Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos: The Power of Surrender

There is a war going on and you may or may not know about it. It is being fought on the internal and external planes of our existence. It is the war for our consciousness and the stakes could not be higher.

As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, more and more of us are becoming increasingly aware of how difficult these times are. We can see the changes all around us and they are not all good. For the first time in our history of this version of humankind, we stand on the precipices of extinction or totalitarianism. It is easy to see our situation as hopeless and for us to feel powerless in the face of the problems before us.

 But we also stand on the edge of the greatest awakening humankind is ever seen. It is the 21st-century version of the oldest battle on the planet: the battle between “good”’ and “evil.” Only now, with our new awareness arising, many of us realize that it’s much more complex than that.

We are now beginning to realize that there is no “they,” that we are they, and they are us. We’re the ones who have brought us to these sharp-edged precipices, and there is only ourselves to blame. We are complicit through our lack of responsibility, our laziness, and our willingness to be bought off by material things and unnecessary comforts. We have allowed ourselves to become divided, to believe we are separate, not one, and we have largely lost our humanity, our connection to each other.

We are taught, and we have accepted, to blame others for our situation. It’s the international bankers, it’s the government, it’s the corporations, it’s the blacks, it’s the whites, it’s the other religion, it’s the money system, it’s the industrial-military complex. Actually, all of these things are just different versions of control that is interconnected. The control is very deep and goes back thousands of years. It is ingrained in our psyches, and we allow it to exist by our lack of awareness and our willingness to be controlled.

How Do We Free Ourselves?

First, we need to free ourselves from the belief that we will win this battle or the belief that the battle can’t be won. Ultimately, it is not winning or losing that matters. It is the struggle that matters. By surrendering to whatever emerges. Surrender is not the same thing as quitting.

Osho, the Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher, told a story about surrender in The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol. 4, chapter 4: Let Go of the Branch:

The man was so surprised, he almost lost his grip on the branch. “Please God, you are wrong, I really mean it; I will believe.”

“Oh no, you won’t. That’s what they all say.”

The man pleaded and argued. Finally God said, ”Alright, I will save you. Let go of the branch.“

“Let go the branch?” The man exclaimed. “Do you think I am crazy?”

Osho explained, even when we have nothing to lose we are afraid to surrender. The man says, “Let go of the branch? Do you think I am crazy?” Hanging onto this branch in the cold wind, and his grip every moment becoming weaker and weaker and still he is not ready to surrender.

The problem is not somewhere outside; the problem is within us. We have to be saved from ourselves. In surrender, we drop the enemy that is us. In that very dropping, the inner darkness disappears. When we surrender, in that very surrender something happens and our inner light starts burning, our inner light starts becoming clear. Clouds disappear.

We want to change the world, we want things to be how we think they should be, while in reality, one of the great secrets is that we are the only thing we can change. Our desire to change the world, and how we go about it, is often situated in our need to be control freaks.

In an article called Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender, by Dr. Amy Johnson, on the blog tiny buddha, she says there are three things she knows about trying to control things:

  • We try to control things because of what we think will happen if we don’t. In other words, control is rooted in fear.

  • To control is also a result of being attached to a specific outcome – an outcome we're sure is best for us, as if we always know what’s best. When we trust that we’re okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don’t need to micromanage the universe. We let go. And we often open ourselves all sorts of wonderful possibilities that aren’t there when read attached to one “right” path.

  • The energy of surrender accomplishes much more than the energy of control. I suspect it’s slightly different for everyone, but here’s what control mode looks and feels like for me. My vision gets very narrow and focused, my breath is shallow, adrenaline is pumping and my heart rate increases. My mind shifts from topic to topic and from past to future very quickly, and I have little concentration, poor memory, and almost no present-moment awareness.

She goes on to say, “so the great irony is that attempting to control things actually feels less in control. When I’m micro-managing and obsessing over details, I know I’m in my own way.

The Practice of Surrender

Like most of the major changes in our lives, surrender is not something we can usually just decide to do on the spur of the moment. Just as the man on the limb in the story above could not let go, even though he realized he would eventually not be able to hold on any longer, there are too many obstacles in our way for us to suddenly just decide to do it. There is cultural conditioning, fear, ego, as was also pointed out above, there are the control issues we all find within ourselves. We use controlling thoughts negatively in relationships, within the “what if” situations, with our health, in love, and in all aspects of our lives including immediate threats like climate change that seem totally out of our control.

It’s no wonder we cannot learn to surrender. We have come to believe that we can control anything outside of ourselves, and it is an illusion. We do, however, have the ability to choose our thoughts and responses to everything.

So let me suggest a couple of ways we can begin to learn how to surrender:

  • Using the words I surrender as a mantra, we can create a simple shift in our thought patterns that have the possibility of letting go of the session and move into the natural flow of whatever momentary thought pattern we find ourselves in.

  • We can also use I surrender as an affirmation about a particular situation. Simply apply it to solve your challenges, and say it as if it is already true.

  • Pay attention when you find yourself in a stressful situation that you cannot change, and consciously allow yourself to surrender.  

No matter how you surrender, whether it’s “let go and let God,” by creating affirmations and mantras, there is a certain peace that comes with complete helplessness.

Here’s the difference between surrendering and giving up:

  • Surrendering comes without drama, while giving up almost always feels like dramatic exasperation and putting the blame on others who must surely be at fault.

  • Surrendering is a decision that allows you to remain engaged. When we surrender we have chosen our role, and giving up is more like a way out.

  • Surrender brings a sense of peace even in a painful situation, where giving up feels like a loss, incompletion and unfulfilling.

Surrender isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of great strength, and the ability to surrender and drop the conflict around a particular situation can change your life.

And maybe even the world.

An excerpt from the poem “Surrender” – by Rumi

Very little grows on jagged rock.

Be ground. Be crumbled,

so wildflowers will come up

where you are.

You have been stony for too many years.

Try something different.


Translation: Coleman Banks

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

10 Useful Tips for Men On Creating A Great Dating Profile

by Gary Stamper

With so many internet dating web sites and millions of users, it's hard to get noticed by the person you find yourself attracted to. Here're some tips to increase your chances of success manifold, in internet dating.

1. Make your profile stand out
Make your profile stand out in the midst of thousands of 'me too' internet dating profiles. It is usually a good idea to search for profiles of your own sex, to gauge the competition. You could even learn a thing or two from viewing profiles of other people. Use humor in your profile. It works very well. Women especially love men who can make them laugh.

Gary’s tip: I know a woman who actually used intimidation to eliminate potential partners she knew would not be able to meet her. Impressed the hell out of me! You should be at a place where you are probably looking for someone who’s fairly fearless.

2. Be honest
Be truthful about your situation. Don't hint that you're a millionaire if you're not. You'll just attract the wrong people and waste your time. If you're married or have kids, say so in your dating profile.

3. Don't appear desperate
Don't appear like you're really desperate for a date and have no standards at all. Set a partner criterion that isn't too broad. If you're looking for partners between five feet and six feet two and religion, ethnicity and race don't matter, it means you're only looking to get laid. At least, that's what you're conveying.

Gary’s tip: Not too broad? I say narrow it down! You know exactly what you’re looking for.

4. Write about yourself
Provide enough information about yourself. What are you like as a person? Which movies do you like? What sort of books do you read? Fiction or non-fiction? Mention your hobbies and interests in your dating profile.

Gary’s tip: Let’s get deeper: What’s your philosophy on life and your spiritual beliefs? Better to eliminate those who don’t meet your wants than to waste time on them, only to discover later that they’re a TV evangelist. It’s a numbers game, and you want to narrow down your, and their, focus.

5. Be specific about what you're looking for (or not looking for without going negative)
Write about the sort of partner you're looking for in terms of outlook, qualities, appearance, religious beliefs etc., if they're important. Also, by being specific, you’re subtly letting someone know that if they don’t meet that parameter, they’re probably wasting their time (and yours).

Gary’s tip: Duh! Of course your parameters are important, unless you’re desperate or asleep! Hopefully, you aren’t either, so ask clearly and concisely what you’re looking for. This requires knowing yourself. Example: “please be evolved beyond fundamentalist consciousness.”

6. Be positive in your profile
Often people will write, 'No freaks' or ' No messed-up people'. This isn't the way anyone would see himself or herself. It shows that you're cynical and see people in a negative light. Be non-judgemental and show that you are. Be receptive to bringing new people into your life.

Gary’s tip: But…be discerning. Like a good breathwork session, always think “this or something better.”If you want someone who doesn’t drink or smoke, say so.

7. Choosing your dating profile user name or headline
Your user name plays a critical role. It is the difference between people clicking on your profile name and viewing your profile or moving on to the next one. Avoid using your full name. You could use your first name with some numbers after it. Something that shows you're romantic or have a sense of humor would work if these are the qualities you possess and want to project.

Gary’s tip: The headline is even more important than your user name. Something catchy and clever will create curiosity. Spend a lot of time with this.

8. Don't be afraid of the Internet
Even in today's times many people are afraid of using the internet for creating dating profiles or searching for prospective dates. As long as you follow basic safety norms, there is no reason to be paranoid. The internet gives some degree of anonymity. Use this till you're reasonably sure who're you're dealing with,

Gary’s tip: The internet is the safest way to meet people if approached correctly. It lets you get to know something about the person before you meet them. ALWAYS meet someone new in a public place with lots of other people around.

9. Internet dating profile pictures
The picture is probably the single most important aspect of your profile. Pictures are known to increase profile views and messages received more than anything else. Use a recent picture. Be fair to the people who may want to get in touch with you. Once you start meeting people in person, you’ll understand why this is important.

Gary’s tip: Pay to get a professional photo taken, even if it’s at WalMart. If you don’t care about yourself, why should someone else care about you?

If the real you is different from the picture, your date will likely be disappointed. No one likes the 50-lb and 5-year suprise! You can always use some image editing software to enhance the picture, though. This is something most people in show business do for their portfolios, ad campaigns and movie posters. Let your picture portray someone who's positive and receptive. Smile!

Avoid webcam shots. They turn out lousy. Group shots are a no-no. It shows you weren't serious enough to even get a picture taken. Use a close-up, not a long distance shot. Most dating sites will remove your image if it's a sketch or a cartoon character. So there's no point going that way. Use nudity only if it is permissible as per the terms of service of the dating site you're signing up with and make sure it's tasteful. Also consider that the images you use can go into circulation elsewhere and may wind up haunting or humiliating you.

Gary’s NSFW tip: Even if you’re on an adult site, guys, stay away from “dick” pics. If they want to see it, they’ll ask. I can’t believe how many men will use one as their profile pic, proving that you think with the little brain. Stay away from adult sites unless that’s what you’re looking for, and don’t look for a peach in a lemon grove.

10. Log in often
After you create your profile, log in often. Most internet dating websites sort listings by last logged in date. That way your profile is seen more often.

Gary’s other tips:
·        Internet dating is a numbers game, and you’re going to kiss a lot of frogs (figuratively speaking, of course). Be prepared for this to take time, and take time away when you feel burnt out. I would go on for 2-3 months, and take a month or two off, temporarily tuning my profiles off for a while. When I’d come back, I’d change some things…my photo, my headline…
·        Pick your dating sites carefully, where you think you’ll find people who are most like you. Exceptions: match.com and Zoosk, just because of the sheer numbers!
·        Join more than one dating site.


Gary Stamper is also a life coach and is the co-creator of the couples' workshop "Discovering Your Sacred Purpose as a Couple.":