Category: Intuition Development

Active Listening Is the Key to Communication

Do not listen with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand. —Anonymous

 Listening is somewhat like an art form, and as in music or dance you only become proficient with practice. There are countless meanings assigned to the act of listening. You can listen with your heart, you can listen to your intuition, you can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood. The listening I am referring to is about how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.

To lessen the problems non listening creates, here a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen. When you are truly listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say? Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases. If what they are saying is ambiguous, murky or makes no sense to you, simply ask for clarification, or mirror to them what you feel their message is.

When you are actively listening, you will more than likely have questions, hold them until the person is finished. Often many of us are too eager to spew out our response, or wisdom, or opinion that we forget to fully hear what the other person is saying. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. Or if you realize that your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is saying, you were not paying attention. Watch professional interviews, you can always spot an interviewer who is not listening by their response, it will be in left field regardless that the statement was right and center.

Naturally it is easier to listen to people you share common ground with, it is difficult and challenging to listen to those you don’t. Let’s put this in the realm of relationships. Your partner may have been raised with strict rules and there was little wiggle room for self exploration. You on the other hand had a family that encouraged independent thinking. You fall in love, but after the honeymoon phase, you find you are arguing over just about everything. More than likely, it is a lack of listening to each other…listening without hearing. Whew, that is a tough one. However, when you begin to practice real listening, you can not only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually begin to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and say to yourself, this isn’t about me, it is about the other you can learn to listen with love, empathy, and a deeper understanding that leads to connection.

Spiritual leader Ram Dass has a plethora of quotes that remind us that listening requires going beyond our ego. “We are fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” It is in the quiet recess of your consciousness that the truth or impact of words reverberates. Words themselves are simply nouns, verbs, adverbs, tools with which to communicate. yet somehow, they can cut us deeply or be profoundly motivating. When you think about how people without hearing communicate it is interesting because they still use language just not necessarily words. If you have ever traveled to a country where English or your mother tongue is not spoken, you find that you can still communicate through gestures, although the risk for misconstruing someone’s intentions is much higher. The fact is, words are only part of communicating with another.

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you are constantly filling your mind and energy with some diversion, you cannot hear your inner thoughts or desires or spiritual guidance. Think about a time that a teacher, a friend, a mentor said something that resonated with you so deeply it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that shared them with you that allowed you to see the truth and significance to them.

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence


Creating a Consciously Aware Life

 

How do you define consciousness? The medical definition of consciousness is the state of being awake and aware of your surroundings. But there is a deeper more symbolic definition of consciousness that transcends the physical and the mental.  The ninety-three-year-old Buddhist Monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh describes consciousness like a stream or river, it is always continuing and evolving. And like running water there is the shallow surface to the still silence in the depths below. Like many who have studied consciousness in the physical (brain/mind) and its effect on the body and perception, they all have found that you can shift your consciousness once you raise your awareness and focus.

If you think of consciousness as layers imagine the first being that which is more primal or automatic and connects the brain to the body; your physical needs; hunger, pain, pleasure. You are aware if a room is hot and stuffy, if you are nauseated, or feeling relaxed from a massage. This is surface consciousness.

Let’s think of the next layer as your thoughts and perceptions, how you evaluate your experiences and how they impact your decision making. Here lies what you have learned from both a formal education, absorbed from your culture, as well your past experiences and how these affect your emotions. Your emotions and feelings though are liable to be subject to moods of others unless you learn to listen within.

There is another layer. Learning to listen to the awakening of that layer, that transcends all the other layers, this deeper level of consciousness that can elevate your awareness, heal your mind and your body, and bring you a greater sense of peace and joy. Ah, this is what we all want, right? So how do we get there?

For a moment, create in your mind’s eye your favorite place in nature. Whether it is at the ocean hearing gulls and the sounds of waves crashing on the sand, or in the mountains with the scent of pine trees and the moist dirt of a mossy forest, breathe and be there for a moment. Open your eyes and notice how you feel. By bringing your awareness inward, you can choose what it is you want to focus on. This is a step in the direction of creating consciousness. Being aware. If you are meandering through a beautiful park, with the fall leaves surrounding you, yet rather than admiring their beauty you worry about an upcoming business meeting, your mind is not engaged, you’re distracted. Creating consciousness is letting go of those distractions and reconnecting to the quiet within.

Living consciously helps you with negative emotions. It gives you the ability to deal with negative feelings differently, to not be rote with reactions. Creating consciousness builds empathy towards yourself and others, because you have a deeper understanding. Think about when you were four or five, learning to count, then learning to add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc. As your awareness grew, so did your understanding and appreciation for numbers. It is the same with cultivating an expanded life that is fully alive and conscious. And like learning math, it takes practice.

When you are feeling angry, rather than lashing out, notice the anger, shake hands with it, acknowledge it. Then breathe, long slow steady breaths. Make a conscious choice to handle your anger differently, not allowing it to consume you.

Spending time in silence, bringing your awareness to your breath or meditating is a powerful way to increase your consciousness. By withdrawing from outside stimuli on a regular basis you can begin to create a calm interior. Physiologically, when you slow your breath, your body relaxes. Rapid breathing is associated with fear and anxiety. Consciously, focusing on breath, allows you to relax.  When you practice this, eventually you learn to quiet your thinking mind, the one that makes assumptions and passes judgements.

Living with purpose or living fully, is the same as living consciously. Bringing awareness to yourself helps you to be a more loving human being as you begin to see that you are interconnected to all living things. You need the warmth of the sun, the shade of trees, the oxygen from the plants, the love of another. By raising your awareness and centering on the self that is beyond definitions (mother/father, employee/employer) you can tap into the truest essence of you. That spirit or energy that is kind and loving can grow, once you bring your consciousness there and spend time stripped of pretense.

Opening your awareness liberates you from patterns of thought. Thoughts that have biases towards yourself and others. It gives you new perspectives, like wearing a pair of glasses that help you see better. You may not be aware that you treat certain people with disdain, like wait staff at a restaurant or the janitor at your children’s school. When you awaken your consciousness, you may see the humanity in all people. You may get to know that janitor and realize he is an artist or a single father working several jobs to provide for his children. Awakening removes veils allowing you to see the beauty in all things, a flower, an old man, a cloud. It gives you a sense of appreciation for the life that is all around you.

Lastly, living a conscious life is indeed like the stream that flows into the river that eventually finds freedom and flows into the ocean where all embankments and confines are removed. You don’t have to go on long extended or expensive retreats to create an expanded consciousness. You simply have to practice, be fully aware of the beauty around you, take time to notice your child’s sweet chubby hand that brought you a fistful of daisies, or the stranger that offered you a smile. Know that the sweet place of consciousness dwells within you. Listen to Podcasts, read books, find a favorite poet or philosopher, try guided meditations, nourish your consciousness, and then watch it, like the one seed of a sunflower, grow and bloom.


Listening and Trusting Your Inner Voice

Change surrounds us, whether we notice it or not. If you listen to the rustle of leaves or the ocean waves, they are never still, there is a constant shifting of energy. What does this have to do with listening and trusting your inner quiet side? If you want the tides of your life to go in a different direction, paying attention to the shifts and the inner wisdom within will help you be that change you want in your life. All of us have desires and aspirations that we want to see come to fruition. Yet sometimes there are leftover doubts lingering in the hallways of your spirit. Learning to trust yourself, not the voice of others will help you navigate through the changes in life and to guide you on the track that you are meant to follow. That marvelously unique journey that no one else can understand, feel or follow.

If you are hindered by self-doubt, let it be okay. The first step in listening and honoring yourself is to become aware, noticing and acknowledging.  Slowly you can learn to believe in your inner convictions and intuitions by practicing a few simple steps. First, take a few moments to close your eyes, and breathe into whatever comes up for you when you ask; what do I want? Let your mind roam and see what surfaces. Then draw your mind to what you see as obstacles in reaching this goal. Again, not judging, rather scanning for those voices (that most likely belong to someone else; a partner, parent, teacher). Thirdly, see yourself achieving what it is you want. How does that feel, sound, look? Throughout this exercise breathe slowly, allowing your body and mind to relax. It is safe, there is no right or wrong feeling.

Once you take stock of what it is you want for you life, start to focus on it. If your family wanted you to be a doctor and you have a love of cooking and dream of being a chef, listen to that voice within. Maybe you are at a corporate job that pays really well, but you are miserable, and you want to be a teacher or own a wellness shop…listen to that voice. For what you desire, you can achieve, by listening and acting on your desires

Begin each day focusing on something positive in your life. Your hair has gotten longer, you are exercising, you have sent an email that you needed to get out. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to pat yourself on the back. Make small commitments towards morphing your life into the life you envision. For example, you want to own a yoga or dance studio one day, but don’t have the money at the moment (remember change is imminent).You can work on your personal practice, teach a few classes, set yourself up for a path that can eventually fulfill that goal.

Make small promises to yourself and keep them. “I am going to remember my partner is my friend” or “I am going to see my friends twice a month.” Or “I am going to say no to overtime and yes to expressing my creativity.” Make attainable goals with incremental landmarks to celebrate that eventually lead to a life change. Think of yourself as a friend who keeps her/his word. This way you build trust in yourself, in the same way you build trust in a partner. If the partner never follows through with his/her promises, you begin to lose trust that they ever will. By being a friend to yourself, upholding commitments, you will build your confidence, which is one of the many rewards of listening to your inner voice.

Intuition is a real, scientifically proven phenomenon. It is a psychological process that is instinctual, you don’t have to try to create it. Intuition is when the brain draws on your experiences, knowledge, patterns and comes to a quick decision. It is the part of you that knows the right answer to a question far before the analytical mind gets involved. How can you use your intuition to enhance your life choices? By listening to your inner spirit, that energy that gives you a connection to something you love; music, dance, art, etc. and saying yes to your intuition, you will build a life that is rich with contentment, joy, and inner peace.

There are thousands of stories of people who were destined for one path, and instead listened to their inner voice, their intuition, their internal guides and chose to travel the road they were passionate about, and for that everyone around them benefitted. You too have that birthright to listen, trust, and honor yourself. Allow the movement of change, like the wind and the waves to take you towards a life you envision for yourself.


ACTIVE LISTENING

Listening is somewhat an art form, and as in music or dance, you only become proficient with practice. There are countless meanings assigned to the act of listening. You can listen with your heart, you can listen to your intuition, you can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood. What I am referring to is how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.

To lessen the problems non-listening creates, here a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen. When genuinely listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say. Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases. If what they’re saying is ambiguous, murky, or makes no sense to you, ask for clarification, or mirror to them what you feel their message is. 

When you are actively listening, you will more than likely have questions, hold them until the person is finished. Often many of us are too eager to spew out our response, or wisdom, or opinion that we forget to hear what the other person is saying entirely. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. If you realize your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is said, you were not paying attention. 

Naturally, it’s easier to listen to people you share common ground with, and it’s difficult and challenging to listen to those you don’t. Let’s put this in the realm of relationships. Your partner may have been raised with strict rules, and there was little wiggle room for self-exploration. You, on the other hand, had a family that encouraged independent thinking. You fall in love, but after the honeymoon phase, you find you are arguing over just about everything. More than likely, it’s a lack of listening to each other – listening without hearing. Whew, that is a tough one. 

However, when you begin to practice real listening, you cannot only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually start to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and realize it isn’t about you, but about the other, you’ll learn to listen with love, empathy, and a deeper understanding that leads to connection.

Spiritual leader Ram Dass has a plethora of quotes that remind us that listening requires going beyond our ego. “We are fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” It is in the quiet recess of your consciousness that the truth or impact of words reverberates. Words themselves are simply nouns, verbs, adverbs, tools with which to communicate. Yet somehow, they can cut us deeply or be profoundly motivating. When you think about how people without hearing communicate, it’s interesting because they still use language, just not necessarily words. 

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you fill your mind and energy with some diversion 24/7, you cannot hear your inner thoughts or desires or spiritual guidance. Think about a time that a teacher, a friend, a mentor said something that resonated with you so profoundly it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that convinced you there were truth and significance to them. 

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence. In my next newsletter, I will expound on different listening techniques and how to listen and trust yourself. Stay tuned!


Harmonizing Your Emotions & Intentions

As February ends and March begins, you may be considering commitments to positive changes in your life; get more exercise, eat less sugar, have less screen time. With all of these healthy resolutions, another you may consider; reprogramming knee jerk reactions or emotions that set up a negative domino effect on your life. Do you tend to get upset about reoccurring issues? Are there triggers that put a bee in your bonnet, or perhaps family members that seem to have an emotional power over you? If you struggle to keep calm and clear during particular stressors, resetting your emotional reactions can be a way to move your life in a different direction.

Let’s face it, you can have the best intentions to carry through with changing your behavior, but if your emotions are on autopilot (which for many of us they are), it can be a constant battle of wills. What you know to be true may differ greatly from the scenario your emotions are trying to convince you of. For example, your mother or long distant boyfriend calls and you hear irritation in their voice about your upcoming visit. Immediately you assume the person is irritated with you and become defensive. Communication breaks down, feelings are hurt, and you end up feeling terrible about the mix up.

Sound familiar? An effective way to reprogram those automatic emotional reactions is to immediately, think differently about it. Don’t mull it over or stew, begin to implement going within and breathing, relaxing, rather than jumping to conclusions. This takes a lot of practice because the trick is to do this right away while in the midst of the emotional crisis or challenge.

Start with small efforts to change your emotional patterns rather than tackling the deeply embedded ones that typically are related to your childhood. For example, reassure yourself of your abilities to change. Read affirmations on a regular basis. Without making a big announcement, begin to react differently when challenge presents itself, which it will, that is life. Begin to choose to not get hysterical or upset when someone is rude, or cuts you off in line. Remember, you are in control; you don’t have to imitate bad behavior. Rather than gravitating towards the negative behavior, do an about face. Collect yourself, breathe, and walk away.

Begin to be present in your life; this will help with your resolve to reset your emotional responses. Spend time paying attention to the underlying issue you are reacting to. What are the big triggers for you? Feeling powerless, unlovable, frightened? Work on healing those deep-underlying emotions that keep you from reaching your fullest potential. Facing your fears with a counselor, through meditations, and/or spirituality will empower you to be less reactive. Developing emotional courage will reprogram your responses. Emotional courage, like all courage comes with practice and awareness. It doesn’t mean that you will never feel fear.

When you have learned new emotional behaviors, you are ready to tackle those long lasting emotional trigger people, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, and friends. It will be a leap of faith, but trust your new self to pull through. Go back to the basics, retreat within, breathe, remember that you are not a slave to your emotions; you can choose a different path. Again, remember it is important to immediately turn to the new response, don’t dally, that will give your auto response a chance to kick in. Breathe, recite a positive mantra, refuse to let the old emotional baggage drag you down, let it go.

Living in negative emotions such as fear, jealousy, judgmental attitudes accomplishes nothing but depleting you of your light within. And living on high alert, will eventually lead to physical illness. The brain, the mind, and the heart are all interconnected, one impacts the other. It is possible to reprogram your emotional responses; just like it is possible to learn new things, to open your mind, or to lose weight, it is a choice. Life does not have to be a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. You can choose to liberate yourself through love, presence, and letting go.


Creating a Gratitude Practice


Letting Go of Negative Narratives

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“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!


Practicing the Art of Silence

In today’s frenetic world, finding a place to sit in silence can feel like finding that proverbial needle in a haystack. But the reality is, despite the lure of devices and endless updates, you can learn to carve out sessions of silence. Silence has an innate ability to slow down your thoughts and calm your nervous system. It can bring clarity and a deep sense of appreciation for life. Establishing silent time can also increase your creativity and give you a sharper attention span. Stillness is how energy connects to energy.

If practicing silence does all of these magnificent things, why then does it seem such a challenge? Let’s face it, the world has become a very noisy place, televisions, phones, cars, buses, airplanes. Often we block out this cacophony by popping ear buds in or turning up the radio battling sound with sound. Try simply turning off the phone, computer, or television for a period of time. Relish in a walk without listening to music. This allows you to see, hear, and smell the world around you, the wind rustling through the trees, the sway of branches, the smell of fresh rain. Silence brings a heightened awareness to your senses.

Learning to sit in stillness gives you the opportunity to be truly present. The physical postures of yoga were created to prepare the practitioner for the travel inward. Inward to that place where the true self resides uninfluenced by age, illness, or titles (father, sister, carpenter, doctor, etc.). Taking some time to slow down the breath, helps us slow down the thoughts that try to veer us out of silence; thoughts that whisper those endless “to do” lists. Giving yourself permission to be silent, allows you time to reconnect, and to reflect within your stillness.

Silence also recharges our bodies, it is like giving your car a tune up. By embracing silence, your mind, which ultimately effects the body, has a chance to mend. Imagine if you never gave your body a rest? Eventually it would break down. The same is true for the mind. Silence says to the brain, “take five.” It rejuvenates and restores balance. Silence gives you time to collect your thoughts to sort through what you can let go of.

Practicing the art of silence amid chaos is possible. Our thoughts have the ability to drown out attentions, noise, or whatever is going on around us. Think about when you are engaged in a stimulating conversation your attention is typically diverted from other stimuli—even if it’s a loud construction sight. Or when you are deep in thought and get lost because you weren’t paying attention. Our thoughts are powerful; silence can help shape them in a positive way by bringing awareness to their content. Cultivating a practice of silence is like taking time to visit an old friend; you are able to catch up with yourself, to notice and connect to stillness.

Regular moments of silence develop concentration. Try turning off your phone the next time you are with someone you love. Sit under a tree or in nature and take it all in without playing music (not that music is a bad thing it too can bring peace and healing). Nature has a profound wisdom that in the silence speaks to us.

Silence teaches us to be better listeners. Everyone wants to feel heard, by learning to allow silence to be apart of a conversation; you learn to listen to not only what is said but what is not said as well. Silence gives us power through clarity. When we become silent we can build on our inner strength. Think about those times when your words may have muddled up a situation or inadvertently been misunderstood. Silence often stands the test of time where the truth can quietly step into the light.

The following are a few other techniques to help you develop your own personal practice of silence:

• Practice being comfortable with silence in conversation. Try to not fill silent moments (which many of us have learned to dread). This helps you build a tolerance for silence.

• Create a time for your silence by making it a ritual. Perhaps you spend the mornings in silence or the evening after the kids are in bed. (Children can practice silence as well and they reap the same benefits as adults). Or maybe late afternoon after work and before you hit the traffic heading home.

• Savor your silent practice by protecting it. Make it just as important as brushing your teeth even if for only a few minutes.

• Find your spot and make it your own: under a favorite tree, at a park, in a room at work. Turn off the lights, light a candle.

• Turn off your devices, step away from the computer and the deluge of stimuli.

• If it helps, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhaling and exhaling slowly to the count of four for a few repetitions.
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Practicing the art of silence will leave you refreshed and more at peace with yourself and the world around you. Enjoy the still, silent space that lives in all of us.


Welcoming Change

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We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

– Joseph Campbell

It’s natural to take comfort in the things we know—even if they aren’t best for us or we know they aren’t working for us—but keep in mind that we often limit what is possible when we avoid or resist change. Sometimes, better things—things we didn’t dare hope for, anticipate, or imagine can come into our lives when we create room for them. That means a necessary first step is a shift from our old way of thinking into a new one.

In this post, Support yourself through transitions by changing your thoughts, I shared how to shift your beliefs and perceptions when we face transitions and changes. Most people acknowledge that change is a part of life and something we “have to deal with.” However, what if we were able to welcome change?

Staying the same takes more effort than allowing change. Have you ever decided you didn’t want things to change and did everything in your power to resist it? Was that easy to do, or hard? Did you succeed in keeping the status quo? Most likely, it took a great deal of energy and time—not to mention stress—to fight the change, and resulted in change anyhow.

Not convinced that allowing change is something that can come naturally to you? Think of it this way: We are all made up of molecules. Molecules are always in a state of change. Therefore, whether or not we are aware of it, WE are always in a state of change. If we are in a constant state of flux, then change is one of our instinctual qualities. Can you see that change can be an ally instead of an enemy? My post, Shifting Your Perspective to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, and Anger, is an additional resource to support you in welcoming change.

We may experience fear and stress as we are forced to adjust to new circumstances and the chance that we will experience what we see as failure or other negative outcomes. With time and a supportive attitude, we can acclimate and welcome change. We may even look back and realize that the change, which initially caused us discomfort, opened a world of new possibilities.


The Total Self

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In the post, Life Balance, I discussed the most prevalent areas of our lives that need balance and why each is important. The life area called Self is composed of our emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual needs and desires. Due to the complex nature of Self, I’d like to explore each component separately.

Emotional

The emotional aspect of Self determines how we feel about our inner and outer world. What do you need for a full emotional life that serves and supports you? Do you want to be more focused and grounded? Approach life with a more can-do attitude? Radiate more love and joy? React to challenges calmly and confidently? Once you decide the emotions that are important to you, ask yourself what actions to take or habits to adopt in order to bring them into your everyday life.

Intellectual

This is the part of us that needs mental stimulation and growth, and goes well beyond the classroom. It could be learning a new skill or hobby; increasing knowledge about a topic that interests you; challenging your brain with intellectual games or philosophical discussions. Consider what you need to keep your mind alert, interested, and challenged. What do you want to learn, discover, and explore?

Physical

The physical aspect deals with what it takes for you to look and feel your best. What does it take to be strong, healthy, and confident? How do you need to physically care for yourself and others? How would you want to be physically cared for by others? This includes nutrition and exercise; sexual needs; physical contact (a hug, pat on the shoulder or arm, etc). Some people crave a great deal of physical connection—giving and/or receiving—and some people not so much. Either end of the spectrum or anywhere in between is perfectly valid…it depends on what feels right to you.

Spiritual

This is the part that yearns to connect to something bigger than us. While connection to a higher power certainly occurs in religion, it is also possible to achieve through meditation, being in nature, and by practicing the arts…however you can come to a place of reflection, contemplation, and inspiration. Some questions to ask are: What fills your spirit and soul? Gives you comfort, guidance, and support? How do you want to grow spiritually?

Everyone is unique in his or her needs and desires. Awareness of what you require and desire will help you achieve those qualities that bring you balance within the life area of Self.