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"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Symbols

A cross is one of our most potent symbols, so is a swastika, and yet what those symbols mean to us, is very different to what they meant to cultures long ago. The former, the cross, was already a symbol to Pagan cultures millenia before it became a symbol for Christianity, and the latter, the swastika, was an "ancient occult symbol found in Egypt, China, India." This "picture shows part of a Hindu temple.

Chinese versions include a right-handed (yang) and a left-handed (yin) version -- opposites that "harmonize." It has represented the sun, the four directions, movement and change (the four appendages) and union of opposite (lines crossing). Source

The point of this is that what we see is not always what it is. What we see is what our minds have decided it is, or what our culture has decided that it is, but if we can just step outside of that, we can see so much more.

A rather roundabout way of suggesting we become more open-minded about so many of the things, the symbols, that surround us. Let us not always jump to narrow conclusions. Let us be more free with our thinking.


Photo Credit: Dan

Monday, August 30, 2010

Make Suggestions, Not Complaints

In the context of a conversation among friends up in Las Alpujarras (a well-known mountainous region near Granada) over the weekend, where we had gathered to attend a spectacular flamenco performance in the Moorish cypress-lined Generalife gardens of La Alhambra (recently visited by Michelle Obama - photos 7 & 10 are the best - and I do beg your indulgence for straying into such a touristy description of this country I love so much) on a moonlit night in celebration of Garcia Lorca's Poemas del Cante Jondo *, the topic of suggestions and not complaints came up.

When we complain we are voicing something negative. When we suggest we are voicing something that can very easily be positive, depending on the tone and choice of words used.

  • I can say what an awful day I've had or I can say perhaps if I look at what has happened today from another point of view, I can see it differently.

  • I can say why can't you ever do anything right? Or I can say let me show you how this can be done in a time-efficient manner.

  • I can say who do you think you are to speak to me this way? Or I can say speaking to me like that is not acceptable. Here's what would work for me, but if you can't respect that, this-and-this will be the consequence. (See also Do Your Relationship Boundaries Contribute To Your Well-being? or Finding it Hard to Love Yourself? Check Out Your Boundaries),

  • I can say I'm so drained, I've just spent nearly two hours listening to so-and-so speak about his/her problems and now I have no energy left or I can say the next time this happens I'll deal with it differently so that I am not drained of energy. (See also Emotional and Energetic Vampires).
In each of these situations we can choose how to view an event, how to react with regards to an event that has already occurred, or - we can even choose - during the course of the event - to deal with it differently, whether in how we react or how we think about it, or in the exact actions we take, so that after the event is over, there is no cause to complain at all.

There is also an audio clip from my old local radio show here in Marbella called The 21-Day No-Complaint Challenge . If you click on the link, then scroll down to the section called Awareness & Consciousness and in that section you will find the clip in question.


* If you are curious and wish to see a few minutes of the flamenco and song spectacle, click here for a brief video of it on YouTube


Friday, August 27, 2010

Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow

Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
Plato

We often become impatient with others. Perhaps they are slower than we are in certain endeavours that we consider commonplace. Or perhaps they come from a different background - academically, professionally, socially, biologically - and are not able to assimilate something or accomplish something as quickly as we are. Or perhaps we've been there, done that eons ago, and find it hard to understand how someone else could not yet have understood whatever it is.

Ironically enough we find this easy to understand if the "slow" person is a child, or perhaps someone with Down's Syndrome, or our beloved 90-year-old great-uncle. Then we encourage them despite their slowness, we cheer them on, we are proud of them for any and all steps towards progress that they are undertaking.

Let's try to be that way with all who aim to cross thresholds never before attempted, who try to step outside of their particular comfort zone, who may take longer than we think that particular action should take, and yet who are making progress. If we deny them this encouragement, if we discourage them, we will have - in some fashion - lowered our own energy and progress as well. And we will have robbed them in immeasurable ways of something that is so easy to give: the gift of encouragement.



Photo Credit: Irina Naumets

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love is Love

                         
 




When my aunt's third Scottish terrier died (she always got exactly the very same dog from the same breeder over a period of decades, and always gave the dogs the same name, almost as if she wanted to believe each was an extension of the former...), she was, as you can imagine, beside herself. She was living in Lindau, a beautiful resort town with a medieval old town centre by the Lake of Constance at the time, and I lived in Miami, and as she did not let me know about Taika's demise, I knew nothing until the next time I called.

When it became clear to me that something was amiss and when I eventually pulled it out of her, my first question was to ask why she had not told me immediately. Her answer - much as she loved her dog - was: it was only a pet.

To that I said to her: but love is always love. It makes no difference if it's a pet or a human being, because what we feel inside is the same. If we had to choose which one to save - in a calamitous event such as an earthquake or hurricane - we would (probably) choose the human, but other than an extreme situation of that nature, love is love.

When one of my cats was hit by a car one night (she loved to spend her nights outside and our very suburban neighbourhood in those years was generally quite safe and tranquil), I was also beside myself. I told my sons that my grief was so strong because my love had been so strong. The fact that she was "merely" a cat, made absolutely no difference to the quality of my love.

And precisely because of that, our furry and feathered friends can make such a difference to our lives. When we love them, and they love us back, they add immensely to the quality of our lives because of the quality of our - and their - love.

 Love is always love.


Cat Photo Credit: Willem Siers
Dog Photo Credit

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Suffering


When others suffer, it is often best to merely listen. Sometimes it helps to talk as though whatever is causing the suffering is not happening ... not because you are deliberately ignoring its existence in the life of the other person, but because by behaving normally, you give them strength. On other occasions you might wish to offer a gentle touch or hug.

But here's the thing: going over and over whatever the problem is helps no one ... not the one who is suffering, and not you, the listener or friend or family member, because by repeating the details of the event, the one it is happening to suffers all over again, and you, the friend or listener, lose your energy and it is precisely your energy that the other needs right now. But in a healthy way. In a way that does not make you lose it. Because if you feel that your energy has leaked out of you, you are no longer of any positive use to the other. (see also Emotional and Energetic Vampires).

In such a case, and before it happens, you might wish to gently remind the other that going over and over the events or the feared events serves no purpose. You will be doing more good this way than allowing a continual repetition of something that will not remedy the matter. Being a good friend or helper does not imply listening endlessly to a repetition of the pain as much as gently showing the other that even if they do not yet see the way out of the dark hole they find themselves in, they can choose to momentarily concentrate on beauty or gratitude.

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Photo Credit: Francesco Marino

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goals and Striving


Ho-hum. Another article about goals. Planning. Been there. Done that. Maybe not quite...

What if you think about your goals and striving from the point of view of inner growth while you are working on your outer goals? So this month, for example, you might work on your lack of patience. Next month you'll tackle being less judgemental. And the month after that you'll move towards being less critical of others.

Do you know what will happen if you do this? The goal you've set yourself for a given period of time will present itself to you in the form of constant challenges all month long. If you're working on being less judgemental, you will find yourself in situation after situation where your first instinct is to judge someone or something. Then you may remember your resolve. And then you may (or may not) choose to work on it by electing to think thoughts or voice words that are not judgemental. Your comfort zone will be invaded over and over again. You'll have to carry on inner dialogues and arguments that you may not always win. But if you stick with it (while you're working on your goal to become a millionaire or a doctor or concert pianist, or the best cake maker on the planet), you will have come closer to a goal of another kind, one that doesn't require a PDA or laptop or iPad or any kind of digital help at all. It only requires your determination and striving. And your awareness of yourself,



Photo Credit: Graur Codrin

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where Is Our Inner Voice?


The question about the inner voice is one that has plagued most of those of us who ask the question. What we're really asking is how do we know that what we're hearing is truly the inner voice and not the ego, or self-talk, that non-ending inner conversation that will never finish until we become aware and mindful enough to do something about it.

So here's my take on it in a nutshell:

  • first you need to become aware of the ego's voice inside of you, in other words, your self-talk

  • next, come to understand the messages your self-talk is giving you ... day in ... day out. Some of those messages may be ok, but most are probably not

  • next, become aware of your body. For example, notice how your solar plexus scrunches up when you hear a police siren behind you, and how it gradually relaxes once you realize the patrol car has passed you in hot pursuit of someone else

  • next, attempt to connect the feelings in different parts of your body (lump in throat, thumping of the heart) with messages you are giving yourself with your self-talk

  • now choose to change the self-talk when you feel the body's message (example: thought: I'll never be able to do this. feeling in the body: tightening in the tummy or chest, perhaps less oxygen intake, etc. New message to self: If I was able to do such-and-such in the past, I can also do this or If they trusted me to do this, I can do it (always assuming it's something do-able ... if you are 1.64m tall you will probably not be able to play pro basketball).

  • so now that you are beginning to recognize self-talk and its effect on you, you can begin to start paying attention to the inner voice, which is quite different. Why? Because it comes from your most inner self that loves you well, some might call it the soul.

  • it might be the part that is urging you to change jobs, even if it means taking a cut in pay, so that you can do something that you are passionate about.

  • and here's the clincher: normally the difference between self-talk and the inner voice is that the latter brings forth some wonderful emotion, closely linked to excitement and joy ... but generally not desire or longing... 
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Photo Credit: Francesco Marino

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why Can't We Be Happy?

 
Our happiness depends on so many external circumstances as long as we believe we are not responsible for it. Our happiness can never be in our hands as long as we consider that external factors have a decisive voice in how we feel,. Our happiness will always depend on the kindness or mercy of others and on the balmy winds of good fortune as long as we do not begin to take it into our own hands.
 
Happiness - the way we feel inside - and the messages we give ourselves with our thoughts and feelings and subsequent actions must be in our own hands. If we do not accept this, we can only be happy as long as those we love continue to love us and continue to live, and as long as our other life circumstances remain good. Once any of that fails, we have no alternative but to fall into unhappiness and misery.
 
But we have a choice. We can become responsible for our happiness. And once such a choice is taken, life as we knew it before will never be the same!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Emotions: Your Road to Hell or Freedom !

Emotions are so important in deciding what you will do with the circumstances of your life. I discuss this topic with so many of my clients. I discuss it in my monthly newsletter that goes out across the globe, and find there is so much resonance in this, and so decided that this clip from my local radio show that broadcast weekly for five years here on the southern coast of Spain, should go up again. It's got a great message. It's not original to me, many authors and speakers say the same, but it is so important to internalize. Please listen to it:



Should you experience difficulties hearing it here on my blog, please click here in order to go straight to my Youtube channel