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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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Past Trauma & Metaphysical Symbolism of Illness

The fact that our body is generally sending us a message when it gets ill about something that goes way beyond the physical body is no longer a thought that causes most people to go into paroxysms of disbelief.

PNI (psychoneuroimmunology) or the study of the body-mind connection, is a subject I've written about in the past, but while it is closely connected to today's topic, this - past trauma and metaphysical symbolism of illness - goes further. Understanding how past trauma may have brought about a present illness, and understanding the metaphysical symbolism of an illness, may well help you find your way through it to healing, health, long life, and above all, conscious growth.

With this in mind, my objective today is to equip you with several books that address the subject. This is not a definitive list. There are many others. But if I were ill at this time, these are the ones I would keep at arm's reach. Each is different, but all are complementary to each other. And if you have a favorite that it not part of this list, please do let me know in the comment section below!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Two Streams of Existence

Living here in Spain, there are many typical American magazines that are out of reach, they are not available on newstands, and they may not be available online, and even when you subscribe, they frequently do not arrive due to lackadaisical postal service. Hence, when someone lends me something - as recently happened with an older issue of Oprah's magazine - I thoroughly enjoy the foray into them.

In that issue Oprah interviewed Eckhart Tolle, and a few phrases he said caught my attention:

"Sometimes people ask me if things are getting better or worse, and my answer is, at the moment, both: things are getting better and worse. There are two streams in existence now: One stream is the old, unenlightened, egoic consciousness, which is still continuing. You see it when you watch the news. The other stream is us sitting here now, talking. I'm not saying we're special, but the fact that we're addressing this and that many, many people are reading it and it's meaningful to them means there is another stream here, which is the stram of humanity awakening. Both are present at this time."

I believe this is important because many people insist that the world is not conscious; they insist this is so due to global political turmoil, graft, rampant crime, and so on. They are right insofar as those events continuing to happen, but Tolle is also right insofar that there are many people interested in the type of topic he addresses.

What will happen when the awakened mass overtakes the other one in numbers?

Later in the interview Oprah asks him this: "Do you think it will ever be possible to live peacefully in the now, or is that too much of a lofty goal?"

Tolle answers (isn't this beautiful?): "Rather than asking if you can ever be free, because "ever" is a huge amount of future time, ask if you can be free at this moment. The only place where you can or need to be free is this moment. Not the rest of your life. Just now."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the Road to Inner Freedom

Many - if not most - clients complain that when we discuss methods by which they can find greater inner freedom and inner peace, it sounds like such hard work.

They tell me that it's all very well for me to talk about it, but that for them it is just going to take so long and be so hard.

In some ways they are right. None of this work is possible without some dedication and discipline. I often liken it to developing biceps and triceps in a weak or flaccid arm. In order to see some change, you need to be lifting weights or going to the gym on a regular basis for about three months. You have to be consistent, and you have to believe - during those early days and weeks - that even though it appears that nothing is changing, that something is indeed changing, and that you will soon see the desired results.

We talk about becoming aware of the self and its reactions, making conscious choices at each step of the way that are good for you on an energetic level (these may not be the easiest or most immediately pleasing choices, but they are the choices that give you the greatest sense of satisfaction with yourself), and choosing responsibility for the self in all senses of the word.

When we get to this point, some clients then protest, indicating that there is no proof that the end result will give them what they are seeking (inner freedom and peace in their lives and relationships), other than the fact that I (and untold others) vouch for it due to the effect it has had in their own lives.

Hence it is wonderful to listen to yet another person speaking the same language - this time couched in the terms of mindfulness meditation (I've posted about this in the past and mentioned Jon Kabat-Zinn).

In this instance it is Daniel Siegel, MD., author of The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being, whose podcast I listened to at the Brain Science Podcast, a wonderful site I link to on my own blog. In this podcast, he speaks about mindfulness meditation and the beneficial effects it has on your well-being ... and these benefits speak directly to the type of desired effects I referred to earlier in this post, that cause some clients such difficulty.

By paying attention to your intention over a period of 10 minutes every day, focusing on your breath, you begin to become aware of your awareness, and in this process certain sections of the brain are activated. Studies show that this process ... a state of mind that you work on with effort, becomes a trait, a long-term aspect of an individual's way of being that then happens without effort, and whose benefits cause you to:
  • develop more capacity to regulate your body (blood pressure, immune system improves, etc.)
  • attune to yourself and others in a deeper and meaningful ways (you develop compassion)
  • regulate your affective states better (you approach, rather than withdraw from things)
  • develop the ability to extinguish fear
  • develop response flexibility...the capacity to pause before you act; you think about your options and choose the most adaptive
  • have more insight into yourself
  • develop greater empathy
  • have more morality
  • you have access to your intuition, which is fundamentally your body's wisdom
All of these benefits - brought about as studies have proven - through mindfulness meditation, are the same benefits that can be achieved through other mechanisms, but that frequently take much longer, and require much more conscious effort.

How you do it is your business - even whether you do it, is your business - but these are some of the best roads to inner freedom and peace.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Absolutely Best Way To Help Your Children Grow Into Exceptional Adults

We send our kids to the best schools we can afford. We send them to immersion courses during the summer in other countries to perfect their foreign language skills. We make sure their food is nutritious, we organize tennis lessons, piano lessons, private tutors and if they need it, we send them to expensive dermatologists to help with their acne. We buy over-priced school and sports uniforms; we give in to their pleas for the latest fashion or technology craze, and it is abundantly clear that we love them very much and want the very best for them.

Yes. Not a doubt in my mind about it.

But today I wanted to discuss other aspects of helping them grow up well. And all of these have to do with us. Not with them.

Happiness

What does your own happiness depend on? Do you need your external circumstances to be just so in order to be happy? Or have you found the way to being happy no matter what the external circumstances? In other words, have you worked on yourself enough to depend on yourself for your happiness? What a wonderful gift to give your children! Can you do this?

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Self-Awareness

How self aware are you? How well do you really know yourself? What are the buttons that trigger your reactions? Do you then act on those blind reactions or are you so self-aware that you are able to choose to remain conscious? If you do not remain conscious when your buttons are pushed, and you become reactive (you react blindly), you are teaching something as harmful to your children as you would be if you were giving them drugs.

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Making Choices & Self Responsibility

What kind of choices do you make? How much responsibility do you take for resolving your own issues? When you make your choices – every day – during your entire life, do you remember to be aware in order to recognize that at each step of the way you always have alternatives? Do you remember that you are responsible for everything you feel, think, say, and do? In other words, you need not yell, you need not cry, you need not despair, you need not fear, you need not resort to anger, because you always have another alternative. Do you know how to live in such a way that the alternative you choose is the one that creates most well-being for you, and hence – by ripple effect – for those that live with you? If you do this – and consistently show it to your children – you are giving them a great gift.

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Healthy Boundaries & Loving the Self

Are you free of codependence, manipulation, and enmeshment? No? I really did not expect you to say yes, you know. But it is very important that you recognize that some or all of these continue to form part of your life. That’s called being aware. Then, deciding to do something about them is called making choices and being responsible for the self.

Here’s how it works: you fall into some of your old traps, like noting codependent behavior with your spouse, sibling, parent, or anyone else, or like realizing you have once again attempted to manipulate someone … perhaps your child, in order to create the behavior you desire in a specific situation. If you are doing this, and if you are aware of it, recognize also that you are teaching your child behavior that will fetter him to self-destructive and negative ways of dealing with life. You can change this by giving your child the gift of your change. Working on yourself will bring this about.

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Blaming Others & Being A Victim

Do you tend to blame others? Are you a victim of events or people in your life? Can you forgive? What you show your child by one or the other mode of behavior, will, in some ways, determine his/her chance at happiness now and in the future. Learn not to blame – no matter what - stop being a victim – no matter what - and begin to forgive – no matter what - in order to teach all of this to your child by virtue of your own example!

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Walking Your Talk

Do you walk your talk? Do you say one thing and do another? Are you authentic? Are you really the way you portray yourself to be? Do you actually know who that is? This goes back to self awareness. It goes to meaning. It is implicit in happiness. Discover yourself because only if you do that, can you really walk your talk and in the process show your child what it means to be authentic.

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Is There a Meaning In Your Life?

What is the central meaning of your life? Is there passion in your life, in that which gives meaning to it? Does your energy soar (not only your physical energy, but in particular, you inner energy, your psycho-emotional energy, the way you feel yourself vibrate inside) when you involve yourself with whatever it is that gives meaning to your life? Having this; finding this, implementing this, and then truly living it is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child as a role model he or she can follow.

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Living in the Now

Are you always reliving past glories? Or past hurts? Or are you always counting the time until something special will happen – that raise at work, your vacation, the weekend, etc.? In other words, are you always living at any time other than the present? If so, recognize what you are teaching your child. This is the cause of much unhappiness in the lives of so many. Don’t let your child be one of them. Teach him/her something different by learning to remain in the present yourself. Become aware of all the now moments you are losing and begin to systematically change this in order to make your life so much better and in the process give your child the gift of the now.

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Transparency

Be open with your children! Show them that you can make mistakes, or that you can learn from them. Show them that you are open to being open, and that you invite openness from them, no matter what they want to confide in you! Doing this is both easy and hard. It’s easy because it is really just a question of choosing to be like this, but it’s hard because in order to be like this, you must also choose to become self-aware and conscious at all times, choose to make yourself responsible for all that you feel, think, say, and do, and hence choose to work on all the those aspects that complicate this as discussed in previous sections of this article.

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Love Has the Greatest Priority in Your Relationships

Remember this: the love you have for your child (newborn, toddler, teenager or adult child) must come before all other considerations. When there is a problem, in particular, an ego problem, for example, where one of you insists on being right, and as long as the other does not acquiesce to the rightness of that one, the relationship is on hold, you must remember that the love you have for each other – or even just the love you have for your child (in the event that at this particular moment your child has forgotten he loves you) – must be greater than the need to be right, or than the need for the problem to be resolved the way you think it ought to be.

Putting It All Together

Look within, work on yourself, become congruent, love yourself and realize that every positive thing you do in order to improve yourself will have a ripple effect on the lives of all those you touch.

You have so many gifts to give your child. No one expects you to be perfect. But you can start the road towards the goal of growth, self awareness, and loving yourself by beginning today with the first step. That first step is simply remembering to be conscious, and when you forget, forgiving yourself for forgetting, but praising yourself for at least having remembered that you forgot to remember to be conscious. And then doing it all over again … the more time you spend being conscious, the more quickly you will reach the goal of your own inner freedom, and the more quickly you will reach the goal of being able to offer your child the gift of your example with all of this.

Photo: Beach in Greece

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding Your Own Inner Lionheart


Richard I (1157 - 1199), King of England, was known as Richard the Lionheart, or Cœur de Lion, according to Wikipedia, because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. He remains one of the very few Kings of England remembered by his epithet, not number, and is an enduring, iconic figure in England.

Richard was a central Christian commander during the Third Crusade, scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin. (Those of you who have seen Ridley Scott's 2005 movie Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson, will be somewhat familiar with this epoch).
 
Figuring out how to find that element within ourselves that allows us to be great warriors in our own existence, is an essential part of bringing to life those parts of ourselves that allow us to carry on in the face of great odds.
Carrying on in the face of great odds. Finding the lionheart inside of you.

How?

This is not just courage. It is not just being able to be a warrior in the traditional sense of the word. It is being a warrior with yourself, in the face of your own doubts and fears. Those are the odds against which you stack yourself, and it is there where you need to find your own lionheart.

Tackling doubts and fears begins with believing in yourself, and that begins with dealing with your own sense of self-esteem. If it is not high, you need to work on it.

How?

Begin by looking at all those events, attitudes and people in your life that disempower you. Be ruthless in your self-analysis. When do you feel weak? When do you doubt yourself? When are you afraid? Look at those situations and begin to change something. Perhaps by shoring up some healthier boundaries. Perhaps by learning to leave your comfort zone. Perhaps by disciplining yourself to become more aware. Perhaps by telling yourself that the only one who can be responsible for how you think, feel, act, and react is you. Once you accept that, you are on the road to your own lionheart.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Alternative Bipolar Treatment: A Promise of Hope


If you or anyone you know suffers from any form of bipolar disorder, I urge you to read today's post.

One of the blogs I used to frequently peruse is Discover and Recover. Some time ago however, it was converted into a resource site which includes a very comprehensive list of links to sites that offer ideas, support, and help for those struggling with bipolar disorder - this tremendously misunderstood condition. Duane Sherry, the owner of the site, often posted articles about the subject and there is one that is hugely important reading for anyone with an interest in bipolar problems.

It is the story of Autumn Stringam who ran the gamut of a life-shattering diagnosis of bipolar disorder to mind-numbing psychotropic meds to the inadvertent discovery of what a combination of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) along with amino acids could do for her to bring her to healing without the psychiatric drugs.
The link to the post on Duane's blog is unfortunately no longer live but here is the link Duane indicated that leads to Healthkeepers magazine where Autumn's entire story is available for online reading: A Promise of Hope for Bipolar Disorder.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Create Joy in the Way Your Life Unfolds

 











This is about responsibility ... your responsibility in creating joy in the way your life unfolds.

No, I can't do that. My life is not unfolding to plan. My life is not good. I don't like my life. Under such circumstances how do you expect me to create joy in the way my life unfolds?

That is, however, precisely it. Most of our lives don't always unfold according to plan, or in the best way possible. That's the reason why we have to take charge about creating joy in the way our life unfolds.

If we do that, we begin to see joy appear in the most unexpected ways and in the most unexpected places. Once that happens, we are well on the road to experiencing joy in our lives at will, no matter what the circumstances.


How can we create joy? How can we become responsible in creating joy in the way in which our life unfolds? By deciding to do so. It's a choice. So simple. Start now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Don't Make Decisions


When you take small decisions, such as what to have for breakfast, or which suit to wear to work, normally the consequences of these decisions do not have the power to wreak much havoc in your life (unless you insist on having junk food for breakfast every day, or choosing to wear inappropriate clothing to work).

But when you take decisions of another nature, there can be consequences of greater impact:

- shall I say this to this person?
- shall I agree to this situation?
- do I really want to do this?
- do I really want to go to this place?

In such situations, you want to be able to ask yourself whether you have your emotions well in hand. If you are in rage, fear, or any other negative emotion, or if your heart is not in a good place, you may want to postpone taking the decision.

Your emotions - as important as they are - when they are negative emotions, such as rage, or pain, or jealousy, etc., are not conducive to taking good decisions. Simply postpone the decision to a time when you are not in this state. No one is forcing you to decide now. Or if they are trying to manipulate you to to do so, it is perhaps another clue that it is not a good moment to take a decision. Decisions should not be coerced or manipulated by others.

If you decide now, while you are not in a good place, then what you decide may not be the best choice for you. It may carry consequences you might later wish you had avoided. So wait. And in so doing, try to become aware of all the choices, all the alternatives you have regarding the way you are feeling. It is not the only way to feel, nor the only way to make a decision, no matter what the circumstances. Sleeping on the matter is very often a great way to find clarity. And remember, there is always a choice.

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Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch



Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Enemies ... Take Another Look!

Who has harmed you?

I'm not talking about enemies in the impersonal, geo-political sense of the word, as in wars, but enemies as in those individuals whom you consider personal enemies.

In my practice a frequent manner of viewing the enemy is in the guise of an ex-spouse or ex-partner.

My purpose today is not to ask you what was done to you and then to say that it was not as bad as you imagined it to be.

Nor is it to ask you to forgive those who have trespassed against you.

My purpose is to ask you to consider this: how have you grown since whatever it was that was done, was actually done? Have you taken advantage of life's offerings in order to grow through your difficulties?

This is a lot less crazy than it sounds.

Those who make us suffer unwittingly offer us the opportunity for growth. It is up to us whether we decide to take that opportunity or not. Those of you who have taken it, know who you are, because you have grown and changed - often in such a way that as you now look back, you realize you like yourself - perhaps even admire yourself - much more as you are now, than the way you were before. And you know it might not have happened if your enemies had not trespassed against you.

Take another look at your enemies...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Five Things You Should Not Expect to Get From Your Relationships (Unless You Already Supply All of Them For Yourself)


Today's post comes in close connection with yesterday's post titled Five Things Relationships are Good For. While it may appear that both posts have been written tongue-in-cheek, that is, in fact, not the case. I'm trying to make a very serious point. What we get from relationships - the great benefits we get from them - tend not to be what we are expecting, and conversely, what we should not expect from them, tends to be precisely what we do expect from them. That, of course, explains why so many fail...

If, however, we use relationships to grow and learn, then they can be so much more than what our televised sit-coms and romance novels try to make us believe they are. A relationship is one of the swiftest roads to the self, to inner growth and to great love, if only we could understand this.
  1. Happiness
  2. Fulfilment
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Security
  5. Happy-Ever-After

Monday, February 14, 2011

Five Things Relationships Are Good For


  1. Learning
  2. Growth
  3. Understanding yourself better
  4. Working out unresolved issues from your past
  5. Becoming more of what you are capable of being

Friday, February 11, 2011

Compassionate Detachment

A friend recently told me about some deep troubles. This wasn't even a client. It was a friend, and yet, I remained within a mindset that some (especially Buddhists) call compassionate detachment.

Compassionate detachment might be defined as the manner in which we relate to others when we allow them to deal with their own problems and they are therefore free to choose to become responsible for their own issues, while simultaneously we express a loving concern for the nature of their current predicament, and also simultaneously we are not invested in the outcome (this definition is the compilation of numerous definitions of the expression found over the years).

The operative words here are that we remain detached enough so that we do not step in to attempt to resolve their problem, their pain, their issue for them.

It does not mean we care less for them. It does not mean they - and the outcome - are not important to us.

On the contrary, it means we care so much, that we deliberately step back - much like the anxious parent observing a baby take its first tottering steps will also step back in order to let the baby manage on its own - so that the other person will come to that point where they decide to resolve for themselves.

Clearly - just as in the case of the baby, where we are on the lookout for sharp table corners or dangerous steps, where the baby might hit his head or fall down - we are also lovingly present to help the individual with a problem or an issue.

But not to rescue.

When we get into rescue mode, we are generally working for our own agenda:

  • We may need to feel in control
  • we may need to feel strong and invincible
  • We may need to get the payback of the other person's gratitude for what we did
  • We may need to get the payback of allowing ourselves to feel good about ourselves because of what we did (because without it, we find it hard or impossible to feel good about ourselves)
So as rescuer, we are generally not working so much on the other person's issue, as on our own...

Another reason to be compassionately detached is to realize that some persons leach our very life energy out of us ... in their need to discuss their problems, and in their need to be listened to ... over and over and over again ... they become energy vampires. Your will know very quickly when you are with someone like that, because you will feel weak in some fashion after spending some time with them.

So what does that mean?
  1. You are not compassionately detached
  2. You have very poor boundaries because you are willing to listen to something so draining over and over again telling yourself that you are being a good friend, or wife or husband, or mother, etc., while in fact you are enabling the other person's sense of helplessness or of being a victim of life or circumstances.
You are a much better friend, a much better partner, parent or child, and also - a much better therapist, counselor, healer - if you remain compassionately detached, and in that fashion promote self-responsibility and autonomy of action in the other individual.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shoes & Perspective

There is a wonderful story I have heard a number of times about the owners of two shoe factories in different cities in England. Many years ago they each decided to send a salesman to go to Africa in order to drum up more business.

The first one sends home this telegram:

Hopeless situation ... they don't wear shoes here ...

The other one sends this message::

Glorious opportunity ... they don't have any shoes here ...

Which way do you go through life? What do you attract into your life? What choices do you make when you look at situations? Are things hopeless or do you see the glorious opportunity??

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making Life Easier By Deciding To Do So

Life truly is difficult.

Things tend to go wrong for me.

I'm just not so lucky.

Nobody every got anywhere without very hard work.


Do you recognize some of these thoughts? If not exactly the same, then other, similar ones? Are you convinced that life is hard?

Try to imagine the number of times a day you tell yourself that. The number of times a day, as you go about whatever it is you do, that you figuratively nod your head, thinking: yep, this is just another thing that proves how tough things are for me.

Or maybe you try to escape from those awful thoughts, and go about your day, your week, your year by pretending it is not so, only to fall into a hole because you forgot to watch out for those deep, black holes that life prepares for us and because of that you started remembering once again how hard things are.

Either way ... life keeps showing you over and over again that things are hard.

But I posit that there is another way. And by taking me up on my suggestions, the actual events of your life won't change - at least not at first - but what will change is how you see those same events. And then, because you take a new stance, bit by bit, other things will begin to change, and then perhaps, you will begin to notice that life is not so hard after all.

Let's take, for example, a morning that started badly. Your alarm clock didn't work (it's electric, and the electricity went off during the night for 45 minutes). Then, as you raced out the door with no breakfast and a shower that might not have been one, you bang your knee on the door jam, and it's the same knee that started giving you trouble several weeks ago when you slipped and fell on the freshly waxed floor at work. As you get into the car, you realize you told yourself last night while driving home, that you would get gas this morning, that you would get up 15 minutes earlier to have time to do so, but you forgot. So now you need to waste more time doing that, and have not a hope in hell to get to work on time.

Doesn't that prove that life is hard?

OK...so let's take another look. Nothing is different, all you're going to do is decide to look at if from another angle. You are going to find something positive in the events of this day.

Perhaps you will decide that you should have an alarm clock that's not dependent on electricity. (OK, I agree, that's not particularly mind-shattering). Or perhaps you'll decide that you should not leave for tomorrow what you can do today (don't leave the empty tank to be filled tomorrow on the way to work). That one is already a bit more different. In actual fact, if you put that one into action on a consistent basis (not putting off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today, or said in other words, planning more efficiently), you may find that much in your life will change.

Now take it a step further. Make the decision to look at all those things that make life appear to be so hard from the point of view that there is something in there of value for you, something that can take you further down the road to a better, more growth-oriented life. Make the decision that no matter what happens to you, no matter what the circumstance, you will do your utmost to find something in it that can take you a step further, that can move you into a more rich and satisfying life. There is always something new to learn and understand and those events that heretofore you have classified as the proof of life being hard, can now become the events that show you the direction in which you can grow.

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Photo: Bruges, Belgium

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are You Lost In The Woods?

As a child, getting lost in the woods is probably the makings of a worst nightmare. Where is mother? Where is the path? Nothing is recognizable. Why is it so dark? The trees loom so menacingly. The silence is terrifying, but it gets even scarier when there are sudden, unfamiliar forest noises that come from sources that become more and more menacing the longer one imagines what they might be.

As adults we feel something like that when we lose our way. Something happens in life (a diagnosis of cancer, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a major financial loss, a life-threatening illness of a child, the loss of a partner to divorce or abandonment, the outbreak of war, a kidnapping, maybe you lost your home to fire, a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake, maybe you are the victim of identity theft, perhaps you just realized that everything you believed about yourself is not true, etc), and suddenly we feel not only that we are in unfamiliar territory, but that we can not, no matter how hard we try, see a clearly delineated pathway. Darkness abounds, and we truly feel not only that we are in a dark night of the soul, but that none of the familiar landmarks that have served us in the past, are available to us now.

Some individuals, under such circumstances, succumb to victim thinking or to depression, become ill themselves, or in some other way allow this to undo them.

Many others, however, choose another path.

Choosing another path literally means that: finding a new path in the darkness, finding a new path to take you through the woods, even if you don't definitively know that it will actually bring you to the edge of the forest and into the light. All you do know, however, is that if you stay put, if you remain stuck in the place in which you are, nothing will change, and you are not doing anything about your predicament.

It is literally a question of using the darkness and the sensation of being lost to find a new path.

That means being willing to think differently than before the calamitous or earth-shattering event. That means being willing and able to embrace out-of-the-box thinking, which literally means being pro-active about the way one looks at each and every one of the problems - and solutions - that are currently on the table.

Being willing to think out of the box requires being pro-active, self-motivated, and above all, aware of what it was - at least in part - that caused the current circumstances. If they were force majeure and totally out of your hands, such as in the case of a hurricane, it may mean looking at what was lost dispassionately and with detachment, rather than from the point of view of the loss. The position you choose to take regarding your loss or problem, will in many ways determine the kind of eventual outcome you will have, and the speed with which it will come.


Being willing to think out of the box also requires being willing to leave your comfort zone. Yes, I know you have already been thrown out of your comfort zone by the calamity, but you may still choose to remain in it as you go about picking up the pieces of your life in order to put your life back together again as closely as possible to the way it was before. That may not be the best alternative. It's as they say: if you have lemons, make lemonade. So in this sense, leaving your comfort zone may mean to re-think your life on totally different and unknown terms. You may be surprised how much better it winds up feeling to you, even though at first it is all very strange. But growth, change, progress, and transformation tends to come about as we venture out into unknown arenas, and above all, defy our fear of risk and failure. (See also my August 2007 Newsletter: Making Fear of the Unknown Work For You).

Being willing to think out of the box also means being prepared to start making use of your intuition, if you have not already done so. (See also my May 2006 Newsletter: Introducing Our Second and Third Brains: We Do Think With Our Heart and Instinct). Your intuition can literally be one of the most potent tools you can use in order to get back on track. Scientists have conclusively proven (see the article cited in this paragraph) that we have billions of neural cells in our heart and gut, the former dealing with a type of emotional intelligence, and the latter with an intuitive intelligence. Both of these "brains" supply the rational brain (the one in our head) with information - frequently the second and third brains process the information before the rational brain does. Is this not proof enough for you to begin to make use of that fount of information you have been neglecting: your intuition? Is it not proof enough for you to want to begin to develop this as much as the intelligence you have originating in your brain?

Being lost in the woods hence becomes - in simple terms - a situation of which you can choose to take advantage in order to discover new avenues of expression, new avenues of understanding, and new avenues of growth.

Related Articles:

Photo: Charles Ebbets photographed the construction of New York City's skyscrapers in the 30's in order to show the lack of safety measures taken for workers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hot Thought Forms
















What are your hot thought forms? Here are some:
  • jealousy
  • rage
  • envy
  • hatred
  • fear
  • worry
  • anxiety
Why are they hot? Initially because of the way you feel when you have them. And the way they spiral into even hotter thoughts (pain body) if you continue having them.

But the second reason - and potentially even more important one - why they are hot thought forms, is because of the effect they have on our cells. Negative thoughts, especially when they keep coming up from the past, over past hurts and pains, harm the health of our very cells, over and over and over again, if we allow this unfinished business from the past to continue to affect us in the present.

Read more about this in the feature article of my August 2008 newsletter Cellular Responsibility: Getting Your Power Back. If you do not yet receive the monthly newsletter (no cost and it only comes once a month), please click here to subscribe.


Photos: Europe's largest megalithic dolmens in El Torcal, Antequera, Spain

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ships in the Harbor are Safe...

John Shedd, an American professor and author, wrote this in his book Salt From My Attic:

A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships are built.

It's not a point that needs to be belaboured, but I believe we can all take a tip from it. Don't stay in your harbor of safety ... go out to explore new worlds, even if you fear a flat world, or dragons that may eat you alive ... if you don't, you'll never know what was really out there, but if you do, you may discover a whole new world.

Photo: Caral, Peru, the oldest known city of the Americas

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Taking Responsibility For Your Unhappiness

Yeow!

That is not a fun title.

Taking responsibility for your unhappiness sounds like there's no one and nothing left to blame. And that - of course - is what this is all about.

When you are unhappy, it is because you have chosen to be so due to someone not behaving the way you wanted them to, or something not turning out the way you might have it expected to. So life did not go your way. Things simply weren't the way you wanted them to be.

  • your partner forgot your wedding anniversary
  • your boss did not promote you
  • you wanted to go to the beach and when you opened the curtains, you saw it was raining
  • you expected to be able to find the car of your dreams for the budget you had stipulated, and then realized it would cost much more. So now you have to make do with a lesser car
  • you thought the person you had dinner with the first time two nights ago would call you by today, and they have not done so
  • you expected your son to help you with the garden this weekend and he went out with his friends instead
  • you expected your best friend to help you set up your party, and it turns out she forgot!
And so - understandably - you are unhappy.

And of course you believe you are unhappy because of what the other person did or did not do, or because of the situation that did not turn out the way you would have liked it to.

And that is precisely where you need to begin to take responsibility for your unhappiness.

How?

By taking responsibility for your happiness. So if you are unhappy about something, you are the one who can change how you feel. Either by choosing to change how you feel about something. how you think about something, how you view something, or by choosing to do something that will raise your energy to levels where you are able to once again feel happy.

Your happiness is in your hands. If you leave it in the hands of the acts and deeds of others, or in the manner in which situations in your life turn out, you are not free.

Freedom implies being in charge of your happiness.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Puritan Work Ethic, Wu-Wei, and is Life Really Meant to be a Struggle?

Work hard and you will succeed.
Little by little does the trick. (Aesop)
Do every act of your life as if it were your last. (Marcus Aurelius)
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. (Aristotle)

 
Sound familiar?

 
Work Hard to Succeed

Many of us were taught sayings such as these and others along similar lines from early childhood. We know we have to work hard in order to succeed. We know that the hardworking ant will be able to survive the winter, while the grasshopper will not (and might try to scam the ant in order to get some free “stuff”). We know we will sow what we reap, and in order to reap a good harvest, we have to put in a hard day’s work.

 
Or do we? Maybe we’re just looking at the whole thing through a pair of smudged glasses.

 
Puritan Work Ethic

 
The Puritan (or Protestant) work ethic is a work ethic that was based on the moral values of hard work. It meant that working hard entailed giving service to God. It implies, albeit by inference, that the harder one works, the more moral one is. Hence, having been raised to believe this, some people feel guilty if they are not working hard all the time. It is as though hard work were equated with being a good person, and furthermore, if one works hard enough, one will in all likelihood have a positive result not only in the moral arena, but also in the more mundane, worldly one.

 
This can play havoc with the manner in which people deal with their vacation or free time, as during such a period, theoretically, one is not working, And yet we’ve all seen people working on their laptops at the beach, or reading a heavy business tome or corporate financial statement on a pleasure cruise. Are they all workaholics, or simply people who feel guilty if they aren’t working most of the time?

 
This can also confuse your sense of self esteem and accomplishment, because evidently many people work very hard, and are very good people indeed, and yet they are nowhere near financial or professional success.

 
Thinking Out of the Box

 
Far be it from the purpose of this article to convince you to slack off and become successful by lounging in a hammock on a palm-studded beach as you sip a piña colada. My intention is not to separate you from your hard-working self. It is simply to help you think out of the box with regards to how you look at hard work. Perhaps hard work is not all it’s made out to be. Perhaps we need to focus on working less in order to make our hard work bring greater success. If that sounds like a conundrum, read on.

 
Wu-Wei

 
Wu-wei is a term from Taoist philosophy meaning “non-action” or “non-doing”. In Fritjof Capra’s Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations with Remarkable People, it is referred to as ”not working against the grain of things, of waiting for the right moment without forcing anything unduly.” Capra speaks of remaining alert and focused on one’s purpose in order to achieve success in one’s endeavour. You might say that wu-wei refers to working hard at going with the flow, or simply, at going with the flow.

 
An example from everyday life might apply to someone who is starting a business. Working hard in the Puritan work ethic sense would be to start early every morning and work until late every night, going down every possible road, and if pitfalls arose, to batter through them, to break down any impediment, and to keep on until every avenue were explored. Hardships would be endured, obstacles annihilated, no stone left unturned in order to find the way to make the business a success. Should, despite such hard work, success still be elusive, one might say “well it wasn’t for lack of trying”.

 
Going With the Flow

 
Here’s how the wu-wei alternative might play itself out: the same person is starting a new business. Working hard would not necessarily mean the long hours as much as long thinking and being alert to opportunities. Realizing that when one avenue gets blocked, rather than trying very hard to break up the blockage, it might be wiser to go down another, more readily flowing and open avenue, in order to find a potential benefit there. It might mean working hard at becoming aware of what was playing itself out around one, in order to flow with those particular circumstances and benefit from them, rather than going against the flow and having to work so hard to break down obstacles and barriers. Remaining aware of the focus; remaining aware of the intention, and being open to whatever may open up at any given moment seems to make much more sense than to blindly “plug on” simply because hard work reaps success. The next time you are out in the countryside, watch a leaf floating down a stream. What happens when it gets stuck in some rocks? It allows the current to left it off the rocks, away from the obstacles, and continue down where the water runs smoothly, where it can travel more easily, because it is going with the flow.

 
Is Life Really Meant to be a Struggle?

 
Stuart Wilde wrote an extraordinary little book in the 80’s called Life was Never Meant to be a Struggle. In it he extols the virtues of understanding that if most of your life you have been told, and then continue telling yourself that life is meant to be a struggle, you will most definitely end up believing that. So then, if something works easily for you, you won’t want to believe it’s for real…you will mistrust the ease with which you accomplished it, and hence, needing to feel that in order for you to accomplish something worthwhile, you have to work hard for it, you will sabotage your easily won victory. Why? So that your outer life conforms to your inner expectations or beliefs.

 
Sound familiar? Apply this to business, money, love and relationships, spirituality, health, keeping age at bay, body weight, and any other area of potential struggle you care to name.

 
So what does Wilde suggest?

 
Inner Freedom

 
Identify the causes of struggle in your life, and recognize that struggle is actually a programmed response. Struggle is akin, in many senses, to anguish about the area of life in which you are struggling. Whenever there is a programmed response – in this case struggle - it will take some time and practice to re-program yourself – in this case to a more flowing response. Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) writes “Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life”. (See also my January 2006 Newsletter: Living in the Now: Use it to Enrich Your Life).

 
Going to a state of instant peace whenever you feel anxious, worried, angry, or afraid moves you from your body to your mind and emotions, and finally to your spirit. (See also my article Entering the Now Moment by Leaving Unawareness Behind). Similarly, Wilde says that in order to achieve freedom from struggle, you just need “the ability to place yourself in a non-confrontive mode” with all issues in your life, both internal and external to yourself. As you become more and more positive and balanced, struggle begins to give way to inner calm. “Inner calm allows you to pull more and more opportunities to yourself because energy seeks its own kind.” See also my March 2006 Newsletter: Intentional Focus: Your Happiness, Your Success, and the Law of Attraction). James Allen (As A Man Thinketh – click here to get free e-book) says “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts”.

 
Imagine dealing with life and all you do in it as though you were a child playing a game. Is there any reason it can’t be like that? Any reason it shouldn’t be like that? Imagine if your work; whatever it is you do in life were like an enjoyable game. That every day when you got up, you would be looking forward to playing this game again. And imagine furthermore, that this wonderful game were what gives – in part – meaning to your life! (See also my article Finding a Meaning For Your Life).

 
So it stands to reason that keeping your thoughts balanced, positive, and energetic will go a lot further towards bringing you that which your strive for, rather than arduous struggle. Achieving inner freedom by getting such a handle on your thoughts will go a long way towards achieving the outer freedom for which we all yearn.



Photo: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Are Your Addictions?

I can just hear you saying: I don’t have any addictions. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t snort cocaine, and I certainly don’t shoot heroin. I don’t have any eating disorders and I don’t gamble.

Good. Glad to hear that.

Addictions Go Down Many Strange Byways


How about work? Have you ever had your partner complain that you spend too much time there?
  • How about shopping? Did you ever cringe when the credit card bills came in at the end of the month and you realized that once again you had spent far more money than you have?
  • Now how about judging other people? You do that more than just a bit? Like quite often? So that’s an addiction. Judging other people is something we can get addicted to. If you try to stop you will notice that it is almost as hard to do as saying good-bye to your cigarettes.
  • Then there’s criticizing others.
  • And stereotyping others.
  • And being a fitness buff way beyond just being healthy about your body.
  • Making money is a good one. There’s an addiction that masks as something totally different … perhaps even being responsible …
  • Socializing to the point of not wanting (or being able) to be alone.
  • Being a news junkie.
  • Remaining young … better said: wanting to remain young. So the addiction is going after whatever it is you believe will keep you young: creams, clothes, injections, surgery, retreats, sports, etc. None of these things by themselves are wrong, it’s the desperate and continued and addictive search to remain young that keeps you from your life. (see also these posts on my blog about this topic)
  • Complaining? (You might like to listen to my radio show about the subject … note that this particular audio clip will be up about the second week of July 2008)
  • Feeling blue … now how’s that for an addiction?
  • Feeling like you are a victim.
  • Not letting go of old wounds. (Check out Caroline Myss’ Woundology and my blog article about it Woundology).
  • How about being addicted to another human being? Can’t be without them? Need their presence? Feel like something is terribly wrong when they are not totally happy with you? This generally means someone we think we are in love with, but it could also be a child or a friend or anyone…stalkers of celebrities are an extreme example of this type of addiction. (See also my July 2006 Newsletter: I Need You…I Need You Not)
  • Blaming others. Uff … that’s one to write home about. You are allowed to get off scot free, as long as you have someone to blame. And as long as you do, you don’t really live your own life. (See also my November 2007 Newsletter: Grow in Richness: Stop the Blaming).
  • Living at any time other than the now; always moving into the past or the future in your thoughts (See also my January 2006 Newsletter: Living in the Now: Use it To Enrich Your Life and my May 2008 Newsletter: Where Are You Now?)
  • Addicted to hanging on to bad feelings
  • Being addicted to gossiping.
  • Social power. Being addicted to someone else’s social power. Being in the reflection of their sun. Rubbing shoulders with them, their social contacts, and the remainder of their entourage.
  • Not forgiving. (See also these posts on my blog about this topic)
  • Excusing others for their bad behavior. Not calling the shots when you should. Having unhealthy boundaries (see also my October 2007 newsletter: Finding it Hard to Love Yourself? Check Out Your Boundaries and my July 2007 Newsletter: Emotional Unavailability: An Introduction).
Not Me. No. Definitely Not Me!

No, no, you say to me. Those things you’ve been writing about in this article are not addictions. Now look here … if I judge or criticize another person, I have a good reason.
  • Look at those racists in that African country.
  • Or look at the lack of humanitarianism in the members of the regime of Myanmar after the cyclone hit.
  • Or look at my boss … he is so unethical … he simply takes all the credit for work we’ve all done as a team
  • And what about my daughter? She’s nuts … taking drugs and going out with those tattooed guys that wear earrings
  • And speaking of earrings … what about those teenage girls that get a diamond inserted into their belly button?
  • And don’t get me started on those women that let themselves go after they hit menopause
    And the pastor at my church! He has such an ego. All he wants to do is hear himself speak, so his sermons are far too long, And so boring.
  • So you can see I have very good reasons to judge others … I certainly don’t do any of that stuff!
Right. I’m sure you don’t. But you judge others for doing those things. And furthermore, you don’t seem to be able to stop doing so. All I’m trying to point out to you is that you have an addiction to judging other people.

Ok, you say, maybe you’re right. Since I have read what you wrote, I actually tried to stop judging or criticizing people – even if it was just in my mind, and I realized that it would be quite hard to do.

So what??
you ask.

Here’s what…

Becoming What You Truly Can Be

As long as you are addicted – to anything – you will not be able to become what you truly can become. You will be a splintered personality, as Gary Zukav called it in The Seat of the Soul. And the reason is because as long as you have addictions – of any kind – you are using the addictions to live your life for you. You use them to cope. You use them to cover up any difficult feelings. You use them to soothe yourself. You use them, in other words, to live your life for you, because without them, you are not able to. See also Making Choices: Taking Responsibility For Our Lives from my February 2006 Newsletter)

There is some analogy here to Eckhart Tolle’s pain body, or Chris Griscom’s emotional body, insomuch as they speak of the pull, the attraction, the seductive lure of that part of our life that causes us pain, because we know that place so well.

Your Addictions Live Your Life for You

Your addictions live your life for you because they make choices for you.

Here are some examples:
  • You send a letter or email via your assistant. Something is written incorrectly and you don’t catch it. It means a big loss to your bottom line. You rage at your assistant for his carelessness. By being addicted to blaming, your choice is to not take responsibility for your own part in the mess (the buck stops with you). Hence you have no insights about yourself and do nothing differently. And nothing changes.
  • Your partner is not pleased with the fact that you have an opinion that does not coincide with hers. She gives you the silent treatment for a week. You suffer abjectly. The pain is horrendous. You don’t know what to do to make your partner be nice to you again. Finally you apologize, even though you know you did nothing wrong, and a while later, life is good again. By hanging on to your addiction to feeling bad, your choice is to not take responsibility for your own part in the mess (your unhealthy boundaries). Hence you have no insights about yourself and do nothing differently. And nothing changes.
  • You wake up on the weekend you were planning to drive to the country for some down time. The weather has turned overnight and it’s raining and dark out. You phone a friend and begin to complain about the unfairness of life and you complain about the fact that on those rare occasions when you decide to take a few days for yourself, something always goes wrong. Then you complain about the fact that on top of everything else, your hot water heater broke down and you can’t have a hot shower. By hanging on to your addiction to complaining, your choice is to not take responsibility for your own part in the mess (your attitude). Hence you have no insights about yourself and do nothing differently. And nothing changes.
There is an excellent section on this whole topic of addictions by Caroline Myss on her CD set called Advanced Energy Anatomy.

How Can it Change?


This is not rocket science. If you’ve been following these articles I send out every month, you’ll know at least one or two of the steps: Become aware of your addiction/s. Make the choice to make different choices each time you become conscious of falling back into your addiction/s. In other words, you make the choice to become responsible for all of you. Becoming responsible for all of you literally means owning all of what you think, feel, say, and do. Owning it, means you deal with it as you think, feel, say, or do it, rather than using an addiction to deal with it.

Let me say that again: Owning it, means you deal with it as you think, feel, say, or do it, rather than using an addiction to deal with it.

By applying some will power to this process, you will become stronger and stronger in this department, and then you will do it automatically because the addiction will no longer be controlling your choices. And then you are on the road to self responsibility and above all, inner freedom