Thoughts Become Words, Words Become Deeds…

Mahatma Ghandi


Keep your thoughts positive,
because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive,
because your words become your behaviours.
Keep your behaviours positive,
because your behaviours become your habits.
Keep your habits positive,
because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive,
because your values become your destiny.

~ Gandhi ~

These words showcase the importance of positive thinking.  Your thoughts directly create your reality. They create you as a person. All of you. Your destiny, as Ghandi said.

You determine your destiny.

If you think your life sucks, it will. If you love life, it loves you back.

I am blessed because it’s always been easy for me to see the bright side to things. A friend of mine once told me one of my superpowers was to see the silver lining in anything.

I know it’s not that always that easy. In fact, sometimes it seems darned near impossible to feel good about life. To think positively and be happy.

The key is to keep trying. It’s like anything, it gets easier the more you do it. Like Ghandi says thoughts and words and deeds lead to habit. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes far easier to flip back into a more positive frame of mind.

That’s because our thoughts and emotions literally become easier to think when they are habitual. Physically, I mean. The more you do something, or think something or feel something- the more you do it. Our thought patterns become a habit just brushing your teeth. Because it’s those thought habits that actually create those physical habits.  This is how neurolinguistic programing works. By creating new thought habits.

You’ve heard before that the only thing you can control in life is your reaction to it. It’s true and it all comes down to how you frame your perspective. Negatively or positively.

Any negative event or crisis can be the catalyst for something incredibly positive. Something that seems like a dream come true could turn out to be a nightmare.

Imagine a friend getting fired. Seems like the worst thing in the world, completely unfair and ridiculous. But it turns out it gives your friend the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to go back to school to study Architecture, their dream.  A shift in perception, seeing the opportunity in crisis, allows events to be a vehicle for growth and change.

If you can manage it, next time life throws something that seems to suck your way, imagine for a moment what good could from it. What kind of opportunity?

My silver lining powers lead me to point out the silver linings in (appropriate) situations. You tell me it sucks gas is so expensive, I’ll reply: at least it has people thinking about their fuel consumption. You see more people biking, walking and taking transit because of it.

I know this positivity can get on people’s nerve. I understand. I just can’t help it. It’s a habit!

First Peak Spiritual Experiences

I’ve had quite a few peak spiritual experiences in this life. Moments of absolute clarity, feelings of oneness where the illusion of separation between me and the divine lifts.

These are the kinds of moments seekers everywhere, throughout time and space yearn for. They are gifts.

These moments give utter reassurance that you are on the right track, and that everything really is ok. Perfect really.

I remember the first time my consciousness and ego really dissolved, and I felt that presence. I was about 16, and I was in my car, leaning back and listening to a electronic music track (no idea what it was called). The track moved into a piece where it was just someone taking incredibly long, slow breaths. I decided to breathe along and the inhalations and exhalations were so long they were just at the edge of my comfort zone.

It was basically my first guided meditation, and soon I felt my borders dissolving, and the gentle, graceful comfort of divine presence pretty much cradling me in their arms.

I don’t know how long the moment lasted, but I do know I felt bolstered, reinforced, refreshed and rejuvenated. I knew then with certainty (though I had never really doubted), that I was not alone.

I had grown up in the Catholic church, and I knew intuitively that they didn’t have even close to the full story- no one religion did. I think I may have considered myself agnostic at the time, as I was exploring spirituality in different forms… Trying things and ideas on for size, to see if they resonated.

This experience moved me away from the more intellectually oriented reason based philosophical pursuits of knowing God (I had been unknowingly following a sort of jnana yoga path, as I was pretty rational and intellectual at the time), and moved me towards the mystical, experiential, devotional and ecstatic.

I’ve had plenty of other peak experiences since then, including the one I wrote about here: http://wp.me/p12dXx-S and I’ll write more about them as time goes on. They’ve been fairly diverse since I have a bit of a hodgepodge of practices and interests, but they all have brought me to the same place- a place of connection with the divine. A place of utter peace and comfort.  I’ve found that place through dance, hooping,  meditation, prayer, kirtan (mantra work), in the arms of my beloved, and I’ve just wound up there spontaneously.

There are many (innumerable) paths that lead to the same place.  How you get there doesn’t matter, only the experience does. That’s what it’s all about, and that’s why we’re here. For the Experience.

Weather and Mood

Anyone living in Alberta this year has noticed we have had some unusual weather. It’s rained so much here in Edmonton that I’ve felt like I was living in Vancouver, or Ireland.

At first it was fun. It was novel and different. I love the rain.  I love the way it cleans everything up, makes everything smell, and how it smells after the rain. It was even fun to bike home in the rain at times. But after a few months of this, with sunny warm summer days few and far between- it started to get to me.  It turns out I love the rain far more when it doesn’t rain all the time.

I stopped biking to work, cause I was sick of being soaked on a surprise shower riding home. I stopped dancing in the backyard with my hoop as often, cause the ground was water logged and the grass was full of mushrooms. I stopped feeling as joyous as I normally do.

I’m a creature that loves the sun, and the sky, and the moon. I love being outside, but it turns out I don’t like constantly being soggy. I always had a suspicion I would have a hard time living in Vancouver. The sun energizes me, and without it I start to become as withdrawn and gloomy as an overcast day.

We have beautiful weather today and I’ve been outside, playing in it. Recharging myself and enjoying the warm fall day. But I don’t want to get carried away. It’s going to be nice for the next couple days, but I know the rain will come back.

Is there a way to stockpile sunshine? I’m going to try, somehow. Soak more of it up in my veins. But while I’m out there, I want to start thinking about ways of making it through the rain, and snow when it returns.

I have a few strategies dressing for the weather always helps.

Making outside for fresh air even if it’s gross out helps too.

Taking a mid winter vacation somewhere sunny and warm works, but isn’t always feasible.

I know there are lightbooks out there that you can use to supply yourself with some more “natural sunlight rays” indoors that work like a charm for people with seasonal affective disorder, but I don’t think I suffer from that (although I’m sure using the lightbook couldn’t hurt).

Supplementing Vitamin D helped me last year when I was stuck inside with a broken ankle in March.

I’m going to be on the lookout for more things to combat the weariness that can sneak up on me when I don’t get enough sunshine, but for now, I’m just gonna go out and play in it.

What strategies do you have in place for the coming darkness ahead?

Patience is a virtue I’m slowly cultivating

It’s definitely a work in progress. I find that the older I get, the more patient I tend to be. Unless I’m tired, or hungry. Then I have about as much patience as a 3-year-old.

I’m incredibly grateful that my partner has the patience of a saint and that he has the wisdom to understand when it’s necessary for me to be patient in order to stay sane. I am also incredibly grateful he is patient with me when I am not patient with myself, and that he is willing to point it out. Sometime I need someone to tell me when I’m frustrated that the only thing I can do, is be patient.

I grew up in the microwave/MTV/internet generation. I understand intellectually that sometimes things take time, but I’m really not all that used to waiting.

I  tend to be a problem solver, and I’m someone people turn to when they need help with their own problems. I believe that we create our own realities, for the most part. We create our own subjective experiences and we ultimately choose our own destiny. Because of this belief, and my ability to orchestrate and choreograph most of what I want out of life, sometimes I forget that for somethings only time will help. This spring when I broke my ankle, I was immersed in a situation that could only improve with time. Lots of lessons were learned, including many about patience.

I  have found that the most effective way for me to be patient, is to live in the moment.

When you stay in the present, you aren’t looking forward to the future, so there is nothing to be impatient about.

When you are trying to escape from one moment, into a future one when you think things will be better, you can’t help but be impatient.

But there is no way to speed up time (well, not in this dimension anyway). There is no way to skip forward into the moment you want, so really all the wanting and wishing and impatience is just a sadistic form of masochism. You’re torturing yourself for no good reason.

Peace lies in the acceptance of the present moment. It’s all you have, so you may as well savor it. Time will pass, regardless of how patient or impatient we are.

It’ll just feel like longer when you impatiently try to rush towards something else.

Changing My Perspective

I am usually a really, really positive person.

I’ve been told my super power is to find a silver lining in any dark cloud. It is true that I can find a positive spin for absolutely anything, but every once  in a while I give in to circumstances and allow myself to feel crappy. It’s partly laziness,  sometimes feeling hard done by because things didn’t go exactly as I expected them to and sometimes it’s just me being too dang hard on myself.

Once I start the negative self talk “This is stupid… This is unfair… I’m gonna get sick… I’m gonna get fat after eating all that….”,  I create that reality for myself. Whatever I’m saying is exactly what happens. It spirals, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and leads to more and more negativity.

Fortunately for me, these moods never last long. A day or two max. Unfortunately for me, I realize the whole time that I am choosing my narrative, and that the negativity is simply indulgence. That adds some extra guilt to the whole package ’cause I know all it would take to pull myself up and out of the hole is a change in my perspective.

It takes some practice, but we are able to control our thoughts, which in turn control our emotions, bodies, actions and even our deeds.  Seriously, there is something to this whole ‘positive thinking’ thing people go on about. It also works in the other direction. Your actions and bodies can change your emotions and thoughts as well. For example, if you fake smile  or laugh when you are feeling down  you will actually start to feel better. There is a biofeedback between your body and brain that works almost like magic.

This is the main idea behind the science of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which literally means programing your neural pathways with your words.  People have been using words, mantras,  affirmations, incantations and all other manner of words with focused intention behind them, to change or create a certain feeling, emotion or reality for a millenia. There is actually a science behind it. NLP explains the physiological process involved and some amazing quantum physics (outside the scope of this post) explain the how.

But regardless of how it works, I do know affirmations change our thought patterns and in turn create our reality.

My affirmations for this week are:

I am healthy, happy and whole.

I am peaceful and joyful in every moment.

I am unfazed by the little irritations that life brings.

I bring joy, light and love to every situation I encounter.

I am patient.

I practice loving kindness and compassion with myself and all others beings I encounter.

I am love.

What affirmations will change your perspective today?

Familiar Faces

I’ve been noticing for the last while that everyone I see looks vaguely familiar. Sometimes more than vaguely- I’ve seen lots of dopplegangers of friends and family too. But it’s usually just more of a feeling of familiarity. Someone looks like someone I know, or just looks like I’ve seen them before.

As I’ve been pondering this relatively new phenomenon, I thought that perhaps it’s just living in this neighborhood.  I spend most of my time in the community, and  as it has almost everything you need,  most people living around here tend to spend time in the immediate area as well. Maybe I’ve just seen all these people around here before- at the grocery stores, banks, while working in two neighborhood restaurants, and wandering the streets.

But it happens when I venture out of this immediate area as well. I find people looking, and feeling familiar everywhere now.  I think it has to do with years of believing that we are all one.

We all come from the same source energy, and while we are different, individual beings- we still have a connection to each other that can never be broken.

I have been intermittently practicing a spritual exercise from  sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s book The Face Before I Was Born: A spiritual autobiography (1997).  (Highly recommend this book, btw- It opened my eyes to the romance that can be had in the mystical relationship with God).

The practice is  to live in the world as though there were only you, and God.

It is a life changing experience to feel what the world feels like when you acknowledge the sacred permeating everything.

I remember, I was sitting in a coffee shop reading the book when I came across the passage and my perspective shifted immediately.

I had always felt, and believed that we were all made of the same spiritual stuff. That we are all sparks of divinity and have the essence of creation within us.

But I had never really FELT is before. I was surrounded by God, at Starbucks.

I felt something in me shift. I felt lighter, and safer than I have ever felt before. I realized that every person, every non living thing too, had a divine nature. The essence of everything (including both light and darkness) is sacred. It is spirit.

It felt like being in an altered state of consiousness. This instant mediation created a shift in my perspective that lasted intensely for days, but as most things do, it slowly faded (although never back to my starting point).

I would occasionally remember this exercise and then be swept back up in the marvel of living amongst god, but it’s been awhile- probably months since I’ve thought of it. It wasn’t until this morning when I sat down to write this post about familiar faces everywhere that I realized it is simply an outgrowth of this journey of spiritual discovery.

It’s a spiral path. We all takes steps forward, and feel we have a closer connection to the divine than ever. Then life happens and you get caught up and it feels like you take some steps back, but when you move forward again, you are closer than you were before, and realize you were walking the spiral the whole time. Spiraling inwards, towards home.

Namaste

The Power of Awesome

We all have the power of awesome within us, waiting to be unleashed.

We just need to be reminded of that.

Enter Barney Stinson,

Stage right,  ready to take on the world, and sleep with as many sluts as will have him- while wearing a magnificent suit.

Barney is character on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother,  played by Neil Patrick Harris. He is also one of the most important pop culture philosophers since The Beatles and Lisa Simpson.

Sure he’s a womanizing, self centered jerk who likes girls with daddy issues. But he’s also a good friend, and a man who knows how to  suit up and seize life by the balls and shake it.

Barney’s shared many nuggets of wisdom over the  5 seasons of the show, but it’s really his enthusiasm and his firm grasp of the power of his own mind as the deciding factor in his destiny that I love.

Barney’s wisest words : “When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead! True story!”

It’s The Secret, in a suit. Using the law of attraction by controlling your thoughts to shape your reality.

You can watch the clip here:

I’ve long known the power I have over my own mind, and that we choose what our mood will be. We can’t control outside circumstances, just how we react to them. But it’s hard to always practice that. Sometimes we need reminders.  In situations like these, it’s helpful to ask WWBD? (What would Barney do?).

A few weeks ago, I woke up after a crappy sleep, feeling angry and thinking it was going to be a terrible day. Then, I decided to be awesome instead. And I was, all day- even after 12 hours at work. I think it helped that I suited up when I walked in to work. There is just something powerful about wearing a tie.

When it comes to thinking WWBD?, sometimes the specific answers aren’t  going to be incredibly helpful in your particular situation. For instance, Barney’s reaction might be to “Suit up!” or to concoct an elaborate scheme to convince a girl that a future version of him has traveled back in time to tell her that she needs to sleep with present Barney so that he might save the world from global warming.

That’s ok. As with any role model, you really just need to concentrate on the most important part of their message.

So think, WWBD? next time you feel sad, then be awesome instead!

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