What Are You Reading- On the Bookshelf

I have some time these days, during our Covid19 lockdown. Not that much more than I did before, given I’m taking care of 5 year old twins. But there is some time now that the kids can entertain themselves so I’m catching up on some oldies but goodies.

I have a friend, Hema, who posted at the beginning of this year that she intends to go deep on all her programs and books rather than wider and keep buying new books and spreading herself too thin.

I think this is a great idea. I’ve spent a great deal of money on programs and books I haven’t finished. So I too am finally starting (and finishing!) books that have long been on my bookshelf or my Kindle.

The one I’m reading right now is the Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. In the past, I might have read the book but not done the exercises. Now, I’m chapter 6 of 10 and I’ve actually done the previous chapters’ exercises. It’s been enlightening.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do pray daily to have the veil lifted from my eyes so that I can know the truth and be shown my blind spots. So this book is extremely helpful already, just half way through,in illuminating the way I’m denying my shadow self and rejecting and fiercely judging those who exhibit my shadow self. I love what the exercises are showing me.

Two things she said helped me really visualize the deepening process.

1 – she said that we are like castles and we have many hundreds or even thousands of rooms in ourselves. As children, we have no shame about these rooms whether they’re hateful, childish, loving, mean, funny, joyful, or selfish. We just are. And then the people in our lives tell us that some aspect of ourself is wrong and unacceptable. To survive, we turn off the light and lock the door to that room. As we age, we forget that we even had that room and hide the key. Like taking a coin when we were young and hide it. We wouldn’t remember where we had left if 30 years later, or even that we’d done it.

She quotes Gunther Bernard, “we choose to forget who we are and then forget we’ve forgotten”.

I did the exercise for the chapter and I could feel the rooms light up. Not that I know them yet but I could see and feel the lights flicker on- through the suggested visualization. Very cool. I love breakthroughs.

2- if you spot it, you’ve got it. I’m paraphrasing here, but she points out that if something really bothers us in someone else, it’s because we hate that about us. She gives a great visual that it’s like our chest is giant space for electrical outlets. For aspects of ourself that we’ve integrated, there is no charge when we ponder the concept of how the other person is acting. But for things we despise in others, it’s like there is a cord that plugs directly into our chest and we get an electrical surge whenever we think on this attribute or ponder the person.

Through her exercises, I am able to see that I’m all the things I’ve spotted and judged in others. And it’s so clear through her exercises.

I also see that the things are I truly admire in others are the flip side. I also have those qualities and attributes in myself.

I highly recommend her book and doing the exercises. You likely will find it quite illuminating to your shadow self (see what I did there? ROFL).

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Using the Lockdown for your advantage- How to Set and Keep A Goal –

I recently read a post on FB about how now is not the time to keep exercising or learning how to play an instrument, because of anxiety and stress about the coronavirus.

This is, of course, a perfectly valid way to live your life. Give your brain free rein and let it freak you out and hijack how you spend your days. Living in fear, passing on fear to others, and making decisions out of fear (or stress or anxiety).

Or you can clean up your mental hygiene and give yourself permission to not freak out or indulge in your anxiety, even if the REST OF THE WORLD IS.

You simply (simple but perhaps hard to do) change your thinking about the situation. Rather than stress about what you can’t control, allow your mind to tell you what it fears, acknowledge that, and then consciously search out the opposite of the fears of what your brain is telling you. For example, you can say that the economy is tanking and global recession and job loss – feeling the total fear and anxiety from this. You can then look at where there are bright spots; government stimulus, grocery stores and online businesses doing really well. People able to continue working at home, helping neighbors, and more.

You Have 30 (or 60?) Days. What Will You Do With It

You have 30+ more days of this lock down. Do you really want to stress out and over eat and over drink to manage your anxiety? Or do you want to maybe come out of the lockdown with the ability to play the piano? Or having lost 8 lbs? Or having read your full reading list? Or having all of your closets organized and your house finally deep cleaned?

After spending a week coming to terms with our new reality and allowing myself to freak out a bit and come up with a new normal, I’m excited about all that I can accomplish over the next month. I personally have set my goals and I’m looking forward to working on a bit of them each day, until the 30 days is up.

Anxiety Gets You Nowhere

Anxiety will keep your brain laser focused on all the threats outside. Update your thinking by updating your thoughts, whatever that looks like for you. All you have in your control are your thoughts about your circumstances. Get excited about how you can use this opportunity for changing habits and updating behavior.

Set Your Goal

To make it easier, come up with one goal for the next 30 days. Because it’s easy and measurable, I will use the example of weight loss. Many of us are over eating right now, unable to get to the gym or our yoga class, and the fridge is RIGHT THERE every day all day. So you’ve got 30 days, or 4.25 weeks. That’s say, an 8 lbs weight loss for the month. Or you can organize all your closets this month. You’ve got 8 (or 5 or 12) closets, that means two per week of it’s 8 closets.

How to Set and Keep Your Goal

Set out your measurable goal. Break it down into bite sized tasks (no pun intended).

If it’s weight loss, what is your plan of attack? Will you be reducing your carbs? Will you be using intermittent fasting to kick start your weight loss? Get specifics what what will change. Then plan for tomorrow. If you’re doing IF (which I do), plan for your window opening and closing tomorrow and stick with it. Plan your meals (and for your family’s if applicable).

If it’s your closets, look at your closets and really catalogue mentally what’s in there . Allow your brain to start working out what should go and what should stay. Allow your brain to work on how to solve what you’ll do with the stuff that needs to go. Will you trash it? Will you put it in the garage to give away? When do you have time to start organizing? Two per weekend? 1 hour per day? Let you brain loose.

Use visualization each morning and night to keep you motivated and focused. Really imagine the scale at the end of the month showing you the new weight. Feel your body and how much better you sleep and how much looser your clothes will be. Really get into it and allow yourself to feel the buzz. Your brain will get to work while you sleep, helping you come up with ways to solve this puzzle.

Think of the closets and how much lighter you’ll feel being able to use the closets quickly and easily and that you’re no longer burdened with items you don’t want. Picture them as complete neat and tidy. Again, your brain will get to work while you sleep, helping you come up with ways to solve this puzzle.

Keep Changing Your Thoughts to Those That Serve You

If your brain comes up with something about how you can’t get it done, notice your thoughts and upgrade the thought. Allow it to be and allow it yourself to acknowledge it as it really it. And then change the thought to one that will serve and empower you, allowing you to feel better.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. You have 30 days to use. Use them to serve you.

And then do the work. Open and close your IF window. Use the weekend to clean your closets. No excuse. Just do it. It’s 30 days.

You got this!

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Enjoy The Journey

In writing yesterday’s post, I was reminded yet again about enjoying the journey. So often, when I was living my life mostly in my head (as opposed to dropping down to feel my heart/body), I often thought that being exhorted to enjoy the journey was just silly Jack Handy nonsense.

But in reality, the journey is even more awesome than the destination. I wrote yesterday about enjoying the journey to increased prosperity but it applies to anything.

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”

― Rumi

As example, weight loss: Sure you may want to weigh 130 lbs. But really even losing 10 lbs is amazing. Understand that each pound, each 5 or 10 lbs lost is an opportunity for savoring the journey, enjoying what you’ve accomplished, and learning about yourself on the path. What have you learned about yourself as you allow yourself to release overeating? [Or course, the presupposes you’re not using willpower to overcome your body- that way lies madness].

Self Isolating through the Coronavirus pandemic- Is there any upsides?

My family and I have been self isolating for two weeks now. The first week I allowed myself to have a lot more avoidant behavior, including overeating and have more drinks than normal. But the second week, I asked my mind to show me the benefits of the isolation. I gave it something to do.

Now, I’m cataloguing all of the ways life is actually sweeter if we have to quarantine. For me, I see how busy I was before. I don’t need to be that busy. We were also spending a lot more money than we needed to on going to dinner. I also realized that having a home yoga practice is something I can and should start. As I mentioned in this post, I’m practicing a set yoga routine and I’m able to follow all the sun salutations (a,b, and c) with increased flow and grace.

I’m also uploading my photos to Flickr and I’m doing my first jigsaw puzzle in 20 years. Slowing down and allowing my mind to slow down. Less distraction, less screen time, more family time and quality time.

I’m so grateful to be amazed about this journey. I take a step on what I think is the path and I am allowing the path to show itself to me. Let’s not resist what is happening.

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How To Be Happy With What Is- Especially while on lock down at home – Coronavirus edition

Lorne, Australia So many of us are caught up in what is lacking in our lives and we despair. Typically it’s about money, weight, relationship, and career. And we think it’s an external circumstance, something over which we have little to no control.

But this is not the truth. The truth is that what is happening in our lives are just circumstances. It is completely neutral. It’s our thoughts about them that we have control over and that make these neutral circumstances into something good or bad.

[ Side note: None of the following is really original. I’ve synthesized the following from teachers I really admire and follow, Brooke Castillo at the Life Coach School, Martha Beck, Eckhart Tolle, Christine Kane, and Gerald Epstein, MD. I’m writing this by standing on the shoulders of giants and great teachers.]

Example: Feeling A Lack Of Money

Let’s take an easy to understand and nearly universal worry- lack of money- as our example. So you’re in debt, you don’t have enough to pay your bills, and you look around and all you can think about is how much better life would be with more money. Those thought, that you need more money, that you don’t have what you need, that you’re stuck in lack makes you feel something along the lines of feeling angry, scared, and powerless about how to “get” more money in your life. By feelings those feelings, your resulting actions likely aren’t calm, powerful, focused or motivated. You’re likely stressed out and avoiding feeling your feelings and overeating, overdrinking, and using other buffering mechanisms to avoid what you think is your reality. And the result is likely a continuation of the same circumstances because you’re not feeling empowered or peaceful to try to truly address your desire for money.

Another Way To Be With Your Circumstances -Acceptance

So you don’t have enough money to pay your bills. This is truth. This is fact. It’s your current circumstance. The real power you have is how you think about this fact. You can either choose thoughts about your circumstance that empower and serve you or you can choose thoughts that disempower and don’t serve you. This is where your power lies.

Choose Thoughts That Empower You

Instead of feeling stressed and lack about your money, recognize that the outer circumstances in your life often reflect your inner life circumstances and in those circumstances lie gifts to awaken and teach you to greater truths about yourself and how the world operates. Often it boils down to the truth that you’re feeling lack so you’re outwardly experience lack.

And please be clear about what I’m saying. It’s not your “fault”. You’re not to blame and no one is saying you could have done better. Be clear that sometime the universe takes an opportunity to really grind you down and use your worst fears to help you learn a lesson that will ultimately free you and help you grow. But it’s not something you chose and it’s not something you need to feel bad about having in your life And you get to be scared and overwhelmed and worried and horrified as you confront some of your worst fears, that evoke shame, deep seated fears of not being enough, not being good enough, not having enough, and more. This is heavy stuff and not something to be trivialized. Give yourself total permission to feel all your feelings. Take the time you need to allow yourself a full freak out and be compassionate with yourself. The shizzle is getting real. After a bit of time being honest with yourself and your feelings, it’s time to start to use your superpowers to help you change your thoughts and the resulting feelings.

Just realize that your thoughts about your circumstances are all that you can control. it’s not your fault the coronavirus is ravaging the world. It’s not your fault you were raised in a family that taught that money is bad or that only evil people want to earn a lot of money. This is simply where you are. Be clear. Don’t blame and don’t avoid.

Once you can get clear, start to use your own superpower and begin to consciously upgrade the way you think about your outward circumstances. Perhaps you can start to honestly catalogue all the ways this lack of money has been helpful to you. For me, I see that when my cash flow got low, I saw how much power I gave to worry and stress over money and how much I relished being a victim of this. That I didn’t learn about money from my parents, that it wasn’t my fault and I needed to be rescued by someone outside of me. Every thought raced through my head -except the one that this was something I had the power to change.

Lack of money has also helped me be clear about how much fear I had around lack, how much money I was spending on non-essential items, and how much I was using avoidant behavior to not be truthful about how I could actually change my circumstance. And that I would sacrifice my happiness, my time, and autonomy on getting a job to bring in money, even if I hated the job. I gave my deep desire for money a lot of power in my life.

Can You Find Your Way to Being Grateful?

Truly, I’ve also gotten to the place where I’m grateful for when I’ve felt financial lack. (And I’ve definitely had moment of financial lack, big scary thoughts about it.) What can it teach you and how much more powerful are you once you’ve truly learned all that the lack of money can teach you?

For me, I’ve prayed for years for clarity of my mindset and to be shown all of my blind spots. ALL of them. Before my daily morning mediation, I ask the Divine Beloved to tear down the veil of my ignorance so that I can truly SEE. I’ve learned to be so grateful for the lack of financial abundance that can stick around for seemingly forever. I’ve gotten clear about the worst that can happen. I can go bankrupt. I can lose my house. And instead of being the image of financial success to my family and friends, I’d be an example of how to lose it all. I see that I care what people think and I want to considered a success by others in all thing.

I went all the way down the rabbit hole. So I could go bankrupt. What does that look like? How do I feel about it? I could lose my house. What does that look like? What would I do? I go to the worst case scenarios and I get clear about what can happen. And really it’s simply that I’ll have to feel feelings, like shame and fear. But I can handle that. I could handle starting over, if it were ever to come to that. And I’m so grateful for the clarity the truth brings.

Choosing Better Thoughts

After getting clear about how you’ve been thinking and starting to perhaps even be grateful for your circumstances, it’s now time to find better thoughts about what is happening to: empowering thoughts that serve you well. If better, more empowering thoughts initially elude you, then ask yourself empowering questions about the situation.

For example, you can’t think of a better thought around the pile of debt you have. So ask yourself a question that helps your mind do something for you. Your mind is constantly searching for what to do and how to get things done. So send it off to ponder on questions that will help you. Like: How can I think better about this? How can I invite more money into my life? What are things and feelings I can have or do that will help me? And then let your mind go and you likely will have great answers in short order, especially if you sleep on it. Boom, you’re awake and your mind will probably be serving you up answers to your empowering questions.

Better Thoughts Mean Better Feelings

Once you consciously choose different thoughts that serve and empower you around money, then the feelings that result from those thoughts will serve and empower you as well. If you have a thought like: money is just a circumstance and I can make changes in my life in ways I never considered, the feelings that follow will likely be calm, powerful, happy and inspired. This type of feeling will allow you to take more powerful, even inspired action on the issue. And you’ll get ideas about how to change (or accept) your circumstance.

Be Willing To Follow Through

Your mind may serve up thoughts: ideas and inspiration that scare the socks off of you. You’ll have to try something new. You’ll have to put yourself out there and you may get rejected, you may fail, and your family and friends may think you’re nuts. None of that matters. Understand that following through on the power of your inspiration is what will lead you to increasing amounts of joy in your life, a better feeling about your life, and likely to more abundance.

Savor the Journey

In this example, you desperately wanted more money. And you think you’ll only happen once you have all the money you wanted. But in reality, you can start to enjoy the feeling of having the money once you decide that you will have more money and allow it in.

Do you remember, as a child, how much you enjoyed the entire month of December because of the anticipation of Christmas Day? (for those of you who celebrated Christmas- use your memories of your birthday if that works better for you). The whole month, you dreamed of Christmas day. All the presents, the food, the magical day. And it really peaked on Christmas Eve, knowing Santa was riding out that night ready to give you presents. And how was Christmas Day? It was often pretty awesome but it never truly did compare to the anticipation, did it? The same will be when you have all the money you need. Enjoy the build up. Enjoy knowing that you’re going to have a lot of money in the same way you knew that you were going to be getting presents. There wasn’t any fear or desperation around Christmas. It was all joy and anticipation. That’s the feeling you’re going for so cultivate thoughts around money/abundance that give rise to joy and light anticipation.

Don’t Forget to Visualize

Visualization is a powerful tool. Find visualizations that work for you and make you feel light and airy and joyful. Don’t get bogged down in the details of how the money will arrive.

Some examples of visualizations for abundance or prosperity are:

Imagine a body of water so vast it’s all you can see. Feel the water. See it lapping at the shore at your feet. Then slip into the water and float in its vastness. Feel the water slip into your pores and maybe even drink it up. I personally slip under the water and feel it enter into my lungs and ears and my eyes. And then feel that the water is abundance and it is vast and surrounds you at all time. You just have to let it in.

One that really works for me is that I can see a rushing river of cash flowing down from some place in the sky into my left hand and a slightly smaller river flowing out my right hand. For me, I know that I’ll be spending and donating the money so allowing the energy of abundance flow though me. This gives me the joy and anticipation feelings I mention above.

Be sure to get the flutter of emotion that lets you know the visualization is locked in and feels true and exciting to your subconscious. Check out Epstein’s page for some great visualizations.

Call on the Divine Beloved

As always, ask for help and guidance. Pray for it. Ask for it. Follow the inspiration. Tosha Silver has some great prayers on asking for help from the Divine Beloved, if that’s your jam.

Follow the inspiration you get. That’s key. Don’t stay stuck with your statue quo. Be willing to do things differently.

Keep working on your thoughts

Of course, you’ll have to keep working on your thoughts when you notice thoughts arise that are disempowering. It’s natural that your brain will freak out about circumstances without training to think empowering thoughts. Notice when you have thoughts that don’t serve you. Change them up.

You got this. You can do it. It’s what you were born to do: learn from your circumstances and follow your heart.

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Your Brain on Social Media (especially during the coronavirus situation)

School of fish in the Melbourne Aquarium As the coronavirus takes up more of social media and in our lives, a lot of people are finding themselves on their phones and in their apps a lot more than before. And a lot of the data and posts are of doom and gloom. This is a perfect storm and invitation for your mind to get stirred up and then addicted to the drama and danger being presented by the media, the stock market, by your friends.

This post is intended to help you remember that your brain is literally designed to focus on danger signals, that your brain makes up stories in the absence of an alternative narrative, and that you don’t have to believe your thoughts. I hope this post also helps you recognize when you’re in the middle of a thought storm and how to detach from it and to give you ideas about how to calm down and get centered despite what’s going on around you.

Remember that our brains are designed to focus on danger signals. That is how it saves our lives. But danger is supposed to be a short-lived experience, not a slow, long-winded, building tsunami of a disaster that lasts week or months. But with social media and the internet, we now can see the information coming from China long before the coronavirus officially arrived on our shores. The brain fixates and makes up stories about the danger. [Note, I’m not saying that there isn’t danger or that what is happening isn’t true- just that your brain is making up future stories for you to fear]. The stories your brain is making up, about how someone in family will get sick, you’ll lose your job, the economy will tank, and on and on. That MAY be true in the future. But it’s likely not true now. And worrying about a future that may or may not arrive keeps you out of calm, presence, and coming from a place of fear and lack rather than calm and clear.

You don’t have to believe your thoughts. The first step is detaching from your thoughts. Notice what is happening in your brain. What thoughts are compulsively coursing through your mental screen? There is a circumstance: the coronavirus is novel and is likely in your country and your locality. How you think about that is entirely up to you. On the one hand, you can think fearful thoughts and feel and act fearful. Or you can think calm thoughts and feel calm and peaceful.

As examples: fearful thoughts: the coronavirus is going to rampage through my country. Millions will die. The economy will tank. There’s no good options here. Resulting fearful emotions: ahhh, this is horrible and I have to do something so I’m going to spend all my time looking at the data for virus, buy more than I need to, and drink and eat too much to help me feel better about my scary thoughts and emotions.

Calm thoughts: the coronavirus is going spread through my country, like all countries. I will learn what I need to in this momentand know that sooner or later this will pass. And there is little about this I can control so I will accept what is, in this moment, in this moment, and in this moment. Resulting calm emotions: presence, loving acceptance of what is right now.

You can also use this time to learn about how your brain starts to engage your flight or fight system and how to detach from this state. The easiest way to understand how your brain and body are reacting is to notice your breath. Is your breath shallow and fast? Are you having a harder time than usual catching your breath?

If so, then take the time to deepen and length your breath. Breathe in deeply, perhaps to a count of 6 and then focus on lengthening the out breath, to perhaps a count of 8. Do this and feel the calm return. Keep doing it as often as is necessary.

For a few days, I’ve been buffering against my thoughts by being on social media a lot more than usual and binge watching Madame Secretary (which I’d never seen before). I caught the feeling of my brain swirling around faster and faster, like a rabid squirrel trying to get up all the trees at the same time. And the top of my skull feels hotter too, figuratively. Now that I’ve noticed this, I’ve put screen time controls on my phone and consciously spent time with my phone plugged in far from me. I can feel time slowing down, that I’m able to be much more present, and my attention span is almost a long as it has been in the past.I’ve also stopped drinking and eating to feel better. Crucially, I gave myself permission that a few days of getting used to our new normal is going to take a few days. With love and understanding, I allowed myself a few days to wallow and get a bit lost in the drama of the moment.

But I know it’s not profitable to wallow too long. Getting lost in the drama doesn’t help me be a better parent to my kids, a better partner, or make better choices about what to do with our free time. Walking in the woods, jigsaw puzzles, and finally learning to play the piano come to mind as better ways to spend the passing time.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, remember to be in that situation. Not one created by your mind about a near future that hasn’t yet come to pass. You’ll know that you’re creating a story about some imagined future because you’ll be stressed. True emergencies don’t evoke stories. In true emergencies, all you have is the moment . Believe in your power to effect change in the moment you have, which is to accept this moment, this moment, and this moment. Plan ahead as needed and then let it go.

Above all, be kind to yourself as you process changes. Blaming yourself or being cruel won’t help anyone. Keep detaching from your thoughts and breathing deeply, as necessary.

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