In a town far away on top of a hill,
Lived people so narrow, judgmental and shrill.
They decided on high that all hair should be brown.
They decided for everyone who lived in their town.
“To live here,” they cried, “brown hair is a must.
Brown hair is just right, all others are bust.
If other than brown is just who you are,
Then you must leave. Depart! Go very far!
For we won’t have people who don’t look like us.
Brown is what’s right. Our rules. It is thus!”
In one of the families, young Trent was born third.
In a family so big and so famous was heard,
A cry of great grief like someone had died,
The aunts and uncles and parents all cried.
Young Trent, their treasure, though brown hair expected,
Was born blond, a towhead, a child rejected.
Though cute and adorable, smart with eyes wide,
His parents knew that his hair had to hide.
If the neighbors and townspeople had any doubt,
That Trent was not brown-haired, the family was out.
From the day he could crawl, Trent’s hair was dyed brown.
This gave them permission to live in this town.
His parents feared someday his blond hair would show,
Because hair on a kid never ceases to grow.
Each Saturday night as the bath waters ran,
A small dab of brown came out of the can,
To cover those roots of the hair that kept growing,
Like a lawn after rain that needed some mowing.
And so it was thus, each day spent in “hair-hiding,”
In plain sight, with a hat, and some dye so complying.
And all seemed as okay, no foul and no harm,
Until one day, that day, there came cause for alarm.
That day, at the mirror, young Trent stood there staring,
At brown hair AND blond hair – so great, and so glaring.
He’d been told his whole life about hair not so brown,
These people were gross, not fit for their town.
He realized that day he was different than most.
He was blond, not brown-haired. He’s handsome, not gross.
He called to his parents to share his great joy
He was different – unique – not an average boy.
He loved this about him. It gave him great pride.
He was different indeed. He had nothing to hide.
We are each born great, we’re remarkable art.
We are perfect, unique, not a kind of half-start.
We can’t change who we are. That’s a great thing.
We are who we are; it’s our hardwiring.
His parents warned, they cautioned and cried.
“Being different’s not easy, so please Trent just hide.
Let’s dye your hair brown so you fit and blend in.
Let’s get the brown back so life’s safe as it’s been.”
But Trent just said, “No!” on that major day.
“Born different, born right,” is just what he’d say.
“Born blond, not brown-haired, is how I exist.
Being true to myself is what I insist.”
“For someone much greater thought I should be,
A towhead, a blond, not a fake brown-haired me.
Who are these others, with comments to make?
I am who I am. God made no mistake.”
The hair dying stopped on that fateful day.
Pretending was done on the 18th of May.
Proud to be done with the hair-dying story,
Trent wanted his real life, a life of grand glory.
A life that was honest and open and clear,
A life to be lived without hiding or fear.
Trent marched to school with hair like the sun.
The gold in it shone, like threads that been spun,
But support did not happen, not a moment or second.
It didn’t work out as he thought or had reckoned.
They taunted and teased, chased, hit and called, “Nay!”
It changed all his friends in only one day.
Chased into the woods, with mean words attacking.
Trent stayed hiding there ‘til daylight went packing.
He hid in the dark and was sobbing with fear,
That someone who hated his hair could be near.
“How could this all matter?” He wondered. He cried.
“How could being different make others despise?
I have no control of the color of my hair,
Born with it dark or born with it fair.
Like our gender, or height, preference or skin tone,
We get what we get, it’s really our own.
For down deep I’m still me, the same me I have been.
Down deep, I’m still Trent, their classmate and friend.”
And in that tough moment, a moment of fear,
Young Trent saw a stranger, approaching, quite near.
A man with a beard, long, thick and so white;
A smile so warm, so kind and so bright.
“What brings you to woods, so dark and so deep?
The old man continued, “And can cause you to weep?”
Trent shared his sad story in every detail.
The old man just listened and grew very pale.
He waited ‘til young Trent was all about finished,
Did not interrupt, critique or diminish
The sadness, the pain, the hurt so disarming
That someone so young could find life so alarming.
Once Trent had recounted his unhappy story,
The old man responded with strength and with glory.
His words were bold, his lessons were wise.
Trent listened intently for ways to devise,
A way to be happy when others all yack.
To be strong and courageous when others attack.
The wise man was brilliant and very aware.
He took in a breath, then started to share:
“We are truly born great, just as we are!
Our lives are important. You’re amazing, my young star.
But with others, they think, it’s for them to say
Who is fine, who is good, who is right, who’s okay.”
“For greatness is not in brown hair or blond.
Greatness is not in how our words sound.
Greatness is not on our outside – our skin.
Greatness, true greatness, always happens within.”
“We just can’t know how great you can become
By looking at hair color. That’s crazy, that’s dumb.
Down deep we’re amazing and awesome and bold.
Down deep is our value, our treasure, our gold.”
“No one has eyes to see what you see.
No one can tell you who or what you should be.
That’s your job. Yes it is. It’s all up to you.
It’s your work and your life. You’ve got to be true.”
“Life isn’t easy, its tough and its trying.
It gives you hard tests to make sure you’re applying
What you know of TrueYou, what gifts you receive,
How great you can be and what you believe.”
“You were born awesome – awesome indeed.
But to live each day awesome you must become freed
From the judgments of others, from perspectives so narrow
To let your light soar like a brilliant gold arrow.”
“The world needs TrueYou – the “you” as you are.
Blond or brunette, gay, straight or bizarre.
You are you, and amazing! The “you” born just right.
You were born to shine brightly, to share your great light.”
But you can’t shine in life, when you let yourself hide.
And you can’t change the world, if you’re ashamed inside.
You didn’t choose how you’re born, where you’re from.
But you can surely choose the “you” you become.
Young Trent felt alive and committed to greatness.
He thanked the wise man but feared for the lateness.
His family’d be worried, scared and unbound,
That young Trent was not home, not safe and not sound.
He hurried right home in the dark of the night.
But this time for him, a walk without fright.
More aware, more informed and so much more wise.
He got to his door at a quarter to five.
Once home and together, the lost son lamented
With details and stories. The sobbing relented.
Trent shared a new lesson of power and strength.
They stood right by him; they’d go to great lengths
To handle what happens, to just rise above.
To help Trent show up to a life he can love.
The next day with power and confidence glowing,
Trent moved through the town without any fear showing.
He let loose his blond hair and wore it with pride.
He stood up to names and to insults so snide.
His courage to be true soon had others inspired,
The insults then stopped, mean comments subsided.
Trent showed that hair color makes no difference at all
Be true to yourself and you’ll never feel small.
We didn’t choose how we’re born, where we’re from.
But we can surely choose the “who” we become.
And soon many others with all hair colors flowing,
Appeared in the town, the numbers were growing.
People in fear with hair a fake brown,
Were actually there hiding, still living in town.
Pretending is bad, it loads on the strife.
Hiding restricts us, it limits our life.
We are each given gifts to discover and use,
And we shortchange the world if we don’t know or refuse
To be open and honest and accept the real “me”.
Trent learned that it takes this to really be free.
In just that one moment, things started to change.
People are people, not weirdoes or strange,
Just people, all different, all great, all divine,
Allowed to be true, to be honest, and fine.
And changed they all were from perspectives so narrow.
They cheered and applauded and hailed Trent like pharaoh.
But Trent just continued to live life each day,
Honest and great, in his unique way.
From that day on, in towns far and near
That kept people out because of some fear.
Now invited them in – all are welcome you know.
We all belong. Yes we do! It is right. It is so.
Come out from your hiding. Join life. Be alive!
When you hide you stay small and afraid - you can’t thrive.
You’re an original, not a copy or fake.
You’re the real deal, just perfect; you are no mistake.
So find your right place, as soon as you can.
Be an accountant, a salesman, a singer or stuntman.
It’s all up to you, the directions you choose.
It’s all up to you, don’t wait, don’t you snooze.
Each day that goes by, you never get back.
Each moment, each day, each minute, each track
Is gone. Yes it is, but the next one is here.
Use it wisely. Don’t waste it! Let your best self appear.
You were born awesome, no matter what you’ve been taught.
You were born amazing, born cool – you got what you got.
It’s your gift. It’s yours. It’s all just for you.
It’s divine in its nature so, be true to your “who.”
Be yourself, be your best. Live life your own way.
Be proud, find your place, make the most of each day.
You’re great and your awesome, just as you are.
Be your true self, be a bright shining star.
This article was written by Jay Forte
Click HERE to Learn more about Jay’s work.
“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.
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. 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.
I know this may be shocking, but eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. Furthermore, dropping fat from your diet doesn’t necessarily make you lose weight. In fact, it can even have the opposite effect! As many people know, there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. But since “fat” is too often regarded as a cause of our obesity problem, we don’t differentiate between the two in the way that is absolutely vital. All fat is inherently seen as bad by many of us.
But fat is essential to health! And the good news is for maintaining a healthy weight (and many other pluses) it’s only a matter of understanding how to get it right.
Like carbohydrates, fat is fuel. And many vitamins and minerals are fat soluble which means that fat is required as the catalyst to break these nutrients down for the body to absorb. If you’re on a low-fat diet for even just a couple weeks, you’re likely to feel some negative effects, ironically including weight-gain. And you can eat all the right nutrients, but if you don’t have the right amount of fat to act as the catalyst to absorb the nutrients, you can actually become deficient in them.
Fats are also needed for healthy joints and connective tissues. And here’s another plus: fats satisfy an appetite quickly to help prevent overeating. Ever sit down with a bag of low-fat chips and, before you know it, you’ve polished off the whole bag? You keep eating them because the body never feels satisfied. It’s the same with all “low-fat” foods like crackers, bread, cereal, pasta, and other starchy foods. It’s easy to overeat them. And then what does your body do with the overflow of the starchy calories? It stores them as…fat!
One-hundred calories of the healthy fats (what you might find in an avocado, for instance), tend to be more satisfying to the body than one-hundred calories of carbohydrates, like found in grains. Same amount of calories, much different level of satiation.
Finally, did you know that the human brain is eighty percent fat? Not only have we become a nation of people getting fatter with our low-fat diets, we’re potentially compromising our neurological health.
The answer is not to remove fat from your diet. The answer is to eat more healthy fats while avoiding the unhealthy ones. It’s the unhealthy fats that are responsible, to a large degree, for obesity and its attendant diseases. Heart disease and diabetes are on the rise and unhealthy fat is a big culprit.
Unhealthy fats are everywhere. A little history lesson: back in the 1980s, food manufacturers came out with cheap ways to cook things. Suddenly we were all eating foods cooked in inexpensive oils like corn, canola, or safflower oil. These are expeller-pressed oils that become rancid even before you buy them, and they are guaranteed to make the thyroid, which governs your metabolism, weaker. These oils are what you find in common snack foods, bread, cereal, and similar processed foods.
Even worse is hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is produced by heating vegetable oil to 700 degrees and then filtering hydrogen gas through it. The oil becomes unstable at such high temperatures, thus allowing the hydrogen atoms to bond with the oil. The oil then cools to become a solid at room temperature, like butter. The process has a dangerous side effect: free radicals. What are free radicals? These are unstable molecules that roam around the body chipping particles from cell walls, which then create more free radicals.
As you may know, eliminating free radicals is a vital role of antioxidants, found primarily in raw fruits and vegetables.
Most people consume too many unhealthy fats that contain these free radicals. And an excess amount of them can be costly to one’s health in several ways. The deteriorating nature of free radicals is among the primary causes of aging. And they can also be a cause of mutated cell growth and a weakened immune system making the body vulnerable to cancer.
Free radicals almost always suppress the body’s thyroid function and that, right there, is a big cause of obesity. You zap your thyroid and you zap your metabolism. Slow metabolism = weight gain.
To offset this, once oils like hydrogenated vegetable oil hit the market, we started reducing our intake of all fats. We started looking for low-fat alternatives and starving ourselves of the needed healthy fats and buying into the calorie-counting protocol as a discipline. That’s a recipe tailor-made for failure.
Fats come in two categories: saturated and unsaturated and it’s easy to tell the difference. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, unsaturated is liquid at room temperature. You need both. Yes, contrary to what you might have heard, you need even the saturated kind, as we’ll discuss.
Unsaturated fats can be found in avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and oils that are liquid at room temperature, like olive oil. All processed oils should be cold-pressed. Cold-pressing means what the name implies: the oil is extracted under cool temperatures, thus protecting the potential health-creating qualities of the oil. But these are oils you don’t want to cook with. Unsaturated fats break down when cooked. (This is why fried foods aren’t good for us even if they’re cooked in olive or similar quality oils.)
Since unsaturated oils like olive oil break down eventually, even at room temperature, no oil has a shelf life longer than a few months once it’s opened. After such time the oil will be rancid, although undetectable by smell.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids are worthy of extra attention. These are oils found in nuts and seeds like flax and chia, as well as fish. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider these fatty acids “essential,” they do have great nutritive value. Omega-3 oils can lower cholesterol and are also blood thinning which naturally can be good for many of us. But again, like all other unsaturated fats, heating these oils destroys the health-producing effects. This is part of why you don’t want to overcook fish. It’s also why roasted nuts and seeds—as opposed to raw—aren’t exactly healthy.
Flaxseed oil can be a good product, but the raw seed as a whole food is how you get those omega-3s as fresh as possible. With fish oil products, there is a lot of debate as to whether they truly retain any beneficial value since the processing involves heat and oxygen. The data pertaining to the fatty acids being preserved for the sake of a long shelf-life is weak, and I believe the whole fish to be the superior option.
If you want to cook with oil, then it’s important to use oils that are saturated fats which are more heat stable: butter or ghee (oil extracted from butter that is less likely to burn) or coconut oil for example. Ghee made from butter is completely heat stable making it perfect for any high-heat cooking. Ghee has been in the Ayurvedic diet of India for many years and is generally available at any natural food store. Coconut oil deserves special attention as well as a place in every kitchen pantry. In addition to being very heat stable, it has a healing effect on the thyroid. If you suspect that you’re overweight due in part to a suppressed thyroid, then try taking raw, cold pressed, organic coconut oil (not palm oil which is unhealthy). It may sound counterintuitive that a saturated fat such as coconut can help with weight loss, but it can. Try it for yourself. Take one tablespoon daily in a smoothie or melt it into warm foods.
Another benefit is that saturated fat like coconut lubricates the joints and bowels, helping them both to move a little better. Also the brain is made of saturated fat, making a supply of it important for the maintenance and regeneration of vital brain tissues.
Okay, I know what you must be thinking. Saturated fat? Butter? Really? Sure, it might be eyebrow-raising, but trust me. The key with saturated fats is moderation. Too much saturated fat will raise your cholesterol (even cholesterol-free oil like coconut oil). But is a tablespoon a day of these oils going to raise your cholesterol? Most likely not.
A lot of questions that people seem to have about fats center on animal fats in particular. So let’s consider a few of these.
Meats. Meats such as beef and chicken should represent only a small part of one’s diet, if any part at all. These saturated fats can increase cholesterol and set a chain reaction towards heart disease and weight gain. The leaner (and less frequent) of these products the better.
Eggs. Bad for you, right? Actually, no. Eggs can be an excellent food. Sure, they’re high in cholesterol, but it’s not a cholesterol that raises yours. There is saturated fat in eggs, but only to the tune of less than one gram per egg.
Dairy. This is a tradeoff. For protein and fat, milk isn’t bad in moderation, but its main drawback is the presence of lactose (milk sugar) which is mucous-forming, making milk a little bit of a challenge for the body to digest. Yogurt’s a little better than milk in this regard because the friendly bacteria partially break down the lactose making it more digestible.
Note: stay away from pre-sweetened yogurt, which unfortunately represents ninety-percent of yogurts on the market. Most of them use processed sugar. Even the ones that brag about having real fruit still add extra sugar. Go with unsweetened yogurt, and then add the elite sweetener, such as honey or fruit. Raw, unpasteurized dairy is growing in popularity because the idea is that it’s less mucous-forming from maintaining the original enzymes which help digest the lactose.
If you do drink milk, it’s best to go with skim milk, right? Wrong. The whole low-fat dairy thing has been problematic. Two-percent and skim milk should just be called what they are: lactose concentrate. They’re hard to digest and a big part of why lactose sensitivity is becoming more common. Our bodies are rebelling. If you wish to have milk, then drink whole milk—just less of it. And you’ll drink less of it because it’ll satisfy much quicker than the milk sugar stuff.
Better still, make your own milk! If you have a high-powered blender (a fantastic investment), here’s an easy alternative for milk: blend raw hemp seeds with water. Voila! No straining necessary. Add in a sprinkle of coconut sugar and cinnamon. Homemade almond milk, while more labor intensive, is terrific, too. Boxed almond or soy or other nut milks in the store are less than ideal. Like all nuts and seeds, these are unsaturated oils that go rancid once heated and then packaged. Plus, these milks are often augmented with binders and thickeners to keep the water and oils from separating. Just more food processing that you don’t need.
Bottom line: integrate healthy fats into your diet with primarily plant foods. As you can probably guess I am quite partial to sprouted almonds and pumpkin seeds because of their awesome nutritive value. Other raw nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and brazil nuts are great too. I recommend steering clear of peanuts that have no nutritive value. Remember that the right fats can satisfy your appetite, thus helping to avoid overdoing carbs and sugars that everybody’s been doing due to the lack of satiation from the low-fat diet. (For ways to include healthy fats in your diet check out my recipes here, which in my humble opinion are extraordinary.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
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
We don’t have to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace two or three days per week can have a tremendous impact on your health.
You’re getting your heart rate up and lifting your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one. Plus, you’re exercising the largest muscles in your body— namely your gluteus muscles and quads in your legs—which therefore has the most effect on your metabolism. And you’re strengthening your core, too. When you’re hiking over uneven terrain, you’re also exercising your smaller, stabilizer muscles—lots of little muscles that all add up. There’s a lot you can cover by just walking up and down hills.
Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and navigating hills. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t working so hard. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. Do you live somewhere flat? No worries.
A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.
As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best gym exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-force lifts” or “anti-death lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form. Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is an ancient exercise; thus our bodies are well adapted to do them. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet?
Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started. And why not work with a trainer? I do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice, the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this.
My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.
As mentioned, I highly recommend working with a fitness trainer. What you learned in PE class just isn’t going to cut it if a deeper power for the sake of your longevity and life-force is what you’re going for. And going to the gym on your own and doing the same routine day in and day out only does so much. It’s much more effective and time better spent to shake things up. The variety of fitness activities is endless, and changing up the exercises you’re doing on a regular basis will make you stronger faster. A trainer knows best how to do this, and it needn’t be time-consuming. With the right kind of intensive exercise, you can get a lot out of a single hour, or even less.
Believe me, I’ve seen the results firsthand through trainers I have worked with, and by my own experience as a trainer at the Ashram. I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in people of all body types and starting out at all different levels of fitness.
Find the trainer who believes in sticking with the free weights. Free weights have exponentially more impact than machines. Remember that core and lower-body exercises are the most important since, as we discussed above, they’re the biggest muscles. Men especially tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. Again, we’re talking about ‘power-building’.
Keep in mind you don’t have to work with a trainer every day. Why not start with just two days a week? Of course a good trainer will teach you how to work out on your own, too. I’m confident you’ll be very impressed with what you get out of it.
The other days of the week? Hike or go for power walks! I am very much a believer in fast-paced walking. Too easy for you? Try carrying three to ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits—sports that you like to play. Being physically active should be enjoyable, something you look forward to. Yoga, soccer, pottery (well maybe something a little more strenuous), swimming, and biking—they’re all good. Need I share my opinion of the contact sports like football that invite injury and wear and tear on the body?
Get creative. Join a softball team. Take up tennis. Play ultimate frisbee. Dance! (This one is among my favorites.)
Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. On the note of diet, I recommend a sturdy dose of easy-to-digest protein following your workout. Naturally, and for the sake of purity and potency, I’m a fan of my post-workout smoothie with Infinity Protein, which is a blend of organic hemp and brown rice protein infused with muscle-enhancing herbs. And of course the Infinity Protein Bars too, which are hands down, the best bars in terms of both pure ingredients and flavor. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the right chemistry with your diet and then pump the handle with exercise, with the restorative nutrition to follow.
As a motivating factor, it’s always helpful to remember your physiological health is intimately connected with your mental health – that’s your peace and happiness. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern-day stressors and still maintain a general sense of wellbeing.
It’s the strong mind and body together that build true power, and there’s no moment like the precious present to jump onboard. I say we go for it.
Over the last seventeen years the Infinity Superfoods have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and it is an honor to have you as part of the team.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
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.
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.
"Knowing who you are is confidence. Confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone's throat." -- Mila Kunis
Do you know anyone who constantly tells you how great they are? Whether it's a blatant statement of bragging or a masked self-compliment, it's easy to recognize those who swagger. They are the ones who like to 'up' your story, who always have a better, bigger, or bolder experience than the one you shared.
They often are the loudest one in the room (though not all loud people are cocky--don't confuse that!), are able to speak over others, and are inclined to tell long, detailed stories, rarely pausing to read the expressions of those around them, assuming everyone is deeply fascinated with their tale. They interrupt. They have this uncanny way of steering every conversation back to them. When you speak, if you get the chance, you wonder if they are hearing anything you say.
There's something in them, some sort of inner need, that has to let you know that they are smart, successful, and superior. It's the kind of person we try to avoid at the office, at a party, or when we're out and about. And though they can appear to be quite confident, I think, deep down, their need to boast comes from a place of inferiority.
"Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips." -- ancient proverb
And then there are those who struggle with having any confidence at all. These people live a cowardly life, tending to avoid confrontations and have difficulty speaking their truth. They sometimes stumble over their words and/or don't speak loud enough for you to hear clearly. They lack confidence in their own judgment, hesitate to try new things, and avoid challenges like the plague. Because of this lack of trust in self, they question their own abilities and often feel powerless. Those who struggle with personal power tend to have difficulty setting appropriate boundaries and can be "yes" men/women.
Somewhere in between the two extremes lies the emotionally intelligent competency of personal power.
"Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions." -- Marianne Williamson
Personal power, that sense of self-confidence and an inner knowing that you can thrive through life's challenges, can sometimes be confused with cockiness, but it's not that at all.
Those who have personal power -- who are strong in this understanding of their strengths (and areas of growth) believe they can set the direction of their lives. They are not victims to the winds of change but sense when things need to shift and take action to make that happen. They have a calm inner conviction about who they are and their abilities. Those rich with this competency tend to know what they want and go after it, and can speak their truth and give voice to their values and convictions.
Though they are the ones that make things happen, those with strong personal power don't always have to do it brashly and loudly. One important aspect is that they can distinguish between the things they can control and the things that are out of their control, and can let go of the latter when needed. They are always learning and never propose to have it all figured out.
Listen for how they define self. You'll hear them speaking about qualities of the heart, not about what they do. Try asking at your next social gathering, "Tell me about yourself?" and listen for whether or not they tell you what they do or who they are.
Think of those you lead -- or those who lead you -- your colleagues, your teammates, your manager, the boss, your pastor, your significant other, or someone you just admire. Which of these three C's does he/she lean toward: cockiness, cowardice, or confidence? Which type of leader would you rather follow? Which would you rather work alongside? I daresay we all are most drawn to those with true confidence.
Even more importantly, can you discern when you are being cocky, cowardly, or confident? It's an awareness worth developing.
"There is a fine line between confidence and cocky. Confidence can bring you many things, but cockiness can make you lose many things." -- Azgraybebly Josland
Those who take the time to develop this competency of personal power unleash their ability to convey their ideas and solutions in an assured manner which gives others confidence in their ability to solve problems and achieve results. In other words, those that have personal power can lead, and lead well.
Most of us dance between the three, cockiness, cowardice, and confidence, depending on the day, our mood, and our behavioral self-control. In other words, we all have room to grow. Here are nine practical steps to begin moving toward true confidence/personal power:
Remember the glory days. Success breeds confidence, so take a moment to remember the things you've achieved in life so far. What are your success stories? Where have you excelled? When did you accomplish a goal you set out to reach and how did you go about accomplishing it? Remembering past successes -- even those you achieved as far back as childhood -- can help boost your levels of personal power when you begin to doubt your abilities.
It takes a village. Now think about who helped you accomplish those goals? Who believed in you or gave you the inspiration to keep going even when things got rough? Did anyone provide financial means which enabled you to succeed, or come alongside you as a friend or mentor to be there when you needed them? Reminding ourselves that our successes most always are a team effort can help us avoid the full-of-self syndrome. And leaning into friends as you accomplish goals can be a source of encouragement and help ensure success.
Identify the voices. I led a women's group once and we attempted to get to the root of our insecurities. In almost every case, as children, we had been told by someone that we couldn't -- or shouldn't -- and now, as adults, we still believed that lie. Think on the areas where you lack confidence and see if you can remember where you first heard that maybe you were no good at it. Identify who said it and when. Recognizing the source of negative thoughts can help put them in their place as you move toward a more positive outlook.
Stop the hurtful self-talk. Even if someone was hurtful with their words, it's most likely you who continues the negative self-talk. Notice when you say, "I can't" or start a sentence with "I'm only...", diminishing yourself. Try not to begin with "I'm sorry, but...". Learn to state your truth without apologies. Also listen if you tend to tag "isn't it?" at the end of a suggestion, or "right?" Those words are a way of seeking approval of others and teaches them to treat us as lacking power.
Build some fences. Setting boundaries and learning to say "no" can free us up to accomplish the things that are important to us. Being a yes man/woman actually limits us to doing only what others ask of us vs. moving in the direction that we want. You may need to spend some time reviewing your value and clarifying your goals to begin setting appropriate boundaries.
Lay down the remote. Determine which things in your life you have control over, and which areas you don't. Hint: you can never control others’ thoughts, behaviors, or actions. Trying to control what you can't will only lead to frustration. What you do have control over are your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
Dream a little dream. When we create something new, it appears first as a thought. Envision yourself as smart, competent, articulate, poised, admired...and humble. Use the prompt, "In a perfect world, I would ___" and fill in how it would look if you were teeming with personal power.
Shhh. In your next conversation, and those that follow, determine to listen more than you speak. Ask open-ended questions with the goal of learning more about the other person and the whys behind their thoughts and actions. If you tend to tell long-winded tales, shorten your stories and pause often to ask the other person to share as well.
Follow the leader. Find those in your life that exhibit true confidence and strive to emulate them. Watch how they interact with others -- in meetings and in one-on-one conversations. If possible, ask to meet with them for lunch and learn from them.
As with all change for the positive, it's easier if you work with a coach to help you stay on track. Consider engaging a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you. Shifting behaviors, especially habits we've been practicing for a long time, can take time and effort, but the benefits of moving away from cockiness and cowardice toward confidence will be rewarding.
"As is our confidence, so is our capacity." -- William Hazlitt
This article was written by Amy Sargent.
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
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
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.
The art of meditation is one of the most profound spiritual practices or techniques we can engage in. Through meditation, we anchor ourselves in the Holy Now which means that we step out of time and into the eternal. The eternal is that which is beyond time.
With this definition, we can be said to be meditating any time we step out of time, out of opinions, judgments or labeling. Whenever we are observing something without having to put a name onto it, we can be said to be meditating.
Even when we are formally meditating, we move in and out of actually meditating. We may be said to be meditating when we “are awake” and fully present. And we are preparing to meditate as we “fall asleep” and get caught up by trains of thought.
When we meditate, we allow ourselves to become still enough to realize that we are not our thoughts, not our bodies and not our emotions. But that we are the one experiencing these. We connect with the truth of our being. We know that we are spiritual beings having a human incarnation. Not merely having a human experience.
The Practice of Meditation
Now, there are different forms of meditation and infinite ways to practice meditation that we will not go into here. However, we are wise to find a meditation practice that best meets our needs and desires.
Whatever form we use to meditate, it is of great need that we do not just sit down without first stating the intention of our sitting. As a spiritual practice, the intention should always be to wake up. To come into a greater realization of that which is real. To have more profound insights that God is all and that we are all in and of God.
As we enter into formal meditation, we do so being alert an aware. Diving deep into the Holy Now, we enter into deep communion with God. We become increasingly open, available and receptive to catch intuitive hits and hunches.
Repetition is the key to growth and unfolding
Repetition is the key to growth and unfolding. And so the more we practice anchoring ourselves in the Holy Now, the more we strengthen our presence muscles. The stronger they are, the easier it will be to remain present. Both in general and when challenging situations or circumstances arise.
In these challenging circumstances, being present is necessary if we want to make use of our ability to choose. To respond rather than react.
Also, if we lose our footing and fall back into time, it will be easier and quicker for us to regain our presence in the eternal once we become aware that we have fallen out of it.
We need to make it a habit to meditate every day in some form or shape. Even if it is just for a few minutes. We are all vibrational beings. As such all our thoughts feelings and actions carry energetic vibrations. All our choices send a vibrational message to the Universe which then corresponds to those vibrations guiding and assisting us accordingly.
By sending the message that we truly desire to take conscious part in the evolution of our soul – God will respond to that and assist us with every means available. This is how we grow and unfold.
Remain non-attached to the outcome of your meditation practice
Another important point with meditation is that we need to remain non-attached to the outcome of it. We have set our intention to meditate to have a closer encounter with God and eternity. However, it is crucial that we do not judge or deem our practice.
Sometimes as we meditate, we are able to maintain a high level of presence. Other time we may be pulled off into fantasy-land the minute we sit down. And we only wake up for brief moments during the entire session.
As with all spiritual practices, the art of meditating should not be performed in order to get something or to get somewhere. We are not here to make or force anything to happen. But we are here merely to allow something to happen in and through us.
We sit and meditate knowing that we are precisely where we are supposed to be and that all that happens is working together for our good.
There are so many benefits from meditation. So much to be grateful for. It is a blessed practice. The practice of non-action – which is really the basis of all action. Giving thanks for the meditation practice is a beautiful way to both start and end each session.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.