Avoiding Negative Vibrations
Taking on the Energy of Others
by Madisyn Taylor
In order to protect ourselves from taking on any negative energy from other people or situations; we can learn to shield.
There are times when you may find that being around certain individuals or groups of people leaves you with feelings of discomfort. It may be that spending time with a particular friend feels draining or that dealing with a specific coworker exhausts you. Being around toxic or angry people is also draining. And you may even find that being surrounded by a crowd of people lowers your energy levels rather than perks you up. This is not that unusual. Each of us radiates energy and is capable of being influenced by the energy of other people. It is important to learn how to shield yourself, so you don’t unknowingly take on someone else’s energy. While some people know how to instinctively protect themselves from being adversely affected by energy, most of us need to discover and practice the technique that works best.
There are a number of ways to avoid being affected by people’s energy. Shielding is one preventative technique you can use. Center yourself and envision being enveloped in a cocoon of loving and protective light. This protective layer should allow you to consciously regulate the energy around you. The intent to shield oneself is all you need for this technique to work. You can even create a trigger word to assist you in quickly creating a shield. Say this word each time you create a new shield, until the word and the shield become automatically associated in your mind. If you run into a person whose energy you find draining, you may want to cleanse your own energy field after your encounter. Sage, cold showers, singing, mineral water baths, spending time in nature, and a simple break to recharge are all ways to accomplish this.
While it is important to know how to shield yourself from energy, there are those energies that you may not want to shut out. The energy of laughter from a newborn baby, the feeling of joy radiating from someone in love, and the frequency of calm emanating from an enlightened teacher are just some of the energies coming from others that you may want to have around you.
Fresh and Unfixed
There is Only Now
by Madisyn Taylor
Being present lets us experience each moment in our lives in a way that cannot be fully lived through memory or fantasy.
It can be easy for us to walk through the world and our lives without really being present. While dwelling on the past and living for the future are common pastimes, it is physically impossible to live anywhere but the present moment. We cannot step out our front door and take a left turn to May of last year, any more than we can take a right turn to December 2010. Nevertheless, we can easily miss the future we are waiting for as it becomes the now we are too busy to pay attention to. We then spend the rest of our time playing “catch up” to the moment that we just let pass by. During moments like these, it is important to remember that there is only Now.
In order to feel more at home in the present moment, it is important to try to stay aware, open, and receptive. Being in the present moment requires our full attention so that we are fully awake to experience it. When we are fully present, our minds do not wander. We are focused on what is going on right now, rather than thinking about what just happened or worrying about what is going to happen next. Being present lets us experience each moment in our lives in a way that cannot be fully lived through memory or fantasy.
When we begin to corral our attention into the present moment, it can be almost overwhelming to be here. There is a state of stillness that has to happen that can take some getting used to, and the mind chatter that so often gets us into our heads and out of the present moment doesn’t have as much to do. We may feel a lack of control because we aren’t busy planning our next move, assessing our current situation, or anticipating the future. Instead, being present requires that we be flexible, creative, attentive, and spontaneous. Each present moment is completely new, and nothing like it has happened or will ever happen again. As you move through your day, remember to stay present in each moment. In doing so, you will live your life without having to wait for the future or yearn for the past. Life happens to us when we happen to life in the Now.
Finding Another Vantage Point
by Madisyn Taylor
Seeing the world from another perspective can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures.
The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.
Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.
Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. Bury your face in the grass and look at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down sometimes helps you see more closely when you are looking for lost treasure, so can standing back help you appreciate the broader picture of what you are looking at. In doing so, you’ll experience very different worlds.
Enjoying a Snail’s Pace
Doing Things Slowly
by Madisyn Taylor
Take time to slow down, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.
Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.
Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships. Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. A student cramming for a test will often feel tired and unsure, whereas someone who really absorbs the information will be more confident and relaxed. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. ! Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive.
Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.
Exploring the Soul Living a Spiritual Life
by Madisyn Taylor
Remembering who we really are is the first step in awakening to our spiritual path.
Throughout the journey from birth to death, many people choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. Simply put, this is the essence of spirituality. One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path. We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path.
The spiritual path springs forth from a daily routine that reaffirms our personal connection with a purpose or a way of life. Practicing compassion, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, meditation, and taking care of one’s wellbeing can all be a part of one’s spiritual life. If you are new to exploring your personal spirituality, remember that this is a process. You may want to spend a few moments each day giving yourself a spiritual gift. Try a new form of meditation, visit a sanctuary, or explore a specific deity.
Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul. Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe.
Personal Tales Writing Your Story
by Madisyn Taylor
We all have a story to tell whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.
Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story. Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings. No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.
Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.
Research has shown that writing a personal narrative filled with feelings and perceptions can create long-term health benefits. As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences. More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard
Half-Full Consciousness Starting from Empty
by Madisyn Taylor
Live your life as if your glass is half-full rather than half-empty, all you need is a change of thought.
We are all familiar with the metaphorical story of two people looking at the same glass and one perceiving it as half-full while the other sees it as half-empty. As much as we’ve heard this, it’s still a valuable exercise to really observe our minds and notice whether we are engaged in half-full or half-empty thinking. People will refer to themselves as being of one type or the other as if it was a permanent characteristic, but we are all capable of shifting into a half-full consciousness if we simply make the effort.
When we look at our lives with half-empty consciousness, we perceive a lack and think that the other half of what we want is missing. We are coming from a position of expectation and entitlement. On the other hand, when we look at our lives as half-full we perceive fullness. It is as if we recognize that our cup could be fully empty and so we are grateful for what we see as bounty—not something we expect or believe we are owed, but a gift. In half-full consciousness, we count our blessings. When we look at our lives we see all the elements that are in place and all the things we do have. This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t seek more, but we seek from a place of fullness instead of from a place of lack. This fullness draws positive energy into our lives and often attracts more abundance.
If you would like to begin to make the shift into half-full consciousness, try imagining your life as an empty glass. This is your life without all the people you know, the work you do, your home, or your current state of physical wellbeing. This is just an empty, open space waiting to be filled. Once you have that feeling of openness in your mind, begin filling it with all the people, things, and places that make up your life. You may be surprised to find your glass overflow
Wave Motion Hado
by Madisyn Taylor
The study of hado tells us that the energetic vibrations from our thoughts affect our physical realities.
Walking through a Japanese garden, one truly feels the life force energy that is known as Hado. Hado isn’t just present in Japan, but it is a concept that has existed in Japan for centuries. The two Japanese characters that make up the word Hado mean “wave” and “move” - perfect words to describe the energy vibrations that permeate all life. Hado is present in all things, animate and inanimate. It resides everywhere, even in the air and in people.
The study of hado tells us that the energetic vibrations from our thoughts affect on our physical realities. Each of us has the ability to manifest a specific intention through the hado that we send out – from making our jewelry shine to changing the atmosphere of a room full of people to transforming the hado of an empty space. However, we are often unaware that our thoughts are creating vibrations in the world outside our minds. Once we know that this is the case, we can become more aware of our negative thinking and train ourselves to stay positive and think with intention.
Giving thanks for a meal before we eat can change the energy of our food. Expressing gratitude by thoughts or words makes a huge difference to both the giver and recipient because you are sending them hado. A kind smile really makes a difference when you work consciously with hado. Once we become aware of the power of hado, we can create positive changes in every area of our lives: our physical space, mental and emotional health, relationships, and businesses. One of the most important principles of hado is to monitor your thoughts and intentions every day. Enjoy the improvements that you will create in your life and the world around you by consciously working with hado.
Cleansing Your Power Center Trusting Your Gut
by Madisyn Taylor
Gut feelings earn their name from the place in the body where they make themselves known. A pang in your gut when you may be doing the wrong thing, or a vibrant zing when your body approves, can guide you reliably at times when logic fails. Sometimes, when logic prevails, we ignore our gut and live to regret it, understanding later that a rational approach is only one way of determining what is going on in a situation and how we should react.
Our gut resides in the neighborhood of our solar plexus and the third chakra just above your belly button. When it is functioning well, we can trust its guidance and adjust our actions accordingly. Many of us have a tendency to hold in this area of our bodies. We may take shallow breaths that never reach this vital nexus that is the source of our empowerment. It is in this place that we find the courage to act, to reach out into the world and create change. When our power center is out of balance, we are timid and out of sync, wishing we had said something we were only able to phrase later when we were alone; wishing we had acted on an opportunity we didn’t see until it was past.
In order to utilize your power center, you may want to focus your attention on it more regularly and make time to care for it. You can begin right now by taking a deep breath into your belly. On the exhale, pull your navel in toward your spine so as to empty out completely before taking another deep breath into your belly. When you empty completely, you release stagnant energy and create more space to be filled with fresh, nourishing breath. The more you practice this simple, cleansing exercise, the more clear and communicative your gut feelings will be and the more comfortable you will feel acting on them.
Guided Meditation Accessing the World Within
by Madisyn Taylor
Guided meditation is a wonderful way to start a meditation practice and can be deeply relaxing.
A guided meditation uses the sound of a person’s voice to direct you through an inner process of relaxing your body and shifting your mind’s focus. The voice may be a person in the room with you or a recording—even something downloaded from the internet—and it is generally spoken in soothing, soft tones. You may be guided to focus on aspects of your physical body, such as on your breathing, relaxing your muscles one-by-one, or on an area in need of healing. Sometimes it might involve visualizing a journey through the beauty of the natural world. Other times, you may be led to envision yourself working with light or energy, accomplishing your goals, or repeating positive thoughts in your head. Your guide may walk you through relaxation or motivation to help you change a habit, access untapped potential, or perhaps merely to find the silence within you.
Whether you are familiar with meditation or you are a beginner, being guided gives you the opportunity to benefit from the insight of others. There are numerous meditation and visualization techniques based in various spiritual philosophies and psychological applications. You may want to try several techniques to see what appeals to you the most, or just to gain a fresh perspective.
Guided meditation allows you to learn from others in a way that is similar to ones used by ancients the world over. Once learned, meditation is a tool that will always be available to you. Like having a tour guide while traveling in a foreign country, a guided meditation takes you on an inner journey. But this tour allows you to see and experience your own inner world, a place that truly only exists within you. The scenes created in your mind’s eye can be revisited at anytime, without a guide, because once you have seen the fascinating landscape of your own inner terrain, there will always be more to explore.
Just Being There Acting as a Guardian
by Madisyn Taylor
To act as a guardian to somebody during a difficult time is a most beautiful gift of support.
One of the greatest gifts we can give another human being is to act as their guardian. Whether this gift is related to a specific situation or is representative of an ongoing commitment, we each benefit from the association. To protect someone is to walk with them in challenging times and see them through safely to the other side. In doing this, we grow with them. And those under our guardianship derive confidence from our support and assistance, enabling them to persevere through almost any conditions.
There are many reasons we feel inspired to serve as guardians to those we care for. Sometimes just holding the space for somebody allows them to do what is necessary to grow or heal. We may simply want to see that our friend or loved one is taken care of and equipped to prevail over difficult circumstances. We may also sense that we are in possession of knowledge our loved ones are lacking yet need in their current stage of development. Our offer to serve as a guardian may also be both unsolicited and unrelated to any one situation. Instead of helping someone we care about cope with a specific challenge, we may find ourselves providing them with a more general form of emotional sustenance that prepares and strengthens them for challenges yet to come.
Our ability to empathize with those under our guardianship is our greatest asset because our comprehension of their needs allows us to determine how we can best serve them. Even when this comprehension is limited, however, the loving intentions with which we enter into our role as guardian ensure that our care and protection help others grow as individuals while living their lives with grace.
Go for It Making It Happen
by Madisyn Taylor
The universe is fully supportive of what you want, but it is up to you to go for it.
There are times in our lives when all the signs seem to be pointing us in a particular direction. Our thoughts and dreams are echoed in the songs and stories we hear and the media we see. Maybe the message we are getting from the universe doesn’t even make sense in the “real” world, but somewhere inside, these urges feel right. Maybe you feel you are being told to move to a new city although your life where you are is just fine. Or maybe you feel the desire to pursue a new direction in your career when it never really interested you before. When we spend time getting in touch with our higher selves, our intuition sends us directives to lead us to become our best and most fulfilled selves. And when we are open and listening, the next step is to take action and go for it.
Once we make the decision to pursue our inner urgings, the universe sets into motion the means for all sorts of details to fall into place. A sense of peace will come over us, because we know that any questions will no longer make us wonder if our dreams are possible, but how to make them happen. Instead of deterring us from our goal, these questions only serve to clarify our focus to move us forward. We need not throw caution to the wind to follow our dream. The positive shift in our energy affects everything around us. Like a rush of water, it goes ahead to clear debris from our path so that we can go forward. Our new attitude also attracts likeminded people. Sometimes even the most unlikely angels arrive to help us along our way with the information and support we need.
Wherever your dreams are pointing you today, take a step. Take action and manifest your inner urges and soul whisperings
Grounding Ourselves Being a Strong Container
by Madisyn Taylor
As a human being living on earth it is important to learn to ground yourself in relation to your earth mother.
We often hear people telling us to ground ourselves, but we may not be sure what that means and how we might do it. Grounding ourselves is a way of bringing ourselves literally back to earth. Some of us are more prone than others to essentially leaving our bodies and not being firmly rooted in our bodies. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, but while we are living on the earth plane it is best to stay grounded in the body.
One of the easiest ways to ground ourselves is to bring our attention to our breath as it enters and leaves our bodies. After about 10 breaths, we will probably find that we feel much more connected to our physical selves. We might then bring our awareness to the sensations in our bodies, moving from our head down to our feet, exploring and inquiring. Just a few minutes of this can bring us home to bodies and to the earth, and this is what it means to ground ourselves.
We can go further by imagining that we have roots growing out of the bottoms of our feet, connecting us to the earth. The roots flow with us so we can we always move, but at the same time they keep us grounded. We receive powerful energy from the earth just as we do from the forms of energy we associate with the sky, and our body is a tool that brings these two energies together in a sacred union. When we are grounded, we essentially become a strong container in which our spirits can safely and productively dwell. This is why grounding ourselves every day, especially at the beginning of the day, is such a beneficial practice. Fortunately, it’s as simple as bringing our conscious awareness to our bodies and the earth on which we walk.
Becoming Whole Again The Process of Grieving
by Madisyn Taylor
Grief can arise from many life situations, but know it is not a permanent state of being.
When we experience any kind of devastating loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a dream, or a relationship, feelings may arise within us that are overwhelming or difficult to cope with. This sense of grief can also come up when we are separated from anyone or anything we have welcomed into our lives. And while it may feel like we are caught up in a never-ending spiral of sadness and emptiness, it is important to remember that the grief we are feeling is not a permanent state of being. Rather, grief is part of the process of letting go that in many ways can be a gift, allowing us to go deeper within ourselves to rediscover the light amidst the seeming darkness.
The emotions that accompany any kind of loss can be intense and varied. A sense of shock or denial is often the first reaction, to be replaced by anger. Sometimes this anger can be directed at your loved one for “abandoning” you; at other times you may feel outrage toward the universe for what you are enduring. And while there are stages of grief that people go through – moving from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance – the cycles of grief often move in spirals, sometimes circling forward and then back again. You may even experience moments of strength, faith, and laughter in between. While these emotions seem to come and go sporadically, it is important to feel them, accept them, and allow them to flow. With time, patience, and compassion, you will eventually find your center again.
As we move through our grief, we may find ourselves reluctant to release our pain, fearing we are letting go of who or what we have lost. We may even regard our movement toward healing as an act of disloyalty or giving up. Know that while the hurt may fade, the essence of what you had and who you loved will have already transformed you and forever stay with you. If anything, once you are ready for the pain of your loss to subside, their memories can then live more fully within you. Remember, that healing is a part of the spiraling cycles of grief, and that in letting yourself feel restored again, you are surrendering to a natural movement that is part of the dance of life.
Recognizing Our Own Greatness The Greatness in Others
by Madisyn Taylor
We are all moved by greatness when we see it we know the feeling of it and have it within ourselves.
A person who is said to possess greatness stands apart from others in some way, usually by the size or originality of their vision and their ability to manifest that vision. And yet those who recognize that greatness, whether they display it themselves or not, also have greatness within them; otherwise, they could not see it in another. In many ways, the achievements of one person always belong to many people for we accomplish nothing alone in this world. People who display greatness rely upon others who are able to see as they do, to listen, encourage, and support. Without those people who recognize greatness and move in to support it, even the greatest ideas, works of art, and political movements would remain unborn.
We are all moved by greatness when we see it, and although the experience is to some degree subjective, we know the feeling of it. When we encounter it, it is as if something in us stirs, awakens, and comes forth to meet what was inside us all along. When we respond to someone else’s greatness, we feed our own. We may feel called to dedicate ourselves to their vision, or we may be inspired to follow a path we forge ourselves. Either way, we cannot lose when we recognize that the greatness we see in others belongs also to us. Our recognition of this is a call to action that, if heeded, will inspire others to see in us the greatness they also possess. This creates a chain reaction of greatness unfolding itself endlessly into the future.
Ultimately, greatness is simply the best of what humanity has to offer. Greatness does what has not been done before and inspires the same courage that it requires. When we see it in others, we know it, and when we trust its presence in ourselves, we embody it.
Elegant Blessings Living a Life of Grace
by Madisyn Taylor
When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, we are able to live our lives more graciously.
Grace exists inside of all of us and around us. It is our inner beauty that radiates outward, touching everyone we meet. It is that unseen hand that comes from the divine, raising us up when we most need it. To be able to live in a state of grace is not based on worthiness, nor is it earned through good deeds, ritual, or sacrifice. Rather it is an unearned favor, freely bestowed and available to all, that is inherent to our birthright. All we must do is open our eyes to its presence and we will find and experience grace everywhere.
Grace is in the rain bringing relief to drought-ridden farms, and the unexpected lead for the perfect job opportunity that comes from a stranger. Grace is what happens to someone when they miraculously escape injury; it is even the simple events that happen to us that we call “good luck,” like when we don’t get a parking ticket after are meter has expired. Grace resides in the love between two people, the gift or check that comes unexpectedly in the mail, the cozy comforts that make up a home, and in the acts of forgiveness we bestow upon others. It is grace that moves us to go out of our way to help a stranger. In music, a grace note is the pause between notes that is so important to the pacing of a song. Grace is the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are.
When we accept that we always exist in a state of grace, we are able to live our lives more graciously. Knowing we are graced gives us hope, makes us more generous, and allows us to trust that we are taken care of even when we are going through difficult times. Grace is our benevolence of heart, and our generosity of spirit. Grace is unconditional love and the beauty that is our humanity. When we know that we are blessed with grace, we can’t help but want to live our lives in harmony.
The Reciprocal Flow of Abundance Giving without Expectations
by Madisyn Taylor
It is in the act of giving that we find joy, without the expectation of anything in return.
Since giving and receiving are so intimately intertwined in our lives, we often expect that we can attract abundance by simply conducting ourselves in an openhanded fashion. Yet we find ourselves wallowing in disappointment when our ample generosity is not met with the expected results. The answer to this quandary lies in the expectations that, in part, initially prompted us to give. Though our intention is likely pure, we can unintentionally mar the beautiful experience of giving by focusing on what we will eventually receive in return. When we let go of the notion that we deserve to receive gifts based on giving gifts, bounty can once again flow freely in and out of our lives.
When the gifts you give are laden down with expectations, they cease to be gifts and become units of exchange that you are, in effect, trading for some reward. Thus, the reciprocal laws of the universe err on the side of the giver who shares for the sake of sharing. You may have seen this simple truth at work in your own experience, perhaps when life’s busyness prevented you from spending too much time contemplating the results your charitable actions would ultimately have on the lives of others. It was likely then that you received the greatest gifts in return for your kindness. If you have trouble divesting yourself of your expectations, you may need to reflect upon the root of your inability to act in the true spirit of giving. Each time you make a gift, whether spiritual or tangible, ask yourself if there is something you hope to receive in return. You may be surprised to discover that you expect to be repaid with an easy life, financial windfalls, or opportunities.
To integrate this most selfless form of generosity into your life, you will have to let go of your need to be in control. Accepting that while like inevitably attracts like, it typically does so on an unobservable timetable. This can help you stop weighing the gifts you give against those you have received. Giving eventually becomes a profound joy that stands alone, separate from any and all conditions, and you will learn to appreciate the flow of reciprocal abundance as a gift in and of itself.
The World in a Bright Light Grateful
by Madisyn Taylor
There is always something to be grateful for even when life is hard and times are tough.
Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.
There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.
When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.
Finding Encouragement Your True Inner Voice
by Madisyn Taylor
The longer you listen to and believe your true inner voice, the stronger it will become.
Within each of us, there are numerous voices often that compete for our attention. It can be difficult to decide which one to listen to, particularly when their messages are all quite different, sometimes conflicting, and even alluring. One voice, however, is the speaker of truth. Among all your inner voices, your true inner voice is the one which encourages you, gives you hope, and pushes you to trust and believe in yourself. Conflict within oneself is often caused by dueling voices inside of each one of us. As we move through life, we get mixed messages from the various aspects of ourselves. Some of our voices, such as the naysayer or saboteur, can speak so loudly that they drown out the voice of truth. Listening to your true inner voice – often the voice of understanding, support, and self-assurance - can help lessen and even resolve internal conflict.
If you’re looking toward the future but your faith in your ability to succeed in life is wavering, you will benefit from finding and listening to your true inner voice. You can connect with it by remaining relaxed and alert, while listening carefully. If you have trouble distinguishing your true voice from the others, meditation may be helpful. You may hear many voices as you meditate, but the one you should pay attention to is the one that speaks to you with love, understanding, and compassion. It will bolster your spirits and urge you to go after your dreams. And it will never cause confusion, remind you of past mistakes, or cause you to doubt yourself.
The more you listen to and believe in what your true inner voice is telling you about your value and your potential, the stronger that voice will become. And the more you disregard the voices that can interfere with your resolve to succeed, the quieter those voices will become. Saying no to the voices that are judgmental and make you feel ashamed will help you stop being critical of your failures and afraid of success. By finding and strengthening your true inner voice, you will be able to ignore internal conflict and pick out the one that speaks the truth
Cause for Celebration Honoring Everyday Life
by Madisyn Taylor
Use the good china everyday as today is all that matters.
We all know someone who keeps plastic covers on his or her couch in order to protect it. The irony is that many of these people may live their lives without ever having actually made contact with their own furniture! This is a poignant and somewhat humorous example of the human tendency to try to save things for special occasions, as if everyday life weren’t special enough to warrant the use of nice things. Many of us have had the experience of never wearing a particular piece of clothing in order to keep it nice, only to have it go out of style in the meanwhile.
It’s interesting to think of what it would mean to us if we let ourselves wear our nicest clothes and eat off the good china on a daily basis. We might be sending ourselves the message that every day we are alive is a special day and a cause for celebration, and that we are worth it. There is something uplifting about treating ourselves to the finest of what we have. It is as if we rise to the occasion when we wear our best clothes and set the table beautifully, as if for a very special guest. We are more mindful of where we place things, what we are eating, and who is with us. Using the good china, eating in the dining room, and taking the plastic off the sofa might be an invitation to be more conscious of the beauty and grace inherent in our everyday lives.
If there are things you’ve stashed away for a special occasion—a bottle of special wine, a gorgeous pair of shoes, an antique lace tablecloth—consider taking them out of their hiding places and putting them to use tonight, just because you are alive now to enjoy them, and that’s a great cause for a celebration.
Do unto Others The Golden Rule
by Madisyn Taylor
When we honor others by following the golden rule, we honor ourselves too.
All over the world, there exists a simple precept that, when followed, has the power to end conflict and banish strife. It is the Golden Rule, a key concept in many philosophies and spiritualities that admonishes us to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Its meaning is clear: treat others only in ways that you would want to be treated. However, the golden rule is not always easy to follow. It can be a challenge to honor others as we wish to be honored. Yet, when we do so, we bestow a gift of loving kindness on our fellow human beings. And, in honoring others, we honor ourselves.
It is as uncomplicated a tenet as one could wish for. When we live by it, harming another person becomes nearly impossible. The Golden Rule is rooted in pure empathy and does not compel us to perform any specific act. Rather, it gently guides us to never let our actions toward others be out of harmony with our own desires. The Golden Rule asks us to be aware of the effect our words and actions may have on another person and to imagine ourselves in their place. It calls on us to ask ourselves how we would feel if what we were about to do were directed toward us. And yet this rule invites us to do more than not harm others. It suggests that we look for opportunities to behave toward others in the same ways that we would want others to act toward us. Showing compassion, being considerate of others, caring for the less fortunate, and giving generously are what can result when you follow the Golden Rule.
Adhering to the Golden Rule whenever possible can have a positive effect on the world around you because kindness begets kindness. In doing so, you generate a flow of positive energy that enfolds everyone you encounter in peace, goodwill, and harmony.
Grumps Shining through the Clouds
by Madisyn Taylor
We can shine like a beacon from a lighthouse when met with the force of a grumpy person.
When we’re in a good mood, we shine like the sun. But if we find ourselves in the presence of a person, or people, in a grumpy mood, it can feel like a dark cloud approaching to dim our radiance and block our positive way of seeing the world. We can remind ourselves that clouds pass, while the sun and stars continue to shine above. Then it’s easier to think of these “grumps” affectionately, knowing that they only have the power to affect our mood if we allow it. With the power of change firmly in our hands, we can choose how to respond to a grumpy person, or a grumbling group of people, with confidence and understanding.
Like a lighthouse, we can continue to shine through the darkness, offering our light to help others find their way back to their own. We can send them a silent prayer of peace or a sympathetic smile. We may sense that reaching out to offer a comforting touch or hug can ease their frustrations and cause the clouds to dissipate. If they need understanding, we can sympathize without reinforcing the negativity they may be experiencing by directing their attention someplace more positive. Helping them find the humor in their situation might be appropriate and is a great way to lift spirits, or a logical approach may help them see all the good in the situation, in their lives and in the world.
We might find that someone we encounter often seems to be in a perpetual state of gloom. Our tendency in such cases may be to try to avoid them, but instead we can make the choice to offer support that comes from the heart. We may be inspired to ask if they would like some help or to offer suggestions that have helped us in the past. We can include thoughts of their health and happiness in our times of prayer and meditation. When we lend our energy to uplift another in any way, we improve our own lives while making the world a better place for all of us.
A Concrete Dream Goals
by Madisyn Taylor
It is vital to take action on your goals in life rather than just daydreaming about them.
Our desires act as fuel, propelling us toward new horizons. Without something to strive for, we stagnate and become stuck in ruts of our own making because we are unsure of what to do next. Goals are the dreams that we are willing to work for. When we set goals, we take responsibility for our lives and choose to wholeheartedly devote ourselves to our aspirations. Even if we only take the smallest steps toward achieving our ambitions, it is vital that we actively pursue our goals rather than just daydreaming about them. Having goals makes us feel good because it adds a sense of purpose and direction to our lives.
When you endeavor to achieve clear and quantifiable goals, your choices and actions take on new significance. Consciously creating your goals can help ensure that the success you seek is attainable and serves you. Your plan must be conceivable, tangible, and measurable. If you cannot visualize your goal in great detail or believe that you can realize them, you may find it difficult to commit to your goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them. Make sure that your goals have the potential to be emotionally satisfying. You may even want to write them down. Putting your goals into words can keep your intention fresh in your mind and remind you of your purpose. As you make progress toward realizing your goals, give yourself a reward each time you take a step forward so that you have the incentive to keep going. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, examine ways in which you can revise your strategy so that your plan can work.
In creating goals, you create your future by outlining your destiny. When you choose your goals using your head and heart, you take the first step in manifesting what you want. You grant your own wishes every time you achieve another goal.
The Greater Cause Some Good Reasons for Doing Good
by Madisyn Taylor
Imagine what a different world we would live in if we all worked toward the greater good.
With all that takes place in our lives, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the fact that we’re part of something greater than ourselves—a collective consciousness, the Universe, a greater cause. Because of our tendency to forget this, we might make decisions in our lives that don’t reflect that responsibility that comes with this belonging. All too often, we focus just on the short-term, tangible gain to ourselves without worrying about its consequences. Other times, we may discard the greater cause because it seems like “hard work.” The challenge is to expand our minds so that we transcend the distinction between self and others, so we are aware of how our choices and actions can impact a greater cause.
Contributing to the greater cause doesn’t have to be all about self-sacrifice. For example, if you plant a tree in a community space, its shelter will cool and protect you as well as your neighbors. Or, your reward might be in the form of the beauty that you now see in that space or the sincere smiles of appreciation from neighbors. When you serve the greater cause you also serve your greater good. There is nothing that you cannot do for your highest good that will not benefit the good of all. For example, saying no to a relationship that isn’t right for you not only benefits you but serves the greater good of the other person that you are honoring with your honesty. Saying yes to your dream job not only fulfills you but also serves the people that will benefit from your enthusiasm and productivity.
When you know you are serving a greater cause, there is little room for fear and doubt. You know that what you do will benefit others, so there is no way the universe is not going to support your efforts - even if sometimes it may not look that way. Serving the greater cause allows you to live from the space of your greatness. When you know that what you do can serve a greater cause, you are aware of your power and ability to influence and create change in this world.
Offerings of the Day Finding Gifts in All
by Madisyn Taylor
Before bed each night, take the time to review your day and review the gifts you received.
When we have good days, we often find ourselves going over the details later, enjoying them a second and third time as we feel the joy of our good fortune. When we have bad days, we may find ourselves poring over the details of our misfortunes. However, we can reframe those bad days by making it a daily practice to spend some time before going to bed each night to review the gifts we received that day. Regardless of our evaluation of the day—good, bad, mediocre—we can call forth the many blessings that were present. This practice transforms our consciousness as it reveals the fullness at the heart of our lives.
Some days it’s easy to recount the gifts we’ve received; on other days, we have to look harder for the offerings of the day, but once we do, we will find there are always quite a few. We can keep it simple and be grateful for the fact that we have a roof over our head, nature, food, and our health. Once we have fully experienced these gifts, we can move outward to the gifts that may require a little more thought such as the gifts of forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance that we may have learned that day. We can also always be grateful for the people in our lives who support us, no matter how bad our day may have been.
Just reviewing the many positive offerings in our lives provides a context for our difficulties that puts them in proper perspective, but we can also make an effort to see the gifts even in adverse circumstances. This can be challenging and may require some practice before it feels authentic, but we have all had the experience of a disappointment or loss leading to a surprising gain. Just remembering this and trusting the give and take of life can help us to remember that sometimes the best gifts of all are the ones we don’t recognize right away. In addition, the lessons we learn in the face of adversity are offerings in their own right, allowing us to count patience, wisdom, and fortitude alongside the other gifts of the day.
A Refuge of Your Own Creating a Garden Sanctuary
by Madisyn Taylor
A personal outdoor sanctuary is an important part of feeling connected to all of life.
Each of us has been blessed with an innate need to celebrate and glorify life. At a most basic level, we honor the forces that came together to bring us into being by caring for our bodies and our souls. To truly rejoice in existence, we must also learn to cultivate loveliness in those special places that replenish the soul. When we create a garden sanctuary, we are reminded that we are a part of both nature's essence and something more. An outdoor retreat is a place we can surround ourselves in nature, beauty, and the life force. It is not difficult to create a sanctuary—we should endeavor, however, to create sanctuaries that speak to us as individuals.
Whether we have a yard, a grassy corner, a patio, or a porch at our disposal, our creative potential is infinite. Any of these spaces can become a magnificent garden. When we feel drawn to specific themes such as Zen, angels, paradise, or the ethereal, we should explore them. Décor and furniture crafted from natural materials like wood and stone blend seamlessly into nature. Yet we can also augment the natural world by filling our garden sanctuaries with statues, bells or gongs, or colorful flags. Running water, like that in a created stream or fountain, helps energy flow smoothly. If space is a concern, crystals and mirrors can fulfill the same function. Hidden features like concealed swings and reflecting pools veiled in shadow can surprise and delight. As your garden sanctuary evolves, remember to invite the elemental spirits of nature to assist you in your efforts to create a small pocket of harmony, beauty, and peace in your own backyard. If you have not already felt th! eir presence, sit quietly in your garden and reach out to them. You will feel these earthly guides at your side as you continue to develop your sanctuary.
In the refuge of brilliant color, sweet scents, and stillness you create in your garden, the burdens imposed upon you by a sometimes hectic world will melt away. The splendor and tranquility of what you have brought into being will entrance you, allowing you to forget the constraints of time and space. No matter how large or small your garden sanctuary, the time you spend reveling in its pleasures will refresh your spirit and provide you with innumerable opportunities to celebrate life.
The Importance of Sleep
Regular periods of sleep are key to a healthy body and a clear mind as it is during sleep that your body renews itself.
When life gets busy, sleep is often the first activity that we sacrifice. Considered a luxury by many busy people, sleep is actually as vital to sustaining a balanced life as are breathing, eating, and drinking. Getting sufficient sleep can be a potent energizer, just as not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling drained and sluggish. While eight hours is the average amount of sleep most adults should generally aim for, the right amount of sleep varies for each person. Some people may thrive on just four hours, while others don’t feel well rested unless they’ve slept for ten hours. How much we sleep also varies, depending upon where we are in life. Young people often need more sleep, while older people may need less. The benefits of sleep always stay the same. Regular and consistent periods of wakefulness and sleep are key ingredients to fostering a healthy body and a clear mind. It is during sleep that your body renews itself.
The ability to forgo sleep is considered by some to be an asset. But while it may seem that the nighttime hours can be better used for more productive activities, sleep in itself is extremely productive. During sleep, your body and psyche are both regaining their strength for the coming day. You may even have the unique opportunity to explore the hidden recesses of your personality while you dream. Meanwhile, your long-term memories are reinforced.
Many cultures engage in an afternoon siesta. Taking a nap is refreshing and can increase both productivity and creativity. Author Lewis Carroll is said to have conceived his idea for Alice in Wonderland while dreaming. A good night’s sleep also has been known to bring with it the gifts of clarity, wisdom, and a fresh perspective. Even the ancient Greeks thought of sleep as a gift from the gods. Give yourself the gift of peaceful slumber and you will likely find yourself feeling alert, refreshed, and ready for life’s challenges. You may also find yourself feeling more centered, thoughtful, and aware throughout the day so you can live your full potential.
People Who Don’t Get It
Living with It
When dealing with people who seem very unaware, remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening.
You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here on earth to love one another. To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and it is a blessing. Nevertheless, people who just don’t get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, in positions of power. It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously. We all encounter individuals of this bent in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life. It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.
It helps sometimes to think of us all as different parts of one psyche. Just as within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, the heart and mind of the world has its dark places. The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it. We increase harmony when we hold onto the light, not allowing it to be darkened by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave unconsciously. It’s easier to accomplish this if we don’t focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead focus on how increasing our own light will increase the light of the overall picture.
When dealing with people who seem very unconscious, it helps to remember that every one must find their own way to awakening and that the experiences they are having are an essential part of their process. Holding them in the light of our own energy may be the best way to awaken theirs. At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry.
Get Out of Your Own Way
So often we are sabotaging ourselves by being in our own way without even know we are doing so.
When you find yourself facing obstacles that appear to be blocking you from your goals, it is important to try not to get discouraged. It can be easy to feel “stuck” or that “life” is creating circumstances preventing you from getting what you want. And while it is easy to look at everyone and everything outside of ourselves for the problem, perhaps even wanting to “get rid” of the person, object, or circumstance we may feel is blocking us, sometimes the best course of action to take may be to look inside ourselves first.
It is amazing how often we can get in our own way without even being aware that we are doing so. Even though we truly want to succeed, there are many reasons why we may sometimes block our own efforts. It may be that we are afraid to succeed, so we subconsciously create circumstances to keep ourselves stuck. Or it may even be that we are afraid that we will succeed, so we block ourselves by making the achievement of our goals more difficult than they really are. We may even approach our goals in a way that keeps creating the same unsuccessful results.
If you believe that you’ve been standing in your own way, you may want to take a piece of paper and record how you’ve done so. Write down the choices you’ve made that have hindered your efforts and the fears that may have prompted you to make these decisions. Take note of any thoughts and feelings that arise. It is important to be gentle and compassionate during this process. Try not to blame yourself for getting in your own way. Remember the choices we make always are there to serve us, until it is time to let them go. When you are finished, throw the paper away while setting an intention that you are getting rid of any obstacles you’ve created to block yourself. You can then let yourself start again with a clean slate. Doubts and fears are going to be natural, but with this new awareness, you should be able to prevent yourself from subconsciously thwarting yourself. Besides, now that you’ve decided to get out of your own way, the part of you that has always wanted to succ! eed can now do so.
Recognizing Our Own Abundance
Planting the Seeds of Generosity
One way to practice generosity is to give energy where it is needed whether that is in the form of time, money or love.
The most difficult time to be generous is when we ourselves are feeling poor. While some of us have experienced actually being in the red financially, there are those of us who would feel broke even if we had a million dollars in the bank. Either way, as the old adage goes, it is always in giving that we receive. Meaning that when we are living in a state of lack, the very gesture we may least want to give is the very act that could help us create the abundance that we seek. One way to practice generosity is to give energy where it is needed. Giving money to a cause or person in need is one way to give energy. Giving attention, love, or a smile to another person are other acts of giving that we can offer. After all, there are people all over the world that are hungry for love.
Sometimes when we practice generosity, we practice it conditionally. We might be expecting to “receive back” from the person to whom we gave. We might even become angry or resentful if that person doesn’t reciprocate. However, trust in the natural flow of energy, and you will find yourself practicing generosity with no strings attached. This is the purest form of giving. Remember that what you send out will always come back you. Selflessly help a friend in need without expecting them to return the same favor in the same way, and know that you, too, will receive that support from the universe when you need it. Besides, while giving conditionally creates stress (because we are waiting with an invisible balance sheet to receive our due), giving unconditionally creates and generates abundance. We give freely, because we trust that there is always an unlimited supply.
Being aware of how much we are always supported by the universe is one of the keys to abundance and generosity. Consciously remember the times you’ve received support from expected and unexpected sources. Remember anyone who has helped you when you’ve needed it most, and bless all situations that come into your life for the lessons and gifts they bring you. Remember that all things given and received emanate from generosity. Giving is an act of gratitude. Plant the seeds of generosity through your acts of giving, and you will grow the fruits of abundance for yourself and those around you.
Foundations of Evolution
Acknowledging Your Growth
Evolution of your soul is a natural fact of life and becomes a potent motivational force when celebrated.
Since personal evolution is most often a slow and gradual process, it can be difficult to recognize the scope of the changes taking place in our lives. Yet it is important that we regularly acknowledge our ongoing growth and reward ourselves for the many wonderful feats of self-improvement we have accomplished. When we intentionally contemplate our progress, we need never feel that we are languishing between past achievements and the realization of future goals. If we look closely at our lives, we may see that much of what brings us pleasure in the present is representative of the ambitions of our past that we worked so hard to attain. At one time, the abundance we enjoy currently likely seemed like a far-off dream. Now it is simply reality—a reality we created through our diligence, passion, and unflagging determination. Whether our progress is fast or slow, we deserve to congratulate ourselves for our successes.
To remind yourself of the insights you have gained with time, temporarily adopt an outsider’s perspective and carefully consider how your life in the present differs from the range of experiences you lived through in the past. Creating a written list, in a journal or otherwise, of those strengths, aptitudes, and inner qualities you now attribute to yourself can help you accept that you are not the same person you were one year ago, five years ago, or 10 years ago. Your attitudes, opinions, and values were likely markedly different, and these differences can be ascribed to your willingness to accept that you still have much to learn. If you have difficulty giving yourself credit for these changes, think about the goals you realized, the lives you touched, the wisdom you acquired, and the level of enlightenment you attained over the past years.
Recognizing growth is neither boastful nor immodest. Evolution is a natural fact of life and becomes a potent motivational force when celebrated. Knowing that you are brighter, stronger, and more grounded than you once were, you can look forward to the changes to come. In acknowledging your growth, you build a sturdy foundation upon which you can continue to blossom well into the future.
The Day the Sun Stands Still
The Summer Solstice
Summer solstice represents a time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and look toward new growth.
On the longest day of the year, the sun, which has on the days preceding seemed to rise higher and higher into the sky, reaches its zenith and rises no more. This day, which in the Northern Hemisphere can occur between the 20th and 23rd of June, marks the start of summer and is known as the summer solstice. From time immemorial, the coming of summer’s light and warmth has been a time of gladness and celebration. In June, the snows had long since melted, the ground had thawed, the first fruits were ripening on their vines, and Mother Nature had once again renewed herself. Though most of us have turned away from our agricultural heritage, the summer solstice remains a time of new beginnings and life-enriching endings. It is the day the sun reaches the peak of its power as well as the day that heralds the shorter days that eventually bring with them autumn’s chills.
For ancient peoples of the Americas and Europe, the summer solstice was a particularly joyous day—and one auspicious for those seeking year-long luck, fertility, abundance, and prosperity. Men and women on two continents would gather to pay tribute to the sun’s magnificence, to pray for a bountiful harvest, and to bolster the sun’s energy with bonfires and fireworks. Today, the summer solstice represents an optimal time to reflect upon the blessings we have received in seasons past and visualize the new bounties we hope to receive in the season just beginning to flourish. At noon, when the sun is at its highest point, we can pay reverence to its incredible strength and its ability to create life while also musing on the impermanence of life as represented by the impermanence of the season. You can reestablish your innate connection to nature on the summer solstice by spending time outdoors; following the sun’s procession as the day passes; burning sun oils such as orange, be! nzion, or juniper; or decorating an altar with solar images, summer greens, or colorful blossoms.
Just as the summer solstice is symbolic of agricultural growth, so is it symbolic of personal growth. It is a wonderful time to nurture your potential as you would nurture a tiny seedling and let your creative energy express itself fully. On the summer solstice, you may feel compelled to emulate the noontime sun and be at one with the world around you or to let your inner brilliance shine forth at full strength, if only for a single day. Your life, like the seasons, follows a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and summers, whether literal or figurative, can always be celebrated.
Technology as Distraction
Choosing True Connections
By always using our cell phones, texting and surfing the Internet, we actually become less connected and more distracted.
We are often lured by the promise of new technologies to make our lives easier and help connect us to others. While they do so in many ways, they also present each of us with opportunities to make new choices about how we spend our time and invest our energy. Most gadgets are generally meant to improve the quality of our lives, but it is when we spend too much time with them that they actually do the opposite. By always using our portable emailers, cell phones, video games, and surfing the Internet, we actually become less connected and more distracted. By becoming aware of these tendencies, we harness the power to overcome them and make better choices for ourselves and our families.
Once we decide to consciously put our gadgets to work for us, we become masters of our time. We can give our full attention to whatever we are doing and not let phone conversations and other distractions take the place of human contact. Each of us has the ability to consciously choose to be more present in our lives. We can decide at any time to leave our gadgets behind and become aware of the sights and sounds around us in order to expand our awareness and be fully present in our bodies and our surroundings.
When we use our discernment about how we invest our personal energy, we can be sure that we choose only the best for ourselves and those we love. Our gadgets can be useful tools for our journey in the material world, but we must not forget that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that means interacting with people on a personal level. Choices that enliven us and help us feel connected to our world and our loved ones always deserve our full attention and presence of mind, body, and spirit.
Just for Fun
Remembering Childhood Joys
Fun isn’t something that is given or done to you, it is something that you allow yourself to experience.
As adults, we often get so caught up in “grown up” business that we can forget how to have pure fun. This isn’t the kind of fun that comes from doing a specific kind of activity or being in a specific mood for fun. Rather, this is the fun born from the state of pure being. You see this kind of fun in small children who are so busy being fully present to their lives and in their own bodies that the glow of fun radiates from them just because they are alive: the delight that flashes across the eyes of a child who discovers that water flows with the turn of the tap knob or the squeal of pleasure from a young baby whose tongue is being tickled by cold ice cream; then there’s the full, infectious laughter of a child watching the same hat trick for the fiftieth time.
Back when we were children, this experience of pure delight didn’t have to come from a heightened, heady event in order for us to feel like our day had been made; and it can be that way for us again - if we are willing to remember and reconnect with that part of ourselves that knows how to be in the flow of fun. You can begin this process by reminiscing on what was fun for you as a child. Think about what caused you to giggle in delight or wriggle in pleasure or burst into endless laughter that you couldn’t sit up straight no matter how much you wanted to. Try to spend a few moments with each memory, and really feel what it was like to be in those experiences – allowing that feeling of pure fun to wash over you. It lives, in you – that feeling. It can’t be bottled, manufactured, or sold. You just have to call it back up in order to experience it again.
Pure fun happens when we are fully engaged with ourselves and our world in each moment. It is the spontaneous delight that bubbles out of us when we let go long enough to bring it through; it is the experience of natural, organic pleasure that springs up from our bellies, through our souls, up through our faces, and down to our toes. We’ve naturally known how to have pure fun since we were babies and the flicker of lights caused us to jump to attention from the sheer enjoyment of being able to see. Approach your life today with the knowledge that pure fun isn’t something that is given or done to you; rather, it is something that you allow yourself to experience.
Clearing Our System
Understanding how our bodies react to food, and making adjustments can have a profound effect on our energy system.
In this day and age we know so much more about our relationship to food than our predecessors, and the way we eat and think about food has become almost unrecognizable to our grandparents’ generation. One example of this is our awareness of food allergies, a condition that has recently entered the collective consciousness. Most of us know someone who is allergic to such commonplace foods as wheat and dairy, and we may even be prone to such an allergy. Understanding how our bodies react to food, and making the necessary adjustments in our diet, can have a profound effect on our whole energy system, and can be the key to shifting our mind into a state of greater clarity.
When we are continuously exposed to a food that gives us an allergic reaction, we feel lethargic, foggy-headed, or as if we always have a low-grade sinus infection. Other symptoms can include nausea, digestive difficulties, skin problems, and difficulty breathing. Many of us have been fighting these symptoms our whole lives without realizing that getting relief could be as simple as cutting a particular food out of our diet. When we do, we feel as if we are waking up out of a fog, and our whole system, cleared of substances that work against it, benefits. Many people see skin improvements, they sleep better, have more energy, and feel able to think more clearly. When we feel less than well, testing ourselves, or getting tested by someone else, for food allergies may be a good place to start.
If you know how to do kinesiology, or if you work with a pendulum or have access to clear signals from an inner guide, you can test yourself. If these modes of gaining information are unfamiliar or uncomfortable, you can get tested through a doctor of your choice. However we go about it, exploring our relationship to the foods we eat can be the first step to a more optimal state of health, well-being, and clarity of mind.
A New Level of Mastery
Coming Full Circle
When we come full circle there is the feeling that we have come to a familiar place but we are somehow different.
Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.
When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.
Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it’s also important to pause and take a look at the ground we’ve covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from.
In a time when the sacred feminine is being honored strongly, let's not forget fathers.
The idea of fatherhood is both personal and universal. We all have ideal concepts surrounding fatherhood, and we also have our real fathers—fathers who were there or not there for us, fathers who provided financial support for our families or failed to do so, fathers who loved or neglected us, fathers who were our role models or gave us someone to rebel against. Our father may have been there for us sometimes and not there for us at other times. The process of reconciling the ideal father that resides in our minds with the father that we actually have is a fertile one that can teach us a great deal about ourselves.
Our relationship with our father will often affect our relationships with the other men who will come into our lives. You may have learned to behave and think in certain ways because those were the ways that your father acted and thought. Certain talents that you possess may have been passed down to you by your father. There also may be personal issues that you inherited by virtue of who your father is. Understanding how your relationship with your father has influenced you can help you better understand yourself and the life that you have created.
In a time when mothers, the sacred feminine, and female energy are being honored, it is important not to forget the importance of fathers. Father energy and mother energy are the two complementary energies necessary to bring a healthy human being to fruition in the world. Many of the ideas surrounding fathers are changing in the wake of more modern parenting styles and the more egalitarian roles that are evolving between the sexes. More men are embodying the mother energy these days, and a woman can provide father energy for her children. Either way, we can all benefit from thinking about our fathers and how they have influenced who we’ve become and the ways that we walk through this world. Let us remember to honor our fathers.
Coming Full Circle
A New Level of Mastery
Often the reappearance of an old pattern is a sign that it has come full circle ready to be released.
Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.
When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.
Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it’s also important to pause and take a look at the ground we’ve covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from.
Wherever You Are
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Allow HOME to be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are.
The word “home” has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day. However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are.
The process of evolution can require you to undergo transformations that uproot you. Moving from place to place can seem to literally divide you from the foundations you have come to depend on. Since your home is so intimately tied to the memories that define you, you may feel that you are losing a vital part of yourself when you leave behind your previous house, city, state, or country. And as it may take some time before you fashion new memories, you may feel homeless even after settling into your new abode. To carry your home with you, you need only become your own foundation. Doing so is merely a matter of staying grounded and centered, and recognizing that the pleasures you enjoyed in one place will still touch your heart in another if you allow them.
Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within.
Gifts We Give Ourselves
Friends give us the gift of helping us learn more about our selves while also being a mirror for the other.
Good friends enrich our lives in so many ways. Through a magical combination of similarities and differences, friends offer us the opportunity to know ourselves as we are and help us grow into who we want to be. Our similarities attract us to each other, comforting us with familiarity when we see ourselves in them. When we are drawn to those we admire, the same recognition is at work, unconsciously acknowledging that these people possess qualities that we ourselves possess. By acting as mirrors, friends help us define who we are by reflecting our selves back to us.
Friends also help us know ourselves through our differences. Differences allow us to see other options and make choices about who we want to be. Sometimes we are drawn to those who appear to be our opposites, and we learn to accept the parts of them we love and the parts of them that don’t resonate with us, thus allowing us a valuable learning experience. By expanding our understanding to include others’ experiences, friends help us accept others. By understanding when someone’s life differs from our own, we can learn about ourselves in contrast. There are times when we see in friends what we don’t like about ourselves. That mirror reflection may be hard to take, but a good friend helps us find ways we can change and supports us in that choice.
Part of the joy of friendship is the feeling that we are accepted just the way we are, with no need to change. It is a gift they give us, and one we can give back every day. Ultimately, we choose friends because they make us feel good about ourselves and life. Through tears and difficulties, friends help us find the laughter. When we find those special people who offer us that perfect combination of comfort and stimulus to grow, we are very fortunate. Friends, those wonderful companions that walk with us through life, help us define and refine who we are and who we choose to be every day.
Meeting of the Minds
Fragments of the Self
We all have many fragments of self which need attention to help make our whole selves better.
Sometimes it feels as if we have many different people living inside of us, expressing themselves in voices that seem distinct from one another. There is the inner child with its wants and needs, the angry voice that expresses its opinion and probably several more as well. With all these different parts of ourselves express differing desires and needs and opinions, we may begin to feel as if we have no clarity. It is difficult to know which voices to pay attention to and which ones to ignore or dismiss. Even if we manage to move forward amidst the confusion, doubts and concerns may linger in our psyches simply because they have not been fully expressed and examined. As a result, we may have trouble being at peace with the decisions we do make.
One way to handle this dilemma is to consciously make time for a meeting of the minds within our psyche. This can be done as a guided meditation or as a journaling exercise. In both we can summon the many fragments that make up the whole of who we are and give them each a chance to speak. This can be a helpful tool in the face of a decision we need to make, and it can also be a fruitful path to take in the interest of self-exploration and self-care. When we gather the many fragments of our psyche together, the health and power of the whole is greatly increased.
We can imagine a roundtable in which we gather all the various representatives of our being, allowing them to name themselves and giving them a chance to speak. We allow each one to weigh in, fully expressing the perspective they represent, and we listen without comment. As we listen, we may be amazed at the wisdom and energy stored in these fragments of our self. This gathering brings the fragmented pieces of our psyche into a closer relationship, enabling us to move forward as a unified whole.
Putting Power in Perspective
Always Be for Something
There is more power in being FOR something rather than AGAINST something.
As human beings, we cannot help but be subject to our preferences. However, we do have control over the manner in which these manifest themselves in our lives. Every value we hold dear is an expression of either support or opposition, and it is our perspective that determines whether we are for something or against it. As an example of a situation we are all familiar with at this time: We can direct our energy and intentions into activities that promote peace rather than using our resources to speak out in opposition of war. On the surface, these appear to be two interchangeable methods of expressing one virtue, yet being for something is a vastly more potent means of inspiring change because it carries with it the power of constructive intent.
When you support a cause, whether your support is active or passive, you contribute to the optimism that fuels all affirmative change. Optimistic thoughts energize people, giving them hope and inspiring them to work diligently on behalf of what they believe in. Being for something creates a positive shift in the universe, which means that neither you nor those who share your vision will have any trouble believing that transformation on a grand scale is indeed possible. To be against something is typically easy, as you need only speak out in opposition to it. Standing up for something is often more challenging, because you may be introducing an idea to people that may scare them on a soul level.
Throughout your life, you have likely been told that the actions of one person will seldom have a measurable impact on the world. Yet your willingness to stand up for what you believe in instead of decrying what you oppose can turn the tides of fate. The thoughts you project when you choose to adopt a positive perspective will provide you with a means to actively promote your values and, eventually, foster lasting change.
Foot Cleansing Rituals
Our feet are our primary means of connecting with the earth but remain so neglected confined to shoes.
In most contemporary cultures, where there aren’t many opportunities to go barefoot, few acts are as intimate as touching the feet of another person. Our feet are our primary means of connecting with the earth, yet they usually remain confined in shoes or sandals. Cleansing the feet of a friend or loved one is a sign of trust, closeness, and openness. Cleansing your own feet can be a relaxing interlude that can help you feel refreshed. Foot cleansing also has become a popular stress reliever and beautification ritual.
Ritual foot cleansing has a long and intricate history involving many methods and motivations. It has been used as an initiation, a welcoming gesture, a purification ceremony, and as a means to demonstrate humbleness. Cleansing ceremonies involving the feet are performed in many different parts of the world. In many cases, the meaning of the ritual was twofold. It was a way of cleaning a guest’s feet before entering a home and a sign of hospitality. In Buddhism, clean water mixed with sandalwood to clean the feet is one of the eight typical offerings. By cleansing the feet of an enlightened being, it is possible to cleanse one’s own karma.
You can perform a foot washing ritual on yourself or a companion as a ceremonial activity or as a way to unwind. You may want to start by trying a traditional ritual, or you might feel comfortable inventing your own. Try mixing elements like traditional flower infused water with something more modern like a sugar scrub. Take the time to set your intention for the foot washing ritual. Perhaps you would like to cleanse away old energies in your life so you may step freely toward your future. Or, maybe soaking your feet in warm water will help you relax after a long day at work. Remember to thank your feet for their support. Whether done with pleasure or as an offering, a foot cleansing ritual is a sacred act that honors the divine in you and others.
We cannot predict when a fog will come or when it will lift, but we can center ourselves in the haze and wait for guidance.
When we feel muddled and unfocused, unsure of which way to turn, we say we are in a fog. Similar to when we are in a fog in nature, we may feel like we can’t see where we’re going or where we’ve come from, and we’re afraid if we move too quickly we might run into something hidden in the mists that seem to surround us. Being in a fog necessarily slows us down by limiting our visibility. The best choice may be to pull over and wait for the murkiness to clear. If we move at all, we must go slowly, feeling our way and keeping our eyes open for shapes emerging from the haze, perhaps relying on the taillights of someone in front of us as we make our way along the road.
By and large, most of us prefer to be able to see where we are going and move steadfastly in that direction, but there are gifts that come from being in a fog. Sometimes it takes an obstacle like fog to get us to stop and be still in the moment, doing nothing. In this moment of involuntary inactivity, we may look within and find that the source of our fogginess is inside us; it could be some emotional issue that needs tending before we can safely go full steam ahead. Being in a fog reminds us that when we cannot see outside ourselves, we can always make progress by looking within. Then again, the fog may simply be teaching us important lessons about how to continue moving forward with extreme caution, harnessing our attention, watching closely for new information, and being ready to stop on a dime.
We cannot predict when a fog will come, nor can we know for certain when it will lift, but we can center ourselves in the haze and wait for guidance. We may find it inside ourselves or in a pair of barely visible taillights just ahead. Whether we follow the lights out of the fog, wait for a gentle breeze to lift it, or allow the sun to burn it away, we can rest certain that one way or another, we will move forward with clarity once again.
Growing Your Own Food
Flavors of Life
When we grow our food, we participate more fully in nature’s cycles and form a closer bond with Mother Earth.
Growing a garden of food at home is an experience anyone can enjoy. Even a hanging basket of rosemary or a cherry tomato plant in a pot on the windowsill can enhance your connection with the cycle of life. If you have space outdoors, the green and blooming colors of the edible delights you are growing will decorate any view while tempting you to enjoy the outdoors. The edible plants we nurture allow us to literally taste the fruits (or vegetables or herbs) of our labor while helping us more consciously participate in the circulating energy of nature.
Allow yourself to begin slowly and simply, so that you can learn to dance with nature’s intricate orchestrations. There are many experienced gardeners out there to assist you as you choose seeds or small plants to start your garden. As you learn to heed the seasons, soil, sun, frost, and shade, you become more than a mere spectator of life’s cycle. Instead, you step into the role of cocreator and enhance what you nurture. No matter how large or small the size of your garden, you can benefit from growing your own organic, fresh, and nutritious food while also reveling in the depth of flavor and texture that comes from plants that have been well-tended, nurtured, and loved. As we appreciate the food we’ve grown, we can recognize the care that farmers put into the produce most of us buy at the supermarket. With this new understanding, we can acknowledge the roles other living creatures fill as participants in cultivating the cycle of life. We may even learn to peacefully coexis! t with the animals and insects that share perhaps too great an interest in our garden.
When we grow our food, we participate more fully in nature’s cycles and form a closer bond with Mother Earth. Knowing how to grow your own food allows for a sense of freedom and pride that you can feed and provide for yourself, one of the most basic necessities. Gratitude may fill us as we marvel at the beauty of nature and the majesty of the universe that orchestrates such natural wonders. When we allow our appreciation of life to expand, we harvest so much more than food and the taste is that much sweeter.
Focusing Our Energy
Fulfilling Energetic Investments
Being fully present with all that we are, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices.
As modern life makes a wealth of information and opportunities available to us, we may find ourselves torn between a wide variety of interests and projects. Our excitement may entice us to try all of them at once, but doing so only diffuses our energy, leaving us unable to fully experience any of them. Like an electrical socket with too many things plugged into it, we may be in danger of overheating and burning out. But if we can choose one thing at a time to focus all of our attention upon, we can make the most of our life-force energy, engaging ourselves fully in the moment so that it can nurture us in return.
Our attention can be pulled in many directions, not only in our own lives, but by advertising, media, and the hustle and bustle of our surroundings. But when we take the time to listen to our inner guidance and focus our thoughts on the goals that resonate the most strongly within us, the rest of the world will fade away. This may mean focusing the spotlight of our attention upon developing one aspect of our work, one course of study, or one hobby to pursue in our free time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stay focused on only one thing forever. We may never know which of our interests is best suited to our abilities and heart’s desires unless we give it a proper chance. By being fully present with all that we are and all that we have, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices for our energetic investments.
Because we are multi-faceted beings, we are perpetually involved in many aspects of life in every moment. Our work in the world is necessary to attend to our physical needs, and our relationships are important for our emotional needs, but when we engage our spirit as well, we can choose the area that will nurture body, mind and soul. Staying focused in each moment allows us move with the rhythmic flow of the universe and harmonize all aspects of our being into balanced whole.
Intimacy Without Resposibility
From Intimacy Without Resposibility On-Line Course
by Wendyne Limber
The following is an excerpt from the "Intimacy Without Resposibility" on-line course. If you would like to enroll in the course, click here.
Freedom in relationship is about becoming very clear about your own codependency - the roles (and games) we play with others... your intimate partner as well as family, friends and colleagues.
Who are you when you are in the presence of others? Are you real? Are you hiding your joy, pain, truth, or love. And, what is real love? How can I be in relationship with others and stay true to myself - not FEEL abandoned or enmeshed with the other? And, how can I let go of wanting to save or fix you and just take care of my own SELF... and still feel important, happy and loved?
Having intimacy without responsibility for others is about practicing the art and skill of freedom in relationship... moving toward more love and CARE FOR SELF. We realize that when we truly heal and take care of ALL of our own issues, we are able to love more deeply.
It's also about the mystery and sacred space that relationship takes us. This work honors the universal truth that tells us: Every relationship I have is mirroring something about me that is wanting to come up into consciousness for my healing and transformation... for my wholeness and the evolution of my soul.
AND, Whenever I have a problem or issue with you, I have an opportunity to heal and transform something inside me ... like an unresolved old wound or trauma, something I lost, something I always needed, or something I do not even know!
Soon you will really know that every person you attract in your life is a part of your wholeness, a missing piece of the healing puzzle - that no matter what happens in this relationship, I am healing more because I am choosing to view every part of this relationship as a sacred thing - Yes, I like it.
I Am Speaking My Truth: Principle #1
I Am Here On This Earth For My Own Soul’s Evolution - Not To Take Care Of You
Love is not about taking care of someone else. Even though taking care of someone else could be rewarding, it usually becomes a burden sooner or later. Some people learned to do this because they had to in order to survive. Some children grew up too fast - having to take care of their siblings or emotionally unbalanced parents.
Caretaking can become a disease. Most caretakers become martyrs and eventually become sick or addicted to something to take away the pain. When I care-take someone else, I get to not take care of myself. If I am caretaking, YOU are what I am always thinking about. I begin to worry, control, manipulate and hold in my feelings or I become angry and hurtful. Either way, it does not work and I am not whole.
I am here on this earth for my own soul’s evolution. I am here to take care of ME.
And, I will let YOU take care of yourself. This does not mean that I will not help you or support you. I will figure out HOW to do that in the healthiest way that serves us both.
As I learn to TAKE CARE OF ME, I am actually more free to love you fully. I will not have to be fearful of the time we spend together – knowing that I am not giving away a part of myself. Today I commit to my journey.
Write your answers to the following questions:
Who Am I Care-Taking?
In what way do I do this?
How long have I been trying to take care of other people?
Am I committed to my own soul’s evolution?
For more information visit Intimacy Without Resposibility On-Line Course
Going with the Flow
Working with a Larger Energy
Going with the flow means we are open to multiple ways of getting where we want to be.
The expression going with the flow is a metaphor that applies to navigating a river. When we go with the flow, we follow the current of the river rather than push against it. People who go with the flow may be interpreted as lazy or passive, but to truly go with the flow requires awareness, presence, and the ability to blend one’s own energy with the prevailing energy. Going with the flow doesn’t mean we toss our oars into the water and kick back in the boat, hoping for the best. Going with the flow means we let go of our individual agenda and notice the play of energy all around us. We tap into that energy and flow with it, which gets us going where we need to go a whole lot faster than resistance will.
Going with the flow doesn’t mean that we don’t know where we’re going; it means that we are open to multiple ways of getting there. We are also open to changing our destination, clinging more to the essence of our goal than to the particulars. We acknowledge that letting go and modifying our plans is part of the process. Going with the flow means that we are aware of an energy that is larger than our small selves and we are open to working with it, not against it.
Many of us are afraid of going with the flow because we don’t trust that we will get where we want to go if we do. This causes us to cling to plans that aren’t working, stick to routes that are obstructed, and obsess over relationships that aren’t fulfilling. When you find yourself stuck in these kinds of patterns, do yourself a favor and open to the flow of what is rather than resisting it. Trust that the big river of your life has a plan for you and let it carry you onward. Throw overboard those things that are weighing you down. Be open to revising your maps. Take a deep breath and move into the current.
Fill Yourself from the Inside Out
Tending Your Own Energy Field
The very best way to tend to your own energy field is to spread your own heart light and fill yourself up.
Life presents us with many opportunities to gain mastery in tending our own energy fields. At times we may want to protect ourselves by using energy shields of color, light or angelic presence. Or in order to become more grounded, we may run energy down through our feet or first chakra, rooting ourselves to the earth. Sometimes it’s appropriate to play openly with others in an expansive, flowing state; and at other times, we may want to limit our availability to a chosen few. In certain public environments such as graduation ceremonies, work conventions, or even weddings, it may be important to remain open-hearted and able to connect, while still preventing our individual systems from depletion or overwhelm. In these situations, rather than putting a barrier between ourselves and the world around us, we can fill our energy fields from the inside out. In doing this, we become so filled with our own personal energy that no room is left for outside influences or discordant ener! gy to enter in and affect us.
When you need to connect with people on a one-to-one basis, separate from the bustling environment around you, here is a visualization technique you might try. You can start in the morning and repeat any time as needed. Begin by taking a few moments to breathe deeply and relax. When you are calm and present, envision a ball of light in your solar plexus area just above your belly button. Allow it to build there, growing stronger and stronger. Eventually, allow the light to expand throughout the rest of your body until it fills your entire physical and energetic field.
By filling yourself with your own energy in this way, you become fortified with your own power. You retain access to all of your intuitive and mental abilities. And, you are able to act from a loving space in the midst of any situation.
Opening the Door
Fighting Against Our Gifts
To stop fighting your natural gifts listen to your internal voice and respond to the knocking universe at the door.
As human beings we often have a tendency to fight against using our natural gifts. Many stories of success start with an individual who is ignoring the call of his or her inborn abilities. There are many possible reasons for this resistance, from fear that the calling will be too difficult to a disbelief in the very work one is being asked to do. We may feel too small, too distracted by other people’s ideas about what we should do, or too uninformed. Whatever the case, the resistance to actualizing ourselves has very concrete consequences, and many of us have been called out of hiding by an illness or a twist of fate that unequivocally dismantled our resistance. In other the words, the universe knocks, and if we don’t answer it knocks louder.
For example, if you are meant to be a psychic or a medium, and you aren’t using that gift, you may get headaches. If you are meant to be a healer and are trying to be a lawyer, you may have trouble getting or keeping a job. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a lawyer, but perhaps integrating your gifts into your work is what is calling you. On the other hand, you may simply feel an underlying anxiety that you are not on the right path, doing the right thing. Pay attention to this feeling, and ask for guidance from the universe, being open to all its communications, from subtle internal yearnings to powerful dreams. As you begin to risk opening the door to your natural gifts, your life situation may shift in a powerful way. However, you may find that small steps in the right direction, such as taking a class or setting aside one night a week to paint or write, is enough for now.
The first step on the journey to our calling in life is to listen to our internal voices and respond to the knocking universe at the door. As we do, the symptoms and anxieties that have haunted us will fade into the background, replaced by opportunities, both big and small, to open the door to what we are truly here to do.
Capturing Life’s Flavor
Taking a Field Trip
Adding variety to your life in the form of a field trip can break up the monotony of your days and lead you to adventure.
When we were children, few words were more exciting to hear than the phrase “field trip.” Field trips were a break from schoolwork and an opportunity to go on an adventure with friends. Now that we are grown ups, taking a field trip can be just as fun and memorable – if only we were willing to sign our own permission slips so we could go on one.
Allowing yourself to get stuck in your routine can make life seem boring. Adding a touch of variety to your life in the form of a field trip can break up the monotony of your days and lead you to adventure. Unlike the jaunts that were regulated by teachers or monitored by parents, taking a field trip as an adult can lead you anywhere you want. You can go on a daylong retreat or spend just a few hours at your destination. A field trip can be an opportunity to explore a new landscape or discover something about yourself. Taking a day trip to another town or visiting an unfamiliar spot in your neighborhood can be educational and fun. There is also much to be said for finding a beautiful spot under a tree where you can read a book. You can even go to one of your favorite spots and allow yourself to experience it as if you were visiting there for the first time. Going on a field trip is as much a state of mind as it is a change in the scenery.
During a “grown up” field trip, schedules, clocks, and duties are put aside so you can focus wholeheartedly on mindfully enjoying yourself. Planning a field trip can be almost as fun as going on one. A field trip is an excursion to look forward to and an experience to be savored after the fact. Wherever you decide to go and whatever you decide to do, going on a field trip can add much pleasure and excitement to your life.
Design for Life
Applying Feng Shui in Your Living Room
Address the energy needs of the heart of your home and you will find your home is soon buzzing with a new feeling of harmony.
A well-kept home can be compared to a living being in optimal health—it is fueled by intention, thrives when in balance, and relies on the energy of life itself for sustenance. Feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of harmonious placement, describes the living room as the heart of the home. Maintaining the gentle flow of chi, or life energy, is important since it is the home where members of a family and the larger community come together to engage with one another in fellowship. A living room that is organized and decorated in accordance with the balancing principles of feng shui is inviting, encourages relaxation and conversation, and makes all who enter feel content.
All of this can be accomplished by simply changing the physical and aesthetic character of a room. When its flow is blocked by furniture, walls, or doorways, we tend to feel uneasy and become less satisfied with life as a result. Promoting harmony in a home's living area is simple when it is regarded as both a single, unified space and a collection of smaller regions of space. First, stand in the room's main doorway to examine your living room as a whole. Look for and clear away clutter— the rightmost side of the room can inspire stability in close personal relationships, while tidying the leftmost side will increase your prosperity potential. Release stagnant energy by orienting chairs and sofas in a ring, veiling harsh angles with plants or ornamental screens, and using other furniture to break up direct pathways. A fireplace that serves as the focal point of the room stimulates passion and openness, while sculptures absorb negativity.
If the structural design of your living room does not allow you to decorate in accordance with the principles of feng shui, there are steps you can take to ensure that balance is nonetheless maintained. Mirrors, fountains, chimes, crystals, and aquariums all redirect the flow of chi, while also attracting luck, abundance, and peace. Adding warm colors such as pinks and reds to the living room can be curative even when no other changes are feasible. It does not matter how large or small your living room is, nor how fancy or plain. Address the energy needs of the heart of your home, and you will find your home as a whole is soon imbued with a new harmoniousness that manifests itself indelibly in your existence.
Breathing into Order
Difficult situations are opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.
Sometimes we may feel like there is just too much we need to do. Feeling overwhelmed may make it seem like the universe is picking on us, but the opposite is true: we are only given what we can handle. Difficult situations are opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.
The best place to start is to take a deep breath. As you do, remind yourself that the universe works in perfect order and therefore you can get everything done that needs to get done. As you exhale, release all the details that you have no control over. The universe with it‘s infinite organizing power will orchestrate the right outcome. Anytime stress begins to creep up, remember to breathe through it with these thoughts.
Then, make a list of everything you need to do. Note what needs to be done first, and mark the things others may be able to do for you or with you. Though we often think no one else can do it correctly or well, there are times when it is worth it to exhale, let go of our control, and ask for help from professionals or friends. With the remaining things that feel you must do yourself, take another breath and determine their true importance. Sometimes they are things we’d like to do, but aren’t really necessary. After taking these quick steps, you will find you have a plan laid out, freeing you from frenzied thoughts circling in your head. With calming deep breaths, you are now free to focus more fully on our priorities. Herbal teas or flower remedies along with wise choices about caffeine and food can help keep us from becoming frantic too. But with nothing further from us than our breath, we can breathe in our best intentions and let the rest go with an exhale. Keeping ourse! lves centered and breathing into and through life’s challenges helps us learn what we are truly capable of doing, and we will find we have the ability to rise to any occasion. Remember you aren’t being picked on, and you are never alone.
Feeling Fed Up with Humanity
In the World and in Ourselves
We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer and knowing this allows us to find compassion.
From time to time, we may all feel fed up with humanity, whether it’s from learning about what’s going on around the world, or what’s going on next door. There are always situations that leave us feeling as if people are simply not capable of behaving in a way that is coming from a place of awareness. Often it seems as if people are actually geared to handle things in the worst possible way, repeatedly. At the same time, none of us wants to linger in a judgmental mood about our own species. As a result, we might tend to repress the feelings coming up as we take in the news from the world and the neighborhood.
It is natural to feel let down and disappointed when we see our fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into despondency. As with any emotional response, we honor our feelings by feeling them fully, without judging or acting on them. Once we’ve done that—and we may need to do it every day, as part of our daily self-care—we can begin to consider ways that we might help the situation in which humanity finds itself.
As always, we start with ourselves, utilizing our awareness of the failings of others to renew our own commitment to be more conscious human beings. We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and remembering this keeps us in check, as well as allowing us to find compassion for others. We may find ourselves feeling compelled to serve people who are suffering injustices at the hands of other people, or we may begin to speak out when we see something that we don’t think is right. Whatever the case, the only thing we can do is pledge to serve the best, rather than the worst, of what humanity has to offer, both in the world, and in ourselves.
Setting the Tone
Starting Your Day Well
A gentle, reflective, and thoughtful morning will prepare you to create a gentle, conscious, and thoughtful day.
The choices you make upon waking can have a profound impact on your day. If, still drowsy, you hit the ground running, rushing to prepare yourself to face your worldly obligations, you will likely feel fatigued and overwhelmed for most of your day. A leisurely and relaxing morning, on the other hand, can energize and excite you, as well as give you the courage to meet the challenges waiting for you. By beginning your day in a focused and centered fashion, you make it your own. You set the tone of your expectations and choose the mood you will use to respond to your circumstances. A gentle, reflective, and thoughtful morning will prepare you to create a gentle, conscious, and thoughtful day.
The simplest way to eliminate the rush from your morning routine is to rise earlier. Getting children into routines and getting themselves ready as much as possible will also give you more time. Though this may seem like a hardship at first, you will soon grow to love the extra minutes or hours that afford you an opportunity to really enjoy watching the sun come up or connect with your loved ones before you go in your separate directions. There are many more ways you can constructively use the time you gain. A mere half-hour of introspection in which you examine your goals, thank the universe for the richness in your life, and contemplate the blessings you will receive this day can lift your spirit and help you formulate lasting positive expectations. Likewise, you can solidify your day’s intention through spoken affirmations or the words you record in a journal. Or, if you want little more than to enjoy your day, devote a portion of your personal time to activities that bot! h ground and delight you, such as meditation, yoga, chanting, singing, reading, or listening to music. If you feel, however, that there is little room for change in your start-of-the-day routine, try to make each activity you engage in upon waking a ritual in its own right. The time you spend everyday savoring a soothing cup of tea or washing away tension in a hot shower can serve as a potent reminder of the need to care for yourself no matter what the hour.
Your morning is yours and should reflect not only your practical needs but also the needs of your soul. When you center yourself at the start of your day, you will likely find it easier to remain centered during subsequent work, play, and downtime because the overall sense of serenity you create through your choices will stay with you throughout the day.
A Call to Action
Assembling Your Light Team
Assembling a team of angelic helpers and ancestors before you need them can save time and anguish when you need them.
Each of us, whether we realize it or not, moves through life in the company of beings whose task is to watch over us. These ancestors, spirit guides, angels, guardians, and ascended masters designated to serve as protectors and guides take pleasure in their roles yet cannot assist us without first being asked. Since the origins of our sacred sentinels differ, we may choose whom we call upon for help based on the situation at hand. However, in certain circumstances, particularly those in which time is of the essence or there is the potential for harm, we may feel the need to surround ourselves with our entire complement of benevolent, watchful guardians at a moment’s notice. To do so, a great shortcut is to create and assemble a light team—a group of spirit helpers who will come to our aid when we utter a simple word or phrase.
The creation of a light team begins with the dedication of the words that will serve as a shortcut in your time of distress, signaling to your sentinels that you are requesting their support. Meditation, at an altar or otherwise, can help you attract their attention, affording you an opportunity to articulate your desire that they work in tandem in certain instances. Creating a short ceremony in which you surround yourself with objects you associate with the helpers you wish to assign to your light team can ensure that those beings are in attendance as you designate your shortcut. Creating this shortcut is simply a tool. You can employ “light team” as your rallying cry or any other words you feel comfortable using. The numerous guides and guardians that see to your welfare will accept your choice gladly and respond instantaneously when called.
Your light team will be there to assist you in those dangerous, chaotic, or confounding moments when you don’t have the time, energy, or opportunity to center yourself and meditate on individual sentinels. You can also call upon them when seeking guidance that originates from a variety of perspectives. Whether the support they provide comes in the form of guidance or wisdom, their combined presence will give you a sense of security that strengthens you and reminds you that you are never alone.
Intelligence Speaks for Itself
The Fear of Appearing Dumb
In trying to project an image of intelligence, you deny others the opportunity to know the terrific individual you are.
The universal need to be accepted by others can be a barrier that prevents us from being ourselves around them. When we fear that the people we encounter will perceive us as inept or unintelligent, we frequently try to flaunt our grasp of large words or clever witticisms or our professional expertise in an effort to convince them that we are smart and capable. The reasons for feeling this way can be many, and they can often stem from as far back as your childhood. Many women in particular have the fear that they may appear not smart. Yet overcompensating for this fear can have the opposite effect if others are driven away by what they see as an immodest attitude or sense that you are urgently trying to prove yourself. The simple desire to be judged smart by both new and old acquaintances can cause you to reject your true self and adopt an affected persona. But in trying so persistently to project an image of supreme intelligence or capability, you deny others the opportunity! to become acquainted with the real and terrific individual you truly are.
The fear that others will perceive you as unintelligent can further influence your behavior, causing you to consciously avoid speaking your mind or asking questions. You may feel uncomfortable participating in activities if there is a chance that you won’t excel or taking part in discussions with others who may have more knowledge than you. In essence, you become ashamed of who you are and attempt to encase your identity in a veneer that others will find pleasing and impressive. It is, however, a common fear—one experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lives. The simplest way to combat it is to make a personal commitment to being yourself in your home, your workplace, and among strangers. Ask yourself how you believe the individuals you encounter will react should you speak awkwardly, need clarification, or fail to be the best at some activity. By being yourself, you will discover that all people make mistakes and ask questions and that others will like and resp! ect you because they recognize the goodness in your soul.
The fact that you are willing to be yourself, letting your many affirmative attributes express themselves naturally, will help you make a positive first impression on everyone you meet and earn the esteem of your family and friends. Your confidence and easygoing manner will say, - this is who I am and I am proud of the person I have become.
When we are flexible we allow for situations we could not have planned and so the world continues to surprise and delight us.
Flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking, as well as a continual willingness to change or be changed in order to accommodate new circumstances. People with flexible minds are open to shifting their course when necessary or useful; they are not overly attached to things going the way they had planned. This enables them to take advantage of opportunities that a more rigid person would miss out on. It can also make life a lot more fun. When we are flexible, we allow for situations we could not have planned, and so the world continues to surprise and delight us.
Since reality is in a constant state of flux, it doesn’t make sense to be rigid or to cling to any one idea of what is happening or what is going to happen. We are more in tune with reality when we are flexible. Being in tune enables us to adjust to the external environment and other people as they change and grow. When we are rigid or stuck in our ways, instead of adjusting to the world around us we hunker down, clinging to a concept of reality rather than reality itself. When we do this, we cut ourselves off from life, and we miss out on valuable opportunities, as well as a lot of joy.
Just as we create flexibility in our bodies by stretching physically, we can create limberness in our minds by stretching mentally. Every day we have the opportunity to exercise our flexibility. We can do this in small ways such as taking a different route home from work or changing our exercise routine. On a larger scale, we can rearrange the furniture or redo a room in our house. If these are things we already do regularly, we can stretch our minds by imagining several different possibilities for how the next year will unfold. As we do this, our minds become more supple and open, and when changes come our way, we are able to accommodate and flow with the new reality.
The Good in All
We can see the good in all when we come from a place of serenity and looking deeply within.
Sometimes we find it difficult to see the good in people, places, or situations that aren’t to our liking. We focus on the things we don’t like in our lives as a way of fueling our efforts to create change. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and it is one way we make progress. However, if we get too caught up in this way of looking at the world, we lose touch with our ability to sit back and simply say yes to everything on our plates, which is the true starting point for all successful activity. Sometimes what we really need is to encourage ourselves to look deeply into all things in our lives to see the inherent goodness at the heart of everything.
At the core of this inquiry is the practice of unconditional acceptance, which can be scary because we feel as if we are being asked not to change the things we don’t like. But when we think this way, we are still operating on the surface of our lives. In order to feel the beauty and warmth of full acceptance, we have to be willing to sink deeper into the stratum underlying the external manifestation of our lives. This deeper place of being is the origin of all lasting change, yet its paradox is that when we are in it, we often don’t feel the need to change anything. From this place, we experience the pure beauty of the process of being alive, and we see that all things change in their own time. We don’t need to force anything. If there are things that we do need to change, from this place of serenity we create the shift easily, our hands guided by an energy that resides at the very center of our hearts.
In our active, goal-oriented culture, we learn to distrust stillness and to engage in busywork on the surface of life. This tendency can blind us to the good that lies at the heart of all things. But all we have to do to see again is stop for a moment, let go of our preconceptions and our agendas, and settle into the very center of our hearts, remembering that it is only from here that we can truly see.
It’s Never Too Late
Getting Back to What You Love
Forgetting about what you love to do can be a form of self-sabotage - get back to what you love.
There are times in life when we are committed to pursuing our passions. Every molecule in our body is focused on doing what we love. At other times, necessity and responsibility dictate that we put our dreams aside and do what needs to be done. It is during these moments that we may choose to forget what it is that we love to do. There are many other reasons for why we may leave our passions behind. A hobby may lose its appeal once we’ve realize it will never turn into our dream job. Someone important to us may keep telling us that our passions are childish and unsuitable – until we finally believe them.
Forgetting about what you love to do can be a form of self-sabotage. If you can forget about your dreams, then you never have to risk failure. But just because we’ve decided to ignore our passions doesn’t mean they no longer exist. Nothing can fill the emptiness that remains in a space vacated by a passion that we have tossed aside. Besides, life is too short to stop doing what you love, and it is never too late to rediscover your favorite things. If you gave up playing an instrument, painting, drawing, spending time in nature, or any other activity or interest that you once loved to do, now may be the time to take up that passion again. If you don’t remember what it is that you used to be passionate about, you may want to think about the activities or interests that you used to love or the dreams that you always wished you could pursue.
You don’t have to neglect your responsibilities to pursue your passions, and you don’t have to neglect your commitments to do what you love. When you make an effort to incorporate your interests into your life, the fire within you ignites. You feel excited, inspired, and fed by the flames that are sparked by living your life with passion for what you love.
An Empowered Perspective
Importance of Forgiveness
Learning to forgive is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
When someone has hurt us, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most difficult things we have to face in resolving the situation is the act of forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier not to forgive and that the answer is to simply cut the person in question out of our lives. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the right thing to do, but even in that case, we will only be free if we have truly forgiven. If we harbor bitterness in our hearts against anyone, we only hurt ourselves because we are the ones harboring the bitterness. Choosing to forgive is choosing to alleviate ourselves of that burden, choosing to be free of the past, and choosing not to perceive ourselves as victims.
One of the reasons that forgiveness can be so challenging is that we feel we are condoning the actions of the person who caused our suffering, but this is a misunderstanding of what is required. In order to forgive, we simply need to get to a place where we are ready to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, and our forgiveness of others is an extension of our readiness to let go of our own pain. Getting to this point begins with fully accepting what has happened. Through this acceptance, we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.
It can be helpful to articulate our feelings in writing over a period of days or even weeks. As we allow ourselves to say what we need to say and ask for what we need to heal, we will find that this changes each day. It may be confusing, but it is a sign of progress. At times we may feel as if we are slogging uphill through dense mud and thick trees, getting nowhere. If we keep going, however, we will reach a summit and see clearly that we are finally free of the past. From here, we recognize that suffering comes from suffering, and compassion for those who have hurt us naturally arises, enhancing our new perspective.
by Madisyn Taylor
We all want to push the fast-forward button, but in these times is where we find the juice stuff.
We all go through times when we wish we could press a fast-forward button and propel ourselves into the future and out of our current circumstances. Whether the situation we are facing is minor, or major such as the loss of a loved one, it is human nature to want to move away from pain and find comfort as soon as possible. Yet we all know deep down that we need to work through these experiences in a conscious fashion rather than bury our heads in the sand, because these are the times when we access important information about ourselves and life. The learning process may not be easy, but it is full of lessons that bring us wisdom we cannot find any other way.
The desire to press fast-forward can lead to escapism and denial, both of which only prolong our difficulties and in some cases make them worse. The more direct, clear, and courageous we are in the face of whatever we are dealing with, the more quickly we will move through the situation. Understanding this, we may begin to realize that trying to find the fast-forward button is really more akin to pressing pause. When we truly grasp that the only way out of any situation in which we find ourselves is to go through it, we stop looking for ways to escape and we start paying close attention to what is happening. We realize that we are exactly where we need to be. We remember that we are in this situation in order to learn something we need to know, and we can alleviate some of our pain with the awareness that there is a purpose to our suffering.
When you feel the urge to press the fast-forward button, remember that you are not alone; we all instinctively avoid pain. But in doing so, we often prolong our pain and delay important learning. As you choose to move forward in real time, know that in the long run, this is the least painful way to go.
Healing What Hurts
Freeing Up Energy
The longer we sit on pain the harder it is to allow it to surface and begin healing.
Many of us are going through our lives aware of a well of pain underlying our daily awareness that we’ve felt for so long we aren’t even sure where it comes from. It almost seems as if it’s part of who we are, or the way we see the world, but it’s important to realize that this pain is something that needs to be acknowledged and processed. The longer we sit on it, the harder it is to work through, and the more likely it is that we will be forced to acknowledge it as it makes itself known to us in ways we can’t predict. Rather than waiting for this to happen, we can empower ourselves by identifying the pain and resolving to take action toward healing it.
The very thought of this brings up feelings of resistance in most of us, especially if, on the surface, our lives seem to be in order. It’s difficult to dig up the past and go into it unless we are being seriously inconvenienced by the hurt. The thing is, when we are carrying the burden of our unprocessed pain, sooner or later, it will inconvenience us. If we can be brave and proactive, we can save ourselves a lot of future suffering and free up the energy that is tied up in keeping the pain down.
There are many ways to do this, but the first step is to recognize the pain and honor it by moving our awareness into it. In this process, even if it’s just five minutes during meditation, we will begin to have a sense of what the pain is made of. It might be fear of abandonment, childhood abuse, anger at being mistreated, or some other long held wound. As we sit with the pain, we will also have a sense of whether we can deal with it by ourselves, or not. It may be time to work with a counselor, or form a healing circle with close friends. Whatever path you choose, resolve to go deep into the pain, so that you can release it fully, and set yourself free. Remember, it is never too late in life to heal what hurts, and there is never a better time than now.
Creating Connections while Apart
Create a ceremony around nature to connect with loved ones that are far away.
Life’s journeys may sometimes take us away from our families and friends, but there are many ways to stay connected. Aside from making use of the technology available—speaking on the phone or seeing each other from across cyberspace—we can create simple ceremonies using nature and our own thoughts to connect our hearts across the miles.
The first step in creating your ceremony is to look to nature for similarities in the different surroundings. The second step is agreeing upon something that is meaningful to all involved. If your mother loves birds, then perhaps each time you hear a bird chirp, you can think of her and mentally send love. You may choose the sight of a butterfly, the feel of a breeze or raindrops, or the scent of flowers to remind you of a special someone. The pink glow of sunset might be your favorite time to send a thought, or perhaps the warming oranges of sunrise. We can all see the sun, the moon, and an array of twinkling stars when we look to the skies. The monthly full moon may be your time to connect with your loved ones, or the first star you see each night, knowing that they, too, are gazing into the night sky and sending love. You could choose a day that you would usually celebrate together, such as a holiday or a solstice. If you once shared Sunday brunches in the garden, you can! each seek out a garden on Sundays. Or you can choose a specific time and account for the time difference in order to connect by heart and mind at exactly the same moment.
With practice, we may learn to recognize the feeling that comes when a loved one sends energy our way, and the feeling of soul-to-soul communication. In this case, distance may indeed make our connections stronger. There is certainly much to make us think of our close friends and loved ones often, but when we decide upon a reminder together, we create a simple ceremony of connection that defies any distance.
Choose Your Words
All you have to do is speak or read the word failure and see how it makes you feel.
The word failure puts forward a very simplistic way of thinking that allows for only two possibilities: failure or success. Few things in the universe are black and white, yet much of our language reads as if they are. The word failure signifies a paradigm in which all subtlety is lost. When we regard something we have done, or ourselves, as a failure, we lose our ability to see the truth, which is no doubt considerably more complex. In addition, we hurt ourselves. All you have to do is speak or read the word failure and see how it makes you feel.
At some point, the word may not have been so loaded with the weight of negativity, and it simply referred to something that did not go according to plan. Unfortunately, in our culture it is often used very negatively, such as when a person is labeled a failure, even though it is impossible for something as vast and subtle as a human being to be reduced in such a way. It also acts as a deterrent, scaring us from taking risks for fear of failure. It has somehow come to represent the worst possible outcome. Failure is a word so burdened with fearful and unconscious energy that we can all benefit from consciously examining our use of it, because the language we use influences the way we think and feel.
Next time you feel like a failure or fear failure, know that you are under the influence of an outmoded way of perceiving the world. When the world failure comes up, it’s a call for us to apply a more enlightened consciousness to the matter at hand. When you are consciously aware of the word and its baggage you will not fall victim to its darkness. In your own use of language, you may choose to stop using the word failure altogether. This might encourage you to articulate more clearly the truth of the situation, opening your mind to subtleties and possibilities the word failure would never have allowed.
Finding Joy in Life’s Surprises
Releasing Your Expectations
When we expect a situation to unfold in a certain way, it becomes more difficult to enjoy the surprises.
As we endeavor to find personal fulfillment and realize our individual ideals, we naturally form emotional attachments to those outcomes we hope will come to pass. These expectations can serve as a source of stability, allowing us to draft plans based on our visions of the future, but they can also limit our potential for happiness by blinding us to equally satisfying yet unexpected outcomes. Instead of taking pleasure in the surprising circumstances unfolding around us, we mourn for the anticipation left unfulfilled. When we think of letting go of our expectations, we may find ourselves at the mercy of a small inner voice that admonishes us to strive for specific goals, even if they continually elude us. However, the opposite of expectation is not pessimism. We can retain our optimism and free ourselves from the need to focus on specific probabilities by opening our hearts and minds to a wide variety of possible outcomes.
When we expect a situation, event, or confrontation to unfold in a certain way, it becomes more difficult to enjoy the surprises that have the potential to become profound blessings. Likewise, we may feel that we failed to meet our inner objectives because we were unable to bring about the desired results through our choices and actions. Consider, though, that we are all at the mercy of the universal flow, and our best intentions are often thwarted by fate. As you grow increasingly open to unforeseen outcomes, you will be more apt to look for and recognize the positive elements of your new circumstances. This receptivity to the unexpected can serve you well when you are called upon to compromise with others, your life plans seem to go awry, or the world moves forward in an unanticipated manner by granting you the flexibility to see the positive aspects of almost any outcome.
The further you distance yourself from your expectations, the more exhilarating your life will become. Though a situation in which you find yourself may not correspond to your initial wants, needs, or goals, ask yourself how you can make the most of it and then do your best to adapt. Your life’s journey will likely take many unpredicted and astonishing twists because you are willing to release your expectations.
Capturing the Thrill
Do What Excites You
Try to start bringing some excitement into your life as often as possible and drop the fear.
Each human life has the potential to be dramatic, thrilling, and awe-inspiring. Our lives are, in truth, ours to design. Each day, we make choices that influence the character of our experiences, and our decisions determine whether our paths are rousing or tedious, breathtaking or tiresome. We can create an exciting life by simply doing what excites us whenever the opportunity presents itself. Your passions may ebb and flow, and what excites you one year may not excite you the next, but when you make excitement a regular part of your existence, life becomes more fun and more fulfilling.
If you are somebody that tends to live practically, excitement may overwhelm you at first. To ease the anxiety that prevents you from incorporating all that you find exciting into your life, acknowledge that you are alive right now in this time and every moment matters. When you choose to do more of what excites you, even if your choices requires you to make certain sacrifices, your daily life will soon be imbued with exhilaration, pleasure, and optimistic anticipation.
To understand what excites you, you may need to observe and ponder your reaction to the activities, events, circumstances, and concepts that make up your life. What makes your pulse race, what makes you want to get out of your chair and take action? Try to avoid getting too wrapped up in life’s details; their tedium may cause you to plod through your existence unaware of prospective excitement. Once you have created a substantial list of what excites you, find ways to integrate each item into your routine. You will soon find yourself riding a wave of excitement that lifts you up and makes life truly worth living. What excites you in your life?
Self-Examination at Depth
To reach the depth we wish to access, we must dive below these layers to the deepest parts of ourselves.
There are times when life urges us to seek more. Small changes to our comfort zone may fail to alleviate any sense of stagnancy or frustration, and we may need to examine our lives and ourselves more deeply to find the right place to start. Everything we need for success and joy lies within. But so often, life’s debris accumulates, building layers around our core that makes it difficult to access the truth that resides within. To reach the depth we wish to access, we must dive below these layers to the deepest parts of ourselves.
The first layer can be found in our minds. Our to-do lists and busy work are usually less important than we think, so we must look past them to examine the thoughts that matter most to us. The next layer can be found in our hearts, where past hurts and disappointments can sometimes cover up our vulnerabilities, as well as the truth of who and what really stirs the love within us. We can choose to go even deeper – to our center. If we can go beyond anything has affected us to the point that it blocks us at the gut level, we can reconnect with our power, our raw instincts, our organic yeses. Here, at the core, lies our truth. Our core is our foundation that supports us and what we’d like to build our authentic life upon.
When we examine ourselves to these depths, we are able to find what we wish to bring to the surface and what we wish to let go. When we remember what lies beneath our layers, we can look at what was floating on the surface, causing blocks and pains, and understand the purpose that they served. Oftentimes, it is the built up debris that causes us to go deeper, so we can search for the truth. Go deep, live life from your truth within, and watch your innate beauty manifest outward.
Appreciating What Is
Enjoying Your Age
Try to enjoy the age you are at now, for each age presents its own unique wisdom to savor.
In each stage of life, there are wonderful experiences one can savor and valuable insights one can absorb. Every new decade and, in fact, every new year brings with it wisdom, transformation, and growth, as well as ends and beginnings. Many people, however, believe that there is one age that eclipses the others. They expend energy trying to reach it and, once it has passed, trying to retain it. But wishing to be younger or older is a denial of the joys that have been and the joys yet to be, as well as the beauty of your life in the present. Holding on to one age can make it difficult to appreciate each new milestone you reach. Taking pleasure in the delights of your age, whether you are in your 20s, 40s, 60s, or 80s, can help you see the magnificence and usefulness of the complex seasons of your life.
Each new year gifted to us by the universe is replete with exciting and unfamiliar experiences. In our 20s, we can embrace the energy of youth and the learning process, knowing it’s okay to not have all the answers. As we move through our third decade, we grow more self-assured as the confusion of our young adulthood melts away. We can honor these years by putting aside our fears of aging and concentrating instead on solidifying our values and enjoying our growing emotional maturity. In our 40s, we become conscious of the wisdom we have attained through life experience and are blessed with the ability to put it to good use. We are not afraid to explore unfamiliar territory or to change. In our 50s, we tend to have successfully navigated our midlife reevaluations and have prioritized our lives. In the decades beyond, we discover a greater sense of freedom than we have ever known and can truly enjoy the memory of all we’ve seen and done.
Try to enjoy the age you are at now, for each age presents its own unique wisdom to savor.
The Day’s Closing
Evening time is often overlooked in our busy lives, but is an important time of day for reflection on our day's actions.
From the beginning of time, a richly colored twinge of dusk touching the eastern horizon, the lengthening of shadows, and the appearance of the evening’s first star have let us know that it was time to rest, relax, and retire from the pressures of the day. For human beings and other living things that tend to be most active in daylight, evenings can be less hectic and more relaxing, as we prepare for sleep and spend quality time with our loved ones. But evenings are about much more than dinner and the feel of a cool, soft pillow. Evenings are a wonderful time to catalog the events of the day without distraction, to revel in gentle solitude or silence, to end the day in serenity, and to commune with your inner self.
There are many ways to turn the evening into a nurturing and soul enriching experience. A simple stroll through the realms of dusk and darkness can show you two different worlds: one winding down and one just coming to life. In the evening, the sounds we humans make begin to diminish, and the sounds of earth’s more nocturnal creatures and nature itself become more apparent. As night slowly falls, scents change, and the smell of the soil and greenery become magnified. Sky gazing in the evenings can be a meditative activity – one that reminds us that we are only one part of an infinitely complex and vast universe. Each night, the different phases of the moon show us the passage of time and the waxing and waning of life, as its glowing visage – whether in the shape of a circle, crescent, or a smile –bathes the world in an ethereal, wistful glow.
As crickets chirp and night birds cry out, evening rituals and routines can make your day feel complete, help you unwind from the day’s busyness, and pave the way for rejuvenating sleep. Rituals and routines help you say goodnight to the present day, so you can look forward to the next one. While the sun sets, try doing a series of stretches, lighting some candles, or watching the daylight fade. The soothing, natural beauty of each evening can be your backdrop, as you meditate, quiet your soul, and relax into the peace and stillness that can be found at day’s end.
Protecting Your Flow
How Fear Blocks Creativity
When we are feeling creatively blocked, it is usually our own fear that is creating that block.
To understand how fear blocks creativity, take a moment to imagine yourself telling a story. First, imagine telling the story to someone you love and who loves you. You probably feel warmth and energy as you fill in the details of your tale to your friend’s delight. Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The wonderful twists and turns, the fine points and colorful images that unfolded in your mind for your friend probably won’t present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy, and creativity, you will probably feel opposite sensations and a desire to close down. When we feel unsafe, whether we fear being judged, disliked, or misunderstood, our creative flow stops. Alternately, when we feel safe, our creativity unfolds like a beautiful flower, without conscious effort.
Knowing this, we can maximize our creative potential by creating the conditions that inspire our creativity. In order to really be in the flow, we need to feel safe and unrestricted. However, achieving this is not as simple as avoiding people who make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we can be alone in a room and still feel totally blocked. When this happens, we know we have come up against elements in our own psyches that are making us feel fearful. Perhaps we are afraid that in expressing ourselves we will discover something we don’t want to know, or unleash emotions or ideas that we don’t want to be responsible for. Or maybe we’re afraid we’ll fail to produce something worthy.
When you’re up against fear, internal or external, ritual can be a powerful—and creative—antidote. Before you sit down to be creative, try casting a circle of protection around yourself. Visualize yourself inside a ring of light, protective fire, or angels. Imagine that this protective energy emanates unconditional love for you and wants to hear, see, and feel everything you have to express. Take a moment to bathe in the warmth of this feeling and then fearlessly surrender yourself to the power that flows through you
Enlightenment at Home
Right Where We Are
Not everyone will feel the need to travel afar to become enlightened as that can happen right where you are.
Many spiritual seekers feel called to far-flung places across the globe in the interest of pursuing the path of their enlightenment. This may indeed be the right course of action for certain people, but it is by no means necessary to attaining an enlightened consciousness. Enlightenment can take root anywhere on earth, as long as the seeker is an open and ready vessel for higher consciousness. All we need is a powerful intention, and a willingness to do the work necessary to moving forward on our path.
In terms of spiritual practice, at this moment, there are more tools available to more people than at any other time in history. We have access to so much wisdom through the vehicles of books, magazines, the Internet, television, and film. In addition, the time-honored practice of meditation is free, and sitting quietly everyday, listening to the universe, is a great way to start the journey within. There is further inspiration in the fact that the greatest teachers we have are our own life experiences, and they come to us every day with new lessons and new opportunities to learn. If we look at the people around us, we may realize that we have a spiritual community already intact, and if we don’t, we can find one, if not in our own neighborhood, then on-line.
Meanwhile, if we feel called to travel in search of teachers and experiences, then by all means, we should. But if we can’t go to India, or Burma, or Indonesia, or if we don’t have the desire, this is not an obstacle in terms of our spiritual development. In fact, we may simply be aware that our time and energy is best spent in our own homes, with our meditation practice and all the complications and joys of our own lives. We can confidently stay in one place, knowing that everything that we need to attain enlightenment is always available right where we are.
Everything is Relative
Pain is pain and yours is not greater than or less than anybody else's pain and deserves to be acknowledged as such.
Every day we hear stories of personal suffering and loss that far exceed our own. When we compare our situations to those of people living in war-torn countries or those who have lost their homes and livelihoods to natural disasters, it is tempting to minimize our own experiences of suffering. We may feel that we don’t have a right to be upset about the breakup of a relationship, for example, because at least we have food to eat and a roof over our heads.
While awareness of the pain of others in the world can be a valuable way to keep our own struggles in perspective, it is not a legitimate reason to disregard our own pain. Disparaging your feelings as being less important than other people's emotions leads to denial and repression. Over time, an unwillingness to experience your own feelings leads to numbness. It is as if our internal systems become clogged with our unexpressed emotions. This in no way helps other people who are suffering in the world. In fact, it may do just the opposite because when we devalue our own sorrow, we become impervious to the sorrow in others.
Fully experiencing our own hurt is the gateway to compassion toward other human beings. Feelings of loss, abandonment, loneliness, and fear are universal, and, in that sense, all feelings are created equal. Regardless of what leads us to feel the way we do, our comprehension of what it means to be human is deepened by our own experiences. Our personal lives provide us with the material we need to become fully conscious. If we reject our emotions because we think our experiences are not dramatic or important enough, we are missing out on our own humanity. We honor and value the human condition when we fully inhabit our bodies so we can experience and feel life fully. Accepting our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel them connects us to all human beings. Then, when we hear the stories of other people’s suffering, our hearts can resonate with understanding and compassion—for all of us.
Shifting with the Tide
With each moment, we are given opportunities to create change using nothing more than our awareness.
Since our lives are constantly in motion energetically, change is a constant element of our existence. As dynamic as that energy is, it is not random or haphazard in nature—the shifts in energy that are constantly taking place are the result of our choices. The formulation of intention, a change in perspective, or the creation of a goal can transform our lives in blink of an eye. We think positive thoughts and the world becomes a brighter place. Or we decide who we want to be and become that person. With each passing moment, we are given innumerable opportunities to create change using nothing more than our awareness.
In the span of a single second, our lives can change immeasurably because energy moves at a pace more rapid than anything we can consciously fathom. Though we may not at first be sensitive to the vibrational shifts taking place, our choices are ultimately at the heart of these transformations. We can typically recognize the consequences of key decisions because we anticipated the resultant energetic shifts. But many, if not most, of the choices we make each day are a product of instantaneous reactions, and these still have a significant impact on the energy of our existence. It is for this reason that we should learn to wield what control we can over these shifts. If we bear in mind that all we think and all we do will shape the existence we know, we can deliberately direct the energetic motion of our lives.
Each day, you make an infinite array of decisions that cause energy shifts in the world around you. In many cases, these transitions are almost imperceptible, while in others the change that takes place is palpable not only to you but also to those in your sphere of influence. Your awareness of the immediate energetic consequences of your thoughts and actions can guide you as you endeavor to make the most of the autonomy that defines you as an individual. The myriad choices you make from moment to moment, however inconsequential they may seem, represent your personal power, which sanctions you to transform the energetic tide of your existence with nothing more than your will.
Knowing When to Let Someone Go
Knowing when to let somebody go and leave a relationship is a true act of self-love.
Just as a good relationship can have a positive impact on your life, stressful, draining, or imbalanced relationships can have negative effects on your health and well-being. It’s common to maintain a relationship because we feel the other person needs us or we believe that they will eventually change. We may also be afraid of hurting the other person or feel insecure in our ability to find new relationships. But knowing when to end a relationship and acknowledging that the pain will pass can often prevent greater pain and feelings of loss in the long run.
If you’re in a relationship that isn’t satisfying or one that has become unhealthy for you, rather than spending energy attempting to fix the problem or complaining, ask yourself what you really want from the relationship. Consider whether the other person truly considers your feelings or if they are willing to change their behavior. Ask yourself if you’ve often thought about ending the relationship or if you feel your bonds have atrophied. While every relationship has ups and downs, when there are more downs than ups or the two of you are bringing out the worst in each other, it may be time to sever the connection. Be honest with yourself and your answers, even if the truth is painful.
Relationships thrive on honesty, communication, mutual caring, and time spent together. When one or more of these elements are missing, it may be that the relationship, no matter how passionate, simply isn’t worth it. It’s far better to end a relationship that doesn’t feel right than to hold on to it and languish in feelings of anger or resentment. Moving on without struggle, on the other hand, can be the door that leads you to a more nurturing relationship in the future.
The Changing Nest
Being a parent never ends, it only transitions throughout our lives together assuming new and exciting roles.
Once individuals become parents, they are parents forevermore. Their identities change perceptively the moment Mother Nature inaugurates them mom or dad. Yet the role they undertake when they welcome children into their lives is not a fixed one. As children move from one phase of their lives to the next, parental roles change. When these transitions involve a child gaining independence, many parents experience an empty nest feeling. Instead of feeling proud that their children have achieved so much—whether the flight from the nest refers to the first day of kindergarten or the start of college&mdasharents feel they are losing a part of themselves. However, when approached thoughtfully, this new stage of parental life can be an exciting time in which mothers and fathers rediscover themselves and relate to their children in a new way.
As children earn greater levels of independence, their parents often gain unanticipated freedom. Used to being depended upon by and subject to the demands of their children, parents sometimes forget that they are not only mom or dad but also individuals. As the nest empties, parents can alleviate the anxiety and sadness they feel by rediscovering themselves and honoring the immense strides their children have made in life. The simplest way to honor a child undergoing a transition is to allow that child to make decisions and mistakes appropriate to their level of maturity. Freed from the role of disciplinarian, parents of college-age children can befriend their offspring and undertake an advisory position. Those with younger children beginning school or teenagers taking a first job can plan a special day in which they express their pride and explain that they will always be there to offer love and support.
An empty nest can touch other members of the family unit as well. Young people may feel isolated or abandoned when their siblings leave the nest. As this is normal, extra attention can help them feel more secure in their newly less populated home. Spouses with more leisure time on their hands may need to relearn how to be best friends and lovers. Other family members will likely grieve less when they understand the significance of the child’s new phase of life. The more parents both celebrate and honor their children’s life transitions, the less apprehension the children will feel. Parents who embrace their changing nest while still cherishing their offspring can look forward to developing deeper, more mature relationships with them in the future.
Together on Earth
Seeing the Bigger Picture
When we see a photo of our earth from space, it is hard to feel ourselves as being separate from all others.
Seeing an image of the planet Earth taken from space inspires awe in many of us, since we can clearly see the connectedness of all of us who live upon this planet. We have created imaginary boundaries, sectioning ourselves into countries and states, forgetting that in reality we are all living together, breathing the same air, drinking from the same water, eating food grown from the same earth. We share everything on this planet, whether we are conscious of it or not, with other people, and those people are our brothers and sisters. Keeping a photograph or painting of the planet Earth in a prominent place in our homes can be a positive way to remember our interconnectedness.
Meditating on the fact that any sense of separation we have from one another is truly an illusion, we will naturally begin to make more conscious choices in our daily lives. The simple act of preparing food, or determining how to dispose of our refuse, can be done with the consciousness that whatever we do will affect all our brothers and sisters, no matter how far away they live, as well as the planet herself. When we foster this kind of awareness in ourselves out of a feeling of awe, it becomes easier to be conscious than to fall back into old habits of thinking of ourselves as separate.
When we contemplate the earth in her wholeness, we attune ourselves to the truth of the bigger picture, which is the Earth, and all of us, every one of us, living on her body. We are connected to one another in the most intimate way, because we literally share our living space. As more people become aware of the reality of our interdependency, things will shift in a positive direction, and much of the discord that we see now will give way to a more cooperative, loving conscious. This is happening already, so as our consciousness grows, we can join with the many other minds working to live in the spirit of togetherness.
Embracing the Disinherited
The Elderly Population
An important part of our culture, our elderly, are almost always undervalued and underutilized - for they have much to offer.
In tribal cultures, the elderly play an important role. They are the keepers of the tribe’s memories and the holders of wisdom. As such, the elderly are honored and respected members of tribes. In many modern cultures, however, this is often not the case. Many elderly people say that they feel ignored, left out, and disrespected. This is a sad commentary on modernization, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change this situation by taking the time to examine our attitudes about the elderly and taking action.
Modern societies tend to be obsessed with the ideas of newness, youth, and progress. Scientific studies tell us how to do everything – from the way we should raise our kids to what we need to eat for breakfast. As a result, the wisdom that is passed down from older generations is often disregarded. Of course, grandparents and retired persons have more than information to offer the world. Their maturity and experience allows for a larger perspective of life, and we can learn a lot from talking to elderly people. It’s a shame that society doesn’t do more to allow our older population to continue to feel productive for the rest of their lives, but you can help to make change. Perhaps you could help facilitate a mentorship program that would allow children to be tutored by the elderly in retirement homes. The elderly make wonderful storytellers, and creating programs where they could share their real life experiences with others is another way to educate and inspire other genera! tions.
Take stock of your relationships with the elderly population. Maybe you don’t really listen to them because you hold the belief that their time has passed and they are too old to understand what you are going through. You may even realize that you don’t have any relationships with older people. Try to understand why and how our cultural perception of the elderly influences the way you perceive them. Look around you and reach out to someone who is elderly – even if you are just saying hello and making small talk. Resolve to be more aware of the elderly. They are our mentors, wise folk, and the pioneers that came before us and paved the way for our future.
Finding Our Own Paths
There is no one right path to awareness and each of us has our own path that is perfect for us.
Entering into our own spirituality is a private journey. Each of us will be drawn to a different gateway to begin on our personal path to awakening to a greater experience of ourselves. Even though we may be taught certain philosophies or beliefs as children, we still need to find our own way of understanding and applying them in our lives. For those who are raised without a spiritual framework, they may not even know their process as a form of spirituality. But at some stage in their lives, whether in youth or adulthood, they are likely to recognize the resonance of their beliefs, the ring of truth in their philosophy, and their dedication to their chosen purpose.
Our inner guidance will lead us, so that we will be drawn to the right doorway for us--a doorway that only we can recognize by the way it makes us feel inside. It could be a picture of an angel or the gift of a crystal. We may meet someone special who shares their experiences with us in a way that we find intriguing. While visiting the home of an admired friend, we may notice a book or statue of a diety, and ask why they chose those tools. Or a word or phrase may catch our attention in a song, or a lecture. For some they may find their way by walking through the experience of illness before they begin the search for what will help them to truly heal, while others may seek physical improvement and stumble across yoga or meditation--only to find that it leads them to an unexpected place beyond the body.
As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us.
Raising Our Consciousness
Stepping out from Where We Were
We cannot gain a sense of power in our lives while identifying ourselves as a victim.
Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” A Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein’s scientific theories transformed the world’s understanding of the universe and its workings, so we can believe that these words come from his personal experience and helped him to explore both science and life itself. He offered us an example of what can be learned by looking deeply into nature to reach a deeper understanding of all life and by following our ideas to their logical conclusions in our minds before acting upon them in the world.
When we apply this quote to our lives, we can see that we cannot create abundance by staying in a consciousness of poverty, nor can we gain a sense of power in our lives while identifying ourselves as a victim. Situations begun from anger or fear can have little chance of reaching a state of peace and trust unless someone involved can conceive of that possibility and act upon it. We need to find ways to step outside of our limited understanding in order to seek a bigger picture. One way to do this is to shift our perspective to see the situation from another’s point of view and ideally the perspective of all others involved. Even if we can’t truly know another’s motivations, by imagining what they might be, we open ourselves up to numerous possibilities and an expanded vision. This alone can shift our feelings of anger to compassion and the desire for a positive solution for all involved.
Once we have opened our mind to greater possibilities, we can connect to our higher self for inspired solutions. From the peace at our center, we gain distance from our emotions to connect to intuitive wisdom that offers us understanding of the underlying causes and the inspiration needed to guide our steps in a new direction. Albert Einstein showed us the impact that can be made when we raise our consciousness and allow ourselves to imagine the possibilities.
Co-Creating with Nature
When we decide to give up control of our garden and work in cooperation with the earth, your garden and your life will blossom.
Gardens offer us a perfect opportunity to reconnect to our true selves and remember our place in the natural world. Rather than approach our gardens as mere investments of energy, we can look at the entire process of gardening, from planting seeds to harvesting food, as a way of deepening our conscious relationship with the creative force of the universe. If we are willing to shift our intention from dominating, or at least directing nature, to co-creating with nature instead, we may discover a deep peace and renewed sense of wonder.
To co-create we must first begin with a foundation of mutual respect. As you create your garden in partnership with nature, you can respect the earth, water, insects and animals by using organic seeds, soil and fertilizers. You can also communicate with the plants, insects and elements involved in your garden, and create a regular practice of stillness to listen for any messages they may have for you. When it comes time for harvesting fresh vegetables or picking beautiful blooms, you might even ask permission first. If you ask with an open heart, you will always receive an answer.
Imagine what it would be like to surrender certain aspects of your human world to the precision and surety of the natural environment. You might decide, for example, to forego your calendar and plant in rhythm with the cycles of the moon. Or, you might choose to ignore clock time and water your garden when the sun hits a certain position in the sky. By opening your garden experience to more of nature’s input, you can become available to witness a whole universe of miracles, while engendering a greater sense of honor between the two worlds.
When we recognize ourselves as allies, co-creators, with the earth and the natural world, our relationship to our environment begins to change. We no longer feel the need to control the circumstances around us and can relish in the perfection of all that is.
Serving The Higher Self
As long as we are in touch with our higher selves our egos are not a threat, rather a tool in service of the spirit.
In most spiritual circles, the ego gets a pretty bad rap. The reason for this is that the ego, to some extent, is the principle in our psyches that separates us from one another, while spirit is the principle that shows us that no such separation exists. Sometimes the ego is depicted as an almost demonic figure that keeps us from realizing our true nature. But at its most basic, the ego is simply a tool that helps us organize the various aspects of our personality so that we can function in the world. In this sense, the ego is simply a way for us to understand and attend to ourselves at the same time as we understand and attend to the world around us. The ego is a tool that we use to navigate the world.
Perhaps the problem is that the ego sometimes gets out of control. This happens when the higher self loses control of the psyche. The psyche then falls under the leadership of the ego, an entity that was never meant to lead. The ego is meant to be definitively in the service of the higher self. When this relationship is functioning, the ego is a useful intermediary representing the whole self but not thinking that it is the whole self. Then, it is almost as if the ego is the self playfully pretending to be the separate entity called “I.” Like an actor, the ego plays the roles that the world asks us to play in order to be part of the program. In this way, the ego can be a tool enabling us to be in the world but not of it.
As long as we are in touch with our higher selves, our egos are not a threat. They are simply useful tools in the service of spirit. We keep our egos in check when we continually nurture our awareness of who we really are. Then our egos are free to serve without trying ineffectually to rule. It is healthy to have ego, but like all things in life, ego functions best when it is in balance and harmony with your whole self.
From Getting Unstuck On-line Course
by Pema Chodron
The following is an excerpt from the "Getting Unstuck" on-line course. If you would like to enroll in the course, click here.
Each of us gets hooked in habitual ways of seeing the world, but how we respond to these situations will in large part determine how much peace and freedom we experience in our lives.
Once we learn to recognize when we’re caught, and our own unique styles of getting hooked, we then have the opportunity to do something different, to choose a fresh alternative.
Positive Groundlessness and the Three Difficult Practices
The first difficult practice is noticing when you get hooked, when you get caught in a habitual pattern which causes you to suffer. Pema explains that, with some practice, you can catch on to this rather quickly and begin to clearly notice when you are hooked. Further, we learn that getting hooked, in and of itself, is not actually a problem; it is quite natural and arises spontaneously in all of us. There is no suffering inherent in the hooking itself, Pema explains, but only in how we respond to it.
The second difficult practice is: do something different. This practice is much more difficult to catch on to, Pema teaches, and goes against the grain of our conditioning and habits. This practice is also referred to as “choosing a fresh alternative.” Through this practice, we begin to explore the interruption of the momentum which keeps our suffering alive. In the face of this “being hooked”, we often speak and act in ways which only serve to strengthen our habits of resentment, anger, blaming others, and so forth, which just entrench us in patterns that make us more and more unhappy.
The third and final difficult practice is making this exploration a way of life. The notion here is that this is not just a one-time thing where you notice you’re hooked, choose a fresh alternative, and then it’s all over. These patterns are something that will continue to arise in our experience, leaving us with dozens or hundreds of opportunities each week to notice the various ways we get caught in the momentum of our habitual responses to life’s challenges.
We also learn about the teaching of &ldquoositive groundlessness.” When we notice that we’ve been hooked, we find it very difficult to relax into the experience and to stay open and unbiased, simply experiencing the rawness of what is there. In this space we see that there is truly nothing to hold onto-- no bias, no preference. On the one hand, this experience is quite terrifying, this reality of no ground underneath our feet, no fixed reference point or view in which we can hang out in. But this groundlessness is also filled with &ldquoositive” qualities, such as wide open vastness, limitlessness, and extraordinary potential.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Are you aware of what it feels like to “get hooked,”? What does this look and feel like for you?
2. What is your understanding of the notion of &ldquoositive groundlessness”?
3. PRACTICE TIP: Over the next week, start to pay attention to the times you get “hooked” or caught, where you begin to feel yourself tightening up, moving into a storyline, and starting to act in habitual ways to escape discomfort.
For more information visit Getting Unstuck On-Line Course
Editing Your Life
Cutting out what isn't working in your life is a bold first step to creating the life that does work for you.
Our lives can be compared to an ongoing movie script over which we have complete creative control. Within us lies the power to examine what works or isn’t working in our lives and make “edits” to our life’s script, accordingly. Choosing to actively edit your life can be incredibly empowering. As you evolve, you have the choice to accept the script you’ve written thus far or edit it so you can create a life that fulfills you. You can cut out from your life’s script what is no longer working for you. Acknowledging that you are responsible for the experience you create gives you the ability to create the life you’ve always longed for.
Granted, editing your real life isn’t always as easy as erasing a line of text. If you’ve carried emotional baggage or held on to an unhealthy relationship for a long time, these may be difficult to edit out. But when you do cut out what isn’t working from your life, you’ll feel lighter and more alive. Editing out activities that you find stressful, disassociating yourself from people that drain your energy, and letting go of your emotional baggage are all beneficial cuts you can make. In the empty spaces that are left behind, you can add in anything you like. Just as you have the power to edit out negative situations or beliefs that you no longer wish to have as part of your life, you can now include the kinds of positive experiences, people, and beliefs that you would like to fill your life with. The manifestation of these thoughts and images as realities in your life will inevitably follow. As you make changes to your life, you can also add in the bits where you choose mo! re intimate, healthier relationships, seek out adventure over tedium, and are no longer negatively impacted by old experiences.
To begin editing your life, simply think about your positive and negative experiences. When you determine what parts of your life are no longer serving you, make the commitment to remove them – though, it is important to remember that there is no proper timing or way to do this, and patience and compassion for yourself are always important during this process. Then, ask yourself what has brought you profound bliss and consider how you can make those experiences and beliefs part of your life now. With a little editing, you’ll be able to clear out what is no longer serving you and make room in your life for more happiness, love, and wisdom.
Choosing Not to Be a Target
It is important to remember that if you are being attacked emotionally, it is more than likely not about you at all.
Hurtful confrontations often leave us feeling drained and confused. When someone attacks us emotionally, we may wonder what we did to rouse their anger, and we take their actions personally. We may ask ourselves what we could have done to compel them to behave or speak that way toward us. It’s important to remember that there are no real targets in an emotional attack and that it is usually a way for the attacker to redirect their uncomfortable feelings away from themselves. When people are overcome by strong emotions, like hurt or anguish, they may see themselves as victims and lash out at others as a means of protection or to make themselves feel better. You may be able to shield yourself from an emotional attack by not taking the behavior personally. First, however, it is good to cultivate a state of detachment that can provide you with some protection from the person who is attacking you. This will allow you to feel compassion for this person and remember that their beha! vior isn’t as much about you as it is about their need to vent their emotions.
If you have difficulty remaining unaffected by someone’s behavior, take a moment to breathe deeply and remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong, and you aren’t responsible for people’s feelings. If you can see that this person is indirectly expressing a need to you—whether they are reaching out for help or wanting to be heard—you may be able to diffuse the attack by getting them to talk about what is really bothering them.
You cannot control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own. If you sense yourself responding to their negativity, try not to let yourself. Keep your heart open to them, and they may let go of their defensiveness and yield to your compassion and openness.
Know Your Food
Eating Close to the Earth
Eating organic local food will change your life for the positive in so many ways as you connect with the earth and your community.
The food we eat is a multidimensional aspect of our lives. Food provides us with the energy that enables us to grow and prosper. Yet it can be, and frequently is, much, much more. Our food can be an experience in and of itself if we allow it to be. The dishes we remember from childhood offer unmatched comfort. The act of preparing meals can be an art form of the highest caliber. And the nourishment we derive from this fare promotes wellness within us. But many of us, distracted by daily affairs, forget that the profound pleasures of eating go beyond simple sustenance. We eat foods that are convenient or we eat unconsciously, snacking on whatever happens to be on hand. To understand the true value of food and the impact it can have on our lives, we should acknowledge and honor it by eating close to the earth.
If you have ever shelled and eaten garden-grown peas or bitten into a sun-warmed apple freshly plucked from its tree, you likely understand that there is a marked difference between these foods and those that are processed and stacked on supermarket shelves. Food recently picked contains more of its original life force and thus has a greater store of energy and nutrients. You can ensure you are eating close to the earth—and enjoying the many benefits of doing so—by shopping at a local farmers market and getting to know the individuals who grow your food. If you make the experience of shopping in this way enjoyable, you will be more apt to reject more convenient canned, packaged, and frozen foods in favor of the real delight you feel while browsing stalls of fresh foods nourished by the same soil you can find in your own backyard. You will soon learn what foods are in season in your area and how to prepare them.
As you savor the vivid flavors of juicy ripe fruits and the hearty crunch of unprocessed vegetables, you can also take pleasure in the fact that, by eating close to the earth, you are supporting farmers in your region, connecting with your local ecosystem, discouraging those who would waste precious fossil fuels by carting produce cross-country, and helping to preserve healthy culinary traditions that have existed for centuries.
10 Steps to Making Change Easier
Change can be hard for anyone, following these ideas below can make it a little less stressful.
1. Begin by making small changes or break up large-scale changes into more manageable increments. This can make you feel better about handling the changes you are about to make while making you more comfortable with change in general.
2. Mentally link changes to established daily rituals. This can make changes like taking on a new habit, starting a new job, or adapting to a new home happen much more smoothly. For example, if you want to begin meditating at home, try weaving it into your morning routine.
3. Going with the flow can help you accept change instead of resisting it. If you stay flexible, you will be able to ride out change without too much turbulence.
4. When a change feels most stressful, relief can often be found in finding the good that it brings. An illness, a financial loss, or a broken relationship can seem like the end of the world, yet they also can be blessings in disguise.
5. Remember that all change involves a degree of learning. If you find change particularly stressful, try to keep in mind that after this period of transformation has passed, you will be a wiser person for it.
6. Remember that upheaval and confusion are often natural parts of change. While we can anticipate certain elements that a change might bring, it is impossible to know everything that will happen in advance. Be prepared for unexpected surprises, and the winds of change won’t easily knock you over.
7. Don’t feel like you have to cope with changing circumstances or the stress of making a change on your own. Talk about what’s going on for you with a friend or write about it in a journal. Sharing your feelings can give you a sense of relief while helping you find the strength to carry on.
8. Give yourself time to accept any changes that you face. And as change happens, recognize that you may need time to adjust to your new situation. Allow yourself a period of time to reconcile your feelings. This can make big changes feel less extreme.
9. No matter how large or difficult a change is, you will eventually adapt to these new circumstances. Remember that regardless of how great the change, all the new that it brings will eventually weave itself into the right places in your life.
10. If you’re trying to change a pattern of behavior or navigate your way through a life change, don’t assume that it has to be easy. Wanting to cry or being moody during a period of change is natural. Then again, don’t assume that making a change needs to be hard. Sometimes, changes are meant to be that easy.
Effort and Understanding
Having It Easy
When we view the lives of others and think they have it easy, we are not seeing the whole of their life or the story they are presenting.
Our lives are an exercise in facing challenges. We dream the grandest of dreams as youngsters only to discover that we must cultivate copious inner strength and determination in order to meet our goals. Our hard work does not always yield the results we expect. And it is when we find ourselves frustrated by the trials we face or unable to meet our own expectations that we are most apt to take notice of those individuals who appear to accomplish great feats effortlessly. Some people’s lives seem to magically fall into place. We can see the blessings they have received, the ease with which they have attained their desires, their unwavering confidence, and their wealth. But, because we can never see the story of their lives as a whole, it is important that we refrain from passing judgment or becoming envious.
Throughout our lives, we glimpse only the outer hull of others’ life experiences, so it’s tempting to presuppose that the abundance they enjoy is the result of luck rather than diligent effort. In a small number of cases, our assumptions may mirror reality. But very few people “have it easy.” Everyone must overcome difficulties and everyone has been granted a distinctive set of talents with which to do so. An individual who is highly gifted may nonetheless have to practice industriously and correct themselves repeatedly in order to cultivate their talents. Their myriad accomplishments are more likely than not the result of ongoing hard work and sacrifice. You, no doubt, have natural abilities that you have nurtured and your gifts may be the very reason you strive as tirelessly as you do. Yet others see only the outcome of your efforts and not the efforts themselves
Our intellects, our hearts, and our souls are constantly being tested by the universe. Life will create new challenges for you to face each time you prove yourself capable of overcoming the challenges of the past. What you deem difficult will always differ from that which others deem difficult. The tests you will be given will be as unique as you are. If you focus on doing the best you can and making use of the blessings you have been granted, the outcome of your efforts will be a joyous reflection of your dedication.
Playing Your Part
Life Is an Illusion
As we become more enlightened on our journey of life, we become more compassionate and wise and have less attachment.
As children, most of us sang that mesmerizing, wistful lullaby that ends with the words, “Life is but a dream.” This is a classic example of a deep, sophisticated truth hiding, like an underground stream, in an unlikely place. It winds its way through our minds like a riddle or a Zen koan, coming up when we least expect it and asking that we consider its meaning. Many gurus and philosophers agree with this mysterious observation, saying that this world we perceive as real is actually an illusion, not unlike a film being projected on a screen. Most of us are so involved in the projection that we don’t understand it for what it is. We are completely caught up in the illusion, imagining that we are in a life and death struggle and taking it very seriously.
The enlightened few, on the other hand, live their lives in the light of the awareness that what most of us perceive as reality is a passing fancy. As a result, they behave with detachment, compassion, and wisdom, while the rest of us struggle and writhe upon the stage in the play of our life. Having the wisdom to know that life is but a dream does not mean that we ignore it or don’t do our best with the twists and turns of our fate. Rather, like an actress who plays her role fully even as she knows it’s only a role, we engage in the unfolding drama, but with a little more freedom because we know that this is not the totality of who we are.
And life is more of an improvisation than it is like a play whose lines have already been written, whose end is already known. Like an improviser, we have choices to make and the more we embrace the illusionary quality of the performance, the lighter we can be on the planet, on others, and on ourselves. We can truly play with the shadows cast by the light of the projector, fully engaging without getting bogged down.
Physical Bodies on Earth
Spiritual Being--Physical Experience
While we are incarnated in a body on this earth, we must remember that we still are a spiritual being at our core.
We are on this earth, in our physical bodies, because our souls have things to learn that we could not learn in any other way. It is through our physical body and the physical world that we can experience life. Purely spiritual beings are just that – they are in a state of being rather than doing – in a place that is beyond the limitations of time and space. But when we incarnate on the physical plane, we are automatically subject to the laws of physics and the world of dualities. In this place, we know what happiness is because we have experienced sadness, and we understand the value and power of light because we have known darkness. Knowing this, we have the opportunity to let ourselves be spiritual beings having a physical experience.
There is no pain in the spiritual realm, because we know we are one with the limitless source of the universe. But here, in the material realm, our sense of limitation and separation allows us to feel our emotions and to learn about love, forgiveness, and compassion. We go from a spiritual state of oneness to learning how to be in relationship with people who are different and distinct individuals. We learn to understand ourselves through our relationships with the world around us—its seasons and landscapes, challenges and opportunities. And through our journey to find our place among so many others, we begin to recognize our own glimmer of light in a constellation of stars.
Once we remember that we are spiritual beings, we can revel in the experience of being human while knowing we are all connected. We can live from the place of oneness while truly appreciating the beauty of diversity, the bittersweet feel of love and loss, and the elation of triumph over challenges and adversity. It is through these opposites that we experience life itself, and we can ride through the dark times with the understanding that it will help us to appreciate the light of life and love and spirit more fully. We are here now because we made the choice to experience an earth life, so now we can choose to enjoy the journey as completely as possible.
Wanting to Join
Dumbing Ourselves Down
Playing it small in order to fit in with a group of people robs the essence of your soul level self.
The ability to go into any social situation and sense the level of consciousness in that situation is a gift. It enables us to move considerately in a world that holds people of all levels of awareness. However, there is a difference between shifting our energy to accommodate people and dumbing ourselves down to a regrettable degree. Sometimes, when we get into a particular social situation, we may feel pressure to play it small in order to fit in. Perhaps everyone is drinking or smoking excessively, engaging in gossipy small talk, or complaining bitterly about politics. It is one thing to notice this and modify our expectations and another thing entirely to join in.
When we notice where people are coming from and acknowledge to ourselves that their energy is not in alignment with ours, we have several choices as to how to proceed. One viable option is to quietly endure the situation, keeping to ourselves until it is time to leave. In this way, we take care of our own consciousness and protect our growth process. Another option is to interact in a way that honors and pays respect to the people in the group, while gently attempting to shift the level of consciousness with our input. In order to do this, we must maintain our own vibration, which means that joining in by dumbing down is not an option.
When we choose to dumb ourselves down to fit in, we not only sell ourselves short but we also lose a possible opportunity to influence the situation for the good of all concerned. Our desire to join in may come from our natural yearning to feel connected to the people around us. There is no shame in this, but being able to stand on our own, separate from the crowd, is a powerful milestone on any spiritual path. It can be difficult in the moment, but when we arrive on the other side, our integrity intact, we may find ourselves feeling positively smart.
The Life Cycle
Bud and Blossom and Beyond
It is through watching the cycles of nature that we more fully understand the cycles of our own lives.
Flowers and leaves both begin their lives as organisms so tiny we cannot see them with the naked eye. With time, they become visible, curled in upon themselves, colorful buds slowly softening and releasing. With the proper warmth and moisture, they unfold little by little, revealing with each degree of opening a new color, shape, or dimension. Sometimes buds open seemingly all at once, unfolding the full majesty of their potential, of what looks to the human eye like courage, openness, and generosity.
As days go by, the bloom slowly moves through more stages, revealing still more colors, shapes, and dimensions of its essence. It falls apart, strewing its petals on the ground, or it wilts, or it closes back in on itself. When we can appreciate the full beauty of each stage of the cycle of life, from bud to blossom to disintegration, we feel more at home with our own earthly process. We can be inspired not to hold back the fullness of what we have to offer, knowing that our time to give of ourselves in this way will come to pass. At the same time, we can honor others, and the little processes that go on within the larger process of living our lives.
Each stage we go through has its time of fulfillment and recession, as do all living things. Every moment of every stage has its own particular beauty, and we can appreciate that, even as most of us tend to love the spectacular moment of full blossoming most of all. When we feel the wisdom contained in the budding, blossoming, and dissolution of a simple flower, we begin to feel it everywhere, in each moment that comes and goes, in each sunrise and sunset, in every hello and goodbye, as the very essence of the pulsating ebb and flow of existence.
Symbols of Versatility
We can learn a lot from our duck friends as they are able dive deep but also have the ability to float gracefully.
If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world that is also a home to ducks, you will no doubt be familiar with the image of their cute feathery bottoms sticking up in the air as their heads disappear under the surface of the water. Perhaps you’ve even taken a moment to wonder what they see in their underwater world, and if they will resurface with a fish or a water bug in their beaks. As we observe them, we see that ducks are denizens of three worlds—the world of air, the world of water, and the world of earth. As such, they have adapted themselves to be able to swim, fly, and walk, and they seek and find nourishment in more than one place. They are symbols of versatility and can inspire us to explore our own ability to adapt and find nourishment in a variety of places.
Ducks are able to float, swim, and dive into the water, fishing for food. They can walk on the ground, eating vegetation and bugs, and they fly in the air to travel long distances relatively quickly. Equipped with feet that are equally good at paddling and walking, as well as wings to fly, ducks seem comfortable in just about any natural environment. Next time you see a duck bottom, you might be inspired to examine your own ability to both float on the surface and to dive beneath it. In many traditions, water symbolizes the emotions—to duck our heads into our emotions means we are able to surrender our minds to our hearts, to go into the watery realm of feeling and see what there is to see, often coming to the surface with nourishment and treasure.
At the same time, we share the duck’s ability to get solid ground under our feet by connecting to the earth on which we live simply by walking on it. And finally, when we reside in our spirits, we fly above the mental, emotional, and material realms, free of all the ties that bind us to this earth, traveling faster and farther than we ever thought possible.
Alive in Joy
Some people are so used to creating drama that a peaceful existence seems uncomfortable for them.
There are scores of people in the world who seem to be magnets for calamity. They live their lives jumping from one difficult to the next, surrounded by unstable individuals. Some believe themselves victims of fate and decry a universe they regard as malevolent. Others view their chaotic circumstances as just punishments for some failing within. Yet, in truth, neither group has been fated or consigned to suffer. They are likely unconsciously drawing drama into their lives, attracting catastrophe through their choices, attitudes, and patterns of thought. Drama, however disastrous, can be exciting and stimulating. But the thrill of pandemonium eventually begins to frustrate the soul and drain the energy of all who embrace it. To halt this process, we must understand the root of our drama addiction, be aware of our reactions, and be willing to accept that a serene, joyful life need not be a boring one.
Many people, so used to living in the dramatic world they create, feel uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of a lifetime of peace and contentment. The drama in their lives serves multiple purposes. Upset causes excitement, prompting the body to manufacture adrenaline, which produces a pleasurable surge of energy. For those seeking affection in the form of sympathy, drama forms the basis of their identity as a victim. And when drama is familial, many people believe they can avoid abandonment by continuing to play a key role in the established family dynamic. The addiction to drama is fed by the intensity of the feelings evoked during bouts of conflict, periods of uncertainty, and upheaval.
Understanding where the subconscious need for drama stems from is the key to addressing it effectively. Journaling can help you transfer this need from your mind onto a benign piece of paper. After repeated writing sessions, your feelings regarding the mayhem, hurt feelings, and confusion often associated with drama become clear. When you confront your emotional response to drama and the purpose it serves in your life, you can reject it. Each time you consciously choose not to take part in dramatic situations or associate with dramatic people, you create space in your inner being that is filled with a calm and tranquil stillness and becomes an asset in your quest to lead a more centered life.
Things We Don’t Want to Do
Outside the Comfort Zone
Most often, after you have completed something you didn't want to do, you wonder why you were so worried in the first place.
Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we’ve been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.
Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we’re not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn't want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don’t want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.
We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it.
Doing for Others
Solace in Service
So many times, when we are being of service to others, we find the answer or solution to our own problems.
When we feel bad, often our first instinct is to isolate ourselves and focus on what’s upsetting us. Sometimes we really do need some downtime, but many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people. In being of service to others, paradoxically, we often find answers to our own questions and solutions to our own problems. We also end up feeling more connected to the people around us, as well as empowered by the experience of helping someone.
When we reach out to people we can help, we confirm that we are not alone in our own need for support and inspiration, and we also remind ourselves that we are powerful and capable in certain ways. Even as our own problems or moods get the better of us sometimes, there is always someone else who can use our particular gifts and energy to help them out. They, in turn, remind us that we are not the only people in the world with difficulties or issues. We all struggle with the problems of life, and we all feel overwhelmed from time to time, but we can almost always find solace in service.
In the most ideal situation, the person we are helping sheds light on our own dilemma, sometimes with a direct piece of advice, and sometimes without saying anything at all. Sometimes just the act of getting our minds out of the obsessive mode of trying to figure out what to do about our own life does the trick. Many great inventors and artists have found that the inspiration they need to get to the next level in their work comes not when they’re working but when they’re walking around the block or doing dishes. We do ourselves and everyone else a great service when we take a break from our sorrows and extend ourselves to someone in need.
Everything Is in Divine Order
Often when things are not as they seem to be, it is because we do not see the whole vision as we are asked to take baby steps.
We can only see so much from where we sit in our particular bodies, in the midst of our particular lives, rooted as we are in the continuum of space and time. The divine, on the other hand, is not limited to the constructs of either space or time, and its wisdom and workings often elude us as we try to make sense of what is happening in our lives. This is why things are not always what they seem to be and even the best-laid plans are sometimes overturned. Even when we feel we have been guided by our intuition every step of the way, we may find ourselves facing unexpected loss and disappointment. At times like these, we can find some solace in trusting that no matter how bad or just plain inexplicable things look from our perspective, they are, in fact, in divine order.
Even as we take our places in this earthly realm, a part of us remains completely free of the confines we face here. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, this part of us remains infused with joy and gratitude, connected to the unbroken source from which we come. Our small self, on the other hand, who is caught up in our false identity as a being limited in space and time, regards happiness as the result of things going the way it wants them to go. It is this part of us that suffers the greatest confusion and upset when the logic of events does not compute. And it is to this self that we must extend unconditional love, forgiveness, and compassion. In order to do this, we tap into our inner divinity, holding the space of a tender authority, extending love and light to our ego as a mother extends her love to a troubled child.
There are many ways to access our inner divinity—meditation, prayer, chanting, channeling, and conscious breathing, to name a few. It is helpful to develop a regular practice that provides us access to this all-powerful, healing presence, as it can be difficult to reach once we are in a stressful position, if we have not already established a connection. The more connected we are with this part of ourselves, the more we share its unlimited vision and the secure, knowing that all the things of our life, no matter how they appear, are in a state of divine and perfect order.
The Road to New Beginnings
Just as new beginnings are important, so is honoring the experience of closure.
Life is a collage of beginnings and endings that run together like still-wet paint. Yet before we can begin any new phase in life, we must sometimes first achieve closure to the current stage we are in. That’s because many of life’s experiences call for closure. Often, we cannot see the significance of an event or importance of a lesson until we have reached closure. Or, we may have completed a certain phase in life or path of learning and want to honor that ending. It is this sense of completion that frees us to open the door to new beginnings. Closure serves to tie up or sever loose ends, quiets the mind even when questions have been left unanswered, signifies the end of an experience, and acknowledges that a change has taken place.
The period of completion, rather than being just an act of finality, is also one of transition. When we seek closure, what we really want is an understanding of what has happened and an opportunity to derive what lessons we can from an experience. Without closure, there is no resolution and we are left to grieve, relive old memories to the point of frustration, or remain forever connected to people from our past. A sense of completion regarding a situation may also result when we accept that we have done our best. If you can’t officially achieve closure with someone, you can create completion by participating in a closure ritual. Write a farewell letter to that person and then burn your note during a ceremony. This ritual allows you to consciously honor and appreciate what has taken place between you and release the experience so you can move forward.
Closure can help you let go of feelings of anger or uncertainty regarding your past even as you honor your experience – whether good or bad - as a necessary step on your life’s path. Closure allows you to emotionally lay to rest issues and feelings that may be weighing down your spirit. When you create closure, you affirm that you have done what was needed, are wiser because of your experience, and are ready for whatever life wants to bring you next.
Coping with People You Dislike
When we are forced to deal with people we dislike, a great learning opportunity is being put forth to us.
As much as most of us wish we could exist in harmony with the people we encounter throughout our lives, there will always be individuals we dislike. Some simply rub us the wrong way while others strike us as deliberately unaware. We may judge others as too mean or abrasive for us to interact with them comfortably. Yet no person should be deemed a villain because their beliefs, opinions, mannerisms, and mode of being are not compatible with your own. You need not embrace the rough traits they have chosen to embody. There may be times in which the best course of action involves distancing yourself from someone you dislike. But circumstances may require that you spend time in the company of individuals who awaken your aversion. In such cases, you can ease your discomfort by showing your foe loving compassion while examining your feelings carefully.
The reasons we dislike some individuals are often complex and, at first, indecipherable. Often, we are automatically averse to people who are different because they compel us to question our values, spirituality, culture, and ideologies, threatening to undermine our self-assurance. Realistically, however, those you dislike have no power to weaken your life’s foundations. In fact, your aversion to specific individuals may actually be your response to your fear that specific qualities you see in them also exist within you. Their presence may force you to face internal issues you would rather not confront. If you meet someone who inspired an intense, largely negative response in you, ask yourself why your reaction is so laden with powerful emotions. Remember that you control your feelings and, if necessary, you can minimize this individual’s impact on your well-being by choosing how you will respond to them.
Though you may not have an immediate breakthrough, your willingness to consider your dislike rationally can help you better understand the root of your feelings. Your aversion to certain individuals may not wane over time, yet the comprehension you gain through reflection can help you interact with them sympathetically, benevolently, and with a greater degree of kindness. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that you are incompatible with some people. You may never achieve a shared harmony with those you dislike, but you can nonetheless learn to modulate your reactions to these individuals and, ultimately, to coexist peacefully with them.
Almost nothing else represents the emergence of spring as the beloved yellow daffodil happy and bright after a long winter's nap.
Some things on this earth look as if they were designed to bring happiness to the hearts of humans. The daffodil, with its bright yellow coloring and green stem, is one such creation. The daffodil makes its appearance in the spring, abundant and inexpensive, bringing gladness as sure as sunshine itself to whoever is lucky enough to receive a single stem, or a bunch, of these delicate yellow miracles. It is as if the sun has shed a layer of skin and fashioned a flower out of it.
Color psychologists suggest that too much yellow can be too stimulating, but in small doses it inspires hope and good cheer. The daffodil is a perfect-sized package of yellow for anyone feeling glum or energetically low. It can spur us to action or simply imbue us with a feeling of optimism as it vibrantly glows in our homes or on our desks at work. The daffodil’s presence is ideal in any region where sunshine is scarce as it seems to carry the sun in the soft flesh of its petals. The bulbs are not expensive, and the flowers give so much that you may decide to plant a few in your yard or in a window box. Then again, you may simply wait until they arrive in neat little bundles in the grocery store or flower shop. They are usually very reasonably priced, so you can afford to spoil yourself, and those you love, with a large bouquet.
A daffodil placed under the windshield wiper of a loved one’s car says, “Be happy! Spring has sprung! I love you!” A collection of stems gathered and placed in a Mason jar can be left on someone’s doorstep to remind them of the simple beauties that abound in this life. Don’t forget to bless yourself with a vase of these bright blossoms on your kitchen table or nightstand. Every time you see them, you will be filled with the happiness and warmth of the sun.
A Separate Reality
Disconnecting from the Source
We can all experience times when we feel disconnected from the universe, but you have never been abandoned.
We all experience periods where we feel separated from the loving ebb and flow of the universe. These times of feeling disconnected from the source may occur for many reasons, but self-sabotage is the most common cause for us choosing to cut ourselves off from the flow of the universe. We purposefully, though often unconsciously, cut ourselves off from this flow and from the embrace of humanity so we can avoid dealing with painful issues, shun the necessary steps for growth, or prevent the success that we are afraid of achieving from ever happening. When you choose to disconnect from the source, you block the flow of the universe’s energy from passing through you. You become like a sleepwalker who is not fully awake to life, and your hopes, plans, and dreams begin to appear as distant blurs on a faraway horizon. Universal support has never left you, but if you can remember that you became disconnected from source by choice, you can choose to reconnect.
Reconnecting with the universe grounds you and is as easy as you making a concerted effort to become interested in the activities you love or responding to what nurtures or stimulates you. You may also want to make a list of the activities and kinds of experiences that touch your soul. Try to pinpoint the times when you have felt fully engaged and aware and ask yourself what you were doing. But one of the easiest ways to reconnect is simply by stating the intention of doing so.
When you disconnect from the universe, your sense of purpose, creativity, and ability to be innovative are not as easy to access. You may also experience a deep and empty sense of longing or feel devoid of ideas or unworthy of love. It’s important, however, to recognize that being disconnected from the universe is never a permanent state, and it can be reversed any time you decide that you are ready to reconnect. When you are connected to the universe, all aspects of your being will feel alive as the flow of the universe pours through your being and into your life.
Working with Space
Intuit Your Home’s Decor
When decorating spaces in your home, allow the space to speak to you by being still and observing each room.
When we decide the time has come to change the look or feel of our personal spaces, it is the spaces themselves that can provide us with the most useful guidance. Working with a single room, an apartment, or an entire house allows us to unearth the innate potential of these spaces and also better understand how we want to relate to them. To be conscious of the possibilities of a space, we need to listen to, look at, and bond with that space in a deep and personal way. Just as no two people are alike, no two rooms, however similar, are identical. The more we know about the spaces we wish to change, the better equipped we are to make them both beautiful and functional.
Before you contemplate colors and layouts, spend some time in the rooms you plan to modify. Observe the way light moves through each space at different times of day. In the course of a week or so, note those times when you feel drawn to a particular space. You may naturally gravitate toward one room when you want to relax and toward another when you want to socialize. Also, remember that not all rooms have to be used as originally planed, for example a dining room may make a wonderful sitting area. As you make these observations, think about whether the spaces under consideration remind you of anything or bring certain thoughts to mind. Writing your thoughts down can make the process of examination simpler. The discoveries you make regarding the rooms in your home can help guide you as you choose color schemes, furniture layouts, and decorative styles, so that you bring out the natural qualities of each using your creativity and eye for detail. Using the cues you pick up, yo! u can design a beautiful room that is bright and exciting, or one that calms the soul and invites meditation.
By treating the layout and décor of your personal spaces in this mindful way, you can honor their natural rhythms while creating a cohesive and comfortable home through which energy can flow unencumbered. The design elements you subsequently choose will work together like the diverse instruments that come together to form a symphony orchestra. Each will resonate harmoniously with the next, ensuring that your home resounds with a lasting message of beauty, serenity, reassurance, and comfort.
Detoxing Your Body
Inner Spring Cleaning
All of our bodies need to detox once in a while and is a wonderful gift to your body, mind and spirit.
When you want to start with a clean slate in life, one way is to cleanse your body. Detoxifying can be done in many ways and for many reasons, depending on your specific goals. You may feel a physical need for cleansing, or a spiritual one where you would cleanse the areas of the body that correspond to your current life challenges. If you feel, for instance, that your inner self is not shining through as you would like, you may want to do a bathing detox to clean the skin of impurities so that you can radiate your inner health like a newly washed stained-glass window that lets the light shine through more brilliantly.
No matter how healthy and conscious our habits are, our bodies move with the cycles of life, which means that our cells sometimes need to fall like leaves from the trees before they can regenerate and be renewed. Just as we need to wash our bodies to remove the buildup of natural processes and contact with the world around us, we need to clean our bodies from the inside as well. So you may want to detoxify your blood or digestive system, or target specific buildup such as plaque or metals. Our bodies are the vessels that allow us to move through life, but we can treat them like wild gardens that need our attention to reach their full potential of beauty and balance in their ecosystem.
The first days of a detoxification process may bring to mind an image of the dust that gets stirred up during spring cleaning. You may feel a little worse before you feel better, but that may indeed be the universe’s way of showing us the benefits by contrast. We live in a world of dualities, so we may need to experience both sides of a situation in order to find our perfect balance. Once the impurities have been cleansed, you could experience a sense of lightness or clarity of vision and purpose. You will know it worked when you feel enhanced ease as you move through the world toward your goals.
The Valley of Despair
Seeds of Light
Even in our darkest times, there are seeds of light within ourselves, we need only call them forward.
Anyone who has walked through the valley of despair and come out the other side knows that even in that darkness, seeds of light can be found. Often their tendrils reach out of the gloom and into the daylight alongside the journeyer who emerges from that deep sorrow. When we find ourselves in a place of despair, it can help us to know this, so that we don’t give up. We can stop, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that we will find ourselves on the other side of this troubled time, and that we may even emerge with something new to offer.
It seems that despair has been around for as long as humans have been able to express themselves, and many of the great artists, teachers, and visionaries have labored through times of depression and hopelessness. Their words, images, and lives can serve as beacons in the darkness, even if they can’t always immediately lead us out. In the end, we must find our own way, and this is why despair often overwhelms us when it comes; we doubt that we have the resources to contend with such a formidable presence all by ourselves. This is when we must come to our own aid and know in our hearts that we have what it takes to keep moving forward in the general direction of the light.
Even though we must ultimately rely on ourselves, this doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help. Our friends and families can help us, as can our inner guides and helping spirits. They can serve the purpose of a fire that burns throughout the night, keeping us warm, and providing a light by which we might see the changes we may need to make in order to move forward. In addition, there truly are seeds of light inside us, however small, waiting to unfurl their green shoots, if only we will give them the time.
The Question of Worthiness
Shifting into Gratitude
When we question whether or not we are worthy of something it is important at that time to shift into gratitude.
We all know what it’s like to finally get something we want, only to find ourselves feeling as if we don’t deserve it. Whether it’s a car, a new job, or a date with someone wonderful, we suddenly feel as if we are not up to it. Something in us wants to reject this gift from the universe, perhaps because it requires that we think of ourselves in a new way or makes us question why we should have something that others don’t have. If these feelings of unworthiness are not consciously acknowledged, they can lead us to sabotage ourselves out of the gift being offered. Perhaps the best way to avoid rejection and sabotage is to simply shift into a state of gratitude, bypassing the question of worthiness altogether.
The question of whether we or anyone else deserves something is not really in our jurisdiction. These themes play themselves out in ways we can’t fully comprehend—on the level of the soul, over the course of many lifetimes. What we do know is that the universe has its own way of shifting the balance over the course of time so that all things are ultimately fair. We can trust in this process and understand that when a gift comes our way, it is because we are meant to have it. Otherwise, it would not be available to us. Accepting the gift with gratitude and using it to the best of our ability is true humility.
When we receive a gift and find that feelings of unworthiness crop up, we can simply acknowledge the feelings and then remind ourselves that they are beside the point. We might say to ourselves, “I am meant to have this.” As we allow ourselves to accept the gift, we might feel tenderness in our hearts that naturally shifts into a deep feeling of gratitude. As we sit for a moment, consciously holding the gift in our hands or in our hearts, we say “yes” to the universe’s many blessings, and we also say “thank you.”
Cause, Effect, and Transformation
If you are feeling depleted, your body is asking you to take time to make some real changes in your life.
There are times in our lives when it seems our bodies are running on empty. We are not sick, nor are we necessarily pushing ourselves to the limit—rather, the energy we typical enjoy has mysteriously dissipated, leaving only fatigue. Many people grow accustomed to feeling this way because they do not know that it is possible to exist in any other state. The body’s natural state, however, is one of energy, clarity, and balance. Cultivating these virtues in our own bodies so that we can combat feelings of depletion is a matter of developing a refined awareness of the self and then making changes based on our observations.
A few scant moments of focused self-examination in which you assess your recent schedule, diet, and general health may help you zero in on the factors causing your depletion. If you are struggling to cope with an overfull agenda, prioritization can provide you with more time to sleep and otherwise refresh yourself. Switching to a diet containing plenty of nutritious foods may serve to restore your vigor, especially when augmented by supplements like B vitamins or ginseng. Consider, too, that a visit to a healer or homeopath will likely provide you with wonderful insights into your tiredness. But identifying the source of your exhaustion will occasionally be more complicated than spotting a void in your lifestyle and filling it with some form of literal nourishment. Since your earthly and ethereal forms are so intimately entwined, matters of the mind and heart can take their toll on your physical self. Intense emotions such as anger, sadness, jealousy, and regret need fuel to! manifest in your consciousness, and this fuel is more often than not corporeal energy. Conversely, a lack of mental and emotional stimulation may leave you feeling listless and lethargic.
Coping with and healing physical depletion will be easier when you accept that the underlying cause might be more complex than you at first imagined. A harried lifestyle or a diet low in vital nutrients can represent only one part of a larger issue affecting your mood, stamina, and energy levels. When you believe that you are ultimately in control of how you feel, you will be empowered to transform yourself and your day-to-day life so that lasting fatigue can no longer gain a foothold in your existence.
Accepting and Releasing Emotions
Denying Your Feelings
It's always best to acknowledge our feelings so they may rise to the surface rather than keep them suppressed and turned into anger.
Dealing with powerful emotions can be challenging, especially when we are going through chaotic, sad, or cruel experiences in our lives. Often, it can seem like we have only two options for dealing with our feelings so they don’t become too overwhelming. We may let our feelings out in an immediate and visceral way, or we may bottle them up by suppressing our emotions inside our bodies. Most people make the second choice, repressing their feelings in an attempt to deny them. The truth is that there are many positive ways to deal with emotions, and experiencing your negative feelings doesn’t have to constitute a negative experience. Denying your feelings is not only unhealthy for the mind and the body, but it may also rob you of valuable information you could be learning about yourself and your life. Suppressing your emotions can even impede your short-term memory. Acknowledging your feelings can help you better understand them and help you recover naturally from change, stres! s, and grief.
If you find that facing your feelings head on is proving too difficult during times of emotional distress, you may want to explore alternative ways of expressing them. Otherwise, the emotions you deny could morph into unconscious anger or self-hatred. Expressing your thoughts to friends or family can be helpful. If you don’t feel ready to share them, try giving them words by writing down what you are feeling. Give whatever you are feeling simple words like “livid” or “angry” or “excited” You can also funnel your feelings into a creative outlet, physical exercise, or chores. Even just accepting and speaking your feelings out loud to yourself can be a healing release. In releasing intense emotions, it is most beneficial to acknowledge the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, and let the feelings go. Those who are willing to experience and release their feelings without judgment also find that their lives become less stressful. Breathing deeply, going for a long walk, or doi! ng a constructive task can help you respond to your feelings in a healthy way.
While burying negative or uncomfortable feelings can numb the pain, it also may inevitably dull your ability to experience your more positive and pleasurable feelings. You may find yourself afraid to open up in the future for fear of getting hurt. The feelings we deny aren’t limited to anger and sadness. Suppressing our happiness or excitement can be just as unhealthy. In learning how to express your intense emotions in a healthy way, you are giving yourself the freedom to fully experience the more joyful emotions that come with being alive.
We can let go of our defense mechanisms when we are ready to be truly honest with ourselves.
We all have defense mechanisms that we’ve developed over time, often without being aware of it. In times of trouble, the behaviors that have worked to get us past challenges with the least amount of pain are the ones that we repeat; even when part of us knows they no longer work. Such behavior is a natural response from our mental and physical aspects. But because we are spiritual beings as well, we have the ability to rise above habits and patterns to see the truth that lay beyond. And from that moment on, we can make choices that allow us to work directly from that place of truth within us.
Most of our defense mechanisms were developed in childhood; from the moment that we realized crying would get us the attention we craved. Passive aggressive ways of communicating may have allowed us to get what we needed without being scolded, punished or laughed at, so we learned to avoid being direct and honest. Some of us may have taken refuge in the lives of others, discovering ways to direct attention away from ourselves entirely. Throwing ourselves into projects or rescuing others from themselves can be effective ways to avoid dealing with our own issues. And when people are truly helped by our actions, we get the added bonus of feeling heroic. But while defenses can keep away the things we fear, they can also work to keep our good from us.
When we can be honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, then we can connect our desires to the creative power of the spirit within us. Knowing that we are one with the energy of the universe allows us release any need for defense. Trusting that power, we know that we are exactly where we are meant to be, and that challenges bring gifts of growth and experience. When we can put down arms raised in defense, then we are free to use our hands, minds, hearts and spirits to mold and shape our abundant energy to create and live our lives.
Letting Go of Understanding
We don't always need to know the deeper meaning of everything that happens in our lives.
All of us who seek to be conscious and aware regard our experiences as teachers, and we try to discern what lessons we are learning from the things that happen in our lives. Sometimes the lesson is very clear from the get-go, and other times we have to really search to understand the deeper meaning behind some event. While this search often yields results, there also comes a point in the search where what we really need to do is move forward. It is possible that we are not meant to know the deeper meaning of certain occurrences. Answers may come later in our lives, or they may come as a result of letting go, or they may never come.
We are all part of a complex system of being, and things work themselves out in the system as a whole. Sometimes we are just playing a necessary part in that process with a result larger than we can understand. It may have very little to do with us personally, and while that can be hard to understand, it can also free us from overthinking the matter. Sometimes it is best to see it in terms of karma, a past debt we have been able to repay in this way, or as the clearing of energy. We can simply thank the event for being part of our experience and let it go. This completes the process that the occurrence has made possible.
To make this letting go official, we can perform a ritual, make a final journal entry on the subject, or sit in meditation with the intention of releasing the event from our consciousness. As we do so, we summon it one last time, honoring it with our attention, thanking it, and saying good-bye. We then let it go out the door, out the window, out the top of our heads, or into the earth through the bottoms of our feet, liberating ourselves from any burden we have carried in association with it.
Exploring an Alternate Universe
What Makes People Tick?
Interacting peacefully with people from all walks of life is a matter of first understanding where they are coming from.
All people have their own way of being in the world. It is easiest to comprehend this basic yet profound fact when we consider that every human being on the planet occupies a distinct role in the universe. We grow up in different environments, affected by a unique range of influences. The preferences, values, and beliefs we embrace are frequently related intimately to our origins. And the need to individualize our experiences is instinctive, as doing so enables us to cope when we must face challenges on our own. Consequently, each of us has developed a perspective that is uniquely ours. Interacting peacefully and constructively with people from all walks of life is a matter of first understanding where they are coming from. Then we can adjust our expectations so that we avoid making undue assumptions about what they are about.
In the face of emerging interpersonal conflict, it is easy to assume that others are being difficult, unreasonable, or stubborn. We are apt to grow frustrated when someone in our environment does not share our opinions or feel compelled to support us in our endeavors. It is likely that the individual or individuals before us may simply possess differing notions with regard to what is and what is not important in this life. We can ease the tension that exists between us by reaffirming our belief in the fundamental right of all beings to determine their own destinies. To foster a harmonious relationship, we need to do our best to relate to the unique universes they inhabit. And as we discover what makes them tick, our ability to find a mode of interaction that is pleasing to both of us is enhanced.
When there are barriers keeping you from connecting with someone else, think of questions you can ask them to gain a more thorough understanding of their point of view. You may discover that in addition to the differences in perspective dividing you, they are subject to insecurities and other personal issues that influence their way of seeing the world. It is likely that you will never fully grasp the myriad complexities embodied by humanity, but you can go a long way toward encouraging mutually satisfying relations by reaching out to others in the spirit of sympathetic comprehension.
Keeping a Diary with Purpose
A diary that is kept for a specific purpose can be a great way to focus on a specific issue that you want to work through.
A diary can play many roles. It can be a confidant, a vehicle of self expression, a tool that facilitates clarity of thought, or a repository of dreams. A diary can also be a powerful source of comfort during challenging or traumatic periods. When you record those insights and incidents that clearly demonstrate you are on the right track, you can return to your words days, weeks, or months later and find uniquely soothing reassurance. A diary with a specific purpose can be a good tool for keeping track of experiences before the passage of time can skew your perception of events. It reflects the immediacy of your life and thus provides you with a landmark to return to when you begin to doubt yourself. If doubt does arise, simply open your diary to reaffirm your experiences. The confidence, surety, passion, and bravery you felt in a single moment is preserved, giving you a means to recapture those feelings in any place, at any time.
Your diary serves as a repository of personalized encouragement. Since a diary is, by its very nature, as individual as you are, you should give some thought to the type of diary that will serve you best. A synchronicity-and-connections diary might describe those instances where seemingly random occurrences came together in a meaningful way, propelling you forward. Or you may find strength in the pages of a pride diary that makes note not only of those times you felt proud of yourself but also precisely why you were pleased with your efforts. And a cause-and-effect diary can help you become more decisive by reminding you of all the wise, life-affirming choices you have made. Your diary should be small enough to be readily portable and on hand whenever possible because the faster you put your thoughts down on paper, the more authentic your declarations are apt to be.
Regardless of the type of focused diary you choose to keep, your recollections will create a positive feedback loop that helps you cope with doubt in a constructive way. Reading through your diary when life seems uncertain can show you that your misgivings are unfounded. As you draw consolation from your uplifting words, you will know without a doubt that you are indeed living your purpose and following the path that you committed to before birth.
Using Your Power
When your choices are your own, you will be more likely to accept and be satisfied with the outcome of those choices.
Our lives are defined by the decisions we make each day. When we choose one option over another, whether we are selecting a restaurant or considering a cross-country move, we shape our lives. The decision-making process can be empowering, allowing us to enjoy the benefits of self-determination. Yet it can also be a source of anxiety because decisions force us to face the possibility of dissatisfaction and inner conflict. As a result, many of us opt to avoid making decisions by allowing others to make them for us. We consequently turn our power over to spouses, relatives, friends, and colleagues, granting them the stewardship of our lives that is ours by right. Though the decisions we must make are often difficult, we grow more self-sufficient and secure each time we trust ourselves enough to choose.
Ultimately, only you can know how the options before you will impact your daily life and your long-term well-being. Within you lies the power to competently weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each selection. Even if you feel incapable of making a decision, your inner wisdom and your intuitive mind will give you sound counsel if you have faith in yourself. Try to come to your own conclusions before seeking the guidance of others, and even then, treat their suggestions as supplementary information rather than votes to be tallied. Before making your choice, release your fear of wrong decisions. Perceived mistakes can lead you down wonderful and unexpected paths that expose you to life-changing insights. If you can let go of the notion that certain choices are utterly right while others are entirely wrong, you will be less tempted to invite others to take the reigns of your destiny.
When your choices are your own, you will be more likely to accept and be satisfied with the outcome of those choices. Your decisions will be a pure reflection of your desires, your creativity, your awareness, and your power. Since you understand that you must live with and take responsibility for your decisions, you will likely exercise great care when coming to conclusions. As you learn to make informed and autonomous choices, you will gain the freedom to consciously direct the flow of your life without interference.
The World as Home
Each day we choose to decorate our life just as we do our homes.
There are few things more thrilling than having a new house or an empty room to decorate. Our imaginations soar as we consider the many possibilities. In the same way, our lives offer us the opportunity to express ourselves within various contexts, to ask ourselves questions about what we want to see as we move through our days and how we want things to flow. Some people do this instinctively, moving through the various environments they inhabit and shifting the energy with their presence. These people have a knack for decorating life. This can be as simple as the way they dress, the way they speak, or the fact that they always bring a bouquet of wildflowers when they come for a visit.
As we move through the world, we make a statement, whether we intend to or not. We shift the energy one way when we enter a room dressed elegantly and simply, and another when we show up in bright, cheerful colors and a floppy hat. One is not better than the other. It is simply a question of the mood we wish to create. What we wear is just one choice we can focus on. The way we speak to people, or touch them, shifts the energy more profoundly than almost anything else. The words we speak and the tone in which we say them are the music we choose to play in the world that is our home. Some of us fill the space with passionate arias, others with healing hymns. Again, one is not better than the other. We are all called to contribute.
Just as we consciously create an environment within our homes, we can consciously choose to decorate life itself with our particular energy. Ideally, in doing so, we express our deeper selves, so that the adornments we add to the world make it more meaningful, more beautiful, and as welcoming as a beloved home.
Dealing with Difficult People
Opening the Channels of Communication
We all have the experience of difficult people in our lives at one point or another and honest but clear communication is the answer.
We encounter a wide variety of people throughout our lives. Many of them touch us in some positive way. Occasionally, however, we encounter those individuals who, for whatever reason, can be difficult to deal with. Perhaps this person is a colleague or close friend that you feel is deliberately being obtuse, inviting in trouble, or doing foolish things that you find annoying. Sometimes, it may be possible to appease or avoid those people short term. Dealing with them in the long term, however, can be exhausting. The behavior of difficult people can even make you feel like losing your temper, but keep your cool. Staying calm is the first step, especially when you are ready to confront them.
Avoiding a difficult person can improve impossible and not in your best interest, especially if you live or work together. Likewise, attempts to steer clear of them can become a source of stress and anxiety when they are a part of your social circle. When this is the case, it is best to kindly address the problem. Try not to let their actions or mood affect you. You also may want to try expressing your feelings directly. Tell to the person how their actions make you feel and encourage them toward a more positive course of action. Speak assertively, but respectfully, and don’t portray yourself as a victim. Another approach for dealing with a difficult individual is to gain a deeper understanding of who that person is. Ask them why they do or say certain things. If you disagree with their motives, question them further so you can try and discover the root of their behaviors. In doing so, you may be able to gently shift their perceptions, or at least help them understand your ! point of view.
You may want to think about what you want to say to a difficult person before you actually talk to them. If you can, avoid being judgmental or defensive, and try to approach the conversation objectively. If the person is open to the idea, try coming to an agreement. If approaching them fails, let it go and move on. There is no reason to let difficult person or situation have power over your state of being. Remember that a lot can be accomplished when you take the time to listen and offer up alternative perspectives.
Taking a Day Trip
We need not go on an expensive vacation to feel we have had time off as your local park or beach can offer a blissful refuge.
We tend to think of a vacation as something that requires an enormous amount of preparation, but small daylong excursions can be just as refreshing and fulfilling as their lengthier counterparts. A short drive can be the channel that transports you into a world of novel experiences and blissful relaxation. Solo day trips can be a wonderful way to unwind from the stresses of routine existence while simultaneously feeding the soul. And when you choose to share your day trip with someone you care about, a leisurely drive becomes a chance to talk about childhood, recall favorite songs, or simply spend time enjoying one another's presence.
You may be surprised to see how many day-trip possibilities exist within a mere hour's time from your home. Forests, beaches, lakes, mountains, rivers, and deserts can serve as the perfect spot for a mini-vacation. The physical and mental rejuvenation you experience in an unfamiliar and engaging setting are enhanced by meditation, journaling, deep breathing, or just being still with nature. Though the cost of gasoline can make taking a day trip seem frivolous, and our commitment to environmental well-being may cause us to hesitate before utilizing our cars in this manner, there are numerous ways we can effectively offset our carbon signature while still seeing to the needs of ourselves on a soul level.
Since day trips tend to require much smaller investments of time and money than traditional outings, you can enjoy a diverse range of experiences day by day. On one weekend, you may be motivated by a need to connect with your natural heritage to explore a vast state park or nature preserve. On another, your curiosity can inspire you to visit a historical site that has long piqued your interest. In the end, where you go will often be less important than your willingness to broaden your horizons by removing yourself from the environment already so familiar to you. Each mini-getaway you take will imbue your existence with a sensation of renewal that prepares you for whatever lies ahead.
Dark Night of the Soul
Surrendering the Ego
While we are in a dark night of the soul experience, hold steady knowing the light will appear once again.
Whenever a word is overused, it is most likely being misused, and over time, it begins to lose its meaningfulness. For example, we often refer to a fleeting feeling of depression or a period of confusion, as a dark night of the soul, but neither of these things qualifies as such. A dark night of the soul is a very specific experience that some people encounter on their spiritual journeys. There are people who never encounter a dark night of the soul, but others must endure this as part of the process of breaking through to the dawn of higher consciousness.
The dark night of the soul invites us to fully recognize the confines of our egos’ identity. We may feel as if we are trapped in a prison that affords us no access to light or the outside. We are coming from a place of higher knowing, and we may have spent a lot of time and energy reaching toward the light of higher consciousness. This is why the dark night has such a quality of despair: We are suddenly shut off from what we thought we had realized and the emotional pain is very real. We may even begin to feel that it was all an illusion and that we are lost forever in this darkness. The more we struggle, the darker things get, until finally we surrender to our not knowing what to do, how to think, where to turn. It is from this place of losing our sense of ourselves as in control that the ego begins to crack or soften and the possibility of light entering becomes real.
Some of us will have to endure this process only once in our lives, while others may have to go through it many times. The great revelation of the dark night is the releasing of our old, false identity. We finally give up believing in this false self and thus become capable of owning and embracing the light.
The rhythm of drumming is easy for our bodies to take in as was the rhythm of our mother's heartbeat.
That rhythm renews us is no secret. Drumming is the oldest form of music on the planet. Virtually every culture that exists or has existed on earth has practiced some form of drumming. In Africa, the beating of a drum continues to be an important part of significant ceremonies and holiday celebrations. Native American cultures use drumming as a means to reconnect an individual’s mental and physical selves. Throughout history, drumming has been a part of performing rituals, marking significant transitions, and celebrating life’s cycles. Our lives are infused with rhythm beginning at the very moment we first sense our mother’s heartbeat in her womb.
All manner of drumming has the ability to put us in touch with our own natural rhythms, the rhythms of the earth, and the rhythms of the people we choose to drum with. The drum can represent the heart, and drumming awakens the mind while stirring the soul. Drumming can take you to a place deep inside you where you are keenly aware of your mind and your body, as well as the vital bond between the two. Much like human beings, each drum has its own vibration and voice. Drumming alone can help you release tension, dispel stress and aggressive feelings, and restore your energy. It can also give you an opportunity to reestablish your connection to Mother Earth, as the beat of a drum can represent a crack of lightning, pounding ocean waves, or the tumult of an earthquake.
Drumming with others brings with it many benefits. Taking part in a drumming circle attunes us to the invisible energy that exists between us while uniting us in a common purpose. Drumming can be relaxing as well as energizing. It quiets mental chatter and can create a peaceful meditative state. In Navajo lore, the drum is the Great Spirit’s favorite instrument. It is said that this is why all human beings were given a heartbeat. The rhythmic beating of a drum can move us into new realms of consciousness. There is no right or wrong way to drum, and everyone has the innate ability to create rhythm. When you drum with intention, you’ll discover the rhythms that move you.
Healing with Movement
Our bodies were made to move and flow and within our movement we find a deeper connection to our bodies and the earth.
As children, most of us were encouraged to dance on a regular basis, freely and openly, in whatever way felt best. A few of us may have retained or regained our ability to engage in dancing unselfconsciously, but by the time we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped dancing altogether. We may have hang-ups about our bodies, or we may fear being judged. Then again, we may simply have fallen out of the habit for so long that we don’t even realize we never dance anymore. Whatever the case, there’s no time like now to rediscover the healing pleasure of moving your body to music—alone, as part of a couple, or in a group. Opportunities to dance abound, once you start looking for them.
If you haven’t danced in a long time and feel too self-conscious to start in a public situation, find some time alone to reintroduce yourself to the joy of listening and responding to music with your body. Turn the lights down low and remember that it’s much more fun when you’re not thinking about what you look like. It won’t take long before your body remembers how much it loves to move. Feel the music in your soul, feel the vibrations healing your body. Treat the time like a meditation session in which you agree to allow yourself to fully inhabit your amazing body.
If you feel awkward, remember that every culture since time immemorial has celebrated life and the body with dance. All people carry the memory of dance in their blood and bones. In other words, you were born to do this, it is in you already; all you have to do is start moving. If you prefer more interaction, take a class one night a week. In most cities, you can find everything from modern dance to African dance to ballroom and salsa. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret choosing to rediscover your birthright—the healing, joyful thrill of dancing.
Nourishing and Cleansing
Performing Daily Ceremony
Having daily ritual or ceremony in our lives is very important to keep us connected to what really matters.
When we perform or participate in rituals and ceremonies, we enter into a state of mind that is different from mundane consciousness. Ranging in significance from bedtime stories to weddings, ceremonies and rituals are acknowledgments that an event or period of time has special meaning. As a result, they can have the effect of drawing us into the moment, inviting us to pay closer attention and tune into the subtle energies that are always present but that often go unrecognized. In addition, as we perform the same actions we have performed before and will perform again, we immerse ourselves in a river of continuity that extends back into the past and forward into the future.
Many of us have distanced ourselves from rituals that may have seemed too constricting or too attached to an organized religion we have chosen not to follow. However, we can reclaim the practices of ceremony and ritual to good effect, imbuing them with our new consciousness, and we do not have to wait for a big event to do it. We can engage in daily practices that include ritual and ceremony, reminding ourselves throughout the day of the sacredness of this life.
In fact, if we look closely, we will see that our days are already made up of rituals, from the time we wake up to the time we retire. So we do not need to change anything except our perspective to imbue our day with an air of ceremony.
Most of our daily rituals revolve around nourishing and cleansing, both of which have always been sacred acts. With this in mind, we may pause before each meal, close our eyes, and say a silent thank you to the universe that provides. If we want to get more elaborate, we can light candles or bless our food. Similarly, as we wash ourselves in the morning and evening, we can choose to see the grace in this act of cleansing and purification as we release what has past and prepare ourselves for the new. We can be as simple or as complex as we like, so long as our attitude is one of reverence for this sacred moment in this sacred life.
Learning from the Big Picture
Cycle of Life
While we are on earth we are all human beings in different phases of our lives and soul development.
As we walk through the world, the people we encounter appear so different from one another. We see babies, old men, pregnant women, and teenaged boys. We know couples on the verge of marriage and lonely widows. We interact with toddlers and the terminally ill. As different as each person seems, they are all living the human experience. They are just at different places in the cycle that begins with birth and ends with death. Every phase of the cycle of life has its gifts and its challenges. Each stage is temporary and ultimately gives way to a new phase. This ephemeral quality makes each phase precious, because it will never last.
One of the wonderful qualities possessed by babies and young children is that they are unaware that a cycle of life even exists. They simply are present to wherever they happen to be right now, and they don’t give much thought to the past or future. Being around them reminds us of the joy that comes from living fully in the moment. On the opposite end of life’s cycle are our elderly role models. They are a reminder that each phase of life should be treasured. Time does pass, and we all change and grow older.
Being aware of the cycle of life and our place in it makes us wiser. As we develop a true appreciation for the phase we are in, we can savor it more. A new mother going through a difficult time with her infant can more easily embrace her challenges because she knows that her child will grow up, and she will long for this time again. Difficult and challenging periods are inevitable, but – like everything that is a part of the cycle of life – they are temporary. When we are fully engaged with life, we get to savor and grow from each phase, and we are ready for the next one when it arrives. Fully embracing wherever you are in the cycle of life is the very essence to happiness.
A Sense of Closure
Sometimes the emotions we are feeling belong to the person we are in a connection with and an energetic cord must be severed.
In every relationship, people are constantly exchanging energy that can become a chord connecting two people. This energetic cord forms just below the breastbone and can remain long after a relationship has ended. This unbroken cord may leave an open channel between you and another person, through which emotions and energy can continue to flow. If you are unaware that the chord exists, it is easy to feel the other person’s emotions and mistakenly think that they are yours. Besides the fact that this can limit the amount of closure you can experience in a relationship, letting this cord remain intact can leave you with a continued sense of sadness while creating feelings of lethargy as your own energy is sapped from you. Cutting the cord can help you separate yourself from old baggage, unnecessary attachments, and release you from connections that are no longer serving you.
Finding and cutting unwanted cords is a simple, gentle process that is best done alone and when you are relaxed. It is important that you are strong in your intention to release the chord between you and someone else. To begin, breathe deeply and perform a simple centering meditation. When you are ready, visualize or sense the chords that are connecting you to other people. Run your fingers through the cords to separate them until you find the cord you wish to sever. There is no need to worry, because the chord you need to sever will feel just right. When you have found it, determine where the cut should be made and then visualize the cord being cleanly cut. If you need assistance, Archangel Michael can be called upon to help you with his sword. Afterwards, if you feel that cutting the chord has left spaces in your energy field, then visualize those spaces being filled with healing sunlight.
There may be times where cutting a cord can help free a relative or loved one to reach new stages of growth. You’re not severing a relationship, but you are severing the chords that are no longer serving you both. At other times, a cord may simply refuse to be cut because it is still serving a higher purpose. It is also important to remember that cutting a cord with someone is not a replacement for doing your emotional work with people. It can, however, be an enactment of that work upon its completion. In any case, cutting a relationship cord should always be viewed as a positive and nurturing act. By cutting the cords that no longer need to be there, you are setting yourself and others free from the ties that bind.
When Life Throws You a Curve Ball
When the unexpected happens, you always have your inner core strength which cannot be taken from you.
In life, we are always setting goals for ourselves and working to make them happen. This gives us focus and ensures that we use our time and energy efficiently and effectively. It also provides us with a sense of purpose and direction. We know where we are going and what we want to do. But quite often, due to forces outside our control, things do not go as we had planned—the flat tire on the way to the wedding, the unforeseen flu virus—and we have to adjust to a postponement or create a whole new set of circumstances. Even positive turns of fortune — an unexpected influx of cash or falling in love — require us to be flexible and to reconsider our plans and priorities, sometimes in the blink of an eye. This is what happens when life throws you a curve ball.
The ability to accept what is happening and let go of your original expectations is key when dealing with these unexpected turns of fate. We have a tendency to get stuck in our heads, clinging to an idea of how we think life should go, and we can have a hard time accepting anything that doesn’t comply with that idea. The fact is that life is unpredictable. The trip you thought was for business — and when the deal fell through, you got depressed — actually landed you at the airport two days earlier than planned so you could meet the love of your life. Your car breaks down, and you are late for an appointment. While it’s true that you never arrive at that important meeting, you end up spending a few relaxing hours with people you would never have met otherwise.
In order to keep us awake to opportunity and to teach us equanimity, the universe throws us the occasional curve ball. Remember that curve balls are not only life’s way of keeping us awake, which is a gift in and of itself; they are also often life’s way of bringing us wonderful surprises. Next time a curve ball comes your way, take a deep breath, say thank you, and open your mind to a new opportunity.
No Hard Edges
Creating Space in the Body
As we move deeper into meditation, the state of our mind expands thus allowing us to create more space within our body.
Our minds and bodies are interconnected, and the condition of one affects the condition of the other. This is why meditation is such a powerful tool for healing the body, as powerful as physical therapies. When our minds are cluttered with thoughts, information, and plans, our bodies respond by trying to take action. When the body has a clear directive from the mind, it knows what to do, but a cluttered, unfocused mind creates a confused, tense body. Our muscles tighten up, our breath shortens, and we find ourselves feeling constricted without necessarily knowing why.
When we sit down to meditate, we let our bodies know that it is okay to be still and rest. This is a clear directive from the mind, and the body knows exactly how to respond. Thus, at the very beginning, we have created a sense of clarity for the body and the mind. As we move deeper into meditation, the state of our mind reveals itself, and we have the opportunity to consciously decide to settle it. A meditation teacher pointed out that if you put a cow in a small pen, she acts up and pushes against the boundaries, whereas if you provide her with a large, open space, she will peacefully graze in one spot. In the same way, our thoughts settle down peacefully if we provide them with enough space, and our bodies follow suit.
When we settle down to examine and experience our consciousness, we discover that there are no hard, definable edges. It is a vast, open space in which our thoughts can come and go without making waves, as long as we let them by neither attaching to them nor repressing them. As we see our thoughts come and go, we begin to breathe deeper and more easily, finding that our body is more open to the breath as it relaxes along with the mind. In this way, the space we recognize through meditation creates space in our bodies, allowing for a feeling of lightness and rightness with the world.
Taking a Time Out
You Are Not Crazy
Sometimes as adults, we just need a time out to refocus and gather ourselves before starting out again.
Most of us feel a little crazy from time to time. Periods of high stress can make us feel like we’re losing it, as can being surrounded by people whose values are very different from our own. Losing a significant relationship and moving into a new life situation are other events that can cause us to feel off kilter. Circumstances like these recur in our lives, and they naturally affect our mental stability. The symptoms of our state of mind can range from having no recollection of putting our car keys where we eventually find them, to wondering if we’re seeing things clearly when everyone around us seems to be in denial of what’s going on right in front of their eyes. For most of us, the key to survival at times like these is to step back, take a deep breath, and regain our composure. Then we can decide what course of action to take.
Sometimes a time-out does the trick. We take a day off from whatever is making us feel crazy and, like magic, we feel in our right mind again. Talking to an objective friend can also help. We begin to see what it is about the situation that destabilizes us, and we can make changes from there. At other times, if the situation is particularly sticky, we may need to seek professional help. Meeting with someone who understands the way the human mind reacts to stress, loss, and difficulty can make us feel less alone and more supported. A therapist or a spiritual counselor can give us techniques that help bring us back to a sane state of mind so that we can affect useful changes. They can also mirror our basic goodness, helping us to see that we are actually okay.
The main purpose of the wake-up call that feeling crazy provides is to let us know that something in our lives is out of balance. Confirm for yourself that you are capable of creating a sane and peaceful reality for yourself. Try to remember that most people have felt, at one time or another, that they are losing it. You deserve a life that helps you thrive. Try and take some steps today to help you achieve more balance and a little less crazy.
Hearing the One Voice
Taking Counsel in a Circle
The use of a talking stick during counsel assures every voice is heard fully without interruption.
When we sit in a circle together and share our thoughts and feelings, we participate in a powerful, unifying practice whose origins stem from the very beginning of human time. All early cultures practiced some form of this ritual, which gives each individual in the group a voice, and at the same time reveals the one voice, and the ultimate unity, of the group. This profound and simple way of talking and listening has experienced a modern rebirth in counseling, social work, and spirituality.
Most circles benefit from the presence of a leader who opens the circle by calling in angels, spirit guides, and ancestors—beings of light who will be present with those taking counsel. The leader may announce a theme for the circle, or one may simply evolve from the unstructured expressions of each participant. The circle continues for as long as feels right, at which point the leader may summarize what has been said, perhaps leading everyone in a moment of silence before the circle disbands. One of the most powerful components of this work is the talking stick, which can be any object—a crystal, a flower, or a candle—that is passed around the circle from person to person. The person holding the object speaks until he has fully expressed his feelings, and no one else interjects, interrupts, or even responds until they are holding the stick. This enables people who have a hard time speaking out to express long buried feelings and points of view. This is powerful because in a! community it is often what is not said or acknowledged that causes the most pain and suffering.
The circle, which contains no hard edges or angles, is the ideal container for these difficult truths. As we hear the many perspectives the subject at hand inspires, we begin to see that our individual truth is just one of many. Our own hard edges begin to soften as the circle flows from one person to the next, and each wave of words cleanses us of one more layer of mental and emotional armor, freeing us to be closer to the people around us. Try using counsel during your next family meeting, school class, or any setting where you feel a centering communication method is needed.
Acting Together for Good
Cooperation is allowed to flow more easily when we let go of the necessity to be right all the time.
Cooperation seems simple: working together toward a common goal for the benefit of all involved. But amazingly it can be quite challenging, even when we have so many successful examples all around us. Human society is based upon the concept of cooperation, but finding a balance to ensure the good of all members of society is difficult. In nature, symbiotic relationships form between unlikely allies: a bee and a flower, a bird and a rhinoceros, small fish and sharks. Yet nature also shows us instances of constant competition in which only the strongest survive. Given the choice, it seems most people would choose the more peaceful path of cooperation. Intellectually, we know that together we can create something greater than what one could do alone, but cooperation still seems to be one of the greatest challenges people face. We don’t always agree on how goals can be reached. Our priorities may be different, or our methods, but in the end, cooperation offers the best chance fo! r success.
So how can we learn to cooperate with each other? We can gain greater perspective by trying to understand one another’s point of view, perhaps even putting ourselves in their place. We can search for commonalities as well as differences, and look for the good in different approaches. There is always more than one way of doing things, and some approaches are better suited for certain situations than others. All this is easier when we let go of the necessity to be right and to call others wrong. More important, we must believe that there is a solution that benefits all involved, not just one side.
The results of cooperation can be as simple as effortlessly getting everyone in your household to their appointments to large-scale social shifts to changing minds and hearts or policies that affect the future.
Prioritizing over Smokescreens
When we offer nothing but excuses in our lives, we are not being honest with anybody, mostly ourselves.
Excuses may seem like rational reasons for us not to do something, but if we’re not careful we can allow them to keep us from reaching our goals. Too often we accept our excuses as reasons why we cannot accomplish what we set out to do, and instead of finding alternatives we give up. But if we can be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for our choices, we will begin to notice that we no longer give excuses. When we keep our minds focused on our goals, we will find that excuses fade away in the light of our priorities, and issues become challenges that can help us become wiser and stronger.
Sometimes we may give others excuses rather than be fully honest. We may think it is kind to tell someone we are willing to do something with them, whether work or play, but then keep putting them off. This diverts our energy into keeping the truth at a distance while continuing a falsehood. But when we can take responsibility for our feelings and express them honestly, but gently, the other person is free to find someone who is better suited to accompany them while we are free to pursue the things we like. When we can do this, our energy can be invested in building better lives and relationships.
There’s another way in which excuses rob us of energy—and that is in the power of our thoughts and words. If we find ourselves in a situation, for example, where we are being asked for a financial contribution but we use the excuse that we can’t afford it, we create and attract lack and limitation into our lives. The same goes for seemingly simple things like pretending to not feel well or any other false statement. We may think that excuses make things easier, but they complicate matters with smokescreens. When we can commit to our priorities, take responsibility for our choices, and communicate them honestly to others, there will be no need to make excuses, and we will have much more energy to dedicate to all the things we love.
Letting the Curves Take You
The answer to control is practicing surrender.
Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.
As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, “I surrender to this life.” This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.
We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride.
The last 3 days of a lunar cycle is a time to let go and purge anything in your life that you want to change.
In ancient times, the moon was revered as a goddess, and each of her lunar phases – new moon, full moon, and dark moon – was said to correspond to the three phases of a woman’s life: maiden, mother, and crone. The moon has long been associated with our power within, and you do not have to be a woman to connect with the moon’s power. The dark moon, which is associated with the crone phase, appears in the sky during the last three days of every lunar cycle. It cannot be seen with the human eye, but it is the dark moon that presides over the sky until a new 28-day cycle begins and a new moon is ready to appear. Often referred to as the “dead moon,” the dark moon doesn’t necessarily represent death. It is, however, a time for life-enriching endings and a prelude to new beginnings.
When the dark moon appears, it becomes easier for us to shed unnecessary emotional baggage and free ourselves of people and ideas that no longer serve us or add value to our life. It is a time to cleanse ourselves and create space so that what is new can enter. For many people, the dark moon is a time to rest, be introspective, and replenish their energy. Powerful, healing dreams have been known to take place during the dark moon, and you may discover that it is during the dark moon that you are most driven to meditate, explore your intuitive abilities, retrieve past life memories, or delve more deeply into your psyche.
One way to harness the energy of the dark moon is to perform a ritual where you light a black candle. Call forth and visualize the different parts of your life that you are ready to let go of. Through visualization, bind these parts together with light and imagine this bundle moving toward the candle. Watch these old parts being devoured by the flames, and let the candle burn out. Trust that what you’ve released has left you. You are now ready to welcome the new into your life.
Contracting before Expanding
Going through the Opening
It is a natural part of being that our lives sometimes contract before expanding.
Sometimes our lives contract before they expand. We may be working hard on ourselves spiritually, doing good in the world, following our dreams, and wondering why we are still facing constrictions of all kinds—financial, emotional, physical. Perhaps we even feel as if we’ve lost our spirituality and are stuck in a dark room with no windows. We may be confused and discouraged by what appears to be a lack of progress. But sometimes this is the way things work. Like a caterpillar that confines itself to a tiny cocoon before it grows wings and flies, we are experiencing the darkness before the dawn.
When things feel tight, it’s easy to panic or want to act in some way to ease the feeling of constriction. We might also spin our wheels mentally, trying to understand why things are the way they are. However, there is nothing we need to do at this time other than to be patient and persevering. We can cling to the awareness that we are processing the shift from one stage to another, and the more we surrender to the experience, the more quickly we will move through the tightness into the opening on the other side. Just like a baby making its way down the birth canal, we may feel squeezed and pushed and very uncomfortable, but if we remember that we are on our way to being born into a new reality, we will find the strength to carry on.
Even as we endure the contractions, we can find peace within ourselves if we remember to trust the universe. We can look to the natural world for inspiration as we see that all beings surrender to the process of being born. In that surrender, and in the center of our own hearts, is a willingness to trust in the unknown as we make our way through the opening.
We Are All Connected
Being aware of the connection between all things can help you in terms of the broader effect you may be creating.
There are times when we may feel disconnected from the world. Our actions can seem like they are of no major consequence, and we may feel like we exist in our own vacuum. Yet, the truth is that our simplest thought or action - the decisions we make each day, and how we see and relate to the world - can be incredibly significant and have a profound impact on the lives of those around us, as well as the world at large. The earth and everything on it is bound by an invisible connection between people, animals, plants, the air, the water, and the soil. Insignificant actions on your part, whether positive or negative, can have an impact on people and the environment that seem entirely separate from your personal realm of existence. Staying conscious of the interconnection between all things can help you think of your choices and your life in terms of the broader effect you may be creating.
Think of buying a wooden stool. The wood was once part of a tree which is part of a forest. A person was paid to fell the tree, another to cut the wood, and yet another to build the stool. Their income may have had a positive effect on their families, just as the loss of the tree may have had a negative impact on the forest or the animals that made that tree their home. An encouraging word to a young child about their special talent can influence this person to develop their gift so that one day their inventions can change the lives of millions. A poem written “merely” to express oneself can make a stranger reading it online from thousands of miles away feel less alone because there is someone else out there who feels exactly the way they do.
Staying conscious of your connection to all things can help you think of your choices in terms of their impact. We are powerful enough that what we do and say can reverberate through the lives of people we may never meet. Understanding that you are intimately connected with all things and understanding your power to affect our world can be the first step on the road to living more consciously.
The Strength of Compassion
Coming at Conflict with an Open Heart
Conflict should always be met with open ears and an open heart.
Conflict is an unavoidable part of our lives because our beliefs and modes of being often contrast powerfully with those of our loved ones, acquaintances, and associates. Yet for all the grief disagreements can cause, we can learn much from them. The manner in which we handle ourselves when confronted with anger or argument demonstrates our overall level of patience and the quality of our energetic states. To resolve conflict, no matter how exasperating the disagreement at hand, we should approach our adversary with an open heart laden with compassion. Judgments and blame must be cast aside and replaced with mutual respect. Conflict is frequently motivated by unspoken needs that are masked by confrontational attitudes or aggressive behavior. When we come at conflict with love and acceptance in our hearts, we empower ourselves to discover a means to attaining collective resolution.
The key to finding the wisdom concealed in conflict is to ask yourself why you clash with a particular person or situation. Your inner self or the universe may be trying to point you to a specific life lesson, so try to keep your ears and eyes open. Once you have explored the internal and external roots of your disagreement, make a conscious effort to release any anger or resentment you feel. As you do so, the energy between you and your adversary with change perceptibly, even if they are still operating from a more limited energy state. Consider that each of you likely has compelling reasons for thinking and feeling as you do, and accept that you have no power to change your adversary’s mind. This can help you approach your disagreement rationally, with a steady voice and a willingness to compromise.
If you listen thoughtfully and with an empathetic ear during conflict, you can transform clashes into opportunities to compromise. Examine your thoughts and feelings carefully. You may discover stubbornness within yourself that is causing resistance or that you are unwittingly feeding yourself negative messages about your adversary. As your part in disagreements becomes gradually more clear, each new conflict becomes another chance to further hone your empathy, compassion, and tolerance.
Receiving a Gift with Grace
When we willingly accept compliments, we are reminded that others see us through different eyes.
Many of us find it difficult to accept compliments but easy to believe the slightest criticism. Today, right now, let’s make a choice to fully accept compliments as we would a gift. Sincere compliments are gifts of praise. They are kudos given for wise choices or accomplishments or perhaps for just letting your light shine. There is no reason not to accept the gift of a kind word, but some of us argue against them, even giving reasons why they aren’t true.
If we visualize the energy of a compliment, we would see beautiful, shining, positive energy being sent from the giver. That energy, if accepted graciously, would brighten our personal energy field. Our gratitude then returns to the giver as warm, fuzzy, glowing energy, completing an even circuit of good feelings. But if we reject a compliment, what could have been a beautiful exchange becomes awkward and uncomfortable, making it a negative experience instead. Misplaced modesty can ruin the joy of sharing this connection with another person. But we can accept a compliment and still be modest by simply saying “thank you.” However, if compliments are rejected due to a lack of self-esteem, then the first step would be to start believing good things about yourself. Try giving yourself compliments in the mirror. Beyond the initial feelings of silliness, you will notice how good it feels and can watch the smile it puts on your face. The next step would be to see how it feels to gi! ve compliments to others. Notice how great you feel when you’ve made another person’s face brighten and how differently you feel when the gift you’ve offered is rejected. Having experienced all sides, you will be ready to play along fully and willingly.
We are our harshest critics. When we accept compliments, we are reminded that others see us through different eyes. All living beings crave positive attention, and we all deserve to have positive energy shared with us. Perhaps if we happily and gratefully accept compliments, we will give others permission to do so as well.
Tearing Down to Rebuild
When we spend all of our time complaining, we are in essence in constant destroy mode rather than building mode.
We all know someone who has elevated the process of complaining to a high art. Sometimes funny, sometimes exhausting, these people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere. In its more evolved form, complaining is simply the ability to see what’s not working, in one’s own life or in the external world, and it can be quite useful if followed to its natural conclusion—finding a solution and applying it. However, many of us don’t get that far, and we find that complaining has become an end in itself. In small doses, this is not a big problem, but if complaining has become a huge part of our identities, it may be time to take a good look at how we are spending our energy.
Complaining is a person’s way of acknowledging that they are not happy with the way things are. In a metaphorical way, when we complain or criticize, we are tearing down an undesirable structure in order to make room for something new. But if all we do is tear down, never bothering to summon the creative energy required to create something new, we are not fulfilling the process. In fact, we are at risk for becoming a stagnant and destructive force in our own lives and in the lives of the people we love. Another issue with complaining is that we sometimes tend to focus on other people, whom we can’t change, as a way of deflecting attention from the one person we can change—ourselves. So transforming complaining into something useful is a twofold process that begins with turning our critical eye to look at things we can actually do something about, and then taking positive action.
When we find ourselves complaining, the last thing we need to do is get down on ourselves. Instead, we can begin by noticing that we are in the mode of wanting to make some changes. But rather than lashing out at somebody or an organization, we can look for an appropriate place to channel this energy—not our neighbor’s house, but possibly parts of our own. Finally, we can ask ourselves the positive question of what we would like to create in the place of whatever it is we want to tear down. When we do this, we channel a negative habit into a creative process, thus using our energy to change the world around us in a positive way.
Wining Isn’t Everything
Competing with Yourself
When we are satisfied with our life, we do not look for experiences of winning and losing to define our self-worth.
The urges that drive us to compete with others tend to be straightforward. Years of both evolution and societal influences have shaped us to pit ourselves against our peers. The needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, however, are entirely personal and thus far more complex. A need to outdo our earlier efforts—to confirm that we have grown as individuals—can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We are capable of using our past achievements as a foundation from which we venture confidently into the unknown. Yet if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth or a need to prove ourselves to others, even glowing successes can feel disheartening. Examining why we compete with ourselves enables us to positively identify those contests that will enrich our existence.
There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.
Consider, too, that successful efforts that would be deemed more than good enough when evaluated from an external perspective may not satisfy our inner judge, who can drive us ruthlessly. In order to attain balance, we have to learn the art of patience even as we strive to achieve our highest vision of who we are. When we feel drained, tense, or unhappy as we pursue our goals, it may be that we are pushing ourselves for the wrong reasons. Our enthusiasm for our endeavors will return as soon as we recall that authentic evolution is a matter not of winning but of taking pride in our progress at any pace.
In The Presence of Difficulty
True compassion recognizes that all the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and others are an illusion.
Compassion is the ability to see the deep connectedness between ourselves and others. Moreover, true compassion recognizes that all the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and others are an illusion. When we first begin to practice compassion, this very deep level of understanding may elude us, but we can have faith that if we start where we are, we will eventually feel our way toward it. We move closer to it every time we see past our own self-concern to accommodate concern for others. And, as with any skill, our compassion grows most in the presence of difficulty.
We practice small acts of compassion every day, when our loved ones are short-tempered or another driver cuts us off in traffic. We extend our forgiveness by trying to understand their point of view; we know how it is to feel stressed out or irritable. The practice of compassion becomes more difficult when we find ourselves unable to understand the actions of the person who offends us. These are the situations that ask us to look more deeply into ourselves, into parts of our psyches that we may want to deny, parts that we have repressed because society has labeled them bad or wrong. For example, acts of violence are often well beyond anything we ourselves have perpetuated, so when we are on the receiving end of such acts, we are often at a loss. This is where the real potential for growth begins, because we are called to shine a light inside ourselves and take responsibility for what we have disowned. It is at this juncture that we have the opportunity to transform from with! in.
This can seem like a very tall order, but when life presents us with circumstances that require our compassion, no matter how difficult, we can trust that we are ready. We can call upon all the light we have cultivated so far, allowing it to lead the way into the darkest parts of our own hearts, connecting us to the hearts of others in the understanding that is true compassion.
Caretaking the Soul of Gaia
Just as you have energy centers in your body called Chakras, so too does Mother Earth.
As we walk upon the earth, we walk upon a living being more similar to ourselves than we imagine. Just like us, the earth has both a physical body and an energetic body, complete with a chakra system identified by ancient mystics and modern scientists alike. Gaia, as the earth is called when acknowledged as a living entity in her own right, has her own life force and her own path of unfolding, separate from us, but including us. Human beings and Gaia are intertwined on every level, not just the physical, and an awareness of her chakras can help us to acknowledge, heal, and enable her on her path, just as she selflessly returns the favor to us.
It is generally agreed that Gaia has seven major chakras distributed evenly across her body and connected to one another via two lines of energy that intersect at various points on the earth. The first chakra is located at Mount Shasta in Northern California; the second is in Lake Titicaca in South America; the third chakra is in Uluru-Kata Tjuta in Australia; the fourth chakra resides in Glastonbury in England; the fifth chakra is at the Great Pyramid in Mount of Olives; the sixth chakra is in Kuh-e Malek Siah in Iran, and the seventh chakra is in Mount Kailas in Tibet. In addition to her seven major chakras, she has minor chakras and other vortexes of energy that are significant to her life-energy system, and all these energy centers need caretaking. Just as we can heal ourselves through our own chakras, we can heal and support Gaia through hers.
While it would be a wonderful experience to visit one of the earth’s chakras, you can always participate in loving and healing Gaia wherever you are. Maintaining an awareness of the regions in which her chakras reside can be very powerful. You may place photos of the locales on your altar, sending healing energy to each of her chakras during your meditations. As you consciously connect your energy system to her energy system, the true meaning of groundedness reveals itself—it is a relationship with Gaia in which we acknowledge our calling as the caretakers of her soul.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
There is nobody else like you in the world and this is worth celebrating rather than searching for faults.
You are unique. There is no one else like you in the entire universe. In honor of your unique self, it is good to acknowledge and embrace the special qualities that make you the person that you are. One way to do this is to not compare yourself with other people.
It is human nature to want to see how we measure up in comparison to others – especially if we think that they are better than us or have more of something that we want. Yet the truth is that it is not a good use of time to compare ourselves with others because there is no one like us and this makes us incomparable. It is sometimes almost easier to look outside of ourselves and feel like we are deficient in comparison to other people rather than taking responsibility for our own progress in relation to the fulfillment of our life purpose. It actually takes more courage to be self-referential and look at ourselves to see whether we are measuring up to our standards or meeting our full potential. Each of us has very special gifts, and we are here for very specific reasons. We each have a life purpose to fulfill and with this come the lessons that we must learn and the circumstances that we must go through in order to evolve as spiritual beings. To compare our lives to other pe! ople’s lives when we have no idea of what they are here to learn or fulfill doesn’t benefit anyone – especially you.
Instead, if we can accept ourselves, appreciate the special talents and qualities that we alone possess, and realize that each of us is going through certain kinds of experiences for a reason, we are less likely focus so much on what other people have or are doing. Realizing and valuing our uniqueness enables us to bring out the best in ourselves so we can get on with living rather than preoccupying ourselves with meaningless comparisons. Try to not compare yourself to others, and you will see how much you have and how special you are.
Small Gestures Make a Big Difference
Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference and should be practiced as often as possible.
We often feel that we don’t have the time or energy to extend ourselves to others with the small gestures that compose what we call common courtesy. It sometimes seems that this kind of social awareness belongs to the past, to smaller towns and slower times. Yet, when someone extends this kind of courtesy to us, we always feel touched. Someone who lends a helping hand when we are struggling with our groceries makes an impression because many people just walk right by. Even someone who simply makes the effort to look us in the eye, smile, and greet us properly when entering a room stands out of the crowd. It seems these people carry with them the elegance and grace of another time, and we are always thankful for our contact with them. Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference.
An essential component of common courtesy is awareness and common sense—looking outside yourself to see when someone needs help or acknowledgment. As a courteous person, you are aware that you are walking into a room full of people or that your waiter has arrived to take your order. Then, awareness leads to action. It is usually quite clear what needs to be done—open the door for the woman holding the baby, move your car up two feet so another person can park behind you, acknowledge your sister’s shy boyfriend with a smile and some conversation, apologize if you bump into someone. A third component is to give courtesy freely, without expecting anything in return. People may not even take notice, much less return the kindness, but you can take heart in the fact that you are creating the kind of world you want to live in with your actions.
When you are out in the world, remember to be aware of others, lend your hand when one is needed, and give this help without an ulterior motive. Through these small actions, you make this world a better place in which to live.
The Journey of Commitment
Entering into Commitment
Many people have not witnessed a loving relationship between their parents, so they don’t know what it looks like.
Loving and committing to another person is a spiritual process whether it involves a wedding or any other type of commitment ceremony. Often when we enter into a relationship, we allow our emotions to lead us forward without thinking more deeply about what true commitment involves. If we can understand that sharing our lives with another person is not just based on love but also on the hard work of being able to compromise and enter into a dialogue with them, then we are much more likely to find the key to having a successful relationship with our partners. So many people have not experienced a loving relationship between their own parents and therefore have no role model of what love should feel like or look like.
Many of us have been exposed to the idea that love should be romantic and sweep us off our feet. While this is a natural part of any relationship, the true test of our love comes from our willingness to explore this world with another person; to not only share in the delights that we encounter but also to negotiate the bumps in the road together. Generally this often takes the form of a mutual exchange of ideas, but because any relationship is based on the needs and experiences of two people, we might also face a certain amount of misunderstanding. Learning to be open and receptive to our partners and to treat their wants and ideas with respect can help us navigate even the most difficult situations. One way to do this is to take a deep breath, holding our partner in a space of love, and allow ourselves to listen fully with our hearts to what they have to say. Should this become difficult to do, we can also turn toward people whose relationships we admire for advice or guida! nce. Knowing that there are resources out there to help us and being up for exploring them with our partner will only serve to deepen and strengthen our relationship.
Entering into a committed relationship is in fact a spiritual journey that we undertake with another person. By being able to love and care for someone else with an open heart, we will find that we can reach a greater level of personal transformation, evolving along our path and learning powerful lessons about ourselves that we might not otherwise be able to do on our own.
The Boundaries of Experience
Expanding Your Comfort Zone
Your current comfort zone has served you, but it represents your behaviors and patterns from your past.
None of us are born with a guidebook that provides explicit rules for thought and behavior that will enable us to navigate life successfully. To cope with the myriad of complexities to which all of humanity is subject, we each develop a set of habits and routines that ground us, their continuity assuring us that life is progressing normally. Most of us know, whether instinctively or by experience, that transformations can be uncomfortable, but we always learn and gain so much. Any initial discomfort we experience when expanding our comfort zones diminishes gradually as we both become accustomed to change and begin to understand that temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the evolution of our soul.
Your current comfort zone did, at one time, serve a purpose in your life. But it is representative of behaviors and patterns of thought that empowered you to cope with challenges of days past. Now, this comfort zone does little to facilitate the growth you wish to achieve in the present. Leaving your comfort zone behind through personal expansion of any kind can prepare you to take the larger leaps of faith that will, in time, help you refine your purpose. Work your way outward at your own pace, and try not to let your discomfort interfere with your resolve. With the passage of each well-earned triumph, you will have grown and your comfort zone will have expanded to accommodate this evolution.
Whether your comfort zone is living with your parents, or perhaps being too shy to socialize, or maybe it’s not realizing your spirit self—whatever it is, start small, and you will discover that venturing beyond the limited comfort zone you now cling to is not as stressful an experience as you imagined it might be. And the joy you feel upon challenging yourself in this way will nearly always outweigh your discomfort. As you continue to expand your comfort zone to include new ideas, activities, goals, and experiences, you will see that you are capable of stimulating change and coping with the fresh challenges that accompany it.
No Need to Wait
In our world, there is always someone in need of our best efforts to rally a group of helpers and healers.
We humans have a knack for coming together and rising up to our potential in the face of a tragedy. Natural disasters and acts of violence bring us out of our small selves and into the world, ready to lend a hand to those in need. This experience is often life-changing for those who are willing to step into the position of helper. We feel as if we are finally doing something really important, and this leads us to feeling more self-actualized. We feel more connected to the people we are helping, as well as more connected to humanity in general. As we expand beyond the boundaries of our individualistic pursuit of happiness there can be a complete reality shift. We often find that it is much easier to be happy when we are motivated in an effort to make the world better in tangible ways, by coming to the rescue of those who are suffering.
Considering the many benefits of this kind of gesture, it is surprising that more of us don’t devote our lives, or at least some portion of our time, to serving people in need. We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to come together, as a community or a nation, and offer ourselves to the world in service. Sometimes it’s easier, of course, to respond to an event that has just happened rather than to ongoing problems like homelessness, poverty, and illness. But the truth of this world is that there is always someone in need of our best efforts to rally a group of helpers and healers. Maybe we feel discouraged because these smaller acts and gestures don’t generate the same kind of energy and attention from other people as heroic acts in the face of immediate disaster, and perhaps an effort to change this is one way to change the world.
The more we promote, applaud, and actively inspire humanitarian efforts in the world, the more others will be drawn to this kind of work. We might pay a little less attention to sports and celebrity gossip and a little more attention to those everyday heroes who devote their lives to alleviating suffering. The more attention we pay, the more we will inspire others and ourselves to be of service in a world that greatly needs our attention.
Loving the Light
Often the colors we like best are the colors we most need in our lives and provide us with subtle vibrational help.
The wondrous displays of color that define the world around us are manifestations of light and, as such, each possesses a unique frequency. The attraction we feel to certain colors is not a matter of pure chance—we experience the beneficial affects of color even while blindfolded. We are naturally drawn to those colors that lift our mood, expand consciousness, and restore health. Color therapy, also known as chromo therapy, allows us to harness the power of individual color frequencies to heal the body, positively influence our emotions, and achieve a renewed sense of inner harmony through sympathetic resonance. Colors do not directly affect the composition of our physical, mental, or aura, but they noninvasively alter the vibrational characteristics of diverse elements of the self so that each resonates at its proper healthy frequency.
It is easy to overlook the colors that saturate our personal and professional environments. Yet these, whether in the form of the paint on our walls or the clothing we wear, can influence our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to an extraordinary degree. The colors we like best are often those that we need most in our lives, and there are many ways we can utilize them. Basking under a colored lightbulb or gazing at an area of color can stimulate or calm us depending on the color we choose. For example, red stimulates the brain, circulatory systems, and first chakra, giving us an energy boost, while blue acts on the throat chakra, soothing the body and mind. And when we do not feel drawn to any one color, we can still benefit from the healing effects of white light, which is an amalgamation of all the colors of the visible spectrum. It is a cleansing color, one that can purify us on many levels.
Human beings evolved to delight in vivid sunsets and rainbows, to enjoy the sensations awakened by particularly eye-catching color, and to decorate our spaces and ourselves with bright colors. In essence, we evolved to love the light because of its harmonizing influence on every aspect of the self. When we pay attention to the potential affects of individual colors, we can modify our spaces, wardrobes, and habits to ensure that we introduce the colors that speak to us most deeply in our everyday lives.
Sharing Space and Energy
Cohabitating with Others
Each time we co-habitate with others it is important that we make the effort to share the space in a way that supports everyone.
Our homes are our havens. These places where we come to rest, recharge, and dream in safety and comfort allow us to better face the challenges of the world outside our doors. When sharing a living space with others, an awareness of the thoughts and feelings of everyone involved is essential in creating the peace we all desire. Regardless of where we lived before, each time we cohabitate with others it is important that we make the effort to share the space in a way that supports everyone.
We need to remember that in a shared space, everything we sense can also be sensed by another person. Peace will not likely be the result when the senses are filled with the sight of unwashed plates, intrusive sounds, unpleasant smells, the feel of a foreign substance beneath bare feet, or the taste of food tainted by an uncovered onion in the fridge. But if we communicate and listen with respect to those with whom we share a space, we may find that one enjoys washing dishes to end the day, while the other can take out the garbage during their evening walk. Working with another’s schedule, you can still meditate or exercise to your favorite music while the other is out, and save reading for the times when they are trying to sleep. Being thoughtful of the energy that is required for something to be cleaned up may make everyone aware of being neater, whether that means taking off your shoes at the entrance or wiping up juice spilled on the kitchen floor.
In the same way, pent up resentment toward your living partners is just as easily felt. Keeping the energy clear requires the effort of communication, the awareness of another’s feelings, and courtesy toward the space you share. While that sometimes requires changing your schedule or habits, there are many times when having a caring someone nearby is worth all the effort. Living with others can help us learn to mingle our energies at home as well as at work and in the world at large in a way that benefits us and everyone around us.
your welcome Kat
THANK YOU FOR BEING MY VOICE IN THE WIND.
Opening a Closed Connection
If you feel abandoned or cut off from Spirit, know that it is always there for you waiting for you to plug back in.
There may be times when we feel like our connection to the universe is closed. Maybe things don’t seem to be going well in our day, or our lives, or we may feel out of our element. The truth is, the universe is always there for us. We know that we create our experience with our thoughts, and this is another way we need to make a conscious decision about how we want to experience life. It is up to us to do the work of making the connection, because nobody can do it for us, though sometimes the universe may send us wake-up calls.
You can think of it as getting some fresh air. We are always breathing and the air is always around us, surrounding us, moving through us. But we may need to step outside of where we are in the moment&mdashhysically, mentally, or emotionally—and make the conscious choice to take a deep breath in order to feel the air coming in and going out. Whether this means stepping outside physically or merely shifting our thoughts, it is only our perception that changes; the air remains the same.
It is just as easy to reconnect with the universe. Using the same technique as a breath of fresh air, a deep breath can bring us back to our center. As we inhale, we fill our bodies with the oxygen needed to replenish our most basic physical needs, allowing the air to circulate within us. Exhaling, we release the stale, the used, the potentially toxic air, removing any blocks that may keep us from going deeper into the stillness that lies at our center where we connect to the universe. Feeling closed off does not need to be a negative experience. When we become conscious of it, we can think of the wholeness of a closed circuit, which allows electricity to connect and flow properly. Our bodies work the same way, and when we make that connection in our minds, it can help bring us back to the connection we seek.
Allowing Spirit In
Clearing Your Mind
The more we practice settling our minds, the easier it will become over time.
After a full day out in the world, stories, words, images, and songs from any number of sources continue to play in our heads hours after we encounter them. Even as we lie in bed, in the quiet dark, our minds continue noisily processing all the input from our day. This can leave us feeling unsettled and harassed. It also makes it difficult to take in any new information or inspiration. Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas, and inspiration.
Too often, the activities we choose to help us relax only add to the clutter. Watching television, seeing a movie, reading a book, or talking to a friend all involve taking in more information. In order to really clear our minds, we need a break from mental stimulation. Activities like yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds. Most of us instinctively know what allows our minds to relax and release any unnecessary clutter. It may be meditation or time spent staring at the stars. Whatever it is, these exercises feel like a cool, cleansing bath for the brain and leave our minds feeling clear and open.
Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes second nature over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allows us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world as the fresh offering it is, free of yesterday’s mental clutter.
Circling the Wagons
Surrounding with Protective Light
As we join our energy with those in circle, we become part of something that is more powerful than the individuals within it.
There are times when we may know of someone who is in great need and wants help, but we may feel at a loss about how best to help them. It is at such times that we can ask for help in surrounding them with support and protection, just like the pioneers once circled their wagons in the middle of unknown territory. Whether this means turning to an already established community such as a service organization or gathering support from diverse sources, a group of people can be brought together to help an individual or an entire community. It doesn’t always take money to help someone either--cooking, cleaning, driving, fund raising, or offering emotional support are all valuable and have the added benefit of the closeness of the human touch. In any case, the universe sends angels in the form of willing friends or strangers to gather their individual lights to surround those in need with the warmth of compassion.
Some people may have difficulty accepting or even recognizing aid when it appears in unexpected guises from unlikely sources. All we can do is to follow our inner guidance, give when we are moved to do so and shine our light to the best of our ability. As we join our energy with those in the circle, we become part of something that is larger and more powerful than the individuals within it.
When we act as part of a community of service like this, we are reminded that we are not only assisting an individual or select group in the moment, but we are serving the greater good. We are creating a better world, and can rest assured that help will be there for us as well. As we offer our own light to the collective glow to help someone through a time of darkness, all of our lights become brighter. We can live every day from this place of light, knowing the freedom from fear and worry that allows us to receive and share the protective and supportive light of life.
How the Body Clears Energy
When your body is physically ill, try treating your emotions too and view your body as a whole.
Whole-self well-being is, in part, the result of a harmonious flow of energy between our physical and mental selves. When this flow is thrown out of balance for any reason, the body and mind react to one another rather than act cooperatively. Ongoing stress, sadness, anxiety, excitement, and fear can overwhelm the cerebral self, causing traumatic energy to be channeled into the body. The body then responds by taking steps to organically dispel the energy that has burdened it and expressing it by means of physical symptoms such as illness, fatigue, or disease. In some cases, these symptoms can simply be allowed to run their natural course and recovery will come about naturally. In most instances, however, health and wellness can only be restored by a dual course of treatment that acknowledges both the physical manifestations of energy clearing and the underlying emotional causes.
Many of the ailments we experience over the course of our lives can be indicative of the body’s attempts to process intellectual and emotional energy. Swollen glands, for example, can signal that you are going through a period of emotional cleansing. Even something as simple as a pimple can indicate that your body is ridding itself of toxins and old energy. In Chinese medicine, intense emotions are held in the body’s organs as a matter of course. Grief lurks in the lungs, anger inhabits the liver, fretfulness lingers in the heart, worry is held in the stomach, and the kidneys harbor fright. Particular illnesses and symptoms represent the body’s attempts to clear emotional energy. Coughs or bronchitis can signify that the physical self is clearing away grief while a loss of appetite may signal that worry is being actively addressed.
When you feel ill or imbalanced, treating your whole self rather than treating the physical self alone can empower you to determine the root cause of sickness. Since you understand that your physical symptoms may be an expression of emotional discomfort, you can establish a balanced treatment regimen to ensure that you quickly recover your good health.
What We Are Made Of
Make all decisions from pure love and the world will change.
Love is often presented as the opposite of fear, but true love is not opposite anything. True love is far more powerful than any negative emotions, as it is the environment in which all things arise. Negative emotions are like sharks swimming in the ocean of love. All things beautiful and fearful, ugly and kind, powerful and small, come into existence, do their thing, and disappear within the context of this great ocean. At the same time, they are made of the very love in which they swim and can never be separated. We are made of this love and live our whole lives at one with it, whether we know it or not.
It is only the illusion that we are separate from this great love that causes us to believe that choosing anything other than love makes sense or is even possible. In the relative, dualistic world of positive and negative, darkness and light, male and female, we make choices and we learn from them. This is exactly what we are meant to be doing here on earth. Underlying these relative choices, though, is the choice to be conscious of what we are, which is love, or to be unconscious of it. When we choose to be conscious of it, we choose love. We will still exist in the relative world of opposites and choices and cause and effect, and we will need to make our way here, but doing so with an awareness that we are all made of this love will enable us to be more playful, more joyful, more loving and wise, as we make our way. Ultimately, the choices we make will shed light on the love that makes us all one, enabling those who have forgotten to return to the source.
This world makes it easy to forget this great love, which is part of why we are here. We are here to remember and, when we forget to remember again, to choose love.
Tending the Emotions
Having a Breakdown
Having a breakdown is often the catharsis that is needed to keep our emotional life in balance.
Most of us have had the experience of holding back our emotions for such a long period of time that when they finally come out, we have something resembling a breakdown. For a certain period of time, the overwhelming flood of feelings coursing through our bodies consumes us, and we stop functioning. Often, these outbursts take us by surprise, welling up within us as we drive to or from work, watch a movie, or engage in some otherwise mundane task. We may feel like we do not know what triggered us, or if we do know, it does not make sense of our overpowering emotional response. This is because we are releasing feelings that have accumulated over a long period of time, and whatever inspired the release was just a catalyst for a much larger, much needed catharsis.
When we find ourselves in the midst of such an experience, it is important that we allow it to happen, rather than fight it or try to shut down. Wherever we are, we can try to find a private, safe place in which to let our feelings out. If we can not access such a place immediately, we can promise to set aside some time for ourselves at our earliest possible convenience, perhaps taking a day off work. The important thing is that we need to give our emotional system some much-needed attention. It is essential that we allow ourselves to release the pent-up emotions inside ourselves so that they do not create imbalances in our bodies and minds.
When you are feeling better, make a plan to find a way to process your emotions more regularly. You can do this by employing a therapist or making a regular date to talk to a trusted friend. Journaling can also be a great way to acknowledge and release your emotions, as can certain forms of meditation. Making room in your life for tending your emotions on a regular basis will keep you healthy, balanced, and ready for life.
The Miracle of Change
The sense of feeling bored in life can be an indicator that we need to be proactive in creating change.
Sometimes we feel that things aren’t moving along fast enough for us and that the world is passing us by. It may be that time seems to stand still and that we are simply bystanders in our own lives. Other times it might appear that there is nothing new left for us to experience and that we are locked into a never-ending cycle of stasis. If we take the time to listen to these feelings we will notice that there is probably more going on beneath the surface, like our apprehension to venture out into the unknown. By taking a new look at how we live our lives, however, it will be easier to break through our sense of boredom and enter into a more positive state of being.
When life seems monotonous, it is usually an indication that there is something we need to change. Boredom can easily lead us down the path to despondency. Acknowledging our feelings and then setting the intention to alter just one small thing in our life can give us a much more affirmative outlook. This act of change allows us to step outside of ourselves and discover new and exciting things that are often already present in our everyday lives. Simple things such as eating a healthier diet, taking a new class, or joining a club are all ways in which we can go beyond our comfort zone and explore the wonders that exist all around us. Keep in mind that the moment we do something different from our usual routine, the more fresh energy, hope, and blessings we will manifest in our life. What this means is that we’ll no longer see things as being tedious but will instead realize the preciousness of everything.
Being able to integrate these subtle changes on a daily basis allows us to recognize the miracles that are our lives. Even though we may think of change as doing something life-altering or drastic, gentle transitions from our habitual ways of doing things and an appreciation of all life offers us will truly bring about positive and lasting transformation.
Releasing the Reigns
If your tendency is to try and change other people, take some time to explore why you feel the need to do so.
Our perception of humanity as a whole is, to a large extent, dualistic. We paint people with a broad brush—some are like us, sharing our opinions and our attitudes, while others are different. Our commitment to values we have chosen to embrace is often so strong that we are easily convinced that our way is the right way. We may find ourselves frustrated by those who view the world from an alternate vantage point and make use of unusual strategies when coping with life's challenges. However ardently we believe that these people would be happier and more satisfied following our lead, we should resist the temptation to try to change them. Every human being has been blessed with a unique nature that cannot be altered by outside forces. We are who we are at any one point in our lives for a reason, and no one person can say for certain what another should be like.
The reasons we try to change one another are numerous. Since we have learned over time to flourish in the richness of lives we have built, we may come to believe that we are qualified to speak on behalf of the greater source. The sum total of our knowledge will never compare to what we do not know, however, and our understanding of others’ lives will forever be limited. The potential we see in the people who are a part of our lives will never be precisely the same as our own, so we do these individuals a disservice when we make assumptions about their intentions, preferences, and goals. Our power lies in our ability to accept others for all their quirks and differences and to let go of the need to control every element of our existence. We can love people for who they are, embracing their uniqueness, or we can love them as human beings from afar.
Your ability to influence people may grow more sophisticated because others sense that you respect their right to be themselves, but you will likely spend more time gazing inward, into the one person you can change: yourself.
Allowing Our Children to Be
One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to allow our children to be who they want to be.
Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of nonattachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free.
Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing nonattachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what’s best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don’t respect, or don’t understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring —independence.
Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice nonattachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.
Bringing Out the Best
Checks and Balances
When we see ourselves in other people it can be a great opportunity for growth if we are willing to do the work.
Most of us have probably come across the universal wisdom that the people who irritate us the most are expressing qualities that we ourselves have. This is why family members can be so vexing for so many of us—we see ourselves in them, and vice versa. This isn’t always true, of course, but when it is, it’s a real opportunity for growth if we can acknowledge it, because it is infinitely easier to change ourselves than it is to try to change another person, which is never a good idea. For example, if we have a coworker who engages in some kind of negative behavior, like complaining or trying to control everything, we can look and see if we ourselves carry those traits.
We may have to look to other situations in our lives to see it, because we behave differently in different environments. Perhaps we don’t complain at work, because our coworker overdoes it, but maybe we do it with our friends. Maybe we aren’t controlling at the office, but we’re used to being in control at home, and this is why we feel so irritated not to be in control at work. Even if we look and find that we are not engaging in the same behavior that we see as negative in others, we can still learn from what we are seeing in this person. The truth is, human nature is universal, and we share many of the same tendencies. What we see in others can always help us to understand ourselves more deeply.
Having the ability to see something in another person, and automatically bring this observation back to ourselves, is like having a built-in system of checks and balances that enables us to be continually engaged in self-exploration and behavior change. When we see behavior we don’t like, we can make a concerted effort to weed it out of ourselves, and when we see behavior we do like, we can let it inspire us to engage in imitation. Through this process, we read our environment and let it influence us to bring out the best in ourselves.
By using your breath and your voice with Chanting, you raise the level of your own vibration to a higher spiritual state.
In many cultures and civilizations, chanting, a form of vocal meditation, has endured through the ages. Practiced by many people around the world seeking greater health, a sense of well-being, enlightenment, and a connection to the divine, chanting unites the mind, body, emotions, and breath through vocal sounding. This unification can open and nurture your creativity, lower stress levels, and teach you to become fully alert and in the moment.
Some people are naturally drawn to chant while others feel awkward using their voices in such a way. Singing along with recorded chants before chanting on your own can help dispel any nervousness. However, the chanting that will resonate most deeply and beneficially for you is the chanting you do for yourself. There are many different chants. They can be composed of names, words, sounds, syllables, or even sections of text. What you chant is less important than your willingness to focus fully on the act of chanting itself. To begin, sit comfortably with a straight back and take a series of long, deep breaths to open and flex your lungs. Then, take another breath, and with resonant tones direct your breath outward in the form of sound. Simple syllables like ‘oh,’ ‘ee,’ or ‘mm’ are easy to remember.
Chanting lets you raise the level of your own vibration to a higher spiritual state. You can chant as an invocation or to set intention. Reciting even the simplest chant can bolster a flagging spirit, hone the mind, and produce natural painkillers within the brain. While chanting, you may feel energy surging through your physical body or joy entering your heart. Chanting can liberate and ground you simultaneously because it allows your soul to soar freely while compelling you to focus on the here and now.
We can start fresh in this very moment, not needing to wait for a new day to start anew.
When today is not going well, it is tempting to focus on tomorrow as a blank slate with all the possibilities that newness provides. It is true that tomorrow will be a brand-new day, but we do not have to wait until tomorrow to start fresh. We can start fresh at any moment, clearing our energy field of any negativity that has accumulated, and call this very moment the beginning of our brand-new day.
There is something about the sunrise and the first few hours of the morning that make us feel cleansed and rejuvenated, ready to move forward enthusiastically. As the day wears on, we lose some of this dynamic energy and the inspiration it provides. This may be why we look forward to tomorrow as providing the possibility of renewal. Many traditions consider the light of the rising sun to be particularly divine in its origins; this is why so many people in the world face east when performing ritual. We too can cultivate that rising sun energy inside ourselves, carrying it with us to light our way through any time of day or night, drawing on its power to awaken and renew our spirits.
One simple way to do this is to carry an image or a photograph of the rising sun with us in our wallet or purse. We can also post this image on our wall at work or at home, or have it as our screensaver on our computer. When we feel the need to start fresh, we can take a moment to gaze at the image, allowing its light to enter into our hearts. As we do this, we might say out loud or quietly to ourselves, I am ready to let go of the past and start anew. We might visualize anything we want to release leaving us as we exhale, and as we inhale, we can take in the fresh energy of the eastern sun, allowing it to light the way to a brand-new day.
Letting Yourself Be Seen
A powerful healing tool can be allowing yourself to be witnessed by your friends, sharing your pain to a listening audience.
When we allow ourselves to be witnessed by another, we cannot help but be transformed by the experience. Whether we are sharing a personal experience, standing in front of friends to celebrate a special occasion, or expressing our unbridled joy or sorrow in front of a loved one, we are allowing ourselves to be seen and experienced in a very intimate way. Not only are we baring ourselves to someone else, but we are allowing that person to hold a very specific kind of space with us so this powerful act can take place. To be witnessed is to let ourselves be seen as we truly are in that moment.
Our friends and loved ones can easily be witnesses for us, if only we are brave enough to let them. Your next birthday may be the perfect occasion to experience this sacred act: Invite your friends and loved ones to your special day. During the celebration, stand in front of them and thank them for being there for you. Feel their gratitude, attention, warmth, and support, while noticing the sense of safety you feel as they surround you. If you feel inspired, share your innermost thoughts about the day and your life. You may be surprised at the feelings of peace and validation that arise within you, when you feel safe enough to go deep into your soul and share yourself with those you trust.
Anyone who has ever seen love, admiration, acceptance, or appreciation reflected in a friend or loved one’s eyes knows how transformative that experience can be. When you bare yourself to another, you are giving them the gift of you and showing them that they also matter. In letting yourself be witnessed, you are letting others into your intimate space, stepping in the sacred container they have created for you, and creating a cauldron of positive affirmation, support, love, and goodwill that will stay with you forever.
Make Change Work for You
by Madisyn Taylor
When we experience change in our life we can control our response and reaction to the changes that are happening.
Transformation is a universal constant that affects our lives from the moment we are born until we leave earthly existence behind. At the root of all growth, we find change. Occasionally, change and the circumstances leading up to it are a source of extraordinary joy, but more often than not they provoke feelings of discomfort, fear, or pain. Though many changes are unavoidable, we should not believe that we are subject to the whims of an unpredictable universe. It is our response to those circumstances that will dictate the nature of our experiences. At the heart of every transformation, no matter how chaotic, there is substance. When we no longer resist change and instead regard it as an opportunity to grow, we find that we are far from helpless in the face of it.
Our role as masters of our own destinies is cemented when we choose to make change work in our favor. Yet before we can truly internalize this power, we must accept that we cannot hide from the changes taking place all around us. Existence as we know it will come to an end at one or more points in our lives, making way for some new and perhaps unexpected mode of being. This transformation will take place whether or not we want it to, and so it is up to us to decide whether we will open our eyes to the blessings hidden amidst disorder or close ourselves off from opportunities hiding behind obstacles.
To make change work for you, look constructively at your situation and ask yourself how you can benefit from the transformation that has taken place. As threatening as change can seem, it is often a sign that a new era of your life has begun. If you reevaluate your plans and goals in the days or weeks following a major change, you will discover that you can adapt your ambition to the circumstances before you and even capitalize on these changes. Optimism, enthusiasm, and flexibility will aid you greatly here, as there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what might have been. Change can hurt in the short term but, if you are willing to embrace it proactively, its lasting impact will nearly always be physically, spiritually, and intellectually transformative.
Clarity of Soul
Chakra Clearing Exercise
Just as the spaces we inhabit need to be cleared of clutter, our energetic fields must also be cleared of the old.
Just as the physical spaces we inhabit require that we clear them periodically of clutter, the energetic fields that are a vital part of our being must also be cleared of old thoughts, energy, and emotions. Clearing your chakras and your aura restores and strengthens your connection to yourself and your divine inner wisdom. Unfettered by energetic baggage masquerading as fear, pain, and self-hatred, your consciousness is once again free to grow. If you find the thought of clearing your energy fields disconcerting, simply think of it as cleansing the energy that surrounds you and releasing any stagnancy. You may not be able to see the results of your efforts, but you will experience a lightness of being and clarity of mind.
You can begin by sitting or lying down on a comfortable surface. Take a series of deep breaths and allow your soul to connect with Mother Earth and the vast expanse of the Universe. Visualize your first chakra, situated near the tailbone, and imagine if you will, a valve opening there, much like a faucet. Imagine a cord dropping from your tailbone deep into Mother Earth and let everything that is stagnant within you flow through it. Let go of old energy, inactive thoughts, and anything else that no longer serves you. Ask the earth to accept what you are offering by turning this old energy into light. Continue to let old energy drain out of you until you feel like you’ve released all your energetic baggage. When you are done, imagine the valve closing. Before moving on to clear your next chakra, let vibrant terra cotta light travel upward from the earth and through the cord into your first chakra. Repeat this process with all seven of the body’s chakras. The second chakra i! s orange, the third is yellow, the fourth is green, the fifth is blue, the sixth is indigo and the 7th is violet. Afterward, visualize your crown chakra and draw beautiful, golden-white light from the universe flowing down through the top of your head. Release any worries or fears that you have been holding on to. Draw this light into your aura and enjoy the resultant feeling of peace.
To finish clearing your energy and ensure that you have rid yourself of the last vestiges of clutter, take a bath infused with one cup apple cider vinegar, one cup Epsom salt, and one cup sea salt. After completing this exercise, be sure to thank Mother Earth and the universe for their help.
Gathering Our Straying Thoughts
All too often our lives can be spread too thin and it becomes important to gather our thoughts and center ourselves to become whole again.
When our thoughts are scattered in several directions at once and we are no longer conscious of what we are doing or why, it is time to center ourselves. When we center ourselves, we begin by acknowledging that we have become spread too thin and we are no longer unified inside. Our thoughts might be out of sync with our feelings, and our actions may be out of sync with both. The main signs that we need to center ourselves are scattered thoughts and a feeling of disconnection or numbness, as if we are no longer able to take anything in. In addition, we may feel unfocused and not present in our bodies. Centering ourselves is a way of coming to terms with all the different energies within us and drawing them back into ourselves.
Centering yourself means that you are working from or being aware of the core of your being in the solar plexus area of your body. At first it may not make sense, but as you progress you will understand what this feels like. We naturally know how to center ourselves when we take a deep breath, for example, before making a big announcement or doing something big. Another way to center ourselves is to sit down and engage in breath meditation. We can start by simply getting into a comfortable upright position and noticing as our breath enters and leaves our bodies. Our breath flows into our center and out from our center, and this process can serve as a template for all of our interactions in the world. In conversations, we can take what our friends are saying into the center of our beings and respond from the center. Our whole lives mirror this ebb and flow of energy that begins and ends at the center of ourselves. If we follow this ebb and flow, we are in harmony with the uni! verse, and when we find we are out of harmony, we can always come back into balance by sitting down and observing our breath.
When we sit down to center ourselves we can imagine that we are gathering our straying thoughts and energies back into ourselves, the way a mother duck gathers her babies around her. We can also visualize ourselves casting a net and pulling all the disparate parts of ourselves back to the center of our being, creating a sense of fluid integration. From this place of centeredness, we can begin again, directing ourselves outward in a more intentional way.
The Joy of Being
Celebrating the In-Between Times
Real life most often happens during the in-between times when we are not celebrating a special occasion.
While celebrations are intended to honor life’s more momentous occasions, much of real life tends to happen during the in-between times. While moving from one moment in time to the next is seldom considered a significant occurrence, it is during those in-between times that we are most in tune with life’s most profound, albeit simple joys. Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen unnoticed. These times are just as worthy of celebration.
The in-between times are seldom about landmark moments. How you choose to celebrate them or which moments you choose to celebrate is up to you. You may want to celebrate the simple facts that you are alive and that every day is a chance to spend time with the people you care about or do the work that you love. Then again, when you look at the good that exists in your life, many reasons for celebrating the in-between times may become clear: a cup of your favorite tea, a beautiful sunrise, a good book, and the smell of fresh air can be reasons for celebration.
Celebrating the in-between times can be as easy as paying special attention to them when they do happen, rather than taking them for granted. It’s your focus of attention that can turn an in-between time into a celebration. You can also pay homage to the in-between times by slowing down and allowing yourself time to look around and allow your heart and mind to take in all of your life’s wonders. Far too often, we can let those simple moments of awe pass us by. The in-between times are when life happens to us between the pauses that we take to honor our milestones occasions. Without the in-between times, there would be no big moments to celebrate.
Beyond Counting Blessings
Being Truly Thankful
Our gratitude deepens when we begin to be thankful for being alive during this time and living the life we are living.
Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.
It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.
We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.
Listening with Your Heart
Less Thinking and More Feeling
When we begin to listen with our hearts rather than our heads, our whole world changes and becomes softer.
Most of us were born and raised in cultures that value the head over the heart and, as a result, we place our own hearts below our heads in a sort of inner hierarchy of which we may not be conscious. What this means is that we tend to listen and respond from the neck up, often leaving the rest of our bodies with little or no say in most matters. This is a physical habit, which sometimes feels as ingrained as the way we breathe or walk. However, with effort and awareness, we can shift the energy into our hearts, listening and responding from this much deeper, more resonant place.
The brain has a masterful way of imposing structure and order on the world, creating divisions and categories, devising plans and strategies. In many ways, we have our brains to thank for our survival on this planet. However, as is so clear at this time, we also need the wisdom of our hearts if we wish to continue surviving in a viable way. When we listen from our heart, the logical grid of the brain tends to soften and melt, which enables us to perceive the interconnectedness beneath the divisions and categories we use to organize the world. We begin to understand that just as the heart underlies the brain, this interconnectedness underlies everything.
Many agree that this is the most important work we can do at this time in history, and there are many practices at our disposal. For a simple start, try sitting with a friend and asking him to tell you about his life at this moment. For 10 minutes or more, try to listen without responding verbally, offering suggestions, or brainstorming solutions. Instead, breathe into your heart and your belly, listening and feeling instead of thinking. When you do this, you may find that it’s much more difficult to offer advice and much easier to identify with the feelings your friend is sharing. You may also find that your friend opens up more, goes deeper, and feels he has really been heard. If you also feel great warmth and compassion, almost as if you are seeing your friend for the first time, then you will know that you have begun to tap the power of listening with your heart.
When somebody continues to open our old wounds on purpose, they must be told that their behavior is no longer welcome.
We’ve all had our buttons pushed to the point where we feel we can’t take it any more, and chances are, we’ve all pushed somebody else’s buttons, with or without knowing it. The button pusher may not be conscious of what they’re doing, but in the end the buttons belong to us, and we are the ones who must deal with what comes up. The more we take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions, the less tender these buttons will be.
We’ve all had the experience of having someone snap at us, seemingly out of nowhere. This happens when we unconsciously push a button in someone else we didn’t even know was there. This can happen with a complete stranger and sometimes with a person we’ve known and been close to for years. We ourselves may have a relationship with someone whose buttons we secretly like to push. Buttons are just soft spots that have been touched one too many times, and they symbolize some pain that needs to be acknowledged and healed. This may be a wound from childhood, or some recent trauma, that we haven’t adequately tended. Whatever the case, when our buttons get pushed, the person who most needs our attention and caring is us, and blaming the button pusher only distracts us from finding a true resolution to our suffering.
At the same time, if someone continually opens our wounds so that they never have time to heal, we are well within our rights to set a boundary with that person. Compulsive button pushers, who seem to find pleasure or satisfaction in hurting us, are not welcome in our personal space. In the end, knowing where our buttons are enables us to do the work necessary to heal. Freedom comes when we deal with the pain behind the button, thus disconnecting our automatic reaction to being pushed.
Empathy in Action
An Experiment in Gratitude
If you find it hard to be grateful for what you have, it is time to dig deeper and be brave when looking for the gratitude.
Sometimes we forget to take the time to recognize the richness that defines our lives. This may be because many of the messages we encounter as we go about our affairs prompt us to think about what we don’t have rather than all the abundance we do enjoy. Consequently, our gratitude exists in perpetual conflict with our desire for more, whether we crave time, convenience, wealth, or enlightenment. Yet understanding and truly appreciating our blessings can be as simple as walking a mile in another’s shoes for a short period of time. Because many of us lead comparatively insular lives, we may not comprehend the full scope of our prosperity that is relative to our sisters and brothers in humanity.
If you find taking an inventory of your life’s blessings difficult, consider the ease with which you nourish your body and mind, feed your family, move from place to place, and attend to tasks at hand. For a great number of people, activities you may take for granted, such as attaining an education, buying healthy food, commuting to work, or keeping a clean house, represent great challenges. To experience firsthand the complex tests others face as a matter of course in their daily lives, try living without the amenities you most often take for granted. This can be a great experiment to undertake with your entire family or a classroom. Understanding working poverty can be as easy as endeavoring to buy nutritious foods with a budget of $100 for the week. If you own a car, relying on public transportation for even just a day can help you see the true value of the comfort and conveniences others do without. As you explore a life without things you may normally take for granted,! ask yourself for how long you could endure.
The compassionate gratitude that floods your heart when you come to fully realize your abundance may awaken pangs of guilt in your heart. Be aware, however, that the purpose of such an experiment is to open your heart further in gratitude and compassion. This awareness can help you attain a deeper level of gratitude that will allow you to savor and, above all, appreciate your life with renewed grace.
Stronger for It
Mending a Broken Heart
A heart that has been broken and seen pain, reveals within it, a crack that allows more light in.
Heartbreak happens to all of us and can wash over us like a heavy rain. When experiencing a broken heart, our ethereal selves are saturated with grief, and the overflow is channeled into the physical body. Loss becomes a physical emptiness, and longing is transmuted into a feeling that often cannot be put into words. Mending a broken heart can seem a task so monumental that we dare not attempt it for fear of damaging ourselves further. But heartbreak, like all emotions, falls under the spell of our conscious influence.
Often the pain that wounds us most deeply also leaves the most enduring mark upon us. The shock that becomes the tender, throbbing ache of the heart eventually leads us down the path of enlightenment, blessing our lives with a new depth and richness.
Acknowledging heartbreak's impermanence by no means dulls its sting for it is the sting itself that stimulates healing. The pain is letting us know that we need to pay attention to our emotional selves, to sit with our feelings and be in them fully before we can begin to heal. It is said that time heals all wounds. Time may dull the pain of a broken heart, but it is fully feeling your pain and acknowledging it that will truly help you heal. Dealing with your heartache in a healthy way rather than putting it off for tomorrow is the key to repair. Gentleness more than anything else is called for. Most important, open yourself to the possibility of loving, trusting, and believing again. When, someday soon, you emerge from the cushion of your grief, you will see that the universe did not cease to be as you nursed your broken heart. You emerge on the other side of the mending, stronger for all you have experienced
Sharing Your Gifts
We all know how to give the gift of a present, but it is more important to share your gifts that you were born with.
When the holidays come around, most of us join the masses in shopping for gifts, wrapping them, and giving them away. Once we are in the mind-set that this is what we are going to do, we don’t hold back or struggle with the process. We simply give the presents we have acquired, letting them go in the awareness that they were never ours anyway. If we could apply some of this unquestioning generosity with our own inner resources and gifts, we might be able to give of ourselves more freely.
In truth, our gifts only make sense when we give them away. Imagine carefully procured and wrapped presents that remain in the house of the giver, never getting to the people who were meant to have them. If we hold back, not knowing quite when to share our gifts, we all lose. Ironically, the more we give of ourselves, the more we have to offer. For example, if we have a talent for singing but we hold it back, we sing less and have less experience. On the other hand, if we offer the gift of our voice to the world at every opportunity, our talent develops and becomes still greater, and we have that much more to give.
How we present our gifts can be likened to wrapping paper and ribbons. When we truly value what we have to offer, our presentation honors what lies inside it. We speak well of our talents and introduce them with confidence and panache. Like a performer who chooses carefully what to wear and how to set the stage, we provide an environment that complements and enhances what we have to offer. Far from being superficial, a beautiful presentation is as much a part of the energy of gift giving as the gift itself. All these things together—the gift, the presentation, and the giving away—make up the joyful experience of bestowing our offerings upon the world.
People in Need
Taking Our Turn to Give
The greatest gift we can give to somebody in need is giving awareness and without judgment.
When we see a person in need, we may want to give them something as a way of helping them, but if we give without taking the time to see who they really are, honoring that most of all, our gift is nowhere near as powerful as it could be. We may want to give a homeless person a sandwich, for example, but if we give it without also taking a moment to look the person in the eye, making authentic contact, we rob them of the experience of being human.
Being in a position of need leaves a lot of people feeling vulnerable and full of self-doubt. The greatest gift we can give is to meet people in need without judgment and with the awareness that we are not superior to them simply because we are not currently in their position. If we take the long view, we can see that we all began life in need of a lot of care and attention, and many of us end life in the same way. Giving and receiving are companion energies that take turns throughout our lives, and we all get a chance to be on both sides of the exchange from time to time.
It’s important to be aware of our own tendency to give from a desire to feel good about ourselves, rather than from an acknowledgement of our connection to all people. Letting go of our self-importance allows us to see that, regardless of appearances, we are all givers and receivers. When we are in the position of the giver, we honor those we are helping when we remember the many people who have helped us. Then we can look the person we are helping in the eye, aware that we are making contact with a human being who is our equal.
Greeting the Divine Spirit
Bowing has the quality of consciously evoking spirit and conveys a sense of reverence for the people involved.
Bowing is a universal gesture of respect and reverence. In many cultures, it is the predominant form of social greeting, and most religions incorporate it into their rituals of worship. In many cases, bowing signifies not only respect but also an acknowledgment of the shared divinity between the bower and the recipient. Bowing can also be a turning in toward our own divinity when we bow our heads in prayer, contemplation, or meditation. Bows range in form from a slight forward nod of the head to a full body prostration on the ground, and range in meaning from a simple greeting to a complete giving over of the self to the divine.
If you have ever bowed or been on the receiving end of a bow, you know that it is different from a handshake or a hug. Bowing has the quality of consciously evoking spirit and conveys a sense of reverence for the people involved. The word “Namaste,” which accompanies bowing in yoga, actually translates as “The divine spirit in me acknowledges the divine spirit in you.” When we greet one another with this kind of awareness, we can’t help but be more conscious that we are deeply connected to one another and to everyone, because this divine spirit resides in all of us.
There are simple bows and complicated bows, and subtle variations carry different meanings depending upon where you are, who you are, and a number of other factors. But we can all practice bowing by simply bringing our two hands together in prayer and pressing the thumb side of our hands lightly into our chests. Keeping a long spine, simply bend your head gently down so that you are looking at the tops of your fingers. Close your eyes and breathe consciously, paying homage to your spirit, the same spirit that resides within all of humanity.
Finding Your Pinnacle
Meditating near a mountain can be both powerful and grounding in a most profound way.
Throughout history, humankind has stood in awe of mountains. The strength and sturdiness evident in the rocky crags and smooth slopes of peaks around the globe have from time immemorial inspired creativity and kindled courage. Mountains have been venerated by many cultures, which worshipped great summits as gods and sacred beings. In their looming presence, humanity has seen power, steadfastness, and resolve. Yet you needn’t live near a mountain to tap into this vast energy of commanding grandeur. Conversely, since mountains are as unique in form as human beings, your locale may exist under the unwavering gaze of a small mountain without your knowing it. As you practice mountain meditation, the power that lurks in the heart of all mountains will flow into you while their essential beauty reminds you that you, too, are a creature of the earth.
If there are mountains in your area, plan to spend some time enjoying the peaceful embrace of Mother Nature, which can be a potent meditation aid. Likewise, grasping a rock or stone in your hand will enable you to easily tap into earth energy. If you are prevented by circumstance from visiting a mountain, however, begin by visualizing yourself at the base of a towering summit. Holding a rock can be helpful to tune into mountain energy. You may find yourself picturing a steep and majestic snowcapped peak or a lush, tree-covered mass that rises gently from the earth. Sit or imagine yourself sitting at the mountain’s base and spend a few minutes simply coexisting with it. When you feel tranquil, express your intention to commune with your mountain and ask to receive its energy. Project your consciousness onto the mountain’s peak, and look down upon the flatlands over which it stands guard. Send light to the flora and fauna that call the mountain home. You may discover that you ! feel wonderfully immense and unshakable as you delve deeper into the meditation.
Finally, ask the mountain to serve as a guide and give it your sincerest gratitude. If you have literally visited a plateau or summit, pass time with the mountain by camping, hiking, or picnicking upon it. Or, if your journey has been a spiritual one, use your imagination to survey the sights, sounds, and scents of your mountain. As your explorations progress, you will become ever more grounded, growing gradually into your personal power. When you are finished meditating with mountain energy, give thanks to this strong and powerful energy for sharing time with you.
Blessing Our Bodies
We can detect subtle changes in our own bodies by performing our own energy scan on a regular basis.
As the living vehicles for our spirits, our bodies deserve loving attention and care. We can positively affect our health, prevent illness, and heal injuries by regularly focusing our mental and spiritual energy on the workings of our bodies. This can be done by performing a body scan on yourself.
Begin by lying in a comfortable position and taking three deep cleansing breaths. Imagine, if you will, a sunbeam entering the top of your head. Feel this light slowly scanning each part of your internal body. Allow it to scan every cell in your body and keep breathing. Every time you exhale, blow out negative energy you may feel. Notice any changes in your body. Sensations may vary from person to person. You may feel a shift in body temperature, see a color or flash of light, or hear a voice offering you guidance. If you feel a block in a certain area of your body, sit with that block and feel into it. Ask your body why that block is there and what you need to do to release it. Try not to judge or analyze the wisdom that comes to you. Often, we experience energy blocks in our body because our body is trying to tell us something. You may want to breathe into that area until you feel the block dissolving. When you have finished your scan, take one last deep breath and exhal! e any energetic residue that you are ready to release.
The body doesn’t lie, and it has much wisdom to share with us. Any injuries or blocks that exist in our bodies are there so that we can learn from having them in our bodies. An existing injury can teach us to slow down or help us recognize that something is out of balance in our bodies. The more you scan your body, the better you will become at it. If you sense that something is not right in your body, you may want to visit a doctor and tell them about your experience. When you have finished your scan, don’t forget to thank your wonderful, amazing body.
Expressions of the Heart
Creating Meaningful Homemade Gifts
During this season of giving, it is the intention behind the thought that is most important.
The gifts we craft with our own hands are often the most significant because the love that drove us to create is infused in the products of our creation. And the recipients of these homemade offerings receive a token of our willingness to invest ourselves in their joy. Allow these ideas to inspire you:
1. When you craft a beautifully decorated prayer box (or jar) for loved ones, you give them the gift of spiritual awareness. As you share this gift, explain that it should serve as a receptacle for their hopes, dreams, and loves—as well as worries—and thus a reminder of who they were, are, and will someday be.
2. If you love journaling, share your writing joy with family and friends by giving each a unique, handmade personal journal. A simple spiral notebook dressed up with paper, fabric, photographs, or other embellishments will give your loved ones a special place to record their private thoughts.
3. Erase the distance between yourself and your far away loved ones by presenting each with a photo journal documenting how your life has changed in the past year. Or introduce them to your locale with a homemade guidebook that highlights everything you love about your town or city.
4. When you sew medicine bags for the people you care about, you can rest assured your gift will always be close to their hearts. A small pouch can be filled with many meditative or symbolic items, such as quartz crystals, sage, or magical objects.
5. A progressive photo album, wherein pictures tell the story of your relationships from the past up to the present, can be a simple yet poignant reminder of the many wonderful experiences you and your loved ones have shared over the years.
6. Give the gift of serenity with a guided meditation you create and record to CD or tape. Your loved ones will take pleasure in being led through tranquil landscapes by the soothing sound of your voice.
7. Hand-crafted ornaments that can be hung on trees, in windows, and on walls afford you an opportunity to surround the important people in your life with beauty. Whether you prefer to work with clay, crystals, fabric, baked dough, or natural objects, your gift can serve as a calming focal point in your loved ones’ homes.
Whether you choose to give a gift or simply share your friendship and love, remember that it is the intention behind the thought that is most important.
Listening and Responding
Tuning in to the language of our bodies can be very enlightening and increases our intuition.
So much can be revealed to us when we listen to the language of our bodies. Our bodies are always speaking, sending us messages through the way we move, the sensations that arise from within, and the gestures and expressions that we make when we are communicating with others. Tuning in to the language of our bodies can be very enlightening, especially as most communication is believed to take place nonverbally. It is also believed that the body never lies, and that if we want to know the truth about ourselves and others, then we should listen to what our bodies have to say. Anyone who has ever flirted with someone they are attracted to has probably, at one point in time or another, brushed their hands through their hair or found themselves leaning forward to get closer to that person. Someone feeling defensive will tend to cross their arms over their chest, while a person who wants to withhold something may look away when speaking.
If you want to know how you truly feel about a person or a situation, then it is a good idea to tune in to what you are feeling inside. Excitement, nervousness, anxiety, and fear are just some of the messages that your body wants you to hear. Your body can also be a very reliable compass. Anyone who has ever been somewhere they don’t want to be has probably experienced their bodies trying to move them away from that particular circumstance. And while it can be very easy to talk ourselves into and out of choices we may make with our minds, it isn’t so easy to change the truth of our hearts that reside within our bodies.
To begin tuning in to this subtle form of communication, start taking the time to notice what your body is telling you. Greet each feeling or sensation as a message carrying wisdom from your body. Tune in to what your body is telling you about the situations and people you encounter and listen to what others are communicating to you through their bodies. We already are subconsciously receptive to the language of our bodies, but when we choose to consciously pay attention, we hear and understand so much more about ourselves and the people around us.
A Clear Current
Maintaining the Flow
Life energy flows through us like a swift stream when there is nothing to obstruct it.
The essence of all being is energy. Our physical and ethereal selves depend on the unrestricted flow of life energy that is the source of wholeness and wellness. Though the channels through which this energy flows are open systems and influenced by factors outside of our control, we ultimately choose what impact these will have in our lives. It is up to us to identify and clear blockages in the energy field to ensure that flow is maintained. A healthy, grounded individual absorbs some portion of the energy emitted by other people and the environment, but this does not interrupt the continuous stream of balanced energy sustaining them. The same individual copes constructively with stress and upset, and they are not subject to the stagnation that frequently goes hand in hand with negativity. When we keep the energy in and around our bodies flowing harmoniously, we are naturally healthy, vibrant, and peaceful.
Life energy flows through us like a swift stream when there is nothing to obstruct it, but various forces such as trauma, downbeat vibrations, and disappointments act like stones that impede the current. If we allow these to pile up, our life energy is thrown off its course or blocked entirely, causing illness, restlessness, and a lack of vigor. If, however, we take the time to clear these forces away, we rob them of the power to impact our lives. When we cultivate simple yet affirmative habits such as taking regular cleansing baths, practicing meditation and breathing exercises, smudging, and self-shielding, we protect ourselves from outside influences that might otherwise impede our energy flow. Likewise, we lessen the impact of inner influences when we clear our auras of unwanted attachments and divest ourselves of blocked emotions.
A strong and fluid energy field is the key that unlocks the doors of self-healing and peace of mind. Your awareness of the flow of energy sustaining you empowers you to take charge of your own well-being by taking steps to unblock, correct, and enhance that flow. Fear will likely be the culprit when you cannot identify the source of stagnation—you may simply be afraid to let go of what is obstructing the flow. Letting go can be challenging, but the exuberance you will feel when the flow is restored will be a welcome and blessed reward.
The Sky Is Blue Even on a Cloudy Day
Darker days are just as much a part of life as are the days graced with sunshine.
When we refer to a “beautiful day,” we are often describing a day that is sunny, clear, and without a cloud in sight to mar a sky that is a brilliantly perfect blue. We find ourselves bouncing along, light in spirit, free from worries, and enjoying the moment. That is, until the clouds begin to form. The sky may turn grey, and a fog may roll in. Puffs of white take on whimsical, darker shades, and our beautiful day disappears along with the sunshine… or so it seems.
A clear blue sky often inspires in us good cheer, bringing on a lighter, more carefree day. We may find ourselves spending time outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, and basking in the warmth of the sun. Yet should clouds appear to wash the sky with shadows, we may let this change of weather decrease our energy and enthusiasm, pulling us into our own cloudy funk. Darker days are just as much a part of life as are the days graced with sunshine. They show us a different perspective of our world, while helping us appreciate the moments of illumination that inevitably follow. A rainy day with clouds helps to clear the air, washing away stagnation. Still, it’s hard not to feel gloomy or think that the day has been ruined when there are clouds hanging over us. Yet if you can remember that these shades of grey won’t last forever, and that hidden behind the clouds is the blue sky, you will find that the beauty of your day is merely playing a game of peek-a-boo with you. Like the mis! haps and interruptions that occasionally block the brilliance that is our own lives from shining through, clouds eventually clear away so we can open up to a brighter horizon.
The next time you wake up to a cloudy day, remember that these shades of grey in life are there just for the moment. And that no matter how hard the rain falls or how chilly the fog is, the clouds will go away, the sun will break through, and you will be able to see the sky that has always and forever been a beautiful and brilliant blue.
Now Is the Time
Bloom Where You Are Planted
The time to blossom is now, not sometime in the future when you believe the stars will be aligned for you.
Having a vision for our future that differs from our current circumstances can be inspiring and exciting, but it can also keep us from fully committing to our present placement. We may become aware that this is happening when we notice our thoughts about the future distracting us from our participation in the moment. We may find upon searching our hearts that we are waiting for some future time or situation in order to self-actualize. This would be like a flower planted in North Dakota putting off blooming because it would prefer to do so in Illinois.
There are no guarantees in this life, so when we hold back we do so at the risk of never fully blossoming. This present moment always offers us the ground in which we can take root and open our hearts now. What this means is that we live fully, wherever we are, not hesitating because conditions are not perfect, or we might end up moving, or we haven’t found our life partner. This can be scary, because we might feel that we are giving up our cherished dreams if we do not agree to wait for them. But this notion that we have to hold back our life force now in order to find happiness later doesn’t really make sense. What might really be happening is that we are afraid to embrace this moment, and ourselves, just exactly as we are right now. This constitutes a tendency to hold back from fully loving ourselves, as we are, where we are.
We have a habit of presenting life with a set of conditions—ifs and whens that must be fulfilled before we will say yes to the gift of our lives. Now is the time for each of us to bloom where we are planted, overriding our tendency to hold back. Now is the time to say yes, to be brave and commit fully to ourselves, because until we do no one else will. Now is the time to be vulnerable, unfolding delicately yet fully into the space in which we find ourselves.
Relating to the Negative
The Danger of Repression
When negative thoughts arise it is best to address them rather than pushing them down where they will surface again.
For the last several years, there has been a lot of focus on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not okay to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling. This can lend a kind of superficiality to their relationship with life and relationships with other people. It can also lead them to feel that if a negative thought or feeling comes up, in themselves or someone else, they must immediately block it out. When they do this, they are engaging in the act of repressing a part of themselves that needs to seen, heard, and processed.
When we repress parts of ourselves, they don’t go away so much as they get buried deep within us, and they often come out when we least expect it. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be fully human, honoring all the thoughts, feelings, and moods that pass through us on a given day, we create a more conscious relationship with ourselves. Instead of blocking out thoughts and feelings that we label as negative, we can simply observe them and then let them go. They only get stuck when we react to them negatively, pushing them down and out of sight where they get lodged in our unconscious minds. A healthier solution might be to develop a practice of following any negative thought we may have with a positive thought. This works well because positive thoughts are many times more powerful than negative thoughts.
Rather than setting our minds up in such a way that we become fearful of the contents of our own consciousness, blocking out anything that is less than 100 percent positive, we might resolve to develop a friendlier attitude toward ourselves, trusting in our inherent goodness. When we recognize our true inner worth, a few dark clouds passing through our minds will not intimidate us. We will see them for what they are—small, dark figures passing through an expansive sky of well-being and truth.
Giving yourself permission to be silly will nourish your creativity and is a good exercise in letting go.
Children appreciate all that is silly as a matter of course. Their grasp of humor is instinctual, and even the smallest absurdities provoke joyous gales of earnest laughter. As we age, this innate ability to see the value of silliness can diminish. Work takes precedence over play, and we have less incentive to exercise our imaginative minds by focusing on what is humorous. When we remember childhood, we may recall the pleasures of donning funny costumes, reciting nonsense poems, making up strange games, or playing pretend. This unabashed silliness nourished our vitality and creativity. We can take in this nourishment once again by giving ourselves permission to lighten up and be silly.
Too often we reject the wonderful silliness that is an inherent, inborn aspect of the self because we believe that it serves no purpose or is at odds with the grown-up culture of maturity. We play yet we do not lose ourselves in play, and our imaginations are never truly given free reign because we regard the products of irrational creativity as being valueless. Yet silliness itself does indeed constitute a vital part of human existence on a myriad of levels. Our first taste of ethereal bliss is often a consequence of our willingness to dabble in what we deem outrageous, nonsensical, or absurd. We delight in ridiculousness not only because laughter is intrinsically pleasurable, but also because it serves as a reminder that existence itself is fun. Skipping, doodling, and singing funny songs are no less entertaining than they were when we were children. We need not lose all interest in these cheerful and amusing activities, but to make them a part of our lives we must be read! y to sacrifice a little dignity and a lot of fear.
It is precisely because so much of life is inescapably serious that silliness should be regarded as a priority. Through the magic of imagination, you can be or become anything—a photographer, a professional athlete, a dancer, a pilot. Whether you take hundreds of silly pictures, revel in the adulation of your fans as you make the winning catch, boogie down rock-star style in front of your bedroom mirror, or turn your desk into a cockpit, the ensuing hilarity will help you see that lighthearted fun and adulthood are not at all incompatible.
We cannot insist that someone else take responsibility for their actions; only they can make that choice when they are ready.
As we begin to truly understand that the world outside of us is a reflection of the world inside of us, we may feel confused about who is to blame for the problems in our lives. If we had a difficult childhood, we may wonder how we can take responsibility for that, and in our current relationships, the same question arises. We all know that blaming others is the opposite of taking responsibility, but we may not understand how to take responsibility for things that we don’t truly feel responsible for. We may blame our parents for our low self-esteem, and we may blame our current partner for exacerbating it with their unconscious behavior. Objectively, this seems to make sense. After all, it is not our fault if our parents were irresponsible or unkind, and we are not to blame for our partner’s bad behavior.
Perhaps the problem lies with the activity of blaming. Whether we blame others or blame ourselves, there is something aggressive and unkind about it. It sets up a situation in which it becomes difficult to move forward under the burdensome feelings of shame and guilt that arise. It also puts the resolution of our pain in the hands of someone other than us. Ultimately, we cannot insist that someone else take responsibility for their actions; only they can make that choice when they are ready. In the meantime, if we want to move forward with our lives instead of waiting around for something that may or may not happen, we begin to see the wisdom of taking the situation into our own hands.
We do this by forgiving our parents, even if they have not asked for our forgiveness, so that we can be free. We end the abusive relationship with our partner, who may never admit to any wrongdoing, because we are willing to take responsibility for how we are treated. In short, we love ourselves as we want to be loved and create the life we know we deserve. We leave the resolution of the wrongs committed against us in the hands of the universe, releasing ourselves to live a life free of blame.
The Understanding Underneath
Experiences with Multiple Meanings
The refined impression you glean from your experiences after contemplating their significance can add a new richness and texture to your life.
Though we humans are self-aware, we nonetheless cannot distance ourselves from the world around us and have a natural tendency to ascribe meaning to all that we experience. The significance we perceive in our experiences is rooted in our observation of patterns as they relate to ourselves. One situation has the power to teach us about life because it exposes us to something unfamiliar. Another touches our emotions deeply by enabling us to see how fortunate we are. Yet our initial impressions of an experience may not wholly reveal the true significance of that occurrence because our full response to an experience is like an onion with many layers that all have disparate meanings. Consider that a sunrise may stun us visually while simultaneously evoking memories of childhood and reminding us that each new day is a rebirth.
If you take the time to examine your experiences closely, you will discover that your original impressions may only be a part of a larger story of significance. Peeling away the layers of an event or incident can be a fun and interesting process if you allow it. To begin, relive your experience in your mind’s eye and from multiple perspectives if possible. Your interpretation of any situation is based not only on facts but also on feelings, beliefs, and your values. As you ruminate upon your experience, spend a few moments contemplating how you felt when it began and how your feelings had changed by its end. Ask yourself what abstractions, if any, it awakened in your mind. If an experience stirs up questions within your soul, it may be that in striving to answer them a new layer of meaning may reveal itself to you.
The significance of an experience may remain hidden to you for some time. The meaning of an event can change when viewed from another context or may only become apparent after intense meditation. An incident that seemed superficial may unexpectedly touch us deeply later in our lives. If you take a truly open-minded approach to your examination of each new level and do not shy away from revelations that could prove painful, you will learn much about your relationship to the world around you. And the refined impression you glean from your experiences after contemplating their significance can add a new richness and texture to your life.
One of a Kind
The Black Sheep
When we move beyond comparisons and accept our differences, we appreciate the significance of our upbringing and socialization in each of our unique life's journey.
Many of us have had an experience in which we felt like the lone black sheep in a vast sea of white sheep. For some of us, however, this sense of not belonging runs more deeply and spans a period of many years. It is possible to feel like the black sheep in families and peer groups that are supportive, as well as in those that are not. Even if we receive no overt criticism regarding our values, there will likely be times when it seems that relatives and friends are humoring us or waiting for us to grow out of a phase. Sometimes we may even think we have been adopted because we are so different from our family members. These feelings are not a sign that we have failed in some way to connect with others. Rather, they should be perceived as the natural result of our willingness to articulate our individuality.
Many black sheep respond to the separateness they feel by pulling back from the very people to whom they might otherwise feel closest and embracing a different group with whom they enjoy a greater degree of commonality. But if you feel that your very nature has set you apart from your peers and relatives, consider that you chose long ago to be raised by a specific family and to come together with specific people so that you could have certain experiences that would contribute to your ongoing evolution. You may be much more sensitive than the people around you or more artistic, aware, spiritual, or imaginative. The disparate temperament of your values and those of your family or peers need not be a catalyst for interpersonal conflict. If you can move beyond comparisons and accept these differences, you will come to appreciate the significant role your upbringing and socialization have played in your life's unique journey.
In time, most black sheep learn to embrace their differences and be thankful for those aspects of their individuality that set them apart from others. We cannot expect that our peers and relatives will suddenly choose to embrace our values and offer us the precise form of support we need. But we can acknowledge the importance of these individuals by devoting a portion of our energy to keeping these relationships healthy while continuing to define our own identities apart from them.
Lifting Pain's Veil
Bitter feelings allow us to become perfect victims in that we no longer feel obliged to work toward healing.
It is natural to feel resentment or anger when life does not unfold as expected. We consciously or unconsciously anticipated one experience, and we grieve for the loss of it when the universe puts something else in our path. Most of the time, we work through these feelings and they pass. Occasionally, our anger and resentment do not fade and are instead transformed into bitterness. Bitter feelings allow us to become perfect victims in that we no longer feel obliged to work toward healing and choose instead to identify with our pain. Yet as unwholesome as bitterness can be, it is also a natural element of our emotional palette. When we acknowledge that it is okay to feel bitter, we reconnect with our hurt in a constructive way and can begin the process of working through it.
The nature of bitterness is rooted in the fact that the pain we feel provides us with a rationale. We may feel that we deserve to embrace our bitterness to its full extent. And to be bitter is, in essence, to cut ourselves off from all that is positive, hardening our hearts and vowing never to let go of our hurt. But just as bitter feelings can be self-defeating, so too can the release of bitterness be life-affirming in a way that few other emotional experiences are. When we decide that we no longer want to be bitter, we are reborn into a world filled with delight and fulfillment unlike any we knew while in the clutches of bitterness. The veil it cast over our lives is lifted, letting light and warmth touch our souls.
Divesting yourself of bitter feelings can be as simple as truly forgiving and moving on. Even when your bitterness has no c