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Consciousness

She Was Smothered With Suicidal Thoughts & Depression – Here’s How She Found Happiness

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Why are you unhappy and depressed?

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I remember, as a young adult, hearing this term of “stress” for the first time… and not really knowing what it was.

Like our current trends of instant gratification and FOMO, stress was the hot trending topic.

I even remember watching a local news show documentary where this “new concept” of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced.

Nowadays we need “trigger word warnings” on articles in order to not to trigger people’s PTSD.

No one could really explain stress at the time, and I remember that making an impression on me.

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Fast-forward 20 years later and now everyone knows what stress is, along with depression and suicide – with some estimates stating that as many as 13% of the US population are on anti-depressants. Read more at http://time.com/4900248/antidepressants-depression-more-common/

My How The World Has Changed

As a former chronic sufferer of depression and suicide, along with epilepsy, which also causes mood fluctuations, I had also bought into the idea that these were medical issues, and that science had to have the answers.

This was chronic, inherent to my system, and I would always need help for it. A disease in other words.

And so I became addicted to believing I needed doctors and medicines to manage my disease.

But it never seemed to help.

I couldn’t break out of the cycle of depression… I’d get okay for a little while and then go crashing down again.

And so I really started investigating alternative routes, alternative healing, and while I got some relief, it wouldn’t last.

And so I got serious about sorting out my life through my spiritual journey, and I learned a lot along the way about what was making me depressed.

A few years later, I’m now in a place where stuff like that – and most illness in fact – can’t touch me. It certainly would not shake my peace of mind.

The good news? It’s possible for you to get there too.

The bad news? It’s going to require you to look at every single aspect of your life – and accepting that it’s the life you’re choosing that is making you depressed.

You were born into this world, and while you have been offered the illusion of choice, the range of options available to you are limited by the accepted rules of the society in which we operate.

So, in plain english, there are things you think are ‘normal’, ‘everyday’ and ‘acceptable’, just because you grew up with them around you.

If you grew up in a mainstream Western culture, then monogamy is your norm. But if you’d grown up as a devout Muslim, or as a Mormon, having sister wives and polygyny would be your norm too.

One of the most disturbing recent examples I found was the Hampstead Kids Pizzagate interviews… these kids have been raised with Satanic and pedophilic practices by their father, and when you listen to them, they speak of being raped repeatedly by adults and drinking blood as if it were the most normal thing to do.

So many of the aspects of your life are driven by what you grew up thinking was normal – this is why you see cycles of patterns passed down along family lines: abusers breed abusers, alcoholics breed alcoholics, and the devout breed the devout.

So what are the areas, that you think of as normal, that are actually causing challenges for you?

Relationships of obligation

Relationships of obligation are the relationships you are born into.

These are relationships where the person has a title that denotes the expectation of the relationship, e.g. a mother should care for and love her children and want the best for them.

The moment you think mother, you have all these ideas of what a mom should be, should do, how she should act.

There are tons of these titles in our lives: parents, cousins, siblings, grandparents; and we add a couple along the way, in friend, lover/partner and child. Eventually also boss and employer.

What they all have in common is that there is expectation built into them – expectations of behavior, actions, words, etc.

This expectation comes from both sides, and in many cases the relationship devolves into nothing more than meeting the minimum requirements of the expectation, in order to maintain the relationship.

So you do the minimum you have to do in order to keep the relationship going, e.g. We HAVE TO go see my parents this weekend. It’s been so many weeks since we last saw them, or We HAVE TO go to my parents/siblings for Christmas this year, or I MUST call my sister.

This turns the relationship into a chore. And a chore is just another task you add to your to do list – the one that’s already putting so much pressure on you.

Relationships of proximity

Many of our relationships of obligation actually form because they are relationships of proximity – we are around the person and so get to know them, forming a bond because of the shared time and experience we have passed together.

School and work are great examples of this… you know everyone there, and CHOOSE your friends… but you are limited to the people who are available to choose from, the people sharing the same space as you regularly.

This turns the relationship selection into an interview style… you pick the ‘best candidate for the job’ out of what is available to you to choose from.

So again, you don’t quite land up with the relationship you want – and so you’re not completely committed to it.

Fitting in and editing

In essence, what this means is that majority of the relationships you have in your life are not relationships you would have chosen, and are not really with people you honestly relate to. And most of them feel like a chore.

But we do it anyway, because life is all about people.

And by that I mean, you need people to like you in order to ensure you can stay alive.

People need to open doors for you, take a chance on you, and you need a network around you because everything in the world is people – even sales for your business.

So you edit yourself to fit in – basically ALL THE TIME.

You’re never yourself completely, because the way to ensure survival is likability (read more at http://lifecoachestoolbox.com/index.php/what-is-the-system ).

So you shave off parts of yourself to be likable, to fit into the “good enough” relationships of obligation and proximity around you, to ensure you don’t become an outcast.

External Validation

When you bring it all down to a nutshell, it’s about external validation – we’re looking for society and those around us to deem us “good enough” to be trusted in a relationship, with children, with a job.

The problem here is that external validation needs to be constantly coming at you in order for this strategy to work – so the moment you hit a rough patch, and that person no longer approves of you being around, and so does not validate your worth by engaging in a relationship with you, then you feel a failure.

Ditto on “I can’t find a job” – no company will externally validate my worth. This is where the pressure of interviews comes from – you want the external validation of acceptance.

Ditto on “I can’t find a relationship.” And even on “I can’t have a child” – I have not been found worthy enough by my own body to have this relationship I desire with a child. My body does not validate me as a mother and so society does not accept me.

So without even realizing it, you start training yourself to make sure you stay acceptable to everyone… but when you’re taking everyone’s needs into account, there’s only a small place of overlap.

And so you land up living in that overlap zone, doing the few baseline things that nobody can get offended at.

No wonder you feel stifled, stuck and trapped. And it’s even littler wonder that you have communication issues in your relationships.

Medicine and health

Often, instead of getting introspective and starting to look at the aspects of our lives that are causing us unhappiness, we turn to medicine.

Because depression is a disease.

There are two ways the medicine impacts you – and the first is that it makes you reliant on the medication. It becomes a crutch.

Most importantly it becomes a crutch because each medicine you take lands up creating symptoms that you need another medication to solve. And many of the medications are designed to make you physically reliant on them, so addiction genuinely occurs.

Or at least violent symptoms occur in your body, when you try to to STOP taking the medicine. See how that works?

The second addiction and problem that forms, is addiction to medical advice – as you participate more and more in medicine, you buy further into the idea that you HAVE TO listen to what your doctor says, despite what you feel or think inside of you.

Accept this idea for long enough, and you are going to believe that you are powerless to change your circumstance, and that what you are experiencing is beyond your control.

So you see your doctor for fifteen minutes every few weeks or months, get a medication and brief advice, and then you’re on your own again.

Come 3 AM, when you really need the hands on help and advice, the doctor is not around – and you feel powerless and incompetent to make any decisions for yourself.

When people feel powerless, hopeless and incompetent is when they are most likely to throw in the towel, and want to commit suicide.

You don’t know how to rest

Among the many things that our strange society has left us unequipped to do, resting is the most bizarre.

We are a culture that craves entertainment and the things of holidays and weekends – it’s all supposed to be about our rest time.

In fact, we live in one of the most advanced societies on earth, and living conditions around the globe are pretty much better than they’ve ever been in world history – and yet we have such a high percentage of the population on medication for depression.

We aren’t taught how to rest.

You take time off, but you don’t stop thinking about the things of your life… your bills, your obligations, the expectations placed on you.

We fill our lives with distractions and ways of keeping ourselves busy, but we are never taught the skills required to actually manage our thoughts.

And so you often get back to work even more tired than when you left, because at least work is a meditative state that allows your body to rest.

This is why you feel better at the start of a weekend too probably, lol 🙂

Entertainment is a distraction

Speaking of distraction, the things you think of as entertainment are designed to distract you – not entertain you.

So while you’re engaging in that game, at the casino, at the movies or whatever, your mind is full and busy, and you feel completely immersed in the experience.

But immediately afterwards, as you step out of the place, and are left with your own thoughts again, the boredom and silence of your mind sets in, or your inner voice starts to run rampant again.

In that moment of contrast, you feel empty, and so your system looks for the most recent experience where you did not feel empty – and you crave another dose of your distraction fix.

You’re only going to sort out the stuff inside you by going into those quiet spaces in your mind, and hearing your inner voice. And each time you resist hearing it – by filling your mind with distraction – it only becomes harder for you to face it at all.

Eventually, in your rush to get away from all that pain inside you, you start turning to deeper forms of distraction – ones that occupy you for hours. Think drugs, triathlons, excessive exercise and yoga, obsessive dieting or workaholics.

Each time you go out and participate you get more addicted to the distraction, and more dependent on it – until the cost of maintaining it becomes an additional pressure to deal with.

The content you’re consuming TELLS YOU you’re depressed

I’m a content producer and I’ve been that for years, and so I’ve gotten to see what content people use and what they engage with – and I haven’t been surprised to see how much people love these little online tests and gadgets.

They also love click bait style, sound bite filled articles that leave little real time to go into any depth at all.

Thirdly you have the rise of personal growth and self help stuff, alongside the LGBTQ movements, female empowerment and the suicide and depression league out there spreading content.

Each of these aspects on their own is not a killer in itself, but combined they are a lethal weapon, and what they’ve resulted in is engineered articles and tools that are designed to convince you that you need help.

In order to understand that, you need to know that almost all of the tools and pieces you see out there are some sort of PR thing… designed to bring in or retain customers and readers.

So they play to your worst fears in the hope that you will click through. They pick symptoms designed to be a common baseline experience, because that way MORE PEOPLE will relate to their articles or use their tool.

The point of the article or piece is usually to keep you engaged with the platform, and then to drive business by showing the writer as an expert. The tools simply exist to harvest email addressees for mailing lists.

In life, you rarely come across people like me, experts in an area doing their own marketing and digital work. So for example, when I build a tool, I do the expert spiritual/healing side of it AND I work out the actual delivery mechanism in the digital sphere.

In most cases, in fact, the expert sits on one side, and then the digital experts (usually a team) sit on the other, and then they try to create a tool as a marketing gimmick that will attract the MOST email addresses to harvest.

The expert provides the info, and a writer makes it palatable…so a writer can write a “respected” piece by referencing a whole bunch of scientific research. But again, the topics they focus in on are the ones most likely to draw ongoing traffic to their website.

Most of the marketing and media you consume today is designed to speak to your fears, and generate some sort of emotional response in you. Even in “positive” lifestyle ads showing what you can be, the fear inherent is that you are not that, and will never achieve it.

And your mainstream media are the worst at catering content that will keep you distracted and focused, and give you incorrect messaging.

And often that messaging is packaged into sound bite style info so that you feel like you’re growing smarter, but are not forced to focus for very long.

All of this messaging is designed to make your mind slower, and to make you feel like you have an issue so that you keep coming back for more.

The content you’re consuming makes you depressed

Beyond that content, there is the rest of the content you’re consuming – and even fiction is FULL of the drama and chaos of life.

Nobody wants to watch a movie about a quiet hermit who lived a life of peace, calmly interacting with animals, slowly learning a few skills, and spending a lot of time in quiet contemplation.

So instead you watch a gory adventure or action film; a sexy romance, which of course requires a break up, because boys meets girl, it all goes well and they all live happily ever after doesn’t exactly make the greatest storyline does it?

Throw in a sinking passenger liner, one of the worst mass casualties we’ve had in history, the deaths of hundreds by drowning and hypothermia, a love that could never be, and then a love that ends a few weeks after meeting with the untimely death of the romantic hero… now you have Titanic – the greatest love story of our time.

You don’t watch a movie about the guy who calmly accepted his wife’s death and his lot in life, said a prayer of gratitude and moved on… but you’ll watch the movie about the tormented father who rips his family apart and commits murder, or even the tormented ghost that is still holding on, murdering people who had nothing to do with the torment that caused the hell that traps it on this plane.

You aren’t interested in the story of the mother no one knew about, who lost her child to sex trafficking, and quietly mourned her loss, never knowing the fate of her only beloved daughter. Because it was unremarkable.

But Liam Neeson blowing up half of Europe and taking down a veritable army of guys in a few foreign countries? That’ll do, donkey.

And you wonder why your lives are so filled with drama and chaos and torment?

It’s the ONLY excitement you know.

Heroes are always having a bad day. Have you ever noticed that?

So in order to have heroes who face stuff, you have to have demons and dragons for those heroes to face.

Combine this with the fact that you cannot distinguish between what you watch and reality ,and you have a cauldron of opportunity for your mind to look for ways to create drama in your life.

Think back to a horror movie you’ve watched… remember the fear that made your heart beat, your pulse quicken, your breath catch sharply as you got a fright, your palms sweat? That was your body reacting on a mental, emotional and physical level to the visual stimulus in front of you.

It didn’t matter that you were not actually living the movie – seeing it was enough for you to experience it as real.

When you see something, it anchors you in that experience – think of any dream. It always feels real when you are in it.

Whatever you see in other words creates the “reality” of the environment you are experiencing.

Sometimes this can feel so real that you can’t return to real life… like when you can’t snap out of a dream, or forget a movie.

So once you’re watching the movie, your body begins to “experience” that experience as real, and your mind adds that range of experiences to the continuous catalogue it is building in your mind.

Whenever you approach any experience, your mind looks back on every similar experience you’ve ever had, and chooses from all those responses, the best response for what you are facing. The best one you can see.

This is why experience makes you better at doing something – your mind has narrowed down the ways to approach it, and understood how to do it, enough times that you know the ‘best way’ to approach it now.

When you experience the ups and downs and highs and lows of the drama and chaos in television and movies, that also becomes part of your range of experience.

So when you are in your normal life, you will find yourself responding as your favorite character from your favorite show would, saying something they would say – especially if you watch the shows repeatedly, In fact, if you watch the shows ongoing or repeatedly, you even get a sense that these people are your friends, a real part of your life.

Eventually, you will not only draw on mannerisms from these shows, you will begin to draw on the emotional responses too… and the hero is ALWAYS having a bad day.

Each time you watch stuff that Hollywood feeds us, you are literally training yourself to create drama in your life, because it is what you have come to know as excitement and entertainment.

Nothing makes us more depressed than drama and chaos in our lives – we want everything to run smoothly and be happy and peaceful; have it be easy.

News is not real

In order to keep pace with our need for excitement and distraction, news has to have the sensationalism that movies do.

News channels have to compete with entertainment channels in order to keep your attention, because they make their monthly income the same way that all broadcasting services do – advertising revenue.

The simple rule is, the more people that watch a show, the more you can charge for the advert to be broadcast. Think of the big deal they make of Superbowl adverts, for example.

So news channels are having to up their game, and you even see it in smaller, private and alternative media, with stuff that we term “click bait” – thumbnails and article titles that actually have nothing to do with the content on the page, and are just designed to grab your attention.

Of course these places are finding out what rattles your cage and using that information to manipulate you into watching or clicking through.

Combined with the almost drug like effect spending large amounts of time on digital devices has, it is easy for you get addicted to certain news channels and media platforms that are designed to draw you in as their “primary target market”.

Doing a NEWS FAST was actually one of the first steps I took on my journey towards healing – and now my life is permanent news fast.

I go out and FIND media on alternative outlets – I seek for specific topics and pieces, and never just scroll or go to the front page of anything.

If there is a big piece of news, someone will let me know.

I’ve lived like this for about four years now, and it is one of the most powerful changes I ever made in my life.

You cannot be positive when all you hear all the time is bad news. And the media lives on bad news.

There’s an advertising piece of urban legend passed down when you study advertising, and it is about a day when the media decided to only run good news. Think it was back in the 60s. Sure someone will fill us in in the comments lol 🙂

Sales dropped to 25% that day – people were only interested in bad news.

If we want the media to change, we have to change the media we consume.

The Internet offers an incredible range of alternative media platforms and resources – get out there and find out what’s on offer.

The way to stay in the know in the information age is to be in charge of the content you consume – careful in your choices.

This is a difficult change at first, because it forces you to really think about what you want to consume next, but it is one I guarantee you will be happy you made.

Monthly payments and lifestyle

It really doesn’t matter what you do for a living anymore, everything seems to be reduced to making a monthly income… and month end always seems to be around the corner.

We’ve created this artificial of month end and it ties us to this idea of time, and we always seem to be moving from one month end and round of bill paying, to the next.

Likewise, once we’ve achieved something, say medical insurance, having to decide to go without it feels like a sacrifice or loss, which in many cases causes shame and guilt and doubt and vulnerability about our perceived lack.

Once we’ve achieved something, we feel that that’s where we should be and stay, and so when we need to make choices about how to cut back, we find it very difficult.

And our monthly expenses just seem to be growing and growing.

We are very likely the first generation in many, that will do worse than our parents did

So many are chasing the American dream, and our fear of missing out (FOMO), and instant gratification cultures, drive vast volumes of people to incur debt they really shouldn’t require, to keep up with the Joneses now – because patience is a long forgotten art.

Instant Gratification

We live in a 30-second instant gratification culture… fast foods, drive throughs, 24-hour delivery… I was horrified to see one of our major stores open on Christmas Day last year in fact.

When you are used to getting everything at the speed of light, then any delay you experience, in achieving any desire, will feel like a failure.

One of the worst habits that conscious manifestation and the Law of Attraction gave us was to set deadlines for goals – every time you get to a deadline and haven’t achieved it, you land up feeling like a failure.

Feel like a failure enough times and you will land up wanting to throw yourself off a cliff.

Patience and divine timing are lost arts, but well worth practicing if you want peace of mind.

Both of these will take time, and the self discipline of repeated practice, until you get them right.

You will fail miserably in the beginning, but keep going, because once you’ve seen enough ways not to do it, you will start to find ways to do it.

You will feel immensely frustrated along the way – use the frustration to inspire you and push you forward. Let it make you hungry to solve this puzzle.

A little bit of patience – and a lot LESS expectation – will make the world of difference in how you see your life.

And it’s surprisingly good training for learning how to properly relax.

Fear Of Missing Out – FOMO

The last sideswipe that modern culture throws at us is the fear of missing out… get it on credit! Why wait?

Because debt drains you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I work with people all over the world, and the money thing is everywhere – and it impacts everybody in the same ways.

Whatever is worth having is worth waiting for, and you’ll enjoy it so much more when your inner voice is not running riot with worry and anxiety about how you are going to pay your bills, or find food for the rest of the month.

The money thing is real, and it’s hitting a lot of people – and a lot of people are committing suicide because of it.

You CAN miss out on the latest mobile phone or car, if it means that you don’t have to miss out on your life.

Yes, the purchase gives you instant gratification, but long term it only does more damage.

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 26: The Banker)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

26. The Banker

In the banker’s office at the village bank on the island of Allandon, the glassblower was just completing a loan application for renovations to his glass shop. He was about to sign when he noticed something peculiar about the final sentence.

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“What’s this?” he asked as he read the final line: “Warning: late payments will not lead to prosecution.

“Yes, what about it?”

“Well, it must be a typo. Surely you meant ‘…will lead to prosecution.’”

The banker smiled to himself for a moment. Then he said, “Do you want me to let you in on a little secret?”

“Sure,” said the glassblower.

“A while back many people were not making their monthly payments on time. They had every excuse in the book. So I had that line added to the bottom of the contract to prevent them from taking advantage of me. And so you’re right, it is a typo. The printer put in the ‘not’ by mistake.”

“Well, don’t you think you should change it right away?” asked the glassblower.

“Well, I was going to when it first came to my attention,” said the banker. “The first customer that saw the new contract pointed it out. But he thought it was my way of showing my trust in him. He promised that he wouldn’t let me down. I was too embarrassed to tell him it was a typo.”

“But then you didn’t change it.”

“I was planning to, but before I could get in touch with the printer, another customer also noticed it. She was amazed at the way I was willing to do business. She made quite a big fuss about it.”

“Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. What if the word got out that you were doing this?”

“Well, long story short—it did. She told a lot of people and suddenly they were coming to me, calling me ‘the trusting banker,’ and ‘the caring banker’. And certainly they would all be looking for that line in their contracts when they came to me for loans.”

“And so you were stuck.”

“You could say that—but I promised myself that I would fix it the next time someone was late with a payment.” After a slight pause the banker added, “That was twenty years ago.”

Whenever we want to ensure right action, whether it be in a business deal, teaching our kids, or holding a vision for humanity, we tend to automatically resort to discouraging wrong action. This is the persistent temptation we face living in a world of duality.

Proclaiming ‘Thou shalt not…’ followed by a threat of retribution has long purported to be what is required to maintain an orderly and harmonious community and world. The underlying assumption here is that there are universal ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ actions, an absolute code of what is good and what is evil. In many religious traditions, there exists a supreme Being who is the author and enforcer of an absolute code of moral conduct, the rules and commandments that we must follow in order to be saved. This supreme Being presides on our ‘day of judgment’ after our death, to determine if our cumulative actions in the world merit either eternal salvation or eternal damnation.

Ahem.

I’m not saying this state of affairs is impossible, but it has long puzzled me how an all-powerful and omniscient Being could ever find the motivation or desire to judge good acts from evil acts, since this Being is ultimately the source of all acts. The idea that this Being would somehow have a need for our obedience, or have any needs whatsoever in fact, doesn’t make any sense to me. It smacks of anthropomorphism—our tendency to give human attributes to something that is not human.

This ‘supreme Judger’ appears to me as a projection of our Ego Self onto the Being that I have called the Dao. When we come from the perspective of the Ego Self, then we tend to be deeply involved in matters of right and wrong, judgment and retribution. We are likely to believe that some among us are basically evil, not to be trusted, and if given the freedom to act from an inner compass will undoubtedly seek to harm others. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because in coming from an environment of mistrust and fear we continue to create mistrust and fear.

This perspective is only reinforced by the media, which sells copy and maintains ratings by clearly distinguishing the heroes from the villains in our society. It is easy to buy into it, as it can be comforting to know who the good people are and who the bad people are—especially since we consider ourselves to be on the side of good. And so naturally it appears more than obvious that we need to have some common form of morality to contain the potential damage coming from the bad guys.

The idea that we will be considered good if and only if we follow some universal code of moral responsibility towards others is very tempting, as it saves us the work of figuring out from the inside how we should act. But therein lies my firm objection, and why I take the opposite tack: I believe we have absolutely no moral responsibility to others. We do not ‘owe’ people respect, compassion, or charity. Of higher importance is that we actually feel that we have a choice.

Our true moral obligation, our path, our destiny, and also not coincidentally our greatest bliss, is to endeavor to find and be our true self. But this is not even a real obligation, it’s a choice we made that we have forgotten about, the choice to come into this world. If we owe other people anything it is to get to know ourselves better so that we can act from our connectedness while sharing the gift of our unique perspective. The closer we move to the center of our being, the more we become aligned with our freedom of choice, of real choice, not of choice based on compulsion or command. My experience of life has shown me that when I am free to act in accordance with my true self, my Dao Self, I act out of love. The love flows easily, and is genuine and empowering. When I am ‘loving’ as a result of some outwardly proscribed moral directive, the expression is always dry, stunted, and unenthusiastic.

What is morality but one person’s idea thrust upon another? No system of morality ever sponsored great love, compassion or true acceptance. All commands, orders, rules and imperatives come from the fear of the Ego Self. Even the greatest commandment of all, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ loses its essential power if it is taken as a commandment rather than as a proposal freely offered to consider. Enlightened masters who spoke powerfully about love such as Jesus understood that real love is a natural expression of our true self. Throughout our history the tendency of humans has been to misinterpret this call to love as a ‘you must do this’ rather than a ‘try this on’. I don’t believe it has ever been the intention of the truly enlightened masters to have their offerings hardened into mandatory moral codes.

When we stand behind a moral code we can become righteous about our own moral superiority. From on high, it is easy to condemn and judge others for what we have determined are ‘evil’ acts. But this judgment and condemnation is actually the lynchpin of the entire problem. Someone might say, “I believe that everyone should respect each other,” but in saying so they might feel justified in closing the door to respecting people who do not respect them. And so the person who most desperately needs respect and love—the one who cannot in a given moment respect and love others—does not receive it, and we all get stuck. It is only when we are able to move closer to our Dao Self that we get in touch with our authentic desire to respect others, out of the pure joy of expansion and expression of love. This respect is afforded even when—especially when—the other has no respect for us, because this is where the respect is most pressingly needed.

Consider the possibility that right and wrong are never absolute, and in fact we are all continually making it up as we go along, to create dramatic effect in the unfolding of the play called human life. In the old Spaghetti Westerns, we could tell the good guys and the bad guys apart, since the good guys wore the white hats and the bad guys wore the black hats. The difference in real life is that everybody thinks that they are the good guy. They really do. And do you know why they think so? Because they are. We are all good. Wars and fighting only occur between some good guys who have one idea of what is good and other good guys who have a different idea about what is good.

The sooner we see that good and evil is really a fabrication of the Ego Self, the sooner we will be able to take the next leap in consciousness, and come more fully from our Dao Self. When we do, we will gain an understanding that we are all fundamentally good, and when we are able to act authentically we can be trusted to exercise our free will in ways that will benefit others. It stands to reason: from the perspective of the Dao Self, we and others are the same. Coming from our Dao Self we would never harm the world because our Dao Self is the world.

No matter how ‘moral’ we consider ourselves to be, if we are still judging others for being less ‘moral’, then we are instantly pulled by our judgment out of the realm of our Dao Self and back into our Ego Self. For the time being, I think the best we can do to move things along is to realize that those who do ‘wrong’—that is to say, detrimental to others—are simply acting out of fear, and are unaware of their true nature. Rather than being condemned and castigated they need to be understood and accepted. The condemnation of evil should not be confused with the celebration of good. The emotional need to exact revenge by condemning people who have perpetrated crimes is the same as the emotional need behind the crime itself. We actually circulate divisive energy by overtly demonstrating our opposition to ignorance of self. And so to me, whenever I see on the news the hordes of people standing outside a prison, vilifying a man or woman who is to be executed for a heinous crime, I can only think that those people are projecting the very darkness that they are condemning.

The attempt to legitimize the separation of people as good and evil, worthy and unworthy is itself a denial of our unity and connectedness as human beings. As Khalil Gibran says,

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.

But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

And as a single leaf does not turn yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden knowledge of you all.

When we come from a place of oneness, judgment is pointless. We are captured by the joyful feeling that we are all in this together. Eventually it is possible to see that all acts, those we call good and those we call evil, are really on a continuum of actions all motivated by the same basic human desire—the desire for unity. The low point of this continuum is total ignorance of who we are and the high point is fully embodied knowledge of our true nature—as One. The acts that emerge from a knowledge of self try to arrive at unity by embracing diversity. Acts of charity, humility, and compassion are obvious attempts to unite with others. The acts that emerge from an ignorance of self tend to try to arrive at unity by suppressing or destroying diversity. The need to conform is a good example. So is jealousy, which stems from the desire to be united with another. Even the act of genocide is founded on an attempt to unify one’s race or culture—by killing people who are different.

Easy now. Let’s not misunderstand what is being said here. The assertion that there is no absolute good and evil does not mean that we need to consider all acts as the same. When we let go of judgment we are still left with the power of discernment. We know an act of kindness has a significantly different effect from an act of violence. We know from experience that the kind of unity that the Ego Self seeks inevitably tears us farther apart. But if we as witnesses of such acts can frame them not as evil but rather as simply ignorant, then it helps us to maintain a vision of ourselves and the other as One. From there we can see that if people knew more about who they were and what they were doing that they would be seeking to unify not out of a fear of being alone but out of a love of being One.

Of course as individuals we are not there yet. We are all at various stages or levels of awareness of our true self. And that is all well and good. Being at one place on the continuum of awareness is no better than being at another. Being self-aware is not ‘better’ than being ignorant. It simply is what is. For each of us I believe a time will come in our evolution when we will realize that our diversity is our greatest gift. It is actually what makes any worthwhile experience possible. And the easiest way to achieve unity without rejecting diversity is to act with the belief that there is already a unity underneath our differences. This, in all its shades and nuances, is what it means to act out of love.

I am not saying we ought to act this way. There is no ‘should’ in love. Love flows naturally. So rather than enforcing moral standards, informing each other what is right and wrong, we are better off trying to be gentle and accepting, creating a space that is big enough to allow each person to think, speak, and act in accordance with what they believe is good. The new conversation honors your personal morality based on your unique set of values and experiences. It does not support a fixed and universal morality since this can actually serve to hide you from your true nature. After all, if you follow rules that oppose your desires, how will you ever learn about your true nature? How will you ever come to face your own ignorance? It is only in a space where we feel we are allowed to show our ignorance, our darkness, that we become capable of dissolving our ignorance and seeing who we truly are. And as we go forward we become more able to help others discover the same thing about themselves—not out of some moral imperative, but out of the joy of expressing and expanding ourselves into the world.

The new conversation is a call to heal our darkness together. There is no one we need to look to but ourselves. There is no guru, no expert, no savior, because all of us have darkness. All of us need healing. As imperfect beings we will create the space as best we can, a space without right and wrong. We only need to be authentic, and speak the truth of our desires. In an environment where we no longer feel the need to suppress our true desires in favor of the ‘right’ way to think, speak and act, we are likely to enjoy a far more empowering sense of ourselves as beings of pure love.

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Consciousness

How To Deal With Society Pressuring You To Get Married

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When I was younger, I would think about the concept of marriage and get overwhelmed with emotions: excitement for the potential to find my soulmate and to share my life with that person, fear of knowing that this may never happen, and panic in considering what legally binding myself to another person truly means. As a child, I simply assumed I’d get married, because that’s what society considers “normal.” As I got older, my perception changed and I started noticing that most of my peers shared one thing in common: All of them wanted to get married. This seemed backwards to me, as I couldn’t possibly know if I wanted to get married before I met someone I wanted to be with forever. Marriage has become a social norm; society expects you to get married and to do so before the age of 30 (sometimes even younger depending on what culture you’re from). This belief system puts significant pressure on couples, creating “the marriage trap.”

How Marriage Became a Social Norm

When it all boils down, marriage is a legal contract. By choosing to marry your partner, you are legally required to be committed to that individual and typically to share your assets. Contracts are usually made for a limited time period and designed with an “if you do this… then I will do this…” mentality. If your relationship is so strong that you know, deep down, that you will be with your partner for the rest of your life, then why should you require a binding contract to verify your bond?

According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of people in Western societies get married before the age of 50. A shocking 86% of young people in the U.S. believe that when they get married, it will be for life (literally, “until death do us part”). Many may view this number as high, but I perceive it to be surprisingly low. If you’re about to commit to being in a relationship for your entire life, shouldn’t you be 100% positive it will last forever? In Western societies, people between the ages of 25 and 35 are heavily pressured to get married and have kids. People seem to be more concerned about accomplishing this goal than they are about potentially marrying the wrong person. It’s no wonder approximately half of the married couples in the U.S. end up divorced.

What is the Marriage Trap? 

If you’ve already decided that you will get married in the future, you’re willingly creating expectations about your present and/or future partner. You could currently be with the “right person,” but because you’ve constructed a timeline for your relationship (when and if you want to get married, have kids, etc.), you’re putting added stress on your partner and yourself. Society will also pressure you into marrying your partner after you’ve been together for a certain length of time. If you’re not married within that timeframe, people assume there’s something wrong with your relationship. The weight of all of these expectations can make couples feel like they’re approaching an ultimatum, forcing them to choose between getting married or breaking up. If you’ve felt these societal pressures or you’re struggling to decide whether or not to marry your partner, you may have been sucked into the marriage trap.

How People Typically Decide Whether or Not to Get Married:

  1. Allowing your partner to make the decision: the easiest way to avoid your feelings.
  2. Letting love guide you: If you’re referring to self love, then that’s perfect. However, if you’re assuming that your love for an individual will fix all of your problems, you have a problem.
  3. Fear: of losing that person if you decide you don’t want to get married, of what others will think of you if you don’t get married, or of eventually growing apart from your partner instead of together.
  4. Ego: Your ego says you need to get married because society tells you to do so, allowing societal pressures to force you into an unwanted relationship.
  5. Physical attraction: A strong sex drive doesn’t always equate to love.
  6. Intuition: Following your gut can often provide incredible insights; however, if you’re not self-aware it may be difficult for you to listen to guidance from your Higher Self.
  7. Brain: Your brain may convince you you’re in love with someone, when you’re actually in love with the idea of that person. Just because your partner checks off all of the appropriate “boxes” you used to theorize your ideal partner, doesn’t mean you’re in love with them either.
  8. Biological clock: It’s typically easier for women to conceive before the age of 40, so they’ll often have biological children with the wrong mate instead of adopting children or taking the risk of not having children with the right person.
  9. Comparing your partner to other people: One study found that our dating choices are “98% a response to market conditions and just 2% immutable desires. Proposals to date tall, short, fat, thin, professional, clerical, educated, educated, uneducated people are all more than nine-tenths governed by what’s on offer that night.” This essentially means that most people will choose a partner by comparing them to other potential partners instead of truly following their heart.

What We Can Learn From the Marriage Trap

One study found that being married is 20 times more important to a person’s well-being than their income and 13 times more important than owning a house. That same study found that marriage makes people happier than religion and money. Although marriage has the power to form a strong, loving bond between two people and provide them with happiness, I don’t think that’s the underlying message we should take from these studies.

I would argue that it’s simply love that’s making these people happy and that they can find that same love within themselves, even if they’re single. Ultimately, it all comes down to self-awareness and self-love. You need to know yourself and love yourself before you can fully love another. Once you develop more self-love and a deeper understanding of your fundamental needs as an individual and in a partner, you’ll be prepared to choose a life partner (if you even want one).

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I’m not suggesting you should never get married, nor am I against monogamy. I’m simply saying you should avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and others and that you need to look within instead of outwards before making “the marriage decision.” Many people view marriage and love as synonymous and they forget that they can fuel that same love within themselves; you don’t need to be married to be happy and feel love. However, more and more people are realizing this and choosing not to get married. This begs the question, are we meant to be with only one person for the rest of our lives? I don’t think there’s a clear answer to this question because it differs for every person. The only thing I believe to remain true is that regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship, you have the ability to find everlasting love within yourself.

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

– Rumi

Inspired by: The Marriage Decision: Everything Forever or Nothing Ever Again on Wait But Why

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Awareness

5 Great Benefits Kids Can Get From Yoga

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Yoga has a number of mind and body benefits, and those benefits have also been seen in children.

  • Reflect On:

    Should schools be incorporating yoga programs into their curriculum?

Kermit the Frog has a wonderful song – “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” And kids love this song because they can relate. After all, it’s not easy being a kid today either. More and more is asked of them in school; they are hurried from one activity to the next; homework begins at much earlier grade levels now, and then there are all of the digital distractions that top off fully exhausting days and evenings.

It’s Beginning to Show in the Classroom

Teachers are frustrated because attention spans seem to be so short and because they have to be entertainers if they want to engage learning in their classrooms. Parents worry that their kids won’t pass the standardized state tests that often decide promotion to the next grade. So, they cart their kids to tutoring sessions, among all of the sports practices. Kids just don’t have any non-stimulated time, and that is a huge concern. This is where yoga comes in.

Yoga – the Balance Every Kid Needs

Amidst the flurry of activity, there should be time for all kids to turn off their devices and tune out their activities and school work. There should be time for non-competitive physical activity, for some quiet reflection, and for the opportunity to enhance their ability to focus.

These are the big benefits of yoga and this is what kids can get when they learn and practice it.


  • Become aware of their breathing and the connections between deep breathing and the body’s feel.
    Techniques and games that foster this connection serve to improve focus, reduce stress, and actually cause the release of healthy hormones.


  • Balance: Techniques that focus on balance do far more than just develop control over the physical body. They assist increases in attention in natural ways, rather than through medication, which doctors are so quick to prescribe. As kids focus on a balance pose, they also clear their minds, thinking only of what their bodies are doing.

  • Kids have lots of natural flexibility – something that we adults lose as we grow older.  Doing stretching exercises increases flexibility, a flexibility that forms in muscles and joints and allows them to “yield.” Football players who practice yoga, for example, have far fewer serious injuries because they have developed flexibility. If flexibility exercises can become habitual with kids, they will perform better in any sport.

  • Focus and Awareness: A typical yoga exercise for young children is to have them close their eyes and focus on sitting just as a statue. They must become aware of all parts of their body in order to keep them still and stiff, and focus on keeping them that way. Then, when a short period of time is over, they are told to relax and just start laughing as hard as they can – a great release of energy and stress. They come to understand that they have control of their bodies and of their minds, and with this understanding comes confidence.

  • Relaxation and Meditation: This may be the most important benefit of yoga for young children. The early exercises of tightening and then relaxing muscles, of holding poses and moving from one pose into another, all take the mind away from the “harried” nature of their lives and have a strong calming effect. Meditation on their mats can occur as they sit in a pose or lie flat. In both instances, children can be guided to place their thought on a single thing – maybe a favorite pet or color.

Gradually, additional visualization can be added to meditation. One small private school has an assembly each morning. Children are on mats and perform yoga poses and exercises to music. Then, the “quiet” time begins. As they sit on their mats, softer music is played and they are asked to think of one thing they want to accomplish that day and to see themselves doing it – a small activity that inspires.

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Yoga for kids is all about developing habits of body and mind working together to create a more balanced lifestyle and develop great study habits. When these habits are instilled early, they tend to “stick” better.

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