Monday, May 13, 2013

Excuses

Excuses. We have all made them at one time or another. Some people are more gifted than others in this department. Are you or do you know someone who breaks promises, places blame on others, or does not take responsibility for personal behavior? Always procrastinating? Never on time? Known for missing appointments? And then offers up a million and one excuses? No one wants to count on someone who is not accountable.

According to the dictionary, making an excuse means "to explain a fault or an offense in the hope of being forgiven or understood."

Excuses are comfortable lies we tell ourselves so that we can avoid responsibility. They are cleverly engineered traps. And we fall into them regularly.

Chronic excuse-makers are nothing more than habitual liars, not only to others, but to themselves.

Making excuses can have a detrimental effect on your reputation, your life, your career, and your relationships. The more excuses you make the more likely you will be labeled as undependable, defensive, or paranoid. People will begin to lose respect, especially if they can't trust you.

For many years, I worked with someone who habitually missed appointments that he himself scheduled. Staff members would show up at his office only to be told to wait. And wait. And wait. He was a no-show ninety-five percent of the time. The other ten percent of the time, he'd show up late only to reschedule the appointment, and he'd pull the no-show act again. This frustrated people because he disrespected their time and worth. There were times when we actually conducted committee meetings without him, even though he organized them! Then he'd make his grand entrance with his grand excuses as if he were the only one with a busy schedule. One time he emailed me to meet with him. I purposely did not show because of his track record. When I ran into him a few days later, he apologized for not making it to the meeting, to which I replied, "Neither did I." Do unto others...

He wasn't too pleased, but he got the point.

Did it change him? No. He's still the same even though a number of people have confronted him on the issue.

If you find yourself constantly making excuses for your behavior, it's time to change, and the solution lies within your control.

First, confront yourself. Admit that you make excuses. Take a long, hard look at your excuse-making behavior and resolve to change it. It's not going to resolve itself until you take positive, corrective action.

Second, develop a plan of corrective action for yourself. For each offense that you have committed, write down what you can do to correct it. For example, if you are typically a late-arriver, be courteous and let people know your status so they are not left wondering and stewing. If someone tells you to be somewhere at 10 a.m., write it down for 9:30 a.m. Have a friend witness your plan of action to hold you accountable.

Third, take the heat without blame. Learn to apologize without giving a dissertation of an explanation. Take ownership of your behavior. Of course, don't let habitual fault-finders try to undermine your confidence as you reinvent your attitude.

Fourth, quit with the complaints. Complaining isn't going to get you out of the mess you've created. Taking responsibility will.

Fifth, find solutions instead of creative justifications. Set up a system to remind you of important tasks, meetings, and get-togethers.

Sixth, ask for help. Put your faith in a higher power that will guide you. Doing self-work is not always easy. Surround yourself with a support system.  If you need professional help, seek it by all means, especially if it means saving your relationships.

Taking the steps to confront excuse-making opens up a door to a new you as you reinvent yourself.  When you put a personal plan in place to help you remain accountable, you'll find your life changing for the better.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Spiritual Approach To Illness

Jesus's admonition to "love your neighbor as yourself" not only applies to the people around us but to any thing close to us.

What about illness?  Dis-ease?  Afflictions? Are these not our closest neighbors at times? As much as we try to eat healthy and try to maintain ourselves through exercise, sometimes the immune system breaks down and is overcome by bacterial or viral invaders. When illness becomes our closest neighbor, it is closer than any family member or friend.

So, how does one treat illness as a neighbor?

In the Orient, the body is viewed as a finely balanced unity of interdependent parts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Our body is a living entity made of mind, body, and spirit. There is no separation; all three are one. Each part blends harmoniously with the rest of the body. When one part is out of alignment, the rest of the parts do not function as optimally as they should. What can be done to get back into alignment?

We can take a spiritual attitude toward illness. When we do, we make friends with it.  Instead of becoming adversarial toward it, treat it as a part of your being.  Seek to cooperate with it.  Pain is the body's way of telling us that it needs love and attention to become whole again so that it can work harmoniously with the rest of the body.  If we hate it, it will hate us back, bringing more pain and suffering.  Many times, working with an illness rather than against it leads us to a change of heart.  We begin to see it as a messenger rather than an enemy that has come calling about some kind of imbalance that needs to be integrated back into our lives.  Integrating it means accepting it and approaching it with a loving attitude. Since the body, mind, and spirit harmonize as one, illnesses can lead us to discover that most of the causes stem from some kind of emotional upset, imbalance, or trauma.

For example, maybe you contracted (attracted) a sore throat. Instead of hating it, try visualizing light around your throat area. Tell your throat you are grateful for its function in your body. It allows air to pass through to your lungs. It allows food to travel into your stomach. It allows you to communicate. Tell your throat you love it and see it in your mind's eye as healthy instead of inflamed. Thank your throat for its message and tell it that it's time for the soreness to go to the light for healing and transformation. Note any "messages" that you may hear.  Since the throat represents communication, maybe there is something that you need to express but haven't, either to yourself or to someone else. Illnesses allow us to reflect on our lives. When we are honest in our reflection, we find the emotional cause behind the illness and the emotional healing that comes. As we release it in love, healing will occur much more quickly than if we continually focus on the pain.

Does this mean not to go to the doctor?  No.  Sometimes a doctor's advice and medication are needed. And we have the choice to participate in our own healing, or not.

Illness is a powerful teacher. Nothing gets our attention quite like it.  As we cooperate with it and work on integrating balance back into our lives lovingly, we take control of the healing process in a powerful way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Getting High

I like getting high.

No, not on illegal substances.

On life.

While some people pop pills to find their happy place, I pop uppers of a different kind.  They are all-natural. They have no dangerous side-effects. And the best part: they are free!

Doing drugs never appealed to me.  Even during some of the lowest points of my life, I never entertained the thought of doing any kind of dance with drugs.  Doing drugs is the equivalent of selling one's soul.  It says to the Universe, "I can't handle life on my own," and so one's life is placed in the grip of a destructive force.  Such people don't realize it is of their own doing.  I've known too many people who've lost their will, their fight, and their lives.  Instead of taking control of their circumstances, they allowed circumstances (and chemicals) to control and ultimately destroy them.  Drugs became the guru they parroted; "Polly-wanna-crack-pipe" their mantra. Sad.

My drug of choice that takes me to my happy place is the Source within.  When I tap into it, I go places where no chemical substance could ever take me.  There are many ways to get there; I've tried a lot of approaches to experience different kinds of highs.

To get into what I call the "zen zone," remove yourself from as many distractions as possible to quiet your mind and/or to relax your body.  You can lie down, sit with a straight back, or kneel, and perform deep breathing exercises (you can also meditate, pray, or chant in any of these positions).  If you are more of a kinesthetic person, you can dance, whirl, do yoga, tai chi or simply go for a walk in nature.  If you are creative, you can paint, sketch or draw, or craft, mold, or sculpt.  Find what works best for you.  When you connect with the "right" activity, you connect with the Universe like a plug in a socket.  An exchange of energy begins to flow that allows you to raise your vibration.  "Happy" chemicals enter the bloodstream, elevating your mood and your consciousness.  The more you practice, the higher you go.  The higher you go, the lighter you feel.  The lighter you feel, the more connected you become. And then...the rush...the waves of ecstasy keep coming and coming and coming. Congratulations...you've reached a "joygasm."  Once you've had one, you keep going back for more.

Being in this zone is being in alignment with universal energies, laws, and love.  This is where creation happens.  When we attune ourselves, we open our minds and hearts to something greater than ourselves.  As we affirm our intentions and express our appreciation through the practice of gratitude, the Universe attaches itself to our dominant vibration and begins to work its magic in order to manifest our desires.  We start attracting things like a powerful magnet.  The Universe will give and give and give as long as we allow it to give.

Affirm.  Appreciate.  Attract.  When you sign up for AAA,  you'll get much more than a tow!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shift Happens


Let's face it.  We have our good days and our bad days.  Things happen that affect our moods.  It used to drive me nuts when someone would say, "Think positive," or "Keep your chin up," as I faced challenging times.  Nothing like the obvious to irritate you.  I knew that thinking positively would help me, but I wanted to know how to get there when I felt anything but positive.  When my friend and spiritual mentor Merv told me to practice gratitude, no matter the situation, my eyes and heart opened, and things began to change for the better.  Something shifted inside.  I began to feel lighter in my being.

Giving gratitude for what you have is a great success technique when you need to raise your level of vibration from the depths.  Well, why should I give thanks? one may ask.  Well, why not?  You'll actually do more harm than good by staying at a lower vibration.  Giving gratitude is a spiritual practice that will elevate your mood.  As you voice (or think) your thanks, you emit positive energy out into the Universe.  The Universe responds in kind by giving you more of those things for which you are grateful because it is a law by which the Universe abides.  It wants to give.

Another way to help you raise your vibration is to use the Emotional Guidance Scale* which charts 22 of our emotions.  The lower one goes on the scale, the unhappier that person is.  The higher, the happier.  One doesn't have to work through each one to get higher on the scale.  Ask yourself where you are emotionally on this scale.  Then through positive self-talk, move yourself up.  Give gratitude for moving up.  Do things that make you feel happy.  Before you know, things have shifted and you find yourself moving right along.  You feel better.

EMOTIONAL GUIDANCE SCALE:

1 . Joy/Appreciation/Empowered/Freedom/Love
2 . Passion
3 . Enthusiasm/Eagerness/Happiness
4 . Positive Expectation/Belief
5 . Optimism
6 . Hopefulness
7 . Contentment
8 . Boredom
9 . Pessimism
10. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience
11. Overwhelmingness
12. Disappointment
13. Doubt
14. Worry
15. Blame
16. Discouragement
17. Anger
18. Revenge
19. Hatred/Rage
20. Jealousy
21. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness
22. Fear/Grief/Depression/Despair/Powerlessness

Let's say you are feeling angry because someone you love said something derogatory to you.  Not only did it anger you, but it made you feel insecure and unworthy.  What you are feeling has tripled and now you are carrying a very heavy load of emotional baggage.  And you are telling yourself, "That jerk.  How could he say that to me?  Am I really that way?  Maybe I am!  I feel so terrible about myself.  I'm worthless.  He's right."  Now you've really piled it on! How do you even begin to change this?

Acknowledge how you feel.  Admit your pain.  Then give thanks for moving up the scale.  Begin thinking about things that make you feel happy.  Think about all the kind words that others have said about you.  And hold on to those thoughts.  Your self-talk may be something like, "He has know idea who I am.  What he said is merely his perception, not mine.  People have always commented on what a good person I am.  They have told me how kind I am.  I AM a kind person!  I AM a good person! No one can stop me from being me!"  Suddenly all that emotional baggage is gone.  You've shifted and moved up the emotional scale.  As you hold on to those positive thoughts, you automatically let go of the old, negative ones because you can't hold both a positive and a negative thought at the same time.  You may vacillate between the two, but the more energy you give to the positive, the better you feel, and the higher you go on the emotional scale.

When shift happens, give gratitude!

*Emotional Guidance Scale as used in Ask And It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks, pg. 114.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Got Purpose?


If we are to manifest what we want into our lives, we need to have purpose, and we need to be specific in what we want. Knowing our purpose propels us forward; it is what drives us. When we know our purpose, when we hold it in the forefront of our minds and close in our hearts, we will do what is necessary to prioritize. First things first; second things never. Here's to making your dreams a reality.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cafe Universe - Now Open!

Welcome to Cafe Universe!  This is the place where you can order anything you want for your life.  And it's free!  With Spirit as our partner and co-creator, there is nothing we can't manifest in our lives.  All you have to do is state exactly what you want.  If happiness is what you are craving, then satisfy that spiritual appetite by stating what you want in the present tense; that is, state it as if you already have it in your life.  For example, you can say, "I am feeling happy," or "I am happy," or "I exist in a state of happiness."  It doesn't matter how you word it as long as it is positively worded in the present tense. Repeat as necessary. If it sounds simple that's because it is.  

Most people want to improve their lives in terms of relationships/love, health, happiness, and/or money but they have no idea how to go about bringing these things into existence.  They pour time and energy into thinking about it, but they stop short of taking any type of action toward making these things happen.  Many times it is fear that stops people.  But by taking the first step to vocalize or think about what you want as if you already have it in your life actually alchemizes the process.  That's because the Universe operates by special laws, one of them being the Law of Attraction, which basically states that positive thoughts and feelings are magnets for positive life experiences.  It works in reverse, too -- negative thoughts and feelings attract more of the same, so this is where one must attune one's thinking to the positive instead of the negative.  Basically, if you have a specific desire, focus joyfully -- not negatively -- on that desire and it will be fulfilled.  

Ask yourself what you are feeling at this very moment.  This is important because what you feel is a determining factor in manifesting (or not) what you want in your life.  If what you want is to be happy, but in your core you are feeling fear, the two don't match.  They are two different emotional frequencies.  One cancels the other out.  In this case, you need to raise your vibration from one of fear to one of happiness by participating in things that actually make you happy.  Studies show that when one is actively engaged in activities that make one happy, seratonin and/or endorphins (the "happy hormone") release into the bloodstream thus elevating a person's overall mood.  When you feel good, you'll want to keep doing those things that make you feel good.  Of course, giving gratitude for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don't have, is a great tool to use to help lift you higher on the emotional scale. Tools such as daily journaling, creating vision boards, and employing visualization techniques are some of the many ways to help you align yourself with your bliss.  Find what works for you to keep you elevated vibrationally.  

As you begin to change for the better, people will take notice.  They will wonder what your "secret" is.  Of course, you can share this information with them so that they can improve their lives.  And if they say, "Thanks, but no thanks," then allow them to move on to continue attracting what they will attract while you go on creating the life you want.  Send love and light to them with the hope that they find happiness at some point in their lives. 

Why not help yourself to generous portions of peace, love, joy, and happiness?  The Universe wants to serve you your dreams.  Grab a seat at the counter and place your order.



Friday, May 3, 2013

Dreams

Being put on hold can be frustrating, especially when you need to resolve something. How do you think the Universe feels when you put your dreams on hold?

Everyone has dreams for their lives. Some people dream of fame and fortune, traveling to exotic lands, or becoming an entrepreneur. For others, their dreams consist of being reunited with loved ones, growing a cause, or serving others.  

But when we put our dreams on hold, we are essentially pushing them away with the message, "No, you're not important enough to manifest into my life at this time." Dreams fade, or worse yet, they die, never to be resuscitated. And a piece of us dies in the process.  

Our dreams are not meant to die. They are meant to manifest. When we enter into partnership with Source, we are agreeing to move forward together toward accomplishing those dreams. If we want our lives to have meaning, we need to take the steps necessary to bring forth that meaning. This means making the conscious decision to begin realizing your dreams. The doors will open, and the Universe will begin revealing what you need to do to continue.  

The Universe wants to manifest your dreams; it is open for business! Always has been. Always will be.  



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Meditation on Breath

Stop whatever you are doing.
Just breathe.

Breathe deep.
Breathe slow.

Feel your chest expand.
Feel it contract.

Give gratitude for every single breath you take.
Each breath is the heartbeat of the Universe.

Our breath is much more than a physical exercise of oxygen in, oxygen out. It’s an act we do day by day, minute by minute. Without it, we’d have no physical life. Physical breathing is necessary for energy production and body functions. It is a miracle we seem to take for granted.

Ruah is the Hebrew word for breath. Interestingly, it is also the word for spirit. Our breath is the animating spirit that flows in and through us. As we breathe, the Universe breathes. This is our life force. When we approach breath in this context, we understand it as a divine gift.

Our state of mind affects the way we breathe. When you are frustrated, angry, or agitated, your breathing quickens; it tends to become shallow. But when you are feeling peaceful, your breath slows and deepens.

Just as your state of mind affects the way you breathe, the way you breathe also affects your state of mind. Since breath reflects our mental state, you can intentionally guide your breath to become slow and calm. Calming the breath calms the mind. Breathwork is used in many spiritual traditions. One can practice pranayama, or breath exercises, to increase one’s life force.

Breathing deeply and slowly connects us with our Inner Source. As we become conscious of our breath, we begin to understand it as an extension of the life force. Spirit is closer than our next breath because it is our breath.



Artwork courtesy Google Images.  Artist Melanie Weidner, "Deep Breath," 2005.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Doing "It"

Today is the day to do the "it" you have always talked about but have never taken the steps to do.  How many times have you said things like, "I'll do it when I have more time" or "I'll take that trip after I get out of debt" or "I'll join the gym after I lose some weight," only to find yourself never having done any of it?  Instead your find yourself with less time, less money, and more weight gain than ever before, pushing your goals and dreams further and further away.  Today is the day to stop procrastinating and to start doing.  Today is the day to change your thinking so you can change your life.

If you always think about attracting and living a better life, but remain inactive in doing anything about it, you're not going to get anywhere at all.  It's time to get off of the couch of inertia.  It's time to make changes.  Many people don't get started because they don't always know where to start.  It starts by affirming to yourself, "I am starting today.  I am starting NOW.  Today is the day."  Let this become a mantra as you begin.  Your self-talk is an important step because as you affirm positive phrases to yourself, your brain actually begins to create neural pathways for your new thoughts and affirmations to travel.  Old habits begin to die away as new ones are formed.  Research shows that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to ingrain itself into our psyche and into our lives.  Just as a musician must rehearse or an athlete must train, daily repetition of positive thinking and affirmations becomes second nature and sets the universal law of attraction into motion, especially when you put positive emotion behind your words and action.

The next thing to do is to make a list of the things you are going to accomplish.  You can write them down in bullet form, or if you are the creative sort, you can create a vision board with photos, drawings, sketches, and word art.  Keep your list or vision board in a place where you will see it every single day to remind you of your goals and dreams.  You can create a smaller list to carry in your purse or wallet.  The trick is to keep it readily available as a constant reminder.  Read through your list every morning when you awake, every evening before bed, and during any part of the day when you are between tasks.  Daily visualization of your goals and dreams as you affirm positively with your self-talk helps to build momentum in your life.  Your thoughts are pure energy; this energy flows where your attention goes.  Make your goals and dreams your dominant thoughts throughout the day.  See that goal or dream in your mind's eye as already existing in your life.

The third thing to do is to express your gratitude.  Any wisdom tradition or spiritual teacher will tell you that giving gratitude for all that you have will increase more of those things in your life. This allows you to align with Source as partners in a dynamic relationship of creation.  As you envision your goals and dreams, give thanks to Source for manifesting them into your life.

It sounds too simple to be true, but by incorporating positive affirmations, visualization, and gratitude into your daily life, your life will begin to change, and you will be on your way to a better, happier you.  Now is the time.  Do "it" today.