Passion frightens people. We are told to find our passion and pursue it, and simultaneously censured for being too passionate. The world sets out to tame and calm us while telling us to live our passion fully. I unfortunately learned over the years to hide my passion in most situations. Full out laughter might result in someone telling me I was being too loud or that people were looking at me. Crying meant I was just an over-emotional female. Spreading my arms in the night wind inevitably resulted in someone asking me what I was “on” since clearly that kind of passion requires drugs. A lover once told me while I was wrapped in his arms that I was getting carried away, which of course I thought was the point.
And then there is work, where I was told over and over “we can tell you are passionate” in a disapproving tone. This happened everywhere from fund-raising meetings, where one needs a bit of passion, to academic councils where I was bringing new innovative programs for approval. Of course this took place in an academic setting where we ask faculty to share their passion with students, and to fill students with passion for a discipline and lifelong learning.
Over and over again we are instructed to live our passion and then told to tone it down. What if we live our passion and fall completely in love, only to have our hearts broken? What if we find a career we are passionate about and then find after a few years that we have fallen out of love and need a new direction? What if we are passionate about our family and fight to protect them? Or what if we are passionate about an issue, form a non-profit and change the world? A life of passion is dangerous.
This mixed message has hounded and haunted me. Am I having too much fun, too much in love with being alive, or perhaps just too much in love? Why should I dispassionately discuss my passion? Who is allowed to be passionate? Or maybe the question is who is courageous enough to be passionate.
Clearly people on the TED stage are passionate, as are commencement speakers, singers, performers and some fund-raisers. I have loved my passionate teachers and students, as well as the one time I had a fearlessly passionate lover. When I feel truly alive passion fills me, overflowing and dripping from my heart like thick sweet honey. Finding and feeling passion is not the issue, the challenge is having the courage to live it, sharing my honey like wine with a parched world.
I have spent years learning to moderate my voice in meetings, to sound dispassionate about topics that actually demand passion. I have learned to walk calmly and with strength, never displaying joy in my step. It is only when I am alone or with close friends that I let my love of life show on my face and in my demeanor. Until recently.
Something cut through the boundaries and borders of control that I have built over the years, and much like candy dancing free from the restraints of a piñata, my passion has broken free. I do not know where the courage came from to truly show up. Perhaps Kris Kristofferson was right when he wrote “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And perhaps finding freedom has made show off my passion. Perhaps it was the tango lessons that helped me shift my calm walk to a tango strut. Maybe I finally realized that my ability to laugh is a gift that positively changes the energy in a room. Or perhaps I just know that my meaning and purpose in life comes from being courageous enough to let my passion flow.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Life sometimes shifts when we least expect it to. Do you ever feel like you are dancing to repeating rhythms and melodies, songs that haunt you and at times retreat into the dark? And then suddenly, without fuss you find yourself at that wondrous crossroads of wisdom and desire where spirit speaks to you.
A place so sensuous and seductive that you have no choice but to let your soul awaken and dance to a different beat?
Perhaps this is the gift of spring, the rebirth of our mojo, our “muchness” as the Mad Hatter said to Alice. As the days grow longer and the cold retreats we explore a world full of options and opportunities. We shake off the illusions and scars that never defined us and make choices based on desire and wisdom, an unbeatable combination. Winter warns us that the world is dangerous and cold, but spring invites us to dive into our desires with passion and laughter and a bit of grace.
Maybe it is the wind that blows through our now open windows, or the scent of wild flowers that distract us from our fears. All we know is that life is calling and we must answer.
The crossroads is a meeting place where the voice of the universe speaks to us, reminding us that we will never really lose our craving for life and the touch of wildness on our hearts. Wisdom and desire are intertwined, and promise to be our guides. This is where I have found myself, dancing at the crossroads with just enough fear to know that an adventure awaits.
Perhaps it is the trip I am planning, or perhaps it is love just beyond the bend in the path.
Or best of all, perhaps I am about to meet my own powerful self, a part of me I was afraid had frozen in the past. If I am truly lucky, it will be all of these and more.
Do you feel the adventure of life calling to you? It does not take much to respond. Open the door and put your feet on a trail or a beach, or perhaps a dance floor. Spread your arms and twirl in the sunshine, letting your hair tangle and swirl.
Stop guarding your heart and start embracing love.
Everything you desire is here, because you are standing where desire and wisdom, love and passion, clarity and sensuality meet.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Are you someone who builds trust or someone who tears it down?
The ability to build trust is a competency of high emotional intelligence. Being trustworthy means to be ethical when working with and relating to others. It means doing the right thing even when you know no one will find out. When you are a trust builder, others have confidence that your actions are consistent with your words and know that you have their best interest at heart -- not only your own. If you are a trust builder, you demonstrate respect for others’ experiences, understand the hurt that deceitfulness can cause, and bring more value to relationships than pain.
Those who are strong in this competency tend to share information about themselves and don't keep secrets. They treat others consistently and with respect, and maintain high standards of personal integrity. They maintain a lifestyle that they don't have to hide from others. When you hear them talk about something, you know that their actions will match up with their words, and you can count on them to deliver on their promises and commitments.
Those who aren't so strong in this competency aren't able to build open, candid, trusting relationships. They've most likely developed a reputation for lacking integrity, and often make promises that they do not keep. They will do what serves them best even if it means undermining another person to get what they want. They lie about little things, and lie about big things. If you ask them what their values are, you may get the 'deer in the headlights' look, as they often have troubles defining their standards in the name of being 'open-minded' or 'non-judgmental'. They tend to blame others for their mistakes and withhold information to keep them out of 'trouble.'
“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” --Seth Godin
It's impossible to lead without being able to build trust. When others begin to doubt you, they will think twice about following you and question whether or not you are worth teaming up with. They will mistrust your ideas and direction, and worry that you may be putting YOUR best interests before their own.
It's true that it takes a long time to build trust but only an instant to destroy it. One self-centered lie or act of deceit can ruin how others view you for days and months to come.
Why are some trust breakers? For many, the practice of deceit stems from deep-rooted fears…fear of being accepted, fear of being known, fear of punishment, fear of self, fear of being held to expectations, fear of letting others down, fear of being disliked, fear of being an disappointment...the list goes on and on. The thing is, we all have fears. We all want to be liked and accepted and valuable in others' eyes. But the difference between trust builders and trust breakers is that the trust builders face their fears by understanding that honesty and authenticity are what bring about those results, where trust breakers think dishonesty will get them there. But a life of deceit won't bring about deep, meaningful relationships that we all desire.
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” -- Zig Ziglar
Not sure if you're a trust builder or a trust breaker?
Look over these statements, and give yourself a score for each, using this scale: 1= Always, 2=Almost always 3=Occasionally 4=Almost never 5=Never
1. I share my thoughts, feelings and decision-making rationale.
2. I am able to establish trusting relationships.
3. I am open to others' ideas and willing to be influenced by others.
4. I treat people with respect.
5. I am able to influence others as a result of talking with them.
6. I have developed a reputation for integrity.
7. I treat all people fairly.
8. I say what I believe rather than what I think people want to hear.
9. I strive to behave consistently with my expressed beliefs and values.
10.I practice what I preach.
11.I focus on solving problems rather than blaming or hiding.
12.I admit my mistakes.
13.I deliver on promises and commitments.
14.I ask others for their opinions.
15.I listen to people's thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and am able to feel empathy.
16.I solicit feedback about my performance.
17.I acknowledge the contributions and worth of others.
18.When there is a problem, I work directly with those involved to resolve it.
19.I treat people consistently.
20.I follow through on the things I commit to do, even if it's not convenient for me.
Now, add up your scores and see where you land, below:
1-20 - Your ability to build trust is high
21-40 - Your ability to build trust is moderately high
41-60 - Your ability to build trust is moderate
61-80 - Your ability to build trust has room for improvement
81-100 - Your ability to build trust needs serious improvement
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” --Stephen R. Covey
If your ability to build trust needs some work, take heart. We are talking about behavior--what you do, not who you are. Behaviors can be changed. If you would like to shift from being a trust breaker to a trust builder, here are some developmental tips to try:
Team up with an emotional intelligence coach to help you set goals and hold you accountable as you begin this journey.
Practice listening to others in a way that allows you to know what's on their minds and in their hearts.
Always deliver on your commitments. No excuses. If you are one who tends to promise then cancel --stop making the promises in the first place.
Be emotionally available to those around you -- share the things in your heart without stretching the truth to make yourself look good.
Never knowingly mislead or lie. If you catch yourself doing it -- stop and admit the truth. It's so very freeing and you'll find people respect you when you admit it in the moment.
Articulate your values to those around you and ask them if your actions match up.
Admit your mistakes without blame or shame.
Get in the habit of putting others' needs in front of your own.
Check to see if what you do in secret matches up to your public persona -- if not, in which arena are you not being true? Then ask yourself why. Just being aware of the gap is a good start to changing behaviors.
Forgive yourself of past mistakes. If you've spent a lifetime lying, it's never too late to come clean and make a fresh start.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you're not sure if you should be honest or not -- keep this in mind:
“For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.” -- Bo Bennett
Putting aside your patterns of lying, deceiving and hiding, and stepping into the brave new world of integrity will open up the doors of opportunity for stronger, healthier relationships. Yes, it's going to take some work and effort. It may feel uncomfortable to begin to let others truly know you. You may face rejection and at times, disappoint people. But though it's can be a difficult process to shift behaviors, it's worth it. Becoming someone others can trust will help you develop the connection, both at work and in your personal life, that you need and desire.
This article was written by Amy Sargent.
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
This topic is so very important for your overall health and longevity. Diet, exercise, hydration, even sunshine and sleep—it’s all connected. And one of the great results of living a healthy way of life. Taken care of properly, your body is less likely to experience illness. By maximizing those things that strengthen the body and minimizing the things that weaken the body, naturally you’ll be able to enjoy life at your greatest potential.
I’m not claiming that you’ll never feel under the weather, but I can state with confidence that your odds will be lower as your body’s immune system becomes stronger. The body is commonly underestimated when it comes to both prevention of illness and healing. We live in a society where often the first recourse is to turn to modern science, to depend on pharmaceuticals to fix what’s ailing us. But a body well taken care of has an extraordinary ability to take care of itself. Life-force created via lifestyle heals and is the body’s preferred remedy.
It’s important make a note here about cancer. Cancer prevention (and healing) is primarily about strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C (one of the essential antioxidants), as we know, is an amazing immune-system booster, reputed to be the most effective anti-cancer agent there is. Naturally this is what Infinity-C, a blend of superior high-vitamin C superfoods, is all about. Vitamin D is also a huge part of your immune system. It’s quite ironic that the correct amount of sunshine for vitamin D has proven to help with cancer recovery. (Of course too much sun should be avoided to prevent the opposite effect. This topic I cover extensively in Infinity Health Manual.) Note: part of why there is often compromise of the immune system during the winter is because we get less sunshine. This is why having additional vitamin C, beginning this time of year, is important.
Another important topic to address here is that the most common disease (I don’t like to word ‘disease’. Anything is curable; even broken genes.) of our modern world, is autoimmune disease. (I talk about this topic quite a bit in Infinity Health Manual. Autoimmune disease affects at least twenty-five million people in the United States. That’s eight percent of our population. And it’s rapidly increasing. As you may know autoimmune disease is when the immune system turns on and attacks the body itself. Besides allergies (the most common case), some of the more well-known strains include type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and celiac. The common denominator is attack on the body by the immune system. The most common effect on the attacked area of the body is inflammation, the swelling of tissues, making it unreachable for nutrient rich blood that is trying to come to the rescue.
Just forty years ago, autoimmune disease was virtually non-existent. Interestingly, in third-world countries, it’s still virtually non-existent. It exists almost exclusively in developed countries. So what’s going on? The simple fact is, it’s greatly correlated with diet and lifestyle. Yes, in some cases it’s genetic, but still, various things can be implemented to fix even genes. That, we will talk about soon.
Mostly it’s about adding vital nutrients that recover the intelligence of the immune system (the immune system works hand-in-hand with the neurological system) while cutting the toxic junk out. Believe it or not, adding a few things to your diet and removing a few others is what most often saves the day. Remember there are two powerhouse nutrients that are the most vital to the immune system: vitamin C and vitamin D. Some might think boosting the immune system would be the exact wrong thing to do in the case of autoimmune disease, given the fact that the immune system is already attacking itself. But what you’re really doing is restoring your body’s instinctive healing wisdom. The intelligence of the immune system is truly awesome, and it does a lot more than just fighting colds.
Naturally, to boost the body’s immune powers, it’s vital to cut out the junk, and to let the body heal itself. By now, you can guess what the food culprits are: processed sugar, low-grade animal protein, cheap oils, flour, and similar heavily processed food. Another huge “junk” factor is toxic chemicals. Toxic household items like cleaners and air-fresheners are proven to weaken the immune system significantly. Unquestionably, these can be causatives, at least to some degree, and over time the wear and tear of these pollutants weakens the immune system.
Another culprit: antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers were originally intended to take on the role of your immune system. In December of 2013, the FDA questioned soap companies to address the potential risks of using such products daily. The active antibacterial ingredient has been proven to be toxic, and ironically weakens the immune system. On top of this, there’s no evidence that antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Finally, as of this writing, the FDA is working to ban these terrible soaps. Let’s allow the superior immune system to do its job!
And another: antibiotics and some vaccines are now linked to reduced immunity! What an irony! The data are real. These culprits kill the bad bacteria while also killing the good bacteria we need in order to maintain a healthy immune system. Antibiotics may play a role when the situation is desperate and life threatening. Even still, after utilized, there needs to be some follow-up damage control with a healing diet and lifestyle. Most important is replacing the intestinal flora that gets killed with the use of antibiotics. This is the role of a probiotic supplement (which is why it’s an important part of the Infinity Greens formula).
There’s another very important topic we need to address when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system: stress. Stress is essentially anything that puts strain on the mind or body. This includes many things such as lack of sleep, anxiety, poor diet, anger, sadness, and guilt—essentially anything that makes us feel less at ease. The reality is that this is all naturally part of life to a degree.
Stress releases hormones like cortisol that, short term, aren’t such a big deal, as the body knows how to remedy this. But on a regular basis they create as much wear and tear as junk food. And ultimately stress makes the mind and body weaker. Believe it or not, stress is actually proven to be the primary source of all illness. The first thing stress weakens is the immune system, the body’s capability of protecting and restoring itself.
The idea here is how we handle stress, like taking action to remove the common stressful circumstances that come up in daily life. Another vitally important part of reducing the effects of stress is exercise, and more than most people realize. Here’s why: stress produces adrenaline. Adrenaline unused leaves the body weaker and the mind irritable and more vulnerable to low moods. So the idea is to “exorcise” the adrenaline, booting it out of the body to leave everything stronger at the end, including your natural ability to cope with stress in the future. The big picture here is to live a life that reduces the stressors and incorporates restorative anti-stress elements such as a healthy diet, time in the outdoors, exercise, esteem-building activities, and spending time with joyous companions.
With regard to any malady, a truly healthy lifestyle cannot be emphasized enough. The potential healing powers of the body are awesome. Truly. All we need to do is nurture it with diet, exercise, pure water, fresh air, and sunshine. And positive thinking, too! (Shoot, what does that one have to be so hard sometimes! Remember you’re not alone. And it’s part of what friends are for.) The magnificent life-force this can yield is the body’s preferred preventative of illness and remedy too.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
Carl Sagan once wrote, “We were wanderers from the beginning”. As far as we know, this is true: our ancestors were nomads, crossing savannahs and jungles and forests, ever restless, in search of the next meal or friendlier climes. From the beginning, we were never entirely satisfied with our lot. The relentless push to civilization seems motivated by a single-minded desire for an ever-better life; one where at last we have beaten back the caprice of life to know happiness, satiation, and safety.
It is more than this: beyond the callings of our basic animal appetites, a deeper yearning seizes our hearts and minds. We want to know the world and our place within it. We want to understand this mysterious life, an inchoate hunger far more difficult to feed than an empty stomach. Perhaps it is in part borne of our social nature: a basic instinct to feel safe and certain through connection with something larger than ourselves. Perhaps it lies even deeper; with the arising of the human mind, the cosmos is expressing a need to behold and understand itself — a brilliant flash of sentience that illumines Indra’s Net, bearing witness to its glory.
Whatever the origins, we long to belong, and to understand. The nomadic spirit runs deep within us, we are restlessly in search of a home that seems ever to recede over the horizon, an elsewhere whose very appeal is its unattainability, its mystery, its promise of salvation and peace. The irony for this restless, curious wanderer is that we have always been home, and we have always belonged. Throughout history, we have had moments of insight that this deepest hope is true: that we are profoundly at home in the universe. This truth has never changed, but our yearning imagination has wandered far and wide, leaving our hearts heavy with anxiety, a nameless dissatisfaction with life.
For centuries we have seen ourselves as separate from Nature and pitted against her in a titanic and desperate struggle to dominate and survive. We are struggling heroically to awaken from this nightmare.
Though it is true that life is tenuous, the world often dangerous, there is no adversary Out There, only an internal struggle to embrace this life just as it is — beauty and ugliness, miracle and horror. It would appear to be a basic truth of our human psychology that when we fully recognize our Oneness with the world, something in us lets go. It is somehow impossible for us to be at war with the world when we see that the world is us and that we are it. Peace fills our hearts and we come forth changed beings, manifesting the miracle without the distortions of struggle. Life may remain difficult, but it is enchanted with new meaning — it is, in the words of Sǿren Kierkegaard, no longer “a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived”.
Yet although a few of us in each age set down the struggle, most of us do not. It is a core purpose in my life to pursue an end to the delusion of separation and to convey what meager understanding I achieve to others in the hope, however vain, that this Great Peace can spread itself more broadly among us in the coming years. It is my belief that the science of today tells a powerful story about our kinship with the whole of the world, revealing quite clearly that this restless nomad has wandered far and may wander much farther still, but has never, not even for a moment, left home.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
No doubt about it, life can—and undoubtedly will—have its challenges. For a variety of reasons—some self-imposed, some not—there are bound to be times in your life when you experience some fairly undesirable situations.
In those circumstances, you may experience fear, sadness, disappointment, or anger. But believe it or not, underneath it all, there will also be . . . joy. Not joy in the typical sense of feeling elated in the moment, but the joy of your inner divine spirit. It's the kind of joy that embraces all of life and living . . . not just the peaceful parts.
Consider this: When you go to an amusement park, don’t you choose to go on the scary rides as well as the more pleasant ones? Why is that? Isn’t it because you feel fundamentally safe? And isn’t it the combination of those contrasting experiences that brings you pleasure—even joy?
So it is with your divine spirit. To your spirit, life is one big amusement park. And since your spirit is eternal and indestructible, it always feels safe enough to enjoy (to have joy in) the experience of life as a whole.
Are you experiencing some kind of stress or distress in your life right now? Then remember to take a moment to affirm who you truly are at the core of your being. In prayer and meditation, consciously connect with your inner divine essence—your eternal spirit—and get in touch with the unending joy that resides there. It’s the joy of just being alive and in the world. And it’s a joy that is there no matter what kind of ride you happen to be on.
This article was written by Steven Lane Taylor.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
It takes courage to show up for prosperity.
What if you just showed up for yourself today? What if all it took to build the prosperity you crave was to be profoundly present in your own life, in your own body, in your own story? Do you have the courage to live with this depth of belief and authenticity, to be alive in the moment regardless of the risks?
It is safer to live in the past, ruminating, remembering, re-writing, and grieving, than it is to live in the present. The past is familiar territory; we know what will hurt and what we can rejoice in. We made that great play, or we missed the mark. We chose love or career or adventure, for good or bad, and we know how the story goes. There is safety in this predictability, even if it is painful.
It is easier to worry about the future, or to spin great stories in which we play the starring role, than it is to begin the work before us. Our dreams are safe, requiring no investment of energy or time. And we can blame our unfulfilled dreams on some vague past event that we label as a pivotal moment, spreading the blame across space and time and people. We can create amazing futures, but only from the present. We can learn from our past, but only when we are alive now. It is only in this moment that sensuality and love exist. It is only in the now that we can experience and build and create and grow. We are truly alive only in real-time, in the gift of this moment.
And when we have the courage to incarnate fully in the moment we have the power to create a prosperous reality. When we face our fears of being wonderful beings of light, when we are willing to release the wounds of the past, we will without effort find we have embraced our deepest truth and power. This is the home of love and manifestation, and the foundation for prosperity.
This article was written by Elisa Robyn
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
Love is the total giving of oneself without agenda; not asking for anything in return or holding anything back. Compassion, being one of the highest forms of love, is the understanding of lack of understanding in another being, as well as within ourselves. It allows for us to express loving kindness in the face of ignorance.
It has been said that the only problem we only ever have is ignorance. This is true. None of the harmful deeds us humans perform are born out of malice or ill will. They merely arise from a small and limited perspective of the true nature of reality.
Most individuals are trapped in the egoic illusion of lack and separation. The ego’s mantra is: I am not enough, and there is not enough. Caught in that misperception, an individual believes that the only way for them to be and have enough is to try to get it from the world. And so they move through life seeking worth and validation from the outside world. They live under the impression that they have to compete for it and to ultimately (hopefully) win it.
From this perspective, hurting or harming another individual, seems legitimate since life is a competition. Like the survival of the fittest if you will. This is the life in and with the ego.
Choice is a function of awareness
Now as we grow and unfold spiritually. As we mature. As we come into greater and greater insights, we realize that we live in a cosmos where there is only abundance and unity. There is only one Divine Whole. And nothing is ever separated from anything else.
As we realize this, we also begin to realize that when someone is in the grip of the ego, there is no need for blame or guilt. They are merely more or less temporarily unconscious.
From this higher perspective, we realize the futility of placing blame when someone does something we are triggered by. They are merely reacting that way because the lack they the understanding to act in any other way. They have merely gone unconscious, and we happen to be in the vicinity of them at that moment.
Much in the same way we don’t blame a small child for not yet having learned to read, ride a bike or not make a mess when eating. We realize that they are in the process of learning. In that process, they have only learned what they have learned in any given moment.
It is said that choice is a function of awareness. This means that in order to be able to make a choice - we need to be aware that we get to choose. If we are not aware that we have a choice then effectively cannot make that choice.
Compassion is the understanding of lack of understanding.
Compassion then, is the understanding of this. It is the understanding that when an individual reacts as oppose to responds, they do so merely because they are not aware of the options.
They are not aware that there is another way. That they can choose to respond to a situation or circumstance with love rather than fear, worry or doubt. Obviously the same goes for us.
The best response to any situation, any circumstance, any individual is that of love and compassion.
Choose love and compassion over fear, worry, and doubt.
And so, whenever we are faced with the ignorance or unconsciousness of another individual – we may gently remind ourselves that it has nothing to do with us. We need not ever take it personally. At this moment they are merely unconscious. And we just happened to be there to witness and experience it.
We may also remind ourselves that all is working for our good. As we encounter an unconscious individual, we get to practice being loving and compassionate. In other words, it is a great blessing in terms of growth and unfolding.
And so, rather than placing blame and guilt, playing out the victim card as to being the victim of another’s harmful actions - we may choose to pray for and bless them. We may choose to pray for their wellbeing, for their peace of mind. We may call forth the perfect and Divine health that resides within each being. We may choose to take on the perspective that they too are on a journey and that they too, in the process of waking up, of learning - are exactly where they need to be.
This is compassion. This is loving kindness in action. Praying, blessing and wishing someone well - even when what they did or did not do, may seem harmful and hurtful.
The Love of God dwells within each of us, we merely need to become aware of it and choose it.
Daniel Roquéo is a freelance writer and founder of The Love & Light Store.
He helps individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses do what they may not have the time, inspiration or the skills to do for themselves. Bringing their passions to life through the written word.
It is natural and fundamental for living beings to want to be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. Life would not have persisted for nearly four billion years were living things not motivated to, and reasonably good at, seeking favorable circumstances and avoiding unfavorable ones.
When you consider much of what people do in our day-to-day lives, it is mostly in service of meeting our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and a sense of safety, satisfaction, and happiness. We don’t necessarily awaken each morning and say to ourselves how much we hope it’s swamped at the office, or that traffic will be absolutely gridlocked, or maybe we’ll get into a car accident so we can practice with being grateful for the time we have.
Yet we know, despite our deepest desires for how our life will be, that all sorts of things can happen, and many of them range from a little annoying to utterly devastating. Our children can become addicted to the painkillers in our cabinet the dentist prescribed us last year. We can get laid off from our jobs. We can be raped or mugged or murdered or diagnosed with untreatable cancer. We can be vegetarian, alcohol, tobacco and drug-free, run marathons, and still, have a heart attack at age 60. As the old saying goes, people make plans, and God laughs.
When trouble comes, we all get through it one way or another, sometimes more gracefully than others, always hoping to get back and remain in calm seas for smooth sailing. Then something else comes along: the flu, a torn meniscus, a child who develops asthma or depression. It will never remain smooth sailing for long; that’s just not how life works. And yet, somehow, we keep hoping that life will be something other than what it is.
It sounds crazy. Maybe it is. It seems human aspirations are doomed to be awkwardly incompatible with the vicissitudes of life. Indeed, in most if not all of us, there is an undercurrent of dis-ease, a fear about what is to come, that the moment of something terrible happening might be in our future, and not just someone else's whom we read about in the news. So, what to do?
About twenty-five centuries ago, a man named Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, left home in search of a resolution to human suffering. After many years of searching, of trying many different things, and close to death and despair from neglecting his physical health and making little progress towards his goal, he had a breakthrough when he simply let go and let the storms in his mind be as they were. He settled more and more deeply into his pure, conscious awareness of all of his sensations, thoughts, and feelings. What he discovered was that human beings suffer when we want life to be different from how it is.
But it's not the desire per se: it's our attachment to it, our belief that our beliefs about how life should be or could be, are more important than how life actually is. This, of course, is foolish. It's not that we have no control over our lives and circumstances, it's that that control is forever limited, and many things will happen that we do not expect, and perhaps do not want.
Yet what he also discovered is that if we can detach from that belief that our wishes are more important than reality, we can begin to find real peace.
The key lies in our conscious awareness. The more we identify with and rest in our awareness, the more we can just be with the truth of how things are in this moment, the more a kind of magic starts to work on us.
We naturally let go of a struggle with life that is deeper and subtler than we ever imagined. We may never want to be sick or hurt or die but are no longer ill-at-ease with the difficult truths of life. It is analogous to someone who is so unfit that they cannot climb a flight of stairs without getting seriously out of breath, who then slowly begins to exercise, a little more with every passing week, until perhaps a year later, they are able to run a marathon. Their body naturally transforms by being more and more active.
So it is with a meditation practice where we simply rest ever more deeply in our awareness of what is. In doing so, we find well-being that is beyond sickness and health, beyond happiness and sorrow, beyond birth and death.
In some sense, finding this power within us changes nothing: we can still dream and plan, take care of our bodies and minds with healthy food, exercise, and rest and relaxation. We still take care of others. In another sense, it changes everything, because it transforms our relationship with every aspect of our lives, and frees us to do all of these things with greater presence, love, and patience.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was a television program that was on public television for 50 years. Which is a good example of leaving the world a better place. But the important thing Mr. Rogers said to the children was “This program is make believe. Make believe is fun but it is not real. It is important that you know the difference between realities and make believe.” Many people have not learned the difference. Take the message of the Christian God.
It all starts with the Bible. Read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus to see a razor sharp clarification of how we got the book called The Bible. There are many people who swear it is the infallible and inerrant word of God. Some add “In the original texts.” There are no original texts. And it is the infallible and inerrant word of God because they believe it is, not because it is. But it is your challenge to find out what the real truth is about God. The intensity of a person’s belief does not increase the truthfulness his argument. That is the main thing to be weary of. People who, for whatever reason, claim that God is real and alive in their lives elevate their personal experience to be a fact of life for all, are in error. He may be. But that experience is personal to the believer. It cannot be transferred. Think of a beautiful sunset or sunrise. You cannot replicate that experience in words, logic, song, or force in another human being to have that same experience and you cannot replicate a personal experience with God either.
The force and the duty to replicate the experience is strong. Parents raise their children in obedience to the dictates of their religion. And as George Orwell wrote, “One cannot appreciate the naiveté of a child to believe what an older person is telling them is the truth.” That places us in Aristotle’s plight who said, “It is easier to teach a man who is ignorant than one in error. The ignorant man can hear the truth you have spoken, but the man in error must first be convinced that what he believed to be true is in fact false, before he can accept the truth.” That is why you will have a hard time finding the truth. What you believe about everything is probably false or incomplete. But have a teachable spirit and a humble attitude and it will make your path smoother.
Now here is the question, “Is God a fact in human existence?” How do you answer that question? Do you first have to believe he is a fact in order to believe he is real? Or do you have to believe there is a God before you can make him a fact if your life. Or do you have to have a personal experience that causes you to believe God intervened miraculously in your life in order to make God a fact in your life. My study indicates all three, and probably more, have proved God is real. But it is a personal experience that does not establish God as a fact for another who has not had a personal belief experience. It follows then, for any person to say, “My belief is more accurate than your belief,” is wrong. If God is an infinite reality, human knowledge begins and ends in the senses. Infinite things cannot be sensed-only believed to exist. Therefore, human knowledge cannot have certain knowledge about God. That is why people who speak with certainty about God are not to be believed.
But the pride of man is limitless. And nearly everyone who believes speaks with authority about the reality of God. Why they are not satisfied to believe themselves and leave everybody alone I don’t know. You have to know what you know and why you know it. Be comfortable in your own skin. All of the world’s religions are directed toward Love. The issue here on earth is to learn how to love through the ages. We need, we all need, to learn the definition of love that can stand for all humankind. Forget about the dogma your religion has taught you. Forget about the rituals your dogma has taught you. The motivation to Love has a new and different definition.
Love is the deep abiding gratitude for and appreciation of the object loved. If we can all do that we will fulfill the admonitions of the world’s religions.
This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.
Originally titled: 2nd Message for Millennials
Lawrence wrote the book: A Cry From The Heart: A Personal Essay
Click here to purchase his book on Amazon.
** Mr. McGrath is an author, father and grandfather. A retired marine pilot, lawyer, college professor, college president, bank president, and consultant.
As the saying goes, “You are not a human being having an occasional spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being having a temporary human experience.” And there is no better time of the year to affirm that for yourself than Easter.
For me, the Easter story is a dramatic demonstration and profound illustration of something that I believe is just as true for you now, as it was for Jesus over 2,000 years ago—that you are in this world, but you are not of this world.
How so? Your true essence is spirit, not body. And unlike the body, your spirit is eternal and indestructible. Your authentic self is, in a word, divine—an individual expression of that all-pervading energy that many of us call God. And you are here for one purpose, and one purpose only: to express your divine nature in the body, and in the world.
And what, exactly, is that nature? Love. Unconditional love. Divine love.
It’s the kind of love that knows no limits . . . the kind of love that forgives—no matter what. It’s the kind of love that Jesus fully expressed throughout his life, right up to the final moments of his earthly existence. And it’s the kind of love that you, and I, and all of us are called upon to express on a daily basis.
Today, and every day of the year, may you remember who you are, and why you are here. May you remember that the journey of life is not about getting somewhere. The journey of life is about being something. It’s about being the love that you are in every single moment of that journey. And it’s about experiencing the absolute joy that your love brings to the journey, and brings to each and every spirit that you encounter along the way.
This article was written by Steven Lane Taylor.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
If you are like me and are inclined to engage in physical activity, integrating fitness and spirituality is essential. For many, many years I struggled to answer the question, “How do I take good care of my body but not fall for preconceptions about physical attractiveness and health?”
The answer was very simple, yet also highly complex and paradoxical. The closer you live to your spiritual heart, the less you tend to engage in purely physical activities and beautifying methods, even if they promote a healthy body and high self-esteem. This is because your spirit knows that sickness, old age, and death are inevitable. The time we have on earth is too limited to concern ourselves with the impermanent aspect of our existence. Every second becomes a valuable chance to recognize our true nature and to realize who we are in the spiritual reality.
When you know that there is a lot more to you than a body and a thinking mind, but you don’t know how to access that deeper part, you end up struggling between the two. This journey in limbo can be interesting, especially because it can teach you to have compassion for your own body. The paradox is that even giving attention to thoughts about fitness and health can lead you to believe that you are a physical being whose psychological needs must be met in order to feel good or to be whole. At this level, you are not living a spiritual existence yet.
However, this is all part of the journey to reaching the happy you. Listening to the heart, so that we can live more and more as a spiritual being can bring our existence to a conscious space where life becomes a loving and joyful adventure that renews itself with every moment.
Fear and insecurity can turn physical fitness into an addiction. While most of us consider the pursuit of physical fitness to be a great habit, for me, it was a painful cycle disguised as a healthy practice. The more unsatisfied I was with myself, the more strenuous, restrictive, and consistent my exercise and diet became.
Looking back, it’s clear to see that dissatisfaction, not poor health, was what propelled me to dedicate more than twenty years of my life to fitness. I strongly believe that the reason fitness and fit people are so popular is because most of us are attracted to the idea of having a “healthy distraction” from our inner conflicts.
Although it is true that exercise and physical attractiveness can improve our overall health and lift our self-esteem, using these methods to hide our pain can also result in increased, unnecessary suffering. I don’t know anything healthier than having the courage to dive deeper into our own hearts for answers.
To be healthy is to be loving!
The links between my painful past and fitness became clear to me after a period of major inner turbulence. I knew that most compulsive behaviors had their roots in traumatic experiences, but I never connected my obsession with fitness with my lingering inner pain from the past. I believed I was a strong person who had overcome pain because I had a fit and healthy body to prove it, as well as a life that seemed to be driven by (and built on) authentic and exciting experiences. However, the truth was that my fitness habits, to a great extent, were escapism.
To be healthy is to be loving.
Given how exercise, diet, and even therapy can become traps for a painful emotional reality, it’s crucial for us be aware of the fundamental causes of our suffering.
Think of how we might sometimes consciously (or unconsciously) believe that we are not good enough or not worthy of happiness. When this happens, we then begin to work hard in pursuit of this worthiness.
As a result, anything external that gives us the illusion that we deserve happiness for our effort will also become our own created prison.
This cycle of sustaining habits out of fear turns exercise and diet (or whatever our external source of happiness is) into negative forces, thus compounding the root problem as we live for our bodies and for conditioned emotional stability through abusive mechanisms.
This can cause disharmony within the heart, creating a state of mind where true happiness cannot exist.
To be healthy is to be loving.
Susan had a session with me at two in the afternoon. I was not feeling well after Destiny’s encounter. During lunch, my thoughts had been much more centered on love and kindness, and this reflection was hovering over me when Susan arrived. She’d been training with me for a couple of months.
I began chatting with her about these tender reflections. In the middle of our session, I said, “Susan, you know what I’ve begun to realize?”
“What?” she asked.
“That the foundation of health is love; how can we feel comfortable in our bodies if we are not in love with life? Does that make sense to you?”
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She looked at me as if she was thinking about it. Then she said, “Valeria, can you please get the mat for my next buttocks workout?”
We continued with the session as if I’d never brought up the insignificance of a fit body without a loving heart and a happy mind.
Karen was my last client for the day. We met at seven sharp, right after Steve.
Karen was an obese woman I trained twice a week. She was thirty years old, weighed 250 pounds, and was 5’ 2”. However, these numbers don’t say anything about her as a person. She was a painter who owned her own gallery in Manhattan. The serenity in her eyes and the way she smiled for no reason introduced her to me before she even told me her name.
She had been married for more than five years to someone who was in good shape. I knew this because her husband came to pick her up after our sessions. The conversation we had the first day we met left me pondering about life for days.
I asked the same question I asked every client before we began the program: What are your three main fitness goals?
Karen said she only had one goal: to enjoy the workouts.
I recall looking into her eyes as if she had not understood my question. I rephrased it, and this time I was more specific.
“I understand, Karen, and I will ensure that the exercises will be fun, but what I meant was, how many pounds do you want to lose?”
Again, she answered with a smile and said she didn’t care about the weight; she just wanted to feel good during and after the workouts. Furthermore, she said it didn’t matter if she didn’t lose any weight at all. Her peaceful eyes and joyful smile reinforced the truth of her words.
I could not believe this woman and how out of touch with reality she was. She was obese, for God’s sake! She could actually die of a heart attack at any moment, and my mind refused to believe that anyone could be at peace with a body like hers. It couldn’t be possible.
I insisted. I tried to force her to make a deal with me, and asked her to agree on losing one to two pounds per week.
Once more with the same serene, happy look on her face, she replied that I didn’t understand her. Patiently, she repeated that she was fine with her weight and that she enjoyed her work. She was a person who loved and was loved by her family and friends. Her life was a blessing, and she was grateful for what she had. There was nothing else to be added or removed to make her happier. The workouts with me were just to get her body moving while she had some fun.
I wasn’t amazed by her attitude, because I neither understood nor believed in what she was saying at the time. Nevertheless, after our encounter that day, I went home thinking about her, and I remembered a thought I’d had when I was a teenager, one that had returned many times throughout my life.
I would die young.
I believed I would not reach the age of thirty, despite being physically healthy.
Perhaps intuitively, I knew that my heart could fail at any time because of my lack of understanding of what life was really about: love and kindness.
I am convinced that Karen became my client for a reason—to teach me that to be healthy is to be loving. She trained with me for almost a year, and never lost any weight.
Karen was the healthiest client I ever had.