Coming Full Circle
Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem. However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.
When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.
Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it's also important to pause and take a look at the ground we've covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from.
Going Through A Phase
We are all almost always in the process of learning something new, developing an underused ability or talent, or toning down an overused one. Some of us are involved in learning how to speak up for ourselves, while others are learning how to be more considerate. In the process of becoming, we are always developing and fine tuning one or the other of our many qualities, and it is a natural part of this process that things tend to get out of balance. This may be upsetting to us, or the people around us, but we can trust that it's a normal part of the work of self-development.
For example, we may go through a phase of needing to learn how to say no, as part of learning to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. During this time, we might say no to just about everything, as a way of practicing and exploring this ability. Like a child who learns a new word, we want to try out this new avenue of expression and empowerment as much as we can because it is new and exciting for us and we want to explore it fully. In this way, we are mastering a new skill, and eventually, as we integrate it into our overall identity, it will resume its position as one part of our balanced life.
In this process, we are overcompensating for a quality that was suppressed in our life, and the swinging of the pendulum from under-use to overuse serves to bring that quality into balance. Understanding what's happening is a useful tool that helps us to be patient with the process. In the end, the pendulum settles comfortably in the center, restoring balance inside and out.
Our bodies are over fifty percent water, so it makes sense that human beings have always considered water to be a sacred source of life and healing. It is literally half of who we are, and well over half of the earth's surface is water. Water cleanses and hydrates, contains and produces nourishment, and when we enter it, holds us in an embrace that leaves no part of us untouched. Meditating with water can be a powerful way of aligning ourselves more fully with this support system that makes life both possible and pleasurable on so many levels.
We may wish to conduct our meditation while in physical contact with a body of water, whether in the intimacy of our bathtub or the vast container of an ocean. We might float on our backs in a swimming pool or sit with just our feet submerged in a pond or creek. On the other hand, we may simply close our eyes and choose a location based on our imagination. Whatever we choose, we can begin by closing our eyes and listening to our breathing. At the same time, we tune in to the particular music of the water we have chosen—the loud rushing of a river or waterfall, or the surreal silence of the world beneath the surface of the ocean. We might consider how the type of water we choose reflects what we seek—the peace beneath the hectic surface of life, the cleansing power of a river racing through a canyon, or the mood lifting, melodic bubbling of a lively creek.
As we move between awareness of our breath and awareness of the water in which we find ourselves, we can begin to release the things we no longer need into the rushing river, or release ourselves completely into the water's embrace as we float, in our minds, in the watery womb of an ocean or a lake. When you feel you are ready to return to more solid ground, ease your body back onto earth, in your mind or in reality, and lie flat on your back, allowing the water to bead and roll off your skin, soaking the earth and evaporating into the air, leaving you cleansed, healed, and renewed.
Entering into our own spirituality is a private journey. Each of us will be drawn to a different gateway to begin on our personal path to awakening to a greater experience of ourselves. Even though we may be taught certain philosophies or beliefs as children, we still need to find our own way of understanding and applying them in our lives. For those who are raised without a spiritual framework, they may not even know their process as a form of spirituality. But at some stage in their lives, whether in youth or adulthood, they are likely to recognize the resonance of their beliefs, the ring of truth in their philosophy, and their dedication to their chosen purpose.
Our inner guidance will lead us, so that we will be drawn to the right doorway for us--a doorway that only we can recognize by the way it makes us feel inside. It could be a picture of an angel or the gift of a crystal. We may meet someone special who shares their experiences with us in a way that we find intriguing. While visiting the home of an admired friend, we may notice a book or statue of a diety, and ask why they chose those tools. Or a word or phrase may catch our attention in a song, or a lecture. For some they may find their way by walking through the experience of illness before they begin the search for what will help them to truly heal, while others may seek physical improvement and stumble across yoga or meditation--only to find that it leads them to an unexpected place beyond the body.
As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us.
Finding Our Life's Work
Sometimes it takes us the better part of a lifetime to discover our life's work, even though we may have been doing it our whole lives without necessarily realizing it. Our life's work is not always what we do to make money, although we often think it should be, and sometimes this way of thinking prevents us from seeing clearly what it is. It may be the work of having children, caring for them, and running a household. The way we know our life's work is by how we feel when we are doing it.
When we are doing our life's work, we feel an uncanny sense of ease and alignment. This doesn't mean that the work is always easy, and it doesn't mean that it' the only work we have to do; it just means that there is a conviction deep inside us that tells us we are in tune with our innermost self. When we are engaged in our life's work, our bodies feel more alive, because our energy is devoted to a cause that, in turn, feeds us. We may be tired after engaging in our life's work, but we are almost never depleted. We feel grounded in the world, knowing that we belong here and have something important to offer.
When we are deeply unhappy, depressed, or subject to one illness after another, this may be due to a sense of disconnection from our life's work. At times like these, finding the work we are meant to do is an essential act of healing. Most of us remember a time when we felt fully engaged in some act of work, service or creativity, and it is here that we may rediscover the work we are meant to do now. On the other hand, it may be time to explore what inspires us through volunteering, taking a class, going back to school, or just doing whatever it is we long to try. We all have callings, and when we find them, we owe it to ourselves to nurture and protect them, because while they may or may not be our livelihood, they are the keys to our wellbeing.
Saying Yes To The Universe
The hardest thing about saying yes to the universe is that it means accepting everything life puts in front of us. Most of us have a habit of going through our days saying no to the things we don't like and yes to the things we do, and yet, everything we encounter is our life. We may be afraid that if we say yes to the things we don't like, we will be stuck with them forever, but really, it is only through acknowledging the existence of what's not working for us that we can begin the process of change. So saying yes doesn't mean indiscriminately accepting things that don't work for us. It means conversing with the universe, and starting the conversation with a very powerful word — yes.
When we say yes to the universe, we enter into a state of trust that whatever our situation is, we can work with it. We express confidence in ourselves, and the universe, and we also express a willingness to learn from whatever comes our way, rather than running and hiding when we don't like what we see. The question we might ask ourselves is what it will take for us to get to the point of saying yes. For some of us, it takes coming up against something we can't ignore, escape, or deny, and so we are left no choice but to say yes. For others, it just seems a natural progression of events that leads us to making the decision to say yes to life.
The first step to saying yes is realizing that in the end it is so much easier than the alternative. Once we understand this, we can begin examining the moments when we resist what is happening, and experiment with occasionally saying yes instead. It might be scary at first, and even painful at times, but if we continue to say yes to every moment through the process, we will discover the joy of being in a positive conversation with a force much bigger than ourselves.
Working With Angels
At some point in our lives, we are likely to find ourselves asking for help, perhaps from no one in particular, and without knowing where help could possibly come from. We may have raised our eyes skyward or whispered our need under our breath only to find that somehow we were heard, and the help we needed arrived. It might have come in the form of a person who appeared at the right time, or perhaps it came in the form of luck, chance, or divine intervention. However assistance appears, these are times when we can be sure that there are angels watching over us.
We may find ourselves asking for their help with simple things—like finding a parking spot or to watch over loved ones—but then we forgot to call on them when we found ourselves alone or in pain. We don't need to be aware of them to receive their assistance, but there is comfort in the knowledge that they are there for us when we need them. And when we remain open to their presence, we can call on them whenever we need them to connect and be nurtured by their ethereal and heavenly energy.
As symbols of grace and gentle encouragement, they can offer us comfort as they enfold us in their wings or lift our spirit as they take flight. We may be warmed by their glow, guided by their gentle nudges or inspired by their whispers in our ears. We may hear the name of our angel and feel a personal connection, but it isn't necessary. All they need is to be heard, to see us benefit from their guidance and perhaps to hear a word of thanks sent their way every now and then. Whether they appear in the guise of a helpful stranger, or as a thought that suddenly occurs to us, angels are our loving guides from the spiritual realm, who with a brush of their angelic wings help us to make the most of our human experience by balancing it with the spiritual awareness that all things are possible and that we are not alone.
A Home Of Love
At their best, our homes act as our sanctuaries. They are the nests we return to for rest and nurturing nourishment before we venture out once again to spread our wings and fly. But there are times that we may feel quite differently about our homes—times when we feel surrounded by turmoil rather than harmony, or mired in chaos rather than immersed in peace. It is at these times that we have the power to decide to bring more love into our homes.
When we choose love, we are choosing to begin within. With a deep breath, we close our eyes and ask that when we open them again, we will see where we can make shifts to create greater harmony. These may be inner shifts, such as accepting others' personality traits and working with them rather than against them. Or they may be changes we can make with items around the house--removing the ones that cause frustration and displaying things that make us feel good. Then, we reach out to the people with whom we share our homes--whether they are family members or another combination of people who share our space. We can help to shift their perceptions toward the positive by asking each person to think about their ideal living situation. After allowing some time for reflection, gathering to discuss each person's ideas may lead to the discovery that there are conflicting concepts about what your shared home should provide. Once this information is out in the open, we have a roadmap f! or creating balance and harmony from seemingly disparate desires. Together, agreements can be made to enable all to take the steps needed to create a unified vision.
When we have consciously chosen to make our home a place of harmony, then love's energy can expand throughout the lives of all who live there. Each person will be nurtured, allowing them to take that peace and serenity with them into the world, sharing it with whomever they may encounter; and making every space they enter a warmer and more loving place for everyone.
We have all had the experience of reacting in a way that was less than ideal upon hearing bad news, or being unfairly criticized, or being told something we did not want to hear. This makes sense because when our emotions are triggered, they tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak. We may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether it's yelling back at the person yelling at us, or rushing to deliver words of comfort to a friend in trouble. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life.
For one thing, our initial response is not always what's best for us, or for the other people involved. Reacting to childish rage with childish rage will only escalate the negativity in a situation, further ensnaring us in an undesirable dynamic. Similarly, when we react defensively, or simply thoughtlessly, we often end up feeling regret over our words or actions. In the end, we save ourselves a lot of pain when we take a deep breath and really tune in to ourselves, and the other person, before we respond. This doesn't necessarily mean we don't say anything, although in some cases, that may be the best option.
Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause, and in that pause, take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and listen for a response to arise within you, rather than just going with the first thing that pops into your head. You may find that in that moment, there is the potential to move beyond reaction and into the more subtle and creative realm of response, where something new can happen.
We all have defense mechanisms that we've developed over time, often without being aware of it. In times of trouble, the behaviors that have worked to get us past challenges with the least amount of pain are the ones that we repeat; even when part of us knows they no longer work. Such behavior is a natural response from our mental and physical aspects. But because we are spiritual beings as well, we have the ability to rise above habits and patterns to see the truth that lay beyond. And from that moment on, we can make choices that allow us to work directly from that place of truth within us.
Most of our defense mechanisms were developed in childhood; from the moment that we realized crying would get us the attention we craved. Passive aggressive ways of communicating may have allowed us to get what we needed without being scolded, punished or laughed at, so we learned to avoid being direct and honest. Some of us may have taken refuge in the lives of others, discovering ways to direct attention away from ourselves entirely. Throwing ourselves into projects or rescuing others from themselves can be effective ways to avoid dealing with our own issues. And when people are truly helped by our actions, we get the added bonus of feeling heroic. But while defenses can keep away the things we fear, they can also work to keep our good from us.
When we can be honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, then we can connect our desires to the creative power of the spirit within us. Knowing that we are one with the energy of the universe allows us release any need for defense. Trusting that power, we know that we are exactly where we are meant to be, and that challenges bring gifts of growth and experience. When we can put down arms raised in defense, then we are free to use our hands, minds, hearts and spirits to mold and shape our abundant energy to create and live our lives.
The Inner Voice
Giving Away Power
In many ways, we are taught from the time we are children to give away our power to others. When we were told to kiss and hug relatives or friends of the family when we didn't want to, for example, we were learning to override our inner sense of knowing and our right to determine for ourselves what we want to do. This repression continued, most likely, in many experiences at school and in situations at work. At this point, we may not even know how to hold on to our power, because giving it away is so automatic and ingrained.
To some degree, giving our energy to other people is simply part of the social contract, and we feel that we have to do it in order to survive. It is possible to exchange energy in a way that preserves our inner integrity and stability. This begins in a small way: by listening to the voice that continues to let us know what we want, no matter how many times we override its messages.
Other examples of how we give away our power are buying into trends, letting other people always make decisions for us, not voting, and not voicing an opinion when an inappropriate joke is made. But with not giving our power away we must also be aware of the opposite side, which is standing in our power but being aggressive. Being aggressive is a form of fear, and the remedy is to let our inner balance come back into play.
As we build a relationship with our power, and follow it, we begin to see that we don't always have to do what we're being asked to do by others, and we don't have to jump on every trend. All we have to do is have the confidence to listen to our own voice and let it guide us as we make our own decisions in life and remember the necessity for balance.
The Direction Of Happiness
Leaving A Relationship
One of the hardest decisions we ever make in life is leaving a long-term relationship that just isn't working. When attempts at repairing and working out issues aren't working, it may be time to examine moving on. We are emotional creatures, and when our heartstrings are tied to those of another, separating from that person can feel like an act of courage. It is not something most of us will take lightly, and many of us will struggle with our desire to stay in a relationship that is unfulfilling simply in order to avoid that pain. We may question whether the happiness we seek even exists, and we may wonder if we might be wiser to simply settle where we are, making the best of what we have.
On the one hand, we almost relish the idea that true happiness is not out there so that we can avoid the pain of change. On the other hand, we feel within ourselves a yearning to fulfill our desire for relationships that are vital and healing. Ultimately, most of us will follow this call, because deep within ourselves we know that we deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be happy, no matter where we find ourselves in this moment, and we are all justified in moving, like plants toward the light, in the direction that leads to our greatest fulfillment. First, though, we may need to summon the courage to move on from the relationship that appears to be holding us back.
Taking the first steps will be hard, but the happiness we find when we have freed ourselves from a situation that is draining our energy will outshine any hardship we undergo to get there. Keeping our eyes trained on the horizon, we begin the work of disentangling ourselves from the relationship that no longer fits. Every step brings us closer to a relationship that will work, and the freedom we need to find the happiness we deserve.