Putting Our Tools to Use
Bringing Inspiration into Form
Every craftsperson has a toolbox full of tools and a number of techniques to help them bring inspiration into form. In the same way, throughout our lives, we have discovered our own life tools and techniques—the ways and means that have helped us create our lives up to this point. Sometimes we forget about the tools and skills we've acquired, and we wonder why we aren't moving forward. At times like these, it might just be a matter of remembering what we already know, and rediscovering the tools we already have at our disposal.
In the process of becoming who we are and creating our lives, we have all gone through the experience of being inspired to do something and then finding the tools we needed to do it. If we look back, we may be able to remember that we used, for example, the tool of writing every day in order to clarify our intentions. We may also have used the tools of ritual, meditation, or visualization to make something happen. In addition, we may have been fueled by a new idea about how the universe works, which is what gave us the inspiration to use these tools.
In order for ideas to be powerful, they must be imbued with the energy of our engagement with them, and in order for tools to be effective they must be put to use. This sounds obvious, but often we fall into the habit of thinking we are engaging with ideas and using tools by virtue of the fact that we are reading about them, or listening to other people talk about them. In truth, using our tools is a very personal action, one we must take on behalf of ourselves. Like artists, we are each unique and no two of us will receive the same inspiration, nor will we bring it into form in the same two ways. To discover the truth of our own vision, we must take action by remembering our tools and putting them to use.
Being Truly Thankful
Beyond Counting Blessings
Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.
It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.
We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.
Walking with Awareness
Many of us take the benefits of walking for granted. Each day we limit the steps we take by driving or sitting for long periods of time. But walking even a few blocks a day has unlimited benefits – not only for our health, but our spirit as well, for as we walk, we connect with the earth.
Even when walking on concrete, the earth is still beneath us, supporting us. Walking lets our body remember simpler times, when life was less complicated. This helps us slow down to the speed of our body and take the time to integrate the natural flow of life into our cellular tissue. Instead of running from place to place or thinking about how much more we can fit into our day, walking allows us to exist in the moment.
Each step we take can lead us to becoming more mindful of ourselves and our feelings. Walking slows us down enough not only to pay attention to where we are in our body, but also to our breath. Taking time to simply notice our breath while we walk, through the length of our inhales and exhales, and becoming attuned to the way in which we breathe is taking a step towards mindfulness. When we become more mindful, we gradually increase our awareness of the environment around us and start to recognize that the normal flow of our thoughts and feelings are not always related to where we are in the present moment. Gradually we realize that the connection we have with the earth and the ground beneath our feet is all that is. By walking and practicing breathing mindfully we gain a sense of calm and tranquility -- the problems and troubles of the day slowly fade away because we are in the 'now'.
The simplicity and ease of a walking practice allows us to create time, space and awareness of our surroundings and of the wonders that lie within. Taking a few moments to walk each day and become more aware of our breath will in turn open the door for the beauty of the world around us to filter in.
Whenever we make the effort to free ourselves of an addiction or a habit we no longer need, we are often surprised to find ourselves missing the old pattern as we would a familiar friend. This sounds counterintuitive, because we think we should instinctively gravitate toward that which is good for us. And yet, it makes a lot of sense when you consider that we humans are creatures of habit. This is why we gravitate to people and places—and patterns of behavior--that make us feel comfortable. Therefore, many of the habits we form are not conscious and are based instead on learned behavior from role models who were not always making the healthiest decisions.
Most addictions begin as a way of avoiding feelings that are extremely uncomfortable, so it makes sense that stopping the addiction means, for a time, a fair amount of discomfort. The same, of course, is true of habits that we have developed over time that we are ready to release. Just knowing that this is hard, and having compassion for ourselves as we work through this process, can help us to stay the course when we feel the urge to backtrack. It's also helpful to remember that in time we will establish new, healthier patterns, and the yearning for the old ones will disappear. Eventually, we will instinctively reach for things that are good for us, and the longing for positive change may form the basis of a new habit.
The only way to get to this new place is to endure a time of difficulty, which is a challenge we can confidently handle, if we remember that it will lead to the change we seek in our lives. Our bodies, hearts, and minds always need time to adjust to a new way of doing things, but they will adapt, and even become our allies, if we remain true to our vision of a new way.
The Kaleidoscope of Life
Living Together Differently
We tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance, but even in our closest circle of friends and family, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life. We can choose to resist , but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life.
As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are, at this time, thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them, confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off and carry on. This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite, and can't discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of non-being or the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty.
No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges. We will always run into people that are different that we are, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight or flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.
There are times when we might feel the need to wash away all of our troubles and call forth freshness into our lives. Since perhaps the most cleansing substance on this earth is water, we can think of the joy rain brings as an energetic bath, rejuvenating our minds, bodies and souls. Just being able to spend a few moments every time it rains to become aware of the healing powers water brings to us can renew us in so many ways. As we do this we will find that the more we appreciate the universe's gift to us in the form of rain, the more we can see that a gentle rain shower is a strong reflective tool that has the ability to cleanse our entire being.
The next time it rains might be a good chance to experience the rain through all of your senses, allowing you to truly understand just how truly important each and every drop of water is. First, take a few minutes to look outside and notice how each individual raindrop seems to come down in a continual stream. By noticing this you can contemplate how it takes many small accomplishments to create the whole of your existence, for nothing exists in isolation. Then you might wish to focus your attention on the sound of the rainfall, letting the sounds of drops penetrate into the innermost recesses of your self. Listening in this way may bring you a greater sense of connection with nature and the world around you, knowing that the sounds you hear are an integral part of not just the physical sustenance you require but also nourish your spirit as well.
Consciously using our senses to feel nature's healing energy as it comes to us in the form of rain is an act of internal cleansing. Just as the rain physically washes over the earth and rinses out any impurities and imperfections, so it also bathes our spirit in the joy that comes from knowing that we are in fact one with the world around us.
Being Clear About Desires
Getting What We Want
The best way to get what we want from life is to first know what we want. If we haven't taken the time to really understand and identify what would truly make us happy, we won't be able to ask for it from those around us or from the universe. We may not even be able to recognize it once it arrives. Once we are clear about what we want, we can communicate it to those around us. When we can be honest about who we are and what we want, there is no need to demand, be rude or aggressive, or manipulate others that are involved in helping us get what we want. Instead, we know that we are transmitting a signal on the right frequency to bring all that we desire into our experience.
As the world evolves, humanity is learning to work from the heart. We may have been taught that the way to get what we want is to follow certain rules, play particular games, or even engage in acts that use less than our highest integrity. The only rules we need to apply are those of intention and connection. In terms of energy, we can see that it takes a lot of energy to keep up a false front or act in a way that is counter to our true nature, but much less energy is expended when we can just be and enjoy connections that energize us in return. Then our energy can be directed toward living the life we want right now.
Society has certain expectations of behavior and the roles each of us should play, but as spiritual beings we are not bound by these superficial structures unless we choose to accept them. Instead, we can listen to our hearts and follow what we know to be true and meaningful for us. In doing so, we will find others who have chosen the same path. It can be easy to get caught up in following goals that appear to be what we want, but when we pursue the underlying value, we are certain to stay on our right path and continue to feed our soul.
A Full Embrace Excluding Nothing
Finding Peace Within
Most people agree that a more peaceful world would be an ideal situation for all living creatures. However, we often seem stumped as to how to bring this ideal situation into being. If we are to have true peace in this world, each one of us must find it in ourselves first. If we don't like ourselves, for example, we probably won't like those around us. If we are in a constant state of inner conflict, then we will probably manifest conflict in the world. If we have fighting within our families, there can be no peace in the world. We must shine the light of inquiry on our internal struggles, because this is the only place we can really create change.
When we initiate the process of looking inside ourselves for the meaning of peace, we will begin to understand why it has always been so difficult to come by. This in itself will enable us to be compassionate toward the many people in the world who find themselves caught up in conflicts both personal and universal. We may have an experience of peace that we can call up in ourselves to remind us of what we want to create, but if we are human we will also feel the pull in the opposite direction葉he desire to defend ourselves, to keep what we feel belongs to us, to protect our loved ones and our cherished ideals, and the anger we feel when threatened. This awareness is important because we cannot truly know peace until we understand the many tendencies and passions that threaten our ability to find it. Peace necessarily includes, even as it transcends, all of our primal energy, much of which has been expressed in ways that contradict peace.
Being at peace with ourselves is not about denying or rejecting any part of ourselves. On the contrary, in order to be at peace we must be willing and able to hold ourselves, in all our complexity, in a full embrace that excludes nothing. This is perhaps the most difficult part for many of us, because we want so much to disown the negative aspects of our humanity. Ironically, though, true peace begins with a willingness to take responsibility for our humanity so that we might ultimately transform it in the light of our love.
Intuitive Guidance from
Using Yourself as a Pendulum
Learning to trust our intuition is something that can connect us with our higher selves. Sometimes it might not seem easy to do this. Our thoughts and minds often get in the way. But by accessing our innermost self, we will find that the information we receive is usually what we truly need at that moment. One of the techniques that allows us to really get in touch with our deepest font of wisdom is using our body as a pendulum. The simple act of letting our physical being lead us in a certain direction can offer us extremely deep insights and help us find the answers we seek.
Many of us may have tried using a pendulum or crystal on a chain as a dousing tool to acquire the information we need to make decisions or even find lost objects. Using our bodies puts us much more closely in tune with our being. The process of using your body as a pendulum is to ask your higher self a question and wait for your body to respond in either a forward-tilting or backward-tilting motion. The first step is to really understand how our higher self communicates with us by centering our bodies, asking ourselves the directions for "yes" and "no," and noting which way our body moves. For a lot of people a forward motion is "yes," and your body tilting backward is a "no" answer. It is easier to start with simple questions at first to understand how our higher self communicates with us. As we become more used to the messages we receive and how we process them, we can start asking for more specific things such as what dosage of herbs to take or which foods would best nour! ish our bodies. Using this technique in the grocery store or when shopping for vitamins and remedies can be extremely helpful.
Since we are always present in our bodies, understanding how we can use our bodies as pendulums is a tool we can use at any given moment in our lives. Letting our bodies tell us what is happening inside of us will in turn help to guide us through not just daily but also major life decisions. The more we allow our bodies to open up and share with us the connection it has with our deeper self, the better able we will be to truly access the knowledge we hold so deeply within.
If we make no effort at all, our thoughts usually scatter in a vast array of directions. They start and stop and move in surprising ways from one second to the next. If we try to follow our thoughts without controlling them, we will be amazed at how truly inconsistent they are. Yet, if we apply our minds to a specific task, especially one that interests us, they gather together and allow us to focus our attention, creating great power and energy. This is what is known as pure thought, because it is undistracted.
The law of attraction—like attracts like—influences all energy, including our thoughts, and this is what makes pure thought so potent. Our undistracted thoughts create a powerful magnet that draws similar energy into our vibrational field. As a result, the longer we are able to hold positive thoughts in our minds, the more powerful the positive energy around us becomes. We don't need to focus on action and controlling so much when we are surrounded by energy that draws what we want toward us. We can simply respond to the opportunities that naturally come our way. When this is the essence of our experience, we can go with the flow, knowing that we will be okay.
If pure thought is a body, it is our emotions that supply the heart that can really bring it to life. Our thoughts and feelings exist in relation to one another, and they form a feedback loop through which they communicate and empower each other. When we hold a thought in our mind without being distracted, we have achieved pure thought. When we have a positive emotional response to that thought, we enable it to dance and move and breathe itself into existence.
Outside the Comfort Zone
Things We Don't Want to Do
Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we've been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.
Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we're not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn't want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don't want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.
We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it.
Tearing Down to Rebuild
We all know someone who has elevated the process of complaining to a high art. Sometimes funny, sometimes exhausting, these people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere. In its more evolved form, complaining is simply the ability to see what's not working, in one's own life or in the external world, and it can be quite useful if followed to its natural conclusion—finding a solution and applying it. However, many of us don't get that far, and we find that complaining has become an end in itself. In small doses, this is not a big problem, but if complaining has become a huge part of our identities, it may be time to take a good look at how we are spending our energy.
Complaining is a person's way of acknowledging that they are not happy with the way things are. In a metaphorical way, when we complain or criticize, we are tearing down an undesirable structure in order to make room for something new. But if all we do is tear down, never bothering to summon the creative energy required to create something new, we are not fulfilling the process. In fact, we are at risk for becoming a stagnant and destructive force in our own lives and in the lives of the people we love. Another issue with complaining is that we sometimes tend to focus on other people, whom we can't change, as a way of deflecting attention from the one person we can change—ourselves. So transforming complaining into something useful is a twofold process that begins with turning our critical eye to look at things we can actually do something about, and then taking positive action.
When we find ourselves complaining, the last thing we need to do is get down on ourselves. Instead, we can begin by noticing that we are in the mode of wanting to make some changes. But rather than lashing out at somebody or an organization, we can look for an appropriate place to channel this energy—not our neighbor's house, but possibly parts of our own. Finally, we can ask ourselves the positive question of what we would like to create in the place of whatever it is we want to tear down. When we do this, we channel a negative habit into a creative process, thus using our energy to change the world around us in a positive way.
Making Time for Reflection
Going on Retreat
Giving ourselves time to reflect and heal can be a powerful way to process the things that are happening in our lives, and one of the best approaches to do this is by going on a retreat. Going on a retreat means that we have set the intention to heal and learn more about our spirit, and doing this is a decision that we make for ourselves.
Since everyone sees and experiences the world differently, it is important to choose a type of retreat that works best for us. Even though a friend or loved one may recommend something, we have to trust our intuition and select a path that really connects with what our soul needs most at the time. The most essential thing is to be willing to respect our unique stage of development and to be patient with ourselves since any thoughts or issues that arise are simply part of the process of healing. Just remembering that a retreat is an intense period of time where serious soul searching takes place can help us allow whatever may happen to us to fully unfold. Going on retreat may sound like a vacation, but most retreat experiences ask you to look deep inside of yourself, and sometimes this can be uncomfortable or stir the pot of our soul.
Putting our trust in the retreat process will make space for the necessary work we have to do, making it easier for our hearts and minds to explore wholly the innermost reaches of our soul. By paying attention to these messages, we pave the way for greater healing and transformation, since spending time in contemplation at a retreat will give us the gift of insight and understanding that we can use in all aspects of our daily lives.
Repeating Patterns of Meaning
Glancing at the clock may cause us to look again sometimes, especially when we notice that we've caught it at the same time over and over again. Maybe we see the same number pattern echoed everywhere we look—whether on license plates or appliances—over a period of hours or even days. When we accept that there are no coincidences, we know there is a message in the numbers for us, and we know to pay attention to the repeating patterns and search for their true meaning.
Numerology has its basis in the ancient world and tells us that each number carries its own vibration and symbolic significance. It can mark the stages of our soul's evolution as we move from one frequency to the next. Repeating number patterns in our lives may call us to focus on certain aspects of our lives and rise to approach them from the best within us. Once we've recognized that there is something we must look more deeply into, we also must trust that we will be guided to the people and places that hold the right answers for us.
Numbers, as symbols, can carry personal meanings as well. We may have our own lucky number that has served us well throughout our lives and another that reminds us of certain events of significance. If these are the numbers that are appearing, it may be the right time to delve into the past for clues about how to handle a present situation. Many people are seeing 11:11 right now, which can be interpreted as an energetic gateway that has opened for you and is ready to manifest your thoughts into reality. Whatever explanations you receive about the numbers that are appearing everywhere you look, the important thing is to trust your own guidance as to what they are telling you. Each culture attaches different meaning to the numbers, so a Chinese interpretation may be different than an interpretation from Kabalah. It is up to us to use our intuition to see which is the best fit for us. If someone has an explanation that doesn't feel right, then this is not the answer for you but! may be just a clue to keep you moving on the path. By paying attention to the numbers around us, we use them as tools to improve our connection to the universe and our awareness of our choices in life.