Tag Archives: Life

6 Spiritual Lessons from Our Children

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Throughout the years I have dedicated a significant amount of time on my personal spiritual growth.  I have spent countless hours poring over development books, researched various religions and spoke with many spiritual leaders.  I have attended trainings and workshops on a wide range of topics and approaches in cultivating inner peace.  Throughout this process I have learned a lot, especially regarding those practices that tend to be common themes and “secrets” for achieving sustainable joy in life.  It is a constant growth process since all of these things require continued practice and while I have understood much of it logically, some areas have been difficult for me to feel.

As I have expanded my concept of “spiritual teachers” to include everyone in my life, knowing that each and every person has something to offer, I have found the clearest teachers to be children.  There is so much I have learned from seeing how we come into this world, what our natural state truly is and how we get pulled off track as we grow and develop. We so often look at our relationship with our children as one where we have to bare the burden of teaching them everything however if we shift our perception to a spiritual partnership, one where we teach each other, then the spiritual growth they can help facilitate for us is limitless. We can teach them how to interact per this world’s “rules” but they can teach us about our true nature and how to live it. They have truly helped me see how to apply some of the themes that were harder for me to grasp and serve as a constant reminder on practicing.

Fearlessness – Anyone that has seen a baby clumsily wobble around can see that fear is not something we are born with. It is something we learn. Children lead with their heart, diving into whatever action their heart guides them to without fear of pain, judgment or failure. All of these concepts are foreign to them and we can learn much from the “just go for it” attitude that children of many ages have. Letting our heart lead, and taking action without fear allows us to boldly live and revel in the rewards of new experiences.

Joy – Joy on the other hand isn’t something we learn, it is our natural state. A child’s general disposition is pure happiness. Eager to play, laugh and truly have fun, children embrace happiness and never question if they deserve it or wonder if it will last. As I have grown there are many times I have lost sight of the beauty in doing something just for the pure joy of it. Like many people I know, the to do lists can take over and keep me from fully living in the moment, especially when it is something as “frivolous” as having fun. What I have learned from children is that fun is never frivolous; it is something our soul needs.

Love freely – The heartache we feel in life can sometimes cause us to be guarded. Keeping love out completely or limited to those that seem “safe”, we lose the incredible gift that comes with a wide-open heart. Children don’t hold back love. If they want to give a hug, they give a hug. If a little baby wants to stare in your eyes and give you a smile for no reason, they do. There aren’t expectations of this love being returned, they just give it without condition. Each baby that comes into this world is the perfect love that we all hold in us and they show it however they feel guided to. We can begin to learn that this is our natural state from watching children of all ages embrace this emotion. It is who we are and the pain we learn is truly from expecting love back, not necessarily giving it.

Authenticity – Children learn the concept of “fitting in” from parents, friends and people in their life, they don’t arrive into the world with it. They are who they are. Many of us have seen a child want to wear outrageously bright, mismatched clothes simply because they like it and it represents who they are, never putting a thought into what others will think. Without the interference of judgment, children live completely authentically. This is something many of us spend years trying to get back to once we learn that what others think of us isn’t nearly as important as our own happiness. Children can show us that it is perfectly natural for us to be guided by our hearts and inner guidance, as it is how they live.

Curiosity – Nothing is more thrilling than seeing a baby look around, taking the world in and clearly demonstrating a complete sense of awe. They absorb everything around them without judgment so they can learn. They smile at every small accomplishment and are hungry to keep exploring. This is our natural state, a place of curiosity, bewilderment and awe. The world offers us as many unique things to learn and look at but often we become comfortable and lose the sense of wonder that we come into the world with. Children show us the incredible joy that comes from not being the expert but rather being a perpetual student.

Creativity – As adults we tend to lump ourselves into groups – left brain versus right brain, creative versus logical, structured versus spontaneous, etc. While all of these may be us having a tendency to being more comfortable leaning towards one direction or another, none of us are born into this world lacking any of these characteristics. All children enjoy coloring, making art projects, dancing to music or playing an instrument. They love bringing something beautiful into the world, and that doesn’t change just because they grow up. They play make believe games and daydream about the future. They demonstrate to us that a basic desire is to be in a creative space. Whether it is art, music, writing, inventions, machines or even new businesses all of us can benefit from allowing ourselves to be creative. As we grow, they way we express our creativity changes but they key is to never shut it out completely.

If we watch closely, children can show us how to get back to our original nature. Allowing ourselves to be our inner child, even if just for a moment, will give us an amazing gift of pure happiness.

With immense love and gratitude for all the children in the world – April

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Affirmations for Mamas!

Check out my latest post on West Valley Moms Blog!

A spiritual Indian woman meditating on the riverbanks, in the morning.

Every mom that I know sometimes has doubts. Am I doing the right thing? Should I have reacted that way? Are my children eating good enough? Am I yelling too much? Am I spending enough time with them? Are they learning the right values? These are just some I have thought or heard but I could go on and on. Motherhood is definitely more of an art than a science and there is no perfect way to do it. The never-ending “recommendations” from “experts” as well as family, friends or even strangers can make our head spin with insecurity. Ultimately the pressure can lead us to that one looming question… “Am I a good mother?” Read More Here…

You are doing the best you can… so is everyone else

I feel compelled to repost this after some recent conversations I have had.  So many of us can be so critical of ourselves… Just remember, you are doing the best you can 🙂  – With Love! April

We humans can be very judgmental and critical. We can easily get caught up in what we think is right and wrong.   We constantly analyze our lives and think about what we “should” have done differently. Along with this, we have a natural tendency to judge others’ decisions and talk about what poor choices they made. This gives us further fuel to try to be perfect so we don’t end up “like them.”

It is no wonder that we lose self-compassion with all this judgment swimming in our brains. It is part of how we have learned to view the world, part of what we feel we should do and ultimately part of human nature. The trick is to understand that everyone, right now, is doing the very best they can. Does that mean we couldn’t make better choices? No. Does it mean we are flawless? No. Does it mean we don’t try to grow and improve our lives? Absolutely not. It does mean that we need to step back and treat ourselves a little more gently and with a little more understanding.

This life is a journey. We grow, evolve, change and learn. Every choice you are making right now is what you think is best based on what you have learned and where you are in your life. Sometimes we do things out of habit. Often we do things out of fear. But ultimately we do what we think is best for us in the moment. Our current circumstances are a combination of every choice we have made, which means we can learn from them and change them just as easily as we created them. We don’t need to berate ourselves into these changes. Loving ourselves and accepting the choices we have made for what they are is the best way to learn from them and start making new ones.

Of course after the fact it is easy to see what we could have done different to make things easier. It is natural to assess our past, and the actions of others, to determine what would have worked better. This is part of the learning process, but that is all it is. We shouldn’t utilize these tendencies to break down our self-esteem and feel bad about what we have done. We should utilize these experiences to grow and learn what we will do different in the future.

Our flaws are what make us human and what makes us beautiful. Learning to accept these, whether it be poor choices or parts of ourselves we don’t like, will ultimately give us the power to love ourselves completely. This is where true compassion will rise up. Whenever those thoughts of judgment creep in, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, give yourself some love and then take the next step forward.

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Sign up for my Free Self-Compassion Teleclass launching on 4/9!  I would love to have you join this incredible group on the journey of love and growth!

How Can I Serve?

Like everyone, I sometimes see certain aspects of my life very challenging. When I am in a circumstance that I don’t enjoy or feel isn’t necessarily aligned with what I want to be doing I can feel frustrated or even angry. The little kid inside me wants to kick and scream like those days when I didn’t want to go to school or the dentist (no offense to the incredibly valuable dentists out there). The resistance is sometimes a sign that I need to make changes in my life, however often those changes often can’t be made immediately. Patience is required and that can be one of the toughest things to practice in these situations.

In these moments, I have found it helpful to reflect back to something I have heard Wayne Dyer say many times “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Situations are only as bad as our perception is and in actuality, every experience invites us to learn and grow in different ways. I do truly believe in the divinity of every second so even those things that I want to run screaming from are openings to spiritual growth or guidance. As I have come to realize this I have found one particular question really grounds me and brings me back to a place of peace and excitement…

How Can I Serve?

This simple questions encompasses all of who I want to be, a person that supports and loves others and myself. Looking at the any situation, whether I like it or not, and asking this one question often opens up a world of possibility I didn’t see. Taking the focus off my dislike for something and shifting it to the benefit I can bring is not only empowering but also liberating. In looking at the world this way, everything becomes an adventure of kindness. It may be serving myself with a deeper level of love or it may be serving others with an act of kindness; either way is a gentle and fulfilling way to approach everything I do. This does not take away from the steps I need to make to remove the things I know don’t align with me, but it makes patience incredibly easier and I can enjoy the journey of growth instead of the suffering of circumstance.

This has now become my daily practice every morning, simply sending that question out and waiting for life to give me opportunities in response. I encourage you to try this question and see how it supports you on your path. If it isn’t this one, play with other questions that bring you back to who you truly want to be and you will be amazed on the shift this can bring to your life. Please share any questions you come up with below so my other followers can benefit from your wisdom.

With gratitude and service  -April

Change

What if?

As I watched my daughter today playing full of joy and carelessness my thoughts drifted to her future. I began to feel protective and full of pain as I considered the various experiences she will most likely have in life. While some of this is inevitable, I couldn’t help but think about what pain could be prevented. The list of judgments and criticisms that I lived through quickly flooded my head as I deeply wished she never feel such things. Then I began to wonder… what if?

What if the world cared more about what she thought then what she wore?

What if the world celebrated her strengths rather than criticize her weaknesses?

What if everyone she encountered treated her with love and kindness?

What if who she is mattered more than how much she weighs?

What if she was given the permission from those around her to be her true self?

What if she never felt the pain of judgment but rather the happiness of acceptance?

What if she learned that it was okay to fail as long as she tried and stayed true to who she was?

What if she felt love free from condition radiating from those around her?

What if her experiences taught her that difference of opinion is what made the world interesting instead of someone always having to be wrong?

What if she was shown by those around her that happiness comes from being who you are instead of how much you own?

What if the world let who she is unfold instead of trying to dictate who she should be?

What if she was taught to be gentle and kind with herself by seeing those around her do the same?

What if the world only contributed to her happiness instead of causing her suffering?

What if everyone wanted all these things for their children?

Wait… we probably do.

Then I thought…

What if we did something about that?

Creating Balance in Your Life

It is so easy to get out of balance in our lives these days!  If you are looking for a way to get back centered check out my post on West Valley Moms Blog.  While it is written with Moms in mind the steps can be helpful for anyone! 

Creating-Balance-HERO

Moms are busy people.  Whether it is the demands from kids, husbands, friends, families or work, there is a lot for us to balance. We continue to add more onto our plate, and often feel like failures when we can’t do it all. Sometimes it almost seems as if there is a competition out there to see who can get the busiest.  The winner will win a slew of stress related health problems and regrets of not spending enough time on the important things in life.  It’s not a great prize and we don’t really want it, yet we all continue to compete.  Regardless of the stress or the amount of time it will take that we don’t have, we keep piling on things until one day, we completely break.  Why do we do this?  For each woman it is a little different but the range of reasons can include the inability to say no, feeling obligated to do more, not feeling as if we are as important as the things we have to do, etc.  It is a vicious and dangerous cycle that we thrive on until we are exhausted and burnt out and not only do we suffer, but our families do as well. Continue reading…

Practicing Mindfulness

12414_530099740365046_943005075_nHave you ever not been able to recall what you did in a day? How about realizing after driving a familiar route that you were on “auto pilot”? Each of us has moments where our thoughts run amuck and we miss out on experiencing what we are actually doing. It is very common, especially in today’s world when we are often run by our calendars and live by the clock. Living this way, however, is what causes us to feel like we lose time. Days pass by, months vanish and before we know it, it is the next year and we didn’t even feel it coming. This has become the norm for most of us and in the process, we are losing precious moments and experiences we will never get back.

Practicing mindfulness helps us truly live this moment, without allowing ourselves to be distracted by the past or the future. When we truly embrace all this moment has to offer, our senses can truly take in all that is around us. This creates a feeling of freedom and pure enjoyment that we rarely allow ourselves to experience. Whether it is eating dinner with a friend, playing with your children or even working on a project at work, by giving yourself the gift of being in that moment you will have more fulfilling relationships and be more effective.

Being mindful is an ongoing practice that takes constant awareness. To begin, there are a few techniques you can use. Give some of these a try and see how you can continue to expand your practice into all areas of your life.

  • Take a moment and look around the room you are in and absorb every detail. Close your eyes and see how much you remember. Do this once a day and you will see it eventually become a habit to take in all around you.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath, releasing any thought that comes your way gently. Doing this for a few minutes every day will bring you into the moment and create a stillness that will carry into anything you do next.
  • The next time you are in a conversation with your spouse, partner or child truly listen to every word. Don’t allow yourself to think about what you want to say next or what you have to do later. Simply listen to them and be present.
  • Sit outside for a moment everyday and look at the sky. Take in the beauty, releasing any thoughts that try to distract you.

All any of us really has is this moment. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on it!

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Just a few announcements…

Reach Your Potential Community Calls have moved!  They will now be held on the first Wednesday of every month at 8pm AZ time.  This is a free call created to come together and support each other in reaching our potential.  This is a space to experience a judgement-free, supportive environment to share ideas, experiences and gain some inspiration to reach your goals.  Bring your positive energy and love for the success of others! Register here! 

The next Reiki I training is 3/14.  The first degree  is open to everyone and provides the basic techniques for hands on treatments to provide self healing and healing to others.  The class will include a history of Reiki, the Gassho Meditation technique, and multiple attunements (Reiju).  After this training you will be able to conduct effective healing sessions. Space is limited so please register ASAP if you are interested.  

With immense gratitude – April

The Best Diet Around…

Oh diet season… Every year January comes and we are quickly told that we aren’t quite skinny enough when we are inundated with commercials and billboards. While I understand this is heavily due to the amount of New Years resolutions people make around exercising or losing weight, I can’t help but feel a tug in my heart for all the messages breeding insecurity. This becomes compounded by how many people lose their motivation by the end of January and fall back into their old habits leaving a lingering guilt that will get added to each year we don’t lose those “unwanted pounds.”

Breaking this cycle really takes one simple diet trick that is buried deep underneath all the advertising and propaganda. It isn’t going to be publicized well as it doesn’t cost any money and there isn’t anything you need to buy to make it work. Are you truly ready for the only thing that will cause easy and sustainable weight loss?

Here it is… Love yourself.

That is it. Simply work on expanding the love you have for yourself and you will be amazed at the results. Truly loving yourself will cause you to have a deep desire to treat yourself well and take care of your body. You won’t want to eat things that make you feel lethargic or guilty. It is natural for us to want to take extremely good care of anything you love deeply and ensure it gets the best of everything. Expanding your self-love will naturally grow this in the choices you make regarding what you eat, how much exercise you do and what self-talk you allow.

As you grow in love for yourself, often the emotional eating diminished. Making the choices for healthy food is easier and eating bad foods will be a small indulgence versus a way of life. You may also find that if you truly love yourself, you will want to give yourself the best of everything in life so light and healthy foods seem much more appealing. You may want to indulge in a sweet treat but you will want to moderate it because you want to give your body they very best.

In addition to wanting to treat yourself with more love, ultimately you will be happy with yourself the way it is so no diet will every be necessary.  I know this sounds simple but I don’t underestimate the hard work it takes. Along with the insecurities we already feel, we are constantly surrounded by messages of inferiority. Expanding love for yourself requires you to undo all those messages and embrace ones with love. This work, however, is much more effective in achieving a healthy approach to everything in life, including what you eat. It is also much more sustainable than any diet where you restrict things or cause yourself pain. Allow love to be the guiding force and your life, along with your body, will transform.

If you would like more support on expanding your self-love check out these posts

Fall in Love With Yourself Part 1 & Fall in Love With Yourself Part 2

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Make This Christmas Thing Last…

I feel called to share the below post I wrote a few years back.  To me , this still holds true every year and I continue to try to find ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive in my own life.  Will you join me in doing the same? Happy holidays to all of my wonderful follower and fellow bloggers 🙂 

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In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share some lyrics from one of my favorite Christmas Songs.  Although not a common or traditional song, An Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra perfectly displays the spirit of Christmas through a beautiful story.  My favorite verse:

If you want to arrange it

This world, you can change it

If we can somehow

Make this Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor

Or even a stranger

To know who needs help,

You need only just ask

Image Source: Google Images

Image Source: Google Images

This verse moves me every time.  I will listen to it throughout the year to remind myself to get back into the spirit, regardless of the month I am in.  I am always inspired and amazed by the giving we see this time of year; and I just don’t mean the gift giving on Christmas Morning.  Donations to charities explode, there are wait lists to volunteer at soup kitchens, Salvation Army volunteers ring bells all around and people everywhere are friendlier.  As the season comes close, the heartfelt stories begin to spread and thoughtful ideas of handmade gifts are shared.  If you avoid the crazed stressful shopping and filled malls, which is my tendency, these other aspects of Christmas are all you see and experience.  It is an incredible display of humanity and kindness.

As the season comes to an end, I am always a little sad to see this fade away.  It lasts a few days but after the New Year begins, the feel of love, compassion and giving that surrounds us now is a memory and we get on with our lives.  Do we not see that homeless still need to be served in May?  Do we not know that our favorite charities need money in July, maybe even more so than this time of year?  Of course we realize this, but somehow the cycle continues.

One of the reasons for this is that the spirit of giving and kindness is contagious.  As this season approaches, people start talking about giving gifts, making plans to volunteer and create lists of what they will give others.  This starts to feed the energy in the air and slowly more and more people join in.  By the beginning of December everyone is in the holiday spirit and energized by it.  There is no other time of year when so many people are collectively focused on giving.  It creates a powerful force that leads to what we call Christmas Miracles, which are simply acts of human kindness that are available year round if we would choose to display them.  The focus on giving warms our hearts, inspires us and brings us joy.  This makes anything possible.

The more of us that make giving and helping others our way of life after the season passes; the more likely that others will catch on and the world can really change.  Regardless of how much you have, what you do for a living or who you know; true fulfillment can only come if you live all year long with giving, love and kindness.  This is what Christmas teaches us.  It can be anything from giving smiles and hugs to giving some of your time to volunteer or help a neighbor.  Every bit of giving and kindness will help keep the spirit alive.

So I ask you, how can you make this Christmas thing last?

Fall In Love… With Yourself (Part 2)

If you haven’t yet, please be sure to read Part 1 as this picks up where that one left off.

Exploring who you are is a critical step in learning to love yourself. This selfexercise of self-exploration will open to door to understanding what is stopping you from pure self-love. After you feel like you have a deep and intimate understanding of who you are, work through the below steps to start uncovering the multiple layers of unconditional love.

Be grateful for the flaws – It is important that you are completely honest with yourself and find what aspects that you tend to hide. What things cause you to cringe a little? Where does shame creep up? Once you identify these items, begin to truly accept all aspects of yourself by affirming that your “flaws” are what makes you unique and ultimately perfect. Often, we would easily love others with the same “flaws” and recognizing that helps in finding this love for ourselves. Allow the labels to fade away and just be with the reality of all the beautiful aspects of who you are. Daily, take a moment to be grateful for these “flaws” as they give you an opportunity to experience unconditional love.

Respecting yourself – We tend to treat ourselves with significantly less respect than we do others. Respecting yourself includes speaking to ourselves with kindness as well as requiring others to do the same. Anytime you make a comment about yourself that is negative, even joking, it chips away at your self-esteem and gives fuel to your inner critic. Unfortunately our habits of negative self-talk can run deep and took years to build so it takes time to change. This is one that requires a high level of awareness. Spend a day watching all your thoughts and comments about yourself. Are there themes when you talk about yourself negatively? Many people do when they speak about things like needing to lose weight or a goal they aren’t hitting as quickly as they would like. Ask others to support you in letting you know when you have made a comment about yourself that is negative. Once you see when you tend to bring in negative self-talk, you can begin to catch it and change the dialogue you have about yourself. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. Add in a consistent practice of looking in the mirror and telling yourself “I love you”. It may feel odd and funny at first, but it will help grow a habit of positive self-talk while you are eliminating the negative.

Have compassion – We are incredibly hard on ourselves. Our high standards for achievement that we put on ourselves are often impossible. We fill ourselves with “shoulds” and “need to’s” that wreak havoc on our self worth. Cultivating compassion for ourselves, providing understanding and love, will create a feeling of fulfillment that we dream of. Let go of the things that you regret and haven’t forgiven yourself for. You are human and will make mistakes and fail. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, those mistakes and failures are gifts for growth so be grateful for them instead of holding a grudge against yourself. For more support read my post on Tips to Living Self Compassion.

Ultimately, you will never have complete and unconditional love in your life if you don’t have it for yourself. Nothing external will fill that void and you will always have a feeling of discontentment if you are lacking any bit of self-love. You deserve better than that. You deserve complete love and happiness. Start right now, healing any wounds and changing any perceptions that are keeping you for unconditional love.