5 Things To Remember When Times Get Tough

If you are reading this right now, chances are you have something you need to work on.  We all do.  It’s what makes us human. Unless you are Jesus reincarnate, you are going to encounter a lot of shadows in your life.  These “shadows” are meant to reveal you to yourself to push you into a new level of consciousness, but we sometimes get into the habit of treating them as annoyances.

We often don’t treat tough times as opportunities, when in reality, tough times are the only reason that life is worth living.  Live without growth and spiritual progress is meaningless, and growth is impossible without at least some degree of suffering.

We may not “like” the tough times we go through, but life is not always about receiving what we “like”.  Sometimes, it’s more about receiving what we need at a certain time in our life, and sometimes its about learning something about ourselves and  the world around us.  If you are experiencing suffering, anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, or pain, there are some things you really should know:

1) Everybody suffers

Nobody in the history of planet earth has lived a life free of suffering, pain, depression, anger, of anxiety.  Everybody is experiences these things on a daily basis.  Even the people you look up to in your life the most are fighting their own battles.  Just because the people around you are smiling and talking does not mean they aren’t suffering deep down.

It’s important to remember that suffering is a natural part of the human experience.  There is nothing wrong with you, and you are not “messed up” just because you are sad or confused often.  Everyone you have ever met in your life has, at some point, experienced the same kind of emotion you are dealing with right now.  You are not alone in your struggles.

2) Nobody is perfect

Nobody is perfect.  Nobody has perfect control over their mind or their emotions.  Everyone you see has something they need to work on, especially those that think they don’t need to work on anything.  We sometimes hold ourselves to unrealistically high standards of perfection, instead of learning to accept our flaws and forgive ourselves when we come up short.

Accepting your imperfections does not mean being compliant with them, and it doesn’t mean you are passively OK with them.  It means that you recognize, with acceptance and non-judgment, that you have areas you could use improvement in.  Working on bettering yourself from a place of acceptance as opposed to a place of self-hate will also be more fruitful.

3) This time in your life is only temporary

I just exited a really dark season in my life.  On the outside, you wouldn’t know this, but inside I had never been more lost or off-path.  This is part of the ebb & flow of life.  Darkness comes for a season to expose to us what we need to work on, and then it leaves once it has served it’s purpose.  Eckhart Tolle once said that “suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary”, which means that tough times only hang around until you raise your consciousness above them by extracting lessons and wisdom from them.

This is just a temporary time in your life.  This is not your final destination.  You may be thinking “I can’t do this for the rest of my life”, or “Life is not supposed to be like this”.  Both of these thoughts cause even more suffering and pain and are completely irrelevant and useless when you realize that everything in life is impermanent, even the suffering you are experiencing right now.

4) You are loved

God loves you.  I don’t care whether you believe in God or not, because the truth is, space, time, matter, life, and consciousness did not pop into existence by itself.  The Creator is present in all things in creation, and as Love itself, God has infinite love for you.  Another way to look at this is that the Universe supports you.

I prefer to say “God” because it encourages us to have a personal relationship with the Intelligence both within and beyond the universe.  You are never alone, and you are loved more than you could imagine.  Every single person who has had a NDE has reported encounter God and said that they were overwhelmed with the feeling of love and bliss.  The fabric of the universe is love itself.  Sometimes when things get tough, the best thing to do is to look up and remember that something bigger than you is guiding and supporting your life.  Have faith.

5) This will make you a better version of yourself

Imagine how much more wise you will be at the end of this season of your life?  How much more strong, compassionate, sympathetic, and loving will you be after you make it through this? THIS is the real purpose of life.  Life is about growth and personal evolution.  It is not always about happiness and butterflies.

Every single time I come through a dark period in my life, I thank God and the Universe for showing me what it was I needed to get better at.  Every experience in life is full of lessons if you have the eyes to see them.  Suffering is the ultimate catalyst for evolution, and the ironic thing is, at the end of your life when all that you take with you is your wisdom and your experience, you may actually wish you would have suffered more.

You are a soul experiencing physical reality for just a brief moment in your eternal history.  Treat your tough times as blessings, not as curses.  At the end of the day, the only thing that REALLY matters is character.  You may feel bad for yourself because you feel you suffer too much, but when you realize that suffering is a natural part of maturing and growing as a person, you may actually start to feel bad for others who suffer too little.

Until next time,

Steven Bancarz, 

Team Spirit

Romantic Treehouse Built In Forest In 6 Weeks For $4000

Moments of eye-opening insight can come into our lives unexpectedly like a clap of thunder, and when they do, we are usually not the same person, enabling us to go forth on new paths. Carpenter Dave Herrle of Westbrook, Connecticut is one of these people; suddenly emboldened by a walk down an unfamiliar path in the woods.

Herrle explains his life:

“For the longest time I had a hard time not being normal. I graduated from a small liberal arts college, got a desk job, and hated every minute of it. In 2007 my life changed dramatically after hiking the entirity of the Appalachian Trail. It was a gut check in life and I’m lucky it happened when I was 27 and not 67. My time in the woods gave me a perspective on the benefits of simplicity. It was in the woods that I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend a lifetime doing a job I didn’t enjoy.”

Bravely plunging into the unknown, Herrle decided to build the house of his dreams, hoping to lead a more Waldenesque self-sufficient life of simplicity. Best of all, his beloved fiancée also was of the same mind, so Herrle set about building their future home, keeping the footprint small but functional, and using salvaged materials whenever he could.

Amazingly, Herrle was able to construct this tiny cabin of 11 by 14 feet in the woods for only $4,000 and in only six short weeks. The rustic interior is lovely and the house itself is sited on a hillside porch that wraps around some trees and juts out 12 feet high off the ground on one side.

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Would you ever live in something like this?

Source: This article was written by Jesse Herman and was originally seen on Powerful Primates.  It was used with permission from the author.

3 False Beliefs About Happiness That Make Us Unhappy

Happiness is the greatest pursuit of life.  Some people want their dream job, others want to find their soul mate, but in reality, we are all just searching for happiness and joy.  Without happiness (or at least the hope of happiness), life almost becomes meaningless.  Here is the truth about happiness:

The number 1 thing preventing people from living truly happy lives comes down to their belief about what happiness actually is.  When you have the wrong idea about what happiness is, you will end up spending your whole life either looking for something in the wrong place or looking for something which never even existed to begin with.

Let’s go over some common false beliefs about happiness.  Here are 3 false beliefs that sabotage the happiness of many:

1) Happiness is an emotion

The biggest false belief about happiness is that happiness is an emotion that comes in your energy field, when in reality, it is a state of being and a way of life.  When you receive something you want or see someone you like, you experience the emotion of happiness in your energy field.  You watch it arise, feel it flow through you, and then watch your energy field relax once it leaves.  When we believe that happiness is THIS emotion, we become attached to always trying to keep that emotion alive in our energy field, which causes us stress and anxiety due to expectation and attachment.

We then beat ourselves up for not feeling “happy” enough, which causes even more unhappiness.  What if happiness is actually a skillset and a way of interacting with the world as opposed to being a phenomenal emotion? What if it is a way of life and a state of mind?  When we stop looking at happiness as being the same as the experience of the emotion of happiness, we can then align our lives with a deeper pursuit of holistic fulfillment.

2) Happiness comes with external gain

We are taught from birth that happiness comes from career, wealth, looks, possessions, accomplishments, achievements, and relationships.  There are many, MANY people who have everything they want in life, and deep down they are seriously unhappy.  Why is this?  Happiness is a matter of spirituality, self-realization, and a relationship with your own soul.  It’s an inside job.  Looking towards external things to fulfill your souls desire for happiness is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping bread all over your body.

3) If you are happy, you don’t experience things like sadness or depression

Another false belief is that being happy means you never experience things like sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration.  We tend to think of a “happy” life as one consisting of rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops.  But what if a happy life is a balanced, holistic life?  What if sadness, depression, and anxiety are actually necessary in the pursuit of happiness?

When we believe that living a happy life and experiencing negative emotions are incompatible, we condemn ourselves for failing to live in a blissful state all the time.  In reality, being happy involves the experience of the whole spectrum of emotions, and the transmutation of those into a higher self-understanding.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Happiness, simply put, is about your relationship to the contents of your present moment.  It doesn’t matter what the contents are, it only matters how you react and relate to those contents in your mind and energy field.  Sleep well.  Eat well.  Communicate well.  And most importantly, take time to become still, present, and meditative.  Feed your soul with stillness, and you may just find that “happiness” has been there buried under thoughts and mental programs all along.

If you want to experience deep, unmoving happiness, think of it this way.  Less presents, more presence.

Hope this helped!

Steven Bancarz,

Team Spirit

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A Powerful Video That Reminds Us That Love Has No Labels

This powerful video shows that love has no labels. Couples, friends and families kiss, dance and hug one another behind a screen that allows for their visible differences to be cast aside and for us watching to only see the love they share.

Love has no gender, no race, no disability and no age limit. We must overcome our prejudices because love is something we all share, it brings us together and it’s a universal feeling. Love is timeless and one of the most sacred bonds that can bless us and to truly be happy we must open ourselves completely to love, only when we do that do we allow love into our own lives.

Kasim Khan – Team Spirit

3 Ways To Become Lucid While You’re Awake

We have all heard of lucid dreaming before.  Lucid dreaming is the act of waking up within your dream, and becoming aware that you are operating within a dream world.  Everything around you becomes a little more saturated with colour and life as the realization sits in that the world around you is yours to create.  You can fly, manipulate matter, and influence the behaviour of other characters in your dream.

More profound than the new abilities you have is the underlying sense of being present in a realm of dreams.  Sometimes, it has almost moved me to tears while being in a lucid dream.  It’s so beautiful. One of the best parts about lucid dreaming is the profound implications they can have on our experience of reality.  I once had a lucid dream where it felt more real than real life.  There are times where I know I am lucid within a dream, but this felt so hyper-real I couldn’t decipher between lucid dream and reality anymore.

Then I thought to myself, “If I can’t tell the difference between this and real life, how can I be so certain that ‘real life’ is not a dream also?”.  A few moments after that, I found myself awake in my bedroom, hovering four feet over my body looking around my room which had now become illuminated by my astral body.

That experience taught me a lot about our experience of waking life.  It also taught me to look closer into what happened in my mind leading up to my experiences of becoming lucid within a dream.  What induced this lucidity? What happened in my mind as I transitioned from the dream state into lucidity?

After having many experiences with lucid dreaming, I began to get a sense of what it felt like to become lucid in waking life.  To literally step outside of your story temporarily and become the watcher of your journey.  Life is just a playground for spiritual evolution, and one day you will wake up and realize that you were just passing through.  You will wake up from this dream, just like you wake up from your dreams each morning after being fooled into thinking that your dream was all there was to reality. In the same way your subconscious mind creates the landscape of your dreams, your soul has created the landscape of your waking-dream.

It doesn’t require a thousand hours of meditation, or for you to read every New Age book that has been printed.  All it requires is that you make shifts in your consciousness, and I would like to share some very easy ways to shift away from ordinary consciousness and into lucid living. Here are 3 ways to become lucid while you are awake:

1) Stop thinking. Become the witness.

If you pay attention to what happens when you become lucid within a dream, you will notice that you literally get pulled out of your thoughts and into lucidity.  You are initially trapped in this day-dreaming state of mind, not considering anything around you.  And as lucidity begins to set in, your thoughts start to subside and a new level of awareness begins to arise from beyond the thought-stream.

Unfortunately, in waking life we don’t normally get yanked out of our thoughts and into transcendence out of nowhere.  It requires that use our will to re-direct our attention.  So right now, as you read this, I want you to stop what your doing.  If you’re just passively scrolling through this, take a moment to focus.  Take a deep breath right now.  Inhale…now exhale.

Take the next 10-20 seconds to stop thinking.  Don’t think about not thinking, just don’t think.  Listen to the sounds that are happening around you.  Maybe you hear the wind, or cars outside, or maybe you hear an undertone of silence.  Whatever sounds you may hear, don’t think about them.  Don’t judge them, comment on them, or label them.  Just listen, without thinking.  Now, pay attention to yourself as the listener.  Who is the one that is listening? And who is the one that is AWARE of the one that is listening?  There is something listening, but there is also something noticing the listening.

When it comes to dreaming, there is the dreamer (which is you who unconsciously cruises through the dream world), and then there is the awareness of the dreamer. This is where lucidity sets in.  In waking life, there is the one who lives (your ego, personality, etc.), and there is the one aware of the one who lives (your soul, pure consciousness).  When you take a moment to snap yourself out of autopilot mode, you will notice that the one who operates within autopilot mode is not you.  It is just an aspect of you, that YOU can become aware of.  Take a look around you.  Really take a moment to actually see.  Who is the one that is seeing right now, and who is the one that is aware you are seeing?

Don’t just hop on board with your thoughts and emotions, or even your experience of the world around you.  Take a moment to notice your thoughts, emotions, or experience.  Notice, and then notice that you are noticing.  Feel the sense of an alert presence arise within your being as you remain still.  You are now lucid living.

2) Pretend you are watching a movie

Have you ever seen the movie called waking life? If not, you should definitely watch it.  It’s about a teenager who is unable to figure out if he is in a dream or in waking life, and on his journey he meets a bunch of interesting characters who let him on the secrets to life and the meaning of existence.

This movie inspired me to stop taking believing so strongly in the reality of waking life.  We get into a habit of taking the physical reality around us for granted, accept that we are alive, and then coast through it making a living.  What if you aren’t alive? What if this is just one massive collective dream we are all dreaming together?  Something which creates a shift in your consciousness into lucidity right away is practicing looking through your eyes like you are watching a movie.

Stop being your eyes.  They are just a screen. Take a moment to look through then as if you are watching a movie screen.  Right now.  Look around you.  You’re just role playing in a movie.  Everything around you is set up on purpose, and you are just a character in your own movie.  The people you see, the animals, even the stars and planets are all part of one massive movie.  And deep down in our souls, we all know this is just one big scene.

The next time you are in a conversation from someone, interact with them as if they are another character in this movie of yours.  And pay attention to what they are saying and what it can show you about yourself and about life, because the point of THIS movie isn’t just to entertain you.  It’s to develop your soul and catalyze your evolution.

You’ll notice that as soon as you switch to the internal space of treating a situation like it is a scene in a movie that you are supposed to gain wisdom from, the qualities of the world around you begin to shift as well.  Something illuminates, and the people around you begin to collapse into your new energy field.  Sometimes I will practice this and feel a massive space open up within me right away.  When you stop believing in reality so much, it’s almost as if the universe is starts winking at you to let you know you’re on the right track.

3) Live as if you only have 60 seconds left

 

One time I was biking home from a forest after what I considered to be an unsuccessful meditation.  I was far too distracted with my thoughts, and they were preventing me from feel free and expansive inside.  After I exited the forest I stopped biking and turned back to stare at the trees, trying to shift perspectives to see which one would induce the most transcendence. I tried looking at the trees as if I was dreaming, as if they were God, as if they were an expression of me, and as if they were a product of infinite intelligence.  Nothing, in that moment, created any real shift for me.  Then I looked at the forest as if I only have 30 seconds left to live on earth.  I look at the trees as if it was the last time I would ever get to see a tree again, and I began to cry.

One of the most humbling realizations is that impermanence is an unchanging truth.  You will never get to experience this moment ever again.  Everything around you will pass with time.  The trees, the buildings, relationships, accomplishments.  Perhaps even the universe itself.  The only things that will remain are memories.  Life is so so temporary.  We all know how fast time seems to fly by.  Whether you believe you have a soul or not, here is a truth that has literally changed the way I see life:

There will be a time in this life where you will be old and near passing.  You will be reflecting on your past experiences, on how you spent your life, on all of the great times you had, and maybe even on how often you took life for granted.  There will come a time in your life where you would give ANYTHING to be in this position right now.  Alive, youthful, healthy.   You would give your arm and a leg if you could just experience life as a 20 or 30 or 50-year-old again.  Imagine yourself being on your deathbed and wishing you could go back for just 30 seconds to extract more experience from life and to fully appreciate how amazing it is.  Consider this moment, right now, being your wish granted. What are you going to do with this moment?

Look at the world through the lens of impermanence and you will notice a shift inside of you right away that may knock you off your feet, as it did for me.  One day, you won’t have a future.  Taking even just a moment to look at the world as if these are your last 60 seconds is a surefire way to snap yourself out of daydreaming and into lucidity.

Hope this inspired you!

Steven Bancarz,

Team Spirit

Seeking Higher Consciousness