IRS + OM: Rewiring for Positive Change

IRS omOur New Year’s resolutions of starting over and embarking on a healthier, wiser path often tend to fade when we discover how difficult it is to change our behaviors. Yet we do have the ability to rewire our circuitry—our patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—by engaging IRS’s positive change agents (Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion) and linking them to the powering force of OM (One-pointed Mind). Let’s explore this.

Outmoded wiring
We are born with powerful patterns in our brain circuitry—mental, emotional, neural, physical, and behavioral. From those patterns, along with our early conditioning, habits are formed. Once negative habits or misperceived patterns of anger or mistrust are firmly established, we have almost no choice but to continually repeat them.

neuroplasticity1The good news is that science has discovered that the brain is malleable and can be rewired through neuroplasticity. It has the ability to regenerate and change and is capable of creating both flexible and rigid behaviors, good and bad. We can release outmoded beliefs and behaviors, change the way we think, respond and act in our lives to help us manifest goals, and thrive with more joy and fulfillment.

OM: One-pointed Mind
Our minds by nature are many-pointed. Our senses, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are working constantly, pulling our attention in many directions. A focused mind helps us connect to our True Self or Higher Power to regenerate and create new neural pathways. This process of rewiring enables us to move beyond a perpetual treadmill existence. Meditation and yoga (including chanting OM) are systems that help us train the mind, allowing us to make this deep connection.

I:  Intention paves the way
graphic burstA powerful first step in the rewiring process of our neural pathways is in creating and holding intentions. You may have the desire to lose weight, find a new job or a new relationship, or grow your business. However, for long-lasting change, it’s important not only to put a specific target on each intention—such as ten pounds or increasing sales by 30%—but to delve inside for a deeper desire and motivation for your life to support your intentions.

Sit quietly and inquire into your True Self for your deepest desire – what you truly value, care about and love. Feel your desire as though it’s already happening. The mind knows no past or future, only the present.

Keep your mind one-pointed by starting each day or each endeavor aimed at achieving your goal tuned in to your heartfelt intention. Self-discipline then becomes a natural outpouring of this process as the desire to achieve your intention creates its own neural pathway.

R: Repetition creates the link
Repetition, such as with affirmations, is an important key for creating new patterns in the brain and furthering the intention process. Mohammed Ali constantly recited rhyming couplets as though they were mantras, and then topped it off with a self-affirming, “I am the greatest!”

Clinical psychologist and integrative yoga therapist Bo Forbes found that Repetition with only 15–30 minutes of twice-weekly breathing exercises and restorative yoga, her clients became more emotionally settled. In her book, Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practice to Relieve Anxiety and Depression Forbes writes that the nervous system, the body, and the practicing of patterns are primary agents of neuroplasticity. Calming the body through a body-centered practice, such as yoga, chi, or meditation creates a foundation for the creation of new patterns.

S: Self-compassion fortifies
lotus pink smallAchieving long-lasting change requires more than self-discipline. It’s important not to beat yourself up after a few unsuccessful tries at changing habits or behaviors. You need to repeat and repeat and repeat a thought or act in order for the pathways to coalesce, allowing for the positive change to begin.

When self-criticism, self-judgment, or self-doubt does surface, understand that being hard on yourself makes you less resilient after setbacks and more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Practicing self-compassion helps to strengthen and fortify your desire. It’s about caring and wanting the best for yourself, wanting to heal, be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Using your one-pointed mind along with consistent repetition of your deepest desire helps your brain to create new pathways for positive, long-lasting change.

Let the awaking energy of spring’s new life invigorate you as you practice Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion with a One-pointed Mind to help produce positive change.

~ Read full article from this adaptation in March/April 2011 Yoga Chicago

Invest Your Soul Currency

Ernest Chu

Ernest Chu

When I heard the word “Taoism” mentioned on the evening news one night, my ears pulled me in front of the TV. A former Wall Street investment banker, entrepreneur–and ordained minister–was talking about achieving abundance and fulfillment using spiritual principles. Was this yet another sign that the world is changing, that there might even be hope for Wall Street?

Destiny prevailed a few months later with my introduction to Ernest D. Chu’s book, Soul Currency: Investing Your Inner Wealth for Fulfillment & Abundance. The author was the same person from the news clip.

As a life coach and student of spiritual teachings, I found this book a compelling and profound guide for how to create purpose and fulfillment for people in all walks of life. Chu cleverly weaves familiar jargon from the world of finance with spiritual concepts. Inspired by Chu’s book, I decided to teach a course based on these concepts and am sharing the essence of what I will cover there.

sunset-over-roadLove: the soul’s spiritual currency
Chu uses the word currency in two ways: 1) As a medium for exchanging value of spiritual energy that is shared, donated, or invested and 2) Flowing like a stream, air, or electric current. What’s intriguing is that the current can flow effortlessly and abundantly toward you, or it can require great personal effort and arrive as a trickle. Yet the capacity of this same infinite Divine force is available to everyone–for positive, intangible outcomes as well as material things.

The soul’s true currency is love, the creative force that connects all of life. It is accessed when you respond and act authentically. It requires a shift of consciousness from the duality world of haves and have-nots, good and evil, into one that acknowledges that everything comes from one Source. This Source always responds to authenticity and the openness to receive, flooding you with the creative flow of inspiration, imagination, and insight.

True abundance can be yours when you acknowledge your spiritual assets; move beyond lack, limitation or greed and learn how to properly invest your soul currency. Such flood of inspiration have graced me many times throughout my life. When it arrives, I sometimes feel like I’ve been taken over or possessed by a powerful force. These creative inspirations may not always have made me fortunes, but have resulted in an abundance of growth and fulfillment.

scale of life assetsTaking stock of assets
Every investment strategy begins with an examination of your unique assets, inner resources and investible capital. Chu asks you to examine them within the context of the following categories: 1) intuition and guidance, 2) higher personality traits, 3) creativity, and 4) cultivated skills and knowledge.

You can place a dollar value on such assets as wisdom, optimism, and communication skills as if you were going to sell them on eBay. When you add up the dollar value of your inner resources and add them to your financial balance sheet, the overall assets you have to invest in life are viewed from a whole new perspective. This adds greatly to your self-worth!

What is your soul calling you to do with your life? It’s a yearning within that comes from the heart. Those callings can be accessed through devotions such as prayer, meditation, or being in nature. When you come to a place of focus, listen deeply to your heart for what truly fulfills you. There you will find love, the creative force behind all life.

Let yourself be silently drawn by what you really love.”
~Rumi

Every creative thought, when focused, sends a powerful intentional current that flows into the Universe. The Universe is always ready to respond, especially when that intention is connected to your true inner resources and is emotionally charged with compassion, and/or enthusiasm.

Chu’s formula: Focus + Intention + Spiritual Assets multiplied by Love = Spiritual Currency.

Vna Gogh- Old Man in Sorrow

Vna Gogh- Old Man in Sorrow

Convert counterfeit currency
Counterfeit currency is a fraudulent story you’ve told yourself; a story rooted in fear, isolation, limitation and pain. When you invest in thoughts and feelings such as unworthiness or feeling the world is against you, you accumulate spiritual debts and add liabilities to your balance sheet. Yet the jury, or inner critic, that convicted you of these untruths was simply pointing out places where you’ve felt wounded.

The conversion process consists of changing your story from lies to love, from untruths and judgments to one of spiritual assets. Find a friend or coach who champions you, and align yourself with real people who do the same. Create affirmative statements with beliefs that fit your purpose and carry words of empowerment, like abundance and love! Use Chu’s formula for attracting people, situations, and opportunities that match the call of your soul. And practice, practice, practice.

What brain science reveals
Researchers are finding that thoughts and feelings change the structure and functioning of the brain and consciousness through processes called “neural resonance” (NR) and “neural dissonance” (ND). Read Andrew Newburg, M.D., and Mark Waldman’s book, How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist.

Each of our thoughts are either attracting (NR) or repelling (ND). With negative thoughts and feelings, the brain sets up a repelling field over time. The surprising thing is that the brain prefers negative thoughts because it is pre-programmed to handle fight-or-flight situations, perceiving them as threats. Chu’s formula on focus and intention produces powerful results in such situations.

neurocircuits 2We are attracted to people and situations who hold underlying values similar to our own.  According to Newburg and Waldman, as you embody positive thoughts and feelings and begin to visualize what you want, you build neurocircuits that help you attract more of the same.

New strategy, new story!
Make 2011 the year you take account of all your spiritual assets. Look at your liabilities. Examine each one for its truths. Convert these into assets with the filter of forgiveness and the currency of love. Write a new story for yourself based on an investment strategy composed of love of self, self-forgiveness, an openness to give and receive, and connection with others. The outcome: an abundance of the Universe’s soul currency!

Soul Currency course at Harper College in Palatine:
Starts Feb. 14

Let’s audit our Soul Currency together and invest it well!

Create Your Harmonious Pathway

lotus candlesEvery January we talk about abolishing old habits, starting new healthier ones and moving in a direction of greater success and fulfillment. We can’t recreate a new past. The past is over and must be laid to rest. Yet we do have the ability to chart a course along a different path than the one we may be currently traveling along – resulting in a new and better destination.

I believe that we are most fulfilled and successful in life when we are living in sync with our true self – that heartfelt part of us that longs to express our deepest passions and desires.

I’m not referring to what we want to attract materially. People, opportunities and material things that match our true nature are all attracted to us with greater ease when we are deeply in tune with and expressing from our authentic self. Yet, often that true self is buried under debris represented by physical, emotional and mental clutter related to the past.

I’m mostly concerned with what you really care about in life, what creates meaning and what can sustain, inspire and motivate you for the rest of your life.

Currently I’m helping a friend shovel out her home that has borderline “hoarder” signs hanging throughout. In our first session I was amazed, yet proud of her own inspired desire to donate about two-thirds of her clothes, most which represented the past, particularly an old career from which she had been downsized. This is an enormous step for her toward letting go of plenty of emotional and mental debris as well – and thus reclaiming her life and welcoming all the blessings it will bring to her.

1279629888633_hz-fileserver3_895725Powerful intentions
Take a moment to reflect on where you want to be 20 years from now. Dream a new dream, create an intention for where you want to be at the end of the year. Even better, how you want to live the rest of your life. Begin this process by inquiring into your heart:

Close your eyes and feel into your body.Open all your senses …..your mouth, ears, nose, eyes……. Feel a radiance in the palms of your hands and feet and throughout the body….. Now go to your heart. Dive in and inquire into your heart’s deepest longing or yearning. Bring it to the forefront and see, feel and taste what that is……Create a phrase that expresses this desire, as though it is already happening….. Use this to formulate your intention for the coming year….and for your life in general.

“Let yourself be silently drawn
by what you really love”
– Rumi

Once an intention is established, it’s much easier to chart your course with all the stops along the way. Yet the intention and the charted course must be mindfully part of your daily experience in order to keep you on track.

We need more people living in sync with their true nature – mindful, authentic, compassionate and joyful. We need YOU to express the best of your self in the world.

Won’t you join me and others in playing your role in making the world a better place?

Join me also for two powerful opportunities in February and March to help you live more in sync – let go of the past, overcome blocks, chart your intentions and journey down more harmonious pathways:

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Drop me a line and share what you most care about, what inspires as well as challenges you.

May your pathways be filled with harmony and delight!

Welcome Life’s Messengers

food-faces-emotions

Whenever you find yourself reacting to a person, situation or circumstance, you are encountering one of life’s messengers. Your messenger may reveal itself as physical sensation or feeling, emotion, thought or belief. Whether your response is joy, anger, hurt, shame, pride, depression or delight, your reaction transmits like a courier or emissary bearing information that has been sent from a deeper truth within you to teach you ways to “be” on the path of harmony and wholeness.

meteor-shower-Like asteroids flying through space, some of life’s messengers fly into our atmosphere and penetrate our surface, while others pass us by. Those that linger are bearers of great gifts. When their messages challenge us or make us feel bad, we bolt our doors, try to ignore them or push them away. But “whatever we resist, persists,” as the saying goes. Instead of trying to avoid or ignore them, we must welcome them. Invite them in for a cup of tea and discover what they have to teach us. The results can be amazing!

A process I work with, called Integrative Restoration, iRest®, Yoga Nidra, offers simple yet profound processes for creating pathways to greater peace and harmony. For many years, as a life coach, I have helped others accomplish goals and discover a deeper relationship with their “real self” in order to live a more authentic and fulfilling life. iRest has helped me to deepen this relationship in my own life, while providing powerful tools to assist others.

Stressed womanDiscovering truth
In a recent body sensing session with my client Sally, the emotion of fear surfaced out of a sensation in her body. We welcomed it as a messenger and through a process of deep inquiry, I asked her to describe what fear looked like. She was surprised to discover that it wasn’t fear at all, but a suppressed and neglected little girl who wanted to play. Having spent much of her life dealing with chronic illnesses, Sally had not given attention to her playful nature. I asked if the little girl had a name. She said, “Sunshine.” We then explored ways she could fully anchor Sunshine into her daily life, including singing.  When she spontaneously burst into, “You Are My Sunshine,” I joined in and we “all” sang together.

Sally met what she thought was fear and discovered a long-repressed part of herself that was longing to be invited out to play and become fully restored and re-integrated into Sally’s being and life.

Misleading Assumptions

Assumptions stick
We often live our lives based on assumptions, misperceptions and beliefs about ourselves. One of the agreements in Don Miguel Ruiz’ insightful little book, “The Four Agreements,” is: “Don’t assume anything.” Yet we do, continually. While some messages are transmitted directly to us from outside sources, others are totally made up in our minds based on assumptions. They instantly pop into our head at inopportune times because they are all lined up, waiting at our door, ready and eager to make their grand entrance.

Early in life we begin the process of cultural and personal conditioning forming beliefs and assumptions often based on other people’s expectations of how we should fit into the world. Parents, teachers, siblings, peers, and later spouses and bosses, etc. transmit a variety of messages. While generally well-intentioned, these messages are rooted in experiences based on their own life story, and don’t always support our True Nature. As a result, they instill a complex view of the world that often turn into on-going voicemail-like messages.

If you received messages early on such as “you’re stupid,” “not good enough,” or “you’ll never amount to anything,” the messages, programmed in your head, will transmit as, “I’m stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” or “No one loves me.” These messages are myths that become beliefs, like self-limiting obstacles continually showing up in your life in people, situations and circumstances. After many years, one client discovered that she had married her “mother.” Her husband churned out his own version of her mother’s message of “you’re stupid.”

DontWorryBeHappyIf, on the other hand, the original message was, “You are free to choose your own unique path in life,” or, “Life is what you make it,” an expectation or intention is set in motion that will likely propel you down a pathway to realize these truths. When the messages are aligned with your True Nature, they help you become a more fully integrated human being living with meaning and purpose.

Now we’ll explore ways to transform our life messengers into allies and integrate them for creating harmony and wholeness.

Releasing naturally

It’s not surprising that dissatisfaction and suffering occur when you continuously hear the messengers’ voices running in our heads. If you try to chase them away, reciting mantras and affirmations, you may, at best, keep them at bay. The good news is that there are many processes to help address this treadmill-like ordeal. For example, Byron Katie, in her classic work “Loving What Is,” (www.thework.com) offers a simple process of questioning, challenging beliefs with four simple questions designed to explore their inherent truths, how you react to them and how you would be without them.

What I love about iRest is that we are not asked to change or disbelieve anything. Yes, we do investigate our assumptions of truth. But we do it naturally through the body, not by trying to DO anything. Rather we open our awareness, welcome and invite in whatever shows up in the form of sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, beliefs and images. Change comes naturally. iRest can be done with a trained teacher, in a guided process in a group or individual setting, or on your own. “To understand truth, all seeking must stop,” said spiritual teacher, Jean Klein.

Drop the “I”

iRest (notice the small “i”) helps you put the ego “I” to rest as you explore through sensation in your body. We all seem to be seekers of happiness. If only I had……. Yet, once we actually get…. we are never really fulfilled and still seek something new. It’s like being on a treadmill of perpetual stuckness and suffering. Trying to repel desires doesn’t work either. Once we let go, rest the “I” and meet with our messengers, we move into a state of deep relaxation and discover a state of being. It’s like slipping into a warm enveloping bath where we find the innate inner wisdom of our True Nature.

One might ask how this can help when I’ve lost my job, or a relationship or I have serious financial challenges. When we welcome things as they are, we can go beyond them. What emerges is “right action.” We’re able to make better choices in future endeavors and how we want to live our lives.

How frequently do you find yourself irritated or uneasy in your daily life? Maybe you are cut off while driving in traffic, someone makes a remark that triggers a memory or emotion, or you find yourself worrying about something in the future. Perhaps it’s that incessant voicemail-like message that’s telling you you’re incapable or something or unlovable.

When, the man whom I believed was truly the love of my life decided to leave, I had to examine my own I-ness and my long-held assumptions that men never stay in my life. I found myself honoring what he believed was his truth, knowing that “i” have been given an opportunity to start anew – and to love myself even more. Everything moves through a cycle of birth, growth, decline and death. It’s the nature of all things. I’m learning that underneath the big “I” is a delightful beingness that is so vast and is filled with love that “i” am.

Messengers will continue to show up in your life. Welcome them into your Guest House of awareness. When you inquire why they have come, you’ll make them your ally and discover ways to integrate them into your greater wholeness.

Read The Guest House from The Essential Rumi, version by Coleman Barks:

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.
Read more

 


Generosity of Our Best Selves

Third in a three-part series

In this series I’ve been exploring how consumerism has come to dominate our culture in the form of craving, getting, having and hoarding. We’ve lost touch with our best self that is concerned not just for the individual, but for all people. The sense of “other-serving has taken a back seat to, What’s in it for me.” Yet when we begin to shift our consciousness to unconditional giving we are showered with incredibly valuable gifts that can feed our spirit for a lifetime.

powerhalfPower of half
One family chose a novel approach to assume the role of good citizen. In their book, The Power of Half, Kevin Salwen and his daughter, Hannah, share their story. Stopped at a traffic light with a Mercedes in front of them and a homeless man begging for food on their side, Hannah found herself saying to her dad, “If that guy didn’t have such a nice car, the man over here could get a meal.” While this prosperous family was already volunteering to help the needy, with Hannah’s persistence, they downsized, sold their house and donated half the proceeds ($800,000) to The Hunger Project to help villagers in Ghana. (visit their websiteThe Power of Half for more information)

While most of us may not be in a position to do as much, everyone does have time or resources to give. By cutting back half your precious time spent on the internet, TV or various devices, you would have time to dedicate to a worthy cause. Imagine if everyone donated half a paycheck, or half a day’s wages. Imagine if you moved through your day looking for ways to express random acts of kindness. Try it for a day and record your feelings at the end.

When the next fundraiser comes around, why not refuse the premium, forget the tax write-off and allow the currency to flow freely toward others? Again, notice how you feel.

Find meaning
True generosity is without ego or judgment, yet seems to give the givers a sense of meaning and purpose. Generosity can help you to become more attuned to the real you, make better life choices and create intentions around what you want to invite into your life. Choose causes and volunteer activities that are meaningful to you or that make you feel a sense of purpose. It’s not unusual for this to open new life pathways you never dreamed of.

There is scientific evidence that we are born to be kind and generous. However, growing up in an environment that conditions us to believe in scarcity and limitation creates fear that blocks our generosity current. Getting outside yourself and engaging in generous activities takes you out of your funk and provides a positive perspective on your situation.

generosityWith the best models, generosity recipients can be given a sense of hope, feel empowered and truly cared for. When we see a grateful face light up, we can begin to let go of our own lack and limitation fears and find gratitude in our lives. The law of attraction can then kick in, opening up currents of unimagined abundance.

The best way to express your best self and build a generosity consciousness is to give of yourself. Wherever you can conjure up your caring and compassionate nature, whether it is for a civic cause you believe in, a friend, relative or child whom you can help, it will come back to you in multiple ways. Be your best self and partner up to make the world a better place.

“I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.” ~ John Lennon, “Imagine

See also: What Happened to Our Best Selves & Generosity Consciousness

Generosity Consciousness

newworld1

Currency of Our Best Selves

Second of a three-part series
(See part one – What Happened to our Best Selves)

Imagine a world where generosity became as important a currency as the dollar, the currency of commerce. This currency would not wait until a natural disaster struck, a local fundraiser’s direct mail appeal arrived or a friend reluctantly asked for help. It wouldn’t expect anything in return. It would be the natural way for doing the world’s business and for manifesting our best selves’ nature.

Utopia? I think not. We are in the midst of a cultural evolution where old values that ultimately produce greed and self-interest are showing their true faces and new core values of equality, caring for the human community and our Earth are emerging. In this world, we’ll be known as good citizens versus consumers.

Currency as energy
Giving and receiving is an energy exchange. In the world of commerce, when you give money, you generally receive a product or service in exchange. When I donate money and receive a premium tote bag, mug, CD or event tickets in return, I am participating in this exchange. My donation then becomes attached to the expectation of getting something that I will ultimately consume – or stuff in a closet.

A Dictionery.com definition of currency is, ”the fact or quality of being widely accepted and circulated from person TO person” (my emphasis). In this case, there is no expectation of receiving something back from the source, but rather starting or keeping the flow moving.  A power plant sends an electric current to your home. Turn on the light switch and electric current flows to the bulb. The bulb gives off light, which helps you to see, then read, better understand, ultimately transmit your knowledge to others.

open hand - heartConditional giving
With any energy exchange, there is always something to receive. However, when currency is received from unconditional generosity (nothing expected in return), it generally comes in unexpected or intangible ways. Research has shown that giving a part of yourself, particularly in volunteer work, can build new relationships and community. It can enhance your health – immune system, cholesterol, heart – and reduce stress. A sense of empowerment, pride and accomplishment tops this exchange.

So much of the giving in today’s world has strings attached. When I give, currency returns to me as a tax write-off or premium. Though we are known as the most giving nation in the world, why are so many people in need? Our government has built-in provisions for funding not-for-profits –- public services, arts and community organizations. But whenever the economy is in jeopardy, a lot of this funding goes south causing many to suffer the consequences. Most of today’s business models have a component of giving back to the communities where they do business, which generally becomes a promotional scheme. (I’m always intrigued with those anonymous donors.)

Generosity Consciousness
How can we manifest our better self and give back unconditionally to society? It requires a shift in consciousness. True generosity asks for nothing in return. Rather it gives freely from a compassionate heart. It is aware of a need and finds a way to fulfill that need in what I term is “Generosity Consciousness.”

To manifest “Generosity Consciousness” means to be open-handed and open-hearted in giving. When it comes to stuff we accumulate, there certainly is a feeling of freedom, of letting go when you give it away. It lightens the load and provides space to invite in new opportunities, situations and people into your life.

The root of the word “generous” also means noble – of high moral character, courage and honor. How noble and honorable it is to help others!

Being called
In the past year, I’ve been called several times to be with my elder family friend in the ER and hospital. In situations like this or when someone is in distress, and I can be of service, I don’t even think about myself. I feel compelled to open-heartedly be there and create a loving container, a larger, fuller space to hold them. When you care about others, you make them feel special and show that they have worth.

My friends, Mary Jane and Louis, who regularly give of their time, money or wisdom both shared that they feel no division between giving and ordinary life. There is a seamless quality between the two. It just doesn’t occur to them that they are doing anything extraordinary. Whenever there is a need, they willingly try to fill

Your generosity reflections
Reflect back on your life to times when you gave freely without conditions – in your family life, school, workplace or community. How did your feel afterwards? What were the outcomes for others involved? What are you doing now or what would you like to do to express your best self?

Learn how to teach your kids to be generous

What Happened to Our Best Selves?

First of a three-part series

During the last half of the 20th century, the concept of “citizen” was hijacked and became that of “consumer.” This great loss has made it extremely challenging to exhibit our “best self”—a concept that earlier generations worked so hard to instill in us. While we may exhibit our best briefly, reaching out to help others when natural disaster strikes (as it did in January in Haiti), it mostly lies dormant. We need to feed, nurture, and reawaken this aspect of our natures.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word consumer is defined garbage heapas someone who “devours, wastes, or destroys.” Consumers focus on taking rather than giving or giving back. This is evident in our everyday accumulation and hoarding of “stuff,” our exploitation of the earth’s resources, our focus on instant gratification, and our lip-service compassion for those in need.

Don’t get me wrong. We all need to consume daily to survive–breathe in oxygen, drink water, eat the fruits of the earth, and surround ourselves with the goods and services that have extended our human lives over the millennium. But balance is necessary to maintain this multidimensional energy system we are a part of. The question is how much are we taking, and what are we leaving or giving back to enable our children and future generations to thrive?

parents-love-jpgGifts you’ve received
Much of the world envies our prosperous society. The latest fashions and gadgets can be bought by most anyone, even with minimal budgets, at Wal-Mart and Target. Yet so much of the stuff we buy for ourselves and others is superficial. We buy gifts not because others need them, but because it’s the thing to do. It makes us feel good. Yet, the recipients soon stuff them in closets, basements, and garages.

Think about the genuine gifts your parents have given you. They made a huge investment of time, money, and resources for you to have a better life than their generation. Then, there were your teachers, relatives, mentors, and even strangers. Your elders, ancestors, and a multitude of others invested in this country with their hard work, tax dollars, and even lives to provide the institutions, goods, services, and opportunities for you to live a happier, more peaceful, and productive life than they experienced. Giving and sacrifice were their core values.

Make the shift
Isn’t it time to turn away from self-serving entitlements to focus on what I call “other-serving”? Mahatma Gandhi said,”There is always enough for the needy, but never enough for the greedy.” The needy can teach us much as they somehow manage to keep the spark of life alive through life’s challenges. Witness the survivors of the recent Haiti devastation, a nation of people who have weathered many disasters throughout their history and yet always manage to adapt. The needy can also enliven the spark of giving in us when we help empower them by sharing our excess. “Less is more” is an adage that few live by.

Our country has lost much of its power due to mounting debt. We are being consumed by our own greed just as our natural resources are vanishing. More people are living on the edge. Many who were looking forward to their “Golden Years” have lost pensions, investments, and homes and see retirement pushed well beyond the horizon–if at all.

artcandy - treeWhat’s our role?
A citizen’s role is one of responsibility and partnership. A citizen cooperates in making his/her part of the world a better place–not just for the present, but for future generations. A citizen not only gives time and resources to help build safe, physically and spiritually enriching environments, but also helps the sick and less fortunate find a new path toward empowerment. It’s a citizen’s responsibility to contribute and, yes, make sacrifices when necessary for the greater good of all. The whole then becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. When we work together to create more balance–make this world a better place–we become immensely enriched. What actions are we taking, and what are we giving back to regain and maintain the balance of Life?

What is at the core of consumerism? In a heartfelt book that captured the nation, Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom shared the wisdom of a dying man.tuesdays-with-morrie Morrie believed that when one lives exclusively in a materialistic world of gadgets, conveniences, getting ahead, and accumulating money, our lifestyle is generally seeking to replace what’s missing: human relationships, health and well-being, and joy. One can fill this void by treating others with respect, kindness, love, and dignity.

Having, over the past year, spent a lot of time in a retirement/nursing home environment attending my elder family friend, Mae, I can personally vouch for the importance of these acts. While no longer surrounded by the material things that once filled her life with such importance, she is content with a few small mementos. Her face always lights up when I walk in the door. I am so impressed with how the aids treat community members with dignity and respect.

Take Stock
What’s missing in your life? What lies underneath the consumerism, hoarding, and cravings for stuff outside yourself? What gives you true meaning and purpose, and how does this feed your inner spirit? Do you have a true connection with your Higher Self?

In my next article I will be writing about ways to create a “Generosity Consciousness,” which, I hope, will help you become your best self and will enable all of us to be partners in making the world a better place.

Let Go and Start Anew

haitiI can’t think of anything more devastating than an earthquake that causes loss of tens of thousands of lives, loved ones, limbs, livelihoods and homes for an entire country. The initial response is to sift through the rubble looking for any signs of life, then useful objects and mementos. Finding the spirit and determination to pick up the pieces and start anew takes enormous courage and fortitude. Our Haitian friends have weathered revolutions, hurricanes, government suppression – and yet there continues to be a spirit and will to start over.

We all face losses and disappointments throughout our lives, ruptured relationships, unsatisfying jobs, no promotion, missed opportunities and lost dreams. How can we emerge from our plight with a renewed vision to start down a new path, embrace the hope of creating something new, and forge something better?

Rodin_thinker_frontal_viewRuminating stuckness

When things go awry or we experience loss, our minds can flood with a downward spiral of painful thoughts ranging from rejection, worry, fear, to regret and low self esteem. Our mind utters familiar messages: “I’m not good enough,” “not loveable,” “not talented,”  “not successful.” “I’ll never find love and companionship, a good job, fulfillment, peace – or be free of pain.” “Why me?” “Why has God forsaken me?” “Why do I have to suffer?” “I can’t bear to be alone in the world.”

Could have, should have thoughts can ruminate constantly. We tell ourselves, “Surely this is all a dream. He or she will change their mind or the situation will all go back to the way things were. I’ll wait. The phone will soon ring and things will all be better.”  When the phone doesn’t ring, more hurt and even anger sets in. It can become a never-ending vicious cycle, like a hamster on a treadmill that goes nowhere. That is your fate until you face the finality and decide to step off the treadmill.

sky-1Make peace with your past

The spirit to start anew is available to everyone when we learn to let go of the old – relationship, job, way of life or whatever has you tied to the past. It’s not easy and it takes courage. But the payoff is finding that life still holds joy and gifts that abound and that can free your spirit to soar in unimaginable ways.

As I reflect over my own life, it is filled with losses – relationships, jobs, creative projects, endeavors that fell flat or for some reason just ended. Looking back with today’s eyes, I know I could have handled many things better. But I also know that I did the best I could with what I was capable of at the time. Each loss has taught me lessons making the next disappointment a little easier to handle.

I truly believe that we all do the best we can in any given situation. The challenge is to know when and how to let go so we have the resilience and strength to channel our energies in a new direction.

Read more: Processes to help you “Let Go and Start Anew.”

Let Go: Processes for Starting Anew

Read also “Let Go and Start Anew

One of the best cures for ruminating over loss and disappointments is to for-give (before giving). The process of forgiveness ultimately brings you back in harmony with the good feeling state you experienced before the loss – before the hurt enveloped you. This isn’t necessarily about forgiving the act or person or business. When you forgive the person, entity or force behind the act, either in person or from a place deep within your heart, where compassion resides, the ruminating energy is released. Hurt, blame and anger can dissipate, especially when you forgive the number one person – yourself. You then have the opportunity to channel that energy along life-giving paths. This is forgivenesstrue freedom.

Powerful processes to help you forgive include breathing and candle gazing. Every time you find yourself ruminating, breathe and with each exhalation mentally or verbally say, “I forgive.” When you gaze at a candle, visualize the melting wax as your letting go, forgiving and surrendering to the reality that is. You may even want to precede this by vigorously pounding or punching a large stuffed pillow to release pent-up emotions.

When do you know you’ve done enough forgiveness work?
When there is nothing left to forgive.

new growthThe choice of life
Change is the one thing that is assured in life. It’s part of the nature of all things. Nothing ever stays the same. While pain may still remain, you can choose to suffer and allow your spirit to die, or pick up whatever good that remains forge a new path and create something new.

Life is a precious gift we’ve been given. The courage to move on is a choice, as well as our responsibility for taking up space on this planet.

Part of this choice is to learn to not make assumptions, nor take things personally. You may or may not ever know the real truth behind other people’s actions, nor can you assume you do. You become free when you accept what happened, honor their choices and know that nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is related to their own reality, not yours.

Embrace transition
MakingChangeYourFriendJPGThe gift of change is that it allows you the opportunity to become more in touch with the “Real You” and reintegrate the various parts of who you are. It’s a chance to become more whole. When you let go of past attachments, you can rethink your life’s work, love, place and purpose.

Reflect on the lessons you have learned from your loss. What would you do differently in the future? Ask questions about all the things that are missing in your life, not just your recent loss. How would you like your life to look? How do you want to feel? What dreams have you put on hold? What are your core values? What provides meaning for you in life? Where are your passions?

With such questions, listen for the answers. Now you have the freedom to choose, not just fit in or copy others. What’s unique about you?

Refind your smile
When you let go of the enormous weight of past hurts, your spirit can lighten up. Engage with “nutritious” people, people who feed your soul rather than just your needs. Find people and groupDancing stick figure 03_72pixelss that make you feel whole and help you grow. Join a Meetup group Meetup_Logo(www.MeetUp.com). (Note: I will be starting a  “Let Go and Start Anew” group this spring).

To rekindle joy, find ways to laugh again. Watch comedy shows and movies. Find a yoga laughter club, or spend time with a young child and allow your inner child to engage in playful activities. Move your body to further release stuck emotions. Seek out body-centered activities like hiking, yoga and tai chi. Go dance your booties off!

newdayConnect and rekindle
What goes around comes around in life. Everyone experiences loss and everyone can start over. Know that you are not alone. Connect with your inner spirit, Source, God, Universal Consciousness. Soon the growing energy of Spring’s season will support you in rekindling your spirit, and you can start anew!

Are you ready to Let Go and Start Anew?

Contact me for a complimentary telephone session: Jacqui@HarmoniousPathways.com, 847-359-6391.

Soul Reflections on Long Winter Nights

Second of a series. See also: “Follow Your Soul’s Calling”
and Put Your Soul’s Calling into Action”

Dark winter nights at the beginning of the year are the perfect times to explore your dreams. soul - nature moonDreaming can be the fun part of working with your spiritual GPS or inner guidance system, and delve into your soul’s calling. In nature, each plant stores its core energy in its roots in winter, where the essence or inner power resides. When you allow yourself to dream and get in touch with your heart’s desire, your soul or inner guidance can speak more freely to you. You discover that your inner truth can help you make wise choices in each endeavor as you plan for the year ahead or enter a new life phase.

Sit quietly by the fire and have a brainstorming session with yourself, particularly reflecting over the last decade. Make a list of unfulfilled dreams and goals. Play with them as though they were friends, and see if any aspect of them would still like to be fulfilled and how that might be accomplished. Listen and let them teach you lessons and new ways of showing up in the future. Write down the inner responses you hear. This will provide good soil for later actions.

Decade of accomplishments
Over the past 10 years what have you accomplished that has made a difference in your life, for your loved ones or your work? What truth or inner power did you engage? When and how did the real you show up? When did you feel confident, brilliant, intuitive, playful, or something equally empowering? Let your inner guide help you create a list of authentic feelings. I personally always feel deep compassion and meaning whenever I coach, interview or listen to people telling their story of how they engaged their true self, adapted or became transformed. I know I am living my passion and purpose.

Back to dreaming
What would you like to accomplish over the next 10 years? What would you like to be doing, with whom and where? If you don’t have a clear picture, then make a list of how you want to feel on whatever path life takes you. How do you want to be engaged?

We all have different styles of moving through our lives. If you’re a renaissance soul like I am, you may want flexibility, spontaneity and variety to feed your spirit. Many successful people never planned their achievements, but rather engaged their skills and talents and funneled their passions into meaningful experiences that could make a difference. What’s most important is that you live authentically, true to the real you.

Find Clues
Sort through all your reflections for clues of what you need to do to satisfy your dreams of how you want to experience life. Creating space for fulfilling your dreams and goals is essential. Think about what you need to change or let go of in your lifestyle, how you work, where you make commitments, and how you feed your spirit. How can you make better use of your time? Are you seeking a healthier lifestyle, new or improved relationships, a more rewarding job experience, or ways to give back to others or society?

*  Make your list of unfulfilled dreams and goals
*  Make your list of accomplishments over the last decade
*  Make a list of the best of who, how and what you want to be and do in the coming year.

See final article of this series:  Put Your Soul’s Calling into Action