Surfing in paradise
As I was floating on my surf board looking towards the ocean in the expectation of a good wave to surf, I suddenly realized that I was not feeling calm. In fact, I was feeling far from it. How could this be? It was a wonderful morning around 7h30 in Puerto Escondido, on the west coast of Mexico. The sun was slowly coming up, I was almost alone in the water, a gentle breeze was coming from the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, the splendid beach of Carrizalillo was behind me and the water was at 85F. What could be wrong? Maybe getting hammered by one of those huge waves this area can sometimes offer was in the back of my mind?
But as I was deepening my thoughts, I realized that I was simply not a peace, not entirely focused on the present moment, my mind secretly jumping from one thought to the next creating a vortex and an overload of information, similarly as what have been happening these past few years of corporate stress.
I have been traveling for about 3 months now and I have been feeling ups and downs. In itself, its normal, I guess, its part of life. I have had moments of total exhilaration and moments of complete confusion. As the frequency of these ups and downs seemed to be diminishing, their intensity however seemed to be increasing. Was it that I was not yet free of my old world and that I was still defining who I am and where I am going based on mental measurements and structure? I however felt certain that traveling was in my heart at this very moment and what I should be doing. And so I realized that I was nowhere and everywhere at the same time... in between two worlds with nowhere to hide. I knew that all I had to do was to keep on going and fully explore what I had set out to do. But somehow it seemed harder than expected. It freaked me out and also made me smile. I have learned over the last couple of years to laugh at myself when I realize I am not where I thought I was. It helps my ego not to fall as easily into guilt and auto-destruction patterns.
The frustrating part is that only a few days earlier, I was in a complete different mental state. After setting up in my new temporary home (familia Garcia in Puerto Escondido, Mexico) and getting over my cultural shock, starting my Spanish classes, getting back at surfing and blending this new beach life with my global life search, I got to a place inside my heart that was magical. So much weight off my shoulders and the feeling that my life vision was getting clearer every day. I felt a big high, feeling more comfortable, centered, much closer to the present moment and I could literally feel my heart dancing. And now, only 2 days later, I was feeling disconnected again. And so I reflected on my road to get this far, seeking a pattern and an understanding of what was happening to me so I could appease my mental. I knew fair well that this was not the way out of the trap, but sometimes to understand the source of things, even if its not the solution in itself, helps to realize that the only possible answer is to live life and stop thinking about living it. Ironically as it is, I find that mental paradoxes, as similar as Zen Buddhism, helps me to let go of mental reasoning and focus on the present moment. As stated beautifully by David Hawkins (not to be mistaken with the astrophysician Stephen Hawking) in his great book Power vs Force:
"The only thing the mind is doing is experiencing experiencing. The mind does not experience the world, it just sensory reports it".Guilt
My first thought in the dwelling of my past was to remember how I used to be feeling in holidays, a few years back when working was my way of life. I clearly remembered my one week vacation to Cuba with my very good friend Alexandre Michaud, about 1 year and a half ago. I remembered that I felt guilty for being in holiday for the first 4 days and then I felt guilty I have felt guilty for the last 3 days
. Was I feeling guilty once again on this fine morning of surfing while the rest of the planet was either sleeping or working? Maybe I was? And so I kept on climbing down the rabbit whole, reflecting on why I have felt guilty in my life. For me, guilt is experienced when we feel good doing something we have not been programmed, consciously or unconsciously, to do and/or to become. Whether we are in holiday, playing instead of working or simply enjoying life before all of our tasks and responsibilities are done. Why? I see two reasons. Firstly, because usually we build our self esteem around what we spend the majority of our time on, which is, for most of us, work. Secondly, because we somehow struggle to fit in a world from which we feel alienated. How could we do otherwise? We all seek to be happy and in doing so, we focus on the apparent present moment and forget that our decisions and actions are more than just coping mechanisms but are defining who we are and who we will want to be in the future. For me, a few months ago, this guilt went so far that I could very rarely enjoy time for myself, until ALL of my tasks where done. Very efficient for work and how I was defining myself then, but also self destructive. One winter morning a few years back, I woke up and sat on my bed, it was still dark outside and I was reviewing in my head what I had to do during the day. If I could do everything I was planning on doing I would have 30 minutes for myself in the entire day. What was I doing this for? Where was this leading me? After years of doing the same thing, what was I looking for? It then became very clear to me that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and that only auto destruction was awaiting me at the end of this road. I could not even grasp then how much self reprogramming I would require and how hard it would be just to feel centered, not guilty and at peace again.
Letting go of guilt have been for me an every day fight for the longest time. During that period, I was never fully at peace and happy with what I was doing at each passing moment. But after feeling selfish for a while for following more and more my heart, I came to realize that this guilt did not make any sense for my desired life perspective, that it was doing nothing good to help me feeling better and that if someone was unhappy with my new choices, it would be their decision. Years of construction... could I, out of the blue, change everything without feeling uneasy? And so what then became hard was that everything I was, my joys and fears towards life, were bound to that previous concept of life I had. Therefore, in changing my old ways to the ones I now wanted to live, everything else had to change as well. Ouf!, I did not see this one coming. The hardest thing at that moment was that even my vulnerability coping mechanisms (temporary escaping mechanisms) could not help me anymore. A new vision was needed and I needed to arm myself of patience, courage and surround myself of a lot of love. I thank all of my friends for the love and devotion they have given me, without them, it would have been a lot harder, no doubt.Responsibilities
A wave rushing to the sky behind me brought me back to reality and after feeling happy of catching my first wave of the day, remembering the power of the ocean lifting me off the ground, I suddenly felt a split in my mind. One part was feeling closer to myself and the present moment and the other part was feeling more withdrawn from nature, as if I could not come close to understand how huge, mysterious and complex it all was. I was still feeling non centered and more thinking was required. As my attention slowly left the now arisen sun and the sound of the waves breaking on the rocks nearby, I focused back on my deepest thoughts. I then came about my responsibilities as often it is the source generating guilt. Only a year earlier, I had monstrous responsibilities (compare to now anyways) on my shoulders: a company and too many people to manage, a house, a car, a girlfriend, friends, clients and my full personal development. These were what I thought were my responsibilities and where I should focus most of my energy on. I was basically doing 95% of my everyday actions out of intellectual reasoning and the remaining 5% out of a timid love for myself. I even somehow convinced myself, a few years ago, that I would wait to be done with my responsibilities before I would start to live, fully enjoy life and develop my mind. I remembered that I was getting up in the morning destined to follow a path that was in complete clash with my heart and my internal voices. Although I have liberated myself from much of those responsibilities today, it seemed to me that I was still addicted to the structure I had put around myself then and that I still needed that structure to calm my mind and feel centered. It made me freak out and this time laughing about it became much harder. I just realized that even though I have worked hard to restructure my life in the last few years, I was still a slave to the very thing I thought I had overcome: my mental
What are those things, those responsibilities, that we judge are so important that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for? Work, family, kids, girlfriend/boyfriend, clients, current and/or future boss, name it. Do any of those worth sacrificing our life for? Because we think it is for the greater good? For our family, our gang, our country or our civilisation? We can be very certain that if in the name of good we have to create evil (for ourselves or others), that good was probably an illusion to start with. What I mean is that are we really willing to forget who we are, partly or fully feel unhappy everyday (consciously or unconsciously) in the name of those illusions? I came to realize that responsibilities are in fact hiding our fears of becoming and understanding who we truly are. Hiding to ourselves and to the world that we need to love and to be loved. All of this fear makes us fall into that mental trap I have just realized I was still into. I will comeback to that mental trap shortly. Love an illusion?
As the concept of love came to me as the main Energy we need in our life, I explored it within myself and my past. How can we truly love someone if we don't fully know who we are and/or don't spend enough time everyday looking for it? In general, we don't really Love others for what they truly are, we love them for what they represent for us and what they give us (things, attention, security, etc.). We don;t experience unconditional love but in the contrary, we experience conditional love. How often have we seen parents/lovers fully dedicating their life to their children/loved one only to eventually come crashing down when the children/loved one is not interested about it anymore? Parents/lovers are then crushed and lost as if their life suddenly did not make any sense anymore? How many depressions, burn out and mid life crisis have we experienced, encountered or heard of? This is a small example of the results yielded by our attempts to gain control over others or things outside of ourselves. We feel we don't have any control over our own life so we better start controlling everything else around us. This way can only lead to misery and suffering for everyone. If we are to change that, it all starts with the love we give ourselves and the nature of that love. It cannot be conditional or driven by fear, it has to be honest and pure in order to allow us to grow from it. And so, of the responsibilities mentioned above, if one or many of them are Truly Real for us, lets pursue them, but lets be honest with ourselves.
The mountain can often appear very high to climb as we realize how far we have drifted apart from our path. How can we start doing the right thing again? By doing the little things right. Lets listen to ourselves and when we find something that annoys us, lets ask ourselves why. Ask ourselves how we could have done things differently and the next time we are given that opportunity, lets seize it to make things right. It could be that someone ought us 2$ and we are afraid to ask for it; it could be that we let someone, without wanting it, go in front of us while we where queueing at the bank; it could be that we have a business partner that is not respecting its contract; it does not really matter what it is as long as we act honestly upon our feelings and that we respect ourselves. How would this really make a difference, its only a few details after all? It does not seem like big changes at first, but every little subtle change can make a huge difference over the course of a lifetime. It also helps to create a momentum and this momentum can inspire us to greater achievements. As stated by David Hawkins in his book: Power vs Force:
"The critical point in a complex system is where the smallest input will result in the greatest change".
This is where we need to focus our attention on. This is where knowing ourselves becomes important. My friend and mentor Mario Leblanc told me a few years back, while trying to help me manage my work time better:
"For every new interrupt coming to you, ask yourself: Is the world going to stop revolving if I don't take care of this new interrupt?"
What this meant for me is that we need to know the truth about ourselves. We need to know what is truly important and what we falsely tell ourselves is important. We need to visualize what is going to happen if we take care of something or don't. But know for certain that if we do not take care of ourselves first, we will eventually loose the ability to serve/help others and then they wont need us anymore. Just like in an airplane that is going through a low oxygen situation. If you help others before you put your own mask on, you might be able to help 5 or 6 people, but if you put your mask first, you can help everyone in the place. This is the sad reality about everything. If we do not respect ourselves, then NO ONE WILL. To convince ourselves of this, lets imagine that we exchange the roles between us and someone else we feel obligated to at the moment(put ourselves in their shoes for a moment). We will see that, for this person to be truthful with themselves and follow their heart throughout their life, they will eventually have to let go of the control we impose on them... Then lets ask ourselves if to go outside of our own way (heart) to take care of others, to do a job we don't like, to work with colleagues or bosses that don't extract the best out of us, to spend time with friends or a loved one that do not inspire us or if we simply don't follow our heart because we don't want a whole in our CV as it might appear bad to our next employer, is this self serving? Will this make us a better person? The only failure we can really have in life, it is to not follow our heart, ideas and inspirations. If we do and it fails, then we know a way that does not work and we need to try again. This is so fundamental! A quote I love from Thomas Edison talking about the creation of the electric bulb that changed human life forever:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work".
We need to find this place/inch inside of us that makes us great. I eventually understood that our responsibilities are nothing but illusions that we have, that we accept and use to avoid facing who we are, reach for what we are suppose to do and face our fears. There is no better excuse than saying: I cannot follow my dream, because I must do this and this. But once we get to choose more appropriately our responsibilities and that we foresee a new path emerging, meaning that we are ready to comit ourselves to restructure our life around more real and healthy principles that will allow us to grow, all sorts of fears will pop out and try to stop us from transforming our life. Like any change, it;s most of the time painful.Fears
Guilt and responsibilities somehow leave on us their imprint. The realization that their imprint was so deep inside of me made me freaked out a little earlier. I was at some level defining my happiness base on mental measurements and not out of love. Its been the classical conflict since the beginning of time but only now was I understanding what it really meant. Its the fight between good and evil, between Lucifer and God, between a material world and a world of light and love. And as that realization was sinking in, I suddenly felt dizzy. How would I be able to get out of it? I then remembered my fetish quote from Dune:
"Fear is the mind killer. I will face my fear. I will let it pass true me".
If we calmly and rationally focus on our biggest fear or any precise fear, seek to understand it, we will eventually see a pattern and see how this fear impacts our life. Lets us take one at a time and train ourselves to let go of it, no matter how hard and difficult it is. We are surrounded by tons of those fears. Don't we feel happier and more free without those fears? Let us go towards them, laugh at ourselves for a moment and slowly work on them, instead of hiding them, transforming them or whatever we do to run away from them.Letting go
And so, once we are on the road towards our liberation, letting go becomes essential. Conceptually speaking, its easy. But to let go of what we have been for so long at every instant of our life, wow... that is very different. As difficulties pop out and as we try to redefine our life on stronger foundations and values, we undoubtebly get back into guilt, fear and so on. It took us years to build this illusion, this prison, so we need to be patient and realistic about undoing it. This is a pretty hard step for me as I am relatively impatient and I really like things to move quickly.
Why letting go of the past? Because our understanding of reality stops us from believing that a better life is possible. A nice statement of this, by Drunvalo Melchizedek in his epic book The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life, Tome 2:
"What you believe to be true is always your limitation. If you do not believe in limitations, you are free".
Another quote from M. Hawkins that I find particularly powerful:
"There are no justified resentment - even if somebody "did you wrong", you are still free to choose your response and let go of resentment."
And so only by letting go of our old concepts and believing in new ones can we accept that life can be different. David Hawkins have a way of explaining this. He says that none of our ideas are ours. That our energy field (inside and outside of us) attracts specific attractor fields in the universe, that then feed us with thoughts. From the now famous book/film The Secret and the old concept of the Law of Attraction: "You attract to ourselves whatever we feel and think about". And so, we connect ourselves to sources of thoughts and energy in the universe that help us to create our reality, the reality that we choose. So only by letting go of what is not self serving, can we discover and create what we really want.
The easiest examples to understand "letting go" that I have found so far are the following two: When we get sick (cold, headache, etc.) and we go to bed at night, happy to go to sleep, it feels like such a relieve. As we feel useless anyways, the only thing we can do is accepting what is happening and so letting go. If we fight it, we are likely to get sicker. Another example, is falling off from our surf board while attempting to surf a wave. There is absolutely no point in fighting the wave, its thousands of times stronger than us. All we can do is wait for the rolling to end, for the foam to stop forming and for us to naturally come back to the surface. To achieve balance in our life we need to just be, let go and go with the flow.
Remembering my last few years helped me to put things into perspective. Guilt, responsibilities and fears are important steps to overcome, no doubt. Now for me, the biggest step to overcome is my mental self. Its the trap we need to find a way out, if we are to find Real Peace. All of this thinking helped me to know where to focus, but I also knew that no thinking would ever lift me out of my torments. Only by walking the path, by putting one step in front of the other, letting go, being honest with the nature of my intentions and putting my faith in life, would I really achieve it. However, as life is a fractal and repeats and perpetuates itself endlessly, I also knew that in a few months time I would have forgotten all of this and all of those steps would comeback (guilt, responsibilities and fears) in a slightly different form. I just hoped that as I will slowly remember all of this again, I will have gone a little bit further on my path. As I was leaving the beach after a few hours of surfing, walking up the stones stairway going to the top of the beach towards the city, I could feel its warm contact under my feet. I felt once again connected with my environment, with nature and myself. I smiled for the rest of the day.
With all the love in my heart