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!

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!

Paradox as Portal

Kwan Yin, one of my favorite mythical figures, is the Chinese Goddess of compassion.  In some imagery she rides a dragon to her desired destination.  Yes!  What an image, what an idea – is it possible that the terrible dragon of evil is docile and supportive when it is perceived through the heart of kindness?  I’m banking on it – striving for it – and just getting with that idea on many levels.  How can I ride my own personal dragon to my happy place?

“The Divine speaks in paradox”… if this is true then seeking the troubling paradox is a worthwhile pursuit.  What does that actually mean?  How do I use a paradoxical situation as a way out of suffering?  Here’s one of the most confusing paradoxes – if you want to get what you want, let it go.  I can only recommend trying this, as it does seem paradoxical that when we grasp desperately for something (or someone) that it (or they) remains safely out of reach until the burning desire transforms itself into something else.  Is that always true?  Perhaps, I’m not privy to that knowledge but it has shown itself to be true in my life.

Another paradox is the mind-bending idea that everything we need is within us already.  If so, then why does it seem that we need the external reality so much?

How does this jive with the well known law of attraction?  If we need to match the energy of what we seek to be able to attract it, then what happens when we have a frenzied, desperate feeling  what shows up? Usually not what we want, usually the opposite of what we want.

How has this shown itself to be true in your life… ?

Perhaps one reasons a paradox is a link to higher awareness  has to do with its ability to derail our mind.  Like a Zen koan, there doesn’t seem to be a true answer to any paradox.  There is an ugly dog contest in a  nearby town, that has grown to national proportions.  If the phrase “so ugly, it’s beautiful” comes to mind here, sink into that paradox for a bit… here’s another one:  “poor little rich child”…or this one  “I’m so tired I can’t sleep”… our lives are filled with opposites, all creating an opportunity to see beyond the conditioned expectations of our culture.  Recognizing the space between two poles creates an opening for truth, for wisdom, for expansion and joy.  Step on through!

 

 

 

Alchemy of the Heart

Our pain reveals itself to be the sacred fire of transformation – it forces change and burns through resistance.  When emotional pain becomes unbearable, there is only one effective option – healing.  When the traumas of the past are destroying our chance for happiness and peace in each moment, what is the process for transmuting that pain into love?

Taking the first step means making a commitment to the inner work that will lead us out of pain.  Humility and sincerity are potent companions for true change, and it seems that for many of us pain is one of the secret keys to those states.  “It brought me to my knees” is a description of being humbled, changed into a person who willingly steps forth into the healing process.  The depth of that humility is the power of it.  “Give everything to get everything” is a message I received at an important time of my life, and event led to an unfoldment more wonderful than my mind could have imagined (think; Hawaii).

Once we’re on our knees what next?  I recommend asking for what you want, spending time in contemplation (also known as meditation).  I began by using each bump in the road as a messenger and seeing each person I encountered during the day as a carrier of whatever message I needed to hear the most in any given time.  I gave myself permission to feel, to deeply feel all the confusing, painful, avoid-at-any-cost feelings that had been denied for so long.  “Every feeling fully felt leads to love” is a message I received early on and that teaching carried me through many hardships and still does, to this day. Like most wisdom gems, it comes to mind when it is most needed.

Emptying our mind so that truth can flow and peace can land is challenging.  It means sitting with discomfort, with the ongoing mindstream that is creating our reality.  Learning to get a distance from our thoughts is powerfully healing.  Realizing that we can come to a place of choice where emotions are concerned is one of the milestones I’ve come to appreciate.  Following any system that resonates as truth will bring us to the place of peace and happiness.  There’s no timeline, it takes what it takes, but trusting that we can make it through our challenges gives a stability to the process.  This is one of the deeper meanings of trust in Great Spirit, God, Creator, the Divine, the Tao, whatever name you prefer.  I choose to trust in the benevolence of this mystery, and use the appearance of what isn’t benevolent as another messenger.  How can I have compassion for even the darkest day?