Be grateful but strive for more…

A common phrase we’ve all heard is ” just be happy with what you have”. The way I see it and if we take that phrase literally then why should we try to better ourselves or achieve anything in life at all?

While I get what the phrase is pointing to I think a better thing to say is to appreciate what we have but never stop trying to achieve more. My blog for any regular readers is heavily influenced by spirituality as you may have noticed. When I was first delving into spirituality I was learning and practicing the art of being happy with what I have which did wonders for acknowledging and appreciating the blessing I did and do have.

Something came to my mind though, if I was to take this to an extreme, if I was to give up all my possessions and live in a cave as the stereotypical story of a spiritual seeker goes could I still be happy? Or would doing that even be necessary or make any sense?

Reading the story of the Buddha (and I’m really skimming through it ) we come to see that he was originally a Prince, he had it all, all the sensual pleasures at his fingertips yet he wasn’t happy with what he had realising it would all be taken away as he gets sick, gets old and dies which is why he became a spiritual seeker. He then went about denying himself, starving himself, torturing himself, thinking that an ascetic life was the answer to inner peace and enlightenment, he went about doing the complete opposite to how he was living previously. He again realised this did not bring him happiness either.

He eventually realised the ” middle way” was the path to happiness and inner peace. Overindulgence won’t make us happy and too much hardship won’t either. Like many of my posts I take a massive detour to get to my point. The point I’m getting to though is that the point of this life, to quote Marcus Aurelius isn’t to ” huddle up under the blankets and keep warm” that is to say we are not here to have an easy life all the time, doing so makes us ungrateful, lazy, unappreciative and kills us quicker mentally and physically as we are designed and built to struggle, overcome adversity and achieve.

This must all happen in a balanced way though, as the Buddha found, everything must be in moderation. There are so many worldly people thinking achievement and success will make them happy and are miserable until they achieve it. On the other hand there are many spiritual practitioners that want nothing to do with the world and are convinced that getting rid of all external possessions and interactions is the true path to happiness. The worldly persons denies their spiritual side and the spiritual person denies their humanity. Doing one or the other leads to suffering as we are human yet we are divine simultaneously, leaning to one side too heavily is not living in moderation.

In my opinion and it’s just my opinion and what has worked for me is the middle way. Everyday I’m grateful for what I have but am not attached to what I have, if it stays that’s good, if it goes I’ll be ok too. From that foundation of just appreciating what I have I also have realised we are put on this earth to do something. I work to pay the bills yet find no true passion in my work, some people are lucky enough though to find passion in their work and put all their energy into achieving more in the workplace and that’s perfectly fine.

My passions personally lie in writing, learning, keeping mentally and physically fit and to hopefully become wiser and a better, more useful human everyday. I’m always grateful for what I have and am always at peace with what I have but like I said if I was just to stop learning and achieving then life doesn’t become much fun at all, I see it as such a waste to stop trying to achieve and grow if we are capable of doing so.

I encourage you to do the same, learn to be happy with what you have but don’t make it an excuse to stop striving and achieving. On the flip side don’t make your whole life and self worth about your success and accomplishments. Success and accomplishments are great but they don’t make you who you are.

When we take some time to look inwards through practices like meditation and spiritual philosophy we will come to see we are always perfect and complete as we are at our very core. Once we realise this once we realise in the end everything will be ok, that we don’t live a life but are the essence of life itself we can then see and live life how it should be lived and seen, as a playground.

Our achievements, goals and hardships give us something to do but they don’t add to or subtract from our true essence. Chase dreams and goals but don’t take any of it too seriously as life isn’t meant to be taken too seriously ” it’s just a ride” to quote the late Bill Hicks.

Thanks for reading have a great day guys.

Simon Coleman.

Meditation: actively doing nothing…

We live in a world of appearances. Seeing someone exercising, constantly moving, puffing and sweating we would look at all that activity and probably say ” Wow they are really getting some work done, they are really making changes to their body.

Appearances can be deceiving though, while yes we can look at someone exercising and based on all the action we see assume correctly so that they are making a difference to their body and life, we may look at someone sitting perfectly still, eyes closed and assume they are doing nothing at all.

What is good for the body is to keep it moving, to keep pushing it to its limits. Our minds though are completely different, what is good for our minds is a period of stillness, of doing nothing. While doing nothing sounds like a waste of time in a world where we are constantly on the move, at times less is more and it’s especially the case in regards to our mind and meditation.

Meditation is the act of actively doing nothing. So how to we practice actively doing nothing? It’s quite simple, just sit, just sit and watch. We are so used to watching life go by, so used to getting swept up in our thoughts, feelings and emotions, constantly judging and labelling everything. Meditation is a break from all that mental effort, it’s all about just watching non judgmentally.

So how do we go about this practically? Our body and mind are linked. Sitting still, keeping our body still is important because we want all our awareness on what’s going on mentally not physically. Constant movement of the body steals our attention and distracts us which is why we sit still. While sitting still tends to slow the mind and thoughts, our goal isn’t to stop thinking or get upset if thoughts keep coming, our only goal is to sit and watch ” from a distance” how our minds operate non judgmentally.

A scientist studying the behaviour of a monkey in a lab isn’t going to be judgmental of the behaviour and actions of the monkey, the scientist is just there to observe and take notes. Meditation is exactly the same, we are there just to simply watch how our mind operates.

So what’s the point of all this? The point is to realise once you know how something operates, once you know how a trap operates you are free from it. Watching our thoughts and feelings come and go, seeing them come out of nothing and dissolve back into nothing makes us realise that if we can see the coming and going of every thought and feeling that none of these that we put so much time and energy into is worth worrying about or identifying with.

Clouds pass by in the sky, the clouds could be light and breezy or dark and filled with rain, lightening flashes, thunder booms, all these things happen in the sky but not to the sky. The sky is much greater and holds all these things within it yet it doesn’t identify or is affected by any of it.

Through constant meditation you will come to see that every thought, feeling, sensation and perception that we all experience and identify with ultimately has nothing to do with us or who we are at our core. All the things we experience are just impersonal passing phenomena that we identify with which many times causes us unnecessary suffering.

The act of mediation is about getting in touch and visiting our true self, diving underneath all the thoughts and feelings we identify with to arrive at our core which is ultimately, nothing. We are ultimately nothing, timeless and dimensionless, but the nothingness we are is ultimately what allows everything to be. We are nothing which is why we experience everything, it’s the perfect example of the Ying Yang principle in action.

I’ll leave it at that for now, thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Who’s offended? Mindfulness will reveal it..

It happens to all of us, someone says or does something that we deem offensive but have we ever stopped to really ask ” who is offended?” Of course the answer in our minds is so obvious that we feel it doesn’t warrant further investigation, ” Me, I’m offended!”

It’s the most natural and obvious answer but have we ever stopped to ask who I am that is offended? Someone calls us a bad name and we feel bad but us feeling bad is a reaction to something we call ” Me” being hurt or offended.

We may say ” I am my body” but does our body feel hurt when someone says something offensive? Does our nose, arm, ear or leg etc get upset? Of course not, how could they, how could any part of our body get upset by words?

We may say ” that’s true but my body has uncomfortable feelings when I’m offended” We need to remember that the uncomfortable feelings our body goes through isn’t because our body is offended but a reaction to something we call ” Me” or “I” being offended.

So if our true essence isn’t our body or mind because if our mind comes from our brain our brain is part of our body, then who or what are we then? The more you investigate this question you will eventually come to realise that who or what we are cannot be found, thought about or conceptualised.

We know we are experiencing a mind a body and a world but anything we experience can’t possibly be what we are because we see the coming and going of all experience. What we are can’t be known and can’t be offended. If what we truly are can’t be offended then why are we offended?

Eventually we come to see that who we think we are is just that, a thought. What we walk around day in, day out trying to improve, trying to protect etc is just an image in our head of words and ideas that we think we are. So what’s really happening when we get offended? Quite simply someone’s words are ” attacking” our thoughts, attacking our image which is just a thought. Our image and view of ourselves can be seen and described in thoughts and words so what we essentially have is words attacking words, thoughts attacking thoughts, thought wars! Lol

When you critically and mindfully see and experience what I’m saying you’ll come to realise how strange all this really is. We go around attacking people’s image and defending our image but it’s all just images in our minds.

What spiritually is essentially trying to reveal to us is that life is like watching a movie but we get so involved in the movie that we forget we are watching it and start believing and identifying with a character in the movie. We always experience the feelings and emotions of the main character in a movie when the movie is good and we are really into it. All that a spiritual teacher is trying to point out is to remember we aren’t the character but the one watching it.

I mentioned the word mindful just earlier and mindfulness is a powerful practice and habit to get into to so we can see this for ourselves. Particularly being mindful of our thoughts, watching our thoughts come and go, watching our feelings come and go, realising that all thoughts and feelings rise out of the emptiness we are and dissolve back into it.

We’ve spent a whole life time believing who we are is a body, mind and image, reading this post won’t break that conditioning but hopefully if you have grasped what I’m saying it’s given you food for thought to actually be mindful and watch what is really happening in our lives as opposed to what we assume is happening.

How to we practice mindfulness? Well meditation goes along way to developing the skill which I’ve wrote about previously and is a whole separate post in itself. For now though the takeaway point of this post is to stop assuming and reacting to life and to the words and actions of others and start observing what truly is happening.

You have, are and always will be much greater than you think, your only job when you are ready is to see and realise it for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

You are the problem..

You are the problem, well more often than you think. One lesson I learnt in my early twenties that has stuck with me and helped me through life is taking responsibility for what happens in my life and to my life.

It’s so easy to blame others for not liking us, taking advantage of us, being mean to us, letting us down etc the list could go on and on but when we externalise blame we not only become a victim but we give all our power away to outside influences.

In philosophies such as Stoicism one practice they constantly remind us to do is only worry about what is in our control and stop worrying about what isn’t. What you’ll find is if you really examine your life that not much is really in your control at all.

We can’t control the actions, words and behaviours of others but we can control, with consistent practice how we deal with these and other outside influences. There are people out there that want to take advantage of us, that’s life, but it’s our fault if we keep letting it happen. There are people out there who don’t find us interesting or don’t want to spend time with us, is it their fault or maybe we should learn to be more interesting or work on our social skills.

We should constantly be striving to learn and grow in every aspect of life. If we are blessed with a healthy body and mind why waste these gifts away? Why not put them to work to become as fit as possible mentally and physically? If we are constantly getting into arguments or angry is it really always the other persons fault or is there something about ourselves we can work on?

I personally take full responsibility for what happens in my life, the success is my doing, the failure is my doing, people upsetting me is my doing, people taking advantage of me is my doing etc. playing the victim and blaming others without taking at least a little bit of the blame is not only lazy but nobody cares, nobody wants to hear our problems because everyone has enough of their own to deal with.

We all want people to love us for who we are but the truth is everyone that is in our life and enjoy being around us is getting something from the interaction and association. Everyone is looking to add value to their life and the people that they have in their life are there because they add value. Knowing this why don’t we keep adding value to ourselves?

Getting in better shape, constantly developing knowledge and wisdom, pursing your passions and hobbies, working on your character to be more trustworthy, reliable, honest etc all adds value to yourself which others will appreciate. This is especially true when dating for instance. Everyone is always searching for the best deal possible in a partner but we can’t expect the best if we don’t become the best ourselves.

In the end the world is how it is and people are how they are, instead of getting upset and not liking the way things are we must accept the way things are and learn to adapt and change ourselves to fit reality not get upset that reality doesn’t conform to our liking.

You are the problem and so am I so let’s all get to work improving ourselves, adding value to ourselves and the lives of others and quit playing the blame game which is only appropriate for small children.

Thanks for reading guys have a great day.

Simon Coleman.

You are nothing…

You are nothing which is why you are everything. One of the most important questions we can and should ask ourselves I feel is who are we? It’s the most important question because our whole lives are built around our sense of self. We go about our day protecting, defending and trying to improve ourselves but who or what are we trying to defend, protect, improve?

The question I’m raising isn’t unique in fact the whole basis of a spiritual practice is trying to answer this question, the more we ask the question and the more we look to answer it we eventually come to realise who or what we are can’t be pinned down.

We believe we are our body but every single cell in our body is replaced at the longest every 7 years…not one cell in our body is the same as it was 7 years ago yet we feel we are the same person. We may believe we are our thoughts and feelings yet we see them coming and going constantly.

We may then feel we are our opinions, beliefs and ideas, we are willing to fight and die over these at times, yet again these come and go and can and do change over time. Are we our memories? Well we are constantly creating new ones so they can’t be us either.

We must be our DNA…well if a scientist could clone our DNA and make an exact replica of us would we feel that clone was us? Of course not we would still feel different. The more we search for ourselves the more we will find we are nothing, we are no- thing in particular and by being no- thing we realise eventually we must be everything at our core.

The only thing that has remained constant our entire lives is that we are conscious that we are alive. All movement is in relation to something that is still, we witness time pass because we are timeless, our bodies are ageing around us in a sense yet the consciousness that we truly are, isn’t.

” If I am everything why do I feel separate?” The illusion of separation is necessary to experience life. Dreaming is the perfect example, when we dream at night the world we call ” waking reality” disappears and we enter a dream world, we enter into our own minds, every bit of scenery, every other person or animal we view, all the good ones all the bad one etc everyone and everything is being created by our own minds. To experience the dream though we must feel separate from every one and thing we come into contact with, it’s the price we pay to experience. When we wake up though we realise it was all in our minds.

Reality is ultimately just dreams within dreams. The dreams we have at night are just miniature versions of what we call the waking state which is just a bigger dream still. The ying yang principle is always in effect, the reason we experience feeling separate is because we are everything, the reason we experience time is because we are timeless, the reason we experience space is because we are dimensionless.

Humans love mystery and the ultimate mystery is that we know we are alive, no one can explain how or why. You are nothing because you are everything. You haven’t been anywhere and aren’t going anywhere you just are.

How does life change when you find out who you are truly? Well nothing changes yet everything does. We still must go to work, we still have needs and desires, we still have our egos which aren’t bad, they are totally natural and if we didn’t have one couldn’t function in society.

Everything pretty much on the outside stays the same but internally a shift happens, we come to realise not to take things so seriously, we become more understanding of others and we realise ultimately everything in life is how it should be at all times.

The body we once identified with must and will run its course but we know deep down that it’s not what we truly are, that death is not to be feared because it’s just the place we were at before we were born which is no place at all, there is no other place than here and now and it’s where you have, are and always will be.

You are nothing because you are everything.

Thanks for reading everyone have a great day.

Simon Coleman.

You are not good enough and never will be..

You are not good enough and never will be.

The statement sounds really negative but it’s true. It’s true yet it’s a good thing. We are always striving to become better in one way or another, no matter how much we succeed or achieve we always feel we could do more, be in a little better shape, make a bit more extra money, work on our character flaws or insecurities etc.

We are never perfect and never will be which is what makes life so enjoyable, it gives us something to do in this life. I always liken my life to a movie, the best movies have drama, adversity, struggles, failures and success. A movie or a life where everything is perfect, nothing ever goes wrong etc would become boring very quickly.

Our flaws and not feeling good enough is what makes us human and is what makes other people relate to us and connect with us. When we are ” rough around the edges” it gives other people something to grab onto so we can relate and connect, if we were perfect, smooth and flawless nothing can be clung onto, we’d be perfect but out of touch.

Think about your close friends or family members that you love, you probably know an insecure one, a constantly grumpy one, one that is a know it all but knows nothing really etc, the list goes on…but for all their faults and flaws to we hate them? Of course not, their flaws and habits are what give them their unique character and it’s the same with us, the flaws we try to improve make us who we are and our loved ones love us regardless.

There is nothing wrong with self improvement, I’m a big believer in constant improvement in every aspect of life but we must remember that we will never be good enough and that’s perfectly ok. If we delve down the spiritual path we will realise our true self, the self of all things is always totally perfect and flawless, it’s our ego self they never feels good enough and wants to constantly improve and their is nothing wrong with that.

When you venture down the spiritual path you will eventually come to realise that we are flawed because we are ultimately flawless, we are imperfect because we are ultimately perfect. All of life is ultimately a paradox that our minds can’t comprehend, all of life operates under the ying yang principle, all we have, had and will ever have is just this moment, so we should embrace whatever arises in it, all the perfection, imperfection, goodness and bad is always exactly as it should be.

You will never be perfect but that doesn’t mean to stop trying to be.

Thanks for reading have a great day guys.

Simon Coleman

Winners and Learners…

We naturally may think there are winners and losers in life, that you are either winning or losing but with a slightly different mindset we can come to see that there is only winning and learning and when you are learning you are still winning.

I common phrase I like to live by is that we are either getting what we want or we are getting a lesson, either way we keep moving forward. We feel our education finishes at school but that only teaches us book smarts, it only teaches us theory. The real education I’ve come to realise happens in the day to day grind we call our life.

We all dislike uncomfortable feelings or situations and usually try to avoid them at all costs but constant avoidance teaches us how to get really good at avoidance, how to get good and getting distracted or putting things off we need to get done.

We are only truly ” losing” when we are avoiding. Trying and failing isn’t losing, if you lose for long enough or practice something long enough you will no doubt become better. One thing they teach in self defence training is that your natural instinct is to move away from danger, if someone is swinging a bat at you for instance we instinctively want to move backwards away from the swinging bat but ironically this gives the attacker more room.

In the bat scenario, the safest option when the time is right is to move in towards the attacker and blocking the attack near the shoulder joint. I use this example as a metaphor for life. We are constantly faced with uncomfortable situations everyday, whether it may be not feeling like studying, exercising, talking to people we don’t like etc, every time we walk into discomfort and fail we haven’t really failed because we were brave enough to face our discomfort or fear and in time it will help us master the things we are scared or anxious about.

Winning teaches us nothing if anything too much success can make us arrogant and unappreciative. We may feel we are ” winning” if we live in a western country and the people third world countries are ” losing” but they aren’t losing they are learning. Ever notice how hard working immigrants are when they come to a more wealthy country? While we spend our time complaining about no wifi or our latte isn’t hot enough etc they are out there learning to hustle, learning how to make money out of anything and everything and with that strong work ethic they build and learn how not to waste anything, be frugal and when they come to a better county usually make a fortune within 10 years or so.

Winning or having everything all the time especially when we haven’t worked for it makes us soft and lazy. Losing or starting off with nothing teaches us strength, persistence, hard work and eventually success. If tough times create tough people but we are lucky to live in a prosperous country then what should we do?

If our environment doesn’t force us to succeed and become tough like in poorer countries then we must learn to impose standards to make us better people on ourselves. When we have the option of comfort vs discomfort and taking the route of discomfort we know will improve us as a person in some way we should choose that route.

The more we chase discomfort and stepping into what we fear the stronger and more powerful we become. Losing is not trying. Winning is trying even when you don’t want to, the outcome doesn’t matter. We are so focused on the outcome and we think that’s what life is all about that we forget that you can win and still lose, you can win an argument with your partner for instance but the fact you are arguing is a loss already.

We all dream of a perfect life with no problems but how boring would that be? How boring would a movie be with no problems or bad guys, a movie where everything is going right for the main character? We must accept and embrace what we call failure because that’s what teaches us the real, useful lessons in life.

There is no winning and losing, only winning and learning, so I wish you all success but also some failures along the way too because that’s where true self improvement begins.

Thanks for reading guys and have a nice day.

Simon Coleman.