Turning Negative into Positive

We all have experienced negative people in our lives. Sometimes we become negative ourselves. It never feels good and can change our outlook on everything.

When that happens, I am reminded of the Native American Indian (Cherokee) wisdom of Two Wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

This is a great reminder that even in hard times, we always have a choice. Which wolf are you feeding?

Moving On Slowly and Gently

Sometimes life throws a curve ball at us. When it does, it can be hard to find any peace or happiness for a time. Life becomes a struggle.

But there is a way to get out of it. It takes only a moment in time.

Start by observing what you are going through. Don’t try to change it. Don’t act on it. Don’t judge it. Just observe where your thoughts are taking you and what feelings you are having.

Then, slowly and gently, make a conscious effort to look at something else in the room or outside. Pay attention to one item. It could be as simple as looking at a chair or a picture hanging on the wall. Really look at it, as if seeing it for the first time. Look at the tiniest details. Don’t judge it. Just observe.

Then, listen to any sounds that you hear around you. Perhaps it’s a clock ticking, the fridge humming or a bird chirping. Put all your attention on the sound. Again, just observe. Just listen.

Then, take a brief moment to give gratitude to whatever you observed – yourself, something in your home, office or outdoors, the sound.

Do this as often as you like throughout the day. Take only a few seconds to start with, then eventually allow it to expand into longer periods.

Observe the change over time. Be gentle with yourself and know that it’s all good.

The Healing Power of a Drum

Last night I experienced the comfort and loving sounds of what it must have been like to be in the womb and hearing my mother’s heartbeat.

It was during a community drumming circle where about 50 or 60 people were sitting in ever larger circles. Each person had a drum to play and were instructed to drum a heart beat.

BOOM… boom, boom… BOOM… boom, boom… BOOM… boom, boom…

I was invited to lie on a yoga mat with 8 other people in the center area for what was called a “rhythm cradle.” I closed my eyes and could hear the heartbeat around me.

More than that, I could feel the vibration of the drums throughout my body… all in time to the heartbeat.

Then people with native hand drums began to drum over top of my body. I could feel the power of the drum literally coursing through my feet, my legs, my arms, my entire body. Two men playing didgeridoos in the background came over and played their instruments right into my body. I could feel the rush of air and feel the amazing vibrations going right to my core.

Slowly the drumming over my body and the didgeridoos drifted away. I was left with the steady heartbeat of the drum in the background. BOOM… boom, boom… BOOM… boom, boom… BOOM… boom, boom…

Then all was quiet.

I lied there for a few minutes. The sensation was so powerful.

So healing!

If you live in an area that has a drumming circle, go experience the healing sensations of the drum. In Calgary, Alberta we are so fortunate to have Judy Atkinson’s Circles of Rhythm.

Six Spiritual Paths of Zen

I recently had an audience with Zen Master Nissim Amon of Israel. To say it was enlightening experience is an understatement. He shared six spiritual paths and encourage us to go out and share them with others.

Therefore, I am sharing these paths with you as I interpreted them.

Six Spiritual Paths

  1. Accept all stages of life, all experiences, without complaint (or at least try to complain less)
  2. Say “I love you” every day, to others and to yourself
  3. Gain wisdom, read books especially inspirational passages before bed
  4. Indulge in pleasurable experiences occasionally without self-criticism (drink, eat, nap)
  5. Ponder a question over time (years) without answering it rationally. BE the answer.
    • Question to ponder: A million things return to one. What does one return to?
  6. Experience nature (hike, garden, walk in grass barefoot, play with a dog)

Remember: It is all good.

This brief list pales in comparison to sitting and listening to Zen Master Nissim Amon explain each path. My hope is to provide a glimpse into his teachings. If you have the chance to spend time with Zen Master Nissim Amon, I encourage you to do so.

It will be a profound and life changing experience.

Letting Go

We all have times in our lives when we’ve been hurt or have hurt others. It’s part of the human experience.

While it’s important to learn from unpleasant experiences, making amends whenever possible and vowing to do better in the future, it’s not such a good idea to relive the hurtful moments over and over again. Doing that causes us to feel the negative emotions repeatedly as well. When that happens, it’s time to let it go.

I have a simple technique that has worked really well for me.

RocksImagine that you are going through life wearing a trench coat, with deep pockets full of rocks. Each rock represents an unpleasant memory that you are holding onto. As you can imagine, going through life carrying around those experiences is like carrying around rocks – they eventually wear you down.

So, the next time you think of an unpleasant memory, imagine yourself reaching into a pocket and picking out the rock that represents that memory. Take the time to look at it from all angles and feel the weight of it. Then, when you are ready, put the rock down on the ground. Let it go and notice how much lighter you feel without that rock in your pocket.

Do this every time you think of an unpleasant memory. Eventually your pockets will be empty of unpleasant memories and your life will be lighter and more peaceful.

Give it a try and see if this works for you.

The (Life Changing) Four Agreements

Books can be life changing. For me “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz was certainly that.

Like many people, for years I was shy, struggled with what people thought of me and had a lot of self-judgement. This book gave me practical advice and opened a door that forever changed how I view others and myself. I found a personal freedom in discovering a way to accept myself and others just as they are.

While I’m not perfect and sometimes forget, life is so much easier whenever I follow these four special agreements.

The Four Agreements

  1. Be impeccable with your word
    Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
  2. Don’t take anything personally
    Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
  3. Don’t make assumptions
    Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
  4. Always do your best
    Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

Visit Don Miguel Ruiz website for more information.

Laugh Daily for Mind, Body and Spirit

We all love to laugh. A good joke, a funny movie, time with friends or a silly situation can trigger the giggles, and that can lead to a full-out belly laugh.

There are numerous benefits – from releasing stress to strengthening our immune systems, improving the function of the heart and even temporarily relieving pain. Laughing helps us to relax, recharge and shift perspective. It brings us together and brightens our day. And it feels good!

To receive full benefit of laughter, do it on a daily basis. Start with a smile, then a quiet giggle and slowly move into a full out laugh. Do this near someone else and it will become contagious!

View this short video and see if you can keep a straight face. LOL!

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