Everyday Enlightenment, Lifestyle, Transpersonal Development

The Mindful & the Material: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Soap Opera

I’m not gonna lie, if you take me shopping with you and take my fashion advice, you’ll be killin’ it big time and I can help you to avoid killin’ your budget. As a former New Yorker who has seen the mayhem of women speed flipping through racks upon racks at the consignment stores, throwing clothing this way and that way, hunting mercilessly for a trophy Alexander McQueen or Stella McCartney piece, and attempting to hide pieces inside of those round racks, I’ve seen it all and I have a lightning quick eye to notice good quality material. I once grabbed $1,200 worth of clothing for $140. I kid you not. No shame about it.

Even with a decade of Buddhist, interfaith, and mystical teachings and woke AF mentoring, I am still an urbanite. People have called me a city slicker. No one can wipe the NYC, LA, Honolulu, Zurich, Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Seoul out of me and my mindset. No one has to. I do not have to shave my head, go off the grid, and wear bare threads to be a spiritual person in real, waking life. None of us do.

That is the not-so-secret secret. Meditating 20 minutes a day is not some kind of profoundly monastic thing to do. You can work on the 30th floor of a skyscraper at a desk with a computer and still be a conscientious human being. Also, being conscientious doesn’t mean that you have to go out there and save everybody. Being conscientious doesn’t mean that you focus on what’s wrong with the world to the point where you can hardly see anything else anymore and it’s all multiplying like pet rodents that you don’t really want. What you focus on is something that you train your mind to notice. The more you reinforce the noticing of whatever it is that you keep focusing on, the more you will see it. It will multiply and it will replicate. To no end. Until you decide it is the end. This does not mean that people can run around happily stating that they see unicorns and nothing but absolute positivity out here in the world. It means that you can live with the fact that there are rainbows and there is shit. And you can live with it.

Materialism in and of itself is not the nefarious bad guy. Politics is not the root of all messed up infrastructure. Many issues are systemic and complex. What is simple is that at the core level, being human doesn’t have to be a constant uphill struggle. Being a conscientious human requires you to drop the notion that you know what’s up and you know exactly how things should be, how you should be, how things should play out, and so on. When you release the hold to your attachments and expectations from your present focus, you will be more open to what is right there in front of your face. You have inherent wealth. What I mean by this is that your true deprivation is the inability to be fully here in the present moment. True poverty in this world really is the poverty of being. The poverty of not being able to feel well, healthy, happy, whole, free, and unencumbered by fear. That kind of internal poverty continues to replicate external poverty.

It is like front end and back end. What I mean by this is, any beautiful thing that you see, whether it be a book, a movie, a website, or a magazine with a gorgeous cover shot, has a lot of other considerations and factors which have gone into the design and execution of what do you are seeing. This entails meetings, emails, various communications, planning, preparation, brainstorming, throwing out ideas, being willing to admit to being wrong, fixing errors, and so on. On a webpage, there is coding that you don’t immediately see but it produces results that you can visibly see on a website. Like this, you have your own coding syntax with which you write up how you’re expecting or willing to live. Your attention and focus has the ability to fixate on opportunities and chances that can prove this syntax right. If you feel like life is utter shit, your mind is a search engine that can relentlessly and tirelessly find ways to validate and confirm that life is utter shit. Every single time its findings are validated and confirmed, the reward center in your brain goes “Ding ding ding!! I did something right!” And you can continue on and on all your life and as long as you want. If you want to swap this around and command your mind to focus on opportunities and chances which are awesome, you can train your mind to go hunt those down and light up the reward center of your brain every single time you get your bounty.

What you place a bounty on is up to you. What you reward yourself with, whether it is by way of negative or positive motivation, is something that can be deliberate. it will make your life much more bearable and much less of an uphill struggle. It will require discipline and may feel like mental and emotional deadlifting at first, but once you get over the first few grunts and groans of “Oh my gosh I don’t want to exercise” and you get into the habit of it, it becomes more like brushing your teeth. Practicing spiritual hygiene. So, meditate and praise the good. You can also dress well, make a ton of money, succeed, take ass, and kick names (Guardians of the Galaxy reference).

Do you have desires or do your desires have you? Are you running around constantly reaching, striving, going after, and feeling like you have to get something that’s like the proverbial carrot on a stick? Or are you able to feel confident, sure, thankful, and contented where you’re at regardless of what more you could get? If your desires have you, they own you and they are not likely truly your desires. Most likely, they are your insecurities disguised as desires. Because you mistakenly think that those are really your desires, you seek to fulfill them. When in fact, it becomes a manifest destiny of your insecurities. Desiring should feel free, like daydreaming as a child. Desire shouldn’t make you feel fearful.

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
—Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5 Modern Classic

You can discipline and will yourself to pull yourself back from the external and be at peace in the midst of what is without needing any sort of experiential validation other than simply being—by doing so, you demonstrate that your “I AM” is greater than your “I HAVE.” Inherent wealth is this in a nutshell. It does not take an ascetic, hermetic, monastic, or off-the-grid life to have this. You do not have to slather yourself with patchouli essential oil, have your hair up in dreadlocks, swear off soap, or shirk all adult responsibilities. You can live right here, where you are, and be a total, genuine badass by daring to be as fully and truly YOU as can be. That’s what it takes.


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