Today is my 909th day sober from alcohol. Lately I’ve been talking about drinking a lot, casually tossing it into conversation on a daily basis. “Maybe we should spend that $20 on a bottle of vodka,” or, “Wouldn’t it be fun to do some shots like old times?” I’ve also started dreaming about it again, a direct result of thinking about it too much. I could feel my resolve wavering, but luckily we ran out of stuff to watch on Hulu and spent a few nights reading books this week. Kelly told me about a passage in Osho’s Book of Secrets that claimed “desire is the path to hell.”
The Osho really struck a chord with me, and I shook myself out of my craving-trance. I know alcohol isn’t going to give me the things I want from it. It might be fun and feel good for an hour or two, but when I play out the whole scenario in which I go back to drinking, I see the hell that will ultimately result. Alcohol isn’t inherently bad, but I give my power away to it. I think it will make me feel better, make my life more fun, and take away my anxiety. But I’ve already been down that road. I ultimately feel worse, have more painful experiences, and end up more anxious than I began.
Osho reminds me that I have everything I need in this present moment, and when I reach outside of the present, thinking something in the future will make me happy, I destroy any chance of happiness I have right now. This week, pull your mind out of the future and back into the present. You don’t need anything to be happy. You can choose it right now. It’s right in front of you. Use the prompts below to shift your perspective on your problems, your habits, your to do list, and your desires. As Wayne Dyer was fond of saying, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” You can now see life already is the way you want it to be!
1. Give me problems!
As some of you know, Kelly and I both have degrees in graphic design and we do freelance web design for a few select clients. One of our long-standing clients–the multi-talented, multi-dimensional Aurora Lady–is in the process of re-imagining her online store, and we've been Marco Polo-ing back and forth attempting to marry our conceptual ideas with the practical functionality required for displaying products. As Kelly assured her that we would (as we always do) get these so-called problems resolved, Aurora replied with gusto and fervor for the hurdles we faced. "Bring on the problems!" she exclaimed. Because, as she elaborated, throughout the duration of our creative relationship, every time we encounter a 'problem' we uncover an even better solution.
Delight in the challenges you face this week! Look at them as opportunities to bring forth creative solutions. Remember that there are always two sides of a wave. With the problem side of a wave always comes the solution side of the wave. Remember that the contrasting experience is giving you the opportunity to ask for the solution. If contrast didn't cause you to feel so strongly, you wouldn't be forced to shore up the energy for what you prefer.
What problems do you see as hurdles this week?
What solutions could these problems be bringing forth?
2. Focus on appreciating what you're doing right.
A few months ago, I installed an activity tracking app on my phone to see how much time I was spending looking at my screen. The results were startling (about an average of 3.5 hours a day) but they really didn’t change my behavior. Then I got an app called “Forest” (recommended by the always-insightful Mindful Magick Musings). In Forest, you press a button to “plant a tree”, which takes a certain amount of time to grow. During this time, you can’t go on other apps on your phone or you’ll kill your tree. It’s used to increase productivity and decrease “phubbing”—snubbing people you’re around to go on your phone.
Counting the time I “grow trees” actually makes me feel good. At the end of the day, I can see how much time I spent focusing, not on my phone. Even though it’s usually just an hour or two, I feel proud of the time I’m growing trees. With that activity tracker app, I just felt bad about how much time I spent on Instagram.
People always say that to make change, you have to replace bad habits with good ones, instead of just trying to stop the habit. You have to crowd out what you don’t want to do by spending more time doing what you do want to do.
Instead of trying to stop doing a certain thing (perhaps smoking, watching tv, or going on your phone), start counting the time you’re doing something you DO want to be doing (dancing, reading, cooking maybe?).
Use the "Magick Time" prompt on the worksheet to track your desired activity in 15 minute increments. Doesn’t it feel so much better to focus on what you’re doing right, rather than what you’re doing wrong?
3. Measure your success by enjoyment.
Sometimes being self-employed feels like you're always working. When you're your own boss, it can be hard to take a full day off, especially since there are always things that need to get done. And when you spend half a day doing ... who knows what ... it can be difficult to not to be hard on yourself for 'wasting' time that could have been spent staring at your computer screen.
The other day, Kelly woke up excited that we didn't have any appointments and that she was going to get to finally put in a full work day. A few hours later, she looked up and wondered where the day went. It was going on happy hour and she hadn't "accomplished" a thing! But she refused to suffer. She was still feeling great. Though she hadn't scratched anything off her to-do list, she still enjoyed the day relaxing on the porch, petting our cats, probably doing a little online shopping or maybe doing a chore that (gasp!) wasn't on the to-do list.
We're not here to strive or accomplish or finish to-do lists. We are here to enjoy life! Today, instead of measuring the value of the day by how much you get done, measure it by how good you feel. Joy is the real measure of success, and if you've spent your day with a sense of enjoyment, then you're doing everything right!
On this week's worksheet, fill in each circle on the tree of life with something you enjoyed about your day. It's proof of your success!
4. Enter the present moment to let go of your desires.
“We have been taught that freedom is the freedom to pursue our petty, trivial desires. Real freedom is the freedom from our petty, trivial desires.” Adam Curtis
Osho teaches in The Book of Secrets that all desires are a path to hell. The reason for this is that they pull you outside the here and now and into the future. "When your future comes it will be in the form of the present, and your mind will again move to some other future," he explains. "Even if you could reach God, you will not be satisfied."
But you cannot desire to be without desire. In the desire to be without it, you create it. You must be aware of your (attachment to your) desires and how they create misery in your life. Only when you are aware of the turmoil caused by attachment will you no longer attach yourself to outcomes. When you know the stove is hot, you will never touch it again because you know it will burn you. When you know that wanting to drink will never fulfill you, the desire to drink will be gone.
This week, don't try to suppress your desires or be without them. Instead, be aware of them. Watch them play out. Is wanting something to go a certain way making you feel bad? Could you be free of that feeling of tension by releasing your attachment to the outcome? Enter the here and now by not caring what happens in the future.
What do you desire?
Is this desire making you miserable? Why?
I am now aware and the spell is broken!