Archive For March 29, 2016

How (and When) To Listen to Your Body!

How (and When) To Listen to Your Body!

There are times when we get a premonition or a gut feeling about a situation. Perhaps it’s a flash or an insight that shows us events to come.  Or perhaps it’s a feeling that what we’re doing leads us astray from what we truly want.

Sometimes we listen and respond to our premonitions and sometimes we don’t. What I want to explore here is why don’t we listen to ourselves? Why do we choose to tune out our feelings, intuitions and observations? And, if we made the effort to tune in, how could we listen to ourselves more effectively?

What I’ve learned through my work is that people have unique ways of processing information, though there are commonalities that run through particular personality types. I try to help people learn how to best hear, listen, and then respond to their inner-guidance.

All too often, we don’t recognize our feelings or sensations as inner-guidance. We might feel ill-at-ease or hear an inner voice express concern. Yet, somehow we fail to realize that we’re receiving crucial information from within and not simply churning thoughts or ill-founded worries.

You might ask: “once we understand this internal information as guidance why on earth would we choose to not listen to it?”

We generally disregard our inner-wisdom for several reasons. Most often our inner-guidance cuts against what we want to be true or how we want things to go. Sometimes, though, our minds are so cluttered with the details of our everyday lives that we cannot fully hear what our bodies are trying to tell us. It’s easy to lose sight of our deeper truth in the busy-ness of modern life.

To hear our inner-guidance we need to clear out our clutter. We need to clear it out from our lives, our minds, and our hearts.

Once we’ve made some space, we’re better equipped to tune into and listen to ourselves.  The truth is that the messages we receive from within are frequently direct and simple. They tell us: “Stop doing this or start doing that.” Our job is to focus and refocus on the simplicity of the guidance we’re getting and figure out how to align ourselves with that simplicity.

This skill is more of an art. Aligning and realigning with our inner-guidance takes an equal measure of finesse and surrender.

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A True Place of Peace Amongst the Chaos

A True Place of Peace Amongst the Chaos

There are events in which we lose something we never thought we’d lose: our perspective, our health, a loved one. These life-altering events can leave us reeling. In these moments it can seem that the world is an unfair place and we are at its mercy. Or perhaps we fail to judge the fairness of our situation and simply grieve that it’s happening.

In these moments we often grasp at what’s familiar. We try to negotiate a way to have and to hold what we previously held so dear. We fight, we deny, and we pretend that things have not changed. Yet, we can not un-know what we know – things are no longer the same.

These are the least peaceful times in our lives. This is when what we want to be and what is are at odds.

In his very powerful essay, David Whyte describes anger as our response to seeing something we held dear destroyed. This can be an idea, a relationship, or a state of being. Our anger states: “I have loved this and I’m not ready to let it go. I’m not ready to accept its fate. I’m not willing to accept my fate.”

When we approach the gravesite of what we once held dear, we are fraught with anguish. We want justice. We want to hold someone accountable. While others might be involved, they will never hold enough responsibility for the situation to appease our need for retribution.

We can keep fighting or we can be humbled by our humanity, by our intrinsic vulnerability.

We can find within ourselves a bravery that allows us to accept the ebb and flow of life. This kind of bravery sources its sense of peace from the practice of acceptance and not protection.

Protection is a strong and peculiar habit. We believe that we protect ourselves by cloaking our vulnerability and disappointment with anger, sadness, or avoidance. We convince ourselves that donning an outer armor is the only way that we can survive the inevitable heartache that comes with loss. But a shield expects an onslaught. Our protective gestures create the environment for a continual fight.

Conversely, acceptance is the fabric of a durable, permeable peace. It permits us to open to life, to allow for its expansion and contraction. It enfranchises us to give a rightful place to our anger and need to hold only as long as serves us. Most important, acceptance allows us to be remade again and again in the fire of what we believe we cannot bear. And this is where we find our peace.

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How To Bring Major Romance Back Into Your Relationship

How To Bring Major Romance Back Into Your Relationship

All too often, a good relationship downgrades into a ho-hum affair because we fail to keep up the spontaneity and interest that comes with a new love. Worse yet, even the most well-intentioned people get stumped at how to show they care for their loved one after the honeymoon ends.  Little acts that once felt so rich with romance –  sweet gestures like whispering “I love you,” sharing a nice dinner, or bringing home flowers – begin to lose their potency.

While these are nice gestures that signal our love for our partners, their impact wanes if they’re the only ways we show our lover how much we care for and desire them.

In a love relationship, the things that seem counter-intuitive to everyday intimacy are the very same things that fuel real romance. Desire requires distance, surprise, vulnerability, adventure, and play. Desire for your partner gets red-hot when you’re attentive to all the wonderful things that make your loved one different and unique. 

On the other hand, things like continuity and familiarity are essential to intimacy and are so important in creating a sense of safety in relationships.

So to create and sustain a great relationship – one that’s full of passionate, erotic and compassionate connection – you need to flex your creativity and make your partner someone you’re really curious about. The best part is that when you get curious about your loved one, it’ll be easy and fun to come up with creative ways to lavish them with love.

Don’t know where to start? Try these on for size!

1. Get Your Poetic Flow On

    Inspiration is within reach most of the time. So, cozy up to your inner-bard and write a poem about your partner. See if you can capture what you love about them in this expressive form.  If you brainstorm adjectives, qualities or feeling you associate with this person, you’ll quickly create phrases that inspire you and tap into the initial wonder you felt when you first fell in love with your partner. If a poem seems too high-stakes, then why not write your partner a love letter that expresses some of the things about them that you find wonderful and desirable.
    Then, take a risk! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Share your poem or letter with your paramour and notice how it makes each of you feel. The reality is that vulnerability opens the door to greater emotional intimacy.

2. Shout Out the Tiny, Beautiful Things That Make Your Partner Shine

    Okay. Really want to turn your partner on? It’s time to call attention to the million little things about your partner that no one else knows but you.  When we fall in love, we notice all these little details about the other person. We’re enamored by the way they drink their coffee or the way their hair looks first thing in the morning.
    Yet soon into a new relationship, those delicious little details become familiar and so we cease to see them as remarkable.
    The thing is that these little wonderful things about your partner did not suddenly become less wonderful – it’s that you’ve ceased to be wow’d by all the things that make your partner them! It’s so important to look at our beloved with fresh eyes and to delight in all the little idiosyncrasies that increase our feelings of love.
    Want bonus points? Lovingly share all the things about your partner that you find captivating and attractive. Let them know how he or she is truly special to you. Trust me, this will make BOTH of you feel great.

3. For One Night, Get Indulgent

    If your version of a nice time with your lover is the classic wine and dine scenario, TAKE IT UP A NOTCH!
    For one night, design a fantastic, and yes decadent experience for your love. Or, get adventurous and create a totally new experience for the two of you to share based on something your partner loves.
    For example, take a bubble bath with candlelight, wine, chocolate, the smell of jasmine and opera music. Or, walk in the woods bundled in soft fabrics and take turns telling each other about the beautiful things you see.
    The thing is that little adventures have this way of turning you on and making you feel really alive. And this, my friends, is what passion is all about.

4. Get Busy Giving

    Tap into your inspiration and find something – or make something – that will let another person know how special they are to you.
    When you think about bringing pleasure to someone else’s life, you naturally think creatively and playfully about what’s in the world and how to use it. And even better, when you give a gift your heart opens up and you feel satisfied on a deeper level.
    It’s too easy to let days slip by where we’re distracted from what matters most. So challenge yourself to spend an hour each week doing one of these activities. It won’t take long before you’ll feel more connected to your beloved and more passionate about your relationship.

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3 Ways to Make Your Day-to-Day Life Way More Harmonious

3 Ways to Make Your Day-to-Day Life Way More Harmonious

Yesterday I led a workshop for my LifeWork Community Program on the topic of Harmony.

All of my studies and all of my experiences have led me to the understanding that a harmonious life is connected the expression of one’s personal truth. Put another way, you’re in harmony when you’re in your truth.

While “harmony” is a universal idea, each person has their own truth that they live and breathe. With 7 billion people now on the planet, I often wonder how can we take 7 billion unique ways of being and get them to fit together harmoniously?

As we see everyday, our ways of being seldom synch up peacefully. We fight, we war, we oppress others based on the color of their skin, their gender, or their beliefs.

Yet, in the face of this apparent disharmony, I still believe that harmony is ultimately attainable.

What I call harmony is not as lofty as a utopian principal. It’s much more down to earth. It’s something that we can strive for each day.

I like definitions of harmony that refer to it as an agreement or congruity. I see it as an accord between two or more things.

Yet, all too often we block ourselves from perceiving harmony. We cultivate – and give into – mindsets that analyze, deny or set up false dualities.

These mindsets are so common it’s no wonder that people often cry out for peace. When we approach our lives through criticality, we analyze our moments so that we can’t see the proverbial “forest through the trees.”

All of these mindsets contain a common element of “this not that.” This means that we set up dichotomies in which we pit situations against each other. One example of this line of thinking says: if I forgive this person, then they win. Another is: if you want something to work, then you need to figure out all the ways it might not work to prevent failure.

Each of these lines of thinking generates a lack of harmony in our world.  And this is important. We’re bold to assume that the universe is or is not harmonious based on our own experience of it.

There are ways we can look at the world through a more harmonious lens. We can choose to accept people and situations with which we struggle. We can try to see and empathize with what’s happening on either side of a scenario. We can look at how things fit together rather than how they conflict.

If you want to build more harmony into your life, here are a few skills you can practice everyday.

    Acceptance: Acceptance is the opposite of denial.  Yet, it’s not as simple as adopting a belief or idea. Rather, it’s the ability to let go of the struggle, regardless of whether that struggle is rooted in reality or fantasy.
    Curiosity: If we inquire into that which we disprove or deconstruct, we can learn how it works rather than how it doesn’t work.
    Unity: If we allow many ideas to exist alongside one another rather than thinking in terms of either/or, we open to a new world of possibilities. It’s not about making all ideas line up. Rather, its about allowing them to exist in their multiplicity.

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