Thursday, April 3, 2014

4/4/14—Doing Nothing All Wrong

I have a terribly deep and thought-provoking idea to share with you, but I'm just too busy tonight to share it. So you're getting a classic post from earlier in the year instead. And, considering the circumstances, it's kind of an ironic classic post, too.... 

I've been thinking a lot lately about why it never seems like any amount of vacation or down time ever seems to be enough. I suppose there could be a lot of reasons for that. I'm burned out. I don't get good quality sleep. I spend much of my time off running around making up for the things I didn't do because I was busy before. 

All of those are good reasons, but I've discovered another one recently. And it's that the time that does get spent as downtime is time I feel guilty about. Guilty, because there's always something else I could be doing. There's always something left on my to-do list. And so when I truly do nothing, my head is filled with thoughts of how much more productive I *could* be. I just don't let myself savor it. Does this sound familiar to you?

Don't get me wrong. I have plenty of down time. More than most people because I don't commute to a job and don't necessarily work a full day every day. But little of it is quality time. Either I'm multi-tasking, such as watching TV and picking stuff up around the house. Or I'm laying here comatose, unwilling to do anything else and beating myself up about it because of all the stuff I COULD be doing but am not. The only time I ever seem to be in the moment and relaxed and enjoying my downtime is when I sit outside and meditate at night. And even then my mind wanders sometimes. 

So there are two things going goofy here. One is feeling guilty about doing nothing. And the other is is overstimulation/multitasking/worries that take me out of the moment, effectively voiding the effects of downtime. 

Too often I think we think of rest and relaxation the same way we do dessert...if and when you have it, you have it after everything else is eaten. And sometimes you don't eat it. It's an indulgence. A treat. 

When did this become OK? Why did I let it be OK? And was it ever any different? 

Truth is, I'm pretty sure we weren't sent down here to work all the time. And what logic does it make that downtime and relaxation...recharging....would be a last resort—something to do only when everything else is done? How come rest and enjoyment never even makes it to the To Do list, much less rises to the top of it? Why doesn't life work the other way around, meaning that when we're busying ourselves with work and errands and little tasks we're not feeling guilty about not relaxing more? If not now, when do we become fully present and aware in the time that's the fruit of all our toil?

I like feeling busy and accomplished a lot as much as the next guy. And it would be wonderful to have absolutely nothing left on that To Do list. But I'm not sure that will ever happen. So if I have to "earn my way" to relaxation by doing it only after everything else is done, I'll never have fun! And I'd like to feel just as accomplished and productive from doing nothing as I am from doing lots of crap. After all, downtime recharges us, it reduces stress (which improves health), it allows us to pursue our diverse interests and it makes life more worthwhile. Shouldn't that be a star on the To Do list, along with "make money" and "clean house"?

Maybe I'm alone in this. But I don't think I'm alone at not being fully present and in the moment in life. That alone—whether being present in work or play—makes us more vital. So what's your story? Do you enjoy guilt-free, fully present down time? Or are you doing it all wrong just like me? At 50 I'm thinking more and more about what all of this is for and I'm pretty sure it's not to live from one busy weekend to the next. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

4/2/14—Discussing Karma

Today's blog post is actually a radio show I participate in on Blog Talk Radio with two of my friends. Both are  spiritual teachers and long-time friends of mine. We're doing this once a month and this is our second one. It's mostly about karma and rules and laws and what is "right" and "wrong" according to society. It was a very interesting talk and went off on some interesting spiritual tangents.

Take a listen!

You can hear it at

Sunday, March 30, 2014

3/31/14—Exploring Your Inner Fear

Consider for a moment that there are only two things human behavior is made up of—love and fear. And every choice you make is either one or other. If you're not choosing to love, you're choosing fear. And if you're not choosing fear, you're choosing to love. 

Why love and fear? Because love is love. And fear is the absence of love. Love is a divine trust that everything is beautiful and perfect as it is. Fear is an absence of trust that everything is beautiful and perfect as it is. 

Of course there's a spectrum...a little fear and a lot of fear. But whenever you're not
choosing love, you're choosing fear.

That person you hate? It's not really hate. It's fear that what you dislike in that person is also within you...fear of what you'll do with that realization...fear that you are not yet who you wish to be...fear that you are not who you represent yourself to be. 

We all contain the capacity for the full spectrum of dark and light within us. Whenever we see a behavior in a person that we don't like, we say "that is separate from me." But there is nothing in god's universe separate from you. There may be behaviors you don't exhibit or places you don't go, but the capacity is within you. And denying that what you hate in others is not within you fractures you, holds you captive, keeps you separate from god and keeps you from loving and embracing yourself. And the more you deny being that which you hate, the more loudly you become that which you hate. That is the power of fear. 

If you can't see those dark parts that are mirrored back at you from your "enemy" with true understanding and if you can't look upon people you judge with the genuine grace of "there but for the grace of God go I", then you're not just in denial, you're choosing fear. And when you're choosing fear, you're choosing to distrust that everything is perfect as it is, you're choosing to distrust god's plan, you're choosing not to love, and as a result, you're choosing to live in the darkness within you and not in the light. When you live in the darkness within you, you're just a shade or two or three from the unspeakable atrocities you witness on this earth. 

The Westboro Baptist Church? Just a darker shade of fear than the shade you choose when you hate and separate. The KKK? Just a darker shade of fear. Hitler? Just a darker shade of fear. All, by the way, have some love mixed in and you should be able to see that, too. But all began as all babies do, with pure love. I always make allowances for those with the kind of genetic anomalies that cause mental illness. We all have genetic anomalies, though. Ours just resulted in funky ear lobes or a tendency to heart disease instead of mental illness (there but for the grace of god...) But fear is something we learn, not something we're born with. And when we turn toward fear instead of love, we run the risk of traversing into ever deeper shades. 

Beneath most negative emotions is fear. Behind happiness, joy, trust, acceptance and peace is love. Every choice you make that does not embrace the beauty of what "is", is a choice of fear. The traffic jam that makes you feel impatient. The person whose lifestyle you envy. The homeless person you judge. The weather conditions that "ruin" your picnic. Or the obstacle that vexes you. All of that is fear. All of that breeds separation. All of that exhibits a distrust in the your god. 

So as you walk through your week, consider the choices you're making. And when negative emotions well up, trace them back to the fear within and consider what a loving choice would be instead. And if you're reading this on Facebook, consider clicking through to my blog where you'll find more thought-provoking quotes on the topic of love vs. fear. :)