Room in your heart

Room in Your Heart

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” —Antonio Porchia, Argentine poet

Have you asked yourself recently if there are things you’d like to welcome into your life? Do you want to improve your career, finances, or relationships? Perhaps better health Continue reading

Whole-hearted living

Embracing Wholehearted Living

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” —Antonio Porchia, Argentine poet

We commonly think of the heart as simply an organ that pumps blood through our bodies. Yet we use the word heart in myriad ways in our everyday language. We learn things by heart, have a heavy heart, are lighthearted, or have a heart-to-heart with someone. Our heart sinks or turns to stone, we suffer from a broken heart, or our heart goes out to someone. We follow our heart’s desire, give from the heart, or get to the heart of something. Clearly, our heart has many more functions in our lives than simply pumping.  These functions represent fragments of a greater wholeness of being we have a tendency to lose sight of. It’s at the heart of whole-hearted living.

Continue reading

greek-hero

Your Life: a Hero’s Journey

Though you may not think of yourself as a hero, you do play the starring role in the story of your life journey. It’s a story you’ve been composing since you took your first breath – maybe even before. Many supporters have acted as guides, teachers, and mentors to help and inspire you along the way. Some may also have provided their idea of how you should live your life and the path you should follow. But ultimately, it’s your story, your life, your journey that required you to make difficult choices and carry out heroic actions to bring you to the chapter you inhabit presently. Continue reading

Stressed woman

Ease Beneath Your Stress

When storms of stress flood your life, the tendency is to build physical, emotional or mental barriers to keep the stress floods at bay. Like sand bags holding back waters, these barriers may seem to do the trick but only for the short run. Inevitably new challenges arise causing the need for even stronger barriers. Over time, sharp emotions may surface, self-limiting beliefs may abide and relationships suffer. The body may correspondingly react with stiffness or pain, or develop chronic health issues.

During these times, it may be difficult to believe that there is any part of you that is healthy, at ease, where you feel safe. Yet there truly is this ease at your very core and you can learn to ease beneath this barrier of disharmony and access a deeper sense of ease at any moment.Continue reading

heartfelt desire

Desire Points the Way

Imagine you are walking in the dark along a foggy path using a flashlight. The path ahead is lit up, so you don’t stray off course. The fog represents your past and future and the challenges of your everyday world. They have no importance in this moment. The flashlight is your conscious presence. The lit path represents being in the present moment. When you learn how to step into the timeless world of Being, you are better able to navigate the storms of your outer world.

Continue reading

doubt and be happy

Doubt and Be Happy!

be happyLive, Love, Doubt and be Happy? Really?  How is it possible to be happy with a doubting mind? Isn’t happiness synonymous with contentment? Perhaps for the moment. But we live in a world of constant change, and it is inevitable for doubts to arise, which can rob you of happiness–if you let them. Yet the paradox of “healthy doubt” can coexist with happiness, enabling us to live a life of harmony in ultimate freedom. Let’s explore how.

Beliefs and the mind

Our culture values certainty over doubt–no doubt about it! Uncertainty is for cowards. Yet, not long ago, the view that the stock and housing markets would only continue to rise seemed a certainty. What if a healthy dose of doubt had been heeded by business and government leaders? Think of the different trajectory our economy would be on right now.

Doubt is a mental state where being uncertain can create fear and anxiety. Doubt is expressed in questions like “Am I marrying the right person?”  or “Do I really trust him?”

More intrinsic doubts deeply affect our self-confidence, leading us to question “Can I do this?” and “Am I good enough?”. Doubting thoughts can zoom out of control, ultimately affecting our health and well-being. The result is a life poisoned by doubt.

be happyUnderneath all this doubt is the thinking mind. The ego is our self-image, based on our conditioning. It wants us to believe that we are the center of the universe whose happiness is dependent on outside circumstances and objects. Since life doesn’t revolve around us and we can’t always have what we think we need, doubt arises. Our ego is happy only as long as it feels in control and acts to maintain its powerful rule over our lives.

Power of doubt

Research has shown that our brains react almost instantaneously to statements that contradict our values and beliefs, causing us to stop listening, become angry, and start arguing. Yet research has also revealed that those injected with doubt can become stronger advocates for their own beliefs. Healthy doubting can produce increased tolerance, self-confidence and deepen intimacy in relationships.

An enthusiastic advocate may appear certain in their convictions. Yet, their advocacy may unknowingly seek to convince themselves as well as others. A peacebuilder can encourage opposing parties to find a common middle ground by acknowledging their doubts. When opponents acknowledge where each side may be vulnerable, they are likely to deepen their understanding of themselves and each other.

Shakespeare said, “Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.” Keeping the door open to doubt, probing uncertainty, and questioning everything are the very foundation of science. Think of Thomas Edison, who conducted over 10,000 experiments in order to invent the light bulb. At the core of his motivation was a love for invention. His unceasing doubting served as fuel to keep him going.

Many things in life can never be fully understood. John Patrick Shanley, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning play, Doubt: a Parable, wrote in the introduction, “doubt requires more courage than conviction does…because conviction is a resting place,” while doubt “is infinite.” Certainty can be blinding, while doubt can reveal a deeper sense of our true nature.  

Unprocessed doubt can result in paralyzing fear. But using doubt to question yourself can strengthen your beliefs and free you from fear. Instead of hiding doubts about your beliefs, welcome discussions with others. 

Core of happiness

We are taught that happiness is dependent on circumstances and objects: a toy, a lover, a job, money. Yet joy and happiness are in fact our birthright. They are at the core of who we are. They’re always present, like the sun behind stormy clouds, though mostly hidden underneath our divided, thinking mind.

True joy, including desire, happiness and equanimity, is independent of objects, beliefs and circumstances. It doesn’t need the ego to find fulfillment. The fearful ego puts up red flags of doubt to help it remain in control. But doubt can’t rob you of happiness. Humor the ego, make it a friend, and take it along for the ride.

happinessRichard Miller, PhD, founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute and yogic scholar, has written “Our desire for happiness is taking us away…. Each moment reveals the great Mystery that joy and happiness are already the case.” When we search for something outside ourselves to bring lasting happiness, we always miss the mark. When we tune in to the heart and examine what we care about, our purpose and heart’s deepest desires, we create the opportunity to engage our deeper passions.

Welcome doubt

So, don’t see self-doubt as a negative. It can be the door that opens us up to receiving messages that can enhance our lives. Invite doubt in for tea or coffee and have a doubt-filled inner dialogue. We don’t need to know things for certain. We can make peace with our doubt.

We have a choice. If you challenge beliefs that rule your life, you’ll be able to dip into the wellspring of your True Self where love resides. Let doubt—and your ego—be your powerful friend, not your controlling enemy.

Find happiness. Be love. Be your true self.

Join my free iRest meditation groups held weekly on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons where you’ll find space to rest and explore this further.

heartfelt goals

10 Steps to Heartfelt Goals!

We all start each new year off with good intentions, yet studies show that while 50% of people are initially optimistic about their goals, only 12% actually fulfill them. If you’re part of the other 88% there is still time to transform those resolutions into reality. I’d like to share 10 steps based on current brain research to get you on the pathway to achieving what you truly want, what I refer to as our “heartfelt goals.”

The root of the word resolution, or resolve, originates with the Latin “resolvere,” which means to unfasten, loosen, release. In order to hold our goals firm and steadfast to their ultimate resolution, we also must remove the obstacles that prevent them from manifesting. Beyond the specific intention or goal is our “heartfelt desire, which motivates and fuels us to keep us moving toward our goals.

1.  Prepare your mind:

If you haven’t already done so, quickly write down the first 10 goals that pop into your mind. Once you’ve completed this process – tear it up. Really! This clears your mind of old ideas or beliefs tied to old behaviors. Then get up and stretch, shake your body and walk around the room. Finally, sit down and
YAWN…..several times! This helps you to create a beginners mind allowing you to tune into your insight and intuition. Studies show these techniques provide the best way to calm an over active mind and heighten consciousness.

2. What is your heart’s deepest desire?

Take time to open your heart to find what you truly care about and what matters to you. Continue questioning and see what words or phrases bubble up from the heart. Repeat them silently and aloud. Continue to do this for a week until you have it fully formulated with a heart-felt sense of what matters to you.

3. Select goals

Based on your deepest heart’s desire, ask yourself, “What are three deepest desires or goals that I can realistically achieve by the end of the year?” Not just what you desire, but what you know you have the wherewithal to fulfill. This is one of the most important questions you can ask as it changes the nature of your resolutions or goals based on a deeper purpose aligned with the real you.

4. Make a commitment

For each goal ask, “Am I 100 percent willing to commit to achieving this goal?” If there any doubts, simplify or modify it.

5. Envision your resolutions or goals

With your Heartfelt Desire in mind, examine each goal addressing:

*  Good things that will happen as a result of the goal
vision of a clear and positive outcome
*  One or two obstacles that could get in the way.
*  Counter strategies to address the obstacles to resolve them and release them.

Record this on small cards as a visual commitment. Also, create a vision board filling a poster board with words and pictures representing the outcomes you envision. Display this strategically along with your vision cards. Allow yourself to really feel this outcome from a visceral sense. Keep your vision in its feeling alive in your consciousness by reflecting on it regularly.

“We become what we think about all day long. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Share your vision or goal

Tell many people about your goal – those you trust who have your best interests in mind. Then find an accountability partner who can help you stay the course and offer encouragement when you might falter.

7. Write a detailed plan

Include step-by-step tactics you will undertake with specific dates to reach each stage of the plan. Then share it with others and accountability partner and brainstorm to make it better.

8. Keep a journal

Begin each day recording three things you are grateful for. This sets up a positive attitude for the day. At the end of the day record three things you did well, and explain why. Make this your Gratitude and Accomplishment Journal – a great reflection tool to help you stay in harmony with the outcome you seek.

9. Increase your Positivity Ratio

Research has shown that when you are able to counter each negative expression you have been using in your life with three positive ones, your life will change for the better. Five or ten positives will transform your life.

10. Reward Yourself

Plan a small “prize” for accomplishing any part of a goal at the end of each week. Don’t beat yourself up even if you did nothing. Crush pessimism and self-doubt quickly with positive words. Be kind to yourself. There’s always another week ahead. We often take steps backwards as we are moving forwards.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how long it takes to reach your goal.
Keep your focus on your Heartfelt Desire.

I invite you to attend my weekly iRest meditation classes when we get more in sync with what’s important in our lives.

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 tosoul's reflections explore your dreams. Dreaming 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

Souls Calling

Put Your Soul’s Calling into Action

(Part 3 of a series. See also: Follow Your Soul’s Calling and
Soul Reflections on Long Winter Nights

In this articles series we’ve explored how to uncover your soul’s calling by tapping you’re your spiritual GPS system. This soul-searching process is not a one time shot, but an ongoing process. Each time you enter into this process you can go deeper and achieve more clarity.

You don’t have to wait for the low energy season of winter to do this, however. Each month at the time of the new moon (opposite the full moon) the lowered energy is conducive to doing spiritual introspection.  But just like the season of winter turns into the action oriented growing seasons of spring and summer, you have the opportunity to ride the tide of nature and put your soul-searching into action so you can fulfill your soul’s calling.

When you’ve done your inner work you are ready to take the next step in deciding how you want your life to look and what you need to do to make that happen in 2010. Engage your GPS to design an overarching theme that speaks to your soul’s calling for what you want to accomplish in the coming year.

Anchor your calling

Create a phrase, like an affirmation or mantra, to describe the essence. My phrase is, “I find passion and meaning in life – and celebrate the “real me”!” This mantra describes how I live and the meaningful work I do in coaching, teaching, writing, and interviewing and recording people’s stories. Yours might be, “I bring passion and creativity to my work and my family.” “I care for my spirit with healthy eating and yoga practice.” “My work helps make the world a better place.” “Everyday I find meaning and love in my life.”

You may want to strategically place an object, photograph, or the phrase itself as a reminder to keep you focused on your calling. Start and end your day with this phrase and think of it periodically during the day, especially when handling challenges, to help you stay focused on your dreams and goals.

Create an action plan

1.    Start with the end in mind. Write down what you really want. Be specific – desired weight, income, job description, debt-reduction plan, vacation, etc.

2.   Put in time-frames for achieving your goals or dreams.

3.   Use visual and auditory cures to keep you focused: anchors, motivational or spiritual CD’s. Sharing with supportive friends.

Accountability factor
Most people never achieve their goals and dreams. The real challenge is in maintaining accountability. Who or what will help you stay true to your goals so you can welcome opportunities and live true to your inner guidance? Most of us need others to provide support and cheer us on. A spouse, partner, sibling, friend, coach or counselor can help you stay on course.

When you work with your spiritual GPS system to connect with your heart’s desire for your soul’s calling, you create an inner accountability. You think it, feel it, breathe it and live it. When you follow your soul’s calling, you know that you and your life matters, and that you make a difference every day.

Let the coming year be the time you choose to start anew. You have a clean slate to make a fresh start. You are the inventor of your life. What do you aspire to this year? May it be true to the real you!

Questions to ponder

*   Do you know your calling?

*   Hare you anchored it?

*   Do you have a plan?

*   Have you established a support/accountablity system?

If not, let’s talk. Your future begins NOW.

(Part 3 of a series. See also: Follow Your Soul’s Calling and
Soul Reflections on Long Winter Nights