Anyone who has asked for divine guidance knows that it can be challenging to trust it when it comes. This is because divine guidance comes in many forms and it is sometimes hard to locate it. We aren’t sure if we are meant to trust our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, or our intuitions to be the carriers of divine wisdom. We are not sure if advice from a friend is the form in which the guidance has come into the world, or if our own opinion is the source of wisdom we need to take seriously. The ability to sort all this out comes with trial and error, and the best way to learn to recognize divine guidance is to engage in the process of asking and receiving.
Sometimes when we ask for guidance, we already have a sense of what we want to hear. At such times, receiving guidance can be difficult, because we don’t want to hear anything that appears to be in opposition to our desire. Therefore, one of the most important qualities we need to cultivate if we are to receive guidance is an open mind. It helps to acknowledge what we want, and then to symbolically set it aside, making room for whatever wisdom comes through to us.
Cultivating an active relationship with the divine is the essential ingredient to being able to receive and trust guidance when it comes our way. We can make a daily practice of this by using a set of runes, a deck of cards, or a pendulum. We can also use our journals, developing a relationship with the divine through the written word. As we request and receive guidance, we might take notes on our experiences. Over time we will begin to recognize when we were able to hear correctly and when we were not. In this way, we will gradually attune ourselves to our particular relationship with the divine. Begin to trust the guidance you are receiving and soon you will find it flowing with ease.
According to a recent study written about in the New York Times, we learn better and retain information more effectively when we switch up our study and work environments. So for the wanderlusters who can’t sit still in a sterile library room for hours at a time or have to hop from cafe to cafe to get a paper done, fear not–when your brain craves a little novelty in your studying or working environment, it’s perfectly normal and actually is a very good thing.
As somebody who is lucky to work from home, I can definitely attest to this. Staying holed up in my apartment all day definitely does not do me any good. I work best when I can switch it up and work in different settings, whether it is a local coffee house, a bookstore or a friend’s couch. Sometimes I prefer the solitude of staying at home, and sometimes I prefer the background buzz of strangers conversing over their lattes and frappucinos in a busy part of the city. Variety indeed is the spice of life when it comes to working and learning.
So what can we all start doing to spice up our usual hum-drum study desks, work cubicles and offices? Here are 6 tips to start adding some exciting variety to your usual working environment:
– Make a habit to study and work at different locations. Explore new wifi hot-spots in your neighborhood. There is nothing like the joy of discovering a new coffee house that has great internet, big desks and a welcoming cafe vibe.
– Switch up between working alone and working in groups. Sometimes you really need to hole yourself up somewhere to concentrate. Other times, it helps to bounce off the energy of other people’s ideas. Switch between both.
– Stuck in the same cubicle all day? Change the appearance of your environment, even if it is a little bit. It can be as simple as adding a potted bonsai plant on your desk, adding framed pictures, or simply de-cluttering the pile of papers and office supplies covering half of your desk space.
– Listen to different music than what you usually listen to. Switch up radio stations, listen to different podcasts, get new music from your musically inclined friends. If you can’t change your location, you can at least change the soundtrack of your study / work session.
– If you work at home, find local meet-ups of other freelancers who work from home. In many big cities, freelancers who are not bound by the cubicle do regular meet-ups at coffee houses and other public wifi places during the day so they can bond communally as "co-workers" instead of always being isolated. See if there is a freelance group in your neighborhood, or start your own.
– Ok, this is cheesy but it’s effective… change your ATTITUDE. Attitude changes everything. You can be moaning and groaning that it is still the middle of the week, or be absolutely thankful that you are employed when millions of people don’t have regular jobs. You can be annoyed that your boss gave you a big project that will take a lot of your time, or be honored that you are trusted with a big responsibility that you know you will excel at. At the end of the day, it is always an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude that will keep everything fresh, no matter what.
You know it’s back-to-school season when notebooks and pencils are suddenly dirt-cheap everywhere you look. Students across the nation are trekking back to school with new backpacks, classes and classmates. Are you eager to get back into the learning groove, too?
Fortunately, you don’t have to be enrolled as a full-time student at an official school if you want to be a passionate student of life. All of us–regardless of our age, income or time availability–can be passionate learners every single day for the rest of our lives in any subject matter we are interested in, whether it is as specific as learning how to knit or as broad as becoming a more informed global citizen. Here are 8 general tips to really get yourself into the learning groove in the school of life this season.
1. Always have a reading book in hand no matter where you go. Reading stimulates creativity, critical thinking, and opens the horizons of your imagination. Even if it is only for ten minutes a day, those ten minutes make a world of a difference.
2. Surround yourself with mentor figures who are extremely skilled in the areas you want to be skilled at. When you are around hard-working and creative people who are good at what they do, they will always continue to inspire you to keep pushing your own potential.
3. Subscribe to a magazine that keeps you up-to-date in the intellectual field you are most interested in. Though many of us do subscribe to blogs, I really believe having to read a physical magazine article is far more focused than skimming one blog post in one of many multiple tabs on the internet. (I absolutely recommend subscribing to the magazine Utne Reader for your regular dosage of relevant and engaging news, essays and articles.)
4. Attend regular meet-ups with people who are interested in the same hobbies and interests as you. There is power in numbers, and finding your "tribe" can spark many exciting possibilities, collaborations and projects. Plus, being connected with many people who are eager to learn the same things as you simply means you are connected to many more resources you wouldn’t have found by yourself. Find a local group via meetup.com or make it as simple as a monthly reading club with your immediate circle of friends.
5. Know what’s going on in your city. Does your city have free concerts? Lectures at universities open to the public? Free seminars at local museums and community centers? Stay in the know with what your neighborhood has to offer for some free learning.
7. Teach another person what you know. Here is the best way to learn something: teach it to another person who wants to learn the same skill that you have. When you know how to teach it effectively, you are essentially teaching yourself how to improve your expertise and knowledge in that skill as well.
8. Be humble; we are all students, and we all have so much more to learn. The best students are constantly passionate, curious and eager to improve their skills to the next level no matter how skilled they are in their field. The worst students are the ones that stop trying and become self-satisfied with their current skill level. No matter how many years you have been learning a certain skill or expertise, keep asking questions and be open to learn even more.
As many of you already know, Intent.com is celebrating the month of September by challenging everyone in the community to post one learning-related intent every day for 30 days. We are excited to see many of you tagging your intents #30dayslearning and sharing with all of us what you want to learn more about this month. We’ve seen learning intents for Tibetan language classes, becoming a better listener, practicing the piano, finishing academic papers, and trusting people more.
Dare to enrich yourself by continuing to think of more things you want to learn more about in the coming days and weeks. And if this is your first time hearing about the 30 days of learning intents, it’s always better to be late than never.
Looking forward to reading more #30dayslearning intents from all of you!
To kick off the new month of September, we are challenging the Intent community to post one new learning-related intent every day until September 30. During our 30 Days of Learning Intents, we want all of you to get in touch with your inner passionate and curious student of life, whether or not you are an official student at an educational institution or not. All of us, no matter what age we are, can and should learn as though we are going to live forever.
So what are some things our community is interested in learning more about?
Today marks our first-ever launch of 30 Days of Learning Intents. In celebration of going back to school and getting back into the full swing of work, what are your intentions related to learning, education, developing new skills and being a passionate student of life?
Whether you are a student going back to school or somebody who wants to pick up a new hobby or musical instrument in her free time, all of us never stop learning in the university of planet Earth.
It may be a challenge to think of a learning-related intent every single day for the next 30 days. But we want to push all of you to think hard about what you are curious about, what subject matters give you passion, and what you have always wanted to do but have always been scared of doing. After writing down the ones you are immediately eager to learn about, you may be surprised at the other goals, classes and subjects you have been itching to learn about in the coming weeks.
So what is your learning intent of the moment? Maybe your intent is to start taking night classes in a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Or maybe you want to learn how to start your own business. Or maybe you simply want to recommit your dedication in learning how to be a better parent, better listener, better friend and better citizen of the world.
Start posting your intents today (please tag them #30dayslearning), and feel free to also share in the comments below. Looking forward to reading what all of you are interested in learning more about in the coming days and weeks.
Is your brain OD-ing on digital devices? Do you even remember the last time you went for at least three hours without fiddling with your BlackBerry, iPhone, Macbook or Twitter updates?
Though this may be old and hardly groundbreaking news, it is worth repeating over and over again: our brains need regular breaks from e-mails, blog feeds and other online distractions to properly process information and to recharge for more effective learning in the future. As reported recently in the New York Times, studies from lab rats show that when rats take a rest from learning a new activity, they are better able to retain the new information for future experiences. The main take-away being this:
The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.
And the past studies, cited in the same article, suggesting that people in mega-urban environments feel much more mentally rested after taking a break in a very nature-heavy setting? Too much information overload simply is not good for the mind, body and soul.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes technological devices do come in a lot of handy. Sometimes e-mails really are urgent, and nothing like a cellphone GPS to help you navigate your car that out-of-the-way dinner potluck you are running late for. But more often than not? It won’t kill you to put down that damn iPad for at least an hour or two when you can enjoy an offline walk around the neighborhood or heaven forbid, actual face-to-face time with an old friend.
And those tiny windows of time that happen from waiting in line at the supermarket, waiting for the bus or waiting for your friend to come over? Rather than automatically filling those few minutes with more apps and status feeds, use your imagination to imagine what people did with themselves in the pre-internet age: read a physical book or even better, Zen out with some mindful mini-meditations where you simply get mentally still and absorb the present-ness that is happening all around you.
If you really think about it, taking regular breaks from information overload is actually the most time-saving and productive strategy for the long run. A well-rested brain will learn useful new information faster, come up with new ideas more effectively, and process the meaning of past experiences to use more diligently for future events.
However many cool digital devices we have at our fingertips in this day and age, let us not forget that the most important and sophisticated computer that needs our uttermost care and attention is the gray-pink matter lying right within our noggins.
Ever since I wrote the article Turning Loneliness Into Deeper Connection I have been far from lonely. Partly, this has been because I decided to renew contacts with friends and partly because I have been saying "yes" to invitations, even when I thought I did not have time for them.
Emails from readers on the topic are still coming to me, especially from men. One reader explains:
Almost by definition we think of "loners" and even eccentrics as men, yet even those men deemed sociable are often quite friendless; many have "mates" — usually associated with work or sports contacts — mates who are good for fishing or watching sports with, whilst remaining devoid of anyone with whom they can share more intimately with. We don’t seem to know how to network like women, and we seem to reserve our deeper (read more vulnerable) selves for our partners, (and even then some women decry the lack of emotional intimacy from their men).
And from another reader:
Boys are raised to be first and number one in all categories — doesn’t argue much for collaboration or cooperation. In primitive cultures it’s much different as you know. In one documentary I saw about a tribe in Africa young men compete in a footrace.The big difference is when one stumbles and falls they ALL stop to pick him up get re-set and start again together. Here in the U.S. we would have cleat marks on our backs!!!
Here are the 4 L’s for you to consider:
Love is the binding force that connects us. The thread of love weaves through our lives. When we look to the love in ourselves and others, it heals, gives purpose, meaning and direction. For love read beauty, wisdom, kindness, vulnerability, compassion — truly, there is a lot of it, in and around all of us. Love blesses us.
Loving starts with ourselves. It is your greatest resource. Love yourself beyond your irritations and frustrations; love your tenderness and sensitivity; embrace yourself in those times when you feel less than your best. You are worth every ounce of love you can give to yourself, especially at those times when you feel undeserving.
My Dad, my hero, at 91 is naturally a loner. He is a great reader and up until a few months ago, tended a garden allotment where he delighted in growing vegetables, flowers and fruits. When he had surplus of green beans, strawberries, potatoes or onions, he gave them away. He takes care to be interested in others. He never passes someone without exchanging a greeting or a kind word. A couple of years ago, he created a League of Gentlemen — nine cricket enthusiasts like himself to support the local club that plays on the village green.
When he turned 90, he was given an amazing birthday party by all the people who live in his retirement estate. Even as a loner, he is very loved. My Dad is a great example of what you give out, you tend to receive back.
Another gentleman wisely wrote:
Sometimes when we look only at our burdens we see them big and unbearable. But if we take a minute and look around to other people’s problems, ours get dwarfed. May be I should look around and give a helping hand to those who need it most. Even just this attitude makes me feel less lonely and surrounded by caring people.
Love is the cure—
for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain
until your eyes constantly exhale love
as effortlessly as your body yields its scent.
As I wrote last week in "Listening to the ‘Still Small Voice’", you have a wealth of knowing and understanding within you. Ask yourself how you can best banish loneliness — and listen for the answer.
One of the perhaps unrecognized values in a close marriage or partnership is that of having a "witness" to your trials and triumphs. There is something about talking out a concern that lifts burdens from the consciousness. You might not want any comment, to be fixed or corrected. To be heard with love and empathy is a great gift to receive.
People have so much they want to express, so if you can listen with presence and appreciation, you are offering a tremendous service to others. As a good listener, you will never be alone.
In my pre-teens, my father’s work took him, my mother, younger sister and brother overseas for nearly three years. I was left behind in England where the education was considered better. I had a guardian to oversee me. I had one holiday a year with them.
What none of us could have anticipated was that I experienced such a depth of homesickness for my family that I resolved never to get close to anyone, in case they might leave me. Therein began a learning curve for my adult life, including dealing with loneliness.
Through learning, we enrich our lives. No challenge is without its blessing. Keep an open mind and learn all you can from your experiences, however difficult. What you learn may turn out to be a gift of the gods to others later.
One of the greatest connectors we have is laughter, as John Cleese explains in this video:
Laughter Clubs with John Cleese
Check out Laughter Yoga On this site, you can find a Laughter Club near you.
A friend of mine said recently about Laughter Clubs: What an incredible way to bring people together, feel connected, share a moment, release anger and get over yourself!
A couple of years ago, when I was going through a touch of the glums, I recalled this song. I still sing it to myself when I need to giggle.
Always look on the bright side of life
When the power of love
overcomes the love of power,
the world will know peace.
– Jimi Hendrix
Do you have any tips to share on how you banish loneliness? Who are the loners who inspire you? How do you see the power of love connecting others in the world around you? I would love to hear from you.
It happens about this time every year. Suddenly you realize Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and you have no idea what to get for dear old Mom. Well this year the Marion Institute is offering a unique alternative to the same old greeting card and flowers. Their Mastate Charitable Foundation is currently running a campaign for Mother’s Day that not only gives you a great gift idea, but helps others as well.
Mastatal is a small community in rural Costa Rica about two and a half hours from San José, and the Mastate Charitable Foundation for has been working to improve the living conditions there for the past four years. Their most recent endeavor is to build a Community Learning and Sharing Center (CLSC), which aims to serve as a social center in the town, as well as a library and meeting place. That’s where you come in.
The CLSC building in Mastatal will be naturally built using local labor and resources. In honor of Mother’s Day, The Mastate Charitable Foundation is selling daub bricks that will be used in the construction of this building that will help so many families. Each brick is $4, and you can buy one (or as many as you like) for the CLSC in honor of your mother for an original and unique gift idea. It takes 5,000 bricks to build the entire CLSC, and the Mastate Charitable Foundation hopes to sell as many as possible to try to reach their goal.
Perhaps buying your mom some daub bricks wasn’t the first thing that came to your mind when you thought about Mother’s Day presents, but the reality is that it’s a thoughtful and different gift that most moms would appreciate. The mothers in Mastatal are trying to give their community and their children the best opportunities they possibly can, so why not give your mother a gift that helps other mothers as well?
For more information, follow the Mastate Charitable Foundation on Facebook.
In Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), Gever Tulley questions whether a world where “we have rounded every corner, hidden all the knives, and put safety rails around every gully and tree, where all the floors are non-skid, and point scissors are given only to those with drivers licenses” is truly a safer one. This engaging manifesto of experimentation and curiosity-cultivation suggests it’s not…We all learn from taking risks, yet Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, which uses an exploratory curriculum designed to help kids learn how to build things, argues that the over-emphasis on safety is keeping kids from their natural tendencies to poke, prod, and dig. And that’s keeping them from building self-confidence– and exploring the world around them.
The best way to learn how to be safe, says Tulley, is to learn how to judge danger. If you’re like many parents, it will take a leap of faith to say, “Go ahead, play in a hailstorm!” or “Sure, throw rocks.” But imagine what a hero you’ll become to your kids when you do!
Here are 5 of the 50 activities, projects, skills and experiences you should do (and the reasons for allowing them). For a complete list, more ideas, and ways to share your progress, log on towww.fiftydangerousthings.com.
#18 Walk Home from School: The habit of walking pays dividends over a lifetime: improved memory, consistent exercise, independence, and a sense of well-being.
#30 Dam Up a Creek: Playing with water, and understanding how water pressure and erosion work is hands-on learning, and the creek is a perfect context for self-directed physics, engineering, and biology experiments.
#35 Go to the Dump: Seeing, first hand, what happens to our garbage makes us more conscious of the ecological impact of our habits.
#46 Super Glue Your Fingers Together: Necessity is the mother of invention: having to figure out how to accomplish our everyday tasks in spite of glued fingers forces us to be creative.
#49 Sleep in the Wild: We forget that it was once common to sleep outside. The familiar area around our home becomes a whole new world after dark, and we see– and hear– things in a whole new way.