Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and has been for a very long time. All families look different but for me this was the one time that my whole family got together, cooked with each other, and could spend some quality time catching up with one another. As I have aged and some of our loved ones have departed the holiday has evolved for me and my family. Friendsgiving has now become something I hold in high regard as friendships are very special to me, and for my mental health. Quality friends are a treasure that I am fortunate to have in abundance, and for that I am grateful. If you don’t have community, be courageous and open and go find your tribe. Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful, and in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) it is defined as being thankful for being alive. It is one of the 9 foundational attitudes in MBSR because it is one of the most helpful practices you can have not only for reducing stress but improving both your physical and mental health.
According to the Mayo Clinic there are a myriad of benefits including improved sleep, mood, and immune system response. Additionally, a daily gratitude practice can ease chronic pain, anxiety, and decrease depressive symptoms. They go on to say that if a pill could do this everyone would be taking it. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Harvard Health had this to say in a recent article, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
One technique my client shared is that he has an alarm that goes off at 12pm daily in which he acknowledges three things he is grateful for, and they cannot be the same things he said the day before, which is lovely. The practice is intentional. You are choosing to look for the good in your life when you do this, because there are good things in your life. They can be small things. It can be as simple as having a joyful interaction with the checkout person at the grocery store. A smile to a stranger passing by, or receiving a warm welcome or hello, i.e. being friendly to a greeter at Walmart. Being grateful for the warmth of the sun, a roof over your head, or the love of a dearly beloved pet.
This holiday season you can choose happiness. Stress less, and don’t let miserable people make you miserable. Let go of grudges and resentment. Choose love over fear and unity over polarity. You don’t have to go low vibration to discuss politics or choose a side in an armed conflict unless you want to. You can be appreciative of the people, the food, the conversations, and even the process of cooking. These are actions that you can be mindful of and even get into flow states with. I am always grateful for the aroma of homemade cooking; it simply brings joy to my life. Take time to acknowledge what you are grateful for now, and may you have a wonderful holiday.
Once upon a time I had a near death experience where I was given a sneak peek behind the veil of the matrix, and it forever changed my life. I have shared this experience in a previous blog post about my ferry ride across the Ganges/Padma River in Bangladesh. When I hear people say if God (or if that is triggering for you say the universe, source, the creator, etc.) exists, prove it! I simply smile. You see, I don’t have a choice, and haven’t for quite some time now.
Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana, and various forms of yoga, hypnotherapy and past life regressions have helped to open my consciousness to deeper levels of understanding, which is what I wish to share as the Earth and our civilization are entering a new era, which is happening now. I want to be very clear that it doesn’t matter if you believe or don’t believe in God or a higher power or believe that we are entering a New Earth/5D Reality, it is simply happening in the present moment. The Mayan calendar was not off, but the end of a cycle. It is in the magic of this present moment that we will focus on today to help give you some tools as the shift into this “New Earth” unfolds, now.
As the shift is taking place it is important to focus on yourself and your energy and making sure you are healthy, well, and coming into your own personal power. I will define personal power as being seated in your heart center. We are far bigger than we realize. Our power lies in our heart and connection to emotion. If you are like my wonderful brother and can’t relate to any of this spirituality and think this is all just new age gobbledygook then perhaps you can relate to Marvel Comics…think of… say Tony Stark… yes, Iron Man, it is basically like that. The shift into the New Earth is an upleveling into a new dimension in the multiverse., or another way to think about it is the next step in the evolution of our consciousness on the planet. We all understand the universe in our own way, and it is perfectly okay, there is no right or wrong way, we all have free will to believe anything we want. Iron Man is a great example of someone connecting into the amazing energy and power of their heart, even when artificial.
Which brings us back into the power of the heart. I have spoken previously how the fundamental practice of Mindfulness is the Body Scan. When we scan our body, we can start seeing the subconscious aspects of ourselves that we are holding onto. In some meditative techniques the theory is that the sensations in our body hold the answers to the root of our suffering. Once we can bring awareness to those roots, they can be eradicated and dissolved. The Body Scan is basically a clinical appropriation of the Vipassana Technique that the Buddha used to become enlightened and enter higher states of consciousness. Don’t worry, you won’t become enlightened by doing a body scan… or will you? No judgment.
Either way the meditation technique is useful tidying things up and helping you become clearer, and more heart centered towards yourself and others. In vipassana meditation at the end of a retreat the focus is on Metta meditation, in which a mantra you may hear is: “May all beings be happy, May all beings be peaceful, and May all beings be liberated.” It is a very powerful meditation to wish loving kindness to all beings on Earth.
Another technique is to drop into a meditation and then ask yourself this question:
“Heart, show me, what do I need to be most aware of to come more fully into the heart?”
Once you have asked the question, be still and calm and see what insights pop into the field of your awareness. If you don’t get anything right away be patient, and allow things to unfold in their own time, but you will eventually gain insights into what is needed to get closer to your heart. It is advisable to write things out that come to you during meditation, or dictate it into your smart phone.
Additionally, whatever comes up for you it can be helpful to then say to yourself: “I love and accept the part of me _______ (that is sad, or anxious, or is fearful, feels shame, guilt, or something positive).” Remember, you don’t have to worry about whether it is good or bad, you are loving and accepting all parts of the self nonjudgmentally.
This technique of “loving and accepting” allows you to harvest the energy from the mind matrix (ie Central Nervous System and you Default Mode Network, aka Automatic Pilot) that is preventing you from anchoring into the heart and greater heart coherence.
Heart coherence according to HeartMath is a high performance and healthy state- physically emotionally, mentally, and spiritually- that brings out the very best in us. Heart coherence is a synchronized and empowering state that allows us to become our best selves. The ultimate state of FLOW.
Your real power is the ability to create beyond the limitations of the mind. Start from the heart. By practicing some of these techniques you be clearing away negative self-limiting beliefs and opening your heart to greater insights, connection, and joy in your life.
When you are living and honoring your life in a more authentic way you will understand that there is no need to worry about the shift because you will already have shifted. Be kind and true to yourself. Find your Ikigai (life passion), laugh, connect with friends, dance, have fun, and don’t forget to be happy. Physical exercise, sleep, and adequate nutrition will be helpful as well. It is an exciting time, don’t be distracted, manipulated, or ruled by fear, there are brighter days ahead and in the infinity of life, all is well.
You may have heard it before from various places but it important to remember and sometimes remind ourselves that thoughts are things. Everything is energy. If you have ever delved into learning about the practice of mindfulness, you quickly learn that your mind can have a mind of its own and that thinking is constantly happening moment by moment. Thoughts come one after another, we have around 60,000 thoughts a day. Most people are not paying attention to the quantity of thoughts or the quality of their thoughts- which is called automatic pilot. Like anything else if we don’t learn how to discipline our mind then our mind can control us, and when our mind wanders, it tends to skew negatively, leading to negative emotions and experiences in our daily lives, showing up as doubt, fear, panic, and catastrophic thinking. Maybe you have experienced this or seen close family members and friends suffer from this type of mind virus. Fear not, there is hope, there is always hope and every moment is a new beginning.
Mindfulness is another word for awareness, and it is with awareness that you can start to stop and shift into a new path. Awareness can break the stress reactivity cycle that can wreak havoc on our nervous systems as we can see illustrated below.
From: Journey Mindfulness Stress Reduction Course
The foundational practice of mindfulness is the body scan meditation. It is not sexy, and it is not fun- or at least I would not call it fun. Stress and trauma is held in the body. The body scan is a functional technique used to observe stress that is being held in the body by examining with a highly focused attention to the physical sensations being felt on a cellular level in the body, part by part. One way to think of this is doing your own MRI on the body. Tuning into your body, feeling your body, its stress, and the stories and thoughts that arise when you pay attention to the body.
To give you an example, when I did my first body scan many years ago I noticed several things that surprised me. One was that my blood pressure was rapid and intense, my breath was constricted, meaning I was feeling tense and anxious, and my body overall was tight and my stress level was far greater than I could have ever imagined. My mind was all over the place, thinking about my caseload, people I needed to talk to, phone calls I had to make, crises that needed to be tended to- my mind was everywhere else but myself and my own health and mental wellbeing. I was a mess and had no idea. I would have told you if had asked me that I was completely fine. The full body scan gave me a look under the hood to see what was really going on, and it wasn’t pretty, but it was honest- this is Awareness. The mind can play mental gymnastics and lie to us, but the body will be honest. I see clients all the time with their meditation apps and I have never had anyone tell me they do full body scans, which generally go about 35-60 minutes to put things into perspective. And if you are meditating seriously I recommend no less than 20 minutes.
Circling back to thoughts and thinking and thoughts are things. When you start to observe your thoughts, you can then begin to work with them. What are the quality of my thoughts? Do they carry a positive or negative charge? If you are familiar with the story of the two wolves, then you know that the wolf you feed is the wolf that wins. Is my thinking healthy, practical, constructive, honest, or is it dysfunctional? Most people I see don’t realize they are often catastrophizing, and their thinking is in a mode of fear, worry, doubt, and uncertainty (fight or flight mode).
Someone shared with me recently that someone they love is having difficulty recovering from an injury. Part of their delay in recovery is fear. When they put weight on their leg the first thought they have is “I can’t, it hurts.” If that thinking is not changed, then greater suffering will be endured, and fear will be fostered. The only action of fear is to claim more fear. But if they reframe their thoughts to something more constructive, such as “You can do this, the pain is temporary,” then they will be able to safely rehabilitate their injury, and courage (action in spite of fear) will be forged.
Change your thinking and change your life. Thoughts are things. Your thoughts can create your reality, as such they are precious. I will leave you with some beautiful words from one of my favorite authors Louise Hay from her book You can Heal Your Life:
In the infinity of life where I am,
all is perfect, whole, and complete.
Each one of us, myself included, experiences the richness
and fullness of life in ways that are meaningful to us.
I now look at the past with love and choose
to learn from my old experiences.
There is no right or wrong, nor good or bad.
The past is over and done.
There is only the experience of the moment.
I love myself for bringing myself
through this past into this present moment.
I share what and who I am,
For I know we are all one in Spirit.
All is well in my world.
You are a miracle. I repeat, YOU are a miracle. Every life has a reason. Every life has a purpose. You are a spark of the cosmic flame, which means that your life is very special and precious. You are loved, and you are also guided on this journey. You are not alone. You are never alone. You came into this world as light, and someone put a name on you. This light can sometimes be covered and buried deep in mud metaphorically by our early childhood experiences and the subsequent stories we tell ourselves that shape how we view ourselves and the world and relationships around us. As is often the case, we forget who we truly are, and so to understand ourselves we must embark on a journey and a special effort to rediscover our true nature, our humanness, our power, our courage, and our ability to love, be peaceful, and to create wonder in this world and in our lives.
Early on in our lives when we become conscious, which is probably earlier that you can remember our experience is impacted by events that carry an emotional charge. If we are fortunate, these early life experiences are nurtured and filled with love from our parents, family, and friends with a stable home and community that is safe and peaceful. If this was your experience, then it is something to be grateful for. It is far too easy for us to be judgmental and unwise to compare our experience with others, mindfulness teaches us to aspire to be nonjudgmental, which is much easier said than done in the practice of daily life. We all meet adversity in life in various forms, and we have different lessons to learn. Some people as children experience unimaginable trauma, abuse, and hostility, where the environment is anything but safe. Regardless of where your personal experience lies on this spectrum of being good or bad we all have something called high impact moments that shape our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the how we view the world and our place in it, beliefs about the safety of the world, feeling secure enough to take risks, and live with fun, love, and experience adventure, or if the world is scary, dangerous, and people are not to be trusted, in which case we may operate from a place of fear.
These high impact moments and beliefs become our mind’s default operating system found deep inside our subconscious mind. For one example, a child with an alcoholic parent may set aside their own emotions and sense of safety to help care for the parent who is coping with their own emotions maladaptively. With the roles reversed the child can become numb or even detached to the emotionally unsafe environment and can fail to develop healthy ways to manage their own emotions and wellbeing. The child is not allowed to be a child. The child may learn to become numb to emotions and pain, and then repeat the maladaptive behavior in their own adult life. A self-defeating core belief might be that the child does not deserve to be loved, and therefore won’t know how to love themselves or others in a healthy manner. Their adult relationships and more importantly their relationship with themselves may suffer unless they seek to understand themselves on a deeper level.
Mindfulness and other psychotherapeutic techniques and inner child work can help us bring awareness to our subconscious beliefs about ourselves and our relationships with friends, family, and our partners. The question being once you get to it is:
How am I showing up in my life in this present moment?
How do I want to be?
Chances are there is room for self-improvement, or at least that is my experience, and I say that without judgment. Understanding yourself requires effort to examine your life with thoughtfulness, compassion, and courage. It is uniquely terrifying to look inward and acknowledge what is good in our lives, what we could improve, and what we might feel negative about, including emotions such as guilt or shame- which are some of the lowest vibrational emotions you can carry. We all have off-peak moments, have been embarrassed, and have skeletons in our closets. We are all flawed. We are all human. May we all accept our humanness and understand that we are all just doing the best we can. For those who seek the truth in understanding ourselves while the effort can be scary it is also terribly wonderful. The legend of the phoenix arises from the ashes when you put in the work to reawaken the possibility of bringing in greater love and joy into your life. You may even ask:
How do I want to BE in my life, in this present moment?
What do I need to bring more joy into my life?
These questions require time and effort. Be kind to yourself and be patient as you work to understand and bring awareness to how you view yourself, others, and the world around you. Is it possible, and all things are possible, to forgive yourself, forgive your past, forgive your enemies, and those who have hurt you and the people you love. Are you open to that possibility? To know in this present moment, NOW, you can BE safe and secure, happy, joyful, loved, and free from fear. You can choose to act from your heart center, with love instead of fear. You can be kind to yourself. Love yourself and forgive yourself and others who have hurt you. You can let go of hate and resentment if you are carrying that emotion with you. You have the power to heal your life. Nothing that has happened in your past needs to weigh you down anymore, you can be free if you want to be.
Understanding ourselves means realizing that our beliefs are very powerful. We are powerful. Love is powerful. We are made with love. We are made with light. Remember you are a miracle, and a spark from the cosmic flame. Your light is special. Remember your light, that there is good in you, and see the light and the good in others- this is perhaps needed now more than ever in our lives.
What is exciting to me is seeking the truth about the world and this thing we call life. Who am I? Why am I here? Who or what is God/Source/The Intelligent Infinity? What is the purpose and meaning of life? What do I find value in? What is meaningful to me? If the unexamined life is not worth living, what does a life worth living look like? These are questions that inspire me to constantly learn, seek wisdom, travel across the world, experience different cultures meeting interesting people, and practice deepening my awareness about the world and myself as an individual, and now as a single father to two beautiful children.
I was raised in the framework of the catholic church and felt a strong connection to the teachings of Jesus as a young child. If heaven existed, and I was taught it did, then I wanted to get there, although my concept of heaven would later evolve. I believed we have a soul, that resonated, and that in this life our soul has an experience in a body, an incarnation. While attending university I was told by a professor, Dr. Drew Leder, a medical doctor with a PhD in philosophy who identified as a “Jewish Quaker with Hindu beliefs in reincarnation” that reincarnation was a fact! A fact I did not believe with my Catholic Christian upbringing… until I did! Thanks in large part to studying the research on reincarnation by Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Virginia’s Medical School. The work struck not only my intellectual mind, but perhaps more importantly my intuition as being true, sometimes you just know it in your bones and deep in your soul. This is what I understand to be true. You may feel different, and that is okay. There are many paths to God, or source, and whether you believe or not really doesn’t make any difference. Your actions in life do matter. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
One of the most challenging lessons I had to learn for myself on my own journey is when I started working with Dr. Wendy Hill to learn about hypnosis and complete my own inner child work. She agreed to teach me on the condition I went through the process. I had thought previously that this was unnecessary, the only thing that mattered was the present moment. However, I came across a roadblock with a client who suffered from tremendous anxiety and had hidden childhood trauma. While meditation could help retrieve some past memories of the trauma that had been blocked from conscience memory, I could not do this reliably. Hypnosis I later learned really was meditation but only more clinical in the sense I could use a current event and like a scalpel go back in time to the original wound to help the person heal their own trauma. That was fascinating to me. I could help lead others to heal themselves, which is how it works.
I had what I would call a great childhood, with really no complaints. However, we all carry baggage from our childhood that shapes who we are now, whatever age you are presently. This moment carries the past with you even though it is subconscious. My journey led me to confronting emotions. I had emotions, although often they were masked by anger. I know anger well. I had worked on my anger for years from a mindfulness lens. It wasn’t until I used hypnosis, that I discovered the root of my personal challenge with emotions. What I learned was that I had not learned to really feel emotions. I had learned to take care of other’s emotions, discounting my own. I could not feel love, not really, nor could I feel pain. There were benefits to this condition. However, this is what became my own personal self-defeating core belief. I was incapable of receiving love. The cure was simple, my truth, and the answer to my condition was to realize that I was loved. Love is always the healing frequency. While that may sound easy to some of you reading this, I can assure you, that truly loving yourself can be quite challenging, as we are often our own worst enemy. In the words of Dr. Wendy Hill, “it is all terribly wonderful.” If you are willing to explore your past you can experience the joy of the phoenix rising again.
What came next should be obvious, I listened to Foreigner’s “I want to know what love is,” over and over. It has been nearly three years since I went through my Renaissance experience with Dr. Hill, and it has opened my world to seeking even greater truths about myself, how I see the world, and how I can continue to grow and evolve. We all can heal. All you must do is ask. Everything starts with intention. When your intention is sincere and powered by love, you will inevitably be successful. As Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, “When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
We are in school right now and we all have lesson to learn. Our learning never ends, it simply grows. Seeking the truth about life requires a few things, including being open minded, curious, non-judgmental, patient, kind, having gratitude, and loving ourselves and others. While we may differ on our spiritual path, we can respect our differences knowing that in the end we all want to experience, peace, joy, and love in our lives
Life is difficult, being human is difficult, and to live well we must accept that. No one goes through life unscathed from experiencing illness, death, betrayal, failures, abuse, divorce, or other various traumas and unpleasantness. Our world is presently filled with lots of fear and fear propaganda, division, and polarity. But imagine your soul chose the obstacles and challenges you face in this lifetime in order to fulfill your soul mission which is to grow and develop spiritually to see the unity, divinity, and unconditional love that exists in all things of this world. Being human at our best is being open and respectful of one another and ALL our differences, as well as manifesting love, peace, strength, courage, compassion, bravery, humility, and kindness. Being human is powerful as we have the remarkable capacity to accomplish great things when we use our energy wisely, lovingly, and free from fear. Since you are human reading this YOU are powerful, but you must fuel it and be mindful of your energy and where you expend it. There are various forces and people in this world that seek to divide, control, and psychologically manipulate you if you are not careful, and when that happens, and it will, you must diligently reclaim and take your power and energy back. The good news is that you can do this at any time, for every moment is an opportunity for you to start anew, a new beginning to reclaim your energy and your power. That is the power of now.
As someone who works in a helping profession, I can tell you it is very easy to become depleted, burned out, or suffer from compassion fatigue. Many of you reading this may be various energy healers, empaths, intuitives, or sensitive to energy. Everything is energy, which is why when someone criticizes us, we feel attacked or like we have been physically hit, or when someone says “I love you, “sorry,” or “thank you” we feel warm and receive positive energy. We all have different stressors depending on where we are in life although many can be similar in nature regarding with such things as health, relationships, job, and finances to name a few. And just to be clear even if you are not sensitive to energy it will still affect you in various ways depending on your level of awareness but common ones are sleep, anxiety, depression, and irritability. Once a cycle of stress reactivity begins and becomes conditioned it can be quite difficult to break, but the obstacle becomes the path. Mindfulness is one useful tool because a practice in meditation can help bring awareness to fear, anxiety, and whatever else is troubling you. One way I think of this is in Star Wars type sci-fi movies when in out space a space ship uses a tractor beam to disable an incoming ship and take control of it to examine it. Our awareness can be used in the same way as once we have named or identified the issue- say fear or anxiety- we can start to choose how we can best respond to this to work on breaking the stress reaction cycle and create new paths that are more empowering.
For those on a more spiritual path sometimes view others as separate or nature as separate but eventually you will come to understand if you have not already that we are all connected. We also have a collective consciousness. We are all magnificent beings and created with love, and it is to that love and God our souls will reunite with one day. The wounds we accumulate in life can take a lot of energy out of us, which is why it is imperative to be conscientious about replenishing. It is easy to become depleted, and sometimes you will encounter people that can drain you if you are not careful. Being aware and protective of your energy is not only creating a healthy boundary but an act of self-compassion. Creating healthy boundaries is a very important lesson to learn and practice. Remember, life is difficult, and compassion is meeting difficulty with kindness. It is an absolute act of self-love to take you power back.
If you are noticing you have low or poor energy, or are experiencing the beginnings of physical or psychological breakdowns which can be so subtle, then it is a sign that you probably need to make changes in your life. Your anxiety is telling you something… so listen to your mind and body. Many people try to push their anxiety away and deny its existence or people just say they will power through it, but the body keeps score sooner or later and you will pay a price. Also, what you resist will persist and grow stronger if not dealt with.
You have to take your power back, and it starts with this moment. This is very important, intellectually many of you will know this that life is lived in the moment, but the moment is powerful. Setting the intention NOW, to make positive changes or at least the changes you want to see happen in your life is empowering. Choosing to do so with love, compassion, and kindness, rather than criticism, fear, shame, or guilt, will help propel you in this endeavor and ultimately lead to your freedom. Ask your soul (sometimes referred to as your higher self) what it wants you to learn? What is needed now? You can fill your cup in a number of ways through creating art, talking with friends, listening to music, making music, taking a walk in nature, listening to birds. Remember too that you will serve others greatly by serving yourself in ways that you are not used to as the wise Energy Healer Lee Harris shares. Your compassion and love must include you to be complete and in balance. Trust me that is a difficult and humbling lesson to learn, and is always a good practice as it can be relearned many times.
You are the master of your soul. Never let anyone take power over you. Be selective about who you let into your life and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with difficult people or on the extreme end cut the cord on those who are toxic and taking advantage of you or manipulating you. Be mindful of your energy and who energizes you- who adds to your energy and who takes it away. Declare to the universe that you desire positive people in your life. Remember you are a co-creator of this universe. Your thoughts are energy, use them wisely to create the life you want and desire. Every moment is an opportunity for you to make the changes you desire and take your power back.
One final practice to rid yourself of negative energy. One thing I have learned is that you can manipulate energy with the power of intention. At the end of a day, I use this phrase to help clear myself- “I ask to release all energies & emotions that are not mine.”