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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.

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

          AH, the end of May and beginning of June. It is time for the annual Derek O’Neill “playshop” in Dublin, Ireland. It is a week of intense transformation, growth, struggle and perhaps even a little discomfort as we learn how to deal with our issues and let go of the misery and challenges that makes life so hard. The truth is this process started several weeks ago for me in that negative emotions seems to be waiting around every corner and behind every door. For someone that claims to know how to deal with these human hurdles, it is very disconcerting to find out that “all is not well” with my self. I hurt, I chafe, I rail at the Gods because all of the things that I seek for happiness is now causing me pain greater than I have experienced in a long time.

          What is heavens name am I doing? I was told very early in life that if I acquired a good family, an honest living, friends and material things that I would be happy. It didn’t work out that way for me. I have been divorced twice, made and lost lots of money, acquired and let go of many material possessions. I seem to be in a letting go mode at the moment, I have given away most of my possessions and toys. I wrecked my car last December, but I live in a place you don’t need private transportation so I am okay on that one. I know lots of very wealthy people, and they seem to be struggling as much as I finding the elusive state of happiness that we all crave.

          I have written many times on how to be happy, it doesn’t matter what you have or possess, who you are in relationship with or what kind of job that you have. It all depends on your state of mind, what you are thinking about and how detached you are from your circumstances in life. However, when it is your time to suffer, it is a long uphill climb to the top of Happiness Mountain. Many times I tell myself “snap out of it” but when you aren’t getting what you want, it is hard to get to a place where you don’t care. That is really the secret to being happy, not caring about what you get. If you have a lot, great; if you have nothing, that is great as well.

          Sometimes I wonder if Buddha was an alien who merely placed a carrot at the end of a stick and dangled it in front of our heads. After all, detachment and mindfulness are not “human” as far as I can tell. There are so few people that I have met that have achieved those attributes I wonder if they are actually human as well. Are detachment and mindfulness impossible goals?

          Apparently I have created a perfect dilemma for myself where I feel totally lacking of control and yet I see no end in sight. The goal is to connect with the divine and find the love for myself that I always believe only comes from each one of us. I am beginning to discover that even though I feel like I love myself there are days when I don’t like myself very much. I guess that is playing out in my reality as well.

          I am writing this blog simply to let you know that the pursuit of happiness is sometimes difficult and elusive. We do not feel happy and blissful all of the time unless we can give us our attachments to people, places and things. When you don’t want anything, you can’t be disappointed. I am struggling (I hope for the last time) with letting go of the one thing I have always wanted (that is a personal issue for me).  The zen teachers I know keep telling me I can’t get it until I don’t want it, which sounds pretty counterintuitive to me. In any event, it seems pretty certain that I will not solve this problem with the same thinking that created it.

          So the pursuit of happiness seems to be a misnomer. The pursuit of anything likely pushes it away. The only way to find happiness is to “be” happy. So we have come full circle on this little blog, which is that I know that I can’t find happiness. I can only let it steal into my heart like a warm nighttime fog coming through a window. I hope that I can discover how to speed up the process in Ireland. Their fogs are legendary. It may mean being unhappy for a little while longer, but I have been promised that all I have been through and done will be worth it. I have hope that it will.

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

COURAGE

          Sometimes life is too much. We don’t know what to do, we are afraid to do anything. Yet if we don’t do something, terrible things might happen. Our loved ones may leave, our parents may die, our children may fail, we will lose control or we may lose everything. Our minds go out of control seeking a solution for these often-irrational fears. This is a classic case of fear of the future. The only way to shift the fear and agony of the intensity of this circumstance is to seek courage and get back into our heart. When we are afraid and we don’t know what to do, we are completely in our mind. Our mind loves to control everything and everyone and goes berserk when it can’t. There is no way to think our way out of this situation; we have to take certain steps to find serenity and peace again.

          Courage is having faith and trust in ourselves to keep breathing and do the best you can. When we are in our minds and attached to outcomes, we create a self-perpetuating loop of panic and fight or flight. This is the well-known monkey mind that only keeps grasping and demanding life is a certain way. Courage is like a clutch that allows us to disengage the mind even for a brief moment to allow us to get back into being, rather than doing. Courage allows us to face the pain, the fear, the agony, the potential loss and see it for what it is, an illusion. East and West have different concepts of courage…in the West, we conceive of courage as fortitude, the ability to do things in the face of danger. In the East, we say courage is love, the opposite of fear. With fear, we shrink and lose ourselves in the ego. With courage, we expand and become more than we were before the fear.

          In the West, we say, “think twice before you jump”. In the East, we say “jump, then think.” We get stuck in life because we want to know we will accomplish the goal before we even try. When faced with uncertainly, we freeze because the ego mind does not want to take a risk. Courage means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where that will lead. Courage means letting go of results and keep breathing. Courage means being the best person you can be, knowing that nothing happens in life that isn’t for our benefit. There are some strategies for getting past the seemingly insurmountable fear of the future and into peace and serenity.

          First, we have to remember that we control our emotions or our emotions control us. We can change our emotions one step at a time. If we are panicked, imagine that you are only afraid. When you are only afraid, imagine that you are actually excited. There is a fine line between fear and excitement; it is only how you perceive it. Be excited for the opportunities ahead of you, the momentary crisis that you may be experiencing may only be the pain of growth. Set hourly goals for your self, to breathe, to laugh, to love, to forgive. Do these every hour and your emotions will rise to more positive and bearable ones.

          Second, continue to breathe. When we are in fear, it is because our brain is not getting enough oxygen. Just take a few minutes and breathe as deeply and slowly as you can into your belly and then exhale as slowly as you can until your lungs are completely empty. Do this for at least five minutes on the hour. You will be amazed how much better you will feel.

          Third, get still for a few minutes. While you are breathing will be a great time to quiet your mind. Focus on shifting your focus from what is happening outside of yourself into your heart. Allow your self to feel loved, and to feel love. Send love to whoever or whatever is causing your fear. When you connect to that love, you will connect to your immortality and the panic will decrease. Imagine how you would feel if you were truly immortal. Would the issues facing you change in their perspective if you knew you would never die? This is not a religious commitment, it is simply an exercise in shifting your perception to a higher level. When we look at our challenges and fears from a higher perspective (such as we are immortal) they are not so fearful.

          Finally, remember whatever you are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on inside of your subconscious mind. If you look in a mirror and see your hair is messy, you don’t try to comb the hair in the mirror that you see, you comb the hair on your own head that you can’t see. Then the hair in the mirror magically changes. So when we are able to calm our minds and get into our hearts, what we perceive as reality will naturally change. This takes patience and persistence. Sometimes events that took years in the making won’t go away in ten minutes. Simply continue to breathe, go into your heart, and do the best you can. Sometimes the transition from caterpillar to butterfly really sucks. But when you keep breathing and get into your heart, the results are worth it.

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

FEAR OF THE FUTURE

            My personal opinion is that our biggest health issue on this planet is fear of the future. We stress, worry, plan, analyze, manipulate and attempt to control everything and anything in our life because we don’t know what the future will bring and our ego/mind cannot live with that. So rather than have trust and faith that the divine and the creative forces of the universe are conspiring to give us far more than we can ever dream. It must be a primal fear, a fear that we have encoded into our genetic code, because there are very few people that do not live with this fear on a daily basis. The gifted few that do not have a fear of the future are either deeply connected to God or have a mental disorder that prevents them from cognitive thinking. The stress and anxiety caused by this fear of the future puts great strain on our immune systems and causes disease, accelerated aging and illness. We have to find a way to let go of the fear of the future.

            The first step is to recognize the source of this fear. The mind/ego is the source of all questions, doubt, and fear. The heart does not have any fear of the future; the heart is always in the moment sending love and compassion to the world. When we have questions or doubts or fears, this is generated by our thoughts based on our past experiences. We always want to know what is going to happen in the future. Psychics and fortunetellers are making good livings these days predicting what is going to happen in the future. The irony is that we are the ones that make the future by our thoughts and actions. We can either make the psychic right when we believe what the psychic tells us and we subconsciously manifest it, or we can rebel and make the opposite come true.

            The second step is to recognize that it is our desire for something that pushes it away. That is why we are afraid, we are afraid that we will never get what we want. The truth is that there are a limited number of outcomes to our desire.  First, we will either not obtain what we want because our guardian angels know it is not good for us and will not let us have it. That answer is “no”. Second, we will get what we want and we will realize that what we thought we wanted isn’t what we thought we wanted. In other words, when we desire something and get it, we realize that is not going to make us happy. That answer is “oh no.” Third, we can get what we want and then discover after time that we have changed our minds and we want something else. That answer is “oh no, not again.” So basically our mind automatically sets us up to suffer because we look outside of ourselves for something that is inside us, and that is happiness.

            The third step is to want what we get. When we accept whatever comes in our life with gratitude, we prime the pump for more deliciousness to come in the future. If we are afraid of the future, it is because of ignorance. When we accept one universal principle, that everything changes, and we can accept life or reject it, we understand that we really do have control over what we experience. If we are happy with what we have, and we know that we will be happy with whatever we have in the future, all of the angst disappears. We still wake up, suit up, and do the best we can, but we let go of the desire. I mean, really, do we really want to stay in perpetual fear and angst?

            Finally, we have to realize that fear of the future is the number one indication that we have disconnected from our heart. When we live in our heart we are focused on what we can do for others, we are focused on being openhearted. This is the path to connecting with our heart. When we are connected to our heart we do not fear. There is no point because we accept all that was, all that is and all that will be as a gift, the present. Whenever we feel afraid, panicked, or stressed, we need to reconnect with our heart. We can’t think two thoughts at the same time. We can either focus on being grateful and openhearted or we can be terrified of our future. It is one or the other. Sometimes we have to post sticky notes all around the house to remind us to think positively, be grateful and be open-hearted. When we are openhearted, we feel peace and calm. We know that we will be fine. We do not fear the future. And life becomes wonderful.

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

SURVIVING HELL

            We all have been there. Hell. That place in your life that you did not think you could survive without losing something very important to you, like your self-respect and future happiness. Life often throws us unavoidable surprises that we are not ready to catch. It would have been nice if someone had yelled “incoming!” I just learned of the tragic death of young father in an automobile accident. He was young, and left a wife and two young children behind. Loss is just one level of hell. Other levels include poverty, public ridicule, illness, abuse by a loved one, the criminal justice system, and breakup of romantic relationships. Each person has their version of hell but hopefully won’t have to experience it. Many times one person’s hell is another person’s heaven. It is all a matter of perspective.

            I have found some guidelines on how to survive a trip to hell and return a new and improved version of you. Each one can be used by itself or in conjunction with the others. I have great compassion for those who are going through such traumatic times that they can’t breathe or sleep. Been there and done that. But if you try these practices, your return from Hell will be easier and quicker.

                      1. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. When we go through trying times, we are exercising parts of our psyche that may be weak or needs strength. Life has brutal ways sometimes of making us stronger. Sometimes even a superficial wound like a broken love affair can make us want to lay down and die. We feel like the future is not worth living. However, as we will see below, many times better and more exciting times are ahead and we have to be strong enough to get there. Winston Churchill once said during the German bombing of London, “when you find yourself in hell, keep walking.” So keep breathing.           

                      2. This too shall pass. Sometimes we have to resolve ourselves to outlive our challenges and problems. No matter how bad things get, remember that the current challenges and difficulties will pass. Everything changes. Use this knowledge to your advantage. The good times pass, the bad times pass, and the really painful and difficult times will also pass.

                      3. You are a survivor.  The present may feel like the worst ever, but chances are you have seen worse, or know of someone who has survived worse. If you live in the US, you are better off than most of the world and your survival skill can be pretty good. You’ve survived tough times and challenges, over and over. Remind yourself that you’re an experienced problem solver. And while you’re at it, remind yourself you’re fighter. You overcome, you don’t give up.

                      4. The worst won’t happen. A familiar saying is “90% of what we worry about doesn’t happen”.  While you may feel overwhelmed by life’s twists and turns and the intensity of the current situation, try to take each moment one at a time. When we experience trauma, we immediately go into the future and stress about what we are going to do tomorrow, 6 months from now or years from now. Cancel clear any thoughts about the future while you are stressed. Only make plans or consider the future when you are calm and grounded. If you make decisions about anything while you are stressed and overwhelmed, you will only make your situation worse. Calm down, breathe, and remember that you are stronger than you know and braver than you think.

                     5. Release expectations and control. Often, we deal with so much stress and anxiety not because of what’s happening, but because it is not happening as we please. We grow up having certain expectations about our life. These expectations were programed by our parents, advertisers, authority figures and society. We demand certain consequences and results. We provide the timelines on when we want these things. Life doesn’t care about our every wish and command, or our timeline. The more you can learn to let go of your expectations about circumstances, the more free and less stressed you’ll feel. Trust that the situation will work out for the best and be OK with it not turning out exactly as you had wanted. For once, relax and let the God/Universe take care of you. Take a few days off from running the universe and see what happens.

                       6. Learn the lesson. You may not be able to do anything with your current circumstances right now, but you will be able to reflect and learn from what’s happening in your life later on. When you get the point of the lesson, you will be able to use that wisdom to improve your life and the life of your loved ones. It is when you are in denial and resist the lesson that things get worse. Sometimes life takes loved ones or things away to give us something or someone better. Life is a classroom … imagine that it’s preparing you for a doctorate in living.

                        7. It always gets better. Life is a pendulum swinging between pleasure and pain. That is why it is always darkest before the dawn.  When things get bad, or terrible, rest assured that it can’t continue this way. Remember things always change. Rest assured the worst is behind you. It can only get better from this point onward. Stay hopeful and optimistic that your situation is about to change for the better. It will.

                        8. It is a gift.  When we are going through Hell, it is hard to be grateful for the experience. That is the only way we can learn and grow from the experience, to recognize that God never gives us more than we can handle and growth many times is painful. When we are grieving the loss of a loved one, embrace the gift of grief and understand that your heart will open and love will fill it if you let it in. The more we fail and stumble, the more growth and insight we have about life. The truth is success will follow tragedy if we accept the gift and learn the lesson. Get ready for better things in your future. If the fall was hard and painful, your bounce back should take you to whole new heights. Setbacks aren’t always what they seem. You may feel like you’re taking several steps back when in reality, you’re getting ready to make great leaps in your life.

          And soon enough you’ll realize that life is setting you up for something much greater.

 

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

MAY YOU

            After a long winter, May has finally arrived. It is the time for warm weather, sun and fun. This is the spring, the time of rebirth and creation. I have some wishes for you, all based on “may”.

May you always be at peace.

May you be surrounded by those who love you and support you.

May you be free of worry and doubt.

May your faith be larger than your fear.

May you always look twenty years younger than your real age.

May you be comfortable with who you are.

May you follow your heart.

May you find happiness and fulfillment helping others.

May you and all the beings in all the worlds be happy.

May you be patient, kind and courageous.

May you always know the difference between your mind and your heart.

May you always thank God for every day of your life.

May you always see what is in front of you.

May you pay it forward.

May you always find joy in the laughter of a child.

May you never raise your voice in anger.

May you find a teacher who teaches you how to be.

May you be happy in and with your body.

May you do something generous without anyone knowing.

May you know what it is to help someone less fortunate than you.

May children always run up to you with hugs.

May you laugh in times of trouble.

May you always want what you get.

May you be the person your dog thinks you are.

May you be the person people come to for advice.

May the first thought of your day be a happy one.

May you look in the mirror and smile.  Often.

May you smell the flowers and not pick them.

May you make someone glad they know you.

May you be humble and calm no matter what happens.

May you always listen to my radio shows and tell all of your friends to do the same. (If that didn’t make you laugh, read it again).

 

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

THE MIRACLE OF A BROKEN HEART

            It is my experience that the ancient teachings (God) come to me in times of my greatest growth and help me to understand that everything is in my highest good. I had the sublime and transformational experience recently of not getting what (or who) I really, really, really wanted. Specifically, I met someone that I have a great deal in common with, and share many common beliefs, profoundly enjoy every minute with this person and was convinced that I had finally found my soul mate. The kicker was that this person is in a relationship that they are not willing to leave. So by not getting what I want, I got to feel the old familiar intense pain of a broken heart.

            The illusion of separation is greatest in these situations. Imagine someone who doesn’t even know of the existence of the illusion of separation who faces this situation. Most people would go into victimhood and depression. However, the teachings tell us that when we don’t get what we want, a space is opened up in our psyche that either causes our greatest suffering or gives us the opportunity to fill it with a connection with the divine. That part of the spiritual journey is called the dark night of the soul. We cry out to our higher self for comfort and guidance, and the cry is answered with peace and equanimity. Stated another way, a broken heart is one way God uses to come into our heart.

            I am well aware that the illusion of a broken heart is a melodramatic reaction to not getting my way and wishing life was different. It is an adult version of a temper tantrum.  The teachings state that the cause of all suffering is wishing life were different. So the truth of the phenomenon of any emotional trauma is that it is our reaction to not getting what we want. The path to enlightenment is paved with the stones of not getting what we want. After all, if we got what we wanted all of the time, there would be no motivation, no opportunity to change our beliefs about ourselves and grow.

            What is different about this experience is that realization that I caused it and am fully responsible for the lesson. The poor woman probably was not ready for a committed relationship (especially with me) but that did not stop me from building romantic castles in the air and making plans for our eternal bliss. She probably didn’t know what hit her. A full frontal assault from a highly spiritual Leo is daunting, I would imagine. Even more important is the lesson that we cannot find love outside of ourselves. By reaching outside of myself to find love in the form of this person I created in my own mind, I created this scenario. When the full light of the being that I am shined on this illusion, it evaporated like the morning dew.

            It is humbling at times to realize just how powerful we are. The uncomfortable question is how am I behaving in order to create this reflection of my heart? Do I disregard my feelings or not love myself the way I need? These are important questions for my own spiritual growth, for the people I encounter in my life are merely reflections of how I relate to myself. There is lots of food for contemplation from this experience.

            The most important question is how do I move on? I have decided that I will be open to whatever happens and look forward to seeing who I become after all of this. I find that as I move along the spiritual path, my feelings have become much more intense.  I feel joy and pleasure much more intensely as well as feeling loss and drama more intensely. If I were honest with myself I would admit that I saw this event coming. I saw the red flags and chose to ignore them. Obviously this was a lesson that was necessary for my spiritual growth (as are all of my experiences).  Everything is important in this experience. I am sure there are many more revelations to come. I do feel calmer, centered and grounded than before the experience, perhaps that was the purpose of the whole drama.

            I am reminded that one of the milestones of enlightenment is being able to be happy in my unhappiness.  Whenever we feel unhappy, or ask a question, that is our ego. Whenever we feel happy, that is our heart. When we can let go of our thoughts, to remember that we are not our thoughts, we can be still and feel the happiness. Everyone plays a role in this drama we call life. I am going to play my role, the role of happiness. 

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

OVER THINKING

          Many of us are affected by a terrible affliction, a disease that causes suffering and misery in billions of people. The most amazing symptom of this disease is that most people don’t even know that they have it. Other symptoms include headaches, stress, restlessness, heartburn, ulcers and other digestive issues, loss of sleep, shortness of breath, memory loss, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and absent-mindedness.  It is a condition loosely described as “obsessive thinking.” This is not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, although I believe the two are linked.

          As I trudge the path of happy destiny, I oftentimes notice my mind churning endlessly about minutiae, known as “pole-vaulting over mouse turds.” Endlessly asking “what if,” my mind reviews and replays every event in my life to squeeze every possible nuance and possibility out of each memory, no matter how insignificant or overwhelming it might be.  I analyze everything into an exhaustive state, as if chewing on each memory will change it or make me happier. As I engage in this totally useless activity, I beat myself up second guessing my past actions or thought processes.

          As if constantly dissecting my memories were not enough, I also fantasize about how various scenarios will play out depending on what I say or do. I obsessively fantasize about how things can go wrong and what I can do to prevent it. This is taking worrying to a whole new level.   I also describe it as “worst case scenario thinking.”

          Thousands of years ago our ancestors’ biggest concerns were which end of the food chain they found themselves. It made a life or death difference whether people could perceive and analyze warning signs such as dinosaur poop or raptor tracks. Being ready to instantly react to signs of danger were defense mechanisms that helped prolong life. The problem is that the dangers of being eaten no longer exist, but the defense mechanism continues to run and has evolved into obsessive analysis of what is being perceived around us.

          When we engage in “worst case scenario” thinking, we perceive everything as a potential threat and continually analyze this data in order to hopefully overcome these perceived threats. We project an infinite number of possibilities and permutations into the distant future, worrying about how life will turn out or avoiding possible pitfalls. Our brains act like computers who are continuously running on a “loop” with no possible conclusion to the program that is running. When we over analyze and think too much, we cut ourselves off from two of our most powerful survival tools, instinct and intuition.

          To make matters worse, when we engage in these thinking patterns, oftentimes we get so wrapped up with what is happening in our minds that we forget to breathe. Some people actually stop breathing for long periods of time as their analytical brains take over. When this happens, oxygen ceases to flow to our frontal lobes and we fall into crisis mode known as “monkey brain.”  At that point we only have two choices, to run away or fight. Neither choice is needed in today’s world, although it was quite handy when we found ourselves face to face with a saber-toothed tiger.

          Analytical thinking is useful when planning a war or programming a computer. It sucks when it comes to dealing with relationships and our personal issues. The more we think about our past, and analyzing our actions, etc., the more we suffer. The more we engage in “worst case scenario” thinking, the more we suffer. The more that we wish things were different, the more we suffer. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we suffer. The more we second-guess ourselves, the more we suffer. The more we beat ourselves up, the more we suffer.

          The more we suffer, the more stress we create in our lives that in turn creates the medical problems listed above. We are literally “thinking ourselves to death.” So what do we do? How do we think less and feel more? There are some very simple exercises to heal this disease. First, detach from your thoughts. The mantra is “I am not my thoughts.” A good meditation is to sit in front of an empty chair, and imagine yourself in that chair looking back at you. The more you can visualize yourself sitting in that empty chair looking at you, the easier it will be to detach to your thinking.

          Second, get some exercise. It is impossible to engage in analytical thinking while you are gasping for breath. The endorphins that are released in your brain as a result of exercise are powerful chemicals that create a euphoric feeling and slow down obsessive thinking.

          Third, eat healthy foods. When your body is happy, you do not need to engage in survival thinking and your mind will slow down. I notice that eating unprocessed foods (raw) makes me feel much better about myself and slows down my thinking. When I am on the road eating truck stop food, my mind goes berserk.

          Fourth, focus on your breathing. Breathe long and slow breaths at all times. Yogi masters tell us that we are given a finite number of breaths in our lives. When we breathe long and slow breaths, we live longer happier lives.  Fifth, drink more water. Dehydration causes the mind to go into crisis mode. Sixth, practice gratitude and forgiveness of yourself. You do not have to forgive anyone else, only yourself. Be grateful for your life and the people in it.

           I notice that my life is much different when I stop over thinking. Events that used to create great melodrama in my life now are simply stepping stones and building blocks to more and more happiness. I am healthier, weigh less, and smile more. People like to be around me and even invite me to visit. They are glad to see me and invite me back. They even laugh at my jokes.

          The amazing thing is that whatever is going through my mind creates my reality. As I reduce the number of negative thoughts running through my mind, my life becomes more and more positive. Rather than fretting over whether the glass is half empty or half full, I drink the water and fill up the glass again. This is true abundance.

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

FINDING A TEACHER

           Many people wish to be enlightened or find happiness in life. There are thousands of self-help books, thousands of self-help workshops and even more philosophies and teachings promising to make people happy or enlightened. It is possible to become enlightened and happy by studying all of these resources. It is far easier to become happy and enlightened with a teacher.

            A spiritual teacher is a person (living or dead) who guides us through the “mindfields” of life. By passing on truth and wisdom, spiritual teachers can help people see where they are, point out where they are stuck and give guidance on how to live a worthy and value filled life. Teachers can do this by showing us how to be or by showing us how not to be. Everyone that we encounter in life is a teacher on some level. Choosing to study life with a teacher is a meritorious endeavor that can greatly speed our journey to happiness and enlightenment.

            Choosing a spiritual teacher can be a challenge. Ideally, a teacher would embody those qualities that we wish for ourselves.  While there are no “bad” teachers, there are teachers who have the qualities of honesty, integrity, character, joy and charity that we seek.  We should beware teachers who are only seeking material wealth without sharing their abundance with those with greater needs.

            It is best to choose a teacher and to focus on that teacher. Spiritual “grazing” will not help us find enlightenment or happiness. Many people go from teacher to teacher seeking spiritual “highs” with each new teacher and avoiding any real progress through application of the teacher’s teachings. Dig deeply and find water, dive deeply and find pearls. If you find that you no longer resonate with a teacher, simply leave without criticism or animosity.

            I have had many teachers … parents, brothers, ex-wives and gurus. Some of my teachers were kinder than others. Some were more advanced than others. Some challenged me and others flattered me. Teachers oftentimes reflect where and who we are at the time the teacher comes forward.

            Your teacher should be a role model for you. Sharing knowledge and information is important, but the most value of a teacher is the example that they set for their students. Teachers who challenge their students oftentimes are surrounded by controversy. Seek the truth and make up your own mind whether a teacher is appropriate. Do not be afraid of controversy, and separate fact from fiction.

            Teachers are guides who lead us through the quicksand and treacherous situations in life. They can see further ahead than we can, and have experiences that can help us experience ours. They light our way and shine brightly for us to follow.

            Sometimes, our destiny is to meet with someone that will turn our life upside down and destroy beliefs we have about integrity or honesty. For whatever reason, I just experienced a long relationship with someone that turned out to be less than what he professed to be and his character led much to be desired. This is why it is very difficult to recognize someone who can lead you to higher consciousness by guidance versus someone that is just trying to take advantage of you.

            There are a couple of red flags that you should be aware of when you are searching for a teacher who can help you. You should do your research and be very wary of those who are accused of sexual abuse or other abuse of followers. There is an old tradition from India where teachers are treated like Gods, and they are allowed to be as destructive as they want. You need to steer clear of any teacher that is abusive. There is no reason for this and it is very dangerous.

            Second, you should be very careful with teachers who want control of your life, finances and family. If they recommend an investment they are involved in, RUN AWAY. Any teacher who puts financial reward over their client’s well being should be avoided at all costs.

            Third, watch out for charlatans and snake oil salesmen. Social media and marketing can make anyone look divine. In fact, many times I have seen marketing that was years old, and the teacher had not accomplished anything in years. However, the marketing made the “miracles” look fresh and recent. Again, do your research.

            If a teacher gives you any cause for concern, you should follow your own guidance and not disempower yourself to anyone. If you have a gut feeling that a person seems too good to be true, they probably are. If you have heard rumors about someone that questions their integrity, you should research and investigate.

            Furthermore, if the teacher places you in a dangerous physical situation, RUN AWAY. Walking on coals or sweat lodges have caused serious medical injuries to clients/followers. That is not the way to expand your consciousness. It fact, if seriously injured you can cause great trauma. Please do not participate in these types of activities.

            Finally, the path that you want to go on is between your heart and your head. That does not have to be expensive or dangerous. Find someone who has proven results and doesn’t put people in dangerous circumstances. Good luck on your quest!

           

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

MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS TO MASTER YOUR LIFE

          Many people want to know the secret of life. The answer lies in mastering your emotions. How you experience life, both in the workplace and at home, depends on this. Consciously deciding how you feel will determine the quality of your life. Whenever people talk about mastery or taking control of their lives, one aspect of that process is to control emotions. This does not mean ignoring or suppressing emotions, it means controlling how we feel about our life from moment to moment. Emotions are states of feeling caused by our mind to deal with events that are happening in our life. How we respond to daily events, whether they are catastrophic or mundane, determines whether we are happy masters of our lives or suffering victims.

          Emotions are based upon our core beliefs, or how we view the world and ourselves on the most basic level. For example, if we believe we are defective in some way, we will probably react to stimuli with fear or anger. If we believe that we are unlovable, we will probably experience sadness and rejection. If we believe everything  happens for a reason, we will probably experience peace.

          The most basic negative emotions, fear, anger, envy, shame and grief, are generated in the reptilian brain—the most primitive part, or the fight or flight center. Higher, more positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude and peace are generated in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and creative thoughts, with hundreds of secondary and tertiary emotions that arise from these basic emotions.

          Many people believe that we are victims of our emotions, unable to control how we feel.  Not true. We can control how we feel and what we feel in any given moment. We can determine how we feel by being better aware of our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, and how they are interconnected and interact. Researchers have discovered hundreds of identifiable emotions on a spectrum, determined by the vibration or frequency of the emotion, or “how they make us feel”. At the top is enlightenment and the bottom is shame. A sample of this spectrum is:

  • Enlightenment (Ultimate consciousness)
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Reason
  • Acceptance
  • Willingness
  • Neutrality
  • Courage
  • Pride
  • Anger
  • Desire
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Apathy
  • Guilt
  • Shame

          We can go up and down this spectrum consciously with our thoughts. What we think determines how we feel. This is because the mind determines how to react to the thoughts and beliefs running around in our conscious and subconscious minds. The mind has learned that by creating emotions, its chances of surviving perceived threat is much greater. Thus fear motivates us to fight or flee in the face of threat. When the mind is experiencing bliss, it becomes focused on other aspects of life and is not subject to false perception of danger. So if we use thoughts comparing ourselves to others, wishing things were different, blaming others, we will go down the spectrum. If we think thoughts of gratitude, love, acceptance and kindness, we go up, and feel a higher emotions’ correlating vibration.

          Remember that we are not our beliefs, thoughts or even emotions. They are all products of our mind, and can be controlled with discipline and practice. As long as we don’t attach to our beliefs, thoughts and emotions, these products of our mind can be quite entertaining. If we attach to them, life can become quite difficult.

          So when you’re working, relating to others, exercising or walking down the street, be aware of the thoughts going through your mind, because that will determine how you feel. We can change our thoughts much easier than we can change our emotions. By focusing on positive aspects of our circumstances, we will experience more positive emotions. When we concentrate on what we are grateful for, we will feel more grateful. If we concentrate on how we can help someone, rather than what we are getting out of a situation, we will feel more worthy and valuable. How will you choose to feel?

          Other techniques that have proved helpful in raising our vibration and thus, emotional state include:

o   Breathing techniques

o   EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)

o   EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitivation & Reprocessing)

o   The Havening Techniques

o   Meditation

o   Contemplation

o   Mantras

o   Compassion

o   Professional psychological therapy

o   Alternative healing (to heal wounded inner child)

o   Be empowered (stop disempowering yourself)

o   Be present (stop living in the past or future)

o   NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – Pattern interrupts/anchors

o   Exercise

o   Yoga

o   Laughter

o   Help someone else/service

You can learn more about mastery, these techniques and much more with me on Get Real Radio.  Tune in live on Fridays at 11 am PST / 2pm EST / 6pm GMT. Visit the archives here.