A Spring Awakening

dream-spring-2012-sunrise-ii_2560x1600_96737As Spring grows nearer, it seems to become just a little more painful to wait for that moment when we can step into the day and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. The anticipation of the moment that the Earth wakes up again is so delicious, but so uncomfortable. As we watch the ground thaw and touches of color reappear, it awakens a part of us. We can breathe deeper, wake up earlier, smile bigger. We share the Earth’s renewal.

Rebirth and transformation occurs all through our lives. It is necessary to go through periods of uncomfortable change so we can grow toward the path that we came into this life to walk. One of my favorite quotes about rebirth is “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, this would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli.

For those of us on a self-proclaimed path of spiritual development, you may be familiar with the term “dark night of the soul.” It is the moment where the framework of your life as you know it collapses. Your attachments to your identity fall away and you are left stripped of everything you knew to be “true” for you. Eckhart Tolle describes it as, “… a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.  Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level.  The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies.  Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.”

This is a moment often described by the saying, “It is darkest before the dawn.” While submerged in this time of darkness we come closer to our Truth, our essence of being. We begin to look for something bigger than ourselves to bring purpose to this time of grief. The things that are most important in life become clear. We are in fact dying in a sense so something new can be reborn. Our survival of those low points in our life are what makes life so intensely beautiful. How could you know true joy and wholeness if you have not experienced these times of darkness? Isn’t it amazing that in a time of such confusion and loss, that we can experience true clarity?

Just as the delicate crocus faces the challenge every year to push through the icy ground, it does it with strength and courage because it knows at the end of this painful transformation and journey it will get to feel the warmth of the sun on its petals.

This is the perfect time of year to reconsider your place in this life. Are you living each day on autopilot, not truly feeling or seeing the world around you? Do you connect with passion or purpose within the roles you play? Often the fear of pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone prevents us from discovering our Soul Purpose. We know it will “hurt” in some way so we avoid the growth.

The choice is yours….stay in a permanent slumber under ground OR follow the path of the gentle Crocus and take the challenge to push toward the Sun. You will survive the journey and as a result you will thrive.

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Living “On Purpose”- 3 Steps to How You Can Start Right Now!

woman-reaching-for-starI am sure that you have had a time when you have said, “Everything happens for a reason” to yourself, or had someone else say it to you. I also bet that in 95% of those cases you happened to be looking for this Divine Reason because Life took a turn in an unexpected or undesired direction. Why is this? Well, because if Life was meeting our expectations all of the time, we would never stop to question it!  It is the times when the result is different from our expectations that we begin to wonder “why”. It is in the asking of the “why” that we can begin to see our various paths of “reason” or “purpose” appear in front of us.

As frustrating as these introspective times can be, they are the times that are ripe with purpose. Purpose is the thing we are all seeking, is it not? One of the great and timeless questions of Man is “What is my Life’s purpose?” Well, believe it or not, you are being given guidance and answers to this question each and everyday! Why bother asking “Why” if you aren’t going to do anything with the knowledge you receive?

Situation of transition and change can be uncomfortable. The thought that there is purpose in everything that occurs can be a great way to give our selves permission to release the angst or built up energy around an event that may have had an outcome that didn’t meet our expectations.  However, how many of us take this to the next level and actually create a path based on that reason or purpose? How many of us just shrug and leave it to Fate?

 

So, how do we begin to use these times to our advantage and begin to Live on Purpose?

 

REFLECTION – DIRECTION – PURPOSE CONNECTION

 

STEP ONE: Reflection: Reframe the situation and find Paths of Purpose

This first step is not an unfamiliar one. We have all had times where we are steeped in the analysis of our lives. This is also the point where instead of putting that purpose into motion, we can easily shrug it off as Fate and go right back to the old patterns and programming that got us here in the first place. So, instead of bypassing all of the information that you are being given through this analysis of potential “reasons”, map out all the possibilities that come up for you and write them down. There are NO wrong answers. There could be many potential “purposes” for a shift in your life, but no matter how many potential paths or purposes come up for you, they all have one VERY important thing in common……..for whatever reason, CHANGE is needed at this point in your life, and you have been given the CHOICE to start showing up differently and living on purpose.

STEP TWO: Direction: Go with your Gut and Make a Choice

Once those paths are laid out in front of us, we now get to choose which one feels right. This step could be the most difficult of the three because it requires us to see Truth and listen to our heart. We can come up against the big four letter word here: FEAR. There is a wonderful Zen proverb that goes, “The obstacle is the path.” Most of the time the path that is wrought with Fear has the biggest reward at the end. Fear arises because there is something about this path that is so valuable to you that you are actually afraid to lose it before you have even started. So, this is your moment….will you make a conscious choice toward living on purpose, or a fear-based choice toward old patterns? This step may take some time to move through, and that’s ok! At the point where you begin to feel “stuck” in this step, take some time to really break things down and try some things that can get you moving again. Do some research on your Path of Purpose, create a Pro/Con list, do a Visual Map of a potential Action Plan, talk with a professional coach.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, take heart in the fact that any energy focused on your Path of Purpose is well spent! This new focus is about getting happy and finding a lifestyle that supports that, so the choices that you are making will reflect this purpose.

STEP THREE: Purpose Connection- Align your Actions with your Purpose

Believe it or not, within Step 2 you have already begun to integrate Living on Purpose! When you begin to take action, no matter how small the step, you are manifesting your new path. You are choosing to show up as the new version of you who is dedicating to creating happiness for yourself. The more choices you make each day to take action that reflects this path, the more you are Living on Purpose! Before you know it, this becomes a way of life, a shift that becomes as unconscious as breathing. Instead of focusing on the Doing things to perpetrate the new path, you gradually ease into a state of Being each day that reflects your Purpose. You have become your purpose just by Being and showing up in happiness. You are now consciously and energetically connected to your Purpose, hence you are Living on Purpose.

 

If you are a living energy pattern of your purpose, what energy are you going to attract into your life? More abundance that supports your purpose! That is law- Energy attracts like Energy.

Embarking on a journey of change can be filled with uncertainty, and our Ego’s desperate need to control everything before it happens can sometimes leave us frozen. The Fear of Success can be just as potent as the Fear of Failure, so either way we can be subconsciously paralyzed and there for never take action toward the things that we want most out of life. So, know this: One- experiencing Fear is completely normal, we are all human! Two- That Fear does not represent weakness, on the contrary it represents that potential blockbuster greatness that will occur if you pursue your purpose! Three- When you follow your passion, you are following your heart, and the Universe WILL support you!

 

So raise your glass to pursuing your right to be Happy, and to learning to Live On Purpose!

 

Just stop….and Breathe!

ImageYes, it absolutely is that simple! When you can gain enough awareness of your inner chaos to make the choice to simply STOP for a moment, close your eyes and breathe, you can shift your entire energy system. Meditation can be a miraculous way to regain some center and serenity in your mind, body and soul. Meditation does not require a perfect environment, or a special amount of time or preparation. Meditation simply means that you are taking a moment of Quiet, what ever that looks like for you. Remember, it is in these moments that we want to focus on what we CAN do, instead of what we think we can’t do.

The easiest way to pull focus away from your head is to focus strictly on your breath. When you concentrate on breathing, even counting your breath, your attention is automatically refocused and reframed. If you like to add a visual aspect to your moment of breath, you can picture the noise running down and out the bottom of your feet each time you exhale, or that your thoughts are rising away from you like hundreds of tiny balloons. As you exhale they disappear into the sky, leaving you quiet and calm.

There are lots of methods available for centering, and finding something that works for you is the most important. Recognizing “when to say when” with the inner drama and noise, and knowing that regardless of the circumstance you deserve that moment of Quiet! You are only depriving yourself by making up a thousand reasons of why you can’t take that moment.

So, to those of you battling cabin fever because of the cold weather and to those of you in warmer areas battling the tourists trying to escape the cold weather, I challenge you to find at least 2-3 moments a day where you can STOP and BREATHE. Your Body will thank you, your Heart will celebrate and your Soul will rejoice. I bet the people around you will thank you as well! And, lastly, I guarantee that the world will not fall apart and all the things that you feel you “have” to do will still be there, even after taking a moment for you.

 

JUST BREATHE!!Image

Simple Steps to Real Success for your 2014

ImageSo here we are at the beginning of another year. Our minds swirl with the possibilities as we bid farewell to the holidays and all of the indulgence that inevitably came with them. We feel renewed, as if a clean slate has been placed in front of us and, once again, we have the chance to “start over”. The mental list begins, as we lay out all of the things that we are going to do right this year, we promise ourselves it will be the best year ever. This will be the year that we make our resolutions actually happen!

Right. Let’s be honest. How is this really going to play out? You dive head first into the resolution list that is as long as your leg and by the third week of January you are burnt out and exhausted. The feeling of overwhelm about the goals you have set for yourself starts to eek in and you think, “One day off from the gym won’t hurt me, I will go tomorrow; I deserve a break, I will start my diet again on Monday; I know I said I wouldn’t use my credit card but $30 isn’t going to make a huge difference.” And the negotiations begin pouring in. One day turns into a week, one treat turns into a binge, and so on. Your expectations for what you wanted to achieve aren’t met, so you are flooded with defeat and disappointment. The same inner dialogue begins again, “I am never going to meet these goals, so what is the point of even trying?”

If you can relate, don’t beat yourself up. It is guaranteed that there are a lot of other people reading this feeling the same exact way. There is nothing wrong with YOU, there is something wrong with the system. If you don’t know how to create resolutions in a way that sets you up for success, then it is the same as deciding to build a house without the right tools to do it. So what are some things you can do to set the stage for a successful year?

 

Write it Down, Pare it Down, Slow it Down

 

Now go ahead and make your usual mega list for all the things that you would like to change and write them down. A sense of accountability and clarity are activated when you put things down on paper. It is almost like you have drawn up a contract with yourself once they are recorded. You also have the opportunity to review your goals and see which ones really stand out for you. More than likely the first 3 to 5 things on the list are the most important because they were the most present in your mind. Start a new list and only put the top 5 most prominent goals on that list. Now, take a minute and think about which one really feels the most important. Here are some questions to ask yourself about each of the goals:

  • Why is this important to me?
  • What do I hope to accomplish from it?
  • What resources might I need to be successful?
  • What is my FIRST step?

 

OK, so take a look at your answers to these questions. Which one really resonates with your priorities right now? Not next month or three months down the road, RIGHT NOW. There is the goal that you are going to focus on. You are more likely to feel true motivation to achieve the goal when you acknowledge that it is a priority that takes precedence within your current lifestyle and state of mind. Now comes the second set of questions:

  • Is this a goal that you have set in previous years?
  • Why weren’t you successful?
  • What stopped you from starting to make this change before now?
  • Who can help you to take the right steps to be successful?

 

One of the biggest pitfalls in making lifestyle changes is that we assume we can do it alone. If you have tried doing some similar in the past and have fallen short of your goals, it could come down to not having the tools or the proper support system to do so. Believe it or not there are professionals out there in every walk of life that can help you achieve your goals. They provide a different kind of support than family and friends can offer because they can be objective and detached from the outcome. They are going to come up with a plan that is customized to fit YOU, and there is only one YOU. Other people might give you advice as to how they did it or heard someone else did it, and try to direct you that way. That is wonderful for those people, but they aren’t YOU. What worked for them might not work for you and your situation. By finding a professional to work with you are creating a map for your own personal success. They are trained to provide the education, planning and compassion that you need in order to make good choices and set achievable and realistic milestones for yourself. They will also help you maintain a level of accountability that you might not be able to do yourself, and accountability is a vital KEY in reaching your goals. The other is being able to slow down and create an action plan that has obtainable and realistic steps. This bring us to the final set of questions:

  • What is the FIRST step I need to take to get started?Now, what is my ACTUAL first step to get started?
    • Is there something I need to do before I can reach my first step?
    • What are some things that could potentially get in my way of achieving this first step?
    • What are some solutions I can come up with to prevent these things from getting in my way?
  • Who could I hire/find to help me reach my goals?

 

By going through these questions, you are able to distinguish how and where to start, the pitfalls you might encounter and how to resolve them before they get in the way, and the resources (meaning plans or people) that can help you do this the right way for you! You can use this same process for each step of the way.

You might be thinking that this all sounds great, but what about your other goals? Well, here is the wonderful thing about committing to that one goal that felt the most important to you now. As you begin to succeed, day by day and week by week, meeting all the little milestones you built around that one goal, you will begin to feel more confident, more secure and more willing to move onto other changes. One good choice leads to another, and another and another. It is a fact. Our mindset begins to change, almost as if we have been rewired. Like the analogy used before of building a house. Would you set out to build an entire development before you knew how to build a single house successfully? Once you have all the tools and plans to build that first house, and you finish it, then the next house seems easier. You know what works and what doesn’t, and you have had the experience of pitfalls and correcting mistakes. You have also experienced the joy in the process and the celebration that comes with each goal met.

The truth of the matter is that you CAN do this! Now that you have some simple steps to get you started, this WILL be the best year ever. Remember, the true achievement doesn’t come at the finish line. The joy and reward of Life is found in all the little milestones within the journey.

 

Choose to have an amazing 2014!