Living in Mindfulness & Serenity

One of the movies most surprisingly illustrative of Serenity and Mindfulness is The Last Samurai. Regardless of its historical accuracy or political statement, The Last Samurai beautifully depicts the process of Surrender and Recovery. One of the many subtle references to Acceptance and Surrender comes when the leader of the Samurai village, Katsumoto, informs Captain Algren that “in Spring, the snows will melt and the passes will open. Until that time, you are here.” With this short phrase, Katsumoto imparts a small bit of his Samurai Wisdom as to what Algren can and cannot change.

Whether from this statement, or from his immersion in the Samurai lifestyle, Algren accepts his fate and emerges from his addiction and PTSD experiencing Life once again. Had he resisted his captivity, nothing would have changed. However, as he embraces his captivity and engages with his captors, he learns the ways of the disciplined and spiritual Samurai. Through his journal entries, Algren relates his transformation from being trapped in the past to becoming aware of his present. His change from a drunken, arrogant, depressed alcoholic to a loving, sensitive, understanding warrior is quite remarkable, and fully comprehensible.

Serenity is being mindful of that which is of Real importance: Positive Energy, Life, purpose, our relationship to others. These may change in priority from time to time, but they do not lessen in significance. At times, our relationship with others must bow to our purpose and destiny. Occasionally, a particular Positive Principle, such as Justice, Mercy or Love, must be considered above the others in order to address a particular circumstance. Whatever the case, the recognition of Life and its Principles is always present and revered.

Serenity also partakes of that which Life gives. The Joy of a sunrise, natural beauty, engagement in daily activities, interacting with others, learning, growing, expanding are all acknowledged and appreciated through Mindfulness. However, these are viewed as fleeting and temporary; to be enjoyed, engaged and completely understood, but neither controlled nor owned. One who is mindful is also aware of the temporal nature of his own physical existence as well as his place in the Universe. Nothing is ours to own; we simply share space as we make the journey.

Mindfulness: The New Serenity

It seems as though everyone is throwing around the word “Mindfulness” these days. It’s sad when a word begins to lose its power due to common usage and familiarity. This video clip from Peaceful Warrior is one of my favorite illustrations of Mindfulness. It is about putting things in proper perspective and clearing the mind of unimportant, negative and distracting material. It is the goal for anyone attempting to live a life in Harmony with oneself and the Universe. In other words, it is the place at which we wish to arrive: Serenity!

Serenity has two main components. The first is that which is truly valuable. This is not always readily apparent even though it may seem to be common sense. In the movie, The Last Samurai two warriors discuss the meaning of “Bushido”, or the way of the warrior. They discuss the importance of ancestry, of finding Life in every day occurrences such as drinking tea, admiring cherry blossoms and breathing. All too often, those things are overshadowed by daily concerns such as paying bills, house or car repair, our children’s grades in school. We fail to appreciate the beauty and Joy that surrounds us and, as a result, fail to understand the degree to which we are fully and abundantly loved.

The second component of Serenity, and Mindfulness, is Joy. It could hardly be called “Serenity” if one were serious all the time and thinking only about what is “really important”. Life is to be enjoyed, savored, experienced. Moments of Joy fly past us daily, many of which are completely unseen. Yet this is the stuff that makes life worth living. This is the reason why we get up and go to work, why we spend hours toiling and struggling, why we pay those annoying bills… in order to enjoy those “simple pleasures”. Mindfulness calls upon us to remember those things and to “live in the moment”. It reminds us that the simplest things in Life are often the most important and cost very little. Mindfulness calls us to live in a place called Serenity and keep things in proper perspective, enjoying that which gives true Joy to the Spirit rather than working and striving for a cheap substitute. It invites us to live in the here and now realizing that we have no promise of tomorrow and that the past is gone; that this moment, right now, is all there “is”.

Demystifying Enlightenment

As is often the case with Universal Principles, Enlightenment is given a “mystical” status which leads the average seeker to believe that it is something more complicated than it actually is. The quickest explanation is that Enlightenment is simply an act of falling in Love. As the word suggests, to become “En-light-en-ed” means that one has the Light of Truth shown onto a particular area of his or her life. What makes Enlightenment so unique and unusual is that it typically bypasses or overrides the mind. It usually shows up as a “revelation” or an “epiphany” rather than a logical conclusion. The only difference between an “Enlightened Master” and the rest of us schleps is that the Master has been Enlightened in a lot more areas.

The reason Enlightenment is an act of falling in Love is because when one becomes “enlightened” to the beauty, wonder and value of Positive Principles and one’s own participation in and with them, Love is the natural response. It isn’t that we are unaware of the value of Love, Wisdom, Truth, Peace, Success and Freedom, but we take them for granted, seeing them as principles that exist, but thinking the best that we can hope for is that they will cross our path from time to time. We are largely blind to our ability to engage with them and participate in the formulation of our own destiny. Unfortunately, the Ego distracts us from these principles and convinces us that we need to be in control rather than surrender to Positive Energy,  believing that we are the source rather than needing to align with the Source. Once our eyes are opened and we begin our love affair with Life, a whole new world opens up. Suddenly, common, every-day occurrences and experiences become vibrant, even though they had always been right in front of us. The change? The Light came on, or rather, we stepped into it.

Enlightenment can be something as simple as becoming aware of the need to change a bad habit or as complicated as the awareness of the non-existence of time. One common trait of those having become enlightened is Humility. The recipient of the “Epiphany” fully realizes that he or she did nothing to obtain the revelation and can take no credit for its acquisition apart from surrendering the mind and preconceived notions. While the revelations received through a period of Enlightenment must eventually be translated through the mind, they first arrive in the spirit as simply a “knowing”. The mind then begins to take the received Truth and apply it to other areas replacing erroneous beliefs with new ones and altering the necessary ramifications of the new understanding. At this point, the person has changed and the enlightenment has had its full effect.

Enlightenment typically does not come through meditation, although meditation certainly sets the stage. It usually arrives after a stage of “pondering” or a set of circumstances. Even though the initial quest may begin with the Ego in the form of anxiety or cognitive dissonance, a request is sent out to the Universe through the spirit for Wisdom or Truth. This results in the “light bulb” moment when the answer arrives. While the mind may not fully comprehend the response all at once, it will eventually assimilate and adjust to the newly acquired truths. Often this comes after the Ego has tried everything within its power to solve a problem or “figure out” the reason behind a particular dilemma. Once it has become exhausted and arrives at a state of “giving up” or Surrender, the answer appears.

Enlightenment is essential to spiritual growth since it is necessary in delivering the Ego from Ignorance and Negative Energy. Wisdom is not the acquisition of knowledge and it is not produced by the human mind. Wisdom is Positive Energy. It comes through the spirit to the mind in the form of illumination. While it is true that Wisdom and Truth must be sought out, they cannot be “seen” without illumination through the spirit, which requires a surrender of the Ego. Although Enlightenment may not be as complicated as we sometimes believe, it is absolutely critical.

Opioid Crisis, School Shootings and the 21st Century

Two major headlines as of the writing of this article include the school shooting in Broward County, Florida and the ongoing crisis of opioid addiction and treatment. Everyone from news pundits to politicians is scrambling to offer answers, but few can agree on the source of the problem, much less a viable solution. Is it a gun control issue or a mental health issue? Do we clamp down on security in the school system or do we infringe on people’s personal freedom and begin screening everyone for mental health issues? The Orwellian implications conjured up by this discussion are many and few of us desire to travel down this rabbit hole.

What baffles many in the debate is that these problems have been going on for years and yet no solution appears to be in sight. Pointing to the ills of society, such as moral decay, increased violence in the media and advanced technology, yields few results since these trains have already left the building and change on this level requires decades if not more. Solutions will have to come from adaptation and thinking outside of the pre-Alexa box.

Recently, I read an article in the Charleston Gazette about a local foster care agency starting a college specifically for kids growing up in foster care. It was one of those “aha” moments when the “light bulb” comes on and you ask yourself; “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” Yes, there are target-specific Charter Schools which provide educational alternatives; however, they gleaned a negative reputation, largely because they competed for government funding with the public schools. Even though these schools are publicly funded, they do not come under the regulations of the local school board, and are seen as competition. However, this mindset could easily be challenged by the need for greater security and quality education for specific student populations.

Not only would smaller schools be easier to manage, especially when it comes to security, but they would also have the capability to be more student focused and target specific, such as in the case of foster care students or students with addiction related issues. In cases where students suffered from specific mental health disorders, they could attend a school that catered to that population but would offer quality education and alternative teaching methods, rather than the current “alternative” schools, which are often substitutes for behavioral problems, mental health issues and dumping grounds for failing students.  Even the larger “magnet” schools, which due to their size actually invite greater risk, could be broken up into sections and offer separate, secured education for different groups of students. These students could have lunch and activities separately from other students in order to minimize the risk of mass danger.

Another alternative is to spread out the educational process rather than have all learning take place under one roof. For example, Biology and Science could be taught by the local 4-H chapter at their location, Mathematics by another group as well as Computer Science, so on and so forth. This approach would require more thought and creativity but it is currently being done by homeschoolers across the nation.

When it comes to the Opioid crisis, recovering addicts are much in need of education in order to replenish lost social, academic and vocational skills. An academy which caters specifically to the addicted population would serve a great purpose and fulfill a much needed void. In fact, most treatment centers are inadequate to provide the necessary re-building skills to help someone in recovery go from the pit of addiction’s devastation to success and fulfillment. Recovering addicts need Hope and Positivity and even after coming out of treatment, most face a long, uphill battle of debt, loss and a depletion of social and vocational skills. Many recovering addicts are from multi-generational drug use and trafficking, and are in desperate need of education and exposure to healthy lifestyles and relationships.

When it comes to this two headed monster of drugs and violence, solutions are available. However, it will require some 21st Century thinking and some will have to be willing to surrender their former lifestyle and comforts in order to make the switch. Otherwise, the alternative solution will be for the government to force control and regulation which will undoubtedly invite more of the same results as in previous years.

The Goal of Recovery

Two main pillars of Recovery according to the 12 Steps are Acceptance and Surrender, and rightly so. The most important task in recovery is that of abiding in Positive Energy and allowing the Spirit to heal and redirect the Ego. We are not trying to eliminate the Ego; however, we must accept the fact that at some point our Ego became seduced by Addiction and lost its ability to reason and function appropriately. The Ego must be healed and this can only be done by accessing the principles of Life and Health through our Spirit. Positive Energy has to do with Life and its principles. Negative Energy is the opposite, of which Addiction is a powerful principle.

In case you think that this explanation of Life and the Universe is too simplistic, think in terms of electricity, molecular structure, binary language. These are fundamental elements, yet lay the foundation for huge portions of our lives. Or better yet think in terms of higher/lower frequencies. Addiction is a negative force which feeds on Negative energy and produces Negative energy. The goal for Recovery is to come to an appreciation of the principles of Life and to surrender to their power and daily application. This is primarily an issue of Health since Addiction functions as a disease. One must resist the urge to view this as a moral quest since the Ego will construct a false scenario of personal failure and redemption, thereby keeping the victim in a state of guilt, shame and behavioral expectation. This will ultimately lead to relapse and ensure that the cycle of Addiction continues. Rather than viewing recovery in terms of “good and bad” or “right and wrong”, it is best to view it simply as “healthy or unhealthy”.

The goal for Recovery is to come to love oneself and appreciate the Principles of Life which include Freedom, Love and Serenity.

The significance of Acceptance is that it keeps us grounded. One of the dangers which many encounter when attempting positive change is a type of “reverse denial”. Positive Energy is not the same as positive mental attitude. Invariably, in the early stages of Recovery or an improvement plan, the zeal to accomplish the task in the least amount of time causes one to develop an unrealistic and unbalanced view. New arrivals to treatment are often heard to say; “I don’t even want to use drugs any more” or, “I’m done with that lifestyle”. This “positive outlook” is nothing more than mental gymnastics and a type of denial. The missing component is true acceptance and an understanding of the nature of addiction.

The Ego is resistant to change. Resistance is fundamental to Negative Energy. It is automatic, instinctive. You may have experienced resistance as you began reading this article and came across concepts such as “Ego”, “Spirit” and “Positive/Negative energy”. You might have even had the thought; “this is bullshit”. This is an indication that your Ego is resisting change because it fears the loss of control. The main function of the Ego is that of self-preservation. It may seem incongruous to think that the Ego would align with Addiction having such a goal, but the Ego is highly susceptible to Negative Energy. The Ego desires to avoid pain and discomfort and addiction offers to eliminate them. Even though addiction ultimately leads to more pain and discomfort, by the time this realization is made, the individual is trapped in a negative dynamic.

In Recovery, the focus is primarily on alignment with Life’s Principles rather than behavior. Align with Life, behavior will follow.

The focus of recovery must be on alignment with Positive Principles such as Love, Serenity, Truth and Wisdom. One does not align with these principles through behavior, rather, through Surrender. Surrender encompasses more than just compliant behavior. Surrender embraces the light of Truth, Wisdom and Peace in pursuit of maturity and wholeness. As one surrenders to the laws and boundaries of these Principles, behavior naturally follows. This concept flies directly in the face of the Ego since it relies on behavior to make judgments and evaluations. It is possible to evaluate change by behavior, but one must look at motivation and intent rather than simply compliance or conformity. In Recovery, the focus is primarily on alignment with Life’s Principles rather than behavior. Align with Life, behavior will follow.

More on Spirit vs. Ego

Today’s Facebook feed included a post with a quote from  Thich Nhat Hanh.

If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert or a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert or my tea when I finally have them.

My initial reaction was to resist and argue with the concept as I approached it from my Egoic mind and emotion. I thought of the instant vs. delayed gratification argument and then went into personality typology thinking; “those SJ (Myers-Briggs) types would have no problem with this, so this means that SJ’s get a free pass when it comes to spirituality while the rest of us NP’s have to struggle to be good enough”. I recognized that my argumentativeness was my Ego’s way of resisting change, so I took another look at the quote from a different perspective.

After further consideration, I realized that what the author was saying was that “if I cannot find and surrender to the Joy in washing dishes prior to having dessert or tea, then I will not take the time to find and surrender to the Joy of the latter.” In other words, if I cannot be present and mindful while washing dishes and can only think of the future, then when I am finally able to enjoy my dessert or tea, I will continue to be disengaged in the moment. I will have established a pattern of my mind being some place other than my body and spirit. Most likely, when I am finally able to sit and “relax”, my thoughts will be directed to something else I need to do, or I will begin to take an inventory of my “to do” list making sure that I actually do “deserve” this time of respite.

The Ego is a master of deception. Not because it is evil or has bad intentions for us; rather, it strives to remain in control at all times, “protecting” us from perceived threats or even undesirable outcomes. This is more true when it comes to spiritual or religious matters. The Ego can excel in sacrificial or disciplinary action in the name of spirituality, as long as it can remain active and in control. Thus it is easy to feel that one is being spiritual by completing an undesirable chore prior to rewarding oneself, or that it is OK to take a break as long as you are fulfilling your obligations. However, this is not spirituality. Serenity is recognizing the truly important, such as serving a beloved by washing the dishes, or being grateful that one has food and dishes to clean up. It is also taking joy in the delights of dessert and tea. While our goal may not be to live a life of perfection, the more time we spend in Serenity, the more fulfilled we will be and, for recovering addicts, the more our recovery is insured.

The point of the above quotation is not the work which needs to be done, neither is it the discipline of handling more important matters first. The point is surrendering to spirit in order to be present in the moment and abiding in Serenity, being mindful of that which is truly important and taking Joy in the moment. The author’s point in the above quote is that rushing through a chore to get to what the Ego wants to do robs one of the Joy of both the chore and the relaxation afterward.

This reinforces the idea that Surrender is an exercise in our own best interest and not simply an act of obedience. Another lesson one may derive from this is that you cannot move from negative energy to positive via the Ego. No amount of “positive thinking” will convince you that doing the dishes is a delight. You must transfer control from the Ego to your Spirit. Engaging in the activity is a start, but you must surrender to Joy and allow it to change your mind and heart. Take in the warmth of the water, the aroma of the dish soap, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. You cannot arrive at Joy through your Ego, you must bring Joy to it instead!

 

Ego vs. Spirit

We have already established that the Ego is that natural part of us that is connected to the body, the mind and our primal emotions. In short, it is the Avatar we use to interact with the world around us and represent who we think we are.

The Spirit is that part of us which communicates with God or the Universe. It operates predominately in Positive Energy while the Ego is susceptible to Negative Energy due to its connection with the physical body and material world.

The Ego is basically a creation of the Mind through its attempt to understand the environment and interact with it. However, we are also Spiritual beings, connected to the Universe and subject to its Principles and Nature. The Mind interprets data from its immediate environment and translates it to the Ego. This can lead to false beliefs, erroneous conclusions and distortions which ignore the Spiritual Realm and its Principles. In order to live according to Spiritual Principles, one must drop the mask of the Ego and Surrender the Mind to its Spiritual Nature

When we begin in this endeavor, the Ego will offer great resistance. Many times, what we think are spiritual exercises with the goal of transformation are actually Mind-Ego-motivated thoughts and actions designed to comfort and restore the Ego to power. This is why we do not experience a change in our situation or circumstances as the Universe continues to honor the desire of our Will to transform. At this point we must learn to Surrender the negative thoughts and emotions generated by the Ego and embrace Positive Energy from our Spirit.

This can be a difficult, torturous process. Once I recognized that my Ego was the force behind my attempts at restoration, I began to ignore the negative thoughts and emotions it generated. At this point I felt “numb” rather than positive or joyful. I recognized this as progress but knew that I needed to press further in order to put my Spirit fully in control. I continued to have difficulty hearing my Intuition and discovered that during my meditation my Ego was trying to obtain information from my Spirit so that it could continue to be in control.

The objective for which we are striving is being led by our Intuition rather than by our wounded, negative Ego. Learning your personality type will help you considerably in knowing how your Ego responds to its environment and why you think/behave in a certain manner. Finding a Tarot Reader is one way in which you can navigate the Spirit realm and get feedback on your progress toward transformation. Mentors, Counselors, books and online groups may also provide assistance.

We have difficulty understanding why it is so difficult to operate from the Spirit and to surrender the mind and the Ego. This is because the Ego operates in Negative Energy which is manipulative, forceful and controlling. It is not that our Spirit is weaker, but that Positive Energy operates on Love and Respect. It has to wait for us to see the “light” or value and then set our Will or Intention to move. In other words, transformation requires self-determination. This also explains why co-dependency and victimization are such blockages in obtaining healing. Religious focus on obedience and compliance as well as adherence to dogma is another factor in becoming stuck on our journey.

As we take steps of Faith toward Liberation, it does not matter so much that we “get it right” but that we simply reach out to the Universe and that we begin to stand up and fight for our Selves with the realization that we are worthy and a beloved, integral part of Creation and the Universe.

Solving the “God” problem of Recovery

Although most religions claim to be spiritually focused, nearly all filter spirituality through the physical lens or require some type of behavioral compliance in order to obtain spiritual rewards. Monotheistic religions tend to view God as a singular being, much like ourselves, and worship Him as a personal deity rather than acknowledge the spiritual laws, principles and concepts that make up Positive Energy. The Bible states that “God is Love”. If He is Love, then it logically follows that He is also Wisdom. And if He is Wisdom, He is Truth; and Health; and all other things Positive. In fact, God is Positive Energy; ALL of it, which also means that ALL of it is also God. That means that we need to give the same reverence to Health as we do to Love, Truth and Wisdom. It also means that we need to place far more emphasis and importance on spiritual matters rather than earthly or temporal matters. Of course, we are constantly reminded to do this by scriptures, sages, prophets and the occasional televangelist. It’s just that we get so easily distracted by all this “physical” stuff we have to do, that we forget the spiritual.

It is most helpful to shift one’s view of God to that of Positive Energy and focus on the Principles of Love, Truth, Wisdom, etc. since these are attributes which require personal acknowledgment and action, rather than expecting a divine entity to do something for us or meet our needs. If we perceive God to be like ourselves, then we will eventually project our prejudices and expectations onto Him which will lead to disappointment, and subsequently, resentment. In fact, it is better to perceive ourselves as more like God than vice-versa. If we realize that we have access to His energy through surrender to His laws and principles, then we are more likely to pick up our responsibility and flow within the properties of Positive Energy. Moreover, our objective will become one of self-investment rather than simply obedience to a superior entity. It is hardly noble to obey an entity who can obliterate you with a simple thought, and blind obedience hardly seems to be the objective of creating a free-will agent. However, freely acknowledging that which is valuable and surrendering oneself to its principles for self-advancement and benefit is quite noble indeed.

Religions tend to focus more on the adherence to moral code rather than the natural boundaries of spiritual principles such as Love or Truth. The Golden Rule is very simple; treat others as you would like to be treated. No need for an elaborate list of do’s and don’ts. Religious or Egotistic thought tends to place the cart of behavior ahead of the horse of one’s location within Positive or Negative Energy. It is one’s spiritual location that will determine the consequent behavior and not vice-versa. One of the major focal points of our physical state is our need to judge based on performance. After all, our survival is directly related to our ability to perform. In the spirit realm, however, there is no need to evaluate by performance since it is not the individual who is in control, but God, The Universe or Universal Principles.  The objective is not to “get it right” so much as it is to line up with, or to get into the stream of things. If we are operating in Love then our subsequent actions will be motivated by Love. Our location in Positive or Negative Energy is largely determined by our focus, intention and level of enlightenment.

Since we live in, and are surrounded by, material objects subject to physical laws and properties with limitations, our spiritual vision is, at best, myopic.  Our physical and mental state is quite fragile, and as a result, we tend to be very Narcissistic and ego-driven.  We desperately need to control our environment, and our future; consequently, we revere choice, logic and behavior. We tend to think more in terms of “do” rather than simply “be”. We evaluate ourselves on our performance and our ability to acquire material possessions, take care of ourselves and accomplish things. What’s more, we imagine that God also evaluates us by these standards. In reality, God is not some “person” out there judging us; rather, He is Love, Peace, Serenity, Truth, Wisdom, and everything we truly need, waiting for us to get things in proper perspective and engage Him, or His Principles.

In truth, the Spiritual operates much differently from the physical. Positive Energy has a set of laws and principles that operate exclusively within its realm. The same is true for Negative energy. Positive energy consists of Love, Peace, Serenity, Joy, Wisdom, Truth, Justice, Mercy, Health and so on. These are the principles of Life. They are invaluable and worth any sacrifice in order to experience them daily. But in order to have them in operation, we must first see them, and then pursue them. Since these are spiritual principles, we must seek them with our spirit, or our Higher Self. However, since we are accustomed to operating in the physical realm, this gets quite tricky and the Ego is quite persistent in maintaining control.

The Addiction/Grief Link

The greatest difficulty in becoming our true, authentic self is that our Will or Intention first filters everything through the Soul. This is necessary since the soul and body are linked and completely dependent upon one another for survival. The “Self” that emerges as a result of the experiences, interpretations, thoughts and emotions of this soul/body interdependency is known as our Ego. The Ego is not our complete “Self”, but it certainly makes up the larger percentage of our awareness until we make a conscious change. For the most part, this is who we identify ourselves to be. By the time we discover that we are also spiritual beings, most of us have already developed a sophisticated network of beliefs, coping strategies and substitutes for whatever lack, real or perceived, that we may have experienced. It is only through the surrender of our Ego to our Spirit that we are able to rise above our earthly understanding and comprehend matters of the Spirit. It is not our task to destroy the Ego and replace it with our Spirit, thereby putting to death our “sinful nature”. This is not possible. Our Ego is our Self, or at least a large portion of it, and any attempt to replace it is an exercise in Denial and Negative Energy.  In order to abide in Positive Energy, which is where the Principles of Life, Love, Wisdom, Truth and all other Positive Principles reside, the Will or Intention must Surrender to Positive Energy. Since Positive Energy is not aggressive or forceful, the individual must become enlightened to the value of Positive Energy and then desire it above all else.

Perhaps no greater illustration of this can be found than that of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Any recovering addict knows that the path to Serenity lies in Acceptance and Surrender. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages that occurred during the Grief process, which are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Recovering addicts will immediately recognize these stages as major components in addiction. However, very few programs make grief work a foundation in their approach and simply address it as a separate issue. It is in the final stage that one comes to terms with the forced changes that have taken place and makes the necessary adjustment in order to move forward and return to a state of Serenity and productivity. Addiction forces its victim to undergo numerous losses and changes throughout its devastating course. It perpetually throws its victim into the grieving process, never allowing him to exit through the door of Acceptance. Many programs attempt to deal with Denial, Anger and Depression as separate issues, never seeing them as processes or working toward a singular goal; Acceptance.

During the course of addiction, one’s Ego is badly battered and torn and becomes filled with guilt, shame and sorrow due to numerous losses. In order to escape the ravages of grief, the recovering addict must accept that he has been under the influence of a disease and has lost many things which he will not be able to recover. Indeed, the recovering addict’s own identity has been distorted and diminished by the very nature of the disease. He must then come to believe that, although his Ego is powerless over this disease, his true self, or Spirit, is free from its grip. This is Acceptance. Surrender is then turning his Will over to God, or Positive Energy, one day at a time. In order to be successful, he cannot allow his battered Ego to climb back into the driver’s seat and have full control.

No real, positive change can occur apart from Acceptance. Attempts to rationalize, suppress, or otherwise “move on” without fully accepting the corruption of the Ego will result in denial and the implementation of a coping strategy and/or substitutes for authentic healing. This is not to say that one must get bogged down by overthinking or ruminating over the past. In fact, Acceptance often takes place on a subconscious level apart from the awareness of the individual. However, in most cases, acknowledgement is required and sometimes further action such as forgiveness and setting of intention. Often, the assistance of a professional counselor or a supportive sponsor will be required in order to complete the work.

Acceptance is coming to terms with the past, that which cannot be changed and that which must be changed, then, having made that determination, letting go. Acceptance, in the recovery sense, does not mean accepting defeat; rather, it means accepting one’s Ego, the damage caused by addiction, the lies, the compensation and the loss; and then, that all of this is an illusion created by the twisted Ego. Surrender to one’s own Spirit, the pursuit of Positive Energy, Life and all Its Principles will restore the True Self. It is turning one’s face toward the Sun and allowing the Light of Life and the warmth of Healing to permeate one’s being and bring restoration.

Positive & Negative Energy

In order to make the adjustment and begin operating more in the spiritual realm, or in Positive Energy, we need to put things in proper perspective. Positive Energy is that which is Real or Authentic. Negative Energy is a mirror, a shadow, a void. Positive Energy is Life, Negative Energy is Death. In other words, anything that leads to vitality, serenity and fulfillment is within the realm of Positive Energy. Love, Truth, Serenity, Peace, Joy, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy, Health, Freedom, Success, Prosperity, Courage, Victory, Fidelity and Integrity are all properties of Positive Energy. The goal of Positive Energy is always wholeness, completion, maturity and fruition. We know this simply by observing nature.

So then, Positive Energy is where we want to be. That is the second distinction that we need to make as we look to transition from the physical to the spiritual. Serenity, Love, Wisdom and Peace are a location. It is not so much about what we do as it is where we are. Take a few seconds to meditate on that and let its Truth permeate your soul. Meditation takes you to the place of Serenity. It does not give you Serenity. We are spirit beings and as such, we engage spiritual principles regularly whether we know it or not.  As we live in this corporeal body, we will always have to balance between Positive and Negative energy, since we are surrounded by both. As we know from nature, Life operates in cycles. It is logical to assume that this life is merely a cycle and that death simply marks the end of this cycle. It is best not to view Positive and Negative energy as “good and bad” or “right and wrong”. Doing so introduces a moral component which actually serves to empower Negative energy.

The next observation we need to make is, if “do” is not the primary focus in Positive Energy, then how do we simply “be”? The answer to that is Surrender. The principles of Life have been around long before we arrived on the scene. It is not up to us to “figure them out”, or to try to control them. Our task is simply to connect with Life and allow the gifts, talents and expression with which we have been endowed, to flow forth. This means not only surrender to the principles of Life, but surrender to our higher self, our spirit, our Heart! We need to surrender to the part of us that hears the voice of Wisdom, Peace and Joy! We must make a distinction between our Spirit and our Ego and no longer allow our broken, hurt, dysfunctional Ego to be in charge.

Surrender is not the same as “choice”, which is necessary in the physical realm. Surrender is more of an attitude, a position. It is a type of respect. By surrendering, we acknowledge the inherent value of the principles of Positive Energy as well as our place and benefit within their boundaries.  While surrender, at times, requires choice, it often involves a relinquishing of choice. However, this “relinquishing of choice” is done so that we may remain within the boundaries of Positive Energy. For example, we may surrender to Forgiveness in order to remain within the boundaries of Love, or we may surrender to Simplicity in order to remain within the boundaries of Health. We can say that we “choose to forgive”, but in reality, we either surrender to the law of Love or we fail to surrender and remain in bitterness. We either surrender to the natural laws of Health, or we make choices based out of ignorance and eat what is sold to us through slick marketing campaigns. To say that we have a choice between Positive and Negative Energy is like saying we have a choice between a gold coin and a plastic replica. Choosing the plastic would not only demonstrate Ignorance, but disrespect as well. Surrendering to Positive Energy also gives us access to Wisdom and Freedom, which are both necessary in making wise choices.

One must not look at Surrender as a “giving away” of oneself, or as losing one’s identity. Surrender is simply acknowledging the value and boundaries of Positive Energy. Surrender to Positive Energy is an investment in one’s Self and as such, provides a return in the end. Let’s return to our concept of Mastery. Think about a Master Chef, a Master Carpenter or a Master Electrician. In order to become a master, one must be dedicated or devoted to his craft. It requires an intense level of focus, perseverance, and patience. In other words, it requires complete Surrender! But this does not result in taking away from the pupil; rather, it results in expansion, a return on his investment.

This principle can be applied in all areas of Positive Energy such as Love, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, and so on. Each of these principles has laws, boundaries, and anticipated outcomes. They are not always as “black and white” as they would appear to be and are quite often paradoxical. For example, Love may require that a certain amount of Negative Energy be tolerated for a period of time. Joy often crosses what seems to be a boundary into the Negative through the enjoyment of a glass of wine, or an adrenaline rush. Think of it as light piercing darkness. Boundaries do exist, however, and surrender must be engaged in order to remain within the realm of Positive Energy. If we attempt to extend Joy beyond its boundaries, we may encounter Addiction, for example. Or, if we love someone and tolerate abuse, neglect or negative behavior then we enable them and disrespect ourselves.

In fact, it is possible to elevate or emphasize one particular Principle and violate the Principle of Harmony. If one over emphasizes Truth for example, he may become rigid or legalistic and neglect Mercy or Compassion. This opens the door for abuse, judgment and even hatred. On the other hand, one may over emphasize Love and neglect to set proper boundaries which leads to disrespect and abuse as well. All of the Principles of Positive Energy must be equally valued and respected. Freedom, for example, recognizes the sovereignty of each individual and respects boundaries even though it contains the concept of limitlessness.

Positive and Negative energy operate differently and it is important to make the distinction. Positive Energy is Light. It is intrinsically valuable in that it provides benefit, Life and a positive return to those who invest time and effort to abide within it. By its very nature, which includes Love, Freedom and Peace, it is not forceful or coercive. Rather, it is gentle, patient and forgiving. Negative Energy is opposite. It is forceful, dominating, coercive, deceitful and destructive. Addiction, Disease and Ignorance are perfect examples of Negative Energy. It is for this reason that the Ego alone is insufficient in achieving personal fulfillment and that healing or recovery must include Surrender to Spirit and Positive Energy. The Ego can easily be deceived or overwhelmed by Negative Energy. Only through Surrender to the Light of Wisdom, Truth and Love can it be restored to its original authentic self.