The Antidote for Boredom and Feeling Trapped; Spiritual Practice

Help them change where you can, but love them as they are.  That was an insight at Alan Cohen‘s webpage.  The first book of his I ever read was The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, in which he writes of his initial interests, his yearning for a connection with the Divine and how he sought out various books and teachers to guide him in his spiritual quest.   I’ve seen Alan speak several times through the years, and always find what he has to say simple, relevant and often profound.    In one instance, he suggested to the audience writing down all your troubles and then holding them in your hands as you pray, “God, let me be wrong about all of this.” What a powerful prayer! He also affirms, “I’m always doing better than I think I am!” That is an affirmation many of us could benefit from.

I was surprised to hear a woman say after one particularly brilliant session, that she thought Alan’s talk had gone on too long. Alan Cohen sees everything as metaphor and analogy for life, i.e., he spoke of reading toothpaste labels and finding “the active ingredient. It’s like Life,” he says, “there’s one active ingredient yet so many other additives” that are helpful (or not) yet not essential. I also see everything as a metaphor for life, so perhaps that’s why I like him so much. I feel that anyone who got bored with him was merely missing his deeper message.

But then, that too is like the rest of life, right? If we get bored then we’re merely missing the deeper message… I used to think I was just smarter than most of my friends and needed more intellectual stimulation than most to hold my interest. I used to pride myself on all the things I got easily bored with, thinking well, I’ve been there, done that, let’s quickly get on with the next round of stimuli. Then as I began to truly awaken, I realized that although I’d had many experiences, I’d not yet begun to drink deeply of Life. I’d gotten bored with things because I’d only skimmed their surface and, in my self-absorption, I’d not reflected deeply on anything.  There was a whole world waiting for me to discover it, as soon as I got over myself.

Sure, I’d become very articulate and knowledgeable on many subjects, which was great for impressing my fellow smug Know It Alls at cocktail parties and discussion groups, but in my haste for acceptance and recognition within my peer group, I’d completely missed the point of what Life was all about. I began to get bored with the same routine over and over. I began to notice that lots of people I knew talked about the same things over and over, like it was the only script they knew in a never-ending play that was ultimately meaningless and really had only superficial entertainment value. That was when my true awakening began.

Like in Helen Reddy’s, I Am Woman, I began to “know too much to go back and pretend.” Because now, the truth began to dawn within me, I came to know all that stuff wasn’t real, whereas before I just went along with the rest of the pack and did what they did because I didn’t know anything else. Then I suddenly got a glimpse of greater awareness. Now suddenly I began to know more than a lot of the people I associated with, and began to realize if it was truly my intention to help uplift others and empower them into their own Selves, I’d Stop Pretending I Didn’t Know something I was clearly becoming to realize, and I began to share my findings with them.

For that matter, not everyone even knows they’re asleep! You know how it is when you’re having a really good dream and as you start to wake up, you burrow yourself deeper in the covers and try real hard to stay asleep? We do that all the time (and that’s like Life…) I used to think I had to convince everyone of My Truth For Their Own Good, when in reality all I had to do was listen deeply and allow my own self to be convinced.

I used to think I had to be the maverick willing to go up on that cross and crucify myself by saying, “Hey, I want to STOP this hypnosis. I’ve been hypnotized along with the rest of you for my whole life and I’ve just awoken from this trance a little sooner than you did, so I’m telling you what I just learned.” Oh, how laughable and arrogant a time that was! I share these personal tidbits since I’ve learned that whatever I’m going through in my life is generally what everyone around me is going through as well, and we all learn from each other as we share our experiences. Plus, it’s part of my own sadhana, my own spiritual discipline, to recount my past humbling experiences to help friends reconcile and integrate their own.

We all seek the Holy Grail of Consciousness when there are really 10,000 whispers of reality. As we share our truth with others, our truth adds pieces to their puzzle and makes it easier to assemble. And there’s only one puzzle we all share in the building of. We spend our whole lives gathering information and not knowing what to do with it; then suddenly it hits us that maybe all these pieces add up to something, so we start the sorting out process, so we can figure out what the Big Message, the Big Picture is.

The wisest of us gather pieces from every part of our lives and try to fit them in lots of different areas to see how many uses we can get out of each. Over time, we learn to put in abeyance whatever fails to serve us as we gain our broader perspective. The curious and more ambitious will stop engaging in pre-patterned behaviors that no longer serve them, and move onto to projects that are fueled by energies found only in the higher chakras. They’ve spent a lifetime collecting many, many pieces for the puzzle, so they have perhaps a greater glimpse of The Big Picture than the rest of us. And, once having seen The Big Picture, responsibility often weighs heavily on the shoulders of He Who Would Dare To Know, so he finds his greatest fulfillment in sharing his glimpse with others.

The most unknowing will take the first bit of truth as gospel and reject all subsequent pieces because he’s already built a mental construct of His Own Personal Reality and even though it’s a shaky puzzle at best, to his limited vision ~ if he doesn’t look at it too closely or ask too many questions ~ everything seems to fit just fine, thank you very much.

The antidote for boredom and feeling trapped is to take the time to reflect deeply on everything around you; take the time to understand – under stand. Discover what is standing under, or holding up, a thought or belief that you have about an area of your life where you experience less than blissful serenity. What stands under that thought and convinces you of its truth and validity?

As we come into the summer, begin to be more gentle and playful with yourself. Dedicate the coming few months to going deeper within yourself, go buy a journal and spend some time each day just writing your thoughts down, you may be amazed at what unfolds.

Cultivating a personal practice doesn’t have to be all serious contemplation, there are many paths to discovering what is inside of you. Buy a little watercolor set like the kids have and go sit in the yard and paint the flowers next to the driveway. Paint every tree and bush and bird you see. Draw the house on your page with a giant red crayon. Glue a pine needle or leaf on the bottom and sign your name over it. Then keep it as part of your journal or, better yet ~ leave it in your neighbor’s mailbox (you get extra bonus points for learning to let go!)

Everything we do can be part of our spiritual practice if we let it be. Caring for your family and pets, maintaining your home and yard in an orderly fashion, these are a strong yoga for many of us. You don’t have to sit alone under a tree praying to God, He hears as His own every word you speak to your mate, He is fed by how you treat your family, He is comforted by how you feel about your co-workers. Hmmm, interesting concept, huh?

The easiest way for me to be kind is to remember that everyone I meet may be Jesus in disguise and to act accordingly. It’s not as hard as you think to do this. This is a practice that will liberate you from many unnecessary emotional and psychological traps, like anger and judgment.

And as far as being bored and feeling trapped in a meaningless routine? In the words of my friend Bo Lozoff,  who wrote an excellent book by the same name:

It’s a meaningful life, it just takes practice

And now you’ll have to excuse me because it’s time to meditate.

That’s part of the practice.


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