How a Dandelion Changed My Mind

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dandelion's breath

It caught my eye, these weeds.  These small insidious insect-laden crawlers of the cracks, these sowers of seeds. Despised are these dandelions! People toil long and hard to rid their glorified verdant carpets of these pesky vermin that foul them with dingy yellow globes and unkempt whiskers of seeds.

Then I wondered…why? Why are they given such a label?  What makes them a weed and others a flower?  This one question was about to change the way I thought. It was about to severe a long held belief and transform my way of seeing, and thinking about more than just this. I was very happy with all the labels I was given up to this point. I was settled into where I was in my life, because it was solid, accepted, and secure in everyone else’s eyes. That was about to change.

Why was it called a weed and why were so many people trying to rid them from their yards, from their sight it seemed? Even if your neighbour had them, you were wary, and maybe even asked your neighbour to ‘do something’ about them, lest they settle one day in your yard.

Perhaps it is the brightness of the hue? Could you mistake the iridescent yellow of a dandelion for any other? Does it not pop out from the surrounding to be noticed? I think the dandelions may actually warm the earth simply by the tonal colour they shed, and you may think as much if you got close enough with your cheek.

Is it the shape? Is in some way considered deformed? Is it not a reflection of Nature’s perfect circular pattern? The circle is after all considered the shape from which all others are formed.

A flower, it seems, has to be seen as dazzlingly different, has to show off unlimited colour schemes and varieties of petal shapes and sizes to lure the bees and birds that ensure its own propagation. Nature’s own form of advertising for sex. This wise one had no need to lure insects to it to propagate, but instead made use of nature’s own energy and loosed beautiful cascades of unlikely umbrellas when the wind speaks to it. Is it not a heavenly match to ensure succeeding generations with a whisper of wind instead of the touch of any other? Perhaps it should have a more virtuous name?

If that is the requirement to be labelled a flower, then I would not want it called as such. It should be something greater.

Hail to thee oh dandelion, that you persevere where others die, that you cling to cracks and joints stubbornly, and offer sustenance to bumbling buzzing bees, though they offer nothing to you, and you glow of warm sunlight to all that gather close.  You can even foresee if a child likes butter by the glow under their chin, I’m told!  When your days are done, and you have given almost all, you transform into a wish machine, and allow many people, old and young alike, to whisper: wonderful thoughts, prayers, and deeds, that the world becomes a better place for that instance, and hope springs from one giant blow. I have love for you oh cursed one.  I lament upon the dandelion and its ill begotten label.

Dandelion you deserve more. If we harken back to you’re your name, and what it meant when you were named such, they called you ‘dens leonis’: the lion’s tooth.  The lion among it’s kin, King of all, it fights for it’s life ferociously, and deserves this grand namesake.  No longer are you a weed, to me, but you are the King of flowers, the Sovereign of sidewalks, and purveyor of wishes.  You are a reminder that closed minds can foul the most beautiful objects before they are even seen. I long to see you now.  You will remind me of the nature of people, strong, resilient, steadfast, and able to achieve all they desire, all they wish upon themselves.  We are dandelions, and to curse you is to doom ourselves.  May we always look upon another with such an open mind as to erase all sense of judgement, evaluation, comparison, and mistrust, and take in all the mind can sense.

It took some time for this to truly sink in, and it was as if the constant wave action of my thoughts dissolved the barrier that held my beliefs in place, and new insights started to flood my mind. This applies to more than just dandelions. There is more to this instance than just the label of a plant. What of ideas? Are they not spread on our breath, ready to seed in willing minds? What is the power of a label that it determines the outcome of any idea, good or bad? Is it your judgement of my idea that digs it out from other people’s minds to make them conform?

What of other things we label as ‘weeds’ of society? Are they the homeless, the addicted, the abused, the shaded skinned, the old, the un-useful, the different.

How you understand me is through communicating, and the most common form of communicating is through language. This gives unbridled power to the words that we choose to use to describe something, but there is a price and a limit. There is a price to pay for labelling, which groups, refines, shakes out and stereotypes much in the world to the particular perspective not of the labeller, but of the seer. What you label this, may be seen as that, to me.

There is also a limit to what words can say. How many words does it take to describe your love? How many to describe your child? A perfect image? Who you are?

So, I handle words with care and caution, and allow my eyes the opportunity to see what is there, without my mind’s sticky labels and my own past judgement to cloud what is right in front of me. I see now that the dandelion is everything and everyone. I am someone’s dandelion, and so are you. We are all labelled by others for a particular outcome; maligned and murdered, with perfect intent, and that is something worthy of reminding ourselves every time we see a lion’s tooth silently roaring for survival along the cracks and crevices of our land and mindscape.

Our Slippery Self

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My life changed in one moment. Many lives change with traumatic or incredibly fortunate events and you may have many images of both come to mind. Mine was just over the phone, talking to a friend. But before I get to that, let’s back up to what happened that same morning.

I was letting things get in the way of my commitments with people, and even though I felt this, I was also somewhat numb to it. I justified my actions, until one day the mirror showed up. You know what I mean, how what your friends tell you is something about you that they see, and then you get it. They are your mirror, and if you have a friend like this, consider it a gift!

I left home to meet friends at a new church. On my way I thought I may be slightly late, or right on time. There was an urgency I felt to get there and do what I said I would: show up. As I dismounted my ride and walked to the front doors, the solidity of the latch told me it was locked. The notice on the door said as much “These doors will be locked when the service begins or when the seats are at capacity”, and there I was, exactly when the service starts. Sigh. I texted my friend that this is what happened and sat back down on my motorbike.

I was angry with myself. I admonished my unfocussed self and drove off with the feelings of anger. It was a palpable energy, as I was soon to find out.

I spent the next couple hours stewing about it, trying to quell the grey cloud encircling my head and heart. Then it was time for me to meet a friend. The experience had changed, as things often do in our life, from being just with her, to her and another. To me, in the frame of mind I was in, this new dynamic changed my behaviour. I saw it as changing the expectation of the two person group to a three person group, and it was taking it’s sweet time to work it’s way through my body as a reaction. You see, I was protective of my relationship with my friend, and I was looking forward to one-on-one time where we connect so well. The addition of another person got in my way, and it didn’t sit well with me.

By the end of our time together, this came up. I explained my desire for one-on-one and how the day changed from one expectation to something different, and that changed how I felt, and thus how I behaved around others. “You changed the day on me” I would say, justifying how I felt in a defensive manner. Oh how we defend our feelings when we are scared.

I have a tendency to show a different side of me to those that I don’t really know. I am unwavering, stolid, kurt, short, impassive, and generally have a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging around my neck for all to see. I only show the real me to people I admire. That’s a learned behaviour from generally feeling insecure about who I am and what I have to offer others. It’s an old behaviour, so why is it creeping up on me and why didn’t I notice it?

What happened next changed my entire perspective, and when you can change that, you can change your life, because you are no longer looking at anything the same way as before.

I received some of the most valuable feedback from that friend of mine that I wanted to share time with. She explained to me in a compassionate, yet straightforward manner that when I had spent time visiting, I had shown up with an agitated energy. She didn’t like it when I had that kind of force around me. We talked about why I might be feeling that way, and it became clear that I had behaved rather like a child, trying to protect that which I felt I wanted all to myself: the connection alone with her. I had acted out of fear, with a scarcity mindset. What then might be the difference if I could simply act open around everyone I met? Might I have that same relationship with more people? Might I have it with everyone I open up to?

Oh my.

I was creating the scarcity mindset and conditions all by myself. I realized that if I had just showed up being my authentic self, I could have yet created one more fruitful, genuine relationship, instead of feeling like I had to share the one meaningful relationship that I cherished. This cut straight to the heart of the matter, and it was me that was the matter. I had created everything that fed my fearful mind. I was humbled not only by the words that were spoken, but by how accurate they were as well.

She ended off by validating the person she really likes seeing is the one that is open, and light, and that way with people, allowing my mind to shine with them too. Well, if there is a way to enhance a particular quality in a man, it’s to validate that positive quality you want to see. I guarantee you will see more of it the next day.

This feedback was so deep and soulful, and I agreed with it so much, that I couldn’t sleep. I ruminated and thought about it all night and I vowed to be open with as many people as I can. I vowed to write openly, and draw myself into to what I was writing so others can get to know and understand my point of view better.

This was one of the most impactful moments of feedback that I had experienced lately, and it was all because I had slipped back into an old behaviour, one that blocks connections, and sees things from a mindset where there are limits. I learned that many of the limits we routinely believe are self imposed and based on our perspective. What is one or your limits around others?

What a blessing it is to have friends who can, and are able, to genuinely share with me. Part of why they do that, as I am told, is because I value all feedback so incredibly much. I figure if you have what it takes to tell me how you feel around me, then I can treat it like the golden opportunity it is, and ponder it meaningfully.

It’s sly, our old comfortable self, the way it slips in and slithers into place. Without warning we can find ourself exhibiting old behaviours, reacting to external events, and exuding an energy that betrays the self we have tried to construct. We must be wary!

It’s so easy to lose our grip, to let our guard down, and betray our true nature, by wearing our old suit of fear, possessiveness, worry, and sadness. It takes consistent effort, daily focus, and attention to our conscious self to expose our inner being to the light of the world.

That’s how my life changed in a moment. I put that slippery self back in the closet to dry out, and I stepped once more into the light, and little more vulnerable, but a lot more real for my next encounter with…..well, maybe with you.

Heroism is Everyday

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The one idea that I constantly run into is the idea that heroes are distant from us. They are the chosen ones. They have special abilities and powers and we can never be the hero. That is the real myth!

This whole blog, and idea that I write about, is exactly the opposite. Heroes are you and me and him and her and them. They are everyday people doing anyday things. You might be a teacher, a person that opens the door for someone else, listens to a person who needs to share their story, you might avoid hitting someone in your car, you might acknowledge someone, see someone, talk to someone, help someone…YOU are the hero that we never hear about.

That kind of hero is hardly ever shown on television, never really acknowledged, but the great thing is that these people never do what they do for recognition. They simply live their life being who they are. That’s heroic in our popular culture that tries to assimilate everyone.

I have to thank Dave Meslin’s TED talk for inspiring this latest post, because it says it well. In speaking about public apathy, or why we don’t get engaged, we offers up the idea that heroes are this mighty persona, if not an actual superhuman. Dave goes on to mention that there are three aspects of being a hero that are real:

  1. It is Collective: it sometimes takes several people to get involved in something
  2. It is imperfect! I love this one. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you get started! You can just put one foot forward and begin. Your passion will attract the answers you need just when you need them if you trust in your self.
  3. It is voluntary: it comes from within.

Now, you take all of these things, and you begin to realise that real change starts with one step toward something meaningful, and we can fail and move sideways and learn all at the same time, and if we call on some friends, or make new ones in the process, all the better.

That’s heroic! That’s an atypical hero, or a typical hero, whichever way you want to see it.

Just start something, if you want to. When your energy rises at the thought of it, when you never tire of it, you can feel a direction forming in your body and mind. follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell was fond of saying. Follow your heart. But, follow something that wants to take you forward that is meaningful to you.

If you need a hand, let’s take that first step together…

Who’s Our Hero Now?

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Heroes have always been patterned based on the society they have come from, and the times that they evolved from. So what about now Who are our heroes today?

In the movies we still have the new reflections of older heroes like Superman, Batman, The Avengers. We still have war hero movies like Fury which depict the good, the bad, and the ugly and show that who we call a hero may actually just be a survivor.

Who are some of the modern day heroes? Some are easy to spot.

Billions in Change” – 5 Hour Energy Drink CEO Manoj Bhargava is a person that is actively changing the lives of others, doing good deeds. This is his mission: “The Billions in Change movement aims to build a better future for people across the world by delivering innovative solutions that addresses issues such as water deprivation, energy sustainability and disease prevention to directly impact humanity.” Manoj is quoted as saying “If you are [rich], it is your duty to help people who are not rich”, he says. “I want to make a difference and not just talking about it.” 

He has money and he is using it for the benefit of humankind. That’s a feel good story; a real humanitarian in our time, but would you call him a hero? What about those of us that are living paycheque to paycheque. Who is the patron that we can look to and say “You are my hero!”

It’s pretty hard not to recognize Terry Fox, if you come from Canada. He’s a regular kind of guy you can immediately empathize with. I recall going to see Steve Fonyo, a stand-in for Terry Fox after he got ill, dip his leg into the water at our Mile Zero here in Victoria, BC, Canada, when I was young. That was the finale of the cross Canada “Marathon of Hope“. It was such a successful, beloved experience that we all cherished watching someone devote their life to the cause. That was a while back in 1980 though. Is there someone like that today?

A modern day political scientist I admire is David Suzuki. I grew up watching him on television, and to see him still deliver on environmental topics is great. He has a lot of respect, but is that a hero? There are plenty of people I admire and respect for their devotion to their careers or passions, or both, but would I class them as a hero?

According to Joseph Campbell, a hero ‘gives their life to something bigger, or other, than themselves’. They can achieve something or perform an act worthy of a hero, or they can learn something on the spiritual side of life that they can then teach to others.

Who then has gone somewhere and come back to tell and teach about it? Col.Chris Hadfield comes to mind first. What can I say, he is Canadian, sings, was the first Canadian to walk in space, and continues to wow people wherever he speaks. He is a talented moustachioed man!

If you think going to space is old hat nowadays, I don’t know, I think it’s pretty heroic to get above our atmosphere and live aboard the International Space Station for a time and wander around outside said space station on a tether, do a couple guitar sessions, then return to earth to tell people all about it. You must change as a man. Your perspective must change as an earth-bound human. There is one mind I would be interested in bearing witness to. He is a hero to me.

Heroes change depending on what stage of life we are facing. As a youth Wayne Gretzky was one of my heroes. The oh-so-talented hockey player that simply destroyed any team he played against for so many years, and he was just a province away. There is a reason he was, and is still, called “The Great One”.

When you get older, your heroes change. You look for heroes that are fighting your fight; somebody you can look toward for inspiration. I think when you get to a certain age in life, when the kids are gone, when you get back to living life for you, that you go through the crisis of self.

Who are you? Are you defined by your career? Are you the man or woman who raised your children? Are you the person that sits behind a desk, watches TV when you get home,and enjoys going out for drinks every now and then, maybe a bike ride or stroll on the weekends, maybe does some gaming for distraction here and there. Okay, but who are you?

What are your principles you live by? What do you stand for?

When you get to this age, the heroes that start to mean something to you are the ones that help you through living life and discovering who you are. If you’re lucky, you’ve already figured it out, but if you haven’t yet, you are like the vast majority of people that struggle with this very real quest.

The heroes that come to mind that have inspired me on my journey have been Dr. Wayne Dyer with his ageless wisdom. The type that is genuine, that understands we change as we age. Hopefully we become wiser for it, but we see things differently at different stages of life. He has taught me so many lessons on how to live a fuller more meaningful life.

Eckhart Tolle is a current world philosopher that makes sense out of living with gratitude, and living for the moment, the precious moment of now. When you read his books, or listen as I do with audiobooks, over and over, you can’t help but start to smile at the sun, see your life as precious every moment of every day, and start to wash the worry from your mind.

Both of these people have journeyed into a spiritual realm, learned something, and have taught all of us that have chosen to listen. They are modern day heroes in my books!

A line in a movie has struck a chord with me: “Not all treasure is silver and gold“. This comes from the Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl. It makes you think, what is the treasure you seek in life? What is your goal? What steps have you taken to align your daily life with that goal, that treasure?

Modern day heroes are a great way to find ways to inspire your path to your treasure. Maybe it’s working pout harder, helping the helpless, teaching the children, or finding our who you really are at your core.

Whatever you true path is, I hope you have a few heroes that inspire you each and every day. What hero would you add to this list? Who inspires you the most?

Come join us as we journey into meditation …

When we look at our selves, our inner being, it happens sometimes only fleetingly, little by little. If we want to seriously get to know who we are, we need to take the time to quiet our mind and simply be. All that we are and all that we have constructed will reveal itself in time.
This effort, of presenting free meditation classes to a local community is a fantastic way to sample a diverse range of meditation, facilitated by local masters of varying disciplines.
Check it out and register for some of the classes that intrigue you the most.
I guarantee the rooms will fill up fast and you won’t want to miss this event provided for the month of February only.
See you there!

COMMUNITY MEDITATIONS by donation

Vancouver FoundationVictoria Foundationquadra village

Together with the Vancouver Foundation, the Victoria Foundation and the Quadra Village neighbourhood small grants initiative, we bring you BLISS OF BEING – Free Community Meditations.  

Please join us on a journey into meditation with various forms of meditation practices and variety of wonderful, community minded, meditation teachers throughout the month of February.

Please register as space is limited.  

We look forward to a wonderful month of Bliss of Being.  

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Make Your Home Your Haven

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When I moved in to any apartment, it was the same routine: many of my boxes stayed packed and nothing went on my walls. That’s just the way it was. I didn’t feel like putting up any pictures or paintings or anything. I thought I might move again in the near future, so what was the use? It was a waste of time.

When I look at my history, my personal experiences, which evolved into my beliefs, I start to understand why. As a family, we moved every two years or so; sometimes every few months. I never stayed in the same school when I was young, but as I grew older I was able to travel enough to stay with my friends. We just didn’t have a lot of money. We made due, and we moved to when it made sense for us to do so. I guess I’ve taken that mentality, that expectation, with me for many years, even when I start to settle in to my own place after several years.

I’ve written about how I felt in other people’s places before, where there was warmth on the walls, photos, words of positive expression, creative wonders. It made me feel safe, warm, like I was home perhaps. Even as I never put things up in my home, the home that I grew up in was full of pictures and paintings, and every inch was used to express the history of our family.

It finally dawned on me to make a change, so, I started to create a space where the walls echoed what I desired to see in my life. They started to show me the fun times, the history of my son as he grew, some of my travels, and things that I connected with on a personal level. There are sayings and vision boards, and colourful expressions that remind me of my creative self, and the people I love in my life.

There it stayed for a time, and I liked it, but it was still a mash-up of a bachelor life and a desire for something greater, until I felt the time to move forward yet again, just recently. Now is that time when I have renewed my effort to create something even more special in my apartment that say it’s more than just a living room, it’s where I connect with others and myself.

I envision two couches facing one another: one a love seat for those I love to share it with, and one a full couch for me. Imagine, if you will, that they are placed near my patio sliding door for natural light, next to the heater for winter warmth. Sitting in the couch would be such a sensation as you nestle in to the half a dozen fluffy pillows that surround you, then sink your toes into the deep shag rug while you pull that ever so soft throw around your shoulders. The feeling of being softly covered, of protected in a way and wrapped in a bubble where you can let go of your stresses and worries and simply absorb all the good vibrations. That’s a good space!

Immediately adjacent to the sitting area our tea sits ready, steaming from a well used Japanese kiln-fired teapot, and two hand crafted pottery cups await our favourite flavours. In the background you catch the soft chimes of a water fountain while the soothing smells of lavender are relaxing your nerves. Did you just slip deeper into your seat? I think so.

Sitting face to face, we submerge our minds into a deep, satisfying conversation knowing that should either of us need to write down an idea, books, pens, and paper are situated close by to catch every single drop one. Our body may drift off to sleep, or we might become transfixed in our new book, but whatever the case, there remain plenty of options beside the old standard movie.

This face to face area is my Haven, my connection area that speaks not only to me but to my guests in a way that is comfortable to the body, mind, and spirit. Surrounded by visions of meaningful images and words, and plants, it gives me the sensation that I need to move from that spot, that all is well, that all is okay, and all are welcome to share it with me.

Whether in meditation contemplation, reflective thought, or conversing with a welcome guest, this is the place I envision creating to not only sustain me, but to enhance my spiritual and mental growth from within. This is my Grotto, my open Cave, my Haven.

This is a step beyond what I put on my walls and what I see. It really is the follow up to the rest of the sensations within me that ask for a greater connection with self.

In these times of stress, limited time, rushing around and errands, I used to feel like getting away, escaping in a movie, or finding solace in other ways. Now I am excited to create a special place in my otherwise ordinary apartment that is meaningful, lush, comforting, and as special as any getaway as I could imagine indoors!

I hope you can create a special place of your own that not only sustains you, but enhances your life in a special connective way for your own benefit and for those you chose to invite to it.

This is my winter task, and I am excited to create it step by step! I’ll keep journalling about all the steps I take as time progresses. May you find your own Haven no matter where you live.

Let Your Inside Out

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Life can be a struggle. It can be hard to adapt to new conditions. It can feed off our energy until it runs dangerously low, but if we are aware of what’s happening, often we can adapt, shift, and change our perspective to one of opportunity and challenge.

There is no good time for something other than right now. Have you ever felt something but never said it out loud? Have you suffered by keeping a thought to yourself because you never found the right time, or the right way to say something that could be seen as negative or indelicate? Now is that time. What comes out is what you say.

Can you deal with some mess in the spirit of communication? Can you agree that the first time your try it, that it might be wrong, that it might be construed differently that the way you anticipated it? Can we say that failure will be our greatest teacher? Attempt to fail many times and you will ultimately succeed!

That feeling in your gut that you get when you are in the middle of an uncomfortable situation is your body saying you are not living the true you. There is something yet uncovered inside of you that is literally bursting to come out!

I have spent a lot of effort on communication over the last couple years and it is really paying off. It’s been hard work learning what works for me, what works for others, accepting issues and failures, but always being willing to come back to the table and work things out has been key.

We are all adults right? So, lets treat each other like adults and not children and speak the truth to one another. Let’s be bold enough to be vulnerable in that truth and open with no shields up. Here it is, that is my truth, and I am vulnerable in telling it to you. That is courageous! That is bold and uncompromising!

In speaking it, we must remain aware of the power of the words we choose, and so much of what we attempt to say can be thwarted by the choice of the words we use to describe what we feel, and what we mean. Use your words carefully that describe only you. After all, it is only you that you want to share with another person. It is only you that reacts. Only you that needs to share. Only you that seeks validation, acknowledgement, clarity, and understanding. So share that part of you.

After cleaning house of my online environment so it reflects a more personal view of the world I desire to see, I am calmer. I have spent quality time with my family this summer and feel more connected. I have rekindled a connection with my son. I spend time with cherished friends. I have a wonderful, deep, connected relationship with my co-pilot of life that challenges me in every way to be a better person, and to seek the best in others, and find ways to share all I know, and what we have learned together with everyone I can.

I am so excited to start the process of bringing everything we have jointly learned to the public soon. It all comes in time, at the right moment. Our intentions are set, the attention is being given, and it rushes forward to meet us even now, and when it does we will be ready.

I love my role as a teacher so much. I want to break the mould of a traditional teacher and find ways to connect with my students on a more holistic level, to help prepare them for the real world as a human being, not just an engineering wizard. This too shall come. I will continue to explore the process of engagement until the right combination of approaches work. I love this journey!

My focus now turns inward. I have successfully surrounded myself with the people I desire to interact with and now I am choosing to look deep within. I want to recreate myself in the image I have in my mind. I want to become that which I know I am. I want to let go of my ego, of the thoughts of who I am and BE. Resurrect the being inside that gave me the uncomfortable gut feelings before I could speak up. I want to pull that essence from deep down inside the mud of my core, deep in the ocean of my senses, up to the surface.

Like the Sea Lion that stirs up the mud of substance to be given to the Raven who creates with it, I too will be recreated with less constraints, more wholeness, and less external agreements.

In doing so I will need to ground myself to my environment even more deeply than I have so far. I have come a long way from having no desire to cover my walls in anything, to having them full of images of life, sayings, positive words and phrases, and cultural vestiges that remind me I am but one in a world of many. I have come far, but need to dive deeper to create a nest, a Shangri-La, a haven.

I want it to be a place of deep grounding, where one can enter and feel completely safe to shed their external and internal layers, and be exposed in the warmth of understanding, communion, connection.

Couches facing one another next to natural light, plants that caress the ceiling and soften the edges. Books everywhere in nooks, and a place for tea and for being still. Areas to work on life’s challenges and soul stirring imagery of the Joie de Vivre!

This will be my focus this winter. Me and my space. Bringing it all home. Collapsing the circle to the centre of self, then re-expanding it outward to all when the time is right.

I had a dream last night that a sea lion kissed me in the ocean, then surrounded me while many other joined in. I felt alive, joyous, special, recognized, acknowledged, intimately joined, and I couldn’t help but think that it was somehow reflecting the steps I have taken in my life to be a better soul. To be the hero that I dream about, read about, want so badly to see walk the steps outside with me. That was truly a wonderful dream.

The journey never ends. Challenges never cease. What we do to observe the situation within and external to us is key in our awareness of self and allowing the full expression of who we are to come out in whatever form it may first take is paramount in the first tentative steps of giving a voice to who we really are.

Be who you are by listening to your inner voice and taking steps to let it sing. Do whatever steps you need to realize your full potential. I guarantee it will blow your mind!Inner and Outer

The Lightness of Being

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Light anyone?

I know it’s dark out there in the ‘real world’, but it doesn’t have to come home with us. The negative head space is rampant. It’s a sad, cruel world out there, right? Or is it?

Some would say it is. They make their living on it. It doesn’t sell, they say. Ugly, scary, fearful stories sell, attract people, get people talking, they say.

How are they? Why do we listen to them?

Well, I stopped watching television about six years ago. I think that really helped to free my mind. I would watch the news and that’s when they spoke most often. They spoke in advertisements. They were a part of my lessons and a part of my desires, and fantasies. They were speaking to me every day.

I stopped watching the news, and that made me feel more comfortable. I mean, when I thought about the community I lived in, and thought about the changes I saw here at home, they were few. They were measurable, and I could relate to them easily. Would my day be better, or would I live better knowing about the wars or negative stories around the world? They happen. They have always happened, but now I know about it. What difference has it made to me?

It has made me fearful. Scared about other people and their motivations. Wary. That’s not the community I live in, not is it the community that I want to live in. If I was going to be a productive positive member of the neighbourhood, I needed to make some changes in my environment. That was step one.

I was still watching TV documentaries and enlightening programs, but often the ads were stacked in the beginning of a popular show or movie. Finally, I got so mad that I was watching more advertisements in the first ten minutes of a program than the actual program, I cancelled my cable.

If I want movies I will get Netflix or some other service to give me what I want. A life almost free of advertising is quite nice. I feel calmer; more in control of my feelings. I feel more positive. I think freely more often.

I recently started ‘un-liking’ several news agencies on my Facebook news feed. This is my most recent step to minimize their exposure. The time of FB is meant to be with friends and family, and I don’t want that feeling to be interrupted by the negative press and all the vitreous comments that go with it.

The next step is to unfriend those that do this personally. I ask myself if what I post will lift people up or not. If it doesn’t, if I am even wavering on it, I will not post it. I want to be a light in a world, in a society that casts a pall of darkness on us. The news outlets are run by those that profit from big money ventures, and that is fear, war, politics, and capitalism. I know that. It’s classic capitalism at it’s finest, or worst, depending on your perspective, so I get the motivation to make it that way. It doesn’t mean I need to accept it.

I choose light over dark. I choose to say nice things to people that are genuine because I know it’s rare and their is value in it. I endeavour to listen to understand before I respond.

Some like sarcasm. Some like to warn us of things, many of which are myths. Few build us up. Those that do are valuable and I build them up too. The time I spend on the computer at home is valuable to me. I am giving it my full attention. It will be the environment that I create for myself, or I will not go there.

We all have the power to create the environment we need in order to feel happy, unrestricted, free. To some people the changes I have made in my personal life may sound drastic, but I have read more books in the last few years than ever and I feel more genuinely enlightened by the various viewpoints I can hold on to at once than I ever did before.

I may not know who did what the next day, or what country was invaded next, but I do know what store is in my neighbourhood, I think about ways to engage my neighbours, I get outside more often, I feel happier about life, and I love talking to people…about anything.

The internet and any social network that people may use is highly customizable, just like your real friends list. Take advantage of it and make it the best experience it can be for YOU. I know I will.

This reminds me of a great article I read about leaving (can’t find the link). Be ready to leave anything…a movie you paid for [you can often get a full refund before 20 minutes is up], a conversation that goes nowhere, a circle of friends that does not build you up, a course that isn’t what you thought, a bad lecture, a relationship that holds you back. By the same token, give your heart to what you do believe in, or who you believe in, and fight for them, shout in their corner, support them furiously.

Creating a custom online experience is a part of taking back control of your life for the person you aspire to be. That’s always a journey, so make the journey your own. Make it personal, and make it exactly what you want it to be. It will give you the positive feedback you need when you hit those all too frequent stumbling blocks, or um, teachable moments we all get.

A good friend told me that whenever she becomes aware of a negative or judging thought, he immediately thinks of what she is grateful about. When you put your mind to a thought that is grateful, perhaps for being witness to something negative that reminds us about what we have in life, we lose all negativism. Our mind calms. We gain perspective, and we change our body chemistry for the better. That’s what being a beacon is all about. Be a beacon not just for everyone else, but for yourself too!

PS, those that know of the book or film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, (author: Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí) may see a link to being a source of light, and living the one life we have to live; the lightness theory.

Values versus Beliefs

Learning about beliefs and values is a journey we could all benefit from.

Inspire Your Mind, Body & Spirit

I came upon this question today, and mean to sort this out by means of this post for those that may be interested. Often I have seen these terms, beliefs and values, used interchangeably in the Mission or Values Statements of organizations, however my guts tells me they are not the same. Naturally, I went wandering through the internet to have a look.

Jodi asked me what my values are. ‘Good question’ I thought. I could’t recall a time that the question was put to me, or I actively thought about it. Often one value or a conflict may come about regarding beliefs in general, but thinking about it with no real context is a perfect question. It made me think.

First, lets look at some definitions.

Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove…

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Celebrate Your Complexity

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Much of our popular world tries to boil down ideas to top ten lists, black and white, this or that. We love to label, describe, analyse, and understand complex systems in simple terms. Many times people try to nail down the complexity of the human condition and the infinite wonder of our mind, into a textbook, a thesis, a simplified solution set, but there is a negative consequence of only seeing only that side of us.

We are magnificent beings, full of mystery yet to be discovered, and I wonder aloud many times, what is it that we need to uncover? What do we need to simplify? What boundaries are we searching for?

To what end is the search for limits in a boundless universe?

I contend that we are in fact complex, boundless, beings capable of so much more than we could ever imagine. If one person grew up from inception to adulthood with no limits, no records of achievement of other people to box in what we perceive is possible, what would that person be like? How would they talk? how would they act?

We spend an inordinate amount of time and energy avoiding fearful events. That may have served us many years ago, and our brain may not have yet evolved beyond it, but are we not holding it there, happy to avoid the fear we imagine?

In fact, the avoidance of fear is a pitfall, a trap that will have us looking at the world in an adversarial mindset. It will pit us against them, will strike up negative feelings when the ‘world’ lashes out at us, and we will make excuses for why that happened. We will strive to do better, to be more prepared, to see the causes of that event and prepare against them, expanding our fear, not reducing it.

Fear does not like to feel fear, it is afraid of it in fact (see The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, page 71). This struggle in life is one of nonacceptance, of strife, and it is uncomfortable for you and I and everyone around us. We have defined our life by what keeps us safe, and we have missed the bountiful life that surrounds us in its entirety.

In our attempt to keep us safe, a seemingly good task, we have doomed us to a sliver of reality and paranoia. One way to release our grasp on the phantom tiller of the ship that takes us through our life’s journey is to let it go. We have no real control what happens to us, so why pretend?

When we let go of the sense of control, something wonderful happens: we breathe easier. The tenseness inside us subsides, and colour begins to flow back in to our unrestricted veins. Let me give you a concrete example.

Picture a commuter in a car heading to work in the morning. Maybe this is what you do, maybe you get up early to avoid the rush hours, to avoid all the traffic, but for many people in North America it is a daily routine. We spend our lives driving here and there in the most efficient way possible, by finding the best route, by listening to the radio for any accidents or congestion, we may even look at the news before we leave our home for that last bit of info. We are waging a war on the traffic, as if it is an organism that must be beaten every day. We take control with our hands around our steering wheel and weave our journey feeling in absolute control of our route to work.

Do you think that person is relaxed or tense? Wouldn’t you rather relax, read the newspaper, and gaze out the window while on your way to work or school? Many people have traded in the commute by car for a commute by train or bus for just this reason. They have decided to move close to work to reduce that stress in their lives. they have decided to give up on that control of holding the steering wheel for an entirely different way to get to work.

The feeling when you are a passenger, if you can relax as one, and a driver is completely different, even if you are in the same vehicle.

When we get stuck in thinking there is only one way to live, we oversimplify our life’s apparent choices. We tend to work within our self defined limitations without looking at the more holistic view of how we live our life.

Feeling fearful and working to subdue the universe in order to ‘feel safe’ is one such journey of holding the wheel of life and creating a binary version of life, when it was meant to be so much more.

We are complex beings. We feel so many emotions. Have you ever been at a loss for words about just how you feel? Have you felt more than one emotion at one time? Have you felt a rapid shift of emotions as a scene unfolds in front of you? Could you imagine communicating that to someone if they asked “How do you feel?”

We are more like this cyclical relationship that constantly changes depending on our present viewpoint and ever-changing perception of reality. How can we contend with the seemingly merciless barrage of feelings that we are subjected to every day?

First of all, I would tell myself it’s okay to be this way. It’s okay to feel a multitude of feelings all at once, and we can express that to the best of our ability. A great way to deal with situation if another is asking about you is to say “I am feeling various emotions right now, and I would like to sit with them for a moment to see which ones stay with me”

In time the emotions that are most reflective of our inner struggles will stay with us. we need but enjoy the myriad of emotions and bodily feelings that our being was gifted with. We have an incredible diversity of feelings that we need not discern to the nth degree, that we need not understand all aspects about in scientific terms, we need only realise that they are a beautiful readout of where we are right then.

They tell us where we are on the journey of enlightenment, like maps to where we could put some thoughtful energy. Do you need to know what a feeling is called in order to feel it? No, you need but sit with it and befriend it, asking yourself why it is choosing to reveal itself to you at this moment. In feeling it, it talks to you and says more than any textbook.

We have been given a beautiful array of feedback mechanisms that will guide us to our ultimate destiny if we can see them, feel them, sit and relax with them. In doing so we can be less concerned with how to name them, and more aware of what they mean to show us.

I strive to no longer filter my emotions, nor attach myself to them, or hold back what I feel, or try to stay calm in all situations like a stolid silent archetype of days gone by, but as a real, living, breathing human being that is exceedingly open, sensitive, and complex, just like you.

Warning: Living this kind of life will take time to master, but it will be joyous, fun, and can bring about the wondrous feeling of the magic of youth!

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