Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rekindling Your Holiday Spirit

At this time of year, the holiday season elicits powerful feelings and memories of loved ones enjoying venerable traditions, fun gatherings, and special festivities.

As you probably have experienced, these annual celebrations with family and friends can also be very stressful events. Although everyone has the desire to get along and have a good time, familiar gestures, habitual reactions, or casual conversations may occur that annoy someone. Then, the irritation grows and culminates in a hurtful disturbance.

How does this happen with people who supposedly love each other?

Just because you have been connected with others for a long time doesn't mean they know you now. This can be especially true with family where members may act as if their common genetic and historical backgrounds can replace in-depth and mutual communication.

The paradox of not feeling known among family or friends who have known you your whole life can be very confusing. You want to meaningfully connect and freely express yourself, yet you don't feel safe and "seen" enough to do so. In addition, your uneasiness and frustration can make you more sensitive to the words and actions of people around you, and even trigger wounds from your past.

In this emotionally charged context, you too may haphazardly engage in saying and doing things that provoke someone else. Any intentions you might have had to experience a peaceful day fade as a distant fantasy, and you may now feel badly about yourself as well.

How can you eliminate this "holiday hell"?

Although you cannot control how your family and friends act in these situations, you can manage your own behaviors. Here are some suggestions to reduce unpleasant consequences for you and your group:
  • Clarify people's expectations and any special needs prior to the event. Don't make assumptions about what everyone would like.
  • Make specific agreements regarding the logistics of your gathering. That is, who's doing what, where, when, and how? Keep things as simple as possible.
  • Approach each person with care and compassion, especially those with whom you have a lot of history. Don't be casual.
  • Reconnect and warm up before you engage in serious subjects. Ask questions in your interactions with others. Don't invite people to talk unless you want to genuinely listen.
  • Avoid joking at another's expense. Don't use sarcasm to express yourself.
  • Stop habitual reactions whenever possible. Don't take things personally.
  • Consider other ways in which you can avoid, eliminate, or decrease the incidence of personal and interpersonal harm.
After you have reflected on these alternatives, focus on a few to practice in upcoming events that you host or attend. As you become effective in eliminating "holiday hell," you can place more of your attention on cultivating the qualities you desire such as ease, relaxation, harmony, loving kindness, and peace.

In order to nurture these qualities and create a joyful atmosphere for holiday experiences, you might consider these practical skills:
  • Be responsible for your own feelings and behaviors.
  • Meditate before gatherings.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space.
  • Observe, support, and refresh your energy level. Rest to prevent exhaustion.
  • Attend to (notice) your breath during the event.
  • Feel yourself grounded in your body.
  • Review my related discussions including "The Art of Witnessing," "Communicating from Your Heart," "Forgiving," "Create Your Own Lineage," and "Sustaining Your Momentum: Releasing Resistance."
With these practices, you will discover that you can minimize your own experience of "holiday hell," and be happy and healthy throughout the holidays.

Imagine your holiday season filled with child-like wonder and expansive joy!

Love and Peace,
Dave

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Asking

The intentional practices of releasing resistance, allowing, and being patient nurture your efforts to express your HeartVoice and inspired possibilities. As a result, you may feel much more ready, willing, and able to accomplish these changes than ever before in your life.

You're establishing a powerful inner foundation for new ways of being, doing, and having.

However, you don't need to "make it happen" all on your own.

You can ask.

One place to start is within. In this asking, you direct your attention inward, abiding in your Heart, to access the Divinity, Creator, or whatever name you choose for the reflection of that superconsciousness in you.

You might ask for guidance, the solution to a problem, something to be revealed, or clarity and wisdom on an issue that is obscured.

In the Stillness, you ask and wait to feel inspiration.

This form of your HeartVoice usually "speaks" in a quiet whisper. So your Presence is of the utmost importance in both asking and listening. Once you've received the inspiration, you'll know the direction for your actions.

Of course, you can also ask for suggestions, help, and other kinds of support from others. These people could include family, friends, colleagues, professionals, and organizations. You can identify these aids through personal connections or internet resources. The opportunities for external support are virtually unlimited.

Often, your asking for others' assistance and the enormity of available resources can bring up two common concerns:
  • What if my asking is a sign of weakness?
  • How do I know which resources to explore?
If you perceive asking as a lack of competence (a "failing"), just recall a time when someone you respect asked for your support. How did you feel about that person? How did you feel about yourself?

You probably felt honored to be asked, and happy to do whatever you could to help out. Most people share this desire to contribute to others.

In terms of resources, you might view your investigation as an adventure, rather than hard, painful work. Look into possibilities and ask for leads, as you feel inclined. Allow others to help you with ease. Be open to surprises and unexpected directions. Play with the different options you develop with people or the internet.

At any time, you might further facilitate your progress by reflecting on your exploration process:
  • Does the nature of my question, what I'm asking, need to change?
  • Do I feel clear, connected, and creative in asking or involving a specific resource for support?
No matter how you feel about asking or which resources you engage, a key element in the process is to be clear about the form of help you want and any logistics involved. You must know what you want, need, or expect, since others cannot read your mind. Then, the agreement (written or verbal) between you and your supports can be established.

In the simple act of asking for guidance from within and outside yourself, you can make a profound impact on your personal growth. By asking, you invite others to play a role in your life, share experiences, and cultivate conditions for mutuality. Your enlarged network of supportive relationships and your increased resourcefulness can also transform your sense of self-confidence and competence.

As you practice asking, you expand your capacity and willingness to receive. In this way, asking becomes a gift to others as well as to you.

To strengthen this gift, stretch yourself with this exercise:

Ask someone else for support even if you don't need it.

Ask and you shall receive!

Love and Peace,
Dave

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sustaining Your Momentum: Being Patient

In the two previous discussions about maintaining change efforts, I presented the complementary methods of releasing resistance and allowing.

When you release resistance to "what is," you break a pattern and stop struggling with life. Whether a situation can or cannot be changed, you let go of any opposition. Without resistance and habitual reactions, you can freely allow for something new. You recognize "what is" and make possible changes, or you act in a completely different way.

Consider this scenario.

Imagine you have a boss who persistently disregards and undervalues your work. You decide to release your resistance to her, pause, and begin to allow new options for yourself. After some creative brainstorming, you choose to explore some leads within other parts of your company, as well as possibilities with an organization in an entirely different industry.

Throughout these change activities, the liberating processes of releasing your resistance and allowing will powerfully support your various efforts. As you engage in releasing and allowing, the methods will interact to provoke critical questions for your next steps.

What will characterize the quality of your being as you move in your desired direction, toward your aspirations? That is, how will you think, feel, and express yourself in your journey?

To support your response to these questions, consider the pivotal role of the last method of sustaining your momentum, being patient.

Being Patient
In the dictionary, patience is associated with "the ability to endure waiting or delay without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly."

Of course, if you release your resistance, you won't need to endure "what is" or hold on to annoyance and upset. Furthermore, if you allow, you will more easily persist or stick with your actions. In this way, the two processes promote engagement in an expanded form of being patient.

In this new form of patience, you acknowledge that quick fixes are not desirable. Rather, you know that long-lasting, sustainable change requires continuous effort, and that creating your path, step by step, in an organic way will lead to realization of your aspirations.

You go beyond tolerating challenges in your life. By persevering without resistance to your conditions and allowing new possibilities, you demonstrate a patience that strengthens feelings of ease and self-love, deepens commitment to skillful action, and helps you ultimately achieve desired forms of self-expression.

To reinforce this quality of being patient throughout the change process, consider this question:

"How much ease and self-love can I feel in being patient now?"

In the work scenario described, you would let go of any resistance you have to the current economic or career conditions, and allow plenty of time and space, take the pressure off, to explore "what is" and what might be. You ask for support from people you trust. And, you do what you wish to maintain healthy thoughts and feelings.

Your experiences of being patient in the midst of your change efforts establish the sense of competency and resiliency essential for nurturing momentum. Now you know you can handle whatever comes your way!

With steady pacing and deliberate practice, this kind of patience and self-confidence shifts your attention away from "waiting" for something external. Instead, you focus on the present moment, and abide within, as you feel the natural flow of life inspire and move you toward your aspirations.

Your letting go, receptivity, and stillness can also help you notice unexpected opportunities (e.g., jobs) as you consciously move along your path.

Play with this new "present-moment patience" for a while. Then, whenever you practice being patient in sustaining your momentum, you might reflect on this question:

"How joyfully can I experience the present moment and my essential freedom now?"

Love and Peace,
Dave