A Gentler Way to Heal

Sometimes a disease may find its way into our life. When it does, the intended cure or treatment may be more painful that the disease itself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a gentler way to heal?

I am not naive enough to think that all of our experiences with a disease can be easily cured, if at all. I know they can’t.

And even though there may be several treatment options, they might all fail.

What is our resort then?

Its asking a lot, but might it be worth it to try to shift our perspective. Perhaps we could take a deeper look.

Several years ago I wrote the first book in the Little Buddha series. Its the story of a young girl (Claire) who becomes a mentor to a man (Sam) who has been searching his whole life for illusive answers to his questions. He struggles with the idea that she could possibly be wise enough to share the wisdom he seeks, yet something within him opens and allows her in.

She offers him insights, not only to the mysteries of the world, but to his own inner life. Most of them come as a result of the assignments she gives him to complete. In the second chapter of the first book, Sam has been been searching for her without any success, until one day when he sees her lying in a chair in her front yard. He immediately knows she is not well. His worry propels him forward and a conversation follows.

Sam wants to know if there is anything he can do for her. Claire attempts to reassure Sam that although her body is not in harmony, her spirit is alive and well and that Michael is helping her. Sam does not understand her statement and wants to know who Micheal is. Claire explains that he is many things. He is her cousin, but also a ‘lightgiver’, who is one who knows a lot about the ‘light’, or what others would call ‘life’. She goes on to explain that Michael came to show her another way to understand wellness, a better, a gentler way.

Sam asks what Claire means by a better way.

Claire responds, “Well, my doctor says that I must fight and never give up and never give in. But Michael says there is another way. He says that everything we think, feel and say is either from love or from fear. He says that fear is not real. It is there for us to push against and to point the way toward love. It is our choice. So, if we choose to fight our condition, like my sickness, we are feeding it fear and this always creates conflict. And when your energy is already low, any kind of fighting works against you. Michael says that when you are sick and you are forced to slow down, if you can look, you can see things as they are. This can be an enormous gift, because when you look closely at things it can change your perspective and allow you to see the ‘dots’ so they become meaningful to you. Michael says that love is the key, not always easy, but always right. Love creates harmony in the body and in life. He says, the ‘light’ is filled with love. He works with me so that I see how my life is about ‘connecting the dots’ with love.”

Sam is perplexed and requests more of an explanation from Claire. As she often does, she asks Sam to share a meaningful and challenging event from his life. As he does, it becomes clear to him that each decision he made was connected to the one before and the one after. He also learns that labeling each outcome as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ made it harder for him to understand what was happening. Through the process, he discovered that fear, rather than being something to avoid, was actually a beautiful messenger, meant to lead him toward the light, toward love.

Sam gains valuable insight and starts to rearrange his view of the world. He comes to understand that Claire sees her disease not as a punishment, or a trial to be endured or a battle to be won. She places herself in the middle of it all and allows fear to have a voice and to help guide her toward ‘the light’. She acknowledges that her body is not in harmony, but allows her spirit to soar. She steps aside and looks at each moment seeing their connection and embraces the love she finds, using it to return to wellness.

You could see all of this as a gross oversimplification or a scenario unlikely to produce real results. That’s certainly one choice.

And perhaps I would agree with you, had I not had numerous occasions to see how this actually worked in my life. Being able to connect the dots, releasing any strength I’d assigned to good and bad labels, allowing fear to be a trustworthy guide and knowing that everything points toward love has changed my life.

And if you wish to see the connection between dots, I hope that it brings clarity into your life and a gentle wellness into your being.

Permitted Invasion of Stress

Have you ever experienced something in life, where despite your best efforts, things went completely out of control and spun off in all directions, creating total havoc?

I sure have.

It happened again recently. Maureen and I had replaced our front storm door with a brand new quality unit we thought would be ideal for us.

For no apparent reason one of the parts in the lock mechanism retracted and I could not get it to move, even a fraction of an inch. I imagined leaving home and returning only to find that somehow it snapped itself back into place locking us out of our house. And to add to this scenario, of course the key would no longer work. So, I taped over the opening to make sure we’d be able to get back in until we could get it fixed.

A few days later our brand new iMac computer, which had previously been working flawlessly, decided to question our standard password. I entered it and the little gray dots on the screen shook in place, saying in effect, ‘uh uh buddy, not your password.’ So, I tried again. Same result. I called in reinforcements. Maureen entered the password and again if shook it off. We both looked down at the keyboard. Nope, the Cap Lock key was not on.

I waited a bit to see if it would come back to its senses and watched as the screen froze in place and would not respond to any keystroke. I was completely locked out.

So, now my house and my computer were both restricting access. Interesting.

I won’t try to explain in detail, but there were a number of other things happening that were going the same way. And as it happens we were trying to get ready to go away on vacation. I admit that I was stressed out about the intersection of all these problems hitting at once. I took no time to step back and breathe. I didn’t get up and go for a walk or tell myself it would all be okay and that the things I was experiencing would all work out.

No, instead I permitted an invasion of stress into my life and rushed ahead and made matters worse. Instead of dialing Apple Customer Service I mistakenly got through to Apple Care Customer Service. And yes, they are a scam outfit. But given my inner stress and lack of forethought, I fell into their trap, which resulted in having to change all of my passwords and other information and a great deal more stress, and still no functioning computer.

I hope that you don’t have any stories similar to this, but you probably do. You may be able to identify with my confusion and understand why I didn’t step back and more carefully consider my actions.

I believe that everything that happens in life contains hidden gems waiting patiently for us to reveal them. I’ve spoken about this to lots of folks and am often asked to share what has come to me. Sometimes I think the requester wants to judge the benefits I discovered for themselves and see if in their opinion they justify the stress I encountered. Other times I believe there is a genuine curiosity and desire to see how they might be able to reveal gems in their own lives.

Here’s what was revealed this time to me, so that you can see for yourself.

I realized that I am human and will make mistakes and will sometimes berate myself for them. Seeing this clearly allows me to acknowledge my feelings, then release them and any ego attachment to them.

I recognized that fear was the driving force behind all of my stress. And, in my case, the fear represented a lack of faith in the loving universe. This gave me the chance to center myself in my belief that I am loved, protected and cherished by the divine.

I accepted that when I feel stress and time pressure building I loss focus. This helps me to realize I can consciously release whatever stress enters my life and shift my attention to addressing things positively. I also realize that I can stretch time by slowing down, sitting back and breathing into it.

I acknowledged that anger was playing a significant part in my experience. It blurred my vision so that all I could see was unfavorable outcomes. I embraced the idea that being angry is a choice. A choice that does not benefit me and one that requires a high price to be paid. I don’t want to pay this kind of price and I can make better choices. It’s really up to me.

I came to understand that a big part of me was flashing the ‘fairness’ card, enticing me to jump inside the loop of seeing the world as not fair to be treating me this way. The whole idea of fairness is a trap. Quicksand really. The more you struggle, the worse it becomes. I heard a small beautiful voice inside my head saying, “There is no such thing as fairness or punishment and there are no required lessons to learn. You are free to choose to experience life in any way you desire. You can release yourself from anything that feels too heavy or creates stress. Please choose wisely.”

And a companion to fairness rose up during this experience. Control. My desire and my need to control not only the outcome but the process as well. I realized that control is born from fear and I also realized that control is an illusion. We make choices, but we don’t control all outcomes. We are not here by ourselves and there is an incredible web of interconnections throughout the universe. I opened to accepting that there is great wisdom in releasing any sense of control and trusting in the innate intelligence of the universe.

Lastly, I found that when confronted by overwhelming challenges, I can be sustained by consciously releasing whatever rises up in me. I can focus on being patient with myself and offer myself love, knowing I am part of the divine and a radiant being of light. In this way I can be wholly engaged in life, ready for any beautiful encounter that comes my way.

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Broken Hearts

A broken heart can seem like the end of the world. But, if you give yourself a chance, it can also be the beginning of a new world.

Sometimes we don’t feel we have the ability to defend ourselves from a broken heart. Things just happen to us. They come and overwhelm us, sometimes making it hard to breathe. And it can seem too challenging to believe there is any way to reassemble our lives and reclaim our heart.

I have a story to tell you about this.

My sister, Alison, and I like to try out various art classes. We decided it would be fun to do some stained-glass work, so signed up and when the time came, showed up at the studio. As is often the case, I was the only man present. I’ve grown accustomed to this and the mothering I usually receive from the women taking the class.

There were seven or eight of us present. The instructor was very pleasant and helpful and guided us through the process and various techniques we would be using. When she was done with her introductory comments, she asked us to wander around and choose the glass pieces that appealed to us.

It was a lot of fun seeing all the various sizes, colors, and textures of the glass pieces. I gathered what I thought would be enough to complete my project and sat down next to my sister.

At first, I began randomly placing pieces in my frame. I really didn’t have any preconceived idea how my project would turn out. I was just ‘winging it’. At some point I realized I didn’t like how it looked, so I tipped out all the pieces onto the table.

There were a host of shrieks and everyone in the class turned toward me. They simply could not believe I’d done that and were upset on my behalf. Some thought it must have been an accident. Others were convinced I was upset or crazy. Once they knew it was an intentional act on my part, they all wanted to know WHY?

I told them I’d changed my mind. I looked at the assembled stained-glass pieces and I didn’t like what I saw. I told them I needed to start over and that it would be okay. They didn’t seem at all reassured and went back to their own projects, shaking their heads.

I began again. This time though the pieces fell easily into place. I noticed a surprising calmness inside of me. I’d followed my own inner guidance and as I looked down, an incredible thing happened. A beautiful image appeared. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus, dressed in a blue swirling shroud. I looked more carefully and noticed she was holding a broken heart in her hands. I knew she was mending it. I sat there in complete awe.

Of all the artwork I have created, it is by far my most favorite.

It speaks to me. I hear gently words she shared about how to mend a broken heart.

She told me that it is only when we choose to feel what we are feeling that we can begin. We know it’s going to be painful and yet, I feel there is a promise in this for us, that once we allow the pain in and recognize its presence, it becomes ready to leave us. We can let it go, making space for something new to take its place. And we can start over. We can be patient and watchful, looking for a new life to emerge. We can open our hearts, so we can experience new dreams. And, although it seems impossible to us, we can be grateful. Grateful that life does not end with a broken heart. If we allow it, our life can begin again. Our hearts can be mended.

I think about this every time I look at my beautiful stained-glass artwork hanging in my office window. Sometimes first thing in the morning the rising sun lights it up and I sense the truth that no heart is ever beyond mending.

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I’ll Be Happy When

Is there a right time to be happy in this life?

My answer to this seemingly simple question makes a big difference in the quality of my life.

I’ve spent a great deal of time living a conditional life. You may know what I mean already, but if not, here are some examples of a statements I’ve made.

I’ll be happy when I reach a specific goal.

I’ll be happy when my TO DO list is complete.

I’ll be happy when the balance in my account is high enough.

It’s possible you could add statements of your own, especially if you’re a pro at this like I am. I want to say, ‘like I was’, but I’m not there yet. I still struggle with this affliction.

The funny (and not so funny) thing is that I’m usually not happy when I achieve my objective. Sure, there is a momentary high, but very soon after, I set a new goal, add another item to the list or increase the account balance target.

I accept that this whole delayed happiness issue I have is fixable and I’ve made observations over the course of time which have helped. Here’s four that I’ve discovered.

The chances of my being happy decrease the more I look forward or look backward.

The chances of my being happy increase when I live in the present moment.

The chances of my being happy decrease with each prerequisite I attach to a goal or desire.

And the chances of my being happy increase when I release all the conditions I’ve attached.

Yes, it’s all up to me. But that’s fair because I’m the one who views the world this way. Yes, I had help. I learned by watching and listening to others. I saw what they did and copied them.

I was taught to have goals and aims and to accomplish wonderful things. You may have been to. And some of us were taught to wait to be happy until we’d fully achieved our goals. Perhaps the reason was so that we would continue to strive. Maybe otherwise we would be satisfied with less than our goal. Maybe we’d just be slackers.

I’ve always known that living a conditional life would be painful. I think I could tell from the beginning it didn’t feel right. But when you are a kid, you are trained to comply, so I did.

The problem with this is you can’t grow up without questioning things. Without knowing why they are important. And I want to grow up. I want to chuck all the conditions I attach to thoughts and ideas and dreams out the window.

I think that’s where they all belong. Maybe you’ll want to join me in this adventure.

My first step is to be happy to begin with. I’m not prepared to wait any longer. My life is far too short to wait any longer. I’m going to celebrate the simple things, like breathing, walking, sleeping, eating, loving. I’m going to learn from my rich history. I’m going to spend more time doing the things I love, because they are awash in happiness. And when I feel the need to pursue a goal or aim, I’m going to ask myself…why? Why is this important to me? If I can’t answer that, well then, it’s not going to make the list.

So, if you walk by my house someday, be careful, because I may still be throwing my unnecessary ‘conditions’ out of the window and I know you don’t want them either.

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Disillusioned

Who has not lost faith in something or someone? Been deceived or been the deceiver?

I find it fascinating how some words have no counterparts and wondered if disillusioned was one of them. I’ve never heard anyone use the word ‘illusioned’, so of course I had to look it up.

Well, it was there. Illusioned, according to one source, is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.

So, perhaps a desert mirage is a good example. A distortion that fools us into believing something that is not there. Although somewhat difficult to explain, this type of illusion is caused by physical atmospheric conditions.

But, what about the illusions we humans create? We are extremely potent creators, capable of deceiving not only ourselves, but others as well. Of course, not all of it is done on purpose, nor with deceptive intent. Most of the time, it just happens and we’re blissfully unaware.

We are not always mindful of our actions or thoughts or words and what they create.

And perhaps we just take for granted that there are illusions in the world.

So, how does this relate to disillusioned? Wouldn’t that logically be the opposite? Sort of a dispelling of an illusion? A ‘seeing through the deception’ to reality?

Not according to the dictionary. To it, disillusion occurs when there is disappointment in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.

I wonder, does that mean that we first view the world, then decide how it looks and operates and then accept our conclusions as the truth. Do we build our reality, then become surprised, upset, angry…when it is not how we perceived it to be?

Are we then disillusioned by our own illusions?

You may be thinking, where am I going with all of this?

Here, is where.

It’s to a place you may find challenging to consider. So, as with all things (including this website post), please feel free to disregard it. But, as long as you’re already here, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.

What if our earth life is a magnificent illusion? What if it’s a place for each of us to experience whatever we choose, but it’s not where we remain once we’re done choosing?

What if it’s an illusion in the sense that there is a greater truth, a reality beyond this earth life.

I know this is a challenging concept because some would say that, if this earth life is an illusion, it means that anyone could do anything they wanted, and it wouldn’t matter, because it is only an illusion. They would use this idea to justify any action they chose, like it doesn’t really matter or result in any consequences.

This is not what I’m saying, nor what I mean.

Rather than nothing mattering, everything matters.

Every moment provides an opportunity to experience something of deep value. To form connections with others. To love and be loved. To serve and receive. To create and experience anything.

Some believe that there is nothing beyond our earth existence. I am not one of them.

I believe that, once we pass from this world, we become ‘disillusioned’. We see beyond what we thought was reality and break away from the magnificent illusion of our earth life. We release ties to the illusion and return home to ‘heaven’.

I love this grand illusion of an earth life. I love the depth of connections I have here, but when it’s my time to leave, I will welcome the grand disillusion as well.

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Words

I think words matter. The ones that get spoken and those that remain hidden.

There are an incredible number of words in the world. When you consider all the different languages, it must be in the millions, especially if you include slang words.

I was thinking about words the other day and split them into two categories, mean words and kind words. There are no doubt neutral words, but I’m leaving them out of the equation for now.

What struck me was that I wasn’t drawn in by the actual words themselves, but more by the way they are used and the intent behind them. The way we choose them or express them.

I think it says a lot about us.

I try to use kind words whenever I can and find that I feel better when I do. When I use mean words, not only do they hurt others, but they also hurt me. I feel it inside and I don’t like it.

Words seem to have a lasting effect. They leave a trail. They can be life changing. But they can also be life threatening. They can sink you into the depths or allow you to rise.

I’d like to say that I always take great care with words, but I don’t. I am human and….and what? And I make mistakes. I choose words without thinking, without considering their impact, both to others and to myself.

I wonder, is it even possible to be conscious of all the words we use? We say so many in a day. I think it’s possible that we feel we need to.

I wonder another thing. What would it be like to stop using words for a while?

I once read a fascinating book about John Francis. He was distraught about certain things in his life and decided to take a vow of silence for one day. That one day led to another. And then another. And then to a string of days that would last for seventeen years. Yes, I said, 17 years.

Can you imagine going without words for that long?

How would you communicate with your loved ones and with the world?

Sure, you could use sign language or some form of it, but in a way that seems the same to me. They are words in picture form, but still words.

Wordless. Talk about an isolating feeling.

Although my initial focus was on the mean or kind words we say to each other and the impact they have, I shifted to wondering about the words we say to ourselves.

Can you think of the most recent words you told yourself? What were they? Were they mean or kind? How did you feel when you heard yourself say them? Did you want to take them back? Did you want to let them go, to rid yourself of them?

Did your words reflect your truth or were they reflections of what others have said to you?

These are big questions.

I don’t have all of the answers. I probably never will. That’s okay. I don’t need to know everything. What I do know is that words matter. And I’m trying not to take them lightly, because they form my world. They speak to me, and they speak for me.

I’ve come to a decision about all of this. I want them to speak for my heart and for my spirit and to offer love to the world. That’s what feels the most right to me.

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Giving Up Sympathy for Myself

When I began writing these posts in October 2020, I felt it would be very important for me to be as honest as I could. I’m not sure if I always am, because we so often tend to fool ourselves. We think one thing but feel another. Which is the truth?

I was struck with a thought lately having to do with how I make my way through an illness or challenge I’m having. It occurred to me that I feel a need for sympathy. Not only my own, but from others as well.

An internal quote materialized out of nowhere.

“The more you are willing to give up your need for sympathy from others, the more easily you’ll be able to accept that all things serve you, even the ones that don’t appear to. Perhaps, especially those.”

Wow, I thought, there’s a lot of meat in that statement.

I sensed two enormous ideas emerge.

One, that everything serves me. I’ve spent a great deal of time considering this with my head only to fall short of understanding it. My head says this couldn’t possibly be true because its view is narrow. It only looks at the present so, of course whatever problem I’m having seems unfortunate to me and I want to dispense with it as soon as possible.

However, when I engage my heart, the meaning becomes clear, or at least clearer. My heart sees into the distance. It waits and watches and connects the dots so that a whole picture is revealed. Once this happens, I can see that what first seemed to be an insurmountable challenge, is actually a powerful message to me. A message that creates clarity and helps guide my thoughts and actions in the future.

The second idea is potent for me. Perhaps others don’t rely on sympathy, but I’ve come to realize that I do.

Feeling that I need the sympathy of others is a huge crutch for me and it prevents me from seeing any depth or from moving on. It makes it difficult to shift and recognize any insights.

The NEED for sympathy becomes my focus and commands my attention, leaving no resources available to me for deciding what would better serve me.

I have to force myself to stop and ask, “what do you want most?”

Part of me responds that I want sympathy from others. It feels good. And yet, I recognize that it is only momentarily satisfying, leaving me unfilled and wanting more.

Another part of me takes a different approach and understands that what I truly desire most is to connect as deeply as possible with the divine inside of me. It knows that every time I focus on soliciting for and accepting sympathy from others, or from myself, there will be a delay in connecting with my heart and my spirit.

I have to decide what is most important to me.

Choosing can be a hard thing to do and I am not always capable of selecting the most beneficial response to the situations I encounter. Maybe this happens to you too.

For now, I’ve decided to give up sympathy for myself and look deeper into the experience so that I can discover the hidden gifts and messages. And I want there to be free space available for me to store the new treasures I find.

I’m pretty sure there will be times I succumb to the charms of seeking sympathy for myself, but my heart feels open and ready to look elsewhere now.

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Ballast

Ballast seems like a funny word to me. One day it just popped into my head out of nowhere, so I decided to look it up. I thought I knew what it meant already, but as is so often the case, I was mistaken.

The first usage given, for both the noun and the verb, refers to ships. Ballast is some kind of heavy material, like sand, gravel, iron or lead, which is placed low in a ship in order to improve its stability or refers to the stabilizing force offered by these materials.

Interesting.

I wondered how that might apply of our human lives. What sort of things stabilize our existence and give us ballast?

No doubt the answer is different from person to person, but I thought it might be useful to consider if there were some beneficial principles involved.

So, suppose one day you’re walking down the street and a strong wind starts to blow, what gives you ballast? I guess you could fill your pockets with sand or gravel or, if you could even find them, iron or lead. Sure, you could, but not very practical, huh?

You could just move indoors until the strong wind goes by. That would solve your problem. But what about those problems in life that you can’t get away from by hiding inside? What gives you ballast for them?

I know that one of my solutions was to try to block difficult problems as soon as they appeared. I told myself, nope not going to affect me!

But the truth was they did affect me and by spending my energy trying to block or deflect them, it caused a great deal of inner tension and made it even more difficult to deal with the other things going on in my life.

It wasn’t until I started attending Unity Church, that I began to realize, that I had to give myself the chance to feel my feelings. Without taking this scary step, I was never able to move beyond the fear and the subsequent tension it created.

I confess it is challenging to make this shift and, as much as I’d like to say I’m beyond it, that probably isn’t the case. I still have to remind myself to go inside and be honest. And, I still need to feel whatever I’m feeling, before I can move on.

Letting my heart sit with my fears, deep inside me, now feels like ballast to me. They can be very heavy at times, but they draw me in and by allowing them to speak to me, I can create the space for their release.

As it turns out, one ballast for me is the strength of knowing I am safe in this world, which is another Unity idea. When I am challenged, I can remind myself that there are those who want me to succeed. And, there are those who love me and will help me. They are in my corner and it gives me peace knowing that no matter what, they are ready to steady me when life becomes rocky.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking, well, good for you that you have a support group, but I don’t, so who is going to assist me, especially when I experience tough times?

I know there are lots of different groups that seek to provide the help that each of us needs, but if you can’t find them or they don’t find you, I have one place you can still go for stability and support.

I’ve spoken of it before and will again. It is the divine, the sacred spirit that lives inside of you. All it takes is to speak out and ask, then listen with your whole being. I believe that the divine stands waiting at all times for our approach and all it takes is an open heart, ready to believe, ready to be loved.

For me, I know this to be my truth. I hope it becomes yours as well.

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SPECIAL NOTE

If you want to know more about having a relationship with the divine (god), please see the Books page on this website, where there is a description of my book, talking with (god). If you can’t afford it, please let me know  (use the Contact page) and I’ll send you a free copy.

In Pain, Consider Gratitude

You may think I am crazy, and perhaps in some ways I am.

The thought of offering gratitude when you are in pain runs contrary to how we’ve grown up in the world and I was tempted to shy away from this post topic. But, I couldn’t, mostly because that’s where I have been for the last several days.

It’s one of those inexplicable cases where I felt fine one moment and not the next. No obvious precipitating event seemed to lead to my misery.

I simply had progressively worsening pain in my right groin area that made it extremely difficult to move, bend or raise and lower my right leg. As a consequence, I relied almost exclusively on my left side and upper body to carry my weight, causing additional problems.

I’ve had something similar to this happen to me before, but never with as much pain.

I tried to understand why this was happening to me. I recognize this is one of my default settings- needing to know the reason(s) for things in my life. But, I also recognize now how useless pursuing this line of thought is. It doesn’t resolve the problem, takes me away from helpful courses of action and even if I knew exactly how the problem occurred, what benefit would that serve at the moment?

So, I tried to take a step back and accept that something had happened and it was now up to me to choose how to react.

My first thought was to feel a little sorry for myself because I anticipated that the pain was going to be with me for several days, given how sharp and intense it was.

I’ve learned to try to follow my natural reactions, but not get caught up and stuck in them. So, I pushed a little further.

Yes, there was pain, but what else. Was there something hidden that could be revealed? Could I discover any reason(s) to be grateful for this experience?

Now that is a challenging question and one I don’t feel I was completely ready for. And yet, I knew it was important to consider it. So, I asked myself, what gratitude exists here for me?

The first thought that came to me was that there are folks who are available to me to help; my wife, chiropractor, doctor, family, friends, the pharmacy. I wasn’t alone in this.

I got into the spirit of this exercise.

Instead of being angry that I didn’t get my usual 7-8 hours of sleep, I was grateful for the four hours of sleep I did get. I was grateful that I would be able to seek medical help. I was grateful that my back was okay, despite the extra load placed on it, which is a huge thing for me.

I thought about the timing of this event and expressed gratitude that it had happened when it did, rather than during my recent vacations. It would have severely limited my ability to enjoy them fully. But it happened after them and long enough before our next vacation, so I have time to recover.

I continued listing reasons to be grateful and allowed my physical suffering to exist, but not to overwhelm me. I admit this takes a certain amount of commitment and concentration, but the value to me has been extraordinary, not only for this episode, but to carry with me into the future.

This idea may seem too challenging and not one you can easily accept, but had I not opened to the idea, I would not have discovered gratitude’s great power and beauty. I ask only that you consider seeing if it might offer you the same.

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Overloading

When you travel, do you end up bringing the exact right amount of stuff with you or do you under or over pack?

I am guilty of over packing. I do it every time I go somewhere.

It seems silly to me and I end up resolving not to do it again…only to do it again.

One time I took note of all the stuff I didn’t end up needing or using as I returned it to its resting place at my house. I’d calculate that sometimes I brought as much as 50-60% more stuff than I used or needed.

It made me wonder why? Why would I consistently bring so much stuff with me? It didn’t make any logical sense. Wouldn’t one sweatshirt have been sufficient, instead of two? Did I really need extra underwear and socks? And, how about that towel I packed, didn’t the place I was going offer towels for the beach or the pool?

Maybe you don’t ever do this, I don’t know. Maybe you’ve figured out the secret to packing just the right amount. If so, please feel free to share.

Since the answer to my over packing didn’t seem be logical, I wondered, what else could be the reason? Did it stem from some inner sense of comfort I needed, so that I would feel that I would be okay?

I also sensed a level of fear involved and asked myself, what would happen if I didn’t have everything to meet my needs? It did occur to me that I probably could buy whatever the missing item was, but it might not be convenient and it seemed better that I should have it with me to start, right?

That’s when it hit me. The reason wasn’t logical, it was emotional.

I over packed to create a (false) sense of comfort and to ensure that I would be able to feel okay with my surroundings.

And, as with most other experiences, I felt there would be some definite relevance to my life if I explored this a bit deeper.

I wondered, did I over pack in other aspects of living?

The answer turned out to be ‘yes’, and for the very same reason, to feel comfortable emotionally.

But does it work?

No, not really. Mostly I believe because while ‘things’ can create outer comfort, they can’t create inner comfort.

The only thing that can do that is inside of me already. It’s my awareness and knowingness that the entire universe will support me in whatever I choose to do. This goes far beyond both the logical and the emotional and dips directly into the spiritual.

It is not necessary for me to understand all of the dynamics involved. It isn’t necessary for me to be able to explain or prove that this is the truth for me. What is necessary is that I exercise faith and trust that I am loved and cared for and that everything I truly need will be provided.

This is a very big deal.

It may strike a cord with you and find a home. I am grateful if this is the case.

But it may still leave you wanting more. If so, I need to ask you something, what balances and centers you when everything starts to tip over? If it’s something outside of you, it probably doesn’t work all of the time and so, a shift to the inside might help.

Maybe stepping back, closing your eyes, breathing slowly and easily, and opening your heart and asking the divine inside of you to come and share its wisdom with you will bring you peace.

I try to remind myself every time I over pack, either when going on an actual trip or traveling some new pathway in life, that I am loved and cared for by the divine that is always inside of me.

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