Tag Archives: joy

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The underlying theme of the day is we’re being forced to change from within by letting go of old, outdated, now-useless ways of being and allowing something new to emerge.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.

 

35 Happy Thoughts for Inner Peace

mindPart of maintaining a positive, soulful balance in life is to notice our thoughts and where they’re focused. Our mind is capable of dragging us through mud and muck, taking the pleasure out of life as it creates tales of unfounded betrayal, potential ruin, armageddon, loss, disaster, or just plain disgust and fed upness.

One of the challenges many of us face is to redirect our thoughts, to let the mind know who’s in charge. Left to its own devices, the mind can be a tyrant, beating away at our inner peace.  The most powerful way I’ve gained mastery over my own mind, which can be quite creative and wild in its imaginings, is through meditation. But I also believe positive focused thought can be very powerful, can change the course of things, can turn panic into peace.

Here are 35 of my favorite “positive focused thoughts.” Use them freely to gain a little mastery over your own inner tyrant, help it lay down its club, take a rest, and give you a much needed break from its assumptions.

  1. I dance to my own rhythm
  2. Life is a gift
  3. I’m comfortable being myself
  4. My body knows how to maintain a healthy balance
  5. I am enough
  6. I am complete
  7. I am completely healthy in every way
  8. Every day I’m more optimistic
  9. I have the power to choose
  10. All is well in my world
  11. I follow my heart
  12. I am alive and well on all levels
  13. I remain in balance
  14. I’m steady, strong, and peaceful
  15. I make conscious, positive choices
  16. I have the kind of inner fortitude that succeeds through anything
  17. I live in true comfort and joy
  18. My mind is sharp
  19. I feel great
  20. I accept love
  21. I am open to learning about myself
  22. Abundance surrounds me
  23. All of my needs are easily met
  24. I am divinely guided and protected
  25. Everything around me is for my best and highest good
  26. My body and mind are vibrant
  27. I am an absolute genius at creating harmony in my life
  28. I allow the life force to flow through me
  29. I allow myself to be happy
  30. I forgive myself for everything
  31. I am open to positive change
  32. I flow easily with life
  33. Life is interesting, fun, and exciting
  34. I am loved
  35. I am safe

Uncovering Hidden Agendas That Keep You Stuck

TM4Everyone wants to be healthy, successful, and happy, right? Not necessarily. All we need to do is look around and we can see that sometimes people like the benefits of not being healthy, not being successful, and of being miserable.

Remaining stuck or being a victim around nothing going right in life can have payoffs, but from my perspective we must eliminate these hidden agendas for our own evolution and for the benefit of all living beings.

Here are a few of the payoffs illness, misery, and a lack of success can offer:

  • Get attention
  • Get revenge
  • Be lazy, take it easy
  • Don’t have to work much
  • Be taken care of by others
  • Notice how much others care about you (as they’re offering support and ideas for you to improve your circumstances)
  • See what a stir you can make in the lives of others
  • Feel important
  • Feel special
  • Feel like there is something that sets you apart from others
  • Have an excuse not to do things you don’t want to do
  • Punish others, use “power” over others
  • Be validated as a real person/get listened to
  • Sabotage yourself
  • Have something happen in an otherwise mundane life
  • Fulfill the family legacy, e.g., “lots of people in my family have heart disease/didn’t succeed/were depressed”
  • Addiction to being a victim/accentuate the victim role

It is difficult for us to see our own hidden agendas. That is why they are called “hidden.” It’s valid to be honest and look at these agendas. They are disempowering and work behind the scenes to undermine you.

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.

My Thoughts on Doing a Silent Retreat

533796_3292120096307_1066899692_3043234_1472076028_nEvery year I do a silent retreat or two for at least a week at a time. And each time, people look at me puzzled when I tell them this is what I’m doing. After all, it’s so strange to not talk incessantly, or be talked to. Isn’t it?

Sometimes I join a group, other times I go solo. Often, in April, I like to do a solo retreat in Maui or Kauai (or both, let’s be honest). It’s my birthday month and I love to be immersed in the island vibe. But this April, since I was in Maui last September finalizing the last chapters of my new book, I decided to do a silent retreat in a place where I won’t be able to check messages because there’s no wifi, let alone cell phone service. I’ll be with about 100 others, who come together from distant places, all with a similar idea: let’s take a little breather from the madness, check in, tune in, and listen to what’s real and true, if only for a week.

I very much look forward to no talking, writing, reading, computers, television, or electronics of any kind. No checking email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no CNN, no Orange County Housewives. Am I in the minority when I think we’ve become a completely distracted, unbalanced society through this media? At any rate, there will be the sights and sounds of nature along with deer, turkeys, maybe a fox or two, hawks, lizards, sunshine and intermittent fog.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot—the sound of my own thoughts. The chatter of my inner 5 year old, my inner sullen teenager, and various other inner selves all interrupting my older, wiser self. There will be unexpected random memories, songs from 1983, compulsive planning, weighing the pros and cons of letting my hair go gray, living room redecorating, and ideas of what I should have said to someone 15 years ago. This chatter will go on at least for the first couple of days until it exhausts itself and my mind surrenders to balance and spaciousness.

The first time I attended a silent retreat, I had signed up for 10 days at a meditation center in the Massachusetts countryside. I’d been told by one of my professors that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than any sort of therapy. Incredibly transformational. So I jumped right in and attended the New Year retreat when we entered this millennium. It was lights out by 10pm on December 31, 1999. No fanfare, noise, champagne, nothing. We were awakened by the sound of a bell at 4:00am on January 1, 2000 to continue meditating. It was odd, but delightful.

So here I am 13 years later, still longing to get immersed in my week of silent meditation. Still looking forward to not knowing what’s happening in the outer world. It feels a little defiant, actually, in this information age, to simply turn my back on it all and ignore it. I won’t speak for a week, or be spoken to. I won’t hear my neighborhood’s leaf blowers, screaming children, or the Harleys going down Hwy 1 on Sunday. Instead, I’ll have the opportunity to engage inwardly, locate my deepest center, learn to love the rhythm of my own breath, and release a bit of what doesn’t belong to me.

When it’s over, I’ll return home with greater inner peace, with more love to share, and a greater tolerance for all that is noisy and alive. Now why would anyone not want that?

Communing with Your Higher Self

green goddessYour Higher Self is the wise, all-knowing part of you that is connected directly to All That Is—the Divine Source. It knows why you’re here, where you’re headed, and carries much knowledge and awareness accumulated through eons of time. I believe it’s the part of us that helps us hold our integrity in life. It keeps us moving forward toward positive expansion.

In this age of constant distractions—shiny, sparkly objects catching the attention at every turn—it’s easy to become detached from the Higher Self. At worst, this detachment leads to self-abuse such as drug-use, violence, physical neglect, and negative mental states. At best, it’s a nagging feeling that you’re not living the way you were meant to.

Accessing your Higher Self connects you to your wisest self which has answers for you and knows what step to take next. Communing with your Higher Self requires that your mind be quiet enough to hear its wisdom. Being in silence, settling inward, and getting in touch with the body and breath is one path to linking more strongly with your Higher Self. Experiencing joy is another way. Real inner joy, coming from experiences that raise your vibration high enough that you transcend the ordinary mundane world, can link with your true higher nature.

We not only can touch our soul essence in meditation by tuning into the body and breath, or when we allow ourselves to be truly joyful, but we can gain guidance from our Higher Self and begin to allow it to be the guiding force in our lives. Once you’re in touch—ask, wait, listen, and trust. It’s always been talking to you, but hasn’t always been heard. So give it some practice because there is no guidance better for you than your own wise counsel.

The Power of the Mind to Heal

power of mindThe mind is so powerful that it alone can help you heal. You have the ability to focus your thoughts on what you want and how you want to feel. In each moment you can notice where your mind has gone, whether to worries, fears, judgments, and other negativity, or to thoughts that are aligned with what you want for yourself.

The first step is to have an ongoing practice of noticing and managing your thoughts. This isn’t easy to do if you’re addicted to the television culture, where mass media offers a never ending stream of negative concepts into your brain. Or, if you like to get online and read the daily headlines followed by stories of horrific occurrences around the world. Or, if you like to “trauma share” with friends and colleagues about the annoying things that happen to you.

In the case of serious physical illness, we might find ourselves in a doctor’s office listening to negative possibilities and statistics that don’t sound promising. Because we are susceptible to these predictions, we often believe the bad news and accept it as fact when it isn’t. This can hinder the ability to heal because the mind is powerful enough to create what it believes.

We hear stories about people on their “deathbeds” whose families don’t tell them what the doctors have said about their dire situation. The person gradually gets well and goes on to live a full life. The mind didn’t have the opportunity to grasp onto the negative concept of doom, and instead believed in wellness. Our unwillingness to integrate the power of the mind into mainstream medicine is a hindrance in modern healthcare. If we were masters over our own minds we could enhance and improve the entire medical system.

There are few more important things you can do than to shift your mind to the positive. Any negative thought can be transformed by focusing on its opposite. Writing down the opposite thought, even drawing it out, helps change the negative thought pattern. Notice what you think about. Are you hooked in to the latest gory or fear-based story on the nightly news? Do you have people around you who enjoy talking in negative terms, going over and over the same dark topics? Do you do this yourself? If so, noticing these times and making an effort to change them is your path to making a positive mind a habit.

The best conversation I had over the past holidays was with a friend at a dinner party who said, “I’m focusing all of my attention on seeing the best in people. I’m simply not talking negative about things. My challenge is to practice this even when others around me are being negative.” Isn’t that a challenge we all could be willing to take on?

That was a conversation I could have carried into the wee hours of the morning. When you find another person who’s behaving as if their positive thoughts make a difference, it’s inspiring, uplifting, and life-affirming. This is where true healing begins.

 

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…

Connecting with Spirit Guides

I’m frequently asked how to connect with spirit guides. More people than you might realize want to have divine guidance, especially when it’s individually tailored to their own life path. Many people I work with have benefited from connecting with spirit guides. These guides don’t intervene until you ask, except in the case of your Guardian Angel. This angel makes sure your path is in alignment with your Higher Self and the blueprint for your life.

You might feel you have to manage life yourself, but you can hand a lot over to spirit guidance. Connecting with a guide brings relief, inner peace, and a feeling that life is not being lived alone. The guide can work on behalf of your healing, giving you answers and reassurance. It goes forth into the world on your behalf.

Sometimes spirit guides come in meditation. When your mind is very quiet, one will just slip in and you find perhaps it’s been there all along, waiting for you to get quiet enough to listen. You can also connect with a spirit guide by asking for it to come in. However, it’s still beneficial to be in a meditative state. Get quiet, calm your thoughts, and ask your highest guides to show themselves to you. If this proves difficult to do on your own, an energy healer or intuitive healer will help you make the connection.

Here are a few requests you might bring to your guide (or guides).

Please make the decision clear for me.
Please bring me greater inner peace.
Please make the right path clear.
Please help my body, mind, and spirit be in a state of balance and ease.
Please help me go with the flow of life.
Please guide me to a place of deeper well-being.
Please show me what I need to know to get beyond this… (fill in the blank).
Please make this process quick and easy for me.
Please let me know you are listening to me.
Please help me walk through life with strength.
If this decision/person/situation is not right for me, please give me a clear sign.
Please give me clarity of mind, strength of spirit, and physical vitality.

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