Posts Tagged ‘delight’

Follow the Joy

Written by Kate • June 1, 2012 •
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O Be Joyful

Image Thanks To CameliaTWU

It seems like such a simple thing to do: “Follow the Joy”. Do what you makes you feel an abundant sense of peace, joy, well-being. But what if the joy you feel is caused by something you were taught was wrong, or impractical, or just “not done”.  What if your Joy is telling you to quit your job and back pack around Europe? What if your Joy is telling you to stop staying out late and start doing yoga at dawn each day? It’s easy to think that you’re the one who is willing to follow your Joy right up until your sense of Joy tells you to do something that feels inconvenient and scary. “Quit my job? How will I live?” “Stop staying out late? What about my friends and my community? No one I know does yoga or gets up at dawn”?

The down side to not following your Joy:

  1. Less joy. By allowing your beliefs about what is right and what is “allowable”, or by worrying about what “they” might think get in your way of following your Joy, you ignore what makes you happy and you do something else instead.
  2. Lessened ability to know what brings you joy. When you start to consistent ignore your internal guidance system about what brings you joy and you instead do the acceptable and practical thing, you become less able to hear the system and it becomes harder and harder to know what it is that feeds your soul.
  3. Numbness and despair. After years of ignoring your Joy, you end up in numb and in despair. Mid life crisis, anyone? And then you have to peel back the years and the layers of practical and fear to find that small, nearly silenced voice that is your Joy.

But why not bypass the typical approach to live and avoid your mid- life crisis and years of numbness and despair. Follow your Joy, no matter how impractical it may be.

The up side to following your Joy

  1. Increased confidence to follow your Joy. The more you’re willing to risk following your joy, the more you’ll able to do to follow it. You’ll see that although it may have appeared impractical to your mind’s eye, following your Joy actually makes a lot of sense to your life. And in a virtuous cycle, it just gets better and easier.
  2. Synchronicity. More joy. More confidence. More things clicking. You will become “lucky”. Things will go your way. You’ll start getting the right resource at the right time.
  3. Rich and happy life. As you build your confidence and momentum, life get happier and your life is full of rich content that feeds your soul.

So skip the mess. Have the courage to follow your Joy now.  Show others the way.

 

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Am I Doing It Right?- How To Pray

Written by Kate • January 3, 2012 •
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Prayer Candles

Prayer Candles- Photo Thanks to Barkaw

I, like so many people in the world, am a lapsed Catholic.  I’ve tried several times to rejoin the church but it just does not work for me. But this post isn’t really about that. I don’t really have the basic foundations from organized religion for prayer. Is that good? Or bad? Who can tell! But for someone like me, a Type A Virgo, I wanted to be sure I’m doing “it” “right”.  “It” being everything and “right” meaning the proper way.  So rather than turning inward and feeling my way through it to what feels right and sacred for me, when I first decided to pray, I decided that the best way to start was to google “how to pray” so I could get information from experts on how to pray properly.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising, I couldn’t find a decent article on the web that would guide a newbie spiritual person on how to pray that wasn’t oriented to specific prayers for specific problems from a specific faith. So I had to blaze my own path of meaningful prayer. I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I am, of course, no expert nor am I presenting the following as THE WAY to pray. Instead, if you are like me and would like some guidance as you start down your path, here are some of the most noteworthy lessons I’ve learned.

Here are the top 6 lessons I learned on creating a meaningful prayer practice:

1.  You have permission. You may be the type of person for whom this point doesn’t make sense. But there are a lot of us out there who feel bad about wanting some of the things we want.  But if you can’t be honest in your own prayer practice, just between you and your God, well, then pray for honesty and courage. Give yourself permission to pray for the wishes that are in your heart. If you want world peace,  include that in your prayer. If you want $1,000,000,000, include that. The point is that you can pray for anything that’s in your heart.  Don’t be shy about whether or not it’s worthy or appropriate to pray for something. The process will work itself it out. And just because you’re afraid to own what you feeling or think doesn’t make your desire any less real. So bring it into the light. It took me a few months to really plumb the depths of my heart for some of the ideas and dreams that I had put away. I had to work at accessing some of those wishes.  It’s still a process but some of my long stifled ideas and dreams are unfolding and I bring these to my prayer session.

2. By rote or spontaneity.  I started out with a few prayers that worked for me, including St. Francis’ prayer and a loving kindness prayer that has always worked for me. I also add in some of the recurring requests I have, including the lifting of all illusion and surrendering my will, each time. I also allow for new prayers to rise and be allowed. So today  I may prayer for courage and tomorrow for more discipline. Understand that your prayer is YOUR time and there is no “wrong” way to do it.

3. Some days you feel it and some you don’t. Some days my time spent in prayer feels quite sacred, intimate, and pretty much amazing. Other days, I just barely feel it and it feels like I’m just going through the motions. I’ve learned not to judge myself or the process. It is all good.  Just keeping practicing.

4. Make it a daily habit. I have found, through trial and error, that without a daily habit of praying, meaningful prayer just doesn’t happen.  So I have created a morning routine which means waking up earlier than most people and starting each day with my spiritual practice. Now, it’s so ingrained and helpful that I actually feel out of sorts with myself if I skip it.  So try getting up 10 minutes early and adding in 5 minutes of prayer. That’s all it takes to get started.  And once you’ve gotten the habit, begin tinkering with the length of time you sit in prayer.

5.  Make it real. Akin to point #1, permission, make it real. Praying by rote, including the same prayer pattern you’ve set up on a day to day basis, is a great way to start. And as you get more accustomed to praying, you’ll noticed that spaces will open in your heart and you’ll noticed new things about yourself and what it is that you really want in the world. Don’t be afraid to honor what it is that you’re being shown and what you’re feeling.

6. Remember to be grateful. I now start each prayer session on a note of gratitude that I am there in communion with God and with any recent lessons I’ve gotten.  I speak my gratitude aloud and by being in gratitude, it moves me into a better feeling place and it is a great place to be as I begin my prayers.  Gratitude for what you’ve received is an important element in feeling better and in acknowledging that your prayers have been answered, even if they’ve not been answered in the way you had been hoping.

What has been your experience? Do have a particular way to pray this working for you?

 

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An Attitude of Gratitude- Top 4 Reasons To Practice A Habit of Gratitude

Written by Kate • December 30, 2011 •
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Image thanks to helovesusIt’s been said many different way by even more people – that developing a habit of being grateful will enrich your life and make it easier and better.  I’ve found this to be true so I wanted to create a post about gratitude and the strong place I think it should play in each of our lives and the effects I have found being grateful has on me.

Here are the top 4 reasons why you should practice a daily habit of gratitude:

1.  Being grateful is just good manners. If you believe that there is a God out there, whether you call it God, or Source, or the Universe, something larger and greater than us has created a system and environment in which we exist, giving us each life.  Amazing things happen to us every day and it is just good manners AND the right way to act to acknowledge all of this wonderfulness.  Michael Bernard Beckwith’s book, Spiritual Liberation, listed out his ideas of spiritual manners, which resonated with me. Being grateful is the right thing to do.

2. Being grateful can help you make an immediate, internal shift to a place that feels much better. If you’ve practiced gratitude in any somewhat consistent way in the past, you know that being grateful feels great. And for those who haven’t yet practiced being grateful, it actually takes a bit of work to get into the groove of it so don’t be discouraged if the first few times you don’t “feel it”. That was my experience. I was suffering a lot and although I said the words that I was grateful, I had a hard time actually feeling the truth of it.  But I kept at it and it soon enough, I could feel the warmth and good feelings that being grateful created and then permeated through my body.

Practice this first and last thing each day. Wake up to a list of 3 things you’re grateful for today and go to bed with a list of 5 things you’re grateful during the past day.  My list from this morning: 1- I’m so happy my family is here for the weekend [I’m writing this on Dec 24th]. 2- I’m so grateful for the cup of coffee waiting for me downstairs. 3- I’m so grateful for the sunrise I’m about to witness. And boom, a burst of joy coursed through my body.

Try it!

3. Being grateful for all the things that seem both good and bad in your life shows you your blind spots and where you can grow. As Martha Beck pointed out in her recent post, getting to know our own blind spots is both important and difficult.  I know this one is a toughie, at least it certainly was for me when I was living a life that felt incredibly incongruent with my values and goals.  How could I be grateful for this small life, in this crappy job, and how miserable I was feeling all the time? That was such a struggle for me for a while, to find anything to be grateful for in my life.

For me what turned it around is to have taken full responsibility for my little life with the crappy job. I had to be honest with myself. The crappy job was exactly what I had asked for- stable, with a big company [which I thought also meant stable but it wasn’t], steady paycheck, in a field I didn’t care about so I wouldn’t be caught up in the drama at work.  Bam, I got it and and darned if it wasn’t THE worse way to earn a living. Could I not have asked for all those things and for a wonderful work life balance, wonderful work environment, growth and all that? Nope, that just wasn’t where I was when I was designing my next step. So I decided to be grateful for getting the exact thing I had envisioned and asked for. It wasn’t the Universe’s fault I had asked for the wrong thing. I was able to become truly grateful that I was getting everything I asked for. And being grateful  helped me feel better and begin to ask for things from a better place.  I was then able to be more grateful and on it went, in a virtuous cycle.

There are ways you can get to being grateful about everything in your life, even at the nadirs in your life. And per Reason #2, when you’re truly grateful, you’ll experience an immediate, internal shift that will feel so much better than the misery you had just been experiencing.

4. Being grateful helps you stay present and notice what’s happening in your life. It’s funny. The act of noticing things to be grateful for helped me to start noticing more kindness, more joy, more synchronicity than I had ever experienced before. It’s like because I was waiting for the next thing to be grateful for, more wonderful things came into my life. And by being present to what’s happening now in my life, I’m less engaged in comparing myself to others, less concerned about what may happen in the future and what happened in the past.   The monkey mind seems to subside and I’m resting in the moment, which provides a wonderful, abiding peace – even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

For all of these reasons and more, I highly recommend that you create daily habit of being grateful for everything in your life.  What has been your experience?

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Why Aren’t We Kinder To Ourselves?

Written by Kate • December 20, 2011 •
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KindnessI’ve seen it in myself and in so many others, the rages, the shaming, the cutting words, the unkind way we treat ourselves after a mistake, after having done something “stupid”, after over eating/drinking/spending, after watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet, or after doing something we’ve been trying to break ourselves out of the habit of for so long.  It’s absolutely amazing how we so completely trash ourselves to ourselves in our head.

I’ve been working on catching these previously unconscious, automatic thoughts so that I can be completely aware of all the thoughts I am thinking. The unkind thinking is happening less and less but I recently caught myself being extremely unkind to myself about something, I forget what. And I marveled at how I was choosing to look at whatever I had done in such a harsh light, with no compassion or kindness for myself in that moment.  And so I thought to myself, “why aren’t we kinder to ourselves?” “why are we so dang mean to ourselves?”  And it came to me that there are four main reasons we are so unkind to ourselves:

  1. Our Egos: Our egos tell us we can’t yet accept ourselves until we’re a better person or have a better job or better relationship or more money…you get the idea. We think that we don’t deserve happiness or praise or acceptance because we’re not yet perfect or at least a lot better. But you don’t have to be perfect to happy now, as I discussed in my recent post about seeing the wonders of the world now.
  2. Living in the future or the past: If we’re not present in this moment, our egos are given free reign to start a whisper campaign against ourselves that becomes so habitual that we no longer notice how we speak to ourselves mentally. And of course comparing our actions now to a past we can see better with perfect hindsight or dream of future in which we can act perfectly is bound to lead us to conclude that we’re just screwing up by the numbers.
  3. Family and Teachers: We’ve been raised and taught by people who haven’t been kind to themselves because they aren’t very present or aware of their own ego’s internal whisper campaign. Have you noticed how people who are really judgmental and critical of other people’s actions and behaviors are often even harsher to themselves in their own heads? They are as critical of themselves as they are of others. So we learn that we’re not good enough because we’ve been taught be people who think the same things about themselves.
  4. Off the Spiritual Path:  Dropping criticism of ourselves and other and beginning to rest in compassion and forgiveness for ourselves [and others] is something that we must arrive at for ourselves. This is kind of the point of our own spiritual evolution.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can accept and be kinder to ourselves through forgiveness and compassion, no matter what. The following are some steps you can take to begin to first notice how unkind we are to ourselves and then to turn the judgement into compassion:

  1. Meditate: You probably guessed this one was coming from my previous blogs, no? Meditate so that you can begin to notice your recursive thought and how few new or unique thoughts you actually have. This will help you become aware of your thoughts as you have them so that they become less unconscious and more known to you as they fly across your mental screen. Here are some previous blogs on how to meditate.
  2. Witness: Notice how mean, unacceptable, shaming, judgement or unkind we are to and of ourselves. After first, just be happy to notice them. It’s a huge step to just see that. And please don’t judge yourself harshly for judging yourself harshly! Be a witness to your own habits and rest in the comfort of knowing that you’re on the path to mending this.
  3. How do you treated beloved friends: Recognize that this is not how you’d treat a beloved friend or family member.  Once you realize you’d never speak to someone beloved to you so harshly or unlovingly, begin to ask yourself how you can treat yourself more lovingly and with more compassion? [This is an empowering question, not a disempowering question. Empowering questions get your fabulous brain to think of new ways and breakthroughs.]
  4. Loving-Kindness: Do a loving kindness meditation and ask for compassion for yourself and others. Practicing compassion is a wonderful use of your time and will bring huge dividends to you in all aspects of your life.
  5. Focus on all that you HAVE done: Begin to notice rather all the things you accomplished each day and congratulate yourself on a great day. Take five minutes before you leave your desk or before you go to bed and write down three to five things you’ve accomplished that day.  You’ll be begin to notice that you actually have gotten a lot accomplished and that you actually do rock. Don’t worry about all that you didn’t get done. Those tasks will take care of themselves soon enough.
  6. Gratitude: Be grateful for everything in life, including “your problems”.  By being and feeling grateful, you can turn around the negative thoughts and vibrations in your head in an instant.

I’ve personally experienced great gains by doing all of this and I find myself much happier with myself.  It’s been a wonderful evolution to realize that I can just choose to be very nice to myself. And now that I’m nicer to myself, I’m also so much more compassionate to others too.

What has been your experience?  Have you been able to witness your thoughts and to change them?

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How to Add More Fun Into Your Life – In Just 4 minutes

Written by Kate • December 16, 2011 •
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Towards the end of my work out recently, a good song came on my iPhone. I was in the final few reps of the last set for the day and I was so close to being finished. But something about the song just made me dance. And it was so much fun!

So I decided to go with it and just dance to the music. After just a few seconds of giving myself over to the music, I was both feeling great and having fun. After the song was over, I quickly finished the remaining reps and was done with my work out for the day.

And then I thought, that was so fun, let’s just dance! So I found a fun song on my play list, hit play, and danced for the next four minutes. It was a blast and it really loosened me up, both physically and mentally. I flung my arms around with abandon, moved my hips in crazy ways [really loosening up my hips],  and just moved in crazy ways. I was probably the “worst” dancer but I was moving and grooving. I was fascinated by what I let myself do on the dance floor when I knew no one was looking.

I am normally more the Type A who’s got my morning routine all set: artist’s page, creative writing, work out, stretching, meditating, shower, breakfast..then the rest of my day. By adding in something different and fun but so doable, I really changed up my day. It was a wonderful variation to my day that added so much joy.

What can you do to add a little joy into your day?It really doesn’t have to be a big effort or cost you anything. Sometimes joy is just a dance or 4 minutes away.

 

 

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