Surrender to Win at Life

Very grateful to have run across this article about surrendering to life.  Surrender is one of my favorite subjects because of its positive impact on my personal and spiritual growth.  I’d have to say that I’ve been surrendering too many things in my life. Surrendering to the truth of my life situation over and over again. Surrendering in different ways – some skillful and some not so skillful.  In terms of recovery it is said, “surrender to win” because of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits that will be gained as a result.

Although I grew up under poor circumstances, for a while in my youth I actually held to a positive outlook on life.  Hearing reaffirming messages from my Teachers and Counselors at school, I dreamt of my future, being a marine biologist, or an astronaut or the President, owning a house in the country and having a beautiful loving wife.  But in my college years news that the draft might be reintroduced send this positive outlook into a long depression (the first time I ever experienced depression).  Now the small struggles I had of yearning for a mate, my career outlook, and the reality of my past and perceived future buried me.  Subtly I looked for an escape. I turned to people, work, drugs and alcohol to relieve this pain.  Trying to fill the whole inside.

Being constantly ill at ease, my life turned to an endurance race.  Lacking any sense of direction I snatched whatever seemed to give me relief or to meet my needs.  I was on a path without being aware of the whole picture.  I lacked patience or wisdom.  I did not see what I was doing in terms of the short and long term effects it might have myself or others. Emotionally and spiritually I was ill equipment to handle selfless, compassionate, balanced human interaction.  The kicker though was that there was nothing wrong with what was going on.

The kicker though was that I felt that there was nothing wrong with what was going on.    I thought of myself as a good-natured person in general despite my actions. Actually, I viewed myself as a good person despite my actions.  I believed in honesty, truth, and what is right in the world. When conflict or repercussions for my actions came up I felt as if I was unlucky or being persecuted.But then my world came crashing down. Although

But then my world came crashing down. The cumulative effects of all this came to a head for me.  My score card read zero and I could rely on my good nature to save me anymore.  I though I had lost all of the value to me.  I sat in disbelief.  I wanted it to all end.  I wanted to know why this was happening to me. And then I surrendered…..

For the first time, I let go and let Nature do with me as it would.  Having no understanding of what was going to happen, I took suggestions from those in authority and went with the flow.  I was all ears. Now I started to base my decisions on what might move me in a positive direction and my long-time benefit.  My spiritual side had always been neglected/ignored  – thought of as not existing. Now I learned that it was of primary importance. I left go of anything I could not control which was everything but my own actions.

As relief came I started to notice things within me that I had never paid attention to before.  I noticed the deep-seated unease and base of fear within me. Whereas I had been filled with ignorant confidence in the past I now realized that I knew very little.  Instead of knowing the world based on its worst I now began to experience life with fresh eyes seeing everything as both with its good and its bad and with it being neither good nor bad.  I see I always have some choice even if that is to do nothing at that time.  I have the choice of holding onto something or letting it go.  If I chose on to hold on to something then I should understand how that it may affect myself and others. Being aware of what is going on.  Trying to keep in mind seeing the whole picture.

Regarding the article:

The first thing that came to my attention was taking issue the definition of “surrender” itself as defined in the Oxford Dictionary.  The first one was to“stop resisting to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.”  In my view, I take issue with the “to an enemy or opponent” part.  This is what makes the word so repulsive to us in the first place.  We see surrender as losing, like death.  In my opinion, the wording might be better served by ending the definition at “stop resisting” period.  There are many things that are better served when we stop resisting.  The reality is that as we stop resisting we go into acceptance and stop suffering. It is then natural to begin to look for a better path. This may mean regrouping, redoubling our efforts, or reevaluating our approach.

The second definition is even worse in my book, at least at first glance.  To “give up or hand over (a person, right or possession) typically on compulsion or demand” sounds like the opposite of surrender. This definition needs added, “… to a higher authority”.  This higher authority might be the rule of law, the greater good, as defined by society, or to a power greater than ourselves, but it always appears to us as at this time appears to be in our best interest.

Keys points to bring out:

  • Venting: All of our actions should be undertaken with Awareness of the big picture.  When we share with others we should be aware of how it might affect others.  We should not just lay all of our burdens on others.  At the same time, being witness to others and being witnessed is part of the spiritual path. We get so wrapped up in our own worlds we can lose our connections to others.  Seeing that others are going through tough experiences can bring us humility.  We see that we are not alone.
  • Surrender is not giving up.  Surrender to win.  Letting go of the burden brings peace.
  • On being the happy warrior. Learning to see conflict as part of the path. I prefer to call it being a spiritual warrior.

Thank you, Joshua for your article.

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-surrendering-to-life-is-the-key-to-positive-change/

The madness of mindfulness

Source: The madness of mindfulness

When I first got a smartphone I noticed how stressed I was in using it. Checking my email and text messages at all hours of the day I became a nervous wreck. My belief was, now that I had the phone, it was expected that I respond quickly to any communication and to always be available.  For the most part, this is true.  Many years ago I realized how this

Many years ago I realized how this affected me and I learned to have the proper perspective in how to use it as a tool.  At first, I loved that I could select my own ring tone (until I got dirty faces because it invaded everyones airspace). The same goes with sounds for text messages versus application notifications. These notices became maddening. Now I usually try to keep the phone on vibrate to avoid this problem altogether.  However switching to vibration mode and silent mode has also gotten me in trouble as I keep forgetting to set it back to vibe me (missing many phone calls as a result).

As the technology has improved over time though, new ways to use smartphones have become more viable and convenient. Generally, these types of apps are meant as tools to assit you with something you would like to do or track in you life. Hence one of those uses – mindfulness and meditation apps.  However, as with all of these apps, fitting them into our lives can be tricky.

Mindfulness and meditation apps can be used to track how often you practice and to encourage you to practice more often.  It also allows you to connect to like minded people and to share your thoughts with them.  I like to use the fixed length timer option of the app I use because it encourages me to meditate longer.  This helped me to get past my practice of stopping my meditation when I experienced a thought or a feeling that I was uncomfortable with.  Outside sounds do not bother me anymore.  I am getting better at staying with emotions and pain.  At one point I even meditated daily for over a year straight. What an accomplishment!!!

But, eventually, I ran into problems with the app (that are common to computer applications of all types).  I lost data, the app rang bells at all times of the day, etc.  Instead of complaining about it,  I did what I usually do when I am not able to control circumstances (at least eventually), I accepted them and adjusted.

Now I only track my meditations occasionally on the app I use as my happiness or unhappiness is not based on what the app tells me.  I no longer use the timer for a fixed about of time all of the time but enjoy untimed meditations as well. I use it as a tool and not as a weight.  There are so many options out there these days.  Finding the right tool may take some patience. Patience is something that needs to be emphasized as a spiritual practice!

The overall gist of the article did bug me though.  As a result there are some points here I’d like to make not related to use of smartphone apps.

  • It is our reactions to the outside world that needs to be looked at and not necessarily the outside world itself. It is an inside job. What was the authors primary need? – to find a mediation app or to seek relief from being overwhelmed from the stress of parenting.  Looking for a quick fix from an app is not reasonable.
  • Mindfulness and meditation, when practiced, can help up with being less stress overall and (god forbid) more productive but this is also missing the point, and short-sighted. You mostly get what you put into things (karma is complicated). The buddha’s teachings are much more than to be used as an escape.  All of the Buddha’s Teaching are about how stress is caused and how to end stress thru developing the skill and wisdom of dealing with it.
  • Let me repeat myself, a regular and consistent mindfulness and meditation practice can “enable a state of ‘being present in the moment, with our full attention, undistracted and not being overwhelmed'” but in order for that to happen you have to practice.
  • I appreciated that the article raised the issue of having false expectations.  As my practice has evolved, I initially cherished being more present, productive, and less stressed (and continue to do so). This in itself is enough for me to continue practicing it but now I feel that ultimate freedom is possible.  The Noble Eightfold path is about evolving.  If I have false expectations then I am going to feel stressed about this at some point.  Hopefully I will reflect on the true causes for my stress, seek to gain the wisdom to see this clearly and then learn to take the appropriate actions to end it.

Some final constructive criticism. There have been rumblings about “fake news” recently.  Related to this is the explosion of opinion and feature articles about subjects that authors have no true understanding about publish. It is very clear that author of this piece does not appear to have a clue about how mindfulness or meditation actually works and is doing a disservice to others by being critical of something not understood. This is a sign of the times. Everyones’ opinion matters even when they are ignorant of the subject they have an opinion on.  Hopefully, readers of the article will not use it solely to judge the merits of starting a mindfulness and meditation practice, nor of using apps that support this practice.

 

Is Life Suffering?

Source: Is Life Suffering?

Here are some gems that diectly connect buddhism to recovery. The first highlight on suffering opening the door to the path is especially true in my case. I am grateful that I can pass these teachings on.

Feed the Right Wolf – Lion’s Roar

Pema Chödrön describes how to release anger by deciding which wolf in our mind we want to feed.

Source: Feed the Right Wolf – Lion’s Roar

Abhayagiri Reflections – The Cycles of Addiction

Source: Abhayagiri Reflections – The Cycles of Addiction

This article describes the process of turning feelings into suffering of which the addictive person may not be aware of.  It notes that, during this process, the mind clings to the objects of our desire – blotting out everything else. A whole train of events occurs where what we sense is identified with leading us towards grasping the objects of our desire but being unaware of it.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Holds Promise For Treating Addiction | The Huffington Post

The treatment protocol targets the very roots of addictive behavior.

Source: Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Holds Promise For Treating Addiction | The Huffington Post