“We need a great deal of courage to challenge our own beliefs. Because even if we know we didn’t choose all these beliefs, it is also true that we agreed to all of them.”
~ don Miguel Ruiz
I recently taught a four-week meditation class based on the book The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. Over the next weeks, I am going to share some of the key points, from the book, in this blog. If you haven't read this book or haven't read it in a while, I highly recommend reading it and adopting the agreements. Ruiz is a master in the Toltec tradition and he shares powerful teachings from the Toltec Wisdom.
One of the first concepts that impacted me was the belief that humans are domesticated just like dogs and cats. As children, we did not have a choice in what to believe. We learned the rules we had to follow based on our culture, society, parents, teachers and adults in our life. We were punished if we did not follow the rules and we were rewarded when we followed them. I learned to please others so that I would be praised and accepted and did not break the rules for fear of being disciplined or judged unworthy. I became so well-domesticated that I no longer needed the adults in my life to punish me. I did a great job of beating myself up and chastising myself for any misdeed I committed. Ruiz calls these beliefs the ‘Book of Law’ and we each have our own set of rules that differs from everyone else. I judge myself and others based on my Book of Law, which causes serious problems because everyone is playing from a different set of rules.
One idea that affected me the most was the fact that I didn’t have a choice about the rules when I was a child. But, now as an adult, I can take time to examine the rules and see what I accept and what no longer serves me. I want to live a life of joy and fulfillment, therefore, I have found the courage to break the agreements that are fear-based and claim my personal power. I will be authentic and no longer say or do things from the perspective of pleasing others. I know from within that I am lovable, worthy and good enough and I no longer will seek approval from others. This isn’t easy and is a work in progress, but awareness is crucial for the transformation.
The Four Agreements will be discussed in future blogs. The agreements are:
During our domestication process, we learned the rules to be a “good girl” or a “good boy.” What were the rules in your house for being “good?” What did your caregivers consider "bad?"
What agreements do you need to break that are fear-based and claim your personal power?
“Don't be shy about asking for help. It doesn't mean you're weak, it only means you're wise.” ~anonymous
Somewhere early on in life, I learned that it was a sign of weakness to ask for help. I am not sure where I learned that silly rule or why I followed it for so long, but I believed the social norm to never ask for help and tried to do it all by myself. I did everything I possibly could and then went above and beyond because I believed I had to give 110% to be successful. I didn’t dare delegate anything as I thought that would be a sign of weakness due to the fact that I was asking others to do something I couldn’t do, plus I was a control freak. When my back was hurting or my arthritic knees were bothering me, I still moved the furniture, crawled on the floor to get to the computer cables and carried the boxes. I cared more about what others thought of me than I cared about my physical and emotional well-being.
Luckily, as I got wiser, I learned that asking for help was beneficial to everyone. By asking for help, I was involving others in the tasks and the outcomes were usually superior because more minds were involved in finding the best solution for the job. I wasn’t as tired because I wasn’t doing it all myself, so I had more to offer others. I was taking care of my body and listening to what it was capable of doing and not injuring myself.
It took a lot of courage to initially start asking others for help. Now, I see that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I help others, others help me, and I express my deep gratitude for all the help I receive! It is so important to lend a helping hand to those in need and to feel comfortable to ask for help when you are in need!
How do you view asking for help? Is it easier to offer assistance then to ask for help?
Do you ask for help? Why or Why Not?
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~ Louise Hay
Does the critic inside your head tell yourself things like “I’m a moron,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” or a host of other negative thoughts? If it does, you are not alone, as we all seem to have an internal judge who is critical of us and our actions.
I am really working on not judging myself, letting go of the inner critic and practicing self-acceptance, but it is on-going practice. For the last several weeks I have been learning a new skill. When we do something new, we will make mistakes and we must be gentle with ourselves. I was learning about astrophotography and creating star trails. To create a star trail image, you take hundreds of pictures on a tripod of the same part of the sky over several hours and combine them all into one photograph as each photograph captures the movement of the stars. Each night I would try different ISO settings, shutter speeds, white balance settings and a variety of other settings so that I could be most successful during the photo shoot at Oracle State Park under a new moon.
One early morning, I went out to retrieve the camera from the backyard and was expecting to see that the camera had taken 400 pictures only to discover that it had just taken a few images – I had forgotten to change the battery. My inner critic said, “You are such a moron!” I immediately was aware of the inner critic and said to myself, “you just got out of bed and are not totally awake. You made a mistake, it isn’t critical in the big scheme of life. What can you learn from this mistake?” In a matter of seconds, I stopped the inner critic and reframed the situation. The mistake was actually a blessing. With the mistake, I learned that I need to make sure that my batteries are fully charged, but it also got me thinking about how old the rechargeable lithium camera batteries were and I ordered a new one. When the new one arrived, I learned that instead of the battery running out after 400 images, that it could take 650 images on a battery charge and therefore get more images for my star trail. The mistake I made helped me to capture an even better star trail photograph during the actual photo shoot. The star trail image from the new moon is the picture above and the parts that look like clouds are actually the Milky Way. I am so grateful that I learned from my mistake!
It is important to silence the critic in ourselves. We can do this by practicing love and compassion towards ourselves. If you find yourself being critical, stop and appreciate yourself for all you do and all that you are, and send yourself love. If you made a mistake, ask what you can learn from the mistake and how you can rectify what has been done. Be gentle with yourself, try treating yourself with compassion as you would treat a young child who made a mistake. If beating yourself up hasn’t worked over the years, try self-love and approval.
How do you deal with the inner critic?
How can you send yourself more love and approval when your inner critic arises?
“Enlightenment comes when we realize happiness is a choice, sadness is a choice, anger is a choice, love is a choice. Every state, emotion, and mood available to Man can be generated at will in our mind.” ~ Brendon Burchard
Challenges happen to everyone in life. If you truly look around, everyone has challenges in life – no one is immune. We want to be happy and we have these thoughts about what will make us happy and these thoughts tend to be in the future. We believe we will be happy when we make X amount of money, when we marry Mr. or Mrs. Right, when we have children, when we retire, or any other number of other ‘when this happens’ scenarios. But the truth is there is only now and the only time to be happy is now and you are the only person who can make yourself happy – because happiness comes from within and it is a choice.
Brendon Burchard points outs that we have a choice how to react to all situations: we can choose happiness, anger, sadness or love. The biggest gift I have learned in life is that things don’t happen to me – it is simpler than that – things happen. I get to choose my response and I choose to learn from life’s challenges and be happy for the opportunity to learn. Being angry and upset only breeds more negative energy and it makes the situation worse and causes suffering. The sooner I let go and move on, the better off I am physically, mentally and spiritually. I choose to let go of blaming others and live from a place of peace and happiness. Each time I let go, I get a little lighter on the road to enlightenment.
Are you happy?
What can you do to bring more happiness into your life?
“These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nature is our greatest teacher. The above quote by Emerson reminds us about mindfulness and living in the present moment. The rose can teach us how to live. The bud doesn’t worry about the future and what is life is going to be like when it blooms. The bloom doesn’t fret about the future and what will happen when it dies. And the leaf-less plant doesn’t regret the mistakes made during its lifetime.
We should live our life more like the rose. Enjoy today, and this moment, for it is all we have. If we are a bud, embrace the stage and all it has to offer. The rose doesn’t compare itself to other roses. It doesn’t say, "when I bloom, then life will be better" or worry about the mistakes it made as a bud. If we are in full bloom, then enjoy today with your family and friends. Don’t worry about wrinkles, looking younger or what might happen in the future. The rose doesn’t complain about the rain, the sun or the wind, it accepts the present moment. Make the most of the sun in your life and enjoy the rain and all life has to offer. Accept whatever happens in your life and move with the winds of life as the rose moves with the wind. The rose doesn’t resist the wind and do everything in its power to stand tall, it dances with the wind. You will have many things happen in your life – you get to choose to go with the flow or resist. Life is a gift, make each day precious!
Emerson shares that the rose was living in the present moment, it has no past or no future. Man postpones or laments the past and misses the richness of his life.
What is your interpretation of Emerson's quote?
How do you relate personally to the quote?
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.” ~Dr. Seuss
After my last blog post, I shared how excited I am about having a clearly defined purpose because it helps me decide where to go. Dr. Seuss is correct that I get to choose the direction and my purpose helps me set the course. If you don’t have a clearly defined purpose, I highly recommend you read the book The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider or go to his Life Reimagined site and click on the option to Create Your Purpose Statement. The site is free.
The first thing you will do on the Life Reimagined site is select from a list of things you are good at like creating things, instructing people, empowering others or researching things. Next, you decide on the passions that inspire you like the outdoors, the arts, education, making things or your well-being. Then you determine the values that you feel most strongly about like compassion, relationships, health, curiosity or spirituality. Finally, you decide on the things you want to focus on in life including wanting to be healthy, have more peace in your life, being challenged, fulfilled or a multitude of other things. The lists of choices in the program are quite extensive. After you make your initial selections, you narrow down to your top three in each category and you end up with a purpose statement. The purpose statement the program created for me, based on my answers, was “I want to use my gifts for Creating Things, Awakening Spirit and Writing Things and passions for Outdoors, Education and The Arts to create an impact on Personal Growth, My Friends and My Spiritual Group because I value Spirituality, Relationships and Health. This will help me to Be present, Be creative and Be purpose-driven.”
That purpose statement really does sum up my beliefs and intentions, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue for me, nor was it easy for me to remember. But, I used the ideas and concepts from the book and website to create an easy to remember purpose statement that drives me. To sum everything up in a few words, I determined that my purpose is for personal growth to positively impact others. I can use that purpose statement to make decisions. I can ask myself if an activity or event will help me with my intention for personal growth or will make a positive impact on others. I am a person who uses name mnemonics to remember things. For example, as a kid in science class, I used ROY G BIV to remember the colors in the rainbow. So, I decided to create a mnemonic for the words I chose from the Life Reimagined website as part of my purpose. I know that exploration and learning new things is part of my personal growth. So my mneomic for personal growth is NEW PLACES and the letters stand for:
The second part of my purpose statement is about positively impacting others. One of the things that I feel I do best in life is teach, and so I used the mneumonic TEACHER for the ways I want to impact others. The letters stand for:
So, my purpose is easy to remember: Personal growth (NEW PLACES) to positively impact others (TEACHER). The reason for sharing this with you is not because my purpose is something to emulate, because it is not. The reason for this blog is to inspire you to read great books and utilize tools on finding your purpose in a way that works for you. The important thing is to clearly delineate your purpose statement. You have unique gifts and you must determine how you will share them with others. In Richard Leider’s book The Power of Purpose, he shares research by Dr. Majid Fotuhi that shows people with a strong purpose in life protect their brain against cognitive aging and are more likely to stay sharp in their seventies and eighties. Take the time and effort to create a purpose statement so you can have a meaningful life, share your gifts and make an impact on your world. I can't wait to hear about the Places You'll Go with a clearly defined purpose!
Today is your day, how do you choose where to go and what to do?
If you have a purpose, what is it? If you don't have a purpose, what will you do to create one?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every day prior to meditation, I ask the four soul questions:
Recently, I was watching a Pinkcast by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Pink. Daniel Pink shares information on a variety of topics in a video that is about one minute in length and it usually impacts my life. He was interviewing Richard Leider and the topic was Discover Your Purpose (in one minute) With the Napkin Test. Okay I thought, I want to know my purpose and if I can l learn it in a minute that would be awesome. I didn’t establish my purpose in a minute, but after reading Leider's book The Power of Purpose 3rd edition, answering the questions on the site Life Reimagined (it's free) and spending time in silence and stillness, I established a purpose statement that I am excited about and will provide direction and help me decide what to say Hell Yes to in my life (another Pinkcast).
In the Napkin test you reflect on the question, “What gets you up in the morning?” This was a powerful question for me, as I had never looked at my purpose from that perspective. But, I realized the answer for me was creativity. I love being creative and I am fully engaged when I am writing a lesson plan that inspires others, painting a picture that evokes emotions, writing a blog that empowers readers on their own path, capturing an image with a camera and artistically manipulating it to tell a story or ingeniously arranging the letters to make a word on a Scrabble board. I lose track of time when I am in the creative realm. This is my gift. Your gift will probably not be creativity. But, I encourage you to spend some quiet time reflecting on what gets you up in the morning, and list your gifts, passions, and values.
The next crucial part of the purpose statement is how you use your gift to serve others. This is probably the part that I struggled the most with because I was under a false belief that I needed to serve others in a much larger magnitude than is the actual reality. The overachiever in me sees people with a purpose like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Buddha and I know that my life and actions don’t compare. But, I realized it is not about comparing myself to others, but doing the best I can with my unique talents to impact others. I do have gifts and I do share them in my own distinctive way with the people in my life. People call me and email me asking for advice. I offer meditation classes in a safe and nurturing space. I write a blog and share my mistakes and learning’s for others to learn from and apply to their life, I create artwork and photographs that bring joy. My work might not be on the scale of Mother Teresa, but to those people that I impact, it makes a difference to them. It is like the Starfish parable where after a storm a boy is throwing starfish back into the ocean before the sun comes up and kills them and a man tells him that there are thousands of stranded starfish and that he won’t make a difference. The boy picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea and says, “I made a difference to that one.” We each have a gift and if we share it with others, we will make a difference to those whose lives we touch. Leider tells us that the default purpose is to Grow and Give. May you grow each day and give your gifts to others and live your purpose!
What gets you up in the morning?
How do you share your gifts and passions with others?
“Our spirit has an instinct for silence. Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe.” ~ Anne D. LeClaire
April is the month that I nurture my soul through extended meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, spiritual reading, and coming to the silence within. It is during these times of silence that I actually hear more. Yes, I hear the sounds of nature, birds chirping, the wind, traffic in the distance, but it goes beyond the auditory sounds, as I hear my inner guru and intuition. Once I let go of the busyness of everyday life and slow down, I connect to a deeper wisdom.
Just the other day, I was on a walk and I heard the inner voice that said to stop and take a picture of the grasses on the side of the road. These grasses weren’t anything special; they were just a small clump surrounded by dirt and rocks. During my normal daily life, I either wouldn’t have heard the inner voice or I would have ignored it thinking I need to get home and accomplish the things on my To Do list. But, when I come from this place of stillness and silence, I choose to listen to the voice and so I sat on the ground and got stickers in my butt and then saw that the sun was magnificently shining through the grasses and I captured the photo pictured at the top of the blog. On another walk, I heeded the call to go in front of a furniture store and there was this glorious flower that I had never seen before and I photographed it. Then I took my camera out during my journaling time in the backyard and one of my power animals, the hummingbird, came to a nearby flower and I was able to catch it on film (okay the cloud). In addition to taking photographs of the hummingbirds, I just sat, watched and experienced them. One of the things I had never noticed before were their amazing tiny little claws. Just slowing down and observing nature brings me to state of peace and clarity.
You might say, “Who cares about getting the message about what picture to take,” but for me, it's those little steps that lead up to getting the answers to the bigger questions. Plus, you do actually benefit from the messages I receive, as I post the pictures on the blog. The book, A Course in Miracles tells us to be still and you will hear the answers to your questions and get guidance from a spirit greater than your own. This is true for me, as I journal and ask questions from this place of silence, I am able to receive the answers. No, I don’t hear a booming voice telling me the purpose of life. But, for example, this week I was amazed after asking to learn more about my purpose in life that I opened an email that had a link to an author I didn’t know about and when I read his book, it provided me just the wisdom and guidance I needed to hear. (Spoiler alert – the next blog will be about this amazing author and book). The answers don’t come in booming voices, but they come in many ways like emails, a flyer for a conference, a friend gives you a book or you overhear a conversation. You have to be aware to hear the answers. But the answers are there if you genuinely listen. I agree with Anne D. LeClaire that our soul yearns for stillness and when we spend time in silence we will come to a deeper sense of our self and our purpose.
Do you spend time in silence? Why or Why Not?
What happens when you spend time in silence?
How do you connect to your intuition?
“There are 30,000 days in your life. When I was 24, I realized I'm almost 9,000 days down. There are no warm-ups, no practice rounds, no reset buttons. Your biggest risk isn't failing, it's getting too comfortable. Every day, we're writing a few more words of a story. I wanted my story to be an adventure and that's made all the difference.” ~ Drew Houston
No one knows how many days we will have in life, I just want to make the most of each of the days I have. But, the key point of the above quote, for me, is to not get to comfortable; I want to always learn, try new things and grow from my mistakes. I want to make each day an adventure.
Last weekend was a good example of creating adventures. We were driving home from Tubac, Arizona and the trip could have taken an hour. But, we turned an hour drive home into a 7 hour adventure. I told my husband that I wanted to go check out Madera Canyon as we hadn’t been there in many years. It was a delightful drive and on our way back to the freeway, we saw a dirt road. We asked, “I wonder where that dirt road goes?” and we took out a map and the dirt road wasn’t on the map. So, of course we decided to see where it went. It was a breathtaking curvy narrow dirt road that provided spectacular views of the Arizona desert and grasslands. At times it was a little unnerving as we hoped we didn't encounter another vehicle on the narrow hair-pinned curve - but risks are part of what makes it an adventure. After an hour and a half we ended up on a paved road and saw a sign to a town we knew named Sonoita, so we headed there for a late lunch. We came the biggest commercial section on the one main street in town, but decided have another adventure and drive just a little further down the road and ended up at a charming restaurant called Café and had a scrumptious meal. As we were about to head home, I saw a sign for Parker Canyon Lake, and since I love water and we were open to adventures, I wanted to check it out as a possible place to camp. Again the scenery on the hour drive was spectacular and we had a wonderful time walking around the lake. Sure, I could have gotten home sooner, done the laundry, unpacked, and gone grocery shopping, but the adventure was far more worthwhile. I am so ecstatic that I avoided doing the “comfortable thing” and decided to take the road less traveled.
I will keep on making my life one big adventure. This applies to more than road trip adventures, but to daily life adventures like writing this blog, and growing spiritually and artistically. One example is that I will always take art classes and learn new techniques and push myself even when it would be easier and more comfortable to paint the way I already am successful. I watch some participants at workshops that are afraid of failing and resort back to what works for them instead of trying new things. Heck, I know that what I create at a workshop will look like crap, but it’s all about the process and learning new techniques. After the workshop, I will go home and practice and because I have the foundation from trying new things with the instructor’s assistance to correct my mistakes, I will be successful. I do not ever want to be too comfortable or complacent; I am willing to make mistakes, learn from them and grow. I don’t know where the roads of life will lead, but I am certain that I will be making each one into an adventure.
Do you ever get too comfortable with life? Are you still taking risks and making mistakes?
What was your latest adventure?
“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” ~Wayne Dyer
Spring is the time of year in Arizona where I spend a lot of time in nature and it always brings me to a state of awe. I am inspired by the beauty of nature from the blooming cactus, to the wildflowers, to the gorgeous sunsets. I can tell that many others are in awe of nature’s beauty when I see the social media sites full of pictures of spring in full bloom.
In addition to being in awe of nature, I am in awe of people and their love and compassion. I am in awe of the people who give selflessly to improve the lives of others. I am also in awe of the creativity and imagination of people. I go to art shows and galleries and I am in awe of what the artists create and how they use color, composition and values to evoke emotions in me. I go to Broadway plays and am in awe of the actors who sing, the choreographers who invent routines and dance movements and the set designers who use their creativity to bring the scene to life. There are so many people to be in awe of and appreciate everyday in life.
One of my favorite answers to the question, “How are you?” is from a Chopra Center staff member who would always respond “Awe full – full of Awe.” It would be wonderful if everyday we could all say we were “full of awe.” I think we should all follow Wayne Dyer’s daily advice of spending five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything around us. Our life is full of so many miracles and we just need to slow down, be aware, and take time to notice and appreciate everything and everyone.
Who or what brings you the greatest sense of awe?
Who or what inspires you?
“The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with life's challenges when they come. Through those challenges, an already unconscious person tends to become more deeply unconscious, and a conscious person more intensely conscious. You can use a challenge to awaken you, or you can allow it to pull you into even deeper sleep. The dream of ordinary unconsciousness then turns into a nightmare.” ~Eckhart Tolle
The dreaded E64 error appeared on my dryer after a few minutes of drying the first load of wash. Okay, I didn’t know it was dreaded until I looked the error code up on the Internet and learned that it probably means that the heating element is dead. So, now I have one load of wet clothes in the dryer and one load in the washer that has already started.
Now, I get to decide how to respond. I could bemoan the fact that appliances don’t last like they used to since this dryer is only 4 years old or I could laugh. I chose to laugh. This is what it is. I looked on the bright side, the washer was working so I could continue to do the rest of the loads of laundry and I could dry the clothes outside in the Arizona sun. It brought back childhood memories of using clothespins to dry every load of laundry on the clothesline and how the clothes smelled and felt. I decided gratitude is in order. I am fortunate to live in a location where it is going to be 88 degrees in March where many other places are cold and dreary. I am grateful to have a computer and the Internet and be able to know the issue and can make a decision of what to do next. I am grateful to have been practicing “witnessing awareness” for years, so I know that I am responsible for making the decision about how to respond to daily challenges. And finally, I didn’t have an idea for this week’s blog post and voilà– the Universe provided me the inspiration for what to write.
In the big scheme of things, this is a little bump in the road and it will be resolved in the near future. Sometimes though, it is the little things that frustrate us the most. But, I look at Eckhart Tolle’s quote above and am reminded of how different people react to challenging situations. Many people are not conscious and blame others and fall victim to the “poor me” syndrome. And this will only continue to cycle into a bigger nightmare for them. I have learned that the big challenges in my life, like my mother’s suicide and my father’s sexual abuse of me, have been challenges that awakened me and brought wonderful things to my life like art and meditation. So, when little things like a broken dryer arise, I choose to respond with gratitude for sunshine, indoor plumbing, the Internet and all of other conveniences in my life.
Are you conscious or unconscious as you deal with life’s daily challenges?
How can you become more intensely conscious in your life?
“What is a camera? A camera is an extension of ourselves. An appendage to bring us closer to the universe. We created such an instrument, because we had lost the joy of pure seeing, of connecting up the unseen and heartfelt with the seen and not heartfelt. The internal with the external.” ~ Robert Leverant
I have recently been taking a class from my friend Ron on iphonography – taking pictures with the iphone. Until this class, I really never used my phone for many pictures preferring to use my Sony and Nikon cameras. However, once I learned about some great apps for pre-editing and post-editing, I have been taking pictures with my phone daily. I really love the app Camera+ which allows me to take fabulous macro pictures (without any special lenses) and Hipstamatic that has features to change the film and lenses. After I take the pictures, I use Prisma, which provides some great filters for making the photographs more artistic. My classmate, Bill, convinced me to create an Instagram account to post and share our creations – my account name is paintingsbypeggy if you want to follow me.
However, the key point of this blog post is not about all of the great new apps (although I highly recommend them), but the fact that taking photographs has made me more aware of my world and the beauty in the environment around me. When I first started taking painting classes, I noticed and paid attention to colors – I would look at the sky and name the paint colors from my palette I could use to replicate that color. I noticed the subtleties of the hues in the mountains and the range of values in a plant, animal or object. Painting made me notice and pay attention to the splendor of the world.
The desire to take photographs with my iphone has again deepened my attention to the world. I recently went to two art workshops: one workshop was in the desert mountains and the other in downtown Tucson. In the past, I would have driven to the workshop, parked and gone to class. But this time, I noticed all of the amazing things to photograph from cactus, mountains, flowers, churches, drainage grates, baby shoes in a shopping cart to a variety of other images full of textures, colors and magnificence . I took pictures before class, after class and at lunch. I really enjoyed my surroundings so much more because I was conscious. When I went to the grocery store this week and was purchasing water from a vending machine outside, I looked up and noticed the brilliance of two palm trees blowing in the breeze. I was aware; I was conscious, I was slowing down and taking in the world. I have purchased water at that machine for 10 years and never once saw or paid attention to those palm trees. It is so important to live in the present moment and really see the things around us. A few days ago, I was listening to a lecture and outside the window I saw an amazing sculpture garden and after the lecture spent time capturing the essence of these pieces of work. I am so grateful that I am consciously paying attention and seeing the world again and appreciating it instead of rushing from one place to the next without noticing the things around me. I am fortunate to have regained the joy of pure seeing and truly connecting to the world around me. It is so important to notice what you notice!
Do you really see the world around you as you walk, drive or move through your day?
What can you do to pay attention and "notice what you notice" each day?
"The life you know is a thin layer of the events covering a deeper reality. In the deeper reality, you know absolutely who you and what your purpose is. There is no confusion or conflict with any other person on earth. Your purpose in life is to help creation expand and grow. When you look at yourself, you see only love." ~Deepak Chopra
Sunday is the Law of Pure Potentiality according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. This law is the heart of all the other laws – if you get this one right, you don’t have to worry about any of the other laws. This law is based on the fact that we are, in our central state, pure consciousness. Our essence is pure consciousness and knowing we are gives us the ability to fulfill our dreams and relationships. All relationships are the relationships with ourselves. The good news is that we are already enlightened and everybody is already perfect, the bad news is that we have forgotten and that is why we live these less than perfect lives.
This is the day I focus on self-referral instead of object referral. Self-referral means that the internal reference point is my own spirit, and not the objects of my experience. In object referral, I am influenced by objects outside of myself, constantly the seeking the approval of others. In object referral, I feel an intense need to control things and have an intense need for external power. When I have a need for approval, a need to control things and a need for external power - my needs are based on fear. But, when I experience self-referral, there is an absence of fear; there is no compulsion to control, and no struggle for approval or external power.
In object referral, the internal reference point is your ego. We must always remember that the ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants to control. And it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear. Whenever you feel powerless or fearful, it’s because you are in a state of object-referral. You define yourself through objects, which include people, situations, titles, possessions, and accomplishments. In life, those objects will change – your roles, jobs and possessions change and therefore it is not wise to define your identity and self-worth on your roles and titles. In object-referral, you feel good when your investments are escalating, your boss gives you a positive review, or your companion is happy with you. But when the market plunges, your boss criticizes you, and your relationship is challenged, you feel insecure and worried.
Self-referral is identifying with your inner self – the unchanging essence of your soul. On Sunday’s you practice this state and have an internal sense of joy regardless of what is happening around you because you aren’t identified with objects or events. In self-referral, you experience your true being, which doesn’t fear any challenge, has respect for all people, and feels beneath no one. For this day you have no compulsion to control, don’t seek approval or external power. When you are true to yourself, you are immune to criticism and your soul recognizes at its deepest level that everyone else is the same Self in different disguises.
I practice this law through meditation, spending more time in nature, practicing non-judgment of my self and others, listening more intently and finding time to be silent. The mantra for The Law of Pure Potentiality is “Om Bhavam Namaha” which translates to “I am absolute existence.” The affirmations for success are:
Do you spend most of your life coming from a place of object-referral or self-referral?
How can you practice the Law of Pure Potentiality in your life?
“Everyone has a purpose in life… a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Saturday is the Law of Dharma according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. According to this law you have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. There is something that you can do better than anyone else – and for every unique talent and unique expression of that talent, there are also unique needs. Dharma is a Sanskrit word for purpose. Our dharma shifts and changes over our lifetime as our awareness changes and it becomes the fabric of our life. When I examine my life over the years, I see that my dharma has changed many times during my life.
To begin to determine your dharma, you should make a list of all your talents and the things you like to do. This list is about what you believe about yourself and not what others like your parents, siblings, spouses and friends think is your purpose. Your dharma doesn’t have to be illustrious like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa. You can be a great cook, listener, musician, caregiver, teacher, gardener, artist, comedian, mechanic, photographer, parent, or whatever you love to do. Ask yourself. “What to you do where I lose track of time and am in the flow?” and this is probably your dharma. When I paint or make a lesson plan, I get lost in the creative endeavor and when I look at the time I realize that hours have gone by on the clock. Currently, my dharma is being an artist and meditation instructor. I also think that part of my dharma is to spread happiness, so I try to bring a smile to as many people as I can, even those I don’t know, when I am out in the world.
The key thing about expressing your dharma is that your ego is not involved. Asking “What’s in it for me” is the internal dialogue of the ego. Asking, “How can I help” is that internal dialogue of the spirit. In shifting your internal dialogue from what’s in it for me to how can I help you automatically go beyond the ego into the domain of your spirit.
When you are in your dharma, your actions are spontaneously right and everything just flows; it is simple and easy and effortless. You start to automatically know what to do in any situation.
The mantra for The Law of Dharma is “Om Varunam Namaha” which translates to “My life is in harmony with cosmic law.” The affirmations for success are:
What is your dharma?
How do you express your unique talents and serve others?
“I want to sing like the birds, not worrying about who listens or what they think.” ~ Rumi
Friday is my favorite of Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – The Law of Detachment. It builds upon Thursday’s law of setting intentions; you set your intentions, but you detach from the outcome of how they come to fruition. Detachment is not apathy; it is a state of non-attachment. The goal is to live your life with passion, but don’t be passionate about the outcome. If you are attached to your desire, then you limit yourself. Have a desire and then release it to the Universe. I have found that when I release my intentions and desires to the Universe, the outcomes are far superior to what I imagined. When you detach, you are open to the infinite possibilities of life. When you relinquish your attachment to the known, you will experience the fun of life– the magic, the celebration, and the adventure.
Attachment is based on fear and insecurity and we experience this when we worry. Brene Brown shares, “the problem is, worrying about things that haven't happened doesn't protect us from pain. Ask anyone who has experienced a tragedy; they'll tell you there is no way to prepare.” Practicing the Law of Detachment has really helped me worry less and if I catch myself worrying, I stop and detach and tell myself that I will deal with the situation if it actually arises.
I saw how far I have come with detachment a few weeks ago. I went to a show and took a different purse. The next morning I got up to go to yoga and when I went to move my wallet back to my everyday purse it was not there. The old me (prior to a daily meditation practice and following these laws) would have freaked out and I would not have gone to yoga class. I did a quick check on my credit cards and there were no new purchases and I put a hold on my credit cards. I called and left a message at the restaurant. The restaurant didn’t open until 11:00 AM and Centennial Hall didn’t open until 10:00 AM. So, I could have stayed home for the next few hours and worried about what might happen. I have had my wallet stolen from my office at NAU, from my shopping cart and from the Cancun airport when the security machines were down. Therefore, I know the realities of having my wallet stolen, but I stopped the worrying in my mind and said to myself, “okay, if my wallet actually was stolen, then I will begin the process of canceling cards, getting a new license etc. when I know for certain this has happened.” Having done all I could at the present time, I went to yoga class. During class, I really worked on living in the present moment and focusing on the mind-body connection. Sure, thoughts about the wallet popped into my head from time to time, but when they did, I took a breath and came back to the present moment and said “nothing bad is happening in this moment.” After yoga, I went grocery shopping and while there my bank called. My first thought was that they were calling to say that there was unusual activity on my accounts (okay so I still need more practice on positive thinking and not catastrophizing), only to have the bank representative tell me the restaurant had found my wallet and I could pick it up at 11:00. Detaching from worrying really helped me enjoy my morning yoga workout and accomplish tasks before I went and picked up my wallet. It was a happy ending and because I detached I didn't spend hours worrying for no reason. Friday is a great day to let go of worrying about things that might happen or what others think.
The mantra for the Law of Intention and Desire is “Om Anandham Namaha” which translates to “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome.” The affirmations for success are:
How can you detach from worrying?
How can you practice the Law of Detachment when you set intentions?
“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment… intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality has infinite organizing power. And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.” Deepak Chopra
Thursday is the Law of Intention and Desire according to Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. I focus on my intentions and desires every day prior to meditation, but on Thursday, I spend more focused time on my intentions and desires and I write them down. It is important to set intentions so we know who, how and what to spend our time and energy on in life. When I don’t have clear intentions, I am like a hamster running on the treadmill of life and getting nowhere fast. When we bring our attention to our intentions and desires, the energy flows and we are more at peace and consciously making decisions on what to say yes and no to in life.
Attention brings us in to the present moment where we plant the seed for future transformation. Whatever you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life. Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate and disappear. It is important to acknowledge what is no longer serving you and let that go and don't give it any more attention. On Thursday we write our intentions and desires down. We look at the big picture and list the things we want materially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Make a list of your desires and review it regularly. Your list will change as you grow and evolve – that is why we do it every week.
There are things that you can do to strengthen your intention statements and make them more effective. Write them as if they have already happened and in a positive format, don’t use words like NO or NOT if you can avoid it. For some reason, the unconscious mind, which holds the mind-body connection and the power of manifestation doesn’t hear these negative words. Examples of positive statements would be “I am healthy.” “I am strong.” “I am kind and compassionate.” Some examples of intentions you might want to rephrase would be “I do not have allergies” – you could rephrase it to state, “I breathe clearly.” You could rephrase “I will be pain free” to “I am healthy.”
Intention is the real power behind desire. Intent alone is very powerful, because intent is desire without attachment to the outcome. Desire alone is week, because desire in most people is attention with attachment – you have a desire and you want to be in control of how it happens. One of the most powerful lessons that I have learned is to set my intentions, but detach from the outcome and how they come to fruition. Many times the Universe has a much better plan and the outcome far exceeds my expectation.
The mantra for the Law of Intention and Desire is “Om Ritam Namaha” which translates to “My intentions and desires are supported by cosmic intelligence.” The affirmations for success are:
Do you set your intentions and desires?
Do you detach from how your intentions and desires are achieved?
“Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease… with carefreeness, harmony, and love. And when we harness the forces of harmony, joy, and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.” ~ Deepak Chopra
We practice the Law of Least Effort on Wednesdays. It is one of everyone’s favorite laws from the book Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. Deepak tells us, “Do less, accomplish more, do nothing and accomplish everything.” This is what happens when we meditate. When we meditate we do less. We can’t meditate effectively if we are putting a lot of effort into it. Meditation is the greatest tool we have to be effortless.
We have been conditioned all of our life to put as much effort into everything that we do to be successful. We hear the declarations of “No pain, No Gain.” However, through a yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice, I have learned that the complete opposite is true. I achieve so much more when I practice the yoga positions (asanas) by listening to my body and moving with strength, ease and grace. I have a more meaningful day when I go with the flow and don’t resist what is happening and practice acceptance.
This law reminds us to look at nature – nature doesn’t try, the sun doesn't try to shine, it shines and the flowers don’t try to bloom, they bloom – it is their intrinsic nature – it happens spontaneously. Just like your hair grows without you trying make it grow. Today is the day to enjoy the effortlessness flow of life. A life aligned with the laws of nature is not only easier; it brings love, creativity, and bliss into the forefront.
Wednesday is the day I pull back - it is the pattern interrupt day. I accept the moment as it is and surrender. On Wednesdays I don’t struggle - it is the day to I give myself a break and let go of negative self-talk. I don't impose my will on others. I don't prove myself right, defend my position, or assert myself on Wednesdays. I let go of the ego’s need to be right.
The mantra for the Law of Least Effort is “Om Daksham Namah” which translates to “My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimal effort .” The affirmations for success are:
Do you ever practice acceptance for the things that happen in life?
How can you practice the Law of Least Effort on Wednesdays?
“Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind… what we sow is what we reap. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Tuesday is the day that I focus on taking responsibility for my actions. This is known as the Law of Responsibility – even if our choices are not conscious. On this day I realize that my actions have consequences, so I pay attention to what I eat, what I think, what I say, what I do, and what I don’t do. I accept responsibility for my actions. I understand that actions have consequences. So I have an awareness of what I am doing. The best way to maximize the Law of Karma is to become consciously aware of the choices we make in every moment. We make so many more choices each day than we realize - we just need to pay attention.
In the book, Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra gives the example that if he insulted you, you could be offended and if he complimented you, you could be flattered. But each of those is a choice. The ego is involved. You want to get to a place where you are not dependent on what others think for your sense of self. He tells us that if someone insults us, it is usually more about them than us. So, on Tuesdays I really pay attention to my ego and not let it run the show and have anything to do with my sense of self. And the great thing is that after practicing this on Tuesdays for so long, it has transferred to other days of the week as well.
Any challenging situation gives you two choices. You can see the situation as a problem and waste your life complaining about it, or you can recognize that it happened and ask, “How can I learn and grow from this?” If you see something as a problem, you can get drawn into lower energy, which recreates the same Karmic energy, and you make no progress. If we look at every situation as a problem and ask, “why is this happening to poor me? Then we have released the karma, but we are just recreating that karma over and over again and we are not making any progress. I have learned that the same thing keeps happening over and over until I learn the lesson. Again, after practicing this for years, when ever something I would, in the past, have typically labeled as “bad” happens, I stop and ask “what am I supposed to learn from this?” and proceed.
The mantra for the Law of Karma is “Om Kriyam Namaha” which translates to “ My actions are aligned with cosmic law.” The affirmations for success are:
On Tuesdays I make conscious choices – I look at the consequences and see how it will impact me and the other people involved.
Do you make conscious choices?
Do you take responsibility for your actions?
How do you deal with challenging situations?
“Giving engenders receiving, and receiving engenders giving. Reciprocal action keeps the flow of love alive. For so many of us, however, learning to give is difficult.” ~Deepak Chopra
According to Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, the law for Monday is the Law of Giving and Receiving. This law is all about flow. One of the key lessons that I learned about this law is that it is just as important to give as it is to receive. I was very good at giving, but not always good at receiving. When someone gives you something, even something as simple as a compliment and you don't accept it, you are stopping the flow of energy. I know if someone told me I did a good job or they liked my outfit, I would minimize their compliment and say “oh it was nothing” or “this thing, I got it on sale at Kohls.” I have learned that they were offering me a gift and if I minimized it or denied it then it was as if I was saying they were wrong. After learning the importance of accepting a compliment and gifts, it was difficult for me to change that pattern. So, in the beginning, I would just say “thank you” and now that I understand this law, I fully accept their love and appreciation.
Monday is a great day to focus on gratitude. Start every Monday with gratitude and practice gratitude throughout the day, and at the end of the day with gratitude. The more time you spend being grateful, the more you gratitude you will find in your life. See the abundance in everything and be grateful, thank your body for all it does, thank your friends, thank nature and thank the universe. There is so much to be thankful for in life.
You might think that the Law of Giving and Receiving means that Monday will be an expensive day if you have to buy a lot of gifts, but, that is not the case. On Monday’s you can express appreciation, compliment others, send affection, give hugs (this is the true meaning of this law, for when you give a hug, you will also be receiving a hug –so give a lot of hugs on Monday), provide loving touch, truly listen to someone, shower the world with smiles, send gratitude emails, phone calls, or texts, offer prayers to those in need, find your passion and be of service to others, and be open to gifts from others. Do remember that the intention behind giving is to always bring happiness, otherwise it is not true.
The mantra for the Law of Giving and Receiving is “Om Vardhanam Namaha” which translates to “ I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.” The affirmations for success are:
Do you have more difficulty giving or receiving? Which do you prefer?
How can you practice the Law of Giving and Receiving on Monday’s?
“True success is ... the experience of the miraculous. It is the unfolding of the divinity within us.” ~Deepak Chopra
One of the teachings from the Chopra Center that has positively impacted my life is the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.
Dr. Deepak Chopra wrote the book Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams over 20 years ago, but the laws are just as pertinent now as they were when he wrote them. Deepak’s teachings are refined into seven simple, yet powerful, principles based on nature that can be implemented into your life with ease. When I learn something new, I usually want to try and implement everything in my life at once and it becomes overwhelming and then I lose focus. What I love about the Seven Spiritual Laws is that each day has a focus. For example, Monday is the Law of Giving and Receiving. So, on Monday’s I focus my attention on giving and receiving in all possible ways, but on Tuesday, my focus moves to The Law of Karma or cause and effect. Having practiced the laws for years now, there is a flow of the laws between all of the days, but having a focus on each day reminds me of the importance of each law. My favorite laws are The Law of Least Effort and the Law of Detachment because they have helped me to realize that I achieve the most with the least amount of effort and that I can set my intentions, but I need to detach from how they are achieved.
For the next seven weeks, I will share about each of the spiritual laws and my thoughts, feelings and experiences about them. I hope that you can begin or continue to implement these laws into your life. To give you a preview, here are the laws:
Prior to beginning this journey, there are several questions you should answer for yourself:
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~ Lao Tzu
We are coming to the end of 2016 and this is when I find time to reflect on the past year, so that I can look at the current direction of my life and see if that is where I want to continue heading or if I need to adjust and change the course.
At the end of the year I always reflect and journal about the past year. I focus on:
I answer these questions and reflect on what is most important and then I come up with a short statement or acronym for what I want to focus on for the upcoming year. It is not a resolution, but an affirmation of what matters in my life and where I want to put my attention so that I will focus my energy on what really matters most to me. In this way, I will end up where I am heading. After I have answered the questions for this year, I go back and review the answers from the previous years. I see where my focus has shifted and stayed the same on this journey in life.
One of my favorite parts of this exercise is to look back at the books that impacted me the most. In some ways these books taught me life lessons, evoked emotions in me or made me look at life from another perspective. Here is my list for 2016:
Please share the books that impacted you the most in 2016 so we can all learn about great books.
What matters most in your life that you want to focus your attention on for 2017?
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~ Zig Ziglar
After realizing that I was rushing to decorate my tree, I came back to the present moment and chose to unwrap each ornament with awe and appreciation. When I slowed down, I understood how very fortunate I am and how grateful I am for all of the wonderful people and experiences I have in my life.
One of the first ornaments I unwrapped was from my colleagues at work. Joanie always organized the Wetmore staff ornament exchange. I am so grateful that she took the time to make our annual potluck so much fun and I have so many treasured ornaments from the yearly exchange. My co-workers also gave amazing ornaments. Sue always had her mom make these beautiful home made needle point ornaments, magnets and hangings. It makes me smile every year when I hang them. Sheri, who gives Martha Stewart a run for her money, gave me this stunning wine bottle filled with Christmas lights and my heart lights up when I plug it in. My good friend Margaret created an exquisite glass blown ornament at the Sonoran Glass School that I deeply love. Then I joined Connie’s group that went each year to the glass studio and it became a family affair with Amber and Chuck creating enchanting glass ornaments and a tree topper. And speaking of glass, my wonderful pledge daughter Karen made this gorgeous stained glass tree and I love hanging it in a window each Christmas. My stepmother Carolyn went above and beyond and sewed Wizard of Oz ornaments that are my favorites to hang on the tree as they have very elaborate details and decorations sewn into them. Vicki made blown eggs that are delicate and intricately painted and Marion made the most amazing snowman from the base of the soda bottle and decorated with hats, scarves and accessories. I am so grateful for my talented friends that shared their gifts and love with me. It makes my tree that much more special because it is filled with the love of family and friends.
The holidays are a perfect time to begin or expand a gratitude practice. As part of my daily Chopra Center meditation, I ask the question “what am I grateful for?” prior to meditation. So at least twice a day, I am thinking about all of the people and things I am grateful for in my life. Many people journal about what they are grateful for or end each day by thinking of three things they are grateful for. Studies are showing that having a gratitude practice is beneficial and improves your sense of well-being. When you are grateful for things in your life, your start to see more things to be grateful for and you are happier and less depressed. Gratitude helps you cope with stress because you have a well of positive thoughts to draw from and a gratitude practice strengthens relationships. May we all find time to honor, affirm and appreciate the positive things and people in life.
Do you have a gratitude practice? Share it with us.
How can you expand your gratitude practice this holiday and next year?
“Be here now. Be someplace else later.” – David Bader
In continuing with the theme to live in the present moment this holiday season, I was again reminded of the need to follow David Bader’s quote to be where I am in the moment and not think about something else or somewhere else. Sunday morning, I was getting all of the holiday decorations out and planning to decorate the tree and house. In the back of my mind crept the thought that I needed to be at a concert in a few hours and so I needed to hurry to get everything done in time to clean up and get ready for the concert. So, I started to rush and all of a sudden I realized I wasn’t enjoying decorating for Christmas. I know that awareness is the key, so I brought my attention back to the present moment and my purpose. I made a conscious choice to be decorating in my living room now and I would be at the concert later in the day. I wanted to enjoy the process of decorating the tree. So, I unwrapped each decoration with love and excitement as the memories rushed back of when I received the ornament and from whom. I untangled the lights with patience (that really works better than frustration) and I was in awe as they glimmered on the tree. I danced to the Christmas music and even at one point danced with the broom after I swept the pine needles off the floor. I went slow, paused between each action, and really savored each moment. Decorating the tree was so much more joyful when I was living in the present instead of thinking about a future activity. And, as always happens, when I live in the present moment and am not worried about the future there was plenty of time. I got everything decorated without rushing and enjoyed the concert even more because I came from a place of peace because I hadn’t rushed.
My friend, Angela Bell Julien, has a new book out called Trees Don't Rush. She is a talented artist and gifted author that reminds us that time is everywhere and we should take our cues from nature; she states, “Nature doesn't hurry; it takes the time necessary to sculpt the greatest canyons and to bloom the most fragile blossom, and the world waits.” I will apply this philosophy of not rushing with all of my holiday activities. Angie has a book signing this Saturday, December 17th in Tucson at the Foothills Mall Barnes and Noble from 1:00-3:00 PM. Her signed book would be a great present.
Wrapping presents is not one of my favorite things to do. I think it has to do with the fact that as part of a Girl Scout opportunity in high school, I volunteered at Sears and I had to wrap all of the fake presents that went under the trees in the store. Hours upon hours of wrapping empty boxes dampened my wrapping spirit. However, this year, when I wrapped the presents, I just wrapped the presents and I wasn't thinking about anything else. Wrapping presents wasn’t a thing to get checked off my to do list, but I enjoyed selecting the wrapping paper, curling the ribbons and I sent love to the recipients of the gifts; I enjoyed wrapping presents this year more than I ever have in the past.
My holiday mantra for each task is
I vow to be here now and someplace else later in my body and mind.
Do you ever find yourself thinking or worrying about something else when you are in the middle of your holiday preparations?
If yes, how can you avoid rushing and live in the present moment?
“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness… Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
When I was young I was clumsy - I would trip and fall a lot and my family sarcastically called me “Grace.” What I have learned from a meditation and mindfulness practice was that I wasn’t clumsy at all; I was just not living in the present moment. Now, when I trip or stumble, I realize it is because I am rushing and not paying attention in the present moment and I invite grace into my life. I stop; I take a deep breath, slow down and come back to this moment.
Recently, I have noticed that I have been running into things, tripping and getting paper cuts. I realized that I had unconsciously entered the holiday rush. I was rushing from one activity to the next and in that rush I was stumbling, crashing and hurting myself. I was not only injuring myself physically with bruises and cuts, but the hurried pace were causing me to lose the peaceful state of mind that I treasure.
My gifted and spiritual yoga instructor and yoga therapist, Mary Carhuff, provides her students with a “heart rock” intention card each year. She captures a stunning image of a rock or rocks in the shape of a heart and inscribes an intention we focus on for the year. This year the intention is Grace and Strength. During this holiday season, whenever I become aware that I am racing from one thing on my to do list to the next, I will stop and take a deep breath and fill by body, mind and spirit with grace and strength. I will remember the true meaning of the holiday season and come from a place of peace and love. May you find grace and strength this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
Do you have things that happen in your life, like tripping, that make you aware that you are not living in the present moment? How can you use these signs to bring your focus to the Now?
How can you bring more grace, strength, and love into your life for the holidays and coming year?
“One of the motives behind perfectionism is the hunger for approval. As a perfectionist, you have a highly conditional and mostly unfavorable view of yourself, and you strive for approval and validation to feel better about yourself. As an approval-hungry perfectionist, your pursuit of perfection is a foot in the door into somebody else’s mind as you try to peddle your talents and abilities in exchange for others’ approval.” ~ Pavel Somov
One of the perfectionist tendencies from the work of Pavel Somov that hit home for me was my hunger for approval from others. I think because I heard, as a child, that I wasn’t good enough from others that I thought I needed approval from others to prove I was worthy. In the book Present Perfect, Somov shares that perfectionists base their sense of self-worth on others’ thoughts and reactions about them. It is important for perfectionists to acknowledge that they are hungry for the approval from others, because admitting your insecurities is a crucial step towards self-acceptance.
Perfectionists are judgmental of themselves and others. We believe our self-esteem and worth comes from the judgment of ourselves. We are constantly judging ourselves against a standard to determine our worth. I used to think that if I accomplished certain goals, then I was worthy and if I made mistakes or didn’t do things, then I was unworthy. At the end of the day I might have done hundreds of wonderful things, but what stuck in my head were the few things that I judged as being bad or wrong. I based my self-worth on conditions I created, and as a perfectionist I created very high standards.
In order to deal with this hunger for approval from others, we must practice Self-acceptance. Self- acceptance is unconditional love for yourself. When I practice self-acceptance, I know that I am doing the best I can at this moment in this situation. I am no longer comparing myself with some yardstick of what I think I should have done in this situation. When I sought the approval of others I was dependent on others for my self-esteem and I lost my sense of self. Now, I am conscious of what I am doing and I do my best. I no longer seek out praise. I am self-aware. I have come to a comfortable place in life where I know I am valuable even if others don’t value me. I have setbacks from time to time where I catch myself feeling that I am not good enough, but then I return to the present moment and practice self-acceptance.
Do you hunger for the approval from others?
How can you practice more self-acceptance in your life?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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