SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS

I woke up this morning and before I was even fully awake my mind was already filling with worry and doubt.  I reminded myself–These are just thoughts.  They are not who I am.–I started saying to myself–All is well in my world.  All is well in my world.  Then I reviewed something that had happened yesterday and I realized what I needed to say but didn’t say–I know what is best for me.–I repeated it a few times to myself–I know what is best for me.  I know what is best for me.

How many times had I doubted myself, doubted my my feelings and my choices?  How many times had I allowed other people to tell me what to do?  How many times had I acted in order to please others or gain their approval rather than acting in my own best interests?

Another realization occurred to me–On a spiritual level, I had strategically placed myself in exactly the right situation in order to overcome my limiting beliefs!!  Although I had an inkling of this when I quit my job, it didn’t completely sink in until now.  I had followed my intuition, feeling that this was the path of learning but I was getting more than I expected.  Wow!  I got a little peek of this new perspective and it gave me some peace.  If I can only stay elevated and watch without getting caught up in my thinking and distress!

Already I had knocked down one belief–I am not worthy.  Next was the belief–I don’t know what’s best for me– This was the belief that I shouldn’t trust myself; that my feelings, ideas, and decisions were unreliable and that other people were wiser and smarter than me.  POP!  Taking out these out-dated false assumptions about myself was going to be like popping balloons!  Well, except probably quite a bit harder.  (but maybe that is a limiting belief, too!)

Having a sense of self-worth and being able to trust oneself are the very essence of a healthy inner core.  Self-worth makes  us feel that we have a right to be here; to exist.  And self-trust is the foundation of a good relationship with yourself;  just as trust is essential in any relationship.  Without these it is not possible to be entirely authentic.

When we have self-limiting beliefs, they cause us to build up defences and these defences keep our true self from meeting the world… and keep the world from touching us.  We end up living a life feeling separate and fearful–in constant fear that someone is going to bust down our tough walls and hurt us or that we might expose ourselves too much and be seen for the flawed human we really are.

To be authentic, the hard walls must come down and we must soften our hearts so that life can flow through us.  This is what Nepo means by “holding nothing back”.   In his words, it is “to be an open vessel”.

I have a Jamariquai song in my head this morning.  I just looked it up and it’s called “USE THE FORCE”.  And would you believe that I watched StarWars-Return of the Jedi last night!!  Oh, my goodness!  Anyway, the lyrics that are in my head are:  “I know I’m gonna get myself together.  Use the force.  I know I’m gonna work it out.”  It’s a beautiful song about believing in yourself, being confident, being one with everything and going beyond your limitations.  EXACTLY what I needed to hear today.

These musical messages remind me that without a doubt, there is something greater than myself; some force I cannot explain.  When I hear these songs that spontaneously come to me, I become certain that the universe is on my side.  I feel safe.  I feel I can let go of this crazy-making internal battle.  I feel a calmness in knowing that everything is going to be okay.  Everything IS okay–right NOW.  Maybe, just maybe, I can stop trying to control everything and surrender.

As I was reading from Prendergast’s book, I realized how often I am fighting with reality.  Instead of just accepting things as they are, I am constantly striving for some ideal that doesn’t exist.  So there is the real world in front of me and the world in my head which don’t match up and then I become frustrated and scared.  I fear that something is wrong.  I fear that something bad is going to happen.  I fear that I am not going to get where I want to go.  I lose my trust in myself and the universe.  Undoubtedly, this is the cause of many people’s anxiety.

What we need to continually ask ourselves is–What is actually going on here?  What is real?  What is true for me?  It is to go beneath the daily dramas in our minds and really SEE.  It’s normal to get lost in thought and to identify with our thoughts and feelings.  We just need to keep reminding ourselves to stay present, stay in reality and simply become the observer;  to watch what is happening without judgement or criticism;  to watch with curiosity, openness and compassion.

This is how you will start to see what your self-limiting beliefs are.  Everyone has them so don’t think you are a loser if you have them.  As I read somewhere:  we are ashamed of our fear and afraid of our shame.  You can break the cycle!  Here are some limiting beliefs that have held me back:

There is something wrong with me. I am not worthy.

I don’t know what is best for me.  I shouldn’t trust myself.

I shouldn’t express my true thoughts and feelings.  Be nice or be quiet.

The world is a scary and unpredictable place.  Be in control.

I am not good enough. (smart enough, strong enough)

I am not capable.  I can’t handle it.

My needs are not important.

I am not interesting.

My ideas are silly.

I still have work to do but I am beginning to see through the falseness and as that happens the frozen parts begin to melt.  (I am imagining Han Solo as he comes out of his frigid state!)  Now, I am beginning to feel like–Hey,

I am a worthy and valuable person!!

I have the right to be here.

I have the right to express myself.

My needs are important and have the right to speak up for myself.

I am interesting and I have great ideas!!

The universe is a safe and friendly place.

I know as I continue my journey I will also come to fully believe that I am good enough, strong enough and that I am capable!

When you open to the reality and truth, you will see your self-limiting beliefs for what they are.  You will see the truth.  Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that those negative beliefs are merely lies.  Have compassion for yourself and realize that you developed these as a child in order to protect yourself.  Be accepting and you can let them go.  The truth is you are an unlimited, eternal being of love.

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HOLD NOTHING BACK

A profound shift has happened in me in the last couple of days.  Although it has been years in the making, this seemed to start ravelling on Saturday.  I went kayaking with my husband and it was nice but when we finished I found myself thinking–That’s not quite how I had wanted it to go.  Rather than fast and furious paddling, I wanted a slow and relaxing ride on the ocean, taking time to soak in the scenery.  Why had not spoken my opinion more firmly?

Then Saturday night before going to bed I watched that advertisement showing girls writing on big boxes what they thought was limiting them.  They wrote things like–Girls aren’t strong.  Girls can’t rescue someone. –And it touched me deeply.  I also felt the little girl in me who had received the same messages during the course of her life.
On Sunday, I become engrossed in reading a chapter that came from a textbook on gender and how gender is socially constructed.  It pointed out how females, from the very beginning, are undervalued.  Even when a fetus’s sex is being determined, it is the presence or lack of a penis that is important.  Boys who took on more feminine traits or did activities that were viewed as being feminine, were outcasts from the boys group.  There are so many ways in which girls are made to feel like they are weaker and less important; not as good as boys.
Sunday night, I had begun to be distracted by online shopping.  And I know that when this happens there is something I am avoiding.  Feelings that I don’t want to feel.  Truths about myself I don’t want to face.
For a long time, I had been considering how my sensitive personality and other life experiences had led to my lowered sense of self-worth, but I had never realized how being a woman was a contributing factor, too.  I was thankful to my previous boss who brought my awareness to such subtle sexism as mixed gender groups being called “guys”.  Suddenly all of this information was hitting me hard.
On Monday, I had a freak-out.  I sat down and tried to work but I just kept thinking– What am I doing?  Why am I not following my OWN dreams?  How did I let myself get sucked into this?  I have looked back several times in attempt to analyze my actions.
Even with all of this, I knew that I had chosen this way.  I knew that somehow this was the path and this was where the deep learning and healing was going to happen.  I knew the truth–I always have a choice.  I had made mine.
As I unravelled my truth, I realized that I had wanted my cake and to eat it too.  I had heard a phrase in the episode of Suits that I watched:  “You can’t have it both ways.”  And I saw how I was being childish, thinking that I could just catch a ride on someone else’s boat, going the easy way, and yet selfishly think that I should have my own dreams magically come true without any risk and hard work.  Now I was feeling stuck.  What next?  I need to have the guts to just go for it!  I needed to take ACTION in order to manifest my ideas.
Tuesday morning, I woke up with a deep sense that my denial had been painfully uncovered.  I couldn’t go on pretending anymore.  I couldn’t go on like this.  I thought–I AM WORHTY.  It wasn’t just a positive affirmation anymore.  These words felt TRUE.   I thought, if I keep holding back my emotions and my true thoughts, if I continue holding back the real me, who am I going to be in 5 or 10 years!?  I don’t want to look back and have regret.  I don’t want to feel that I have not followed  my own heart.  I don’t wake up when I’m 50 or 60 and realize I am still holding back in fear, not being my true self.  I want to know that I am living and giving 110% every day.  I need to change.  NOW!!  It is time for massive action!
I read from Nepo’s book and it said:
…I will not pretend anymore.
If those I love can’t recognize me
with my soul out in the open,
I will no longer retreat
and show what is familiar.
I thought about a phrase he had used–“Hold nothing back.”  As I sat down at my desk, I wrote with big words on a piece of paper–HOLD NOTHING BACK.  And I taped it to my computer on the bottom of the screen.  Everyday I will look at this at it will remind me.
Later that day, I thought of ways in which I had allowed others to undermine my self-worth…like birds pecking away at me.  But I knew the truth was I had chosen these people in my life and I had LET it happen.  It was my responsibility to stand up for myself.  Over the years, at times, I have allowed others to:
speak disrespectfully to me
raise their voice at me
criticize me on little things
talk down to me
interrupt me
ignore my ideas or point of view
try to change my beliefs
give me lectures
dominate the conversation
As I read them over to myself, I almost felt sick to my stomach.  Now, these do not occur all the time.  I am not here to blame.  What I felt was the entire truth of ME.  How my own lack of self-worth and self-esteem had led me down this road.
I went to the bedroom to lie down and I cried.  I could feel this deep change happening within me.  It’s hard to explain but it is a feeling that went right to my core.  All of these profound realizations were flipping my soul inside out.  That girl who thought herself to be unworthy is shrinking away.  I had been awakened once more.  I came face to face with my reality.  I saw what was real, I took it in.  It wasn’t just a seeing of things on the surface.  It was like lightning striking my heart.
It’s Wednesday.  Last night I had two of my worse nightmares.  Ones that I have had in various forms over my life and many in the last few years.
Dream #1:  I am in an elevator.  Two men are there.  One is torturing the other by cutting off his body parts bit by bit.  I stand facing the corner, trying not to see.  There is no blood. No screams.  Finally, the man is left with almost no arms and he walks out of the elevator.
And that, I realize, is how I have felt as I have gradually given myself away piece by piece, given my power away, bit by bit over my entire life.  Every time I didn’t speak up for myself, every time I didn’t express my true feelings, every time I didn’t ask questions or didn’t ask for help,  every time I betrayed my soul’s desire, every time I shrank myself down, every time I said Yes when I really meant NO, every time I put on a smiley face when I really felt like crying or screaming, every time tried to please people instead of acknowledging my own needs as important, every time every time I was dismissed, disrespected or made to feel small, less than, unworthy.  I gradually became less and less whole.
Dream #2:  I am at a kind of camp. I go into the kitchen and I am pulling the gum off of my braces.  I knew I shouldn’t chew gum, I knew it would get stuck, but I did it anyway.  I look at my teeth in the mirror.  They are horribly crooked and two teeth are almost falling out, barely hanging on.  I feel disgusted and terrified.  I pull them out.  I am thinking I have to get to the dentist right away.  I can’t let people see me like this!  I can’t let people see how ugly I am.
The gum represents my lack of self-expression.  It represents every time I have held back feelings even though I knew it wasn’t good for me, even though I knew the feelings would get “stuck”.  I pull desperately at the gum trying to get it out, just as I have that same desperate feeling inside that I NEED to express myself honestly–completely honestly.  My ugly crooked teeth represent how I’ve seen myself on the inside–as someone who had some terrible flaws, something was horribly wrong with me and I didn’t dare let anyone see these parts of me, the whole me, the real me.
Although these dreams are very dark, they don’t seem to have the emotional charge that they used to have.  I can now just recognize them as my fears in disguise.  There’s really no need to fear my fear–once they are faced, I can see what lies underneath them.  It’s denial that covers up our fears.  It’s not looking that gives them power.
Don’t be afraid to look at your denials.  Hint–You can recognize denial when you find that you are telling yourself something repeatedly, like you are trying to convince yourself that it is true, when you are rationalizing your choices and actions rather than feeling.  Yes, it’s probably gonna sting when you pull off the bandaid but then a wonderful thing happens–that discovery of self-betrayal will expose your strength, beauty and greatness!!  And this will carry you forward and upward!
A very profound shift has occurred in me and there is no going back… I don’t know what lies ahead or how I will handle it all, but I do know that I moving on with an absolute certainty that:
1.  I AM WORTHY
2.  I HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPRESS MYSELF
3.  I WILL HOLD NOTHING BACK

HOME

Honestly, I am not sure where to start this post and I am not sure where it’s going to end.  I have a bunch of ideas floating in my head and I desperately want to be able to connect them all in an elegant way that makes sense and has a point.

Well, I guess I will start with the message that came to me in a dream.  It said–You will explore many new possibilities before you find the one.–I woke up and felt these words as if someone has passed me a note and I had just read it.  I thought about the previous day and reviewed things that stood out in my mind.

I remembered glancing over at a man’s newspaper while on the bus.  There was an article about the sea otter.  A few minutes later I opened Mark Nepo’s “Book of Awakening” to read his daily words of wisdom and guess what?  He talked about the sea otter!!  Of course I had to look up the symbolism of a sea otter.

I came to a site and at the top of the page it said–“It’s time to let go of control and surrender to the moment.  Allowing the universe to move in its own way will often manifest your dreams beyond your wildest expectations!”–The Sea Otter. I thought back to information I had read on knee chakras which said pretty much the same thing–be flexible, go with the flow, surrender!  The otter’s message was to be curious, explore, go with the flow and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!  Simply allow things to unfold.

And just this morning I was reading from “The Book of Awakening” and it had a beautiful message about our journey.  Nepo talks about his friend who was travelling around Europe and says–

“…the more narrow her intentions on any one day, the more she felt behind, late and lost.  In contrast, the wider her net of designs, the more often she felt a sense of discovery.  Regardless of where she had to be, it seemed that the more open to possibility and change she was, the more she felt like every moment she came upon was holding a treasure she was supposed to find.”

Wow!  It was exactly what I had been experiencing lately.  I have a sense of curiosity that I’ve never had before.  I feel more open that ever!  I’m seeing the magic in the smallest and simplest things–tiny white flowers, a coloured leaf, a random conversation, a little boy’s face, being given a smoothie cup for free!

And yet I feel I have been oscillating between having trust, going with flow and curling up in fear, scared that I’m not taking charge enough.  I have been pondering these delicate balances–when should I take a stand and when should I be flexible?  When do I grab the steering wheel and when do I allow myself to be carried?

More and more I’m feeling that all I really need to do is keep following my interests.  I’ve been craving knowledge.  I want to know more about the mind-body connection, I want to study nutrition and superfoods, I want to learn about authenticity and wholeness, I am curious about chakras and Reiki, I’m intrigued by gender issues and feminism, I want to advance my yoga practice, I want to sing and swim, read and write.

In our world, we are taught to have goals and to achieve them on a schedule.  I don’t think having goals is a bad thing but I think we all get way to focused on reaching the destination and we forget to enjoy the journey.  We get so stressed out when we think we might not reach our goal or when we are not getting there fast enough.  And it seems the older we get, the more pressure there is to achieve certain things.

Basically, we live in a society which emphasizes masculine traits like strength, ambition, assertiveness, competitiveness, logic, independence, discipline, activity, stability.  We undervalue the more feminine qualities like vulnerability, receptivity, intuition, flow, surrender, patience, sensuality, tenderness and empathy.  The reality is that we need all of these qualities in order to live in balance and harmony.  We need all of these traits to follow our dreams and create meaning in our lives.

The sacral chakra and the heart chakra are both feminine in nature as opposed to the root chakra and solar plexus which are masculine.  When we open and balance our heart chakra, we can begin to live from a place of deep feeling and acceptance.  I will quote several passages from the book “In Touch” by John J. Prendergast since it touched me so much.  Here are some of my favourites regarding the head and the heart.

“It’s not that we become passively resigned.  Instead, we first accept things as they are and then become available to respond creatively”.  “As attention hones in upon the heart area, there is the experience of coming home.”  “Once the mind knows its limits, it can rest in the fullness of the heart.”

Prendergast also talks about the hara, an energy centre in the lower belly.

“As the hara awakens, we experience a growing sense of profound stability.  We feel our genuine autonomy, our capacity to stand fully on our own two feet as we know our deep interconnection with life.”  “There is a current of life that is carrying us, and we can sense and feel it if we can slow down enough.”

For many of us living in the modern world, we have lost our sensitivity; our ability to FEEL and CONNECT with this undercurrent of wholeness and our innate TRUST in what our heart is saying and our own bodies are telling us.  We operate from the head–we judge, we reason, we analyze.  Or as Nepo so beautifully wrote–we break things down rather than breaking open.  In breaking open, we become heart-centred and REAL.

Nepo, in his book, “The Exquisite Risk” also talks about two opposing views. “A disconnected view puts a premium on individuality, on strengthening the will….”(interestingly enough, these are masculine).  “A mystical view, however, regardless of its tradition, emphasizes finding the Source of all relatedness, on strengthening connection, on maximizing our innate qualities of spirit and commonness…” (the feminine)

I realize that what I am really experiencing is the balancing of my feminine and masculine sides.  In the past, I tried to fit into the masculine world in fear of being rejected for showing my real softness, sensitivity and emotions.  Now, I am tuning into my feminine qualities of vulnerability, compassion, connection, openness, flow, patience and surrender.

I watched an advertisement showing what girls believed was limiting them.  It’s no wonder that so many young girls lose their self-confidence by the time they hit puberty.  The talents that come naturally to them are not valued and no one acknowledges their own unique powers.  It’s no wonder I have had dreams of wearing high heels or of transvestites.  I have literally felt like woman dressing up like a man!  Perhaps my dreams were telling me–It’s time to discover your femininity!  It’s no wonder I felt such joy when I went swimming.  I finally sensed what it really felt like to go with the flow.  Maybe even deeper was my sense that we are all really just floating around in one big pool, the sea of life.

I am a mystic.  I AM A MYSTIC!  I believe that there is something larger than myself, that everything is somehow connected to the WHOLE.

I have gradually been coming home.  Home IS where the heart is!  And not surprisingly, in the last week, I heard Phillip Phillip’s song “Home” not once, but twice, in two different stores!  This is really the only journey there is–the journey toward wholeness, connection and love.

Living With Ease

Yesterday I was faced with a bit of a dilemma.  My friend had invited me to meet her at a cafe.  She said she was doing some work but she could take a break to see me.  So after relaxing at the beach, I went to meet her.  She then said that she was going to have to go to check on a worker she was supervising a couple of blocks away but I could go with her and we could chat while she put on makeup to get ready for her evening.  Then her friend would pick us up and he could drop me near my home.

Hmmm…this wasn’t really what I had expected; not what I wanted to do.  We sat in the cafe for a short time and she had her cell phone out and was looking at it periodically.  I thought to myself that I what I really wanted was a grounded and attentive conversation.  Following her around while she was totally distracted was not for me.

When she was about ready to go I said that I was just going to walk home.  But then I pondered this and thought, maybe I am just being too inflexible, too stubborn.  Maybe I need to go with the flow.  So I changed my mind and went with her anyway.  I regretted my decision just as I had on other occasions like this.  Even though I knew she was doing this so she could spend time with me, I felt kind of cheap and small.

Later at home, I was thinking–Is my problem that I am I being too wishy washy or am I too stubborn?  Or perhaps it is really both.  I think that because I tend to want to please people and am afraid to stand up for myself and get my own needs met I end up feeling indecisive or agreeing to things that I don’t really want to do.  Then, after finding myself in a situation that is not jiving with my inner core, I start acting stubborn, trying to get my own way.

This stubbornness, I believe is really just an attempt to gain power when I am feeling powerless.  I can even convince myself that I didn’t really have a choice or that someone “forced” me to do it.  Ha!  The mind games we play with ourselves!!

So last night I watched episode 5 of Star Wars–The Empire Strikes back and again I was inspired by some Buddha wisdom that is sprinkled throughout the series.  It was the scene where Luke has had visions that Han and Leah are in trouble and he wants to go and save them.  Yoda tells him he needs to stay and finish his training.  Yoda says–Don’t take the easy way.

This morning I woke up with the phrase–the path of least resistance– in my head.  What does this really mean?  And is it good or bad?  Don’t some spiritual teachers say not to resist?  I was a little confused.  I read a couple of blogs which both basically defined it as “staying in your comfort zone”  or following the same path you habitually take, the way that is easiest.

Then I fully realized what had happened in the cafe–I had simply agreed to her plan because that is what I usually do.  I follow, I go along, I avoid conflict, I accommodate, I defer.  AND I lose my self-respect and betray my inner knowing.  Instead I should have just followed my instincts and said “No” in the first place and I would have avoided the whole awkward situation.

So what does living with ease really mean then?  Life certainly isn’t easy.  Often the things that are worthwhile and fulfilling are a lot of work.  I think living with ease means being true to yourself and in theory being yourself IS easy.

However, in the real world, to be ourselves we have to push through fear, feel our feelings, break patterns, speak our truth, rock the boat, face disapproval from other people, take responsibility for our actions, own up to our mistakes, correct ourselves when we have gone off-track and get out of our comfort zones.  NONE of which are easy at all!

Even though the obstacles we face to living authentically are difficult to overcome, I believe its when we reach the other side that life starts to take on a natural flow.  Decisions become easy and clear and we find that we are given exactly what we need.  We feel an inner peace.  Our minds are more quiet and still and we can listen.  We can be guided.  And although life may bring us challenges, we will face everything with a sense of ease and flow.  Then life becomes a beautiful, smooth and graceful waltz.

AUTHENTICITY & COURAGE

A funny thing happened when I stopped putting so much pressure on myself…the joy and excitement and sense of freedom came back.  I realized that when I stopped trying to be “somebody” and do something “important” that I could just be myself and do what came naturally to me.  It can be really tough to live authentically when the message out there is –achieve, achieve, achieve!!

High expectations on myself, stress, pressure and external demands cause me to shut down.  My creativity and spontaneity disappear and I become frozen in fear, caught in inertia–Am I doing this right?  Shouldn’t I be doing more?  Shouldn’t I be accomplishing things faster?  Am I going to look stupid, incompetent?–It’s exhausting.  It’s actually way more “productive” to have an attitude of “Hey, let’s try this out and see what happens.  Let’s see what I can learn here.  Let’s see where this leads me.  What an exciting adventure!”

When I feel comfortable and relaxed is when I am at my best, just being me.  I feel free and light and life has a certain ease to it.  The striving is gone and I can just be.

In the last week or so, I’ve noticed that the highlights of my day have nothing to do with my accomplishments and everything to do with how much I am living wholeheartedly and authentically in the moment.

*standing on the ocean shore and feeling my feet in the sand;  closing my eyes and listening to the waves as they crash on the beach as if in stereo;  watching the sunlight dance on the water, sparkling like disco lights.

*observing a squirrel on our patio as it seems to dart from one thing to another;  watching as another squirrel dares to cross the boundary between the patio and the inside of our apartment almost like it is entering another dimension

*swimming in the pool, feeling my strong legs kicking me forward as the sun hits my face;  going down the slide, and feeling my body plunge into the water;  lying next to the pool and hearing the Prince song “Kiss” playing faintly in the background and singing along

*going for a walk with my husband to the duck pond and watching as the geese follow each other in a perfectly straight line down the hill.

*dancing around my living room to some old soulful house songs that I remember from 15 years ago, allowing the music to move me

*going for tea with friends, having a conversation that has a balanced flow to it and noticing how similar our feelings and experiences are, feeling really connected, laughing

* making up a song as I am cooking in the kitchen;  I sing and the words seems to just create themselves, finding the rhyme and rhythm

*waking up in the morning with no rush to go anywhere;  cuddling with my husband, feeling warm and safe and peaceful;  holding hands

*writing a post and feeling the words as they pour out of my heart and soul;  writing an email to a friend in hopes that sharing my own truth will help her on her path

*enjoying a really yummy and healthy meal that I made for me and my husband;  feeling so satisfied for creating food that really like and I know is good for my body

*talking with, joking with, smiling at people I see in my neighbourhood–in the grocery store, on the street

As I write these down, I can see even more clearly who I am and what really matters to me–connection, creativity, relationships, nature, health, cooking, moving my body, music, dancing, singing, writing, expressing, feeling, laughing, loving…

I feel so much more attuned with myself than I ever have.  Many of these things I wrote above came to me naturally and did not take courage but they did require me to become aware, to slow down, to get into my body and to be more open.  Awareness, spaciousness and a feeling of being grounded and openhearted are needed in order to tune into that inner part of yourself;  your core, your soul, or whatever you want to call it.  These ideas are expressed in John J. Prendergast’s book, “In Touch”.

When you tune into that part of yourself, many things that are no longer a good fit will just fall away.  Other changes take more courage and strength at first but even these big decisions can almost feel inevitable.

Having a health challenge quickly put things into perspective for me and I found myself suddenly packing up to return to Canada and making drastic changes to my lifestyle.  I didn’t particularly feel courageous;  I just felt that it was what I HAD to do.  Because I was pushed to slow down and pay attention to my body, I slowly started to connect with my inner true self that I had lost touch with for so long.

Now, I am finding that the more actions I take that are aligned with who I am, the more courage I get and the more courageous I become, the more authentic I feel.  One feeds the other.  Trust in myself grows as I start believing in myself and my own worth.  This increase in trust leads me to make choices that are in tune with my true core.  The result is that I create a life that feels right and feels like ME.

Once you slow down and get in touch with your true self, you will find yourself KNOWING what to do.  To begin with, the path may not be totally clear and you may feel fear as you move to the beat of your own drum.  You may feel awkward and confused like you are a teenager again!  I believe it does get easier, though.  Keep observing yourself, keep noticing how your body feels.  Eventually choices become obsolete because you will automatically respond to whatever is before you from your core.  When you begin FEELING and trusting, then you are living from your innermost core; living authentically.

From the darkside to the light

I sometimes find myself getting stuck in the “not-enough” mind-set.  I hear that voice in my head saying–You should be doing more.  You shouldn’t be wasting your time sitting around contemplating life.  You should be writing a book, studying something, improving your skills, using your gifts and talents more. –I also saw my greedy side;  a part of me that thinks I somehow deserve more, that I should have it all and I should have it NOW.

Greed, desire, pride, impatience…these are what lead you to the darkside.  I have been re-watching the Star Wars series and in the third episode I couldn’t help but identify with what Luke was feeling.  His pride made him believe that he was better than the other Jedi and he felt he deserved to become a Jedi master even though he was still so young.  He didn’t want to wait.  His greed for power and control made him blind to all he already had.  He kept wanting MORE and this is what caused his downfall to the darkside.

How do we get out of such darkness?  Gratitude, patience, humility and non-attachment.  Gratitude is probably the easiest one.  Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, lift your spirits by deeply feeling all the goodness that is in your life presently.  You may be surprised that there is a lot to be thankful for and very little to be complaining about.

Patience is a little trickier.  In our fast-paced society we are conditioned to get what we want immediately.  We don’t like waiting for things.  But fear sometimes causes us to rush into things that are not right for us.  It’s essential to slow down so that you can get clarity; develop a clear vision of what you really want.  And don’t forget to enjoy what lies right before your eyes!

Humility teaches us that we are no more or less valuable than anyone else.  We all have our part to play here on earth and each part is of equal importance.  I think it is often our feeling of inferiority that causes us to make up an overinflated sense of superiority.  Be humble and give up that false pride.  By seeing all humans as equal, there will be a tremendous increase of compassion and love in the world.

Non-attachment could be the most challenging to master.  How can we possibly let go of our desires? But this constant wanting is the cause of our dissatisfaction and suffering.  Feelings that we are not enough or don’t have enough or are not doing enough all stem from desire.  As soon as we reach one goal, we are barely happy for a few moments when we are already striving for the next prize.  In this loop, we never feel lasting contentment.

I honestly don’t know the answer to non-attachment but I have an inkling that it has much to do with letting go of how you think things should be and being open to how they really are.  I believe there is a positive and negative side to desire.   Certainly passion and eagerness can be good but there seems to be a fine line between desire and greed.  Perhaps the topic for another post!

Lately I have been putting so much pressure on myself to be important, to do something ambitious and bold and impressive… and to get there fast!  I realized that rather than desperately trying to find my calling, I needed to “relax into my calling.” (as Rankin puts it)

One day last week I was downtown shopping for shoes and as I was waiting at the bus stop I noticed an old man strolling by with the help of his walker.  I guess he was giving off an energy that felt like dignity and grace.  I smiled at him.  He looked at me, smiling back and continued walking.  But then he turned around and came over to talk to me and my husband.  He started telling us his life story;  how he was 75 years old, born in Tibet, raised by a priest, grew up around Monks, sang in Vietnam and met some famous Japanese film maker.  All this in a couple of minutes!  Then he said how lovely I was for smiling at him.  It seemed that he had really been touched.  And then he went on his way.

A simple smile.  That’s all it took to make a difference.  Here I was greedily searching for some important calling but here I was, right now, already LIVING my calling and purpose.  I can uplift people wherever I go.  As I stood there waiting for the bus I suddenly felt lit up and alive, my heart warm and open.

We all wait for a metaphorical bus thinking that this bus will get us to our destination, our happiness, our bliss.  But it’s what we do while we are waiting that really matters.  In fact, we need to stop thinking of it as waiting.  We don’t need to wait until the next “important” thing comes along, life is happening now;  our calling can be fulfilled right now.

I read a post from Lissa Rankin’s blog the other day titled “Your Calling Doesn’t Have to Be Grand”.  She talked about the importance of everyone and how everyone has value whether they are a janitor or a doctor.   She emphasized that acts of love and healing are really what matter and that even a seemingly small action can have a huge positive impact.  I couldn’t agree more.

We sometimes get caught in the ego-trap of feeling that we must do something grand and world-changing but the truth is every act of love raises the vibration of the planet.  It’s time to stop thinking–I’m not doing enough or achieving enough or I’m not fulfilling my calling well enough.  It’s time to live with more gratitude and less greed, with more patience and less frustration, with more humility and less pride, with more non-attachment and less ambition. –It’s time to start BEING, HEALING and LOVING.  Live in the LIGHT!

The Experiment

I was thinking about the concept of tweaking–making fine adjustments.  I had the realization that life is one big experiment and we are scientists, constantly tweaking our theories, our formulas, our ideas.  That is how I have been approaching life lately.  It’s not like I am making an big effort to make some big change, it just comes to me naturally.  I believe that is what personal growth is about.

Of course, at times we do need to make big changes in our lives but most days it’s just a matter of tweaking things here and there.  Although I do admit I sometimes get caught in the ego trap of thinking I should strive to improve myself overnight, more and more I see the process as an unfolding rather than striving.  I made a poster and put it up on my bedroom wall and one quote that chose was–I am just striving to become more and more me.–but I started to feel strongly that I really needed to change that word from “striving” to “unfolding”.

I notice myself tweaking right now as I feel tightness in my neck and decide to raise my laptop up a bit so it’s at a better level.  This is all about being aware enough to recognize when something is not working.

When I experienced pain in my knees and in my hamstrings, I woke up to the fact that something was not quite right.  Some tweaks had to be made.  I’ve approached it like a scientist, testing different theories.  Was it too much yoga?  Too much stretching and not enough strength?  Could it be an imbalance between my hamstrings and quad muscles?  Was I sitting too much?  Perhaps it was my posture?  Maybe it was my shoes.  Did I have flat feet?  Was this a sign that I needed to be more independent somehow?  Was a feeling of insecurity and stress causing the problem?

And so I have been trying different things.  I have been checking my posture throughout the day, doing less stretching and more strengthening exercises, getting out and walking more, I bought new shoes, and I even tried walking barefoot (which some say is supposed to be very grounding and healthy for your body).  Plus I made a decision to stop pressuring myself to be “independent” and allow myself some space and time to adjust to my new lifestyle.  Still working on this one!

I was frustrated at first, not knowing what the knee issue was or how to fix it, but as I began to seek solutions rather than focus on the problem my attitude changed from being helpless and feeling sorry for myself to being open to what this healing could teach me and feeling in charge of it.  This is the attitude that helped me immensely.  Healing seems to be one of my life themes so why not go with it.  My intuition says that it is leading me to my new calling!

I have certainly done a lot of tweaking in the health department in the last little while and I continue to change little things–increase my protein consumption, reduce my sugar intake, eat more raw vegetables, eat more whole grains.  Now that I am listening to my body, following my heart and living more authentically, it’s easy to introduce these small modifications.  I try something a bit different, test it out and maybe it works or maybe it doesn’t and I try something else.  It’s constant exploring, experimenting and learning!

What little tweaks can you make in your life?  Instead of looking at your i-pad before falling asleep, you could read a book or meditate.  Switch from jogging to biking.  Get up 10 minutes earlier so you can have a little breakfast before zooming off to work.  Get home 30 minutes earlier so you can spend more time with your spouse or kids.  Rather than buying coffee you could donate that money to a good cause.  There are millions of possibilities.

I know when I lived in denial, my mind could not even fathom the idea of making a change.  I could not admit to myself that things were not right.  My point is to be aware.  Be aware so you can quickly see where some life-editing needs to be done.  A coma here, a spelling mistake there.  Add a sentence.  Rearrange a paragraph.  With awareness, there is no striving, just dropping things that no longer work and unfolding new parts of yourself.  I hope you will see your life as an experiment and try tweaking something.