When We Feel Like Shutting Down Is When We Are Meant To Open Up

Every day, life presents us with opportunities to be free.

A lot of the time, though, we use these opportunities to lock ourselves up tighter.

We all experience signals from our bodies. We know the pain in our stomachs that tell us we need to eat. When we need to drink water, our mouths feel dry and maybe we get a headache. If we’ve stayed awake too long, our body tells us we need to sleep by slowing down, and maybe with nausea and eye twitches.

These signals are not pleasant. Our body gets our attention with discomfort and pain so that we will do what is good for us, what will ensure we maintain our health and carry on living.

But what about other signals?

What about when you feel a tight knot in the pit of your stomach when someone says something that triggers a painful memory?

What about when you feel a grip on your heart when you’re anticipating a difficult conversation with a loved one?

What about the lump in your throat when you have something to say?

What about the wall in your mind that won’t let you accept the validity of someone else’s opinion?

Like hunger, thirst, and exhaustion, these feelings signal a need. Yet we are often unwilling to fulfill these needs.

Instead, we label these feeling our issues or our baggage, and we shut down. To protect ourselves, we crawl inside ourselves and try to hide from the pain.

It never works though. Sooner or later, something triggers our issues and we get that signal again.

Life is constantly giving us opportunities to be free of our suffering. That’s what those signals really are.

We are meant to be healthy and carry on with our lives. When we say “No no no no no” to the lessons our body’s signals have to offer us, we put ourselves in a cage; we get stuck and we will continue spinning our wheels until we fulfill our need and move on.

The real issue isn’t our issues. We all know that everyone has their baggage. There’s only a problem when we believe that we aren’t meant to have our baggage.

Everything we have is ours for a reason. Our relationships and families, our faiths and cultures, our strengths and weaknesses, and even our issues and baggage.

It’s all part of our stories, our unique experiences of being a human. All of it is meant to push us on our individual paths. None of it is meant to shut us down. We do that of our own accord.

If we shut down when we experience that tightness in our gut, heart, throat, or mind, it is because we fear what will happen if we do what we need to do. We fear we will be rejected or abandoned. We fear we will fail. We fear we cannot handle what comes next.

We can’t control life. We can’t control other people’s responses. That’s not the point.


The point is, in life, we can either shut down or we can open up.

We can spin our wheels in a cage of our own making, or we can participate fully in life.

With every moment, life goes on. And we are meant to move on along with it.

Waste Not, Want Not Applies to Your Soul Too

So many of us cannot give of ourselves authentically because we are wasting our energy on activities that aren’t good for us.

“Soul-sucking job” is now a cliche, as is “toxic relationship.” We’re spendings millions of dollars on degrees we never use. Addiction statistics have reached absurd levels, and doctors in the US look at us funny if we say we aren’t taking any prescription meds. Netflix binging is the latest family value, and “healthy” can be used as an insult.

There are so many unnecessary demands and distractions in our lives, it’s a wonder any of us ever discover and cultivate our talents. It’s such a shame, because we all have them.

No matter who we are, we all have talents. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what they are. We don’t have be naturally inclined to music or sports or art or computers or sales…even though that’s what society seems to be telling us.

Whatever our talents are, they are meant to be used to help the world.

Whatever makes us feel good about ourselves is what we are meant to do.

A common misunderstanding of this is the difference between pride and superiority. We are supposed to be proud of who we are. Healthy pride is the result of doing something that reflects our soul’s desires. Hubris or superiority is the result of defining our value against the devaluation of others. We may gain something from superiority, but we are guaranteed to lose much more.

Most of us do not use our energy wisely. Like everything else, energy has become commoditized, something that can be bought and sold and squandered or used to distract us for a few minutes. It comes in a can, after all, or a paper cup with a logo on it.

We’ve lost sight of the fact that our energy is the expression of who we are. We cannot give authentically or expect to receive the blessings meant for us if we are wasting ourselves on jobs, relationships, or activities that do not feed our spirits.

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We want more because we are capable of so much more that we are doing.

The more we suppress our spirits, the more they push back against our skin, trying to get out. Each of us has a perfect design, composed of inclinations and abilities–ways of being, doing, creating, and loving–that do not go gentle into that good night. Our truest desires can become our greatest fears, our most crippling anxieties if we deny them.

That’s how we build our own cages. Then once we’re in our own cages, we’re easy prey for others to put into theirs.

Wasting our desires and talents, we find ourselves wanting more out of life. So we consume more of the things we’re “supposed” to want, what they say we want. But we don’t really want them. What we want is for our lives to have meaning.

The meaning of life is not measured in materials or public opinion.

A job may appear prestigious, but if it is not right for us, we will be wasted in it. The right job may appear unstable and risky, but when we do what we are meant to do, we find we are supported exactly how we need to be.

A couple may look poster-perfect, but if we don’t make each other happy, then we’re hurting ourselves and the people we are actually meant to be with. When we are truly in love, every minute is meaningful.

The thing is, when we are wasting ourselves, what we want seems impossible.
When we aren’t, we know what we want is possible.

There never has been, and never will be again, anyone quite like us. We are not meant to deny parts of ourselves or be anything we’re not. We are not here to waste our energy, to waste our lives.

We are here to learn, to grow, to live, love, and give…

 

As exactly who we are.

 

Why We’ve Got It So Wrong About Giving and Receiving

Give to receive.

This is a beatitude, some would say a platitude. It is a Universal Law. It is common sense.

Reciprocity. The Circle of Life. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Water a plant and watch it grow.

We may say we believe this, that we know it to be true; yet, as we go through our lives, we often see the opposite in practice. Some willfully choose not to practice reciprocity, but I believe most of us don’t understand it in the first place.

Discussions on this wisdom tend to focus on the giving aspect. Don’t be selfish–give. If you want to be blessed in your life, give. Give give give give give.

What about receiving?

Well, giving is the active principle here, right? Receiving is passive, right? So if we give, the receiving will just happen…? Nope.

The way in which we discuss this simple truth reveals the reason why we aren’t experiencing it in our lives.

We don’t know how to receive.

And honestly, we don’t know how to give either.

Looking at human history from the perspective of spiritual development, we can see that, as a species, we were moving through the third chakra–the personal power chakra. In other words, we have been concerned with understanding our power and learning how to use it on our environment. The monotheistic revolution, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution…

During this stage, we have prioritized our masculine energies and suppressed our feminine energies. We wanted to see how much power we can have, how much we can achieve. We’ve achieved a lot, to be sure, but at the same time, we’ve caused a lot of damage because we ignored the universal law of reciprocity.

In the pursuit of power, we have given. We have given our bodies, our time, our minds. But how many of us have given authentically? How many of us have given our true gifts?

The saying goes, “As you give, so shall you receive.”

If we give who we truly are, we will receive the blessings that are meant for us.

If, however, we give from a place of inauthenticity, we will receive likewise.

Also, because we have collectively devalued our feminine energies, we have forgotten how to receive. Actually, we have closed ourselves off from receiving.

What we have done on the collective level, we have also done on the individual level. We have divided our whole selves into superior and inferior aspects. Because we are so interested in exercising our personal power, we fabricate identities and lives that match a preferred image.

Yet we’ve found that this doesn’t really work. We try to control what cannot be controlled. We have broken from our true selves, and the result is illness–physical, mental, spiritual.

When we mistake this broken fabrication for our true selves, we give from this state of falseness and thus cannot receive the gifts that are meant for our true selves.

If we are living a lie, we push away what we are meant to receive because it scares this false self. If we are open to receive our truth, then the false self will be destroyed. We will necessarily see that we’ve been living wrongly and hurting ourselves–and by extension, the world.

They say, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but the truth is that both happen at the same time.

Receiving is a lot scarier than giving, because receiving requires us to acknowledge that our power isn’t everything. Receiving is surrendering control, which is also exactly how we need to give.

We give and receive by being our true selves.

When we give of ourselves, what it is in us to give, by doing what we are naturally designed to do…then we receive what we need to continue giving and doing.

This is the basis of faith and trust.

It’s not a promise of a comfortable life in which we always have the answers, but it is the path of a meaningful life.

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In the last several decades, we have begun moving collectively into a new developmental stage–the heart chakra. We are seeing a return of value to feminine energies. The desire for wholeness and health are pulling us up.

The time is ripe for stepping into our authentic paths. As each of us does so, we make the world a better place for all of us.

It’s time to stop trying to control everything. We only end up making messes we can’t clean up.

It’s time to be ourselves authentically, give ourselves completely, and receive ourselves gratefully.

It’s time to live from the heart. It’s time to love.

Dreams Come True When We Show That We Want Them To

Our dreams really can come true.

They are meant to. That’s why we have them in the first place.

The idea is so huge, so grandiose; it sounds like an impossible feat. But everything can be accomplished one step at a time.

When our hearts reveal their desires to us, we are tasked with manifesting those desires. The things we truly want, the Universe wants us to have. As we set out to make our dreams come true, we work with the natural energies of the world, or Divine will. We are responsible for our destinies, but we’re not alone in making them happen.

Sometimes we feel cut off and alone because we aren’t doing what we truly want. Of course, we’re not meant to do exactly our favorite thing every minute, but we are meant to do the work that fulfills us. That’s what the Divine wants for us. That’s what the world requires from us.

The work we are meant to do isn’t always our job, so we needn’t get caught up on that idea. For some, their lives’ work is what they do in their “spare time.”

Our destinies aren’t something to get anxious about. Too often, we keep ourselves stuck by trying to look too far in the future.

Living our authentic lives starts exactly where we are right now. What does your heart want right now?

Stepping into your authentic path is just that: a step. Often, what life asks you to do at first looks pretty small. Because it’s so small, we often dismiss its tug on our hearts. On the other hand, it may be something big, so big it would turn your world upside down.

It could be anything. The thought of it might excite or terrify you. You know what it is, though.

Maybe it’s a religion or spirituality you’re curious about. Maybe it’s a hobby that appeals to you. Maybe it’s a place that holds wonder for you. Maybe it’s a social cause that breaks your heart. Maybe it’s a person who intrigues you.

If it’s something you’ve denied yourself, it will poke at you. The mention of it will elicit a reaction from you.

One thing is for sure: Your life will be better if you step toward your heart’s calling.

It might mean buying a book or a plane ticket. It might require taking a class or joining a group.

You can’t plan for how it will change your life, but you can trust that your true self knows what’s best.

So what are you waiting for?

The next time you feel a poke from your heart’s desire, don’t tell it to be quiet. Say yes to it. Whether you take a small step or a giant leap of faith, just say yes.

Say yes and show that you’re ready for your dreams to come true. Dreams don’t respond well to no. Dreams come true for those who have faith and trust–and who live by them.

Do you have faith? Do you know that your dreams can come true?

What’s the very next thing you would do if you did?

The Reason We Can’t Skip Meditation

This is all well and good about transforming our energy and following God’s will but…how to do it?

The most effective, tried-and-true starting point is meditation.

As with many things spiritual, some people hear or read this word and roll their eyes. Why meditation though? Who wants or has time to sit cross-legged and struggle fruitlessly to clear their minds? It’s frustrating and boring and painful. These were my thoughts when I was first introduced to the practice.

I’ve tried many different types of meditation: Zen, guided, Shambala, visualization, even eating meditation, and I’ve discovered that the reason it is so important is that meditation teaches us how to be comfortable just being.

We do it naturally as babies, but over the years we lose the ability to simply be. Being is the starting point for living our best lives. Meditation takes us back to that starting point.

From meditation, we can move into manifestation. Once we can be, then we can make.

What happens, though, is we get caught up in the making, to the point that we lose sight of who we really are. Only by being our authentic selves can we do what we truly want and manifest the life we are meant to live.

Okay, so meditation. Different ways of meditating work for different people. If you have a negative idea of what meditation is, it doesn’t have to be that for you.

Meditation can be drinking a cup of tea. Meditation can be a walk along the creek. Meditation can be lying in the sun.


What matters most when we meditate is that we allow ourselves to be, just as we are in the present moment.

That’s what repels a lot of people about meditation, and it’s precisely the benefit. Many people are repulsed by the thought of meditating because they don’t like themselves. They know meditation brings us face-to-face with ourselves, and they don’t want to look.

Here’s the thing though: If you don’t like yourself, you’re not living your real life.

When we are true to our designs, being who we are meant to be, there is absolutely no reason not to love ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be and to express who we are, we are happy and we radiate positivity.

Meditation is the necessary starting point of positive living because when we are simply being, our hearts speak our desires and we are open to listening.

Meditation is nerve-wracking to us when we aren’t living our true lives, because we know we need to make changes. We don’t have to be terrified of change. If we know we need to change, we will be happier for it.

So pick a way of meditating that appeals to you and start small.

If you want to sit and breathe, do it for 2 minutes, then 5, then 7, then 10. There’s no rush or pressure at all in meditating.

If you want to meditate over tea, give your full attention to the process. Pouring the water, steeping the tea, watching the steam rise, sipping the tea, feeling it warm you all the way down. Savor each moment.

Meditation is a joyful practice, and it offers endless gifts. When we meditate, we receive insights into life, solutions to our problems, ideas for work and creative projects–all of which lead us where we want to go because they come from within our hearts.

Meditation is our direct line to the still, small voice of God within us. Meditation reveals what we are meant to do and what will make us happy.

That’s why meditation. It’s the first step, and it cannot be skipped over.

First we meditate, then we make our dreams come true.

Happy Problem-Solving!

We are always going to have problems. That’s just part of the package of life.

Truthfully, though, a lot of us have far fewer problems than we think we do. Illness, death, starvation, war, abuse… These are problems. And I don’t pretend to have answers.

No, I admit, the majority (but not all by any means) of the problems I encounter in my life or through other peoples’ are #firstworldproblems. As in, we wouldn’t have these problems if we weren’t lucky enough to live a comfortable lifestyle.

I just spent three days with someone who could speak without complaining. It made me very sad because it was readily apparent that everything that frustrated her was also created by her. Call it playing the victim, call it ingratitude or attitude… Beneath it all, that kind of behavior is a form of masochism, which is why it’s so repellent.

I’ve met many people like this. I remember being one of them.

This person doesn’t want to be happy, at least not right now. This person wants to suffer, but why?

From what I’ve seen, I believe this masochistic negativity is triggered by heartbreak and trauma and sustained out of fear. Negativity in the form of complaining and resentment functions as a security blanket.  By complaining, we protect ourselves; we place the blame for our pain outside of ourselves because we are afraid of it being our fault. 

When we cling to our negativity, we are afraid that letting go of it means we are saying that whatever was done to us was okay or that we somehow caused it just by being who we are.

But blame is not really the point.

Taking responsibility for our well-being is not the same thing as taking responsibility for what was done to us. Nothing will take away the events of the past or the scars they gave us, but our hope for happiness lies with our choice to have it.

Happiness is not a perfect state of eternal and constant bliss. As before, we will always have problems. You can tell, though, the people who are generally happy, who maintain a sense of positivity and are able to bounce back after life gives them a knock. Sure, sometimes this is a result of privilege, but it is something that is accessible to everyone who truly wants it…and is willing to do the work for it.

The right work. Becoming a more positive person is not a matter of whether someone is hardworking or lazy. It’s a matter of bravery.

When we truly want to be happy, we make it happen.

The first step is committing, from this moment forward, to be responsible for our own happiness.

The second step is making that commitment again and again and again and again.

We have to let go of our unhappiness in order to be happy. It’s just common sense. We have to let go of our hold on the past to move forward. Yet this is not a one time purchase.

Life will poke at our negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. That’s not something that will ever stop. In fact, when we start on the path of happiness, we’ll notice the poking even more. Our default patterns will want to take over, and we must over and over choose to be positive.

This is very tiring work. Sometimes we will fail. We will choose poorly. We will default because it’s easier. But we will also succeed, choose well, and change. And it gets easier because it’s what we truly want. Over time, we change our default setting.

We first change our behaviors, until we’ve changed our overall energy. We go from making positive choices to being a positive person.

When we become positive people, we don’t stop having problems, but we can solve them. Maybe not always as in “solve for x,” but we can figure out how to handle our problems. It’s true that sometimes to solve a problem, what’s needed is a fresh set of eyes.


By choosing happiness, we give ourselves a fresh set of eyes. We take on a new perspective, so we see our problems differently. We see everything differently.

It’s possible. It happens. Happiness and positivity are ours for the taking when we really want them.

It’s a huge change, and change is scary. But it is absolutely a change worth making.

After all, it’s only the rest of your life.

 

So the next time you feel the urge to complain or someone complains at you, take a moment to discover a positive choice to handle the situation. You’ll know what to do, then do it. Each small step adds up to miles.

The Beliefs That Make Us Who We Are

Love.

I find it puzzling and ridiculously annoying that the English language uses only one word to describe about a million different things.

I can love my spouse. I can love my parents. I can love my children, my friends, my pets. I can love God. I can love traveling or writing or cycling or knitting. I can love peanut butter and Netflix.

Yet these are not all the same thing.

Love can be a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. Love can be used in a healthy way and in a toxic way. Love can be spoken but not meant. Love can be epic or tiny.

This doesn’t make any sense. What is love, anyway?

I am a romantic of the highest caliber, so, to me, love is everything. I have sought after it my whole life, and now that I’ve found it, I am very opinionated about it. So too, I’ve found, is everyone else.

They say, When you know, you know. And I know. I know in my bones, in my gut, in my soul. I have found love. I am in love. I understand the words of the poets; I see a whole new world; I am a better person because I truly love someone who truly loves me.

But there are many people who want to argue that what I have is not love, because I share it with someone of my same sex.

I want to say to these people: If you actually have love and know what it is, how can you deny that I do too, even if it doesn’t look the same as yours? Of course, I can’t just claim that homophobic people don’t have real love in their lives.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently, if you can call it a conversation that is. Mostly it was me yelling while she responded calmly with her opposing opinions. I asked her to explain why she believes love between two people of the same sex is wrong. Her response was, “Because it ends life.” She believes the whole point of life is to procreate; life wants only to reproduce more life. Homosexuality goes against nature, she says, which is why it is a sin.

At the end of our talk, I still wanted to tear someone’s hair out, but even so, I knew this person was a godsend. I needed to hear someone’s reasons for discriminating against people like me beyond “For the Bible tells me so.” I could argue against her reasoning point by point, but the real point is that we hold different beliefs.

I could never believe that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that love is not limited by anatomy. I believe real love always makes the world a better place. That is a belief that makes me who I am.

We all have beliefs that are tied inextricably to the people we are meant to be. Does that mean that the belief in the unnaturalness of some people’s identities are meant to be?Something deep inside me tells me no. I believe that jam should be spread on a scone before the clotted cream, but that’s not tied to my destiny. There’s a line between opinion and belief, though they too often get confused.

Beliefs go deeper than preference, deeper than what we’ve been taught. Our beliefs are written into make up, and often we don’t even know what they are until we look at them. Some of our beliefs are meant to be various, but some are meant to be shared among us all. And Love is at the heart of all belief. No pun intended.

We’ve reached the stage in our development as a species in which we need to examine the stories and beliefs that make us who we are. This need comes from within us; it is a collective urge for growth. It’s nothing new, of course. Mystics and sages have been doing this for centuries upon centuries, but now in the first world there is a mass movement toward self-examination and self-improvement.

Why? Because now we need more than survival. We need more than comfort. We need more than power. We need love.

So the question still lingers, What is love? Given the plethora of ways we use the word, I think it’s clear that, collectively, we don’t yet know or understand it. When we do, I believe the world will look very different.

Love is a huge part of what we are as humans and who we are meant to be. As we search for love, we are really searching for ourselves. That’s where it begins. With you. With me. With each of us.

Have a look see. In your heart of hearts, what do you believe in? What do you love?