Posted 11 February 2009 - 04:46 PM
Learning From The Big Picture
Cycle Of Life
As we walk through the world, the people we encounter appear so different from one another. We see babies, old men, pregnant women, and teenaged boys. We know couples on the verge of marriage and lonely widows. We interact with toddlers and the terminally ill. As different as each person seems, they are all living the human experience. They are just at different places in the cycle that begins with birth and ends with death. Every phase of the cycle of life has its gifts and its challenges. Each stage is temporary and ultimately gives way to a new phase. This ephemeral quality makes each phase precious, because it will never last.
One of the wonderful qualities possessed by babies and young children is that they are unaware that a cycle of life even exists. They simply are present to wherever they happen to be right now, and they don’t give much thought to the past or future. Being around them reminds us of the joy that comes from living fully in the moment. On the opposite end of life’s cycle are our elderly role models. They are a reminder that each phase of life should be treasured. Time does pass, and we all change and grow older.
Being aware of the cycle of life and our place in it makes us wiser. As we develop a true appreciation for the phase we are in, we can savor it more. A new mother going through a difficult time with her infant can more easily embrace her challenges because she knows that her child will grow up, and she will long for this time again. Difficult and challenging periods are inevitable, but – like everything that is a part of the cycle of life – they are temporary. When we are fully engaged with life, we get to savor and grow from each phase, and we are ready for the next one when it arrives. Fully embracing wherever you are in the cycle of life is the very essence to happiness.
Posted 11 February 2009 - 06:08 PM
I love this one, As Blessed As You Want to Be - The Power Of Staying Positive, as I strive for it all the time. It is a wonderful way to live.
Thank you for all these posts Hoopster & Georgi.
i forwarded this to my son, he needs it right now!
Posted 12 February 2009 - 03:05 PM
Like pieces of a puzzle, the many different aspects of your being come together to form the person that you are. You work and play, rest and expend energy, commune with your body and soul, exalt in joy, and feel sorrow. Balance is the state that you achieve when all of the aspects of your life and self are in harmony. Your life force flows in a state of equilibrium because nothing feels out of sync. While balance is necessary to have a satisfying, energetic, and joyful life, only you can determine what balance means to you.
Achieving balance requires that you assess what is important to you. The many demands of modern life can push us to make choices that can put us off balance and have a detrimental effect on our habits, relationships, health, and career. In creating a balanced lifestyle, you must ascertain how much time and energy you are willing to devote to the different areas of your life. To do so, imagine that your life is a house made up of many rooms. Draw this house, give each part of your life its own room, and size each room according to the amount of importance you assign to that aspect of your life. You can include family, solitude, activities that benefit others, healthy eating, indulgences, exercise and working on self. You may discover that certain elements of your life take up an inordinate amount of time, energy, or effort and leave you with few resources to nurture the other aspects of your life. You may want to spend less time on these activities and more on the ones that fulfill you.
A balanced lifestyle is simply a state of being in which one has time and energy for obligations and pleasures, as well as time to live well and in a gratifying way. With its many nuances, balance can be a difficult concept to integrate into your life. Living a balanced existence, however, can help you attain a greater sense of happiness, health, and fulfillment.
Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:58 PM
Staying Grounded in a Big City or Busy World
1. Live simply and live deliberately. By choosing not to get caught up in the details of this fast-paced world, you are doing your part to slow down the . You will also discover that you have more time to enjoy being alive.
2. Stay in touch with yourself. Soul searching, meditation, and journaling are just a few of the many activities you can take part in to stay aware and learn as much as you can about your emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Having a solid sense of self gives you a firm foundation for living in this world.
3. Support or teach others as often as you can. This can help you form connections with people while also giving you an opportunity to make the world a better place.
4. Consciously choose what you will allow into your being. The media bombards us with visions of hate, war, and pain. Be judicious about what you read, watch, and listen to.
5. Acknowledge the beauty that resides around you. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or a stereotypical suburb, there are natural and man-made wonders just waiting to be discovered by you.
6. Nurture your ties to your tribe. If you don’t have one, create a community that you can belong to. Modern life can be isolating. When you have a tribe, you have a circle that you are a part of. Its members – loved ones, friends, or neighbors - can be a source of support, caring, guidance, and companionship.
7. See the larger picture. Remember that the way that you choose to live is not the only way to live. Widen your perspective by exploring other modes of being through research, travel, and discussion.
8. Embrace the challenges that life presents to you, and challenge yourself often. After a time, even the most exciting jobs or lifestyles can seem routine. Never stop assimilating new knowledge about whatever you are doing, and your life will never seem dull.
9. Move your body. In this busy world, it can be easy to live a sedentary life. Movement reacquaints us with our bodies and connects us to the earth in a visceral way. It also restores our vitality.
10. Make time for stillness, silence, and solitude. The world can be noisy, and we are subject to all kinds of noises nearly every waking hour. We are also often "on the go" and unable to relax. Being alone in a peaceful place and making time for quiet can help you stay in touch with yourself.
Posted 16 February 2009 - 01:01 PM
A Place For Worries and Fears
There are times when our minds become too full. Our to-do lists, worries, plans, and dreams may be so crowded together in our heads that we don’t have room to think. We may believe that we are somehow taking care of our desires and concerns by keeping them at the forefront of our minds. In maintaining our mental hold on every detail, however, we may actually delay the realization of our dreams and the resolution of our worries because we won’t let them go. At times such as these, we may want to use a surrender box.
A surrender box allows us to let go of our worries and desires so the universe can take care of them for us. We write down what we want or need to happen and then place the note into a box. By writing and placing our thoughts in the box, we are taking action and letting the universe know we need help and are willing to surrender our feelings. We give ourselves permission to not concern ourselves with that problem any longer and trust that the universe is taking care of it. You may even want to decorate your box and place it in a special place. Your surrender box is a sacred container for your worries. Not only do you free up space in your mind by letting go of our worries and desires and dropping them into your surrender box, but you are giving your burden over to a higher power. Once we drop our worries and desires into the surrender box, we free our minds so we can be fully present in each moment.
Surrendering our worries and concerns and placing them in the hands of the universe doesn’t mean that we’ve given up or have been defeated. Instead, we are releasing the realization of our desires and the resolution of our worries and no longer concerning ourselves with their outcomes. It’s always fun to go back and pull the slips of paper out of the box once your requests have been granted. And it’s amazing how quickly problems go away and dreams come true when we finally let go and allow a higher power to help us.
Posted 17 February 2009 - 03:46 PM
Uniting in Thought and Action
The Power Of The Circle
There are many reasons for why a gathering of people in a circle is powerful. A circle is a shape that is found repeatedly throughout the natural world, and it is a symbol of perfection. We recreate this perfect shape when we join others to form a circle. Being in a circle allows us experience each other as equals. Each person is the same distance apart from the next participant, and no one is seated higher than or stands apart from others in a circle. From tribal circles to the mythical round table of King Arthur, the circle has been the shape adopted by gatherings throughout history.
The circle is acknowledged as an archetype of wholeness and integration, with the center of a circle universally understood to symbolize Spirit - the Source. When a group of people come together in a circle, they are united. This unity becomes even more powerful when each person reaches out to touch a neighbor and clasps hands. This physical connection unites thought and action, mind and body, and spirit and form in a circle. Because a circle has no beginning and no end, the agreement to connect in a circle allows energy to circulate from one person to the next, rather than being dissipated into the environment.
Like a candle used to light another candle, the connection with spirit that results when one person joins hands with another is greater than if each person were to stand alone. People who take part in a circle find that their power increases exponentially while with the group. Like a drop of water rippling on the surface of a pond, the waves of energy produced in a circle radiate outward in circular motion. While one person may act like a single beacon that emanates light, a circle of people is like a satellite dish that sends out energy. There is power in numbers, and when the commitment is made by many to face one another, clasp hands, and focus on one intention, their circle emanates ripples of energy that can change the world.
Posted 18 February 2009 - 02:34 PM
Influencing the Tone of Your Life
When we enter a room or see an object for the first time, our minds register its color before any other detail. The colors our eyes can perceive are like words that form a subtle language of mood, energy, and insight. Color can exert a gentle effect on the mind and the body, influencing our dispositions and our physical health. Color has the ability to trigger our emotions, affect the way we think and act, and influence our attitudes. You unconsciously respond to the color of the walls in your home, your car, your clothing, and the food you eat based on your body’s natural reactions to certain colors and the psychological associations you have formed around them. The consequences of the decision to paint a room or wear a specific article of clothing therefore goes beyond aesthetics.
The colors you encounter throughout your day can make you feel happy or sad, invigorate you or drain your vitality, and even affect your work habits. Throughout history, cultures spread over many different parts of the globe have attributed varying meanings to different colors. In China, blue is associated with immortality, while people in the Middle East view blue as a color of protection. There is also evidence that human beings respond to color in a very visceral way. Red excites us and inflames our passions. Too much red, however, can make us feel overstimulated and irritated. Pink tends to make people feel loved and protected but also can cause feelings of lethargy. Yellow represents joy or optimism and can energize you and help you think more clearly. Bright orange reduces depression and sadness. Blue and green are known to inspire peaceful feelings, and people are often able to concentrate better and work in rooms painted in soft blues and greens. The darker tones of both colors can make you feel serious and introspective.
There are ways to integrate color into your life that go beyond picking the hues of your d
Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:39 PM
Cultivating The Seed Within
In our noisy world, we often find ourselves longing for peace and searching to find it somewhere else. While it’s true that there are places we can visit where we can experience peace, such as sacred sites or buildings, we do not need to wait until we get to one of these places to feel at peace. Instead, we can learn to locate the seed of peace inside ourselves and cultivate it so that it grows into a reliable source of serenity that we can always access, no matter where we are.
We experience peace when we are in a state of mental calm and serenity. It might surprise you to notice how infrequently you allow yourself to be free from anxiety. Realizing this is the first step to inner peace. If you wait until all the details of your life are taken care of to allow yourself to experience peace, you will never feel peaceful because there is always something that your mind can grab onto to create anxiety. It is important to consciously set aside your worries and make time to cultivate inner peace.
Ideally, you could schedule time each day to meditate on peace and experience what it feels like to be calm and serene. It takes practice to learn how to let go of your worries, so give yourself some time. Inhale deeply, and feel your worries dissolve with every exhale. Remind yourself that soon enough you will be able to take care of everything you need to, but right now you are taking a break. As the clutter of your thoughts and concerns clear away, you will start to feel more serene. Allow yourself to move deeper into this state with each inhale. Realize that you have the power to free yourself from anxiety simply by deciding to do so. The more you practice feeling peaceful, the easier it will be for you to feel at peace.
Posted 20 February 2009 - 02:10 PM
The Greater Cause
Some Good Reasons for Doing Good
With all that takes place in our lives, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the fact that we’re part of something greater than ourselves—a collective consciousness, the Universe, a greater cause. Because of our tendency to forget this, we might make decisions in our lives that don’t reflect that responsibility that comes with this belonging. All too often, we focus just on the short-term, tangible gain to ourselves without worrying about its consequences. Other times, we may discard the greater cause because it seems like “hard work.” The challenge is to expand our minds so that we transcend the distinction between self and others, so we are aware of how our choices and actions can impact a greater cause.
Contributing to the greater cause doesn’t have to be all about self-sacrifice. For example, if you plant a tree in a community space, its shelter will cool and protect you as well as your neighbors. Or, your reward might be in the form of the beauty that you now see in that space or the sincere smiles of appreciation from neighbors. When you serve the greater cause you also serve your greater good. There is nothing that you cannot do for your highest good that will not benefit the good of all. For example, saying no to a relationship that isn’t right for you not only benefits you but serves the greater good of the other person that you are honoring with your honesty. Saying yes to your dream job not only fulfills you but also serves the people that will benefit from your enthusiasm and productivity.
When you know you are serving a greater cause, there is little room for fear and doubt. You know that what you do will benefit others, so there is no way the universe is not going to support your efforts - even if sometimes it may not look that way. Serving the greater cause allows you to live from the space of your greatness. When you know that what you do can serve a greater cause, you are aware of your power and ability to influence and create change in this world.
Posted 25 February 2009 - 11:22 AM
We all have days from time to time when it feels like the world is against us or that the chaos we are experiencing will never end. One negative circumstance seems to lead to another. You may wonder, on a bad day, whether anything in your life will ever go right again. But a bad day, like any other day, can be a gift. Having a bad day can show you that it is time to slow down, change course, or lighten up. A bad day can help you glean wisdom you might otherwise have overlooked or discounted. Bad days can certainly cause you to experience uncomfortable feelings you would prefer to avoid, yet a bad day may also give you a potent means to learn about yourself.
You may consider a bad day to be one where you’ve missing an important meeting because your car stalled, the dryer broke, and you received a piece of very bad news earlier in the morning. Multiple misfortunes that take place one after the other can leave us feeling vulnerable and intensely cognizant of our fragility. But bad days can only have a long-term negative effect on us if we let them. It is better to ask yourself what you can learn from these kinds of days. The state of your bad day may be an indicator that you need to stay in and hibernate or let go of your growing negativity.
Bad days contribute to the people we become. Though we may feel discouraged and distressed on our bad days, a bad day can teach us patience and perseverance. It is important to remember that your attitude drives your destiny and that one negative experience does not have to be the beginning of an ongoing stroke of bad luck. A bad day is memorable because it is one day among many good days – otherwise, we wouldn’t even bother to acknowledge it as a bad day. Know too, that everybody has bad days, you are not alone, the world is not against you. Tomorrow is guaranteed to be a brighter day.
The Daily OM
In order to balance this note.. with LOVE, Peace and Understanding.. I am including the following wonderful advice....most humbly...
It is crucial we keep our head in the game and keep it positive as we live our lives, starting businesses and expanding our businesses. Perhaps not watching the news so much. Cheryl Richardson, author of "Stand Up for Your Life" and several other best sellers has a very cool way of staying on the mark with thoughts.
She suggests there are three things you can do to create your own thought meter right now:
1. Set an alarm on your computer, your wristwatch, or a nearby clock for every 30 minutes, and when it goes off, notice what you're thinking.
2. Purchase a big sheet of colored stickers with fun images on them and place these stickers around your home and office. Then, each time you see one, stop and notice what you're thinking.
3. Place several check marks on your daily calendar (or in your PDA) at various times throughout the day and when you come upon one, stop and notice what you're thinking.
Get the idea? Once you become aware of any patterns related to your negative thoughts, develop a simple phrase that will start to counteract these unhelpful thinking patterns. Start with just one area of your life and watch what happens.
Posted 03 March 2009 - 01:17 PM
Taming Monkey Mind In Meditation
It’s been called the monkey mind – the endless chattering in your head as you jump in your mind from thought to thought while you daydream, analyze your relationships, or worry over the future. Eventually, you start to feel like your thoughts are spinning in circles and you’re left totally confused.
One way to tame this wild creature in your head is through meditation – although the paradox is that when you clear your mind for meditation you actually invite the monkey in your mind to play. This is when you are given the opportunity to tame this mental beast by moving beyond thought – to become aware of a thought rather than thinking a thought. The difference is subtle, but significant. When you are aware of your thoughts, you can let your thoughts rise and float away without letting them pull you in different directions. Being able to concentrate is one of the tools that allows you to slow down your thought process and focus on observing your thoughts.
To develop your concentration, you may want to start by focusing on the breath while you meditate. Whenever your monkey mind starts acting up, observe your thoughts and then return your focus to your breath. Some breathing meditations call on you to focus on the rise and fall of the breath through the abdomen, while others have you concentrate on the sound of the breath. Fire can also be mesmerizing, and focusing on a candle flame is another useful tool for harnessing the mind. Keep the gaze soft and unfocused while observing the color, shape, and movement of the flame, and try not to blink. Close your eyes when you feel the need and continue watching the flame in your head. Chanting, devotional singing, and mantras also still the mind. However you choose to tame the monkey mind, do so with firm kindness. The next time the chattering arises, notice it and then allow it to go away. With practice, your monkey mind will become quiet and so will you.
Posted 05 March 2009 - 02:24 PM
Sustenance for the Soul
Taking Time for Yourself
Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul’s needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.
It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.
Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.
Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:20 PM
Comparing Yourself To Others
You are unique. There is no one else like you in the entire universe. In honor of your unique self, it is good to acknowledge and embrace the special qualities that make you the person that you are. One way to do this is to not compare yourself with other people.
It is human nature to want to see how we measure up in comparison to others – especially if we think that they are better than us or have more of something that we want. Yet the truth is that it is not a good use of time to compare ourselves with others because there is no one like us and this makes us incomparable. It is sometimes almost easier to look outside of ourselves and feel like we are deficient in comparison to other people rather than taking responsibility for our own progress in relation to the fulfillment of our life purpose. It actually takes more courage to be self-referential and look at ourselves to see whether we are measuring up to our standards or meeting our full potential. Each of us has very special gifts, and we are here for very specific reasons. We each have a life purpose to fulfill and with this come the lessons that we must learn and the circumstances that we must go through in order to evolve as spiritual beings. To compare our lives to other people’s lives when we have no idea of what they are here to learn or fulfill doesn’t benefit anyone – especially you.
Instead, if we can accept ourselves, appreciate the special talents and qualities that we alone possess, and realize that each of us is going through certain kinds of experiences for a reason, we are less likely focus so much on what other people have or are doing. Realizing and valuing our uniqueness enables us to bring out the best in ourselves so we can get on with living rather than preoccupying ourselves with meaningless comparisons. Try to not compare yourself to others, and you will see how much you have and how special you are.
Posted 16 March 2009 - 04:19 PM
March 16, 2009
Emerging From the Grey
We are born equipped to experience a complex array of diverse emotions. Many of us, however, are uncomfortable confronting our most powerful emotions. We may shy away from delight and despair and deny life’s colors by retreating into a world of monotone grey. We may numb ourselves to what we are truly feeling. It’s easier to suppress our emotions than to deal with them, so we may momentarily turn to pleasures such as alcohol, food, sugar, shopping and too much television. We may even numb our hearts. While it’s normal to temporarily seek distractions as a means of coping with intense emotions, numbing yourself prevents you from confronting your issues and keeps you from ever finding resolution or peace. When you are numb, there is no pain or powerlessness, but there can also be no joy or healing.
The activities that numb you may seem harmless or pleasurable, but using them to numb yourself diminishes the quality of your life. Numbing yourself so that you don’t have to feel intense emotions can often satisfy a surface need while blocking your awareness of a deeper need. You may find solace in food or shopping when what you really need is spiritual nourishment. The less you feel, the less alive you feel. Your feelings add vividness to your experiences and serve to connect you to the world around you. It is possible to disavow yourself of numbing behaviors a little at a time and once again taste life’s rich flavors. When you sense that you are engaging in a particular behavior simply to deaden your emotions, stop and ask yourself why. Examining the feelings that drive you to numb yourself can help you understand what is triggering your desire to emotionally fade out.
With each numbing activity that you cut out of your life, you’ll find yourself being more aware and experiencing a greater emotionally acuity. Senses once shrouded by the fog of numbness become sharp and acute. Traumas and pain long hidden will emerge to the forefront of your consciousness and reveal themselves so that you can heal them. You’ll discover a deeper you—a self that is comfortable experiencing and working through intense emotions with courage and grace.
Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:52 PM
Permission To Feel
Pushing Away Emotions
Throughout our lives, we may experience emotions that disturb or distress us. Often, our first reaction is to push our feelings away. We may say, “I don’t want to think about that right now, I’ll think about it later” and we bury our emotions, deny the validity of our feelings, or distract ourselves with other concerns. But the diverse emotions you experience are neither good nor bad—they are simply a part being human. Choosing not to experience pain, anger, or other intense feelings could cause those feelings to become buried deep into your physical body. There, they may linger unresolved and unable to emerge, even as they affect the way you experience the world. Allowing yourself to experience all of your emotions rather than push the more painful ones away can help you come to terms with your feelings so you can experience them and then move on.
It is possible to bring forth the old feelings you have pushed aside and experience them in a safe and enriching way. It may sound silly to set aside time to feel your old wounds that you haven’t dealt with, but this can be a very beneficial healing experience. Find a safel place and pick a time when you can be alone. Make sure that you feel secure and comfortable in your surroundings. Bring to mind the circumstances that originally triggered the emotions you’ve been pushing away. You may need to revisit these circumstances by reading relevant entries in your journal or using visualization to relive your past. Once you have triggered your long-denied emotions, let yourself feel your feelings, and try not to judge your reactions. Cry or sound your emotions if you need to, and don’t block the flow of your feelings. Allow any thoughts that are connected to your emotions to surface. As you release the feelings you have pushed inside of you, you will find yourself healing from the experience associated with these emotions.
When you deal with your feelings directly, they can move through you rather than staying stopped up in your body as emotional blocks that can sometimes turn into disease. Acknowledging your emotions, instead of pushing them away, allows you to stay emotionally healthy and in touch with your feelings.
Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:44 PM
In Line With Spirit
Staying On Track
In a world where we have routines for nearly everything—our route to work, our physical fitness regimen, and our weekday schedule—it’s amazing how many people forget to create a routine for meeting their spiritual needs. We run around in an attempt to be at our many appointments on time and meet our many obligations. In our efforts to be as productive as possible, however, our spiritual needs tend to take a backseat. After all, taking care of our spiritual needs doesn’t directly pay the bills or tone our abdominal muscles. We may even wonder who has time to meditate or write in their journal when there are more pressing matters to see to. The truth is that nurturing ourselves spiritually is what gives us the energy and grounding that we need to make sure that our lives stay on track.
How you choose to nurture yourself spiritually is a personal choice. For some people, meditating once a day may be what they need to stay centered. While spending 10-20 minutes with your eyes closed and your brain devoid of thought may seem like a lot of time doing nothing, this state of nothingness actually allows you to stay calm and focused so you can be as productive as possible. Writing in your journal everyday lets you stay in touch with yourself so that you are always tuned in to your feelings. Repeating affirmations for success, happiness, and well-being on a regular basis can help you live with optimism and enthusiasm and create what you want in life.
Having a routine for nurturing your spirit that you do each day lets you feed energy to your soul and can serve you well if your life suddenly takes an unexpected turn into a difficult period. This kind of routine grounds your spirit in your body so that you stay anchored in yourself as you move through each day. Nurturing yourself spiritually allows you to not only stay on track in your life, but it allows for your life to stay on track with what your spirit wants.
Posted 19 March 2009 - 02:18 PM
The Power Behind Us
Behind each of us stands at least one supporter. This was once thought to be the spouse who ran the home while leaving the other spouse free to work. While this is still one valid scenario, most of us will find that we have other kinds of supporters in our lives. In some cases, our supporters are the people whose help allows us to do the things we’re best at, see to our obligations, or pursue or dreams. In other cases, our support may come from the people who are there to help us through life’s challenges by offering us their strength and bolstering our spirit.
Our support may come from our families and friends or from the people we hire—nannies, assistants, gardeners, healers, therapists, and advisors. Our supporters may be the mentors who help us express ourselves by listening to us as we share our thoughts and feelings. Our supporter can be the person sitting next to us at a networking meeting or the teacher from our childhood whose words still resonate in our minds. We have always had supporters around us whether we noticed them or not. No matter where the support comes from, few of us can make it through life without assistance.
As we take the time to acknowledge everyone that has every supported us, we can’t help but feel grateful. Understanding our place in our human support system helps us see that just as there are people that support us, we are a supporter to many people. By gratefully accepting the expertise and assistance of our supporters, we can consciously and more easily build a life that we love. Thanks to our staff, groups, friends, and loved ones for all their support. We all need each other’s support to thrive this world.
Posted 20 March 2009 - 01:45 PM
Remembering Who We Are
Most of us are familiar with the idea that we are not human beings having spiritual experiences; instead, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We hear this and even though we may experience a resounding yes in our bodies, we may not take the time to really acknowledge the truth of these statements. Integrating this idea into how we view ourselves can broaden our sense of who we are and help us appreciate ourselves as brave spirits on an important mission to learn and grow here on earth.
As spiritual beings, we are visitors in this physical realm. The fact that we came here and lost all memory of what happened to us before we were born is one of the many reasons that it takes so much courage for a soul to incarnate on earth. This is why spiritual inquiry so often feels like a remembering—because it is. Remembering that we are spiritual beings is part of the work that we are here on earth to do. When we operate from a place of remembering, we tap into the wisdom that our spirit accumulated even before we stepped into this lifetime. Remembering who we are can give us the patience to persevere when we become overwhelmed or frustrated. It can give us the courage to work through the most daunting challenges and help us trust the ancient wisdom we carry that is offered to us by our intuition.
We have chosen to be on earth because there is something we want to learn that can only happen by inhabiting a body. Some of us are here to repay a debt, learn about love, or teach forgiveness. Most of us are here for a combination of reasons, we carry this information in our souls, all we have to do is remember. As you go through your journey, try not to forget how brave you are, being here now. Honor yourself.
Posted 23 March 2009 - 07:59 PM
Passive Aggressive Behavior
Claiming Our Feelings
If you’ve ever found yourself repressing your anger and behaving in other ways to get your point across, you may be someone who is adept at engaging in passive-aggressive behavior. Although passive-aggressive behavior is recognized as a psychological disorder, it also describes the behavior that many people use to cope with confrontational situations. Such behavior has the outward appearance of being peaceful, yet it is really an attempt to express oneself in seemingly passive ways—usually without accepting responsibility for doing so. For example, someone who doesn’t want to attend an event with a partner might engage in behavior that causes them to be late or miss the event without ever admitting to their partner that they never wanted to go to the function at all. Procrastination, inefficiency, stubbornness, and sullenness are some of the many ways that anger can be expressed indirectly.
It is important not to judge ourselves when we engage in passive-aggressive behavior. You may want to consider that you are not owning your feelings or your expression by indirectly expressing yourself. Perhaps you are judging your feelings and needs as wrong—which is why you are expressing yourself indirectly. You also may be worried that others will judge you for feeling the way that you do. Remember that anger and every other emotion are never good or bad. They can, however, become toxic of you don’t express them in healthy and proactive ways. When we express ourselves directly, we are more likely to be heard by the other person. It also becomes easier for us to ask for and get what we want.
Once we learn to be honest with ourselves about our feelings, we can begin to directly express ourselves to others. By learning to express ourselves directly, we prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and resentment from cropping up in our relationships. We also learn to communicate with others in healthy and productive ways. It is never too late to start working on ourselves and our behaviors, just take it one day at a time.
Posted 24 March 2009 - 02:08 PM
A Great Teacher
Living Like Water
The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.
Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.
Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.
Posted 25 March 2009 - 02:06 PM
In With the New
As the last vestiges of winter depart, all of nature enters into a lively and animated state of renewal. In the springtime, earth’s life energy is awakened from dormancy, and the cycle of life starts anew. We have the ability to sense this change taking place even before the seasonal flora around us blooms before our eyes. It is natural, therefore, that during spring many of us begin to feel the urge to clear away the clutter that has accumulated while we’ve enjoyed being sequestered in our winter nests. Now is the time to let the fresh breezes cleanse the energy in our homes.
Spring cleaning is traditionally a way to welcome a new season—one in which we open our doors and windows to let visitors and the sunshine in. It is also a way to remove stagnant energy from our homes in order to prepare our personal space for the positive, verdant energy of spring and summer. As you sweep away the dust and clutter that has blocked the flow of energy in your home, you inevitably sweep away some of the issues that may have been blocking you in your life. Intention is important, so before you begin cleaning, ask yourself what needs to be cleansed, what can be discarded, and how you can make your home a reflection of your best self. Then, gather your tools and supplies around you—vinegar mixed with water makes a wonderful natural cleanser, and putting everything you need in a bucket with a handle will make it easier to move your supplies around your home. Once you’ve begun spring cleaning, you may find that with each piece of clutter you discard and each item that you clean you begin feel increasingly energized. Divesting yourself of unnecessary possessions can help you regain clarity of mind while cleaning your windows can help you refocus your vision. As you clean, invite healing and vital energy into your home and heart.
When you’ve cleaned your home from top to bottom, create a floral arrangement with flowers from your garden, or buy a new plant at a farmer’s market. You may notice that your home feels newer, and brighter and full of new fresh energy. You also feel reawakened, rejuvenated, and alive. By cleansing your home, you can harness the vivacity and vigor of spring.
Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:12 PM
Giving The Gift Of You
Serving Your Community
To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to all people, creatures, and plant life that share this earth with us. While “being of service” is part of being a good citizen of the world, it also feels good to help others. When we do something for others in service, without the expectation of anything in return, we are turning our actions into offerings.
There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself. Sharing flowers or vegetables from your garden, organizing a poetry reading, offering to babysit for a busy parent, or donating pet food to an animal shelter all are simple ways to offer your services to your community.
There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday and chose not to drive our car once a week. Even gardening tactics such as throwing wildflower seeds onto a vacant lot can brighten the lives of others – including the lives of birds and insects. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. During meditation, ask for guidance on what you can do to be of service. This can be a wonderful way to start your day. Smiling at a stranger who looks down in the dumps or teaching your neighborhood kids how to whistle will impact someone’s day or even their life. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give.
Posted 31 March 2009 - 02:51 PM
Protecting Your Flow
How Fear Blocks Creativity
To understand how fear blocks creativity, take a moment to imagine yourself telling a story. First, imagine telling the story to someone you love and who loves you. You probably feel warmth and energy as you fill in the details of your tale to your friend’s delight. Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The wonderful twists and turns, the fine points and colorful images that unfolded in your mind for your friend probably won’t present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy, and creativity, you will probably feel opposite sensations and a desire to close down. When we feel unsafe, whether we fear being judged, disliked, or misunderstood, our creative flow stops. Alternately, when we feel safe, our creativity unfolds like a beautiful flower, without conscious effort.
Knowing this, we can maximize our creative potential by creating the conditions that inspire our creativity. In order to really be in the flow, we need to feel safe and unrestricted. However, achieving this is not as simple as avoiding people who make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we can be alone in a room and still feel totally blocked. When this happens, we know we have come up against elements in our own psyches that are making us feel fearful. Perhaps we are afraid that in expressing ourselves we will discover something we don’t want to know, or unleash emotions or ideas that we don’t want to be responsible for. Or maybe we’re afraid we’ll fail to produce something worthy.
When you’re up against fear, internal or external, ritual can be a powerful—and creative—antidote. Before you sit down to be creative, try casting a circle of protection around yourself. Visualize yourself inside a ring of light, protective fire, or angels. Imagine that this protective energy emanates unconditional love for you and wants to hear, see, and feel everything you have to express. Take a moment to bathe in the warmth of this feeling and then fearlessly surrender yourself to the power that flows through you.
Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:10 PM
Balancing Self with Family Life
Many of us have a hard time balancing taking care of ourselves with taking care of our family responsibilities. For people with young children, this can be especially challenging, but even people without children have obligations to care for extended family, partners, pets, and the home in which they live. It’s easy to lose track of our own needs as we give ourselves to the people, pets, and places we love. However, it is essential to their well-being that we take care of ourselves, filling our own wells with water so that we have something to offer when we return home each day.
It is easy to get caught up in the demands of home life because they never stop. There is always one more thing you can do, another dish in the sink, a counter that needs wiping, or a person who needs a ride somewhere. If you don’t set some boundaries, you will find yourself on an endless journey of housework and doing for others. Eventually, you will probably feel drained and out of touch with your inner life force. Instead of waiting for this to happen, integrate self-care into your daily schedule. Even Buddha insisted that he have one hour completely to himself every day. There are times when even that will not be possible—for example, with a new baby or a sick relative. At times like this, retreating inward energetically can be a lifesaver. You can always find five minutes to close your eyes and breathe consciously. You may even be able to meditate.
Most of the time, though, it is possible to set aside a full hour for yourself each day. In addition, scheduling a longer interval of time, perhaps on a weekly basis, can really help to restore your energy. Get a massage or go to a movie or out with a friend. Taking time to experience the world outside of your home makes returning home all the more wonderful. In the same way, taking care of yourself is a natural complement to taking care of your home and family.
Posted 02 April 2009 - 06:10 PM
Journey of the Senses
When we focus on incense sticks during meditation, we move into a mystical space that is both physical and spiritual at once. Like us, the incense stick is earthbound with an ember that burns for only a finite time, but the diaphanous spirit it releases is unbound by time or space. Rather than shutting down our senses to focus on an inner realm, incense involves our senses as we follow whirling smoke upward and outward while we take its scent into us, filling us as we breathe.
The journey starts with a flame, and then a glowing ember releases smoke to rise above us in an ethereal dance. Ashes fall below, purified by the fire. We can use this to imagine negative thoughts being changed from darkness into the beauty of warm gray snowflakes and a scented spun-silver plume, lighter than air. We can watch as our atmosphere is altered to become reminiscent of the heavens and lifts our thoughts: Embers become shooting stars, and the silver ribbon of smoke becomes unraveled clouds. Altered senses may guide our inspired thoughts to travel along new, perhaps undiscovered, pathways.
We can also imagine our physical selves being represented by the incense stick, our inner fire releasing magic into the world. That part of us emanates outward, expanding to mingle with the breath of those around us as we ride the wind to become part of everything. We can also see in the swirling smoke our life’s path, not a straight line but a twirling, meandering ballet that moves us ever onward and upward. We may leave a bit of ourselves behind as we bounce off of our surroundings, working through them, but no matter what we do, we cannot avoid our final destination: oneness with all that is. As spiritual beings enjoying the physical experience of life, incense meditations can help us remember the beauty and wonder of our existence, where heaven and earth, body and spirit, are all available to us in every moment.
Posted 06 April 2009 - 03:44 PM
April 6, 2009
Intelligence Speaks for Itself
The Fear of Appearing Dumb
The universal need to be accepted by others can be a barrier that prevents us from being ourselves around them. When we fear that the people we encounter will perceive us as inept or unintelligent, we frequently try to flaunt our grasp of large words or clever witticisms or our professional expertise in an effort to convince them that we are smart and capable. The reasons for feeling this way can be many, and they can often stem from as far back as your childhood. Many women in particular have the fear that they may appear not smart. Yet overcompensating for this fear can have the opposite effect if others are driven away by what they see as an immodest attitude or sense that you are urgently trying to prove yourself. The simple desire to be judged smart by both new and old acquaintances can cause you to reject your true self and adopt an affected persona. But in trying so persistently to project an image of supreme intelligence or capability, you deny others the opportunity to become acquainted with the real and terrific individual you truly are.
The fear that others will perceive you as unintelligent can further influence your behavior, causing you to consciously avoid speaking your mind or asking questions. You may feel uncomfortable participating in activities if there is a chance that you won’t excel or taking part in discussions with others who may have more knowledge than you. In essence, you become ashamed of who you are and attempt to encase your identity in a veneer that others will find pleasing and impressive. It is, however, a common fear—one experienced by almost everyone at some point in their lives. The simplest way to combat it is to make a personal commitment to being yourself in your home, your workplace, and among strangers. Ask yourself how you believe the individuals you encounter will react should you speak awkwardly, need clarification, or fail to be the best at some activity. By being yourself, you will discover that all people make mistakes and ask questions and that others will like and respect you because they recognize the goodness in your soul.
The fact that you are willing to be yourself, letting your many affirmative attributes express themselves naturally, will help you make a positive first impression on everyone you meet and earn the esteem of your family and friends. Your confidence and easygoing manner will say, "this is who I am and I am proud of the person I have become."
Posted 07 April 2009 - 04:28 PM
A Healing Channel
Everyone Can Heal
Touch is the first tool we turn to when confronting pain. We react similarly to a stubbed toe and a broken heart, tenderly grasping the affected area. This need to apply physical contact is part of the innate healing instinct present within each of us. We are all born with the ability to heal ourselves and to heal others. Because healing energy does not come from within but from outside our ourselves, the energy is there for anyone to use, and thus no formal training is required. When you have the intent to heal and love is your only motive, you become a conduit for healing energy. Through the simple laying on of hands, you can direct that universal healing energy in order to comfort those who are experiencing pain or distress.
In performing healing energy work, it is imperative that you ground yourself both before you begin and afterward. The illnesses and issues others face can be absorbed into our energy field, and healing can exhaust our own energy reserves. Address the universe directly, stating that you wish to be a one-way channel through which healing energy flows through you and that your energy supply should not be depleted. Next, speak your intention and place your hands on the individual you are endeavoring to heal. Let your intuition guide you to the afflicted area and imagine a healing white light being drawn in through the top of your head and emanating through your hands. The energy will begin to flow once you have made a physical connection, and your touch will help awaken the body’s capacity for self-healing. The afflicted areas of the body, which were initially tense or tight, will relax once imbued with enough healing energy. Not everybody is sensitive to subtle energy, so try not to feel like you aren’t helping if you don’t feel the flow. The work you are doing is indeed helping. Finally, thank the universe. Disconnect yourself from the person being healed by speaking your intention to sever your connection and then wash your hands.
Understanding how energy works is less important than consciously choosing to make use of it. Performing a loving healing session on your loved ones can be a wonderfully intimate experience that brings you closer together. And as the rejuvenating healing energy passes through you, it can awaken a profound compassion within you that helps you better understand the interactions between the spiritual, physical, and mental selves.
Posted 08 April 2009 - 01:41 PM
Putting Your Selves Together
Integrating Our Many Selves
Human beings are multidimensional creatures. Our identity is made up of the sum total of our many traits and values and our character. Each of us possesses within us many different selves. There is the adult part of ourselves and the childlike spirit that resides in each one of us. There is our masculine side and our feminine side. There is the hard worker in us, the artist, the parent, and the caretaker. All of these selves combined form a well-rounded, complex person. Not all of these different aspects of who we are blend easily with each other, however, and some of them may even conflict with or oppose one another. When a person’s different parts clash, such as the self that is our childlike aspect and the self that is our responsible adult, we often end up compartmentalizing or suppressing one of these aspects to ease the conflict. While this may make us feel better in the short run, we would be better off finding a way for these two selves to coexist peacefully inside us.
Though some of our selves may be dominant while others rarely assert themselves, attempts to suppress one or more of these different aspects can leave us feeling that our identity has been splintered. Being able to successfully integrate our various selves can be as simple as accepting and embracing each one. It may also be necessary to reframe the way you see them. The immature self that you ridicule can become a valued and accepted part of you when redefined as your more playful aspect. Journaling can help you acknowledge and understand the different parts that make up your identity.
When your many selves blend together to form an integrated individual, you will feel changed. You will no longer feel pulled in multiple directions, and you will never again have to deny any part of yourself. You become a complete person—familiar and comfortable with the many selves that make up the person you are.
Posted 09 April 2009 - 04:26 PM
The Negative Effects of Spoiling Children
Parents are moved by instinct to love, nurture, and provide for their offspring. Because our children are so much a part of us, we want to see them blissfully happy. Also, our own desire to be liked, materialist pressures, and a fervent wish that our children have everything we lacked as youngsters can prompt us to spoil them. However, while it might seem that buying your child expensive gifts will give them fond memories of childhood or that you can heal your emotional wounds by doting on your sons and daughters, you may be unconsciously interfering with your children’s evolutional development. One of the most precious gifts you can grant your children is the true independence they gain when they learn to earn what they covet and become stewards of their own happiness. Try allowing your children to experience life to the fullest. Let them work and earn what they want. When the time comes for them to go to college and enter the workforce, you will have the confidence that you have raised a child that can both enter and contribute to society confidently.
When children are not afforded the opportunity to explore self-reliance, to understand that with possession comes price, and to fulfill their own needs, they develop a sense of entitlement that blinds them to the necessity of hard work and the needs of others. We may spoil children because giving them gifts is pleasurable. Or we may want to avoid conflict out of fear that our children won’t love us. Yet children who are given acceptance, love, and affection in abundance are often kinder, more charitable, and more responsible than those whose parents accede to their every material demand. They develop a strong sense of self that stretches beyond possessions and the approval of their peers, and as adults they understand that each individual is responsible for building the life they desire. If you find yourself giving in to your child’s every whim, ask yourself why. You may discover that you are trying to answer for what you feel is lacking in your own life.
Rearing your children to respect the value of money and self-sufficiency as they grow from infants to young adults is a challenging but rewarding process. It can be difficult to watch a child struggle to meet a personal goal yet wonderful to be by their side as they achieve it. Your choice not to spoil your children will bless you with more opportunities to show them understanding and compassion and to be fully present with them as they journey toward adulthood.
Posted 10 April 2009 - 05:58 PM
Focus on the Good
Raise Your Vibration
Everything in the universe is made of energy. What differentiates one form of energy from another is the speed at which it vibrates. For example, light vibrates at a very high frequency, and something like a rock vibrates at a lower frequency but a frequency nonetheless. Human beings also vibrate at different frequencies. Our thoughts and feelings can determine the frequency at which we vibrate, and our vibration goes out into the world and attracts to us energy moving at a similar frequency. This is one of the ways that we create our own reality, which is why we can cause a positive shift in our lives by raising our vibration.
We all know someone we think of as vibrant. Vibrant literally means “vibrating very rapidly.” The people who strike us as vibrant are vibrating at a high frequency, and they can inspire us as we work to raise our vibration. On the other hand, we all know people that are very negative or cynical. These people are vibrating at a lower frequency. They can also be an inspiration because they can show us where we don’t want to be vibrating and why. To discover where you are in terms of vibrancy, consider where you fall on a scale between the most pessimistic person you know and the most vibrant. This is not in order to pass judgment, but rather it is important to know where you are as you begin working to raise your frequency so that you can notice and appreciate your progress.
There are many ways to raise your vibration, from working with affirmations to visualizing enlightened entities during meditation. One of the most practical ways to raise your vibration is to consciously choose where you focus your attention. To understand how powerful this is, take five minutes to describe something you love unreservedly—a person, a movie, an experience. When your five minutes are up, you will noticeably feel more positive and even lighter. If you want to keep raising your vibration, you might want to commit to spending five minutes every day focusing on the good in your life. As you do this, you will train yourself to be more awake and alive. Over time, you will experience a permanent shift in your vibrancy.
Posted 13 April 2009 - 01:12 PM
A Virtuous Cycle
The Ripple Effect
In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action. Each of us, however, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Your thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward. The impact you have on the world is greater than you could ever imagine, and the choices you make can have far-reaching consequences. You can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.
Should the opportunity arise, the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. Someone feeling the effects of negative energy will be more likely to pass on that negative energy. One act of charity, one thoughtful deed, or even one positive thought can pass from individual to individual, snowballing until it becomes a group movement or the ray of hope that saves someone’s life. Every transformation, just like every ripple, has a point of origin. You must believe in your ability to be that point of origin if you want to use the ripples you create to spread goodness. Consider the effect of your thoughts and actions, and try to act graciously as much as possible.
A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can send ripples that spread among your loved ones and associates, out into your community, and finally throughout the world. You have the power to touch the lives of everyone you come into contact with and everyone those people come into contact with. The momentum of your influence will grow as your ripples moves onward and outward. One of those ripples could become a tidal wave of love and kindness.
Posted 13 April 2009 - 06:05 PM
A Virtuous Cycle
The Ripple Effect
In a world of six billion people, it
Posted 14 April 2009 - 01:51 PM
The Mirroring World
We Are Like Nature
Nature is a mirror, inspiring and teaching us, deepening our sense of belonging in the world. Wherever you look, you can see that our patterns and the patterns of the natural world are the same. You can find this resonance in every form, from molecules to plants and animals and to planets. We live our lives according to the same principles as the trees, the mountains, the clouds, and the birds.
We begin our lives in the womb, folded in on ourselves like the bud of a flower. We can see our whole lives in the mirror of this natural form. When we emerge from the womb, we slowly begin our unfolding, just as the flower begins to open its petals. At its prime, the flower draws many insects to it and also the eyes of appreciative humans. When the flower’s petals begin to fade and its life cycle comes to an end, it ceases to hold itself upright and returns to the earth. Traditionally, we return to the earth, just as all plants and animals do. Like flowers, we leave behind seeds in the forms of children and other gifts only we could have given. They continue to unfold even after we are gone. Rebirth is encoded into our lives, and death is just one part of the cycle.
Look around you, and you will find connection and insight. Notice how your moods shift from one to another like the sky shifts from bright blue to turbulent grays. Your thoughts are like clouds, appearing, changing shape, passing through, and then disappearing without a trace. The rain cleanses the sky, just as an emotional release cleanses your mind. The sky itself is your eternal awareness, unchanging underneath all these permutations. Let it reflect back to you your own abiding perfection.
As you walk through the world, find your own metaphors for connectedness in nature. Flesh them out fully and follow them as they lead you through the mystery and intelligence of life.
Posted 15 April 2009 - 02:51 PM
Creating What We Don’t Want
When Worry becomes A Prayer
If prayer is an intention that we announce to the universe in order to create a desired outcome, then our every thought is a prayer. This includes thoughts of worry as well as of hope. All thoughts are subtle creative energy. Some thoughts are more focused or repeated more often, gathering strength. Some are written down or spoken, giving them even greater power. Every thought we have is part of a process whereby we cocreate our experience and our reality with the universe. When we use our creative energy unconsciously, we create what is commonly known as self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, when we worry, we are repeatedly praying and lending our energy to the creation of something we don’t want.
The good news is that we can retrain our minds and thoughts to focus our energy on what we do desire to bring into our lives. Since most worry is repetitive, it will take more than one positive thought to counteract the energy we’ve created. The simplest antidote to worry is affirmations. When we hold these positive thoughts, repeat them often, speak them and write them and refer to them throughout our day, we are using focused energy to create positive results.
We can start right away, together: I am a creative being, using my energy to cocreate a wonderful world. I know that I create my experience of life from within, and as I do so, I also create ripples of energy around me that echo into the world. My positive thoughts gather together with the thoughts and prayers of others, and together we create enough positive energy to heal not only our own lives but the world we share. I am grateful for the ability to cocreate good in my life and in the world.
A lot of times we have concerned loved ones that worry about us. When this happens they are also sending out a worry prayer to the world. A loving conversation letting them know what is happening is the easiest solution. Also, ask them to send you positive affirmations rather than worry about you. After all, worry doesn’t do them any good either. Explain to them that worry can actually be energetically harmful to you and that wishing good things for you is much more beneficial and much more fun too.
Posted 16 April 2009 - 01:48 PM
The Ecology Around You
Finding Nature in Your Neighborhood
Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-rises. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks. To find these creatures, we only need to stop, look, and listen. Nature’s drama is continually playing out on the window ledges where weary birds stop to roost, in the shadowy places where cautious nocturnal mammals wait for night’s mantel to fall, and the fountains where playful waterfowl splash and frolic. In observing the animals that share our habitat, we become a part of their beautiful, complex, and exciting world.
Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal’s eyes. Where there are shrubs and flowers, insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders can usually be found. The insects, in turn, attract the birds who feast upon them. Even the smallest green spaces are hosts to squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and moles. Decorative awnings offer falcons a place to raise their young. At night, a different community of animals wakens to the world. Raccoons, skunks, and possums emerge to examine our human leftovers for edibles. Even pets feel the call of the wild—it’s not uncommon for well-fed cats in colorful collars to stalk the streets in search of prey. Signs of habitation, like nests or hives, and audible evidence, like chirps, will help you find them.
Recognizing that you share your city with a wide range of animals can make you feel like a part of the grand circle of life and help you appreciate the importance of a healthy urban environment. You can admire the hardiness and adaptability of the urban animal while developing a sense of stewardship that inspires you to become their champion. The shrill calls of birds, the hum of bees, and the sweet squeaks of city-dwelling mammals can be a symphony that help you develop a deeper connection with the nature world.
Posted 17 April 2009 - 05:32 PM
Power in Numbers
Sending Our Collective Light to the World
Like tiny ripples that merge to form great waves, combined human intent is worth more than the sum of its parts. A single individual can initiate worldwide improvement by emitting conscious frequencies of love, beauty, goodness, and wisdom. A group of people focusing their energy on sending out light to the world can set the stage for positive global transformation. All of us possess the ability to channel love energy, to heal, to be a conduit for white light, and to positively influence our fellow humans from afar. Yet one person can only do so much. Imagine if each one of us took a few moments at the start of each day to send out light to the world from our hearts. Mother Earth would be quickly eased and the planet, as well as every organism and being on it, would be bathed in loving light. The world would be an infinitely beautiful place.
You can help bring about an earth where love triumphs over violence, air and water are nourishing in their purity, and people take pleasure in simply being alive. Alone, the light you emit is a wonderful healing tool, but when you join with others who share your intent to shine compassion and positive energy over the world, a powerful force is created. Your collective consciousness and collective light will wash over the planet, enveloping people, communities, cities, countries, and continents. Inviting others to send light with you can be a daunting task. People may question the benefits of sending light to an already broken world. You will likely need to explain that each person’s light joins with every other, and through the joining all are strengthened. Assure them that what matters is not technique or what religion or beliefs you hold but intent.
As more people come in mindfulness to send their collective light to the world, the power of their planetary gift will increase exponentially. You may already be affiliated with groups that would gladly participate in such a noble project. Children, who often feel incapable of influencing their world yet are reservoirs of innate power are usually enthusiastic about sharing their collective light. As you gather together willing people, your individual intent will become a great and powerful wave, and you will see results in your fellow humans, in the news, and in your daily life.
Posted 20 April 2009 - 03:58 PM
April 20, 2009
Appreciating What Is
Enjoying Your Age
In each stage of life, there are wonderful experiences one can savor and valuable insights one can absorb. Every new decade and, in fact, every new year brings with it wisdom, transformation, and growth, as well as ends and beginnings. Many people, however, believe that there is one age that eclipses the others. They expend energy trying to reach it and, once it has passed, trying to retain it. But wishing to be younger or older is a denial of the joys that have been and the joys yet to be, as well as the beauty of your life in the present. Holding on to one age can make it difficult to appreciate each new milestone you reach. Taking pleasure in the delights of your age, whether you are in your 20s, 40s, 60s, or 80s, can help you see the magnificence and usefulness of the complex seasons of your life.
Each new year gifted to us by the universe is replete with exciting and unfamiliar experiences. In our 20s, we can embrace the energy of youth and the learning process, knowing it’s okay to not have all the answers. As we move through our third decade, we grow more self-assured as the confusion of our young adulthood melts away. We can honor these years by putting aside our fears of aging and concentrating instead on solidifying our values and enjoying our growing emotional maturity. In our 40s, we become conscious of the wisdom we have attained through life experience and are blessed with the ability to put it to good use. We are not afraid to explore unfamiliar territory or to change. In our 50s, we tend to have successfully navigated our midlife reevaluations and have prioritized our lives. In the decades beyond, we discover a greater sense of freedom than we have ever known and can truly enjoy the memory of all we’ve seen and done.
Try to enjoy the age you are at now, for each age presents its own unique wisdom to savor.
Posted 21 April 2009 - 02:05 PM
Acting Together for Good
Cooperation seems simple: working together toward a common goal for the benefit of all involved. But amazingly it can be quite challenging, even when we have so many successful examples all around us. Human society is based upon the concept of cooperation, but finding a balance to ensure the good of all members of society is difficult. In nature, symbiotic relationships form between unlikely allies: a bee and a flower, a bird and a rhinoceros, small fish and sharks. Yet nature also shows us instances of constant competition in which only the strongest survive. Given the choice, it seems most people would choose the more peaceful path of cooperation. Intellectually, we know that together we can create something greater than what one could do alone, but cooperation still seems to be one of the greatest challenges people face. We don’t always agree on how goals can be reached. Our priorities may be different, or our methods, but in the end, cooperation offers the best chance fo! r success.
So how can we learn to cooperate with each other? We can gain greater perspective by trying to understand one another’s point of view, perhaps even putting ourselves in their place. We can search for commonalities as well as differences, and look for the good in different approaches. There is always more than one way of doing things, and some approaches are better suited for certain situations than others. All this is easier when we let go of the necessity to be right and to call others wrong. More important, we must believe that there is a solution that benefits all involved, not just one side.
The results of cooperation can be as simple as effortlessly getting everyone in your household to their appointments to large-scale social shifts to changing minds and hearts or policies that affect the future.
Posted 22 April 2009 - 01:44 PM
Pattern of Pain
The most common form of withholding is what we commonly call "the silent treatment," but withholding encompasses any unwillingness to express your true feelings. It also includes an unwillingness to give support, praise, or positive attention to the people you love. We have all known someone who is impossible to please, and many of us have suddenly found ourselves at the other end of a chilly silence with no explanation. At the same time, many of us will recognize our own tendency to withhold our emotions rather than express them. Most of us have seen both sides of the withholding dilemma. Emotional pain is at the root of our tendency to withhold, and withholding causes pain to the people subjected to it. It is a dysfunctional pattern that creates a breakdown in communication and understanding.
No one deserves to be subjected to withholding. Feeling ignored, disrespected, or shut out, and to not know why, is a terrible feeling. The first thing to remember if this is happening to you is that you are not to blame. You are caught in someone else’s pain pattern. This person does not know how to express feelings in a healthy way probably because this is what they learned when she or he was a child. The second helpful thing to remember is that the withholder is acting out of pain. They are stuck in a habitual mode of response that is self-defeating and alienating to the people they love. Remembering this will help you feel compassion for the person hurting you. However, if you have suffered too long with this pattern, you may need to get some space. Take some time to look at your own patterns and understand why you have taken part in this drama. If you are dealing with people in a family situation, you can step up to the plate to help break the chain of this behavior pattern.
If, on the other hand, it is you that tends to withhold, understand that this is a learned response and it can be unlearned. Find safe places to begin to express all that you’ve been holding back. Begin to make an effort to say what you’re feeling and thinking. Give praise to someone you love. The more you do this, the healthier you and your relationships will become. What was learned over a course of a life cannot be changed overnight—remember, one day at a time.
Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:38 PM
Spreading Love Effortlessly
In the quest to create a gentler, more loving world, kindness is the easiest tool we can use. Though it is easy to overlook opportunities to be kind, our lives are replete with situations in which we can be helpful, considerate, thoughtful, and friendly to loved ones and associates, as well as strangers. The touching, selfless acts of kindness that have the most profoundly uplifting effects are often the simplest: a word of praise, a gentle touch, a helping hand, a gesture of courtesy, or a smile. Such small kindnesses represent an unconditional, unrestricted form of love that we are free to give or withhold at will. When you give the gift of kindness, whether in the form of assistance, concern, or friendliness, your actions create a beacon of happiness and hope that warms people’s hearts.
The components of kindness are compassion, respect, and generosity. Put simply, kindness is the conscious act of engaging others in a positive way without asking whether those individuals deserve to be treated kindly. All living beings thrive on kindness. A single, sincere compliment can turn a person’s entire world around. Holding a door or thanking someone who has held a door for you can inspire others to practice politeness and make already kind individuals feel good about their efforts. Smiling at people you meet—even those who make you feel like frowning—can turn a dreary encounter into a delightful one, for both of you. Every kind act has a positive influence on the individual who has performed said act as well as on the recipient, regardless of whether the act is acknowledged. Kindness brings about more kindness and slowly but surely takes a positive toll on humanity.
Weaving the thread of kindness into your everyday life can be as easy as choosing to offer a hearty “Good morning” and “Good night” to your coworkers or neighbors, a stranger on the street, or the grocery store clerk. When you commit a kind act, you are momentarily disconnected from your ego and bonded with the individual who has benefited from your kindness. Being fully present in each moment of your life facilitates kindness as it increases your awareness of the people around you. You’ll discover that each act of kindness you engage in makes the world, in some small way, a better place.
Posted 24 April 2009 - 02:35 PM
The Sun Is Always Shining
Remember the Sun
There are times when gloom or darkness causes us to momentarily lose sight of the light. Although it is at these times when the thought of the sun can help us. Its warm, glowing rays brighten even our thoughts, and it’s good to remember that despite appearances the sun is shining right now. We may not be able to see it at this very moment, but if clouds block our view, they are only filtering the sun’s light temporarily. If darkness has fallen, we know that the sun is still shining at this very moment somewhere not too far away, and it’s only a matter of time before it will shine on us again.
When we remember that the sun is still shining, we know that things are still in motion in the universe. Even if life feels like it is at a standstill, sometimes all we need to do is have faith and wait for the time when everything is in its perfect place. Or we can we can choose to follow the cues of the sun and continue doing our work and shining our light, even when we can’t yet see results. In doing so we exercise our patience, making sure we are prepared when opportunity knocks and all other elements are in their right and perfect places.
The sun also reminds us that our own shining truth is never extinguished. Our light shines within us at all times, no matter what else occurs around us. Though the sun gives us daily proof of its existence, sometimes our belief in our own light requires more time. If we think back, however, we can find moments when it showed itself and trust that we will see it again. Like the sun, our light is the energy that connects us to the movements of the universe and the cycles of life and is present at all times, whether we feel its glow or not.
Posted 27 April 2009 - 12:41 PM
You Are Who You Are, Not What You Do
Becoming Your Wrong Decisions
Our perception of the traits and characteristics that make us who we are is often tightly intertwined with how we live our life. We define ourselves in terms of the roles we adopt, our actions and inactions, our triumphs, and what we think are failures. As a result it is easy to identify so strongly with a decision that has resulted in unexpected negative consequences that we actually become that "wrong" decision. The disappointment and shame we feel when we make what we perceive as a mistake grows until it becomes a dominant part of our identities. We rationalize our "poor" decisions by labeling ourselves incompetent decision-makers. However, your true identity cannot be defined by your choices. Your essence—what makes you a unique entity—exists independently of your decision-making process.
There are no true right or wrong decisions. All decisions contribute to your development and are an integral part of your evolving existence yet they are still separate from the self. A decision that does not result in its intended outcome is in no way an illustration of character. Still, it can have dire effects on our ability to trust ourselves and our self-esteem. You can avoid becoming your decisions by affirming that a "bad decision" was just an experience, and next time you can choose differently. Try to avoid lingering in the past and mulling over the circumstances that led to your perceived error in judgment. Instead, adapt to the new circumstances you must face by considering how you can use your intelligence, inner strength, and intuition to aid you in moving forward more mindfully. Try not to entirely avoid thinking about the choices you have made, but reflect on the consequences of your decision from a rational rather than an emotional standpoint. Strive to understand why you made the choice you did, forgive yourself, and then move forward.
A perceived mistake becomes a valuable learning experience and is, in essence, a gift to learn and grow from. You are not a bad person and you are not your decisions; you are simply human.
Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:41 PM
A Question Of Balance
One of the most beautiful qualities of an intimate relationship is the give and take of energy that occurs between two people. In the best-case scenario, both people share the talking and listening, and the giving and receiving of support, equally. Occasionally, within any relationship, the balance shifts and one person needs to listen more, or give more. Generally, over a long period of time, even this exception will take on a balanced rhythm; we all go through times when we take more and times when we give more.
However, there are also relationships in which the balance has always felt one-sided. You may have a friend whom you like, but you have begun to notice that the conversation is always about their life and their problems and never about yours. You may also have a friend who seems to require an inordinate amount of support from you but who is unable or unwilling to give much in return. Over time, these relationships can be draining and unsatisfying. One option is simply to end the relationship, or let it fade out naturally. Another option is to communicate to your friend that you would like to create a more equal balance in which your concerns also get some airtime. They may be taken aback at first, but if they are able to hear you, your friendship will become that much more sincere. They may even thank you for revealing a pattern that is probably sabotaging more than one relationship in their life.
A third option is to simply accept the relationship as it is. There are many one-sided relationships that actually work. One example of this is a mentor relationship in which you are learning from someone. Another example is a relationship in which you are helping someone who is sick, disabled, or otherwise needy. In these instances, you can simply be grateful that you are able to help and be helped, trusting that the balance of give and take will even out in the big picture of your life.
Posted 29 April 2009 - 12:47 PM
The Things We Take for Granted
The Wonderment of Life
Most of us begin our days with a continuous list of things we need to do to keep our lives running smoothly, but we rarely take time to note all the things we don’t need to do. For example, we don’t need to figure out how to breathe. We don’t need to find a way to make sure the earth continues to revolve around the sun. We don’t need to concentrate to ensure that our heart beats and our cells regenerate. All of these things, and many more, take care of themselves without our having to think or do anything at all. This is the miracle of life on earth.
Beyond the wonder of the natural world, we have the wonder of human-created conditions such as indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, and the Internet to name a few. Someone living just a hundred years ago would be overwhelmed by the ease with which we can communicate with people all over the world. Every day, millions of us jump on airplanes and fly to distant locations in a matter of hours. If we have access to a computer, we can read obscure information about any subject, free of charge, at any time of the day or night. And yet, it’s only when one of these miraculous inventions fails that we notice it at all.
When you wake up tomorrow, take time to notice how many things are running smoothly, how many small miracles compose your day. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, as you put them on, take a moment to appreciate the fact that without them, you would be unable to see. Your life would be entirely different if someone hadn’t invented corrective lenses. As you take in your world, you might feel a moment of gratitude for the basic fact that, once again, the sun has risen to illuminate the abundant earth, and the earth’s gravitational field holds you and all that you hold dear in a tight, life-affirming embrace.
Posted 30 April 2009 - 02:11 PM
Healing with Hurt
Using Your Pain To Help Others
Pain is a fact of being and one that permeates all of our lives to some degree. Since the hurt we feel may be a part of the experiences that have touched us most deeply, we are often loathe to let it go. It is frequently easier to keep our pain at our sides, where it acts as a shield that shelters us from others and gives us an identity—that of victim—from which we can draw bitter strength. However, pain’s universality can also empower us to use our hurt to help others heal. Since no pain is any greater or more profound than any other, what you feel can give you the ability to help bring about the recovery of individuals whose hurts are both similar to and vastly different from your own. You can channel your pain into transformative and healing love that aids you in helping individuals on a one-to-one basis and spreading a tide of curative energy throughout the world.
The capacity to heal others evolves naturally within those who are ready to disassociate themselves from their identity as victims. In fact, the simple decision to put aside the pain we have carried is what grants us the strength to redeem that pain through service. There are many ways to use the hurt you feel to help others. Your pain gives you a unique insight into the minds of people who have experienced trauma and heartache. You can draw from the wellspring of strength that allowed you to emerge on the other side of a painful experience and pass that strength to individuals still suffering from their wounds. You may be able to council individuals in need by showing them the coping methods that have helped you survive or simply by offering sympathy. A kinship can develop that allows you to relate more closely with those you are trying to aid and comfort.
Helping others can be a restorative experience that makes your own heart grow stronger. In channeling your pain into compassionate service and watching others successfully recover, you may feel a sense of euphoria that leads to increased feelings of self-worth and optimism. Your courageous decision to reach out to others can be the best way to declare to yourself and the world that your pain didn’t defeat you, and in fact it helped you heal.
Posted 01 May 2009 - 06:37 PM
Permission To Simply Be
Working Through Transitions
The elation we feel when we have learned an important lesson, achieved a goal, or had a big breakthrough can sometimes be met with a period of downtime afterward. During this period of transition, we may feel unsure and not know where to turn next. Many people, during the pause between achievements, begin to wonder what their life is about. These feelings are common and strike everyone from time to time. Human beings are active creatures—we feel best when we are working on a project or vigorously pursuing a goal. But there is nothing inherently wrong with spending a day, a week, or even a month simply existing and not having a plan. Just be. It won’t be long before you embark upon your next voyage of growth and discovery.
The quiet lull into we which we fall between ideas, projects, and goals can make life seem empty. After accomplishing one objective, you may want to move immediately on to the next. However, when your next step is unclear, you may feel frustrated, disconnected, or even a mild depression. You may even perceive your lack of forward momentum as an indicator of imminent stagnation. To calm these distressing thoughts, try to accept that if your intent is personal growth, you will continue to grow as an individual whether striving for a specific objective or not. Spending time immersed in life’s rigors and pleasures can be a cathartic experience that gives you the time you need to think about what you have recently gone through and leisurely contemplate what you wish to do next. You may also find that in simply being and going through the motions of everyday life, you reconnect with your priorities in a very organic, unforced way.
The mindful transitional pause can take many forms. For some, it can be a period of reflection that helps them understand how their life has unfolded. For others, it can be a period of adjustment, where new values based on recent changes are integrated into daily life. Just because you’re not headed swiftly to a final destination doesn’t mean you should assume that you have lost your drive. The stage between journeys can become a wonderful period of relaxation that prepares you for the path that will soon be revealed to you.
Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:23 PM
Gifts We Give Ourselves
Good friends enrich our lives in so many ways. Through a magical combination of similarities and differences, friends offer us the opportunity to know ourselves as we are and help us grow into who we want to be. Our similarities attract us to each other, comforting us with familiarity when we see ourselves in them. When we are drawn to those we admire, the same recognition is at work, unconsciously acknowledging that these people possess qualities that we ourselves possess. By acting as mirrors, friends help us define who we are by reflecting our selves back to us.
Friends also help us know ourselves through our differences. Differences allow us to see other options and make choices about who we want to be. Sometimes we are drawn to those who appear to be our opposites, and we learn to accept the parts of them we love and the parts of them that don’t resonate with us, thus allowing us a valuable learning experience. By expanding our understanding to include others’ experiences, friends help us accept others. By understanding when someone’s life differs from our own, we can learn about ourselves in contrast. There are times when we see in friends what we don’t like about ourselves. That mirror reflection may be hard to take, but a good friend helps us find ways we can change and supports us in that choice.
Part of the joy of friendship is the feeling that we are accepted just the way we are, with no need to change. It is a gift they give us, and one we can give back every day. Ultimately, we choose friends because they make us feel good about ourselves and life. Through tears and difficulties, friends help us find the laughter. When we find those special people who offer us that perfect combination of comfort and stimulus to grow, we are very fortunate. Friends, those wonderful companions that walk with us through life, help us define and refine who we are and who we choose to be every day.
Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:24 PM
Progressing With Patience
Doing The Best You Can
It isn’t always easy to meet the expectations we hold ourselves to. We may find ourselves in a situation such as just finishing a relaxing yoga class or meditation retreat, a serene session of deep breathing, or listening to some calming, soul-stirring music, yet we have difficulty retaining our sense of peace. A long line at the store, slow-moving traffic, or another stressful situation can unnerve you and leave you wondering why the tranquility and spiritual equilibrium you cultivate is so quick to dissipate in the face of certain stressors. You may feel guilty and angry at yourself or even feel like a hypocrite for not being able to maintain control after practicing being centered. However, being patient with yourself will help you more in your soul’s journey than frustration at your perceived lack of progress. Doing the best you can in your quest for spiritual growth is vastly more important than striving for perfection.
Just because you are devoted to following a spiritual path, attaining inner peace, or living a specific ideology doesn’t mean you should expect to achieve perfection. When you approach your personal evolution mindfully, you can experience intense emotions such as anger without feeling that you have somehow failed. Simply by being aware of what you are experiencing and recognizing that your feelings are temporary, you have begun taking the necessary steps to regaining your internal balance. Accepting that difficult situations will arise from time to time and treating your reaction to them as if they are passing events rather than a part of who you are can help you move past them. Practicing this form of acceptance and paying attention to your reactions in order to learn from them will make it easier for you to return to your center more quickly in the future.
Since your experiences won’t be similar to others’ and your behavior will be shaped by those experiences, you may never stop reacting strongly to the challenging situations you encounter. Even if you are able to do nothing more than acknowledge what you are feeling and that there is little you can do to affect your current circumstances, in time you’ll alter your reaction to such circumstances. You can learn gradually to let negative thoughts come into your mind, recognize them, and then let them go. You may never reach a place of perfect peace, but you’ll find serenity in having done your best.
Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:21 PM
Walking Through Your Fear
The situations, activities, and individuals that frighten us remain static. Their relative intensity does not change. Fear, on the other hand, self-magnifies. It is when you are afraid and envisioning all that might go wrong that the energy underlying your fear grows. A tiny flicker of anxiety can easily develop into a terror that manifests itself physically and eventually paralyzes you into inaction. Though frequently, in walking through that fear, we discover that the strength of our fright was out of synch with reality. And we learn that doing what frightens us can lead to great blessings. Confronting your trepidation head-on will help you accept that few frightening scenarios will ever live up to the negative disasters that we sometimes play out in our minds.
Though fear is literally an evolutionary gift meant to sharpen your senses and energize you during times of great stress, it can nonetheless become a barrier that prevents you from fulfilling your potential by causing you to miss out on rewarding, life-changing experiences. During the period before you face your fear, you may have to deal with a barrage of negative thoughts and emotions. Walking through it, whether your fear is public speaking, taking part in an activity that makes you nervous, or asserting yourself when the odds are against you, may be equally as difficult. But once you have emerged unscathed on the other side, which you will, you will likely wonder why you assumed the worst in the first place. As you spend time worrying about what might happen, it’s good to know that your fear probably won’t happen at all. It may feel like a great weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and you will likely feel a sense of passionate pride. Walking through your fear can! mean taking risks and can require both practice and patience. Since it is challenging to act when you are gripped with fear, start small.
Each step you take into fear will strengthen you and help you confront future fears with poise, courage, and confidence. You will also find that when you are willing to stare your fear in the face, the universe will always offer you some form of aid or support. When you see the heights of accomplishment and personal evolution you can attain when you walk through your fears, your faith in yourself will grow, allowing your next step to be easier.