I am enough

I Am Enough

Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW wrote in “Rising Strong,” “To embrace and love who we are we have to reclaim and reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve orphaned over the years.” Those orphaned parts are stored in the library of our false beliefs of lack and limitation, feeling separate. Judging and comparing ourselves, our bodies and the lives we live to others all have the common root of “I’m not good enough.”

In this meditation we will select books from this library of not enoughness and open to deep inquiry and the opportunity for integration into the authentic being and wholeness of “I am enough.”Continue reading

New Year's Blessing - 2023 - Larry Robinson

New Year’s Blessing

May this poem and blessing enlighten and inspire you as you venture into a new year. With wisdom and grace, Larry Robinson’s poem holds many contractions and heartaches of our world with wisdom and grace.

At the end I offer you a guided year-end meditation from a recent live group session for you to gather your own year-end reflections.

New Year’s Blessing

A year of loss and chaos draws to a close.

Stories from a thousand cultures remind us that the cosmos is born – and reborn again and again – from chaos.

We have passed the darkest night of the year but the light only returns slowly.

The old order has passed as well but the new is not yet apparent.

Life does renew itself and new forms emerge as old ones pass away.

It has always been this way.

For all the misery of the past year, we have also seen astounding acts of beauty and courage and generosity.

This liminal space we inhabit is a time to dream, to imagine and to plan.

There are times when seemingly small acts can have out-size impacts.

I believe that we are in one of these times – actually a hopeful time, a time of possibilities.

Cynicism is as perilous a path as naïveté.

Hope is a choice, not a feeling; we create it through our actions and through our words.

At this turning of the wheel I invite and challenge you to dream grandly of the world you wish to bequeath, to proclaim it proudly and boldly and to join with your brothers and sisters to take the practical steps to make it real.

Remember that every act of kindness bends the arc of our shared life toward love.

Unhurried mornings, greeted with gratitude;

good work for the hand, the heart and the mind;

the smile of a friend, the laughter of children;

kind words from a neighbor, a home dry and warm.

Food on the table, with a place for the stranger;

a glimpse of the mystery behind every breath;

some time of ease in the arms of your lover;

then sleep with a prayer of thanks on your lips;

May all this and more be yours this year

and every year after to the end of your days.

Larry Robinson

One more poem to reflect on from Angela Farmer, a gifted yoga teacher who lives on an island in Greece.

              The Necklace

 

She gathers up the shattered pieces 

From those dark and dusty corners   

              of her past.

 

She strings them on a thread-

            as long as her life

And touches each one in the soft moon light . . . 

 

All the pains and fears,

           All the loss and failures

She arranges amongst the pearls of her beauty,

    the diamonds of her friendships

    and the sparkling gems of her success in life.

 

Yet in her woman’s heart,

She notices . . . 

        those broken pieces glow more deeply-

        those broken pieces glow more deeply.

 

Lovingly she ties the string around her neck. 

connection in nature

Being Aware: Live Joyously, Drunkenly, Divinely

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” —Henry Miller

Are you aware of all the thoughts in your mind at this moment? One research study revealed that humans experience as many as 60,000 thoughts each day, one for every second of waking life. Thoughts are like corn kernels popping in our consciousness one after the other. Most of our thoughts are transient and many are recurring. But thoughts are only one thing that occupies our attention. Feelings, sensations, memories, and perceptions all intermingle with our thoughts. Behind all of this activity in the mind is an infinite stillness. Being aware of this stillness can have a profound effect on our lives.

Out to lunch

worm on leafEach part of nature knows what its job is, usually performs it to perfection, and amazingly, knows to do it. Take, for example, a worm patiently edging and nosing and fitting a fallen leaf into its hole for a later meal. It’s totally present to its experience and doesn’t dillydally. The worm ultimately may become lunch for a robin, or be consumed by lesser creatures after it dies naturally. Either way, it’s lived in simple awareness and purposely fulfilled itself. Worms, robins, and the rest of the animal kingdom live purposeful lives, are never absent-minded or “out to lunch.”

We humans are an exception to most of nature. We are born as fully present, curious creatures wholly absorbed in each moment. As we grow and adapt to our world, we learn to create boundaries and determine where to direct our attention while the outside world bombards us with way more than we can possibly focus on. At the same time, a continuous flow of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions floods our minds, keeping us separate from our present circumstances.

robin with wormWhile working on writing this article, I watched YouTube videos of a worm going about its business and then a robin snatching it up, and my imagination took flight. I wondered what it might feel like to be the bird and the worm in these circumstances. I was repulsed by the worm’s demise but immediately felt a pang of hunger and wondered what I would have for lunch, and then I thought about what I needed to prepare for a picnic/concert I was going to that evening. Then the phone rang. Confronted with something of more urgency, my writing project got pushed aside. At that point I realized that I’d been unfocused and “out to lunch” for a good part of the afternoon.

Being occupied

occupied with TextingWhen I was growing up we didn’t have many activities to engage in outside of school, though we had lots of free time to play with friends, be creative, and explore. By contrast, the lives of today’s children are often highly structured with many activities. For most kids, school is demanding and parents and society push them to achieve. Beyond school, they may play sports and take music and dance lessons, where the performance pressure can also be intense. In what little spare time they have, a large majority of youngsters are engrossed in social media, playing video games, texting, shopping online, or surfing on the web—oblivious to the presence of family and friends. Spending time just being, playing for enjoyment, or just thinking is virtually unheard of among youth today.

Of course, adults are not immune to this busyness obsession. We are conditioned to be constantly doing. Even practicing yoga can become just another form of doing rather than being a way to experience inner peace and awareness. The idea that our happiness and fulfillment are only achieved through engagement with the outside world has become the norm. We don’t know how to tap in to an internal sense of being, much less be aware. And why should we?

Realm of awareness

The truth is that true peace, happiness, and love can only be found internally. Searching outside always falls short and never offers long-lasting joy. Recall any situation that brought you happiness or exhilaration—a roller-coaster ride, first kiss, landing the ideal job. The feeling—real as it was at the time—eventually faded.

Take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I aware?” You may be mildly aware of your body, the flow of your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, and the sights and sounds around you. But what is the source of that awareness? Free yourself to be an observer.

Being aware, said philosopher and writer D.L. Harding, is “living from one’s space instead of from one’s face.” Living from one’s space means bringing attention and presence to everything we experience in life. The result is that we do a better job with whatever we engage in, and with more ease and joy. Fear, pain, and life challenges lose their intensity. We experience more peace and serenity and heighten our capacity to meet whatever life presents responsibly.

Becoming divinely aware

Let’s face it, it’s practically impossible for us humans to eliminate our thoughts, memories, and perceptions, which cloud our true awareness. In fact, we don’t need to get rid of anything. Instead, we can welcome whatever shows up in our awareness. At the same time, we can learn to move our attention beneath the veiled surface of the mind and body to a place where we find stillness that is changeless.

sensory-gardenThere are many ways to get to that stillness. Formal mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation help us align with this deepest core of our being. We can also practice by simply listening with all our senses. This can be done while walking or practicing pranayama (breathing techniques). Slipping into a warm bath helps to access awareness. I find that the Chicago Botanic Gardens is a good place to practice cultivating stillness and awareness, especially in the wonderful Sensory Garden. There you experience being fully aware while seeing, touching, and smelling everything you encounter—plants like soft furry lamb’s ear and fragrances of curry and dark-maroon chocolate cosmos! You experience how deeply rooted nature is in stillness.

Try this exercise: Look at an object in front of you. See it in its entirety—shape, color, texture, etc. Then soften your gaze and take in the whole landscape before you without paying attention to any one thing. Try this with your eyes closed, concentrating on hearing just one sound, and then allow the whole spectrum of sounds to permeate your awareness. When thoughts and feelings arise, set them free. As a witness, experience all that is present, and then allow deep stillness and peace to encompass you. See your core of awareness shining out as your true Self–God’s infinite being.

Broaden and deepen your awareness in all you do—work, play, experiencing solitude. Rupert Spira, spiritual teacher, author, and potter, has written, “When doing slows down, the thinking that is at its origin is exposed; when thinking dissolves, the feeling that is behind it is uncovered; when feeling subsides, the Being that is at its heart is revealed.”

Being aware is like inhabiting a home built for living and loving, which has no room for hurts, fears, or regrets. Inhabit this home and let yourself become joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware!

I invite you to attend my free iRest meditations on Sunday morning or Thursday afternoon.

inner world of being

Being of Both Worlds

Isn’t it amazing how one day of your life goes along smoothly, maybe even effortlessly, then the next day you feel overwhelmed by challenges? Conflicts arise. You can’t get a handle on things, there’s not enough time, you can’t think of a solution. Your life–indeed your world–may seem like it’s out of control. In these times, there is another world that you can access. A world of being. Continue reading

Soul's currency

Invest Your Soul’s Currency

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. Thus began a new exploration in learning about our soul’s currency, and how to invest it.

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.

Love: 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.

Taking 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.

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

Soul's currency and brain scienceResearchers 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.

We 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!

I invite you to attend my weekly iRest meditation classes when we get more in touch with our inner truths that help us determine how to invest our soul’s currency.

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

Your passions

Follow Your Soul’s Calling

Part 1 of a series. See also: Soul Reflections for Long Winter Nights
and Put your Soul’s Calling into Action

 

It’s not just a new year but a new decade as well. Life is waiting with new opportunities for you. You have a choice to live more aligned with the real you and what your soul is calling you to do, or stay on the same course as before. This is an important checkpoint to ask: What’s happened for you over the last decade? What have you accomplished and what have you missed?

It’s also a time to ask what do you really WANT for your life? What’s the REAL story? What’s your DREAM? What are you doing with your life? These are questions I want you to consider as you read this series of articles.

In the vast immensity of the universe, our existence is like a mere spark – hardly noticeable. Yet there is a Divine spark that animates us all. In the words of Jane Goodall, You make a difference every day. You matter and life is important.It’s never too late to make a life course correction or even move in a whole new direction and make a difference in your small part of the world.

What is your Soul’s calling?
Metaphorically speaking, your soul holds your deepest truths. It’s your authentic self that often lies beneath layers of excess baggage that weighs you down and holds you back from realizing an abundant life – a life that is true to your dreams. It’s the part of you that cries out to maximize your gifts and talents. It’s the expression of your deepest purpose and your heart’s desire. It’s also home to your spiritual GPS.

Tap your spiritual GPS
You have an inner guidance system, your spiritual GPS,  that holds the truth about who you really are at your core. This system connects to your Higher Power and provides instructions and guidelines for making better choices that will lead you down rewarding pathways. However, it can’t really speak to you if your dark inner closets are cluttered with unfulfilled dreams, unmet goals, long-lasting hurts and regrets. Brush off the cobwebs of those dreams and goals and examine them in the light for future potential.

Hurts and regrets can require an ongoing process of forgiveness work – for yourself and others. The more you do this work, the easier you are able to adapt to future situations. Adaptation is an important trait for navigating our modern, changing world. I was in a very loving relationship for several years, one that seemed destined for life. Then suddenly it was over. This experience challenged me to walk my talk. After all, if I teach others to live every precious moment, then I must do the same. Within a remarkably short time, I was able to restore myself to wholeness — with cherished memories and no regrets. Doing the inner work frees you to live a fuller and more meaningful life.

Questions to Ponder

*    Do you want to discover your soul’s calling in the coming year?
*    Have you cleared the clutter of unfulfilled dreams, unmet goals and long-lasting hurts?
*    Are you ready to use your spiritual GPS to gain guidance in discovering your heart’s desire?

Read next in series: Soul Reflections on a Long Winter’s Night