Monthly Archives: January 2016

Happiness? It’s in the Tip of Your Tail

I believe this is an old Hindu story. I’ve heard variations of it, but this is the way I first heard it & I love what it says.

A small kitten had just returned from cat philosophy school. He was running around in circles, trying to catch his tail. A seasoned old alley cat, asked the kitten what he was doing.

“I have learned that happiness is in the tip of your tail, and I am trying to catch mine, so that I will always be happy.”

The old Tom replied: “You have learned well. I never received a fancy education, but I too have heard that happiness is in the tip of my tail. What I have also discovered is that if you forget about trying to catch it, it will follow you wherever you go.”
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While we all try to avoid feeling “bad,” joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel here on earth because it never lasts. Something always happens to knock us down. But if we live in the moment, it will come around again – and it will be even sweeter BECAUSE we have experienced the pain.

So if we quit focusing and working so hard to find what we think we want (ie, happiness, success, etc), and just go about doing what we are led to do because it’s the right thing for us and for the universe, then what we have been looking for will naturally come – and it will probably be even better than anything we might try to force.

Motivation vs Inspiration

I’m often asked by clients how to find the motivation to begin or continue on a path that leads to a positive change in their lives.   While I have a few suggestions for them, it’s always been difficult for me to know exactly how to help them.  The way I look at it, motivation comes from the outside.  If you’re looking for something to motivate you, you can probably find it for short term success.  For example, maybe an upcoming class reunion will give you the incentive to lose those few extra pounds.

But if you’re wanting long-term change, I believe what you need to find is inspiration.  Inspiration comes from within.  For some, this is a difficult concept – that they can inspire themselves to make a change.   These are probably the people who have continual intellectual violence going on inside their heads – all those negative thoughts or memes they have entertained for years.  Most of us will have the same negative thoughts today that we had yesterday and last year and for years before that.  Those are the memes (mind viruses) we’ve learned from our parents or society.  Like any other virus, they are successful in doing their jobs – duplicating themselves while we feel worse and worse about ourselves.  (See Mind Virus by Richard Brodie)

The way to change this is to first, be conscious of your thoughts.  If you want to change something, you first have to determine what the negative belief about yourself is around the situation, because that’s what drives your emotions and behaviors.  Your beliefs stem from the thoughts you are feeding.  Those that gain weight by the constant feeding become your belief.  If you conclude that you need to change that belief, it’s time to begin pumping yourself with more positive thoughts. That doesn’t mean you have to be Stewart Smalley (for those of you old enough to remember SNL that far back).

This is where the external triggers can be helpful.  Look for places to get more positive input.  I listen to audiobooks, podcasts and music that inspires me.  I do it daily.  Although I’m a pretty positive person, I do wake up grumpy often – and if I don’t listen to my inspirational input, I can stay that way.

For me it works well to listen to my ipod while I’m working out or walking.  Then I make every effort to meditate afterward to connect with my higher power and to center myself.  Sometimes, I use a mantra to focus on an issue or relationship I want to change.  On days when I can’t do either or both of these, I make a concerted effort to stay in the moment, and practice gratitude for every little thing that happens.

But you don’t have to do it my way.  Just look for ways you can feed your mind with whatever inspires you.  It doesn’t have to be about the change you’re trying to make, but just something that is positive & makes you feel good – funny videos on YouTube or TV or reading the Bible or a meditation book.  Whatever you choose, you do need to do it consistently and often.

Most of all, don’t be so self-critical when you fall off the wagon & forget to feed yourself those positive thoughts and feelings.  Just climb back on at the next opportunity. Quit thinking so much and pat yourself on the back for being ready for the next step.

The Courage to Embrace Fear

Like most of you, I’ve recently been grieving the loss (once again) of the presumed safety we had somewhat fallen back into years after the 9/11 attacks.  Fear and scarcity has saturated our world.

I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world, but we must be careful not to let our minds overtake our hearts.  When I allow myself to focus on it, I am overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for those who have  been affected by all the violence, ignorance and unwillingness to explore and learn more about things and people that are foreign to us.  At their hands, whether they are active terrorists, shooters, or just politicians who espouse hate and those who applaud them, or even those who sit by quietly and do nothing – others have lost loved ones, homes, their way of life and their own lives. I also feel anger that so many people purposely set out to hurt others, that terrorists are capable of committing atrocities without being traced until it’s too late.  And fear.  We all feel the fear of the what if’s.  Where will they go next?  What will they do? And will we be able to stop them (whoever “they” are)?

What I’m about to propose may not be popular. I come from the belief that all humans originate from the same source – a source of Love and Light.  We may call it by different names and worship or understand it in very different ways, depending on our individual needs, but God (or whatever you call it)  is not religious. We are each an extension of that Light. So we have no choice, but to be like what we came from. Even the terrorists and other “evil” people.  (That’s not to say we should stand by & allow them to continue to victimize others.  All behavior has consequences, and we should not accept unacceptable behavior).  But we need to realize that buried deep down inside, they’re just like you & me; and given similar circumstances, any one of us could have ended up in their place.

So since we come from the same place, whether we are Christian, Muslim, White, Black, Republican, Democrat, gay, straight or transgender, it’s the ego, the human side, as opposed to the spiritual “Light” side that brings us down to these lower levels of energy.  And terrorists are not that different from some politicians in our daily news. They are addicted to power.  People who need to feel power to feel OK about themselves will do whatever it takes. It’s a narcissistic, fear-based mindset, and they need more and more power to continue to feel OK.

Fear is at the base of all prejudice, covered by hate and anger that expresses itself in extreme radicalism and racism. Although they would have us see it differently, the anger and aggression (or the emotional disconnect) we see in the terrorists, and hear from some in the political field is NOT the same as courage. Anger and emotional numbness are both like a bullet-proof vest we all occasionally put on to protect ourselves in order to feel a little more powerful.  They are covering what we’re really feeling deep down – vulnerable.

Courage & fear are  also intricately interconnected.  Sometimes our fear is very rational (as in the case of severe illness or real harm being perpetrated upon us); but often, it comes from an irrational belief about our situation.  While there may be an aspect of interpreting doctrine or situations differently; I believe the primary issue is that the terrorists and the politicians (and those who follow and applaud them) are terrified of feeling vulnerable. They don’t understand that’s the very element that connects them to the rest of humanity! And that connection is what would eventually give them the strength they so desperately want.

The people with real courage are those who have experienced the fear –  and then moved forward,  because they knew the odds of staying in their comfort zone are far outweighed by the risks involved in changing  their lives and the world.  People like the refugees, who have risked everything (and sometimes lost it all) to be able to live their lives in a way they choose; those in the military and first responders; people with fatal illnesses, who choose to enjoy their lives and live in the moment, rather than shrivel up and die; minorities, who have to fight for equal rights because racism and prejudice has not been eradicated; people like so many of my friends and clients who have risked not only ridicule, jobs and abandonment by their family and friends, but often their lives to come out and publicly be who they really are instead of shriveling up as they hide.  We can name any number of people in many threatening situations who take risks and allow themselves to be vulnerable in order to find their courage.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to combat all the fear and pain saturates our world.  But I do know that, if handled appropriately, fear is the door to growth.  It’s going to take each of us to individually conquer our own fears and feelings of inadequacy in order to move society forward. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel the fear.  Sit with it for a few minutes at a time, feeling it in your body & shutting out the intellectual violence in your head.  Use it as a motivator to change. After the few minutes, put the fear away, take the focus off the negatives and visualize the life you want! Look for a more positive way to look at any given situation.  Your perspective is what feeds your attitude.
  2. Educate yourself about the situation or people involved.  When you see someone who looks different than you, start a conversation.  Get to know the PERSON.  Learn more about their values.  I’ve also listened to interviews with Muslims who are very faith and abundance-oriented.  I’m currently listening to an audio book about the Muslim faith that challenges and explains both of the sides we’ve been hearing recently in the news.
  3. Look for ways to give. Volunteer where there has been a disaster – or to help provide food or clothing for the homeless or families who don’t have enough. Get involved in the issues that matter to you by writing your representatives and voting.  (Nobody has all the answers, but listen for those who actually have specific plans and are not just spouting off everything that’s wrong with the world).  Action can give us a sense of accomplishment and personal power.
  4. Go inside and find your center.  Meditation, prayer, or just sitting in silence on a consistent basis will reconnect you to your higher self – that part of you that is the extension of the Light I mentioned earlier.
  5. Send Love to others – those with whom you agree, and those you do not understand.  I sometimes silently repeat the word “Love” or “I am Love” to myself throughout the day.  It helps me feel love towards myself and others.  The Course in Miracles says the only two emotions are Love and Fear, and whatever is not love is fear.  So the best way to combat fear is to love.

Namaste (The Light in me recognizes and honors the Light in you.)

Courage is only courage when we’re afraid. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love vs Intimidation

With all the hate and violence permeating our world these days, it’s hard to not feel fear and intimidation.  Martin Luther King, Jr said “The only way to convert an enemy into a friend is through love.”

I will soon post another blog about the global fear that has been incited by all the violence, terrorism – and by the political arena recently.  But for now, I just want to focus on this one piece.

Think about it. . . even in your family , or work – conquering or winning an argument with force doesn’t breed love or peace.  At the best, it might lead to submission.  That might get you the behavior you want in the moment (as in punishing a child to get them to stop doing something you don’t want them to do), but in the long run, it breeds resentment from the other person.

So the next time you’re in the midst of an argument or a power struggle of some kind – even if it’s with your child, take a minute to think about the long-term effects of your response.  What do you want from that relationship?  If it’s love and respect, be sure you approach the issue with that in your heart.

Looking Back – AND Forward

Today, as I do each year at this time, I made time to look back on the past year with love, gratitude and forgiveness.  For me, this is so important, so I can move on – evolving and growing in the year ahead. A huge part of that is always looking at the lessons I’ve learned from my clients, friends and family.

As I look back with love, I am not only grateful for the presence of each of you in my life, but for what you (along with the situations in which I have put myself) have taught me.  I am struck with immense gratitude for the work I do.  How fortunate I am to be in a position to connect with others who are courageous enough to want to face their challenges head on!  It gives me the opportunity to be an intimate part of that journey, to see their progress and celebrate their successes and to sit with them in their pain.  I am always deeply honored that these people chose me to be there with them, and I’m inspired by their willingness and ability to change.  It gives me joy to be able to do what little I can to help, and it also affords a perspective that elicits so many insights into my own issues and relationships.

I send love and gratitude to each of you who have been my clients this year.

As I look back with gratitude, I also examine the challenges I faced personally this past year.  I continued to manage a life-changing diagnosis from the prior year that not only knocked me off my feet for a while, but also rocked my self-concept as the physically and emotionally healthy person I had always considered myself to be. While I still get “flare-ups” occasionally, they are extremely minor, and I am so grateful for the medical and spiritual team I have gathered to coach me through this personal healing.

Another challenge recently, has been some constant physical pain – something that has never been an issue for me.  I understand that, just like the emotional upheavals, this is part of my life path, and there is a gem of wisdom somewhere that I need to experience.  So far, I can see how much more compassion I feel for those with chronic pain, and how grateful for those times I can find a little relief from my own pain.

Forgiving others is a gift to ourselves.  My husband and I continue to experience a loss that involves others who obviously see the world from a totally different perspective than ours.  While I have always sent love to those who are my biggest source of pain, this situation continues to penetrate a new level of understanding that I want to approach each decision I make from a place of love, and compassion.  Forgiveness is a process, and I am navigating that road.  At times, I think I’ve reached my destination, only to slip back a step or two when something else hits.  But a part of this journey is also forgiving myself for not measuring up to my own expectation.  If I do what I can in this moment, I will be propelled forward and there will be love and light at the end of the tunnel.

Love is the answer to all our problems.  So I send loving thoughts to each of you, and to those who won’t be reading this, but have been a part of my life in any capacity this year.  There is no such thing as a justified resentment.  I release those I’ve held, and look forward to spreading light in the new year.

I wish each of you love, gratitude, forgiveness – and peace.