Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Expecting The Unexpected -- Embracing Unpredictability

The Boy Scouts have a mantra: Be prepared.

While much of the beauty of life lies in the unexpected -- finding $20 on the street or meeting someone who turns out to be the love of your life -- there are some things you just can't prepare for -- like going through a break-up, losing your job, or being diagnosed with cancer.

We go from feeling elated to feeling deflated.
Photo Courtesy Google Images
Photo Courtesy Google Images

This is what happens when life throws us a curveball. When it hits, it can be a challenge to face. Turns of fortune, both positive and negative, require us to be flexible and to reconsider our plans and priorities, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

The ability to accept what is happening and let go of our original expectations is key when dealing with these unexpected turns.

We have a tendency to get stuck in our own heads. We cling to ideas of how we think life should go, and when things don't go as planned, we find it difficult accepting anything that does not comply with those ideas.

Curveballs are the Universe's way of keeping us on our toes; it doesn't want our lives to stagnate or to lose purpose and meaning.

What can be done?

Expect the unexpected. Things will happen out of the blue and we can't predict when they will happen. Life is unpredictable, and no one is immune. This does not mean to live in a state of fear or dread. Things happen, and it is up to us to create a context for meaning, if we so choose. We can fear it, or we can embrace it.

This too shall pass. It's okay not to be okay...for now. Feelings of despair are natural when difficult situations unexpectedly occur. Know that these feelings are temporary as is the situation you're in. Give yourself time to grieve and process.

You're not alone. Tough times affect people from all walks of life. We all find ourselves in situations we did not expect and are unsure of how to deal with them. Talk with others who have faced similar situations. Having a support system and coping mechanisms in place will help you grow through this.

Drop back and punt. This is a time-out from what was originally expected or planned. Take this time to reassess the situation. This is not a time to cry, "Why me?" No one is exempt from life's unpredictability. Reevaluate your expectations. Many times we allow our expectations to interfere with the joy a natural flow offers.

Change your course of thinking and you change your course of action. So, your party wasn't the success you had expected. Do you fret over those who did not show? Or do you enjoy quality time with those few who did show?

Acknowledge what happened and keep on living. Take each day at a time, and in that day, take it hour by hour, moment by moment. Time is the best healer, especially in a situation you wish were different. What happened, happened, and you can't change what happened. You can only move forward. Remember that you are in control of your life, and you can choose how to live in the aftermath.

Look for the "blesson." Some would call this the silver lining in those clouds that sometimes overshadow our days. As a friend of mine says, "There's a blesson in it -- a lesson with a blessin' -- and it's for your highest good. Learn from it and then use it to bless others who are hurting."

Curveballs are not seemingly random events in our lives. Something led up to it. There is an order to the Universe of which we are a part, whether we realize it or not. We may not always understand the reason for certain unexpected things happening, but we can draw strength from knowing that there is a greater plan in play. Things happen for our highest good, and when we align our thinking to this, then there really is nothing to fear. The "good" will be revealed, if not on our timetable, on the Divine's.

We always get (attract) what is best or right for us. Sometimes we may need to duck or dodge or alter our game plan when a curveball comes into our lives. The rules change and so do our expectations. We get to see and approach things differently. The next time one comes your way, take a deep breath, say thank you, and open your mind to a new opportunity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let Your Gut Be Your Guide: Guest Blogger Milla Milunovich

Our bodies are amazing. They feel. They grow. They move. They create.

But when the body is out of sync, it hurts, it bleeds, it oozes, it limps, it bloats, it aches, and so on. When this happens, it needs to heal to get back into its harmonious rhythm and alignment.

Guest blogger and author Milla Milunovich, a practicing naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist, shares her thoughts about digestive health and what you can do to reboot your body’s natural rhythms. Her new book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems is now available.

digestive health
Photo Courtesy Google Images
milla - edited version
Here's Milla:

Let’s face it. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than feeling sluggish, tired, and bloated from an improper diet. It limits what we can do and cramps our lifestyle, literally.

It takes the joy out of living.

There are so many digestive health problems that it is not possible to list them all. While individual symptoms can be similar, each case is unique.

A common and sometimes embarrassing issue that many suffer is constipation. Technically, constipation is not a digestive problem; rather, it is an elimination problem. But in the context of all digestive problems, constipation is only one part of it, but it is a very important part.

Without proper elimination, the body quickly starts to exhibit “ill” symptoms: weakening digestion due to gut toxicity, improper absorption of nutrients, imbalance of gut flora, and stagnation of vital forces in the body. The body’s natural rhythms get interrupted and do not work efficiently or effectively. Such misalignment invites a host of other disorders and diseases.

The other day I read a mother’s story about her two-year-old child, who suffered from a severe case of constipation. Her daughter developed this condition from the time she started solid foods and did not suffer from constipation while being breast-fed. The surgeon suggested that her daughter undergo surgery for constipation. He said he’d remove her whole gut, feed her through tubes for six months, and then return it. How extreme!

What this girl needs is a change in diet, not surgery. She had developed a severe case after going on solid foods that were not natural. Food devoid of fibre and natural enzymes (enzymes break down 60 - 70% of ingested food) and loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and additives leads to constipation and kills probiotics (good bacteria) that live in our gut. Without these we can not lead a healthy life or survive.
The body has been designed to eat, digest, and utilise nutrients in order to keep us healthy. Likewise, it has been designed to eliminate the remnants of food that we do not need. If we eat highly processed foods instead of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and fruit, if we do not support friendly bacteria (probiotics), constipation occurs. Left untreated, it can lead to other physical, mental, and emotional disorders. Sufferers can grow irritable, intolerant, and fatigued. They may lack endurance and are frequently ill. Some may start to fear evacuating what is meant to be evacuated.

To keep our natural rhythms flowing on a daily basis, it is important to:

  • Eat vegetables and fruits
  • Prepare healthy, home-cooked meals
  • Eat digestive protein and fibre
  • Eliminate preservatives, sugar, additives, and food enhancers such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and hydrolised vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Avoid processed, pre-made foods

Living consciously means making healthy choices for our bodies. If our bodies are out of alignment, our lives will be out of alignment, and we will miss out on the joy of living. Let your gut be your guide.

More about this and other digestive problems can be found in Milla’s book Natural Remedies For Common Digestive Problems.

Please comment, share, or leave any questions for Milla in the comment section below.

Milla Milunovich is a Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Usui Reiki Master. Her practice allows her to work one-on-one with clients. She also employs iridology and flower essences in her consultations. She is especially interested in digestive health. "I think the old saying 'Death sits in the gut' is very true -- if the gut has problems, it will affect the whole body." As an alternative practitioner, Milla says she respects science while also respecting spirituality and its effect on humanity as a whole. "I believe that alternative health has its place with spirituality and conventional medicine to ensure a holistic approach when it comes to physical and mental healing and well being. In her spare time, Milla likes to paint. Milla works in Sydney, Australia.  You can e-mail Milla at milla.milunovich@gmail.com.
Milla's book is a practical guide to natural remedies for common and sometimes embarrassing digestive health issues using modern and traditional treatments. Suggested remedies rely on a holistic approach utilizing herbs, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and other ingredients to not only treat the observed symptoms but also resolve the underlying health problem. Order it here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Two Words To Stop Saying

I marvel at my neighbors who compete with one another when it comes to who has the greenest lawn, the best landscaped beds, or the most beautiful curbside appeal.

While it’s a precisely manicured neighborhood, it is high maintenance for its owners who spend a lot of their free time working at keeping their yards in pristine condition.

Thank God I live on a dead end street. I have a nice lawn; it’s not fancy, but I maintain it with the help of a lawn service. I keep it simple because I like low maintenance.

On my walks through the neighborhood, I watch how many of these neighbors covet the lawns of others. Of course, the old adage, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” comes to mind.

For some, there will always be the other side of the fence, where things look better.

How many times have we said to ourselves that we would feel better if only…if only we had a different job, a different car, more money; if only we were smarter, thinner, faster; if only I had said this or done that…if we were anything other than what we are, we would feel better.

But if we can’t be happy as we are, where we are, chances are we won’t be happy anywhere else.

Our answers and satisfaction are not somewhere “over there.” Wholeness, perfection, happiness…call it what you will…is not something to be chased after. It’s something to be claimed.

If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it’s because it only appears that way to us when we have lost our ability to recognize and appreciate the beauty and the blessing of what’s right in front of us (or directly beneath our own feet).

Just as untended weeds can overtake a lawn, “if only” statements can wreak havoc on your emotions and your life. These statements crowd your mental space, piling on all sorts of unwanted emotions. The more you let them take root in your mind, the more they will spread into other areas of your life. What an exhausting way to live, always comparing and competing and wishing for the better. No wonder there’s no room for happiness. . .there’s no place for it to grow!

Those two tiny words have dire consequences. STOP. SAYING. THEM.

Invoking the power of “if only” is a trick of the ego, causing you to look outside of yourself rather than within. Behind these two words are either procrastination or over-competitiveness, envy, and a fear of not measuring up.

What you think, what you speak, what story you tell about yourself to yourself — those words become your reality. The more you whine or complain about your state of unhappiness, the more you doom yourself to attract more things to whine and complain about. It’s how the universe works; there’s no way around that. Rather than have it work against you with your whining and complaining, make it work for you by choosing better words.

If you want to change your reality, then you must change your story, and if you’re going to tell a better story, then you must change your wording. Start cultivating a better self-talk vocabulary.

Stop looking over the fence and start appreciating the blessings that are already present in your life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Lucky!

four leaf clover

With St. Patty's Day approaching, our minds fill with leprechauns, pots of gold, shamrocks, and everything green. We also think about the luck of the Irish.

But luck is not reserved only for the Irish.

Luck is available to everyone. It is an abundance mindset. And it's waiting to be claimed by you.

Can people really enhance the amount of luck they encounter in life?

Of course. It begins with attitude.

How do you define luck? Is it something that is out of your control? Do you expect something or someone to magically appear from the heavens to instantly improve your life?

Luck is not a passive thing; it's something we create for ourselves. Sitting around waiting for luck to happen to you instead of creating it can generate negativity and resentment, forcing you to see other people's good fortune as the result of luck rather than good choices. Change your thinking on this! See luck as an emotion. Just as you can decide to be happy, you can decide to be lucky. Rather than waiting for changes to happen, take action to bring about a more positive change. Expect luck. When you have a mindset that expects luck to happen, you will begin to attract luck, and this creates a sense of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Take advantage of opportunities. A lucky mindset attracts and maximizes opportunities. If you're too busy waiting for things to be perfect, you're going to be waiting a very long time. Recognize opportunities when they arise. When you embrace these opportunities, you improve your chances of having more fortuitous opportunities come your way.

Be open to change. When things seem less than ideal, look for the positives. Do what you can to turn them around. Making changes, even small ones, will keep you receptive to opportunities and luck that presents itself. Embrace these changes as "wins." Enjoying these "wins" will keep you positive, motivated, and happy.

Surround yourself with "lucky" items. Every culture has items that are considered "lucky." Four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, the number seven, and dreamcatchers are often used as symbols of good luck. Surrounding yourself with lucky totems is a common way of keeping yourself feeling prosperous.

Listen to your intuition. Your intuition is the tuning fork of truth. When something feels right or wrong, your intuition will let you know which direction to take. Trust it. You can boost this ability through meditation and quiet time.

Luck, like happiness, is not some elusive state reserved for certain individuals. It's yours to have. When you tune your mind into luck (abundance), that luck will begin to flow.

If you think you are lucky, then you are. If you think you are not, then you're not. It's up to you.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Compassion -- Don't Be An Idiot

I have a relative who has made some unwise choices in his life. Those choices are now catching up to him. The family has suggested changes and offered help that could improve his circumstances. He says he understands and accepts, but it's not long before he lapses into his old patterns of behavior, mystifying and hurting those who have offered to help him.

But what they call helping, I call enabling.

What they call compassion, I call idiocy.

When it comes to compassion, we are either wise or we are idiots.

Compassion is desiring that beings be free from suffering. As philosopher Ken Wilber says, "Real compassion includes wisdom and so it makes judgments of care and concern; it says some things are good, and some things are bad, and I will choose to act only on those things that are informed by wisdom and care." Wise compassion is skillful compassion; it sees the whole situation and aims to bring release from suffering.

However, idiot compassion, an expression coined by Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, involves giving people what they want because we can't bear to see them suffering. We do it to avoid causing offense. Rather than face any conflict, we give in to their pleas and allow them to walk all over us. This is not compassion at all. It's an escape from our feeling of I can't bear to see them suffering. We do it for ourselves, not for them, and this kind of "compassion" ends up causing more pain to ourselves and others. Such "compassion" stems from not having the courage to say no.

For compassion to be effective, we need to first examine our actions. Are our actions going to be of real help and value? Or will they actually be supporting an already unhealthy situation? Staying in an abusive relationship is not compassion. The compassionate thing to do is to leave, no matter how difficult. The dynamic must change if healing is to occur.

We also need to be aware of the ego's need to take credit for doing good deeds. The ego has an appetite for looking good in front of others. It wants to be liked. It wants to be everyone's friend. It fears being unpopular. This occurs when we give for our own benefit, not for the recipient's. Our giving has less to do with what the other person needs, but plenty to do with trying to escape our own feelings of inadequacy.

It takes courage and wisdom to be a truly compassionate person.

As far as my relative goes, he needs to hit that kind of bottom where the people he loves stop giving him the wrong kind of compassion. There will be pain, no doubt, but causing pain is not the same as causing harm. It's the kind of pain that is needed in order for healing to occur. Boundaries will need to be set. Support structures will need to put in place. It's the kind of compassion that is a wake-up call for all involved.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Wisdom of Fear

Anything worth doing is going to have some fear attached.

Think about some of the life changes you've experienced that brought up deep worries or concerns.

Having a baby. Getting married. Getting divorced. Changing careers.

Big events invite big emotions. And fear can be the big bow atop the gift that awaits us. Do we dare open it? Or not?

Fear has a way of throwing us off balance. When we tug at its bow, we get the sense that we are unraveling. It makes us feel uncertain and insecure.

We find ourselves questioning whether we really want the new life that these changes will bring. We may also find ourselves releasing and grieving for the past as a necessary part of moving into the new. But fear is not meant to discourage us.

So, what is fear's purpose? And how do we respond to it?

Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, where we hang in balance between our old life and a new one. Fear, in this sense, is not trying to hold us back, but move us forward to our highest expression.

Fear informs us that the change we are facing is significant, and so approach it with the proper reverence. The more we learn to respect fear and even welcome it, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom. It lets us know that the time has come to move forward--or not.

We may never feel completely comfortable with fear, but we can honor it, recognize it, listen to what it has to say, and respect it as the bringer of transformation for our life. Sitting quietly in meditation or journaling about your feelings can bring greater understanding of the change you are making and help you to hurdle any inner obstacles.

We can't open a gift without first untying the bow. While fear is a strong emotion, it helps to remember that it almost always comes alongside anything worth doing in our lives. When we work with fear rather than against it, we transform it into the gift of courage so that we can move forward to our highest and best self.