Monday, October 28, 2013

What Is the Spiritual Path Really About?

Have you ever felt the spiritual-metaphysical path was just too challenging and wanted to jump off that ride? There are a few things you can do that can make this a smoother journey.

Here’s something you may want to keep in mind: The spiritual path is more about how much you get rid of rather than acquire. What does this mean? It does feel good to learn a new tool, technique, or method that we anticipate will move us forward on our spiritual-metaphysical path, but what we often do is acquire one or many more of these while still hanging on to the old beliefs, thoughts, feelings, words, and or actions that got us into feeling the need for a shift in the first place. We basically fill our inner space with opposing thoughts that cancel each other out. Or we still practice what doesn’t work, along with the new practice, at least until we give up when the new doesn’t seem to work—and this is usually because we still practice what doesn’t work, as well.

If we want to awaken spiritually-metaphysically, yes, something “new and improved” may be just the thing to assist us. But something that will get you there just as fast or faster is to begin to shed false and limiting beliefs and ineffective practices. This means you have to figure out which of your beliefs and practices fit into these categories—and then stop doing them, whether you replace them with a better way or not, though a replacement is a good idea, as long as it puts you into head-and-heart alignment, integrity, and inner serenity with your choices.

Here’s one example of how we often approach this. There’s something about your experiences or life that you don’t like and you want to change. Maybe you take action on this. Maybe that action changes what’s external to you but you still don’t feel the way you prefer to. Maybe what changed for a while goes back to what it was before, or worse. Maybe all you do is criticize what you don’t like, and do nothing to shift this.

Now, imagine you’re standing in front of a mirror and there’s something about your reflection you don’t like or you want to change. How effective is it to walk up to the mirror and try to change what you don’t like in or on the reflection? How effective would it be to yell at the reflection to change? If we want the reflection (our experiences and how we feel about ourselves) to reflect what we prefer, we have to make the changes within us first. We have to resonate what we want to experience and feel, as challenging as that can sometimes or often feels. But it only feels that way because it hasn’t been our practice before now.

Let’s say you’ve held the intention to seek or have enlightenment. Think of that enlightenment like a boiled egg. Your enlightenment is inside the shell you have around it. All you have to do is peel away what doesn’t belong there. You see, you already have and are the enlightenment you seek. That’s your natural state, before false and limiting beliefs became the shell this Truth became encased in. If you want to feel more enlightened, stop doing anything that doesn’t demonstrate enlightenment. Peel your enlightenment egg one bit of shell at a time, whatever bit is ready to be removed. This sounds easier than it might be as your experience.

When you get started on the spiritual-metaphysical path, and even after you’ve been on it for a while (unless you’re one of the rare few who experience a total transformation overnight or in a moment), there will be times when you screw up and you don’t mean to. You’ll have confusing times. You’ll have times of frustration when what you are learning and have thought you knew overlap. You’ll have times when the exploration and discovery process feels bad, especially when you see (perhaps for the first time, or—sigh—yet again) some of your less pleasing aspects for what they are. You’ll also have moments of bliss and deep knowing.

If you’re like me, you may have discovered when you first started on your spiritual-metaphysical path (or will discover) that life seemed or seems to go topsy-turvy at times, which seems contrary to your belief about what should happen once you’re more spiritually-metaphysically inclined. It may have felt—and may still at times feel—so uncomfortable to expand and evolve in this way that you want to ditch the effort. Hang in there. Eventually, you’ll recognize what’s happening. You’ll recognize these times for what they really are—opportunities to learn about yourself and strengthen yourself—and then put them to good use.

Let’s face it: All of us have times when whatever enlightenment we’ve garnered seems to go out the window as soon as we’re triggered. Except for those times when instant emergency measures are required, whenever you’re triggered, count to ten or twenty, taking in deep breaths and exhaling all the oxygen in your lungs. This will calm your chemicals down and will calm your mind enough so that you can think. We’re familiar with the saying or experience that we’re so upset we can’t think straight. This is an accurate assessment! And one we can take back our personal power about. When we feel fear, anger, resentment, and so forth, we disconnect (for as long as we carry that feeling) from the Infinite Mind we are an expression of’, and this is when and why life feels far more difficult and challenging than it’s meant to be. These are the times when we flounder and make choices we wish we hadn’t.

So, how can you shed false and limiting beliefs? One way is to really look at your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, even if that’s uncomfortable, so you identify which ones support how you choose to be in each moment. How about prioritizing? Prioritize what is genuinely important and important to you, rather than try to drag everything you’ve been told is important, along behind you. Consider what endorses you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually-metaphysically…and chuck the rest. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.      

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stop Giving Away Your Personal Power Through Blaming and Complaining

When you blame others or events for how you feel, you give your power to them. You’re saying they control your thoughts, emotions, and subsequent words and actions. How’s that worked for you so far?

It was a combination of things: too many days that were too active, various more-than-usual stresses each day, and a need for rest and sleep that led to my being more easily annoyed than I anticipated or appreciated. The more tired, exhausted, or overwhelmed we are, the easier it is to fall into this mode. The next thing I knew, I was off balance. I kept replaying the moments and conversations that had annoyed me over and over in my mind, and that annoyed me, too.

That’s a vortex that a number of us tend to go into, or can, when we need to look out for our best interests or take better care of ourselves on all levels. Something I know but temporarily forget (especially when I’m annoyed) is that, yes, a person or an event may trigger me, but after that initial trigger, everything I think, feel, say, and do is mine and only mine. I’m responsible for it, no one else.

There’s a positive aspect to this, though: It brought several things to my attention. For one, complaining and blaming absolutely does lead us to feel as though our personal power has diminished in some way; only, it isn’t anything or anyone external to us who diminishes our power—only we can do that, because our personal power is within every visible and non-visible atom of our being. (Actually, our personal power never diminishes. We can only convince ourselves to believe that it does.) Feeling disempowered adds even more bad feelings into the mix. We can usually directly address what or who has triggered us, and hopefully do so in a constructive, productive manner. However, it also feels bad when, for whatever reason, we don’t address issues in this manner and instead let our annoyance fester inside us.

There will always be situations we can’t control, but we can always control how we manage ourselves through and beyond them. There will always be people who, even after we speak with them, won’t alter their behaviors, but we can manage how we engage with them, as well as what we take on of theirs as ours. We can always find a way to restore belief in our personal power. A sure way to start on this path is to stop blaming and complaining. But that feels hard to do at times. So, what can we do to put our mental feet on this path?

Get off the topic. Seriously. When your thoughts of annoyance continue to loop through your mind, do something that requires your complete focus so you get your mind off topic like read or watch a movie. Do anything that holds your attention fully for an extended period of time. This isn’t avoidance; this is a way to start to rebalance your energy and perspective.

Let’s face it. If something gets addressed or even resolved, but not in the way you prefer, or if you aren’t able to resolve it and you now have to deal with how you feel about that, you want to re-energize your personal power as quickly and easily as you can. Putting your focus elsewhere can help you do that for a while. Get off topic until you can approach whatever or whoever it is that has upset you, with less emotional charge. You will not be constructive or productive if you’re an emotional mess. You’ll also attract more of the same experiences and become even more of a mess. Then, not only will you be upset about the original matter but also with yourself, even if your ego-aspect insists you blame someone or something else for how you feel, other than your personal perspective and choices.

Here’s something to keep in mind: The Universe cannot yield to you anything different than what you feel about yourself. Abraham-Hicks said that, and it makes sense. If you’re inclined to argue with this, pause and consider your life experiences and the basic tone or theme of them. This is also why you want to do whatever it takes to restore your awareness of your personal power: to shift the tone or theme your life has taken on as a result of being out of balance emotionally. In balance and in personal power is what you want your frequency, your transmitted attracting vibration, to be.

Another powerful statement Abraham-Hicks suggested we make whenever anything negative or even positive happens is this: My point of attraction equals that. When anything positive or negative happens, pause and make that statement and see the truth of it. If you don’t like your point of attraction, shift it. Complaining or blaming won’t do that for you. In fact, you can even back up a bit and consider whether you were blaming or complaining before the latest event happened.

That’s what happened with me. And it’s a cause-and-effect pattern I’m well aware of after all these years, and I still sabotage myself with it from time to time. It’s as though there’s a realistic spiritual limit to how much, for how long, and in what manner we are able to vent before that “glass” fills and spills over into blame and complain and creates a mess in our attraction energy fields. At least, that’s been my experience. Once I remembered this, I was annoyed with myself about this as well, but then let that go and replaced it with appreciation that apparently (or so I prefer to believe) this was a path I needed to travel in order to re-mind myself of this Truth. Yet again.

When we allow our mind and emotions to become scrambled by annoyances, we become servants, so to speak, of the annoyance energies and of whomever or whatever we blame for “causing” us to feel them. We mentally and emotionally disconnect from our higher selves and our personal power during such times, and this is why perceived disempowerment feels so bad. We feel alone and fragile. We feel in mental and emotional pain, weak rather than strong, ineffectual rather than creative and innovative.

The way to shift this is to remember we are more, that we are always more than how we appear to ourselves, and others, in any given moment that we feel disempowered. We can reclaim our personal power the instant we cease to feel, think, say, or do anything that is opposite of personal power. We might even follow the “Ask and it is given” philosophy with this statement: Let there be Light here. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.     

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, October 11, 2013

Empathy Is Another Form of Appreciation

With all that’s going on in the world today, maybe we need to revisit empathy. What is it? Why is it important to and for us?

                                   Images from the work of Masaru Emoto

My dictionary defines empathy this way: “the projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings.” I add that empathy is another form of appreciation, so we follow this thread and turn to a definition of appreciate, which is: “to be fully or sensitively aware of.” This leads to the definition of aware: “knowing or realizing; conscious.” You might say that empathy is having the conscious awareness (or at the very least the imagination needed) to be sensitive to or possessing the ability to understand and or be able to share the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of others. Why is this important?

Well, there’s the Golden Rule—a very wise rule—that tells us to treat others as we would have them treat us. You can modify that to say (repeating from above) we are to be sensitive to or possess the ability or imagination to understand and or be able to share the emotions, thoughts, and feelings of others in the way we would like them to do the same for us. Please understand that this does not mean we are to allow abuse in any form. There are things you should do about abuse in order to protect yourself, like remove yourself from it or self-protect until you can remove yourself from it; this includes others you may be protecting, as well. I’m talking about day-to-day thought processes and actions we come across that could benefit from more empathy, which, if we think about it, might actually curb some or most of the abuses that arise.

Unfortunately, there are times when this compassionate, empathetic part of us is blocked and it ends up as, “Treat others as they treat you, or how others before them have treated you.” Or, even worse, “Treat others in whatever way best serves you and your agenda,” when this is about greed or having power over others in a negative, abusive way. These are a sure-fire way to go nowhere fast, or into an abyss, not only in the physical realm but the mental, emotional, and spiritual ones as well.

What blocks empathy? There are lots of reasons, but we could say they include how empathy is demonstrated, or isn’t demonstrated, during our formative years, which may be what we mimic, even if we feel nudged to be empathetic. We might likely agree that having to stay so busy or burdened to survive leaves us little time to connect with and feel what’s really in our hearts. Or conversely, we may be frustrated because we feel we have so little that’s constructive or productive or meaningful to do that we focus on this rather than connecting with our emotional heart to determine what we can do. There’s also being so concerned with the self that the real needs (not imaginary ones) of others aren’t considered or even observed so they can be assisted in ways appropriate for all involved. Consistently imagining the worst can be a part of this as well, which depresses the body, mind, emotions, and spirit, all of which support empathy.

We all might take into consideration how this relates to our individual lives, but we can also expand that to what’s happening in the world. I recently heard researcher, author, and lecturer David Icke say that empathy is the failsafe mechanism of all actions. When empathy is blocked, this failsafe fails to assist or guide us. Not only does this affect those we show no empathy to or for, but it affects us as well. It feels really, really good to do something meaningful that benefits another or others in a way that’s appropriate and for the highest good of all involved, even if done at the inner level only, at times; and that goodness is what ripples outward and we attract more of. Maybe, just maybe, a lot, if not all, of what goes on in our personal and professional lives and the world is a result of faulty empathy. The mechanism seems to have gone awry in us, as humanity, for one reason or another.

Maybe it’s time we pause a moment and give all of this real consideration. Assess whether our lives are running us (including ragged), or are being run by others, rather than us running our lives, to the extent that we’re not conscious of lack of empathy in ourselves and in others—and the results of this, including those in positions of power who have been entrusted as administrators of matters concerning those they are supposed to be in service to, whether by selection or appointment.

Martin Luther King said:
Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
But conscience asks the question – is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it BECAUSE it is right.

Imagine a mother and or father whose empathy is blocked. What do they teach their children? How do they treat their children? This may have been your own experience at times or much of the time. How did that feel? If it wasn’t your experience, how does it feel when you imagine it was? Do you want to repeat this pattern, or shift it?

Imagination is one of our most valuable resources. It is a powerful force within us that opens us to empathy and to solutions for the highest good of all involved. It leads us to head-and-heart alignment, which is a significant, if not critical, component of a fulfilling life experience for all involved.

I watched a video of a little girl, using her imagination in this way, who said that when she grows up, she wants to have a hotel where people come if they need a place to stay or food or a hug. She said they won’t need to give her any money, but if they want to give some because everyone at the hotel has been sweet to them, that’s okay; but they don’t have to. She pointed to her head and said, “I don’t want to live from this.” She then pointed to her heart and said, “I want to live from this.” Pointing to her heart two more times she said, “From this. This! All the way down to my toes.”

Two or more decades back I listened to a program on National Public Radio about an experiment to see if the gap between Americans and Russians could be bridged. Rooms were set up with the proper equipment to allow the two small groups of families to see and speak with each other. When it started, no one on either side did anything for a few minutes. Finally, one little American boy said, “When I come home from school, my mother gives me cookies and milk and we talk about my day. What do you do after school?” After several seconds passed, a Russian boy of the same age said, “When I come home from school, my mother also gives me cookies and milk, and we talk about my day.” Such similarity was a revelation to both sides: “They’re like us.”

The children, unaffected by years or decades of prejudice, led the way. Suddenly, all that either side had learned about being suspicious of or hating people they didn’t know, who lived in another part of the world, fell away. Everyone wanted to talk to everyone else, to learn what more they had in common, how many ways they were alike rather than different. Empathy and appreciation expanded in those rooms.

What would the quality of life on this planet be if we put aside our perceptions of how we are separate, respected our diversity, and welcomed the aspects of our oneness instead? Would or will this be easy to do? Maybe not at first, because we’ve practiced the opposite for so long, but it’s worth it for all of us to make the effort and keep making it. Granted, cultures do things that other cultures don’t align with, whether this is favorite foods or other matters. This is when a second Golden Rule would be beneficial: Do what you want to do or feel you need to do, as long as you don’t impose it on another. This one should cause people to pause and think before they act.

Albert Einstein said: A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Imagine all of us being touched by a beam of light that is filled with conscious awareness; and that light beam of consciousness sparked within us empathy, compassion, love, acceptance, caring, imagination, inspiration, integrity, mutual respect, and innovation. Imagine that spark caused judgment of another based on how we look or the shade of our skin or on our level of education or on how we practice our spiritual aspects and paths (or don’t) or any other perceived separation, to disappear. Imagine everyone following or striving to follow the two Golden Rules.

Imagine Earth as a version of the little girl’s hotel where everyone uses their head based on the guidance and wisdom that comes from their heart regarding themselves, all others, and our planet—perhaps one day, even beyond. Imagination and creativity; the failsafe mechanism of empathy to guide our thoughts, words, and actions; the two Golden Rules; and appreciation for the experiences of others, as well as our blessings: It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.    

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Money Energy Virus

In most cultures around the world, there is a LOT of energy when it comes to the topic of money, much of it not very positive. Maybe we need to look at this.

What are your thoughts when you hand over money in exchange for goods or services, or even as gifts? By money I mean the paper version, coins, checks, even debit and credit cards and automatic payments, which you see registered on your account status. What if the money you touched, whatever its form, carried the energy to you of the person who touched it last, or it carried the energy of every person who ever touched it? This could apply to the keypad you use for debit card transactions, or the pen you use to sign a check or credit card voucher, or your own keyboard or whatever technology you use to check your account transactions. What energy would you prefer be transferred to you? What energy do you transfer?

Think this is airy-fairy nonsense? There’s a branch of paranormal science called psychometry, where you hold or touch an object and pick up information from it, including about the person who held it or carried it or had it last, and sometimes farther back than that. You can research this online or find books about it, if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Everything is energy (we can no longer deny this), so it shouldn’t be a surprise to us to realize we pick up on the energy around us all the time, as well as imprint our own energy wherever we are. You’ve perhaps even felt this when you’ve walked into a room and felt inclined to say, “The energy in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife.” Maybe certain places make you uncomfortable. You may think it’s because it’s a hospital or whatever, and maybe that’s accurate for your own reasons, but maybe it’s about more than that. We’re used to being aware of energy in some instances, but not in others, but it doesn’t mean energy isn’t everywhere, or that we can perceive some forms of energy but not others. We may not translate or “read” what we pick up energy-wise, but we do receive it.

I mentioned the money-energy virus in the title. I won’t look up a formal definition of what a virus is, because you’ve possibly experienced one health-wise or know someone who has, and because in this computerized world, we understand what it can mean for a computer to get one, or what it means for a video to go viral, as well as how quickly that can happen. The parallels to money energy are there in that what we touch gets imbued with our energy imprint and gets passed on. This can also apply to anything we touch: food we prepare or others prepare for us, apparel we buy or give or sell, each other, and so on.

Again, this is not as strange as it may sound. And it’s akin to what we’ve learned about organ transplants. Organ recipients take on personality traits of the donors. Not necessarily all the traits, but some, for sure. There are years of research and a number of books about this energy transference. It’s quite stunning, to say the least.

Energy leaves traces. This is why you might go from feeling content to feeling uncomfortable when you sit in a particular chair or seat on a bus or subway or bench, or why your energy may drop (or raise) when you enter a store or other public place. You might begin to wonder why your mood shifted suddenly and what caused the shift. And, of course, energy doesn’t work only in the negative. It most definitely works in the positive as well, which is why you can be in a bad mood and feel better or happier once someone in a good mood (good energy vibrations) enters the room or calls or e-mails you.

Thinking about this brought to mind the movie Monsters, Inc., where monsters pop out of children’s closets at night so the screams can be captured and used as fuel, like we use electricity. Things change when it’s discovered that children’s laughter creates even more energy than their screams. Plus, everyone has a much happier experience of life when laughter instead of fear is engaged.

We sometimes wonder about the attitudes of so many, as well as our own, that include fear, frustration, depression, lack of inspiration, lack of joy, scarcity, and so on. What if we’re transferring those energies to each other in a viral kind of way, including through what we touch, especially money, which has such an energetic charge throughout our cultural mindsets? Maybe we should wonder how we can spread more love, serenity, and consciousness, even if we don’t say a word about what we’re doing.

Maybe we can (and should) spread love, care, appreciation, financial and other forms of serenity, joy, blessings, and lots of good things, by putting those thought energies into whatever we touch, particularly money, rather than the thought energies we sometimes put into them. Now that’s the kind of energy, for the highest good of all, to make viral. And think of what it will do for you and your mindset and well-being, as well. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.   

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer