Posts Tagged ‘Personal Growth’

“God Smiles When You Be You!” ~ Rick Warren

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“What Do You Have that is in your Hand?”

Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, reflects on his own crisis of purpose in the wake of his book’s wild success. He explains his belief that God’s intention is for each of us to use our talents and influence to do good.  ~ from TED.com

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Have you ever had those times when you just seem to be bombarded by the same issue over & over again? It’s the same problem, it just keeps coming at you from different angles? Such has been the case in my life recently with the whole concept of forgiveness. Despite the direction I turn, it keeps finding me in the cross-hairs pinned down by a relentless barrage of painful episodes. The faces of the messengers are different, but their message is the same … I need to “let go” of the past. Exactly what that looks like & how to do it, I don’t know but I better get it figured out.

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“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

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*Originally posted March 3, 2010

Heart of the Matter

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
You know it doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

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Most of us would agree that language is powerful and particularly its impact on our own ability to clearly see our own circumstances.  “Be careful what you say” is advice worth heeding, yet when we are in overwhelm, we typically describe the situation with the use of extreme words like always, never, and totally. This has a dramatic impact, and one that keeps us from clearly seeing the truth before us.

The following is an excerpt from Debbie Ford’s book Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life. Though her book was written to help people heal from divorce, her insight on getting stuck in the drama of your life is relevant to any overwhelming situation.

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Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Divine guidance lays the foundation that gives us the support and understanding we need to begin practicing the Law of Acceptance. Acceptance is the essential ingredient that enables us to begin the healing process. We cannot accept a situation until we’re ready to look fearlessly at the facts of our circumstances. We can’t heal what we cannot see, and we can’t heal what we cannot feel. Yet too often the pain from our past and our fears of the future keep us stuck and unable to see our lives as a whole. Our blurred vision prohibits us from being in the present and opening up to higher levels of awareness. “It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion,” the I Ching states, “that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.”

Acceptance comes when we step out of denial and judgment and are willing to see the present exactly as it exists in this moment, without any drama or story line. Drama keeps us stuck in an endless spiral of excuses that prevent us from being able to distinguish between fact and fantasy. Our drama serves as a defense mechanism designed to protect us from the pain of our past. When we’re caught up in our drama, we are no longer living in the present moment. Instead, we get hooked into every similar experience from our past that was left unhealed. We think we are responding to the challenges of our lives when in fact we are reacting to all of our unresolved pain.

We must realize that what is happening in this moment is calling us to heal what happened to us in the past. To break free from the confines of our story we must distinguish what is real from what is unreal. What is from the past and what is happening now? What is our present day pain and what is the unresolved pain of our past? (more…)

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I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden.
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment.
I am at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over to me,
For I can do them quickly, correctly, and profitably.
I am easily managed, just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a
machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then…do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.

Author Unknown

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When I signed up for Cyndi Lee’s session on Cultivating Lovingkindness, I figured that I was in for a nice little inspirational pep talk on being more loving and kind, and perhaps some tips on dealing with those people who get on my nerves which ~ let’s face it, I certainly could use. If all went well, maybe she’d throw in a good Dalai Lama quote for some blog material.

We started off with asana practice, a nice sequence to wind down after a full week. Then, she sprung it on us. We were gonna meditate.

Now, I have a confession to make; I am a closet non-meditater. I consider myself a serious yoga student and I’ve gone through a 200-hour Teacher Training program, so I KNOW it’s something I’m suppose to do. But I don’t, and this is somewhat of a shameful secret of mine. Trust me, it’s not from lack of supplies, that’s for sure. I’ve bought several books on “How to Start Meditating.” I have a cushion. I certainly have plenty of candles if I need a flame to stare at, and I even have a meditation shawl for those, oh, so chilly mornings in Austin, Texas.

Still, it’s not something I do. I’m not good at sitting still … ask my hairdresser. If I’m not ancy, I’m falling asleep. Prior meditation attempts have resulted in some pretty good head-nodding whiplash, not to mention that one embarrassing public snoring incident. So when she said we were going to meditate, let’s just say, I was not feeling the “loving-kindness.” But I was willing to give it go.

Cyndi offered up two meditation techniques. The first one was Mindfulness Meditation which she called Shamata Meditation. We focused on the breath, and she encouraged us to keep our eyes open in soft focus. (This is supposed to make it harder to sleep, I’m guessing.) Cyndi called this particular technique the “Tadasana of Meditation.” We practiced it for a short period, and I found it hard.

Then she introduced the group to Metta Meditation. In this practice, you begin by calling to mind someone you love unconditionally. With that person as your focal point, you recite these four lines (silently or aloud):

~ May you be safe.
~ May you be healthy.
~ May you be happy.
~ May you live with ease.

You repeat the process with yourself as the focal point, then someone who irritates you as the focal point, next someone who is simply a neutral person in your life, and lastly for all beings. As we moved through this practice, I found myself more sharply focused, more able to stay in the game. Now THIS is something I can do. Interestingly, as I googled “metta meditation,” I came across this reference: “METTA is the word in the Pali Language that means Loving-Kindness” (Is that a collective “duh” that I hear?!)

One final point: Cyndi emphasized that to cultivate loving-kindness we must first start with ourselves. We limit our capacity to love others when we do not love ourselves fully. Perhaps it’s time for me to go of my meditation shame and cultivate some real lovingkindness.

May you ALL live with ease!

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By going over your day in imagination before you begin it, you can begin acting successfully at any moment.”

~ Dorthea Brande

Dorothea Brande was a well-known writer and editor in New York in the mid 1930’s.  Her book, BECOMING A WRITER (published 1934) is a staple on the bookshelves of creative writers throughout world. Her second book, Wake Up and Live (1936) sold over 2 million copies, published in 11 languages, and was even turned into a musical the following year. A recent post by Gretchen Rubin on my favorite blog, The Happiness Project, shared one of the teachings from Brande’s book: 12 Mental Exercises to Make Your Mind Keener & More Flexible. Rubin writes, “These exercises are meant to pull you out of your usual habits and to put you in situations that will demand resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. Brande argues that only by testing and stretching yourself can you develop mental strength.”

As I read through the exercises, I found myself thinking of them as a kind of yoga for the mind, mental asana of sorts. (In Becoming a Writer, Brande actually does advise practicing a meditation before a writing session.) I find these intriguing. I’ve acted on #1 from time to time, but usually with passive-aggressive motivations so I guess I need to revisit THAT one!

Summary of Dorothea Brande’s Twelve Mental Exercises

  1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions, in the midst of the usual group, without creating the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer remarks or try to draw out information.
  2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.
  3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.
  4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.
  5. Write a letter in a “successful” or placid tone. No misstatements, no lying. Look for aspects or activities that can be honestly reported that way.
  6. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and size it up.
  7. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.
  8. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions.
  9. Cut “I mean” or “As a matter of fact” or any other verbal mannerism out of your conversation.
  10. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.
  11. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go twenty miles from home using ordinary conveyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a meal in the unlikelist place you can find; say nothing all day except in answer to questions; stay up all night and work.
  12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.

Interesting Question: Of these twelve exercises, which ones would be the most challenging for you to undertake? Why?

More Insight: Read Gretchen Rubin’s post on The Happiness Project: “Creativity: 12 Mental Exercises, Zany but Productive”

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What is The Happiness Project?

“I’m working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT — a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will hit the shelves in late 2009 (HarperCollins).” ~ by Gretchen Rubin

You can find a direct link to The Happiness Project, along with the daily feed, on my sidebar.

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So this week marked the end of my third month ~ 90+ days of practice. My six word memoir project has taken on a life of its own. I created a separate blog to chronicle just that exercise WHICH also includes an occasional picture. (Check out my proverbial “microblog” HERE!) I have enjoyed the momentum the project has gained, both for me personally and with other people. I have heard from several folks who have been inspired to use this exercise in their own lives ~ a couple of friends, as well as a English teacher who is using it as a writing assignment for her class. I think that’s pretty cool.

It’s becoming easier to write these snip-its, and I actually look forward to seeing “what I’m going to say,” 😀 ~ oh, so clever girl that I am! In addition to the daily exercise, at the end of each month I take a look back at see what trends and insights might be revealed. It’s almost as much fun as writing them, and today’s the day!

This Month’s Lessons

One of the things that I’ve become aware of is how “rules” can hold me up. I worry about such things as proper punctuation and word counts. (For instance, should phrases like “Farrah-Do’s” or “San Francisco” count as one word or two?) Wanting to do things “right” often keeps me from acting at all. This is true not only in a writing exercise, but in other areas of my life as well. Interestingly, this is even reflected in one of my entries: “Failure to act makes a decision.”

There were a couple of days in November that I added addendum, a second helping of 6 words for the day. I kind of see that as cheating, but have done it anyway, albeit with guilt. (Side note: Guilt is a chronic condition for me. It is funny how a small six word practice can reveal so much about your personality.)

The most important lesson this month? Just Do It! It doesn’t have to be perfect or grand, just consistent. And THAT can make all the difference. Recently, I read something about integrating a practice or habit into your life which said it’s more important to do something small regularly than to make a big effort sporadically. Certainly everyone will agree, but many (and especially those of us with “all or nothing” personalities) still fail to act. Some examples:

  • After not running for months, I start back with a 5 mile outing, and end up so sore that I don’t go out again.
  • A friend has a baby and I want to take food over, but instead of just taking something, I want to plan a big meal and end up doing nothing.
  • My disorganized office is so overwhelming that when new things come in, I don’t even try to put them away. I just add them to the piles contributing more to the chaos.

Ironically, I was thinking about yoga when I wrote: “Key to Sanity: Regular, Consistent Practice,” but REALLY it’s true for just about everything. This simple writing exercise has taught me that if you just do SOMETHING with regularity, it will start to take hold and make a difference. (It CAN keep you sane.) Whether it’s with writing, exercising, nurturing friendships, or cleaning house, just do it. In the words of Issac Newton, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Or something like that.

Today it’s writing 6 words … Tomorrow THE OFFICE!

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November 2008

Overview: Gratitude for Family, Thanksgiving Celebration, Frustration with Disorganization

  • SportsCenter more fun when we win. (11/1/08)
  • Self-discipline is really self-love. (11/2/08)
  • I married better than my husband. (11/3/08)
  • “Yes we can!” Hope he’s right. (11/4/08) (more…)

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