Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

The Secrets to Eating Healthy

There are two different ways to approach a healthy lifestyle and wellness. One is what you eat, and the other is how you eat it. There are lots of articles, workshops, books and websites devoted to what you eat. There isn’t so much on how to eat. I thought I would list some principles to eating well:

 

1.     Never deprive yourself. A little bit of fun will keep you happy and healthy. Where we get in trouble is eating lots and lots of sugar, gluten, dairy and processed foods. When in doubt, just a tablespoon is enough.

 

2.     Respect the sacredness of food. Eat the best in modest quantities. What do you think about when you are eating? The first bite should be for God. The second bite should be for others. The third bite should be for yourself. Then repeat.

 

3.     Kitchen magic. What do you think about when you cook? Are you thinking thoughts of gratitude and love or are you thinking about resentments and negative thoughts. Your food tastes much better and is much more palatable if you think about love and gratitude as you make it.

 

4.     Always sit when eating. Take the time to enjoy your meal. We don’t take the time to honor our bodies by sitting at a table.

 

5.     Put down that fork between each bite. It will slow you down and allow you to become satisfied before the food runs out.

 

6.     If it is in a box don’t eat it. Eat local, fresh unprocessed foods (okay this is about what you eat)

 

7.     Balance from meal to meal. If you have a cheat meal, make the next one light.

 

8.     Quality always. Don’t settle for cheap food. You are worth it.

 

9.     Eat regularly. Eat about every four to five hours.

 

10.  Don’t snack. You will enjoy your meals more.

 

11.  Chew 50 times. You need to liquefy your food before it enters your stomach. Your stomach and intestines don’t have teeth. If you notice pieces of food in your toilet, you didn’t chew enough.

 

 

12.  Love your food. Whether you made it or a restaurant made it, notice the taste, smell, texture and appearance of your food. All of that is a part of nutrition. Think loving thoughts while you eat. You will enjoy the food more and eat less.

 

13.  Presentation counts. Don’t slop your food on your plate. Take the time to make it a piece of art. Your body will thank you for it.

 

14.  Be present. What do you think about when you eat? Are you stressed? Relax at least for the time you are eating.

 

15.  Share. Food is love. When you can eat with a friend or companions, enjoy their company as much as the food. Companionship is just as nutritious as couscous.

 

16.  Dessert is okay. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Just only eat a spoonful. Or two.

 

17.  Portion control. Most nutritionists complain about the portion size of the average American meal. I have been to restaurants where the individual servings could feed a family of four. Despite how your parents trained you, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. There are always leftovers.

 

18.  Fermented food. Fermented food helps balance your digestion and replace flora (good bacteria) in your system. Yogurt, kefir, vinegar and other fermented foods are really good for your digestion.

 

19.  Water. Drinking water decreases appetite. Many times we think we are hungry when we are really thirsty. It is best not to drink water while we are eating because it dilutes the stomach acids and enzymes in our digestive tract. Drink it after the meal.

 

20.  Berries, greens, lemon water and a bit of chocolate will make you younger. Try it!

 

 

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Rain Forests

            In order to have a balanced, healthy life, we have to be natural. By that I mean we have to be in nature, we have to live organically, we have to follow the laws of nature. Natural laws are not what you might think, for natural laws are the laws that regulate all living beings. When we become civilized, we leave nature and attempt to control it for our benefit, rather than be one with it and coexist with all living things. When we forget that we must live in nature and can’t live without it, disastrous results will follow. There are two cases in point, the use of deadly nuclear power and the destruction of the southern hemisphere rain forests.

            The events in Japan are self-evident; the cataclysmic destruction of the nuclear power plants in Fukushima Japan continues to pollute the planet every day. Approximately 300 tons of radioactive water is still being released into the Pacific every day, almost three years after the disaster. Radiation poisoning will reach the Pacific coast of the United States this year as marine life is beginning to show radiation poisoning in the Pacific. The authorities still don’t know how to remove and contain the 1,330+ rods of nuclear fuel that are still in the reactor in Japan. They don’t know how to remove them without setting off an explosion that could be a doomsday event.

            What is not so well known is the effect of the destruction of the South American rain forests. Hundreds and thousands of acres of rain forest are being cut down for lumber and to make pasture for beef cattle to be sold to meat hungry nations. Scientists have discovered that the rain forest is the beating heart of the world that moves moisture around the world like a heart sends blood throughout the body. When enough rain forests are destroyed, the will cease pumping enough water into the atmosphere to sustain themselves. The result is the world will become a desert similar to northern Africa. We will not see that, but our great grandchildren will. The effects are felt even in the glaciers, because they are reducing at an alarming rate. Glaciers that were predicted to melt over the next 400 years now are expected to disappear in the next two decades.

            I hope that this information startles you and you do your own research. When enough people are aware that we are killing ourselves for profit, not to mention causing the extinction of hundreds of animals, insects and other living beings every year, perhaps we can do something about it. However, as long as we make it profitable for people to cut down the living heart of the planet to make space for cheap meat sources, we will come to a cataclysmic end.

            This is the result of losing touch with our place on this planet, which is in nature. Rather than looking for ways to cooperate with our environment, we have decided to conquer and tame it. For a planet that is millions of years old, we will have another extinction event to rival the dinosaurs, we will be and we are committing mass suicide. When the rain forest is gone, not only will be lose the indigenous people, animals, plants and medicines available there, we will lose the ability of the planet to sustain itself. We will lose drinking water, crops and food sources. The global warming as a result of loss of air circulation will cause nuclear winter faster than air pollution. It will not be pretty.

            I am somewhat relieved that I will not live long enough to see most of this catastrophe, but I am greatly concerned that my children will. We have to get politically active; we have to start talking to each other about what we are doing to each other. It is just now been scientifically proven that the rain forest is responsible for the movement of moisture around the planet, and the loss of that will kill us. We need to protect ourselves!

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Symbols

          There is currently a huge debate raging across the United States regarding the use in South Carolina of a battle flag used by some Confederate armies in the Civil War. Supporters claim it is just a flag that commemorates their heritage, while critics argue that it symbolizes all of the bad things about the South. The problem is not that it is evil in and of itself, in fact someone not aware of American history might think it is a lovely flag. The problem is what people judge about it and associate it with. Symbols evoke positive energy or negative energy depending on the ego that is perceiving it. In this instance, there is a huge emotional gulf between the supporters and critics, primarily because the critics have played the “race” card and made this all about racial injustice.

            From an objective (enlightened) perspective, it is just a flag. It is the meaning that we place on the flag that creates separation consciousness. It is the control that people want over others that makes this a battle over who tells who how to live their lives. When people on the outside begin to assert their wills and beliefs on others, resentment and defensiveness arises. Then the battle becomes more about separation consciousness, us versus them.

            The whole debate over symbols ranges from religious symbols to spiritual symbols to political symbols. The use of the Nazi swastika continues to frighten and inflame people 70 years after the fact. The use of spiritual symbols frightens and inflames religious people. I wonder why a symbol can evoke such fear in people. We must not be very far along the evolutionary scale if we are prone to violence over the use of a simple flag. If anything, the Supreme Court has said over and over again that we can’t legislate symbols. The government can’t require the flying of the US flag, for example.

            I think that we need to take a step back and take a deep breath. Everyone is getting so emotionally attached to their own political agenda that they have lost their sense of humor. Historians are still debating who was right and who was wrong in the Civil War. We either focus on the positive side of life or we focus on the negative side of life. We forget the concept of karma, we don’t have faith in the divine or the universe. Our egos have become God, and we want to tell people how to live their life. All this does is increase violence and conflict.

            If something really hooks us, and we have a huge emotional reaction to a symbol, or behavior or thoughts, we need to go within and examine what we have to change to live a peaceful life. I don’t think anyone wants to be angry and violent unless they are provoked. What provokes us into violence will tell us volumes about how we perceive our past. We need to become masters of our emotions and our past or they will master us and we will remain victims.

            We need to take the power out of symbols. When we react to symbols, especially violently, the symbol has taken control of our lives. Look at a symbol for what it is, just a bunch of lines, colors and images. If the symbol invokes a negative image for us, forgive it. If it creates a reaction in us, we should love it. We need to quit making outside influences control how we feel about the world. We should love each other and respect each other, not make every little nuance a major battleground. If we want to stop war and violence, don’t let symbols make us angry. That is where wars and violence starts. There is no coincidence that the violence in a South Carolina church where 9 people died came at the same time this flag issue has raised its ugly head. Wake up people!

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Love Versus Disempowerment

           I was raised in a culture where loving someone meant having no boundaries and completely disempowering yourself to them. My parents insisted that I behave in certain ways, and when I didn’t, I would be punished. Sometimes manners and public behavior required such convention, but usually it had more to do with me being “seen and not heard”.  So to avoid punishment, I had to constantly be vigilant about my parents’ moods and how I was behaving around them. This was all called “love”. What it actually was training how to disempower myself and be someone other than who I was to make others happy.

            I just ended a relationship where I finally realized that I was doing the same thing to someone I loved. I was constantly vigilant to her needs, making sure that everything was to her liking and totally forgetting about my own needs. I thought that was love. Whenever she decided to walk all over me, it was accepted because I was afraid if I set boundaries she would leave. I was in complete denial to the reality that she didn’t really care much about me; she was just using me to enjoy a lifestyle I threw at her in an attempt to buy her love. Over and over again I was given evidence that she really didn’t care much about me. She never invited me to meet her family or her friends even though we were living together. She would never plan things for us to do together; I was constantly doing that to win her affection. It was pretty much a one sided relationship.

            The wake up call came when she planned a date with an old boy friend the first night we went on an international trip together. I suppose she felt that if I loved her I would be fine staying in the hotel room by myself while she went out with her old boyfriend. I finally stood up for myself and ended the relationship. Ironically, she still does not see that she did anything that justified ending the relationship.

            This story is not about her. It is about the way I totally lost myself in the relationship and allowed her to ignore any boundaries or attempts for self respect. Nothing is worth allowing myself to do that. I learned a lot of lessons in this relationship, primarily being more careful about who I want to share my life with. There are a lot of toxic people out there and I seem to be able to fall in love with most of them. The truth is I am a naturally gifted healer and many people come to me for healing. It is my problem that I sometimes fall in love with them.

            The truth is this person only came into my life for one reason, to lead me back to my teacher. I had left this teacher several years before, and in chasing her I found my way back to him. Once this was accomplished, I hung on too long, and probably made it too difficult for her to leave by showering jewelry, exotic trips, penthouse apartments and other goodies on her. I remember the saying that some people come into our lives for different reasons, and we have to be aware of when that reason has been completed.  I have written many times about love, and how we should think about the other person’s happiness. I have learned an important lesson about love, and that is we have to love ourselves first. When we let someone disrespect us and walk all over our self-respect, that is not loving ourselves.

            It is true that we go into relationships to learn how to love ourselves more. Sometimes loving ourselves means ending a relationship that is unhealthy or one-sided. While that may seem paradoxical, it makes perfect sense to me now. So if you are in a relationship where there is not mutual love, affection, respect and caring, you need to end it. If you are the one receiving all of the love and affection and not giving anything back, you should consider whether you are in integrity by staying when it is obvious you are taking advantage of someone. The karma that comes from abusing someone that loves you is huge. So when a relationship isn’t working, be brave enough to stop and go find one that does.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

FREEING YOUR MIND

Our mind is not always our friend. It can take over our consciousness and control our behavior. It can make mountains out of mouse turds and make us miserable. We obsess over relationships, finances, aging, friends and destiny. Sometimes it would be really good if we could take a vacation, a time out from our mind. Life is not as serious as we would think. Why not spend a few minutes everyday thinking of things that don’t matter? It would give our minds something fun and creative to think about rather than “does (s)he love me?” or “how am I going to survive this?” So here are a few things we can think about that will brighten our day.

            DO NOT make this a goal making exercise. DO NOT try to figure out how to make any of this happen. This is simply to give your mind a rest from trying to control the world. Just dream!

(1)           If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

(2)           If you didn’t know how old you were, what would you guess?

(3)           If you could be anything, what would it be?

(4)           What weighs you down the most? If you could let go of something, what would it be?

(5)           What is your favorite childhood memory?

(6)           Are you more interested in doing the right thing or doing things right?

(7)           How would life be different if you were immortal?

(8)           What is the best thing you have ever done?

(9)           How long would you wait for the best thing that ever happened to you?

(10)        What is your most pleasant dream?

(11)        Are you living big or small?

(12)        Would you live the same life if no one was watching?

(13)        What would life be like if you had total amnesia?

(14)        What if your biggest enemy was your best friend in heaven?

(15)        What was the most upsetting thing to you 5 years ago? What do you thing about it now?

(16)        When in your past did you feel the most alive?

(17)        When do you feel the most you?

(18)        When were you the most surprised?

(19)        When did you become an adult?

(20)        What would you give up to be attractive and famous?

(21)        Do you make your decisions or do you let others make them for you?

(22)        Who are you?

(23)        What is your favorite song?

(24)        What is your favorite movie?

(25)        What is your favorite book?

(26)        What is your favorite memory?

(27)        If you could change anything what would it be?

(28)        What would you give up to be happy?

(29)        What was your darkest moment?

(30)        Are you happy?

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Happy Father’s Day

I am in North Carolina celebrating Father’s Day with my father, who just turned 90 years old this week. It has given me a lot to reflect upon, especially since he is nearing the end of a hugely successful and admirable life. His body has not been able to keep up with his mind, as both are giving out on him. As we say on the ranch, he was rode hard and put up wet. He grew up in eastern North Carolina in the depression and went to the United States Military Academy at West Point graduating in 1945. After military service he went to Duke Law School and graduated in 1952 at third in his class. Thereafter he crafted a legendary career as a trial and business attorney, representing clients in some of the most prolific and important litigation in North Carolina. He was a fierce opponent and loyal and trusted ally.

            My path with my father was like two bull elephants battling over who was going to control my life. Some of my most painful life lessons were learned out of a motivation to rebel against his control. I am more like him than I care to admit, and understand the huge influence he has made in my life. I observe that is the role many fathers play in our lives. I see many people who struggle to coexist with their fathers who try to control the lives of their children in an attempt to keep them safe. This may be the legacy of the fathers of the three dimensional world.

            There are two challenges for all fathers. The first is to open their hearts and allow the divine feminine to coexist with their cultural roles as head of the household. The second is to allow their family to choose and walk their own paths of destiny. Historically it was very difficult for males to be vulnerable and open their hearts to love and be loved. Those that lived during the depression and world wars were programmed to be tough providers for their family. Softness and tenderness were not qualities that were deemed necessary as they were in survival mode. Now men are starting to understand that being vulnerable is an admirable quality. Equally as big a shift is the notion that men are no longer “head of the household”, they are in a cooperative role with all of the family members to create love and abundance.

            As my father nears the end of this lifetime, Alzheimer’s and dementia have taken the fight out of him. I notice that he is no longer playing the role of head of the household; he has softened noticeably and has gone more into his heart. He is becoming the father I always wanted. He is kind, accepting and grateful for his children (most of the time). He is a pleasure to be with, there is no more struggle between us. The balance in him is noticeable; he has learned what he came here to learn. Now is the time for his next adventure.

            Father’s Day is one of the holidays that need to be acknowledged everyday. There are so many fathers worldwide who toil, worry, and dream big dreams for their children and family without adequate appreciation. Now I hope that more fathers will open their hearts and share their feelings with their loved ones. This allows their loved ones to know that they are loved and included in their lives. This brings people together and bond.

            So today, let us appreciate our fathers and send them love. Ask that their hearts be opened and share their emotions. Let us do the same, open our hearts and share our emotions with our fathers. After all, they are our greatest teachers, either of how to be or how not to be. It is not easy to be a father, and I have learned a lot from my sons on how to be better. There is not a father on the planet that doesn’t have some angst about how they parented their children. They deal with that everyday. All people want to be good parents, and they do the best they can. Perhaps today we can forgive our fathers for their lessons and how they learned to parent. All parents need help, and forgiveness plays a large part in helping everyone be their best.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Vulnerability

             After having survived yet another emotionally devastating event, I am left contemplating the whole concept of vulnerability. For me, vulnerability is openness, the ability to share, to be present, to offer yourself totally in the moment and risk everything. And yes, when you are vulnerable, life can hurt. Another term for vulnerability is an open heart. We hear a lot these days about living in our heart, as if that will transcend the pain and trauma of emotional distress. As I have learned, being totally open, vulnerable and present gives the opportunity for growth in ways that being emotionally unavailable will never allow.

             I know all of the preceding sounds like a prescription for certain doom, but it is also known as the dark night of the soul. When we endure great pain when we open ourselves to others, we have a choice. We can either shut down and isolate, feeding on bitterness or despair until we lose all joy and happiness; or, we can feel the pain and learn the lesson which always takes us closer to who we are. Not much of a choice one might say; between the pain of loss or the pain of gain.

             The positive side of the coin, however, is the butterfly lesson. We are so much like caterpillars, you and I. We struggle for years as a caterpillar, then a climatic event occurs that gives us the opportunity to be a butterfly. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, or a relationship or a job, the evolutionary process can be quite daunting. When we are betrayed, abandoned, rejected or lost, it is a difficult task to be grateful for the experience. However, this is the chrysalis, the way we become someone new and bigger than ourselves. It is supposed to be hard, to build our emotional muscles. It is supposed to be frustrating, to flex our wings. It is supposed to feel like we are dying, because we are being reborn.

             Don’t be sucked into the melodrama. When we are going through the chrysalis effect, it feels like we are dying. No so. We are actually being reprogrammed, re-engineered, reborn into a new being. It may be that we are becoming enlightened, or at least more conscious about life in general. When we lose the illusion of love, we can more easily see into who we are and learn to appreciate ourselves more.

            When we are hanging on to something that is unhealthy, toxic or not supposed to be, it will only hurt worse when the divine loves us enough to take it away. Have you ever tried to take a toy from a child who doesn’t want to let go? That is a true example of how the divine has to rip something from our grasp to give us something we will really want.

            The only requirement for optimal living is vulnerability, otherwise known as the ability to accept life on life’s terms. When we are flexible enough to recognize that life has to change, and to jump for joy when it changes, we can experience freedom in a way that most people can’t. Being able to recognize emotional pain for what it is, e.g. an illusion is the significant characteristic of advanced person.

             Many people confuse emotional unavailability with happiness. Actually they are avoiding feeling anything at all. When you put your heart on a platter and offer it to the divine on a daily basis, the inevitable result will be emotional strength and maturity. So be vulnerable on a daily basis. Be juicy, be soft, be kind, be caring, be yourself. The more vulnerable you can be, the stronger you will be. When your heart is broken, it gets bigger. You feel more alive, more connected and more enlightened. Allow yourself to experience everything. Then you can be everything.

           

 

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

The Path to Enlightenment

            I hear people frequently say that they want to be enlightened. I often said that myself. I had no idea of what I was asking for. I thought I was asking for psychic abilities, healing abilities, and peace. In a nutshell, what I was asking for was to lose everything and go crazy. I prayed and prayed that I would be connected with God and be enlightened. I wanted to do this quickly and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

            The first thing I learned on the path to enlightenment was that I had to lose everything. I lost my family, I lost my long time legal career, and I lost all of my money. Don’t worry; this has a happy ending. But I don’t recommend this for the average citizen. There are not many people who have the resources to pull off a complete redo on the consciousness level. They fall into despair, they commit crimes of mass destruction, or they just go away. This is because of our main operating system, THE EGO, does not like being replaced by higher consciousness.

            The first thing I gave up was a $300K a year job because I knew I was I that job for my parents. Even though I was very good at it, I decided to go a different path. The reason being was I knew it was a stepping-stone to something greater. So think of it this way. You are making all kinds of crazy money and living the American dream. However my dream was to feed, heal and save children. I knew enough about agriculture to know that if you don’t cultivate the seeds, the crop will die. Hello!!! Does anyone get the metaphor? So we make the world safe for our children, their children and their children, or we will die.

            If you want to know where your consciousness is, look at what you complain about. It will tell you where you are. If you complain about your relationships, you are probably in need of a talk with a spiritual master. If you complain about your financial portfolio, you are probably in need of a talk with a spiritual master. If you complain about your health, you are probably in need of a talk with a spiritual master. So if you complain, go talk to a spiritual master.

            A spiritual master knows that all of this is an illusion and an ego game. They don’t care about stuff. They don’t care about relationships. They don’t care about bank accounts. All they care about is your soul. And they will listen very intently to your complaints and laugh. They laugh because they don’t care. They know that there is only one question we need to ask ourselves and that is “am I breathing?” If the answer is “no”, there is no problem. If the answer is “yes”, then there is no problem, only life. And life is messy, chaotic, confusing and frustrating. Even for enlightened people.

            The next question is “what are you afraid to give up?” This one is the borderline between enlightenment and living. There is a real borderline to this question because whatever answer comes will be the reason you are unhappy. This is the “oh crap” question because there isn’t any equivocation on this one. This drills down the illusion that we perpetrate on what we need. The answer for enlightened beings is “everything”! For all of us normal people, that may be harder. We find it hard to give up the friends, money, possessions, job, or self esteem.

            Here is the secret that everyone is looking for to find happiness: “let it go”. You will never be happy wanting something. You can only be happy not wanting something. Here is a zen statement for you: you won’t get what you want, until you don’t want it. Then you won’t want it. Life is grand, isn’t it!

            So when the philosophers talk about peeling the onion, they are only talking about getting into a state where you don’t want the onion. Then it will be possible to be happy. So, here is a list of stuff people want: Soul mate, Job, Health, Longevity, Money, Prestige, Power, Respect. None of this stuff will bring you peace or happiness. The only thing that will bring you happiness is being able to sit with yourself and being able to laugh. If you can do that honestly, sincerely, authentically, everything else is BS. So let go of being right. Be flexible. Be honest. Be sincere. Follow your dream and don’t be distracted.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

MINDFULNESS

          One of the most important things we can do in our life to help us be is to practice mindfulness. Our lives are naturally forced to be involved in doing, and we are designed to simply be. We go to work, we have relationships, we spend our money, we wish things were different, and we wonder what is missing. What is missing is our awareness of what is going on in our life and the world. Many of us are looking for something to make us fulfilled, to make us feel worthwhile, to make us feel special. I hear many times from clients that their work, their relationships or their life needs to change and they are looking for what to change into. If their circumstances are abusive or dangerous, I certainly encourage them to make decisions that will make their life safe. However, if the problem is that they are dissatisfied with what they have created in their life, I encourage them to try something else before they quit their job, spouse, or circumstances. I encourage them to practice mindfulness.

          Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present in any moment. It is much easier to be mindful and completely present while things are quiet and relaxed. It is difficult to be completely mindful when your supervisor wants something done or your children are misbehaving. Life is simply a journey and we do not have to be perfect. All we have to do is practice. Being mindful can be as simple as bringing one hundred percent of your focus on to one thing right in front of you for a few minutes. When you have a quiet moment, look at one thing that is right in front of you and look at it, really look at it. I am looking at a vase of tulips my best friend gave to me. I am looking at the colors… yellows, pinks, green, peach, red and lime jump at me and this is just one of the tulips. The smell is perfume and earth. The textures are soft, crinkled, smooth and striped. The feelings that I experience while looking at them are love, amazement, gratitude, wonder and curiosity.  There are so many different things to notice in just one flower that I had not noticed before. The amazing thing is that all of the petty thoughts that I was thinking about before I focused on that flower have gone out of my mind.

          Mindfulness is also the ability to focus on whatever emotions we are experiencing in the moment. Are we sad, angry, afraid, worried, joyful, happy or peaceful? Really focus on the feeling/emotion and scan your body at the same time. Where in your body is the emotion? What shape is the emotion? What color is the emotion? What does the emotion feel like? By the time you have analyzed all of the characteristics of the emotion, it will have moved on. That is the nature of emotions, Energy in Motion…If you are experiencing an emotion that is unpleasant, you can let it go by being mindful about it.

          Mindfulness is also the ability to experience your body fully. Practice walking ten steps in one direction and returning. Focus on how it feels to walk, how your muscles contract, how it feels to life a foot off of the ground, feeling blood flow through your body, breath coming in and out of your body. Walking is such a complex action that we often don’t appreciate how miraculous our bodies are. When we are filled with wonder and awe about how incredible we are, negative emotions leave and we can start to appreciate just how special we are.

          Mindfulness is also focusing on our breath. If we could simply take 5 minutes when we first wake up in the morning to focus on our breathing, we can start our days with the realization that we are alive and everything else is easy after that. After we focus on our breathing for 5 minutes, we can also select a thought for the day, something uplifting and inspiring. Have a list of such thoughts handy beside your bed, and just choose one to start your day. The first thought we have in our heads when we start our day usually sets the tone for our day. If we choose a positive, enlightening thought, our day will start that way. If we don’t choose our thoughts, our thoughts will choose what kind of day we will have and that often won’t be as positive as a conscious thought would be.

          The way we practice how to be will determine what we do. If we are completely mindful, it doesn’t matter what we do, for we will be doing it consciously and with awareness. Many times the perceived problems with the job, relationship or circumstances simply disappear. Practice, practice, practice.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

THE EGO

          One of the least understood aspects of our psyche is the ego. Some psychologists use it one-way, others use it another. Freud had an understanding of the ego; Jung had a different understanding. Both were experts in their field, the study of the mind. The sages of the East have a completely different understanding of the concept of ego. To them, the ego is the mind, and the mind is not the brain. The mind is the cognitive analytical function of the brain, and it perceives the data received by the five senses, judges it as safe or harmful, and then the mind tells the physical body what to do. The movie trilogy The Matrix had an eastern frame to their interpretation of what the mind interprets as reality. The physical mind is separate from the physical body just as the physical Neo was separate from his matrix construct as well as his true physical body.  It gets quite complicated when we try to differentiate between the mind, the body and the spirit.

          When we are born, we have an ego that is an infant. If all goes well, that ego identifies with the world in a safe and healthy way. It perceives the world as basically safe and supportive, a reflection of his first gods and goddesses, his parents. If, however, the circumstances of birth and childhood are traumatic and threatening, that is how the ego will interpret the world and that individual’s reality will be far more frightening than the healthy child. The ego is also similar to the operating system of a computer. Without one, the computer is basically a boat anchor. Depending on the operating system installed, computers can be quite a helpful tool. If the operating system (ego) is corrupted, then glitches and breakdowns are inevitable. This is why we suffer.

          The problem is that we identify with the ego’s perception of the world. So we can feel defective based on how our ego perceives the world. If the ego is defective, we will feel and perceive ourselves as being defective. We create the ego at a very early age to pretend that we know what we are doing. Even with a healthy ego, we have a distorted view of the world because we only can perceive it through the ego. The only way we can perceive correctly is to let go of the ego, the sense of reality. Whatever we desire distorts our perception even further, because the ego leads us to believe that we will die without it. Thus, we can’t kill the ego any more than we can kill who we think we are. However, to truly transcend this false sense of reality, we have to learn to access a higher operating system, known as divine consciousness.

          The problem for many people is that divine consciousness is not neatly wrapped with a box and ribbon. Letting go of the ego can only access it. That means that we have to forget about what we think is important, be still, and seek divine wisdom. We fall short oftentimes because we have identified with the material world, and cannot see that we are far more than the physical. We have to let go of the notion that we are this or that, we have to let go of the belief that this is good or this is bad. We have to let go of the belief that we need anything, we have to let go of the belief that we have to be happy. We have to let go of the need to know the divine. We have to completely open ourselves to the idea that we are perfect just the way we are, that there is a higher consciousness available to us as soon as we wake from the dream of the ego. The ego dreams are just as real as the subconscious dreams when we fall asleep. We just don’t know it.

          Many people ask me how do we let go of the ego? It is a simple question and it has a simple answer. The answer is to detach and observe. Do not get emotionally attached to anything. It is the ego that causes emotional reactions and breakdowns. (Otherwise known as faulty programming). Accept all things as perfect and remember that the true operating system is divine consciousness. We are simply here to experience what we are experiencing. It is the ego that says, “I don’t like this”. So we have to remove the faulty programming of judgment and simply let life flow through and around us. When we resist, we suffer.

          So in order to let go of the ego, we have to open the floodgates of the mind and the heart and don’t resist anything. When we resist, we get angry, we lose our connection to unconditional love. We become afraid, and that is when we get system errors coming up in our perception. Just like the matrix, computer metaphors are like life itself. The best course is to get the best operating system you can and install the best security features you can find. Hopefully this will allow you operate without the ego…or you will have to reboot.