Finding Inner Peace

ross bishopFinding inner peace can be difficult. We meditate, do yoga, read books, go to workshops, learn mantras, hang affirmations on our refrigerators and yet we remain troubled. What are we missing? Is it just that we are not sufficiently spiritual? Are we not doing it right? That is how it feels much of the time.

Years ago I learned about spirituality through Zen meditation. I sat morning and evening, religiously (if you will pardon the pun), seven days a week, at least twice a day. I got calm, my breathing deepened and the world slowed down as I began to focus on what was really important in life. My friends noticed the changes occurring in me. I went deep. I touched a place of inner peace and calm I had no idea even existed.

Bliss? Hardly. It scared the heck out of me! I had to quit for a while. I had never known that level of openness and feeling that vulnerable shook me to my core. It would be some time before I had the courage to go that deeply or feel that vulnerable again. Fortunately, the experience planted something so deep and powerful in me that I could not ignore. I had to pursue it. So here I am, 30 years later, eternally grateful for an experience that literally scared the daylights out of me. But the fear I experienced then is the same fear that keeps most people from finding inner peace today… continue article

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Feeling Inadequate – The Albatross

by Ross Bishop

In school you may have read Coleridge’s, “The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner.” It is a poem about a mariner who, in his arrogance, killed an albatross that was believed to have brought his ship and shipmates good fortune. Being a superstitious lot, the mariner’s mates made him wear the stinking carcass of the albatross around his neck as penance for his intransigence. As long as he wore the albatross, things went badly.

Coleridge’s albatross symbolizes the role of the ego in our lives. It shows us how we can close off the loving and compassionate voice within us and replace it with the rotting carcass of our ego. Why do we do that?

In a word, we are afraid to be seen. We fear that the inadequacies we feel in ourselves will be exposed. But that”s something of a game too. If I really am “inadequate” in some way or other, there really isn’t much I can do about it anyway. So what’s the problem? And besides, if everyone else feels the same way, what’s the big problem?

It’s a bit of a game played by the mind. You see, there is a “soft spot” in your consciousness. That’s why you have come to earth. That “soft spot,” when pushed on, leaves you feeling inadequate, leading to shame. It keeps the fear alive of always feeling rejected or rejectable.

Your “soft spot” became exposed in childhood. All children grow up feeling as though something is (missing, wrong, defective, unworthy) in them. You probably felt like that. This is your albatross. Parents get blamed for creating these issues, because your awareness of them surfaced in childhood. This is a failure of parenting on your parent’s part, but it is also intended to be this way. Each party is given the opportunity to address issues they hold that need attention.

You created coping mechanisms (ego) to compensate for your “inadequacies,” and to deal with your family situation. Since those behaviors got you through childhood, you tend to continue them today. You say, “I feel inadequate, so I’ll compensate by (fill in the blank): (efforting, denying, rationalizing, being invisible, not remembering, being aggressive, feeling inadequate, blaming myself, collapsing into failure or any of a hundred other compensations). You build compensation on top of compensation until you are so deep in the muck that there doesn’t seem to be any way out.

But of course, living like that you never feel quite whole. There is this nagging feeling that, “Something isn’t quite right,” and of course, that’s true. No matter what you do, there’s this “thing” hanging around your neck and the stink of it won’t go away.

When I first work with a client, I have them create an “Albatross List.” The list gives us a starting point for our work. It’s a list of the things they do that are not really themselves. You know, things like jealousy, selfishness, dishonesty, etc., and then the things they feel that also aren’t them – like feelings of worthlessness, undeserving, shame, etc. People will sometimes say, “But I don’t know what’s me and what’s not me.” I tell them, “If it doesn’t create harmony, it’s not you.”

Here are a few things from one person’s Albatross List:

Feel like rotten minced meat inside.
Analyzing things, always living in my head.
Make myself small.
Push good things away.
Stay hidden.
Keep my feelings hidden inside.
Isolate myself.
I am not enough.
Live to please others.
Cannot be criticized.
Focus on the appearance of things.
Feel lonely.
Bottle up my emotions.
Self sabotage to keep myself down.
Feel ugly, fat.
Feel dark inside.
Feel guilty.
Life is for others but not for me.

Anything on that list feel familiar? Go ahead, make your own list. . . I’ll wait. . .

The thing about the beliefs that lie beneath the albatross (ego) list is that they control your life. Whenever you become anxious, you’ll retreat into those behaviors. Fortunately, living from the ego on a permanent basis is very difficult.

The ego, based in fear, creates conflicts both within yourself and with others. You can go along for quite a while letting it run your life, but sooner or later the roof caves in. Perhaps your relationship fails, your business flops (or never gets started), your health fails or maybe the inner conflict simply gets to you. Whatever happens, you are then challenged to look at your assumptions about the things on your Albatross List and see if they really are true.

And you know what? They’re not. In every case. You can believe these things and can act on them, but that’s the illusion. There is nothing wrong with you (other than your beliefs)! There never was! Seven billion people, all struggling with the same issue. Doesn’t that tell you something?

The Universe needs you to decide for yourself that you really are intact and lovable. It wants you to see that there are no defects. It will bring you situation after situation until you see through the lie and get it. You aren’t being punished, you are being taught. Although some of us can be pretty stubborn, that just makes the process take longer and be more painful than it needs to be.

But the ego believes in punishment. “Poor me,” it cries, desperately hanging on to any position of leverage it can generate. “We are being punished.” And so long as there is significant doubt in you, that gives the ego all the leverage it needs.

And yet, there is this place of knowing, this light that draws you to the truth. That pull, we sometimes call it faith – (not faith in a religious sense, but faith in The Creator) – is going to save you. This thread ultimately re-connects you with The Truth, and no matter how angry you are at being “punished” or how ashamed you feel for your transgressions, the connection, which can be ignored for a time, can never be broken. But first you have to get over the belief that you are being punished for your inadequacies.

So, this is all about your coming to realize that you are not exactly who you thought you were. This is so you can release your fear-based beliefs and embrace the truth. It means letting go of the life you created out of fear and replacing it with one filled with love and compassion. This is what Christ was referring to when he spoke of, “being born again.”

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

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