What The World Really Needs Now

It saddens me deeply to see what is going on in the world today. What happened just today in Barcelona is such a sad tragedy. Las Ramblas district in Barcelona is such an old, gothic, literary, multi-cultural and cool part of the world. I had some of the best times of my life in Las Ramblas district. There is so much life, beauty, art, personality and inspiration there. It makes me so sad to see what has happened today in this part of the world.

Much of the time I just don’t fully understand all this senseless violence that is going on. I understand that it is a manifestation of hate, acts of war. I understand that many radicalized people are at war with people, values and countries whom they find fault with. But what I don’t understand is how people could be so deeply identified with certain thoughts, beliefs and emotions that they are willing to kill, injure and traumatize so many people. This kind of obsessive and profound identification with the ego just escapes my ability to comprehend.

I understand that we all have things that outrage us, upset us. I understand that many of us can feel hateful and resentful. But to hurt other people? To run people over with a van, bus or car? Are you kidding me? This is pure madness as far as I am concerned. The fact that someone can get this caught up in their own thoughts and emotions, is one of the real tragedies as far as I am concerned.

All thoughts and emotions are like clouds drifting across the sky. No matter how important we think our beliefs, grievances and problems are- it will all be dust soon enough. A hundred years ago people were equally as caught up in all of their problems and where are they now? Where are all their problems now? Too get so caught up in what we think, believe and feel is such a mistake in logic that the consequences, as we are seeing, can be so tragic.

Logically we know that we are all here on earth for a limited time. Logically we know that the things we stress out over, when placed in a larger context, are really not that big of a deal. Logically we know that thoughts, emotions and beliefs are not really worth getting so stressed out over. It is only when we are being illogical that we get caught up in the smaller picture. We lose perspective and forget that we are all mortal and these things really do not matter as much as we think that they do. Unfortunately, so many people are stuck in illogical ways of being right now.

When we are able to just become present, to relax that tight grip on our identification with all of our thoughts, emotions and beliefs, what we notice is that some semblance of logic begins to return. We get more clarity. We become aware of the bigger picture and as a result our thoughts and emotions and beliefs and problems don’t feel like as big of a deal. Unfortunately, so much of the harm and tragedy being committed in today’s world is a result of people who are lost in an illogical state. They become so illogical that the illogic feels logical, normal. But it is not normal. The consequences of being lost in illogical states of mind sometimes manifests in the form of a willingness to run innocent people over, hurting others. This is not sane.

What the world needs now is more logic. Please, you may feel like there is nothing to be done about the events unfolding in the world today. You may feel fearful and/or helpless. But one thing you can do is not perpetuate illogical ways of being in your own family, relationships, community. If you are someone who is taking all of your problems and emotions and thoughts very seriously see if you can stop doing it. You are not in a logical state. See if you can just return your attention to the present moment and return to a more logical state. A state with some semblance of peace, non-reactivity, perspective and calm. You may think this is no big deal but I assure you- the last thing the world needs now is more people caught in the grip of their egos running around.

I once had a teacher who told me that it was so important that I remain peaceful and loving even though at the time I was teaching high school in the inner city and living in a city I felt was so full of violence and anger. She told me that if even one person could practice being loving and calm in the middle of what was a city filled with anger, busyness, violence and egotism, that this person could have a powerful opposite effect in various ways. This is often called The Butterfly Effect.

So, if possible, please stop attaching so strongly to everything you think, feel and believe. Loosen the grip a bit. Settle more into a place of calm and ease. Relax. Let some degree of logic return. I could be wrong but I feel that this is what the world needs right now, more than anything else.

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The Real Power Of Right Now

The truth of the matter is that we do not ever really permanently overcome anything. To overcome is a verb, which means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty again and again and again and again. To overcome something is a lifetime practice.

As some of you have realized by now, to be human means to be confronted with continually arising problems and difficulties. As soon as we have been successful in dealing with one problem or difficulty- WHAM! a new one is there to take its place.

This is why it is best to think of success as a process rather than being a noun or something permanent that we attain. Success is as fleeting and impermanent as everything else. One moment we may feel its benefits but the next moment we are aware of its absence.

This is why I believe that our real life’s work is in learning how to effectively manage, handle, deal with, carry and regulate the suffering that comes along with being human. Depression and anxiety are very palpable experiences that cause a person to feel like they are being consumed by their fear, worry, darkness or anger.

These uncomfortable emotions feel like they are taking us over and we feel like there is little we can do to defend ourselves against them. But there is a lot we can do. This is one thing that I know for certain (and there are not many things that I can express with this kind of certainty)- we can empower ourselves to feel better, to feel more in control despite the suffering we feel.

Without question, my real life’s work has been to learn how to be able to effectively manage or handle my fear, anger, sadness, worry and despair when it arises. Through practicing mindfulness techniques I find my self stuck less and less in negative and unpleasant emotional states.

It is not that I do not feel anger, depression, anxiety, pain or sadness anymore. I experience these states in some form almost everyday (if even for just five seconds) but again and again I am successful at keeping myself present and just carrying the discomfort until it passes. This causes the negative emotional states to not feel so strong when I encounter them and to pass away fairly quickly once I become aware of them and let them run their course.

It is through learning how to effectively manage my more unpleasant emotions and thoughts that I am able to find more and more equanimity, contentment, freedom and peace in my own life. This is what I mean by transforming suffering.

In one of my notebooks from a workshop that I took with Jack Kornfield I made a note of several things he said. One of those notes that I put a star besides says: “As we practice the art of mindful living, a spaciousness will open up for us around our feelings, thoughts and perceptions and we will be less likely to be reactive to the unpleasant situations in our lives.”

In the seminar this Saturday I will be helping individuals learn and integrate several mindfulness techniques that I learned from Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn and several other mindfulness teachers. These techniques (or practices) empower us to feel like right NOW, in this very moment, we possess tools that we can use to create a much less stressful experience for ourselves and those whom we are closest to.

And after all it is important to remember what Carl Jung said about practice, “A person who gets past the age of thirty and does not have some kind of daily practice to keep themselves grounded in sanity will most certainly lose their minds over and over again.”