Friday, June 29, 2012

The Flaw in How We Pray or Affirm

Whether we pray or affirm doesn’t matter; they’re just paths to one center. However, what we understand about how they are meant to work does matter.

One thing we need to be clear about either praying or affirming is that they don’t, as such, affect or influence the Creator or the Universe; they ARE meant to affect or influence US, starting with how we think (there’s more to this, in the following paragraphs). Provision of some result is always ours. And, if we believe in measuring more for ourselves, or less, that is responded to accordingly.

There’s a phrase in the bible: “As ye believe, it shall be done unto you,” which is the premise of the Law of Attraction. Many of us have been taught to pray or affirm in particular ways, which led us to believe that if we just craft our words a certain way, that makes the difference. No. Although word-crafting is important, relying on it solely makes it too easy to bypass the fact that the Universal Principle we call Law of Attraction is in effect. And this Principle or Law responds to “As ye believe,” not “As ye speak but don’t believe.” When a prayer or affirmation is fulfilled, it isn’t because we were convincing with our words, it’s because we aligned with, moved into, right relationship with how the Principle works, in alignment with The Bigger Picture.

The reminder that every thought is a prayer or affirmation came to me as the answer to my request to know what it was that I needed to learn… let me repeat that… that I needed to learn… about myself as it related to a situation I found difficult. There are circumstances that can feel difficult, but what often makes them more difficult is how we relate to them.

Understandably, we want a difficult circumstance to go away; the sooner the better. And we don’t really wish to look at the part we play in that dynamic. For me, I needed the reminder that the words we hear and believe the most are the ones we tell ourselves. And whether 100% true or not, we believe them; and then they become part of our story. Then we repeat our story to ourselves, and others. If our repetitions are supportive or constructive, there’s no problem. If they’re not supportive or are destructive, I call this “playing the broken record.”

For those of you too young to know about vinyl records played on a turntable, if there was a snag in the vinyl, the needle got stuck and you’d hear the same brief segment of music or lyrics played over and over and over, until you lifted the needle. Sometimes our mental-emotional needles get stuck in the same way, and we find ourselves dealing with a case of “As ye believe, it shall be done unto you” about the same matter or issue for years. How can any of us expect different results if our needle is stuck playing the same emotionally-charged thoughts about something over and over? We DISDAIN, when we could ORDAIN differently.

I realized my needle has been stuck about one particular matter for a long time. So, I know it’s going to take deliberation and a deliberate change in thinking for me to move the needle so I hear the song or symphony that’s on the other side of the bump… or I should say rut. If I truly desire this, how I think about this matter has to change FIRST. I must commit to the song, not the snag. I also must not expect myself, after years of playing this broken record, to be transformed instantly. I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I don’t want to add self-judgmental expectation into the mix. I just want to move forward.

I’m going to share how the first several hours of this new practice went for me. You may be able to relate to the first part: I caught myself repeating the old story in my head. I stopped. A few minutes later (maybe it was seconds later) I caught myself doing it again. Crikey! After the fifth time, I realized…

1. It’s a long-practiced habit; it’s going to take more than just a decision for that “pendulum” to swing to the other side.

2. I realized I didn’t have the absolute solution or resolution yet. I didn’t know when that would happen, or if it would happen all at once or in parts over time. But, I wanted to Do Something Constructive Now.

3. I decided to say “Broken record” each time I caught myself playing this particular one, or any one, and then picture a perfect, peaceful lotus blossom on still water.

4. I knew I was going to be face-to-face with this particular challenge later that day, which was the trigger for the replay moments. Broken record… peaceful lotus.

5. Once in that face-to-face place, despite all my prep work, I noticed I had an attitude. Whoa! That led me to realize something I already know: that negative anticipation influences me in a way I don’t like, and that if I experience the same type of challenge repeatedly, there’s one thing consistently present: Me!

6. I mulled over the idea that even if I wasn’t the originator of the challenge, I’ve been engaged in keeping it alive. Broken record… peaceful lotus. (So you know, this inner attention resulted in a harmonious experience.)

Will lifting this “needle” eliminate the challenge completely from my life? I don’t know . . . it might; it depends on what I need to learn about myself through this. But that outer change is not the one that’s more significant; my inner change is. If I keep that foremost in mind, I’ll stay on track better and I’ll experience this process (and my progress) differently than if I focus solely on what my ego wishes would happen (everything and everyone involved, BUT ME, changes). I have enough experiences I can recall to mind that prove that when I get into right relationship with the Principle, things shift, but especially, I shift. That’s really what every dynamic in my life (and yours) is ultimately about, anyway.

How can we hear or sing our desired NOW and therefore our desired future if all we listen to or play are broken records? In the case of “broken record, peaceful lotus,” each is a prayer and affirmation of what we believe and is what is, or can be, reflected in our life. Please keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between contemplating an old story in order to see it in a new light or to glean something from it to help us improve or release it, and in repetition out of anger or sadness or frustration, which makes us angrier or sadder or more frustrated.

We are to also pay attention to what Ernest Holmes calls the Mental Equivalent: Our perspective about anything outside us comes from within; and, we get back what we send out. This applies to the perspective we hold about ourselves, others, and life. This means the range of our possible or potential manifestations cannot exceed the mental equivalents of our beliefs. To expand results, we have to expand what we believe. We cannot pray or affirm for improvement AND play a broken record about it. That’s like always turning left at the corner and being miserable or complaining because we never leave the block. To experience something else requires US to change our path, even a bit.

Holmes wrote, “To desert the Truth in the hour of need is to prove that we do not know the Truth.” He actually wrote this in all capital letters to demonstrate its significance. So, you can say that the flaw in how we pray or affirm stems from lack of proper relationship (alignment) with the Law of Attraction Principle, which stems from not understanding the Truth of the Principle as we might. Every challenge, and blessing, is an opportunity to explore and integrate more of this aligned relationship and the Truth that “As ye believe, it shall be done unto you,” and put these into practice.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do You Genuinely Appreciate Your Gifts?

How many gifts from the Universe and the Earth do you have in your life right now? How many of them do you genuinely appreciate, and why does this matter?

That first question isn’t meant to be a trick question, but in essence it is… because everything is a gift from the Universe and/or the Earth. We do ourselves a huge disservice by not recognizing or acknowledging this Truth.

Almost two decades ago, a friend sent me a garment unlike any I’d ever worn before. I told her that, and that I wasn’t sure how to use it. Her reply was, “If you can’t figure out what to do with THAT, send it back!” Her statement may seem strong, but it was important to hear. How many gifts do we receive from the Universe, and the Earth, that we don’t, initially (or ever), figure out how to use properly and, therefore, we don’t fully appreciate them? Imagine the Universe or the Earth making the same statement my friend did regarding anything that comes to you or that you currently have. Kind of amps up the message, doesn’t it?

We love our conveniences; and though we may appreciate them, our familiarity with them (as well as, perhaps, lack of proper guidance and training) may cause us to disconnect from deeper, true appreciation. Let’s look at a meal as an example, whether you prepare it or someone else does. Even if you say a blessing before you eat, do you really mean it or do you say it because it’s expected? And, is it a thorough blessing that allows you to merge your personal empowerment with your appreciation?

Here’s an example you might test for yourself. While you cook or before you take the first bite of a meal or snack, say silently or aloud: I give thanks to everything and everyone that contributed to this food being available for me. I give thanks to the Earth for providing everything used in the preparation and in the serving and eating of it. I give thanks to the molecules of this food for the nourishment they give to my body, mind, and spirit. I give thanks to every molecule of my body for using every molecule of this food to support my optimum health, well-being, and energy, while helping me maintain my ideal weight of (number). If you happen to forget until after you eat, say or think it then.

That last part about the weight maintenance may have surprised you; but how often do we eat something and rather than enjoy and appreciate the food, and state our truest intention about the nourishment, do we do the opposite? Far too often. There is so much, everything, really, to appreciate every day, every moment; but our own disconnect to genuine appreciation causes us to USE without grace or, worse, Abuse without conscience or awareness.

When we feel appreciated, we feel fulfillment and joy about giving. When we appreciate what we receive or have, we create ripples of fulfillment and joy outward, including to the Earth and the Universe. This is an expansive energy that is responded to in kind. We feel larger when we’re in a state of appreciation because, in spirit and expression, we are. Lack of appreciation contracts our energy, makes us smaller in spirit, self-absorbed, cut off from more. More awaits us. But appreciation is the language we must feel, as well as speak, in order to keep that line of communication and receptive exchange open and flowing.

The meal example is an easy one to follow; but what about everything else in your life, especially anything or anyone so familiar or routine in your life that you “forget” to appreciate its or their presence? If you think you’re too busy to appreciate in this way, maybe you’re too much about busyness because you don’t appreciate in this way.

Look around your home, office, life, relationships. If there’s anything (or anyone) there you have no true appreciation for, remove or exchange it as soon as it’s reasonable to do so. If your life, inner or material, is cluttered with what you really don’t want and therefore don’t appreciate, you may not be able to readily appreciate what you do have that you do want.

Please be cautions not to insert self-judgment (convincing/fooling yourself) by believing if you don’t feel appreciation all the time, you’re failing, so why bother. You’re building a skill and way of being, as you might a set of muscles. To reach full development takes time and practice. Know that any moment you feel the opposite of appreciation can become an opportunity (as soon as you’re ready) to ask right questions and to learn something that can assist you as you continue forward. Keep in mind that sometimes what you learn is what to let go of. Knowing this is something to appreciate. "Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day." -Zen Proverb

As you take such assessment about anything and anyone in your life, which you can do in each moment, hear the Universe say to you, “If you can’t figure out how to put THIS into proper use and appreciate it, return it.” It’s an interesting thought and an interesting practice to follow.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Friday, June 15, 2012

Does Your Attitude Have You Stuck?

Do one or more parts of your life make you feel like you’re wandering in a wilderness, and you can’t find the exit? Maybe it’s time to see this for what it really is.

Three definitions of wilderness in my dictionary are: barren, empty land; a large, confused mass or tangle; a wild condition or quality. Circumstances sometimes feel like a wilderness experience, that is, as one of the definitions offered here. But the most prevalent or consistent wilderness experience happens in our mind.

Your choice of thoughts and words are influenced by your attitude, and your attitude is influenced by your thoughts and words, a sort of yin/yang situation. Stay the same, and you travel in a circle or loop. Tweak this, and you leave the loop for the evolving spiral that can carry you forward.

Your words, which come from your thoughts, have power over you and what you attract. Your attitude not only attracts your experiences but perpetuates your circumstances. Ernest Holmes wrote: “You cannot heal anyone of his trouble, if it is the result of some mental attitude which he will not surrender.” Circumstances change over time, but our mind changes only when we decide to change it.

Most of us enter and exit wildernesses throughout life (wilderness happens to each of us), while others merge more than one wilderness into one big one and wander around in there for years or a lifetime. How long have you talked about, thought about, the same “old” things? How long will this continue? Do you really want things to change? Are you more committed to change or to talking about why nothing changes? That’s like complaining about your untidy home or office and never tidying it.

Those who look only at their circumstances and not their attitude complain often, because they don’t see (don’t look) beyond circumstances. Here are some popular wilderness-attitude statements: I can’t, because . . . (Different from “I won’t,” which is a choice); I know I shouldn’t, but . . .; It’s not my fault, it’s the fault of . . .; Nothing ever changes; I give up. People stuck in the wilderness, and that’s each of us at one time or another during our lifetime, tend to blame lack of progress on others or situations. Yes, stuff happens, and sometimes it can take a while to recover in whatever way is needed; but we can move ourselves out of and beyond such wilderness experiences sooner with an attitude adjustment. Stuff happens. Stuff will always happen.

Just as you may be proficient at looking at something negative and thinking it could happen to you, you can do the same for positive circumstances. Consider your thoughts. When you wake, what thoughts do you have? Or, do your thoughts have you? Are they thoughts of appreciation or of grievances? Your first thoughts of the day are akin to you choosing a healthy or an unhealthy breakfast, which influences how you perform for at least the first part of your day, if not the rest of it.
We have a spiritual power within us. We have the Law of Attraction. And, we have the God Force to assist us with anything and everything. What trips us up and keeps us stuck is that we want to see (insist on) a demonstration of improvement outside of us before we demonstrate improvement inside.

If your attitude doesn’t serve you, you have to decide whether you’ll surrender that attitude and take up a new one… or not. However, if you choose to keep an unsupportive attitude, also be willing to choose to own your choice and not blame others for how you choose to be. Tie this in to the fact that you prepare your future in the present.

How can you begin your exodus from a wilderness situation? Do what can, even if you think what you can do won’t be enough. Do this, and you’ll find the Creative Consciousness helps you with the rest, as is appropriate for you. Sometimes, what you can do is an action, but you can always do something about your thoughts, words, and attitude. Doing so is called your demonstration of your willingness to step out of your self-imposed wilderness or any wilderness you find yourself in. Such a demonstration is powerful; and the more you practice such demonstrations, the more your power grows.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Key Ingredient Is Needed for Joy?

You can choose joy as easily as you can choose any emotion. But you won’t enjoy your life as much as you could unless you include one key ingredient.

Do you enjoy what you have: your key relationships, material items, spiritual awareness and connection to Source, personal traits and characteristics? If you can’t enjoy who you are and what you have now, how will you enjoy even more? This may seem contradictory but it isn’t. It reminds me of two thought streams: “Wherever you go there you are” and “I’ll be happy when…”

You can choose to enjoy on purpose. What’s the key ingredient that helps you do this? Appreciation. If you genuinely appreciate something or someone, you’ll enjoy or find joy in it or them. Appreciation and joy are magnetic and attract more. If “more” seems elusive, check your level of appreciation for what you are and have. It’s likely a quart or more low. You can simplify your understanding of how Law of Attraction works by remembering appreciation attracts more to appreciate; lack of appreciation attracts less to appreciate.

Here are some common joy stealers we all come across:

*We may be good at saying Yes to please others when what we need to be good at is saying No to please or nurture peace in us.

*We may be controlling, manipulating, or workaholics, which is about trying to make life and others do what we want, whether what we want is aligned with the highest good of all involved or not.

*We may not be readily aware of what causes us to feel appreciation and therefore joy, so we don’t deliberately seek to experience more of those things.

*Our primary motivation is to get, with little to no motivation to give.

*We work for a paycheck only, with little to no thought of bringing our light into the workplace or to be a blessing to at least one person each day.

*We form relationships with others, maybe even marry someone, so they can “make” us happy, ignoring the fact we’re responsible for our own happiness.

*We forget that making others happy will bring us joy.

*We speak more negatives than positives; we don’t stop to think or choose better words before we speak.

*We believe being joyful contrasts with being caring; believing that with all that goes on in the world, we have no right or reason to be joyful.

The day I decided to write this article, “stuff” was hitting the fan, so to speak. Was I enjoying it or able to find joy? Did I even feel like looking for joy? No. But my own words were fresh in my mind. About two hours into the “stuff,” I heard chirping. On a shrub outside my window was a splendid cardinal. THAT brought me joy! I watched it for a few minutes then went back to what I was doing. The cardinal visited again; and again I got up to watch it and express appreciation. The cardinal’s visits reminded me that although some events are far from joyful, reasons to connect with appreciation and joy are all around us, even amid “stuff” happening.

We definitely have to pay attention to what we say to ourselves. This is crucial. We can convince ourselves that something is true: positive or negative. One brings us reasons to be appreciative; the other, to perceive there’s nothing to appreciate.

Lack of appreciation causes us to miss the good, the beautiful, the blessings. It causes us to shut off the stream of well-being we could enjoy. It causes us to give away our joy and, instead, live angry or upset with or about everyone and everything or something a majority of the time. And all the while, this is a choice.

Appreciation eases or displaces anger and other negative emotions and nurtures joy or, at least, peace. Appreciation is assisted by what we tell ourselves. Too few make the connection between what we tell ourselves, how we feel based on what we tell ourselves, and what we attract because of this.

We do not control all external circumstances, but we can manage our inner environment. What we do about this affects us most of all, but also affects those we interact with. When we lack appreciation, we steal our own joy; and inadvertent or not, we affect the joy of others.

Look at your key relationships, your material items, your spiritual awareness and connection to Source, and your personal traits and characteristics. Find what you appreciate and find what more you can appreciate about these.

If you want more joy, be more joyful. If you want more joy, be deliberate about your appreciation. State your appreciation. Choose a state of appreciation. And know that you will need to renew this commitment to yourself and your joy every day, and maybe several times a day. Put this into practice and you’ll begin to notice it not only gets easier to do, but more natural to do than not to.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trained Thought Is More Powerful Than Untrained

Can you always practice right thinking? I don’t know. But you CAN always practice adjusting your thoughts to right thinking.

The thing to know – the “trick,” if you want to call it that – is to KNOW that you DO and CAN influence the Law of Attraction in your regard and in each moment… with right thinking. Law of Attraction is receptive, not reluctant. We imagine; and the Law creates in accord with what we imagine. Because of this we are wise to keep in mind these words of Ernest Holmes: “There is a great difference between conscious and unconscious thought for trained thought is far more powerful than untrained…. Even a small amount of right thought puts to rout that which is wrong.”

We sometimes – or often – practice what Holmes called “unconscious, or innocent, malpractice” in our life. “It is malpractice because it is the wrong use of thought; innocent because it is not intended to harm….” His example was of a mother’s thoughts and comments that her unwell child was a poor, little sick one. Such feelings are understandable, but we’re often unaware of the result of that kind of mental action, and how it imprints our energy field and the energy field(s) of those it’s directed toward.

There are other ways the mother could use right thinking about this, starting with the realization and affirmation that the child is a spiritual being first and foremost, not “just” an unwell one. This doesn’t mean to ignore the health condition. Treat it! Do what needs doing about any condition. But know it’s a condition. “Disease is a fact but not a truth; it is an experience but not a spiritual reality,” Holmes wrote. Try this: replace the word “disease” with any word that describes what you consider a negative condition, and see the truth of his statement.

We could say we do this form of malpractice over one or more areas of our life, even after we’re informed about it. We do this about present-time matters; but each time we repeat thoughts silently or aloud about the past, we re-imprint those experiences into our energy field. We re-experience the past, emotionally, once again, forgetting that this level of thought attracts similar – or more of the same – events to us. We CAN remember that we can CHOOSE to imprint positive, as well as negative memories into our energy field.

What is right thinking, and how can we practice it?

Consider this thought from a broader perspective: We experience from life what we think into it. So, it’s important to have a constructive foundation for your thinking about the “fact” of an experience, as well as the deeper spiritual truth about it. Right thinking provides answers, solutions, and resolutions. It provides the power to heal, whatever that healing may represent. Retrain yourself to think what you prefer to think. Do the same for how you prefer to feel and be – about any and every experience, with the intention to enhance your conscious awareness, not just your experiences.

It isn’t just about thinking right thoughts, though; it’s Knowing the Truth about this… its influence and effects. Know your mind. You see a reflection of your mind when you look at your experiences and when you look at your responses to your experiences. Your state of mind influences your external experience and determines your experience of the external. Your state of mind is the result of what you think, what you know, and what you think you know. And, this can always be enhanced. Observe, learn, and retrain thoughts as needed.
Don’t judge your experiences, because they are there to help you to awaken your mind and heart, to awaken conscious awareness, to awaken your knowing of the Law of Attraction and to use it for your good and the good of others… from this day on. Know that your word – thought, felt or spoken – becomes Law, don’t just intellectualize this. You attain KNOWING by observing, by linking your thoughts to what you experience. To judge any of this would be to shift your focus away from where it’s meant to be.

I’ve been programming my mind with the nightly thought that I have one or more dreams that cause me to have clarity, focus, enthusiasm, and joy about every endeavor I engage the next day. One morning while making coffee, and still in the alpha brainwave state where the mind is easily programmed, I found myself “entertaining” negative thoughts. I stopped myself and acknowledged that if I’m going to ask for assistance, then I have to follow through on my end of it. It just doesn’t work to request one thing and think, feel, or do the opposite, which negates my request. I also keep in mind that endeavors and events may require me to use only one or two of these at a time, rather than all four, depending on what’s going on. But for a general daily approach, I find it’s a good one for me.

Use right thinking not just when you’re in a good mood, but especially when you’re not. I’m not saying you’re to ignore or disregard your feelings and emotions, but if you understand what I’m saying here, you’ll understand why right thinking is important to YOU. Your feelings and emotions are messengers, but you have to choose what to do about the messages. Will you choose wrong (disempowered) thinking or right (empowered) thinking? Consider the results you desire.

The more untrained the thinking, the more inclined a person is to let emotions rule the behavior, instead of allowing conscious awareness to lead the way. You can feel - as you are designed and meant to - without letting emotions run amok or allow them to run your behaviors. Information provided through feelings, blended with right thinking is a powerful combination. It can lead you to experience peace with poise.

The more we connect with spiritual Reality, and not just the “fact” of an experience, the greater our opportunity is to shift – either the outcome based on the “facts,” or our deeper understanding; though, both may shift as a result. This helps us shift from wishing to Knowing, usually knowing a greater truth. It is the difference between mental force (which doesn’t work) and mental acceptance (which is based on deeper conscious awareness).

Are your responses to any matter yours or learned ones? Would thought retraining benefit you? Trained thought is more powerful – and more relaxed and relaxing – than untrained. Appreciate that you can choose to retrain yourself into right thinking, that you can adjust into right thinking as and when appropriate. Appreciate that trained thinking opens you to a different, improved experience of your life, no matter what it temporarily appears to be like.

Any knowledge that stays on the surface has not taken root. For it to take root, you have to put it into practice. You CAN think yourself into greater personal power and a better experience of life and “facts.” It’s a good practice.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer