Following your happiness as a Spiritual practice.

I view the spiritual journey which is ironically a journey back to this moment as a liberating experience. Many people come to spiritual teachings when the material world fails them or doesn’t live up to their expectations. The money or fame brings even more problems or the relationships that were promised to give them lasting happiness fails too etc….

Many people and I was one of them, once they start getting into spiritual teachings can start taking it too seriously. They also probably feel to achieve inner peace and happiness takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Hours on the meditation cushion, hours studying spiritual teachings, trying to suppress their bad thoughts or desires etc, whatever it is, if spiritual teachings and practice become difficult or a chore then you might as well stop and do something else.

TRUE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

Everything I write is my opinion and my opinion regarding spiritual practice is that the highest form of it is just simply doing what you love. I’m naturally introverted by nature, I get great enjoyment from contemplating life and from meditating.

I also get great enjoyment from lifting weights, practicing self defence training and writing this blog for instance, I believe that the highest form of spiritual practice is doing what you love. If you find meditation a chore then don’t do it, imagine if someone stopped you in the middle of doing something you loved and said ” excuse me you are living life wrong, what you need to be doing is meditating 2 hours a day and contemplating life” how ridiculous does that sound?

WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY THE TEACHER APPEARS

” When the student is ready the teacher appears” it’s a great quote from Buddhism and sums up the Philosophy perfectly. Buddhist don’t try to convert anyone or tell anyone they are living life wrong because they know that all is one, all is connected, all is GOD. If living a life of partying and recklessness makes you happy I’d say go for it as long as you know the consequences of your actions. What brings us happiness one moment may bring consequences later that we hopefully learn and grow from.

FINDING GOD IN THE ORDINARY

I believe following our happiness is the highest form of spiritual practice because all is one, all is God. We search for God or a higher meaning in religion but it can be found in the ordinary. God is found pursuing our happiness. We all have different views on the matter but I believe God is the essence of all even that which we deem bad. If following your happiness leads you down the wrong path well you need to accept the consequences of those actions. Like I said at the beginning of this blog post, most people turn to spirituality when the material world fails them so it’s a case of keeps pursuing what makes you happy or think will make you happy until it doesn’t.

THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO LIVE LIFE

Regardless of how I think the world should be or you do, or extremists do or activists do etc no one really knows the right way. I view life like a never ending school lesson. I’ve always followed my happiness and I’ve always got something out of doing so. If we look at the bigger picture we are always getting what we want or getting a lesson how to improve next time or not make the same mistakes again.

So to sum up I don’t believe there is any offical way to live a spiritual life. If dressing in robes and meditating all day feels right then that is the way. If becoming obsessed with the mating rituals of a rare bird that you enjoy researching and studying brings you happiness then that is the way, if just living a simple family life does it for you then that is the way.

I’ve probably told you nothing special but just realise, in my opinion anyway is that to be spiritual shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should bring happiness because that’s what life is all about in the end, the essence of God and the essence of you is peace and happiness so whatever brings it out of you is the correct way.

Thanks for reading guys and have a wonderful day, I wish you all much happiness.

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 know you’re alive right?

The title of this post seems obvious, of course you know you’re alive, it’s the most obvious thing, but how often do we take a moment to realise how amazing that really is?

If we look at our lives or the lives of most people, everyone is searching for that big event, or that big moment to finally say ” Yes! now I’m living!!” Completely forgetting that knowing we are alive is the biggest miracle of all. They talk a lot about gratitude is spirituality, if our lives are built on a foundation of gratitude for the simple fact that we know we are alive and what a miracle and mystery that is, everything that comes after that is a bonus.

I’ve noticed in myself and others that when actions or things are done from a place of not being grateful for what we have and chasing more and more, it seems to not work out for the best. Desperately chasing money makes us lose more of it, desperately chasing people makes them run faster from us etc.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting and achieving goals or wanting a better life, we have to do something while on this earth, but I feel if we start with taking time out daily to realise, appreciate and be grateful for firstly knowing we are alive, then being grateful for the blessings we do have and learning to be happy with what we currently have, after that for sure, aspire for more, the only difference is it’s not coming from a place of needing more to prove anything to anyone or to boost our ego, it’s coming from a place of wanting to challenge ourselves and improve ourselves.

Daily meditation is a great way to take time out to appreciate the miracle of knowing we are alive, to see what we truly are behind all the thoughts, feelings and ideas we take ourself to be, to see we are already complete and that by doing actions that we feel will complete us will only hurt us in the long run.

We only have this moment, how we treat this moment we treat all moments. I’ve noticed in my life and the lives of others who are constantly grateful and humble with what they have, more comes to them, those constantly not grateful it seems to backfire. If we master the art of being grateful for what we have we become unstoppable in a sense, if more comes that’s great but if it doesn’t that’s ok too. It all starts though with appreciating the fact of knowing we are alive and branches out from there, happiness is a state of mind, not a state of having any particular object. That’s my thoughts on the matter anyway.

Thanks for reading,

Simon Coleman.

Lucid dreams, a side effect of meditation.

Frequent meditation over a long period of time has many positive benefits. Reductions in stress, anxiety and depression to name a few. Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what’s happening while it’s happening, in a sense to ” take a step back” and view what’s happening objectively.

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness and especially in this day and age, we are becoming really good at being mindless, walking around on autopilot, thinking we are awake but really sleep walking through life.

Lucid dreaming, for anyone not familiar with the phrase, is the ability to, or the sudden realisation that, while in the midst of a dream you know you are dreaming, when this realisation occurs it’s an amazing feeling, what you took to be real is realised just to be a projection of your own mind, you are in a sense ” enlightened” in the dream state, knowing for certain that everything and everyone you encounter is a part of your own mind, at which point you can start altering the dream at your desire, this too takes practice though.

What we practice often, good or bad we become really good at. It is said that all young children are natural lucid dreamers, that it is our default state of dreaming but we eventually lose the ability as we get older and as the world conditions us to see it a certain way.

As we age and are taught how to see the world, we take the ideas and concepts taught to us as reality, as something that is really real, we then start seeing life through our conditioning, we take everything that is presented to us as real, forgetting it’s all just ideas and concepts.

As we start to sleep walk through life, taking the world to be solid and real, we start getting good at what we practice. How we view and interact with daily life spills over into the dream state, in the midst of a dream we take it to be real and not question anything because that’s what we practice in daily life.

So how does meditation and mindfulness help us have more lucid dreams? Meditation and mindfulness is the act of being in reality, of experiencing reality how it is not how we think it is. When we truly start paying attention more and more to what’s happening in the present moment, when we start making a habit of becoming lucid to life, that habit starts creeping into our dream state and we become lucid in our dreams.

Like anything in life it takes time though and we aren’t going to lucid dream every night, the frequency of lucid dreams will go up though when we start practicing these daytime practices of meditation and mindfulness. The spiritual path is about waking up, it’s about waking up to life, to seeing reality as it is not how we think it is, when we start waking up to life we start waking up in our dreams too and when that happens it opens up a whole new world to us.

There are many more daytime practices that can assist in having more lucid dreams but I’ll leave it at that for now. Just realise though that a daily meditation and mindfulness practice will only help not hurt the process. I have much more to write on the subject but until then, thanks for reading and have a great day.

Simon Coleman.

Who do you think you are?

One of the movies I enjoy and have watched several times is ” Anger management” starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. There is a scene in the movie where Jack Nicholson, who plays a therapist, is asking Adam Sandler’s character ” Dave” who is new to the group, who he is. Dave replies with his name and job title to which Jack says ” No I don’t want to know that just tell me who you are” Dave replies with his hobbies and personality traits, again Jack says ” No I don’t want to know that stuff, just simple, tell me who you are?” It goes on like this for a short while until Dave gets frustrated that he can’t answer the question.

This movie is a comedy and what Jacks character is trying to do to ” Dave” is to frustrate and anger him but the line of questioning is a classic spiritual exercise in Hinduism called ” Neti Neti” or in English, ” Not this, Not that”. Who are we? The answer seems so obvious it seems we don’t even have to look but when we really ask ourselves who we are we will find, like Dave, it can’t be answered.

Anything we are aware of can’t be us because we are aware of it. We are aware of our name, age, gender, nationality, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, beliefs. We are aware of our bodies, our minds, everything we are aware of is in constant change and flux but the sense of ” I” of Me, if you really look, isn’t changing at all.

The more you look to find yourself the more you will find nothing but yet you do exist. The more you search you’ll eventually come to the realisation that all you are and have ever been is just an aware, knowing presence. That knowing presence isn’t ageing but sees the body age, it doesn’t have emotions but is aware of all emotions, doesn’t experience time but sees the flow of time, etc.

Once you really look to find what you are you will realise you are nothing you experience, eventually you will realise that to be nothing you experience means that you are everything you experience. Whatever the essence of all life is that is what you are, there is only you, all is one and that’s what you are. I’ll leave you with that thought and encourage to look more into the ” Neti Neti” process, another name for it is ” Self enquiry”.

Thanks for reading, any comments or questions feel free to ask,

You are much greater than you take yourself to be.

Simon Coleman.

Mindfulness, meditation in motion.

Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, Mindfulness is the informal practice of meditation. We may meditate for relaxation, stress reduction etc but one of the main purposes should be to practice mindfulness.

When we sit still in silence and start becoming aware of our breathing, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds of whatever appears in our present moment experience we are practicing mindfulness. The formal setting that we give ourselves in meditation makes the practice a lot easier, it’s easier to be mindful under those conditions, it can get harder though in the hustle and bustle of life but like anything else it just takes practice.

Anyone that takes up exercise doesn’t expect to lift weights once and get bigger muscles, they don’t say ” well I tried lifting weights and I’m not any bigger so maybe I’m not good at it” everything takes time, meditation and mindfulness are a practice, a practice that never ends, Doctors practice medicine, they are always continuing to learn, we practice mindfulness, a process that never ends but becomes a lot easier over time.

So how do we practice mindfulness in day to day life? All we are trying to do is to bring our attention back to something happening in the present moment. We have five senses, all of our senses are trapped in the present moment, in fact all life is trapped in the present moment, it’s only our minds that have the ability to ” time travel” to the past or future.

Our minds have spent decades drifting off into thought stories of past and future, it gets absorbed in these stories and takes them for reality, the trick then when you catch yourself drifting off into thinking is to ask yourself ” what’s happening right now?, I’m regretting past events but where are they now? I’m stressing future events but where are those thoughts now?”. A thought can’t be taken and put on the table for everyone to see, thoughts aren’t reality, the have as much reality as a dream.

Like I said, whenever our attention wanders we must practice bringing our attention back to something happening now. What am I feeling right now? What am I seeing or hearing right now? We must get out of our minds and come to our senses. This is a constant practice, our default response when we are on auto pilot is to drift off into thinking, in time though with enough mindfulness practice of bringing attention back to something happening in the present moment, our default response on auto pilot will be to focus on reality, to focus on something happening ” Now” without any stories attached to it.

I’ll leave it at that for now, this blog will be full off more tips ideas and philosophies in the coming year, just remember though, mindfulness and meditation are daily practices that no one is 100% good at, they are life long practices, practices that slowly will bring in a sense of peace and calm into our lives gradually as we slowly get out of our heads more and more and back into our senses, back into reality. Thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.