Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grievances or Peace?

One of the greatest learnings on my spiritual path is that grievances and peace do not mix. If it is peace I choose (and it is), then I must release all grievances. So how does one do that when the grievance may be justified?

Perhaps I was wronged or hurt in some way. I may have been insulted, cheated or taken advantage of by someone I trusted. Perhaps someone made some unfair or untrue comments about me. The list of potential grievances is unending, but I think you get the picture. When we are hurt in some way, we tend to want to hold onto our grievance against those that seemed to create it, even though it makes us feel worse.

As I stew about the grievances I hold, I separate myself from the person(s) that caused them. As I see myself separate from the offender, I also separate myself from peace. An additional thing to note here is that at some level I may fear that I don't deserve the love and respect I desire. The truth is we are not separate. We are all connected, so when I am holding a grievance against someone else, I suffer.

This is a challenging concept to take in when the person (the offender) is not penitent or sorry in any way and when I did not outwardly do anything to deserve it. Our egos are an interesting phenomena and as long as we see one another as separate, peace escapes us.

I used to believe if only the offender would apologize, I could release it and return to peace. The truth is in many situations, an apology may not be offered, so it is up to me to give up my grievance if it is peace that I desire.

This is where forgiveness is needed. It is not excusing or condoning the action of another person, but rather looking beyond the action or offending words that had been spoken to who the offender really is. The person that offended me is not inherently evil. In some cases, they may not even know they hurt me. As I look deeper into the heart of the person, I can see their own vulnerability. Somehow, when I see the true spirit of the person, their negative behaviors lose importance. I may not love the negative actions, but I can find compassion and love for the fearful soul within.

The bonus of forgiveness is as I see the spiritual truth in others and forgive them, I receive the same benefit of forgiveness for my own unconsciously perceived imperfections.

If you're ready to let go of your grievances, I suggest you take note of the negative feelings you have about those that hurt you. Notice how it feels when you re-play the story of whatever it was that caused your pain. The next step is to choose if the feeling of "being a victim" or of "being unfairly treated" or "wronged" is worth the absence of peace. If you choose peace, look more closely to find forgiveness, compassion and love for the other person and for yourself. Every grievance that is released is a step closer to feeling peace.

An important note here is that unconditional forgiveness takes a lot of practice, but I can say without question, peace is worth it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Super Powers

Over the course of our lives we all face numerous challenges, some of which may seem as though we can't make it through alive....or at least not in suitable condition to ever be happy again.

The reality of a typical life course, which is a mix of joyful and sorrowful experiences, is that we do make it. With the exception of someone succumbing to a terminal disease, we all survive. Sometimes we survive unscathed....sometimes there are lasting wounds....often times leaving emotional scars. Sometimes the most challenging events may actually help us to discover and use our Super Powers of emotional strength, resiliency and subsequent spiritual growth.

I can clearly recall a life changing experience for me where I first learned I had more strength and power than I knew I had.

I was in my mid twenties and lost a pregnancy at 3 months gestation. Up to this point of my young life, I had never faced anything as personally devastating as this. Due to my lack of experience in dealing with heart breaking challenges, I had the spiritual wind knocked out of me with not much hope of emotional survival. I can remember telling God after I lived through a year of grief, that I could not go through that again, and prayed for a healthy pregnancy the next time. After two more years of extreme stress and inability to conceive as easily as the first time, I finally became pregnant again. The elation my husband and I felt was short-lived. Five months later, this child was lost too.

In spite of my prediction that I would not survive a loss like this again, I did. I not only survived, I got through it with grace, peace and a greater understanding of who I really was.

The reality that I learned of myself was that I was much stronger than I ever knew. My experience following my first pregnancy showed me that suffering, resentment and blame did not change the outcome for the better. It showed me that my resistance to what happened only prolonged my pain. It eventually showed me that acceptance brought peace. By the time of the loss of the second child, I no longer blamed God. I didn't understand why it happened, but accepted that it did. I began to focus on what I could do to live a happy life, rather than complain about my experience and be jealous of anyone that had a healthy pregnancy. I was able to grieve and feel peace at the same time.

I now look back on that time of my life with gratitude for the learning. If it didn't happen, I may not have learned about my Super Powers that were always present within me, waiting to be used.

In dealing with the extreme challenges of our lives, we have all had to dig deep to find the wherewith all to move on. Connecting with what it was within that allowed us to move on, is a great place to explore and expand. It can also help us now to heal the emotional wounds that may still exist from the past.

It is never to late to begin living with a greater use of the Super Powers we each possess. It would surely lessen our suffering, improve our spiritual understanding and increase our JOY.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chocolate Brownie Trust Pie

I recently had a very interesting dream that brought up thoughts for me about trust. I was invited to a chocolate dessert party and brought a cheese cake to add to a huge array of other chocolate delicacies. As I strolled around a large room where the desserts were displayed on beautifully decorated tiers, I was trying to decide which chocolate treat I would sample. I sought out my friend, Barbara who was hosting the party, and asked for her suggestion.

Barbara happens to be a person for whom I hold a great deal of respect and trust. Her general attitude about life is aligned with mine. She has a great sense of humor and exhibits a very basic wisdom about things in general. So when I asked her what chocolate dessert she recommended, she suggested the brownie pie, substituting a juicy beef steak tomato to top it off rather than vanilla ice-cream. In the dream, I was surprised to hear this suggestion, but due to my level of trust for Barbara, that's what I ordered. Unfortunately, I woke up before I took my first I can't report on how it tasted.

What I can report is that trusting is not always easy. It can stretch us to a point that we may not be able to bend. There's always some risk involved when we open ourselves to trust another. By the same token, we get to choose those we trust and those we don't. We are always at choice and just as I trusted Barbara in my dream regarding her dessert recommendation, if someone else suggested it, I may have said "no thank you".

So how do we use trust in our lives so that it serves us well and we can minimize the chances of being hurt? I base my trust in people on what I have observed of them in their lives and how they have treated me and others in the past. Due to my long standing love and appreciation for Barbara's sincere way of being, it was easy for me to try the tomato topped brownie pie.

I realize that trust is a far more complex topic that what was covered in my dream since it affects all relationships, including trusting ourselves. There are many variables and situations to consider, but what I know about me is I am willing to take a chance to test the theory that to be trusted, you must trust.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abundant Inspiration

When it's my intention to create something, I prepare myself to be inspired. I prepare by being open to receive a thought or an idea and then act on it. I set myself up for inspiration to be easy and to flow, rather than to be challenging and difficult, by setting my intention. I intend to receive what I need.

Inspiration means in spirit, so it naturally has a spiritual feel for me. I see inspiration not coming from my own doing, but from spirit....That feels really good since it isn't all up to me, I can just be willing to receive and ideas flow. To me, spirit is divine guidance. If I am being divinely guided, of course......I will listen.

Reasons that I open myself for inspiration include coming up with topics and content for this blog, games for parties, workshops, activities for Project: Inside Out, how to decorate my home, what to make for dinner, what book to read next, and where to travel. I am inspired to volunteer, to exercise, to send a card to someone needing a little reminder they are thought about. I am inspired on where to network my business, what movie to select and whom I should call when I have some free time.

Inspiration comes to me in many forms. I can often be inspired by nature....that is when I stop long enough to notice what is right there in front of me. Watching a sunrise, enjoying a mountain view, or a squirrel holding a nut, or water running over stones, has a message for me... if I can be quiet and still long enough to appreciate it.

I am also often inspired by words. I love quotes and in fact, collect ones that have been particularly inspirational to me. A favorite is "To forgive is to set the prisoner free and then discover the prisoner was you".

I'm inspired by the actions of others. Sometimes it may be someone famous or sometimes it's a friend, colleague or client that inspires me. I'm sure whatever it is that they say was the result of their being inspired.
I'm inspired in my prayers and meditations. This is particularly powerful since I am able to shut down the clamour in my mind and feel the presence of peace and comfort instead.

I'm inspired by books. There are countless books that I have read in my adult life that have left an imprint that still resonate with me today. An early book that inspired me on my spiritual path was Awareness by Anthony DeMello.

I'm inspired by music. Listening to piano or saxophone can easily lull me back to peace if I'm stressed or anxious. My Dirty Dancing soundtrack inspires me to move (I am inspired to dance with my vacuum and clean my house).

I'm inspired by journaling. I can sit with a pen in my hand, poised on the book and words flow onto the paper. They are always loving, understanding words that are just what I need to see.

I'm inspired by watching children play since they are simply being themselves, creating and using their natural gifts without fear of being judged.

I'm inspired by art that obviously is the result of the artist being inspired.

I'm inspired by theater. I love to be moved to tears and to laugh until my belly hurts.

These examples are merely a sample of sources and outcomes of my abundant inspiration.

What inspires you?

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Are You Waiting For?

Based on my own past history and the stories I have heard from many friends and clients, I've seen how we can put the brakes on our own growth, learning, adventures and potential successes of any type because we are in the practice of waiting. We may be waiting for the right time, the right situation, the right people, the right setting, the right opportunity, the right funding, the right body weight or shape, the right guidance or the right support. While we wait we also can tend to complain about the absence of what it is we are waiting for.

Many times waiting for something to unfold rather than forcing something to happen is the perfect answer. On the other hand, sometimes our waiting is actually just stalling. We may be afraid to play big in life so we hide behind the Waiting List of reasons to not make a move. While we wait, we are likely to not feel very fulfilled.

So how do we know if we are in a state of mindful timing in our waiting or are simply just delaying our own success? A good place to check in with yourself is how you feel.

If the feelings of excitement regarding whatever it is you are wanting to create in your life are strong, then you will feel really good whenever you think about it. Waiting will not feel like stalling. The thinking (and good feelings) about your desire is actually moving you along your path closer to your dream. When your focus is strong in thought, the people, opportunities, funds and inspirations to make it happen will be scattered about on your path. As long as you respond to the signposts along the way with the appropriate actions and appreciation, you will keep the momentum steadily moving in a positive direction.

On the other hand, if you notice you are feeling frustrated, fearful, disappointed or angry most of the time, you are actually getting in your own way. Typically these states of mind produce feelings that would fall into the negative category where it may feel as though you are moving away from your dream or desire, rather than closer to it. If you notice you complain fairly often about your dream not happening is a good sign you're blocking your own progress.

The good news is we are each in control of our own thoughts. So to get yourself on a positive track, think positive thoughts. Picture what it is you are wanting. See it in detail. Feel how you would feel when it happens. Get yourself excited about it. Talk about it. Look at pictures that remind you of your desire. Write about it and then watch how things will fall into place to make it a reality.
This positive, trusting, non-attached type of focus keeps your mind clear so you can see the steps needed to move you along. Of course, you also need to be ready and willing to take those steps. When you are truly ready to live your life without limits you'll know when the time is right to take action, and you will know it is right by how it feels.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some Things Never Change

I returned home a few hours ago from a week-end get away at a quaint cottage in the woods with my best friend from high school and our husbands. The saying "some things never change" was very much a part of my week-end experience.

My friend, Shirley, and I have only occasionally gotten together over the last 37 years. We were both married young, I moved away from our hometown, we raised our kids and had active lives in different communities. Last year, Shirley and I decided we needed to get together and reconnect for longer than a brief fly-by visit when I'd be in my hometown to see family. Since October of last year, we have had three week-end get aways that have all seemed like no time has passed since high school and college.

The greatest unchanging quality of my time with Shirley is our ability to laugh at everything. It doesn't matter what it may be about, we seem to stimulate each other's talent for seeing the humor in everything. Although we have always been different in the personality department...Shirley is quiet and prefers privacy and I'm outgoing looking for connections, there has been a bond that is hard to describe between us.

Maybe it is because we shared our deepest selves with one another at a very vulnerable time of our lives. We shared complete trust. We saw each others strengths and encouraged each other to see them too. We had the ability to find humor in everything, which would heal the wounds from the challenging times and make the good times even better.

Without being able to fully describe the "why" of our longstanding friendship, I completely appreciate what "is" in our friendship by the way I feel. It feels like time has not passed, even though our lives have changed dramatically. It feels safe. It feels unconditionally loving. It feels true.