Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All We Have Is Everything

A reader asked me how I feel about abundance, and mentality of abundance, particularly when it comes to things like work.

I think a lot of people use things like "abundance" and "gratitude" when they're upset to remind themselves to be thankful for everything they have, and to see the possibilities in that. And if that works for you, great.

It never has for me. If I'm feeling crummy about something, like my job or a difficult person or one of my many inadequacies, I've never had much luck replacing one thought (that things are difficult) with another (that I already have so much). There's a whole emotional component to what's going on that doesn't change. I can say "I'm surrounded by abundance," but if I'm not feeling it, it just doesn't happen.

What has worked for me is to look very closely at the thoughts that I'm having. To examine them. To see if they're true. Is it really true that I don't get paid enough? Compared to what? Did my colleague get a promotion and I didn't? Is that what this is about? That's very different that not being able to make rent. That may not be about abundance at all. Maybe it's about jealousy or something else.

The other thing that starts to happen when I really look at my thoughts and feelings is that I see they're constantly changing. If I can find my way through a frustrating feeling (by simply sitting with it), I'm in a completely different experience five minutes later. And I begin to see that any story I tell myself is just that--a made up story. There are no words for the actual experience. Ever.

The more I observe my thoughts and emotions (and meditation is probably the best way to do this), the less seriously I take them. They become things that happen, rather something that's part of me.

When I can see that everyone has ups and downs, that "this too shall pass," the world gets a lot less solid, and a lot less serious. I begin to see that the problems that come up are generally about the past or the future, not what's happening right now. In this moment, it's very rare we find anything missing.

When I get a glimpse of that, I begin to see the utter completeness of life as it is happening. That's what I call the abundance mentality--not a thought replacing another thought, but the experience of life, in its overwhelming perfection, simply being as it is without anything needing to change. We already have everything, because we're already part of an indivisible whole.

It took awhile for me to see that, and even now I only get it in bits and pieces. But those bits and pieces go a long way toward making the rest of life, even the more difficult parts, a lot more joyous.

I'd love to hear about what works for you.


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