Thursday, December 21, 2006

Feel the love

If you are reading this message right now, please know that you are loved. During this season, make a special effort to feel the love, be with it. Give it freely and revel in all that you receive. Open up to it and embrace it. It's a wonderful feeling and it's too easy to filter it or hold it back out of fear. So enjoy being loved and share that feeling with as many people as you can. And love yourself no matter what happens or what you do.

May your holiday season be bright and joyful and your new year filled with wonder.
Peace and love,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Different Paths

I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying a happy holiday season. Some of my recent observations may be a bit of review for some of you, but I had to share the thoughts while they were fresh on my mind. Hopefully you will find them relevant in your life at this point as well.

We're all on different paths in life. In fact, there are no two people alike and, therefore, no two people who are taking the exact same path in life. We're all striving for something slightly different based on our own set of beliefs about the best way to get there. We also like to seek out people who share similar paths. We enjoy being in their company and sharing stories about our common path. But, no matter what paths we share with others, ours is still a little different. This makes it difficult to identify fully with another person and often leads to misunderstandings and even conflict.

However, we are all in fact on the same overall path. We're all divinely complex beings getting through life the best we know how, whether we realize it or not. Therein lies the heart of learning unconditional compassion. I think that acknowledging the commonalties that link us all is the best way to make us better people.

The conflict and suffering that arise as a result of our lack of understanding that we are all on a common path can be a vital teaching tool. If there were no suffering or conflict in the world around us and in our personal lives, we wouldn't be challenged to strive for something. It would also make it more difficult to learn gratitude for all we have to be thankful for since we would lack a frame of reference.

An example of this has to do with the way the Buddha started his journey toward enlightenment. He was brought up in a luxurious environment insulated from the harsh world outside the palace walls. When he was in his 20s he was allowed to venture out into the world where he came face to face with suffering people for the first time. He was so overwhelmed with it that he left his family and kingdom behind in search of a reason why there was so much suffering in the world. I suspect if he had never been confronted with suffering, he never would have found enlightenment.

So, suffering is never meaningless. It's a constant reminder that we are all human and prone to making mistakes. On a greater scale though, suffering can serve as a wake up call to the core love in us all that's just waiting to be let out. We have to love ourselves for doing the best we know how, and spread that love to everyone else doing the same thing, no matter how far off base they seem to be in our eyes.

Peace and love to you and yours during this holiday season, and may everything go exactly as it needs to for you to reach your ultimate potential. That's what's happening anyway, isn't it?
Take care,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A few tips on life

Hey guys, how’s it going. In between each email I send to you, I think of at least a handful that I would like to share, but can’t make the time to type them up every time they occur to me. Plus, I suspect you would get sick of hearing from me that often. Anyway, here are some of the tid bits I wanted to share with you this week that might be beneficial to you and your life.

First of all, I have compiled a list of attitudes that are revisited quite a bit in the literature about obtaining joy. I will try not to spend too much time on each item but still do them some justice.

Gratitude - Always be thankful for everything you have and have done. Spend some time each day just being grateful for everything you are. If you ever catch yourself revisiting a time when you did something foolish and getting embarrassed by it all over again (something I catch myself doing from time to time) forgive yourself and remember that everyone is doing what he or she is thinks is right at that particular time in life. We can not fault ourselves for making mistakes, it comes with the territory and helps shape us into the wonderful people we are today. Be thankful and not regretful.

Openness - This is basically being open to all experiences and people without judgment. We are lightning quick to categorize people and experiences when we encounter them, so it seems difficult to catch much less rectify. However, it’s important to realize that we are doing ourselves more harm than good by judging other people and events. They too are doing the best they know how at this given point in their lives and prone to make mistakes just as we have in the past and will likely do in the future. We have to also be careful not to judge ourselves nor think about how others might be judging us based on what we do or say. It’s a slippery slope.

Compassion - This is something that I have been “preaching” about for a while now and is very interrelated with being open. However, this goes a step beyond simply not judging someone to be an egomaniac. Compassion means showing compassion toward everyone regardless of their predispositions for annoying habits or poor behavior. Try to remember that we are all connected and share a common bond, and that we are all products of our environment. Realize that those who suffered most when they were young are often the ones who cause the most suffering when they are older. Try to be empathetic with their situation and show them what it’s like to be kind as they may not have seen it first hand. You will be surprised at the effect this can have on a person.

Mindfulness - This involves paying attention to what you are thinking and what you are experiencing in as much as possible. You really can’t begin to make things happen in your life without it. If you are just floating through life on your daily routine and not paying attention to what you are doing, then your life will fly by without feeling very fulfilling. If you are truly happy by just following your routine, then please don’t let this stop you. If you feel like something is lacking or that you could be happier or just want to experience true joy, then start paying attention and consider doing some basic meditation during the day. It may take a little practice to do at first, but it feels good to do and is good exercise for living.

Present - Try to remain in the present moment as much as you can. We spend a great deal of our time worrying about an impending engagement or future obligation or goal, as well as reliving past events for further investigation. Once you start paying attention to your thoughts, you will realize this is basically what we spend most of our time doing. We are well trained in that way by our daily routine. You have to try to stop to realize you’re somewhere else in time. However, there gets to be a point in there where you can still be present while planning or working or making breakfast. If you can realize the past doesn’t matter and realize that worrying about the future doesn’t change it, you can realize the importance of being in the present moment. It too feels good to be in that place, though I still can not sustain it for long periods without being sucked back into my routine or typical behavior.

I’m going to wrap up by saying this, “Give freely and forgive quickly.” It came to as I was waking up from a dream I don’t remember but that I had to write down. It’s important to forgive yourself for everything you’ve done and expand that forgiveness to everyone you know, past and present. People are just doing what they think is right at the time. They are also constantly learning from their mistakes and trying to do what they think is better. In short, we are all capable of change and I think that interacting with people who are trying to embrace these key things in their lives is the best medicine anyone could be exposed to.

There’s a lot more I would like to share with you, but I will leave it at that for now. I hope all is well. Stay in touch.
Take care,