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Archive for the ‘Finding Your Center’ Category

Willingness

How willing are you?  For myself and for many others,  I believe we maintain a strong inner belief that we are ‘naturally willing’, ‘naturally altruistic’.  We are inherently willing to put forth the necessary effort to achieve our personal goals, to add the the welfare of community, to secure ‘the good life’, to attain spiritual integrity and maturation.  But are we really?

Willingness is essential to success in any endeavor.  As you move forward with your plans and goals bring willingness and unwillingness fully, consciously into the equation, into the planning and into the execution of those plans.  When willingness actively becomes part of the process, we gain clarity, insight and wisdom.  We are able to make a stronger commitment greatly enhancing our prospect for success regardless of the challenge or goal.

Flight From The Shadow

“There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he determined to get rid of both.  The method he hit upon was to run away from them.

So he got up and ran.  But every time he put his foot down there was another step,  while his shadow kept up with him without the slightest difficulty.

He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough.  So he ran faster and faster, without stopping, until he finally dropped dead.

He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish, and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.”

The Way of Chuang Tzu,  Thomas Merton (1965).

Change

Change is the only constant.  We humans don’t much like change.  We admit to the importance of growth and maturation in the body, mind and spirit.  Yet we most often are dragged, kicking and screaming, down the path of growth and change.

Change is challenging, often painful, always full of uncertainty; even when the changes are positive and we feel ‘certain’ of the outcome. 

Acceptance is the first step toward mastering the process of change.  If necessary, re-framing our perspective about the vicissitudes of life is imperative.  It is not about what happens to us, but rather, how we manage, how we handle the changes that come our way. 

To manage change successfully is to be as objective as possible, while at the same time, honoring our emotions and holding fast to our truths and our faith; trusting the process.  Believing that if we do our part the best we can, that we will find peace and triumph in the face of change. 

Change is an inherent part of existence.  Work to accept the change, perhaps even learn to embrace change…it is our life’s constant.  Certainly a task much, much easier said than done!

Fall Equinox 2010

Today marks the Fall Equinox and the movement of the Sun into Libra whose symbol or totem is the scales.  This day marks the ‘balance’ between the light and the dark; a day when the time of light and dark are equal.  It also marks the ascension of the dark as we move toward the Winter Solstice.  

The Equinox is a beautiful reminder of the importance of being in harmony with cycles and seasons.  We can feel the brisk air, see the turning leaf, reap the harvest and give thanks for our bounties.  It is a good time to take stock of our year to date; to get our balance sheet in order.

The Four Agreements IV

The fourth agreement in The Four agreements is to Always Do Your Best.  Making this agreement a routine, a habit assures the implementation and success of the other three.

We don’t try, we do.  Often we hold ourselves to unrealistic standards.  Believing, for example, that we can watch TV all day yet still find the time and energy to meet the day’s demands.  Conversely, we may believe that always doing your best means that always performing prodigiously is a personal standard.  Both of these beliefs are inherently flawed.

One cannot twitter away the day and expect to not be rushed, frustrated and unhappy with chores, commitments and goals left undone or only partially completed.  Likewise,  always doing our best does not mean performing at the same level regardless of what is going on in our life at the moment.  For example, you cannot be at the same energetic level of action when your are ill verses when you are in top physical condition. 

What is imperative is doing your best in the moment, regardless of whatever circumstances the moment brings.  There is no more.  There is only the best effort in the moment for the conditions of that moment.

Don Miguel says, “You can only be you when you do your best.  When you don’t do your best you are denying yourself the right to be you.”   “If you always do your best over and over again, you will become a master of transformation.”

The Four Agreements III

The third agreement, Don’t Make Assumptions, is profoundly connected to the second.  When we make assumptions about anything or any one, at conscious and/or subconscious levels we become invested in expectations.  When our expectations are not met, we take it personally.

Don Miguel says, “We make assumptions that everyone sees life the way we do.”  This assuming is particularly evident at the beginning of a romantic relationship.  Both parties asking few questions, assuming a great deal, and over-investing in their expectations.  As the romantic phase fades, reality sets in and the parties are stunned by their failed expectations.

Asking questions and clarifying communication are the keys for avoiding the ensuing drama of making assumptions.  The majority of us are quite timid when it comes to this critical aspect of communication; afraid to make ourselves vulnerable; fearful of being judged.

In The Four Agreements Don Miguel states, “If you don’t understand something, it is better for you to ask and be clear, instead of making an assumption.  The day you stop making assumptions you will communicate cleanly and clearly, free of emotional poison.  Without making assumptions your word becomes impeccable.”

The Four Agreements II

The second agreement in the Toltec Wisdom book, The Four Agreements, is “Don’t Take Anything Personally”.

The human majority beleive that other people or situations can make us respond in certain ways.  For example, ‘My boss made me so angry.’ or ‘My friend really hurt my feelings.’  We re-act from a place of conditioning.  Anger is a choice, albeit also a conditioned response.  As Don Miguel states, the comments and behaviors of others which ‘hurt’ us, hurt us because these things touch personal wounds that we carry.

To not take things personally is very challenging work.  Yet, when we establish the habit of non-reaction to the feedback of others, both positive and negative, we find our true center, our true self-esteem.

The Four Agreements

In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz details what may appear at first to be four simple tenets for the spiritual warrior.

The first agreement is to “…Be Impeccable with Your Word.”  Words are a potent power.  Words can soothe and support or incite and ruin.  It is a great challenge to master our use of words.  Don Miguel states that…”Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.” 

When we consistently show this honor and respect for ourselves, we will treat others in kind.  This process is rooted in our thoughts.  I invite you to become an active observer and editor of your thoughts; thoughts about yourself and others.  When the emotions of fear, envy, hate, condemnation, lust, greed and gossip to name a few, dominate your thinking, it is not possible to be impeccable with your word.  

Bringing the truth and love voice of our inner editor to our thought process will reduce  our use of negative words.  The integrity and power of our word can then be honored, even among our enemies.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment, on the now.  It means bringing conscious mind, day-dreaming mind, the deeper mind…the whole self, including it’s shadow aspects,  fully into the moment.

Nothing, no thing we do is unimportant.  From the simple act of tying a shoe to the more complex actions and decisions that living demands, all are important. 

As with meditation, breathing is essential…mindful breathing.  Focus on each breath.  Bring the full attention of your whole self to the rhythm of your breathing.  You will experience distraction, and when you do, bring the fullness of your attention back the passage of your breath.  As you practice, focusing will become easier.  The mind begins to clear, anxiety eases, a sense of peace and well-being grows steadily.  You can achieve a deeper harmony with the Divine.  Life gets better regardless of what is happening around you.

Bringing mindfulness and meditation together in daily practice is free.  And the investment of time and energy will pay great dividends.

Meditation Style

Finding your ‘meditation style’ can be so challenging that many of us often end up believing that we just can’t do it; that meditation is just not our cup of tea.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2004) lists as the second definition for meditate,  “…to engage in deep mental exercise directed toward a heightened level of spiritual awareness.”

There are many approaches to and styles of meditation geared toward helping us to achieve greater spiritual awareness and connection with the Divine.  But before you choose a particular discipline, it is vital that you identify what kind of meditator you are.  Are you a passive or active meditator?  An active meditation style will find frustration and failure in passive methods, and, likewise a passive meditator in active styles.

An example of passive meditation would be sitting as still as possible  in a place of quietude and breathing into that place of oneness.  Toning, chanting and music may or may not accompany.  A good example of active meditation can be found in the walking meditations of Thich Nhat Hanh.  Breathing is essential to all meditation practices, and no less so in active meditations.

If you have a personal, spiritual goal of attaining a stronger spiritual connection and heightened level of awareness, then I wholeheartedly encourage  your exploration into discovering your meditation style.