If you follow anyone other than your Self, you will surely get lost

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers or elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason,
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live it.
The Buddha, in the Kalama Sutra

I find the advice above from the Buddha rather amazing given that it was spoken over 2,500 years ago. Nowadays with the internet and the incredible amount of information that is available to us, his guidance is even more essential.

An old adage goes: “No shoe fits all sizes.” So, too, no teaching or teacher is the proper fit for everyone. I have learned over the years to practice discernment and really go within to make sure that whatever teacher or teaching I am engaging with really rings true for me.

Initially, of course, I take the time to study and research the teacher or teachings, but I have learned to not primarily use my mind and to not do an intellectual analysis to determine what’s true for me. What I have learned to do, instead, is to quiet my mind, go into the stillness, and just “feel into” whether this is right for me at this time in my evolution. And then if it feels right, I accept it, explore it, and live it.

It’s not a one-time thing. I am constantly growing and changing, so I periodically go within to check again to see whether a particular teaching, teacher, or practice still “feels” right.

I am not saying it’s best to keep shopping around and never settle on anything. Not at all! What I am saying is to always go within to make sure you are still on the right path, namely your own path and not anyone else’s.

A path is not a static experience. It is something you continue to travel on; it is a journey. Yes, at times you stop to rest, but then you get up and continue moving through an ever-changing landscape. Your life, your dreams, and your beliefs are constantly evolving!

Every teacher/teaching is a step up your mountain of mastery. But each step leads to another step. No step is an end in itself.

One thing I love to repeat over and over in my classes is: “If you follow anyone other than your Self, you will surely get lost.”

You must be true to yourself. The only way to do that and to know your path and yourself is to regularly go within and listen. Then you will stay on your path.

So, take some time every day to go within. That’s how you’ll find and follow your Self, and learn to know and believe in your Self.

Believing the impossible

“One can’t believe impossible things,” Alice said.
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

What is possible? Whatever you believe to be possible is what is possible! The impossible is impossible because you believe it to be so.

We create our reality by virtue of what we believe. Within each one of us is enormous potential, but often we do not manifest it or even realize it is there. The Latin root for the word “potential” and for “potency” is the same.

Within each of us is such great potency or power or potential to create, but because we think small, we create and experience small. The Universe/God is infinite potential waiting to be actualized. We, through our thoughts and feelings, can draw in this infinite potential and make it become manifest. This drawing in of that infinite potential via our thoughts is precisely what enables us to be co-creators made in his/her Image.

But if your thoughts and beliefs about what is possible for you are small, you will never dream or create or experience “big.” Why not get out of the old box and dream and think big, since you dream and think all the time anyhow? Think big, not small, and all things become possible.

Take a few minutes each day in meditation to observe how big or small your thoughts and dreams are and then adjust in whatever way feels right. Unfetter your sense of the possible.

You can have anything you want, if you will give up the belief that you can’t have it.

Albert Einstein

Your future self is watching you: Live today’s dream, not yesterday’s

If you do not go within, you go without.

Neale Donald Walsch

Remember to look within. For it is only there that one can really find who one truly is and what is most important.

Take some time on a regular basis to slow down and go within. Suspend for a while what you think you should be doing and instead just listen to the Silence within and allow its voice to speak to you.

Slowing down and taking inventory of who you are and where you are headed is so, so important. The word inventory comes from a Latin word that means “to find, discover, ascertain.” So, by slowing down your overly active thinking mind, you can go within and, in the Quiet, discover your Self rather than constantly getting caught up in your ego mind’s never-ending, repetitive prattle.

The word invent comes from the same Latin root as inventory. By going in and listening within, you can re-invent yourself.

So, take a few deep breaths now, quiet your mind, and go within and gently and without too much focus ask, “What dream am I living now? Am I living the dream I had five years ago or my dream today? Can I be happy and fulfilled living yesterday’s dream or someone else’s dream? What is my dream today?”

Gently allow these questions or similar ones to float out there and then just sit back and listen. Do not seek your mind’s ruminations, just be still and sense, see, and feel whatever impressions, feelings, or images arise. Just “be” with them and with your Self.

You will be surprised at what comes up for you if you leave your mind behind. Don’t strain or “try,” just allow the process to come to you. Be open and receptive. In time, as you practice this, a clearer and clearer vision will come to you of yourself.

Actually, as you practice this, you learn that being conscious of who you are is a moment-to-moment process – one  where you learn to “feel in” first rather than “think” first. It is a process whereby you lose your mind and come to your senses.

It can be a bit of a stretch, if you haven’t tried it before, to ignore your mind and, instead, listen first to your heart/soul or your intuition/feelings, but it’s a good stretch—a healthy stretch. I suggest you try it for a while because by doing so, you will find your Self and your present dream. The dream your future self has been patiently waiting to reveal to you.

The final frontier is the journey within.

Life is a trip, so where are you going?

Practice the art of choosing who to be, not what to do

We live in a very fast-paced world. Information, opportunities, and challenges are expanding exponentially every day. Life is full, to say the least! Too often, we experience life like a series of breathless, unconscious, one-after-the-other chase scenes in a fast-paced movie. But I believe life is meant to be a series of vibrant still shots or landscapes, something to savor and enter into, with just enough madcap scenarios to add some spice.

Most of us, when we wake up in the morning, are immediately overwhelmed with a seemingly endless “to do” list. Instead, I propose that we start off our day by creating an exquisite, rich, high-quality “to be” list.

As I see it, it’s not what you want to do today that’s most important; it’s what you want to be, or feel, or experience. What qualities of life do you want to primarily participate in today? Peace, balance, love, courage, happiness, joy, humor, harmony, confidence, etc.? Or do you really want to go into a default mode and experience their opposites?

Why not begin your day by choosing the quality you would like to experience that day? Then, as the day progresses, create various practices that will help you to remember and reinforce that quality so that your day is filled with what is really most important to you and with what will bring you the greatest lasting value and joy.

For instance, if you choose peacefulness as the most important “to be” quality for a particular day, it will be with peacefulness that you’ll want to begin and complete every activity and interaction that day. In other words, you let the quality you choose to experience be more important than frantically getting through your “to do” list.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and with whomever you are doing it, always ask yourself, “How can this interaction be permeated with the quality I have chosen today?”

How to practice

Here’s a technique for this. Do it when you first wake up and often throughout the day to help you to remember and focus on the quality you’ve chosen:

Take seven slow, conscious breaths. Breathe in peace on the inhalation and breathe out anxiety on the exhalation. As you breathe in, also imagine that you are breathing in the quality that you have chosen for that day; see and feel it permeating your whole body-mind, and then, on the exhalation, see and feel its opposite being expelled. Really feel it and see it as you breathe in and out deeply and gently. [See below for a link to a guided meditation to help you practice this technique.]

Trust that as you learn to be consistent with focusing on your quality, you’ll be surprised. Besides the pleasure of experiencing the positive quality, you’ll find that whatever is most important on your daily “to do” lists is being accomplished more easily and effectively.

Note that this practice is an art. Don’t be discouraged if at times you just can’t seem to be able to keep your chosen quality in focus. In time you will get better at it. In time, as well, you will learn that losing your focus doesn’t really matter! Just notice that you have lost it, have a good laugh at yourself, give yourself a break, and then when you have calmed down, gently come back to practicing the quality you chose.

To recap: When you wake up in the morning, begin with your “to be” list, and then let the quality that you have chosen permeate your whole day. To help you stay focused, do the breathing exercise I described above as often as you can remember to. Do it while you are driving your car, standing in line, waiting for someone, etc. Also, you might find it helpful to post notes with your quality for the day where’ll you’ll be sure to see them. You can even write the quality on the palm of your hand or automate a message on your computer.

Just imagine, after a year of practicing this, how rich and full a tapestry of qualities and experiences you will have woven into the fabric of your life. I know many people who have turned their lives around by practicing this simple approach.

It is possible! Give yourself a chance; you deserve it. You won’t always do it perfectly, but it’s never about being perfect, is it? Remember, you can always, every day, in every moment choose “to be” filled with a wondrous joy, peace, confidence, love, etc. It is a choice, and it’s yours.You are a human being, not a human doing! Begin your day by putting first things first: claim your mastery and step into and experience who youwant “to be”today. Slow down, and you’ll get there fast.

Learn ‘not doing’ and everything will fall into place.

Lao Tsu
you’ve got to come out of the
measurable doing universe
into the immeasurable house of being

e.e. cummings

Click here to download…  a guided meditation that leads you in this practice of Creating the Experiences You Want.

You are your most significant other: Spend time with yourself

Learning to meditate, quiet my mind, and touch into the deep place of Peace and Embrace within my Self is the greatest gift I have ever received.

Meditation teaches the art of self-mastery, of learning to experience each moment with calm awareness and compassion. It helps us learn not to identify with our incessant thoughts and feelings, but instead to choose to identify with the profound peace that dwells within us.

This place of peace is available to all of us. And we all have a natural ability to find it. No one ever provided us with an owner’s manual for our minds, so most of us are not aware of this incredible potential within us. It’s by meditating that we develop our own “owner’s manual.”

Meditation also offers us an opportunity to sit quietly and, in the sacred Silence, come to “Know Thy Self. ” In coming to Know Thy Self, one is better able to appreciate and love oneself and others.

By meditating,  we can connect at the deepest level with our soul and our higher self, and tap into our highest potentials. We can check in with that part of us that accesses great wisdom and creativity and is connected to infinite love, peace, and potential.

We learn how to identify or interact with that peaceful center  by not getting caught up in our fears, worries, anxieties, responsibilities, etc. We do it by quieting our minds and opening our hearts. This allows that peace at the center of our being to flow into our awareness unimpeded by all our thoughts and feelings.

When we are not all “clogged up” with thoughts and feelings, when we empty ourselves of them, we allow stillness and peace to flow in and fill us up. We then enter a state of joy, peace, and love that is profound and liberating. This state is where we can eavesdrop on God.

Meditation is an antidote for the over-emphasis on “doing” and “thinking” that is so prevalent today. As Deepak Chopra said, we are meant to be human “beings” and not human “doings” or human “thinkings.”

We are meant to spend time with ourselves often, so  we can get to know who we truly are. We can’t do this if we are always on the go, always doing and thinking and never having any sacred quiet time.

The goal is inner simplicity – maintaining a quiet mind in the midst of a busy life. Why? Because a tense mind creates a tense body and a stressed-out life; a relaxed mind creates a relaxed, healthy body and a happy life.  Numerous scientific studies have shown the direct effects of stress on illness and decreased longevity. Meditation helps put us into a new relationship with our body, thoughts and feelings – a healthy one.

You can’t benefit from meditation just by reading about it. You must practice.  

It all comes down to breathing

Many meditation techniques can help quiet the mind and open us to a true, lasting peace. Observing the breath is one of the most accessible and powerful methods. It is used by beginners and masters alike, and is often the first technique taught.  To help you start, try this 5-minute Breath Meditation practice. It’s a simple one you can use  anytime during the day.  

Note that you can also do this exercise with your eyes open, such as while you’re standing in a line, waiting for a bus or an appointment, sitting in a meeting where you don’t have to be fully focused, etc.. After just a few minutes of doing this you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how balanced, relaxed, and grounded you feel.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced meditator, you can constantly use your breath as an ongoing frame of reference or “ground” for your being. Whenever you get lost in compulsive thinking or in doing too much, come back to an awareness of your breath. Your breath is always in the present and if you focus your attention on it, it will bring you peace.

We waste an enormous amount of our precious energy worrying about the future and reliving the past. Use your breath to come back to the present and revive your energies. And then use these energies to create joy and success in the present and to plant seeds for even greater joy in the future. This is the way to peace of mind. There is nothing more grounding and centering than your breath.  Peace of mind is but a breath away.

Meditation takes practice, but everyone can do it. It is not easy at first to learn how to calm our minds, focus our thoughts, and concentrate on our inner worlds, but with patience and practice one can experience an incredible leap forward in one’s quality of life.

As Rousseau wrote:

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”