The Seeker of Peace


Provoking the Inner Child
June 25, 2009, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Suffering | Tags: , , , , ,

I have heard many times of the “Inner Child,” the idea that our childlike aspects live on within our psyche. We can think of the Inner Child as an independent entity, one who needs our explicit attention and support to meet his needs.

I’ve done various exercises in the past to connect to my Inner Child. Self-hypnosis, visualizing my inner child, trying to have a dialog with him, and similar techniques all came to nothing. Sure, I could daydream about my Inner Child as well as I could any other topic, but it never affected me more than any other daydream. I concluded that either the Inner Child idea was psychobabble, or that mine was healthy and needed no help.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago: I recently joined Facebook, and was reconnecting with several old friends. Out of the blue, in a public discussion, someone I haven’t spoken to in decades says, “Hey, weren’t you the one who…” and proceeded to relate an embarrassing incident from my high school days.

It was an incident that I hadn’t thought of in years. Mental association quickly provided several other emotionally punishing moments I had repressed. Before long, I could actually feel a teenage version of my Inner Child crying inside me, begging for comforting and reassurance. Apparently, I had repressed him along with the memories, and done it so successfully that even deliberate exercises couldn’t break through the walls. It took the emotional sucker punch of a jerk to bring the feelings to the surface.

After giving an internal hug to my Inner Child, I found a wellspring of material to release using the Sedona Method. I realized that these incidents still had the same emotional charge that they did in high school; repressing them and my Inner Child had prevented any progress. With releasing, I could quickly realize how pointless it was to carry around this emotion from long ago. How many people, aside from me and the one person who brought it up, even care about any of this ancient history?

So, in a way, I suppose this old acquaintance did me a favor. Lester Levenson would probably even say that I manifested this now for a reason. I still have a lot of releasing to do on old pains, but I do think that I’ll be better for it.

Advertisements


Yearning for Kyoto
May 1, 2009, 8:38 am
Filed under: Non-duality, spirituality, Suffering, World | Tags: , , , ,

Even in Kyoto,
I yearn for Kyoto
– Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

I found this poem in the prelude of Mary Pipher’s recent book, “Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.” See uses it to illustrate the point that, “Embedded in the concept ‘seeker’ is the less flattering word ‘dissatisfied.'” Matsuo-san’s poem resonated with me deeply, and in a very literal sense. You see, even when I was in Kyoto, I did in fact yearn for Kyoto.

The year was 1997, and the trip to Kyoto was an arduous one. It involved a flight from the USA to Tokyo, a connecting flight to Osaka, and then a 45-minute cab ride to Kyoto. That last segment I shared with several coworkers, making the airplane parts of the ride seem roomy by comparison.

This was a period when my Crohn’s Disease was flaring up badly, and as a result, my immune system was not working well. Thus, it as no surprise that, by the time I arrived in Kyoto, I had picked up a nasty cold. This proved to be even more of a problem than I could have expected. I was chairing committee meetings throughout the trip. There was a large population of Europeans and Asians at this meeting, and they politely expected to be recognized by the chair before saying anything. This was true even if two of them were carrying on a debate among themselves. At least I had a microphone, allowing me to quietly croak, “Go ahead,” rather than having to raise my voice to be heard.

During that week, I yearned for the other Kyoto. I wanted to see the Imperial palace. I wanted to eat some Japanese food, rather than the greasy and awful Italian, Chinese, and American fare I received. I wanted to see the town, not be stuck in a windowless conference room.

Yet, mulling over Matsuo-san’s words, I can now see another side to the trip. I [u]was[/u] in Kyoto. I got to marvel at the sophisticated features of the Panasonic toilet seat in my hotel room. I could appreciate the beautiful courtyard garden of the hotel. I laughed at the fact that Japanese hotel rooms, unlike their American counterparts, include a complementary adult diaper should you need one.

Thinking back on it makes for a very valuable cautionary tale. How much more would I have enjoyed the trip had I allowed myself to be in Kyoto instead of yearning in Kyoto? And how often, even now, am I still not present, still yearning for something else?



Dealing with Death
April 5, 2009, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Suffering | Tags: , , , ,

I wrote last week about my fear of death, and how it related to the impending death of my dog. Yesterday, the matter went from theoretical to practical: we had her put to sleep.

As I wrote earlier, I believed that her death would mean that I would lose her. After a fair amount of Sedona Method-style releasing, I realized that I had things completely backwards.

In many ways, the dog I loved was already gone. She had constant pain, was mostly blind and totally deaf, and was constantly confused from senile dementia. She had lost any opportunity to enjoy life. Watching her suffer kept me from fully enjoying the memories of the many good times we’ve had together over the past 16 years.

As the veterinarian gave her the injections, I saw her fully relaxed for the first time in months. Having experienced chronic pain myself, I understand well what it’s like to be in pain even when asleep. How selfish would it have been to keep her alive? And, much of the time, I was trying not to think about how bad her condition was. Now, she can be fully present in my mind.

The most painful thing about letting her die was acknowledging that the pet of the past would never return. However, that was already the case. Now that I’ve accepted that, both of us can stop our suffering.



Taking Responsibility
February 6, 2009, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we were always “demonstrating” (his word for manifesting), and needed to take responsibility for what we were demonstrating.

One of the big shadows in my life has been Crohn’s Disease. It’s not only debilitating, but very painful (to the extent that drugs like Vicodin hardly touch it). I wrote after last Thanksgiving about how I almost deliberately ate poorly to make myself sick. The following week, I realized that, at some level, I wanted to be sick!

That realization brought home how much I used illness as an excuse to dodge responsibility. I faced things head-on, most notably by making the decision to wind down my business. (Being sick was a great excuse not to work.) I tried to remove any motivation for remaining sick. At the same time, I used Sedona Method releasing exercises to release on the goal of being healthy.

This week, I had a wonderful positive development with my health. I stumbled across a reference to a drug that was very safe, and had very few side effects. (Most treatments for Crohn’s have the potential to be as bad as the illness itself.) This drug isn’t even intended for Crohn’s; it’s actually to help people stop smoking. Since there are some reports of it helping others with Crohn’s, my doctor was willing to try it.

It’s only been a few days, but it’s been days with barely any pain or discomfort. This has made it much easier to meditate, do exercised from A Course In Miracles, and otherwise do spiritual exercises. For that matter, it’s made everything easier; it’s much easier to cook dinner when not doubled over from pain!

My guess is that if I were less stuck in a science-based mindset, I could have had this huge improvement without the medication. However, I’m still at the point where I’d be skeptical of improvement with no physical cause. I think that’s why I needed the pills to effect the change. Still, I have to think that the fact I found the pills is due to my preparing myself not to be so sick anymore.

This is my strongest personal experience so far showing that Lester was correct. I really do need to take responsibility for everything in my life, and not use the bad things as an excuse.



Giving and Receiving
December 25, 2008, 7:02 am
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , ,

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling tense and troubled. There hasn’t been any external reason for this. I don’t have any compelling stories of woe to tell. Being happy and peaceful is simply a choice. For some reason, my ego has been choosing to go the other way. Perhaps I’m punishing myself for winding down my business.

During this period, I’ve found releasing using the Sedona Method to be very difficult. It’s been similarly hard to do the workbook exercises from A Course in Miracles. The exercises I’m on now ask me to spend the first five minutes of every hour on them. I’ve had so much mental noise that it’s been hard to concentrate on them for that long.

Fortunately, I seem to be returning to normal. The ACIM lesson I’m doing today, Lesson 108, has been helping. It says, “To give and to receive are one in truth.” In my current mood, it’s much easier to allow myself to give peace and joy to others. Offering them to others causes me to feel them myself.

I’ve often heard the aphorisms that “You can’t love others unless you love yourself,” and “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” However, my recent experience would seem to indicate the opposite: I can’t love myself without loving others, and I can’t have what I don’t give away.

In a way, this is a reassuring thing to learn. When my ego is in the worst throes of self-loathing, it can be much easier for me to offer peace to others. Lester Levenson found freedom by changing all of his feelings to love. From his description, it sounds as if he started with loving others, and then loving himself came naturally. After my recent experience, I can understand much better how that could work.



Happiness as an Obligation
December 17, 2008, 10:02 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, God, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the past few days, I’ve come to an important realization: we have an obligation to be happy.

I credit this insight mostly to A Course In Miracles. I recently did Lesson 100, which states, “My part is essential to God’s plan for salvation.” The lesson goes on to explain that my part is to be happy. I can then spread joy to everyone else. Seen this way, wallowing in misery is a downright selfish choice.

It’s been hard for me to be happy. Between my chronic Crohn’s Disease, the stresses of my job, and the continual drumbeat of terrible national and world news (which I must follow thanks to my job), it’s been much easier to be sad and depressed.

One of my recurring self-destructive ego thoughts has been that I don’t deserve to be happy. A Course In Miracles addresses this very directly. Sin is not real, and anything undeserving I think I’ve done is merely illusion. In fact, the workbook covers this in the context of happiness in Lesson 101. However, knowing that intellectually hasn’t made it much easier.

However, seeing happiness as an obligation changes the equation. Regardless of whether I deserve to be happy, I owe it to everyone else to be happy! It’s not selfish to be happy, it’s the ultimate charitable act.

Much of the earlier Course material made sense on an intellectual level, but I had trouble applying it on an emotional level. I understood that feeling guilt was pointless, but my ego kept piling it on. Now, I have a very rational counter to the ego: even if there were some value in the guilt hurting me, it’s wrong to let my guilt hurt the world.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been using the Sedona Method to work on the goal statement, “I allow myself to be happy.” I’ve tried to do that before, but my ego got in my way. Now, I’m rapidly feeling happier than I have in a long time.

I finally understand that we can simply choose to let ourselves be happy. I had heard this before and not believed it. Now, I see that I simply never allowed myself to make the choice!



Getting What I Want
December 11, 2008, 9:28 am
Filed under: Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we always demonstrating (i.e. manifesting reality). To grow, we must take full responsibility for what we demonstrate. This week, I got a clear example of that.

On Tuesday, I went to an infusion center for some iron to treat my anemia. Normally, I’m in and out within about 90 minutes. This time, for a variety of reasons, I was there for several hours. That gave me a lot of time to think.

Since this was primarily a cancer center, most of the other patients were there for chemotherapy. Many of them were visibly much sicker than I. As I spent time sitting among them, I found myself feeling jealous. Unbidden, I kept having the thought “They’re lucky – they have an excuse not to work.”

As I explored this more, I found myself wanting to get sicker so that I’d have a good excuse to leave my job. At some level, I’m sure I’ve been harboring this desire for some time. And, of late, I’ve been getting what I want. My health has been deteriorating consistently. It’s already very difficult to do my job.

The good news is that this thought instantly became absurd once brought to light. I don’t have to get any sicker to leave my job. That very night, I sent a note to all of my clients informing them that I was wrapping up my business and would help them transition their accounts within the next few months.

As I wrote a month ago, I thought I had reached “hootlessness” about my health goal. But it only took me a day after that to realize how much my health goal and my job situation were closely linked. My experience in the infusion center made it clear that I’d slipped far from hootlessness: I wanted to be ill, and severely so, to let me leave my job while still seeking approval.

So, I understand much better now what Lester meant by responsibility. How could I expect to become healthy, when I really wanted to be sick?

I guess it’s time to go back to doing the Sedona Method‘s advantages and disadvantages technique, to see if there are any other reasons I want to be sick. And maybe, if I let go of wanting approval, control, and security, I can allow myself to have what I want without being sick. It certainly worked for leaving my job.