Tag Archives: life lessons

Meanies and How They Ruin a Perfectly Good Day

Congratulations, person who wanted to be mean and hurt my feelings.

You were successful.

Big_Fat_Meanie

Your comment about me to my boss not only hurt my feelings, but made me question myself.  And made me cry.  Not the Ugly Cry but tears, nonetheless.

You took a day that was going better than average and turned it on its ear.

I’ve been doing what I do for a really long time.  To say that I’m comfortable in my abilities and social skills, would be an understatement.  But when I receive out of the blue comments about my less than great attitude or my unwillingness to be helpful, it throws me off my game for a bit.  To my benefit (and the benefit of those around me), my age and the spiritual work I’ve done allows me to bounce back pretty quickly.

There is a musing I heard quoted (I don’t have the original quote) about if you are going to suffer, then SUFFER.  The inference is that you need to really feel the hurt and the pain and move on.  Don’t dip your toes in the suffering pool a little bit at a time and prolong the agony.  Jump in, feel the feelings and get the heck out!

We’ve all heard the Buddhist proverb “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  I think we’ve even used it several times in this blog.  Living life hurts, but you don’t have to suffer the hurts longer than you want to.

From BUDDHIST SANGHA OF SOUTH JERSEY

First Noble Truth – Right Understanding

The Path begins with the Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths:

· There is suffering in life.

· Suffering comes from ignorance which leads to craving, grasping and clinging.

· We can become free from suffering and achieve happiness.

· The way to become free from suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path

I like the first point a lot.  Because as much as I would like to claim that I am above choosing to suffer the pains in my life, I’m not.  Sometimes I sit back and lick those wounds over and over.  Was there something I could have done differently, better, that would have let me escape the sting?  The first point clearly states — there is suffering in life.  It happens.  Denying the suffering doesn’t help anyone.

Point 2 – suffering comes from ignorance which leads to craving, grasping and clinging.  Oh!  Sound familiar?  If I’m suffering from words spoken, then I’m the only one suffering.  The person who spoke them has moved on.  They are not suffering.  I’m in ignorance of the motives and standing in conscious ignorance to my own higher beliefs.   I’m left craving answers, grasping at the what-if’s and clinging to my injured ego.

Wounded people, wound others.  Angry people share anger.  Misery loves company.  For some reason, humans try to hurt each other but it is my REACTION to the pain which creates my suffering, not the event itself.  When I rise above my emotions and clearly see the other person in this situation,  I can see that they are unhappy in their world and desperately trying to defend their actions by putting the blame on someone else.  I’m not discounting their comment– maybe I was snippy to them once — but why wait YEARS to provide this feedback?  If you want to be helpful in providing feedback, it should be timely and clear.  By waiting so long, they are now evidence gathering as to why they are “right” in making the decisions that they are making.

Point 3 – we can become free from suffering and achieve happiness.  I could choose to carry the hurt for the rest of the day, week or month.  There is a high likelihood that I will see this person again.  How long do I feel justified in carrying my hurt?  I could be cold in our next encounter — but doesn’t that just confirm their opinion of me?  They will probably have forgotten their words and only  remember the feelings.  My being hurt and miffed in their presence isn’t going to clear up the situation one bit.

John & I were just talking about the analogy of suffering being like someone throwing garbage in your car and you refusing to clean it out.  You drive around with this smelly, awful mess — suffering the whole way — and they don’t even remember throwing trash in there.  I choose to release the suffering and thereby free my energies up to be happy.  Ultimately, this person has nothing to do with my everyday life and I should not make their opinion so important that it colors my world into gray.

Point 4 – I know nothing of the Noble Eightfold Path but I do know that choosing not to suffer and learning the skills to live in a non-suffering way is a journey!  You pick up one skill at a time and practice that until it feels less hard and then you are ready for another one.  Each time you practice a higher thought process you learn something about yourself and the process.  And you trust the process a bit more.  Berating yourself for not handling the process better does not help.  You must accept that you chose only to suffer a day this time and that is better than the three days you suffered last time.

So, in the midst of my suffering, while I was wiping away the tears of hurt, indignation and pride, I remembered to breathe.  I say that a lot — breathe, breathe.

The very act of taking a conscious deep breath connects my mind and body.  By taking another one, I feel my body settle into that place I know is safe and firm.  The anxiety leaves me and my feet start to feel very planted in Spirit/God.  Another breath, and I feel connected to my higher self.  From this higher place, in the calm state that simply breathing deeply has provided, I am able to see/claim that this hurt is not mine to carry.  I am able to have perspective and even understanding.  I feel the suffering slipping away as quickly as it came to me.

My father says “forgive but never forget!”  I always laugh at him when he says this because I couldn’t possibly carry around all the perceived slights in my lifetime — nor do I want to.  But there is some truth here.  It is our work to discern what comments/feedback are said to help us wake up and realize that we’re not showing up as we want to, versus the ones that are just thrown out there to wound.  Besides, forgiving is a much harder requirement.  Forgiving means no chip on your shoulder, no what ifs, no plans for future action.  Forgiveness is that I understand that you are human making your way on your path and our paths intersected and that I’m not going to knock you down just because I can.

Meanies are just part of this earthly experience.   Take a moment to recognize that the experience of a meanie hurt — temporarily.  You don’t need to suffer it over and over and over again.  Move on.  Claim the higher perspective.  Wipe away your tears and breathe.  Claim the joy in a good day.  Because they all are good days, even if there are meanies in them.

Why Are We Here?

Starting off with an easy question today………

Hands touching a globe

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is?  Why are you here?  Why did you have to experience that awful time in your life?

Sometimes the answers to really big questions fall in your lap and you have a moment of clarity so strong that it takes your breath away.

It happened to me today.

A number of years ago, I was in a really hard part of my life.  Broken first marriage, beginnings of a new relationship, a shattered child who took on many other issues, a full time job with heavy responsibilities and a household to keep up with.  There were days when it took all of my strength just to put one foot in front of the other — and it never seemed like I was in balance or had it all together or even was close to enjoying it.  I don’t actually remember asking “why me” but I’m not saying it didn’t cross my mind.

It was SUCH a hard time.  There weren’t any instruction books — just lots and lots of opinions freely offered, of course, by well intentioned people in my life.  I made decisions that others didn’t like and that I wasn’t 100% sure of, but I made them because I was following that voice of internal guidance that I kept praying for.  I listened to all the advice and took away bits and pieces, followed threads that lead to new schools, new ways, new thoughts, and new practices.  We did more than survive those years, all of us have grown and now thrive in our lives.

So WHY did it have to be so hard?

Today, I was talking with someone who I’ve known casually for 17 years.  We connect because of our sons.  While he is experiencing different issues with different players, the emotional toll it is taking on him feels incredibly familiar to me.  I see the sadness in his eyes.  I feel the heaviness in his parental heart as he has to make really hard decisions about his son’s future.  I hear the words he’s using to distance himself from those hurtful opinions of others.  I know his internal battle well.

And then clarity hit.

With one breath in, my world came into focus so clearly that I thought he could hear the snap.  My back straightened, my heart oozed support, and I heard myself calling him out of his darkness.  I heard my voice telling him that he must take care of himself so that he can care for others.  I felt the power within me, borne of the fire of trials, surge towards him.  You are not in this world alone.  I hear you.  I see you.  I give you my strength and my knowledge and my understanding.

Why are we here?

We are here to claim what has happened to us and to turn it into reasons to understand another.

We are here to listen and really hear.

We are here to lift up, encourage and shine as examples of triumph.

We are here to connect, heart to heart.

Do that.

Be that person.

Shine a light in someone else’s darkness.  Lift your light high enough that it shines upon another’s path and makes their next step more visible.

You have everything within you right here and right now.

 

Struggling

I want you to know that everyone struggles with something in their life.  Everyone, no matter how serene their outside facade, has inner demons and struggles.

I am reminded of that anytime a couple who I thought had it all splits up.  Or when some gorgeous, young, vibrant person takes their own life.  Or when a family is shattered by unseen forces.

I think one of the hardest things in this life is the inner voice that is so hard on us.  It knows the secret thoughts of doubt, anger, self recrimination, unworthiness, and the times when you know you didn’t live up to who you want to be.  That voice’s world is dark and cold.  And it usually surfaces when we’re tired and stretched leaving us more vulnerable to accepting that voice as the voice of truth.

I find myself working through some deep thoughts in the middle of the night.  It may seem like the best time, the outside world is quiet, there are no distractions, but it’s actually when my defenses are down and that negative voice seems its loudest.  I know I’ve hit the wall of Out of Control when I worry about when the last time the kitchen floor was mopped.  But I don’t always hit that well recognized wall.  Most of the time, I stop short and just wallow at the base of the wall, unable to sleep and unable to work through the issue with my sleep deprived reasoning skills.

In the morning light, my fears and worries are put back into perspective.  They shrink back and are replaced with my life’s missions and obligations and by the affirmations of those around me who find me valuable and worthy.  Yes, there are days when the shadows sneak in but in the daylight, those shadows are not overwhelming.

So, what do you do when the shadows seem to be overtaking you?

My simple answer is pray.  Pray to your Higher Power, God, Allah, Jesus, Messiah, All That Is, and surrender the fear and the doubts and the worries that are swirling around.  Imagine gathering all the darkness and putting it in a basket or a box and handing it over to the Great Light of the Universe.  Imagine this basket/box being lifted from your hands and feel the weight of it being removed from your being.  Feel your fingers releasing the basket/box.  Let it go.  Don’t reach for it again.

Feel that sense that you are safe and that your biggest worries are being handled by someone who has more knowledge than you do.  It’s safe here.  You are safe.

Close your eyes and imagine a great sunrise on all those shadow thoughts.  Blasted in the light of knowingness and centeredness, they are gone.  Shadow thoughts cannot stand in the light.

You have the power within you to raise the light of your being any time of day.  As I sit here at 3:32 AM, I know that my light and my God rise inside of me and banish all those shadows thoughts.  I am an expression of God, full of worthiness, confidence, wisdom, power, zeal.  There is no situation here that can overtake the light of who I am.

Grounded in this wisdom, I sleep.

How Meditation Can Affect Alpha Rhythms in the Brain – Re-post

 

This is a re-post from an email sent to me from Luminosity.com by Pam Zhang.

http://www.lumosity.com/blog/meditation/

 

How Meditation Can Affect Alpha Rhythms in the Brain
Meditation might act as a “volume knob” forselective attention, leading to better control over pain and negative emotions. A recently published Brown University study on mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown that attentional training holds promise for improving everyday functions.
What is MBSR?
Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Sc hool, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has grown to become part of many healthcare plans in the last 20 years.It consists of an 8-week program that trains patients to focus a “spotlight of attention”on different parts of their body, and eventually to develop the same awareness of their mental states.

How MBSR affects alpha rhythms
There is strong evidence that the MBSR techniques of increasing attentional control have measurable effects on alpha wave behavior in patients’ brains. Alpha rhythms are a key part of the sensory system: they’re related to how the brain processes and filters irrelevant sensory inputs.Filtering inputs is a crucial part of higher order cognitive process such as selective attentionand working memory. Both of these processes are based on a person’s attention to focus on relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information. Without proper filtering, your ability to carry out even the most basic cognitive operations can be crippled.

Imagine the simple task of backing your car out of the driveway. In order to reach the street safely, you must hold your destination in mind while steering t he car and ignoring distractions from every modality: the news on the radio, children playing at the end of the block, an itch on your foot, the glare of the sun in your eyes. Most of us do this filtering subconsciously—but if you let such irrelevant stimuli distract you, even such a daily task can become a difficult ordeal.

That’s why MBSR’s value extends even beyond its ability to improve attention during regular tasks: one of its primary clinical uses is in the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain, who struggle with ignoring irrelevant pain stimuli on a daily basis. In fact, MBSR has been shown to have positive emotional benefits in those suffering from chronic pain and depression.

Brain scan evidence of MBSR
In this 2013 Brown University study, researchers divided participants into two different groups: a test group that underwent MBSR training for 8 weeks, and a control group that did not. After 8 weeks, both groups were analyzed using a brain imaging technique known asmagnetoencephalography (MEG).Participants in the brain scan were told to direct attention to or away from their left index fingers. The MBSR group’s neuronal response was significantly faster than the control groups, as measured by concentration of alpha power.

 

Growing up.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
― Anne Frank

Our son came home this last weekend.  He hasn’t been home in 6 months and for 5 months before that.  It was incredibly normal to have him home, as if, he’d never really left.  I tried to remind myself that this is not the new normal around here, this is special time, to be spent together and enjoyed and cherished.

He’s turning into a grown up.

There were days, years even, when I didn’t know if that would happen.  I’d like to take credit for it but I can’t.  I’ve guided and yelled and listened and pushed with all my might.  It took him choosing to want to make his life better.  And now I see him making decisions based on how much sleep he can get and how much money it costs.  And I’m in awe of the fact that I don’t have to reason with him about it.

About a month and a half ago, I decided that I was really ready to change my ways.  I’m the clutterer in my house.  I come home, drop my purse, my keys, my sunglasses, the mail, etc, wherever there is a spot for them.  About a month and a half ago, I thought, geez, really?  When are you going to grow up and realize that it takes more energy and more time to clean up after yourself than to just deal with it right away.  So I cleaned out a basket and now I have a place to put the OPENED bills and stuff I need to deal with.  I sort the mail right when I bring it in — open every envelope, put the important stuff in my basket or file it, throw out the envelopes that won’t go in the compost, and put the rest of the junk mail or stuff to be shredded in the shred bucket.  Amazing what this one thing has done in my life.

You can see the top of my kitchen table.  There’s not one pile on it.  And there hasn’t been one for a couple of weeks now.

This urge to just deal with stuff has spread to the laundry.  You see, I don’t mind sorting it or washing it or even folding it out of the dryer, but I really don’t like putting it away.

Other than the load that is in the washer right now — my clothes are all hung up and put away.

I even double vacuumed yesterday AND mopped the floor.

(I may need to be checked out by a doctor because this is just not my usual self.)

Guess what.  I’m growing up.

Most of the time, I’m a take it on, put it behind you kind of person.  I always put my lack of enthusiasm for housework under the “I don’t have time to care” column.  With my son officially on the grown up side of life, I’m ready to finally care.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be the A1 housekeeper but I’m okay with that.

Growing up is all about claiming the power to change your mind, your circumstances and your life.  Kids can’t wait to be a grown up because they see how much power grown ups wield.  Grown ups wish they hadn’t grown up so fast because the “power” they thought they’d get, just isn’t what they thought it would be.

But the truth is we do have the power to create happiness and peacefulness and harmony and everything we’ve ever wanted.  We have the power to make someone else feel special, to make ourselves feel special, and to choose a different way in our lives.

It’s time to grow up.  It’s time to choose a better way.  It’s time to do that which you have been putting off, delaying action or just flat out avoiding.

Becoming a grown up is hard to do.  It feels hard to choose a different way.  But it also feels amazing when you know you pushed through some difficulty or some obstacle or some habit you’ve created.  The rewards for growing up far outweigh any pain or angst.  You feel empowered, bold and incredibly encouraged.

Do you have a dream?  What is keeping you from achieving it?  Money, time, circumstances?  What was the last step you took towards that dream?  It’s time to get moving.  Every step you take toward that dream gets you that much closer.  And with every step, you’ll find the enthusiasm and the motivation to take another.  Don’t worry about the side trips.  They are part of the journey to your dream.  Just keep faithfully and diligently taking those steps.

So be encouraged!  Be empowered!  Be a grown up in your life.  Take responsibility, take action, move your feet.  Who you become is in your hands now.

As Glinda, The Good Witch, says in the Wizard of Oz:

“You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power….”

dale and me – Melissa

 

Who else wants God to stop testing them? – A Path to Peace.

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The good news is that the Divine One does not test us – at least that’s my take. Allow me to explain.

God is Love. Love has no need to test — it believes in you completely. God does not lead anyone into temptation, into failure nor into something you are not prepared to handle.

Our master teacher Jesus tells us that God does not judge.

We are all equal in the eyes of the divine. There are no favorites.

God granted us free will. Not kinda-free will, not sorta-free will, not partial-or-when-I-feel-like-it-free will. To say that God has put us in a situation goes against what I understand the Christian Scriptures tell us. Feel free to comment on this or any part of this post below if you have a different interpretation or understanding you would like to share.

The only one testing you is… well, you. Testing is a human concept for the demonstration of understanding. If you believe that the Divine is capable of knowing what is in your heart, then would any test be unnecessary to satisfy God? The actions of Jesus do not appear to support the idea that God tests us. His example appears to be to the opposite. When one or more of the disciples were unsteady in principles, his comments were more around: “Have you no faith?”, “Where is your faith?” The tests were always about them and by them. It was seemingly about their perception of the events combined with their personal faith. Did Jesus say, “this is The Father’s test for you”

We come into alignment with new Truths when we are ready, and if it feels to you like a test, it could be that you are still in a stage where conscious effort is required to apply the new understandings. If it’s not second nature to you yet, don’t sweat it. Be grateful for the opportunity to practice and move through it with grace using the fullest expression of the Truth that you can at that moment.

We may think of it as a test merely because the new awakening or the condition is something that is freshly in our awareness. The opportunities have been there all along, we are just now awake enough to see them. We might think of it as a test because we lack faith in our own understandings. If we doubt ourselves, there is room for some false perception of failure. With the idea of failure in our consciousness, we may unconsciously go looking for opportunities to practice our new understandings. Perhaps ego may be at the heart of this — putting us into situations where we can fail in our growth so ego can survive.

We live truths to the extent of our willingness to do so. Sometimes, for whatever reasoning, we are not willing to step fully into a principle. So we step into a situation where that Truth is to be expressed, we embrace it halfheartedly and the outcome isn’t as wonderful as we would like. Much like when we were a child and were asked to clean our bedrooms. If you weren’t into doing it, and how many of us really had a ‘passion’ for cleaning our rooms, the end result my have been “okay” on the surface but we knew in our hearts we could have done more. We just wanted to get on with it and get back to play time.

To my way of thinking, “test” is merely a label we apply to events in our lives where we feel unsteady. Events where we have a chance to practice understandings that we feel are not our strongest. Have you noticed, when applying a principle becomes second nature, you gradually stop calling it a test? What changed? Well you did, at the very least, your point of view changed. You decided to stop applying the label. If we get to make the call on when it stops being a test, then is it really God submitting the test?

 

So here is your take away:

We here at Empower-Yourself.com always honor your perceptions on your path. It is YOUR path and you are your own best guide and you certainly get to chose how to walk it. Regardless of your views on life’s “tests”, the ideas below may assist you in bringing personal empowerment and peace into your life.

To live more fully empowered: Stop labeling events as a test. If you are seeing it as a test and have the mindset of “this is for a grade, I better do good”, then you are coming from a place un-empowered – perhaps even a place of fear. If you “do the right thing” because you have chosen to, now you are living empowered. I suspect we all understand how much we prefer to do what we want to do over what we have to do. Feel the difference? Coming from the empowering space makes room for joy, passion and a life of happiness in everything you are doing.

To live more fully in peace: release the idea that events are some test that was manufactured for you and see it for what it is. Just another event in the continuous, unbroken and overlapping string of events we call life. Work through it with the integrity you have and all the Love you can, and you will come through the other side with the highest and best outcome possible to you at that moment.

6 Incredibly Useful Ways to Stop Making Mountains out of Molehills

Dartmoor Diary St Olaves D200 Apr 2013 099Over inflating our responses can become such a distraction, we fail to see the truth of the situation.  When we step away and allow ourselves to see conditions from heightened clarity, we are in a much better place to make good decisions from an empowered space. Here are six useful ways to stop making mountains out of those molehills.

1) It’s only big if you make it big, so stop making it bigger than it really is: One man’s hill-side is another man’s mountain-side. The difference is perception. If one had only lived on flat ground, then a 300 ft. high hill might appear mountainous. On the other hand, growing up in the Andes on a 14,00o ft. peak, a man might think of a 5,000 ft. peak as a simple hill. In neither case did the size of the hill change, only the perception of it’s size, and perception is a creation of the human imagination. Change the way you think and you change size of the obstacle. Even the largest mountain is traversed one step at a time.

2) Stop stacking it on: When we see a small obstacle as a large one, we sometimes begin piling new obstacles right on top that give us “excuses” for not moving forward.

  • Fear leads to inaction
  • Lazyness leads to inaction
  • We gather evidence that “excuses us from action”
  • Guilt develops for not dealing with it right away
  • Frustration as deadlines loom
  • More Guilt – for lack of action
  • More Fear – now that it’s bigger
  • More Frustration – “Now how will I EVER deal with this?”

3) Commit to stop seeing obstacles as problems and begin viewing them as “projects”: Any obstacle can be overcome when steps are taken — just like it takes a series of steps required to complete a project. When we label something as a ” problem” we put an imaginary burdening weight on it that can freeze us in our tracks like a deer in the headlights. Start viewing it as a project and the freezing oppression is allowed to fall away. Then our thoughts and efforts are available for motion.

4) Take action in a constructive direction – any action. Just MOVE: Don’t wait for the perfect plan to fall into place. If there was such a thing as a perfect plan, it wouldn’t stay perfect for long anyhow. As we move through the “plan” unforeseen changes are going to arise and alter our course. Knowing this allows us to expect change and this tells us we must remain flexible. And knowing we must be flexible allows space for us to stay out of panic when changes arise. Anticipate change and you have nothing to fear. So stop nit picking a plan and just move! As long as you have forward motion, it will work it’s way out however it needs to regardless of any “planning” you might do. Cease motion however, and the molehill will continue to expand.

5) Stop the whining. Complaining serves only to tell yourself and those around you that you are too weak to change the situation. After all, if you actually had the power to change things, wouldn’t you be putting your efforts into actually changing it? Complaining does nothing but deepen your conviction that something is not going your way and you are powerless to effect change. You DO have the power to change, so empower yourself! Stop complaining and put your mental and physical resources towards a constructive outcome. Constructive behavior leads to smaller hills. Destructive behavior just makes bigger mountains that YOU eventually get to traverse.

6) Multitasking is a myth. We can only focus on one thing at a time. “Multi-tasking” or what I am coining in this very post as: Scatter-Braining™ is merely shifting focus from one task to another and back again – never really putting your best efforts into either one. It’s like trying to run up two hills at the same time, only you have to run back and forth between them to make progress. Just wasted effort. Pick the hill that requires your attention and focus focus focus. When your mind gets going, the mental momentum will build and tasks will get accomplished faster with greater efficacy. Keep flinging your focus around like a sloppy mop and if things do get accomplished, you may find that the efforts don’t meet expectation and you have to revisit them to clean up the spatter. This just means more work and that equals a bigger hill.

Be-Do-Have Part 3 (aka, how not to get stuck in your stuff)

So you want to change the way you are, the way you think, the way you show up in life…..  Congratulations!!!  Now the real work starts…..

We talked in Part 2 (be do, be do) about how “challenges” arise when you try to make a change.  Unfortunately, many times we label these as “tests” from some higher power to our will power.  I know I am guilty of claiming that the Universe is really testing me today!  Really?  Do I not believe the Universe has bigger things to accomplish today than to “test” me?

I told you about our going off of sugar and how everywhere we looked, there were ads, promotions and flat out temptations.  But they were there before we changed our eating habits.  The stores and the manufacturers didn’t put them up overnight just to trip us up.  It was us that changed.  Our awareness became acute, and sometimes painful, as we navigated onto the new way of being.

Because this is a making a change in your spiritual outlook, it’s less tangible and seemingly “harder” to keep on track.  What can you do to keep from getting stuck or staying stuck in your own story/excuses/drama?  Such a good question!

Let’s take the intention that you are going to be a kinder person to everyone, and that really means E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E, not just the people you like or get along with.  You can just about guarantee that within the first week, you’re going to get cut-off in traffic, someone is going to make several outrageous demands of your time, someone is not going to understand your side, you’re going to be pushed for time, and you’re going to have to do something you don’t want to do.

Will these things happen to you because you are trying to be kinder?  Nope, the examples happen ALL THE TIME, probably multiple times a week.  So, the fact that you’re changing your mindset didn’t bring more situations to you, it just opened up your awareness to these opportunities to be a better person.

Someone cuts you off in traffic — again.  What’s your first reaction?  Okay, probably not something we can print here.  Is there something else you could do?  I realize that non-reaction would be the best but let’s pretend that we’re not all to that place yet, shall we?  Here’s just one suggestion:  Take a deep breath, hold up your hand – palm to the person who just cut you off, and say “I bless you on your journey.”

The first time I tried this, I negated my blessing with an eye roll.  It’s a process, I tell you!  Not going to tell you that I’m a first class practitioner but I’m much better than I was!  And it relieves my stress to realize that something is going on in their life that is creating an urgency that I don’t want to carry for them.  If I don’t need to add to their burden, then that’s better for them AND for me!  I don’t need their anger, fear, stress.  I have plenty to deal with myself, thank you very much.

Outrageous demand of your time?  I am constantly amazed that when I feel that I don’t have the time to do one more thing, several more, unrelenting things are dumped on me (things that only I can do) — just to prove that not only was there time for the original list, but time to take care of the additional list.  I’m learning to not say “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” for there is plenty of time to do all that is mine to do.  The first thing to do is to realize that either this is really yours to do or it’s not.  If it’s not yours to do, take a deep breath and firmly relay that belief to the person asking/demanding.  If it is yours to do, freaking out is not going to help anyone.  Take a deep breath, and another one, and realize that  you can do whatever is necessary.  Sometimes when things fall off of our proverbial plate, it helps us realize that maybe it wasn’t as important as we thought it was.

Have you seen a pattern starting to emerge?  That “taking a deep breath” is what is known as a pattern interrupt.  Pattern interrupt is exactly as it sounds, something that helps you break a pattern or habit in your life.  They are as easy as taking a deep breath or as complicated as repeating a mantra (which isn’t very complicated) or moving a plastic bracelet from one wrist to another.

Will Bowen wrote a book A Complaint Free World .  The goal is to go 30 days without complaining and when you catch yourself complaining, you move a purple plastic bracelet from one wrist to the other.  That process raises your awareness of how often you complain or gossip.  One of the points in the book is that our mouths are the buyers of what our brains are manufacturing.  When the mouth stops buying what the brain is manufacturing, the brain will stop manufacturing crap.  It is a fabulous process to work through!  And it’s more difficult than you think.  Most of us complain without conscious thought and gossiping is just out of control.

So, the first step to changing your ways is to be aware of what you are doing and saying.  The second step is to have a check-in with yourself — is this how I want to show up in this situation?  The potential third step (if the answer to the second step is “no”) is a pattern interrupt.  Here are a few examples:

– Deep breath (or three)

– Say  “Cancel-Clear” (I cancel those words and clear my intention)

– Move a bracelet or rubber band from wrist to wrist (I don’t recommend snapping the rubber band)

– Hand to heart, deep breath, connect with breath and heartbeat

– Say “I choose Love in this situation”

– Close your eyes for a moment and imagine water washing away the stress, the disappointments, the worries

Once you’ve interrupted your patterned response, you have a “do-over” to choose a better/higher way.  This isn’t about how the other person will respond, because you can’t control them, this is only about your response.  I tell you from personal experiences — when you change your reactions, people around you seem to change.  Crazy, I know.  When you break bad communication styles and poor-me routines, not only do you feel better, more grounded and centered, but you start creating better relationships and boundaries.

I hope this gives you a few tools to help you on your journey.  Remember, the more you practice your higher way of thinking, the easier it gets — but there may be days when you want to chuck it all in.  That’s okay….. take a deep breath, now another one…… and one more……….  try again.

Be-Do-Have Part 2 (be do, be do)

Okay, so we chatted about how you have to BE something before you can HAVE it.  We received a response requesting some ideas as to how to handle the challenges.  I’m going to go there in a future post but for now, let’s really dissect the trouble, okay?

Sometimes, I think, we make spiritual stuff harder than it needs to be and we get frustrated with it because there’s not an end point we can shoot for.  (Okay, full enlightenment is great, but I would be happy with making it through the day without thinking bad thoughts about someone else.)  It’s really easy to think “my goal is to be nice to everybody, all the time” than it is to live it.  And when it gets too hard or too frustrating to try and think in an enlightened way, we use the guilt and shame as whips against our souls.  Then we affirm that OBVIOUSLY we’re not worthy of the good in our lives, so why try.  Okay, I shortened the process here for the sake of space, but I think you get the gist.

I’m going to liken spiritual learning with something that most of us know a lot about — changing our diet and/or eating habits.pea on fork

When you first decided that you were going to “change your ways” as far as the food you put in your body, do you remember how you felt?  Excited, ready to learn, eager to seek support and more information, and maybe a little apprehensive.  There was so much to read and learn and think about that thinking about food/snacks/can have’s/can’t have’s became all consuming.  It’s all you thought about and all you talked about.  If you’re not eating, you’re thinking about the what and the when of your next snack.

I remember when John and I went off of sugar.  The first days were terrible!  My head hurt, my body hurt and I was just generally cranky.  Going out of the house was a true test.  I remember clearly standing in line at the grocery store shocked by all the walls and shelves lined with brightly colored ads for sugary items.  So, did the grocery chain find out that John and I were off of sugar and put all of those items in front of us to tempt us or to trip us up? (John says, yes, they did.)  No!  Those things were already there.  I just had not ever noticed them to that degree before.

So, let’s go through my analogy a bit more:

My head hurting — Total entrainment with my previous thought pattern.  My human mind was trying to help me to see the error of my ways and convince me that I would feel better if I’d just give up these highfalutin ideas.  Eating had come easy all of the previous years of my life, why give that ease up now?  This new path is hard and I’m tired.

My body hurting — If the mind can’t get you back, the pressure of the many will!  I’m going to equate my body to the tribal teachings (societal agreements) that we’ve all bought into as truth.  My body didn’t agree with the mind’s choices and was willing to take some low blows to make me come back into the pack.  That’s how tribal teachings work — you go against the flow and you pay the price.

And the crankiness, oh, let’s not forget the crankiness —  It’s HARD changing your ways.  It’s hard going against everything you understand.  It’s hard and everyone should understand how hard it is!!!  It’s time consuming and frustrating and …. oh you get the picture.

Now, here’s the part that gives you hope.  While the first few days were horrible, the horribleness didn’t last.  Eventually, the steps became easier to follow and we weren’t fighting against this new way of being.

Here’s where you ask yourself if we’re still off of sugar……….  I’d like to say yes, but I’d be lying.  However, we did learn a lot about ourselves and what to eat and what not to eat during that stint.  Some of the habits we have today stem directly from that particular diet.  So, did we “fail” in our attempt to enlighten ourselves?

I say, no.  Enlightenment can come to some in an instant (or so I’ve read) but I believe it’s more of a journey.  Are we eating better because we went through this diet process?  Yes.  Did we learn a few things that we’ll always remember?  You betcha!  For us, the learning is cumulative.  Each time we change our eating habits, more ideas make sense and are easier to follow.  Spiritual learning is the same way.

The more you study, the more willing you are to look at, practice and TRY to learn a better way, then more sticks with you and makes more sense to you.  One point from a book connects with a talk from a spiritual leader connects with something you hear from an unlikely source.  It starts settling into your understanding and you find that you’re not fighting against this new thought process as much.

So, understand that the challenges don’t come up because there’s a “test” or a lesson from the Universe.  The things we label as challenges were already there — we were either blind to them or we stepped into them without notice.  By deciding that you are going to think in another way and act in a higher way only sheds light on the things in your life that no longer fit in your new mindset.  They must be dealt with and released before the “new” way of thinking becomes easier.

In the meantime, enjoy learning something new, stay in the excitement of possibilities and let go of the apprehension.

Make sense?  Okay, next time — how not to get stuck in your stuff……..

Be-Do-Have vs. Have-Do-Be

Music BasicsBe-Do-Have.  Many have heard this phrase but too often I hear myself, as well as those around me, working on the Have-Do-Be principle.

When I finally HAVE __________ (enough money, enough time, enough energy, a better relationship, a lover, the perfect house, the perfect body) then I will DO ___________ (work out more, work on whatever needs to be corrected, read more, sleep more, clean more, worry less, eat better, love more often, judge less) and I will BE __________(happy, secure, free, peace-filled, loving, healthy, the person I know I should be).

Sound familiar?

This is a trap.  A very familiar, well worn, trap.  You’re never going to HAVE it all.  There’s always going to be something better, greener, thinner, prettier, calmer, and bigger that you’re going to want.  This is the way of the human mind.  And I want to tell you that it has served you and all of humanity well, thus far.  After all, we don’t still live in caves and depend on our hunting and gathering skills to survive, do we?

This longing is why we as a human race have survived and thrived (for the most part) on this planet.

But we are not just substance on this land of substance trying to rise above the next substance.  We are spiritual beings exploring this human experience.  While HAVING has served our human side well, it doesn’t always serve our spiritual side as well.

You must BE what you want to be.  You must BE loving in order to DO loving things in order for you to HAVE love in your world.  You must BE peaceful in order to DO peace-filled actions so that you can HAVE peace in your life.  You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are!  You can’t fake out the Universe.

Yes, we’ve all seen those people who have money and success and they are just horrible people.  Seems unfair, doesn’t it?  But they obviously are not happy.  They need more and more and more to try to fill the void of who they are not.  They are driven by the HAVE-DO-BE and there’s not enough in this world to have before they can be.  So, they collect and conquer and collect some more.  It’s a trap.

You’ve heard the phrase:  Happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you have.  (I wish I could find who said that but a lot of people are claiming it and I’m not going to try to figure out who coined it.)  You must choose happiness right now in order to be happy.  You must choose to love no matter what.  (Of course, healthy boundaries should not be forsaken for loving unconditionally.  Different topic.)

When you choose what you are going to be, you will be challenged in that decision.  If you choose to be patience, you will have lots of opportunities to practice patience.  If you choose to be love, you will have lots of opportunities to demonstrate your choice to those who you may not want to love.

I believe part of this challenge is that we have awakened our awareness in this area.  These same challenges have presented themselves many times before but now we’re trying to react in a different manner.  Just like any other new habit you are trying to form, it feels hard to accomplish.  It feels like everything is difficult and that people are coming out of the woodwork just to trip you up!  Do your best.  And realize that when you don’t act the way you wanted to, that at least you were aware that there is a better way available to you.

What qualities of other people do you appreciate?  Those same qualities reside in you.  Claim those.  Breathe those.  Realize that you have a choice to make.  Today, choose to awaken to who you want to be and then put feet to that awareness and BE that.  You will be amazed at what comes your way when first you choose to be your spiritual self!