Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “bliss”

What’s Your Story?

We all have stories. Stories are what we believe to be true and what we tell others about our lives. Rumi says… “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” I find it interesting that he does not say, “unfold your own story,” or even, “unfold your own truth,” but “unfold your own myth.”

I was listening to an NPR podcast the other day and they were interviewing Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about stories that really struck me. He revealed that he was beaten as a child. Apparently he shared that truth with some kids when he was doing a talk in order that they might relate to him… to understand that even if you have a troubled youth, you can still turn your life around. The point he was making on the podcast was that he had consciously chosen not to perpetuate that story… that he worked hard to create a new story that he had shared with the world. Until that time, and only for the very specific purpose of relating to those kids, he had chosen not to share that story of himself and his life and to share and communicate a new story… one of empowerment and strength rather than victim hood and struggle.

Sometimes I think we get very caught up in what’s “true.” Reality, if you will. But what that realization illuminated for me is that we can choose to focus on other parts of our lives that are just as true and real without perpetuating the parts of our story that do not foster our own growth and development as a human being. Now, I am not advocating for a life of lies. I am not implying that everyone should wake up tomorrow pretending that their past is non-existent and acting as if the sky is green. I’m simply saying that we all have choices. Choice about what to share… what to focus on.. what to pay attention to on a daily basis. In any given day, there are as many, if not more, positive occurrences as negative… so why in the world do we feel so inclined, when asked how we’re doing, to list the 2-5 things that have gone wrong in the day? I know it’s not just me who does this because I walk around hearing of everyone’s issues on a regular basis. I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m just recognizing that we are very much hard-wired to focus on our negative story instead of perpetuating the positive aspects of our day and lives. I’d say we can’t help it… but that might be seen as taking on a bit of victim mentality, no?

What is your story? How do you feel when you tell your story? Does your story focus on the amazing, wonderful events that have shaped your life… or does you get caught up in the negative, difficult details? Do share your story!

Love and light!  ~Rashel

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Acceptance in Action

I often think about acceptance. I really believe this is a misunderstood concept. I know I’ve blogged about acceptance before… the importance of it… the value in it… how hard it can be to master! It came up for me again the other day. I was half-way through a yoga class and began to notice my own self judgment. In a room full of yogi’s in training and full length mirrors… ones mind does tend to wander toward comparison. How in the world is that girl getting her arm to go straight up right now? Am I the only one in the room using blocks today? Why is this still so challenging after years of yoga classes?

What came up for me is how natural it is to think that judgment and criticism will lead to change. Why else would we do it? If I honestly believed that all of the negative self chatter would keep me stuck… would I really continue it time after time? I think there is a part of us that believes if we truly accept… if we let go of self judgment and criticism… that we will sink into a state of laziness, carelessness or general malaise. And on this point, I think we’re wrong.

I took some time to practice acceptance right there in that yoga studio What would it feel like to honor my achy knee… my tight shoulders… my protruding belly? Could I allow myself to be fully present in that moment? Appreciating the act of showing up on the mat… despite being exhausted and sporting a to-do list a mile long. Could I invoke a paradigm shift in that moment… moving from a place of self denigration to self acceptance? And more importantly, if I did… what would it mean for my commitment to yoga… to exercising… to my general health?

You see, I think the issue with acceptance is that we think it’s not possible to both accept and act. I would like to argue that it is. I realized as I stood in that yoga class, hand on block, reaching ever so fervently toward the sky, that accepting my limitations in that moment did not make me want to quit. Actually, if anything, I felt free. Free to just be… to exist in that moment without shame or judgment.

It felt good. And while I’d like to say it transferred immediately and directly to all areas of my life… alas… it has proven to be akin to many other transformational experiences I’ve had… profound and difficult to consistently implement! But it has made me think twice about how we encourage change… in both ourselves and others. If acceptance and change can successfully go hand-in-hand… perhaps we can do away with judgment and criticism altogether, no? It might not come easy, but I believe it’s worth the effort to give it a try. For ourselves… and those we interact with every day!

Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

Shining Brightly

My behavior change process has been rolling along. I’ve been sticking to some of the changes… checking my to-do list in the morning, squats when I first sit down, and tapping when I turn on the shower, while some of the others have fallen away. I started with three changes and then two weeks later I added three more. I’m thinking that was too soon to add more habits. Or… maybe it wasn’t that I added more habits too quickly… maybe there were other issues with the habits I chose. The ones that have stuck are actually a combination of one from my first round and two from my second round. So maybe I need to spend more time comparing the ones that stuck vs. the ones that didn’t.

That said… there’s one thing about this behavior change business that’s been nagging at me. I keep asking myself, “Why am I doing this again?” I guess the notion is that making all of these changes is going to make me a better person… or happier… healthier, perhaps? Maybe I just haven’t stuck with it long enough. I mean, granted, trying to adopt six habits over the last month is hardly a true journey into the world of behavior change! Maybe you’re only supposed to choose habits that you think will make you a better, happier person?

I work in healthcare. The premise of health education is that if you would only change your behavior, you’d be happy and healthy. I teach providers how to work with patients to change their behavior. I’m bought in… hook, line and sinker. But lately… dare I say… I’ve been questioning things. Do you change the behavior… and then get happy? Or do you get happy… and then the behaviors change?

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, isn’t it? If I was thinner, I’d be happier. If I was happier, I’d have more energy and be more active. Being more active would lend itself to being thinner. But I’m not thinner. I’m not more active. So, I try to implement behavior changes to make myself more active. But they tend to backfire. I don’t have the energy. I’m feeling down today and I don’t make it out of bed until 10am. It begs the question… how do I get happy now? Cause if I could get happy now… I’d have more energy. And the cycle continues!

There have been multiple times in my life where I’ve lost weight. Honestly, they were not the times that I was trying to lose weight! When I try to lose weight, it doesn’t usually work out so good. I get frustrated. I feel deprived. It aint pretty! When I think back to the times I’ve lost weight, I often question how it happened. I wasn’t even trying! Aha… maybe there’s something to that? It was just a particularly good time in my life… I was happy… and the healthy habits and weight loss just happened.

Maybe healthcare should really be all about self-acceptance and appreciation. Getting really happy about who you are… exactly as you are now. Recognizing that you are a beautiful, shining light in the world regardless of how much you weigh… how many friends you have… or how well you fit in. There is definitely a core part of me that knows without a doubt… this focus would change the world!

Until then my friends, I wish you love and light and encourage you to shine as brightly as you can!  ~Rashel

Are We Having Fun Yet?

So much of what I read about being happy and getting what you want out of life has to do with perspective. Be happy with what you have and only then can you get more. Well… if I was happy with what I had, would I even want more? I mean… in principle, I get it. If you’re walking around miserable and complaining about your life… you’re not exactly in a state of good vibrations that would welcome positivity and prosperity! And really, I know I have tons… I mean massive amounts… to be thankful for. I should be just walking around in a state of awe at how outrageously lucky I am and how much I have to be grateful for… but for some reason, I’m not.

Why is that? I don’t think I’m an ungrateful person. If I stop to think about it, I would never admit to being anything less than abundant! Amazing family, friends, community, job… I could go on and on. But the reality is, that’s not what I spend the majority of my day focusing on. I think about what needs to get done. What’s bothering me and how I might be able to fix it. How I do more than everyone else in the world… well – maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration – but I do spend a lot of time thinking about how much needs to be done and how much of it I do! lol

I was just cleaning the house this morning and thinking to myself… well, this is NOT fun! I don’t really want to be cleaning. But I don’t work on Monday so this is my payment for not working full-time. Like so many things in everyday life, this is just one of those things that needs to get done – and currently, I don’t have enough money to pay for someone else to do it. So, as I was wiping away, I wondered – how do I shift to a positive place when I’m doing something that’s no fun? (and it was toilets, people… so I had to think long and hard!)

I tried the gratitude process. I stopped for a moment to appreciate having a toilet… and electricity, running water, and the like. Then I thought about how thankful I am to have a house… in a great neighborhood… and the money to buy cleaning supplies and toilet paper… and the functional arms and legs that have the ability to clean the house. That was helping… a little… but really I was kinda thinking to myself – I’d rather be sipping wine by the pool and having someone else clean my house. Now THAT is something I’d really be grateful for! (never mind that it was only 11 am… you get the point)

I decided to try Plan B. I thought for a moment about how I could make the cleaning more bearable. I decided to put on some music. Actually, I decided to BLAST some music, like my Mom used to do when she cleaned house (she might actually still do this). I plugged my iPod into the sound system and sang like a canary the whole time I was cleaning. It actually helped… A LOT.

It made me wonder where else in my life I might be able to make slight modifications and end up having more fun. Having fun is really important. It’s like exercise for the soul. I realize that as a Mom who is constantly taking care of others, it’s very easy to lose sight of what makes me happy… what feeds my soul and adds joy to my life. Sometimes I get into a mode of black and white thinking. Having more fun means I need to go on a week-long vacation – probably without kids… possibly without my husband (just kidding, honey!) The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that drastic. Just like adding music… in this case, very LOUD music… to a situation, I was able to shift my own energy from feeling like this was something I HAD to do, to something that was actually somewhat enjoyable. In this case, I was able to shift myself to a place of positivity even though I wasn’t sailing on a yacht or sipping wine by the pool.

So between noticing and being grateful for what you have in your life… and finding ways to notice, pay attention to, and add moments of joy and fun to your everyday routine – you, too, can find greater moments of positivity and joy. I encourage you to take a few moments right now. What are you grateful for? Do you have something fun planned? If not, where could you add some fun? How could you “fun-up” some activities that might not be all that fun in and of themselves? What makes you smile… if not out-and-out laugh? Where are you missing opportunities to add humor, joy and satisfaction to you day? Anything worth doing is worth having fun doing!

As always, thanks for letting me share my thoughts.  Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

Aligning conscious beliefs with reality

I really do believe that our thoughts create our reality. I also believe that our external reality is a mirror of our internal state-our thoughts and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. That said… I am still trying to explain and rationalize my experiences over the last two weeks. I got really sick – mentioned that last week. But here’s the thing… it kept going! I was forgetting things, got a parking ticket, had a platter shatter inexplicably in my hands, causing a severe gash in my left finger, forgot my work badge, causing lots of extra signing in and tracking down keys to my desk… it actually goes on, but I’ll spare you the drama! The point is… what happened? I don’t really  believe that things are random. Maybe I needed to learn something? But here’s the more important question… if I believe that my thoughts create my reality and that I have the power to alter the material world by how I perceive and take in the events in my everyday life… which I do… then why haven’t I had the ability over the last couple weeks to shift my reality from pesky negativity to joyous bliss? OK… that may be a little extreme. We can’t have joyous bliss all the time… can we? It is interesting when you listen to the latest gurus on manifesting and creating your reality… there is definitely a yay side and a nay side… one side says you can create all that you want – it’s easy if you let it be easy – relax and allow… the other side acknowledges that tough times exist and are specifically in our life to teach us – therefore we should welcome the hardship as a lesson and allow ourselves to be taught by the experience.

Well… I’m still coughing, exhausted most of the time, my finger hurts and my life feels generally chaotic and messy. I’m trying to bring my conscious awareness to what I am grateful for in each moment, rather than what I am frustrated with. For example, I’m glad my entire finger did not get sliced off… just a portion thereof. I’m glad my parking ticket was from a private group, which apparently charges less than the city of Walnut Creek when doling out the fines. But somehow, these attempts at glass half full are falling short of having any actual impact on the overall gist of my days. In general, I realize that my life is good. Great, in fact. And yet… there is that part of me that wants no friction… no interference with all things aligned and well… a part that wants bliss and nothing less! And of course, the ability to manifest this perfection at will. Too much to ask? I don’t know… doesn’t it seem like some people posses this ability? The ones that have fortune handed to them with the slightest effort on their part. You know what I mean! Then again, maybe that is just because we’re not seeing what is going on behind the scenes.

Alas, I will probably never write an actual book because it seems like all I ever do in this blog is talk about all the things I have questions about and never any answers! I like to complain about the fact that I’m doing all the work and not getting any of the results. That is not actually true, if I’m honest. I do see results and have noticed great progress in my life in how I communicate and work with others. Also, in how I view the world and expect positive outcomes for myself and others. I guess that’s why this little hiccup is causing me such a stir. I’m feeling off my game and I don’t like… no sir, I don’t like it one bit! I guess my quest over the next few weeks will be to notice what shifts my momentum.. because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that “this too shall pass” and I would do well to learn as much as I can from this part so I’m ready for the next go-round.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re able to relate. If you’d like to share some of your own journey with beliefs vs. reality, I’d love to hear. Wishing you laughter and joy in each and every moment – never hurts to put it out there!!!  ~Rashel

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