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WITH SUCH GRACE AND GENUINE LOVE

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“Do you know Jesus?”

            Were the first words out of his mouth.  His face was no more than two feet from mine as we met in the swimming pool.  He was held by his father, who did not react to his words.  His mother, standing by, said nothing but looked approvingly at her son.  This wasn’t some old guy with bad breath reeking insult to an already aggrieved fellow asking “Do you know Jesus?”  This was a very crippled 6 or 7 year old boy asking a very direct question.  I thought for a minute and then responded, “Yes.  Yes I know Jesus.”

            That began a friendship with Ian, Marcus and Angela that has taught me more about religion than I ever learned from all the sermons I’ve heard in my 86 years.  You see Ian was born with MORQUIO  A.  It is an inherited disease.  He has had 9 operations in his short life.  The last was an operation for  trachea reconstruction that allowed him to breath.  It is a cellular disfunction that affects each person differently but his bones do not grow.  And his spinal cord  can’t handle the stunting growth and bends out of control.  He can’t walk without help.  But that daunting fact does not control their relationship.  He lives as normal a childhood as any American child could wish for.  Marcus and Angela have done a splendid job of parenting.  One that owes a lot to the fact that Ian, Marcus, and Angela all know Jesus.

            It is a joy for me to be with them.  A peace permeates the atmosphere like the flowers fragrance fill a room.     He doesn’t speak until spoken to but his answers are always thoughtful, often funny, and a joke turned upon himself.  He will explain the operations he’s had with great detail, but never feeling a hint of being sorry for himself.  In the 4th grade he is so popular the school adopted him their mascot.  He wore the honor like an Olympic medal.  Olympic medals are not in his future.  Not even a special Olympics’ medal.  You see, at 10 years old he only stands 3 feet tall.  And his daily exercise routine includes lifting one pound weights.  He has developed mighty biceps, which he will show you with the flair of the mighty wrestlers, that he says are the size of a peanut, but he is working to get them to the size of a walnut.

            Ian was not doing well in math and science this year.  His mother helped him with his homework and he made 100 on his tests.  Ian, Marcus, and Angela shame me to be in their presence.  My wife and I raised 5 children and I know now I did not have the humility to raise a child with a handicap.   It was all about me.  I didn’t want them to make the team I wanted them to be Captain of the team.  I wanted them to be the leaders of their classes.  President and cheer leaders and make 100 on all of their tests.  Ian, Marcus, and Angela have shown me I do not know Jesus.  They have shown me with their life, I did not have “Jesus in my heart.”   Oh Marcus and Angela, how do you do it.  With such grace and genuine love, toward Ian and each other.  Would that the world could learn to live with such hardships, with such grace and beauty. 

This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.

 Lawrence wrote the book: A Cry From The Heart: A Personal Essay

Click HERE to purchase his book on Amazon.

Website: https://www.amazon.com/Cry-Heart-Personl-Essay/dp/1439211264

5 TIPS FOR BUILDING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

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Our personal relationships are an essential part of life. We are naturally wired to connect and collaborate with others.

 

Healthy relationships contain core essential elements including respect, appreciation, and freedom. In balanced relationships, each person contributes thoughts and feelings while remaining responsible for his or her own behavior.

 

Healthy relationships are equitable; both people contribute equally — or at least balance out in the long run. Lack of balance in a relationship can show up as criticism, control, or neglect. Unhealthy relationships not only erode the mind and body, they create barriers and slow our spiritual growth.

 

In order for our relationships to remain healthy, here are five considerations:

 

Communication is consistent. Without clear communication, relationships wither. We are all unique individuals, and our perceptions, assumptions, and conclusions are also unique. Having differing opinions can be a good thing! Too much of the same routine can result in complacency and boredom. And communication isn’t just speaking; effective listening skills are imperative. Sometimes we learn the most about ourselves from each other.

 

Respect isn’t optional; it’s necessary. Unhealthy relationships are often a result of losing respect for one another. Respect comes from appreciating differences, considering perspectives, and honoring preferences. Once you lose respect for someone, the relationship starts to unravel. Over time, respect — like trust — can be earned by actions and words. Even if a relationship has become stagnant or distant, respect can still endure.

 

Healthy boundaries are clear. Creating healthy personal boundaries facilitates self-reliance and helps to develop nurturing, loving, and mature relationships. Having clear boundaries requires that we focus on ourselves and learn to communicate our preferences in healthy and respectful ways. Setting personal boundaries allows us to express our truth and beliefs to others with confidence and courage. Acknowledging and honoring the personal boundaries of others demonstrates respect and builds trust.

 

Growing together is as important as growing individually. We are all in a perpetual state of growth and expansion. When we grow individually, we expand our thoughts and beliefs by learning from ourselves. When we grow in relationships, we learn from each other. The contrast that our relationships bring may cause us to grow apart unless we make a commitment to recognize our differences as strengths. Growing together in relationship means being able to learn from each other, embrace differences, and choose to walk together on a common path.

 

Follow the love. Authentic love conquers all doubt, fear, shortcomings, feelings of inadequacy, and negativity. To be truly loved by someone is to be recognized and “seen” for all of the things we are — complete and whole — with all of our strengths and weaknesses; ups and downs; fabulousness and foibles. And it all begins with us. When we learn to love, accept, support, and appreciate ourselves, our relationships will always benefit.

 

This article was written by Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

Click HERE to Learn more about Michael’s work.

WEBSITE: https://michaelcreative.com/books/

HEAD VERSUS HEART: WHY DID THEY EVER SPLIT UP?

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When I was growing up in Ireland and attending secondary school, I had to choose between the sciences and the humanities. At the tender age of 14, when I was clueless about who I really was and what I wanted, I had to make this life-defining choice. Consulting the career-guidance counsellor did not help, as he himself had clearly chosen the wrong career.

Those who wanted a more credible, secure career opted for the sciences, whereas those who wanted to follow their hearts or creative yearnings opted for the arts. We learn early in life that the world of science offers respectability, credibility and security, while the arts and humanities are considered to be less serious or worthy. You don’t often hear about starving engineers, but starving artists appear to be a worldwide phenomenon.

This separation of head from heart has created a fundamental rift between these two essential and complementary aspects of our selves. Without one, we lose perspective; without the other, we lose our humanity. With too much of one, we end up stuck in our heads, relying on logic to make things work; with too much of the other, we may become ungrounded or fail to stand up for ourselves when challenged.

Having just published a book (see https://www.emfoff.com/) that blends science and sentiments in a rather novel way, I was nonetheless surprised when several people told me how brave I was. Did I not worry about losing credibility by talking about consciousness and feelings? Wasn’t I afraid that real scientists would dismiss this kind of book as fluff, lacking scientific credibility? I never even thought about this. To me, science and humanity must come together as equal partners for our world to make sense—and for us to evolve in a positive direction. After all, many of the problems I was addressing in my book were the direct result of the split between head and heart, which is one of the key reasons we have abdicated control over our own lives, surrendering our sense of what’s right in deference to those who supposedly know better than we do.

Body Knows Best

Yet there is no greater authority than the human body—our own personal medium of evolution—and reclaiming our autonomy requires engaging not just our hearts and minds but also our spiritual selves. We must be fully human to be fully effective. We must engage our multi-dimensional selves if we want to have an impact that goes beyond conventional approaches. We must elevate our consciousness if we want to rise above the dysfunction of our world. And we must tell a new story about what’s possible and how powerful we really are.

While we might tend to give more credence to science than anything else, we also love stories. We immerse ourselves in stories, whether they’re our own personal accounts, the books we read, the movies we watch or the history we research. Stories are both an escape from current reality and a potential springboard to a brighter future. We can use them to perpetuate an old pattern or to create a vision of something fabulous.

Think of famous actors and how much money they make. Who else gets paid big bucks for telling stories and prancing around pretending to be something they’re not? Okay, yes, politicians do, although they don’t get paid as much as movie stars and they’re meant to protect our interests rather than just providing entertainment.

Our love of stories, movies and fantasies is all about creativity and imagination. It has nothing to do with science. And science itself would be a lot less advanced if it weren’t for our capacity to dream and envisage phenomenal things, and to tap into universal intelligence for inspiration, healing and breakthroughs. Creativity, intuition and imagination are not just necessary counterparts to left-brain scientific thinking; they are often the midwives that enable a theory, idea or innovation to be born.   

Even scientists fall in love. We all have hearts, although we might try to hide our true feelings in certain contexts, for fear of being considered weak or effeminate. Yet we now know that heartbreak, emotional disconnectedness and loneliness can cause heart attacks and very real, physical conditions, whereas heartfelt emotions are magnetic, connecting us to things about which we care passionately, when fuelled by positive intention and determination. The heart does not use logical analysis to make inspired choices. It operates on a higher plane, tapping into the infinite realm of universal intelligence and intuition.

If your heart is disconnected from your head, it’s a bit like revving your car when it’s stuck in neutral. There’s power there but it’s not engaged; there’s potential for forward movement, but no one is actually driving, steering or focusing in a particular direction. Lots of noise but no action. A waste of energy with no useful outcome.

Home is where the heart is, but the heart is also home. If we abandon it in favour of our heads, we may feel lost, disconnected or conflicted, experiencing mixed results in our endeavours. Reconnecting to our heart and allowing it to guide us is the only sure way to stay true to ourselves and to create a life we love.

To get reconnected, try to incorporate the following seven steps into your daily routine:

1.     Slow down and switch off. Fast-paced living prevents us from connecting with our feelings, processing our emotions and integrating life’s experiences. Busyness, social media and constant online connectivity can be a great way to avoid feeling pain, loss, conflict etc. We need stillness so we can become aware of the important subtle messages from our hearts and bodies.

2.     Practise meditating. Emptying the mind and taking a break from analysing or questioning our lives creates space for inspiration and answers, while giving our over-worked bodies and brains a rest.

3.     Spend time in nature. Being in a natural environment—away from noise, machinery, traffic, phones, computers, work and people—is the most powerful way to ground ourselves and find peace. Nature is all about growth and life, and we could not exist without it. When we spend time in the forest, by the ocean or on a mountaintop, we revitalize our bodies and feed our spirits, often gaining a fresh perspective on things.

4.     Nourish yourself. A healthy body promotes a clear mind and a happy heart. We must nourish our brain, soothe our nervous system and boost our immune system if we want to stay balanced. Wholesome, unprocessed foods, healthy oils (such as organic coconut, camelina, avocado and fish oils), iodine (to protect against manmade electromagnetic radiation), antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E), superfoods (such as chlorella, blueberries, cacao and goji berries) and lots of pure water all help to keep the heart and body healthy. 

5.     Work your body. Moving your body aerobically takes you out of your head and into your feelings. Kundalini yoga or other vigorous exercise stirs things up, releases tension and prompts our innate wisdom and deeper feelings to surface. The body holds all the clues and answers we need, and the heart is its most reliable messenger—our built-in wellness ambassador, best friend and advisor. 

6.     Write it out. Writing can be a great way of exploring your deeper feelings and thinking outside the box. Try writing non-stop for five minutes every day, with no fixed theme and no editing—just whatever comes to you. Our hearts and minds hold all the insights we could ever want and spontaneous writing can help us to access them.

7.     Laugh and connect with loved ones. Everyone needs meaningful human connections for physical, emotional and mental health. Sometimes we may not even know what we feel or want until we talk to a friend or close relative. Relating to others helps us to relate to our deeper selves, and having love in our lives makes all the challenges worthwhile.  

What works for you? What process, food or supplement has helped you stay emotionally connected and on track with your life?

This article was written by Olga Sheean

Click HERE to Learn more about Olga’s work.

WEBSITE: https://olgasheean.com

Cancer?  Chemo? Consider!

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This is such a difficult topic to write about. There is much to say and words just do not seem adequate. I have lost several loved ones to cancers of various sorts. It pains me to hear more and more about this malicious and vicious "C" word that wreaks havoc upon millions of people. Whether we are the individuals contending with it or having to watch a loved one walk through this dark valley, we all are touched by it sooner or later in one way or another.

 

I've lost three aunts to three different types of cancer. My father also went through a bout of cancer as well. Thanks be to God, he has recovered. My aunts did not fare so well. They all passed away. Two of them dealt with it for several years and the third succumbed rather quickly. Each of these dear ones, with the exception of my father went through extensive chemotherapy, radiation and conventional drugs. I began to wonder about this. He is the only one who did not undergo these "egregious" forms of therapy. And he is the only one still here with me. I have also watched as many friends and co-workers have undergone the same conventional treatments - all to no avail.

 

I am sick and tired of the loss column growing at insidious rates while the win column shrinks. What is the common denominator in the 'loss' column? Much to my amazement, it is the receiving of the aforementioned conventional treatments. Yes, dear reader - a grim reality, is it not? This may be difficult to come to terms with; especially because the FDA sanctions these "therapies".

 

Regardless of the grim statistics, most physicians (albeit many well-meaning) continue to prescribe these conventional treatments along with conventional drug therapies such as Tamoxifen given to women with breast cancer.  However, more and more women are opting not to take this medication. “The list of side effects (some of them life-threatening) associated with taking Tamoxifen is lengthy. True, not everyone suffers from side effects, but we are discovering that some women don’t metabolize the drug very well.  For those who have tried the drug and do suffer from side effects, these can be so life-altering and impactful to their quality of life they feel they are losing their minds.” (1)

 

If the side effects are not awful enough, then there are the lies women are told about taking Tamoxifen.  Many physicians tell their patients that if they take Tamoxifen for a period of 5 years after their treatments it will give them as much as a 50% chance of living disease free. (This percentage varies amongst doctors and which studies they rely upon) (2) The horrible reality is that studies actually show this drug to be a catalyst for even more aggressive types of cancers such as liver and uterine cancer when taken for a prolonged period of time.(Researchers discovered in 1992 that Tamoxifen is a liver carcinogen in rats which led to the state of California proclaiming it to be a known carcinogen under legislation formerly known as Prop 65) It has also been linked to fatal blood clots and also interferes with many other functions in the body.(3)

 

And now, dear reader, here is the good news.  Cancer is not a death sentence! There IS hope! Unbeknownst to millions of people, there are other amazing, wonderful life saving/giving treatments - alternative treatments - that have incredible success rates. The saddest, most heinous fact is that these alternative treatments are not to be found very easily within the United States because they are not 'legal'. So I would urge you to do your own research.  

 

In my humble opinion, the perfect place for you to begin would be the very place that my journey to these amazing truths and HOPE began in 2015. This is when I found Ty and Charlene Bollinger. (The accredited information in this article is taken from their website.) In 2015 Ty and Charlene put together a 9 part documentary series called "The Truth about Cancer - A Global Quest". This incredibly brave couple opened up an entirely new world for me regarding cancer and its treatments. Just last month they did another 7 part series entitled "Eastern Medicine: Journey Through Asia". And then consider this . . . you can fight cancer right from your own kitchen! I would recommend a fabulous book called Cancer-Free with Food by Liana Werner-Gray. This is a step by step plan to fight disease, nourish the body and restore health. It includes 100+ recipes.

 

You won’t have to dig too deep to discover mind-boggling truths that will make you angry – righteously and justifiably so; especially if you or a loved one has suffered with cancer. Conventional wisdom has failed us for years. Isn't it about time we find out why?

 

Be encouraged! Cancer is not a death sentence! There is hope!

This article was written by Barbie White

Click HERE to Learn more about her work.

WEBSITE: https://737flygirl.wixsite.com/wellnesskitchen

MINDING THE MIND: WAIT, ASK AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCT

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I discovered these words, torn and discarded from my 8 year old granddaughter’s notebook, in our trash bin after one of our son’s visits. My husband had lost his hearing aid. Were it not for his absent-minded toss and my fear of the financial consequence, I would certainly never have crawled headfirst into our stinky trash bin. The wisdom of my granddaughter’s lyrics, so innocently and faithfully written, might have been lost but for grandpa’s misplaced hearing aid. The irony is not lost on me. These words would have been forever silent, lost among the ruins of banana peels and broken boxes. Such is the perfection of life.

Don’t we all know, at some level, the wisdom and truth of my granddaughter’s words? A child can only know that one thing: you and me came true into the world. As children, we have no choice but to trust that instinct, ignorant of the world and armed only with innocence. The crux of the matter is that we must survive and so begins the surrender of that True Self. We watch, we adjust, we give ourselves over to a mentally fabricated “pretend-self” to persevere. As adults, it takes awareness and years to erase that kind of conditioning.

“Minding the Mind” is the art of remembering our basic intuitive wisdom. It takes time to hear the deep inner astute voice that recognizes and embraces the Self we are meant to be. It takes time to de-condition the mind. It takes time to trust again.

Mental chatter is not the same thing as the brain processing information. Without the brain, our bodies would be lifeless. Without the mind, however, our lives would be fulfilling and purposeful. Perhaps baffling on the surface, the profundity of ignoring the mind is life changing. After six years of practicing this I am far closer to being myself than at any time in my 65 years on this planet. Finally comfortable in my own skin, my life is better. My family better for my continuing effort.

What I have discovered is that the mind does not know, it only harvests information. It can help me drive a car and remember how to turn on the coffee pot. It can help me spell and write stories that have meaning to me. It remembers (sometimes) where I put my keys and how to get to the store. But when it comes to decision making it is truly inept, a light switch on a fake wall, disconnected from its power source. My mind has gotten me into more predicaments, more trouble, than I care to remember but am inclined not to forget.

Our mental construct teachers us to hate, to fear, to object to anything that does not align with our false image of “right” or “wrong.” We build walls, real or imagined, and align with false narratives that keep us acceptable. We stay in relationships that abuse us, believe people who lie, and/or surrender our authority of “inner knowing” to another. In the most heinous of extremes, we vilify and tell lies about others who are descent, fly airplanes into buildings, or use automatic weapons to destroy life. All based upon mental decisions that choke the life out of humanity.

But there is hope. There is a way. There is a map. It begins with practicing one simple exercise that can change a person’s life forever. The secret?

WAIT.

Wait. Ask. Instinct. Trust.

Wait before making any decision or before taking an action. The world will not end if you take time to clearly know or sense whether something is true for you or not.

Ask a simple question, Is it true?  Ninety-nine percent of mental chatter is false and sells lies and conspiracy theories, most often attached in some way to religious, political or social dogma.

Instinct. Trust yours.  People who trust themselves are calm, confident, and assured. They make an impact. We cannot be like everyone else because we are not like anyone on the planet. We are magnificent in our own right and are enough. We are more than enough. We are Divinely created and perfectly Designed. Life knows where we live.

Trust that. Trust that your gifts will be discovered once you know what those gifts are. Your contributions are worthy when created from your uniqueness and will always find a home in those who are ready to receive them.

There are a lot of minds asking us to be like them.

There is no one like you.

I invite you to be you, wholly and completely, beautifully and correctly you. Within the cocoon the butterfly longs to take flight.

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This article was written by Candace Conrad and inspired by Isabella Conradi and Reese Jessner.

Click HERE to Learn more about Candace’s work.

WEBSITES: https://www.lydlifemap.com/

https://www.candaceconradi.com/

ALCOHOL — SANITY — REALITY

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A stronger realization of the evil in drinking hit me recently when I stumbled on some news on Facebook. No, I was not dipping into the Sacramental Wine. A father who had had a couple of bottles too many took hold of the steering wheel and drove himself, his wife and stepmother to the embrace of death. Luckily, thanks to a Good Samaritan who was close to the murder (or manslaughter) scene, his son was rescued from the sinking car.

A quick Google search will, however, lead us to countless other stories of a drunkards killing strangers, killing family and friends, or even himself. Why then do we choose to surrender our sanity — and even our humanity — to this liquefied femme fatale called alcohol?

Statistics, according to the Drug-Free World Foundation, establish that alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined, and is a factor in the three leading causes of death among young persons: accidents, homicides and suicides. Not only that; youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and are fifty times more likely to use cocaine.

It has also been shown that at least 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. What is more, alcoholic drinks are getting cheaper by the decade. They are becoming more and more affordable, so no one is left out from this global entrapment.

It is therefore not doubtful that alcohol has wrought great havoc not only on our quality of life, but the quantity of the living. Though thinking right — in other words, sanity — can have its downsides, and though not easily forgetting or repressing sour memories can draw us into melancholy, alcohol is no true escape route. It does not offer an exit from the premises of our problems. It only switches off the light for a moment.

The problems — though invincible — remain. It gives us temporary breaks from challenges such as poverty, unemployment, strained relationships and so on; and many a time, it leads to permanent damages.

Away from the figures, the writer has personally experienced how alcohol can often embitter an otherwise great marriage and relationship. (Usually) the father spends a great deal of his income buying it for himself and friends, and he spends most of what remains trying to clean up at the hospital: liver disease cancer, malnourishment, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and so on. He also spends a great deal of his time arguing with his wife and beating his kids — all for silly or no reasons at all. He even borrows or steals from his wife to fuel this indulgence of his. And so, there is nothing left in his pocket for the upkeep of his family, nothing left in his time for keeping up with his family and nothing left in his head to realize this tragedy.

For the youth, though the character and plotline may differ, the story often heads for the same ending: misery. It is a vicious, almost never-ending, cycle wrapped in shame and anguish. If we shut our eyes to the place of peer pressure, then it is either pain leads you to the consumption of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol leads you to pain — or both.

You are facing problems with your studies, your secondary school mates have all graduated and are probably married, and your project supervisor is there making life hell for you. Or your girlfriend whom you love dearly just left you bitter for leaving for sweeter pastures. Or you flunked your final-year examinations, have to sit in classes with your juniors for a year. So you decide to seek solace in the flames of alcohol. Well, stop! Don’t.

Don’t submit your sanity to a bottle of fizzles or wood soaked liquid before it makes you a fizzle yourself. Don’t hand over the baton of your senses, even for a night, for that is your greatest weapon against life’s challenges. You do not win by running. You win through strategy and hard work — and a drunken man is not capable of both. Alcohol is a drug like all others. It has got a glittering package. It has got a sweet voice. It even looks great from the top.

But underneath all these is a quicksand of unending, yet limitless, misery. Trust me, it is not worth it. But don’t take my word for it; check the statistics. Look around you. See what you do not want to see and see the reality for yourself.

Center for Healing, Growth, & Recovery Ministries

Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min. (C) 2019

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

SELF-AWARENESS — BRAVERY — CONNECTION

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Most of my life I've been a conflict-avoider, sweeping potential disagreements under the proverbial rug. But these days I seem to face contentions head-on, boxing gloves poised and ready. This is good, for the most part--running from conflict rarely solves anything. However, now that I'm not afraid to take on the hard conversations and can bring up the minors before they become majors,  I realize I could use some fighting skills. It seems I'm doing it all wrong -- taking things personally, bringing up past issues that have nothing to do with the present, throwing in hurtful digs, albeit slight and 'hidden' (but not really). I shut down after I speak my peace and am closed-minded and judgmental when the other person expresses their side of things, wounding my dissentient and getting my own feelings hurt in the process.

So I write this article for me. And for any of you who struggle when it comes to conflict resolve.

We've developed bad habits

Of course, we don't make fighting a goal. In a perfect world, we'd tune into our emotions well before conflict arises and use these wise old friends to guide us as we manage our behavior, thwarting tensions before they erupt into battles. But then again, we're human, imperfect and immature and insensitive at times, so it's highly likely disagreements will evolve into fights. Most of us have picked up some poor habits, as early as childhood, and haven't learned there is a better way.

But before we look into acquiring some new fighting skills, let's determine first if your conflict management needs some work. Here are some things you don't want to choose to do when troubles arise:

  • Fail to listen to the other person's point of view with an open mind

  • Instead of seeking to find common ground, fight for your own way or ideas

  • Do most of the talking in disagreements

  • Feel extremely uncomfortable when conflict arises

  • Don't use tact when voicing your concerns, rather, you demean the other person and/or their ideas and/or use crass language to prove your point

  • Say things like "always", "never", and "everyone thinks this way..." (as if you know how everyone else in the world thinks or does things)

  • Bring up the past to prove your point of "Here we go again..."

  • Use put downs and demeaning words, saying things you know you'll regret later

  • View the other person as an adversary or foe because they don't agree with you

  • Think things like, "If only they would change, this could be resolved."

  • Quit and run away before the conflict is resolved

  • Use dishonesty to put an end to the conflict rather than being authentic with your feelings

  • View yourself as more superior, smarter, or 'a better person' because of how the other person is feeling/acting

Which of these best describes your boxing tactics?

It starts with Self-Awareness

Whether you choose one or all of the above when conflict hits, learning a new way of fighting can take some work. As with any behavior, we can make shifts in a new direction, but it's not always easy. But devoting effort to the development of conflict resolve skills will serve us well when the next battle comes along.

“Bravery is the choice to show up and listen to another person, be it a loved one or perceived foe, even when it is uncomfortable, painful, or the last thing you want to do.” ― Alaric Hutchinson

So where do we bad fighters start?

First of all, as with most things -- becoming self-aware is a good initial step. Take note of the poor habits you use when fighting, write them down, and take a hard look at them. Do they serve you well or do they usually escalate the conflict, or cause further avoidance? How do you feel when you act that way? How does it make the other person feel when you act that way? Most likely the things you're writing are not the most positive. It's OK.  Recognizing the need to change often comes from acknowledging the hurt we are causing ourselves and others.

Managing our behavior

Now that you're ready to make some shifts, simply acknowledging bad behaviors is not enough. And just erasing them won't help either.  As with the breaking of any old habit, it's beneficial to have a new toolkit at your disposal full of actions to replace ineffective behaviors.  Here are a few to try:

  • Separate the person from the problem.  Don't let yourself go down the path of "this person is bad, wrong, selfish, etc." because they have a differing opinion.  Fight the desire to label them and instead, focus on the disagreement at hand.

  • Lay down preconceived ideas. It's easy to think you already have everything figured out before the conflict even begins. Be present and ask clarifying questions where needed so you're sure you understand their viewpoint, not your interpretation of their viewpoint.

  • Take a deep breath and slow down.  An overload of feelings can cause an amygdala hijack.  The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes our emotions. Because the emotional processing in our brain happens much more quickly than the rational side, if the amygdala perceives the situation is at a "fight or flight" level of danger, it will trigger a response that shuts down the rational side of our brains, causing us to say and do things we'll regret later. Trust me, this is something to avoid.

  • Listen to understand. Stop thinking about what you're going to say next and tune in to what they're saying, and not saying.  Watch for body language (are they agitated, are they scared, etc.) and attempt to hear what they need/want in this situation, not just what is coming out of their mouth.

  • Before speaking, ask yourself, "Will this help or hurt the situation?"  Sounds simple, but it's very effective! Choose your words carefully and be sure not to throw out insults or put-downs in the heat of the moment.

  • Remind yourself that their way may be a better way. Be curious. Have an open mind and think of the conversation as a way to brainstorm creative new ideas rather than taking offense because they don't agree with you.

“When we aren't curious in conversations we judge, tell, blame and even shame, often without even knowing it, which leads to conflict." -- Kristen Siggins

  • Don't attach judgments about their character because of their opinions. Again, separate out the issue from the person and fight the urge to jump to conclusions about their moral integrity just because you don't like what they're saying.

  • Be aware that the other person is experiencing his/her own set of emotions.  There may be drivers going on that you're not aware of -- past hurts, disappointments, or struggles that the other person is dealing with.  Offer some grace, in the moment, as you seek to understand the why behindhumi their actions or words.

  • Find a way to say something valuing about the other person. Even if you don't agree with them, making the other person feel valued for who they are, in the heat of an argument, can do wonders to diffusing anger and frustration levels. A great sentence starter is, "You know what I like about you?" then fill in the rest with a sincere, kind word.

"A soft answer turns away wrath." -- ancient proverb

  • Remember that the goal here is coming to a solution that works for both parties, not getting your own way. This may mean you have to reach a compromise where both of you give up a little to arrive at a peaceful outcome.

I know, easier said than done. If this list seems daunting, pick just one goal and focus on it for the next few weeks. Talk to a coach or counselor about the areas you struggle most with and seek an outside opinion on how you could begin to make some shifts. Then get out there and practice.

For those of you (us) who have done it all wrong, going back to that person and offering a sincere, "I'm sorry" can do wonders to soften pain of the blows you delivered. It takes humility and courage to admit our errors and ask forgiveness of the other person. They may reject you, scoff at you, or even attempt to continue the fight -- but these three magical words can do as much for your own angry heart as it can the other person.

Unless you live on an uninhabited, deserted island, where you have no contact with others, there will be conflicts on the road ahead. Coming prepared with healthy, helpful tactics will enable both of you to stay standing at the end of each round. Even better, as you work on your own conflict management skills, you may come to realize that it was never a fight at all, but a passionate interaction between two unique and worthy individuals, on the same team, working toward the same goal, each offering the gift of learning something new.

"We meet aliens every day who have something to give us. They come in the form of people with different opinions." -- William Shatner

This article was written by Amy Sargent.

Click HERE to Learn more about her work.

http://the-isei.com/home.aspx

THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SOLUTION FOCUSED CONVERSATIONS

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Principle 1: Master the courage to question reality.

No plan survives its collision with reality, and reality has a habit of shifting, at work and at home. Markets and economies change, requiring shifts in strategy. People change and forget to tell each other – colleagues, customers, spouses, friends. We are all changing all the time.

Not only do we neglect to share this with others, we are skilled at masking it even to ourselves.

 

Principle 2: Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.

While many fear “real”, it is the unreal conversations that should scare us to death. Unreal conversations are expensive, for the individual and the organization. No one has to change, but everyone has to have the conversation. When the conversation is real, the change occurs before the conversation is over. You will accomplish your goals in large part by making every conversation you have as real as possible.

 

Principle 3: Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.

Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does.

 

Principle 4: Tackle your toughest challenge today.

Burnout doesn’t occur because we’re solving problems, it occurs because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over. The problem named is the problem solved. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Stay current with the people important to your success and happiness. Travel light, agenda-free.

 

Principle 5: Obey your instincts.

Don’t just trust your instincts – obey them. Your radar screen works perfectly. It’s the operator who is in question. An intelligence agent is sending you messages every day, all day.

Tune in. Pay attention. Share these thoughts with others. What we label as illusion is the scent of something real coming close.

 

Principle 6: Take responsibility for your emotional wake.

For a leader, there is no trivial comment. Something you don’t remember saying may have had a devastating impact on someone who looked to you for guidance and approval. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

 

Principle 7:  Let silence do the heavy lifting.

When there is simply a whole lot of talking going on, conversations can be so empty of meaning they crackle. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation, so that insight can occur in the space between words and you can discover what the conversation really wants and needs to be about.

 

This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden. 

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

THE ART OF SURRENDER

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Surrender to the evolutionary process running through you .

Walking the spiritual path is to continuously surrender to the next stage of our growth and unfolding. It is about allowing for older and smaller versions of ourselves to die and new grander and greater versions to emerge.

This means that we need to surrender to the will of God. For many individuals, the word surrender has a negative charge to it. For them, it means acquiescing or submitting to a God outside of themselves. A deity with human traits and characteristics.

This, of course, is not what God is. God, is not “out there,“ nor is God “in here.“ The Spirit of God is infinite.

God is all there is, no beginning nor end. There truly is no spot where God is not.

As Eckhart Tolle puts it, “God is the Alfa and the Omega.“ God is the beginning and the end, God is in everything. Everything is in God.

The will of God

A common question is what God’s will is. God’s will is for greater expression of all of Life - that all of life come into forever greater and grander expression of itself. In other words, that all of life continuously grow and unfold and expand.

God is in all of Life, in all of creation, is forever seeking to become more conscious of itself in and through all of Life. God is the evolutionary process that runs through the cosmos, always for greater life and expression.

This is what the will of the Spirit God is.

God is forever for us, never against us

And so, God is always for us, never ever against us. God cannot not be for us as being against us would go against the purpose of all existence. Against the will of God. And God cannot contradict itself.

As God is in all things, places, and beings – it means that everything is working for our good. Every single challenge, every single encounter, every single experience is Divinely designed to move us along our unique and perfect path of growth and unfolding.

God truly seeks to always guide and lead us, that we may become forever more yet never less than our true selves. This process of growth and unfolding is what are to surrender to.

Surrender is not the same as acquiescing

Surrendering means letting go and releasing resistance to growth and unfolding. It means releasing our need to control and manipulate, in order to have things the way we want them to be. Even though us humans are an intelligent species, our perspective is strictly limited.

Limited to that which we can perceive with our senses. Which means that whatever it is we may see, hear, feel, taste and smell, is infinitesimal in relation to that which we cannot perceive.

There is only Divine order in the cosmos. No chance, no luck, no coincidence, no happenstance. We may perceive things to happen out of chance and luck, but we always need to remind ourselves that nothing just happens to us, but everything happens just. 


Nothing ever comes into our experience uninvited. It either comes because we want it or because we don’t want it.

Surrendering is about getting out of the way

And so surrendering is making a conscious choice to grow and unfold. It is about making the choice to get our little selves out of the way and let God have its sway with us.

It is about becoming willing to say Let Thy Will Be Done - come what may. And then do the inner work necessary to become open, available for that which is seeking to emerge in and through us, to emerge.

It is giving that greater and grander expression permission to come forth, with ease, grace, and dignity.

Surrendering may be asking for help

A practical way to surrender is to ask for help. In times or in circumstances where we feel we lack the strength or ability to do something that we know in our heart is the right thing to do. We may then surrender to that and ask God for help to do it through us.

As we ask for help, we get out of the way. We let go of control and give it over to the presence of God. As we do this, we access the infinite. We go beyond our limited human perception and perspective. Rather we rely on the loving mind of God to lead us to where we need to go.

Surrendering like this is entering into Heaven. Heaven may be described as ever-expanding good. It is a magical journey and a beautiful way to live. Let go and let God – it will bring you the very best of life.

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.

https://www.theloveandlightstore.com/

HEALING, GROWTH AND RECOVERY

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HGR emerges from hope:  The belief that recovery and joy is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future - that people can and do overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers, and obstacles that confront them.

HGR is person- centered/driven:  Self-determination and self-concepts are the foundations for HGR individuals as they define their own life goals and design their unique path(s). 

HGR occurs via many pathways:  Individuals are unique with distinct needs, strengths, preferences, goals, culture, and backgrounds - including trauma experiences - that affects and can determine the pathway(s) to/in the Process of HGR.

HGR is holistic: HGR encompasses an individual's whole life, including mind, body, spirit, and community. The array of services and supports available should be integrated and coordinated.

HGR is supported by peers and allies: Mutual support and mutual aid from people, small groups that the person builds. Including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills, as well as social learning, play an invaluable role in HGR and in the outcomes.

HGR is supported through relationship and social networks:  An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.  

HGR is culturally-based and influenced: Culture and cultural background in all diverse representations - including values, traditions, faith and beliefs. These are keys in determining a person's journey and unique pathway in HGR.  

HGR is supported by addressing traumas: Services and supports should be trauma-informed to foster safety (physical, emotional, mental and spiritually) and trust in the self and others. This helpful to promote choice, empowerment, and collaboration to heal, grow and Recover.   '

HGR involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility:  Individuals, families, and communities have strengths and resources that serve as a foundation for recovery.  

HGR is based on respect: Community, systems, societal acceptance and appreciation for people are crucial in achieving in the process and living a life with Joy.

This article was written by Rev. Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

PASSION — COURAGE — FREEDOM

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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.

https://elisarobyn.com/

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENT WELLNESS — IGNITE

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ENGAGE

It is so easy so easily to slip back into the old person you have been. In the past 12 days I have shared 12 principles of Emotional Intelligence ways to identify things in all of us and myself that we can work on.  For me I could have easily trudged along on my well-trodden path of negative self-talk, comfortably overanalyzing, and well-worn pessimistic beliefs about myself. I sound almost human. Honestly, for all of us we can return to the old patterns so easily. It becomes a habit, if you will.

We already have the knowledge of how to do it, it is almost automatic, and it is comfortable because we used to use it. To not use those old habits and known self-destructive thoughts and behaviors takes dedicated work. As you do the dedicated work and are intentional about the change your making it becomes easier and you will end up not thinking about the changes and will just use them. The old, destructive habits are still in in you, yet you do not use them or even consider them as appropriate. It is the same as Recovery.

Ignite yourself, reread the past days writing, formulate your change plan and get to work. In those great words from Larry the Cable Guy: “Get Er Done”.

ACTIVATE

"What do I need?"

Lasting change in our lives will not be created and maintained, when we lack faith and belief in ourselves and our ignited mission. I truly believe that something has ignited inside of you. I bet that there is nothing else, worthy of your attention toward the change you need or want to make in you. So, what is it that need or want? Think honestly—what has really spoken to your heart and mind; what is whispering to you?

 

Free write these down and remember them as you move into the next phase. Free write means to write down everything that is in your heart and the edit it down.

 REFLECT

"How do I get there? "Now that we've been specific, it is time to develop the steps toward success. What are the steps you can take to get to these changes? What acts, done consistently over time, will lead you to your change? Write them down, put them somewhere visible, and do them. There are a few tips to successfully latching on to new habits, if you haven't already found your own ways of doing so. Attach them to a current habit (I will count my blessings while I brush my teeth). Create a daily affirmation list, Create a daily to-do list and smile big when you check it off! Be vulnerable with a friend, boyfriend, Husband or wife, tell them your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable, or listen to a podcast on the skill you are wanting to practice. I recommend “Fit for Joy” to boost your awareness of the skill. Set a concrete time for practicing.

Whatever ends up working for you, don't forget to reflect. Take time to measure your progress, whether it is with a journal, a therapist, a friend, or a spreadsheet. Ready, set, PRACTICE!

 

Have Fun With Your Health, Growth & Recovery. In other word Yourself.

  

Center for Healing, Growth & Recovery Ministries

Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min

All right reserved, 4/2019

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

SOUL AWAKEN — SENSUALITY — SELF-DISCOVERY

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 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.

https://elisarobyn.com/

FREEDOM AND THE DIVINE FLOW

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Here in the United States, July 4th is Independence Day, the day we celebrate our right as a people to create our own futures and pursue our own dreams . . . free from oppressive and dictatorial rule.

 

But let us remember, too, that when it comes to our relationship with that Divine Intelligence that is commonly called God, every day is Independence Day . . . and should be recognized and celebrated as such.

 

Each and every day, you have the freedom—the independence—to choose what you want to have in life, what you want to do in life, and what you want to be in life. And you have the freedom to pursue those goals in any way that you see fit.

 

That doesn’t mean that accomplishing those goals is totally up to you and you alone. Quite the contrary. You are continually receiving divine assistance. You are constantly being divinely guided and supported in fulfilling your heart’s desires in the most beneficial way possible. But you will never—ever—be forced to do anything that you don't choose to do.

 

You always have the freedom to follow divine guidance . . . or not. You can choose to row with the divine flow, and reach your chosen destinations with effortless ease. Or, you can choose to take a more arduous route, and row against the flow by ignoring or resisting divine direction. It's up to you.

 

The wonderful thing about your freedom of choice is this: Every choice you make in life—whether it is divinely guided or unguided, divinely inspired or ego-driven—gives you an opportunity to learn from your experience, grow in wisdom and compassion, and ultimately discover more about your own divinely loving and creative nature.

 

But again, it's your choice. You can choose to learn and grow from the experiences you create . . . or not.

 

Here's to the joy that comes from creating our lives and living our lives by choice. May we always be grateful for the freedom we have to do that.

This article was written by Steven Lane Taylor.

Click HERE to Learn more about his work.

WEBSITE: https://www.rowrowrow.com/

thedivineflow.blogspot.com

A POWERFUL HABIT — GRATITUDE — INFINITE POTENTIAL

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The enlightened give thanks for that which most people take for granted.

As we are spiritually maturing - expressing gratitude and giving thanks is not simply something we do when something extraordinary happens, or a miracle occurs in our lives. We want to make thanksgiving and appreciation our way of life.

It is not merely the way we start our days through the morning routine. Nor how we end it with our evening routine. Gratitude becomes our life.

There is a beautiful expression; the enlightened give thanks for that which most people take for granted. Just for a brief moment, pause and contemplate how much you have to be grateful for at this moment.

Let’s give thanks for who we are. For where we are, and for where we are headed.


The enlightened give thanks fully knowing that God is forever for them and that everything is working for their good.

We have a powerful and beautiful body. A body that perpetually performs a significant number of actions and functions. Without us even having to be conscious of it.

We have financial abundance enough to have the device to read this article. There is love all around us. We all have intrinsic perfect health.

Each of us is a unique and perfect expression of God. There is infinite potential within all of us.

There is air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. We have gifts, talents, and abilities to share. We are an awakening individual. In any given moment there is so much to give thanks for, to show appreciation for.

Gratitude is a high energetic vibration radiating more good into our lives.

As all is energy with different vibrational frequencies. Gratitude is a high vibration. It sends the vibrational message that all is good and well. That we are provided for and that we have all our needs are met. It says that all is working for our good.

As is law, whatever our predominant our feeling tone is, will radiate out from us and ultimately come to manifest in our lives. Being grateful keep us in a vibrational harmony to receive more and more good. It is the key that opens the doors to the storehouse of infinite good. Allowing good to increasingly flow into our lives.

The more grateful we are, the more will we be given to be thankful for. That is the law.

Now, expressing gratitude and giving thanks is not only a means to make ourselves open, available and receptive to more good to flow into our lives. It also is a great and beautiful way of enjoying greater health, both mental, emotional and physical.

Becoming still, connecting with all the good that we have, expressing gratitude for it, releases endorphins and other feel-good hormones in our bodies. This allows our intrinsically perfect health to move through our bodies. Thus they may replenish and heal any sickness and illness within it.

As with all of learning, repetition is the key. In order to cultivate gratitude we need to time and time again, bring our attention to the good. Moment by moment by moment.

Building and strengthening our gratitude muscles is tough work, There are no shortcuts to it. We need to do it, and keep doing it until we have formed a habit out of doing it.

When being grateful has become a habit, it has become our way of life. Which will move us way up on the spiritual mountain we are here to ascend.

All is working for our good – personally and collectively

At all times there is something to be grateful for. Absolutely everything is working for our good. Sometimes it may be hard for the surface mind to perceive the good, but underneath the surface, all is truly working for our good. Personally as well as collectively.

God is forever for us, never against us. God is always guiding us along our path of growth and unfolding. This is so, whether we realize it or not. Every challenge is a blessing. Sometimes in disguise, sometimes in plain sight.

In any given moment there is so much to show appreciation for, to be grateful about. Who we are, where we are, the lessons we get to learn, the mission that has been given us. That all of our needs are met, the guidance, we receive. All the good and perfect things that are present in our lives.

Before we incarnated onto the planet, our soul made a plan for what lessons we needed to learn. These are the challenges we now face. Nothing comes into our experience uninvited, and so we might as well give thanks for it all.

Gratitude truly is a beautiful and powerful way of life.

This article was written by Daniel Roqueio

Click HERE to Learn more about his work.

https://www.theloveandlightstore.com/

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.

PHYSICAL — EMOTIONAL — MENTAL and SPIRITUAL SKILLS


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Mindful of Breathing: Mindful breathing involves focused attention on breathing. Notice how you are breathing. Notice slower breathing and fuller breaths. Notice your belly rise and fall as you breathe in and out. When your mind drifts away from your breathing, and it will, simply notice what caught your attention and gently shift your attention back to your breathing. 


Mindful of Sounds: Following mindful breathing, focus your attention on sounds; soft sounds, loud sounds, nearby sounds, distant sounds. Notice your response to sounds. Notice if you are annoyed by a sound or judging a sound; then gently re-direct yourself to listening to sounds without judging. When your attention drifts away to a thought, notice what thoughts you were distracted by, and gently return your attention to sounds.


Meditation: The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to become more aware and accepting of internal processes; thoughts, feelings, urges, sensations, cravings, triggers, etc. Meditation is not intended for relaxation. People who are extremely anxious about internal processes or have difficulty sitting still may need to work up to a full session of 20 minutes, beginning with only 2-3 minutes at a time and working on other exercises more at first. The goal is 20 minutes of meditation two times a day. During meditation, if your mind drifts to thoughts about the past or worries about the future, gently re-direct your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is about staying in the present, not about achieving a heightened state of awareness or bliss (that’s transcendental meditation).


Mindful Eating: When eating mindfully, choose a place that is quiet and free of distractions. Before beginning to eat, look at the food. Notice what it looks like; its shape and size and color, and how it smells. Notice any internal sensations; salivation, hunger, urges before you taste the food. Now take a bite. Notice the taste, texture, and sensations in your mouth. Notice your chewing. Notice urges to swallow. Notice your swallowing. Notice your stomach as you swallow. Continue eating mindfully, noticing sensations in your stomach; feelings of hunger and fullness. Decide when you are finished eating based on when you are no longer hungry. Avoid eating while engaged in other activities, such as watching television, reading, or working. Notice feelings and thoughts associated with eating and urges to eat between meals.


Beginner’s Mind: Pick an object in the room that is familiar to you, then examine it with your beginner’s mind; that is, as if you have never seen the object before. Some people imagine they are an alien from another planet or an alien on another planet, seeing the object for the first time. Notice the shape, weight, texture and color of the object. Try to imagine what the object could be used for. As you continue to examine the object, do you notice anything about it that you may not have noticed before? When you put the object away, reflect on what you learned about the object that you didn’t already know. Consider what would happen if you approached other areas of your life with a beginner’s mind; people, places, objects, situations. How would these other areas of your life be the same or different if you approached them with beginner’s mind? What expectations do you now have that you would not have if you saw them for the first time?


Mindful of Thoughts: Once you are comfortable and have become mindful of your breathing, shift your attention to your thoughts. Become aware of whatever enters your mind. Remember that your purpose is simply to observe the thoughts that are in your mind without judging them. Observe thoughts as they come and go in and out of your awareness without trying to engage them, continue them, stop them or change them. Simply notice them. If you find yourself getting caught up in a thought, notice what caught your attention, then gently re-direct yourself to observing your thoughts. It is normal to get caught up in thoughts. When this happens, return to observing thoughts.


Mindful of Emotions: Begin by getting comfortable and becoming mindful of breathing. Think of an event in the past in which you experienced a particular feeling that you want to get in touch with; happy, sad, glad, scared, upset, angry, proud, embarrassed, etc. Remember the situation and imagine you are in the situation now. What do you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch? Notice what thoughts, feelings and sensations come up as you remember the situation. Pay particular attention to your feelings. Is there one feeling or more than one? Notice any urges to hold onto or push away your feelings. Respond to these urges with understanding. Notice how your body responds to the feelings. Is there tension anywhere? Sweaty palms? Racing heartbeat? Urge to cry? Urge to run or hide? Urge to fix it or make it go away? Simply be aware of your emotions without judging or trying to get rid of them. Re-direct your attention to just observing your emotions. Notice any changes in your emotions during this exercise. Do they change or stay the same? Get stronger or weaker? Return to mindful breathing before ending this exercise, as it can be a difficult one. This exercise can be done with moderate, less intense feelings at first.


Mindful of Physical Sensations: Physical sensations can be urges, pain, tension, hunger and racing heart. Begin to focus on sensations involved in your body as your body contacts the surface you are sitting or laying on. Notice the parts of your body that are not in contact with the surface. Notice the sensation of air on skin or a sheet touching the skin. Notice the air temperature. Notice any body sensations: urges, cravings, hunger, pain, muscle tension, racing heart, stiffness, cramps, body temperature, etc. Notice any thoughts or judgments you are making about your physical sensations; then gently re-direct your attention to your body sensations. After 5-10 minutes, shift your attention back to the sensations you feel as your body contacts the surface of your chair or bed, then focus on breathing.


Mindfulness in All Activities: We can apply mindfulness to any activity at any time during the day. We can drive mindfully and do household chores mindfully; meaning we are keenly focused on what we are doing at the moment. We can practice mindfulness in the shower, during a walk, in a park, at work, during exercise, in a store, in the Dr’s office, in the waiting room, while dressing, while playing or drawing, etc. When we find feeling of guilt about the past or anxiety about the future creep in, or unwanted thoughts, memories or cravings, we gently re-direct our focus to the here and now.



This article was written by Marc Baisden, MACP, MIN

Click HERE to Learn more about Marc Baisden.

https://www.alignable.com/anchorage-ak/recovery-intervention-services

COMING HOME


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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

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www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-sandeman

LOVE EACH OTHER, AND ENJOY THE RIDE

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The world can be a very scary place.

Everything seems to change daily.

Uncertainty in every aspect of life surrounds us.

We are all faced with one tragedy after another. On any day you can read about plane crashes, politics, racism, opioids, politics, politics, politics—

NO MORE POLITICS PLEASE – but we do need to pay attention.

You may be wondering; how does this affect love?

The current divorce rate around 50 per cent.


Can you imagine the impact on the children?

On one hand, no wonder relationships are struggling, and the divorce rate is so high. We are living in a world of "me" time. Consumption is king.

We all need to take a deep breath and slow down. Life is moving too fast.

We need to get back to a day where we say “Hi” to our neighbors instead of fearing them.

On the other hand, it's not all bad: I'm happy, in fact, I'm individually optimistic, yet, globally pessimistic.

Can we change the course of things to come?

I don't know.

We've messed it up badly.


“I suggest in the future for those of you walking down the aisle could you please uncross your fingers and take your tongue out of your cheek.”


Just think about it for a moment. The family unit is in a state of crisis; the institution of marriage may be failing.

I suggest in the future for those of you walking down the aisle could you please uncross your fingers and take your tongue out of your cheek. You're only screwing up your kids and, in turn, our world.

If everyone meant, “till death do us part,” the divorce rate may only be 20-25 per cent resulting in:


  • At least a 50 per cent reduction in unwanted children, in turn resulting in:

  • A smaller global population, in turn resulting in:

  • Less consumption, in turn resulting in HOPE!


Wait a second, if that was the equation. I might not exist.


We have certainly left one messed up world for the next generation to try to fix. It's too bad that most of them come from broken homes. How are they going to fix the world, when they can't even fix themselves?


My radical suggestions:


  • Be aware of what is going on in "our" world.

  • Look at yourself first and the people in your life who matter and try to encourage, nurture and love.

  • TURN OFF THE NEWS.

  • Laugh, smile and cry from time to time. Have a blast. Treat others with kindness. Make your “moments” memorable. Don't have kids just for the sake of it - kids aren't puppies.

  • Avoid confrontations: life is too short.

  • And, most important, remember to hug each other.

  • If you do find yourself in a relationship that isn’t working, that’s okay, cherish the good parts, and move forward in a positive fashion.


We may not be able to fix the mess; however, we can have a blast during the ride.



This article was written by Lindsay Wincherauk.

Click HERE to Learn more about his work.

www.lindsaywincherauk.com


Finding Pleasure and Joy in the Combination of Contrasting Experiences

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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.

WEBSITE: www.rowrowrow.com

COURAGE AND PROSPERITY

 

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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.

https://elisarobyn.com/