I remember what life used to be like when I did not have a daily practice of going within and connecting. It was like being a dandelion in the wind. I got blown here and there, bits and pieces of me scattered everywhere. I could have been beautiful, but I didn't appreciate myself, and consequently others didn't either. I ended up being a thin little stem, fragile, victim of life, and destined for an early grave. Then a miracle happened. I made a change. A lot of changes actually. But they all stemmed from one series of thoughts: "I don't know what is wrong but something is definitely very wrong. And it has to change, because life wasn't meant to be like this." And I became willing to consider other ways of living. That one moment began what was to become a way of life that today is based in simple inward-focused practices that I do...every day. From that foundation, I have a life of choice, freedom based in personal responsibility, and joy. Much much joy. It's a funny thing about joy: there is the kind that is fleeting, based on outside stuff. That's more like happiness. It comes and goes. This kind of joy is not conditional upon outside stuff, so it is steady. It just is. As a result of fully embracing a life based in spiritual practice, I am now in a position where I can show others how to live such a life. Are you ready? Are you ready to embrace a way of living which will provide you with joy, peace and power? This can be your destiny. This can be a reality for you in the coming year. Set one intention for yourself for the coming year: to spend time every day utilizing one or two of the spiritual practices mentioned in my upcoming new book. There are 12 of them: introspection, connection, day dreaming, mindfulness, gratitude, prayer, treatment, contemplation, journaling, meditation, discipline, helping others, and Forgiveness. Every day. No matter what. And watch your life unfold. Don't let this New Year be like every other one, where you make resolutions that very quickly get set aside due to life and the whim of an undisciplined mind. Let this year be different. I can show you how. Sign up here:
Now, you may be thinking that you don't need someone to show you how to day dream. Well, did you know there are positive ways to day dream, and not so positive ways? You may be thinking that everyone knows how to say thank you. A gratitude practice goes much deeper than that.
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You may be thinking that you can skip the prayer one. What if I told you that there was a different, and more effective, way to pray than beseeching to an outside god whom you may or may not believe in? Or if you do believe in god, perhaps you think It won't hear your prayers? Or that you don't deserve to have them answered? None of those things is true.
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And what about that practice called treatment? What is that? Some sort of medical treatment? Nope. It is a formula, designed to add power to your prayers. It works!
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You may be thinking that there is someone you will never forgive. Check out my previous blog posts on forgiveness and then assess whether or not you want to avail yourself of this extremely powerful practice.
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I have learned that the old saying is true: an unexamined life is worth very little.
Is your life working for you? Do your days go smoothly, and things seem to fall into place easily? If so, good for you! But if life seems like a constant struggle, or you get sick all the time, or it seems like there is just one road block after another getting in the way of what you want to do, or there is a lot of drama, then consider that change begins within, and it begins with examining what your attitudes, beliefs and thoughts are up to. For that is where the circumstances of your life are formed. Things do not change from the outside in. They change from the inside out. In other words, you can't move, or switch jobs, or switch partners, and think that your life is going to change. You have still brought you with you, wherever you go and whatever you do. The change must begin within you, and it begins with examining what is going on in there.
Examine your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes, without shame, blame or guilt, and I guarantee your life will improve. And if you want help doing so, contact me!
I made a decision long ago to not die an unlived life. Growing up, I watched some of the people I cared about in my life limit themselves. Their favorite phrases seemed to be, "I can't do that!" And they were always coming up with reasons why they couldn't do that. It affected everything from driving at night to achieving wonderful things to simply having peace in life. ...continue reading "Do Not Die an Unlived Life"
"A lot of doorways are going to open for you, just don't stand behind them when they open." Rev. Dr. Gil Linsley, www.gillinsley.com
My dad told me that just yesterday. We were sitting there talking about endings and beginnings and possibilities and out came that beautiful quote.
I think it is awesome, and very appropriate for many of us today.
I was talking with a client the other day who was very upset because she didn't know what was going to happen in her life. Not only that, she didn't know what she wanted to happen, but it was more important to her to know what was going to happen than to not know.
Having been in a hallway...when a door closes and the new ones haven't yet presented themselves or opened....more times than I can count, I am in a place where being in a hallway is actually quite comfortable. I don't have to know what is going to happen. While I plan, and set goals, and have ideas, and take action, I can rest comfortably in the unknown, knowing that things always work out for my highest good, even if I'm not aware of it at the time.
I took an informal survey last Sunday of my congregation at the Center for Spiritual Living Carson City. About 75% of them said they were in a hallway. All of those said they were uncomfortable being there. If you are in a hallway, or you have a decision to make and don't know which way to turn, here are some helpful tools to facilitate movement and transformation.
1. Introspection. Turn your attention away from what is happening "out there." Trying to control the people in your life is like trying to make pigs fly, it just pisses off the pigs and doesn't work. Turn within, ask yourself some hard questions: what do I believe? What do I think of myself? Am I generally optimistic or pessimistic? Am I full of fear? What does fear look like to me?
2. Write down what you would like to see happen. Do a best case scenario, a worst case scenario, and a most likely scenario. I've always had some fun with this exercise, even in the midst of uncertainty and sadness, because my worst case scenarios are usually so ridiculous as to be laughable.
3. Leave some room for flexibility. No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, I have found that leaving room for flexibility is a great way to allow for my greatest good. If I have things planned down to the gnat's ass not only am I going to be frustrated because they don't go as planned, but I've left no room for that wonderful Force that some call the Universe, some call God, to work in my life.
4. Talk it over. Bouncing ideas off a friend can help, as long as that friend is strong enough to not enable you, and is confident enough to voice their observations in a kind and loving way.
5. Don't take advice. This stuff is yours alone, no one else can stand in your shoes, and no one else is equipped to tell you what to do. Good friends and good therapists will not give advice, but will instead suggest ways to allow you to get to your own decisions that serve you best.
Mother Nature can serve as an excellent metaphor for us. I used to sit on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and watch the coming storms. They always came from the west, and from my perch, I could literally see those big storm clouds approaching. I knew that when they arrived, they would bring wind, lots of snow, and sometimes changes in the landscape. One storm brought winds so high that the boulders along the shoreline were budged, many storms meant fallen trees. No matter what, the storms always passed, and then I would have to clear the snow, wait for the electricity to come back on, and move on.
Our lives operate much the same way. Storms come, and we are left to either react or respond after they leave. I choose response rather than reaction today, how about you?
Reaction is that knee jerk, unthinking thing we do as a result of storms. Reaction is usually not pretty: it is full of melodrama and frustration. I call it "banging my spoon on my high chair."
Response, on the other hand, is usually dignified and carries with it a certain strength and power that is unshakable.
How do we get to response rather than reaction? There are a couple of spiritual practices that I have found invaluable. One is introspection. There is a very good reason that every faith and every mystery school and every wisdom tradition and every spiritual path tells us to know ourselves. It is powerful stuff. And yes, I do know how scary that can be, to simply go within and sit with yourself and discover. While today I don't find that journey scary, it was at first and I didn't do it alone. I had a guide who was very supportive in holding the light while I dug.
The other spiritual practice I have found very helpful is to pause when agitated. This means that when something happens, I don't say anything, I don't do anything. Except retreat. I retreat to my safe place, which now is within me. I take a look, I grieve the loss, I use my guide to talk it over, then I respond. You can bet that after doing my own work, my response serves me much better than a reaction.
If you have some clouds in your life, take a step back. Do the inner work, and be all means use a guide if you need to. Coaches and mentors are all good for this. Allow yourself to grieve, take as long of a pause as you need, then respond.
And if you need a guide, call me!
photo credit: ISS Expedition 12 Crew, NASA (the photo is of a space suit, filled with old clothes. This image was created in 2006)
"Leap and the net will appear."
This quote by Julia Cameron is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my own self imposed limitations, and what I have to do to remove those limitations.
You may identify with experiencing road blocks of prevention on your journey. Perhaps it may seem as if everywhere you turn the answer is no. Or perhaps it may seem like you just can't get a break. Or maybe, just maybe, an opportunity for change is being presented to you and you don't want to take it because, well, no one likes change, right?
But I look at these times as times when the net has appeared. I am being told to leap, to think outside the box, to be and then do something different.
If I am getting a no answer everywhere I turn, then I am asking the wrong questions. If I'm not getting a break, I may need to look at my right to be a victim. Harsh words, I know, but when coupled with compassion, they are also very freeing. And if an opportunity for change is presented, this is the time when I can take a step back and ask why this opportunity has been presented? Is it really time for a change? And if so, what will the change look like?
The net comes from my own inner work, specifically that inner work that connects me to a god of my understanding and inner work that allows me to truly know myself. When I do this inner work, I can trust those calls to change, because I know that on the other side of uncertainty is the wide open vastness of life, catching me in all its beauty.
When I first saw the photo which accompanies this post, I thought "how wonderful that humankind can now do those kinds of things." Yes, I tend to be a bit naive and trusting at times. When I read the caption and realized it was a stuffed space suite which burned in the earth's atmosphere, I knew it would be a perfect illustration for this post. We should never leap without a net. Yes, it will appear, but only when we do the inner work. There is a power and a force for good that is activated when we do the inner work. That power and force for good is the net. Activate it now, and then take your leap. And let me know where you land!
One of the most powerful spiritual practices I know is introspection. Going within, paying attention to what I am feeling, to the trend of my thoughts, even to my physical sensations, and especially to that still small voice, allows me to know.
Being still, and knowing, then allows me to make decisions I can trust, and take actions that serve my highest good.
Without this practice, I would be lost. Done alone, this practice is invaluable. Done in conjunction with meditation, it packs a power punch that has served me very well for a long time.
Like 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you don't feel as if you have choices in life, get some help.
- 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!