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Imperfect Storm

by Kevin B. Burk, author of The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.

It always amazes me how our experience of reality is so utterly personal. We like to believe that we’re a global society; that we are connected on a personal level to world events, but the truth is that our experience of reality rarely leaves our personal microclimates.

For example, I currently live in San Diego, California (motto: “Weather is something that happens to people with affordable housing.”). As I write this article, it is approximately 97 degrees and sunny (in my living room—it’s slightly cooler outside). This is typical weather for Southern California.

My parents live in New Orleans, where I grew up, and are currently living in a hotel in Shreveport (Northern Louisiana), having evacuated the city two days ago to beat the rush.

In the past few months, my parents have called to tell me they were heading for higher ground at least four or five times. I personally can’t understand why, because while they’re being deluged with the latest tropical storm to buzz by the Gulf of Mexico, I’m living in a city where rain is an annual event at best. Even though I grew up in New Orleans, and miss the rain, the weather they’re experiencing isn’t part of my personal reality now.

As I write this article, Hurricane Katrina is breaking all recent records, with winds up to 170 miles per hour, and is expected to hit New Orleans in about 12 hours. Even filtering out the sensationalism of the news reports, New Orleans isn’t expected to survive the storm if it continues on its current path. The entire city could be under 20 feet of water by the end of the day tomorrow.

Needless to say, there’s mass panic from the threat of the storm. In fact, the threat of the storm is being felt as far east as Miami. (My sister lives in Miami, and if New Orleans is flooded, my parents are threatening to move in with her.)

I simply can’t grasp the ramifications of this. New Orleans is home to over 1.3 million people, and in the space of a few hours, 1.3 million people may lose everything. This could be one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the United States.

It’s got me thinking about how I would feel and what I would do if I were living in New Orleans. I look around my apartment and frankly, I’ve got a lot of stuff. I have books and CDs and photographs and artwork that I cherish.

I think about what would happen if my apartment were flooded out and everything was destroyed, and the balance in my Safety Account drops almost immediately.

Evidently, I’ve got some attachments to my stuff—and I think it’s safe to assume that I’m not alone.

Take a moment and think about what would happen if you were forced to evacuate your home because of a natural disaster. Think about all of the things that you would have to leave behind—all of the things that would be destroyed.

Now, take a moment and notice how you feel.

If you feel at all tense, then you’ve just discovered how attached you are to your possessions.

Now, attachments are normal. We all have attachments to various things. What matters is what we choose to do once we’ve become aware of an attachment. Every single attachment makes us feel less safe, makes us feel less free, makes us feel less powerful, and makes us feel less connected to the Source.

We always have a choice. We can either choose to keep our attachments, or we can choose to release them. Of course, if we choose to release our attachments, we’re also choosing greater freedom, connection, power and safety.

The challenge is that it seems like the opposite is the case. Our egos create attachments because our egos believe that our attachments will make us feel more safe, not less. As usual, when the ego tries to protect us, it only makes the situation worse. Protecting us is not part of the ego’s job description.

In order to choose to release our attachments, we first have to bring the balance in our Safety Accounts back up to the minimum required level. We do this by using the “Present Moment Awareness Safety Exercise,” that you can find on page 48 of The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life. You can also listen to this exercise online at http://www.EveryRelationship.com/PMA/.

Becoming aware of the present moment reconnects us to the truth of who we are. It can instantly reduce stress and anxiety. Most importantly, it reconnects us with our true power and allows us to consider our situation objectively.

The truth is that we live in an infinitely abundant universe, and all of our needs are automatically, easily and effortlessly met. All we have to do is be open to receive.

Most of our possessions can be replaced—and most people who have survived fires or floods and gone on to rebuild their lives experience the freedom of not being burdened by years and years of accumulated things. Many people set about immediately buying new things to replace the old, of course, and within a matter of months have restored the familiar clutter of their lives. But many others learn to relish the freedom and live their lives more sparsely with fewer possessions—and more importantly, with fewer attachments.

What most people worry about are the things that can’t be replaced: photographs, scrapbooks, and personal memorabilia. And while there’s nothing wrong with cherishing old photos and videotapes of our families, we can easily become attached to these as well, and in more subtle and insidious ways.

Old photographs and souvenirs can keep us trapped in the past. It’s always nice to be able to look back over our lives and our family’s lives and reminisce, but we must be vigilant about it.

I often see vacationing families in San Diego videotaping their entire trip so they’ll have it to remember. And often it seems to me that they’re so focused on the video that they’re not actually enjoying the vacation itself. When we become attached to preserving a memory, we often cheat ourselves of the actual experience. And the irony is that if we experience something fully, our memories will be richer and more detailed than any video or photo—not to mention that they’ll last longer.

After taking a few moments to do the Present Moment Awareness Safety exercise myself, I took an inventory of my apartment, and explored my attachments. If I were forced to evacuate, there are only a few things that I would absolutely take with me. I’m completely attached to my computer (or at least to the data on my computer) and so I would absolutely back that up onto my eternal hard drive, and grab my laptop as well.

I’ve got some important papers that I’d probably want to take with me, and a few small items of personal value. Other than these things, some clothes, and my cats, I could survive without everything else.

Are there things I would miss? Of course. I have a ridiculous number of books, many of which are very collectible, or at least very out of print. I have some artwork, including one of my mother’s pastels, that is irreplaceable. I have records that I’ve collected for 20 years, and comic books that I’ve collected for 30 years, not to mention old photographs and memories that I enjoy browsing through every few years.

I’m not saying that if I lost everything in a fire or an earthquake it would be pleasant. However, I know that I would survive. And, having released some of my attachments, I feel more safe.

I know my parents (and over a million others) are currently struggling with their attachments, facing the very real possibility that everything they own will be destroyed or damaged. My thoughts and prayers go out to them tonight. I hold the truth that everything that we truly need is always provided for us; that often, our possessions simply get in the way of our ability to experience all of the joy, abundance, safety and love that is available to us.

I invite you to know this truth with me, and to hold this truth for all of those whose lives will be impacted by this seemingly imperfect storm.

I know that there is a powerful gift in this experience. I know that in the wake of the damage and devastation is a tremendous opportunity for freedom. I know that this act of God provides everyone with the opportunity to see his or her life in a different light. I know that more than loss, that the people of New Orleans experience support, community, cooperation and acceptance as a result of Hurricane Katrina. I know that even as they receive temporary shelter and food from the relief workers, that they celebrate the fact that this support is absolute proof that the Universe automatically provides them with everything they need.

I know that this experience opens the hearts of everyone involved, and that as they begin to rebuild their lives, they do so with a greater appreciation for their abundance, and a greater love of mankind. I know that this experience, like the 2004 Tsunami, serves a higher purpose—that it creates a global feeling of compassion, and incrementally raises the collective vibration of the planet. I see and accept the absolute perfection of this storm, and know that those directly effected by it also recognize its perfection.

I invite you to hold this truth with me, and share this article and this prayer with others. Our thoughts are creative, and our prayers do make a difference.

And as you hold this truth for others, remember that it is also true for you. In order to experience perfect freedom and enlightenment, you have to be willing to give up everything—but you don’t have to actually give up anything—except your attachments. Embrace the perfection of the present moment and experience the joy of knowing that you are completely supported by an infinite and loving Universe.

 


Kevin B. Burk is the author of The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life. Visit http://www.EveryRelationship.com for a FREE Report on creating Amazing Relationships.

©2006 Kevin B. Burk, all rights reserved. If you would like to reprint this article in your publication, web page, or eZine (which you may do for free!), click here for details.

 

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