Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Hāfez quote May 15, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth “you owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that–it lights the whole world.

~ Hāfez


The freedom of forgiveness August 11, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 9:50 pm
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I had such a thought-provoking comment on my Forgiveness post from last week that I felt drawn to write a follow-up post on the subject. I’m re-posting the comment here as this blog lives in two places so not everyone would have had a chance to view the original. James said:

Forgiveness is an interesting concept. Such an easy word, but so difficult to master. I have recently turned to Taoism to find my way. In my readings, I have found that sometimes forgiveness is a selfish act. I had a friend do something very low down to me. I forgave him. We aren’t friends, we won’t hang out anytime soon, but the forgiveness was a selfish act, it was to make me feel better. It was to let the bad energy leave me. But recently, my wife and I have come under a lot of stress, which has turned into arguments. It is tough to forgive, because that kind of forgiveness can’t be selfish, it has to be giving. I have a hard time with that…hence the Taoist way. Hopefully I will be enlightened and learn.

James raises such a good point, that we can think of forgiveness as selfish because it makes us feel better. But forgiveness does far more than make you feel better–it creates healing (or at least an opening for healing) for both parties concerned. Forgiveness really isn’t about the other person–it is your reaction to what occurred that created you being upset in the first place, and so really it is all about you clearing up your own energy around the situation and/or the person and releasing any negative buildup. However, that doesn’t mean that the other person isn’t affected by it. As Catherine Ponder says, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” That link is a two-way street, usually with negative energy circulating between the two people involved even if they aren’t interacting with each other. The more we hold on to our negative thoughts about what happened, the more negativity flows back and forth along that link. Once it has been dissolved, however, no matter who does the dissolving, both parties will reap the benefits of the forgiveness by no longer being caught in an endless loop of anger.

Now, sometimes it is easier to forgive when you think of it as being selfish. The other person hurt you and while you know you need to let the anger go so that you are no longer continuing to hurt yourself after the fact, you don’t necessarily want to help the other person either. I think this might be a good time to point out that no matter what happens between two people, there are always two sides, two ways of perceiving what took place. Usually, our feelings of hurt don’t come from the facts of the situation themselves, they come from the way we choose to interpret the facts. In the heat of strong emotion it may be difficult to recognize you have a choice about the interpretation, but the recognition of that choice is perhaps the most freeing realization you can ever have.

But no matter how you think about it, forgiveness is both selfish and giving. Whether you choose to forgive for your own energetic benefit or because your relationship with another requires you to be as loving and as giving as you can be, the best thing you can do for everyone involved is to forgive. Forgive yourself, forgive the other person, forgive the situation, forgive the person, just keep on forgiving until you genuinely feel like all of the roots of the anger have dissipated. Forgiveness is the quickest road to freedom there is. Namaste.

Photo: “A Brand New Day,” originally uploaded by Hendra Saputra

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Reaping what you sow August 5, 2008

Filed under: practice,prosperity — jennsheridan @ 8:35 pm
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Lavish [love] on others, receive it gratefully when it come to you. Cultivate friendship like a garden. It is the best love of all.
~Sister Helen Prejean

As I emerge from my first hot shower since Friday, I have a renewed sense that all is well in my world. I feel like I imagine my cats feel when waking up from a long nap–contented, cozy, comfortable. I just want to stretch and sigh and wiggle my toes and relax. Life truly is good.

I’ve been reading the past few days from a classic new thought book, Catherine Ponder’s The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. Like many classic prosperity texts, it is full of stories of how people changed their thinking and changed their lives. It’s a wonderful reminder of how the most basic law of the universe works. The bottom line? You reap what you sow. What does that mean exactly? That what you give is what you receive. You want love? Give love. You want respect? Give respect. You want riches? Give of yourself richly. Everything you give out into the universe, whether it’s the energy you radiate or donations of time and money or the way you treat your co-workers, it all comes back to you. When you’re giving generously, positively, then it comes back to you generously and positively, but it works the other way around too–when you’re miserly or angry, that comes back to you as lack and negativity.

It sounds oh, so simple . . . and it is. But practicing it positively isn’t always easy. If it were then everybody would be doing it. I’m looking at it as my challenge for the week. Whenever I can, I remind myself of my Truth. It might be with an affirmation (God is the Source of my infinite supply) or I might take it a step farther and do a little visualization with an affirmation (I am open to receive ALL of life’s riches) or I might take a moment to be grateful for whatever is right in front of me.

There’s a lot of power in gratitude, and I’ve been playing around with blessing whatever I have on hand. For instance, I am incredibly grateful that the hot water heater did not die during my Avon Walk training when I was taking lots of Epsom salt baths to help heal my sore, aching muscles. I say a little blessing for the food that I prepare for my husband and myself, or for the person who prepares my food when I eat out. I am also grateful both for the paycheck I’ll be picking up tomorrow and for money that is no longer due, like a $15 reduction on a monthly medication that just went into effect this weekend. Hallelujah!

Finally, I’m looking for ways that I can give. While money is definitely a part of the universal flow, the sky is the limit when it comes to things that we may give. It may be as simple as sharing a little piece of myself in my writing or brightening a friend’s day with an authentic compliment. Or it might be a volunteer opportunity–I’m looking forward to manning a rest stop at a cycling event this weekend, giving back to some folks who supported me during my Avon Walk training. One of my favorite examples from the book was a woman with flowers in her garden who took a few to an elderly shut-in across the street.

So what are you interesting in sowing this week? It doesn’t take a huge shift in your thinking for you to begin to see results. Take up the challenge with me and remember that the Universe is the Source of your infinite supply, be grateful for what you already have, and find ways to begin giving of yourself to the world around you. Then pay attention to what surprises come up for you, perhaps an unexpected check in the mail or maybe friends offering to take you out for dinner. The world is your oyster–enjoy the benefits! Namaste.

Photo: “harvest,” originally uploaded by Kerri 2008

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A New Earth — Finding Who You Truly Are April 16, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the seventh week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.”
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I swear, the A New Earth webinars with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle are just getting better and better. Each week we get to dive deeper and deeper into the present moment, deeper and deeper into one of the most important things we can learn, as Oprah said on Monday, which is to live life from a place of acceptance, of non-resistance to the present moment.

The three levels of every situation
One of the callers this week spoke of being highly sensitive, which leaves her often overwhelmed. I think Eckhart’s answer can be applied to anyone, sensitive or not, in any situation that is dredging up any type of negative emotion. Eckhart spoke of there being three levels to every situation.

1. What is happening: The first level of a situation is whatever is happening at this moment that is disturbing you (i.e. traffic, long lines at the store, loud noises).
2. Your reaction to what is happening: The second level of a situation is your reaction to what is happening, whether it’s a physical reaction (i.e. a contraction in your stomach) or an emotional reaction (i.e. overwhelment, frustration, irritation, annoyance, anger) or a thought pattern (i.e. I’m miserable, I can’t stand this any longer).
3. Your awareness of both of these levels: The third level is your awareness of the situation and your reaction to it, where there’s no judgment, it’s just purely observation.

When we let go of having our self-concept tied up in the way we react to things (like being highly sensitive) and accept what is happening in the now without judgment, we release old patterns of behavior that have left us feeling trapped. This is where true freedom lies.

Reaction vs. Response
I loved the distinction between REACTION and RESPONSE that I got out of this week’s class. Reaction comes from your ego, and always has a piece of what the ego expects to get out of the situation. Reaction is a conditioned response, based in the past and therefore never totally adequate to the present moment. Response comes from a place of truth, from your inner being, your inner wisdom, without judgment or negativity. When responding to a challenging person from a place of awareness, your intuition will provide the right words for the situation. It might be what the other person needs to hear or it could just be the truth you need to speak in that moment, but it will come up without negative emotion or attachment.

Abundance comes only to those who already have it.
This idea is one that I think many people have trouble really wrapping their minds around. I know when I was growing up, I didn’t understand the full meaning of Jesus’s words, “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” But once you understand that abundance comes from within, that it is the divine birthright of each and everyone of us, a light begins to shine on the meaning. We are all abundant–those who recognize this truth live this truth, and money flows to them like a river; those who do not believe this to be true live from a place of lack, and lack flows to them like a river. So how do you turn things around in your life? Begin by recognizing the abundance that is already present in your life. If you don’t see abundance anywhere, you aren’t looking closely enough. Abundance isn’t just in your bank account–it’s in the abundance of fresh product at the supermarket, the abundance of flowering plants in a garden, the abundance of blue in the sky. Appreciate what is around you, truly feeling grateful for it. Oprah even suggested keeping a gratitude journal, where every day you write down at least 5 things you are grateful for. Another way to truly recognize your own abundance is to give to others whatever it is you feel you are lacking. Anyone who can give, already has, and therefore is able to receive more in return.

I’ve been expressing my gratitude all over the place today. I’m grateful for the beautiful contrast between the blue sky and green trees outside my window. I’m grateful for the love of my wonderful cats and husband. I’m grateful to be home with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle today. I’m grateful to this path and to all that I’ve learned. I’m grateful for the little deck garden I created with lettuce and herbs. I’m grateful to have a large deck that can double as an outdoor dining room. I could keep going and going and going . . . So, what are you grateful for this week? Today? In this moment? Soak up that appreciation, write it down, and keep looking for all the good, all the bounty, that is already present in your life. Namaste.

Photo: “Revealing,” originally uploaded by Kjunstorm

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Let go and flow! April 15, 2008

Filed under: practice,prosperity — jennsheridan @ 2:31 pm
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I was thinking this morning about the concept of paying taxes as a way to essentially force circulation into the economy. From a metaphysical perspective, holding on to anything–money or otherwise–stops the flow in and out of your life. The law of circulation says the more you give, the more you receive. When we think about taxes negatively, as something that is being taken away from us, that’s another way to block the flow of energy for us. I’d like to shift that around today and recognize that I am giving this money, that it is part of the divine flow and a symbol of the circulation of money in my life. Just in writing that here, I already feel better about the checks I am mailing today and know that paying my taxes with love and trust is another way that I can open myself up to that divine flow. Care to join me?

I’d like to share with you an excerpt from Eric Butterworth’s The Universe is Calling that I’ve always found inspirational. He’s talking here about what it is we hold on to that keeps us small, keeps us trapped, but I think about these monkeys every time I’m holding on to anything too tightly.

“An interesting system has been used for capturing monkeys in the jungles of Africa. The goal is to take the monkeys alive and unharmed for shipment to the zoos of America. In an extremely humane way, the captors use heavy bottles, with long narrow necks, into which they deposit a handful of sweet-smelling nuts. The bottles are dropped on the jungle floor, and the captors return the next morning to find a monkey trapped next to each bottle. How is it accomplished? The monkey, attracted by the aromatic scent of the nuts, comes to investigate the bottle, puts its arm down the long narrow necks, closes its hand around the nuts, and is trapped. The monkey can’t take its hand out of the bottle as long as it’s holding the nuts, but it is unwilling to open its hand and let them go. The bottle is too heavy to carry away . . . so the monkey is trapped. . . .

Here is an imaging exercise for you to work with: Take [an] inventory, listing all the challenges, conflicts and difficulties that you may have. Let them be symbolized by the nuts in the bottle with the long, narrow neck. Feel your hand clasping a nut. Feel the frustration and pain of entrapment. Ask yourself, ‘Am I content to have this bottle? Do I really want to be free?’ There is only one way. Open your hand and feel your arm slipping out of the bottle. You are free. You might say, ‘I let go of resistance, resentment, and anxiety.’ Let it all go. There is no way to gain freedom unless you let go. Even God cannot set you free unless you follow the freeing call to let go.”

Photo: “go with the flow…,” originally uploaded by muha…


The old man is snoring December 18, 2007

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:44 pm
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There’s something really peaceful about waking up and hearing the rain pitterpattering outside your window. Of course, it’s peaceful in the way that it makes you want to just roll over and go right back to sleep. It’s almost 10 and I’m still struggling against the urge to curl back up under the covers. Not necessarily to sleep, but perhaps with a good book and a nice cup of tea. If I had a fireplace, I’d really be in trouble.

But instead, it is December 18th, and with long-distance relatives, I should probably be wrapping up some of my Christmas shopping today. Productivity and rain don’t go hand in hand, but I am an evolved being who can go against her primal urges. Or something like that. That word “should” is a sticky one. I strongly believe that doing things because we “should” do them leaves us often doing them for the wrong reasons. “Should” implies that there are expectations we are attempting to live up to, quite often our own, but that we don’t really want to be doing these things. So I have to ask myself, do I really feel like I “should” finish up that Christmas shopping today?

When I look at it a little more closely, I see a few things going on here. First, there’s the “should” of buying presents. The good news is, I really like to give things. I get a lot of joy out of giving. Especially when you get to give something that either you really like (ideally that they like too) or that they’ve really been wanting. There’s warm-and-fuzziness in that. My ideas this year run the full gamut of things I’m really excited to be giving to things that the person really needs that aren’t really very exciting to things that just express that I was thinking of them. You win some, you lose some. But overall I’m feeling pretty good about the gift-giving piece. Then there’s the “should” of the timing. That really just comes from living 3,000 miles away from your family and having been on the receiving end of late, well, everything. I know I like to have things to open on the day of the gift-giving occasion, whatever it may be, and therefore I strive to get things to people on time. And energetically it feels good to follow the golden rule and do for others what you’d like to have others do for you. The last piece of the “should” is about finishing up today specifically, and that’s a little more nebulous. I think it has something to do with not spending more on the shipping than you do on the presents. The truth is, I may have already missed the window on that, who knows. But I do know that I will feel better when everything is safely making its way east.

So I feel much more contented about the whole thing when I realize that there’s no “should” about it — I want to wrap things up today because it will make me feel good to do so. And if I don’t, well, there’s always tomorrow.