A few weeks back I had, what turned out to be a very inspirational 2-hour lunch with my very good friend and ex-colleague. We met with the intention of catching up and talking about my new career goals, but what I got from it was something more profound and unexpected. I’ve always seen this friend of mine as successful, so naturally I respected every word she said. When we think so highly of someone’s ideas, sometimes we tend to think that everyone else feels the same way. I forgot how it all came together, but we were talking about how in search for our “higher self” it’s common to meet people that just “don’t get it” (or simply, people who don’t see things the way we do, don’t believe what we believe, or don’t think the way we think). She casually mentioned how her husband, for example, wouldn’t have a clue what we were talking about because his brain “just doesn’t work that way” and that was fine. I was surprised because I had just assumed that because they seemed like such a tight loving family that she and her hubby agreed on everything. Nope!
It got me thinking… Often, when we set ourselves on a mission to better ourselves, or reconnect with our higher selves, we run into people that get excited about what we are doing and saying. We connect with them. They’re just like us! So we like them! We get so “high” on this new found “self” because we are surrounded by people that reinforce our beliefs. In a sense, we’ve got our heads in the sky, and that is a very fun place to be! So we keep following this path, because who wants to be around people that “just don’t get it”? But in this process… we forget where we came from. We bump into someone who doesn’t agree with us, or who has a different view on life and almost like a protective mechanism, we clam up and divide ourselves between “them” and “us” and this division destroys the very core of what we are – human beings.
I recently almost fell into a blind state in which I was very happy with nearly every aspect of my relationship with my significant other…except that we didn’t share the same amount of passion for this “spirituality” and I noticed instead of me growing into a better person and better partner, I was allowing that difference to come between myself and one seriously amazing man- who, coincidentally, is far more “grounded” than I am. That was when it hit me… WTF am I doing? What is this damned spirituality doing to me and my connection to other humans? And how the heck can I keep grounded in both “worlds”?
After 33 years of life, I think I’ve come to accept that there are nearly as many different beliefs about life as there are people in this world. If there are 7 billion people on this Earth, then that is a LOT of differences. That means that given I have this pretty amazing man, maybe our differences are not only normal but a blessing… Common sense, right? But in a heated debate, who actually remembers that it’s ok to be different? I know I have failed at that and was ready to call it quits because for a second I was stupid enough to believe that he had to think like me in order for us to be happy… Ouch…
I’m getting side-tracked. Back to what I was trying to say. Anyway…
I’m absolutely moved by the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. One of his most profound quotes, in my opinion was,
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Again, this doesn’t have to ring true for everyone, but it does for me. And IF I choose for this to be true to me, then what am I doing with my life? What am I living for? I spend so much time and energy with my own personal improvement and growth, that I almost neglect that which keeps me grounded to this Earth in which my purpose is. I almost forget that strife became my strength. Loneliness became my appreciation for people and solid sense of Self. Coldness became my appreciation for warmth. All these experiences were like waves rushing in and out of my life. Some of the waves were bigger than others. Some of them were disastrous and humiliating. But all of them served a grand purpose- to make me a better swimmer (or surfer…whatever). And that’s precisely why we gotta stay grounded. That’s why we gotta keep one foot on the ground but one in the sky. Because that “sky” is our faith. It’s faith that is going to get us through, and our being grounded that is going to keep us connected to all those blessings that are so cleverly disguised as “problems”. Everyone copes differently. I do it by meditating.
Some people think meditation is some kind of spiritual state of being in which you check out of Earth and transport to woo-woo lala land and never go back. Some people believe that meditation means that you don’t have any thoughts or feelings, or even that you have to be in some kind of silent state of being for an extended amount of time. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters what anyone thinks it is. If you are doing “meditation” in your own way and it’s working, that’s awesome.
My feeling is, if we are spiritual beings having a human experience, then why try to pretend that none of this “human experience crap” is happening? I was reminded that I am nothing without this physical world. Yup, even that jerk that is out there simply to be a jerk. My mission is not in the sky, not in some spiritual awakened state of being, it is being fully present in what, where, and who I am at this very moment. It is not getting distracted by the waves but finding and maintaining the connection to those around me (even the ones I don’t like), seeing them as part of this mission, part of The Plan.
Last year I read a book, “Everyday Enlightenment” by Dan Millman. He stated, “What good does it do to pray like a saint or meditate like a yogi if we are unchanged when we open our eyes? What good does it do to attend a place of worship on Saturday or Sunday if we lack compassion on Monday?”
Maybe The Plan is really that simple- to see every day as my “place of worship”. To see every person, every moment as a chance to develop myself, to explore myself, to understand myself, to know myself, to LOVE myself. Maybe just learning how to be in that moment- every single moment of my life- is all I need. I don’t need to piss and moan about it. I don’t need to judge it as good or bad. All I need is to remember and have faith that every single moment of every single day of my life is just as it should be.
“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.” -Dan Millman
The problem, is that we get distracted, or bored and we set out on this journey looking for answers, looking for an escape, looking for something better, as if we are missing something, as if our lives are somehow incomplete, when actually what we need is right in front of us.
There’s this great Hindu proverb that explains the three great mysteries in life: Air to a bird, water to a fish, and mankind to a man. Often, we forget who we are, and what we are here for because we get so carried away with other things. We start to define ourselves by what is going on around us.
For example, when I was going through my divorce and custody battle, I saw every day as a war zone. It was fight or be killed. Anything I said was rejected. I began to determine that I would never escape from this madness. I was doomed till death in having to deal with this endless hell.
“Maybe I should just give up…” I thought. “Maybe this isn’t my battle.” I spiraled into a negative place of hopelessness. I felt my soul, my passion for life, my faith in humanity had been ripped from my body. But then I remembered, that this wave is not out to destroy me. This wave (or should I say, massive tsunami) is here for something greater, and as much as I want it to disappear, I need to get back to Me.
Maybe meditation is simply calming down those distracting thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of need, greed, anger, resentment, or boredom, and checking back in with yourself. For me, I don’t meditate to “be inspired” or to “find the answer” but come to a calm state, where there is nothing going on (no judging, no activity) because it is only then that I can really see what is going on and it is only then that it is quite clear what I need to do.
And this is meditation’s purpose- to reset ourselves. To put ourselves back into a level of clarity in which we can see things more clearly. That place in which we see the blessings and opportunities.
If we are to progress as humans we must shift with the changes and all that BS that pops up along the way, unfortunately is our little reminder of how far we have come and how far we have to go.
Going back to Dan Millman’s quote about faith, if everything that happens is for your highest good, then I supposed the situations that keep recurring are not punishments but God’s small way of saying, “try again! You can do it!”
This way of thinking may not work for everyone, and I always say “do what makes sense to you.” But for me, for now, it makes for a truly fulfilling, resourceful, resilient and productive life. After all, life is just a bunch of choices being thrown at us moment by moment, day by day. It’s all a choice. It’s that simple.