Monday, December 30, 2013

How Do We Lose Our Way or Our Life Spark?

Have you ever felt that you’ve lost your way in life? That the spark you once felt has gone missing? What’s described here is at least part of the reason this happens.

Have you ever felt really good, that your energy was in a good place, at a good vibration, until you went around or interacted with someone whose energy was not up there with you? What happened to your energy vibration? More than likely, it lowered, maybe even went to the lower vibration of the other person. It can be a challenge to sustain a higher vibration when you engage with a person or people who experience a lower vibration, especially if that’s their practice.

Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’re engaging one or more people and the conversation is predominantly, if not entirely, their complaining about something or everything. You might listen for a while, and get more and more uneasy as you feel your vibration dropping. So maybe you interject something positive, in the hope of raising the energy back up. It’s quite possible that they either look at you strangely or give you negative feedback about this because you’re not joining them readily at the lower vibration, which may annoy them. You mutually annoy each other because of the contrast of your energies.

The reality is that all of us have times when our vibration is higher or lower, depending on what’s going on and how we choose to perceive it and relate to it. And sometimes we need to reach out to others when we’re low. Depending on what we’re dealing with or coping with, it may feel challenging to even imagine a higher vibration, much less align with and feel it. But, it isn’t impossible to imagine you can reach and hold a higher vibration at some point. In fact, allow yourself to aspire to this just as soon as it feels appropriate to you to do so. It may assist you to keep what follows in mind.

Many of us have been indoctrinated with the belief that external experiences cause the good or serene feelings we desire in us, when in fact, it’s the other way around. The way we experience our external world has all to do with our internal perceptions, that is, what we tell ourselves about anything or anyone. If we have negative inner experiences, if we put our time and energy into lower vibration thoughts and feelings, we are not going to have desired experiences in our external world. We’ll have more of what we don’t want come to us, or our perceptions will run along this course, because that is where our energy, vibration, and emotions are, which means that’s what we’re giving our life force to. The non-judgmental laws of manifestation will match the vibration we give the most energy to or the inner plane we spend most of our time on. 

If you feel you’ve lost your way and that the spark has gone from your life, you’re definitely hanging around in lower vibrations and likely with people who hang out in lower vibrations, and you’re probably waiting for external experiences to ignite your inner spark again. If this is your approach, you may wait for a long time. You cannot expect to raise your vibration higher at the same time you put energy into lower-level thoughts. Something you need to keep in mind is that a belief is a thought you practice often or habitually. The more time and energy you give to a thought, the more momentum toward manifestation or continuance you build into that thought.

So what are you supposed to do to raise your vibration? First, don’t expect to zoom to the highest vibration in one fell swoop. It could happen, but it’s best if you don’t infringe that heavy expectation on yourself (or on another). An improvement is what you want to aim for. One of the surest ways I’ve found in my experience to calm my energy, thoughts, and emotions, and even-out my vibration so that it raises a bit when it’s lower is to make the statement you’ve likely heard or read often, including from me: Source, I trust and allow that you will fulfill the highest good of all involved regarding this situation.

This statement can allow you to relax, if you’ll allow this yourself, that is. When you relax, when you trust that the highest good of all involved will be done, even if you don’t understand all the dynamics, you calm your inner self, which raises your vibration from where it’s been. This begins to attract better experiences, and helps you to choose better perceptions.

Don’t hammer a negative thought. Do something else to get your mind off of it for a while. It is more important to first get into a good, higher vibration than to solve a problem or worry about it. Holding better thoughts will pull good things to you, often surprisingly quickly. The more you do this, the more you feel your spark begin to ignite back up and grow, because you will be in control of the only thing you can ever be in absolute control of: your vibration. Everything springs forth from this. The question is: Are you willing to find a way to be in control of your vibration?

Pay attention to what you feed your thoughts and emotions. Maybe take a vacation from watching the news, or if you’re going to follow the news, strengthen your metaphysical or spiritual understanding about reality. The same goes for subtle messages in commercials or any other media. If you must engage low-vibration people or information, use the remarkable tool in Dave Markowitz’s book Self-Care for the Self-Aware that recommends you imagine a keyhole at your heart chakra, or whichever chakra feels appropriate, and imagine the negativity moving into that opening and exiting out the back, so that you aren’t touched by it or absorb it as your own. If all you feed yourself or predominantly feed yourself is negativity, whether your own or that of others, you will feel you’ve lost your way or your spark, because your natural state is opposite of this; and THIS is why you feel as negative as you do: you’re going in the wrong direction. To be in or return to your natural state of fulfillment and joy, you must move in the direction of it.

Another method that will help is something I’ve recently started to practice, which was the result of an inner nudge from two sources: a novel and an attendee at an Abraham-Hicks event. In the novel, one of the characters was thought to have a more direct line to God when it came to prayers: Her prayers seemed genuinely effective or to result in miracles. Every night, she wrote, rather than said, her prayers. In the other nudge, the event attendee said he began the practice of writing thank-you notes or letters to the Universe ahead of receiving what he wished to receive, and that the results were phenomenal. I now have a notebook and pen handy to write down my own ahead-of-time thank-you notes to Source. Outcomes I’ve experienced since I began to do this are either seeing the desired results become experiences or feeling tremendous peace, calm, and trust about whatever outcome is for the highest good of myself and all involved. Use this to find your way when you feel lost and to reignite your inner life-force spark. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.      
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Four Biggest Blocks to Manifestation and Life Experience Fulfillment

There are four main or typical ways you may practice that block your fulfilling manifestation and life experience. Learn what they are and what to do about them.

BLOCK 1: The first block is not asking for what you want at the start, or if you do ask, not asking in the correct way. In life, you usually have to ask for what you want, as you would at a restaurant, which means you have to know what you truly want. You don’t say, “Bring me seafood,” you state which dish you wish to enjoy. When it comes to the metaphysical approach, many spiritual disciplines provide versions of “Ask and you will receive,” but there is more to this, as you’ve probably discovered, and which I’ll explain.

We get that we need to ask when it comes to manifestation; but what usually happens is we think about what we want or need then jump into making a plan and or take immediate action, often because others expect us to or told us this is the way to act, or to appease our ego aspect, which more commonly waits to think about manifestation when desperate, rather than grasp that we’re manifesting already, all the time. We rush around, exhaust ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally (and even spiritually), and feel frustrated about minimal results, or the absence of any results. Thinking something that needs a solution or resolution “to death” or worrying about it is NOT asking.

An old adage says, “Sharpen the ax before you go to the tree.” Ask in the right way first. Example: “I am truly thankful for all that fulfills me and is fulfilled for me. If (insert your request) is in my highest good and the highest good of all involved, I ask this to be fulfilled, and I trust that it will be. While I wait to receive results or guidance about this, I choose to feel happy and serene now, and appreciative of this now moment and what I already have and have received, rather than wait to feel happy or serene or appreciative if or when I receive this or something even better.” You can shorten this and use your own words, but I want you to get the premise.

I know that many action-driven people might disagree, at first blush, with the above paragraphs. They (and we) have been taught that strategies and systems and actions are what responsible and successful people use and do, but we’re seldom taught how vital it is that we strengthen and trust our relationships with our Infinite Self and Source above all. Yet, these relationships are what are needed as our foundation under any idea or action. They are where real inner power comes from, and where highest-good fulfillments get put into motion in our lives. Too often, much too often, we attempt to do everything on our own, without the assistance of our Infinite Self and Source. I’m not saying you aren’t to take action, I’m saying align your Inner Energy before you take action, so that your action is Source- and Life-Energy-driven (inspired), not fear-based ego-driven.

BLOCK 2: Strife. Notice that the words happy, serene, and appreciative were included in the request shared above. Strife is a big problem when it comes to manifestation and life experience because the vibration or energy of fulfillment, the vibration or energy that allows and supports fulfillment, is calm and trusting. There’s no way around this. Judging anyone, anything, and ourselves is strife. Anxiety is strife. Anger is strife. Stressing is strife. Anything not supportive or serene, anything not a positive vibration, is strife.

We often call what we do “striving to succeed” or, perhaps even, to survive; but we’re really “strifing,” which will never result in the full success or fulfillment we desire. Strife blocks requested manifestation and life experience fulfillment, and creates more of what you don’t want, because what you don’t want is what you match your vibration to, so that’s what gets matched as your experience. If your ego wants to disagree with this, just consider your typical or consistent experiences and results. You can ask and ask (or plead or demand), but as long as strife instead of calm and trust is present, the energy of strife will push away the very results, resources, or relationships you wish to have in your life.

By the way, serenity doesn’t mean you’re so mellow you can’t function; it means your actions or non-actions, your words, your thoughts, and feelings are centered and fueled via your connection with your Infinite Self and Source, instead of spiking out and poking people’s eyes out, energetically speaking, that is. This is the Catch-22 it’s so easy for all of us to find ourselves engaged in. Fulfillment is way more about, first, Being than Doing. Be the vibration then take inspired, rather than desperate, action.

BLOCK 3: The third biggest block is doubt. Make your requests to Source and approach life free of doubt and self-doubt, that is, free of any doubts about your self-worth and what you deserve. Source supplies freely. Source doesn’t supply you or anyone based on what’s deserved, but will honor (match) what you believe about this. Doubts of any kind come from the ego that’s been affected by limiting beliefs, and are contrary to the truth of Source, your Infinite Self, and how Source set up the Creative Energy to work for and with you. Doubt and Trust cannot occupy the same space at the same time; and the one you FEEL more profoundly, is the one that gets matched.

Some manifestations are instant because everything is set up and ready to go, as soon as you ask and allow it, that is, have no resistance thoughts blocking it coming to you. Other requested manifestations are not in your highest good, or perhaps not in the highest good of all involved, so never happen, or if they happen, they don’t work out but are an opportunity for you to learn something. And some requests require a bit of time because more than just you is involved. While you wait, occupy yourself and your mind with positive and productive thoughts and inspired actions, and remain in a state of calm and trust. Do what you need to, to maintain serenity, happiness, and especially appreciation, each of which is a positive attracting or magnetic energy for what you ask for or something better. Do this despite what appearances are. Remind yourself of how you felt when something or something even better manifested for you before.

The more strife and doubt you stop practicing the more serene you’ll be. Obvious, but we miss it more often than we see it. To do this requires dedication to develop your strife-free, doubt-free inner power, and to practice this daily, so that you shift further and further away from ego’s insecurities that cause you to engage strife and doubt. If life or particular life areas don’t seem to be working out for you, it’s likely you’re allowing strife and doubt to clutch you in their grasp instead of you holding serenity and trust at your core. And maybe you’re practicing Block 4.

BLOCK 4: This one relates to the Jump program in the first “Matrix” movie, when Neo watches Morpheus leap the distance between two buildings, to demonstrate what’s possible. Morpheus tells Neo what’s needed to accomplish this: Free your mind. This is our hurdle, as well, when it comes to manifestation AND living in flow from the inside-out. We have to cross the hurdle of subconscious beliefs so entrenched in us that we don’t even realize how consistently we practice them.

This is why affirmations, made through the conscious mind, can have something of a “Fake it till you make it” thwart-factor for us. They don’t work or work as expected, because we can’t fake out our subconscious beliefs, which are the beliefs that drive our “bus”. Affirmations do work when we disassociate from a subconscious belief (I can’t leap like Morpheus) and embrace possibilities (He’s shown me what’s possible, what I’m capable of. If it’s in my highest good, I now allow it or something better to be so.). The leap can’t happen in our experience until it first happens in our mind.

This means we have to pay attention to our consistent thoughts. More specifically, to the QUALITY of ALL of our thoughts, so we get a sense of whether our subconscious is operating as a glass half empty or half full kind of belief system, whether that’s about abundance or lack, or acceptance or judgment, in all the various forms each appear as in our life. We have to observe how we think, that is, how we choose our thoughts deliberately or how we let them run amok. This all boils down to one important question: How much appreciation do you feel and choose to feel during the course of each day? Or, are the majority of your thoughts on a negative loop so familiar to you that you don’t even realize the tape is playing about any- and everything? This is major in its significance, and merits attention.

From Abraham-Hicks: You're always getting a perfect vibrational match to what you predominantly give your attention to. But you've got to make the best of it. You've got to vibrate slightly different from where you are if you are going to improve where you are. You can't keep taking score of where your business is or your relationship is or your body is without continuing to create it as it is. To make improvement, you've got to reach for a different thought.

Begin to practice looking at your blocked life areas to reveal whatever strife or doubt you may be engaging in. Ask for what you want, in the right way. Explore the thoughts that arise from your subconscious mind, or the tape loop that’s playing. It is your choice to either wear yourself out while you try to do everything yourself, and attempt this from a negative subconscious belief set, or to take the leap of belief and follow your path with Source as your companion, a path that leads to more effortless manifestation for your good and the highest good of all involved, as well as greater serenity, fulfillment, and joy. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate. 
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Friday, December 6, 2013

Do You Have A Vision for Your Life?

Having no vision for your life is like being in a rowboat without oars: you go where the water takes you, or doesn’t. If coming up with a vision frustrates or confuses you in any way or makes you anxious, this may help.

Hermann Hesse wrote: “Most people are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them; they have within themselves their guide and path.” We get the importance of his statement, and he’s right that each of us has our guide and path within us; but if you feel you’re drifting along in life without a vision and feel unsure what to do about this, his statement might cause you to judge yourself. I want to help you shift this. And about having one defined path, what if that’s not about doing but is about being, say, joyful, instead? Does that shift your energy about this even a little?

Wallace Wattles said: “You must form a clear and definite mental picture of what you want; you cannot transmit an idea unless you have it yourself.” Wattles is right as well; however, the thought of getting to this clear mental picture is intimidating for a number of people. They concern themselves with questions like: What if they pick the wrong vision? What if by picking a vision, they limit themselves? What if their vision is too large or too small? What will others think about their vision, or how might they judge it?

The first thing I ask you to do is allow that if the thought of coming up with a vision for your life makes you uncomfortable in any way, we want to shift how you think about this so you can feel better about it, because it is likely your beliefs about this that hold you back. For instance, rather than think about your Vision For All Time, think about the vision of your life for the next year, or the next six months, or next month, or next week instead, to get into practice. This takes the pressure off of having to come up with The Grand Vision. And that’s another thing you want to let go of: what anyone else will think about your vision; that your vision has to impress others or have their approval or it won’t be worthwhile—not that you have to tell anyone. In fact, practice self-restraint for as long as needed or desired about this: keep your vision silent and sacred.

One thing that may affect your ability to come up with a vision, whatever time-period you now want it to cover, is believing it has to be practical (so you can appease others or your ego-aspect). Practical isn’t necessarily magical. I recall going to a car dealership years back. I didn’t like anything about that experience. When the saleswoman came back from having “the talk” with her manager about what kind of “deal” they could make for me, I told her no. She asked what kind of deal I was looking for, and I told the uncensored truth: “I want an attractive car with all the bells and whistles, and I don’t want to pay a penny for it.” And I meant it. She was, of course, shocked and told me that was unrealistic. I was completely serene and even joyful as I smiled and said goodbye and left. Within several months, I was driving a sporty Lexus with all the bells and whistles, and doing so without a penny ever coming out of pocket. I share this example so you can see that sometimes being practical can stand in your way. The Universe has an interesting way of filling our orders once we know and state what we want—fearlessly—at least to ourselves, then get out of the way. 

Another thing that blocks creating a vision for your life is attempting to do this from a feeling of desperately needing to change or fix your life. Desperation is not the energy you want flowing through you when you consider your vision. For one thing, you aren’t thinking clearly when you feel desperate for change. Your energy is focused in the opposite direction at such a time, like on lack, frustration, fear, and so on. Before you sit down to work with your vision, you want to take some deep breaths to relax your body and mind. You want to connect with the infinite love of Source, to relax your emotions and stimulate your spiritual connection to the abundance and flow that Source has made available for you to receive, as soon as you allow yourself to do so. When feeling desperate, you block alignment of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy with your vision.

Joseph Campbell said: “We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.” Yes! You see, one thing that blocks people from crafting a vision, among the other blocks I’ve already mentioned, is they get so focused on Doing that they forget to focus on Being first.

I know it’s recommended that you get specific when you craft a vision, but this may be so intimidating that you just abandon the idea of crafting one. Note: A vision for your life is NOT meant to be the same as a goals list and the steps to reach goals. So, try this: Write generalized specifics. What I mean is, for example, instead of coming up with a fixed number of the amount of money you want to receive each month, state that you want money to come to you from Source’s infinite resources in the amount that is three times (or more) than what your actual monthly expenses currently are—or whatever feels realistic and possible at this time. Don’t impinge on your alignment with an amount your subconscious doesn’t believe is even in the realm of possibility. Head and heart alignment is important here. As you move forward, you can always increase this. And, instead of stating the work you do in your vision, state that you do work that you love and enjoy and find fulfilling, if work is part of your vision. This suggestion to be generalized-specific is to help you get into practice of allowing yourself to have a vision for your life. When you get comfortable with this process, and what I explain from here on, then you might want to craft a vision that is more specific, or, instead, also craft a goals list.

Do a rough draft of your vision, so you get started. Consider it an exercise only, so you ease up on yourself about this. Let this draft be more like play. Hand-write your draft, and write it as though it’s happening now. Let how you want to feel about your life assist you with this draft. Remember, let go of being practical, of impressing anyone or needing anyone’s approval. Allow yourself the right to adjust anything in your vision that you feel the need or desire to adjust. This is for you and only you. It’s like a garment you create for yourself: you must tailor it to fit you; you must love the color, texture, and feel of it. You must feel terrific when you put it on. It must feel exciting and empowering to wear it.

When you play with your draft vision, if you feel the need to be practical, go ahead and write out a practical one. Then, allow yourself to write one where practical isn’t a factor. Again: Practical isn’t necessarily magical. So if it will help you, create one draft titled My Practical Vision and another titled My Magical Vision, and cut loose with this one. What time do you want to wake in the morning, or what kind of schedule flexibility is desired? What do you want your day and what you do with it to feel like? How do you want to feel about your day and life when you go to sleep at night? How do you want to feel about your financial matters, secure or serene? And so on, with anything you want to add.

Remember: Write both versions in present tense, as though each vision aspect is already happening. Then read each vision in turn. After you read the practical version, add a paragraph about how it makes you feel when you read it and how it affects your energy; do the same after you read the magical version. Which one excites you? Which one feels like your right fit? Keep in mind that a magical vision will have practical aspects appear to support it. So don’t be afraid of writing down what you really want.

Once you decide on a draft vision, read your vision aloud to yourself every morning and evening for the first seven days. Each following week, spend fifteen or so minutes once a week to read your vision and feel it, believe it, trust it, and adjust it in whatever way feels right to you, because you are always changing and growing. Allow your vision to change and grow as well. Each time you make major adjustments to your vision, repeat the seven-day morning and night read-aloud process so you really get your vision into your energy field and mindset.

Release the HOW. That’s up to the Universe (like my car example), but pay attention to inspirations that lead you to actions then follow through. You can also use your vision to verify that any ideas or opportunities that show up in your mind or life as actions to take actually match your vision, so your ego-aspect doesn’t lead you astray, which it often does, as it tends to operate from desperation and fear. It’s better to be still and wait for an inspiration you know is aligned with you and your vision than to rush into action that uses your time, energy, and other resources in spinning-your-wheels activities. Never confuse activity with productivity. Inspired action is what you want to follow, and these generally come to you when you’re being quiet or still or doing something unrelated.

How do you want to feel about your vision? What feelings, thoughts, and self-talk do you need to support your vision? What would your vision need to include for you to feel joyful, enthused, fulfilled, excited, confident, comfortable being you, and—whole? Keep in mind that this is for the time-period you’ve decided it’s for, whether it’s for the rest of your life, the next year, month, or week. Take some time to craft your vision as described here. Then read it and ask yourself how much of your vision you are doing or living now and perhaps don’t realize it. This may, or may not, surprise you.

Don’t rush crafting your vision. It’s important enough to take the time you need, but don’t put it off either or try to write the “perfect” draft the first time. It may take a few or several tries for you to feel comfortable enough to allow yourself to write a more magical vision. And keep in mind that you want to allow the flexibility to adjust your vision as you realize more of what you really want and want to feel and allow yourself to include these in your vision.

Once your draft vision is written and it feels right, don’t try to rush it or force it into your experience. Watch for signs of it taking form in your life. Watch for inspired ideas. Allow yourself to love and accept and approve of you so you allow yourself to receive your vision as your experience. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.        

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

Monday, December 2, 2013

Use This Immediate Stress Buster

This one action shifts stress, energy, and yes, often even outcomes, in an instant. Yet, when you feel life is heaping one frustration on you after another, it seems like the last thing you'd ever do.

This particular stress-busting action happened the first time for me years back, and happened spontaneously, without having read or heard anyone say it was an effective technique to use, not that I would have believed them. Now, it's recognized as such; but it's also an easy one to forget or dismiss. The first time I did it, it simply FELT like the ONLY thing to do at that moment, like the only thing that made any sense at a moment in time that ceased to make sense to me.

I was having one of those days when, thankfully it wasn’t emergencies stacking up, but neither was it your basic annoyances. These were the mid-range issues that knock you on your backside and require attention and action. And when I say they were stacking up, I mean just that. It seemed that for the first few hours of that morning, one thing after another kept coming at me. In a number of ways, it seemed that a portion of my life was crumbling before my eyes, and I felt like I didn’t know what to do, because I was in overwhelm-mode. It was the classic multiple fires and only one bucket of water experience.

Then something surprising happened. I suddenly saw all of it as a wave of the ridiculous crashing onto the shore of my life experience all at once AND that though it was happening, I saw the utter absurdity of it all, and of my reaction—and I started laughing, from my toes up. It was laughter that came from my completely letting go of trying to control and even judge any of it. It was laughter from just letting it all be whatever it was or was going to be. And because of this shift in me and my energy—which genuinely-felt laughter accomplishes, everything, and I mean all of it that was happening right then—began to shift—because I had.

I found two brilliant representations I’d like to include here, in the Harry Potter book, The Prisoner of Azkaban. That title is a fitting parallel, as stress and frustration are emotional, energetic prisons we sometimes find ourselves in. If you aren't a Potter fan, Azkaban is a prison where the guards—appropriately called Dementors—because, don’t we feel somewhat demented when we’re that wound up and life feels that out of control in a particular moment. Dementors suck the joy, and sometimes the soul, out of those imprisoned or those they go after, until those they go after are left to be nothing more than empty physical shells, which is what stress does to us, especially stress we don’t deal with or don’t deal with productively.

The first charm: In this particular book, Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, instructs the class on how to handle a boggart. Boggarts like dark, enclosed spaces; they are shape-shifters and can or will take the shape of whatever they think or know will frighten people most. "The charm that repels a boggart is simple, yet it requires force of mind. You see, the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter. . . . We will practice the charm without wands first. After me, please . . . riddikulus!" It takes the shape of whatever frightens us most. Our fears do shape-shift. Think of a particular fear you "entertain" often or consistently. How many ways has and does it show up in your life? It's the same boggart in different costumes.

The other charm that particularly fits laughter as a stress buster is the Patronis Charm, where you think of a really good moment in your life and hold the feeling of it. This creates an energy field that is cast at one or more Dementors (fears), which disperses them. They can’t stand or act against it. When I feel the need to bust some negativity, I like to think of a time when I laughed until I cried, or a moment of true affirmation that Source has my back, and let that feeling fill me. You see, when something happens, the first thing we feel it’s natural to do is resist and struggle, which makes us feel worse. More on this in a moment.

A friend had posted this statement on Facebook: "One day, I'm going to laugh about this." She didn't say what "this" was, but I responded that I hoped that, if and when she felt able to, she'd laugh even sooner; that when life sometimes reaches what I call the "absurdity of it all," I sometimes find it makes me laugh—a hearty, spontaneous laugh, not a forced one. My dictionary defines absurd as "so clearly untrue or unreasonable as to be laughable or ridiculous." When a lot of stuff piles up on us as it did on me that day, I consider that clearly unreasonable—and absurd. And what’s really absurd is what is revealed to me when I look at my point of attraction, especially negative points of attraction I may have been consistently and unknowingly practicing.

When stressed, the best thing you can do is put whatever the stressor is down for a while, especially if you watch or listen to something that makes you laugh or helps you to relax. Going back to Harry Potter, but this time The Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione remembers the way to be released from the tentacles of the Devil’s Snare plant is to relax. The more you struggle against it, the tighter the tentacles wrap around you, until the plant kills you.

It seems counterintuitive to relax or let go of struggle when some issue or chaos becomes our experience, but it is the best first step. Think about the advice for getting out of a skid: you have to relax (your mind, as much as you can) and put your focus on where you want to go, not on where it seems the vehicle is heading. You make it worse if you focus on where the car is heading; in fact, you more than likely will make whatever you fear happen. If you shift your focus to where you want to go instead, the spin will eventually release you.

Most of our fears, which cause stress, are boggarts that linger in the dark spaces of our subconscious and conscious minds. Sometimes we "feed" them so well with emotionally-charged thoughts that they pop out of the proverbial cupboard and show up as events in our lives. Sometimes more than one boggart taunts us at the same time, as imagined or actual events, and we feel overwhelmed. Isn't it interesting how often what we think or worry about shows up? It's as though we include them as questions on a test—the questions we fear we won't know or be able to figure out the answers to.

E-mail pages and social sites have a box that lets you post what you're doing and ask the question: What are you doing right now? We might also read this as, "What are you doing RIGHT, now?" It's too easy to dwell on what we feel is not working or what we feel we're not doing right and forget to acknowledge and appreciate what we ARE doing right, what IS working right and then let this guide us into better inner and outer experiences.

We know stress is harmful to us in numerous ways: health, decision-making, joyfulness, and more. It depletes one, more, or all of our resources, as does struggle. Positive thinking (the kind aligned with what-is), Law of Attraction, and other techniques are familiar to so many of us these days; yet, we still slip into the practiced, familiar pattern of engaging and feeding our fears and going into struggle. Don't judge yourself when you do this. The most important thing is to recognize when you do it and then use a method you've used before that helped you then—or, if appropriate, find a way to laugh—not a chuckle, but a belly laugh, or find any way that will help you relax, like take a walk or put on a favorite peppy song and dance for those few minutes.

Laughter relaxes energy and literally does shift outcomes. Please be realistic about the outcome part: what is going on does shift more often than not, but this has all to do with you allowing yourself to release struggle, to let go of judging what’s going on and or resisting it. Feeling crazed isn't going to make things better, it’ll make everything worse. Releasing stress invites possibilities waiting to arrive because stress (the result of judgment) acts like glue that keeps something stuck in our lives, even if the only thing we can shift about an experience is our perception of it. If you find your "shoes" (fearful thinking) stuck in a puddle of judgment "glue," you can choose to leave your shoes where they are, at least until you can do something about them. Or, leave those judgment shoes there and get a pair of dancing shoes.

Later in The Prisoner of Azkaban, Lupin discovers that what he believed Harry's greatest fear (Voldemort) was, wasn't it at all: it was fear. That's true for us, as well. Some of what we fear happens, but most of it doesn't. We abhor the idea of feeling fearful; and yet, we feed it. We’re as afraid of that feeling as we are what we fear. It's a learned behavior. What fear are you feeding right now?

It isn't that you must eliminate fear or feeling fearful from your life. It's not realistic to do so or to put that kind of pressure on you, or even a good idea—because even a fear can teach you something (like how to move yourself through and beyond it); and thinking it is a good idea or your obligation to eliminate fear completely will cause you endless frustration. But, you can pay attention differently. Use one or more methods that help you notice and shift when you're feeding a fear. "A real problem can be solved. An imaginary one cannot."

If and when it feels right for you, find a way to laugh, especially at the appropriate, truly absurd moments. It really is often the best medicine for what ails you. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.         

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer