The Union Path

The balance of enduring and changing, discovering our own path in life. There are no shortcuts, we need to live our full life in order to fully experience it.

Show Notes

It is no secret that life can be difficult and full of suffering at times. Despite our best efforts, it is often hard to make sense of our pain and find ways to cope with it. However, if we can learn to recognize and accept our suffering, as well as use it as an opportunity for growth and understanding, we can create a better future for ourselves.

It is important to acknowledge that our lives are not as unique as we think they are, and there are common things that run through people's lives. We may be tempted to turn to external fixes in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation, but oftentimes this will only compound the original problem. It is not usually one thing that solves our problems, and oftentimes it takes multiple tries with multiple efforts. Relying entirely on external fixes can often lead to two problems instead of one.

Rather than trying to avoid or escape our discomfort, it is important to sit with it and really accept what is happening. We have to really accept and befriend as much as we can what's actually happening, learn from it, and then make the best choices from there. No one can tell us our truth. No one can tell us our path. We have to discover it ourselves.

The key is to find a balance between acceptance and effort to create change. It is a combination of qualities: both letting go and moving forward. We must not only find our way through life, but also to the life that is best for us. Life is meant to be lived in its entire spectrum - from what we would call good to bad - and we can use times of suffering, confusion, and needing change as an opportunity to learn something more about ourselves, and gain a deeper understanding of life.

By being mindful and aware, we can better understand our suffering and use it as a guide for navigating our lives more effectively. With this approach, we can begin to create a better future for ourselves and work towards a life of greater balance and fulfillment.

Full episode transcript available at:

What is The Union Path?

Mindful monologues to awaken your consciousness and nourish your soul.

In this introspective podcast, I aim offer you heartfelt rumination to inspire your own growth and self-discovery.

Are you seeking deeper meaning, truth, purpose or peace in your life? Join me as I unfold observations and awareness along the spiritual path - what I have learned, struggled with, found insight into.

Let these moving soliloquies gently prompt self-inquiry as you contemplate the deeper questions we all face: why do you suffer? How can you cultivate more inner calm and wisdom?

There is no dogma here, only my pondering as I illuminate and ponder our shared experiences living.

My hope is that by modeling raw exploration rooted in courageously questioning “why?”, these thoughtful meanderings awaken self-understanding and nourish your soul.

Consider these unconventional audio journal entries as a way to inspire and awaken your own internal wise teacher, taking your hand to guide you in looking within your own mysterious inner landscape in a new way. Feel less alone. Find inspiration to expand your self-awareness and consciousness with me each week.

The Union Path Podcast - Life Has to be Lived

There's lots of advice out there. There are lots of opinions. There's lots of stories about people overcoming their problems, about people persevering,

about people conquering the challenges they struggle with, and these stories are really compelling, especially in times where we're looking for solutions, looking for change,

looking to solve something that's going on with us. It can be really easy and tempting to simply look at someone else's experience and try to do the same thing.

That's the way a lot of learning happens. We get an idea, we try it, we see what happens, and oftentimes it's important to acknowledge that our lives are not as unique as we probably think they are.

There are common things that seem to run through people's lives all the time, and it can be a really valuable thing to observe what's happening to other people,

observe what's happening to other people around us, and give things a try. See what works for us and what doesn't.

That's what learning is. It's trying things on seeing what's useful to keep and discarding the rest. Like a lot of things, there's pitfalls in this, right?

I think the one major thing that I see with advice all the time is that the solution was just one thing. You know, kind of the internet thing of one weird trick that I use to solve every problem in my life.

Well, it's not usually that simple. Life is complicated. Solutions are really nuanced, really take oftentimes multiple tries with multiple efforts.

We can look like we're moving backwards at times, but eventually when we actually solve problems for ourselves, that's super valuable.

Super valuable because we've not only learned something new, but now we have a tool we can apply later.

But that's the thing about life, right? It has to be lived. There are no shortcuts. We really do have to go through what we need to go through. Really do have to learn what we need to learn,

and we really have to try something, see what happens, and then adjust further. And oftentimes it isn't one thing that solves our problem more often it's holding two or more things in balance.

So when it comes to solving a problem in our life, even our approach needs to be nuanced, needs to be balanced. If we're really suffering with something,

a multifaceted approach often does come into play. We really do need to combine ideas like, soothing and awareness at the same time.

These two things can really seem like opposites. When we're suffering, when we're in pain, the last thing we want is to feel more of it. The last thing we want is to look at it harder than we already are. We want some relief.

We can find that relief through disassociating, and as a short term strategy, this can be really effective in whatever we use to disassociate from the current moment, whether it be any kind of addiction,

any kind of compensatory behavior, relief is a good thing, at least in the short term, be able to feel better when we feel rotten. That's good. That's a win. That's success.

But then the problem comes, what happens when these short term strategies start to lose their effectiveness over time?

What happens when these short term strategies are leaned on too heavily to become long term strategies and then introduce problems of their own?

As an easy example, a lot of people realize that they can pretty easily and quickly make themselves feel better by eating something,

especially something with a certain texture, a certain flavor, a certain stimulation. We can use these sensations to override the pain and discomfort that we're feeling, and oftentimes it works.

But then it works once and we can do it over and over and over again. And if we find ourselves in a chronic state of needing relief, needing soothing, and we go back to these tried and true tools over and over again,

New problems can show up. These new problems can actually compound the original problem we're trying to solve.

And that's really hard because the thing about doing anything that pulls us out of the present moment is we're missing an opportunity for awareness. We're missing an opportunity for communication.

We're missing the opportunity to really hear what this situation is trying to tell us, because at any time of suffering, there's an imbalance somewhere.

There's a message there somewhere that something has gone awry. Something is out of whack and it's a perfectly normal and expected impulse to try to bring ourselves back into balance.

But with a lot of this sort of conflict, a lot of these issues, relying entirely on external fixes can often lead us to a place where now we have two problems.

In our eating example, maybe now we're overweight. Maybe now we've developed somewhat of a food addiction, and then also over time these external tools start to fail us.

We build a bit of a tolerance to it, and no matter what it is, especially if it's an addiction, that tolerance not only limits the effectiveness of what we're doing,

but leads us deeper into our hole, leads us into doing that thing more, trying to compensate for the lack of effectiveness.

We're trying to solve a soothing efficiency problem through just doing more and more and more. But if that coping strategy is now introducing problems of its own,

that obviously just leads us deeper instead of leading us out. But that's the hard thing, because when we're disassociating and when we're paying less attention to what's really happening,

we're delaying our ability to do anything about it. We're deceiving ourselves, we're deluding ourselves and allowing these initial issues to just build and fester,

and if our coping strategies are numbing enough to where they really do completely get us out of present moment awareness,

as soon as we've recovered, as soon as we've come back to reality again, all those issues, all that pain, all that suffering is waiting there for us and comes rushing back in.

But this is a really hard thing, this is the thing about life where there are no quick and easy answers. There are no one weird tricks to solve real, complicated problems.

Oftentimes it takes several different tools. It takes several different strategies, takes experimentation, takes trying and failing to eventually work our way towards relief.

And obviously we can lessen the burden on ourselves by not perseverating, by not ruminating on what's affecting us.

Oftentimes we start to learn these strategies and we learn that we can short circuit our suffering, then we cheat ourselves out of the wisdom and awareness that's waiting for us.

We take what seems like a shortcut, but it's really more of a loop. It's really more of a repetitive pattern that makes us stuck.

That is limiting and subverting the progress we're trying to actually make. But it's really hard, it's really hard to sit with discomfort. It's really hard to sit with pain. It's really hard to just sit in a lousy situation.

And the reality is sometimes we're in situations that there's not much we can really do about it. We can't change everything in our lives all the time.

Sometimes we just need to find a way to be in a rotten situation, and abide anyway. And we can do that by not over-perseverating on what's happening,

not focusing too hard on everything that's wrong, and recentering ourselves with a deeper truth, a deeper reality, a deeper identity, because no matter what's happening to us,

we're still the same fundamental being on the inside. That's why spiritual awareness is so useful because when we can connect with a more deep, more real, more authentic, more true part of ourselves,

then we're not whipped around quite so much by what's going on on the outside. We've gained a tether, we've gained an anchor point. We've gained an idea that we really know who we are,

and if that idea is based on these deep fundamental truths, we realize pretty quickly that no external circumstance can actually change that.

If our concept of ourselves, if our processing of our experience is through a mostly superficial external lens, then of course that identity at times can be under attack.

Can be threatened from a myriad of different forces. That's why a lot of us work so hard to maintain this external identity, because it seems like there's a hundred different ways that this could be taken away from us.

That there's these opportunities all over the place for the rug to get pulled out from underneath us at any minute. We have to be vigilant. We have to be proactive.

We have to anticipate all the potential threats and harms to the sense of ourself so that we can maintain it, so that we can maintain wholeness.

But when we find something deeper within ourselves, we find something more real, then this external reality that we've been clinging to, well, that in and of itself makes us less vulnerable, less susceptible to these external harms.

But obviously this doesn't happen overnight. It's more than an idea. It's a knowing and it's a knowing that is achieved through experience.

We have to actually experience ourselves as something more, something deeper, something real, to know it, to integrate any of these sorts of truths, we have to experience them first.

We have to really live that way to eventually be that way. But even when we've done this work, even when we've been really introspective,

when we've really built our self-awareness to the point of we really know in our bones that we're more than just this body, we know we're more than just this job title, we know we're more than possessions and these achievements and this social status,

we still have crummy days from time to time. We still have bad moods. We're still human beings after all. We still have access to the whole range of emotions and experiences.

Gaining deep awareness doesn't insulate us from the human experience. It's an extremely valuable and useful orienting tool and shock absorber to the human experience,

but all of life is still there. We don't inoculate ourselves against bad days or bad experiences, against pain. We still experience everything everyone else does,

but we do it in a slightly different way, sometimes in a profoundly different way. We do it by shifting the perspectives and the beliefs that those experiences are processed through,

we experience a different type of life because we experience it as a different type of human. So knowing there's no panacea, no get out of pain free card,

how do we go through it anyway? How do we continue walking our path when things are just kind of awful right now?

Well, we do it with the attitudes and perspectives that we pick up along the way. We do it through being open and willing to still live. We do it by not closing ourselves down and saying,

this shouldn't be happening to me or, I shouldn't have to go through this anymore. There there are no real shoulds. Life is what's happening, and if what's happening is currently awful, well, on some level that's what's happening.

We can disassociate it through our belief that this shouldn't be happening to us. We can build up a self righteousness. We can build up a concept of ourselves that we're better than such and such,

but it's still happening. So I think there's a flaw in that logic right there. If we're really better than this, then why is it still happening? Well, because that's a faulty idea. That's an invalid concept.

No one is inoculated, no one is excluded from anything, but that's the whole point. Life is meant to be lived, in its entire spectrum, from what we would call good to bad.

So working through these difficult times, how do we find balance between not suffering unnecessarily, finding a bit of relief, but also finding real solutions over the long term?

How do we not get ourselves stuck in either the spiritual bypass of self soothing and explaining away what's currently happening, but at the same time, maintain balance with our own awareness?

Really be able to listen to and feel what's happening? Really be able to extract the message for us that it's carrying?

Well again, that's life. That's why we have to live it. That's why we can't plan it in advance. We have to really accept and befriend as much as we can, what's actually happening, learn what we can, and then make the best choices from there.

We really have to sometimes just endure the awful experiences. We have to keep ourselves open, we have to actually still feel them, still experience them,

while at the same time knowing that no matter what happens to us, we're still the same being. That we can persevere. This is a time for faith.

This is a time for knowing that our awareness is such, if we really work to develop it, if we're really not disassociating, if we're not really just bypassing and undermining the message that life is trying to give us,

if we know that and we can trust that, then we can also know that we'll not only survive this, but we will find relief from it, eventually over the long term.

Whatever this problem is, we will solve it, and that solution can come in all sorts of different packages. Sometimes we just get to a point where that thing just doesn't bother us anymore. We don't really care.

And often when that happens, it just kind of fritters away on its own. That it was our resistance against the circumstance that was actually holding it to us.

It was our focus on it, it was our tight grip around it that was keeping us bound to it.

Other times by abiding through situations and doing the best we can to just keep putting one foot in front of another, staying open,

that a solution does eventually present itself. In those cases, maybe there's just something we had to learn. Maybe there's something we hadn't experienced yet,

or again, maybe it was an issue of us just holding on a little too tight. Maybe it was an issue of us ignoring something that, in hindsight actually turns out to be pretty obvious.

Maybe the change we're waiting for is in ourselves, is for us to do something different. And it's not until the pain and suffering gets great enough that we actually do.

It's not until the point where we finally had enough that we actually do something different, and that's precisely the change life was beckoning us towards. For whatever reason, we were too stubborn or ignorant to hear it.

But again, there's no one size fits all answer. We really do have to go through these experiences, learn everything we can, and then apply that to the best of our ability.

No one can tell us our truth. No one can tell us our path. We have to discover it ourselves. We have to learn to trust ourselves. We have to learn to trust life.

We have to learn to drop a lot of our quarrels and resistance against what's happening, and at the same time continue to persevere working towards change.

It's a balance. It's a balance of being able to endure situations when we need to, and make change when the time for changes come.

And the more awareness we bring to our lives, the more gentle nurturing we bring to ourselves, the easier that path is to walk.

It's a combination of qualities. It's both letting go and moving forward.

It's not completely passive, it's not completely active. It's the balance of the two. It's the interplay between acceptance and effort to create change.

It's not one or the other, it's both. We find our way through our lives along the way. We find the best path for us by trying all sorts of different routes and trusting that when we found our own, we'll know.

It's using times of suffering, times of confusion, times of needing change as opportunities to learn something, to learn something more about ourselves,

to learn something more about life, to perhaps have some old behaviors that we had been leaning on, fail us so that we can find new ones.

Everything that's happening to us is leading us somewhere. So the question is, are we willingly going? The question is, are we listening to the way-finding messages that we're getting along the way?

Can we find the strength to have the faith, to have the knowing that we can persevere, and at the same time, have the humility and openness to get the message that some sort of change is required and then integrate it?

This is complicated. It's complicated and hard to hold multiple ideas at the same time. To be both rigid and flexible, to be both open and hurting, it's really hard. But that's also why life is meant to be lived one step at a time.

The further out we go with our plans and strategies, the more likely they are to fail us. The more likely they are to prevent us from paying attention,

and really learning what life is trying to teach us, really missing the opportunity to expand within ourselves.

And so we go through life one step at a time, one day at a time, and just keep going. Keep doing the best we can. Keep learning as much as we can.

Keep acknowledging truth wherever we find it. And we do this enough, we do this persistently. We not only find our way through life, but we find our way to the life that is best for us.