eckhart tolle

Lessons in Letting Go

I have been given a rare opportunity: I have been working with my replacement at work for the last couple of weeks. This sort of thing of thing does happen of course, but I was pleasantly surprised when I learned this was to be the case for me. Yesterday I realized that I was being given precious gifts in this transition to a new job, new living situation and new state to explore. I was being given lessons in how to let go of things.

Historically I have had the mindset "Never forget what they did to you" (whoever they are). Eckhart Tolle says "All things are small things because all things are transient." Everything changes...this is the nature of the Universe. When we choose to hold on to things, we hold ourselves back.

Eckhart relates a story of two monks walking on a long journey. It had been raining and the road was very muddy. The walking by a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud would have ruined her beautiful silk kimono. One of the monks immediately picked up the young woman and carried her to the other side. Five hours later, the other monk couldn't stand it anymore. He said to the first monk, "Why did you pick her up and carry her across the road? You know we monks aren't supposed to do things like that!"

The first monk said, "I put the girl down hours ago. Are you still carrying her?"

When I first found out that the school district I am working for was ending my contract, I was told they hired someone within the district. The full implications did not sink in for me right away. After all, if there was someone in the district with credentials to do my job, why hire me through a staffing agency?

As I got to know my replacement, it quickly became clear that not only was she not already employed by the district, but she had been living in another state.

A few days ago, when I was talking to my recruiter at the staffing agency and I asked her if midyear transitions like this were unusual. She told me that every once in a while a district will hire somebody from within for a staffed position. I confirmed that the agency had been told this new hire was from within district and then corrected what my recruiter had been told. I said, "I don't know how the contract with the district works, under what circumstances they can break the contract, or what, if anything you want to do with this information, but the person taking over my position was definitely not already in the district."

My recruiter sounded thoughtful, and thanked me for the information...and then I let it go.

It is not my responsibility to police the circumstances under which my move is occurring, so I let it go.

Another opportunity for this lesson came last week. I had a parent call me, informing me she had not received information from an ophthalmologist's office regarding an appointment I had made for her daughter. She asked if I told the office to mail the information to the town I live in, to an address I was unfamiliar with. I informed this parent that I had given the office the address that was listed in the school records, an address in another town.

"Oh, we don't get mail there" she told me plainly.

Frustration arose in me quickly. I called the ophthalmologist's office and asked them to send the same information to the new address I had been given. The office is three hours away, so this was not a simple case of running to the office to pick up the paperwork.

A few days later, I got a call from a teacher who was meeting with the parent. The parent was concerned because she has still not received the information, and she did not know any of the details of the appointment. I informed the teacher that I sent the parent a letter detailing the appointment...I sent it to the address that does NOT receive mail.

I had gotten myself pretty worked up by this time. I worked very are to make arrangements for the appointment and ensured clear and concise information was communicated, and things were falling apart!

What good does it do me to hold onto this frustration? I have done my best to make this situation easy for this parent, and I need to rest assured I have given my best effort, and let go of the outcome.

Don't let myself be held fast by a situation I cannot control...let it go.

Yesterday I noticed I was very anxious most of the day. There is still a lot of things that I need to show my replacement how to do, and make sure she is as prepared as possible when I leave.

Most of the day, I was edgy and irritable, because things weren't happening fast enough, and as of today, I have two days left to impart the whole of my knowledge about this district and this caseload.

Then, like a lightning bolt, it hit me!

I didn't have anyone to guide me when I started in this position. One might think some basic training in the software used by the district would be in order, policies, etc... I had none of it. I had to figure it out on my own. I have been laying a solid foundation for my replacement to jump in and work with the kids. Why, when I am moving across the country, would I hold on to these feelings like I will never show her everything I want her to know before I go?

She will be just fine. She will do a good job with the kids, and she will figure things out.

I need to let go.

I am often surprised with the ways I am blessed with the lessons I learn. With all the opportunities to learn this lesson recently, it seems to be a pretty important one for me.

I worry that I may have missed other lessons recently that are just important because I wasn't paying attention, but I need to let go of that too.

Every Day is a New Day

Today on my morning drive, I was noticing the extraordinary beauty of the landscape. I wondered if I had just been oblivious to it lately or if today was really exceptional for some reason. The thought entered my mind "It's a new day."

I was immediately reminded of that scene in Sister Act 2 where Whoopi Goldberg is preaching to her students about the fact that it was a new day.

Yesterday, significant things happened for both me and my wife in our respective lives. I was feeling so blessed that each of us are manifesting things to move our individual lives and thus our life together in the direction we desire.

With a joyful sigh, I thought, "It's a new day."

My reverie was gently broken by a thought somewhere way in the back of my mind... every day is a new day.

Yes! How could I have been so asleep? So mind identified? EVERY day is a new day!

When we ground ourselves in the present moment, each moment is new and each moment is an opportunity for awakening.

The old adage "SSDD, Same Shit Different Day" is a creation of the ego. This keeps us mind identified and unconscious.

My still mind identified outlook on life may be different today because of news from yesterday, but the essence of who I am has not changed.

Though our life situations may have changed, my wife and I are still the same physical forms embodying the universal consciousness as we were yesterday, last year or at the moment of our births into this lifetime.

Feeling so blessed for these brief moments of satori!

Every day is a new day...with countless opportunities to live right here, right now!

What The Hell's Wrong With You?

Do you ever get out of your head just long enough to metaphorically (or actually) look at yourself in the mirror and say "What the hell is the matter with you?" Yesterday, I spent eleven hours at Starbucks, working on my masters paper.

Today I've been at Starbucks for nearly four hours, and all I've accomplished to that end is to find a list of sources from when I first started a lit review...four years ago.

What else have I been doing?

Writing in my updates on a little used laptop, and watching "The Office" on Netflix.

I am full on pain body today.

Today, I am suffering.

Remember the words of Tony Robbins: Pain in life is inevitable. Suffering comes when a person feels powerless to change the situation causing the pain.

But I question why I am suffering...

Sure, I've got money challenges right now, work stress, living situation stress, away from family...sometimes, that's life.

There has to be something more, something deeper.

What if I actually enjoy suffering?

Doesn't make sense, does it? No sane, rational person would enjoy suffering.

Tapping into Eckhart Tolle's ideas on the ego, the picture becomes clear. The ego has one survive. It will do anything it can in order to Eckhart says, sometimes even killing its host.

It seems that somewhere in my life, I began playing a victim role. I actually remember that going back to when I was three or four years old...I've had a LOT of time to perfect the role.

The thing is, I've let that role control my behavior and actions at times. That role helped me stay small for most of my life. If things are going good, let's do some self sabotage, so we can REALLY feel that victim role again!

Time and time again, I have been told that I get in my own way...but if I don't, the victim role will fall away and the ego would eventually die, and...

Ah! The light of consciousness!

The ego cannot withstand it!

This quote from Hands by Jewel popped into my head this morning: "...and not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful and useless in times like these."

Like Eckhart says, there are no problems, only situations that must be dealt with. The mind, courtesy of the ego turns those situations into problems.

The mind is such an amazing tool, but most of the time we don't use uses us. Exposé sang Free Your Mind...the sentiment should be "free yourself." Your mind can fend for itself!

As the ramblings of getting out of this funk start to creep in, I take a look once again in the metaphoric mirror and say, "What the hell's wrong with you?"

The reflection smiles back and says, "Nothing. Why do you ask?"

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin: Colin Hay's Music and the Dichotomy that is me

Recently, on the drive to work, I was listening to Colin Hay's "Man at Work" album. In recent months, since buying the album, I find that I really connect with a lot of the lyrics. I will admit that I became familiar with Colin Hay by watching Scrubs. I thought "Waiting" was a beautiful song, and "Overkill" was pretty cool too. I was not familiar with the Men at Work version of the song. I guess that goes back to something my mother said often about me...I have strange gaps in my knowledge.

As I was singing along with "Waiting" that morning, I got choked up. As a music therapist, I've learned that one reason music is so powerful is because of the personal connection people can form with it. Hearing a certain song can instantly transport someone to a different time and place.

I have lost a lot of people close to me and music connects me to each of those experiences. "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan came on the radio when we were driving to be with my Dad after my Mom died. "It's Alright" by Huey Lewis and The News was on the radio when we were driving to my best friend Merry's memorial service and I will always think of my Dad's passing when I hear the Adagietto from Mahler's Fourth (a story for another time).

A lot of songs make me think of my beloved wife and everything we have been through in our short time together. "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin" is one of them.

Three weeks after I proposed to my wife, I lost my job. I had unknowingly, and very incorrectly tied my sense of self and self worth to my job...again, a story for another time. When another job did not present itself readily, I slipped into a deep depression. On top of that, my then bride to be took it upon herself to be the primary financial support for me and my children. I kept saying, "I'll make things right by you." She expressed her trust that I would.

I'll throw in a bit a lyric analysis here and there:"Any minute now, my ship is coming in...I'll keep checking the horizon..."

This reflects my sentiment of "I'll make things right by you" and as with other lines of this song, it expresses an assuredness of the wonderful things to come...something I forgot at times.

"And you say, 'be still my love, open up your heart, let the light shine in.'"

This is the voice of my wife. She was my biggest supporter and my strength through this difficult time. More than that, she says things like that to me frequently...fully embody your spiritual self...let your light shine!

"Don't you understand? I've already have a plan, I'm waiting for my real life to begin."

Here is where the dichotomy in my thinking kicks in...but I'll get to that later.

When I woke today, suddenly, nothing happened, but in my dream I slew the dragon...

So many days, waiting for call backs, hoping for interviews, searching for more job leads...wondering why my life was turning out as it was. I was born to do important things! I was called to a life of service and helping people...making a difference. Were those dreams on hold? Had they vanished altogether?

Further into the song we find "Just be here now, forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin"

Something else very similar to the things my wife often says. She is so tapped in to the Universal Wisdom. This woman that I am sharing my life with is truly one of the strongest people I have ever met. She has to be to withstand the torrent of emotions I bring to the table at times. She is also the kindest, most gentle life partner I could have hoped for. She reminds me, "be here, now." She sees through all the masks I have ever worn, and she still loves me. I could not have dreamed of a better woman to spend the rest of this lifetime with.

...and I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call. It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh very soon, it's just that times are lean.

I know my wife took a lot of flack from family and friends...asking when that next job was going to materialize. In her own sweet way, she didn't really give me a lot of details of those conversations.

Let me say again, she is one of the strongest people I have ever met.

In my moments of clarity and being tapped in myself, I kept saying, "Something BIG is about to happen! I can feel it!" Often she would say something like "That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!"

The she'd would be right there to support me when I hit another rough patch.

Here's the dichotomy in thinking...and this reminds me so much of the concept of "doublethink" that George Orwell discusses in 1984...the idea of saying one thing, but believing the exact opposite.

It also reminds me of something the ordained minister/college professor said during a religion class I took: "I believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God. At the same time, it is FULL of contradictions and inconsistencies."

For purposes of this post, my version is: Waiting For My Real Life To Begin is a beautiful song that connects with me on a very deep level because I relate the lyrics so closely to my own life...and yet the very title of it goes against every belief about how to live life.

Do you read Eckhart Tolle?

The ideas he shares about present moment awareness...truly life changing. The ideas are not new as he admits, but his method of delivery resonate with me. You can find parts of talks he gives on YouTube too.

His book The Power of Now reminds us that ALL we ever have is the present moment. How many times have you said, "I'll be happy when I drive this kind of car" or "When I make this amount of money, I'll be set!" Maybe you think a house, or a baby or new clothes will make you happy...the list goes on.

I know I've done that...hung my happiness on material possessions, or money or relationships.

You can't wait for life to begin. It's happening, right now.

The job that I found took me 1200 miles away from my family, for at least an academic year. Yes, there are breaks, but it is certainly the longest I have been away from my wife too. Sometimes this doesn't seem like my real life. I've thought, "I will be so much happier when I am closer to my family!" I realize of course the error in that thinking.

I believe happiness is the awareness of being connected to the whole of humanity. Realizing that we are all spiritual beings and we're here to help each other out. Joy, lightness, ease, all come from staying rooted in the present moment.

Just be here now, forget about the past...

I try to live in the present moment as Eckhart suggests...that is a work in progress for me. Being in this place, in this highly spiritual place that I have been led to has clarified things for me. Some of the things I used to think we're important, really aren't. Each day, I try to live a life of service; a spiritual life. I remember one of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama's favorite prayers: "Guide me and heal me, so that I may be of greater service to others."

On a clear day, I can see, see a very long way.