Sunday, July 28, 2019

Afraid to ask

I recall an incident when I was two years old, that taught me a lesson that effected the rest of my life.

Mom had just changed my diaper, and I was playing in the sunshine on the floor of the living room. After a short time, I realized I was thirsty. So, I went over to my mother, who was working hard at scrubbing out a roasting pan. You know how hard and frustrating that can be. But, at that age, I didn’t know.

So, I waddled up to my mother, tugged on her smock, and asked for water. She nudged me away with her knee and asked me to wait a minute. Of course, I had no idea what a minute was, so I waited a long time – all of about 10 or 15 seconds – and went back and tugged on her smock again.

“Water,” I insisted.

This time, her knee knocked me backward a couple of feet, and she screamed her frustration at me. I landed on my butt, utterly shocked and terrified. I began to cry hard. She told me to go away and leave her alone for a while. So, crying in confusion and fear, I wandered down the hallway and into a bedroom.

I was really scared and alone. I thought to myself, Daddy is at work, big brother Mike is at school. I realized I was alone with this very angry, large person. There was no one to hold me or comfort me. I didn’t know what to do.

So, I continued to cry loudly.

“You better stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about,” threatened the monster in the kitchen. That just made me more scared. I just couldn’t stop crying.

So, I crawled up on the bed, took a pillow and shoved a piece of it into my mouth. I buried my face in the pillow and repeatedly screamed my terror and helplessness into it, soaking it with my tears. I wanted to get away, and I didn’t know how.

Then something shifted in my mind. The pillow became me: The baby needing comfort. I held the baby in my arms and comforted it, rocking and talking to it.

“Chris, come in here,” Mom called from the kitchen.

I was afraid to go. I kept holding the baby, rocking it, comforting it. Me still sobbing, struggling to stop.

“Come in here now! Don’t make me come in there to get you,” she threatened again.

So, in my childish set of mind, I decided to protected that baby. I put it carefully on the bed, and I told it, “You’ll be okay here.”

Mom yelled again. I patted the baby Chris, and left it there on the bed. I went out to meet the dragon.

Thirty-six years later, I recalled that incident. I realized that I was a split personality. Somewhere inside me, there was a baby that had been left alone in safety and forgotten. I had been bravely fighting the good fight for decades, trying to protect that forgotten baby, still crying on the bed of my soul.

Today, age 65, that memory came back with a thud as I realized that, for the last 60-plus years I had been practicing the lesson I learned that day: It is frightening to ask. Don’t ask for anything. Make your own way in life. People don’t want to help. They are mean and scary, and you can never tell when they’ll turn on you.

This has been a life theme. I can tell you story after story about how I never asked for what I needed. I never got the help I needed because I never asked. And I always blamed it on other people. I felt that they really don’t care.  

Then, today, I watched a video about asking for help; and it all came back to me. The speaker said that everyone naturally wants to help. First, I recognized that in myself. I’m a good person. I have kept myself safe. And somewhere deep inside, I really wanted to help. But I was afraid to engage.

Then, I had to admit that others had the same feelings, perhaps different experiences, but the same sense of expecting others to know my needs, but never to take care of me or to help me.

And so, a new journey begins. I have to unlearn that old lesson. I need to let go of that two-year-old’s decision to avoid asking. I need to let go of that toddler’s distrust of others and fear of asking. 

I need to learn how to ask for what I want. I need to learn that skill of asking, and learn to do it effectively, so that I can get what I need, and others can feel good about helping me …. So, I can help others get what they need, and feel good about helping them. 

I was vulnerable, but now I’m a little less afraid. Now I have another thing to work on for a better me and a better life. And it only took a lifetime of lonely struggle. - Christopher 

Friday, July 26, 2019

What do you have in mind for your future?

If I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll only get what I’ve always got.
I see what is, and I dwell on it; so, I get more of what I’ve always had. Basically nothing special.
So, if I want the things that I love in my future, I need to change from living in what I have, and instead, live in the reality of what is coming. I envision what I love, and I hold that experience as though it already exists. I sit and think about the six-senses experience of that which I love: I see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, smell it … all within the power of my imagination.
Here’s the key: My brain doesn’t know the difference whether I’m really experiencing it or imagining it. It’s a real experience to my monkey brain in either case. In my brain, the mental-emotional construct is equal to the real experience … because either way, my experience is in my brain.
So, when I hold the construct in my brain and feel it in my body, it becomes my expectation. My brains starts looking for that reality in the real world. And we all know that, you see what you are looking for. If you buy a new car, you see that car everywhere. If you have a hammer, you see nails.
If I see myself having a good time having deep discussions with friends and students, I will see it. That is my future … not some wishy-washy hope or a weak continuation of what my life has always been. I’m going to travel to see all my friends and students, and sit with them in conversation about the reality of spirituality - my specialty, my podcast, and my book.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Itty-Bitty Healthy Eating Course

People think self-control is the most important thing for eating healthy.

For healthy eating, mindfulness is even more important than self-control. You can't control yourself if you aren't paying attention.

Most of us automatically respond to abdominal discomfort by stuffing something in our face. We get in a rush, and we aren’t paying attention. Then we feel guilty about it! We feel we failed and give up, and go ahead and eat anything. 

Imagine if we took a moment to recognize that feeling in your gut is something else. "Wait! That's not hunger. That's thirst!" ... or gas, or that spicy thing you ate a little while ago, or that asshole who yelled at you.

So, once you decide it’s really hunger, then:

    - Only eat when hungry. 
    - Eat a single portion. 
    - Use a side plate instead of a dinner plate. 
    - Stop eating when satisfied. Eat until satisfied, about 80% full. 
    - Drink some water after the meal. 
    - Wait 30 minutes for it to settle. 

Contrary to the cultural norm, we usually only need to eat once a day. A cup of bulletproof coffee, a few nuts with water, or a glass of unsweetened almond milk will usually satisfy you during the day.

Fat helps you feel full and is great at curbing cravings.

Sugar causes cravings. It burns off your vitamins and minerals, which create cravings.

Sugar is also addictive, which creates more cravings. So, avoid sugar at all costs. Cold turkey is the best way, and it’s not easy. You’ll go through withdrawal for five days to three weeks.  It’s harder to avoid than you think. They put sugar in all processed food.

So, eat raw foods. Avoid or at least minimize grains and root vegetables, which are heavy in sugar, starches, and carbohydrates. Eat lotsa green veggies, which provide healthy slow carbs.

Congratulations! You graduated from the Itty-Bitty Healthy Eating Course! Now you know what to do. Be a mindful eater! –Christopher  

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Pure and innocent self

For most of my life I did not know my true self. I was full of pain and suffering. After one particularly heart-rending experience, I was so drained and empty that, when looking at others, I could see their suffering imprinted in their expressions and postures.

Years later, on a three-week solo retreat, the mask fell away at one point. I physically felt it melt off my face and body as the tension of holding it disappeared. That was a taste of my true self: innocent and pure.

I kept these memories in mind as I continued to practice the meditative life. I knew the real me was there, just under the veneer of fear and defensiveness. Every so often the true me resurfaced, building a strong sense of my real identity.

One day, while interacting with some people, I realized that they were all working hard to keep up their masks, but that they could relax just a little bit, just for a few moments, if I surrendered my own mask. Their spirit fairly cried out for me to take the lead. When I became that pure innocent self, their whole demeanor responded. They changed before my eyes, became softer and more peaceful in tone and behavior.

In recalling that moment, I experienced again the courage it took for me to give up the hard shell that covered my tender self. I felt the fear and simply gave it up. While nothing in the room had changed, when it fell off, almost everyone just turned toward me and smiled softly. They didn’t realize that anything had changed, but through their behavior they followed the warm vibe. A most extraordinary experience. –Christopher