“Aliveness” is real enjoyment in doing what you do--the excitement and exhilaration that makes you feel glad to be alive--the joy, stimulation and pleasure that makes life worth living.
To build my case for aliveness and challenge, I need to explain that you are energy and energy functions as a yin/yang balance, resulting in tension between opposites. Yin is negative and yang is positive. We all contain dual aspects: love/hate, harmony/chaos, good/evil.
And we must express our yin/yang duality because this tension is necessary for structure to exist. Human beings are energy structures. Without tension you don’t exist. Thus there is yin balance in your life (common examples of yin expression: self-denial, arguing and fighting, carrying grudges, excessive hard work, gambling, dangerous activities, drugs, drinking, having affairs, and illness.)
But negative (yin) tension can be replaced with positive challenge. And nothing generates aliveness like challenge. Positive challenge usually amounts to wise risking. So the idea is to live life more positively (thus spiritually) by living a little more dangerously.
Let’s take this another step: challenge generates intensity. To know the ultimate ecstasy--the ultimate aliveness, do what you do to the optimum, with focused intensity. Don’t hold back. Don’t remain in the safety zone. Allow yourself to be totally absorbed by what you’re doing. In-tensity is a flaming focus of desire. The opposite would be ex-tensity, meaning you are scattered--fragmented with dozens of desires. Once you’re focusing upon challenge in your life, you’ll probably begin living from one peak of achievement to another peak. The higher you rise, the higher the peaks available to you.
The Zen idea is to disappear into an activity. If you dance, dance with such intensity the dancer disappears--a transformation takes place and only the dance remains. You and the act become one. When I am writing, I seek to merge into the words, allowing time to disappear and attain a state where the writing and I become one.
Back to yin/yang balance. As a natural expression of the law of opposite, that which is totally successful tends to destroy itself. As an example, history shows that a country at it’s peak, if no longer opposed, will fragment and collapse shortly thereafter. All too often, marriages fail when the union no longer offers challenges. The honest successful man may become corrupt. Even spiritual seekers who believe they have all the answers, will often fall off the spiritual wagon, so to speak, so they have the challenge of regaining their faith.
So I suggest that you ask yourself some valuable questions. 1. Career: Do you experience aliveness in your career? Is there any real challenge in your career? Are you growing in your career? 2. Relationship: Do you experience aliveness in your primary relationship? Is there still a challenge in your relationship? Are you growing in your relationship? 3. Sex life: Do you experience aliveness in your sex life? Is there any real challenge in your sex life? Are you repressing your sexual desires in any way? Okay ... now go on and ask your own questions about your spirituality, your friendships, relationships to family, your sports activities, and any other life area that might be lacking in aliveness.
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, you’re stagnating or not living up to your full potential for a fulfilling life in the area of exploration. So the next question is, what changes can you make to generate aliveness in that area of your life?
As an example: If your relationship is stagnating, what new challenge can you introduce to make it exciting again? Examples: A joint hobby or activity (take up sailing), A side business built upon your shared abilities (an online company you run together in your spare time), New sexual titillation (go on a vacation to a sexy resort, or ...)?
Maybe it is time to consider living dangerously. Maybe it’s time to reject the commands of power, the dictates of society and public opinion, and to stop worrying about what other people think about what you do. You have the power and ability to create your own reality--to change what isn’t working and to manifest what you desire.
Many years ago, while visiting Greenwich Village, NY, I stopped at a newsstand on Sixth Avenue. A beggar approached me asking for a handout, but a cripple sitting nearby started screaming at the beggar. “Get out of here, I’m working this side of the street.”
“Screw you,” mumbled the beggar.
“Nobody says ‘screw you’ to me,” raged the cripple, leaping to his feet and busting an ivory-handled cane over the derelict’s head. No one said a thing. The not-so-crippled cripple went back to the sidewalk, sadly examining his broken cane. The beggar, his head bleeding, moved on.
The cripple’s side of the street--his territory--was the most important thing in his life. Important enough to fight over.
For the rest of day I thought about the two beggars. In regard to defending their turf, they were no different than the gangbangers in LA or any other major city. To meet a gang member’s eyes, or to look at his girlfriend, or to enter his “territory” might dis (as in show disrespect) him enough to initiate retaliation.
If your life is busy, your responsibilities keep you focused on your priorities. If you’re running a business, you have to focus on the most important aspects to assure success. If you have an interesting career and a circle of friends, your calendar is probably over-flowing with things to do. But if nothing of importance is going on in your life, you will designate “little things” with an importance they don’t deserve. And you will defend the importance at great risk, because the risk validates the importance.
Something has to matter in your life.
In a seminar, I once processed a woman who spent her life suing people--lots of people. It took a lengthy one-on-one dialogue for her to understand and accept that the emotional ups and downs of the lawsuit process created her aliveness. She had no relationship, no family, no friends. Even negative aliveness generates (painful) emotions that let us know we’re still alive.
When nothing is important, we have to make something important.
Mary, a friend, was extremely upset by the thoughtless action of a neighbor in her condo complex. Weeks after the perceived slight, she was still dwelling on it. Mary has very little going on in her life and is frustrated by an unfulfilling job and the lack of a meaningful love relationship.
When nothing is important, we have to make something important.
There is another important aspect to this. If nothing is really important, and you don’t make something that generates aliveness important, then your mind will probably do it for you. Your subconscious may cause an accident or manifest an illness. In either case, you’ll know you’re alive and it will give you something of importance to focus upon.
If your life is filled with worthy goals, satisfying relationships and exciting activities, you probably don’t get stuck on the little stuff. But if nothing is of importance, or if you are getting upset over things that really don’t matter, it’s time to consider some new and meaningful activities the will generate positive aliveness.