I woke up when Dane was getting ready for work and he told me it was snowing out. I immediately threw the covers over my head and went back to sleep for an hour in my cozy, warm blankets. When I woke up, I listened to a message from my Dad telling me to just stay inside and avoide driving today if I could because he heard we were getting a heck of a snowstorm. My first thought, "Hmm, I guess I have to miss classes this afternoon." I wouldn't want to worry my Dad. :o) I stayed in my Pj's, made a big cup of Green yerba mate tea and a big boal of cinnamon and vanilla oats topped with fresh bananas, strawberries, and a drizzle of agave nectar. I then curled up in a fuzzy blanket on the couch and finished reading my Eckhart Tolle book. The rest of the afternoon was spent bouncing back and forth between journaling, browsing for wedding ideas, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, and cutting down the size of my hotmail inbox (I had let it accumulate to 31 pages?!?!?!). For lunch, I made a big red leaf lettuce salad with cucumbers, orange and red bell peppers, a few tortilla chips and some of my favorite Litehouse Salsa Ranch. I got dressed and ready for work at Spring Meadows, which is an assisted living home. Right before leaving, I peeled a leftover Easter egg and warmed it up with a little butter and pepper and served it on a yummy 9 grain toast and headed for the door. While driving to work I called up my Grandpa to wish him a happy 83rd birthday! It was good catching up. We hadn't talked in awhile so I even had to cut him off a few minutes after I got to work even though I could've chatted for hours. My grandparents played a pretty special role in my life and even though I don't get to visit or talk to them that often they are always on my mind and in my heart. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy my job most days. Today was one of those days, I took my time and was able to get a little chatting in with all of my favorite residents. For dinner, I had a bowl of tomato florentine soup with pasta shells in it. It was actually pretty darn good and filled me up. On my way home I caught up with my good pal Shyla, man have we had some great times together. She's one of my besties and I love her to pieces! Then when I got home Dane handed over the phone so I could spend the next 30 minutes chatting with Grandma Loretta, one of the sweetest ladies I know. If you ever need an ego boost, just talk to her. She has nothing but the nicest things to say about everyone. My favorite of the evening, "I told Dane he is marrying the best girl in the whole world and I'm so proud of him that he picked you." Awww, she's just too cute! Anyways, I finally finished up my journaling so I wanted to post my last few chapters and recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a more positive outlook on life. Peace, love, and positive vibes...
CHAPTER NINE: BEYOND HAPPINESS AND UNHAPPINESS THERE IS PEACE
Yes, happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive. I’m not going to feel happy when it seems as though everything is crashing down around me but inner peace does not depend on positive conditions. Whenever anything negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although you may not see it at the time. I have always believed in this and it has helped me in many circumstances but sometimes the things happening seem so extreme that I can’t understand how I could possibly learn anything or maybe the lesson could have been just a little more subtle. However even a brief illness or accident can show us what is real and unreal in life, what ultimately matters and what doesn’t. Tolle explains that from a higher perspective, conditions are neither positive or negative , they simply are as they are. But how can some things not be seen as negative? I have to accept everything, pretend it is all ok? Tolle states that we don’t have to pretend anything; we’re just allowing it to be as it is. It’s an essential aspect of forgiveness. If we forgive at that moment, then there will be no accumulation of resentment to forgive at some later time. Some people need to experience q great deal of suffering before they will relinquish resistance and forgive. He also suggests that we each have an ego that perceives itself as a separate fragment in a hostile universe. The basic ego patterns are designed to combat its own deep-seated fear and sense of lack. These patterns are resistance, control, power, greed, defense, and attack. I think we have all experienced drama caused by egos coming together and creating drama in the form of conflict, problems, power struggles, emotional or physical violence and so on. This includes the collective evils such as war, genocide, and exploitation which I cannot even begin to elaborate on because they make my stomach turn. It’s sad. In addition, we can create our own drama for ourselves such as when we feel guilty, anxious, or sorry for our self. This is all self-created drama. When we live in complete acceptance of what is, the drama ends. You don’t have to just let people walk all over you though. You can still make your point clearly and firmly, but there will be not reactive force behind it, no defense or attack.
When I think about everything in the past that has upset or hurt me, sooner or later it ends or it changes. Even the same condition that made me happy at one time has made me unhappy down the road and vice versa. All that arises passes away. Offer no resistance to what is, allow the present moment to be and accept the impermanent nature of all things and conditions. All negativity is resistance. Negativity can range from irritation or impatience to fierce anger, from a depressed mood or sullen resentment to suicidal despair. Think about it. Why do we create these emotions? Tolle explains that the ego believes that through negativity it can manipulate reality and get what it wants. I know this sounds a little out there but if you do not believe this, why would you create this? Another interesting point Tolle brings up about negativity is that once we have identified with some form of negativity, on a deeply unconscious level; we do not want positive change. It would threaten our identity as depressed, angry, or hard-done-by person. He states that this is a common phenomenon and that it is also insane. It sure sounds that way on paper but I believe that I know people like that and sometimes it’s easier being the victim than facing the truth. But what do I do when someone says something to designed to hurt me? Tolle suggests that instead of reacting with negativity such as attack, defense, or withdrawal, you let it pass right through you. Offer no resistance. You can still tell that person that his or her behavior is unacceptable, if you choose. But that person no longer has the power to control your inner state. Remember, true change happens within, not without. It will take a little work but in the end it will be worth it. Be sure to not carry any resistance within, no hatred, and no negativity. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”
CHAPTER 10: THE MEANING OF SURRENDER
Hmm, the word surrender didn’t really go over well with me. I’m not usually one to just sit back and put up with things that I don’t agree with whether it be with policy, relationships, or negative activity such as people being hurtful to others. According to Tolle, true surrender does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is simply yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. It is a purely inner phenomenon and does not mean that on the outer level you cannot take action and change the situation. When it comes time to say “no” to a person or a situation, let it come not from reaction but from insight, from a clear realization of what is right or not right for you at that moment. It must be a non-reactive “no,” a “no” that is free of all negativity. You do all that you can and this is positive action and it is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair, or frustration. In this state of surrender, you see very clearly what needs to be done, and you take action, doing one thing at a time and focusing on one thing at a time. Focus not on the hundred things you can do in the future but the one thing that you can do NOW. This is something I could definitely learn from. Usually I am emotionally affected by activities and can react based on the emotions that arise. The times that I do take a deep breath and a calmer approach, are always the times that have the best outcome for everyone involved. If I can never accept what is, I guess by implication that means that I will not be able to accept anybody the way they are. Judgment, criticizing, labeling, rejecting, and attempting to change people will all still be happening, even if it is unconsciously. Sometimes “bad” things happen to people, such as in a case of severe illness. Tolle advises to not feel that you have failed in some way, do not feel guilty. Do not blame life for treating your unfairly, but most importantly, do not blame yourself. Many people turn to pseudo escapes such as work, alcohol, drugs, anger, projection, suppression, and so on but they don’t free them from the pain. When you deny emotional pain, everything you do or think becomes contaminated with it. Remember, when there is no way out, there is still always a way through. Don’t create a victim identity for yourself because feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in the suffering.
Do you ever wonder how some people can stay in an abusive relationship? Tolle’s explanation is that the mind, conditioned as it is by the past, always seeks to re-create what it knows and is familiar with. Even if it’s painful, at least it is familiar. The mind always adheres to the known. I was never in an abusive relationship but sometimes I wonder why I would knowingly enter into a relationship with someone who struggles with the same issues that I dealt with in my childhood. Why would I set myself up for this? Was I naïve and hoped I could be strong enough to change that negativity in them, that they would “love” me enough to give up those other things, that time will change people…??? I’m still not sure but this sure makes a lot of sense. I am not learning to accept these actions and just let them continue to happen but I can accept where we are, the decisions we made up to this point and I can take positive action. I can forgive. I can realize that nothing I ever did or that was ever done tome could touch even the slightest the radiant essence of who I am.
There is the expression “the way of the cross.” This means that the worst thing in your life, your cross, turns into the best thing that ever happened to you, by forcing you into surrender, to become as God. I have seen this played through in so many of life’s different circumstances. Why is it that sometimes it takes something so dramatic, so life changing to “wake us up?” To show us what’s really important in life. To allow us to see how trivial the negative emotions we were holding onto really are, to allow us to see that they serve no purpose whatsoever in our lives.