英文短文6篇(100字左右)

发表于:2021.11.20来自:www.fanwen118.com字数:3353 手机看范文

Look at the sky

One day , Charley bought a hot dog in a snack bar after school .

Suddenly , he stopped and raised his head high . He kept looking at the sky . It lasted two minutes .

A woman passed by . she saw Charley looking at the sky . and she stooped and also looked at the sky .

The sky was blue . There were some white clouds . Charley still looked at the sky and didn’t move a bit . The woman also went on looking at the sky . Mary passers-by stopped . They looked at the sky , too .

After a while , charley lowered his head . He laughed and asked . “what are you looking for in the sky ?”

The woman said : “ why are you looking at the sky ?”

“I didn’t look at the sky .” Charley pointed to his nose .” My nose was bleeding .”

One good turn deserves another

I was having dinner at a restaurant whenHarry Steele came in. Harry worked in a lawyer's office years ago, but he is now working at a bank. He gets a good salary, but he always borrows money from his friends and never pays it back. Harry saw me and came and sat at the same table. He has never borrowed money from me. While he was eating, I asked him to lend me &2. To my surprise, he gave me the money immediately. 'I have never borrrowed any money from you,' Harry said,'so now you can pay for my dinner!'

Good news and bad news

An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings currently on display. "I've got good news and bad news," the owner replied. "The good news is that a gentleman inquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all fifteen of your paintings."

"That's wonderful!" the artist exclaimed, "What's the bad news?". With concern, the gallery owner replied, "The guy was your doctor."

Difference

"I can always tell a graduate class from an undergraduate class," observed the instructor in one of my graduate engineering courses at California State

University in Los Angeles. "When I say, 'Good afternoon,' the undergraduates respond, 'Good afternoon." But the graduate students just write it down."

Charge for Bread and Butter

Some years ago, my dad, an attorney, took me to a fancy restaurant in Now York City. When the bill arrived, there was a $1.50 charge for bread and butter. Dad paid the bill, including the charge for bread and butter. However, the next day, he sent a letter to the resturant stating that the charge was uncalled for. Enclosed in the same envelope was a bill for $500 in legal services.

Someone from the restaurant called immediately and asked, "What is this $500 bill for? We never ordered any legal services."

Dad replied, "I never ordered any bread and butter."

The $1.50 was returned without delay.

Sleeping Pills

Bob was having trouble getting to sleep at night. He went to see his doctor, who prescribed some extra-strong sleeping pills.

Sunday night Bob took the pills, slept well and was awake before he heard the alarm. He took his time getting to the office, strolled in and said to his boss: "I didn't have a bit of trouble getting up this morning."

"That's fine," roared the boss, "but where were you Monday and Tuesday?"




第二篇:英文作文100篇 188800字

美国人写的作文100篇

101.Embracing Grief Grief Is Important

Change is something that happens each and every moment in our lives. Since nothing is constant, it may sometimes seem as if we are losing something whenever things do

change. Understanding that this is part of our daily existence and that there will not only be gains but also losses in our lives can help us more readily accept and deal with whatever happens.

Whenever we lose something or somebody we love, it is important for us to take time out for ourselves and truly feel the weight of what we are experiencing. Although it may seem that doing so will push us into a deeper state of sadness, truly giving ourselves permission to be with whatever arises actually creates space for us to begin the healing process. This is because the act of grieving is a natural process, allowing us to sort

through the range of emotions that are present in our everyday existence. Even though it may sometimes seem easier to involve ourselves in activities that take our minds off of our sadness, this will only make the route to healing more difficult. Unless we listen to where we are in the moment, the emotions we experience will only grow in intensity, and our feelings will manifest themselves in more powerful and less comfortable ways. Once we consciously acknowledge that these emotions are present, however, we are more able to soothe the sorrow of the moment. In so doing, we become more open to our natural ability to heal ourselves.

Grieving doesn’t have to be a process that keeps us rooted in our thoughts of fear and sadness. For the moment we might feel despondent, but by expressing and coping with our true feelings, we face the sadness head-on. When we allow ourselves to accept and deal with our loss fully, we will then be able to continue our life’s journey with a much more positive and accepting outlook. This will make it easier for us to see that our grief is ephemeral and, just like our moments of happiness, it will also come to pass.

102.Healing Our Bodies Touch

Sometimes we might concentrate so much on our spiritual lives that we overlook the wonders of being present in our physical form. When we are more aware of the fact that our bodies are also important in terms of our personal growth, we may find it easier to nurture them. One of the most powerful ways to do this is through human touch, for a loving, comforting touch allows us to access the part of ourselves that yearns for a sense of oneness with the world around us. Even simple forms of touch connect us not just to our bodies but also to the energetic presence of other people.

There are so many ways to incorporate touch in our daily lives, one of the easiest being a heartfelt embrace. Just making a point to hug someone on a daily basis and really feel our

energy pass between each other can strengthen the bonds that keep us together. Hugs help us heal any hurt or upset we may have recently experienced by letting us release into the moment of the embrace and realize that no matter what happens to us, we have someone in our lives who supports and cares for us.

Another nourishing form of touch is massage. While we may think of massage as a luxury, it is actually an ancient form of healing that enables us to open up our energetic pathways in order to receive unlimited energy from the universe. It doesn’t matter

whether a simple massage comes from a loved one or a massage therapist, but by giving ourselves the gift of massage every once in a while, we are doing something healthy and beneficial for our bodies. Massage helps our bodies activate their own restorative powers, creating a wonderful way to engage fully in our own healing.

Letting ourselves take advantage of the healing nature of touch creates space where we can truly live in and experience the world through our bodies, allowing us to completely immerse ourselves in the loving sense of joy and wonder that is our life.

103.Witnessing Nature Through Meditation

Bird Meditation

When the weather gets colder it can be more difficult to get in touch with the marvel of nature as it exists around us. Finding innovative ways to really connect with nature brings us closer to the wonders that envelop our lives. One way to do this is to perform a meditation with our feathered friends, the bird kingdom.

Just by taking a few moments each day to watch the bird activity that goes on in our backyards through our windows can bring a sense of calm and well-being to our lives. Watching and being with the birds that we share our garden space with us allows us to experience greater feelings of relaxation and gratitude for the diversity that is always present around us. Simply watching, without judgment or expectations, heightens our awareness of the beauty of nature. If you watch the birds for a long enough period of time you will begin to feel a great sense of deep joy within you knowing we are all truly divine. Doing this with our family members will in turn introduce a meditative practice that can easily be shared and appreciated by all, as well as create deeper bonds with each other through the joy of experiencing the healing power of nature.

Looking through our windows and placing a feeder and bird bath in our gardens to attract the birds is a way to call forth beauty into our lives. As we consciously connect with our outer world—even when the weather inhibits us from physically being in it—we see that the splendor we view outside of our windows is simply a reflection of what lies within us.

104.Opening to Understanding Willingness To Feel

situation that feels absolutely black and white. But life is not this way梚t抯 the way we are looking at our experiences that is causing the turmoil within us. When we become aware that the struggle we are having is with ourselves, we can turn our attention to the source in order to solve the problem, but we must be being There are times when we may find ourselves struggling or even fighting with our thoughts and emotions. We may feel that something must be done in a certain way or not at all, or there may be some other willing to look where we need to and feel emotions that may make us uncomfortable at first. Then we can choose to really open ourselves to understanding all the options we can imagine. We are likely to discover that we are resisting something based on a limited understanding, and we must then open ourselves to willingness.

When we are willing to look at all the possibilities, we also become willing to accept that there is room for more than we can imagine. We can release ourselves from the grip we had on our emotions and stop limiting ourselves. We may have been unwilling to

experience feeling loss, confusion, fear, or even joy for some reason or another, but when we realize that our understanding was limited we allow space for the universe to move in our lives.

Opening ourselves to willingness may feel like we are surrendering or abandoning all that we believed. But at the same time it is an act of power and courage because it is a

conscious choice we make about how to apply our personal will. Being willing is to be in a state of willing something into creation. It is at once allowing ourselves to be while also choosing to direct our energy in a focused way. It is being and doing from a place of openness, where we can work with the universe rather than resist it. It is an open hand rather than one that is clenched into a fist. When we make a step toward willingness, we open ourselves to truth, possibility, and the movement of the wise universe in and through our lives.

105.Worth The Time Meditating More When Our Plates Are Full

Ironically, when we get busy, the first thing that tends to get cut back is our meditation practice. We have less time and a lot on our plates, so it makes sense that this happens, but in the end it doesn’t really help us. Most of us know from experience that we function much better when we give ourselves time each day to sit in silence. And the more we have to do, the more we need that solitary, quiet time for the day ahead. As a result, while it may sound counterintuitive, it is during busy times that we most need to spend more time in meditation rather than less. By being quiet and listening to the universe, we will be given what we need to get through our day.

Expanding our morning meditation by just 10 minutes can make a big difference, as can the addition of short meditations into our daily schedule. The truth is, no matter how busy we are, unless we are in the midst of a crisis we always have five or 10 minutes to spare. The key is convincing ourselves that spending that time in meditation is the most fruitful choice. We could be getting our dishes done or heading into work earlier instead, so it’s important that we come to value the importance of meditation in the context of all the

other things competing for attention in our lives. All we have to do to discover whether it works to meditate more when we are busy is to try it.

We can start by creating more time in the morning, either by getting up earlier or by

preparing breakfast the night before and using the extra time for meditation. We can also add short meditation breaks into our schedule, from five minutes before or after lunch to a meditation at night before we go to sleep. When we come from a place of centered calm, we are more effective in handling our busy schedules and more able to keep it all in perspective. If more time in meditation means less time feeling anxious, panicky, and overwhelmed, then it’s certainly worth the extra time.

106.Attitude Follows Perspective Shifting The Mood

We all have days when we are faced with chores, errands, or responsibilities that we don’t want to do. At times like these, it’s easy to get into a bad mood and stay in one as we tackle these tasks. However, given the fact that our bad mood will not change the fact that we have to do these things, and will most likely make things worse, we could also try to shift our attitude. Many wise people have pointed out that it is not so much what we do as it is how we do it that makes the difference in our lives.

It's important when we're facing something that's really hard for us, whether it's doing taxes, paying bills, or visiting a challenging relative, that we lovingly support ourselves through the process. The more supported we feel, the easier it is to open our minds to the idea that we could change our way of looking at the situation. In truth, most of the chores we don't like doing are intimately intertwined with our blessings. When we remember this, we feel gratitude, which makes it hard to stay in a dark mood.

We can shift our attitude by considering how much we love our home as we clean it and how lucky we are to have a roof over our head. Any task can be transformed from a burden to a necessary aspect of caring for something we love. All we have to do is shift our perspective, and our attitude follows shortly behind.

107.Every Step Is Forward No Going Back

There are times when we feel that we are spinning our wheels in the mud in terms of our spiritual progress. This can be especially true following a period of major growth in which we feel as if we’ve gained a lot of ground. In fact, this is the way growth goes—periods of intense forward movement give way to periods of what seems like

stagnation. In those moments when we feel discouraged, it’s helpful to remember that we don’t ever really go backward. It may be that we are at a standstill because there is a new obstacle in our paths, or a new layer to get through, but the hard work we have done cannot be undone.

Every step on the path is meaningful, and even one that seems to take us backward is a forward step in the sense that it is what we must do to move to the next level. In addition, an intense growth spurt requires that we rest for a time in order to fully integrate the new energies that have been liberated by our hard work. When we feel we are not making progress, we can encourage ourselves to take a moment to rest. We can meditate more, feed ourselves well, and get extra sleep. Before we know it, we will be spurred on to work toward the next level of our development, and this rest will make sense then as something we needed in order to continue.

Once the sun rises, it doesn’t go backward but instead follows its path in one direction. It may appear to stand still for a moment in time, or to move more slowly at some point or another, but really it is steadily moving forward on its path. We are the same way, and once we have moved through something we can never really go back. We may be resting or revisiting issues that seem old, and it’s natural to feel stuck, but in truth we are always taking the next important step forward on our path.

108.Gathering Our Straying Thoughts Centering Ourselves

When our thoughts are scattered in several directions at once and we are no longer conscious of what we are doing or why, it is time to center ourselves. When we center ourselves, we begin by acknowledging that we have become spread too thin and we are no longer unified inside. Our thoughts might be out of sync with our feelings, and our actions may be out of sync with both. The main signs that we need to center ourselves are scattered thoughts and a feeling of disconnection or numbness, as if we are no longer able to take anything in. In addition, we may feel unfocused and not present in our bodies. Centering ourselves is a way of coming to terms with all the different energies within us and drawing them back into ourselves.

Centering yourself means that you are working from or being aware of the core of your being in the solar plexus area of your body. At first it may not make sense, but as you progress you will understand what this feels like. We naturally know how to center ourselves when we take a deep breath, for example, before making a big announcement or doing something big. Another way to center ourselves is to sit down and engage in breath meditation. We can start by simply getting into a comfortable upright position and noticing as our breath enters and leaves our bodies. Our breath flows into our center and out from our center, and this process can serve as a template for all of our interactions in the world. In conversations, we can take what our friends are saying into the center of our beings and respond from the center. Our whole lives mirror this ebb and flow of energy that begins and ends at the center of ourselves. If we follow this ebb and flow, we are in harmony with the universe, and when we find we are out of harmony, we can always come back into balance by sitting down and observing our breath.

When we sit down to center ourselves we can imagine that we are gathering our straying thoughts and energies back into ourselves, the way a mother duck gathers her babies around her. We can also visualize ourselves casting a net and pulling all the disparate

parts of ourselves back to the center of our being, creating a sense of fluid integration. From this place of centeredness, we can begin again, directing ourselves outward in a more intentional way.

109.Growing Pains

Difficult Times

It can be very challenging to maintain a positive attitude and a measure of faith when you are in the midst of difficult times. This is partly because we tend to think that if the universe loves us we will experience that love in the form of positive circumstances. However, we are like children, and the universe is our wise mother who knows what our souls need to thrive better than we do. Just as a young child does not benefit from getting everything she wants, we also benefit from times of constriction and difficulty to help us grow and learn. If we keep this in mind, and continue to trust that we are loved even when things are hard, it helps us bear the difficult time with grace.

This period of time in history is full of difficulty for a lot of human beings, and you may feel less alone knowing you are not being singled out. There are extreme energy changes pulsing through the universe at every level and, of course, we are all part of the growing process and the growing pains. It helps if we remember that life is one phase after another and that this difficult time will inevitably give way to something new and different. When we feel overwhelmed we can comfort ourselves with the wise saying: This too shall pass.

At the same time, if you truly feel that nothing is going right for you, it’s never a bad idea to examine your life and see if there are some changes you can make to alleviate some of the difficulty. Gently and compassionately exploring the areas giving you the most trouble may reveal things you are holding onto and need to release: unprocessed

emotions, unresolved transitions, or negative ways of looking at yourself or reality. As you take responsibility for the things you can change, you can more easily surrender to the things you can’t, remembering all the while that this phase will, without doubt, give way to another.

110.Technology As Distraction

Choosing True Connections

We are often lured by the promise of new technologies to make our lives easier and help connect us to others. While they do so in many ways, they also present each of us with opportunities to make new choices about how we spend our time and invest our energy. Most gadgets are generally meant to improve the quality of our lives, but it is when we spend too much time with them that they actually do the opposite. By always using our portable e-mailers, cell phones, video games, and surfing the Internet, we actually

become less connected and more distracted. By becoming aware of these tendencies, we harness the power to overcome them and make better choices for ourselves and our families.

Once we decide to consciously put our gadgets to work for us, we become masters of our time. We can give our full attention to whatever we are doing and not let phone

conversations and other distractions take the place of human contact. Each of us has the ability to consciously choose to be more present in our lives. We can decide at any time to leave our gadgets behind and become aware of the sights and sounds around us in order to expand our awareness and be fully present in our bodies and our surroundings.

When we use our discernment about how we invest our personal energy, we can be sure that we choose only the best for ourselves and those we love. Our gadgets can be useful tools for our journey in the material world, but we must not forget that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and that means interacting with people on a personal level. Choices that enliven us and help us feel connected to our world and our loved ones always deserve our full attention and presence of mind, body, and spirit.

111.Create Time For Self-Compassion Being Gentle With Ourselves

During those times when our lives are filled with what seems to be constant change and growth, it is important to remember that we need to be gentle with ourselves. Since it can be easy to use our energy to keep up with the momentum of our lives, we may not be aware of the fact that we are much more likely to run ourselves down. When things seem to be moving quickly, it is especially essential that we make a point to slow down and be gentle with ourselves.

It might be difficult to notice what is happening to us for we may be so caught up in the whirlwind of our lives that we lose sight of the direction in which things are heading. Being gentle with ourselves doesn’t mean that we don’t accomplish things. Instead it means that we honor ourselves on an ongoing basis and take care of the needs of our bodies.

This means different things to different people. For instance, it could mean having a session with a healer; taking a remedy, herbs, or vitamins; or getting extra sleep. Putting our energy into ourselves in this way helps create space for a more positive, loving, and accepting view of our lives. By setting the intention to do so, we will be more cognizant of our energy levels on a daily basis and more able to replenish them as needed.

The more we are able to treat our bodies with gentleness, the more tenderness and

compassion we will call forth into our lives. Learning to understand and pay attention to what our self needs will in turn allow us to fill our lives with unlimited loving and healing energy and to truly take care of the things that mean the most to us.

112.Not Alone In The Dark Looking At What We Don’t Want To See

It is one of life's great paradoxes that the things we don't want to look at in ourselves are

the very things we need to look at in order to know ourselves better and to become more fully who we are. The feelings that make us want to run away are buried treasure full of energy and inspiration if we are willing to look. These feelings come in many forms, from strange images or snippets of information to recurring dreams and feelings that rise up seemingly without a reason. Whatever shape they come in, and no matter how scary they seem, these messengers bring the information we need in order to grow.

When we are tired of pushing something down, or trying to run away from it, a good first step is to write down what we think we are avoiding. Often this turns out to be only the surface of the issue or a symbol of something else. Expressing ourselves fully on paper is a safe way to begin exploring the murky territory of the unconscious. The coolness of the intellect can give us the distance we need to read what we have written and feel less afraid of it. It helps if we remember that no matter how dark or negative our thoughts or feelings may be, these are energies shared by all humanity. We are not alone in the dark, and all the gurus and teachers we admire had to go through their own unprocessed

emotional territory in order to come out the other side brighter and wiser. This can give us the courage we need to open the treasure chest of what we have been avoiding.

Within the parts of ourselves that we don't want to look at, there are emotions that need to be felt. Unfelt emotions are stuck energy, and when we leave emotions unprocessed, we deprive ourselves of access to that energy. When we feel strong enough, we can begin the process of feeling those emotions, on our own or with guidance from a spiritual counselor. It is through this work that the buried treasure of energy and inspiration will pour forth from our hearts, giving us the courage to look at all the parts of ourselves with insight and compassion.

113.Repeating Patterns Of Meaning Numbers

Glancing at the clock may cause us to look again sometimes, especially when we notice that we’ve caught it at the same time over and over again. Maybe we see the same number pattern echoed everywhere we look—whether on license plates or

appliances—over a period of hours or even days. When we accept that there are no coincidences, we know there is a message in the numbers for us, and we know to pay attention to the repeating patterns and search for their true meaning.

Numerology has its basis in the ancient world and tells us that each number carries its own vibration and symbolic significance. It can mark the stages of our soul’s evolution as we move from one frequency to the next. Repeating number patterns in our lives may call us to focus on certain aspects of our lives and rise to approach them from the best within us. Once we’ve recognized that there is something we must look more deeply into, we also must trust that we will be guided to the people and places that hold the right answers for us.

Numbers, as symbols, can carry personal meanings as well. We may have our own lucky number that has served us well throughout our lives and another that reminds us of

certain events of significance. If these are the numbers that are appearing, it may be the right time to delve into the past for clues about how to handle a present situation. Many people are seeing 11:11 right now, which can be interpreted as an energetic gateway that has opened for you and is ready to manifest your thoughts into reality. Whatever

explanations you receive about the numbers that are appearing everywhere you look, the important thing is to trust your own guidance as to what they are telling you. Each culture attaches different meaning to the numbers, so a Chinese interpretation may be different than an interpretation from Kabalah. It is up to us to use our intuition to see which is the best fit for us. If someone has an explanation that doesn’t feel right, then this is not the answer for you but may be just a clue to keep you moving on the path. By paying

attention to the numbers around us, we use them as tools to improve our connection to the universe and our awareness of our choices in life.

114.Stepping Back From Anger Argument

When we find ourselves in an argument, we may feel like we are losing control of emotions that have taken on lives of their own. When we can become aware that this is happening, taking a deep breath can help us step back from the situation. Once we can separate ourselves from the heat of the moment, we may find that the emotional trigger that began the argument has little to do with the present situation, but may have brought up feelings related to something else entirely. Looking honestly at what caused our reaction allows us to consciously respond more appropriately to the situation and make the best choices.

We can make an agreement with our partners and those closest to us that asking questions can help all of us discover the source of the argument. The shared awareness can result in finding simple solutions to something physical, like low blood sugar or even a hormonal surge. Maybe we are taking ourselves too seriously, and we can just laugh and watch the tension dissolve. We could also discover that perhaps we are addicted to the excitement that drama brings and the chemicals that our body creates when we are angry. But there may be a deeper issue that requires discussion, understanding, and patience. The more we allow ourselves to step back and examine our reasons for arguing, the easier it becomes to allow real feelings to surface and guide us toward solutions that improve our lives.

When we can be clear about our feelings and intentions and communicate them clearly, we have a far better chance of getting what we want than if we lose control or allow our subconscious minds to manipulate the situation. We might take our frustrations out on the people closest to us because we feel safe and comfortable with them, but misplaced anger can cause more harm than good. Arguing for what we truly believe can empower us and help us to direct our passions toward greater life experiences. Truly knowing our reasons for arguing enables us to grow emotionally in ways that will affect our whole being.

115.Making Time For Reflection Going On Retreat

Giving ourselves time to reflect and heal can be a powerful way to process the things that are happening in our lives, and one of the best approaches to do this is by going on a retreat. Going on a retreat means that we have set the intention to heal and learn more about our spirit, and doing this is a decision that we make for ourselves.

Since everyone sees and experiences the world differently, it is important to choose a type of retreat that works best for us. Even though a friend or loved one may recommend something, we have to trust our intuition and select a path that really connects with what our soul needs most at the time. The most essential thing is to be willing to respect our unique stage of development and to be patient with ourselves since any thoughts or issues that arise are simply part of the process of healing. Just remembering that a retreat is an intense period of time where serious soul searching takes place can help us allow

whatever may happen to us to fully unfold. Going on retreat may sound like a vacation, but most retreat experiences ask you to look deep inside of yourself, and sometimes this can be uncomfortable or stir the pot of our soul.

Putting our trust in the retreat process will make space for the necessary work we have to do, making it easier for our hearts and minds to explore wholly the innermost reaches of our soul. By paying attention to these messages, we pave the way for greater healing and transformation, since spending time in contemplation at a retreat will give us the gift of insight and understanding that we can use in all aspects of our daily lives.

116.Turn It Around Laboring Under A Label

We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a

negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex

mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.

When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the

societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe. If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels

people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.

If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.

117.Shifting Roles Supporting Your Spouse

Throughout the course of a successful marriage or long-term commitment, the two people in the relationship may shift in and out of various roles. For example, one person in the couple may support the other person going back to school. In order to do this, he or she steps into a supporting role, setting aside certain goals or aspirations in order to provide a stable base from which his or her partner can launch in a new direction. There are many gifts of learning inherent in this role-from having the opportunity to embody a nurturing stance to feeling the pleasure of seeing a loved one thrive. When our partner expands his or her horizons, ours expand, too, and we gain access to a world that would otherwise remain closed to us.

However, there is also much to be said for having a turn to be the one stepping outside the box, perhaps taking time to attend to our personal healing, spiritual pursuits, or other interests. In order to maintain balance within our relationships, it's important that we address these issues each time one person steps into a supporting role so the other can try something new. When we are conscious about acknowledging that one person is bearing a bit more of a burden so that the other can grow, we stand a better chance of making sure the ebb and flow in the relationship remains fair and equal.

The most important part of this process is open communication in which each person has a chance to express how they feel and come to an understanding about the roles they have agreed to play and when they expect them to shift. Each time a dynamic shift occurs, a ceremony of acknowledgment can lend an air of distinction to the moment. This can be a simple dinner date or an elaborate ritual, depending upon what works best for us at the time. Perhaps the most important thing is expressing gratitude to the person in the supporting role and encouragement to the person moving in a new direction. When the flow of feeling and communication is open, a healthy closeness develops that allows each person in the relationship to have a turn at each of these important roles. What do you think?

118.Promise Of Prosperity

Chinese Year Of The Rat

Chinese New Year this time around is the Year of the Rat, which brings with it the

promise of prosperity. The Chinese admire the rat for its quick mind and ability to gather valuables and save them for the future. Since 2008 is the Year of the Rat, the year ahead should offer many opportunities to acquire wealth, as well as the ability to make choices that enable us to provide comfort for a long time to come.

Since the rat sign is the first in the Chinese zodiac calendar, we may feel the energy of a cycle beginning. We may also feel a pioneering spirit that helps us to forge ahead with a completely new endeavor. Looking beyond Western culture’s distaste for rats, we may be able to appreciate their ability to thrive in less than ideal conditions. This quality might offer us hope that whatever challenges we may face will only serve to make us stronger and more able. The rat’s ability to solve problems is well-known, so we can choose to enjoy any challenge that helps us keep our minds sharp while also making life more of a game. A competitive nature may develop within us, leading us to use the rat’s ability to focus on priorities. The rat can also remind us to be less worried about pleasing everyone we meet and more focused on our goals.

We should be aware of the rat’s habit for collecting and not allow ourselves to become so focused that we neglect those around us. Being constantly on the alert for opportunity can be stressful, so we can make the decision to balance our pursuit of prosperity with the enjoyment of good food and atmosphere and the people we trust to offer us both support and space. With the energy of challenge and possibility, the year is likely to be exciting without being explosive. The Year of the Rat is sure to offer the type of enjoyable challenges that will enable us to become all we can possibly be.

119.Life As It Is Making Life Work For You

Sometimes we have so many varying responsibilities in our lives, ranging from work obligations to caring for children to running a household, we feel we cannot possibly make it all work. We may feel overwhelmed in the face of it all, ending each day feeling hopelessly behind schedule. However, regardless of how frustrating this can be, these are the parameters that make up our lives, and we owe it to ourselves to find a way to make it work. Rather than buckling under the pressure of an impossible to-do list, we might take a moment to view the larger perspective.

Like the president of a large organization, we must first realize that we cannot do every job ourselves. The first step to sanity is learning how to delegate some of the

responsibility to other people, whether by paying someone to clean our house or trading childcare duties with another parent. In addition, we might find places where we can shift our expectations in ways that make our lives easier. For example, expecting ourselves to create a healthy home-cooked meal every night after a full day of work, errands, or caring for an infant or toddler may be a bit excessive. We might allow ourselves to order in food once in a while without any guilt. Accepting the adjustments needed to make our lives

work is an essential ingredient to being at peace with our situation.

At the end of the day, we must come to terms with changing what we can and accepting what we cannot change. Sometimes the laundry piles up, a sick child demands more of our attention than usual, and we temporarily get behind with our schedule. Accepting this momentary state of affairs and trusting in our ability to get back on track when the time is right, we gracefully accept our life as it is, letting go of perfectionism and embracing life as it stands.

120.Tearing Down To Rebuild Rethinking Complaining

We all know someone who has elevated the process of complaining to a high art.

Sometimes funny, sometimes exhausting, these people have the ability to find a problem just about anywhere. In its more evolved form, complaining is simply the ability to see what’s not working, in one’s own life or in the external world, and it can be quite useful if followed to its natural conclusion—finding a solution and applying it. However, many of us don’t get that far, and we find that complaining has become an end in itself. In small doses, this is not a big problem, but if complaining has become a huge part of our identities, it may be time to take a good look at how we are spending our energy.

Complaining is a person’s way of acknowledging that they are not happy with the way things are. In a metaphorical way, when we complain or criticize, we are tearing down an undesirable structure in order to make room for something new. But if all we do is tear down, never bothering to summon the creative energy required to create something new, we are not fulfilling the process. In fact, we are at risk for becoming a stagnant and destructive force in our own lives and in the lives of the people we love. Another issue with complaining is that we sometimes tend to focus on other people, whom we can’t change, as a way of deflecting attention from the one person we can change—ourselves. So transforming complaining into something useful is a twofold process that begins with turning our critical eye to look at things we can actually do something about, and then taking positive action.

When we find ourselves complaining, the last thing we need to do is get down on

ourselves. Instead, we can begin by noticing that we are in the mode of wanting to make some changes. But rather than lashing out at somebody or an organization, we can look for an appropriate place to channel this energy—not our neighbor’s house, but possibly parts of our own. Finally, we can ask ourselves the positive question of what we would like to create in the place of whatever it is we want to tear down. When we do this, we channel a negative habit into a creative process, thus using our energy to change the world around us in a positive way.

121.Small Steps To Big Change Making Big Change Easier

When we decide that it's time for big changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our lives, whereas sudden changes may cause a sense of failure that makes it

difficult to go on, and we are more likely to revert to our old ways. Even if we have gone that route and find ourselves contemplating the choice to start over again, we can decide to take it slowly this time, and move forward.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are merely indicators of the need for change and are useful in getting us moving in the right direction. But it is possible that once we try out what seemed so ideal, we may find that it doesn’t actually suit us, or make us feel the way we had hoped. By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. We have time to examine the underlying values of the desire for change and find ways to manifest those feelings, whether it looks exactly like our initial goal or not. Taking small steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our new path.

Life doesn't always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for a big change, and we may find ourselves overwhelmed by what is in front of us. By choosing one thing to work on at a time, we focus our attention on something manageable, and eventually we will look up to see that we have accomplished quite a bit. Forcing change is, in essence, a sign that we do not trust the universe’s wisdom. Instead, we can listen to our inner guidance and make changes at a pace that is right for us, ensuring that we do so in alignment with the rhythm of the universe.

122.Being Clear About Desires Getting What We Want

The best way to get what we want from life is to first know what we want. If we haven’t taken the time to really understand and identify what would truly make us happy, we won’t be able to ask for it from those around us or from the universe. We may not even be able to recognize it once it arrives. Once we are clear about what we want, we can communicate it to those around us. When we can be honest about who we are and what we want, there is no need to demand, be rude or aggressive, or manipulate others that are involved in helping us get what we want. Instead, we know that we are transmitting a signal on the right frequency to bring all that we desire into our experience.

As the world evolves, humanity is learning to work from the heart. We may have been taught that the way to get what we want is to follow certain rules, play particular games, or even engage in acts that use less than our highest integrity. The only rules we need to apply are those of intention and connection. In terms of energy, we can see that it takes a lot of energy to keep up a false front or act in a way that is counter to our true nature, but much less energy is expended when we can just be and enjoy connections that energize us in return. Then our energy can be directed toward living the life we want right now.

Society has certain expectations of behavior and the roles each of us should play, but as

spiritual beings we are not bound by these superficial structures unless we choose to accept them. Instead, we can listen to our hearts and follow what we know to be true and meaningful for us. In doing so, we will find others who have chosen the same path. It can be easy to get caught up in following goals that appear to be what we want, but when we pursue the underlying value, we are certain to stay on our right path and continue to feed our soul.

123.Undistracted Energy Pure Thoughts

If we make no effort at all, our thoughts usually scatter in a vast array of directions. They start and stop and move in surprising ways from one second to the next. If we try to follow our thoughts without controlling them, we will be amazed at how truly

inconsistent they are. Yet, if we apply our minds to a specific task, especially one that interests us, they gather together and allow us to focus our attention, creating great power and energy. This is what is known as pure thought, because it is undistracted.

The law of attraction—like attracts like—influences all energy, including our thoughts, and this is what makes pure thought so potent. Our undistracted thoughts create a

powerful magnet that draws similar energy into our vibrating field. As a result, the longer we are able to hold positive thoughts in our minds, the more powerful the positive energy around us becomes. We don't need to focus on action and controlling so much when we are surrounded by energy that draws what we want toward us. We can simply respond to the opportunities that naturally come our way. When this is the essence of our experience, we can go with the flow, knowing that we will be okay.

If pure thought is a body, it is our emotions that supply the heart that can really bring it to life. Our thoughts and feelings exist in relation to one another, and they form a feedback loop through which they communicate and empower each other. When we hold a thought in our mind without being distracted, we have achieved pure thought. When we have a positive emotional response to that thought, we enable it to dance and move and breathe itself into existence.

124.Mysterious Beginnings The Necessity Of Winter

As any gardener knows, the bulbs that contain the beautiful flowers of spring and summer—daffodils, irises, tulips, gladiolas—cannot bloom until they have endured a period of cold. Held in the dark earth during the frigid winter months, they undergo internal adjustments and changes invisible to our eyes. Like babies gestating in the lightless, watery wombs of their mothers, they are fully engaged in the process of preparing to be born. So many of the greatest mysteries of life begin this way, with a powerful urge for growth enclosed in a small, dark space.

We humans have a tendency to yearn for the light, for the coming of spring, and for the

more visible phase of growth that all things express in coming to be. In our love for what we can see with our eyes we sometimes lose patience for, and interest in, the world of darkness that nurtures and protects the seeds, bulbs, and babies of the world for such an important part of their life cycles. It is a perilous and mysterious phase of growth, and one that we have little control over, and perhaps that is why we don’t celebrate it with quite the same passion as we do the lighter and brighter phases of life. Nevertheless, we ourselves endure similar periods of developing in the darkness throughout our lives.

Meditating on the image of a bulb, a seed, or an embryo, can bring us into alignment with the side of our own natures that is like the earth in winter—seemingly asleep but busily attending to details of growth that create the pattern for the children, flowers, and creative expressions to come. Touching down on this place in ourselves, we may feel at once peaceful and activated, utterly still and yet fully creative, quietly in tune with the dark and mysterious beginnings of life.

125.Outside The Comfort Zone Things We Don’t Want To Do

Most of us have had the experience of tackling some dreaded task only to come out the other side feeling invigorated, filled with a new sense of confidence and strength. The funny thing is, most of the time when we do them, we come out on the other side changed and often wondering what we were so worried about or why it took us so long. We may even begin to look for other tasks we’ve been avoiding so that we can feel that same heady mix of excitement and completion.

Whether we avoid something because it scares us or bores us, or because we think it will force a change we’re not ready for, putting it off only creates obstacles for us. On the other hand, facing the task at hand, no matter how onerous, creates flow in our lives and allows us to grow. The relief is palpable when we stand on the other side knowing that we did something even though it was hard or we didn't want to do it. On the other hand, when we cling to our comfort zone, never addressing the things we don’t want to face, we cut ourselves off from flow and growth.

We all have at least one thing in our life that never seems to get done. Bringing that task to the top of the list and promising ourselves that we will do it as soon as possible is an act that could liberate a tremendous amount of energy in our lives. Whatever it is, we can allow ourselves to be fueled by the promise of the feelings of exhilaration and confidence that will be the natural result of doing it.

126.Interconnected Experiences Noticing Synchronicity

When events appear to fit together perfectly in our lives it may seem at first that they are random occurrences, things that are the result of coincidence. These synchronous

happenings, though, are much more than that, for, if we look at them more closely they

can show us that the universe is listening to us and gently communicating with us. Learning to pay attention to and link the things that occur on a daily basis can be a way for us to become more attuned to the fact that most everything happens in our lives for a reason ?even when that reason is not clear right away.

When we realize that things often go more smoothly than we can ever imagine, it allows us to take the time to reflect on the patterns in our lives. Even events that might not at first seem to be related to each other are indicators that the universe is working with, not against, us. This idea of synchronicity, then, means that we have to trust there is more to our lives than what we experience on a physical level. We need to be willing to look more closely at the bigger picture, accepting and having confidence in the fact that there is more to our experiences than immediately meets the eye. Being open to synchronicity also means that we have to understand that our lives are filled with both positive and negative events. Once we can recognize that one event is neither more desirable nor better than the other ?they all have an overall purpose in our lives -- then we are truly ready to listen to the messages the universe gives us.

While we may not be able to see everything in our lives as being synchronous, we can certainly use hindsight to be more aware of how the universe guides us. This sense of wonder at the mysteries of the universe and the interconnectedness present in our lives will help us see our overall ways of being and will in turn make it easier to work more consciously towards our spiritual evolution.

127.Being A Strong Container Grounding Ourselves

We often hear people telling us to ground ourselves, but we may not be sure what that means, and how we might do it. Grounding ourselves is a way of bringing ourselves literally back to earth. Some of us are more prone than others to essentially leaving our bodies to and not being firmly rooted in our bodies. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, but while we are living on the earth plane, it is best to stay grounded in our body.

One of the easiest ways to ground ourselves is to bring our attention to our breath as it enters and leaves our bodies. After about ten breaths, we will probably find that we feel much more connected to our physical selves. We might then bring our awareness to the sensations in our bodies, moving from our head down to our feet, exploring and inquiring. Just a few minutes of this can bring us home to bodies and to the earth, and this is what it means to ground ourselves.

We can go further by imagining that we have roots growing out of the bottoms of our feet connecting us to the earth. The roots flow with us so we can we always move, but at the same time, they keep us grounded. We receive powerful energy from the earth, just as we do from the forms of energy we associate with the sky, and our body is a tool that brings these two energies together in a sacred union. When we are grounded, we essentially become a strong container in which our spirits can safely and productively dwell. This is why grounding ourselves everyday, especially at the beginning of the day, is such a

beneficial practice. Fortunately, it’s as simple as bringing our conscious awareness to our bodies and the earth on which we walk.

128.Part Of The Process Feeling Stuck

When we feel stuck in our lives it’s important to take stock of what is going on and find out if there is something we are doing or not doing that is keeping us stuck. Sometimes the situation is out of our control, and we need to look within to find the patience required to wait with equanimity until things move forward again. Many times, though, we can find the source of our stagnation in our own hearts and minds.

Sometimes we are clinging to old ideas about reality and we need to make adjustments that will bring us back in tune with life, so we can flow again. Sometimes we find that fear of change is what’s keeping us stuck, and we can resolve to find ways of facing that fear.

If introspection does not provide the answers we need, it can sometimes be helpful to ask those around you if they notice anything obvious that you might not be able to see.

Remember to ask someone whom you can trust to be kind and sensitive as well as honest. Try to let go of your resistance because whenever there is something we can’t see ourselves, it’s because we don’t want to see it. Try to listen with an open mind, and remember that you are always the final judge of what you need. Anything offered to us from an outside source will need to be processed within before its wisdom can take hold.

In all this, be kind to yourself and remember that we all get stuck sometimes. Think of it as a part of your process, a necessary step on your journey, rather than as a problem that shouldn’t be happening. This can help to keep your frustration at bay and give you the space you need to take a deep breath and really figure out what’s going on.

129.The Kaleidoscope Of Life Living Together Differently

We tend to gravitate toward people who are most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their

outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance. Even in our closest circle of friends and family, though, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life. We can choose to resist, but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life.

As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are currently thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them,

confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us

absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off, and carry on. This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite and can’t discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of nonbeing or in the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty.

No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges. We will always run into people that are different from us, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight-or-flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher, more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing, and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.

130.Enduring Discomfort Missing Our Old Habits

Whenever we make the effort to free ourselves of an addiction or a habit we no longer need, we are often surprised to find ourselves missing the old pattern as we would a familiar friend. This sounds counterintuitive, because we think we should instinctively gravitate toward what is good for us. Yet, it makes a lot of sense when you consider that we humans are creatures of habit. This is why we gravitate to people and places—and patterns of behavior—that make us feel comfortable. Therefore, many of the habits we form are not conscious and are based instead on learned behavior from role models who were not always making the healthiest decisions.

Most addictions begin as a way of avoiding feelings that are extremely uncomfortable, so it makes sense that stopping the addiction means a fair amount of discomfort for a time. The same is also true of habits that we have developed over time that we are ready to release. Just knowing that this is hard, and having compassion for ourselves as we work through this process, can help us to stay the course when we feel the urge to backtrack. It’s also helpful to remember that in time we will establish new, healthier patterns, and the yearning for the old ones will disappear. Eventually, we will instinctively reach for things that are good for us, and the longing for positive change may form the basis of a new habit.

The only way to get to this new place is to endure a time of difficulty, which is a

challenge we can confidently handle, if we remember that it will lead to the change we seek in our lives. Our bodies, hearts, and minds always need time to adjust to a new way of doing things, but they will adapt, and even become our allies, if we remain true to our vision of a new way.

131.Staying Open And Fluid

Judgment Versus Opinion

Most of us understand that when we judge someone, or someone judges us, it is a

negative emotional experience. As a result, we naturally want to avoid being judgmental, but this gets confusing when we feel we have to suppress thoughts that could actually be offering us guidance. For example, we may meet someone new and suppress a negative feeling about them, thinking that we don’t want to fall into the trap of being judgmental. Later, though, it may turn out that paying attention to that thought could have helped us take care of ourselves or someone else.

It is important to learn to distinguish inner guidance, and having an opinion, from judgment, otherwise we run the risk of not listening to our intuition and not allowing ourselves to form opinions. Inner guidance and opinions both help us to interact more intelligently in the world, so we don’t want to throw them out in an effort to avoid being judgmental. Our intuition usually makes itself known to us in a flash, and often has a physical component—a flutter in our stomachs, sweaty palms, or a chill. When we use this information to help us navigate a situation, we always benefit. Similarly, having an opinion about a person or an idea allows us to converse about it in a focused way with intention. Listening to our intuition and forming opinions are both positive outcomes of our ability to interpret the information that comes our way.

When we make a judgment, on the other hand, we attempt to have a final say on whether someone or something is inherently good or bad. Judgments close us down instead of opening us up; opinions have a lighter quality and are amenable to change. Once a judgment has been made, there is no more conversation or consideration, whereas

opinions invite further debate. Intuition guides us from moment to moment, but, unlike judgment, never makes a final decree. In other words, it is only healthy to be open to the information we receive and to allow ourselves to process that information. As long as we stay open and fluid, we can trust that we have not fallen prey to the trap of judgment.

132.Freeing Up Energy Healing What Hurts

Many of us go through our lives being aware of a well of pain that has been under our daily awareness for so long we aren’t even sure where it comes from. It almost seems as if it’s part of who we are, or the way we see the world, but it’s important to realize that this pain is something that needs to be acknowledged and processed. The longer we sit on it, the harder it is to work through, and the more likely it is that we will be forced to acknowledge it as it makes itself known to us in ways we can’t predict. Rather than waiting for this to happen, we can empower ourselves by identifying the pain and resolving to take action toward healing it.

The very thought of this brings up feelings of resistance in most of us, especially if, on the surface, our lives seem to be in order. It’s difficult to dig up the past and go into it unless we are being seriously inconvenienced by the hurt. The thing is, when we are

carrying the burden of our unprocessed pain, sooner or later it will inconvenience us. If we can be brave and proactive, we can save ourselves a lot of future suffering and free up the energy that is tied up in keeping the pain down.

There are many ways to do this, but the first step is to recognize the pain and honor it by moving our awareness into it. In this process, even if it’s just five minutes during

meditation, we will begin to have a sense of what the pain is made of. It might be fear of abandonment, childhood abuse, anger at being mistreated, or some other long held wound. As we sit with the pain, we will also have a sense of whether we can deal with it by ourselves or not. It may be time to work with a counselor or form a healing circle with close friends. Whatever path you choose, resolve to go deep into the pain so that you can release it fully, and set yourself free. Remember, it is never too late in life to heal what hurts, and there is never a better time than now.

133.Right Where We Are Enlightenment At Home

Many spiritual seekers feel called to far-flung places across the globe in the interest of pursuing the path of their enlightenment. This may be the right course of action for certain people, but it is by no means necessary to attain an enlightened consciousness. Enlightenment can take root anywhere on earth as long as the seeker is an open and ready vessel for higher consciousness. All we need is a powerful intention and a willingness to do the work necessary to move forward on our path.

In terms of spiritual practice, at this moment there are more tools available to more

people than at any other time in history. We have access to so much wisdom through the vehicles of books, magazines, the Internet, television, and film. In addition, the

time-honored practice of meditation is free, and sitting quietly every day, listening to the universe, is a great way to start the journey within. There is further inspiration in the fact that the greatest teachers we have are our own life experiences, and they come to us every day with new lessons and new opportunities to learn. If we look at the people around us, we may realize that we have a spiritual community already intact. If we don’t, we can find one, if not in our own neighborhood then online.

Meanwhile, if we feel called to travel in search of teachers and experiences, then by all means we should. But if we can’t go to India, or Burma, or Indonesia, or if we don’t have the desire, this is not an obstacle in terms of our spiritual development. In fact, we may simply be aware that our time and energy is best spent in our own homes with our meditation practice and all the complications and joys of our own lives. We can

confidently stay in one place, knowing that everything we need to attain enlightenment is always available right where we are.

134.Bringing Inspiration Into Form Putting Our Tools To Use

Every craftsperson has a toolbox full of tools and a number of techniques to help them bring inspiration into form. In the same way, throughout our lives, we have discovered our own life tools and techniques—the ways and means that have helped us create our lives up to this point. Sometimes we forget about the tools and skills we’ve acquired, and we wonder why we aren’t moving forward. At times like these, it might just be a matter of remembering what we already know, and rediscovering the tools we already have at our disposal.

In the process of becoming who we are and creating our lives, we have all gone through the experience of being inspired to do something and then finding the tools we needed to do it. If we look back, we may be able to remember that we used, for example, the tool of writing every day in order to clarify our intentions. We may also have used the tools of ritual, meditation, or visualization to make something happen. In addition, we may have been fueled by a new idea about how the universe works, which is what gave us the inspiration to use these tools.

In order for ideas to be powerful, they must be imbued with the energy of our

engagement with them, and in order for tools to be effective they must be put to use. This sounds obvious, but often we fall into the habit of thinking we are engaging with ideas and using tools by virtue of the fact that we are reading about them, or listening to other people talk about them. In truth, using our tools is a very personal action, one we must take on behalf of ourselves. Like artists, we are each unique and no two of us will receive the same inspiration, nor will we bring it into form in the same two ways. To discover the truth of our own vision, we must take action by remembering our tools and putting them to use.

135.Living For Ourselves Trying To Please Others

Most of us come to a point in our lives when we question why we are doing what we are doing, and many of us come to realize that we may be living our lives in an effort to make our parents happy. This realization can dawn when we are in our 20s, our 40s, or even later, depending upon how tight a hold our family of origin has on our psyche. We may feel shocked or depressed by this information, but we can trust that it is coming to us at this time because we are ready to find out what it would mean to live our lives for ourselves, following the call of our own soul, and refusing any longer to be beholden to someone else’s expectations.

One of the most common reasons we are so tied into making our parents, or others, happy, is that we were not properly mirrored when we were children. We were not honored as individuals in our own right, with a will and purpose of our own, to be determined by our own unfolding. As a result, we learned to look outside of ourselves for approval, support, and direction rather than look within. The good news is that the part of us that was not adequately nurtured is still there, inside us, like a seed that has not yet received the

sunlight and moisture it needs to open and to allow its inner contents to unfurl. It is never too late to provide ourselves with what we need to awaken this inner being.

There are many ways to create a safe container for ourselves so that we can turn within and shine the light of awareness there. We may join a support group, go to therapy, or start a practice of journaling every day for half an hour. This experience of becoming is well worth the difficult work that may be required of us to get there. In whatever process we choose, we may feel worse before we feel better, but we will ultimately find out how to live our lives for ourselves and how to make ourselves happy.

136.A Full Embrace Excluding Nothing Finding Peace Within

Most people agree that a more peaceful world would be an ideal situation for all living creatures. However, we often seem stumped as to how to bring this ideal situation into being. If we are to have true peace in this world, each one of us must find it in ourselves first. If we don’t like ourselves, for example, we probably won’t like those around us. If we are in a constant state of inner conflict, then we will probably manifest conflict in the world. If we have fighting within our families, there can be no peace in the world. We must shine the light of inquiry on our internal struggles, because this is the only place we can really create change.

When we initiate the process of looking inside ourselves for the meaning of peace, we will begin to understand why it has always been so difficult to come by. This in itself will enable us to be compassionate toward the many people in the world who find themselves caught up in conflicts both personal and universal. We may have an experience of peace that we can call up in ourselves to remind us of what we want to create, but if we are

human we will also feel the pull in the opposite direction—the desire to defend ourselves, to keep what we feel belongs to us, to protect our loved ones and our cherished ideals, and the anger we feel when threatened. This awareness is important because we cannot truly know peace until we understand the many tendencies and passions that threaten our ability to find it. Peace necessarily includes, even as it transcends, all of our primal energy, much of which has been expressed in ways that contradict peace.

Being at peace with ourselves is not about denying or rejecting any part of ourselves. On the contrary, in order to be at peace we must be willing and able to hold ourselves, in all our complexity, in a full embrace that excludes nothing. This is perhaps the most difficult part for many of us, because we want so much to disown the negative aspects of our humanity. Ironically, though, true peace begins with a willingness to take responsibility for our humanity so that we might ultimately transform it in the light of our love.

137.Intuitive Guidance From Within Using Yourself As A Pendulum

Learning to trust our intuition is something that can connect us with our higher selves. Sometimes it might not seem easy to do this. Our thoughts and minds often get in the way. But by accessing our innermost self, we will find that the information we receive is

usually what we truly need at that moment. One of the techniques that allows us to really get in touch with our deepest font of wisdom is using our body as a pendulum. The simple act of letting our physical being lead us in a certain direction can offer us extremely deep insights and help us find the answers we seek.

Many of us may have tried using a pendulum or crystal on a chain as a dousing tool to acquire the information we need to make decisions or even find lost objects. Using our bodies puts us much more closely in tune with our being. The process of using your body as a pendulum is to ask your higher self a question and wait for your body to respond in either a forward-tilting or backward-tilting motion. The first step is to really understand how our higher self communicates with us by centering our bodies, asking ourselves the directions for "yes" and "no," and noting which way our body moves. For a lot of people a forward motion is "yes," and your body tilting backward is a "no" answer. It is easier to start with simple questions at first to understand how our higher self communicates with us. As we become more used to the messages we receive and how we process them, we can start asking for more specific things such as what dosage of herbs to take or which foods would best nour! ish our bodies. Using this technique in the grocery store or when shopping for vitamins and remedies can be extremely helpful.

Since we are always present in our bodies, understanding how we can use our bodies as pendulums is a tool we can use at any given moment in our lives. Letting our bodies tell us what is happening inside of us will in turn help to guide us through not just daily but also major life decisions. The more we allow our bodies to open up and share with us the connection it has with our deeper self, the better able we will be to truly access the knowledge we hold so deeply within.

138.Walking With Awareness Mindful Walking

Many of us take the benefits of walking for granted. Each day we limit the steps we take by driving or sitting for long periods of time. But walking even a few blocks a day has unlimited benefits, not only for our health but for our spirit. As we walk, we connect with the earth.

Even when walking on concrete the earth is still beneath us, supporting us. Walking lets our body remember simpler times when life was less complicated. This helps us slow down to the speed of our body and take the time to integrate the natural flow of life into our cellular tissue. Instead of running from place to place or thinking about how much more we can fit into our day, walking allows us to exist in the moment.

Each step we take can lead us to becoming more mindful of ourselves and our feelings. Walking slows us down enough not only to pay attention to where we are in our body but also to our breath. Taking time to simply notice our breath while we walk, through the

length of our inhales and exhales, and becoming attuned to the way in which we breathe is taking a step toward mindfulness. When we become more mindful, we gradually increase our awareness of the environment around us and start to recognize that the normal flow of our thoughts and feelings are not always related to where we are in the present moment. Gradually we realize that the connection we have with the earth and the ground beneath our feet is all that is. By walking and practicing breathing mindfully, we gain a sense of calm and tranquility. The problems and troubles of the day slowly fade away because we are in the "now."

The simplicity and ease of a walking practice allows us to create time, space, and an awareness of our surroundings and of the wonders that lie within. Taking a few moments to walk each day and become more aware of our breath will open the door for the beauty of the world around us to come in.

139.Sharing The Full Story Calling On Friends

When we are going through a difficult time, we may hesitate to call even our best friends because we don’t want to burden them with our troubles. This can be especially true if we’ve been going through a series of challenges, and we’re starting to feel as if we sound like a broken record. It is important to remember that at times like these our friends sincerely want to be there for us whenever they can. We can always check with them to make sure it’s a good time for them before we start talking, and if it’s not a good time, we can call back at another time, or call another friend.

We know for ourselves that when we have a good friend, we don’t want them to suffer alone when we are just a phone call away. We want them to call us and share their sorrows with us, as well as their joys, because this is what sharing a life through

friendship is about. It is at our lowest points that we really need to rely on our friends without worrying that we are a burden. If you are feeling self-conscious about having a tough time, you can bring this fact into the conversation by acknowledging it. Chances are your friend will reassure you that she is happy to be there for you. In fact, rather than feeling taxed, most of us feel better when we have helped a friend simply by listening empathically while they share their feelings.

Without our friends, we would be hard pressed to get through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. If we leave our friends out of our process when the going gets tough, our friendships can begin to feel shallow. On the other hand, when we include our friends in the full story of our life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—we build authentic relationships in which we can be who we truly are. When we do this, we invite our friends to bring their whole selves to the relationship as well.

140. Nothing Big Required You Are Enough

Most of us have the feeling that we are here to accomplish something big in our lives, and if we haven’t done something that fits the bill we may feel as if we are waiting. We may feel incomplete, or empty, as if our lives don’t yet make sense to us, because they don’t line up with our idea of major accomplishment. In some cases, this may be because we really are meant to do something that we haven’t yet done. But in most cases, we can let ourselves off the hook with the realization that just being here, being ourselves, is enough.

As we live our lives in this world, we share our energy and our spirit with the people around us in numerous ways. Our influence touches their lives and, through them,

touches the lives of many more people. When we strive to live our lives to the fullest and to become our true selves, we are doing something big on an inner level, and that is more than enough to make sense of our being here on this planet at this time. There is no need to hold ourselves to an old idea in the back of our minds that we need to make headlines or single-handedly save the world in order to validate our existence.

We can each look within our hearts to discover what is true for us, what gives our lives meaning, and what excites us. We can release ourselves from any pressure to perform that comes from outside of our inner sense of purpose. Staying in tune with our own values and living our lives in tune with our own vision is all we need in order to fulfill our time here. Our lives are a process of becoming so that we cannot help but cocreate; being who we are, responding to each moment as it comes, we can trust that this is enough.

141.Learning To Trust Divine Guidance Trial And Error

Anyone who has asked for divine guidance knows that it can be challenging to trust it when it comes. This is because divine guidance comes in many forms and it is sometimes hard to locate it. We aren’t sure if we are meant to trust our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, or our intuitions to be the carriers of divine wisdom. We are not sure if advice from a friend is the form in which the guidance has come into the world, or if our own opinion is the source of wisdom we need to take seriously. The ability to sort all this out comes with trial and error, and the best way to learn to recognize divine guidance is to engage in the process of asking and receiving.

Sometimes when we ask for guidance, we already have a sense of what we want to hear. At such times, receiving guidance can be difficult, because we don’t want to hear anything that appears to be in opposition to our desire. Therefore, one of the most

important qualities we need to cultivate if we are to receive guidance is an open mind. It helps to acknowledge what we want, and then to symbolically set it aside, making room for whatever wisdom comes through to us.

Cultivating an active relationship with the divine is the essential ingredient to being able to receive and trust guidance when it comes our way. We can make a daily practice of this by using a set of runes, a deck of cards, or a pendulum. We can also use our journals, developing a relationship with the divine through the written word. As we request and

receive guidance, we might take notes on our experiences. Over time we will begin to recognize when we were able to hear correctly and when we were not. In this way, we will gradually attune ourselves to our particular relationship with the divine. Begin to trust the guidance you are receiving and soon you will find it flowing with ease.

142.Acknowledging History Permission From The Land

When we acknowledge that every thing on our planet has its own energy and spirit, we have the opportunity to begin acting from that knowledge. Rather than thinking of rocks and fallen leaves as inanimate objects, we can remember that these items carry the energy of their past and their surroundings into the present moment before becoming something else. Just as we are molecules in motion, so are all things in the material world. Working in harmony with the universe means acknowledging that we are the same as the land and the stars, that we are all connected, and that we are all in a state of becoming.

It may seem obvious for us to behave with respect and ask permission of an overarching spirit before we enter a sacred place, or set foot upon some place with a history that makes us deeply aware of its past. But we can extend that same respect to any area of land. Whether we are merely considering stepping on it for recreation, or we have plans for landscaping, building, or moving it into an existing structure, we can show our respect for all the spirits that have come before us by connecting to the underlying energy. Once we have done that, we can take a moment to ask permission before we move in, remodel, or build in that space.

Beneath the surface of even the smallest plot of land lie years and years of history. Each speck of dust, grain of sand, and clod of earth has history that dates from the beginning of time before it became one of the elements that make up our planet. By thinking before we attempt to claim ownership over the land, we really acknowledge that we can never really own it. Instead we can work with it to create something new in that space. When we connect to all the energies that make up the land around us, we honor them and connect to all who have come before us, and we can be guided by their voices and their ancient wisdom.

143.Have Fun And Save The Planet Think Globally, Eat Locally

We all know that our planet needs our help right now, but we often feel unsure about what to do, where to make an effort, and what will really help. The good news is that we can heal the planet on a daily basis simply by buying and eating food that is grown

locally. Food that has been transported long distances doesn’t contain much life force by the time it gets to your kitchen. Making a commitment to shop, buy, and eat locally is not only a very important part of creating positive change, it can also be delicious fun.

One of the best places to begin the adventure of eating locally is a farmer’s market. Stalls

brim with fresh fruits and vegetables grown on nearby farms. Not only is this good for the environment, it’s good for the farmers since they benefit from selling directly to the consumer. The consumer benefits, too, from the intimate experience of buying food from the hand of the person who grew it. In addition, the food is fresher and more diverse. In supermarkets, particular varieties of fruits and vegetables are favored due to their ability to survive transport to a far destination. Alternately, at a farmer’s market, you will find versions of the fruits and vegetables you know that will surprise and delight your

senses—green striped heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, white carrots, and edible flowers, just to name a few.

Make an effort to buy as much of your food as possible directly from local farmers. You will become one of a growing number of people eating delicious food to save the planet and having fun doing it.

144.Tending The Emotions Having A Breakdown

Most of us have had the experience of holding back our emotions for such a long period of time that when they finally come out, we have something resembling a breakdown. For a certain period of time, the overwhelming flood of feelings coursing through our bodies consumes us, and we stop functioning. Often, these outbursts take us by surprise, welling up within us as we drive to or from work, watch a movie, or engage in some otherwise mundane task. We may feel like we do not know what triggered us, or if we do know, it does not make sense of our overpowering emotional response. This is because we are releasing feelings that have accumulated over a long period of time, and whatever inspired the release was just a catalyst for a much larger, much needed catharsis.

When we find ourselves in the midst of such an experience, it is important that we allow it to happen, rather than fight it or try to shut down. Wherever we are, we can try to find a private, safe place in which to let our feelings out. If we can not access such a place

immediately, we can promise to set aside some time for ourselves at our earliest possible convenience, perhaps taking a day off work. The important thing is that we need to give our emotional system some much-needed attention. It is essential that we allow ourselves to release the pent-up emotions inside ourselves so that they do not create imbalances in our bodies and minds.

When you are feeling better, make a plan to find a way to process your emotions more regularly. You can do this by employing a therapist or making a regular date to talk to a trusted friend. Journaling can also be a great way to acknowledge and release your

emotions, as can certain forms of meditation. Making room in your life for tending your emotions on a regular basis will keep you healthy, balanced, and ready for life.

145.A Sign Of Imbalance Overachieving and Overreaching

Overachievers are people who have achieved but still feel the need to do more, creating an imbalance in their lives. People who exhibit this behavior may be trying to

compensate for feelings of insecurity and doubts about their worth. They may be chasing unresolved issues from their past into the present, or they might not be looking at their lives as a whole, but judging themselves based only on one aspect of their being. If this is a word that we’ve heard used with respect to our choices and lifestyle, it is worth examining in order to balance our lives for a more rewarding experience.

If we find that we cannot allow ourselves to experience and enjoy the present moment, putting pleasure off into some distant future, it may be a sign that we are being driven to achieve more than is truly necessary. Pushing ourselves beyond the point of exhaustion, or to the exclusion of important people in our lives, robs us of true and meaningful joy. Once we make the connection to the eternal part of us, it can nourish us and allow our priorities to shift from chasing after an elusive feeling to being fully present in the moment so that we can live our lives in the now.

Sometimes we need to look to those we love and admire in order to realize what we value about life. We can take time to note what we like about others, and then turn the mirror to reflect the light of those same words and feelings toward ourselves. It can be quite a revelation to see ourselves in this nourishing light. When we can put the energy that we’ve been devoting to a phantom sense of achievement into the truly satisfying aspects of our lives, we can restore the balance between our inner and outer worlds and experience true joyful peace.

146.Your Wellspring Of Energy A Stress-Free Home

Sometimes our lives are so busy that we treat our homes as if they were impersonal places that we merely pass through. But we can make certain that our homes truly feel like our sanctuaries by taking the time to tend to them like gardens, which need care in order to offer us the beauty of their blooms. When we take the time to treat our homes like beloved treasures, we can shift their energy from being merely places to being wellsprings for the replenishment of our energy.

Consider that homes are the outer reflections of those who live within. If we feel that the current appearance clashes with how we’d like to see ourselves, it can keep us from fully allowing our light to shine. Updating our homes to reflect our inner landscape need not involve massive redecorating or a large outlay of money. Small things can make a big difference, like simply moving items so that we constantly gaze upon the things we love the most, liberating the treasures we’ve hidden in our closets, using our best dishes and making small repairs. Organizing and cleaning is a no-cost way to remove chaos from our homes and introduce more calm. Lovingly rejuvenating our personal space can become a creative project that increases the flow of good throughout all aspects of our lives and increases our feeling of connection. We can give old things new life by

donating them to charity, opening space for newness to enter. Removing stress from our homes can be as simple as putting o! ur bills into pretty boxes and choosing a specific

time to deal with them, or removing clutter so that we and our energy can move freely throughout our space.

Simplifying our space lets our imagination and energy roam free. We can choose to prioritize our homes, making them the true heart of our family’s activities. Then we are free to focus on what really matters—time to ourselves, to share with loved ones, and to replenish our energy so that we have more to share with each other and with the world.

147.A Life-Altering Decision Divorce With Grace

Like the act of marriage that binds two people together, divorce is the result of a

life-altering decision. It is the dissolving of a relationship that we believed would last our whole lives. We may not even be able to articulate how we got to this place, yet we may also feel we have no choice but to sever this tie. Whatever we feel, we need the support of the friends and family who will stand by us no matter what we decide. At some point, we may need to be challenged to look deeper inside ourselves as we make this very important decision, but what we need most of all is unconditional love and loyalty.

Divorce is a process that, once in motion, becomes difficult to stop, and this can be

painful if we find ourselves having second thoughts. We may feel that we should do more to save the marriage, or we may wonder if there is something about ourselves that we could fix or change instead of going through with this painful separation. On the other hand, we may be seeing in hindsight that our marriage was truly only meant to last for a short time so that we could learn something we needed to know. Whatever the case, we need friends who will allow us to linger in confusion when we don’t have the answers and who will support us whether we find ways to reconcile and stay married or whether we walk away.

Of course, the most essential ally we have lives inside our hearts and speaks to us from within. We can trust this inner guide to help us choose people who will support us in kind and loving ways as we navigate the rough terrain of confusion and loss. Sometimes all we can do is look to the horizon, remembering that we will get through this time, and no matter what happens we will once again feel whole.

148.Cleansing Nature Rain

There are times when we might feel the need to wash away all of our troubles and call forth freshness into our lives. Since the most cleansing substance on this earth is probably water, we can think of the joy rain brings as an energetic bath, rejuvenating our minds, bodies, and souls. Just being able to spend a few moments every time it rains to become aware of the healing powers water brings to us can renew us in so many ways. As we do this we will find that the more we appreciate the universe’s gift to us in the form of rain, the more we can see that a gentle rain shower is a strong reflective tool that has the ability

to cleanse our entire being.

The next time it rains might be a good chance to experience the rain through all of your senses, allowing you to truly understand the importance of each and every drop of water. First, take a few minutes to look outside and notice how each individual raindrop seems to come down in a continual stream. By noticing this you can contemplate how it takes many small accomplishments to create the whole of your existence for nothing exists in isolation. Then you might wish to focus your attention on the sound of the rainfall, letting the sounds of drops penetrate into the innermost recesses of your self. Listening in this way may bring you a greater sense of connection with nature and the world around you, knowing that the sounds you hear are an integral part of not just the physical sustenance you require but that they also nourish your spirit.

Consciously using our senses to feel nature’s healing energy as it comes to us in the form of rain is an act of internal cleansing. Just as the rain physically washes over the earth and rinses out any impurities and imperfections, it also bathes our spirit in the joy that comes from knowing that we are one with the world around us.

149.Unifier Of Opposites The Color Green

Green is a combination of the colors yellow and blue, each of which brings its own unique energy to the overall feeling of the color green. Blue exudes calm and peace, while yellow radiates liveliness and high levels of energy. As a marriage between these two very different colors, green is a unifier of opposites, offering both the excitement of yellow and the tranquility of blue. It energizes blue’s passivity and soothes yellow’s intensity, inspiring us to be both active and peaceful at the same time. It is a mainstay of the seasons of spring and summer, thus symbolizing birth and growth.

Green is one of the reasons that spring instigates so much excitement and activity. As a visual harbinger of the end of winter, green stems and leaves shoot up and out from the dark branches of trees and the muddy ground, letting us know that it’s safe for us to come out, too. In this way, green invites us to shed our layers and open ourselves to the outside world, not in a frantic way, but with an easygoing excitement that draws us outside just to sniff the spring air. Unlike almost any other color, green seems to have its own smell, an intoxicating combination of sun and sky—earthy, bright, and clean. In the best-case scenario, it stops us in our tracks and reminds us to appreciate the great experience of simply being alive.

Green balances our energy so that, in looking at it, we feel confident that growth is inevitable. It also gives us the energy to contribute to the process of growth, to nurture ourselves appropriately, without becoming overly attached to our part in the process. Green reminds us to let go and let nature do her work, while at the same time giving us the energy to do our own.

150.Accepting Yourself A Dynamic Choice-Maker

There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person. There are choices and actions that lead us in different directions, and it is through those choices and actions that we create our realities. Sometimes we choose or do something that takes us in the opposite direction of the reality we want to create for ourselves. When we do this, we feel

bad—uneasy, unhappy, unsure. We might go so far as to label ourselves ―bad‖ when a situation like this arises. Instead of labeling ourselves, though, we could simply

acknowledge that we made a choice that lead us down a particular path, and then let it go, forgiving ourselves and preparing for our next opportunity to choose, and act, in ways that support our best intentions.

Many of us experienced childhoods in which the words good and bad were used as weapons to control us—you were good if you did what you were told and bad if you didn’t. This kind of discipline undermines a person’s ability to find their own moral

center and to trust and be guided by their own inner self. If you were raised this way, you may find yourself feeling shockwaves of badness when you do something you were taught was wrong, even if now you don’t agree that it’s bad. Conversely, you may feel good when you do what you learned was right. Notice how this puts you in something of a straitjacket. An important part of our spiritual unfolding requires that we grow beyond what we learned and take responsibility for our own liberation in our own terms.

You are a human being with every right to be here, learning and exploring. To label yourself good or bad is to think too small. What you are is a decision-maker and every moment provides you the opportunity to move in the direction of your higher self or in the direction of stagnation or degradation. In the end, only you know the difference. If you find yourself going into self-judgment, try to stop yourself as soon as you can and come back to center. Know that you are not good or bad, you are simply you.

151.The Journey Of Commitment Entering Into Commitment

Loving and committing to another person is a spiritual process whether that means a wedding or any other type of commitment ceremony. So often when we enter into a relationship we allow our emotions to lead us forward without thinking more deeply about what true commitment involves. If we can understand that sharing our lives with another person is not just based on love, but also on the hard work of being able to compromise and enter into a dialogue with them, then we are much more likely to find the key to having a successful relationship with our partners. So many people have not experienced a loving relationship between their own parents and therefore have no role model of what love should feel like or look like.

Many of us have been exposed to the idea that love should be romantic and sweep us off our feet. While this is a natural part of any relationship, the true test of our love comes from our willingness to explore this world with another person; to not only share in the

delights that we encounter but also to negotiate the bumps in the road together. Generally this often takes the form of a mutual exchange of ideas, but, because any relationship is based on the needs and experiences of two people, we might also face a certain amount of misunderstanding. Learning to be open and receptive to our partners and to treat their wants and ideas with respect can help us to navigate even the most difficult situations. One way to do this is to take a deep breath, holding our partner in a space of love, allowing ourselves to listen fully with our hearts to what they have to say. Should this become difficult to do, we can also turn toward people whose relationships we admire for advice or guidance. Knowing that there are resources out there to help us and being up for exploring them with our partner will only serve to deepen and strengthen our relationship.

Entering into a committed relationship is in fact a spiritual journey that we undertake with another person. By being able to love and care for someone else with an open heart, we will find that we can reach a greater level of personal transformation, evolving along our path and learning powerful lessons about ourselves that we might not otherwise be able to do on our own.

152.Life As We Know It The Status Quo

When our lives are going well, and sometimes even when they aren’t, we may find

ourselves feeling very attached to the status quo of our existence--life as we know it. It is a very human tendency to resist change as though it were possible to simply decide not to do it, or have it in our lives. But change will come and the status quo will go, sooner or later, with our consent or without it. We may find at the end of the day that we feel considerably more empowered when we find the courage to ally ourselves with the universal force of change, rather than working against it.

Of course, the answer is not to go about changing things at random, without regard to whether they are working or not. There is a time and place for stability and the preservation of what has been gained over time. In fact, the ability to stabilize and preserve what is serving us is part of what helps us to survive and thrive. The problem comes when we become more attached to preserving the status quo than to honoring the universal givens of growth and change. For example, if we allow a situation we are in to remain stagnant simply because we are comfortable, it may be time for us to summon up the courage to challenge the status quo.

This may be painful at times, or surprisingly liberating, and it will most likely be a little of both. Underneath the discomfort, we will probably find excitement and energy as we take the risk of unblocking the natural flow of energy in our lives. It is like dismantling a dam inside ourselves, because most of the work involves clearing our own inner obstacles so that the river of our life can flow unobstructed. Once we remove the obstacles, we can simply go with the flow, trusting the changes that follow.

153.Harmonizing with the Universe The Benefits of Singing

Singing is an act of vibration. It takes music from the realm of the unformed-- whether that is in your mind or from that magical space of inspiration--and moves it from within to without. From the first breath singing moves the energy in a circular way inside your body. As the breath fills your lungs, it brushes against the second and third chakras—the centers of creation and honoring self and others. Instead of merely exhaling, pushing the air past the fourth and fifth chakras where heart charka and the center of will and

intention reside, singing engages both the heart and mind. Sound vibrations from vocal chords resonate in the sinus cavities, filling the head with motion and sound while the brain lights up with the processing of the mathematics of music. This marriage of

activities brings the third eye into play and opens the door for inspiration from the crown chakra before sending the sound out into the world.

Once the vibration begins, it is sustained with each note, moving throughout your body and the space around you. This can help you to harmonize your frequency with the world and with the divine. The use of the voice can bring about catharsis, a cleansing from the expression of emotion, which is why we feel better after singing certain types of songs. All of this occurs even if we are not conscious of what we are singing, but when we really connect with an intention, the power of the voice and music together are powerful tools in creation.

Even if you are not a singer by nature or talent, you are not left out. If you have a voice, it is your birthright to celebrate life with song. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel you have a nice voice. Chanting or humming, singing solo or with others, your voice is yours to enjoy. Whether you sing along to the radio or use vocalization as part of your meditation time, singing and harmonizing are healing activities that bring your body’s vibrations into alignment with the universe.

154.Unblocking The Ally Habitual Anger

Sometimes when we feel anger, it is coming from a deep place that demands

acknowledgment and expression. At these times, it is important that we find healthy ways to honor our anger, remembering how dangerous it is to repress it. However, anger can also become a habit, our go-to emotion whenever things go wrong. Often this is because, for whatever reason, we feel more comfortable expressing anger than we do other emotions, like sadness. It can also be that getting angry gives us the impression that

we’ve done something about our problem. In these cases, our habitual anger is inhibiting both our ability to express our other emotions and to take action in our lives.

If it’s true that anger is functioning this way in your life, the first thing you might want to try is to notice when you get angry. You might begin to see a pattern of some kind. For example, you could notice that it is always your first response or that it comes up a lot in one particular situation. If the pattern doesn’t become clear right away, you could try

keeping a journal about when you get angry and see if you can find any underlying

meaning. The good thing about keeping a journal is that you can explore your anger more deeply in it—from examining who in your family of origin expressed a lot of anger to how you feel when you encounter anger in others. This kind of awareness can be a formidable agent of transformation.

Anger can be a powerful ally, since it is filled with energy that we can harness and use to create change in the world. It is one of the most cathartic emotions, and it can also be a very effective cleanser of the emotional system. However, when it becomes a habit, it actually loses its power to transform and becomes an obstacle to growth. Identifying the role anger plays in your life and restoring it to its proper function can bring new energy and expansiveness to your emotional life.

155.Relating To The Negative The Danger Of Repression

For the last several years, there has been a lot of focus on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not okay to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling. This can lend a kind of superficiality to their relationship with life and relationships with other people. It can also lead them to feel that if a negative thought or feeling comes up, in themselves or someone else, they must immediately block it out. When they do this, they are engaging in the act of repressing a part of themselves that needs to seen, heard, and processed.

When we repress parts of ourselves, they don’t go away so much as they get buried deep within us, and they often come out when we least expect it. On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be fully human, honoring all the thoughts, feelings, and moods that pass through us on a given day, we create a more conscious relationship with ourselves. Instead of blocking out thoughts and feelings that we label as negative, we can simply observe them and then let them go. They only get stuck when we react to them negatively, pushing them down and out of sight where they get lodged in our unconscious minds. A healthier solution might be to develop a practice of following any negative thought we may have with a positive thought. This works well because positive thoughts are many times more powerful than negative thoughts.

Rather than setting our minds up in such a way that we become fearful of the contents of our own consciousness, blocking out anything that is less than 100 percent positive, we might resolve to develop a friendlier attitude toward ourselves, trusting in our inherent goodness. When we recognize our true inner worth, a few dark clouds passing through our minds will not intimidate us. We will see them for what they are—small, dark figures passing through an expansive sky of well-being and truth

156.Setting A Limit To Sit With Emotions How Long

Our emotions color our lives with varying palettes. Sometimes we feel a strong emotion in reaction to something that has happened, but emotions also visit us seemingly out of the blue, flooding us unexpectedly with joy or grief or melancholy. Like the weather, they come and go, influencing our mental state with their particular vibration. Sometimes a difficult emotion hangs around longer than we would like, and we begin to wonder when it will release its hold on us. This is often true of grief stemming from loss, for example, or lingering anger over a past event.

Usually, if we allow ourselves to feel our emotions fully when they come up, they recede naturally, giving way to another and another. When an emotion haunts us, it is often because we are afraid of really feeling it. Emotions like despair and rage are powerful, and it is natural to want to hold them at bay. Certainly, we don’t want to let them take us over so that we say or do things we later regret. When we are facing this kind of situation, it can be helpful to ask the spirit, ―How long do I need to sit with these emotions, how long do I need to feel these emotions before they can pass?‖ If you ask sincerely and wait, an answer will come. Setting a time limit on your engagement with that difficult emotion may be just the technique you need to face it fully.

When you have a sense of how much time you need to spend, set a timer. Sit down and make yourself available to the emotion that has been nagging you. All you have to do is feel it. Avoid getting attached to it or rejecting it. Simply let it ebb and flow within you. Emotions are by their nature cyclical, so you can trust that just as one reaches its apex it will pass. Each time you sit with its presence without either repressing or acting out, you will find that that difficult emotion was the catalyst for much needed emotional healing.

157.The Gift Of This Journey Why We Don’t Remember

Many of us wonder why we do not remember who we were before we were born. We wonder what it was like to be a soul without a body and what it will be like to be one again. Many of us have a strange sense that we do remember, as if we did experience a bodiless existence, but we can’t quite recall the details. We may remember feeling as if we were flying, or as if we were just incredibly light and unrestricted in our movements. Still, most of us do not recall anything in detail about the time before we incarnated into a human body.

There are many possible reasons for this deep forgetting, one of which is that

remembering would probably impinge upon our ability to fully commit to this life.

Experiencing life on earth without any memory of an alternative existence allows us to be here completely, and that is what is required in order for us to learn much of what we must learn here. Most of us are not meant to spend our time here preoccupied with

concerns beyond the realm of this lifetime. Instead, it is our job to occupy our bodies and our planet with a fullness that would not be possible if we were constantly aware of another, and extremely different, realm of existence.

There is no doubt that life on earth is difficult in ways that life outside of a body is not. As we modulate our energy to move into a body, our consciousness changes, and this is a necessary change. Forgetting other levels of being protects us from a confused and divided experience. Soon enough, we will be back where we started, so thinking too much about it now is a bit like being on a fascinating journey and spending the whole time thinking about going home. It is more in alignment with our purpose here to be fully present in the gift of this journey, unreservedly offering our energy to the experience we are having right now.

158.Permission To Forgive Ourselves Releasing Guilt

Learning to accept the things that we perceive as wrong can be a difficult task for many of us. Often we have been brought up to accept that it is normal to feel guilty about our actions and that by doing so we will make everything seem alright within ourselves. Even though we might feel that we have a reason to make up for the choices we have made, it is much more important for us to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and positive way, such as through forgiveness and understanding.

When we can look back at our past and really assess what has happened, we begin to realize that there are many dimensions to our actions. While feeling guilty might assuage our feelings at first, it is really only a short-term solution. It is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out. If we truly are able to gaze upon our lives through the lens of compassion, however, we will be able to see that there is much more to what we do and have done than we realize. Perhaps we were simply trying to protect ourselves or others and did the best we could at the time, or maybe we thought we had no other recourse and chose a solution in the heat of the moment. Once we can understand that dwelling in our negative feelings will only make us feel worse, we will come to recognize that it is really only through forgiving ourselves that we can transform our feelings and truly heal any resentment we have about our past.

Giving ourselves permission to feel at peace with our past actions is one of the most positive steps we can take toward living a life free from regrets, disappointments, and guilt. The more we are able to remind ourselves that the true path to a peaceful mind and heart is through acceptance of every part of our lives and actions, the more harmony and inner joy we will experience in all aspects of our lives.

159.People Who Don’t Get It Compassion for All

You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here

on Earth to love one another. To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and this understanding is a blessing. Nevertheless, people who just do not get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, occupy positions of power. It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously.

We all encounter individuals such as this in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life. It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.

It helps sometimes to think of us all as different parts of one psyche. Within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, just as the heart and mind of the world have their dark places. The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it. We increase harmony when we hold on to the light, not allowing it to be clouded by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave

unconsciously. It is easier to accomplish this if we don’t focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead on how increasing our own light will increase that of the overall picture.

When dealing with people who seem very unconscious, it helps to remember that

everyone must find their own way to awakening, and that the experiences they are having are an essential part of their process. Holding them in the glow of our energy may be the best way to awaken theirs. At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry.

160.Zen Commute Discovering Ourselves in Traffic

No one wants to be angry with a fellow human being who is lost or confused, but if we get stuck driving behind one, we may find ourselves feeling wildly, uncharacteristically impatient. It is our earnest goal to have compassion and love for other people, but when one of them cuts us off, we feel personally offended, angry, and hurt. The good news is that by experiencing these difficult emotions, we have the opportunity to see ourselves and change our approach. In that light, being stuck in traffic can become a vital part of our spiritual practice.

Sages of all faiths agree that the current moment is the only thing that really exists. The past and future are equally irrelevant in the presence of the now. Therefore, at the deepest level, there is nowhere to go, because the only place we need to be is here, now. Just reminding ourselves of this in the midst of traffic can be extraordinarily helpful. The Zen mantra ―Nowhere to go / No one to be / Nothing to do‖ can work wonders on our panicky misperception that we need to get somewhere fast. By remaining in the moment, we inevitably get to our destination. We don’t need to push or rush or panic.

Another tool used throughout the ages to maintain enlightened awareness is breath

meditation. The simple act of consciously inhaling and exhaling grounds us in our bodies,

reminding us where we are, who we are, and how precious our life is. When we connect deeply to our own existence in this way, many of the petty thoughts and feelings that can dominate our minds dissolve without any effort. We have breathed our way back to sanity.

From this place of awareness, you can feel compassion for the drivers who are banging their steering wheels and blaring their horns, even if they are honking at you. You know it is not personal; they have simply lost perspective. On your exhale, send out a wish that they, too, find the cool ease of the present moment.

161.Let Yourself Be Carried The Flow of the Universe

The flow of the universe moves through everything. It is in the rocks that form, get pounded into dust, and are blown away. It is in the blossoming of a flower born from a seed planted in the spring. The growth cycle that every human being goes through is part of this natural flow, which is also the current that takes us down life’s paths. When we move with it rather than resisting it, we are riding on the universal wave that allows us to flow with life.

Many people live struggling against this current. They try to use force or resistance to will their lives into happening in the way they think it should. Others move with it like a sailor using the wind, trusting that the universe is taking them exactly where they need to be at all times. This flow is accessible to everyone because it travels through and around us. We are always riding it—it is just a matter of whether we are willing to go with it or we resist it. Choosing to go with the flow is often a matter of relinquishing the notion that we need to be in control at all times.

The flow is always transporting you where you need to go. It is merely a question of

deciding whether you plan on accepting the ride or having it take you there with your feet dragging. Learning to step into it can help you feel a connection to a force that is greater than you and is always there to support you. The decision to go with the flow takes courage because you are surrendering the belief that you need to do everything by yourself. Riding the flow of the universe can be effortless, exhilarating, and unlike

anything you ever expected. When you are receptive to being in it, you open yourself to possibilities that exist beyond the grasp of your control.

As a child, you were naturally swept by the flow. Tears of sadness falling down your face could just as quickly turn to tears of laughter. The mere tiniest wave carrying you forward off the shores of the ocean could transport you into peals of delight.

Our souls feel good when we go with the flow of the universe. All we have to do is make the choice to ride its currents.

162.Finding The Gift Bad Days

We all have days when it feels like the world is against us or that the chaos we are experiencing will never end. One negative circumstance seems to lead to another. You may wonder, on a bad day, whether anything in your life will ever go right again. But a bad day, like any other day, can be a gift. Having a bad day can show you that it is time to slow down, change course, or lighten up. A bad day can help you glean wisdom you might otherwise have overlooked or discounted. Bad days can certainly cause you to experience uncomfortable feelings you would prefer to avoid, yet a bad day may also give you a potent means to learn about yourself.

You may consider a bad day to be one where you have missed an important meeting because your car stalled or the dryer broke or you received a piece of very bad news earlier in the morning. Multiple misfortunes that take place, one after the other, can leave us feeling vulnerable and intensely cognizant of our fragility. Although bad days can only have a long-term negative effect on us if we let them. It is better to ask yourself what you can learn from these kinds of days. The state of your bad day may be an indicator that you need to stay in and hibernate or let go of your growing negativity.

Bad days contribute to the people we become. Though we may feel discouraged and distressed on our bad days, a bad day can teach us patience and perseverance. It is important to remember that your attitude drives your destiny and that one negative

experience does not have to be the beginning of an ongoing stroke of bad luck. A bad day is memorable because it is one day among many good days. Otherwise, we would not even bother to acknowledge it as a bad day. Know, too, that everybody has bad days. You are not alone, the world is not against you. Tomorrow is a brand new day, greet it with love and watch it unfold into perhaps, a better day.

163.Fluid Like a River Living Like Water

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on Earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and cascades down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on Earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a particular time and place, into a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way—just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on. As we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard, but we always keep going. Water can inspire us not to become rigid with fear or hold fast to what is familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past but flows onward without

looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not flee from it, fearful of the dark; instead, it humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than running away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

164.Solace In Service Doing For Others

When we feel bad, often our first instinct is to isolate ourselves and focus on what’s

upsetting us. Sometimes we really do need some downtime, but many times the best way to get out of the blues quickly is to turn our attention to other people. In being of service to others, paradoxically, we often find answers to our own questions and solutions to our own problems. We also end up feeling more connected to the people around us, as well as empowered by the experience of helping someone.

When we reach out to people we can help, we confirm that we are not alone in our own need for support and inspiration, and we also remind ourselves that we are powerful and capable in certain ways. Even as our own problems or moods get the better of us

sometimes, there is always someone else who can use our particular gifts and energy to help them out. They, in turn, remind us that we are not the only people in the world with difficulties or issues. We all struggle with the problems of life, and we all feel overwhelmed from time to time, but we can almost always find solace in service.

In the most ideal situation, the person we are helping sheds light on our own dilemma, sometimes with a direct piece of advice, and sometimes without saying anything at all. Sometimes just the act of getting our minds out of the obsessive mode of trying to figure out what to do about our own life does the trick. Many great inventors and artists have found that the inspiration they need to get to the next level in their work comes not when they’re working but when they’re walking around the block or doing dishes. We do ourselves and everyone else a great service when we take a break from our sorrows and extend ourselves to someone in need.

165.Going Back By Going Within Healing Childhood Wounds

Events from childhood, our first experiences, have the power to shape our lives. Some do so immediately, offering us challenges to overcome and encouragement to make use of our talents and interests. In the process character is built, and we make the first steps upon our personal paths. Other events seem to lay dormant until adulthood, when our

closest relationships help to bring out the deepest aspects of ourselves. This is when unexamined lessons can be put to use and untended childhood wounds make themselves known in a call for healing.

We may discover issues of trust coming up, or perhaps we find ourselves mirroring actions from our past instinctively. No matter the case, we have the power within us to heal ourselves at the deepest level. With the wisdom of an adult, we can be the loving parent or guardian we needed as a child. Knowing that we are each whole spiritual beings having a human experience, we can nurture ourselves from that wholeness, and then reach out to others as well. We can recreate scenarios in our mind’s eye, trying different outcomes and following them to their logical conclusions. In doing so, we may be able to imagine possible reasons a situation occurred as it did, and even accept that it could not have happened any other way. With the wisdom born from age and experience, we might be able to see events from a different perspective, bringing new understanding and freeing ourselves from any hold the past may have on us.

Life offers opportunities to clear these weeds in the gardens of our souls. However, when we want to focus on easier and more pleasant tasks, we are likely to pass up the chances, leaving the wounds to continue to drain our energy and resources for living life fully today. We might find we need support to face the events of the past, so turning to a

trained professional who can offer tools for healing can be a valid choice. As long as we remember that the child we were lives on within us, we are always free to go back and right old wrongs, correct mistaken perceptions, heal wounds, forgive, and begin anew.

166.Potlatch Encouraging Generosity

We can learn much from the Native American tradition of the potlatch. It is a tradition that values generosity above all else, and a potlatch, which is a very grand ceremony, is an exercise in giving away material possessions, food, and money. It is not uncommon for the host of a potlatch to give away so much of his own resources to his guests that he ends up with nothing. However, he can regain his wealth by attending potlatches at which he is a guest. In this way, a potlatch validates generosity and encourages the flow of

resources in a community, while at the same time continually reaffirming the importance of community ties.

When we are held in a web of trust and connection, we can give generously, knowing that when it is our turn we will be supported. In this way, our whole sense of ownership

becomes less individualistic and more communal. Resources are in an acceptable state of flux, moving within the community through the vehicle of the potlatch, which serves the additional function of strengthening community ties. This seems clearly preferable to isolating ourselves from one another and hoarding our resources.

Perhaps we can find ways in our own lives to create a community in which a flow of resources happens in this way, in which we support one another to be generous. We

might begin by celebrating our own type of potlatch, having a dinner party and giving each guest an object that is dear to us. Or we could give everyone a little bit of money in an envelope to spend on themselves just for fun. Someone might get inspired to throw their own potlatch, and before we know it we might have a tradition that supports and validates generosity even as it creates a safety net for leaner times. In the most profound sense, that is what a community, a tribe, and family do best.

167.Conscious Creation The First Moments Of The Day

The moment during the day when we very first open our eyes and come into

consciousness is a precious opportunity. It sets the tone for all that comes after it, like the opening scene in a film or novel. At this moment, our ability to create the day is at its most powerful, and we can offer ourselves fully to the creative process by filling this moment with whatever inspires us most. It may be that we want to be more generous, or it may be that we want to be more open to beauty in our daily lives. Whatever the case, if we bring this vision into our minds at this very fertile moment, we empower it to be the guiding principle of our day.

Sometimes we wake up with a mood already seemingly in place, and it’s important to give this feeling its due. It can inform us and deepen our awareness to what’s going on inside us, as well as around us. As long as we are conscious, we can honor this feeling and also introduce our new affirmation or vision, our conscious offering to the day. We may want to decide before we go to sleep what we want to bring to the next day of our lives. It could be that we simply want to be more open to whatever comes our way. Or we may want to summon a particular quality such as confidence. Then again, we may simply call up a feeling that perfectly captures the texture we want our day to have.

We can reaffirm our vision or affirmation as we shower and eat breakfast, as well as

recalling it at various times throughout the day. We can write it down and carry it with us on a little slip of paper if this helps. Simply by being aware of those first moments, we set the stage for a more conscious, enlivened experience, and we become active participants in the creation of our lives.

168.Asking And Receiving Prayer And Meditation

Prayer and meditation are similar practices in that they both offer us a connection to the divine, but they also differ from one another in significant ways. Put simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we listen. When we pray, we use language to express our innermost thoughts and feelings to a higher power. Sometimes, we plumb the depths within ourselves and allow whatever comes to the surface to flow out in our prayer. At other times, we pray words that were written by

someone else but that express what we want to say. Prayer is reaching out to the universe with questions, pleas for help, gratitude, and praise.

Meditation, on the other hand, has a silent quality that honors the art of receptivity. When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way.

Both prayer and meditation are indispensable tools for navigating our relationship with the universe and with ourselves. They are also natural complements to one another, and one makes way for the other just as the crest of a wave gives way to its hollow. If we tend to do only one or the other, prayer or meditation, we may find that we are out of balance, and we might benefit from exploring the missing form of communication. There are times when we need to reach out and express ourselves, fully exorcising our insides, and times when we are empty, ready to rest in quiet receiving. When we allow ourselves to do both, we begin to have a true conversation with the universe.

169.The Gift Inside Life Packaging

We have all had the experience of encountering someone whose life seems so completely different from ours that we can almost imagine we have nothing in common. However, if we go deeper into observing, we will see that we all have the same things going on in our lives. It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. Everyone can have money issues of one kind or another, and everyone struggles with difficult choices.

Our lives show up differently for each one of us because we each learn in different ways. One person may need to learn the value of money by having too little of it, while another may need to learn by having more than enough. We each learn about work and love, with experiences that are tailored to our particular perspective. Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what’s going on inside.

This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. As we get to know those who seem so different from us, we get to really see how much of life’s challenges and joys are universal. We begin to look beyond the packaging of skin color, clothing preferences, and socioeconomic differences, hairstyles, and the cars we drive to the heart of the human experience. It is important to honor and value the differences in our packaging, but it is just as important to honor the gift of life inside each one of us, and the fact that, no matter how different the packaging,

the gift inside is the same.

170.Analyzing The Path Recognizing Happiness

Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss.

Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness.

171.The Direction Of Happiness Leaving A Relationship

One of the hardest decisions we ever make in life is leaving a long-term relationship that just isn’t working. When attempts at repairing and working out issues aren’t working, it may be time to examine moving on. We are emotional creatures, and when our

heartstrings are tied to those of another, separating from that person can feel like an act of courage. It is not something most of us will take lightly, and many of us will struggle with our desire to stay in a relationship that is unfulfilling simply in order to avoid that pain. We may question whether the happiness we seek even exists, and we may wonder if we might be wiser to simply settle where we are, making the best of what we have.

On the one hand, we almost relish the idea that true happiness is not out there so that we can avoid the pain of change. On the other hand, we feel within ourselves a yearning to fulfill our desire for relationships that are vital and healing. Ultimately, most of us will follow this call, because deep within ourselves we know that we deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be happy, no matter where we find ourselves in this moment, and we are all justified in moving, like plants toward the light, in the direction that leads to our greatest fulfillment. First, though, we may need to summon the courage to move on from the relationship that appears to be holding us back.

Taking the first steps will be hard, but the happiness we find when we have freed ourselves from a situation that is draining our energy will outshine any hardship we undergo to get there. Keeping our eyes trained on the horizon, we begin the work of disentangling ourselves from the relationship that no longer fits. Every step brings us closer to a relationship that will work, and the freedom we need to find the happiness we deserve.

172.Letting Nature Work Silent Change

We all see things about ourselves, our relationships, and our world that we want to

change. Often, this desire leads us to take action toward inner work that we need to do or toward some external goal. Sometimes, without any big announcement or momentous shift, we wake up to find that change has happened, seemingly without us. This can feel like a miracle as we suddenly see that our self-esteem really does seem to be intact, or our partner actually is helping out around the house more. We may even wonder whether all of our hard work had anything to do with it, or if it just happened by way of grace.

As humans, sometimes we have relatively short attention spans, and we can easily lose track of time. We may worry about a seedling in a pot with our constant attention and watering for several weeks only to find ourselves enjoying the blooms it offers and

wondering when that happened, and how we didn’t notice it. Nature, on the other hand, has infinite patience and stays with a thing all the way through its life. This doesn’t mean that our efforts play no part in the miracle of change-they do. It’s just that they are one small part of the picture that finally results in the flowering of a plant, the shifting of a relationship, the softening of our hearts.

The same laws that govern the growth of plants oversee our own internal and external changes. We observe, consider, work, and wonder, tilling the soil of our lives, planting seeds, and tending them. Sometimes the hard part is knowing when to stop and let go, handing it over to the universe. Usually this happens by way of distraction or disruption, our attention being called away to other more pressing concerns. And it is often at these times, when we are not looking, in the silence of nature’s embrace, that the miracle of change happens.

173.Graceful Guidance Working With Angels

At some point in our lives, we are likely to find ourselves asking for help, perhaps from no one in particular, and without knowing where help could possibly come from. We may have raised our eyes skyward or whispered our need under our breath only to find that somehow we were heard, and the help we needed arrived. It might have come in the form of a person who appeared at the right time, or perhaps it came in the form of luck, chance, or divine intervention. However assistance appears, these are times when we can be sure that there are angels watching over us.

We may find ourselves asking for their help with simple things—like finding a parking spot or to watch over loved ones—but then we forgot to call on them when we found ourselves alone or in pain. We don’t need to be aware of them to receive their assistance, but there is comfort in the knowledge that they are there for us when we need them. And when we remain open to their presence, we can call on them whenever we need them to connect and be nurtured by their ethereal and heavenly energy.

As symbols of grace and gentle encouragement, they can offer us comfort as they enfold us in their wings or lift our spirit as they take flight. We may be warmed by their glow, guided by their gentle nudges or inspired by their whispers in our ears. We may hear the name of our angel and feel a personal connection, but it isn’t necessary. All they need is to be heard, to see us benefit from their guidance and perhaps to hear a word of thanks sent their way every now and then. Whether they appear in the guise of a helpful stranger, or as a thought that suddenly occurs to us, angels are our loving guides from the spiritual realm, who with a brush of their angelic wings help us to make the most of our human experience by balancing it with the spiritual awareness that all things are possible and that we are not alone.

174.Beyond Behavior Defense Mechanisms

We all have defense mechanisms that we’ve developed over time, often without being aware of it. In times of trouble, the behaviors that have worked to get us past challenges with the least amount of pain are the ones that we repeat; even when part of us knows they no longer work. Such behavior is a natural response from our mental and physical aspects. But because we are spiritual beings as well, we have the ability to rise above habits and patterns to see the truth that lay beyond. And from that moment on, we can make choices that allow us to work directly from that place of truth within us.

Most of our defense mechanisms were developed in childhood; from the moment that we realized crying would get us the attention we craved. Passive aggressive ways of communicating may have allowed us to get what we needed without being scolded,

punished or laughed at, so we learned to avoid being direct and honest. Some of us may have taken refuge in the lives of others, discovering ways to direct attention away from ourselves entirely. Throwing ourselves into projects or rescuing others from themselves can be effective ways to avoid dealing with our own issues. And when people are truly helped by our actions, we get the added bonus of feeling heroic. But while defenses can keep away the things we fear, they can also work to keep our good from us.

When we can be honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, then we can connect our desires to the creative power of the spirit within us. Knowing that we are one with the energy of the universe allows us release any need for defense. Trusting that power, we know that we are exactly where we are meant to be, and that challenges bring gifts of growth and experience. When we can put down arms raised in defense, then we are free to use our hands, minds, hearts and spirits to mold and shape our abundant energy to create and live our lives.

175.Creating A Harmonious Home A Home Of Love

At their best, our homes act as our sanctuaries. They are the nests we return to for rest and nurturing nourishment before we venture out once again to spread our wings and fly. But there are times that we may feel quite differently about our homes—times when we feel surrounded by turmoil rather than harmony, or mired in chaos rather than immersed in peace. It is at these times that we have the power to decide to bring more love into our homes.

When we choose love, we are choosing to begin within. With a deep breath, we close our eyes and ask that when we open them again, we will see where we can make shifts to create greater harmony. These may be inner shifts, such as accepting others’ personality traits and working with them rather than against them. Or they may be changes we can make with items around the house--removing the ones that cause frustration and

displaying things that make us feel good. Then, we reach out to the people with whom we share our homes--whether they are family members or another combination of people who share our space. We can help to shift their perceptions toward the positive by asking each person to think about their ideal living situation. After allowing some time for reflection, gathering to discuss each person’s ideas may lead to the discovery that there are conflicting concepts about what your shared home should provide. Once this

information is out in the open, we have a roadmap for creating balance and harmony from seemingly disparate desires. Together, agreements can be made to enable all to take the steps needed to create a unified vision.

When we have consciously chosen to make our home a place of harmony, then love’s energy can expand throughout the lives of all who live there. Each person will be

nurtured, allowing them to take that peace and serenity with them into the world, sharing it with whomever they may encounter; and making every space they enter a warmer and more loving place for everyone.

176.The Weather Of Transition Springtime And Teenagers

The season spring has long been used as a metaphor for unpredictability, with its transitional energy shifting from cold one day to hot the next. Wind and rain are hallmarks of spring, and they leave us feeling shaken up and unsettled as they sweep away the debris of past seasons, clearing the way for new growth. Rainbows follow on the heels of rainstorms, and the sun emerges, coaxing tight buds to finally soften and blossom forth into the world. With the arrival of summer, things settle down a bit, with more predictable weather, and we all breathe a little sigh of relief, because even though we love the wildness of spring, it is not exactly an easy time.

The same could be said of the stormy period of the human life cycle known as the

teenage years. Like the surprising spring winds that come out of nowhere, throwing the scene into chaos, and then dying out, the moods of the teen years are doing the work of sweeping away the dust and dried leaves of childhood to make way for a whole new person. Like the rain-cum-hail storms that move in fast and then pass suddenly to make way for a calm, warm afternoon, our teenagers shift back and forth from the child we have always known, to the moody entity that has come to inform us that things will never be the same again. This can be a challenging time for all involved, as we let go of a past we may have cherished, and try to be open to the new thing being born. If we remember that the unpredictable moods and the unfamiliar outbursts are the natural weather of transition, we stand a chance of getting through it with our equanimity in tact.

We can remind ourselves not to take it personally, any more than we would take an unexpected snowstorm personally. This way, we won’t add to the drama with our own unresolved feelings and issues. Regardless of what we do or don’t do, the wild weather, and the unpredictable moods, will eventually settle, and we will find ourselves once again in the midst of a calmer season.

177.If Only Locating The Underlying Cause

Often, when we’re unhappy, we fall into the habit of thinking that, if only one or two particular things in our life would change, everything would be fine. We might focus on the fact that we need a new car, or a raise, or a change in our living situation. We dwell on this one thing and strategize, or complain, or daydream about what it would be like to have it. Meanwhile, underneath the surface, the real reason for our unhappiness sits unrecognized and unaddressed. And yet, if we are able to locate and explore the underlying cause of our discontent, all the surface concerns have a way of working themselves out in the light of our realization.

Maybe we really do just need a new car, and maybe moving to another city would

improve our life situation. However, it can only help to take some time to explore what’s going on at a deeper level. Sometimes, when we take a moment and stop focusing on external concerns, we get to the heart of the matter. We might realize that all our lives we’ve been dissatisfied, grasping at one thing after another, only to be dissatisfied about something else once we get what we want. Or perhaps we’ll notice a pattern of running away from a place, or a relationship, when things get too hard. We might then wonder why this keeps happening, and how we might work through the difficulty rather than just escaping it. The point is, slowing down and turning our attention within can save us a lot of energy in the long run, because it is very often the case that there is no external change that will make us happy.

Once you’ve taken the time to inquire within, you can begin to make changes that address the deeper issue. This can be hard at first, especially if you’ve grown used to grasping for outside sources in order to quell your discontent, but in the end, you will be solving the problem at a deeper level, and it will be much less likely to recur.

178.The Heart Of Humanity Sitting With Our Sadness

The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help.

The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us—the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand.

Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else’s. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity.

179.Removing Obstructions

Allowing Our Light To Shine

There are times when we may not feel at our best and brightest. At those times we can take a look at what we might do to let our inner light shine to the fullest. Because we are physical, mental and spiritual beings, we need to determine where our spiritual light is being filtered or blocked. We can work from the outside inward, knowing that we are the only ones with the power to dim our lights, and as we clear away the layers we can get out of our own way to feel the warmth of our own light shining again.

As vehicles for our mind and spirit, our bodies require proper maintenance. Caring for ourselves is like polishing--helping to clear away the accumulation of physical debris that keeps us from operating at our fullest capacity. A simple shift in our thoughts can

positively affect our mental state, moving from complaints to gratitude and applying the powerful light of love to any shadowy thoughts. A change of scenery can allow us to see the world in new ways too.

Once we are free of our restrictions, we can become still and connect to the power at the center of our being. It is always there for us, but when we forget to connect, or siphon our power in too many directions, we cannot make the most of our energy. Starting from the inside out may direct us to take the right steps for our journeys back to the light, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the stillness if our bodies and minds are in the way. As we practice steps to keep our energy flowing freely and without obstruction, we shine our light brightly, illuminating our own paths and making the world around us glow as well.

180.Fulfilling Energetic Investments Focusing Our Energy

As modern life makes a wealth of information and opportunities available to us, we may find ourselves torn between a wide variety of interests and projects. Our excitement may entice us to try all of them at once, but doing so only diffuses our energy, leaving us unable to fully experience any of them. Like an electrical socket with too many things plugged into it, we may be in danger of overheating and burning out. But if we can

choose one thing at a time to focus all of our attention upon, we can make the most of our life-force energy, engaging ourselves fully in the moment so that it can nurture us in return.

Our attention can be pulled in many directions, not only in our own lives, but by

advertising, media, and the hustle and bustle of our surroundings. But when we take the time to listen to our inner guidance and focus our thoughts on the goals that resonate the most strongly within us, the rest of the world will fade away. This may mean focusing the spotlight of our attention upon developing one aspect of our work, one course of study, or one hobby to pursue in our free time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stay focused on only one thing forever. We may never know which of our interests is best suited to our abilities and heart’s desires unless we give it a proper chance. By being fully present with

all that we are and all that we have, we can experience each choice fully and make the most fulfilling choices for our energetic investments.

Because we are multi-faceted beings, we are perpetually involved in many aspects of life in every moment. Our work in the world is necessary to attend to our physical needs, and our relationships are important for our emotional needs, but when we engage our spirit as well, we can choose the area that will nurture body, mind and soul. Staying focused in each moment allows us move with the rhythmic flow of the universe and harmonize all aspects of our being into balanced whole.

181.A New Level Of Mastery Coming Full Circle

Life is a circular journey through our issues and processes, and this is why things that are technically new often seem very familiar. It is also why, whenever we work to release a habit, change a pattern, or overcome a fear, we often encounter that issue one last time, even after we thought we had conquered it. Often, when this happens, we feel defeated or frustrated that after all our hard work we are still dealing with the same problem.

However, the reappearance of a pattern, habit, or fear, is often a sign that we have come full circle, and that if we can maintain our resolve through one last test, we will achieve a new level of mastery in our lives.

When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different. We know that we can handle challenges that seemed insurmountable when we began our journey, and there is the feeling that we might be ready to take on a new problem, or some new aspect of the old problem. We feel empowered and courageous to have taken on the challenge of stopping a pattern, releasing a habit, or overcoming a fear, and to have succeeded. At times like these, we deserve a moment of rest and self-congratulation before we move on to the next challenge.

Coming full circle is like stepping into a clearing where, for a moment, we can see where we came from and where we are standing at the same time. Remembering that we will be tested again is important, but it’s also important to pause and take a look at the ground we’ve covered, honoring our courage, our persistence, and our achievement. Then we can begin the next leg of our circular journey with a fuller understanding of where we are coming from.

182.Remembering To Pause Beyond Reacting

We have all had the experience of reacting in a way that was less than ideal upon hearing bad news, or being unfairly criticized, or being told something we did not want to hear.

This makes sense because when our emotions are triggered, they tend to take center stage, inhibiting our ability to pause before we speak. We may feel compelled to release the tension by expressing ourselves in some way, whether it’s yelling back at the person

yelling at us, or rushing to deliver words of comfort to a friend in trouble. However, there is much to be said for teaching ourselves to remember to pause and take a deep breath before we respond to the shocks and insults that can come our way in life.

For one thing, our initial response is not always what’s best for us, or for the other people involved. Reacting to childish rage with childish rage will only escalate the negativity in a situation, further ensnaring us in an undesirable dynamic. Similarly, when we react defensively, or simply thoughtlessly, we often end up feeling regret over our words or actions. In the end, we save ourselves a lot of pain when we take a deep breath and really tune in to ourselves, and the other person, before we respond. This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t say anything, although in some cases, that may be the best option.

Some situations require a fairly immediate response, but even just a moment of

grounding ourselves before we do so can help enormously. The next time you find yourself wanting to react, try to pause, and in that pause, take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor, the air on your skin, and listen for a response to arise within you, rather than just going with the first thing that pops into your head. You may find that in that moment, there is the potential to move beyond reaction and into the more subtle and creative realm of response, where something new can happen.

183.In The World And In Ourselves Feeling Fed Up With Humanity

From time to time, we may all feel fed up with humanity, whether it's from learning about what's going on around the world, or what’s going on next door. There are always situations that leave us feeling as if people are simply not capable of behaving in a way that is coming from a place of awareness. Often it seems as if people are actually geared to handle things in the worst possible way, repeatedly. At the same time, none of us wants to linger in a judgmental mood about our own species. As a result, we might tend to repress the feelings coming up as we take in the news from the world and the

neighborhood.

It is natural to feel let down and disappointed when we see our fellow humans behaving in ways that are greedy, selfish, violent, or uncaring, but there are also ways to process that disappointment without sinking into despondency. As with any emotional response, we honor our feelings by feeling them fully, without judging or acting on them. Once we've done that—and we may need to do it every day, as part of our daily self-care—we can begin to consider ways that we might help the situation in which humanity finds itself.

As always, we start with ourselves, utilizing our awareness of the failings of others to renew our own commitment to be more conscious human beings. We are all capable of the best and the worst that humanity has to offer, and remembering this keeps us in check, as well as allowing us to find compassion for others. We may find ourselves feeling

compelled to serve people who are suffering injustices at the hands of other people, or we

may begin to speak out when we see something that we don’t think is right. Whatever the case, the only thing we can do is pledge to serve the best, rather than the worst, of what humanity has to offer, both in the world, and in ourselves.

184.Feeling Our Life Finding Our Life’s Work

Sometimes it takes us the better part of a lifetime to discover our life’s work, even though we may have been doing it our whole lives without necessarily realizing it. Our life’s work is not always what we do to make money, although we often think it should be, and sometimes this way of thinking prevents us from seeing clearly what it is. It may be the work of having children, caring for them, and running a household. The way we know our life’s work is by how we feel when we are doing it.

When we are doing our life’s work, we feel an uncanny sense of ease and alignment. This doesn’t mean that the work is always easy, and it doesn’t mean that it’s the only work we have to do; it just means that there is a conviction deep inside us that tells us we are in tune with our innermost self. When we are engaged in our life’s work, our bodies feel more alive, because our energy is devoted to a cause that, in turn, feeds us. We may be tired after engaging in our life’s work, but we are almost never depleted. We feel

grounded in the world, knowing that we belong here and have something important to offer.

When we are deeply unhappy, depressed, or subject to one illness after another, this may be due to a sense of disconnection from our life’s work. At times like these, finding the work we are meant to do is an essential act of healing. Most of us remember a time when we felt fully engaged in some act of work, service or creativity, and it is here that we may rediscover the work we are meant to do now. On the other hand, it may be time to explore what inspires us through volunteering, taking a class, going back to school, or just doing whatever it is we long to try. We all have callings, and when we find them, we owe it to ourselves to nurture and protect them, because while they may or may not be our livelihood, they are the keys to our wellbeing.

185.Guilty Pleasures Feeling Guilty about Being Happy

Happiness is an experience we all long for and deserve in our lives. We may wish for the happiness that comes with a much-needed vacation or an exciting new love affair, yet when the actual experience of happiness emerges, we may be too overcome with guilt to enjoy it. If guilt is interfering with your ability to feel joy, you may find relief in looking at the beliefs you hold about yourself and what it means for you to be happy.

Guilt about feeling happy can arise for different reasons. Deep down you may believe that you don’t deserve to be happy because you hurt someone in the past, had more than

others growing up, or maybe you received a mean comment from someone you admired. Perhaps it once seemed that painful experiences always followed happy ones; now whenever you begin to feel happy, you find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Happiness may even just feel uncomfortable because you’ve gotten so used to feeling down. The truth is that when you feel too guilty to let yourself enjoy positive emotions, you are denying a part of yourself that has a right to exist. By limiting your life

experience to just the negative feelings, you are cutting yourself off from the fullness of life ??– which includes all of the positive emotions as well. Fortunately, you can begin to shift the way you respond to happiness even in this moment.

From now on, when happiness begins to blossom in your heart, try to accept it, relish in it, ask it to stay. It’s okay to feel happy even if you believe you don’t deserve it. Feeling good is an expression of your wholeness and your connection with life. The next time happiness appears for you, try not to feel guilty about it. Instead, welcome your happiness in like a long-awaited friend.

186.When Pain Comes Our Way Honoring All Experiences

Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are

thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. Only when we acknowledge what’s happening to us can we truly benefit from life’s teachings.

It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don’t, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer.

We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art,

performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we’ve gone through and what we’ve learned. No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life.

187.Doing Our Best Work Roles of Support

In the great symphony of life, we all have important parts to play. While some people are best suited to be conductors or soloists, their contributions would be diminished

considerably without the individual musicians that lend their artistry to the fullness of an orchestra. The magical accents of the percussion section might sound random and out of place without the music they accompany. But any one member of an orchestra, doing less than their best at their particular part, can destroy the harmony of the whole piece, such is their importance. So although we may not receive the same amount or quality of attention as another, all of our contributions are valuable and integral to the success of the whole.

When we do our tasks well, we infuse them with our unique energy, making each act a gift. Each of our personalities and talents are suited to different roles of support. Even leaders and star performers support others in their own way. We can look around us at any moment to see that while we nurture some people with our work, others are

supporting us with their gifts. Doing any job from this place within us allows us to do our part with humility and gratitude, while also learning lessons that move us steadily toward our goals.

When we can be fully present in every job that we do, we bring the fullness of our bodies, minds and spirits to the moment. Our contribution is enhanced by the infusion of our talents and abilities, and when we give them willingly, they attract the right people and circumstances into our experience. Anything we do begrudgingly limits the flow of our energy and closes us off from the good that is available to us in every situation. But by giving the best in us to make the world around us better, we open ourselves to receive the best from the universe in return.

188.Surrounding With Protective Light Circling the Wagons

There are times when we may know of someone who is in great need and wants help, but we may feel at a loss about how best to help them. It is at such times that we can ask for help in surrounding them with support and protection, just like the pioneers once circled their wagons in the middle of unknown territory. Whether this means turning to an

already established community such as a service organization or gathering support from diverse sources, a group of people can be brought together to help an individual or an entire community. It doesn’t always take money to help someone either--cooking, cleaning, driving, fund raising, or offering emotional support are all valuable and have the added benefit of the closeness of the human touch. In any case, the universe sends angels in the form of willing friends or strangers to gather their individual lights to surround those in need with the warmth of compassion.

Some people may have difficulty accepting or even recognizing aid when it appears in unexpected guises from unlikely sources. All we can do is to follow our inner guidance,

give when we are moved to do so and shine our light to the best of our ability. As we join our energy with those in the circle, we become part of something that is larger and more powerful than the individuals within it.

When we act as part of a community of service like this, we are reminded that we are not only assisting an individual or select group in the moment, but we are serving the greater good. We are creating a better world, and can rest assured that help will be there for us as well. As we offer our own light to the collective glow to help someone through a time of darkness, all of our lights become brighter. We can live every day from this place of light, knowing the freedom from fear and worry that allows us to receive and share the protective and supportive light of life.

189.Temporarily Out Of Balance Going Through A Phase

We are all almost always in the process of learning something new, developing an

underused ability or talent, or toning down an overused one. Some of us are involved in learning how to speak up for ourselves, while others are learning how to be more

considerate. In the process of becoming, we are always developing and fine tuning one or the other of our many qualities, and it is a natural part of this process that things tend to get out of balance. This may be upsetting to us, or the people around us, but we can trust that it’s a normal part of the work of self-development.

For example, we may go through a phase of needing to learn how to say no, as part of learning to set boundaries and take care of ourselves. During this time, we might say no to just about everything, as a way of practicing and exploring this ability. Like a child who learns a new word, we want to try out this new avenue of expression and

empowerment as much as we can because it is new and exciting for us and we want to explore it fully. In this way, we are mastering a new skill, and eventually, as we integrate it into our overall identity, it will resume its position as one part of our balanced life.

In this process, we are overcompensating for a quality that was suppressed in our life, and the swinging of the pendulum from under-use to overuse serves to bring that quality into balance. Understanding what’s happening is a useful tool that helps us to be patient with the process. In the end, the pendulum settles comfortably in the center, restoring balance inside and out.

190.Making The Decision Saying Yes To The Universe

The hardest thing about saying yes to the universe is that it means accepting everything life puts in front of us. Most of us have a habit of going through our days saying no to the things we don’t like and yes to the things we do, and yet, everything we encounter is our

life. We may be afraid that if we say yes to the things we don’t like, we will be stuck with them forever, but really, it is only through acknowledging the existence of what’s not working for us that we can begin the process of change. So saying yes doesn’t mean indiscriminately accepting things that don’t work for us. It means conversing with the universe, and starting the conversation with a very powerful word—yes.

When we say yes to the universe, we enter into a state of trust that whatever our situation is, we can work with it. We express confidence in ourselves, and the universe, and we also express a willingness to learn from whatever comes our way, rather than running and hiding when we don’t like what we see. The question we might ask ourselves is what it will take for us to get to the point of saying yes. For some of us, it takes coming up against something we can’t ignore, escape, or deny, and so we are left no choice but to say yes. For others, it just seems a natural progression of events that leads us to making the decision to say yes to life.

The first step to saying yes is realizing that in the end it is so much easier than the alternative. Once we understand this, we can begin examining the moments when we resist what is happening, and experiment with occasionally saying yes instead. It might be scary at first, and even painful at times, but if we continue to say yes to every moment through the process, we will discover the joy of being in a positive conversation with a force much bigger than ourselves.

191.Dodging And Deflecting

Let It Roll Off Our Back

One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all

directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back.

Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people’s negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people’s misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration of the people around us.

Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, taking in anything that might actually be constructive, and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately by recognizing when we can’t

take something in from the outside without hurting ourselves. This is when we make like a duck, shaking it off and letting it roll off our back as we continue our way in the world.

192.Acceptance As Giving Allowing Ourselves To Receive

Giving and receiving are part of the same cycle, and we each give and receive in our own ways. But we can lose our balance when we try to be too controlling on either side of the cycle. On the receiving end, we may feel that we don’t deserve the effort made if what we gave was easy for us to give. But perhaps there is a different lesson there for us. We may be receiving not only gratitude, but a chance to see the world through the eyes of another. We may be learning that just because we gave easily, it doesn’t diminish its value. Or perhaps the universe is giving us an example to hold close to our hearts, to encourage us on some future day when our own generous act of giving is not met with a visible act of receiving. When we can allow ourselves to receive as well as give, we do our part to keep the channels of abundance open for ourselves and others.

Sometimes we may find ourselves struggling to respond to others’ gifts in the same ways—like responding to an expensive present with something equally expensive, or feeling like we have to throw a dinner party for someone who has thrown one for us. But when these are done out of a sense of obligation, their energy changes from something that shares to something that drains. If this sounds familiar, we can decide next time to allow ourselves to receive with arms, minds and hearts open and simply say thank you.

Accepting a person’s gift is a gift in itself. Sincere appreciation for their

acknowledgement and their effort joins our energy with theirs in the cycle of giving and receiving, and nurtures all involved. If ever we find we are still having difficulty, we can decide to allow ourselves to be conduits for gratitude and accept on behalf of a loving, giving universe.

193.Untended Pain Pushing Buttons

We’ve all had our buttons pushed to the point where we feel we can’t take it any more, and chances are, we’ve all pushed somebody else’s buttons, with or without knowing it. The button pusher may not be conscious of what they’re doing, but in the end the buttons belong to us, and we are the ones who must deal with what comes up. The more we take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions, the less tender these buttons will be.

We’ve all had the experience of having someone snap at us, seemingly out of nowhere. This happens when we unconsciously push a button in someone else we didn’t even know was there. This can happen with a complete stranger and sometimes with a person we’ve known and been close to for years. We ourselves may have a relationship with

someone whose buttons we secretly like to push. Buttons are just soft spots that have been touched one too many times, and they symbolize some pain that needs to be

acknowledged and healed. This may be a wound from childhood, or some recent trauma, that we haven’t adequately tended. Whatever the case, when our buttons get pushed, the person who most needs our attention and caring is us, and blaming the button pusher only distracts us from finding a true resolution to our suffering.

At the same time, if someone continually opens our wounds so that they never have time to heal, we are well within our rights to set a boundary with that person. Compulsive button pushers, who seem to find pleasure or satisfaction in hurting us, are not welcome in our personal space. In the end, knowing where our buttons are enables us to do the work necessary to heal. Freedom comes when we deal with the pain behind the button, thus disconnecting our automatic reaction to being pushed.

194.Spiritual Being--Physical Experience Physical Bodies on Earth

We are on this earth, in our physical bodies, because our souls have things to learn that we could not learn in any other way. It is through our physical body and the physical world that we can experience life. Purely spiritual beings are just that - they are in a state of being rather than doing – in a place that is beyond the limitations of time and space. But when we incarnate on the physical plane, we are automatically subject to the laws of physics and the world of dualities. In this place, we know what happiness is because we have experienced sadness, and we understand the value and power of light because we have known darkness. Knowing this, we have the opportunity to let ourselves be spiritual beings having a physical experience.

There is no pain in the spiritual realm, because we know we are one with the limitless source of the universe. But here, in the material realm, our sense of limitation and separation allows us to feel our emotions and to learn about love, forgiveness, and

compassion. We go from a spiritual state of oneness to learning how to be in relationship with people who are different and distinct individuals. We learn to understand ourselves through our relationships with the world around us—its seasons and landscapes,

challenges and opportunities. And through our journey to find our place among so many others, we begin to recognize our own glimmer of light in a constellation of stars.

Once we remember that we are spiritual beings, we can revel in the experience of being human while knowing we are all connected. We can live from the place of oneness while truly appreciating the beauty of diversity, the bittersweet feel of love and loss, and the elation of triumph over challenges and adversity. It is through these opposites that we experience life itself, and we can ride through the dark times with the understanding that it will help us to appreciate the light of life and love and spirit more fully. We are here now because we made the choice to experience an earth life, so now we can choose to enjoy the journey as completely as possible.

196.Taking Another Look Importance of Second Chances

When we meet someone for the first time, we often create a defining image in our minds of who that person is. We may also determine whether or not that someone is worth getting to know. Sometimes when an initial interaction is particularly uncomfortable or challenging, we can decide to close our hearts to this new acquaintance entirely. But being too quick to judge can cause us to lose out on a potentially wonderful, enriching relationship. First impressions don’t always give the complete picture, so if you meet someone who leaves you less than impressed, consider giving them a second chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Everyone deserves to be given a second chance. We know from personal experience how painful it can feel to be misunderstood or judged. We have good hearts and want them to be seen. We have so much to offer and want others to welcome our gifts. When someone shuts us out before they even know who we are, it can feel frustrating, hurtful, and

confusing. By giving others a second chance, we can extend the same courtesy we would ask for ourselves. In this way, we set a precedent for all our relationships: to allow

everyone the freedom and safety to simply be human. Whether it is a blind date, the man sitting next to you on the airplane, or your new neighbor, everyone has a full life outside of their interaction with you. They may be preoccupied with a personal or business situation that affects the way they are presenting themselves, or maybe they had a rough day or some bad news. If you give them the room to be who they are, where they are, you will allow yourself to do the same!

When you are considering giving someone a second chance, first check in with your inner knowing. If you find that your intuition is advising you to keep your distance, it is important to honor the guidance you receive. By honoring your intuition when it has wisdom to share, you can feel confident and happy in your decision to give others a second chance.

197.Full Release

Water Meditation

Our bodies are over fifty percent water, so it makes sense that human beings have always considered water to be a sacred source of life and healing. It is literally half of who we are, and well over half of the earth’s surface is water. Water cleanses and hydrates, contains and produces nourishment, and when we enter it, holds us in an embrace that leaves no part of us untouched. Meditating with water can be a powerful way of aligning ourselves more fully with this support system that makes life both possible and pleasurable on so many levels.

We may wish to conduct our meditation while in physical contact with a body of water, whether in the intimacy of our bathtub or the vast container of an ocean. We might float

on our backs in a swimming pool or sit with just our feet submerged in a pond or creek. On the other hand, we may simply close our eyes and choose a location based on our imagination. Whatever we choose, we can begin by closing our eyes and listening to our breathing. At the same time, we tune in to the particular music of the water we have chosen—the loud rushing of a river or waterfall, or the surreal silence of the world beneath the surface of the ocean. We might consider how the type of water we choose reflects what we seek—the peace beneath the hectic surface of life, the cleansing power of a river racing through a canyon, or the mood lifting, melodic bubbling of a lively creek.

As we move between awareness of our breath and awareness of the water in which we find ourselves, we can begin to release the things we no longer need into the rushing river, or release ourselves completely into the water’s embrace as we float, in our minds, in the watery womb of an ocean or a lake. When you feel you are ready to return to more solid ground, ease your body back onto earth, in your mind or in reality, and lie flat on your back, allowing the water to bead and roll off your skin, soaking the earth and evaporating into the air, leaving you cleansed, healed, and renewed.

198.Aligning Actions And Words Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Words carry a lot of weight in this world, from how we say them to what we say with them, but it is through our actions that we bring things into being. This is what we mean when we say to one another that actions speak louder than words. In many cases, what we say doesn’t necessarily line up with what we are doing, and it is here that it becomes clear that it’s easier to talk about doing something than it is to actually do something. At the same time, it’s easy to keep doing something that we don’t necessarily acknowledge ourselves doing verbally. It’s good for all of us to take a look every once and a while to make sure there is alignment between what we say and what we do.

For example, it’s easy to talk about our dreams, but it takes a lot more energy to take the many small steps that lead to bringing our dreams into reality. If all we ever do is talk

about it, we begin to lose faith in ourselves because nothing changes on the external level. In this way, being all talk and no action is actually a form of self-sabotage. It’s also useful to examine our actions to see if, through them, we are following through on our words. For example, in expressing concern about the environment, we can look to make sure that we are taking the simple steps we can take to put that concern into action.

It’s always helpful to observe what we talk about and who we say we are, and then to observe what we actually do in the world. Sometimes we realize our actions haven’t caught up with what we are saying, and at other times we see that we might change our words in a way that it will more adequately reflect what we do in the world. Either way, the more we align our words and our deeds, the clearer we are in expressing our truth in the world, and the more powerful we are in bringing it into reality.

199.Poetry in Motion Moving Our Body

Our bodies love movement. When we stretch or dance, our bodies adjust, realign and start to become fluid with the rhythm of life. Our mood lifts and we feel more connected with the world around us. If you are feeling stuck, ready to release old energy, or eager to feel more alive, try moving your body. By giving your muscles a chance to do what they were created for, you may find that all areas of your body and your life benefit as well.

Many times we can be so busy that we forget moving our body is even an option. Some of us remain seated at our computer for hours every day or rush from task to task with robotic precision. When we are caught up in crossing items off our to-do lists, we tend to neglect all the opportunities there are to enjoy our bodies in the process of living. If this is true for you, begin looking for opportunities to move. You might try dancing or moving about freely as you clean your home, tend your garden or care for your children. If you are able to devote a set amount of time to self-care, practices such as yoga, dance, tai chi and walking are all great ways to keep your body in motion.

Imagine how freeing it would feel to trust your body’s movements completely, knowing it has a perfect strength and rhythm of its own. See if you can sense your bones providing graceful support, your muscles and tendons expanding and contracting in just the right measure, your lungs changing pace to fill deeply with fresh air. Movement is a vital celebration of life. It is a way to proclaim your own existence and relish in the joy of being alive. Today, and into the future, give yourself the gift of your body in motion.

200.Finding Our Own Paths Entering Awareness

Entering into our own spirituality is a private journey. Each of us will be drawn to a different gateway to begin on our personal path to awakening to a greater experience of ourselves. Even though we may be taught certain philosophies or beliefs as children, we still need to find our own way of understanding and applying them in our lives. For those who are raised without a spiritual framework, they may not even know their process as a form of spirituality. But at some stage in their lives, whether in youth or adulthood, they are likely to recognize the resonance of their beliefs, the ring of truth in their philosophy, and their dedication to their chosen purpose.

Our inner guidance will lead us, so that we will be drawn to the right doorway for us--a doorway that only we can recognize by the way it makes us feel inside. It could be a picture of an angel or the gift of a crystal. We may meet someone special who shares their experiences with us in a way that we find intriguing. While visiting the home of an admired friend, we may notice a book or statue of a diety, and ask why they chose those tools. Or a word or phrase may catch our attention in a song, or a lecture. For some they may find their way by walking through the experience of illness before they begin the search for what will help them to truly heal, while others may seek physical improvement

and stumble across yoga or meditation--only to find that it leads them to an unexpected place beyond the body.

As we awaken to ourselves and to life, we will become more attuned to what is right for us. The universe speaks to all of us through infinite channels, but we each have our own frequency. Others may share what worked for them, but only we can decide what truly makes us feel inspired, awakened, connected, fully conscious, aware and alive. Whatever our path, it is perfect and is meant especially for us.

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