Our job here is to allow God to use us as an instrument of love.

To allow him to maximize our ability to give and receive love, not just any love, but agape love, love without boundaries, no limits, strings or conditions.

What a tall order. You might think it borders on craziness. With the amount of selfish, self-centered people in the world, you would surely be used, abused and tossed away like a wet towel if you approach the world from a place of love. Right? I understand why you would say that.

Let’s face it people, every time you turn on the TV, especially your local news station, you are bombarded with clips full of violence. The local newspaper is not a friend to the growth of this idea either. The headlines read, ‘Business worker kills 5 in office massacre’ or ‘Local child has been missing for 10 days.’

The world sometimes gives you the idea that if life were a battle between love and hate, love would be down for the count.

So then, what is this idea of Agape love and what does it mean?

Agape love is god-like love. Love that has no boundaries, a love wrapped in unselfishness and self sacrifice, full of understanding and forgiveness, just to name a few of its attributes.

So, are you proposing that I forgive those who have harmed me the most? Yes, that is exactly what I am proposing. You will be all the better for it. You will be free of hate and resentment and more open to receive the love from god that you will be showing your brethren.

I think somewhere along the way we got it all wrong. Most of us have been seriously hurt, had our heart broken all in the name of love. Our egos were equally crushed, in turn our mind, aka, our ego, said,”We will never let that happen again”. We then set out to protect ourselves, holding our most loving self back, protected in a safe place. With every unpleasant experience, we held back even more. We have all lost a certain amount of trust and faith. This is to be expected after being hurt. However, by blocking our flow of love in and love out, we miss the most beautiful experience we will ever be blessed to see, LIFE. See, by holding back the most precious tool you have to connect with the giver of life, we miss most of the blessings and growth opportunities that are given.

So how do we get to this place of agape love?

Glad you asked… it is almost impossible to reach that level of love.  After all, we are not God but the more forgiveness, compassion and understanding we learn to show, our fellow earthlings ,the closer we get to it and the closer to becoming what god intended us to become.

The more we love our brother, the deeper we worship him and allow him to teach us to love and receive love.

This is no 9-5 job. So wherever you are or whatever you are doing at any moment,

Get to work loving.

Just imagine for a second that this whole life means nothing. That we are just here taking up space. Imagine that we have no purpose, no rhyme, and no reason for being.  We merely exist from day to day accepting whatever life throws at us until one day we simply cease to exist.

That’s a sad thought.

If that were true, it would mean the 7 billion people on this planet were here for no logical reason. We would simply be mammals with oversized brains, no purpose, and no direction.  With 7 billion people in one place just roaming around without direction, doesn’t it make sense that we’re constantly in collision with each other, wreaking havoc, and causing confusion?

Personally, I don’t believe we’re here for no logical reason. However, I do believe we have lost our way. We have lost our direction, and I think the signs and symptoms are obvious. Take a look around and you are far more likely to find a sad face or hear a negative thought, than to see a smiling smile or hear encouraging, positive words.  Everyone is so stressed out!

Here’s some interesting facts to backup this belief:

  • In the year 2010, 90 percent of doctor visits were for stressed-related issues.
  • Mental illness and depression is at an all time high. According to Dr. Ronald Dworkin of the CDC, “Doctors are now medicating unhappiness.” He also states, “Too many people take drugs when they really need to be making changes in their lives.”
  • According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They are prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches.
  • In 2005, 2.4 billion drugs were prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.
  • Obesity is a worse epidemic than drugs ever were, according to the CDC, 1 out of every 3 adults in the U.S. are obese, not overweight, but obese.

I believe the explanation for America’s obesity problem is not people not knowing what and how to eat (although this may be true for some). I think the number one reason is poor diet.  We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we don’t take time to prepare meals and sit down to eat at the dinner table.  Instead, we eat either at fast food restaurants or only once a day engorging ourselves with too many calories.

Unfortunately, most people wake up every single day dreading to get out of bed and go to work because they hate their jobs, or perhaps they don’t have a job, and they hate life and who they’ve become.  Many people wonder how they’ve ventured so far away from that little kid that had a head full of possibilities, who was okay with being himself or herself.

So many people are constantly on a quest to find the next best thing that is going to make them happy. They scramble in fast pursuit to find meaning, wealth, and a bigger house/ They’re consumed with thoughts like: “maybe I should move here,” “or only if I this career. “ The sad fact is we’re looking everywhere but where happiness can actually can be found.

The truth is, happiness can only exist when we are in the midst of our journey—content with the realization that we’ve been blessed with a purpose, and we are in full pursuit of discovering all the possibilities.  The goal is not to reinvent ourselves, but to polish ourselves.

Unfortunately, most of us are not encouraged to be ourselves, to walk our individual path or follow our unique journey. Instead, we are all on quest of attempting to pursue someone else’s life, someone else’s journey.  We all believe the same formula which makes someone else happy will make us happy.  We quest for that life only to discover it’s a thirst that can never be quenched.  We discover that it’s a thirst that only brings more thirst.  We place ourselves in a position where we want and need more because, in the end, we are no closer to happiness than when we started.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase,”This life is what you make it.”  I think the truth is, “This life is about what you discover, what you discover about yourself.”

I’ll leave you with this thought…

Why not invest in the idea that we all have a precise reason for being, a precise job that we are supposed to be doing?  Why not believe we are all pieces of a grand puzzle that fits together perfectly in the eyes of the who designed the puzzle?  Why not take the time to reflect and meditate on who you are, what you are capable of, and rejoice in the concept of self discovery?

Until next time,

IT’S YOUR LIFE, GET TO LIVIN’!!

     

 

As children, we’re all taught not to use “four letter” words. They were all bad. The word “fear” however, snuck into most conversations without any retribution. Yet, it is the four letter word we should have been warned about. In the world of four letter words, it is the leading culprit for smashing and stealing dreams, ending careers prematurely, diminishing self-esteem, and creating a host of other conditions.

But why do we experience fear?

I’ll start off by sharing my own experience and what I have learned about myself, and my own fears.  When I look back over my childhood, fear was certainly present. As a kid, I was terrified of the dark. I was certain that at any moment during my slumber the Boogey Man was going to leap out of the darkness and grab me. Of course this childhood fear wasn’t even close to existing, but at the time it was so real that I would sweat myself to sleep.

I grew up in foster homes, and I believe the fear of the Boogey Man came from my unmet need for security. But over the years, I grew up, and grew confident in my ability to protect myself. And after gaining more proof and knowledge that the Boogey Man didn’t exist, I stopped being afraid. The Boogey Man was a small and easily conquerable fear.

After the Boogey Man, I became afraid of physical and mental bullies. “Mental Bullies” are people who make fun of you or attempt to break your mind. This too was another fear that over the years proved to be nothing more than what I allowed it to be. My fear of metal bullies could be conquered by changing and controlling the people I allowed into my life.

My biggest fears—the ones that controlled my decisions, my reactions and everything in between—also stemmed from my childhood. My fear of being inadequate stemmed from growing up in a foster home and knowing that my mother didn’t want me. This fear was a doozy, and it was later reinforced by my father’s decision to allow me compete in the Special Olympics at age 11—despite the fact that I possessed no intellectual disabilities.

These are only two examples, but I experienced both of them when I felt inadequate, and they stuck with me for most of my adult life. It was almost as if those memories from childhood scarred my spirit. Whenever I attempted to push myself toward something new, the little child inside me would silently scream out, “Hey! Don’t you remember we’re not good enough to do that? I’m afraid!”

I believe fear stems from two origins. The first is the mind’s natural reaction to something that appears risky. Our innate survival instincts want to keep us safe, and fear is the warning signal our minds send out when we embark on an unprecedented journey that has no concrete (undeniably harmful) outcome. The second comes from information that we have received in our life. As children, we can experience an event that negatively influences how we view the world, and it hinders us. Later in life when we encounter a similar situation, we connect it with the previous situation and become afraid.

So how do we overcome fear? How do we stop its ability to take control of and paralyze our lives?

I have found a few things that have worked for me that I will share with you.

The first thing is to think about fear in a different way. I learned a couple of different acronyms the word fear can represent:

“False Evidence Appearing Real”

I can personally agree with this one. As I mentioned in the beginning of my post, most of my fears turned out to be nothing more than false evidence upon careful re-examination.

Another acronym I’ve learned is:

“Forget Everything And Recover”

I use this one often. I believe being disabled by fear is a mental sickness that can only be overcome by the individual facing it. I often say to myself: Eric, is it acceptable at this moment not to follow through with the plan? Is it acceptable for Eric not to recover?

In my program, Pyramid of Empowerment, I teach people a method of discovering exactly what they’re afraid of, and how that particular fear is preventing them from committing and/or fulfilling their dreams.  Usually what’s preventing people is a form of fear. The outline for overcoming fear is this:

  1.  Determine your fear. Once the fear is determined, try to investigate what you will gain if you can overcome it.

 

  1. Ask yourself: will I gain more by giving into my fear, or by walking away from it?

 

  1. Last (but certainly not least) ALWAYS be careful what you tell yourself, and how you talk to yourself.

 


Now I will leave you with this question: will you allow yourself to overcome your fears?

 

Monday through Friday, usually right about as I am about to finally reach the coveted treasure chest/ win the million dollar hand in Vegas/ cure all disease known to man, the darn Rooster alarm blasts and I am startled out of sleep and into the unpleasant reality that I am going to have to roll out of bed, march across the cold floor and begin yet another work day before the sun even considers making its first yawning ray appear across the horizon.  And every morning, right before I crawl from under the warmth and sanctity of my comforter and away from all the dreams still beckoning inside my pillow, I wonder” Why? Why am I getting out of bed…do I really have to go? What if I just stay in this one time- it won’t be the end of the world, if I just roll back over close my eyes and…”  But just as quick as that thought rolls through, I am up and moving, turning on the coffee maker and shuffling across the floor in my mis-matched slippers (I blame the sock eating troll’s cousin, the slipper fiend for that one) What is it that makes me vacate my warm cocoon day in and out, forces me to rise and shine, enables me to battle away the sleepiest of thoughts and start the day?

Motivation is an interesting thing. It comes in many forms, shapes and sizes.  What affects one may be but a insignificant speck to another.  Yet inside all of us lies some form of motivation.  It drives us to achieve, accomplish, persevere and yes, get out of bed every morning.  Success is what drives me.  I consider myself a lucky individual, I have found a passion beyond fortune and dollar signs (of course, I have nothing against either of those) that makes me enthused even on the dreariest of days.  I know there are people out there in the world waiting on me, waiting for me, relying on me and my ability to guide them to success. There are clients who depend on me to get their butts back in shape, there are co-workers who await my leadership and direction to set them on the right path for the day, and most importantly there is my family who is counting on my strength and resolve to provide for and take care of their every need.  I want to succeed in all these realms- be an exceptional trainer, leader and family man.   The desire to succeed keeps me in check and focused on the end goal.  Perhaps that bed is warm and comforting but I’m not going to accomplish and achieve by slacking off and watching a marathon of the Golden Girls, as tempting as that sounds. Maybe the rain is pouring and there is a swamp land I have to maneuver through before reaching my truck, but making excuses and copping out will not get me any closer to having all that I want.  Realizing that I am the only one capable of cultivating my own success keeps me motivated and going (well that and about five venti coffees and double espressos throughout the day).

You see the trick with motivation is understanding the real passion and goals that you want to bring to fruition.  Waking up and thinking “okay, I need to go punch into work in order to fulfill my weekly hours“ is not going to provide you with the right mind set to make you want to leap into a new day.  If your first thought of the day is, “What’s the point?” perhaps it’s time to reanalyze your priorities, your dreams and the road you are traveling.  Is every day bringing you closer to the place where you want to be? Are you doing everything in your power to pursue your passion? Or do you simply wake up and go about your routine because that is what society dictates you must do, wake up; drink coffee; sit in traffic; punch in at work; begin counting down the minutes until the work day is over.  Is that any way to live your life?  I challenge you to ask yourself, what would I jump out of bed for? What would make me anticipate the coming of every day with such vigor and intensity that I wouldn’t need an alarm clock to dictate when the day must start? Are the right things in life motivating me, or have I simply accepted the daily routine as status quo along with the dread and misery of every weekday morning?

There are people out there who love to wake up and start a new day.  Those people are motivated and eager because their passion is driving their life. It has them set on cruise control and those truck stops filled with grease traps and corn syrup confections are not enticing them to slow down or veer off track. Once you find your true motivating factors you will realize how much easier it is to set your course, program your GPS and arrive at your destination in the quickest and most efficient manner, often detouring the construction and congestion you would have previously been stuck wasting time in.  I’m not saying you won’t have to take a toll road sometimes, take a few stops to refuel and perhaps even get deterred by a flat tire along the way.  But, as long as you have the right motivating factors to guide you there will be no reason to turn around or simply give up on the trip and settle in the first convenient looking bed and breakfast. You will be motivated to stay the course and arrive at your destination…and get a much deserved good night sleep, perhaps even sleep in a little.

So what drives you? What are the motivating factors that keep you on track, and is this the road that will take you where you want to go?

 

 

For those of you who don’t know, aside from having this wonderful blog full of ideas and advice, I also have a community outreach website for Soaring Higher, the spiritual and mental side of my project to promote health, wellness and personal success.  Recently, the site received a post which I would like to share here as well, as I believe it is an important story and life lesson we could all stand to learn from.

“A couple of months ago I lost my job. This job was my only source of income which maintained my independence and allowed me to pay for college, my own apartment and transportation, among many other obligations. When I reached out to my family for slight assistance, which I rarely do, they claimed they were not able to help and began to ignore my phone calls completely. I turned to my professed friends, whom I have helped on numerous occasions, only to have no one willing to provide me assistance yet again. Even my boyfriend at that time would not, at the very least, offer me $10 to borrow so that I would not be on the streets homeless and starving. It felt like I could not get a good grip on life and there was no one there to catch me.

In that situation it was effortless for me to contemplate and question, “Why me?” I would constantly dwell on the negative aspects of my situation not realizing those negative feelings were not beneficial at all for my betterment. Distressing with myself and others only created a vicious cycle of negative judgment and actions. I had to realize to be grateful during hard times because adverse situations come to teach us a lesson in life. A nonconstructive occurrence teaches us humility, humbleness, and compassion for others. How can we attain compassion for others who have fallen on hard times when we ourselves have never known what if feels like to owe over $500 in overdue bills with only $15 in our pockets? How can we give respect to others who finally have reached success after years of dedication when we ourselves have never lost our employment unexpectedly? How can we find strength if we never had to struggle?

I strongly believe that nothing in life occurs by coincidences. When I lost my job, it was meant to happen at that time. When my so-called friends abandoned me, it was meant for me to see how my friendships were misleading. This epiphany enabled me to comprehend that if it were not for these occurrences I would not have known for the need to change friends. If I didn’t lose that job at that time, I would not have been able to attain the two occupations where I am currently employed. Everything we experience transpires for a reason. Although we may not know the reason, our experiences-good and bad- lead to other experiences and situations which improve our spirituality and personality. So when you come along jagged rocks amid your path in life, don’t get mad: get grateful. Be grateful that you were able to gain strength by overcoming that obstacle.”

~ Krystal, Cleveland OH

I believe many of us have experienced something similar to Krystal’s situation at some point in our lives.  Down and out on luck with nowhere to turn we felt hopeless and angry, angry with ourselves and those around us.  At that point, we have two options- continue the negative thinking and begin the blame game or take stock of the situation and ask some serious questions, analyze them and most importantly learn.

Ask yourself

How did I get here? What decisions did I make that perhaps I should have not? Was there a flaw in my thinking, perhaps I was too quick on the draw or procrastinated too long instead of taking action? Have previous pitfalls been a result of similar mistakes?

Who was there to help me?  In my darkest hour, who was I able to rely on? Take note of this not so you can lean on them again when the situation arises but to make sure you repay them in kind.  Similarly, make note of the people that perhaps do not deserve your love and affection and you would be better off without.  Your time and emotions are precious, save them for people who matter.

What is my new plan of action? Doing nothing is unlikely to bring about any positive change.  Be productive and realize you are the only person who can take the initiative of your own life and happiness.  Make a list of possible solutions and ACT on them! Time spent lamenting is time wasted. Time spent doing the same actions that got you in the mess in the first place are even a bigger waste.

Imagine you are driving through a winter storm.  This isn’t the first storm of the season and you have had previous problems on the roads already.  As the snow begins coming down harder your windshield is icing up faster that your blades can work. Your tires are bald and the lack of traction leaves you at the mercy of the road. You click for your windshield fluid but realize that it is empty, empty just like it was during the last snow storm and the one before that as well.  You haven’t bothered topping it off and your procrastination has again come back to bite you.

As you hit a particularly icy patch on the road,  your car begins to spin out of control.  You try to grab firm control of the wheel but your inevitable crash course has already been set in motion. Pushing the brakes does no good as your tires no longer have any grip on the road. You slip and slide and find yourself and your car in a ditch on the side of the road, sitting in half a foot of snow.  

Recovering from the initial shock you sit there and wait, surely someone noticed you spiral out of control and will come by to see if you’re OK.  The problem is that you weren’t the only one out there driving in hazardous conditions.  Everyone else is battling the elements as well, careful to follow the barely visible tire track path and get their van full of kids or an ailing parent back to the safety of their home.  And while they sympathize with your situation, they are risking their safety and those of their loved ones by pulling over and offering assistance.

Realizing you ‘re going to need to call for help you dial your insurance or Triple A provider but they’re too busy or out of the area and cannot come to you aid.  You call your brother/uncle/ best friend who lives down the street but they do not feel like leaving their home/the dinner is on the stove/ they’re waiting for the 50% off sale online to start and cannot, absolutely  cannot live without a new pair of strappy sandals.

Now you’re getting angry, revving up the gas pedal and hoping you will be able to get out of the ditch.  Nothing.  You hit the gas again, shooting more snow in the air and further burying your vehicle.  One last final attempt and now you have sealed your fate to sit in the ditch until the storm clears and an emergency crew comes to your rescue.

Hopeless, angry and defeated with nowhere to turn you can a) sit there and get angry, curse the gods and other vehicles passing you by or b)assess the situation, how you got there, what you can learn from it and what positive actions can be taken right now.

1.Realize you should have filled up your windshield fluid and gotten new tires.  Instead of putting it off, doing this simple task could have allowed you to have a clear view of the road and firm control over the terrain, perhaps allowing you to navigate the road better and miss the icy spot that all the other cars seem to be passing with more grace.

2. Change your insurance/Triple A provider.  Why be their customer and pay them money when they are not there to assist you?

3. Remember their reactions the next time your brother/uncle/best friend asks for help.

4. Accept that actions spurred by negative emotion are of no benefit (revving up that gas when you know very well it will do you no good)

5. In the future plan ahead when leaving in a storm, grab a shovel and be ready to spring to action immediately after a crisis, it’s a lot easier to dig yourself out while the hole is still fresh and new accumulation hasn’t set in.

6.Finally, remember your misery and  the  next time you see a stranded vehicle, don’t simply think “Glad it wasn’t me” and drive but, but pull over and offer assistance.

Yes, it’s an unpleasant experience that can set back your day, or longer in the case of a lost job or other more unfortunate circumstances.  But I encourage you, as Krystal did, to move forward and look at your situation from a different perspective.  Instead of taking it for face value, see the situation as an opportunity to learn a lesson.  Ask yourself ” What can I use form this to empower myself?”  Instead of being angry, hurt or resentful try to be thankful, grateful and appreciated the opportunity to grow.  I know you’re thinking, “Eric, how can I be thankful when I’m sitting in a ditch with snow piling on my car?”  Be thankful you didn’t hit a pole and wreck your car or hit another car in the process.  Be thankful your car has heat and you’re not a homeless person suffering through the cold in an alley.  Be grateful you made it through alive.

If we accept every negative as an opportunity to be more positive in the future, the sting of defeat won’t hurt as bad.  If you are quick to react instead of further dwelling on your misfortune, you will waste less time on the negative and more on creating a positive turnaround or a new beginning.  By realizing what got you in the mess in the first place you can prevent the same misfortune from happening again. Most importantly, taking things in stride will allow you to have a a healthier and more stable inner spirit, one that will be successful in breeding positivity which you can in turn see materialize in the outside world.

Stay positive, stay grateful and please, for goodness’  sake, top off your windshield fluid!

On TV, families are often portrayed as broken, dysfunctional and violent because this is what brings in ratings and resonates most with the viewer. In real life, teachers, community leaders and the elder lament that children today do not have the scruples and morals of generations past. Is it a case of real life parodying the screen or vice versa? Has the direct correlation between the increase in broken homes, single parent households and lack of positive role models within the modern family resulted in the moral decay that is plaguing today’s youth? Read More…

Check out the Manual’s newest feature – Winner’s Circle.  Aside from my musings, there are stories and people that deserve acknowledgement and due respect.  Winner’s Circle is a forum for stories and profiles of people whose deeds make them stand out as sources of inspiration or critique.  I invite you to read up and pitch in your 2 cents (although in this recession I’ll understand if you can only spare a penny’s worth), share your stories and nominate people for the Winner’s Lane.

The honor of being first on the list is John Kavanaugh, a homeless man whose character and morals should be an example for all.

What if I told you there was a way for you to reduce stress, increase metabolism, lower blood pressure and alleviate pain without having to go to the doctor, take medicine or undergo strenuous physical exertion?  You don’t have to invest a fortune in this remedy and it is not required of you to leave the comforts of your home.  It’s not an experimental new method either; in fact it has been around since 1500 BCE.  If you suffer from chronic pain, high stress levels or have been unable to break free of the chains of depression or addiction then this may be just the miracle you have been looking for.  If your life is simply just too hectic and you could use an opportunity to sit in peace and quiet then what I’m proposing is just the remedy for you as well.  I’m talking about meditation – a natural healing method practiced and trusted the world over.

The first mention of meditation can be found among the Hindu practitioners of Vedantism in 1500 BC.  After that it can be found in the scripts of Taoists and Buddhists in what is known today as China, philosophers of ancient Greece, the Old Testament, Qur’an , the Benedictine monks all the way to today’s Hollywood “it” crowd devout to Kabbalah and inseparable from their yoga mats. The fact that meditation as a concept has been able to transcend religious sects and withstand the test of time are reason enough to look deeper into the possible positive effects that it may have on your health and wellness.

First of all, what is meditation? Due to its prevalence in so many varying cultural settings, meditation does not conform to a set definition.  In the Baha’I faith, it is regarded as “the key for opening the doors of mysteries to your mind. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves.”  A study and review conducted in 2006 by prominent scholars Walsh and Shapiro yielded the characterization that “meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration”. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine lists  “ [increasing] calmness and physical relaxation, [improving] psychological balance, [coping] with illness, or [enhancing] overall health and well-being,” as reasons for secular meditation.

Well if meditation is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it? It’s true that only 9% of Americans practice mediation, and while that number is an increase from the 7% of the population in 2002 it is still a rather small share of the market that could stand to benefit from meditation.  Think about it, the leading causes of death in the United States stem from cardiovascular disease, depression and stress, and while many of us are quick to reach for the “easy” solution and add another pill to our daily regimen, these are all ailments that stem from a disrupted psyche and nervous system that could stand some mental and spiritual attention.  There are already so many chemical toxins in our environment which poison our natural being that adding more chemically altered substances seems to go against all grains of logic.  Yet that is exactly what we do by accepting the overworked, unattached and pharmaceutical company funded doctor’s suggestion to try this course of drug A with combination of drug B and follow up in 3 months for either a refill or a new set of wonder drugs.

Considering that the majority of us are already pressed for time, taking a pill with your morning coffee seems like such a convenient solution that many of us do not take the time to question it. The average American associates meditation with new age hippies and people in robes sitting in a pretzel like position while humming away.  This misconceived prejudice is another reason many of us are quick to discount meditation.  Aside from being one of the oldest healing methods in the world, meditation is a routine for some of the healthiest and most active people in the world.  Some of the top physiological benefits of meditation are not limited to and include:

While the positive fruits of meditation are bountiful, achieving the state of inner reflection and peace does take time and practice.  In last year’s popular movie “Eat Love Pray” the protagonist quickly discovers that mediation is not as easy as closing your eyes and humming away to a newfound level of peace and understanding.  Clearing the mind and focusing on your inner self is harder to do than it sounds and nearly impossible as long as the noise of the busy world around us continues to invade our inner space.  Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that meditation has not caught on in the States, our society is far too loud and engulfed in all things social and busy that it is harder for us to find a place of peace and tranquility.

Perhaps you will be unsuccessful in your initial attempts at achieving a state of full meditation. And while the list of above mentioned benefits should stimulate you to not give up after the first round of failed attempts, you can also seek solace in knowing that even they are helping transform and take you to a better place.  Taking the time to sit quietly with your own thoughts can provide the opportunity to listen to yourself and hear the voices previously drowned out by the meaningless chatter of your superfluous and commercial needs and wants.  Simply taking the time to breathe right and sit up straight can have wondrous effects on your respiratory system as well as your posture.  Finally, sitting in a quiet and relaxing space will help recharge your batteries and reduce stress levels simply by taking you out of the polluted (both chemically and mentally) environment that exists in today’s 24/7, non-stop society.

Meditation does not require a monthly membership, religious affiliation or a deity.  All you really need is 20-30 minutes of your day, dedicated to shutting off outside distracters and focusing on clearing your mind and soul in a calm and relaxing environment. Turn off that cell phone, forget about the bills hanging on the refrigerator and the fight you had with your significant other.  Forget the shopping list for this weekend’s dinner and the hole that needs to be patched up in your son’s jeans.  Find a comfortable place to sit and let the natural breathing rhythms usher in a new found level of peace, relaxation and self-awareness. Make yourself open to the positive benefits of this ancient healing method and welcome in a better, healthier you.

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO MEDITATION

Ever wonder what’s responsible for that angel on your shoulder vs devil in your head debate that often arises first thing in the morning (to go to work or take a sick day and sit around in my boxers watching cartoons and judge judy all day?) and continues well throughout the day (hmm…no one will really know if i spend my workday checking out boredpanda.com and facebook stalking my old high school sweetheart) and follows you into the night (go over the presentation for tomorrow or head to the bar? …just for one or two rounds, or five). Click HERE to Continue Reading About the Voices In Your Head and How They Got There

All of us at one point in our lives have been hurt by the actions or words of another. Whether it was due to infidelity in a relationship, physical abuse or someone simply stepping on our foot while waiting in line at the grocery store, we all have contemplated if we should forgive those who have wronged us. According to author of Forgiveness Brings Freedom, Debbie Roome, “forgiveness is an act of pardoning a fault and in doing so, giving up resentment, hatred, wrath and all rights to restitution.”  The concept is quite simple, excuse the errs of others so that you can relieve yourself of anger, hurt and stress in order to move forward with happiness and security.

While the idea behind forgiveness is simple, the reality of practicing it proves to be more difficult. This is because we make it hard on ourselves.  You see, forgiveness is natural – just imagine a newborn baby. When a baby is born it has no sense of self.  It readily forgives and forgets when subjected to harm, no matter who the source or whether their actions were intentional or not.  It is only as we grow older do we learn to feel as though we are important (our ego) and that the world owes us something, especially when we feel we have been wronged.  We learn what it feels like to have pain, hurt and resentment.  We forger the natural instinct of forgiveness, believing that the pain we are suffering now is more important.

I know what you’re thinking…”Why should I forgive someone when he/she is the one who did me wrong?”  Simply because forgiving others is NOT beneficial for other people. Its beneficial for YOU! Continuing to hold a grudge is like spilling boiling water on yourself, resulting in scars and pain, and expecting another person to feel your pain, apologize and help heal the wounds.  You cannot grow, achieve goals and attain happiness if you are stuck in a state of mind that the world needs to apologize to you first.  It doesn’t work that way.  Catharine Ponder once said, “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.”  When you allow someone else to have such control over you, it’s impossible to achieve anything positive.  You are giving someone else power over your mind, and ultimately the power to control your growth as a person.

Most people continue to hold on to resentment well into their adult life, some all the way to their coffin.  Resentment is to repeatedly “resend” negative thoughts back to the mind.  Most of us as adults are still reliving a childhood situation where we believe we were wronged.  It’s the main reason people are so unwilling to and incapable of forgiving.  We have to let go of those hurt feelings and forgive because when we constantly repeat those unconstructive thoughts which cloud our positive thinking we enable the worst to happen.  We remain stuck in the cycle of reliving our pain and giving someone else power over ourselves.  When we forgive and let go of that link we gain a relief of emotional and physical stress.  We also receive freedom from the pain of the past, greater health and well being, and a greater happiness in the present as well as the future.

In order to move forward, we must forgive our faults as well as the faults of others.  Begin by acknowledging the “wrong” or fault and understand the cause.  Then, release the pain and emotional link to that person and/or situation associated with it by accepting what they did was wrong.  Forgive and move forward with life.  Discontinue dwelling on the past and instead look forward to a positive future.  This process may take weeks, months or possible years, but forgiveness can be attained.  We must remember since humans are not omniscient or infallible, mistakes are inevitable for all of us.  When we understand and accept human infallibility, it becomes much easier to forgive the mistakes of others, as well as our own.

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