Search for Surrender: My Journey to the Temple of the Universe and beyond

A little over a year ago, I read a book called the Untethered Soul by Micheal Singer, a New York Times best selling author and founder of the Temple of the Universe. The book was so profound that it led me to pick up another one of his books called The Surrender Experiment where I subsequently learned more about the temple he founded. Little did I know, less than 2 years later, I would be taking a journey to that very temple in search of my own Surrender.

His book the Surrender Experiment was all about the act of continuously letting go. Letting go of expectations and beliefs of what one thinks should be and how one thinks outcomes should turn out. Looking back, I used to be very attached to how I wanted things to turn out, so much so that I was devasted when they didn’t turn out my way. It was a miserable way to live because it turns out that by forcing outcomes and resisting change, I was actually perpetuating the very outcomes I didn’t want. I had created a closed loop of my own self fulfilling prophecies and it was a sad and lonely place to be.

Back then it took me years of searching until I found transformational work and began working on these negative thought patterns from the inside out. The difference this time was that now I was approaching it in a very experiential type of way. Now I believe that true transformation or self actualization can only be achieved after true embodiment. Meaning that focusing on your ways of being helps transform your ways of thinking.

After almost two years I finally rented a car and began my pilgrimage to The Temple of the Universe. Part of me was going just to meet Mr. Singer himself, part of me was going out of curiosity and the other part of me, the part that answers to my soul, was going to connect with something deeper within me. Before leaving on this trip, I had been struggling and fighting against something I knew I had to do. It was really quite simple, it was either stay in the corporate world doing work that drains your lifeforce or leave the corporate world and do work that impacts humanity and fills your soul. Looking at it now, its a very easy and straight forward answer, but back then I was stuck between indecision and doubt and was really on an internal search for the state of Surrender that he speaks about in his books. I just wanted the noise to stop and the peace to enter my heart so that I could move forward with the decision I knew was right for me.

I arrived just in time for his Thursday evening talk where he spoke about the seat of consciousness. He said that I am consciousness and it is my consciousness that notices things. He also said we are all of the same consciousness, the same consciousness that was Jesus Christ, the Buddha and all the other greats who at one time inhabited the earth. He also made an interesting example. He said, “If I am blue and I look at a red card, does that make me red?”

It sounds like a very simple question but yet it is a very profound teaching. The answer is no, one does not become red. But his following question was, “Then why do I identify myself with it?” Which is wherein lies the problem that humanity has been struggling with since the beginning of time as we know it. We identify with the red card as if it is us. We identify with the object of consciousness, which is whatever we happen to be observing at any given moment, as if it were us. He continues to explain that the moment we begin putting labels on it and creating stories around it, we create unhappiness for ourselves. Its that simple. In my opinion, he couldn’t have explained such a profound topic more simply.

It was a diverse crowd that had gathered from very young people to those who were later in their years and I remember thinking that he explained it so simply that it might have gone over peoples heads. As he spoke, you could hear a pin drop. Regardless of the diverse crowd, I had the sense that everyone there was hungry for wisdom. He described consciousness by quoting one of his teachers. He told a story of when he asked, “What is consciousness?” The teacher responded something along the lines of, “I am what was here before I was, what will be here after I am gone and what has always been here.” He then went on to explain that what we decide to think when we look at the red card is a choice. It all comes down to a choice we make.

I noticed something very subtle. Whenever he referred to the seat of consciousness that we each possess, he hovered his hand above his head toward the upper back part of the head which is the same area that heals last on a newborn babies head.

That talk that night felt like a call to arms except he was challenging us to stop making our lives unhappy and urging us to live with joy. It seemed like he was trying with all his might to wake us up.

I believe that the act of Surrender is such an important practice for everyday life that I even teach it in my workshops and coaching programs but in day to day life I can admit that its a lot easier said than done. In society, often times we consider Surrender as an acquiescence. Such as a helpless lamb laying itself down at the feet of a hungry wolf and this is not the Surrender I am speaking of here. Surrender is about letting go of self conceived ways thst one thinks an outcome should turn out. Its about letting go of trying to control situations, people and things.

If you are feeling exhausted and like life is an uphill battle, you are probably living in this closed loop cycle of misery. Its exhausting, infuriating and its draining useful lifeforce energy from you that you could be using to fulfill your dreams and desires. Why do our minds and ego’s insist on trying to make things perfect when all the while getting in the way of the magical possibilities that can be available to us? I should know, I spent most of my life in this loop, creating strategies, shuffling and jiving for outcomes that I thought were perfect when in reality they were far from it and I kept coming up empty again and again.

Another lesson I learned while on this Surrender experiment of my own was about opening myself up. Sounds easy right? Well I learned that being open is not necessarily about opening myself up, its actually about not closing myself off. That is the key. When Michael Singer first said it, I thought it was such a foreign concept but then began realizing how simple it was and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that before. It is easier to close myself. I am really good at it actually cause I’ve been doing it for years. But remaining open? Now that was something I was going to have to practice. I started realizing that I was closed off in so many areas of my life that I didn’t even realize I was closed in. That’s how closed off I was. If you were to ask me, “remain open, “ I would become frustrated because I had never done that before but he simply asked me not to close. And this right here was the key.

Upon practicing “not closing,” I realized how good I had become at closing myself off because it had become something I could do unconsciously so in order to find the areas I was closing myself off in, I had to practice being present and noticing the subtle moments when I do close off.

Another huge lesson I took away with me from that weekend was that living a life of pure spirituality has nothing to do with wanting. Spirituality is not about wanting. Spirituality is actually more about not wanting and in this day and age of manifestation and the law of attraction, I found that hard to believe at first but then I started thinking about it.

The moment you begin to want something, is the moment suffering begins. With further reflection I realized that the act of wanting implies the lack thereof. If you want something it is usually because you don’t have it. If you don’t have something, it makes you feel incomplete and repeating affirmations about what I wanted was reaffirming my not “having-ness,” which made me miserable for not having it. I realized that the thing I was trying to do to make me happy was actually making me sad.

Not wanting is not about not having ambition, dreams, goals or desires in life. It’s about relinquishing control of how you think the outcome should be. Its saying you would like a red card but if the universe presents you with a green card you will be grateful for it and enjoy it just the same. Its about being grateful for and noticing everything you do have and being open to the multiple gifts that are meant to come your way if you remain open to them.

What I learned on this journey was that my search for Surrender was not about finding the answer or the cure to my ailment, it was about allowing myself to just be and not close myself off to the many blessings the world has for me. And once I began practicing that, I have received so much since.

Fear of the Unknown

What is the fear of the Unknown and why do we fear it? We tend to avoid the Unknown at all costs and as a result, we steer clear from change. We do this at the cost of our happiness and risk denying ourselves our inner most piercing desires. We set up strategies and stories to keep us where we are now because we think where we are now is safe and comfortable, even though we know that growth happens when you step outside of your comfort zones.

Why do we consider anything different to be Unknown and therefore scary? We run and hide from it like scared little children pretending to run from a monster. But is the Unknown merely something that we perceive as different? And what is something different if not merely something we cannot yet imagine?

Through life, we to fear the darkest, quietest moments for example, during amusement rides or movies, we cringe when we turn a dark corner anticipating that something will jump out at us. What we fail to see is once that happens we always turn out okay. The monster doesn’t hurt you and after turning the scary corner, you turn up unscathed. You land back on your feet after the rug is pulled from under you, so why do we still deny ourselves a venture into the Unknown? What is it about it that we truly fear?

It leads me to wonder, is this a trained response that we have been conditioned to have, an innate instinct we possess or is it a little bit of both perhaps?  Not only through history but in everyday life, we admire those who venture out into the Unknown and we revere them when they return victorious. We admire change makers and those who go against the grind, yet we ourselves allow fear to dictate our choices, all the while knowing that change is the only constant. Why do we resist change so much?

Haven’t you noticed that once you begin resisting change and resisting going into the unknown, expressions of it start showing up in your life? Remember, Carl Jung said, “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  In conversations you start noticing people sharing stories about changes they are making and you begin seeing inspirational quotes about adventure and exploration popping up in your feeds. Perhaps these are all subtle ways your higher-self is telling you to take the plunge? 

Researchers have found that our brains prefer predictable negative consequences to uncertain outcomes. Meaning, for example, that your brain would rather you stay in a dead-end job than go through the unpredictability of quitting your job and starting a new career.

Your soul is a different story though; it knows what you are capable of achieving and knows how many possibilities are available to you on the other side of fear and of the Unknown. Instead of calling it the Unknown, could it not be considered the Undiscovered instead? Could it not be a surprise or a gift to anticipate? When we look at it this way, the fear begins to dissipate and take on an entirely new persona. The undiscovered suddenly feels exciting and fun. It is the same anticipation one has when going on vacation to a new place. Even though you are not aware of local customs or of what to expect, you look forward to discovering the new adventure.

They say that conquering fear is the beginning of wisdom, therefore why do we allow ourselves to be caged in by it rather than explore it?  The uncomfortable yet oh so familiar feeling of playing it “Safe” also keeps us from making invaluable mistakes, which we know is where experience comes from. This begs the question, why would we prefer to live a life null of experience?  

Making mistakes is how we learn.. In today’s “fail fast” culture, we are fostering this idea in our schools and places of work. We are realizing that no growth happens without making the necessary mistakes that teach us how to improve. Historically, taking the wrong direction in your career or losing it all together was considered catastrophic and one was often outcast in their communities, yet something that was once frowned upon is now strongly celebrated. Yet, we celebrate risk taking when other people do it, but we don’t in our own lives.

Even those of us who embrace change find it uncertain and risky we know that it is these life experiences that shape us and make us who we are. Although as exhilarating as the after effects may be, the fear never really goes away for us but it is in the attempting that makes life great. Reaching for our truest dreams and desires even if we may fail is what taught us how to walk when we were babies or how to ride a bike as kids. The difference between those of us who accomplish something daring and those of us who do not, is that those who accomplished it did it despite of their fear. They just went for it and figured it out along the way, because they know that when the rug gets pulled out from under them, they will always land on their feet.  

“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves; an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown - only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” - Captain Kirk, Star Trek

Ecstasy VS Enstasy

I used to chase Ecstasy. All my life I have wanted to achieve that feeling of all encompassing bliss and overwhelming happiness that people speak about. When I did reach what I thought it might be, it lasted only for brief moments and was coupled with less than desirable side effects. 

My whole life was spent chasing this feeling that I thought I would find outside of myself. From travel to skydiving and from extreme sports to drugs. You name it, I did almost anything to achieve Ecstasy but could never really quite hold on to it. It was always this fleeting moment that wasn't even over before I was already missing its feeling. By the time it was over, I was already thinking of how I could tweak it the next time to see if I could make the feeling last a bit longer.

I became a doctor, self medicating, tweaking doses, adding subtracting quantities, adding, subtracting experiences and adding and subtracting friends.

Chasing Ecstasy always resulted in a bitter sweet experience that was followed by an anticlimactic period of emptiness, disbelief and confusion.

The heights a human being will go to in order to experience Ecstasy are impressive. Through history men have died and killed for it and women have conquered kings for it. Heck, I jumped out of a plane for it.

Often times Escape becomes a bi-product of seeking Ecstasy. It almost comes close to the feeling but shutting away from the world and from self becomes remorseful even depressing. I myself experienced many years of Depression during this time. This self inflicted isolation left me feeling cold, empty and lonely until I realized it really wasn't worth it. Until I found myself.

While I was chasing those fleeting moments, the high's were high and the low's were deep, deep lows. I found myself exhausted from always running, always chasing and always ending up empty no matter how big the night or how strong the drug. 

It wasn’t until I began going inward that I began to find peace. I didn’t know what I was doing at first but I was desperate, desperate to find peace. The deeper I went inside of myself, the harder it became but the more I tried, the more happiness I found. The more pain I faced, the more love I began experiencing.

The more authenticity I demanded from myself, the more freedom I generated for myself. And the more freedom I generated, the happier I became. I eventually found that experiencing Enstasy gave me more tangible rewards than I could ever imagine. I soon found that it wasn't a chase at all. It was more like a journey. I realized that over through all those years, the happiness I sought in others was actually something I could find within myself.

Imagine not ever having those ecstatic high's riddled with anxiety coupled with those deep low's of depression or isolation? Imagine waking up every morning excited and grateful for the day. Imagine living with a deep sense of Enstasy all the time everywhere you are? Enstasy is widely known as the experiences that arise as a consequence of using meditational techniques.

It starts by going inward. Going inward is the only way you can create the results you have been seeking outside of yourself. It seems counter-intuitive because we live in a hunter gatherer mindset which is a Masculine energy. Going within oneself for meditation is the practice of stepping into Feminine energy.

Some may wonder, “but how do you achieve Enstasy?” And to that I would answer, “Its not something you achieve or attain, it is something you practice.”

Namaste.

What it takes to bring Happiness into your Everyday Life

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life. To be happy. It’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn

My definition of what happiness means has evolved over the years and now for me it means feeling healthy, feeling loved and feeling peace. Ten years ago, I would have read this quote and thought happiness meant grabbing my high heels and pulling an all-niter or seeking attention from unavailable men but all these activities just left me feeling empty and drained. A weekend of so called “happiness” would send me reeling into a week of sadness, loneliness, depression, guilt and unhappiness, of all things.

I would wonder, “Why do I feel so bad if I just did all the things that were supposed to make me feel good?” I slowly began to realize that the things I had chosen and the ideas that I had inherited about happiness did not work for me anymore. After finding myself in enough compromising situations, I began making small shifts.

The first and most important shift I made was to set the intention that I loved me more. I decided no matter what, that I loved me enough to put myself first from now on. Little by little I began choosing activities that filled me up and scenarios that I wanted rather than those that were expected of me or requested of me.

I began choosing me first and although it was difficult at first, the more I did it, the easier it got. Little by little, I began carving out a life for myself. A life that I was happy living, day in and day out, all the time. That’s the type of self-generated joy that created a deep well of security within me that keeps my soul nourished.

But it takes effort. It doesn’t just happen. I had to fight for what I wanted and put myself first even when I had to go against the grain. And it paid off. I wouldn’t trade what I feel inside today for a million dollars.

Nourish yourself and your desires. Find happiness within. Begin your journey.

Saying Sorry - Why Over Apologizing is bad for your Self Confidence

One word that you can stop saying today is, Sorry. Lately I have been practicing removing the word sorry from my vocabulary. 

I used to say it all the time, at least 100 times a day. I would say it for no reason and in every situation. I would say it while at the store, walking around. I would say it for just existing. And I started noticing that it was a word that not everyone used. Why is that? 

Well I began to see that the word is not necessary in every situation and when I dug deeper I realized that it was actually a subtle way I was minimizing myself. It was me saying "I'm not worthy of being here" and/or "I am not good enough." 

And when I became aware of it and how much I say it, it was astounding. I began to see patterns of how people treated me and reacted to me in any given situation as a result. I was had the lower hand because I was always apologizing for nothing, just for being.

Before anything I started practicing ways of not doing it anymore because once you have done something for so long it becomes a hard habit to break. I did things like, if I missed someone call because I was doing something I would no longer respond with, "I’m sorry I was on the other line.” with “I was on the other line.” I removed the word sorry from my vocabulary and started using “I apologize” instead whenever necessary. But be weary of replacing it and then becoming the ultimate “apologizer.” Use it sparingly only when you know there is something specific you need to apologize for and you will see the empowerment you will begin to bring back into your life.

I dove deep to find out why I may be doing this to begin with and I found that I had some self esteem issues that I had to work through and this practice definitely helped me see things differently.

Eventually I got better at not using the word all together and it started feeling really good. I didn't feel lower that anyone else anymore. And I started to feel more confident. 

Its interesting though because when I stopped being aware of it I began saying it again and realized that it was an automatic impulse for me. I then put all these tips back into practice. This showed me that I still had more work to do in this practice in building my self esteem. 

If you find yourself saying "sorry" a lot, start practicing not saying it and take a pulse on how you start feeling. 

You are just as qualified to be here as anyone else is and you are just as important as anyone else is so stop apologizing for it.