“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra
All of us have a past, a history that we cherish, warm memories that makes us smile inside. But have you ever found yourself stuck in a story that you no longer want to play a part in? An old narrative that family or friends have cast you in? There are several ways to replace the worn out tapes of negativity with positive messages that will strengthen your ability to walk the plank. By walking the plank, I mean leaving behind the familiar and taking a leap into the ocean of possibility.
Letting go asks you to stop listening to stories that spout off negative messages of “you can’t or you shouldn’t.” Abandoning these narratives, gives you permission to step or leap over obstacles into the pasture of prospects and opportunity. The body responds to stories the mind spins whether they are true or not. By creating positive mental images and narratives, the body and psyche begin to shift; to believe that there are options and alternatives. Try replacing the “I can’t do this because I’m not…” with I can and see how the borders of your life expand.
Try to define yourself with what you can do rather than what eludes you. A friend was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at a young age and was given a list of do’s and don’ts. When she became an adult she began to study yoga and meditation empowering herself with new ideas that led her to realize her full potentiality. She released the story that had sold her limitations. Physically she grew strong and mentally she let go of fear.
How though do we step by step revise the stories that chain us to feelings of inadequacies? Here are a few ideas that may encourage you:
• Sit in stillness. Give yourself time to unravel the day’s “to do” list. This allows your mind to rest and recharge. It is difficult to re-write a negative narrative when your mind is exhausted. Sitting in stillness also allows you time to identify those narrative that don’t serve your best interest any longer. Stillness (even ten minutes) provides a sanctuary to go within a safe haven to observe your inner feelings and desires.
• Once you have honed in on a story you want to change, start small and steer clear of shame and blame. The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Take one story or thought at a time and gently re-write the scenario.
• Practice re-directing your thoughts and stories. Imagine batting them away or see them float past like a cloud out of your mind and body.
• Replace I can’t language with I can and I will. When revising a new story make yourself the hero. Whatever it is that you want to change or let go of imagine doing just that and say it out loud to yourself.
• Write it down. A good story or book tantalizes our imaginations; we see in our minds eye what the printed words suggest. Do the same for yourself. Write your story. Maybe you want to be an artist but were told by your parents that isn’t practical. Now is the time to erase that advice and pick up a paintbrush. Call yourself an artist, put notes around the house to remind yourself that you are worthy of following a dream or passion. Recall that person that loved your sketch or photograph.
By taking the time to let go of stories that hold you back, your load will be light enough to move forward into the horizon of change. Enjoy the revisions and writing the new version, the updated edition of you!
With the passing of Labor Day, we are reminded of the pleasures traditions offer us. How they are a rich fabric of our lives, if we pay homage to them. Have you ever stopped for a moment and reflected on the value of your own traditions? Perhaps the grind of modern life has caused you to let go of cherished familial, cultural, or holiday customs. Carving out time for a tradition can restore your sense of connection while providing opportunities to create new memories.
Traditions are a wonderful way to catch up with people you love. They can be as simple as a once a month coffee or as extravagant as meeting for a vacation each year. Maybe your neighborhood has an annual potluck supper? By taking the time to participate, you build and strengthen relationships. You also develop a sense of belonging, which combats feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Honoring tradition helps you establish your own personal identity. When you choose to celebrate with others, whether they are family or friends, this is a beautiful expression of what values you hold dear. Often out of respect for the deeper meaning behind the tradition, you may re-arrange a work-week or forgo a routine. Maybe you and your spouse decide that every Wednesday you have a date night away from the children. Or you commit to a spiritual practice. These micro adjustments can be powerful testimonies to what you value in life. Traditions are often examples or inspirations for others to follow their belief systems.
Children adore traditions. Think back to your own family traditions; my great aunt Rose would make honey cake and my mom would make a chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting that to this day when I think of either I feel warm and fuzzy inside. Celebrating with your children can help build bonds while giving them a glimpse of their ancestral heritage. Traditions connect children to their cultural and familial past and paint a picture they can carry with them. They give them a safe sense of belonging and security in a changing world.
Traditions can be modified or adapted to better serve those participating. Perhaps your family doesn’t eat meat, rather than turkey for Thanksgiving you gather over a scrumptious vegetarian meal. All the essential elements are still there; the preparation, the togetherness, the laughter, the breaking bread. New traditions can be initiated as well at any time. They can be serious or silly. I had a friend who started a tradition of “birthday elves” for her children. She would decorate with balloons and streamers the night before her children’s birthdays. In the morning the kids would be delighted to find the elves once again had remembered them. The interesting thing was, even when the children grew to teenagers they still wanted a visit from the birthday elves!
When traditions come from the heart, they allow us time to express our emotions. To commemorate a passed loved one with an annual ceremony gives expression of the love and life of that person. Traditions give us permission to step off life’s merry-go-round and to reflect. By keeping relished traditions we create a haven for ourselves and our children; a place where we recognize the relevance of our past and the importance of our future.
As the fall season fast approaches, perhaps allow yourself time to renew the gift of celebrating traditions. Evaluate those that have meaning to you and have somehow been neglected. By weaving traditions into your life, the fabric of your life will be richer.
Practicing the Art of Silence
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny
― Lao Tzu
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed, confused or even fearful
and not exactly sure why? With the hustle and bustle of modern life,
negative thoughts and energy can creep into our psyche but that doesn’t mean
they have to stay. As the summer slowly winds down this is a wonderful time to
take a trip inward to exam feelings of negativity that may be keeping you from
living a more vibrant life. Accumulating negative energy can be as subtle
as the changing of seasons and you may not notice it until you stop for a
moment to reflect on your inner feelings. The good news is that once you
become aware of negative energy you can uproot it with five simple steps that
will put you back on a positive path and keep you there.
Becoming Aware of negative influences is the first step to eliminating them. Are
there toxic people in your life those chronic complainers that are unwilling to
entertain change? Have you stopped doing the things you enjoy such as
dancing, biking, strolling on the beach or simply reading a book? Take
stock of what you listen to on the radio and television. Do you overload
on news or jarring music or watch T.V. series laden with violence? Have
you taken on too much work limiting your down-time? All of these questions
can help identify potential sources of draining negative energy. Once you have
taken inventory you can create a plan to implement change.
Reclaim your creativity. Hush the naysayers (real or imaginary) by getting back to the
things you love, those innate gifts that have always been there. Burying
or neglecting these precious parts of yourself can causes a sense of un-fulfillment
or a vague uneasiness. Negative energy often feeds on the fears imposed
by others. By taking action, such as picking up that dusty paint brush, or
joining a poetry class or learning to play an instrument (creativity is
limitless) you will refuel your imagination. You don’t have to be a
Picasso or the next great novelist to enjoy things you are passionate about.
By carving out time for your creative self, you will liberate your true
nature, which ultimately douses negativity. Joseph Chilton Pearce, the
renowned author and lecturer on human development says, “To live a creative
life; we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Let yourself go and be a student
of life again.
Take a walk, ride
a bike, practice yoga or Pilates. The body is meant to move, too much
hunching over devices causes your posture to slump and your spine to shrink and
with it your spirits spiral. Giving your joints and muscles a workout
stimulates endorphins (positive chemicals in the brain) that motivate and
uplift negative moods The side effects of exercise are feeling stronger
and more empowered, which then seeps into all aspects of your life. One
very useful yoga philosophy is change your actions; change your minds. In
other words, by getting the body in motion, we get out of the thinking mind and
the stories it has created. By releasing pent up stress, you free up
space for positive thoughts. If time is an issue, exercise during lunch
or snag an early morning class or put on music in the privacy of your home and
dance. Making exercise a priority is a powerful way to combat fatigue and
stress while paying homage to your body.
Walking can also be an opportunity to re-commune with nature.
Smelling the seasonal scents, whatever they may be, reminds us of our
connection to the earth and one another. Feeling a soft breeze or the warmth of
the sun renews and refreshes our sense of well-being.
Swap out negative language for words of encouragement and support. Write down
affirmations to remind yourself to fold positive vocabulary into
everyday conversations. Observe your remarks and gently replace negative
ones with positives—find that proverbial silver lining. Try finding something
to be grateful for every day. Perhaps tune into inspirational music (and
by this I don’t mean religious) rather than music with negative words or
messages. Find a favorite guided meditation or motivational speaker that
you relate to. Play them when you feel bombarded with negative news or
feedback. Enlisting your sense of hearing is another way to entice
positive energy and this includes the language we use. Soon, exchanging a
negative for a positive phrase will become habit and you’ll find yourself
smiling more and worrying less.
rhythmic breathing melts away anxiety and revives the nervous system, stamping
out negative energy. Experiment with counting to four as you inhale, pause, and
then count to four as you exhale. Do this for several minutes, maybe close your
eyes and visualize a comforting place; the ocean or a favorite park.
Listen to sounds of nature (either live or on your phone or CD player).
Seeking out solitary moments to breathe with awareness quiets the mind. Traveling
inward is like taking a mini vacation from daily demands. Before long those
negative impulses will float away leaving space for a calm mindset that you can
These are but a few suggestions to help you reclaim a positive,
vivacious life that serves your truest self as you enjoy the remaining August
Have you ever tried to be creative but find yourself stuck in the same old way of thinking or doing? This can be frustrating when you need your imagination and out-of-the-box perspective for work or a project. The pressure you may put on yourself often blocks your creative flow. Here are some ideas for freeing up your thinking:
Go for a tried-and-true method. It may seem simple, but we often forget to take advantage of what has worked for us in the past. What inspires you to be creative? Is is art? Perhaps you can go to an art gallery or museum. Does science and technology interest you? Watching a documentary on a groundbreaking discovery may inspire you. You needn’t recreate the wheel. Whatever has gotten your creative juices flowing in the past may be all it takes to unblock you.
Do something you consider “play.” Have you noticed how creative children are when they are playing? When you are having fun, your vibrational energy is in a place of joy, which puts you in a place of positive and free-thinking.
Meditate. Slowing your mind down and emptying it of the chatter of judgements, doubts, and worries can allow you to think more clearly, feel more grounded, and give you a sense of belonging to the world around you. For more on the benefits of meditation, and ways to do it, try this post, Meditation: A Tool for Total Wellness.
Listen to music. Take a listen to what is considered masterful music. Jazz, blues, rap, classical, opera…choose any genre that calls to you. Try this: choose a piece that is touted as a masterpiece or a classic in a genre you don’t normally prefer, and see if you can identify what makes it timeless. Listening to music that isn’t on your regular playlist will encourage you to use your brain in a different way.
Rearrange your space. Simply changing your normal surroundings can lead to new ideas. Whether you move a chair to the other side of the room or try moving around a whole room of furniture, seeing your surroundings in a different arrangement can change your perspective in many ways. You could also forgo your normal seating preference—a particular chair or side of the room—for another choice.
Commune with nature. Nature is inspiring. No matter if humans take care of nature or not, it goes on with its life cycle…growing, evolving, adapting. Allow yourself to be curious about what you see and marvel at its existence. “It is the marriage of the soul with Nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Exercise. Research shows that those who regularly exercise are more creative than those who are sedentary. Even just a brisk walk may do the trick to free up your thinking.
Meditation may, on a physical level:
- Lower high blood pressure
- Reduce stress
- Reduce body pain caused by tension
- Improve sleep, mood, behavior, and energy level
On an emotional/mental level, meditation may:
- Promote feelings of calm and peace
- Support clearer and more positive thinking
- Expand awareness and perspective, which can lead to self-revelations and transformation
- Encourage sharper thinking: New, creative, and productive ideas have the opportunity to arise in a quieted, focused mind
There are many kinds of meditations and ways to meditate. The best type and method of meditation is what appeals to and works for you…after all, if it doesn’t do those two things, you most likely won’t do it! The effects of meditation can be achieved in a few minutes a day, although many people find themselves engaging in longer sessions because of the positive results they experience. Also, keep in mind that the kind of meditation you are drawn to may change over time, as well as the effects you experience. Think of meditation as a personal trainer for your inner “fitness” program. As your inner fitness grows and changes, so will your “workout.”
Here are a few ways to meditate:
Focus your attention on a single thing. It can be a visualized object, a word, a mantra, or just the rhythm of your breath. When you notice your mind has wandered (which our minds are prone to do), gently bring it back to the original focus. Over time, you will experience less distractions and greater singular focus. Some examples of this type of meditation: Buddhist meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, Sound Meditation, Mantra Meditation.
Allow your mind to go as it may, without judgment or attachment. Tune in to all of your senses; be aware of sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Your thoughts and awareness will flow freely in and out, like the waves of the ocean. Some examples of this type of meditation: Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana.
Follow a guided meditation. Normally, you listen to a recording of a meditation that has a specific purpose, such as increasing energy, reducing anxiety, letting go of fear or anger, promoting restful sleep, raising levels of gratitude, etc. There are many different guided meditations available, which you can access online. I particularly enjoy Louise Hay.
Try making meditation a part of your daily ritual, and see what good can result!
“Cosmic humor, especially about your own predicament, is an important part of your journey.” -Ram Dass
“Take it easy.” We’ve all heard that directive in many forms. Sometimes, it’s out of loving concern, a friend or family member notices that we’re pushing ourselves beyond our capacity and they want us to be OK.
Sometimes, the phrase is a snap reaction out of frustration. We, or someone we know, are agitated and we utilize that directive to calm them down and persuade them to come back to center; to take control of the situation.
Now look at it from Dass’s perspective from his beginning quote, finding the ‘cosmic humor’ in our predicament. His words are simple yet mean so much, another form of ‘take it easy’… especially on yourself.
Let’s start with the ‘why’ of practicing this: Life isn’t always as serious as it seems. We bind ourselves to the negative, we enslave ourselves to it, instead of focusing on the positive that almost-assuredly exists. In doing this, we only see the bad, which over time, can warp our perception or keep us living in negativity.
If we never learn to ‘let go’ and relinquish our restrictions on what it means to have control just a bit, we’re sure to suffer. If we let the universe unfold as it will, we can find peace in its plan.
Life will happen each and every day. Some moments tragic, other times full of joy, whether we approve it or not, it’s happening, and will continue to do so.
The next time you find yourself at odds with life; frustrated, lonely or the like: try a smile, a chuckle or even just a sigh of cleansing breath. Find the joy in the humor that is this incredible and wondrous journey we call life.
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