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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

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Tracks You Leave Behind


Sometimes you are the first to take a given road - even if that road is only in your local neighbourhood. Sometimes you have the courage to walk down a path no one has walked on before - even if that path is only in your school / company / circle of friends. Sometimes you become a trailblazer - necessarily a global trailblazer, but a trailblazer in a specific arena. Sometimes you leave footprints for others to follow in; footprints that show those who come after you where the pitfalls lie and where it's safe to step, and especially which of those steps, or which succession of steps takes them to unimagined heights. Sometimes those footprints take those who come after you towards magnificent views and panoramic vistas stretching far into the horizon, and sometimes those others realize that thanks to following in your steps they just managed to avoid falling down a deep chasm at the side.

Trailblazing and leaving steps for others to follow is a very important - and potentially far-reaching - responsibility. If you know you are doing this, take special care to be very aware of the nature of the steps you are leaving behind. Also take special care to ensure that those footprints are indeed ones that you yourself would wish to tread in, were you one of the ones to follow. The more conscious you are of what you leave for others to observe, and the more you take this responsibility seriously, the more it is likely that the tracks you leave will prove to be of great advantage for those who follow.

The fact that people who may walk in the tracks you have left behind doesn't signify they will stay in your tracks all their life - it simply means they may follow in them for a space of time, or for a particular aspect of their lives. So this isn't about converting anyone to your cause or belief structure so that they then follow your tracks, or of becoming a guru who leads others who follow in your steps, but rather, about being aware of the importance of all the tracks that you leave, because anyone, at any time, may follow in them for some steps. And hopefully those steps will have been left behind by you in such a way that they illuminate, inspire, encourage, and support those who walk in them.

What tracks are you leaving behind today?

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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, August 27, 2014

Planting Your Inner Garden


Friends bought a house with a large garden about 10 years ago. I've seen it on numerous occasions over the years, and visiting recently, I was gratified to see how their work had paid off with a multitude of trees, grasses, blooms, and climbing vines giving cooling shade and brilliant hues to this garden. I have no doubt that in another decade, I will be even more amazed at its beauty.

The willingness to put in the work in order to have achieved this garden that offers such delight to the senses, not only because of its obvious visual splendor, but also because of its auditory pleasures: the wind through the trees and bamboos, and the birds and insects that are attracted to it, is a wonderful analogy for much of what happens in our lives.

What of your inner garden? Are you caring for it, planting seeds that will bring you a rich harvest in years to come? Are you watering and fertilizing it with love and care, so that nothing (that need not) withers and dies? Are you mulching to protect the soil? Are you also content to sit back and - perhaps in solitude and silence - enjoy the times when most of your garden lies fallow, waiting for more obviously productive and verdant times to arrive when spring returns? Do you rejoice in the never-ending cycle of birth, life, and death?

Jorge Luis Borges wrote: So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. If you wait for someone to bring you flowers - which we could interpret as waiting to find fulfillment or happiness through another (or a thing), you will always depend on that (or those) other/s to be there for you in the specific way you need for them to make you happy or to feel fulfilled. If they (or it) should disappear from your life, where would you be? Another way of interpreting this is to consider the masses of people who are waiting and hoping for a particular thing or event to take place (a hoped-for trip, a coveted purchase, weight-loss, a promotion, etc.), so that then - finally - they can feel good. Waiting for someone (life) to bring you flowers of this sort, is another exercise in futility, if you are not planting your own garden (in which case you would not be doing this kind of waiting anyway).

Planting your own garden and decorating your own soul are perhaps two of the most important and life-giving things you can do for yourself. What are you planting today?

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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.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pure Joy


It's easy to visualize the pure, unadulterated joy of a small child. To see his fascination and awe as he discovers his world, examines ants carrying loads of breadcrumbs on their backs, gazes at the brilliant hues of summertime blooms, marvels at the fleeting magic of a multi-colored soap bubble, feels the shock of cold ocean water on his plump feet and ankles on a hot July morning, watches the distant flight of a seagull overhead, hears any kind of music - flamenco - for example, and feels the rhythm in his small body, touces the warm, furry body of a purring kitten, and tastes - for the first time - a watermelon, a banana, an avocado.

You know about this, not generally because you remember it from your own childhood, but because you are able to observe it in small children.

When do you feel that way? When does that kind of amazing joy filter through you? A friend of mind flies small planes. I imagine these feelings may suffuse him when he's out there twirling and swirling through the skies. Another friend surfs in Hawaii. I also imagine feelings of that nature going through him when he's coming down from the crest of a massive wave. Another friend sails ... often alone or in company of only one other, and again, I find it easy to imagine that kind of joy flooding his being. And while I have no high-trekking mountain-climbing friends, I also imagine they have that joy.

Many people feel great joy when they are about to see loved ones who live far away, or when they contemplate their next vacation. Others may feel great joy when they're making major purchases, such as a car or house, or when they reach a goal, receive a diploma or degree, make a sale of some kind in their business, or sign a contract, release a music CD, have an art exhibition, or publish a book. Joy comes in many forms.

But most of the above depends on very specific conditions, meaning that joy only comes if those conditions are met. Compare that to the child's joy I described in the first paragraph above. What's the difference? Isn't it true that the child finds joy, amazement, and fascination at just about every opportunity life presents along the way? Isn't it also true that the child is highly aware of its surroundings? And while it is true that an adult will rarely again have that first experience of eating a new food, or seeing something mundane for the first time, what is true, is that the adult can choose to find joy in those mundane experiences all over again - even - on occasion, seeing it all as if it were the first time.

How often do you really savour the incredible sweetness of a raspberry as you bite into it? Or the tartness of a plum? Or the juiciness of a ripe peach? How about your first java of the day? Does the startling purple of bougainvillea covering a white-washed wall fill you with pleasure? How often do you thrill at seeing a view you have seen dozens of times before? I live on Spain's southern coast, where Gibraltar and Africa may pop into my field of vision any day, depending on the mist and the haze, and I always glory in seeing them again, yet I have had people visiting, who have said, once they saw them the first time, if I point them out again on another day: been there, done that, which clearly signifies that they are robbing themselves of the possibility of joy.

Joy can be found where you seek it out, and where you are willing to be aware enough to see it. Have you had any pure joy today?

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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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Lotus Inside of You


Growing into adulthood in our modern society, most of us, especially in our western civilization, have taken on much of the murkiness that pervades life in general. It has come to take up residence, so to speak, within us. The elements that we are all so familiar with: greed, anger, spite, envy, competitiveness that goes to any lengths to win, self-righteousness, lies, selfishness, arrogance, and sloth, to mention only a few, form a major part of this. And prior to that societal murkiness, perhaps we had already taken on the twisted and sometimes very painful, dark, and incomprehensible dysfunctionality of our own family.

Societal murkiness and dark dysfunctionality make for a muddiness inside ourselves, a lack of light and clarity, a lack of peace and harmony, a lack of healthy self-love and self-caring, as well as a lack of freedom from these constrictions.

One of the symbolic meanings of the lotus is that just as the flower emerges from the mud - indeed, it needs the mud; the darkness, the murky context of that damp morass, in order to be able to flourish and present itself to us in all its brilliance - so we too can take a path that will lead us to the state of the lotus within, a state of enlightenment. And although I borrow the word from spiritual literature, I use it here in a more practical sense.

Allow that inner self to emerge from the murkiness and dark by becoming conscious of the fact that such a process lies in your hands. Take on responsibility for yourself and your growth, responsibility for your inner freedom, joy and harmony, and for your self-love. Choose to do this from a position of conscious awareness that there are always choices to be made, and absolutely each choice leads to a different set of consequences. Which consequences are you choosing today?

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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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self-Talk: Friend or Foe?


Your inner world of self-talk is most generally not conscious. Self-talk implies thoughts. And most people get lost in their world of thoughts without recognizing that it has happened. Why this happens has much to do with how interested you are in consciously being able to make good choices about those thoughts / that self-talk, and specifically, in how much you have decided to make a practice of being conscious.

Self-talk about anything at all can be both friend and foe. Take the example of playing golf. You swung badly. Your ball went into the water, or so far off to the left into the trees, that you still haven't found it after 10 minutes of hunting for it. All this time your self-talk is on. What are you saying to yourself about that poor shot? Whatever it is, those words; those thoughts, are either your friend or your foe. Depending on that self-talk, you now are gently beginning to feel better about having swung so badly, or you are feeling far, far worse.

Let's take another example. You've been offered a new position at an outstanding firm. It even implies a substantial raise, as well as a move to one of the world's most exciting cities. You need to give your final answer by Monday. As you mull over it, your self-talk is on. What are you saying to yourself about that challenge? Whatever it is, those words; those thoughts, are either your friend or your foe. Depending on that self-talk, you now are slowly beginning to feel very apprehensive about taking on such a huge challenge, and leaving your family and friends behind, or you are filled with adrenaline, anticipation, and a sense of your future opening up for you.

A final, and much more personal example might be about having gone on a date with a new person. You very much enjoyed him/her. You anticipate future dates and perhaps - who knows? - even more. However, time has gone by and you haven't had any contact. Perhaps you've reached out, and there has been no reply to your message, or perhaps this person had said they would contact you shortly, but has not done so. As time goes by, your self-talk is on. What are you saying to yourself about this situation? Whatever it is, those words; those thoughts, are either your friend or your foe. Depending on that self-talk, you now are beginning to believe there could be something wrong or lacking with you and that explains why there has been no contact, or you are aware of the fact that you have no control over another individual, and how they behave, but whatever they do or don't do, it is not a reflection on yourself.

Becoming aware of your thoughts is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It also brings much peace to your life.

Image: Kevin H., National Geographic: A blue heron in the last rays of a setting sun, Great Falls National Park, MD 

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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.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Your Gut & Depression


In light of Robin William's recent passing (and without any direct knowledge of his specific condition), and with the sole desire of bringing some information that may be useful for some readers, have a look at this 2013 article in Scientific American Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression that states "researchers have found evidence of bacterial translocation, or "leaky gut" among people with depression".

It specifically indicates that leaky gut may have a direct link to depression, further stating that the causes of leaky gut are:
  • regular use of painkillers and/or antibiotics
  • infections (such as HIV)
  • autoimmune disorders
  • alcohol abuse
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • gluten hypersensitivity
  • severe food allergies
  • radiation therapy
  • inflammatory disorders
  • psychological stress
  • exhaustion
Further, it appears there is a link between gut bacteria and Parkinson's and as you may know, Parkinson's is also frequently correlated with depression. Source

In an article I posted here in May of this year: Improving Gut Health Improves Mood, I had already discussed the fact that scientists have been demonstrating for some time that what lies in our second brain - the gut - may very well influence our mood, indeed, whether we are depressed or not. In other words, healthy bacteria - or the absence thereof - in our gut affects our mood.

Please become proactive with your own health. Not by becoming your own doctor, but by informing yourself, so that you are also able to have a say in it. Believe it or not, this too, is part of loving yourself.

Image: Cenote, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico


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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, August 13, 2014

That Elusive Inner Peace


No magic formulas here. No silver bullets. Just the daily practice that makes it possible. Inner peace needs attention on a daily basis for it to become a marked presence in your life.

Why would you think achieving a measure of inner peace is any different than keeping your body toned? Or your teeth clean? Spending some time on raising the quality of your inner peace - say, for example, as much time as you spend on FB or other social media per day - would move you into a place, and this I promise you, where life would gain an irrevocable quality of inner harmony - even if your outer life resembles a runaway roller coaster.

Things - those things that happen to all of us and disturb our thoughts, feelings, and well-being - would have much less power to upset you. And furthermore, each day that you continue to give that amount of time to developing your inner peace, would make that quality of harmony stronger and stronger.

There's a famous quote by Zig Ziglar, that I have frequently mentioned. People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well neither does bathing. That's why we recommend doing it daily. And of course the same applies to many of those other inner things we want.

Inner peace is everyone's right, but rarely comes about just because or through wishful thinking. It must be cultivated. Much can be achieved by emulating others who have gone before us - if you know what they did - or if you read their writing (or listen to their clips, now so readily available on the internet).

Another form of cultivating it - perhaps the most direct way because it has the power to so directly impact on your daily life - is paying attention to your thoughts - that in turn cause your emotions. One of the ways of doing this is following a mindfulness practice. I have described a tantalizingly simple way of doing this here in my posts and refer to it frequently. You can find it here. Doing this on a daily basis will initially show you the power your thoughts have over you, and as you continue doing it, will allow you to be the one who is in charge of those thoughts. That is one of the most direct steps to inner peace. And the process is so simple. All you have to do is practice it every day.

If you want more scientific and detailed information about why it works, and how it has been demonstrated to work, in study after study, on issues such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, OCD, and numerous other problems, start by looking up Jon Kabat-Zinn on YouTube and listen to some of his talks for a detailed background on mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh - a Buddhist monk who was the one who initially introduced Kabat-Zinn to mindfulness - is another wonderful source, freely available on the web.

Remember: finding a good measure of inner peace is easy, but only if you do your part: practice every day.

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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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wishing Your Life Away


Getting out of bed and wishing it were already evening so you could relax. Working out at the gym, wishing you were already done, so you could have breakfast. Sitting in traffic and wishing you were already at work. Sitting at work, looking at the clock and wishing it were time to go home. Standing in line at the bank or supermarket and wishing you were already at the top of the line. Having dinner with the family and wishing it were already done so you could watch that new episode of the series you are following on TV. Thinking it's only Monday and wishing it were already Friday. Looking at the calendar and wishing it were already the month that you go on holidays. Lying on an idyllic beach and wishing it were already evening so you could go to that upscale night club after dinner. Lying on that idyllic beach and thinking that this afternoon is really going to be fun because of that trail ride you've booked.

You (me, and all the rest of us) wish your life away by having thoughts of this nature and other similar ones in any situation you can possibly imagine.

Why?

Because we are never (or rarely) in the present moment. We don't know how to stay there. We have no clue. Often we even flee from it. Or may be afraid of it. It implies being on our own at times, and it certainly implies knowing how to be in a quiet place inside ourselves.

What does being present really mean? Being here and now with all your senses, but most particularly with your thoughts. When your thoughts (or wishes) take you to another time in the past or particularly the future, you are literally wishing your life away.

Imagine sitting on a blanket in a field of late summer wild flowers with your young children and your spouse. Imagine thinking and worrying about work issues or problems. Imagine what such worry and stress does to your energy field and how that might impact on those who are with you. Imagine furthermore, having occasional thoughts about the awards dinner you will be attending that evening that fills you with pride, but also some trepidation. Now your energy field is even more confused and your feelings are also more muddled, as they have been impinged upon by so many thoughts that are not germane to the moment in which you find yourself. Why? Because you are not being present.

Being present in such a moment would mean some of the following:

  • being filled with the wild aroma of the flowers surrounding you
  • hearing the joy in your children's voices as they revel in being out there, and most particularly, in being out there with their parents
  • it would mean hearing the buzz and murmur of insects as they fly about in your vicinity, and the soft sighs of the wind as it passes though the trees above you
  • it would mean being aware of the presence of your partner in that moment, and being able to delight in words - unspoken or not - that pass between you two as you look at each other over the heads of your children
  • being present would mean that you would not only be able to indulge in this activity yourself, but you would be fascinated by the interest with which your children observe the path of an ant through the stalks of grass, as it carries a crumb from the sandwiches you brought with you.

Such is being present. Such is living your life instead of wishing it away. Such is assuming mastery over your thoughts which leads to mastery over your emotions.

Please click on the labels below for more posts on these subjects.

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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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saying Hello to the Unknown


Leaving the familiar behind is not something all of us do easily. It may create stress, worry, and fear, and therefore many people do their best to avoid it. Yet it is at the threshold of the unknown that growth, expansion, and adventure may take place.

How else was the New World discovered, how else did the first moon landing take place? How else were so many of the objects we take for granted invented? The submarine, the airplane, the microscope, and the printing press, not to mention digital technology in all its wonders that lead us to even more 'magical' discoveries!

I am also reminded of a 2008 movie I've enjoyed so much that over the years I've seen it several times. It relates the true story of a journalist out to get a coveted scoop, yet who winds up on some strange by-ways due to the vagaries of his situation, and is then faced with the unknown which he not only fears, but which - in modern terms - freaks him out. Nevertheless, he takes on the challenge, never realizing the riches that will come to him thanks to it. The title of that film is The Children of Huang Shi.

And on a very personal level, when you leave a familiar job routine to take on a promotion with greater responsibilities, even if you remain within the same firm, or when you leave a comfortable job to take on a new one, even if it's in the same city, but with new colleagues, new systems, and many other unknown factors, or when you start a new relationship, when you have a child, when you move to a new city or country, when you start some inner work on yourself (whether in therapy or otherwise), when you start a degree at university, or even simply when you dare to change your appearance in ways that are apparent to others, and hence expose you to comments (good or bad), you are taking a step into the unknown.

How do you greet it? Do you look forward to meeting all the unknown elements of this new sector of your life, in the knowledge that this will change you in ways you are not yet familiar with, and that in that changing, you will not only grow, but also become more of what you can be? Do you allow yourself to see the miraculous in that possibility? Do you actively look for change of this type?

If the answer is a lukewarm yes or a maybe, or perhaps even a downright no, then please remember what I wrote above: it is at the threshold of the unknown that growth, expansion, and adventure take place. Crossing thresholds always implies risks, but frequently also fear. Allow yourself to greet the trepidation, worry, or fear as a friend that has the potential to bring you to new places, and such potential is worth gold. Saying hello to the unknown is frequently akin to greeting a stranger who will somehow show you riches beyond belief.

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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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What Does Judging Do To You?


Judging - not only yourself, but also others - is an exercise in negativity, although some may feel momentarily uplifted by their apparently lofty visions of themselves as opposed to those they are judging.

While the reproduction above of the Last Judgement by Hieronymous Bosch is not exactly about the tenor of today's post, it nevertheless depicts the suffering and degradation you (or I, or anyone) subject yourself to when you judge.

Let's first examine why you judge. Is it not because you either tacitly acknowledge a lack of confidence or feeling good about yourself and hence - by judging another as even 'worse' than yourself - you find a road to feeling better about yourself, or because you don't acknowledge a lack of confidence (while nevertheless, in fact, lacking said confidence), and/or a lack of inner well-being, and so, just as in the other example, you find that you tacitly feel better (at least for a moment), after having had thoughts or words about someone whom you consider further down on some kind of artificial scale than yourself?

I hope you can see what is wrong with this picture. Firstly, it's ego-based. Your ego is the part of you that falsely believes it will feel better by judging or denigrating others. And most of the time you do - but only for a bit. Then it's back to same old, same old. So you have achieved nothing, other than a few moments of feeling better, in exchange for having created - inside of yourself - negative energy by having such thoughts, or speaking such words about someone else. Secondly, it builds on a premise that never moves you forward. By using negative, judgemental thoughts about another to make yourself feel good, or to give yourself confidence - while, even if only momentarily believing that you yourself live according to another, loftier, higher standard - you defeat any mechanism that might truly move your spirit in a higher direction.

Without belaboring the point, here is another way to go about this business of improving a lack in confidence or inner well-being. Try catching yourself each time you 'hear' thoughts or words of judgement pour from you. To catch yourself, you obviously need to practice being aware, so that in the moment that you do catch yourself, you can truncate those thoughts or words by telling yourself that they will only give you a false sense of improved confidence or inner well-being at the expense of another (who may or may not be as you are on the verge of expressing, but how that person is or is not, is simply not germane to your ultimate inner sense of confidence and well-being), and that by sending a silent blessing to the person or group of people, or race, religion, or nation you were about to denigrate, you will begin to change important aspects of your inner wiring that will - eventually - allow you to feel not only greater self-confidence, but also much greater inner well-being and love for yourself.

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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.