Category: Re-Romancing

Stress & Strengthening Relationships

 

There is no time like the present to learn to manage change in a relationship. This year has been riddled with changes (social, economic, technological and personal) that have been challenging to say the least. All changes impact a relationship. Learning to go with the flow, and adjust when life happens, will help you be less fearful when change comes knocking on your door.

Relationships need a strong foundation from which to grow. If your relationship is already tumultuous, working through change can be tough. Building a base of trust in your relationship early on is the way to go. If this hasn’t happened, now is a perfect time to start. Talk issues and disagreements throughlisten to each otherbe kind, and remember love is powerful; it has the capacity to endure. And most important to building trust, is to mean what you say and say what you mean. Be honest, even if the truth is not what your partner wants to hear.

During stressful changes, a move, a new baby, a death in the family, a new job; lather on patience extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you may want to talk about how or why you react the way you do, talk about the hurts, fears and insecurities that shape your reactions. This alone can help relieve a lot of the stress.

Stay physical with each other, and that doesn’t mean just having sex. Hold hands, snuggle, touch each other as a physical symbol that you are here, and you are ready to grow as a couple. Often change can produce resentment which can bleed into the bedroom. Allow yourself the pleasure of sharing one another’s bodies, let your guard down and re-connect. If you are both spiritual or religious, try praying and meditating together, do some yoga together. Share any inspirational gems that speak to you with your partner. Send kind texts, remind your partner that you love them. Life as a couple is sweeter when you know your partner has your back, that you are not alone and that your loved one is rooting for you in and outside of the relationship.

Do something familiar. It can be as simple as having coffee together in the morning. Find a thread of familiarity you both enjoy. Talk about funny memories, leap off the overly stressed, serious bandwagon and find time to get back to the essence of your relationship. Change will come; learning to deal with it together will make life richer while deepening your relationship and better prepared for the inevitable changes to come.

 

 

 

 


Finding Peace Within

 

 

“Peace Beauty and goodness are always there in each of us”
…Thich Nhat Hanh

This fundamental Buddhist belief professed by the ninety-year-old monk, Thich, Nhat Hanh, has seen him through war, struggle, joy, and injustice. He also proclaims, “peace in oneself, peace in the world.” Research concurs that those of us who can navigate through life with a sense of calm increase our quality of life and are less at the whim and mercy of circumstance. How then do you find the inner beauty and inner peace that is a constant undercurrent flowing beneath the chaotic exterior? When tragedy or sadness strikes, how do we cultivate that comforting sense of serenity?

Finding time to let go of doing, and simply breathing is a way to start. Although your mind will want to distract you with to-do lists or issues to fret over, take it one breath at a time. Perhaps you begin with a moving or walking meditation. There’s no trick or magic. By redirecting your thoughts back to your breath, watching your inhale and exhale, filling up and emptying out, you begin to fall into a rhythm. If a thought tries to lure you away from the breath, let it go as if it were a balloon floating by, don’t attach to it.

Like riding a bike, learning a language, or disciplining a child, consistency matters. Practicing every day, before long, you will begin to look forward to your meditation time. Like returning home after a long journey, it is a place of rest. Often we fall into the “I’m too busy” trap to avoid quiet breathing and silence. Remember the first time you did yoga or went to the gym, or decided to eat healthier? Change is always challenging at first unless you practice it repeatedly. One day you’ll realize you’re no longer thinking about it; you’ve incorporated it. Mindful breathing and meditation are no different, and the rewards you reap far outweigh the time you spend quieting your mind.

We notice the wind out of the stillness, the light from the dark. When we take the time to go inward, we begin to see the current of life become calm. Perhaps you are clinging to fear or anger, and it acts like a barrier stopping your progress towards finding peace? Through the constancy of the breath, begin to notice these emotions, don’t judge them. Then see with each exhale if you can release them to the atmosphere, where they can dissipate like fog burned off by the afternoon sun. Allow yourself time to breathe, and with every inhale, watch how the body fills with nourishing oxygen laden breath. Notice your shoulders, let them relax down your back, unclench your jaw, and unfurrow your brow. Allow the exhale to empty your negative thoughts. Water seeds of compassion with each inhale.

Eventually, spending time in quiet stillness will spill over into every aspect of your life. You’ll feel less anxious in traffic, less upset when someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store, less reactive to the mind’s wanderings. Your ability to focus and concentrate will increase. With today’s world tugging at your attention, being able to direct your attention where you want it to go will allow you to stay in that beautiful place of peace where wisdom and healing reside.


Let People Know You Love Them

The old saying, “actions speak louder than words,” holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This behavior may come easy to you, or you may struggle with showing your love, & if that’s the case, you’re not alone.

Previous traumas, relationship experiences, & past patterns of how love was modeled to you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those you care for. The good news is, by actively showing love, you’ll receive it back in ways you never expected.

Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. It’s not to say that you neglect yourself. Instead, it’s like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love to you.

  • Kind words
  • Patience when you’re frustrated
  • Listening when you’re happy or sad

In other words, they are there for you. Use these examples to express your love back to them, then try cultivating an appreciation for the little things instead of expecting grandiose gifts as a token of someone’s love. Not that presents are inherently loving or unloving; they’re merely objects, that over time, fade or lose their appeal. Sincere appreciation provides fond memories & strength.

Express your love. Let loved ones know you’re thinking about them, not just on special occasions.

  • Text, write a letter or send a card
  • Call simply to tell them you miss them or love them
  • Let them know you hope their day is going well

It’s thoughtful things like these that reassure the people you care about that you love them. If you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage

  • Buy a random card
  • Cook a dinner complete with candlelight
  • Take the kids for an afternoon so your partner can have some needed alone time

Take time to think of the needs of those you love. This doesn’t mean you can fulfill their every whim or desire. Show your concern for them without it being unhealthy, manipulative, or co-dependent.

Ask them about their day, their desires, their pain, their passions, & then sit back & listen. A big part of expressing love is listening to your beloved. Think of how you feel when you’re not heard. You may feel neglected, ignored, or even unimportant. These aren’t positive feelings that nurture a loving relationship. When you listen with your heart, you begin to understand more fully. Ask what you can do to help. More than likely, knowing that you’re there to support through active listening is enough.

If you have a concern or hurt feeling, express yourself. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to resentment, which won’t help. If you’re fearful about something, be honest, let go of your pride, & don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. When you’re transparent with your emotions, you’re showing the person you love that you trust them with your whole heart & it’s a powerful example that your loved one can reciprocate, letting go of pretenses & being real. This is fertile ground for growing love.
Let your loved one know when you miss them, whether it’s physical yearn or something more ethereal. Maybe one of you has been traveling for work, or you live apart from each other. Perhaps you miss laughing with them, or riding bikes together or having sex, let them know what it is you miss & not in an accusatory way. Simply say, I miss …

Tell people you love & you’re grateful for them. Whether they’re a sibling, a parent, or a lover, let them know you appreciate them & why.

 


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.


Speaking Truth in Our Relationships

When I work with couples, I always advocate for one thing consistently – always stay honest with one another. Regardless of the problem you’re experiencing in your relationship, it can likely be traced back to a moment when you weren’t entirely truthful either with yourself or your partner. It’s easy to want to hide our truth sometimes. We may be afraid of rejection. We may be afraid of hurting our partner. We may be afraid that our truth is selfish, or negative in some way.

But the honest truth is that hiding how you feel or what you think from your partner does far more harm than good. If you hide your truth, you may experience feelings of resentment. And from their perspective, they may experience resentment, as well.

I believe that honesty is the best policy – whether that’s in your romantic relationship, with family, with friends, or with colleagues. Expressing how you feel and what you think helps to open up a productive dialogue. You may be surprised to find the listening party is incredibly receptive – maybe they’ve been feeling the same way or having similar thoughts. You may be equally surprised to find that they disagree with you – but are willing to openly discuss the disagreement.

The more open you are about your experience and your truth, the less likely negative interactions are. Your openness draws in openness. Your energy attracts similar energy. If you are open and honest and someone disagrees with you, there may be a moment of tension. But by accepting their honesty in kind, you move forward in productivity and understanding rather than in negativity and bitterness.

Of course, there are ways to ineffectively communicate your truth. You may be feeling negative emotions – like anger or sadness. These may lead to you lashing out and being brutally honest in a way that’s intended to hurt or offend your partner. It’s important to understand that speaking your truth comes from a place of self-respect and of respecting others – not from a place of anger, fear, or desire to be hurtful. If your words are rooted in good intentions, they will likely be received as such.

Communicating honestly and openly by speaking your truth can lead to great things within your relationship. You will find yourself being more open to hearing the truth of your partner. You will find that your partner truly hears you and empathizes with your experience. Most importantly, you will no longer feel a masked bitterness within your relationship that results from you (and your partner) not being honest with one another (or yourselves) when resolving conflict.

Speaking Truth in Our Relationships was originally published on Bridge of Life


“You Complete Me” ???

We’ve all heard the saying, “You complete me.” We may have even said it ourselves when we meet a significant other who feels like they just click into our lives like a missing puzzle piece. People who use this phrase feel like their partner is the missing component of their lives they never knew they needed. Their lives feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilling with their partner – so, naturally, they believe that their partner has completed their life. This thought pattern is accepted, and often encouraged in the media. The idea that you aren’t complete until you’ve found love or committed to a serious relationship is perpetuated as a societal norm.

Wanting to find love and maintain a happy, healthy relationship is positive. As humans, we are born to interact and connect with others on that deeper emotional level. However, the concept that your significant other completes you isn’t necessarily healthy. First, let’s look at the pressure that puts on a potential romantic partner.

While a partner may feel cherished at the thought of being your other half, or that you view them in that light, it can also cause some stress or anxiety that you didn’t intend. Being tasked with completing somebody is no small thing. It means you are relying on them to somehow make up for your mistakes or flaws. It means that it’s their job to better you and push you to be your very best, shining self. This is probably not what you meant when you thought or voiced that they completed you. You probably just wanted to say something sweet! Still, keeping in mind that your words have a deeper meaning and a greater impact than you realize is important.

Second, let’s look at how this phrase reflects onto you. You do not need another human or a relationship to complete you. On your own, you are an amazing, beautiful, independent being. You have hobbies, interests, goals, dreams, and desires. You have a favorite restaurant on the corner, a group of friends and family members who you enjoy spending time with, and a book club you joined last year. You are constantly growing, each day, just through the small experiences that you live through. You make choices, you make mistakes, and you have exciting success stories.

Having a partner may fulfill a goal, desire, interest, or dream you have. Having a healthy, loving romantic relationship may make you feel content, happy, and like you’re having more success stories than mistakes. But that does not mean this wonderful person in your life completes you. You are not half of a person, you are whole and you are unique. When you start viewing your partner as just that – a partner – instead of the other half of yourself, you give both of you permission to be fully who you are and to fully love and appreciate every aspect of each other. Together, you create something exciting and new that involves both of you.


Return to Love Again & Again

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The Beatles popularized the phrase, “All you need is love” and to some this may sound trite or over simplified, but it is based literally on ancient philosophical truths. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, Darkness cannot drive out darknessonly light can do thatHate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Do you ever feel overwhelmed navigating through a world that sometimes feels hollow and made of steel emotionally? How do you cultivate love when confronted with bigotry and misogyny or any other misguided negative attitude? Returning to the essence of love within you will stave off the blues and keep your heart healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

How do we define love? There are a plethora of loves; love of country, love of an activity, love for yourself or a friend, love of family, love between two partners. In other words, what type of love are we talking about here? Philosophical love, love that transcends the limitations of our inner and outer worlds. Love that acknowledges others and never acquiesces to hatred. My grandmother used to say, “Never say never.” And she was right, there are travesties that are so appalling, it is easy for the seed of hate to flourish. Yet, even then, if you are consumed with hatred, like a small grass fire gone awry, the consequences are devastating.

The Greeks, who defined six different kinds of love, called this universal love Agape. Eventually Agape was translated in Latin to caritas, which became the origin of the word charity. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition this is called mettā or “universal loving kindness” All spiritual traditions and practices address this type of love. How do you apply this kind of love to your everyday life without feeling fake or put on? Like most things, it takes conscious practice and willingness to journey inward. You don’t need to conform to any one particular spirituality, in fact, I urge you to explore: “It is proper for you to doubt .. do not go upon report .. do not go upon tradition..do not go upon hearsay.” (Buddha, Kalama Sutra).   In other words, it’s essential to survey and study that which resonates with you. There is a banquet of philosophies on love to choose from. Find quotes that speak to your heart, keep them close to you when you need a little bolster.

Practical ways to develop a loving heart is to learn about yourself and others. The more we know and love ourselves the easier it is to open a closed fist and to reach out. For example, if I am in a grumpy mood one day and someone does a kind deed, opens a door for me, this will soften my edge. This act of loving kindness then has a ripple effect spreading out into the world. One person, you, us, can make a difference. We all have the capacity to allow love to grow our empathy for others. We may be unable to reach everyone, but like that old Chinese proverb says, “you climb a mountain one step at a time.” It has been physiologically proven that putting on a smile, when you’re feeling unhappy, changes the chemistry of your blood; all of the stress hormones drop. One simple practice can change a negative into a positive and that positive fosters love.

You may never know the impact your love and generosity has on the world. I once heard a tale about a Holy man who lived in a very small village. He asked God why he couldn’t be moved to bigger more prominent place where his work could touch thousands more than this small community he was stuck in as the spiritual leader. But alas, the man carried on his good deeds for years and eventually died, never having been relocated from his village. When he met the Sustainer he asked why this was? Then, he was shown all of the people he inadvertently helped and how they went on to help others and so on. This story stuck with me. It reflects that part of us that wants to be recognized and rewarded. It reminds me that an act of love, kindness or generosity by definition expects no reward. The act is the reward.

Stories such as those remind us over and over that the power of love can impact our world. Love guides us during duress; it is a road map that can lead us to safe shores when we feel lost or confused. That we do have a choice and that our chosen weapon to dissolve hatred is loving kindness.

 


Making & Keeping Resolutions

As we round the corner to 2017, you may be formulating a list of resolutions, changes you want to implement for your life in the New Year. In January, gyms and yoga studios are stampeded with new clients eager to forge a healthier lifestyle and by February the throngs subside. What is it that stops you from keeping promises to yourself? Are there tools that can help you swap out a bad habit for a more life affirming one? The answer is a resounding yes! Let’s take a look at a few ideas that may help you stay on course to keeping resolutions.

Abraham Lincoln was once quoted as saying; “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”  In other words, don’t be deterred by the road bumps. When the excitement of creating the resolutions fades and you have to face the day-to-day commitment, think about the idea of succeeding rather than the tasks. Each small step towards achieving your goals is a leap in the fulfillment of your personal promises to yourself.

Examine areas in your life you want to change. Are you unhappy in a relationship, are you harboring resentments for choosing the path you are on? Clearly identify what it is in your life that you want to change. Explore with yourself if it is spiritual, emotional, or physical as the more specific you are the easier it is to follow through. Imagine a person presenting a business plan to you without explaining how to get from point A to B to C: their message will be muddled and unclear. Specificity allows us to better create steps that will carry us closer to our success. If being a writer is your goal, important first steps are defining what kind of writing fiction or non-fiction and whom your target audience will be. The more you hone in on the particulars, the easier it is achieve your goal.

Remember the Chinese proverb that to climb a mountain you take one step at a time. Set reasonable resolutions that you can reinforce with positive incremental achievements. Create measurable ways to reward yourself for the small goals you attain along the way. Think back to all of the accomplishments in your life, most of them happened over time. Be patient with yourself and keep moving along in the desired direction. Before you know it, you’ll be at the top of the mountain relishing your successes!snowflake57th_edited-2-1 

Try to keep your resolution list limited in order to ensure success. Many times in our quest for positive change we pile unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Set realistic timelines for yourself. For example if one of your resolutions is to find a new job, you may start by establishing a set date to complete or revise your resume. The next step may be to increase your contacts by joining affiliations or groups that have a common interest.

Often when one year ends and another begins, we reflect back on the positives as well as the challenges. All of these experiences leave us better prepared to move forward. The New Year symbolically lets us wipe the slate clean and begin anew with verve and renewed hope. These simple suggestions give you concrete ways to make and keep those 2017 resolutions. May the New Year bring you joy and happiness!
 

 

 

 


Creating a Sanctuary

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During the stress of election time, have you found yourself overwhelmed or burned out by the onslaught of newsflashes? The chronic barrage of updates and social media stories can leave you feeling frustrated, sad, or helpless. Do you ever fantasize about escaping to a simpler less hectic way of life? One way to cope and tune out is to create a sanctuary where you can retreat and restore your sense of balance and inner harmony.

What is a sacred space? A sanctuary is a sacred space; it is a uniquely personal place that you carve out to reconnect with stillness. A place that rejuvenates your nervous system and allows you to calm and center your energy. This can be a physical place or an imaginary space that with practice, you can access anywhere.
If you have room to establish a small area dedicated for meditation or quiet time, try decorating it with relaxing photos of your favorite spots: perhaps pictures of nature; oceans, forests, sunsets, or hiking areas with waterfalls that you can place around you. Fill your sanctuary with objects that encourage you to travel within. If room is an issue, make it portable; set the serenity stage then dismantle it when you’re done. Taking the time to carve out a sanctuary sends strong permission signals allowing your body and mind to honor quiet time.

Light candles, play soft soothing music and if need be, set a timer; even fifteen minutes can make an enormous difference. A sanctuary supports your efforts to drop inward to quiet the outside chatter, relieve stress and to approach life with a clearer, calmer mindset. Imagine if you never recharged your phone or computer? Creating a sacred space reboots your nervous system and disempowers fear and anxiety.
The idea of opening up and closing down is like the very beating of our heart; the chambers open and close, both are necessary to sustain life.

Rumi, the famous 13th century Persian Poet, noted.

Just look at your hand
closing the fist always proceeds opening it.
A hand that is always opened or closed,
is a crippled hand.
So your heart also contracts and expands,
just like a bird needs to close and open
it’s wings to fly.

Shutting out the world allows you to open to your inner self. It takes you back to the you, unaffected or categorized by titles. There in the quiet chambers of your being you are free uninhibited by age, illness, or the past.

Although multitasking is rewarded these days, it has detrimental effects on our ability to focus. Taking time to cultivate a sanctuary can boost your mental and physical well-being. If there simply is no room to create a physical space, then create one in your mind’s eye. Get comfy on the bed or sofa or throw pillows on the floor and close your eyes. Begin to imagine a place where you feel calm, secure, in harmony with nature; a sandy beach with a slight breeze, the warm sun on your back. Or in the mountains surrounded by autumn leaves and a babbling brook. Wherever your place is, close your eyes and create the sensory details, the smells and sounds; perhaps play nature sounds on your computer or phone. YouTube has a plethora of these kinds of soothing symphonies from the ocean to a crackling campfire.

Once you’ve created a place in your mind’s eye, focus on your breathing. Slow your inhales and exhales to the count of five, this is guaranteed to induce relaxation. If you have set a timer, release any lingering concerns about time. Stay in your sacred space as long as you need and let tension and stress dissolve. In time and with practice, this inner haven can offer you solace whenever or wherever you need to drop in for a visit.
As the days grow shorter and the animals prepare for hibernation, we too can slow down, settle in, and relish in the safety of your sacred sanctuary.


No Judgments Please

No Judgments Please

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by negative feelings about yourself or others? Do you yearn for a life void of crippling judgments that keep you frozen and fearful? The art of nonjudgmental is like learning a new language, it takes practice. Margaret Mead, the famous American cultural anthropologist, once said, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Naturally this is a challenge, for inadvertently human beings pass down opinions and preferences, often unconsciously. Thankfully, life is dynamic and ever changing. As adults, we are free to re-program our life philosophies and belief systems. It is possible to cultivate the art of observing rather than categorizing and labeling ourselves and others.

When you release the need to place judgment on yourself or others, you lift any invisible partitions that may be isolating you from others. When we are afraid, the chambers of our heart race and love is cast aside. Judgments stimulate strong emotions that can cloud our true self and our ability to be receptive to change. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a globally acclaimed thinker and teacher who subscribed to no particular religion or philosophy claimed that “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” Judgments are often habitual, nonfactual, and spontaneous creating a sort of windstorm in our psyche. Learning one day at a time how to be nonjudgmental (which includes not condemning yourself when you fall off wagon) opens your life up to new possibilities. It gives you the freedom to indulge perspectives that differ from your own; without classifying them as right or wrong.

The following are a few basic tips to living with more observation and less judging.

• Observe language that triggers judgment such as; right/wrong, should/shouldn’t, fair/unfair. Become a witness to the verbiage you use to describe yourself and with gentle compassion rephrase them into describing your feelings. Rather than saying “I’m stupid or unworthy.” Try making a descriptive statement, “I feel anxious when I have to learn a new task.” Identifying the emotion behind the judgment helps reveal the crux of the misperception. Practicing loving kindness with your words can help you cultivate patience and a more positive, less fear based way of life.

• Become aware of your thoughts, when you learn to observe your thoughts throughout the day, you learn to let go of negative judgments. Imagine if you never saw yourself in a mirror, you would have no idea what you look like. If we don’t see our thoughts and patterns they remain invisible. By taking notice, we can stop judgmental thinking in its tracks. Perhaps every time someone expresses their belief system, we stop listening or when we are stressed we condemn ourselves. Being a witness to your thoughts is an initial step in letting go of patterns that knock you off kilter, and cause disharmony. Once you are aware, you can implement positive change.

• Begin to see problems and challenges as opportunities to grow. By embracing rather than judging a situation, you allow yourself movement for growth. When we stick our mind in the mud of old destructive, judgmental thinking we get stuck. Rather than inwardly cursing and blaming another or yourself, see challenges as an opportunity to practice your greater potential. Learning comes from solving a problem and often, we exaggerate our problems and see them as “Oh why me?” Hurdles and obstacles can become opportunities for creating positive outcomes. If we leave the judgment behind we have more mental capacity to search for solutions.

Mother Theresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Setting judgments aside cleans the cobwebs of your heart, mind, and soul creating space for life affirming love and serenity to grow. By practicing nonjudgmental living, we tear down walls and build lasting loving relationships with ourselves and others.