t seen me at various parties in the past several months. He was unaware that I’m not welcome at any of the parties at one particular person’s house. I don’t publicize this much, only when it comes up like tonight. When I told him, he got a little uncomfortable (because it is weird), and then he said: “Don’t take it personally…and consider the source.”

It think that’s great advice in general for anything that “hurts” our ego.

The people that “hurt” us do so for some reason. Either they’re insecure and afraid, or they’re hurting, or they’re socially awkward, or they’re just hyper-focused on some challenge in their life and unaware of how they’re acting towards you, or whatever.

But they always have a reason. “Consider the source.”

Don’t expect apple juice from an orange. And don’t expect people to give you what they can’t.

I’m grateful for this reminder. Not because there are some parties that I’m not welcome at; that’s small potatoes. I’m grateful because there are people who I continuously crave love and attention from who are unable to give it to me. I need to start looking for the apples. And I’m blessed with some very “good apples” in my life.

Today’s report:

Eating was a C- today. I took the day off and relaxed. I’d give it a 5 out of 10. There were some bumps higher and lower throughout the day, but overall it was pretty even.

Going to bed late again…

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The main reason I’ve taken on this commitment to a 100-day honest exploration of my thoughts and feelings is something I don’t think I’ve actually expressed in this blog yet:

  1. More often than not, I’m not happy.
  2. I have one of the best lives that’s ever been lived in the context of all humankind.
  3. If I’m not happy with the life I have NOW, it’s foolish to expect some future outcome to change that.
  4. Instead of chasing happiness and inner peace in the future, I want to learn what’s stopping me from experiencing those feelings right now.

In other words, I have more than enough blessings in my life to be peaceful and happy.

I heard Tim Ferriss express a similar thought in an interview:

You actually do have plenty of time to do all the things that are truly important… Things are going to fall through the cracks but…if you let the small bad things happen, you can get the big good things done.

He’s talking about time and productivity, but I think it’s analogous to what I’m saying. There are more than enough “big good things” in my life for me to feel happy and peaceful, but when I focus on the “small bad things” I feel sad and anxious.

  • I focus on the one woman who doesn’t love me and ignore the room full of amazing friends who do.
  • I focus on what I don’t have instead of what I do have.
  • I focus on who I’m not instead of who I am.
  • I focus on what might or might not happen instead of focusing on what is happening.

“The future has nothing I need. Everything I need to be happy and peaceful exists now.”

Today’s report:

Good eating until tonight when I partied with beer and pizza. I connected during the work day with some great people and we got to be very productive together. In the evening I spent lots of time with awesome friends and saw my family briefly at my niece’s performance.

I haven’t meditated in a day or so. The staying up late has thrown me off.

I give today a 7 out of 10.

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Day 75 (2011-02-24): A strong man

I attended my men’s group tonight and really felt my strength as a man. It’s so interesting how events correspond. Earlier in the week a woman friend of mine told me that I was kind of feminine. It was a slight blow to my ego for a moment, but I knew what she meant.

First, a few thoughts about the words “masculine” and “feminine.” I believe all people have both “energies” and that we need them to be effective in life. My favorite description of these words comes from Anthony Robbins. He describes masculine energy as the ability to make big things small, and feminine energy as the ability to make small things big. Neither is better, and both are necessary.

For example, masculine energy takes a “big” “problem” and breaks it down into smaller, manageable pieces that allows you to solve it. Feminine energy takes something “small” and allows you to appreciate it as more than it seems on the surface. Clearly, it’s to a person’s advantage to be able to do both: to negotiate all of the complexities of starting and running a business, for example, and also appreciate the beautiful sunset and the kindness of people.

I believe I have pretty good access to both energies. So when my friend described me as feminine, I translated that as: she experiences my feminine energy because that’s the energy I emphasize with her. She acknowledged that she can be very masculine, which I would agree with. And I sense it as a somewhat defensive masculinity, as if she’s afraid to be feminine, so she projects masculinity to protect herself. When I have been masculine around her, we’ve clashed. So, because I don’t enjoy conflict, I think that I decided somewhere along the way to not be very masculine around her.

And this extends beyond her. There have been some women in my life that I’ve connected with and loved very deeply, and they’ve loved me back…but…they haven’t been attracted to me. And I see now that these women have been more on the masculine side. The women who are attracted to me tend to be more feminine. I think it’s because they respond better to my masculinity. There’s more of a spark between us.

These more masculine women tend to either like uber-masculine men (who they then fight with a lot), or very meek men that let them be the “man” in the relationship.

So this all brings me back to the experience I had at the men’s group. I felt affirmed in my masculinity by these other men. Their masculinity was not defensive, so our energies did not clash. In fact, it was welcoming as in, “You’re one of us.” There was no competition for “alpha dog,” which I think is what is at the heart of my trust issues with men. I don’t want my relationships to be a power struggle.

It felt good to experience myself as a strong man, not because I defeated anyone or saved anyone, but just because I am.

Today’s report:

Felt pretty productive and peaceful today. Good energy. Say a 6 out of 10. Eating was a solid B, much better than the past few days. I’m going to be late again. There’s definitely a “fuck it” happening when I think about going to bed by 10. Lots of resistance.

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Day 74 (2011-02-23): Becoming

Today started as one of the worst days ever. I had no desire to do anything, no drive or passion. I tried to focus on the present but within seconds I found myself distracted by negative thinking about the future. At one point, during a walk back from the park, I even had the thought, “I’m just running out the clock, aren’t I?”

I would repeat a little mantra, “The future has nothing for me. Everything I need is here now.” And I’d be at peace. For a few seconds until the mind started chattering again.

I came back and fell asleep for a short time. When I woke up I checked my email and found an ad for a free ebook. Normally I just delete this crap, but for some reason I clicked through and downloaded it. It was about the power of the mind, specifically how we create our sense of self by rehearsing situations in our mind. By rehearsing positive situations instead of negative ones we can improve self-esteem, confidence, and even performance.

This was liberating. I was reminded that my mental chatter does not only affect my mood, it affects how I define “Curtis.”

Then in the car on the way to meditation class, I listened to an interview with Tim Ferriss about strategic testing. Not just testing in business, but in life. And I started to get excited about this idea of testing different visualizations/rehearsals in my mind and seeing what outcomes I get.

Finally, in meditation class, our teacher directed us to sit with the beauty that is ourselves, the gift that we are to the world.

In my work, I know that my presence is felt, that I make a difference for people. But what struck me is how my suffering is also a gift to the world, an example of the human condition, of transforming suffering into peace. I almost started to laugh when I remembered this line from the book Red Dragon (the precursor to Silence of the Lambs) spoken by the serial killer to his captive and next victim:

You are privy to a great Becoming…

Later in the meditation, I was focused on the words “I am.” And I had a deeply felt experience of the “I” and the “Curtis” as separate. As if the I inhabited the Curtis, or used it in the way that you would use a car. The Curtis has limitations of body and mind, just as a car has limitations on how fast it can go, etc. But it can do some amazing things, too.

But the deepest truth is this: “I” can use “Curtis” in two ways, to experience life and to have some effect on the world.

  • What experience would I like to have?
  • What effect would I like to have?

Today’s report:

For most of the day, it was a 1 out of 10. During the meditation when I was most grounded in the feeling of the deeper “I,” it was a 10 out of 10. That 10 does not represent euphoria, but complete peace with life as it is. I’m seeing that my scale is one of suffering to peace, not necessarily sadness to happiness.

I give myself a C+, maybe B-, for my food choices.

I meditated first thing in the morning and also in class tonight. I stayed up late until almost midnight.

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Day 73 (2011-02-22): Half-awake

There are times when I feel free and times when I feel as trapped as I ever did. The mind is oppressive in its assertion of “reality.” It does not tolerate dissension.

Without going into details, for the past few days I’ve been feeling liberated from what was a very painful ongoing mental construct. So tonight I exposed myself to information that might feed it, as a test. And… Let the feast begin!

My mind took that information and used it to recreate all of the cruel comparisons that make me feel like a piece of shit. In record time, too.

I reminded myself that my mind was only comparing my ego identity with a mental projection of another person. Neither of which are “real.” That relieved a large proportion of the suffering. Also in record time.

I think I somehow expected (or hoped) that liberation from the mind is “permanent.” But like getting out of prison, they can always just throw you right back in. So you better appreciate the time you’re free.

It reminds me of what Adyashanti says about awakening: Yesterday’s awakening is meaningless. What matters is, am I awake now?

Today’s report:

I haven’t been sleeping well because of a pain in my neck. I mean that literally, not like I have a noisy neighbor who’s a “pain in my neck.” It doesn’t feel like an injury. More like a sore muscle. It’s frustrating.

I grade my eating as a B- today. I would give today a 5 out of 10. I felt even for most of the day, not positive, not negative.

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