Friday, June 27, 2008

Stay In The Classroom

In my last post, I talked about the need to get quiet and spend time with ourselves. For months after Deb died, after my son was sleeping, I would just sit quietly with myself on the couch and listen to my body and what it was trying to tell me. You might want to read my article on Focusing To Heal to understand what I'm talking about. And yes, pain is a signal that your body wants your attention! We do well to heed such strong signals. We need to listen, not run away or drown them out.

Tonight I'd like to give some of Guy Finley's perspective from his wonderful book, The Secret of Letting Go. He explains the necessity of sitting with our unhappiness and learning what it has to teach us. After I was several months into bereavement and was feeling terrible, I knew that life was trying to teach me something. I wanted to learn the lesson! And I didn't want to take months and months to learn it.

[from pages 99-102]:

Nothing keeps us more aware of a problem than our struggle to forget it. Listen to what truth is trying to tell you about your strengths instead of listening to your weakness tell you where to hide. The most powerful force in the world for real self-rescue is your own awakened state. Mechanical and unconscious self-defeating behaviors are no match for this higher self-awareness because its strength comes from inner light. Light always cancels darkness. Only what is wrong with you wants you to forget what is wrong with you. What is right with you knows that the only thing that is wrong with you is that you don't know what is wrong — and that is why you stay pained.

Whenever we bury any unhappiness, we also put out of sight the cause of it. Each crisis is trying to teach us that there is a lesson within it if only we will stay in the classroom. Here is a glimpse of the freedom that awaits you if you will dare to remember yourself when everything in you wants to forget and run away.

By consciously staying with the awareness of your unhappiness, whatever it may be, you will discover one day to your grateful amazement that the pains and aches of this life aren't in you. That is correct. All of our unhappiness lies hidden in our ideas about who we are and how life should treat us.

The lesson of any painful emotional collision isn't in the crash itself, even though this is what we want to believe. With this convenient answer all we have to do, psychologically speaking, is blame the other driver, get a new car, and drive a different road. This kind of thinking only keeps us crashing with life. What each collision is trying to teach us is that the only thing wrong in our life is our current driver, who says he knows the way home when he obviously does not.

How to Change the Life You're Giving Yourself

We meet life, with all of its complex relationships, through what we know. Each daily event, with its dozens of unsuspected twists and turns, challenges us to come up with our best answers. Once our most suitable answer is at hand, We launch it and ourselves into action and watch to see what happens. With each situation, this challenge and response process is repeated over and over again until the condition resolves itself for us, either favorably or not.

The point being made here is that at any given moment we always do what we know. This may seem very obvious, but with closer examination, especially in light of the fact we wish to elevate ourselves and what we are getting from this life, we will discover something very astounding. Read the next three sentences very carefully. I have separated this trio of important ideas for ease of reading, but they are very much connected to each other. Each higher idea leads to the next one, and when they are absorbed all together, they will tell you a great secret.

Before you can get anything different from this life, you must first do something different.

Before you can do anything different with your life, you must first know something different.

Before you can know anything different, you must first suspect and then confirm that it is your present level of understanding that has brought you what you now wish you could change.

Now let's reverse the order of these right ideas so that we can see how they work from the other way around.

Until you know something different, you cannot do anything different.

Until you do something different, you will not get anything different.

And until you really get something different from your life, you cannot know what you have missed and how much more there is to understand.

Here's the point: trying to change what you get from life without first changing what you know about life is like putting on dry clothes over wet ones and then wondering why you keep shivering. You must stop trying to change what you are getting for yourself and go to work on changing what you are giving to yourself.

It is vital for you to realize that life has not held back its riches from you. The truth be known, which it will be, you have been held back from real life by a false nature that thinks life is meant to be suffered through, and that all there is to insulate it from a harsh world is what it can win and possess for itself. While there is no denying our world is becoming more and more cruel, there is also no denying that we are the world. Neither our individual world nor the global one can change until the connection between what we experience and who we are is no longer denied. This is why we must have a new knowledge. Spiritual knowledge isn't something mysterious or out of this world. In fact, spiritual understanding is the most important and practical knowledge a person can possess. It is ultimately what we know about ourselves, about who we really are, that determines the quality of our life.

The truth is, we cannot separate our answers from our actions and our actions from their results. They may appear to be individual in their operation because they often occur at different times, but they are really one thing. Intellectually we already know this important concept, but its deep significance hasn't yet become clear. We touched on this earlier. Let's look once more at the old adage, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Here again we can see yet a new significance in this New Testament teaching. What you sow is seed or, in this metaphor, your knowledge. What you reap is the crop, or your results. This spiritual knowledge shows us the great importance of reconsidering what we think we know. Life is trying to reach us and teach us, through our experience of it, that we need new and true answers. These higher answers serve as a special kind of personal shelter that effortlessly keeps out what is harmful and keeps in what is healthy and life-giving. That is its nature.

To elaborate on what Guy has explained, we need to expose ourselves to many different perspectives on grief and grieving. As we learn more, we can do more and become more. We can heal the pain and thrive again. But it starts with different perspectives. And here's a perspective that will likely hit you right between the eyes:

See the perfection where the seeming imperfection seems to be
-- Lester Levenson

When I first read that a couple of weeks after Deb died, I wanted to strangle Lester! "Seeming imperfection?" Hello??? But that perspective opened something up inside me and paved the way for the long road to my recovery.

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