Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What would you do if you could not fail?

Blog: What Could You Do It You Couldn’t Fail? Have you heard the story of the trial attorney who never lost a case? Early in his career, he was told to remember his feet. Thinking of his feet proved to be a way for him to always be centered. As a result, when he went to court he was always ready because he was always centered. He never lost his cool or reacted. In other words, he was consistently prepared for the surprises that regularly popped up during trials. This is important because when we get angry or intense we go in to, or function from, the reptilian brain (emotional brain) and the logic closes down. Alternatively, when we stay centered and focused, we are open to inspiration, ideas, and solutions. There are various ways to stay centered. For instance, people trained in the Marshal Arts learn to move and act from their center (or core). As they practice self-defense techniques, they develop balance, strength, and movement. But the most important thing they learn is how to stay centered. The boxer, Evander Holyfield learned this lesson when he was young. As a kid he fought another boy and lost. He went home and told his mother. She said, “Go out there and fight him again.” He went out and battled the kid again and lost again. When he arrived home a second time, his mother said, “Go out there and fight him again.” Holyfield fought the kid four times. The fourth time he won. By that time, Holyfield had learned to remain cool and observe his opponent, discerning his weaknesses. Ultimately he used his developed observation skills to recognize the weaknesses in all his opponents. Holyfield developed the ability to use these to his advantage. In that way he transformed what was initially a fear reaction into a studied response. The result: he became a winner and champion. Actor, Jim Carey poses another example of learning to stay centered. At age 14 he informed his dad that he wanted to be a professional comedian. Thus his father took him to a comedy club and Carey was laughed off the floor. Carey took on the criticism as a challenge. In other words, he used it to practice, practice, practice, while staying centered. The rest is history. His comedic movies are major box office hits; he is in demand and brings in lots of money. The rest is history. Fear keeps you in the reptilian mode (reactive). It is hard to succeed when you are reacting. If you think about the things that don’t work for you, you might discover the reason…. too much internal criticism, disempowering beliefs, and no centering. Alternatively, notice what works well for you and you might recognize that while doing those particular things you stay focused, relaxed, and have the courage to deal with whatever is necessary, even if it temporarily seems overwhelming In other words, you are non-reactive and functioning with full capacity. The bottom line is: What could you accomplish if you couldn’t fail? Get centered. You know, remember your feet and go for it!

Step Back to become the Observer

It has been said that we have two voices within us. The first one is the voice of truth. It comes to you subtly and offers suggestions. “Join that club.” “Go the new way to work today.” “Call that customer now.” “It is time to move to a new house or job.” “Study anthropology or journalism or whatever.” “Create your own business.” When you follow the voice of truth your life is ever changing and you are continually growing. This inner voice will lead you down a path and, in time, you will discover, with delight, the answers to your desires plus the personal growth you require to appreciate this culmination. The second voice is the voice of doubt and it will tell you things like, “Don’t join the club; you’re not good enough to do that.” “Stay on the same tried and true path. Change is scary.” “Don’t call the customer; put it off. He won’t buy anything anyway.” “Stay in the job. It is a sure thing.” “Stay in the house; moving to a new neighborhood is untenable.” Whichever voice we listen to eventually gets louder. Sometimes we can no longer hear the other one. You can tell which voice you are listening to by noticing the quality of your life. Are you living a life of joy, freedom, expression? Or, does your life reflect fear, restriction, resignation, and the eternal quest for safety? Do you venture into discover and try new things or do you avoid change? One way evokes joy and expansion and the other fear and restriction. One way to discover which voice you are listening to is to step back and become the observer. As you watch your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you begin to recognize which voice motivates you. Then, without recrimination or guilt you can make adjustments. Another way to say this is that we are motivated by two things: fear and desire. Desire comes from the voice of truth and fear emanates from the second voice, the voice of ego. When people set out to do things, they proceed with one or the other voice urging them on. Example: I will stop and get my car gassed up because I enjoy the freedom to be able to travel wherever I want and a full gas tank affords me that. Or, I will stop and fill my gas tank because I am afraid of running out of gas. The first statement reflects joy and expansion and the second fear. The voice of fear also shows itself in resistance. We can resist moving forward. The idea is that we want to keep the status quo and stay where we are because we are comfortable right here. The problem with that is that the Universe does not stay put. There is always movement and change. In fact, change is the only constant in life. Thus when you resist life, you are not going with the flow, you are resisting it. Thus the suggestion is to become the “watcher” or observer of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and ask yourself “am I moving forward or resisting life?” Then decide for yourself which is the best approach for you. .

Discover Serenity

In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle tells an ancient Sufi story about a king who occupied a Middle Eastern land. He was constantly vacillating between happiness and depression and despondency. He felt torn and stuck as the smallest thing would provoke some sort of intense reaction or upset. When he decided he couldn’t deal with his problem any longer, he sent for a wise man. When the wise man arrives, the king told him, “I want to be like you. What can you give me that will help me have balance, serenity and wisdom? I am willing to pay whatever price you require.” (This kind of sounds like a lot of people I know. “Give me the magic pill and I will pay anything. Just don’t ask me to do the work.” Do you relate to this guy?) The wise man replied that the price would be steep, quite possibly greater than your entire kingdom. The king accepted the terms. “Yes, I want it.” (So far, so good.) The wise man went away to return a month later. At that time, he handed the king a beautiful jade box which held a simple gold ring. On the ring there was an engraving which read,”This too will pass.” (Now we get to the hard part.) The king was irate. “What does this mean?” The wise man offered, “Always wear this ring and no matter what happens, before you name it good or bad, touch this ring and read the inscription. That is how you will remain balanced and serene.” (In other words, he would have to give up judgment and drama and discipline his mind – a high price, indeed.) So you can see that the price one must pay to remain balanced, wise and serene is to be willing to let go and remember that in this transience world, “this too will pass.” Many are not willing to pay this price of remembering this truth, opting instead to react to every little thing with drama, emotion, and intensity. Of course, the idea behind the edit, “This too will pass,” is to become non-reactive and non-resistant to events. Things do happen and we can choose to react or not. We can experience goodness and expansiveness of life when we stay in the moment without resistance, simply accepting what is. Thus I hand you an imaginary ring on which is inscribed, “This too will pass.” It is yours. Wear it in your heart because once you accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, your attachment to things minimizes. Instead of identifying with conditions and things, you let go and learn to flow with the present moment. I am describing the principle of non-attachment. It allows you to enjoy the pleasures of the material world while they last and without anxiety about the future. Learning to be non-attached things, people and events helps you live a life of freedom and enlightenment. It opens a new dimension in your life. It is like having inner space. When you release control, choosing not to hold on to things as you want them to be, you are allowing movement and fluidity in your life. With freedom comes the ability to connect with the stillness within – the deep “peace that passeth understanding.” You move out of your “chattering,” thinking mind to a deeper inner space of peace. You can honor the things of the world without giving them the importance they don’t really possess. When you connect with your Inner Self and the peace that resides there, you can enjoy all things -- people, experiences, material things, without getting lost in them. (They no longer own you.) Viewing the world from the point of view of the impermanence of form can make it a frightening place. That is when we despair over the loss of this or that. We clutter our minds with worry, anxiety, and past and future obsession. This is mental clutter that blocks out our Inner sense of peace (just like the king). Mental clutter consists of obsession over objects, things to do, things to think about, control, worry and anxiety. It is the clutter of continuous thoughts, one after the other. To move beyond this chaos, spend some time watching the night sky, observe a baby sleeping, listen to expansive music or pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing. These things take attention away from thinking and help you develop quietness. When you are reacting and upset about an event, the real cause is NOT the event or person but a loss of perspective about what is happening. Spending time with yourself in the stillness can provide the perspective you need.

Symbols are the Way the Universe Speaks to Us

Dream interpretation is only one way to work with symbols. In actuality there are symbols present everyday and everywhere. A couple told me that they were looking to buy a piece of ground in anticipation of building a new home. As they walked the property, a hawk flew overhead and dropped a feather at their feet. This was a sign to them and they knew that this was to be their land and they consequently purchased it. (In the book Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews, the Hawk symbolizes vision and guardianship. Through its flight it communicates with humans and the Great Spirit {Universal Intelligence} and it awakens and inspires us to our creative life purpose.) When the hawk appeared to the couple, they saw it as a sign of transformation. They were standing on open land with lots of trees and water. Living at that locale would certainly offer communion with nature and personal transformation. Someone else had two accidents within a week while driving to work. He began to look at his attitude about his job and realized he did not want to be there. He did not enjoy what he was doing; it was not a true expression of who he was. Thus he proceeded to look for other employment, something that reflected his values. With the intention of being emotionally and spiritually aligned with his work, he found a job that suited who he was. Since then there has been clear sailing on his drive to work. Another client told me about dozens of Praying Mathis that lived in her yard. According to American Indian lore, these insects symbolize the “power of stillness.” Thus, she felt reinforced in her meditation practice – “Be still and know that I am God.” Shortly after this sign appeared, she was driving north to her family homestead and there were dozens of hawks flying overhead. Since hawks represent “visionary power and guardianship,” she realized that she was being watched over and guided. Her job was to keep that space of stillness within so that the guidance could come through her. There is power in symbols and life is filled with them. There are symbols everywhere. Buckminster Fuller, designer of the Geodesic Dome, said, “The Universe is talking to us all the time. We must learn to listen.” Paying attention to our lives and recognizing that the Universe speaks through everything that happens, we are encouraged to be receptive to the symbols that are present to guide and help us. What symbols have shown up in your life?

Giving and Receiving Graciously

We are in the throes of the holiday season and facing the prospect of giving and receiving gifts. There are many learned people who have much to say about both. Here are a few quotes: “Those who give cheerfully give twice – once to others once to themselves.” Anonymous
“One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” Proverbs 11:24,
“To give is to receive, but only if one does not give in order to receive.” Wade Hudson
Years ago I learned this lesson. When you give a gift, offer it with love and without concern for how it is received. In other words, you have control over the giving but not the receiving. Give with an open heart and generosity of spirit.
The receiver is responsible for how he accepts the gift. Hopefully, he will receive graciously. This is true whether the gift is an object or a compliment. As author, Stuart Wilde says, if someone gives you a gift, perhaps a hideous tie, receive it. Later you can decide what to do with it. By putting yourself in a receiving state of mind you are instructing the Universe that you are ready and willing to receive. Whether it is a penny lying on the sidewalk, or a beautiful diamond, receive all gifts with gratitude. “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Aesop
This brings to mind a story published in Guideposts Magazine about an 11 year old girl who asked to receive a stocking as tall as she was for Christmas. Her mom, told family and friends to buy small presents for “Mary Ann.” She wanted things that would fit into a Christmas stocking. Each item was to be wrapped individually.
On Christmas Eve, the designated time for opening gifts, Mary Ann’s father and brother went to the back room where the Christmas stockings were hung. There they found a huge red plush stocking with white plush trim across the top. They made a big show of lifting and carrying this enormous stocking (five feet tall by two feet wide) and delivering it to Mary Ann. It was stuffed with presents -- possibly 100 items, each wrapped to perfection. The most impressive part was Mary Ann’s expression as she opened each gift. “Oh, wow, this is exactly what I wanted.” Or, “This is my favorite thing in the world.” Each candy bar, hair barrette, comb, pair of socks, envelope of bubble bath and package of chewing gum was received with the same exuberance. As she reached the bottom of the stocking, she found her “big present” which was a birthstone ring. She received it with appreciation and the same enthusiasm as the other gifts. Yet, she was no more excited by it than all the other small gifts. She accepted each with equanimity. She felt she had received an incredible bounty. Remembering the excitement of this 11 year old on that Christmas Eve has become a family heirloom and retelling the story a holiday tradition.
It is true, we may not all receive diamond rings and new cars, but we do all receive bountiful gifts each and every day – a smile, a compliment, someone holding the door, a pat on the back, a beautiful sunset. As you graciously accept them, you are living the spirit of Christmas.
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Jean Walters is a St. Louis based Personal Growth Consultant specializing in personal empowerment. You can reach her at 314 991 8439 or jean@spiritualtransformation.com

Light Bulb or What you Don't Know Might be Good!

It has been said that ignorance is bliss. This might refer to the openness people experience when they are unaware that they are not supposed to be able to do what they plan on doing. Here is an example of what I mean. In the early 1900s Thomas Edison was credited with inventing the light bulb but he was not the one who brought it to the marketplace and the world. He simply developed the original light bulb, which didn’t last long, or give much light and was unseemly expensive. It was actually William David Coolidge who followed Edison’s inventiveness with seven years research of his own. Coolidge perfected the filament, making it usable for the public. He succeeded where Edison didn’t because he used tungsten for the filament. His application of tungsten went against scientific opinion of that time, which declared tungsten to be insufficiently malleable, thereby unusable. Coolidge considered it an advantage that he was not privy to this knowledge up front, for it would have made his task impossible. Coolidge’s great equalizer was that he believed he could make the light bulb practical for every day use and he did. Movie Star-Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it – as long as you really believe 100 percent.” Robert Collins accepted this idea as well. He said, “There is nothing on earth you cannot have – once you have mentally accepted the fact that you can have it.” What is your desire? Are you willing to believe in its attainment 100 percent? If not, what can you do to elevate your belief and move you in the right direction? You can study more, do research, try harder, gain experiment, build skills, hang-out with people who do believe. All of these increase your potential for success. Review in your mind your past accomplishments. What was it that allowed you to be successful? There is an energy within each of us that creates drive and tenacity. Try to tap into this energy. Work with it to accomplish your daily goals. In time, you will trust that this energy is present for you to use all the time. It is true that there is a bigger picture for you and with each success you build the self trust you need in the same manner as William David Coolidge.

Kindness as a Path to Personal Transformation

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” Dalia Lama The ancient philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20AD – 50 AD) spoke similarly: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It is often difficult for us to recognize that each person has his/her own challenges. We can become so engulfed in our own issues we forget to acknowledge the people around us. When times seem tough, there is a tendency to pull back into one’s own world and as one does that, he becomes smaller, his energy field constricts. It is the same with victimhood. When we identify with what is not working and immerse ourselves in struggle, we can easily forget that others have pain as well. Soon our world is quite tiny. We must guard against isolation for it diminishes us. We are constructed to allow energy to flow through us and we cannot do that when isolated. We are healthier when we allow energy to flow and express – give it away. We have more love, when we give it away. The way to reverse the process of isolation and restriction is through kindness, gentleness, gratitude and love. Each of these expands energy. When you are feeling stuck, a simple act of kindness will move your attention from your small world to an expanded consciousness. A Hebrew holy book states that “The secret to happiness is giving.” Often people think they have not given unless the gift is substantial. (A million dollars to develop a hospital wing). Yet, the truth is that every small gift matters and can change lives for each act has a ripple effect. If someone treats you with kindness and compassion, your tendency is to do the same to others. Kindness inspired kindness. Lena Horne said that she really didn’t become a successful human being until she took time to be kinder to everyone. In her words, “it was my responsibility to remove my own chip from my own shoulder. When I did, the world became a sweeter place and great success professional and personal, followed.” To seek personal expansion and transformation, we must also remove the chip from our own shoulder and release our obsession with personal struggles. As we extend ourselves, our world not only expands but brightens. We are now truly in the Light. Kindness can be skill we cultivate until it becomes natural. It can be as simple as waiting graciously while others are served, or smiling at strangers. Notice the opportunities that are presented to be kind. Can you hold open a door for someone struggling with packages? Say a kind word; express encouragement; do something above and beyond your duty? George H W Bush said, “American is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.” Kindness is the soul's path out of loneliness to a destination of jo9y. Make it a commitment.