Silence is a rarity in our 24/7 world. Enjoy The Soothing Sound of Silence audio post. To listen, click on the link, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software.

Empathy is something we could all use a lot more of. Enjoy the audio on The Empathy Habit. To listen, click on the link, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software.

In many ways this has been the most instructive, awesome summer of my life. You readers have filled my heart in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin to thank you all. My gratitude goes beyond words to a profundity I cannot even express.

So as a celebration of who you are for me, I offer you the Best of the Summer Posts for 2012 in the form of an audio. In true power of slow style, I am taking off for two weeks on a new adventure to France, then Italy. I have decided to post the audio versions of the most popular posts so you can enjoy them in a new way.

I hope you like them. To listen to the first, click on the link The Act of Self-Forgiveness, and you should automatically be able to hear it. If not, right click the link, then save to your desktop to listen on your own audio software. Be sure to turn up the volume and enjoy.

Many blessings to you, dear ones!

“You always seem to know what you want,” a friend of mine recently told me.

Maybe I was born that way. I don’t know. However, one thing is for certain: you may not always get what you want, but if you don’t know what you want at all, you’re certain not to get it!

Mike Dooley’s Notes from the Universe recently said, “Go ahead. Want it all. Just be happy now or you might miss it when it comes.” Being abundant means you already have everything you need, want or could possibly desire and you’re just living all wrapped up in your own juicy with a big fat smile on your face. I am the happiest when I live that way.

But here’s the rub: if we make our happiness dependent on externals, we’re in trouble. That’s like giving away all your megawatts of power to everyone else but yourself. That’s like paying for everybody else’s gasoline but your own. That’s like, well, you know what I’m saying. And who wants that?

In his work entitled The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra writes:

“Doubt is a symptom indicating that you aren’t in contact with the knower inside. It usually means that you are looking outside yourself when you have to make a choice. Your decision is going to be based on externals. For most people, the strongest externals come down to what other people think because fitting in is the path of least resistance. But fitting in is like embracing inertia. Social acceptance is the lowest common denominator of the self – it’s you as a social unit rather than you as a unique person.” (page 96)

Now that explains it. I never fit in as a kid. And apart from your typical teenage angst, I have never doubted myself to the point of paralysis either. Perhaps it really is an innate sense of knowingness that we were born with and I was lucky enough to have people in my life to allow that part of myself to thrive.

Finding the knower inside is possible for anyone, even if you grew up in a strict society where conformity and social acceptance dominated your life. The trick is not to mix up the knower with the ego, which is the one usually bouncing around in your head saying, “Hey! Whattaboutme?!!” Yeah, that one. I know you know who I’m talking about.

So here’s a little guide that I’ve found helpful to getting to that still small voice within:

  1. First step: acknowledge that you have an inner voice that wishes to speak to you.
  2. Second step: Close your eyes and place your awareness around your heart where your inner voice resides.
  3. Third step: Ask that voice to say whatever it likes. Be patient. It may be hoarse from being silent for so long. Eventually, as your awareness deepens over time, it will begin to sing its song. Listen carefully.
  4. Fourth step: Practice listening to your inner voice every day. Before you get up in the morning may be a good time to offer it centerstage.
  5. Fifth step: Act on one thing your inner voice tells you to do. See what happens.

My guess? Magic will happen. Just you wait and see.

 

Dare to Surrender

August 25, 2012

At the very beginning of this marvelous summer (or winter, for you Southern Hemisphere readers), I wrote of surrender. As any writer will tell you, we mostly write about the things we need to learn most.

And so it is with this blog.

A lot of the advice, truths and ideas I have set forth have been lessons I have learned and/or am in the process of learning. I’m walking the same path as you. While being an expert is somehow praised in our society, I am only an expert of my own life, as you are with yours. What I can say is surrender is by far the hardest, and perhaps most important, lesson we can learn.

So often we want things that are just beyond our grasp. We place great effort into it, such as writing that book proposal or convincing a client that your counsel is warranted, but what happens is what happens. And we can only do so much to influence the outcome of events.

When we enter the Surrender Room, we access a power far greater than ourselves. We are able to be highly involved with what we are doing without the attachment to the outcome. We liberate ourselves from the dependency on other people’s responses. Our truth remains, no matter the circumstances. We simply do what we need to do, then move on.

Instead of wasting our energy on things that are beyond your control, focus on the things you can.

How you choose to spend your time is one of the things you can do a lot about. You may feel trapped in a job you hate or in a relationship that needs to change, but all told, you can decide how to deal with it.

It’s not that some people have better lives than others. It is how you cope with the challenges at hand that determine the quality of your days.

I dare to surrender to the All Knowing Force. As scary as it may be, I see it as the most empowering choice we can make as human beings.

Will you join me?

 

Dwell in Possibility

August 24, 2012

Surmounting seemingly impossible tasks is an essential part of life. When I took my very first written exam at German university, I was scared out of my wits. All kinds of ‘what if’s’ floated through my head. ‘What if I can’t formulate my thoughts in the time that I have?’ ‘What if I fail?’ ‘What if I forget all my German and draw a complete blank!?’ ‘What if!?’ ‘What if!?’

So my mother, being the fabulous person she is, sent me a T-shirt with Emily Dickenson’s quote “I dwell in possibility.” She asked me to entertain the possibility that I would succeed.

Stumbling into the exam room wearing the T-shirt as my guide, I wrote the exam non-stop for two hours. And you know what? I did succeed despite my doubt.

It was a pivotal moment in which I realized, at the tender age of twenty-three, how much our thoughts dictate pretty much every choice we make, if we let them. Or we can take a more heart-centered approach in which we seek out the joy in every situation (and I mean every one!) despite the thoughts swirling in our heads, screaming the opposite to what our hearts are saying.

What are you thinking is impossible today? What if you were to entertain that it could be possible after all? Would you see things with different eyes? Would you succeed?

Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.”

Yes, you are. Start with your vision of what you’d like to see in the world, then create it. You might be amazed at who shows up to help you once you are clear about what you really want.

We All Fall Down

August 23, 2012

Most of you are familiar with the children’s rhyme, “Ring-around-the-rosey! A pocket full of posies? Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” You hold hands while going around in a circle, then tumble to the ground in laugther. As a kid, falling down is what you do. Daughter’s bruises from camp and the adventures she had there are proof that it is so.

Somehow as we grow into adults, we grow to believe we are no longer allowed to fall down, or fall apart for that matter.

In a recent post entitled “Holding it Together is Overrated,” Renee Trudeau inspired me to write about this topic as she recently reflected on her own challenges to admit when she needs help. As the oldest child of seven, she has always been considered the go-to person for simply everything.

I have several hyper-competent women friends who secretly complain about not always wanting to have to be so strong. I include myself in that group. With so many people relying on us, it’s as if falling apart isn’t an option. Besides, we always have the answer to things. Right?

But I’ve got news. Sometimes falling down is the best thing you can do for yourself.

You might think crying it out to be a waste of time. But it is time well-spent if it means you are cleansing yourself of draining experiences.

Deepak Chopra recently lamented about the positive thinking movement. No one thinks positive thoughts all the time. It’s not natural. “There is nothing more attractive than somebody who radiates simple unaffected humanity,” he said.

So if you need to fall down, just do it. You might get bruised like Daughter’s knees, but you will have experienced life in its fullest richness with an unmatchable authenticity that makes you YOU.

And there is beauty to be seen there too.

Social connection is the healing bond that keeps us centered. When we disengage from the world, withdraw from our loved ones or wander down the path of isolation, we aren’t able to cope as well.

According to the new book, Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World, love heals. We all know this, but what is surprising is that a lack of social connection is more toxic than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, obesity or a lack of exercise. That’s pretty significant when you think about it. You could be the physically fittest person on the planet, but without someone to love, and be loved by, you’re in bad shape after all.

A dear friend of mine entered the hospital yesterday for a fairly routine operation, but before he did, he reached out to me to tell me how scared he was. He needed reassurance and I was so glad to give it to him. It helped him manage his stress better and I felt good for being there.

That’s what it’s all about. Being there for each other to manage the ups and downs of life.

So if you are feeling stressed, reach out to someone you love today. It’s the best win-win situation you could create for yourself. And you’ll live longer, and better, for it too.

On the Verge of Greatness

August 21, 2012

You know when you feel like you are on the verge of something really amazing? You can feel it with every fiber of your being. You know it is there, sliding just beneath the surface of your awareness, skittering to the edges of your peripheral vision. You may have no specific reason for feeling this way, but you know in your soul that something incredible is about to happen.

I call it being in touch with your inner core. The amazing thing I am referring to doesn’t occur on the outside. It happens within. It could be that your circumstances change as a result of this awareness, but what changes first is you.

I have not always been in touch with that side of myself. When I was a kid, I used to feel as if I was being pulled into a different world. Then I grew up, became practical, started a family and completely buried that part of myself. Only now do I know it was my soul speaking. Once I started listening, my whole world started to change. For the better.

It’s neat to listen to what the soul says. It doesn’t speak words, but another kind of language altogether. It is an intuitive knowingness like a gentle guide that sees you through the darkness.

If you are feeling distracted or distressed, close your eyes and listen to your body. What is it telling you? Where does it hurt? Where does you feel good? This simple exercise puts your awareness back in real time and helps you center yourself so that you can actual listen to that still small voice within. How often do we ignore what our bodies are telling us? The body adapts to whatever you expose it to. If you stress out your body, it will respond. If you love it, it will respond too.

By listening to your body, you can access the soul that the body houses.

And that’s when the real fun begins.

The Weight of Words

August 20, 2012

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Wanna make a bet? I’ve never agreed with that saying. For anyone who has been bullied before, words can do more damage than a machine gun.

Words have more power in the material world than we think. Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto  revolutionized how we think about the energy of words when he published his work on how water crystals react to certain terms, photography or music.

The reaction the water had to the word peace looks like this:

The word truth had this response:

The negative term you fool gave the water crystal the following form:

I’m beginning to see a pattern here, are you?

Words in the form of fiction can also have an amazing influence on our lives. Through books, screenplays and short stories, we get to travel to far off worlds without leaving our easychair. In fact, Annie Murphy Paul reported for the New York Times about a York University study in Canada headed up by psychologist Ramyond Mar, that found “individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.”

Darmouth College’s Geoff Kaufman teamed up with Lisa Libby at Ohio State University to prove that literature can truly have a profound impact on our self-understanding, attitudes and even behaviors. In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 103, No. 1, 1-19, 2012), they report on the phenomenon they’ve termed “experience-taking“. Essentially, you take on the fictional character’s experience as your own.

The neat thing is our brains can’t distinguish between reading about an experience and actually encountering it in real life, which is maybe why the more teary-eyed folks among us cry so easily when reading a good book or seeing a good movie (I am one of them. I admit. You know that scene in Spielberg’s 2011 flick, War Horse, where the British and the German soldiers gather together in no-man’s land to free the horse from the barbed wire fence in a momentary act of peace and purpose? Yea, I was bawling, people. Bawling I was!). If a book is good, I cry at the end too. It’s that empathy thing, like saying goodbye to a dear friend you won’t see for a long, long time.

Because in your mind, you are. Those characters are real, dammit! Who needs reality TV when you can enter a fantasy world by opening a book at any time?

If you have ever written fiction, you will know that those characters come knocking at your door at all hours of the night, wanting to be heard, formed and plopped into the storyline of your own creation. They can be pretty adament, too. I have a few slumbering in my head myself. Maybe I’ll let them out to play on the page a little more.

And when I do, you’ll get to be a part of the fantasy too.

For now, I offer you this three-minute video to illustrate the power of words. May you choose yours carefully and with all the kindness you possess.

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