The Search For A Perfect Life

The Search For A Perfect Life

Of the many things that cause us pain, our expectation that life should be perfect, is one of the primary causes. The idea that there exists a perfect Shangri-La somewhere that we can somehow locate, is a form of magical thinking that sets us up for false expectations and disappointment..

It creates dissatisfaction with the life we have and pulls us out of the present moment into an unending search for perfection out there somewhere. It also leads to frustration when our efforts fail to create the perfect outcomes we think we need, deserve or desire.

If we truly desire inner peace, we need to trade this magical thinking for a more accurate version of truth.  Zen teaches that to find peace of mind, we need to “think of life as a series of imperfect facts.”

I have used this helpful reminder in countless ways in my personal practice.

This phrase reminds us that our reactions and outrage often stem from an unconscious belief that life should be perfect – or that our individual lives and outcomes ought to be perfect for us to have peace.

Because this limiting belief operates beneath the surface, we may be unaware of it. If I were to ask  you, “Do you expect your life to be perfect?” you would almost certainly say no.

And yet, we get upset when our lives do not match our idealized dreams! This process is known as cognitive dissonance – the conflict between what we want and what actually shows up.

It is worth checking how often you become angry or frustrated when something relatively minor goes wrong, or when events don’t turn out the way you wanted.  You may even feel outraged when life refuses to follow your commands!

With some mindfulness, we can turn such moments into Zen moments: we can think of life as a series of imperfect facts. And know, too, that sometimes those apparent imperfections are really blessings in disguise.

In the same way that we can become outraged when life “goes wrong,” we can sometimes react very harshly when people let us down, or when our expectations are shattered by some very human behavior.

Our relationships do best when we can accept that people sometimes will behave badly, inconsistently or thoughtlessly. Sometimes they will let us down.

As long as this doesn’t happen all the time and does not put us in danger, it is healthier for everyone when we can see these behaviors as part of the big picture and get over the smaller disappointments.

When we focus on let-downs and disappointments, our relationships weaken and may even disintegrate. By choosing instead to see others as flawed as we are, yet generally doing their best, our relationships with all of life become easier, more relaxed and far more rewarding.

Mother Teresa reminded us of that when she said:
 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

When we can see the perfect unfolding of life as a series of imperfect facts, our acceptance of what is, brings freedom and joy.

About the author:
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

A Love Letter From Your Soul

A Love Letter From Your Soul

Dear one, there is something you need to know. This love letter comes to remind you of what really matters. And it is this: You are not a mistake. You are eternally, irrevocably loved.

Yes, you are dearly, utterly loved. You are deeply loved by good people in this world. Most of all, you are loved by the infinite Creator whose love is without beginning and without end.

You are worthy of being loved because of who you are. There is nobody else just like you, and every outrageous detail of your existence is a treasure that is yours to savor and to share.

You come from Love, you are love and therefore you can choose love.

On the days when you want to hide from the world and bury yourself in misery and self-pity, remember this: you are not broken. You may be discouraged, wounded, overwhelmed or afraid, but you are not broken.

Within you, your eternal soul burns bright as ever, and as you peel away the surrounding layers that you built for protection, that inner flame will light your path once more. It will burn through every obstacle on your way, for that is your purpose and your destiny in this life: to let your light shine!

You were not created to play small or to argue for your limitations. You were not born to be broken. Your life offers so much more!

Yes, you are not a mistake. You were given life by Divine decree, and you embarked on this journey with courage that left the angels in awe. You freely chose this wild, tumultuous journey to experience, and learn, and grow. You came here to embody the Presence of the Divine Source in a world shrouded in spiritual slumber.

And these things you can do at any time: you do not need a million dollars in the bank before you learn to lean into the stillness within; you do not have to attain any social status before learning to discern the voice of Spirit within; you do not need to strive for popularity to validate your soul’s worth. Your worth is intrinsic, eternal and unchangeable.

Perhaps you feel a bit dull and tarnished right now, like a diamond that had been dropped in mud. And yet, when the external dirt is washed away, your intrinsic beauty continues to radiate.

Your light is shining through all the layers that obscure it, so open your heart and hands. Let the light within you expand in ever bigger circles to hold this entire world in its embrace. Let your love reach out to embrace all the forms of life around you: two-leggeds and four-leggeds, feathered and scaled ones; all of nature. It is by embracing the beauty of what already is, that your love will call forth the highest good in yourself and others.

You are magnificent and powerful; a co-creator endowed with the privilege of being the Creator’s hands and feet and voice in this world. This is your purpose and your calling.

Life is fleeting and fragile and sometimes utterly awful. At times such as these, the light within you is needed more than ever.

Never let the shadows around you discourage you. Instead, let your light shine so brightly that it dispels the shadows and illumines your path.

You came into this life to realize the Presence of the Creator in you and anchor that in physicality. As you do that, the Creator Presence radiates into the world around you to heal, transform and renew. That power is in you right now, right here!

You alone must discover the full potential of what is possible in this life. You already have the power of becoming within you, for you have the power of choice.

And as you nestle into the Presence of Spirit’s peace at the end of each day, may you feel the pleasure of the Creator resting on you, and the loving embrace of your heavenly support team.

You are never alone. You are Divinely loved and supported, now and always.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How to Stay Strong When Things Go Wrong

How to Stay Strong When Things Go Wrong

Do you wish you could stay strong when setbacks hit and things go wrong? If so, you’re not alone! Setbacks and disappointments are a part of life, but learning how to effectively deal with them, can help to strengthen us from within.

When faced with setbacks, disappointments and stagnation, the first thing to do is not to fight back harder, but to step back and regain perspective before proceeding. This may feel counterproductive at first, but it is vitally important.

When we get so focused that we see things as black and white, good or bad, we can get boxed into rigidity. Truth is, life consist of an entire spectrum of possibilities, rather than just two choices. Stepping back and refocusing opens our minds to more ways of seeing and acting in life.

It does not always require a major shift; even a small tweak can make a difference. Just step back and shift your perspective enough to include one more way of looking at that situation. Is it really true that you are the only actor responsible for creating a desired outcome? It may be more accurate to say you represent one of many conditions that need to come together for something to unfold.

Even when we put our best into something, the outcome might not be what we expected. There may be very strong messages from inside and around us telling us that the outcome is the most important thing, yet that is a limited perspective. The outcome is less important than cultivating our capacity to be with whatever is, even when it is not at all what we have wished for.

This means learning to be okay with not knowing, with not being able to control the outcome. We continue to practice and train our ability to at peace within, and we don’t take the outcome personally.

This is at the heart of authentic spiritual work: it includes both being and doing; awareness as well as the discipline of application. What keeps us pliable in this often challenging process, is the attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude is not dependent on external circumstances. We don’t feel gratitude just because everything is going great, although that’s important to acknowledge. We especially need to practice gratitude when things are not going the way we want them to. It’s when things go wrong, that we are faced with deeper attachments and desires that often masquerade as needs.

To stay flexible, we need to practice gratitude anyhow; similar to the concept of “hallelujah anyhow” that is often heard in black churches; giving thanks and finding gratitude not because of our circumstances, but despite them.

The challenge is to stay in a receptive, open place, not fighting against what’s happening, but digging deeper within to live from our core values, to be the difference we wish to see in the world, and to lead by example in making a difference despite the setbacks we may face. It requires us to dig deep and keep showing up, doing our best with the resources and gifts that we ourselves have been given to make this world a better place.

And when our best is not sufficient to change things around yet, we entrust the outcomes to a Higher hand and we stay the course with compassion for ourselves and others. Once conditions are appropriate, the outcomes will be sure. In the meantime, the work remains because living from our true core and purpose is the only meaningful way to live. Even when conditions are not yet appropriate for optimal outcomes to show up, we can say “hallelujah” anyhow, and stay the course.

Setbacks and delays are part of life’s reality, and they are fully workable. Our practice is to not pull away from the dissonance, not to withdraw from what we are faced with; and in that place where commitment and discipline meet the obstacles, our souls learn resilience and strength.

This is true especially when you feel outnumbered and alone. Don’t get locked into the duality of blame and shame! You cannot be successful by feeding what you are fighting, so when you reach this point, step back and regroup!

Do something good instead. Recognize that we need the shadow to show us the light, and navigate by forgiving the limitations of the shadow and finding a way to shine the light.

One of the biggest pitfalls in our society is the way in which personal preferences are mislabeled as needs. People often attempt to manipulate others by presenting their emotional preferences as needs, and then demanding these “needs” be met. Listen to individuals for a day and you’ll notice how often this is used to manipulate: “I need you to be quiet now,” “I need you to listen to me,” “I need you to do this right now,” and the list goes on.

In reality, these statements confuse emotional preferences with needs. They are indicative of misappropriate use of the limbic brain, where needs and preferences are often confused in early childhood. Adults who get stuck in this dysfunctional behavior, create a lot of chaos for themselves and others.

An emotional “need” is not the same as the biological need for oxygen, food and shelter; it is simply a preference. In fact, psychologist Steven Stosny identifies only one valid emotional need for adults, and that is to act consistently on deeper values.

When we consistently act from our deeper values, all the emotional preferences that parade as important needs, will either be satisfied as a byproduct of meaningful living, or they will drop away as unimportant in the bigger lens of living a purposeful life.

The best way to attain the life you want to have, is to approach it from the perspective of living it in alignment with your deeper values and meaning, not from emotional preferences masquerading as “needs.”

When you do that, you will find your roots digging deeper so you can stay strong when things go wrong.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

What are the Four Noble Truths? In short, they represent the Buddha’s fundamental teaching that liberates humans from suffering. These four truths can be summarized as follows:

  1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle

Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we do not experience permanent satisfaction in anything but may feel an undercurrent of internal anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of existence.

  1. Craving Is The Cause Of Suffering

The cause of suffering is craving that stems from ignorance. We suffer because we tend to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the truth that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated when the world doesn’t behave the way we think it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping for others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different than it is and causes suffering.

  1. Suffering Stops When Craving Ends

Since we are ultimately the ones that cause our own suffering by perpetuating the cycle of craving and resistance, we also have the power to end our suffering. Even when life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we respond to it. By awakening to the true nature of our timeless souls, we can end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it is not the suffering that ceases, but the craving.

  1. There’s A Path Out Of Suffering

By embracing the path of right living, we can awaken to our Higher nature. This path involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal practice that supports our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Most of us struggle with the practical application of these Four Noble Truths. Our human tendency is to avoid all pain and suffering, which only perpetuates our struggle.

Instead, I suggest that we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for right living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more effectively. By presenting the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.

I propose using the acronym AREA to remember the structure of the Four Noble Truths in practical ways: Accept Life As Is, Release Reactivity, End Grasping, and Act Appropriately.

When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in appropriate ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and ultimately expand the area or scope of our True nature.

  1. Accept Life As Is

When we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; instead, we recognize it for simply being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.

The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, that makes them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of each moment.

  1. Release Reactivity

Human neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without spiritual awareness. Our senses are continuously providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in a different way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to respond to; not interference to react to, judge, resist or avoid.

When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with medication or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell us; and once we understand the deeper message, we’ll be able to respond appropriately so the messenger can be released. This process of responding instead of reacting allows us to create more inner space for growth in consciousness.

  1. End Grasping

It is essential to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties with an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. This inner attitude of non-attachment frees us from the endless cycles of attachment and aversion to offer us genuine freedom and inner peace instead. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and surrender that to which you cling.”

Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are in truth nothing other than learned behaviors and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them truly opens up space for us to thrive.

  1. Act Appropriately

In shamanic traditions, appropriate action is referred to as “right living.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, beliefs and reactions. It nurtures the development of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.

The more we fine-tune our responses to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more inner freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Creating a path of appropriate action nourishes us at all levels and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.

Using AREA can serve as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The result is more inner peace, harmony and joy.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Cultivating Happiness Is An Inside Job

We all want to be happy; why is it that some find happiness and others fail?

According to a growing number of psychologists, happiness is a choice, not something that happens to you or that you find on the outside. Happiness is an inside job: you can choose to be happy by making the effort to cultivate a life where happiness resides.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

In other words, inner alignment precedes outer success. The pursuit of happiness consists less of looking for it out there, and identifying what it is that gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment from within. We can boil that inner alignment down to four basic principles: belonging, purpose, transcendence and narrative.

In other words, happiness is not a gift that falls into our laps; it is a state of being that is earned. In Manuscript Found in Accra, author Paulo Coelho puts it this way:

     “I fell asleep and dreamed that Life was only

     Happiness.

     I woke and discovered that life was Duty.

     I did my Duty and discovered that life was Happiness.”

Happiness, then, is the fruit that grows on a tree where four distinct branches are dutifully nurtured and cultivated: belonging, purpose, transcendence and narrative. The more we cultivate these, the more bountiful the harvest of happiness it bears.

Belonging

The need for belonging is hard-wired in our genes. From the earliest history of homo sapiens on the planet, humans have sought out communities and tribes to belong to. It affirmed their sense of identity and offered a sense of safety. But in the context of happiness, I am referring to more than superficial, tribal membership and groups based on belief systems.

The true sense of belonging I refer to here comes from understanding who you are as a soul and what your purpose and place is on the grand stage of life. Knowing your place in creation brings the realization that you are made of more than the stuff of belief systems and memberships; you are a unique soul who chose to embark on an earth life and become an integral part of the family of mankind. And as mankind goes, so do you.

In this larger context of identity and belonging, there is no place for petty grievances over race, gender or status. Instead, there is a shared purpose and destiny that we either fulfill and benefit from, or forfeit at our peril as some ancient civilizations had learned.

Purpose

A true sense of purpose requires of us to align with that destiny that is larger than the sum of its parts: the call to awaken to our true purpose in life and embrace the opportunities for growth. It beckons us to uncover and develop our unique gifts, skills and strengths, and then to apply them in service to a cause greater than our individual comfort and existence.

True purpose requires us to step off the pedestal of privilege and instead of asking what others can give to us, to ask how we can be of service. It requires commitment, loyalty, discipline, effort and staying power, yet there is no joy greater than being part of serving the greater good.

Transcendence

Transcendence calls us out from the daily drama and petty battles on the surface of life to a Field much higher, much more powerful and much more meaningful than our individual ego identities.

All spiritual traditions speak of transcendence as a way to rise above the mundane into ultimate partnership with the Divine Creator and the Field of Consciousness. This Field holds the possibilities of all that was, is and can be. It is sometimes referred to as the presence of All That Is.

As we align with this Presence more and more, it slowly permeates our understanding so that we awaken to the process of personal growth and so transform our own consciousness into higher levels of being. Transcendence calls us to this higher way of living: it invites us to expand, grow and reach beyond the mundane in order to fulfill our highest potential.

Narrative

Narrative refers to telling our story, and how it defines us. We can learn much from listening to the way someone speaks about their life; what they focus on and how they cast themselves in the plot.

Are you telling your personal story from the perspective of a victim or a victor? By breaking free from the limiting narratives of your life that constrain and disempower you, you will find freedom to create a new narrative for your life: one that honors the truth of your soul’s limitless potential, filled with deep meaning and satisfaction.

Together, these four principles form a solid foundation for a life well lived, blessed by happiness and fulfillment.

Finally, it is helpful to remember that all good things take time to develop – patience is perhaps the first quality trait needed on the journey toward self-mastery and happiness. In the book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it this way:

“He who wishes one day to fly, must first learn standing and walking and running and climbing and dancing. One does not fly into flying.”

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Authentic Spirituality

Want to get enlightened fast? Here’s a reality check: True enlightenment is not going to happen fast; if it does, it is not authentic. True, authentic spirituality is a slow, organic process of growth.

It follows a cyclical rhythm, the way life flows through seasons and patterns. And it looks less like a body-builder on steroids, and more like a homegrown strawberry.

So much of what passes for spirituality today is actually about selling seekers on a package that looks good, but does not lead to authentic spiritual transformation. It represents spirituality on steroids – and while every package promises to be the magic tool, it places appearance and performance above inner transformation.

This consumerist spirituality is all about selling us an image. Master these yoga asanas and you’ll reach enlightenment… or wear these clothes and you’ll be transformed faster… or visit this sacred site and you will become more spiritual.

In this steroid-driven spirituality, the pathway becomes the goal. Its to-do list may look glamorous: a meditative state to attain, a transmission to receive, a workshop to attend; yet the promised result remains just out of reach while we are sold the latest ‘guaranteed’ way to reaching it. You see, it’s based on a flawed principle that we are somehow lacking something we need to strive for.

In truth, authentic spirituality and enlightenment is not a goal we reach out there; it is something we become. The entire Universe operates on the principle of emergence and our spiritual nature is no different: it unfolds when we remove the obstacles to its emergence.

The authentic work of realizing our true identity needs no fancy interventions: it simply requires basic conditions that sustain all forms of life on this planet.

The strawberries in my garden can attest to that.

Strawberries will grow from a tiny seed to a beautiful plant that bears prolifically if you give it the right environment. It needs nutrients from the soil, sunlight and comfortable temperatures. When it gets these basic ingredients, it grows abundantly in full harmony with its own genotype and bears beautiful, juicy fruit in due season.

When we alter the nature of strawberries with genetic engineering and chemical steroids to boost production, the fruit will turn out big but tough and tasteless. They may look good on the surface, but one taste will tell you the difference between scientifically manipulated fruit and a juicy homegrown strawberry.

It’s the same with commercialized-spirituality. While promising instant miracles and results, it robs each individual of their unique journey to become the magnificent soul whose potential they’ve carried all along, and it renders them weak and tasteless.

While it makes bold claims of miracles, power and peace, commercialized spirituality sells us an image of who we think we need to be to qualify, lures us away from the very life we have by promising us something better, and tempts us to strive for spiritual success by doing more while in the process losing our most precious connection to our inner selves.

Thankfully, the way to authentic spirituality is always open to us.

Authentic spirituality puts an end to the lie that we need to be anywhere other than where we find ourselves right now. It gives us the freedom to grow right where we are, to harness the nutrients of the life we are already living, and to allow our inner guidance to produce delicious, juicy fruit to share with the world.

Here are four important principles of authentic spirituality:

  1. The answers already await inside you.

Whatever the question your life is asking you right now, the answer lies in the truth of who you already are. Why? Because you are a limitless spiritual being, experiencing this duality-based earth life to grow, evolve and realize your full potential.

Learning to distinguish the authentic voice of your soul from the noise of culture and conditioning is a journey—and it’s not necessarily easy. But it’s simple, and that is important. Whatever response is called for, you can relax and ask yourself, ‘How could this be useful on my path?’ then listen for your soul’s whisper to guide you. Learning to recognize the voice of your Higher truth will set you free from the confines of your limitations.

  1. Your body is the perfect spiritual vehicle for authentic spiritual growth.

Instead of bypassing the body’s messages or judging it as a faulty tool that needs to be fixed, authentic spirituality embraces the body as a vehicle that continually communicates with you. When you are at home and grounded in your body, you have the best chance of healing, learning, growing and becoming.

The physical body is not optional in this life and it is not a problem. It is a temple not made by hands; a sacred vessel for the presence of Spirit in our lives. The more we become present to our embodied experience, the more we are able to harness all the energy of Spirit we can contain to heal, transform and fulfill our potential.

  1. Your life is always speaking to you.

Right now, your life is speaking to you through events, metaphors, symbolism and other messages to guide you. Instead of resisting, try listening to it with an open heart. When we listen to our lives, we get precious information that is customized just for us.

It is by learning to love the life you have, that you can begin to choose a life you love. Your own direct experience needs to be the authority in your life rather than any external program, guru or person. Over time, listening to your life in this way is how you’ll learn where you grow best and what conditions allow you to bear the greatest fruit for your community and world.

  1. Your emotions aren’t a problem.

Most suffering in life is caused by the unwillingness to feel what we are actually feeling. Instead, we create elaborate avoidance strategies and masks to hide behind, causing endless suffering.

When you allow yourself to feel your emotions as they come and go, you’ll find peace. There is no story to tell around it; there is simply the being present in each moment, and the awareness of the emotions passing through your awareness like clouds in the sky. By observing your emotions without resistance, you’ll find them passing through your awareness while you continue to stay identified with your consciousness as the core of your true Self.

Authentic spirituality is a path of inner, direct experience that gradually unfolds at your unique human pace and produces practical enlightenment – the kind that serves instead of enslaves.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

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