Monday, August 21, 2017

Loving What Is - Radical Acceptance

“Part of the practice of Radical Acceptance is knowing that, whatever arises, whatever we can’t embrace with love, imprisons us — no matter what it is. If we are at war with it, we stay in prison.

The practice of meditation is described as having two wings: recognizing, so that you actually see what is happening in the present moment, and allowing, where whatever is seen is held with kindness — seeing what’s here and regarding it with tenderness. Saying yes.” (Tara Brach)

“Saying yes” is another way of saying “Loving What Is.” This is where Tara Brach meets Byron Katie.

When we are feeling broken and defective, we must be gentle with ourselves. We are already feeling shame because of thinking we are defective. For some people, finding forgiveness for themselves for being imperfect is difficult. But how wonderful to discover that there is nothing to forgive!

Which of these scenarios gives you more of a feeling of relief?

“I am defective and imperfect. I ask forgiveness for the imperfection and hold myself with tenderness.”

Or….

“I am perfectly acceptable and love myself just the way I am.”

When I believe I am defective and imperfect, I am believing a story that I’ve accepted as true. I compare myself to others and believe that I come up short. There is some minimum standard that I feel I don’t meet. But in loving myself just the way I am, there are no standards to meet. Whatever I am is acceptable.

Now, that goes against the grain in our society. Whatever I am is acceptable. No one is ever wrong. There are no mistakes. We just can’t accept that there is nothing to be sorry for.

When we are at war, we stay in prison. So don’t be at war with who you are. If someone else has a problem with something you’ve done or who you are, that’s their work to take care of. You are not responsible for how others feel about you.

Love sees no imperfection. The essence of perfection is the belief that there is one way of being that is right and all other ways are wrong. Any differences or deviations from that one right way is imperfection. This way of believing is total arrogance!  Individual differences are not deviations of quality. They are deviations of variety. The fact that an apple is not an orange does not mean the apple is imperfect. It’s just different.

So when you say “I wish my spouse would behave differently” realize that you are asking an apple to become an orange. Not possible. An orange is not better than an apple and there’s nothing wrong with your spouse’s behavior. It’s just different than what you expected or wanted. You can wish all day that the apple would become an orange but is that going to happen, and should you expect it to happen? You should not expect your spouse to change any more than you can expect the apple to change. Loving what is means radically accepting your spouse, saying yes to what is. Embracing whatever arises with love and tenderness.

We’ve been preached to for so long that things should be a certain way. The belief that everything should be a certain way is a lie. Everything is exactly the way it should be.

Saying yes to everything with love……let that sink in.

Saying yes to everything, with love.

Saying yes means recognizing reality and choosing to love it.
 
 
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Let's Talk About the Ego

According to Sigmund Freud in his 1923 publication The Ego and the Id, "The ego represents what we call reason and sanity, in contrast to the id which contains the passions."

Freud popularized the concepts of the id, the ego and the superego. But admittedly, he got a few things wrong.  While he believed the id was like a horse and the ego the rider that controlled it, we could hardly call the ego reason and sanity when it has become apparent that the job of the ego is to keep you believing a story that is not true, just so it can stay in control. The ego is selfish and deceitful.

When a baby is born, it wakes up and looks out of its eyes for the first time at the world. And it doesn't know what it is looking at. The baby has no identity yet, and the objects which he observes have no identity yet. But during the baby's first years, a story is being created for him to explain his identity. And it's created by the ego.

Oh, to be sure, others help the ego out. Parents, siblings, and other caregivers, by the way they respond to the infant, help create the story. But ultimately, the ego looks at the experiences given to the infant by those around him and concocts a story which may remain with the infant for life,  unless he is able to question his thoughts sufficiently and dispel the dream created for him.

One of the things parents are eager to do is force their child into independence as quickly as possible. We want them to learn to sleep through the night, learn to entertain themselves, learn to go to the babysitter's without crying. All this requires separating from the parent. But up until that time, the child has seen the parent as an extension of himself. There has been no separation, no separate identity. Once we try to force our child to acknowledge and become comfortable with his separateness, the ego takes over. The ego has to construct an identity for the child that explains this separateness. It has to try to help him soothe himself when he's left alone to cry by creating a story that he can tolerate which comforts him.

The only problem is, the story is a lie. The story is a concoction of the ego. We are not truly separate, none of us. The true nature of everything is that all are one.

But the ego doesn't like the young psyche to believe this, because then the ego doesn't get to be in charge. The ego's identity depends on this separateness, on there being a sense of self. And when we develop a sense of self, we develop a belief that we are autonomous. That we operate alone, when in fact we are all interconnected. We begin to make decisions as if we are the center of the universe. We begin to overestimate our importance. We begin to act out in ways that alienate others. And then our parents have to try to teach us what is "appropriate and inappropriate behavior" because they feel we shouldn't be acting this way.

But how can a child act any other way when their oneness with all has been stripped of them and they've been imprisoned in this separateness? The ego then teaches you to protect your separateness, to keep others out of your space, both physical and emotional. And the rift between you and your oneness widens.

So the baby wakes up and looks out for the first time at the world. And we start teaching it the name for things. "Book, chair, tree." Obviously they have to learn these words, but in teaching the words we reinforce the separateness of each and every person, place and thing. Giving something a concrete name of its own just serves to illustrate that it is separate from everything else.

And yet, the science of quantum physics tells us that things are NOT separate. Our universe is a blanket of subatomic particles arranged artfully into shapes and forms. And every one of those subatomic particles is connected. The only reason we see them as books, chairs and trees is because a story has been created for us that TELLS us that's what they are. Those things don't exist in reality until our mind creates them in our thoughts.

Not only is every person one but every thing is one. There is no duality. No good or bad. No black or white. On the subatomic level, light is light. No colors exist. The colors are only seen in our brains after the frequency of the light bouncing into our eyes is translated into pictures. Color does not exist anywhere but in our brains. The same is true for all opposites.

Reality is a wonderful place. But our stories about what reality is leave much to be desired. They leave us stressed, upset, frightened and fearful. And for most of us, we live our whole lives never even aware that the thoughts we are thinking are a dream, created by the ego.

Look at the wall next to you. Reach out and touch it. It feels solid to you, no? And yet, on the subatomic level, all that wall consists of is tiny microscopic particles held together by electrical charges. When the wall feels solid to you, it's the electrical charges that you are feeling. If it weren't for the electrical charges, you could reach right in between the subatomic particles with your hand. It would go right through the wall. Because there's actually nothing solid there. This is true of everything that exists, including your body, mind, personality and thoughts.

There is actually no separation between you and the person sitting next to you. Your subatomic particles are energetically connected. Every event that happens, happens in a reality where all is one. Events that happen are neutral. There are not right or wrong, good or bad events. The judgment that something is right or wrong, good or bad, is a story superimposed upon your thoughts by the ego. It's not reality.

There are several pretty serious and debilitating stories going on out there. One is the story of religion. In this story, you are lost, broken, unacceptable and flawed and need to be fixed by some supernatural being that supposedly knows more than you. With only a little bit of investigation, one can see that this story is false. The ego lures you in by appealing to your true nature, which is oneness. It tells you that you can alleviate your separateness by appeasing this being with sacrifices. Only no sacrifice is ever enough, and none of the sacrifices actually accomplishes anything. So you are told the story that you are one with this being, but you still feel the separateness in the core of your being, so you know it's false.

Another story going on out there is the story of success. In this story, you must make something, achieve something or accomplish something to be worthy and then be given all the rewards available to someone who has exceled in competition against his fellow humans. Once again, this creates superiority and separateness.

Another story is the story of love. In this story, you will not find happiness unless you are paired with one other human being. This supposedly will alleviate your separateness. But in fact, it only serves to magnify that you have cut yourself off from the rest of the world by pairing with just one person. That one person may partially meet your needs for a while, but eventually it becomes obvious that you are still cut off. You are living in a tiny puddle of water instead of a huge ocean. And you expect this one person to fulfill the role that the oneness of the whole universe was meant to fill. No wonder so many relationships fail and 50% of marriages end in divorce.

The most debilitating story is the story of death. In this story, you will either be killed by an accident or a person or a disease. We think of this as the ultimate separateness, which we want to avoid at all costs. But what we don't realize is that even when the physical body ceases to sustain life as we narrowly define it, those subatomic particles still exist, they just change to a different form. We haven't really gone anywhere. Those pleasing forms and shapes that organize subatomic particles into matter we can see simply change into forms we can't see with the naked eye.

Please don't mistake this for the belief in a heaven or hell. That is a purely fictional concept. I'm simply saying, death is not the end of life because the essence of who we are cannot be destroyed.

And anyway, the more you worry about your death, the less you will live NOW. Death is not something sad any more than a caterpillar turning into a butterfly is sad. Those that die have made a wonderful transition back into the original form our energy inhabited. You don't have to believe in a god or heaven or hell to find that mystical and exciting. It's a simple fact of science.

So I can choose not to believe any of the stories listed above. What would I believe instead?

Well, first of all, by stripping away the ego, you strip away your separateness and get to experience the oneness of all. Divesting the ego of it's stories takes some work, because the ego holds on intensely to its power. As you start to strip away the ego, it will kick and scream and throw a fit. It will try to make you defend your story. It will try to makes you blame everybody else. It will try to hold onto its separateness because it thinks this makes it special. It will judge everything and everybody. It will try to draw lines, make everything black and white, and make you fearful of leaving your story behind. It will try to make you fearful of pain, suffering and death. But there's nothing to fear.

"Who would you be without your story?" as Byron Katie says. You'd be free.

Free from the expectations of others. Free from the expectations of society, your spouse, your parents, your employer, your church. Free from the need to please anybody. Free from the need to compete with others. Free from the need to accumulate wealth (although there's nothing wrong with having wealth, it's just not necessary). Free from the need to judge. Free from the need to be right. Free from the need to blame and make others wrong. Free from the need to change anybody or anything, including yourself.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Poems to A Non-Existent God


Hark, there dwelleth in our nature

Humble though it be

A tiny seed of greatness.

Withered and dried,

Beaten down by the prophets of doom

Into an evil valence.

Whisk off that cloak,

Heavy though it be,

And stand in freedom’s light.

Despite the cold, unnourishing array

Of naysayers

In your greatness you shall delight.
 
 
Judie C. McMath
August 18, 2017
 
Copyright Judie C. McMath and
The Center for Unhindered Living
 
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Group Work "Our Country is Going to Hell in a Handbasket." Is it true?

So let's do "The Work" on our current national situation. Let's use the phrase "Our country's going to hell in a handbasket." Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true?
Some of you may be tempted to answer "yes". And if you do, I understand that. But let's go on to question three.
How do you react when you think the thought "Our country's going to hell in a handbasket." Angry, afraid, frustrated, hopeless, arguing with people, lashing out. Those are stressful reactions.
Who would you be if you couldn't think the thought "Our country's going to hell in a handbasket" or other similar thoughts? What if you didn't watch the news and keep this alive in your mind and heart? Then you'd get up every day and go to your job and live your life and you'd be fine. Nothing bad is happening to you, except the stressful thoughts you are tormenting yourself with.
But you say, "What about the people who are being deported or killed" Something bad is happening to them." Well, first we should question that that thought - Is it true? And that's a whole other discussion. But suffice it to say, that's THEIR issue to deal with, not yours. It's not happening to you.
Katie always says "There are only three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business (God meaning reality)." When you start using words like should or should not in relation to how you think others should behave, you're in their business. And this causes you suffering.
The people experiencing this who are stressed by their experiences should do The Work on their own experience so they can alleviate their own suffering. But you can't do it for them. You can only alleviate your own.
Back to our questions. So without these thoughts you'd be living your life and you'd be okay. Now the turnarounds.
Instead of "Our country's going to hell in a handbasket" what would the opposite be? "Our country's not going to hell in a handbasket." Can you give me an example of where that is true?
I see a country that is finding their true humanity. I see a country that is coming together in solidarity in a way they never have before. I see people helping people they might not even have talked to ten years ago. Not the skin heads, of course. But they never will and you can't change that. I see people doing the right thing not because the law forces them to but because their heart tells them to. I see many good things happening.
So our country's not going to hell in a handbasket. I'm not living in stress and suffering. When you get clear of the stories that you live within that aren't true, you are more clear to do something for the right reasons.
So thoughts might come to you like "I think I'd like to help an immigrant." Okay, so go do it, but without the stories that we spin around everything that cause stress and suffering. The people living in those stressful thoughts and situations can do their own Work around those concepts and get more clear about what they need to do for themselves as well. But help because you enjoy it, not because you think you are somebody's deliverer. Because you aren't. Nobody can deliver anybody but themselves from stress and suffering.

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Copyright Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living

Today's "Work" - "My body has chronic kidney disease - is it true?"

I recently saw Katie working with several people who had been told by their doctors they had cancer. I decided to use the same process with my diagnoses.

"I hate chronic kidney disease because it makes my muscles burn" - Is it true?

Yes, it appears to be true.

"Can you absolutely know that it is true?"

No, not absolutely.

"And how do you react when you think the thought 'Chronic kidney disease makes my muscles burn?'

The diagnosis itself does not make my feel bad. But when I am experiencing the pain in my muscles from it, the pain makes me feel bad.

Who would you be without the thought, "Chronic kidney disease makes my muscles burn?"

I would have weak, burning muscles but I wouldn't know why.

"You don't know why you have burning muscles." Is it true?

Well, if I accept the thought that I have chronic kidney disease, I do know why. But if I don't accept the thought that I have chronic kidney disease, then I would probably assume that I'm out of shape and my muscles are weak because they need to exercise more.

"I need to exercise more because my muscles are weak." Does that thought feel stressful or painful to you in any way?"

No, it doesn't, although I know that actually trying to use the muscles more would not be comfortable and could be painful.

"Using my muscles more could be painful." Can you absolutely know that it's true?

Not until I try it.

"How do you react when you think the thought 'Using my muscles more could be painful.?"

I would dread having to exercise.

Can you think of one good reason to keep the thought "Using my muscles more could be painful?"

A good reason?

"A stress-free reason. The only reason I can see for you to keep that thought is so that you won't have to exercise."

Exercise is really hard for me.

"Exercise is really hard for me." Is it true?

Yes.

"How do you react when you think the though 'Exercise is really hard for me?"

I don't want to exercise.

And who would you be without the thought "Exercise is really hard for me?"

I would just exercise as well as I could.

Can you see a good reason to drop the thought "Exercise is really hard for me" and just exercise as well as you can?

Yes. Even if  I'm only able to exercise a little bit, it would be better than none.

And we don't know what would happen in the future but you might get better, is that true?

Yes, that's possible.

Now the turnarounds.

"I never want to experience the burning in my muscles again." Turn it around.

"I am willing to experience the burning in my muscles" or "I look forward to experiencing the burning in my muscles again."

Can you give me one reason why that would be true?

Well, if I don't ever feel the burning then I would not be exercising. So in order to exercise I'm going to have to feel it.

Can you think of another reason?

Well, when I am experiencing the burning, sometimes I have to ask people to help me with things. Like carrying things that are heavy or completing a task for me that I couldn't complete. So I get help with things that I probably wouldn't have asked for help with before.

Can you think of another reason?

Well, it keeps you grateful and humble."

Grateful for what?

Grateful for any and all assistance I get. Grateful for kind people.

Any other reasons?

(This is where some meditation was required)

I guess when I'm just walking and I feel the burning, it reminds me that I need to do my resistance exercises more.

It reminds me that if I give up and get a wheel chair that eventually my muscles will become weak and unusable and so if I don't want that to happen, I better exercise.

It reminds me that the universe is friendly so there must be a good reason for this to have happened.

It reminds me that I can change the way I walk. I don't have to walk as fast. I can allot extra time to get where I need to go. I can slow down.

Slowing down is good. Slowing down means taking more time to notice things and be more present right now. When we are hurrying, we aren't really present. Having chronic kidney disease is my body's way of telling me to slow down and be more present. And that's a good thing.


*******************************************************

I have thought through this many times in my head, but until I wrote it down for this blog post, I didn't see these obvious conclusions. Katie always says, "All war belongs on paper." And it's true. If you don't write it down, you just don't think it through the same way.


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Monday, August 14, 2017

How Do You Wake Up To Your Goodness

Who would you be if you trusted the basic goodness that lives in you and in others?

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor...Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from                                                                                                               beyond.” 
                                                                                                     ― Jalaluddin Rumi

Treat each guest honorably. Most of the time we think of the dark parts of us as unwanted, as undesirable, as wrong. But there is nothing wrong in the universe.

The dark parts of ourselves are not something to overcome. They are not something to strive against. They provide balance, and balance is wholeness.

Close your eyes and think about a time when you are aware that you exhibited some dark thought, some malice, some less than pure motive. Invite in these thoughts with love. Accept that part of you as a welcome guest. Take that angry thought, and in your mind surround it with a bubble of light. Realize that even that dark thought is holy. Through every thought and feeling there is insight.

Now think about an unpleasant experience with another person. They say something to you that is hurtful. Or they are simply unfeeling or uncaring. This part of them is also not something to overcome or strive against. If you can meet your own thoughts with love, you can meet the thoughts of others the same way. Welcome in their hurtful words or actions. Take them in and surround them in a bubble of light as well. Realize that even their  hurtful words or actions are holy. You are a being of light. So are they.

When I talk about hurtful words or actions being holy, I do not mean holy in any religious sense. My intention is to convey that those actions are meaningful and provide insight. That is what all communication provides. All communication is neutral. It is we who superimpose upon it some kind of value judgment. It is because we hear all communication through the mirror of our own psyche. Whatever we hear that we find to be negative is interpreted that way by us.

What if the next time you hear something hurtful or negative you receive it as a welcome guest?

"Good morning Cheryl. Isn't it a beautiful day?"

"No it isn't Steven. You left your socks in the floor again. You are always making more work for me, and you never listen to what I say."

"Thank you Cheryl, for sharing that with me."

"Well, what are you going to do about it?"

"I'm listening to your concerns."

"I want you to pick up your socks."

"I think I can do that. Thanks for your insight."


Now, it may or may not be true that you never listen to what Cheryl says. That's not the issue. You are receiving her comments as a welcome guest. You aren't acknowledging that what she said is true or not. You are simply listening and responding to her without blaming, contradicting or making her wrong. And now the incident is over and you go on your way with love and light.

But what do we usually do? Respond from our ego. The ego says, you are wrong and I must show you where you are wrong and I must protect my self-image and defend against your attack. The ego is not interested in love or insight.

"Defense is the first act of war." --Byron Katie

Watch Tara Brach's video "Trusting Yourselves, Trusting Life."


No matter how negatively a person speaks or acts toward you, it is not your job to correct them. Their thoughts and actions are their business and your thoughts and actions are yours. If you get caught up in the negativity of their actions or statements, you cannot remain clear and authentic. You simply get caught up in the story they are believing about themselves, and there's no truth in that for you.

So our original question stands. Who would you be if you trusted the basic goodness that lives in you and others? Perhaps you would experience more peace and less fear. Perhaps you would not always be expecting others to act a certain way. Perhaps you wouldn't even care anymore how others act because you're not judging their actions. You would stay in your business and out of theirs.

“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” 
― Jalaluddin Rumi


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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Multiverse Paradigm

In the June 2017 issue of Scientific American, the cover article was "The Quantum Multiverse." You may or may not have heard of this paradigm, but it is rapidly gaining popularity in the world of physics. It says that our universe is part of a much larger structure of "bubble universes."

The very early cosmos expanded exponentially through a process called inflation. As the cosmos was expanding, some parts of it stopped expanding sooner than others, creating these bubble universes. Our universe is but one of many.

In a single universe, events occur a finite number of times, and so scientists are able to predict what will happen next by looking at the number of times an event has already occurred and mathematically determining the chances of it happening again. But in a multiverse which expands infinitely, prediction is not possible. Everything that can happen, does happen, in some other universe or reality.

This means that no matter what event you are able to imagine, it can and has or will happen somewhere else. That means there are universes out there where you do exist and universes out there were you were never born. And this brings up an interesting thought.

If you've ever had the thought "There is a god" and you've questioned that thought, as we should do with all our thoughts, you've had to honestly conclude that you cannot absolutely know that it's true. There is no proof one way or the other. I personally feel quite comfortable saying that in the universe we currently inhabit, there is not a god.

But if the multiverse paradigm is true, then there could actually be a universe out there where there is or was a god.

This brings up an interesting thought experiment. Why did some universes develop with a god and some develop without one?

Ah, but you say, the nature of God is such that he is everywhere. He would be the God of all universes. He is omniscient, omnipresent, etc. The creator of all.

And yet, the multiverse paradigm requires that every possible combination of events does happen in some universe out there. So there HAS to be a universe out there where there is no god, and there never has been one.

So this opens up the concept that god is something that develops out of the universe rather than being the origin of it. Because if some universes develop and have no god and some develop with one, then God cannot be the creator of a universe in which he or she does not exist.

Quite interesting, and the next question that comes to mind is, what set of circumstances would have to happen in a universe for a god to develop? And is he/she a real god or just perceived to be one by the inhabitants?

In the multiverse paradigm, there is a universe where he/she is just a perceived god, and there is one in which he/she is a real god. This begs the question, if some universes develop without a god, and they are fine, then why do we need a god in any universe?

The good news is, we don't need to know. What is true in another universe doesn't matter to this one because they don't interact. The laws of one universe do not apply to any others.

See our website page on "Spiritual Enlightenment" for more food for thought.


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