This week, I published my 101st podcast for Aging Like a Guru – Who Me? That’s a pretty cool accomplishment. I feel good about that. Now the question is, do I want to do more?
All sorts of thoughts rush in before I can even complete the question – do I want to do more? And the bottom line is this answer, “I don’t know. I’ll have to see what shows up!”
The dilemma that arises pits my judgments of myself based on accomplishments, productivity and proving myself worthy in the world, against my spiritual principles, which comes down to “be fulfilled in expressing love, joy, fun and only do what is infinitely pleasing!”
From a spiritual perspective, I can sometimes see myself as a Clean Slate, and, as well, this moment is a clean slate. I can choose to bring to this moment whatever it is I want to bring into this moment. The only thing that exists in this moment is what I choose to bring into it. Discerning exactly what that is, would be tremendously helpful. And so the discernment process begins to answer a very simple question – what do I want to do?
You know as well as I do that that question has many levels and is highly complex, given all the domains within which we exist, karma and other external influences. How do I know what it is I want to do and know with certainty that I’m doing it for my own pure reason and nothing else? Truth is, I can’t.
To a large degree, life coaching is directed toward specific circumstances, wants and desires; for instance, the desire for a long term relationship, a healthier body, more money or a fulfilling career. Often the coach works within the problem-solving paradigm, brainstorming with their clients to find the best fitting assignments to assist the client in getting what they want. As effective as this is, looking into the bigger picture can be more valuable.
What we want in our current life – the one we experience in this moment, is in service to a more Universal Human Desire. My experience is that by unconcealing my Universal human desires and my existential reality – I live therefore I question my reality – I begin to engage more directly with my core, essential self. I’m then able to make choices that profoundly affect all areas of my life, concurrently. Having a thinking partner to distinguish all of this with me is super helpful and empowering to get me to my truth and nothing but my truth – So HELP ME JESUS!!!!
Here is an Example of What This Might Be Like
My client, Carolyn, has been working on some core issues for a very long time. As an amazingly courageous woman, our explorations always cut through veils of resistance, emotional debris, and beliefs that no longer serve her. Over time, she exercises and stretches herself in support of coming to a place of well-being that she never knew existed.
Carolyn starts out our most recent session in a big harrumph: “I’ve lost my customary defense against negativity. It’s making me feel depressed, and it’s scaring me. I’m losing my sense of ambition. I’m over sixty years old and I’ve got to continue to build my career, but I don’t even know what I want anymore. It’s unsettling. I don’t want to build my practice. I have nothing of value to offer. It’s all downhill from here. Heck, I don’t even know who I am. I have no intrinsic value.”
“What if this were true?” I asked, “that you have no intrinsic value?”
Carolyn closed her eyes and felt deeply into this experience. “It makes me feel depressed. My heart hurts and my body sags. I feel physical pain. It feels really uncomfortable.”
I was feeling into my own felt-sense of what it’s like to be without intrinsic value, and felt a similar experience to Carolyn. I acknowledged her and her experience, then asked again, “And what if you had no intrinsic value?”
Carolyn again went inside and disclosed: “I feel empty. . . . I feel nothing.” After a long pause, she exclaimed, “Wow, feeling this way, I don’t think I’ll ever want to do anything else ever again. I feel at peace. There’s no longing, no worry, no struggling; it feels wonderful. Stillness!” She allowed only a brief moment in this stillness before she went on, with some urgency, “How am I supposed to live life after feeling this quality of being? There’s no need to get anything done!”
I asked, “What is it that you think needs to get done?” Carolyn replied, “I should be effective, making money, be like everyone else. I should be connected, not a weirdo who sits around and meditates all day.”
I hear Carolyn connecting into her current, fear-based paradigm of should’s and shouldn’t’s. What I want for her, in this moment, is to perhaps create new pathways to this emerging paradigm she’s just beginning to acknowledge. Softly and slowly I speak, “Come back to that place of peace and stillness. What value does making money and being like everyone else have for you? How do these ways of being serve you?”
C: “I’m doing things that make me valuable to others. I’m afraid they won’t like me – that they won’t want anything to do with me if I don’t.”
R: “And if that’s true, that they won’t want anything to do with you, what will that mean?”
C: “It means that they will reject me.”
R: “And if that happens, that they reject you, then what?”
Carolyn laughs. “That will mean I have no intrinsic value,” she says. Then she sighs, relaxes back into stillness.
R: “Tell me what has intrinsic value to you? What’s important to you?”
C: “My husband Sean, he’s important to me. My grandchildren are very important to me. My work with my students is also really important to me. . . . Oh, so . . . . I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do. I don’t have to do things to try and please other people. I can create a life based on what I choose as meaningful – not what others choose for me!”
R: “And, as you say this, what’s it like for you in this moment?”
C: “I feel relaxed and still connected to my life. I can acknowledge and be in this state of peace and still function in the real world, doing what matters to me. This feels really good!”
Carolyn started out this session wanting to get more effective, more productive, and to focus on what’s hers to do, which in her mind was to get more clients, make more money, and make sure she is being appropriate in order to remain likable. When she began expressing a sense of depression, an unsureness or sadness, I picked up on the fact that something isn’t right. My experience is that we need to explore what’s not right, what’s missing, what needs to shift, so that Carolyn, all of my clients, and myself too, are in alignment with our heart and our sense of true intrinsic value.
What Carolyn did was quiet herself and discern what is true for her. Like most of us, she was thinking about herself, what to do and how to be, based on her context about herself, the world and the people in it. She was assessing based on what she believed to be of value to the world, such as being of service, caretaking, making money, being successful, and being powerful. Her strategy was to then figure out how to fit into those truths.
Questions that can arise within each of us – especially me in this moment: “How much money can I make without being considered selfish and inconsiderate? How much power can I have without being considered abusive? How much money do I need to make before I’m considered successful? What level of leadership do I need to attain before I am respected?” These are underlying conversations going on in our heads constantly. Only through mindful, intentional discernment can we realize the master we are serving.
Few of us are trained to be comfortable in this nebulous environment where our humanness and our spirituality meet, and to actually be in this arena. We talk about being spiritual but rarely are we aware of the experience of being it. It’s a pretty scary territory to navigate – at first.
Look at Carolyn’s experience. She found herself through the experiences of emptiness and nothingness only to settle into stillness and peace. After only a few moments of stillness she popped into worry: “How will I ever get anything done if I’m so content here, in this place?”
Carolyn is no small potato. She is a high functioning, highly educated, and highly trained individual in the field of art, humanity, and spirituality. I’m like Carolyn in many ways. We are both at the threshold of a new frontier. The fact of the matter is, in every session we have had together, Carolina traverses another undiscovered territory of awareness. She keeps leveling up! As she does so, she becomes more fluent in the languaging of her own being. I’m not meaning the verbal languaging but the nonverbal experience of being, which has gone unacknowledged for maybe lifetimes. And the great thing for me is that with each of my clients as they level up, so do I! We all traverse this territory of our human-spirits together. Sometimes we do this consciously and sometimes it’s unconscious, but we are doing it just the same.
So, to summarize this: Knowing and living in my intrinsic value is challenging work. Doing only what I love and that which is infinitely pleasing goes against everything I’ve been taught. Figuring out what is infinitely pleasing is just one aspect of living in peace, love, and my essential nature.
Stay tuned for what’s next in the continuing saga of how the paradigm shifts!