Tag Archives: awareness

Best day of your life?

What’s the best day of your life?
Is it a birthday? A wedding? First love? Special vacation?

Often, we associate the best day of our lives with some seemingly special occasion that appears to stand out from all the others. But actually, there is only one correct answer: Today. The best day of my life is today. The best moment of my life is right now. Because right now is all that exists. Right now is all we have. Today… this very moment, as you read these words, is all you have.

Anything else, birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, celebrations, dances… special events… all of those are nothing more than memories. Memories are habitual thought patterns creating the illusion of a solid story and an actual identity. But remove those thought patterns and the past disappears. The future disappears. They are revealed to be what they truly are: empty concepts. Mentations.

The best practice you can ever have is to recognize and embrace truth. The truth is, the only day of your life is today. The only contact you make with reality is in the present moment– like a needle making contact with an album on a record player.

Therefore the best day of your life could only be one possible day: today. Embrace it.

Want more? www.timbirchard.com

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Infinite Source of Love

Do you find yourself entering into intimate relationships looking for a surrogate mother or father? Do you feel as though your partner plays the role of your child, while you play the role of parent? Do you feel resentment toward your partner for holding power over you, or for not carrying her/his share of the weight and responsibility?

Do these questions make you feel uncomfortable?

Relationships are ideal ways to learn and grow, for your partner acts as a powerful mirror, reflecting a magnified image of your internal world. Struggling with a partner is simply a reflection of struggling within one’s own self… the struggles of the ego. Struggles for power, love, respect.

The mistaken perception at work here is that power, love, and respect are somehow ‘out there’ and must be obtained, captured, and chained up in order to keep them around. The truth is that all the power, love, and respect you could ever want already reside within your heart. All you need do is inquire within.

When you are completely comfortable being alone with yourself, you will find you no longer want anything from others. When you tap into the infinite source of love, located in the heart, you will discover that you no longer experience the urge to throw yourself into the middle of chaos… flashing lights, loud noises, etc. The “fun” you once craved will seem to satisfy less and less.

Go within. For true love, seek intimacy with your own heart. That is the Infinite Source of Love that you’ve been overlooking all along. You’ll find there is no need to look further. You’ve been carrying it around with you the whole time.

For more information, visit www.timbirchard.com.

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New book is released!

I’m so delighted to announce that my new book is now published!

You can buy it here.

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I’m grateful for all of the support and love I’ve received and continue to receive.

Thank you!

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Foolish Cousin Ego (Chapter One of the forthcoming book There Is No ‘Other’: Ego vs Heart)

CHAPTER ONE (For more info, visit www.timbirchard.com)

Foolish cousin ego

Come back here and have a seat next to me. Sit here with me in the sunshine, here in the back yard. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Here, have some water. Have some sunshine. Have some lemonade. Have some delicious food. Have some company. Have some quiet time. Rest. Relax. You’ve been working so hard to find yourself… to take care of things in the way a man of goodness would, and does. You’ve been striving to do and be the right thing for so long… Sit and rest. Set down those heavy bags. No need to worry: I’ll have someone carry them to your room for you. Filled with anxieties and worries and concerns and deadlines and storylines and masks and passwords and keys and backup hard drives and floor mats and extra boots and windbreakers and an emergency sleeping bag and some backup cash for just in case.

You certainly are prepared. Or you seem to believe you are, anyway. Little cousin ego must be whispering in your ear again. Have you been believing his lies? He knows no other way, so we can’t really blame him, can we? But as good as his intentions might be, he is misguided, and has misguided you, time and again. He tells you that you had better be prepared; you had better be warned and cautious and on your guard. No place for vulnerability and openness here– in order to survive, you have absolutely got to grit your teeth and clench your shoulders as you walk, to make yourself look larger and more threatening to others, who would take advantage of you for walking down the sidewalk in a big, scary town like this. Haven’t you heard the latest news? Haven’t you memorized the latest crime statistics? Don’t you know your very life is in danger?

Yes… foolish cousin ego. He believes his own press, and that’s how he can be so utterly charming and convincing. But you’ve noticed, no doubt, that he can spin on a dime to turn against you, shaming and blaming you for all kinds of things, and then getting you to believe that he’s doing it all for your own good. Can you believe that? Would you ever put up with such attitude from anyone on the street? In the classroom? At the grocery store? Just imagine if your checkout clerk at the grocery store was checking out your items and started chastising you for what you were purchasing… what you were wearing, or for humming the tune on your lips. Would you ever tolerate such abuse, such lies, such incredible inhospitality? Of course not. You would talk to the manager, remove yourself from the unhealthy relationship as soon as possible.

So why is it that when this back alley bum starts whispering in your ear with its nasty breath, you immediately invite him to come sit in your lap? When he starts pulling your hair and scratching your face and slapping and pinching you, insults flying, curses spilling all over your favorite shirt, all you can do is thank him for his kindness? When he wipes snot and saliva all over your sleeve, and sneezes in your face, all you can do is congratulate him for being such a good ally?

No. This is not how it was meant to be. The next time your ‘kind uncle’ sidles up to you, blowing smoke in your face, with food stuck in his teeth and vomit on his breath… the next time he leans in to give you a big kiss on the lips, turn away. Refuse his advances. Don’t listen to him. He does not deserve your attention, let alone your acceptance. His game is to pretend that what he thinks is what you think; he whispers something in your ear, and if you repeat it out loud, he congratulates you for having such wonderful ideas. He tells you that you are a smart guy; a man of the world who can tell the difference between fools and heroes.

But trust me when I tell you, he does not have your best interest at heart. In fact, he has you serving him, when it should be the other way around. Long ago he applied for the job of butler, just to help out around the house and get things done. And you were ready for a little help; some guidance would be great, you thought. Better than having to try to make sense of this confusing world all alone. And so you hired him. At minimum wage. And he started out by taking out the trash… vacuuming the carpets… mowing the lawn. He did a pretty good job at first. But then he started playing the ‘expert’ card, acting as if he were still being helpful, but influencing you little by little to move in his direction– to take down some of those paintings you like so much and put up some of his favorite posters.

Over time, you ended up listening to his ‘counsel’ more and more. Soon he had you repainting the walls to his liking, while he sipped on a piña colada in your favorite armchair. At every turn he alternated between congratulating you for your wisdom, your hipness, and your cleverness, and berating you for being such a clumsy asshole. He laughed at you when you talked about bringing out those brushes and canvases again, reminding you that there was no WAY you were quite good enough yet to do anything like that. “Maybe wait just a little bit longer, then you’ll be ready,” he said with a confident smile on his lips.

And you believed him. You had a choice about it the whole time, from the very start, all those years ago, and you’ve been choosing to believe him, day in and day out. Eventually he climbed out of your favorite armchair and actually up onto your back, “just for a quick little piggyback ride,” he whispered. And you agreed. “Sure, come on up… it’ll be fine,” you told yourself. And he did.

Soon you were hobbling around the living room with this ogre on your back, pointing and shouting directions so loudly into your ear that you started to believe that his voice was your own voice. That his thoughts, ideas, and intentions were your own. That his malice was yours; that his layers of protective defense mechanisms were yours… that his selfish need for more love, more sex, more everything was your own. You took it all in stride. And you paid the consequences.

You forgot that the heaviness you felt every day, every night, every waking moment was this smelly, unbathed jerk riding around on your back. You told yourself (or was it him?) that you simply had to be strong, carry on… that it would all get better soon. And so, at his slightest suggestion, you threw open the windows and invited the clamor of the world into your living room. You ran outside and grabbed the lawn furniture from the patio and threw them through your beautiful plate glass windows. You gathered trash from the gutter and then scattered it around your kitchen. You invited rats and leeches and wild monkeys into your home, and when they threw feces at you, you told yourself that it was all just part of life.

You taped up black trash bags over the windows to block out all the light, and then you set fire to the curtains. The flames licked the ceiling, leaving charred black designs on the walls, ashes on the floor, and a stench in the air. You ate stale cigarettes for breakfast, and sobbed into your pillow at night about how unfair the world was. You poured gasoline on the lawn and set it on fire, then rode your bicycle through the inferno, weeping at the ‘cruelty of the world’.

You smashed your favorite guitar against the windshield of your car, until strings broke and the headstock cracked and tuning machines were hanging off and strange angles. Then you turned on your tape recorder and sang out-of-tune songs about heartbreak and weariness. You pounded nails into your car’s tires, then drove it around the block until hot black smoke poured from the wheels… You drove it up over the curb, through the front yard and crashed through the wall of your house and into the living room, smacking your head against the inside of your windshield, leaving a spiderweb crack in the glass and on your forehead.

You poured rat poison into the well of your home, then took a long, hot bath and cried because you felt so bad.

You wrapped your favorite baseball bat in rusty barbed wire and then chased the cat around the house. You made prank phone calls to your loved ones and cursed at them through the telephone, foaming at the mouth and throwing raisins at the tv set. You tied a blindfold around your head and then ran at the wall with a pair of scissors in your hand. You juggled open boxcutters. You stuck pennies in the light socket. You soiled yourself and then rolled around on the floor, laughing like a crazed man.

All the while, he was riding on your back, whispering all of these ideas into your ear. “This is what will set you free,” he promised with a smirk. You thought the smirk was your own– that somehow you were going to get ahead in life; that you would somehow get the best of this world. That the world, and everyone in it, would finally recognize your true genius and pay you what it owed you. And it owed you a lot.

For years this has gone on. Decades. And on a regular basis, you would throw your hands into the air, look up at the sky and cry, “Why me?! What did I ever do to deserve this?!”

But you missed something. In those moments of desperation, as you were crying your truth to the sky and the stars above, you didn’t happen to notice that the creep riding on your back was mouthing those very words along with you. Even those very words were not your own; they were his. You got so used to hearing his voice in your ear that you took it on as your own. You forgot the sound of your own voice.

Somewhere along the way, you noticed something magical; something long-forgotten that tickled a special place in your heart’s memory… just as the sun was about to set, or about to rise… just as storm clouds were about to roll in… just as you were about to brush your teeth, you recognized that something wonderful was just out of reach. Instead of the usual anger, sadness, fear, and despair at the awful state of things, this tiny, strangely familiar feeling of hopeful joy rose like a bubble from the bottom of the ocean and welled up in your heart. Your eyes opened wide, and you started in surprise at this feeling, which had a very different flavor than all the rest: it tasted like gratitude.

The guy on your back was quick to take the credit. “Oh, you felt that? Yeah, that was me. It’s a good thing you’ve been listening to me… following my recommendations… otherwise you probably NEVER would have felt that. Want some more? Let’s go raise some hell!”

And with that you would once again turn away from the silence that had brought the glimmer of peaceful, hopeful joy… your birthright. You went right back to the mayhem of the day. And the joy would dissipate back into feelings of despair. As hard as you tried to ‘grab and hold on’ to those special, magical feelings of belonging, of oneness with the world and everyone in it, they would only take the stage fleetingly, from behind the curtain, and would disappear just as quickly as they’d come.

One day you sat down, tired. Enough is enough, you thought. Something is not right. Something is not working. This cannot be what life is truly about… running around like a chicken with its head cut off, searching and dissecting and collecting and disposing and running into walls, bruising body and heart all the time.

“What if I take a look in the mirror?” That was the thought you had, and when you did, the guy on your back was startled. And angered. If you were to do that, especially for very long, you might notice him hanging on your back. And then there would be trouble.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said a little too quickly, trying to cover it up with an easy, dismissive laugh. “That’s just a waste of time anyway… your time is worth more than that. Let’s go blow some shit up instead.”

But this time, something about looking in the mirror, as uncomfortable as it might be, really sounded intriguing. “It can’t be any worse than what my life has been like already,” you figure. And you walk into the bathroom. You take a quick peek in the mirror above the sink, where you brush your teeth every day. But until now, you’ve only stared vacantly into the mirror, not really expecting to see anything different than your own chin, your own stubble, and the foamy toothpaste you spit into the sink. This time there’s no toothbrush. There’s no auto-pilot. You’re looking in the mirror to see if you can see anything different.

And you do.

You spot something peeking up from behind your left shoulder. What in the world…? A little tuft of hair poking up, and one eyebrow, trying to remain undetected. You turn around and try to look back over your own shoulder to see yourself better, but something is blocking the way. And an insistent voice is saying, with increasing intensity, “This is a big waste of time! C’mon, let’s go DO something!”

But on this day, you hesitate. You head slowly but persistently toward the bedroom, with its full-length mirror. Even though you feel the need to pour some more gasoline in the front lawn and shoot flaming arrows into it, you pause for just a few more moments. You turn to one side.

And there, right before your eyes, is a 240 pound beast hanging on your back with its arms around your neck, just barely cutting off your airflow. You see it there, with your own eyes. And it keeps looking away, determined not to meet your gaze, for it knows precisely what will happen if it does. It is shouting something– ‘waste of time! waste of time!’ and keeps trying to dodge and duck, working to spin you back around so you can’t see it.

All of its wriggling around causes you to lose your balance, and you fall awkwardly to the floor, gasping for breath and hoping like hell you’ll survive whatever this is that is happening. You wrangle with the beast, and it still has its arms around your throat. You manage to spin around under its weight so that you’re facing the mirror from the other side, and you catch sight of it again, in all its twisted glory.

“I see you!” you shout. It looks up in terror. And in that moment, you lock eyes with it in the mirror. It starts to scream and grabs a beer bottle and slams it against the mirror, which shatters and collapses upon itself. But you’ve already seen. You reach back and grab hold of hairy flesh and wrench yourself around and up into a seated position.

Face to face, you peer directly into the eyes of your tormentor. The kidnapper who brainwashed you into believing that he was your savior. The abuser who lied about caring deeply for you. The monster who enslaved you. The beast that locked you in a cage.

And suddenly, you can breathe again like never before. You take the deepest breath you’ve taken in decades, and you see its eyes grow as wide as saucers. You begin to smile, and as it takes one last gasp and tries to unleash its final battle cry, it disintegrates before your very eyes. No blood. No vomit. No urine. No stench. It vanishes completely, leaving no trace… no evidence of ever having existed. Except for the broken mirror, the monkey feces all over the walls, the charred front yard, the jagged shards of glass and rusty barbed wire littering the living room floor.

He’s not around to help you clean up. But he’s also not around to wreak havoc anymore. So you begin the task at hand. Slowly, you move room to room, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping up the mess… repainting, replacing windows, tearing down the black plastic, pumping out the poison water and upgrading the well.

And you realize that he was your choice. All along. You made an agreement. You made sacrifices, and you also received some sort of payoff, some reward for your part in the deal. Maybe it was fame. Sex. Glamour. Money. Reputation.

Or maybe it was poverty. Hunger. Sadness. Victimhood status. With rewards like these, there would never be a need to chase your dreams and face your fears, right? You could defer the act of stepping more fully into your power as a leader, an artist, a hero, a poet, a parent, a friend, a lover… and as your fully-realized true self. Maybe even circumvent that discomfort forever. It seemed like a pretty good payoff at the time.

But now you see a deeper truth. Now you sit in the eye of the storm, resting calmly. When it’s time to work, you work, but with peace in your heart. When it’s time to relax, you relax with peace in your heart. As the wind blows the curtains, as the storm outside blows trash down the street, as the wails of the police sirens cry out in the night, as fear and panic and worry and uncertainty work each other over in the alley behind your house to the sound of chains, broken bottles, switchblades and gunfire, through all of it you sit quietly and watch.

The inner calm of your divine living room is a sanctuary for your heart.

For more info visit www.timbirchard.com.

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Regarding today’s outdoor gig: An open letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

Thank you for today’s gig. Playing my bass and singing at an outdoor venue with my dear friends today offered lots of opportunities for growth for me. Here are some of your lessons that I recognize, just off the top of my head (I know this list is not exhaustive, by any means):

1) There will be windy days. Sometimes, when I’m stepping out and doing something new, something I believe in, something that requires working together as part of a team, it may be windy. The wind may start blowing wildly, out of nowhere. At it may blow so hard that I have to close my eyes and just hold on and do my best in the moment. I don’t get to be in charge of the wind. I’m only in charge of my response to the wind. Conditions are such: windy.

Photo by Jeremy Booth.

2) Sometimes I may not be able to hear myself. No monitor speakers means that I may not get immediate feedback about what I’m playing. What I’m singing. It may be difficult for me to tell just exactly what message is being perceived, regardless of what I feel like I’m sending. I may just have to focus on my heart and set my intention to be a channel for love; an amplifier for love.
3) Sometimes I may not be able to hear my band mates. No monitor speakers plus high winds may mean that I can’t always hear what my family, friends, and loved ones are saying, or playing. I may need to pause before responding to what I think I hear. I may need to give it just a moment and remain receptive to further incoming information. Drawing my attention down from my head and into my heart can help to reestablish my heart connection with them. My heart can hear better than my ears.

Photo by Jeremy Booth.

4) Sometimes I may not be able to tell what the audience is hearing. While I may desire complete control over the overall levels and mix of the music, the overall wind speed and direction; the overall temperature; the overall rate of the flow of time, actually there’s only a certain amount that I’m in charge of. I can work to establish and maintain open lines of communication with those who can offer feedback; I can ask questions. “Welcome, folks! Say, I need your help. Please tell me, can you hear us okay?” I can ask questions, welcome feedback, and make adjustments accordingly. Beyond that, I can turn the volume up on my heart.
5) Sometimes I may not be able to tell what the audience is feeling. They may be physically distant in such a way that I can’t see their faces or read their body language. I may need to return my focus back to my heart, again and again. “Was that a smile, or a grimace?”, I may wonder. In this instance, once again, loving detachment is my best course of action. While I may wish to affect people by causing them to smile, laugh, and feel happy, I need to be careful not to use these responses to gauge my success. The wind may be blowing for them, too. They may be thinking about other things. Or they may be experiencing a sense of inner peace and calm. They may feel happy; they may feel sad. They may feel indifferent. My best plan of action: return my focus to my heart. Play my bass. Step up to the microphone. Open up my heart and let the love flow through.

The whirlpools of Naruto.

And as I’m loading out and walking to my car, it’s entirely possible that I may hear someone call my name. I may look to see someone smiling and saying ‘thank you’. It may be someone I don’t recognize. Perhaps even someone I’ve never met. In this moment, I’m reminded that I often do not know the impact of my actions. By centering my attention in my heart and opening my channels as wide as I can, I increase the chances of vibrating as a broadcast antenna for love. In the face of many apparent roadblocks and hurdles, I make the active choice to pluck these bass strings with love in my heart, and a small pebble hits the surface of the atmosphere. The ripples spread outward. I refuse to become discouraged. Someone says ‘thank you’.
Today, in the face of these perceived challenges, I am blessed once again.
Thanks for the lessons, Universe.
Love, Tim

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Abundance Consciousness and the Art of Taking Full Responsibility

When we talk about ‘abundance consciousness’, what exactly do we mean?

Do we mean an attitude of, “Everything’s fine!”, no matter what is hitting the fan at a particular moment? Burying our heads in the sand in order to avoid discomfort? Magical, wishful thinking?

No.

Abundance consciousness simply means a focus on gratitude; acknowledgment of all the blessings that are, in fact, showering down upon us. Right now. As we speak. And it goes hand-in-hand with the art of taking full responsibility for our lives right now. In this very moment.

For example… I once worked for a food bank in the southern U.S. My job was to inspect 360 food pantries in 21 counties, ensuring that certain quality standards were met. One month I was inspecting a particular food pantry. The next month, now unemployed, I found myself visiting the very same food pantry. But this time, instead of carrying a clip board, I was empty-handed, and asking for food.

In that moment, I remember feeling a wide variety of emotions, most of them fear-based. Yet I realized that I had the choice to either focus on what I did NOT have, or to focus on what I DID have. I chose the latter, focusing on gratitude, and it moved me in the direction of happiness and the recognition of the abundance that was already present in my life. I shifted my focus to my arms and legs, which were still serving me quite well. I focused on my hearing, my eyesight, and other aspects of my physical health. I thought about how nice it was to have a car. To have a roof over my head. To have the privilege of having my own apartment. Of living near supermarkets. And food pantries. Of receiving this generous offering of food from this particular food pantry on this day. I shifted my focus to my good fortune of learning just a little more humility… of knocking just a few more rough edges off my jagged little ego.

And I remembered that I had choice. I had the choice of getting fired up, updating my resume and getting it out into the world. Knocking on doors. Getting up early. Hitting the pavement. Researching. Making phone calls. Following up. Smiling. Being friendly. Cheerful. Polishing my strengths and sharing them. Working on my weaknesses to improve them.

Focusing on gratitude helped me to keep my chin up during this time, and helped motivate me to move forward. Yes, there were times of intense pressure that required keen focus and sustained action. Times when the adrenaline was flowing and my nerves were rattling. But my focus on abundance consciousness helped me to remember that I had many talents, abilities, and gifts at my disposal; that it WAS worth trying, risking, and continuing to get back on that horse, no matter how many times I felt I’d been thrown.

I’m not so sure I would have taken the same path, made the same choices, and maintained the same positive outlook had I focused on deprivation and all that was going ‘wrong’ in my life.

I chose abundance consciousness, but I did not choose to try to shut out discomfort. (Okay, maybe once or twice.) It IS possible for us to choose gratitude while simultaneously choosing to fully experience all of our emotions, including discomfort. This discomfort can propel us forward, motivating us to persist in our efforts toward healthy, positive change. While discomfort is, by definition, uncomfortable, it certainly isn’t in-and-of-itself ‘bad’. It’s a signal. A street sign. A tool. It’s information. And if I let myself sit in its presence long enough, I can come to the understanding that it’s my teacher. My cheerleader. Maybe even one of my best friends.

Abundance consciousness does not say, “everything’s fine; no need to change.” Abundance consciousness says, “Wow… look at all the tools I have! Let’s get busy!”

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Focusing on contentment

Just spoke with someone I know who just turned 21. The day before his birthday, he was called into his lawyer’s office and presented a check for $9,000, as part of a settlement for an accident he suffered last year.

I asked if he’s saving it. He said it’s already gone.

Week-long road trip. Hotel suites. Parties. And now, a week later, he’s right back where he started: unemployed and broke.

It got me to thinking about my own financial practices and my beliefs about money. How often have I wanted my oompah-loompah and wanted it NOW, and followed that emotional pull all the way into debt? Far too often, in my past.

How about now? I have to confess that like the young man I spoke with, I still, at times, catch myself disregarding the blessings in my life and focusing on what’s lacking; on those items that I could purchase that I believe would make things perfect… “If only I had this particular __________, THEN I could be happy.”

What a beautiful reminder to come back to the present moment. To now. To grace. To contentment with what I have, and with what I don’t have. To gratitude for having enjoyed so many blessings with so many wonderful people. I’ve already had a really good run.

Where I point my eyes, so follows my mind. Where I point my mind, so follows my life.

http://merman13.livejournal.com/115973.html Edric Hsu's calligraphy: "Happiness is to be contented with what you have."

Focusing on gratitude. Getting out of debt. Saying “no” to the inner child who throws a tantrum from time to time. Enjoying the feeling of self discipline; finding beauty in that little cringe of disappointment. Enjoying the challenge of creating something new and beautiful with only the tools at hand. Like that famous jazz ethic… “everything I need is already in the room.”

If you’d handed me $9,000 when I was 21 years old and asked me what I’d do with it, I’m pretty sure I’d have made the same choice he made. “I’m gonna live it up!”

Here’s to setting the intention that I’d save or invest, given that option today. And here’s to saving and investing right now, today, with the resources I have at hand.

So I can live it up.

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