"Compassion", "Peace", "Inspiration"
We humans are created with an amazing gift: an internal compass. This compass is continually pointing to things: hang ups; attachments; fears, that keep us from love. Unfortunately, we aren't raised to se this compass as the incredible tool that it is. Instead, many of us see it as an annoyance to be extinguished.
So what exactly is this compass? Our emotions, of course. How do our emotions point us to those things that keep us from love? To answer this, let's take a quick look at the nature of emotions.
In the 1960s, a man by the name of Albert Ellis figured out that our emotions are NOT a product of the things that happen to us. Instead, our emotions are the product of our interpretation of the things we experience. For example, if you saw a pit bull running towards you, it is reasonable to say you would experience fear. But what if in the same situation you recognized that dog as a loveable pet? Same event, different emotion and it would all be due to your INTERPRETATION. Through the pioneering work of Albert Ellis and other cognitive behaviourists like Martin Seligman, a new way of working with emotions was born. Eventually it came to be called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT.
The heart of CBT is this: it is our thoughts that create our experience of life, not events. The implications of this truth cannot be underestimated.
Now, let's say that we have a goal to live with a powerful sense of peace, love and joy. I mean, isn't everything we do just an effort to gain one of these states? We could say that the effort to avoid pain is an effort to gain peace. In the light of what we know about CBT and how emotions work, the real obstacle to living a life of peace, love and joy is OUR OWN MINDS.
Before we move on, let's clarify one point. Of course it is unreasonable to think we can avoid all pain and all uncomfortable emotions, nor would we want to. After all, doesn't anger often show us the problems that need to be addressed? This is why I started this meditation with the ideal of love. Love can exist even when there is anger, sadness, grief, loneliness, or pain (so can peace and joy, but that's for another meditation). We always have the choice to respond to life from a place of love.
This is how our emotions can help us identify things WITHIN OURSELVES that keep us from love.
So often when we get angry, we blame some source outside ourselves, then we go on a mission to change the situation in order to quell our anger. But what about another way of dealing with life? What if when we are first notified by our anger that a possible problem exists, we thank our anger for alerting us, let it go and choose now to respond with love and compassion? How much more effective would we be then? How much more would we ENJOY life?
Now here is how our emotions act like a compass. If we CAN"T respond with love, in the light of what we know about CBT, then the reason isn't the fault of ANY source outside ourselves. Rather, we are held back from love by our own hang-ups, misconceptions, selfish desires, attachments and fears. So now, when we find that love is not possible, that we are stuck in anger or sadness or ambition, we can use whatever emotion that is present as a compass that guides our attention to an issue within ourselves.
Here's an example: Say a friend of mine is always late. Whenever we make plans, he is sure to be late and usually his excuse is something like, "Oh, I'm sorry. I slept in late". One night, we have plans to go to a movie I've been dying to see but, of course, he's late and we miss the movie. I am understandably angry. But once the anger has alerted me of the problem, I just can't stop thinking about it. I'm furious. I've had enough. Who does he think he is? Doesn't he know how disrespectful that is? Does he think he can just do whatever he wants? When I talk to my friend about the issue, I lose my temper and yell at him.
In this situation, the initial anger was helpful in telling me that I had an issue to address. But the intensity of my anger and my inability to deal with the issue from a place of love (for I have chosen love as my ideal response) is a signal that there is an issue within myself.
The freedom to choose
Rational thinking (CBT)
I believe these eight principles form a solid foundation and outline a great way to achieve personal transformation. I know these are what helped me overcome so many of my issues and become the person I am today.
The basics will be more like a course, a workbook full of exercises, tips and practical explanations of the principles and how they directly apply to our lives.
I have the rough draft finished and I am now working on the revisions. I hope to have a typed manuscript ready by early 2012.
My hope is to get it published and available to inmates for NO COST or very little cost. This will require some financial aid from foundations or other interested parties.
I plan on having the book reviewed by psychologists and other relevant professionals. If you think you can help in any way or know someone who can, please contact me.
That’s all for now - Happy questioning!
TODAY'S QUOTE: “What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever; what love we failed to give will be lost for all eternity” - Leo Buscaglia
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