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imageLike art, all of life is a collaboration.  It's a collaboration of choices.  This artist chose chairs for the canvas, a restaurant to display the art, and a type of paint that would adhere well to the wood of the chair to produce these lovely works of art.  And there is the bonus of functionality to this art.

All the elements work together, and they came together because of the choices of the artist.  And the artist made these choices, and not some others, because of a combination of the intent to create the beautiful chairs as well as the skill to implement that intent.

Life is like that.  We are continually making choices, and implementing them, sometimes with a lot of skill, and sometimes...not so much skill.   But the choice, the intent, is always there.  We can choose consciously, or by default, but the choice is always there.  If we choose by default, the art of our life may seem a bit unorganized, or non-productive, or scattered, or maybe it just doesn't work.  Like a piece of art that just didn't come together well.

Perhaps it is time to choose with conscious awareness, which is the initial step in the process of collaboration.

Here are a few tips to ensure success in the collaboration process:

  1. Remember that choices are not meant to be a reaction to life, but instead a proactive tool to create.  Do not make choices nor act on those choices when in reactive mode.  Instead, pause for all long as it takes.
  2. Choosing wisely happens when you are aware of what your are thinking and feeling, and what your beliefs are.  This takes instrospection.  Take time every day to check in with yourself and notice what is happening inside of you.
  3. Choosing wisely happens when you are calm and at peace.  If you aren't calm and at peace, I highly recommend the practice of meditation.  If you don't know how to meditate, or don't feel as if you are successful at it, take a class or hire a coach to teach you.
  4. If you don't feel as if you have choices in life, get some help.
  5. Once the choices are made, act on them by using tools and skills to implement those choices.  Just as an artist begins by learning the basics of his craft, then building upon those skills, so do we begin by learning the basics of life and building on them, ever enlarging our skill set.  You can learn new skills by taking a class, reading a book, hiring a coach or joining a support group.

Affirmation:  I choose wisely today, from a place of peace and calm, and implement my choices to create the wonderful work of art that is my life!

 

I'm in the midst of an intensive review of course work for the Masters Degree program I will graduate from in June of 2014.  It's called Consciousness Studies, by the way, you can find out more information about it here.

One of my favorite areas of study turns out to be the mind body connection.  I have long believed that any illness I experience is a result of some unresolved emotional or spiritual issue.  I have spent all of my adult life tackling physical illnesses from a foundation of inner beliefs and wisdom.  So when I discovered that what I instinctively knew to be true had scientific validity, I was excited to learn more!  Turns out there are literally thousands of studies that prove there is a powerful and profound connection between the mind and the body, even if we don't understand how it works.

To put it simply and briefly, there are dozens of scientifically verified techniques that you can use to learn to listen to the wisdom of  your body and allow it to heal.  These techniques are not meant to be in place of traditional medicine, but as complimentary techniques.   Two of these techniques are meditation, specifically one point meditation, and imagery, specifically visualizing work crews repairing your body.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about emptying the mind, or clearing the mind. It's about focus.  It's about training your mind to focus so that when, in the course of a day, it goes to places that don't serve you well, you can redirect it.  One point meditation is about focusing on one thing, over and over again, for a period of time.  Twenty minutes once a day is ideal.   While you are focusing your mind, you are freeing your body to heal.

Visualizing work crews is a fun type of imagery.  Imagine you have, for example, high blood pressure.  Again, I am not recommending you disregard doctor's orders.  These techniques are meant to be complimentary, not alternative.  High blood pressure is caused by a build up of material in your blood vessels that simply makes it harder for the blood to move through them.  So you could imagine a crew of people/critters/robots...whatever suits your fancy, in your body, hammering or chipping or hacking or dissolving or in some other way getting rid of that buildup.  You can  have fun with this, giving them names and assigning a supervisor, maybe giving them uniforms and any other attributes that will help them do their jobs better.

The mind body connection is powerful.  Don't ignore it!

image"You don't get in life what you want, you get in life what you are!"  Les Brown

If you want something in life, wishing or praying for it isn't going to help.  That will just get you more wanting.

Instead, try being what you want.  If  you want a better relationship, be a better partner.  If you want better friendships, be a better friend.  If you want prosperity in your life, embody the feelings of being prosperous.

Banish thoughts of lack, self pity and worthlessness from your life.  This is where a trained mind comes in handy:  when your thoughts turn to things that don't serve you, you can divert them and get them back on track.

Training the mind does not happen overnight, but with consistent and persistent use of things like meditation and imagery, you will find that your thinking patterns are more positive and you are able to be that which you want.

 

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I have a sticky note on my desk that reads, "A lot of spiritual work is dealing with the idea that we are separate from God."

In my experience, it is this idea of separation that causes feelings of loneliness, stress, overwhelm, burden, anger, isolation, distrust, doubt, guilt and any myriad other host of negative feelings.

I have never believed in a God separate from me, but I never voiced that, because of a perception that most people believe in the separate "God in the sky" version of Spirit.  Even many so called alternative religions believe in a Force separate from us humans.  Every day I hear folks say things like, "The Universe will provide."  It's still a separate God, even if they are calling it something different.   I could never make sense of a separate God.  And when I returned to my childhood roots at a Center for Spiritual Living and began to take classes, I soon learned why:  One of the first things we are taught in our classes is that God and I, we are One!

In fact, that concept is the first of ten of what we call the Core Concepts of Science of Mind. It is also the first statement in a list of "We Believe" statements that have been adopted as a way of explaining to newcomers who we are and what we believe.

Ironically, around these parts we don't tell anyone what to believe.  But we do have ten statements telling everyone exactly what we do believe. Here is the first of those ten:

"We Believe in God, the Living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute and self-existent Cause.  This One manifests Itself in and through all creation, but is not absorbed by Its creation.  The manifest universe is the body of God; it is the logical and necessary outcome of the infinite self-knowingness of God."

The part that says we are each free to believe what we wish is the part where I interpret that rather wordy sentence in my own way.  I choose to interpret it thusly:  I believe in God, it manifested itself in and through me by knowing me.  Yet God is much more than that, it isn't just me.

The ramifications of such a belief, or lack of one, are far reaching, and the subject of another blog post, but for now, I will leave you with this:

God and I, we are one!

How do you feel about the concept of being one with God?

imageSometimes it is beneficial to spend some time with your head in the clouds.

Studies have shown that when you allow your thoughts to drift aimlessly you activate a creativity app in  your mind.

Creativity helps us in many ways.  It's not just about artistic creativity.  It's also about resting.  Have you ever lost something and searched high and low for it, ending up frustrated because you couldn't find it?  Then you turn to another task and forget about it for a while, and all of a sudden the location of your lost item "magically" appears in your mind.

Spending time with your head in the clouds, at rest, is like that.  Let it rest and roam, and do this on a regular basis, and suddenly a "magical" solution to something you've been pondering will appear.

 

I was having a chat with someone today who told me that she had been feeling a bit depressed lately.  Nothing clinical mind you; if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or with suicidal tendencies due to depression, contact a physician.  I'm talking about those down days that we all get sometimes, seemingly for no reason.

But there is a reason.  Many times, a feeling of being down or mildly depressed can be a message from the body that it is time to rest.  The body contains wisdom  and it will send us messages that it is time to be doing something different with our lives; mild depression is one of those messages.

If you are feeling mildly depressed, or a bit down, or just unmotivated to do much, consider what your body is trying to tell you:

  1. Have you been burning the candle at both ends?  There is a reason most religions advocate a day of rest.  Even the ancients recognized that we all need a period of rest in our lives.  If you work seven days a week (self employed people are very good at this!), take a break.  Force yourself if you have to.  You'll find you are much more productive when you return.
  2. Get enough sleep.  We are a chronically sleep deprived population.  In spite of the fact that we need about 8 hours of sleep per day, most people allow themselves 6 or even less. This lowers your immune system and your productivity, as well as reaction times when driving or operating machinery.
  3. Investigate:       have you experienced a loss lately?  Even small losses can trigger a need to rest, which is what mild depression feels like.  Or perhaps you've recently had a medical procedure?  The more invasive, the more your body will need to rest, hence the feelings of mild depression.  Anniversaries can also sometimes trigger a feeling of mild depression.

The key, no matter what the cause for feeling down, is to honor it.  Take a nap, go spend a half day or an evening at a spa, get a massage or a pedicure, go to a museum and aimlessly wander, go for a walk.  And talk about how you are feeling.  A simple conversation with a caring person can work wonders!

If you honor the message of a mild depression, you will learn something about yourself and feel better in the process!

Don't just encounter balance when  you swing past it!  If you incorporate one or more of the following tips into your life, you will experience increased productivity, better health, improved sleep, more creativity and an enthusiasm for your personal life that will spill over into your work life.

  1. If you are self employed, be sure to take at least one day off per week.  If you are an employee, be sure that one of your days off has no commitments.  This is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure balance in your life, and it is probably the most difficult.  There is a reason that spiritual literature advocates a day of rest.  It doesn't have to be Sunday, just take a day.
  2. Lighten up!  Don't take things personally, including yourself.  Too much preoccupation with self tends to make a very heavy burden.
  3. Help others.  Volunteer, make cookies for the folks in the local fire house, help a neighbor.  Find some way to be helpful, and don't place any expectations on it.  Volunteer your time, talent or treasure in ways that benefit both you and others.
  4. Go to bed about the same time every night and get at least 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.  We are the most sleep deprived nation in the world, and it shows in stress related illnesses and lack of productivity.  This ties in with #1.  Enough sleep and enough rest ensures balance for you in your life.
  5. Meditate.  Remember that meditation is not about emptying your mind, but about focusing it.  Focus on something:  your breath, counting, chanting, a candle, a waterfall, a stream, the sounds around you.  Do it for ten minutes, every day.
  6. Go on an Artist's Date.  Julia Cameron recommends this in  her book "The Artist's Way."  I highly recommend it.  Your date isn't necessarily artistic, but simply something fun that you would like to do.  I've gone on drives on windy roads, taken myself to visit quaint little towns, gone shopping, gone to a movie, gone to some event like a Farmer's Market or Craft Fair and just wandered.
  7. STOP!  Just take a break for a few minutes.  If you are in a public place and feeling overwhelmed, go to the bathroom, shut the door, lock it and sit for few minutes.  Or take a walk, or get up and stretch.  You would be surprised at how just a few minutes can make all the difference in the world.

You are worth feeling good.  You are worth having fun.   Incorporate these few tips into your life and watch the fun factor soar!

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