I recall going through life learning to focus on what I lacked; that I never quite had what I needed to be okay. I needed to be thinner, I needed to never feel depressed or angry, I needed to be smarter and more interesting so more people would like me, I needed way more money and all the experiences and objects that money could afford. The list of vague, dreamy desires was literally endless. Residing in the middle of a stagnant tornado of wants, never knowing there was another option, I had no idea how painful of a way that was to live.
Even as I attained certain desires or adopted new ones, I found shifting around the contents of my life didn’t take that thorn out of my paw, and that became more and more depressing and confusing. Happiness and contentment felt elusive, like an invisible slippery fish I could never keep hold of. Everywhere I went, someone or something was telling me that if I worked hard enough, my happiness could be found in attaining all the things and experiences I craved, and in only feeling positive thoughts and emotions while avoiding the negative ones. My heart aches at this impossible task that is thrust upon us as if it were true.
When I met the Balanced View Training, I was met with the message again and again that I was okay regardless of my circumstances, thoughts or emotions. At first I felt affronted by this, “How dare you tell me I’m already okay, I don’t have all the things I want and I think so many negative thoughts! I am not good enough yet! Maybe you can say you’re okay because you don’t really know what it’s like to be depressed, or you have more money than me and never have to worry about paying rent…” Defensive ideas would whir and flare up at any mention that right here, right now, with whatever was going on in my life, I could relax and recognize that I am always stable and well, regardless of any data I was experiencing.
But even with sometimes intense resentments and victimhood flaring up during the years I’ve showed up to this incredible training, fortuitously, I kept coming back. Whatever ideas or doubts I had, I was magnetized by the lived example of so many relaxed and stable beings that demonstrated such natural integrity and authenticity. No matter how close I analyzed, how much I tried to pick apart certain advice or suggestions given to me, the trainers and participants in Balanced View met me with openness, empowerment, and effortlessly walking the walk they were speaking about in their own everyday life. Nowhere in sight was there any, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but rather, as I showed up and got to know the beautiful trainers, participants, and Candice, I saw people from all walks of life facing all intensities of situations and experiences with a natural stability and openness that I did not know was possible in human beings, and realized that was what I actually wanted in life. Not objects, not certain positive experiences, but contentment, stability and relaxation in every moment, regardless of what I was thinking or feeling. Was it actually possible?
As trust grew, I became willing to test the simple instruction offered in Balanced View in every facet of daily life—the good, the bad and the ugly. For short moments, whenever I naturally remembered, I relaxed completely with whatever I was thinking, feeling or experiencing. Sometimes it was easy and an instant relief, sometimes it felt impossible and I would have the openness more and more to actively rely on the other Mainstays such as my trainer, the endless free media on www.balancedview.org, and an incredible community of friends that I had connected with through clarity calls and online trainings.
Relying on short moments and the Mainstays was not instantly comfortable for me; but with each situation I tested relaxing body and mind completely for even just a short moment—whether it was with racing thoughts at night when trying to get to sleep, or in a depressed void of hopelessness where it felt like nothing mattered—it became more and more natural, helpful and powerful in every single circumstance.
When talking to various people I felt I didn’t like or want to be around, I tested if could relax and remain open without making the stories that I don’t like them the filter through which I treated or spoke to them. I discovered so many beautiful interactions and connections that I would have never experienced due to flimsy, illusory ideas I had projected onto other human beings. “They are weird, they are boring, they are annoying, they are too negative and I feel affected by their negativity…” quieted down and gradually ceased altogether. Now, even if judgemental ideas of someone do arise, they are no longer taken to be instantly true just because I thought them. Practicing short moments in these situations, less and less did I even bother with categorizing people into those I like and those I don’t, and a beautiful openness and innate respect bloomed and continues to bloom naturally.
When I felt like I had way too much to do—too many shifts at work, deadlines, responsibilities I didn’t think I wanted—could I relax there too? Over time, willing to be willing, I discovered again and again: yes. I got to see directly that being relaxed did not mean I wasn’t alert, active, and doing things. In fact, being relaxed during all responsibilities and tasks such as hard physical work or exercise, errands, helping customers at work—I saw I could accomplish so much more and with a higher quality of care and attention when thoughts of stress, overwhelm and avoidance were not my primary focus.
If the thoughts do arise, “This is too much, I can’t do this, I’d rather not be doing anything…”, they are as harmless as floating dandelion seeds or ever-shifting clouds; no power over me or need to avoid or get rid of them. More and more what is of most benefit to all—myself included in the all—is obvious and natural, and my true heart-wish. What is of most benefit does not mean only what will bring me the most positive data, and I am so grateful to see this now and not be strung along by that carrot on a stick.
Through participating in Balanced View in whatever ways felt natural for me, over time a steadfast awareness has become obvious that I am already okay, already complete as I am, with whatever is going on. No vacation, no amount of money, no slough of perfectly positive experiences can add to that okayness or take it away if I don’t get them. This is something I still and forever have the pleasure of discovering anew in every situation that arises; positive, negative or neutral. Even the categories of positive, negative and neutral are less and less noticed, and that is so relaxing and exciting. From there I am just free to live and enjoy the fruit of all experiences and what they have to teach me, if I am open to that.
I am indescribably grateful for the instant oasis of short moments, beloved Candice, my beautiful trainer, a global community of inspiring friends, and so many talks and written media available to me that I could not watch or read it all in one lifetime. I have the joy of discovering, with tender appreciation, everything I already have when the constant focus on wanting more, better, different data streams is relaxed and outshone like sunlight filling space. This is the most humbling and unexpected gift I could have ever been given, and it just keeps giving in each short moment of recognizing what actually is.