Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Adventure of Making Yourself Yours

"You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours." Anne-Wilson Schaef

     How do we claim the events of our life? We start by learning to own who we have been and what we have done. It's easy to bury and forget the aspects of life that have been painful. When, as children, we are ridiculed, forgotten and/or pushed aside, criticized, disrespected, and abused or bullied, we learn to function in life by burying the sorrow and creating a false self. We disassociate from self in order to survive.

     If we want to own our self, we must be willing to open the doors to the hidden sorrow. This is not an easy task, but it is an adventure well worth taking, because the result of re-connecting with self is authenticity. When we're authentic, we belong to our self.

     What's the difference between belonging to self and belonging to others? When we belong to others, we're likely to live our life being who others think we should be, and doing what they think we should do. We give up our ability to follow our heart and march to the drumbeat that we hear, which is uniquely ours.

     Today is a good day to claim yourself. Are you ready to do this, to see who you are and to walk a path of authenticity?  This is not a onetime exercise. Getting to our core is like digging for buried treasure. We dig down one layer at a time. We are the excavator, so we have to do the work required.

     Are you ready for the greatest adventure of your life????

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn Leaves

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy the beautiful fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live. There is nothing that stirs such awe and gratitude in me, then seeing the leaves turn color and fall to the ground. Sometimes, the beauty is so overwhelming all I can do is cry.

In October, 2005, while sitting one day watching the leaves fall, I wrote this poem in celebration of nature.

AUTUMN LEAVES
                                                                                                          
Red, orange, gold, and rust leaves
start their journey from high in the trees
to the earth.
They don't all just fall-
some spiral and swirl and dance
as they make their descent.

Twirling orange and red.
Dancing yellow and rust.

They dance alone in their free fall,
each a separate entity,
yet all from the same source.
But, when they land,
they touch each other.
And together transform the brown and green earth
into an artists' pallette,
rich with vibrant color.

The wind blows and they dance some more,
and as they lay down and become still
the earth becomes their canvas.
If I could frame my yard,
I would have a masterpiece.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Human Beings vs. Human Doings

"When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind." Seneca

     We are all born as complete humans with a purpose for being here. As we grow, life begins to chip away at us until we identify more with what we do and have, than who we are. Before we know it, we're wanderers, not knowing for sure why we're here or where we're going. We get up every day, and go through the same routine, without a deep sense of purpose and direction.

     What matters, is going back to who we are, instead of being caught up in what we do. The goal is to develop fully into a human being, not a human doing. We find our purpose and direction by learning to be fully with self, which is accomplished by connecting to our Spirit in silence. When we do this, we soon realize our life is coming into focus.

     Take five minutes today to find a quiet place, take a few deep breaths, and connect with Spirit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Project

I did not realize that it's been almost three weeks since I've blogged on this site. I'm not sure what I've been doing, besides being gone on vacation, that kept me from my blog. Anyway, I'm back. I have decided to change this to a once a week blog, so you should be getting something new every Thursday from blogspot.

I was going to write about deliberation, but after reading the following poem, I decided to share it instead. It touched my heart and made sense to me as it reminded me that all I need to do is be still and be present. I hope you find as much meaning in Nicole's words as I did. 

The Project

You turn every step
Of the Pathway to Enlightment
Into a project
Something to achieve
To Conquer
Or to procrastinate over...
You try to turn
Love Itself
Into an object to obtain,
Grabbing at it,
Missing the whole point.
You have managed to take
Oneness
(Simple enough-there is only ONE)
And twist it into
Twos and Threes and Fours.
It's always about YOU and
Then God I suppose
And everyone else,
The ones on your side
And the ones who are fighting you.
So much work
So much paranoia
So much self-importance.
Now take a deep breath and
Listen:
What if you are seeing this
All wrong?
Maybe
It's just not that complicated.
Maybe there is
Just LOVE-
Love that is in every particle of existence
That IS every particle of existence.
You are made of that love
And if you are
Very quiet
And still
If you stop stirring up the water
Obscuring it with all that swirling sand
You will finally
SEE
And understand.
Oh...
You will say,
I,
The center of my own universe,
Don't even really exist
Not in the way I thought.
Oh God...
There is only
Love.

Written by Nicole Grace, a Buddhist monk and author who teaches Buddhism, mysticism and meditation to students around the world. Excerpted from Truth of Consciousness magazine, August 2011 edition.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Peace of Mind, Part V

"I'm responsible for my life--I'm at source--I'm responsible for my own sense of peace and contentment." The author, Brenda Marroy

This is the last in the five part series on "Peace of Mind."

Suggestion # 5 for finding and maintaining peace of mind is:

Be willing to surrender to what is and go with the flow

     Whatever is happening is just "what is", and it's going to be whatever we say it is. We have choices in how we hold whatever is going on in life at any given moment, and sometimes we can change things, other times we just have to be with whatever is present.

     Being present to what is does not mean pretending there is no suffering, strife, anger, or war, or whatever. What it does mean is accepting whatever is, and calling it by name, as we stay present to how we feel about it. Pretending a snake is not a snake, does not change it into a cute, cuddly bunny. It's still a snake and it needs to be acknowledged for what it is. Maintaining peace of mind in the presence of the snake is not about denial, it's about being fully present to the possible danger of the snake, and doing whatever needs to be done to maintain life and peace.

     Being present, and finding and maintaining peace in the presence of chaos, takes courage. I appreciate The Serenity Prayer because I believe it speaks to the topic of peace,courage, and presence.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, (it's a snake for sure), the courage the change the things I can; (I can get the hell out of here), and the wisdom to know the difference." (I know I need to protect myself from an encounter with this snake.)

     As I write this blog, I'm in the middle of practicing being present to something I cannot change. It's not always easy to accept what is, but it is possible. Maintaining peace in my heart in the midst of insanity is taking all the courage and energy I can muster, as I remind myself to keep breathing and follow my own suggestions for finding and maintaining peace of mind.

     I remind myself that I cannot control the insanity, I see the bigger picture of an unhealed child trapped in an adult body, and I pray for the emotional healing of the child. There is no either/or and I don't have to win anything or any argument. I've already forgiven, the forgetting will be an ongoing process, and I'm surrendering to the hurt in my heart and just being with it.  


Peace to all as you go about your day.  


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peace of Mind, Part IV

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." Mother Teresa

Suggestion # 4 for finding and maintaining peace is:

Be willing to forgive and forget

     To have the courage to forgive someone, and to act on that courage, is transformational to both the forgiver and the forgiven. We are all connected in this universe. We are a part of the whole, so when we forgive others, we reap the benefits also. Holding onto anger and resentment is not healthy, and we cannot have true peace until we're ready to give up the anger.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

     Is it worth giving up my own peace, so I can hold someone hostage to my anger?
     Have a found a way to justify my anger?

     Forgiveness is not about the other person; it's about setting Self free from a cancer that can eat away at our soul. We pay a price for lack of forgiveness because when we harbor resentment, we subconsciously bring the anger and bitterness into all of our relationships. Without realizing it, actions by another can easily become a personal affront to us, and we wind up exploding all over others, who are many times our loved ones. We can get so used to "being mad" and justifying our feelings, that we forget we're carrying that stone around our neck. 

   Forgiveness is a decision to let go of anger and thoughts of resentment. Forgiveness does not excuse the act, nor does it deny the other person's responsibility for hurting us. It's seldom easy to truly forget a wrong against us, but the key to letting it go is to remember the wrong graciously. To hold on to a hurt not only robs of us our peace, but it also creates physical illness.


"Forgiveness is a reflection of loving yourself enough to move on." Steve Maraboli

Click on video to listen.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Peace of Mind, Part IV

"Peace is not something you wish for; it is something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum

Today we will cover suggestion # 3 for finding and maintaining peace.

Be willing to step away from black or white thinking.

      We live in a polarized world where we're taught that everything has an opposite; however, life is not always black or white. Many times, it can be gray.

     Polarization creates opposition and division, and is about extremes, but life is not. We don't have to live in one extreme or the other. We can be in a neutral place and find common ground. This doesn't mean that I give up my belief or you give up yours. What it means is we agree to disagree, with the realization that we could both be right, and therefore, not making the other one wrong.  

     If we are so rigid that we can't bend to see the other side, we may break. When we're stuck in either/or thinking, we can wind up feeling defeated, threatened, or angry, if we don't get our way. When we're neutral we can be unattached to outcomes and can roll with the punches.

     The antidote to polarization, which has the potential to separate us into a right or wrong society, is compromise. A question I've learned to ask myself when faced with a polarizing situation is, "What's more important? That I win and get to be right, or that we agree to disagree and maintain our relationship?" Another good question to ask is, "What is it about me that makes me think I have to be right?" When we have to win at any cost, I think we may be stuck.

     If I choose the relationship, we both win and we do not have to sacrifice our peace in the process.

Peace and Harmony by Full Circle. Click on video to listen.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peace of Mind, Part III

"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm." Unknown

My last blog covered suggestion # 1 for finding and maintaining peace of mind. Today, we'll move on to suggestion # 2 which is:

Be willing to see the bigger picture

     Often, our vision is limited, and what we think we see is not really so. It may be just one side of the picture.

     It's easy to get caught up in a crowd mentality and go along with the group. When everyone is standing against something or someone, it takes courage to hold your peace and not make a judgment before you hear the whole story. Many times the bigger picture shows up as we take time to hear the rest of the story.

     There have been countless times when someone has called to tell me about what someone else said or did to them. Usually the purpose of the call is to tell their side and hopefully to gain an ally. I've learned to stop and ask questions before I get pulled into their storm. Hear all sides of the story and commit to seeing and understanding others's points of view.

     Don't allow yourself to get caught up in someone else's storm and sacrifice your own peaceful center.


                                      Click this link for a moment of peace

Friday, August 19, 2011

Peace of Mind, Part II

"Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances." Mahatma Gandhi

My last blog, Peace of Mind, listed five suggestions for finding and maintaining peace of mind. This blog will focus on suggestion # 1 which is:

Be willing to give up the need to control others' lives.

     Trying to control other's choices is like trying to drive a car without a steering wheel. We have no control over the way someone else's life goes. Each of us is a unique individual, here to walk our own path. Until we live in someone else's skin we have no way of knowing what is best for them, or what direction their life should take.

     The driving force behind our need to control other's lives is a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness, which is fueled by deep fear. It is ludicrous, and dangerous, to put our life's expectations on another human. It's safe to trust Spirit and to trust others to manage their own life. Even if they drive themselves into a ditch, it is still their life and their choice.

     There is a difference between caring for someone, and out of wanting the best for them, to make suggestions that are based on love and concern. Being a mentor and offering our help is not the same as feeling we have to mastermind how their life will turn out. I know it's not always easy to let others manage their own life, especially when we think their train is about to jump the track.

     It takes a lot of energy to hold on to what's not ours. Attempting to control others takes us out of a peaceful place, and many times sets us right in the middle of a battleground. Let it go. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that the only life you are in control of is your own.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Soul Food: Peace of Mind

Soul Food: Peace of Mind: " For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind ." Ralph Waldo Emerson Peace of mind refers to the absence ...

Peace of Mind

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace of mind refers to the absence of mental stress or anxiety; and the presence of serenity, calm, quiet, comfort of mind, and inner peace.

Anger refers to mental stress, and a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.

WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE?

Five suggestions for finding and maintaining peace of mind , all which are based on willingness,  are:

Be willing to:

1. Give up the need to control others' lives.

2. See the bigger picture.

3. Change from black or white thinking and embrace gray or neutral thinking.

4. Forgive and forget

5. Surrender to "what is" and go with the flow.

I'll cover each of these in my next five blogs, so stay tuned please.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Healing the Past

"Healing from our past is an essential aspect of expanding our sense of self and awakening our capacity to love." David Simon

People say, "Forget the past because it's over and done. You can't change it."  And, in one respect this is true. We can't change the past, but we can heal the pain of the past in the present.

I've noticed how my past pain and unhealed sorrow keeps showing up in my present. My choices, thoughts, behavior, relationships, job, and everyday life are affected by what I've not yet healed from my past. So, the pain I experience in my present is a result of what I'm still holding onto from the past.

Example: Even though I've done a lot of healing around my abandonment issues, I still have a tendency to hold on tight to people and attempt to control their life. Ensconced within my fear of abandonment is a belief that if I control others by keeping them in a box, they won't be able to run for the door when they get the chance. I sometimes still expect people to leave me either physically or emotionally.

When I see that I'm attempting to control my husband's decisions, or likes or dislikes, or when I get afraid because he won't let me control him, I pull myself aside into a quiet space. I then give myself the gift of feeling my fear of abandonment in the moment. This helps me to be clear in my mind that what I'm experiencing is not about him, it's about me and my fears. Every time I'm able to do this, I can lovingly step back and appreciate his uniqueness and individuality, and set him free to be the person he is.

Healing our past is a process. It is not a one-time deal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Purpose

"There is a purpose to our lives that every day tugs at our sleeve as an annoying distraction." Robert Brault

It is by being present to ourselves and life that we are able to find our purpose. Pay attention today to the things that grab your attention. You know when someone is tugging at your sleeve, or the hem of your dress or pants, like an impatient child that's begging to be heard and noticed.

Many times, unfortunately, we disregard life's tugs, and continue on being the way we've always been, and doing what we've always done. When this happens, we may be missing the biggest message of our life.

Go down the side streets, take the road less travelled, follow the tug at your sleeve. It could be your purpose calling you. What do you have to lose? Better yet, what might you gain?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Smile

" A smile is the beginning of peace." Mother Teresa

A smile is a facial expression that denotes happiness and pleasure. A true smile includes the eyes. If the mouth is curved upwards, but the eyes are not involved, the smile fails to utter the unspoke message of love. Many times, I know I'm loved by someone because of the genuine look of happiness on their face when I walk into the room. The love shines through their eyes.

A smile can be used to ease tension both for the person smiling and for the one who is being smiled at. Phyllis Diller said, "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

Offer yourself and others the gift of a smile today. Spread good will and peace by smiling wholeheartedly. People may wonder what you're up to- but you already know. You're up to offering peace and love.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finding Your Center

"Know that you have a center. Know that you belong there. Know that the path to the center takes no effort." Deepak Chopra
Being on a spiritual path does not involve work. Quite the opposite- it involves stillness. The quieter you are on the inside, the greater your level of peace, making it easier to find your center.

Different people and belief systems offer myriad ways of finding your place of peace, your center. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Taking deep breaths from my belly while focusing on the rhythm of the inhale and exhale.

2. Chanting OM (sounds like AUM), which means "that which sustains everything which is order, and it pervades everything." I sing OM on the exhale and find myself deeply relaxing into the sound and the vibration that it produces.

3. Relaxing in a warm bath with soft music and candles

4. A cup of chamomile tea

5. Visualizing roots coming out of my solar plexus or my feet, and going down into the earth, creating an anchor.

The goal is to be at peace in the midst of living your life, and to be able to hear the still, small voice within.

In the end, what matters is that you find what works best for you. You may have other ways of centering yourself, and if you do, I'd love to hear from you. How do you find your center?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Guest House

The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

     The arrivals at the door of my guest house this morning are irritation, tiredness, lack of motivation, and sadness. I have a feeling these arrivals may be due to my constant lack of sleep. I'm wakened night after night with cramps in my calves, feet, and toes, frequent urination followed by night sweats, and noises in the neighborhood. I'm a light sleeper so I seem to hear everything.

     I long for a night of sleep and rest. I seem to walk in weariness and finally after a few nights of dozing on and off, I'll sleep 4-5 hours due to exhaustion. I've decided to let the tiredness in, and be compassionate and nurturing towards myself. So, today will be a day of rest. I'm going to the pool to do my exercise, then I have 3 errands to do. When I get home I'm going to hit the couch and read, nap, and watch movies for the rest of the day. No more work for me today.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

" Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before." Joseph Campbell

 The word bliss means "exalted happiness, rapture, ecstasy,and spiritual joy." Following your bliss means to know in your heart what you're here for, what your path is, and to walk it with integrity and commitment.

We're separated from our bliss when we arrange and live our life according to others rules and expectations. Knowing our self is tantamount to spiritual joy.

What is your bliss? What makes you feel like you're functioning at 100%? When are you the happiest?

 Some signs that you've found your bliss are:

1. You feel alive
2. You could talk forever about what you're doing
3. Time ceases to exist
4. Your creativity increases
5. You have higher thoughts
6. You feel like someone has turned a light on inside of you
7. You are excited to start your day.

No one can find your bliss for you. It's a serious undertaking and it requires being attentive to life. Many times our bliss transcends our mind so it's not always what we think it might be. Being present to life helps us to find and walk our unique path, and that is where our bliss lies. Be happy and walk in joy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Giving up the Drama

" When you feel peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others." Peace Pilgrim
When we are not at peace within, we usually live in a state of drama and chaos. We find a way to stir the pot, or beat the nest, until we can create a storm around us. When we're used to living in a state of unrest, and deflecting our unhealed issues at others, it can be easier to hang out with a swarm of angry hornets, than to sit by a quiet brook with nothing to do and no one to fight.

For most of my life I did not know how to just let things or people be. I needed some kind of drama or chaos, because living in the midst of a storm felt familiar. I was a huge drama queen, until one day, in the midst of my drama,  I saw what I was doing. Now, I'm not saying I no longer know how to stir the pot, because I do. The difference now is, when I start stirring up someone else by creating drama, I quickly see what I'm doing, and know that I'm at choice to stop or keep on stirring.

When I start feeling unimportant or unnoticed, and I find myself on edge looking for some action, I remember that it's okay to be at peace. Deciding to maintain my peaceful center empowers me to step away from the drama and just let life be okay, exactly where it is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Reverie of Morning

I wrote this poem on February 18, 2008 and came across it this morning.

Early morning hours call to me,
gently whisper in my ear and resound in my soul.

         Come to me, be quiet, breathe, and listen
         Today is a new day. A day of creation.
         Get out your giant canvas and paint your world.

So, I paint....and I consciously create,

          Another day of peace, gentleness, abundance,
          relationships filled with love and light
          to guide my way and the way of all who live and breathe.

I inhale my brothers and sisters and they inhale me.
I exhale peace and light into the ether
Knowing my exhale will be inhaled by multitudes.

And so I create....a gentler world, a kinder world,
a world of knowing and conscious togetherness.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creating Acceptance

CREATE ACCEPTANCE IN YOUR MOMENTS,.
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO TRANSFORM YOURSELF
MOMENT BY MOMENT,
THOUGHT BY THOUGHT,
AND ACTION BY ACTION.


One way to do this is by paying more attention to your life than to your situations. When you're stuck in a situation, separate yourself and take a moment to breathe deeply.

Your situation is a combination of circumstances, a state of affairs, while your life is your vital force, your existence, and your consciousness. Which, do you think, requires the most attention?

Be totally present to your life. Breathe in the moment and be grateful for all that is.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spiritual Beings in Physical Form

"Each of us is here to discover our true Self...that essentially we are spiritual beings who have taken manifestation in physical form...that we're not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences...that we're spiritual beings that have occasional human experiences." Deepak Chopra
When we're connected to Spirit, we understand this truth in our heart. We are all Spirit beings who happen to be in a bio-body suit having an earthly experience. When you know that everyone you meet, everyone you see, everyone you have contact with is a Spirit being just like you, it changes your experience of them.

It's almost impossible to be angry or unforgiving when we understand that the person we're talking to is a Spirit being. War and violence, retaliation, spite, and pettiness are outside our sphere of existence when we understand that we're all Spirit.

From "The Art of Intuition" by Sophy Burnham

There were some monks living in a remote and crumbling monastery. The good years were over and there were a few remaining monks who were old, bitter, querulous, and spiteful. They quarreled with each other. The abbot was concerned so he rode out to consult a holy hermit to ask how to restore harmony and attract new members to the monastery. The hermit told the abbot he would pray on it and to come back in a week.
A week passed, and the abbot journeyed back to the hermit. "Tell your monks," said the holy man, "I have seen that one of them is Jesus Christ returned."
The abbot was astonished. One of his brothers was Christ returned to the earth? In his own monastery?
He went back with the news. But which one? No one knew.
They began to treat each other with respect and the adoration that they would give to Christ himself. Quarreling ceased. The monastery became a place of harmony, peace, and happiness. First thing they knew, young novitiates were being drawn to the wisdom and luminous serenity of the elder monks. The monastery flourished in joy because no one knew which monk was Christ.

What would our world look like if we treated each other with that kind of respect? Think about it and go about your day accordingly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How You See Life

"When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters--one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity." John F. Kennedy
How we choose to view life is how life works for us. If we see good in people we will feel differently about life than people who see humanity as being flawed and dark.

I have a friend who sees herself as a victim and she expects to be victimized. She is super sensitive and hyper-vigilant and usually expects someone to take advantage of her, steal from her, cheat her, or hurt her.

I have another friend who expects to be treated with kindness, courtesy, and respect, and the thought that someone is out to get her does not cross her mind.

Can you guess the types of people and circumstances these women draw into their lives? I've noticed that they each get what they expect.

How do you view life and which lens do you use to filter your thoughts and expectations? Do you see crisis or do you see opportunity? It's worth taking a look at.