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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Intentions…. what happens to them on the way to action?

Action expresses priorities.
Mohandas Gandhi

Intentions reveal the best of who we would like to be, or how we would best like to act in a situation…
( little clarity here… by saying BEST, best is meant as level of measure … not, best, as in highest moral fiber…). Be it a lifestyle action…(exercise more, save more money, write more…paint less …work more…work less), or a relationship action …(do X for someone…stop doing X to someone) we often start out with the greatest of intentions … but somewhere along way…somewhere, they can get a tad diluted or even completely neglected.
Why is that? We know what we want… we know how we want to perform in a certain way...we acknowledge what we are going to do, what our intentions are...and yet??? Our intentions change?? Did we set too high expectations in the first place? Most likely no…most likely our intentions were not supported by our priorities. At first glance, we might say, “no, I really wanted to do….but … in the way”. More often than not what prevents us from achieving our intentions is current behavior patterns. By allowing something else to take precedent over our intentions, what we often find is our reluctance for change.
By identifying change, (reluctance of) as the source of the impediment we can begin to rewire the flow of thought, conscious and unconscious to be in line with our intentions.
Take for example, exercise, you have an extremely busy lifestyle, work, social obligations and what time is left you prefer to enjoy quietly with family and friends. However you are often tired but you know that you need exercise to feel your best, so you tell yourself you will begin to exercise everyday after work. Now although your intentions are sound and justified, unless you begin an inner dialogue with yourself identifying the needed change ( time spent with family and friends verses time spent exercising) and can convince yourself that the change will be more beneficial to your overall life…as committed to your intention as you believe you are …most likely it will not come to fruition.
For our intentions to yield results we must employ our inner GPS and clearly identify and acknowledge the obstacles, the current behaviors that may impede our success. Then decide if the compensation is worth changing them.
Think of an intention as a new enthusiastic Chairman of the Board and your inner thoughts and behaviors the reluctant “Old Guard”…they have their comfort zone and are quite happy there. To turn the tides you must have their support...and that will be gained through understanding of how things are currently operating then identifying the advantages of the change and show a solid plan on how to implement the change.
So with your next matter the level of intensity make a list of what changes you would need to make in order to complete your intention…(thought changes, lifestyle changes, concrete changes..) look at how the changes will affect you…weigh them and if the payoff from the implementing the intention out weights the results from keeping things as they are…you have a strong chance for success!! Good Luck.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Inspired by Michael Phelps - The Power of Imagination

"Nothing is impossible, with so many people saying it couldn't be done, all it takes is an imagination, and that's something I learned and something that helped me."
Michael Phelps (on winning his eighth gold medal)

Imagination….a gift…a tool… an innate ability…it is what allows us to see what has yet to exist…it’s power can aid us in being limitless or limited in our thoughts and actions…

Why are we so afraid of our we automatically imagine the worst of any given situation? Can we work to redirect…to envision the best of the best. What if when we were faced with a situation and our minds went directly to worst case scenario we merely acknowledged that possibility than allowed our imaginations free reign to explore all of the potential positive outcomes and ways to accomplish them? Many of us have harnessed our imaginations to not only keep us from seeing possible negative possibilities, but from also from seeing the great potential of success, for fear that we will not achieve them and can’t bear to be letdown.

If our thoughts are our reality...can we better deploy our imagination to create our world of choice…to create our life of choice? I believe we can…I believe if we can envision a life of peace…a world of peace, than we can stretch our imaginations and find the solutions needed to take us there.

So action item for today…embrace your imagination…give it the freedom to take you where you want to be. Sit for a moment and indulge in free thought…ask yourself how you would like to live your life…let your mind go…no stopping yourself because “that could never happen” or “you are thinking to grand” let your thoughts just go and enjoy the ride. Life is full of possibilities...and our imaginations are the keys to achieving them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We are ONE

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other".
Mother Teresa

How do we achieve peace…local peace to global peace, how do we work to put an end to any and all injustices inflicted upon mankind?
By understanding on an intellectual level, feeling on an emotional level...believing on a spiritual level that we are not only all equal and deserving of the same rights and responsibilities but even more importantly, much more importantly that we are body of life, one interconnected whole. Pain and injustice against one, is pain and injustice to all man and the suffering felt by one is shared by all. We must strive to cure each part to be whole.

Cultural differences, like many things that we don’t understand can be frightening and threatening. That is why at every opportunity when we are being introduced to persons of varying faiths, nationalities or lifestyles we must endeavor to learn about each other …through that learning we will begin to recognize our similarities and appreciate our differences.

The goal is in no way to try to change peoples traditions or practices, we should not strive to be a melting pot were all of our difference blend together to an unrecognizable state. We must instead see our selves as a beautiful mosaic... where it is the individuality of each piece that creats the splender and the serength of the whole.

As globalization begins to blur our borders our international bonds are being forged more by interdependence and convenience than by true humanitarian goals. The unfortunate result is often seen in in our reluctance to engage in areas of the world where the need may be great, yet we perceive no economic value. What we must come to understand is that the greatest value is not purely economic it is in protecting all mankind.

In our quest for global peace and the end of grave injustices it is easy to engage in rhetoric criticizing those in power yet taking no personal responsibility for the state of affairs in the world today.
One could easily debate that since they wielded little power over those “in charge” they were in fact powerless to affect any change. This is not true, each of us possesses not only the power to affect peaceful changes but are completely responsible to do so. We are it…we are one…we are the them.. we are the government.. we are the world and we are one...collectively and individually responsible for the world.
So today, open your heart, use your head and
Bring Peace not pain to all you encounter...Love like hate is contagious.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thorn Removers or Thorn Cultivators

A friend and I happened to be walking by a patch of beautiful wildflowers when I started picking a few. He pulled out a pocket knife and asked it I wanted him to cut them, I said no, I was fine just snapping the stalks. Until I saw some beach roses that happen to be unbelievable thorny, I asked if he would please clip me one as I couldn’t touch it due to all of the sharp thorns. As he clipped I walked on and continued picking a few here and there. When we arrived at the car he handed me the roses, a minute later he asked if I had noticed that he had also cut off all the thorns. I said I hadn’t, but I’m sure once back at the office when I was arranging them I would have. He laughed and knowing me so well said “and you would have thought“, “I’m so lucky, of all the thorny stems I got one with out any thorns” I laughed because he was right, I would have thought that.
The next day when walking in the same spot I chuckled, thinking about the story, then it occurred to me …yes I would have thought that and yes, I would have been correct, I was so lucky to get a thorn free stem. How the stem became thorn free was irrelevant. The fact was I was given a beautiful rose that I could hold pain free, unlike the other roses on the bush.
Often we overlook and don't give credit to our most powerful gifts, the people in our lives, the Thorn Removers, those people that many times, quietly make our lives a more pleasant place. Thorn Removers can be complete strangers or members of our inner circle, often they remove obstacles with out us ever even knowing were there in the first place. Thorn Removers are the opposite of Thorn Cultivators those who create challenging issues in our lives.
Let us work to identify and celebrate the Thorn Removers in our lives and strive to emulate them in the lives of others.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

FEAR..Why do we feel compelled to foster a fear based society?

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Marcus Aurelius:

Why do we feel compelled to foster a fear based society? We allowed the government to promote fear as a way to try to bolster patriotism. We use fear to motivate and discipline our youths. If we know that it is fear that shackles us to a life of mediocrity, a life self limited, why do we continually embrace fear?
It has been said that fear is one of our innate emotions and a valuable tool for survival…with this I have no argument. Initial fear response can heighten all of our senses giving us an acute awareness of potentially dangerous situations.
It is the consistent state of fear that many of us live in that brings detrimental results…to both our physical as well as mental health. Fear can become disease like…contagious, fast growing affecting all aspects of our lives. Living in this state also begins to cloud our ability to clearly see/determine truly dangerous situations.
So how do we recognize/differentiate initial fear as a true warning and the irrational fear that cripples us. How do we accept one as the valuable tool it is and protect ourselves from the other. By being aware...looking at the situation with clarity and honesty, by evaluating outcomes. Is this a situation that truly gives us reason to fear for our safety or our we being held prisoner by baseless thoughts?
If the latter, it is only by facing the fear, that we can free ourselves from it. Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen in this situation“...imagine that outcome, even if it is totally devastating… look at it, then look at what happens after...what are your options to deal with what comes next...remember you are just looking at it hypothetically don’t let fear stop you from looking at the situation. By not looking at it you are in no way keeping it from happening. You are practicing owning the situation not letting fear own it or you. What will happen will happen whether we worry or not, but we will be much healther without the worry and fear.
Once a new client came in my office, as we were talking he kept jumping up to look out he window...finally I asked him what was the matter...he said he was afraid that his car (brand new BMW) was going to get hit. I asked if worrying and constant checking was going to it protected it?

Fear of change is one of man’s greatest fears… change of career, home, relationship, etc, when faced with theses changes the following questions are very helpful in finding clarity in your thoughts.
Thinking about your present situation answer these questions:
1) Where am I now?
2) What is good about it/ what is working here?
3) What do I have to lose if I no longer _____ here?
4) If I stay here what is the best I can expect?
5) Are my emotional, physical, financial, spiritual needs being what extent?
6) What are the external forces holding me here?
Thinking about the future answer these questions:
7) Where do I think I want to_____?
8) What is good about it/ why would it work for me ?
9) How will my life change?
10) What is the best thing that could come out of this? Can I handle that?
11) What is the worst thing? Can I handle that?
12) If I didn’t have to worry about_______ would I make the change?
13) Do I anticipate emotional, physical, financial, spiritual needs be what extent?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Choice...what does that mean? Is it a freedom to relish or a responsibility to bear? accepting the freedom of though and action that choice affords us, we are also accepting the responsibility for the outcome (or lack of) due to a decision.
For some the fear of making the wrong decision is so great, that they would rather relinquish their decision making powers than be held accountable. In doing so they are surrendering their greatest power.

It is that power of choice that grants us our greatest freedom The freedom to choose what we want out of life and the freedom to make the choices that support that goal. The freedom to think. The freedom to believe what we want to believe. The freedom to choose who we want to be. The freedom to choose how we will interpret the actions of others, and most importantly how we will allow those actions to affect us mentally and how we will react to those actions. We are free to choose what we will bring to our relationships and what we will take away from them. We are given the opportunity of choice every day, every hour, every minute…prior to each thought or action we take we have the ability to choose what that action or thought will be, and post every encounter with external influences we have the ability to choose our responses.

Often times we haven’t consciously relinquish our ability to choose, we have just forgotten our power to exercise it and we respond with instinct. It is our default system that submit our responses. Unfortunately, those initial instincts don’t always yield the most desired results. Whether it is an innate instinct like our “Fight or Flight’ instinct, or reacting to a situation using old information instead of seeing the situation with clarity and freshness…being blindly reactive, either can hamper the outcome .
What do we want out of relationships… relationships with ourselves, with relationships? Do we desire healthy, compassionate, safe, peaceful ones? Are we acting in a way as to support that objective?
For many of us, daily interactions with others afford us countless opportunities to choose if we will be agents of peace. The opportunities present themselves with all from total strangers to those in our inner circle, our work is to allow our desire for healthy, peaceful relationships and outcomes to dictate our actions.

If we strive to be agents of PEACE, then we must work to be proactive as opposed to reactive is dealing with others. In being proactive we learn to take pause and be cognizant of the fact that bringing PEACE is the outcome we desire. That may be as simple as a smile or allowing someone to go in front of us in traffic, or as challenging as stopping before reacting in the same “knee jerk reaction” when confronted repeatedly with aggressive behavior by the same offender. If PEACE truly is our quest, we must keep that in the forefront of our minds and remembering, that the most frequent and important choices we make is how we will engage with others and ourselves.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Clarity...mental clarity, clarity of thought, clarity of vision...paramount to achiving inner peace.


“That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.”
Meredith Monk

Without being fully cognizant of one current state of being as well as the events that have brought us there, one cannot begin to heal past wounds.
It is like attempting to chart a course knowing the destination but not the starting coordinates.
It is from where that first step initiates that determines the direction of the journey. Our inner journey is no different, if we do not honestly and completely look at ourselves, our total selves, our inner selves, our outer selves, our wounds, our hurts, our disappointments, both those perpetrated by ourselves as well as by others, we cannot expect to move forward.

To achieve clarity of mind is to step back and really look inside our hearts and minds, like opening a suitcase take out each wound, and really look at it, not wallow in it, just look at it and accept it. Whether it is yours to own or not..irreverent, it is a part of you... but not the whole of you, unless of course you allow it to be.
Only from this state of clarity and acceptance can your journey truly begin.

Why do we hold on to pain... pain inflicted by others or self imposed?

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned"


Do we believe that we are punishing those that caused the hurt by holding on to the pain? Or do we believe there is redemption in suffering? Have we so blurred the borders of pain and pleasure that we can’t differentiate between the two? Do we so teeter on the brink of an emotional void that the presence of any feeling is a welcome reminder that we are still alive? Do we believe that pleasure must be born of pain, without out one the other can not exist? Or does one derive pleasure from pain?

Whatever the motivation, many of us not only hold on to the pain, we revisit the wounds, ensuring that they stay fresh and open…like picking at a scab, as the body works to heal us, we deliberately work to impede that healing.

Holding on to this pain and suffering is keeping us on a self imposed tether line, allowing us to venture only so far, only so far on our road to inner peace and personal evolvement. Again it comes back to LOVE, self LOVE.

When it is self LOVE that governs our thoughts and actions, that demands the highest and best quality of physical, spiritual and emotional life, then we have no option other than forgiveness.

It is in forgiveness, forgiveness of ourselves and others that we will find our inner peace.

Our power and responsibility to create peace.

"Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

To work toward personal, interpersonal and global peace we must subscribe to the two following statements:

1) We are all personally and collectively responsible for creating peace.
2) We all have the ability to create peace, in our hearts, in our relationships and globally.

To talk about being responsible for peace, we must first acknowledge that we are responsible for creating or restoring our own inner peace. Requesting that we take responsibility for our peace in no way underscores any pain or suffering we have endured. For those that have been personally persecuted or have first hand lay witness to a life of injustice and pain, finding that inner peace may be a far more daunting task.

Or perhaps not…perhaps its equally hard for just us...the ordinary people…the ones who’s wins and losses can’t be found in any book or on the news, those of us who suffer silently from the benign chill of the world rather than the Artic frost, to turn a loving eye on ourselves and others.

I would never attempt to rate one’s suffering against another’s, nor begin to judge the affect of ones life on any human heart. We are all wired differently, my thought is just that suffering on any level can harden ones heart and we need to work to soften it.

Going on the assumption that we have all been hurt, even if we have lived a life entirely supported by the most loving and nurturing people we can not walk away unscathed by the events that have unfolded in our lifetimes. We all need to heal… heal our hearts and embrace peace.

So if much of the pain we feel has been cause by others, how do we take responsibility for our peace? By understanding that although we may have little control over events that happen to us, we do posses complete control over how we wish to allow those events to effect us.

We are “Captains of our souls, Masters of our fate”. How we see the world and our place in it is entirely up to us. We are the stewards of our souls and of our hearts. In many ways, for some ,granting someone else the power to form our lives relives us of any responsibility to the outcome. It allows us full admission in the blame game.

Although living in a controlled environment one may endure a life of pain and frustration, for some that pain and frustration may be alleviated by embracing the role of victim. Not to say there are not true victims, every minute, everyday, there are victims, victims of violent crimes, victims of natural disasters, as well as victims of circumstance, and not to say that the wounds from theses acts are not real, or they do not bleed. They are real, they do bleed, they bleed from our skin and they bleed into our hearts and our souls. But the power to stop the bleed is inside of us.

The power to govern our hearts and souls is ours alone, one cannot have access to the inner sanctions of our hearts and souls without our permission. We must believe that the true power is the power inside us is ours, ours alone to protect or give away.

How do we achive that?

If it is global peace we strive for…the end of injustices the world over, we must begin the campaign by first conquering the demons in our own hearts and minds and embracing our own PEACE.
Accomplished by?
... How? By looking with clarity and love at our inner workings, while knowing that we alone are responsible for our inner peace as we alone posses the power that dictates our reactions to all exterior forces that challenge and threaten us.
By practicing forgiveness, forgiveness with not only those who have harmed us but ourselves as well…many times it is personal forgiveness that is the hardest to grant.
Then with peace in our hearts we must allow conscious thought and decision-making to dictate our actions towards others.
Remembering that WE have control over how we will CHOOSE to respond in any situation…the decision as to whether we will bring PEACE or pain is entirely ours.
Only then will true peace begin to spill into our interpersonal relationships, which will then begin an accelerating and rippling effect on society at large.

"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could
have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
Rabbi Israel Salanter