Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be in the world but not of it

A friend of mine reached out to me yesterday for some advice about her work situation. She felt that her boss was trying to force her to resign so that the company wouldn't have to pay severance or unemployment. Things had gotten so bad that she thought her health may be at risk, feeling panic attacks and moments when her heart seemed to be beating in her throat either when she was at work or thinking about it.

She had decided to give her 2 week notice on Friday but wanted my advice before she did that. Myself knowing what a difficult market it is out here and knowing that she just had a baby in the past 6 months and knowing that her job is the one that provides benefits for the family I advised against that move. She then asked about an alternative of going to HR with her list of grievances to see if that would help the situation. Again I advised against that approach.

What I did suggest was that the universe was giving her a wonderful opportunity to learn how to be in the world but not of it, an opportunity to create peace and tranquility even in a difficult situation, to learn that peace is something that comes from within and isn't something that anyone can take away from you without your agreement. I asked her to find a picture of a lotus flower to help visualize what this might look like.

The lotus flower is a wonderful metaphor as it is one of natures most beautiful creations and one that grows best in the most stagnant and putrid of waters. It reminds us that wonderful things can emerge from seemingly terrible conditions. I asked her to visualize herself as that lotus flower, emitting her inner beauty and not reflecting her putrid surroundings. I also said this would help her direct her focus on what she wants to have happen in her life instead of focusing on what she doesn't want to happen.

Whenever we invest energy into complaining or fretting about a bad situation it robs us of the very thing we need to set us on a right and peaceful course in our life. The more time we spend focused on what we don't want there is less focus that we can give to what we do want. So I told her to find a picture of a lotus flower that she could look to for inspiration whenever the putrid waters rush over her. To look within to find the peace and focus to create something better in her life. It is an old Sufi saying that we should be in the world but not of the world which means that we are here to give to life our fullest potential rather than being sucked into anything less which might happen if we let the world around us determine who and what we are.

Of course I also told her to use some of the energy that this would free up in her life to create the next place for her to exercise her creativity. And I'm happy to report she is already seeing improvements on both fronts.

An excerpt from the site I link to about this quote written by A H Almaas about conflict and challenges in our life:
"Your essence is very intelligent, very generous. It has a way of throwing a conflict in front of you, so that by looking at that conflict or barrier you'll find out something you need to know. The situation that you are given is perfect in terms of timing, place, the people involved, your capacities, the capacities of people around you, everything, every detail. The situation is such that if you actually try to understand it, you'll understand something about your essence."

A not so funny thing that we do as humans is that when confronted with conflict or challenge we somehow think that if we can only remove ourselves from a situation, a relationship or a person that somehow we can remove whatever exists within ourselves that called that situation to us. So we throw away partners, jobs and friendships thinking that our problems will be solved when they are gone but then we eventually find ourself facing the same issue in the a new job, relationship or situation. How much easier it would be to understand and learn about ourselves so that we can grow into something even better, no matter where we are or who we are with.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What you give you get back, but multiplied

We went to the Morikami Gardens today to see a group of Taiko Dojo Japanese Drummers perform today. What an amazing thing to watch. I heard their lead drummer being interviewed on a local TV program and he said that the energy they display comes from the very earth they stand on and I believe it.

It was amazing to watch and feel and experience their energy, synchronized drumming is what I call it. The group is Fushu Daiko, a local Florida troop. You can't witness them without being moved by the sound, by the energy by the power of the earth that they call upon to create their sound.

I took a small clip on my camera to share with you. I am inspired to draw on the earth's energy to share with those around me, I hope they inspire you too.

Everyone is a perfect child of God

Everyone is a perfect child of God - how far from reality does that feel some days, for myself and for those that seem to upset me. I say seem to upset me because no one can make me feel anything. I am the only one that can decide how I react or feel about someone or something. So today's message for me is to remind me that we all are perfect children of God who are here living and learning and making choices every day to the best of our abilities.

So I try to think of it this way. I'm here on earth stumbling around trying to find my way back to my Godliness and all of the souls in heaven look down and say, hey, who wants to volunteer to give Sheryl a hard time so that she can learn how to be at peace no matter what might be happening around her. And some gracious soul raises their hand and says, "Its a tough job, but I'll do it" and they appear and give me a hard time.

My peace comes when and if I can remember that we are both, all, perfect children of God and no matter what might be appearing otherwise, it just isn't the truth about any of us if it looks differently from this fact. Do people sometimes do desperate or mean things? Of course they do, but if the meaning of life is to give and receive love then those mean and desperate things are only a cry for love from someone that needs it and perhaps they are in my life so that I can learn to give it no matter what they might be doing outwardly.

I couldn't get this video to work of this song by the Roches but it is one of my favorites and communicates this message very well:

Everyone is Good by The Roches

I would like to be a person who does not judge
Free to be me whatever that might be
I don't want to hold a position, don't want to hold a grudge
'Cause it seems to be the cause of a lot of misunderstanding
Heartbreak misery

Looking in your eyes you're different from me
Why does it have to be that one of us is better
Can't we both be beautiful even if we don't agree
Like the flowers in the garden and the animals in the wood
Each one with a purpose and each one is God

Everyone is good

Nobody's God says hate your neighbor
Even if the neighbor doesn't believe in God
Put aside your religion do your God a favor
And wouldn't it be something to be loving and kind
Forgive yourself for everything having once been blind

Everyone is good

Everyone is a perfect child of God.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Change your mind, change your life

It sounds so easy, if I don't like my life, if I'm not joyful and satisfied, all I need to do is change my mind and I can have all of those things, right? Sort of right. But for some reason I want to cling to things that make me miserable so I can whine about them. I mean if my life were great, wouldn't I feel guilty around all the people whose lives aren't great? Okay, maybe my life isn't great because I have lost perspective.

No matter how bad my life may seem, lost my job, upside down on my house, my dogs bark too much, I'm not wildly popular or rich, my bananas went limp, I'm behind on my bills, I'm disorganized, I'm estranged from my sister and brother, I'm overweight, all very important things, one thing I'm sure of, there are many people on planet earth that would give anything to have the life I live. I think unhappiness is a lack of perspective. Not having a job is terrible, but having 3 part time jobs is how blessed I am to have 3 people or companies willing to hire me in very tough economic times and pay me a decent hourly wage so I can maintain my lifestyle.

When I watch the news and hear about all of the people who are living in their cars and vehicles because they lost their job, their home and can't even pay rent, then I know that I am truly blessed.

When I see people whose health has failed them, suffering from cancer, recovering from surgery, or are differently-abled in a wheelchair or on crutches for life, I know that I am truly blessed.

When I see a soldier who has returned from duty maimed or injured beyond recovery of their former life just so that I may live in peace in this great country, I know that I am truly blessed.

When I see whole countries that struggle to provide clean drinking water and sanitation for millions of their people, many dying from cholera, malaria, Hepatitis A or AIDS, I know that I am truly blessed.

When I know that millions go to bed at night malnurished, hungry and thirsty not sure what or if they will be able to eat tomorrow, I know that I am truly blessed.

When I look at the numbers of women who are raped or beaten by someone they know or love and fear for their life and the lives of their children, I know that I am truly blessed.

I guess when you put things into perspective, my petty problems are just merely inconveniences in a very blessed life, and I need to realize that I'm doing that human thing where I focus on the 5% that is wrong with my life and not the 95% that is very right. Just going through this exercise has helped me change my mind at least for today.

Jana Stanfield came and stayed with us last fall (2008) and ended up writing a song about our coffee mugs that say "All that we ask is that you stay open to changing your entire life by changing your mind." I hear she recorded it for her next album, can't wait to share it with you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Everyone makes the best possible decision based on the information available

Okay, that was a mouthful but it helps me remember why sometimes, some people will make decisions that I can't understand or agree with. I mean my decisions are so rational, logical and common sense to me, that when someone disagrees or decides something to the contrary I think that maybe they are either incompetent or purposely trying to piss me off (usually the latter because it is all about me).

So this lesson gives me a glimmer of hope that if I provide this poor decider with the same information and set of facts that I possess they can only make the right decision and agree with me, no? Okay, the logic may be flawed a bit and when I relentlessly harp on the facts and the obviously missing information in their dataset I do understand that I can be a pain, but in my mind I'm sure that I am just one fact away from agreement so why stop short?

Okay the thing that matters most here is for me to realize that maybe the other person has the missing fact that might pull me over to their side, if they could only get a word in edge-wise. My peace and happiness lie in my ability to ask questions, to probe and to uncover the knowledge I lack or to find the weakness in their argument and go for the jugular once I have it in my sights...

Old habits are hard to break.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gloom and doom are nothing but congealed lies

Michael Beckwith said it when he was in Ft. Lauderdale, he didn't want to watch the news or listen to anyone complaining about the economic meltdown. He was convinced that it was nothing more than congealed lies. As a matter of fact, anything we share that is negative or complaining fit into this category. Beliefs that we invest ourselves in so much that they become congealed in our mind even if they are lies.

Case in point, no matter what happens, good or bad, we have an opportunity to grow and become stronger as a result. So who is to say that this so called meltdown is anything but strength training? A much needed work out to make us stronger and healthier in the end.

It is human nature to complain and moan, of course! But the simple facts are this; as Americans we each can lose more in the stock market in one day than others on earth will make in a year, and hardly notice it. Sure I lost 25-50% of the value of my 401K, but even at 50% loss, we as a country are among the richest 25% on the planet consuming 75% of all the resources and wealth. I also know that 56 percent of the world's population lives in extreme poverty surviving on an income of less than $730 per year or $2 per day. Instead of complaining about my American economy, I should be counting my blessings - and I am.

We will get through this even with the Republicans kicking and screaming and resisting all the way. And in the end we will be stronger for it, a stronger housing market, a stronger banking system and a more regulated corporate America even if my investments take a beating along the way. I just need to remember that I'm Rocky in training and a few bruises is all part of the character building.

Rocky theme song -