Tag Archives: Ego

5 Ways to Relax When the Temporary Guest Stays for Months Rather Than Days

relaxingguiltBy Ken Myers 

Sometimes it’s nice to have guest over and spend a few days with you, especially if you haven’t seen them in years. What if your home became the only one they had? What if your temporary guest begins to take up roots in your home making the situation semi-permanent? It can quickly wear on your nerves. In the event of family members, you don’t want to throw them out on the street because you love them. So, how do you keep relaxed in your own home when you feel claustrophobic?

 
1. You Time – One of the most important things you need to consider is finding time for yourself. This is true even if you don’t have guests and merely have a large family. There needs to be something that you can do or somewhere you can go that is only for you alone. It’s not being selfish, but it can do wonders to keep your mindset clear of the debris caused from over stressing about a full house. It’s important to have time for yourself regardless of what it is. Even if you can get away for a couple hours every week and hit the golf course by yourself, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

2. Setting Boundaries – No one likes their personal bubble being invaded. However, not everyone will tell the invading party that they are doing so. As time progresses, this buildup of stress can release itself explosively causing more drama in your life. Set ground rules and boundaries for your guest. If they know how far they can go, then they will be less likely to compromise your personal space.

3. Immerse Yourself – For many people, finding solace in the online world of gaming can help keep their sanity. Others can find this same solace immersing themselves within an enjoyable hobby. If it can take your mind off of current events, it can do great things for your perspective. The more attention the activity can draw, the better off you’ll be. Some people will find extremely difficult tasks that require a great deal of concentration in order to remove themselves from the trappings of the home.

4. A Second Job – If you dread going home, you might as well make the best of the situation. Getting a second job can give you an activity that separates you from that which is driving you crazy. This job doesn’t have to be anything too grueling since you are simply using it to keep yourself occupied. Not only will it give you more time away from the home, but it could provide a few extra dollars for yourself as well.

5. Volunteer Work – If you don’t want to find a second job, there are many organizations that can use volunteers. Eat up your time by helping others. You may find that you enjoy volunteering and it could turn into a habit for you. It gets you out of the house while providing help to those who are in need.

Having a house guest for longer than you anticipated can become quite stressful on yourself. Without a way to relax or vent this frustration, you could cause a great deal of problems mentally and physically to yourself. Find ways that can divert your attention and save yourself from unwanted levels of stress.

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Ken Myers is an expert advisor on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com. 

Congress is Acting Like Toddlers At Daycare

Washington DC Presidential InaugurationWashington lawmakers have been acting like little kids at daycare, wanting to play with the same action figure. They each grab a side and pull and pull. First, they are stuck in a stalemate – nothing happens other than both sides get angrier and more committed to having their way. So they get nastier. Then one side pulls harder and the legs or the head come off – the toy is destroyed. Now, neither side wins. When each tried to get their own way, more was damaged in the process. Congress is acting like toddlers at a daycare.

In a battle of egos instead of a commitment to results, we regress to childish behaviors. We become the center of our world and stake our claim – we refuse to relate, share or yield. I understand why 2, 3 or 4 year olds may have this response, what I don’t understand is why our elected public officials (committed to service) act like this. If we are so proud of our form of government and insist that other countries adopt it, what lesson does this behavior show them? If we are that committed to living our values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how does this response support this? The world sees us as acting like toddlers and justifying our childish behavior. Great lesson.

If we are truly committed to the same purpose – developing a country that lives its clearly stated core ideals – we are already all on the same side. We quickly unify when others threaten from the outside – we find our commonality and we unite. But when a challenge happens from within, we fall apart. We break into factions forgetting the value of every citizen. We see only our view. We want our way. We forget we are part of something larger. We forget that the goal of our society as created by our founding fathers is for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of its citizens. Jacob Needleman shares in book, The American Soul – Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, that the pursuit of happiness isn’t about the right to accumulate things, but rather for society to ensure the right of each of its citizens to be able to self-discover and live their intrinsic or God-given greatness – the ability to self-realize.

Religion, philosophy and science rarely agree. They do, however, agree in one specific area – that we are each created to be different, unique, amazing and great. Seeing each of us as great, valuable and important must be a critical understanding and belief of all public servants – to empower them to commit to the importance of the work of government to support a society that enables their people to be free to be all that they can be and one where everyone matters.

When we focus on our egos instead of on results, we inhibit our process of helping all of our citizens realize their greatness. We now think some are more great than others – more okay or more right than others. We create sides and insist on winners and losers. But in the analogy of the toy that gets destroyed by the fighting toddlers, we all lose when we can’t do something as fundamental as keep our government open to provide the services and functions it is responsible to do. The fact that either side could accept allowing it to shut down to get their way is akin to one of the toddlers destroying the toy just so the other toddler won’t be able to play with it – or anyone else for that matter. Congress – a day in daycare.

When we remove the ego – in life as well as in government – we allow for a focus on greatness – the greater purpose, good and view. We realize that to be a successful country, we have to work things out. We realize that collaboration and a commitment to a common purpose allows us to find solutions that evade those with an ego-driven mindset or agenda. By seeing each American as valuable, important and great, we can reframe our differences and focus on solutions that are not like Washington DC’s roads – gridlocked. In gridlock, nobody wins. No one gets their way. Nothing gets done. Instead, find the core commonality and build from there.

We own this mess because we voted these babies into office. With the vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for a short time, we have been given another opportunity to show that when confronted with challenges, we don’t have to go to our Fox News and MSNBC corners and call each other names. Instead, we could look at the reason why we are here – to help everyone be all that they can be. That is what the pursuit of happiness really means – it is a call to step into our greatness. And our government has a hand in helping create a society that allows this to happen.

I can think of a perfect “time out” for this Congress – a permanent “time out” – a new Congress – one more committed to solutions, results and collaboration than egos, privilege and personal agendas.

Science reveals we are not all great at everything. That being said, we should therefore be more aware of electing to public office those whose natural abilities include negotiation, collaboration, empathy and innovation. Elect people whose passion is true service. Don’t let money elect, let ideas elect. Don’t let power elect, let solutions and effort elect.

Congress, grow up. Learn to share and you’ll still have a toy. Don’t learn to share and not only will you damage the toy, but you won’t be allowed back into daycare. The owners of the daycare have had enough of this behavior.

***

Jay Forte, a former financial executive, is now a business and motivational speaker, certified life and CEO coach, author, and nationally ranked Thought Leader. As President and Founder of TGZ Group, he and his team provide customized talent-based tools that power extraordinary living and exceptional organizational results.

 He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World. He created the workplace Fire Up! Coaching model and the life Greatness Coaching model which he uses with national and international clients.

 An avid writer, gardener and chef, he lives in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Relationships

originalAre you depleted, irritable or overwhelmed? It may be time to reset your boundaries.

Setting healthy boundaries is the foundation for having positive, fulfilling and uplifting relationships.

Many years ago, I “broke-up” with my best friend. I was devastated, sad and depressed. Like any other gut-wrenching heartbreak – it took me months to garner the courage to break up and years to finally surrender and let go. She was a dynamic, charismatic, gorgeous, charming artist. We fell in love at first sight. Best friends. Soul sisters.

But…she was a flake. A huge flake. Inevitably, our dates were cancelled with lame excuses. I put up with this because she was such a delight. First, I felt slighted, then irritable, then downright angry. Finally, it just wasn’t ok anymore.

I needed new boundaries. I communicated my needs, but she simply wasn’t capable of following through on our commitments. I had to break up. Maybe, (hopefully) we’ll reconnect someday…but I needed to grow strong, respect my needs and find friends who could consistently show up.

HEALTHY EGO = HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

Establishing and gracefully maintaining healthy boundaries is a direct result of having a “healthy ego” – nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This is a function of the 3rd Chakra (Manipura) – the core or “power center” of the body-mind. The 3rd Chakra governs our sense of Self. When we have a strong sense of Self, we feel positive, empowered and confident and naturally create boundaries that honor our needs as well as the needs of others.

Healthy boundaries are permeable, yet firm.

When we have low self esteem (deficient 3rd Chakra), we tend to seek love and validation from others. We may overextend ourselves or allow someone to take advantage of us. If you consistently feel depleted, irritable or inundated – it may be an indication that it’s time to deepen and structure your boundaries more solidly.

An excessive 3rd Chakra (defended and “trying to prove something”) results in rigid boundaries and aggressively forcing, manipulating or pushing our agenda on someone else. These are defense tactics of a “High Ego”.

Seek middle ground.

One of my favorite definitions of intimacy in a relationship is from Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy.

An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way.

3 TIPS TO SET CLEAR  BOUNDARIES THAT EMPOWER YOU + THE OTHER PERSON

1. HOW ARE YOU GIVING TOO MUCH? ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

Are you abandoning your truth?

At work:

In a relationship: 

  • Are you allowing someone to treat you in a way that is disrespectful?
  • Are they not honoring your needs, even though your needs are valid?

To begin setting boundaries, you first need to communicate in a healthy, positive way. Avoid the shame – blame game. Get clear and grounded in what you want and need. Consider writing out exactly what you want in bullet points.

Approach the conversation from your most empowered space. Do a quick meditation before you approach the other person. Sit quietly. Get centered with a few deep breaths. Feel the energy rising up and down your spine. Call in your Highest Good and the Highest Good or Spirit of the other person. Visualize the conversation going smoothly and peacefully. Pray for clear communication, understanding and that both of your deepest Truths be served. Ask Spirit to speak through you.

Then, approach the other person confidently and humbly. Ask specifically for what you need. Expect that your needs are going to be met and that the other person will hear and honor you.

Finally, ask them what they need. How can you show up with more integrity, generosity and thoughtfulness? Think WIN–WIN.

2. DO CORE WORK (aka Mirror Work)

A good way to build your inner strength is through mirror work. Sit in front of a mirror, preferably first thing in the morning when you’re at  your most human and humble. Look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself:

  • I love you.
  • I want you. 
  • You are special to me. 
  • You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
  • I am here for you.

These are what we call the “Good Parent Messages”, which build self love from the inside out. We begin to mother or father ourselves and become the “inner parent” who provides love, support, understanding and resilience from inside. When you feel the source of love inside, you naturally stand up for yourself in the outer world, just as a parent would advocate for their child.

3. FRIEND  + FAMILY BREAK-UPS

Sometimes we have to shift relationships because someone is not changing and we need to create safety for ourselves.  See the first paragraph above. This is especially true if you are dealing with a narcissist or an addict. If you ask repeatedly for what you need and do everything in your power to uphold your boundaries with little response – you may need to eliminate or minimize contact with someone.

Ask for help, get support, find a friend or mentor you can confide in or reach out for professional help if you need it. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for creating empowered relationships that enhance your life – in work, romance, family and friends. As soon as you strengthen your core, you will attract those people into your life who want to joyfully meet your needs.

What relationship is the most challenging for you to hold your boundaries? Leave a comment and share how you uphold your boundaries.

7 Tools to Resolve Any and Every Conflict That Arises

Cat VS. DogMany of us dread conflict. We wish we could just get along.

Life, however, has other ideas for us. Everyone is here to be there true selves, have their own opinions, likes, dislikes etc. How boring things would be if we all agreed on everything all the time. Where would our creativity be needed?

The exciting thing about conflict is that it forces us to expand into a greater creative expression of ourselves. Every time I have found the courage to call someone to task and have a discussion about our conflicting opinions, good things have happened. It doesn’t mean I always get my way, but I do put myself in a position to express my opinion, speak my truth, and listen to their side. Then I have a CHOICE: find an agreement, or walk away from the relationship/situation. And, importantly, I feel good about myself, that I have made every effort to find a resolution.

If we don’t speak up, we are sitting on an energy of resentment, fear, or frustration which can lead, later on, to unconscious expressions of that same energy which will probably not have good outcomes. Conflict is not inevitable. Conflicts are created by people and people can choose to end them. This cannot happen if the parties are set on victory instead of compromise or while they prioritize self-centered interest over the highest good of everyone concerned.

When the willingness to be available for discussion exists, there is no conflict that cannot be resolved.

If conflict is rooted in an ‘us’ and ‘them’, or ‘me’ and ‘you’, approach, then peace-building is precisely the opposite. We have to get past the adversarial mind-set and involve everyone concerned in addressing the common challenges, listening to other points of view, and seeing where we can meet, with an emphasis on what we DO agree on, and not on what we don’t agree on. When the focus is on what we all want, and not on what we don’t want, there is a higher possibility of success.

Our personal histories are all, in one way or another, shaped by the legacies of conflict. But as profound and deep-rooted as our differences may be, it is in our power to redefine those legacies, and, in so doing, redefine ourselves. Wherever we live in the world, we must recognize that ‘peace’ is not something you can win; it is something that has to be built and shared.

Here are 7 suggestions for conflict resolution:

1. Start with the points you all agree on. This sets a positive foundation of agreement to build upon.

2. Can you all agree that the outcome you want is for the highest good of everyone concerned?

3. Are you willing, if necessary, to set aside your personal interests for the highest good of everyone concerned?

4. Can you allow yourself to admit you are wrong? And/or admit that you hadn’t seen the situation from the other person’s point of view?

5. Are you speaking from wisdom or from self-centered ego?

6. Do you want to be right, or be happy?

7. Before starting a conflict resolution do one of the following meditations, either alone or with the other people, to release tensions and emotional charge, and to help bring your wisest self to the table. The more you are at peace within yourself, the more likely you are to manifest a positive outcome.

Laughter Expressive Meditation – Two Minutes
Step One: Laugh for no reason (one minute)
Step Two: Sit in silence (one minute)
After releasing stress and tensions with laughter, you experience joy, oneness, and creativity.
You can do this for longer than two minutes; just be sure and do an equal amount of time for each step.

Gibberish Expressive Meditation – Two Minutes
Step One: Gibberish (one minute)
Step Two: Sit in Silence (one minute)
Express your frustrations, resentments and tensions in the gibberish. You then find it much easier and quicker to drop down into a state of inner peace, clarity, and wisdom.

Setting an Intention Meditation – Two Minutes
Set the intention that you want the outcome of your discussion to be for the highest good of everyone concerned. Sit silently, eyes closed, relaxing into acceptance of what is, with compassion for yourself and everyone involved.

I look forward to your comments below.

And Join my Laughing Buddhas Network – it’s FREE!

Gabrielle Bernstein: Miracles and A Rad Guided Meditation

Sat Nam Spirit Junkies! This week I’m sharing a clip from my Miracles in LA lecture. In this video I discuss how stress blocks us in every area of life. Watch this video and follow the guided meditation on how to eradicate your ego, release stress and powerfully activate your energy. Practice this meditation daily and your life will begin to flow.

Ego Eradicator Meditation from gabriellebernstein on Vimeo.

 

More from Gabrielle:

How to Reduce Stress

A Meditation for Irrationality

A Meditation to Help Treat Addiction

Are You Shopping for Enlightenment?

The most common answer, sadly, is ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’. But it is almost never a ‘no’ for any of us.

Our human mind is always chasing something. It constantly prompts you to shed any responsibility and instead place it onto others. Be it social, professional, or spiritual responsibilities. Your mind will not let you take full responsibility for your own divinity. Thus, you will constantly chase after Gods that you have never seen. You will wait for some special spiritual experience to open your third eye or some mystic who holds the power to enlighten you with the touch of his hand.

Even in our romantic relationships, we impatiently wait for that ‘someone special’ to fulfill the vacuum within ourselves, only to find that no such person even exists. All you have been missing was you. Once you find yourself, everyone is a mate of your soul. We wait and search for that perfect person instead of using our energy on becoming that perfect person. It all comes down to you and what you’re looking for can never be found on the outside.

In the same way, you can read books, attend seminars, light incense, and get certificates of meditation and yoga, but spiritual light doesn’t need validation of anything; it comes from within. None of the masters chase after books. Enlightenment simply happened to them out of their sheer innocent attitude and openness to receive it. Homecoming is enlightenment; when you realize that it exists nowhere else but within your own self, it is like coming home. But with most of us, our egos are shamelessly sensitive and anything, just anything can shake our ego…leading us further away from our true eternal self and more into the illusion.

The result is that we start to shop for enlightenment. We try out every solution offering happiness. We try out every self proclaimed Guru promising divinity. In some cases, seekers have some experiences which are mistaken as signs of enlightenment. The profound transformation is still missing.

Is there a solution?

The solutions are very simple. Nothing fancy. Nothing mystic is needed. In fact, the ‘simplicity’ of enlightenment goes against it more than often.

Try out some of these suggestions to warm up:

  • Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
  • Love yourself. Love others.
  • Take responsibility for your spiritual journey.
  • Know that one master can change the entire world. But we need the entire world to be a set of surrendered seekers who are ready to shed the ego.
  • Stop shopping for enlightenment. There is nothing to buy anyway. You just need to take off the social mask.
  • Being uncomfortable with yourself in meditation is perfect alright. That is the whole goal! When you peel off layers imposed on you by societal norms, you will feel uneasy… But go ahead with it! The more your seek, the more you will find.

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Meditation: Who Am I?

Playground LoveI recently went on a silent retreat and in that experience was able to see the mind with more clarity and witness how it organizes itself. Having had no distractions, plenty of time and a deep intention, a lot was revealed that I’d love to share here and see what may resonate for you in your own investigation.

I realized most thoughts have a common detonator; they seem to point back to a “me” who is having them. The mind creates this character called “me” and then more thoughts are believed about who this person is or isn’t. Whether that’s a good me or a bad me, we seemingly imprison ourselves by buying into these beliefs about who we think we are; which are ultimately limiting and not entirely true.

There was a realization that this sense of a “me” or “ego” maintains the illusion of itself by believing stories based off the past or future. It needs the mind to sustain itself; it also needs time, which is only in the mind. It can be quite powerful to notice what is actually here when you’re not referencing a past or projecting a future…to deeply and intimately discover this moment.

I was able to see that every story the mind tells is only appearing now. Even if the story is about the future like, “This is going to take forever!” it’s just one thought appearing now. In this same way, any story about who I think I am is also just one story appearing now. All it takes is seeing through the thought appearing in this moment to wake up from this sense of a separate self.

As soon as we identify as a separate character, there is this sense of incompleteness or lack that will always look to to fill itself: to be, do or have more by searching somewhere other than here. This search will never end for the separate character because in identifying with a limited version of ourselves we mask our innate completeness. In a way this search is a deeper calling back home to our true Selves.

When we stop to truly investigate what’s here in this moment, you may notice something more magical and ordinary than you ever thought.

What if it was never about more in the future: our careers, ourselves, our relationships? What if this whole search was what actually maintained this sense of separation and kept us away from the realization of a deeper truth?

Instead of using more words and thoughts to point to a deeper experience, I have created a guided meditation to slow this process down so you can inquire and find out for yourself. When you have a few minutes of uninterrupted time, I invite you to sit in silence, watch this video and discover what is true now.

Many blessings,

Alyssa

Is It Love or Is It Projection?

RequiebroBy Rebeca Eigen

There is something magical about the experience of “falling in love.” Psychologically it is their feeling function that gets activated when two lovers first meet. Emotions burst forth and sparks fly that ignite a passion and an unmistakable bliss. When you are with that person, you are “in heaven,” so to speak. And when you are away from them, you are longing for the next encounter. As the song says, “Suddenly life has new meaning to me,” and they are transported into the realms of the Gods (the archetypes). In our Western culture, our movies provide us plenty of examples of this experience — so much so that we all yearn for it.

We mistakenly call this love, and many find themselves searching for their other half, their “soul mate.” We believe that this is what will complete us and that this magic is what we feel to truly value another person. As you will see when you understand the nature of the “Anima” and “Animus,” this is only the beginning of an encounter with our unconscious.

It’s interesting that the word “soul” also means psyche. In the psychology of Dr. Carl G. Jung, he explains this phenomenon of projecting our Anima and Animus (the contrasexual soul images in our unconscious) onto each other. The psyche seeks wholeness, and a union of our inner opposites is what Jung called the process of individuation. When projection occurs, this process has begun as these contrasexual images are now out in the open. We will learn a lot about ourselves by the people we either extremely love or hate.

Often we will fall in love and get involved in some very unsuitable, destructive and soul-destroying relationships, but these, too, are showing us aspects of our shadow. In order to grow and be a whole person, we need to become aware of what is really happening. When someone is “into us”, we need to ask ourselves, “Is it love or is it just projection?” Two people won’t know until time gives them a chance to see who each other actually is — and this requires self-honesty and self-disclosure.

There is no other way to see these parts of us, so it’s inevitable that they will be projected. The intoxication and the intensity of the experience are clues that we are into a projection. Ordinary human beings do not evoke the instant passion that “love at first sight” evokes.

The Anima and Animus

A woman carries an image of her male counterpart that Jung called the “Animus.” This unconscious inner male is her God (soul) image that gets projected onto a man in the outer world. As inner and outer create a mirroring effect, she will know a lot about what shape her inner partner is in by the person upon whom the projection lands. The clue to knowing a projection has occurred is the feeling of intense fascination or obsession with a man whom she will feel is her ideal mate.

A man faces a similar dilemma. When a man projects his perfect God (soul) image onto a woman, she becomes the carrier of his “Anima.” His Anima acts as a muse to bridge the gap between his inner and outer worlds. She animates him from within.

When this happens to both people at the same time, we call this “falling in love.” They definitely fall. They fall into their own unconscious image as each projects part of himself or herself onto the other person evoking a feeling of fantasy and Eros. The erotic and sexual nature of the encounter is psychologically symbolic. It is each one wanting to merge with or penetrate into themselves.

As time goes on, it is inevitable that projections are going to fall off. They actually have to so that we can see who the other person actually is and relate to a real person instead of a God or Goddess (a symbiotic extension of oneself). When relationships reach this stage of familiarity, many people addicted to this kind of high start looking outside their primary marriage or partnership. Many relationships end and the alchemical process begins all over again with someone else. Some go on to marry the person with whom they feel they are “in love with,” and later become disillusioned when they realize that they have married a person who is not who they thought they were.

On the other hand, if they are both committed to their relationship, growing and becoming conscious, when the projections dissolve, there is an opportunity that arrives for both people. They can now discover and embrace their missing halves. This is not an easy task as it takes work and often involves a painful encounter with the Self. In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung says that an experience with the Self is always a defeat for the ego but that the death of the ego (the Self as you knew it) allows one to be reborn into one’s own wholeness as projections are taken back.

In taking back our projections, we can now see and accept our partners for who they are — not what we wanted them to be; not what we wish they would change into; not for what they can give us; but who they are. The love that can now grow between them is profound because it is REAL. Real love, unlike projection, is a willingness to see and support another person to be their own unique, separate self. This will untangle us from seeking in them the perfect parent-mirror image of ourselves, for as long as we are still seeking to be completed by another person, we will not allow them their own autonomy.

As love between them grows and expands to the entire cosmos, this kind of love gives each partner their freedom — the greatest gift of all. As the duet by Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion professes, LOVE will be the gift you give yourself.

* * *

RebecaEigen-72-dpiRebeca Eigen, an astrologer for 25+ years and author of The Shadow Dance & the Astrological 7th House Workbook, specializes in relationships. Using your time, date, and place of birth, she uses the astrological birth chart to evoke the symbolic and help you become more aware of your total Self. Her study of the Shadow using Astrological tools has given her an invaluable awareness of the unconscious and the role it plays in the relationships that we attract into our lives. For more information, visit her Web site: www.shadowdance.com.

Super Thoughts: 5 Ways to Make Yours Empowering

Beata Zita“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” ~Author Unknown

I’m a long-time believer in the power of our thoughts, and I tend to focus on the positive. But, sometimes, those darn thoughts just spin out of control and go on their own little tangent, taking us along for the ride. This happened to me recently, but it served as a good reminder of just how powerful our thoughts are.

I was messing around online when an article caught my eye. There was a local headline about a fatal motorcycle crash. Eeek, bad news, for sure. Normally, I would avoid clicking on such an article just because I prefer not to fill my conscious with the gruesome details of the unfortunate things going on in the world. However, I couldn’t help but click this time. You see, my father sometimes rides a motorcycle and the crash happened within a few miles of his home. I felt a strong urge to read more. When I clicked on the article and started reading the details, my heart sank. While the identity of the motorcyclist was not released, the details of the crash had it taking place on a road, in a direction, and at a time that could have easily been my dad. I gulped. Very aware of my own body, I could suddenly feel my heart rate quicken and my breathing become more shallow as my chest tightened up. It was an uneasy, although not completely unfamiliar feeling. I started to feel a deep sadness and worry. I did not like it at all.

“Okay, wait a second,” I said to myself. I had no idea how many motorcycles drive down that road on a given morning, but it had to be a lot. It was a very busy intersection, after all. Plus, I didn’t even know for sure if my dad drove his bike that day, or if he even took that route. There was no real logic behind the sudden panic feeling. I was being crazy, and I knew it. In fact, I did confirm shortly thereafter that all was well with my father. Phew.

This example of the human mind at work is something we can all relate to. It’s just how we’re wired. From back in the caveman days, we were programmed with a “fight or flight” trigger, which used to have a very real purpose (you know, running away from dinosaurs and such). Though we have evolved quite a bit since then, our brains are still wired very similarly. The reaction I felt in my body was actually a defense mechanism. My brain was preparing me for danger. And, despite the incredibly low probability of that bad news actually pertaining to me, from a logical perspective, my brain treated it as if it was actually happening to me. In fact, the feeling was so real that it was indeed my reality for those few moments while the feelings took place. I had created my own illusion just like each and everyone of us go around creating our own illusions on a daily basis. Our perception is our reality.

I tell this story to help others become more acutely aware of their own thoughts and just how incredibly powerful they are. Isn’t it funny how our brains work? From worrying about something that hasn’t even actually happened to reliving a moment in the past to making assumptions that what other people do or say has anything to do with us at all – these are all ways that our mind likes to create illusions for us! And, yes, we are ALL a little bit “crazy” like this at times.

The good news is that as powerful as our thoughts are, we can work to take control of them and harness that power for good. Here are a few pointers on how to do just that.

  1. What are you thinking? Notice whenever your mind starts reeling and also take note of the physical changes in your body. Knowing really is half the battle. A mentor of mine, Angela Jia Kim of Savor the Success, says there are really only two types of thoughts: empowering ones and dis-empowering ones. Simplify it to that level, and learn to ask yourself in any given moment, how is this thought serving me?
  2. Check Yourself. Don’t get me wrong sometimes we really are in danger … but, usually not. Is there really a “dinosaur” chasing you? Is it really about you? Give your self an ego-check. In addition to trying to protect us from (often imaginary) danger, our ego likes to make us feel really special and like everything is about us. But, upon a little logical reasoning, we can realize that whatever dis-empowering thoughts we are having are not actually about us or even real at all. With this awareness in hand, we can then work towards changing them.
  3. Just breathe. This simple nugget of wisdom can be applied to just about any uncomfortable situation. Breathe it out. Deep breathing actually has a physiological effect on our nervous system that sends out neurohormones to basically tell the stress hormones to take a chill. Visualize as you practice breathing. Inhale peace slowly and deeply through your nose into your diaphragm and exhale stress slowly and completely out through your mouth. Continue this until you feel calmness restore.
  4. Fill your consciousness with positive and uplifting ideas. Since thoughts are energy and they turn into our reality, why not feed your brain with some good stuff? From the articles you read to the people you hang out with, to the TV you watch (or not), you are setting the stage for what kind of thoughts will go into that beautiful little noggin of yours. Fuel your mind with knowledge that empowers you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
  5. Practice Mindfulness. I can’t recommend a mindfulness practice enough. It helps us become so much more aware of our thoughts and what’s going on with our bodies. It keeps us connected with our core being and intuition. While meditation is definitely at the top of the list of becoming more mindful, there are many other ways you can practice. Yoga is another wonderful one. However, it can also be taking an introspective walk or doing your favorite in-the-flow activity: maybe painting, sewing, or playing an instrument. Regularly practicing these mindfulness enhancers will help you stay grounded, and to keep those crazy thoughts at bay.

Learn to harness the power of your thoughts and enjoy the reward of unlimited peacefulness and joy!

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photo by: ckaroli

Deepak Chopra: What is Belief and How Does it Shape Reality?

Do our beliefs at all affect the way the world really is, or are they merely projections of our minds? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses the relationship between belief and reality.

Beliefs are ideas that we hold to be true. They shape our perceptions, attitudes, moods, and how we perceive our reality. Reality is filtered to our consciousness through these beliefs, which in most cases are limiting but have the opportunity to be empowering. Beliefs limit us by defining who we are and what we hold dear. But true empowerment comes from pushing beyond beliefs.

Beyond beliefs, what is left to define us and shape reality? Perhaps we could open out awareness to perceive the world as it is in that instant before we begin assigning meanings and labels. What do you think?

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and continue moving beyond beliefs!

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