Inspiration – Joy

Inspiration is always worth repeating and sharing. I hope you enjoy this one.


“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”. ~ Marianne Williamson

autumn sunshineWe humans have a built in default of negative thinking. Its part of our survival mechanism that the ego has reenforced ever since we were little. As we grew up we became alert to scarcity and threats.

So for many of us, it feels natural to go around looking for what is wrong and criticizing things, other people …  and of course, ourselves. We may not even be aware of it.

Negativity feels acceptable and normal. Being safe becomes our preferred state. Even when it makes us miserable. After all “better the devil you know … ”

When we are in this state, the idea of positive thinking is likely to be rejected as ridiculous and fake. Remember, this inner critic is our ego wanting to protect that ways things are.  If we were to be more positive and less fearful, it would lose its power over our thinking and behavior.

Yet, neuroscience shows us that we can change our thinking by reenforcing new neural circuits in the brain. With practice, our brains are able to grow and change.
We are not hard wired in our thinking but we can be hard headed.

Here are some ideas to inspire you into shifting your thinking and creating new neural pathways:

  • Instead of looking for what’s wrong. Look for what’s right. For example, write a post it note and keep it with you all day as a reminder. Or catch one of your children or an employee doing something right.
  • Take time to look at something ordinary as something to be grateful for. For example, sitting at the table with your family tonight. Or watching the sun shine through the leaves.
  • Before going to sleep reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for.
  • Keep an achievement journal. Write down everything that you accomplish, including the small stuff. We usually filter out our strengths and accomplishments and focus on our losses and weakness. Balance out your thinking by writing down the good times. You will be surprised.

Recognizing these moments will start to transform your neural pathways into ones that recognize how good things really are.

This is where joy lives.

Opinions about Opinions

When I was young I wanted to be grown up and have opinions. I believed that adults with opinions knew what life was about. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted to know things and feel secure in that knowledge, rather than being unsure and insecure.

And so I became opinionated.

I took on a lot of the same values and judgments of my family. But I also went against some of their ways of seeing other people and the world.

And so I formed my own opinions.

Then one day I asked myself  Do my opinions really matter? Do they make a difference or help others … or is it just a facade?  What was behind my opinions?

This is what I discovered.

We strive for knowing in an unknown world. Underneath we still feel insecure and unsure, but we believe that we are right about things. That makes us feel better.

As long as we are attached to our opinions, and how the world should be, our minds remain closed. We become prisoners of our opinions.

Our preferences prevent us from being open to the moment, and can take us off on a wild goose chase to feel more knowledgable, in control … and opinionated.

Opinions about how things should be, keep us hooked on specific outcomes. It takes us out of the present and prevents us from seeing alternatives and exploring new ways.

We judge others as ‘wrong’, when they don’t share our opinions. This increases separation rather than connection and understanding. We become more self centered.

Opinions are an expression of an evolved ego, not an evolved human being.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.

 

 

 

* Inspiration – conflict

conflict

“We feel conflict.

The conflict we feel is not a problem.

It is a messenger.

We do not need help; we need only understand that there is no choice in life but to follow the conflict where it takes us.

If we are prepared to go there, we may discover the actuality of self and the nature of our sorrow.”

~ Steven Harrison

This is a message I wish I had heard many years ago. Although, to be frank, I probably would not have been ready to hear it!

All emotions are messengers and reflect a deeper state of our being. As long as we avoid looking at the uncomfortable ones we limit our growth and ability to connect fully to our higher Self and life.

Our ego mind will tell us we shouldn’t be feeling these feelings and judge us for not being better than this.

Yet it isn’t a problem. There is no better or worse.

Let go of judging how you think you should be.

Allow your mind to be open to it. And then your heart.

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself, until you are ready to follow where the feeling takes you.

 Namaste

* Haiku – breathing

breath in mystery

~

Breath in mystery

Breath out self doubt and judgments

Find this ebb and flow

~

If you are new to this site, welcome!

To read more about finding your middle ground, please click here.

 

* Inspiration – Joy

joyful moment

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are”.

~ Marianne Williamson

We humans have a built in default of negative thinking. Its part of our survival mechanism that the ego has reenforced ever since we were little. We are alert to scarcity and threats.

So for many of us, it feels natural to go around looking for what is wrong and criticizing things, other people …  and of course, ourselves. We may not even be aware of it.

Negativity feels acceptable and normal.
Anything comfortable becomes our preferred state. Even when we feel miserable. After all “better the devil you know … ”

When we are in this state, the idea of positive thinking is likely to be rejected as ridiculous and fake. Remember, this inner critic is our ego wanting to protect that ways things are.  If we were to be more positive and less fearful, it would lose its power over our thinking and behavior.

Yet, how did our thinking get to be like this? Through continued reinforcement of judgments and habitual thinking.

Neuroscience shows us that we can change our thinking by reenforcing new neural circuits in the brain. With practice, our brains are able to grow and change.
We are not hard wired in our thinking. Just hard headed sometimes!

Here are some ideas to inspire you into shifting your thinking and creating new neural pathways:

  • Instead of looking for what’s wrong. Look for what’s right. For example, write a post it note and keep it with you all day as a reminder. Or catch one of your children or an employee doing something right!
  • As you pause, take a moment to look at something ordinary as something to be grateful for. For example, sitting at the table with your family tonight. Or watching the sun shine through the leaves.
  • Before going to sleep reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for.
  • Keep an achievement journal. Write down everything that you accomplish, including the small stuff. We usually filter out our strengths and accomplishments and focus on our losses and weakness. Balance out your thinking by writing down the good times. You will be surprised.

Recognizing these moments will start to transform your neural pathways into ones that recognize how good things really are.

This is where joy lives.

* Hyper critical

mother daughter conflict

Are you being hyper critical right now in relationship to one or more people?
Take a moment and consider… Are others consistently irritating you and annoying you?

When we become hyper critical it is usually because we are repressing a feeling … which is usually of resentment towards someone.

Are you resenting someone’s behavior towards you?

Has his or her behavior triggered you and touched a tender place where you don’t feel appreciated or loved? Perhaps there is an unmet need for respect and appreciation.

As human beings we all have basic needs: to feel safe, express ourselves, belong, feel loved and appreciated.

Perhaps you are playing the “martyr” game, a tactic of pretending that something is all right with you while subtly signaling that it is not, and possibly trying to make others feel guilty for their behavior.

Most of us are unconscious of this … its not something our ego is likely to acknowledge.

Taking time right now to acknowledge that this may be the case, will open up compassion for yourself.

See beyond the resentment and anger to the hurt and longing to be seen and loved for who you are. You are worthy of love and respect.

It takes courage to say what you really mean and put your feelings on the line.
Yet this is the only way to heal and move past the struggle.

 

* Asking for help

asking for help

It takes courage to admit that we are struggling and to ask for help.

We often think that admitting struggle is a sign of weakness, yet it happens to all of us.  We all get overwhelmed sometimes. We all experience the highs and lows of life.

We all need help sometimes.

Acknowledging this, is not a sign of weakness, but is rather a sign of acceptance and humility. We recognize that we are not perfect, and are simply human. We all need each other.

To deny that we need help is to deny reality. To choose not to ask for it, is a choice that comes from a false sense of who we “should” be.

It can be hard to let go of this ego thinking, yet the good news is that people really do care.

If someone you know is hurting, would you offer your support? If someone you know got into a tough situation, and they ask you for help, would you give it?  I expect you would, because you have been there too.

young hand giving flower to old hand

It takes courage to open our hearts to being vulnerable and letting go of ego thinking and judgments.

If you are carrying more than you can handle right now then take heart, ask for help and let someone else in.

You are not alone.

* Haiku – be at peace

inner peace~

Can we be at peace

With ourselves and with others?

Let go of judgments.

~

Stop contributing

to the rising storm of fear

that comes from the mind.

~

Let go of the thoughts

that undermine heart and soul.

Find Your Middle Ground.

~

More now than ever

Connect inwards with the breath.

This is where peace lies.

~

End the turmoil now

Come home to the peace within

And become the change.

~

* Beyond Ego

 

ego and self image

Time for an other exploration into ego 101 based on my personal experience and reading.
Ego has come about as a reflection of how others responded to us as babies and young children. All of us come to adulthood with a self image and how we view ourselves. Yep – we all have an ego.

As adults we continue to monitor how we are doing in relationship to other people.  We want others to see us in a certain way. We also believe that this image is how we should be and how others should be too.

In our culture it is reinforced over and over again. To acquire certain things, to look a particular  way, to be part of a certain group. etc etc.

We create stories about how we are doing in relationship to others. What do they think of me? Why won’t they listen to me? I’ll show them what’s right. Will they like what I’m doing? My way is the best way. How do I compare with them? I must win! Am I doing it right? I don’t want to look … nervous, stupid, big headed, ignorant, like my father …

When we see an other, or ourselves acting differently from our ideal image, we are quick to judge. We believe this is the truth.

Ego is the preserver of our image of ourselves.

Looking back on my life I can see how my ego has evolved based on those around me, the beliefs and the culture. Some people will hold on to this image of themselves until the day they die, but more and more of us are waking up to seeing beyond our ego and self image.

We begin to recognize that other people have the same issues, yearnings and fears as we do. We recognize that we all wear masks.

We find compassion for others and their imperfections. And then find compassion and kindness for our own failings.

We realize that we are also part of something much bigger that connects us all.

you inverseWe are part of a bigger consciousness that has been named the Universe, God, Spirit, Source or Presence.

Our ego keeps us feeling separate. Yet within each of us is an element that is spirit and transcends our human bodies and ego.

I believe that we can find our true Self beyond our ego but can never let it fully go if we are to live independently in the world.

It is also the part of ourselves that we all struggle with in our spiritual journey. In yoga, this “i”ness is called Asmita, and is one of the five kleshas or causes of our suffering in the world. It keeps us separate and apart from others and the higher consciousness.

Let your higher Self embrace the smaller ego self like the child it is.

When we do this we find we become less attached to things in this world.

And happiness opens up within us.

Namaste

* Dealing with Stress and my Inner Teenager

waves of lifeOn Tuesday I had a stressful day. A dip in the highs and lows of life day. It wasn’t surprising. I had some concerning news that took the wind out of my sails, and I developed a pressure cooker of a sinus headache. I was in a trough. I know how my mind and body are connected. My body tells me quite clearly when I have to pay attention to what is happening around me and what I am feeling. The message is clear –  take care of my well being. Pause. Connect to my Self.

In hindsight it is easy to catch, but at the time it may take a bit longer to realize that we are under stress. In this particular occasion it became very clear as I went through emails and started to read updates from fellow bloggers. As I painfully squinted at the screen. I was no longer present, but my inner judge was! “What do they want? … Why bother me with this?… How stupid! How superficial!… They are so self centered!… Don’t they get it?… This is trivial! Who has time for frivolity? Pl-ease get to the point.”

My thinking revealed that Val was not present or in balance. My defensive inner teenager had been Teenage bratunleashed.

Everyone was dumb. They didn’t get it. They didn’t see how much pain I was in. They took advantage of me. They tried to control me. All the unmet needs from the past were right there demanding attention.

Our inner teenager  is challenging and requires some kindness and understanding. Its in pain – emotionally and often physically. It has so many unmet needs and is trying to figure out how to get them met as they move from childhood into independence.  It is our ego at the height of all of its immature defensive glory.

One part of me was determined to be miserable and show the world (?) that I had every right to be. Thankfully the part of me who has learned to be a compassionate observer knew that it was time to unplug. NOW!

You are stressed. Take care of yourself  and find your middle ground. Be gentle and kind. Let things be as they are.

Stones surrounded by rushing waterIt was easier after I had taken half a Sinutab and put on my favorite restorative yoga music. I embraced everything that was coming up. I noticed resistance. I breathed and didn’t push. I found my middle ground and was able to stay there. Healing tears fell softly. I meditated and lost track of time. My husband came and went and let me be. He knows better than me sometimes ❤

I began to feel better and went to watch tv to distract myself … and found I had no appetite for it at all. ZERO. I wanted to stay in solitude. I journaled instead.

The old habits of distractions, shopping, cleaning, entertainment, drinking and eating had lost their pull in that moment. By being fully present and knowing how to ride the wave and find my middle ground helped me center myself.

So I honored the request to be alone and put my teenager to bed early. I woke up as a headache free and stress free adult once more. Ready to approach the day with a sense of curiosity.

Thank you to the makers of Sinutab, yoga and meditation, journaling, my husband and friends who support and nourish me, and to those of you who read this today!

May we all find our middle ground in the waves of life.

❤ Namaste ❤

 

* Inspiration – for Grandmothers

older woman looking in mirror

I just looked at myself in the mirror … and I thought “If I was a grandmother how good I would feel to my grandchild”.

My face has some characteristics of my Gran, and now as I head towards 60 my body has acquired some of the same softness in the body… and the eyes.

I recall how it felt to snuggle into her like a pillow … the warmth … the gentle rise and fall of her ample bosom….and the feeling of being absolutely safe and loved.

There was always a soothing smell that lingered here … perhaps from the lavender sachets in her underwear drawer or the Knights Castile soap or the Pan Drop mints she loved so much. You see, now she had dentures and didn’t have to worry about decay!

But she worried about her weight and was so hard on herself.

We all have the ability to give so much love to others … yet forget to give it to ourselves.

For the grandmothers out there who are post menopausal and are looking at the mirror,  struggling with your weight, getting frustrated and blaming yourself. Please, please let it all go. Its just a body image. It happens with age!

grandmother hug

You are so much more that the bunch of cells, minerals and bags of water you see in front of you, or the judgments and labels in your thinking!

Focus on being healthy and being there for those kids.

Give yourself a break and remember there are some little ones (and not so little ones) who love you just the way you are.

Your body, heart and soul will always be such a precious gift!

Hugs

Val x

p.s. Yes, this message isn’t just for grandmothers 😉

* Inspiration – Feeling Miserable

winding roads in ItalyOne day on vacation in Italy things didn’t go as planned.

It wasn’t the morning of the flat tire … or any of the other days of missed turnings. It wasn’t ordering the wrong item on the menu. It was the day I started to feel sick at all the bends in the road. Literally queazy and sick. Trying to navigate while on a roller coaster will do that!

I blamed the roads, the driver, and the need for map reading as the GPS was in some other part of the country with the same name! This blanket of negativity started to wrap itself around me. I felt miserable. I stepped into the self righteousness that comes with being put upon and I embraced it. In doing so I became a miserable person and a miserable passenger to be sure.

On reflection, I can see things so clearly. Here are my insights from this experience.

Life energy, essence or source is always within us and around us.

Yet sometimes we feel miserable and think that life sucks.

It is our thinking that makes it so.

When we feel  hurt, we go into our head and more thoughts take over.

Our hearts become guarded as we lose touch with our own essence and sense of Presence.

We cannot fully connect to ourselves .. or others.

There is interference in the force.

Our life energy is blocked.

We become defensive, judgmental, withdrawn and irritable.

There is no grace or gratitude in this place, because we know – by this pain and sacrifice –  that we are right!

Our heart closes more as our thinking ego casts blame and seeks retribution, and to find any way to end this endless  perceived agony of  discomfort!

We feel miserable and don’t stop to understand. We try to figure it out in our heads but get tangled up in a web of thoughts and further judgments.

And then in a quiet moment we are able to step back …. and  we know.

We know that this is of our own creation.

This is the time to come into the present moment. Step back.  And plug in to our deeper self and inner wisdom.

Let the life energy flow.

Feel what needs to be felt and hear what needs to be heard.

Be with it.

Letting go so we can open our hearts once more.

For me, I got out my yoga mat. Sat in meditation, focusing on my breathing and feeling my sitz bones grounding me. Spine tall. Heart open. Breathing slowly.

The thinking slows. The body relaxes. The witness takes over from “me”.

Then moving into child’s pose until my body feels the same grounding and sense of connection too.

Slowing moving with grace and gratitude in full realization of the highs and lows of this life.

Letting the life energy flow.

We lose touch with our Selves and don’t know it until we realize we feel miserable.  The real lesson for me is to be mindful enough to recognize this as it emerges.

Val x