This talk was given by Jeddah Mali in January 2019 at the beginning of the Overcoming Challenges tutorial series
The aim of this series is to help us learn from the challenges we face and grow by the different choices we make by way of response. There is nothing more liberating than overcoming a long-standing pattern and experiencing the freedom that comes from the choices we ourselves have made. So this series will encourage you over and over to look within for solutions to the various challenges you face. And whether it looks like people are struggling or sailing through life, everyone has challenges of some sort. That’s why we’ve come together; to learn where our understanding is limited, to seek opportunities to experience that limitation, and then reach for a new way of being.
So as part of this series, we will all become adept at tinkering. This might be a uniquely English expression, I don’t know, but it means to try things out little by little. It’s appropriate here because I won’t be encouraging you to rip up your present life and start from scratch. That is too dramatic, and not necessary. It’s more a case of making discerning adjustments to your perception, experience and understanding. Done well, it can lead to a restructuring of deep patterns, and you find that pleasant changes start to be noticeable. A lightening and lifting of the human experience, accompanied by a new-found sense of confidence and appreciation of your being.
Each month we will choose a common challenge. For instance; fear, doubt, struggle, stress, insecurity, lack, needing recognition, vulnerability, neediness, being right and so on. Then we will look at why that particular issue manifests and how we can address it.
In today’s session we’ll cover why challenges arise, and how we can develop the right response in order to overcome them. Next time we’ll start in on a specific challenge and keep that format for the whole series.
Let’s define first what we mean by challenge. Many people call them problems, but the word problem is associated with the belief that there is an inherent faultiness, and therefore the situation is already tainted. The belief also implies that the problem is real which limits the change we feel we can bring about. The word challenge is not so strongly associated with being broken, wrong, faulty and therefore our identity isn’t triggered into a negative mindset about ourselves or the available possibilities. It also suggests that we are being offered an opportunity to find a new solution to a present puzzle, so the situation isn’t terminal – it’s just what’s being presented right now.
Using the word challenge instead of problem lightens the internal load slightly but it doesn’t take away the fact that we have some work to do. As we mentioned earlier, we have to recognise that our understanding of life (and therefore ourselves and others) is incomplete. It’s not personal, we’re all here for exactly the same reason. That is very comforting. That’s why we often say, “we’re all in this together”.
Regardless of how we label it, what are the common mechanics of why we relate to something as a problem or a challenge?
Let’s examine this together. Close your eyes and sit comfortably upright. Allow the body to relax and the breathing to become slightly deeper for a few breaths. Then let the breathing fall into an effortless pattern.
Now look inside your being as if you were touring the inside of a museum or art gallery. You’re not there to paint a masterpiece, rearrange the exhibits, or run the whole enterprise, you’re just there to look. And in the same way we don’t go to an art gallery with limited time and rush through in a hectic fashion….so too, give yourself that freedom to examine your being without the pressure to perform, change, know. Be leisurely in your approach. And allow the size of your internal space to come more clearly into view, so you can see the internal environment. If it feels a little squashy, gently expand the walls out until it feels more spacious and comfortable. If you’d like a higher ceiling, allow that too. If you’d like more light, let that happen. It’s all available and you get to choose.
So now you feel more comfortable in your own space, let’s explore. As you look around your being, do you notice any areas that call to your attention? If you were to spot what you might think of as a problem or a challenge for you, how would you notice it? It doesn’t matter what the specific challenge is, just be aware of how all challenges live inside you. How does it show up in your being and alert you? What form does it take? How does it look to you? Now continue to notice the hallmarks of this challenge, and at the same time as you begin to notice this, pay close attention to how your mind engages with this exercise. Notice that the mind has its own way of searching, looking, perceiving, thinking, believing about challenges. What do you notice about the mind’s activity as it engages with even the idea of a challenge?
Notice there is an assumption of something lacking, something missing, something wrong. Notice there is the notion of fault. Notice how sure the mind is of its story here….and notice that more often than not, the mind’s interaction with the issue isn’t detached and equanimous. It is part of why we perceive this situation to be a challenge in the first place. In fact, we could say, the mind has played a big part in perceiving it as a problem.
Now at this point, stay steady, stay conscious. Don’t fall into the analytical thinking mind. Remember you are just visiting the gallery to view the exhibits, and you get to look deeply without needing to worry about the ownership of what you see. And notice how you feel about that possibility…to be able to view patterns and creations within your being, but without concern. Without rerunning the story or taking it personally. Just staying detached and equanimous. And compare this to the feeling when the mind is searching out problems. Not just problems in the world or others, but far worse…problems in YOU…when you believe you ARE the problem.
Now let’s open our eyes for a moment and consider this…we can see one common aspect of challenge is the role of the mind is setting up the picture we then feel obliged to respond to. We feel obliged to respond precisely because of the mind’s certainty of its perception and its conclusions. So there is a sense of fait accompli. And we would go further than to say the mind’s role here is common. We would say it is central to the notion of a challenge. Another way of saying this is that the mind creates the problem. But we can refine that even further and say the mind is the problem. Bingo!
And it is exactly this central, causative role of the mind in challenges that we will de-code this series. The fact that the mind is involved is not the great insight here…it’s how your particular thought patterns are set up, how they feed into the stories you tell yourself, and how they create the version of you that you have believed in so firmly that it has become your identity – how you present yourself to the world. Each of us carries a unique matrix of patterns in our field, that we experience as ‘self’. That is why no two people are the same. What you do share is the mechanics of how these patterns come into being, and how they can be dissolved or re-ordered into preferred patterns.
This is where Natural Intelligence comes in. These patterns perform according to very predictable laws. Even though our experience feels so unique and so real, especially when it’s painful, it’s actually a matter of existential physics. You’ll see that you created your particular matrix and you can re-create it. The beauty of using Natural Intelligence for this purpose is that it takes out almost all the personal affront associated with challenges. When we view challenges through the lens of created patterns rather than inherent fault, it doesn’t make us wrong in the process. Instead, we see we have been co-creators in this situation and therefore, we are responsible for ordering the next manifestation in our field.
Now when we say, co-creators, we’d like to define the role so there’s no misunderstanding. There are two contributors to your experience; one is existence, the other is you. Existence contributes all the known, stable, predictable elements; which energy in the form of expansion, light and harmony. This energy retains its structure, nature and function but its behaviour will change depending on the influence applied. That’s where you come in. Your thought life is ordering this energy into patterns which you feel as experience. Existence cannot stop you doing this, you are a co-creator after all – and that brings with it some power. The right of choice (known as free will) is one. The only brakes Existence has factored into the system are that the frequency level of the consciousness applied to energy, affects how much reach we have. Contracted instructions (in the form of negative thoughts) yield contracted sensations (so our creations are uncomfortable and therefore discouraged). So even though we are somewhat limited in our scope, we are nevertheless free to think as many limited thoughts as we like and order the corresponding number of unpleasant experiences. The only way to avoid this outcome is to cease the activity which creates it. Now remember, what existence is putting into the bargain…an endless supply of expansive, light and harmonious energy that is highly sensitive to suggestions. So it can’t of itself order the cessation of negative thinking. It can only keep producing the creations that you have ordered in the hope that you will see what you are doing and choose another option.
So from this exploration, you can see that Existence is not bringing any challenge to the table. That is all coming from us. This can be a hard fact to accept because it feels like existence is imposing discomfort / pain etc on us because it’s reflecting it back to us within our own experience. But in fact existence does not and cannot order contraction of its own accord because the ability to do so is not in its power. That’s a big statement! Existence cannot create contraction – only you can.