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Friday, December 3, 2010

Do your actions match your goals?

You hear it all the time, in so many situations. A friend, a loved one, and perhaps even you, say something like "I really need to save money", or "I really need to get out of this relationship", or even, "I'm going to start my own business". And how many times have you seen the person saying that just continuing to do the same things as always? This brings up an interesting question. Do your actions take you further towards your goals, or further away from them? Most people say those comments with the best intentions, but intentions are not actions. When it comes down to the action part, we see them fall away of what they said they wanted so passionately. Looking at it from the outside, we see it so very clearly, but with them looking at it from the inside, it is much more difficult to see the reasons why their goals and their actions don't match.

As I've often said, the hardest part of spiritual growth is admitting the things about yourself that you don't like. The ego doesn't want to hear that we are afraid, or angry, or jealous, or anything other than we are doing just fine! Looking into the mirror and admitting to yourself that you are not perfect may seem like an easy thing to do, but it is quite difficult when you actually have to do it. When you find that your actions are not leading you towards your goals, you must look inside and say "What about me is keeping me from my goals?" If it is a relationship, it's simply "What about me is staying in this relationship when I know it isn't fulfilling for me?" If it's money, it may be "What about me has trouble saving money?", or "What about me creates bad spending habits?". The answer is always inside of us, and the number one answer is usually fear. Fear can paralyze us from doing even the simplest of things, even if we want desperately to do it. You must remember, that doing the right thing, is very rarely doing the easiest thing. So what scares you? Being alone? Not having the security of a bank account? Not being able to be successful? On the surface as you read this, it may seem pretty silly that those things can get in the way of your goals, but when you are actually going through it, you will find your insecurities will be on the front lines, and those fears become very real.

How then, do you get past that fear and get back on track for your goals? Again, the first thing is to find out what about you is preventing you from moving forward. Let's say you are in a relationship, but you feel unfulfilled. You know it is not the best relationship for you to be in. So, you start making excuses on why you should stay. And maybe you feel that the relationship is better than being alone. Notice that you are only focused on one part of the equation. It is not all about THAT relationship, but also, the millions of possibilities that the Universe offers. A thought process such as "Who is waiting out there for me that cannot see me because I am with this person?" can start to open your mind to the infinite number of possibilities that exist out there. Another way of saying the same thing is "What am I missing while I waste my time here?" Once you put the power back within you, you can create the change you seek in your life. When you start thinking about the better things that exist out there, your fear is overcome, because you start to look at the benefits of leaving, instead of the insecurities.

Remember that fear is just misguided intention. It's when we focus more on what could happen, than what we want to happen. When you make a strong choice in what you want to achieve, and stand by that choice, then fear dissipates, and the positive change starts to manifest in your life. So, take a few minutes and write down some of your immediate goals, then see if you actions are bringing you closer or farther away from those goals. If you find that your actions do not match your goals, identify why that is, overcome that obstacle, make a strong, committed choice, and get back on the path to your goals. When you look back in the rear view mirror, you'll wonder why you weren't doing this all along.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Question of the week: How to have better meditations at home

Q- Why can't I meditate at home like I do in a class setting?

A-  That's a great question, and one that I get frequently.  The answer is actually pretty simple.  When you go to a class, or go to a guided meditation, or any other function where you know you are going to do a group meditation, you put your mind in a position to concentrate on what you are there for.  Because you are leaving your house, driving to a location, and then looking forward to the event once you get there, your mind is already looking forward to the meditation to come.  When you are at home, you have a plethora of other things on your mind, if you're like most people on this earth.  When to pick up the kids, what to make for dinner, do you have time to run to the grocery store, and when you think about meditation, you are trying to "squeeze it in" in your mind.  Unfortunately, the mind fits this in with all the other "chores" that you have to do, and your meditation will suffer.

Remember, meditation is actually great concentration.  If your mind is believing that this is something that you have to fit into your day, then the meditation does not have your full, undivided, attention.  When you go out to do a meditation, your mind is only focused on that; going to do a meditation.  The kids have been picked up, you went to the grocery store, and now the only thing you want to do is go and do this meditation.  You are focused.  And, since then you enter the proper environment to meditate (usually group meditations are filled with beautiful energy, and the place where the meditation is going to be held is set up in Zen fashion.), your mind and body are focused and ready.

So, the answer to your question is easy.  You must create your meditation space.  Find a place in your house that you can set up a small area.  It doesn't have to be very large, but put some of your spiritual items in here.  Set the stage for your small spiritual space.  Cleanse it, feel it, and breathe it in.  Create and feel the sense of peace you have in your new meditation space.  This is the first step.  You may also use incense, candles, and even music in your space.  Be careful not to make the music too loud, as you are not supposed to be focused on the music, but it should blend in the background of the ambiance.

Once you have your space, the next step is to find time to meditate.  Try to find a time where you can do your meditation everyday.  Whether it's first thing in the morning, or the last thing you do before bed, having a specific time to do your meditation helps, because you get into a routine.  Once in a routine, if you break the routine, you feel a bit weird about it.  This will keep you on track, and continue your meditation practice.  This does not need to be the ONLY time of the day that you meditate, but it is the minimum required work.  My teacher always said that you must meditate for 40 days without missing a day before you can be in the habit of meditation.  Once in the habit, it is very difficult to break.  If on the 38th day you forget, or skip it, the 40 days starts all over.  Also, do not set a time limit on how long you are going to meditate.  As long as you do it at the same time every day, if it lasts 5 minutes or 65 minutes, it is fine.  Quality of meditation is much better than quantity of meditation.  Sitting in your thoughts for 25 minutes isn't going to help the process, but 5 minutes in a good, healthy meditation will do quite a bit for you.

Lastly, get yourself comfortable.  I HIGHLY recommend the use of a zafu.  A zafu is a pillow of sorts, usually made out of buckwheat, or kapok, that you sit on during meditation.  I find the buckwheat hulls are the best for me, but every one's taste varies.  What a zafu does, is it raises the hips above the level of the knees, which opens up your spine, and with that, your energy pathways.  You can see what I mean by

clicking here.

 Notice that his knees are quite a bit below the level of his hips. When you sit on the bare floor, you actually start to close your energy centers and spine.  You can do this on a chair to feel the difference.  Sit on a chair with your feet on the ground in front of you.  Your knees are bent, and your feet are flush to the floor.  Now, move your feet back behind the chair, letting your knees drop, and feel the difference on your back.  Feel your energy centers open up, and your spine come into alignment.  The zafu does the same thing, plus, it will be much more comfortable on longer meditations.

This should get you on your way to better meditations at home!  It really is only a change in the thought process.  When you realize that you are in charge of your meditations, you will be able to start to meditate anywhere, even in the most distracting of environments!  Good luck!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Entitled Society

Sorry for my hiatus. I've been meditating about a lot of things lately, and the same thing keeps popping up into my head, on TV, in the papers, and on the streets. There is such an amazing sense of entitlement in the world today. With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, and people giving thanks for the things they have in their lives, it seems like the time to call out to the world to stop the idea of entitlement.

You are not entitled to anything on this planet. You are not entitled to anything at work, in the financial markets, in housing or education, or anything else this world has to offer. What this means, is that no matter what you have, you should be grateful for it, even if it's just a small studio apartment with barely any furniture in it. You are not entitled to more; do not think you are.

In the early stages of the United States, when the colonists came, it was a dual edged sword. They thought they were entitled to the land here, even though it was already occupied by the American Indians. On the other hand, they (as well as the Indians) built strong communities based on what the needs of the community were, not on the needs of the individual. If you did not help build your shelter, then you had no shelter. You were not entitled to shelter just because you were there. If you did not go out and look for food, hunt for food, or work in the fields to cultivate food, then you ate no food. You were not entitled to it. The idea was, you either work for it, or you don't get it. That idea in the USA is long gone.

If you want more, then you have to go out and get more. Not by stealing, not by begging, and certainly not by expecting others to get it for you. You need to go out there and work for it. You are entitled to nothing on this earth. Instead of thinking how you always want more, you should be aware that you could always have less. What a difference in thinking that is, to realize that all that you have now, may be the most you ever have, and while you're out there telling everyone how much more you deserve, what would happen if you lost what you already have?

Gratitude is not in wanting. It is only in what is here and now. I've seen cancer patients, who undergo horrible treatment, making them so very weak and ill, just to be able to spend a few more weeks with their loved ones, and they are grateful for the time. Imagine, all that you want right now, and somewhere someone is hoping just for a few more days with their spouse, their child, or their friend. Gratitude is the present moment. It must lie within us, and must be one of our highest priorities. How many of you have said thank you recently just for the ability to read this? For your eyesight, your hearing, the ability to see the sunset, or hear a child's laughter? To be able to touch the face of your loved one, and have the fingers and hands to do that with?

The world is becoming such a reactionary and greedy society. The idea of "me" at all costs, no matter who it hurts. I have a great deal of compassion for those individuals out there so blind to the ways of the world, so blind to their own responsibilities on this world, those creating unwanted Karma in this world, instead of erasing it. It is with much compassion that I write this, calling out to the world to awaken. You are not entitled to anything. And when you are truly grateful for what you have, and I mean heartfelt gratitude for what you have, you will realize that you don't need anything else. One of the first questions that I ask people when I work with them is, "If your life never changes from what it is right now; your relationship status, job status, living status would never change, would you be happy?" And nearly 100% of the time the answer is "no". Well, this just may be the pinnacle of your life. You may look back at this time in the future and wish you had what you have now. So, if your answer is "no", then your job is to find a way to be happy inside with where you are now. Because you are not entitled to anything else, and there's no guarantee that you'll have tomorrow what you have today.

It's time to wake up. It's time we help the world wake up. It is up to us on the path to bring peace and joy to the world, and awaken it to a new way to see things. I am committed to this act. So, this Thanksgiving, take some time to reevaluate where you are, and what is important to you. Go a step beyond giving thanks for your food (knowing that the food you throw away is more than what 60% of the world eats), and to really, truly look inside yourself and say "thank you", for being here, for breathing (without difficulty), and for being open to all the amazing possibilities that the Universe can offer you. And know, that your happiness does not come from anything outside yourself. It is all within you.

Peace and Love to all my readers. Thank you for reading, and thank you for being patient in my absence.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Question of the week- How can I fight off desperation?

Q- How do you keep up positive thoughts when things appear desperate?

A- First off, I want to say that if you truly feel your situation is desperate, then please, reach out and get some one on one help. Whether with a clinical psychologist, or a spiritual teacher, it is of the upmost importance that you talk more about this other than through a blog site. I am available if you would like to work with me, but again, find someone and open up.

Now, to your question. Usually when things get desperate, it is because we have been going down the wrong path for a while. We have been shown our lesson, and our path, but have decided to continue going down the path that we want to go down. It then becomes like walking against the current of a river. The key to turning this around, (and also turning yourself around), is by creating a different thought process. And the main thought process, is stop asking yourself "why", and start asking yourself "what" and "how". Instead of asking why this is happening to you, and creating the victim mentality, start asking yourself what you can do to move out of this situation, or how can you make things better. Remember, even if something bad happens to you, you are only a victim for the instant that happens. Every action of yours after that is something you have control over. But if you chose to stay in the victim role, you will not be able to move forward. Also, instead of focusing on what you don't have, start taking a hard look at what you do have. Again, this is just reprogramming your mind to stop focusing on the negative, and turning your thoughts to the positive. Even if there is only the smallest bit of something positive around you, focus solely on that then, instead of the negative. You'll find that you can see many positive things in your life if you choose to look in that direction.

If anything else, remember this: You are alive. You are here, and you are a beautiful, intricate part of the divine order. And today is a day where anything can happen. Fear is just us focusing on what could happen, instead of what we want to happen, so start focusing on what you want to happen, as long as it's from your highest self. In other words, don't want something bad to happen to someone else, because those thoughts will only come back on us tenfold. Your highest self does not think in terms of greed, revenge, or materialistic things. Our highest self only concerns itself with peace, love, joy, and equanimity. If you want to see love in your world, then bring love into your world. Everything can change, but it has to start with you. If you want a different outcome, you must do something different yourself.

This is obviously a difficult time in your life, but remember that it is only temporary. Things can get better starting today, but look for the change you seek inside yourself first. If you change what is inside, you will begin to see the change on the outside as well. And again, please, find some help. Talk to someone that can help you work through this stage you are in. Writing a question to me is a good first step, but having someone to work with on a regular basis can increase the speed of healing. If I can do anything, please contact me and I will do whatever I can to help. Love and light to you, you wonderful spiritual being!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Controlling stress with breath work

Ah, the holidays are upon us. For many, this time of year creates a lot of stress in their lives. As my readers know, nothing exterior can cause an internal reaction unless you let it. So, what is stress? Stress is an emotional reaction within to an external circumstance. In other words, it doesn't exist. You cannot take a can and go capture stress. It is within us, based on our reactions to a situation. And since we control our reactions, then we can control stress. But, needless to say, many people still do not do this. So, how can you start getting a peaceful reaction to your surroundings and eliminate stress? The very first rule seems simple, but it is always overlooked. Don't forget to breathe!! Our respiration controls our body systems. If we increase our respiratory rate, our heart rate will increase, along with our blood pressure, and if we keep increasing the rate, eventually your hands will cramp up and you will pass out. It's called hyperventilation syndrome, and once it starts, it is very hard to control. On the other hand, when we breathe rhythmically with controlled deep breaths, we lower both our heart rates and blood pressure, and we can create a sense of peace.

When people get stressed, they tend to hold it in a particular area; their foreheads, chest, legs, and some even start moving their feet or hands to combat the stress. It is important to identify where you hold your stress, so you can work on releasing it. The other thing that happens, is we lose track of our respiration. The pattern that develops is small, shallow breaths, usually with a period of holding that breath in between. If you consider 100% a good, full, deep breath, then the situation above would be about 33% of a normal, controlled breath. This is subconscious in nature, but it actually adds to the anxiety of the stress. The body knows something is wrong, even though consciously, you are not aware that your breathing pattern has changed. So now, you can start seeing a pattern in my teaching. As always, the first thing you need to do to be able to change your respiratory pattern, and change the stressful reaction, is to be aware that you are holding stress, and breathing improperly. Only when you are aware can you change your environment. (Have you heard that before?) Once you are aware, then simply exhale, and exhale fully, relaxing your body along the way. When you do this, it will feel really good! The tension is suddenly gone, and the body relaxes. Now you can take control of your breathing.

There are many different breath exercises to do, but this one is one of my favorites, and it is by far the easiest to teach, and easiest for the student to do. Breathe in through your nose for about 4 seconds, counting the seconds in your head. (you can use one, one thousand, two, one thousand, etc as a guide). You can shorten this or lengthen the time if you need to, but 4 seconds is a good time period. Then, hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale through your mouth, controlled for 4 seconds, and finally, don't inhale for 4 seconds after you fully exhale. This end part is the most important part of the exercise, as the body is in its most still position. Notice the feeling that you have when you have exhaled fully. After a few times, you will notice that you do not need to take a breath in right away. That's good. Just sit in the emptiness. Feel it. Experience it. This is where you will find your calm, and alleviate your stress. Do not pay attention to any thoughts that pop into your head. If thoughts come in, start breathing again, concentrating on the counting of the seconds. That is why we do that, to concentrate on something other than the runaway thoughts in your brain. After a while, you will notice that you are not counting anymore, yet you are not thinking of anything. Welcome to a meditative state! This is a great exercise to do on a regular basis, but it also is something simple you can do anytime you feel stressed. Combine this with relaxing your muscles when you exhale, and you will feel a calm, relaxed state. Stay here for a while, and then continue with your activities.

When you control your breathing, you control your body systems, and you will find a calm place inside of you. When you are calm on the inside, nothing outside can create the "stress" within you, since that place is already filled with calm. Remember, an external situation only effects you if you let it. If you approach the situation with calm from deep within you, then your reaction to the situation will be calm. If you react from an emotional or egotistical place, then your reaction will be filled with stress and dis-comfort. Know that you have a choice. Practicing good breath work will continuously keep you in a calm place.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taking responsibility for your actions

It's interesting that I'm going to write about something that should be a very basic concept, yet I'm going to write about it anyway. It's a simple matter of taking responsibility for your actions. When you always live from your highest self, taking responsibility is easy. It is easy to admit mistakes, because we all make them, and we are all constantly growing. But there are many who find it difficult to admit their mistakes, and take responsibility for their actions, as I have found out twice this week by people in my immediate circle. Remember, the ego is always in a defensive position. It is always trying to reinforce the idea that you are "right", and sometimes, it goes the path of proving that simply by not admitting that you were "wrong". In other words, if you did something wrong, as long as you don't admit to it, then you're not wrong. That is the trick of the ego, to always prevent something from happening "to" you, while it shuns your responsibility in a given situation. You are only responsible, and have control of, your actions and reactions. If you're reaction from a situation is to deny your responsibility, then you are not coming from your highest self.

How do you know when this is happening? Well, the easiest tip off, is when confronted on something that you did, you start to tell the other person what they could do to make the situation better. The lesson here is simple, if you screw something up, you fix it. By telling someone else what they could do to make the situation better, your ego is denying responsibility, because the ego never wants you to be wrong. It is absolutely amazing what happens when you say "Yep! It was my fault, what can I do to make it better?" The situation immediately becomes peaceful. There is no more anxiety between the parties, and a peaceful resolution can be found. You have also come from your highest self and bypassed your ego, and you'll find it's not that hard to do! This is a tremendous step in growth! I've said before, that one of the hardest parts of spiritual growth is admitting all the things about yourself that you don't like, and that's including that you have done things wrong in your past. And chances are, if you are addressing that concern, it is because you didn't fully take responsibility for those actions. Sometimes it is not pleasant to admit you made a mistake, or screwed something else, or your actions hurt someone else, but that is simply the ego. If you take it as a learning experience, and openly admit to what your responsibility was, you begin to find a beautiful peace, and that peace will continuously make it easier to take responsibility for your actions next time.

The dis-comfort that we feel when we are arguing over something we did, and we try to tell the others what they could do to make it better, is not caused by the situation itself, but by our reaction to the situation. You will always experience some sort of dis-comfort when you are not coming from your highest self. It is our soul pointing out to us that we need to address something. Again, when you feel pain in your knee if you injure it, it is your body telling you to pay attention to that area and fix it before you keep walking on it. The same is true in a spiritual sense. When you feel that discomfort, it is your consciousness telling you to pay attention to your actions and reactions, because there is something not right with it. If you are open to this energy, you will find it's a perfect road map to overcome ego, and it starts with taking responsibility for your actions.

Don't be afraid. It is absolutely 100% ok to make mistakes. We all do it, and we will continue to do it until we reach that enlightened state. And while admitting to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions will propel you down your path, not taking responsibility and making it about something or someone else will only prevent you from walking farther down your path. And your ego will keep you firmly planted where you are until you overcome it. "I'm sorry" can be the most powerful sentence you've ever spoken, both for you and for the other parties involved.

Laugh, love, learn, and enjoy the process. You will make mistakes, but they are only pointers to show you the correct way to go. Enjoy them, learn from them, and realize that they are a part of spiritual growth. And when you can openly admit to them, you will find a beautiful peace in yourself and your surroundings.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Question of the week: How long should I meditate?

Q- How long do you recommend meditating each day?

A- That's a great question, and it's a question that is asked a lot when I teach meditation. The simplest of answers is: There is no recommended time. While some say you should have a time frame in mind, I feel that once you start putting your thoughts on "time" (Which, technically, doesn't exist), then you start putting outside influence on your internal process. The fact is, I will always take QUALITY of meditation, over QUANTITY. As I tell my beginners , if they get to sit in their emptiness for only 10-15 seconds, that is much better than sitting in your thoughts for 30 minutes.

There are going to be days where you can seemingly meditate forever. I love those days. With a strong meditative practice, you can find yourself meditating for as long as you want to. But even in that practice, you may have days where you just can't get out of your own head. Even if the thoughts are good, positive, affirming thoughts, you are still in your thoughts. And unless you are doing a positive affirmation meditation, then that's really not the goal. So your meditation on those days may only be 10 minutes. It can be frustrating when the day before you were having a great 45 minute meditation, and the next day you can't "get there". Unfortunately, that adds to the anxiousness, and you start thinking about how you can't get there, and soon, you are swimming in your thoughts. On days like that when you can't get out of your own head, I really recommend starting a positive affirmation meditation, keeping your thoughts positive, and then coming out of your meditation. If you can find a minute or two to be in your emptiness, then that is better than nothing.

If you are just starting off, don't have any expectations of what it is supposed to be. Just go through your meditation and approach it with focus and concentration. If you are able to get to that place of emptiness for a few minutes, then expand on that next time. But don't set a time frame, or a schedule, as that takes away from the idea of what you're there to do to begin with. If you are an "expert", then simply let your inner self talk to you. You will know when you are done. But most of all, just enjoy the experience. Getting frustrated with meditation will never lead you to better meditations.

The only thing that I will say about "time", is that you do try to set a time to do your meditation. Not a specific time, like 11:06am, but after breakfast, or before bed. Just something that you can put into a routine, so that it becomes part of who you are, instead of something on your list of things to do for the day. In the long run, you'll get much more out of it. So, that's about it! Thanks for the question!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Seeing with different eyes.

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted. I've been working on trying to do a video blog, and I should have one up shortly. In the mean time, I've watched a lot of people around me being very opinionated about a lot of things recently, ranging from big stuff, to little stuff. One thing I've really noticed, is that whether it's big stuff, or little stuff, it most certainly is their stuff. They are only able to see the world through their own eyes, and thus, can only see a situation from their own reality.

This is actually a quite normal function of most the population of the world. And it stands to reason, that if a person who always has life go their way meets up with a person who always seems to have life go against them, neither one of them would be able to see the others point of view. The person with the good "luck" would tell the other person how to change their life around, while the person with the bad luck would debate those ideas with all the things that go wrong in their life. This is a simple cause and effect because the person with all the good luck has never been in the person with bad luck's shoes, and vice versa, so how can you possibly know any better?

As I've said before, it is not for you to understand everything in the world, but to accept that others are not you is very important. It is also just as important to realize that you are not anyone else. This concept will help fight jealousy and envy, when you realize that what is for you is for you. But it is very important for you to be OPEN. Open to the Universe around you, open to ideas and situations that are not your own, and open to the fact that others may not share your ideas, views, or opinions. This does not make anyone right or wrong. Only ego says that to you. And more than that, if you are not open, then you have a great possibility of getting "stuck" right where you are.

The best example of this is in a relationship. If you've only ever known bad relationships, when one comes along that is better than the others, it is easy to stick to that relationship because compared to the others, it is good. But all relationships stand on their own. A person is either good for you, or they are not good for you. At some point you have to come to a realization of what you deem acceptable in your life, and how you feel you would like to be treated by others. Unfortunately, without being open to the infinite possibilities that are offered to you, you may find yourself stuck in a relationship that isn't good for you, for no other reason than it is simply a little better than all your other ones. Because you are living only your version of what your reality is, and not seeing that there can be an entirely different version all together. You are fixated on looking at your situation only through your eyes. Imagine what you could see if you pull back and look from a different perspective?

Remember that the Universe dreams dreams for you that are so much greater than anything you can dream for yourself. Also remember that your opinions end within you. They have no value outside of yourself. Remember to keep your opinions directed inside. Instead of "that's a stupid TV show", it's simply "I personally don't care for that show". This way, your opinion does not lash out at anyone else.

It is very difficult sometimes to look at something with another set of eyes. Many times, the only time we can do that is when we look back on a situation and think to ourselves "What was I thinking"? Those are fresh eyes. Now, imagine that you can have those eyes in the present moment, without having to wait years to look backwards. Well, you do have those eyes, you just have to use them. They are within you, and when you look at yourself from your highest self, with love, you will see things in a different perspective. I have often found that the Universe does not give me what I want, it gives me what I need. And pretty much every time I receive it, I realize that it is exactly what I wanted all along, whether I knew it at the time or not. So don't cling to the idea of what you "need". Just know that what you truly need is coming to you. You just have to remain OPEN.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Question of the week- Spiritual advice for losing weight.

Q- Do you have any spiritual advice for losing weight?

A- Well, not spiritual advice that will magically shed pounds, but there are a lot of spiritual practices that you can put into your situation of losing weight to focus on your goal, and stay away from disappointment.

First of all, don't look at a scale. If you want to step on the scale to mark your "starting weight", that's fine, but then stay off of it. When you start focusing on a number, you start focusing on something that is outside of yourself. When you look at something external for solace, you will only be disappointed. You must continue to look inside. Go by how your clothes fit. And even then, don't pay attention to it every day. If you really, truly, have to get on a scale, don't do it any more than once every two weeks. I'd even say once a month. Focus on what you want to accomplish, not a number.

Second, understand that losing weight is a long term process. If I told you I could help you lose 30 lbs in 30 days, you'd probably be very happy with that. If I told you then, that it would take 9 months, you'd probably feel some sense of disappointment. What does time have to do with your intention to lose weight? Losing 30 lbs is losing 30 lbs. Don't put a time frame on it. Stay within the moment. An easy way to do this, and stay motivated, is make yourself a calendar each month, and every day, cross out the day. This way, you show that today, you did something. And after a while, you can see that you have been continuing a good habit, and accomplishing your goal. If you combine looking at the scale and the calendar, soon you will feel like giving up, because you won't feel like things are happening fast enough for you. Crossing off the days means that every day, you will do something to move closer to your goal. Stay in the moment.

Lastly, know in your heart you are doing something that is good for you. If you need to do positive affirmations, then do it! When you're working out, tell yourself that you can do it! That you are losing weight. It is imperative that you keep a healthy state of mind. If you know that you are doing something that is good for you, you will be more apt to continue to do it. So make yourself know, and believe, that you are indeed doing something good for yourself.

The path to losing weight is just like the path we're walking on. It takes time, dedication, and practice. Just keep the focus within yourself, not outside of yourself. Don't set a number you want to "be", just continue your routine until you feel like you are where you would like to be, and above all, remain aware of your thoughts. Keep the negative thoughts away, and reinforce a positive state of mind.

Good luck, and thanks for the question!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Awesome Green Smoothies!!

Well, I think I may have just about perfected the Green Smoothie.... well, at least to my liking.  I was a bit nervous about drinking them, but I looked for recipes I thought I'd like, and finally came up with a combination that I call my own.  It's good, and good for you!  So, here it is:

6- medium strawberries
1-kiwi (not the skin)
Small handful of baby greens (leafy greens!)
Small handful of spinach
Small handful fresh kale greens
1/2 to 1 tblspn ground flax seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 splenda (optional.. if it's too bitter for you, try splenda!)
Optional- small handful of frozen blueberries

Blend well, for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  Add a handful of ice, blend until smooth again, and drink up!

It's packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants, but one thing to be careful of....  Go slow until you see how your body digests them.  There's lots of fiber, and it will prompt you to move your bowels, which is good.  You can increase to two a day after your body adjusts.

That's it!  Hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What is your idea of a "Spiritual Community"?

A lot of people are interested in going somewhere for a spiritual retreat. We all have different ideas of where we would like to go. Depending on what you are interested in doing, there are so many places in the world to go and forward your spiritual path. Often times, I hear people wondering why there's no "spiritual community" in their area. As I point out to them, there are many resources available to them in their own community.

But with the different ideas of what makes up a "spiritual community", I thought I would put the question to my readers. What to you would make up a spiritual community? What would you like to have in that spiritual community to be made available to you?

Please email me by clicking here to use The Garden's main email address. Tell me what you think, and I'm going to write about what I get in an upcoming blog. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Being Spiritual in tough times....

So, you're on your spiritual path. You meditate, you live in the moment, you're open to, and see abundance in your life, but what happens when things go bad? This is something I do see in people, myself included. Spirituality is easy when things are going great, but what happens to you during the tough times? For me, I find it's a time of great reflection. I like to see if there's a test in front of me, or maybe something is calling to a lesson I have not fully learned yet. What is your reaction to when things get tough? I always like to say that you see someone's character when they face adversity. Adversity can bring out the drive in people, or the worst in people. Again, it is in the way you look at things. You're world is created with your thoughts, so what are you thinking? Remember the genie on your shoulder? Are you having thoughts like "This will never work for me", or "Why are these things happening to me?" Or are you in the mindset of "what am I missing?" or "What can I do to make this better?" It is when things get difficult that we are to use what we learned in our spiritual practice to approach the situation from our center with peace.

Just as you use what you have learned about math to solve a math problem, so must you use the lessons you've learned on your path to solve the problem facing you. That may be easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you out.

First, is there anything about this situation that is the same as something that I have gone through before? This question is important because not only may it help you to overcome something happening in your life similar to something else, but it may also help you to realize that you may have not completed the lesson the first time around. The Universe constantly tests us. If you find you are in the same situation again, there's a very good chance that you are the one that put yourself there. There were no thoughts or changes in behavior within yourself to create a different outcome. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Second, what about this is different than what I've been through before. Reflecting on this question will awaken you to a new side of something. It may be the first time you're seeing it, or, you may realize that it's been there before, you just never looked at it in a certain way before. It may also awaken you to something new inside yourself. You may find the answer flows freely from inside of you when you take time out to reflect and see "what is" in front of you. Finding time to sit and meditate in times of crisis is very important, because you must free your mind of the clutter of not only the everyday "stuff", but also the emotional reaction to the situation you are in right now. As Dr. Dyer says, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Third, be aware of your actions and reactions during the tough times. It is a great insight into what's in your heart, and where you still can grow. My weakness is traffic. I am fully aware that traffic cannot affect me, but I do let it. I'm getting better, and I will overcome this. But I am fully aware when it is happening. In fact, most times I just look up, smile and say "Ok, I failed this test again, but keep it coming! I'll pass it someday!" Also, realize that it is absolutely 100% ok to fail a test! We are on the path, not at the end of it. Some lessons we learn quickly, some we repeat daily. But being aware that it is within you, and not the external circumstance will help the growth process. When you blame someone else for your reaction, ie: "That guy cut me off! What a *@#!@&!" Well, you can choose to be upset, or you can choose not to be. The judgment is in place because you are blaming him for something, and he is at fault. That means you are right, and he is wrong. That, of course, is ego. It also stems from the connection to "I want". "I want to drive without someone cutting me off and I want to get to my destination." And when something stands in your way, then out comes the dis-comfort. But when you are aware that it is within you, you relieve the situation of doing something "to" you, and your ego is in check. You are responsible for your actions and reactions. And even if you didn't handle it the best that you could, you are aware of it, and you can then continue to grow.

There are always going to be times in which we feel disconnected. It is worse for us when we have felt connected for a long time, because now we "feel" that something is wrong. As I mentioned in another blog, that "dis-comfort" is only telling us that we need to work on something within us. Using the above methods can help you tremendously to get through these times, and as I've found out again and again, there is usually a period of tremendous growth after a period of "disconnection", as long as you continue to do the work. Remember, it's a spiritual practice, which means we must continue to practice. The more you practice, the better you will be. And with time, you will overcome all obstacles.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Beauty of Differences....

I overheard two people talking about the baseball playoffs the other day at the grocery store. As they walked away, the guy bagging my groceries said bluntly: "Who cares." I said, "obviously they do", to which he replied "I don't like baseball". Now, I didn't get involved in the conversation, but it reminded me of an old saying which I rather like. It says "a fanatic is someone who is passionate about a subject in which you have no interest". I love people who are passionate about something. If you've ever seen someone passionate about sports, they'll say "Well, we won last night". It's not that he actually had anything to do with his team winning, but he feels he is a part of something, and in a way, he is. I've always looked at sports as an amazing ability to draw people from all walks of life towards a common goal. During that game, the fans don't care about race, creed, or color, they're all high fiving each other when their team does well, and they all feel the disappointment of defeat if they lose. And for a few hours that day, people that would normally never talk or socialize with each other shared smiles, highs, and lows. So, what is it about people that they can't do that in everyday life? If you can view people as having the same goal as you; ie wanting to be happy, wanting to be themselves, wanting to love and be loved, then you'll see that we are not really different from each other afterall.

Getting back to my interaction with the grocery bagger, what an amazing difference he could have felt inside himself by recognizing the passion in the individuals, and seeing the good that was happening. Instead, he only saw his dislike in himself, and felt the annoyance of that situation. We cannot judge someone for being interested in something that we are not. It is not "wrong" that they are interested in it, just as much as it is not "right" that we are not interested in it. But, if left unchecked, these attitudes flow over into how we interact with the world around us. Someone's clothing style, someone's sexual preference, someone's political affiliations. All these things can cause a great amount of discomfort when we put our "opinions" on it. It's always amazed me that when I tell someone I don't like tomatoes that there is never a reaction, but if I don't like something that someone else holds some sort of attachment to, they will argue with you like mad for not agreeing with them.

There is great beauty in differences of opinion. If used correctly, they can open up new thoughts and ideas that maybe you haven't seen or thought of before. Or, maybe not, but you have to be able to give the person the permission to be them. It only affects you if you let it affect you. Remember, you don't have to understand why the person does something, or believes in something, but we do have to accept it. Because all the arguing in the world is not going to make the situation any different. And when you start feeling that discomfort inside of you that questions "How on earth can they DO that?", realize that it's their stuff, not your stuff, and it's perfectly ok for them to do that. Then turn within and ask yourself what about you can't seem to handle that. You may be amazed at what you find.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Life, or expectations?

Life. It's just one thing after another. How many times have you heard someone, perhaps yourself, say that? Life is not something that happens to you, you are an active participant. In fact, life is easy, we make it hard. And how do we do that? By our perceptions of what life is, or more importantly, what we think it is supposed to be. Life is just that.... life. Look at the general concept of life, the one that nature has down to a science. Something is given life. It lives. It grows. It is, and then, it dies. People look to the fires in the Florida Everglades, and become sad. The truth is, it is an incredible rejuvenation process that is provided by nature. Those fires caused by massive storms and lightning strikes that form over the Everglades have been happening since long before we were here to observe them, and yet, the Everglades remain. It will continue the process of life.

So, am I saying that life is just being born, and waiting it out until we die? No, of course not. Life is living! And I can tell you what it is not. It is not material possessions, a job, money, a gorgeous spouse, vacationing in Europe every year, kids, a dog, or a white picket fence. Those are things that we have come to believe make a life, when in fact, they have nothing to do with it. They do not make anything. Even if we have all those things, we will not be happy unless we are happy inside ourselves. Money comes and goes, spouses do to in this age, and there's a very good chance that you will outlive your car. But people put so much importance on those things as if that's what makes a "life". We are filled with expectations that society and ego have created for us. It is simply a dream that someone else dreamt for us, and is not real. When the expectations we have falter, we feel pain and dis-comfort. When we can't get the house, or lose the house, we grow uncomfortable within ourselves. I read an article about a financial planner who lost everything when the economy failed. His quote was "I'm only happy when I'm making money". What a sad way to live! His entire "life" is based on money. If he has it, life is good. Without it, life is meaningless. I'm sure after the collapse of the economy he was questioning "How could this happen to me?" The statement of the victim and ego. He based his life on a possession, and when that left, he was decimated. I wonder how his personal relationships were handled when he was without his money, his happiness.

It's not a bad thing to set goals, as long as we have no emotional connection to those goals should they not come to fruition. But we cannot attach ourselves to material possessions in the hopes that those things will create a life. Life is within us. It IS us. We are life. When we truly live, we find we do not need those things that you've expected to have such as the house and the kids. Life flows from within us. What we do with ourselves create our lives. I've always said the meaning of life is knowledge, and helping others. It is simple. We create our lives, and when you free ourselves from desire, you will find a peace like you have never known. Does it sound too simple? Well, it is. We make it hard.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Question of the week: How can I let go of him?

Q- I've recently broken up with a man that wasn't good for me, but I can't seem to let go of him, because I love him, and I can't get out of this hole. Any advice?

A- Well, your first sentence says a lot. You have already identified that he was not good for you. The question becomes, if he is not good for you, then why would you be holding on to something that is not acceptable to you? The answer is not love. We can have love for someone but still realize that they are not good for us. Love is love, it doesn't keep us from moving on, nor does it keep people together. How people relate to each other is what keeps them together. If you know that this man was not good for you, then you should first look into yourself and decide what is good for you. Somewhere along the lines, you have stopped looking at you, and concentrated your thoughts on something else. Whether it's him, the idea of what he could have been, or maybe some event that happened between you that never happened before, you have stopped looking inside of you, and are focused on something outside of you. But things outside of you are just that: outside. They cannot be in our grasp, nor can we work on those things. If we focus on those things outside of us, the pain and turmoil will remain. We are powerless over everything outside of ourselves. When you turn your thoughts and focus inside, you will find the power to start to let go.

What is inside of you then? First off, if you know he was not good for you, then at some level, you know something was happening that was unacceptable to you. If it is unacceptable, then what about you is telling yourself to hold on to something unacceptable? More times than not, it is due to an insecurity or fear. It may be as simple as fear of being alone. That fear prevents a lot of people from moving forward. Maybe you felt that he fulfilled some need inside of you. If that's the case, then you only have to look within to fill that need. It needs to flow from within you. Where does that insecurity come from? How can you overcome that insecurity? Remember, nothing external can fill an internal need. If you have a void that you are trying to fill with someone or something else, you need to fill that void with you, from you. But if you did "fill that void" with him, then that's another reason you cannot let go, because as he goes, so does what was filling your insecurity. And lastly, you may be feeling that despite his problems, you'll never find someone like him. Or, more specifically, if he did fill a void inside of yourself, you may feel that you'll never find someone to fill that void again. For that, I offer just one thought. Do you really think, with all the infinite number of possibilities that exist in the Universe, that he is the only one that can co-exist peacefully in your life? That he is the only one that exhibits the things you liked about him? That there's no one who exhibits the good of him, without the things you feel were bad for you? Just because you haven't found him yet, doesn't mean you won't find him.

The Universe dreams dreams for us that are much bigger than anything we can possibly dream for ourselves. And when we keep the wrong person in our lives, it prevents the right person from coming in. Instead of focusing on him, what he did, how he can improve, and all the what if's that go along with that thinking, turn your thoughts within. What about you feels compelled to hang on to a bad relationship? What about you is clinging to something you know was not acceptable? When you turn within yourself, you take control over what can be fixed, and not only will you start to feel better, you may also find an area of growth you didn't realize was in you before.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be aware of your thoughts and create your peace

Dr Wayne Dyer says, "when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." What a true statement. I was thinking recently of a story which some of you may have heard before. When Columbus came to America, it is said as the massive boats were off the coast, the Indians noticed there was something wrong with the waves, but they could not tell what it was, because they could not see the boats. They had never even imagined such things, and their minds would not let them see what was beyond their shore. The medicine man then walked down to the water, and in a meditation, emptied his mind, and looked out at the water again, this time open to the infinite number of possibilities that exist in the Universe. He then saw the boats, and went back to the group. He explained to them what was out there, and when the other Indians changed the way they looked at the situation, the boats became visible.

This lesson has so many facets to it, I'll briefly touch on a couple. First of all, how do we change the way we look at things? The easiest way is to be impeccable with our thoughts. One of my favorite exercises is for you to imagine that you have a genie on your shoulder at all times, and whatever you think, or say, instantly becomes your reality. How many things would you take back in an average day? Imagine your thought when you encounter some traffic on the way to work: "Man, I'm going to be late". Your wish is my command!! And suddenly, you're late. Or, "I'm never going to get all my stuff done!" Abracadabra! Your stuff will not get done. Many of our thoughts are self limiting thoughts, and negative in nature. I asked one friend once when he was playing the lottery, "Do you think you'll ever win?" And he replied "no". Then why play at all? If you truly believe you'll never win, and your thoughts become your world, then do something more useful with the dollar! One thing you can do to break this, is try not to have an opinion about it at all. Stories are just lies we tell ourselves. When we want to call someone, but we say "Oh, they're probably busy", it is a lie we just told ourselves. If you want to tell yourself a story, tell yourself a good one! Or, don't have an opinion on it at all, and just make the call. If they're busy, they're busy, if not, then you get to talk to them. The other way out of this, is to be aware of that thought as soon as it pops in your mind, and "take it back", and replace it with another one. Instead of "I'm never going to get my stuff done!", it can be "I'm making some great progress today!" It doesn't mean you magically will get your stuff done, but it puts it into a peaceful, goal oriented action thought. And if you believe you are making great progress, chances are, you'll get all your stuff done.

The second thing you can do is when you notice that your thought is about someone else, or someone else's action, turn that thought onto yourself. After all, we cannot modify anyone else's actions; they have to do that themselves. But what about YOU is feeling the way you're feeling? People and events cannot make you feel anything. It's what's inside you that makes you feel the way you do. That's why the same event can be handled two different ways by two different people. If the event caused you to feel a certain way, it would make everyone feel that way. Some people are calm in traffic, others are not. The traffic doesn't cause stress, it's what you know about yourself inside that causes stress. So if someone cuts you off in traffic, and you think "I can't believe that guy cut me off!", turn the thought back to you and say "What about me is mad about getting cut off?" When you realize that there's nothing earth shattering about getting cut off, and it's the ego's response to get mad and be a victim of something, you can diffuse the situation by looking at it a different way. "Thank God he didn't hit me. What a blessing I'm safe and protected." How can you get mad at that thought? In a relationship, it may be "He doesn't call me enough". Turn that thought back to yourself and say "What about me needs to be called so much?" You just may find your insecurity inside yourself.

When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at do change. When we don't want that genie on our shoulder to create a negative situation for us, we can change our thoughts to be on the positive side. When ego makes us look at and question others, we can turn that question back to ourselves to find out what's inside us. That's where the growth is going to occur anyway. You getting mad at the driver cutting you off certainly isn't going to help you grow, nor will it magically change the situation that just happened. But if you find inside yourself what bothers you so much, then you can change the way you look at the event, even yourself, and create a peaceful outcome.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who are you?

I am Brian. That's it, really, just Brian. Sure, I do things; I make a living, I help people, I enjoy sunsets, and even though I really don't like tomatoes, I enjoy tomato soup. But I am not any of those things by themselves. I am a beautiful combination of those, and so many other things. But what I'm not, is my reputation, my job, my possessions, my status, or my bank account. Yet for so many, their identities are so far blended with those things, who they really are gets lost. While travelling this week, someone asked me what I do for a living, and it struck me. He didn't ask me "Who are you." My answer was simple: "I help people", I responded. But when I am not helping people, I am just Brian. I am on my path, I am learning, I am growing, and sometimes, I'm all of those, and sometimes, I'm not any of those. But people, in general, believe that what they "do for a living", is actually who they are. It is their identity, and without it they would be lost.

What this means is that the Wall Street hotshot will be nothing should he lose his Wall Street job. That is who he thinks he is. And when he is at his fancy parties, with his rich friends, his ego is thriving on the idea of "Look at me! I'm somebody." His status and his "self" are one. But when he's making dinner for his wife at home, is he a Wall Street hotshot? Or is he a loving husband making his wife dinner? There's a good chance that he truly believes that his wife would not be with him if he would ever not be a Wall Street hotshot. Because he truly believes that what he does for a living is who he is. And if he is truly a Wall Street hotshot, who was he before he reached that point? Was he nobody? Did he not exist? Remember, you are not your reputation, you are not your things, your possessions, your status, or your job. You are just you. The reason this is important to realize, is that when you tie who you are to something other than your self, then you will find unhappiness when things are not going well with whatever you tie your identity to. If it is a job, then you will be lost when that job goes bad. If it's a relationship with someone, then you will be lost when that relationship hits tough times or ends. You are simply "you", nothing more, nothing less. Yes, you may have a job, a relationship, money, or even status, but that is not who you are internally. When you connect yourself with something external, you lead yourself away from your internal. And when we are not centered internally, we find pain, confusion, stress, and despair.

Do not let external forces determine your internal peace. You are you no matter where you go, what you do, or who you do it with. Get to know that person. Love that person whole heartedly. Do not connect who that person is with anything, because it's just a lie. You can only be YOU. So start finding out who you are, underneath all that external stuff you've thrown on top of yourself. Examine yourself. Find your strengths and your weaknesses, and learn to love them both. Do not look to other things for what you can fill from within yourself.

And now that I'm done writing this blog entry, I am again, just Brian

Monday, September 27, 2010

Empty your cup

Just as you must empty your teacup before you can receive your tea, you must first empty your mind before you can receive your lesson. I really like this idea, and it is a very simple idea to understand. If your teacup is cluttered with old tea, crumbs, and tea leaves, it is not prepared to receive the tea that is waiting for it. For our mind, it is getting rid of the clutter of old ideas, beliefs in what "should be", ego, and the "what ifs" that prevent us from receiving our lesson. Believe it or not, most of our lessons are in plain sight, right in front of our face. Most people simply don't want to see their lesson, because it would indicate that they would have to admit something they perceive to be wrong with themselves. This again, is the trick of ego. We cannot possibly be wrong. If we are not wrong then something is happening to us, and we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility to the event. If we can remove our ego, remove the questions of "why", and openly take in our lesson, you would instantly find a sense of peace within yourself. You realize that it is not a matter of something being "wrong" with us, but it is an amazing opportunity for ourselves to grow, and be the best person we can possibly be. We cannot do this with a mind that is cluttered with the walls that ego and society have built within us. When this is the case, we get defensive. We have to justify our actions to ourselves and others. There is no acceptance in a defensive position. When you are defensive, you cannot let anything in; it is impossible. If we then, at that moment, are able to empty our minds of our concerns, (that honestly are not real), and remain open to what the Universe is trying to show us, we can take that situation in with a peaceful heart, and we can grow.

I find that many people I work with want to get the help, but their egos won't let themselves open their minds to the ideas that will give them the help they desire to find. It is one of the most difficult things to overcome in someone. But the answer is simple, as are most answers, and it is simply to come from an empty mind, receive the lesson for what it is, then view the lesson objectively from a point of truth. When you can do that, you will watch your ego and it's walls come down, and you will start to see change in your life. The answers are all within us, piled underneath the conditioning of our egos and society. Empty the space, and allow the lessons to fill the void. Positive change will be the only outcome.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Question of the week: Creating your demeanor...

This week's question is "How do you always keep such a cool demeanor?"

Wow... good question. The honest answer is, I don't always... I try to do my best and live by my highest self the majority of the time, but I too, fall. I am still on my path, and I learn every day. But the main thing that I try to do every day is acknowledge where I falter. Again, as acceptance is the first step in overcoming your obstacles, I am aware of when I "fail my test". Being aware, and accepting your behavior leads to you being able to change your behavior. There is a lesson by the Buddhist master Langri Thangpa called the eight verses on thought training. Verse number three states: "May I examine my mind in all actions. And as soon as a negative state occurs, since it endangers myself and others, may I firmly face and avert it." Basically, this says that as soon as we create a negative intention, we must quickly acknowledge it and form the determination to not engage in such behavior again. As we accept our actions, and realize that it comes from within us, and it is not something happening TO us, we can find the resolve to not respond in that manner again, should similar situations arise.

Again, it is a spiritual "practice". The more you practice, the easier it is to respond in a positive way from within ourselves, until it finally becomes a natural process. But if you are not aware, in that you believe the ego saying that something is happening TO you, then you will continuously fail that test, and find yourself in what you would call a "stressful situation". With your thoughts, you create your world. If you look at your world with love, you shall find love. If you look at your world with turmoil and stress, then that is exactly what you will find.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Acceptance. The beginning, not the end....

I recently wrote a very small blurb on acceptance and what it means, and today I was reading an article on  Marc Buoniconti, and it moved me to write more about this important idea.  For those of you who don't know, Marc Buoniconti is the son of former NFL great Nick Buoniconti.  In 1985, Marc was playing football for The Citadel, when he went to make a tackle on the tailback.  His helmet collided with the tailbacks lower back, and in an instant, Marc was a quadriplegic.  When told he would never use his limbs again, he was told he needed to accept his situation, to which Marc replied "I've always hated that word.  It's defeatist in a way.  I think as soon as you accept something like that, you've lost."  Although Marc has overcome great odds at survival, and has gone on to accomplish great things, his views of acceptance are askew. 
Acceptance is not the end of things, it is the beginning of things.  Acceptance does not say that "This is how things are going to be forever".  It is simply "this is how things are now."  Because now is all we ever have.  There is an old saying "It is what it is", which is very true.  Many people choose not to accept their current situation, and go on dreaming of all the "what ifs" in their lives.  This will only lead to pain and suffering, because it does not exist.  All that exists is "what is".  You must first, with all your being, accept your situation for what it is at the time that it is.  Because it is your situation.  Once acceptance has happened, then you can use the questions of "wha"t and "how" to change your situation to be what you would like it to be.  "I am paralyzed.  What can I do to overcome this?  How can I live my life to the fullest?"  To deny you are paralyzed, would be "non acceptance".  It's not saying you cannot try to change your situation; all it is saying is that you have to say "Right now, I am paralyzed".  That could all change in a moment.  There is a great deal of peace that comes with the acceptance of "what is".  It is the starting point.  It is the beginning of a path to take you out of what is right now, and make it something else.  Denial will never get you started on the path to something else.  It will only keep you locked into a victim mentality.  It cannot lead to action.  You will never walk on the road to recovery if you deny the event for its truth. 
Acceptance is the first step, it is definitely not the last.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Separation- The ego's way of saying "I'm Right"

Separation occurs on so many levels, and it is strictly the result of ego. Separation can also be called by other things, such as racism and bigotry, but also as simple as your opinion. Separation is when we decide on some level, conscious or unconscious, that what we are seeing, feeling, or experiencing, does not fit in with what we feel is "normal". We separate ourselves from the whole, and with that, figure that if it does not fit in with what I feel is acceptable, then it is not acceptable at all. Imagine if a wave in the ocean thought that he was the ocean! That all other waves did not live up to what kind of wave he was. The other waves were not as strong, not as beautiful, not as big, as he was. But the wave is only one small part of something much greater. And soon, the wave breaks onto the shore, only to be reabsorbed into the ocean, the "whole". Every one of us is part of the "whole". We are all unique, intricate parts of something much greater than ourselves. The ego created society, and society reinforces the ego. "Men act like this, women like that", it says. "You can't dress like this, you can't wear your hair like that", it says. Society separates on every level, from gender, to race, to creed, and the ego convinces us it is ok. We form an opinion, and it then separates us from one another. Even from something as simple as "I can't believe you don't like strawberries!" The mind says, this guy must be crazy! Strawberries are delicious! And with that, we are now right, and they are now wrong, and separation has occurred. I am male, but my soul essence is female. My path leads me more towards androgyny, which is very hard for others to accept. As my hair grows longer, some question why I let my hair look more "girlish". Hair has no gender. Hair is hair. The separation occurs when we form an opinion, which is essentially a judgment. What people need to realize, it that it is absolutely ok not to understand why someone does something, but to accept them for who they are. It is not for you to understand everything in the world. But if you accept "what is", then you remove separation. So how do we turn our "opinions" away from judgment and separation? It's very simple. Turn your thoughts onto yourself. Remember, just because you don't like something, doesn't mean it's wrong. So, for sake of argument, let's say I decide to wear a skirt tomorrow. There is no law against me wearing a skirt, and remember, clothes are just clothes, they have no gender. Society has put the tag of who can wear what onto people. Kilts are worn by men in other sections of the world without bias, but it is basically a skirt. A man might look at me and instantly say "look at that weirdo!". The separation is there, because that man would never wear a skirt, so he judges me, and somehow I now have a problem. I am wrong for wearing a skirt. If he turns his thoughts onto himself, the uncomfortable feeling he had when he saw me in a skirt goes away, and a peaceful conclusion is reached. He simply says "I personally wouldn't wear a skirt". His ego is not threatened, he reinforces his own belief that he would not wear a skirt, yet does not separate by making it wrong in his mind for me wearing one.

Remember, I cannot make you feel uncomfortable. It's what people know about themselves that make them feel uncomfortable, or any other feeling. Separation starts within you, and has nothing to do with anyone else. It is the trick of the ego that says "I'm right, they're wrong". Waves in the ocean do not look at other waves and make judgments about them. They all co-exist in harmony, as part of something much greater than themselves. We are supposed to be doing the same thing. And it all starts within ourselves. It's ok for you not to like something. If the thoughts stop then on yourself, and don't extend out to the other person, no separation will exist. So the next time you think a thought as simple as "This TV show is stupid", remember, the TV show is just a show, it is neither stupid or smart. And if you judge the show as being stupid, you also judge everyone who watches it as being stupid. Simply say "I personally don't care for this show". Judgment is relieved, and separation cannot occur.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Why" is a useless question...

Most times, when something goes wrong in our lives, the very first question we ask ourselves is "Why?" Unfortunately, this is the worst question we can ask ourselves. Some people live so much in the question of why, that they never get past the event that made them say it to begin with. Why, you see, is a useless question. It never really matters why. Remember when you were a kid, and you wanted to do something, and your parents said no, and you asked them "Why?" and they answered, "Because I said so, that's why." That, in essence, is actually the best answer to your question. Because it doesn't matter why. It only matters that you can't do whatever they told you you couldn't do. "Mom, John's having a party, can I go?" Your mother responds "No." "Why?" You ask. It doesn't matter why. Maybe it's because you have to do something else. Maybe it's because your mom doesn't think much of John. Maybe it's because she knows that no one wants you at the party, or maybe it's none of those things. The fact of the matter is, you can't go. So "Why" you can't go becomes irrelevant.

"Why are we here?" "Why did this have to happen to me now?" "Why is the store always sold out of what I came for?" So many questions of why, and in each case, it doesn't matter why. It doesn't matter why you're here, because you are indeed here. It doesn't matter why something happened to you now, because it did indeed happen. And it certainly doesn't matter why the store is out of what you came for, because nothing is going to make it magically appear in their stock. So as you can see, "Why" is a useless question.

It's useless because it only leads to more questions. It never leads to action. And in this way, many people get locked into the trap of "Why". The question of "Why" also leads to all the "what if's" that take people out of the present moment, and lost in a hypothetical world of things that don't exist. And no matter how much you wish that they would, they don't. You only have NOW. Asking "What if this would have happened instead?" is just a way of mentally torturing yourself. With that in mind, the correct questions to ask yourself instead of "Why", are "What", and "How".

You must first accept the situation as it is. This is important. Acceptance is the first phase of overcoming any obstacle. Then, ask yourself the questions of "What" and "How". So, in the example above of "Why did this have to happen to me now?" The replacement for the question of "Why" is "Ok, this happened to me. What can I do to make this situation better, or how can I prevent this from either getting worse, or happening to me again?" "What" and "How" are calls to action. And when you are taking action, you have control over the situation, instead of the situation having control over you. Remember, if you feel that something has happened to you, then you are a victim. Victims never overcome their obstacle. You are only a victim in the moment that something is happening in your life. Once that moment is over, how you choose to react to that situation will define you either as a victim, or, for lack of a better word, a survivor. Some people are a victim of an event for the rest of their life. They use it as an excuse to never be able to achieve things in their lives. They'll tell you "You don't understand what happened to me". The ego is in full force. You may not have control over what happened to you at the time it happened, but you certainly have control over every single moment after that. How will you choose to react to that? From weakness, or strength?

There are so many beautiful cases in which someone has overcome so much. I recently read about a quadriplegic that swam the English Channel. He lost his limbs after being electrocuted on a ladder. But he did not remain a victim of that accident. He has been living his life, including not only swimming the English Channel in just over 14 hours, (10 hours less than even he thought it would take him), but skydiving, and things like that. He could have lived the rest of his life lost in the question of "Why". "Why did this have to happen to me". But he chose the "What" and the "How". What could he do to keep living his life? How can he make his life better? He was only a victim for the moment of the electrocution, now he is a survivor, and deals from a place of strength.

"Why" is a trap of the ego. It begs for sympathy for us from others. It wants others to do for us what we feel we cannot do for ourselves, because we are a victim. If you live your life lost in the question of "Why", it will be a very unhappy place to live. If you turn your mind into the action questions of "What" and "How", you will see amazing changes start to take place in your life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spiritual Dis-comfort

As with a physical injury to the body, injury to our spirit also occurs.  When you physically hurt your body, you experience dis-comfort.  It is the body's way of telling you that you need to focus on something that is not right at the moment.  It tells you that you cannot do what you've been doing.  If you continue to do what you're doing, your pain will get worse.  It may even get to the point where it is debilitating.  This is the same with the spirit.  If you are feeling dis-comfort, it is a sign that you need to pay attention to your surroundings.  What is happening?  What about you is making you feel this way?  As with a physical injury, if you continue doing what caused the dis-comfort to begin with, you will continue to cause yourself grief and sadness. 
 Many people think that something is happening to them to make them feel that way.  They look at the experience itself to find an answer.  How are you relating to that experience?  Is there anything you can do to make it better, or to achieve a different outcome?  And if the outcome cannot be changed, what can you do to make the situation better?  What do you need to learn?  What about you is making you feel the way you are?  It's simple to blame someone else, because it's ego's way of saying "This is someone else's fault"  But by making it about the other person, that is giving the other person the power over the situation, and you will continue to feel the dis-comfort.  If you then look inside of you to the source of your dis-comfort, and truly take care of the problem, your pain will start to diminish until it fades away completely.  Pay attention to your body and your spirit.  It will always lead you in the right direction.

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