Archive for March, 2010

The Boundaries Of Experience

March 30, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Leaving your comfort zone of current patterns and behaviors is a courageous step toward self-growth.

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.

Creating Your Family’s Reality

March 26, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Take time to develop a plan of what qualities are important to you as a family; generosity, volunteering, kindness?

Family planning generally encompasses questions about when to have our children and how to be financially prepared for the future, but it can also include questions that are more creative and visionary for your family. For example, you might consider and plan on what qualities you would most like to emphasize and develop, and which experiences you would like to place the most value on, within your family unit. One of evolution’s greatest gifts is the gift of experience, which teaches us what worked in our own families of origin and what did not. This information will be exceedingly valuable in envisioning our own family’s ethos.

Perhaps you feel that the world needs more people who are practiced and capable in the art of generosity. With this in mind, you might develop a family tradition of setting one day aside each month to give to the people around you. This could be as simple as making extra portions of a delicious soup, or many loaves of bread, and bringing them to friends and neighbors. Most children love the act of giving, and allowing them to be the ones to present the food will make them very happy. It will also give them positive memories and set a lifelong pattern of generosity. On a larger scale, you may decide that travel and education are your family priorities, and design your lifestyle to suit that philosophy by traveling extensively or living abroad. On the other hand, you may decide that putting down solid roots and building community means the most to you and your children, choosing to spend most of your energy and resources in one chosen spot.

The act of determining what you value most and how you will pass that on to your children is both empowering and creative. As your family grows and your children have ideas of their own, you can incorporate them into the process. In this way, you fulfill the additional purpose of teaching your children how to envision and create their own reality. Most of all, they will learn that life is rich with potential and that expressing their deepest values empowers them to create a life that will be of benefit to the whole world.

Using Our Own Minds

March 25, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Our own sense of the truth is the most important piece when taking in information from external sources.

To a certain degree, we rely on other people’s accounts of reality to inform us of the nature of the universe. For example, we can’t all be molecular physicists, but we can benefit from taking their findings to heart. In the same way, we often look to teachers, various leaders, and gurus to tell us about the path to enlightenment and the nature of the realm of spirit. While this input from experts is undeniably valuable, our own sense of the truth is ultimately the most important piece in processing the information we take in from external sources. In the end, we are the authorities in our own lives, and we have the final say on whether something generally held as true is true for us.

We need only take a brief look at history to remember that the religious, scientific, and political establishments that ruled the day were all wrong about something at some point in time. This is the beauty of learning, experiencing, and evolving. While we sometimes wish we could just let someone else decide for us what is real and true, this is clearly not a viable option. The good news in all this is that we can confidently devote ourselves to making up our own minds about reality, taking everything that is handed to us as truth with a grain of salt.

This does not mean that we discount the information we receive from outside sources. It simply means that we are vigilant enough to question it before we decide whether or not we agree with it. All the information we receive is useful in the process of helping us make up our own minds. As we allow ourselves to sit with the things we learn, measuring them alongside our own inner sense of the truth and our own experiences, we find that making up our minds is a joyful process of integration that grows us into stronger, smarter, more engaged human beings.

Short Getaways

March 24, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

When vacations are not possible, consider a daytrip as an alternative for renewal and feeding your soul.

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 minivacation. 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 minigetaway you take will imbue your existence with a sensation of renewal that prepares you for whatever lies ahead.

Demolishing Anger’s Walls

March 24, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

It is when anger has no outlet and morphs into resentment that it carries with it the potential to cause turmoil.

Anger, when channeled into the pursuit of change, can be a useful tool in our emotional palette. Anger is experienced by most people, some more than others.  It is when anger has no outlet and morphs into resentment that it carries with it the potential to cause great turmoil. Allowing us to assign blame for the pain we are feeling, thereby easing it, resentment tends to smolder relentlessly just below the surface of our awareness, eroding our peace of mind. The target of our resentment grows ever more wicked in our minds and we rue the day we first encountered them. But resentment is merely another hue on the emotional palette and therefore within the realm of our conscious control. We can choose to let go of our resentment and to move on with our lives, no matter how painful the event that incited it.

Hanging onto resentment in our hearts does not serve us in any way. Successfully divesting ourselves of resentful feelings can be difficult, however, because doing so forces us to mentally and emotionally confront the original source of anger. When we cease assigning blame, we realize that our need to hold someone or something responsible for our feelings has harmed us. We thought we were coping with our hurt when in fact we were holding onto that hurt with a vice grip. To release resentment, we must shift our attention from those we resent back toward ourselves by thinking of our own needs. Performing a short ceremony can help you quell resentful feelings by giving tangible form to your emotions. You may want to write down your feelings and then burn the paper and close your ceremony by wishing them well.  When you can find compassion in your heart, you know you are on your way to healing.

Free of resentment, we have much more energy and attention to devote to our personal development. We can fill the spaces it left behind with unconditional acceptance and joy. And, as a result of our subsequent freedom from resentment, blessings can once again enter our lives as the walls we built to contain our anger have been demolished.

Do You Avoid Your Emotions?

March 22, 2010

[ By Isha Judd in Care2 ]

Emotions are a natural part of human life. If we are working towards a healthy relationship with ourselves, it is essential that we learn to embrace them. Most of us from an early age have learnt that certain emotions are “bad” or inappropriate: maybe we were told not to cry, or never to get angry. But by denying these feelings, we don’t rid ourselves of them: when an emotion is ignored, it stagnates with us, building up and contributing to the accumulated charge of repressed feelings. With time, these emotions become distorted: anger becomes hatred or resentment, eventually exploding in fits of rage and violence; sadness becomes depression.

We only need look at a child to see how natural emotions are. Children get angry and sad with spontaneous ease, yet they have an innate ability to find joy and entertainment everywhere; the world for them is a magical place, and where as adults we would only find boredom, they are capable of discovering wonderment. This is precisely because they don’t deny any aspect of their emotional spectrum. They embrace all of its hues without judgement, as natural parts of the human experience. As a result, when anger comes, it is intense, but short lived: five minutes later, they have completely forgotten what they were angry about, absorbed in the excitement of a new moment, the next discovery.

Sometimes, when we are on the spiritual path, we apply the same “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of our childhood conditioning to our process of growth: we try to box ourselves into an image of the “good” boy or girl – an image that is not so far removed from the expectations placed upon us by our parents and our society. The quest for unconditional love becomes a way of behaving: we try to emulate the actions of love and compassion, without first becoming those experiences. This eventually leads to more resentment and frustration, for how can you embrace another in their perfection if you still see yourself as imperfect? How can you be compassionate if you do not know yourself? In trying to break free from the confines of our past limitations, we jump into a new box, sometimes even more rigid than the one before.

In order to experience our divinity, we must first embrace our humanity. In order to love unconditionally, we must first discover our own perfection. Embrace your anger, embrace your sadness: it is not through denial that you will be free of them, but through acceptance. By allowing yourself to feel the accumulated charge, you free up space within yourself. Space to be, space to love, space to discover who you truly are.

Messengers from the Wilderness

March 22, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

A plant is a weed only within a certain context; one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower.

Simply expressed, a weed is any plant that grows where it isn’t wanted. Weeds are defined by their tendency to flourish at the expense of a gardener’s overall vision, and we tend to battle their presence in our yards. It is interesting to consider, though, that a plant is a weed only within a certain context, which is to say that one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower. Most of us have pulled at least one dandelion up by its roots and disposed of it in the interest of preserving the look of a perfect green lawn, yet the dandelion is good medicine, packed with healing properties and vitamin-rich leaves that are a delicious, spicy surprise in a summer salad.

In the wild, there is no such thing as a weed because the overall vision is in the hands of Mother Nature, who accommodates and incorporates all forms of life. In nature, balance is achieved over the long term, without the aid, or interference, of a human supervisor. While one plant may prevail over others for a certain period of time, eventually it will reach an apex and then it will naturally decline, allowing for other forms to be born and survive. This self-regulating realm was the first garden of our ancestors, who learned the art of agriculture from studying the forests and fields of the as yet uncultivated earth. In a sense, weeds are harbingers of this wildness, pushing their way into our well-ordered plots, undermining more delicate flora, and flourishing in spite of us.

The next time you see a weed, you might want to look deeply into its roots, discover its name, its habits, and its possible uses. Instead of seeing an unwanted intruder, you might see a healer offering its leaves for a medicinal tea or its flowers for a colorful salad. At the very least, if you look long enough, you will see a messenger from the wilderness of Mother Earth, reminding you that, even in the most carefully controlled garden, she cannot be completely ruled out.

Thoughts

March 19, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

By choosing how to interpret and define each moment with your thoughts, you truly create your reality.

Our thoughts are powerful forces in the creation of our experience of life. You may be able to recall a time when frustration that was based on a misunderstanding completely evaporated when your understanding changed. This is because our interpretation defines our experience, and it can change in an instant. Our only true reality is the present moment, so rather than merely accepting that life is happening to us, we can harness the power of our thoughts to actively create a positive reality. For example, we can choose to appreciate beauty around us rather than focusing on traffic or look for admirable qualities in the people we deal with rather than focusing on the negative. By choosing how to interpret and define each moment with your thoughts, you truly create your reality.

Throughout the day, we can monitor our thoughts to catch ourselves in the middle of investing our energy elsewhere—such as into belief in limitations—and instead pull our focus back to the infinite possibilities of the present. Taking a deep breath will help us center our thoughts on being in our bodies right now. Regular meditation allows us to gain mastery over our minds so that we can still our thoughts to focus on the pureness of being. If we mentally dwell on the past or the future, we may miss the experience of living in the present moment. Setting and visualizing goals is wonderful, but we can bring our thoughts into our current experience by taking steps to create them now.

Our minds are powerful tools that we can harness to create our reality. Through them we move the unformed energy of the universe into form, which gives us direction for our words and actions. Each thought is like a stone dropped into a lake, sending ripples out into our world to affect all they touch. We can choose our focus and how we invest our energy, which gives us the power to design our lives to be whatever we choose in each and every moment.

5 Ways to Boost Memory

March 18, 2010

— Posted by Megan in Care2

We’re always telling you how to take care of your body-but we almost forgot about your brain!

Do you also need a memory boost? Give your mind some short-term help by:

1. Paying attention: Really listen to a name when being introduced. Repeat it out loud and make a comment about it.     (e.g. “Catherine, is that with a C or a K?”)

2. Using linking tools: Attach new information to information you already know.

3. Picturing it: Visualize a silly or strong image that you associate with someone (e.g. what animal does s/he remind you of ? ).

And you’ll overhaul grey matter in the long-term if you:

4. Make like a vegetarian: Blueberries, strawberries and anything green and leafy (especially spinach) contain brain-boosting compounds.

5. Stress less: Exercise reduces stress hormones that can impair memory.

An Inner Choice

March 18, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Often we look at the outside world and find it in a state of seeming chaos or disorder. We feel compelled to transform the situation from one of turmoil into one of peace, yet we are often disappointed in our best attempts to do so. One reason for this is that we cannot bring to the world what we do not have to offer. Peace starts in our own minds and hearts, not outside of ourselves, and until its roots are firmly entrenched in our own selves, we cannot manifest it externally. Once we have found it within, we can share it with our family, our community, and the whole wide world. Some of us may already be doing just that, but for most of us, the first step is looking within and honestly evaluating the state of our own relationship to peacefulness.

There cannot be peace in the world until we have it in our own hearts and minds, our own families and neighborhoods.

Interestingly, people who manifest peace internally are not different from us; they have chattering thoughts and troubled emotions like we all do. The difference is that they do not lend their energy to them, so those thoughts and feelings can simply rise and fall like the waves of the ocean without disturbing the deeper waters of peacefulness within. We all have this ability to choose how we distribute our energy, and practice enables us to grow increasingly more serene as we choose the vibration of peace over the vibration of conflict. We begin to see our thoughts and feelings as tiny objects on the surface of our being that pose no threat to the deep interior stillness that is the source of peacefulness.

When we find that we are able to locate ourselves more and more in the deeper waters and less on the tumultuous surface of our being, we have discovered a lasting relationship with peace that will enable us to inspire peace beyond ourselves. Until then, we help the world most by practicing the art of choosing peace within.

The Body is Natural

March 17, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

We are all born with natural intuitive abilities, but as we grow it often leaves us through conditioning from adults.

So much of the human experience is removed from nature that we tend to forget that we are products of the natural world. At the moment of birth, we are perfectly attuned to nature. Our feelings are an authentic response to the stimulus we encounter. We interact with our environment viscerally, desiring only what is necessary for our survival. And, if we are lucky, we take in nourishment in the form of pure mother’s milk. As months and years pass, however, we discover the sights, sounds, and scents of the synthetic world. Though these often momentarily dazzle us, the dim memory of our naturalness remains. When we embrace the notion that human beings are inherently natural, bringing it to the forefront of our day-to-day experiences, we achieve a new level of wellness that boasts nature at its very core.

We innately understand that our bodies are not composed of plastics or man-made chemicals and that there is no legitimate reason to consume or expose ourselves bodily to such substances. This knowledge is reinforced each time we find ourselves energized by sweet, fresh air and warm sunlight or awed by the majesty of Mother Nature’s beauty. We feel the strength of our connection to nature when fresh food that is close to the earth sustains us more effectively than artificial supplements and when the pleasures of exercise outweigh the pains of exertion. The human body has been blessed with the same physical intuitiveness that all nonhuman living beings employ instinctively. But because our lives are no longer bound up in nature’s rhythms, we must actively seek to reconnect with this formerly innate skill. The process of rediscovering our place in the natural world can be exciting and inspiring, since nothing more is required of us than to delight in nature’s wonders, to derive nourishment from natural foods, and to drink deeply of all the wisdom that plants and animals have to share.

Your own naturalness will reveal itself to you when you look beyond your beliefs, your lifestyle choices, and the attitudes you hold. When these constructs are stripped away, you will see a body and mind that never gave up its relationship to the essence of the natural world from which consciousness sprang.

Be Happy Every Single Day

March 16, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

Being happy doesn’t come naturally to everybody. It is your birthright to be happy, choose happiness everyday.

Our lives are rich with potential sources of happiness, but sometimes we become victims of negative thinking because we believe that focusing on all that has gone wrong will provide us with the motivation we need to face the challenges of survival. When we choose to focus on what makes us happy, however, a shift occurs in the fabric of our existence. Finding something to be happy about every single day can help this shift take place. The vantage points from which we view the world are brought into balance, and we can see that being alive truly is a gift to be savored. There is always something we can be happy about—it is simply up to us to identify it.

On one day, we may find happiness in a momentous, life-changing event such as a marriage or the birth of a child. On another day, the happiness we experience may be a product of our appreciation of a particularly well-brewed cup of a tea or the way the sun shines on a leaf. If we discover that we literally cannot call to mind a single joyful element of existence, we should examine the cause of the blockage standing between us and experiencing happiness. Keeping a happiness journal is a wonderful way to catalog the happiness unfolding all around us so that joy has myriad opportunities to manifest itself in our lives. Writing about the emotions we experience while contemplating joy may give us insight into the factors compelling us to resist it.

Happiness may not always come easily into your life. You have likely been conditioned to believe that the proper response to unmet expectations is one of sadness, anger, guilt, or fear. To make joy a fixture in your existence, you must first accept that it is within your power to choose happiness over unhappiness every single day. Then, each time you discover some new source of happiness, the notion that the world is a happy place will find its way more deeply into your heart. On this day, find one thing to be happy about and let it fill your heart.

Hope in Hardship

March 11, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

There is nothing in our life that cannot be overcome with time, love, friendship and attention to the matter.

The journey that each human being makes through earthly existence can have hardship as often as it is touched by joy. When we encounter adversity, the stress we feel can erode our optimism, eventually convincing us that the issues we face cannot be overcome. In truth, there is no situation so dire, no challenge so great, and no choice so bewildering that it cannot be overcome. Though we may believe that all avenues have been closed to us or that our most conscientious efforts will come to naught, we are never without feasible options. The best course of action may be veiled in doubt, but it is there. When we are honest with ourselves with regard to this simple fact, we can overcome anything because we will never stop looking for a solution to the challenges before us.

Self-trust coupled with a sturdy plan is the ultimate antidote to adversity’s tendency to inspire disillusionment in the human mind. As difficult as the obstacle plaguing you seems, it is no match for the love of a supportive universe that has been a part of your life since the day of your birth and will be with you forevermore. Try not to be misguided by your fear as this gives rise to the notion that there are problems without solutions. If you believe in your capabilities and dedicate yourself to the creation of some form of resolution, you will be surprised to discover that paths that were once closed to you miraculously open. Even if all you can do is change your perspective to turn an impediment into an opportunity to grow, you will have found the hope that is an inherent element of all hardship.

Remember that your destiny is a product of your own creation. Even when it seems you have nowhere left to turn, there is a solution waiting for you. The only insurmountable obstacles are the ones you create in your own mind—and these can only exert power over you if you let them. Uncertainty will always be a part of your existence, but perseverance and mindfulness will never fail to see you through to the other side of hardship where joy can thrive. Try and remember that no matter what life places at your feet, there is absolutely no situation that cannot be resolved with time, love, and friendship.

Confucius Quotes 孔夫子的教导

March 10, 2010

“To know your faults and be able to change is the greatest virtue.”

知錯能改,善莫大焉

 “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.”

  己所不欲,勿施於人。

“With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow – is not joy to be found therein? Riches and honours acquired through unrighteousness are to me as the floating clouds.”

疏食飲水,曲肱而枕,樂在其中矣。不義而富貴,於我如浮雲。

“Knowledge is recognizing what you know and what you don’t.”

知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也.

“Reviewing the day’s lessons. Isn’t it joyful? Friends come from far. Isn’t it delightful? One has never been angry at other’s misunderstanding. Isn’t he a respectable man?”

學而時習之,不亦說乎?有朋自遠方來,不亦樂乎 ? 人不知而不慍,不亦君子乎 ?

Looking Deeply

March 10, 2010

[ From DailyOM ]

We need to look deeply into all things in our lives to see the inherent goodness at the heart of everything.

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.