What gets in your way from doing the "right" thing?
How would things be different if you chose the "right" action?
What role do honor and respect have in this choice?
While keeping your eyes on the screen, what was the last thing you remember noticing?
What thoughts came up around that?
What areas of constriction came up, if any, within your body?
Notice any judgments that arise and allow yourself to soften and be gentle.
Take a deep breath and take in what is around you.
What is my agenda?
What is my predisposition?
What are my prejudices?
What are my angers?
Think of a recent time when someone said or did something that "made" you feel inferior.
What did they say/do?
Was it true?
What limiting belief of yourself encouraged you to believe them?
Rewrite that story and reclaim your power.
Take a moment and think about what you are wanting to start. A new hobby? Exercise plan? Healthier eating? New career path?
What is keeping you from getting started?
What do you already possess within you to take the first step?
What makes you think you have to be perfect from the outset?
How can you use success as a stepping stone?
What do you need to do to liberate yourself from the fear of failure?
What does courage mean to you?
How willing are you to make mistakes?
What are you afraid of?
What might happen if you attempt something and make a mistake?
What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?
There's no such thing as failure, only feedback.
What do your words say about you?
How much conscious awareness is there around what you say?
How much accountability do you hold yourself to in regards to what words come out of your mouth?
How much value do you place on how others perceive you?
How is that in alignment with how you perceive yourself?
If the two are out of balance, what do you need to shift to bring greater value on how YOU perceive yourself?
Whose permission are you waiting to receive?
Where does the fear behind the need for approval stem from?
What would it take for you to step into your greatness and take action on your dreams?
What negative belief do you hold about yourself?
Is it really true?
How can you shift that limiting belief into one of empowerment?
What struggle are you currently facing?
What limiting belief sends the message that you should give up?
What strengths have gotten you this far?
What strengths will continue to serve you?
Tap into those strengths and the intention behind it all.
What story are you telling yourself as to WHY you can't do something?
What limiting belief do you need to release in order to trust that you have and know all that you need?
What baby step can you take today, with gentleness, to make today your starting point?
Look at something you perceive as beautiful. What do you see?
Look at something or someone that isn't perceived as warmly. What do you see?
Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see?
What responsibility is weighing you down?
What can you do to shift your perception?
What skills, lessons or benefits are being offered in the "load" you are carrying?
Have you heard the excited whispers of your spirit lately?
Even if the answer is "no", what does excite your spirit?
What would it take for you to listen and answer to your spirit?
In what way do you seek approval or affirmation from others?
What would it take for you to find deep self-approval within?
What is the biggest element that prevents you from accepting yourself?
How aware are you of the choices you make every day?
Are you making choices that are mindful or mindless?
How often are you surprised by someone's reaction to what you say or do?
In other words, are you making choices that reflect your own light and the light of others or are you simply "shooting from the hip" and letting the pieces fall where they may?
Think of a person you are in conflict with. What would it take for you to see beyond the conflict and focus on the person?
What would need to shift in order to see their light instead of the point of conflict?
Turn these questions inward. What point of conflict are you holding against yourself?
What needs to shift in order for you to see your light?
What choice/actions/words of yours are you still beating yourself up for?
What growth nugget can you take from that instead of punishing yourself?
What gratitude can you offer for the growth that came from that initial experience?
In which area of your life does fear have the tightest grip?
What is the fear connected to?
What can do you to courageously loosen the grip of fear and move through it?
What fear, grudge, or "wrongdoing" do you need to let go of?
How can you soften around it?
How can you shift your perspective to see it with greater understanding and less judgment?
What are you focusing on?
What is your biggest worry right now?
How can that lens be shifted to what can be gained?
In what ways are you preventing yourself from being tender?
In what ways are you preventing yourself from receiving tenderness?
In what ways have you allowed the overwhelming energy of society keep you from being tender?
In what ways are you keeping yourself "chained"?
What belief are you clinging to that keeps you from changing?
What do you most want for yourself? What keeps you from it?
In what ways has fear blocked your desire to try?
How are the judgments of others influencing your actions?
How often do you really pay attention to what say?
Take note of how you respond to questions from other people. Do you tend to be negative or optimistic? Do you tend to moan and groan or state things more matter of fact?
How often do you use "should" when reflecting on choices to make or decisions already made?
Should or should have are full of shame/guilt/judgment. Rid them from your vocabulary to stay in a space of kindness and gentleness with yourself.
Think back to a recent "issue" in your life. What choices did you make that helped create the issue?
What choice could you have made in order to keep things more fluid?
What do you notice in your body as you think about this experience? Take a deep breath and allow the physical response to be a warning light for the future.
How do you define peace?
What is your most recent experience of resisting peace? How might that situation been different if you embraced peace?
How do you bring peace to others?
In what ways are you demanding perfection?
What are you attempting to avoid?
What step(s) can you take to show up in the midst of your beautiful, messy self?
"Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination,
or your curiosity.
It's your place in the world;
it's your life.
Go on and do all you can with it,
and make it the life you want to live."
With the start of a brand new year, instead of setting resolutions that criticize the nit-picky, be bold and courageous in your dreams for 2018.
What do you imagine for yourself or your life, without restrictions?
What dream feels bold?
Courageously allow these dreams and ideas to live consciously within you.
When there is doubt, let it teach you faith.
When there is greed, let it teach you generosity.
When there is anger, let it teach you kindness.
When there is confusion, let it teach you clarity.
I say, "Let it teach you," but the process is more reminder than instruction, reminder to come home to these innate, lovely qualities, and to cherish and nurture them.
~Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
Where are you experiencing doubt in your life? How can you be open to resting in faith?
How is greed present in your life, considering aspects such as time and love, not just monetary greed? How can you be more generous?
Where is anger present in your life, towards others or yourself? How can you be more gentle and kind?
In what ways are you feeling lost and confused in your life? How do those feelings bring clarity?
"If you live in fear of the future
because of what happened in your past,
you'll end up losing what you have in the present."
How are you holding your past against yourself?
How can you befriend yourself and embrace who you are?
What can you do to be more present with the gifts you have within you as well as in front of you?
"Get yourself out of the way,
and let joy have more space."
What brings you joy, connection to yourself?
What do you do to stop yourself from connecting to joy?
What do you say to yourself that gets in your way?
"The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy.
The pursuit of perfection is neurotic, frustrating and a terrible waste of time."
In what ways is the pursuit of perfection present in your life?
What do you hope to accomplish by striving for perfection?
How can you be more flexible and gentle in your daily pursuits?
Life is precious as it is.
All the elements for your happiness are already here.
There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
What aspects of yourself can you be grateful for in this moment?
How can you surrender expectations and embrace what you have to offer?
What is right before you that you can be grateful for instead of seeking for what you don't have?
Trust the still, small voice that says,
"This might work and I'll try it."
How often to do take time to listen to the whispers from within?
What keeps you from acknowledging the messages?
Take the opportunity each day to listen to the 'love nudges' from within.
"Find out who you are,
and do it on purpose."
How do you talk yourself out of the depth of your talent?
What keeps you from fully utilizing your gifts?
What old belief can be released so you can fully participate in each day?
"Nobody can make you mad or hurt your feelings.
You do those things all by yourself."
Who are you mad at?
Why are you choosing to be mad/angry at them?
What responsibility do you need to tend to on your end?
"I find that when we really love
and approve of ourselves
exactly as we are,
then everything in life works."
How often do you find yourself criticizing yourself?
How you can soften that harshness towards yourself?
What is one thing you can do today to offer yourself more love, acceptance and approval?
I take care of myself,
because I learned early on
that I'm the only person in life
who's responsible for me.
In what ways do you expect others to take care of you?
What makes you think that others will care for you in the way you most need to be cared for?
What keeps you from taking care of your own needs yourself?
The nature of gratitude helps dispel the idea
that we do not have enough or
that we ourselves are not enough.
When your heart is filled with gratitude,
it is grateful for everything
and cannot focus on what is missing.
What is one thing you are grateful for in this very moment?
What is one thing you are grateful for from yesterday?
What is one thing you are grateful for from last week?
Start a gratitude journal, listing 3-5 things you are grateful for each day.
In every living thing there is a desire for love.
In what ways do you offer love to others during the day?
In what ways do you offer love to yourself during the day?
How can your responses to others be influenced by being aware of their desire for love?
"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas
as in escaping from old ones."
~John Maynard Keynes
What is the most recent new idea that "popped" into your head?
What keeps you from fostering it?
What excuses or old ideas are getting in your way?
To manifest in the world begins with intention and conscious thought.
What do you wish for yourself?
'May I abide in well-being and freedom from affliction,
freedom from anxiety,
freedom from hostility and ill-will,
and may I maintain well-being in myself.
May my heart open and flower.
May I love and be loved.
May I find the healing that I seek.
May I find the ways to live in harmony with others and them with me.
May I be free from suffering.
May I be happy and find peace.'
Now offer those same intentions for the world. "
~Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
How do you offer these intentions to yourself?
What gets in your way from offering them to yourself?
How do you offer these intentions to those you are in conflict with?
"Experience is a hard teacher because
she gives the test first,
the lesson afterwards."
~Vernon Sanders Law
Reflect on a recent struggle you have experienced. How did you feel DURING the struggle?
What did you do to get through the struggle?
What did you learn about yourself because of the struggle?
How do you use the information you learned about yourself with greater awareness AFTER the struggle?
"The secret to living the life of your dreams
is to start living the life of your dreams today,
in every little way you possibly can."
What is one dream you have for yourself?
What stories/excuses/beliefs keep you from going after your dream?
What is one thing you can do TODAY to take a step closer to your dream?
"As we grow as unique persons,
we learn to respect the uniqueness of others."
~Robert H. Schuller
What aspect of another person (or group of people) are you most resistant to accepting?
Think of a person you are currently at odds with. What can you do to accept their uniqueness?
Character is like a tree
and reputation like a shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it;
the tree is the real thing.
In what ways does your shadow carry more importance than your true character?
With the energy of the Solar Eclipse, what can you do to step out of the shadow and into your light?
Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.
Don't let anything stand in the way
of the light that shines through this form.
Risk being seen in all your glory!
In what ways do you hide yourself?
What fear stands in your way of being seen?
What steps can you take today to let your light shine?
"The fundamental hope of rationalism is that
by seeing the reason behind things you will understand them and,
with that understanding,
be able to control everything."
~J. Donald Walters
In what ways do you find yourself trying to control a situation?
What fear rests behind allow things to unfold?
What one thing can you release to allow for guidance to be present and active in your life?
Our life purpose has both a general and a specific aspect.
The first has nothing to do with our work in the world
and everything to do with learning how
to give and receive love.
What did this passage stir up within you?
How easy is it for you to receive love?
In what ways do you show (give) love to others?
One Way Street
"Life is a one way street...
no matter how many detours you take,
none of them lead back.
So enjoy life's every moment,
as none of them will happen the same way again."
What are you hanging onto from the past?
Why won't you let it go?
What dream of yours still lies ahead for you?
Who are you Listening to?
Believe what your heart tells you,
not what other people say.
~Power of Positivity
How often do you slow down and quiet yourself enough to listen to your heart?
What are you afraid of hearing?
Why do you believe and listen to others over listening and believing what's in your heart?
What do you Want?
Only when we feel confident enough to expose our imperfections
do we truly achieve intimacy,
and only when we let others get close
can we truly love.
~Your Inner Pilot Light (a.k.a. Lissa Rankin)
What is one aspect of you that continue to see as an imperfection?
What can you do to shift the perspective of that trait and see it as a gift?
How can that same imperfection invite others to connect with you in a more authentic way?
Any resentment you hold onto is a wall in front of your heart.
No technique other than forgiveness can remove it,
and no one but you can do it.
Keep in mind that forgiveness is about letting go of the hope that the past can be anything other than what it was.
What resentment are you hanging onto?
What responsibility do you need to claim in connection to the resentment?
What is the lesson being brought to you?
Why am I so Tired?
"Our fatigue is often not caused by work,
but by worry,
Who or what are you holding resentment towards?
What are you resisting to see within yourself that adds (or creates) that feeling?
Take a step back to gently and compassionately look at your responsibility in the situation and how you can change it.
"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough
to nourish a man's growth
without destroying his roots."
~Frank A. Clark
Notice your voice of criticism.
Are your words gentle or harsh? What about your tone?
How can you soften your criticism of others to be gentle yet helpful?
How about towards yourself?
When we are who we are called to be,
we will set the world ablaze.
~St. Catherine of Siena
Who are you called to be?
Are you listening to your own heart or what others are "suggesting"?
How can you be more of you each day?
"Take 'should' and put it in the trashcan.
Literally, when you go home, write 'I should' on a piece of paper,
put it in the ashtray and light a fire to it.
Or put it in your garbage.
Make the decision for one week to be very watchful
and each time 'I should' comes out, to just note,
'Ah, here is a judgment.'
For that is all 'I should' is, the judging mind at work,
saying how things ought to be,
rather than being present with things as they are. "
~Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
Pay attention to how often "should" either comes to mind or out of your mouth. Is there a consistent pattern as to when it comes up?
What do you notice within you whenever "should" comes to the surface?
How you can re-frame the "should" into something positive or constructive in the moment?
Anger is almost always a sign
that you've been quiet for too long.
a.k.a. Mike Dooley
How often do you stew over something that upset you?
Are you willing to step into the fact that everyone experiences anger and it doesn't need to be thought of as a raging fit?
What keeps you from giving voice to it, either through calmly expressing your thoughts in person or through journaling?
What prevents you from acknowledging anger in the first place?
Accepting the anger allows you to move beyond it and understand the fear behind it.
"The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
A key element to forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be anything different than what it was. One cannot change the past. One can accept that the past has happened, gently and compassionately honor the event and offer gratitude for the lessons learned.
What are you currently holding against yourself that needs forgiveness?
Why are you resisting to accept what happened?
What lessons are involved that will foster personal growth?
Ask, yet expect.
Surrender, yet prepare.
And miracles will abound.
(a.k.a. Mike Dooley)
What are you afraid to ask for?
What keeps you from being able to surrender?
Do you believe miracles can happen? Why or why not?
Action plan: choose one thing to ask for this week and ASK!
"It's not what you do once in awhile;
it's what you do day in and day out that makes the difference."
Where do you find your words or actions being most inconsistent?
What are you trying to protect yourself from?
What story are you trying to maintain?
What can you do to shift that?
Hurry to be Still
In an age of speed, I began to think nothing could be more exhilarating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant motion, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
What is one thing you can do TODAY to slow down?
What would it take to put your phone down and make eye contact with them when they speak to you?
What would it take for you to step outside and look around you, taking in all of nature, instead of rushing with your head down?
What would it take to give yourself permission to sit and be still for just 5 minutes?
Got an Itch?
"An itch might arise, but you don't say, 'Oh, I am an itch.'
But if sadness arises, then you say, 'Oh, I am sad, I am depressed.'
There's so much self-identification with it.
Know it has simply arisen from conditions,
take care of it as appropriate,
and let it be."
~Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
How often do you attach to an emotion that comes up?
How does that serve you?
What do you gain from that self-identification?
Notice the ease to attach instead of allowing an emotion to pass.
What's Your Focus?
The self that aspires to be perfect while loving itself as imperfect
moves from a place of love.
The self that strives to be perfect because it hates itself as imperfect
moves from a voice of fear.
~Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
For clarification, my intention is not to focus on the concept of "perfection" in regards to being perfect. Being perfect reflects alignment with your highest good, your soul, your inner light and wisdom. With that in mind...
Do you find yourself noticing things about yourself from a place of understanding or a place of judgment?
Why are you resistant to seeing yourself as a "work in progress" instead of a complete masterpiece?
What would it take for you to see that you as a work in progress truly is a masterpiece?
"You teach people how to treat you by
what you allow,
what you stop,
and what you reinforce."
How often do you say "yes" when you really want to say "no"?
What is the motive behind that? Guilt? Acceptance? Should? Something else?
What would it take to honor yourself enough to say "no" without having to justify your answer?
What needs to shift in order for you to stop dismissing your needs and allowing others to take advantage of you?
Rainbows of the Soul
The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears.
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to cry?
What keeps you from allowing yourself the cleansing release of tears?
Trust in tears being the body's reset button. Allow the emotion to move through you. Know that living deeply, authentically and in the moment leads to a more intimate connection with your emotions. Embrace the connection. Live deeply. Cherish the rainbows.
There is greatness within you.
You have gifts and abilities that are unique to you.
Until you embrace and accept all that you are
and all that you have been given in this life,
you are going to stay spinning the same wheels.
~Your Inner Pilot Light (a.k.a. Lissa Rankin)
What are you hiding from?
Why do you resist your gifts?
What would it take to give yourself permission to experience your greatness?
They were man’s first,
immeasurable feat of magic.
Words are living things.
For they are filled with the breath of life.
Do your words build or destruct?
Do your words celebrate or ruin?
Do your words teach or judge?
Do your words bless or blaspheme?
Take the time to think before you speak so your words can inspire, create magic and promise possibility.
Acting "As If"
I will try acting "as if", a positive form of pretending. This is a good way to get past part of a problem or overcome fears and doubts. I will act as if the situation is already resolved and get on with my life.
What are you hanging onto that is keeping you stuck?
How can you view it differently?
How would you like to see the situation resolved?
Am I Spiritual?
"Spirituality is whatever it takes to keep your heart space open. That is daily, constant work because your ego and the events of life want to close it down. The voices in the dominant culture tell you to judge, dismiss, hate, and fear.
You have to work to live in love, to develop a generosity of spirit, a readiness to smile, a willingness to serve instead of to take. Each morning you take your inner temperature, observing if your energy is loving and flowing outward or negative and sucking in."
~Fr. Richard Rohr
What is your 'inner temperature'?
What would it take for your to develop and maintain a generosity of spirit?
What aspects of yourself do you judge, keeping you in a negative place?
If you touch the sacred quality of winter inside yourself-that quality of everything returning to its most essential form-you find yourself falling off the end of the mind and into openness.
Breathe in deep. Hold it. Let it out. Loosen your shoulders. Smile. Close your eyes. You'll be surprised at how many voices you'll hear, whispering sweet encouragement into your ear.
~The Universe (a.k.a. Mike Dooley)
When was the last time you slowed down enough to 'hibernate' with yourself?
What keeps you from doing it?
What do you fear you might hear?
What encouragement are you seeking but not allowing yourself to experience?
Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you;
they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.
~Bernice Johnson Reagon
When was the last time you experienced an overwhelming challenge? Describe it.
How did you respond to it?
What impact did your response have on handling or facing the challenge?
How can you use this awareness in future situations?
Did you know that “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer?
Saying “yes” out of a misguided sense of obligation can feel icky and sticky, like wading through murky dark swamp waters.
Saying “yes” from a place of self-sacrifice can feel powerless and forced, ultimately making you feel small and unworthy.
Saying “yes” from a place of pure giving light and love and good intentions is the only place the “yes” should be coming from.
It’s okay to stand up for yourself and your needs.
~Your Inner Pilot Light (a.k.a. Lissa Rankin)
When was the last time you said "yes" when you really wanted to say "no"?
Why did you choose to ignore your inner sense?
What would it take for you to trust 'dialing in' and listening to what truly resonates with you?
Difficulty and Pain
Things fall apart for a reason.
Things collapse for a reason.
Things go up in flames for a reason.
They have to be destroyed.
They have to be obliterated.
They have to shatter completely.
And only then,
Can we make way for the really beautiful things.
Recall a time when you were experiencing pain or difficulty and reflect on the following questions.
What was the ultimate cause of the situation?
Was it something (or someone) you were truly in alignment with?
What was the outcome of the situation?
How did the experience benefit you or unfold in a way that was healthier for you?
I'd had enough, I'd given up, I was broken.
Left to rust, hollowed out, life seemed hopeless.
Here you are, you see my scars, but still you're dryin' these eyes
Cause you are my reason why.
And what would you say if I told you my secrets,
If I sang you my song?
Would you walk away, or would you hold on?
Reflect on the lyrics of this song and spend some time with the following questions.
Have you ever felt broken or hollowed out?
Who or what is your reason why?
Who are you willing to share your secrets with?
Be willing to think about this from different angles: self, spirit, interpersonal, or even noticing if there is a material aspect to it. Be honest with yourself and notice how you could choose differently to focus on a healthier, more intimate relationship with greater depth and vulnerability.
I'm gonna love myself more than anyone else,
Believe in me, even if someone can't see
The stronger woman in me.
I'm going to be my own best friend.
Stick with me till the end.
Won't lose myself again, never, no,
'Cause there's a stronger woman,
A stronger woman in me.~Jewel
Although the lyrics refer to a stronger woman, this is by no means exclusive. Here are some thoughts to ponder surrounding these lyrics:
When was the last time you allowed someone else's reaction to you color your view of yourself?
What would it take to trust in your personal strength over the voice of self-judgment?
What little steps can you take to be sure you are always listening to your heart and not your head?
This is a beautiful exercise in connecting within ourselves. One of the most fascinating aspects of this exercise is the fact that it carries the potential to be different every single time it is done. You will be creating your own personal cinquain. You'll need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil to complete the activity. Look at the picture and follow the steps below.
Line 1: Write down a noun.
Line 2: Write two adjectives describing line 1.
Line 3: Write three action words (ending in "ing") describing line 1.
Line 4: Write a four word phrase or sentence that either sums up lines 1-3 or further describes line 1.
Line 5: Write one metaphor or synonym for line 1.
Read your cinquain, connecting to where you are in this moment.
The Gift of Self
Of course it's true that everyone's born with a gift; one that allows them to fill a special place in the Universe that absolutely no one else can fill. A blessing that makes all other blessings pale in comparison. A gift of incalculable value to the entire world when it's uncovered, explored, and embraced.
~The Universe (a.k.a. Mike Dooley)
What is your special gift?
How do you use it on a daily basis?
How can you embrace it more fully?
How can you see past your "weeds" and embrace your beauty?
“Stop improving yourself and start living.” -Roberta Jean Bryant
Endless self-fixing is a detour from the spiritual path. We can become so obsessed with personal growth that we lose sight of the truth that everything we need is within us and we are good enough just as we are. The path to enlightenment is not one of self-improvement, but self-discovery. When we recognize that we are whole, the game shifts from getting something from outside of us, to releasing the splendor within us. Reflect the highest truth simply by living what you know and being what you are. -Alan Cohen
In what ways are you hiding behind self-fixing?
What keeps you from self-discovery?
How can you live what you know?
Does Anybody Really Know All of Me?
I have been 'nudged' to follow the energy of this initial series and initiate a weekly, online opportunity for more individuals to step into this intimate exploration of personal growth. It's not always easy, but nothing worthwhile usually is. A brief introductory nugget of information will be shared, followed by some reflection/journaling questions. It is encouraged to find a quiet space without distractions in order to delve more fully into each segment. This opportunity is intended to gently bring awareness to ways in which one consciously~or unconsciously~restricts themselves from living an empowered life. The most important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself. Growth work requires a vulnerable level of honesty and acceptance. One is most inspired to step into that when gentleness and compassion are at the forefront.
Keep in mind that receiving energy work, especially while doing focused growth work, aids in the shift and release necessary to move beyond whatever is holding you back. Flexible day and evening hours are available through Lux Eterna Healing Tuesday through Friday.
Lesson 1: Paying Attention to Thoughts
We all have a fairly steady stream of thoughts that run through our heads on a constant basis. The aspect that begs attention is how much of it is negative...towards ourselves. I often refer to this as monkey chatter~the incessant chattering away of nonsense that doesn't serve us. It is often the foundation of grandiose story writing that, again, doesn't serve us well. One of the first steps to ending the chatter is to notice it: how often it happens, what story it is creating, how we choose to nurture and feed it, how it distracts us, how much we choose to believe…
What was the last thought that went through your mind?
Was it positive or negative?
Was it towards yourself or someone else?
Was it true or created as a defense?
What are you protecting yourself from?
What fear lies behind your thought?
I invite you to visit these questions on a daily basis for a week and notice if any patterns emerge. The most important step in change is the awareness of what needs to be changed.
Lesson 2: Changing the Thoughts
Being aware of the nature of our thoughts is the first step in changing it. There are always at least two choices in every situation and our thoughts are no different. We can choose to believe the negative ones and continue to spin stories around them OR we can tell ourselves positive thoughts and use that energy to create a day that is filled with greater peace.
What is one thing you have trouble believing about yourself?
Where does that come from? Is it true?
Think of one positive trait about yourself that you easily offer to other people. When was the last time you offered that same aspect to yourself? Why are others more deserving of your gifts than yourself?
Lesson 3: Love vs. Fear
Every word, thought or action either comes from a place of love or a place of fear. Fear includes everything that is not love: judgment, blame, insecurity, close-mindedness, etc. Now that there is a heightened awareness of the internal thoughts, a conscious effort to reframe things from a place of love can take place. This means taking the rampant judgment thoughts and changing them into something you would actually say out loud to an innocent child.
What is the most recent judgment thought you had about yourself? How can you reframe that to come from a place of love?
What makes it so difficult to offer loving thoughts to yourself?
Why do you choose to speak so harshly or criticize yourself when you would not do that to a child?
Lesson 4: How Thoughts Influence Actions
When our mental habit towards our own self is judgmental, it is reflected through our actions. If there is a continual stream of “not good-enough” thoughts, every comment or physical reaction from another person is experienced through that lens. Even a compliment from another could be twisted into a space of judgment.
Think back to a recent experience where someone said something to you and your internal dialogue immediately went to a defensive space. What was said to you? What are all of the messages YOU took away from that exchange? What do you really think was the intended message? Was your perception of the message and the potential meaning of the message the same or different? Reflect on this.
Invite yourself to soften your perception of yourself.
Realize that nobody judges you with the same level of intensity that you judge yourself.
Repeat the above exercise and notice if there is an emerging theme where you feel most insecure and judged. What can you do to change that belief?
Lesson 5: How Thoughts Influence Actions-Part 2
As a continuation from the last lesson, not only does self-judgment color the way we interpret words and actions from others, it also affects our own interaction with others. There’s an edginess and curtness (which I often refer to as ‘snarky’) that laces the words and actions that come from us to others. This creates a snowball effect, or fast downward spiral, internally. A snarky, fear-based comment leaves our mouth, which is then responded to negatively by the receiver, which is then received very judgmentally by us. It is a terrible cycle to get caught up in, yet without awareness of what we are sending out, it is a cycle that will continue. Keep in mind that what you send out is mirrored back to you.
Think back to a time when you were feeling less than cordial and had an interaction with someone else (spouse, friend, co-worker, grocery store clerk, etc). How was your interaction with that person? Were you annoyed? Snarky and sarcastic? Able to find some false nicety to share?
What was the result of that exchange?
How were your words reacted to?
Did you feel you were ‘in the right’ to respond that way?
Did it have a lingering effect on you?
What might you have done differently?
Lesson 6: Awareness of Judgmental Thoughts
We all have an immediate internal response to an external influence, be it a person, event, nature, etc. It is important to notice how these responses, primarily the negative ones, reflect an opportunity for healing. Typically, the person who aggravates/frustrates/annoys us is reflecting something within our own selves that we don’t like. For example, if we criticize someone for being a “control freak”, there is most likely a similar streak within us that could be addressed. Keep in mind that the response may be triggered by the trait being dominant OR dormant. For example, someone else’s confidence may eat at you because it is not a strong trait within you and there is a level of jealously at play.
Reflect on a recent exchange with someone that triggered an internal response of negative judgment. What annoyed you about that person?
How is that trait present in you?
What can you do to shift or change that trait within you?
Lesson 7: Student AND Teacher
In any given situation, we are both a student and a teacher. Each day is really a classroom of lessons waiting to be learned. It is our own choice to determine how attentive of a student we choose to be. We model behavior and responses with every interaction we have with another, just as they do for us. The majority of our lessons come at a more subconscious level simply because we are not holding space for the awareness. It is not uncommon to walk away from a situation and have some “a-ha” moment hours later...something that resonated with us that triggered a thought or other response. It is very easy as the ‘student’ to fill in the blanks that may or may not have been intended. This is an important lesson as the ‘teacher’.
Reflect on a recent exchange with another person.
How were you fulfilling the role of teacher? Were you listening attentively? Were you compassionate in your response? Were you fully engaging in what was being said?
How were you fulfilling the role of student? What did you learn from that exchange? What messages did you receive from body language? What did you ‘assume’ based on the exchange?
Lesson 8: Paying Attention to the Body
Our bodies carry a wealth of information. Sadly, many people choose to ignore their body and all of the messages it is trying to share. Only once the messages get really strong (as in discomfort, pain, disease, etc.) do most of us choose to pay attention. One of the easiest ways to listen to the messages of the body is to simply pay attention. In any given moment, notice what you feel on the inside instead of immediately passing blame onto some external event or person.
Randomly throughout the day, stop and notice what you feel in your body.
Are your shoulders tight?
Are your thighs clenched?
Are your glutes tight?
Is your jaw clenched?
Are your feet flat on the ground?
Is your breath shallow or deep?
Notice what is being held in your body and take a deep breath to release it. Be gentle and free of judgment in your observations. Do this throughout the course of the week and see what you notice.
Lesson 9: What is your Mouth Saying?
To expand the awareness of what the body is saying, we’ll explore the major holding areas one at a time. Many people experience a tight jaw or clenching the teeth. This is most directly related to the 5th chakra at the throat, which is a will center and the place of speaking truth. Sometimes the manifestation of biting your tongue or shoving down words results in a hoarse voice, scratchy throat or even a persistent need to clear the throat. Often times the jaw tension represents stifled anger whereas the throat reactions are a combination of stifled creativity and speaking truth, many times with a hint of holding back angry words. It is necessary to remember that speaking your truth always comes from a place of compassion and non-judgment. It never results in angry words being used to hurt another.
Take a moment and check in with your jaw. Shift it side to side and notice any difficulty in doing so or if there is tenderness. Is there space between your top and bottom teeth in your mouth?
Now clench your teeth and lock your jaw. How would you describe that feeling? What emotion would you relate that to (sad, mad, glad, hurt, ashamed, afraid)?
When was the last time you noticed that you locked your jaw and/or clenched your teeth? Who were you with? What was taking place? What were you holding back?
Lesson 10: The Strength of the Shoulders
The shoulders are one of the most consistent, common areas of tension. We carry the weight of the world and the burdens of life on our shoulders. There is so much holding at the shoulders that it can cause numbness in the fingers and stabbing pain down the back, not to mention a very stiff neck. It is almost as though there is a paralysis of motion because one wrong move may have catastrophic results to the rest of the world (in our minds!). Holding tension in the shoulders is also an energetic way of protecting the heart…ideally keeping us from getting hurt. It is also a way to try and ‘hide’ or shrink back into our shell. Allow yourself to release the “burden” of life and embrace the lessons that often challenge you to grow.
Take a moment and check in with your shoulders. Shrug them up and down. Roll them forward and backward. Gently stretch your head forward and back, left and right. Simply notice what you feel and gently breathe through the tension.
Think of the most recent time you consciously acknowledged the tension in your shoulders. Where were you? What were you doing? How much extra pressure were you putting on yourself? Were you claiming ownership for something beyond your responsibility?
Can you find joy in your work routine? How would you follow through with that?
Reflect on a time when you felt intimidated and wanted to hide. What was being asked of you? Was your response due to low self-esteem? If so, is there an old belief that can be released? How have you been fostering that old story and keeping it alive, holding you back from your full gift?
Lesson 11: More than Holding Hands
Whether you are aware of it or not, we can even hold tension in our elbows and hands. It’s one way for fear of letting go to manifest. When the elbows or hands are holding tension, there is a lack of fluidity and responsiveness. Sometimes, a gripping of the hands, whether conscious or not, is a sign of anger or fear of letting go. Regardless of the form it takes, tension in the lower arms reflects a fear of surrendering to the present moment.
Take a moment and check in with your arms. Are your elbows locked? Are your hands and fingers free of tension?
Shake your arms and hands freely for one minute. What did you notice (aside of it feeling like a really long period of time)?
Pay attention to your hands and elbows while you are at work. What do you notice? Are you trying to ‘force’ things to get done?
Invite yourself to check in regularly throughout the day to your hands and elbows. Shake them vigorously for 15 seconds to free up all of the stuck energy and notice the immediate lightness and responsiveness.
Lesson 12: Glutes-More than a Cushion
Squeezing your glutes may not be as beneficial as you might think…or hope…it would be. The glutes are another area of holding that reflect control. The tighter you squeeze, the more you are trying to control. Sometimes the control is as basic as trying to control how your glutes look in your clothes while you’re standing. And for a giggle, what is the most common response when you are in public and need to pass gas? You squeeze your glutes to control the release! When the glutes are tight, it restricts all sorts of mobility and responsivity to a situation, all the way to taking in a full deep breath. You can learn a lot from paying attention to your tush!
Stand up with your feet hip-width apart and your weight balanced on both of your feet. Is your tush tucked and tight or free to exist?
Wiggle your hips and your bottom to loosen things up a bit. Are you able to maintain the looseness or is your first inclination to tighten back up?
How different does it feel to allow your body to simply ‘be’ instead of trying to hold it in place?
As you go through your day, notice what your habit is with your glutes. Do you find yourself tensing your muscles around the same people? The same situation? What are you trying to control in these moments?
Lesson 13: Taming the Thighs
The thighs are the powerhouse of the legs. They are also another highly criticized body part (most commonly by women). The thighs also have a dense amount of fascia, which holds a lot of emotions. To top it off, they are also easy to grip and hold tension. The thighs are associated with the root (1st or base) chakra, connected to survival and the ‘tribes’ we belong to. When we clench our thighs, there is some sense of our ‘survival’ that is being challenged. Sometimes the sense of survival is connected to ‘living through’ an uncomfortable situation.
Take a moment right now and notice if you are clenching your thighs. If so, shake them out and notice what other parts of your body get tight when your thighs are clenched.
Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your thighs? If so, recall the situation and what you were feeling? Were you nervous? Scared? Stressed? Overwhelmed?
As you go through your day, notice your thighs. Any time you feel tension, release them as you are able and breathe, imagining the breath going all the way down through your toes.
Lesson 14: Calming the Calves & Flexing the Feet
Tension in the calves is closely linked to the status of the feet. If the feet are comfortably flat on the floor, chances are good that the calves are free of tension. All it takes is holding one heel off the ground to result in tension in the calves. It’s very easy to go through the course of the day and not pay attention to whether or not we feel our feet. It’s a definite sign that we’re spending more time in our heads than in our bodies. Our feet connect us to the earth, giving a sense of grounding or being present. It is easier to maintain a sense of calm and stability when both feet are on the ground. The other aspect to pay attention to regarding the feet is whether or not you are balanced, which will be covered in the next lesson.
Take a moment and notice your feet. Are they flat on the ground or are they elevated?
If they are elevated (heel off the ground), how does your body feel?
Intentionally put your feet flat on the ground and take a deep breath. How does your body feel now?
Which state of presence felt more peaceful?
What thoughts or beliefs keep you ‘at the ready’, preventing you from keeping your feet flat?
Lesson 15: Fact Finding with the Feet
Our feet hold a world of information, containing reflexology points for the entire body and its organs. We can learn plenty about ourselves through our feet…without being trained in reflexology. Our understanding of balance and presence, two of the most basic ideas of how we carry ourselves, can be learned from our feet. By paying attention to how we stand in various situations, we can learn a lot about our disposition or tendency in any given moment.
Stand up and take notice of your feet. Are you standing with your weight evenly distributed on both feet?
If not, which foot is holding more weight?
If your right foot is holding more weight, you are resting mostly in the masculine “push” energy; pushing yourself to do and forge ahead.
If your left foot is holding more weight, you are resting more in the feminine “nurture/care giver” energy.
Now that your weight is more balanced on both feet, notice if your weight rests more in the front of your foot, over the arch, or more towards the back.
If your tendency is to be learning more forward, you are in a state of anticipation of going. Although this may seem advantageous to be at the ready, it also means that you are not fully present to be in the moment.
If you are balanced over your arches, that is the ideal place. You are mindful and present.
If your tendency is to have the weight in the heels of your feet, you are more in a place of resistance and being stuck.
Use these little nuggets of information to bring a different awareness of how you are standing…in line at the grocery store, at work, at a religious service, etc. It is an easy way to notice the energy you carry in any given moment.
Lesson 16: Attachment to Expectations/Outcomes
Expect the unexpected. It’s difficult to do when you’re busy expecting the outcome you want. The attachment to expectations or to a certain outcome is a slippery slope of disappointment. It holds the idea that everybody is supposed to do things ‘your’ way and keeps you out of the present moment. It limits the ability for people to respond to a situation using their own individual strengths and resources. It also sends an energy of judgment…of others not being as good as you…or incapable of functioning as highly as you. Expectations also tend to be fear-based and full of a desire to control.
Think of the most recent time you were disappointed.
Who failed to meet your expectation?
What did they do “wrong”?
What were you hoping the outcome to be?
What were you trying to control?
How did the situation resolve?
Notice how often or easy it is to cling to an expectation or a certain outcome. Invite yourself to allow the situation to unfold and see how that feels different in your body.
Lesson 17: Being Good Enough
Part of our attachment to outcomes is related to our own concept of being good enough. We wait with baited breath for a response to something to validate our “enough-ness”. There is also a tendency to put on a mask to be who we believe others need/want us to be. We restrict our true expression for fear of rejection. We try to be normal…but what is ‘normal’? We drain ourselves by working so hard to be something or someone we’re not.
Describe the most recent time you felt you had to be someone you’re not.
What was the situation? Who were you with?
What belief do you hold about yourself that would make you feel you have to hide who you really are?
What would it take for you to allow your enough-ness to seep into your heart?
Are you ready and willing to do that?
Lesson 18: Say What You Mean
Say what you mean and mean what you say. It is so easy to mindlessly let words escape our mouth and then wonder why someone else was offended or responded the way they did. Sometimes, as sad as this may seem, we mindfully choose words to hurt someone else because we are hurting, afraid, sad, feeling challenged, embarrassed or whatever other emotion we don’t want to experience. It’s a tough pill to swallow when the awareness circles around to our willingness to make someone else feel ‘bad’ in order to avoid feeling our own emotions.
When was the last time you intentionally spoke words to hurt another person?
What did you say? To whom was it said?
What feeling were you trying to avoid? Was it successful?
When was the last time you gossiped about someone? Was it your information to share? What was your intention?
What motivated your choice?
How did you feel afterwards?
Are your words more often in alignment with love or with fear?
Lesson 19: Feeling is Healing
Feeling is healing. This one sentence sums up the core of healing. You cannot heal what you won’t allow yourself to feel. If you keep yourself from feeling pain, you are also keeping yourself from feeling joy. In this life, pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. We are the ones who choose how long we suffer. Nobody else. There are essentially six feeling words to choose from: sad, mad, glad, hurt, ashamed, afraid. It’s not about good/bad/ok/fine. Brené Brown states it nicely in her book Rising Strong: “For most people, instead of feeling hurt, they are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed.”
Take a moment to check in right now. How are you feeling? (Sad, mad, glad, hurt, ashamed, afraid)
Where do you feel it?
Think back to a recent time of feeling “off”. Describe what that felt like. What feeling word do you sense would describe it?
When you are able to identify how you’re feeling, be gentle with yourself and simply note, “How interesting.” Allow the reason why to unfold for you as you are ready. Forcing the issue of “why do I feel this way” tends to get you back in your head instead of listening to your body.
Lesson 20: The Longing
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. ~Oriah
Take a moment and jot down one or two word answers to what you are passionate about.
Look at the list. How many of those items listed are currently part of your life?
If they are, are you content with the amount of time spent savoring those items?
If not, what is keeping you from doing them more often?
If you are not actively doing the things you are passionate about, what is holding you back?
Can you change it? Will you change it?
Lesson 21: The Sorrow
“I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow; if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.” ~Oriah from The Invitation
Take a moment and think of a time when you experienced deep sorrow.
How did you handle it?
Does it still trigger a strong response within you? If so, how can you help ease that sorrow?
What is your comfort level of sitting with sorrow? Is it different if you are being present for someone else? If so, how is it different?
What would it look like for you to offer yourself compassion to be with your own sorrow in order to decrease the pain?
Lesson 22: The Power of Words
“Every time we open our mouths, we reveal something about ourselves.”
“What you say about others says more about YOU than them.”
Both of these quotes are from Rebecca Weisler, as spoken to her children. These are very powerful and resonate deeply for words can shatter or build.