Archive for May, 2011

Sometimes a Loss Can Be a Gain

May 30, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

While it is always important to honor what we’ve lost, sometimes a loss can also represent a chance for a new beginning.

When we lose anything that we cherish, the sense of emptiness we are left behind with can be overwhelming. A space that was filled, whether in our lives or our hearts, is now a void, and the feelings of pain, loss, and separation can sometimes be difficult to bear. While it is always important to honor what we’ve lost, sometimes a loss can also represent a chance for a new beginning.  When we are ready, the void left by a relationship, a job, or a dream can then be viewed as open space that can be filled with something new: new experiences, new knowledge, new job opportunities, new dreams, new people, and new ways to grow.

There are many ways to weave the threads of loss into a blessing. If you’ve lost a job or ended a relationship, your first thoughts may revolve around filling the void with a similar job or the same kind of relationship. Try not to rush into anything just to fill up the emptiness. The loss of a job can free you up to explore new opportunities, especially if you’ve outgrown the old one. Likewise, the loss of a relationship can give you a chance to rediscover your own interests, explore new passions, and meet different people.

If seeking the good in what seems like a bad situation makes you feel uncomfortable, then try to remember that you are not devaluing what you’ve lost or replacing it cold-heartedly. You are surrendering to the fact that, in life, we sometimes have to let go and allow for what is new to enter into the open spaces created by our losses. In doing so, you are honoring what has left you and welcoming the new into your life with open space, an open mind, and an open heart.

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There Is Only Now

May 27, 2011

[ From DailyOM]

 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 2013. 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.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

May 25, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

There is nothing in your life that cannot be overcome; whatever the situation or problem, there is always a solution.

When our next best course of action seems unclear, any dilemmas we face can appear insurmountable. Yet there is nothing we cannot overcome with time, persistence, focused thought, help, and faith. Whatever the situation or problem, there is always a solution. And if you remember to look within, even as you search around you for the “right” course of action, you will be able to center yourself, clear your mind, and see that nothing has to be impossible.

The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to believe that it can be overcome. Doing so will give you the strength and courage to move through any crisis. The second step is to make a resolution that you can prevail over any chaos. Enlist your support network of family and friends if necessary. The more minds there are to consider a problem, the more solutions can be found.  Don’t discount ideas just because they seem impractical or “unrealistic,”  and don’t keep searching for the “best” alternative. Often there is no “best” choice, there is only a choice to make so we can begin moving beyond whatever is obstructing our path. At the very least, making a choice, even if isn’t the ideal one, can give you a sense of  peace before you  have to figure out what your next course of action will be. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the scope of your troubles, you may want to think of other people who have turned adversity into triumph. We often gain a fresh perspective when we remember others who have overcome larger obstacles. It can be inspiring to hear of their victories, helping us remember that there is always light at the end of every tunnel. It is during our darkest hours that we sometimes need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to feel helpless. You have within and around you the resources to find a solution to any problem. And remember that if a solution or choice you make doesn’t work, you are always free to try another.  Believe that you can get through anything, and you will always prevail.

Elegant Blessings

May 23, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Enjoying a Snail’s Pace

May 21, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Hidden Treasure

May 19, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

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.

Being Aware is the First Step

May 13, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Awareness is the first step to creating change in any situation, without it, there would be no desire for change.

Life is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change. 

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing.  We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen. 

There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve.

Stepping Back from Anger

May 10, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

The emotional trigger than begins an argument may have little to do with your present situation, but has dug up a wound.

When we find ourselves in an argument, we may feel like we are losing control of emotions that have taken on lives of their own. When we can become aware that this is happening, taking a deep breath can help us step back from the situation. Once we can separate ourselves from the heat of the moment, we may find that the emotional trigger that began the argument has little to do with the present situation, but may have brought up feelings related to something else entirely. Looking honestly at what caused our reaction allows us to consciously respond more appropriately to the situation and make the best choices.

We can make an agreement with our partners and those closest to us that asking questions can help all of us discover the source of the argument. The shared awareness can result in finding simple solutions to something physical, like low blood sugar or even a hormonal surge. Maybe we are taking ourselves too seriously, and we can just laugh and watch the tension dissolve. We could also discover that perhaps we are addicted to the excitement that drama brings and the chemicals that our body creates when we are angry. But there may be a deeper issue that requires discussion, understanding, and patience. The more we allow ourselves to step back and examine our reasons for arguing, the easier it becomes to allow real feelings to surface and guide us toward solutions that improve our lives.

When we can be clear about our feelings and intentions and communicate them clearly, we have a far better chance of getting what we want than if we lose control or allow our subconscious minds to manipulate the situation. We might take our frustrations out on the people closest to us because we feel safe and comfortable with them, but misplaced anger can cause more harm than good. Arguing for what we truly believe can empower us and help us to direct our passions toward greater life experiences. Truly knowing our reasons for arguing enables us to grow emotionally in ways that will affect our whole being.

Anticipating the Good

May 5, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Change will occur in almost every aspect of our lives, we can learn to embrace it while releasing the past with grace.

When we find ourselves going through any kind of change in our lives, our natural response may be to tense up on the physical, mental, or emotional level. We may not even notice that we have braced ourselves against a shift until we recognize the anxiety, mood swings, or general worried feeling toward the unknown that usually results. There are positive ways to move through change without pushing it away, however, or attempting to deny that it is happening. Since change will occur in almost every aspect of our lives, we can learn to make our response to it an affirmative one of anticipation, welcoming the new while releasing the past with grace.

One thing we can do is change our perspective by changing the labels we use to identify our feelings. We can reinterpret feelings of anxiety as the anxious butterflies that come with eager expectation. With this shift, we begin to look for the good that is on its way to us. Though we may only be able to imagine the possibilities, when we acknowledge that good is there for us to find, we focus our energy on joyful anticipation and bring it into our experience while allowing the feelings to carry us forward.

We can also choose to do a ceremony to allow our emotions to process. Every culture has created ceremonies to help people make the transition from one phase of life to the next. We can always create a ceremony too, perhaps by burning written thoughts to watch the smoke carry them away, thereby releasing them, or we can welcome new endeavors by planting flowers or trees. Some ceremonial activities such as a farewell send-off or housewarming party, we may do automatically. Society also has built-in ceremonies, like graduation and weddings, which may satisfy the need we feel. Sometimes the shift from denial to acceptance is all that is needed to ease our anxiety, allowing us to bring our memories with us as we move through nervousness to joyful excitement about the good to come.

Things That Annoy Us

May 3, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

There will always be factors and people that we cannot control; how we respond can determine the quality of our lives.

There are many stories of spiritual masters embracing the presence of an annoying student in their community. There is even one story that documents a teacher paying an irritating person to live among his students. From an everyday perspective, this is difficult to comprehend. We generally work hard to avoid people and things that we find annoying so they don’t bother us.

From a deeper spiritual perspective, however, irritation can be an important teacher and indicator that we are making progress on our path. Being able to remain centered and awake even when we feel uncomfortable is much more impressive than doing so in an environment where everything is to our liking. No matter how good we are at controlling our circumstances, there will always be factors and people that we cannot control. How we respond to these experiences to a great degree determines the quality of our lives. The goal of spiritual development is not to learn to control our environment—which is more of an ego-driven desire. And while having some measure of control over our external reality is important, it is when we are confronted with a person or situation that irritates us and we can choose not to react that we know have made progress spiritually. It is when we have mastered our internal reality that we will have become the masters of our lives.

The more we try to eliminate annoyances, instead of learning to handle them gracefully, the further we get from developing the qualities that come with spiritual growth, such as patience, tolerance, and acceptance. It is often in the presence of people and experiences we find annoying that we have an opportunity to develop these qualities. Fortunately for most of us, our lives offer an abundance of opportunities to practice and cultivate these traits.

Animals in Nature

May 2, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Animals in nature always have a message for us, start noticing what animals show up in your life and when.

Animals share our planet with us, but experience it differently—each has its own abilities and gifts that allow them to interact successfully with the natural world. Since we are merely one manifestation of the universe’s energy in action, when we feel the need for direction we can turn to animals in nature for guidance. Animals can show us different ways to approach and deal with our challenges.

As we hold a question in mind, we can begin to pay attention to the animal activity around us. Staring out a window we may notice a bird soaring high in the sky, showing us how to look at our situation from a greater distance. If we don’t get an immediate answer, we can remember that the universe has its own perfect timing that doesn’t heed the ticking of the clock. Instead, we can release our question into the universe’s care, and then trust that an animal messenger will carry inspiration our way. In the meantime, we align ourselves with the universe’s rhythm—opening, humbling ourselves, and shifting our perceptions so that at the perfect time we will be ready. Then, even weeks later, the sight of a small bird hopping from branch to branch may signal for us to use a talent other than our greatest strength and to take small leaps rather than fly over details. A squirrel bounding across an open expanse of grass to stash its latest prize may remind us to check our favorite hiding places for forgotten treasure. Even if we don’t see actual animals, their representations may hold messages; whether we see them in a shape in the clouds, a picture, or a show on television, their symbolic meaning is the same.

Animals are closer to the rhythms and cycles of nature and have fewer distractions from it than humans do. That is why they are the perfect messengers when we are in need of advice. Just by being themselves they remind us of the wisdom of the universe, and that all answers are available to us when we reconnect with our source and with those who know how to be nurtured by it.