Confidence in Me As I Strive to Be Free

Suffering is caused solely by the mind, not by external circumstances or physical limitations, therefore recovery from paralysis and walking will not eliminate my suffering.  A truth I have been speaking about a lot recently.  I figured to fully embrace and enjoy my future recovery, and the plethora of experiences I will one day undergo, it was necessary that I transcend my suffering through spiritual liberation.  I did not like the thought of suddenly recovering from paralysis, then being thrown into a world of anxiety over having to face a new reality.  But is the only answer to this dilemma enlightenment?  Must I be fully liberated to transcend my fear?

Yes, some level of spiritual enlightenment may be necessary for me to completely transcend fear, but I realized recently that while I am yearning for self-realization, I am also simply yearning for self-confidence.  For the ability to step outside my front door, and be honest with what I truly want and desire, and go after it, willing to be vulnerable, willing to be embarrassed, and willing to fail and succeed.  I do not believe enlightenment is necessary to achieve this type of confidence.  I believe confidence to be a human trait that can be gained through experience, through putting yourself out there over and over again, until fear no longer controls you.

My cave of peace has been very rewarding.  The great spiritual masters throughout time would not have spent years and years in meditation if this type of solitude was not beneficial for the path towards spiritual liberation.  My cave of peace will be with me always, but I cannot allow my cave to be become a cage, protecting me from the outside world, from wants and desires unfulfilled, from awkward situations, and unconquered fears.  Soon it will be time to gather and ground myself in the spiritual energy I have created, and go forth, armored with the spiritual tools I have refined and sharpened.

In the past this has frightened me, but lately it seems as if a seed of courage has been planted inside my belly, and has grown roots.  I’m feeling a deep yearning to face fears, to build confidence in myself, in who I am, and what I have to offer to the world.  It makes me happy to realize that it is not necessary for me to gain enlightenment to become this person, but this does not mean I will not continue to strive for this goal.  In fact, reaching for enlightenment will also help me to be more confident and self-assured, it likely already has, but it is only through liberation that I will completely transcend all fear, all ego, and live in a state of love and compassion.  There are plenty of confident people out there in the world, but most do not live in a state of love.  It is the love which is my ultimate goal.

Many years ago, I made it a point to constantly face fears.  Looking back on it, it seemed like a valid stage in my progression, but more of a novice level of spirituality.  Now here I am, coming around full circle, once again ready to befriend fear, to look it right in the eye, and conquer it.  It is impossible to say what an individual person should and shouldn’t be doing on their spiritual path.  One person may need a particular experience or mode of operation, while someone else needs the complete opposite.  There is no linear series of steps that each person must make on the path of spiritual growth.  For many years now, I have existed more in a state of solitude, finding peace alone in contemplation, realizing that I needed nothing but my own spirit to bring me comfort.  That is what my spirit needed, that is what was necessary for my unique manifestation to move forward on my path.

Did I always understand this?  Of course not.  The human mind will rarely understand what exactly is going on.  We think, we see, we taste, we feel, but how much do we truly understand and know about the true reality?  So very little.  When we realize how little we understand, it’s easy to get frustrated, to yell and scream, and pitch a fit.  But even during these times, when nothing makes sense, it is quite possible that tremendous spiritual evolution is taking place.  Especially if one is dedicated to the search, and desires to achieve the God-given sight, that will allow you to see things as they really are.

My limited human sight is currently staring at a pot of water on the stove.  As I wait for this water to boil, little tiny bubbles are rising to the surface, but when the heck is that water going to boil?!  The longer I stare, the longer it seems to take, but I know it will eventually boil, just like I know I will eventually walk again.  And while I may not understand the timing of it all, while I may get frustrated with my inability to truly see and understand the meaning of all this, I know that my spirit is not standing still.  It never does.

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5 Responses to Confidence in Me As I Strive to Be Free

  1. Lisa says:

    Brilliant!

  2. ryan620 says:

    Being vulnerable certainly is a risk worth taking. I was touched to read your thoughts about risking and reaching for what we see as a chance to expand our human experience, but for whatever reason, when we choose to risk, we are taking a chance of rejection, hurt, disappointment, which if we can overcome fear will certainly help us grow in new and exciting ways both spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Risking calls for us to pull our shields down, show ourselves as we are, reduce our pretense to be something other than what we are … the person God created us to be … and find solace in knowing that this journey will not always be easy, but that with great risk comes great potential for growth and shared experience as we continue spiritual development.

    • Colin says:

      Hello Ryan,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I connect very much with what you are saying. The positive and negative consequences I’ve experienced through the practice of vulnerability, has played a tremendous role in my evolution. I have found that when vulnerability creates suffering, it is never the experience which causes it, but the thoughts I have about the experience, or about myself in relation to the experience. It is always these thoughts which cause the rejection, hurt, or disappointment. Thoughts like, I’m not good-looking enough, smart enough, or likable enough. Thoughts surrounding an identity that needs to be protected, consoled, blamed, or praised. It is my goal to transcend the need to protect this identity, and like you said, pull my shield down and be completely me, unafraid and uninhibited.

      It is amazing however, as I march towards this goal, how I find the possibility in comfortably experiencing what was once a negative emotion, such as the fear of doing something new, or the fear of entering a state of vulnerability. I believe it may be in that process of leaning in to discomfort, that we may eventually transcend it all together.

  3. ryan620 says:

    Colin,

    I think your reply is very insightful. It is true that the suffering which we perceive greatly resides in the mind in how we process thought, which can lead to certain emotions (fear, anger, happiness, sadness). For example, if our mind is trained to think that loss (say like loss of something material, a significant relationship loss or loss through someone passing) is negative and perhaps bad, emotions such as fear, anger and sadness would certainly become prevalent with that event I think you are right in suggesting that the feelings associated with loss stem from our identification with the loss and how our thoughts process loss. Certainly grief is an emotion that is very valid and as humans it has been developed over the millennium. Anger and sadness, likewise are helpful emotions if they spur us down the road of spiritual development.

    The most difficult times in my life are when I was dealing with anger, sadness and fear. I always found the toughest emotion to move beyond is fear. Since fear can come from any number of perceived or real thoughts or events. The unknown always gives us pause….to consider “what if this event happens….where will it leave me?” As I’ve grown older, I find that anxiety can be controlled and reduced through the thought process. Once I realize what is causing fear, it is much easier for me to address that fear and develop a new way of thinking about that emotion as well as being able to understand what provokes those emotions in the first place. I think emotions are great because they are always a protective mechanism for us. When we are sad, angry or fearful, there is usually a reason. Once one figures out the reason, it becomes easier to acknowledge if it is something that is actually a threat or something my mind is spinning into a threat. I’ve found that a lot of energy can be spent worrying about 97 to 98 percent of things that never materialize anywhere but in my own head…..which leads to emotions that follow. Once we determine that the perceived threat isn’t going to materialize, it is easier to live more at peace in the present.

    If you had not figured out yet, this is Brett who you met in the park last week. I usually use my middle name when I am online….don’t ask me why, but it is something I started over 20 years ago when I first started posting online. I cannot remember if I mentioned it then or not, but I have been reading a lot about how our emotions and thought process works. Several of the books that I have been reading suggest that our mind develops a certain way to react if certain situations develop. For instance going through a break up with a significant relationship will generally harness the reaction of the less comfortable emotions. Because something like this happened previously (perhaps with separation anxiety with parents or a caregiver when they weren’t there), we may develop a fear of abandonment – at least until the time the parent or care giver comes back. In relationships, this same unpleasant feeling of abandonment can be fueled by the original abandonment fear experienced as a child. If the break up sparks these emotions, then they become stronger each time there is a relationship break up. In other words, our mind processes the hurt by sending the thought to the same place in the mind which will evoke sadness, anger and fear. Almost all authors that recognize that a pattern develops that is similar to a motorway…..leading with express lanes to that area that processed that thought in the past. However the good news that they bring to the forefront is that this process of thought and transmission to the centers that provoke emotion can be changed….the motorways, can be reconstructed in essence to lead to a different emotion or more positive way to deal with the loss spurred by the relationship ending.

    In other words, our mind is powerful enough to make new pathways to process information. I think this is what in Christianity is known as the “renewing of the mind.” Changing thought processes changes the emotions associated with those thought processes. For me the change of the mind happens when God becomes part of who we are….when we are at one with the mighty Creator, then fear, anger and sorrow don’t seem to have as great a hold on our lives. When processed in a healthy way these emotions can keep us from danger, but the constant anxiety and continuing anger, sadness and related depression can be put in proper place and we can live in the hear-and-now with greater peace and understanding. I think of John Wesley when he talked about “having the mind that was in Christ.” In other words, to have the mind of God living within us will certainly spur us to greater growth (changing of thought pathways and associated emotions) and a healthier mind made not of things in just this dimension, but also in the things unseen, yet-to-come and not within our human grasp to fully understand. Trust and faith replace fear and anger….once fear and anger are dealt with, then sadness doesn’t easily take hold as it usually takes fear or anger (or our reaction to those emotions) that causes sadness.

    I think it can be summed up by saying that we have a choice as to how to react to any situation no matter if it is positive or negative. Our mind can send it to the new center for processing and another emotion may or may not develop, but fear, anger and sadness can be released to prevent worry and give us greater freedom to live in the present!

    I just wanted to also thank you again for risking and sharing your story with me. I found it inspiring and exciting to speak with someone who is in the process of greater spiritual development as it is really not something that is often practiced in Western culture. It usually takes some form of hurt to cause us to look in the spiritual direction…becoming one with God and living in a higher spiritual vibration (if you will). I am very taken by your spiritual direction and development as such a young age. As my good friend David would say, you have a very mature soul!! You are well ahead of your years in your spiritual development! 🙂

    • Colin says:

      Hey Brett! Nice to see you again. You obviously are a very deep thinker about spiritual matters, and I admire your quest for understanding. Transcending suffering seems like a monumental task, and honestly, it is one. I may have already spent hundreds of thousands of lifetimes trying to figure it out. But I think that maybe, most of the lives we live are not about figuring anything out, but simply experiencing that life, and experiencing all it has to offer. All the negative emotions we humans must undergo, can be beautiful in their own way, but at this point in my journey, these emotions are only tools, tools that signify that it is time for me to dig deeper, and connect with the peaceful presence that exists within. Sometimes, digging deeper simply means I must experience the sorrow, or the anger, experience it fully and completely, so that it may pass through me and disappear.

      You may enjoy the author Byron Katie. Nothing she experiences in reality, and I mean nothing, causes her pain. Not death, not violence, nothing. This is because she is fully connected with the true reality, a true reality of love, peace, and joy. Whatever happens, happens because it was meant to. And she believes she has no business arguing with it. Why would she argue with a reality that is God. She teaches it is possible to reach a point of existence, where nothing in life causes pain. You reach that point when you stop arguing with reality. Check her out if you like. “A Thousand Names for Joy” is really good. As well as, “Loving What Is”, a book that presents four questions which help you cut through your false stories about reality, and find that peace of mind you spoke of. It’s kind of a practical way of rearranging your neural patterns and belief systems.

      Moving past fear has always been a big one for me as well. 🙂

      God bless.

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