Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Writing on a blank slate February 20, 2009

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 2:47 pm
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Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, where something might be planted, a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.
~Rumi

New beginnings can be wonderful, feeling like a fresh start and a clean slate. If you’re anything like me, you like to play with the idea of reinventing yourself, of becoming that person you’ve always wanted to be. But it may seem like often you find yourself falling back into old patterns more quickly than you might have expected. It is challenging to be a truly blank slate. The past is essentially a habit, and it shows up in the way we think and talk and act. We may think that we need a change of place or people in order to achieve that state of newness, but wherever you go there you are. Unless the change begins within, it isn’t really change.

So it was with both nervousness and excitement that I started my new job in January. After a blissful 15 months without a “real job,” I was looking forward to getting back into regular interaction with people and putting some new skills into practice. The time off had given me a real perspective shift and an opportunity to make some real and lasting (I hoped) changes to the way I thought about work. I was a little nervous about the apparent loss of my freedom, but I was mostly nervous that I might fall back into the same negative patterns that had left me so miserable at my last full-time job.

I’ve been there for six very intense weeks now, and while you could argue that isn’t really long enough to know how things will play out long term, I have seen quite a bit of evidence that things really are different this time around. The time off to regroup and put some key concepts into practice outside of a full-time job enabled some new patterns to take root, and that investment seems to be paying off big time now that I am back in the workplace. And while I would not say that I have handled every situation that has come up perfectly, I’ve managed to stay calm and collected even when things have gotten pretty stressful, and on my best days, I feel like I’m demonstrating to my co-workers that balance can exist even within the midst of apparent chaos.

The best part about this experience is that it feels like I am creating it consciously. I had a choice about how I approached this from day one. I could either experience this job like many of my co-workers do, as a highly stressful and chaotic workplace that requires you to work around the clock. Or I could begin by knowing that a true work/life balance was possible for me here, and that it was an opportunity for me to show up not just as a good employee but as a spiritual individual, sowing seeds of peace. I look for, and find, the good in everyone I work with and in everything that I am doing, and I truly feel like while this might not be the Work I was born to do, it is definitely the work that I am meant to be doing at this moment in time.

I may not be a true blank slate, but I can take steps every day to overwrite past patterns with the new ways I choose to think and talk and act. What choices can you make today to begin to shift your perspective and enable change to begin to take place in your life? And are you noticing and appreciating even the smallest changes that are already showing up for you? This is my daily challenge to myself, to stay conscious and present enough to make a choice about how I respond to my work and who I show up as while I am at work, and then to appreciate the good that comes out of these choices, reinforcing the new patterns and allowing them to grow stronger. If you choose to take this challenge on for yourself, I would love to hear how it goes for you, and I wish you the best on your journey! Namaste.

Photo: “beginnings…,” originally uploaded by Sir Mervs

 

Happily may I walk September 2, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 4:40 pm
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I’ve been a bit under the weather this past week. One part lots of pollen in the air, one part working more than usual, one part socializing during the time that I’m accustomed to taking for myself, and it adds up to exhaustion. Unfortunately, my body is still operating on old patterns–assuming I won’t take care of things myself, it stirs things up with the occasional illness to force me to take it easy for a time. I’ve been trying to convince it that times have changed, dialing things way back this weekend and even canceling my Saturday plans to ensure I had plenty of time to recoup. But no luck–the run-down, allergetic feeling I’ve been struggling with all week has finally turned into a full-blown cold.

So this week my plan is to return to the basics, focus on taking care of myself, staying present with what’s going on with me, and just take things one at a time. I pulled out my old standby (best friend, really) Earth Prayers this morning and was struck by this Navajo chant. I loved the sense of balance, of bringing things back into alignment, that it conveyed. Hope it appeals to you as much as it is appealing to me today. Namaste.

House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.

Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.
An offering I make.
Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.
Restore my voice for me.
This very day take out your spell for me.

Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.
My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lovely feelings may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.

Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.

May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.

Photo: “after the storm,” originally uploaded by alex de carvalho

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The agony and the ecstasy August 4, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:30 am
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You have been thinking about your future long enough. You may be sick and tired of going around on the same mental loops as you attempt to create something different from the life you currently have. Instead of fighting against the resistance you feel, try letting go of the attachment that you have to any long-term goals. You may be pleasantly surprised at what happens when your mind is freed from previous expectations.
~Rick Levine, Scorpio horoscope for August 3, 2008

This past week I had a glimpse into the life of a manic depressive, with amazing highs followed closely by horrifying lows. It was a 7-day roller coaster ride, and while the highs were magnificent and I definitely would have rather not had the lows, I can see how both ends of the spectrum are part of the fabric of living life fully.

Our summer adventure was an absolute blast. We had a wonderful road trip up and back, listening to recordings of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho’s wonderful journey The Alchemist. Crater Lake was breathtakingly beautiful, even for a second visit. We had a lovely “it’s a small world” experience by running into a former co-worker of mine shortly after our arrival at the rim. Our campsite was somewhat exposed, but we ended up not having many neighbors so it felt very private. We were captivated by the geology of the mountain and even ended up going to my first ever campfire circle to learn as much as we could about how the lake was formed. We absolutely fell in love with Ashland and can’t wait to go back when we have plenty of time to dawdle. Our B&B, Morical House Garden Inn, was gorgeous and comfortable with a wonderfully welcoming innkeeper and yummy-smelling breakfast included. We didn’t end up tasting said breakfast as we opted to revisit a wonderful little restaurant we discovered driving home from our honeymoon two years ago, Morning Glory. In addition to having some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, it’s a cozy, comfortable, homey spot that just makes you feel good from the inside out. All in all, a fabulous vacation.

The trouble began when we arrived back home. Normally I’m thrilled to be home, and I was looking forward to an evening with just my cats as my husband had plans to go out that night. But I was antsy, feeling like I’d rather still be on vacation. I fell into some old patterns, which I later recognized was me looking for a way to make myself feel better that felt familiar instead of doing something centering and grounding. The next couple of days were a downward spiral of a pretty severe funk, aggravated by discovering a cockroach in one of our kitchen cabinets and having the hot water heater go kaput. Every time I’d start to think I was pulling out of the funk, something else would happen to send me back down again.

What I recognize now is that my sense of where I was (too small, now dirty-feeling apartment, not enough money coming in, not getting paid to do the work I was born to do, not liking my body or my wardrobe, etc.) compared to my sense of where I want to be (work that enables me to share my gifts with the world, spacious and comfortable home with plenty of room to grow into, large income that supports all of our needs and desires with plenty to share with others, active lifestyle that keeps me lean and full of energy, etc.) was extremely out of alignment. My energy was all stuck in judgment and resistance, the result of which was several days of misery.

Thankfully, today was the day when I got to turn it all around. I’d just had the opportunity to tell a coaching client last weekend that the great thing about a spiritual practice is that you’re building a foundation for your life. While the analogy of building muscles can be useful, the good news here is that unlike your muscles, stopping the spiritual workout does not mean you have to start over from scratch–the muscles don’t deteriorate in your absence. It doesn’t take much–a five minute meditation, a repetition of your mantra, singing a verse of a chant–to get you reconnected to your Source. Pulling a couple of tools out of my toolbox this morning, I was able to move myself into a place of peace and acceptance. Not only to I no longer feel stuck, I feel like I am soaring and free. I’m calling today my New Year’s Day because I feel like I just hit the reset button. It’s a new year, clean and open and full of possibilities. And I’m thrilled to get to live each of its days as fully as I know how. Namaste.

Photo: A shot of our breakfast table at Morning Glory in Ashland, OR

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Heat wave May 15, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 3:36 pm
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It’s hot. There’s really no other word for it. I’m sure people who live in Texas and Vegas would find this comfortable, but I am a fully acclimated San Franciscan and it is hot. It never dropped below 80 degrees in my apartment last night and we’re supposed to have highs near 100 today. I’ve been trying to catch back up this week, but it’s been tough. When the temperature soars, my energy plummets. So new plan–today I’m using my morning hours to be active and I’ll spend my afternoon in air conditioning, exploring places like the library and the mall to their best advantage. One of these days I’ll get back on track, but in the meantime, I’m using being off-routine to help bring any resurfacing old thought patterns off their normal routines as well. I’m practicing what I preach, recognizing that any situation can be turned around and found to be positive. Wish me luck!

I’d like to leave you with a little inspiration that came to me this week via email. It’s a geeky self-improvement message–right up my alley and hopefully yours as well. Namaste.

Installing Love

Tech Support: Yes, how can I help you?

Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support: Yes, I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running?

Customer: Let’ s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge andResentment have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error: Program not running on internal components.” What should I do?

Tech Support: Don’ t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

Customer: So, what should I do?

Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

Customer: Okay, done.

Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes a while, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

Customer: Thank you, God.

Photo: “Stay cool,” originally uploaded by Alexander Kaiser

 

Unprocrastination March 8, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 12:06 am
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I’m not sure which pattern of mine I would consider most debilitating. Is it my perfectionism? My habit of living in the past or for the future? My procrastination? Or are they all distracting enough to warrant constant vigilance? The degree of success I have in shifting my behavior in relation to these patterns definitely depends on the day.

Today was all about unprocrastinating. I realized a couple of days ago that I’d allowed a lot of paperwork and phone calls to pile up over the course of the past few months. For someone who puts considerable effort into living in the present, I’d allowed a whole whallup of past to build up until it had become a palpable burden, one that needed short-term relief and long-term realignment. I got to practice some of my recent success in mindfulness as I sorted the mail, paid bills, made phone calls, ran errands, and did laundry, which meant I had ideas bubbling up all day for what to write about, new things to try out, classes to teach. And I also had a beautiful sense of release, of being in integrity, of aligning with the order and harmony I desire to manifest in my home and my life.

While I had let things slide lately, I do have a variety of tried-and-true methods I recommend for the recovering procrastinator as you attempt to come into the present (and stay here):

* Do your least favorite thing first. Half the battle with procrastination is getting over the dread of what’s to come. If you start with the thing that sounds the least fun first, you quickly realize it isn’t as bad as you think and everything that follows flows freely. Sadly, I did not follow my own advice today and it was late morning before I realized that if I had just gotten the stuff I’d been dreading out of the way early, my morning would have been one heck of a lot more fun.

* Sort your mail immediately upon arrival. These days, more than half of what gets stuffed into our incredibly small mailbox makes its new home in the recycle bin. Newsprint advertisements from the local grocery store, political flyers, “you are already approved!” credit card applications. While I appreciate the validation, I definitely do not need more credit, thank you very much. These things can all be thrown out immediately. Everything else should be opened right away and filed into its proper home. I very rarely get bills any more since I pay mine online, so most of what I receive are things that can be displayed (i.e. cards), things that can be filed (i.e. insurance papers), and things I have plans to use in the relatively near future (i.e. coupons). As part of my recent organization efforts, I now have homes for all of these things, so I can quickly put them where they belong for easy access when I need them. FYI, if you’re interested, there are campaigns afoot for the reduction of junk mail so it doesn’t even make it into your inbox, like www.stopjunkmail.org. Sign up today and begin reaping the benefits!

* Just make the call. I don’t know about you, but my cell phone is a mixed blessing. I really do not enjoy talking on the phone and never have. I tend to leave it in my car or turn the ringer off or whatnot and when I pick up the phone I’ve missed several calls and have many voicemail messages. Half the time a quick 5-minute call is all it would take to take care of the business at hand. When I put them off, the calls pile up until I have a whole slew of them and I am dreading them, especially when they entail anything official. Today, for example, I had to call a former insurance agent. By the time I made the call I was so full of built-up dread that I felt a little ill. However, I set my intention beforehand for a smooth transaction and had taken care of my business very pleasantly within a few minutes. If only I’d called them days ago I could have relieved myself of the stress in the first place. Now I am remembering my motto, to just make the call–it is never as bad as you think it is going to be, and instead of allowing it to gum up the works, you can be in the flow of life again before you know it.

* Take care of your priorities first thing. Many of the things that are most important to me personally have a habit of getting shifted to the bottom of my to-do list when things that appear to be more important to the rest of the world get taken care of first. Meditation, walking, stretching, journaling, meal planning–you name it. What I’ve learned is that if it is a personal priority then I need to take care of it first. Not only does my day go more smoothly because I’ve started out on the right foot for me with my spiritual practice, but I end up being a lot more productive when it comes to the rest of the list. It’s a win-win for all!

* Life is too short not to spend it doing the things you love. My senior year of college, I had a lot of the required courses for my major out of the way and I began to explore the rest of what my university had to offer. I took art courses, feminist political theory, African history–not necessarily things I wanted to deep dive into but things I was interested in. I had so much fun, my grades automatically improved, and I actually retained much of what I learned. Looking back, I wish I’d understood that when I went into college. Education is about more than what you major in–it’s about exploration, trying things on for size and seeing how they fit, learning about who you really are when you take away the requirements and start to have fun. As adults we tend to allow our work to suck up so much of our energy we don’t have enough left over for our families, let alone our hobbies and our passions. How many people do you know who talk about traveling when they retire? That is not a way to LIVE, it’s a way to just get by. So start living your life today–sign up for that Greek cooking class, learn a new language, take a wildflower hike next weekend. Whatever it is you’ve been saying you didn’t have time to do, remember that this life is yours to truly live it, and there’s no time like the present to get started.

Nike’s famous “Just Do It” slogan has made them millions for a reason–it is simple and effective. What is it that you are procrastinating about in your life? What action can you take today to begin moving you away from surviving towards thriving? Why are you still here reading–go do it! And then come back and share what methods have you come across that help you to act instead of avoid so we can all learn the joys of unprocrastination. Namaste.

Photo: “just-do-it-blade,” originally uploaded by Brandon Baunach

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Step 5: Trust Your Intuition February 28, 2008

Filed under: learning to fly,practice — jennsheridan @ 8:46 pm
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From the Steps to Learning How to Fly series.

Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.
~Joko Beck

Have you ever had a feeling or a hunch about something that you just couldn’t rationalize? Did it end up being right on the money? For the longest time I dismissed those feelings, using my reasoning and rationalization skills to either come to the same conclusion or the opposite one depending on what I wanted to see. If I had learned earlier to trust those feelings, I would have saved myself considerable anguish in my life, but apparently it was a lesson I needed to learn the long way.

What I know now is that the universe and my inner wisdom are speaking to me all the time. When I pay attention to these messages, things fall into place with such ease I’m in awe. When I don’t pay attention or ignore these messages, things have a way of getting messy and tangled. So what’s the trick to getting in touch with your intuition? The good news is we’ve already talked about the two things I think are most important to pave the way: clearing the slate and conscious connection. When you reduce the distractions in your life and take the time to be still and listen each day, you are building the muscles needed in order to discern which of those voices in your head is your intuition.

As the quote above suggests, messages show up in a myriad of ways, and they are always coming to us. Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head, other times a book will fall off a shelf. Perhaps you turn on the radio and the lyrics to the song playing are the answer to a question that’s been bugging you, or you get an email from a friend telling you about how they just solved a problem you’ve been struggling with. Or it might be that you run out of gas in front of a building with a mural painted on the side, and the words in the mural are exactly what you needed to be reminded of. Once you begin to pay attention, you will see these kinds of messages everywhere!

You can consciously cultivate this process by doing things like using an oracle card deck or playing “book roulette”–play around with these ideas until you find a method that feels good to you. There are hundreds of oracle card decks on the market these days from a wide variety of authors and artists. My current favorites are angel cards by Doreen Virtue, which I discovered on a retreat to Sedona I went on last fall. One of my friends had a deck that she used each day, pulling out a card and reading its message. By the end of the retreat, the whole group was doing it. I had never been into angels previously myself, but these cards are beautifully designed and the readings to go with them are simple and metaphysical, and almost always exactly what I need to hear. “Book roulette” will work with just about any book, but I would recommend using one that you find to be especially wise. Some people like to use the Bible, others use The Science of Mind, by Ernest Holmes, known as “the textbook” to many Religious Scientists. I’ve had great luck with Sufi poetry–my favorites are Hafiz and Rumi. And my guess is Eat, Pray, Love would work wonderfully for me as well. Once you have a book in hand, formulate a question and then open the book at random. Start reading wherever your eyes fall on the page or use your finger to point at a passage.

Fear is also a wonderful route to getting in touch with your intuition, even if that doesn’t sound especially intuitive. The voice of fear is almost always telling you what you need to do in order to stay small, to stay exactly where you are and avoid changing and growing. I’ve learned that because of this, if I do what it is telling me NOT to do, I open myself up for great discoveries, or at the very least the opportunity to neutralize an old pattern. It can be as small as picking up the phone to call someone or as big as quitting your job. Last year, I spent a lot of time trying to “figure out” what I should do about my work. I got the message to leave my job over and over and over again, but I rationalized it away, saying that was just wishful thinking. The voice of fear kept reminding me that I needed a job for a million reasons, from money to having a hole in my resume to “what would people think?” The day I decided to give my notice it was like the dark cloud over my head lifted and the sun came out and I was light as a feather and filled with joy. It resonating so deeply within me that I finally recognized which voice was which and knew that it was the right thing for me to do.

Now that you’re ready to listen to your intuition, to those messages the universe is sending you, to the wisdom that lies within you, the next step is to learn to trust it enough to follow where it leads. Trust is a muscle, just like anything else, and it has to be built. Start with something that feels small, that feels like you have nothing to lose, like what to have for dinner tonight or what to wear to work tomorrow. Feel the difference between doing the thing your intuition tells you to do and ignoring it. For me anyway, once I started paying attention to what was resonating versus what wasn’t, it was easy for me to trust. It definitely feels better! As Nike says, Just do it–you’ll thank yourself later.

Recommended Reading:
Developing Intuition, by Shakti Gawain
The Gift, by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Healing with the Angels Oracle Cards, by Doreen Virtue
The Psychic Pathway, by Sonia Choquette
The Soul of Rumi, by Jalal Al-Din Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Trust Your Vibes, by Sonia Choquette

Photo: labyrinth–avila beach, Originally uploaded by Moon Rhythm

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Step 3: Shift Your Perspective February 26, 2008

From the Steps to Learning How to Fly series.

How would it be if everything that you thought you knew / Was turned upside down opposite from your point of view / How would you feel if the ground was really the sky and all of this time / you’ve been walkin’ when you coulda been flying . . . ~Ellis, How Would It Be

Have you ever seen one of those images where if you look at it one way it looks like one thing, but if you shift your perspective it looks like something else entirely? There’s the classic from Intro to Psych where the same image looks like an old lady or a young lady. Or the one where you can tell which side of the brain you are using depending on which direction the lady is spinning, and for some of us even switch the direction she is spinning in. Or really, just about any of M.C. Escher’s work, where he plays with reality by throwing physics out the window. Perspective is part of what makes us human and is probably the best example of relativity I can think of because there is nothing permanent about it, nothing absolute–it can always be changed, shifted, adjusted as new information comes in or as we make new choices.

Choice is perhaps the most powerful concept available to anyone interested in making changes in their life. Dictionary.com offers at least a dozen definitions of choice; my favorites are 1) an act or instance of choosing; selection; 2) the right, power, or opportunity to choose; option; and 3) an alternative. This idea of selection, of opportunity, of options, of alternatives, can be applied to our lives in a myriad of ways. Let’s start by looking at three:

1. Choose your reaction. How you react to what’s happening to you and around you is a choice. Even just looking at life as a series of events that are happening to you is a choice. We are active participants in our lives with more power than most of us can imagine, let alone tap into, but a place that is (relatively) easy to start is with our reactions. When someone cuts in front of you in line at the store, you have a choice whether to view it as an active insult, an honest mistake, or not to care either way. When someone else is having a bad day and bites your head off, you have a choice about whether to get mad in return or to recognize where they’re coming from and to see past the attitude. It’s a matter of perspective, of where you’re coming from and how you’re feeling in that moment. Sometimes even just being aware that there are alternative ways to react to a situation diffuses it and provides you with what you need in order to take a step back, detach yourself, and choice a more positive perspective. Does this mean that suddenly the people around us in our lives aren’t rude or whatnot? Not necessarily. The power in this is that it is 100% about you and what you choose to do with the situation–whatever is going on with the other person doesn’t need to come into play, especially since the only person you have control over, really ever, is yourself.

2. Choose anew. Each moment is an opportunity to make a new choice. A teacher of mine used to say, “You aren’t responsible for your first thought but you are responsible for your second thought.” Especially when you’re just learning how to shift your reactions to things, the first thing that comes up for you is often the familiar pattern or habit that’s been with you for most of your life. It’s okay, there’s no need to beat yourself up here. This is a great opportunity to use that power of choice to shift your perspective and choose anew. While Scarlett O’Hara’s observation that “tomorrow is another day” is definitely true, coming right up is another moment for you to use as you see fit. The goal here is to pay attention to your thoughts, your moods, whatever is happening right now and see if those reactions are really in your best interest in this moment. So let’s say you’re back at that store with the person cutting you off in line. If you find yourself getting angry and starting to mumble under your breath, pause for a moment, take a deep breath, maybe shake your hand or your foot a bit like you’re letting the anger fall out of you, and find a thought that feels better. Maybe notice that it is difficult to tell where the line goes and it’s a mistake that anyone could make, or perhaps conjure up some sympathy when you see that the person is obviously distraught and just not paying attention, or even just laugh it off. Laughter is amazingly restorative and, at least for me, always makes me feel better no matter what is going on.

3. Choose to focus on the positive. Have you ever noticed how many of our cliches, adages, sayings are about things not going our way? When we talk about money, we say how it doesn’t grow on trees or how we need to make sure we’re saving it for a rainy day. When we talk about love, we say how it is fickle and fleeting or we banter about how hard it is to find a good man or woman these days. On your way into work in the morning if you meet a colleague on the way in, what do you talk about? My guess is how little sleep you got the night before or how much work is waiting for you on your desk or that flu that’s been going around. Try a little experiment sometime and don’t go with the flow here, talk about how great you’re feeling and what a beautiful day it is and how you’re really looking forward to that project you’re getting to work on today. If you’re lucky you can shift the tenor of the conversation; if not, you might just recognize how ingrained all this negativity is in our culture, our expectations, our way of life.

The law of attraction has gotten a lot of attention lately, some good and some bad. Wherever you are on that spectrum, it is definitely worth taking the time to truly understand what the law of attraction is all about.* It is an incredibly simple concept that is not necessarily easy to put into practice. The gist is that what you put out into the universe is what comes back to you, so if your thoughts, feelings, beliefs are generally negative then you’ll get more negative back and if you’re focusing on the positive, you’ll get positive in return. I like to think of it as a cosmic photocopier–it isn’t a perceptive process, it just takes in what it gets and returns it in kind. It doesn’t have the power of discernment, can’t say, “Oh, what she meant here was . . .” Often when we’re thinking about what it is we want, our attention is on what it is we feel is missing in our lives–and exactly that, what is MISSING instead of on what it is we desire–and so we get more of the “missing” back in return. It’s kind of like being asked NOT to think about a pink elephant–the first thing that happens is that you think about a pink elephant.

This is where the power of choice comes into play. As with the earlier examples, it is a matter of paying attention to what’s happening in your head and in your life and using that power of choice to shift your perspective, make new choices, see the good even when it doesn’t appear to be there. There are millions of inputs into this system every day and it is not possible to control all of them, but you can control the ones you’re conscious of and choose to shift your attention to the positive, to what feels good to you. As with anything else, start where you are today and see if you can turn even one thing around, then maybe shoot for two tomorrow. With each thought, belief, pattern you shift each day, you’ll begin to see your life shifting around you too.

Just remember, there’s no one right way to do things. The only mistake you can make is not to try, to notice that things aren’t going the way you would like them to and to choose not to do anything about them. Because yes, even appearing to not make a choice is a choice. Life is not a dress rehearsal, but it can definitely be a play with you as the playwright and the star. What new choices would you make if you really knew you couldn’t make a mistake, that you’ll always be supported, that there will always be something new out there for you to explore? What’s stopping you?

Recommended Viewing:
The Secret
What the Bleep Do We Know!?

Recommended Reading:
The Law of Attraction, by Ester and Jerry Hicks
Winona’s Web, by Priscilla Cogan
You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay

* I plan to revisit this topic fairly regularly on this blog so we can continue to explore and come to better understand the law of attraction together.

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