The Heart Cricket

There was a cricket in my basement last night. I know, because I heard him singing.

There are spiders in my basement too.  In fact, there are studies that have shown that you are never more than ten feet away from a spider (some studies say three feet).  Luckily I am normally able to go through my day without thinking about that too much, primarily because unlike crickets (and not including the enchanting Charlotte of E.B. White’s famous children’s story) spiders are not a loquacious lot, and they definitely don’t sing.  In fact, unless you stumble across on (or one stumbles across you), you probably won’t even realize that there is a spider in the immediate area. Crickets, on the other hand, are a different story.

Crickets are loud.

Now mind you, crickets can’t compete with even ordinary everyday sounds such as car engines, stereos and the clattering of the trash truck as it makes its rounds through the neighborhood, but let me tell you.   When there is one in your basement in the middle of the night – singing when the rest of the house is silent and asleep – unlike spiders, you know that a cricket is in residence.

And yes, I am aware of the fact that they are not really singing but rubbing their wings together; specifically thick hardened ridges of their wings which cause the more delicate membranes of the wings to vibrate; amplifying the sound.  I also understand that they are not singing for my benefit, but that they are doing so to attract a mate, but that doesn’t detract from the simple beauty and clarity of the sound although it DID have me wondering what on earth a cricket was doing in my basement – in January since the season for crickets (at least here where I live) is long gone.

In fact, I found myself smiling as I listened; remembering one of my favorite childhood storybooks; A Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon; a story where a young boy in New York City finds a lonely cricket in the discarded papers of the Times Square subway station.  He adopts the cricket as the mascot of his family’s struggling newsstand and Chester the cricket (who is from incidentally from Connecticut) repays the family by playing a concert at their newsstand every evening; bringing in crowds of admirers and providing the family with the business that they need to survive.

In the story, Chester plays one last heart-breaking concert before he leaves to go back to his beloved meadow, and for just that moment the never ending hustle and bustle of New York’s Times Square pauses with baited breath as Chester plays his goodbye.

Just like a cricket’s song; the truth – our truth – plays constantly in our hearts. We may not pay it any attention.  In fact, with so much going on in our lives; so much drama and fear; so much angst and anger; with such a mindless chattering of our thoughts, we may rarely hear it.  In fact, the only times that we may hear it clearly is when we purposefully stop our mind’s continual chattering of thoughts; or when circumstances force us to pause long enough to listen; or when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are just uncluttered enough and unfocused enough that the song of our heart cricket comes through loud and clear.

And if you lay there long enough; listening; you’ll stop wondering about why it is that you are now able to hear your cricket.  You’ll stop wondering about what it means that there has been a cricket singing away inside your heart this whole time and that you’re just now hearing it.

You’ll stop – and let the sound fill up your head; let it’s sweetly poignant melody fill up your entire existence.

And the truth of it; the beauty of it; will set you free.

The Magic Word

THE ARTIST

I am the artist and the art.

My life is a canvass

And I stand before it, tools in hand

Creating a world within a world within a life

Wielding the brushes of belief and intention

Brushes dipped in the pigments of emotion and experience

Smoothing in highlights of happiness and love

And shadowed depths of fear and anger

Until the creation becomes the creator

Becomes a life complete.

~SSHenry

The Magic Word

Have you ever read a story or watched a movie where magic was being used; was a part of their world and felt a deep yearning stirred up inside you?  To be able to simply wave a wand or staff and say a few words and watch the world around you change; watch as your dreams become reality.  Seems like a pipe dream, doesn’t it?

Well, what if I told you that magic was real?  What if I told you that there is one word with which you can change your entire world?

You’d laugh, wouldn’t you?  Oh sure, there would be a tiny spark in your heart; a part of you (a part you probably associate with your eight-year-old self) that says “that would be SO cool,” but the practical you – the grown up you – would pretty much dismiss it out of hand.  After all, that’s just not the way it works in real life.

At least that is what we’ve been led to believe.

Because the truth is, there IS a magic word; one word that can transform your entire life.  This one word and its usage has been taught by the mystery schools and passed down through centuries of mystical traditions and shamanic lineages and which has been closely guarded because of its power and the ability it has to completely transform the world around you.

It is a word whose meaning has been closely guarded because it strikes fear into those who wield the power; it causes people to question the right of someone else to decide their lives for them.  Think it through.  There is a reason that most of the mystery schools and metaphysical traditions have been suppressed throughout history, for if people knew that they have the power to manifest the life that they truly want; those things that they desire most without having to conform to a certain set of rules or regulations or without adhering to specific belief system, there would be no need for the governmental or religious control systems, and those systems have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.  They’ve got a lot to lose.

No, I’m not going to drag this out and make you wait for days before I tell you.  And no, I’m not going to charge you money to find out this life-changing secret.  You already know the answer.  But just in case you’ve forgotten, I’ll tell you again.

The word is:  Intention.

Just as the artist brings his art into being through his intent to capture it in its selected form (paint, charcoal, photography, sculpture, carving, music, writing etc) so too can anyone on this planet bring into being the life that they have always wanted by focusing their intention on bringing it into being.

The scariest thing is that most people – not being aware of the power of intention – sign this power over to another; to a person or a society, a religion or a government; accepting the laid out specifications for an “acceptable” or “desirable” life as their own; allowing these others to decide what their life is going to be like; what they should want (or not want); their place in society; what they should be doing (or not doing).  But the good news is; you can reclaim your power.  You can still have the life you always wanted; you just have to learn how to breathe life into your intention.

Breathing Life Into Intention

Breathing life into your intention requires a clear picture of what it is you are aspiring to.  It requires focus.

When I say focus I don’t just mean having a general idea of what it is that you want (such as I want to be healthy).  You need to be able to imagine every detail of what a healthy life entails; what you would look like, how you would act, talk, react.  What you would do.  How you would maintain that healthy body.  You need to be able to close your eyes and slip yourself into a scene that explicitly portrays you in the best of health, where everything around you supports that.

There is just one trick involved.  You not only have to be able to be able to imagine this life in complete and total detail, you have to be able to live as if it already exists – as if you believe that it is real.  Then, and only then, will you see it start to manifest around you as the universe begins pulling things into alignment in your life in order to pave the way for its manifestation because it sees that your intention is not just half-hearted, you really mean it.  When you can believe that your intended life exists; when you can have faith that it is there even if you can’t yet see it, then you remove the doubt and negativity that prevent it from entering your life.

Of course you’re going to want to start small; keep it simple until you get the hang of it.  And keep in mind that it is going to take patience, because believe it or not, even those with the best imaginations seem to have difficulty realizing that they can have exactly what they intend (that’s another reason to start small). But once you have the hang of it you’ll find that your life begins to slowly transform as those the life that you intend for yourself slowly becomes your reality.

Through purposeful control and focus of your intention you not only become the artist of your own creation, you become the art; a three dimensional piece of artwork that is continually being refined and shaped according to your beliefs and intentions; a life complete; the authentic life that you have always known that you were supposed to be living.

Five Tips for Mastering Mindfulness

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake

Learning to listen to that still small voice inside your head; that prompting that tells you whether or not the decision you are about to make is the right choice for you is at the very core of living authentically, but learning to listen takes time and patience and, most of all, it requires that you are not only aware that it is speaking to you, but mindfulness of what it is that is being said. But what exactly is mindfulness?

Defining Mindfulness

“Mindfulness” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, “means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, In the present moment and non judgmentally.”

While these are simple enough words, putting them into practice in one’s everyday life can be another story altogether. Think about it – how often to you pay attention to something that is happening around you – right here and now – purposefully –and without judging it?

In order to understand mindfulness, let’s take the simple concept of eating. Everyone eats. But how many of us eat mindfully? That is to say, how many people pay complete and total attention to the food that they are putting into their mouths as they are putting it in? Are you noticing the flavor and texture of each mouthful? Or are you scarfing down your sandwich while you sit at the computer scrolling through your emails and simultaneously making a grocery list of things you need to pick up on your way home from work? Better yet, if you DO pay attention to the food that you are eating, chances are that you are judging it (this is wonderful/horrible/disgusting/too salty/too sweet/delicious etc.). It is not until you can purposefully sit down to a meal and focus entirely on your eating; every aspect of your eating (the look, the scent, the flavor, the chewing etc.) and not make any judgments on it (too hot, too cold, too sweet or sour) that you can say that you have experienced mindful eating. So too it is with every other aspect of our life.

It is as if we are continually going through life with those red correcting pens that teacher’s use and giving every experience a grade: A+ for great sex, D- for vindictive co-worker B- for interesting (if long) sermon etc. We can’t seem to keep our own opinions out of the mix and simply enjoy the things around us; the experiences, the people even, for whom and what they really are. Not only that, it is as if we feel that we can’t really be living unless we pack as much “doing” into any one time frame as is humanly possible.

Perhaps this is some sort of residual fallout from the corporate obsession with the increasing of productivity through time management, or maybe it has something to do with the old Puritanistic adage that ‘idle hands are the devil’s playground.’ But in western societies it is rare to find those who appreciate the wisdom in holding our minds still enough – long enough – to observe those things that are happening around us and to us for exactly who and what they are without attaching expectations to them, but mindfulness (as well as its sister meditation and it’s cousin awareness) are looked down on and even ridiculed throughout much of western civilization as being practices that are unproductive and without any real purpose.

The Purpose of Mindfulness

But there IS a purpose to mindfulness, and that is to bring your mind to a level where it can actually hear the voice of intuition; the guidance of that higher self/higher power that will help you to make the decisions that will bring your life into alignment with your soul purpose.

Think of mindfulness as a sort of practical meditation. Instead of sitting still in one place and attempting to quiet our minds we focus our attention on experiencing what is happening to us – and around us – in this exact moment in time; seeing it all, feeling it all, experiencing it all without attaching any sort of expectations, and in spite of what you might think, practicing mindfulness really isn’t as difficult to master as you might think.

Five Tips for Mastering Mindfulness

Like any other skill that you acquire, mastering mindfulness takes time and patience. But most of all, it takes patience with yourself; with realizing that you are not going to shed the conditioning of a lifetime in just a few days or weeks. But there are some tips that might help you to learn to focus.

  1. The One Minute Rule. When you are just starting to learn to be mindful, there is a great technique that can help you learn to focus, and that is called The One Minute Rule. If you have a cell phone alarm, set your alarm to go off hourly. If you work at your computer, have an alert message set to draw your attention on an hourly basis. When the alarm rings turn it off and spend one minute (sixty entire seconds) focusing on what you are doing right here and now. If you are sitting at your desk, bring your attention to your body. Can you feel the chair you are sitting in? Can you feel the cloth against your legs? Are you aware of your body posture? Try closing your eyes and doing a slow scan of your body from top to bottom taking note of how your body feels, then focus on the scents you are smelling, the sounds you are hearing, the piece of paper you are holding in your hand. Note all of it. Don’t judge it; don’t get caught up in it. Just take note of all of the sensory input that is coming in right here and now. Doing this one minute out of every hour will help steer you towards being able to practice every day mindfulness.
  2. The Rubber Band Reminder. Another great technique in learning mindfulness is to wear a rubber band on the wrist of your dominate. This can either be a plain old rubber band or a hair band, as long as it is elastic. Make sure that it’s not too tight (you don’t want to cut off circulation. Now, every time you see the rubber band, give it a snap; and every time you snap the rubber band let the snap bring you to the here and now. Take a deep breath and note what is happening right here and now. How you are feeling, what you are hearing etc. You can use this technique in addition to the One Minute Rule, because the goal is eventually to be entirely aware of where you are and what is going on around you at every moment in time.
  3. Food Focus. One of the best times of the day to practice mindfulness is (big surprise) when you are eating. It is a fact that most people in western society do not take the time to eat their food mindfully, so why not devote one meal a day to mindful eating? No matter which meal you choose, sit down at a table or desk or bench where you will not be interrupted either by a phone, people, incoming emails or anything else. Do not use this time to read or write or chat. Instead, focus entirely on the food that you are eating. See the food. Feel the food. Taste the food. Chew it thoroughly. Learn what it means to savor your meal.
  4. Full Body Focus. Once a day find a quiet place where you can stretch out full length on the floor. Not your bed – the floor. Settle yourself onto your back, close your eyes, then start at your feet and work your way up, consciously relaxing each muscle group as you come to it. First relax your toes, then your ankles, your calves, your thighs, pelvis, stomach, solar plexus, hands, arms shoulders, neck and head, working your way all the way up. Once you are completely relaxed, let yourself ‘melt’ into the floor and feel the carpeting or flooring beneath you. Feel the slight breeze in your hair as the cat walks by; hear the creak in the floorboards, the gurgle of the water in the pipes. Doing this once a day can really put you in touch with your body and teach you things about yourself then you could possibly imagine.
  5. Object Focus. If possible, once a day focus on a single object for a full five minutes. This works best if you use an object from nature as there tends to be more depth than the manmade (though there are, of course, exceptions). So pick your object. Let’s use William Blake’s wildflower. Make yourself comfortable, and then narrow your entire focus to the flower in front of you. See it, feel it, let your gaze fall into it. Note how the petals fold back, how the edges turn under, how the pollen has formed on the stamen, how the leaves curl around the blossom. Note everything about it. Try not to judge it. Try not to form an opinion about it. Simply experience it exactly as it is. Let it be.

While there are other techniques, these five can get you started on your way to mastering mindfulness. And remember, by practicing everyday mindfulness we can slow our minds down long enough to not only be able to appreciate the world around us, but to actually be able to hear our intuition; that still small voice whose guidance will bring our lives into alignment with our soul purpose and will set our feet on the road to true authentic living.

Authentic Living 104: Taking Responsibility

 

Look around you.  That’s right, I’m talking to you. Stop what you’re doing right now.  Put down your pen; your iPhone; your preconceived notions of what your life is supposed to look like and take a look at what it actually consists of.

Is this what you were expecting? Be honest now, it’s just me you’re talking to, so you don’t have to pretend.

Did you really want to be working in this dead end job?  Yes, I know, it’s a job, but we both know that this isn’t where you thought you’d be five years ago. No, that’s not something you should be telling your supervisor when it’s time for your semi-annual review, but this is me you’re talking to, and if you can’t be honest with me, then who can you be honest with?

How about the relationship with your significant other?  Ah, I saw that flinch.  I hit a nerve, didn’t I?  Yes I know, they’re a good person and you’re lucky to have them.  Well, that’s what you tell yourself every day, isn’t it?  There an awesome conversationalist; they’re a great parent; they really have a way with animals.  It’s what keeps you going, isn’t it?  And that other stuff; the fact that there are things you can’t talk to them about because they just wouldn’t understand; that they brush off things that are really important to you; that doesn’t matter, does it, because they have other qualities….It’s okay, you can keep telling yourself that.  But do me a favor, would you?  And just stop.  Look at the person you’re with.  Look at them, exactly as they are, not as you would like them to be, not as you hope they will be one day, but as they are, right now.  Is this what you were expecting?  Better yet; is this what you want?

But wait, I’m How about your kids?  What about the place where you are living; your friends; your beliefs about politics your view of God?  How about yourself?  Are you happy with the way that you jump to conclusions so quickly?  Do you really enjoy losing your temper so easily?  Ha – you didn’t like that, did you?  It was fine when I was talking about the external aspects of your life and the things that you deserve or want, but analyzing you yourself isn’t as much fun, is it?  No, don’t turn away from me just because you’re uncomfortable with my questions, I’m not finished yet!

I could go on like this all day you know; making you analyze each and every aspect of your life.  But I’m not going to because that’s not what I’m here for.  But before you get too comfortable and think that you’re just going to go back to the way things were, I have one more question for you:

If you had the power to create the perfect life for yourself how would you go about doing it?

Let’s say that you could be teleported back to the point in your life where it all went wrong; where you started making decisions that turned out to negatively impact your life, what could you do to make sure that your life turned out differently? That’s right; you would have to have made different decisions.  Mind you, you now have the power of hind sight.  You know which decisions negatively impacted your life and which one was the right one to make, and hind sight is not something you possessed when that decision was initially made.  But what if I were to tell you that there was a way that you could have determined – right then and there – as to whether or not you were making the right decision?

Yes, I can see that you are skeptical about it, but would I lie to you?  I can’t lie to you.  In fact, I’m probably one of the only people on earth who can’t lie to you (probably because I am you) but the fact remains, there is a way that you could have known.  In fact, you did know.  The thing is you were not aware of what you knew.  It’s called intuition.

No, intuition is not some sort of New Age mumbo jumbo; it’s that still small voice that prompts you to not trust the person who has offered you the job; the unease in your stomach when you contemplate going out on another date with that person; that hunch that says you really shouldn’t take this road today.  It’s those uneasy moments that we want to listen to but that we always override with cool logic and reason:  It’s a perfectly good job.  You had a good time on your first date; there is no reason to turn them down now.  This is the shortest way to work, don’t be silly!

And then the job turns out to be a soul-sucking miserable job that you can’t quit because it will look bad on your resume.  You end up involved with a neurotic, egotistical idiot that you can’t shake because you don’t want to be responsible for deepening their neuroses, and the shortest road turned out to be the scene of a six car pileup and now you don’t have a working vehicle, and you find yourself really wishing that you had listened to your first instinct after all.

But of course there is no way that you could have known that this was going to happen, so it’s not your fault.  And if it’s not your fault then it’s the fault of whoever you’re working for; involved with; or the guy who hit you, isn’t it?  It has to be, because to realize that it has really your decisions that have been responsible for the direction that you life has taken; for where you are in life right now; means that you have to stop blaming other people for those aspects of your life that are not what you wish they were.

You want to know something else?  (Too bad, I’m going to tell you anyways).  What I need to tell you is that it isn’t just the decisions that you made in the past that you need to regret.  It’s the decisions that you are making every single day; the decisions that you are making right now that are ensuring that your life is not going to get any better.

Yeah, think about that one for a minute.  Sort of scary, isn’t it?  I mean, you may have made one decision to ignore intuition and it led to others that led to others until you found yourself in so deep that it seems impossible to extract yourself.  But it’s not as hopeless as it may seem.  Not really.  There actually is a way out.

I don’t care how messed up your life is right now.  I don’t care how big a mess you’ve made of things.  I don’t care how bad things are, you can change them.  You have the power to change them.  You always have had the power, you just weren’t aware of how to use it.  Do you want to know what it is?  Heh, you already know, but I’ll tell you anyway:  Intuition.

That’s right.  It’s never too late to start using the gift that you’ve had all along; to start listening to the voice that was trying to tell you which path to take.  Mind you, it’s going to be harder now, especially since you’ve tangled up so many other people in your life; have taken on so many responsibilities and obligations, but you can still turn your life around.

No, you won’t be able to create the life you once thought you wanted; the life you saw for yourself when your first started down this path however many years ago.  The decisions you have made between then and now mean that you are no longer the same person that you were, and the life you had imagined for yourself then is most likely not the life you would want now; experience has enriched you; given you a new perspective; helped you to see the bigger picture.

But by learning to once again listen to that still small voice inside your head; that prompting that tells you that this really isn’t the right choice for you, you can stop living a lie and start living from your heart and soul; that place that knows deep down what the right decision is for this moment in time; if you’ll just have the patience to listen to it; and the courage to act on what it tells you to do.

In Pursuit of the Unobtainable

I am haunted by moths.

All summer and autumn long they find me.  Every time I enter my bedroom after sunset I am greeted by moths fluttering against the outside of my bedroom window; clinging to the screen; drawn by the promise of the warmth and light inside.  They fling themselves against my window pane casting lopsided shadows on my walls; their wings a perpetual thrumming against the glass.

Once my light gets turned off, most of them are leave; drawn off by the promise of other luminaries; real or imagined, but some remain.  Some continue to cling to the screen even with the absence of the light within.  They caught a glimpse of it; they know it’s there.  They’ll wait thank you very much, even if it means ignoring the greatest luminary of all that floats over their heads, turning a world of dark and shadow into a silvery fairyland.

Needless to say, with such a great gathering of moths at my bedroom window, the outside panes have become a favorite haunt of spiders and other nighttime predators for whom an energetic, single-minded moth would be a welcomed meal, and every so often morning will break to show a hapless specimen caught fast in a spider’s web; fluttering feebly as its lifeblood is drained to provide a meal for another creature.

Here where I live, January is one of the coldest times of the year.  The moths are long gone; the spiders have crept off in search of more hospitable climates (probably my basement, but I’d rather not think about that at the moment).  But last night I flipped on the bedroom light and was startled by a moth’s fluttering shadow against my wall.  On closer inspection I found that it was just the husk of a moth; what was left of its body and wings; caught in the tattered remnants of a long deserted spider’s web; the fluttering caused by the whipping of an unrelenting northern wind; wings still beating against the hard reality that kept the moth from its goal.  And without warning I found myself in tears.

This poor moth wanted nothing more than to reach the light.  For days; weeks maybe, it had gone from light to light; from window to window; searching for the answer to its driving question:  “Where is the light that was meant for me? Where is the light that will welcome me home?”  And yet, time after time, it was met with the solid reality of an impermeable barrier between itself and the light it had found itself drawn to; the artificial brightness that had blinded it to everything else; that promised the world, but would not – could not – follow through. Like thousands of others of its kind it had expended itself in a desperate attempt to reach its goal; even if that goal was unrealistic at best; an illusion of welcoming warmth; a mirage of belonging.

And all the time it had ignored that greatest of luminaries; the source of its instinct; a light source that gave freely and equally to all that turned their faces up to her; dispelling shadows and turning even the drabbest landscape into a silvery realm of enchantment.  Ignored her free gifts and giving up who they really were; their inheritance as children of the night; to pursue the starkly fake brightness of those artificial lights.

And I cry for the life she could have led; flying free in the open air, with the cool silvery light of the moon on her wingtips; the life she gave up in order to pursue a dream with no substance; a dream whose unobtainable promises blinded her to the beauty and meaning that was right before her eyes.

And so I opened up my window and swept the cobweb from the outside of my pane; letting the wind whip the remains of both web and moth out into the night; into the moonlit night of hope where what is, what was, and what will be have not yet been set in stone, and the dreams of another summer’s night with all its attendant possiblities, is  still waiting to be born.

Authentic Living 103: the Secret of Syncronicity

Are You Looking for Answers?

For those who are feeling the urge to begin living an authentic life, chances are that you are feeling a bit frustrated.  After all, you know that you want something more.  You know that you are ready for the next step in your journey; for your soul’s next big adventure.  There’s just one problem; you haven’t got a clue as to what comes next.

You’ve prayed.  You’ve meditated.  You’ve read book after book about spiritual awakenings; kept journals; taken up yoga, maybe even joined a book or discussion group, all to no avail.  Don’t get me wrong, you’ve learned a lot, but nothing has really changed.  In fact, everything around you just keeps on keeping on.  Day after day; PTA meeting after board meeting after little league soccer game until you’re ready to throw your hands up in frustration and scream up at the sky:  “I’m ready!  What are you waiting for?”

You can rant and rave about not knowing what you are supposed to be doing with your life; about god, the universe, our higher selves or the great flying spaghetti monster not dropping the answers, the clues or the GPS coordinates to where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do next into our laps, but the thing is, we already have the answers that we’ve been looking for.  In fact, we’ve probably had them for quite some time and haven’t even realized it.

You see, Spirit speaks to us all the time; every day.  Mind you it doesn’t usually come with a big red stamp on the front saying “message from the universe” or “marching instructions from god.”  No, it’s far more subtle than that.  How spirit speaks to us is through the use of synchronicities.

What is Synchronicity?

For those who haven’t heard the term before, a synchronicity is technically the coincidence of events that seem related but which cannot be plausibly explained as being caused by each other.  For example, let’s say that you start off the day in meditation by asking the universe for a sign as to whether or not you should quit your job in order to run away with the circus.  (I know, I know, this isn’t necessarily a reasonable example, but bear with me, it will serve the purpose!).

So you get dressed and go to pour yourself a bowl of cereal only to be caught by the picture of the circus elephant on the back of the box.  “Ha!” you think to yourself as you gather your things together and get into the car, “that was a cool coincidence!”  Except as you are driving to work you notice that there is a billboard by the side of the road advertising that the circus will be in town this very next weekend.  You get to work and your boss rakes you across the coals and asks you who you think you’re working for – the circus?  To add to the coincidence you get home to put your feet up and the first movie that you pull off the shelf is your old copy of Dumbo (you’d forgotten you even still owned that!).  Then you get ready for bed only to find yourself unable to sleep, so you flip on the TV and what should be playing but Charlie Chan at the Circus.  Then you finally fall asleep discouraged because you still don’t have an answer to that morning’s question.

Guess what?  You have your answer.  The universe all but handed it to you on a silver platter and you patently ignored it.

The key of course is to learn how to recognize synchronistic events for what they are; not random coincidences; not interesting chance encounters, but messages direct from your higher self to you; clear guidance on what you feel like you should be doing next, and the first order of business is to become aware of them at all.

Learning to Listen

You see, unfortunately, most of us go through life barely aware of what we are planning to do next, let alone pausing to recognize the synchronistic connection between our thinking of our best friend from college who we haven’t spoken to in 15 years and suddenly finding that they have sent you a friend request on Facebook; or being concerned over being able to make ends meet this month only to have your neighbor call you up and offer to share a table with you at the upcoming community yard sale, followed by a reminder from your mother-in-law to file the insurance claim for the roof damaged caused by last month’s wind storm; both ways that extra money could be brought into your life.

I see you wrinkling your nose up at me.  You don’t believe me, do you?  Well, try it for yourself.  Seriously!  Pick up a small spiral bound notebook at your local pharmacy and stick it in your pocket or purse along with a pen.  Now, every time that something synchronistic happens to you; every time you find the same word cropping up during the day; the same phrase pops out at you; the same references being made.  Write them down.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything with them yet, just write them down.  Take out your notebook.  Write down the time and the date and the coincidence, and then move on.  Now, at the end of the day, take a look through your notebook and see if anything stands out.

I’m betting you’ll find that more often than not seeming coincidences prove to have been gentle warnings, reminders, or guidance that you simply ignored; brushed aside as just a matter of chance.  Or, as in the case of the circus example, direct answers to the questions you asked the GPS coordinates straight from the source to you.  You just have to know how to operate the machine and interpret the results that it is giving you.

Authentic Living 102: Clearing Your Space

You feel the urge to start over; to be someone new; to start living your authentic life.

Perhaps you have just started a new job, moved to a new house, ended or begun a new relationship, had a child (or conversely finally gotten your kids out of the house) or have had a spiritual epiphany. Or maybe, just maybe you feel that, for some reason, the time is right for a new beginning.

The reasons are not important. What is important is your urge – your NEED – to begin again.

This urge – this NEED – shows that you have reached a new level in your personal development and are ready to acknowledge the fact that you have begun a new chapter in your life’s story and, interestingly enough, all new chapters always begin on a fresh page.

Where I personally have messed up multiple times, is in not taking this urge seriously. By brushing it aside; treating it as something amusing but not a priority, by not following through I have found myself falling back into the old habits and patterns that inevitably take me back to the beginning again, and once more I find myself having to relive the lessons that I thought I had finally mastered.

Each person will go about the “starting over” process differently, depending on their personal preferences and priorities. I am going to share with you what has worked for me. This list is in no way all-inclusive, so feel free to add or subtract as you see fit. Instead see it as a sort of outline, flesh it out with what feels right for you.

How to Clear Your Physical and Emotional Space

I’ll grant you that really getting into your house/apartment or room clearing DOES offer you an opportunity to vent your frustrations with whatever it is that is bothering you, but it is also a lesson in psychological clearing. For when you physically clean your space you are emphasizing a simultaneous psychological clearing as well.  So as you work, take time to mentally evaluate those things that are directly tied to the space/items that you are clearing out of your life.

Step #1:  Clear the Clutter

It is amazing how much STUFF we tend to accumulate – both physically and emotionally. Where on earth does it come from? Better yet – WHY DO WE KEEP IT? Books and magazines and ticket stubs to movies we didn’t actually enjoy. Outmoded ideas and beliefs; collections of various knickknacks, photographs of people whose names we’ve forgotten, broken pieces of furniture that we’ll get around to fixing one day, the list goes on and on and on. Each and every item not only takes up physical space but emotional space as well.

Get rid of it – all of it (yes the emotional and psychological clutter as well!).

Any physical object that you do not use at least once a year (the exception being specialized sports equipment) a GET RID OF IT! If you HAVE to collect something, pick your top five favorites (for me its books, sheet music, elephants (don’t ask), international gods/religious statues, paperweights and baskets).

I set myself a limit in each category depending on the amount of space I have for it. If I want a new item, I have to get rid of one of the old ones. Allow yourself one box for “Personal” items (ticket stubs, birthday cards etc.) and, when the box is full, purge the old stuff. It’s amazing how many memories (many of them negative) that we attach to these odds and ends. Clearing them out of our lives can help emphasize the new beginning that you are wanting to embrace.

Step #2:  Clean Top to Bottom

From your ceiling fixtures to your baseboards – CLEAN EVERYTHING. Clear the cobwebs out of the corners, scrub the stains off the carpet, run all of your curtains and bedclothes through the laundry. Check the air vents for dirt build-up, change your air filters, and wash your windows. You will be surprised (or maybe not) at how your mood will lift when everything is CLEAN, and free of the odors and stains that you may not even realize you were associating with past mistakes and failures.

Step #3: Mental Re-evaluation 

Go through your paperwork, your magazines, your computer files, and purge and pare down. Condense those things you want to keep, delete or shred those things that are no longer needed.

This is the perfect time to start a journal (or to get a new journal if you already keep one). Select it carefully; the color and type you pick out can speak volumes about your personal self-image.

Pick out several new books that you want to read, or subscribe to a magazine that reflects your philosophy on life.

Go through your “favorites” list on your computer. Do you even know what some of those sites are anymore? Why are they taking up space? Do you belong to extemporaneous internet sites? Are there games taking up space on your hard-drive that you haven’t played in years? Delete them, discontinue your subscriptions.

Chances are that as you come across various objects in this particular category you will be inundated with memories and emotions associated with them, don’t be afraid to let go of these as well!  Especially those that are not serving you (that is, those that do not reflect the highest expression of who and what you really are).


Step #4:  Re-evaluate Your Wardrobe

It is not just your physical wardrobe of course, but how you present yourself to others. Is the persona you are presenting to the public authentic? Or is it simply what you are “expected” to be?

As to the evaluating the wardrobe you keep in your closet…this may sound particularly ridiculous, especially to a guy, but try it! Go through all your clothes, put aside everything you haven’t worn in a year (the exception being heavy winter clothing or specialty items, such as ski-suits, swim-suits or evening gowns/tuxedos).  Put those items you no longer use (or that are too small or out of style) immediately into a plastic bag or box and get it out of the house. Give them to charity, or put them up for adoption at a consignment shop if you can’t stomach throwing them out but if you haven’t worn it in a year, DON’T KEEP IT.

Once you’ve pared out the things you haven’t worn – go through everything again and this time delete everything that you don’t want. This is harder. This takes an evaluation of who you are, what you want, and you may be surprised to find that you have been wearing things that don’t fit the image of the person you want to be, things you’ve worn because you felt obligated Were they a gift? Something someone expects you to wear?  Don’t let someone else’s expectations dictate the persona you present to the world.

Finally, check your underwear. Yes, I said underwear. Does your underwear fit? Does it cover what you want to cover or show what you want to show? Why not? It’s amazing how much better you feel in your clothes if you are wearing the right kind of underthings. Again, this can be seen as a psychological process as well – WHAT IS SUPPORTING YOUR BELIEFS? What lies at the core of your understanding? Will it hold up those things that should be supported?

Step #5:  Physical Reboot

No psychological clearing is complete unless one has undergone a physical purging as well. Some people are blessed with enough income to go to a spa or health retreat and spend their hard-earned $$ on mud-wraps and massages and steam baths, but a two-day juice-fast, long-hot soaks in the bathtub and over-the-counter face masks as well as long sessions at the gym can make you feel amazing inside as well as out, as can committing to a long-term (realistic) exercise and/or diet plan.

I know that it may seem like a lot of work, but by paying attention to all aspects of yourself, by re-evaluating everything from your grocery purchases to your wardrobe, you can uncover a host of psychological blocks that you never even knew existed and which, had they gone un-detected and un-addressed, may have caused you to fall back into your old habit patterns.

 

Step #6:  Ditch the Guilt

Finally – ditch the guilt over getting rid of the things (both physical and emotional) that are no longer of use to you. The whole point is to re-create your world to reflect WHO YOU ARE NOW. Not who you were.  Without this last step you have will keep your clutter at bay for a while, but eventually it will creep back in.  So don’t skimp on this last step.  But when you have taken it, take a deep breath and look around you and revel in the openness and authenticity that you have incorporated into your life.