I’ve struggled for most of my life with self-destructive behaviors, bad attitudes, and I couldn’t figure out why these things kept happening to me. I estranged myself from my family, I got divorced from bad relationships that I’d picked. I just couldn’t find that peace of mind that everyone else seemed to have. About 15 years ago, I realized it was my own doing. I know, right? Who knew?
I began to seek out a different way of doing things, a different way of thinking because what I was doing and thinking were clearly not working. Using my rather unique experiences as a springboard, I read, talked, shared, took in, observed, and processed how other people lived happy lives. Since I was seeking clarity in my life, this made sense to me. This gave me an understanding of how my life works. But, how does one find clarity in the chaos of difficulties that arise in daily life?
1. Ask for help: “Refusing to ask for help when you need it is refusing someone the chance to be helpful.” –Ric Ocasek
It is difficult to believe that someone else has dealt with the same or similar issue that you are going through right now. But one of the keys to being human is understanding that you are not alone. Although the problem you’re facing may seem overwhelming, someone, somewhere has gotten through the same thing. Seek their guidance and wisdom by simply asking how they did it. Take what applies from their experience and use that tool to accomplish your own success in handling the issue.
2. Help Others: “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.” –Sai Baba
What you give you receive. If you’re helping others to become better in their lives, improve their situation, be more productive and you’re doing it with love in your heart, the love that you gave returns and returns and returns. It can’t help it. When love is present in a giving heart, the return rate to the giver is exponential. It doesn’t just stop at the act of giving, it gets paid forward. It spreads more love and encourages others to give as well.
3. Meditate: “If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. It means to think of something over and over.” –Joyce Meyer
This term is used frequently, but how and what do you do? Inside all of us is a place that is silent. A place filled with nothing but your own experiences, thoughts, actions, and yet it’s filled with nothing. It is the place where your inner voice speaks loudest. In order to find that place of peace within yourself, you must first seek it. Sit in a quiet room with soft music playing. New age music helps me. Focus on your breathing. When you breathe in, breathe in peace. When you breathe out, breathe out love. Be patient and wait. Thoughts will spill through your mind with the “Woulda, coulda, shouldas.” Let those pass. at the right time, the thoughts will ease and settle. The silent place within allows focus on the issue at hand. You may hear wild voices pushing you to act, but I’ve learned “When in doubt, wait it out.” The silence within will offer your own wisdom and guidance and it’s comforting to hear the voice of reason from within your own mind.
4. Look for Omens: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” –William Shakespeare
Find the things that strike chords in your spirit. Things that resonate when you see, feel, or think of them. They are easy to miss if they aren’t being looked for. Sometimes the messages will be a well-placed and very obvious sign that points your way. Sometimes it’s hidden in plain sight but gets overlooked because it couldn’t possibly be that easy. Maybe a friend will call just when you need them to and they have an opportunity you hadn’t considered or you’ll see something that makes you want to act because it strikes deeply within your spirit. If you listen, you will hear and see them. They are everywhere and they wish you nothing but the best.
5. Adjust your Focus: “Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving towards something.” -Ralph Marston
Some days are just bad days. Whatever the catastrophe, it’s very easy to be inundated with “why me?” Shift your focus. Instead of bemoaning the negatives, look for the blessings offered. Waking up earlier than planned allows extra time for replenishment. Every cloud has a silver lining if you look for it. When you focus on finding that silver lining, attitudes begin to shift. When attitudes begin to shift, the Universe says, “Oh! You want more positive, here you go!”
What you spend your time focusing on is what will be attracted to you. For example if you profess that you hate your life, your attitude will reflect more negativity. This will send the message that you like the situation and the Universe will continue sending it to you. The Universe doesn’t understand hate. “I don’t want this to happen.” The Universe, again, has no knowledge of don’t. It hears “I want this to happen.” It responds to the negative thoughts with what it hears. If you say, for example, “I love my life,” The Universe hears this and responds accordingly.
6. Be Grateful: “Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” –Paulo Coelho
Similar to the Universe responding to your positive energy, is the act of being grateful. Small things, big things, in-between things, all await your gratitude. Grateful hearts attract more things (not necessarily material goods) to be grateful for simply by refocusing from complaining to changing. People who live by the law of gratefulness live a happier life because they’re not seeing only the negative of a situation. If you are looking for reasons to be grateful and you will find them.
7. Be joyful: “There’s no destination. The journey is all there is, and it can be very, very joyful.” –Srikumar Rao
Do things that bring you joy. If you feel happy dancing, dance. If you feel happy writing, write. If you feel happy working numbers in an accounting book, do that. Whatever brings you joy is the path you should be following not because you are told, but because it’s where your bliss lay waiting. Ask people what they wanted to be when they grew up. The majority will not be anywhere near the field they first imagined as a child. As an adult, it is easy to be sucked into the responsibilities that are necessary for our own survival as well as of those we love. In the meantime, that responsibility, when not balanced with our personal joyfulness, becomes a yoke that can become unbearable. Seek joy and balance in everything you do and that unwanted yoke all but disappears.
8. Remember to take care of yourself: “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.” -George Bernard Shaw
There is such a thing as being too polite, becoming a doormat when it comes to dealing with other people. It’s one thing to take into consideration the feelings and opinions of others, but it’s an entirely different beast when what they want goes against what you need for yourself. By allowing someone else’s wants and needs to supersede your own, you give away a piece of your personal power. It’s okay to say, “I want…” “I need.” By maintaining those ideas, a healthy compromise can be reached. A favorite saying of mine is, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s a favorite because it is a reminder that your opinions, wants, needs, and objectives not only have merit but also have value.
As my behaviors shifted from self-destruction to self-construction, my attitudes have gained a stronger perspective towards positive living. My world has become a more beautiful place to live.
The results of a daily practice, applying what I have learned has allowed: Reparations with my family, a happy marriage, and a joyful, giving of love and time to others while maintaining balance in nearly every aspect of my life. There are still cobwebs that need to be cleared, but as my vision expands to include wonder, awe, and amazement of the world around me, I can’t help but think just how lucky I really am as well as how much my hard work has paid off.
In a complicated world clarity can seem illusive at best. How does one gain and maintain a clear vision? In order to fully understand the big picture one must be able to see the object wholly, from all sides. The size of the object determines the distance the viewer must go in order to gain perspective.
Think of life as a kaliedescope. Contained within a single cylinder is a collection of beads, crystals, and sparkles. These bright bits are the celestial pieces that make up your very being — the personality that defines you. Surrounding this magical collection, are three mirrors. These three mirrors reflect your relationship to yourelf, others, and your environment. From a distance, the viewer has the ability to see things in 5D: the original components, each individual mirror, and finally, the collective image. As the cylinder is put through a serious of revolutions, the images reflected change while the components remain the same. Different patterns emerge, some more appealing than others. This leads one to ask, how do you build a kaliedeskope that produces lovely images no matter which way it is turned? The answer is simpler than you might have expected.
First, ask yourself this simple question: What makes you happy? Is it pearls of wisdom, sparkles of laughter, or crystal clear intentions? What are all of the shiny bits of self you want to embrace? Nurture these areas, Polish them with your intention, make them bright and colorful. Focus on gratitude, your dreams, and taking action.
Second, maintain your cylinder. These containers come in a variety of colors, sizes, and designs, but the one thing they all have in common is their ability to stand tall and be supportive.
Third, select your mirrors thoughtfully! Remember these tools are supposed to reflect the areas you wish to cultivate. Pick one that’s scratched, foggy, chipped, or broken and it will dominate your image.
Once your materials are collected, fill your cylinder with the beauty you have lovingly gathered. Gently ease the three mirrors together, aligning the edges of self, work, and environment around your sparkling personality.
As the viewer, focus your attention on what matters most. This way as the world turns, your shifting priorities will always be a delight to the senses. Each new turn will bring a dramatic evolution of unique patterns and an everlasting sense of beauty.
“Communication is SO key.” –the great social philosopher and former Disney star, Ashley Tisdale.
Human communication, or how we use our verbal messages (language) and non-verbal actions, is very powerful. Yet, like fish missing water, most people take communication for granted, assuming that possession of ears and a working mouth is all that is needed for successful communication. Or more dangerously, we progress through our communication landscape mindlessly like bulls in a precious china shop, leaving devastation in our wake. Communication mistakes are easy to make and can be personally, interpersonally, and professionally costly.
The messages we send are the spells we use to create or destroy the reality we experience. It is our communication to ourselves that empowers or disempowers us; making communication critical to our personal well-being. Many metaphysical techniques rely on positive communication and the power of words to accomplish great energetic shifts in our lives. Communication is the social currency that we use to initiate and manage all of our relationships. Anyone who has said something cruel or thoughtless in a relationship knows how destructive a simple string of a few words can be. Words, if used mindfully and ethically, can be the fertile soil for love to bloom. Yet using a negative word is like throwing a grenade into the shelter of your love, potentially causing irreparable damage. Research done by John Gottman and colleagues finds that for every ONE negative comment you make in a relationship, FIVE positive comments are required just to balance things out! It is so easy to destroy something so precious that you have to work extra hard to repair the situation. Understanding how to manage interpersonal communication will improve your chances of having satisfying and healthy friendships, romantic relationships, and families.
Communication is also the vehicle we use to navigate our interactions at work. Try holding onto a job if you are difficult to get along with or careless in your communication. Communication is the ticket we have to participation in the public sphere. It is through communication that we influence others and the world around us. Critical thinking, informed citizens, and civil discourse are the ways that we will have a chance to solve the looming problems that threaten our society.
Fortunately, the interdisciplinary field of communication studies (generating its own theory and also pulling theory into communication contexts from English, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and Rhetoric) offers a vast body of literature on human communication and what it takes to be communicatively competent. Where there is communication occurring, there is often some communication researcher studying it. Sometimes in surprising ways, what we assume to be true about how communication functions does not match what is found in the research, so it is good to check the data instead of just relying on stereotypes. Spiritual traditions and metaphysical thought systems also address the ethical and authentic use of communication, and can provide a higher level of understanding to complement modern social scientific findings.
In this regular column on the Anjana Network, I will provide quick communication tutorials that you can apply to your everyday interactions. My approach to communication is deeply rooted in social scientific research, with an occasional metaphysical twist! Communication is just a series of neutral tools; it is up to us to use communication wisely. And it is through knowledge based on research and the writings of spiritual thought leaders that we can make wise and strategic decision to use the magic of communication to create the personal, interpersonal, and public lives that manifest our dreams.
It is interesting that you should ask about this cup. It is not clean and new like the others. Why would want it with its cracks, chips, and stains?
This cup does have a story. This cup has known me, as I have know it – intimately, and it is ever full.
When dreams abounded with the fervor of youth, this cup saw it all and fed my spirit with sweet nectar.
Through long cold winters, I clung to this cup for warmth.
Through pleasure and pain, I kissed this cup deeply a million times and filled it with my tears.
I would sit with the warmth of the morning sun on gently pressed eyelids and dream as I sipped my tea, its sweet mist in my nose, warmth on my fingertips. This cup is ever full.
Through long, sleepless nights with crying babies I curled up with this cup and dozed with it in my grasp, cradled like a twin. Through home foundations built strong and steady, through bright sunny days and storms weathered, this cup was there providing comfort.
This cup is ever full.
Even through the deep pain of horror and tragedy, this cup remained. Chipped and forever smudged by the loss, I held it fast. Though the tea turned cold and bitter, this cup is ever full.
In spite of circumstances, I held this cup tight in my grasp. Now I long to taste sweetness again and this cup will no longer hold the tea that warms me.
It remains cold, yet is ever full.
No… I don’t think I should sell this cup
It is too full.
It must be smashed,
“A Woman’s issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness. No, that is what has already caused millions of women who began as strong and natural powers to become outsiders in their own cultures.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
Women are the bearers of untamable divinity. When we place the soles of our feet upon the holy ground of Mother Earth, we open to a special feminine language. We pierce the mundane with every step we take, as the rest of the world’s rubber soles tread unaware. The spiritual woman’s path is the pendulum sway of voluptuous hips in accord with the myriad rhythms of time.
The frightening beauty of the unkempt wildness of woman is what we all want so desperately to emerge. We need our deepest aspects understood, loved, heard, and honored through a reverence that extends beyond the frivolities of diluted awareness. The pique of woman is not the heart-stopping deliciousness of form and fairness that empowers her. Everyone who has tasted the nectar of a woman knows that the ambrosia that enlivens the tongue and opens the mind is only a pathway beyond temporal stimuli into the birth of ultimate reality.
For a woman to be complete she must be able to dance naked around a fire under the watch of a ripened full moon. She must expel the tender sweetness of sexual delight. She must be unhinged in order to create. Women wear the veil to the unseen, unknowable world with every creative act, lifting it as we see fit. Our bodies are heavenly hosts of the soul song that has the power to resurrect the dead and ignite evolution.
It can be smothering to be a woman of our modern age. We have so much to prove, while we work to disprove our own fallacies, myths of our weakness. We must be results oriented in order to convey we are worthy in a world with little feminine fluency. We water down the mysterious power that cannot be contained, nor fully understood, thus diminishing our brilliance. We wish to express ourselves in the fullness of our intuition, embark on life-changing spiritual journeys, partake in sacred circles and let the rain baptize our torn hearts.
Ultimately, we need to restore ourselves back to vibrancy every single day.
We require solitude from the distracting noise of a million unheard voices that call upon the divine mother. The petitioners perhaps never realize that their mythic vision defies reality. The transcendent magic of the poorest woman enables her to hear every prayer uttered. It is the letdown of her spiritual milk.
It is no wonder we have been silenced. We have been blindfolded, led to believe we must not accept compliment or accolade. We have been forced into the back of a world built on a foundation of insecurity, competition and supremacy.
Relationship structures have been recreated for women to submit themselves to their men, their most important aspects compromised so as to empower and simultaneously pacify their partners into unnatural comfort. How else could the wrath of Kali be contained? Who wouldn’t want to seek refuge in the arms of Mother Mary?
The world needs the unfettered woman now more than ever. The maidens need to learn compassion and grace from their mothers. Mothers need to diligently learn the ways of truth from the crone. The crones must use their aged eyes to look into the mysterious future while foraging the bones of our ancestors to once again, bring ancient wisdom back to life.
We must look to the divine feminine to help us from selling our souls for superficial ideas of enlightenment. We must do the fearful work it takes to reach our sacred inner fountain. We must be diligent, responsible and committed to our personal truth.
The world is a very frightening place when we cannot live our truth. Living a lie gives us the burden of too much to remember. So many costume changes must go off without a hitch, and too many people have to be pleased. When we are liars we are bound at our delicate wrists to the outside world’s view of a depiction of us. But we women have mastered the art of costuming in order to survive. How can we break away?
:: Soul Retrieval: For the seer, the shaman, and the priestess, soul retrieval is the act of recalling the lost parts of oneself across the reaches of space-time. The process begins with the understanding that we are complex, multi-dimensional beings with the power to transform energy on sight. We look to heal ourselves by reaching into the past and offering forgiveness to self and others, defeating the illusion of fear through positive action, and letting our love flow freely in those areas. It is a journey into the vast desert of the forgotten self and adding flesh to neglected bones. This is a practice that every spiritual woman must explore with a sense of full presence so that her truth may be used as a return path.
:: Embrace Sacred Solitude: Solitude is the art of spending time alone, by choice, and enjoying it. In sacred solitude, you have no gods to appease. You have no censorship. It is the creative realm where you discover new truths, rediscover evolving truths, and heal from the demands of the world. It is a place to learn self love. Creating a personal space for retreat is essential for women. We need a place to empty our hearts and bare our souls without fear of judgment or rejection. Start with creating a space in your mind that you encrypt from negative thoughts, to-do lists, and responsibilities to everyone else. Then build your sanctuary in your home. Even if it is the smallest corner, it is your pristine part of the universe.
:: Create: Women are natural creators. Whatever medium you choose, take time to create something. Take a moment to close your eyes and tap into the Goddess within the containment of your body. Feel the pressure of every word unexpressed, every desire you have wished. We have mastered the task of quietness to be acceptable in a conformist society. Is what you don’t say your authentic nature? What is your authentic voice? How does it sound? If you could say just three words what would they be? Reject the acceptable form. Untie the corset, take off the control tops, unhook the bra, and spend time stark naked in your soft, creative energy. You have the right and the power to do so. The world needs the call of the mountain woman, the haunting sirens song, and the stroke of heartfelt truth that only you can give.
While trying on clothes at a retail store lately, this point was dramatically displayed in the stall next to mine.
A beautiful, physically fit woman in her early fifties was talking with her younger counterpart – a woman in her early twenties. “Oh, if only I could lose five more pounds,” she said pensively. She stared at her washboard abs sadly. “Men only like skinny women.”
I wanted to come leaping out of my stall grab her by the shoulders and have a heart to heart. I wanted to say “Darling, you are perfect and beautiful. If you have not found a man that has fallen in love with your soul, keep looking!”
Moving to a second store, I was surprised to run into the same two women in the dressing room. Again, the conversation turned to a diatribe of self loathing. This time the young woman piped up replying “You are beautiful. You have a womanly body ripe with curves.”
I wanted to applaud.
YES! Be grateful for your body, it is your temple. Your physical form is the sanctuary that houses your soul. Surround yourselves with worshipers who will delight in your presence. It is time that we love and respect ourselves, especially while on the road to self improvement. Be your own source of encouragement.
When it comes time to selecting your mate, choose when you are at the height of your self esteem. Choose someone who reflects you at your best. True self esteem is connected to your core, not the superficial. Self-acceptance comes from truly looking at yourself, even the shadow-self, forgiving and embracing it all with love.
When I am asked why I am still single, I am quick to reply with a smile. “I believe I will find someone when I am at the height of my self esteem. Apparently there’s still a little room for improvement!” This usually catches people off guard at first, but after my truth resonates with them they say “WOW, I really like that. You are so positive and happy!”
YES! Yes I am!
The journey of self discovery is amazing and I am happily counting my blessings. In fact, I think more people would be happy if they did just that.
Count your blessings. Life is a wonderful experience and I promise when you leave this plane, no one that loves you will notice if you take an extra five pounds with you. They will, however remember how you felt about yourself. They will remember if you were happy or if you were critical.
This Valentine’s Day we honor four celebrity couples that have not only stood the test of time, but can teach us a thing or two about relationships.
“May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” ~ Mother Teresa
With all the saber-rattling and omnipresent war talk, the horror of gassing women and small children, the shooting deaths that have become as commonplace as dandelions, the news stories of dead rivers and dying towns, the burning of Yosemite, the dolphins staining the waters of Taiji blood red, the leaking radiation at Fukushima, and the blue fin tuna that now glow in the dark as a result, it is difficult not to feel despair.
The list of mistakes and mishaps resulting from humanity’s gross negligence goes on and on.
Sometimes, I want to hang my head and cry. I wonder about our seemingly endless capacity for creating monstrous problems, problems that seem insurmountable, intractable, and well, impossible to solve. How can we feel hope, grace, kindness or love in the face of such unspeakable horror?
We have to.
We must maintain hope. We must. We cannot cave into despair and complacency.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
For the past twenty-eight years, morning and evening, I pray. I pray to take responsibility for my life and to go out into the world and help others. I pray to see myself clearly and to alleviate my own suffering so I can assist others in doing the same thing. I pray to see my life through a lens of possibility and joy, rather than through a gray fog of despair or hopelessness.
When I started my Buddhist practice, I didn’t believe it would actually work to alleviate my agony. A friend at the time challenged me to just, “Try it for a month.”
Why not give it a go?
He promised, “If it doesn’t work, I will never bother you again.” So, off I went. I started my practice, morning and evening. And within a week, my life changed.
PRAYING FOR PEACE
These days, I could occupy all of my time focused on the tide of sad, terrifying news that washes into our homes and computers every day. However, there’s no point in turning my prayer toward that nightmare.
Instead, I must pray for the peace I want to see bloom. That is my personal antidote to any war I see being planned.
I must add my voice to the energetic and angelic call for no more war, ever. No more broken men and women returning from the horror of war. No more post-traumatic stress disorder. No more wounded warriors. No more homeless veterans. No more lining the pockets of the rich while stealing the very lives of the poor.
WHAT CAN I DO?
When my mom and I talked this morning, she told me that she took action to help people in her community to avoid obsessing over the state of things that are beyond her control. “I took a box of food over to the homeless people in Nicklesville (a former tent city in Seattle). I felt like that was the best thing I could do. Help someone here and now.”
It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of the challenges we have in front of us. It is easy to throw your hands up and fall into numbness and lethargy. But I beg you not to do that. Think about the one thing you can affect. Think about the one person you can call. Think about the person you still need to thank. Think about how you can encourage one person. Today. If you are suffering, help someone else. If an avalanche of despair covers you, find a way, find some way to say, “Thank you universe (higher power, God, Goddess) for even this.”
Even this dark moment in human history can open a door.
Even this day where everything around you feels like noxious fumes, choking the life out of you, even then, there is something to be grateful for, something to celebrate, something to hold onto.
FOR THESE THINGS I GIVE THANKS.
As long as you breathe, you can change your life. And if you change your life, you will impact those around you. And If those around you see you changing, they will realize they, too, can change. And the people around them will notice a small crack of light shining into their lives. And the people those people know will notice that soft light. And pretty soon, there is something numinous, something aglow, something shifting everywhere along the route that your light travels.
We are each light-workers, healers, teachers and scribes. Our sense of gratitude for each breath, for each meal, for each moment we have, is our prayer.
If we can simply remember that, everything can change. Everything.