Hearing the Whisper
You may have noticed that if you want to speak to someone in a noisy, crowded room, the best thing to do is lean close and whisper. Yelling in an attempt to be louder than the room's noise generally only hurts your throat and adds to the chaos. Similarly, that still, small voice within each of us does not try to compete with the mental chatter on the surface of our minds, nor does it attempt to overpower the volume of the raucous world outside. If we want to hear it, no matter what is going on around us or even inside us, we can always tune in to that soft voice underneath the surrounding noise.
It is generally true that the more insistent voices in our heads delivering messages that make us feel panicky or afraid are of questionable authority. They may be voices we internalized from childhood or from the culture, and as such they possess only half-truths. Their urgency stems from their disconnectedness from the center of our being, and their urgency is what catches our attention. The other voice that whispers reassurances that everything is fundamentally okay simply delivers its message with quiet confidence. Once we hear it, we know it speaks the truth. Generally, once we have heard what it has to say, a powerful sense of calm settles over our entire being, and the other voices and sounds, once so dominant, fade into the background, suddenly seeming small and far away.
We may find that our own communications in the world begin to be influenced by the quiet certainty of this voice. We may be less inclined to indulge in idle chatter as we become more interested in maintaining our connection to the whisper of truth that broadcasts its message like the sound of the wind shaking the leaves of a tree. As we align ourselves more with this quiet confidence, we become an extension of the whisper, penetrating the noise of the world and creating more peace, trust, and confidence. "
Finding Your Tribe
Your Allies on Life's Journey
Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied. Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development.
The individuals who eventually become members of your unique tribe are out there in the wide world waiting for you. You are destined to find them, one by one, as you move through life. Sometimes your own efforts will put you in contact with your future tribe members. At other times, circumstances beyond your control will play a role in helping you connect with your tribe. If you look about you and discover that you are already allied with a wonderful and supportive tribe, remember that there are likely many members of your tribe you have not yet met. On the other hand, if you feel you are still living outside of your tribe, broadening your horizons can help you find your tribe members.
However your life develops after you come together with your tribe, you can be assured that its members will stand at your side. On the surface, your tribe may seem to be nothing more than a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances to whom you ally yourself. Yet when you look deeper, you will discover that your tribe grounds you and provides you with a sense of community that ultimately fulfills many of your most basic human needs.
A Reason to Smile
Five Minutes to Happiness
It can be so easy to get caught up in the rigors of modern life that we tend to forget that happiness need not come with stipulations. Happiness becomes something we must schedule and strive for — a hard-won emotion — and then only when we have no worries to occupy our thoughts. In reality, overwhelming joy is not the exclusive province of those with unlimited time and no troubles to speak of. Many of the happiest people on earth are also those coping with the most serious challenges. They have learned to make time for those simple yet superb pleasures that can be enjoyed quickly and easily. Cultivating a happy heart takes no more than five minutes. The resultant delight will be neither complex nor complicated, but it will be profound and will serve as a reminder that there is always a reason to smile.
So much that is ecstasy-inducing can be accomplished in five minutes. Alone, we can enjoy an aromatic cup of our favorite tea, take a stroll through the garden we have created, write about the day's events in a journal, doodle while daydreaming, or breathe deeply while we listen to the silence around us. In the company of a good friend or treasured relative, we can share a few silly jokes, enjoy a waltz around the room, play a fast-paced hand of cards, or reconnect through lighthearted conversation. The key is to first identify what makes us dizzyingly happy. If we do only what we believe should bring us contentment, our five minutes will not be particularly satisfying. When we allow ourselves the freedom to do whatever brings us pleasure, five minutes out of 14 wakeful hours can brighten our lives immeasurably.
It is often when we have the least free time or energy to devote to joy that we need to unwind and enjoy ourselves the most. Making happiness a priority will help you find five minutes every day to indulge in the things that inspire elation within you. Eventually, your happiness breaks will become an established part of your routine. If you start by pursuing activities you already enjoy and then gradually think up new and different ways to fill your daily five minutes of happiness, you will never be without something to smile about.
Gifts from the Universe
Accepting Your Family
Families can contain a fascinating grouping of personalities. Despite the potential for so many to have similar traits, there are many different ways to express them. As people marry into families and have children, even more personalities enter the picture. There may be some people that we would not choose to be related to, but that's what friends are for.
If we trust in a universe that has a higher purpose for everything, then we must believe that family members are in our lives for a good reason. These reasons may be easy to see and appreciate with some, but others may offer us a challenge. With those, we can look for something we can learn or perhaps teach. In the modern world where everyone seeks to be individuals, many move far away from their families in an attempt to escape them. But when we've successfully built a world around us that requires no one's help, our families are the people who are still attached to us. We can still choose whether or not to honor the family ties, and how to treat each other, but the fact remains that we are energetically tied to our families.
Our families help us see where we have come from so that we may more clearly decide where we'd like to go. If we can learn to accept our families for who they are, then we go out into the world armed with the ability to deal with anyone. Some families are better than others at preparing us for the world. What we learn from our families, even if they are simply blank spots on our family trees, becomes the basis of our identities as individuals. Rather than denying our connections, we can choose to accept their presence in our lives. Acceptance does not mean we have to like them; we simply acknowledge that we are connected to them and honor that connection for like it or not, there is a reason. When we can embrace all that they bring into our experience, we may be grateful for all we have learned from them and have to learn, while we experience everything that comes with family fully and completely.
Spreading Your Light
How You Affect Others Daily
As the pace and fullness of modern life serve to isolate us from one another, the contact we do share becomes vastly more significant. We unconsciously absorb each other's energy, adopting the temperament of those with whom we share close quarters, and find ourselves changed after the briefest encounters. Everything we do or say has the potential to affect not only the individuals we live, work, and play with but also those we've just met. Though we may never know the impact we have had or the scope of our influence, accepting and understanding that our attitudes and choices will affect others can help us remember to conduct ourselves with grace at all times. When we seek always to be friendly, helpful, and responsive, we effortlessly create an atmosphere around ourselves that is both uplifting and inspiring.
Most people rarely give thought to the effect they have had or will have on others. When we take a few moments to contemplate how our individual modes of being affect the people we spend time with each day, we come one step closer to seeing ourselves through the eyes of others. By asking ourselves whether those we encounter walk away feeling appreciated, respected, and liked, we can heighten our awareness of the effect we ultimately have. Something as simple as a smile given freely can temporarily brighten a person's entire world. Our value-driven conduct may inspire others to consider whether their own lives are reflective of their values. A word of advice can help others see life in an entirely new fashion. And small gestures of kindness can even prove to those embittered by the world that goodness still exists. By simply being ourselves, we influence other's lives in both subtle and life-altering ways.
To ensure that the effect we have is positive, we must strive to stay true to ourselves while realizing that it is the demeanor we project and not the quality of our wondrous inner landscapes that people see. Thus, as we interact with others, how we behave can be as important as who we are. If we project our passion for life, our warmth, and our tolerance in our facial features, voice, and choice of words, every person who enters our circle of influence will leave our presence feeling at peace with themselves and with us. You never know whose life you are affecting, big or small. Try to remember this as you go out into the world each day.
Healing Your Sole
Our feet are home to literally thousands of nerve endings and almost seventy acupuncture points, which is why foot reflexology is so effective. By massaging and stimulating specific areas on the soles of our feet, we can provide general support for our entire body, improve sleep patterns, increase physical and mental wellbeing and also alleviate chronic conditions such as sinusitis and digestive upset. Although it is wonderful to work with an experienced foot reflexologist whenever possible, we can also develop a practice of treating ourselves to a self-reflexology treatment if we take some time for this purpose before we begin our day or in the evening to relax before going to bed.
There are a number of different ways to work the soles of your feet, including walking barefoot on river stones, rolling each foot over a golf or tennis ball, or just using your fingers and hands to massage your feet. When starting a reflexology session, it's a good idea to begin with loosening up your ankles – rotate each foot clockwise then counterclockwise about ten times. You might also want to pinch the end of your toes, which can increase circulation and drainage in your sinuses and stimulate your pituitary and pineal glands. Then you can begin massaging the ball of your foot, the arch, and the heel. If you find that an area is tender, it may indicate some distress or dysfunction occurring in the corresponding area of the body. You may want to explore what is going on with that organ or system.
Whether we are able to spend just a few minutes a day on this kind of self-care or a full half hour, our efforts are never wasted. By taking responsibility for our own health and taking time every day to connect with our body, we can not only assist our body in letting go of stress and dysfunction, but we can also continue to support an ongoing sense of wellness and vitality.
A Legacy of Love
Leaving the Earth a Better Place
We inherit this great planet from our parents and from the generations that came before. Then, in concert with the surrounding culture, our elders teach us how to care for the land and the sea, ourselves and each other. They model ways of being in relationship with every other expression of life on earth. But whether they act with care or carelessness, compassion or cruelty, generosity or greed, we have the ability to choose our own individual way of relating with the planet and her inhabitants. From our first breath here to our very last, we will find infinite opportunities to influence our environment for the better. We can decide now to act with intention in order to leave this amazing planet brighter and more beautiful than when we arrived.
If we enjoy environmental activism, we might feel moved to clean up beaches or to plant trees. But, we need not feel limited in our ability to contribute positively. There are many ways to leave a legacy of love. We might begin by radiating affirmative thoughts and feelings about how magnificent the earth truly is. We might create and tend a special garden, one that provides an abundance of food and herbs for ourselves and our loved ones. Or we might create a garden filled with sweet smelling flowers to uplift our hearts. We might even honor the earth simply by trying to be the best person we can be while we are here. Such good will can have a domino effect, inspiring others to contribute in their own way as well.
We spend our lifetimes being nourished and enlivened by the rain, sun, soil and wind. Our experience is blessed by other living beings, from plants to insects to birds and humans. We receive so much; giving back just naturally feels good. When we live our lives with intention of leaving this temporary home a better place for generations to come, we are perhaps leaving behind the best gift of all.
One Day at a Time
The years of our life do not arrive all at once; they greet us day by day. With the descent of each setting sun, we are able to rest our heads and let the world take care of itself for a while. We may rest assured throughout the night, knowing that the dawn will bring with it a chance to meet our lives anew, donning fresh perspectives and dream-inspired hopes. The hours that follow, before we return to sleep once more, are for us to decide how we want to live and learn, laugh and grow. Our lives are sweeter and more manageable because we must experience them this way: one day at a time.
Imagine the future stretching out before you and try to notice if you feel any tension or overwhelm at the prospect of the journey still to come. Perhaps you have recently made a lifestyle change, like beginning a new diet or quitting smoking, and the idea of continuing this healthy new behavior for years seems daunting. Maybe you have started a new job or are newly married and can feel an undercurrent of anxiety about your ability to succeed. If you can shift your focus from what may happen years down the line and return it to the day that is before you right now, you may find a measure of calm and renewed confidence in your capabilities. You may also discover an inner faith that the future will take care of itself.
The way we show up for our lives today and tomorrow has an enormous affect on who we will be and what we will be experiencing years from now. If we can remain fully engaged in the day at hand, enjoying all it has to offer and putting our energy into making the most of it, we will find that we are perfectly ready and capable to handle any future when it arrives.