Tag Archive | cooperating

Are You a Pirate?

There is a fun song on the internet called “You Are a Pirate“. The words are:

Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free

You are a pirate

Yar-har-fiddle-de-dee

Being a pirate is alright with me

Do what you want ‘cause a pirate is free

You are a pirate.

Repeat continuously, loop-style, ad nauseum.

The song originally comes from a children’s television program in which the town villain disguises himself as a pirate to lure the children away from their good behavior. He makes being a pirate sound fun with his happy pirate song and promises of freedom from discipline and rules. The children, of course, enthusiastically take their places as his crew mates. Who doesn’t want freedom?

On the spiritual path, one of the skills we learn is distinguishing between short-sighted egoic impulses and the true promptings of our soul. We start learning this by more closely observing the thoughts and feelings that arise and incite us to act. When our ego pulls us toward personality freedom, often it can excite us and feel good on a short-term basis. Ego pulls don’t take into consideration the needs of those around us or long-term consequences of our actions. We can liken this to the pirate from the song, and the children who happily followed along.

Soul freedom leads us toward greater responsibility for what is ours to do this lifetime. It also aligns us with our higher potential. Hmm…Not as enticing at first, is it?

Paramahansa Yogananda, the great Indian mystic, once said, “The mind is so powerful, it can make you taste salt and think it is sugar, and when you eat sugar, it can make you think you taste salt.” Our ego pulls are the salt that tastes sweet at first, but then we feel disappointed when we discover it wasn’t what was in our best interest. Our soul promptings taste a bit salty at first, but as we stick with them, how sweet it is! Everything flows better when we are aligned with our soul responsibilities!

How much time and energy do you spend following the piratey impulsiveness of your personality self? How long does that satisfy you?

The children who followed the pirate to his false “freedom” (and were subsequently captured) quickly learned that the rules they ran from actually provided structure so they could play more freely! Likewise, our intuition is there to help us learn the best structure and steps to take to free our souls from ego-captivity, allowing greater energy to flow into a more joyful expression of who we truly are!

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Five Tools for Inner Housecleaning

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Spring cleaning is not just for Spring, or for your house! Here are five tools for your inner housecleaning that you can use daily, as needed, and enjoy the fresh air that peace of mind brings!

1. Meditate. For five minutes a day (at a consistent time and location), observe the thoughts that go through your mind. Don’t push them away, judge them, or feel ashamed; just notice what they are saying to you and let them pass.

2. Journal. Write about the time during the day when you felt frustrated, hurt, sad or angry. What were you feeling and thinking? Get to know your reactions and look for a pattern in them. Writing about your feelings can help you understand when to back off, and when to stand up for yourself.

3. Forgive. Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions is an excellent forgiveness method. Unforgiveness balls you up in body, mind, and expression; while forgiveness frees you to experience more overall joy.

4. Use difficult people to learn about your hidden issues. Take that guy at the office that grinds you like fingers down a chalkboard. Get your journal and list all the qualities and behaviors about him that bug you. Ask yourself who this person represents to you. You can learn a lot about what is blocking you from your potential by embracing those you find difficult to be around. Forgive them even if you don’t know what it is that you don’t like. The health benefits of this action alone will be worth your effort.

5. Trust yourself above all others. There is no teacher, master, therapist, guru, or life coach out there who is any good unless they are telling you to listen to your own inner promptings. As you watch your own thinking and journal out your feelings, you will begin to understand more about who you are. This is a wonderful and scary thing! Trust that your inner wisdom will reveal itself and support you as you work to resolve fear and false beliefs.

Look Who’s Talking Now

Stick Snake

A root I encountered which my mind reacted to as if it were a snake. Our minds are not always reliable upon first response!

At any given moment, there is a voice talking to you in your head. Maybe it’s a positive voice. Maybe it’s a negative voice. Maybe it’s a neutral, narrator, commenting on your every move. Do you notice it? It’s processing as you read this, maybe throwing in an opinion or two. What do you find it is saying to you right now?

That voice can be likened to the weather in the Midwest: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change.

To understand why this is so, let’s define a couple things. Your brain is the organ through that functions as the machine for many physical functions, thinking being only one of them. Your mind is how your consciousness moves energy through the brain in order to function in your life.

Your brain stores every experience you have had, ever, and the thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions surrounding those experiences at the time that you made them. Some of those are well-outdated, yet there they are, in the storehouse of your brain’s memory.

Your mind, in its automatic, semi-conscious state, pulls up those memories, thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions as it sees fit. In neutral times, those thoughts, etc, might be simply random. Other times, the mind is quite certain that the thought, emotion, opinion, etc, that it is pulling up is quite fitting for the situation at hand, even if it might not be helpful.

For example, think about what you think about while driving. Maybe you’re singing along with a song (lyrics pulled up from your brain’s memory). Maybe you are worrying about what just happened at work or with that family member; in which case, all past experiences, opinions, emotions having to do with that person, or someone very similar from your history, come up and invade your thoughts about the current situation. This adds confusion to the current situation: Are you really upset at the thing that just happened, or is that thing not so bad, but it is reminding you of that other thing that happened, so the negative thoughts and strong emotion are actually coming from some previous experience, being dumped onto the current one? Probably both, but the current situation is getting the brunt of the past, unresolved emotion.

That little example holds about five topics of discussion; but for this article, let’s simply understand that the mind has a mind of its own, and a lot more is going on than you are often aware of.  In fact, there are many voices in your head, and often they have competing opinions and perspectives! You’ve probably heard someone say, “The committee in my head is arguing about this.”

What can you do about that mind that can be so unruly?

Notice it, step back from it, wait a few minutes and it will change.

Notice it. You can’t be in charge of that unruly inner voice unless you are aware of what it’s doing in there. Take a few breaks during the day to check in and listen to what it’s saying to you. Is it positive? Critical? Sad? Afraid? Numb?

Step back from it. Listen with compassion and non-judgment; be the observer of it. Cup both hands together and hold them in front of you. Pretend that the thoughts and feelings going through your mind are in your cupped hands. Since they are now outside of your head, watch them like a scientist watches her experiment with curiosity, not knowing what exactly is going to happen. What do you see happening with those thoughts and feelings?

Wait a few minutes and it will change. As you observe the contents of your mind, they will inevitably shift and change. See how long you can hold them before they morph into something else. How long does it take? Five minutes? Twenty? Three? One? This is a great practice in not taking your thoughts too seriously. Just because it is wafting through your mind doesn’t make it true.

This simple process is helpful especially when big emotions are on the surface. As you observe and wait patiently and compassionately through the wave of emotional dialogue and felt sensations, you will feel yourself rise above it into a clearer thinking space. As you practice with this, your conscious self moves into more of a leadership role in the mind/brain process. You can be more in charge of who’s talking to you, who gets the promotion, and which voice gets phased out.

Who’s talking within you?

A Few SAD Ideas to Support Your Happiness

FOOD winterNortherners, it’s that time of year again. The beautiful colors of the leaves trigger the awareness of the impending cold, dreary days ahead, in spite of autumn awe.

My monthly client-load often increases about now, due to what has become known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder; also known as the “Winter Blues”.

And, yes, it’s a thing. Less sun, less vitamin D, increased isolation and home-bodiness, which may mean fewer interactions with friends and family. It’s an imposed hibernation-mode existence…Except, as humans, we don’t hibernate.

So, what can one do to help keep spirits up throughout the cold months?

If you are feeling depressed, can’t get out of bed (versus not wanting to), feel hopeless, isolate from others, or feel suicidal, please get help immediately! You are worth every effort you make to feel better!

Otherwise, I encourage my clients to tackle this season in mind and body:

For the body, there are several recommendations out there for the efficacy of ingesting extra vitamin D supplements. Check with your doctor for specific dosage and type that would be best for your body.

Another popular practice is using a sun lamp for the ultraviolet rays we miss out on when we are covered with layers of home and blankets. Twenty minutes a day, preferably in the morning (don’t use it before bedtime—it may interfere with your melatonin production, and therefore sleep cycle!).

Keep healthy food around. Since many food-focused holidays happen in winter, make sure your food choices are healthier ones. Keep bananas on the table, and apples close by. Snack on fulfilling nuts rather than chocolates (although a little dark chocolate here and there can go a long way!). Try new healthy recipes to occupy the part of your brain that focused on food. As you may have noticed, pumpkin spice goes a long way!

For the mind, exercise! Yes, this is great for your body, too, but exercise will help those good brain chemicals lift your mood throughout your day. Plus it will get you moving and distracted from the cold temperatures.

Every day, remember to acknowledge three things that you are grateful for in your life. Keep it simple, fun, and daily. You can keep a gratitude journal, or share your list of three with your partner or a friend. Studies have shown that three-a-day keeps the blues away, and trains your brain to look for the good in your life.

Go outside anyway! Yes, I said it. Get out in the cold! Bundle up and take a 20 minute walk in the cold. You’ll benefit from the movement, the bona fide sunlight (even through the grey skies!), and overcoming your mind-body resistance to the cold.

Be grateful! Just thinking about a few of your favorite things–anything you are grateful for–changes your brain chemistry for the better! If you don’t think so, try it once or twice when you’re feeling down–it will feel like magic! Your mind will calm, your body will relax.

Don’t let feeling SAD get you down this winter! Get up, get moving, and keep yourself looking for the good in every situation! Winter won’t last forever—even though it feels like it—and you’ll be glad you spent it supporting your happiness!

Cooperating with the Bigger Picture

My dadI spent two weeks in July helping my dad and mom after my dad had major surgery. I felt grateful enough for being able to be there for them, but the experience of his light and courage topped the experience! My only real job was to cooperate with the bigger picture.

Before I arrived, I prepared myself for my dad to be incapacitated for the whole time I was there, with tubes coming out of him every which way. Indeed, he had a lot to overcome following his successful surgery! But by my second week there—two weeks after his surgery—he was home, walking around, looking and feeling better than he did before the procedure!

My dad’s courage, will, and perseverance shined through him, even on his frustrating days. He took every day in stride, joked with the medical staff, and displayed a positive, stoic determination that wouldn’t have allowed any other outcome!

My job was simple—stay above my own emotions. Fear had no place near him! Being human, of course I experienced it; but there was no space for that around him.

Fortunately, I had already worked my release process—a couple of times before I arrived!—using the “Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties” formula I talk about all the time. Doing that helped me be less attached to the outcome I wanted—for him to survive and be whole again, even minus an esophagus!

But he is a soul in evolution, and this was his call to make, not mine! I had to get myself out of the way; I had to be prepared for any possible outcome. I released him to his highest good, knowing that whatever the outcome, that was the most efficient route for his soul journey. The most peace I felt was when I was simply in the moment with him, loving and appreciating his soul with no expectations or demands.

There were ups and downs through the process: How much cancer was there? Did they get it all? (They did!) Irregular heartbeat. Infection. Difficulties eating, and so forth. Each time something new arose, I had to be steady and not lose myself in fear, sadness, or hopelessness. Each time I grabbed hold of a faith I didn’t know was there—not a faith in some god that would give me what I wanted. Rather, faith in his beautiful, wise Soul that knew what it was doing—no matter what!

By the time I left, my dad was laughing, eating, walking and enjoying his newfound health! His healing process will continue for a while, but what a great start to that journey!

Where else in my life can I trust the bigger picture rather than my own puny ideas of what should or should not take place? Where in your life can you trust the bigger picture? It is always there! Trust it. Look for it. Let go of your ideas of outcomes and embrace the plan that is in place for the highest good for all concerned. Cooperate with the process!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Scratch the Surface!

Scratch the Surface!

Last month I wrote about the process for spiritual transformation—which includes any kind of change you are making toward expressing your full potential.

The question now is, “How do I support myself in that process?” It seems that there is always something coming up and pushing you buttons, doesn’t it? People or situations demanding that you get out of your comfort zone, reminding you of that other awful thing that happened, and so forth. What do you do with that? It can seem like those “button-pushers” stand in your way, but you can use them to stretch and grow from the inside out.

There are three levels of processing demands: Observe and Release, the Agitated Energy Process, and Journaling to Go Deeper.

Observe and Release

This first level includes those thoughts or situations that come up and are easily pushed out of our minds. The trick is to be aware of those things—to be conscious of the thoughts that are going through your mind at a given moment. Observing your thoughts helps you to release the ones you don’t need and act on the ones that you do.

For example, if you are working on releasing judgmental thoughts of yourself and others, you would need to be aware of when those judgments arose. Once you are aware of them, you simply notice and release them on the spot, rather than jumping into a conversation about them in your head. No need to chastise yourself nor analyze the thought; you know what it is, you noticed it, you let it go. End of story.

Agitated Energy Process

This next level of processing involves looking more closely at what’s coming up from inside you. I learned the “Agitated Energy Process” from my husband, which he had learned from his mentor at the time, the late psychiatrist Dr. Mary Allen. Over the years I have changed it just a little bit in order to make it more accessible to the people I meet in my practice.

Here is the revised process:

1. When you feel emotion in your body, or simply become aware of surfacing thoughts that you aren’t able to Observe and Release, ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I’m feeling?” Try not to think about the answer; just let it surface. Gently label the emotions that you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, fear, or some variation of these emotions?

2. Next, ask, “What story am I telling myself that’s causing me to feel this way?” Again, don’t think too hard about it, just let the story surface. What is the emotion telling you about the situation at hand?

Using the previous example, let’s say I have been doing very well at not judging myself or others—Observing and Releasing like a pro. After a few days, I notice that one person at home or at work who did that thing to me that I keep judging and cannot seem to stop myself. You know who I’m talking about. If I am NOT able to simply sweep it away, most likely it is causing me to feel agitated, which is how emotions show up in the body. That is my wonderful cue to go deeper! First, I label the emotion. Let’s say in this example it is anger. Then I ask myself, “What story I’m telling myself about the situation?” Let’s pretend that I am telling myself, “That person is trying to make me feel bad about myself, and I don’t like it!” Excellent! I allow that subjective observation to surface, without judgment.

3. The final step is to ask, “What is the new perception I could take that would be calming to me?” Here, I am giving myself the opportunity to look at the situation in a different way.

Let’s say the new perception that arises within me is, “I don’t know what is going on with that person, but my job is to be in charge of myself, what I am feeling and doing.” Then do a quick self check-in and see, “Do I feel calm now?” If so, then, I am done with this process. If not, then I can restart at the first question, and repeat the process until I feel at peace. This is a deceivingly effective on-the-spot processing tool since it doesn’t take an hour of journaling, and you can do it anywhere.

What if that process does not calm you? Then what? Ah, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, which I will address next time. In the meantime, pick one of these levels of processing and practice with it. You’ll be surprised at your mental and emotional clarity throughout the day. Let me know how it goes for you! I would love to hear about your experience!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth – Part 1

processIf you have become weary of the “positive thinking” aspect of spirituality, then you might be ready to go a bit deeper.

Not to say there is anything wrong with positive thinking—it’s an important tool along the journey!

But it’s not the entire toolbox, as you may have noticed. It can help uplift you in a moment of negative thinking, but it does not necessarily get to the cause of that faulty thinking in the first place.

Our spiritual process is one of in-depth self-exploration and self-understanding. We have to be willing to find out the answers to “Why am I feeling this way? Why is this triggering me? Why am I doing the same thing over and over again, when I know it’s not good for me?” Sometimes we have to do a little digging to understand that process.

The process of self-discovery is systematic; it has a consistent formula. Once you get into the rhythm of it, you understand where you are at, and what to do about it. Here is how I describe that process:

1. Spiritual Commitment: What is your current commitment you are making to your spiritual discovery? Have you committed to a daily meditation practice? To be less judgmental? To forgive someone? Any commitment that supports the expanding of your mind, heart, and intuitive nature will do.

2. New Energy: Any time we make a spiritual commitment, the Infinite Universe responds by filling us with energy to support our commitment! That can show up as ideas and insights for accomplishing your commitment. It usually feels so refreshing and inspiring…for about three or four days…maybe weeks, depending on your commitment. Then what happens is…

3. Second Force: This is an arbitrary form for all the excuses that come up, working hard to keep us from continuing with our commitment! It’s not some sort of evil force—it’s the part of us that resists change. When we have been used to doing things a certain way for years (perhaps lifetimes!), we have created a pathway in our consciousness that has become what we do when we’re on automatic pilot. Simply, it has become a habit. This is where many people give up on their commitment, believing it’s “too hard” or no longer “feels right” to do. And, this is where we have to turn up our grit and keep our commitment!

4. Healing and Release: This is where our spiritual toolbox comes in handy! Make sure yours includes a forgiveness process, an emotional awareness tool, a journal, meditation time, and mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. I will write more about this next time. This is the active work step, and the most important part of the process!

5. New Awareness: This is when we have released what we needed to, pushed through the old habit, and created a new one—a new perspective, a new awareness, a newly expanded consciousness of Self! We can’t go back and see the world as we did before—we have new glasses on! This also strengthens our inner connection (through our hard work from the previous step!) and intuition. This is a passive step, in that it happens through us because we did our work. We just receive!

6. Next Spiritual Step: This is where we grab hold of our next Spiritual Commitment, and start the process over with a new focus, and new energy to support us through it!

Next month, I will go into some excellent tools for our spiritual toolbox so we’ll be prepared for that Healing and Release step! Think about this process this month. How has it shown up for you?