Archive for August, 2009

Contracting before Expanding

August 29, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

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Supporting and Inspiring

August 28, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

When we call someone a leader, what we sometimes mean is that they are the best in their particular field; they are inspiring because of how much they accomplish. To be highly accomplished is impressive, but that isn’t what leadership is about. True leaders are not just high achievers; they also support the people around them to achieve, and, in certain cases, to become leaders themselves. In other words, true leaders do not create a static group of followers. Rather, they create an environment in which everyone can develop their potential. True leaders don’t get so caught up in the forward thrust of their own energy that they forget about others or the larger environment. They set an example with their actions, and they also support others to act. This is why true leadership is so rare.

Not everybody is cut out to be a leader, but most of us have the potential to serve in a leadership role at some point in our lives. When doing so, we might want to be inspired by the highest manifestation of leadership, remembering that we are meant to forward not only ourselves but a whole environment—an ideal, a plan, the people around us. While this won’t be easy, it is the true meaning of the job, and we can trust that we are capable of it. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t find ourselves in the position to lead.

It’s also possible that we have determined that our gifts are best applied in a secondary position, supporting the efforts of a leader whose vision we admire. In this case, we can ensure that our energy is best applied by holding the person for whom we work to a high standard of leadership. In this way, we take responsibility for our own gifts by guaranteeing that they will be appreciated and developed in a way that best serves the whole.

Daily Self-Care

August 27, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, do it for others. Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it’s easy to keep putting self-care off—easy, that is, until we get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That’s when we realize we haven’t been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it’s just plain practical.

Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can even encourage yourself by saying “I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others” or some other mantra that will encourage you. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be composed of massively time-consuming acts. In fact, the best prescription for taking care of yourself is probably small, daily rituals; for example, taking one half-hour for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, journal, or just be. You might also transform the occasional daily shower or bath into a half-hour self-pampering session.

Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in spades for you and the ones you love. The oxygen you need is all around you; sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe.

Seeing Beyond Fearful Delusions

August 26, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

One of humanity’s biggest fears is losing what we have. It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to protect what we have worked hard to attain, but it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about. We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create what scares us, and holding tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the universal flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears.

The letters of the word “fear” can be used to stand for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Fears of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security or happiness comes from a delusion—a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. When we understand that possessions are only representations of the energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place. We can stop fearing loss of money or success because when we understand how it is created, we can always create more. We can stop fearing loss of possessions when we realize that they are not the source of our joy or well-being but only icing on our cakes. And when we understand the energy of love, we need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared but expands beyond boundaries of time or space. 

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value—love, abundance, peace, passion, and joy. These are energies that are always available to us when we place ourselves confidently in the universal flow of abundance.

Living with It

August 25, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Self-Determination

August 22, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Consulting Heart and Mind

August 20, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Each of the myriad decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When you are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, you should understand all you can about the choice ahead of you before moving forward. If you do not come to the decision from a place of balance, you risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don’t take your feelings into account. In bringing your thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, you ensure that you are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and you have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with your values.

Though some major decisions may oblige you to act and react quickly, most will allow you an abundance of time in which to mull over your choices. If you doubt your ability to approach your options in a balanced fashion, take an extended time-out before responding to the decision. This will give you the interlude you need to make certain that your thoughts and feelings are in equilibrium. As you practice achieving balance, you will ultimately reach a state of mind in which you can easily make decisions that honor every aspect of the self.

Honoring Life Changes

August 19, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Anything worth doing will always have some fear attached to it. For example, having a baby, getting married, changing careers—all of these life changes can bring up deep fears. It helps to remember that this type of fear is good. It is your way of questioning whether you really want the new life these changes will bring. It is also a potent reminder that releasing and grieving the past is a necessary part of moving into the new.

Fear has a way of throwing us off balance, making us feel uncertain and insecure, but it is not meant to discourage us. Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, poised in between the old life and a new one. Whenever we face our fear, we overcome an inner obstacle and move into new and life-enhancing territory, both inside and out. The more we learn to respect and even welcome fear, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom, wisdom that will let us know that the time has come to move forward, or not. While comfort with fear is a contradiction in terms, we can learn to honor our fear, recognizing its arrival, listening to its intelligence, and respecting it as a harbinger of transformation. Indeed, it informs us that the change we are contemplating is significant, enabling us to approach it with the proper reverence.

You might wish to converse with your fear, plumbing its depths for a greater understanding of the change you are making. You could do this by sitting quietly in meditation and listening or by journaling. Writing down whatever comes up—your worries, your sadness, your excitement, your hopes—is a great way to learn about yourself through the vehicle of fear and to remember that fear almost always comes alongside anything worth doing in your life.

Living Potential

August 16, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

The gifts we are born with and those that we work to develop throughout our lives vary in form and function. Some we find use for every day while others are only useful in specific circumstances. Yet many times we overlook opportunities to share our unique gifts with others. It may be fear of criticism that holds us back or the paralyzing weight of uncertainty. Ultimately, we doubt that our innate talents and practiced skills can truly add value to others’ lives. But it is the world as a whole that benefits when we willingly share our gifts. Whether you have been blessed with the ability to awaken beautiful emotions in others through art or industry, or your aptitudes transmit more practical advantages, your gifts are a part of who you are. As you make use of those gifts as best you can, be assured that your contribution to worldly well-being will not be overlooked.

Your personal power is defined in part by your gifts. To use your talents is to demonstrate to the world that you understand yourself and are truly attuned to your capabilities. Your earthly existence provides you with ample opportunity to explore your purpose, to utilize your skills in a life-affirming way, and to positively touch the lives of others while doing so. Yet you may feel that your gifts are not as valuable or worthy of attention as those of others and thus hide them away. However, every gift lying dormant in your soul has the potential to fill a void in someone else’s life. Just as your existence is made richer by the love, support, friendship, aid, and compassion of others, so, too, can you add richness to their lives. Your natural ability to soothe hurt, inspire compassion, bake, dance, knit, organize, or think outside the box can be a boon to someone in need.

As you embrace your gifts and allow their light to shine, you will discover that more and more opportunities to make use of them arise. This is because your gifts are a channel through which the universe operates. By simply doing what you are good at and also love to do, you make a positive difference. The recognition you receive for your efforts will pale in comparison to the satisfaction you feel when fulfilling your innate potential.

Coming at Conflict with an Open Heart

August 11, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

How the Body Clears Energy

August 8, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Staying True To Your Word

August 5, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Promises are easily made. Keeping them often proves more difficult because when we are pressured to strive always for perfection, we find it simpler to agree to undertake impossible tasks than to say no. Likewise, there is an infinite array of circumstances that conspire to goad us into telling falsehoods, even when we hold a great reverence for truth. When you endeavor to consistently keep your word, however, you protect your reputation and promote yourself as someone who can be trusted to be unfailingly truthful. Though your honesty may not always endear you to others—for there will always be those who fear the truth—you can nonetheless be certain that your integrity is never tarnished by the patina of deceit. Since frankness and sincerity form the basis of all life-enriching relationships, your word is one of your most precious and powerful possessions.

When we promise more than we can deliver, hide from the consequences of our actions through falsehoods, or deny our true selves to others, we hurt those who were counting on us by proving that their faith was wrongly given. We are also hurt by the lies we tell and the promises we break. Integrity is the foundation of civilization, allowing people to live, work, and play side by side without fear or apprehension. As you cultivate honesty within yourself, you will find that your honor and reliability put people at ease. Others will feel comfortable seeking out your friendship and collaborating with you on projects of great importance, certain that their positive expectations will be met. If you do catch yourself in a lie, ask yourself what you wanted to hide and why you felt you couldn’t be truthful. And if life’s surprises prevent you from keeping your word, simply admit your error apologetically and make amends quickly.

Since the path of truth frequently represents the more difficult journey, embarking upon it builds character. You can harness the power of your word when you do your best to live a life of honesty and understand what motivates dishonesty. In keeping your agreements and embodying sincerity, you prove that you are worthy of trust and perceive values as something to be incorporated into your daily existence.

Do You Really Want Happiness ?

August 4, 2009

Adapted from: Peace Is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).

Read this article on Care2 and thought you’d like it as well.

Unhappy people are always confused when they are told to try and be happy. Their minds are occupied by grievances; there seems to be no room for new experiences that might be uplifting, and even if they came along, they would be seen through the gray haze of one’s misery.

So the search cannot be for happy experiences. Those are already available in abundance. The search is for an opening that allows happiness to become your experience. This opening comes about very differently from the way most people suppose. Most people try to make themselves happy by forcing their unhappy feelings underground, or by turning their backs on them or pretending that they don’t exist.

If you have a closet stuffed with junk, the best way to find room for new stuff is to clean the closet. In this case the closet is the nervous system, and one cleans it out at the level of awareness.

Communicate your desire to be free of this hurt. Ask for inner guidance to the healing process isn’t mystical; it involves well-known practical steps. Look directly at what hurts you and let it show you what to do. Listen to what you feel, but don’t give in to it. Know for certain that you can remove old hurts. Be patient, since you will have to return to your old hurt many times.

Most people feel trapped by their resentments because their behavior runs counter to these steps. They don’t look honestly at their hurt but focus instead on blaming someone outside themselves. They don’t communicate a desire to let go of their anger but keep nursing it. Instead of listening to what they feel in the moment, they replay the same tired reactions from the past. Instead of being patient, they take a few stabs at healing only to conclude that there’s nothing to be done.

Where You Need To Be

August 4, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Since human timetables quite often do not correspond with universal timetables, it’s common for people to feel that life is progressing too slowly or too quickly. We draft carefully composed plans only to find that they fall into place when we least expect. Or, conversely, we are thrust into roles we believe we are not prepared for and wonder how we will survive the demands imposed upon us by unfamiliar circumstances. When delays in our progress kindle pangs of disappointment within us or the pace of life seems overwhelming, peace can be found in the simple fact that we are exactly where we need to be at this moment.     

Every person fulfills their purpose when the time is right. If you have fast-tracked to success, you may become deeply frustrated if you discover you can no longer satisfy your desires as quickly as you might like. Yet the delays that disappoint you may be laying the foundation for future accomplishments that you have not yet conceived. Or the universe may have plans for you that differ from the worldly aspirations you have pursued up until this point. What you deem a postponement of progress may actually represent an auspicious opportunity to prepare for what is yet to come. If, however, you feel as though the universe is pushing you forward at too fast a clip, you may be unwittingly resisting your destiny. Your unease regarding the speed of your progress could be a sign that you need to cultivate awareness within yourself and learn to move with the flow of fate rather than against it. The universe puts nothing in your path that you are incapable of handling, so you can rest assured that you are ready to grow into your new situation.

You may feel compelled to judge your personal success using your age, your professional position, your level of education, or the accomplishments of your peers as a yardstick. Yet we all enjoy the major milestones in our lives at the appropriate time—some realize their dreams as youngsters while others flourish only in old age. If you take pride in your many accomplishments and make the most of every circumstance in which you find yourself, your time will come.

Understanding All Sides

August 1, 2009

[ From DailyOM ]

Whenever we examine our lives, we examine them from a particular side or angle. Most of us tend to favor one side over the others. For example, we may tend to look at things from an emotional perspective rather than a financial perspective, or we may prefer to think in terms of details rather than the big picture, or vice versa. To a certain degree, this is not a problem, and these tendencies add color to our individual personalities. However, they can also make us one-sided, blind to the many other ways of looking at our situation. Even if we have decided that we are most happy when we focus on one particular side of things, it is always worth exploring the other sides. When we do, we become well rounded, more understanding of other viewpoints, and even more solid in our own.

Perhaps you are a person who tends to see your life in terms of your spiritual well-being. As a result, other concerns such as financial comfort or social standing may not be prominent in your mind as you make decisions. However, taking just a moment to consider those angles will help you in several ways. One, it will enable you to see more clearly what your priorities are and how they influence your life situation. Two, it will enhance your sense of confidence, because you will see your situation from all sides, even as you choose one. And three, it will help you communicate with others about who you are and what you are doing, because you will come from a place of understanding that your own biases and tendencies are unique as are theirs.

Most of us instinctively come at things from a particular angle, and in many cases this is the right way for us. Still, understanding the other angles only strengthens us. When we look at our lives from all sides, we shed light on the big picture, giving ourselves access to many points of view and highlighting more clearly the one we have chosen to take.