macchu picchu

Enlightenment

Currently I am part of an amazing group of women focused on their growth. One day we talked about enlightenment. I said I felt I had a moment of it when I was in Peru. It is something I still get glimpses of, but not at the depth I had there. They asked me to describe what my experience of enlightenment was.

macchu picchuBelow are the elements I recognized as part of my enlightenment experience. What I notice is if I can regain one or more of these elements, I can return to that peace in my daily life. Each element addresses something that can cause us pain, and by removing it we can find peace.

No Judgments

Judging ourselves, others or circumstances causes us pain. When we give something meaning, good or bad, is when we get away from the truth and into our interpretation of the truth which creates pain. I wrote about the peace of releasing judgments in a recent post where I shared an old story about how releasing the self-created highs and lows of life, provides more peace and contentment.

No Labels

One step further than no judgments, is releasing labels and words. When we label something, we have created a judgment – young or old, boy or girl, happy or sad. To find the peace of enlightenment, release words themselves. Once you label or name something, you have categorized it in your mind and it is no longer a magical thing existing on its own. Also releasing words detaches us from our self-created world. When we just see and experience things without a label, we experience the peace of unconditional existence.

No Desire

Desiring something means we are not unconditionally accepting of the current moment. We are saying what we have and where we are is not good enough. True enlightenment is being at peace with the current circumstance whatever it is. It means pure acceptance of this moment and not feeling the pain of wanting something better or different.

No Time

When in a state of enlightenment, the past does not exist or influence our current experience. There is no worry or hope for the future. It means being completely present in the moment without ties to the past or expectations for the future. It is the ability to be fully present in this and only this moment.

No Self

As we release judgments, labels, desire, and time, we begin to let go of the meaning of the self. Enlightenment is releasing the ego and personality. When we are not judging or labeling ourselves, we are free to just exist. When we release desire and time, we are in the moment. Imagine if you could release all your baggage, all your judgments, and just experience the liberty of being. It is experiencing from outside your physical being and mind. It is allowing yourself to be separate and independent from the human experience.

At One

When we are no longer tied to the self, we become at one with all. We no longer feel the separation created by judgments. We lose our self and blend into the wonder of all.  Instead of feeling lost and insignificant when we release the ego, we instead gain all existence. We no longer become a single drop of water, but can experience what is means to be part of and wholly the ocean.

When you are having a challenging day, see if you can experiment with one or more of these concepts. Start by spend 10 minutes every day and try to remove your words, judgments and labels. Be at one with what is around you without interpretation.  See if this new way of being can bring you peace. Namaste.

Puerta Vallarta peace

Chaos out of Peace

What I really want is peace. Peace in the world. Peace between people. Peace within myself. For me the biggest challenge to peace is truly believing it is possible.

Often when things are good, I mentally, verbally or physically make them bad. Deep down I find it hard to accept peace. On some level I don’t think peace is real or will last. As they say, I am always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” I see happiness and peace as signals that things are going to hit the crapper at any moment. And if they don’t, I do something to sabotage and dissolve any of the peace I had experienced.

Puerta Vallarta peaceRecently we went on vacation in Puerto Vallarta. We had a great day on the beach then a lovely dinner with friends. On the way home, we took the wrong bus which took us 30 minutes and a mile or two out of our way. I could have laughed it off as an adventure, but instead I turned a wonderful day into a horrible one. I was tired and cranky. I stayed in the negativity instead of choosing the joy I truly wanted. Why do we do this sometimes?

I think the first reason we self-sabotage our own happiness, is that we don’t believe that peace, joy and happiness are a meant to be the normal way of life. From our own experience, through our parents or peers, or what we see in the news or social media, we are led to believe that life is difficult; life is a struggle. We do not accept that it is possible to enjoy peace, joy, and happiness as much as we want.

Another hurdle to overcome in order to have more peace and joy, is to believe that you deserve peace and joy. One of the reasons we think peace and joy will be taken from us is that we don’t fully believe that we deserve to be happy. For me, the thought is if others are in pain in the world then it is selfish of me to be happy. For others, the thought is that they are not good enough to deserve to be happy.

Starting today, instead of creating chaos and negativity, start bringing more peace into your life through Acceptance, Focus and Gratitude:

Acceptance

The first shift we need to make is believing that peace and happiness are possible. That these emotional states do exist if we choose them. We need to accept and truly believe that we deserve and can have peace and happiness. We need to believe that peace is possible in our lives. Embrace the concept, believe it is possible and know that no matter what, you deserve it.

Focus

Be aware of where your focus is. Are you focused on peace and joy, or the fear of losing them? Are you enjoying the good, or waiting for the bad to follow soon after? Be alert and vigilant. When you notice your focus moving to negativity and fear, take a breath. Shift your focus to what you want.  What we focus on is what we experience. Choose peace and joy.

Gratitude

Show gratitude, not fear of loss, when peace and joy come into your life. Say “thank you more please” when times are good. Have the expectation of more good coming to you. Start out with little things. If 90% of your life is in chaos, focus on and cultivate the 10% of good. Be grateful that you have even that little bit and joy, and soon you will see more coming your way.

Instead of creating chaos and negativity in our lives, let’s do what we can to create more peace. When we can all start creating peace for ourselves, we begin to create more peace in the world.

Homer Simpson 300 game

Celebrate Every Day

This is my 300th blog post (or at least I think it is). Woohoo!  I never set out to write this many, but it is great to celebrate the accomplishment nonetheless. I may not have had the journalists and a single pathetic balloon to celebrate like Home Simpson had for his perfect 300 bowling game, but I will take some time today to really acknowledge the achievement, the persistence, and the positive responses I have received. Through these 300 posts, at least 150,000 words, I have sent messages meant to inspire, enlighten, and support. Hopefully affecting those that need it when they need it.

Homer Simpson 300 game
You can find Homer’s 300 game at www.simpsonsworld.com › Clips

In our fast-paced world, we don’t take enough time to celebrate big – and little – accomplishments. In a constant rush to the next event or next task, we don’t take time to celebrate what we have achieved. And because of this, we often feel not good enough, not loved. We feel less than because we don’t take the time to recognize the amazing things we do throughout the day. Don’t make that face. Really, each and every day you do something amazing. You are reading these words. You helped the elderly woman at the grocery store. You propelled a moving vehicle. You took care of your family. You landed that big deal at work, or at least managed not to kill your co-workers. Take some time today to notice all that you do and how it improves the quality of life for you and for those around you.

Now take your awareness out to a larger level and recognize all the miracles and blessings you experience. For instance, you are reading a post I wrote in Mexico which you found online or in your electronic mail inbox and can read it thousands of miles away. Amazing! Have you experienced the miracle of flight? Do you find fresh delicious foods in your refrigerator or the local market every day? Do you have food, shelter, and clothing? Are you able to listen to your favorite musical artist anytime, anywhere? Are friends and family a click, call, or short drive away?

I find that depression sets in when we look at our lack instead of all we have. Spend some time today acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing all the miracles and blessings in your life. No matter the bad that we all experience, there is always a host of good happening at the same time. When you become obsessed with the bad, stop and refocus. Start listing off things to be grateful for; recount your achievements. By going through this exercise, you not only shift your focus to abundance, but give yourself the love and courage and strength you need to move forward.

Do not just focus on yourself, but be sure to take the time to tell others how much they mean to you. Talk about their achievements. Let them know why and how much you love them. All too often we can take those most important to us for granted. For yourself and them, take the time to recognize the blessing they are in your life.

As you approach this week, find a way to celebrate and appreciate every day. Big or small, what do you accomplish? Some days getting out of bed when we dread going to work is the biggest accomplishment we can have. That’s ok. Celebrate it. Every night make a list of everything you accomplished. Every morning think of five things for which you are grateful. Celebrating accomplishments, acknowledging achievements, and being grateful are the keys to making every day special.

Jackie Kennedy

Shaping Our Lives

What if you were told growing up, “You never have to worry about keeping up with the Joneses, because we are the Joneses”? or, “Style is not a function of how rich you are, or even who you are. Style is a habit of mind that puts quality over quantity, noble struggle before mere achievement, honor before opulence. It’s what you are. It’s your essential self”? How would you grow up perceiving the world? What would be your expectations for yourself and others?

Jackie Kennedy
Image: https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/jackie-kennedy-175.php

According to the book, Jackie, Janet & Lee by J. Randy Taraborrelli, these were the words spoken to Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by her father. It is easy to see how these words shaped who Jackie was and what she expected from life.

What were you told growing up? What did the adults around you believe? What experiences did you have which shaped your expectations?

Sometimes we are told things which are meant to protect and support us, but which actually hold us back. Sometimes those around us are unstable and cruel. Whatever the circumstance, we often find ourselves decades later continuing to create our life based on some random comment. What was spoken by another has now become a fact of life that we believe completely.

I have set a goal for my yoga class to be able to do a headstand by my 50th birthday. I started with small poses to build up my neck muscles. I have built up to picking my feet off the floor and resting my knees on my elbows. I was in that pose feeling good about myself and my growing strength when my instructor told me to lift my legs. My heartrate increased. My breathing became shallow and fast. I was terrified. My legs froze and felt five times heavier than they are. However, it was not my body that could not do the pose, but my mind.

Instead of having confidence, my mind went to the belief that I have never been athletic, I am old and overweight.  These thoughts are what weighed me down. These beliefs are what kept me from a headstand, not any physical ability. Along with continuing my practice, I am now also working diligently to remove the beliefs which are holding me back.

What beliefs are currently holding you back? What have people told you that you made your own? What incident from years ago are you holding on to and making it a current reality? What stories are you telling yourself to keep yourself small?

We all have beliefs which are not serving us. But we can choose what we continue to believe. Instead of defeating yourself by buying into a negative belief when it appears, tell yourself that even though you believe it now, it is safe to let it go. No matter what we are told – or what we tell ourselves, we can choose to believe it or not. If our current beliefs are not serving us, we can choose ones that move us forward and bring us joy.

Stay tuned for headstand pictures. I will get there. 😉

paint a picture

Painting the Perfect Picture

“Every day I start my day by going over things for which I’m grateful. Even though I’m in hospice and the end is near, I have an immense amount for which I’m deeply grateful.”

A friend of mine from high school wrote that powerful sentence on Facebook this week. The honesty with which he shared was beautiful. He was very grateful for the people in his life and for the little things we so often take for granted. I asked his permission to share his words. He responded with, “Go for it! At this point, my goal is to try and make an impact with any little things I can do.”

paint a pictureAt the end of Jim’s post, he wrote, “Now go make today the best day you’ve lived so far. You can do it, because the day hasn’t been completed yet. So go out there and paint the perfect picture and make it happen. That’s my plan.”  In honor of Jim, I invite you all to do just that. Make today the best day you can by using Jim’s focus, gratitude, and reflection.

Focus

What I found most powerful about my friend’s post was his choice in focus. At age 47 and with three young children, this is not the time for him to leave. He could have so much more of life to experience. But that is not where he focused. He focused on the fact that he met his wife and was able to spend the time he did with her. He focused on the time he had with those he loves, not the time he will not.

How much of our lives do we spend looking at what is lacking? What we have lost? What we will never have?  Make today the best it can be by switching your attitude from one of lack and sadness to one of love and appreciation.

Gratitude

I have spoken many times about the power of gratitude and making it into a daily practice. Jim’s gratitude at this time is simply amazing. Many of us find it hard to be grateful. We are looking at what we want, what we have lost, or we are just in the struggle to survive. Making gratitude a daily habit is a powerful tool to strengthen you and help you find joy in every day.

To help you create your perfect day, every day, start it off by thinking of five (5) things for which you are grateful before you get out of bed. Then every night, take some time to reflect on the wonderful things you experienced. For bonus points, start to recognize the good things in the moment. Actively focusing on gratitude at first may seem like a chore, but after a while you are reprogramming your mind and senses to see the good, and we receive more of what we choose to focus on.

Reflect on What Matters

Jim mentions that the best part of dying is having the “time to sit back and reflect on what really matters.” For Jim, this is his relationships, the long-standing ones and the ones which were rekindled due to his illness. Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring us together, but our focus on the gift and gratefulness for the re-connection is much more important than the reason why.

Take today to sit back and reflect on what is truly important to you. Now look at how you spend your week. Are you putting your time and energy toward what is truly important? What can you adjust in your life to help you focus on what is most important to you?

You have the power to paint the perfect day. Choose your focus. Concentrate on gratitude. Uncover what really matters to you and ensure your time and effort are being put in the right place for you.

Jim, I truly believe your transition will be peaceful for you and those around you due to your ability to make the most of this time. Thank you for blessing our lives.

walking in anothers shoes

Walking in Another’s Shoes

I watched a terrific TED talk the other day by an individual who has a unique view on gender issues and authenticity. Paula Williams started life as a man and is now a woman. Due to her experiences, Paula has a very unique view of both genders and has experienced firsthand that they are equal, but there is not equity for both. She shares funny and sad examples of bias and favoritism. She said she lived life from both sides and the “differences are massive.”

I’ll let Paula’s message focus on the gender issue. What I want to focus on is our assumptions and unconscious bias, and the power we give away to others.

Releasing Assumptions

walking in anothers shoesPaula has a unique opportunity to really learn what it really means to be and experience life as a woman, and a man.  For most of us, we only know what we know as our gender. We can have an idea of the injustices and differences but can’t know firsthand how both genders experience life. This is true for almost everyone we meet. We all have unique journeys. We are born into different bodies and different environments. We learn and experience different things growing up. It becomes all too easy to dislike or attack another because of one aspect we see. Yet, we don’t know the full picture. Unless you can truly walk in another’s shoes, you will never know what they experience, think, and believe. We can assume, but our assumptions are clouded by our own experiences and beliefs.

Next time you have a disagreement or negative reaction to another, stop. Step back. Try to look at the big picture of who this individual is, where they came from, and if other issues they may be experiencing may be coloring their actions. So much of the online and offline rage and arguments we see are based on assumptions and “the other.” When we can release our own bias, it allows us the space to see the full picture of the other person – and start an intelligent dialogue.

Empowerment

For those of you who are struggling with self-esteem and your voice, Paula has some great words of encouragement. I have experienced people throughout my life, and even recently, who sought to put me down and belittle me in one form or another. If we hear – and take in – this negativity for too long, we can start to believe it and take it on as our own. No matter what others say about you, remember that you are intelligent and worthy. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to what you know. Don’t question yourself just because others do. The key to strength and power is to believe it inherently. When we look to others for approval and confirmation, we have already given away our power. Reclaim your strength by owning it.

As you go about this week, notice the assumptions you have about others. How much do you really know about them? Can you identify and, hopefully, release your bias? Who are people who make you doubt yourself? Why are you triggered by them? What do you need to own about yourself? This week, follow Paula’s lead and honor the journey and the differences of others, and yourself.