|Synonyms:||cultivation – evolution – improvement – unfolding|
I find “growth” is often an uncomfortable expedition in life. A safari into the jungles of the unknown, where anxiety and worry growls behind canopies of accumulated doubts and fears. I have run from it, tried to hide from it, avoid it, denied it, but it wasn’t until I just stopped and acknowledged it that it become easier to let go and just go with the flow. Fortified in acceptance and courage, I have come to trust that the uneasiness of growing pains leads me to a discovery of greater awareness: mentally, physically and spiritually. Change and growth leads me to uncover layers of my existence. Growth cultivates living. Without it, what remains?
Below is a terrific article that so wonderfully illustrates how growth is necessary to take us to the next level; nothing that lives can stay the same. Life is all about growth and change.
Striving for ‘Sweet Discomfort’
Not pain, but not where you’re used to being.
Recently, I took a three-hour yoga workshop in the afternoon — that’s right: three hours — and the instructor introduced an interesting concept. There’s a difference, she said, between pain and what she called “sweet discomfort.”
Sweet discomfort. I love that image.
Sweet discomfort, she said, is the point at which you’re aware that you’re stretching beyond your capabilities. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not where you’re used to being.
Sweet discomfort is something I’ve experienced many times, but because I fear it will lead to real pain, I sometimes turn back. The result?
No growth. No increased flexibility. No moving to the next level.
I certainly experienced sweet discomfort when I was learning to eat a healthier diet and to challenge my body with exercise. There are body image moments of sweet discomfort, too. Maybe it’s wearing a form-fitting dress after years of hiding. Or walking down the beach in a new swimsuit. Or looking — really looking — in the mirror.
None of these things cause pain. But they can sometimes cause that uncomfortable feeling.
Experiencing the “sweet discomfort” — and knowing that a new way of being or of looking at ourselves exists on the other side — is something to strive for. Whenever I have that “I want to turn back” feeling, I’ll forever stop to ask myself: Is what I’m feeling pain?
Or simply sweet discomfort?
Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.~Morgan Freeman
There’s No Escaping the Manuscript Behind My Brow
Behind my brow, there’s a virtual manuscript that my mind starts to read and attach to when I’m “trying” to be still. Sometimes during those few minutes before sleep when I’m laying down with my eyes closed or when I’m sitting in silence to meditate, there’s a full editorial meeting involving checklists, drama, and fictitious scenarios at work that my mind plays out. It loves the activity, the intrigue, the thought movement. My brain can flip through the pages with vigor.
Sometimes the manuscript turns into a full fledged movie, and my brain gets sucked in like a kid in front of a television. Even as this is happening, I’m observing like a producer, and another voice sneaks in the back door and says, “hey we should be meditating here.”
Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with mind-made movies that inevitably result in anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt. As life is an ever evolving work in progress, I still experience this now and again. If I’m not careful to bring my awareness back to my breath, back to the moment, I can go down a “Watership Down” sized rabbit hole that leaves me exhausted with a headache. I have the subtle crease in my brow from years of furrowing to show for it.
What’s a yogini to do? Accept and surrender. Accept with open arms who you are, mental checklists and all, and listen. Surrender to the present moment without expectation or interpretation, and sit with the feelings that you’re experiencing. Without closing your eyes, scrunching your brow and trying to disappear and avoid the feelings and activity, be with it. Skip the escape and surrender.
If thoughts come in, imagine that they are clouds floating in and out of your mind independent of you. You are not your thoughts. You are not the manuscript. -a.c.y.
Can you relate? Stillness is a blessed gift that when it is gone it is surely missed. I further find “stillness” so accurately described in an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest, as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart, of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to pass for what he is, and to speak from his character, and not from his tongue, and which evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand, and become wisdom, and virtue, and power, and beauty. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. Only by the vision of that Wisdom can the horoscope of the ages be read, and by falling back on our better thoughts, by yielding to the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man, we can know what it saith. Every man’s words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold! their speech shall be lyrical, and sweet, and universal as the rising of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if I may not use sacred, to indicate the heaven of this deity, and to report what hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of the Highest Law.
(from ‘Essays, First Series , “The Over-Soul,”‘ Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, novelist and dramatist.
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed
Don’t trust me to show you beauty
When beauty may only turn to rust
If you need somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Trust yourself to know the way that will prove true in the end
Trust yourself to find the path where there is no if and when
Don’t trust me to show you the truth
When the truth may only be ashes and dust
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Well, you’re on your own, you always were
In a land of wolves and thieves
Don’t put your hope in ungodly man
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes.
And you won’t be disappointed when vain people let you down
And look not for answers where no answers can be found
Don’t trust me to show you love
When my love may be only lust
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
Copyright © 1985 by Special Rider Music
|Synonyms:||anchor – essence – pillar – root – substance|
Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. ~Sigmund Freud
LIFE OUTSIDE MY COMPUTER
(by Michelle Maynard-Koenig)
Life outside my computer
is different, you see,
providing an opportunity
to inhale fresh air and breathe.
To engage in conversation,
face to face, side by side,
with people coming and going
and even passerbys.
Pay a visit to Mother Nature,
admire the beauty she radiates;
brushstrokes of trees, animals, flowers,
moon, stars, sky, and sun rays.
Life passes too quickly
for me to not take part,
to witness all I can
before it’s my time to depart.
Life outside my computer
is different, you see,
it’s the cornerstone of living
amid a universal masterpiece.
|Synonyms:||clarifier – illuminator – optimist - unraveler|
Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.
― Lao Tzu
At 46 years of age, I look into the mirror and what do I see? I see with amazement, and immense gratitude, the evolution from a PROBLEMator into a SOLUTIONator. With the realignment of focus, discovery of balance, and awareness of the saturation of universal love inside and out, I see I am accompanied by …
less fear and more courage
less deception and more honesty
less chaos and more peace
less “must-haves” and more “letting go”
less later and more now
less judgment and more acceptance
less existing and more living
less arrogance and more humility
less “my way is the only way” and more “your way may be a possibilitay!”
gusto – relish – vitality
I recently came across the words of Henry Rollins, an actor, author, musician, and poet, that got me thinking about the components of zest in my life. Rollins shared, ‘[t]here are so many hammocks to catch you if you fall, so many laws to keep you from experience. All these cities I have been in the last few weeks make me fully understand the cozy, stifling state in which most people pass through life. I don’t want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. … People will walk by and say, “Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.” I will turn and say to them “It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn’t even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!” And maybe, the passers by will drop a coin into my cup.’
Rollins’ words, to say the least, are intriguing. I found quite a bit of similarity between his perception and mine. Zest, as I apply it to my life, is what shakes me and awakens me: diversity, love, nature, and the incredibly entertaining human spirit.
The great Robert Frost explained zest in life as “the pleasure of taking pains.” To engage with life as it unfolds with its myriad of challenges and delights, instead of running from, hiding, masking, denying the truth of the sum of experiences (both smooth and chaotic) that accompany “me,” “myself,” and “I.” Could it be that the meaning of life is to give life meaning?
Another of my favorite poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, dared me through his words to “live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” and that is exactly the kind of zest I choose to savor from the rind of life … even if, on occasion, it is sour as lemons!
core – essentiality – life – quintessence
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” ~Rachel Carson
We arrive in this world as infants with an awe of wonderment of all that is around. Momentarily, life is simple and being simply “is.” Could it be that beingness is just the clear awareness of everything and nothing? Could it be that beingness is neither fragmented, nor partial, but completely whole as it is meant to be?
Some of us embrace our beingness more,
and some of us struggle with it as a chore.
Some of us intentionally seek it, explore it.
Some of us do the opposite and run from or avoid it.
For instance …
What I have witnessed when children are pushed to be over-BE-ers. They often become adults with anxiety disorders, depression, etc., who become dependent upon medications and chemicals to mask the internal havoc that exists within. The innate happiness they arrived in the world with is zapped from their storehouse of beingness. If they don’t exceed their parents’, friends’ expectations, they lose their sense of identity of purpose and Self; their self-worth becomes dependent on the opinions of others instead of the true belief within.
What I have witnessed when children are pushed to be under-BE-ers. They often become adults with anxiety disorders, depression, etc., who become dependent upon medications and chemicals to mask the internal havoc that exists within. The innate happiness they arrived in the world with is zapped from their storehouse of beingness. If they are not recognized, regarded, nurtured, and shown the magnificence of their existence, they lose their sense of esteem and identity, the purpose of Self; their self-worth becomes dependent on the opinions of others instead of the true belief within.
What I have witnessed when children are simply shown love, unconditionally, and are provided a clear, unprejudiced reflection of the harmony of beingness that exists in each of us when we enter this world as babes. They often become adults who:
- love self and others, unconditionally
- give, without expectations
- receive, with gratitude
- marvel at the beauty in the simple things
- share in the glory of success
- live in harmony, not perfection
May you find the child-like wonderment of all that you are, all that is around you, and the joy of life. Consider: “A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” (Quote from Do The Work by Steven Pressfield)
accord – agreement – peace – symmetry – unity
Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.~Yehudi Menuhin
I recently read an article by Rev. Marty Troyer regarding facing conflict in your day to day life in a harmonious way. I cringe at facing conflict. I truly do feel I am allergic to it. The more I evolve the easier it gets, but I still would rather bungee off a cliff than face conflict!
What do I classify as conflict? Conflict for me is going against the natural grain of my existence and all that entails. I strive to live a life of integrity (not perfection) and to speak my truth. Sometimes doing so creates conflict or tension. If I stay centered in harmony, and not allow fear of conflict throw me off balance, I am able to behave in ways that are congruent with my thoughts, words and actions. I am able to own and take responsibility for my choices. To make choices based on my own beliefs and reasoning, and not on what others believe I should think, say, or do.
Yes, conflict certainly is challenging, and often it is tempting to deny it, run away from it, elude it, bury it, stuff it., etc. As Rev. Troyer further states in his article, “Nothing about dealing with conflict comes natural … but conflict itself is remarkably normal, ordinary, and natural. It’s everywhere, because I suppose, we’re everywhere.”
What I have found, however, is that the most substantial lessons I have learned in life come of, about, or through conflict. I also realize that conflict can be faced with harmony as long as my thoughts, words and actions are aligned.
|Synonyms:||affirmative – happy – optimist – resilient – trailblazer|
“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.” ~Norman Vincent Peale
I recently came across a WONDERFUL article written by Heather Shuttleworth regarding the how-to in transforming a negative attitude into a positive one. I pass it forward to you. May you find some (if not all) of the constructive energy in her words beneficial to you and your life!
Improving Your “Positivitude”
Positivitude is a catchy term for positive attitude. At the heart of positivitude and optimism are the beliefs that problems are temporary, and that outright self-blame is wholly unproductive. Our initial reactions to negative situations are often irrational and unrealistic, and luckily there are strategies we can employ to decrease pessimistic self-criticism.
Psychologist Martin Seligman has developed a method for improving positivitude called the ABCDEs. His research indicates that the strategy can be successfully applied in almost any situation, for just about any individual. Give the ABCDEs a try the next time you run into a problem; you may just find it a healthier, more effective way to respond.
is for Adversity. In this first step, you’ll identify what’s frustrating you. For instance, let’s say you are denied a salary promotion.
is for Beliefs. In this step, think about your pessimistic responses to the issue. For instance, you might tell yourself that you didn’t approach the situation with enough self-confidence, or that the work you’re doing is not enough to earn higher pay, or you may even convince yourself that you must not be as deserving of a raise as others.
is for Consequences. At this point, you’ll name the consequences of your beliefs. Maybe you decide you’ll never ask for another raise again to avoid the nasty feeling of self-doubt and failure it caused within you.
is for Dispute. Next, you’ll develop an argument against those negative thoughts and examine the evidence contradicting them. Seligman has even instructed folks to treat this step as if you’re coming up with a case against some outside individual who has said these nasty things about you. For example, you might conclude that your lack of confidence was due to the fact that maybe it isn’t the right time to be asking for a raise, but that it was a learning experience you can grow from in the future. You may also conclude that you are absolutely deserving and doing quality work that could be compensated at a higher rate of pay, but that your employer is just not in a position financially to be offering increased salaries.
is for Empowerment. Finally, after realizing your positivitude there comes a sense of empowerment. With this last step, you might decide that you’ll take more pride in yourself and vow to reassess the situation in the future and do some self-advocacy by asking for that promotion again once the time is right.
Over time, and with enough practice, you will train yourself to automatically follow this process. Research shows that this problem solving technique is sustainable long-term, and many participants in the study were still using it years later. Hopefully you find the same kind of success improving your own positivitude and share these methods with others.
honesty – probity – rectitude – sincerity – wholeness
With integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. With fear and guilt removed you are free to be and do your best. ~ Zig Ziglar
My life is quite simple. Imperfect, yes, but oh, so, simple. In fact, I can whittle it down to a nice equation:
Integrity + Harmony x Love = Happiness
So, what exactly is INTEGRITY? I suppose that can only be defined by each person. For me, I find the definition in the wonderful teaching of Mahatma Ghandi when he said “happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” In fact, INTEGRITY can be applied not only within, but in all aspects of life: business, government, nature, etc.
You may not see the word “integrity” in Ghandi’s quote, but to me INTEGRITY is the soundness of the whole of I; the elements of which ebb and flow into and out of each other as the waves on an ocean. When one element loses its congruency, then INTEGRITYof the whole of I is compromised.
What does INTEGRITY mean to you?