Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “Consciousness”

Practicing Self Compassion…

There is a reason they call it a “practice”!!!

I may have mentioned before that I am participating in Leo Babauta’s Sea Change Program, where ever month there is a small behavior change that you commit to incorporating into your life. For the month of May, this tiny habit that we are attempting to incorporate is self compassion. Seems like an easy enough endeavor… but I’m here to tell ya… it’s trickier than you might at first imagine!

What I’ve noticed is that, despite my initial compassionate, loving words to myself, I immediately follow said compassion with a smidge of negative chatter that is like adding a “yeah, but” to my attempts at self-healing. I yelled (spoke sternly is probably more accurate, but it might as well have been yelling with the tone and the eye rolling that accompanied) at my son the entire drive to school this morning. I was very irritated because he made me re-tie his shoes 3 times due to the laces not being the correct amount of “tight.” I was explaining (do you like how I’ve relabeled the yelling to explaining now?!) how he needs to take responsibility for being on time to school and that, at the ripe old age of 9, he really shouldn’t need me to be tying his shoes… let alone insisting that I retie his shoes numerous times in one morning.

When I finally dropped him at school, he slammed the door and never looked back. I can only imagine what was going through his head. I’m pretty sure it was not along the lines of, “thank goodness I have such a great Mom who helps me understand the error of my ways.” In the great irony of a good day, I realize that the very thing I told my son he needed to do, which was to take responsibility for himself (from my viewpoint, this meant getting out the door on time), he was actually doing (from his viewpoint, making sure that his shoes were tied in a way that worked for him). Funny… that whole irony thing.

Anyway… back to self compassion. After a bit of verbal self-abuse, I did manage to remember the habit for the month. I congratulated myself for having the presence of mind to remember that beating myself up over the events of the morning was not actually going to rewrite the events of the morning for the better. Instead, I took a moment to acknowledge how difficult it is to be a Mom who is trying to balance consciousness and reality! I am, in fact, very thankful for this month’s sea change habit of self compassion. I think it is an easily overlooked habit that can have the potential to hugely impact our lives for the better. After spending numerous moments today offering myself compassion, I have to say that it feels pretty good to be loved… even if, and maybe especially if, it is by my very own self.

Wishing you gobs of love and self compassion!    ~Rashel

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Acorn to Oak

I was listening to a program recently that was giving the analogy of an acorn turning into an Oak tree. The basic take-away, at least according to my perception, was that we already have everything we need inside of us to become everything we are meant to be. The acorn, in its tiny seed form, holds the blueprint for a great, mighty Oak. Of course, there are the external factors that do have some influence on how well the tree grows and develops. Good soil, water, sunshine. But as long as the basic needs are met, the tree will grow and fulfill its destiny.

Could that be true for us humans as well?

And if it is true, how do we use this analogy to help us relax into becoming our best self? What are the soil, water and sunshine equivalents in our own lives? And how do we learn to distinguish between the necessary elements that will help us grow… and those that won’t, or even worse, actually hinder our growth?

I guess I’m wondering if I’m trying too hard. How would my world change if I believed that I already had all the knowledge I needed to be my best self? At this point in my life, I will admit, I’ve done a lot of seeking… read a lot of self-help books… and purchased more than my share of “healing” programs. If this acorn bit is true, perhaps I didn’t really need any of it? Or maybe a little bit is fine… like watering the plant… but too much is like a flood. (Certainly I need some of it as fodder for these blog posts, right?!!) I feel like I’m always trying to do things to learn and grow. To some extent that’s who I am and I like it. On the flip side, this constant struggle to always do more is exhausting.

Perhaps the answer lies in paying more attention to what feeds my soul. When it comes to so-called self-help books… Am I reading because I think I’m not enough and I need to learn more… or because the content of what I’m reading excites me and makes me want to keep reading? When it comes to volunteering… Am I saying yes because it’s something I want to do… something that will have a beneficial consequence to me or someone I love… or am I saying yes because I feel guilty and want others to like me?

Aha moment… I haven’t spent enough time making sure that the way I spend my time is supporting my best self. One example is magazines… I read a lot of them. I’m realizing I get a very small return on that time invested. Once in a great while I’ll apply the information I read… or pass it on to a friend. Most of the time, the information goes in and out… with nary an impact. Why do I keep reading magazines… and more importantly, why do I keep buying them? Maybe there’s a belief somewhere inside that reading magazines will make me smart… or that there will be information in there that cannot be missed? (Any therapists out there who want to weigh in?)

I’m making a commitment: Spend more time thinking about how I spend my time! This, by the way, is very much aligned with my theme for 2013 – my year for making conscious choices. I guess my take away is this… there are a lot of ways to spend time. If we already have the blueprint for success within ourselves… perhaps the best use of that time is to consciously choose things that make us happy or make us proud.

I encourage you to share your thoughts…

Love and laughter to you! ~Rashel

As Above, So Below…

What if everything in our lives is a reflection of our own current state? I know, right… scary! I can’t seem to get my mind of this train of thought recently. I’m tired (refer to earlier post… I’m tired!) I’m feeling disconnected from friends… I’m overwhelmed with work stuff… and home stuff… and all the other things I’ve signed up for stuff!  Sometimes I feel like I want to stop trying… but then I realize… it’s not that I want to stop trying… I just want to be really good at everything I do and I want it to feel like I’m not trying so hard to make it all work.

If my outer life is a reflection of my current state… then my current state includes exhaustion… struggle… and discomfort, but it also includes happiness, joy and laughter. In fact, I’m a pretty glass-half-full kind of person, but even with my optimism, I find myself overwhelmed… and quite often, I might add. It’s not that I want or expect life to be easy… (well, maybe I want that, but I don’t expect it)… it’s just that I’m surprised at how difficult it is considering how optimistic I am and how much I enjoy life. I’m a nice person… I’m kind to others… I work hard… I think positively… I laugh often… I’m open to life… I find humor in most situations. I guess there’s a part of me that feels like… Jeez – I get it – I’m doing it –  let the good times roll, already! But I digress…

So back to this notion that whatever is showing up in my life is a reflection of my inner state. Well… there’s a part of me that just finds that disturbing! Is it just me? Is it really possible that everything that shows up is a reflection? There is a part of me that resists… remember how they used to tell you in school – if it’s always or never – it’s probably false? Then again, there’s a part of me that thinks it’s possible.  I know there are issues I don’t want to deal with, and they often get pushed down and ignored. Even though those issues get pushed down, they probably still  influence my reality. So, maybe some of the issues that present in my life are reflections of unconscious thoughts or things that I don’t want to deal with. Hmmmmm….

Action step… if you dare! Pay attention to the areas in your life that bug you… and think about why. What is it about that person or situation that upsets you? Now the fun part… think about ways that you might be exhibiting this trait. I know it sounds crazy… but it’s scary how often, if you’re really honest, you can see aspects of yourself in all manner of behaviors. I’ll give you a quick example from my life. I was really irritated with someone because I felt like they were not giving me enough respect and appreciation. At first I couldn’t imagine how this could be a reflection, because I feel like I’m very conscientious about being respectful and offering praise and recognition. When I pressed myself further and thought about where in my life I was withholding respect and appreciation… It dawned on me that I wasn’t doing a very good job of respecting and appreciating myself!  And yet, here I was expecting the other person to respect and appreciate me!  Ahhh… the irony!

The other part of this exercise is to pay attention to someone who you think is amazing, inspiring or fabulous in some way or another. What specific traits do you admire about that person? Then take time to acknowledge that you hold those very traits within yourself. If you did not have them, you wouldn’t notice them in others… it goes for both the positive and less positive aspects!

Something to ponder. Love and laughter to you!  ~Rashel

 

More on Reality…

I went on vacation last week… thus no post last Monday – sorry about that! There were quite a few instances that made me think of whether we do, or do not, create our own reality. On some level, I believe that we do… but I’m not always sure how…or for that matter, why? Our family was supposed to go to Disneyland for a week. At the last-minute, some pieces of the details fell through. We still wanted to do something so my husband did lots of web surfing and landed on pismo beach. Sounded good! Then we couldn’t get the place we wanted because they were booked. I started checking on condo rentals, but everything was full.

So, lets stop for a moment to consider… this was the reality I was creating.  The inability to find a place to relax and enjoy a getaway with my family. Stress and tension over where we were going to stay, if we were going to go, when we would know if we were going or not… you get the point. Nothing so great about that reality. If we create our own reality, then I was creating that. WHY?

Instead of continuing to stress out, I decided to focus on what I wanted to get from my vacation. Rest and relaxation! Not having to plan anything or hurry in any way. Laying on the beach or at the pool. Getting massages and body wraps. Doing yoga and going on hikes. Being around happy, well-rested people who want to do everything I want to do! Probably a little bit idealistic, but I tried to relax and assume that the universe would deliver one way or the other – even if the vacation didn’t end up seeming exactly like what I wanted – I would be open to the possibility that I would get exactly what I needed right now. Which, I will admit, is very hard to do when nothing seems to be coming together – but did the best I could.

Here’s what happened. My husband saw a picture one of our friends put on FB. He messaged her to ask about the place. She was having a great time and recommended it highly.  He booked it for 2 nights and put plans in the works to stay at a friend’s cabin for a couple more nights. Of course, we were planning to have a longer vacation than two nights and the friend’s cabin was not a sure thing, but I focused on what I wanted and played along. We headed off on our week-long vacation with two nights booked.

Everything seemed to slip into place as we went along. Car ride was seamless. We were upgraded to a nicer room upon checking in. The place had a pool and a spa and a slide! We put on our suits and headed to the pool for some relaxation. Then… 4:00 rolled around and it started pouring rain… thunder and lightning ensued. Really?

Here’s where I think it gets interesting. The dictionary doesn’t offer much distinction between fact and reality. I believe there is quite a distinction. The fact was that it was storming. But we each had an opportunity to define our own reality by determining our perception and reaction to the facts before us. Since hanging at the pool and lying in the sun were what we had planned for ourselves, it was very easy to get discouraged and feel like the vacation was not going well. However, it was also possible to grab the umbrella and find some new adventures… ones that we might not otherwise have had if it hadn’t rained. We ventured out and had a fun night… which included racing through some very big puddles! We spent a little more time in the room than we had initially thought we would… which made it even nicer that we’d been upgraded!

The cabin that we were hoping to get for the last 2 nights did not come through… are you noticing a theme here? We booked one additional night at the current hotel and then got invited to stay with some friends in their condo the last night. The extra day at the pool was the nicest of all (which we would have missed if we’d only spent two nights), we had a great time with our friends and in the end, had a relaxing, enjoyable vacation. And, looking back on my list of vacation desires… I did pretty good. We slept in every morning, we laid by the pool, I got a massage and did some yoga in the room. Pretty good. So… back to the question about creating our own reality. Did I do that? Did I just get lucky? Is creating your reality just a matter of choosing to see the positive aspects of the various “facts” that present themselves? Or is there more to it than that?  I don’t know… but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love and laughter!!  ~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

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

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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