Excuse Me, My Life is Waiting

walk“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

 

Does purposefully surrounding yourself with people who will lift you higher; people who encourage you and strengthen you sound like a selfish thing to do?  Can you imagine the alternative?

No, most of us don’t have to imagine the alternative, because most of us live it.  I know I do.  Or, rather, up until now, I have.

When I was little it was family members who would discourage me from my dreams, telling me that I really didn’t have the talent or skill for this or that endeavor, or that what I was attempting was not something that a “good Christian girl” would do.  If I pursued my activities I would then have to put up with the disappointment of those same family members and see the hurt and pain in their eyes that I wasn’t living up to their expectations.  And so I would sigh and tuck away my dreams.

When I was older it was my teachers, friends or boyfriends that would discourage me from attempting what they saw as ill-conceived or inadvisable options.  And what did I do?  I would go ahead with them anyway, until of course someone looked at me again with that pain in their eyes, and then I would crumble. OK, ok.  I’ll fold.  Just stop looking at me like that.  I want you to LIKE me, to LOVE me, not to be disappointed by me. And then I got married and the whole process started over again. 

So why am I speaking in the past tense?  Because I have decided that I am finished with the negativity.  I have to be.

You see, the negativity of those who discourage, demean or belittle me and my desire to become the truest version of myself are not serving me.  And there – right there – is where I usually get a twinge of guilt.  The very term “not serving me” just reeks of self-centeredness, doesn’t it?

But there comes a point in your life where you realize that as much as you care about the people in your life; and as much as you want them to be happy, there is something that is more important, and that is that you be true to your real self no matter how others feel about it.

This isn’t selfishness; at least it isn’t selfishness in the traditional definition of the word.  No, this is taking care of what you need in order to learn and grow and become, and let’s face it, without growth things tend to stagnate and grow stale. That includes everything from your personal life to your relationships with others, so no matter what, there really is no point in spending your energy trying to maintain the status quo.

Of course those negative individuals in your life who encourage you NOT to change would be glad of change IF (and only if) you were to change in the direction that they wish to see you go.  What scares them is that you are changing in ways that make them uncomfortable, which is why they fight against it so hard. But a moment of reflection should show you that change to make someone else happy is actually counterproductive.  Yes, the other person may rest easier knowing that you will not break out in ways that they cannot or will not allow themselves to understand.  But you will be just as unhappy having changed into something that you are NOT as you were unhappy to remain in a stagnant or stale situation.

Actually, you will be unhappier having changed in a direction that is at odds with your soul purpose; even unhappier than you would be simply staying put and resisting the urge to become who and what you really are.

No.  The truth of the matter is that you HAVE to follow your instincts and intuition if you are going to truly live your life and not simply treat it as some sort of spectator sport.

At the risk of sounding cliché, you have to follow your heart.  If it leads you in a direction that others find uncomfortable enough, they will move on or move out of your life to a place where they feel more comfortable and where the people and things live up to their expectations.

So when I talk about surrounding yourself with those who will lift you up (and not pull you down) I’m not talking about walking away from people or situations that do not serve you.  Instead, what I am saying is that you need to stop giving those people and situations that you find energy draining or negative to the point of depression, your attention.

Just stop.  They are not worth the effort of either fighting their negativity or the effort of changing yourself in order to please them.  They do not serve you.

So focus on what does serve you; on those things that bring you joy and that fill your life with the wonder and mystery that feeds your soul.  Focus on those things that encourage you to grow and become who and what you truly are, and watch your life as it changes for the better.

Something More; Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Do you sometimes feel that you are living someone else’s life?  A life that is not genuine or authentic?  Do you yearn for something more than what you have?   Do you find yourself longing for a life that is full of purpose, of meaning; a life where you feel as if your physical existence and soul purpose are in alignment; where you are living the sort of life that you were meant to live?

Many people do.  And many people try to fill that gap in their life; that need for meaning and purpose with whatever it is that has made them feel good in the past.  This could be anything from food, alcohol, excessive exercise and nicotine to sex, marijuana, extreme sports or hard drugs.  It doesn’t matter for it’s all the same. That is to say that there is nothing wrong with most of these things in the right place or time, but when you begin to use them as a means of filling that gap; that is when those things become a problem. The thing is that there is a better way.

You can create that purpose and meaning in your life by living a spiritual life.

No, living a spiritual life does not mean that you have to go get yourself a religion.  It does not even mean that you have to pick a particular tradition and stick with it.  No.  What living a spiritual life means is that you are taking those things that you instinctively know in the deepest part of your soul to be right and true; and are incorporating them into your everyday reality.

You are finally living from your heart.

It is not an easy thing to live from your heart.  In fact, sometimes it can take all of your strength and test your resolve to the point that you wonder if it is really worth it or if it wouldn’t by far be easier to go back to living the way that you were; the life that you had.

But if you are truly committed to living a more fulfilling and authentic life; to bringing your reality into alignment with your soul purpose, then below you will find seven steps that should help you in putting together more spiritual life; one where you are living your beliefs so that you can become the person you were truly meant to be.

Seven Steps to Creating a Spiritual Life

Step #1:  Practice Everyday Mindfulness.  In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness “means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally.”  This can be an extremely difficult (though not impossible) thing to do.  And there are a number of ways to bring your attention to the here and now; to what is happening at this particular point in time.    (For more information on mastering everyday mindfulness, click HERE).

Step #2:  Practice Emotional Mindfulness.  Emotional mindfulness is different than everyday mindfulness.  In practicing everyday mindfulness you are paying attention to what is happening around you without; allowing it to be exactly what it is without judgment and without trying to change it.  Emotional mindfulness is a tad more difficult.  Emotional mindfulness is learning to pay attention to your thoughts.  Emotional mindfulness is learning to screen your thoughts and beliefs for any self-sabotaging patterns and replacing them with those that will bring your thoughts into alignment with who and what you really are.  (For more information on mastering emotional mindfulness, click HERE).

Step #3:  Take Time to Pray.  It has been said that prayer is the art of communication; of speaking to creation. Whether you believe that you are speaking to God, the Universe or your higher self, know that it is the presence with whom you converse that brings to you all of the circumstances and experiences that make you your life. If you want to bring certain things into your life, then it is important to be very clear on what it is that you want so that this presence knows exactly what to bring to you. Unclear or unspecific requests will bring unclear results.  If you are grateful for those things that you already have, don’t be afraid to say it!  In fact, expressing gratitude actually opens you up for more blessings as you make yourself into a magnet for everything that you want by BEING what it is that you are looking for.

Step #4:  Take Time for Meditation.  Whereas prayer is the art of communication with the divine, meditation is the art of listening.  Think about it, it does absolutely no good to ask a question if you aren’t willing to listen for an answer.  All the prayer in the world isn’t going to help if you aren’t open and ready for the answers that you are given. Meditation does not necessarily mean that you have to sit in a full-lotus position for hours every day.  Meditation takes many forms, but the most important thing to remember is that the true nature of meditation is the art of learning how to LISTEN; to your thoughts, your mind, your soul, your body.  You can meditate sitting down, standing up, lying in bed or even walking down the street.  (For more information on how to meditate, click HERE).

Step #5:  Learn to Trust and Act on Your Intuition.  It is not enough to tell the Universe or higher self what it is that you want and then to listen to your heart and what it is telling you should do to achieve it.  You must also learn to act on the promptings of that inner voice; to trust what it is telling you enough to take the steps it suggests when it suggests taking them.  You may receive confirmation by the arrival of synchronistic events in your life.  Don’t ignore them!  (For more on the importance of synchronicity, click HERE).

Step #6:  Body Awareness.  Being in touch with your spiritual nature does you little good if you cannot live out your intentions.  For this reason it is important to pay attention not only to your diet and exercise, but to your body itself; its needs and wants and desires.  The body is what we have to work with in this physical reality and too many of us take it for granted.  Learn how to communicate with your body.  Learn how to listen to what it is trying to tell you.  Learn how to eat and exercise with awareness and intent.

Step #7:  Live Intentionally and Joyfully.  Living with intent and living joyfully are probably two of the most challenging – and rewarding things that you can do.  Unfortunately we live in a society where most of us live and exist on autopilot, rarely thinking about how what we are doing and how we are doing it is impacting our lives.  Most people are completely unaware of how the power of intent and the transforming energy of joy can change even the most mundane of tasks into a powerful affirmation of who and what we really are.  By using the art of mindfulness to focus on each task that we undertake and to bring our whole selves into the moment sanctifies what we are doing and makes it special; sacred even.  By taking joy in everything that we undertake we put all of life into a sharper focus.  And even the most mundane of activities suddenly takes on new purpose and meaning and becomes a part of a life lived from the heart.

The trick, you see, to creating a truly spiritual life is not to do – but to be.  By choosing to engage all of our senses; our mind, our body even in every task that we undertake from eating breakfast to our evening’s meditation and doing the dishes, by focusing our intent on every aspect of our lives; on bringing our everyday life into alignment with our soul purpose, by living joyfully and by putting all of this together we choose to live in accordance to our highest vision of who and what we really are and we can finally step forward knowing that our lives will finally reflect our true nature and purpose in life.

 

©Stephanie S. Henry 2012

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.