I'm a sixty-two year old computer consultant, and I just lost my job two months ago. The stress is unbearable. I keep looking for something to do, but the positions out there are just not for me. They're not ready to hire someone my age. I have tried everything, from going to job fairs, to sending out my resume to all the businesses around town. I go to networking events and use the Internet. Nothing. Portland is a beautiful city, but it has a very high unemployment rate. I'm one of the statistics, as they say.
My wife is worried out about me. She's barely holding on to her job and together we are scraping by. Every day I try to think of what I could do to make things better, but I can't seem to find my way out of this sick feeling. I have difficulty sleeping. And I have lost my sense of humor.
A friend of ours gave me a copy of Loving What Is, and I'm trying to find my way through it. I don't love this. I don't love what is happening to my life. I would much rather have a job.
Desperate in Portland,
Let's start with "the stress is unbearable." Is that true? Can you absolutely know that it's true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought "the stress is unbearable'? What are the images that flood your mind? Do you see yourself as never working again, as destitute, as a homeless person pushing a shopping cart on the street? How do you treat your wife when you believe this thought? How do you treat yourself? Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life? Anything else? Be still. Watch, notice, what else do you see. Notice and identify the emotions that are the response to the images that you experience as though they were real. What else do you see in the silence and stillness of observation?
Now ask yourself: Who would you be without the thought "the stress is unbearable"? Who would you be if you were incapable of thinking that thought in the midst of your emotions as they were happening? Just notice, go back into that space and look again. What did you miss?
Now turn the thought around. "The stress is not unbearable." Can you find three examples when the stress, at its worst, was not unbearable, and it felt to you like it was? Can you get out of bed? Is the stress too heavy for you to brush your teeth in the morning? Perhaps you went to the park for a walk with your wife. Maybe you were watching your favorite TV show, or simply sharing a joke. Find at least three specific, genuine examples. Who knows?—you may find dozens of them that are true for you every day. I have noticed that in the face of what we are believing, reality waits to be noticed; eventually we wake up to it or not. (Some choose not to and some can't yet, and it is until it's not.) The Work is about collapsing that time, that dream, that trance. The unquestioned I-know mind will lead you to believe that your stressful thought in the moment is not only true but it is true forever. A belief in the moment is more powerful than any "thing." It is powerful enough to create the entire world as you understand it to be.
The original thought, "the stress is unbearable," is itself the cause of stress. When you realize this, you may also realize that every untrue thought that you're believing creates not only life but a life with stress. And then you may realize that stress can only come from believing your thoughts about the world. It does not, it cannot, come from the world. Realizing this is a very major road to inner peace.
I invite you to write down your stressful thoughts as they occur, and investigate them. Use the four questions and the turnarounds, with examples of each turnaround. "We're going to lose our home." "I'll never get a job." "I'm a failure." "I'll be out on the streets." "My family will fall into ruin." "I can't survive on the streets." "I can't survive." "My family will leave me." " They will lose respect for me." And on and on.
What is is, but only because it is. Until you wake up to reality in the moment, it is very difficult, even impossible, to love what is. Have you noticed? The only thing that can cause you stress is the story of a past or a future. What I love about the past is that it's over! What I love about the future is that it doesn't exist. What I love about this moment now is that I can "be" this that I am awake to. No problem! I already am.
In this moment now, all the pain that was ever suffered in the world is past, and that is the grace that we cannot appreciate when we are believing our past/future stories. Because the mind is believing its thoughts, often we feel tortured now as we live in reality, a true state of grace in the moment. It's not right or wrong, it's just that reality is always kind. But the story we superimpose onto reality can be hell. So I invite all people directly to the wisdom inside them, and The Work can take you there anytime you are open to your own self, your own true wisdom. Find the way out of the nightmares that you experience by going in.
And if there's something to fear, wait until it happens and be fearful then. Why be frightened about a thought of a possible future when it is only a thought that is producing the movie?
Once you can think clearly, without the stress of your painful thoughts, the whole world, in all of its unlimited abundance and glory, will open up for you. A fearful mind is limited; it can see only a very few options. A clear mind can see many more options—unlimited options. It can act efficiently, effortlessly, intelligently, in the present moment, and not be stuck in its deadly stories of past and future.
My job is to extend the invitation to do The Work and to let you know that The Work works for everyone whose mind is open to it, and that the only thing that stands between you and a peaceful life is your unquestioned thinking. That's all. I invite you to question "We are barely scraping by." And to move to other turnarounds on the above concept, "the stress is unbearable." What is the opposite of "unbearable"? Have fun with that. Or what is the opposite of stress? "Joy"? The joy is unbearable?
I am loving what is in this moment now, "it" works,