Having a vision of what we want in life is important to our efforts of getting what we want, but we also must take action.
There is a popular misconception that we might be able to just wish our dreams into being. Maybe on some other level of consciousness this is the case, but here on earth what we need to do is take action in our lives. Vision is an important companion to our efforts, but it can't accomplish anything all by itself. When we focus on what we want and ask for what we want, we are initiating a conversation with the universe. Our desires, passionately defined and expressed, bring about valuable and relevant opportunities, which we then respond to by either taking or leaving them.
Many of us are afraid to step out into the world and make things happen, and so we hang back, dreaming and waiting and watching. There are times in life when this is the right thing to do, but this phase of inaction must eventually give way to its opposite if we are to build our dreams into a reality. This can be really scary, and we may fail and struggle, but that's okay because that's what we're supposed to do. Waiting for everything to be perfect before we act, or waiting for what we want to be handed to us, leaves us waiting forever. No one expects us to be perfect, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and take action on our dreams.
One of the hardest parts about having a vision is that when we test it in the laboratory of life, it often comes out looking completely different than what we had in mind or, worse, it doesn't come out at all. If you read the life stories of people who have brought their dreams into reality, you will hear many stories about this experience. But you will also hear about hard work, taking action, perseverance, and, finally, the successful birthing of a dream.
True lasting success comes only with surrender, which is the opposite of control.
Most of us were raised and live in a culture that emphasizes the ideals of independence and control. The general idea is that we are on our own and we don't need any help from anyone else, and if we are really successful it's because we are in complete control. However, true lasting success comes only with surrender, which is the opposite of control. We cannot accomplish anything truly great on our own, without any help, and the idea that we can is an illusion that causes most of us a great deal of suffering. Surrender comes when we see that illusion and let go of trying to attain the impossible. Surrender can then be seen as a great strength rather than a weakness.
Even small moments of surrender are powerful indicators of how different our lives could be if we would only let go. We've all had the experience of extending huge amounts of effort and energy to reach a particular goal only to realize that we can't make it happen after all. At the moment of letting go, realizing that we need to ask for help or simply release our agenda entirely, a profound feeling of relief may rush over us. This warm, open sensation is the essence of surrender, and if we didn't feel that we didn't really let go. But it is never too late to let go, even of things in the past that didn't work out the way we wanted them to, because surrender is always an option in every moment of our lives.
When we finally do surrender, our goals actually become possible, because the act of surrender is, in essence, asking for the help we need. This help may come in the form of other human beings or unseen helpers such as angels or inner guides. It may also come in the form of shifting circumstances, the small miracles that we call grace.
To many, the coming of a new year represents an opportunity to begin again. It is a time to step off of dead-end paths in order to create a fork in the road, disassociating from the old, and aligning with fresh possibilities. Harnessing the power of this transformative energy is a matter of truly believing that resolutions can conquer past patterns. If we believe we are capable of changing our lives, we are more apt to believe that we are capable of leaving our mistakes behind. Our dedication, which might otherwise falter, is buoyed by hope. Thus, the beginning of the new year is traditionally a popular time to tackle difficult tasks such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or fulfilling worldly ambitions. But the transition from year to year can also be an opportune occasion to pursue emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth because we no longer feel burdened by regret and disappointment.
Whatever your reality, it is within your power to create the fork that allows you to walk a more conscious, grounded path. Viewing the start of the coming year as a time of rebirth allows you to focus on what you want to accomplish in the coming weeks, months, and years. Because you are a new person--in other words, a clean slate--you are free to immerse yourself in new experiences with impunity. If you feel a need to reconnect with your spirituality, consider taking up yoga, meditation, or another discipline that challenges both your mental and physical selves. Fill your newly-cleansed mind with stimulating knowledge, poignant wisdom, and useful skills. Clearing your home or workspace of clutter can improve the flow of energy in your life, giving you the momentum you need to stay true to your resolutions. And beginning a fresh journal can be a wonderful way to celebrate these developing aspects of your life.
In the ancient Babylonian, Chinese, and Celtic traditions, the period marking the transition from the old year to the new was viewed as a struggle between chaos and order, in which order always prevailed. Your belief that you, too, can banish chaos and integrate your dreams, desires, and goals more fully into your life will give you the determination and fortitude to change your life for the better.
When we laugh, we give ourselves over to the immediacy of the present moment and transcend stress.
Many people might be surprised to think of laughter as a form of meditation. Yet not only is laughing meditation one of the simplest forms of meditation, but also it is a very powerful one. The physical act of laughing is one of the few actions involving the body, emotions, and the soul. When we laugh, we give ourselves over to the immediacy of the present moment. We also are able to momentarily transcend minor physical and mental stresses. Practiced in the morning, laughing meditation can lend a joyful quality to the entire day. Practiced in the evening, laughing meditation is a potent relaxant that has been known to inspire pleasant dreams. Laughter also can help open our eyes to previously unnoticed absurdities that can make life seem less serious.
There are three stages to mindful laughter. Each stage can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. The first stage involves stretching your body like a cat and breathing deeply. Your stretch should start at the hands and feet before you move through the rest of your body. Stretch out the muscles in your face by yawning and making silly faces. The second stage of the meditation is pure laughter. Imagine a humorous situation, remember funny jokes, or think about how odd it is to be laughing by yourself. When the giggles start to rise, let them. Let the laughter ripple through your belly and down into the soles of your feet. Let the laughter lead to physical movement. Roll on the floor, if you have to, and keep on laughing until you stop. The final stage of the meditation is one of silence. Sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breath.
Laughter brings with it a host of positive effects that operate on both the physical and mental levels. It is also fun, expressive, and a way to release tension. Learn to laugh in the present moment, and you'll find that joy is always there.
When offering comfort to somebody, their only real need is to have you be in the present moment with them.
Sometimes it is difficult to see someone we love struggling, in pain, or hurting. When this happens, we might feel like we need to be proactive and do something to ease their troubles. While others may want our help, it is important to keep in mind that we need to be sensitive to what they truly want in the moment, since it can be all too easy to get carried away and say or do more than is really needed. Allowing ourselves to let go and simply exist in the present with another person may actually provide a greater amount of comfort and support than we could ever imagine.
Perhaps we can think back to a time when we were upset and needed a kind word, hug, or listening ear from someone else. As we remember these times, we might think of the gestures of kindness that were the most healing. It may have been gentle words such as "I care about you," or the soothing presence of someone holding us and not expecting anything that were the most consoling. When we are able to go back to these times it becomes easier for us to keep in mind that giving advice or saying more than is really necessary is not always reassuring. What is truly comforting for another is not having someone try to fix them or their problems, but to just be there for them. Should we begin to feel the urge arise to offer advice or repair a situation, we can take a few deep breaths, let the impulse pass, and bring our attention back to the present. Even though we may want to do more, we do not have to do anything other than this to be a good friend.
The more we are attuned to what our loved ones are feeling, the more capable we are of truly giving what is best for them in their hour of need. Keeping things simple helps us give the part of ourselves that is capable of the greatest amount of compassion--open ears and an understanding heart.
We can all vow to make the world a better place one day at a time by being our true authentic selves.
Each of us is more than capable of helping the world, despite our fears and limitations and the uncertainty that holds us back. It is commonly accepted that it is impossible to make a difference without unlimited funding or free time, yet most healing, cleansing, and spreading of joy is accomplished in a matter of minutes. If we vow to make the world a better place one day at a time, the true significance of small good deeds reveals itself to us. We come to see that we can be of service without dedicating our lives to recognized charities or giving up the pleasures we enjoy. The warmth we feel when we help the world is only a tiny part of the affirmative transformations that take place when we make altruism a part of everyday existence.
We make our homes, workplaces, communities, and countries better and brighter when we think positive thoughts that echo outward, give donations of time or money, smile at everyone we meet, and lend those in need of aid our assistance. As we learn, we inadvertently improve the universe because we can only be truly involved when we are informed. Even enthusiastically sharing ideas with others generates positive energy that then serves as the motivation for more tangible change. Selfless and helpful deeds remind us that we exercise some degree of control over a world that can seem chaotic at times. Even the smallest of such deeds is a demonstration of the fact that we are capable of changing the world in a positive way. So much negative energy is generated by the suffering, pain, and close-mindedness we are regularly exposed to, but we can counteract it in a constructive way by thinking and acting altruistically when opportunities to do so arise.
Helping the world often takes no more than a moment, just a wish for the world is a beautiful gesture and can be done by even the busiest of people effortlessly. The gift you give each day need not be grand or attention-worthy because the broader benefits are the same no matter the literal repercussions. Once a day, you can affect reality, and you can reap the rewards of knowing that you are making the world a better place, day by day.
If you are feeling stuck in your life and are ready for change, take time to declare to the Universe that you are ready.
There comes a point in most of our lives when we feel ready to experience a change we've had trouble carrying out. Maybe we've been stuck in a home, a relationship, job, or a town that hasn't felt right for a long time, but we've been unable to shift our circumstances in the direction we want to go. At times like this, it can help to declare to the universe that we are ready for a change. Think of it as informing a helpful friend that you need her assistance to move to the next level in your life. If the time is right, the universe will respond with opportunities and offers designed to help you create the change you wish to see.
You can begin the process of making your declaration by getting clear within yourself about what exactly you want to change. Whenever we ask anyone for help, they can assist us that much better if we are specific. The universe also appreciates our clarity and has an easier time answering a direct communication than a vague yearning. When you are clear on what you want, write your declaration on a piece of paper and place it on your altar, if you have one. If you don‚t, you can also place it under your pillow or in a box on your nightstand. Set aside a period of time every day to be silent with your wishes for change, repeating your declaration like a mantra. This lets the universe know that you are ready to change and will be receptive to its efforts.
Feel free to continue to refine and redefine your declaration, and remember to be open to the many different ways in which the change you seek might come to be. Remember also to be active in your own efforts, taking opportunities that come your way, watching for signs, and always taking responsibility for your intentions. If things don't happen quickly, try not to be discouraged; it might take time to free up energy that has been blocked and possibly serving a purpose beyond what we can understand. If you continue your conversation with the universe, declaring yourself clearly and openly, you cannot help but experience the magic of changing and being changed.
Living a human life deeply with an open heart requires courage. There are inevitable losses and challenges. Some days it's easy to hop out of bed, eager to face the day. And sometimes- occasionally for no immediately apparent reason- it takes a lot of courage to put your feet on the floor and move toward your familiar tasks.
When we face a challenge that needs to be dealt with over months or years, sometimes remembering that all things will pass just doesn't help much. When I face these kinds of challenges I do three things to encourage my lagging spirit:
1) I reign in the terrified mind that is slipping into imagining "The Worst" by telling myself, "Stay here. . . Breathe. Inhale. . . . Exhale. . . . Stay here,"- for ten to twenty slow breaths (repeating as often as I need to during the day;)
2) I ask myself what needs to be done in the next five minutes and I do that one thing without thinking about what comes next (ie.- continuing to focus on my breath.) The more severe the pain (physical or emotional,) the more specific I become, changing for example, "make a cup of tea" to "fill the kettle with water."
3) I set up small daily moments of appreciative self-care and skilful distraction. Appreciative self-care may include having something wonderful to eat, (preferably a tasty green smoothy instead of a bag of cookies) taking a slow walk in a local park, or having a conversation with a friend. Skilful distractions are things that occupy me fully- giving me a break- without leaving any kind of "hangover" (like watching a movie that makes me laugh- or even one that makes me cry if I need the release- instead of channel surfing for hours and becoming tired but wired.)
How we each encourage ourselves is, of course, very individual. On some level it's about recognizing that we are in need of encouragement- of finding that which feds our courage- whether we're dealing with difficult external circumstances or challenging internal states that are not entirely or immediately in the control of our will. Some days life unfolds with effortless ease, and other days. . . . well, other days we need a little encouragement. I was pleased to find that the instinctual desire to find ways and reasons to continue, to lean into life, was confirmed as an aspect of what we are. And I find that very encouraging.
Our problems can't be solved by eliminating each and every outer cause. Nevertheless, people everywhere take this approach: "It's the world's fault; it's too rough, too sharp, too alien. If I could get rid of these outer woes, I'd be happy."
If you want to protect your feet, wear shoes; and if you want to protect yourself from the world's provocations, tame your mind. The antidote to misery is to stay present.
Each of us is given a multitude of gifts at birth. We all possess extraordinary talents and capabilities. There are no exceptions. Our first choice is to live our life as our authentic self, as the person we really are deep down inside. When we do that, we can access a grand library of all that is possible for us--the journeys through life that are right for us. This allows us to make choices that flow from who we are and what we can be. That's when life works.