Always We Hope — Lao Tzu

tree fort by Tim CarlAlways We Hope — Lao Tzu

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.

Abide at the center of your being.

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More Than Just Your Body…

Light Through Trees by Tim CarlThink of your body and mind as very separate and different than “You.”  You are not really the physical body or the thoughts of your mind. You are something more. The mind and body change, but there is something inside you that remains “You.”

This is an important idea to grasp, because there is no way to achieve true peace and joy through the body and mind. To do this, the key will be to gain control over both your mind and body, as they have a tendency to want control — and normally they have it!

There are at least three rationale why you are not your mind or body: a) Our unique characteristics get expressed through unique outlets such as, art, philosophy, etc.; b) the mind and body decay overtime, but You have always been You; c) each and every molecule of your body is replaced roughly every 7 years — that is, the molecules that made up your body and mind seven years ago, are no longer with You, but yet you remain You.  I think point ‘c’ says it all for me.  This is a really big deal that cannot be understated.

You might think that joy and peace come through the body and mind. Nope. Your mind and body only live to survive, and once survival is assured, they actively seek out ways to maintain that survival and to have some fun along the way. That is not peace and joy.

Generally, the body wants to sit and not exert itself and the mind wants to wander in its made up world of the past and future.  They both also, desperately, want to keep you away from the You. Why? Think of the mind and body like a small puppy that has no Master. Life is great for the puppy if it has food, can play all it wants, and gets all the attention. It does not want a Master. But it needs a master to become anything more than just a wild dog. In the case of the puppy, even if never had a master, it might end up with a relatively “happy” life, but it will not have peace and joy because it has no eternalness. But you are no puppy. Within You there is something that is eternal, and has eternal influence and impact. The mind and body know this, but this is a threat to their control. They know that You are their rightful Master — they just want to keep you distracted long enough that you don’t ever exert your control over them.

So, how do you gain control?  Easy, train your body to do Your will and control your mind’s ability to wander. Easier said than done? Maybe, but start out slow:

Body: Wake early, eat at regular times, do not allow your body to dictate how / what / when you eat, exercise at least 1 hour a day –- pushing yourself when your body says it wants control (for example, when your body says let’s cut off 5 minutes from this run, don’t listen –- btw, it will do this often.).  Meditate 15 minutes a day.  During the meditation exert control over your body. For example, when you have a scratch, don’t scratch it. When you have an itch, don’t itch it. Your body will react badly to this at first. It knows what you are doing and will send out a sharp pain in your side, an itch to your nose, a hunger pain to your stomach to regain control. Don’t be tricked!

Mind: One method to train your mind is to complete the hardest items that you need to accomplish today, first. Focus on these items with single-mindedness. That is, if you are doing homework for Spanish, let’s say, just focus on the task –- do not think about what you need to do next, or about calling your friends, or what grade you might get on the upcoming Spanish test, or how much you dislike Spanish and homework, etc. Your goal is just to do the homework. That is it. Your mind will want to think about other things. Remember it wants to regain the control. Your body will sense some weakness and jump in to, saying ‘you need to get a snack’, or ‘You are so tired, you deserve a nap.’  Or, the mind and body join forces and try and convince you to put off this awful homework, because you could always do it later, and besides, you will probably do OK on test, and everyone else isn’t studying as hard as you are… etc. Acknowledge these thoughts as you might acknowledge someone walking by you on a street, but let them pass by and continue on with the homework.

The mind and body will test you. They will not go quietly into submission. You will need to be strong. You will need to be in control. You will fail in your quest, sometimes. That is fine. But if you keep trying, you will succeed. You will gain control over your mind and body, and during this process you will start to taste the joy and peace that can only come through the unique You.

Likes and Dislikes

Stone by Tim Carl

The mind is a funny thing — it will try and trick you. And the more you succumb, the more it takes control. Sounds like a conspiracy? Think about your mind like a little puppy. The puppy wants to tear things up, eat garbage, snap at heels, bark as loud and as often as it wants. If you don’t train your puppy and give it guidelines, it will often become unruly, unwelcome, and often vicious. If it runs the show, it will make those around it miserable.

Here are some exercises to get your mind trained.

1) Eat foods you don’t like, but that you know are good for you. Spinach? Eggplant? Fish? Tofu? Eat the food until you enjoy it. Try different recipes. You will enjoy it eventually. Really.

2) Do not hit the snooze alarm. Get up when the alarm goes off.

3) Become more accepting. Listen to folks that you don’t agree with, or even like. Work on this by listening to radio programs / TV hosts that really get under your skin. Take the offending person’s point of view and defend it to someone, sincerely.

4) Become less sensitive to what you might call “petty annoyance.” When someone is doing something that annoys you (like chewing with their mouth open), gain control over yourself and see if you can make the situation palatable, if not even enjoyable. What is the sound of chewing like? Think about how amazing it is that we can chew, that food can be broken down so quickly and efficiently. Find a way to like something about the “offending” person.

Gain control over your mind by gaining control over your likes and dislikes. If you do, you will become more happy, healthy and balanced.