Monday, December 31, 2012

No Resolutions this Year. Take Time to Dream Instead.

Go confident in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

                                                                                     Henry David Thoreau

So, I am musing on the new year -- it is just hours away.  For some, it has already arrived with the rising of the new sun.  I just saw a post from a friend in Australia of the first sunrise of 2013 and it is glorious.  Of course, it is also summer there.  Here it is a bit grey as the sun is beginning its early descent in the winter sky.  But glorious, nevertheless, a luminious pink that is spreading its tendrils among the clouds over the river.

As I was musing, my thoughts naturally turned to resolutions. 

I have mixed feelings about New Year's resoultions.  I understand what we try to do with them, but I find them a frustrating exercise at best.  Usually, we try to do the same thing year after year -- the very thing we never seem to be able to do, whether it is losing weight or exericising more or being smarter about our money.  And year after year we make a list, probably saying to ourselves, "Well...maybe this year..."  Hardly a great start to something we really want to do.  Sometimes I wonder if the things we "resolve" to do are actually the things of which our dreams are made.  Or whether they are simply the things we think we should do, for whatever reason, that we never seem to be able to do -- probably because we are not really very commmitted to them in the first place.

Winter is a difficult time for me to find motivation.  The grey days and the cold make it very hard for me to feel positive.  I am more of a sunny, warm day kind of person -- and the amount of sun really does make a difference to my temperament.  Reading posts from my friends in Australia and New Zealand, I am noticing a lot more positivity.  And I find myself saying to myself, "Self -- you really need to get it together.  What is wrong with you?"  And somewhere deep within a whisper, "How about a nice walk in the sun?  Give me a little of that and I'll give you some feel good."  Perhaps the deep mid-winter is not the best time to try to fund the motivation needed to make the changes that will help our dreams to manifest. 

Nevertheless, the New Year is upon us and it is the ultimate time of fresh starts.  Great opportunity. New Beginnings. The time that there is quiet activity going on deep in the Earth that prepares her for her bursting forth in spring.  Even if everything on the surface around us seems dead, we know that there is invisible work going on deep within the Earth, and our annual practice of bringing in evergreens is a reminder that times that feel dead, ironically, are filled with life and living things. Actually, considering the Earth cycles, it is a great time to begin to do the deep inner work that is needed for change and manifestation.

I'm just not sure that resolutions are the way to go.

A friend posted a note the other day -- here is what she said:

"Please consider taking just a half hour per day during this next week to clarify your wishes and dreams for the coming year.  You will be amazed at what visualization, commitment, and clarity will do for manifesting what you truly want."

And there it is. Forget the resolutions. Dream instead. Make a wish. Create a vision for your life.  Where do you see yourself at the end of 2013?  Or in the middle, or a month from now? What does this new year look like?  What is the image you see in your mind as you think about where you want to be?  Does it excite you?  Is it compelling?  Does it lift your spirits and tease out your passion? 

Where are you now?  Where do you want to be?  What will it take to get there?  What is your next step? 

The thing that usually keeps us from our dreams and most compelling visions are the limiting beliefs that are formed by a lifetime of unconscious, negative thoughts.  They wend their way through our neural networks like old, deep paths in the forest. And we keep walking upon them.  It takes our considered attention to change these thoughts and turn around these limiting beliefs to be able to manifest something different for ourselves. I like what Henry David Thoreau said around this -- 

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. 

As we dream new dreams and create compelling visions for our lives, and as we believe that we can make them happen, we naturally do the things that will get us there.  Instead of a list of resolutions for the New Year, we can create a list of new ways of thinking and begin to create new pathways out of which new ways of living can unfold.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Glorious New Form Emerging from the Old

When you come to the end of all that you know, you must believe in one of two things:  there will be earth upon which to stand, or you will be given wings...
                                                                                 Author Unknown
I have always been fascinated by cicada husks. There's something very death and resurrection about them for me. There's something about the way they are broken open that sparks my imagination and always causes me to stop for a moment, notice, and think.
When we come across them they feel a bit like a mystery, reminding us to leave behind our old forms. Here's the why: the glorious new form emerges from the old...

I am writing today, inspired by a photograph I came across the other day. It has simply captured me.  I remember as a little girl, finding the dry husks of cicadas on trees and feeling like I had come across one of life's great mysteries. It took me a long time to figure out what this creature might be.  It obviously was not alive, or was no longer alive, but I also did not remember ever seeing anything that looked like it in my forays in the woods. I could never figure out how those slender legs could support them. I loved the way they looked like they were crawling up the tree, and I wondered what had happened to stop them in their tracks.

As I looked more closely at them, I noticed how they were broken open. And I thought, "Ah, here indeed is a mystery!  What was in there, and what came out?"  I remember coming home one day with my small hands filled with them and my mom relating them to familiar summer evening insect sounds. And, of course, to the prismatic jewel-toned bodies I occasionally saw flying by or lying dead on the sidewalk. 

Periodically throughout my life I have come across the dry, broken open husks of cicadas. They have always seemed to be a message from nature for me.  What must be released so that something new can emerge? 

The timing often has been uncanny. And so often I will have found myself being broken open in some way -- with some new insight, some new understanding, some new knowledge, some new condition in life that has caused me to leave something behind in order to embrace something new.

The mystery of the cicada has continued to unfold for me.  Some years ago I learned that they live underground in the cool, dark earth developing, and it is only when they are ready to emerge in their new form that they make their way to the surface, and the light, to break open and emerge, leave their old forms behind and try their wings for the first time. 

When I came across this photograph I was stunned. How can such a large, juicy, and beautiful creature be contained in so small and dry a husk?  Look at those huge, wide-open eyes and how they are looking straight ahead at the new world into which she is emerging.  Look how straight and tall the cicada is as he emerges? I imagine the cicada flying away, not giving the old form another thought as she lives fully into the new.

All of this is instinctual for the cicada -- a normal part of its life-cycle. The whole point of its life cycle. Death and Rebirth. Death and Resurrection. Shedding what no longer serves and leaving it behind to embrace the new. For us, this may not feel like a natural process even though it is every bit as natural to us as it is to the cicada.  And as with every other issue related to being powerful in our lives, we must be aware around our thinking and feelings so that we allow our natural cycles of awakening, growth, and development. Allow the glorious new form emerging from the old.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Power, Vulnerability, and the Storms of Life

It has been a long time since I have written.  Contending a bit with my own sense of personal power.  Hitting life transitions can challenge us sometimes beyond what we think is our ability to cope.  This, of course, is ridiculous.  As human beings, we are simply amazing.  But sometimes, when we are pulled by our challenges we may forget this.  And when we do, we may find ourselves in a bit of a funk, or even slipping into the abyss. 

Trying to figure out where my principles of personal power fit in here.  So easy to write about them. So easy to identify them and point to them when one is feeling strong and empowered.  The test comes when the storm strikes and we experience devastation not unlike what we here on the East Coast experienced with Hurricane Sandy about a month ago.  Funny how the metaphoric storm hit me just around the time the actual one did.  So many people I've spoken with here have reported experiencing something similar.  This storm was very personal for many of us.

Stepping back from the intensity and in the cool light of day, there is so much to notice.

It's funny. During, and in the aftermath, of the storm I so resisted the statement, "I lost my power."  I preferred saying that I'd lost my services. But life can be a bit of a trickster, and I realize that the vulnerability that I felt while in the storm and in its aftermath had precisely that effect for me.  There was more, it seems, than just things to notice -- there were great and powerful teachings.  Around power and vulnerability.

I live on the Delaware River in eastern Pennsylvania and it is such a dynamic landscape.  The Delaware is a wide and fast-flowing river.  And the day the storm hit, the river was high, perhaps even already cresting its banks.  There are big, beautiful trees all around.  About an hour before the sun went down, we lost our electricity.  And at about that time, the winds began to rise.  By the time it was dark, the gale-force winds had come and I found myself completely alone, cut off from every other human being on earth, in utter darkness and listening to howling winds, cracking tree limbs, falling trees, and debris flying around and striking the building and the windows.  The wild force of Nature was absolutely unleashed and I was little more than its witness.  

I was prepared for the storm, as prepared as you can be.  Yet I found myself pulled into thoughts like, "Where should I sleep?  What if while I am asleep in my bed a tree falls and crushes the building?  Yet if I sleep on the couch, what if a large tree limb crashes through the window and crushes me while I am asleep?"  And I realized that there really was nowhere that was safe to be in my home in the storm. Not really.  Vulnerability.  

But somehow I found myself wrapping myself up in a cozy blanket and laying down on my couch, being lulled to sleep by the song in the winds.  That was at about 9 o'clock.  With no services, there's not much to do in the dark but go to sleep.  And strangely, I slept deeply and well.  I fell asleep trusting that I would be fine, whatever happened.  Power.  

I woke, suddenly, to the sound of sheer silence at 3 a.m.  That was the time they'd forecast the eye of the storm coming right over us.  I waited and waited.  I was listening for the winds to begin to howl again.  But they never did.  I fell in and out of sleep the rest of the night, not quite able to come back to the same wakefulness I'd felt at 3 a.m.  But at one point, it looked to me as if the sky was lightening -- and it was still eerily quiet.  I got up, threw open the door, and realized the storm had passed.  That deep, deep darkness was easing and what remained was just the signs of the devastation brought by the wild winds.  

It would be another week before all our services were restored.  I lived at Starbucks along with a whole lot of other people for the next week, as an unexpected community formed and we all connected with each other as we were trying to stay connected with our normal lives as much as we could.  It was a strange week. It did not quite feel real.  And when our services were restored and things should have felt "normal", that did not quite feel real either.  The experience of the storm had changed something for me.  And I am not quite sure, still, what that is.  

I read an article today that spoke about transitional states of consciousness following personal or collective disaster and the void that is created as our normal markers disappear. During such times we have the opportunity to create a new reality for ourselves.  The author warns readers to have a care about what markers we replace the old ones with.  That's what I am thinking about now.  When the storms come and things change, how do we cope with the new reality of the void created by the change as well as the challenge and the opportunity of creating a new reality for ourselves? 

No answers around this.  Just creating space to think about it.   


Friday, October 5, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Voicing Yourself

This map we've been creating through the landscape around personal power and living healthy, empowered lives has taken us deep into our own core wounds and out again through how we think and feel around not just the wounds, but around everything in life.  We've looked down to see the foundation upon which our feet are planted and have looked all around to determine whether we are in balance, and within to find our center.  We've seen how all our relationships are touched by our thinking and feelings, and that our reality is, literally, created by the ways we think and look at the world, our lives, our relationships, and our spiritual connection.  We've explored the boundaries that are important to respect -- both ours and those of others. All of these factors help us to engage deeply with the world around us in deeply authentic ways.  Quite a bit of this work has been internal process -- the fourth principle focuses on bringing the internal out into the world.

The fourth principle of personal power is Voicing the Self

The ways in which we voice ourselves is the primary way through which others know us. It forms the framework around how we engage the world around us.  Voicing ourselves uses the voice, certainly, but it also involves the non-verbal cues that form 85% of how we are received by others when we communicate.  This is important to remember because our words and our non-verbal cues need to align for our message to be projected authentically.  There are lots of examples to demonstrate this.  Someone asks us to do something we really don't want to do, but we're trying to be accommodating so we say, "Sure," but our hesitation, demeanor, and expression powerfully communicates that we'd rather say, "No."  Or someone tells us a wonderful piece of news, say, about a new job, a dream job, and we say, "That's great. Congratulations." but what we're actually feeling is jealousy because we might be toiling away in an unsatisfying job, so our body language and expression might seem less than enthusiastic.  People pick up our non-verbal cues and trust those more than our words.  We are deeply intuitive creatures when we are paying attention and over millions of years have developed a non-verbal language that either affirms or undermines the words we speak.

When people are listening to politicians, religious leaders, potential life partners, children, they are looking beyond the words to communicate the truth of what is being said.  Anyone who has been a parent knows when their children are being less than truthful -- it's not the words that children say, but the facial expressions, how they are holding their bodies, whether they make eye contact, and so many other forms of non-verbal communication that reveal so much more than words do.  In the recent presidential debate, commentators made note about much more than what President Obama or Governor Romney said, but how they were saying it.  They asked, "Why didn't he make eye contact?" or "Did you notice how much more confident [this one] seemed over [the other]?"  The fact-checkers were busily at work too, but the non-verbal cues were noticed and reported.  Interrogators have been trained to notice the non-verbal cues that betray falsehood -- a well-trained interrogator is better than a lie-detector machine.  

I mention all of this merely to point to the fact that our thoughts and feelings translate into body reactions that communicate how we are thinking and feeling, regardless of the words we are using to communicate our message.  When we are passionate about something, people can see it and feel it.  When we are feeling low, people can see it and feel it.  Being an amazing word-smith is helpful in communicating, but it is not our main tool for effectiveness in voicing ourselves.  Mental and emotional self-mastery is the chief tool in being able to voice the Self well.  And when our words are aligned with our true thoughts and feelings, we can become effective and powerful communicators. 

When we voice ourselves effectively, we communicate that we are powerful beings and people pay attention to us and listen as we speak. This enables movement and possibility for attaining the outcomes we are working toward.  Standing in our power enables confidence -- crucial to the ability to voice ourselves.  It is the outer expression of inner health and well-being and a sense of our own personal power.

The ability to voice the Self is always life-giving and is never abusive to another.  We know we are in integrity with this principle when we check in around our communication and are able to discern that how we voice ourselves is for the highest good.  Not just for ourselves, but also for others and for the world.  A good indicator of this is compassion. 

Is our communication compassionate, even when (especially when) we are setting a boundary?  Is there respect in our communication, for ourselves and for others?  Does our communication acknowledge the needs of others as well as our own needs?  (It is important here to be able to distinguish between needs and wants.) Are we being authentic, true to ourselves and to the greatest good in ways that reflect self-mastery, in the areas of our thinking and emotions?  And, finally, are we in integrity with the commitments we have made?  Are we communicating and acting with integrity? 

Checking in around all these factors enables accountability with ourselves that demonstrates that something outside of us does not need to hold us to a standard of accountability.  This is true power. Our power is reflected in the world through voicing ourselves authentically.  And this empowers our engagement with the world in all areas of life and in our relationships.    

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Attention to Boundaries

Connecting with your foundation and moving into balance are core to living from your spiritual center. We are able to move more gracefully through life and to manage the unhelpful thoughts and toxic emotion that can undermine our personal power.  As we live more fully from our center, our relationships improve as we find that we are living more authentically and beginning to resist projecting our internalized wounds onto others.  We feel more fully ourselves and can begin to recognize both healthy and unhealthy behaviors in others.  This recognition is important -- not from a perspective of judgment, but from a perspective of living compassionately.  As we begin to learn about out own projections, as well as those others project onto us, we can relax around the trigger points that arise within us and can begin to look at ourselves, and others, with more compassion.  This breaks us open -- in good and life-giving ways -- and we find that we are more open and accepting of ourselves and of others.  It also provides valuable information to us -- as we learn more about ourselves and the ways we sabotage and undermine ourselves and our relationships.  When we can look honestly at ourselves with non-judgment and compassion, a whole new kind of freedom opens up for us.  All of this is part of being human. It is part of our light as well as our darkness. 

So often, what we most appreciate about ourselves is our light.  But our darkness is equally valuable.  It is the great teacher and the place where all possibility begins.  Many ancient cultures, when expressing their Creation myths, agree that life begins in darkness. It is the place of pure potential, the moment before creation, the silence before the speech, the darkness before the coming of the light.  This is a great metaphor for our experience. It is also the reality of our experience.  We learn the most valuable lessons about ourselves by exploring our darkness.  We step into our greatest courage by being willing to see our shadow as well as our light. We step into our greatest power by being willing to embrace the shadow and hold onto ourselves as we move through our transformations. But so often we fear our shadow so much that we never venture into this realm.

What is so frightening about the shadow is that it is the landscape of our rejected parts.  These are the parts of ourselves that get shoved into the shadowy realms of the Soul when we experience the negative projections of others, especially of our parents, teachers, and other significant authority figures and systems during our younger years.  The irony is, the shadow often holds our greatest gifts.  They live there in a state of virtual limbo, or as unconscious motivation that often undermines us, until we are able to shed some light on the rejected parts, see their value, reclaim them, and make them allies rather than enemies.  Another way to look at it is, this undermining clues us in to what needs to be seen with compassion rather than with judgment, named, claimed, and made our own.  Working with these rejected parts is like planting seeds that will eventually lead to abundant harvest as we continue to grow and nurture this new growth.

The third principle of personal power is Attention to Boundaries

A boundary is the understanding of where you end and another person begins.  It has to do with awareness around our own wounds and with being able to recognize the projections of others.  With knowing what is yours and what is not.  When we are conscious at this level, we are more able to establish and maintain boundaries that lessen the possibility that we will be controlled by something outside of ourselves. This control usually manifests as emotional reaction to something projected onto us by another person, group, or structure OR as a cascade of thoughts that undermine our own sense of Self. 
Healthy boundaries are permeable.  They are not fixed and isolating.  They give us freedom to dance gracefully through life and enable healthy, life-giving relationships. They are respectful to the Self and to the Other.  A major threat to our boundaries is projection, our own and that of others. 
A projection is usually a rejected part of another person that we receive as an accusation about ourselves. What can happen over time is we may begin to accept these accusations as personal reality.  If we are told over and over again by a selfish friend, for example, that we are selfish, we may begin to confuse nurturing the self with being selfish.  If we are told over and over again by a demanding parent with low self-esteem that we are not enough, we may begin to confuse our normal, human limitations with feeling like we can never satisfy reasonable expectations, even when the expectations are unreasonable.  If we are told over and over again that we are controlling by a controlling partner, we may begin to confuse the right to have agency in our own lives with a self-understanding that we are control-freaks. I am not saying here that we are perfect and don't need to work on ourselves, but each and every one of us is just right when we are living authentically, and the authentic self is just that -- the self that is authentic to the individual.  There is nothing wrong with you, even if you have some work to do on yourself.     

The simplest way to establish a boundary is to say, "No."

"No, I am not selfish for wanting to nurture myself."  "No, I am not deficient simply because I refuse to give myself away."  "No, I am not controlling because I exercise agency in my own life."  "No, there is nothing wrong with me because I am being my authentic self."  "No, I am not a bad person because I am not perfect. Sure, I have some work to do on myself -- and it's okay -- it is part of what it means to be human."

And by saying, "Yes."

"Yes, I will nurture my need for some time by myself even if that disappoints my friend."  "Yes, I will give myself a break today and accept that my efforts are not only good enough, but good."   "Yes, I will live authentically, even if something about me triggers another person's wound.  That is their work to do, not mine."  "Yes, I will see the good in myself and be loving toward myself."

Another kind of projection that undermines us and sabotages our relationships is our own projections onto others.  The idea is the same as I describe for projections onto us, except that this time we are projecting our rejected parts onto others.  This can lead to isolation in relationships as we are rejected by someone with healthy boundaries or as we drain the energy of others whose boundaries are also unhealthy and who leave without knowing why but knowing that they must.  Worse, yet, are relationships where both people are not consciously aware of their wounds and do continual mental, spiritual, and emotional violence to each other and never understand why the relationship is failing.  Only awareness around our internalized wounds and conscious self-work will enable us to establish respectful, yet permeable, boundaries. 

Establishing these kinds of boundaries within the Self and within our relationships opens the way to freedom.  It brings limits that actually increase our personal freedom and our personal power, while encouraging authentic intimacy, as we give ourselves permission to be authentic and to require those with whom we are in relationship to respect us and the limits we set within relationships.  All relationships are negotiated, and so people who are healthy in their thinking and emotions navigate this challenging process of mutually life-giving boundary setting with the understanding that there is give and take in relationships.

How do we do this in a relationship?  We talk to each other, share our thoughts and feelings authentically, listen deeply to ourselves and to others, are willing to give as well as to receive.  To show respect as well as to require it. What we are looking for in relationships is creating balance so that we can protect ourselves while letting others in. Core to our ability to establish and maintain effective boundaries is the ability to voice ourselves.  This is the fourth principle of personal power, which we will discuss in the next post.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Spiritual Connection

You may be reeling from your reflections around the first principle of power, Awareness of Wound.  It may feel impossible to acknowledge that difficulties in life come from how we react to outer circumstances, rather than from the outer circumstances themselves. You might even not believe this is so. Maybe you attribute your difficulties to a run of "bad luck" or to the "ill-wishing" of others. Someone once told me that our entire reality is created by the way we think.  The Huna Kapua put it this way -- "The world is what you think it is."  I had a hard time believing this at first, and sometimes I still do, especially when my outer circumstances are so challenging that I can't come up with a way to think positively around them.  And even when we are self-aware around wound, we have bad days. This is just part of life. Even the great spiritual master Ram Dass contends with this. He once said that after all his years on a spiritual path his demons haven't budged a bit.  I don't think he was saying the inner wound is impossible to live with or will defeat us -- I think he was speaking to the need for tenacity around our own ability and willingness to work with it and to come to peace with it.  The core wound is never healed, even though we are always healing.  Healing and empowering are on-going processes and they work in layers -- like peeling back an onion. 

If you are feeling resistance, sit with it awhile and try to discern where this is coming from. Notice what emerges. Sometimes it comes from wanting to have something or someone to blame for where we are in life.  We may have tried everything we can think of to change our circumstances, to feel differently about our lives, or to figure out what is not working and we feel stymied. Other times it comes from feeling pressure around having to succeed or to prove ourselves, and we pile so much pressure on that it is hard to think straight (which, of course, leads to feelings that might not be helpful to us).  Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break and time to regroup.  And we need another kind of human technology to do this -- nurturing our spirituality.

The second principle of personal power is Spiritual Connection.

This technology of the Soul revolves around nurturing our spirituality, which enables us to be grounded and centered. Being grounded means that we have a foundation. Being centered means that we are well-balanced. We are less likely to fall into unhealthy thought patterns and toxic emotions when we are grounded and centered.  These are spiritual qualities. They promote the feeling of being calm, even when everything around us feels like it is going haywire.

We need to be grounded and centered in our spirit for the other three parts of the Self to be healthy.  Being grounded and centered enables us to be calm and to think clearly.

Medical research has demonstrated a number of things that point to the importance of spiritual health and to the mind-body connection. Two minutes of meditation a day can improve heart health by 55% -- just two minutes.  Medical research has demonstrated that our thought patterns become wired into our brains through the establishment of neural pathways.  These pathways remain static unless we actively work to change them.  And medical research has demonstrated also that we can rewire our neural pathways and can think, feel, and act differently.  This requires intentional work on our part to change how we think.

We have brain tissue throughout our bodies.  This means that how we think (which affects how we feel and the actions and decisions that derive from this) has a profound effect on our bodies' operations and overall health.  There is even research that demonstrates that the spirit, the animating energetic force within us, has a small measure of mass.  It's real. There have been studies that show that vast parts of the brain the average person rarely uses are activated when we are actively engaging in a spiritual practice.  People can be healed from serious illness when others pray for them -- the energy of prayer is force that enables movement and change.  The work of indigenous healers and energy workers can have profound effect on health conditions, such as chronic pain and depression.  People who are active in spiritual communities live longer than those who are not. Faith is a factor in quality of life. 

Everything is connected.  Our thoughts, our feelings, our spirits, our bodies -- all of these parts of the Self are interconnected and, when working well together in healthy ways, enable us to make decisions from a place of personal power, rather than simply reacting to the things outside of ourselves that might trigger our inner wounds and unconscious reactions.  When our inner wounds and unconscious reactions are triggered and we act out of them, we are not in our power, but are controlled by something other than our personal power attained through self-mastery.  This can leave us feeling, literally, tossed about like a small boat on an ocean in a storm.

This brings to mind a story in the gospels where Jesus and his disciples are in a small boat on the Sea of Galilee.  A great storm comes out of nowhere while Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat.  His disciples panic.  Even though they are with Jesus in the moment -- can see, hear, and touch him, and even though they have seen him perform great signs and wonders, in their panic they lose their foundation and their balance for a moment.  They go to him, wake him up and ask if he plans to let them perish in the storm.  He is stunned at their reaction and asks them, "Have you no faith?"  As each of them contends with the inner struggle around this question, Jesus stills the storm and everything is calm once again.  They move forward toward their destination -- solid ground.

Like all the great stories of the different traditions, this story has a valuable teaching for us if we are willing to listen and to grapple with it. When we lose our foundation and are out of balance, we are able to reconnect within our spirits with what is solid for us.  We can literally awaken spiritual connection. This brings balance and we are able to move forward toward whatever it is we are trying to reach.  Faith in something beyond ourselves -- in power greater than ourselves, one that empowers our own personal power --  enables us to connect once again with the foundation that brings balance to our lives.  And this enables us to think and to feel differently about our lives and about our ability to reach our goals, whatever they may be. 

There is an interactive relationship between thoughts, feelings, and spiritual health.  It is difficult to find our spiritual center when our thoughts and feelings are raging out of control AND it is difficult to quiet our minds and calm our feelings when we are not grounded and spiritually centered.  We have to work all three of these parts of the Self in order to find balance.  And this inner dance has a profound effect on our physical health and our levels of physical well-being and physical pain.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - First Principles

It's helpful to know where you are going and it's helpful to have a map to get there.  These principles are like a map in that they offer landmarks for the journey.  They also point us in the direction that will take us to our destination, even if the roads we take are different. I will be highlighting four principles -- the list may not be exhaustive, but it is a great beginning.  Undoubtedly, you will find more as you move through your own journey.  But these four are what I would dare say are common to all empowered people.  Some of them are obviously supportive, while others help us to get out of our own way.  Even those, ultimately, are supportive. They all require both inner and outer work.  And some of them take a lot of work.  Each person is different, so you may find that some are easier for you than they are for others.  What may seem impossible to you may feel tremendously simple to another.  And I will offer another bit of guidance -- some of this stuff is tricky.  You may think you have it down, and then you may also find at times something will trigger something in you that feels more powerful than you are.  When these moments come, take a deep breath and press on.

Being powerful does not mean you are perfect.  Powerful people make mistakes and trip themselves up at times. Powerful people are just that...power-full.  They have the willingness and the intention to discover and to live into their higher selves, and they use the tools at their disposal and their inner drives to keep themselves from collapsing into unhelpful thought patterns and toxic emotions that can undermine them.  They are aware of energy and how powerful energy is.  They understand that they can create their own reality through self-mastery and by directing this powerful energy to create the outcomes they are looking for.  This inner work eventually leads to improved outer circumstances, whatever that may look like.  They understand that expectations can be a trap that can lead to self-destruction and that a willingness to notice what is emerging in the moment is the true indicator of healthy and life-giving self-direction.  They are curious and always listening, always willing to learn.

The first principle of personal power is Awareness of Wound.

Each of us has a deep core-level wound.  And when we are not aware of our wound, we can become triggered around it in ways that undermine and sabotage us. Sometimes our core-level wound controls everything -- how we hear things, how we see things, how we relate to others, whether or not we are willing to be open to learning new things. 

This wounding usually happens to us early in childhood and becomes part of the fabric of our Soul.  When we are children, we have limited understanding about life and about the projections of others, which may be the foundation of this wound.  And since each person is unique, we will have been wounded in some way that is unique to us and to our life experience.

Where this throws us into crisis is how we interact with every person and every situation we meet from then on.  Our wound becomes internalized and an unconscious motivator in all our relationships until we grow up and learn how to get conscious around our wound and its effects.

The wound we carry whispers in our ears constantly, trying to limit us -- especially around opportunity and risk taking.  Its job in our psyche is to keep us safe and in control of our outer circumstances.  But this is illusion -- being controlled by our wound never leads to safety and usually brings us to greater harm.  It knows where we are vulnerable and it is powerful.  Control, also, is an illusion.  The only real control we have is over ourselves.

Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung said, "There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." 

This kind of consciousness enables us to harness ourselves and to attain thought patterns and emotional control that promote mental and emotional health.

We are complex beings -- we have a physical body, an emotional body, a mental body, and a spiritual body.  These four energies make up the whole person.  They all have to be working in concert for us to be able to master ourselves and to stand in our power.

We need to be able to control our thoughts so that unhelpful thinking patterns do not control us.  We need to be able to control our emotions, which are fed by the ways we think, in order to be able to communicate (and to act) well and effectively.  A Huna Kapua principle reminds us -- energy goes where attention flows.  How we think and what we feel matter.

Awareness around wound is critical to our ability to focus our attention in healthy and empowered ways, unencumbered by the unconscious motivation that derives its energy from an internalized psychological, emotional, or spiritual wound.

Emotional control and healthy thought patterns are the basic human technologies of powerful living, which at its core has to do with being grounded and centered. These technologies of the Soul are powered by spirituality -- however you connect with that.  We will talk about spiritual connection in the next post, for that is the second principle of personal power.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Becoming a Person of Power - Tools and Technologies of the Soul

In my own search for becoming powerful I discovered a few things -- mainly through my own experience and by being companioned and helped by some "safe people" along the way, people who helped me to make sense of my experience.  My own stories are not important to share here as I discuss first principles, but the feelings associated with them may be, as well as the process that these feelings catalyzed.

Several life experiences provoked two very uncomfortable feelings for me -- powerlessness and the feeling that I was at someone else's mercy.

These feelings caused a shift in me that I would express as, "Then, I hit my line."

This shift led to what I would describe as a cascade.  Something welled up in me and I knew, at the very core of my being, that I had to be in control of myself (self-mastery), even if I had no control over anything else. 

This epiphany is the beginning of power.

So, the process that led me to my own personal power can be described this way --

provocation, shift, cascade, epiphany, consciousness, and, finally, self-mastery.

The first four elements of the process were internal responses that led to self-awareness.  The final two required work on my part, both internal and external work.  Self-awareness is the tipping point in the process.  It is also the place of choice.  Do I stay where I am, even with new awareness?  Or do I move forward, go deeper, do the work that will bring me beyond self-awareness and into consciousness?  And, then, do I embark on the journey and do the work required for self-mastery? 

So, let's talk about power. What is power? 

Power is force that enables movement. 
Power is force that drives movement. 
Power creates possibility. 

Force is what happens on the inside. 
It is the catalyst.

Movement is what happens on the outside. 
It is the consequence. 

For the most part, force -- the provocation, shift, cascade, and epiphany elements in the process of personal empowerment are internal processes.  Consciousness and self-mastery, while requiring internal work, manifest on the outside and create movement in your life -- they are the consequences of force.

It's important to understand the relationship between force and movement...between the catalyst and the consequence.

You can have all the skills, talents, tools, and technology in the world, and there are more tools and technologies now than ever before at our disposal.  But if you don't cultivate the inner tools and technologies, the tools and technologies of the Soul -- everything else is meaningless.  You can put the tools and technologies of the Soul into service to empower your life so that you can use the more mundane, practical tools and technology to attain the outcomes you want and reach your goals.  These tools and technologies of the Soul enable us to stand in our power through profound self-awareness and consciousness.

With self-awareness and consciousness come choice and with choice comes power -- force that enables movement and creates possibility. 

In the next pieces of the discussion I will share what I have come to discover are the Principles of Personal Power.  I'm going to give them to you one at a time so you can ponder, reflect, journal, and create enough space within to really take them in and work with them.  Think of it as space for cultivation of what might be the most important work of your life and, if you feel resonant and inspired around this work, give yourself the gift of time to manifest a deeper level of personal empowerment.

I offer more tools and inspiration on my poetry and education page - Awakened Spirit - on Facebook, to assist you in your journey.  I invite you to visit the page and explore images, poetry, and teachings that can help catalyze your own journey as you awaken to the magnificence of your Soul and empower your journey through the landscape of your fractured-expanding-healing Self.