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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Disagree Peacefully

            Do you ever find yourself arguing with your spouse, boss, co-worker, friend or family member about something that seems to have no solution?  Of course, you see it one way and they see it another, and never the twine shall meet, it appears.  To add to the predicament, you feel strongly that you’re right, and they are adamant that they are.  To further add to the difficulty, figuring this out is important to both of you, while persuading the other to understand your side of it feels imperative. 

            Let’s play with an example:  Your spouse and you disagree as to whether or not to let your 16 year old drive some friends to and from a supervised party.  He’s just gotten his driver’s license recently and you’re not comfortable yet with his driving at night with friends in the car.   Your spouse, on the other hand, thinks that this will be good experience for him, and that he won’t learn responsibility unless he’s given it.   You both certainly care about your son’s safety, but you disagree vehemently about how to keep him safe, and can’t seem to find a solution.  As you discuss the situation, you find your voices rising, full of angry and frustrated emotion, as each of you strives to be understood and heard by the other.  The debate continues in a heated manner until one of you either stomps out of the room, or throws up their arms in frustration and gives in.  I think you might agree that in such a case, neither party ends up peaceful or satisfied.  There is simmering hostility and a deep separation that then occurs between the two of you, and if not handled in a healthy way, threatens to cause a lasting rift. 
            Disagreements can happen anywhere anytime; for instance, at work, when a team is working on a project, and two or more co-workers disagree about the best way to proceed; with an ailing parent, when two or more siblings are conflicted about the kind of care to give; with partners who live together and differ in the way they manage money; or with a boss and employee whose styles of working are quite dissimilar.  I’m sure you each have your own stories – ones that continue to perplex you, and ones that carry their own emotional burdens.
            Through time, I’ve discovered certain guidelines that can help us resolve the continual battles in which we find ourselves, given the fact that two people can see the very same situation quite differently.  I’d like to offer some of what I’ve learned from personal experience as well as working with clients, students, friends and family members.


Remember that each of us has our own unique filter through which we see the world; i.e. our own perception or perspective, based on our past experiences.   No matter how “right” we may believe we are, we will always feel better if we refrain from judging another.  The truth is, we really don’t know how past happenings flavored the other person’s thinking, and it’s always good to keep in mind that this guy or gal is doing the best they can with what they know at this point in time.  Their opinion seems every bit as “right” to them as ours does to us.


Whenever possible, make the attempt to really “listen” to your opponent.  Listening with your mind and your heart is important.  Try to really “hear” and “honor” what this person is saying and repeat it back to them to make sure you’ve heard them correctly.  Doing this requires that you put your opinion on hold temporarily, but it offers the best possibility for your position to be heard and respected also.  After you’ve shown consideration for your challenger’s viewpoint, state your own.


When you find that you’re becoming emotional, and you’re having difficulty listening, take a short time-out, and use this time for prayer, contemplation, meditation, or private emotional expression.  There have been plenty of times I’ve found myself needing time to cry or to scream into a pillow, call a friend, or read some spiritual literature.  Often, during these times, we ask inwardly, to be shown a new way to see this situation or for an idea which we hadn’t yet thought of.  And it is imperative during these time outs to remember that just because someone else is unable to see it our way, it doesn’t mean that we are wrong, bad, worthless or insignificant.  Hugging ourselves may be just what we need to return to this person with an open mind and heart, willing to compromise or do what needs to be done.

*Thinking outside the box

Often, when we’re embroiled in an argument with differing points of view, we             lose sight of the fact that there may be many fresh possible solutions to this    problem.  We can become so stuck in wanting to be heard or in our righteousness, that we completely ignore other options.  For instance, if we refer back to the example about the 16-year-old driver and the conflicting opinions of each parent, when we allow ourselves to think outside the box, we might come up with new alternatives.  Perhaps the teen is permitted to drive his friends if he calls his parents when he gets to the first friend’s house, and as soon as he reaches the final destination.  In addition to that, he may be required to call as he leaves the party.  Or maybe the parents agree to let him drive his friends to a party after another 3-6 months of driving on his own.  Another alternative might be for the teenager to sign a contract with his parents that he will not allow music in the car with his friends.  You get the idea.  There are countless variations to workable solutions.

     All in all, disagreeing peacefully is an art, and one that needs exploration and practice.   But if you work at finding and offering respect to yourself and your adversary, if you listen to, and understand that another’s perception is as real to them as yours is to you, if you take time-outs when needed, and if you keep thinking outside the box, you’ll eventually discover that disagreement does not need to rob you of your peacefulness.  Differing points of view are part of life and living.  Learning to disagree peacefully is not only desirable, but highly possible for each and every human being.          

Monday, October 31, 2011

How to Bring out your Love Essence

            You know those days when you’re feeling out of sync, out of balance or just plain withdrawn?  Or what about the times you are annoyed, irritable or stressed?  Do you know that this is not the way you were meant to be?  Do you realize that peace and love always reside within you, waiting to be expressed?  Yes, that is the “real” you, not the former.  But somewhere along the road, you learned to be afraid and/or angry.  Somewhere in your past, you were just programmed to believe that this is the way it is.  You may have been young and not known the difference, but now you’re older, and guess what?  There’s another way to look at yourself; another way to live and be.
            Case in point:  When I was younger, I grew up in a very demanding, dysfunctional family.  There was a lot of bickering, competitiveness, and demanding energy, full of rules on how I was supposed to be, act and think.  When I expressed my own opinion, I often received (differing) opinionated responses, criticism, or rejection.  As a result, I grew up with much anger, low self-esteem and fearfulness.
            Flash forward several years into my adulthood when I began my search to find inner peace and harmony with others.  It started slowly, but as time passed, it picked up speed, especially as I began to realize that I had learned many untruths about myself, others and my world.  As I unraveled the puzzle through investigation, I found myself on a joyous journey of rediscovering genuine truths regarding the nature of each of us.  As a consequence of this, I was able to feel good again.  Many of my angry, fearful, unsatisfying moments were converted into positive, rewarding and gratifying ones as I voyaged through the streets of new knowledge. 
            Throughout the past 32 years, as I’ve continued my search, one great certainty that I discovered was that each of us is made of “love energy.”  It is the highest form of who we are, the only one that makes any sense to me now.   That “love energy” is our foundation, our essence, and living without this knowledge and the ability to act on it, brings about pain and suffering to some degree, for each of us.
            I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t, on some level, wish that they could give and receive love more freely.  Even those that balk at the word “love,” know, on some level, the beauty of the word itself and the feeling evoked from expressing and receiving it.  It is the number one subject of thousands of songs, poems and books; and it is the most talked about, thought about and desirable of human traits.  We’ve even seen love stories at the movies involving the lives of hardened criminals and love stories in literature written about every kind of individual we can possibly imagine.   We, as a human race, are obsessed with loving, for we know somewhere inside, its ability to bring us what we want – happiness, joy, peace and bliss.
            So what is “love” all about and how can we experience it more of the time?  As I see it, being in a state of “love” is about living with greater compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and patience in all that we do - for ourselves and for others.  Notice that I included the way we treat ourselves in addition to the way we treat others. 
            Ok, now let’s cut to the quick.  HOW do we do this?  HOW do we bring out this love essence within?  What if we don’t really believe it’s there?  What if we’ve tried and can’t seem to access it for any great period of time?  What if we’re still angry, wounded, scared or resistant?  Please know that these are common human feelings, and there’s nothing wrong with them, except that they don’t really bring us the happiness that we want.  So if you would really like to reside more of the time in this love essence, here are some tips to help you along the way.

1.  *If you don’t really believe that “love” is yours and everyone else’s essence, try keeping an open mind and be intent on proving it to yourself.

2.  *Look for good everywhere; inside of yourself, and within every person you see today.  You can even write it down or keep a record of your findings on your computer.  Make it your priority to practice this for 10 minutes each and every day.  If you like the way you feel when you’re practicing, see if you can challenge yourself to do this more often.

3.   *Choose more often to see yourself through the eyes of compassion. Whenever you see something you don’t like about yourself, ask yourself why you might have this trait.  Where might it have come from?  Draw out the “loving parent” inside of you, as if you were a small child that needed to be understood, listened to and cared about.

4.   *Repeat #3 with someone with whom you have conflict.

5.   * Examine your beliefs.  Do they make you happy?  If not, then you know that you may believe something erroneous, for a “love-filled” belief will always bring about happiness and contentment.   Work with one belief at a time.  If it brings you any sort of negative feeling, toss it and adapt a new one that makes you feel good.

6.    *Find support from like-minded people who demonstrate the loving kind of behavior you would like to exhibit.  Model yourself after them as much as possible.

7.    *When feeling resistant or angry, remind yourself that this is not the real you, just the you that you learned (or chose) to be because of past undesirable circumstances.

8.    *Know that one of your greatest Universal gifts is that of free choice.  That means in any situation, you can “choose” to be loving and kind to yourself and to others.  You just have to be aware and make that new choice instead of the old one.

     Remember, be patient with yourself.  You are on a journey of self-discovery, which takes time.  Revel in each small victory along the way and know that in every effort you make to remember your “fundamental loving nature,” you are contributing significantly to the healing of our world.   


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Abundant No Matter What

            The other day, as I found myself reading, for the millionth time, about our failing economy, I thought about all those who are struggling financially right now, and the enormous burden of fear and insecurity that seems to be running rampant among so many of us right now.  I was in the process of preparing a press release, and decided to address this very issue.  Of course, a press release must be brief, and when I finished my words for this project, I felt compelled to continue, as if what I said was perhaps inspirational, but only a beginning to really achieving the abundance that each of us wants to experience.  Nevertheless, I felt that the ideas that came forth as I thought about this subject, were important.  And so I share them here with some further meanderings about what it takes to fully realize prosperity in each of our lives. 
            My “press release” thoughts were the following:

            "Recently, it seems that the economy is not bouncing back the way we all wanted and expected. We can't help hearing from the media that national debt is rising, the housing market is still suffering, and that unemployment for many may be running out soon. Often, many of us feel that just mere survival in this economic climate is next to impossible.  There seems to be a feeling of helplessness that is contagious.  But, I disagree.  There is much each of us can do to assure ourselves that not only can we survive, but we can thrive, even in such an atmosphere.
      Our thoughts and beliefs are powerful - so powerful, that we can create a better reality with them.  No matter what we hear or see happening around us, we can focus on abundance and prosperity for ourselves and even for others about whom we care.  There are people out there with wealth even now, at a time when the world around them may be collapsing financially.  So why do they have money? Because within their minds, they actually believe that they can!  Somewhere along the road, they decided to succeed and to flourish, and that they weren't going to take no for an answer.  And even if their bank accounts told them differently, they refused to buy into the rampant beliefs 'out there' about the economic struggle we must all be in.  They just imagined something better and got to work making it happen!"
      Too many of us give up when we are frustrated and give in when we can't pay our bills.  I believe that prosperity is possible for anyone who imagines it, dreams it, focuses on it, and refuses to think about lack.  For those who concentrate on what they 'have,' and not what they 'don't have,' who appreciate all material gains, no matter how small, who see their cup half full instead of half empty, there are riches galore. No matter what 'bad news' is broadcast to us, we each have the power to change our own circumstances right here and right now!"

            Carrying these thoughts further, I’m aware that the most difficult thing about establishing a new belief system is that it’s hard to put out of our minds “what is.”  For example, some people might be in debt, might even owe thousands of dollars to  credit card companies.  Others may struggle to pay all their bills or know that they need repairs on their houses or cars that they can’t now afford.  Some individuals have lost their jobs, and can’t presently support their families, and others merely strain to make ends meet each month.  When these circumstances are so apparent, how does one come to believe that just the opposite can be possible?
            The answer, to me, lies in cultivating patience, developing faith in the promise of abundance from the Divine Spirit of which we are all a part, and nurturing thoughts that make us feel good.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but little by little, with continued effort and perseverance, the human mind can change absolutely any situation. Paying attention to the following points will ultimately ensure a more prosperous, flourishing, comfortable existence for anyone, at any time, anywhere.

*Watch your thoughts every day.  When you are feeling troubled or unhappy, ask yourself where your mind is focused.  Often it will be centered on what you see happening with your finances, your job, your bills or the like.  See if you can come up with a better-geeling thought.  Any better-feeling thought will do.  For example, you may be looking at your unpaid bills, and thinking, "I don't know how I'm going to pay these bills," or "I'll never find a job," or "the economy's so bad, I'm just going to drown in this debt," etc.  As quickly as you can, negate this thought by saying to yourself, "erase," or "not going there," or "cancel, cancel."  Then pretend to be confident in your money-earning ability and substitute a thought like, "This is just temporary.  I am finding a way to bring in the money I need!"  Repeat this thought several times until you feel bette and then focus on another activity.

*Dream Big!   Focus energy every day on what you want to see happen.  Dream up scenarios in which you have everything you need and desire.  See yourself there.  Write these scenarios down.  Draw pictures of these circumstances.  Envision how you would feel if this were true.  There is no dream too big to imagine.  Day by day, you will move closer and closer to this reality through the focused effort of your mind.

*Pay attention to what you do have, with gratitude.   No matter what it is, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is, look hard, with appreciation, at what you possess, whether it be money, love, friendship, your toothbrush, your morning cereal, your bed, your family, or whatever you can whip up.  Thinking about what has already come to you in life, brings more to you.

*Accept the now.  When you find your mind centered on "what is right now," be easy with it.  Accept it.  Allow it.  Just because you aren't where you want to be in this moment, doesn't mean that you've failed or that you aren't worthwhile.  Neither are you hopeless or ineffective.  You are merely "human."  And wanting something better (or more) is natural to any human being.  Let yourself be, and be kind to yourself.  You're learning through this process, and you're moving toward greater abundance, one step at a time.  

*Refuse to worry!  Say no to any voice within you that is concerned about your future.  This practice is perhaps the most important one of all.  This is because the energy of your mind is what creates your reality.  If worry has captured your attention, the energetic vibration of your mind will go forth into this universe attracting the same vibration to it.  This means that worry attracts worry and more of the same anxiety-filled situations.  When you are feeing worried, think about something - anything more pleasant; your pet, your grandchild, an ice cream sundae, your favorite TV show or movie, a friend you love or something comparable.  Keep your mind there until you feel better.  In this way, you will call to you more pleasurable thoughts and situations.  

*Keep practicing!  Commit yourself to the practice of these activities each and every day.  The more you practice, the easier and more automatic it will become.  It's those that put forth a dedicated and steady effort that reap the greatest benefits. 

     Abundance, as I see it, is a given.  It is as natural to our being as color is to a flower.  It is up to each of us to discover this truth in our own way in our own time.  It is right now, a hidden truth to many, and yet it exists.  It is a basic law of this universe in which we live.  We just have to develop our belief in it, or in other words, become aware of it.  And the simple steps above can help us in that process.  Scarcity does not exist except within our minds.  Today, take that next step, no matter what you hear about the economy, and open yourselves to the gift of plenty.  It is waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caught in the Act

           This morning I caught myself again in the act of “shoulding” myself.  I “should” do this, I “should” be that.  Why aren’t I doing more than I am?  I’m just not good enough.  And I kicked myself like I often do, bringing back ancient feelings of shame and guilt.  Old patterns die hard, don’t they?  We are so much the product of our past and change sometimes seems so hard. 
            But, I worked on it, yes, “again!”  And I silently prayed to see it all differently, “again!”  And Divine Spirit answered, this time much more quickly than in the past.  You see, I’ve been working on this issue for a long time, and I’ve built a whole new conversation in my mind around my “shoulds.”  I guess it’s getting easier and easier to jump back into my new mode of thinking and being. 
            The important piece that came to me this morning, was that not being where I thought I should be was the exact circumstance I needed in order to keep choosing to love myself.  I figure that if I always was where I expected myself to be, I would get no practice at this incredibly valuable lesson – you know, the one about choosing love and non-judgment for myself and for others.  I figure that if I don’t know how to choose it for myself, how can I help others who might experience similar difficulties.  And if I really want to help free others from the bondage of negative thinking, then don’t I have to learn how to do it myself?
            I had to remind myself that we’re all creative beings, and that as such, we are always expanding, moving on to new experiences, new desires.  In my case, I’ve noticed that ideas keep coming to me - fresh ideas that I want to act on, things I want to accomplish, ways I want to help people, activities I want to encounter, new business ideas, new “reaching out” ideas, more life to live!  So I go, go, go and then become ill, and have to stop in my tracks. 
            Yes, I’ve encountered health challenges along my way, as I’ve mentioned in my book, and the latest of those was a virus that led to a cough that has lingered for a long time.  After getting checked out by my doctor, and finding out that everything was ok, I came to realize that I just needed to slow down a bit and learn from this.  So the cycle began – not being able to do everything I wanted, not being able to accomplish all I had intended to etc. etc.  Then the “I’m not good enough” stuff reeling through my mind.
            But I’m really happy to say this time that I am letting myself be.  I’m getting off my own back.  I am choosing love, no matter what.  I am seeing this differently.  I am good enough just the way I am.  This is my journey, my path, my road. And no matter what anyone else might think, I am learning exactly what I came here to learn.  And I don’t need to feel guilty about that, or ashamed, for I can honestly say that I’ve grown in this life, and that I keep moving closer and closer to goals that I set long ago in childhood.  If I look at my greatest desires, those of attaining inner peace, and extending that peace outward to others, I must say that I’ve made great strides in that direction. 
            I am eternal.  I’m not on a deadline.  Whatever loose ends I leave in this life, I have nothing but time ahead of me to tie them up.  My joy lies in the NOW!  I am happy to be here.  I am honored to be given this chance to learn and to share my learnings.  It is a privilege to have the friends and family that I do, to accomplish tasks, or just to be.  Life is for loving.  That’s what I know today.            

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Other Face of Catastrophe

The Other Face of Catastrophe

            Disaster happens!   Severe tornadoes and the Mississippi River flooding are the latest in a long line of environmental catastrophes.  Lost or damaged homes, human life, possessions and crops have, once again, brought despair to human beings who urgently need a way to cope with the adversity that life can bring. 
            Viewing a situation in terms of its opportunities rather than its agonies can help anyone, anywhere to deal with hardship.  What if there was actually a grander purpose in all crises?  What if tragedies such as this could make us stronger and wiser?  What if we could learn something profound or useful from our experience?  I believe that it is the nature of the Universe in which we live to challenge us to improve ourselves and discover hidden pockets of knowledge and power that we didn’t even know we possessed.  If we open to this possibility, not only can we navigate rough waters more easily, but we can also develop amazing new versions of ourselves – ones more masterful and empowered, self-aware and compassionate.
            My life has certainly had its trials.  I’ve struggled with chronic illness, an estranged sister, irrational fear, deep loss, the murder of a close friend and a myriad of other “mountains to climb.”  I’ve worked with students and clients who’ve faced similar challenges: abuse, loss of jobs, homes and loved ones, hospitalizations, domestic violence, and yes, environmental disasters.  All of these events tend to rip us down, bring us to our knees or leave us raw.  And yet, it is in these very moments, when we are feeling most vulnerable, that we become willing to reach outward and upward.  We agree to reinvent ourselves, to consider new ideas, new knowledge, new behavior.  So it’s really to our advantage to undergo adversity with an attitude of curiosity and eagerness to learn what we can on the journey.  We are being presented with an amazing opportunity to make changes that we’ve always desired.
            When I was hospitalized a few years ago for 12 days with a serious and unusual illness, I was terrified at first.  I couldn’t have felt more vulnerable during that time.  And to make matters worse, my doctors were anxious and concerned about me.  They were afraid I wouldn’t make it, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I was as frightened as I’d ever been, and it didn’t help that medication I was on was adding to the almost constant anxiety.  I was dealing with loss at all levels, work, home, familiar surroundings, people I usually spent time with, a functional body etc.  But as I moved through my fears, using all the inner tools I had, including deep prayer and finally surrender, I was given all the resources I needed to further access and activate new inner sources of insight, understanding and vigor.  I have to admit that this experience helped to make me what I am today.    When the storm finally let up 5 months later, new and wonderful things came into my life, as if they were waiting for me to make room for them.   I published two books and began a new business, both of which I am extremely grateful for, and honored to share with others.
            However, the important story here isn’t so much “me” and “my” life.  It’s really about all of us, and the amazing human capacity we have to transcend real tragedy and rise from its ashes.  The human spirit is incredible, powerful, clever and resourceful.  If we can just believe this, we find that we can overcome any condition or circumstance with amazing results!  To me, evolution is about change, and change is first and foremost about letting go of mind-sets we’ve been holding onto that are really hurting us in some way.   Catastrophe provides a vehicle for letting go.  Evolution is also about adapting attitudes and perceptions that bring about greater freedom, security and happiness.  Viewing my illness in retrospect, I can see how Divine Spirit was at work the whole time, cradling me and urging me forward, sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully.  Yes, it took time, and yes, the journey was uncomfortable, to say the least.  But now I see through different eyes and have total confidence that anyone who faces a catastrophe, if they want to, can fly again, this time higher than ever before! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama, William and Kate

      Every once in a great while, something happens that captures my undivided attention and begs me to contemplate its significance.  For me, this is the simultaneous occurrence of two very different events – events that are poles apart in nature, and that have the power to attract global attention.  These are, of course, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the royal wedding.  To me, when we witness such synchronicity, there is always something to learn.  So here are my thoughts.      
         The death of Bin Laden and the joining of Prince William and Kate Middleton give the world a glimpse of the two extremes of human possibility.  Why are we mesmerized by a love story and relieved and maybe even ecstatic over the demise of a notorious terrorist figure?  Because "love" is our healer, our balm, our peace-bringer.  It is the absolute core of who we all are, and in its presence we are whole again.  Bin Laden represents the part of each of us that is abhored -  the wounded, hostile, diseased piece of each of us that needs healing.  Every human being holds within, both extremes of possibility, even though most of us are able to reside somewhere in the middle.  The closer we move toward our "loving" nature, and the farther we move away from fear and anger, the more peace abounds. If we learn anything from the symbolism of these events, may we realize that we each have the ability to choose and develop the loving side of our nature and to put to rest its opposite.  This choice lays the groundwork for the world in which we want to live.
         Consider, for a moment, that any human being, under the right circumstances, could behave as Bin Laden did.  For reasons we can’t be certain of, Bin Laden demonstrated the worst of what humans are capable of.  I would guess that somewhere along the way, he experienced and/or witnessed the opposite of love in his life; some sort of violation, degradation or lack of acknowledgment.  And I would expect that his role models were filled with fear or rage.  Couldn’t this be the reality of any one of us? 
         Now consider that “Love”, in its many forms, such as acceptance, honor, recognition, compassion etc. is what we each need to thrive and to be a positive contributor to society.  Without it, we are lost, we struggle to remain in control, and we may fall prey to imaginary fears and hostilities.  And yet, in the presence of any type of love, all of these conditions can be healed and we can be set free.   Imagine being in the midst of Kate and William’s celebration.  Might worries, anxieties and annoyances disappear temporarily?  Might the energy of this event have the capability of dissipating negativity?
         So what can we learn from all this?  For me, it is a reminder that my choice to treat myself and others with kindness, is well worth the effort.  It is a reminder that no matter what negative traits I possess as a human being, I need and deserve to be honored and accepted in my totality.   It prompts me to continue my journey toward healing the hurts inside of me, so that I can reclaim my natural state of joy and goodness.  And it helps me to remember that there is no human behavior that can disconnect me from the rest of the human race.  Contemplating these 2 concurrent events has been the ultimate reminder that my willingness and developing ability to hold acceptance and compassion for every human trait (negative or positive) is what I wish for us all.        
         I’ve chosen to start with me.  I know I’m not perfect.  I know there are parts of me to which I would rather not admit; parts of which I may be ashamed or parts of me, which I would like to eliminate.  Day by day, I am working to embrace these parts with the acknowledgment, understanding and love they need so that ultimately, I can respond to anything or anyone from my natural state of peacefulness.  I’m hoping that you will make this choice as well. This I desire for the sake of our children and grandchildren; this for the future of our glorious world.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Thoughts on Libya and the Middle East

            First Egypt, now Libya, and of course, the continued conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; as well as many other areas of discord in the Middle East – What can we contribute as individuals, who are all the way on the other side of the world?   If we’re bothered at all by what’s going on, how can we feel more helpful and  empowered to make a difference?  We may say, “I am only one person.  I have little effect, so why try?”   But I believe we’re much more powerful than we think and our behavior is both influential and significant!  What we choose to do and think counts!
            Peace is a process, something that’s obviously not going to happen over night, but every step along the way brings us closer.  Sometimes military intervention is needed, such as in the case of Libya right now.  But there is more we can do one by one.  Our minds are contained within a Divine Spirit energy that lives within all of us, whether we live in America, Libya, or elsewhere in the Middle East. This is an ocean of energy in which thoughts play an important role.  They move back and forth freely in this energetic field, affecting everyone and everything.  Our thoughts here can influence the behavior and thoughts of people millions of miles away.  If we’re thinking hateful, judgmental or condemning thoughts, they are received by every other being on this planet.  We all contribute to the wellbeing or ill health of our planet just by what we choose to place in our minds.  How can we best use our individual minds to help bring about peace in this war torn region?  We can choose thoughts of compassion, forgiveness, and wishes for freedom from strife for the Libyan people, Gaddafi included.
            The fearful and angry states of mind that accompany us many of our days, affect others.  As we learn to uproot any disturbing thoughts we may have, and replace them with peaceful ones, we are freed to extend hopeful, caring thoughts into the regions of the world, like Libya, that so critically need our nonviolent harmonic energy.  Even as we connect with those close to us in our own hemisphere, state, city, office and home, the offer of loving thought or compassionate, healing energy, creates a ripple effect which just keeps on spreading.  Each person touched by such thought will touch another and so on until large masses of consciousness have been transformed.  With the swell of social media, we are in a more powerful space than ever before, for the additional strength of words written or spoken, can affect a mighty impact on the whole.
            But peace begins within.  If our own minds are filled with resentment, anxiety, annoyance, self-pity or criticism, what will we offer?  We cannot give what we do not hold inside.   We are contributors to the world’s ills.  Until we clean up our own act, how can we expect peace in Libya?  In Israel?  In the Arab world?  Two vital questions enter my mind: “What can I do to cleanse my inner world of negative emotion today?” and “What would it take for me to commit myself to participating in an ongoing manner?”  The answers can only be found inside of each of us, and there is no wrong or right response.  We already know deep down at some level what we want for ourselves and our world.  There is a spiritual, moral, nonviolent movement brewing now.  I want to get on that boat!

                        A Prayer for All

May I find my way to a peaceful heart;
One full of forgiveness and compassion for my fellow man,
One bursting with love and kindness,
One plump with generosity and affection,
And one packed with tenderness and friendship,
            encouragement and hope.

And may our earthly companions in other parts of the world
Reside in peace, harmony and brotherhood,
Knowing that they are safe and free from the conflict that destroys;
That they are loved beyond anything they could ever imagine,
And that they are powerful creators of democracy and freedom.

May we all know the joy of unity,
May we know the ecstasy of service,
May we know the delight of concord,
And may we each know the grace of God.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Abraham's Teachings

            Lately, as I’ve been listening to Abraham (Esther and Jerry Hicks), I’ve become so inspired at times, that I lay in bed in the middle of the night, going over and over in my mind how incredible these teachings are, and how we can each create exactly what we want to see happen in our lives!  Each aspect of my life flashes in front of me – all my dreams and hopes and wishes, and I am beginning to see that I have already made great progress toward life goals I held long ago, even as a young child.
            I remember when young, wishing to be peaceful and then somehow being a force for peace in the world.  I recall wanting the world and my family to awaken – to cut out the fighting and recognize that peace was the only way.  And I recollect desiring to see the good in everyone and everything, and loving from deep in my heart.  I wished everyone was out of pain and able to love deeply also.  Funny thing is  . . . . . I find myself wishing the same thing now, only now I feel so much more able to do something about it, and to offer something substantial to others, whereas when I was young, I felt only confused, unhappy and inept.  I guess that must be a sign that I’ve come a distance since then.
            Long ago I had not the foggiest notion of how our thoughts play such an important role in creating our lives.  Not only did I feel as if I had no control over my thoughts, but I had no understanding whatsoever of the power I had within me to manage and choose my thoughts.  Little by little, through education and practice, I’ve been learning that I’m in charge of where I put my focus and that I’m perfectly capable of developing greater mastery over this.
            By listening to Abraham’s teachings repetitively, being mindful, mindful, mindful, and practicing, practicing, practicing, I’m realizing that the mind is indeed a powerful instrument and if it’s peace I’m wanting to create, it’s all doable within the confines of the mind.  I’m learning that anytime I’m feeling poorly, I can reach for a thought that feels better than the one I’m having.  And the more I do this, the more empowered I feel.
            I’m trying out new concepts, experimenting with such thoughts as, “You are a God-Form; I am a God-Form.”  “You no longer are named _____________, just Divine Spirit.”  “We are One in the same.”  “I honor you and recognize the God in you.”  “I honor me and recognize the God in me.”  And for a time period each day, I contemplate this new way of seeing.  It’s truly a joy to feel connected – to feel our unity as Divine source energy (as Abraham would say).  It’s this practice of contemplating life in this way that’s changing me, from the inside out, and I’m hoping that I will feel as if I’ve been a real force for good before I leave this place.  I’m truly grateful for these teachings, as I continue to discover that whatever I give my attention to, creates, and that if I don’t like what I’m creating, I can switch course with the thoughts I choose.     

Press Release, April 13th

For all who have an interest, please take a look at this press release from April:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hawaiian Insights; Am I Really Not Good Enough?

            As I sit here on my balcony, staring at the sparkling ocean in Hawaii, I realize that I’m more fortunate than most, for I am in this magical, tantalizing spot of the planet, smelling the perfumed air and breathing in the luscious beauty of the island of Lana’i.  But on some level, I know that no matter where I am, I take “me” with me, and even here, I was a bit challenged at the beginning of the week.
            I am with my husband, a top notch attorney, who was invited into an elite society of “accomplished” barristers (lawyers), and the group (with spouses) meets each morning for wonderful speakers who speak on very interesting topics, non-law related.  This, as it turns out, has been an incredible experience, full of lots of food for thought.
            However, the main food for thought for me, has been of another nature.  At the start of the week, I found myself in a roomful of high-achieving, ambitious, talented people -  just the kind of people I grew up with and the ones who push all my “not good enough” buttons.  The question that popped into my mind immediately, of course, was “What have YOU achieved, Laurie?” 
            Having considered this question for as long as I can remember, and recalling my younger years when my dad would ask me the same thing, I realized that I was in the perfect place to sort this through in a new way.  What an opportunity!  (Because I now view all emotional triggers as opportunities.)  I had been working on creating new perceptions involving our connectedness as living beings, and my old habit of comparing myself to others was being triggered AGAIN!   How appropriate!  I was being given the exact scenario to see this differently and let go of that old habit once and for all.
            So, putting together all of what I had learned recently through the Abraham teachings, and through the Buddhist view of things, I was able to see clearly how we are all connected by Divine Spirit.  I realized that it wasn’t those high-achieving “people” who were accomplishing anything.  They were merely the vehicles for God to work through, to create whatever God desired.  In other words, it wasn’t “men and women” doing these things, it was the God in them doing it.
            While I realize this is rather esoteric, it helped me to realize our connection to one another through this “ocean of consciousness” of which we are all a part.  Now, I see the ocean from my balcony, and it reminds me that the “ocean of consciousness” is a part of all of us.  We come from this ocean and we go back to this ocean.  It is a CREATIVE FORCE, so great, that as human beings, it is difficult to conceptualize.  However, I know now that I am that Force.  You are that Force.
I am a part of you.  And you are a part of me.  It would be absurd for me now, to compare myself to anyone else, because they are all me.  And their accomplishments are amazing and honorable and yes, different from mine, but it’s oh so wonderful to take pride in who we all are – Imaginative, Artistic, Resourceful, and Ingenious, Great Spirit!  I aim to contemplate this truth for the rest of my days here and to share with anyone I can, the power of this insight.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Refocusing the Mind

This is an article which I wrote a while ago.  The more I know about the power of the mind, the more I appreciate reviewing this and becoming inspired all over again.  I've found our minds to be our greatest instrument and as I work with mine, I keep discovering new miracles.  Hope this is helpful.  Please offer comments and tell us any stories you have from your own lives about how you used your minds successfully and satisfyingly.

Refocusing the Mind

            As the cold, quiet winter encompasses me, I look out my window into the bright sun as it spreads its rays over the soft, white snow.  Although spring is just over yonder, the winter stillness is ever present, encircling me in the depths of her long, white robes.  This is a day to be alone, to be thoughtful and ponder the circumstances of my life and the lives of those close to me.  In such solitude, I used to struggle in a depressed state.  Tears would come to my eyes and a grief and sadness, which I didn’t understand, crept through my being like an ominous cloud, sending its gray and dreary droplets into my holy space.  My emotions were simply dark and unmanageable.
            But now I realize that all things are perfect and that nothing occurs without having meaning and offering a lesson or two to be learned.  I’ve found that the trick is to refocus the mind on the positive effects of a situation rather than on the darkness of the pain.  Out of all pain comes strength of character, a step toward higher spiritual evolution.  I know now that the more we are aware of this, the quicker we are able to transcend the pain and feel the peace within.
            How do we refocus our thoughts and our energy?  The first step is to strongly affirm that we are willing and ready to do so.  This sets in motion a directive to the Divine Universe that we’re “ready to roll” toward seeing things in a much improved fashion.  Once the Universe hears that motivation and willingness are present, it begins a restructuring of circumstances in our lives to enable us to use our energy in a more beneficial way.
            Secondly, we become quiet or still in our minds.  We can accomplish this in different ways.  We can sit, lie down or walk slowly.  Then we begin to breathe deeply, mentally observing our breath.  Or we can chant a mantra or stare at an object, picture or some creation of nature.  As we become more and more relaxed, we ask the Universe to nourish our questioning soul by bringing clarity to our situation.  What is it we are to learn now?  What are the steps we must take that will bring us peaceful resolution to this problem?  I often repeat the words, “Show me, show me the way.”
            Answers come in many ways, but first remember we are concerned with refocusing our thoughts on something positive rather than the pain or the negative.   Any answer that brings with it a disturbing or uncomfortable feeling is not the answer we are looking for. Answers from the true Divine Source will always carry with them a sense of peace, knowingness or understanding about the situation.  These are the answers we want.
            We can hear our answer in soft words spoken in our thoughts, pictures or images that we see within the mind’s eye or as some sort of sign or symbol in our outer environment.  A sign may come in many forms such as a phone call, a newspaper ad or article or a happening.  The idea is to be as aware as possible, for whenever we ask for guidance, we cannot fail to receive it.  We just need to observe closely.
            A woman once asked for clarity about what her next step of growth was to be.  Very soon afterward, a friend called to tell her of a class she’d heard about.
            A man asked for a way to learn to concentrate better.  Before long, he found himself drawn to a particular bookstore.  Of course, once inside the store, one of the first books he saw on display was all about improving concentration.
            Another woman asked why she had not been feeling well and what she could do about it.  That afternoon, her child brought home a school project involving road signs.  The cover of the child’s project said, “To Mom” with a road sign “GO SLOW” drawn on the front.  The mother instantly realized she had been moving too fast and trying to do too many things.  Once she slowed down, she began to feel better.
            As mentioned above, the answer can also come in the form of words or symbols.  A young man asked for information regarding what he should do about a young lady he was interested in.  In his meditation, he saw in his mind’s eye, liquid gold spilling from his mouth.  He interpreted this to mean being honest and stating his true feelings to this woman.  As he proceeded to do this, the relationship blossomed.
            An older woman grieved the death of her husband and asked how long she would have to be miserable.  In her meditation, she saw 3 calendar months presented to her and heard the words, “May, June and July.”  She joined a grief group for the summer months and by August she indeed felt much better. 
            I think answers can come in many different forms.  The significance of this is what we want to be aware of.  When we begin the journey of refocusing the mind, sometimes it seems difficult, almost impossible.  But if we stick to it, affirming our willingness and determination to see things differently, whole new areas for ponderance or thought open up to us.  It is then that we are refocused.  The pain becomes a thing of the past and peace and harmony are ours once again.  Remember, nothing happens without meaning.  Everything that happens to us has a lesson associated with it and uncomfortable feelings can be a wonderful trigger for moving us through our lessons.  So the next time you have a bad day, try to look with excitement at all the new doors that can open for you.  Misery becomes joy when we refocus our mind, adopting a higher view of the matter at hand.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Interesting Thoughts

A student of mine sent this in an email, and I thought it so clever and true! I thought I'd share it here for all of you. Hope you enjoy. The email was called, "Interesting thoughts."

1] Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a 
"steering wheel" that directs the right path throughout.

2] Why is a car's windshield so large and the rear view mirror so small? 
Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE.  So, look ahead and move on.

3] Friendship is like a book.  It takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes 
years to write.

4] All things in life are temporary.  If life is going well enjoy it; it will 
not last forever. If it is going wrong don't worry, it won't last long either.

5] Old Friends are gold!  New Friends are diamond! If you get a diamond, don't 
forget the gold! Because to hold a diamond, you always need a base of gold!

6]  Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above 
and says, "Relax, sweetheart, it's just a bend, not the end!

7] When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD 
doesn't solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.

8] A blind person asked God, "Can there be anything  worse than losing eye 
sight?" He replied: "Yes, losing your vision!"

9] When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and 
sometimes,when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

10] WORRYING does not take away tomorrow's troubles; it takes away today's 

Friday, February 18, 2011

This is a series of questions asked by Tess Marshall and posted on her blog,  Wonderful questions that really made me think.  I present them here with the hope that they might stimulate some of your own pondering too.  You'll notice that Tess makes comments throughout, which I so appreciate.  See what you think.

Tell us about your new book, The Loving Heart, and how we would benefit from it.
I wrote The Loving Heart: Navigating the Journey from Conflict to Peace, to provide my readers with a more peaceful perspective on themselves, their world and each other. 
The benefits include: 
Increased self-esteem
Improved capacity to connect with others
Increased ability to transcend illness, loss, divorce, or any  other life challenge
Decreased depression, anxiety, fear and anger
Increased ability to forgive
Augmented creativity and motivation
Increased empowerment
The Bold Life:
What I like about, The Loving Heart, is the opportunity to learn through experience. Laurie provides, questions, guided meditations, prayers, stories and examples through, out giving us the opportunity and direction to immediately apply what we learn.
What do you mean by ancient psycho-spiritual principles?
To me, ancient psycho-spiritual principles are core tools that have been passed down for generations and generations which have proven themselves to bring about comfort, joy and peaceful living; i.e. greater mastery over life. 
"Psycho” pertains to the mind and “spiritual” pertains to Divine Spirit, the source from which we have come. So these are “mental tools” which we can learn to use with the help of our higher, wiser self or “Divine Spirit.”
The Bold Life: When applying these core tools to guide our own human nature, we have the ability to remain calm and peaceful in our turbulent world. That's powerful!
What do you consider to be the single most powerful tool or technique that you use and teach?
The most powerful tool that I use and teach is “Mindfulness.” We can use it in a formal meditation practice or informally all day long. 
For me, to be aware of  what we are thinking in a non-judgmental way, is an absolute necessity for self-transformation. My experience has shown me that our thoughts and beliefs create our feelings and that many of us have been “programmed” in  “fear-based” thinking. 
I believe that our core essence is that of love, and that only “love-based” thinking will bring about the peacefulness we desire. As we become aware of our fear-based beliefs (with total acceptance of them) and learn to choose love-based ones, we can move into that place of peace and harmony.
The Bold Life:
I agree, the key is to be non-judgmental as we recognize our fear based thinking. It's a wonderful gift to know that we are "love" and to return to the state of love is as simple as choosing a "different and loving thought."
You began your self-transformational journey 35 years ago. Who was your first teacher?
Thirty years ago, I had a nervous breakdown, which was the beginning of my spiritual journey.  Looking back, although it was a most challenging time in  my life, it led me to question everything I believed about life.  
During the next 3 years, I read voraciously, anything I could, about spirituality and many  authors became my friends during that time.  But my first real live teacher came in the form of a lay minister who was my “Course in Miracles” instructor. It was through his vision and love that I came to understand  my purpose and my path.  
This led to the study of Attitudinal Healing with Gerald Jampolsky MD, who became my first well-known teacher. Jerry, as we knew him, is now 81 and still a friend to me. I am honored to know this gentle, wise man, and to have learned from him was an enormous gift.
The Bold Life:
I continue to recommend Jerry's books, Love is Letting Go of Fear andTeach Only Love. What a life of service that man has led!What a wonderful teacher and friend you have had.

What is one unexpected thing that has happened to you in the last year?
One unexpected thing that has happened to me in the last year is that my mother  has needed me much more than usual.  My mom is 84 and living with her companion, Ray, of many years. Ray was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago, but was doing fairly well with it. In the last year, he has gone downhill enough that my mom has had to struggle with what to do. 
I’ve learned much about elderly health care insurance, and how to proceed with a 90 year old Alzheimer’s patient. What has stood out for me is how this is a  step-by-step process that requires much discussion, thought and tuning into my mother’s needs as well as her desires in any given moment.  
These needs and desires continually change, sometimes from day to day. And her  emotional roller coaster is somewhat of a challenge for her and all members of our family. But it’s fascinating to watch her process and what she feels capable of today as opposed to 12 months ago. To observe the process   leading toward acceptance (for her) is quite intriguing, and renews my faith that we all can eventually come to grips with a difficult situation.
The Bold Life:
Your mom has been blessed to have a loving and caring daughter like you. You're sons are learning from you and will offer you the same understanding and care if and when you need it. Isn't life grand?
How do you spend your free time? 
My main love in life is my family. I have always loved children, and I am now so fortunate to have an 18 month-old granddaughter. As I had 2 sons, this is new and wonderful for me. In my free time, I talk to “Aya” on the computer, as they live far away. But they are moving back to live close to my husband and me, and I can hardly contain my excitement. I hope to spend more of my free time with her in the next few years. 
Other than my family, I love be out in nature. I walk and bike as much as I can, all year around, even though I’m in Michigan.  Nature soothes me, renews me, energizes me, and balances me. The trees are my friends and the best listeners!
The Bold Life:
Technology has allowed loved ones to stay close regardless of any geographical distance. It makes me wonder what Aya will be doing with her distant relatives when she is grown up!
Tell us something nobody knows about you. 
When people interface with me, the main impression I give them is that I’m spunky, friendly, put together, energetic, and just naturally happy. People are surprised to find that I’ve struggled in any way. But I’ve had to work at happiness and peace, and I’ve finally told my story in my book. 
There are stories about myself that I tell in the book that I didn’t talk about too much for many years. I had to let go of a lot of shame, fear and guilt. And I continually work on this.  However, I feel so fortunate now to have learned all that I have and I am hoping that I can pass on the knowledge I’ve been so  lucky to receive. 
The Bold Life:
I think the temptation to "glamorize" the lives of others, is ego based, causing separation instead of unity or oneness. A good example, is how our culture is obsessed with Hollywood stars. They appear to have it all. Yet if you put my ordinary life in a magazine and circulated it in a third world country, I would appear that way as well.
Like you said earlier our core essence is love. Nothing else matters. When all minds join together and recognize this, nothing will ever separate us again. The rest is the illusion.
Laurie, I can't even imagine the number of people you have touched over the last 20 years with your wisdom. I remember reading your column in that Detroit magazine. It was one of my favorites. 
Thank you for giving us the tools to create peace and happiness in our own lives. I want to end with this excerpt from The Loving Heart:
"The Universe provides us with situations that cause us to suffer enough discomfort that we may feel "forced" to grow toward greater peacefulness. That is how evolution operates.
If we are passive and hide from ourselves, waiting for the Universe to push us, the pain we experience may be worse than the pain we feel if we allow ourselves to consciously choose to work on inner transformation.
If we keep on hiding in spite of our discomfort, we may experience serious disease both mentally and physically.
If we consciously commit ourselves to the process, however, our "gullies" may be shallower and our climb less severe.
Even if we struggle through our growth process with disease, we will reap the incredible rewards of our labor by experiencing periods of grace, gratitude, and wisdom known only to those on a conscious path." -Dr. Laurie Pappas