Have you ever being driving down the road, and automatically got off at the wrong exit because you have used that exit many times before? Unconsciously, your body made the same decision and took you on the path you have gone before so many times. This happens to me we I get on a local freeway, but from a different location. I have the GPS set for my desired destination, but I take that familiar exit which I had no intention of taking. ARGH! I, then, maneuver myself back on the freeway and continue my way as the GPS is doing course corrections.
Recently, it happened again and I observed how this can be equated to how I, and maybe some of you, find ourselves thinking thoughts we no longer want to have or saying words we no longer want in our vocabulary. Words and thoughts have created patterns in our consciousness for so long that we are unaware we are using them until we are 5 minutes into a conversation in our minds or with someone else. Words and thoughts are so powerful. They evoke emotions and perpetuate the same actions and reactions for which we are trying to free ourselves. I know that I have conversations in my mind… conversations that have never happened in real life. But, inside my mind, my thoughts and words are churning me into a fit of undesired emotions which cause physical reactions in my body. Why do we do this? PATTERNS! Patterns are very comforting even if they are unhealthy. They are known, reliable, and familiar. It is easier to stay in a pattern that is unhealthy than create a new path for the mind to learn and thus, create change.
When I get on the local freeway from a different location, I have to consciously remind myself where I am and where I am going. If I start talking or listen to some music, the familiarity of the exit that I am not supposed to take is very powerful. So are the thoughts and words I wish to no longer practice in my life. I need to stay mindful about what I want in my life so that I have mastery over my thoughts, words and actions. This is also a time where I can look at how I think about different topics and why I believe the way I do. Is it a habit? Do I truly believe what I think? Do I enjoy the outcome of my thoughts, i.e., do they make me feel better or contribute goodness and peace? Taking the wrong exit off the freeway doesn’t make me feel good. I lose time and it shows me that I was not being mindful. The same is true when I speak or think in old familiar ways. It doesn’t make me feel good, it wastes time, and it can cause needless pain to myself or someone I care about.
What are your observations? Are you on automatic, going down the same old path of thoughts and words that steal your energy and time? Taking a new path requires more than just telling our GPS where we want to go, it takes consistent mindful awareness as we navigate to our new destination.
A new season of the year has begun. Did you notice? We took time last night to be outside and feel the excitement of the shift. We saw the last light of Spring and welcomed the first light of Summer as the western sky was still illumined by the sun that sat less than an hour before. We were silly. We took selfies. We opened our hearts to what is yet to come even though it is the unknown, but our intention was that we were welcoming more Good, more Joy, more Life and more Love.
The ritual of recognizing or honoring the incoming new season gives us a marker… a line in the sand as to an awakening of shift. It is also an allowing of change while being present in the now. And, by making it a point to become conscious of presence and of our intention, it becomes a wand of sorts. Our thoughts, intentions, and beliefs go out like seeds… and that we can control. We assert or declare, like the wave of a wand, that which we what to come into our lives. And, instead of resisting what we don’t want, which has its own metaphysical responses, we release what no longer works for us, what no longer brings joy, or what no longer nourishes us to become a greater version of our self.
Intending something is to be coupled with action. In practicing purposeful intention setting, we also learn what is ours to do and what is ours to allow the Universe to do. Each day we can ask what is something we can do to take a another step into our desires, into our Good. The End result or the HOW is left to Source to manage. In taking steps that nourish us each day, we allow Source to show us the next step and guide us in ways we could not think of if we are trying to micromanage the “hows” and “whens.”
Even though last night was Summer Solstice, it spills into today and tomorrow as we will also have the same number of minutes of light. In this, the earth has not yet begun its return tilt towards the next season. Take time to notice. Sit in the stillness for a bit today and tomorrow and ask yourself, “what it is that I desire to lean into?” Where would I like to shift and welcome into my next expression of my perfect Self? Plant that seed and in that, it will be as if you are waving your wand… casting your word out into that which is greater than you to act upon as you do what is yours to do in the present moment.
In July of this year I switched from drinking vasts amounts of coffee to sipping on various types of teas. It was a cold turkey decision based on wanting to clean up my diet for health reasons. For a week after the switch, I found myself sleeping a lot. I was no longer jacked up with my normal amount of caffeine. I chose to drink organic green tea in the morning and organic herb tea in the evening. I really found comfort in holding a warm cup of tea while sitting in bed. It has a soothing effect to my body and mind and the ritual allows my thoughts to slow down to enjoy the sip.
Any type of change I make in my life allows me, if I am willing, to observe myself in a fresh way. I become aware of my surroundings again; the things I had become blind to around the home. It is amazing what I had allowed myself to get used to when life gets a bit too busy. The little messes and piles of things become background noise and after a while, I wonder why I am not comfortable in my living space.
As I stopped drinking coffee I became aware of the effects it had on my body. So, too, as I unplug from a hurried life, I can see the piles of clutter which once cleared brings fresh life and energy back into my dwelling place and I feel lighter.
During the holidays we can find ourselves speeding up instead of slowing down. But, I do hope for anyone reading my blog, that you take time to observe your immediate habits and surroundings and recognize something that needs to change; some background noise you have been ignoring, or putting up with, that has been weighing on your heart. Make a little change there and see how a small shift can make a big difference.
Observing small steps,
I read an email from Mike Dooley a few days ago. He said, “Instead of saying I am Happy or I am Sad or I am Hurt or I am Angry, pause and then say… “I choose to be Happy, Hurt, Sad, Angry, etc.” It woke me up to owning where I was going. Also, it showed me where I place blame. No blame is needed… I am acknowledging my choices. I was driving my car home after work this past week and I was tired after a full day of work and all that it entails. But I caught myself and said out loud “I choose to be tired.” Hmmm? What that gave me was the time to pause and think about if I am really tired or am I just saying this for another reason or out of habit? It also allowed me to ask this question: “do I really want to be tired?” So I said to myself out loud, “I choose to be happy. I have had a full day and I am hungry and will eat as soon as I get home.” Just adding “I choose” in front of whatever statement I was about to say evoked the question “do I really want that?” It shows me the power I have to choose. If you are like me, we grew up learning to blame and not taking responsibility for our feelings. We may have heard things like, “you make me so mad” or “see what you made me do” or “don’t make me think like that.” Wow! How we gave our power and happiness away to other people!
I think that when I say or think things unconsciously out of habit, they perpetuate feelings and outcomes for which I am just used to experiencing. It is like if we always say “Mondays Suck” then that brings with it the expectation and hence, the creation or experience of a sucky Monday. The power of our word and thought is huge and this exercise to say “I choose” in front of what we are feeling brings awareness and mindfulness.
This doesn’t mean that when I am truly hurt, angry or sad I blame myself for a less than a wonderful experience. No! But, if I am aware that I am ultimately in charge of my life and what I believe, then when I am irritated and hurt I can navigate through it better. What I choose to think and believe next will either take me through and out of the experience stronger or it will spin me downward to be consumed by it. Every thought is a choice and it is a practice to corral them to where I want them to take me; how I want to feel and be in the situation.
I believe that how I feel is directly related to what I am thinking and those things that I am telling myself. Yes, at the end of the day I need to have sufficient sleep and if I am feeling ill, I may need to make an appointment with a doctor. There are actions that I am to take to care for myself AND… those actions include becoming aware of what I am telling myself repeatedly or what am I saying about a situation that rises before me and how I react to it. Those spontaneous reactions are also very informative to my beliefs as they are not guarded and hidden but very much tell tale of what is in my heart and mind when something from left field enters my day or moment.
It takes consciousness to be happy. It is an inward thing. And it takes consciousness to be aware of the stories that you nor I want to play out in our lives anymore. Consciousness is cause and thus I am in training to bring about what I desire by exercising my power of choice.
Choosing to Observe,
I have this yearning desire to be at and walk about the Golden Gate National Park and all its various sites of interest. Lands’ End with the Sutro Bath ruins, Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, and Sutro Heights. Marin Headlands with Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais, and all the hiking and breath taking views and their oneness with land and sea. The Olema Valley and its farms and rolling hills that gives way to horseback riding. The Tennessee Valley in Marin with its wildlife that longs to stay untouched by development. Point Bonita Lighthouse that shines her light for ships to sail safely through the Golden Gate. Fort Baker and Fort Point with its history of protecting the entrance into San Francisco and its Lighthouse. Stinson Beach that hosts many memories of playing with my dog and the gathering of friends. Crissy Field and its aviation history along with the Presidio and Alcatraz, too. I want to walk and play and to be a part of it all. I want to write about it, learn about it, and imagine the people of “then” that made my “now” what it is.
I was looking at the printed posters, by the artist Michael Schwab, for each of these places and I imagined a room with them hanging on the walls along with photos that I have taken. I love my pictures and I love expressing through the eye of the camera; to capture the essence of the moment. There are times, though, that my camera cannot replace the act of just standing in the presence of the aweness of a location or event. To even try and take a picture is to miss the moment. I must be fully present with what is before me. My memory will prove to be a better memento that comes with feelings and sensations than a photo which cannot capture the grandness, the full experience, of what is before me. Yes, there are times for pictures and it is when it can capture the essence of the moment and the feelings. And when the light and balance within the frame harmoniously plays with each other… it is magical art and it is the embodiment of the soul being displayed as art. I can stare at it and gain more awareness of not just what I am looking at, but an inner awareness of myself… the Self that is stirred by looking through the thin area of the veil and seeing beyond what is physically there. It is then I just observe and do nothing more than be in the presence of what is before me and notice how much I am a part of it.
What are you observing?
It is the day before my birthday and I am home. The morning air was brisk as I went outside to change out the corn cobs for the squirrels and add seed to the bird feeder. Evidence of their presence gave me heed to assure their pleasure continued. The sun is bright this morning and there is a magical feeling I get when I stand in chilly air along with the sun’s warmth. It is like sweet and salty, laughter and tears, living in the now and yet grateful for all that has come before this moment. Truly, it is a blissful thing to live in gratitude. It opens the heart to the flow… to the Universal desire to express Joy and Happiness. I did not come to this planet to live in dread nor in lack. I came to thrive and express. I came to share my gifts and to breathe in all that Life has for me. I am co-creating my life, and the experiences in it, by how I live and how I open my heart, mind and body to what is available. In doing that it all becomes one fluid expression.
In the mornings I set my intention on that which I am to be. I set my thoughts towards happiness, joy, love, beauty, abundance, health, influential vitality and wealth. I give thanks that it comes to me in all forms and avenues. I don’t worry about the “how,” yet I just open myself to the next perfect step and walk in the direction of my goals. In doing that, I allow the Universe to do Its work. I see myself as Its open channel, expressing through me perfectly and it does. I rest not my thoughts on the negative but I open my eyes to the Good that is around me and I think thoughts of love and wholeness to those people who cross my path even if we are standing in line together at the grocery store or at an event. I make conscious choices to bless and not curse. I see the Good and by doing this, more comes into view. It has to. Anything we set our mind to and focus upon creates more of those experiences. If we focus on the appearances of lack and harshness and loss and unfairness, it seems that it creates more of that in our experiences… as if that is the reality we conjure.
Some will disagree with me. Some will even argue that “this is the way life is.” And I will say yes to them. Yes… this is the way it is for you and I am sorry you are experiencing hard times. I know I have had my share and I have been very grateful for my friends who came near to comfort me in times of challenge, of loss and of confusion. I have felt lost and wonder and question current and past events. And then I breathe and my breath makes space around me as it is a symbol of my willingness to open my heart and mind to something more; to experience something grander than what I have experienced up until now. I am bigger than I have believed and Life is more than what I have seen and there is a magic in pausing and questioning this expanse. It truly is a playground filled with illusions and we get to choose what illusions to play.
So, on this day after Thanksgiving and the day before my birthday, I honor this Life I am living by choosing Joy and Happiness, expressions of Love and Beauty, Health, Fitness and Wealth, and Influential Abundance playing out in all I desire to do. I walk in the direction of my dreams and practice kindness and gratitude. Life is so worth living and I am here to live it.
Open at the Top,
Late Autumn and Winter in the Northern Hemisphere brings with it the illusion that the days are shorter and the belief that there is not enough time to do all we want to accomplish. When I get home after the end of my work day, the darkness drives me inside where the house is warm and the lights are ambient. It triggers the sensation that the whole day is over and that it is time to wind down and tuck myself in for the evening. I observe my resistance. I notice that this time of year changes the amount of activity in my life. Yes, there are still errands to run, the job, the chores about the home, etc. But I feel that the creative, break-me-out-of-my-routine activities become less. That inner-bear wants to scurry home to hibernate as this cycle of the season gets underway with the titling of our planet that shortens our exposure to the light of the sun.
As an observer of life, I do see that there are natural cycles that flow from one into another as the seasons go from spring to summer and from autumn to winter. The plants do not resist. They drop their leaves willingly and their growth slows down. The squirrels in my back yard also change their habits. They gather nuts and seeds from the trees that line the creek beyond my fence and their playful presence diminishes for a few months. The neighborhood is also quiet as the after dinner walks and curbside basketball games have been replaced by indoor activities. We take shelter.
It is true that, with the nature of seasons, winter tends to bring a time of reflection and slowing down; an ending of sorts so as to prepare us for the new beginnings that come with the arrival of spring. It is a time of nurturing and review. Inner work tends to take place, if we permit it, as well as the process of closure that comes at the end of a year.
Yet, there is still something inside of me that earns for the feeling of longer days. Time has not changed. There are still the same number of hours and I long to be active and not succumb to the slowing down of things. It is true that we as humans have our own cycles and that we ebb and flow as we traverse changes in our lives. But I am not desirous of conforming to the sheltering effect that winter brings. My life desires expression. My body desires activity. I earn for connection that is beyond cyber chats and video links. My urge to touch life as it is happening is alive and pressing! Therefore, I look to this new day and position myself to do something that brings forth greater expression, expansion, and vibrancy to my mind, body, and my relationship to all that surrounds me. And… I will also stay open to what winter may bring for she is knocking on my door. I choose to open my heart to her, to observe what it is I need to know, where I need to release resistance, and how I can become present in the midst of this change in seasons.
Observing what is,