Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Imagination as Reality…

If you think about it… prior to anything actually existing, it first has to be thought of. First comes the idea… then the decision to act… then the doing of the act or the creation of the object. On May 31, 1913, John Paul Jones completed the mile run in 4:14.4 minutes and was recorded in the world record books as having done so. For 41 years, no one ran faster than a 4-minute mile because they didn’t believe it was possible. On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister redefined reality by finishing in 3:59.4 minutes. Bannister, a medical student, developed his own training methods, which may be what gave him the imagination to believe that running faster than a 4 minute mile was possible.

What role does imagination play in our creation of reality? Do we have to believe before we can achieve? What if you believed but you didn’t achieve? What if you achieved even though you didn’t really believe? Well, I don’t exactly have the answer. I do believe that taking time to imagine what you want in your life… asking yourself the question, “what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?” or “what would I do if money were not a factor?” is a fabulous way to open your true self to the possibilities that could exist for you. Go ahead… take a few minutes to answer those questions for yourself!

Sports is an area where mental practice and visualization is now pretty common. As just one example, a study by Dr. Blasslotto at University of Chicago found that a group of basketball players who physically practiced free-shots for 1 hour daily collectively improved by 24%. Another group who practiced daily by visualizing successfully making free-throws, without actually physically shooting a basketball, collectively improved by 23%. That’s 1% difference between a group that did versus a group that imagined. 1%!

I love this history of the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy that I found on Wikipedia
Merton’s concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy stems from the Thomas theorem, which states that “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” Which to me means that if you believe something to be true… and maybe if you just believe it possible… you will act in ways that influence both yourself and others to make the likelihood of that belief more probable.

According to Thomas, people react not only to the situations they are in, but also, and often primarily, to the way they perceive the situations and to the meaning they assign to these perceptions. Therefore, their behavior is determined in part by their perception and the meaning they give to the situations they are in, rather than by the situations themselves. Once people convince themselves that a situation really has a certain meaning, regardless of whether it actually does, they will take very real actions in consequence.

I’m not trying to imply that sitting on your couch imagining what could be is the road to riches. I guess what I’m saying is that, although visualization and imagination alone are not the answer… action without imagination will only get you to the 4:14:4 mile. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… hard work and determination will take you far. It’s just that… at the end of the day – or your lifetime – don’t you want to be Bannister… the one that broke the barrier… the one that believed in, and therefore accomplished, the impossible? Well, it has to start with the belief and imagination that it is possible.

In addition to your daily actions, take time to imagine and visualize your greatest life. Whenever you’re getting ready to take action, imagine the outcome being the best it can be… and believe, even for a moment, that it is possible! Lets start now!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

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Pause… and Effect

I’ve been reading Martha Beck‘s latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. I like Martha’s books and her column in O Magazine. The thing is, I find that her most simple and straightforward advice is the hardest to implement. In her book, The Joy Diet, the number one road to JOY she says is pausing… taking time to meditate or find stillness every day. I’d tell you more about the road to joy, but she suggests in her book that you not move on to the next step until you’ve mastered the one before… so that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Now I’m reading about Finding Your Way… which is divided into four parts. The first is wordlessness — which again pertains to pausing… stillness… connecting to your nonverbal self for a period of time each day. I read this and a part of me resonates with truth and a certain knowing… Y E S !!!  and then I stop to wonder… why am I not doing this? Why is this so dang hard to implement when there is no part of me that questions the value? I realize that this is true of numerous things in my life… the difference between knowing and doing. Exercise comes to mind… eating healthy meals and snacks… drinking lots of water… always lathering on the sunscreen… the list goes on. Then again, if I had to choose just one thing to do every day that I thought would have the biggest impact on my life, it would definitely be meditating or taking time to be still and let go of the verbal chatter. Yet, I still don’t do it. Oh don’t get me wrong… it’s not like I never do it – but I don’t do it every day. And there’s something about the ritual of doing it every day. It’s like taking a walk every now and again… doesn’t exactly lend itself to a fit and toned body.

I was reading an article by Leo Babauta on how he managed to start flossing after years of not. He has a pretty straightforward approach that may just make way too much sense to be embraced by the masses. He suggests that you pick a trigger, use a visual reminder, start very small, focus on the enjoyment and mark it on your calendar. (read the whole article here… http://zenhabits.net/floss/). The take away for me is that I would like to use his approach to start meditating every day… tackle one small thing, take a very small step forward, set up my environment for success and track my progress. OK… now we’re talking.

I do love to meditate, but there are certain things I associate with this practice. At least 20 minutes of quiet time with no distractions. HAHAHAHA… that’s why I don’t do it more often. It is rare for me to have this combination of factors in my current life! I’ve actually managed to carve out some time at work to meditate… but the idea of integrating this practice into my home life seems overwhelming. That’s where Leo’s approach starts to seem more feasible.

Here’s my plan to add stillness (we’ll get to meditation later!)…
pick a trigger… my trigger will be brushing my teeth in the morning and at night;
use a visual reminder… I will put a sticky note on my toothbrush;
start very small… I will be still for 2 minutes – the amount of time my electric toothbrush takes;
focus on the enjoyment… I will take a moment to be thankful for this moment of stillness; and
mark it on your calendar… I will get a small calendar to track my progress and post it on the wall next to the bathroom sink.

What would you like to do that you aren’t doing because it seems overwhelming or too big to pursue? How can you incorporate the steps above to realize your goal? The beginning of a great dream begins with one step. TAKE IT… track it… do it.

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Deprivation 101

I’ve just started reading a book about self-care. The first chapter talks about deprivation. It’s interesting because on one hand, I recognize the abundance in my life and could easily convince myself that I am deprived of nothing… or at least, nothing that is truly necessary for living a complete and happy life. On the other hand, when I was tasked with the exercise of completing the sentence, “I feel deprived of…” the list was longer than you could possibly imagine for someone who just said they have everything they need for a happy life! Wait… is that what I said?

Deprivation is interesting. On some level, it seems to be just a matter of not having what you want. I feel deprived of sleep. I feel deprived of alone time. I feel deprived of time with my girlfriends. I feel deprived of periods of rejuvenation. I feel deprived of regular exercise. I feel deprived of time for daily yoga and meditation. As you can see, I am sooooo deprived! I guess it’s true what they say about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… once one level is satisfied, you just move on to the next!

As I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about deprivation, the areas where I feel deprived and what I could possibly do about it, one thing has become perfectly clear to me. At some core level, I am fully responsible and completely accountable for every bit of deprivation that I feel. If I am deprived of time, it is about how I use my time. If I feel deprived of sleep, it is that I am not choosing to go to bed at a certain time each night. If I am deprived of regular exercise, I am not choosing to make that activity a priority in my life. Yes… as much as I would like to blame the world for my complete and utter abundance of deprivation… the fact remains that at the end of the day, I believe it is I who am completely and totally responsible for each and every bit of deprivation that I experience.

The other thing that has come to my attention as I’ve been observing this deprivation stuff, is this: I’ve come to realize that the biggest deprivation that I inflict upon myself is that of not being enough. I do not acknowledge and appreciate that I am enough… in any given moment, what I have brought to the table, whether the table is set or not, whether the tablecloth is dirty or clean, is enough! The seeking is not necessary. The proving of oneself is not necessary. The people pleasing and constant drive to be more… not necessary.

I guess on some unconscious level, I’ve always believed that if I accepted myself as “enough,” I would stop trying to be more. I would stop striving to be a better person… to leave a legacy… to make a difference. Here’s what I’m coming to believe now… depriving yourself of being enough takes energy away from being all that you can be. Accept yourself exactly as you are… and make room for abundance to flow! No more energy alloted to needing to be more… do more… have more. All the energy now gets focused on being your best self – whatever that looks like.

Where do you deprive yourself of being enough? How can you find ways to accept what is and turn your energy toward living fully in your current state? Love and laughter to you on this amazing journey!!  ~Rashel

Jamba, Sleepovers and Universal Truth

Let me just start by saying that I love my daughter to pieces. She is a caring, sweet, giving, good-hearted girl. She also wants things… lots of things… some., if not most, of the time. The other thing I find to be the case is that it’s never really quite enough. We just finished going to the movies the other day and no sooner had we walked out of the theater and she was asking to go to Jamba Juice. A seemingly simple request for a playdate turns into… can you take us to the park?… can we go to yogurt shack?… can my friend stay through dinner?… can we have a sleepover?!!!

On the one hand, I like the fact that my daughter is able to identify and ask for what she wants. Lord knows, I could take a few pointers in that arena. If you don’t make it clear, how can anyone truly know what you want? Is she supposed to assume that she’s received her quota of good fortune for the day and set her own limits on what she asks for? Is it truly greedy to ask for what you want… especially if you just finished enjoying something else you asked for and received?

On the other hand, it makes me feel unappreciated to be constantly asked for more… and also to have to say no so many times in a day!

The other day I began to ponder how all this “getting what you want” business is similar to what I’m trying to learn how to do with manifestation. The steps I’ve been reading about go like this… 1. Get clear on what you don’t want. 2. Identify what you do want. (btw – My daughter has those two in the bag!)  3. Imagine how you’d feel if you already had what you want.  4. Let go and allow it to come.

I wonder how much more willing I’d be… and how much happier I might be in giving… if my daughter never expressed the disappointment of the no… but focused instead on the joy of the yes – when they happen. I do notice that whenever I get the tantrum that follows the no, or not this time… it makes me want to give less, if not start taking away what has already been given! What if the universe is like this, too? What if the tantrums and the expressed disappointments equal less for you… and the joy and excitement of what you’ve got or have been given equal more for you? What a shift for most of us in how we view and talk about our lives. It is so very easy to get caught up, talk about and focus on what we didn’t get or don’t have. Could that focus, in fact, be keeping you from having more?

Here’s my challenge to you… every time you hear yourself thinking or commenting on something you didn’t get or don’t want more of… stop yourself! Immediately think of three things you’ve gotten from someone or given yourself recently that made you feel good. If you can’t think of anything… try harder! If you want to take it a step further, take a moment to email, call or write that person a note of gratitude!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

What Do You Want, Exactly?

I’ve talked before about the hindrance of getting caught up in knowing what you don’t want and not taking it to the next step of what you do want. I read something recently that caught my attention… it said that noticing the things in your life that you don’t like… is a gift. It actually allows you to get clear on what you do want. I think most of us don’t appreciate or accept that gift… because, if you’re like me, you don’t usually move past identifying what you don’t want and clearly articulate what you do want. The emphasis being on clear articulation!

So, lets take a look-see! Have you clearly defined your ideal job, daily routine, spouse, family, friends, fun, health, vacations… yeah… me neither! There are a couple of things to point out about identifying what you want. First of all, you need to write them down. That’s the A#1 thing that everyone says about creating goals… there is just a whole other level of commitment and buy-in that takes place once the pen hits the paper… or the fingers hit the keys – if you prefer. And although this sounds paradoxical, I believe this is true of writing your wants as well. You need to write your wants in the present tense – as if they’ve already occurred. If you think about it, if you say that you want  more money – then you are focusing on wanting, not having. I have an abundance of money is a much better statement than I want an abundance of money.

The other things to include, and these are not talked about as much, are what’s motivating you and how you’re going to feel when you get what you want. Our unconscious mind is very much connected to emotion. When we want something, it is usually, if not always, the fact that we want that thing in order to feel a certain way. Money will make us happy, secure, important — money in and of itself is not the goal – the goal is how the money makes you feel and what you are able to do with the money. Focus on how you want to feel and why you want the goal in the first place. For example, I feel happy and secure, enjoying an abundance of money that flows to me in expected and unexpected ways. My needs are met and I am able to buy things that make my life enjoyable and easy. I easily care for the financial needs of myself and my family.

There… that wasn’t so hard. Oh wait – it might actually take more than just writing it down once and then being done with it. On the other hand, some things might actually be that easy. I guess there’s one way to find out! For some things, it is probably safe to say that writing your want down, even when you include your motivations and feelings, will not result in immediate manifestation. We have way too many years of believing it needs to be more difficult than that! Here’s a tactic that I read about recently. After you’ve gone through the various areas of you life and written down all of your wants in positive tense, including your motivations for wanting what you want and how you will feel when you have these wants… then record this script in your own voice and listen to it daily. Or read it aloud to yourself every day.

I’m going to work on my own this week… in between 4th of July celebrations and what-not. Let me know if you do the same, and what you notice, if anything, about the impact on your wants. Love and laughter… and happy 4th of July to you!!!  ~Rashel

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