Follow Your Heart
This piece I have written could be somewhat considered a goodbye letter. I am leaving tomorrow until December 14th to follow the path I am being called along at this present time in my life. Until today, I have only told one person I am going on this trip. I’m not entirely sure why I chose to keep this to myself, perhaps it was partly out of fear. One reason was because I felt the need to communicate a few contributing factors to this decision as accurately as possible, and writing from my heart is the best way I know how. I certainly cannot address all potential questions you might have for me, but I hope these words help to shed light on my decision. I thank you for reading what I have to say and hope you receive some insight into your path.
Become loyal to your innermost truth.
Follow the way when all others abandon it.
Walk the path of your own heart.
A World In Flux
In these highly uncertain times of accelerated change, I am noticing a growing uneasiness on this planet. Of course this is from my own personal limited perspective, but it is a truth I am sensing more deeply every day. It is a truth I am noticing being reflected back to me from many people I come into contact with. I believe that humanity is undergoing a fundamental shift in the way we understand and interact with ourselves and our world. We are remembering our long forgotten true nature and re-awakening to our higher purpose and unlimited potential.
It has taken me some time and a lot of personal work to finally get to a point where I am not afraid to speak my truth. I also recognize that this truth is forever changing, expanding, and simplifying through my experiences. When we open our hearts, share our truth, and remain humble while listening to another’s, we are collectively able to integrate the highest and most complete understanding. I am feeling called to share some truths I have learned along my path and I thank you for taking the time to read them.
The current state of the world is calling forth the need for a collective global unity to emerge if we are to overcome the many crises we are facing. What I mean when I use the term global unity is simply the recognition and integration of the simple truth that we are one part of a large family on this planet. It is not a surrender to some group of people or a merging of power into a pyramid scheme of decision making. What I speak of is a dissemination of power back to individual people. A freedom for all to take responsibility for their actions and to live the life they choose. We are all in this together and it is only together that we will heal our collectively self-inflicted wounds.
Seeing the world as separate from ourselves is what creates our relentless drive to consume, compete, control, gain power, and grow. The silver lining to our current global situation is that through crisis, incredible opportunity is born. This is the moment in the archetypal warrior’s journey where he is faced with the choice to step into the role he is destined for. Humanity needs these warriors of the light. The Earth needs voices to speak out and share their truth with the world. This is not a time to fight against anything; it is a time to come together and collectively address the problems we are encountering. There are solutions to all of our obstacles and it is time to show the world that we can create positive change for every single one of our brothers and sisters. It is time to share the incredible abundance we have all been equally gifted in this life.
This is the time to ask yourself, “what kind of world do I want to live in”?
This is the time to ask yourself, “what is the most beautiful thing I can do today to make that happen”?
Distraction and Suppression of Suffering
Discovering and staying on our path is our life’s journey. It is when we veer off of it for too long that we turn to other vices to fill our longing. Whatever we are addicted to, be it drugs, shopping, television, food, movies, sex, emotions, work, or video games – they all serve the same purpose of distracting us from our sense of emptiness. That is not to say you cannot enjoy or participate in these things – it is your intentions with their use that are so important. When they are used as an escape, in excessive quantities, or as a way to ‘help’ you feel better, these distractions only take you away from learning valuable lessons in the present moment. I believe that one of the reasons there is so much turmoil, stress, and anxiety in our personal lives is because we are not following our highest purpose or living up to our full potential – we are not giving back our gifts to the world.
This unique time we are living in is creating an increasing polarization, both internally and externally. The longer we choose to ignore our inner calling, the more difficult it becomes to find peace within ourselves. This internal unease is reflected externally in the world through the unrest we are witnessing across the globe. There are continually moments of open doors presented in our lives but it is only us who can walk through them. I believe that if we choose to ignore these opportunities, if we choose to continue following a destructive path, then our higher selves (subconscious mind, unconscious mind, inner voice, etc.) will arrange for stresses, anxieties, dis-ease, and ‘accidents’ to force us into moments of reflection. In these moments of reflection we discover clarity around the life situation we are currently experiencing.
We can suppress our inner emotions but they will not go away. They can even be suppressed to the point we are not even conscious of their existence. However, like a sleeping giant, they can wake up at any moment and lash out at whoever happens to be near. I believe that the collective suppression of the human race is what inadvertently leads to volcanic eruptions of destructive individual and collective behaviours. When we are told what we are feeling is “wrong”, or that we need to repress our “bad” desires, it festers inside and is eventually expressed as a bizarre perversion, pain, injury, illness, or fetish. The act of repressing an emotion not only stores it in our body, it adds to the other stored emotion. This compound effect continues until it reaches a tipping point where it cannot be ignored any longer. On a collective level, this compound effect is another part of what is causing the growing unrest among the human population.
Staying on the Path
I am writing this blog to communicate my intentions to follow what I believe is my path, the pursuit of my highest truth. I will be committing myself to three Vipassana meditation courses from November 9th to December 14th, 2012. The first two will be in Merrit, British Columbia, where I will be serving at one and sitting one. The third is in Conrich, Alberta and I am being open to either sitting or serving this course. No, I am not being brainwashed, nor am I running off to join a cult. I am not avoiding responsibility, nor am I running away from my life. Staying committed to a practice of self-discovery and personal healing is the hardest work I have ever done in my life. It is the practice of releasing pain, suffering, and individual selfishness to tune into our true nature as unselfishly loving, connected beings. It is the observation and ultimate release, not repression, of our lifetime of collected emotional, thought, and behavioural patterns. It is the conscious choice to remove distractions and face your Self in silence, love, and acceptance.
I want to communicate my encouragement and support to all, to begin taking steps in the direction you feel you need to be going at this time in your life. None of us know how long we will be alive for and yet we always find excuses to put off our dreams. We all have a part to play in this transition and the most effective use of our energy in affecting change is when we are giving our gifts and following our dreams.
For me personally, I am most effective when I am dedicated to a meditation practice. Each time I commit energy to this exercise of concentration and stillness, I come out with more love, more patience, more understanding, more compassion, and more inner peace to share with my brothers and sisters. Each moment in meditation helps me to remain grounded and heart centred throughout my day. It enables me to become a positive and conscious being in my daily interactions with others. Through practicing deep meditation I have realized that it is possible to make every moment in life a meditation. It may appear that personal healing is not contributing to the collective. However, everyone I have talked to who has followed a similar path has echoed the truth that taking responsibility for healing personal suffering has profound impacts on the external world. I am consciously choosing to take on suffering so that somewhere another being is relieved of theirs. The only person we can change is ourselves and it is through this inner transformation that we inevitably transform our outer world. Only a lit candle can give the flame to ignite another candle.
Finding Your Gift
I realize the obvious contradiction for me to be speaking of the world needing voices during this time, and yet placing myself somewhere where I will not be able to communicate. This final blog is one of the ways in which I am leaving behind a piece of my truth. While I recognize the equal importance of doing and being, action and reflection, I ultimately feel that the most essential piece of the puzzle at this time, is for each individual to walk the path of their heart. By following this path you will be the most effective at what you do, while inspiring others to follow their hearts and passions. This is how we uncover the peace, happiness, and love that exists within every human being.
My heart is leading me to follow the ebb of the seasons and to use this winter for some inner hibernation and reflection. At my core I am a dreamer. My role is to hold the vision of the more beautiful world my heart tells me is possible. I encourage everyone to dream about what this future looks and feels like to them. This time of reflection will be used to focus my intention on where my path is leading me and what role I am to take in this unfolding moment. Where are my gifts best applied?
The Illusion of Separation
The root cause of all of the world’s problems is separation. We view the world as separate, as a source of resources to be exploited and used for our personal advantage. We view another person as separate and become jealous or angry at them. We view another nation as separate and fail to act when they need help. We view a species as separate and lack compassion when we destroy their habitat. We dispose toxic waste in our oceans when we view water as separate. When we dissolve the illusion of separation and feel the connection to all, then our destructive emotions and behaviours dissolve with it. It doesn’t make sense to hate yourself. It doesn’t make sense to be envious of yourself. It doesn’t make sense to go to war, to pillage, to destroy, or to exploit yourself.
As we move away from our relentless drive for competition and focus more on cooperation and collaboration, we move into harmony with our true nature. Your happiness is my happiness. More for you is more for me. Understanding separation as the root cause of our problems, both individual and collective, is the first step towards relieving the suffering it causes. Integrating the truth of this illusion then becomes a primary focus if we are to rise above our inner and outer conflict. This is another reason I am finding it more and more difficult to devote my energy to pursuits that do not relieve this fundamental disconnection.
This idea of our underlying unity is not one that I promote blindly, nor to I encourage people to accept blindly. As with all truth, it is the experience that enables a full integration and deeply personal understanding. Explaining a truth shifts it from simple blind faith to an intellectual understanding. Experiencing a truth moves it from an intellectual understanding to an inner knowing. The beautiful part of the truth of our underlying unity with all that is, is that it is a truth all people can experience because it is felt within the body.
Part of what is causing this global shift is the increasing number of people who are experiencing moments of oneness with elements in the external environment, be it a person, an animal, a tree, or the Earth. It can happen when you watch a beautiful sunset, when you stare up at a starry night, when you contemplate the intricacies of a flower, or when you gaze into lover’s eyes. I am overflowing with gratitude and extremely humbled to have had personal experiences of this unity. I have felt the culturally taught ‘other’ as a part of myself, deep in my core.
These experiences of oneness, no matter how they are sparked, are significant because they open our awareness to the pervasive nature of this feeling. This connection exists at all times, operating ‘behind the scenes’ and all it requires is an openness and letting go to bring it into our awareness. Experiencing connection expands our realm of potential to include the other. It happens when you open your heart to the world with the courage and willingness to love unselfishly, despite the possibility someone will hurt you.
Expanding Awareness Through Meditation
In meditation I develop the concentration, discipline, and capacity to experience a connection with myself. In meditation I open my heart and contemplate life from an expanded perspective. In meditation I face my fears, my hopes, my regrets, my dreams, my loses, my gains, my hate, my suffering, and my love. In meditation I am given the opportunity to forgive, to accept, to be patient, to let go, and to move into my heart to find truth. In meditation I find a deeper understanding of myself and an expansive compassion for others.
As I expand my understanding of my Self, I also expand my understanding of other people, for we are all ultimately expressions of the same essence at our core. As I continue through the process of personal healing I discover more compassion, generosity, kindness, patience, humility, and love for all that exists. My sense of self expands beyond ‘my’ body, beyond ‘my’ possessions, beyond ‘my’ city, and beyond ‘my’ country.
Moving Past Your Past and Into Lasting Peace
Each moment I choose to commit to my path is a moment that brings me closer to lasting inner peace and happiness. These states of being exist within all of us at all times and the only way to feel it is to live it and give it. Not only is inner peace always accessible, it is only our selves which ultimately prevent us from experiencing it. We carry immense loads within our bodies as we hold onto anger, regret, guilt, envy, or any past emotion. Dedicating yourself to a path of personal healing means taking responsibility and accountability for the truth that it is only you who holds onto that weight and it is only you who can let it go.
During my most recent experience of connection, I became painfully aware of the limiting thought patterns we communicate and force onto one another. I watched as someone’s inspiration, their high positive energy, became completely deflated as I told them something would be difficult. I felt all the wind taken from my sails when another told me something was impossible or immediately interjected with negativity towards an idea. Human beings are supposed to uplift and inspire each other. Instead, we often express our own negative thoughts of doubt and fear, and cast them onto others in the unconscious hope it will extinguish their flame just enough so that it will not make us feel uncomfortable with ourselves. I am not meaning to cast blame or judgement on anyone for doing this. I am realizing these behaviours are largely unconscious – we often do them with good intentions but do not really know their full effect.
It is easy to see that in actuality the only one limiting our potential is ourselves. If you were committed to some change within yourself, you can make it happen in an instant. Nothing can stop someone who has decided to do something. However, the other half of the paradox is that other people do have a tremendous influence on us. Emotional states have been shown to instantly transfer from one person to another. We have the power to drastically change someone’s mood; to uplift and inspire them, or to bring them down. As I become more in tune with the effects of these subtle influences within myself, I become aware of the effect my words and actions have on the states of other people.
When we hold an image of someone in our minds, we exert a force which can inhibit their ability to change. “Oh of course he did that, that’s just typical Matt. Would you expect any different from him?” How frustrating is it when we hear words reminding us of something we are trying to change within ourselves? In essence, it is irritating because the words express a truth we do not want to hear! We get upset because the dissonance between who we want to be and who we are presently is being pointed out.
This outside image effect is one all travellers are aware of. When I travel, I am a completely different person then when I am back home. What is it about returning home that makes it so difficult to be the person we were when we were on the road? We so easily fall back into our past behaviour patterns when we re-connect with those we have personal history with. I noticed this effect when I recently attended a school reunion. Years have passed and yet all around me I felt like we were back in school together, playing the same roles. Each moment I commit to dissolving past patterns within myself is a moment I dissolve rigid images of other people in my life, ultimately creating space for them to make change as well. Open yourself to the possibility that each time you see someone they are different. Invite them into the idea that we have the ability to affect positive change within each other.
Rambling is something I often catch myself doing and it is apparent to me I have done so in this piece. I hope you received value from it despite my feeling of it being a bit of a rush job. I touched on many topics, each of which would really need much more detail to cover fully. I often have to ask myself why it is I am choosing to add more words to a pool already overflowing with different viewpoints. When I reflect on it I feel as though it helps me to connect ideas, create a clearer picture, and set intentions within my own life. The beautiful thing about the internet is that it makes sharing these thoughts with others extremely easy. Since I have been gifted with incredible life experiences I feel it is my joy and gift to share what I have learned along the way. I believe that each one of us has an incredibly valuable truth to share with the world. I hope that by sharing mine I inspire others to share theirs as well. When we listen and speak with an open heart we are able to consciously participate with our individual and collective growth. I hope we can share truths when I return. I appreciate you. I love you.