spirituality

Poetry: A Doorway to Your Authentic Life

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I’m entering into a new…what should I call it? phase of life, era, mindset? a new journey… yet another grand experiment.

What has triggered this big shifting? Internal divine discontent combined with the external joyous event called “ordination” that I experienced on Friday, April 8, 2011. As I feel the rumbles deep within, I’m drawn back to poetry. Here’s one that is resonating with me to the core…by David Whtye from his book entitled “The House of Belonging.”

If you’d like to travel with me on this deep and amazing journey, be sure to register to get my email notes announcing our various teleconference groups and workshops -I’ll be offering a discussion/sharing group soon (that is not for the faint of heart!). Together we’ll discuss David Whyte’s book “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.” You can get on the mailing list here: www.authenticlifeinstitute.com

Igniting your Spirit,
Ann

WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN WAKING

In that first hardly noticed moment
in which you wake,
coming back to this life
from the other, more secret,
moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment
you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small
for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly
Will make plans enough with
the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember the other world
in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest
on this earth.
You are not an accident
amidst other accidents.

You were invited here
from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now looking through the slanting light
of the morning window

toward the mountain presence of everything that can be,
what urgency calls you
to your one love?

What shape awaits
in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the shape of the life
you can imagine for yourself?

In the open and lovely white page
on the waiting desk?

P.S. My pleasure to advice to you spiritplantjourneys.com if you want to get know yourself.

Meaning of Life

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Big topic huh? One of the my favorite books about life meaning is “How Then Shall We Live” by Wayne Muller. In it he poses 4 questions. I share them here with you to get you thinking about the bigger picture of your life. My ultimate goal in sharing this with you is that you will be gentler with yourself and that you will live YOUR life doing what you love. Onto the first question!

1. Who am I? Are you saying, well, I am a business owner, writer, teacher, mother, etc? Muller encourages you to go deeper, to find the places beneath those names. Consider that what you call the “self” is always changing. If you get too focused on just one facet of yourself, you may feel smothered by the smallness of who you have become. Consider this, your true nature can take the shape in a million forms, all unique and useful in their own way. You are not a prisoner of your history! Try this: for five minutes complete this phrase: “I am.” Without judging keep speaking for five minutes. Notice what you say and how you feel when you say it. Are there repeating themes? What stands out for you? Which sentences seem the most troubling? Which feel most true? When you’re finished, try to name the single phrase that feels most potent. What does this want to reveal about your current sense of self?

Jack Kornfield, a leading Buddhist teacher, said, “the path is not so much about changing ourselves as it is about listening to the fundamentals of our being.”

2. What do I love? Whatever you give your time and attention to becomes the focus of your life. What is at the center of your life? What activities? Which people? Are these the people and activities you hope will receive your love and devotion? Whatever you are giving your time and attention to every day is the kind of person you will eventually become. Is this what you want? Try this. Grab a stack of magazines and make a collage of what you love. As you look through images hold in your mind the thought “what do I love?” When you’re done take a break then come back to it. Are you pleased with what you love? Is anything missing? Pick the single image that seems most powerful to you right now. What does it reveal about what you love? Choose one image and make a commitment to include it in your daily life more of what that image holds. You can choose another image next week!

3. How shall I live, knowing I will die? If you walk through life thinking that you will live forever, you’re not alone. It’s an illusion most people hold. The danger in it is that you think you can waste all the time in the world before you are ready to live. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun states, “if you live your life as if you actually only had a day left, then the sense of impermanence heightens that feeling of preciousness and gratitude.” Muller says that many of us are exhausted by a desperate search for answers, as if our life were a big problem to be solved and we haven’t yet found the perfect solution to the puzzle. We figure we’re not working hard enough and continue to push harder. What if the “don’t know” is an indication that it is time to be quiet, listen and wait? There is a time to act and a time to remain still. A time to engage and a time to retreat. There is a natural expansion and contraction in all things, and when you feel the truth of this, you will be easy and at peace. And you will find, that much will be accomplished!

4. What is my gift to the family of the earth? Most of us have had some hurt in our lives. And when you feel broken, you can feel useless and undervalue your gifts. Jesus declared we are the light of the world and must let our light shine. The gifts you give can be simple yet powerful. A kind word, a laugh, a meal. It is impossible that you have not gift. You may be unsure of it, afraid it’s not good enough, or waiting for the perfect opportunity. Don’t wait. It’s alive in you this very moment. You are given countless opportunities to offer your gifts to others every day. Take a day and examine how you give. Does it feel like an obligation? Which gifts are given most freely? We all need what you have. Be not afraid. Muller says, “a kind life is a life of courage, the courage simply to bring what you have, to bring what you are.”

A Noble Life

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I went to a Catholic funeral last Friday for a woman I’d never met.  Why’d I go?  Her son, who I chat with at my local watering hole, invited me.  It was an honor and privilege to attend.  Here’s a bit of what the local newspaper said: “June Ramos, died at the age of 84 after living a long noble life…She was a lifelong member of the San Juan Capistrano community, a member of the Juaneño Tribe of San Juan Capistrano.”

Death’s gift to us is reminding us of what is important.  And attending that funeral, held in the beautiful San Juan Capistrano Mission, filled to the rafters with people from the community, reminded me of how important community is to me -it ranks high on my list of values.  And I love that phrase “she lived a long, noble life.”  I’d like that said about me.

I often talk about “success” at Authentic Life Institute.  Today I’m remembering how I define success – living where I want to live, hanging out with people I want to hang out with and doing things I like to do (most of the time -we all have to go to the dentist every now and then!)  And living a noble life -that to me means serving others with my gifts.  And saying only kind words or none at all.  And being involved with my community.

I’m curious about how you define “success.”  Post your answer here -I’d love to see it!

Gratitude is Good Medicine

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I’ve been following the relatively new field of Positive Psychology for the last few years –imagine studying people who are healthy and thriving and not just those with disorders and diagnosis –about time!

There are powerful research results coming out about the idea of gratitude.  Findings say that gratitude helps maintain close connections with others.  Gratitude is linked to more helping behaviors, high positive emotions, life satisfaction, increased hope and lower feelings of anxiety and envy.  Who doesn’t want that!

In a research study on happiness, people in one group were asked to write a letter of gratitude to someone, a 2nd group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for each day for one week, and a 3rd group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for on a single day.

There appeared to be more benefit to listing your blessings 1 day a week rather than everyday (I wonder if it was because it was easier to remember to do it once!).  All three interventions worked, providing people with increased happiness and hope.  And even more impressive –the benefits lasted up to 6 months.

Of all the happiness interventions to date– gratitude gives the strongest effects.

The affirmative prayer method that I practice daily has a gratitude component to it. Being grateful for what is right now and feeling what it’s like to already have what you have asked for.  When I practice affirmative prayer and get to the gratitude part, my heart always fills up so full…no matter what circumstances are appearing in my outside world…it is a wonderful feeling and always transforms me to a higher place.

Enjoy this season of gratitude, and post a comment on our blog about your experiences with gratitude…I’d love to hear them!

Be Yourself: Imitation is Suicide

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It’s one thing to seek out people who are ahead of you in achieving something you want.  For example, if you want to reach a six figure income, working from home, it makes sense to find someone who has done that and to learn from them the systems they used.  That’s smart. But what I see so many of my clients do is compare themselves to others and declare that they come up short. 

I love Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. He lived in the 1800’s and was a philosopher and essayist from Boston.  In his essay, “Self-Reliance”, he says “there is a time in every (wo)man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”  I believe he was not speaking literally here about farming…but rather telling us to “till” the life and gifts given us in order to tap into that endless good.

He also says “trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.  Accept the place the divine providence has found for you” and… “nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.”

A coach once gave me some great advice that I embraced.  She said “flaunt your quirks.”  The quirkier the better.  What this means is that all the qualities and characteristics that make you unique are part of your essential, true self.  And when you are being true to yourself you are attractive to others.  You will attract just the right people into your personal and business world.  Think of someone who you consider successful.  Can you name some of their “quirks?”  Chances are you can.

Being authentic doesn’t happen in one fell swoop.  It happens daily in the choices you make – if a decision is based on what you imagine society thinks you “should do” or when you make a choice based on what you think will impress someone else…that’s probably not authentic.

When you have defined what’s important to you –where it is important to expend your time and energy on this planet –and you make your choices guided by that…you’re being authentic.

Learn from others.  Sure.  Take what you like from them and integrate it into who you are.  Don’t imitate…that makes your soul wither…let your unique spirit shine in the world!

Bust Your Bad Habits

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RT @TPEntrepreneur Still have that old bad habit? Here are 39 ways to finally bust through! http://budurl.com/njr9

Top 10 Things to be Grateful For

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1. You’re breathing. You owe your life to the world not the other way around. How are you sharing you natural gifts with others?
2. You have a roof over your head. I’m guessing that you do if you have time to read Top Ten lists!
3. You have enough food in your stomach. Again, an assumption but if you’re reading this, I bet its true.
4. You have a computer. You’re reading this on it right?
5. There is something beautiful that you can look at right now. It may be in your home or outside -check out that flower or cloud.
6. You have online friends. You do, don’t you? If not, join us on twitter.
7. You have opportunities and possibilities. Yes you do. Unlimited. Really.
8. The sun will rise and set. And you don’t even have to do anything.
9. You can read -therefore you can keep learning. Life long learning rocks.
10. You’re able to read Top Ten Lists. Fun, huh?

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