Archive for April, 2008

Beyond Behavoir

April 30, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

When to Let Go

April 29, 2008

Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1993).

At those moments when you are most afraid, angry, stubborn or mistrustful, you are in the grip of unreality. Your ego is forcing you to react from the past, blinding you to new possibilities here and now. Fear, anger, pride and distrust are forces with no spiritual validity.

A mind that is desperately holding on says things like:

I hate this. It has to end.

I can’t stand it anymore. If this keeps up I’ll die.

I can’t go on. There’s nothing left.

I have no choice. It has to be my way or else.

You’re all wrong.

None of you understand me.

You always treat me this way.

Why do you always have to do this?

There are infinite variations on these statements, but the underlying feelings are remarkably similar. You feel you can’t cope anymore. You feel boxed in. You feel you won’t survive. You feel that something bad always happens to you. These feelings give rise to the rigid, contracted state of resistance, disallowing the reality that good things can happen any time.

Sprit has a good outcome for any situation, if you can open yourself to it.

A key word to holding on is always. “Always” is never true; reality isn’t a vast, fixed scheme trapping you without choice. At any moment you have the choice to break out of what is really trapping you: Your automatic reactions dredged up from the past.

 

Silent Change

April 26, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

We all see things about ourselves, our relationships, and our world that we want to change. Often, this desire leads us to take action toward inner work that we need to do or toward some external goal. Sometimes, without any big announcement or momentous shift, we wake up to find that change has happened, seemingly without us. This can feel like a miracle as we suddenly see that our self-esteem really does seem to be intact, or our partner actually is helping out around the house more. We may even wonder whether all of our hard work had anything to do with it, or if it just happened by way of grace.

As humans, sometimes we have relatively short attention spans, and we can easily lose track of time. We may worry about a seedling in a pot with our constant attention and watering for several weeks only to find ourselves enjoying the blooms it offers and wondering when that happened, and how we didn’t notice it. Nature, on the other hand, has infinite patience and stays with a thing all the way through its life. This doesn’t mean that our efforts play no part in the miracle of change—they do. It’s just that they are one small part of the picture that finally results in the flowering of a plant, the shifting of a relationship, the softening of our hearts.

The same laws that govern the growth of plants oversee our own internal and external changes. We observe, consider, work, and wonder, tilling the soil of our lives, planting seeds, and tending them. Sometimes the hard part is knowing when to stop and let go, handing it over to the universe. Usually this happens by way of distraction or disruption, our attention being called away to other more pressing concerns. And it is often at these times, when we are not looking, in the silence of nature’s embrace, that the miracle of change happens.

 

Wisdom in a graffiti

April 26, 2008

Promise Yourself

April 25, 2008

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticise others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Recognizing Happiness

April 24, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness. 

 

Giving Away Power

April 23, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

In many ways, we are taught from the time we are children to give away our power to others. When we were told to kiss and hug relatives or friends of the family when we didn’t want to, for example, we were learning to override our inner sense of knowing and our right to determine for ourselves what we want to do. This repression continued, most likely, in many experiences at school and in situations at work. At this point, we may not even know how to hold on to our power, because giving it away is so automatic and ingrained.

To some degree, giving our energy to other people is simply part of the social contract, and we feel that we have to do it in order to survive. It is possible to exchange energy in a way that preserves our inner integrity and stability. This begins in a small way: by listening to the voice that continues to let us know what we want, no matter how many times we override its messages.

Other examples of how we give away our power are buying into trends, letting other people always make decisions for us, not voting, and not voicing an opinion when an inappropriate joke is made. But with not giving our power away we must also be aware of the opposite side, which is standing in our power but being aggressive. Being aggressive is a form of fear, and the remedy is to let our inner balance come back into play.

As we build a relationship with our power, and follow it, we begin to see that we don’t always have to do what we’re being asked to do by others, and we don’t have to jump on every trend. All we have to do is have the confidence to listen to our own voice and let it guide us as we make our own decisions in life and remember the necessity for balance.

 

Life is too short

April 22, 2008

[from a postcard]

Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets.

So love the people who treat you right, and forget about the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life; let it.

Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.

Famous Quotes from Lao Tze

April 22, 2008

Sharing with you the Wisdom of the famous Chinese Philosopher  Lao Tze. Hope you take away something form his wisdom.

Five Tips to a Happier You

April 22, 2008

Psychologist Martin Seligman, 2004, suggests five exercises to make your life happier.

GRATITUDE VISIT

Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.

Almost everyone enjoys receiving thanks for a job well done or a favour done for a friend, and most of us remember to say thank-you to others. But sometimes our thank-you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. Perhaps this is because our society does not encourage a deeper expression of thanks. People may learn to feel embarrassed if someone goes on and on about how grateful he or she is. But when no one says thank-you in a meaningful way, no one receives the very positive benefits of gratitude.

In this exercise, you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner. Think of the people – parents, friends, teachers, coaches, team-mates, employers, and so on – who have been especially kind to you but whom you have never properly thanked. Choose someone you could meet for a face-to-face meeting in the next week. Your task is to write a gratitude letter to this individual and deliver it in person.

The letter should be concrete: be specific about what he or she did for you and how it affected your life. Let the person know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember their efforts. Make it sing!

It is important that you arrange a face-to-face meeting so you can read the letter in the presence of the person whom you appreciate. Call the person in advance to schedule a time to get together this week. Try to be vague about the purpose of the meeting This exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise to the recipient!

Take your time reading your letter of gratitude. Notice the reactions of the other person and yourself. If the other person tries to interrupt you as you read, say you really want him or her to listen until you are done. After you have read the letter (every word), discuss the content of the letter and your feelings for each other.

THREE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE

We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense for us to analyse bad events so we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this tendency to focus on bad events sets us up for anxiety and depression.

One way to keep this from happening is to develop our ability to think about the good in life. Most of us are not nearly as good at analysing good events as we are at analysing bad events, so this skill needs practice. As you become better at focusing on the good in your life, you will likely become more grateful for what you have and more hopeful about the future.

Every night for one week, set aside 10 minutes before you go to bed. Use that time to write down three things that went really well on that day and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. It is not enough to do this exercise in your head.

The three things you list can be relatively small in importance or relatively large. Next to each positive event in your list, answer the question, Why did this good thing happen?

Writing about “why” the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.

YOU AT YOUR BEST

Everybody has a handful of signature strengths that really define who they are. If you are like most people, you may not give much thought to what your particular strengths are. But doing so is worthwhile because research shows that the more people use their signature strengths at work and at play, the happier they will be.

The first step toward using your signature strengths more often is figuring out what they are. The exercise that follows will help you to do this. Your assignment is to think about a time when you were at your best. You don’t need to come up with a grand or life-changing event. Perhaps what comes to mind is a small event that called forth the best in you. Write about this time when you were at your best. Make it in the form of a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Now, using your computer, write your own story. Print out your story and post it somewhere you can see it during the week. If your computer does not have a printer, then quickly write out your story by hand. It is important that you have a physical copy to have with you during the week, and please feel free to rewrite it as the week goes on.

Your assignment during the week is to put this story in a place where you are likely to encounter it often. Make sure to revisit it once a day. Each time, ask yourself the following two questions:

What personal strength(s) did I display when I was at my best? (Did you show a lot of creativity? Did you show good judgment? Were you good with other people? Were you kind? Loyal? Loving? Brave? Passionate? Forgiving? Honest? You be the judge.)

In what other areas of my life might I use these strengths to my advantage?

USING STRENGTHS IN A NEW WAY

Honesty. Loyalty. Perseverance. Creativity. Kindness. Wisdom. Courage. Fairness. These and about 16 other character strengths are valued in almost every culture in the world. People can get more satisfaction out of life if they learn to identify which of these character strengths they possess in abundance and then use them as much as possible, whether working, loving, or playing.

Identify your five highest strengths (your signature strengths).

During the next week try to use your signature strengths more often.

IDENTIFYING SIGNATURE STRENGTHS

Identify your five highest strengths (your signature strengths).

Every day for the next seven days, use one of your top five strengths in a way that you have not done before. You might use your strength in a new setting or with a new person. It’s your choice.

 

 

The Gift Inside

April 22, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

We have all had the experience of encountering someone whose life seems so completely different from ours that we can almost imagine we have nothing in common. However, if we go deeper into observing, we will see that we all have the same things going on in our lives. It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. Everyone can have money issues of one kind or another, and everyone struggles with difficult choices.

Our lives show up differently for each one of us because we each learn in different ways. One person may need to learn the value of money by having too little of it, while another may need to learn by having more than enough. We each learn about work and love, with experiences that are tailored to our particular perspective. Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what’s going on inside.

This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. As we get to know those who seem so different from us, we get to really see how much of life’s challenges and joys are universal. We begin to look beyond the packaging of skin color, clothing preferences, and socioeconomic differences, hairstyles, and the cars we drive to the heart of the human experience. It is important to honor and value the differences in our packaging, but it is just as important to honor the gift of life inside each one of us, and the fact that, no matter how different the packaging, the gift inside is the same.

 

Living Like Water

April 21, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on Earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and cascades down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on Earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a particular time and place, into a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way—just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on. As we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard, but we always keep going. Water can inspire us not to become rigid with fear or hold fast to what is familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not flee from it, fearful of the dark; instead, it humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than running away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

Asking and Receiving

April 19, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

Prayer and meditation are similar practices in that they both offer us a connection to the divine, but they also differ from one another in significant ways. Put simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we listen. When we pray, we use language to express our innermost thoughts and feelings to a higher power. Sometimes, we plumb the depths within ourselves and allow whatever comes to the surface to flow out in our prayer. At other times, we pray words that were written by someone else but that express what we want to say. Prayer is reaching out to the universe with questions, pleas for help, gratitude, and praise.

Meditation, on the other hand, has a silent quality that honors the art of receptivity. When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way.

Both prayer and meditation are indispensable tools for navigating our relationship with the universe and with ourselves. They are also natural complements to one another, and one makes way for the other just as the crest of a wave gives way to its hollow. If we tend to do only one or the other, prayer or meditation, we may find that we are out of balance, and we might benefit from exploring the missing form of communication. There are times when we need to reach out and express ourselves, fully exorcising our insides, and times when we are empty, ready to rest in quiet receiving. When we allow ourselves to do both, we begin to have a true conversation with the universe.

The First Moments Of The Day

April 18, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

The moment during the day when we very first open our eyes and come into consciousness is a precious opportunity. It sets the tone for all that comes after it, like the opening scene in a film or novel. At this moment, our ability to create the day is at its most powerful, and we can offer ourselves fully to the creative process by filling this moment with whatever inspires us most. It may be that we want to be more generous, or it may be that we want to be more open to beauty in our daily lives. Whatever the case, if we bring this vision into our minds at this very fertile moment, we empower it to be the guiding principle of our day.

Sometimes we wake up with a mood already seemingly in place, and it’s important to give this feeling its due. It can inform us and deepen our awareness to what’s going on inside us, as well as around us. As long as we are conscious, we can honor this feeling and also introduce our new affirmation or vision, our conscious offering to the day. We may want to decide before we go to sleep what we want to bring to the next day of our lives. It could be that we simply want to be more open to whatever comes our way. Or we may want to summon a particular quality such as confidence. Then again, we may simply call up a feeling that perfectly captures the texture we want our day to have.

We can reaffirm our vision or affirmation as we shower and eat breakfast, as well as recalling it at various times throughout the day. We can write it down and carry it with us on a little slip of paper if this helps. Simply by being aware of those first moments, we set the stage for a more conscious, enlivened experience, and we become active participants in the creation of our lives.

Drawing Strength From Plants

April 17, 2008

[ From DailyOM ]

Each season, grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees let a part of themselves go in the form of seeds. Every one of those seeds is a point of life, containing the full potential of the parent. In the quest to find a rooting spot, they are buffeted by winds, parched by sun, and soaked by rain. And, as likely as not, they find cement or stone rather than fertile soil. Yet each season, the seeds find what purchase they can and put forth their roots, slowly creating more space for themselves and pushing ever upward, even when the new world they discover is harsh and unpredictable. Seedlings are small, but a single plant can widen a crack in a sidewalk or turn a rock to dust through nothing more than patient perseverance.

In our lives, it is not uncommon to find ourselves cast into the wind, through our own choices or through fate. We are blown hither and thither by fear, uncertainty, and the influence of others. If we do find purchase, the obstacles we face may seem insurmountable and the challenges too much to bear. When this happens, look around you and note the seemingly desolate and inhospitable places in which plants have thrived. Given little choice, they set down their roots and hold on tightly, making the best of their situation. Then look at your own circumstances. Ask yourself if there is an unimagined source of strength that you can tap into. Look toward the future. Imagine a time in which you have widened a place for yourself and have flourished through your difficulties.

The smallest things in life, like the tiny sprouts, given time and the will to forge on, can overcome any circumstance and break down huge barriers. It can be tempting, however, when faced with rough or uncertain odds, to give up, to change direction, or to choose the easiest path. But within you, there exists the same resolve and fortitude as displayed in these courageous plants. You, too, in finding yourself in a tight spot, can look ever upward, grabbing hold where you can, using your determination to reach toward new heights.