Thoughts – Hold on Loosely

Are my thoughts a habit of mind that I acquired as I grew up?  Were they planted by my family . . . cultivated and nurtured by my peers, experience and education?  Or are they “closer to being instincts” as Robert Wright proposes in his book Why Buddhism Is True?  A classic conundrum – nature vs. nurture.

Wherever they’re born, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing I am my thoughts.  I am not.

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it.  It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts that cause suffering.  Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring.  A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to.” – Byron Katie

All those stories I tell myself and others about who I am, what I know, are just that – stories.  Believing my own stories, that drama; the spectacle – creates suffering.  Letting go, releasing my expectation that a certain something must happen, brings a relaxed sense of calm.

Holding tight to the story – attaching to it as Byron Katie says; brings resistance – and ultimately suffering.

I have a choice.  Calm, relaxed awareness – or resistance and suffering.  What will I choose today?


“To me the ego is the habitual and compulsive thought processes that go through everybody’s mind continuously.  External things like possessions or memories or failures or successes or achievements.  Your personal history.” – Eckhart Tolle


Am I Willing to Be Misunderstood?

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


When I stop “trying” to be understood and let things be as they are – an interesting alchemy occurs.  First, an immediate tension of wanting to be right . . . to be heard, sweeps over me.  The committee in my head gets agitated – yeah; cause it’s all about me right?!

When I’m able to be still for even a minute, the tension eases.  I relax and acceptance creeps in.  Like magic – stress, tension and annoyance seem to dissolve.

I was reminded recently that I get the honor of learning lessons over and over.  Like an onion, I peel away the layers; discovering subtle nuances in each – that remarkably resemble each other, but are not.

Changing my behavior begins with awareness.  I must be willing to see things upside down and backwards.

My yoga instructor shared about letting go and acceptance.  Hearing her personal lesson that “having to be right” sometimes showed up as the “need to be understood” – and that both can interfere with accepting what is . . . nudged me sideways.  That these two concepts could be connected was novel to me.  Could this be one of those subtle layers?

Stepping out and being willing to be misunderstood is an aspiration of mine.  In some ways I’m quite capable.  In others – I’m finding not so much.  Without awareness I don’t even see the obvious.

Today I have a new awareness.  Now it’s time to make this wondrous shift occur more often than not.  Not easy, but do-able.  When I find I’m explaining myself – when that sweeping need to have someone hear me – know me – get me, shows up . . . I pay attention.  Sometimes I can stop myself and allow that magic moment of stillness to happen; sometimes I wade in knee deep – sometimes I bloviate.

Every now and then I’m privileged with a meeting of minds.  Occasionally I find a precious character who not only gets me but builds on what I say; taking my thoughts or concepts to a higher level.  These conversations are electrifying.

More often my words land with a thud – or worse, return a contrary and obstinate response.  This is when trying to clarify my position only creates friction.  This is when I get to practice my new awareness.

The testing ground of my aspiration – am I willing to be misunderstood?

Taking another step outside my comfort zone.