Tag: spirituality

RELIEVING LONELINESS THROUGH CONNECTION

 

Feeling lonely & being alone are polar opposites. Spending time alone affords you enormous benefits like the opportunity to contemplate, sort through thoughts, & calm your mind from the daily barrage of stimuli, which in turn settles the nervous system. Loneliness involves a sense of isolation regardless if there are hundreds of people around you. Think the tips below can be helpful to someone else? Pass it along!

Try out these six techniques & discover how to feel less alone

  • LOG OFF & TUNE OUT – Get out of the house & see people face to face rather than on Facebook or Instagram. Studies show that too many hours on our computers & phones are detrimental to our mental & physical health, if not tempered with real-time contact with others. So next time you go for a walk, turn your phone off & notice all that is swirling around you. Get out of your head & dive in with your five senses. Refresh your ability to feel alive & notice the people around you.

 

  • TALK TO PEOPLE – Yes, that means strangers as well. You’d surprised how many other people feel as much as you do. Take a risk & say hello to the woman at the park who is also alone with her kids in the morning. When taking public transit, strike up a conversation. I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories while riding the subway. Had I been on my phone, I would have never made the connection. When you’re standing in a line at the store, chat with the person behind you, say hello to the cashier. All of these interactions build your sense of community & allows you to feel a part of something. Get to know the names of the people who work at the places you frequent. If the thought of talking to strangers is terrifying, a simple hello with a smile will erode awkwardness over time & leave you feeling less bashful.

 

  • GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS – This may be a real tough one for many, but studies have suggested, getting to know people in your immediate community provides a feeling of safety * can bring new friendships as well. Rather than running in the house double-locking the door and shutting the blinds, take time to say hi to the guy next door or the woman across the street. Before long, you will be enjoying a newfound sense of community. Getting to know even the annoying neighbors, may pave the way for negotiations.

 

  • CALL PEOPLE & MAKE PLANS – Be an instigator for getting together even if it’s simply for coffee or a glass of wine. Rather than feeling lonely, reach out to people & perhaps invite them over or suggest doing something together. Go on a hike or walk or anything that builds a connection with the other person. Adopt more of a dolce vita attitude, in other words, live as if you’re in Italy where there are no to-go cups. Take time to indulge your relationships, they’re as important to living a healthy life as breathing clean air. It’s not a waste of time to sit with a friend & simply catch up or indulge in conversation. Just like a job, you want to invest time into relationships to make them fulfilling.

 

  • BE HONEST WITH OTHERS – Let people know when you’re feeling lonely. You’d be shocked at how many are right there with you!  Drag your loneliness into the light of day & talk about it openly. Many of us feel lonely at different stages of life. Perhaps you’re a new mother & on maternity leave. Your partner & friends are at work all day so you begin to feel isolated. Be honest with yourself & seek other women in the same boat. If you just moved to a different country or state or switched jobs, take the time to introduce yourself & explain that you’re new. Begin to see where you can fit in, chat with co-workers ask about local spots that deserve checking out. Over time, you’ll build mutual camaraderie. Whenever we’re honest about our emotions, we sow the seeds of sincere relationships that leave you with a true confidant as well as a friend.

 

  • GET INVOLVED – Join a group of moms & kids at the park for playdates or even a political cause or enroll in an Improv class. Look to your interests as a source for finding meaningful relationships. Maybe you’re seeking spiritual insight, search for a church, synagogue or temple that speaks your spiritual language. Investigate how you can become involved. Volunteering is another excellent way to make lasting connections by surrounding yourself with others who are also passionate about the same issue.

 

Implement a few of these suggestions to reduce feelings of loneliness & begin to give yourself the gift of connecting with others—you deserve it!

 


Expanding the Heart

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Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie” William Shakespeare

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This quote from the children’s story, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, bears a universal truth. Love, connection to self and others, and a deeper understanding of life, creates peace and happiness. Last week, we looked at how life long learning benefits your body, mind, and spirit. Knowledge is like love; it springs from a sundry of sources and is obtained only when we are open to it. Schools and colleges provide fodder for your mind what about your heart; the seat of seeing the unseen, the understated, the unspoken. When you grow in wisdom, you learn how to see the world through the eyes of your heart center.

In modern society, you are encouraged to pursue an education and this is sound positive advice. There is a freedom in learning, but equally important is to not fall into spiritual complacency. When is the last time you let go of fear and danced into the day or stopped to admire the cloud formations? Perhaps you have everything you could possibly ask for and still find yourself disgruntled or hungry for more meaning and inspiration in your life.

Like the brain, our heart is an organ but it also literally and figuratively, transports the life force that courses through us. How do we learn to access and increase these subtle energies? First, by being mindful, present in each moment. Naturally this takes time and practice as well as learning ancient and contemporary philosophies that offer guidance and insights. There are thousands of books and websites that can help enlighten us.

Other ways to enhance your spirituality are to tune inward to the energetic fields within. Perhaps read about the chakras, the seven subtle energy centers that when working together create a sense of balance and harmony. Take an active role in raising your consciousness through meditation, positive affirmations, and healing therapies such as acupuncture, sound vibration, and Reiki. By educating our inner selves we begin to peel the layers of fear or negativity away. When we learn to empower our hearts we toss out the stories that keep us paralyzed and separate from our true self. The self that is not influenced by social expectations or age or status in life.

Learning how the lattice work of invisible energies influence your life, can raise your awareness and help you heal the heart. Trying cultivating a mindful attitude towards the inner selves that are at play within you. Respectfully acknowledge these varying energies and explore the many ways that offer healing. For example, if you feel chronically tired, perhaps the fatigue stems not from the physical but rather from a sense of spiritual depletion. Your heart feels heavy, maybe try taking quiet moments throughout the day to acknowledge your spirit, to let it feast on a positive mantra or reading.

Let go of the kinetic call of multi-tasking, look at how you can simplify your life to carve out more time for sitting in stillness or to pray or meditate, to literally reconnect with the energies/spirit within. To listen to the inner voices calling for more love and less anger. Look for the answers by going inward. Yoga is a wonderful practice that combines the healing of mind, body, spirit. There are hundreds of different styles to choose from. Or maybe read a book on energy medicine or the Tibetan healing through sound. Explore the different spiritual practices that may resonate with you.

Whatever route calls you home to your heart, follow it to find the bliss that comes from learning the language of love, which over and over again will guide you to a more fulfilling life.


The Symmetry of Spirituality and Money

IMG_0129Does one have to choose between being spiritual and eschewing money or having money and being spiritually deficient? No. You can be both spiritual and wealthy.

In the post, Are Your Beliefs About Money Keeping You Poor?, I discussed how money is merely a tool we use to acquire what we need and desire. Money is neither good nor bad. Because of its neutrality, the having or not having of money does not dictate one’s spiritual validity. It is society that imposes values of “good and evil” that comes from acquisition of wealth or practicing asceticism.

How do you feel about your level of spirituality? Does it have any connection to your money—what you earn or spend or give?

Earning and Keeping Money

Are you subconsciously limiting the amount of money you make because you don’t feel it is in alignment with your spirituality? Or do you spend your money until you are left with “just enough”?

Having money is not a sin. How you spend or keep it is a personal choice. Creating a feeling of financial security in your life allows for a freedom of choice that benefits you others.

Think of this: You aren’t helping anyone by keeping your earnings at what you think is an acceptable/respectable level. You have the ability to create more of an impact—on your household, your community, your region, and the world—by earning to your full potential. Money can be used to support organizations you believe in, it can give you the support necessary to pursue your dreams, which in turn can help others. The more you earn the better equipped you are to take care of your needs and those important in your life. It allows you the freedom to express your spirituality.

Giving Money

For many people, it’s hard to give money when they feel they don’t have enough, or don’t think they will get it back. This can create inner tension if a person’s religion dictates that they tithe or if a person’s spiritual desires include giving money. When you give money, only give when you feel positively about it. If it feels comfortable or appropriate to you, enhance your monetary gift with energy from an open heart. Everything in the world is made of atoms, which have energy. Therefore, money also has and holds an energetic quality. Energy is exchanged when money is exchanged. Giving money is akin to completing a circle of energy. Set the intention that the money will bring benevolence to the recipient(s): You receive and you give, you give and you receive.

Having trouble parting with your money? Perhaps you might focus less on what money gives you (or costs you) and consider how your money helps others. Even if you are purchasing something, think of its effect after the transaction: Supporting business owners and jobs and therefore people’s families, and vitalizing your community as those business owners and employees and families in turn use that money.

While many of us were taught beliefs that intertwined spirituality and money with judgments, it is possible to shift those beliefs into ones that support us.

 


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.


A Spiritual Path of Coping With Addiction

Are you held back by an addiction? If you’re not personally, it’s almost certain that you know someone who is afflicted by an urge of some form that inhibits his or her own life—one that has an incredible impact on their overall well-being and happiness.

These sufferings create an inability for us to grow and flourish personally, as well as in our relationships with others, which, many times, can create an even more difficult struggle or a deeper dependence. As such, the need to escape becomes, as Pema Chodron notes in her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, “involuntary”.

She continues, “Addiction and dissociating from painful feelings are two examples. Anyone who has worked with a strong addiction—compulsive eating, compulsive sex, abuse of substances, explosive anger, or any other behavior that’s out of control—knows that when the urge comes on it’s irresistible. The seduction is too strong.”

If the throes of addiction sound inescapable, don’t lose hope yet. How can we cope? Chodron calls this practice ‘The Knack of Refraining’—continually training with a present, but lesser stimuli, that teaches us to rise above the impulse when we’re fixated on our desire.

“By training with everyday irritations, we develop the knack of refraining when the going gets rough. It takes patience and an understanding of how we’re hurting ourselves not to continue taking the same old escape route of speaking or acting out.”

This allows us to begin to become freer, a little lighter each time we succeed in not succumbing—rebuilding a sense of self worth and an appreciation for the beautiful bounty of good the world has to offer us. We begin to lose the tunnel vision, to see beyond the narrow lenses we were looking at the world through before; our minds and hearts become open.

On an arduous journey such as this, be kind to yourself or the one bearing the burden. Encourage the idea of “refraining” as a way to restart—to create a new beginning for a healthier, happier life.

With more confidence and purposeful goals, it begins to feel less like coping and more like strength. Once we’ve developed that core strength over time, our clearer mind allows us to see how our old behaviors were truly doing harm and keeping us from true happiness.

Life is progress, not perfection—the key is to not give into the seduction of temptation.

Meditate on what is good in your life; if only just for a second. When it all feels especially unsettling, find something constructive that makes you feel whole; allow yourself to experience a natural high that brings you back to center and allows you to stay the course without the fear of guilt or shame.

The journey is long and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be dark and daunting—we can all find our peace; it’s already inside of us. It takes courage to unleash its full potential and experience life in a more meaningful way, but it leads us to being truly free.


Creating Your Spiritual Self

Understanding and exploring our spiritual selves is paramount to personal growth; it’s a journey, however, that is often pushed aside. Sometimes, day-to-day activities distract us from the time and energy needed to dedicate ourselves to learn what lives within our hearts.

Mindfully affirming our higher self is key to developing our best life in the everyday world. In Spiritual Growth: Being Your Higher Self, spiritualist and author Sanaya Roman implores us to allow ourselves the opportunity to grow internally, without limitation, because of the beauty it bestows upon our existence.

Discovering who we are spiritually is gift to yourself; one that’s deeply personal and transformative. In her book, Sanaya cautions, “Do not wait for others to become more spiritual so that it will be easier for you.” Explaining that it’s more important to “make your behavior the example,”which, in turn, creates a more peaceful existence in the physical world. It makes you a beacon of light and love for those around you and also gives them strength. 

There is another beautiful component of this gift. Opening yourself to this awakening greatly expands your capacity to give and receive love, acceptance and compassion unconditionally. By focusing on what’s inside us instead of being distracted by outside stressors and influences, we’re tuned into the universe and its glory. 

By continually manifesting self-reflective thoughts on our growth, we can transform our reality and enrich our lives each and every day. Sanaya affirms that you can connect with the deepest fibers of your being, all the way down to your DNA, to reach your highest potential. 

Give it a try! Make time for yourself daily to search within your soul and reflect on what is not allowing you to reach your aspirations and goals. It’s time to do some soul searching; let the light inside of you shine out into the universe and radiate love. 


Marriage the Internet and Cheating?

  • Any similarity to you or someone you know is just that a similarity. So many people have similar stories

Sara awoke in the middle of the night wondering where Paul, her husband of 7 years was, as he was not in their bed. She thought he might be sick so she went downstairs looking for him and to her dismay found him chatting to another woman on an internet chat website. This was the low point of their marriage. Until this point she thought that they had a fulfilling, spiritually connected marriage and were honest with each other. Sara felt so betrayed, hurt and humiliated that she did not think she could ever trust him again. Paul reported that he felt confused and misunderstood. He did not understand why Sara was hurt, as he had not ‘cheated’ on her, he was just chatting. This is how they began couples counseling with me.

They both loved each other and wanted to regain the trust that for the moment was lost in their marriage. When a couple loves each other, and is willing to commit to working though their hurt feelings, they will heal, and can rekindle what they had before.

Sara and Paul needed to learn how to communicate what they wanted from each other more clearly, as well as heal this particular wound. Through our work together, they also learned what specific behaviors they were using to avoid each other, (we will call these behaviors Exits), and how to make and keep agreements. Once Paul learned how to close this particular Exit, i.e., chatting with other women on the Internet, Sara was able to notice how she watched T.V. at night as an Exit, i.e. a way of avoiding closeness with Paul.

Ultimately, Sara was able to forgive Paul and he was able to feel understood.

It is always nice to be able to watch and assist as a couple regains, trust and heals individual and relationship wounds as they rekindle their commitment to each other.