Friday, March 25, 2011

Transformative Beliefs and Values

When I wrote the book, Seeds from the Ashes, I wanted to share with others my reasoning for becoming an advocate for self-enlightenment. I also wanted to know to what extent did I have the power to transform my life. And how do people find themselves suffering so much from their decisions?

As a writer, it's quite challenging to share your exact thoughts and feelings on paper. Regardless to the number of times you proofread the material,  there's something missing between feelings and words. The words don't accurately describe your true feelings.

In the case of Seeds from the Ashes, I toiled for several years trying to conjugate my thoughts with my words. There were many times when what I was thinking and feeling were not expressed on paper. I couldn't open up enough to the vulnerary insights to come forth.

At times I was afraid of my ego, my pride. And I found it difficult, too painful, to delve into my thoughts and search for the causes of my actions. Then, to make matters worse, I felt the deep pain and embarrassment of having lived with myself for this time and yet I had no real understanding about how I made the decisions to place myself in this hellhole of suffering.

At some point during the book, I began to realize that I was not alone in my feelings or my desires to change my life. There are many people like me. I am the expression of victim parenthood. I am the one imprisoned in a world of illusions. To me everything is all about living and dying with suffering.

Whenever we identify our pain and suffering with others, we begin to normalize it, make it more acceptable. We feel it's all right to embrace suffering as part of transcendence. This is what we have been taught by others to do.

According to their teachings, we become free of our suffering when we die. In the meantime, we must make the best of lives anyway we can. There's only so much time and if we chase after self-discovery, the world will leave us behind.

Nevertheless, after we think about how we are taught to live, we begin to ask questions: "Who am I? What is my purpose? How do I accomplish my purpose?  These and other questions on why we're living the way we do will continue until we seriously begin the self-discovery process. This is the essence of "Seeds from the Ashes."

 Seeds from the Ashes is not a novel, love story, nor is it about violence, politics, or even religion. It's a workbook that requires the reader to engage in self-discovery.

It's about our individual powers to transform our lives. It's an awakening for us to realize that books, prayers, meditations, and so forth are tools we use to transform our own individual lives. They are not the final solution to our problems.

It's a reminder that we are always present in everything that happens in our lives. Whether they are miracles, calamities, happiness or sadness, we're always there participating in whatever is going on.

It's a wake-up call to let us know how our beliefs limit us. And how we have the power to change our beliefs at anytime we choose. One of the beliefs that we can choose is enlightenment or self-awakening.

To change our beliefs is a daunting task. I am aware how precious our beliefs are to us, and how most of us are reluctant to change them unless we absolutely have to. That's why self-discovery is so important to change.

It helps us to face the fears causing us to cling to our beliefs. This doesn't mean we have to change all our beliefs, it means we must understand how they were created in our lives.

Similarly, when we understand the origins of our beliefs, we are better equipped to accept personal responsibility for nurturing them for so long. We are awaken from the psychological suffocation of victimhood where we are imprisoned by the illusions of the world.

The realness of the illusions of success, failure, doubt, fears worry, egoism, and so forth inextricably tie us to our beliefs. The illusions validate our beliefs in suffering as being a part of our purpose.  This allows us to create more and more suffering while believing we are creating more and more happiness.

At some point the suffering becomes unbearable. This is when we are able to clearly see the nightmare we have created for ourselves. This the point in our lives when we are ready to listen, to seek something to free us from our self-induced nightmares.

Unfortunately, I had reached this point in my life when I began writing "Seeds from the Ashes." Why and how did I make such stupid mistakes to place myself in this unpleasant, undesirable situation? Initially, I blamed others. Then I blamed myself. And finally, I accepted personal responsibility for the social and psychological carnage.

Before we reach the point in our lives where we finally recognize the suffering, and are willing to accept that we're responsible for it, we are busy moving on by playing games with the illusions. We are mired in the miasma of illusory actions searching for the answers to our purposes.

No one can tell us when it's time to examine our actions. We must reach the point of awareness on our own. For some of us it might be a few years, while to others in might be many years. It really doesn't matter how long it takes us to wake-up as long as we wake-up. 

Meanwhile, during the time interval between victim and awaken one, we must be mindful of the thoughts prodding us to change, to do something about the way we're feeling about ourselves. Some people call this intuition.

It really doesn't matter what we call it, because it's nothing more than playing the semantics game. We are merely searching for the right words to describe our feelings.

Seeds from the Ashes is one of the steps on my path. My path on this planet is known to me and to those I share it with. We all are taking steps on our paths everyday. It's only when we become aware of them that we are able to understand where they are leading us.

Seeds from the Ashes describes the transformative actions we take to guide us through the self-discovery process. To me, it reflects the awareness of where I am on my journey. And it lets me know that I have more work to do to transform my life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Second-Guessing Ourselves"

There are too many times in our lives that we second-guess our decisions. This wishy-washy behavior causes some of us to question our readiness to take care of ourselves.

On many occasions, we feel ill prepared to make the tough, pressured decisions stemming from the stressful situations we find ourselves in. In these types of stressful situations, the stress seems to overpower us and render us powerless.

Sometimes, during stressful situations, we cannot act the way we want to and that's from positions of high resolve. We feel too victimized by the stress to do much of anything except reaction to the tensions driving us to do something, anything, to free ourselves. These are the times when we forget that we are making the decision without thinking clearly.

After the stress has subsided, and we're able to think without the looming dangers, that's when we begin to second-guess ourselves by wishing we had done something different. For most of us, these are just moment of wishful thinking, because we don't seriously plan to change our behavior.

Similarly, if we do desire to change our behavior, we are fully aware that we must be willing to examine the actions causing us to second-guess ourselves. And, unfortunately, we don't really want to travel down this road.

Some of us know, at least viscerally, that there's something causing us to feel like victims in certain situations. Moreover, something is blocking our visions to perceive the other options available to us.

We clearly know, after-the-fact, that we could have made different decisions. We are now cognizant of the alternatives that were available for us to use. 

Unfortunately, when we're blinded by stress, we don't think outside of the box. We make our decisions based on a decision-making process that we've used for years. This is not a formal process or anything of that sort, it's just the things we do whenever we place ourselves in stressful situations.

One of the key responses to stress is anger. And most of us become particularly angry with ourselves. We denigrate ourselves deeper into depression while searching for others to blame for creating the stress in our lives. This is how we keep the stress alive in us long after the stressful situation is over.

While anger might not be as pronounced as our fears and self-doubts, it's equally as powerful. Some of us can usually pinpoint the fears and self-doubts because they're the more obvious culprits responsible for the way and manner we make stressful decisions.

Meanwhile, few of us ever complain about anger being responsible for second-guessing our decisions. Yet there are obviously some situations where stress is caused by our anger and our responses to it.  In these situations we can usually apologize to the individuals and then move on. 

Nevertheless, during the moments of great anxiety, and in those not-so-personal situations, we're unable to solve the problems by simply apologizing for our behavior. There's more at stake than bruised egos. We must face the beliefs and values we use to make our decisions.

And for us to do this, we must engage in self-discovery. Self-discovery means taking the time to fully examine the origins of our beliefs and values and creating the awareness to change them.

While we are responsible for our beliefs and values, we frequently don't fully understand how we obtained this responsibility. We know most of our beliefs come from our parents, teachers, friends, environment and society itself.

Although we don't remember when we first began using them, we know they're the ones we live by.

During the current social, political, and economic turmoil we have had numerous experiences with deciding what to do about home foreclosures, unemployment, debt, and fears of looming destruction from wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, and so forth.

In most of  these real-life situations, we find it difficult to know what's the correct thing for us to do. If we decide one way or the other, we inevitably think about it later by wondering if we made the correct decision.

Unfortunately, the decision we made to remove the suffering only exacerbated it with more suffering. At the time we made the decision, we thought we were acting empowered.

However, the realness of the problems and its corollary fears only plunged us deeper into the abyss of self-doubts and second-guessing ourselves.

The solution to second-guessing is a simple one. We must remain mindful of the power we have to make decisions that affect our lives.

We must use our power to construct beliefs and values that enlighten us to change how we think and act in certain situations.

The power of enlightenment is limitless. It has no boundaries or limitations. We limit ourselves by embodying beliefs and values that diminish our worthiness to use enlightened beliefs and values.

Our world begins and ends with our self-awareness. We are our beliefs and values.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mindful Parenting Relationships

It's not easy for parents to accept shortcomings in their children. Most of us want them to be almost perfect.

We believe their successes make it easier for us to feel good about ourselves. This allows us to beat our chests and rave about our children over and over to anyone willing to listen.

Meanwhile,  there are some of us who are parents of children that are not only not close to being perfect, but are downright disappointments.

We constantly wonder what happened to them. Why did they turn out this way? Who's responsible? Us?

Sometimes it's difficult to accept that we are the parents of not-so-perfect children. We expect them to have successful lives, not fall prey to deleterious behavior and succumb to the perils of failure.

Unfortunately, they sometimes don't quite measure up to our expectations. And when they don't measure up, we blame both them and ourselves.

Some of us find it very difficult to accept personal responsibility for their failures. Whenever we reminisce abut them as small children, we always recall the high expectations we had for them.

Oh, we wanted so badly for them to be successful. And we were willing to work three jobs, if necessary, to provide them with the resources to grow up as successful adults.

So most of us don't quite know how to understand how we messed up. We surely didn't plan for our children to disappoint us.

Even though most of us have not had any formal or informal training on becoming successful parents, we tried to do the best we could. At least, this is what we tell ourselves over and over again.

We, like our parents before us, learned about parenting on the go. And whether we like it or not, we received most of our parenting training from our parents, books, movies, and so forth.

Our parents taught us about morality, spirituality, education, work, responsibilities, and so on. These were basically the same beliefs they had acquired from their parents.

Similarly, it was from our parents or guardians that we began to develop likes and dislikes about the way they treated us.

Sometimes they were angry with us. They spanked or whipped (beat) us for things we didn't quite understand at the time.

While on other occasions, they took us to the movies, on vacation, to the park, sports' events, to get burgers, and so on.

After we become adults, we begin to judge our parents. Frequently, we complain about how badly we were treated or we felt unloved by them.

We blame them, in many instances, for our problems and for not achieving the things we wanted, but were unwilling to work hard for. And we promise ourselves we will raise our children differently.

So parenting is something we don't really know very much about prior to becoming parents.

Nevertheless, it is something most of us believe we are capable of doing, and doing it better than our parents.

Perhaps we think this way because as adults our parents don't seem to have the same power over us as they did when were kids.

This probably causes us to believe we are equal to or greater than because we know more about the latest trends in parenting. 

It seems that some of us continue to mimic our parents parenting techniques even as we oppose them.

We continue to hold dearly to the beliefs that the paradigm family is one with two parents, children, and a happy household.

We rarely, if ever, envision ourselves being a single parent, with children in an unhappy household.  In other words, we don't consciously prepare for variations in the paradigm.

Similarly, as we get closer to becoming parents, we begin to imagine ourselves in a happy relationship with our spouse and children.

It's the perfect relationship that have us coming home from work to a nice, spacious, well designed home and finding our spouse and children greeting us with hugs and kisses.

We further imagine sitting at the dinner table with the family eating a sumptuous meal and the family recapitulating the day's events.

For many of us, the dream is nothing like the reality itself. Parenting is much more complex than just imagining happiness.

We don't plan for those moments where we experience disharmony, arguments, abuse, isolation, anger, oppression, uncertainty, and overall disappointment in ourselves as parents.

And as much as we hate to admit it, this is the time when we realize we just don't know as much about parenting as we thought we did.

We forgot about how our parents might have felt while coping with our dysfunctional behavior, rebellion, disrespect, and failing grades.

When we reach the point in our parenting of having to acknowledge that we need to learn more about ourselves, we can no longer rely on the reference points of the past. We need to find a new perspective to go to that's ideal for us. 

Meanwhile, some of us who reach these moments where we must seek clarity by embracing a new perspective, we begin to become mindful of our actions and what's causing them.

This is the moment we begin to use mindfulness to guide us in our decision-making.

This is the moment we become open to our own imperfections and to those of our children.

This is the moment we gain insights on the meaning of individualism, both in terms of goals and actions.

This is the moment we understand the relationship between parents and children.

This is the moment we understand the divisions of power and responsibility.

This is the moment when we recognize that as parents we not only are responsible for imparting our beliefs and values to our children, but for teaching them how to accept personal responsibility for the information.

Children have very limited power in the parenting relationships. They are taught beliefs and values by us that make very little sense to them.

They, like we did as children, perceive the world as a place they know very little about. And like us, they accept what we teach them until they are exposed to different information.

Somewhere within the parenting conundrum is the mindfulness we need to guide us beyond our parenting sufferings, the expectations, the unwillingness to let go, the clinging to power, and the attachments to our children's successes or failures.

To become mindful means we become fully present in all our parenting decisions.

It means our willingness to accept and understand that our children have power, individuality, goals, and desires, too.

It means we are responsible for guiding them on how to use this power to become successful children.

And it means we must release our attachments to the results.