What is this pragmatic tool I alluded to in the title? It is a very ancient and simple practice but do not allow its simplicity to belie its remarkable effectiveness. It is one of the most powerful tools to not only deal with the suffering that is an essential component of being human, but to transmute it to grow and produce positive things that would have never been possible otherwise. So what is it already?
Before I divulge that information (if you are in a real hurry skip this paragraph) I would like to flesh out how important suffering is not only for our development but as a vehicle for producing something that positively changes the world by sharing a story about Adele. The talent and skill Adele has honed over thousands of hours of deliberate practice is unquestionable. However, we all know that talent and skill is NOT enough to ensure success in a field. It requires something more that we have not yet grasped and conceptualized yet. However, during the making of her widely acclaimed album 21 she was struggling to produce any songs that connected with her audience. It was NOT until she went through a tough break-up with the first man she had seriously dated that broke her heart was she able to produce the songs that made her album such a success and allowed her to stock up Grammy awards. It was the pain that allowed her to produce something that would change the world. Without the bad break-up she would have been just another uber-talented musican without a muse or a deeper message in her songs.
However, just going through negative experiences does not automatically mean that great success will follow. We see people all the time who suffer set backs and it destroys them. It is only those people who can handle the negative emotions and embrace them and use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. So I have been keeping you waiting so long, and the pragmatic tool I have alluded to in the title that can help is journaling.
You may think wow what a waste of my time reading this article. I am not a 13-year old girl. However, before you let your ego jump in please take a second to pause and firstly ask have you ever tried it? They are so many benefits about journaling, which is extolled in the scientific literature but I will NOT make that the subject of this blog post. This world does not need more people regurgitating what is already out there, but does need people sharing their experiences to help people grow and become the strongest version of themselves.
So why did I begin journaling, and how did it help me? I begin journaling because one of my early great coaches, Glen Chu essentially demanded that all players journal what they learn in BOTH practice and games, so that the invaluable lessons they learn truly become internalized. This is something that immediately resonated with me; however the wisdom of his recommendation did not initially transfer over to other areas of my life and got lost as I moved to college.
It was not until I read The Obstacle is the Way that the importance of journaling really hit me. Marcus Aurelius the 16th empire of the Roman Empire, who was the most powerful man in the world at that time religiously kept a journal. During his living years he was the only one who ever saw this journal. So it was NOT a publicity gimmick or a way to build up his ego. It was a practical tool he used to allow him to develop and be the best that he could be. For those history buffs out there you would know how tumultuous times were for the Roman Empire during his reign and how gracefully he dealt with all the challenges. For me personally I completely understand why he kept up his journal. I find writing my thoughts in a venue free of judgement is so therapeutic. The pouring of ideas from your mind is surprisingly relaxing and helps alleviate the static noise of thoughts that are always running in the background of your awareness. Also, through the act of writing, new ideas and insights are able to be made once your ideas are on the page.
But what do I write about? I know this was a huge barrier when I first began journaling. The key is to just get started and write about whatever you want. It does NOT need to be insightful or deep, just need to get the process of writing started and whatever needs to come out at the time will come out. I have included a sample of a journal entry I made this morning, in hopes that it may serve as inspiration for you to begin your journaling journey. This entry is NOT edited and is myself in its raw and unedited version. As you can see from the passage below I like to write my entries as if I am having a discussion with myself.
02/08/2015 –I am truly so happy and grateful for the amazing learning experience I had recently experience. It really reinforced the lesson that the primary cause of my suffering is that I believe I am above that suffering. That is the absolutely worst attitude to have.
I need to love and embrace the suffering I am allowed to experience by God/Universe or w.e else you would like to call it. Remember that no mental concept fully encapsulate the infinite. But why should I do this?
Pain is the primary vehicle, if transmuted correctly, to achieving higher states of consciousness and presence. This is a very important lesson to hammer in, NOTHING external matters! What does is my internal purpose, which is to practice and learn to live in the NOW as best as I can! Why? Everything external is fleeting, ephemeraland will die. So it is impossible to attach your true purpose to something that is only temporary.
My primary problem is that I am seeking completion/salvation through my outer purpose, which will NEVER happen. I need to drastically restructure my life to reflect this new truth. Why? I am constantly trying to keep myself busy/build my ego to avoid this journey. The low information diet purported by Tim Ferris is NOT only very practical to achieving your full potential but is also very spiritual.
I do NOT need anymore knowledge from books. I need to go out and live life and get in touch with my body. My body has the infinite universal intelligence at its disposal for which I am barely using any of it. Once I am able to get in touch with my inner purpose I will have access to the universal intelligence and my external reality will take care of itself.
One important caveat is that you can NOT fight unconsciousness. You can only bring the light of consciousness to it. Whatever you resist persists. Do NOT worry about what I am doing wrong or make myself into a problem. The ego loves that. Just focus on being as present as possible and the rest will take care of itself.
So yesterday my pain body did take-over but that is completely fine because I could definitely tell that I was much more aware of the negative energy field and was able to keep it at bay for longer than expected before it took over me.
So what is my plan of action? So firstly I need to realize that I need to take care of my body and go inwards before it can be transcended.
Plan of Action
- Complete fast for rest of day + Sauna to clear my body of toxins
- Attend TM group meditation
- Clear out extraneous material possession that are cluttering my life and give them away to people that could use them
- Remember all the modalities that I have that can be used when feeling pain and can transmute it into presence
- Tai Chi/Qi Gong
- Heart Math
- No books/media (especially NBA.com and espn.com) except what I need for school/MCAT/ Ekart Tolle’s audiobooks
- Completely get rid of any distractions keep phone on loud but turn off when I do not want to be disturbed so I am not incessantly checking my phone
- No Youtube/Music as the vast majority of the stuff out there is crap that is turning my brain into mush
So that’s it for now, the plan in it of itself is NOT that important but what is important is that I am actively pursuing my inner purpose in EVER aspect of my life. I need to practice everything that I do!
As I am sure you can guess I am currently listening to Ekart Tolle’s amazing audiobook A New Earth. I highly recommend anyone read it! It presents so many key and important ideas in such a thoughtful manner that doing a book review on it would be doing it a disservice.