Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Opportunities… everywhere!

One thing I’m realizing as I meander through this thing called life… there sure are a lot of opportunities for growth! My family and I went away this weekend. On our trip, we visited Calaveras Big Trees state park. It was very cool. When we started on the hike to see the trees, and we purchased the guide to tell us what, specifically, we were looking at – my daughter started to push back. Not much on school these days, and fully noting that not only is it Summer… but we are on vacation for crying out loud – she stated boldly to the group that she would NOT be learning anything on this fun walk we were taking. Apparently to her… learning is a task to be avoided.

Well, I kinda know how she feels. Learning can definitely seem like a chore. Except when it’s not, of course! We had a great time walking through the Big Trees… and we learned a few things in the process. Quite the opposite of a painful lecture, it was quite fun and enjoyable.

I’m starting to believe that life is funny about learning and growth. I think we make it much more difficult than it needs to be. Sit in a room. Study the facts. Memorize the basics. How much more impactful the tangible experience of life! But this is how we learn that learning should go. We are offered opportunity to learn and grow day-in and day-out — learn this new approach to dieting… learn this ancient relaxation technique… learn this… learn that… learn it all online without ever leaving your house! I will confess that I am a serious learning and growth advocate. I love to learn new things. I am constantly buying and signing up for programs that teach this that and the other new program, technique or process to grow, evolve and gain higher consciousness and healing.

But I keep coming back to the fact that learning is not knowing… and knowing is not being. When I consider my daily interactions, I realize that there are a multitude of opportunities to learn and grow right in front of my eyes. Instead of searching for the magic formula for healing – I could be actively processing what is right in front of me. According to Debbie Ford‘s shadow work, everything that comes into our awareness is a mirror of ourselves. WOW… talk about opportunity for growth! That’s like… you just totally pushed my buttons… what does that tell me about myself? Instead of focusing on your issues (and I’m not saying you don’t have any!), my opportunity is to push away the other and look squarely at what my mirror is telling me about myself. If you’re in my experience, you’re mirroring something for me… so thank you!!!

I invite you… just for today… to open yourself up to life lessons. What is life trying to teach you today… whether it is the opportunity to experience the majesty of Big Trees – or the chance to see how someone pushing your buttons tells you more about yourself than you ever wanted to know… invite it all in… just for today!

And I wish you many opportunities for learning and growth!! Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor for the trip!

Love and laughter… Rashel


Perception is Reality… right?

I saw a show the other day that talked about the brain… and how we perceive things. It gave an example where it showed a color photo with a white dot in the middle of the picture. The directions were to stare at the white dot. I stared. Then the guy on TV started talking about how our brains filter information and will make adjustments as not to overwhelm our minds. To be perfectly honest, at first, I had no idea why the guy was saying all that. I didn’t notice anything weird about what I’d seen. Then they showed the example again… and the guy referred to the fact that the color photo was swapped with a black and white photo. The crazy thing is… when the photo is first swapped, you still see color! Our brains know what is supposed to be there and we fill in the blanks accordingly. It reminds me of another cool trick that has circled around email in the past… where a bunch of letters are missing from a paragraph, but amazingly when you go to read it, you know exactly what it’s supposed to say. Our brains are amazing… they fill in the blanks.

So… that made me wonder about perception vs. reality. If we see the color of the photograph even though the image has been switched to black and white… then our perception (color) is not reality (black and white)… right? If we can read the paragraph with all the missing letters, then our perception (a complete paragraph) is not reality (a jumble of letters that do not make complete sentences).  But what about situations where no one is pointing out the mismatch? What if we glanced at the photo for a moment and saw color when there was none… but no one was there to point it out? Reality, after all, is relative… right? My reality might very well be that I saw a color photograph. And if I didn’t have the email explanation following the paragraph of incomplete sentences… if it did, in fact, read like a regular paragraph to me – wouldn’t my reality be as such… that I had just read a complete paragraph? I guess the question I’m really getting at is this… Is reality objective or subjective? And how does that effect our daily lives?

I was listening to an audio recently by Brent Phillips. He gives an analogy that really struck a chord with me… a coin. Now… there are inherent qualities to a coin. It’s made of metal. It’s round. One side of the coin is Heads. One side of the coin is Tails. What determines whether you see heads or tails? The way that you look at the coin. The inherent quality of the coin never changes. It always has both a heads side and a tails side. Even if you’re looking at the coin and you only see the heads side… you know that there is a tails side if you decide to look at the coin differently. Whether you’re looking at the heads side or the tails side, it does not change the inherent quality of the coin.

I’d like to suggest that every single thing in our life is like that coin… it has a heads side and a tails side depending on how we look at it. Now you might be asking yourself… which is the positive side… the heads or the tails? Well that’s just our human selves trying to make the subjective into an objective reality again! You know that saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? One person’s pleasure is another’s pain. It’s all based on perception! Have you ever watched “Swamp People” on Discovery Channel? Those people are passionate about hunting alligator. They get excited about hunting their prey – or if they’re not, they do a darn good job pretending! I can’t even imagine going anywhere near the bayou… let alone getting anywhere near an alligator… and definitely wouldn’t try to shoot the thing and pull it up on my boat! PERCEPTION people! This is the highlight of their day!

The definition of Perception from Wikipedia is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to fabricate a mental representation through the process of transduction, which sensors in the body transform signals from the environment into encoded neural signals.[1] All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs.[2] For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory and expectation.

What’s fascinating to me about all of this is how caught up we are in “reality” and needing to “see” in order to believe. On some level, it seems like the world is just one big illusion where we individually fill in the blanks of what is true. That’s certainly what the latest Law of Attraction and positive psychology research seems to be saying. Our perception of reality… is reality. To the extent that we can influence our perceptions… we can influence our reality. WOW.  I guess that’s all for tonight. Stay tuned!

Love and laughter… if you choose to perceive it!  ~Rashel

Where Does Skepticism Fit In?

I’ve been thinking a lot today about skepticism. How does it fit into positive thinking and manifesting your reality? If you doubt… are you ruining your chances of success? Or are you strengthening your commitment to what you find “proof” for? What if you don’t find “proof?”

I believe in energy medicine. The research and explanations that I’ve read make sense to me. But more than that… there is a certain level of “knowing” that exists… a resonance that I connect with when I’m reading about energy medicine and how it works. It actually makes me feel good to read books about energy healing. Why is that? I have no idea. Does that automatically mean it’s real and it will work?

Well, I guess it depends on the “it” and how you define “work.” Or does it? Does it make a difference if you believe something will work or not? I tend to believe it does based on the placebo effect. With the placebo effect, a certain percent of the population will respond to a drug when they think it is active, even if it is,  in reality, simply a sugar pill. So, who are these people who allow their thoughts – thinking that this is an active pill – control their reality?

Why doesn’t the placebo effect work on everyone? I guess that’s asking a lot, considering the fact that the actual pill with an active ingredient doesn’t even work on everyone! My question that has come up recently is this… Is it only these susceptible people who can be “fooled” into the placebo effect that can be helped by healing modalities such as energy medicine? How much do you need to believe in order to receive?

Which brings me back to my initial question about skepticism. Where does it fit into the mix? It is definitely not the case that EVERY time you think something is not going to work, it doesn’t. Nor the opposite, when you do think something is going to work you do not, 100% of the time, find it to be the case. SO… it’s probably true, like so many human situations, that the answer is complex and variable. But where does that leave us when it comes to being skeptical… vs. naive… vs. something in-between. Is there something in-between?

What lies between skeptical and naive? I know many would argue that being naive can get you into trouble. But it might also be the case that being skeptical can prevent you from experiencing healing. If believing, as in the placebo effect, leads to healing… who cares if it’s a sugar pill or not? In that case, what is reality? Is it that the pill is made of sugar and should not really be making a difference? Or is it that, regardless of the content, the pill is making a difference? If we do, in fact, create our own reality – then wouldn’t it make sense that those who are “daydream believers” would end up having a better reality than those who are always looking for reasons why something isn’t going to work?

In the end, I guess I should say that I’m not trying to turn everyone into a Pollyanna who never questions anything and trusts everyone… although – at a certain level… wouldn’t that be nice??… I guess what I am saying is… open up… allow goodness… without being reckless, expect the best to occur – and recognize every moment that proves you right. That’s what I’m shooting for anyway… at least, this week!

Love and laughter to all!  ~Rashel

Don’t Worry… Be Happy!

This simple phrase says it all! A very simple statement on what not to do… don’t worry; and an equally short and simple statement on what to do… be happy!!
There are a few factors that go into being able to accomplish something… we need to be motivated – I think we’ve got that covered here-who wouldn’t want to be happy, right? We’ve got to know what to do… well-can’t get much clearer than that-do not worry and do be happy. And finally… we need to know how to do it. Ahhhh yes… herein lies the rub with this great phrase. We just don’t seem to know how to relax, let go, and enjoy, do we?
Well, we could relax and enjoy… if only we had more time… more money… better looks… a better job… a more supportive spouse…  {feel free to insert your reasons here}…
But alas, life is hard! And there is so much to worry about!! It’s amazing we get a smile in at all. Hold on a minute…
Some time back I was encouraged to keep a gratitude journal. I kept one for a few days-much shorter than the recommended time for sure. I didn’t stop because I couldn’t think of things to be grateful for… I stopped because I felt ridiculous that I needed to keep a gratitude journal to feel good in the first place! When I started thinking about things that didn’t seem like they should “count” because they were just a given-something I took for granted- I started realizing how ridiculously blessed my life is. There seems to be a chasm between the true level of greatness and fortune we have in our lives vs. the amount of complaining that we do.  Why is that?
I’ll give you an example I experienced recently… as I may have mentioned before, I love my job. I work with great people, I get to be creative and more often than not I have projects that are both fun and rewarding. That said, there is a current project that has my panties in a bunch. I found myself complaining often to anyone who would listen about all the atrocities of this project. I even called a couple meetings with higher-ups to vent accordingly. This went on for over a week. When anyone asked me how things were going, I had a hard time saying anything that did not reflect my frustration and angst over my current project.
Now lets take a moment for a quick reality check… still working with phenomenal people… have now recruited even more fabulous people into my web to help me cope with current project… majority of projects are great and I have more opportunity than ever to use, my creative juices. What the heck happened to “don’t worry, be happy?”
I guess we’re hard-wired to worry and look out for everything that could go wrong… saved us from the sabertooth or something to that effect. However, how exactly do we let that go… cause its time to move on already!!
Back to my work story… I decided the other day that this needed to stop. I decided to consciously attempt to stop complaining and force myself to think of everything I could that’s positive about this project. It was a bit of a stretch at first… I appreciate that I am given the opportunity to realize that complaining doesn’t make the project get better!! I managed to come up with a couple more benefits (somewhat meager, I’ll admit, but did the job).
Here’s the thing… I had a great day after that. It’s not like the project disappeared or magically got fun overnight… but guess what- I felt a lot better! I was able to let go a little bit and experience some empathy for the other folks working on this project. Stepping back from the complaining a bit, I was able to see the bigger picture -this project as one of many and with a limited timeline.
I believe that what you focus on you get more of. That said, we (myself included) do not spend near enough time focusing on what’s going well, what we like, what makes us smile, etc.  TRY IT: focus on what you want more of for at least 10 minutes today!
Love and laughter to you!! ~Rashel

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