Tag Archives: spirituality

The Funny Thing About Time…

Around 10 am this morning I was sitting on my couch, enjoying an iced coffee, and feeling very grateful for a relaxing Sunday morning. As I reflected on the morning I thought about all I had accomplished, yet felt very calm and content throughout the whole morning.

hourglassBy this time I had meditated, cuddled with my daughter for a bit, fed my daughter breakfast and two snacks, ate breakfast, got my daughter and myself dressed and ready for the day, went on a hike and took photos, did a few sun salutations and yoga poses, read 2 chapters in Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, changed a few diapers, drove through a car wash, vacuumed and cleaned the inside of my car, went grocery shopping, fed the dogs, completed some households tasks (washing and putting away dishes, washed a load of laundry, picked up toys, etc.), and sat and read to my daughter.

Considering that I can easily remember a time when I wasn’t even out of bed by this time, I would count this as a very productive morning. I also can remember many mornings when I did much less and felt stressed, rushed and frustrated. So what was the difference with this morning, when I did quite a bit, but felt relaxed and calm?

My state of mind.

Time is a tricky thing. Often we feel it is limited and probably use it as one reason we can’t get to things we want to do. When we look at our long to-do list, and focus too much on the past or future, time seems to shrink. It moves quickly, keeping us hurried and scattered, trying desperately to get as much crammed in as possible.

In today’s world we often feel hurried and overwhelmed by all that we “have to do”. This perspective leaves us moving through minutes, hours, days, month and years at a rapid pace. The tragedy in this is that we miss truly experiencing so much and never seem to do what we want to do.

However, we can make time expand by changing the way we think. When we focus on this current moment and simply glide from one activity to the next without looking too far ahead or letting our mind get too focused on the past, time seems to move much slower. We can accomplish more than we ever thought we could and truly enjoy it.

Time also feels different when we prioritize the things we want to do. While we may have to clean the house, we can take a moment to do something we find enjoyable like reading, creating or sitting with those we love. Many hobbies or activities we truly enjoy can be done around the things that are our responsibility but not our favorites. Even if it is just a few moments, sprinkling in the activities that inspire us can truly pull us back into the moment and make time move a little slower.

The way we perceive and approach time makes a difference in how it feels to us. Using a practice of present moment awareness can create a feeling of endlessness to the moment we are in. This will ultimately lead to being more productive and can give room to add in the things we love.

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Are you missing beautiful humanity?

The other day I stopped to grab my husband and I breakfast sandwiches. Due to the time, it wasn’t a quick stop. I arrived with the expected sight of long still lines and hurried staff behind the counter. As time went by, I challenged myself not to distract myself with my phone or the news playing on the television above me.

Periodically I will do this when I am waiting and tempted to make the time pass. This practice helps me focus on staying present and supports me in not needing to be entertained, but rather be completely content observing.

I am so glad I chose this particular moment for my practice and will be forever grateful for what I saw.

I saw a father instruct his teenage son to help a lady with a large order to her car.

I saw the son get up and offer his help without even a slight hesitation.

I saw a mother gently rub her daughters back as they stood in silence waiting for a small shuffle to get closer to the counter.

I saw the manager hurrying around, making sure orders were getting out and checking in on the customers waiting every few minutes with genuine kindness.

I saw a father pick up his coffee then say “Come on beautiful” to his young daughter.

I saw the daughters face light up at her father’s casual statement.

I saw an employee joke with the people in line as he passed out free donut holes.

I saw an elderly couple sit quietly in the corner enjoying their coffee as they watched everyone else, with their lips slightly turned up.

No matter who I looked at, I saw beautiful humanity.

In a time when we are being consistently exposed to conflict and disagreement (especially here in the US during a presidential year) these moment remind me of the light in each of us.

Here we were, all different sexes, races and religions with a common goal of getting some breakfast. There was no hate outwardly expressed. Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own struggles and suffering. But we were there together, not allowing any of those stories to affect us in how we treated one another.

Each person in this busy store showed love in some way. There was not frustration or anger, despite the long wait. There were only people respectfully co-existing.

As I walked out the shop 45 minutes later I was so in love with the beauty in people. This simple situation gave me faith in our potential as humans to let love guide and truly exist in peace.

It also was a great reminder of how many times I miss these moments. We all do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just waiting for us to look up from our phones or get out of our thoughts.

Beautiful humanity is everywhere around us and it would serve us all if we started to see it.

Are you missing the conversation?

I recently heard this incredibly beautiful poem from Ingrid Goff-Maidoff that caused me to stop and see how I was living.

God spoke today in flowers,

and I, who was waiting on words,

almost missed the conversation.

Aside from the beauty in the sheer simplicity of this poem, the stunning truth shook me to the core. She has captured here the tragedy we live so much of our life in – not seeing the beauty in what is because of what we are expecting.

Our tendency to miss much in life is centered on our expectations of how things “should” be. We wait and wait for things to show up in our desired form and become more and more frustrated that they haven’t come. All the while there is beauty and perfection all around us that we are not seeing.

We, of course, do this with God often. We pray and get frustrated when our requests don’t come when we want them to. Often, we are so tied to “how” we want our prayers answered that we don’t see the possibility in what is coming our way. We are waiting for God to speak to give us peace, instead of seeing the message in the flowers. The divine plan, however, is much more beautiful and complex than the human brain can comprehend.

I often sit in awe reflecting on even the most minuet details in my life and seeing how different everything would have been if things were shifted just slightly.   Every aspect of my life has lead to this exact second to be unfolding exactly how it is, especially those moments I didn’t like so much. I wanted certain things and have them, but never would have expected them to come the way they did. This is the beauty of being open to possibility and seeing what is in our path, instead of trying to design every minute.

We don’t only do this with God, however, we also do this with people in our lives. We are always trying to get someone to react the way we want them to or see things our way. One of my favorite lines in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is that we ask ”Grant that I may not so much seek… to be understood, as to understand”. We sometimes forget that no one on this earth perceives things exactly like we do. We all have different experiences that lead to how we think and act. We may find many that agree with us, but they don’t see it “exactly” as we do. Instead of trying to understand them, we want them to understand (and act) as we do. The world would be a very boring place if this wish came true.

Unfortunately our partners and family often get the brunt of this. How often do we get upset with a partner because they didn’t show us love in a particular way? The gift wasn’t thoughtful enough, they didn’t respond right to our concern, or they weren’t making us feel loved. All the while, we miss the subtle ways that they show us love, in their way. We are so busy looking at how we feel, we miss seeing how they are giving.

The shift from seeing the possibility of what is, versus living in our head of expectations can create a brand new world for us. It takes really no time, just awareness of our thoughts and the intent of seeing things as they are, while letting go as we expect them to be.

Be open to what is now – a simple, yet beautiful practice that will ensure we do not miss the conversation.

A Valentine’s Day Challenge

As with most people, I have always has a bittersweet relationship with Valentine’s Day.   As a teenager I revealed in the romantic ideals, swept up in this concept of demonstrating eternal love through flowers, jewelry and chocolate. Unless, of course, I didn’t have a boyfriend then I banished the holiday as a silly idea and I was appalled at the concept.

Over the years I have found the paradox in the day that baffles me. One day has the power to make someone feel whole and loved if his or her partner pulled off a romantic gesture. On the other hand, some end relationships entirely because the gesture didn’t live up to expectations. Then there is another group who have no partner and this day sparks loneliness and sadness. There are many people who are indifferent about the day but for the most part, it is an emotional windstorm based entirely on circumstance and others actions.

This day, however, has potential to grow into something new. I love the idea of a reminder to slow down and celebrate love, but it can explore a deeper kind of love within us. It can remind us that we are beyond the fear, doubt, anger and expectations. Strip away all the layers of thoughts and emotions and the truth of our being comes to light – we are love. We don’t need others to give us the gifts, promises or romantic gestures to feel the completeness that is already within us.

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you are in a relationship or not, I challenge you to give yourself a romantic gesture. Run yourself a warm and relaxing bubble bath, write a love letter to yourself or buy yourself something beautiful. Whatever it may be that calls to you, give yourself the reminder that you are love and the deeper you love yourself, the more expansive your life will become.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

Valentines

A New Year, A New Kind of Resolution

The New Year brings such energy and excitement. While I am a firm believer that you can change anything in your life at any moment, there is something about everyone getting a fresh start at the same time. We can choose what to bring with us from the previous year and what to leave. We hear about everyone’s desires for this year to be the best yet, while they reflect on the previous year. The energy of the whole world doing this in unison is undeniable and a great time to make changes.

I spent this year similar to others. I spend New Years Eve thinking about the previous year. I celebrate some of the major and exciting changes and I consider the things that no longer serve me. Before that clock strikes twelve, I put little thought into the upcoming year and instead, use it as an opportunity to release. New Years day is all about moving forward. As with most, my resolutions typically have been goals that I want to achieve. Exercise more, lose weight, get a new job, start a new program, walk the dogs more, finally finish the growing pile of books I want to read, etc. This year though, I am doing something different.

This year isn’t going to be about what I am going to do. This year is about who am I going to be on a day-to-day basis.

Each of us has the benefit of having an internal guide letting us know we are being true to who we really are. Our souls can guide us from major decisions to everyday interactions, if we let it. When we open to the possibility that we have all the answers we need, then we can begin listening to our internal self. Following our hearts and instincts, we are opened to a world where we respect and love ourselves fully. We don’t act in ways that are aimed at pleasing others, but rather at what is right for us.

We have all had that taste of freedom, love, and passion that comes from following our true self. It is when our lives have effortlessly worked out. It is when we have been excited to move forward. It is when we have felt compassion for ourselves. When done consistently, all of these things benefit everyone around us and it can’t help but be contagious. And what the world truly needs right now are people who love deeply, have compassion for themselves and others and treat themselves like the divine creation they are.  This can only come if we each follow our souls guidance and act in a way that is aligned with our true selves.

So this year, my resolution is not a list of goals but one simple sentence: I am going allow myself to be my true self, in all moments and all interactions.

Will you join me?

With immense love and gratitude – April

6 Spiritual Lessons from Our Children

young

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

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?

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

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?