Category Archives: Depth and Meaning

11 Ways to Navigate through Stressful Times

tumblr_ll3l0cUWgz1qb6t6wo1_500Life has stressful times as a norm, but right now some of us are feeling a more intense squeeze. Feelings of discomfort, unease, and vague anxiety can be constant. Some are feeling great intensity while others are simply riding the waves of expansion and growth, excited to see where they’re going but longing for guidance to navigate the new terrain.

The underlying theme of the day is we’re being forced to change from within by letting go of old, outdated, now-useless ways of being and allowing something new to emerge. Allowing a more creative, self-responsible, and I’d like to believe wiser part of us to come forth.

There are many things we can do to manage stressful times (without numbing out). If you are in a state of self-excavation where extreme personal inner evolution is happening, if you’re in a let go or be dragged phase or your life, welcome fellow traveler!

Always treat yourself like you’re a whole human being with a body that is interrelated, interconnected, and not at all separate from your thoughts, emotions, and soul. Today people are quite disconnected from their emotions and thoughts, not to mention nature, the natural rhythm of the earth and sky, and their own soul energy. If this sounds like you, navigate more powerfully and successfully through unknown territory by paying attention to the needs of your physical body, your mind, your emotions, and your true soul essence.

How?

It’s not that complicated, really. I’ve tried all kinds of convoluted ways and experience has shown me to simply return to the basics. Any links with the following will direct you to my previous posts on that topic.

  1. Eat well. Quality protein with vegetables is my staple of choice. Fresh fruit. Plenty of water.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Preferably at night, all night.
  3. Move your body and exercise.
  4. Go out in nature for a little bit and spend time on the earth.
  5. Seek out people who are trained to help you heal what’s nagging you. We need others to help us who have already seen this part of the journey.
  6. Have some body work (a massage is ideal) which helps settle tension and calm your mind.
  7. Have energy healing (or see a respected counselor) if you are emotionally or mentally stuck. Don’t feel as if something can’t get better. It can and it will if you want it to.
  8. Take time away from electronics and tech devices. Turn everything off and then feel what you feel. Get in touch with the discomfort and be okay with it.
  9. Breathe in and breathe out fully. Breathe in again. Release the breath completely as you breathe out and let go of all that is ready to go.
  10. Sit through the storms without having to self-medicate, get distracted, or otherwise foil the attempts of your soul to have this incredible life experience. Because the number of medicated, distracted, soul-detached people is so high that we’ve become a zombie civilization. Numbing out might feel like the way to get through, but the noise inside will only get louder.
  11. Finally, tell yourself this: All is well with the world. All is well in my world. There is nothing I need to make happen. I easily flow with life. I’m here to create and find joy in my creations.

 

The Power of Prayer

prayerI have always been interested in the potential of prayer. Did praying work, or is it just a pipe dream of the uninformed and naïve. When I was young, my southern-raised grandmas told me to pray. “To Jesus,” they would say. At night when I attempted a prayer I wondered, should I get down on my knees? Can he see me? Do I need to fold my hands in front of my face? Then I thought, “If everyone is praying and asking for something, how can Jesus keep track? How could he possibly answer all these prayers?” I doubted that he could.

By the time I was in college I had been questioning religion for several years and decided, while taking a course on world religions, that I was a Hindu, and not a Christian at all. Upon further study I decided I was, in fact, not a Hindu, but an atheist. My college years were spent questioning the role of religion in our world, while doubting the existence of God and refuting the relevance of prayer.

Over the next couple of years things happened that renewed my faith. Two of my closest college friends died in the same year, eliminating some of my naiveté and forcing me to reconsider my former disregard of God. I reconciled not with the Protestant God I’d been raised with, but a God who embodies both the masculine and feminine—a powerful energy of creation that suffuses all of life. It is with this view of the Divine that I researched prayer for my doctoral dissertation.

My interest in the power of prayer came on the heels of Dr. Larry Dossey’s research which he compiled in his book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. This inspired me to research the effect of meditation, visualization, and prayer on a group of patients in England.

Those who offered their prayers were located in the United States and Canada. The study had statistically significant results, with the patients in the receiving group experiencing the most improvement.

One problem some people have with prayer, with asking the Divine for assistance, is that they won’t be heard. But I believe prayers are heard and answered. Sometimes the answer is not what we thought we wanted. Sometimes the answer is “not now” or “you don’t want that in your life—you just think you do.”

We can trust this answer. We don’t know all the unseen forces at work on our behalf, so we can have faith if the answer is “not now.” Although we want life to be the way we desire, we can’t always understand the higher vision. When we trust unseen forces, we can trust that our prayers have been heard and answered.

In my experience, the most powerful prayer holds the intent, “For the best and highest good of all.” For example, “Please help me to make wise choices, to expand my awareness, and to move forward in joy, for the best and highest good of all.”

Today is the Perfect Day to Expand Love

grand sextileI know it sounds cliche. The word “love” is carelessly tossed around and many of us have become anesthetized to it’s meaning. But whatever it means to you, today is the perfect day to meditate on expanding your own personal expression of it. It’s a day of opportunity. The cosmos are on your side.

At this moment, the stars are aligned to assist you through a mystical portal of love. We have a special planetary alignment today creating a Star of David in the sky ~ two triangles intersecting to form a Diamond Tetrahedron.

The planets involved in this alignment are creating potential for great advancement in our “heart brains.” It’s an opportunity to take responsibility for our heart energy and how it’s expressed. It’s a time of healing old wounds, hurts, betrayals, the times you didn’t get what you thought you needed, and all those negative energies clung to for the sake of strength and power ~ this is the time to address them, to admit they cause unlovingness and pain, and to call in the higher forces of love.

There are two things I’m doing and I hope you’ll do them too:

  1. Ponder your openness and availability to receive loving energy from others. Recognize the pain humans feel when the love they offer, in whatever way they offer it, is not received. Consider allowing yourself to absorb the love given you and let it lift you up.
  2. Tune into your willingness to let love flow freely from you, without conditions or expectations of return. Breathe healing green light into your heart center. Soften your shoulders, chest, facial muscles, and all that useless defensive armor. Make an agreement to be someone who love flows easily into, through, and out from.

Today is the day, which doesn’t mean tomorrow you can’t do it. But we’ve got a portal operating in our favor right now. If nothing else, take a moment to breathe into your heart center and ask, “Can I let more love flow, without fear and defense?” I believe the answer is yes.

The Search for Meaning

searchYears ago I went through an intense phase of grumbling about life. During this time, my friend Nubby gently suggested I read Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. The book was written in 1946 after Frankl had survived being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Ultimately, Frankl presents how to face suffering while finding meaning in life so it can be lived not in bitterness, but with purpose. In Dr. Frankl’s country of Austria his book is translated to mean “Say yes to life just the same.”

I had meant to read it for years. The book was already on my shelf, so I didn’t have to go far to find it. The next day after Nubby made the suggestion, I didn’t get out of bed. I kept the blinds closed, commiserated with myself, moaned and groaned about my life — wallowed in it until I was pruney. Then I read Man’s Search for Meaning.

On that feeling-sorry-for-myself day when I refused to get out of bed, Dr. Frankl’s story spoke to me. Here is what it said:

  • We are capable of free thought.
  • We can make it through anything with a positive state of mind.
  • When we look death in the face, the cruelty of it can slice through our illusions so that things become very simple.
  • These are the energies that really count: love, hope, neutrality.
  • The ego is a rather frail construct.
  • We can step back and realize that no horror has any power over us.
  • We can transcend our own personal Auschwitz.
  • Nothing can break our spirit unless we allow it.

After finishing the last page of the book, I laid there in the dark room for a while questioning whether I would have had what it took to get through Auschwitz alive. Then I wondered, had I survived such a horror would I have been deeply bitter and resentful and hateful for the remainder of my life? I wondered if I would have chosen to see the joy and beauty in life again or would I have just grumbled through the rest of my days. I got out of bed, straightened the covers, took a shower, and decided to live.

What is the Dark Night of the Soul?

hopeThis phrase is commonly used to describe a time in one’s life when it appears as though all is lost, including the attention and support of God. Old ways of seeing life and believing in it end without a clear focus on what comes next. It can be a period of dark moods and hopelessness.

Originally stemming from the 16th century writings of Carmelite priest Saint John of the Cross, the phrase “Dark Night of the Soul” was indicative of mystic development, a quest for holiness. In our modern era, the phrase indicates a time when spiritual development is moving full speed ahead, except the person in the midst of it is usually in despair. During this time, the old and familiar fades away, making room for a new and deeper meaning to life. The challenge is that we can’t see the relevance while going through it, so we suffer.

Experienced as internal chaos and misery, the original Christian notion of this Dark Night is that God has turned away for good. What actually happens is a new pathway opens up that encourages transformation of one’s relationship with God. It’s a blessing in disguise.

In Christianity, the feeling of abandonment by God, a place of darkness, is considered a test of one’s faith. The agony of making your way through the dark causes the old self to reform. The ego dissolves, and a surrender takes place. Old expectations and illusions about God are broken. It is this process that brings a person to new levels of consciousness and into a new, more meaningful relationship with God.

In the midst of a Dark Night, don’t pull out the pills or jump off the bridge! Keep walking through it. It doesn’t last. You’ll come out the other side. God, Goddess, the Supreme Being, the Divine, the Universe, whatever name you choose, you can be sure that it does not desert you. It might seem to for a time, but it’s impossible for it to abandon you. Instead it leads you into greater light.

Transforming Depression into Wisdom

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

The way you think about the world, others, yourself, and the conditions of your life will correlate to your mood. Your perceptions of your relationships, your health, job or career, housework and chores, your money and bills will become your habitual state of mind. Often, these mental states creep in quietly and before you know it, they’ve become normal. Though it’s not fun to hear this when you’re in the midst of depression, you have the choice as to whether your mind states are pleasant or not.

Thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions alter brain chemistry. So does pollution from air, water, and electricity, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and even a lack of protein absorption. Dark moods can be triggered by loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crises, financial worries, and even unexpected change. Is there any wonder depression is so common?

But common as it might be, depression is a wake-up call to pay attention. What is the deeper meaning depression brings? What have we not been addressing within ourselves? Depression asks us to listen to its subtle messages so we can gain understanding and wisdom. We, as a culture, have been satisfied with avoiding deeper meaning. We seem determined to skim the surface, taking a pill whenever we don’t feel quite right. But when we act with courage to look within and alter habitual beliefs and thoughts, life expands and takes on new meaning.

There are many ways to be vital, strong, positive, hopeful, and joyous. Journaling and exercise, meditation, visualization, energy healing, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, going out in nature, proper nutrition, the use of mood-lifting essential oils, becoming more fully your authentic self, shifting your thoughts toward the positive, releasing the energies and expectations of others (often done through methods that access your unconscious mind such as energy work, hypnosis, biofeedback, or even simple visualization) ~ each of these can help you manage dark places.

Never allow yourself to despair for long. It’s okay to allow some blue moods, but if they stretch out for weeks, commit to getting assistance to help you through. There is hope and the journey is not that long.

7 Ways to Have a Real Thanksgiving

Recently I asked a friend, “What do you think is the importance of gratitude?” He said, “I feel good. It opens my heart up. Maybe that is enough. But it is a form of delight. I have a need to get to the feeling of gratitude. I can’t will it, but instead I must feel it. It comes from the act of giving. God gives us all this abundance. Gratitude is a feeling you show toward kindness or a blessing.” Wow!

Of course, it’s easier to feel deeply grateful when life is going well. But the practice and real treasure comes when you express appreciation for life even when it’s difficult.

Professors of Psychology Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons did research on gratitude and thanksgiving. Their studies found that daily gratitude exercises lead to higher alertness, enthusiasm, optimism, and more energy. They also found that grateful people feel more loved, less stressed, and less depressed. They exercise more regularly and make more progress on personal goals. All this from having gratitude for something! And each day, there is something to be grateful for.

As our gratitude holiday approaches, my practice is to keep my thoughts focused on what it’s truly about (between running to the store for more cranberries…). Here are my 7 ways to have a real Thanksgiving.

1. List 10 parts of your body that function reliably. For example, your ears, eyes, heart, bladder, kidneys, knees, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, stomach, nose, eyebrows…

2. List 10 things that make you happy.

3. List 10 people who have helped you in the past, no matter how small.

4. List 10 people you have helped, no matter how small.

5. List 10 things you are grateful for in your life.

6. List all of the good that has come into your life in the last 5 years.

7. Complete the following sentence: I’m so happy and grateful now that…