Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Are you telling your stories (and living your life) as an Opus or a Finale?

I live a day at a time. Each day I look for a kernel of excitement. In the morning I say: "What is my exciting thing for today?" Then, I do the day. Don't ask me about tomorrow.  Barbara Jordan
If you’re like me, you will be aware of what I call the Technology of the Universe or what others may call the Law of Attraction or the Law of Creation.  

Strictly speaking, there is a difference between a *law* and a *technology*.  The first relates to principles and propositions such as ‘If...then” or “Thoughts become Things’ (see Mike Dooley).

Technology, on the other hand, is the tools, equipment and skills that are used in the observance (or ignorance) of laws.  

So, with respect to the Law of Attraction or Creation, you might say that Thoughts, Feelings, Intentions, Desires, Dreams, Focus, Attention and Allowing are the tools and skills that we use, consciously or unconsciously to intentionally or unintentionally observe or ignore the Laws of Attraction or Creation.

You could also say that our apparently discrete or isolated thoughts, feelings, intentions, desires and dreams can be brought into focus or at least to our attention by capturing them in narratives called stories.  

We are all story tellers and we are always telling stories.  Even when we utter a single statement such as

The cat fell off the balcony.

we have told a story.

There is almost no limit to what can be unraveled from such a seemingly simple statement. We only need to consider what questions this statement might spawn to get an idea of what depth and width underlies and surrounds it.

For instance we may ask:

What kind of cat was it?
Why did it fall?
Was it blind or had it lost its balance?  
Was it sick or weak?
How old was it?
Who did it belong to?
How high was the balcony?
Did it hurt itself?
Did anyone see/help it?
Was it a stray?
How long had it been there?
Where is it now?
Who’s looking after it?
What was it called?
Was it taken to a vet?  
Which vet?  
Has this vet been practising long?
Is s/she expensive?
What’s his/her clinic like?
What was s/he like>
Is s/he married?
Was the cat pushed?
Where did it happen?  At home?  At a shop?  A restaurant?
What was a cat doing at a restaurant?
Have the customers ever complained?
Which restaurant was that?  
Could I take my dog there?

You get my point (I hope :)).  

A single and simple statement is a concentration of possibilities and infinite threads that could unravel any number of stories depending on which thread you pick up and how you choose to interrogate it.

So it is with the stories that we tell about ourselves.  I am talking about all the stories that are condensed in the one or two-liners that we routinely, and often mindlessly, say in reference to ourselves.  Things such as:

I don’t do meat.
My life’s a mess.
I hate people/things like that.
I wish I didn’t have to do this.
I don’t always mean what I say.
I’m a skeptic.
I have better things to do with my time.
I hate dishonesty/greed/judgmental people/bureaucracy...
I’m a visual person.
I’m a left-brain person.
I must have my morning coffee or I can’t function properly.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if these one-liners were the opuses to yet undiscovered and unexplored narratives, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and sumptuously unpredictable?  

Wouldn’t it be absolutely spell-binding for you to pick up and follow a thread to some thrilling and enchanting provisional destination?  One that will serve as the pick-up point for your next life adventure?

Wouldn’t it be gloriously bewitching to develop a narrative about yourself that even you couldn’t predict by simply allowing new thoughts, new feelings, new imaginings, new desires?  Or giving voice to the old thoughts, feelings and desires that you had ignored or suppressed?

But do you?

Sadly, most people use these one-liners not as opuses but as concluding statements or finales about themselves which they proceed to explain and if necessary, defend.  

It is so uncreative.  So old.  So tired and tiring.  So dead.  So foregone in its conclusions.

Not only do they bore most people with it - people who only listen (or should I say, remain quiet) as they wait their turn to utter their own self- concluding and self-defining finales with their equally boring explanations and tiresome defenses - even more tragically, they bore themselves.  

Effectively, they’ve declared how they’ve chosen to live their lives and how they continue to choose to live their lives.  They give themselves little or no room for change, for exploration, for discovery, for adventure, for thrills, wonders and delights.

Wouldn’t you prefer to speak and live with Opuses rather than Finales?  

Wouldn’t you prefer to open doors of possibilities rather than stay behind the ones you've shut?  Wouldn’t you prefer to imagine how your life could be rather than merely report on how it has been?  Wouldn’t you prefer to contemplate new experiences rather than rehash the ones you’ve had?  

But you’re not going to do that by repeating finales to yourself and others.  Nope.  You’ll only do that by exploring new threads, going through new doors that open into the field of infinite possibilities and making different choices with the tools and skills of the Technology of Creation.  

In short, you’ll have to learn to tell your story every time as an Opus, and occasionally a Magnum Opus, one that virtually hurls you into fresh possibilities!

There’s nothing wrong with remembering and celebrating the past, but seriously, how often do you recount something with a celebratory spirit?

There’s nothing wrong with making choices about how we live either.  We must and we do, whether we like it or not.  But we can allow ourselves to walk into the infinite field of new choices instead of simply relying on the same old choices.  

So, what stories are you about to tell yourself right now?  What will you tell others?  Don’t be afraid to reach far and deep into the imagination, into the collective consciousness where every possibility waits to be given life.  

Don’t be afraid to be inspired by the spectacular stories of others - those whose lives have given us glimpses into the seemingly impossible.  Don’t be afraid to make every story you tell yourself and others a true Opus of breathtaking possibilities!

Here are some ways of beginning and living Opus-like stories:

I wonder what new thing I shall enjoy at work today
This is something I would like to try
What an opportunity this is!
This is surely the start of something exciting
I intend having a wondrously exciting and fulfilling day today
What can I do that might bring a smile to his/her face?
What would happen if I did this instead of that?
How can I cook this differently?
I am so excited about this.

Go on.  Thrill yourself!  Change your stories.  Ditch those tired and tiresome one-liners for some self-inspiring Opiuses!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Are you an Event Junkie or a Life Adventurer?

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.       Stephen Vincent BenĂ©t

Psst.. hey, mind if I interrupt you for just a moment?  One moment, that’s all.  I promise.

Who am I? 

I’m the Present Moment.  Actually, I’m the Next Moment.  Actually, I’m both. 

Look, I’m sorry, I know this may seem a bit confusing (not to mention unusual…Try bizarre, you say?  Well, yes, that too).  But seriously, could I have a moment of your time?  A moment.  Literally.

Thank you.  Thanks so much.  I really appreciate it.  It really is going to make a world of difference.  To me.  I mean to you.  Actually, I mean to us, because we’ve the same person, thing…you know?

Anyway, I just want to ask you something.  Actually, I want to discuss something with you.  

As you know, lately we’ve been self-observing, watching ourselves, you know?  

Actually, we’ve been watching Ourself.  Yeah, I know, it’s a new word but that’s the best one I have to talk about us without the *you* and *me* separation.  

Anyway, as a result of our *Ourself* observation, we’ve come to notice that we’ve been living our life rather strangely.  

I mean, I realize it’s kinda strange because, well, instead of living it moment to moment, we’ve been living it from event to event, whether that event is a day, a crisis, a problem, a relationship, a paycheck, a project, whatever it is that you allow yourself to be preoccupied with… know what I mean?

The fact is, you become what you give your attention to and you become defined by it.  You allow yourself to be defined by it. 

So, you know, if you live your life from one relationship to the next, that’s pretty much what you become – a relationship-er. 

And if you live your life from one paycheck to the next, you become a paycheck-er.

And if you live your life from one problem to the next, you become a problem-er.

Actually, to be frank, I’d call you an Event (Relationship/Paycheck/Problem) Junkie.  And just so you know, my definition of a junkie:  Someone who

Joylessly Uncovers Nothing (K)new, Intentional or Exciting

The thing is, it’s like you keep jumping (or dragging yourself) from one thing to more of the same and you’re never really getting off that mindless monkey ride.  All the rest of your life (which is infinite and eternal) just hangs off the events that you’ve become a junkie of.

But when you, I mean we, live our life from one moment to the next, like we’re doing now, well, we get to know and discover more of Ourself rather than project what we have accepted as our *self* and simply carry it, largely unchanged and undiscovered, from one point to another similar point.  

We never get off this unchanging, predictable, joyless ride.

I mean, if you’ve already defined who you are, well, there’s nothing left to discover, is there?  There’s just more *stuff* to do and acquire and we both know how painfully soul crippling that is.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s game over.  Know what I mean?

But, look at what’s happening right now.  I mean, we’re discovering more of who we are.  And do you know what I find most exciting about it???

There’s no limit to who I am!  And, oh my god, this is even more exciting – all of me is right here and no matter which direction I head, there’ll always be more of me to discover and explore!  Now THAT is head-spinning stuff.

Look, we’d never be having this conversation if you hadn’t given me a moment.  I mean, literally given Ourself this moment, allowed Ourself to be right here, right now and experience this so fully.  

Living moment by moment is just so amazingly good!  So good that I’m tripping over myself trying to pull back enough from the current of the moment to tell you why it’s so good :).  

So, before I drive myself mental by trying to slow down the flow, why don’t I just give you a list of why it’s so mind-bendingly good to live moment by moment.  

You ready?  Here goes:

Each moment is infinite and eternal.  On the other hand, no project, problem, relationship or paycheck is.

Each moment is whole, complete and perfect. On the other hand…:)

Because each moment is whole, complete and perfect, it compares no differently with any other moment.  

Because each moment is whole, complete and perfect, it cannot but reflect the wholeness, completeness and perfection of You.

In each moment is to be found the INFINITE YOU – abundant with potential and possibility – simply waiting to be discovered, explored, played with – not something or someone that’s been socially, culturally, geographically, historically constructed but a you that is infinitely more! 

What are you going to get excited about next?  What about something that arises from within you and that’s always available to you rather than something that you need to buy, acquire or possess?
I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.      Tagore
To live from moment to moment is to live naturally, consciously, curiously, creatively and limitlessly in Infinity and Eternity.  On the other hand, to live from event to event i.e. relationship, problem or paycheck to relationship, problem or paycheck is to live in an unnatural, limited, predictable and mostly unconscious way.  You are infinitely more than anything that attempts to define you!  

Living from each moment is living from that deep core of wisdom and intuition, that core that is unperturbed by the vagaries and vicissitudes of limited, conditioned existence.  

Living from each moment is surrendering willingly, thrillingly and completely to the infinite, delicious, enchanting and seductive possibilities of who you are.  How could you possibly want anything less???

Living from each moment is living in the immense and infinite POWER of LOVE, nothing less.  It is the power of the universe.  And just in case you’re wondering, the Power of Love is never destructive but always creative.


  • Get quiet.  Use your breath or a beautiful image or gentle sound to bring your mind to a single focus.
  • When quiet, seed your mind with this intention in action: I am returning to my Infinite Self and I am living each moment from my Infinite nature
  • Be guided by your feelings.  Move in the direction of the good feelings without deciding beforehand what it is you will do.


This is too open-ended.  I have commitments, things I must get done, places I must go.  How can I do these if I simply wait to be guided by my good feelings?

Firstly, understand that *waiting* is not what you’re being asked to do.  Rather, you’re being asked to ATTEND. 

*Waiting* is putting life on hold while you yearn for something else.  That’s not something that we ever want to do.  

ATTENDING, on the other hand, puts you in touch with life, with your Infinite Self, where untapped possibilities and potentials are ready for you to summon!

Secondly, it’s true that you have commitments and schedules.  The questions you need to ask yourself are: 

Which of these do I wish my life to be circumscribed by?  
Which of these do I wish to be defined by? 

Really use these questions as doorways to freedom.  But you can only do this if you’re prepared to be truly open to the answers you get which will present themselves most strongly as your FEELINGS.  

This is not to say that the answers won’t come as thoughts or images or voices.  But, in whatever form they come, it is your feelings that will tell you which ones to move in the direction of and how – always the good feelings.

When you do this, you’ll find that there are only one or two things that you will wish to keep as PLACE HOLDERS for your interactions with the conditioned world.  Things, for instance, that you do for your health and wellbeing and that of the people and things that are in your care.  

Aside from these (actually, underlying these), however, is the vastness of your Self that calls you to attend to it, to live from it, to express it – this Self that is all the wisdom and freedom and joy and power that you seek in order to live the life that you truly desire.

Thirdly, understand that you have a choice:

To live from one event to the next as a Junkie (Someone who Joylessly Uncovers Nothing K(new), Intentional or Exciting) 


To live from each moment as the fullness and limitlessness that you truly are.

The first keeps you in a cycle of repetitive thoughts, words, behaviors and experiences.  In short, conditioned existence.  An existence that keeps you vacillating between suffering (in all forms and degrees, from restlessness, fear, anxiety, insecurity, frustration and doubt to boredom, judgment, dis-ease and dissatisfaction) and relief.  

The second takes you on an endless adventure of SELF-DISCOVERY in which each moment, each person, each thing you encounter is a fulfilling experience.  

Why is it fulfilling?  Because it reconnects you with more and more of who and what you truly are!


Start small.  Start easy. 

Set aside some time each day to reconnect with your INFINITE SELF by living in the moment.  

Start with 5 minutes each day.  Choose a time that you feel will be the easiest for you.  It might be at the start of the day or the last thing before you fall asleep.  Or it might be before you have your lunch or after your daily exercise.

As you begin to feel the difference within you, in your thoughts and the words you find yourself choosing to use (rather than ones that simply slip off your tongue automatically), you will be inclined to give more time to this practice of reconnecting.

Soon, you will want to increase the amount of time you spend reconnecting or increase its frequency by doing it several times a day.

Eventually, this will become your dominant way of life, a state of being that you will easily take into the *events* that have thus far circumscribed and defined it. 

In effect, the axis of your life will no longer be the rigid set of things that you do and thoughts that you think but the forever creative and expanding awareness of what you truly are – INFINITE, LIMITLESS, POWERFUL, JOYFUL AND FREE!

It's the difference between being an Event Junkie and a Life Adventurer!

Monday, May 2, 2011

3 Uncommon Tips for Writing with Impact

 There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein     Walter Wellesley 'Red' Smith
You may have got the impression by now that I’m a compulsive writer.  I simply have to write.  But, better yet, I want to write.  In fact, there is hardly a day that goes by when I don’t write something, whether I publish it or not. 

Perhaps you’re that kind of person too.  So, why do people like us need help with writing? 

For me, the answer is that when I decide to write something that I wish to publish, like my blog posts for instance, I want to make sure they have the greatest impact on my readers.

We all have thoughts and experiences worth sharing.  Someone reading them may be inspired by our insight or be comforted and reassured by the fact that they are not the only ones having a particular kind of experience or *problem*. 

Their hearts may also be lightened by the humor – gentle or loud – that we deliver.  And they may be encouraged by the enthusiasm and encouragement we underscore our writing with.

I’ve written hundreds of blog posts as well as a significant number of ebooks, essays, poems, research articles, copywriting scripts, emails and newsletters.  You probably have too.

I’m not always entirely satisfied with my writing.  Sometimes, the process feels more strained and effortful.  Other times, it feels as if the sentences and ideas just float or leap from (or through) my mind onto the screen in front of me :).

Sometimes, I consciously follow a ‘Check List’ of what to write and how to write.  At other times, I seem to draw on a subconscious set of Guidelines.

I’ve been observing and studying some of these differences in my writing to see what I can glean from them.  The following are some of the things that I’ve learned:


That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write when you’re feeling *blah* like good ol’ Charlie Brown often seems to feel. 

But notice how much more enlivened and interesting the scene gets when Crab Meister Lucy comes along or when we see Linus in cosmic philosophical flight or Schroeder unflinchingly absorbed in Chopin much to the chagrin of Lucy!

That’s how you want readers to feel when they read what you have to write.  And you’re more likely to write for that effect when you’re feeling a strong and full-bodied sense of Passion, Play and Purpose!

By all means write regardless of how you’re feeling but when it comes to publishing, re-write your ideas using the full energy of Passion, Play and Purpose!  Don't ever be halfhearted with your writing.


The first and last words that you write are the first and last words your readers will read. 

The technical jargon for them is *Primacy* and *Recency* because they are the  first and last (most recent) words or ideas your readers encounter in your writing. 

They are also the ones that are most easily remembered.  So make them impactful. 

One great way that works for me is to ask myself:

How do I want my readers to feel when they read this? 
How do I want to feel when I read this?

There are many ways in which you can create impact at the start.  Here are a few:

By evoking curiosity and/or empathy 
Eg  You’ve probably done something like this and been thoroughly embarrassed by it as I have.

By being controversial
Eg  Psychologists have a tendency to confuse and try to impress with unnecessary jargon.

By expressing indignation
Eg  It’s easy for some people to say that money doesn’t buy happiness.

By asking a question
Eg  Have you ever thought about changing your name?

By asking a rhetorical question
Eg  Do you really need to be reminded that you’re the only one who controls your happiness?

By using self-disclosure
Eg I fell in love last night and am regretting it today.

By using contrast
Eg  Just because you’ve learned to fish, it doesn’t mean you should forgo the option of buying fish!  

Now, I hope you realize that these impactful starters need to be supported by engaging your readers with relevant content including content that explains, where necessary, your opening statement.  

I’ve found that keeping your writing SIMPLE, SINCERE AND SUBSTANTIVE is important.  I’ve also found that a sprinkling of humor or levity helps. 


Here are some of my favorite questions:

What is something that I would simply love to be told right now?

What is something that I could be told that would give me hope/strength/faith/courage/freedom/peace/confidence/laughter etc?

What is the opposite of a particular idea or point that I’ve raised?

What would XYZ (someone you truly admire or conversely, disagree with) have to say about this? 

What are 3 things I can learn from my favorite writer/entrepreneur/spiritual teacher/chef/artist (choose the one that is relevant to your subject)

What are some of the interesting things that I’ve observed or heard in recent days and how do they appear when I pass them through the filter of my writing topic?

As you can see, these are just a smattering of ideas and techniques for impactful writing.  I’m offering them as additional tips to what I assume is your already substantial body of writing techniques and guidelines.

Do let me know if you find any of this useful.  And do share some of your own tips and tricks :)

In the meantime, keep writing like your happiness depended on it!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easy Swaps for Instant and Lasting Benefits!

The trick with breaking an unhelpful habit is to replace it with something preferable.  Here are some of my favorite swaps :). 


Swap this for the tranquility of acceptance that everything, without exception, has its place on the Ground of Infinite possibilities.  

If you don’t feel good about something, focus on the feeling that you have rather than the person or thing that seems to evoke the feeling.  

Then, choose a feeling you would prefer to have and allow that feeling to guide you to thoughts and actions that you desire!

Remember, it’s much more empowering to act from a good feeling within rather than insist that something outside changes first before you allow yourself to feel good :)


Swap this for the delirious realization that you are part of the play of Life.  On some level, at some point, you chose to be part of this play.  So play! 

Decisions and choices are experimental tools and processes!  If they don’t bring you the outcome you desire, modify them, change them or abandon them altogether.  

But don’t doubt your ability to make decisions or choices.  And don’t be crippled by false and absolute beliefs in *right* and *wrong*.  

Think instead in terms of usefulness with respect to a particular goal and most of all, consider how good it feels :).  The better the feeling, the surer you can be!


Swap this for slow, deep breaths and gentle movement. 

One breath at a time.  You are breathing anyway, so why not just use what is already happening to give you a break from the stress that has built up in your mind and body?

The health benefits are instantaneous countering the build up of cortisol, that stress hormone that can result in things like high blood pressure, reduced immunity and abdominal fat.  (Low levels of cortisol, however, help us by enabling us to react quickly in emergencies and reducing our sensitivity to pain).

One of the best and easiest movements you can do is to bend forward from the base of your spine very slowly and gently and then relax into a rag doll.  

Just let your arms fall loosely by your sides, let your head suspend loosely from your neck and breathe gently.  If you need to bend your knees, do.

Then, slowly unfold yourself into an upright position.  You can do this anywhere and anytime.  If you’re out in public and feel self-conscious, you can always pretend you’re searching for a lost coin :).


Swap these for wild, exciting and sexy imaginings!  Come on, as a child you had no trouble using your imagination.  

Perhaps you’re a little out of practice but wouldn’t you rather be flooding your mind (and your body with all those corresponding feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin) with fun and exciting thoughts and feelings?  Of course you would!  So do!

Best part – you don’t have to act on them if you don’t want to.  But whether you do or don’t, you can still enjoy the instant benefits of taking your mind to Joy Land instead of leaving it stuck in Awfulville :)


Swap this for half the amount of junk food you would normally consume and something nutritious like celery sticks or a celery shake made with organic milk or soy milk, a sprinkle of almond flakes and a dash of honey and ginger  :).

That said, perhaps, like me, you're not a hard core junkie and only occasionally 'lapse into decadence'.  If so, don't deny yourself such brief delights.  They're some of the experiences you can afford to have from the Ground of Infinite experiences :). 

You know, it's really not that difficult to swap unhelpful habits for truly empowering and fun habits. And once you start experiencing the marvelous benefits, you'll graduate from  Tentative Swapper to Adventurous Swapper!  Woo Hoo!!!

What are your favorite swaps?  Do share them so we can all benefit more :).  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From the womb (or tomb) of Silence

There is no such thing as complete soundless-ness.  Even in the most remote and isolated places we’ve been, there are sounds – birds calling, waves lapping against the cliffs or tumbling onto the sand, a distant aircraft, crickets chirping, the soft hum of a refrigerator, the creaking of a floor board…

But there’s no doubt about it, these are different sounds to the ones we mostly hear during our normal, urban or suburban days.  And that difference is useful.

These sounds give us something different to attend to, a break from the usual.  And a departure from the usual can be a return to the unusual and often, the more natural.

We are reminded of the stillness within.  We can encounter it with all our senses.  We are reminded that this is how we naturally are – uncluttered, undisturbed and peaceful.

This is when we feel natural joy arise spontaneously without contrivance.  This is where and how we most long to be.  Free from the addictions of what we have learned to call ‘normal’.

It is not that ‘normal’ is bad.  It’s just that it is almost always never enough and can never be enough.  

But this space of relative silence feels enough.  It feels whole and complete.  

So complete that it sometimes scares us when it whispers to us that we don’t need anything else – neither the people nor the things that we have come to regard as essential to our survival and wellbeing.

But if we stay long enough in this silence, in this stillness, we re-encounter all of life in a profoundly different way.  

We feel our oneness with all other and we understand that there is no conflict after all between being alone and being with the rest of the world.

We feel in a very deep and blissful way how beautifully interconnected we are and how each person and each thing is a part of us.  

We watch life in all its forms dancing its eternal dance.  Each fallen leaf, each breath, every footstep, every sliver of light through unexpected cracks and every calling of the seagulls is perfectly placed and timed in this dance.

And once again, we are reborn from the womb of silence.  

May you experience Silence this Easter and celebrate the wonder and promise of your rebirth from its womb!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are you Choosing Freely or being Governed by the Given?

 If you limit your choices only to what seems reasonable or possible, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise       Robert Fritz
Have you ever felt dissatisfied with the options available to you but then, somewhat reluctantly, chosen from them?

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  It may seem like a trivial one but it will serve to illustrate an important principle.

I enjoy changing the look and feel of my blogs from time to time in response to the way I’m feeling and/or the new and emerging impressions I wish to create and convey to readers.  

Just yesterday, I decided I wanted a different background for this blog.  I went through the range of options available in Blogger’s Design backgrounds and had a lot of fun trying on several of them.  But none of them felt completely satisfactory.

It was then that I realized (and remembered) that I wasn’t making a free choice. What do I mean?

Well, you see, I had limited my choice of backgrounds to what was available i.e. the given

When I realized and remembered (because I’ve been in this kind of space many times before with other decisions I’ve had to make) that I was choosing from a given set of options, in other words, a limited set of options, I decided to take a different approach.  

It is one that I use increasingly and which always delivers the most satisfying outcomes for me, whether over *trivial* or *critical* decisions.  (In fact, it’s because I have experienced such profound results with the more *critical* decisions that I tend to forget to use it with my  less *critical* decisions!)

I shut my eyes and began to imagine how I wanted my blog to feel and what that feeling looked like.  That’s when I began to see certain colors and shapes and forms that seemed to really capture that feeling.  I then opened my eyes and began looking through my library of images – pictures that I’d taken or drawn.

I found two that I liked.  The first one, although beautiful in my eyes, proved a bit too distracting when I tried it on.  The second, however, which is the one you see, was what matched my desire fully.  (Perhaps you might like to give me your feedback on it which I’ll be thrilled to receive :))
An Important Observation

I’ve observed that when we choose from a limited set of options, we often end up ‘settling for less’.  We make a compromise that we feel forced to make and the dissatisfaction that such a compromise leaves remains and festers within us, mostly unconsciously. 

In the short term, we may experience a degree of relief which we may mistake for satisfaction.  In truth, we’re just relieved that we’ve put that one decision to bed.  At least for now.  

Over time, however, that dissatisfaction that we’ve ignored or tried to rationalize away continues to gnaw at our spirit, mostly subconsciously.  Consciously, it may express itself as doubt or a reluctant act of tolerance.  

How Life Unfolds
Our lives unfold in a series of ongoing decisions most of which are made unconsciously because they are set on autopilot.  In fact, we hardly think of them as decisions.  Instead, we consider them habits or routines.

Our morning cup of coffee, the brushing of our teeth, getting out of bed, working at our computer, having three meals a day, grocery shopping once a week, answering the phone when it rings and paying our bills are such routine events that we perform them with hardly any variation and with unremarkable consistency.

And, let’s be clear, it’s mostly a very useful thing.  We don’t want or need to be deliberating over the same decision day in and day out, or every week or every month when we’ve already established that they work very well for us.  They keep us moving efficiently through life most of the time.

However, there are many more non-routine decisions that we are called upon to make that potentially have a great and far-reaching impact on the quality of our lives and the degree of happiness and control we experience.

These are the decisions that we don’t wish to set on autopilot and which we want to experience the greatest degree of freedom about.  

We do not want to make these decisions from a limited set of options that we’ve constructed from unhelpful beliefs, fears and limitations.

On the contrary, we want to make them from an infinite field of options!

To do this is much, much easier than you might think.  Just as I did with my choice of backgrounds for my blog, you too can do the same with any of the decisions that you consider important and meaningful to you.

Before I continue, I want to make something clear. 

There are three things that are at play here:

  1. The willingness to see beyond the given and finite/limited and into the unexplored and infinite
  2. The courage and faith that you are choosing what you truly desire even when the shape and form of that choice is not immediately clear to you
  3. The possibility that what you finally and freely choose may be something within the Given field of options but one which you now see and experience differently.  In other words, you genuinely see and experience it as a free and joyous choice rather a compromise or ‘the lesser of two evils’.

Note: That third one is something you may need to think about a bit more :).  It may be useful to reflect on the fact that the final choice is not what determines the quality of the outcome and its sustainability.  Rather, it is how the choice is made and the motivation driving it (eg whether from fear or freedom)

When you step into this *zone* of choosing freely, you’ll find it exciting, exhilarating and liberating.  It is as if you’re being buoyed on the unstoppable stream of life or floating above a lush and vibrant field that has absolutely no boundaries!  

The best part is, this is something that you can experience everyday and right now if you choose to!  And why wouldn’t you???

When you’re not Governed by the Given, life becomes fantastically more interesting, exciting, fun and truly and deeply satisfying!  

Let me put it this way: Joy, rapture and delight are available to you right now, without even having to leave your seat! 

Choices are made in your mind, by your heart and inspired by your Soul!  Would you have it any other way now that you know?

Before I show you how easily this is done, let me suggest the kinds of choices that you could be making with complete freedom.  In other words, the choices that you could be making consciously and freely from the infinite field of options, but which typically, you make from a limited set of options.  

  • What to wear
  • What to eat and how to cook it (or not)
  • How to spend your weekends or holidays
  • Whether to pamper yourself and how
  • Whether to have a life partner and who
  • Whether to watch television and what
  • What to believe
  • How to enjoy yourself
  • How to spend time with your favorite person or animal
  • What to read
  • Whether to cultivate a new interest and what
  • Whether to get married/divorced and why
  • What to do with your money

As you can see, these are choices about things that range from what appears to be trivial to ones that we typically regard as life-changing.  

The fact is, every choice we make is potentially life-changing if we remain open and attentive to the possibilities it reveals.

So, how do you enter the *Zone* of Choosing Freely to make your choices?

Please don’t be underwhelmed by the simplicity of what I’m about to share with you.  Simplicity and elegance underpin the most profound, elaborate and intricate creations including the *simple* typing of words in the creation of a novel, the *simple* motion of a needle and thread in the creation of spectacular fashion and the *simple* brush strokes in the painting of a masterpiece :).


  1. Remove yourself from the given options by closing your eyes, focusing on your breathing and allowing your mind and body to relax completely
  2. Imagine being suspended in space or floating or standing on an infinite ocean.  Enjoy the feeling of freedom and lightness.
  3. Remind yourself:  I am an expression of Life, one from a field of infinite possibilities
  4. Remind yourself:  I am choosing freely according to what I truly desire and what feels perfectly joyous and peaceful to me
  5. Ask yourself:  What do I truly desire?  How do I really want to feel?
  6. Wait for the good feelings to rise and flood your mind and body
  7. Be guided by these good feelings as you open your eyes and take your first step in the direction of these feelings
  8. Continue to act (or not act) according to these feelings
I suggest you try this first with a decision about something that you regard as ‘not so critical’, like choosing what to wear when you meet your friend for coffee. 

Instead of being Governed by the Given, go through the eight steps and see what you come up with.  More importantly, take note of how you feel

Did you find yourself exploring a wider field of possibilities?  Did you end up wearing something you wouldn’t have thought of wearing?  Or putting together a combination that you’d never have thought of?  Did you feel a little excited about it, even bold and daring? 

Imagine how this could change the way you approach what you consider the more *critical* choices in life, like choosing a career path or life partner. 

Options that you wouldn’t have seen suddenly and *magically* appear when you take yourself to that Zone of Choosing Freely.  

You don't have to make compromises and settle for less.  And you certainly don't have to cramp your style by being Governed by the Given!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When Sadness came calling

The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the Joy.  Jim Rohn
This last week has been disturbing.  I witnessed a sudden turn of events that resulted in the manager of my store being told that her part-time position was to be made redundant.   

She was given the options of a full-time position which she has not been willing to take as a result of family commitments, or a part-time position as a sales assistant with no loss of income, something that she felt she could not ethically justify.

J has been the store manager for five and a half years and in that time has seen the store move location twice, cultivated a loyal team of volunteers and helped build the wonderful reputation that the store currently enjoys.

She was the person who took me on as a volunteer and almost instantly recommended and secured my position, first as a casual and more recently as a part-time sales assistant.  We are the only two paid staff at our store.

J also jumped in and gave me a loan when I first joined the store.  She’d overheard a conversation I had over the phone with the people who receive my rent and, without my asking, put a couple of hundred dollars into an envelope and quietly told me to use it.  You see, I was unable to pay my rent in time and that would have put me in a precarious situation.

Although our working days rarely coincided, in recent weeks, we had been working together for two or three days a week.  During that time, with great patience and competence, she has broadened my scope of responsibilities by getting me to take on more of the store’s operational duties. 

On the day that she was told about the redundancy of her position, J and I had spent the morning working through a number of tasks while singing away some of J’s frustrations with the direction and national management of the store.  

 Just as well, for in the afternoon, upon her return from her meeting with the national manager, she left abruptly with tears in her eyes and lips quivering.  She could only manage to tell me that she’d call me and talk to me about the banking.

I spent the next hour or so in a bit of a daze, wandering aimlessly through the store and, at one point, crouching behind the counter so that I was invisible.  I just needed to try and let events sink in even though at this point, I did not know about the redundancy.  But, like most trained pessimists, I feared the worst.

This marked the beginning of the visit by Sadness who arrived from somewhere, perhaps that vast dungeon of sad emotions that we humans know only too well. I can tell you that she hasn’t left yet although I do feel that, today, about a week later, she may be starting to pack her bags.

Yesterday, again somewhat suddenly and following a phone call, J was told that she could wind up at the end of the day with the assurance that she would be paid for the few weeks leading up to the annual week she was scheduled to take at the end of this month.

When she told me the news, I knew instinctively that, sudden as it was, it was the better thing for J.  She would not have to endure a slow and painful few weeks of handing over to whoever it was who would be taking her place. 

She had, in fact, spent the last few nights with little sleep and a churning stomach, one of many such nights she’d had over the last two years since the new national manager and new business directions had kicked in.

Despite the turmoil that she was going through, J had sought reassurance from the national manager (who was on the other end of that phone call) that I would be supported adequately in the running of the store. 

When we had finished talking about the few remaining operational tasks and procedures that I needed to know about, J allowed herself to talk a bit more about her years with the store.

At some point, I asked her what was causing her the greatest pain just now, and watched as she tearfully told me that she felt it was moving away from its original mission to support economically disadvantaged women throughout the world.   

She had felt for some time now that the corporate model being pushed by the new manager was increasingly overshadowing the stories of these women and their need to live with dignity and greater freedom of choice.

I cried too as I saw and felt the pain that J was stoically trying to contain.  In the end, I suggested we sit down and meditate for a minute.  I guided our little meditation, first by bringing us to our present moment, our breathing, our physical space, both internal and external and finished by giving thanks for all the blessings we have encountered in our lives and the continued blessings we have received and shared with all our customers and the women throughout the world who are supported by our work. 

I also gave thanks for all the kindness, sweetness, joy and care that J had brought into the store over the last five and a half years.

It was a beautiful way to *end* and we both felt better for it.  As I walked home, I felt that I was walking home with Sadness.  There she was, right within me, leading the way, stirring vague memories of feelings that I’d felt on so many other occasions when she’d visited – times of relationships ending, goodbyes at airports, news of someone’s illness or death, the end of a job and moving house.  Painful times.

I would be lying if I told you that I was entirely at peace with these feelings.  There was a part of me that didn’t want them.  I would have been quite happy if Sadness had left as suddenly as J had. 

I woke up earlier than usual this morning.  Much earlier.  And there was Sadness.  I think she must’ve stayed up while I slept, waiting for me to arise.  Having spent some time meditating and reading from one of my favorite books, Anam Cara ('friend of the soul' by John O’Donahue, I now feel able to write and allow Sadness to say what she has to say, if she has anything to say.  Perhaps all that I have written is what she’s wanted to say.

But there’s more.  In my meditation, I realized a few things that I would like to share with you:

1.  I can extend the hand of friendship to Sadness

In fact, when I do, she is less threatening.  I also realized that in the same way, I could genuinely offer the spirit of friendship to the national manager, who admittedly, I have thus far not really cared to have any kind of relationship with other than that of someone taking directions from a manager.

2.  I can have a really good relationship with anyone if that is what I want and choose

Now, this is not something new.  But I was reminded of it in my meditation.  It is something that I have made use of on many occasions in the past with relationships that had been difficult and almost toxic. 

What I’d discovered was that a relationship, first and foremost, exists in our mind.  It is how we think and feel about someone that determines how we interact with them in person. 

So, if I can have thoughts and feelings about someone that enables me to feel joy, peace and power, then I know that joy, peace and power will flow through whether or not I am in physical contact with that person.

Establishing the relationship that I want in my mind first has resulted in all my unhappy and painful relationships (all three of them) to be healed completely, long before contact and communication was re-established. 

This is truly powerful stuff.  I have seen years of distrust, anger, hurt and mean spiritedness dissolve in relationships when I first allowed them to dissolve in my mind by redirecting my focus on what I wanted instead.

3.  I am not obliged to feel sad or angry as a demonstration of loyalty towards another person

We are conditioned to react, often with anger and indignation, when we believe that someone, especially someone close to us, has been wrongfully treated.   

We tend to align ourselves almost rigidly with that person and declare our *loyalty* towards them while denouncing the offending party.  It’s probably because we’re reacting as if we, ourselves, were that person.

To some extent, this may seem helpful to the person we care for.  But I’ve discovered as a result of being on both sides of such a situation that it’s generally unwise and unhelpful to react in this way.  

 Sure, our friend may feel comforted by our response but I don’t think it helps them move forward towards greater peace and joy, which is after all what they (and we) want most.

We're conditioned to want some kind of revenge or at least some recognition of the hurt that’s been caused.  Revenge is clearly no ticket to peace.  Recognition of hurt, however, is useful.  

If we can acknowledge the hurt that someone is feeling, it’s a wonderful thing.  We can be with them and be there for them.  But engaging in recrimination or blame games really does not help anyone.

Being with someone i.e empathizing does not require us to act out their anger or hurt.  It does not require us to pledge loyalty toward them by condemning others.  If we sincerely desire a peaceful and joyous outcome, then we must think, feel and act in peace.  And not just for some but for all concerned.  There is no such thing as *partial peace*

If you believe, as I do, that whatever we give our attention and emotion to, we manifest or manifest more of, then it only makes sense that anger and condemnation will only manifest more of the same.

On the other hand, by giving our attention and emotion to a peaceful and joyous outcome for everyone involved, we are likely to see that manifest.  

4.  You cannot expect a good outcome if you don’t truly desire it.  

This may seem so obvious, yet it is something that most people don’t seem to take seriously enough.  Most of us claim we want a good relationship but we tend to say that with our heads rather than our hearts.  

We know intellectually that it makes sense to have a good relationship whether it is with our partners, children, bosses or colleagues.  However, we assume that just thinking it is sufficient. 

Without sincerely and wholeheartedly desiring it, the way we would desire a glass of water when we are desperately thirsty, for instance, we lack the full intent and commitment that is required to make it happen.  

However, when we do intend it with our mind and heart, we can be sure that nothing will get in our way of turning this intention into a reality.  After all, a relationship exists, first and foremost, in our hearts and minds.  Whatever we say or do physically is merely an outflow of what is in our hearts and minds.

As I said, I had thus far not wholeheartedly desired to have a good relationship with the national manager.  I had not really seen it as necessary. 

I certainly did not want to have a *bad* relationship with her but it didn’t really cross my mind that it might be a good thing for both of us if I actually wholeheartedly desired to have a good relationship with her.   

And there is a difference.  A big difference between indifference or mild caring and caring fully.  

I have now intended this and I am certain that we will have a good relationship.  Perhaps, in time, I might desire to have a great relationship with her.   

In fact, what’s stopping me from desiring that right now?  Yes, that is exactly what I shall do!  Now!