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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tipping the Scale

I’d like to talk about anger, blame, fault finding and criticism. A nasty bunch to be sure and this insidious clan loves to masquerade as righteous, indignant and noble. They are anything but. It is typical of us, when our eyes are closed to our souls and our fearful personalities are in the driver’s seat, to use these tools as a means of justifying all manner of hurtful behavior. I think the Buddha summed it up best when he put forth this concept…

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone. You are the one getting burned."

Anytime we, for example, blame another, we can be certain that eventually and very plausibly sooner rather than later, we will be blamed ourselves. The same holds true for all the others as well. Every time we invoke one of these negative tools, it returns to us and usually it has several nasty friends in tow. There is neither a good place nor a good time to unleash a negative force that will, most certainly come back to us. Step out of the situation, ask, choose and learn.

Words are another avenue that will allow you to tip the balance of your day toward the positive. It has long been understood by both linguists and psychologists that words have a dramatic impact on the nervous system; both that of the speaker as well as the listener. Whether those words are part of our internal dialog or spoken aloud, the effect remains. Words have an effect on our heart rate, blood pressure, and as was demonstrated in the famous water experiments conducted by Dr. Masura Emoto, even on the cells and molecules of our bodies. In these experiments, words were taped to the exterior of containers containing water molecules. Words like , “Thank you” and “I love you”. The crystals were then frozen and produced spectacular, beautiful crystals displaying cohesive patterns. Conversely, when negative words such as “I hate you” and “You make me sick” were attached to the containers, the frozen water molecules displayed incoherent patterns that were anything but beautiful and geometric. Considering that our bodies are made up of over 70% water, imagine the impact words have on our physiology. It should therefore be of great concern to us the words we choose to communicate both with ourselves and others. A steady stream of words like love, beautiful, fantastic, gorgeous, wonderful, exciting, etc. will produce pronounced positive states while words like hate, horrible, awful, terrible, etc. will produce corresponding negative states so choose wisely.

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

Lastly I’d like to share the simple observation that every day, at its conclusion, will exist somewhere on a continuum between positive and negative. It will have been more of one than the other. When you begin to consistently produce days in which you have exhibited and put forth more positivity than negativity, the circumstances of your life will change for the good so rapidly that you will hardly be able to believe it. I know, I’ve been there. Your limitations will begin to disengage and your attained goals will be screaming toward you like a locomotive. It is not necessary to be perfect each day. You only need tip the scale 51% toward the positive for everything to begin to change. As your awareness and consciousness begin to shift, the 51% will give way to 60%, then 70% and so on. By that time, you will scarcely recognize your life as the same one you lived previously and in fact, it won’t be. Your past incarnation will be but a dim and pale comparison to the light, love and accomplishment that will become your daily reality. Remember, every possibility for you in the universe already exists and it has since the moment of creation. You simply call it out of The Field and into your life. Focusing on what you want as a present reality, empowering it with strong emotion, tipping the balance of your life to the positive and being grateful is how it all happens.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An excerpt from Chapter One...

Many philosophers, teachers, shaman, religious leaders and certainly many texts, both ancient and modern share the idea that creation is not the sole domain of God or the universe. They believe that creation is a never ending process that we are all engaged in all the time. Every choice we are faced with is an opportunity to create and learn and we will engage in this process regardless of whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Every time we choose, we create. We collapse the quantum possibilities into  but one, the one of our choosing. If we are in fact conscious of this, then we tend to create what we want. If we are not, then we are at the mercy of whatever frequency we happen to be on at that particular moment.

 For example, let’s say you are returning home from work and as you approach your driveway you see that your path is blocked by your children’s toys that you have repeatedly asked them not to leave there. You are immediately faced with a choice, several actually. You could exit your vehicle, remove the toys from your path, park the car, go inside, hug your children and leave it at that. You could run over the toys and then explain to your crying children that had they not left their toys in the driveway, they would not have been reduced to rubbish. Each of these choices is available to you equally. Each will produce a dramatically different outcome for both you and your kids. If you are not consciously determining which option you will choose then you will most likely choose based solely upon the mood (frequency) you happen to be in at that moment. If you are in a negative state because of some occurrence at work, you will tend toward the negative response and vice versa. It is only by becoming consciously aware that you even have a choice that you will choose the outcome you want to create but you will, no matter what, create. We are only slaves to our emotions when we fail to realize we have choices and fail to exercise those choices.

Many people believe that we are all in “Earth School”.  That we all possess infinite and unlimited creative power and our time on earth is designed to give us the opportunity to learn how to use that awesome power with love for ourselves and our fellow beings. When considered thoroughly, it makes a great deal of sense. The Christian Bible says we are all made in the image of God. I imagine that doesn’t much mean that we look like God but that we function in a way similar to God, as loving, creative beings. Think of it this way; at some point Michelangelo held a rock in his young hands and started chipping away at it. I suspect he was quite proud of the first lump he crafted and eagerly declared it to be a frog or a bird. I also suspect that his mother marveled at it and declared to him that it was beautiful then encouraged the young creator to go forth and continue creating. This is the sort of path that leads to a piece of art as magnificent as the statue of David.  We have a choice in our time here. The choice is to consciously choose what we create or to create by default. Therein lays the difference.

We all know people whose lives are joyous, healthful, abundant, loving and beautiful. Conversely, we probably know far more people who continually struggle through all manner of difficulty… financial, health, relationships and a host of others. What’s the difference? How is it that life seems so easy for some yet so incredibly difficult for others? Is it because, “Life’s not fair”? because “Life is hard”? Very true IF that’s what you choose to believe. Is it because they had a bad childhood, bad parents, bad teachers, no advantages? Here is the difference that makes the difference…it is what they habitually think about. The quality of one’s thoughts becomes the quality of one’s life. Focus all your attention on the negative aspects of your life and what you don’t want and that is exactly what you will create…every time. To illustrate, try this…don’t think of a blue horse. See what I mean? Neither the universe nor your unconscious mind takes notice of negative modifiers such as “don’t”. It only responds to blue horse. It can be no other way.  If you are using the Law of Attraction to manifest, for example, wealth and your constant focus is on a lack of money, guess what? Right, you will manifest a lack of money. If on the other hand your focus is on abundance, that is what you will create…, it’s that simple.

Next let’s consider the powerful belief that everything happens exactly as it should; that there is meaning for us in every event and circumstance of our lives. No problem comes to us that we did not draw to ourselves. Every perceived problem carries for us a gift for us in its hands…the opportunity to choose and learn. The ancient Hawaiian philosophy of Huna teaches this and St. Paul, while sitting in a Roman prison said, “Count it all joy” when referring to trials and problems. Our entire experience is simply what we perceive, not what “is”. There is no such thing as objective experience, there is only subjectivity. It is for this reason that several people can witness an accident and give utterly different accounts. Each of them is processing through the filters they have accumulated from a lifetime of experiences. Each of them has their own distinct reality. None is right, none is wrong, they just “are”.  Once we come to understand this, we can begin to understand that everything has meaning for us. We will dig into this in more detail a bit later in the book.

The last concept I’d like to introduce in this chapter is duality. There are two very distinct and usually opposing parts of your humanity; your personality and your soul. This may at first seem peculiar to your sensibilities so allow me explain. Your soul is your true self. It is the very essence of your eternal being. Your soul is that part of you that is only concerned with love. To it, that is all there is. Your personality, on the other hand, is that portion of your earth bound physical self that strives to protect your ego which is merely an illusion. Every negative aspect of your life experience is a function of that personality and its ongoing mission to preserve the ego. ALL negativity we experience is the result of the personality manifesting fear of something…loss, abandonment, poverty, rejection, illness, and ultimately dying or annihilation.  It is fear that drives all human conflict; between partners in intimate relationships as well as between tribes and nations.

 For example, let’s say your spouse arrives home somewhat later than you anticipated without calling to inform you. When he or she finally does arrive, the hostilities erupt. Why? Why are you not simply content in the joy of their safe arrival? Why do you feel compelled to react with anger, to make the other person feel badly, to punish them in some way?  It is fear at work in you; fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and the like. What takes place is the fearful parts of your personality take over; you literally become possessed by them and you believe that you have no choice in your behavioral response and therein, you err. As we saw earlier, you always have a choice but only in as much as you realize that you do. In order to consistently exercise choice that supports the intention of your soul, you must become the silent “watcher” of your feelings, emotions and reactions. This is the beginning of enlightenment. When you master the ability to recognize the fearful parts of your personality attempting to take you over and you challenge and reject them in favor of the intentions of your soul, you are on the path to true peace; the kind of peace that can only come when the intentions of your personality are aligned with the intentions of your soul. This state is not something that happens overnight or without vigilance and practice. You are, after all, attempting to overcome a lifetime of operating by default or on auto-pilot however, with time and patience, it most certainly can be achieved. The bottom line here is we all have choice, even in the circumstances that seem to demand only one response. We simply have to wake up to that fact and choose. When the Buddha was asked how he wanted to be remembered he replied simply, “As one who woke up.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Purpose, Passion and Happiness

"If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his child, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that had rolled under the radiator, striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day." ~W. Beran Wolfe

 Happiness, it the most sought after of all the human emotions and yet, for most, the most elusive. We even struggle in our efforts to define it but one thing is certain…we know when we have it and are perhaps even more acutely aware of when we do not. We engage in all manner of behaviors and enlist the help of a myriad of chemicals to either achieve it or at least, make its absence more tolerable. In this chapter we are going to explore what causes happiness and how passion and purpose relate to it. Did you know that according to recent studies that Japan is the least happy developed nation in the world and Denmark is the most happy? What could be behind the huge gap in the GNH (Gross National Happiness) of these two countries? Well there are, of course, numerous factors however a simple few seem to be the difference that makes the difference. After World War II, Japan’s infrastructure and economy were decimated. The government knew that if the country was to recover from the devastating effects of the war, a near maniacal work ethic had to become a part of the very fabric of the society. The massive government propaganda initiatives to make this happen were hugely successful and Japan’s meteoric rise to economic superpower was the envy of the world, but at a terrible price. The citizens were so overworked that the resulting stress began killing them…killing them in sufficient numbers that a new category for death statistics had to be created. The term is Karoshi and its literal translation is “death from overwork”. There are today regular Karoshi memorials and support groups across the country.

 Contrast that to Denmark with the highest GNH in the world. There are the obvious factors that contribute such as free healthcare for everyone from birth until death and free education through the college level however there seems to be something else at work as well…community. In Denmark, more people live in communal types of environments that in any other developed nation. Groups of families live in shared housing on plots of land that they farm collectively. Many things are shared including chores, child care and more. So that brings us to the question of just what does and, just as importantly, does not create happiness. There are essentially two types of goals that we humans tend to adopt, intrinsic goals and extrinsic goals. We most often focus on three types of goals in each of the two categories. Within the intrinsic group there is service to community, personal growth and relationships. The extrinsic three are money, image and status (power). Virtually every study conducted in the last 30 years has found that groups of people who tend toward the pursuit of the intrinsic goals are happier on average than those pursuing the extrinsic goals. One need not look very far for empirical evidence of this. As a matter of fact, we need only look in our own back yard. The United States citizenry consumes more anti-depressant drugs, per-capita, than any nation on earth and yet we have more economic opportunity than virtually anyone. So what is the mechanism that is responsible for this? If the most current research in the emerging field of positive psychology is any indication, it is our largely external focus.

 We have all heard the phrase, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Well, yes and no. A survey of people ranging in economic conditions from homeless to $500,000 in annual income found that the difference in reported happiness in the income range from $0 to $50,000 annually was substantial however; the reported happiness jump from $50,000 to $500,000 was far less. What this points to is that a certain amount of money is required for most people to experience a basic level of happiness. Enough money to provide adequate housing, food and clothing seems to do the trick. On the other hand, a significantly higher income beyond that level does not produce a corresponding jump in reported happiness.

 So if money isn’t the panacea that most of us have been led to believe by society, school, parent or media, then what is it? What is it that, as found in another recent study, allows Indian rickshaw drivers living in what we would consider deplorable conditions to report being happier than most affluent Americans report being? Perhaps it is image? Image is one of the big three extrinsic goals and in America, image is king! Simply turn on your flat panel, high definition television and have a look. We are constantly bombarded with the message that in order for us to be happy we must drive the expensive car, wear the designer clothes, eat at the happening restaurants, etc. Not to say that there is anything at all wrong with these things if you enjoy them, just don’t expect them to provide sustained happiness, they will most certainly disappoint.

 This is primarily thanks to the rule of hedonic adaptation which describes the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. Essentially, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. Brickman and Campbell coined the term in 1971 in their essay "Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society". During the late ’90s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychology researcher, to become the current 'hedonic treadmill theory' which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep working just to stay in the same place.

 We’ll come back to happiness, let’s shift gears and talk about purpose. For many people it is the overarching question of their lives…what is my purpose? For many others, it is a question that long ago faded from view, obscured by jobs, mortgages, kids, bills and the like. But whether it is something you contemplate daily or haven’t given a passing thought for decades, it is probably THE single most important question you can ask yourself. Why? Simple, because until your life is aligned with your purpose, happiness will remain a coy and elusive mistress to be glimpsed but never possessed. So what exactly is purpose? It is the thing you that you are most suited to do…the gift unique to you that you were meant to share with the world. To the Buddhist or eastern mystic, it is what you chose to incarnate on this earth to do. To the Christian or Jew, it is God’s plan for your life. However you choose to understand it, it is what the universe has uniquely equipped you and only you to accomplish. It is the essence of your higher self and the truth of your soul.