Chapter 5, part 21, How to challenge yourself spiritually (part 4)

Challenging your thoughts is one way to test your spirituality whilst another way is to challenge the body. You have heard of the stories. Some of them are about climbing Everest, walking the Camino trail, doing a 1 month yoga retreat, travelling to India and of course, packing your bags and jumping on the first flight out of here. These are all ways that people challenge themselves physically, yet there does appear to be one common psychological thread that makes these experiences so impacting to the individual.

Before I tell you what that common thread is let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of the Camino trail? I’ve personally done long trails before though haven’t ever done anything like this. It’s a pilgrimage from either France or East Spain (you can choose where you want to start) to North West Spain. On any given day you can walk from 20 to 50k’s going from one hostel to the next. Along the way you see some nice views and meet some kind locals, yet, it’s more about the journey than seeing the sights. The journey is around 4 to 6 weeks so there is a lot of time to be with your thoughts.

A friend of mine who did the Camino came back calmer than I had ever seen her. It reminded me of when I came back from India and had the same calm, content, easy going, no rush attitude that most of us want in life. Not only was her mind clear though she also became aware of all the superficial bulls^#t that we all worry about all the time. She found that these daily ‘things’ we often complain about (and get frustrated over) were something she couldn’t connect with anymore. It was like watching children bicker over the remote control. And although my friends new lease on life only lasted for a couple of months (as eventually she would reacclimatise herself to other people’s version of reality) during that time she was clear, appreciative of a simple life, and an observer of events rather than being swept up by them. She was present.

The common thread that I was alluding to earlier was the time and space we have to ourselves whilst undertaking these journeys. It’s a long separation and/or humbling experience that distances our mind so far from the rushing 9 to 5 world, that it allows us to see the bigger picture. These types of experiences take us away from our phones, the internet, TV, Netflix, people complaining about useless s&^t, and all the other countless options for us to fill our time. They also give us space to walk through our thoughts until we don’t need to anymore. When these thoughts fade and enough time has elapsed watching TV suddenly becomes a novelty, as does meaningless chores that we used to see as a bother. Life becomes one of appreciation and not of things to do.

The above also makes sense in an evolutionary way. Our minds have never been so over stimulated than what they are today. Even 100 years ago there was no TV and many people didn’t even listen to the radio on a regular basis. They sat in silence, they were forced to talk to each other and most of their escapism was either through physical or reading activities.

So to summarise, presence occurs when all thoughts and emotions that are tied to the past and future are not clouding our present experience. Presence is a form of being content with who we are whilst not being driven by our ego/identity. This is the reason why people say that it is not something you fight for but rather something that you accept. But please remember this very important point. To find something like presence we sometimes have to walk the path to find out that we didn’t need to. And trust me, that path is one of the most exciting journeys you will ever take.

She was Present Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 20, How to challenge yourself spiritually (part 3)

Challenging life can mean challenging your thoughts. To do this you will need to pay attention to what you are thinking at any given moment. This being said, paying attention to everything is overwhelming so you might just want to focus on one specific topic of concern at a time. A great example of this is when a potential partner is around you. Do you say to yourself ‘this is a beautiful person I would like to speak to’ or ‘I’m not good enough to speak to them.’ And if your thoughts do go towards a negative response then this is a great opportunity to follow the rabbit hole by asking:

Why did I say that?

What do I gain emotionally from saying that?

When did I start stating that?

What experience did I have which led me to this statement?

What reinforced this belief?

Does this belief system reflect reality or only my perception of reality?

Does this belief really reflect who I am today?

A while ago I wrote a blog about the power of questions. You are already asking yourself thousands of questions each day yet often (because they are automatic) they can be limiting ones. The above questions bring the ego into account. It challenges your identity though only if you answer the questions properly.

If the above questions are answered egotistically you will undoubtable give bias negative responses reinforcing the belief you already have. But if you ask it openly without prior presumption/identity or ego then the only truth is that you are as welcomed to speak to that other person as much as anyone else is. Any emotional reactions connected to your responses means that you are bringing a belief system into the equation.

Now don’t get me wrong, of course our history of experiences has created our identity and there are many amazing life lessons we need to hold onto. Yet I am specifically talking about the identity that thinks we are not as good as others, that we don’t deserve better, that our life is destined to be crap, that life is depressive, and, that there is no hope. This is not factual but rather a limited perception of a bruised ego. Our mind put 2 and 2 together from life experiences though forgot to calculate the other 96%.

That 96% (which is closer to 99.9%) includes every other experience you have had in life. And although you may have taken this one specific lesson into your adulthood (by blowing it out of proportion in your mind which in return created limiting beliefs and blockages) it certainly doesn’t mean that this belief has to continue. As stated above, it can be stopped by being present and calling yourself out on thoughts that no longer have a place in today’s reality.

Okay, so I used the ‘asking a person out’ example though please don’t stop there. Apply this rule to moments of anxiety around family, work colleagues, daily life and even politics. I am aware that this may not be easy at first, yet by continually catching yourself in emotional responses (and then querying them) your brain will eventually get the point. And that point is that the past no longer reflects your present self. Plus, although it may take further time till you finally believe this (and even further time till physical reactions then represent themselves to your new way of thinking) it is the beginning of a new positive and aware mindset.

(part 4 will be out next week)

Confront the ego Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 19, How to challenge yourself spiritually (part 2)

The spiritual path can be anything you want. It can be a fluffy journey of fun, colour, connection with others and promiscuous sex. Yet it can also be about tearing down your walls so that you can see clearer. The smart people are the ones that try to achieve both.

Those that are content with life will often not choose to challenge it, and why would you? If things are going well then keep those barrels rolling. Yet those that feel unsatisfied with how they view the world and with who they perceive themselves to be within it are often the ones seeking to challenge their ego. People who are quick to anger, depression or anxiety may also seek this path along with those who simply don’t feel like they belong in the world. Blaming ourselves for this disconnection is common whilst frustration for those that appear to ‘get it’ is also natural.

Not only is the above not true (as most people feel out of place throughout their life yet they ignore it or hide it well) but this feeling can be seen as a calling. The subconscious mind is screaming that something needs to shift and that a change needs to happen. This is an awareness of self and is what leads people to blogs, podcasts and videos (such as this) for possible guidance, education and bad jokes. Ahem…

Although change is what we might seek the hardest thing consciousness can do is question its own reality. In the mind, the difference between having a ground beneath our feet and defining ourselves as a good or bad person is not so different. The ego needs control of its reality and therefore the emotions that are tied heavily to our identity try desperately to hold on. This is because without our identity then who are we? What is left? I guess it’s just limbo.

As scary as limbo may be this is the perfect time to listen to our inner selves without the influence of our ego. Guidance then often comes hard and fast with heightened enthusiasm, yet the things it may ask of us are often not what we would have expected. Quit that job, leave that house or partner, stop hanging with those friends, take up dancing, do surfing, stop smoking, isolate yourself and so forth. And when these flooding ideas come to us we have to be careful not to go straight to thoughts such as ‘that’s stupid’ or ‘I’m too old’ or ‘that’s too hard’. This is the ego creeping back. Instead, the spiritual journey is about going with the flow and the enthusiasm that comes with it.

If you decide to take a massive spiritual journey you need to question everything. Be like the annoying child who always asks ‘why’ and keeps asking ‘why’ until an answer becomes prevalent and can’t be anything else. Most things tend to have answers and yet at times you find questions such as ‘does a tree in the woods make a sound?’ and you realise that not all things are straight forward. Each of us has a question such as this which gives us this eureka moment where we go ‘aaahhhh’ and get goose bumps. And if you keep following down the spiritual path this s#$t happens all the time! You can be like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

(Part 3 of this blog will be coming next week)

Identity Theory Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman

Chapter 5, part 18, How to challenge yourself spiritually (part 1)

If we want to make a spiritual change in our life we have to challenge our ego. It must be done this way because our ego is a part of us and not something that can be removed. It’s best described as a sense of self, so if we were to get rid of it completely there would be no ‘self’ remaining. And as cool as this sounds it’s simply not possible to lose one’s ego whilst alert and in our duel form.

So if the ego is who we are and what defines us then how can we possibly challenge or change it? This question is actually simple. Take the scientific method for instance (I have added the template in this blog). If you are able to remain objectionable beyond your own belief systems then this process is possible. The conundrum with this is that to remain objectionable you may require the ability to be self-aware and present. And because this is what we are trying to achieve in certain areas of our life (therefore alluding to the fact that we may not be there yet) how does one get to this state? Well, that’s what this chapter is all about.

We are all objectionable about certain things. It’s a natural part of evolution. The issues around objectivity only arise when it comes to us being emotionally connected to identity. Examples are: I am left/right wing, I am a loser, I am a failure, life is unfair (faithless), Earth is flat and global warming is not real (conspiracy theorist), people are inherently bad (jaded), life is unjust (defeatist), I have no ego (egoic), Brisbane are a great AFL team (delusional) and so forth. These are just examples (except for the Brisbane thing) and each belief system can be linked to multiple different identities that we may have beyond the ones listed above.

It is when we are emotionally bias towards one point of view (with or without scientific evidence to back up our case) that we know our ego is getting involved. And the reason why sorting through our ego is often called a spiritual journey is because we are trying to tear down our belief systems (which were created across our life) to get to the core of our wants and desires. Some people will use the metaphor of ‘finding your inner child’ and yet I try to avoid saying this, as it sounds like you are being childish as opposed to doing what YOU actually want in life.

(Part 2 of this blog will be released next week as this is a big one)

Scientific method Jamie Lee Woodman a.k.a The Lonely Spaceman