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Carving Out Your Good

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            Good things can happen any day.  Or it can go the other way.  Yet we do have an active role in deciding how our days go.  Accepting a passive destiny is no way to ensure you’re leading the life you want.  Taking what you’re given and making something great out of it or learning a valuable lesson from it is the essence of creative adaptability.  It’s the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. You have to remain an active participant in your life and do more than accept what you’re given to reach your goals.  If a sculptor is given a lump of clay and wants to make a great work of art from it, he first needs a creative vision but then he needs to sculpt out what isn’t needed to find the art beneath the clay. sculpting1 Letting go of those things which stand in our way, our fears, inhibitions, self-imposed limitations or negative habits allows us to move forward with our visions, carve out our future good and attain our goals.  Nothing good comes easily or quickly in this world, but whittling away what blocks us from what we want is a way to ensure progress and success over time.

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            Carving out your good takes time and patience, planning and consistency.  But we have to be willing to let go of the scraps of material that don’t serve us.  Finding health and fitness in your body requires you to carve and sculpt out the potential masterpiece underneath what ever you wish to let go of, like excess fat or flabby skin, a bit everyday.  A fit and healthy, sexy body doesn’t come from eating potato chips.  It’s an unrealistic expectation that a diet pill or shot will make you look and feel your best either.  Breaking into a business or career takes special carving to find the niche market or appropriate audience for what you have to sell or share. Similarly, developing a good relationship of any kind takes some creative sculpting to find what works and what doesn’t, to compromise, bridge gaps and reach an accord between you and someone else. I want to share some insights that have helped my clients to release what is wasteful or restrictive in one’s life and embrace what’s good in one’s experience or to make more of it.

1) Set intentions or goals.  Have a long or short-range trajectory of what you want is the most important key to eventually reaching your dream.  It is the forerunner of all plans, strategies and tactics.  But be specific – really go for what you want with gusto.  Envision what would make you satisfied.  Rehearse it!  See and even feel yourself getting what you want more everyday.  Put actions in place that will get you closer to your goal, day by day.  Take those actions consistently as if your life depended on their importance.  Before you know it, you’ll have reached your destination and you’ll feel proud of the journey you took to find what you were looking for.  takeachanceYou’ll also quickly discover what you needed to let go of – what you didn’t need – to get there.  Shed it and be glad of its lesson.  There’s more good on the way, set by your needs, desires and intentions.  Goals are like light through darkness; intentions are steps toward the light.


2) Let intuition guide you.  Your gut instincts are usually right.  Inside each of us there is an inner voice, a guide – the most positive part of ourselves – that always knows what’s right.  It also knows what’s wrong and what we must let go of,  avoid or diminish so that we can reach our higher purpose and do more good in the world.  The voice in your head is your intuition.  Footprints in the sand on beach near San José del Cabo, Mexico at sunriseIf you believe something is coming or you feel funny about a certain person or situation, you may well be correct.  Don’t dismiss that powerful inkling, it’s your sixth sense taking to you.  The more you listen to your intuitive voice, the stronger it gets.  Practice listening to what you know is right and what doesn’t work will also become obvious.  If your gut says, “yes” – go for it!  If the answer is “no,” respect that guidance and honor it by choosing better.  Your intuition wants what’s best for you, so allow it to lead you to carving out more good.

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3) Trust the process.  Nothing worth having comes overnight or without work and commitment.  We impose a lot of limits on ourselves, restrictions to what would make our lives better, because we don’t trust that our efforts will be rewarded.  Well, the result never comes first.  It takes perseverance to reach what we want.  Accepting that everything comes with a process and has an ultimate purpose, helps us get where we want to go.  Setting up systems for success allows you to track your progress and adapt it as needed.  The process is the way goals are met and successes made.  We set up challenges and we knock ’em down in order to move ahead.  Some of the great business people, artists and leaders of the world admit that they had to fail many times in order to find success.  trailRWEIn the process of failure they learned what they needed to do to succeed.  Like Tony Robbins says, “sometimes you’re just a millimeter off from what it takes to reach your goal.”  That’s the worst time to stop going for it.  Letting go of a need for perfection or instant gratification can help also you in the process of finding success.  Also, remember to trust yourself to make the journey, to learn and grow at your own pace.  Be true to you and who knows what you can do?

4) Show fear who’s boss.  Fear can become a paralyzing restriction in attaining your goals and carving out what you want from life.  We have fears for good reasons: to protect, defend or avoid harm.  Fear is part of our evolutionary survival mechanism, but it often doesn’t serve us all that well in modern life.  Fear is the root negative emotion.  It can turn into avoidance, escapism, intimidation, shame, frustration, anxiety, depression, hatred or rage.  fearchangeFear should never be a wall between you and what you want, as long as what you want does no harm.  If you intend something negative, then you should be afraid of your intentions.  Sloughing off fear is cutting away the dross that doesn’t serve your greater goal.  A big fear a lot of folks have is that in sharing or expressing what they want or their truth that they will be judged poorly and that they will reveal what they actually are afraid of.  Or they’re afraid they’ll share what makes them vulnerable or what they least like about themselves and be rejected for it.  Such fears come with being human and wanting to belong.  fearfalseevidenceBut we are each unique individuals and must add our special color and texture to the fabric of humanity for its betterment.  Facing your fears takes away their power, too.  Letting go of fear is essential when carving out what’s good for you and the world.

5) Don’t over-think it.  Over-analyzing is the #1 killer of creativity and mastering what you need to get what you want out of life – your good.  Creativity and criticism cannot operate in the same space at the same time.  One over-rules the other every time they meet.  Thinking about something too much or dwelling and worrying is about as bad as procrastinating in keeping you from what good you deserve.  It also becomes a form of repetitive stress on the central nervous system.  Ruminating too long actually blocks the good will of the universe, which is truly here to support your good efforts.  overthink2Having faith that what’s good for you is really for the good of all is one way of beating the need to over-think.  Take action, whatever small step you can to make your dream a reality and then step away from it.  Go for a walk, eat some pie, pet your cat and then go back to problem solving.  Either you control your thoughts or they control you.  Again, it can’t be over-stated that perfectionism and procrastination are forms of wasteful, worrisome emotion and over-analysis.  If you trust yourself enough to give yourself even 75% credit that what you want or need is actually GOOD for you, just do it!  Get off it, get over it and get going already!

6) Be open to guidance.  Be it an expert or specialist in your field, a trusted friend, a teacher, spiritual leader or yoga instructor, take in whatever advice comes your way with an open mind.  You never know when inspiration will strike or what bit of advice will spur you on to greater things.  Dreams are wonderful guides to the subconscious needs we have.  Listen to what your mind and heart are telling you and you’ll realize many of the answers you need are within.  Let go of judgment and accept everything you’re told as help.  I often say. “I’ll have to consider that” or “I’ll take that under advisement” when I encounter a new idea or bit of wisdom, no matter the source.  We are truly each others reflection and all a part of the same sphere of consciousness.  teacher1So, let go of any thought that you and only you know what’s best and lovingly accept the messages that wind up on your desk.  You never know when a little bird might give you the few inspiring words you needed to find your fuller self.  Some people actually love to help you carve out your good!


7) It’s all temporary and you’re not done growing!  If life was static and we all were exactly who and what we’re meant to be, I think life would be pretty boring and perhaps the world would stop turning.  Sometimes we just have to step out of our own way and accept that we have more to learn and nothing is set in stone.  Everything is temporary.  There is no constant but change.  Being flexible and rolling with the punches is a bedrock behavior for those who wish to find fulfillment.  Ask for what you want and then find ways to get it.  If you reach a dead end, you turn around, dig under or learn to fly over your obstacle.  Be willing to learn and grow everyday.  Try new approaches and be adaptable – be willing to change – and you’ll find what you’re looking for.truetoyourselfDrS  It’s got to be worth something to you, so let go of what ever is holding you back – fear of change, old messages of lack or limitation, whatever makes you feel insecure – and lock onto what will enrich you if you dare to make the journey.  Be willing to grow past what you know, past your ego and even what you think is true and you’ll find everything is relative, temporary and contingent on your willingness to try something new.


Here are a few more inspiring thoughts that may also help you carve out your good and let go of what no longer serves you:

“Everyday, just find two things: something that inspires you to do more good and something that you feel immense gratitude for, and you’ll begin to live your own miracle.”

“If you don’t want to open the front door to see what good may come, afraid of the bad air that may accompany it, at least crack open a window and take a breath of the prevailing winds.  Some good may blow in!”

“Swim as though there are no life preservers.”

“If you never show and share your true self and never strive for what you want, how will anyone know you or learn to love you?  How will you ever help, heal, enrich or enlighten the world or yourself?”

“Everyday I am challenged and enriched as much as I allow myself to be.” trynewthings

 

 

 

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Distractica

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            This post is one of my social commentary logs.  I’m compelled to write about how advancing technology, communication and social trends of the new millennium have reshaped how we relate to each other and ourselves.  I’m calling this “Distractica” to draw attention to the distracting quality of how many of us lead our lives within the new paradigm of instantaneous gratification and expression.  It’s a brave new world of communication and connectivity we live in, which is a natural evolution of our technological advancement. But our ability to “reach out and touch someone” has become so rapidly far-reaching, it comes with certain social pitfalls, complications and repercussions.  I have to wonder, how will our advancement in technology and communication impact our sense of personal wellness?

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            In my opinion, the consequences of our lightning-speed capacity for sharing include increased distractedness, dependency on and overuse of technology, also its potential misuse, a disconnection from present time/space/people in the room and mismanaged time and energy.  With the availability of ubiquitous mobile smart phones and tablets we have access to more information and more people than ever, at any given time.  We hear more buzzes, beeps and bytes than ever before.  We’ve become subject to various electronic alerts, updates and cyber-interruptions, 24/7.  I think most people can agree this has lead to shortened attention spans, greater impatience, social ineptitude and generally more of a self-centered attitude in a world already plagued by media-ADD and an entitlement mentality.  We have so many more ways of seeing and hearing each other than ever, yet does this trend promote more understanding or more confusion?  Are our new toys making us more distanced, isolated, callused and cold – or do the old rules of how we deal with each other no longer apply?  The miraculous if harried cycle of sound bites we endure while digesting daily media has no precedence.  There are more memes and ringtones making us repost and turn our heads than ever.  Commercial advertising has gone absurd just to catch our attention.  The computer, TV or cell goes on and we tune out.  And the peace that can be found by turning them off is rarely even considered. 

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            The new tools of communication and information sharing we’ve acquired are so sparkly and fresh to the human experience; we haven’t had the chance to adopt effective rules of polite engagement and social etiquette to cope with its breakneck advancement.  Is there any turning back or must we evolve a new set of manners and behaviors when it comes to using these new tools?  Progress dictates that some older modes of operation are discarded and while new practices are implemented.  But all changes, even positive ones, come with consequences.  If our new technologies and corresponding behaviors represent the changes progress dictates, are we really improving life?  Or are we simply adjusting to the new variables of a more closely knit world? Are the social ills of becoming more connected simply our society’s growing pains?

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            What’s the worth of our new technological and social progression and do its benefits outweigh its costs? Distracted workers, drivers, teachers and students trying to “multitask” (not a likely ability considering our selective binocular vision – probably made up by corporations to increase productivity) and trying to keep up with the pressure of responding to endless social media bonds, distracting games and on-the-go entertainment are making our work places less productive, our roads less safe and our education more disjointed than ever.  We may be instant messaging someone in Rangoon but we’ve forgotten who’s in the room.  Our need to be valued, to update so many aspects of our lives in real time and respond quickly to others may be masking a more profound need to earn love and respect from those we cherish and admire.  I’m afraid our incredibly fantastic new tools are becoming fad toys, social status symbols, ego boosters and ways of avoiding direct communication, rejection and responsibility.  They’re also becoming an unprecedented din that desensitizes us to our environments and each other.

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            I want to use the example of our society’s response to the first phonograph technology to illustrate my point.  When preliminary phones went into use and people could suddenly communicate across great distances it was an amazing convenience and made possible whole new social connections and coordination.  But it was just a tool, a way of making information flow faster and easier.  Much like the incandescent bulb made life more convenient because we didn’t have to fuss with candles and kerosene anymore, telephones and later cellular phones made it easier to talk with loved ones, network and spread knowledge.  A “car phone” was just that when it came out – a phone for the car, to be used in case of emergencies – a really great tool when needed.  But it also became a toy, a distraction, and lots of people have died while using it, especially when it became a truly mobile device and keystrokes got involved.  These examples are all tools, which humanity can use or misuse to their success or folly.  But when we’re misusing technology, are we just “playing around” with it?  When does it all become too much distraction?  When do we kill the noise?

            When I was a teenager we didn’t have call waiting or voice mail yet.  If we called each other and the other phone line was busy, we had to call back later or leave an answering machine message.  This seemed inconvenient even though it was the highest tech of the time and much better than what generations past had to deal with.  I remember my friends and I would actually call the operator and ask him or her to perform an “emergency breakthrough” to communicate to our chatty pals that we were trying to reach them.  It was almost like an operator assisted call waiting with the feel of a collect call.  We did it all the time until the phone company figured out that our social calls were not real emergencies and discontinued the service.  We abused the tool and it was taken away.  I don’t see how our over-reliance on smart phones is going to get any better though or that we’ll have to give up our abused and taken-for-granted conveniences anytime soon.  I wonder, what will the consequences of inflating Facebook and Twitter egos, dizzying text message communications and mindless Youtube entertainment finally be on our psyches, cultural development and social compact be?  If we don’t take time off the veritable Merry-Go-Round of media distractions, where will we wind up going – in circles?  If our world is becoming more complicated, aren’t we the ones who can make it simpler again?  Do we need a mega EM pulse to accidentally (or purposely) shut everything off to show us we can all live without so many technological crutches and maybe make more real connections to actual live human beings?  I doubt, however, that the sacrifice would make people LOL.  BTW, isn’t there something a bit weird about saying “LOL” in spoken conversation, as opposed to actually laughing aloud?  Hmmm…

Computer Logos Reflected in Eyeball - Apr 2009

            Now, please, don’t get me wrong… I love technology.  It’s a beautiful thing!  When it’s well used with respect for others.  It’s a phenomenal tool, hopefully to be used with the best intentions.  However, I think we need some rules, some parameters for using technology with sense and dignity.  Youtubing videos of one’s drunken escapades, texting pictures of one’s nether regions – while driving, arguing about a misunderstanding with someone through instant messages, irritating the world with obnoxious ringtones, keeping your eyes on your i-phone while walking down the street oblivious to traffic, “sexting” at work, Skyping video games all day (though at least its interactive), posting status updates of your hilarious cat (mine are just as cute) and tweeting your every other move may not be the most dignified social media behavior (or regular behavior) in my book.  In fact, #RIDIC!  Its also a wonder anyone under twenty years old can even spell with our newly (sadly) accepted, abbreviated, texting lingo.  OMG!

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           Like every other tool, this new technology does need some rules to make the playing field fair and just for all and stigmas attached to breaking them.  But, who sets them and how when the paradigm shift was never given any order?  How do we leash and curb a pack of wild dogs?  How do we make up etiquette for something that has been given no such regard and allowed to ramble aimlessly with wanton disregard for any sense of decorum?  Or is this apparent misuse of technology just a sign of the times – that we’ve lost most other forms of social responsibility, too?  That we’ve become essentially socially unaccountable – anonymous and untouchable – even though we see and hear from each other more than ever?

            I don’t propose to have all the answers – I’m but a philosopher looking at the issues we all face and sharing my opinions with you.  But I think its important to at least address the new trend and see it for what it is – misuse of one’s energy and attention, sometimes to the point of abuse.  If we trend this way too long I foresee a bit of an attention deficit disaster on the horizon.  What if we continue to disrespect this tool and keep defiling each others integrity, privacy and values?  The rude person who talks loudly about the underwear they just bought on their cell during a movie or while out to dinner should understand that they are disturbing another person’s right to have a peaceful night out.  I don’t need to know the intimate details of that person’s life, but they seem to feel it should be broadcast.  It screams of self-importance and indignity.  I wish they’d hang up on their distractions and find some higher purpose or consciousness.  Not everything is meant to be entertaining or amusing, yes?  I just don’t think we’re meant to have so much information and so many diversions available to us at all times, in all places, without some common sense of how and when to use it properly. When a member of our society ignores their screaming child to text or make a comment on Facebook or Youtube, what does that say about our society’s priorities?  Its values?  Its future?Idiocracy_PosterB

            The hand-held revolution is becoming an excuse for a bad behavior free-for-all and parents, teachers, civic leaders, the media and storytellers ought to take some responsibility and help young people realize the error of making life-long “e-choices” they may one day regret.  Once you post it – its there for eternity!  If we don’t wise up and use these tools with care and constraint, we’re going to have a confused and discombobulated generation who think amusement is more important than achievement and we’ll wind up with a society and economy like the movie Idiocracy.  I make no apologies for my opinion – I think its all going way to fast, we haven’t caught up or adapted all that well and we aren’t really learning or teaching better ways to implement our technology to promote better social skills and information sharing that makes sense and isn’t just a colossal distraction from making this world a better place for all.  Kids are already distracted enough just being kids and having access to instant everything only makes them more spoiled, entitled and confounded.  The choices are only going to get tougher, too.  But, what do we decide to do about it?  Ignoring this or being distracted by its lure won’t make it go away.  Through the cacophony, can you hear me now?  LOL!

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           I have some advice for those who think technology has its place but that it shouldn’t dictate how we spend our time and energy.  How we form relationships is vital to how well we live, so we must understand that it can be challenging not to get caught up in keeping up with the maelstrom of potential connectivity when you really do want to stay in touch.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be friends with the world or anything wrong with wanting to limit our exposure to a sometimes inundating onslaught of modern sociability.  My best suggestion – every so often just unplug!  Take an hour or two everyday or a couple times each week to just turn your mobile devices off.  Set aside some down time to take a walk in nature, read an old fashioned book, meditate on your place in the universe or meet with friends for coffee – but without performing your habitual online check-ins.  Ignore those pushy alerts by setting your phone to “alarm only” and keep a healthy distance from the frantic pace of friendly Facebook posts.  If your kids are out of control with their online life, limit their time on their devices or at least check in with them now and then and ask how their “real” life is going.  We all need down time – true rest and relaxation – but surfing the internet and scrolling through social media sites and even watching TV don’t constitute true down time.  Such activities are actually too stimulating for the mind to rest and regenerate.  Dare to go “off the grid” and notice if you rush a bit less or have less general anxiety or if you happen to notice oncoming traffic.  And don’t feel guilty about tuning out!  Your true friends will understand and your thumbs will thank you for the rest.  And remember, a hand-held device can never replace holding someone’s hand.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” ~Albert Einstein

“Men have become the tools of their tools.” ~Henry David Thoreau

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” ~Aldous Huxley

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” ~Gertrude Stein

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Trade-offs: The Art of Compromise

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            Ever notice that to get something you want out of life you often have to give something else up?  Everything begotten in life comes with a price – a sacrifice or compromise of some kind.  If you want a new car or home, you need to spend time, effort, energy and money earned to purchase one.  Nothing is free.  Everything’s a trade-off.  Even “free time” has to be spent in some way.  If you spend your free time napping, you won’t get to read that new book you’ve wanted to crack.  If you would rather watch your favorite soap opera, you may be giving up your exercise time.  The same is true with indulgences.  If you eat dessert before dinner, you may not get to fully enjoy your pot roast.  It works the same with energy and emotion, too.  If you invest yourself in worry and doubt, you can’t feel confident or self-assured.  If your efforts are spent on being a great leader, you really can’t just sit back and be a follower, as well.  If you want to win the marathon you can’t well smoke three packs of cigarettes a day.

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You don’t have to go to extremes to see how one thing trades for another.  It’s not just about choice.  It’s about the big trade-offs and how they shape your life.  You go left instead of right and you find a path either way.  Turning left may lead you somewhere you don’t like.  But you can turn around and you can always turn right.  The point is how does the trade work for or against you.  Do you trade your time and energy to create good or do you squander it? It’s always a choice and either way you face the consequences and own the results.

compromise1We have to find work, a trade, business – a way to serve – to trade that service for what we want.  In college we have to narrow our field of study and pick a major.  If you decide to study basket weaving, you can’t also dedicate yourself to attaining a political science degree.  Some people are talented and organized enough to try for both, but most will lose ground one way or the other.  The concept of multi-tasking encourages a tight rope-balancing act of doing many things at once, but it’s an unrealistic endeavor.  You may be able to switch focus many times in a row, but you’re never really paying full attention to more than one task at once.  The same is true for every trade-off in life: you have to give up one thing for another in most cases.  Career versus family, risk versus safety, practicality versus fun – even health versus disease – all choices that involve compromise and won’t allow for contradiction.  Two decisions can’t exist in the same being at the same time.  Sometimes you have to trade what you want for what you actually need.

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Relationships are all about commitments and compromise.  Negotiating one person’s needs and desires with anothers is an art form, even a science, which requires a give and take to satisfy both parties.   If you have a family you know this is true.  You can’t go on a Vegas party vacation and provide consistent care and stability for those you love without some sacrifice.  If you’re developing a trusting partnership with someone, you can’t lie and cheat on them.  The contradiction creates so much internal stress that the trust you’re fighting for becomes meaningless and you wind up not being true to yourself or them.  If you want to be a team player in business, you probably shouldn’t ignore your team’s needs for your own.  Negotiating compromises in relationships is delicate because no one gets exactly what they want but they come closer to the middle where there is peace, resolution or satisfaction.  Trying to be selfless and selfish at the same time just won’t work.  Energy spent one way means it cannot be spent another.  There’s only so much of you to go around. powerfree           We all want the freedom of choice in life.  Choice denotes power and responsibility.  Too much choice can be tricky.  A need for too much freedom can become chaotic or imprison you in overwhelming liberty, lost in a sea of choices.  It can wind up becoming over-indulgence or abuse and you wind up running out of energy, getting sick, broke or worse.  Similarly, indecision, indifference, lack of discipline and abuse or over-indulgence can mean giving up your freedom, relinquishing your power to choose a different path.  We keep ourselves from being free, from following our dreams and from testing our limits to stay protected from the ramifications our bold choices can and do make.  Self-empowerment and encouragement are paths to wellness and success.  They allow you to make the big choices that shape your life and lead to your personal happiness.   The worst decision is making none.  Without willingness to compromise you can guarantee failure.  The worst failure comes from not trying.  When you try, you’ll find you have to give in at times, to get what you want out of your trial.  This is the course of learning and growth that we must all traverse.  Inaction is the compromise cowards make with themselves.  Action, effort, trial – possible failure – these are the compromises one must make to gain what is sought. 

 riskrewardNone of us need be limited by what we may have to give up.  The only limitation we impose on ourselves is what we are willing to do to get what we want.  But sometimes our emotions get in the way of our ability to compromise and choose what’s greater.  We can stay stuck in one mode of being, stubbornly clinging to what we can predict, ultimately sacrificing our freedom and success for safety.  To end the duality, hypocrisy and contradiction, we have to take the risk of re-programming what we are willing to trade for what we want.  Often it means giving up fear and anger or some vice.  Trade-offs are risks.  But how do we overcome our fears and doubts of the untried or unknown to make life better?  How do we trade those feelings, those limits, for what we really want to experience?

limits2To negotiate the freedom we desire, to keep the power and choice we want, to find fulfillment, to go beyond our negative emotions and preconceived notions, we must be willing to trade.  Below I have written a set of emotions and actions, choices and compromises, which show how to trade what you want for what you don’t.  One the left you’ll see experiences that usually won’t serve you and on the right you’ll see options for what can resolve patterns of self-sacrifice and self-undoing.  A tried and true trick for trading off negatives for positives is to focus your energy on the opposite of what you want to change. 

einstein-quotes1            There’s a metaphysical way to speed up the process of compromising one feeling experience for another that works wonders.  It’s called “finger holding.”  While you meditate on the proposed opposites, try taking ten deep breaths while holding the finger that matches the state of mind or emotions you want to change.  My experience is that this simple meditation and self-acupressure technique should be practiced as often as needed to reset and recharge your energy and redirect your decision making abilities.  I suggest starting with the right and holding the left hand’s fingers working in thumb-to-pinky order.  Then work the right hand’s fingers with your left hand. Keep light to moderate pressure on each hold and after ten breaths or about 30-45 seconds you can let go and move on to the next finger.  The process should take three to five minutes.  Think of it as a sweep, to clear the hands for giving and receiving and cover your bases for emotional self-maintenance.  Especially if it’s an emotional issue , hold the corresponding finger on your left hand with your right.  If it’s more of a mental or intellectual issue, hold your right fingers with your left hand.  Practicing this meditative technique actually changes the way your nerves fire, shifts your energy and focus and clears the way for positive compromise – the trade offs you need and want to become happy, healthy, successful, wise and well.

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Opposites:                                                                              Finger to hold:

Doubt/worry/shame vs. Trust/confidence/pride                         Thumb

Fear/intimidation/anxiety vs. Love/bravery/passion                  Index

Anger/frustration/guilt vs. Calm/patience/forgiveness              Middle

Grief/sadness/depression vs. Joy/happiness/pleasure               Ring

Desire/longing/lack vs. Fulfillment/peace/gratitude                  Little

earth-heart1Remember: love and approve of yourself first and you’ll never be compromised!

Be well & be inspired! ~Namaste

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Meditation Recharge

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            The last couple posts have been about beating stress and finding peace in your life.  In my previous post, “Pray It Forward,” I outlined the benefits of prayer and connecting with your higher self.  Another proven method for finding your divine power and gaining control over your emotions is meditation.  Meditation is a simple, if often misunderstood way to help you minimize stress and develop good habits of wellness over time.  Try the meditation techniques below any given morning, noon or night to recharge, renew and revitalize your day…

Hammock Hanging from Trees

            Find a relaxing place where you won’t be disturbed, close out any distractions and turn off any hand-held devices.  Lying flat on your back or seated in a comfortable reclined position allow your body weight to sink into the surface you’re resting on.  Close your eyes and let your head feel heavy.  Allow your arms and legs to feel heavy, loose and relaxed, like every bone is made of lead.  Imagine feeling a warm wave of relaxation move up from your feet through your legs into your pelvis and spine, moving up through your torso and out through both arms to your hands and fingers.  The warm wave relaxes every part of your body it touches.  Feel it move up through your shoulders and neck, relaxing your throat.  Feel it move up through your head, relaxing your jaw and tongue, relaxing all your facial muscles, all the way up through your scalp.  Feel your eyelids relax.  Notice how heavy, loose and relaxed your whole body has become.  Now notice your breathing.  Notice the natural rhythm and flow of your breath, moving in and out, like the tides of the ocean, ebb and flow, each breath slowing down, deeper and deeper relaxed.  Feel the breath washing over you like a warm wave, whisking away tension.  Feel every breath easing your mind, clearing and calming your body, healing and purifying your soul – energizing every part of you.  As your breath slows, feel it becoming your guide to deeper and deeper levels of total mind and body relaxation.  Allow yourself to feel heavy, letting gravity take over until your whole body is limp and loose.  Let your breath lead you as you give in to a serene feeling, surrendering to your breath, allowing it to guide you deeper into restorative, peaceful, gentle relaxation.  Find a quiet stillness within, a sense of serenity, centered on how calm your breath can become…

breathedeeply            Now feel how relaxed your body has become and know that you can go ten times deeper relaxed just by thinking of going ten times deeper relaxed.  You relax so easily, it’s so easy to just let go and give into gravity.  Notice how heavy your arms and legs feel.  Feel yourself sinking and melting down, deeper into the comfortable surface below you.  Feel your eyeballs sinking into their sockets, sinking deep into your head.  Feel your navel sinking deep into your abdomen, deep down to your spine.  As your sink and melt down, giving into gravity, feeling long and loose and limp and heavy, your body begins to feel lighter and freer.  So light and free that you can begin to drift and float.  Drifting and floating up as if on a bed of air, on a cloud or onto a raft that floats down a lazy river off to a beautiful, peaceful, natural place, there just for you to relax.  It’s the most peaceful place you can imagine.  Allow all the details of that place and time to fill in around you so you can see yourself there.  Now feel yourself there.  Feel the comfort and tranquility all around you.  Notice your breathing, so free and calm and deeply relaxed…

relax-recline            Find a place in that space where you can just lie down and relax.  Maybe it’s a cool, grassy hillside or a warm, sandy beach or a hammock strung up in the shade.  See and feel yourself there, allowing yourself to just lie down and relax there and experience that peaceful place and time just as real as any other experience.  Feel your belly rise and fall with each breath as the breath winds down, winds you down, deeper relaxed.  Allow your mind to wander back to your breath, allow your breath to wind down.  Bathe and bask in the light and warmth of that place and time.  Soak in all the peaceful feelings of that place and time, drinking in those peaceful, serene feelings through every pore.  Absorb those calm, harmonious feelings with every breath until they fill you up inside.  Feel yourself so full of peace and light and joy until it pours back out of you, radiating from you like a star.  Feel yourself shining brightly in all directions, sending out light and love to all those you cherish.  Now take a moment more to notice how radiantly joyful and peaceful you feel all over…

meditation-recline            Take those feelings of serenity and bliss with you for the rest of your day and evening and beyond as a deep sense of harmony and tranquility, of energy and vitality in your life.  Keep that sense of peace and calm with you as you being to return your awareness to the room you’re in, to the present time.  Begin to wiggle your fingers and toes and blink your eyes, adjusting back to the light of the room you’re in now.  Coming back all the way, wide awake and aware, full of energy and vitality, refreshed and recharged all over.  Take one more deep breath and hug yourself with both arms and as you exhale, hold yourself and affirm your health and well being in this moment and feel grateful for your healthy, beautiful body and mind.

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            As you practice this meditation its effects will increase over time.  I hope it brings you the calm, clarity and energy that is has so many of my students through the years.  It should take you no more than five to ten minutes to practice each time you do this meditation.  Please do set an alarm if you have to get up after this meditation as it will profoundly relax you and may cause you to drift off to sleep.  As you practice finding that inner space of peace it will become easier to relax at any time, easier to visualize and feel yourself calm, centered and energized in any situation. As you can see, this process has nothing to do with a certain religion or belief system and is designed to be universally effective.  If prayer is asking your higher power for something in question, meditation opens the space in your mind where the answer can be heard.  Since meditation should be a practice that fits your life I suggest finding the right time and space for you to make it a habit.  Try different kinds of background music, chanting, chimes or water sounds to take you there.  Hindu and Buddhist traditions offer plenty of meditative practices, doing yoga or tai chi can work wonders and New Age movements have diversified what meditation can mean.  It’s up to you how you want to meditate, but it takes time, effort and discipline for it to work in your favor.  Remember, no matter how you practice, start off small and simple and allow it to build over time.  It’s a process that processes.

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            Another way you can simply recharge and unwind is to lie quietly for a few moments and take some deep, slow breaths, picturing your mind as a cluttered desk.  Begin removing one item at a time from that desk – papers, envelopes, bills, notes, post-its, pens, paper clips, etc.  Just take them away one at a time and see the desk being cleared.  If you have trouble with that visualization try taking a deep breath in with your eyes open and then close your eyes as you exhale.  Each exhale should take a little longer than the last so your eyelids stay closed longer and longer.  Feel your eyelids becoming droopier and the feeling of drowsiness coming over you, breath by breath.  Finally, allow your eyes to remain closed and keep breathing deeply.  Then imagine your thoughts (images, words, plans, feelings) bubbling up from your mind like soap or hot water bubbles.  Allow your mind to slow down and see your thoughts encased in those bubbles and watch them, one by one, floating up and out of your mind, into the sky.  Soon there are fewer and fewer bubbles and your mind becomes empty, blank and open – relaxed, receptive and free.  This process clears the mind and can be attributed to Transcendental Meditation (TM), which helps the mind relax and open to the process of letting go and receiving the guidance you need to feel good.  Even just sitting quietly for a few minutes a day, daydreaming or taking a “meditative walk” a few times a week can also help you to recharge and overcome stress.  Hypnosis therapy is another effective technique to teach you how to relax, reprogram your mind and begin a meditative practice.  Seek out the help you want and you will find the help you need.  I hope these methods of meditation help you to feel and be your best!  Please keep exploring the power of your mind to make positive changes and create new, empowering habits in your life.  I’d love to hear how they work for you.

bubbles1One more tip!  Remember that meditation is the process of letting go and clearing your mind so a greater consciousness can filter in, recharge and inspire you.  When practicing, gently continue redirecting your thoughts with this suggestion: What else can I release?  Then let whatever you find drift away until you feel open, relaxed and receptive.  Then and only then will meditation begin to work for you, within your life.

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😀

Be well… Namaste.

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Want Power Over Your Stress? Under-react!

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            Folks are leading more and more complicated lives and having to deal with more stress than ever these days.  Is it the same for you?  Have you flipped, freaked or fallen ill due to stress in the past year?  Even with more conveniences, more tools for communication and a better overall quality of life, we have more on our plates than ever.  Whether it’s work, family, finances, travel, health or any other part of life, we have lots to juggle and never enough time in any given day to keep all the balls in the air without stressing out.  Stress is the number 1 killer in the U.S. and contributes greatly to an increasing prevalence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes among our populace.  We are all becoming more prone to overreaction and anxiety than ever before, it’s literally killing us, but we can fight back.   So, how do we get off the stress conveyer belt and stay healthy without neglecting our responsibilities and aspirations?  I have practiced and instructed others to do one simple mental technique when stress becomes unmanageable: under-react.

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            It takes practice, but when you’re stressing, give yourself a mental cue to stop and take a moment for yourself to process everything that’s going on around and inside you.  Breathe and take your emotional reaction down a few notches by will.  It may seem too easy, but it really works.  Simply taking a deep breath and realizing that you are only one person, everything’s temporary and the world will keep on turning whether you stress out or not can give you enough perspective to relax.  The human condition is evolved for and demands relaxation time to deal with stress, but we often forget to give ourselves a time out.  Not resting and relaxing enough creates a pressure-cooker within the body and mind.  Eating wrong, taking stimulants and other drugs, drinking and not working out makes things even worse.  Whenever we stress out, adrenalin and cortisol surge, finger nails can get bitten, friends and family can get their heads bitten off and our bodies can get very sick.  Then we feel even worse for having our over-reactive stress response and hurting others and ourselves in the process.  It can become a vicious cycle of pain, lowered immunity, self-abuse, social rejection, anxiety and depression – but we can off the not-so-merry-go-round of stress with some simple mental redirection. 

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            Since we don’t have sabre-toothed tigers or cave bears trying to eat us every other day, we use our adrenalin to battle traffic, worry over bills and tense up when our boss micro-manages.  That automatic, defensive streak is meant to protect us and has been a benefit to our survival until the present.  But allowing that fight-or-flight energy explosion to surge only depletes us, adding to the negative feedback loop initiated by what set us off.  The best thing is to stop the melt-down before it begins.  Working out, eating right, sleeping eight hours, long walks, peaceful music and positive thinking aren’t always enough to combat stress, especially when we have no control and no power to change what effects us.  Often we have to change how we think about stress and better understand our reaction to it in order to manage and alleviate it, which we thankfully have some power over.

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            When something stresses you out, try under-react.  I know it sounds simple, but that’s the point.  Let me elaborate: turn down the volume in your head and dial back your emotional reaction to the most minimal response possible when you feel stress growing inside you.  If heavy traffic gives you “road rage” or having your mail delivered late makes you want to “go postal” ask yourself, why am I losing my cool?  Then give yourself a rating on a scale of 1-10 of how irate you feel.  You have to slow down and catch yourself for this to work.  Once you do, see where you fall on that scale and scale back your reaction.  If you get a 7 to 10 reading, your blood pressure has definitely spiked.  Take at least three deep breaths, exhaling completely with each.  Remember that you are only in control of you.  Regain your composure and sit down if you can.  See if you can calm yourself to a 3 or 4 rating.  Practicing this stress-relieving technique over time works wonders as you see potential “ten+” reactions shrink down to one’s and two’s.  When I encounter a lot of stress or my coaching clients bring up their stress levels, I’ll ask, will this issue matter in ten years time?  Is this a life or death issue?  If the answer is “no,” then it isn’t worth the upheaval.  If it’s a “yes,” then perhaps you ought to feel some pressure to fix what’s stressing you and start making changes in your life to mitigate stress.   

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            One of my clients loves the term “un-bothered,” which I now use to describe the under-reaction technique.  She says it helps her to remember that it’s up to her whether external stressors bother her or not.  The less she is bothered by potential stress the lower degree of negative emotional response she has.  Put another way, the less reactive energy and emotional focus we give to stress the less power it has over us, the less it effects us.  Cancelling some of what might normally irk you gives you emotional power to overcome greater obstacles, too.  When you don’t know how else to dial down your angst, remember to ask yourself, is the issue at hand really such a big deal?  Did you really see the earth shatter under your feet?  Will it actually matter someday?  Try under-reacting the next time you want to freak out and see if you feel better and can handle the stress better for doing so.

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“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

Be well!  ~Namaste.

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Purge Journal

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            I think it’s important to invest in daily self-reflection to live a purposeful life.  Yet the stresses of daily living can keep us from leaving time to look within and contact the best parts of ourselves.  Its easy to get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of life without much time left for thoughtful reflection of one’s thoughts, feelings, motivations and actions.  But even just a small time commitment each day to exploring one’s inner workings can be well worth the while.  All journaling is useful – they can usually help you to understand yourself better somehow.  I am a huge fan of food and exercise journaling as a personal trainer and have seen the effects of such accountability greatly benefit my clients through the years.  But what I want to suggest, a “purge journal,” is a bit different and can be an invaluable tool in your mental and emotional development and well-being.

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            A daily journal or diary is a great way of getting back in touch with what moves you and makes you special – of what power you have to make your life satisfying and successful.  Plus, it gives you a way to dump the daily build up of tension in your body and mind in a safe and regular fashion.  Simply put, purging your stress on paper keeps it from festering within you.  It also gives you a chance to understand where you’re coming from and why you make the decisions you do.  It acts as a form of therapy by allowing you to guide yourself through your desires and make changes with confidence.  It would be challenging to overstate the benefits of writing a bit each day to find clarity in your mind and serenity in your life.  A purge journal is a great way to begin or enhance that process.

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            Stream-of-consciousness writing seems to work best when developing a “purge journal.”  Since you want to get out whatever is on your mind, just dumping what’s on the top of your head first is always best.  Thought by thought, feeling by feeling, you just write it all down.  There’s no wrong way to go about it.  Use pen and paper, type out a digital journal or even blog about it.  This technique works well for a “dream journal” as well, tracking your subconscious motives by making a log of your nightly visions.  A purge journal isn’t supposed to be anything more than an outlet for releasing stress.   It’s not a “dear diary” where you share your secret passions and hidden crushes, unless they have something to do with the stress that’s holding onto you.  Or are you holding onto it?  The purging process is meant to help you let go of what makes you feel fearful, agitated, sad, bound or frustrated or to spell out what you want to do to feel better.  If you write for long enough, usually three or four pages or fifteen to twenty minutes per entry, the answers to what you want to fix usually present themselves.

If you have a high-stress life, a purge journal is one of the best ways to beat mental and emotional stress and get back to business.  Unlike a daily diary your purge journal can be used at random, according to need, but must be turned to right away when you feel tense to be of use.  Use it everyday for a while at first if stress is a pressing issue.  As your internal pressure subsides by journaling about it you’ll probably need it less and less.  Also dissimilar to the aforementioned types of journal writing, the purge journal does need to be “kept” forever.  Just like the negative emotions stress creates – frustration, hatred, rage and disgust – you may not want to keep your purge journal entries.  You can bid them farewell once you’ve gotten out the anger and reviewed where you may need to grow.  Feel free to rip them out, delete ’em, chuck ’em or burn ’em!  Or do as one of my guru’s suggests, “Drop it in the toilet, do your business and flush!”  I think that drives home the point of letting the ugly stuff go.  I think the same holds true for a letter you need to write to someone who may have treated you wrong in your past.  You might not want to send it, but writing it is a great release.

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            So whether you’re a critical or creative type, the student or the professor, blue or white collar, a purge journal can be your new best friend if you want to live a low-stress life.  Stress can be a good motivator, but not when it accumulates to the point of adverse effects like illness, depression or irritability.  Processing out your tension in a journal also allows you to reflect on what helped you let go of it so you can draw on that example to combat future stress.  It’s like having a really good psychologist in your own head that takes intimately accurate notes that you can reference anytime you need to better know yourself.  “Know thyself and to thy own self be true” is the motto of the consummate journal writer.  Your inner life is gold, but sometimes much sand needs to be sifted through to find it.  Try just a few sentences or a paragraph each day for a week.  There’s really no right or wrong.  You write it out, accept it, put it away and move on with life.  You unload so it’s off your chest.  The benefits to your emotional well-being are found simply by the act of doing it.

Here’s how it works…

            Write down your impressions, what you notice about your behavior or feelings when you’re upset or stressed-out, any given day.  It could be a list of what’s bothering you but doesn’t have to include any immediate solutions unless they jump out at you in the course of your writing.  Anything that qualifies as self-expression will do.  Don’t read anything you’ve written for at least a week or two and never edit anything you write.  It’s the random thoughts, the mind’s wanderings we’re looking for.  A purge journal can make you feel quite open and vulnerable – it’s a starkly honest account of where you are in a given moment.  Feeling a bit insecure about what you’ve written down and admitting how you feel is a good sign of progress.  Your journal is not meant to be a critical expose of your life and no one else ever has to read it, so go easy on yourself as you purge.  Remember, getting to know yourself better is a process and some confessions are harder than others.  Writing this kind of journal is ultimately a safe way to find out what makes you tick, what brings you stress and what power you have over it.  It’s a simple way to to get what most people want out of life – peace, harmony, health and happiness.  It’s also a way to talk to your own inner guides and strengthen your intuition and bolster your emotional fortitude. 

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            You’ll find over a couple weeks of purge journal writing that you’re thinking better, feel clearer-headed and act more confidently.  Plus, your stress levels will plummet!  You’ll also find that you want to write in your purge journal more at once, but less often – because you’ve been managing and coping with your stress more efficiently.  Then, in a few weeks, you can go back and self-reflect on what you’ve written and see the patterns and passions behind your actions – and the purpose and worth of both your stress and its remedy.  Stress is a great teacher that makes you stronger and wiser and its lessons are an ongoing lecture.  I think it’s advisable to take some notes in a separate journal as you learn from what you’ve purged.  Notice how you grow as stress harms and limits you less and less.  Once you’ve grasped the lessons of your purge entries you can purge them along with the stress they represent!

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Have an urge to purge yet?  Be well!  ~Namaste

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ACV Detox

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            I believe it’s so important to detoxify the body (mind, emotions and spirit, too) every several weeks or after a long weekend of indulgences like alcohol, red meat and desserts.  Purging your body of unwanted free radicals, digestive waste and toxic residue on a regular basis can help you to be healthier and more energetic and preserve your general well being. For those of you who normally consume a lot of heavy foods and chemicals, it may be even more important to detox regularly!  Fatty, sugary or salty foods (especially preserved, pre-packaged or pre-made) damage the body on a cellular level and cause toxins to build up leading to inflammation, swelling, discomfort and irregularity of the digestive system.  Sedentary living can further exacerbate toxic build-up because lymph (the body’s garbage bins) can only be emptied through movement.  Drinking detox teas, taking liver and adrenal support formulas or programming selective food abstinence are helpful ways to purge unwanted gunk from your gut.  Giving your bowels a break by going vegetarian for a week can help, too.  Another effective way to dump the junk from your body is to stretch and perspire each day, but there are other ways to make sure your liver and intestines (the body’s main filters) stay happily functional and toxin free.  Yoga is my personal detox exercise.  But there are also items in your kitchen right now that can provide a quick, easy and effective detox today.

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            When we go to a party or have a long weekend of abandon from our regular, healthier routine, and we accidentally gorge on rich food and drink, toxins can collect quickly and G.I. relief can become a necessity.  Vacations and their palatable attractions can be as toxic as they are relaxing or exciting, making the skin act up, the tummy bulge and your moods start swaying.  We have to have ways of restoring our healthy glow as feeling bloated or hung-over can ruin a fun getaway, stay-cation, Bar-B-Q or buffet.  An easy, one-day detox is the fix I turn to when I feel like I ate my own weight in processed flour, pie or pulled pork.  Yes, I go there!  Half the fun of being as healthy as possible most of the time is getting to really indulge my appetites from time to time.  I like to try a bit of everything in moderation and share love with great excess.  Otherwise life can get stale.

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           Lots of physical activity, personal or professional pressure and long work or commuting hours can cause stress related toxins to surge.  The Pepto pals of indigestion, diarrhea, gas and upset stomach may be inevitable when we’re throwing nutritional caution to the wind or stressing ourselves with too much recreational to dos (and don’ts).  Acid Reflux disease has become so ubiquitous its practically an epidemic and nobody addresses the real issue: diet, stress and NOT ENOUGH acid in the stomach to break down food.  Some would disagree, but that’s my take.  That’s why “ACV” is so useful as a detox agent and good acid supplement for your tummy.  The detox I use to combat the host of digestive maladies works quickly and its all natural.  When I have too much fun or overdo my indulgences or even feel like I’m starting to get under the weather, I use a simple, harmless detox with ingredients most of us have in our pantries.  It acts like a flush for my whole digestive tract.  I usually feel better within a few minutes and, not to get too personal, I pee out the bloat within a few hours.  It’s cheaper than Lacy Labeaux, Yogi Ginger Detox or Nu-Slim detox teas (some of my favorites) and healthier than Ex Lax.  I have found that nutritional supplements like Betaine Hydrochloride (the acidic enzyme found in pineapple and your stomach) and a healthy spread of digestive enzymes and pro-biotics can help to correct most digestive disorders and promote general digestive well being.  I think it’s better than popping a million Tums or over the counter pharmaceuticals that may do more harm than good.  It’s always worthwhile to try something all natural and see if it works for you than to always turn to harsh chemicals (more toxins) when your body is out of whack.  My tummy is too sensitive for most of that over-the-counter stuff anyway.  But the detox drink I’ve had luck with is too easy and helpful not to share and usually works in a pinch, faster than most alternatives.

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            As with all my posts, I don’t promote this detox drink to treat or cure any disease and anything you eat should be thoroughly researched and taken with caution if new to your diet.  If you’re not sure, ask your doctor first.  You never know when you might be allergic to an ingredient or combination of ingredients!  My main goal is to promote general health and wellness in the readers and followers of my blog and share my experiences and knowledge.  There are many detoxes you can do every so often to promote good digestive health, many lasting days or weeks, but this is a one-shot, single day detox that you can do every week or so to keep yourself healthy or do after particularly digestively challenging events to restore good health.  Hope you like it and can pass it along…

The ingredients: 1 12-oz. glass of water (works best in a glass for stirring), the juice of 1 half lemon, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of pure organic honey or pure organic maple syrup and 1 to 3 dashes of powdered cayenne pepper.

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The benefits: The water rehydrates you (the cause of most headaches/hangovers is dehydration); the lemon juice cleanses your gall bladder (fat processor) and aids the liver (toxin filter) and adds vitamin C as an antioxidant; the apple cider vinegar (I call it “ACV” now) adds 22 essential vitamins and provides a pH balanced acid to the stomach and digestive tract – actually balancing acid levels so they’re not too strong or weak.  Often acid reflux is due to not having enough stomach acid to break down food, not too much!; the honey or syrup add some good polysaccharide sugars to boost immunity and cell health; and the cayenne pepper acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helping tone, flush, cleanse and repair digestive tissue.  All of the ingredients together create both a simple and effective digestive aid drink and a set of detoxifying agents to renew and restore the body’s energy and health, post-indulgence. Lemons1

Directions: In one twelve-oz. glass of water, add the juice of 1 half lemon, 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar and tsp of honey or syrup and stir rigorously until blended.  Add the dashes of cayenne pepper while it’s being stirred to better incorporate.  I usually add half the water last to help it mix and then stir like crazy until it swirls like a red tornado.  Sip it up fast (within a few minutes) and prepare for fiery cayenne lips, better digestion and quick detoxification.  Oh, and be near a bathroom the first six to eight hours after drinking while the detox phase is in effect.  This is not a good detox to take before a road trip.  Enjoy! syrup1

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~Hippocrates food-or-medicine

As always, I appreciate your feedback.  Please let me know how it worked for you.

~Namaste

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Pray it Forward

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            I think prayer is a fantastic tool for connecting with the divine part of you and experiencing a more whole sense of personal wellness.  Unfortunately for most modern people who do not subscribe to traditional religious practices prayer is often left out of one’s daily health and wellness regimen.  Prayer does not have to be about worshiping a religious deity.  You do not have to say “Hail Mary” or “Our Father” to connect with your spiritual guides or your creator.  I, myself, do not adhere to prescribed religious doctrines or their corresponding prayers.  Rather, I have developed my own spirituality and a connection to the “God” I believe is within all of creation.  Though I have faith in a creator or power beyond what I can sense and believe in the best aspects of most religions, I have no faith in their dogma.  So I created a set of prayers that work for my worldview and spiritual understanding.  I want to share that spiritual perspective with you so that you may be able to invite prayer, meditation and faith into your life no matter what your beliefs might be.  I’ve witnessed prayer’s miraculous effects improve my life and the lives of those I counsel on such matters and believe the self-generated practice of customized prayer can do the same for you.   

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            For many years I have recited the prayer at the end of this post in times of deep spiritual need.  It has brought me great comfort and solace through the years and I hope it may do the same for you.  When I need a spiritual lift, I find it’s best to both pray and meditate.  Let’s take a look at how those two practices differ.  I think prayer is our way of asking for higher spiritual; guidance whereas meditation is patiently waiting for the answers.  Meditation is how we listen for God’s advice, the answers to all our hopes and doubts – how we receive inspiration.  Meditation requires that one become “empty” or fully open and receptive, without distraction.  It is a void-like state when time and the world go away and there is only you in the space of divine understanding.  Be it through applied hypnosis or NLP, Transcendental Meditation, Buddhist prayer, native chants, or any circumpunct New Age guided visualization, the effect should be the same.  You become relaxed and blank enough to hear or feel what you need to know while normal thoughts, cares, worries and problem solving fade away.  It lies in the subliminal or sub-conscious part of the mind where experiences can feel like lucid dreams.  It takes many years practice to achieve and there’s always more to learn.  Meditation’s reward is the fulfilling and profound sense of peaceful serenity one develops from its practice and its ability to strengthen the focus of the mind.  Prayer is more about the heart, about asking God for what we want, for declaring our hopes, dreams and wishes and asking for guidance or help with what we fear, doubt or don’t understand.

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            Prayer, to me, is a way of talking to God or making sure the universe knows your good intentions and asking it to have your back.  We pray for what we want and what we feel we need but don’t have yet.  That can include prayer for your own good health and wealth or the peace and prosperity of others.  Prayers can include a pay raise, a promotion, a new job, a new car, a new house, a vacation, a million bucks.  They can also be used for promoting healing energy, to show compassion or mercy, to learn patience or forgiveness, to protect and guard those we love or feel sympathy for.  They can be for the person you sleep with each night, for your family or friends or strangers, near or across the globe.  The person praying decides prayer’s value, how well it helps them cope or improve.  They can be as specific or general, as trite or as meaningful, as greedy or philanthropic or as terse or verbose as you like.  They can be from a group or an individual and group prayers seem to carry more weight in positive effects.  If mind is over matter, then more heads are better than one.  But an individual can make powerful and consistent prayers that do make a difference.  Prayers are our way of asking for divine intervention and their energy and intent can have far reaching effects, including healing the sick or dying and keeping those you love from harm or pain.

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            The prayer below is partially inspired by the work of author and hypnotist Dick Sutphen, author Louise Hay and by my own ministerial and eclectic spiritual studies.  It’s part prayer, part affirmation, which keeps it from feeling like “begging.”  I always say, if you want to change the world and make it a better place, start with yourself and become part of the solution.  So this prayer is about self-help and spiritual maintenance, a practice of self-empowerment that I often use in my own life and have given to my life-coaching clients and to those who seek my spiritual advice, with many success stories who still recite it aloud.  If you like it and can relate to it, you can do it as often or as little as you like, but it is powerful.  You’ll find over time that it helps you clear your head, re-prioritize and get closer to your spiritual self – the place all ultimate life energy and personal power comes from.  It can also bring you the healing and guidance you might need to take that next spiritual step to upgrade your life or heal from that spiritual wound you might be nursing or neglecting.

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            Prayer should make you feel better, to feel that someone does have your back and that you are being supported, even when there’s evidence to the contrary and you’re looking up from the gutter.  Things can get bad so we have to turn to someone we ultimately trust and believe in.  I wrote this in my twenties, to help myself out of a depression and confusion about my life, and I’ve found it helps others get out of dark times, too.  It always makes me feel better when I recite it aloud.  I feel more spiritually energized and aligned when I speak a prayer, so I suggest reading it in a commanding voice the first few times to feel its power.  I find doing it outside is even more ideal because there I feel more open and connected to creation.  Whatever helps you feel the energy of the prayer best.  We all need help and I believe we’re each truly here to teach, support and uplift each other, so that became part of the prayer as well.  But, who are we praying to, again?

            What we’re really talking about is your relationship with God, in all of his or her many forms and faces through human history.  If God created us in his own image and we have the free will to “co-create” our existences together, as his children, then we are each a part of God and sharing in his consciousness, reflecting it to each other for its growth and expansion.  Like those of you who have children know, they are a part of you – you did create them and are spiritually linked to them – but they are separate creations unto themselves. I think our relationship with God is like that.  We go to God like we would a parent or grandparent – for wisdom, guidance, protection and to receive approval.  But God is more than the parent; he/she/it is also the child and lives in the air they breathe, that we all share and breathe.  God is the relationship and interconnectedness of all things.  God could be one deity or many, all encompassing and omniscient or specialized and finite or could be truly universal and we’re all part of that mega creation and thus part of the creator and thus all one in the same.

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            Whether your religious or spiritual experience has been traditional or liberal, agnostic or humanist, devoted or non-practicing, unsure, in denial, disenchanted, reborn, reluctant, reincarnated, sinner or saint, this prayer can help you stay strong in your times of need.  It may not help you if you believe in nothing or that life is meaningless, which probably means you need a spiritual overhaul and could use the prayer anyway.  Atheists and existentialists may not get it.  People who believe in UFO’s may not get it or may just feel left out.  Kidding aside, you’ve got to believe in something!  Something is holding us all together – holding life on this Earth, sustaining us in this reality – keeping our existence, experience and history, as we know them, in balance.  It is something greater than “just us” – it’s all of us and everything we are, all that we can perceive and imagine or sense and all that exists as a part of the super macro-universal consciousness that is God, the creator and the creation, the father/mother and the son/daughter.  God is life, in all its variety, diversity and potential.  In many ways God is like a shepherd who teaches us to shepherd others and to help ourselves so he can better help us to help ourselves and the world to heal and grow.  God is love.

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            I wanted to talk to you about spirituality for a sec to prime you for this prayer, but I digress.  I’ll suggest doing this prayer every morning for a few weeks to really start seeing the benefits in your everyday life.  You will feel more at ease; you’ll feel more grateful and happier in general, like a weight has been lifted of your shoulders and you’ve cleared your heart and head.  Enjoy it and be well with it and much like good voting, do it early and often.  I think God appreciates a sense of humor and humility in your prayers, so don’t get too serious, just be open to the process of reaching out with your mind, feelings and sense of wonder.  If God had no sense of humor and wanted us to be stoic and business-like all the time, would he have made life so funny and strange?  Would he have invented the platypus, lost socks or bed head?  Try this prayer and see if you find more light, love and levity in your life… I have faith that you will!

“I call out to the positive powers of the universe… to my guides, guardians, masters and teachers… to my angels, ancestors and animal spirit guides, to all who would support me, living or dead, past, present or future… to God, my Creator, father and mother of all that is… hear me!   Divinely guide me and protect me, bless me and keep me in all my travels and endeavors… let me be clear, calm, confident and positive in all I say, do, think, feel, have, know and in all that I am, let me be blessed, so I may be a blessing in the world…

…Make me an open channel for your healing light and love, wisdom, joy, peace, prosperity, goodness, abundance, beauty, truth, great health and wealth and creativity and all else I can be for the greatest good of all.  Help me to help others and myself to the riches of this universe.  Help me to heal others, to heal myself and help others heal themselves.  Help me to be a light, a guide and an inspiration in this world for all the world’s greatest good.  Help me to find peace and help others find their peace.  Let me truly embody the qualities of honor, dignity, integrity, compassion, patience, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, grace, strength, serenity, success, confidence, courage, humor, humility, faith and understanding of humanity so I may help this world and myself to learn, heal and grow…

…Bless me and help me to put the gifts you’ve given me to good work so I may enlarge my territories and help others to be enriched by my being.  Let your hands be with me and walk with me so I cause no harm and feel no pain.  Bless all those who’ve passed before me with peace and comfort in your keeping, forever.  Bless all those whom I love and encounter with all the blessings I ask for myself and even more.  Bless me with great achievement and prosperity, love and inspiration, health and wealth, wisdom and happiness and great worth in this world so I may make this earth a better place for all to live.  Let me be more grateful everyday for all the blessings in my life… for all the kind, generous, loving, wonderful people, animals and experiences in my life and for all I have to give to them, receive from them and share with them for the greatest good of all….

…I am truly blessed by and grateful for all the love and light in my life – for all my income of good and all the many miracles in my life.  So it is the light indwells within me and surrounds me, so it is I am divinely guided and protected, so it is I help and heal others and myself, so it is all is well in my world and I am a blessing to all those who’s lives I touch.  I am grateful for my life, my breath, my will and my power to change.  So it is I am truly grateful for all the support, guidance and love in my life and I am blessed beyond my fondest dreams.”

“We are blessed not by what we have received but rather what we have to give.” ~DJ

~Namaste

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Working with the Light

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            What is the stuff of life?  Why are we alive with thought, feeling, awareness and imagination?  What brings the light to the projector of our minds?  Are we not “star stuff” as Carl Sagan once said? The apostle John also said, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  Even Yoda said, “Luminous beings are we… not this crude matter.”  We know that we are all made of energy, all part of the original makeup of the universe.  All of time, space and existence have lead to this moment, to our being. We are like the stuff of stars – within us is the light, the heat, the cold and the darkness – made animate and self-aware, wrapped in flesh and feeling.

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            So if we are made of the light we can work with its energy to create more light, more healing and peace to quell the darkness inside us and in others.  For years I have learned about and practiced “light working” and discovered its profound positive effects for myself and helped others learn its healing power.  I’ve even gotten friends and clients to practice certain meditations and techniques to use light work in their lives to attain emotional calm, subdue negativity in their environments and even help their loved ones to heal or become passive when acting with aggression.

            Though it’s an uncommon and esoteric practice, light work is not such a mysterious way of making life better and its routes are quite ancient.  I think of it as creative visualization or an imaginative meditation.  It involves the use of your mind and your imagination to create colored or white light in your field of vision or covering what you see or a person you’re thinking about.  So if I encounter or if I’m confronted with a negative person or image in my environment – a car accident, a grouchy boss, a pushy pedestrian – I use certain colored lights to “neutralize” their affect on me and my energy.  Let’s face it, some people are “energy vampires” and stressful situations can be exhausting to one’s energetic resources – so you have to be armed with different techniques to combat stress and those can drain you.you-are-the-light1 

            When I’m faced with darkness I use light to feel better.  No, I’m not talking, “Go into the light, Carol Ann!”  I mean superimposing light over darkness – in many cases over people who carry a cloud over their head or to diffuse negative, distressing situations.  Here’s an example of what I’ll do to stay positive and perky and negate others negativity using light work.  It works like a charm and makes you feel great even when other folks are freaking out.  If someone comes up to me with an attitude or aggressive undertone, I first put myself in a white or golden light and then I put him or her in a turquoise blue light – the light of healing and pain relief.  People who are angry or depressed are usually in need of healing and often suffer from a great deal of emotional or physical pain.  Putting them in a blue light of any kind will make them feel better and act more kindly toward you!

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            If I’m having trouble with a man who thinks he’s my boss (or even if he actually is) I put him in a pink light – Pepto pink – and he’s almost instantly neutralized.  I just coat him, his clothes, his car, his office, his car, his everything in pink, like my eyes just got flooded with strawberry milk.  Within a little while he’ll become quiet, more reserved and even friendlier the more I do it.  Or he’ll simply have to leave my space for some reason.  Similarly, if a female is giving me guff, I’ll put her in a golden light – the light that makes the ladies docile.  You see, a golden light is empowering to a man, but subdues feminine energy, whereas a pink light empowers a woman, but makes a man tranquil.  Try it the next time someone tries it with you.  You’ll be surprised how well it works and it does no harm – what’s harmful about putting someone in a pretty colored light?  If anything you’re helping them by clearing their aura!light-healing1bluelight1

(Images of using protective white light and an aural photo with healing blue light).

            The white or spectral light is a highly spiritual light that is tied to creativity, compassion, generosity and ultimate peace.  Placing a white light around someone helps them to find divine purpose, clarity and wisdom, spiritual assistance and service to others.  Those who have performed hands on healing, spiritual cleansing or channeling know to keep themselves in the white light as it protects them from absorbing negative energy from others or their environment.  A prayer for those who work with such forces can also keep the protective white light bound to the body of the practitioner:  “The white light indwells and surrounds me, divinely guides me and protects me, helps me heal others and myself and I am blessed as are all those whose lives I touch.”

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            It’s also a kind spiritual gesture to wrap those in need of help in light.  When I see a bad car accident with ambulances at the side of the road, I often send a healing turquoise blue light to individuals I notice have been traumatized.  I simply cover the whole scene in healing blue light and pray for the best.  As you work with the light you begin to see it everywhere, behind everything – indeed we are all made of light and all project or reflect that light in each other’s eyes.

            We can each let our “light so shine before men” and certainly shouldn’t hide it under a bushel when it’s such a useful tool for peace and healing.  Quite literally, through our consciousness, we are the “light of the world.”  Working with light increases the lightness and brilliance of the world, building up the radiance of others and illuminating the truth and beauty within all people.  If you want to empower someone, send him or her a loving, bright light.  If you need to neutralize a foe – don’t get upset and reactive – stay light, unaffected and free, under-react and send them some vibrant colored light (they need it).  If you feel down, wrap yourself in an appropriate or favorite light and notice how much lighter you feel in just a few minutes.eyes1 

            If nothing else, working with light distracts you from focusing on what’s negative.  It’s easier to find cheer when you’re looking on the bright side.  Instead of becoming annoyed or upset by life’s little pitfalls or people who indulge in darkness try working with the light.  See how it enhances your life experience.  It naturally brings about positive feelings and reorients your mind toward more productive aims.  Dark thoughts, no matter how justifiable, only make you feel worse.  But choosing to think lighter thoughts and defend yourself with imaginary light will always make you feel relaxed and easy.  I hope you try this practice and spread more light into the world everyday so you can live in the lightness of your choices without fear or doubt.  May the light you give to the causes of love, joy, peace, prosperity and healing bless you.

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(Image of the Healing Buddha).

For more information read “Hands of Light” by Barbara Ann Brennan.

~Namaste

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Gratitude List

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              So often when we feel down or blue we don’t know where to look to find solace.  Some turn to their family and friends for support when in need while others practice a faith to curb their bad feelings.  Exercise, spending time in nature, volunteering, playing with children or pets, getting creative with drawing or painting, singing with the radio, watching a funny movie or reading a good book can all help us to feel better when times are tough, too.  I love to write when I’ve had a rough day – it really allows me to dump my emotions on the page so I purge those feelings and can move on.  But what if none of those activities do the trick?  I turn to my Gratitude List.

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            A Gratitude List is simply what it implies: a list of things you’re grateful for.  I count mine every time life gets me down and I immediately feel better.  It’s enriching and enlightening – healing, in fact – to count your blessings.  Praising and being thankful for what’s good in your life acts like a magical elixir, washing away whatever takes you to a “dark place.”  Whether it’s a feeling of fear or doubt, depression or anxiety, guilt or criticism, a welling up of anger or aggression inside or simply a feeling of lack or limitation, gratitude is the cure!  You see, negative emotions cannot breathe in the same space as gratitude – they get choked out and have to leave the room. Gratitude is like an emotional panacea – it just takes a few drops to see your life is really quite wonderful.  Life becomes much more pleasurable when you stop and take stock of all the good you encounter everyday.

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            Really appreciating what you do have versus focusing on what seems wrong in your life turns your mind toward better things and that shift in concentration allows for more good to flow your way.  It creates a channel of receptivity, putting you in the right place and time at all times.  When the position of your mind goes sour, switch it up and adopt an “attitude of gratitude” and you’ll see all will become well before you know it.  It is a practice and takes time, but with some patience and perseverance, you can squash any set of negative feelings before they can sink in and fester.  Start small, with the blessings you can most easily count and build from there.  You’ll be amazed how much you have to be thankful for.

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            Everyone, no matter their circumstances, has something they can feel grateful for.  That is the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel that can guide you through any crisis of faith or challenging situation.  Take a look at my Gratitude List below and find some inspiration for your own list of things you’re thankful for.  Rehearse it every time you feel glum and I guarantee you’ll have a much better day and feel empowered by your choice to see your metaphoric glass is at least half full and getting fuller all the time.  Your perspective will shift and you’ll realize how truly blessed you are and the blues won’t matter!

Denny’s Gratitude List: “I am grateful for…”

  • My health – my beauty, strength, resilience and fully functioning body and mind.
  • My wealth – the goodness and abundance within me and all around me – the people in my life: my special someone, my friends, family, clients, students, neighbors, employers, co-workers, co-creators, collaborators, readers, fans, champions and all the people who support me and my causes, my two adorable cats; my lovely home, my car, my clothes and shoes, my food and drink; my physical activity, my yoga and meditation practice; my favorite books and movies; my appliances and electronics, my laptop and internet service; my conveniences and amenities like running water and electricity; my money and investments; things I grow: my creativity, my writing, my blog, my music, my garden, my work, my travels, my past, present and future successes +++.
  • My wisdom – the knowledge, education, experience and enlightenment I’ve received, will receive and receive now.  I’m grateful for the wisdom of my dreams, too!
  • My happiness – all the love, joy, peace, prosperity and healing in my life.
  • My service – my ability to help others find their greatest success, peace and happiness, my gifts of healing, intuition and empathy.
  • All I have to give, receive and share with others.
  • All I have to express and feel, think and believe, say and do, learn and grow.
  • My connection to the Universe – my divine relationship with God.
  • My writing – all the productivity, imagination, storytelling, creative ideas and projects I’m developing, all the creative people who help me to do so and all who benefit.
  • Nature – the air, water, earth, animals, plants, sunshine, clouds, rain, wind, sky, stars and all the wondrous parts of the living world that inspire me and sustain my life.
  • Divine guidance, protection, endeavors, travels and actions that make the world and myself better so I can do and be even more to feel grateful for.
  • I’m grateful for having and practicing the winning emotion of gratitude to quell all lower vibrating feelings so I may experience bliss in my life and help others to do the same!
  • All the generosity of the people I meet – all their goodness, kindness and compassion.
  • I am grateful for all that is – for all is beautiful, perfect, whole and complete just as it is and I am blessed and alive!  I’m living happily, healthfully and well – blessed beyond my fondest dreams!!!

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“If you’re thinking, also be thanking!” -DJ

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