Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Secret of Emotional Resilience

"You're too emotional."

At some time in your life, you've probably heard this comment about you or someone else. In either case, the remark is usually meant to be extremely critical, and implies the person is unstable, incompetent, or unhealthy.

For most people, "too emotional" also insinuates the undeniable superiority of reason over emotion.

In my view, a deeper understanding of human development leads to a different conclusion: The systemic experience of feelings is critical for whole-person vitality, and emotional health sustains inspired living.

Consider this description of the typical developmental process:

In your childhood, you don't learn to skillfully and directly live with your emotions. As a result, you acquire ways of "conceptualizing" your life, "living in your head," remaining in your "comfort zone," and developing a sense of separation from your physical experiences.

Eventually, your faculty of "reason" actually becomes clouded and driven by memories, habitual thinking, and reactive emotions. When you're obscured in this way, you feel suspicious of your sensations, and avoid (deny) being present to your body in the moment. You don't feel safe being emotional, and fear the prospect of being "too emotional."

Even when you say you're feeling, you are only "thinking your emotions."

In this conceptual way of living, you are no longer "grounded" in your physical existence, and your ability to genuinely know your feelings, needs, and choices is severely impaired.

How do you overcome this debilitating limitation?

Before you attempt any changes, you need to create a safe context within yourself by making a distinction between "emotional" and "too emotional."

The word "emotional" simply refers to being openly responsive (e.g., moved, touched) and comfortably expressive with your emotions. The term "too emotional" signifies that a person is inappropriately sensitive and excessively ruled by emotions as determined by some societal or cultural standard.

You are the best person to examine this comparative role of emotions in your life. To help you explore your emotional health, consider these questions:
  • To what extent do you successfully use your emotions in your self-expression?
  • In what ways do you actively draw on and express your emotions?
Review your responses. How satisfied are you with your expression?

If you would like to enhance your ability to effectively exercise your emotions, reflect on and apply these steps:
  • Pause, breathe, and relax. Feel your body.
  • Connect with your essential nature of Peace, Love, and Joy.
  • Engage the practice of witnessing to non-judgmentally observe your various feelings, sensations, and any associated thoughts or images.
  • Identify the situational conditions and your emotions (i.e., what's happening?).
  • Clarify what you want to do, and how you want to express yourself.
If you choose to be outwardly expressive after following these steps, allow your awareness and acceptance to support the complete, skillful communication of your feelings in whatever form (e.g., written, verbal) you freely decide.

With practice in this deliberate exercise of your emotional being, you will realize that you don't have to be used or taken out by your emotions. You aren't your emotions; you have them. Your emotions (i.e., energy in motion) can be valuable indicators of the movement of life force (chi) in your bodymind. Since you're responsible for your feelings, you don't have to be afraid of being too emotional. You can choose your response!

When you consciously exercise your emotions, you break through "deadly" historical patterns, and you realize the true power of reason. In this life-affirming transformation, inspiration flows and integrates your passion, will, and wisdom.

In this way, you also remember the essential purpose and nature of being emotional. That is, as you wholeheartedly embrace your emotions and physical sensations in the midst of changing conditions, you will be able to align with your HeartVoice, and inspire your authentic self-expression.

May your feelings guide you beyond all limited concepts!

Love and Peace,
Dave


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wobbling to Nirvana

The straight and narrow.

In common use, this phrase refers to "the strict way of proper conduct and moral integrity." Although values, ethics, and moral principles clearly play a critical role in society, their application usually does not demonstrate a "straight and narrow" path.

Most natural processes in life are not straight and defined.

Consider these examples:

As an infant, you didn't simply wake up one day and decide to walk. You had to go through many incremental movements that involved lying down, rolling over, crawling, pulling yourself up, and taking your first step. Then, you fell, took more steps, fell again, and so on until you successfully "learned" to walk.

Similarly, when you were a teenager and wanted to drive, you didn't get in a car and go. You had to acquire many micro-skills to accomplish the larger task of managing a vehicle on the road with other cars. You probably made numerable, anxiety-provoking mistakes along the way. If you drove a manual transmission, you heard the unforgettable grinding of gears, stalled in traffic, and panicked on hills. It was not a pretty process! Whatever the transmission, you eventually made your solo trip.

In the circus, high-wire acrobats walk a tightrope between two points. Although the rope is taut and straight, the aerialist does not walk across the rope the way you might on a hardwood floor. The wire moves from side to side and oscillates up and down as the acrobat walks. The walker needs to make constant adjustments to these expected features of the wire, as well as accommodate any unexpected changes in personal or external conditions in order to master the journey.

In sailing a boat or flying a plane, you might chart a straight line between the point of departure and your destination. However, you will spend most of your time traveling away from this line, "off course." If weather comes up, you will have to veer even farther from that direct path until you reach your desired endpoint.

These situations provide important reminders for anyone who consciously walks a spiritual path.

Reflect for a moment on any insights you see for your own way of living.

You may have a desire for the "straight and narrow" because that path seems "clean," perfect, and within your comfort zone. However, this kind of avoidance and denial doesn't teach you anything useful. In fact, when you don't act outside your comfort zone or learn how to deal with you mistakes, you reinforce a feeling of incompetence that will sabotage you in the face of future challenges.

Or, at times, you might become very attached to a specific idea of how you want something to work out. You may feel "locked in" to your image of the way things ought to be. You lose your flexibility and capacity to be creative in the midst of your unwavering, limited expectations.

Life is messy.

In chaos or clarity, you need values to help you grant meaning and guide your choices. In this way, your principles act as an internal compass to navigate the ever-changing conditions of yourself, others, and the world.

In addition, your aspiration for awareness, acceptance, and expression of your HeartVoice becomes a compelling beacon that illuminates your path. Even though you don't know the details of this path, you can dedicate yourself to take one step at time toward the realization of your true nature, and let everything else unfold.

In this way, your spiritual path integrates the focus of your values and aspirations with the vastness of allowing yourself to experience everything your life has to offer.

Along the way, you will wobble. Sometimes you will be clear, grounded, and balanced. Other times you will not. That's all part of living a passionate, inspired life.

If you don't wobble, you're not fully engaged!

As you take steps on your path, invite these questions:
  • How can you enjoy the wobbling?
  • How can you use the wobbling for your growth and realization?
Love the wobbling!

Love and Peace,
Dave

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who's Your Teacher?

What have you done to find health and happiness in your life? If you're like many people engaged in personal growth, you probably have spent your time, energy, and money on a variety of methods, teachings, and teachers to support your quest.

What are your results now?

If you're healthy and happy, congratulations! You have made an important discovery that everyone needs to know:

The secret to your life is hidden in the last place you might look. That's right, in you!

You have everything you need within.

This outrageous Truth forms the foundation of most ancient traditions, and suggests that the key to whatever you seek can be found in the Divine Source within you.

In this context, you may wonder about the purpose of all forms of "external" teachers. How can such resources be helpful?

For your reflection on this question, consider the following excerpt from The Simple Truth (see The Heart of HeartVoice):

2. As you develop an individual personality conditioned by society and survival habits, your nature becomes progressively obscured, you feel separate from others, and you forget your essential self.

Your everyday socialization and programming "clouds" your awareness and you feel disconnected from the Radiance of the Divine in you.

In this process, your individual experiences combine with "collective" (e.g., cultural) patterns in your subconscious mind to produce memories that drive your habitual thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. The ongoing repetition of these habits establishes a powerful mechanism for forgetting your essential nature.

Although this pervasive human condition seems insurmountable, there's good news. You can easily have access to people who have broken through this cloud of forgetting and reconnected with the Truth. These "external resources" can provide direct (e.g., teachings) and indirect (e.g., by their example) ways to remove your sources of obscuration and remember your own true self.

From this external position, such teachers can help you to see yourself from a different perspective and develop a new paradigm of being in the world. No matter what assists in your "waking up," you must know that these significant resources are only reminders.

There are no substitutes for the Teacher within you.

As you reconnect with your Divine nature as reflected in your HeartVoice, you will begin to disengage from your memories, break old reactive habit patterns, experience freedom, and allow inspiration to move you.

With the blessings of Grace, heartfelt gratitude, and your loving practice, let that inspiration flow fully in you.

Listen to the Teacher within!

Love and Peace,
Dave








Sunday, August 8, 2010

Forgiving

What comes to your mind when you imagine yourself in the act of "forgiveness"?

You may envision someone asking for your absolution, or begging for mercy. Perhaps, you have images of pardoning another person for a past offense or a situation in which you felt wronged.

What would you have to believe in order to perceive this person as "doing something to you"?

You would need to see her as different and separate from you. You might even think she's malicious.

Another possibility is represented in this excerpt from The Simple Truth (see The Heart of HeartVoice):

1. You come to this world as eternal Spirit, primordially pure, one with all beings, with the essential nature of Peace, Love, and Joy, and are born in human form to fully experience and express your true and authentic self.

From this perspective, you are connected with all beings in the Divine Essence as expressed in your HeartVoice. Therefore, the "other" is also Divine and naturally Peace, Love, and Joy. Within this eternal context, the "offense" against you is not "real," and, as such, you truly have nothing to forgive.

Of course, as a human being, you also live in a time-limited world that promotes separation and differences, and obscures your Spirit. In this realm, forgiveness does serve a purpose.

In this revitalized practice of forgiving, you can:

1. Remember your True Nature.
2. Recognize the falsehood of separation.
3. Connect with the core unity of all beings.
4. Let go of the "transgression."

As you may have experienced, the crucial application of this practice of forgiveness focuses on one of the most challenging people you will ever encounter. You.

Every day, whether you interact with other people or not, you engage yourself. These daily encounters with yourself can be very difficult. Some days you may feel hopeless, incompetent, loathing, regret, guilt, shame, fear, or anger because of something you did or didn't do.

The antidote to these toxic feelings involves self-forgiveness, and requires witnessing without judgment and the persistent practice of letting go.

To support letting go, review the four-step practice of forgiving, and reflect on these essential principles:
  • Acknowledge that the past is over and can't be changed. Offer a genuine apology to self or other. Your statement, "I'm sorry," signifies your conscious choice to act differently toward yourself or others in the future.
  • Agree that you are always doing your best. You and everyone else have done and continue to do what you're able to do with the resources available at any given moment in time.
  • Commit to use that which nurtures your growth and release the rest. You learn from your mistakes, adapt, and move on.
The integration of the practice of forgiving with witnessing and these principles establishes a path of self-forgiveness. As you consistently experience self-forgiveness, you will notice that the ease of letting go increases, your acceptance expands, and love deepens. You will feel lighter. These creative changes establish a new, healthy habit, and benefit others as well as yourself.

After you have practiced self-forgiveness for at least a month, you might pose these questions to yourself in the midst of a challenging situation:
  • How easily can I let go now?
  • What do I need to forgive myself in this moment?
In this way, you will see that forgiveness does not need to be oriented to the past. You can let go in the present as a way of living.

Live without regrets!

Love and Peace,
Dave

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dethrone the Bully!

In your youth, this person was obvious and easy to identify. He or she was the one who physically threatened and terrorized other children.

In your adulthood, this individual appears as someone who forcefully intimidates others with less evident actions.

In both contexts, this person acts as a bully.

Imagine yourself in these scenarios as examples of "adult" forms of bullying:

In response to her panic, you have loaned your daughter money for her business. Despite her financial situation, she regularly leaves on luxurious vacations and buys expensive clothes. She flagrantly ignores you, and disregards your requests to keep her agreement and make payments on the loan. You feel like a failure as a parent.

Your older sister persistently demands more attention and communication from you. However, she is unresponsive when you meet her needs, and self-absorbed in her own contacts with you. In addition, she often seems emotionally volatile and unpredictable. You feel anxious and like "walking on egg shells" around her.

Your spouse is controlling and verbally abusive. He constantly criticizes you, and undermines your efforts to manage the household and support the children. Although you try to meet his needs, he aggressively expresses his dissatisfaction with you, and blames you for his problems. You feel incompetent and depressed.

You've had a misunderstanding with a coworker. You have made several efforts to clear up the communication to no avail. And, to your dismay, other colleagues appear to have "taken her side." She and others have no interest in hearing your perspective, and clearly don't see you the way you see yourself. You feel invisible and heartbroken.

You are visiting your mother as part of a family vacation. In the midst of your activities, she becomes very upset by something she heard "through the grapevine" and blames you for the "attack." In her characteristic fashion, she dramatically leaves and threatens to never see you or your children again. You feel confused and helpless.

In these various examples, the outcomes are remarkably similar. Even though the bully may be acting and speaking unconsciously or without malicious intent, the forceful result is profound domination. You feel badly about yourself and unable to do anything to change the situation.

As you might expect, there is another side to this story.

You cannot be bullied without your permission.

Your own habitual reaction to the bully helps to sustain the pattern.

To end the bullying, at least with you, you must respond in different ways. Consider these suggestions to help you deliberately create this new direction:
  • Admit and learn from the bully's presence in your life. Don't avoid, deny, or ignore your experience. Feel the impact.
  • Forgive yourself for your role in the bullying.
  • Reclaim your power from the bully. Let go of your fears.
  • Use the phrase, "That's one way to look at it," as a response.
  • Take responsibility for yourself, not for both of you. Don't make excuses for the bully. Don't apologize for yourself.
  • Speak your feelings and thoughts in a strong, loving, and truthful way. You don't need to retaliate, demand reparation, or become a bully to improve the situation.
  • Express your needs freely and completely to the bully.
  • Don't ever trade your power for another's love. "Love" here includes approval, acceptance, liking, recognition, and so on.
  • Experiment with saying "no" to the bully.
  • Respect yourself. Don't absorb the bully's labels, misperceptions, and judgments of you, no matter how insignificant they seem.
  • Integrate the playfulness of a child with the power of being an adult.
Practice with patience. Take the time and space you need to make these changes in your relationship with the bully. Nurture yourself!

With experience, you will probably discover another source of bullying, the inner bully. When you become aware of this part of yourself, pay careful attention, and simply witness. Notice the ways in which you intimidate, suppress, or dominate yourself. Then, use the methods you've practiced with others to deepen your awareness, respect, and love for yourself.

End the tyranny and celebrate your freedom!

Love and Peace,
Dave

PS Send me your favorite ways to stop the bully and free yourself!

PPS If you need more support, please contact me.