2-14-21 Real but Not True

Real But Not True

Our life journey consists of an ever-changing landscape. Sometimes easy going and other times a bit rocky, or downright difficult if not impassible. I met my impasse in the last part of my addiction. I had nowhere to go but down and I was already almost underground.

After getting my feet under me a bit, with some help from others who had trod the same path and knew the way, I had the blessing (though at times it seemed like a curse), to begin a journey that went inward. A trip of self-examination that was eye opening and very difficult at times. I had never really looked at myself as the main difficulty in my life. I had always blamed others or circumstances or bad luck or the unknown for my misery. It just seemed like life was a lot of subtle unhappiness, with moments of elation or despair. 

It was like trying to build a house without any experience, plans, or proper tools. Seemed odd that it kept falling down. My growth has led me to recognize that the most important thing I can do is to have patience, diligence and a belief in myself as a capable, worthy being. My past has made it easy to judge myself as unworthy, and not capable of spiritual growth. When I judge myself harshly, I can feel the same energy rising that led to my addiction and kept me imprisoned.  

Shedding our negative self-image can bring up fear. What is out there? Who am I? This is new territory. We may feel the pull of reverting to behaviors that will constrain and limit us. As I got some training, learned some practices, and got the right tools, I started building a solid house.

My growth will probably come slowly; I must acknowledge that and be patient. I need to continue opening to the difficulties and the joys, and appreciate them without attaching to either needing the difficulties to go away, or the joys to remain. I keep aspiring to open up to what is next with a spacious mind and heart. When I do, it is wonderful. When I don’t, it can still be a wonderful process that I know is growth-promoting. I find the courage to step right back into my capacity of opening up, and I don’t berate myself. Or, I quit sooner and laugh a bit. I am learning to work with and train my mind to not be an enemy but an accomplice in living well. This all takes a willingness to have a discipline of practice and a willingness to grow out of familiar behavior.

There are many techniques we can employ for accepting and working with our fears and obstacles.We need to consciously work on recognizing and deflating the un-real nature of our self-made shortcomings. They are real insomuch as they ill-affect us, but they are NOT TRUE. It can seem too difficult or painful to look at ourselves honestly. Though we may want to, we don’t really know how to make a healthy, honest self-examination. We are fortunate to have the help of experience and age-old wisdom methods to guide us. 

RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture), a meditation practice from Tara Brach, is a very useful technique for finding and unearthing our true self. Through this practice, we begin to feel the love and kindness that comes from our inherent spiritual connection in life; the natural state that all life shares.

We must consciously work on any self-negative beliefs we hold. We may feel bad about some act that was taken through selfishness or ignorance, but we can quickly amend the act if it stands as a single act, on its own—but not if it is seen as the whole of who we are. We may perceive a negative act as an example of who we are at our depths…always have been and always will be. If we believe that, it is
real to us and will ill-affect us greatly. To realize it is NOT TRUE, is liberation.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron writes, “When we buy into disapproval, we practice disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we practice harshness. We become expert at harming ourselves and others. Instead of struggling against the force of confusion, we could meet it and relax. Clarity will arise. Behind the planning and worrying, behind all the wishing and wanting, picking and choosing; the unfabricated wisdom mind, our spiritual connection, our basic goodness, is always here.”

“One of the great blocks to realizing the gold of who we are is our conviction that something is wrong with me. Why do we hold on so tightly to our belief in our own deficiency? Why are we so loyal to our suffering, so addicted to our self-judgment?

Our beliefs live not only in our minds but also in a jumble of feelings and emotions embedded in our bodies. They are deeply familiar. They feel like ‘me.’Most are rooted in interpretations of reality we formed in early childhood, and we rely on them for guidance and protection… 

Because of a survival-driven negativity bias, we are inclined to remember painful events much more readily than pleasant ones. This fixation on what might be threatening is compounded by another tendency, called the “confirmation bias,” which leads us to focus on information that matches or reinforces our existing beliefs…The upshot: We make an airtight case for our belief in personal deficiency.

I’ve seen how the belief that we are unlovable and/or unworthy has stopped people from having intimate relationships, generated ongoing anxiety and depression, fueled addictive behavior, and caused harm to their loved ones. To flourish, we need to release the belief that something is wrong with us. One of the most life-changing realizations you can have is, “I don’t have to believe my thoughts…they are just thoughts!” Yet because our beliefs are continuously filtering and interpreting reality, we mistake our stories about ourselves and the world for reality itself.

The RAIN meditation is a crucial help at this point, because it offers us a systematic way to loosen the grip of fear-based beliefs. The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness and compassion using the following four steps:

Recognize what is happening. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. Investigate with interest and care. Nurture with self-compassion.” — Tara Brach, “A True Taste of Peace,”

You can access guided meditations and more information on RAIN at www.tarabrach.com

I strongly recommend looking into this, and also reading Pema Chodron.

Self-compassion begins to naturally arise in the moments that you recognize you are suffering. It comes into fullness as you intentionally nurture your inner life with self-care.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com

May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.