Determination revisited – the Hero’s Journey

This is a hot topic for me right now.  What has made the difference in my successes and completions?  What has provided the fuel for those endeavors?  Some contemplation led me to this realization:  The most important factor in success, the very most important ingredient is ….. (drumroll, please)  self-love.

For us to believe in ourselves, we do need to love our very own self.  Unconditionally.  Absolutely.  Completely.  Believe in ourselves, nurture ourselves and trust our own guidance and intuition.  Self-trust is born of self love, just as trust of other is born of love.

If I love myself, I’ll follow through on healthy eating, regular exercise and self care.  I can’t put the cart before the horse, that is the piece called will or discipline, which can be inflicted in various ways upon ourselves but isn’t successful in the long run. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that discipline, as in the military, creates defeat, since the will or commitment comes from outside influences, not our own desires, stirring from the cauldron of self love.

How do we nurture this all-important self love?  That sounds so easy, but as part of the game of life it seems many of us were implanted with a bug that creates havoc in our operating system.  This “bug” has created self-doubt, shame and guilt.  These low vibration emotions can defeat us – they render us incapable of self care, of taking powerful steps in the right direction and are self-limiting.

Learning to love ourselves from the inside is a hero’s journey.  It’s a full time job, it’s the Big Work.  Don’t delay, just take a step or two in the direction of self love, as often as you can.  Become your own cheering section – find reasons to believe in your own worth.  It’s really a matter of realization, awareness and choice.  How do you treat the people and animals in your life that you love?  How can  you give yourself some of that same loving care, in your mind and in your actions?  How are ways self love might express?  This takes some mighty pondering!  Ponder away, the benefits are fantastic.

The successful times of my life have had this important thing in common – I believed in myself.  I used to think this way:  “if it’s possible for a human to do it, I can do it”… taking into account my own limitations, of course, but applying that thought and confidence to a potential outcome, I always experienced success.  We believe in the ones we love (including ourselves).  This applies once again to  the “law of attraction” – a  principle that states that when we are in alignment with our goal then we can achieve it.

Here’s a possible affirmation:  In this moment, I choose to love myself.  I love my life, I love my little ways and foibles and I am completely confident of my success in whatever I choose to do. And if I do fail, I will learn as much as I can from that failure, pick myself up, dust myself off and try again.   I release all shame and guilt and recognize myself as a piece of perfection, an integral part of the Great Mystery – a beloved being, perfect in my own eyes, the only ones that really matter….And so it is!

Determination – part 1

“the obstacle is the path” – excerpt from Zen teaching

What holds us back from living our dreams? How do we cultivate the qualities that bring us success? One of the most important qualities that walks hand-in-hand with success is determination.  A close relative of commitment, determination is the driving force that compels us to the finish line.  Apathy would appear to be its counterpart – always lurking at the shadows, beckoning our will to concede defeat.  Ha!

What nurtures determination?  A kissing cousin of discipline as well as commitment, determination can also be called will.   Sometimes  it seems to take a whopping share of suffering to urge our being to take the steps we need to take.  Most of us would prefer to skip the suffering and move directly on to the successful outcome in our lives but this doesn’t seem to fulfill the purpose of life.  It seems to me that one of the main purposes of life is the experiencing of challenges.  The obstacle IS the path, in other words.  And each obstacle, somehow perfectly placed by the Great Mystery detours us to the perfect destination, teaching us along the way the great lessons of life.

Relaxation may seem antithetical to determination but I don’t think it is.  Stress derails most things, a tight grip on the steering wheel doesn’t allow for fluid movement on the road, and that analogy flows straight into real life, where approaching life as a dance is just so much more fun than marching in military formation.  So, relaxed determination leaves space for commitment and flexibility – a strong will doesn’t need to reside in a tense body.   Keep breathing!

Allowing the Divine currents to flow – to inspire and to direct – creates a path for great determination to provide the energy to complete projects, to create and manifest.  Allowing happens in a state of relaxation, but also allows for the greatest source energy to come through us.  Letting go in order to hold on…another powerful paradox reveals itself.

There are a multitude of suggestions about how to urge myself towards determination.  Most of them start with a morning meditation practice.  Wake up with a plan – put that plan into action and then surrender into the day.  What’s a good plan for the morning?  Once awake, I reach for gratitude and positive thoughts.  It’s a lot like cleaning house – sweeping out the cobwebs, dusting the furniture and so on.  Sometimes I envision gathering all the negative energies that have come to reside in my being and gather them all up expel them in a powerful breath.  The ancient yogic breathing practices called Pranayama are well described and powerful.

So, first a daily reset/refresher.  Then, on to a meditation – generally even before I get up.  This might break all the “rules” of a Zen or other system, but what the heck, it’s ok to meditate in whatever way is most effective, says I.  Some yoga, always a good idea and the day is now heading a very good direction.  That could be enough to foster determination, which together with a “to-do” list supports me towards relaxed accomplishment.

Sometimes I’m overtaken with passion for a project, or with a deadline.  Both of those situations foster and support determination.  The aging process has brought with it a slower pace, so even in times of great passion and determination I need to accept my own limitations and practice self- care to make it over the finish line with grace.  Deep inner listening has become one of life’s most precious necessities.  Self-respect, coupled with a sense of humor brings a lot to the table – and reminds me that in some way that may even be incomprehensible – life is good, and all is well.

 

 

Every breath a prayer

What is prayer?  Some see it as a plea for help, a request from the higher powers to grant wishes or to create healing.  The way I see it is as a conversation with the Universe, God, the Goddess, or angels, guides and helpers.  How is prayer different than other activities?  I don’t believe it has to be, that we can live in a way that makes every word and thought a prayer.  It’s a description of enlightenment – taking each step in a sacred way, with love. To fully inhabit the truth of our connectedness to all things, to the recognition of the watcher within, and the infinity we are part of.

I am a mystic.  I choose to see the world through prismatic rose colored glasses of a metaphorical variety.  The colors, shapes, light and shadow that is forming itself into a 3D reality is possibly unrolling before each of us as our own personal theater of the Divine.  What may be called the Law of Attraction holds the key to manifesting a desired reality, stepping through that portal takes a complete disengagement of the ego mind, the negative mind, the nay-sayers who chant “you can’t do it, you’re not good enough”.  One truth I’ve experienced is that when my mind is sure of the outcome, it has never been disappointed.  It is the process of training (healing) the subconscious mind which, like an unruly toddler is constantly derailing desires and intentions with its insecurities and negative self talk.

Recalling times in my life when things seemed to be going my way, my desires and intentions being granted, there is one  common thread – the confidence rooted in my actions.  The clarity of the big YES that has guided me along.  There are other ways to talk about it – it can be called “vibration” and when my vibration is “high” or actually aligned then my life looks the way I think it should.  Is there anything more important to contemplate?  I think not!

As the recognition of my own priorities and desires is able to freely arise to the forefront of my awareness I have been able to more easily recognize my inner guidance system.  Thanks to the many teachers who are freely available on the internet, I can tap into the wisdom of sages in an instant!  Electronic enlightenment!

We live in a time where technology appears to have gained the capability of creating our heart’s desires in any medium.  Our smartphones mean we can all be filmmakers, writers, photographers and musicians.  In an instant – with one viral video we can become world famous!  The lottery winnings have risen into the multi millions and all around us the possibilities have opened for many into the realms of the Gods.

My own life has lapsed back towards simplicity.  Is there a butterfly in the garden today?  Will I get to see a hummingbird?  how little can I do in a day to make space for the inner journey, the quiet of contemplation and actuality of where the important things are taking place.  Life as Prayer….

 

 

 

Resistance is futile

Understanding how to navigate life is part of the path of awakening, of conscious living, of happiness.  There is not any need to follow the advice of others if we can’t confirm for ourselves that the information we have received is true – by simple trial and error.  Of course, I for one wish to skip the “error” part of “trial and error” and pass “go” to collect my reward!  Isn’t that the purpose of the game?  Or is it that the trials and errors are teaching tools, and life is a game, with happiness  and well being as the reward?  I like to take that approach, it works pretty well for me even when times are challenging and I don’t know exactly which way to turn.

“What you resist will persist”  – is the reason that resistance is futile.  If resistance, or the opposite of acceptance brings us the undesirable outcome, then a new strategy is needed, and so the pondering begins.  There are endless challenges and situations that call for more profound awarenesses and true wake-ups.  When I cling to a strategy that doesn’t work, what then?  I will usually continue trying that strategy until I am depressed, de-energized and unmotivated, until I reach the stage of surrender to the futility and try something different.  It really is that simple.  And yes, sometimes just one more try can bring us to success, but what if it doesn’t?  Starting with a small example – getting a lid off a jar.  I twist and twist to no avail.  Do I give up?  I really need what’s in that jar! Next I try using the gripper pad for a stronger grip, or maybe run the jar under hot water to loosen it up… then, all those options aside, I might look for someone with bigger hands to help me…. one of those paths will surely lead to success!  And that is a small, everyday example but the same wisdom can apply to bigger challenges, too.  How to become healthier or wealthier – those are big challenges.  In order for something to change, we need to change our attitude towards it.  The Law of Attraction says that we can’t manifest anything without coming into vibrational alignment with it… to me that does mean letting go of all resistance… first step, accept where I am, second step, imagine where I want to be and third (or fourth, and fifth and on) step is believing and knowing it is possible.  This step can be the most challenging, especially if the first step has already been taken…

So, releasing resistance is a change of attitude.  Moving from pessimism and depression to gratitude is the leap that seems certain to create the change we want.  Sometimes its difficult to go straight to gratitude from depression and negativity.  Taking small steps towards the desired destination may be all that is possible… and the meter for progress is to check in with emotions and our emotional state.  Do I feel a little better?  What is one step I can take towards feeling better… no need to believe anybody else’s advice, just let the results be the gauge of effectiveness.  And, the mind becomes habituated to thoughts as the body becomes habituated to activities… I try to end each day with affirmations about health and well being and begin each day in the same way… Give it a try!

 

 

Encourage Courage

What exactly is courage?  It’s root word means “heart” and so the heart is the seat of courage in our being.  Making the decision to let our  heart lead us where our mind feels fear is the best example of courage I can find.  Knowing that fear is our constant companion, and choosing boldly to follow our heart’s truth is another paradox of life on earth.  To be who we truly want to be means stepping into the fire, walking on hot coals and overriding the fearful part of us that craves safety.  It means that to continue moving forward in the face of fear is to be more fully realized, satisfied and actually alive.

To embark on even the simplest adventure calls for courage.  Some days it takes courage to get out of bed, other days not so much…there was a 10 year period of my life during which I was terrified of airplanes and elevators.  My career at that time involved repairing high-tech video equipment and so I spent my time searching for solutions to make machines work again.  To me, airplanes and elevators were equipment failures just waiting to happen, created by the most fallible of beings, the human!  What now sounds kind of reasonable was in direct contrast to my real life – because at the same time I wouldn’t engage in air travel I could be found rafting and kayaking wild rivers, scuba diving and exploring deep wilderness with steady nerves.  Our fears are not always rational or reasonable, bringing to mind the fear we can see at the sight of a teeny, tiny spiders or bugs-  inspiring a surprising number of adults (including me) to squeal in fear.

Of course now I realize that all along it was that old traveling companion – the fear of death – that was cloaked in creative excuses for staying home!  It wasn’t until life called me to a foreign country that could only be accessed by airplane that I faced my fear.  The whole world then opened to me.  Hawaii, no problem, Thailand, no problem, and India, yep I got there!  And, I am still a confirmed home-body who wants to leave a small carbon footprint.  And I also like to visit tropical beaches as often as possible so I  can now almost fearlessly step into a jumbo jet.

Fear of closeness with others is one of the most common fears that many people bring to the meditation sessions I hold.  Once bitten, twice shy – and yes opening ourselves to intimacy after a painful ending takes courage.  Living alone, that too is considerably courageous, when the fear of living alone overcomes the fear of loneliness, then perhaps we can engage with another in a new, healthier, less fearful way.  I’m banking on it!  Co-dependence is defined as a neediness, a gigantic overwhelming fear of aloneness.  And yet, there is always this challenge to be more, to explore, to expand and to release the bonds that hold us back from that.  Is it actually love or need that is running our lives when we “commit” to a relationship with another?  That is a good question to ask, regularly, I believe, and to be able to love fearlessly, for sure.

How is fear holding you back?  I think it is an important question – learning to choose between love (adventure) and fear is a moment by moment exploration.  How to encourage courage to facilitate a life lived in the light of love?

Enter the Enchantment…

It’s possible to live life as an invitation into the magical realms of beauty and love… the portals are everywhere – finding them is the game, the joy the purpose of life… returning again and again to the place that feels right, that feels good that gives the best feelings and experiences

This portal of magic

this waking dream of love and beauty

the beckoning the reckoning

the sacred spiral dance

whirling wildly from darkness to light

and back again…

twinkling sparkling shimmering

third eye wide

lotus unfurled

the magic wand twirled

 

Learning Compassion

“If I could be you and you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each others mind
If you could see you through my eyes instead of your ego
I believe you’d be surprised to see that you’d been blind
Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes
Well, your whole world around you is just a reflection
And the law of common says you’re gonna reap just what you sow”
Walk A Mile In My Shoes by Joe South
Sometimes I imagine that life on Earth is a board game (yes yes I’m of that generation).  If it is then the destination is Compassion.  It is the true blossoming of the heart, that manifests outwardly in a deep caring for others, and blooms fully into unconditional love and acceptance.
How is compassion different than pity?  Compassion includes the realization that we are all connected, essentially the same. Alternately – pity is a kind of downward gaze onto a lesser being – that’s my definition.  It is open to discussion – especially to bring us all to a deeper understanding of this difference.  Compassion should feel good – it is warm, friendly and love filled.  Pity is a close relative of disdain, so it doesn’t feel good.  Check your heart for it’s wisdom and you’ll know the difference.
There may be some unusual beings who come to earth fully formed with hearts of compassion, but for the rest of us, learning this can be a hard path.  Breaking down the internal resistance that is born of survival fear can take all our attention and courage. Sometimes loss will help us understand the pain of other, sometimes illness or bad fortune will do that.  In my case it was Lyme disease, my worst fear come true and a long road through pain and fear. I’m enormously grateful for what that illness brought me – as I had been graced with a good life, an abundant life, a healthy life and lots of adventure and financial success.  It seemed that I could have whatever I wanted (I was not a member of the 1% but had everything I wanted and needed).  I felt that I  was living a kind of exalted life.
It wasn’t until it all disappeared that I began to know what others might be going though.  As we live in a world filled to the brim with paradoxes, the paradox of letting go to receive what we want is one of the hardest to consciously accept, in my experience.  And yet, even in mainstream movies and media there are many many examples of the way this works.  Just when we’re on the verge of giving up, our heart’s desire appears.  How has this shown up in your life?  Another word for letting go is surrender.  Surrender into the Divine Flow and accept what happens…  I love you!