Stop trying so hard

“The next message you need
is always right where you are.”

— Ram Dass

Meditation is where you get out of incessant trying.  There is a part of us that is constantly trying.  Trying to accomplish something.  Trying to do this.  Trying to do that.  It’s exhausting.

Meditation is about getting into a state of allowing where you’re not pushing against anything.  We have very strong desires for things to be a certain way. But the only thing we really have control over is what we put our attention on, what we focus on.

Meditation, quieting the mind, positions us to make choices about where we want to put our attention, instead of just being pulled from one situation to the next and reacting.  Meditation helps people get into a state of awareness.  As your awareness increases, you have access to understanding.  But the first level is letting go of resistance, which is the trying to achieve this and that.

You may have heard of people who have huge insights or breakthroughs when they sleep, or when they’re just taking a walk in the park, or playing with their kids.  A scientist may have been working on a project for years and all of a sudden, when he’s sleeping or doing some mundane task, the crucial idea comes to him. For me, insights usually come when I’m in the shower, or driving alone in the car, or when I first wake up in the morning – when I’m just in that transitional state before my conscious mind kicks in.  The insights – the answers to a problem or question I have – come then because there’s nothing blocking them.  I’m not trying.  There’s no resistance. There’s nothing in the way of receiving.

Meditation can take you into that state of allowing, precious freedom from effort and trying.  What a relief!

Meditation: Journeying

A 24 minute meditation.  A journey of release and renewal.  A journey inside your own universe of possibilities.

Meditation by Charles Robinson, recorded live on Wednesday November 21, 2012.
The Music is “Statia” and “Homework” by Gurdonark, generously shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license and posted for all to enjoy on

Writing Life with a Typewriter

“Perfection is my enemy.”
Francesca Battistelli

Charles sent me this ESPN video because I wrestle with writing, trying to get the writing to match what I intend, what I want to communicate.  Trying to get it “perfect,” so to speak.

The most obvious problem with perfection is that it’s always out of reach.  There’s always something that can be improved.  And striving for something that is always out of reach will wear you down, undermine the shred of self-confidence you have and, eventually, immobilize you.  It’s too painful.  If perfection is your goal, you’ll never be good enough.

But more important than that – If you could achieve perfection, you would have lost something very important.

Why does children’s author Alfred Slote write his books with a manual typewriter instead of a computer?  Because “you have a chance to make things perfect as you go along with the computer.  And there’s a real loss of innocence, I think….Sucking the life out of it.”  He says his books would take him much longer to write if he wrote them on a computer.

What’s wrong with perfection?

It sucks the Life out.  The spontaneous, warm, surprising, perfectly imperfect Life.

Overcoming obstacles to your dreams

“Maybe being at rock bottom was the perfect place to start…I was about to embark on the most creative project that any of us could ever do – that of rebuilding a life.  And even though I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do, in that uncertainty came a sense of freedom. I was no longer tied to a set  path. I was free to explore life’s infinite possibilities.”
—  Janine Shepherd, walking paraplegic, TEDx talk 8/28/12

Do you have a dream that you think you can’t achieve?

I’ve been struggling with time lately.  The shortage of it.  Trying to fit all my priorities into my days, or weeks, or months, or years.  Juggling the immediate and the long range priorities.  Time has become my obstacle.  Because there are so many things I want to do.

And I know that time is just one of many obstacles that we confront in the pursuit of our dreams.

What if the obstacle was your body?  Janine Shepherd, a champion cross country skier with Olympic dreams, faced this reality.  As an athlete, her body was her identity.  Janine The Machine they called her.

Until she was hit by a truck.

And her dreams changed.

I am willing to learn how to transcend this obstacle I call time.  (I suspect it might have something to do with appreciating each moment.) I was inspired by listening to Janine Shepherd talk about how she discovered she can transcend the expectations and limitations of her body.

What gifts and strengths are contained in the obstacles you’re facing in your own life right now?

Making the Best of Bad Meditation

Making the Best of Bad Meditation Buddha by Keoni Cabral
Image by Keoni Cabral

There are many definitions of meditation, but my favorite is this: stopping thought without falling asleep.

I remember a story Ram Dass told of how he went to study meditation in a remote Buddhist monastery somewhere in Asia.  They were very strict there. They sat in meditation all day every day, day after day, except for small meals.  And the meditation teachers, the masters, would walk around the students, monitoring their meditations.  And if he fell asleep – they hit him with a stick!

I’d say that’s a little over the top.

And besides, I like bad meditation.  You just have to time it right.  It’s probably not something you want to do in a remote Buddhist monastery, but if falling asleep is one of the difficulties you face when you try to meditate – why not make the best of it?

Bad meditation is my own personal treatment for insomnia.

When I lie down at night and my mind is so alert I think my eyes are open even when they’re closed, that’s my time to meditate.  If I achieve that beautiful state of awareness where thought stops without falling asleep, I’m in bliss.  And if I have a bad meditation, just kiss my head and let me sleep.