WORD OF THE DAY: SELF-REFLECTION

self-re·flec·tion
noun
  1. meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.
    girl-before-a-mirror
    “A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life.” ― Carl Sandburg

    I see no right or wrong in self-reflection. For me it serves as a mirror showing me where I am in life and offers a glimpse of where I would like to be. Self-reflection gives me opportunity to pause and reflect about my own assets and shortcomings. Believe me, I do fall short. But ackowledging and owning my shortcomings expands my awareness and tolerance of others. It cleans the cobwebs encasing my Soul and enlarges the heart allowing compassion for all life.

    “How am I doing in each of the following virtues?”

    1. Gratitude: Is it my habit to thank the Universe/God/higher power (the power greather than ourselves) and others for what they have done? Am I grateful?

    2. Serenity: Am I free from all outbursts of selfish anger or rage? Am I approachable, quiet in spirit, open to criticism, and don’t get defensive when I am corrected or rebuked?

    3. Humility: Do I have an inflated ego? Do I consider others equal to myself? Am I teachable?

    4. Attitude: Is my lifestyle one of the right relationships, not just outwardly but inwardly too? Do I disperse hate, ill will, malice or bitterness toward others?

    5. Acceptance: Do I fight back or retaliate when people criticize, condemn, reject or complain against me? Is it my practice to answer in truth and turn away from their wrath?

    6. Peace: Is it my practice to bring peace between others who are at odds? Do I cultivate peace in my thoughts, words, and actions?

    7. Courage: Do I stand up for my beliefs, keeping fear under control and taking risks in expressing my true self?

    8. Trust: Do I live a life of trust in the Universe/God/higher power?

    9. Perseverence: When things get difficult, stressful and unrewarding, even if I must face suffering difficulty and persecution, do I tap into a source of endurance?

    10. Integrity: Do my thoughts, words, and actions flow freely into each other? Are my thoughts, words, and actions congruent?

    11. Service to Others: Do I regularly give back to the world? Do I serve my others, including family, friends, and strangers with no conditions or expectations?

    12. Forgiveness: If there is an individual or group of people who have hurt me in the past, do I release my resentment, bitterness or grudge against them? Have I forgiven everyone who has ever hurt me?

    13. Making Amends: If I’ve ever taken things which do not belong to me, or hurt people by what I said or did, do I follow my Soul’s instruction when it compels me to make amends?

    14. Materialism: Do I resist attaching myself to materialism? Do I choose live a life of contentment and satisfaction with what I have. I’m not always “wanting more”?

    15. Inventory: It is the routine of my life to spend time alone to meditate/pray/reflect and beyond that I live in the present, letting go of the past resisting jumping ahead into the future?

    16. Honesty: Do I avoid half-truths, white lies, flattery or exaggeration? Do I practice absolute honesty both in my relationships with others and myself? Do I lie in order to allow myself or others to avoid unpleasant emotions?

    17. Tongue Stewardship: Do my words build others up, encourage, comfort, help, inspire, and challenge?

     

 

I Am My Protector

(by Michelle Maynard-Koenig)

ego-soul
I am my

Protector;

Consolating force

Peace and serenity

Amid chaos.

I am my

Confidant;

Forbidding neither

Hope nor freedom

Amid memories.

I am my

Rebel;

Defending values of

Identity and truth

Amid society.

I am my

Scapegoat;

Dimming truth’s dazzle

Intolerance or Denial

Amid critiques.

I am my

Ghost;

Existing with ego

Experimenter of spirit

Amid reality.

SOUL SCIENCE

your-heart-and-my-heart

 

Soul, though it has many associations for each human, from the sentimental to the sublime, it is frustratingly difficult, perhaps impossible to create a univeral, uniform definition.  Based on experience and perception, I personally find it more logical than not each human encases an energy field, essence, which I refer to as Soul, that is inanimate. Being intrigued with spirituality, philosophy, and science (especially the ongoing discoveries and awareness that takes place in the field of science), I thought it would be interesting to look into the relationship between science and the Soul.

Everything is energy.

Here on this planet it is widely accepted that everything is energy in the Universe, from the smallest atom to the largest planet. Everything is energy.  Energy is the driving force for the universe and consistently changes its form (kinetic, transfer, potential, or other).  It is suggested that the human body is made up of 30 to 50 trillion cells made up of atoms.  Each atom is almost completely empty space and the dense parts of the atom come from an energy field into particle matter. Then, as Einstein theorizes, it disappears back into an energy field — E = mc 2

This means you are; endlessly physically changing from an energy life field into a partially physical form mostly not here in dense matter. In fact you are only .000000000001% physically here! Mind blowing isn’t it?

“Changes in human energy fields may have more to do with what we do and how we live rather than inevitable changes over a life span.” (Leigh, etc., Univ. Nevada)

Laws of thermodynamics.

One form of energy can be transferred to another form and the laws of thermodynamics govern how and why energy is transferred. This is studied and confirmed by scientists in the field of quantum physics. They theorize that when everything is is broken down to the sub-atomic level, pure energy exists, not matter. Energy is always vibrating.  Hard to fathom?  Look around you.  Everything you can see is vibrating, however we may not be able to see it with the capacity of our sight. Thus we often are not aware of it.  “Things” (including you and I and out atoms), vibrate at a slightly different rate.  Science has shown that the rate of vibration, or frequency, dictates how we perceive matter, as a solid, a liquid, or a gas.  For instance, solids vibrate the most slowly, liquids vibrate faster than solids, and gases vibrate the fastest. What about electricity?  When scientists increase the vibration of an atom, at some point it disappears.  That’s the upper limit of the “physical universe.”  When the atom’s vibrational frequency slows down, it re-appears.  Where did it go?  It went somewhere, but science has no way of knowing.  Let’s just say it went to a place where the vibrations are faster.  Our eyes only see a tiny slice of the total electromagnetic energy spectrum which is only one source of energy and dismiss the rest.  Most humans have the capacity of five senses (hear, see, smell, taste, and touch), which follows interactive rules of perception which to some degree is different from person to person in our four dimensional world of height, width, length, and time.

 Energy signature.

You are probably wondering what any of this scientific mumbo-jumbo has to do with a person’s essence or what many refer to as the soul.

I am soul. You are soul.  We are energy beings who vibrate. Since vibrations often occur at different rates, each and every soul is totally unique, unlike any other, even though we have some commonalities. Although we vibrate at different frequencies, we all vibrate faster than the limit for the physical universe, so in order to live in the physical world and interact with it, we have to put on bodies that vibrate at the rate of the physical universe.   You can’t “see” soul with your physical eyes, but believe it or not, you can recognize familiar souls whom you’ve met in previous lifetimes.  Naturally, they are not wearing the same body they were in when you met them last, so you can’t recognize them by their physical appearance.  Instead you – soul that you are – recognize them by their unique energy signature, their vibration, even though they may have changed since you knew them last.

Well, think about a person that you first met when they were a small child.  How old is that person now?  Does the person look anything like he or she looked when you first met?  Chances are, the answer is no.  How do you know it’s the same person?  The person’s body shape and size have changed.  Hair color or voice register have changed.  If the person is a woman and she is married, her last name may have been changed.  The person is older now, and perhaps dresses differently.   You know by their energy signature.  It’s not something you can explain; you just know. Generally, you get a feeling, often one of familiarity (“Oh, it’s you!  Where have you been?), but also, you find that you really like or dislike the person right away, sometimes before they ever interact with you.  Sometimes you get a feeling of fear or anger.  Other times, you might get a strong feeling of infatuation or lust.  You may feel that you “love” the person even though you haven’t had the chance to forge any kind of relationship with them in this lifetime.

If you’re starting by now to wonder if you took the red pill instead of the blue pill as in the movie the matrix (or maybe I did) you may not be that far off.  As science is finally proving not all is that which seems to be, and even the mere effect of observing some of their experiments effects the experiment itself by being observed.  And even non-physical forces like intention, have been physically recorded in a variety of repeatable scientific experiments which happens to also be the basis of many prayers as taught by many religions. (Candice Collins)

Dive into the the scientific theories and the myriad of personal interpretations based on awareness and observation and find what fits with your reasoning of the essence of the human being aka Soul. But ask yourself the following questions as you are lead from one scientific or philosophical theory to another, where does Earth get its energy from and, if it doesn’t vanish, where does it go? What or who do you think occupies the 99.999999999999% empty space, within each of the 30 to 50 trillion cells in our bodies?

 

____________________________________________________________________________

I appreciate the information and material contributed by the following:
Ancient Theory of Souls, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/
Berkeley Scientific, UC Berkeley’s Undergraduate Science Journal
Candice Collins, author of “Calling All Earthlings”
Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MASTE), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Geoffrey K. Leigh, Ph.D., Southern Area Specialist; Catherine D. Leigh, Student, University Of Nevada, Las Vegas; Karen A. Polonko, Ph.D., Professor, Old Dominion University, authors of “Difference in Human Energy Fields,” published in University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension, https://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/hn/2003/fs0368.pdf
Linda LeBoutillier, author of “How Do Souls Recognize Each Other?”

Setting Healthy Boundaries

I have realized that the Universe/Life is guiding me through a lesson of setting boundaries. This is challenging because as an empath I sense, I feel, I act, I react, I love, and care deeply, sometimes immediately, when I cross paths with living creatures, animal, earth, stranger, acquaintance, friend, or family. How does one set boundaries? Healthy boundaries? Coming to accept that setting healthy boundaries is a way of caring for me, myself, and I, mind, body, and spirit. The challenge for me is realizing that setting boundaries does not make me mean, selfish, or uncaring. In order for me to give back to the Universe love, peace, and understanding, I have to give myself love, peace, and understanding. Setting boundaries is one tool that allows me to do so. However, it is certainly a challenge, but a lesson I accept. My heart (love core) feels like it will explode if attempt to confine it, as it operates on a default setting. However, in in the past few days, I have come to realize that I can set boundaries related to people who are saturated in toxicity, situations that are beyond my control, and build courage to change the things I can. I realize I can love freely from a distance. I have found that when loving from a distance with boundaries, I am able to preserve balance, serenity and peace in my life; regardless if they are stranger, friend, or family.

 

 

I Feel Your Pain: An Empath’s Guide To Staying Balanced

(Bo Forbes)

Do you often wonder which emotions are yours, and which belong to someone else? When people you care about are hurting, do you feel their pain so deeply that it’s hard to separate—even after they’re out of crisis mode? In relationships, do you donate so much of your own natural resources that you suffer from a chronic energy shortage? And with those you’re close to, is it hard to figure out what your own needs are—or even what you want for dinner? If the answer is yes, it’s highly likely that you’re an empath.

What does it mean to be an empath, and why is it fraught with these basic life challenges? Derived from the Greek “em” (in) and “pathos” (feeling), the term empathic means you’re able to “feel into” others’ feelings. But for empaths, this sensitivity is magnified to the nth degree. An empath is more tuned in, more empathic, and more sensitive to others than the average empathic person.

Being this tuned in, empathic, and sensitive is an asset, but it comes at great cost. Empaths are unusually vulnerable to emotional contagion, to “catching” others’ emotions in much the same way that you’d catch a cold or flu. But it doesn’t stop there: empaths get physically ill and suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic stress, professional burnout, and pain syndromes more often than their less empathic counterparts. And empaths often need lots of down time after social engagements, “recovery periods” at the end of a workday, or extended intervals of being alone. They can feel fundamentally different from others: As a conference-goer recently put it, “It’s like I’m an alien from another planet—no one understands me, and sometimes I don’t even get myself.” The empaths I work with often confess a deep-seated fear that this “alien thing” means something is wrong with them, that they’re somehow damaged.

As a clinical psychologist and yoga therapist, I’ve supervised psychotherapists, yoga teachers, and yoga practitioners for more than two decades—and a great many of them are empaths. I’ve helped them identify who they are and develop the skills to lead more balanced and healthy lives. And as a “recovering empath” myself, I’ve had to walk a parallel path. From this personal and professional immersion, I’ve found that it helps just to name the issue, to hammer a framework of understanding around it. And then, armed with tools from yoga, mindfulness, and psychology, we can work on balance. We can create a blueprint for physical well-being, emotional health, and more rewarding relationships.
Are you an empath? Here are five signs that you might be—and that your wonderful qualities, when left unchecked, can compromise your health.

THE EMPATH CHECKLIST:

1. You struggle with boundaries. It’s tough to know where you leave off and others begin, which experiences are yours and which come from others, when to open your channels for connection or to close them.
2. You’re often not in your body. For empaths, all that “feeling into” the experiences of others means that you dissociate: you leave your body or “shuttle” out of direct experience as a matter of course.
3. You’re vulnerable to emotional contagion. You absorb the emotions of others, from your boss and colleagues at work to your family and friends, and even the check-out guy at Whole Foods.
4. You’re prone to nervous system overdrive. It doesn’t take much—sometimes just a draining conversation or a party that’s loud and over-populated—to propel your nervous system into alarm mode.
5. You have trouble with intimacy. Your relationships are filled with intense bonding and equally intense separations. You can merge with others at the drop of a hat, but get so entangled that an “emotional exorcism” of someone you care about is often the only way to get your space.

Even when we’re aware of them, these patterns are hard to change. They’re wired into us deeply, at levels the conscious mind can’t reach. For that reason, to be a healthy empath requires daily practice. Here are the key issues and therapeutic practices that form the heart of the journey. The challenge is that much of the healing needs to happen through the body. And for empaths, the body can be a wasteland of sorts, a long-abandoned battleground.

Lest you think this is a “chick thing,” there are male empaths, too. It’s just that the process of natural selection draws empathic males underground more quickly than it does their female counterparts because sensitivity, empathy, and attunement to others are considered “feminine” traits. Male empaths can be ostracized for these qualities, and learn to bury them from sight. As a male empath in one of our therapeutics clinics recently said, “I take on other people’s experiences all the time. I have a huge amount of anxiety and depression, and it’s hard to know what’s mine and what’s someone else’s. But when I talk about it to my friends, they tell me to quit being ‘such a girl.’” Male empaths need the same kind of body-based support that female ones require.

RX FOR EMPATHS:

Empaths have an extraordinary capacity for union. They’re great in a crisis; people in need call forth their deepest abilities. They make gifted, intuitive healers. They see others deeply, well beyond the surface. And they have a magnetic quality that draws people to them. Yet flanking these positive aspects are several shadow sides. Here’s what you’ll want to focus on to help you live in a state of physical and emotional equilibrium.

1. Develop Boundaries. As an empath, you give too much space to others’ emotional lives. You solve their problems with ease and help them restore equilibrium, often at the expense of your own energy stores. But even when no one needs you, the habit of “trolling for crisis” means you’re always on alert, and makes it tough to return to the shores of your own awareness.
Empath Rx: Creating boundaries isn’t a matter of mental discipline, of “just say no.” When you’re an empath, limits need to be integrated into your physicality. The core body is your seat of power: What helps is a yoga practice that brings your focus into your deep, intrinsic core where you can develop “prana in the belly.” This four-pronged core body program includes awareness, strength, flexibility, and the capacity to release. Working with the core in this holistic way helps you ground back into your body and replenish your energy stores. Mindfulness tools can also help you monitor where—or on whom—you’re focused and notice when you’ve migrated into someone else’s direct experience.

2. Bring Awareness into Your Body. Imagine that you’ve left to visit a friend in another city and forgotten to lock your house. And that’s not all: You’ve left all the doors and windows wide open, so anyone can get in. This is what it’s like to be an empath. You can abandon your own home, your direct experience, in favor of someone else’s. The more you do this, the more difficult it is to return. What makes matters worse is that not inhabiting your body (and the moment) keeps the benefits of yoga and other mindfulness-based practices just beyond your reach.
Empath Rx: Offset this tendency toward dissociation with slow, mindful vinyasa yoga sequences that link movement with breath. Empaths can spend a whole yoga class or practice on auto-pilot: adding anchors for awareness will help bring you back to your body and to the present. Contemplative practices such as meditation and restorative yoga give you the time, space, and silence you need to get re-embodied again.

3. Balance Your Nervous System.
An empath’s environment is like “emotional satellite radio” with surround sound and hundreds of channels. Your nervous system surfs the dial constantly, flipping from station to station to listen to others’ emotional broadcasts: your boss’s complaints about work, your partner’s anxiety over a potential job loss, your best friend’s sadness about a breakup. These information-processing demands can catapult your nervous system into overdrive, which reinforces anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. On top of that, the incessant electronic requests of e-mail and social media can overload and exhaust you.

Empath RX:

Learn to notice the signs of nervous system overdrive, such as that inner sense of something always “humming” beneath the surface, an elevated heart rate, and increased emotional reactivity. Practice simple breathwork techniques like nasal breath (and if accessible, nasal breath with a longer exhale) to slow your heart and bring your nervous system back to baseline. Regular breaks from social media also help, as do practices that balance your nervous system and quiet your mind, like Restorative Yoga.

4. Learn to Regulate Intimacy.
For empaths, intimacy comes down to matters of space and reciprocity. You can feel like Dr. Doolittle’s Push-Me-Pull-You: Sometimes you crave intense emotional, physical, and spiritual bonding. At other times, you need so much space that having your own personal galaxy might feel too crowded. When you want to merge, you can threaten people who have a higher need for breathing room; when you need wide-open space, you can appear remote and withholding. And when it comes to reciprocity, you’re rarely comfortable on the receiving end. Your giving nature attracts narcissistic people who crave the mirroring and validation you offer. In the meantime, you’re able to create a fantasy in which the relationship lives up to its potential—and you inhabit that fantasy as though it were real. You learn to subsist on a diet of mere “emotional breadcrumbs,” and can suffer from malnourishment.

Empath Rx:
To build your ability to receive care from others, try bodywork or yoga therapy with someone you trust. You can also balance a personal yoga practice with group classes to strengthen your sense of community. If your job requires any degree of public exposure, or you work as a healer, you may need stretches of alone time to reestablish your equilibrium. Here again, mindfulness-based practices can help you notice feelings of being devoured and interrupt the cycle of merger and isolation before you reach the breaking point.

5. Develop emotional immunity.
Empaths pick up on other’s emotions and even their direct inner experience so rapidly that it’s hard to indentify what’s happened. As a result, a large part of your anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and immune issues can belong not to you, but to someone else. And just like your nervous system and physical body, your emotional body and immune system struggle with boundaries. They have difficulty discerning what’s you and what’s not. This leaves you vulnerable to emotional issues like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress, as well as auto-immune illnesses such as allergies, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Empath Rx:
Practice interpersonal hygiene: using mindfulness, notice how you feel after spending time with others. You’ll soon learn which people are hazardous to your health, and you can limit your interactions with them. Also try lymph-stimulating asana sequences and Restorative Yoga to stimulate your capacity for constructive internal reflection.

THE EMPATH’S FILTER:

One of the more insidious consequences of Empath Syndrome is having a very thin, membranous emotional skin which reacts intensely to real or perceived invasion. This skin is allergic to a variety of foods, social settings, and other people—and on the inside, it mimics the auto-immune pattern of self-hatred. This exposes our nerve endings to all the shame, rage, and deep, existential grief inside us and in everyone around us. An offhand comment from a loved one, a request for help from someone when our resources are at a low ebb, or a harmless comment from that “weird guy” at the gym can get under our skin in microseconds. This sets off an alarm, and we immediately filter that person as either “dangerous” or “safe.” Long ago, that type of filtering was necessary for our survival but as we mature, it becomes less adaptive, even destructive. Because we doubt the strength of this filter (after all, it’s tough for us to set boundaries), we construct a narrative around the experience. Once we’ve developed a juicy story about the person who got under our skin, we repeat it. We pull for confirmation from others, as though having an army behind this filter will help it feel more like a fortress.

Having the armed forces behind us can feel comforting initially, but our actions only strengthen the sensitivity of the danger/safe filter. And since our narrative is rarely limited to one encounter, we practice it over time. Soon, it gains a brittle hardness. This outer shell protects us from injury (good), but also from intimacy with others and our deepest selves (not so good).
Often, the deepest (and hardest!) work happens long after the interaction is over, when our nervous system is back to balance and the temporary comfort our narrative gave us has dissipated. Our task is to go back to the filter, to our initial decision in the moment, and reevaluate. We can (this is so hard!) reconsider and re-examine the encounter from all angles, balancing the harsh light of hindsight with a healthy dose of self-compassion. We can even ask others for input—preferably those who don’t indulge our stories, and who want to see us grow.

Over time, we can acknowledge where our filters make errors or blind us. We can change their sensitivity settings to be more open. We can acknowledge where they make errors or may blind us. Then we’ve got something to grown on. The challenging part: Empaths have a really tough time changing this filter because it feels so necessary for safety. What’s more, adjusting the settings actually stretches our “emotional skin.” This expansion is uncomfortable: It can feel in some ways like a “little death” and it can jolt the nervous system into caffeinated overdrive. This is when the quieter aspects of yoga and mindfulness like Restorative Yoga can help promote constructive internal reflection, and help us assimilate the changes we’ve made to our filter. I’ve been in this place many times and experienced the struggle myself. And while our asana practice helps us be more embodied, this epic battle with our filter is carried out on the very plains of engagement where mindfulness and yoga try so hard to lead us.

IT’S LIKE A TATTOO:

Empaths often ask me, with great sincerity, “How do I get rid of this?” Their poignant request reflects the cost they pay, in time and effort, to achieve a measure of balance. But being an empath is like having a tattoo: the imprint is there for life, no matter what you may do to change it. These practices aren’t a time-limited, do-it-for-three-months-and-all-will-be-well kind of program. Rather, they’re a lifelong journey of self-discovery. But it needn’t be a life sentence. Having a daily empath-balancing practice improves our relationship with ourselves. It juices our creative process. It improves emotional regulation. It deepens our work life, and enhances our physical health.

Empaths need community, a tribe of our own to belong to, and a shared language through which we can first unload the burden of being built as we are. Yet once we’ve ingested this sense of belonging, our task is to resist the temptation to rest there forever, and cultivate instead both personal and shared practices that bolster our body, calm our mind, and help us ground into and explore ourselves. We do this first in shallow waters and then in time, the deep.

It may seem that transformation is about transcendence: that we somehow leave behind our flaws to achieve a measure of spiritual perfection. Yet true spiritual evolution and emotional health entail a reckoning with and even valuing of the unique set of challenges we’ve been given. Sometimes the holes in our evolution—the very things that we lack—plait a deep thread of awareness into the fabric of our self-study. We’ll spend the rest of our lives unraveling that thread, and weaving and reweaving it. And there’s a measure of honor that comes from having to work so hard at the skills that others seem to master so naturally.

And the reward for all this hard work of integration? There will come an extended moment in time when something or someone will activate your nervous system, stimulate your filter and the narrative that comes with it, and tie you in emotional knots. But this time, you’ll recognize it as it happens. You’ll be able to enter a dialogue. You’ll say to yourself something like, “Oh- here it is again—it’s happening! This person has bumped right up against my need to feel special,” or whatever it is they’ve activated. You’ll notice the signs of activation: elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, intense emotional reactivity, and an immediate gravitational pull toward a difficult story. “They must not care about me at all,” you’ll start to think. Then suddenly, you’ll remember to feel where that activation is concentrated in your body: often, for empaths, it’s the upper core or solar plexus area. You’ll bring your hands to that area and breathe deeply into it for several minutes. And if it’s still highly engaged, you’ll opt to practice a little longer until you hit your “reset button.”

And all at once, you’ll feel the deep worth of daily empath practices. You’ll find a simultaneous sense of yielding and resilience. You’ll feel a beautiful solidity, as though you’ve colored in your outlines. You’ll discover a newfound sense of your own intrinsic value in the world. And this will be matched by the joy that comes bubbling up from the wellspring of your body.
Being an empath asks us to become fluent in the field of paradox, to metabolize opposing concepts and challenges. How can we engage in rich relationship with others and the world around us, for instance, while finding the silence and space to discover the self and world inside us? How do we find balance between matter and spirit, inner awareness and outer focus, or self and other? And how might we engage in the dynamic interchange between the concept of evolution—which hints at a future self—and the self we are right here, right now?

It may be later in life by the time we truly blossom, but the time, patience, and inner work are well worth the effort. When we learn to regulate our nervous system, create healthy boundaries in our body, and adjust the filter through which we evaluate direct experience, we become truly resilient. And instead of making ourselves small to fit the world around us, to find a tribe where we belong, we learn to blossom on our own. This blossoming draws others to us. And an empath in full flower is an extraordinary thing to witness: vulnerable yet resilient, intuitive yet grounded, and deeply creative, expressive, and magnetic—but with a fully functioning sense of where and how these qualities balance.

Article source: www.boforbes.com

Word of the Day: Selflessness

nOUN.  

1. No concern for oneself especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.; unselfish. 

Selflessness is the state of being unselfish: Anatta in Buddhism. Altruism.

Origin:  “devotion to others’ welfare or interest and not one’s own,” 1825.

First attested in Coleridge. Related: Selflessly ; selflessness.

(Source: Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper.)

 


 

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbor that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man and Prison Writings


 

Image courtesy of artofcherishingyourchildren.blogspot.com

 

Food for thought: If one possesses selflessness, do they think less about self, and more about others? Is selflessness congruent with generosity, kindness, and altruism? Or is it simply a term to explain the ability to give to others without looking for personal gain, such as giving time, money, or things to other people without expecting something in return? Do you agree or disagree that the world would be a better place if humans possessed more selflessness? Feel free to comment and share your perspective.

The Piano Lesson

I recently saw a commercial air on the television that compared mankind to a piano. Humans are the keys, each one different from another, but all appear to be the same in shape and form. This thought remained with me for most of the afternoon and evening. It is still with me as I write this piece today.  Mind you, I can barely play Chopsticks on the piano. My only musical training is two years of training on the viola in grade school and summer days tinkering around on my Aunt’s piano during vacation years ago. However, it doesn’t take a Mozart to recognize the beautiful gift a piano is to the Universe.

The piano is such a ponderous and colossal instrument. Why does it occupy such a place of importance in music?  Mankind is such an unwieldy and vast instrument. Why does it occupy such a place of importance in the Universe?  Let’s look at the piano as if it were mankind and each key of the 88 keys represent individual members of humanity.

Eighty-eight keys make up the core of the piano. Each key represents a different note, giving the piano a wide range of sounds. The 88 keys contain seven octaves, plus a few other notes, just as individuals are members of nations across the globe.

The white keys represent the musical tones A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The black keys differ from the white keys in that they represent half-step intervals — known as sharps and flats — between various notes. A group of seven white keys and five black keys together make up the 12 notes we call an octave.  In our world there are may individuals of difference races. Races among different cultures. Cultures amid different religions and philosophies. But yet all make up the instrument called mankind.

To like is to recognize.

Maybe, just maybe, Wassily Kandisky was spot on when he theorized that “color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

The piano reminds us to be together, not the same.

So it is no surprise that Android’s “be together. not the same.” tagline was adopted last October. The phrase reflects how Android has a unified experience across a range of different devices.

Isn’t that how humanity should be?

 

 

The Art of Feeling Qi (Chi): Mind, Body, and Life Energy

By Senior Instructor Bill Ryan

Many people have trouble feeling their bodies.

Many people have trouble feeling their chi, or what I call “life energy.”

Why? There can be many reasons. But one common reason is that many people don’t slow their minds down when they try to feel.

Your physical body and your life energy are forms of energy. Modern physics has proven your physical body to be so. As physicists have delved deeper and deeper into the fundamental nature of physical matter, they have found not solid particles, but waves of energy.

As for your life energy – your chi, your prana, your ki, the energy which enables your body to perform its basic functions, the energy that is the prime focus of Chinese medicine – mainstream scientists have yet to accept its existence. But in everyday life its existence is not questioned. Who cannot answer accurately the question we ask ourselves everyday, how much energy do I have today?

Your mind also is a form of energy. In our everyday language we acknowledge this by describing our minds in energetic terms. For example, we say things like the following. Sue has a quick mind. Just focus your mind on the problem at hand. He directed his attention toward me. John is such a clear thinker.

To feel your body or life energy, you must use your mind. The part of your mind that you use is what we call your “feeling awareness.”

The problem is that the energy of your mind moves very fast. You can move your mind across the room incredibly quickly. You can look at and think about one corner of the room and then in an instant jump your mind across the room and think about the other corner.

You can’t move your physical body across the room so quickly. You can move your life energy more quickly than your body, but not nearly as fast as your mind.

So if you want to feel your body or life energy, you have to slow your mind down to the speed of your body or life energy. Think of your mind as vibrating at a very high frequency, and your life energy as vibrating at a much lower frequency. In turn, your physical body vibrates even more slowly. For your mind to feel or resonate with these lower frequencies, you have to slow it down and tune in.

For most of us, it’s easier to feel our body or life energy if we are not moving, either physically, energetically, or mentally. The stiller our bodies are and our minds become, the more likely we’ll be able to feel.

When we are moving, it’s a little trickier, because it’s so easy to move our minds ahead of our bodies. We often first think of where we want our bodies or parts of our bodies to be, and then hope that our bodies arrive. When they do, our minds often are still one step ahead, on to the next thing.

To better feel your body or your life energy when you move, instead of “getting ahead of yourself,” as the phrase goes, try letting your body lead and your mind follow. Or try letting your mind “ride” on your body.

Try this simple exercise. Hold your palm in front of your face. Try to feel everything that you can in your palm and fingers, including any life energy you feel in them. Wiggle your fingers if that helps. Now turn your hand very slowly until that your palm faces away from you. Try not to think about where your hand is going; just feel. Let your mind move at the speed that your hand moves. Notice whether you are able to feel more than you usually would doing such a movement.

Try applying this approach to other ways that you move, whether it’s when you walk, stand up, practice exercises, or whatever. Slow your mind down and “occupy” your body and your life energy.

Enjoy.

© 2008 BILL RYAN DBA MOVING TIGER

Sharing A Book – SAK Agent M

SAK AGENT M – SHARING KINDNESS WITH A BOOK

Sharing a book (or the opportunity to get a book) with someone is one of the kindest things we can do!  Secret Agent M of Hilliard, Ohio, did just that.

DATE:
Monday, 16 August 2010

OPERATIVE:
SAK Agent M

LOCATION:
Library
Hilliard, Ohio

TIME:
6:00 p.m.

I am just elated and overjoyed … my heart hasn’t stopped dancing.  I completed my first “official” SAL mission on August 16, 2010, 6:00 p.m., Hilliard, Ohio.

My husband and I brainstormed for ideas to do for a SAK mission.  I thought wouldn’t it be awesome if a person going to pick up an item at the library received a random-act-of-kindness.  An unanticipated nicety that enables the “finder” to feel special, to smile, to inspire them to spread kindness to another, to pay it forward.

I placed $5.00 in a card, with an affirmation and personal note from me:  “There is nothing better on a beautiful day then relaxing with a good book on the banks of a river, in a lounge chair, or under a shade tree.  May this Random Act of Kindness make that come true for you, just because!”

The gift was placed inside of a slot where books are waiting to be picked up by those who have reserved items from the library online.

 

I can’t wait to complete my next mission!

SAK Agent M

Breath, Finding Stability

by Mary Coleman, Yogini

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Our breath. For most of us, we don’t think about our breath until we are laboring to get it. It just is there. Our breath is our life force. Our breath animates us. Our breath refreshes and cleanses us. Our breath means life. We can go without food or water but we cannot go without air.

Our breath can tell us a lot about our emotional state. The practice of mindful breathing helps you learn your pattern and rhythm. When we are stressed just taking three slow, mindful breaths will shift us back into stability.

Recently, I was spending time with a friend who was going through a really stressful experience at work. As she retold the story, her shoulders hiked up towards her ears, she talked very fast and she was angry. Even just retelling the story triggered her body into the stress response. I reminded her to just take a moment to breathe. She smiled and laughed. Then she began slow, mindful and deep breathing. Her shoulders softened, her jaw softened. “Why can’t I remember to do this when I am in the situation?” she asked. This is a great question. Mindful breathing takes practice. We have to turn our awareness to our breath and then acknowledge our emotional state.

What is mindful breathing? Place your hands on your belly, close your eyes. Inhale through your nose – slow and steady within your capacity. When you reach the top of your inhale, exhale just as slowly and steadily as you did with your inhale. You should feel your hands gently rise with your inhale and then feel the belly soften away from the hands with the exhale. Your shoulders should not move. The breath should be supported by your diaphragm (a big muscle below your lungs) which is why you should feel movement in your belly.

Practice this several times a day (as many as you can). This simple act will help you get more stable and grounded. Then, the next time you’re feeling stressed, start to mindfully breathe. You need to practice this every day for it to become a natural reaction for you.

Good breathing and many blessings,
Mary

How Do You Describe Your Legacy?

Whether we like it or not, each day of our life is an etching in the legacy we leave behind. I look at it as a personal logo or print signifying our existence. I asked myself, what is my legacy? Do I take more than I give? Do I cause others pain through my words or actions? Do others feel accepted and loved in my presence? Does my life benefit others?s I cannot help but allow logic to prevail and remind me that our legacy follows us wherever we go, albeit job to job, town to town, country to country, life to death. The more I witness my own transformation and evolution, the more I feel that all those summers spent staying with my Grandmother allowed allowed her legacy to take root in me.

I witnessed my grandmother, Ida Faye (Dempsey) Maynard, live according to her truth. I was fortunate to benefit from her life from the time I was born until adulthood, after which time, her days on this Earth were no more, I saw her simply a a saint (and quite honestly, still do.) I heard her speak no ill will towards anyone. I never witnessed her act out in anger or hate. In fact, I cannot remember a time she did not embrace another person, familiar or not, without a kind word, warm embrace, or heartfelt smile. When she hugged, you could feel love rain down upon you from head to toe.

Looking back, I could never be her, because I am me. But, as mentioned before, it would not surprise me that she willed her legacy to take root in me. Premeditated legacy transference. If that be so, then each day is an opportunity to carry on with her beautiful legacy as my own, passing it forward to other souls by loving unconditionally, giving with no expectations, and sharing the best of one’s self with others.

Tina Robbins, a contributor to the blog, Tiny Buddha, wrote:

Recently a friend asked me what kind of legacy I want to leave for future generations. It was an unexpected question that really got my wheels turning. Usually when people pass away there is a huge focus on the things they owned and who gets what, and the idea of handing down ideas and values was a totally new way to look at it. What if the most important gift we can give our descendants is not a tangible item, but a piece of ourselves?

It seemed revolutionary!

So I started thinking about the things my loved ones (the ones still living and the ones who have passed) have shared with me.

I thought back to the backyard parties my grandparents used to have with friends, food, and music. My grandfather played guitar and sang us children’s songs in Spanish.

My dad’s sisters had been dancers in their youth, and as kids we would play for hours in my grandmother’s attic, trying on their colorful costumes and playing make believe. My mom’s sisters and brothers shared their love of games and books with us.

Some things were passed on and taken to heart. These are the ones that I want to continue as part of my legacy.

My grandparents on both sides demonstrated deeply held faith and never missed church on Sunday. Even at ninety-five my grandmother still gets upset that the family won’t let her walk to church whenever she wants.

My path isn’t the same as theirs, but I hope to inspire a deep connection, with self, loved ones, and with the divine.

There is magic in connection. Take the time to listen. It’s so easy to hurry through life, but it’s over too quickly and there is so much to learn and enjoy when you stop and take in the stories that are shared with you.

The stories of my grandfather bringing home people who needed a meal are family legend, and I have seen my dad fill a bag of groceries from our refrigerator to give to a young mother who was in need.

A few years ago my brother gave his Christmas money to a single father who needed holiday gifts for his kids. And those are just a few examples.

I like to say that generosity runs in my family. I am but one link in a long chain of sharing and lending helping hand to those who were in need.

And what I know is that the energy of giving is extremely powerful, and generous actions will bring you as much blessing as it brings to those you help. I hope to be a good example of generosity in action.

I have vivid memories of all of these things. They have become a part of who I am and I hope they will become part of future generations.

I’ve also learned a few things of my own that I want to pass along.

I hope I can leave others with a belief in the goodness and the magic of the world outside their door. Because I know that there is beauty everywhere, you just need to open your eyes and take it in.

And I want to be a reminder that you should keep going when things get hard. If I learned anything through my own hardships and challenges, it’s that I was stronger than I ever thought.

Going through divorce, financial struggles and bankruptcy, job loss, entrepreneurship, moving to a new state—all challenging—all tested me in ways I never could have imagined. I came out the other side stronger than ever before, and I will again when the next challenge pops up.

I want to remind people not to think about how you will find the strength; instead, just keep moving and the strength will come.

Looking at what I have taken in from others and also what I have learned from my own experiences has been a powerful exploration of who I am and what I hope to leave behind.

And I realized that in order to be that example, in order to pass on these beliefs and values, I have to live them consciously, right now.

Knowing the legacy I want to leave behind helps me stay focused on what I’m doing in the present so that my goals are in line with that legacy. It offers a concrete sense of purpose in choosing what I am giving my energy to.

And the whole concept of legacy can be a deeply powerful way of connecting with others. Looking at your roots, ancestral, blood family, cultural, spiritual, or whatever avenue you choose to explore, connects you to those who have gone before you.

Planning the legacy you are leaving behind connects you to those whose lives you touch, and that they touch, and so on, potentially for generations to come.

I encourage you to take some time and really look at the things you carry on from past generations. See what you need to leave behind, as well as, what you want to carry forward.

 

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